Friday evening we went to the opening ceremony for the Droles de Noel (yep, drole as in funny) at the Place de la Republique here in Arles. You might have already gleaned that Christmas here is less about the mad rush of shopping than it is about slowing down, taking time to properly see out the end of the year. And I could definitely feel that collective sigh of relief at the festivities. We arrived early to get a good spot for our lovely friend Maya, a perennially sparkling eyed three year old who was accompanied by her grandparents. The delightful aroma of spiced hot wine wafted by occasionally to keep us warm, along with much mitten crunching and feet tapping until the lights dimmed and the music swelled.
It is just one of those quirky circumstances that makes our little town so interesting but Arles is home to the Groupe F, whose mind-blowing pyrotechnics have lit up the opening ceremonies of several Olympic games and many international celebrations. Luckily for us, they love their home town and share their artistry with us a few times a year. Truly, our Bastille Day celebration is not to be beat. The Droles de Noel was on a smaller scale than say, the ceremony celebrating the 120 years of the Eiffel Tower but still was delightful enough to leave little Maya gasping. My tired old camera (I curse you! I can't wait until you are replaced at Christmas!) could NOT keep up, so I will sparingly share the many wobbly beyond meaning photos that I took. After jets of sparks and a symphony of flames, human literally lit up like Christmas trees and a glowing man made out of fire, the town hall was transformed into a giant "cadeaux"--a fitting symbol for the gift that Groupe F gave to us.
To get a far, far better idea of why this evening was special, take a peek at Groupe F!