Sometimes I find nothing or little of interest as I drive from place to place, and then I chance upon the unexpected and delightful. In a small village, next to the worn stone church tower, I found a brocante in what had been the local theatre. Faded, painted canvas was still hanging over the proscenium. Gloom and dust prevailed. A huge bowl contained dozens of large wooden cotton reels; a box alongside was full of letters from before the war. Then in a Depot Vente nearby I grubbed around and found nothing but formica cabinets on chrome legs and the detritus of modern life. Then again in Rochepot, a gingerbread village well equipped for tourism, the antique shops were truly exquisite, with prices to match. I didn’t stay long there.
Back in Basse Normandie, after a circuit via the Atlantic coast, I came to a Depot Vente that had just opened up in a disused railway yard. This looked promising!! The place still smelled of paint and the proprietor looked delighted to have a customer. Would I like a coffee? he asked. As I wandered round with my little white coffee cup, two hefty gilt wood and plaster frames propped against a wall caught my eye. And a big marble topped washstand. They come from the same large house, Monsieur told me. These items demanded to be purchased – and, of course, loaded. Between us we wheeled the extremely heavy marble top on a trolley down a ramp to the van. Go slowly, he said, marble doesn’t like vibration, it can snap – comme une carrotte! A surge of anxiety – what did I just let myself in for? But all goes well , no mishaps on the potholed journey home.