The Foire Agricole

This day last year we wandered up to the Foire Agricole in Reillanne, wondering what it would be like.  It turned out to be beyond our expectations, a happy celebration of Provençal country life; but we could only stay a couple of hours because we had to leave for Lyon, to collect the horses early the following morning.  Yes, it’s one year since the horses arrived!

This year I was on my own, the LSH being away on a business trip and, once again, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The area they have used for the Foire for the last three years now has a municipal building on it.  Where would they hold the Foire this year, I asked Alexandrine.  On the street and in the square beside the community centre, she told me, but the horse stuff would be held near the tennis courts.  It didn’t sound great to me, it seemed like everything would be all strung out, so I wasn’t sure if it would have the same buzz as the previous year.

I wandered down the main street.  There were mostly the same exhibitors and the same displays, but what caught my eye first were these lovely guys!  They weren’t here last year!

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They were doing carriage rides all day, up and down the main street.  Yeah.  That’s the main thoroughfare, jammed with people later on in the day.  L♥ve the attitude to Health & Safety in this country!  Please don’t ever change and turn into a Nanny State like Ireland!!

I continued to wander, just to get a feel for the layout.  There were horses still arriving, to be tethered on picket lines along the main street.

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A sweet mare and her twin foals, ridden to the fair with the foals following along.  They’re very like a set of plastic statuettes I had when I was a child!

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The picket line. No racism here – horses, donkeys and mules were tied up side by side.

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Arriving at the Foire

I continued up around the back, by the community centre, past pens of sheep, goats and poultry – the same exhibits as the previous year.  I decided to focus on what struck me as different.

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There were definitely no llamas last year.

Nor was there anyone doing wood-carving with a chain-saw.

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This lavender still has been doing the rounds of local Fêtes.  I stopped to listen to an explanation of the process but the speaker was too fast for me and I only understood bits of what he was saying.

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He handed around lavender water and lavender oil for people to sniff.  They both smelt divine but the the oil was stronger, which was the point he was trying to make.

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The large bottle is the lavender water, the small bottle is the oil.  Maybe next year I will understand everything he says and be able to give a good description of the whole process!

As I continued to wander, I heard “Clong clong clong” in the distance, getting steadily louder.  There was a frisson of activity in the crowd – what was happening?  Ah!  Late arrivals!

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The crowd parted like the Red Sea as these guys came trotting up the road, bells swinging and clonging all the way.

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I happened to be standing beside their pen.  They strolled in as if they did this sort of thing every day, led by the boss goat and the berger, with a helper bringing up the rearguard.  They quickly settled down to eat their hay – a mixed herd of dairy goats and sheep.

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I met up with some English friends and sat & chatted for a while, looking out over the regular Sunday market, which was in full swing side by side with the Foire.

I made some new contacts, who I hope to blog about at a later date, but here’s a teaser :

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Then I dashed home to let the dogs out and returned in time for the horse demo.

It was quite a way out from the rest of the activities and, as a result, the crowd of spectators was small.  The whole demo was done by Alexandrine and her pupils – I think that’s a real mark of respect from the local community for her achievements this year.  There were ridden demos, in hand demos and mounted demos, showing the kind of work she does, and she finished up with very polished performance with Max.

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A couple of truffle-hunting dogs entered the arena once she had finished, but the crowd must have been all horsey people and they started to drift away, which was a bit sad for the dogs and their owners!  I have to confess that I left, too.  My own dogs had been alone for most of the day and I wanted to get them out for a decent walk before it got dark.

Once again, the Foire Agricole did not disappoint, although I didn’t like its layout this year.  This was its fourth year in existence and next year the location will change once again.  They plan to block off the entire street beside which the horse arena was located and hold the Foire there.  I think it will work better.  I’ll let you know in twelve months time!

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