Monday, August 10, 2009
The more I think about it, the more I realize that just about everything here is considered to be the country’s “patrimoine.” In the past 24 hours alone, I’ve heard or read references to the “patrimoine historique” (a chateau), the “patrimoine culturel” (same chateau), and the “patrimoine naturel” (birds at that chateau); there’s a national patrimoine, a departmental patrimoine and even each “commune” has one with a corresponding association.
So really, there’s no choice but to work from within this concept. Here’s an example of how: In Paziols, there’s a public announcement system and three or four times daily a representative from the “mairie” (the town hall) broadcasts the day’s events, always beginning with “allo, allo.”
“Allo, allo. The fishmonger has arrived at the town square and will be there until noon.”
“Allo, allo. There will be a Claude Nougaro tribute in Font-Romeu this evening. Paella.”
“Allo, allo. The association of wild boar hunters will meet next Tuesday.”
What makes these announcements doubly enjoyable is the musical interlude with which they are prefaced: a full minute of Etienne Daho, George Brassens, Olivia Newton John will briefly interrupt the quiet air.
Intrigued by this quirky use of the “patrimoine musical,” I decided to visit the mairie. The first thing I encountered was a table displaying local wines, then a table with a variety of pamphlets describing local spots of interest, and also opportunities for youth to volunteer to preserve buildings – “Mission: Patrimoine” it declared.
When I asked the woman about her selection, she said that it was whim that directed her. A large stack of CDs at her side, she went back to work, as I clearly needed no further assistance.