Monday, 31 August 2009

Hunting The Real France

Last time I was in france I left just before the season started (Aug 15th) and i reported on the European hunting tradition known as Battue - where whole villages hunt and feast together in a cooperative effort. This time I was a little nearer the mark, and I left only a couple of days after the season began. Bah!

I met these chaps by the side of the road one morning while I was cycling through vineyards and fields of sunflowers on my way to the bread shop - freshly made bread every day is still an article of faith in france. A proof that the modern world can be held at bay by sticking to your guns.

I may speak very little French but reading a couple of hunting mags had given me a start. I wont attempt to recreate my attempts to escape my shocking monoglotism in print, but it went something like this:

SBW: Good morning Gentlemen
Wotcha sunshine
SBW: I see you are hunting, how goes it?
We're chillin'
SBW: Where's the line? The beaters?
Boff. They're miles off
SBW: What are you Hunting today?
Boar, Deer, and if the Fox passes he's getting one too
SBW: When did you start?
Well yesterday was the 15th, so we had a big dinner to wish the season well...

It's been a while since I was last in France, and I still come away thinking; 'you've got to admire anyone who really doesn't care what anyone thinks about them'. The french are in equal parts authoritarian and freewheeling which creates some bemusing contrasts.

They do rude and stuck up every bit as well as the english. The look of horror on a middle aged middle class french persons face as our unruly kids trample on their sensibilities is worth the price of admission alone. However they don't temper stuck up and rude in the way english people do. They just don't seem to do 'self deprecating'. Any country where people feel the need to start a society to keep foreign words from getting into the language needs to learn to laugh at its self, and any country where such a society is taken even remotely seriously by publishers and politicians needs to get used to the sound of us laughing at them.

For all their uptightness they're also so good at sticking together against the sates interferences that they remind me of the USA's founding fathers.
Tax hike? Close the roads.
Change to working practices? Shut the ports.
Shorter lunch break? Is nothing sacred!!!! Set fire to the mayors office.
In france you can't really be a national hero with out having been to jail for deifying the courts.

As a nation the passion they show for a proper meal during the day is nothing short of magnificent. In my book if you were going to take something seriously, lunch would be a good choice. It's not a myth, you really can find restaurants that have closed for lunch. I find it quite appealing, that and the grub.

Your pal
SBW

11 comments:

Albert A Rasch said...

SBW,

France is a country that I want to visit; I look forward to and dread it in equal measures. It's the food that draws me, and the scenery; but the French themselves... They make me nervous.

Albert
The Mongol Rally!

Chad Love said...

You just gotta love the French.

The only real mass protest I've ever been caught up in was in Paris five years ago with a group of my wife's students.

We sat on the steps of the Paris opera house and watched it all unfold, smoke bombs and all.

It was great fun, and for the kids a good demonstration of the unruly, populist side of participatory democracy.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Albert

I know what you mean, but it generally works out OK.

My trip was to the depopulated interior. All french kids make a run for Paris on their 18th birthday so the countryside is populated by middle class english people and wizened old french throwbacks.

The animal rights nutters try to get the english holiday home owners to make the property out of bounds to hunters. But as the english owners are non resident and this is france the signs allways fall down in the wind.

I found a description by an english hunter of his time as the only non french member of a hunting association. Apparently they took the piss without mercy. While being very good natured about him and his shaky french (not one of them would admit to having a word of english) and did their best to include him in all the fun and games, with him taking the traditional visitors role of 'butt of all jokes'.

Imagine how you and your mates would treat a visiting frenchman -yeah, they treated him like that.
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Chad

So much better than seeing it on TV!
Travel certainly does broaden the mind. If young people could see the french model in action first hand, they'd be less apathetic about the democratic process.

SBW

LSP said...

Good to see the French still allow guns and hunting. Interesting depopulation/English immigrant point. It works for the church too; retired high-church COE parsons have taken up residence in France and seem to end up running local churches (French aren't producing priests anymore). The villagers like them, evidently, as they've restored all the old customs & devotions.

Off topic but - excited by Mongol rally...

Cheers,

LSP

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

LSP

i can believe it, I was led to believe it was going to be 'proper french' but most people in the supermarket were english. There is empty property everywhere, from way grand to shacks.

SBW

Philip Werner said...

I've always thought that the French were Logical but not Rational. I love your blog.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

philip
Ha ha
too true

thanks for reading and commenting
SBW

Diggity Dog said...

You know what I love about that picture? That they resemble me when I go hunting. I love hunting and I really enjoy taking game when I can. But some days there's not much going on and sitting as still as a rock doesn't net you much more than taking a npa. And many an early morning or late afternoon I've enjoyed a few winks while the safety was still engaged.

I'm a fairly young hunter, only being 29. But I meet some guys who just take the whole thing too seriously. Yet those two guys seem to be enjoying themselves. And while I want to take game, I really want to enjoy myself. Thanks for sharing the pic and the story.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

DD
thanks for stopping by, there's more to come
SBW

LSP said...

'i really want to enjoy myself' - exactly - stay safe though.