Sunday, April 27, 2008

Provence a la Beth -- Part Deux

So sorry for the delay in reporting on the final weekend of our Paris to Provence adventure. Our youngest son, Morgan, is moving to NYC next month, and it has been a family effort to get his “fixer” house ready for selling. Last Sunday we did a pinkie swear that none of us need to buy a fixer upper house again! He’s done a fabulous job with his 1920s Craftsman house. And now it seems like it has been ages since we returned home from France. (The six inches of snow we received last week also added more weirdness to my time continuum.)

Our last weekend in Provence was crammed full of thrills and one slight spill. We started Saturday with our guide, Jill, driving our rental car for us to Cassis, which is just east of Marseille. My husband, Raoul, was happy as a clam to be in the backseat and not behind the wheel with roundabout after roundabout to maneuver. Our first stop was to the vide grenier in Cassis. Its’ American counterpart would be a community garage sale. The 100 participants turned out to be about 10 people selling mainly baby and children’s clothes and toys. It was just like at home when you drive to an alleged estate sale and find nothing vintage or estatey about it! I did buy a couple of metal carpenter’s rulers, so all was not lost. Plan B was to enjoy a nice café crème in an outdoor bistro with a lovely view of the Mediterranean. Cassis is gorgeous! We had planned to take a boat ride to visit the calanques (narrow small inlets along the coast) anyway, so our time line got pushed up with another kind of sailing.

The color of the sea water in these narrow inlets was emerald/turquoise/stunning. Of course there were Roman ruins all along the coast, but by day 10 in France, we were much more excited about the color of the water.

Back on land, it was time to head to the brocante in Sanary Sur Mer. We headed further east along the Mediterranean coastline and landed in the most breathtaking site for an antique market I’ve ever visited. Yachts and palm trees and blue skies. The sea on one side and table after table of the real deal vintage/antique-wise on the other. Not long after we started exploring, we found a few tables that had so many things on my wish list – religious medals, rosaries, small sterling purses and jewelry. The dealer was one of the friendliest we had met, and we spent the next two hours getting acquainted. Jill kept up a running conversation with Fabien, our new favorite dealer. I looked at all the secret boxes of loot he would bring out from under the tables to show me. Rose wine in a small glass pitcher was served. I kept adding one treasure after another to my pile, wondering if I could afford all of it. In the end I received very fair prices along with the history on lots of the pieces.

Sunday was our final shopping day and boy, did it deliver! First stop the brocante on the outskirts of Aix. Some canopies and tables in a parking lot with some of the best shopping of the whole trip. We heard one other woman speaking English, and the rest of the crowd were locals. Really fun.

And always that superb cup of coffee.

Our next visit was to an antiques shop, Broc Antiq Provence in Meyrargues, owned by charming Agnes. We had a nice visit, courtesy of Jill’s translation. Agnes’ grandson shyly joined his grandma’s side so he could hear my American accent. Please visit Jill’s blog for terrific pictures of Agnes and our weekend extravaganza.

After lunch we visited a small brocante in Peyrolles and found the dealers had been enjoying their wine for most of the day! The drunker they were, the higher their prices. It was a short visit.

Last stop was a treasure trove of a brocante located in Army barracks where you had to dig a little (or a lot) and imagine how something would look with ages of dust and grime removed. In our previous emails, Jill had learned that I am comfortable in this sort of setting and am happy to work for my bargains.

I loved every minute of our splendid week in Provence!


Sue said...

It all sounds very enticing, and I hope maybe one day I will get there...I was close a few years ago.We went over to the UK and planned to go to Paris, but had to cancel at the last minute! That water is to die for!Im sure the old ruins were worth seeing, but like the old castles, after about 10, you are over it! Though living in Australia, it was all such an eye opener for us, so much history.Thankyou for sharing

Jill said...

How wonderful to relive that last week! Thanks for the perfect "reportage." I am here to testify that the photo of the water was in no way adulterated.....:@} It's really that beautiful. Bisous to you and Raoul.

Jackie Wilken said...

It sound like exactly what I want to do for my 40th birthday trip to Aix en provence. Can you perhaps remember the details of the first stop on the Sunday (the brocante on the outskirts of Aix)?