Week in Review: Flea Markets, Gardenshops, and Le Blanc Manger

Typewriter at fleamarket

After weeks and weekends of non stop exploring, week seven turned out to be a much slower week- no major travel plans, no major activities, no major French surprises, and honestly nothing that exciting to report. I think it is safe to say that France is slowly starting to feel more like home and we are becoming comfortable in our new surroundings. This week there are no exciting photos of new places we have visited to share, unless you get excited about French flea markets and good French food (yes, I said good French food).

On Saturday, we decided to venture out to look at local furniture and garden shops, as well as a French flea market in Fréjus called Puces Provençal. When we decided to move to France, we made the decision not to move all of our belongings and instead place part of them in storage or sell them. Which means when our furniture arrives from the US, and they take our rental furniture, we won’t have some of the main household items including a dining/kitchen table with chairs.

French Flea Market

Since we had been to Fréjus in previous weeks, we were fairly familiar with the roads and finding the flea market turned out to be easy. We made one wrong turn and had to back track a little, but we’ve accepted that this happens frequently in France. When we arrived at Puces Provençal at 1:45pm it was closed, but luckily we didn’t have to wait long as the doors opened 15 minutes later. It is quite typical for businesses to shut down for lunch, normally between noon and 2pm, so we weren’t surprised to find that on a Saturday the flea market was closed when we arrived.

French Flea Market

Inside, the flea market reminded me of an antique mall that you would find in a small town in Texas (I’ve seen my share of antique stores thanks to my parents). They had a lot of antique furniture, some bad paintings and other art, and of course some junk, but nothing we couldn’t live without. We were mainly looking for a large kitchen table and although the market had plenty of tables, none were really what we had hoped to find.

One of the coolest finds in the flea market was an old typewriter from Paris. The girls really wanted us to buy the typewriter for them (don’t ask me why), but the price was a little steep at €200.  I’m sure we could have bargained with the owners, but our French is shabby, and the owners looked quite busy pulling espresso shots after what was probably a relaxing two hour lunch.

After an hour of filling my nose with dust at Puces Provençal, it was time to escape the sights and smells of old relics and check out a few of the garden stores we had seen in the past driving through Fréjus and Mougins. We visited Jardiland, Botanic, and Castelli and were extremely impressed with the quality and atmosphere of the stores. The format and style of the French gardening centers are very unique and like nothing I have seen in the US. I would describe them as a combination of the Home Depot/Lowes garden departments, Crate & Barrel, Whole Foods and The West End Gardener in Boulder. The Botanic store in Mouans-Sartoux was particularly impressive with the addition of their Café Philo écolo /Café librairie, which is essentially a small organic grocery market with vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and a cafe. We have some nice stores in Boulder, such as Sturtz & Copeland, but they don’t compare to the French stores which are much more modern and stylish.

Jardiland

The highlight of the week (no question) was a visit from our neighbor in Colorado, Shelly. She is the first friend or family member from the United States to come see us in France! Our whole family was very excited to spend some time with Shelly as she made her way across France on a cooking tour with the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

April and I were lucky enough to be invited to dinner with Shelly at Le Blanc Manger in la Colle sur Loup and enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had in France. We were also very fortunate to dine with Auguste Escoffier’s grandson, Michel, who shared his knowledge on the topics of French automobiles, fine dining in the Côte d’Azur, and Tuscany (we are planning a visit to Tuscany in the coming weeks).

Dinner at Le Blanc Manger

As of the writing of this post, we have still not received our sea shipment from the United States containing our household items. Delivery is scheduled for tomorrow and we (mostly the kids) are excited to see their beds, wii, and other misc items that they miss.