a little loot shoot and the needle in the haystack

by Sharon Santoni


I drove off happily to a local brocante fair sunday morning, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen.  The valley was beautiful, wheat fields and poppies swaying in a gentle breeze.


  It was  the sort of country fair I like best,  vendors seeting up their stands in a field in the centre of an old stone village, the sun was shining, I didn’t intend to stay long – just wander around, buy a few things then shoot off to the boulangerie and home in time for breakfast en famille.  My sort of Sunday morning.


The first part of the plan went swimmingly.   I bought these chocolate moulds, some grain sacks ,  a couple of vases because I am convinced that I can never have enough of those, and a chair that will be great once re-upholstered.  An old sign, some plates, and a wicker basket.


I bought a crate full of plants that are already in the garden so I can’t show you those and I bought a rather lovely mannequin with a slim waist, which means she is at least 130 years old, poor girl.

So far so good.  The trouble started when I made my first trip back to the car to unload my smaller purchases.

My car key, that I had carefully stowed away into the pocket of my jeans was no longer there, and as I frantically ran my hands through every pocket I was wearing the truth dawned upon me –  My key could be anywhere in the long grass in either of the two large fields used for the fair, which several hundred people would visit and trample that day.

Needle in a haystack to the power of ten.

I will spare you all the gritty details, but suffice it to say, that two hours later, having alerted half the fair, offered a reward and generally made a nuisance of myself, I was brought home by a friend, clutching my purchases which by then had lost their appeal.


My foolishness hung over me like a dark cloud all day long, but in the evening I wearily jumped on a bike and rode the mile or so back to the location of the fair…. just in case.  There was my car, standing all alone in the field, like a child forgotten at the school gate.

Determined to have one last look around the car, I half-heartedly pedalled across the field and as I drew closer, I could see a bit of paper stuck under the windscreen wiper.

“I have your car key, call me at this number, Louis”

The next morning, a bottle of champagne in my hand,  I met up with Louis, aka The Saint,  who had left the note.  I had to insist upon him accepting my thank you gift, although frankly I would gladly have given him a whole crate of bubbles, let alone a bottle!

As I drove home in my car, I couldn’t help but reflect on the little and big things we can do each day, and which can make such a difference to someone elses life.

Merci Louis, you have brightened the start to my week.


Susan Hays June 9, 2015 - 11:25 pm

Thank heavens for Louis and kind helpful people. The number of times I pop the car keys in my pocket and saunter off – because frankly if I put them in my handbag it is a cavernous hole and it takes me ages to find them again, the children sighing rather too loudly as I turn out the entire contents searching for them! But you have really made me think, from now on they are going firmly inside my bag, thanks for the warning!

Renee June 9, 2015 - 11:50 pm

Happy ending!

Jackie June 9, 2015 - 11:54 pm

What a wonderful tale! I love hearing about the good in this world! Your purchases are fun, Sharon!

Roseanne Litzinger June 9, 2015 - 11:58 pm

I don’t know. Those dishes and charming chocolate molds would be worth the inconvenience. Keys can also be worn on pretty ribbon around the neck as a necklace.
Tres chic.

Virginia Richards June 10, 2015 - 12:00 am

All is well that ends well. You went home with enviable treasures and met a very nice man who restored our faith in our fellow humans!
I love your blog; reading it always leaves me dreaming of another trip to France.

carol Transou June 10, 2015 - 12:03 am

The dishes look wonderful. I love blue-and-white dishes – and have some we bought at the Vanves flea market in Paris.

And, I recently bought some more — did not need them – but loved the blue and white –

your blog is so interesting – for those of us in love with France. Do you know where St. Briac is – the small town near St Malo – so pretty – was lucky to be a house guest there for a week in 2011 and 2012.

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon June 10, 2015 - 12:03 am

You made me a little ill before I got to the end of your post. Happy Day!

Now I can go back and examine your loot. 🙂

Vicky from Athens June 10, 2015 - 12:08 am

Ah but what tresors you have! I love the dishes! Surely worth a little inconvenience? Just kidding . . . I’ve been in your place before and was furious with myself! But all’s well that ends well – merci, Louis! By the way . . . those pretty poppies . . . can I buy seed packets for them?

Jenny Ledermann June 10, 2015 - 12:25 am

Oh yes! Been there done that! Since I refuse the fanny pack, but still want free hands whether walking or shopping I’ve resorted to putting keys etc in my sock! LOL
Now that summers here may have to rethink that!
Loved your prizes though!!

Your such a Joy!


