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.
“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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.
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.
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.
Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!
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.
Each year, monsieur le Maire hosts a soirée. If you follow this blog, at some point you begin to realise that the French take their sense of community seriously and love to enjoy the company of family, friends and neighbours.
Notice of the date is delivered about the village with a request for those who will attend to R.S.V.P. as they do want to have sufficient to serve all in attendance. Those needing a ride will be accommodated.
At the appointed time, villagers begin arriving and immediately the socialising commences. As everyone takes a seat, the Mayor welcomes the participants then gives a brief update of plans for the year.
It is now time for the entertainment to begin. This year we were treated to songs by a chanteuse, Nadine, who was accompanied by Yves. Her songs took us through a melody of French and American songs. There were numerous costume changes and at one point she re-created the famous scene of Marilyn Monroe having the wind send her white dress flying high! While there were a few lulls in the entertainment due to costume changes, she made up for it with her unbridled enthusiasm. Of course, no review of Marilyn would be complete with a rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.
As she wraps up her performance, plates of pastries and other treats began to arrive. The decorated tables sported plates of chocolates. Small pots of flowers and tiny straw butterflies were strewn about. Once your plate was served someone followed up pouring you a glass of Blanquette. For those who prefer there were bottles of water on each table.
The chanteuse took a short break and changed out of costume then joined us for a small respite. However, she soon picked up her microphone and the music started again. The dancing commenced and the party continued for quite some time.
In the pockets of garrigue (scrubland) about the south of France, the land is ideal for raising sheep.
Each year when the sheep are being sheared of their thick wooly coats, villagers and others from surrounding villages
will gather for the event. One more distinction that I have noticed about France and the French is that they can take something that most would consider a chore (shearing) and turn it into a party. They have such a passion for life in all its facets.
In Albas vendors will have booths selling fromage (cheese) made from sheep’s milk, crepes, tickets for the meal that will be served later (ewe on the spit). You can purchase scarves, caps and sweaters made from the wool.
There is a Petting Zoo set up for the children, music for dancing and a local band that parades about the village.
Several Milk-fed Lambs (4-6 weeks old) are prepared and secured to spits then cooked over open fires. During cooking, they are brushed frequently with a mixture of herbs and locally produced olive oil. They will be served with pomme de terre (potatoes), vegetable, salad, cheese and a dessert which was tart aux pomme (apple tart). Being France, there are bottles of wine (rouge and rose) on the tables along with water. After the meal is finished you are offered café.
There is dancing until late into the night and everyone is included as you can see by these photos.