Paris postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' - 'Place de la Republique'
old Paris postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ – ‘Place de la Republique’

Up early this morning and dashed out to a village ‘vide-grenier’…  it’s a type of garage sale, but instead of just one household selling their wares on the street, it’s a whole village full!   If you’ve never been to one, they are just brilliant and full of potential treasure – and trash (as many would say!).

I’ve got to say I’m a little hooked and it’s one of those rare mornings where I’m ready to spring out of bed at 6am.  There’s even get a slight adrenaline rush as I jostle for a car park close to the sectioned-off streets and head towards the first stand displaying its wares.  I’m on a mission –  my purse is heavy with coins and my chest is literally bursting with excitement.  Sicko, you might say.  But really!  Vide-greniers (this translates as ’empty the attic’) offer all sorts of wonderful objects. And hey it’s in France, so for me that makes it totally exotic (mind you, being far from home, kangaroos and gums are also completely exotic for me now).  It’s not everyday you can buy the old scribbled-in picture books from the elderly monsieur’s childhood collection, or the 60s flowery frock from Madame’s hand-me -downs.  I’ve even picked up a whopping Le Creuset cast iron pot  for 8 Euros (now this find was in the half-dark it was so early and I had a torch!).   Mmmn, a post on vide grenier treasures will follow!

These ‘village garage sales’ are held on weekends (Sunday is the big day for our region)and start from around 8am, with people beginning to pack up around 4pm.  But if you want to find the ‘better’ stuff and real bargains, it’s best to head out as early as 7am (ie 8 Euro cookpot) – the time where you’ll rub shoulders with the ‘professionals’ already out for the hunt.

Here’s a few pics of some local vide greniers to whet the appetite for some…

vg 8
aaargh!!! this is a sight that sends me CRAZY

vg 2

vg 1

vg 10-11

vg 9

vide grenier 7

vg 7
I just loved this lady’s pricing for her old linen
vg 12
Lilas’ already an old hand at these things
vg 5
…that’s her with the Viewfinder

Today the weather has been pretty dire, so I headed out early and came home early (it has been raining much of this weekend – not something we’re needing when it is already difficult to access the vineyards by tractor, we’re hoping the forecast for heat for this week dries everything up).

I came home with a few postcards amongst my finds.

Goutez nos olives

This first one, above, was actually written (from the 60s?) on today’s date!?!  Woh!

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today's
Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today’s

But have a look at these beauties…

'Rond Point'
‘Rond Point’ (the guy on the far right side is to blame for this purchase)
...not much to be said
…not much to be said
guitar chick
You go girl, stroke those strings…
st eloi
this guy’s a fave
frenchie loveeers
check those fellas (mounds of muscle)

…and on the above theme, an old recipe postcard
…love an old recipe postcard

But I do love a pretty card too.

sailboat postcard

another old Paris postcard:  'Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite'
another old Paris postcard: ‘Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite’


Autumn in La Liviniere
Autumn colour in La Liviniere

It’s here!?!!

I must admit I often feel flat at this time of year, well for the first few weeks anyway – no more bare legs and t-shirts, no more swimming outdoors, cold dashes out of the shower…  But finally I somehow get into the swing of it and embrace the warm fires inside, the hearty meals and walks in the brisk air.  And after so many years of braving the cold INDOORS when I rented in Australia, I am loving and embracing the central heating everywhere.

Autumn in the Minervois

orange plane trees
I must admit I took this shot a while back, but I still love it
Autumn plane trees
Plane trees along the Canal du Midi

Yes, Autumn has arrived but thankfully with all its magical colour.  It’s making me think ORANGE!

kids marvelling at the famous 'Baked Bean'  parked on a village street...the lady owner steps in, la proprietaire de la voiture,  ...Rrrowrrrr
kids marvelling at the famous ‘Baked Bean’ parked on a village street
…the lady owner steps in, la proprietaire de la voiture, …Rrrowrrrr!

I’m loving this colour right now and thought I’d put together a few of my favourite ‘orange’ pictures…  And f you’ve wandered around this blog already, you might have picked up on the fact that I do have a little thing for collages.  I’m pathetic, once I like something, I can’t stop! (my lovely girlfriends had diagnosed me at the age of 14 with O.C.D).

So hulahup, Barbatruc, here’s another one for you.

