The market at St Christophe


Off into the deserted morning before 6am, leaving Graham to slumber. The first mandate, as always, to find a good parking spot near the market. Some dealers were just arriving and the morning’s buying started slowly. Lilianne was carefully lifting off plastic sheeting from her stall. She said she’d barely slept because of the rain and wind pummelling on her van roof through the night. Long white marquees set up with trestle tables and benches did a great trade in coffee and croissants, restoring the damp populace to some vigour. Then it was off for more buying, up and down the aisles on saturated grass, that got muddier and muddier.

I picked up some very old wooden balusters, ideal for making lamp bases. Another stall was rich with small oil paintings, ceramics and display boxes covered with chicken wire (or rabbit wire as they say in France) full of absinthe spoons, fob watches, and silver ware, making a handsome collection. I was enchanted by the stall of one young woman selling beautiful teeny letters to stitch onto linen, jam letterjars full of beads, lace and ribbon on old wooden bobbins, bottles of potions, little boxes for rouge, a pill box in pale pink, a faded rose red tube of Taffetta d’Angleterre. She had found no indication of what this might be used she said, unrolling the shiny pink waxy paper to show me. She had a lovely touch for the intricate, faded and beautiful, assembling them together to give them a new context and significance.

On another stand two 18th century balusters, gessoed and peeling, caught my eye. They were displayed with strands of ivy and a stuffed squirrel. As I was negotiating with the dealer a little girl pointed and exclaimed, “Eh, Maman, Maman, voila encore une écureuil morte!” (Look Mummy, another dead squirrel!) Every market will usually have a stuffed fox, a handful of birds and one or two squirrels in attendance.

I also settled on some heavy industrial storage, a buffet to restore and six rush seated chairs, along with a mass of smaller items. Porterage was apparently supplied by the local football team who, when I was ready to load up, were all at lunch. I told the woman in charge of the big heavy metal trolleys that I would do “le self-service” which caused a bemused look or two. Completely drenched and tired by the time everything was secured in Sylvie, I was definitely ready to collect Graham and head on. It had been a great market nevertheless.


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