WHEN the band burst into the bar playing a medley of songs there was no doubt the town of Monflanquin was going to celebrate the fête de la Saint André in grand style.
Each year as winter approaches the bastide town hosts a weekend of events, shows and dinners that draw people from across the region.
The fairground arrives and there are exhibitions on the archaeology of the area, its flowers and tress as well as an agricultural market.
I had been invited to see the opening of a photography exhibition in the town featuring the work of a school friend of Marie Ange.
Photographer Didier Veysset had put together a collection of photographs titled Portraits d'une bastide.
They featured people of all ages in their homes, often in the sitting room and it offered a glimpse into their lives often only open to their family and friends.
Didier also saw the photographs as a reflection of Monflanquin, he said: “I spent the past year taking the photographs and they are a representation of the town.
“But they also mark the architecture of the bastide as well as the thing that brings a town to life, its people.”
There were some particularly striking images, one of an old lady in front of a large panelled wall similar to those you see in a manor house.
Whilst another was of a carpenter in his workshop and the array of tools and equipment across the walls behind him gave the picture a real texture.
What was strange was to be stood looking at a photograph and next to you could be that same person as many of Didier’s subjects were there for the opening night.
And to mark the exhibition about 30 people dodged the rain clouds to head for a meal in a nearby restaurant.
As I walked up to it I thought this is never going fit us all in but in the back was a large room with shelves groaning under wine bottles.
So we sat down and enjoyed a meal of soup, steak and ice cream – and all washed down with a glass or two of wine.
And it was not long before throaty renditions of French songs, as well as the Beach Boys, brought a memorable night to a raucous end.