Good relations

altarFurther on I stop in a village to meet up with a dealer I’ve visited before. A wedding celebration is in full swing under a marquee next to the church. In the large warehouse I find an 18th century wooden altar surround stacked in pieces. I buy the dusky pink, elephant grey and gold painted tabernacle. It is still fragrant with incense and made of oak as hard as iron. A chandelier and three opulent mirrors later I am ready to head on.

Still in search of oak doors, I enquire of the next dealers, a lovely couple I have also seen before. I’ve bought a lovely painted commode, and haggled amicably over books, glasses, paintings. “Non!” he makes a mock-tragic face to his wife, “you can’t let her have them at such a price.” “Mais oui!” she says, “ we must encourage her to come back to see us again!” He shrugs and gets to his feet, indicating I should follow. We go into one of the outhouses and climb a ladder into the loft. I half expect the floor to give way as he leads me past stacks of dismantled of wardrobes and buffets into another room full of doors. My skirt catches on a nail and tears. I don’t find what I’m looking for and when we get back down his wife teases me, “Madame, you go to the loft with my husband and then your skirt is torn, what must I think!?” The banter continues while we have a cup of Liptons and then its time to be on my way.

I’m staying that night at a longere, a typical long, low Farmhouse in the Perche region known for its magnificent Percheron horses. I arrive just in time for Madame to tell me that she has reserved a table at a very agreeable restaurant nearby and insists on driving me over there herself: “You have been driving all day and now it is time to relax”.

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