Salon de Provence would normally be celebrating their famous ‘Fêtes Renaissance’ this week-end. Although, sadly, this year has to be different, our friend Mauricette in Salon de Provence has sent us this message, together with some history and photos of the event. We hope to be able to visit again in the not too distant future!
You will be able to join in – from a distance – with the historical reconstruction of Catherine de Medici’s visit to Salon de Provence. It is a great open-air show, and a chance to travel through time and through an important part of the history of France. The social and cultural success of the event is due to the great atmosphere which it generates, and the friendship and conviviality of everyone who takes part.
The President and Members of the Association of Twinning and International Relations in Salon hope that you enjoy immersing yourself in this moment of our city’s history.
Historical reconstruction in Salon de Provence
It was in 1986 that Christian Kert, Deputy Mayor of the city of Salon de Provence, had the idea of organizing a historical reconstruction in our city, and selected a group of around ten people – each with their own area of expertise and responsibility – to help him. We took our inspiration from contemporary written records of the Queen’s visit to Salon de Provence, and from historical costumes. As I was handy with a sewing machine, I was the first seamstress and made the first Catherine de Medici dress for a friend who was to model it. (Below are some recently made costumes, photographed for the Office de Tourisme Facebook page about the Fêtes Renaissance)
Ever since then the city has celebrated the arrival in 1564 of Catherine de Medici, her son Charles IX, and of the royal retinue for a meeting with Nostradamus (Michel de Nostredame), Salon’s most famous citizen.
This is a two-day community festival which offers the jubilant crowds a whole host of opportunities to dive into a real page of living history, brought to life thanks to the help of the many volunteers. All the costumes worn by the ‘actors’ are made by local seamstresses. This party is a real feast of skills and creativity!
There are huge parades through the old and new city centres, with street performances by musicians, dancers, artisans, tavern keepers, actors, acrobats, fire eaters, aristocrats, beggars, witches etc.
Spectators – not just from Salon but also tourists from far and wide – flock here to watch this glorious procession.
The Twinning Association has invited all of our twin towns to take part: Wertheim and Huntingdon/Godmanchester have both had stalls at the event, and the Sbandieratori from Gubbio, the Folk Ensemble from Szentendre, and the Municipal Folklore school from Aranda De Duero have all been here at one time or another.
In summary: Salon de Provence with its historical heritage is really the ideal setting for a Renaissance Festival. An event that is both popular and of great cultural and artistic character. Two days of authentic immersion in the heart of the sixteenth century.