Fiona Alderman: The Day of the Ancients blogging from rural France

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Grand Fete a L’Ancienne in Salignac

On the 9th August, which just happened to be my birthday, there was a very grand Fete a L’Ancienne in Salignac. The first one since the pandemic and it attracted many locals as well as tourists. We are still maintaining hand sanitizers and mask wearing though, but a little more normality is allowed and we enjoy meeting friends again. I was invited to a birthday bash at the local Cafe de la Place and was happy to take part, sampling  the local food and wine! However, we have to show our “pass sanitaire” now each time we go inside a cafe or restaurant.  Difficult for the staff to monitor this all on top of their usual duties. Someone told me that she felt as though she was a police person, checking if you had been vaccinated or not?
The Fete took place in the main square and all through the adjacent streets down to the Halle, the old market hall. Lovely to see, and it was as though it had been years ago with  thriving with shops and bistros. Music was provided by a  colourfully dressed folkloric group who played throughout the day and performed traditional dances in the evening on the Square.
There were demonstrations of old traditions such as building stone walls, wood carving, wrought iron work, harvesting and a wonderful collection of old cars and tractors. Local artists and craftspeople showed their work with pride and spoke of their skills.
However, at one point, while we were at lunch, people jumped up and ran away to avoid a horse that had escaped from its carriage. Frightened, it bolted off onto the main road with its owner in hot pursuit. He fell whilst trying to catch it but finally reached the poor beast. It had been carrying people around the village on a cart plodding quietly round and round the busy streets.  I don’t know what had happened but it was quite an unusual lunch!

Eiffel and the Tower

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One of the exhibits at the Fete was a marvellous model of the Eiffel Tower. Made in metal it was a fine piece of work, made by a local craftsman and had taken two years to do. The original however is another story.
Called charmingly by the French as La Dame de Fer or the Iron Lady, it was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel who helped to design and build it with other engineers of the era.  It was to showcase the entrance to the World’s Fair of 1889 and had work had started on it two years previously.
However it was not an easy task to fulfil and was widely opposed by both architects as well as the populace. Objections were made on artistic grounds that it was an impossible height and a huge debate between architecture and engineering ideals. Eiffel, who had been initially inspired by another high tower, the Latting Observatory in New York, was convinced that his own great pylon shaped building would work.
The drawings were complex, the preparations difficult and the funding would total  nearly 2million old Francs. Foundations were laid at difficult angles  and would eventually consist of 18,000 metal pieces and 2 and a half million rivets!  The interior lifts were complicated to install, rising through the tower up to the third level. At a massive 324 metres in height it dominates all of Paris.
With its fabulous restaurants and shops it is the most visited monument in the world.
However it wasn’t always popular. When the famous French author Guy de Maupassant allegedly said that he dined in the restaurant every day. Why? Because it was the only place in Paris where the Tower wasn’t visible.
Very interesting feature:

The Great Divide

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The debate is there and I have never fully understood it. Un pain au chocolat or a chocolatine?
It depends on the region you are in apparently. Here in the SW France we call it a chocolatine. A beautiful puff pastry filled with one or two pieces of dark chocolate, and sold in bakers just beside the croissants.
The chocolatine is also known by this name in Quebec and Mexico and the pain au chocolat everywhere else it seems.
Served either cold or warm they are delicious. I read in the newspaper today, just by chance, that the longest chocolatine ever made was here in the Perigord and was 52, 18 metres long.
Bon appetit!
Fifi’s Stories from rural France
August 2021
Salignac Foundation.
Fiona Alderman Blogging from Rural France - A Change of Scene
Fiona Alderman Blog: Another 14th of July

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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