- Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 10:36
- Published on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 10:36
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Earlier this month our family made a two-week trip to France. Despite poor airline service we had a wonderful jaunt that included several days in Normandy. While there we waded out in the water at Omaha Beach, and climbed to the top of Mont Saint-Michel, the island monastery off the Norman coast.
We arrived at the seaside village of Honfleur on a Sunday afternoon while the traders had set up their weekly flea market. The town’s great attraction is the large wooden church of Saint Catherine, which dates from the sixteenth century, making it the largest surviving French Gothic wooden church from the late medieval period.
In the square in front of the church dozens of vendors ply their wares both to tourists and to natives alike. As with most flea markets the merchandise covered the waterfront, to coin an appropriate expression. From cheap jewelry to good antiques, the scene offered something for everybody.
Most surprising was the quality of much of the furniture. Many fine nineteenth-century pieces were selling for what by our standards I should term low prices. Good walnut cabinets were available for under 100 Euros, and an abundance of antique French stoneware crocks and jugs were selling for a third of what they could bring in Virginia.
Honfleur is also the birthplace of the composer, Eric Satie, and his home is open to the public. The city suffered, as did all of Normandy, from the aftermath of the invasion of June 6, 1944, but more of its core survived than did the centers of many other similar towns and cities. The harbor is one of the most beautiful in Normandy, and the streets, although in places crowded, were not overwhelmed with tourists.
A trip to Normandy with a stop in Honfleur on a Sunday afternoon could be the ideal place for antique-minded tourists as well as well as savvy collectors and dealers.
Henry Lane Hull
Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Wicomico Church, VA 22579