Echoes from the fife and drum awoke me from my sieste. As this is not a sound that we hear everyday, not even in Provence, I grabbed my coat, wrapped my scarf tight and headed out, drawn to the sound like one of Peter Pan's children. A crowd surrounded the corners of the Place du Forum, just a few yards from my front door.
Throngs of women, dressed in the traditional costume, L'Arlesienne, nodded their heads together in gossip, pointing discretely to companions across the way, comparing fabrics and hairstyles. Lines of children in miniature costumes filled the inner square, shifting about from foot to foot, trying their best not to tug at their perfectly draped shawls.
With a muffled canon boom, the drum choir struck a new beat. From my view over shoulders and above heads, I could see the tiny bodies start to sway, lead hand in hand, guided by an adult, an abat-mage.
Under arms upraised like bridges they would duck, then turn and turn again. Snaking into a circle, with a hop and a skip that flowed like the waves of the Mediterranean. Une Farandole Provençale. A mix of medieval dances, it is both utterly charming and graceful.
Like 'Crack the Whip', those at the end are pulled along at a greater speed by the force of the others. Little ballet slippers barely touched the ground, squeaks of delighted fear rose to a crescendo as the last dancer twirled away. And in the parting crowds I spied...the old maid santon with her wool batting come to life!
I have no idea why this particular farandole took place but I am sure it has to do with the fast approaching Fêtes. How lovely to see history living and breathing in these beautiful young girls. Something to make my heart sing, with the lyrics to a farandole, "Tout est joyeux dans le ciel de Provence!" All is joyful under the Provençal skies!