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Friday, 10 July 2015

RETURN TO FRANCE 2015 3

 
Although we were disappointed to have left St Jean de Luz earlier than we had hoped, we were delighted to find ourselves at Chateau Maubats at just the right time to be able to go to the evening farmer's féte, celebrating all the local produce of the region, animal as well as vegetable.
This is a group of  dancers from the marais (marsh) area near the coast and someone explained to me that the shepherds use stilts to walk with their sheep, to save getting their feet wet and also to be able to see them all from a distance.  The girls were beautifully dressed in their colourful costumes and danced in a circle surrounded by the men and boys, also dancing on their stilts.

 
Monsegur, where the féte took place is a small bastide town in the middle of beautiful rolling countryside.  A bastide is a town with a central square surrounded with arcades giving shelter from the hot sun as well as rain.  The market building is usually in the middle instead of the church as in predominantly Catholic towns.
The fete took place in the car park just outside the town and was filled with stalls of cattle, sheep and poultry.  There was a parade of these magnificent 'chevaux de trait' working horses, mostly well behaved except the bottom left one, the Breton horse, who got rather frisky when he saw the crowds admiring him.

 
There were several different types of cattle but I was really taken with these 'Blondes d'Aquitaine.  The way they were standing looked as if they were having a quiet gossip in the middle of all the activity!

 
The sheep were a breed especially grown for their meat and this group were waiting patiently to take part in the sheep shearing display.  They looked quite different after their hot coats were taken off!

 
The main part of the féte was the opportunity to taste all the different foods produced by the farmers showing their animals.  There were 20 different stalls selling everything from chicken, steak, lamb, bread, cheese and duck breast which we had for our dinner.  These snails which had been raised a few kilometres down the road were cooked in 2 different sauces, parsley and garlic and tomato and herbs, so we had some of each and I can honestly say they were the tastiest, tenderest snails I've ever eaten. 
We washed it all down with a delicious bottle of Robert's Bordeaux superior red wine as of course Guylaine was manning their stall being one of the local wine producers.
We had a very pleasant evening, chatting to the locals next to us as we ate on the long tables and were sad to leave as it started to get dark and it was time to go home to our camper car with our new friends, Georges and Janine who were also staying on the vineyard.  The next morning we awoke to more rain so we decided to set off for the last leg of our journey home.