This year we had people from France, Belgium and Switzerland as every year, but also people from the US, Canada, Ecuador, and even two all the way from Singapore. Our first excursion went to and educational amusement park called Vulcania, on the theme of volcanoes, which is actually located at the foot of several of the 80 impressive dormant volcanoes in the Chain of the
Puy du Dôme. There were advanced rides that gave glimpses of how volcanoes form, what happens inside them, one imagined what would happen if the chain came active again, and so on. It was quite interesting.
Other excursions went to the ancient heart of Clermont-Ferrand (which, by the ways, is the headquarters of the Michelin tire company), and the Medieval city of Thiers, long a center for knife-making. The other excursion was to Vichy, a charming spa town, which was the capital of "free France" during WWII. There is a plaque outside the Park Hotel which was used as the seat of the French government under General Philippe Pétain, a hero of the First World War, who in attempting to salvage what he could from the French surrender to Germany, ended up shamefully collaborating. That history is of course not touted, though it is acknowledged in Vichy.
We had a wonderful fun show with a prestidigitator and lots of funny skits. And we all rejoiced to have an ordination into the ministry occur on the last day. This is the first time in many years in our European association family in that we’ve had an ordination in French. The chain continues; the baton is passed.
On the last day we said our goodbyes until next year, or until next we meet. We’ve already started looking forward to the next cycle of festivals culminating with these fall feasts next year.
My wife and I left early this morning to drive to Bergerac to take care of some official business for our association. Following that we drove to Orléans, south of Paris where we’ll spend the
night and most of tomorrow. Orléans has a long and fascinating history. Joan of Arc was instrumental in lifting the English siege of Orléans in 1429 toward the end of the 100-years war when the city was on the border between lands claimed and occupied by French and English forces. She is sometimes still referred to as the pucelle d’Orléans
, or the maid of Orléans (more precisely the virgin of Orléans
In passing I’ll mention that the house where she was born still exists in Lorraine in the village of Domrémy, now called Domrémy-la-Pucelle
, in her honor. It’s a very simple house, but worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood, due to the history involved.
Over the next few days, my wife and I will relax a little but also visit several people who have requested contact with our association after reading literature and listening to sermons posted on our French-language website. I won’t post details of those visits, but will try to post anything else of interest that we come across, and there is almost always something interesting to see in France.
As always, our fall festival season went passed very quickly. Our memories will be a mix of happy events: encouraging sermons that deepen and reinforce our understanding of the Bible's hopeful message, beautiful music, encouraging conversations with old and new friends, the pleasures of the French table, interesting excursions and more.