Tuesday 24 June 2014

Vintage Treasures

Shabby chic, vintage decor, call it what you will but my house is filled with it - an eclectic mix of mostly French and English 'objets' that I've accumulated over the years and found a home for. They have been chosen for their style, colour, history, patina, and I never miss the chance to have a browse wherever I am, in the hope of finding some new treasure to squeeze on to a shelf.

L'Isle sur la Sorgue

Turns out the actor Richard E Grant and I share the same passion - who knew? Grant revealed his love of all things French and vintage on a recent TV programme entitled "Dirty Weekenders" where he revealed that he's been Channel hopping for the past 25 years indulging his "... insatiable desire for beaten up old stuff. Distressed furniture, rusty light fittings, nostalgic paraphernalia...''

Richard E Grant Photo: Radio Times

Oh Richard, I'm so on your wavelength. The programme showed him grubbing around in antique shops, flea markets and French Brocantes on the lookout for that small (or large) gem - see the old metal lantern above - to add to his collection of vintage 'stuff' back home, and I was pleased when he said that he's "always in search of something unusual and interesting rather than valuable." It's not about the value for me either, but about the connection, and the sheer joy of finding an object that will add something to my home decor.

Richard E Grant Photo: Radio Times

For my boys - both large and small, a trip to any flea market or Brocante is quite possibly the most tortuous thing on earth - "BO-RING!" is Rockboy's official verdict, with lots of nodding from English Gent. He just can't see what I see, and I have to negotiate hard to get my 'hour to scour'. But as Grant explained, it's the thrill of the chase that always keeps us coming back for more - and I have to admit I'd love to go off on the hunt with him, though I fear his scarf-wearing skills out-do mine - look how completely chic he looks, I'm loving his tricolore scarf above.

L'Isle sur la Sorgue

I'm rarely looking for something specific, far better to keep an open mind and see what's out there. From old soup tureens, to flower-patterned jugs to chipped church Madonnas, I know immediately I spot something whether it's got that 'je ne sais quoi' and whether, for the right price, it's coming home with me.

 Last Summer when we were visiting some friends in Roussillon in the South of France, I managed to persuade English Gent to accompany me to the town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue which is known as the Venice of France due to all the canals that criss-cross the town and is something of an Antique and Brocante mecca for those in the know. The town hosts regular antique fairs and flea markets, and there are also permanent antique 'villages' selling everything under the sun. Sadly, bargains are few and far to be seen these days - it's unfortunately too well known, so perhaps it's just as well that on the day we visited most of the vendors were closed, but I did get to see a staggering array of things that could have made a severe dent in my wallet if I'd been given half a chance! Grant also went there on his French treasure hunt so I felt pleased to have at least been in the right place, even if it wasn't exactly the right time.

L'Isle sur la Sorgue

Still, I hope to make a return journey this Summer and fingers crossed that this time the shops and markets will be open for business - I'll let you know what I find.


Claudia said...

oh yes! do let us all know!
it doesn't surprise me in the least that you and Grant have the same sense of style! ça se voit...!

The French Connection said...

There is also a lovely food market on Sundays at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, get there early as parking is difficult. Lots of great lunch eating places along the water and nice cafés in the square next to the church for breakfast.

Juliette Chisholm said...

Wonderful, thanks for the top tip, I shall be sure to check it out next time I'm there. Thanks for reading! J x