Shopping, Eating and Exploring

Come along with me and discover some off-the beaten paths in Southwest France

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I'm Sorry, I Don't Speak English

My friend, and co-owner of our little house in France, often talk about "my worst day in France". Maybe, because we have so many wonderful days, the bad ones really stand out as something special.

A large part of the problem, of course, lies with us. Not having even a tenuous grip on the language especially when we purchased the home. We each had two bedrooms to furnish and decorate. Including the beds. So our visit to the bed factory, where we were sure we were being overcharged for simple box springs by an owner who had never spoken to an American. Armed with our tiny French dictionaries we were totally at the mercy of Msr. Bedfactory. I must say, Sally persevered and we have two of the most expensive box springs in the world. I never was able to finish my order, and that was a good thing. A box spring for a double bed would never have fit up our stairs.

At another time, I was in a fancy grocery store in Paris with my friend Sandy. She asked, in what I thought was fine French, "Je voudrais une bon boutille du Burgoyne" Which is, " I would like a good bottle of Burgundy wine". I was on the next aisle listening when the clerk said, in perfect English, "I am sorry, I don't speak English".

It was about then that I decided French was never going to just "come", I would need help.
My two favorite Sally's

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The planning for a Spring trip is well underway. (Just keeping my fingers crossed for perfect weather) I particularly love to be in France for the May shows. Dealers are coming off the long winter of collecting (a few buyers) anxious to push their merchandise. It's great to see what new shops have opened, and a little sad to see old friends who have closed. Then there are all those special monday holidays in May, which means extra shopping.

Here is Michael at Monpanzier Market

Weather is generally pleasant, days are starting to be long. When I arrive at the first of May, it will be dark arround 9pm, by the time I leave at the end of May, the sun sets after 10pm. Heavenly to sit in the garden with some excellent local wine playing "show and tell" to see what everyone has purchased that day.

The special markets take place in a variety of towns. Some, like Monpanzier are great destinations all by themselves. The market just gilds the lily. Others, like Montpon, are close by towns that may lack a bit of charm, make up for it with great shopping.

As I mentioned, the Spring Trip is scheduled from May 10th till May 21st. Included in the price is a double occupancy room in a newly remodeled country home (inluding salt water pool, full kitchen, washer/dryer), airport/train pickups, all ground transportation, some meals, help with translations, and an opportunity to ship large items home, also an overnight trip to St. Jean de Luz or the Ile de Re'. Price is $1800.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Vist Alameda Point Antiques and Collectible Show!!

The first Sunday of every month finds me at Booth K-10 at Alameda Point Antiques and Collectible Show. At about 5:30 am. Really. It's really quite a scene. 800 dealers, sometimes more, sometimes less. Items are required to be 20 years old, or older. Of course, people always try to push the envelope with that, but most of us stick to the rule.

I share booth space with Bill Gold, who sells all things that go tick-tock. One of a kind vintage watches and clocks are sold with a one-year warenty. People come for the stories, and Bill has a millon of them.

I sell all the things I pick up in my travels. One month I will bring a lot of vintage linens, the next it will be French enamel or Quimper. There are always the odd bits, deer antlers, chocolate molds, vintage ribbons and French Postcards.

Next show is tomorrow, March 4th, and then we have April 2. The first person who comes by and mentions this blog, will receive a free pass to a future Alameda Show.

The photo today is of Robin, the owner of Ch Beaugard in Villefranche de Lonchat during the crush of 2006.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Antiques in France.

Plans are being made for two new trips to France! The first will be May 10th till the 21st. Spring is a wonderful time to visit the Southwest of France. Vineyards are at the earliest stages of growth, the red poppies and wild flowers are blooming, the special strawberries that only grow in the Dordogne are available in May. Best of all, there are three holidays, and that mean extra brocante (antique) fairs!

Last years trip in September was a lot of fun, and with a lot of shopping. We visited vide greniers, foires a la brocante, brocante shops, and antique shops. A vide grenier, is literally, "empty out the attic". Many villages have these once a year. They run from simple village wide garage type sales, to more elaborate fetes with childrens rides, entertainment, dancing and of course food. These are the places to find really great bargins.

The spring trip promises more of the same, with a visit to St. Jean de Luz, on the coast near the Spanish border for a special market located in the Basque town of Aheteze. This trip is always a lot of fun, St Jean de Luz is best know for the marriage of Marie-Therese of Spain (age 14) to the future King of France. It also has wonderful beach side resturants with great seafood. Nearby towns are Biarritz and Bayonne. (famous for the first chocolate production inFrance, ham, and espadrills)

More details will be available shortly, and you can contact me by email.