Thursday, 3 October 2013

Autoloze and Brocante

There is no explanation for this sculpture.
It was Car Free Sunday here in Brussels this weekend, a day when public transport is free (try explaining that to a Japanese family desperately attempting to shove their metro cards into the machine) and the streets are full of bicycles and junk. The Belgians love a good flea market. Any excuse, and they’re out there, displaying their worldly goods on bits of carpet or tarpaulin. Car Free Sunday is a wonderful idea to raise awareness for greener transportation choices – as well as public transport being free, cars are actually banned from the city centre, and you need a permit if you do want to drive – but the lack of vehicles on the roads also allows communities to use the space for other things…

These images all come from our walk down Rue de la Page and around Place Chatelain (where the top left photo with the hamster-esque plastic balls was taken), from where we continued across the eerily silent Avenue Louise (a major route through the city, with about six million lanes of traffic) to Place Flagey, where the usually busy Sunday market was heaving with people. On the way back, we passed a tram moving slowly and sedately along Avenue Louise, accompanied by bicycles of all kinds with riders of all ages in some sort of pro-cycling parade. I wish I had photos of some of the groups we saw, but my Blackberry camera is not too happy with moving images.

The variety of STUFF on the streets at times like these is amazing. ‘Brocante’ appears to apply equally to both ‘vintage collectors’ items’ and ‘stuff that is broken so I don’t want any more but you might’. People appear to use it as an excuse to clear out, and I do wonder if they ever manage to sell these things. There are antiques dealers as well, and stalls which look a bit more professional (perhaps specialising in something), but my experience is that if you’re going to sell something, the weirder the better. Some of the more ridiculous offerings – limescaled kettles without lids, wickerwork baskets with massive holes in, piles of beaten-up trainers – are not included here, but I hope these photos capture the idea. I love the old house number plates, that combination of blue and white seems so French to me. But alongside those? A tangle of screws and odd brackets. Various bits of ironmongery, including door locks. A single wooden coathanger. I did see a beautiful Singer sewing machine table, but alas it was already sold. We could have consoled ourselves with all the Johnny Halliday CDs one could want, but, instead, we visited Lilicup for a beautiful lemon and lavender cupcake (eaten walking back across Chaussee de Waterloo with no cars to be seen in either direction):

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