Meeting people at the Repas des Anciens

It was a boiling hot day but Bear and I walked to the Salle de Fete to find that we were in the ‘little room’ this time.

It overlooks the stream but, although the door was wide open, it was already very warm inside. As it was midday there were lots of people to go round and greet before we found a place to sit down.

The noise level is very noticeable in this room and it soon rose to a deafening roar. Eventually the aperitif was served and people near us started to mutter that it wasn’t champagne but a ‘cremant’.  Oh dear, that must be sacrilege in this region,  Champagne-Ardennes!

Opposite us was a young girl in a wheelchair with her parents, new members of the club. I thought she was probably a victim of multiple sclerosis but her father later explained that it was the result of an accident when she was six months old. Her cot was in the back of their car and another driver crashed into them. She was thrown out of the car and found in a ditch with severe head injuries.

It was a Sunday and so, although she was taken to Reims, nothing was done immediately. Eventually they operated but she remains a ‘baby,’ incapable of doing anything for herself. She could go into a home on a permanent basis but her mother would not permit it. She just goes for two afternoons a week to give her a break. She went to special school until she was 18 but for the last 21 years (she is now 39) her mother has coped alone.

However, all these years of selfless devotion mean that the mother is not entitled to a pension!  “Maybe when she is 65 she will get something but it makes me very angry.” said her father.

The only times when the noise of conversation abated was when food was served. The menu consisted of Salade Landaise (magret de canard, gesiers, egg and lettuce),  Trou Normande (apple sorbet laced generously with calvados), Joues de Porc et ses legumes (pigs’ cheeks on a bed of vegetables), Cheese and salad, a variety of ice-creams with fruit coulis and, finally coffee and brioche.

The caterer was Alain (who had been responsible for the wedding we went to recently) and I certainly didn’t envy him working in the kitchen on a hot day.

Three members of the club acted as waiters and waitress and everyone mucked in with clearing the plates.  

The lady in the pink top sitting next to me is the ‘matriarch’ of our local ice-cream maker. She was widowed two years ago and passed the running of the business over to her son and her husband’s brother. She has moved to a smaller house but is having trouble selling the enormous ‘maison de maitre’ on the edge of the village. She was proudly telling us that her grandaughter is now involved in the business and there was a photo of her on the front of a  magazine she was passing round.

Opposite us was a couple we know quite well. The husband  is always full of fun and enjoys teasing Bear but the wife has been very ill with cancer and didn’t come to the last meal. it was great to see her looking much better and tucking into her food with pleasure.




7 Responses to “Meeting people at the Repas des Anciens”

  1. BearNaked Says:

    That sounds like a nice way to spend an afternoon and the meal must have been delicious. Too bad that it was so warm.
    I find if I am in a warm room that I can’t eat too much, is it the same for you?

    I’m afraid it takes a great deal to make me lose my appetite. The nice thing about these meals is that they are very leisurely. Yesterday we started eating at 1.30 and coffee wasn’t served until well after 5 o’clock!

  2. Zuleme Says:

    Sounds like fun, having a whole community come together to eat. Like New England church suppers.

    Well, it’s just for the over 60’s club members but thuis weekend it’s the village fete so everyone can join in the festivities.

  3. Little old me Says:

    We don’t do anything like that here.

    What a shame. I can recommend the idea.

  4. lilalia Says:

    I loved reading about the outing and the photos helped to imagine the long afternoon spent with good food and friends. That’s what I call good living.

    Yes, you’re right. As LOM said this sort of thing doesn’t often happen in England.

  5. Keith Says:

    You always seem to be going on jollies! The only place for us old ‘uns to go to here is the ‘Salvation Army Soup Kitchen’ for a bowl of gruel, a sticky bun, and a cup of weak tea; and that costs the princely sum of £1. Disgusting!

    Keith, I keep suggesting you should retire to France. What about it?

  6. guyana gyal Says:

    I don’t understand why the mother will not get any pension, how weird.

    Keith, what you have to do is encourage your cat to snitch more chicken and you can invite some folks and have a big party.

    It seems if you haven’t paid contributions all your working life they are not keen to give you anything in your old age, G-G.

  7. tillylil Says:

    a good time was had by all!

    You bet, Tracey!

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