Susan June 10, 2015 - 12:43 am

What a lovely ending. Find treasures, meet a new friend.

A very helpful French man to the rescue. Definitely worth a good bottle of bubbly.

Hope you celebrated the return of the lost keys with a glass of bubbles yourself.

joanny June 10, 2015 - 12:43 am

What a dear, to have looked and found your car key….I would say you had a pretty amazing day, and perhaps made a new friend. At the very least everyone will remember you at the fair, and you may meet more people in the future from that one event. Kindness begets kindness.

Kerry June 10, 2015 - 1:03 am

What a happy ending to your day, sadly my flea market adventure last weekend left me feeling in a very dark mood. I was walking back to my car with my treasures only to find that someone had backed into it leaving lots of damage. Sadly I never got left a note offering to pay for it to be fixed :o(

Sue June 10, 2015 - 1:07 am

oh dear, what a thing to happen, but we have all been there at some point and we survived. I absolutely love the plates, they are beautiful…Sue

Geraldine Ventura June 10, 2015 - 1:08 am

Your story renewed my faith in humanity! The key could have been found by someone who drove off with your car. Some people are truly blessings. Love the blue and white plates. Wish I had them for a fund raiser we are having on Bastille Day.

Colleen Taylor June 10, 2015 - 1:34 am

I just love happy endings to a story like this Sharon. Thank goodness for that sweet man. It’s an awful feeling though when car keys or any keys for that matter are lost. I love that combination of poppies & wheat fields together, it’s absolutely stunning!

Lynne Redding June 10, 2015 - 1:39 am

I hope you’re feeling better about your purchases, they’re splendid!

I’ll tell you another quick story about lost car keys and antique fairs that hopefully will make you feel better.

A dear and rather ditzy friend came down from Carmel to Santa Barbara in her zippy little Mercedes…over 200 miles…for a girls days of “Spa”–ing and “antiquing”. At the end of a long and tiring day, purchases in hand, she returned to her car, but couldn’t find her keys
anywhere in her purse. Backtracking for many frantic hours resulted in failure, as most of the shops were closed.

She stayed the night at a beautiful hotel, and in the morning had her rather grumpy husband drive down the 200 miles to deliver the spare set of car keys. Needless to say he wasn’t happy as he had to miss his golf game with the guys.

When she returned home, she took the purse she was wearing that day to the shoemaker to have the troublesome lining repaired. When she picked it up a few days later the shoemaker presented her with her repaired purse, the bill, AND the keys to her Mercedes which had slipped into the hole of the lining.

It’s four years later and we still kid her about that very frustrating day!

Bonnie June 10, 2015 - 1:53 am

Yes, Virginia, there (is a Santa) are decent people in the world…

Kathryn Gauci June 10, 2015 - 2:02 am

Absolutely love the poppies in the field photo and your purchases. So good to hear that the day turned out well after all.

jopearson June 10, 2015 - 2:12 am

….and she said she was going to reupholster the chair. Why?!

I have just pinned your photo to my board oh-pin-ionated, with the above comment.

(I would kill for that chair. )

Elvie June 10, 2015 - 2:28 am

What a nice man,you are so lucky someone so honest found the key.Now you can enjoy your purchases.E

Susie Craig June 10, 2015 - 2:54 am

What a nightmare. When I am travelling on my own I now use a safety pin and pin my house key and car key into my jeans so that even if the handbag is stolen I can still get home.
I adore the blue dinnerware and would love to come over later this year to buy some more pieces.
I so much enjoyed my time with you last year.

Linda Murray June 10, 2015 - 3:12 am

If by chance you bought the chocolate mold of the dashound, I would beg you to consider selling it to a devoted follower across the pond….me!

jill June 10, 2015 - 5:33 am

oh my, i can only imagine those few hours… glad it ended well. 🙂 x

Annie M June 10, 2015 - 8:59 am

Oh Sharon you poor thing! I know just the thing as we had a similar incident with a credit card in Bruges. Thank goodness for Louis and all the other helpful souls in the world.

Karen A June 10, 2015 - 1:16 pm

Glad your keys were found and the memories of the day were happy, plus you also found lovely treasures. Our car keys were lost while we were setting up our daughters wedding in a beautiful old barn in a lovely setting in Vermont, seven years ago. The day and the wedding was perfect, many wonderful happy memories. However, our keys were never found!

Sandy Jones June 10, 2015 - 2:10 pm

Love those blue/white plates!!! Fabulous!!!!

