Carnival came to the little towns of Sancerre and Saint-Satur today. It was a sheer joy being part of a small-town carnival.
The carnival kicked off this morning with a huge pedlar’s fair in Sancerre. Even our Berlin experience didn’t have quote this level of eclectic items gathered in one place: from entire fireplaces, to gendarme’s kepis, from ancient saddles to typewriters. It was just an extraordinary range of, well, stuff. As we’re not in the market for stuff right now we zeroed in on the food stalls for buying purposes and just approached the rest as entertainment.
Then, this afternoon, the parade took place down in Saint-Satur. There were three bands of varying degrees of competence but enormous enthusiasm; there were floats – polar bears, monkeys, fish; and there were lots of smiling people. Callum and Declan had a ball throwing confetti at the floats, the monkey and banana float in particular came in for a great deal of attention – in a few years I would have attributed that to the fetching French sisters ‘manning’ the float, but it surely can’t be that yet.
The procession wound its way through Saint-Satur through laughing crowds. A lot of the time it was hard to tell who was watching and who was participating. There’s something about a small town enjoying itself that is really lovely to behold and even be a peripheral part of. The kids ran everywhere, carried out confetti wars with other kids, and everywhere there were benevolently smiling adults. It really was lovely.
Strangely, the celebration of Spring in Saint-Satur is combined with the annual carp festival. Yes, carp. So the first float in the parade was a giant, multicoloured fish. We’re still not sure why carp is so important to the town since the Loire is regarded as a salmon river. France has the world record for largest carp caught, but that was in a lake in Djon. Ah well, another mystery for our trip.
No matter, we were thrilled to be celebrating carp with the locals. Vive la carpe!