Vernal equinox, vide grenier and vintage

So Spring has officially arrived but no-one told the person in charge of the weather… the temperatures still hover in the single digits and frequently dip below freezing overnight. We’ve had the vernal equinox – how fortuitous that it came right around my V themed blog and the clocks sprang forward last night.


Last weekend we visited a local vide grenier (we would translate that as car boot, garage or yard sale but literally it means “empty the attic” which seems to be exactly what it says on the tin). This week we headed off to a neighbouring village to explore their vide grenier (although it could have been a brocante or a marché aux puces = both translated by Google as flea market, but who knows?!). Ideas and suggestions welcomed…


We didn’t buy any vintage gems but I did spot this fantastic sign painted on the side of a building (and now I can’t help spotting them all over the place, some more faded than others).


We have also finally done the right thing and begun the process of registering our vehicle into the French system (apparently you have a 3-month grace period from when you arrive to change your British plates over to French ones and get a carte grise). We took it to a garage to get it serviced before getting the French equivalent of an MOT (un contrôle technique). Apparently they couldn’t service it without the carte grise or French registration document…

“Hang on, that’s why we’re here, to get the French registration process started.” we explained in inadequate French.

“Ah no, we cannot service it without the carte grise.” they countered.

Isn’t this a classic case of chicken and egg? So we decided to try to get the contrôle technique done without getting the service done first.

“Sure, no problem,” said the contrôle technique guy, “where’s your carte grise?” 

“Not you as well!” we inwardly groaned while outwardly saying brightly, “Can we bring you our British car registration papers instead?”

“Sure, no problem,” said the contrôle technique guy. We liked him!

Phew! Happily our car passed the checks with flying colours and we gladly paid our €69 and proudly stuck our little square of paper in the windscreen. Good job we got in before May when they are changing the rules to make the contrôle technique much more stringent. Apparently the contrôle technique is valid for 2 years so that is a relief.


Now I have a little conundrum for you… we have been passing these curious little buildings at the side of the road since we arrived and we have been wondering what exactly they are/were for. I snapped a quick pic as we drove past one today but it’s hard to see the scale. They are about a metre and a half tall and maybe 2 metres across. They are dotted along the main road every few kilometres and our guesses have ranged from bus shelters for very small people to places to store salt to grit the roads. None of our ideas are very satisfactory so I am appealing to you to help us out. What do you think they are or were used for?


Finally I’ll leave you with a picture of our pet pot plant simply because she is called Viburnum Tinus Eve Price so she fits with our V theme!


À bientôt, bisous.


4 thoughts on “Vernal equinox, vide grenier and vintage

  1. Ha ha, lovely example of ‘Catch 22’ French style and I love the brocantes et vide greniers too.
    I put your old building query to the Dronne Valley Network, and after a couple of hours have the following five responses;
    • How about a water source ???
    • cabane de vignes (?)
    • We have several of this type of thing in our area but not built into the bank as you show. We’ve been told they were animal shelters and shelters for shepherds etc.
    • borie – The local equivalent of a shed! Used to store tools, and to shelter in, when working the vineyards. Sometimes a similar style of construction covered a well (puits).
    • They are sheep pens.
    So, clearly, no one really knows. I’ll pass on any further replies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jon,
      Thanks so much for the sleuthing efforts! Don’t think it’s a sheep pen (unless maybe each sheep took it in turns). They’re not located close to vineyards as far as I can tell…Perhaps it is covering a water source or well of some sort. I’ve never actually got close up to one (did I mention they seem to be at the edge of a very busy road?) but maybe I need to explore further…
      The answer is out there…


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