Fiona Alderman: Blogging from Rural France, Riots and Renovations
Riots and renovations
France is still under maximum security alert with continued terrorist threats and, because it is also the start of the Euro 2016 football season, tensions are running high. What a month La Belle France is having! Whether it is either strikes, travel disruptions, floods or petrol shortages, we in the South West are also suffering. The particularly unseasonal weather has also had a huge impact on tourism. Paris was under water with the Seine at a record high and the museums nearby have had to close and move their precious objects to higher floors.
In our little Salignac there has been a lot of building works underway. As our house is near the 11th century convent, a listed building undergoing major restoration work, our road has been closed. This house was bought a few years ago by the ‘mairie” and was to be fully restored to its former glory but the powers that be ie Les Batiments de France, which is similar to Historic Buildings, will have to do extensive surveys and studies which will take over a year they say. You can double this as it is France!! The amount of bureaucracy is astounding and it doesn’t surprise me that for the highest number of civil servants in the world, France is top of the list.
Suddenly, in our street alone, there are four roofs being repaired, next door to us a studio is being renovated to be let out, and barriers were put up at both ends so we can’t park except for fifteen minutes to unload the shopping! Our cats are quite bemused by all this commotion and can often be seen watching warily from our door. Just as I write the post van has come down the road, defying barriers, and instead of getting out and walking to the next house, the driver is stopping and starting each time. Even to physically take the post by foot seems beyond them? C’est La France.
Cannes and the Golden Palm
The Cannes Film Festival is an annual treat to the eye and to the world of film. First held after the war had ended, by 1946 its aim was to encourage the art of filmmaking in all its forms, whilst maintaining a sense of collaboration between participating countries. The huge attraction on the famous red carpet was first noted in the 50’s when Hollywood stars appeared such as: Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly and Gina Lollobrigida.
This year the supreme award Le Palme D’or went to the British filmmaker Ken Loach, for his film Daniel Blake. A wonderful and well deserved win. The award itself is a story. Redesigned in 1998 , by the Swiss deluxe jewellery firm, Chopard, its palm leaf symbolises the love of cinema. The emphasis on the veins of the stalk, the regulation 19 leaves and ending in the shape of a heart, which is the emblem of Chopard. It rests on a crystal cushion shaped like a cut diamond and is totally unique. Apparently it takes seven craftsmen and forty hours work to complete. Delicate, its golden form is a testament to superb craftsmanship. Have a look at this short video of the making of this beauty:
Signs in Salignac
On walking around the village I was struck by all the new street signs suddenly appearing. It is very strange here sometimes. As I mentioned before, some things take forever to get done whilst others happen overnight. The pretty blue and white ceramic plaques all depict something or someone. We have Rue Fenelon which is about the French Roman Catholic archbishop François Fenelon. He was also a theologian, poet and writer in the 16th century.
Next to us by the chateau is called the Rue du Chateau, which belongs to the Salignac Fenelon family. This was a fortress in the 12th century and is also a historical monument.
The last one is the very pretty Rue des Petunias, which isn’t in fact a road but just a stairway surrounded by flowers up to a private house. The road that really doesn’t exist?
I leave you with this. France Profonde as they call it. There is no explanation.
Fifi’s story from rural France June 2016.
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