A holiday in rural France is ideal for really getting to know the area. If you would like to mingle with the locals and savour the atmosphere, French festivals and fetes offer the perfect opportunity to do just that. For those staying at one of our many beautiful gites to rent in south west France during August, the Grand Pruneau Show is one of the most unusual events in this area.
This original and colourful event, also known as the Big Prune Show, celebrates a favourite fruit of the region in unique style. It is held just before the children go back to school after the long summer holidays, in late August or at the start of September. This year’s festival will be held from August 25 to 27 in Agen and will be the 13th time the festival has been held since it was founded in 2005.
The Pruneau Show
The Pruneau Show is free and has something to entertain everyone in the family. Over three days and evenings, the event creates a lively festival atmosphere with concerts for all musical tastes, roving brass bands, street theatre, sporting displays, exhibitions and market stalls, many featuring the locally emblematic dried plum. There are plenty of diversions for kids like balloon sculpture and face painting. At the other end of the scale, this year the Pruneau Show will also host the 92nd French Chess Championship.
Events kick off on Friday evening in a colourful parade with over 50 local cultural and sporting associations. The procession inaugurates the “Boulevard du Prunneau”, which becomes the heart of the festival for the next three days. Each day culminates in a concert on the main stage. This year the headliners are top names Julian Perretta, Vianney and Gilbert Montagné.
On Friday night, Perretta, a London-born singer and composer, will get the crowd dancing with his pop and soul music hits. Vianney will be filling the classic French town square around the main stage with his poetic voice on Saturday night. Be sure, also on Saturday evening, to catch the support act – Floriane Tiozzo with her truly inspired compositions melding her warm voice and saxophone and accordion instrumentals, Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Finishing the concert programme on Sunday night, Gilbert Montagné delivers the classic mix of blues and rock that he’s been known for in France since the 80’s.
In total, music fans can enjoy six great acts on the main stage, five additional concerts at other show venues, and nine musical street acts. The street scene is rounded out with theatre and comedy, including a crazy history of the prune and the story of the Three Musketeers in 30 minutes.
One of the biggest draws of the show is the sporting programme along the banks of the Garonne. Last year it drew in 6000 visitors. This year, there will be demonstrations or introductory lessons for wall climbing and diving. A beach space will host volley ball and football. Along the Garonne there will be bouncy castles, martial arts, gymnastics, rugby, table tennis, basketball, roller skating and archery. And this year’s festival will include the regional championship of petanque, the typically French form of bowls.
Prunes in the Lot Valley
Why is the prune important enough to have its own festival? When you stay in the Lot Valley, you will soon find out the reasons! The area between the Lot and Garonne rivers is home to 11,500 hectares of plum orchards. The plums are a special variety made from a cross between local plums and damsons brought back from Syria by the crusaders. Today, most of the crop is transformed – through drying in special ovens – into prunes. It is an important industry, with around 40,000 tonnes of Agen prunes produced, generating a revenue of 119 million euros. The name ‘Pruneau d’Agen’ is a now a recognised Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
There are many good reasons why the humble prune can proudly join the ranks of today’s superfoods. It’s more than just a question of good digestion. Here are the top five reasons the prune is a superfood that the producers think we should know about:
- Prunes are good for slimming – the fibres help you feel full and each average fruit only contains 20 calories.
- They contain potassium which helps lower blood pressure.
- The magnesium is said to be good for reducing anxiety.
- Prunes release their sugars slowly so are good for avoiding hyperglycaemic peaks.
- They are rich in antioxydants.
We think they’re delicious. Check out our favourite ideas for enjoying prunes here.
South west France is an area where there is plenty of delicious food and drink to enjoy. All Kingfisher Holidays’ gites to rent in south west France have well-equipped kitchens and areas for eating al fresco, so you can enjoy experimenting with local French foods and trying recipes as well as eating out.
Contact Kingfisher Holidays for more details of our holiday gites.