Fete des voisins (neighbour’s festival)

Today, apart from Pentecost, is the festival of neighbours. It’s a holiday weekend here – tomorrow is a jour ferie ( bank holiday)” lundi de pentecote” (what used to be in England, Whit Monday). I remember from my childhood in Yorkshire the whitmonday walks (a walking race round the West Riding, as it was then, of Yorkshire). Also, the “beating of the bounds” – traditionally a walk around the boundary of the parish to mark where these boundaries are (accompanied at times by the beating of the chorister at the four points (compass) of the parish).

Strange customs these English have!?!

Links with “John o’the green” and other May and early summer rites. But then the French are the same – for a supposedly secular society they still celebrate many religious festivals.

However – back to the fetes des voisins. In an increasingly divergent and secular society, the government here, like the English government, have decided to encourage community action and neighbourhood events.

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For the neighbour’s festival we organised a barbecue with our neighbours, and invited friends both French and English. We began at 1200 and finished at 1800. Tomorrow we recover, perhaps !?!

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Look out for news of upcoming events in and around the area.

Bob and Marjory

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Celebrating the start of summer

Last weekend saw the start of some traditional summer festivities with the local commune of St Germain-le-Gaillard celebrating its Foire Saint-Urbain. Traditionally a livestock fair, it began with a concours de mouton; and then through the day an animation inter-commune; including courses en sac, tir a la corde, lancer de charentaise, course a l’oeuf – recognise these from English village fairs?

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There was , of course, the modern aspects to the fair, with a soiree couscous, a vide-grenier (literally an empty attic) or car boot sale, and a moto-cross.  All-in-all a good time was had by all; and the weather, though not as sunny as the previous few weeks was good. Not like now as we have traditional English Bank Holiday weather!!

But then there was the more modern start to summer. Last year it was the fishermen protesting at the price of fuel and blockading the ports. This year the farmers blockaded the supermarket carparks. In an on-going protest at the supermarkets’ lowering the price paid to the farmers for milk, old tires, fumeur (mucking-out from the cowsheds) and agricultural vehicles are used to block entry to supermarket carparks. To do our weekly shop last Friday we had to park in a nearby street, and walk to the supermarket. Super-U was quieter than we have ever seen it! The protest continues, and there are rumours of a shortage of milk and dairy produce. We wait for further news.

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Meanwhile however, the summer season slowly begins – watch this space for upcoming events and new, or refurbished summer attractions.

Hoping the weather continues to improve after this Bank Holiday setback. (We have our fourth bank holiday within a month next Monday – Lundi de Pentecote (Whit Monday, the [religious] forerunner of Spring Bank Holiday).

Bob and Marjory