We had come to France
basically to attend the wedding of the daughter of Elizabeth’s first cousin. The first cousin had been born in Poland
but immigrated to France and was a tool and dye maker now retired. The town they lived in was Saint-Etienne in eastern central
France southwest of Lyon in a region called the Rhone-Alpes. It is hilly country. Basically it is an industrial town with
a population of over 300,000.
the 16th century, Saint-Etienne developed an arms manufacturing industry and became a market town. During the French
revolution it was renamed Armeville “arms town” because of this activity. It was also a centre for the
manufacture of ribbons and passementerie. The latter I had never
heard of until I looked it up on the Internet. Today, passementerie is used with clothing, such as the gold
braid on military dress
uniforms, and for decorating couture clothing and wedding gowns. They are also used in furniture trimming, such
as some lampshades, draperies, fringes and tassels. Now you know. Later,
it became a coal mining centre, and more recently, has been known for its bicycle industry.
There is a Polish community in Saint-Etienne and
it has a charming little church located in and near and industrial area. The day of the wedding we did not attend the morning
civil ceremony but joined the wedding at the religious service. The service was Catholic of course and in French with some
Polish. You didn’t have to speak French to understand the progress of wedding since it followed the same pattern any
Catholic wedding does around the world. The priest was a pleasant soul who looked like he should have been a football coach
The groom was in a naval military uniform and was
accompanied by other young men from his unit. When they exited from the church it was under an arch of swords much like you
would see in a WWII wedding. They left for the reception in an old French Car that also reminded me of WWII. The bride of
course was as at all weddings beautiful, the sisters on each side served as bridesmaids and parents beaming.
The reception was in the countryside some 45 minutes
away in an old Manor. I decided not to follow the slow caravan to the reception but sped off down the highway. Of course
an hour later I realized I had passed the cut off and back we went trying to figure out where the reception was. The map we
had gave no details of where it was being held. GPS forgetta about it! We arrived late but were warmly welcomed. A misty rain
had started to fall and the large wedding party had gather under a large old tree. The photographer was setting up pictures
as people stood around drinking champagne. Some of the staged pictures were different than any others I have seen poised.
You’ll see some of them with the attached picture album.
The Manor was charming because of its age and could
use a good face lift. The reality is however that the condition it was in was its charm. The buildings on the grounds were
of field stone with a large massive tower dominating the main building. It was in rolling countryside with magnificent views.
A pond with a swan, horses in a nearby field, parking your car in a farmers field and walking a long unpaved dirt road to
the manor all added to the charm and the countryside feeling of the place.
The meal was served in a lovely old room with classic table
setting that you would expect at a French wedding. People sat at tables of 8. At our table was an English couple who had been
living in France for decades. A gentleman in his 60’s who accompanied two ladies whose age will remain a secret. He
spoke English and one of the ladies did as well so we didn’t sit there dumb to what was going on. His job was to translate
and put French sub titles on English movies. His current project was Sex and Zen. I guess it was about sitting at opposite
corners of a room and thinking about sex.
After the meal we gathered in a large hall and the
bride and the groom drank a toast and threw their glasses over the shoulder. Apparently this is a Polish tradition probably
started by the Polish glass industry. Same story in Greece where the manufacturers of china started the business of smashing
plates. For that matter Dr Scholls came up with the idea of marathons etc etc.
The young lady friends of the bride and groom gather
around and to the accompaniment of music tried to sing in English the Beatle song “all you need is love”. The
only part in English you could understand from their singing was the one line “all you need is love”. In reality
when you get married it should be the idée fixe, note the French, of one’s marriage.
Since the meal service started at 9 p.m. and finished
around 10:30 p.m. in the French manner we decided we would take an early exit. The intention of the wedding party was to go
on till dawn. The thought of driving on dark country lanes late at night motivated to try to do so early then later.
The bride and groom are going to Bali for their honeymoon.
A far cry from our recent honeymoon at Niagara-on-the-lake but I can only wish that they have as wonderful time as we did
and a wonderful life as we do.