Cultural Traditions Passed Down a French Street

by Sheron Long on October 8, 2012

The French village, where I live part-time, opened my eyes last week to the importance in France of passing along culture and heritage, or patrimoine. For French people, patrimoine has to do first with realizing that French arts, history, culture, language, and traditions are the property of everyone French and then with making the commitment to pass that “property” along to the next generation.

French family in a parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Multiple generations of a French family get set for the parade
© Sheron Long

Cultural Traditions on Parade

Passing along cultural heritage and traditions—that’s just what was happening last week on the streets of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a pretty village in the south of France between Avignon and Marseille.

Each fall during the Fêtes Votives, Saint-Rémy remembers its past in a parade of old trades. Proud of their cultural heritage, citizens dress like their ancestors and portray their ancestors’ work roles as they walk twice around the road encircling the village.

Horses and donkeys march, too, and unruly sheep bleat, baaa, and bite at stacks of hay along the way.

Horse neighing in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Horse-drawn wagons recall yesteryear
© Sheron Long

Sheep in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Sheep and shepherds rest a moment during the parade
© Sheron Long

The connection to farm animals is part of the French patrimoine. In fact, everyone in the parade was honoring the agricultural past of Saint-Rémy.  Young women in long skirts and straw hats tossed lavender from the harvest.

Women tossing lavender in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Women tossing lavender to the crowd
© Sheron Long

Farmers rolled rusty equipment through town.

Farmers and equipment in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Farmers and old farm equipment
© Sheron Long

The old winemaker harnessed his horses to haul full barrels of wine on his wooden wagon.

Winemaker in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Winemaker hauling old wooden barrels full of wine
© Sheron Long

The milkman used pedal power to pull two big jugs and one little girl.

Milkman in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Milkman pulling jugs of milk
© Sheron Long

New Generations Connect to Their Cultural Heritage

Every generation participated. In that afternoon together, the French did something more important than putting a smile on the face of the many spectators. They transmitted a love for their French patrimoine to the newer generations. I could see it in the faces of the younger participants.

Girls & donkey in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Younger generations participate
© Sheron Long

Boy on horseback waving in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Proud wave from a boy on horseback
© Sheron Long

And I saw it when I looked at babies who were not sure why they were in a pushcart that day. But I knew why—they were reaching out as if to grasp their French heritage, one that they, too, will soon value and pass along to the generation that follows them.

Oh, I see—if you value your cultural heritage, investing time in traditional celebrations like this one ensures its continuity.

Pushcart babies in parade celebrating French cultural heritage and traditions

Babies ride, too, and travel the road of tradition
© Sheron Long

 More on the Cultural Traditions of France

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. As a special treat, you can enjoy even more images of the south of France in this fun, free ebook. Just click the image below.

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