La Félibrée (or in Langue D’Oc, Felibrejada) is a festival in the Perigord to celebrate Occitan culture, art, language, and traditions. It recalls the ‘Court of Love’ and times of the troubadours when they sang of courtesy, chivalry, wisdom and the love of women. It also reminds us of the importance of courtesy, beauty and independence in our modern lives and society. Every year, on the first Sunday in July, it takes place in a different town of the Perigord. This year it was Belves’ turn as host, and they were honouring Belvès women from 1880 to 1930. So we three women, were off to lend support!
One of the ladies from my French conversation group back home in Sydney, Sheila Taylor, owns a house with her husband and another friend, Nelly, in this gorgeous village. It is perched and has been given the ‘Beaux Ville’ stamp as well, so we were impressed. Sheila, it turns out, was going to be in town this particular weekend, celebrating with some friends. We made contact and to make a long story short, we joined the multitudes of spectators watching the proceedings in the searing heat. There were a few stalls (I was fascinated by the honey stall and its slab of bees you could view through the glass) and also performances of traditional dances of yesteryear – all under lots of garlands of colourful paper flowers – very festive. The town really looked pretty – and it was packed.
Our first stop though was at the War Memorial where the local Maire gave a speech, flanked by a few other officials, representatives of the pompiers (firemen) and other people in uniform including some older veterans. Most of the locals seemed to be dressed in traditional costume… with the occasional suspicious-looking moustache which was regularly adjusted. (Must’ve been driving him crazy in the heat).
However the focus ultimately was on the imminent arrival in classic cars of the present and past Queens of the Félibrées – all in period costume. There was a re-enactment of a wedding from that ‘time’, but due to the crowds packing the narrow streets, and the heat, Sharon, Heather and I left the multitudes to go and get out of the sun, have a drink and recover our stamina. So we toasted the ‘bride and groom’ in absentia and wished them well anyway.
That evening, we all went to Sheila and Nelly’s favourite restaurant ‘Le Home’ It was fabulous. Then it was off back to Chez Sheila’s for some dancing and leaping around before the Baroness Tour bugle sounded for the three of us to get in our little bus and head home. ‘Twas a great day and an equally great evening.
Tina, Heather and Sharon