Highlights: a special Bastille Day, and more

A surfeit of socializing (how about that phrase?) has kept me away from toiling in the Blogosphere, so this will be a quick report on a few activities from the past weekend, starting with a special event at a village ceremony on Saturday.

The French call it la Fête Nationale; English-speakers typically call it Bastille Day. Whatever, the holiday on July 14 marks the storming of the Bastille in 1789, considered an important turning point in the French Revolution. My wife Jan and I try to attend our village ceremony every year.

And this past Saturday, our celebration had a special touch that made the ceremony all the more meaningful, not just to Jan and me, but to nearly all the villagers, and one family in particular.

First, here’s a look at the ceremony, held (as always) in front of the restaurant Le Petit Paris, at the village’s war memorial:

Village dignitaries, and a military presence.

The ceremony included the usual features — the speech by our Mayor, the group singing of la Marseillaise — but the highlight was the presentation of the Legion of Honour to a notable villager, Jacques Pasquet.

Before making the award,  retired General Raymond Wey. another notable villager and a municipal Conseiller, outlined M. Pasquet’s dedicated service, both in and out of the armed forces. The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit, and was begun in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

After the ceremony, we all repaired to the courtyard of the village school for drinks and snacks. And here is General Wey, congratulating M. Pasquet once again:


Congratulations from the General.

The award is clearly a high honour, and one that M. Pasquet certainly deserves. And now on to other topics.

That new Mexican restaurant. In a posting of June 17, I wrote that the Mexican restaurant that was supposed to open in the village of Saint-Laurent-la-Vallée had not. (It was awaiting final official approval.) But it’s open now, and so on Sunday Jan and I went there for the first time with friends Elisabeth and Gerhard. Verdict? A very pleasant lunch spot, with very reasonable prices.

Maria Bonita is not what you probably would expect from a Mexican restaurant — quesadillas and tamales and enchiladas. Rather, it’s more typical continental cuisine with some Mexican touches. First, here’s what the restaurant looks like:

The view from our table.

It was a sunny day, so we ate in the courtyard across from the restaurant (as did all the other patrons). Service was a tad slow at times, but quite friendly. And the food?

Well, Jan ordered a steak, and said it was probably the best one she has had in France — both tasty and tender (and tender is not often used to describe steaks here). Here’s her dish:

Served with some purée of carrots.

The other three of us ordered the salmon en papillotte, and thought that although it tasted fine it had been baked too long, so it and the accompanying vegetables were a bit too dry. Here’s my plate:

A bit too long in the oven, we thought.

And just how “very reasonable” are the prices? Well, the four of us shared a bottle of Prosecco to begin; then Jan, Elisabeth and Gerhard had an entrée; and then we had the main dishes described above. We also shared two bottles of rosé wine. The price per couple? Just over 44 euros. Not bad.

For a final photographic flourish, here’s a photo of Elisabeth, showing off her modified version of a sombrero. We thought she looked appropriately Mexican. See what you think:

Hola, Elisabeth!

World Cup follow-up: Finally, what did you think of the World Cup? Jan and I were quite into it, following (in particular) the teams in which we have a special interest — England and France.

Before the kick-off on Sunday, we were sitting across from the Mexican restaurant (see above) when a pick-up truck drove through the village with a big French flag in back. I hollered “Allez les Bleus!” at the driver, and gave him a thumbs up sign. And that was about that.

During the final itself, there were six of us in our TV room, cheering on France against Croatia. When France won, we cheered like crazy, and then went over to the deck of some neighbours to celebrate some more.

While there, a convertible drove through our little street, with several young people honking the horn, waving the French flag, and hollering. We hollered back. And that was that.

Yes, for all the celebrations elsewhere in France, the Greater Daglan Area was pretty quiet after the victory. The thing is: This is rugby country.

Ah well.


This entry was posted in Festivals in France, French government and politics, History in France, History in the Dordogne, Life in southwest France and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Highlights: a special Bastille Day, and more

  1. Lesley says:

    Love that blouse Elizabeth!

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