St Tropez braderie = clearance sale (c) Kristin Espinasse

brader (brah-day) verb

1 to sell off; to sell for next to nothing
2. (se débarrasser) to get rid of

une braderie = a sidewalk, clearance sale

brader les prix = to cut prices

Acheter ce dont on n'a pas besoin, c'est le moyen d'aller de tout à rien. Buying what we don't need is the way to go from all to nothing.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

On a humid and hazy vendredi matin, we arrive in St. Tropez to find the parking lot presque plein. Along the port the artists are setting up shop: a chair, several canvases for sale and a work-in-progress on the easel. Multi-million dollar yachts are parked alongside a dozen or so small fishing boats for equal opportunity frimerie. A restaurant on the port announces its "Menu Braderie" -- a bold offering when you consider that "braderie" means "to get rid of" (yesterday's Bouillabaisse? day-old baguettes?).

We are in St. Tropez ("St. Trop" for the locals) for the famous Braderie d'Automne. 100,000 shoppers are expected to descend on the former quaint fishing village with hopes to "dénicher la bonne affaire."

Not fifteen steps into our quest for les bonnes affaires and we are stalled in a cramped rue piétonne, swallowed up by power shoppers.

"You've got to push." Barbara says. I look up at all these delicate French women and am afraid of crushing them, or at the very least ruffling their delicate chemises.* I push. Pardon. Oh, pardon. Pardon...

In front of every boutique, tables full of discounted merchandise. Kiwi brand bathing suits at 30 Euros instead of 90, GAS jewelry at 20 euros instead of 65. "Ça vaut la peine,"* the women say, as they sort through boxes of bijoux de fantaisie.*

Nothing for sale outside Louis Vuitton's and in front of Tommy Hilfiger's, no tables. The mannequins in the window are stripped. Inside, the salespeople look like TH models. C'est rigolo.*

"C'est..... Trop!" I say to Barbara, as we surface from la foule.*
"On ne sait plus ou donner de la tête!"* she says, translating my sentiments into her French.

Early on, I realize I would rather be watching than rummaging. I long to be a French seagull perched high on a colorful striped canvas store,* making harmless tongue-in-beak commentary as the Tropéziens file by, weighed down with chic paper shopping bags.

From where I am, c'est-à-dire,* sea level, in the belly of the crowd, I see a lot of bare midriffs, cleavage and pouty lips. I see men with coiffed hair and shoppers in talons hauts* toting dogs the size of an American football. I listen to the French who say things like, "Ils ont pas beaucoup de choses à brader là-bas."* Or, "Ici, c'est que les vieilleries!"*

We leave St.Trop with four small sacs* between us. Swim trunks for Barbara's son and a few nappes* for my friends and family back home. The sun eventually crept through the fog offering us a free St. Tropez tan, without the jingle cream, without le bain. And we are left with un bon souvenir* of a day in late October à un prix assez bas.*

*References: vendredi matin (m) = Friday morning; presque plein = almost full; frimerie = (a made up word from "frimer" = to show off); dénicher la bonne affaire = to unearth a good deal; une rue piéton (f) = pedestrian street; une chemise (f) = a shirt; Ça vaut la peine = it's worth the trouble (rummaging); les bijoux de fantaisie (m) = costume jewelry; c'est rigolo = it's funny; Ils ont pas beaucoup de choses à brader là-bas = they don't have a lot on clearance over there; une vieillerie (f) = old thing; la foule (f) = the crowd; C'est trop = It's too much; On ne sait plus ou donner de la tête! = We don't know where to begin (to look); un store (m) = awning; c'est-à-dire = that's to say; les talons hauts (m) = high heels; un sac (m) = shopping (bag); une nappe (f) = tablecloth; le bain (m) = bath (sun bath); un bon souvenir = a good memory: à un prix assez bas = for quite a low price

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