June, July and August are the months 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 fickle saint. Fêtes come with themes too. You get tomato fêtes, potato fêtes, strawberry fêtes and pumpkin fêtes at various times of the year.
Fêtes are very popular. They’re all quite similar, but it’s a winning formula. There’s usually a small funfair (fête foraine), dancing (bal gratuit) and fireworks (feux d’artifices) the first night after a meal (repas). There will always be food involved since this is France, remember! Then next day there’ll be a car boot sale (vide grenier) followed by some sort of show (spectacle), often musical, and generally a race (concours) or parade (defilé) of some description. And there’ll be at least one food stand. This year Nouzerines was set to have a troupe of 45 Portuguese dancers and the local Sapeurs-Pompiers brass band providing the entertainment, to be followed by the course de la patate. This 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, sleep or pee en route!
But sadly the whole afternoon was washed out by rain. Chris, Ruadhri and I went down with visiting relatives and 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, despite the rain.
So if you see a fête advertised near the Angling Lines venue you’re fishing at, do go and check it out. These little affairs are as French as you can get and you’ll experience a true slice of local life. You’re likely to come home with a bargain as the brocante (bric-a-brac) stalls have anything and everything you never knew you couldn’t live without!