Fancying France…the Fringe!

This intriguing  odd title for a blog post, came to me on the train home from Glasgow. It has nothing to do with my actual fringe ( known as ‘bangs’ I believe, in the US! ) which is in dire need of a trim, but everything to do with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

I don’t have a bucket list. Do you? But there are many places I haven’t visited and activities I haven’t tried…yet. Going to the EFF was one of these. As a Brit, I am ashamed to say that I have never been to Scotland until this week. Mr FF was playing hockey in a ten day tournament and it was a great opportunity to watch him play. What I  really mean is that it was a great opportunity to visit Glasgow and Edinburgh, especially as the Fringe Festival was taking place!

We stayed in a modern and well equipped Airbnb flat in a part of Glasgow called Glasgow Green.

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This was a very convenient area, well located for the city centre and the hockey venue!

As we had limited time, we decided to take advantage of an open-top, hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

http://www.citysightseeingglasgow.co.uk/

I think this is a brilliant way to get to know a new city. We hopped off to visit Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. IMG_0144

The Necropolis may seem a strange place to visit but this vast multi-faith cemetery, modelled on the Père-Lachaise graveyard in Paris, has amazing  views over the city of Glasgow, as well as being very interesting in its own right.

The photo below is from the website of the Friends of the Necropolis. Here is the link to their website in case you would like to find out more.

http://www.glasgownecropolis.org/

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And then there was Edinburgh!  But where to start? It was the seventieth anniversary of the Fringe. The atmosphere was amazing. So many people; different ages, different races, different styles but all set on enjoying themselves and everything that the festival had to offer.

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Our strategy (?!) was to try to experience events across the art forms. We started with political stand up, went on to a female a Capella group and then to Shakespeare,  enjoying an abridged version of a Comedy of Errors. This was followed by a brilliant comedy drama set in an evening class. Our final choice was an experimental dance performance; probably my least favourite show. On top of this were all the street performers – fire eaters, musicians, dancers et al.

It was totally brilliant to have experienced the Fringe Festival, even if was for such a brief visit. I really hope we’ll go again but next time we’ll plan a bit more with what we want to see and aim to book some events in advance.

Do you have a bucket or an unbucket list? Have you been to Glasgow or the Edinburgh Fringe? I’d love to know!

 

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Jean Dujardin … late to the party?,

Me, that is, not him, obviously.

At this point, I must ‘fess up that I have never seen ‘The Artist’ (for which he won an Oscar) nor ‘The Monuments Men’.

 

 

But I have seen ‘Un homme à la hauteur’

homme a l'hauteur

Or ‘Up for Love’ as it is called in English. Some of the English reviews of this film were less than enthusiastic, especially about the special effects used to ‘shorten’ Jean Dujardin. The implication being that it would have been better to cast an actor who is genuinely small. Nevertheless , I thought it was a really charming film. Perhaps I’m just a real romantic at heart or easily pleased! But Jean’s smile… well, what can I say? And those eyes… I think you get the idea!

I really enjoyed the soundtrack, too. It introduced me to the music of Emilie Gassin which I didn’t know before.

Have you seen this film and are you a Jean Dujardin fan? It would be really interesting to know!

I am linking this post to #All About France. A great place to discover lots of interesting blogs with a focus on France.

The Merry month of May…

Especially if you’re in France!  May starts with a Bank Holiday and there are several more to follow. On May 1st  there is the celebration of  not only Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) but also La Fête du Muguet. This translates as Lily of the Valley Day.

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I have written about these celebrations before!

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/1st-may-la-fete-du-travail-and-la-fete-du-muguet/

The next Bank Holiday takes place on the 8th May and is to commemorate the end of World War II in France. It is known as ‘La Fête de la Victoire’  and is celebrated with parades and religious ceremonies.  Traditionally, the French president lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lights the flame at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I was quite surprised that our local supermarket had a ‘special’ opening on that day. 

the-tomb-of-the-unknown

The final Bank Holiday  is on the 25th May; Ascension Day which falls on a Thursday. As a result, many people take a day of their annual leave on the Friday to be able to take a four-day weekend. This is known as a ‘pont’ or a bridge. It is quite usual to hear the phrase ‘faire le pont’.

