Huge vide grenier at Villeréal

Wow! the vide grenier at Villeréal on Sunday really overwhelmed me.  Villeréal is a lovely 13th Century bastide town between Monflanquin and Agen in the Lot et Garonne. The first thing I purchased was these lovely bakelite bangles.  But there was so much more than jewellery.  There was lots that I could have picked up and brought home but almost too much to make a rational decision.  So in the end I purchased very little but really enjoyed mooching around in the sunshine.  Cal, hubby and grandma not so enamoured with it.  Also it was very hot.  Phew!!!  Hopefully you can see from some of my pictures what an interesting place Villeréal is, particularly if you like historic architecture.  In the centre of the town is the impressive 14th century market hall, with its original timbers. Saturday morning markets are still held here, as they have been for the last 700 years.  Around the edges of the square are lovely half-timbered buildings.

image

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageShe shouldn’t be too sad, the seller wanted 250Euros for her!!!!!

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Paul’s here! :):):)

Up early to pick Paul up from the airport.  Then straight back to the outskirts of Bergerac to GiFi to purchase a conteneur pour le jardin.

GiFi

I had seen this planter the previous day and it appeared to be half price.  €22 down to €11.

Gifi pot 3

Quelle bon marche je pensais!  But when I checked the price with l’employé de magasin you had to have a GiFi carte VIP in order to take advantage of the discount.  I was told that this could be obtained online, so once back at the house I logged in and got ma carte VIP and took a photo on my phone of the relevant numéro de carte and hey presto, got the planter for €11.

Packed car boot with planter and Bella the dog. Headed off to Monflanquin where there was a foire de printemps vide grenier. Monflanquin which is in department 47, Lot et Garonne, (part of the Aquitaine region of France) is a typical french bastide town and said to be one of the best preserved in France.  It was founded by the French in the 13th century at a time when the English ruled this part of France.  The central square in Monflanquin, the Place des Arcades, was where all the action was.  Vintage cars lined the narrow streets, wine, nut & prune tasting, vide grenier stalls, plants and traditional baskets was some of the fare on offer.  The photos that follow are courtesy of grandma, who takes her iPad everywhere with her.  (Some are of old photos of the town that where in shop windows)

pots on the door step

old photo of monflanquin

old photo of monflanquin 2

me in monflanquinold door monflanquinplant potsetargee 2appartment for rent 2cream cv76 vw camperold cv

Gardening, exploring the local area & trampolining

Gardening

Gardening

So today was spent putting in the various shrubs we’ve purchased from the Gamm-vert garden centre. I was looking for some sort of symmetry, so planting in order was important although this did go a bit pear shaped.  We also put stakes in to support the small plum trees that we stransplanted last October and to stop them taking too much strain in the wind. The soil is clay and very boggy at the moment, not ideal for planting anything but as someone once said, “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the next best time is now”.

Daisies

Daisies

Dandelion clocks

Dandelion clocks

I use the word garden to describe what surrounds the house but it is basically meadow.  Full of daisies, dandelions, clover and couch grass.  There are also some lovely purple wild flowers, the name of which I am not sure, anyone help?

Purple flower growing in the garden

Purple flower growing in the garden

There were also some very unusual looking black furry caterpillers with red heads.  Can’t find out what these will turn into, help anyone?

Black catterpillers

Black catterpillers

And the other thing we notice is that the trees are full of mistletoe.  This is a tall tree that overlooks the garden.  Not sure what type it is but it has two large balls of mistletoe hanging from its branches.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe

Then we took a drive down into Sainte-Foy-la-Grande.

Sainte-Foy-la-Grande map

Sainte-Foy-la-Grande map

This is one our favourite local towns. It was founded in 1255 by Alphonse of Poitiers. The central part of the town has maintained it’s right angled street pattern, typical of a fortified town. My favourite street is Rue Victor Hugo as it hosts the regular vide grenier in the summer months and has a lovely shabby chic shop at the top.  Rue de la République is the main street, on which is the tourist information office can be found.

