Rest Day: Bastille Day in Montcuq

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Walking in France: Writing the diary over breakfast

Writing the diary over breakfast

Apart from a light fall of rain early in the morning, the Fourteenth of July was a perfect summer’s day in Montcuq.

Our household went down to the bar to hear the speech by the mayor at midday, see the parade of banners by the veterans, and share the “verre d’amitié”  (glass of friendship) further up the road under the chestnut trees.

Some other Australians with houses in the area joined us as glasses of strange sweet red wine were distributed, conversation flourished and the crowd gradually dispersed.

Walking in France: The mayor making his Bastille Day speech

The mayor making his Bastille Day speech


Walking in France: Parade of banners by the veterans

Parade of banners by the veterans


Walking in France: Villagers sharing a "verre d'amitié"

Villagers sharing a "verre d'amitié"


We had lunch in the courtyard at the house and followed it with a deep sleep, luxuriating in soft sheets with the afternoon sun streaming in through lace curtains.

Walking in France: Lunch in the courtyard

Lunch in the courtyard


On our way to the village feast we were accompanied by a pair of camels, who were tethered to some plane trees while we ate, and pruned them vigorously. They were part of the entertainment to come.

Walking in France: A rare sight in France - three Australians and two camels going to a Bastille Day feast

A rare sight in France – three Australians and two camels going to a Bastille Day feast


The tables were covered with white tablecloths and bottles of wine were set out along them.

Our party lined up with everybody else and each person got a tray with first and last course – melon with ham and goat’s cheese, bread and tarte tatin, which many people ate then and there instead of leaving it for dessert. Then we lined up again for the hot food, which was duck, with potato gratin.

Walking in France: The feast

The feast


Walking in France: Pick the odd man out

Pick the odd man out


Gradually we moved across to the courtyard of the orphanage, hard against the donjon, where a stage had been set up.

Walking in France: Aerial view of the grand feast

Aerial view of the grand feast


The entertainment was in two parts – first, a polished, fast-moving dance routine by a professional group, and then a long rambling drama set in North Africa (hence the camels) and involving every person in the village under 30 years of age. The plot was convoluted but it was a delightful production.

Walking in France: The dancing troupe

The dancing troupe


Walking in France: The two camels making one of their many short appearances during the play

The two camels making one of their many short appearances during the play


Walking in France: And the finale - fireworks over the donjon

And the finale – fireworks over the donjon


The evening finished with a fireworks display high over the tower, which had been lit with rippling coloured lights during the performance. Our senses were exhausted by the time we straggled home after midnight.