Bastille Day celebrations in France got a surprise performance this year from Samba Galêz. The band was invited to play for the firework display in La Coquille, in the Dordogne region, and for the official Bastille Day evening in Jumilhac, in the shadow of the town’s 15th century chateau.

Samba is a new phenomenon in France – many residents were unsure what to make of a band which has only percussion instruments. Their initial shock and awe was soon replaced by enthusiasm – especially from one ginger-haired seven-year-old who danced around in front of the band despite the best efforts of his father to make him behave with some decorum on the official National Day!

Celebrations of La Gloire Française soon gave way to more dancing, clapping and cheering as people got into the rhythm: “ca marche” was replaced by “ça roule” and even the occasional “formidable!” as the evening progressed. Around 10 pm the band stopped for the firework display – also “formidable!” – and some barbecued saucissons and porc, avec frites naturellement!

During the band’s time in the Dordogne there were plenty of opportunities to visit the area, including the martyred village of Oradour-sur-Glane, the caves at Lascaux, and of course the local flea markets, restaurants, castles, churches, and river walks.

The band’s gratitude goes out to Gill and Roger for hosting the event, liaising with the authorities at the French end, and organising all the accommodation: and of course to Matron Kim and everyone else who contributed time and effort to making the trip such a success.

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