Friday, June 05, 2015

A Dedicated Mothers' Day

It was Mothers' Day in France last Sunday, a fête which was officially added to the calendar by maréchal Pétain in 1941. It became a national tradition in 1918 in tribute to all the women who had lost a son and/or husband in the trenches. Ten years later, in 1929, it was used to encourage women to have babies as part of la politique familiale to repopulate the country.

I enjoyed it, for once. My eldest is now old enough to take charge. Mothers' Day is tough for single mums because there's no dad to chivvy the kids into drawing a picture, buying a flower or two or supervising the making of tea.

As I'd just asked for a little word on a piece of paper, I was agreeably surprised when I was presented with a red rose and card at lunch time (nems from the best nems-man in Montpellier plus a glass of rosé, Carrouf Magnum for puds. Simple, delicious). Gobsmacked, you might say in fact. Made my day. We had a delightful lunch outside, sitting at the table with table cloth and no tiger mozzies.

Feeling on top of the world, then, I decided I'd go into town and see what was happening at the book fair - the 30e Comédie du Livre.

It wasn't exactly on the Place de la Comédie but on the Esplanade, thankfully under a series of marquees so we, including the books, didn't all roast and curl under the sun
The rest of the Place da la Comédie was empty

There was a whole range of books on show, and authors. If you like books, it was the place to be. There were sections on travel books, poetry, religious books, novels, culture, and a foreign section where Le Bookshop had a books-in-English stand.

If you were looking for children's books, there was even a whole marquee for them many of which looked super. I lamented again how I have boys who dislike reading. They don't even read comic books, or BD (bande déssinée) which are wildly popular in France, and were on show en masse at the fair.

On one of the stands, I saw a BD about Montpellier, called Balade à Montpellier by 'Gaston'. It's a humorous tour of the city that manages to distil the essence of Montpellier by pointing out its clichés (gay capital of France, red car on Rock Store wall, etc.), and guides us rapidly through its history. I had a look through and loved it.

It's obviously been written by someone who loves the city and knows it well. The author, 'Gaston' or Alain Rémy is an accomplished cartoonist who's worked with Disney and Spielberg, and is a script writer for Ubisoft (on 'Rabbids Go Home').

I noticed that he was dedicating the books purchased on site with a little cartoon! I had to have one too! I'm a sucker for a dedication.

Gaston dedicating his book for me
It was my turn, so I sat down and he started asking me about myself (how cool is that?) in order to find inspiration. I told him about coming to France to be with my future ex-h, and after we divorced I wanted to be with someone who spoke excellent English. There was a bit more chit chat, and he started drawing in the book I'd bought. This is what he came up with:
My dedication from Gaston. That's me on the right in my stripy tee-shirt. :)
"V.O." is a French expression for films and tele programmes that are shown not dubbed, in their original version ('version original'). Isn't it great? He has a talent for grasping the essential spirit of something/someone and whipping up a cartoon about it/them. He does it on the tele too.

Not only did I get the book dedicated, but the sponsoring bookshop (Librarie des 5 continents) was offering a dedicated card too, so this is mine:

I positively floated home.


  1. Fantastic! I'm positively floating for you. So much good there - from start to finish - what a treat all day, something to remember and keep for ever. I hope all Mothers' Days in future live up to this one!

    1. They'll have a job, Anya, but I'll certainly treasure this one. :)

  2. Well done No. 1 son!
    And what a super dedication...really something to treasure!

    1. I was proud of them. It was actually my youngest who used his pocket money to buy the rose, and my eldest who bought and wrote the card. Great guys. :)

  3. Marie Rivet, who blogs as "Montpellier Daily Photo", also posted on the Comédie du Livre. Maybe you walked right past each other without knowing!

    1. We may well have done. :) I must check out her blog to see what she wrote.

  4. This is all so cute - from the eldest taking charge to the nems (what are they?) which sound like donuts so I'm there, to the cartoon man!! Love it

    1. Nems:

      It was a lovely day, and the nems were yummy. :)


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