Sunday, September 5, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Have you ever grown zucchini - or courgettes as they are known in this part of the world?
Sunday, August 8, 2010
" Cabbe-Roquebrune is a medieval cluster of houses presided over by the ruined castles of the Lascaris," says a letter from Nice in the London Times, "and it gives a spot of human interest in that lovely prospect, swimming in light and colors, that the indolent look up to from the terraces of Monte Carlo or the promenades of Mentone, and the enterprising attain to.
It has every appearance of having slipped part way down the mountain, and the inhabitants say that it was marvellously stopped in its course by a sprig of genet, a rough mountain shrub which was plentiful enough in the pastures until they all came to be filled up with olive and lemon plantations. "
So wrote the unnamed author of an article published in The New York Times on August 30th 1891, (which goes some way to explain the “fete of the genet” described in a previous blog!). Cabbe-Roquebrune is now known as Roquebrune Cap Martin, and the area described refers to the “vieux village”.
The history of this celebration goes back to 1467, when the village people prayed to be spared from the ravages of the plague, which was threatening nearby towns – including Nice and Monaco.
They promised to commemorate their grace and give thanks every year should they be saved, and so this remarkable event, likened by some to an amateurish Ober-Ammergau, was born. The village was spared, and it has celebrated every year since, through wars and revolutions, and through the many changes in political administration that form its history. Originally an event of several days’ festivities, by 1891 it was confined to a one day fete, with stalls and activities for participants. Particularly interesting was the note that authorities “had withdrawn … their prohibition against gambling” and that roulette tables promised to benefit the "strolling dealers" more than the villagers! Perhaps not a lot has changed!
Today the procession is the centre of the festivities, playing out a series of tableaux, reflecting the Stations of the Cross. The route still travels through the village from the Church of Saint Marguerite to the Chapel La Pausa (including part of the ancient Roman road, the Aurelian Way).
The nature of the presentation demands the duplication of many of the various roles, including at least 4 Christs! These are all played by local people, with significant roles being passed from father to son. Quite a demanding ask for a small village!
After the procession, participants and witnesses alike conclude the day with ‘soupe et pistou’ and a bal (dance) in the village car park. This year a severe thunderstorm threatened the festivities but despite an enormous deluge at midday, by mid afternoon it was clear and sunny, the procession proceeded without incident and the festivities continued in full swing until the early hours of the morning.
What a wonderful historical tradition for this village, and a fabulous event for the many visitors to the area at this time of year. We took the photos shown here in previous years – this year we focused on himself's birthday which just happens to fall on the same day!
For anyone interested in some fabulous photos of this event, take a look at Menton Daily Photo Blog September 6, 2009 and following – http://menton-daily-photo.blogspot.com/2009/09/procession-votive-trailer-to-main-event.html. They are stunning!