It has been a Bank Holiday in France today to celebrate May Day, traditionally La Fête du Muguet as it’s the day to go down to the woods to pick lily of the valley. But we’re ahead of ourselves this year as we did that nearly three weeks ago. Because of the mild spring and wall to wall sunshine in March and April everything’s a bit early this year.
The first group at the foyer rural in Cortambert
Having the day off was a good opportunity for an outing so Patrick organised a sortie en vélo. There was a very good turnout with 20 of us braving the 45km ride.
Others join us in Toury
We set off from Cortambert and turned north through Bray and Prayes, and began ascending the steep hill to Brancion. But Patrick was kind pour les allergiques aux montées and we went only as far as the Château de Nobles, a very impressive B&B and winery, before turning off Collonges sous Brancion. We passed through Etregny, Champlieu and Champagny sous Uxelles and returned via Chapaize.
The joy of cycling around these parts is the lack of vehicles on the road except for farm machinery. We didn’t take the cycling too seriously, stopping to ooh and aah at the little lambs and calves in the fields. In Chapaize we stopped by the medieval church.
The Romanesque church at Chapaize
The weather forecast wasn’t good, rain with thunderstorms for later. Fortunately the weather remained perfect for cycling, no wind and not too sunny.
Thank you Patrick for a most enjoyable ride through picturesque villages and lovely countryside.
Chris and Marie Antoinette enjoying a drink
And thank you for inviting us in for much appreciated drinks afterwards!
May has arrived, and so did the warm sunny weather for the bank holiday.
In the big cities May 1st is Labour Day, a day of trade union parades and protests. This year there is the added interest of the presidential election which finishes on Sunday. It was an opportunity for the finalists, M. Sarkozy and M. Hollande, to woo the six million people who voted for Marine Le Pen in the first round.
One of several rallies in Paris
M. Sarkozy addressed a rally of 200,000 workers in Paris appealing for national unity for his Gaullist vision of France “I tell the unions, put down the red flag and serve France!” Meanwhile M. Hollande sympathised with the unions regarding the effects of high inflation.
But here in Deepest France it is Lily of the Valley Day. The tradition is you go into the woods and pick wild lily of the valley, enjoy the spring weather and have a nice walk. You then give a sprig to the people you love. If you get a sprig with 13 bells you are assured of good fortune.
I went down to the woods this afternoon and found swathes of lily of the valley beneath the trees. I felt like a six year old, a little guilty about picking them, walking back up to the village with a bunch of wilting flowers clutched in a hot sticky hand.
Lily of the valley in the woods
May has a succession of bank holidays where people faire le pont to make a long weekend. We look forward to a holiday on May 8th (Victory in WWII), and May 17th (Ascension Day).
Yes, I know that life for us is one long holiday. So roll on those hot sunny summer days!