Fête de la Saint-Blaise à Valbonne
Sunday, January 27 I went to Valbonne, a small village inland from Antibes. I had visited last year and liked it. I learned that during the weekend the village was celebrating the Fête de la Saint-Blaise; I wanted to see it. The festival was great fun. A small parade of floats and small bands and little kids and clowns wove its way through the narrow streets to the central square Place des Arcades where you could find booths of local products, food to eat and hot sweet wine to sip.
I suspect the community celebrates the fête because it has a church, the 12th-century Église Saint Blaise, at the bottom of the village. Attached to the church is an abbey, Chalaisien Abbey or Ancien Couvent Chalaisien. Its origin had commercial goals associated with the Abbey:
The village now known as Valbonne was founded in 1519, by Augustin de Grimaldi, bishop of Grasse and abbot of Lérins. Augustin de Grimaldi commissioned the worker-monk Don Taxil to construct the village adjacent to the abbey to increase the value of the land. The aim was to use exclusively local labour to build a community that would lead to the repopulation of the region. This was accomplished by the importation of Italian artisans, to work the clay found in the nearby villages of Vallauris and Biot.
As in the states the children contribute to the excitement of the parade and festivities.
Scary masked adults provide some fun, much like clowns in a circus.
Of course, a parade is not a parade unless it has the floats and bands.
And, the French themselves who come to watch the festivities.
If you want to experience a drive to Valbonne and see some footage of the village, you might spend a few minutes watching “Scenic Drive: Cannes to Valbonne, Southern France,” filmed by Craig Simons and placed on YouTube.