I have been duly warned by my husband that some European shop owners and restaurateurs do not take kindly to their properties being photographed. Never mind that you are a tourist. Never mind that the web is a means of promotion. There exist, still, people for whom privacy and ownership over their own “vision” (whatever it may be) reign supreme. I do respect this—quite a lot, in fact—but in this particular instance I could not resist the surreptitious click here and there.
The place is called “Tampico – Brocante”, and it is the most charming, ramshackle collection of antiques and hand-made articles (canvas bags, linen shirts, table clothes, journals) you have ever seen. It slumps beside the main drag in Le Canon, a mixture of cabin and tent, that spills its contents onto the roadside on sunny days. Enamel coffee pots. Miniature oil paintings. Galvanized watering cans. The odd bird cage. All styled with the impeccable eye of the proprietress.
The key it seems is to crush as many objects together as possible in the manner of a Dutch still life, blending color and texture with a painterly eye, and weaving it all together with the judicious placement of faded hydrangea blossoms and antique mirrors that pull you into reverse images of the lovely chaos (of which you yourself are now an ingredient) like the looking glass in the “Arnolfini Wedding.”
I had managed to take these four little photos, when the owner of the shop, a small woman of 65 or more with a Liza Minelli haircut and piercing black eyes, brushed by me proclaiming under her breath: “C’est pas bon, ça.” I pocketed the phone, blushed in embarrassment and proceeded browsing to show her that my only intent in being there had not been to “steal” the image she had created, but to appreciate it.
I wish I could have bought something, but alas, the prices were not to my liking. I might have held up a price tag and repeated her own words back to her, but I didn’t. We then exchanged friendly words, and I went on my way, still upset somehow that I had upset her. And yet, I seem to be publishing the photos anyway and urging you, should you ever find yourself in Le Canon on a sunny day, to pay her a visit with more money in your pocket than I had. Such is the modern world of blogging.