Fête médiévale à Belvès

Each year in early August the city of Belvès turns its clock back to Medieval times, this year the Fête was held on the 6th and 7th August. On the 6th August was a medieval banquet and on the 7th August was the Fête Fantastique.

I have been wanting to visit Belvès at this particular time of year for a long time, due to the fact that the whole city recreates the Medieval period. Everyone from the shop owners, restaurants, market place, local people and children are all dressed in costume. Hand made merchandise such as leather goods, wooden toys, shields, pots and pans, costumes, jewellery, street food etc. are offered for sale at the stalls that line the market square and byways.

 

IMG_20160807_101407This was the head of the procession through the Medieval quarter of the city. On the left are the English Knights and on the right a French knight and his Princess.

 

IMG_20160807_100958The Knights and Princess set off and were followed by clergy, musicians, pagan dancers, people of the city in costume, Vikings and beggars.

 

IMG_20160807_102901The Vikings were called “Berserker’s” and they lived up to their name at every opportunity they would suddenly stop for combat manoeuvre’s and go berserk by hacking at each others shields, the object to beat your opponent to the ground.

 

IMG_20160807_104406Very authentic looking beggars.

 

Fête médiévale à BelvèsGorgeous costumes of the pagan dancers.

 

DSCN1630I was approached by “a wicked step mother” wanting me to taste her rosy red apple. It is not everyday that you get to play Snow White!

 

DSCN1641There were various encampments around the city, this was part of the Viking camp. Where you could watch a sword being made, it was totally fascinating watching the blacksmith at work, the skill of his workmanship was wonderful.

 

IMG_20160807_113654Again in the Viking camp was a wood turner, creating table legs, door knobs etc.

 

Unfortunately, all the afternoon events seemed to start at roughly the same time so we had to pick which event we really wanted to see the most, the Knights won. We could have seen the falconry display and the Viking Combats at a later time but we had to get back home, but no loss, we will just return another year.

 

DSCN1649Cheval Spectacle – was a series of equestrian competitions between the English and the French, to be fare I think that it was a draw. Of course the arrogant Knight was Sir Steven dressed in English colours. There seemed to be a lot of British people in the audience, they certainly gave Sir Steven a lot of encouragement when he rode past at full speed to cut apples in two with his sword. He also won shooting an arrow from his horse while galloping by a picture of a wild boar. The French Queen won the silk purse, defeating the English Knight at the last minute.

It was a great day out and we can recommend the Fête médiévale à Belvès very highly, a must to see and a great experience.

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Trapped in our home by a large rotisserie oven!

When I came down stairs this morning I could smell the aroma of roast chicken and paella, then I noticed how dark it was in the lounge. On investigation it was found that the ‘promenade en gastronomie’ had started early with a very large rotisserie being placed at our front door. Surly they had noticed that someone was living in the house, planters at the front, the house being painted recently!

All right I thought, try the side door, but no, a large van was parked there blocking the door. At this moment I thought that perhaps we could arrange a delivery of paella through the letter box, when the van had to move due to it blocking access not only to us but to the entrance of the supermarket. It did not go very far, it just moved further up the lane to block the gate to our courtyard and preventing anyone from accessing the lane and houses further along. Food parcels to the family who were holidaying in a home at the top of the lane did spring to mind, but no… after hearing a few well chosen words of French the family had made their escape.

Our turn to escape through the side door and into the square.

DSCN1603Our front door is hidden by the large rotisserie, we were also not able to open the shutters for fear of sending the large pans of paella to the ground!

 

DSCN1602Stalls of food and drink covered the square

 

Balade en GastronomieAlso along the road and around the bend, ice cream, sorbets, honey, wine, garlic, organic foods, cooked food, bread and cakes.

 

DSCN1599A few days ago a small portable forest was being erected in the square for the truffle dog demonstration. This event is always entertaining because the saucisson seller has a stall nearby so that the truffle dog can not focus its efforts on finding the truffles. After various prompting and pointing from the truffier the dog was encouraged to find a truffle or two and get its reward of a dog chew.

 

DSCN1604A brilliant surprise in the afternoon was the young man playing the bagpipes. He was so good that one man came over and dropped his wallet into the boys hat. Encouraged by this and shouts from his family he played two more tunes, wonderful.


Event:- Belves Fête Medieval on the 6th and 7th August

Belvès

Belvès is a medieval “bastide” town perched on a rocky spur above the Nauze Valley. It is about 20 Kilometres West and a little North of Daglan. In early August the town reverts to the 15th Century for their summer festival where you can see falconry, jugglers, costumes etc. We have not yet had the opportunity to see this spectacle but we will be definitely going to see the medieval festival when we move to France, we can not wait!

From the car park (at the bottom of this picture) walk up to the town square

The way in

The way in

This photo was taken at the top of the road leading up to the town square. On the left you can just see the market hall.

Belves market square

Belves market square

The 15 Century covered market hall. There is a pillory chain on one of the pillars which was put around the neck of criminals for at least two to three days. Thank goodness this does not happen today. Market days are on each Saturday in the Market hall with evening markets in the months of July and August. The evening markets are for anyone to buy food to eat at the many tables next to the market. Bring your own napkin, knife and fork.

Belves market hall

Belves market hall

Narrow streets full of shops in the medieval quarter. We have been twice to Belves arriving each time at lunch time so the shops were either shutting or shut, the next time we will go earlier in the day. Be warned that in France all shops close from about 12.30 to 2 or even 4 o’clock This includes tourist sites, smaller supermarkets, everything except cafes and restaurants.

Lively and narrow streets

Lively and narrow streets

Belves is famous for its seven bell towers and is listed as “one of the most beautiful villagers in France”.

One of seven bell towers

One of seven bell towers

This is a private Chateau.

Chateau.

Chateau.

Gorgeous 15 and 16 Century buildings line narrow streets.

15 and 16 Century buildings abound

15 and 16 Century buildings abound

Hidden Gems of Belves

The “troglodyte” caves

From the town square you will see a bell tower with a clock on the side, go to the side entrance and you will find the tourist office. Here you buy your ticket and arrange a tour guide to the caves. We joined a large tour that was just about to leave, you can not go to the caves unless it is with a guided tour of people.

Finding the tourist office

Finding the tourist office

The entrance to the caves is found in a narrow street off the main square, seen on the right hand side of this photo, just beyond the motorbike. It is well hidden although not too far to walk from the tourist office, which is located in the street to the left of this photo

Hidden entrance

Hidden entrance

The cave dwellings are where the poorest people lived between the 13th and 18th Century. You can see the interior of eight cave dwellings on the guided tour.

Neat kitchen shelves

Neat kitchen shelves

Light is at a premium so you can just see if you squint a little, the spinning wheel which was used in one of the caves.

Home industry

Home industry

A large fireplace where people cooked and sat around for warmth.

Comfort around the fireplace

Comfort around the fireplace

This is a water system that was used in one of the later caves. Water was gathered from the water which would seep from above ground to trickle along the wooden tough and drip into a container below.

Running water, troglodyte style

Running water, troglodyte style