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May 31, 2007

You just don't know what's lurking deep in the French countryside. Francoise asks me if I would like to go with her to a linen sale at a house where she teaches English. She picks me up in her ancient 2CV and off we go puttering into the countryside and up a little track, at the end of which, well-hidden from the road, lies a newly renovated chateau. Inside it is very impressive - all ancient terracotta tiles, old tapestries on the walls and stuffed game and animals at every turn, including a real lion snarling on the staircase. It all looks like a spread from Maison et Campagne, my favourite French interiors magazine. I am far more interested in the antique carpets and amazing views of rolling green countryside from every French window, than I am in the tablecloths and pillow cases that are for sale.

But the owner of the chateau, Madame De La Borde - we do not address her by her first name - is rather formidable and looks me up and down in a way that makes me wish I'd dressed endimanché [in Sunday best]. I am, dare I say it, intimidated - a feeling that does not come naturally to me - and I find myself expressing an interest in some brown linen pillowcases. This is a mistake as a member of her staff is practically wrapping them up for me. 'Oh what a shame, that they don't come in white,' I say, looking for a get-out clause. 'My bedroom is all pale colours, so they won't really work. Francoise comes to my rescue, and, after buying some linen shoe bags, we leave. But I would so love to have seen the rest of the chateau. Maybe next time!

comments (4)

1. Posted by Noel on June 1, 2007 7:53 AM

I love the word Endimanche. Hadn't heard that one before.

2. Posted by Chris on June 5, 2007 10:55 AM

And there I thought the sales people in Harvey Nichols were pushy. Looks like even in rural France they know how to close a deal!

3. Posted by Laurent on June 12, 2007 4:10 PM

I mean, can you blame the 'duchesse'? Those English people are invading our countryside and pushing the prices of derelict farms and ruins up... She canily realised that there was some quick money to be made flogginf off the old linen gathering dust in the cupboards!
Well done on you for resisting the attempts of 'Duchess Pushy'!

4. Posted by mimi pompom on June 12, 2007 4:31 PM

very funny! I wish she had been flogging off her old white linen rather than maron brown, as that I would have jumped at! Imagine: 'by the way, my pillowcases are cast-offs from the local chateau!' How impressive would that be!


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