lundi 30 septembre 2013

Chez nous...................

It`s nice to be back home at the chateau after a busy week of travelling. I have a wonderful array of old treasures to get listed and I have taken to adding little peeks of what is coming up on the simply-chateau Facebook page each day. You can find the Facebook link on the right border here.

The Stockman mannequin above is one of my favourite finds as she still has her old textile intact. She is such a waspie-waisted mademoiselle with her 23" waist!

Tartelette flew back to the US on Saturday and peace reigns here now! Phew! I am left with two of her purchases; stunning 18th century chairs whose temporary home is here in the salon. But I don`t mind...I quite like them visiting.

I do confess that some poor tuc tuc pedaller had the task of hauling the two of us up the traffic-laden Champs Elysees. The poor man looked like he needed gas and air after he had finished with us!

I forced Tartelette to order supper at Laduree in her best French accent which had us falling about in hysterics. A lady dining alone at the next table joined in and told us she was from Washington and that she was celebrating her 60th birthday alone as she was in Paris on business. Of course we paid for her supper as a treat and sang "Bonne anniversaire"  - which was more like a birthday torture!

The next morning after an early start at the flea market we hauled our treasure-filled trolley onto the Metro where it promptly collapsed and gave up under the weight. It really wasn`t a problem as, from that point, we used the car for the rest of the truffling trip.

At one point, some three days later, Tartelette was strapped into the back seat of the car with an old plaster shop mannequin bust. We decided the bust was better company and much more intelligent!

By the time we arrived back "chez nous" the car was bursting with treasures and I had threatened Tartelette that should she wish to buy anything else it could be no bigger than 4" square.

If you are visiting The Shepton Flea market at The Bath and West showground in Somerset this coming weekend you might discover Frou Frou with her stand on an outdoor pitch. She has rifled my armoires and studio and will be laden with vintage treasures. When I have an attic clearance over here lots of items remain unpacked and she has taken advantage of me; now I know what it's like to be truffled!

More news from the chateau tomorrow as my latest finds are photographed.

A prochaine mes belles

mercredi 25 septembre 2013


Just a quick photograph of the window display at Repetto in Paris whilst I am out and about truffling......................

I could hardly bear to tear myself away!!!

Back soon mes belles

jeudi 19 septembre 2013

Paris here I come..................

I am setting off to Paris tomorrow to meet up with Tartelette for a little flea market 'truffling' before we set off on our road trip next week. I am expecting her to be waiting for me under the clock inside Saint Lazare station . She is like a whirlwind of energy with knobs on but I am ready for it!!!

I think I should wear a label saying " If found in a distressed state please return this person to Le Petit Chateau du Breuil".

After some flea market heaven..........................

I have been promised lunch at Laduree!

We will then come back briefly to Normandy to unload our treasures -  before setting off again for a week of truffling around France.

And as for those bundles of letters I referred to yesterday.......

..........Mark and I sat up until 3am this morning glancing through some of them.

All are dated and it is clear that the soldier wrote a letter/sent  a card to his sewwtheart virtually very day. Inside one of the bundles was a photograph of the young lovers so we can at least put faces to their names. It`s going to be a wonderful story - but I think the ending is going to be a real tear jerker.

The story starts whilst the couple were courting (1933), includes the birth of their daughter, Collette  (1934), reveals the day-to-day routine of an Army officer of the time for a few years preceding and  then after the occupation of France by the Germans in WW2.  A true tale of a 'grand amour" 

 The writing is quite spidery in places and hard to read and some of the " old" French is difficult to translate, but I have been to see a good friend today who is willing to help with the translation. There are so many letters that I think I will open up another blog site just for recounting the story so we can all watch it unfold.

I aim to start the new blog when I return home next week and shall let you all know what it shall be called.

A la prochaine mes belles

mercredi 18 septembre 2013

The Eagle has landed.............

I am locking my armoires as we speak .  Why?..... because the eagle has landed!!!

Amy " Mademoiselle Tartelette" from Oregon, USA is on her way. Currently in the South of France she is making her way up country, truffling for treasures.

