Lunchtime service in Royan was in full swing. Bright sun caught on awnings, ice cubes tinkled and sea food platters and coupes de glace were delivered with speed to customers on café terraces around the sweep of La Grande Conche beach. I’d parked in a patch of shade in the post war painted concrete backstreets and wandered down to the sea, waiting for the Brocante shop to open at 15h. At a patisserie on the corner I treated myself to a tarte au citron. As Madame handed my package to me she smiled and said “You know who you resemble, don’t you…..” (From time to time in France I receive the marvellous compliment of being compared to Carole Bouquet). I beamed and thanked her very much.
The Brocante was on two floors and I trod carefully between heavy, dark furniture and gleaming fruitwoods piled together, with shelves of smaller items gathering dust in the back. Exploring a new area for good dealers requires a certain spirit of optimism. Determination is also required to combat the crestfallen disappointment of “Oh dear, I’ve come all this way especially ….. “ Fortunately I didn’t leave Royan empty handed. Monsieur, with his hard working hands, work trousers held up by braces, a few strands of hair remaining and glasses pushed up on his head, carried a pretty pedestal table downstairs for me.
I carried on across kilometres of scrubby salt flats to the local Emmaus. Incredible bargains can sometimes be found but, as with most things, it’s a matter of good timing. A sinuous lane led to a group of old agricultural buildings. The courtyard was filled with trestle tables, the sun glinting on piles of glass ware and crockery in abundance. Here was the stuff of daily life and one could happily stock an entire kitchen from here. In one of the barns I spotted a large buffet at a very good price. I should have gone straight to the sales desk, because a few minutes later after a quick look around and with a bedside table under my arm I found the buffet was sold. Lesson learned!
One more stop before I headed back towards Cognac. I’d been given Pascal’s details by a friend, so knew that this was going to be a reasonable call. A large corrugated barn stood on the side of the busy Nationale, with the usual display of wine dryers, trugs and doll’s prams outside. Here indeed was a veritable grotto of jars, platters, mismatched glasses, rush seated chairs and more, and more and more! From out of the dusty gloom a large number of items were ferried to the counter. Initially taciturn, Pascal warmed as we had a bit of a chat. “Pas de nouvelles fraiches….” (no fresh news) he commented wryly as he wrapped my purchases in yellowed newspaper.
I’d had a good day’s exploring and, with boxes loaded, drove, quite content, back to the domaine through the golden early evening.