Another 2008 event to consider for your Calendars - - -?
- Matthew Baker,
unto the Noble Populace of these Lists,
The biennial, weekend-long "Fête des Remparts" in Dinan, Brittany - - - next one, 2008.
In view of the early announcement for KWHS, 2008, to enable the Populace to make advance planning to attend from afar, - and in view of an specific enquiry from a certain Lord, - this humble veteran Soldier thinks it meet to draw the attention of the Populace to a non-SCA event - now one of the greatest medieval-themed Fetsivals in the Known World, - to be held next in Summer, 2008.
Please feel free to send this info to anyone else whom you feel might be interested. [usual commercial-connection disclaimers apply]
I wrote the following description for someone who was thinking about attending the 2006 Fete; and - apart from the dates, the rest of the description is still relevant.
QUOTE - TAKEN FROM AN E-MAIL TO AN INTERESTED PERSON IN EARLY 2006.
This to make known unto you the confirmed date for Dinan's biennial 2006 medieval "Fête des Remparts" at the officially-preserved, medieval fortified town of Dinan, Brittany, some 25 minutes drive inland from the port Town of St. Malo.
The Fête des Remparts is now usually held in July, and this year's  biennial Festival will be held over the weekend of July 22nd & 23rd. The Festival is organised by a special Sub-Committee of the Town Council and is supported financially by the National Cultural Heritage Committees of both the Regional and National Governments.
All the residents of Dinan Town and many thousands from the local area and much futher-afield take part, in a Tradition now going-back decades, to 1938 - when the Town of Dinan first gained "Preserved National Heritage" status and held the very first Fête des Remparts to celebrate.
Apart from 1939-1945 during WW2, - I understand that the Festival has been held every 2 years since; - which makes this one of the oldest, regularly-held, medieval-themed events in the world, as I understand.
And if the Dinan "Fête des Remparts" Organisers don't know how to run a good medieval-themed event by now, - with so much experience behind them and in such a stunning Location, - then no-one else will do better. For some probably-typically-French reason, in the past there has been little publicity for this Event outside Brittany.
What began as a Celebration only local-known to the Breton area around Dinan has recently [say in the last 15 years] become so well-known amongst Europe's re-enactment community - that they come from all across Europe now, to take active- or spectators' parts. A Dinan-resident mentioned to me that in 2004 the Committee estimated that over 80,000 people visited Dinan for the weekend of the Event. The last admission prices I had were - 7 Euros if you attended as a Mundane, but only 3 Euros if you attended in Garb! Accomodation space is at a premium for the event-weekend, and very-early booking at some guest-house or hotel or camp-site is a neccessity, if you wish to be based "close to the action".
To help with the "medieval-atmosphere", the Town Council have - during the last such events I've attended, - even closed town-access "within the Walls" to modern vehicles between sunrise and sunset, - and strewn the non-cobbled streets deep with straw. Equestrians, and carts with draught-animals are welcomed, however, as they add to the "atmosphere".
Most local businesses dress their staff in some attempt at medieval garb for the whole weekend, as do most residents who live "within the Walls".
Many local Cafés and restaurents "within the Walls" enter so far into the spirit of things that they temporarily replace their "outside" plastic tables with planks on barrels, and plastic chairs with hay-bales or barrels for seats.
Many others in the Catering Trades ignore EU Food regulations, and produce medieval-recipe foods and drinks "just for the Fête" - which are sold from both temporary medieval-style booths infront of the shops, and also from trays by strolling Hawkers. The last time I attended, one Butcher roasted a whole ox over a fire in the street at one of the intersections, and was selling the cooked meats as the carcass roasted.
In the evenings, attending Groups tend to congregate in the cafe or restaurent or Bar they have chosen as their HQ during the weekend; to enjoy an evening's convivial company - talking, drinking, and singing, or listening to "period" music from the many "strollong musicians who attend the Fete.
And one or two of the most-medieval Squares become "dancing-floors", - with "Musicks" playing medieval dance melodies from underneath ancient, timber-framed houses built-out over the sidewalks.
Local medieval dance groups practice for two years to show off their new dances to the visiting Public; - but with this difference - the costumed dance Troupe will tread the first Mesure, and then, - while the Musick plays Interludes, - the dancing couples separate, and each goes into the watching crowds to draw a Mundane of the opposite sex onto the dancing floor - where they are then taught the steps to tread the next Mesure. In this way the mundane public "get a taste" and take an active part; so enjoyment and "atmosphere" are heightened for all.
A part of the preserved medieval walls, - including a tower, a bastion and ditch - are usually set-aside for re-enacting "siege assaults", which usually involves attackers and defenders using repro-cannon, (blank-loaded), arbalistiers, and archers, firing blunts at each-other.
These days there are also Tourney Lists, and Jousting takes place in a purpose-built sand-floored arena, by French medieval groups who are able to bring their horses with them.
Many visiting Groups make their temporary HQ's in one of the Cafés for the event. Strolling musicians, jugglers, scriveners, pardoners, priests, nuns, and beggars abound in the streets and sit or perform temporarily on the sidewalks. I have heard that Breton Crafters now erect booths at the event, also; booths now usually situated in the "Place de La Duchesse Anne".
Another tradition of the Fête has been that Groups parade through the narrow streets, banners flying - and if they meet another Group parading in the opposite direction, - there will be a full-speed, full contact, steel-on-steel Combat between "champions" to decide who gets Right of Way. At the last such event I attended, I saw one of these Combats: A Barbarian Warrior Maiden wearing little more than leather "harness of war" , and "taking no prisoners" - wielding a huge double-handed sword, battered a big and burly Scots Clansman to the ground and forced his surrender kneeling on his arms, with her dagger at his throat. The women in the watching crowds of mundanes, were all rooting for the Warrior Maid, and when she downed the Scot, many of the female tourists - the Japanese especially - were jumping up and down and squealing with delight!
My Lady Madame Alys and I think that Residents of Drachenwald, Insulæ Draconis, and of West Dragonshire in especial, - may wish to make the effort to attend and enjoy what has become over the last decade one of Western Europe's biggest medieval festivals.
Because the US doesn't have any "nationally-preserved fortified medieval Towns", and because the Event Area encompasses the entirety of the medieval Town and the fortified walls, attendance is therefore likely to be of particular interest [ we would think] to US-Residents temporarily "in-Post" in the British Isles, and elsewhare in Drachenwald.
For those SCAdians of Drachenwald, Insulæ Draconis, and particularly West Dragonshire - who may be interested in attending, here is the current Event Publicity Website URL - which shows photos and info. relating to the 2002 and 2004 Festivals, on the menu-sidebar.
Website-Access Note: - The Official WebSite has an English- as well as a French-language version. And the best way that I have found to reach it is through the "Yahoo France" search-engine via the "Yahoo International List".[For some reason, if one tries any other search-engine - one doesn't get any "hits". It doesn't work for me via Yahoo.co.uk, or Google, or MSN! ]
[I have attended several-such Dinan medieval Festivals as a "mundane", travelling from the Island of Jersey, though not the last four held.]
May God cherish and protect Thee, thy Houses, and thy Works, now; and until He calls us to aid His Host for Armageddon, and The Judgement whych followeth - when we shal al be Saved, as I doe hope for Heaven.
Yours in Service,
["Messire Matthew Baker, latelie Governor & Castellan of Jersey, 1486-1497":
Motto - "Si vis pacem, para bellum" (Trans:-"if you wish for Peace, prepare for War") ]
aka. - Julian Wilson, - late-medieval Re-enactor; Herald, Historian, & Master Artisan
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