Thursday, May 10, 2012

Antiques and Brocante in Bordeaux

A few of my Twitter friends are decorators, and I couldn't help but think of them and a wealthy client or two as we strolled through this Antiques Fair our first day in Bordeaux.
Every booth posed a challenge to our carry-on-luggage-only policy, and we did end up with two small  mid-century ceramic pieces and a petite watercolour.
But we had to "just walk on by" with a sad shrug -- all kinds of wonderful accent pieces that would have brought French vintage character to any home.
The Antiques Fair had been a 3-week affair, apparently, and we happened to catch its last day, so deals could have been made at a few of the booths. Paul was particularly taken with an antique cast-iron urn for the garden, over 3 feet high, at least 2 feet across, weighing enough that moving it would require team players. Priced in the thousands of euros, who knows what shipping would have cost, but how marvellous it would be sitting by our seaside (which would surely have enhanced its oxidized patina. . .
Given that we haven't yet achieved the "money is no object" stage of our reincarnations, I focussed instead on capturing the many fabulous vignettes, and perhaps when I get home, I'll get my good friend and artist-teacher Alison to help me turn one of these views into a watercolour. I love the shapes and colours of the composition above, for example.
Oh, that bust! Would he not be wonderful on my grand piano? And j'adore that length of grillwork. . .
But This! This is my favourite composition of all, I think, for its slightly surrealist, almost Dada-ist potential. Ceci n'est pas . . . un chapeau? un chien? (Monsieur Scottie, would be offended at that last, je pense)

(In case you don't follow my blatherings, I'm referring to René Magritte's surrealist paintings, the best known of which offers an image of a pipe alongside text that says Ceci n'est pas un pipe  -- This is not a pipe -- For my photo-composition, I might say This is not . . . a hat? a dog?)
I think the old painter's easel with dog, chair, mannequin, chapeau is as delicious, whimsical, and witty a gift of found art as any I've seen -- don't you agree?

And just because I know some of you are wondering what I'm pulling out of that carry-on luggage to navigate the stylish streets of Bordeaux, I got Paul to snap a few shots later the same day as we strolled along the expansive promenade along the Garonne. This cotton knit dress (by Danish company, Jackpot) has been a useful piece so far, and my Fluevog oxfords have been great -- as the weather warmed up that day, though, the black tights began feeling uncomfortable as well as out of keeping with the welcome hint of summer.
Still, I felt as if I fit in fairly well, and we've been asked for directions a few times, always a good sign . . .
Yesterday, we had a two-hour language lesson, and we're trying to practise our use of the conditional. Meanwhile, today we pick up our rental car and head off into wine country.  We're a bit anxious, mainly about parking (few spots, and -- OMG! -- Europeans have absolutely mad parking skills!), but we picked up a Michelin Guide Vert and we're ready for a little road trip . . .

Now tell me, what would you have done, faced with four long rows of booth after booth of marvellous antiques and brocante . . . mortgaged the house, chartered a freighter? Or would you have looked for a few particular and packable items (oooh, there were linens. . . . and there was silverware . . . and beautiful China (Sèvres teacups) . . . .

21 comments:

  1. I can see the Magritte in your photo and know exactly what you mean about the subtle colors. Have you had time to do any sketching?

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    1. I have, Terri, and I might even share one or two soon . . .

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  2. I would have dropped to my knees and wept! I would SO love to have bought everything, but it is not luggage allowance that holds me back but bloody Emin, king of all that is new and sparkly, he has never managed to embrace my love of junk!

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    1. So we magpies are being held back . . . perhaps just as well, but oooh, it's tough just to photograph and keep moving, isn't it?!

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  3. I don't think I'd have an issue as I don't ever see the day when I can go away for more than 4 days with only a carry-on!!
    Enjoy exploring the region. By the way, I really like that dress - there's a shop in town here that carries this line, so I'll have to go have a look. P.

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    1. It's surprising what one can fit in a carry-on, despite there not being room for cast-iron antique urns. . . ;-)
      I think you'd probably like the whole Jackpot line -- let me know. . .

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  4. You have such a wonderful eye. I love your "composition" à la Magritte. Tish told me a story of someone she knows finding an amazing chandelier at one of those brocantes and carrying it back to the US on the plane.

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    1. Imagine! Perhaps they were in 1st class? Business? wouldn't want to sit next to them in regular seating!
      My GF did the same thing, though, with a gorgeously painted sink from Mexico. . .

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  5. Oh those brocantes look so charming...
    I'd probably buy something small if it spoke to me.
    I can't imagine how dear the post would be on a large item. If however I was in the business I'd fill a container for shipping!

    Perhaps you can ask to rent a small car so that you can squeeze into those parking spots and drive down those narrow village lanes.

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    1. We always do rent a small car in Europe, but next time I think I'd try for even smaller -- there are some here that make the Smart Car look grown-up!

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  6. I agree with Paul, love those iron urns! I would never be able to go to Europe with only a carry on, so looking for linens (or my new fixation antique cutting boards) that would fit in my suitcase would be my search. Thanks for all the pics (loved the tulips!!) and that dress looks fabulous! Enjoy the rest of your trip.

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    1. What materials are antique cutting boards made of and what distinguishes them? I do think focussing on one or two small-ish collectibles makes sense.

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  7. I would want to mortgage the house, but since I live with a sensible man, I would settle for one or two small pieces with stories behind them to take home in my luggage.

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    1. So interesting you wrote this, Lorrie, because my sensible man commented on the fact that "the story" was really the reason for the items we ended up buying, all of which fit in our luggage.

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  8. The sellers at such markets often have agents with whom they work, or can refer you- if you really want something shipped home. However your idea of a watercolour will is such a delightful way to capture what you've seen. Sounds like you;re having a splendid time and weather to match!

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    1. I would imagine all can be arranged if one has the funds . . . I'm also trying to shake off, at least a little, the desire to acquire. Paul doesn't suffer much from it at all, and I'd like to get better at simply admiring, enjoying, savouring even, without wishing I could take it all home. The photos and the sketching help . . .and recounting it all for my readers here. . .

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  9. in a sweet little hotel room in Paris. Trying to figure out how to make my blog work with my ipad ***$##**!! Thought I'd see how your travels are going. You are right those shots from the antiques market would be wonderful for a little sketch. I hope you're finding a little time for that....
    I'm just putting my "euipment" together for the day--even with the teeny tiny paint box my bag weighs too much!

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    1. Hope you had a good first day in Paris and are waking refreshed as you head off to wherever today. Jet lag's a bitch, non? Seems odd to be in the same country as you, but so far from our little island, and us not meeting up. So we'll meet on each other's blogs . . . hope you get your ipad sorted and are posting soon. bisous xoxo

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  10. The ones I covet are wood with a beautifully worn golden patina. The ones I own are copies and have an interesting shape, maybe someday the two shall meet!

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  12. Yes Magritte! I'm pretty sure we saw one or more Magrittes at the Pompidou but it's all a memory blur now.

    I love your bag ;).

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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