Okay so this is one French word ‘papillon’ that I cannot for the life of me prononce properly (and it’s not even that hard!) not without being stripped of all my dignity and self-respect. What French word does that to you? Mr Normandy always corrects me on the pronunciation “you mean…” cue saying it properly. Whatever. Anyhow, it means butterfly – a word I can pronounce so this literally means butterflies of the night although google translate has it down as a moth.
You say tomato, I say tomayto aside – last May when we moved here we had no idea this festival was so close to us. Our house hunting really was on the lucky side in terms of location. Turns out we did pretty good – see my previous post on the weather climate of a village close by (no names, no names erm let’s just say it likes a bit of granite!). Even today it had white knucke driving fog conditions and I actually got overtaken. This is a new one for me. Let me say this again. I was overtaken in thick fog, so thick you wouldn’t have been able to see the car on the other side, crash into you should you decide to overtake. Well done for still being alive that driver #bravo.
Get on with it. Ok so the effort that goes into organising this event must be immense, with approximately on average 70,000 people, turning up for the three day festival from all over France. I love driving through Saint Laurent de Cuves prior to the event, seeing them set up and as the event draws nearer there’s a real buzz around town. Last year, my son so happened to cycle through the route (closed to cars as it was in full swing) and had several drunken festival goers pushing him up the hill with cries of “allez” – he enjoyed it so much he purposely did it again this year. Who needs the Tour de France when you can cycle pass The Papillons De Nuit on a barmy evening?
I’m not really a festival goer. I’ve never actually been. I do like a concert – if I have a seat and toilet facilities. What can I say I am getting old. The last concert I went to was at the O2 in London to see The Killers – an amazing concert. Prior to moving I had tickets to see Richard Ashcroft doing his own stuff plus The Verve’s back catalogue, alas, I wasn’t able to go (long story) so it’s been a while since I’ve been to a gig.
Now, the line up isn’t’ quite ‘A’ list although I have it on good authority that quite a few years back (this festival has been going for 18 years) the Foo Fighters and The Killers have played at The Papillons de Nuit. Can you imagine if that were to happen again? Screams!
Miss Normandy was very keen to go – she’s 12 going on 18 and like myself she doesn’t like to miss out on anything. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of this festival coming to little old Normandy, Manche 50. Another person who was totally up for going was our good friend Linda aged 70! She’s so fit and healthy and is always up for going to anything. A real inspiration – she normally jumps at the chance to see new places and experience new things. So it was a done deal.
Mr Normandy said he couldn’t think of anything worse and the boys weren’t fussed about going either.
The festival runs over the course of 3 days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Sunday is their family day so we plumped for this. On that Friday (tickets weren’t sold out this year) I dashed to the Mairie’s of our village to buy some tickets. They didn’t sell them but told me to go quickly to Saint Laurent and purchase them in the bar there. Aptly named The Papillon. The roads would be shut to all traffic at 12pm. I booted it down there with my dodgy car brakes (now fixed) and kamikaze parked outside. The lady inside duly printed my tickets in exchange for 90 euros – adults are 45 euros each and my little lady got in free as she’s 12. Excellent.
Turns out I probably could have just done this at home on my computer rather than whizz down to Saint Laurent and use their computer. Well it’s good for my French and she did actually teach me how to pronounce 12 properly. I always pronounce it like it’s the number 2 so she’s saying to me “ahh your daughter is tiny”. Incidentally, when this has occurred before and I say no she’s onze, douze they still don’t get it. Like what could possibly come after 11? So, she corrected me and I attempted it 3x before I learnt that I must emphasise the doooooooooooooosssssssssss bit. So I must thank her for that. I left with tickets and being able to say 12 properly – I wouldn’t have got that at home now would I.
Whilst at the Mairie’s I had picked up a free programme to the event which gives you all the stage locations, toilets (essential) and other useful bits and bobs. I also discovered that it is a cashless system once inside. I liked this although I’m sure it means you probably spend more money than you would like, it does save faffing about with change and what not. You simply go online (all links are below) and top up your bracelet with money. You will get your bracelet once you arrive at the venue. At the end of the festival you simply request a refund (if you have any money owing) and it gets credited to your bank account.
There are also free concerts going on during the day, so if you wanted to experience the atmosphere of the revellers, but didn’t want to pay to go inside, I would highly recommend this. The food stands from what I could gather were taking cash on one particular stage area although picnics were also welcome. The bar, given the size of the event, in town was surprisingly easy to purchase a drink from. There was a man selling pizza from a van and a stall selling butterflies. Further along, the local man that we see everywhere – we affectionately call him Mario due to his large moustache – was selling his sausage and chips. I mean an event isn’t an event without a sausage in France.
Entry into the main event is an hour before the first concert. We duly queued up in the glare of the sunshine – they were blessed this year with perfect weather. There was a middle-aged couple in front of us that, quite frankly, needed to get a room! Seriously they were full on tongues and grinding and it was all a bit yuk and even the youngsters were like eurgh!
Once at the security check point, I was given a brief frisk and my two water bottles were confiscated and my sun tan lotion! Given that I have really pale skin and the sun was beating down I was a little miffed that my factor 50 was deemed as a dangerous weapon. I did say but it’s not dangerous – nope I wasn’t having it back. However, my chair and Linda’s chair and picnic bag (bless – she’d made salads, had bought plastic plates, cutlery and napkins – she is an essential item to bring if you go to a festival!) were allowed in.
So on the security front it was a bit inconsistent. Nevertheless after coming to terms with the fact that I was going to get burnt for the day we decided to check it all out.
Incidentally, a note to the organisers. I appreciate that you are on the look out for items that could be used to cause harm and coming from London I’m aware of the increase of acid attacks. Having said this, there were many teens who were badly sun burnt and very drunk a winning combination for an A&E visit plus it was a family day so lots of young children. I really think there needs to be a re-think of this policy or at the very least have a sun cream lotion stand so that people can buy some whilst inside. That is my only minor criticism of the event.
The athmosphere was lovely inside, there were proper toilets and all the staff were friendly. There was a charging point for phones, a family area and a ferris wheel. My friend had tickets to the VIP area (darn it) and you could easily access food and drinks with minimal queuing. Although a mojito is not white wine/rose with mint and ice-cubes. I sunk it down in any event. Linda loved the act Calypso Rose and we did recognise one song we’d heard on the radio from ‘Slimane’ – he did save his best to last.
One rookie mistake I made was not taking our empty plastic bottles to get our refund – I did think that 14 euros for 3 bottles of water and a coke was a bit much but given the novice that I am thought it was part of the gig experience. So yes, remember to take them back as I should have got over 5 euros refunded. I did actually come away with money on my little wristband. This is very unlike me. Takes a bow.
We didn’t stay for the whole event and left about 8.30pm – we’d been there since 12pm and I’m a leightweight what can I say. Mr Normandy picked us up and I was tucked up in bed by 11pm.
So if you fancy going next year in June (not May) then I would highly recommend it. It’s a great day out for all the family. Here are some handy links below to help you plan your visit:-