An Unexpected Passion, French Brocantes




Tom has discovered an unexpected passion here in France. He’s found he enjoys the  thrill of setting off early Sunday morning on the hunt. No, he has not overcome his aversion to guns, and no, he doesn’t like mushrooms enough to give up his precious free time for a morning tramping around in a buggy forest. His prey is gold leaf picture frames, vases that can be used in still life paintings, furniture to fill just the right nook, garden decorations, and doors. He has a particularly good nose for doors.
Bathroom Doors Trophy
Every Sunday from May through August there is at least one antique fair somewhere within thirty minutes of Bourdeilles. Sundays in France are emphatically a day for leisure, so there can be no mowing, tractor work or sawing noises.  Taking one day a week off from painting, Tom filled his Vermont Sundays with, what else?-- mowing, tractor work, and making sawing noises. So my hunting companion is eager, if not just a tad grumpy. 
As with any hunt we rise early and fortify ourselves with hot coffee and a slice of toast to give us focus, but nothing to weigh us down. Agility of the brain and body is going to be important for the next few hours. Our gear for the outing is comfortable shoes and a basket for any small game. We even clean out the car in case we bag something bigger. We’ve paid attention to the weather forecast for other necessities such as hats and gloves on cold winter mornings or umbrellas and wellies at just about any season if the fair is to be in mowed fields. 

The car ride to a fair is always quiet with expectation and one can feel the tension mount as we arrive to already-parked cars and some scoundrels are already engaged in the hunt. There will be little conversation until the car is parked and we have spied the first vendor. It always takes a few minutes to suss out the terrain of the fair. Will it be elegant, eclectic, or just early attic stuff. No matter. Suspense is the point of the hunt. The thrill of finding a treasure no matter the conditions. The junkier the setting the more exciting it is to flush out the prey. With eyes kept just slightly out of focus we let them float over the terrain to catch just that right thing. This right thing is camouflaged amongst some of the most ridiculously awful stuff any one can imagine:  skis from the sixties, Beta videos from the seventies, rusted stationary bikes from the eighties and nothing from the too-recent nineties.


Divergent thinking has proven to be Tom’s strength while stalking interesting things for our home and garden. It turns out that doors are his specialty. Doors that can be refitted to make kitchen storage. Doors that require walls to be reconfigured so that their elegance and history can continue to live on. Doors that can be taken apart and used for a new purpose in outdoor rooms. I fear that someday Tom will combine this new passion with his existing arboreal obsession and I will awake to doors hanging from our trees.
Courtyard Sliding Doors Trophy

Since starting the blog I have avoided the subject of antiques fairs because there are other writers that show and describe these outings so much better than I will. Below are links to some sites that I encourage you to visit. You’ll see we are not the only ones with this hunting instinct. 
Bathroom a la Marie Antoinette Trophy

Kitchen Pantry Doors Trophy
Salvaged Elegance Trophy
Top Game Trophy


I thought you might like to see some of Tom’s trophies mounted. And as you can see if you ever need doors for someplace Tom’s your man. (Please keep him away from your trees.) The only hunting equipment he needs is an idea of where the trophy will be mounted, a tape measure, and a field full of funky stuff to flush out - well, and maybe a check book.