In a break by the band, the cook grabs his cow horn and blows a two-note announcement: 'Sauciiiiiiiise!' he yells.
The old and the new cohabit happily.
And the activities of a traditional French marché de nuit sit very happily alongside the alternative lifestyle we're coming to recognise as a key feature of the valleys above Massat.
As dusk draws in, the baba cool (hippie) element comes out, beginning to outnumber the holiday makers and traditional producers of crèpes, honey and leather goods on the stalls. 'I hate the smell of tobacco!', complains one of the boys. 'Don't worry, son, that's not tobacco', reassures his dad.We've moved on from the traditional black tie/black hat band covering English language rock hits of the 20th century, and are being entertained by a much more innovative and exciting band which plays their own French-language reggae-rock pieces, accompanied delightfully by a balalaika. It works! The band are called Atkaz and they are worth listening to here, on MySpace.
We've eaten our saucisse sandwiches to the sound of the rock balalaika and queued for what seems like hours for crèpes (Son 2 has sugar on his, Ben and Son 1 choose honey with cinnamon, and I go for home-made ginger preserve, a gamble that pays off). It's really dark now and I frankly have no idea what time it is. Ben is drinking some valley-produced blackcurrant liqueur, and seems equally unconcerned about the time...
And then everything turns orange...
... and booms that shake lungs and heart fill the square.
There is some ordinary commerce still going on, at least at first. People are still looking at handmade jewellery, handpainted stones and handmade handbags,but the heart-shaking beat of the percussion band draws everyone to it as it ambles (think Shaggy from Scoobydoo) around the square.Certain inhabitants of the square aren't too happy. The boys have finished their crèpes and have decided on a donkey ride to finish the evening, but the donkeys won't be ridden while the booming continues. Their owners are phlegmatic, but must be loosing quite a bit of money as the band plays on and their donkeys fidget nervously.After half an hour of waiting on the corner of the square, with increasingly dark rings under their eyes, the boys are given their wish. I have one of those awful 'mother' moments, where I have to tell the donkey owner currently lifting a small boy onto the animal that he, in fact, promised that place to my sons about 30 minutes ago, and that they've been waiting patiently ever since. Everyone (including the small boy) is politely accepting of this intervention, but I experience that terrible British horror of having 'put myself forward', which I would never have done for anyone but my sons... The boys seem to recognise this, and actually turn and thank me before setting of for a satisfyingly dark ride around the streets of Massat. I think it was the last ride of the night, so it was worth putting myself forward for!
Only the donkeys are going home - babies, children and adults, baba cool and otherwise, are still going strong. Oh look, there's another yurt!For a final treat, the boys choose to spend the last of their money on barbe à papa - yes indeed, in France, this spun sugar candy is called 'Father's beard'! It's commonly spelt barbapapa, which I think is the origin of the name of the famous pink cartoon character.