Photo of Leyment home of brocante heaven.
Leyment Brocante Fair in France...twenty five miles long, two thousand dealers, over fifty thousand buyers, once a year at the end of August.
Photo of Nathalie in full gear early in the morning.
For the last fifteen years or so I have gone to the Brocante in Leyment. It is one of my all time favorites (that is the biggest secret between you and I. Mark that in your: Where to go Antiquing Folder!)
Three years ago I went to Leyment with my dear friend Nathalie. (This year I went with my French Husband. Today and for the next few weeks I will be adding steadily things I bought to sale on my French brocante online site... here.)
Repost from 2009 about Lement:
We slept in Nathalie's van the night before under a thick down comforter covered with a lovely pink and blue floral comforter cover.
Why have practical sleeping bags when you can go in style. We also had monogrammed pillow cases with lace.
Photo Perfect Parking Place.
Around four in the morning we woke up to the sound of security guards talking about how they were going to ask us to move our van! Nathalie did not take to that idea gently. Imagine moving the van and trailer ten miles away after we had arrived the day before, and were told we could park where we were.
Photo Dainty floral comforter cover better known as "Perfect Hiding Place".
The security guards taped on the van's window beaming their flashlights in on us. Before I could say boo, Nathalie opened the door and jumped into their faces. They soon found out that the little cute thing standing in front of them with only her tiny tee shirt and panties on, was a a firecracker on speed. She barked back, in more expletives than I care to write on this blog.
In brief the four security guards told her to move her van and she fired back no "&@!#'ç:§" way. Yelling, cussing, a scene out of a movie carried on outside the van while I buried my head under the comforter with the dainty pastel floral cover.
Photo of Dusty, pooped out happy girl after brocant-ing. (Fran-glais verb- when doing the Brocante.)
Nathalie got back in the van, under the comforter cover she laughed then teasingly said, "Thanks! You were a big help!" I cheered how she was a gutsy wonder woman, telling her I could have never done what she did. Imagine me a butterball blond saying, "Oh I am sorry, I'll move the van if you can find me an equally as good place as the one we have." Nathalie said, "Yeah that would have worked with those macho, wanna-be, FBI-type security guards. Let's go back to sleep."
...and we did.
Nathalie's van is nearly as bad as my old car. It is dinged, scratched, the fender is nearly falling off and as Nathalie said to me before we left, "I have two pieces of bad news to share with you."
I braced myself as she gave me the lowdown, "One the air conditioning doesn't work." I told her that was fine my car does not have air conditioning period. "Secondly," she went on, "The window on your side doesn't open."
Ah the life of girls who will eat dirt, drive hours to dusty and hot places, sleep in a car, go to the bathroom in cornfields all in the name of love.
The dusty drive out of the Leyment Brocante.
After hours at the brocante we loaded the van. (Every muscle in my body aches.) and headed home. As we went over a bridge the river below was far to appealing to pass by. Nathalie did a quick fancy u-turn with the loaded van and trailer and we walked down to wash ourselves from the dirt and grim of brocanting.
Later we hiked up the side of the river to go to the bathroom. I covered for Nathalie and then she covered for me. Well wouldn't you know it, just as I pulled down my pants and squatted a group of young boys who were swimming nearby, started running towards me!!! Talk about peeing in your pants! I pulled up my pants so fast and we ran laughing up the hill (Laughing is not a good thing to do when you have to pee.)
A Man with a Doll, An Umbrella and Frog Legs...some of the things I found at the Brocante in Leyment
The man with a doll.
I saw this man and his son several times throughout the day and each and every time I saw them he had this over-sized stuffed doll in his arms...Pebbles was her name. Curiosity had my imagination going...Maybe it was his lucky charm? Sure people collect dolls, but he carried it most of the day... mile after dusty mile!
I asked Nathalie if she had seen the man with the doll? Nathalie's response reminded me why she is a better chineur (antique hunter) than I am, "I don't notice the people around when I am chining (Yet another Franglais word I use often it means to go antiquing.)"
So while I was looking at the man with his Pebbles over-sized doll, Mrs. Queen of Chining Nathalie was nabbing yet another thing that I wanted to call my own.