Office de tourisme Sainte-Foy-la-Grande

Office de tourisme Sainte-Foy-la-Grande

Usually in summer it is a mass of window boxes full of flowers.
We love the historic streets with their half timbered buildings, unique shops and unusual door knockers.

Shop in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande

Shop in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande

Half-timbered building in Sainte-Foy

Half-timbered building in Sainte-Foy

Half-timbered building in Sainte-Foy

Half-timbered building in Sainte-Foy

Unusual door knocker

Last time we were in France we went for a stroll along the Dordogne but this time having been so wet the river was swollen and the walkway was completely covered by the extremely fast flowing river.
The afternoon was finished off with sweet crèpes on Rue de la Rèpublique.  And the boys still had time for fun on the trampoline!

Boys on trampoline

Boys on trampoline

Pâques en France 2013

Plum tree cutting

Plum tree cutting

Arrived at Le Petit Coquelicot on Friday 28th March at about 4pm after delays on the tunnel meant we only had a couple of hours sleep at the hotel in Rouen. We were all very tired and still are.
The house has wintered really well and there were only a few wood lice to dyson up.  There’s a little condensation too but other than that it’s as we left it in October.  Unpacking was once again quite a task as I had made purchases back in the UK destined for France.

Garden obelisk

Garden obelisk

Garden obelisk from UK

Plum tree is growing

Plum tree is growing

Then it happened, when we decided to go to the toilet we realised that we have the same problem as last year with the fekafoss not pumping properly. We have, however, discovered that there is a toilet in the village. This may be our saving grace.

Willow tree cutting

Willow tree cutting

Saturday was therefore spent deliberating what to do about the toilet, checking out portaloos and doing the shopping at Leclerc. I then made homity pie and plum crumble. We were planning to get out and about, in particular the Chateaux de Duras is open, but it was tipping down with rain, so will be leaving these touristy things to a better day.  Lundi de paques was the vide grenier at St Sernin.

Eclectic mix at vide grenier

Eclectic mix at vide grenier

Old tin bath tub ideal for Bella!

I purchased a lovely silver bracelet that commemorates a trip to Paris.  Will need to add this one to French Finds! We also came across a strange structure in the village, what do you think this is?

St Sernin-what is it?

St Sernin-what is it?

Figs no more plus toilet troubles!!

 Back at Le Petit Coquelicot on Saturday 27th October. 

Up very early at the Premier Inn in Liverpool to get to John Lennon Airport for our 6.40 Ryan Air flight to Bergerac.  Grandma is with us and we had an early breakfast and then walked to the Airport which is about 500 yards away from the hotel.  I have a very close friend staying at our house in England, looking after all the animals, so we are good to go!

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

Landed in Bergerac, earlier than Ryan Air scheduled, and it was cold.  Very cold.

Arrived at the house having had a quick look around Bergerac, which looked lovely, I definitely want to go there again.  Looks like it would be a spectacular place to investigate in the sunshine.  When we got to the house, after a couple of us went to the toilet it was clear that we had toilet trouble.  The water began to rise and you know that always means trouble.  

After a lot of hard work by my hubby we finally could see the Fekafoss lid, which is the pump that is installed to pump all the house waste/water to the local sewer. 

Fekafoss lid

Fekafoss lid

Meanwhile Grandma and I headed off to one of the last local vide greniers in Ste Foy La Grande, where I found a very tatty mirror that I gave the French shabby chic look to when we got back.  What do you think?  Not sure what to put in it though.

Painted French mirror

We also now have transplanted 4 plumb trees in the front garden. 

Transplanted plum trees

Transplanted plum trees

So we shall see whether or not they survive.  I’ve also created a little nursery of tree cuttings from the local area. 

