WANDERINGS - AUXERRE - DAYS 2 & 3
Saturday dawned bright and sunny (and early with lots of people that had spent the night in our motel/hotel leaving to continue their journeys south), which was great news for the wedding! Off all the days away, Saturday was definitely the warmest and sunniest. After breakfast in the nearby supermarket and a picnic lunch on the grass next to the hotel car park (oh we know how to treat ourselves well!!) we hurried off to get ready for the 330pm wedding.
Weddings in France obviously have different traditions to those in the UK and as always it was lovely to be participating in the traditions of another country and to share happy days with your friends. In the Auxerre region, the groom (Gary) and his family wait outside the Mairie (town hall) on the bride (Celine) and her family arriving. They walk parade style from her parents home with all their relatives and friends following on and meet the groom before entering the town hall. Celine's parents are part of a group who take part in traditional French dances (and indeed Gary and Celine met at Scottish Country dancing classes in Edinburgh) so Celine and her family were following the group's musicians and all the dancers who were dressed in traditional costume and playing the local style bagpipes and accordian, it was fun!
After a round of congratulations everyone entered the town hall and the short marriage ceremony began. After it was over, everyone exited the church and we followed a bagpiper (a Scot's girl living in Paris) Pied Piper style to the reception, in the local village hall and gardens. Photos were taken and a drinks reception held. Unlike in the UK, where extra guests will be invited to the evening reception after the marriage and the meal, extra guests attend the wedding ceremony and a drinks reception and leave before the meal.
Dinner started at 730pm and 7 courses later ended at midnight - after a number of speeches (not traditional in France) which were a hilarious mixture of French and English and had us all laughing and the first dance! The food was amazing and included a buffet of fish and meat dishes, sorbet to cleanse the pallet, veal and the most spectacular wedding cake ever! It was a traditional "Croque en Bouche" - a mountain of profiteroles covered cerimoniously and spectacularly by the chef. On top of the cake stood small fimo models of Gary and Celine - almost perfect in every detail!
Following the meal, we somehow managed to dance - firstly to a Scottish ceilidh band by way of Paris and then to a French traditional dance band so we Scots learnt some new dances and taught the French a few - Orcadian Strip the Willow, Dashing White Sergeant, Canadian Barn Dance etc.
The whole thing finished about 4am and we walked the 2kms home finally stumbling into bed about 430am - legs still twitching from all the dancing!
The day after the wedding we all headed back for the left-overs party! We had fun dancing a little more, eating a little more (as if I really needed more!!) and taking photos for the guest book - really interesting idea - when all the people had to pose with an empty picture frame! Trying to get 10 of us in one frame was fun - it involved us all lying on the floor heads together in a starfish shape! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of it as I was lying on the floor at the time!
All this was followed by yet more food (can you see a theme here) - dinner at a fondue/alpine restaurant in Auxerre! On leaving the restaurant we got snowed on by the snow machine above the door - very amusing!!