What’s better than an attic full of the things someone once treasured, then grew up or turned in another direction, and now here’s the thing, dusty and worn yet special in some way just waiting to be discovered. Ebay thrives on this market of lost things but it isn’t the same, is it. There isn’t that physical thrill you get when you’ve sorted through the junk to find the very thing, shined it up with the palm of your hand, and imagined it into your life.
Maybe that’s why the brocante still thrives in France, this most sensory of cultures being reluctant to part with the thrill that comes with the hunt. Here are our latest finds, from consignment brocante type shop La Grange de Janna, just relocated from Honfleur to Pont-Audemer and helpfully open every day. Furniture, books, electronics, audio, vintage and modern – it’s all here in a cavernous warehouse.
At Les Iris the walls are fairly bare and we’re always looking for pictures that connect to our lives here in Normandy, while small enough to suit the cottage’s dimensions. The miniature oil of a vase of flowers will be perfect. The fashion plate will remind our daughters not to complain about the clothes they have to wear.
And the mandolin – an impulse purchase, redolent of Picasso, southern summers, Shakespearean serenades. It needs re-stringing and a polish, but is in good shape, and made by Masspacher in Paris. A fine old thing will get new life.
2012 was the first year guests stayed at Les Iris. We worried a bit as we prepared the cottage last spring. What would go wrong? What had we forgotten?
We had forgotten a few things (more on that later), yet every single group that chose Les Iris for a holiday was a delight to work with. The cottage was treated well – like the home that it is. Guests were generous with their reviews, photos, and suggestions.
We ask everyone who stays at Les Iris to fill out a survey. Today we want to share the topline results from the survey this year. Of those who filled in the online survey:
- 100% rated their stay at Les Iris as “a great holiday” or “one of my best holidays ever“
- 100% said the booking process, the cottage, sightseeing and departure were “good” or “excellent”
- 90% rated the location “excellent”
- 90% said the pricing, directions and guest information were “good” or “excellent”
- 90% said they would recommend Les Iris to a friend, or stay again
We were delighted with these results. But we weren’t just after compliments (although please keep them coming!) We asked guests to tell us the bad stuff, so that we could make improvements. They did, and we’ve listened.
The cottage now has an iron and an ironing board. There is a new barbeque outside. We have added more, larger saucepans and more tablemats The TV has been put on a table with wheels so that it can be moved around for viewing.
A few guests asked for new garden furniture. We will look into this in the spring. Others asked for more TV stations and wifi. There is good French TV reception in the cottage. Wifi is expensive because the village is not cabled and it requires a special satellite dish. We are considering this. In the meantime, there is a mobile signal from across the river, and buying a travel bolt-on in advance from your mobile phone provider makes checking email and surfing the web while abroad more affordable.
Here are some of the lovely things guests said about the cottage.
“Les Iris”, a beautiful name for a beautiful cottage. Thank you very much for allowing us to stay in this lovely, idyllic part of France and Normandy. We particularly enjoyed coming back in the evening and sitting outside to watch the HUGE ships slowly chug past.
We enjoyed the peace and quiet of your home and tiny village. It was an added treat to be here as the trees all bloomed.
We enjoyed the short walks from the cottage around the surrounding area, watching the light change on the river through the day. Honfleur is a great day out – we went twice. Our favourite restaurant was the Risle-Seine in Bourneville. Fantastic traditional Normand cuisine at very reasonable prices considering the quality.
Your wonderful cottage very quickly grew on us and we are sad to leave. The garden is fabulous and such a treat for our younger girls to be able to run about in such space.
Thank you – and come again!
We love feedback at Les Iris. We are always grateful when guests take the time to tell us what they liked, and what we could do better.
Best is when they share their holiday stories and pictures. One guest who stayed at Les Iris with his family recently shared these evocative and mysterious pictures of his time at Les Iris and in Normandy.