Fiddlesticks’ 2003 May Tour to France

2003 was Fiddlesticks’ 20th birthday. How to celebrate it? The previous year, our Squire and founder member, Brenda, suggested a dancing weekend in France, staying in Rouen, Norwich’s twin city in Normandy. As she knew the area, she and Phillip offered to arrange a Tour for a long May weekend. And so it was that 23 dancers, musicians and helpers boarded a coach bound for France. We said goodbye to England with a final dance at a motorway service station on the way to the Dover-Calais ferry.

On the ferry we found seats on the upper deck to eat our sandwiches. It was a bit breezy but the sun was shining. What about asking for permission to dance on the boat? Sadly this was refused ... but we danced anyway. They surely wouldn’t throw us off!

Our first dance venue in France was at Agincourt, outside a museum commemorating Henry V’s battle. We were made very welcome and invited to have a tour of the museum. There were some other Brits there, taking part in a re-enactment, cooking up all sorts of medieval things on an open fire.

On we went to our base for the weekend in Rouen. The coach had a bit of difficulty negotiating the narrow streets but we finally made it to our hotel. After time for a bit of relaxation we made our way to La Toque d’Or for a splendid French meal, the first of many that weekend.

Next morning we started with a dance session in a small market square. After the dancing, there was a bit of spare time to look at the market stalls and buy some refreshments. Next stop, the main square where the Ceremony of the Flame, commemorating the burning of Joan of Arc, was taking place. After the ceremony, we were able to dance before making our way to the Hotel de Ville where we were kindly provided with a delicious lunch, accompanied by wine and cider. This was shared with the other participants in the ceremony, including a firemen’s band. Time for a spot of entente cordiale after lunch – several of us wished our command of the French language was better.

Oh dear, were we really expected to dance that afternoon? Apparently so, and the coach took us to Lyons-la-Foret where we danced outside the medieval market hall. A parade of old cars added interest here. We created great confusion at the nearby cafe, but we did eventually get our large order of cups of tea.

Another splendid meal followed that evening.

Monday saw the coach heading for Honfleur, a delightful town. Time for some sightseeing between dance sessions on the quayside and in the paved market square where some of the locals were persuaded to join in. Lunch was taken outside in the sunshine at a long table, where a presentation was made to Brenda as thanks for all her hard work in arranging such a successful trip.

Our journey back through France included a final dance stop at a service station which had apparently been bustling with people on the recce visit but was now almost deserted! Just one more thing to do before we left France – a visit to a hypermarket to stock up on wine and cheese.

Back to Dover on the ferry, once again bathed in sunshine. What a great weekend!

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