Monday, 22 May 2017

French Holiday Part 15 - The Fête d’Olivier and the journey home

The Fête d’Olivier

So what is it that makes this Festival so good we need to come again?  The atmosphere of the entire day in 2011 was just brilliant – very many people enjoying a great day out in the sun.  

So why did we get it wrong and miss the festival this year?  It was our understanding that it was always the Sunday after Bastille Day, so when we booked in March 2015 we guessed it would happen on the 17th July, however when we inquired at the Olive place they said it had been moved this year as it clashes with another local festival and they were going to see if it made a difference to the numbers attending! The decision is taken in January each year, so if we do decide to come again we will have to ensure that we are in Bize for the 3rd and 4th weekends in July and hope for the best.


So what did we miss? Well a fantastic event as you will see from photos taken in 2011.

This is Chris in the early morning just outside our gite – a street that was usually deserted.

We reckon there were around 100 stalls selling all sorts of local produce, arts and crafts. Every corner you went round there were something new to look at.  It really was a visual feast.



There were pony rides for children both large

and small

There was even one youngster for sale!

Even though he/she was very young she knew what to do and faithfully followed the adults  - we suspect one of them was his/her Mum.

 But what has all this to do with the Festival dedicated to The Olive you may ask?  Well it is a wonderful side show to the main event which is the making of alioli.

A large table had been set up on the promenade and men and women got busy

With pestle and mortars, flour, eggs, garlic and olive oil to make alioli.  It was a very serious business! 

In attendance was a panel of 9 judges

from two different olive Co-opertaives as depicted by the caps.  The man at the top was the only one was any where near being young, so we wondered if he was being ‘trained up’ to replace others as they were no longer available!

When the contestants had all finished the bowls were lined up and one by one they were tested by the judges 

the accompaniments were bread, meats and olives

 All washed down with the odd glass or so of vino.

Finally there was a presentation of many prizes.  Some got trophies and others beautiful pestle and mortars made from olive wood.   
Despite it all being done in rapid fire French we understood enough to be able to really enjoy the event.

Once that was all over the promenade was given over to the more serious affair of feeding the 5000 and very nearly with loaves and fishes!  This was my left overs!

There were other options

The tables were ready the night before and they were soon full of happy diners. The food was supplied by the Pompier and ‘liquid’ by the Rugby Club

This was the view of the busy promenade looking down from the bridge

I have to say that we were glad that we did not have to drive in and out of Bize that day – there were long jams

And the car parks were full

We spent the afternoon mooching round all the stalls we missed in the morning wending our way through the crowds.  I seem to remember we escaped back to our gite for a little bit of R&R before venturing out in the evening

There was going to be a barbecue, but as the French just eat too late for us we went to 

the Café du Midi for dinner where we were lucky enough to get a table outside.  Mind you I popped inside to the toilet at one point and came back to find my chair had been purloined.

He soon left me and went and found another friend!

Preparations had been made for some serious musical entertainment 

Which started about 17:30 and went on
 Until late!

The Pompier are in charge of the fireworks which take place on the passerelle which was closed earlier in the day for the necessary preparations to take place

For the spectacular end to wonderful day


So that is what we missed, but just maybe we were saved a disappointment as sometimes things are not always quite the same the second time around.

 As much as we would love to stay in this house again we don’t think we will be able to as the people (Jules and Jess) we thought owned it sold it in March 2016 and they were just managing it for the new owners.  They are honouring all bookings for this year, but will probably stop renting it out in the future.  Jules and Jess do manage other properties, so I am sure we will find something that suits us.   

Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th July 2016
The Journey home

That really was the end and we were up bright and early on Saturday 23rd July and we headed off early for the long drive to an hotel just south of Paris.  The highlight of the day – crossing the Milau Viaduct.  We have done it before heading south which is even more spectacular, but it is still pretty good heading north. 



The weather was much better than on our way south five weeks ago and we made good progress.  Mind we were glad we were going north as there was a lot more heading south as school holidays in the UK had started.

On Sunday we headed to Sangatte to catch the Eurotunnel train home – we were booked for 6pm to give us loads of time for hold ups.  We actually arrived at lunch time, were given the letter V and were on a train in less than an hour, so we were back home in Bromsgrove in time for dinner.

The trip was amazing.  It has been a joy re-living it all and marvelling at the almost constantly clear blue sky!

This lovely sight welcomed us home – an hydrangea given to us by friends, Lynn & Mike, when we moved into this house
and the not so welcome pile of mail – not too big after 5 weeks away as our daughter sifts through it regularly and bins all the junk mail.

On the Monday we headed north to collect Monty who had had a wonderful time with our good friends, Jane and Chris and his best buddy, black Labrador Kiera.  There were many walks on The Downs where Monty learnt that it is okay to get your feet wet and was known on occasion to go in up to his chest - he is not a fan of water!

Then there are the cats - Guinness (he is the boss of the entire household!) and Henry.  It took Henry a while to accept that Monty was not a threat, but just a very inquisitive young chap, but Guinness is much braver, but there is still a certain distance that is considered safe - this may just be a little too close!  There were many 'nose swipes', but always with claws in - Guinness is a good teacher of 'cat manners'!

An overnight stay with them was the perfect end to a blissful holiday and it was only to be another week before we saw Jane and Chris again at their daughter's wedding.

If you have got this far - well done! Just St Richard's Festival (29 Apr to 1 May 2017) to go and I will be up to date.  The next event is when we move Tentatrice up to the top of Tardebigge (20-21 May) for bottom blacking.  This will have happened by the time this is published, so another blog to come soon! Chris' foot is getting better each day (he did lose the boot on the 27th April) and we hope to go off on the first part of our summer cruise in early June.  At present he cannot get any shoes on so is wearing his sandals.  He has discovered his wellies do fit, so they will be going on the boat for really non-sandal weather days!


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