Chapter 2, Santa Barbara French Festival

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, July 12, 2009

I’ve been stuffed in this bag for hours! I know she has to be taking us to someplace exciting. Her uncle with the straw fedora hat is with her, along with someone I’ve never met: Diane.

Finally, we are stopped. She gives me a few shakes and I am back in shape! Wow. Where are we? I see trees, booths, flags, dogs, and people, LOTS of people. Chairs are laid out in front of a stage; and I see a smaller stage further back. There is a tower up ahead, and we take photos against it, as well as next to a cardboard cut out of a short soldier man that Cris got excited over; although I don’t know who he his and what the big deal is, I go where my anchor takes me.

We cross a wooden bridge and find a much larger stage. A breeze brings a hint of lavender, but it is overcome by the aroma of crepes, berries, and caramel from a few booths down. She makes sure to visit each vendor booth, lingering longer when something catches her eye. Another breeze blows by, this time with a stronger scent of lavender. There are more people on this side of the bridge. Loud drums, people cheering and clapping, what a fun place this is! We go around the stage and VOILA! A booth selling lavender! So calming and refreshing.

We park ourselves on a bench after eating lunch and watch the different shows as they come on stage. It is mid-afternoon now and our new friend Diane seems to be particularly eager for the next show: Traditional Dances of France. Apparently, she is from France, Brittany to be exact. Next thing we know she has dragged us on stage to join in on the dances.  Cris remembers to tighten me up and I am secured as she spins, taps, bounces, twirls, and sways.

The afternoon was filled with shows and demonstrations, I can tell they are all getting tired. So why are we still here? Diane accompanies us to the nearest place to get coffee – a hospital cafeteria. That’s right!  We were completely embedded in a residential area that there are absolutely no shops within walking distance. You would think that at least one of the booths would carry coffee, but you would be sadly mistaken.

The sun is beginning to set and soon, Cris won’t need my shade anymore. I wonder what it is
they are waiting for. We are back in the larger stage and it is the most crowded it has been all day. People cheer as introductions are made. The stage is set, and out comes…a woman, no a man. Wait. It’s a man dressed as a woman! Everyone else finds this just as amusing as I
do! They are singing and dancing, How exciting!

The show and festivities come to an end just as the sun fades out. Cris stuffs me back in her bag as they take their final photos and begin their drive back home.
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Lesly on

I love the French Festival and it sounds like you had a great time! Some excellent pictures you took as well! I actually just returned from Santa Barbara's most famous festival; the Old Spanish Days or Fiestas! Such a great event and also a week long! I stayed at the Sandman Inn ( So affordable and the location is the absolute best! Well worth it!

Adele on

I love the French Festival in Santa Barbara! Well worth the time to go, the food and entertainment are lovely as well as the entire celebration itself. I've been to this festival a few times and each time is just as wonderful. I was just in town actually and had a great time! I stayed at the South Coast Inn ( So elegant and the perfect place to escape all of the chaos of downtown!

cchasez on

I heard they stopped doing the festival as of this year :( But I love Santa Barbara nonetheless and will look into those lodging suggested. Thanks!

Lona on

Santa Barbara is one of the best places to travel to to catch up on rest and to just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. I travel up the coast all the time to just lounge on the beach and escape the madness of LA. A great place to stay if you are seeking peace and quiet is the South Coast Inn ( So lovely and the best place call home while on vacation.

Robyn on

The French Festival in Santa Barbara is one of a kind. Lots of things for families to do and kids usually love it. Live entertainment and food for days! Just pack away all those delicious pastries! I went this past year and had a great time. Truly reminded me of my year abroad in Paris, once in a lifetime experience. I stayed at the Sandman Inn ( Close to the action and truly so cheap!

Adam on

I was at this exact festival that year! That is so cool, glad you took pictures because I totally forgot my camera at my hotel. Shame, honestly, it was such a great day to be out and enjoying french culture! Wonderful food and music, do they still hold this festival?? I haven't heard much about it in the past few years, it would be a shame if they don't, it was always so much fun. Spanish culture shouldn't be the only thing celebrated in Santa Barbara! I actually discovered the Sandman Inn ( this year! I've been staying at this incredibly budget savvy hotel ever since!

cchasez on

I heard they stopped doing it bc it was too much work for the coordinator and no one else stepped up. So I'm glad I got to go while I still could.

Thanks for the hotel tip - I'll try them next time!

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