Tag Archives: neighbours’ day in France

Our First Neighbours’ Day Party

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I’ve been wanting to have a neighbourhood party since we bought Closerie Falaiseau three years ago but it was a little tricky while we were still living in Paris … I check the date – 29th May – and ask what my oldest and dearest friends in the street think about it. Great  idea, they say, but neither will be able to attend.

Our neighbour Chantal at her snackbar Crousti'Pause, rue Denis Papin.
Our neighbour Chantal at her snackbar Crousti’Pause, rue Denis Papin.

I call in to see my next door neighbour (the one that ISN’T going to have a poultry yard) at her snackbar in Blois and she thinks it’s a wonderful idea. “We’ll come”, she says, “and so will our friends down the road that I knew from high school.” I ask for advice about food and she suggests that I simply tell people to bring a picnic basket with what they need.

The flyer presenting ourselves and inviting our neighbours to the party
The flyer presenting ourselves and inviting our neighbours to join us

Jean Michel and I spend some time finding the right wording for the flyer and I add a logo I find on a website. La fête des voisins also called Immeubles en fête (which roughly means “partying flats”) was created at the turn of the century (this one!), at the initiative of one Atanase Périfan in the 17th arrondissement in Paris. It was promoted by the mayors of Paris (all twenty-one of them) and low-income housing owners and its popularity rapidly spread to the rest of France. It is now held on the last Friday of May or the first Friday of June. It became Europe-wide in 2004.

Jean Michel putting a flyer in one of the letterboxes
Jean Michel putting a flyer in one of the letterboxes

I print out 70 copies (two flyers per page) because the last house in the street is 132 (it’s a long street) and we set out after dinner on the Monday 18th to put them in everyone’s letterboxes. We have lots left over so I can only surmise that many people have two numbers (like our neighbours on the other side).

At the end of the road, we see the Harley Davidson man whose wife’s car we ran into the first night we ever slept at the Closerie. He thinks it’s a wonderful idea and will come with his wife.

Outside our front gate
Outside our front gate

Next day, a lady walks past while I’m weeding on the footpath and we chat for a while. She says her husband has a pétanque game but they will try to come afterwards. Another neighbour we know also calls by to say he’s coming. We’re up to  12 which seems a decent number.  I invite Mr and Mrs Previous Owner and they are delighted to come.

We keep checking the weather and although it will be a little chilly and overcast, no rain is predicted. Responses trickle in and it looks like we might make it to twenty.

Balloons with "fête des voisins" written on them
Balloons with “fête des voisins” written on them

Jean Michel is going to set up a couple of trestle tables and a banner made of balloons saying “Fête des Voisins”.

Friday dawns and to my dismay, I am too sick to get out of bed. My terrible January flu seems to be back. I make my way to the sofa and finish off the two translations due that morning, then drag myself back to bed. I am feeling very miserable and very disappointed to say the least.

Waterlilies and irises in Chouzy-sur-Cisse
Waterlilies and irises in Chouzy-sur-Cisse

Jean Michel goes off and buys the balloons and at 5 pm is setting up the first trestle table in the area opposite where we park trailer. By then, I am feeling even worse than I did during my first flu so ask him to ring the doctor (whom I incidentally do not like). The doctor says to bring me straight over so I clutch my sick bag as we hurtle over to Chouzy-sur-Cisse.

The doctor reassures me that I don’t have Lyme’s disease from a recent tick bite, nor a urinary infection, nor encephalitis or meningitis from all my recent mosquito bites. We go home and I collapse into bed again fully clothed.

Being restored with a glass of rosé
Being restored with a glass of rosé (photo by Mrs Previous Owner)

At 8 pm, I wake up and take some aspirin, feeling slightly better. I can hear joyous voices wafting in from the outside. I go down and get my deck chair and wander across the road. Someone spies me and starts clapping. A loud “hourray” goes up !

Two new friends on their scooters
Two new friends on their scooters

I am amazed to count a total of 31 adults and 5 children. Everyone comes to talk to me in my deck chair and I can see they are all enjoying themselves.  There is plenty of food and I end up having a glass of rosé bought from the Cheverny Cooperative the day before. I slowly start to feel better and after an hour or so and a second glass of wine with a sandwich can actually get up and mingle.

