And a good time was had by all

Tout le monde. Literally, it means all the world, but in day-to-day usage it means everyone or everybody. And last night in Daglan, tout le monde turned out for a community event that seems to have become an instant hit — a village-wide “mixer” that was created to allow long-time residents to meet and greet the newcomers.

My wife Jan and I knew all about the event, well in advance, because Jan is a member of the administrative council of Le club de l’amitié Daglanaise, or the Daglan Friendship Club. And it was this club that organized, publicized and staffed the event, and Jan had spent part of the afternoon helping to set up the tables and chairs for the evening.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Community events can be pretty dire. Meeting new people is awkward. People clump together with people they already know, and avoid meeting strangers. And so on. But last night seemed different.

We knew that things were off to a good start as we left our house for Daglan’s salle des fêtes, or community hall. Several of our neighbours were already leaving their houses, and a number of them looked pretty dressed up, by Daglan’s casual standards; one of our neighbours was even wearing a sports coat. So it looked like people were taking this seriously.

And when we arrived at the hall, it seemed like half of the village was already in attendance, with more streaming in by the minute. After walking to a shaded area under the trees, near the Céou River, and then getting settled with a glass of wine, the crowd was welcomed by two of the club’s officials. Here’s one of of our neighbours, who serves on the committee, addressing the crowd:

The crowd hears a welcoming speech.

The crowd hears a welcoming speech.

I have to say that the club did a good job of publicizing the event. Posters like the one below were plastered all over the village, in various shops, welcoming all Daglan residents to the evening. Recognizing that “beacoup de nouvelles familles” (many new families) have become part of the village in in the past few years, it says that “Notre souhait est d’améliorer le relationnel au sein de notre village” — that is, “It is our wish to improve the relationship within our village.”

These posters -- in both French and English -- were plastered all over Daglan.

These posters — in both French and English — were plastered all over Daglan.

Aside from the publicity, and the obvious good will of those involved, it has to be said that the wine and the appetizers that were freely passed around helped to make for a good evening. In the next few photos, I’ll show you how much care went into making an attractive assortment of goodies, starting with this tray of savoury breads, slices of sausage, and pieces of quiche:

A tray with a variety of breads and other goodies.

A tray with a variety of breads and other goodies.

Then there were lots and lots of pizza squares, shown here on a tray with more sausage slices as well as bread that had been spread with rillettes, or coarse pâté:

Squares of pizza (very tasty!) and much more.

Squares of pizza (very tasty!) and much more.

And here’s yet another tray of savoury bread slices, along with pieces of cheese and yet more sausage and quiche:

A tray of sausages, ringed by slices of special breads.

A tray of sausages, ringed by slices of special breads.

Beyond the tasty appetizers, it seemed that there truly was a good feeling within the crowd, as people made a real effort to get to know their neighbours — not only those of us who live in the heart of Daglan, but those who live in the various hamlets sprinkled on the hills that surround the village, like La Bégonie, Le Peyruzel, and Pauliac Haut. Throughout the evening, you could hear English, Dutch and French being spoken, with French (naturally) dominating.

One of my favourite conversations was with a French couple who moved to the area about the time that Jan and I did (roughly three years ago). As we traded our abbreviated life stories, I was able to say those magical five words in French that always seem to amaze and even shock my listeners: Je suis né à Chicago — “I was born in Chicago.” (I once said that to a group of pupils in the Daglan public school, and saw 30 kids simultaneously jump back in their seats.)  The wife immediately responded with a few choice comments on Chicago and the Mafia, which of course I could neither confirm nor deny — but merely patted my violin case knowingly.

Suggestions for the future: The most common suggestion we heard all evening was that everyone should be given little badges on which their name could be written, along with the village or hamlet where they live. (Last night, only committee members had badges.) And another good suggestion was to have an event like this twice during the summer. We shall see.

Radio Free Daglan spreads the word: I’m happy to say that this blog is helping visitors, and even holiday home owners in the Greater Daglan Area, learn more about the GDA, while also helping local businesses. Just today, we learned from Sophie Arnaud, the young jeweller I profiled in my blog posting “A real jewel of Daglan” on May 9 of this year, that a group of visitors had discovered her work through this blog, visited her shop, and wound up buying some pieces of her jewelry.

If you’re headed this way, or if you haven’t yet seen her work, I encourage you to drop in to La Goutte Noire, which is right on the main street that runs through the village. Here’s a picture of the front door, so you won’t miss it:

The sign marks the entrance off rue de la République.

The sign marks the entrance off rue de la République.

And here’s another look at a sample of the silver chain jewelry she makes by hand:

Some examples of Sophie's work in silver.

Some examples of Sophie’s work in silver.

Okay, so now you have no excuse for not finding a nice (and reasonably priced) gift for your wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter when you’re in the GDA.

A note on my reviews and recommendations: I try to be clear, straightforward and honest in my reviews of places and events in this blog, and also try to provide the reasoning behind my opinions. If I write positively about a jewelry shop or a restaurant, or anything else, it’s because I enjoyed my experience there, or found good value, or was otherwise impressed. So just to be clear: None of my reviews earns any compensation or other benefit for me or for our Chief Staff Photographer, Jan. In the end, you might not agree with my opinion, but you can be sure it’s my own.

This entry was posted in French food, French language, Life in southwest France, Weather in the Dordogne and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to And a good time was had by all

  1. Doug Curson says:

    Very interesting to hear about the “Friendship Club”. I guess this means that “non-locals” are becoming a significant proportion of the village population.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Your opinions are certainly to be trusted — the jewellery is beautiful!

  3. loren24250 says:

    I agree, Suzanne. I really like the work she does.

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