1 July 2023



The brocante and vide grenier season is in full swing now and there are bargains to be had.  I got these lovely red soup bowls, a really good make - Emile Henry no less - four for 2€ at the brocante in Ciran a couple of weeks ago.  The day was memorable not just because of the bargains but also the pizzas.  

Soon after we arrived we bumped into a couple of friends and we decided as it was more or less lunchtime we went in search of food.  Arriving at the little bar in the village two more friends arrived.  Three of us went around to the back courtyard where tables and chairs were set up under a shady "barnum".  A barnum is the term used for what we would call a gazebo.  There was also a trestle table with an electric oven and a deep fat fryer perched on top, and a barbecue.  A man was busy cooking chips, sausages and burgers.

The other three ordered food and drinks from a table in front of the bar.  Apparently they had run out of bread so burgers and sausage sandwiches were off the menu so we all opted for pizzas.

Two friends then appeared in the back courtyard carrying frozen pizzas in boxes to be cooked in the electric oven!  Another found her choice of pizza had run out and was directed to the walk-in freezer in the bar to choose from the rest!

Then the electric oven conked out.

Bread arrived so other diners were able to have their burgers and sausage sandwiches while our uncooked but rapidly thawing out pizzas remained piled up next to the broken oven.  The cook was looking decidedly stressed while we waited patiently to find out how we were going to get some lunch and eventually the young woman taking the orders at the table out front came to our rescue.  She took the pile of pizzas away to be cooked in a neighbour's oven!

More drinks helped to pass the time until the pizzas reappeared, piping hot and very tasty, having been cooked who knows where!  There is never a dull moment for life in rural France!

I mentioned in a recent post that we stumbled upon a huge brocante at the moulin (mill) at Veigné.  It was huge, occupying an enormous area on both sides of the road that goes through the village.

This was more of a vide grenier than a brocante - if my understanding of the difference is correct - with a predominance of used clothes, toys and baby stuff.  I didn't buy this toy cat in a basket.

It was a baking hot day but the band toured the site entertaining us with what I would describe as oompah music.


I bought more soup bowls (I now have enough to feed quite a crowd when I finally get around to making French onion soup) - six for 3€.  A stack of plastic trays to stand our troughs of geraniums in on the new roof terrace - four for 1€.  A very pretty bread basket for 1€ and, the best bargain of all, a set of two Le Creuset gratin dishes for 2€.

They appear unused and I felt uneasy after buying them.  The seller was an elderly gentleman who had a lot of household items displayed on a plastic sheet on the ground.  The dishes were upside down so the name "Le Creuset" was clearly visible and when we got home Nick looked them up.  You can still get a very similar set in John Lewis for £37.  

I thought instantly of my dad who soon after Mum died disposed of much of her kitchen stuff thinking he would never need them.  It never occurred to him to ask me if I wanted any of it and some went to the tip, some to charity shops.  I wondered if something similar had happened to this old man, that he didn't realise how much his stuff was really worth, and wished afterwards that I had insisted on giving him more money for them.  Hey ho.

At the little vide grenier in Descartes we spotted this painted table lamp.  The seller first asked for 10€ but we hesitated and she offered it to us for 8€.  Judging by the wiring it is clearly quite old having a very early plug on it - 1950's possibly.  We rewired it and gave it a new lampshade and it fits very well with our other furniture.

At the same vide grenier I bought these strings of pretty ceramic beads from a young lady who was clearly selling her cast off clothes and trinkets.  She wanted 1€ for the lot so I gave her 2€ and asked for no change.

Last but not least.....there is a brocante shop in the nearby village of Mairé which is a huge barn stuffed with old stuff.  The prices are not as cheap as street market prices but often quite reasonable and there I spotted this throw for our large sofa.  It's actually a tablecloth.


  1. I love the Le Creuset (what a bargain) and the ceramic necklaces are lovely. I haven't made French Onion Soup for ages. It was my go-to soup when we were first married!

    1. I have only ever made the Slimming World recipe for French onion soup and it was, frankly, underwhelming!
      There are zillions of recipes for proper French onion soup out there so I'm looking forward to experimenting further!

  2. Oh to have hot french onion soup in a lovely bowl like yours! Add a glass of red wine and I can think of nothing better to eat.