Les Galettes des Rois
The pompiers invite us to share the galettes
Epiphany with the fete of the Galette des Rois is the best attended event of the year for Cortambert. It is hosted by the local firemen, the sapeurs pompiers. There was sadness this year as one of our young firemen was killed in a road accident in November. Daniel, the chief pompier, gave a run down of the activity during the past year and Dominique, a retiring fireman was rewarded for his long service.
Presentation on retiring
It is a chance for neighbours to wish each other Happy New Year. It solves the problem of meeting someone later and trying to remember if it is the first time you have seen them in 2013. However after two glasses of wine and a hundred bises I find it easy to forget where I started and some lucky people get done twice !
The Galettes des Rois are eaten at Ephiphany to celebrate the visit of the three kings to the infant Christ. The galette is a puff pastry pie filled with almond paste. If you are lucky you find the fève in your piece and then you can wear the golden crown and be king or queen for the day (whichever takes your fancy !).
Chris and Pascale as King and Queen
The day of the Galettes des Rois also marks the end of the festive season. La Rentrée starts tomorrow when everything will be back to normal and we look towards Spring.
Yet again I’ve been left alone cat-sitting in sunny Burgundy whilst Mary is in Glasgow babysitting our granddaughters. Needless to say there was a list of things to do, reminders to feed the cats and to put the bins out, and also reminders to go to badminton, to go to riding and to go to the fête de champetre.
This year for the first time our village decided to hold a fête de champetre in honour of our patron saint, St Maurice, whose saint day falls on the 22nd September. (More about St Maurice in this earlier blog. )
The fête started with a concert in the church by Christal’Fragil, a guitar and vocal duo, this was followed by a musical stroll with the ‘festive fanfare’ of the gardening themed jazz group Fanf’arrosoir. Then an outdoor concert by our local rock group, Awen, at the Cortambert lavoir.
Awen at the Lavoir
This was followed with another musical stroll this time up to the Foyer Rural for supper.
Festive fanfare by Fanf'arrosoir
The supper was accompanied by more music from Fanf’arrosir and was followed by a ‘Bal Trad’ – dancing to the traditional music of Bals de Gailairme.
Dancing whilst we wait for supper
The 'Bal Trad'
This week our new Dutch neighbours arrived followed by their furniture. The weather has been mild but damp and unfortunately, while manoeuvring, the huge furniture van sank up to the axles in the soft ground. The spinning wheels had dug quite a hole.
So what to do? Our neighbour, Monsieur G, who has a small tractor was called but he reckoned a bigger tractor was needed. He went up to have a look with his friend, Monsieur D, whose tractor still wasn’t powerful enough. So they called on Monsieur T who has the big farm and by far the biggest tractor. Without further ado Monsieur T went up and pulled the van out of the mud, much to the relief of the young driver and our Dutch friends.
Out it comes
We too have often been helped out by our neighbours who drop everything to come and help. We too were once stuck in the mud in the forest and had to be towed out by Monsieur T’s tractor. Apart from such dramatic events, over the three years we have lived here we have received an enormous amount of help from our neighbours from finding workmen and organising fuel and utilities to simple day to day help with language problems and other aspects of living here.
So, like our new Dutch neighbours, we are lucky enough to find ourselves in a community of people who care about their neighbours and will do anything to help. We will always be extremely grateful to them.
I am occasionally asked in what ways we find that life in France differs from life in the UK. I usually say I like the blue skies (OK it’s been foggy this morning), the lack of traffic, the horses and cows, the views over the valley, the friendliness of the natives, the good manners of the children…… and that everyone seems to turn their hand to doing anything. The men can cut down trees, mend cars, drive tractors and build houses, while the women can cook, decorate, make lace and drive like Michael Schumacher.
Repas dansant at Cortambert
It struck me last night there is another huge difference; all the men here can dance, and enjoy dancing! Last night we were at the annual repas dansant at the foyer rural. Quite different from dinner dances I remember from the UK. Dancing started after the entrée with waltzes and foxtrots. The men didn’t have to be cajoled and were soon on the floor with their partners. After the main course they were just as good at boogie. And their rock‘n roll was as expert as anything I had seen at the Mecca in the 1960s.
Dancing to Génération B
So the puzzle is, when and where do men learn to dance in this part of rural France?
They were still hard at it when we left at 2am*. Goodness know when it all finished. That’s another thing, you wouldn’t get the older generation staying out dancing all night in the UK!
* Having just talked with Pascale, Mme le President, I am feeling awfully guilty that the others at our table were there until 5am washing all the plates and glasses which had to be ready for return by 7am.
I would like to thank Pascale for organising the repas dansant and for the beautiful table settings and flower arrangements. The theme was black and red which looked really stunning.