Friday, March 25, 2011

Fine linen at the flea

                   Sheets and pillowcases of handkerchief linen found in Nice at the "Puce"

Monday is the day to browse through the Cours Saleya old town flea market and look for more objects of desire than you really need.  Yes, it is all about want and not about need.    But it is a material girl's pleasure to go there from time to time on a sunny day....especially if there is a friend in town.

 Flea (puce) is one of those words that the French use as a term of endearment to their children.  That and " petit chou" or  little cabbage.  But it is still not clear where the term "flea market" comes from.  I prefer the story that it comes from the  dutch term "vlie"  or valley used for an 19th century New York  Market  which was located , presumably, in a valley.  The word which is pronounced like "flea" evolved into the present term "flea market".  Or maybe it is just that there can be a lot of  flea bitten rubbish at these bric a brac sales that is  not worth a sou.

Here is a set of fine cotton damask napkins we found for 6 euros each.  The necklace was conceived by my friend Ellen and put together from city pearls (from farmed oysters) and an Indian medallion found at the Flea market.

In my opinion, the best buy at the "march aux puces" is linen...or more specifically hand worked napkins, tablecloths or sheets which can be used everyday not just collected for their beauty.  Of course, you have to be willing to iron the embroidery in the future to get the real thrill out of the fine stitches.  But I am just that kind of a modern/old fashioned woman who likes to iron the borders of my sheets. ( Or should I say, likes to admire the job when I have done it. ) 

Take a look at this reversible stitching on my full sized sheet bought here in Nice.  These sheets were most likely embroidered a hundred years ago by girls sewing for their trousseaux.  The linen may be as fine as a handkerchief or of sturdier stuff for winter.   No polyester blends here!

 On many examples, one finds Initials of the owner or family...... which can be fun even if they aren't your initials.   Some of these linens have never been used.  Alas, the war ,perhaps, destroyed dreams and plans of marriage of a generation of young people.  Nowadays for a reasonable price,  a luxury like this  can be yours to dream on.


  1. Come to Louisville and shop Susan's Stashes!!! I have trunks full, yes all perfect! From Ruth and Family!"


  2. I like that market so much. I went there one Monday while I was in Nice. I almost bought a great tablecloth.


  3. Beautiful!