The Marche Paul Bert was more lively.


The Marche Paul Bert was more lively, with some beautifully presented stands opening onto the narrow lanes. At lunchtime the dealers, mostly in sheepskin hats, thick coats and scarves, pulled up eighteenth century tables and chairs and sat down to their hot lunches, baguettes, cheeses and bottles of wine. Not a plastic packed sandwich in sight.

As well as the small shops there are also the street dealers who set up on the pavement at the weekend and the whole place took on a different atmosphere. It was busy enough in January, and I was glad to avoid the heave of the summer months.

I learn with each purchase made – building up a comparative knowledge, and getting a sense of what most appeals to me. There is something about walnut wood that gets to me, and I found a wonderful writing table, small, pleasingly made, fine cabriole legs, deep patina. And I like monogrammed linens, and leather bound books printed before the Revolution (with the approval of The King), hand made wine glasses, small and intimate oil paintings, I could go on – and on! Here I have to mention mirrors. An eighteenth century Italian wood carved mirror, partly gilded and partly painted in cream and a chalky blue also sang out to me. Perhaps buying a piece is like having a brief affair – you love it, hold it and then let it go. Advice given to me subsequently backs this up: “Never, ever, buy something just because you don’t want to come back with empty space in the van”/”If you don’t like it yourself, don’t buy it”/”Only buy what you’d want to have in your own home”. There seems to be a sound integrity in that.

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