meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: 'Antiques & Ham' on Impressionist Island

Thursday, September 30, 2010

'Antiques & Ham' on Impressionist Island

A tradition since the middle ages, this foire (fair) has spent the last 600 years morphing into the huge, week long event that happens twice a year on the Island of Chatou (also known as Impressionnist Island) outside of Paris. 
What began as an annual pre-Christmas pork fair in front of Notre Dame, has turned into one of the largest, most well attended, antique flea markets in France.
For the last 40 years, more than 800 vendors have set up shop for a full week on a wedge of land in the middle of the Seine. Some have permanent stores in other villages, others  are part of the 'Brocantes' circuit operating across France.
Interestingly enough, there are vendors who only sell here in the Fall and Spring, spending the rest of the year scouring rural France (known as the attic of Europe) for rarities, charming treasures and (truthfully) junk with which to fill their stands.

My friend Tracy, her cute little dog Maddy and I headed off reasonably early for a Sunday morning. It was raining on and off all day and I forgot my umbrella. Turns out that was a good thing since we were "forced" by the elements to remain in the stands and really poke around.

By 1 o'clock, Tracy and I were starving. Knowing what was good for us, we followed our noses to the food isle for some - what else - pork.  We chose rotisseried suckling pig served with heaps of seasonal vegetables.    

The lines were long and the plates steaming. Under those dauphine potatoes are carrots, braised endives and caramelized onions.  Yes, it was delicious and yes, I ate it all.
Armed with a bottle of Nuit St. Georges we took our places at one of the long tables, under cover, along with the other hungry 'chineurs' hunting for treasures that day.  A few hours later, after much animated note comparing with our neighbors, it was back to searching the stands.

You will find everything here... and I do mean everything: books, linens, chairs, plates, silver, pewter, vintage clothes, paintings, ancient flooring, old magazines, marbles, tools, furniture, art deco lamps, priceless antiques and heaps of mysterious broken things.

You can also go home with sausages, ham and olive oil. What about that delicious wine you had with lunch? Or the snappy Chardonnay you tasted? No worries, Monsieur Daniel will be more than happy to deliver a case or two the folowing evening.

I came home with a dozen vintage (but never used) beautiful linen napkins for a song, (but not the matching table cloth from another stand for way too much money) 9 delicate chrystal glasses, some great canning jars for storing flour or other dry things,  as well as something I hadn't expected to ever see again.

What I found was a memory from my childhood I thought was gone forever. A barbotine pitcher of a wild boar with 'tout en est bon, de la tete a la queue' - Everything is good, from the head to the tail - written across it on a ribbon of white.

The adventure is in the searching; 
the joy is in the discovery.

The fair is ongoing through Sunday, October 3rd. from 10am to 7pm. Go if you can!

A bientot,

For more information on visiting the roving antique fairs of Paris CLICK HERE

1 comment:

kittiepower said...

Hi Zabie,
I wish we could go to this but our plane arrives in Paris @ 13:00 on Oct. 3rd. Zut alors!
Pam Blades