15 August 2011

A damp flea market day

We went down to Saint-Aignan yesterday morning at 9:30 to see what the scene was like. In past years, the mid-August brocante/vide-grenier has been sunny, hot, and crowded. We don't go every year, but we've been there enough times to have a preconceived notion about how the event should look and feel.

Our friends had rigged up a big tarp to protect
their goods from the rain.

This one was fairly sad. Oh, there were plenty of cars in the parking lot by the bridge, but there were no more than six or eight vendors set up along the long diagonal street that leads into the town. A few of them were in set up in garages and entryways under shelter, so they didn't have to worry about the fine misty rain ruining things they had to sell. Others had big sheets of clear plastic over items that would be damaged by rain. Dreary was the word for it.

The château seen from the streets of Saint-Aignan

Our friends C. and D., who live on the main place — the one where the food market is held on Saturday mornings — were out on the sidewalk by their front door with things to sell, but there weren't many more vendors on the square than there were on the main street. D. said that the number of stalls and the number of chineurs (antique-hunters) and browsers had been infinitely larger. C. said that they had actually sold quite a few things earlier in the morning, when the serious shoppers came out to pick over the offerings.

Crowds were thin and there weren't many vendors either.

I asked D. if he thought that a lot of potential vendors changed their minds at the last minute about setting up a table or stand. He said the weather reports on TV and radio had been promising rain on Sunday all week long, so many people probably decided to do something else over the weekend.

Our friends' house used to be a cabaret, and this
old sign still hangs over the front door.

The extent of our purchases was a pain de Saint-Aignan at the Boulangerie du Château and three ripe melons (cantaloupes) from the Poitou region from a street vendor (for four euros). We walked around in the light mist for about an hour, just looking and consistently deciding that we didn't need another terrine, little mixing bowl, or set of drinking glasses right now. We did see a nice-looking old armchair, but it wasn't comfortable to sit in and I didn't really like the yellow upholstery. We passed on that and another chair.

The Saint-Aignan church seen from the Place de la Paix,
with one lonely vendor trying to attract some customers

The drizzle continued in frequent showers all morning, and then in the afternoon we had a couple of hours of hard rain. I imagine the flea market people had already packed everything up and gone home by then, or at least for their sake I hope they had. At about 1:00 this morning, thunder and lightning and another very hard shower woke me up from a sound sleep. It's not light enough right now for me to be able to tell whether or not it's still raining out there.


  1. It's mid afternoon here Ken and we also have a light drizzle falling over Melbourne. Strange that you posted on your market day as we posted on a swap meet type market for cycling enthusiasts. Fortunately the weather was dry but very cold.
    You've caught some nice scenes of Saint Aignan in this post.

  2. What a shame, especially given the hot dry summer you had until recently.
    I love charentaise melons - lovely with a drop of pineau de charente drizzled in the centre. Have you tried growing them in SA? We tried one year in Cognac and got 3 melons - not a big harvest but they tasted great.

  3. Oh, that is a shame. I'm glad you went and took a few photos nonetheless :))


  4. What great looking place is Saint-Aignan. I hope I can see it one day.

  5. I wouldn't mind a light drizzle. Five weeks of heat and sun DOES get boring (but don't quote me in January when I complain about the cold and gray). And I love the sign on your friends' house.

  6. The Sunnyvale Art & Wine Fair was hit with rain--hard rain--on Saturday this year. It was overcast but a little better on Sunday. I felt so sorry for the vendors. Put on my raingear and went down and bought a few things. But just as at Saint Aignan, many had given up and packed up.


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