The party soon moved into the street
The party soon moved into the street

Most of the people present are our neighbours who are geographically the closest, although lady comes from the top of the street.  She tells me she felt a little shy at first so drove past. One of the other neighbours recognised her and called out so she stopped and joined us.

I’m told by another neighbour that she once tried to initiate a fête des voisins and met with little enthusiasm. My principle is that when you hold a party, even if only one person comes, then it’s worth it because that person wants to be there !

Most of the people didn't know each other before the party, but the conversation never stopped
Most of the people didn’t know each other before the party, but the conversation never stopped (photo by Mrs Previous Owner)

Another lady tells me she and her husband are moving away in a couple of months’ time because they have never managed to establish a social network in Blois. How lucky we are !

About 10.30 pm, as night falls, the party spontaneously breaks up and everyone helps to clean up. Next morning only the balloon banner still remains. At the market, we meet no fewer that three of our neighbours present at the fête. All repeat how much they enjoyed themselves.

And off comes the cork! (photo by Mrs Previous Owner)
And off comes the cork! (photo by Mrs Previous Owner)

So we’ll be on the ball next year for the 2ème fête de voisins (and I won’t be sick because spending three days in bed is no fun!)

All About France #5

All_About_France_blog_link_up_2I would like to dedicate this post to Phoebe Thomas from Lou Messugo, who’s neighbour day party two years ago inspired me, and at the same time participate in her All About France #5 blog link. For other contributions, click here.

A Neighbourhood Party – New French Words – Holidaying in the Loire Valley

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For this Wednesday’s Bloggers Round-up, I’ve chosen a description of France’s neighbours’ day by Phoebe from Lou Messugo, the latest French words to be included in the Larousse and Robert dictionaries by Stéphanie from Blog in France and, to finish up, a guest post I wrote on visiting the Loire Valley for Carolyn from Holidays to Europe. Enoy!

A Neighbourhood Party

by Phoebe from Lou Messugo, a traveller, francophile, expat, mum and foodie now living in Roquefort les Pins where she runs a gîte after many years of travelling and living in Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia

neighbourhood_partyIt was around 9 o’clock on a lovely sunny evening at the end of May when four young Singaporeans appeared at the end of the lane, dragging heavy suitcases and dodging the potholes in the gravel.  It was an unusual sight as 40 or so of us were enjoying an outdoor aperitif.  Our lane is not made for suitcase dragging – it’s barely made for 4 wheel-drive cars – and nobody ever attempts to navigate it on foot with large luggage.  That was from our point of view.  As from these strangers’ point of view, I imagine they didn’t expect quite such a public arrival at Lou Messugo nor so much going on in a quiet village street.  Yes, these were the latest guests turning up several hours late and without their car right in the middle of the annual neighbourhood street party! Read more

New French words

by Stephanie, the Llamalady, from Blog in France, an Irish llama and alpaca breeder living in the centre of France, who also runs a carp fishery and a holiday gite

The 2014 editions of Le Petit Larousse and Le Petit Robert will be coming out in early June and here are a few of the new words you’ll find in them.

chelou: this is the verlan (French slang that reverses the two halves of a word) for louche = shifty, seedy, weird

choupinet = cute, sweet

flash-mob = well, flash-mob ie a group of people who organise via the internet or mobile phone some sort of display in a public place

Googliser = to use Google to find information

nomophobe: great word this! It describes someone who is addicted to their mobile and can’t cope with being without it.

textoter = to communicate by text

Read more

Holidaying in the Loire Valley

by Rosemary Kneipp guest posting for Holidays to Europe, an Australian based business passionate about sharing their European travel expertise and helping travellers to experience the holiday in Europe they have always dreamed of

chaumont_outsideChenonceau, Chambord, Chaumont, Cheverny. Do these names mean anything to you? They are just four of the many pleasure castles or châteaux in the rich undulating landscape of the Loire Valley, just 200 kilometres south of Paris, many of them overlooking France’s longest river, which runs from Ardèche in the Massif Central to Saint Nazaire on the Atlantic seaboard.

The Loire, with its many sandbanks, is no longer navigable and much is untamed. Because it easily overflows its banks, a long dyke runs along each side, with very few constructions. Charming villages dot the countryside in between larger towns such as Amboise and Blois each of which has its own château. Read more

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