Fest Noz at the Castle

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I’m not sure how I ended up in a circle, holding hands with strangers and dancing as fast as I could to the sound of the music. In the moment, it just felt like the right thing to do—one of these spontaneous decisions made during a late-night walk, as we strolled by the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany.

Last Saturday night, a Breton festival was held in the courtyard of the castle. It was close to midnight and everyone was free to join the end of the party. We walked across the drawbridge and found a large crowd listening to traditional music. Breton culture is taken seriously in Nantes , and so are festoù-noz “(Breton for “night festivals”), a fun way to celebrate the regional identity. People eat galettes and crêpes, drink cider, listen to live musicians playing acoustic instruments and dance in a chain or in a circle.

I took a few pictures, then decided to join the dance. I’m not sure why I did: except for the fact I grew up in Nantes, I don’t have a drop of Breton blood and I’m not a good dancer. Back in my teenage years, I would rather go to cafés and restaurants than nightclubs. But at this precise moment, I had no reason not to join. On that hot summer night, I wanted to experience the trance-like dance, interlocking pinkies with strangers, trying complex and swift steps, running around, spinning and going for as long as I could.

The music was loud and repetitive, perfect for this kind of collective dance. It’s a very friendly activity as you are by default included in circles and chains. I stepped on the dancefloor and second later, I was in. The Castle is a magical place at night and for a little while, time didn’t matter. When the music finally stopped, I was sweaty but happy.

I should follow my instinct more often… It felt good.

Courtyard of Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Courtyard of Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Courtyard of Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Courtyard of Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

The crowd dancing

The crowd dancing

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Feet dancing

Feet dancing

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Bour-Bodros Quintet

Feet dancing

Feet dancing

At the end of the night

At the end of the night

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

8 Comments

  1. I’ve only tried the Norman variety, and I don’t know whether there’s a big difference between the Norman and the Breton varieties, but your post reminded me of the gallettes I had in Normandy, filled with stinky andouille sausage, washed by very good cold cider! Those were good!

    • I think the galettes are very similar. Fillings are different though, although not so much these days unless you want to go traditional.

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