Posts Tagged ‘La Reboule’

La Fête de la Reboule

September 7, 2014

For the sixth year running, Arlebosc has held its most ambitious event of the year and once again, despite the awful weather we have had this summer, the sun shone all day.   The choice of date is a clever move, the last Sunday in August, just before la Rentrée when everyone is back at home, ready for school to start and looking for a family outing to round off the summer holidays.  The event has become the biggest local draw for fanciers of vintage agricultural machinery and Sunday’s procession of more than 20  tractors through the village – eloquently described as une pétarade – preceded by the combined brass bands of two neighbouring villages, was definitely a highlight.

Markus had been designated official photographer and was on hand and snapping away all day, from the open air Mass which kicked off the festivities to the piglet race at the end of the afternoon.

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The Reboule is a traditional celebration to mark the end of the harvest and its revival in Arlebosc has proved tremendously successful, drawing an impressive crowd. There was a really good brocante plus handcrafts of all kinds for sale, including Fernand’s handmade Ardéchois baskets.  IMG_6073 (800x599)There was an excellent photo exhibition at the Mairie, a tethered hot air balloon, candy floss, a roundabout, pony rides and a wonderful selection of wooden board games of the shove ha’penny variety for the children.  As the afternoon wore on the two-handed sawing contest became increasingly animated and impressive.IMG_6485 (800x538)

The barbecue had been going since early morning and we heard later that over 800 lunches were served.  Very good they were too with jambonnette to start with, tomato salad, grilled pork, frites, local cheese and a home grown peach for dessert.

There was music and line dancing and the buvette did a roaring trade all day.

But undoubtedly the main attractions were of the strictly agricultural kind.  Along with the tractors were exhibited a huge variety of inscrutable items of machinery for winnowing, cutting hay, twisting rope, sawing or apparently for simply puffing away importantly.  Several vitage cars were on show including a couple of beautiful black Traction Avants.

After lunch the tractors were hitched up to an assortment of ancient ploughs whilst enthusiastic teams  guided the plough shares, an event to which the photos hardly do justice, since it is very athletic and requires a good sense of balance and a certain amount of daring.

And all through the afternoon, Roger’s wheat, which we had seen cut and bound in the field above our courtyard, was being threshed using this hundred year old belt driven threshing machine called Albertine.

The following morning the sacks of grain and bales of straw were brought up to be stored in Roger’s barn, bringing the cycle to a close.  Poor Roger is in desperate need of a hip replacement operation, but is stubbornly soldiering on using crutches.  He cannot drive his tractor at the moment  and who knows what the outcome will be, but for this season at least a solution has been found for his wheat harvest combining a popular event, a celebration and the traditional rural solidarity which still operates in an unobtrusive but satisfyingly effective way.

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A Short History of Tractors in the Ardèche

July 24, 2014

At the risk of appearing obsessed, I can’t resist adding Markus’s little film of the binder in action. I’m sure there are other enthusiasts out there!  Click on this


La Lieuse

July 18, 2014



Readers are probably wondering what happened on Monday . . . .

A hopeful delegation showed up, with the venerable binder and tractor combo, but the general opinion was that the wheat was too wet, there having been some heavy showers overnight which incidentally had also dampened the 14th July festivities and fireworks. They did find a bottle of rosé which had been forgotten on the previous occasion and everyone consoled themselves with that.

Now the temperature is back up where it should be, at 30C and yesterday evening everyone returned in full force. The 80 year old binder behaved beautifully, unlike last year, and the job was done in a couple of good humoured hours.

The pictures can speak for themselves.

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Reapers reaping early

July 13, 2014

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For the past few years Arlebosc has organised a Fête de la Reboule at the end of the summer, which has proved to be a great success, in spite of the nay-sayers who were of the opinion that no one would want to come and look at old tractors and steam-driven agricultural machinery.  In fact it draws crowds of people to watch the rope making machine, the ploughing contest, the tug of war and the sawing challenge along with  more traditional attractions, ranging from coconut shies and white elephant stalls to the immensly popular piglet race.  The day starts with an open air mass, then the ancient tractors and vintage cars puff and gasp their way through the village and back.  After that there is of course lunch, and the ploughing and threshing starts in earnest in the afternoon.

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It would be easy to see this as simply a nostalgic look back to how things once were.

But this morning we were able to catch one of the unsung and truly authentic moments which go into the preparation for the event.  We glanced out of our bedroom window to see half a dozen chaps armed with scythes in Roger’s wheat patch above our courtyard wall.  Popping out to see what was going on we caught them just finishing stooking up the first cut.

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We offered them coffee, but it was already far too late for that, so we and Roger joined in their mid morning snack of saucisson, goats’ cheese, bread and un petit coup.

Then everyone headed off to another little patch of wheat hidden amongst the apricot trees, where Firmin, Fernand and Louis expertly scythed around the edge of the field and cut an opening for the tractor to pass through.  Their scythes are different from those used to cut hay as they have a metal contraption attached which bunches up the cut stalks, making it easier for the reapers to bind up the swathes.

Markus was given a lesson in the correct way to do the binding, which is pretty nifty.  Then the swathes were collected, piled into stooks and left to dry out.

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It was a lovely convivial occasion and entirely spontaneous.  The thing which struck us most was the atmosphere between the men, working together in a traditional rural task.  The older ones are farmers born and bred who worked like this for most of their lives and they are clearly pleased that there is a genuine interest in their skills and know-how.  But the younger ones too have lived here all their lives and although they may be artisans or work elsewhere, they have a real understanding of the rural traditions.  We were reminded of the harvests we used to join in with in a tiny North Ardèche village in the 1970s:  the cheerful bantering atmosphere was exactly the same.

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It is really nice to know that the fête in late August, although it may appear to be no more than a nostalgic nod to the past, has at its roots an on-going tradition.  La Reboule, a local dialect word, clebrated the harvest and a successful end to the season’s labours.  A celebration indeed if you consider how many disasters might befall a crop during its months growing in the field and the dire consequences of a bad harvest to a self-sufficient community.

The weather has been unseasonally wet over the past ten days and this was the first moment they have had to open up the field.  On Monday they will be back with a vintage tractor and binder to reap the rest.  Watch this space!


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