The south of France is awash with antique and second hand furniture and furnishings. The French often no longer favour the beautiful but huge armoires and buffets as they do not fit into the boxy, modern pavilions (small, detached houses) that are appearing throughout the French countryside (mmm, that’s another blog).
My aim has always been to create a French country home in my 18th century bed and breakfast and holiday cottage and with this in mind I have been a frequent visitor to the various outlets for old furniture. Primarily the brocante in Mirepoix that sells antiques (& junk) and the Troc in Carcassonne, likewise. Recently we discovered the Vente aux Encheres Publiques (public auction) in Pamiers which on our first visit had a stunning collection of furniture, linens and chandeliers, genuine antiques at rock bottom prices – mainly.
However, my French is dreadful and cent (100) sounds terribly like cinq (5) particularly in the sing-song, 100kms an hour voice of the Commissaire – Priseur. The dictionary defines priser as to value or, to take snuff. Really. So for much of the auction which lasted for 3.5hrs, I sat in silence until towards the end when I could contain myself no longer and bid for these 4 solid oak chairs for the bargain price of 15 euros (+20% commission).The next antiques auction is on Saturday and with my newly honed bidding skills I intend to make a play for the lit de coin, (corner bed) above. I have made a mistake with these in the past – there isn’t a mattress in the south of France to fit my beautifully carved rosewood bed.