Mary Portas, the doyen of shoppers with a weekly column in Telegraph weekend magazine really gives you the lowdown on stores and shops and would not be that impressed by the odd Brocantes that I still visit. She would say that the average one is no more than a shed with a few tired looking articles scattered around in no special order, the iron work is rusty, the woodwork is wormy and the old textiles are crumpled and unwashed and the proprietor is unenthusiastic about his stock|. But I have to say that this is the real attraction for me, a 'chineur' par excellence, as rooting through the rubbish and discarded items, there is always the chance of a 'find' and digging deep is part of the fun. It takes time and patience, but I have found some very interesting and original things in the old barns, lean-to's, and even behind the sheds in the untidy gardens. Wood -worm in the legs of furniture are a liability and expensive to replace - ironwork that is rusty can be the work of gypsies who make game hooks and butchers accessories in the same way as the originals but are 'too good' and perfect to have had any use, linen and curtains need very close inspection in the light as they can have faulty seams, old patches or be so thin as to be useless. On the other hand I have bought wonderful passementerie from the local chateau, faded but still beautiful, old brass fittings of a quality not available over here, and interesting tools that have a good local history, table knives with bone handles, worn but nostalgic servants' aprons in indigo linen with huge pockets and long strings, all deemed fairly obsolete by the brocanteurs and sold very cheaply.