Fateful fête at Teysseroles? Not this time

 

200 fête-goers sit down for lunch

200 fête-goers sit down for lunch

At 7.00 am yesterday, I peered outside and saw with horror a black cloud advancing with a rainbow silhouetted against it. With even greater horror, I heard growls of thunder and rain pattering on the leaves. Why was this cause for such dismay? Because yesterday marked our annual fundraising fête at la chapelle de Teysseroles and, after last year’s rotten weather, we had everything crossed for sunshine.

It was too late to put up the marquee we had borrowed last year. We had already set out the tables under the trees. With a sinking heart, I went indoors to break the news to the SF. Then, miraculously, the threatening clouds rolled back, the rain dried up and the thunder ceased. A rapid consultation of France Météo’s website showed fine weather all day up till the evening. It would be hot, too.

Table set and decorated

Table set and decorated

The site was already a hive of activity when we arrived. But, thanks to more effective forward planning this year, we accomplished everything before the worshippers turned up for the open-air mass. This was programmed at 10h30. They started to arrive at 09h35. Knowing that this is always the case, Annette, Jean-Claude and I were ready for them at the table d’accueil.

Open-air altar

Open-air altar

By virtue of speaking both French and English, I am now an annual fixture at that table. There’s always a bit of a scrum as people turn up at the same time. And there are invariably complications, like people wanting to pay for other people or not booking in advance. But you learn to handle it a bit better each year. We recruited a lot of new members for the association, too.

Once the mass was over, it was apéritif time and then the 200+ punters settled down to a good blow-out in our alfresco dining room. An innovation this year was to allocate servers to tables instead of it being a free-for-all. This was much more efficient and meant that each table got consistent attention.

Your server today is...

Your server today is…

They feasted on melon, three different salads, grilled lamb and sausages, flageolet beans, green salad, cheese, fruit, cakes and tarts and coffee. All washed down with red, white or rosé and topped off with a digestif of vieille prune. As ever, we noticed that the French revellers drink far less than their British counterparts.

Grills blazing away merrily

Grills blazing away merrily

Another novelty was that we had given the man who did last year’s grillades the sack and did it ourselves. So that worked more efficiently, too, and we saved money. With four grills churning out meat, everyone was served in record time. Hats off to the stalwart barbecue-ers, who must have been done to a crisp themselves in the heat. And we even managed to cater for the handful of vegetarians this time – you don’t get that at most French fêtes.

Dishing out the sausages

Dishing out the sausages

Time to get the cakes ready

Time to get the cakes ready

One of the nicest things about our fête is that people entertain themselves. They take turns at the microphone to serenade the diners – with varying degrees of competence, but that doesn’t matter. The ambience is friendly and relaxed. Alan’s “tue le rat” game is always popular: the rats (furry toys) are posted down a drainpipe fixed at 45° to a step-ladder and people have to try to hit them with a baton as they emerge at the bottom. It’s fiendishly difficult.

Bernard holds the mike and leads the singing

Bernard holds the mike and leads the singing

Derek just happened to have his banjos with him

Derek just happened to have his banjos with him

Also on offer were a tombola and a plant stall. I was in charge of the latter, which, thanks to friends’ generosity, was a great success. We made €125 from that alone. Once we have reconciled the accounts, we hope the whole day will have raised several thousand towards our restoration fund.

Me helping a punter at the plant stall - face invisible, happily

Me helping a punter at the plant stall – face invisible, happily

A fête accomplie indeed.

For other posts about the work we are doing to restore the chapel, please click on ‘Teysseroles chapel’ under Topics in the sidebar. You might also like:

Fête Accomplie: Journée Festive at Teysseroles
How a French Fête is Run
Teysseroles Team Takes Time Out

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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6 Responses to Fateful fête at Teysseroles? Not this time

  1. amelie88 says:

    I always love hearing about your annual fete. Looks like so much fun and the event is for a good cause. Also glad the weather gods were good to you this year.

    Like

  2. susancarey says:

    Looks like a lovely day! So glad the weather stayed fine for you. The Gods were smiling 😉

    Like

  3. lizgyooll says:

    Looks as though it was wonderful! So sorry we couldn’t do it (as we had planned to do) but the “Ballons et Bastides” won Robert over for a flight towards you, but then the wind fizzled out and he landed very near the start at Najac.

    Like

    • nessafrance says:

      We were amazingly lucky with the weather. Saw your comment on LinkedIn about your balloon flight. I saw something about these montgolfière flights at HyperU but, being so taken up with our fete, we couldn’t take advantage. Never been up in a balloon but would love to.

      Like

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