It is quite a while since I have found the time to add another posting so, now I’ll quickly whip through some of the highlights and, “lowlights”, of the several months since the last one.
The biggest thing in the village of Le Puy Notre Dame has undoubtedly been the “International Fête des Camping-Car”, which took place in late May. Over ten hectares of land in the nearby hamlet of Cix was covered in 800+ Motor-homes from all over Europe.
With at least 16OO people attending, the population of Le Puy was more than doubled for the four days of the festival. Although the one guy in the village who has a camping-car probably got counted twice as he drove his vehicle all of 500 metres from his house in the village to the site of the fête, paid his €90 for the four days and then, so it is rumoured, went home every day to cook lunch.
Another odd thing about the fête was that, although there was all these people on the site, every time I called in at the Buvette, (a bar in a tent), the only people hanging about were the usual suspects from the village bar, not a “camping-carist” to be seen. I am not sure if this says more about the village residents or about people who buy motor-homes! It is, however true, that one of the winemakers told us that, whilst they sold a fair amount of wine at their stall in the commercial marquee, hardly any of it was to the holiday makers on site!
Perhaps it was not surprising that all the bar regulars were in place as, effectively; it WAS the bar from the village. Lulu closed the doors each afternoon and moved lock, stock and Pastis to Cix. “Le Bouchon Ponot” Jean-Yve’s restaurant in the village closed down for all of the four days and re-assembled itself on the camping grounds amidst a beautiful green palmed marquee! Thus the whole centre of the medieval village of Le Puy Notre Dame effectively relocated itself to a field, overlooking the vineyards, for the four day duration of the fête.
Being used to the somewhat shambolic organision of most village fêtes, (Le Puy being an honourable exception I might add with its superb hard working team of volunteers), the quality of the entertainment and that of the music and light show at the end with the grand firework display were exceptional. The final light show was breathtaking with the huge collegiate church illuminated high on the hill in the background framed by the soaring firework display. Very professional indeed. As indeed were the artists who were contracted to appear; these included the Gypsy Kings and some French guy who was apparently a very famous pop star and caused great excitement amongst the locals. He had a very good backing group and looked a bit like Johny Halliday and sounded like him as well – in other words he looked like an ageing rocker who had systematically abused his body and had drunk, inhaled or injected every available substance known to man and then went on to sing like Des O’Connor.
Just afterwards, in the buvette, I met Stephane, who is ‘man in charge’ of all the tourist activities, and he truly looked shattered. Muttering over and over again “never again, never again”, although I wasn’t sure whether he was talking about the hard work he had done or the copious amounts he had drunk!!
Anyway, will have to continue this next time as my friend, Jackie, has arrived to help me move some scaffolding.
So, must go.