Monday, 3 August 2015

Travel: Fete du village in the South of France: bulls, guinguettes and apero-mousse!

Camargue Cowboy
horsemen at the bull running south of France, languedoc
bull and horsemen at the bull running south of France, languedoc
bull looking at me,  at the bull running south of France, languedoc
Bull being let out, horsemen at the bull running south of France, languedoc
l'apero mousse, Aigues Vives, Fete du village, Languedoc, France
l'apero mousse, Aigues Vives, Fete du village, Languedoc, France
l'apero mousse, Aigues Vives, Fete du village, Languedoc, France
l'apero mousse, Aigues Vives, Fete du village, Languedoc, France
l'apero mousse, Aigues Vives, Fete du village, Languedoc, France
Almost every weekend throughout the summer in the South of France there is a fete du village. People go to their own village party but they also go to the surrounding villages. I happened to be visiting my friend Juanita in Aigues Vives, near Nimes while the local fete de village held a South of France phenomenon; l'apero-mousse!
  • L'apero is slang for 'aperitif', or as today's youth call it 'prinking' short for pre-drinking. The idea behind an apero-mousse is that you stand about drinking alcohol while being covered in foam and aurally assaulted by terrible euro-pop. The posters boast "Plus d'un metre de mousse!" (more than one metre high in foam!) As an experience it is a) surreal b) funny c) you get sunburnt from all the reflected light (this took place at midday in a canicule/heatwave) d) your eyes sting from the detergent e) you get very drunk. Drinks only cost a euro or two. Many girls only wear bikinis. Some wear rubber rings around their waists. 
  • In a nearby village I participated in another South of France tradition: bull running. In this village the bulls were locked in a lorry, the sides and rooves were banged to agitate them, then they were let out. Villagers on horseback , Camargue cowboys, chased them along the narrow streets to another lorry at the other end of the village. No bulls are harmed. Bull running, jumping and fighting, the rituals and ceremony, are dated back to Roman times, with matadors replacing gladiators. As a spectator, the bull running is quite frightening, even on the sidelines, where one is behind a temporary fence which isn't fixed to the ground. If the bull decided to take a charge at you, there isn't much you could do. There are also 'taureau piscine', bulls in a swimming pool, which I didn't get to see.
  • Another summer pleasure is the guinguette, a restaurant and dance hall with music next to a river. One of Renoir's greatest paintings depicted a guinguette just outside of Paris. In the oppressive heat it is delightful to bathe in the clean rivers then have a typically southern dish such as bull stew 'la gardiane de taureau', or fried potatoes and calamari from plastic barquettes, drink sangria or pastis and listen to the band. I visited the guinguettes at Lecques and at Sommières.
In the river next to the guinguette

6 comments:

  1. What an amazing opportunity! Great time to visit your friend :)

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    1. She's lived in France for like 25 years now. I met her when I lived in Paris, had a very young baby, no family and was desperate to meet other anglophone mums. I put an ad in an english language magazine (FUSAC) and we've been friends ever since.

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  2. Something I have yet to encounter. It sounds like fun.

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  3. Oh I loved the Breton guingettes (or their version of them) I attended as a teenager, living there each summer holiday. We'd travel there via planche a voile (when the wind was the right direction) where the salt marshes crept towards Paimpol. Then there'd be swimming with trays of orangina and pastis brought out to us in the middle of the lake/saltmarsh/harbour, balanced on the head of the local bar tabac owner who would join in joyously, his fingers pruning in the water.

    Happy memories. So happy I managed to drive my mobylette into the salt marsh, so over tired and emotional was I. It was the early eighties where things were more tolerant, in my defence.

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    Replies
    1. Why don't we have guinguettes here?
      France is great when you are a teenager as French boys give you confidence, being incredibly flirtatious.

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