As the day was hot, keeping cool was of vital importance. Several years ago while at Leyment it was unbearably hot, the glaring sun was frying my mood at the fair, and bringing the brocante to a near stand still. In my desperation I bought a white cotton nightgown (the classic chemise de nuit) and a straw hat. Then I went behind one of the parked trucks, stripped, stuffed my clothes under the truck (I came back for them later) and put the chemise de nuit on, it saved me from melting into the pavement.
Frog legs for Lunch.
If you are a vegetarian it is slim pickin' at the brocante in Leyment.
Frog legs a bucket for 10 euro. There was also mussels, and paella, grilled sausages, French fries and crepes.
Crepes with Nutella and a cold beer.
Finding anything at the brocante is a miracle when the whole world seems to be looking at the same thing I want.
I thought about blind folding everybody but then I reminded myself that thoughts like this are not healthy and to cut it out.
Ah the trials of trying to be a good person.
Photos on the go...
I am terrible at taking photos when I am chining at that brocante.
Note to Self: Instead of taking random photos, Take photos of what you are buying before dashing off to the next stand.
Self to Note: Yeah that isn't go to happen.
Yes, I looked in everyone of those little boxes. I do not know what I expected to find. Certainly not anything valuable like rubies or diamonds. Nonetheless the pleasure of seeing what someone saved and consider valuable brings the hidden story of a life long ago alive.
I found baby teeth.
Hooks and eyes,
A locket of hair....
It was the baby teeth that made me laugh out loud.
The green bottle had my initials on it, but it was more than my budget and I had to walk away. Though I did tell the dealer that my name was carved on that bottle and I thought he should give it to me for less. He didn't budge.
So not fun!
When buying anything at Leyment you must consider how far you will have to carry it and if it can fit in your car.
There were two men and a mirror in this tiny sports car.
The guy on the other side was not smiling. I don't know how the driver was going to shift.
A baby stroller comes in handy.
If those buckets had water in them I would have begged the owners to wet me.
Just looking at those buckets imagining water in them made me steam.
While I was taking photos of a dog in a stroller, frog legs, and boxes with baby teeth, Nathalie was doing the thing we were set out to do... antiquing.
I have a photo of a dog and she has this 19th century hand made quilt. I wanted to bark, "Not fair!"
But hey that is how it is when one is distracted and another one is focused.
The distracted gets baby teeth.
(Three photos above are by Nathalie.)
Nathalie also found a Charles the Tenth tea pot, a set of four 18th century paperback books and a stack of documents. Honestly, I think it might be better to go chining with someone who doesn't like what I like. That way when we return to the car and show our finds of the day I would not grow green with envy. Instead I would say:
"Oh you found a Pebbles doll, how cute. Lucky lucky you!"
While looking for linens, which means digging through trunks straight out of attics, I found a packet of letters between a wife and her husband during WWII. Heart breaking! (I'll share about the letters later this week.)
Hemp dish towels and grain sacks.
At the end of the day, after walking around the brocante for several hours, after having carried purchase after purchase back to the van and then going back at it again, not giving a second thought to how many miles I had covered. I came across a field I had not discovered earlier. It was by far the best of the lot. I looked up to heaven whispering loud enough so they could hear upstairs, "I did not blind fold anyone and this is how you reward me?" Then I quickly covered my mouth with my hand and repented, "I am sorry, I am here, thank you..." but the child in me had to sneak in a little dig, "Better late than never."
It was there that I found rolls of antique hemp fabric and linen that I had spent hours trying to find. When I saw the rolls of antique fabric it was then that the reality of distance and my energy level came to mind. The stand was light years away from the van and the fabric weighed more than my little arms could manage in one haul!
Desire is an amazing force isn't it?
The rolls of fabric cost me the soreness I have in my muscles today.
This chair looks like how I felt after carrying the five rolls of fabric back to the van.
Now, if you are still with me after this marathon of a brocante adventure-- then you are a true brocante fan and deserve to have some fun other than just seeing what the French brocante has to offer!
In the mean time I hope you enjoyed the juicy details of a life as a brocanteur with Nathalie and myself. I bet you want to come with us after hearing about it!! If so be prepared to pee on the go and learning a few cuss words in French.