Sunday, 4 October 2009

Festival of Figs – Mas D’Azil

I was invited by the French family to pay a visit to the above named event. So on Saturday afternoon we set off to the medieval town, winding our way through countryside that is beginning to show the first signs of autumn, following the river which I told you in an earlier post this year takes you through the huge Megalithic portal where ancient peoples lived out their lives, before you pop out again into the sunshine and the beginning of the village.
We parked half on the pavement as many French are wont to do.
Walking into town we passed the warehouse where an eccentric man has his fabuloscope. A collection of his hand made moving sculptures, which I have yet to visit.
There was a new building which is probably related to childcare as it has this rather swish play area and mini-amphitheatre outside. The sides of the building are made from wood panels and I dare say that it is an ecological wonder.

The village square and some other areas had brightly decorated stalls selling a variety of goods. Hand-made hats, wooden furniture, wooden toys, items made from varnished gourds, jewellery, leather goods, mirrors etc etc You could even buy yourself a bow or crossbow and arrows.

Being a festival of figs, there were also stalls selling wines, cheeses, breads, cacaoettes, a flat cake made with maize which looked unappetizing but which is a local speciality. No I didn’t note the name of it I’m afraid, but it is probably called something like mais, I wouldn’t be surprised.
It was warm and sunny, and not too crowded. There was a stall related to the truffle association and a stall where cauldrons (the witches amongst you take note) of fig jam, complete with whole figs, bubbled away.

Later on in the afternoon when we passed by again, the jam was being ladled into glass jars via a siphon ready for immediate purchase. I didn’t see any prices, but at these fairs, “real” food is expensive.
I bought a bottle of sweet white aperitif wine 10.50 euros from the owners of the Domaine Montaut near Pau. It has a very distinctive taste. They don’t pick their grapes until November every year!!! And the grapes are picked by hand, although I suspect that there is more than one hand involved

There was a wandering band, playing their cornemuses (little bagpipes)

Another group in Catalan? Costume were putting on a dance display and had their own fearsome band.

The festival had a Spanish flavour and there was also a display of flamenco dancing on a makeshift stage outside the church door. This was not a great success however due to microphone trouble. The singing and music would cut out for longish periods due to faulty electrics. A shame for them as they struggled gamefully on.

There was entertainment for the children although we only saw one thing. A circus. This was really some kind of puppet show. Two people played instruments whilst dangling in front of them, their puppet also appeared to play too. It must have been magic.

Here is a behind the scenes view. You see? Smoke and mirrors. Thank God Derren Brown has not yet discovered this kind of technology.

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