Tree cuttings

Tree cuttings

To my utter shock and horror, somebody!!! has chopped down the beautiful fig tree that stood on the edge of our garden.  Why oh why would you want to do such a thing I really do not know.  In fact it has freaked me out somewhat.  The figs were to die for.  See earlier post.  I am now determined to fill my garden with fig trees.  Just you wait, you chopper down of beautiful fig tree!

I have checked the Internet for info on taking fig tree cuttings and found this thread curtesy of www.botanicalgarden.ubc

” In the spring before the tree leafs out, cut a 12 inch long piece of branch up to 3/4 of an inch thick. Bury it all except the last bud on top. It will root itself quite easily and grow vigorously throughout the summer.”

Two meetings with architects about the proposed extension have left us in a bit of no mans land at the moment.  Not always quick to make decisions we will have to take this one home and mull it over during the winter.

Anyway today, although the weather is not that good, we are heading out to Bordeaux.  Meriadeck shopping centre is central and has a car park.  Not sure whether shopping in Bordeaux is a good idea but the main aim is to go to the cinema and see the new James Bond film “Skyfall”.

Skyfall

Skyfall

And there lies a tale of the famous shoes.  Grandmas shoes went missing for sixth months and they turn up in a Hollywood blockbuster, the new James Bond film “Skyfall” worn by James’ and M’s arch enemy in the film Raoul Silva. 

skyfall-Javier Bardem

skyfall-Javier Bardem

And here are Grandma’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Like Raoul, she’s not allowed laces either, you understand!!!! Tee Hee.

Grandmas Kappa trainers

Grandmas Kappa trainers

I always like cooking when we are in France and while there this time, I cooked a mean Homity Pie, though I say so myself.  This is a good old English recipe that I came across in my Cranks recipe book years ago.  If you read the recipe book, there’s lots of specific amounts of ingredients but the way I make it is with no weighing or measuring at all.  Here goes!  Nice lot of potatoes, peeled and then boiled.  While they’re doing I make pastry, in this case with plain flour and just butter.  Loads of red onions, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan.  Make sure not to burn.  Then drain the potatoes, no need to be too careful, add to the frying pan, together with lots of fresh parsley, grated chedder cheese (yes you can get this in France now), salt, pepper and a slurp of milk.  Place the pastry in a large oven proof dish and then add the ingredients from the frying pan.  Place in the oven (200 degree) for about 20 minutes.  Hey presto!

Homity Pie

Homity Pie

To finish we had the most gorgeous French pastry from a lovely little shop in the local town.  Yummy!

French pastry

French pastry

To change the subject quite dramatically, I must also talk about the dazzeling array of crysanthymums around at the moment and how I finally came to realise what they were used for.  In France La Toussaint or All Saint’s Day is a Catholic festival celebrated every year on 1st November. 

La Toussant is the day when all the Saints are honoured by the Catholic church. The following day is Le Jour des Morts (All Soul’s Day), when people pray for the souls of the dead. La Toussant is a national holiday and children are off school for two-weeks (half term).  La Toussaint is celebrated by decorating the graves of loved ones with chrysanthemums, the flowers associated with death.  The cemeteries are awash with flowers.  In fact I first noticed that the flower shops and supermarkets were awash with these types of gawdy flowers.  Very bright and clashing colours.  I prefer paler coloured flowers like lillies but here are some pictures of our village church which, I have to say, looked so alive with colour.

Village church

Village church

The church in our village

Anyway we are back in Blighty now and I’m just finishing off this blog.  Weather is awful here, so I sometimes cheer myself up with a look at what it’s like in Bergerac via the webcam Not always a good idea though but I’ll keep looking.

 

 

As it’s our last day, I just thought I would share some of the images from our three weeks here in France.  See the French Finds page above for all the gems from vide greniers.

I have never eaten fresh figs before, but these from the garden were delicious.

Figs

Pots, pots and more pots available from Mimizan.

Loads of pots

What interesting door knockers!

Cal mid jump!