Back in rural Normandy, my next appointment was with a dealer only a few kilometres away and I wanted to get there before lunchtime closing. But Sylvie, as I found out she was called, said, no problem, I will be here. Sylvie showed me round both her warehouse and the two shops clustered together on the same village street. Space in Moe was limited but we managed to push in a lovely demi-lune table with a secret drawer – and just the right dimensions for a client who was looking. I also bought a pale grey, slim legged writing table and two shutters, but would have to collect them on the next trip. Sylvie poured us a glass of orange juice at the end of our work, and we sat just in the shade at the entrance to the warehouse, cooling ourselves a little. We said we’d probably see each other the following day at the big Vide Grenier at St Michel des Andaines.

With little space left for any furniture, there was no point continuing on to another dealer, so I went to visit a nearby hilltop Medieval town, climbing a steep stone steps beneath a draping lilac wisteria. Up in the town I chanced upon a small antiques shop and found myself having a friendly conversation with the owner. She’d worked in Paris, but retired to the country. “In Paris, all my stock came through word of mouth connections and clearing houses. I had a very good clientele. Ah, the pleasure of opening up old cupboards – one touches history, n’est ce pas. But here, les gens sont des rats!” she clenched a fist to her chest, “they keep everything between themselves – it is very hard. But look how chatty I am being with you! Do look around my little shop!” I bought some 19th century pen and ink prints and a small watercolour of a well dressed woman holding her little dog, as a pack of less refined dogs looked on with interest! I’ll make you a prix amicale, she said.

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