18 June 2010

Damn damp

I give you another shot of the deeply red tomatoes on display at the market in Valençay a couple of days ago, because this may be as close as we get to a tomato crop this summer. Unless the weather improves, that is.

Early-season tomatoes at the market in Valençay

We are having another damp, drizzly day. Now I can't really complain — it would be unseemly — considering the horrible storms and flooding people down in the southern part of France have lived through this week. There was considerable damage, and 20 or more people died. The system that caused those storms moved north, but by the time it got to us it produced just gray skies, chilly breezes, and drizzle.

The Loire Valley doesn't often get tropical downpours and cloudbursts. The climate here is temperate. But you know what temperate means: it means it is very seldom really hot, and only nice and warm all too infrequently, and for very short periods. Okay, there are exceptions to that rule, but so far the 2010 season doesn't seem to be one.

What with our damp, gray weather, it's not surprising that
nobody was sitting at the outdoor tables on the sidewalk
in front of the Lion d'Or in Valençay.

Yesterday afternoon was positively gloomy. This morning too. I guess it's good weather for finishing a new floor.

The market hall in Valençay looked a little triste,
but that's because it was closing time.

Bricomarché didn't fail to entertain yesterday morning. When we got there, we could find only a single tin of the vitrificateur, the polyurethane varnish, that we wanted. We went to seek assistance at the customer service desk, and were told that the product we needed was a promotion, and that the store probably wouldn't have more than a can or two of it. We needed much more than that, of course.

They said we could buy the regular, not-on-sale product if we liked. That was 2.5 liters for 47 euros. Not quite twice the price. What a deal! We were thinking: "Bait and Switch."

We ended up finding three 3-liter tins, at about 30 euros each. Again, that wouldn't do it. Walt kept searching, and just as we were about to give up he spotted some 6-liter cans of the varnish up on a very high shelf in the paint section of the store. The 6-liter cans had not been included in the stores sale flyer.

Yes, it was the exact same varnish. And what was the price? It turned out to be 55 euros for the 6 liters. That was even less expensive than the 3-liter tins that were an advertised special. We were in luck. The store employees, Johnny and Florence by name, seemed to be unaware of its existence.

You always have to be resourceful — débrouillard — in French retail stores. Often the large economy size of a given product ends up costing more per liter or kilo than the regular size. You're better off buying two smaller cans, jars, or packages than one large one. And often the sale items are in one section of the store, while in the regular aisles the exact same product is still for sale at the higher price. How many times has that happened to me? « Mais monsieur, il faut regarder dans le rayon des promotions si vous voulez le prix annoncé dans la publicité ! » Why would they have the same product at different prices in different sections of the store. Va comprendre...

Part of the haul. The four tins cost about 225 euros.

And how many 6-liter tins did Bricomarché have on the shelf? Four! « Ouaou ! », as they say — that means and sounds like Wow! We were in business. We bought all four. Four 6-liter tins is the equivalent of 6 U.S. gallons of product. We can put down three or even four coats of it at that rate, according to the instructions on the tins.

That's a good thing, because we painted a spare floorboard with some yesterday afternoon to see what it looked like. It did not appear yellow to my eye. And the wood fairly quickly and completely soaked up that first coat. I guess that's a good thing too. At least it won't peel off.


  1. How funny and infuriating - the idea of marketing a promotional product and then having only two in stock. In the UK the store would be half filled with it.
    It sounds like you have made a good choice anyway. All you have to do now is get down on your hands and knees and put it on !!! How many days will that take, I wonder !!

  2. A typical Bricomarché experience. We want a drill they have in the current promotion. Our local store doesn't have any in stock, much less a prominent display of them. I've had to order it. Other large stores in France operate in this peculiar way too. Bricomarché isn't used by the professionals enough to have many professional staff either, so asking advice is fairly hit and miss.

    The Boisilor on our painted blue floor shows as dirty yellow, but on a bare pine floor, this will be invisible. Absorbing the first coat is good.

  3. Incredible, in just a month you'll be commenting how dry it is and those tomatoes need watering. Yesterday, I saw the first tomatoes on my vines, still tiny green buttons. The sun will come out, eventually. We're getting our first ripe raspberries now.

  4. I agree with Jean, we're really spoilt for choice here in the UK. It does seem difficult to buy a lot of things in France...I wonder why?

  5. I agree with Jean, we're spoilt for choice in UK. It does seem difficult to buy a lot of things in France... I wonder why?


  6. Anonymous and Sam, you can say that again! LOL!

  7. Our stores are like yours, bait and switch almost. Walgreens will have a sale and I usually have to ask a clerk where they hid the item. Some times I end up with a "rain check". Do they have those in France?

    You were very lucky to find just what you needed at the good price! And yes we have to stay vigilant in our shopping.

    I hope you don't have another one of those rainy summers. Time will tell. Good luck with all your projects.

  8. So, in the end,this vitrificateur is what exactly? Is it a polyurethane, then? And it's water based? And you went with a clear one, not a tinted one? So, are you staining the floor first, then, or leaving it natural?

    When we sanded our (very old) white oak floors here, we chose to use a clear, water-based polyurethane, and skip the stain. I really like the very light color of the floor. And, we had no yellowing of the polyurethane (the oil-based urethanes seem to yellow significantly). Our problem was that *someone* didn't do the last step of sanding (the fine-grit finish sanding), so the wood was still too open... and it sucked in the polyurethane. We did two (or three?) coats (this was 15 years ago), but it really didn't seal completely, as it normally would have. Your wood is already sanded and ready for finish, though, right? I can't wait to see the finished product! I'd love to see a close-up photo.


  9. Valençay looks like a really nice little town.

  10. aaaah now you must get busy and finish the floor. Can't wait to see the pictures.

    Victoria, re-couping from a nasty cold in Bellingham, WA

  11. Ah.. for only a few moments of your cool weather... the mid west summer is in full effect. Booming thunderstorms, torrential rains, and tomorrow will be in the mid-90*'s with crippling humidity... I'll plant some more 'maters for ya!

  12. Let's hear it for consumer protection laws. Sometimes they work around here (but not at Walgreens).

    Today was the only convenient low tide in June at the tide pools, where the air was 55 degrees and the water felt like 50 degrees. We saw some sea stars and anemones, but we didn't stay long. I do have some developing tomatoes at home though.


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