Orange collage
Or-ange Co-llage

wrapped in France #2

“1.  a bundle or parcel.  2.  that in which anything is packed, as a case, crate, etc.  5.  to put into wrappings or a container.”  – ‘Package, packaging’ from the Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 1981

Do you remember when I let it slip that I have a thing for packaging?  Mmn, yep, still have it and lately I feel like I’m being bombarded with even more wonderful examples of it, everywhere.  At home, at the markets, at the vide-greniers (the village garage sales – something I must absolutely tell you about soon), at friends’ houses,  in the guise of gifts from friends…  everywhere.

Colours, texts, fonts, old, new, shabby or shiny…  I can’t get enough of it – and if there’s a text or a word here or there in French, even better!  It’s amazing how much you can improve your vocabulary just reading the fine print!  (and probably a lot more educational than my dippings into, shock, horror – Voici).

At the moment I’m getting a buzz out of OLD packaging and the eg’s here are from either home (my mother-in-law is a great help here) – or from stands in the markets and vide-greniers.  I understand why people start up businesses selling this stuff – there are crazy people out there, like me, who love it!  But a lot of it can be quite expensive so I’m happy to admire it and ask permission to take a photo or two.  Yes, I think I am mad!

So here’s a second instalment of boxes, tins, bottles I’ve seen here in France lately.  I should add however, that not all these products are French.  Some come from next door in Spain (thanks to Vincent who is aware of my condition) or further afar.  But they seemed too lovely to leave out.

I hope you enjoy them!

tins of pois chiches
Tins of ‘pois chiches’ (chick peas) at the supermarket yesterday. I thought you Miss Nick might like these!
Pineau de Francois Premier
I love this bottle of Pineau from the Charentes – “Pineau Francois 1er” Not only is the label just fabulous, but the sweet, fortified wine, a speciality of the Charentes region (near Cognac, not far from Bordeaux) wine inside, is DELICIOUS! It is a family-run winery, established in the 1930s by Gaston Riviere, with the wine now made by his grandson (who greets you at his cellar in leather pants).  He said it was Gaston himself who designed and drew the label and there is a great quote on it – by him?… the ranslation:
“Women often change, Mad are those who trust them. Only this Pineau remains faithful to his King.”
Olympic Thermor iron
Don’t need one, but loved this box for an iron at the vide-grenier
Ortiz El Velero tuna
Ortiz ‘El Velero’ tuna.
Merci Vinnie.
a few old ‘bonbons’ tins (sweets, lollies or candy to us)
deux pigeons
‘Les Deux Pigeons’ (the two pigeons) allumettes – an old matchbox found amongst other treasures at my mum-in-law’s. Merci Christine!
Chromex hair dryer
…don’t need this either. But just love the bangs and make-up.
Ippodo tea
Adore this tin.
But it went back home with V.
carving knife
I almost wanted to buy the old knife just so I could have the sleeve it slid into!
My body moisturiser.  Mamy  put me onto this.   The ‘pharmaceuticals’ look is big here, but I love it for its smell
apple box
Spied this at Emmaus. Tres simple, no text but I LOVE red apples
Sanchez Romate sherry vinegar
Another item from Vinnie in Spain and oh so delicious, “Sanchez Romate Vinaigre de Jerez” – sherry vinegar
old packets
old packets for bonbons, dried beans, cream cheese…
LEO dried peas
no, it’s not a French product but it made me laugh when I saw this at the supermarket… the first time I read the box I thought it said ‘with sleeping tablet’
You try it!
Kusmi teas
a favourite at home – the whole range is great together
Saw this Offenbach record, “Gaiete Parisienne”, in Emmaus and loved the image
Caille and Yoghurt
The ‘Caille’ desserts are delicious. Seems like this style tub has been used for much longer than I realised.
vw car collage
Once a VW owner, always a fan.
Certainly didn’t need this, but I fell in love with the radio-controlled VW at the vide-grenier.  It is the sedan version of my very first car, a Type 3 station wagon that I called ‘Fritz’. The price was extremely high. But the man was kind enough to let me take the photo.

whole lotta love

And now for a little ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!!!!!!

Leaving the vino and the vineyards aside for a moment, the wannabe groupie in me enjoyed a night of bliss this Summer, standing 15 metres away from this man and hearing him sing!…

it's him!!!!!
So close yet so far away.  Pine…  And those pants are pretty roomy compared to what he used to get around in. I guess he is in his 60’s…

Yes, I’m in love.

