In November, the Fête de Beaujolais (or Festival of Beaujolais en anglais) celebrates the release of the Beaujolais brand’s new wine of the year with free tastings. Oddly enough, they choose to release it on a Wednesday night at midnight, probably because they know you have to teach a class very early in the next morning, yet that you are also irresistibly drawn to the promise of free wine, and because they hate you. So despite obligations, many of the other assistants and I went at about 9:30 pm, yet suffered anticlimax: there was an empty stage and a lot of event tents that cost money to get into and only sold food, which we didn’t need. So what do ten or so creative English assistants do when faced with nothing to do and a distinct lack of wine? Head to the bars in Vieux Lyon, of course.
|Vieux Lyon at night.|
Vieux Lyon translates as Old Lyon, because the buildings are still from the middle ages, and the narrow streets are all cobblestone. It is without a doubt my favorite part of the city.Vieux Lyon also hosts a wide variety of bars, both English and French. And by English, I mean legit British. We headed to one such pub, where the bartender spoke not only spoke English, but had this sign posted near the register:
At about 11:30 we returned to the festival and a crowd had gathered. A parade rolled the barrels of this year’s new wine down the street with torches and a band in tow, and most of the audience formed a conga line, hip swiveling and sometimes even singing together as they trotted alongside the procession. (Did you know that alongside was one word, according to my spell check? Yeah, I didn’t either.) I have to admit the impromptu conga line was my favorite part.
Then were was a lot of getting rained on while watching fireworks, getting rained on while waiting for the wine to be dispersed, and getting rained on while fighting through the crowd for free wine. My hair was drenched, and I was being crushed by other French folk, but we were laughing and we found fun in the (rather soggy) chaos as we were squished and compacted in the mob. The wine was actually quite good, and we had a fun time walking around in the rain and hanging out by the giant statue of a man riding a horse. A little later on, we noticed a strange phallic shape coming off of the side of the statue for absolutely no reason. We were concerned:
My friend who had studied abroad last year in the same city saw my photo on Facebook and gave me her response photo, taken in front of the exact same statue, also inebriated on good French wine:
|Same place, different time.|
It made me laugh out loud. Good to see that my friends and I are only continuing a longstanding and noble tradition of wine-induced public shenanigans.