Have you ever been along the Promenade d'Anglais in Nice? If you have certainly you felt the temptation of the Cote d'Azur (the French Riviera). The intense color of the sea has a way of wrapping itself around you, seducing you to come closer. It is nearly impossible to resist unless you have another love pulling at your heartstring.
As for me.... though the sparkling blue sea was tempting, I would rather strip for a brocante than bare it all to a bunch of seashells.
"Such a foolish girl," French Husband sighs, "Don't you want to swim in the sea?"
I looked at him as if he was trying to cement my feet, or worse feed me anchovies! I sneered, "No."
Under the colorful striped canopies the brocante in Nice happens, every Monday until five in the evening. The brocante market has about 200 dealers. It is beautiful smack dab in the old town center, surrounded by restaurants, cafes, and shops. If you peek through the arches you can hear the siren calling, "Come swim...."
But if you are as addicted as I am, the brocante has the upper hand and holds you tight.
Give me old things and I will give up everything, blue sea included.
The old painted facades surround the brocante: pastel splendor, sunshine yellow, melon, with pistachio shutters and on the other side hints of lavender, soft blue with touches of cotton candy pink.
Multi colored tiled roofs that look like a scoop of ice cream with sprinkles.
"How much for the city?" I teasingly asked. Then continued by pointing, "I'll take those facade, that iron lantern, a pair of those glazed pottery urns, and a cherub or two."
The dealer looked at me, looked around his stand of mostly books, a few teaspoons, give or take a nightstand of two... "What? Can you repeat, I don't understand?"
I took that as a sign to claim Nice as my prize.
A painted green, portable wooden stool with a leather strap. Was it used in a workman's shop, or was it a fisherman's stool?
A rare pair of antique green pottery water jugs cozy up in a straw basket.
Next to the brocante, Les Trois Diables (The Three Devils,) a young trendy bar, with a flashback to the twenties bar maiden on its facade.
"She doesn't belong there... no actually the trendy young bar doesn't belong here..." I argued to myself. Then I heard the wise brocante whisper, "That is the beauty of France; time marches on leaving history intact. France allows tradition to mingle with trendy. It encourages the roaring twenties to slide up against the rappers, it has room for the golden hue of the belle epoque and the sparkling bling bling pierced in the young girl's belly-button... Red Bull and Dom Pérignon, Chanel and cut offs..."
"Nevertheless..." I interrupted, "Darn, just give me the facade!"
I am spoiled like that.
The painted bar maiden looked down at me, "Are you gonna drink it in or not?"
Old apartment buildings.
Clothes hanging out to dry.
French Husband laughed, "You don't want to scrub your clothes down by the river?" Then he added for good measure, "I'll buy you a big basket and scrub board!"
He thinks he is funny.
I told him he is not my only lover... I have Mr. Washer and Mr. Dryer too.
Typical shutters in Nice, if shutters can be typical.
The hardest decision at the brocante in Nice was where to have lunch. I could have lunched everyday for ten years and never had enough time to enjoy the variety of restaurants available . The menus, the atmosphere, the waiters, the flowers and tablecloths .... Wouldn't a progressive lunch be the way to go? To have a drink here, a starter there, a salad at another restaurant, then change tables for the main course, followed by a cheese platter at a bistro and dessert at a cafe?
The brocanteurs lunched at their stands, doing so with flair; Real dishes, not a plastic cup insight, bread in baskets.... the French know how to enjoy the moment, how to soak in the simplicity of day to day life... they bring Renoir to life and give depth to Monet.
In the middle of the brocante, under the colorful canopies, the brocanteurs had lunch while discussing the election, the latest match and the price of the teacup in my stand while playing cards.
Magical that day to day stuff...
Like the sign on the wall said, "Butter and Eggs", it is the day to day stuff,
To take it as it comes, gentle blue on one side, the brocante on the other.
Maybe being in Nice helped?