Loche is a Renaissance town on the southern edge of the Loire region of France. We had spent several hours in the car on our way to the road race, Circuit Des Ramparts in Angouleme, and were still several hours away. It seemed a perfect stopping-off place for a coffee, cake and, although I didn’t tell Mr Glam, a hunt for vintage.
The Brocante (antiques/ bric a brac) shops in France are well worth a trawl, although if they look chi-chi the prices will be high. Mostly they are piled with, often, very dusty treasures. The trick was to mellow Mr Glam and get a really good look around.
Up a cobbled sloping alleyway, we found a lovely cafe and confectioners shop that also sold gifts. Perfect. With a ping of the bell we entered a small space, fragrant with coffee aromas and an underlying sweetness from a row of rotund jars filled with confection heaven. A large curved counter dominated the space, with several white painted tables for two, set around it. We sat sipping frothy caffe creme from bowl shaped cups, whilst deciding which of the treats on offer we’d buy. I instantly chose the crystalised violets and roses. Reminiscent of the old Classic Cinema’s chocolate counter, in the Kings Road Chelsea, which I’d pass everyday on my way home from school. If I had a few pence saved from my bus fare, I’d buy an ounce or two of the fragrant sugary treats, despite the look of displeasure from the assistant, who obviously thought that only the sale of a full box of chocolates was worth getting off her stool for.
Mr Glam chose layered marzipan slices. rose pink, pistachio green and palest yellow vanilla, crusted with sparkling sugar and topped with a crystalised walnut. These were sweets that we couldn’t get at home easily, which made them extra special. Mellowed by both coffee and candy there was no opposition to searching out a Brocante.
Down a passageway which opened into a courtyard I found what I was looking for. This was a cornucopia of kitchenware, interspersed with crucifixes and china statues of the Virgin Mary. All crusted in dust. I had a firm idea of what I was looking for – items I could use for styling food.
Something either retro or vintage. Having turned down a very rusty mincing machine and wooden butter paddles that were more worm holes than wood, I found a pretty (St Amand Hamage, Nord) breakfast bowl and these fabulous kitchen containers. Dusted off and wrapped in newspaper I carried my purchases to the car. The brocante finds as sweet as the candy already in our bag.