June and July are the month for fêtes in France. Pretty much every little village with have one at some point, often tying in with its ‘saint patronale’ (patron saint). Nouzerines is connected with Saint Clair, whose day is 1st June. So the weekend closest to that is when the Nouzerines fête takes place. The drawback is that early June has a tendency to be unsettled and stormy in this part of the country. We should possibly consider swapping St Clair for a less meteorologically challenged saint.
I was at the fête Sunday morning, manning the AIPB cake stall. I got there shortly after 8am and the vide grenier (car boot sale / bric-a-brac stalls) was in full swing already. I dread to think what time they must have arrived to get set up. There was a mass and procession from the church to St Clair’s spring at 9.30am, but I couldn’t participate, which was a little disappointing, since I was busy selling slices of carrot cake and flapjacks and scones to mainly French customers. However, this is a very important duty. There are certain things French people really need to know about British culture, and English cakes are near the top of the list. A French person who can master a scone with butter and cream is well on the way to becoming an Anglophile.
Fêtes are very popular. They’re all quite similar, but it’s a winning formula. Dancing and fireworks the first night after a repas (meal), then next day a vide grenier followed by some sort of spectacle (show), often musical, and some kind of concours (race) or defilé (parade). Nouzerines was set to have troupe of 45 Portuguese dancers (I hope the stage was well screwed together) and the Sapeurs-Pompiers batterie-fanfare, followed by the course de la patate. This latter looked great. It was a relay involving carrying potatoes on spoons. There was a long list of rules on the posters advertising it, which included not touching your potato or eating it or throwing it, and you were definitely not allowed to stop to do such things as scratch or pee! But sadly the whole afternoon was washed out by rain as these photos show. Chris, Ruadhri and I went down with Chris’s visiting sister and brother and their families. We got well and truly soaked. However, the kids won some tat on the ‘hoop a duck’ stall and then had a toffee apple each, so they were happy enough. It was worth going.
Maybe we’ll get the sun next year!