Finding Bits of Happiness in a Paris Vide-Grenier

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Rue des Archives, Paris, 75003

I love the past and I love its remnants-old objects, historic architecture, musty books, weathered wood, early photographs, dark library furniture, aged copper pots, cast iron anything, maps soft with years of being folded and unfolded, and etc., etc.

I spent two hours this morning wandering through a vide-grenier which is somewhere between a flea market and a garage sale because most of the people selling are not professional vendors but people emptying out their attics, which is literally how vide-grenier translates.

For some reason today I had the patience to move slowly, look carefully, and simply enjoy myself. Too often I walk through markets like this at my usual fast pace, impatient with the junk that some are selling, shocked at the high prices that others are asking. Today was different. I bought four items, all so cheap, and all just perfect for me-a mini wooden spoon with an extra deep bowl (I sort of collect wooden kitchen utensils), a white bowl with blue rim which matches a container I bought at a flea market in Paris last July, and a beautiful curtain of thin ivory fabric covered with small bunches of blue daisies, perfect for a kitchen or bathroom window, or to hang under a sink, or to cover an ugly coffee table which is how I might use it at least temporarily, until I need a curtain.

Best of all, at the first table I stopped at I found a beautiful old print of a French cathedral, foregrounded by the leaves of an unseen tree. I loved it immediately and saw a price of 125 euros on the back. Way too expensive, but something made me ask the woman selling, how much for this print. 5 euros she responded, including the frame, which I had not even seen as it was not put together. Okay!

The print is signed on the bottom right in pencil, Henri le Riche. I googled him and found him to be a real French artist who lived from 1868 until 1944. After looking at some of his prints and at his signature online, I am doubtful that my little print is authentic. Regardless, I bought it before I knew of the artist and I am SO very happy with the find and the bargain. The print is now on my desk right in front of me, a lovely little scene, quiet and peaceful, to escape into whenever I need a break from the screen.


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