On 7th December I set off from home at 11.30 pm headed for Le Grand-Pressigny. I travelled with my friends and neighbours Mike and Jackie and the purpose of our trip was my having a stall at the Marché de Noël at Ferrière Larçon, a village a few kilometres from ours.
Coffee break on the motorway at 3 am.
We had debated at length whether or not to go at all. The snow in the UK the previous week had made travelling very difficult and dangerous. By now some of the snow had melted and no more was forecast for the UK but a band of snow was showing up on the Meteo France website, just north of Le Mans. But, with Mike driving and in their car, we decided to risk it.
The weather deteriorated near Gacé.
We made it to the tunnel with no problem and started our journey through France as it was just beginning to get light. There was no sign of any snow for the first couple of hours and I sent Nick a text to say we seemed to have got away with it. But then, north of Le Mans, things deteriorated and it started to snow. I had spoken too soon !!
I wouldn't like to be on a motorcycle in this blizzard.
For a couple of hours we drove through a blizzard. Mike just ploughed his way through the snow, saying that so long as the tyres were cutting through it to tarmac, we would be fine. Just south of Le Mans the snow finally fizzled out and we arrived in Le Grand-Pressigny in light rain. What a hero !! I could not have driven like that myself and would have been tempted to give up and wait at a convenient services for the weather to improve.
We spent the next few days having fun, eating out, winetasting and being tourists. I also sent Mike and Jackie out for a couple of days to enjoy themselves while I put together the last minute preparations for my stall.
Nicole had booked the table at the market for me, but it had not been easy. I had no contact at all from the market organisers and by the time I set off for France, the cheque had not been cashed. I had no idea whether my application had been received and therefore whether I would have a table at all.
There were lots of outdoor stalls at the market, mostly selling food.
But, the train was booked and paid for so we decided to chance it. The market was taking place at the church and we turned up at 9am on the Sunday, loaded up with boxes of beads, display stands and gift boxes.
The indoor stalls varied enormously. This one was in a tent attached to the church.
But, the system had worked !! As we opened the boot of the car a man with a clipboard and a list approched us and my name was on the list. What a relief. He told me I would be inside, in the entrance to the church so off I went in search of my table.
The atmosphere was very jolly and festive inside the church.
It was now 9.15 and the doors opened to the public at 10.00 am. We had practised setting up the day before using my dining table at home, so were able to get the stall up and running in no time at all. I was pleased with how it looked and we sat back and waited to see what would happen.
There were all kinds of fun and games to entertain people. This young man was making things with balloons, including his own hat.
We were not very busy. Nor was anyone else. Most people seemed to have sold hardly anything from their stall by the middle of the afternoon and it was freezing, literally, all day. Mid-morning, Simon and Susan of Days on the Claise turned up to give their support and fetched a couple of glasses of warm mulled wine for Jackie and myself. We were most grateful !!
This young man was dressed as a Christmas tree. I think that's his mum straightening a decoration !
I talked to my fellow stallholders and we came to the conclusion that this particular Christmas market was more a place to meet your friends and have a glass of mulled wine than a place to actually buy anything.
The lady with the stall next to mine seemed to have an eclectic assortment of things for sale.
But I did sell some things and there was a lot of interest in my wares and lots of compliments made about it. Lots of people took my business cards - not that they were much use except for the little 2011 calendar on the back.
My little stall.
But it was an interesting and valuable experience. I was pleased that my limited command of the French language was enough to enable me to talk to my customers and that none of them seemed at all perturbed or surprised that I was English.
I would certainly go to the market at Ferrière Larçon myself in future - but as a visitor, not a vendor. It was a super event to go to for entertainment on a Sunday before Christmas. But it was so cold in the church that by the end of the day my whole body was shaking. My table was in the coldest part of the church and it really was very helpful to have the mulled wine available to warm us up !!
If you are interested in reading more, I have written about it here.