Fiona Alderman: The Capital of Christmas
After 5 weeks of riots and strikes throughout France we are now once again on a high state of alert.A few days ago the beautiful city of Strasbourg was also hit by a terrorist attack.When people were enjoying this historic Christmas market they were suddenly taken by surprise.
The President Mr. Macron is not very popular as he didn’t come out at the beginning of the gilets jaunes strike and so his credibility has plummeted.He did go however to pay his respects in Strasbourg.
Let’s go back to find out more about this famous Christmas market which is the oldest in France and called the capital of Christmas:
The city was originally part of the German Rhineland and had long standing Christmas traditions but when it became a French city they retained them.They were at the “crossroads” of two strong cultures, which is quite unique.
The streets twinkle with thousands of lights and windows are decorated with candles giving it a magical air.Rising high in the air is a huge Christmas tree in the centre of the square which towers over the crowds of people below.
The Christmas Market first started in 1570 and is the oldest in Europe plus the first in France.People come from all over the world to enjoy the pretty wooden chalets, the Nativity scenes, the mulled wine and the famous bredele iced cakes.
Each year they have a guest country and it is Finland which is showing its best this year.
All I can say is that whatever culture it is surely everyone is the same.Bringing the family together
during this time in a calm and peaceful way.I wish you all the very best for Christmas and the following New year.
An Unusual Christmas Concert
I am always amazed here in rural France when the unusual happens.I was invited by French friends to go to a local musical concert in an old church, where the trio called Mary Estrade were performing a blend of jazz and French variety which would prove to be an absolute delight.
A really amazing character of a woman came on stage and her presence lit up the already cold church!
She played clarinet, saxophone and sang wonderfully. She recounted the story of Mr Jo a boy who loves music and who wants to be a famous musician. For one and a half hours she and her musicians lead us through a fascinating story of how petit Jo would become someone. Her way of both telling the story plus playing the music was incredible.
Mary Estrade is quite a performer. She started very early at just 5 years old and swiftly moved on to great things working with the top French singers and jazz musicians.
She also learnt to improvise on the streets and in the Metro in Paris where she developed her own style.Her voice is deep and husky, perhaps from playing in smoky clubs!
The trio,consisting of her plus her husband on guitar and a very tall double bass player,would play non stop for an hour and a half.
They finished to a standing ovation people warming to the music and the banter of these fine musicians. They play all over France and pay homage to the greats such as Django Reinhardt , Claude Nougaro and Sidney Bechet. We toasted them afterwards with some hot mulled wine and homemade pastries, even though it was raining outside, it was a lovely evening.
I lost a lovely friend just recently. She was 96.Originally from Spain, she met and married a Frenchman during the War.He was involved in the Resistance I believe.They came to live here 50 years ago but she never lost her Spanish roots.Her French was often peppered with Spanish words.
I met her one day as she was feeding the birds.We got talking and she told me she had been the concierge at the chateau here.She would regale me of stories about the owners and later the visitors she would take round on a tour. A lovely character she enjoyed her work and was well appreciated by everyone.
Her other love was her cats, of which she had many.When her husband died she took on more and more waifs and strays.Her house was full of cat baskets and cat litter! Many kittens were welcome too.
I will always remember her kindness and her generosity. Sleep peacefully Maria Louisa x
Bonnes Fêtes from rural France.
Fifi’s stories from rural France www.salignacfoundation.com
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