Bright coloured posters at every round about and junction had been announcing a vide-grenier at Louzac St André the following Sunday. So here I was setting off down the cypress lined drive as the day awoke across the vines.
A field had been roughly mown and turned into a lumpy car park with people in high vis jackets on duty. Outside their houses villagers were setting out items on camping tables and all around the football pitch small Citroen vans and cars had parked nose to tail. Boots and doors were all open, baskets and boxes being unloaded on wet grass. The first warmth of the sun banishing the drapery of mist.
Along the lines of stalls I trawled; the neatly folded on one stand; a tangle of rusty metal on another: others that sparkled with glass ware. Local producers were selling trays of fragrant Charente melons, bantering with their customers, cutting through orange flesh and offering slices to taste. A visual feast as well. Further on, a group walked towards me with carrier bags full of vibrant red geraniums. These flowers were caught exquisitely in the light as the sun rose behind them.
“Make me any offer, I must sell everything today!” I bought a bright watercolour of flowers from this man who wanted to tell me about the artist, a friend of his late father. “And, you know, she painted a portrait of me when I was ten years old. People said I looked sad in the portrait, but I wasn’t sad – it was just that for a young boy it is a long time to sit still! Ah, and you are English,” he continued. “My father had an English mistress in Paris. My mother detested her… but they divorced, you know….”
Several rough hemp sheets were added to my bag, market baskets, hand made faceted glasses to be collected later, candle sticks, a pretty wallpaper covered marriage coffer and a portrait. As I took the first load back to the van I came across two white, bearded goats nibbling at the side of the lane. Passers by looked on with amusement. By the time I returned a woman was trying to encourage them back to the small holding from whence they had escaped!
After a few more trips back and forth, trolleying composite stone urns, with a quick coffee on the local café terrace, the sun was hot and the market increasingly crowded. Time to get everything back to the domaine where there would certainly be melon for lunch.