I recently told you I was off to a beer festival with an Austrian oompah band (if you missed my newsletter about it you can read it here).
I’ve never been to a French beer festival before so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – by the way they called it a soirée Bavaroise. The posters that were plastered up everywhere in local towns said it started at 7.00 pm so, we arrived at 7.00 pm, tackling gridlock on the way rural French style (above). Us English that is, arrived at that time. This being France, of course it didn’t start then, and the mainly French audience turned up much later.
That’s how it is in France. I’ve never been to a single event that started when it said it would – and I’ve been to a lot. People started arriving from 8.00 pm and were still arriving when I left after midnight!
The menu was choucroute (sauerkraut) and sausages. Despite my trepidation that we’d have to queue for it creating a French style storming of the buffet table complete with punch ups (French people don’t queue), in fact the food was served à la table – the starters arrived at 9.45 pm! That’s another thing about France, they eat really late here, at least compared with Brits and Americans.
Since we are famous for our beer in the north of France I expected there to be lots of choice but no, there were just two beers to choose from and a much longer wine list that also included Champagne. A bit odd I thought to have a beer festival with just two beers but it made no difference to anyone there – two beers was enough for lots of fun!
The Austrian oompah band was in fact French. They were pretty good and got the party swinging rapidly. In between, as always, there was popular music including, of course, Le Madison, the most popular line dance in France, since, I am told, the 1960’s! Anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time in France won’t be able to avoid this tune, it is obligatory to be played and danced to at any sort of French celebration. It’s quite catchy, quirky and as soon as French people hear the first few bars of music – they all rush to the dance floor, form up in lines and start stepping it out.
It looks like a really easy dance so, I grabbed my friend Annette and dragged her up to the dance floor. As soon as my back was turned she sat down and left me there on my own, right at the front of the entire heaving lines of line dancers. And guess what, it’s not that easy at all! I missed all the little jumps, was facing left when everyone else went right and made a complete idiot of myself. Did I care? Non, I did not, life’s for living and who cares if you can’t dance properly!
I had to go to London the next day so I couldn’t stay too late but when I left everyone was dancing, drinking and settling in for a long night of it, I heard it went on until the sun came up the next day, by then I was on my way to catch a boat from Calais to Dover.
If you ever get a chance to go to a French party like this – take it. People are friendly, welcoming and they love you to join in the fun, but perhaps learn Le Madison first!