And, then there’s Eurovision! No Bank Holiday for this, of course, but all part of the May madness. I did watch it when we were here last year as I wanted to see what it would be like without Graham Norton. This year I managed to avoid miss the contest somehow.  I must admit that I do like the French entry which came twelfth. It’s by a singer called Alma and the title is ‘Requiem’ . This video of the song is worth watching for the background shots of Paris:

Are you a Eurovision fan?  I’d love to know…

The Mayor, a clown and a mug…

Not necessarily three items that one might expect to see in the same phrase! All will become clear…

I have written before about the organisation AVF which welcomes new arrivals to France; all nationalities and all ages.

Last month we were invited to attend the AVF welcome meeting in Castelnaudary. We didn’t know what to expect but it turned out to be a really fun gathering. A welcome speech was given by the mayor (not too long…!) and was followed by a delightful musical interlude. This was provided by a local orchestra made up – mainly – by local school children. I couldn’t help noticing that all the pieces they played were English, including the Beatles and Adele!

After the music, all newcomers were presented with a gift bag containing a Castelnaudary mug, among other items. A very nice touch, I thought.

And the clown? Well, there were people of all ages, including children, and the clown provided entertainment while everyone was waiting for the main event to start. His speciality was making models out of balloons and he made some of the older guests some amazing hats. If only I’d taken some pictures…

The evening finished with a most welcome apéritif and general mingling! Those of us who were new to Castelnaudary had a badge to wear, so that other long term residents would make a point of welcoming us which they certainly did.

I was so pleased to see several people that we knew already, including some of my English conversation students. It really made us feel part of the community, especially now that we are on ‘kissing terms’ when we meet up with them!

In fact, I wrote a previous blog post about kissing -or not – when greeting people in France:

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/faire-la-bise-to-kiss-or-not-to-kiss/

What do you think?

Le quatorze juillet!

 

Fireworks in Castenaudary to celebrate the quatorze juillet…We won’t be watching them today but we may be next year as we are in the process of buying a house there.Watch this space!

But what are the 14th July celebrations all about? What is Bastille day?

Here is a tongue-in-cheek video clip that might clarify the reasons for the celebrations!

And now for something completely different…Christine and the Queens

In terms of what is happening in the UK and the world, in general, this week has not got better.

However, if there is one thing guaranteed to cheer me up, it is music. I have a very eclectic taste and my sons keep me up to date with some of the more recent trends.

I found myself watching Glastonbury highlights (still on my bucket list to actually get to the festival) when I came across  ‘Christine and the Queens’. This is the stage name for the French singer songwriter: Héloïse Letissier. Her work combines music, performance, art videos, drawings and photography and I find her performance mesmerising.

Unfortunately, I missed her recent appearance on the Graham Norton show but here’s the link:

I think she’s amazing and so are the dancing and choreography!

What do you think?

Reflections on Eurovision 2016!

I’m not a massive Eurovision fan; some years I have watched the contest and others I haven’t. I’ve even held the occasional Eurovision party! However, I thought it would be interesting to watch Eurovision while in France to get a different perspective on the contest.

Marianne James and Stéphane Bern were the French commentators. I’m sure they’re very good in their own way but I did miss the commentary of Graham Norton…

France’s 2016 Eurovision entry was sung by Amir, a 31-year-old Franco-Israeli singer. He achieved a respectable sixth place in the musical extravaganza. His song ‘J’ai cherché’ contained lyrics in both French and English, and I rather enjoyed it.

I won’t comment on the disappointing results of the U.K. However, I did feel sorry for the chirpy duo: Joe and Jake or Jim and Jon or …. I don’t think that their song or performance merited the 24 out of 26 position. But I do have to ask: when did Australia become part of Europe? I must confess to being rather a light weight when it came to watching the whole of the contest. I must have fallen asleep at some point because Australia were in the lead when I dropped off but when I eventually woke up, Ukraine had been crowned winners!!

Just in case you didn’t see the French entry, here’s your chance:

Are you a Eurovision fan? What did you think of the French entry? I’d love to know your thoughts.