A couple of stops on the road home

Still in the Vendée, but on our way north, we stopped at a dark and rambling shop which was also the owner’s house. I bought a large wire oyster basket, and from a bucket by the door I picked up a green metal panel on a stake painted in big letters “Respectez pelouses et fleurs” The sort of sign seen in municipal parks, urging the public to respect the lawns and the flowers. The owner laughed when I asked him the price. “Oh, ce n’est pas a vendre! It is not for sale. My wife’s father stole this – should I in fact be telling you such a story? – from the park in Paris where they have the sailing boats…..” “Les Jardins de Luxembourg?” “Oui, oui, c’est ca, and when I was courting my wife I would visit her house and this sign was always there on the lawn. Now my father-in-law has died and my wife brought the sign home. So you see, I’m so sorry, but I could not sell it to you!”

selshackIt’s not only oysters that are collected along the Vendée coast but also salt. Rustic wooden shacks sold “Fleur de Sel” alongside the many salt pans that formed a patchwork, watery landscape.

chateauWe pulled off the main road for a late lunch and came upon a picturesque canal-side restaurant with adjacent chateau over a wooden bridge and up a lane. One of those pleasurable on-the-road interludes.

There was just time on our journey back the ferry to call in at Sylvie’s. We arrived there in the early evening and managed to fit a large Breton fruit wood desk into the van by taking everything out first. A not unfamiliar occurrence, but very little seems to phase Sylvie anyway. A complete service of Sarreguemines ware, dirty and wrapped in old newspaper was squeezed in too. A lot of it was chipped but still the old creamy white and beigey yellows of the plates look lovely all stacked up.

And lastly, three rare 19th century Felix Potin ceramic jam pots, cream with blue wording. Felix Potin had revolutionised shopping by having his own factories and own branded, packaged foods. The name brought to mind a small, narrow aisled self-service supermarket in Arles back in 1976, when I spent a year in Provence teaching English to teenagers who delighted in putting lizards in my chalk box….

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