Not every day starts with blue skies & sunshine in Provence and Saturday was one of those days!
When we woke, the rain was drumming on the roof & the whole place just looked soggy, so any thoughts of a bike ride went out of the window & we quickly decided on Plan B, which was to pop across The Rhone & take a look at the Brocante market in Villeneuve-Les Avignon for the morning.
I must admit I didn’t know much about the market, but had been urged to visit it by a lovely couple of dealers from Marseille, (Norbert & Marina), who I’d met at our local Vide Grenier event last summer. They told me that I’d love it as there are always lots of good stalls offering a wide variety of pieces and that it’s in a particularly lovely setting below the old Chateau.
Now even I know that a soggy morning is not likely to encourage stall-holders out (and it was very soggy), but nonetheless we hopped into the car & took the hour’s drive across towards the town. Bizarrely, by the time we reached Le Palais we could see a stark line between grey cloud & blue sky over towards The Rhone & by the time we crossed the river the rain had cleared & the puddles already seemed to be drying out.
Villeneuve-Les-Avignon sits on the opposite bank of the river to the much larger Avignon, but clearly has an impressive past with Cardinals having built their secondary homes in the town to escape the hustle and bustle of Avignon and the architecture & ancient buildings in the town stand testament to this, with the remains of the old Fort Saint-Andre (built by the Kings of France in the 14th Century) dominating the town.
The Brocante market sets up every Saturday morning in the car park, alongside the main road just below the Chateau and even though the weather had not been kind there were already stall-holders setting up for the day, so all boded well and we went in search of a much-needed coffee & croissant.
By the time we wandered back down the stalls were set up and although there were evidently a lot missing, there were a nice number for us to stroll around & browse what was on offer from wonderful old shutters……..
To boxes of ‘things’ including bright vintage coat-hooks……..
And of course, decorative & more unusual items………
As ever we had a lovely time just pottering from dealer to dealer, inevitably being tempted by so many things that we really don’t need (like the original condition Peugeot 1970s bike – which at 100 euros was snapped up by a dealer whilst we were looking at it) & of course a few others that we did have a use for. I was happy to find 2 very pretty antique silver spoons, which will be finding their way into my workshop over the next week or so……
And we also couldn’t resist these 2 little side tables for the house……
…..although we’ve realised there will soon come a time when we really don’t need any more pieces for the house so will have to think about what we can do then to maintain our regular ‘brocante-fix’
Although it was quiet, (thanks to the early morning downpour) it was a lovely Brocante to visit, with a gentle atmosphere enhanced by the incredible guitar-playing by a young chap who had set himself up on a chair amongst the stalls.
I’m sure that on a nice day the parking area would normally be packed with stalls & needless to say it won’t be long before we head back across to find out.
By late morning we’d exhausted the stalls & as the sky was now blue we thought we’d make the most of being in the Gard & decided to head further across to Uzes, in the hope of catching the tail end of its wonderful Saturday morning general market.
Uzes is another stunning town, built of honey-coloured stone with spectacular buildings like St Theodorit Cathedral with its beautiful ‘fenestrelle’ tower ………
And the Chateau du Duche with its glazed-tiled roof & imposing tower, together with just pretty houses fronting onto the cobbled streets …….
The market, like so many in the region, fills the narrow streets of the old town with colour & noise. Right in the centre of the old town is the ‘Place Des Herbes’, surrounded by shaded arches and this home to the majority of the stalls and is a lovely place to wander around to see what is on offer and to buy local produce, or to simply sit in one of the many cafes there to soak up the atmosphere.
Luckily we arrived whilst the market was in full swing and took the opportunity to buy some provisions, including some of our favourite truffle cheese, which is expensive (19 euros for a piece), but delicious & adds something wonderful to everything from roasted vegetables to a simple omelette – so in our minds worth every cent!
After a wander around we managed to grab a table in a busy restaurant and enjoyed a slow lunch, before pottering around the few Brocante shops in the town and heading on again.
On the way in we had noticed a Brocante sign outside a building a few miles from the town, (by the old Chateau de Castille at Argilliers), so thought we would stop there on our way back and we’re so pleased that we did.
To all outward appearances this is simply a junk yard, but the old metal railings & gates piled up there are just the start; there was so much there to get our ‘renovators’ minds racing and we went away full of ideas that we will need to work on a bit, before we pop out there again.
We finally arrived home much later than we had imagined, but our ‘soggy Saturday’ excursion had been great fun & I’m sure it won’t be too long before we do it all over again, even if only to see the market at Villeneuve-Les-Avignon in full-swing and perhaps to take a bigger car as I just couldn’t think of a way of getting these shutters into a Nissan Micra!