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January 16, 2005
Villers-La-Faye, Burgundy - France

An Afternoon of Shopping and Contemplation

Chouette! Louise is babysitting for us this afternoon, despite the disastrous phone call. Better yet, she’s is saving up for a trip to Vancouver, Victoria and the Yukon this summer. Not only does she free us up for an afternoon out just the two of us, but we figure that we’re also donating to a worthy cause.

I had my eyes on these.

Earlier in the week while running around and buying new sheets and other things for both houses, we nipped into Dijon for lunch. We noticed a sign advertising a “Brocante” in Dijon on the third Sunday of every month in the streets just behind the Cathedral, where most of the city’s antique shops and brocantes are clustered.

So, after getting the girls and the babysitter settled around the kitchen table with a big stack of paper, fancy scissors, and glitter pens, Franck and I each tug a toque over our ears and set out.

First we stop in a little tea shop that had caught our eye on a previous visit, just around the corner from the brocante. It is beautifully decorated in bright red and beige, and was opened only three months ago by a very friendly lady who we enjoyed a lengthy chat with. My Ceylan tea is properly served in an ivory creamy ceramic pot with matching teacup and saucer, and Franck’s Irish coffee is piled high with homemade whipped cream that is scrumptious. I know because I sneak several largish spoonfuls while he is in the WC.

The brocante goes from 10:00am to 6:00pm non-stop. When we arrive, around 3:00pm, the vendors are doing a lot of rubbing their hands and lamenting the dearth of customers because of the weather . No doubt about it – it is cold, but in that foggy, mysterious way that suits Burgundy so well.

We wander and wander through the stands, fascinated with everything - old enamel kitchen containers, beautiful chestnut side tables, a multitude of statues of the Virgin Mary, and an old metal sign saying “VELOMOTEURS” in big blue lettering that caught my fancy. I don’t know why, I’ve just always liked the sound of that particular word.

The new church at Citeaux.

However, what I end up buying is a wooden kitchen rack for La Maison de la Vieille Vigne. It looks quite old, and has lovely scrolled carving down the sides.

On our way home we stop in at Citeaux, the Cistercian abbey that has claimed a chunk of the plains behind Nuits-Saint-Georges since 1098. We arrive just in time for Les VÍpres, the 30 minute service that the monks perform as the sun goes down in order to offer their days work to God.

I much prefer Citeaux in the winter, when it is deserted, and cloaked in brouillard. The abbey church, a newly built one, is stunning in its austerity. When the monks file in and begin to chant, shivers run up my spine.

I wasn’t brought up in the Catholic religion, so all of the standing up and sitting down and chanting back that Franck does on automatic pilot during a Catholic service makes my head spin. A while ago I decided I would just use the time in Church to sit and think, and enjoy a rare moment of contemplation. By the time the three bells ring to signal the end of the service and the monks file away to their dinner at the refectory, I feel ready to head home, and begin a new week.

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© 2005, Story by Laura Bradbury  & Photos by Franck Germain - All Rights Reserved.

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