That girl sure has "eagle eyes";  the last time she spotted, whilst languishing in the bath, just the tiniest corner of a rare panel of Toile de Jouy peeking out from an armoire. This panel is now in her bathroom in Oregon having been made into a window blind!!! Stolen, borrowed, truffled....whatever!

But you know, it`s not too bad as the giving of presents can work both ways! Tartelette sent me the MOST divine chateau pelmet which takes pride of place above the window in my dining room.


She also sent me the most amazing set of four tiny silk 19th century lampshades with gilded wirework lattice trim that happened to sit perfectly on my girondolle light.  I am considering hiding them as she might want to take them back home when she sees how divine they look!!

Miss Tartelette always takes up residence in the attic bedroom right up in the roof of our tiny chateau. I have a plan this time to lure her in there with chocolat from Monsieur Besnier, ( our local and fantastic chocolatier), a few timeworn treasures and a vase or roses by her bedside. Once she is in I shall padlock the stairs and then raid her car to see what she has bought " en route" !!.

She is stopping off in Paris on the way here and I am just pondering whether to take the train down to meet her for a little flea market heaven at the weekend before our "big" truffling road trip next week.

Soooo...........mes week I shall be 'AWOL' as we set off on our brocanting road trip. Who knows what we will find but I can be sure that my sides will be hurting from laughing; they always do! Did I tell you that the last time that Tartelette and I went brocanting she was worn out by mid-morning - and simply lay out flat on someone`s garden wall for a snooze!

We both laughed till we cried when an irate little monsieur  came out of his door, gesticulating wildly and ordered off his new wall!!

But we bought well , and couldn`t get one more item in the car.Tartelette`s hand is just peeping through ;can you see? If you look even closer at that sheet bottom left you will see a crown monogram!


She phoned me this morning to say the weather was wonderful in Avignon with the sunshine is beating down. All I can say is that something here is beating down too, but and it`s not the sun - it`s lashing rain!

But , despite the weather, my 19th century balconniere window grilles are finally being fixed in place. I am over the moon as they look as if they have always been there.

And then, here is the latest dilemma.  Well not a dilemma really; it`s something I keep thinking about and cannot decide what to do.

I bought this batch of 1930s/40s letters from a man who had cleared a house. The tied bundle of letters have the year they were sent  ( from 1935 to 1940) written on the 'wrapping' paper. All from a Captain in the French army to his wife or sweetheart. I have read just a couple and they are the most wonderful love letters. There are some photographs among the letters too.

 The letters have clearly been treasured and, as you can see, I haven`t even unwrapped them.

So, they are all letters from the Captain to his love and are written  almost daily. But there is one envelope, with the latest date (dated 1940)  that contains a batch of HER letters to HIM...and has been returned, with all the letters unopened.The outer envelope simply says "letters destined for Captain Raynaud". Does this mean he didn`t come back from the war and the army returned them to her? What intrigue!

I was going to sell them as an archive batch but I don`t think I can. I know there is a story in there that will unravel as the letters are translated. I know I don`t have time either to sit and go through the lot all in one go.

So....mes belles....I have an idea. Should we do one letter at a time together and I can tell you all what each one says until we reach the end of this story? Some of the wording is difficult to read but I could decipher what I could. They must have had children as there is a child`s letter to father ( which as also returned in the 'unopened' bundle. The story may turn out to have a sad, traumatic ending though and we may need handkerchiefs at the end?

I could end my normal blogs with an update of each letter opened.

What do you think?

A prochaine mes belles


samedi 14 septembre 2013

Give me beguiling candlelight............

This weekend is the "Patrimoine weekend" here in Normandie where many local manoirs and chateaux open their doors for a once a year public tour. I love it as it is my chance to get a look inside some of those wonderful privately-owned buildings that I gaze at all year.

One very beautiful chateau was listed on the visiting list so off we went. We arrived at a small marquee on the drive, paid our 3 euros and set off towards the chateau.

However, as we got closer we were diverted into a barn to look at bullet holes and tin hats left over from the war and that was it! No entrance to the chateau!!

Excuse me!!! As important as the D Day memorabilia is here in Normandie, I do not want bullets, tin hats, barbed wire and guns!!!!!!

