Semaine bavaroise

Semain bavaroise or Bavarian Week was the theme in Narbonne last week. I hadn’t noticed any mention of it in the paper but there are so many such events year around and even more in the summer when crowds of tourists line the streets. I first glimpsed the little white chalets set up for selling traditional food and drinks. The were set up in the center square in Front of Place de Ville and facing the Via Domita. Then as I turned and walked up Rue Droit (Right Way) I began to see men and women is costumes heading toward the center square. 

The participants gathered on the steps of Place de Ville for a brief welcome was given and an invitation for people to come to the performances of singing and dancing in the evening. The traditional food would also be available in the evening so no chance of sampling it. Alas, I knew I would not be able to remain.

Enjoying a café in the square is something I usually do once a week. It is delightful when the sun is shining. Of course I always have a book or two in my purse and on my table you will see one of the books I am currently reading. 

The group assembled on the steps. Inside you can walk about and perhaps as far as the massive ballroom on the upper floor. The offices of the mayor and his council are all there as well.  Extra tables with canopy had been set up to accommodate the additional guest and so that the cafés were not over burdened. 

Unfortunately, there were throngs of individuals trying to photograph the group and being rather short, I was quickly pushed back to where I couldn’t get more shots. They group reassembled for more photos on the Via Domita but once again, I was unable to get any closer and they didn’t remain for long. 

There are events and festivals all year around but through the summer, there is always something on. If you are traveling to France and would like some idea of what may be available in the area you plan to visit, just look on line for the area and the local Office of Tourism. Information is available in both French and English. It will also give you a much broader picture of what you can expect to find. 

Bisous,

Léa

14 Juillet, 2017

“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.”                                                    – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Preparation – before the crowd

It isn’t just about setting up and serving on the day. The Durban mon village Association has put in considerable time choosing a menu, the music, and the myriad of other considerations required to make this a memorable event. Just prior to the day, I witnessed several villagers creating the new countertop you see in the above photo. 

Celebrants begin arriving at about 7:00 in the evening and staking out where they want to sit, speaking with friends and taking a beverage from this willing crew.

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The food begins! Bread, water, wine and such have been put in place and now the servers bring the first course. A half melon into which they will pour Muscat, a sweet, pale golden, wine. Though it is lovely, I opt for plain melon as I don’t have a sweet tooth. 

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A young couple with their three year old daughter join our table as the melon is being served. The young lady and her mom pass on the wine but watch her appreciate the melon as only a child can do.

 

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Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!

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À votre santé!

 As always, a good time was had by all. The DJ, sometimes a band or more, and the music and dancing go on will into the night. Even the smallest children, barely walking, are out dancing with parents, and grandparents.  The French truly wrote the book on celebrating life. 

Bisous,

Lèa

La Fête du Muguet

La Fête du Muguet, La Fête du Travail, May Day in France is a public holiday to campaign for and celebrate workers rights. It is also an occasion to present  Muguet, lily-of-the-valley, or dog rose flowers to loved ones. Often it is just a single sprig of Muguet with a few leaves. However, some will incorporate a rose or even add several sprigs of Muguet to a much larger arrangement or plant.

How is the day celebrated: People across France give bouquets (or a single sprig) to their loved ones. In some areas, families will get up early to go into the woods to pick the flowers. Labor organizations will sell the flowers on the streets on May 1. Special regulations enable individuals and some groups to sell the flowers on May 1 without complying with retail regulations or paying a tax.

Parades and demonstrations to campaign for the rights of workers are organized by Trade unions and other organizations.  Campaigns for human rights and other pressing and current social issues will be out in number.

May 1 is a public holiday. Businesses will be closed as well as banks, post offices and shops. Other than a high traffic tourist area restaurants and even cafes may close. In the major cities the airport, railway station along with the highways (tolls)  may be open.  There could be disruption to traffic in the heart of large cities especially Paris due to Parades and demonstrations. There could also be limited access to Public transportation so check before setting out. 

On May 1, 1561, King Charles IX of France was presented with Muguet and was so enamoured of the gift that he instituted the tradition of presenting them to the ladies of his court. In 1900 men began presenting them to women as an expression of affection or interest. Today, they are given as a token of affection/appreciation between family members and close friends.

When the eight-hour  working day was made official on 23 April, 1919 the first of May became a public holiday. During World War II, the holiday ceased but was resumed in 1947. One year later, it became known as La Fête du Travail or Labor Day. It is a day used to campaign for and celebrate the rights of workers across the Country.

Don’t forget to click on those photos!

