Wednesday, December 07, 2011

BORDEAUX Christmas market

Bordeaux Marché de NoëlAmongst my first memories of being in France in December 2002 are the Christmas markets in central Paris: clusters of wooden chalets brilliantly illuminated at night, permeated by the scents of spiced bread and roasting nuts.

Last year I was so busy getting moved into the farm that I didn’t get to see any of this seasonal fun, a terrible oversight. So I want to make up for it this year by visiting a few Marchés des Noël in the region. Today we picked out the one in Bordeaux so we could also get a bit of Christmas shopping done. This is Munson’s first visit too, since the last one was carried out in a rental car while my vehicle was ingaragated.

The Bordeaux market consisted of about 150 huts along the allées de Tourney but were a bit of a bust as far as content and atmosphere went. True we weren’t there at night ( Bordeaux is too far away for a comfortable return drive at night ) but there was just too much unimpressive craftwork, cheap electronics and two-a-centime crepe makers. We found an “Australian” food vendor, liberally emblazoned with flags and kangaroos, but selling only French and American dishes. Around the market, Christmas carols played continuously – all in English! I kept waiting for a French song to be played, but not a one to be heard.

Meanwhile, a big antiques fair was going on in a tent city not far away in the Plaza des Quinconces. So much interesting stuff, but it was off-mission for our trip today. Quite a lot of the vendors there had a dog-in-residence, each of which would stroll out to sniff Munson as he walked past.

Choco cow Knitted reindeer head Choco Mama Claus
As we returned to the central Old Bordeaux quarter and were inspecting a window full of chocolate figures, I could hear a couple of guys murmuring in Australian-accented English that they wanted a picture of Munson. I spoke up : “We can understand what you’re saying, you know!”. They laughed and introduced themselves, and their girlfriends joined us a moment later. One wanted to know what the reaction to Munson was in France and I said “I hear a bit less he’s fucking huuuuge!!!! around here but otherwise it’s much the same as home.”

Eyenimal videocam  Munson waiting at Desiguel

The middle of the day was awkward for shopping as so many stores close up for a  two-hour lunch, so it seemed we missed a lot of potentially interesting opportunities. While Gustav was browsing in one store, a young woman approached to caress Munson. On learning we were from Australia: “Oh I’m from New Caledonia. We’re practically neighbours!”

Eating at an outdoor table, a slightly inebriated guy came to ask about Munson’s age, weight and feeding habits - all the usual – before lurching off down the street. A few minutes later another guy staggered over “Il est de trois ans! incroyable!”.  Word was out on the street! This guy wanted to get a picture of Munson with his mobile phone camera, and tried to stand still while his hand wavered side to side. “This is going to be a 3D picture I think” I whispered to Gustav. Eventually it transpired that he couldn’t find the camera control on it so I located it and snapped a photo on his half. “Magique!” and trundled off.

Munson and Gustav were a bit exhausted after hours of walking the hard stone streets so we returned to the car in order to drive out to a suburban shopping centre where the local IKEA was based. My wretched TomTom decided there was another IKEA and took us to a completely wrong location and then we had a very long drive through quite bad traffic to the real place.

We had a quick look in a pet store, which is where I spotted the Eyenimal wearable video camera for pets. I’ve been looking out for something like this for a couple of years as I’d love a Munson’s eye view of his street encounters. I didn’t buy one today, but definitely thinking about it….

By the time we were finished around 6pm, the entire area was becoming completely gridlocked. I managed to squeeze us through a gap between turning cars so we could sit it out in a local Maccas for half an hour or so with coffee and free wifi.

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