Last weekend saw a significant event at Courmettes. As we’ve probably mentioned elsewhere in these blogs, Courmettes was bought for the Protestant church in France in the 1920s. It is pretty much agreed that it never really became the church centre that the original purchaser intended. It was always the intention when A Rocha took over the management, for it to become a focal point both for Christian environmental work and thinking, and also for the many different churches in the Côte d’Azur.
After an enormous amount of planning, last weekend saw the first ‘Fête’ for the churches. Despite what you might think ‘fête’ does not easily translate into English. A fair? A festival?
However you translate it, for us the event started on Friday when we arrived to help with the final cleaning, moving furniture and other ‘stuff’, and general preparations. The event actually started on Saturday when four donkeys, accompanied by adults and children, set out to climb up to Courmettes from Tourrettes-sur-Loup. The donkeys stayed all weekend and gave much pleasure to the children who rode them.
The weather wasn’t as good as we’d hoped – the cloud was down on the Pic de Courmettes and everyone was in long sleeves and pullovers. But despite that, there was a communal picnic lunch, before the afternoon’s activities got underway.
There were lots of events including various walks (Chris did a geology and natural history walk on both Saturday and Sunday in English and franglais). There was an excellent display of photographs of the sheep of Courmettes and the person who manages them. We suppose shepherdess is the correct English translation of bergère, but it gives all the wrong impression. Her partner is the champion sheepdog handler of France and gave an exhibition with one of his dogs of his skills. With the low cloud, it was a bit like Wales.
Other activities were making bread and brioche in Courmettes’ wood-fired oven (which were eaten later, and proved delicious), children’s crafts and a number of workshops.
Our Dutch volunteer Esther has produced some beautiful environmental posters which formed the basis of a game for children. Later there was a concert (in the wedding marquee rather than outside, due to threatened rain) given by Youth with a Mission (Jeunesse en Mission), at which various people talked about their faith.
And there was plenty of food! Four enormous barbecues were set up on Saturday, to roast Courmettes lamb, a grand meal which was supposed to be for about 70 but ended up being for nearly 90 as extra tickets were sold (the latecomers didn’t get the roast potatoes but we did manage to give everyone ice cream). On the Sunday around 70 of us had pizzas from the wood-oven, made by a good friend of Courmettes from one of the local churches.
Over 50 people stayed the night and on Sunday morning there were more walks and donkey rides. In the afternoon a service was held, with representatives of different churches taking the prayers, readings etc.
Perhaps the best thing of the weekend is the way that people from different churches got to know each other, and we look forward to more events like this.