Parisot Art Festival 2021 – Festival des Arts en Balade

We are gradually emerging from our Covid chrysalis as more local events open up, so I can report that we have actually been somewhere and done something. Admittedly, it was only up the road and involved being in the open air most of the time, but it was good to see the Parisot art fair return last weekend.

Rechristened le Festival des Arts en Balade, or FABParisot, the art festival has been going for over a decade, with occasional changes of management. However, it remains true to its original format, which is to display the works in venues around the village: the Mairie, the school, former shops, the château. This offers the opportunity to converse with the artists in more relaxed settings than a large hall and also to explore hidden corners of the village.

The weather on Sunday was perfect, as it was warm and sunny but not too hot: a transition day from last week’s rainy weather to this week’s sunshine. In previous years, it’s been rather hot for strolling around the village during the art fair.

Beguiling sculptures

This year, the festival’s patron was Pierre Prevost, a sculptor who lives near Villefranche-de-Rouergue. He creates sculptures by recycling scrap metal and redundant metal objects, e.g. watering cans, metal ducting, cutlery, anything in which he can see a creative use. Scores of the sculptures were installed all around the village.

The sculptures usually depict animals or fantastical creatures. They are very cleverly done and bring a smile to one’s face. It’s such an imaginative way to use these items.

I had come across Pierre Prevost’s work before when we walked from Saint-Grat a few years ago. For over a kilometre, the path was lined with metal sculptures. At that time, I didn’t know who the artist was, but having seen the sculptures in Parisot, they are by the same person. Also, I now realise that the path we walked is close to his house.

Family entertainment

While we wandered about, Pierre Prevost gave a workshop to the local children in the school yard, which was littered with bits of old metal. Judging by the enthusiastic noises, the kids were having a whale of a time.

A band of students from the Toulouse and Montauban Conservatoires played under the halle (market hall), which doubled as a temporary buvette (bar). Jolly good the musicians were, too. 

Market hall France
La halle from above

The art on display was mainly paintings and ceramics. I didn’t take photos of any of them, since I felt this would be intrusive and no doubt a breach of exhibition etiquette.

My only criticism of the event is that it wasn’t well or widely publicised beforehand. I found out about it only from a friend the week before. I’m afraid this often happens in rural France, where more reliance is placed on bouche-à-oreille (bush telegraph).

To be fair, this may be because it’s not always been certain until late on if events can take place at all this year. We were glad this one could, because it offered entertainment for whole families in a relatively safe environment.

Hidden corners

We renewed our acquaintance with the upper part of the village, where the church and the château d’Astorguié are situated. In the 12th century, the village had two distinct parts: the citadel inside the walls and le faubourg outside. The porte de Genebrière is only remaining gate into the fortified village.

Porte de Genebrière
Door at the base of one of the towers of the château d’Astorguié, built c. 1500, now completely restored and a private residence.

The esplanade above the church has a terrific panoramic view and was once a Gallo-Roman castellum, later replaced by a château. Now, all that remains are the walls and a single tower.

Defensive wall France
Remaining tower of the old château. If you look closely, you’ll see another of Pierre Prevost’s sculptures perched near the base.

The large, flat area has been repurposed as a picnic area. An orientation table highlights local features.

Festival des Arts en Balade website.

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Art on the Menu

When the Mona Lisa smiled on the Aveyron

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