LE PERCHE, Normandy
This little-known area of Normandy is a hotbed of brocante boutiques and warehouses and, being just a couple of hours from the northern ferry ports, makes a great destination to visit by car (or van if you have big purchases in mind). A favourite weekend bolthole of chic Parisians, this is where many of them search out interesting objets to deck out their apartments or family chateaux.
Start your trip in Bellême, a town so dedicated to treasured objects it even publishes a guide to its many antiques and bric-a-brac shops. Each offers something different to the others, from 1950s lighting to classic, French armoires. Meanwhile, Mortagne-au-Perche offers further antiques shops, and the nearby village of La Perrière has a real treat in the shape of La Maison d’Horbé (lamaisondhorbe. com), a restaurant set within an antiques shop. The summer is a good time to come for the many flea markets (or vide-greniers, attic clearance sales) that take over sleepy village greens and squares. Stay at Chateau de Saint Paterne (chateau-saintpaterne.com) a family-owned boutique hotel just outside Alençon. It is beautifully styled with intriguing paintings and heirloom furniture and has rooms from 145 a night. en.normandie-tourisme.fr
Bellême’s pretty streets are home to a wide range of vintage and antiques dealers.