This was a quick trip down through Normandy to the dealer fairs in Chartres and Le Mans.
In Valognes, on the way from the Cherbourg ferry, a couple of new brocante shops were worth a quick browse and a handful of small purchases were squirrelled into my basket.
A few kilometres further on was a Depot I’d been visiting for many years. Behind chain link fencing, surrounded by rusting metal furniture and rotting, buckled cupboards it offers much satisfaction to those who rifle. After jovial greetings I launched into foray. From dusty shelves I picked out a weighty platter, urns, pitchers, antique jam jars.
No more sheets! I muttered in front of a shelf of antique sheets. The feel of heavy linen and the beautifully worked monogrammes are seductive but I did resiste. A pleasing collection of pictures, ceramics, mirrors, shutters was growing. I wasn’t going to be coming away empty handed.
Next day I popped my head round the entrance of Therese’s shop tucked away down a country lane. Coucou Therese! It is always lovely to see her, to share stories, and appreciate her eye and passion for fine country furniture.
A buffet for me to paint and an oak 18th century side table on delicate cabriole legs – smooth to the touch, a pleasure to behold – were loaded into the van. We agreed we’d meet for dinner the night before the Le Mans fair.
One of the brocante shops I knew nearby in St Sauveur le Vicompte had sadly closed – the demise of high street commerce increasingly evident in France. But a leaflet “La Route des Brocanteurs”had been produced and led me to Pierre, with deep blue eyes, in a hangar in St Sauveur de Lendelin. He came to open up that Sunday morning. Here was another large hangar, dust and cobwebs, forlorn. I picked through the unwanted, outdated, broken. But a pretty garden chair and a bedside table emerged from the back of Pierre’s van which I gladly bought to lift flagging spirits.
On down to Verneuil where I stayed with Domi and Gabrielle, delightful hosts. At the nearby Brocante centre I was offered coffee and cake as I finished my buying, and sat for a chat with a couple of the dealers there.
As I made my way across the carpark at the Campanile motel on the outskirts of Chartres I heard knocking on a window. It was one of the dealers from Station Mill who travels over to France with his horse box. We had supper together that evening and a chilled pale, pale rosé was much appreciated. A nice combination of buying and socialising.