During our most recent trip to France we were fortunate enough to attend an auction. This was nothing like any auction that I have been to in the UK as this one took place in a small Château in the depths of the Normandy Countryside.
We arrived, shocked to find dozens of cars lining the surrounding lanes. After gingerly edging into the hedgerow to park we set off with the crowds in the direction of the sale.
We all had to squeeze past parked vans in the narrow overgrown driveway before emerging into the garden. The house was nestled behind hydrangea bushes, most of the shutters were closed.
In front of the château a crowd had gathered, while a steady stream of people shuffled into the open front door. We joined the queue and were soon enveloped in the gloom, very few of the exterior shutters were open on the ground floor and there was no electricity, so most people were viewing the house contents with the aid of torches.
Having squinted our way around the ground floor rooms we set off up the rickety looking stairs. The first floor was easier to negotiate as more light was coming in through the thickly cobwebbed windows.
It was obvious that nothing had changed for many years. The interior was dilapidated and neglected. The painted panelling was rotten.
This bedroom was wallpapered with 20th century paper but with a patch of delicate blue and white floral paper from a much earlier date. They must have decorated around a piece of furniture for it to have survived so well. The curtains were mid 20th century floral and I hoped the auctioneer would include these in the sale.
Cupboards were full of dusty clothing, left undisturbed for decades. In one very dark bedroom there was a box of hats on the floor, I could see old lace and sequins glinting in the dusty gloom...
The next challenge (apart from navigating the narrow corridors with the posse of locals who were obviously just there for a good old snoop) was to find the stairs to the attics. Sure enough a distressed panelled door revealed the tiny winding staircase to the top of the house.
One of the windows, looking out onto the roof turrets.
After exploring the attics, I was able to make my way into some of the other bedrooms on the first floor.
There were 2 bathrooms on this floor, one decorated in hideous orange marble, circa 1980's, the other of a slightly earlier date comprising of a full-on palette of purple and pink!
Downstairs – the crowds had thinned out, so that we were able to make our way to the kitchen and scullery.
Whoever lived in the house, based their catering in the tiny kitchen with 1970s décor.
The atmospheric rambling, overgrown garden had some wonderful statues.
Lastly, we were able to explore the outbuildings. Most of them full of discarded furniture, and this fab skiing poster from the 1950's.