Some visitors assume that French people are not that socially minded. They see all of those houses with closed shutters. The stern look the French sometimes use when seeing strangers. The quiet roads and lanes where you rarely see people walking. On occasion the slightly distrusting look they appear to give us Brits, (although it is hardly surprising as we have been fighting each other for a thousand years). Well, nothing could be further from the truth!
It is not just big events like Bastille Day when the French like to let their hair down. They just love a party and every Town or Village runs many community events for the families of local inhabitants on a regular basis.
Our Town is a very progressive one and is at the forefront of making things happen. Things are beginning to stir in Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure Ville as summer approaches. There can always be found reasons to celebrate but we have quite a unique one. First for us on the social calendar is a Festival to celebrate the building of a Bypass.
What! Celebrate a road you might ask? Well yes, that is just what we do every year and this party goes on for two days.
Travelling in France
France’s location makes it a major highway route across Europe. In fact, 2000 years ago in Roman times our Town then called ‘Cassanoialos’ used to be an important crossing point for the Roman legions travelling across France. The Romans built strong paved roads for heavy traffic and marching armies designed to last a 100 years. Traces of these ancient roads still exist locally even now. Today, the town retains its strategic location as a convenient cross point and, although great for tourists, this can bring problems.
The internal combustion engine- bad news for France
Unfortunately many French Towns and villages were blighted following the introduction of the internal combustion engine. Roads built for people, hay carts and animals are now plagued with heavy lorries and car traffic trundling through the high street and side roads as they made their way in all directions. Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure was one of those Towns. For many years traffic brought noise and pollution and just crossing the road or pulling out of your driveway was a high risk occupation. After many years of lobbying the politicians a new bypass road was built which took the heavy traffic away from the Town. That year was 2003.
Big deal, little deal
Ah, no big deal you might say! After all they are building roads all of the time aren’t they? Yes, but for local residents this road was one of the most important events to affect local life. Suddenly life changed for the better, almost overnight. Although some people had difficulty sleeping having got used to the 24 hour noise of the traffic. The peace and quiet was absolutely deafening. Even if the marching Roman army went by nothing could not disturb us now!
So, what do you do when something great happens which affects just about everybody? You throw a big party and celebrate! And that is what we do. Every year the barricades go up and roads through and around the Town are closed off. Shops bring out their goods to display in the road; rows of Bric a Brac stalls line the lanes. Bands play, Dancers dance, different events are held, restaurants open their doors, erect outside bars, tents go up with tables and benches for people to eat and drink, meet and talk and have fun. Most years we have a Circus or a Fun Fair. Now, just how cool is that? This year it was held on the 7th & 8th May. You think the French are boring? Forget it; they really know how to have a throw a party! Trust me.