Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Marble Festival


I have been looking forward to Caune’s marble fete after my several walks to the quarry to see where this splendid red marble comes from. Walking around the village, it is impossible to just walk by the sometimes huge…. always interesting, but not always, to my mind, beautiful…..chunks of sculpted marble. Some of the pieces are fabulous, some are a little odd, but as I say, always interesting.


A huge marble totem sculpture greets you as you enter the town,  it cannot be ignored.



The Maire, now the ex -Maire, is one of our neighbours.

Caunes  quarries still produce 3 shades of the red marble….rose pale, rose brun and rouge sang, which is the darkest ( blood red). The quarries were an important part of the local economy up to and including the 19th century. Now, although the marble is still quarried here, it is taken to Italy for polishing and finishing. So, the marble industry here provides some employment, but probably more through tourism, people coming to see the quarry, an old factory workshop operating as a little museum, and buying small trinket pieces.


Our nearest neighbour has had their house name emblazoned in marble at the entrance to their home. 
Anyway….the festival ran over 2 days, the weather was perfect, and I’m afraid, I don’t know very much more about marble than I did at the start of the weekend. I have, however, learned a great deal about being laid back about timings of when things are supposed to happen

I foolishly wandered down to the village at about 10am on the first day expecting to see some of the 60 advertised sculptors working away. I saw one man setting up a few small pieces on  a table outside the abbey, and a few commune white vans driving around putting up road signs….but little else.


My second walk into the village, 4 hours later, was more successful, and there were quite a few stands displaying sculptures…..and quite a few other things…..clearly not made of marble.





The fete association organised a splendid repas and concert last night. As I was on my own I felt a little strange about turning up to the meal, so planned to slip in quietly afterwards, as the concert started. It didn’t quite work out like that.

The meal started at 8, the concert at 9. So at 8.45 I wandered into the caveau where it was to be held. My neighbour Miriam spotted me and insisted I sat with some Americans who had a space on their table…..the meal had not even started…… At 9 the food started to arrive, and by 11 it was just about over. It was a wonderful meal, wine flowed, the Americans (and one Australian) were delightful….much travelled, and had lived in France for decades.  I was shocked that one of the Americans ( who lives in Paris) had bought a very small decorated leather leg bag…….not hand bag, leg bag. ( It reminded me of something we would give to patients to carry their catheter bags ), and she had paid 70 euros for it. I have to say, others on the table were pretty shocked too.

By the time the concert started, many people were tired ( or tired and emotional, after the excellent local wines, not sure which) . People started to leave, and the concert part of the evening fell a little flat. The flamenco duet did not manage to capture the audiences’ attention, which was a shame, as I suspect if they had been performing 2 hours earlier people would have loved them.


                  marble by night......taken on my walk back home from the meal and concert

Day 2 of the festival seemed to be better organised. There were far more stalls set up around the town, and more marble was apparent.


 I however, failed to see any evidence of the great sculpting competition I had been told about, and somehow managed to miss the musical entertainment set for the afternoon. No times had been published for this, so I couldn’t use my new found knowledge and arrive 2 hours after the posted time.  Basically, I heard some interesting drumming emanating from the village, as I cooled off in the pool at about 2.30pm, so I rushed to change and went down to the village again…just as they finished. So I wandered a little more, chatted to the lady from the boulangerie who was selling artisan bread on a stall near the ice cream seller….bought an excellent coffee glace, and wandered back up the hill to the welcoming swimming pool again…..just in time to hear the drums start again.
My favourite is still the lion, much loved by 4 year old grandsons.


No matter how much we told Dexter that this one was a heart.....he refused to believe it. The Australian I met last night informed me that locals call it  "The arse of the world"

My first Caunes festival……verdict…….brilliant, if quirky, looking forward to many more.

I think...although I may have got it wrong,  this is the competition winner....presumably completed long before this weekend, but to join other previous winners on the road up to the quarry. So far I have heard it called a hobbit's ear, and Mr Spock.......better then arse of the world I suppose.

19 comments:

  1. What an amazing event and fantastic photos that convey the atmosphere brilliantly!

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    1. Thanks....its a longer than I usually like to post...but it was a whole weekend event...it was fun.

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  2. A fantastic post, Janice. all so very French, even to the inevitable late running of the meal and entertainment. It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I do wish you could spare me a bit of your sunshine. :-)

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    1. The sun is gorgeous, but I've already slipped into a pattern of mainly walking down to the village first thing in the morning, or later, when it cools down a bit. However, it was pretty scary hearing about the floods in Hebden Bridge while I was basking in the sun. At one point there was chest deep water, about 500 yards from our house. Amazingly, we were not flooded out. Hope you get some sunshine soon. J.

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    2. I thought about your British home when I read the news and am glad everything is OK for you.My native town of Darwen had some flooding too and I've never heard of that happening before!

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  3. Sounds almost as organised and unpredictable as southern Spain! Great show though and typical that the food and drink takes precedence over everything else. Love Dexter's pose! I think I agree that the marble is interesting - not necessarily beautiful.
    Great post though and I think it's cool to be able to hear the drumming from your pool. Axxx

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    1. The food and drink was very very good. I've really needed the pool this weekend...it has been great to just go for a dip after all that walking backwards and forwards to the village. Its only 7 minutes down to the centre of the village, but 10/15 on the way back....steep hill + heat = incredibly good exercise.J xxx

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  4. I thought of you when I heard of the floods in Hebden Bridge. Hope all is well back home.

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    1. Thanks BtoB, amazingly things are nearly back to normal, according to my husband. The cinema, first 4 rows of seats were underwater.....volunteers cleared it, they were closed for the Sat. matinee, but open again for Saturday night. It was strange hearing about it from France, and not being able to do anything. J.

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  5. French timing was something that made going out for an evening event too problematical for Mr. Fly...not at all well, he had a limited time span in which he was able to be alert enough to enjoy anything and the usual hour or more delay was too much for him to bear.

    Local events were all right...we were just up the road, not an hour's drive away and he could take part in the fun.

    A local town used to have a wood sculpture competition every year - the totem pole was hideously reminiscent...

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    1. I haven't been here long enough to know whether I am allowed to describe something as hideous.....but in private I have certainly uttered such comments. I did wonder whether the mayor, becoming the ex mayor had anything to do with local residents' view of the totem.

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  6. Fascinating post Janice and some excellent photos. It's great that you could take part and enjoy this festival on your own, and also get to meet some new people.

    I love the arse of the world photo...brilliant!

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    1. Yes, at first I was a little concerned about Dexter's inventiveness, refusing to see that this sculpture was actually a heart.....but seeing the photo, and now discovering that the locals think the same....it seems ok. Hope you're feeling better, and looking forward to your daughter's visit. Jx

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  7. Hi, I'm another local blogger who was at the Fete on Saturday. Once you've lived here a while, you know to turn up for events at least half an hour late :) For village meals, I make it later because there's always an hour drinking aperos before you get to eat anything. We have a friend who is so notoriously late even by local standards that we once turned up for a dinner invitation chez lui 45 minutes late, and he was still in the shower :)

    I put some photos on Flickr and blipped one too.

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    1. Nice to hear from you Veronica. Any other local tips would be much appreciated. I think I'll easily slip into the being laid back about timings though.

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  8. I enjoyed this post Janice.

    It seems that France runs on it's own time...

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    1. It does indeed, mind you it is so hot here at the moment, it is taking me hours to do anything. I have also found it very enjoyable....doing nothing, and spending hours over it.J.

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  9. marrante cette photo des fessiers

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    1. C'est mon petit-fils mechant !

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