Hope you had a great week.
I’m sending you this newsletter from the back of a Harley Davidson as I’m on a road trip round the most northerly region of France. Join me on Instagram where I’ll be posting photos (and even a few videos) from the Chateau de Chantilly – where I’ll be eating cake with Chantilly cream of course! I’ll also be visiting gorgeous Gerberoy, the village of roses in Picardy, the Bay of the Somme, classified as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, plus loads more amazing locations.
Last week was the village Ducasse – a local word for party. It’s a tradition for the whole village to get together at the end of the harvest, to celebrate with a glass of wine, good food, friendship and camaraderie. “Starts at 19.30h” said the invitation. So of course I went at 20h with my friend Annette to join our neighbours (it’s the law to be late in France). “Do you think the tent will blow away” someone said as gales made the tent sway and we all laughed but kept our fingers crossed.
Though there are less than 150 people in the village, we somehow managed to cram more than 300 people in the tent. At 10pm the first course was served, by then we were all rosy cheeked from wine and had forgotten about the wind which was by now bending the trees over in the town hall garden. Out came salads, grated carrots in vinaigrette, paté and pickled cucumbers and hunks of bread. After that came another course, chicken and chips, cooked in great steaming vats in the car park and a huge barbecue. Then the cheese – Camembert and Brie plus the famous locals Maroilles and Vieux Boulogne, the stinkiest cheeses in France. Then cakes came around, oozing with cream and jam, dowsed in icing sugar, soft creamy sponges and chocolate concoctions.
By now it was after midnight and the old folk got up to leave. The light’s went off, the dance floor was cleared, the DJ put on a medley of 80’s disco classics – pretty much no one here can resist Kool & the Gang! Hours of line dancing and every other kind of dancing ensued. Jean-Pierre who cuts the hedges in the village, almost unrecognisable out of his blue overalls and wearing a Johnny Halliday T-Shirt (the French Elvis) and jogging pants, stamped the floor in a Flamenco style display (to every single tune). Seventy year old Marie-Therese who uses a walking stick swayed along to The Eurythmics (when I said the oldies left I meant those over 90). Everyone loves to dance here, I even had a go myself, joining in the line dancing – you sort of have to!
I left in the early hours of the morning and it was still going strong. But, I need to pace myself on account of the fact that each village has a Ducasse in these parts. They’re all held on different weekends from September through November, to give people a chance to party with their neighbours throughout the Seven Valleys.
The wind blew me up the hill from the town hall to my house and I fell asleep to the sound of disco, carried by the wind, echoing round the hills…
Wherever you are, I wish you a very bon weekend
Bisous from France
Top Photo: Wishing you could be here in my local boulangerie to smell the bread just out of the oven!
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