Don't forget the corkscrew

More than 80,000 people converge on one of Europe’s biggest flea markets. And on a damp spring morning, my partner Tim and I set off to join them. We were headed for Amiens to La Grande Réderie.

This was a trial run for Mia Bella Casa. We packed and left home to catch the 10am ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe. Four hours at sea meant a chance to relax and read. We couldn’t do much else. There was no Wi-Fi. And actually, it was a treat to be away from it all.

LIMITED LINGUISTICS

After docking, the first thing was to fill up with fuel. The Euro was good against the pound, and we paid just 90p a litre for diesel! Then we stocked up on essentials from the local Intermarché – baguettes, fromage, jambon – and of course, vin rouge. But we forgot the corkscrew. France being France, all wines were cork, not screw top, so we had to buy a box. Honestly, the things you have to do!

The clouds cleared and a rainbow welcomed us to our destination. Did you know Amiens is twinned with Darlington? We found somewhere to park for the night. We have a generously sized van and made a bed in the back. It might sound like roughing it, but we slept comfortably. It was cosy.

Up and out by 6.30am, we tagged along with the tens of thousands who make the ‘réderie’ the second most important event of this type after Lille. More than 50 streets were lined with stalls and filled with people looking for a bargain.

We started with trepidation and excitement. Would we find anything? Would the prices be ridiculous? Would we be able to haggle using our limited linguistics?

VINTAGE SCALES

We needn’t have worried. There was everything from bric-a-brac to grand antiques. Some stalls were very expensive, others more reasonable. And we managed to discuss purchases with a mixture of our school French and a pen and paper.  

Twenty minutes later, we’d purchased our first piece. Phew! We also bought beautiful coffee grinders, French street signs, house numbers, vintage scales and an amazing oak coffer.

What an experience. The rain held off and it was such fun. Everyone was so friendly, it was a real pleasure to be there. We’ll definitely go to the next one. Maybe we’ll see you there? Don’t forget the corkscrew!

Comments
Only registered users can leave comments.
Comment text: