Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trois Brocantes--the 'secret' sale...

One of the very best parts of the 'trois brocante' weekend was the last minute 'secret sale' we discovered after getting a hot-tip from French Guy's mom.  The sale was unpublished (not in the brocante guides) and not advertised in the local papers or anywhere else.  It was literally hidden behind the tall gates of a known landmark, Saint Josephs in Deauville.  

Even driving by it was very discrete, with only a small, handwritten sign on the gate.  Saint Josephs was a Catholic orphanage from 1877 to 1975 and school after that and is now closing it's doors to be hopefully taken over by the city of Deauville to become a cultural center and museum. (So much better than knocking it down to become condos or a luxury hotel!)

Another thing to know about me---I adore old architecture, especially places that are steeped with history.  Saint Josephs is a huge property and the sale was spread throughout several buildings.  Pretty much everything was for sale because of the soon-to-be sale of the property--so everything had to go--anything not nailed down and actually some things that were!  From prayer books to kitchen utensils to armoires, church pews, dishes, furniture, potted plants, baskets, enamelware.....the remaining 'Sisters' were running the sale.

 We entered through a large courtyard and I could swear the echos of little French school children still resonated in the breeze....wandering the halls from building to building I could imagine the lines of stoically quiet students being led down the halls by the 'Sisters'.  We even went into the church where French Guy told me that his mother had learned to sing.  He spoke with one of the Sisters, Sister Saint Paul that had been there for many decades and she remembered her....

My belle Mother in law lived there while it was still an orphanage in 1942 after her father was sent to a camp in Germany and her mom, French Guy's grandmother safely kept her children at Saint Josephs.

I have never even been to a modern day orphanage so the concept holds quite a bit of mystery... there was a huge main kitchen where you could imagine that hundreds of meals were prepared.  We walked around more for the experience of imagining the history held inside those doors than we did to find deals on the remnants of the past lives at Saint Josephs.

But in the end, we passed a large closet lined with shelves that held hundreds of 'confiture' and preserving jars.  The 'Sisters' would make huge batches of preserves from the gardens on the property... many of the jars still marked with 'Harricots Verts' or 'Confiture Fraise'.....

I bought about 10 clear glass vintage jars of various sizes as well as three amazing green glass antique jars.... and later French Guy went back to purchase 15 more...He is building a shelf in my tiny kitchen for them to store flours and pasta and rice..... He also went back and bought a table--not just any table....but a table large enough to sit about 20 nuns......or dinner guests--if we ever have that many guests to serve dinner to!  It is a very farmy-shabby French table--and it is FIFTEEN feet long!  Oh la la!  And no, it does NOT fit in our house!

Beyond the jars, the huge table and an enamel bowl,  and a giant cooking pot--large enough to bathe three medium sized children in--almost (No! I didn't try it----yet......) we also came home with a crate from 'Francelux' foods, a 1930's food company which has become a favorite prop for my photography adventures--beware if you are the right size to fit in it!

This is one 'brocante' that I could spend a lot more time writing about -- and maybe I will... but not today.  I am playing 'catch-up' and have one more from the 'Trois Brocante' weekend to tell you about, and then when I am close to becoming up to date, there was a sale this past Saturday which I will share in pictures because no explanation is needed to tell you it was not wonderful and that I came home empty handed.  Which was fine, actually.

Thanks for sticking with me and letting me share a little bit about one of  the more special brocante weekends!  This is one I will remember for a very long time......

Bonne semaine mes amis!