 

  Bisous,

Léa

Montolieu et salon du livre ancien

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Salon du livre ancien

It is always a delight to spend the day in Montolieu. La village du livre is small with a population of less than one thousand. Yet, this beautiful village nestled in the  Montaigne Noir is home to twenty bookshops, a massive compound where paper-making, book-making and other related crafts are taught and celebrated. Naturally, being France, artists are to be found at nearly every corner. However, that is another post. Wandering from bookshop to bookshop is not without consequences. One finds that they end up making trips back to the car with each load of books that were just not able to pass up. There is always the museum of book and paper making and the old compound that still makes and teaches the arts of book and paper making. There are also workshops and classes available for writers which bring visitors from different countries. While the majority of the books are in French, there is truly something for everyone.  I head for the poetry sections and always manage to expand my collection of French poets.

livres, livres...
livres, livres…

The Montolieu foyer was turned over to various collectors who had books to sell. This is over and above the twenty bookshops scattered around this charming village.

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et plus de livres

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Vending machines for organic produce!

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Fresh organic produce available 24/7
Fresh organic produce available 24/7
Fresh from local gardens
Fresh from local gardens
A variety awaits you!
A variety awaits you!

Something I have not encountered before is the automated produce system. Everything was fresh, local and organic! Just down the road is a bookshop/restaurant which is organic and where Yvonne and I were served an excellent lunch. It happens to be the same shop where we had the amazing chestnut cakes on a previous visit. If you would like to see more check out these previous posts:   https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/montolieu/ and https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/michel-braibant-museum-conservatory-of-book-arts-crafts/ Regardless of when you visit Montolieu, you will leave enchanted! Bisous, Léa

Fête Locale Durban 2013

The most recent fete in our village was last weekend.

Men from the audience recruited to learn the can can!
Men from the audience recruited to learn the Can Can!

Fête Locale Durban 2013 was celebrated over three days and nights. Friday night began with the apéritifs. Later a music and dance act (Plumes de Nuit). The

Bonne appètit!
Bonne appètit!

Master of Ceremonies and several women dancing. Among the dances was the can can.  Food was for sale: Salade, Plat du jour: rôtis de porc, haricots verts, pignon tomate confites.  Also available were Fromage et Glace.

At 11:00, the band, LONDON, started and the dancing went on until five the next morning. This is typical for these festivals.

The second night began with apéritifs and then a meal including: Salad of fresh spinach with strawberries,  Lapin  à la moutarde (Rabbit in Mustard) tomates provençales, fromage, Confiture de pastèque brulée, café, vin compris.

People who had not attended the dinner from this village and surrounding villages started arriving as the dinner was ending. There were other things to entertain such as rides for the little ones and a few arcade type games. at 23h or 11:00 pm the evening’s band ( FEELING) kicked off and went on, once again, until 5:00 am.

A Pètanque team
A Pètanque team

The final day of festivities got an earlier start.  At noon, Moules Frites were served to those who had purchased their tickets in advance. At 14h30 teams reported for the Pètanque tournament.  If you are interested in learning more about the game, please check out my post from February 14, 2012.

At the same time there was also trout fishing and pony rides for the children. Then at 19h, the band EQUATEUR made their appearance. It was a small group that played basically folk and local favourites. It was a warm up for 22h when the Disco began. If anyone was hungry, you could purchase a salad of greens, tomato and cucumber, brochettes of turkey with a yogurt and herb dipping sauce, cheeses and/or ice cream.

As usual, a good time was had by all.

A pony ride!
A pony ride!

Bisous,

Lèa

A pony ride!
A pony ride!
Bonne chance!
Bonne chance!
Stage for the band FEELING!
Stage for the band
FEELING!
Whee!
Whee!
Bonne chance pour les enfants!
Bonne chance pour les enfants!
Stage for the band FEELING!
Stage for the band
FEELING!
Trout fishing
Trout fishing
Stage for the band FEELING!
Stage for the band
FEELING!

Fête Nationale / Bastille Day / quatorze juillet

Arrive early to choose your seat
Arrive early to choose your seat

When it is spoken of in English speaking countries, 14 July is usually called Bastille Day or (French National Day). Here in France, it is La quatorze juillet (14 July) or La Fête Nationale (Formal name). The actual storming of the bastille was 14 July 1889

The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the heart of Paris. On the morning of 14 July 1789, the people stormed the building and released the seven prisoners it contained at the time. Yet this action had nothing to do with the number of inmates but the fact that the storming was a symbol of the abuses of the monarchy and was the critical stage which erupted into the French Revolution.

Make reservations?
Make reservations?