Give me aristocracy, cravattes, beguiling candle light, monogrammed bed linens and cutlery. I want bed canopies, tapestries, gilded mirrors and urns with the odd Count or Countess being at home thrown in!!!

I shall try another chateau tomorrow.

How dares they?!!!

Madame flaps her fan, adjusts her bustle and flounces out of the salon!!

A demain mes belles


vendredi 13 septembre 2013

Friday is fine, Gaston.....................

Friday has become a bit of an unofficial day off for us. I photograph and list my latest finds from Monday to Thursday whilst Mark deals with the packaging and posting off of our parcels. Weekends are spent truffling for treasures - so Friday is a day we like to leave free.

Today we got up a little later than usual. Mark did a little packaging and loaded the parcels into the car -  and then we set off for what turned out to be a wonderful lunch with two good friends of ours at a small local restaurant. The kind of friends where you don`t have to dress up, you can be yourself, it is always in a relaxed atmosphere - and you know that you are in the best company possible!!

After our kisses goodbye we set off for the post office to catch the daily lorry for Paris prior to driving on to the supermarche.

En route old Gaston swerved out of his farmyard without stopping, directly in front of us. In his mind I'm sure he thought he was driving at flat out racing driver speed; in real life he was doing about 15 miles an hour!! But the old French road rule ( give priority to a vehicle coming in from the right) can still be unnerving - particularly when the road joins directly onto a major road!) Some of the older residents here still stick to that rule to the letter even though 'stop' lines are often painted across the minor roads. We've discovered that you just need to remain constantly alert for the unpredictable!

We knew it was going to be a very, very slow procession to the supermarche so we stopped en route to photograph my favourite empty chateau - Blanchelands....

Still for sale, still empty and still hauntingly beautiful.

I always tell day it will be mine!

We  figured we were safe and had missed old Gaston but no...he had just arrived before us at the shopping carts!

How can he have taken THAT long to get there?!!

But do you know what? It`s

Gaston can drive as slow as he likes. ......But PLEASE - don`t let him pull out in front of me on a Sunday morning on the way to a brocante!!

Have a wonderful weekend mes belles

mardi 10 septembre 2013

Robins in the Trundle Bed and the travelling chapeau...................

A parcel wrapped with wonderful spotted paper arrived on the chateau steps a few weeks ago from those gorgeous girls at Robins in the Trundle bed!

Amongst the treasures beautifully packed inside was a wonderful Edwardian straw boater!!! I am over the moon!!!

It is not just any old hat; it is a fine specimen, made in Switzerland.

I was ready to hang it next to my favourite mannequin but NO!!! This chapeau had different ideas!
It took to the air and flew to the top of the lane...........
.....and then on to perch on the fence of the large chateau at the end of the village with me in hot pursuit.
And so the chase went on to...............

...the door of our mayor's office..........and then to....

La poste.....

and to church................before entering the village.

He rested a while on the washing stone at the village lavoir. Up until the early 1900s the women of the village would bring their linens and launder them here!! Then off he went again....... the bench on the riverbank ....before flying off again, coming to rest............

...back at the 'chateau'. Who knows where that restless chapeau will go next?

A la prochaine mes belles


lundi 9 septembre 2013


I woke up in the night and pottered into the bathroom and switched on the light. Honestly.....initially  I though some huge pink angry prawn had installed itself in there over night and then I realised it was the dresser!!!!

What was I thinking?!!! As soon as I have finished my listings today the dresser will be changed to soft old cream!!

A la prochaine mes belles

dimanche 8 septembre 2013

Cup cake left out in the rain...........

I wanted to change the dresser so it became stark wedding cake white......and looked okay......

...........but then I found a tin of soft rose pink paint so now I am adding it as a sparse colour wash.......

I have just stopped to take a photograph as whilst the paint is wet it is looking like a pink iced cup cake that has been left out in the rain!

I`ll see how it looks when it dries. I want a very very soft hue of pink over the white. If it looks too strong it may be white again pretty soon!!

I am having a slight " what have I done?" moment!!

Looking at it now I can see where this " moment" has come from. I was reading  the latest edition of" Maison Romantique" yesterday that had a wonderful mannequin in a iced pink tutu that I couldn't get it out of my mind,

I shall keep you posted!