Three boxes full of yarn and new plates have been mailed off and I've got a fourth waiting to be filled with a years' supply of local soap, a salad bowl and my latest fashion finds. There are two local producers of provençal fabrics/clothes that have pricey boutiques in Paris and in the more touristy towns. One is Les Olivades and the other is Soleiado. Now, if you ever find yourself in Tarascon or Arles and see all the locals wearing brightly patterned shirts you may think they're a pretty well-heeled bunch around here as these shirts usually go for 70 dollars or so. Thanks to a casual mention at a dinner party, I found out where and when that most sacrosanct of local bargain hunting was to be found--the Soleiado factory warehouse sale.
I left the kids, I left the husband, I even left a full glass of rosé behind at lunch as I took to the wheel of our dusty rental car and set out for the second roundabout after Les Olivades and next to the Formule 51 hotel in a zone industriel outside of Tarascon. And there it was, a nondescript warehouse with a parking lot full of dusty Renaults, Peugots and Citroens with packs of Marlboros on the dashboards. Inside bins and bins of bright yellow, green and fuchsia shirts and skirts with shelves of tablecloths, placemats and fabric. The most expensive thing was maybe 15 euros---paydirt, baby!
As the shirts were 5 euros, there was a certain amount of jovial jostling as I elbowed my way in among the Tarasque housewives, grandmothers and daughters. Husbands were milling around and patiently standing by as their wives held up shirts that look more suited for back-up singers at Dollywood than the local plumbers, electricians and boule players. I always buy the largest sizes as the French have yet to recognize that big-boned American gals are a head taller and 4 sizes bigger than their gallic counterparts (those French are all convinced that they wear a 36 or 38 regardless of age). Two shopping bags later, I returned to base camp and that glass of rosé.
So, the next time you're in Austin and you hear some broad humming "Jolene" in a bright green paisley shirt and hot pink leggings in the wine section at Whole Foods, it will be yours truly.