March 7, 2010

BASTILLE DAY

We have been in France on 14th July many times before and seen all sorts of things going on. There were often street parties, fireworks, special meals in the restaurants, huge barbecues and so on. So we were really looking forward to the celebrations in our village.





In the morning Nick finished the DIY in the kitchen - fitting a proper worktop either side of the cooker - and with that out of the way we decided to have a run out. We went to one of our favourite places, Anlges-sur-Anglin.






It was a bit crowded but we treated ourselves to an ice cream and ambled up to the old town. There was a general air of excitement and expectation about the place and we assumed it was because everywhere people were getting things ready for the big village party that evening. But we were wrong. We stumbled across a medieval market and a procession taking place.






There were musicians, jesters and clowns, also people on stilts. (I wonder if they really used those in medieval times.) A few people were dressed to represent how unpleasant and unwashed the average person might have been in those days. There was an ugly old crone tormenting children with a half-eaten apple that quite clearly had a (plastic) worm sticking out of it. The costumes were great and I admired those taking part because it can't have been too comfortable under all that clothing on such a warm day.





The market itself was fascinating, with lots of people browsing and enjoying the ambience. I couldn't say how good sales of medieval clothing were on such a hot day, but we did buy some lovely herbs and a very useful mortar and pestle from one stall holder.




We had a lovely afternoon but the best was yet to come. Back in Le Grand-Pressigny preparations were well under way for the 14th July street party. We had bought tickets for the "moules et frites" event being hosted by the PreHisto. Tables were put out on the pavement and a dance floor and stage were being erected in the square opposite.


People started gathering in the square for apéros and gradually the tables filled up and the whole place was buzzing. It was a beautiful warm evening. The crew at the PreHisto did a fantastic job of getting the three course meal out hot and fresh to everyone. Not all at the same time of course, but who could complain about waiting when we were having such a good time ?



After dinner the band started playing and we had lively dancing to an eclectic mix of music in typical French style. All age groups joined in and would be on the dance floor together. It was marvellous. We certainly don't get anything like this at home in England. Even if the weather was good enough, persuading anyone to do anything outdoors like this where we live would be a complete non-starter. Teenagers would NEVER be seen within a mile of a dancefloor that had "OLD PEOPLE" (like us) on it, not to mention toddlers. You might manage it at a private wedding but in public - not on your life ! Hanging out in the pub doorway with your pint and mobile phone is about all you could expect.

Much later, when we had all had an evening "bien arrosé", and worked off some of the frites on the dance floor, we all wandered down to the river to see the fireworks. By which I mean everyone, the whole village. Or at least it seemed like it. I was surprised to overhear one or two grumbles about how poor the fireworks were compared to previous years. To me they were fantastic. We oohed and aahed to our heart's content. Our only equivalent to this in England is on 5th November and for that you nearly always have to brave freezing rain and mud. And eat soggy hotdogs. Here we had had delicious moules and frites followed by lively dancing AND FIREWORKS. What more could anyone want ?


For the umpteenth time that holiday we wandered up the hill to our little cottage very happy indeed. We sat on our little terrace in the past-midnight warmth and listened to the last of the music and the happy chatter going on down in the village square. How lucky we were to have found this place. You can keep your swimming pools and fancy verandas, your acres of land, vineyards and orchards. With our tiny terrace overlooking the village, our scary plumbing and dodgy wiring, our scruffy bedrooms and crumbling paintwork, being in the thick of it all and knowing that fresh croissants were only a few steps away in the morning, we had the overwhelming feeling that it doesn't get much better than this.

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13 comments:

  1. What a great summer day! I have fond memories of "les bals du dimanche". Even if not everybody danced, it was wonderful to watch others.

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  2. Jean,
    Although a holiday here, I'm working in the study catching up before going on holiday.
    Your story was a nice little respite from what needed doing here. Its the villages that are the true France in our mind.
    Leon

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  3. Nadege - I love the way people let their hair down on the dancefloor. You get someone waltzing next to someone doing something funky and it's great fun.

    Leon - I believe you will be in the Loire for a spell, in which case
    1-I am jealous,
    2-have a great time,
    3-if we were chez nous I'd invite you round for an English cuppa.

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  4. You're doing it again. Writing about warm summer days when it's below zero outside.

    Is it spring yet?

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  5. Hi Jean
    I've only ever experienced Bastille Day and it was in Vannes...incredible!
    I've just checked my diary and I'll be in France on Tue the 13th.
    Hven't read your post fully...will re-visit later.

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  6. Walt - it's what keeps me going here in freezing England. This winter seems endless.

    Ken - we will not be in the village for Bastille Day this year - we try to vary the times of our visits so as to catch all the stuff that goes on all year round, bit by bit. But we always miss something !

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  7. Oh Jean, your words and photos captured this so well. I never go out on these busy popular days - I always think I will never be able to park and all the people will get on my nerves. But you have it on your doorstep. Mr FF and I really ought to become a bit more sociable on these communal occasions

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  8. FF - when we are in LGP we do all kinds of things that we can't be bothered to do in Derbyshire where the traffic is so bad it puts us off.

    Having plenty going on in LGP and the surrounding villages is a great joy and we rarely find the traffic anywhere near as bad as in England. I guess it might be worse where you are in the tourist season.

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  9. Hi Jean!!

    I really love the pics!! It makes me feel oh so summery!! Here in Ile de France the sky is without a cloud-- FIRST time I've ever seen that when it's not summer!! Only it's cold-- but who cares-- we have a glorious amount of sun and blue sky!

    Hope you get a bit warmer there soon..
    Have a great week,
    Leesa

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  10. Yes, you've captured the atmosphere really well in this post Jean. I've noticed that unlike the UK the public seem to get stuck into activities in France in a big way.

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  11. It's bitterly cold here too. This morning I had to get the bus again to go into Brussels to attend the second part of our seminar and it felt as if my feet had turned into two ice blocks by the time I got there :)

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  12. Leesa - I need to keep reminding myself that winter won't last forever. I can't wait to enjoy those lovely long warm summer days again.

    Martine - I started some gardening today but had to give up because my hands were so cold they wouldn't work properly.

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