You could call it shopping the closet. We bought much of the furniture along with the apartments we renovated in Carcassonne. And in closets and cupboards there have been lovely finds.

The embroidered screen now stands in front of a fireplace. It’s really exquisite. I suppose it was handmade–everything was, even just a couple of generations ago.

The wooden bowl, below, is big and heavy and certainly hand-carved. So much of the furniture has a grape motif. Appropriate for the region!carved-bowl

And this funny dish, shaped like a shell, very light, and painted by hand. What would such a dish have been used for? P1080589There’s a souffler for a fireplace.souffler

And this delicate lamp.lamp

We also found lots of books, mostly old school books of several generations. School back in the day must have been awfully rigorous. The pages of the history book below are half-consumed by footnotes. Enough to make the biggest history buff’s eyes glaze over.P1080591

Which is probably what led to notes like the ones below.

Not the initials of any members of the family as far as I know. The 4 probably refers to the grade, the equivalent of 8th grade in the U.S.
Greek to me….doodles tucked in the book.

There were books for all ages. How about this one: P1080596

The title translates as “While Laughing: Reading Without Tears.” One would hope so! It’s from 1930 and does away with the “old analytical method” in favor of the new “global method.” As illustrated below:P1080597

I’m not sure it accomplished its goals. It’s not exactly a laugh a minute. And how confusing to have to learn letters as printed and in cursive at the same time as trying to figure out the code of what they say.

Another book has vocabulary for items I don’t even recognize. What ARE those clippers? P1080598

However, it gives some great pronunciation points. Here, you have a list showing which “o” sounds are alike. It’s similar to a book I had in a French class back in the day, “Exercises in French Phonics,” by Francis W. Nachtmann. Excellent book, although pronunciation can’t be learned by books alone. It helps to also have a native speaker around to say the words correctly and then to point out how one has failed miserably to repeat them.

We also found another trove of old newspapers. It seems madame (or monsieur? their kids would have been pretty young) was thrilled by the Apollo 11’s moon landing on July 24, 1969. The papers show the extent to which it was big news, even in France profonde.P1080603P1080602P1080601P1080607

Ted Kennedy’s woes also warranted saving for posterity.P1080606

I was intrigued by a note about the weather. Perpignan had a record high of 36.9 Celsius, which comes to 98.4 Fahrenheit, while Carcassonne was at 33.2 Celsius, or 91.8 Fahrenheit. The all-time record for Carcassonne was during the 2003 heat wave, with 41.9 Celsius, or 107.42. That is definitely hot, and shows that the records are getting higher. Usually the average high temperature in summer is 28.6 Celsius, or 83.5 Fahrenheit–very pleasant.P1080605The finds reminded me of the book “A Paris Apartment” by Michelle Gable“A Paris Apartment” by Michelle Gable, which was based on the real story of a Parisian apartment that was left untouched for 70 years. Another book, in French, titled “Madeleine Project,” by Clara Beaudoux, is the true story of the author trying to figure out the life of the previous owner of the Parisian apartment she has bought–full of stuff.

We have found many small traces of the previous residents, some too personal too show. A torn bit of a photo. An electricity bill from 30 years ago. A Mary medal pinned to a mattress. I know the family endured tragedies, but I don’t know the details. In cleaning out a storage room, amid all manner of sports equipment, we found a wrapped present, itself wrapped up in sheets and stuffed into a box of clothes. I think it was too painful for them to go deal with, and too hard to let go. Even I was overwhelmed by emotion, their grief was so evident, despite decades of being shut away.

But I hope their trip to Nice was a happy one.

20 thoughts on “Little Treasures

  1. I too wish them a happy life in Nice. Perhaps knowing that the apartment, lovingly restored, will be filled with happy guests for many years to come, will overcome any sadness they felt in leaving.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an adventure going through the left-behinds. I have my father’s old bellows, not so ornate as yours, as he had repaired it a number of times. And my mother-in-law’s German books from her childhood- love the colorful drawings. I find it so precious to come across items that have survived from a far different era.

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  3. So many wonderful things but the actual wonderful thing is that you have resurrected them and had the sensitivity to restore where necessary and to wonder what lay behind things. I think, by the way, the purpose of the book with sans serif typescript and copper plate is to teach the two disciplines of handwriting as they were. We actually had the same sort of books at my very old-fashioned first school in England. They were old books – how old I have no idea but we would first copy out the printing and then practice our joined up writing by copying the copper-plate. I love the little vignette of the clean cat and the dirty scritching rat! I’m just so thrilled that you are treasuring your finds and giving them new life.

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      1. Like all things learning I think it depends on the child. I lapped it up but looking at my brother’s deplorable handwriting, I suspect he didn’t. But he thrived on numbers whilst I thrived on letters.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This feels postively cloak and dagger! I had to take the first attempt at my post from The Recipe Hunter down because the link wasn’t working. I have now used a different tack and it is posted so if you fancy trotting over chez Half Baked you will find a link to the article. I hope you enjoy it … there’s a little history in there which might appeal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely, lovely, find. As everyone has said already, it is wonderful that you are restoring the place and keeping the items.

    “What ARE those clippers?”

    The clippers are hand pruners, like the ones here, on

    What gives them away is the covered spring between the handles at the base of the metal.

    I would think that of all the fruit in France, a bunch of grapes (to be made into wine, etc.) would be the first they’d want children to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. These are wonderful treasures. One of the most enjoyable aspects of renovating a house in France is finding age appropriate pieces with which to decorate. Sadly our house, which was built over 3 centuries – with the oldest part being medieval- didn’t have any magnificent treasures left behind (apart from a German WW2 bayonet). However the house itself keeps revealing fascinating structural items and building techniques as we slowly bring the place back to life. One example is the current bathroom which has a vaulted ceiling complete with meat hooks from which to hang carcasses.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely treasures. Am just getting caught up after having my desktop machine at the computer hospital for a time.
    The shade on that very pretty lamp might be Lalique, looks it to me. They were generally marked somewhere in tiny script.

    Liked by 1 person

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