Fiona Alderman: A Spring Wedding in France
Spring Wedding in France
We are very lucky to have been asked to a French wedding next month. It’s the first time for us and we want to be sure we follow the correct procedures. They are a young couple living in the next village. I used to look after their two and a half year old toddler every Friday. Before she had her baby the bride to be was the doctor’s secretary here in Salignac.
It’s to be a civil ceremony presided over by the mayor of their village and will take place at their town hall. Afterwards we will go to the beautiful church nearby for the religious service. Apparently the couple have been planning for over a year and I can just imagine the paperwork required.. There are many rules that must be observed, for example, they must be free to wed and not already married! They have to have a formal interview separately and the whole process can take up to several months. I believe it is longer if you aren’t French. We are unsure however, what happens after that. Are we invited to “le grand repas” or not? Are we sufficiently friends that we can assume this ? What do we bring as a present? I think they have a similar marriage list of presents but already they seem to have everything as they are not just starting out !!
In France the meal after the marriage is a very big deal and lasts for hours with all sorts of customs to be entertained. From keeping your hands off your lap, which is considered very rude, to keeping your elbows off the table, to leaving your cutlery at the edge of the plate, fork and knife one on each side, to signal you have finished eating. Another rule is if you need to leave the table for some reason, you must leave your napkin on your chair not the table. Wow!
In France, same sex marriages have been legal since 2013 and another interesting one is called PACS (pacte civil de solidarité), which isn’t a marriage but a legal binding civil partnership. This was first seen in 1999 and was first set up for same sex couples to protect their rights. It was hugely unpopular at the time but is now widely recognized even for heterosexual couples. For people who choose to live together without marrying or to be pacsé is called en concubinage!
I recently watched the film “Gigi “ on French television, with French subtitles as it was made in English. What a joy it is still. I last saw it years ago and it stayed in my mind for lots of reasons . This included the stars, French actress/dancer Leslie Caron, and the good looking Louis Jourdan, who was then tipped to have been the hottest male sex symbol of the time.
These French actors, who went to Hollywood in the 50’s, including Maurice Chevalier also in this film, were charming with their French accents. Directed by the famous VIncente Minnelli in 1958 the film is based on the novels of Colette, and wonderfully costumed by Cecil Beaton. With a screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, superb music by Frederick Loewe arranged by André Previn, I believe it is a little masterpiece.
The story begins with Gaston, a considerable womaniser but a charmer too, loves to spend time with “Mamita”, played by the great actress Hermione Gingold, and her young high spirited granddaughter Gigi. She treats Gaston as an older brother to begin with but things change. In the usual story of the French male having mistresses, Gigi is to be groomed for this role. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t agree and this leads to all sorts of confusion and misunderstandings. He begins to see her as a blossoming woman and falls in love with her. There is a scene in Maxim’s the famous restaurant in Paris where Gigi is playing the role of courtesan, lighting his cigar for him and flirting with him. This bothers Gaston as he realises she is unlike all his other women. He proposes she should become his wife.
It ends with a romantic scene of them riding in an open carriage in the Bois De Boulogne , happily married and with a sense of fun and deep love for another – unusual to find in similar high society relationships.
It was said that to find the real Gigi was really difficult, Audrey Hepburn was first approached but couldn’t do it. Leslie Caron was living in London with her husband Peter Hall and she had become totally Anglicised – even to the point of losing her accent. However, she went on to be memorable in the role. She was a popular actress in France for some years but has since moved back to London to work as a stage actress , working with her son as director in a television series. Still known though as Gigi even after all these years.
What are they ?
I bought these two pots ages ago in a “vide grenier “, ie car boot sale, but don’t really know what they were used for? They have a measuring device inside and a little spout at the bottom. I use them for holding wooden spoons, spaghetti, clothes pegs and sometimes flowers. Maybe someone will know what they are supposed to be used for?
PS I have just discovered what they are but if anyone is interested then please comment below and I will reveal all next month.
That’s all for now. Fifi’s story from rural France March 2017.
www.salignacfoundation.com dance and film courses in the Dordogne. SW France
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