Sunday, 18 August 2013

Homme cuisine and feu d'artifice

After Friday morning’s procession around the bay, the Fêtes de St Vincent reached its spectacular climax with that evening’s firework display over the same water.

Having made the gargantuan mistake last year of imagining that we would easily be able to find somewhere to eat, and then discovering that this was far from the case, as thousands of people pour into the village, we had resolved to eat at ‘home’.

One of the major selling points of the place we’re renting is that it has a small roof terrace – delightfully private and a total sun trap. And on that terrace is a small barbeque.

I’d picked up a large steak (quite enough for the two of us) and a length of the local Catalan sausage, and we marinaded the former in garlic, oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and pepper.

And then it was time for a spot of homme cuisine.

The Other Half got a little fire going and eventually, popped on the meat. Since there was no through draft and because it was so small, it turned out to be a tad more awkward than he had imagined, given his experience in these matters.

However, he got there and we dined pleasantly at the window, as people continued to cram into whatever space they could find to watch the display.

One of the other selling points of this house is that the aforementioned roof terrace is part of an added third floor, linked to the rest of the house by a small room, which has a wine fridge that keeps nothing very cold – but also two huge windows that give a wonderful vista right over the bay.

From the moment we’d spotted this particular place, we know that it would fully come into its own for the fireworks.

Indeed, when the display was underway, we could almost feel it.

Fountains of light cascading down Collioure’s iconic bell tower, chateau and lighthouse; gold exploding in the velvet heavens.

Red, green and blue flowers bursting into bloom and fading away in seconds; purple streaking into the sky above, reflected in the mill pond sea below.

And, as with last year, red hearts above.

I never used to be much of a fan of fireworks, but done like this – as opposed to your father fiddling around in the back garden with a rocket or two and a catherine wheel on 5 November – they’re quite wonderful.

The added bonus was that having such a view also enabled me to rest my arms on the window sill and keep steady as I photographed it.

This is not quite the end of the festival – there were more sardanes yesterday and a ‘traditional ball’ in our part of the village at night.

As we returned from eating out, we found the carpark at the back of the beach full of dancers (there was even an example of French dad dancing) as a band played on the stage that had been erected next to the pétanque court.

It was more of the same boisterous fun, with a touch of anarchy, that characterises the festival – and seems to be a reflection of Collioure as a whole.

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