It’s been a bit bizarre this year. We’ve had a very fast, virtually immediate jump into “The Season — Summer,” but a very slow glide into “The Season — Tourist Invasion.”
This year’s advent of summer, with high temperatures and deep blue skies that are often cloudless, started suddenly after the most miserable spring we’ve had since my wife Jan and I moved here eight years ago. It seemed like almost constant rain, along with temperatures that were cool to cold.
On the plus side, all the rain meant that the ground has been well soaked, and it just took the hot weather to cause plant life to explode into growth mode.
Walnut trees are already hanging their branches with their fruit, and the walnut pods are already dropping to the ground. (I know, because I nearly twisted my ankle when I stumbled over one of the pods on a walk this morning. They are as hard as croquet balls.) In this photo, you can see the dark green leaves of the walnut tree, and in the distance, some rolls of hay.
Flowers are up everywhere, our wisteria vines are growing so fast that they need trimming twice a week, and farmers have already harvested some crops and are planting the next. Here’s a field of corn as it looked this morning:
However, we’ve noted for some time that things seem much quieter this year than is normal. People with rental houses say their bookings are down; campgrounds simply don’t look as packed as usual (after all, we are now in July); and traffic doesn’t seem as heavy as usual. On the bike path between Daglan and St. Cybranet this morning, it appeared to me that there were many fewer cyclists and runners than normal.
A couple of days ago, Jan and I drove up to Castelnaud for an afternoon drink, and found the normally popular café La Plage virtually devoid of customers. Have a look at the terrace:
The common wisdom is that the absolute peak time for tourists is mid-July to mid-August, so there is still time for the tourists to invade. We shall see. But what’s been keeping them away? Perhaps the generally poor spring weather in Europe, perhaps the economy. I don’t know, but the slow start seems real enough.
Coming event: If you will be in or near Daglan this coming Friday — that’s the day before la Fête nationale, or Bastille Day — you may be interested in a special dinner being held in the community hall, or Salle des fêtes. Here’s the poster, advertising the details:
The dinner, starting at 8 p.m., features roast stuffed pork as the main course. The bal populaire starting at 10 p.m. means it’s a “local” dance (don’t expect the Rolling Stones), usually featuring a small band with one or more guitars and an accordion. And of course the feux d’ artifices (fireworks) start at 11 p.m. and are always exciting.
You should reserve for the dinner. If you can’t read the number on the poster above, they are: for the Mairie: 05 – 53 – 28 – 41 – 16, and for the Office de Tourisme: 05 – 53 – 29 – 88 -84. And that’s Radio Free Daglan, at your service, signing out.