I ask Carole et Jerome what this whole cocagnes thing is all about. They bicker good-naturedly in French for a moment before admitting they’re not sure.. It’s just a big nuisance as far as they’re concerned. Kind of like a parade to a New Yorker, I guess.
According to my good friend, Google, Cocagne either has something to do with an ideal life of indulgence or being cockney. A commenter on my previous post (thanks, Sirius), did some research and found that it has something to do with a life of pleasure. Or climbing a greased pole. I’m going to go with ideal life of indulgent pleasure.
The festivities start with some sort of presentation on the stage in front of the Hotel de Ville. Women with parasols, long dresses and Miss America type sashes that read “Cocagne”. The men on stage are wearing bow ties and hats, I assume from the same time period. They seem to be giving each other awards. Perhaps for winning the greased pole climbing contest?
A series of rock bands perform–really bad ones that are only slightly better than Courtney Love. Sausages, pommes frites and beer are sold in the parking lot and the construction site has become a lovely street bistro serving grilled meat, veggies, beer wine and ice cream. The carousel is moving and the children on it screech with excitement.
Knowing that the real fete doesn’t start until tomorrow, I go inside. But soon, I’m drawn back out by a band that’s actually quite good for a French band (no offense to the French, but they suck at Rock and Roll, and Jerome will back me up on this). Oncle Oedipe, is the name, and I can only assume the reason I’ve never heard of them before is either because they’re French or because none of the members are particularly “hot” looking.
Young girls are dancing and screaming like groupies with clothes on, I’m mesmerized by a little blond boy about four or five who is totally rocking out as his mother feeds him cotton candy like a Roman slave feeding a fidgety Roman Emperor grapes. Seriously, this kid has moves. Even the way he grabs at the cotton candy as his mother lowers it towards his mouth is completely in time with the music done done with a rhythmic flourish. No doubt about it, the kid is a rock star.
After Oncle Oedipe finishes their set, I take a stroll and discover that Van Gogh Park has been transformed into a petting zoo with rabbits, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, donkeys and two huge unpenned bulls standing by the far wall. Children make animal sounds (I assume they’re animal sounds, they bear no resemblance to the sound American livestock makes), trying to draw the smaller creatures out from their tiny pens.
The goats are petrified, the donkey is accommodating and the pig obliviously snuffles in the dirt for imaginary truffles. The bulls recline like Odalisque in a shady corner.
Judging by the pamphlets, fliers and posters, the real action doesn’t start until tomorrow. Perhaps then I’ll figure out what this cocagnes thing is all about. I fall asleep with visions of glaces et boissons dancing in my head.
Filed under: Animals, Auvers sur Oise, culture, france on a budget, french culture, Language, tourism, travel, travel humor, Val d' Oise Tagged: | Auvers sur Oise, fair, Fete, fete de la cocagne, french village, Language, Living in france, lost in translation, Oncle Oedipe, travel