Quiet Excitment

As our time in Montauban was nearing an end we all rested in the courtyard enjoying a cafe au lait and sharing our treasures we had found that day.

This was always one of my favorite times of the day when I could see all the amazing vintage finds that each woman had spotted and found beauty in. 

There were a few finds that I wish had been mine.

As it was time to leave we were told that we were going to make a stop on our way back to the chateau and hopefully do a little more treasure hunting.

Truth be told..I was tired and really ready to relax, eat dinner and get packed for my trip to Paris.

I had no idea where we were going.

We drove to an old, abandoned hat factory.

From the moment we drove up I could feel this was special.


Something I have never experienced and will never have the opportunity to do again.

Picnik collagehatfactory1

The owner of the hat factory unlocked the doors and let us in.



Let us find our treasures among the remains of a once bustling factory.





It was surreal and overwhelming.



You could feel the excitement of all the women and their need to search quickly and find treasures before someone else could scoop them up.



As everyone rushed to find whatever gems this old building held….I stepped aside.

I do that.

When others are really excited…. I mellow.

When everyone rushed one direction ….I went the other.

When everyone was gushing, giggling, yelling about this amazing experience…I was quiet.

I don't know why I do this.

I am not the quiet girl in the group.  I have never been. 


While everyone else was focusing on the ribbons and millinery I was falling in  love with old drawers, stamps, scissors…….


I didn't mean to be drawn to all the old woods and metals…while everyone else had their arms full of rich, vintage colors.


My heart started to race a bit just dreaming of taking these items back home.

When the owner told me he could not part with them I wanted to hide them, steal them, take them anyways…but I did not (I swear).

Where I explored it was more quiet.


I was able to capture parts of the factory with my lens that I didn't want to forget. 


Gee, the owner, saw my quiet and interest and walked me around the factory explaining everything to me in French (which I could barely understand).

I nodded and followed. 

 I let him show me the machines and show me how hats are sewn.

Picnik collagehatfactory

I think it made him happy to show me around a place that had once been so much of his life.


In the end I had my small pile of ribbons, millinery, labels that I had collected and I waited anxiously for the amount that he would want for everything.

Looking back I can not believe the dark corners and boxes I stuck my hands. 

I half expected to see a rat at any moment and I searched anyways because I knew this was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad we were all a little fearless that day.


(Cathy showing off her box of vintage treasures)

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  1. Katsui Jewelry

    Amazing, Jeanne. You got your little pile of treasures and you had an “experience.” I’ll bet it will stay with you for a long time.

  2. paige

    what an amazing experience!
    even though we’ve never met i can somehow image you drifting away and just being completely absorbed by your thoughts and the textures

  3. Wanda @ Just Vintage

    Oh, wow. What a treasure! I’m afraid I’d be like the owner and want to keep it all just as it is, too. I probably wouldn’t have let go of the trims and things. LOL

  4. Courtney Walsh

    I love this. Just love. How awesome! I love the picture of the hand-sewing. πŸ™‚
    And the outside of the building. So beautiful.
    PS. I bought some dark wood candlesticks today after we talked. I’m on the right track, no?

  5. amy

    love your shot w/ the owner, jeanne! so glad you captured him, too! so fun and amazing to step inside those old doors.

  6. cathy

    I LOVE LOVE that picture of me! Thanks so much.
    Your photos are special and gorgeous. Now I get why you lug that big ‘ole thing around.
    all love, Cathy

  7. elisa

    Wow! What an experience….I am a seamtress and I loved this post, especially the picture of the old singer sewing machine. I have one of those. It was my first machine and I made lots of clothing with it. At 14 I could take it apart and fix it….it became my best friend, just like the violin is to my 11 year old.
    I can just see you there in your quiet self….I am so glad you weren’t talking much or joining in with the rest of the group, because you wouldn’t have captured such beautiful pictures to share with all of us.
    Have a great day.

  8. Holly

    Amazing! I think I would have reacted as you did, quiet, taking it all in, just breathing in the history and past. . .and how neat to have the owner give you a tour to boot! Wow. . .

  9. Sharon

    What a gorgeous opportunity and you made the most of it! Wonderful photos and story. Thank you for sharing your joys.

  10. Lara

    Great images from the heart, Jeanne—I love that you see the beauty in the things some might miss. This is one of your best qualities here in blogland…noticing the small stuff that makes a difference in the world.

  11. Becky @ Farmgirl Paints

    Oh what a sweet unexpected surprise. Don’t you love it when that happens. One of the best memories of your trip was unplanned. I understand your quietness at that moment. It was special, it meant alot and you were soaking it all in…making room in your heart for a memory to never be forgotten.

  12. Lisa

    Thanks for sharing your amazing trip to France, you should really consider publishing a book with all the amazing photos you took!

  13. Dore

    Hi Jeanne,
    Oooooh! what a beautiful soulful vission for seeing through your lens in what you see. Taking the best photo’s, your site is like looking at a french magazine. I am sure the countryside and the culture you took in was just enough to inspire your vision in as much as the way you create and the inspiration it will add to your creations.
    Always admired you as a blogger with passion, I want to thank you for your visit to my place, commenting on my little blog feature in R/H magazine, it was a real shock and a honor to be featured.
    Keep inspiring us girl!!

  14. Laura @ 52 FLEA

    Hi Jeanne,
    Your account of this amazing experience is wonderful and your photographs are spectacular! I am so happy that you have shared it all here so that we can feel just a little of your excitement. What a thrilling time for you!

  15. susan

    i am really drawn to old buildings always wondering what lies behind the doors. this must have been an awesome experience. looking thru those old ribbons must have been amazing! lovely going with you!! hope all is well with you and your family!! susan

  16. Privet and Holly

    Hi Jeanne,
    I am just like
    you….When the
    doors open to
    something special,
    I am a bit overwhelmed
    and have to stand
    back and take it all
    in before I make
    my move. I think
    you came away with
    the best treasure ~
    these amazing photos
    and the tour of the
    factory. Memories!!
    xx Suzanne

  17. Heather

    Wow…what an amazing experience. I can only imagine how fun it must have been to look at all the vintage sewing machines and goodies around that factory. I am sure you will treasure your box of goodies. πŸ™‚

  18. Suzen

    Jeanne, you gave that gentleman a great honor in allowing him to share something he probably put his heart and soul into and will miss terribly. Such beautiful and sensitive photos you took! On another note, I’m glad to see the French are striking today to keep the benefits they have had for so long to retire at a decent age and keep other benefits that allow them to slow down and spend time with their loved ones! The world needs more time to live simply, not less! C’est si bon! And thanks for the honor of sharing with us readers. XOXO

  19. Traci

    What an amazing experience. Once in a lifetime. I love the outside of the building. Gorgeous. I am the same way as you. I slow down in these times and try to take everything in.

  20. Wirda

    I am now SUPER INSPIRED!!! thank you for the weekly dose of great photographs, and vintage sharings…i wish i was there… totally!!!

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