Laurent was preparing for major works in his shop. An eleven metre long roof truss needed to be replaced. He was keen to clear as much stock as he could beforehand and I was delighted with a set of eight dining chairs offered at a good price.
Across the road was an elderly dealer, always welcoming and kind, who despite having hurt her back wanted to unfold dazzlingly white piqué de Marseille quilts to show me the exquisite stitching. Impossible not to share in her enthusiasm.
Lunch time service on the busy, sun dappled terrace of Les Marroniers was in full swing. I was shown through into the bar – cool and dark – with marble topped tables and bunches of dried pimentos hanging from the ceiling. I quietly enjoyed my lunch, rested and caught up with paperwork before the afternoon shift.
I was greeted flamboyantly in another shop. “Ah, but it is the English lady, bonjour!” I noted three large portraits smiling serenely down and the son of the owner climbed up to bring them down for a closer look. They were by a well known Marseille artist from the 1930’s. I was less keen on the third portrait, although in the end, voyons, we agreed it would be trop triste, too sad, to separate them so she came too.
Further down the plane tree lined avenue, deep in the back of her shop I found the dealer who manages to source great rolls of hemp and wonderful linens. She looked up and beamed at me, she had just sold fifty 1930’s men’s striped work shirts for a film production and was happy. We worked our way through piles of fabric, setting aside what I would take. “Will you be at Montpellier on Tuesday?” she asked. “When you need a little refreshment to give you energy we will have a glass of red wine for you.”
The rest of the afternoon disappeared beneath purchases, bubble wrap and boxes for Barry to pick up later. I’d booked at one of my favourite restaurants on a bluff above the sea and was going to be late. After a good day’s buying it was a pleasure to sit out on the terrace in the last of the golden sun, glass of palest rosé to hand. As always, the food and service were impeccable, and the crème brulée for dessert arrived still flaming.