11th July 2010. The telltale signs that the Fête de Bayonne is approaching are starting to become visible around town.. Council workmen are erecting barriers on central reservations and roundabouts to stop parking; big signs have appeared warning the unwary that the centre of town will be closed to traffic; in the Place des Basques, barriers have been installed to enforce orderly bus queueing (haha!). What is the Fête de Bayonne, I hear you ask..? Imagine a cultural spectrum with say, a Welsh Eisteddfod at one end and the San Fermin festival at Pamplona at the other.. The Fête de Bayonne lies somewhere between the two.. Bayonne's population hovers around the 40,000 mark and, over the duration of the Fête, well over a million visitors will descend on the town.. the overwhelming majority of whom will be dressed in white with a red sash around the waist and a red neckerchief.. I must admit to finding it slightly disturbing when walking through town during the Fête and everyone's dressed the same. It's something to do with the loss of individual identity of the public. (Rightly or wrongly, I always draw a mental parallel with Germany in the 30s) Here's a short clip that gives a flavour of it:
This next clip features a song close to the hearts of all in the Pays Basque, but especially Bayonne..
Here's some of the madness.. not sure what you'd call this animal.. it's not a bull but I don't think you'd want to get involved in an exchange of views with it!