Several years ago I got to experience Bastille Day in Paris.  It was a gala holiday there with the huge military parade on the Champes Elysee and military jets flying overhead.  Afterwards there were parties all around the City sponsored by the Pompiers (firefighters).  Of course it also rained on the parade, a gigantic thunderstorm with such heavy rain that they had to shut down a couple of the metro stations.
The mayor is in the center. A very old soldier from WWII holds the flag.
Yesterday in the village I attended a much smaller, less grand, but one that felt more patriotic and intimate.  During the day many houses proudly displayed the French flag.  Apparently there were some game competitions for the children such a tug of war but we only heard about this and later saw awards being presented to some proud winners.

The evening event was very special.  Everyone gathers at the top of the village, next to the tennis courts.  This is where all the local fetes (festivals) are held as well as the petanque games (in Italy it is called bocchi ball).  The festivities began at 7 pm with “appertifs” on your own (soft drinks, beer, wine).  Beer appeared to be the favored beverage as yesterday was REALLY hot and humid and continued to be into the evening.

It was so warm that the cigales were buzzing as late as 10 pm.  Cigales (or cicasdas we call them in the USA) are a locust type of insect with a very brief lifespan.  They remain dormant in the ground in their larval stage and eventually emerge from trees.  They begin maturing in midsummer when the weather gets warm and shed their outer shells changing into a very pretty insect looking a little like a small dragon fly.  They are one of the symbols of our region here.  As the weather warms up the males start making a very loud incessant buzzing noise.  They keep this up from about 10 am until 7 pm daily during their life span which is only like 40 days.  They were late arriving this year but are here in full force now.

A mature cigale.
There was a good turnout (like just about everyone who lives in the village).  Some years ago the event (which includes dinner) was free but apparently there were a lot of freeloaders from other villages so now there is a nominal charge of $5 for a ticket.  There was a lot of socializing and catching up on people’s news between folks who hadn’t seen each other for awhile.

We had a good laugh with our next door neighbor.  About two months ago we had noticed she had two chickens roaming in her garden, a mother hen and a maturing chick.  The chick has been getting bigger.  The chickens are more like pets than poultry to the owners.  The chickens follow them around the garden and they talk to them.  A couple of weeks ago we asked our neighbor if they were going to have any roosters.  “Oh no, only femmes,” she insisted.  Early yesterday we heard a very immature cockadoodledoo next door.  Last night we told her our suspicions, she confirmed them, and we had a good laugh.  There has been no crowing there today so we worry about the young cock’s status.

I am surprised now at how many people here I recognize and have a friendly acquaintance relationship with many.  Of course we also have a dear close friends.  There are many evenings we spent at each other's homes.  Last week we had a very special evening with some good friends here at our "maison".  One couple have a delightful four-year-old who is very special.  He is fascinated by pirates so we surprised him with some pirate presents.  

At 8 pm the formal event began.  The mayor gave a speech which emphasized liberty, justice, equality, and the importance of separation of church and state (sound familiar?).  Then he led everyone in singing the national anthem.

We sat with our friends during dinner.  There was great conversation, much laughter, pretty good wine, and so so food.  Well what do you expect for 5 Euros?  After dinner there was an excellent fireworks display!!
We left before the DJ started and dancing ensued.  However just before that started there was something we never expected and found it deeply moving.  All the children, young ones accompanied by parents, paraded through the old village carrying lanterns.  The mayor led the parade.  This is apparently a very old tradition.  What a night!

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