Shifting an antiques enterprise from England to rural France

PUBLISHED: 13:04 08 October 2020

Sheryl Mills in her cider barn brocante in Mayenne ©Melissa Raton

Sheryl Mills in her cider barn brocante in Mayenne ©Melissa Raton


When Sheryl Mills turned 50 she moved her life and antiques enterprise from rural Herefordshire to rural Mayenne, and her resolution has proved to be extra midlife miracle than midlife disaster

Sheryl Mills appears to be like at house inside her cider barn brocante as she sits on a French-style metallic college chair with wood again and seat, writing up worth tags on Kraft paper for brand new gardenalia and linens. To her left is the barn’s fundamental opening, which leads out to a courtyard stuffed with outdated farm gear together with butter makers, carts, cider flagons, fruit choosing ladders and milk churns.

Sheryl lives in Mayenne, within the northern a part of the Pays de la Loire area which borders southern Normandy, and these pale historic objects are a reminder of this space’s cider- producing and dairy-farming roots. The courtyard results in Sheryl’s farmhouse with its hexagonal tiled terrace, galvanised metal flowerpot trays and ornamental white tables and chairs. To the precise of the place Sheryl is sitting is the primary store frontage, which shows vintage furnishings, chandeliers, mirrors, rugs and classic kitchenalia. The lighting is heat and highlights the pure wooden grains of the various bedside cupboards, cabinets, dressers, sideboards and washstands that line the thick stone partitions.


The brocante sign rests on a beautifully upholstered armchair ©Melissa RatonThe brocante signal rests on a superbly upholstered armchair ©Melissa Raton

The brocante signal, written on a damaged roof slate and resting on a superbly upholstered armchair, encapsulates the store’s tasteful look. This barn nonetheless homes the outdated cider press and is among the many outbuildings right here that retains the property’s historical past alive. The cider barn brocante opened its imposing wood doorways to vintage discount hunters final yr and is a pure extension to Sheryl’s on-line vintage enterprise that she began in Manchester within the 1990s, after spending a decade finding out at Manchester Polytechnic Faculty.

“The most effective supply of goodies to inventory the cider barn brocante and my online antiques shop is the vide-grenier, which is a sort of automobile boot sale however one which takes over the streets of a complete village or city for a weekend,” says Sheryl. “The locals empty out their attics and cellars and the villagers are joined by sellers and brocanteurs so it’s an amazing combine. This actually is the joys of the hunt, unearthing a unusual gem and bargaining to get an amazing worth. A lot of what I discover leads to the brocante and I put up fascinating objects on Facebook and Instagram too.”

Sheryl enjoys searching for stock at local vide-greniers ©Melissa RatonSheryl enjoys looking for inventory at native vide-greniers ©Melissa Raton


Sheryl determined to maneuver to France after celebrating her 50th birthday in Normandy. “A pal lent us using his French vacation house in Normandy. That first morning I opened the shutters and seemed out on a bucolic scene, blossom-filled orchards with sheep and cows grazing beneath. The sudden realisation that I might be pleased residing in France enveloped me. The countryside of Normandy is similar to the surrounds of my English house, and property costs are so low cost, it appears like a step again in time. I returned to the UK and set about telling everybody that I used to be shifting to France in order that I couldn’t hen out.”

Sheryl gave herself a yr and after web searches and several other house-hunting journeys, she prolonged her search space to incorporate Pays de la Loire. Her eye for a hidden gem is what made her purchase a house on the outskirts of Lassay-les-Châteaux – she chanced upon a farmhouse with {a photograph} of a wonderful cherub-decorated ceiling in one of many fundamental rooms.

“That settled it, I knew this was the home I’d purchase,” says Sheryl. “The fact was even higher and I put in a proposal, signing the compromis de vente a yr to the day from that first go to to France.”


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