Les plus beaux jours….

(I have been writing a memoire of my buying trips to France for quite some time. Over the years the things I like to buy have changed, and external events, notably Brexit and Covid, have influenced how and what one can buy. Recently my jottings have been more random than regular posts, but here I am again and I will continue to catch up from pre-pandemic times. Thanks for reading!)

Then on further south through Normandy, round hair pin bends and across plains, villages and fields readied for winter, to a favourite stop – a large one storey building divided into three large wings. 

But despite the place being full, full, full of objects and furniture I found nothing here for me this time.  Of course good finds aren’t round every corner, but the feeling of disappointment still cloys.

As I walk round I clock my thinking processes.  How much? Can I manage the weight/height in the van? Is there any realistic margin? Have I got some like this already that haven’t sold?  What will it cost to get home? Are the legs solid? Where’s the wobble? Do the drawers slide? Is there a key? What will it cost to restore? Realistic thoughts but nonetheless thoughts that can impede the urge to buy.

The Deballage at Chartres, normally held on the Parc des Exhibitions, this time snaked around tree lined local streets still slumbering in the dark morning.  We all tried as best we could to find a spot to park not too far from the action.  Torches at the ready, groups of buyers trawled along. A Dutch dealer had brought some distinctively shaped cupboards and chests and had a gaggle of buyers milled around.  I managed to get my hands on a beauty of a chest with lion paw feet and lovely contours. 

Further on a farmhouse table was bought. Old waxed cloth, now torn, had been nailed to the top many years before but underneath looked in good condition. It would just need a good scrub and freshen up. Later, in the daylight, the dealer’s son and I processed it down a long street of houses back to my van!  Other great purchases were made and I set off towards Le Mans in high spirits, if not rather tired from early rising and strenuous loading.

I joined the cavalcade of white vans driving west from Chartres on the old N23 and an hour or so later pulled up to a brocante shop by a welcoming hedge and promptly fell asleep.  And how delicious to wake up and know I had more brocantes to visit that afternoon

Many brocantes had popped up along this road between Chartres and Le Mans.  At the back of one large old warehouse was a graveyard of furniture, piled and slumping.  How long does something get left outside in all weathers before it’s gone too far and is destined for the bonfire?

At Le Mans I bought a massive cupboard, with thick dust of decades inside its crown. There was just enough clearance in Nelly as it was hefted in.  I had bought a van full and was happy, but many dealers were commenting on how hard it was becoming to find good stock. 

Les plus beaux jours sont derriere nous,” (the best days are behind us) lamented one dealer.  Maybe that is what they were saying a hundred years ago as well……

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