Today we celebrated Jour Armistice, or Armistice Day (Remembrance Day, if you will). This is a solemn national holiday in France, as the impact of World War I on towns and villages like Daglan was catastrophic.
Over the years, my wife and I had taken part in several Huit mai (May 8th) ceremonies in Daglan, honouring the end of World War II in Europe (V-E Day) , but this was our first Jour Armistice. It began with the ringing of the church bells at 11 a.m. At 11:30, there was a procession from the Mairie (the Mayor’s office) to the monument to the dead, immediately in front of Le Petit Paris. Aptly (I think) it was raining lightly as one of the village elders, accompanied by a group of school children, read out the names of all the Daglanaise who had fallen in the war. After each name, we all said together, “Mort pour la France” (killed for France). Here is the group:
And then our Mayor read the prescribed text, describing the war and its impact. Here she is:
Following her speech, we had the wonderful experience of listening to the school children singing the national anthem, The Marseillaise, accompanied by a violin player — who played very well, it should be noted.
After the ceremony at the monument, the crowd was led off to the village cemetery, to visit the graves of those lost in the war. Here they are:
As is traditional at this time of the year, the graves at cemeteries throughout France are decorated with chrysanthemums (which is why you should never bring that flower as a gift when someone has invited you for dinner — it’s just not done). Here is what the flowers look like, up close:
Of course, this wouldn’t be Daglan if ceremonies were sombre and solemn. So off we jolly well went to Le Bistroquet, for a drink or two (courtesy of the village treasury — now here, finally, is a great use for public funds!), and then to the Salle des Fêtes for a lunch. A three-hour lunch, if you please, featuring soup of duck carcasses (with les carcasses passed around separately, for picking!), coquilles St Jacques, rare roast beef with potatoes and green beans, two types of cheese, and molten chocolate cakes with ice cream. Oh, and did I forget to mention the bottle after bottle of red wine? And the white? And the digestifs afterwards? Hey — I can’t remember everything!