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Celebrating Bastille Day in rural France

This week in France we celebrated Bastille Day as English speakers call it – the French call it Fete Nationale, or Quatorze (14th) July.

At noon, the fun started in my village. A meet up at the town memorial, followed by a vin d’honneur, a glass of wine, and a barbecue at the town hall with a DJ in the car park. It was an overcast day, slightly drizzly and not greatly warm, clearly the sun was joining in the national holiday. But the villagers turned out with enthusiasm. The DJ played Boney M.’s Ra Ra Rasputin, bawling into the microphone through his mask what sounded like ‘Ra Ra Rabbit’s skin’, the kids joined in with gusto as ‘Ra Ra Rabbit’s skin’ reverberated round the valleys. The smell of sizzling sausages filled the air, people danced, chatted and partied until 5pm which was when the party in the next village along started!

This one was in the reception room of the old village bar which closed many years ago. We were met by the mayor who personally welcomed everyone and showed them to their table. The Baron (who lives in the village chateau) served drinks aided by Goat Lady (she makes the most amazing goats’ cheese). The mayor made a speech and dished out book prizes to all the school children in the village and sweets to all the babies. The Baron bought round more drinks, the mayor cooked thick slices of ham and chips, followed by the classic French flan patissier (a creamy custard tart) and creamy Brie.

We walked home afterwards, stuffed but happy. It was just before darkness fell. Bats whizzed about above our heads, owls hooted preparing for a night of hunting and kids rode their bikes home on empty roads. A bunch of bossy chickens were sat awaiting us on the doorstep, blinking as the light went on and looking as if to say ‘what time do you call this then Cinderella?’ (You can see them here on Instagram).

It feels good to be getting some normality back.

All is not quite normal however and the travel situation for France seems to be changing weekly. President Macron recently announced that only people with proof of full vaccination will be able to travel on public transport, go into bars, restaurants and shopping centres, leisure and cultural centres and visit major tourist attractions (or you will need a negative Covid test). And PCR tests will no longer be free for ‘convenience testing’ eg for access if you haven’t been vaccinated. This affects not just French residents, but visitors too. If you’re intending to travel to France, check the French government website or your country’s embassy/consulate website to get up to date details as this seems to be an ongoing, ever-changing situation.

Wishing you a very bon weekend.
Bisous from my little pigsty where it is sunny in between bouts of sogginess…

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Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life

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