How to Find Fairies, Cowboys and Great Music in August Around Loire Atlantique


We started the ball rolling with a trip to see the wonderful sound and light show put on every year in August at Martigne-Ferchaud. Etincelles Aquatiques is a truly spectacular show put on over 3 nights by the local people based loosely on the many Breton myths and legends, fairies and imps and inspired by the abundance of La Roche aux Fées (The fairy rock). The venue is in a natural amphitheater surrounding a lake, tickets can be bought on arrival or in advance and as the seating is on wooden benches a good supply of cushions is a must. Even arriving a couple of hours before the show to get good seats is not boring as the atmosphere is so wonderful, galette, crepe, and coffee sales people work their way through the rows of people with chips, sausages and other cold drinks available from stalls nearby.

The show starts at sunset and lasts 1 hour 30 mins so it's also worth bringing warm clothes or a blanket as the night can be chilly. Every year something new is added to make this an event worth coming back to. The cast ranges in age from 6 upwards and numbers around 260 with 900 local volunteers helping out behind the scenes. With wonderful music, special effects and spectacular fireworks the show is a magical experience for all ages.

Next on our schedule was the annual Wild West festival in Bain-de-Bretagne held over 3 days in August, West Country has entertainment for all the family. A large market selling all things western from hats & boots to full Indian regalia, a rodeo, Indian village with very authentic looking (French) Indians, line dancing for all abilities, and new for this year were a bird of prey show, log filing and chainsaw sculpture and hot air ballooning. There are also concerts held in the evenings into the early hours. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves despite the weather was just a bit too hot for comfort while we sat watching the Rodeo. We did not know that the show was in 2 parts and when the admission was announced we decided to start for home and it was not until I heard the show re-commmence in the distance that we realized it was not over but by that time we were too hot and tired to trudge back. Still we did see some great horsemanship, rounding up skills, quite annoyed bulls trying to ditch their riders and bucking broncos. We were very impressed with the dedication of those taking part in making the whole thing as authentic as is possible in the wilds of France rather than the West, the costumes, tipees, skills and atmosphere were brilliant. The Indians even sporting mohawks on their heads which must be quite difficult to live with when out of costume in every day French life.

The free music festival Rendez Vous Sur l'Erdre is held every year over the last weekend of August. All along the river from 'Motte Rouge' to '50 Otages' on the tramway route in Nantes, groups vie with each other for noise supremacy. It was an exciting, vibrant and thoroughly enjoyable experience as always (3rd year for me). Each venue hosts a different style of music from trad jazz to head bangers with just enough distance between them to enjoy your favorite without the others intruding. Also along the river in swathes were food stalls selling everything from the usual moules frates and gallettes to exotic Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Arabic and African dishes. A great opportunity to try something new. Interspersed between music venues and food outlets were street entertainers and traditional seafaring craft exhibitions. Truly a great day out for all the family, made even more so by the good donated demeanour of the crowds; no drunken yobs, pushing and shoving teen brats or other anti social behavior spoiled the atmosphere.

I must go again next year but I'll do a little research first to see who is playing and where, as going blind as I have till now, mean more often than not arriving at interesting sounding gigs just as they play their last notes.

Source by Teresa Sorokin