The people I met in Neuilly-en-Donjon are some of the most welcoming people I’ve met while traveling. During my last week and a half or so in the country I got to take part in a few of their many traditions! In France it seems that there is a celebration for just about everything. When La Chandeleur (crêpe day) celebration ends, usually Mardi Gras begins immediately. However, this year it falls a few weeks later. To make sure I tasted what Mardi gras is like in the French countryside, Raphaëlle started festivities early this year! That means making beignets. I’ve never tasted anything quite like them, it’s like mixing a doughnut and a funnel cake together and poof-poof you have a beignet. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and it’s ready to go… or you can top it off with a bit of Nutella or jelly! No matter how you eat it, you can’t really go wrong.
Music is a big part of the French culture. When people think of accordions they often think of France, Parisian cafés or old movies; but accordion music really belongs to the Auvergne region. Raphaëlle’s friend, Roland, is a very talented accordionist; after enjoying aperitifs and dinner together Roland whipped out his accordion and began playing a wide array of songs. I tried to play too, but it sounded more like loud noises than music. I’m don’t see much of a future for myself playing the accordion, but I love listening and dancing to it with Raphaëlle and Melanie!
When I arrived in Neuilly-en-Donjon one of the first questions people started asking me was how long I was going to stay. It was a legitimate question; I assumed people wanted to know if I was going to become involved in their lives or was just passing through for a week or two. I suppose that was part of it, but I soon found out part of the question was to find out if I’d be around for the “Foire d’Embouche.”
Directly translated “Foire d’Embouche” means “fattening fair,” but the fair is a time for a few communities to gather together and showcase their animals, mainly cows, eat tête de veau (calf head), drink wine (wine, and more wine), enjoy each others company and celebrate another fair with a few bottles of champagne in the evening. Going to the fair is as important as going down the Big Slide or eating cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair. For those of you that aren’t from Minnesota, that is important.
It was a wonderful way to see everyone I met during my month and a half in the country and share one last meal before leaving.
A few photos from the Foire and a few of the many faces that made my time in Neuilly-en-Donjon a wonderful experience!
Merci a tout la monde en Neuilly-en-Donjon pour tous les merveilleux souvenirs! J’ai rigolé beaucoup avec vous. Merci pour toute votre patience et d’avoir aider avec mon français ! Je me rappellerai toujours de mon temps dans la campagne française! A la prochaine!
A few highlights from the last few weeks in Neuilly-en-Donjon:
Making Paella - Helping TonTon Bernard in the restaurant Every Wednesday there is a "Marche aux Bovins" or a "Cattle Market" in Saint Christophe En Brionnais - you can buy cows in bulk, bid on them at an auction, or buy just one, two or three for meat.
A bientôt Neuilly-en-Donjon ... Prochain arrêt (next stop): Istanbul, Turkey!