“The things we did last summer, I will remember all winter long.” S. Cahn
A summer solstice is an astronomical event that occurs when the Sun reaches its highest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. In other words, the sun at high noon is at the highest point in the sky and marks the first official day of summer.
On this lovely day, we took Daniel and Angelina to the annual school event The Spectacular! We showed up with other parents from school and our children at 19:00 to the elementary school and brought food to share at the end of year party for the teachers.
You have to love the French! At a kid’s party, like any traditional party, there is an open bar with wine for the parents and teachers to enjoy. Then after the children watch the 1 1/2 hour magician act, they joined their parents for refreshments of pop, followed by a late dinner, all on school grounds. After, most people walk home, happy to have mingled with other parents from their children’s class.
This would never happen back home in Canada. The laws prohibit alcohol consumption on school grounds, for liability reasons. Here, the French think, it is the person’s responsibility to monitor alcohol intake and to act responsibly. I like to think, children will not become alcoholics from watching adults drink, but except drinking as social. Not a single person left drunk or became out of hand. It was all very civilized.
Alfonz and I however decide we need to check out the summer solstice party at the square, just for a minute.
It was already 11:00 pm. We thought, just one beer, when we noticed our Canadian guests Kristen and Joel coming up after dinner at Provence, the Italian restaurant adjacent the square. Ok, so lets order a round.
The set up at the square was a bit bizarre. ‘The Grille’ restaurant on the square set up a live band facing up the square towards Rue Gambetta, while ‘The Cave de la Pace’ and ‘Cafe de la Paix’ paired up to hire a DJ for the night that faced towards their storefronts and pretty tables set up for patrons. Both had big areas to dance.
The war of the music began. Once they started you could hear one song over top of the other, so naturally they started to turn up the music. And so it went until they were both at maximum capacity. Note that Capestang’s square is not huge. The locals living in the old village core must have been livid. If you can’t beat them, join them, I always say.
The locals stayed to enjoy the war of the music. The children travelled between the two cafes to whoever had the best song playing. Watching tourists leave, they probably thought Capestang crazy to have musical venues so close together, I thought, wow look around, it is mostly French people in our square.
I saw familiar faces from the children’s school. Parents with their babies, I saw the local vendors out with their wives and even our retired neighbours showed up until far past midnight.
I asked the other English speaking local at the event, where are all the English tonight? He said they went to the bigger festival in the next town over in Montady.
It was rare to hear French at every table on the first day of summer. Last year we went to Le Chat Qui Pech restaurant to hear Gordon sing, and you could hear English at nearly every table. It was a rare treat indeed for our Canadian guests to practice their French. Not only do we have a 10% English speaking population in Capestang, but also a huge tourist drive made up of mainly English speakers.
Summer solstice celebration ran throughout France on June 21, with musical venues at each. With wine, food and music, sprinkled with a little local drama, it made for a memorable evening indeed!
Granted we should have been good parents and taken our kids home before 12:30 am especially after 7:00-11:00 at the after school event. C’est la vie!