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A Small Town Celebrates Its Roots

September 15th, 2018 · No Comments · France, Languedoc, tourism, Uncategorized

The bells rang on the hour, as they always do, here in “our” French village.

And then a few minutes later the bells at the 300-year-old church rang out again, and this was a gusher of clanging and banging that could mean only one thing at 4 p.m. on a Saturday:

A wedding!

And the little town of 600 or so people enjoyed a bit of renewal, celebrating en masse as a daughter of the village came back from America to celebrate her new life on the other side of the ocean.

Like many of France’s innumerable villages, ours is fading a bit. Most of the jobs are outside the town, and young people leave the village to pursue them, perhaps also hoping to move into a modern house that would not look out of place in some American suburbs.

In our region, those who remain behind are mostly involved in agriculture, and especially wine, or are retired.

The town school is down to about 40 students in two classrooms, and it is rare to see children on the streets playing, or prime-of-life parents out and about.

It is fun to hear the children at recess.

It is even more fun to celebrate a baptism or a wedding.

In this case, the bride is the granddaughter of one of the most prominent women in the town, one known by local people and expatriates alike. Her mother is 97 and also still lives in the town. For a day, four generations of one little town were in church together.

Technically, it was not a wedding: In France, only the government can legally marry people. The local French referred to it as a “benediction” — essentially a blessing for the young marrieds who had come all the way from North Carolina.

But the connection to the past was made clear.

The priest let everyone know that the parents of the bride had been married in the same church some 29 years ago. And that the bride had been baptized in the same church 27 years ago.

This is the church where construction began in 1703 and finished in 1708. Most of a century ahead of the French Revolution. Two centuries before World War I, when the village paid a heavy toll in the lives of its sons: Their names are carved into the memorial on the edge of town for the “morts (dead) pour France”.

Today, though, it was happiness. A bride, bridesmaids, a groom and groomsmen, a crowded church, a sunny day, wine and beer available in the cafe across from to the church.

The young Americans who were part of the wedding party must have felt like they were stepping back in time, feeling the age of the town and the weight of history that accumulates over the centuries, here in the Old World.

When the priest concluded his work, the bells were set loose again, and the ringing of them no doubt brought a smile to many faces, and sent the friends and family of the newlyweds on to a private dinner somewhere in this little town, or another nearby.




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