Friday, April 06, 2007

Jane's guest blog - Antiboulenc Association

Antibes (Port Vauban and Vieille Ville) viewed from Fort Carré
(point and click to enlarge)
Today's post is from my better half Jane, writing in her capacity as Secretary of our local Antiboulenc Association of which we have been members now for the best part of four years.
Aunty what ? Well, I'll let her explain.

The Antiboulenc Association was founded more than 40 years ago by a local lady, interested in the history of Antibes. The adjective "antiboulenc" is the medieval form of the modern "antibois" and comes from the original name of the town - Antipolis. It was originally thought that "the place opposite", which is what Antipolis means, referred to the town opposite Nice on the other side of the Baie des Anges. There is another theory that it meant the place opposite Corsica, because the currents brought ships in that direction.

The association started out with a library and over time various other activities were added, such as a film club and art groups. We now have two centres: the library ( and premises on the rue de la Tourraque, also in the old town, where the various groups such as water-colour painting, sculpture, ceramics meet.
All the groups are run by volunteers, who have expertise in the different spheres. We are a non-profit-making organisation and one of the original aims was to welcome strangers who had come to live in Antibes, rather as the Accueil des Villes Françaises does now.
The membership is mainly French, but there are also Italians, Belgians, Scandinavians, Brazilians and Britons. One of the most popular groups is that for conversation in French for foreigners. There are also classes and conversation groups in English and Italian.

One of my jobs as secretary is to organise our various evening parties.
The Beaujolais evening and the Carnival evening are annual events and we try to add as many different themed parties as possible.
Last month we had a Soirée Exotique, with rum and punch rather than wine, and in May we are holding a European evening to celebrate Europe Day and the fact that the secretary and her two assistants are all non-French, ie British, Italian and Belgian.
For this everyone attending will be asked to provide a dish from one of the member states of the EU and the wine choice will reflect this diversity as far as possible. The picnic at the end of June, in some local beauty-spot, such as Cabris or Gourdon, marks the end of the year's activities, with everyone bringing goodies to share round.

A couple of years ago, when I was assistant secretary, I organised a fairly riotous Scottish evening.

Make sure your speakers are switched on, then just point and click to start video

With the kind assistance of the Loch Fyne group a buffet of Scottish delicacies was provided.
My mother's recipe book came in handy too. The Drambuie went down well but for some reason the Irn Bru was less popular! Even the haggis was well-received. And Andy Stewart provided the background music. Long live the Auld Alliance!

Two recent day trips this year have been to the offices of the local paper Nice-Matin and to the air force base at Mont Agel behind Monaco.
Mont Agel was the last fort of the Maginot line and is now one of France's air-defence posts, keeping a watchful eye on the skies above the Mediterranean.
The next outing planned is a four-day trip to Northern Italy to visit places of historical interest as well as galleries. Past journeys have been to Barcelona and Genoa, when that was the European city of culture. The interests of the Antiboulenc Association are not just local.

Speakers are regularly invited to give talks on subjects ranging from the paintings of Cézanne to the military harbour of Villefranche.
This year marks anniversaries of the Greek writer Kazantzaki, who spent the last years of his life in Antibes, and of the celebrated military architect Vauban. We will be paying tribute to both of them.
Our website at gives details of the current month's events such as the videos to be shown and the book choice of the reading group, as well as notice of future activities.
Update: Sunday 8th April: Received the following message from Jackie (and faithful companion, cocker-springer Loui):
"Not had time to write but I loved your little video of the Scottish evening!!

I did go to your web site for the Antiboulenc Association and decided that me dechiperhing the text (with my very poor French!) after having a brandy or two wasn't ideal so will go back and read it tomorrow!

Do you celebrate Easter in France still??"
Hello again Jackie. Glad to hear your weather's good for the Bank Holiday (most unBritish!!).
The Malaysian Grand Prix is about to start - we'll be back with an answer about the French way of celebrating Easter later.
Grand Prix over: Fernando Alonso , last year's champion was the winner. Jane is a keen follower of Formula 1, and has taken me to Silverstone and (last year) to Monza, and took G to see the Monaco Grand Prix. We have seats booked for Spa in Belgium in September. Jane has been asked to do her second guest blog next weekend, to coincide with the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Here's her reply to your question, Jackie, about how the French celebrate Easter:
"Yes, Jackie, Easter is celebrated in France as in Britain, although Good Friday is not a "jour férié" (Bank Holiday), which surprises me in a Catholic country.
Bakers and sweet shops are full of chocolate Easter eggs, rabbits, chickens and even some odd additions. Ever heard of Easter lions or scottie dogs?

Many restaurants have a special Easter menu today. We had lunch with friends and enjoyed the 5-course set menu with a main dish of lamb, of course.
Update Sunday 11:50pm
"Hi Colin and Jane

Nope, never heard of Easter lions or even Easter Scottie dogs but there's always a first time for everything! Then again, my rule of thumb is, if it's chocolate, eat it!

Have a great weekend!

J x
And you Jackie !
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