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  • Writer's pictureAhmed

Vikings and Aviators

Updated: May 6

After last weekend's downpours, the sun returned to give us another blue weekend. On Saturday we drove inland to Briquebec. The small stone clad town clusters down the hillsides around the ruined fortified chateau. I love markets like this- the town centre was closed to traffic and decorated with reams of flags.

As is perhaps evident from the name, the town is Viking in origin, and its history reaches back over 11 centuries. It was a perfect day market-hunting! Next was Lindbergh Plage. Much like St Germain-sur-Ay plage, this is barely a town and more a collection of villas nestled among the dunes. At the end of a long straight road to the beach there is a tiny bar, cafe and some small hotels.

It was only a small market but the tourist population attracted plenty of traders with treasures. The name Lindberg obviously references the famous (and later infamous) aviator Charles Lindberg. Local legend has it his plane was heard overhead in 1927 as it completed its Atlantic crossing. Lindberg definitely later visited the aerodrome in nearby Lessay but local entrepreneurs tried to capitalize on Lindbergmania by promoting a huge monument, hotels, casinos, golf-courses and even a seaplane base in nearby Portbail. None of this happened but the name stuck. The town retains a slightly sun-bleached hippyish feel, with plenty of young parents as well as dreadlocked white guys barefoot on the sandy pavements. Last market of the weekend was Hauteville. Further south, Hauteville-sur-Mer is near the large resorts of Agon-Coutainville and Granville. As we expected it was crowded with tourists, but the shaded location made for a pleasant morning hunt.

We were lucky to meet up with some traders Carole knew who gave us a first go at some of their crates.

My favorite item was this small piece:

Its a small devotional showing Sainte-Anne-d'Auray. Anne was mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the 16th century a Breton peasant uncovered a statue of Anne in a field where an apparition commanded him to build a basilica. This became a major pilgrimage site and Sainte Anne d'Auray became the patron saint of Bretagne. Anne is always depicted as an elderly woman (Anne gave birth to Mary quite late) and with Mary who is depicted as a young child, though already with a holy crown. Brittany has historically been a stronghold of the Roman Catholic Church, and France does love its miracles and apparitions. It seems odd to me, coming from irreligious England, to commemorate a figure barely mentioned in the Gospels, even if a miracle is attached.

England has its own miracles of course, though they are few and far between- The Great Reformation ended that- and English folklore seems to push back to more pagan times. England sometimes seems faithless in comparison to France where at least until recently Faith was very much a living thing. As a committed agnostic, I can only note that this devotional work of art is very much alive- there is a rich crop of fertile mold on the fabric which we will have to remove! #Normandy #History #VideGrenier #Brocante

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