Monday, 27 November 2006

Fête de St Catherine in Bretenoux

Christiane was told about the fête by our hairdresser. She said that it can be quite lively and last year a farmer got drunk and forgot to take his cows home! There used to be a tradition that all unmarried women over the age of 25 had to wear a special hat for the day. I assume that this was to advertise their availability to the assembled farmers at the fête. Today when Segolene Royal, (the socialist candidate for the French Presidency and probably the next President), has four children but is not married, the hats are out of fashion.

We met Lisa and Geoff in Bretenoux for the foire. Geoff used to be Features Editor for the Amateur Photographer and has worked for other weekly photo magazines and Lisa still works for a wine magazine. We first met them at the opening night of an art gallery in Bretenoux, so there was free wine and a few things to eat. The group was about half French and half “Anglo Saxon” I use the French term because it means “English and American” and this was an accurate description of the group. I am amazed that Americans find this part of France, but there are a surprising number of them here. By about 1930hrs the Anglo Saxons were left finishing the wine whilst the French had gone home to dinner. This says something about cultural priorities (or which group is prepared to eat late, which I suppose is really the same thing).

The day of the fête it was raining and, during one foray into the market stalls, Lisa and Geoff met another couple they knew, so we all had lunch together. Paul and Lauren live in a village a few kilometers north in the Correze and are on the committee des fêtes and in the choir. We are going to their concert next week. Geoff had a demonstration of an oyster knife and learnt from the stall holder that you should always bite into them before you swallow. If you don’t, they stay alive in your stomach! Since Geoff had already swallowed one, we all hoped that it wouldn’t start rebuilding its shell!


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