We were all grumpy on Sunday. It was probably a combination of France’s loss in the World Cup the night before, a huge pile of laundry to do and, as for me, the fact that my stomach has popped out over the last 48 hours, making me go from looking “not-sure-if-she’s-pregnant” to “shouldn’t-she-be-giving-birth-sometime-soon”? I wouldn’t have minded this except for the fact that I could now fit into only one pair of pants, and they were dirty.
Anyway, chez Germain we were all grumbling away in our respective corners when Franck remembered a flyer that he had picked up at the Beaune market on Saturday morning. It had advertised the “Fete de la Patate” (Potato Festival) in a tiny village just outside of Bligny–sur–Ouche. The flyer said it went until 7:00pm, but it was already 5:00pm by the time we read it over.
“There’ll be nobody there,” I said, not quite ready to be cheered up that easily.
But the girls loved the idea, so they kitted themselves out with their wallets, sunglasses, and backpacks and in five minutes were on the doorstep, ready for adventure.
“It’ll be a nice drive anyway,” Franck said soothingly. “And at least it will get us out of the house.”
It was a golden Fall afternoon and the scenery on the half hour drive through the Vallee de l’Ouche – scarlet and yellow vineyards, green fields dotted with lazing Charolais cattle, and sleepy little stone villages – did cheer me up quite a bit. However, I was still skeptical that there would be a “Fete de la Patate” by the time we got there.
How wrong I was! When we got to the minuscule village of Bessey-la-Cour cars were parked higgledy–piggeldy all over the place, and all we had to do was follow the stream of people walking uphill past the church.
As it turned out, La Fete de la Patate was still going strong.
Here was our first glimpse of all the potatoes and people. It soon became clear that there was a lot of potato purchasing going on, and because this is Sunday in France, all in good humour of course.
But that was not all! There was also freshly cut and fried French fries which we all munched on most happily while deciding what we were going to do next. As you can see below although Franck really liked the fries, he doesn’t particularly like having his photo taken.
Apparently we had missed the Puree and Frites eating contests at 4:00pm, where a girl was crowned “Reine de la Puree” because she was the fastest at eating 1 kilo of mashed potatoes without using her hands. The boy who did the same with french fries was crowned the “Roi des Frites“. However, this didn’t mean there wasn’t any fun stuff to do. The girls had scoped a “Peche a la Ligne” game going on, except in this case it was a “Patate a la Ligne” game as you had to catch a potato with your fishing rod.
They caught a lot of potatoes and won lots of prizes and Camille’s favorite was a fluorescent orange flute that she proceeded to play for the rest of the afternoon.
There was also a game where you put on a wonky pair of glasses and then try to throw potatoes in different sized buckets
The girls were also fascinated by the huge piles of potatoes, and Charlotte was amazed to find that there was a potato names after her (and no, I didn’t disillusion her).
Camille was disappointed that there was no potatoes named after her but I said the ones called “Les Cheris” (sweethearts) could be referring to her. Besides, as you can see she was much consoled by her orange flute.
Everyone was warm and friendly, and you didn’t need to know anyone to be welcomed in all the games and activities or to strike up a conversation with the person next to you. To finish off our afternoon we decided to all get a waffle (and trust me, if you’ve never tasted a waffle made at one of these french food events, you’ve never really tasted a proper waffle. They were crunchy on the outside, feather soft and fluffy in the inside, with icing sugar sprinkled on top). The four of us ambled back to our car munching on our waffles (blessedly free of flute music while Camille ate), with the bag of Pompadour potatoes we had bought, very happy with how our Sunday had turned out.
There are these kind of food festivals all over Burgundy and France all year long – some celebrating andouillettes, another blackcurrants, and yet another mushrooms. If you happen to find one never hesitate (like I did) to go. There is always great food, good wine, and friendly people on hand. It was almost seven o’clock when we left, and La Fete de la Patate was still going strong.