Just a week after we arrived, we celebrated la Fête Nationale here in Loches. France’s national holiday (known as Bastille Day around the rest of the world) also happens to be Derek’s birthday, so we celebrated his 40th (!!!) with fireworks in town. We knew that each town had it’s own little celebration, but we really didn’t have any idea of the scope of the festivities. Keep in mind that Loches has a population of only about 6000 people. We were pretty impressed by the spectacle!
There was an evening concert, followed by La Retraite aux Flambeaux, which is basically a parade of torches for the children and adults who wished to take part. We all gathered in the Jardins Publiques, and as darkness began to fall, lanterns were distributed to all the kids – yes, with real candles, unheard of in Canada! – as well as large torches for the adults. It stays light out fairly late here, so la Retraite des Flambeaux didn’t start til around 10:30, and we paraded along with the marching band to the soccer stadium down the road, where the fireworks happened later on.
Were we ever amazed at the fireworks! I didn’t take any pics because I was just taking it all in, but safe to say it was a solid 20 minutes of pretty impressive fireworks. We couldn’t believe that our little town went off like this! I can only imagine what the celebrations in Paris must have been (I’ve seen some videos, pretty awesome!).
We went home when the fireworks ended as it was close to midnight, but the celebrations didn’t end there — there was a ball afterwards that went into the wee hours of the morning, and the streets were alive and restaurants buzzing with people all over! Well done, Loches. These French really know how to throw a party.