Les feuilles mortes….

We arrived in good time for the Avignon fair next day.  As soon as the gates opened at 8h on the dot, I headed straight to a particular stand in one of the large halls. A stunning pair of painted console tables stood gloriously together, but the dealer was not yet there.  I perched on one of the tables to claim them until he came in, flustered and apologetic.

First autumn leaves had blown around rusty tins and broken clocks on the ground outside, a poetic image of time passing and the end of things.

Once brightly embroidered matador jackets, frayed fauteuils, sitz baths and 18th century beauties on disintegrating canvases all spelled similar messages of youth spent, fashions changing, days long gone.

I bought some faded blue braid because I couldn’t resist it.  It would be added to my “Things To Do Something With” box.  The dealer told me he had emptied an old factory and bought at least one million buttons.  Someone walked past pushing a blue painted wheelbarrow loaded with a large chandelier, it’s droplets swaying and tinkling.

It was a good day for buying chandeliers.  One that I did not buy, but will remain in my memory, was an 18th century Italian chandelier at least 2 m high and 1m 50cm across with a ticket price in the thousands of euros.  Just beautiful.

A dealer in another of the halls was pulling stock towards the front of his stand.  As I stopped to examine an unusual doll’s chair, with a worn silk seat, he stopped to mop his brown.  “Ca a été une émeute!” he said – his stand had been mobbed that morning so far.

Someone sat on the wheel arch in his van eating a baguette sandwich and, when I returned some time later to collect a box of creamy Sarreguemines plates, he was in the same place, still eating a baguette!

At the end of the market we drove round to the main gate and waited to be allowed in to the Parc. We needed to meet up the shipper who was collecting some larger pieces for me.  The security guard on the gate, walkie talkie in hand, was being harangued by several drivers who wanted to get in immediately, and soon the space was snarled up,  with exiting lorries struggling to squeeze out.  One woman kept nudging forward, ignoring the guard.  “Reculez! Reculez!” he angrily gestured.  She pressed forward, shouting at him in return.  All quite heated for us English drivers.

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