Friday, 3 October 2008

La Braderie

(La Trinté 75009)
The rain is pouring down so I quickly follow the signs and discover a true oddity - a real old-fashioned jumble sale right in the commercial heart of Paris. The Trinité church is situated directly behind the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores, but the braderie that is organised in the crypte twice a year could not be further from this world of commerce and fashion.

Jumble sales were iconic events in my childhood. Several times a year my Mum would be involved in the setting up and running of such events, raising money for various groups and organisations. Walking around the crypte at the Trinité, the familiar odours of damp and dust come back to me, as does the sight of tables piled high with shoes and clothes. To one side, there is an added bonus - a cafeteria selling sandwiches, cakes and quiches at unbeatable prices, although this one is missing the giant steaming tea urn and paper plates of biscuits that could always be found at English jumble sales.

Braderies or brocantes are not unusual sights in Paris and generally one can be found somewhere in the city each weekend. Generally though they are semi-professional affairs and carefully placed along pedestrian thoroughfares. This event though mirrors exactly the ones I experienced in my childhood. Our jumble sales were always situated indoors, in school or village halls, which meant that I got to explore areas I wouldn't normally be able to see such as inaccessible upstairs rooms or backstage areas behind a performance space. The Trinité braderie sees items for sale draped over staircases, and piles of books and videos standing next to statues of the Virgin Mary. In truth, I have little interest in the items for sale, but I'm desperate to explore the staircases and go into the kitchen, as if by doing so I could somehow find a doorway back to my childhood.

It's a surprise for me to see so many people present. The tables at the cafeteria are all taken and the name-labelled volunteers are all rushing about assisting the clientele. The space has been carefully organised into clothes, books, bric a brac and toys and games, and each section is straining under the weight of donated goods. I imagine that the regular visitors are somewhat less surprised than me though, as this is above all a church event, and the Trinité is clearly home to a thriving community.The people here are not those that I see each day at work or rushing around on the Metro. These are people who surely live around the church and for whom the church is a focal point.

It is the kind of community you would expect to find in a small town or village and although this is not my community it is interesting to find that this world still exists in the centre of Paris.

Before leaving, I suddenly notice that there are children present too, eating their sandwiches and looking up at the staircases in fascination.


Starman said...

This is the first time I've ever seen the phrase "jumble sales".

Kimberly said...

Growing up in New Jersey, we called them "rummage sales" as in you had to rummage through boxes to find anything worth buying. I remember one in particular held at the fire station, a place generally not open to us children for exploration. How fascinating it would be to go to a rummage sale in Paris.

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