The secret is finally out… In April last year I took part in a Channel 4 programme called French Collection: a series about bagging yourself a bargain at a French Brocante then taking on the task of upcycling and selling in order to make a profit. I applied thinking ‘ah, that’s so up my street’, not quite expecting to actually be chosen for the tv competition!
Early April I boarded a plane to Cogolin in the south of France, to soon realise I would be sat next to the other two contestants also taking part. Fundamentally my rivals! Filiz and I were first to meet and got on INSTANTLY. After chatting non stop (this was even before the flight had taken off!), we quickly realised we had so much in common; both mums, same age, both creative, both have a Turkish link (she’s half Turkish and my hubby is half Turkish)…blah blah blah. The final call was being made by the pilot on the plane then it dawned on us..’where’s the other contestant?!’ We had an empty seat next to us, then we took off!
During the short flight, the show’s Producer and Presenter approached us to introduce themselves. We had to inform them that the other contestant clearly hadn’t made the flight, at which point it was obvious panic was setting in! Filming was to begin the following morning first thing, so unless they could get him on another flight, we would be missing a vital piece of the TV puzzle!
A few phonecalls later by the team once we had landed, revealed that contestant number 3 aka Billy, did in fact miss his flight, because he was propping up the bar (at 6am!). Classic! After an interesting minibus ride with the film crew from the airport to our Hotel, we checked in, dumped bags and headed straight out for a team dinner to get to know everyone and run through the finer details of the shoot day- minus Billy!
Filming day and we all woke up with some foggy and fuzzy heads having drunk our way through the ‘budget’ the night before. Today was the day and over breakfast we all got to meet Billy, who they’d managed to successfully get on a later flight. The 3 of us became good friends and pretty much laughed our way through the day. Despite it being a competition, we were very much in it for the experience and fun. Before being let lose in the Brocante we all drove to, we had a very brief walk around with Mark the Presenter of the show, then got ‘mic’d’ up ready for filming. Aim of the game- try to spend as little of the budget as possible in order to make the biggest profit back in the UK!
Now, i’m pretty used to my fair share of Brocante’s and flea markets so I think I was expecting it to be pretty easy. Boy was I wrong! When you have a load of money (600 euros), a time limit and a lose brief, it is much much harder than it looks. The other thing I failed to mention is that prior to being flown out to France, we had not and still did not know where in the UK we were going to be selling to, which meant that realistically we couldn’t do any background research into business and potential shops to get a head start of what to buy. It was like the blind leading the blind!
Without going into too much detail (because I want you to watch the programme), we all ended on a high that day and got driven back to the airport to make our way home. The items we each bought got driven back to England in a large truck and we were to be reunited with it all two weeks later. In the meantime, we had to think of ways to upcycle at least one item, which we had a specific shoot day designated for at each of our houses. That was good fun, but I had underestimated how much of a long day and hard work it was going to be! Plenty of prepping/ painting, waiting for things to dry etc.
We got a phone call to tell us we were going to be selling in the beautiful city of Cheltenham, so this was our time to start researching potential shops and businesses who we thought might purchase our items from us. Under no conditions were we allowed to contact them in the run up to our visit.The selling day was good fun and again proved very hard work…lots of wondering around the streets and trying our luck! Again, Filiz, Billy and myself all took it in our stride however this is definitely where the competition began to heat up and we all started to feel the pressure as our deadline was looming! Once we had hit a certain time of the day, and without knowing what each of us had lost or made in profit, we all gathered to establish who the winner of the show was.
Now it’s time for you to watch!…. Click HERE to watch Series 3, Episode 13 of French Collection 😉
by Laura xx