Agnes Irene June 10, 2015 - 3:09 pm

That story just kept getting better and better – the poppies and wheat field, the ideal Sunday morning, the charming purchases – something lost (always a good plot point), the determined bike ride back, the unexpected happy solution – and your lovely reward. A tale that begins with a fair and ends with champagne! Wonderful.

Janie Calvert June 10, 2015 - 4:31 pm

Yes! I so agree.

Mary Stephens June 10, 2015 - 3:41 pm

My business partner would be the happiest girl in the world if I could obtain the dauschund dog mold pictured above for her. That would be a great joy for us both.
Is there ANY way you could purchase it for me?

Iris June 10, 2015 - 3:42 pm

Where would we be without our saints to get us through those distressing moments. Those blue and white dishes are wonderful. Makes me want to jump on a plane to find a set for myself. Or maybe use that as an excuse to visit your part of the world.

Rita Horton June 10, 2015 - 4:10 pm

Sharon again you made us read all the way through and with each line (and racing pulse) I’m thinking what happened? Then I sigh…Oh no the keys! But we all love happy endings and you climaxed the story with the “found keys” and those beautiful blue dishes. I’m happy that you have both.

Nancy June 10, 2015 - 4:31 pm

Again, I have feasted on your pictures and your story. Never disappointed in what you write. So glad the story had a happy ending and wonderful brocante too!

Janie June 10, 2015 - 4:34 pm

Sharon, I understand your desperate frustration, but I think those blue dishes might be worth it. Are you selling them? I love them. Great story!

Marian from UK June 10, 2015 - 5:23 pm

Hi Sharon. So glad you got your keys back! I know how awful it is to lose them.
Last year, I parked my car in a village, locked the car, walked across a 30 second stretch of grass, across a small road and into a cafe. Had a cup of tea, half an hour later went to get my keys out of my bag – gone. I retraced my steps, not many of them to trace – nothing. In that short distance the keys had gone. And it was not just one key but a whole group, with two car keys, front door key and another on a lovley red leather fob with a silver Eidelweiss flower, bought on our holiday in Austria. To this day they have never been found or handed in. I have absolutely no idea where they could have gone. And if someone had picked them up, my Citroen key was obvious and my Citroen car a few yards away – it could have been taken but wasn’t! One of those mysteries never to be solved. I did think of a Jackdaw, but it would have had to have been a mighty bird to pick that lot up!! I shall always wonder….

Love the treasures too!!

Carolyn Watson June 10, 2015 - 6:13 pm

Sorry you had such a frustrating time, but it did make an interesting story with a happy ending. You are a good writer! You had me hooked when you said, “Little did I know what was about to happen.”

PEGGY BRASWELL June 10, 2015 - 7:21 pm

you are not alone + what a kind thought man, that Louis xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Kerry June 10, 2015 - 7:50 pm

Well said! And well done Louis!

robert rush June 10, 2015 - 8:44 pm

Happy ending, elevated faith in fellow humans; remember next time dark cloud hovers

Emm June 10, 2015 - 10:22 pm

Bravo, Louis! You inspire others to pay it forward.

Perhaps you could wear the key on a ribbon around your neck next time? Or tuck it into your shoe.

Paula June 10, 2015 - 10:43 pm

Love your blog, so nicely written, perfect photos, perfect place. Having lived in France as a student, it makes me happy to read your posts, I get excited when I see it in my emails! Thank you.

Alison Myers June 11, 2015 - 11:28 pm

Hi Sharon,
Chocolate moulds like yours and some bigger ones were on The antiques roadshow BBC programme two weeks ago. Some makers are very collectable. You might be able to view it on you tube as iPlayer won’t be available to you. Love seeing your finds.


JudyMac June 12, 2015 - 3:42 am

Glad your key story had a happy ending. I, too, prefer to “pocket” my keys for easy access, but have noticed that a couple of my more recent purchases of pants/slacks/whatever seem to have very shallow pockets for some reason. So I have taken to putting my key in the purse. Wish I had the Sunday morning brocantes to pop out to. In my area I am seeing more weekend estate sales than I can ever remember. Usually they are two-day events on Friday and Saturday, but there are so many now that some start on Thursday, and even a few on Wednesday.

Deborah Carver June 17, 2015 - 6:29 pm

I enjoyed this post! When will the lovely dachshund chocolate molds be available?

Laura Wilson June 22, 2015 - 1:03 am

This is a sweet story to remind us all of the goodness of the common man. So much bad news is on as soon as I open my computer every morning, but really, most people are good hearted and kind, and this proves it once again. Thank you for this story.


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