Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Bastille Day in St Jean de Luz

No readily evident heads of monarchy to be seen littering St Jean de Luz today but everybody was in fine spirits enjoying a day off work (except the shopkeepers and cafe owners who were rubbing their hands gleefully). While President Sarkozy was orchestrating events in Paris, St Jean de Luz held its own more subtle celebrations.

Festivities began at nine in the morning when the annual swim across the bay took place. Around five hundred willing participants swam the two kilometres from Socoa to St Jean de Luz. It was a little too competitive for me, next year perhaps. I settled for a shorter version along the beach and at a far more sedate pace.

Next up the local war and Resistance veterans together with serving members of the forces paraded in Place Louis XIV. As always the mayor was present to oversee proceedings. This was followed by our very own Fabienne (centre of photo). She had arranged a Flamenco dance spectacle on the central stage and together with a host of our ever so slightly more proficient dancers awed the adoring tourists.

The afternoon was more leisurely as families took long lunches together followed by worthy promenades. This evening the town and its many visitors took to the beach, there was barely room to sit. It was a balmy evening with a little wind which whipped up some nice waves. Set to this oceanic backdrop the fort at Socoa began the feux artifice accompanied by a range of more popular opera arias. Watching the multitude of colours explode high above the sea was wonderful. The ten second delay while the sound of bursting rockets reached us added to the fun. In reply St Jean de Luz responded with its own magnificent display. I could sense a little local rivalry going on and expect that over the years each town has tried to outclass the other.

The day has ended and I have seen no tricoteuse or replica guillotines though did see a cigar being cut at one of the swankier restaurants.

Basque of the day:- French Revolution :: Frantziako Iraultza