Standing Room Only: Carols at Parisot

Eglise Saint-Andéol at Parisot
Eglise Saint-Andéol at Parisot

It’s raining, the world is going to end (again) on Friday and I haven’t done my Christmas cards yet. But a heart-warming event yesterday helped me to forget all that: our carol service at the church in Parisot. Even if we don’t get to see Christmas Day, we ushered in the season with a large slug of Christmas spirit.

Last week, I wrote about le Choeur de Parisot’s first carol service of the year at Cajarc in the Lot. About 60 people came, which was a little disappointing, but they gave all the signs of having enjoyed it.

Yesterday at Parisot, elderly ladies were already arriving to bag their seats while we were rehearsing at 16h00. It’s just as well they did because by kick-off time at 17h00 there was standing room only. And they kept coming. We had to commandeer more chairs and install people behind the altar and in the side chapels. The audience even occupied every step up to the lectern. Members of the choir were afraid we might have to fight with the audience for our seats. It took about 25 minutes to empty the church afterwards.

There must have been around 400 people there, which, for a small place like Parisot in la France profonde, isn’t bad going. Mind you, we have been publicising it as if there were no tomorrow. Come to think of it, there will soon be no tomorrow if the Mayan calendar is accurate. However, I’ll soldier on.

The choir is some 50 strong so we can make a heck of a noise. We even sing in tune quite a lot of the time (only joking, Peter). This wasn’t really a concert – although the choir sang several carols alone – but we got a standing ovation and did a couple of encores. Naturally, my reading of the fifth lesson – in French – went down a storm. There were a lot of smiling faces at the end, even if much of the audience hadn’t understood the words of the carols.

Afterwards, the commune offered a vin chaud to everyone at the salle des fêtes. The choir contributed home-made quiches, biscuits and cakes. The SF had brought some of his delicious Swedish ginger biscuits. By the time those of us who had stayed behind to rearrange the chairs in the church got there, there was absolutely nothing left. It was as if the proverbial plague of locusts had struck.

Christmas crèche at Parisot
Christmas crèche at Parisot

Until about 1996, Christmas carol services were unknown in this area. They started in a small way and now several take place each year. I often worry a lot about whether we Brits are changing the nature of the French countryside irrevocably. Are we destroying what we came here for? At a dinner party last week we had a big argument about the pros and cons of multi-culturalism. I don’t want to rehash it all here: that’s perhaps for a later post. But maybe we can introduce things that enrich the lives of our French neighbours. I like to think we achieved that yesterday.

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  1. Hi Vanessa,
    Just thought that I would update you on my Driving License Saga because it was by chance that I discovered two years ago via your blog that as a French resident I am supposed to have a French driving license.
    1.Spoke to my village mairie about how to get license. They called Cahors who told me to come by with my license and several other documents which I diligently put together.
    2. New York license was rejected in Cahors. I told them that I had a South African one too, so they said that would be OK and to come back with it.
    3. Arrived back in Cahors with South African driving license, and all of a sardine was asked for a “Certificate d’Authenticité”.
    4. That took about five months to obtain because no one knew what this certificate was or from whom to get it. Finally, again with the intervention of my mairie, a document arrived from the SA Embassy to say that the driver’s license was valid, but had expired because the ANC government had reissued driving licenses.
    5. Decided to start from scratch at a French Driving School, but balked when I discovered the cost- about 1000 euros.
    6. Was told by Cahors that I could apply for license as a “candidat liberal”, which meant preparing for the Code de la Route exam independently, having one driving lesson, and then taking the driving exam.
    7. Finally passed the CdlR exam after six months (plugged the first exam by one point and was out of the country the two subsequent sessions. The exams are only given every two months.)
    8. Now I have been told to appear in Gramat for my driving exam with my documents, special insurance and a DUAL CONTROL CAR on January 15th. The only problem is that I can’t get a dual control car to take the 15 minute exam in. None of the driving schools I have spoken to will help because I am not a client.
    9. Spoke to my mayor who telephoned Cahors to ask whether I could take the exam in my own car, which I am driving around in every day, but no dice.
    10. Mayor advises I return to the US to exchange my NY license for a Connecticut one (presuming I don’t get shot in the process) which I can then turn into a French license in about three days, free.

    How to get a French Driving License in Ten Easy Steps.


    • I’m horrified to hear of the difficulties you’ve encountered. As an EU citizen things have been rather different for me (and for my husband who is also one). However, I hope you don’t hold me responsible for the problems you’ve had. I can only recount my own experiences and I always include a disclaimer that you have to look into your own personal circumstances and take advice accordingly. I don’t claim to be an expert on the legal ins and outs – especially when it concerns non-EU citizens. I do hope you get it sorted out soon.


    • Thanks. We are a little concerned that some people might not come next year if they fear they won’t get a seat. But overall it was a success.


  2. Just love the way you’ve woven in “as if there were no tomorrow…” A really high class link!


  3. Ooh this blog post made me feel all Christmassy! Willie had to miss his choir’s Christmas concert because he had flu, but I went, and I have to say his absence was felt (he is one of the two bass singers in the choir!) but it was lovely all the same. Tomorrow we have his office staff for a party at home, and will attempt Silent Night on our languages and O Come All Ye Faithful in Bangla and English. There are possibly ten non Moslems in the seventy coming, so it should be interesting!


  4. It sounds wonderful … well done! I miss Christmas carols here in Tuscany and have to satisfy myself with getting the Kings College carols on the radio.


    • Well, you can’t beat Kings College and we aren’t quite up to that standard. But for la France profonde I don’t think we did too badly.


  5. I’m SO happy you had a big turn-out! You all worked really hard and deserve to be rewarded. I’d say there are at least 400 people who don’t mind that you’ve enriched the culture of the Parisot area!


    • Thanks, Evelyn. I feel sorry for those who should really have had a seat owing to infirmity. We knew a few who had to leave in the end because of that. A shame. But what can you do? It surpassed our wildest expectations.


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