Wednesday 29 November 2017

Michael’s trip to Le Mans


Our companion Michael decided to lend a hand at the ever-popular Emmaus France’s Regional Salon in Le Mans last month. We caught up with him to find out what he enjoyed most about the trip and whether he would be keen to get involved again next year…

Hi Michael! Tell us why you wanted to help out at the Le Mans salon…

I only got my passport earlier this year, so I took myself off to Spain in the summer and absolutely loved it. When we were asked whether anyone would like to go to France and attend the Le Mans Salon (a huge table top sale) I really wanted to get involved, as I’d heard that they were great fun. I was also interested in seeing how French companions (formerly homeless people living at a community) lived in comparison to us in the UK. I got a great insight.

What are the main differences?

Their community is based on a huge farm, with lots of warehouse dedicated to different furniture, white goods etc. there was even one dedicated to toys! I was amazed at the amount of donations they receive. They have around 50 companions, far more than we do in Norfolk & Waveney, and some even have families living with them. They told us that they were expanding and looking to build 18 more rooms, with all that space I thought it seemed easy enough to achieve. Companions living at Le Mans start at 7:30am every day, and they will always do the same job, quite different to how we do things here. It works for them; for those that need stability, it’s there’s for the taking.

How long was the trip and how did you find the journey?

I, being the lone voyager from Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney, drove down with nine great companions from Emmaus Cambridge who were bringing their goods to sell in a van. We had great fun travelling there… nightmare journey aside! We left early on Friday morning only to be held up in an accident on the motorway for three whole hours! The total journey time was 15 hours, so we were exhausted when we got there on Saturday night. We had a light meal and got our heads down ready for Salon day.

Tell us more about your experience of a Salon…

It was phenomenal; we had 3000 customers come through the doors in the first hour and the queues to get into the expo centre were overflowing into the carpark space. We had a great stall, in a prime location and we sold pretty much everything, which was mostly bric-a-brac. We kept restocking and restocking our table, it was a great feeling to be able to sell that much. I was told that Emmaus Cambridge took the most money that day, but I can’t be sure if that’s definitely true…

Were you able to see much of Le Mans once the Salon had finished?

We went to the famous racetrack! We even had a little photoshoot with a Cambridge van and a Le Mans van on the track, it was an amazing experience driving around it. Local newspapers and TV came down to watch us, I loved it.

Would you go again next year?

Oh definitely, I wouldn’t say no. I’d like to go to one a little closer, perhaps in Lyon, Lille or Paris.

Could you see us doing one here in the UK?

I don’t see why not, it depends where you had it… collectables and vintage clothing would go down well. Never say never!