So far we’ve weaved our way from Calais to chalons-en-champagne, from there to Colmar, to Mulhouse, to Dijon and now to Annonay. About half way through our trip and we don’t know where to head next! There is no shortage of possibilities, our only limiting factor is time. Just under a week is left until we have to be hack in Calais so we need to plan a route north accordingly. Any suggestions welcome.
Though wine has been the main focus of this tour, the highlight of the trip (for me, Daniel) has been Fete de la Musique in Dijon.
Every year in France this public holiday is held. It is a celebration of music and a coming together of artistic styles and, more importantly, people.
We arrived in Dijon in late after noon and, tired from a long drive and a slightly disappointing stop in Mulhouse we set about erecting our camp (which we are now quite practiced at and did in record time) it was then time to explore the city.
We hopped on our bikes and took a leafy canal side path from the campsite to the city centre to see what Dijon had to offer. Dijon, by the way, had not occurred to us as a stopping point but friends recommended it as a beautiful city with wonderful wine and they were entirely correct on both points.
It’s fair to say that we’d completely forgotten that the music festival, Fete de la Musique, was on at this time of year (even though we have been to it before) however, arriving in the city centre we were met by bustling crowds, stages and sound checks and realised how lucky we’d been to happen to arrive in such a beautiful place on such an amazing day.
Each year, every town and city across the country builds stages and sets up PA systems for bands and artistic ranging from big names to complete amateurs (and also, inexplicably to me, “accordion orchestras” which are two words that should never be found in close proximity).
Seeing, with excitement, what was happening, we bought some wine from one of the small shops still open, cycled back to the campsite to deposit our bikes and walked double time back to the city centre with wine decanted into a plastic bottle for ease and thriftiness during the night.
We proceeded to wander around the city to watch dub reggae, folk, funk, punk and…even accordions.
It took some persuading but I managed to get Rach to dance with me in the street to a particularly banging accordion tune.
Each stage hosted a different style if music and crowds ebbed and swelled as people meandered between stages and down the twisting cobbled streets of Dijon.
The city was alive and everyone was out from children to pensioners the sense of community and excitement was as thick as fog.
If you are planning a trip to France, make sure that your plan involves one of these amazing festivals. There is nothing quite like it that I’ve experienced and it is truly fantastic.
Ignorant as I am I can’t name a single of the artists that we saw. However, my highlight of the evening was watching two teenagers, obviously not part of the scheduled events, trying their luck with a guitar, bongo and a cup for tips next to a small Italian restaurant in the antique district. Passers by watched briefly and continued but an older woman proved to be their biggest fan as they commenced a heartfelt rendition of Johnny Hallyday’s Allumer Le Feu and she danced alone but enthusiastically in front of the two boys.