Whilst President Nicolas Sarkozy was yesterday laying a wreath at Verdun, we decided to attend a much smaller ceremony in the heart of our own village. In France, national days are always held on the actual date, rather than on the nearest Sunday or Monday, as in the UK. It's always difficult to know what time to attend, as the Maire has to perform the same ceremony at each village in his commune. So, at around 10.30 a.m., and wearing black coats, we walked up our lane, avoiding the enticing aromas emanating from the boulangerie. Although every other shop was closed all day, it being a national holiday, the boulangerie was open as usual. And so the temptation continues.......
Crossing over the main road - not a car in sight - we ambled down past the crumbling facade of our ancient castle, and approached the place which houses the bronze figure of the unknown soldier. It is a tiny, garlanded, site with the tricolour flag at half-mast. Fortunately there is a bench as nothing moves fast in France. At around 11.30 a.m. the Maire arrived direct from the ceremony at nearby Verfeil. In previous years the service has been heralded by an accordionist playing la marseillaise. But it seems that this unfortunate gentleman had now died, so the music had to be played on a portable music player instead. Domage. As we looked at the faces around us, we were pleased to see a good proportion of English. I think it's so important to try to integrate, and what better way than to attend a ceremony commemorating when both countries fought side-by-side.
After the ceremony, Him indoors (especially) was pleased to discover that the Maire had sponsored drinks at the village's only bar, le cafe sport. But for me? I'm not much of a drinker. One glass of wine is the most I can take at any one time - unless it's champagne of course! But it seemed that Pernod was the proffered drink. Uggh! Still, chacun a son gout. (Everyone to his own taste).
At least we've done our duty this year.