I have just been in France this month at our house in Normandy, and took some time to spend weekends looking around the vide greniers - the French summer pastime which comprises of the population of villages or town communities putting the contents of their attics onto a table in the street, for sale. It is a charming thing, and I have visited many delightful villages which I would otherwise never have done.
We went to an utterly lovely village called St Christophe de Jajolet, in the Orne department and spent several hours marvelling at the selection of wares for sale. There was honey and cider (always present in Normandy of course), 2nd world war artifacts, linen, clothes, tools and so on. And of course, we found things to cherish, things that we never knew we always wanted! The weather was hot, the fields were full of wildflowers, poppies, corn-cockles, hearts-ease and the small stream babbled its meandering way between fields and under the bridge, whilst we watched goldfinches bathing. Perfect.
Amongst all sorts of treasures, household linen is a regular item for sale, sheets and pillowcases, unused Trousseaus with embroidered initials of husband and wife, lace and tea towels. Some of the linen is 19th c home-spun and loomed, some of the later sheets are the French metis which is half cotton, half linen and very durable. The tops of sheets sometimes have wonderful detailing, one I bought had a triple band of drawn threadwork and was 10 ft long. Prices have gone up though! but worth every penny when you think of the work in each sheet and that some have never been used.
France has a wonderful tempo of life and if you get the chance, go, it is such a pleasant way to pass time and it affirms a way of life long gone from here.