Monday, April 18, 2011

Thrifty Week - Vide Grenier in the South of France

This week the friendly and hospitable Betty is hosting Thrifty Week, over at Mrs Yappy Dog. Do go and visit her for thrifty tips and links to the other participants! My plan is to post daily (we'll see how that goes!) on the theme of Thrifty Living in Foreign Climes, as it's both interesting and challenging to change countries and continue to live a thrifty life. Another blogger who is good example of this kind of challenge is Juanita Tortilla, who has moved from Singapore to Switzerland, via the USA, and all on a tight budget.
Well, I know a lot of you want to know how the first of the spring-time Vide Greniers are going - my book review of The Flea Markets of France prompted a lot of encouragement for me to get shopping! Readers, I accepted your challenge! So this first Thrifty Post is a bit frivolous - it's about thrifting for vintage French treasures, rather than anything more practical. I promise the occasional bit of good sense in forthcoming Thrift Week posts, honest.
Yesterday was the really rather marvellous annual Vide Grenier at Bon Repos. Bon Repos is a lovely (but fast-growing) traditional village which completely closes down its streets once a year and invites brocante sellers and locals to set up their stalls. You get families selling off their outgrown clothes and toys next to dealers in French antiques. It's a car boot sale without the cars, a garage sale grown up and gone mad! My first success was at the stall pictured above, which always has a lovely blue velvet tablecloth. I have nicknamed this stall 'Two Fat Ladies', after the UK cookery show of the same name, but this year it has gone a step up and is now 'Three Fat Ladies', one of whom remained asleep throughout my lengthy conversations with her friends. I bought the bedraggled heap of lace from them, having spent ages sorting out the handmade from the grot, and then felt inspired to ask the price of the monogrammed apron. It really isn't usually worth asking, as I am indeed a thrifty shopper, and embroidered monograms are really out of my price range, even when stained as this one was. But to my delight, the chatty stall-holder told me she'd give it to me for just 2 euros! It is good to spend time sorting and chatting, because I think the stall-holders feel they've had their money's-worth out of a foreigner who takes time to look at their stock and tells them where she comes from and how much she likes French vintage. You quickly learn the ones who will take advantage of that and charge you silly money, and as my friendly Fat Ladies proved, not every dealer is like that.




So, I bought one stained linen apron (I do know an MJ, but he's a Martin, and I don't see him in the apron...), a bundle of lace, some of it very fine indeed but you need to know your stuff to recognise that, and I only barely do, and a fantastic load of vintage wooden, plastic and mother of pearl buttons from another really friendly stall-holder, this time a house-owner doing a clear-out.
When I got home I soaked the apron in Vanish, washed it overnight with the lace in a little net bag, and put everything on the line in the sunshine, hoping for the best as regards the stains...
It looks like Vanish plus sunshine wins again!
Oh, look at that. Really quite impractical, but do you love it as much as I do? So that's my first post for Thrifty Week. No one needs French vintage, but I derive an enormous satisfaction from living somewhere where I can buy it thriftily! It takes time - as with any kind of second hand shopping you can't expect to go to a Vide Grenier and find everything you need/want first time around. This kind of thrifty shopping requires a williness to wait for good things...
Below you'll find the first of my Holy Week posts - I'm writing a prayer for my children each day, and I hope that if you have children you might also find the prayers useful for your thoughts and concerns regarding them.

9 comments:

Michela said...

We were talking about "Thrifty Living in Foreign Climes" just yesterday, when my mum opened the cupboards and realized she had sold some dinner sets I had put into her car :) .. She was telling that at the car boot (without cars) Moroccan immigrants are her best customers, they buy mismatched dishes, glasses, curtains, sheets, etc, as they have a very tight budget.
xxx

Elizabethd said...

Beautiful apron Floss, what a find!

Betty said...

Thanks for joining in Floss - I love to see your flea market finds and always hope to find such lovely things as you - so far not much luck although I will be posting later in the week about one small find.

Pomona said...

I love the apron - I agree, sunshine is the most wonderful stain remover!

Pomona x

summerfete said...

Ooh I'm actually glad I dont live in france, the temptation is too much!!
Maybe the apron belonged to Michael Jackson, he's the only mj I know!

I cant wait for our trip to france this year, I'm hoping to find some thrifty bargains.

More please!

ps. it is a very warm and early spring here too!

summerfete said...

Ee-hee!!

Lululiz said...

Oh Floss, you did really well at the vide greniers, the lace looks really lovely. The apron was a great find as well. I so enjoyed the first vide greniers in our area week before last as well, I love the little chats with the stall holders.

Jenevieve said...

Lovely finds! The lace is pretty and the apron is lovely too! :) x

wendz said...

I didn't realise you loved so close to Bon Repos. I have friends there (if it's the same Bon Repos - not far from Lannemezan) - in fact some of my stuff is till stored in their barn and I am trying to figure out a way to get it back to the UK.

I miss so much about France. Vides greniers included.