Longest Day, Shortest Summer

21st June: for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the day with the longest interval between sunrise and sunset. Following yesterday’s very cloudy sky, the weather chose to celebrate the longest day by beginning summer and actually supplying a sunrise into a blissfully blue, cloud-free sky which lasted uninterrupted until sunset. The French chose to celebrate the longest day with their nationwide 27th fête de la musique (music festival). Stages were being set up everywhere for the evening’s entertainment. It looked like being a hopefully pleasantly noisy night.

Marais traffic jam We were thinking of moving on tomorrow so we needed a run into Niort and Magné for fuel, McWiFi and provisions. We had to screech to a halt on the way through Arçais to watch boatloads of tourists causing a traffic jam marais-style. It looked as if four coach-loads had just discharged and commandeered every barque in the district.

Photographic diversion over, we continued on our joint missions of blogging and shopping. Since the day promised to be sunny and warm (about 28°C/82°F), we treated the portable Weber to a good-looking slice of tuna for the evening to top another salade Niçoise. The poor Weber wasn’t going to know what had hit it since we also chose to fire it up to grill the remaining chicory heads for lunch. About two barbecues in almost four weeks and then, suddenly, two in one day! Was this summer?

The first time we experienced hot, Mediterranean temperatures, we were a bit nervous about clambering on our bikes and generating more heat through muscular effort. However, once tried, we discovered that the cooling effect of moving through the air made it considerably more comfortable than simply sitting still. So, after lunch we hopped on the trusty steeds and popped out for a quick 24 miles round a couple of new cycle routes hoping perhaps to see some more ragondins (coypus). The ride was great but the coypus were absent; perhaps they had all be made into rillettes or pâté. We’ve managed 400 miles in four weeks, as near as makes no difference.

The evening fête de la musique fired up as we were tucking into our tuna-topped Niçoise, so we went to investigate afterwards. Damvix offered two venues so we picked one where we had seen our campsite owner. Here, the locals were sitting at tables being entertained by a solo performer with his guitar. Our French was not up to understanding the songs but there did seem to be a somewhat bizarre rendition of "roll out the barrel" in French. Odd! A couple of glasses of vin rouge helped us both converse with and dance with some of the locals. Our campsite owner was even gracious enough to buy us another glass of red wine each. What a pleasant evening.

There is another form of entertainment that is quite prevalent in France called son et lumière (sound and light). Having retired with clear skies, our brief summer came to a crashing end during the night when mother nature put on a spectacular son et lumière of her own in the form of a storm to the accompaniment of thunder and lightening.

Never mind, summer was nice while it lasted.

Posted in France, 2008

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