We live on a quiet street. Although we’re only a block away from a major thoroughfare, the solid stone houses that separate the two rues mean that we can leave our windows open and still carry on a conversation in the house. Unless an impatient driver blows the horn at the car in front of them, we typically hear only birds chirping or a friendly “bonjour” from a neighbor passing by. It does mean, however, that any other sounds that interrupt the tranquility, such as that irritating beep-beep-beep back up warning signal that construction vehicles use, are really obvious.
One day last week Bill asked me if I had noticed a steady sound, like a motor running, that had already lasted for hours. Those same stone walls that protect us from a lot of road noise also create an echo effect down our street which makes it difficult to determine where music or voices, for example, are coming from. By chance he looked out our bedroom window and found the scene you can view here in the photo. Why was there a crane lifting a box of something over the castle walls and why had it, apparently, been going on all day?
It didn’t take long to remember that Bastille Day, July 14, was approaching and that Carcassonne has the second largest fireworks show in the nation, topped only by Paris at the Eiffel Tower. Last year, for over half an hour, close to 700,000 spectators were treated to a non-stop display of pyrotechnics that concluded with 1200 bursts in 6 seconds. I suppose that’s going to take a while to load all of those skyrockets, Roman candles, comets, fountains, spinners, and sparklers into the castle. It’s a good thing that the walls are 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) thick or we’d be seeing a lot more than fireworks flying through the air.
So, if it’s already a bit noisy a few days before the Fête Nationale (National Holiday) what’s it going to be like on the 14th? Come back at the end of this week for part 2. In the meantime here’s a link to a video of a 4-minute version of last year’s celebration.