Yesterday, as planned, all of the artists at Chateau Orquevaux hopped into cars and headed convoy-style to shop a couple of brocantes.
We browsed stalls and soaked in the jumble. The difference between a brocante and a typical western garage sale is that at a brocante you can find a tool or piece of art from the early 1800’s next to a Limoges tea set, next to a made in China plastic toy.
I found an ancient pair of reading glasses, some traditional French linens, some lovely buttons and tin of old papers with which to collage. When I got back to the chateau I found it quite disturbing that the tin contained relics of a deceased man’s life. Letters, passports, pictures, readers, a pill case with a pill still in it, and his obituary. This was the detritus of a life, the things one saves. Private things that shouldn’t be sold at a garage sale, but apparently at a brocante, might turn up. I sat with this tin a long while at the Chateau. I know the face and name of the divorced man, and I know the faces and names of his children. I felt called on to paint him, in forgiveness for inadvertently purchasing his personal remnants. I may choose not to collage his paperwork, I don’t know yet. The bonfire last night seemed to be calling for him but I wasn’t ready to let it go. I’ll figure it out.
I’m happy with the linens. They’re in great shape and will become surfaces for art. Except the red striped towels. I bought them for that but their value lies someplace else. They are heavy, whole, and still meant for the kitchen.
Finished at the brocante and feeling a thirst and hunger, we drove into central Joinville. This is a picturesque town with shops, a cafe or two and a bakery. The baguettes and croissants here are so light and buttery that it is no wonder they are a French staple! We made our way past the bakery, however, and into a Bar/Restaurant for a delicious lunch. I had a crepe filled with goat cheese and fresh basil. Honey was drizzled on top and it was accompanied by a small salad. Heaven! And a new use for honey. Honey and soft goat cheese are perfection together.
After cafe creme we walked up and into the church. It was built in 1544 and is quite remarkably. The ceilings gave it a Roman feel, the stained glass added colour and story, the statue of Mary provided gentleness, and the angel striking down from the heavens contacted that. A turn and a walk toward the back of the church showed off the magnificent organ pipes and a relief that was carved in 1567. My goodness, belief has power! I would say that the church was just as artfully beautiful as it was awesomely fearsome.
Next up was a stop at the Poisson Karsts. After so much rain it was a surprise to see how dry this particular area was. The area is a winding drive up a narrow road (that is a thing here) before a quick walk to view the karsts. Karsts have something to do with springs underground drainage, caves, limestone, and calcium. I wasn’t able to figure out much about what I was seeing because of my lack of French but I could see what looked to be caverns. I also noticed that mountain bikers had shaped and enjoyed the terrain.
There is so much to explore here in just this small corner of France!
We ended the day with a bonfire at the front of the chateau. With the river and falls behind me, I could imagine the ocean sounds I’m used to for a minute. This place, has a different beauty than the ocean, mountains and forests I know. It has the accessible remnants of a very human history. It has rivers in canals, green rolling hills, and forests of young growth. It is alive despite it’s patina.