That evening, the square had been filled with tables covered with large squares of white paper, set with plates, knives , forks, wine glasses and serviettes - dinner for the whole village – and visiting guests. It was the Fête Votive, the annual celebration held in all Provençal villages which celebrates the patron saint of the village. We were fortunate to be invited to this celebration by one of our neighbors in Sablet, who had worked in Villedieu for many years and so, had many friends there. Dinner was to be a “Grande Aioli” – a specialty, which we had yet to experience. When we drove into Villedieu for the festivities we were greeted by a rain shower, which had everyone looking nervous, but fortunately it was brief, as many rain showers in this area are.
It turned out to be a warm, balmy evening. Dinner commenced with cool, sweet, locally grown melon before the Grande Aioli. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but what a wonderful surprise! This unassuming, yet delightfully fresh meal consisted of cool poached Cod, and steamed potatoes, carrots, green beans, cauliflower and a hard boiled egg, all served with the most delicious, most garlicky, freshly made mayonnaise known as Aioli. The fish was fresh, fresh, fresh. The vegetables crisp and flavorful. This dish became an instant favorite with us – so simple yet so delicious – so very Provençal. The main course was so delicious that I don’t even remember what desert was!
Then, it was time for the dancing to start. Towards the end of dinner, the band took its place on stage. The music was fun, upbeat, alternating French, English, Spanish and sometimes Italian! We were amazed at the versatility of this group – they sang everything from Provençal songs to American rock. The music and dancing went on until the early hours of the morning. We danced, talked with our friends, learned about a wonderful special meal, met new friends and saw how festive the annual village celebration was – friends and neighbors getting together to just enjoy a summer evening with a great meal, lively music good company. I don’t know what time it finished, but we left at around 1.30am and went home to our nice quiet beds.
Sablet en Fete!
In all our years of visiting France, this was our first experience with the “Fete Votive” – but – walking down to Sablet village the next morning, we stopped to talk with one of our neighbors and told her about the fete we had attended the night before. She asked, “…. and did you enjoy it?” “Oh yes, very much,” we replied. “Bien, bien” she said - “Sablet’s Fete Votive is next week and it will last for three days, with music and dancing every night …” That will be fun!
During the next week we thoroughly enjoyed going down into our village – having dinner at one of the restaurants and listening to music with its amazing (for our small village) show (was this Sablet or Las Vegas??!!), seeing the kids having fun on the helicopter ride and eating their way through gigantic masses of “barbe de papa” (candy floss). It was a carnival like side of Sablet we had not yet seen, all ages from small children on the rides or ring toss, groups of teenagers, villagers and visitors all having fun and making the most of the festivities that go on well into the night!
This is early August in Provence – high summer weather and celebrations which bring a whole new meaning to “Hot August Night”.
"Il fait vachement chaud" - It Is Reeeaaalllly Hot!
In the last three years, Sablet's Fete Votive has expanded to five days.
Kicking it off this year on Friday evening, was an old favorite
- Country Dancing. It is so much fun to hear the Country music
and see the dancers dressed in cowboy boots and hat!
A little bit of Country in the heart of Provence!
Below is the "affiche" showing the schedule of events
for the 2011 Sablet Fete Votive
- Bonne Fete a tous!