It was euphoric listening to Robert Plant do his thing and yes I want to yell about it out loud!!

I have two big brothers who introduced me to all sorts of music when I was little – The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed, Simon and Garfunkel, and one of the big ones for me, Led Zeppelin.  I’ll never forget the first time one of them played me ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the tape recorder and made me listen to it the whole way through…  My brother wanted me to fully appreciate the beauty of this track, talking me through it, wanting me to understand that a heavy rock group could play such gentle, melodic music.  I think I was about seven?  But the look of despair on the ballet teacher’s face when I asked her to hit play and ‘Stairway’ accompanied my choreographed piece for the annual ballet concert.   I don’t think she appreciated Led Zeppelin’s melody and I had her scurrying to hit pause as the track started cranking up.  Mmm, not quite the family with mountains of classical recordings to choose from really.  The ballet didn’t last long either.

Anyway, even if it wasn’t Led Zeppelin playing, this was pretty damn cool!

Robert Plant may be in his mid-sixties, and he might not strutt his stuff (in those incredibly, impossibly tight jeans) with the same force, but the hair flick was there, the clapping of silver-jewelled hands along with his musicians was there… elegant, humble and generous.  I always thought that he sang and moved in perfect unsion with his musicians – like he himself was a fine instrument – and yes, he still ROCKS!  Daggy I know, but tears were streaming down my face as – quelle bonne surprise! – he sang a few of my favourite Led Zep songs (‘Ramble On’ would you believe it, Soir!).  Heaven.  The deranged music fan in me had me struggling to get up the front, elbowing blokes 4foot taller than me, so I could be as close to Him as possible… So I could imagine he was singing only for me, would let me get up there and bang on a tambourine for him (I would be so cool and discreet) and invite me back later for a beer…  Dream on.  In fact I was stuck behind a painful dude in a baseball cap who refused to budge, so that he could film the entire event on his puny mobile phone (so that pathetic fans like me can then look up our favourite concert moments on YouTube).

The evening was gloriously warm and the setting for the concert was perfect.  It was held in the ancient ‘Les Arenes de Nimes’ – one of the best-preserved Roman ampitheatres in the world, dating from the 1st century A.D. – smack-bang in the middle of Nimes, a beautiful town one hour’s drive north-east of Montpellier.  It felt surreal taking in all the old stone forms circling us, while watching Robert Plant and the Band of Joy in action – the figures of the security guards walking along the very top perimeter of the arena looked like guards patrolling a gladiator scene.

the spectacular les arenes de Nimes
outside the concert at les Arenes de Nimes
les arenes de Nimes
old postcard of Les Arenes of Nimes

But like all your favourite concerts, it was over in an instant and I screamed like I was 18 again with my hands in the air, begging for more (and my last chance for that beer).

No chance.  I was going home with Benji and our friends afterall, but there was still cause for a celebration!  The beers went down swimmingly well and the next morning another couple of old friends joined me at the table outside the hotel.

a moring fix
a morning fix: un cafe creme and Berocca

Before we left Nimes, we wanted to take in just a little bit more Kulture (we’re deprived out here in the sticks!) and headed to the ‘Carre d’Art’, the contemporary art gallery whose building was conceived by Norman Foster.  It’s well worth a look – for its small collections as well as its architectural form.

I fell in love with these two paintings (funnily enough, both painted in 1961):

'Dans la rue', Mimmo Rotella, 1961
‘Dans la rue’, Mimmo Rotella, 1961
'Bleu d'aout', Jacques Villegle, 1961
‘Bleu d’aout’, Jacques Villegle, 1961

The gallery is a brilliant visual contrast to the ‘Maison Carree’ across the road – an incredibly beautiful Roman temple, thought to be the only temple in the world so well-preserved (sorry for the lack of good images! – my camera had gone on the blink and I was using the phone!??!!).

my crappy mobile phone pic and an old postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' here (a gargae sale in the village) - 'La Rome Francaise'
an old postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ here (a garage sale in the village) – ‘La Rome Francaise’

Amidst all the culture, Nimes still had a little rock n’roll left in it.


…at least some people are still wearing the tight pants.

And I can’t help it, here’s a reminder of the rockstar version:

whoah look at those pants!!
not a bad fit Monsieur Plant