Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Le Village Préféré des Français

Tonight France 2 is holding the most hotly contested competition since Cannes: the election of the "favorite village of the French" (crappy translation mine). I'm in search of some mindless entertainment at the moment, so I'm sitting on the couch watching Stéphane Bern, the perennial host of feel-good French television, introduce the 22 villages.  There's one from each region and, unjustly but unsurprisingly, the one from the Paris region came in last: La Roche-Guyon, where we've often hiked along the chalk cliffs that dominate the Seine.

I love this kind of thing.  French television celebrating the French and their quirks; cows and castles, wild mushrooms and kouign aman, ramparts and low-budget medieval battle reenactments.  First a fast-paced flyover of the village to admire the chateau, gardens, and tastefully restored houses.  Then we follow a fortunate resident as they enter a local restaurant and salute the owner (with a double cheek-kiss, of course) and explain over a glass of wine or a regional dish how either their family has lived in the village for five generations or how they personally moved there after stumbling across it and falling in love: le coup de coeur.  The segment concludes with a barbecue on the town square.  

Worth paying taxes for public service television in my book.  Two of my personal favorite villages happened to be nominated this year, Conques in the Aveyron and Eguisheim in Alsace. Eguisheim won, the mayor unveiled a brass plaque and accepted a commemorative t-shirt, surrounded by the village's inhabitants dressed in traditional costumes and bearing platefuls of pretzels.  What's not to love?  And they claim there's nothing on French television. 

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