There were three events that led up to the revolution. First was the revolt of the nobility, refusal to aid King Louis XVI by withholding taxes, the second was formation of the National Assembly and the third event was the storming of the Bastille and the ensuing Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Grab a beverage and start socialising!
Grab a beverage and start socialising!

The masses formed the National Guard, sporting tricolour or cockades (cocardes) ribbons knotted together of red, blue and white. These cockades and soon the color scheme itself, become symbol of the revolution and continue today as symbol of France itself.

A few are beginning to take their seats...
A few are beginning to take their seats…

While the date for the destruction of the Bastille was indeed 14 July 1789, the date for French National Day was actually 14 July, 1790 to commemorate the 1790 Fête de la Fédération. It is a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation and reconciliation of all French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic during the French Revolution. Celebrations are held all over France.  A largest and oldest military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign quests.

A Counsel member chats with the DJ - a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A Counsel member chats with the DJ – a band takes over when the meal is finished!

 

In most cities outside of Paris, there is usually a small ceremony at the monument for those who gave their lives in WWI and WWII. In the evenings there will be fireworks. In our village, the are shot from the ancient castle behind my home.

A great view of the castle and fireworks
A great view of the castle and fireworks

Here in my small village, there will be a meal (repas) attended by all who wish. Each year a different village organization takes charge of preparing the dinner, selling tickets procuring music and everything else that is involved. As the meal comes to a close fireworks are shot from the village chateau. The tables and chairs get moved way back and the dancing goes on well into the morning. Despite the fact that I was, once again, invited to spend the day in Carcassonne where there is the second largest fireworks display outside Paris. However, the evening with my friends and neighbors cannot be matched by a mere firework display. It is one day I truly do not want to be anywhere else.

Henri et Georgette - await their respective spouses
Henri et Georgette – await their respective spouses
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette
Christiane, Serge (the respective spouses and friend) et Puerto
After a great meal, fireworks begin
After a great meal, fireworks begin
And the dancing begins
And the dancing begins
Dance the night away... at least until 5am
Dance the night away… at least until 5am
Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well
Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well
Barbe à papa (Papa's beard) AKA Cotton Candy
Barbe à papa (Papa’s beard) AKA Cotton Candy

Seating fills quickly but you can make a reservation by stationing someone from your group or by placing something at one point, tipping forward the chairs you will be using and also with a pen or marker put the name and number of guests you require seating for.  While this may sound simple, the claim is respected and your seats await you.

Chef station
Chef station

Bisous,

Léa

First course: melon with port
First course: melon with port
Everyone is in a festive mood!
Everyone is in a festive mood!
Meals take longer because there is real communication going on!
Meals take longer because there is real communication going on!
Bonsoir!
Bonsoir!
The place to be!
The place to be!
Feux d'artifice
Feux d’artifice!
Our chateau by night!
Our chateau by night!
Dance...
Dance…
Dance, dance, dance! The DJ won't stop for hours...
Dance, dance, dance!
The DJ won’t stop for hours…

Bio marché

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Organic plants for your garden

Once again, we are back at Chateau Bonnefous. They are host to our annual Bio Marché where growers and artisans bring there wares for us to sample and purchase. There is also plenty of information available for those that want to explore organic gardening, wine making and more.

Being in the largest wine producing region in France, the wine makers are well represented and happy to share their wares.

Remy - Domain Saint Juste
Remy – Domaine Sainte Juste

There are baskets of fresh local cherries and strawberries for sample and sale. If you get hungry, there are food sellers who offer snacks or a meal. The Chateau also has a full scale restaurant where you can dine indoors or out on the patio.

Fresh and aged local cheeses, breads, it is a tempting display of local wares. Of course artisans of all persuasions are on hand.

Games and toys made of wood offer hours of fun without using any electricity and no batteries are required.

The carousel: Ladybug, Snail, Grasshopper,
The carousel: Ladybug, Snail, Grasshopper, Frog

The carousel is a favourite with the young ones. But each year the children’s entertainment changes. There is no charge for the ride or the petting zoo.

At any event, you will find music. This is no different and a merry band of locals wandered about the event regaling us with their tunes. Naturally, there is impromptu dancing.

There are tables set up for those who want to sit and chat with family and friends over café or a glass of Rosé. Face painting is offered for the children and once again, no charge.

Carousel - Grenouille/Frog
Carousel – Grenouille/Frog

An effort is made to introduce everyone to environmental issues and organic foods.

Bisous,

Léa

Wooden games
Wooden games
Wooden toys
Wooden toys
Canard confit
Canard confit
Handcrafted cutlery
Handcrafted cutlery
Lavender and other essential oils
Lavender and other essential oils
Something for everyone!
Something for everyone!
Petting zoo
Petting zoo

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