Sunday 30 August 2015

Fête de la Saint Louis - Aigues Mortes

When planning our stay in Langudoc-Rousslain I decided this year (being our third holiday in the beautiful region) I would research local events and festivals taking place across the area during our stay. During my research I discovered that the Fête de la Saint Louis was taking place and celebrations were being held in Aigues Mortes and Sete. Setes celebrations included Water jousting events (an incredible sight to behold!), Markets and Fireworks displays. Aigues Mortes pays hommage to Saint Louis, the founder of the Medieval fortress town, with a weekend long Medieval Festival, harking back to the ancient traditions of the town and Frances rich history, featuring; jousting, processions, theatre, music and feasting (to name but a few activities). Needless to say I was sold, we were off to Aigues Mortes to feast like it was 1272.
We had visited Aigues Mortes previously in 2012, and taken in a relaxing warm day in the sleepy town, visited its museums, salt flats and taken a walk around its ancient streets taking in its profound beauty. But that was October, and this was August, and the largest annual event in Aigues Mortes calendar. The contrast in atmosphere was immense. The entire town was buzzing with life and excitement. The locals and those with genuine Medieval skills, knowledge and craftsmanship were easily identifiable. Clad in an array of very convincing, highly detailed Medieval costumes which identified the role of their character for the weekend, each was clearly filled with lots of personality and care. My favourite, a delightful old lady who was one of the lepers, clearly having the time of her life.

The Medieval alter-egos of these townsfolk began the festival with a huge procession into the town, when after a vast silence, the gates are flung open and in marches everyone from fire breathers, belly dancers, merchants, lepers and musicians to soldiers, knights, bishops, the mayor and of course the King. This huge ceremonial event climaxes in the square with the King being presented the key to the town.

Throughout the day there were various events taking place across the town; theatre, music and dancing, feasting, jousting, demonstrations by people skilled in ancient techniques; such as Iron mongery, herbal medicine, carving, calligraphy and a huge Medieval market, selling everything from animal skulls to pies to jewelry.

There was so much to be discovered and enjoyed across the town, with everyones beaming happiness and enjoyment a delight to behold.
I had a wonderful day absorbing the sights, sounds and scents of Medieval Aigues Mortes. A truly wonderful experience in an incredible place. Put it on your 100 things to do before you die list, there's no chance you'll regret it.

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