When we bought the gites we noticed that they were lacking certain things, in particular the Petit Longère which was missing a dining table! As you can imagine, buying the gites had left our savings somewhat depleted and the addition of a second mortgage meant that we really needed spend our money wisely - thus a serious interest in boot fairs has developed over the last 18 months.
You can find a lot of tat at boot fairs (I'd be fascinated to know if anyone ever buys a second hand video cassette - I certainly see plenty of them lying forlornly in boxes), but there are also lots of good quality items to be had, usually at bargain prices. There are many stallholders who are downsizing or relocating so need to have a clear out. That's how we found our dining table which conveniently just fitted in the back of my car - phew!
I love reading and haven't yet joined the e-book generation (though this may not be far off as old age kicks in and print gets smaller!) so it's a great source of new reading material. It's wonderful to be introduced to new authors by enthusiastic car booters. The best bit is, once I've read the books, I take them to France so our guests can enjoy them too! We have found guide books, maps and dictionaries so the gites are now well supplied with these as well as loads of DVDs and CDs.
What I don't understand, is when stallholders have of gone to the trouble of getting up at the crack of dawn to load their vehicles, only to dump their wares unceremoniously in bags and boxes on the ground so they can't be easily seen. Admittedly, if you have the time and inclination to sift through these piles you can often uncover some hidden treats, but why oh why go to all this trouble (and cost - it is usually around £10 for a stall) and then not make the effort to display things properly?
A car boot sale is called a 'vide-grenier' in France. This means 'empty attic' and normally consists of villagers selling unwanted, accumulated 'jumble' from their homes. It is a time for the whole village to socialize, catch up with local gossip, have a fun day and maybe make a bob or two while doing it. They are often associated with a locate fete or festival.
We haven't actually made it to a vide-grenier yet. We had planned to visit one in June but the poor weather meant that was cancelled much to our disappointment. Our next trip to Brittany is in a few weeks time and we are armed and ready with our copy of the 'Calendrier des brocantes et vide-greniers - Bretagne 2012' which lists all of the second hand events all over Brittany - easily available in newsagents and supermarkets. If you plan to hunt out a pre-loved bargain when you visit France you will find a guide on where to find them on our Vide-greniers, Brocantes, Marchés aux Puces & Depot Ventes page.
Avranches was bombed by the Allies as part of the Normandy Landings campaign in 1944 in order to cut off German reinforcements. A few days before the bombing, leaflets were dropped over Avranches, inviting people to "get away for a few days". On Wednesday, June 7 a squadron of Allied bombers dropped its deadly cargo on the city destroying large areas including the Old Town. Fires ravaged the city and the roof of Notre-Dame-des-Champs was destroyed.
There are pictures of this event displayed in the church which also has a beautiful pair of matching holy water fonts made from giant clam shells.
In 1944 the garden was destroyed during the bombing raid. Since 1966 there has been a ongoing restoration project in place. The highlight of a visit to the garden is a view point looking towards Mont St-Michel. A tranquil place to break the journey to the ferry at Cherbourg.