The dogs wagged little tails but didn’t leave their bed as I made a quick cup of tea. Helen had left me a jar of her home made raspberry jam. I quietly closed the door and was off into the still, bright morning. Half an hour later I was wandering past the early stall holders slowly setting out their wares. My first purchase was made within two minutes – a pile of lovely cream Sarreguemines dinner plates – from a man of exceptional girth in a blue and white tee shirt that gaped above his stomach. He was missing four front teeth and beamed at me as I handed over my euros. What completed the vision was the little black sequined evening bag that he’d tucked under his arm, presumably before setting it out on his table. Other stalls were still setting up and the usual offerings were being brought out of houses, or unpacked from crates and boxes.
Remelard is a delightful town. Many houses fronting onto the street had opened up their large coaching sheds with earth floors, full of cobwebs and ancient detritus. Here all manner of objects were laid out on trestle tables. Back in the sunlight, I came to a stall laid with beautiful monogrammed sheets. The woman there had set out a long table in front of her house and all generations of her family had come down for the weekend. There were babies and daughter’s in law, and friends and sons, all taking their turn to bounce a baby on their knee or make a sale. I stopped to look at her pristine linens but showed her my hands all dirty with rust and dust. “J’ai les mains toutes sales,” I said regretfully. She said to her daughter, “take this lady through to the kitchen to wash her hands,” and smilingly remarked, “you see it is very convenient when your stall is right outside your house!” I was ushered into a surprisingly long, tiled entrance hall past large, shuttered rooms to the kitchen at the back of the house, full of bread and butter and jam and cherries and something delicious baking in the oven. The father of the house appeared in the doorway and, seeing me, joked, “ah! and here’s yet another person in my house!” Clean handed, I was escorted back and purchased two lovely linen sheets. I passed by again later, ferrying jugs, boxes, dishes, paintings, planters and stools back to Sylvie’s car. I held up my once again dirty hands to her and she laughed – “I still have lots of water in the tap for you!” They were a delightful family.
Francis and Martine were there and as always I appreciated their good taste and the palette of muted greys, pinks and whites. Ah, said Martine, I have something you will like. She produced little bundles of faded rose fabric tied up with blue ribbon. These and lots of lovely things were rifled up, and Francis helped me to the car with a very heavy cast iron urn – “merci et a bientot, a la prochaine”. The day was getting hot and I needed to get back, but was wishing I could stop at a few other markets….