The Bank Holiday weekend arrived with a bang in the Hérault and festivals, markets and marching bands were the order of the day. We of course were already in the mood to join in, not exactly the Jubilee but we attended a convivial, boisterous friendly family event in our neighbouring village St Geniès de Fontedit (in Occitan Sant Ginièis de Fontarecha), both forms on the sign when entering the village. The actual inhabitants are known as les Saint-Geniessois, like the inhabitants of Béziers are known as les Biterroiss. I digress.
The event hasn’t been held for the last couple of years because of Covid and it was lovely to see whole families out again enjoying the glorious weather and all the treats on offer.
It’s a big occasion with artisans and vendors from the Hérault and Aude packing up the streets with their colourful stands of potteries, hats, jewellery, bags…..and fabulous produce, honey, nut brittle (praline), cheeses, macaroons and biscuits and of course wines.
The star of the day and the emblem of the village is the frog. There’s a frog fountain, frog motifs painted on the bus shelters, frog designs on the walls and, in the canteen area, the longest queue was for les cuisses de grenouille ….imported from Indonesia nowadays. I think there is a place for discussing the ethics of eating frog legs but wiser and more informed people than I can take that up. I could see people giggling at me trying to grab a photo of this great delicacy at 7 euros a box. I had no intention of joining the end of that queue even if I am British…you know what they say about us Brits, if there’s a queue we’ll join it. Instead I chatted up two lovely local ladies at the front who were pleased to let me take a pic and even offered me a taste. I declined gracefully. I’m a self confessed wuss, no snails, no frogs there are plenty of other things to eat. They were cooked in a garlic, herb sauce and I’m told were delicious .
St Geniès is another historic, circulade village like ours next door, Murviel lès Béziers. These villages are laid out in a series of concentric circles culminating with a church and a chateau at the centre. The parish church, built between the XIV and XVII centuries, is dedicated to St Geniès who was the Bishop of Maguelone, a little island off the coast near Montpellier and who lived at the end of the VI and into the VII century
I was very taken by this little garden outside the church, finding the statue very charming with the roses and the touching story behind the crucifix.
The engraving translated reads..."This cross, erected in 1844 was restored and completed of the image of Christ in 1943 during the dark days of the war" and in Latin "from the cross to victory".
Like all of these villages there is a prominent war memorial dedicated to its lost sons during both world wars.
By this time we were getting very hot ,it was 30°C so we decided to leave the revellers, stopping at the old chateau on the way back to the car.
There is so much to discover in this area. It just keeps giving and on our doorstep. I really love how modern day life merges with history, traditions and culture.
Inspired by some aspects of the theme of the day, notably the garlic herb butter and frites but replacing the star of the day with seafood I leave you with dinner... a langoustine and prawn salad.