Commodes and mirrors

mirrorA November trip with my good friend Catherine. We’ve come over for the annual large Vide Grenier in Lisieux, and are fortunate that the date coincides with a large “Puces” market in Caen. We drive straight off the boat on a chill Friday morning and straight to the Parc des Expositions. Two large halls are all set up, and trading begins at 10am on the dot. Until then, we have a coffee and pain au chocolat at a formica cafe table in the corner of one of the echoey halls. By 10.10 I have purchased a tall, beautifully gilded heavy framed mirror. A while later we bump into Madame Lannaud, a warm hearted and friendly dealer from further afield in Normandy, and she embraces me – Come let’s have a coffee together. I say bonjour to a couple of other dealers who are selling here, look into a lovely walnut armoire, admire an even lovelier walnut table with cabriole legs, buy a huge distressed carved kitchen shelf with original paint, and then come across an 18th century chest of drawers of great presence and wonderful patina, from a grand house in Normandy. If I buy it though I will leave myself depleted for the rest of the trip. The dealer and I try to find a way round this predicament. I wonder out loud whether, if someone vouched for me, I could take it and transfer funds as soon as I was back in the UK. He makes one of those French shruggy gestures with a bit of a pout which could be translated in many ways, but the gist of it is, On va voir…./Let’s see…. So we track across the hall to find Madame Lannaud, and she reassures him that this would not be a problem at all!

The next stop is a cold and dismal brocante on the D40, which holds no treasures. We carry on east to our chambre d’hote, a half-timbered farm house. Our large beamed attic room is full of antiques and very comfortable. Madame directs us to a nearby village for an excellent supper in a small auberge, seated next to an enormous stone fireplace with log fire burning.

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