Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Swinging in Mirepoix

Hah! That got your attention, didn't it ...? But I'm talking about a jazz festival, dear reader, a jazz festival ...

For the last fifteen years the little Ariège bastide of Mirepoix has kicked off the festival season by hosting three days of New Orléans style swing each Easter. It's not the kind of music I'd travel halfway across the world for, but - weather permitting - it's always a good bash with lots of people and a great atmosphere. And this year, after two rainy years, the weather permitted. So, true to our promise to resume something of a more normal life, we went.
















That's the omelette géante. As usual, we declined it on the grounds that it always turns out like the worst kind of scrambled egg: dry, solid, and cuttable with a knife. Yuk. (And anyway, it's only made with 1000 eggs, which is mere small fry compared to other Easter omelettes - at Bessières near Toulouse, for example, the Confrérie Mondiale de l'Omelette Géante et Pascale (!) use 15,000 eggs and 4 litres of oil to cook an omelette 4 metres across which ends up weighing, with its pan, more than two tonnes.) Instead we joined in the annual game of Trying To Get A Table at our favourite café, Le Saint Maurice. Which unfortunately happens to be everybody else's favourite too, because its tables are right in front of Les Halles where the music happens, the staff are great, and they cook a mean omelette-frites. It can be a protracted game, this one, because once installed people don't move on for several hours, but while I was attempting in vain to make a noise with a trumpet, John spied a prime table and unusually for him managed to leap on it before anyone else.

[An aside. He used - before he met me of course - to be terribly English, as in "after you" and "I'm really awfully sorry, but you've trodden on my foot", but living with me, and living in France, seem to have knocked the last bit of English reserve out of him. A few weeks ago, for instance, he picked up a gem of a CD in a local depôt vente and then left it with two or three other items ready to take to the till; when we came back to collect the pile, the CD had gone. Determined to get the CD back even though he'd not yet bought it, rather than being typically British-stiff-upper-lippish about it he tracked down the 'culprit' and (politely!) confronted her. She, it turned out, was desperate for the CD to play for her daughter who was about to leave for the States: what if, she suggested, she buy it; she could - ahem - copy it and then give it to him. Phone numbers were exchanged; she did, she did, and she did; and John got to practise some non-building French and make a new friend].

The weather was perfect ...
















... and the square was full of people all afternoon, mostly doing what we were doing - drinking cold rosé or beer and enjoying the buzz and the music - though presumably there must have been some more serious musicians around as there were some serious displays of musical instruments too.
















The square is surrounded by almost perfectly preserved medieval arcades and is almost impossibly pretty - one reason why a few years ago it saw a mini-invasion of retired Brits, attracted by the idea of cheap living in A Place in the Sun; many have now sold up and left or are in the process of leaving. I met one such recently and asked why: partly boredom, he told me, as in WTF shall I do now I've renovated my house; partly the realisation that France is no cheaper than the UK. Some, I gather, miss grandchildren; others miss - er - British supermarkets :-0 ... Yesterday I heard just one English voice over the whole day, an out and out record for Mirepoix. The French, I gather, are shedding no tears ...

For some, though, the day was clearly all too much ...




The music was pretty good too. Especially this lot, the Lulu Swing Quartet, who hail from Montpelier way and play fantastic gypsy jazz à la Stéphane Grapelli and Django Reinhart. Enjoy!






3 comments:

Blog at Bardies said...

Mirepoix sans les 'Rostbifs' sounds spooky! What a difference a few years makes - it wasn't long ago that almost every voice on market day there was British. Now that we're all stranded under 'Iceland's Revenge', there will be even less. I long to see my tulips in flower but I suspect it will be weeks before I can re-book my flight. Oh well, it just goes to prove that nature is always bigger than all of us. Good to see that you are having a break from your travaux. Lola

Kalba Meadows said...

Yes, it was a bit odd not to hear all the Rosbifs. I liked it though :-)

HarriettAckley0317 said...
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