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trish & pat’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 28 Jun 2007

Location: Chantonnay, France

MapChantonnay – France

The drive here from the Riviera reinforced to us the size of France. It was 2 full days driving.

We were thrilled when we arrived with our accommodation here – an old farmhouse and its buildings have been completely transformed by an English couple who retired here 3 years ago. Our house is in the old tractor shed and is magnificent now and perfect for the four of us.

Of course the whole reason for our visit to this part of France was for the wedding of Sally’s friend Virginie to Eric last Saturday. Well - what a day (and night) it turned out to be – they really know how to celebrate weddings in France and it turned out to be quite a marathon event and without doubt the best wedding any of us have ever attended.

The day began at the town hall at 9.30am where only close family and a few friends attended. This is the official registration of the marriage. The bride and her father then led a procession through the streets of the town to the church for a Mass at 10.30am with 350 people attending. All these people were then invited to a local hall for brioche (a local specialty sweet bread), coffee or wines if you preferred. We stayed here for about 2 hours and they had a jazz band playing in the street outside. Then off to the reception for a lucky 160 which was held at a farm about 50 k’s away. We then proceeded to eat and drink ourselves stupid with a 5 course lunch accompanied by a different wine for each course – the highlight was the main course – filet mignon with blue cheese sauce.

As we were the only attendees from outside France, we were quite the celebrities of the evening with a standing ovation after Virginie thanked us for making the trip. During the meal, it is a tradition that guests perform acts for the bride and groom – well, what a hoot!! We had everything from a talent quest with the bridal party as judges, an 80s band, a comedian and so it goes on. Another tradition is that after each performance the opposite sex has to kiss the performer or else they have to sing next. Not to be outdone, and after a few of those wines, the 4 of us got on stage and sang Waltzing Matilda (1 verse only) and “When the Saints go Marching In” which is a well known song here – the whole crowd joined in singing and clapping etc and another standing ovation.

A fabulous band played non-stop music until 4am. Pat and I piked it at 1am, but Sally and John lasted the full distance. A favourite dance was the French Polka and we are now experts at it.
The people here could not have been warmer and it truly was an event that we will never forget.

Yesterday, after recovering from the wedding, we went with Virginie and Eric and her father to a local historical theme park, the Puy Du Fou with shows of gladiators, Vikings and ancient battles. It is well known throughout Europe and is visited by 7 million each year. We went to a theme restaurant for lunch with several courses of traditional food and music which was a lot of fun and then back to Virginie’s parents home for dinner and another great night sampling Andre’s home made wine etc.

It’s been a wonderful week and will be a highlight of our trip – we are so glad and grateful to have had the opportunity to share in this event with Sally and John – we will never forget this week!

A 9 hour drive tomorrow to get to Spain – ole, ole!! Bring on the sangria!!!