Whilst we were on holiday in Provence the village next door to the one we stay in had its fête votive (saint's day celebration, of St Barthélemy). It covers a long weekend and involves the whole village in activities, sacred and profane (mostly the latter), traditional and modern.
There was a lot to enjoy. Abundant frites and saucissettes, traditional 'pub' games to play in the square (many of which were new to me), a ceremonial feast focused on soupe au pistou, a band every night, a small funfair, and a number of goats being used to dispense frothing glasses of milk to willing children, to mention only a few.
I particularly enjoyed the local gooseherd manoeuvring his charges through the crowd outside the village's main café and around the stage where that evening's rock concert was to be held (he was on his way to a temporary petting farm). One of his charges strayed into the cables and stacks of the sound system and had to be fished out. It was a grand sight to see him - in floppy, pointed, brown felt hat and brown waterproof cape - reaching down into the electronic spaghetti to disentangle a fluffy white goose. He wasn't annoyed at all, token of which was the loving kiss he gave it once it was safe in his arms.
Here he is sharing a joke with a couple of friends:
On the saint's day itself the boys were terrified by all the gunfire, which accompanied the saint's statue on its annual procession from the church around the village. The neckerchiefed local hunters were firing into the sky like Mexican bandits.
But the weekend culminated in a thrilling race. The braver, more athletic men of the village - some of whom by this stage were looking a little haggard having begun celebrating their saint three days earlier - donned helmets, elbow pads and shin pads. The race was down a steep chicane-like strip of winding road that starts just below the church and ends by the bakery on the way out of the village. It was clear that some aggressive, competitive juices were flowing - as so often a bit of fun would be a chance to blow off some steam and even settle a few scores.
And the mounts? You'll never see a more impressive array of toy tractors.