The first purchases were made from a dealer with a large showroom, courtyard and barns. The barns were full of items still “dans leur jus” (- in their juice) as the French say, waiting for restoration. I found I was much more interested in the contents of the barns – climbing over obstacles, peering through a stack of furniture with a torch to see what was at the back. My absolute novice status was doubtless, but Claude the proprietor and his wife and the dog encouraged me on. We lined up three large mirrors and a cupboard painted in bright yellow gloss against the barn wall. A price was broached and negotiated, and the items were loaded into Moe. My happiness was indeed great. Van doors were shut, hands were shaken, and as we were about to leave, Madame said, “Vous voulez des pommes?” (- you want some apples?) We did.
The first early morning foray to a market was a solo 5am drive to Richelieu – Graham drew the line at such an early start. I had emailed the tourist office and got dates for the markets there. Driving along pitch black winding lanes, hoping I’d arrive before I ran out of diesel, I did feel a mixture of nerves and excitement. I made it to Richelieu as the sky was just beginning to lighten. What a strange and fascinating town! It is set out in a perfect grid of beautiful stone buildings. The covered market place was easily located and beneath the ancient roof beams were stall holders, already setting out their wares. But all I could see were lettuces, aubergines and leeks – not a stick of wood wormy furniture in sight. I groaned inwardly.
At that grey blue early morning time, the café beamed with light. The red neon letters above the door broadcast their message of “Bar” to welcome the sleepy and, in my case rather deflated, marketeer to a grand crème and croissant.
Never mind, tant pis! Another market tomorrow.