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…
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.
This first one, above, was actually written (from the 60s?) on today’s date!?! Woh!
Dunny paper, loo paper, bog roll,toilet paper, toilet tissue, papier toilette, PQ (this one is good – it’s French and so tres elegant – it’s pronounced ‘pai-cue’, short for papier cul,’arsepaper’)… So many glorious ways to label a roll of perforated paper that wipes your bits. But whatever the name, there is a fashion here in France that never goes out of fashion – your PQ in pretty old pink.
Forget baguettes, 2CVs, the Eiffel Tower… Yes, when I think of a recurring image over here, I think of pink PQ. In almost every home you visit, you help yourself to, pink. In any cafe, bar or restaurant toilet, pink. Have a stroll down any supermarket toilet tissue aisle and you goggle over mountains of… pink. Good luck if you’re searching for non-bleached, non-patterned or basic white. They’ll be the few small piles hidden amidst the enormous volumes of joli rose – or once in a while spotted in a public loo!
Why? In fifteen years of frequent pondering (nearly always whilst sitting on someone else’s loo, reaching over for their dainty pink squares) – and asking most French people I know – I still don’t have an answer for it. I’m by no means the first person to be asking either – I have friends! Loads of them. There are millions of internet search engine results concerning this very discussion in both French and English. Some bloody funny theories too. But still no answers!
It doesn’t explain the pink, but here’s a bit of trivia – correct me if I’m wrong! – about the French and their PQ, found in my search for THE answer: it is said toilet paper was introduced in this country at the beginning of the 20th Century, but as it was long considered a luxury item, it was only from the 1960s its use became widespread.