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74. Wedding in Beaujolais – The Great Day!

We all gathered outside the Mairie in Chiroubles a few minutes before the ceremony was due to start. It started to rain, which made the vignerons happy, because it hadn't rained since 1st May. The bride and groom appeared about twenty minutes later in two separate Citroens Deux Chevaux, Mathieu with his brother and the Pauline with her father. We all squeezed into the room where the ceremony was to be held – it was approximately twenty feet square. It was a squash. The mayor had a wonderfully French set of whiskers, a flamboyant handlebar moustache. He went through the proceedings and at the end declared them man and wife and wished them many fruitful harvests, an elegant double entendre much appreciated by all those present.

We then moved next door to the vast premises of the Co-operative of Chiroubles for a Vin d'Honneur, the reception. There must have been around 300 people there. We went and had a lie-down after this. But more was to come – a dinner in the evening for 150 people.

The evening's proceedings started around seven o'clock, with drinks and canapés. A devastatingly good-looking local singer, utterly French, with a cloth cap, sang utterly French songs accompanying himself on the accordion. He was brilliant. We finally sat down to supper around nine o'clock, and a 15 litre bottle of Mathieu's family's Fleurie from the great 1985 vintage (Mathieu's birth year) was opened, as well as magnums of Pauline's family's 2009 Chiroubles. There was plenty of singing, and people stood up on their chairs to sing the French drinking song where you put your hands up as if screwing in a light bulb and going: "Laaa-laaa, la-la-la ......" And then we played a game where we were given a piece of paper with ten items on it, such as "Stand up if you're a vigneron - Stand up if you wear glasses" – and so on. The last one was "Stand up if you're happy to be here." So everybody stood up, stood on their chairs, sang songs.

The main course was followed by cheese, and Mathieu's father sang a beautiful, affecting song in honour of his son, and Pauline's niece played a solo on her oboe. We finally had dessert at about 11.30. Mathieu's brother, who was in effervescent form, gave us a glass of yellow Chartreuse.

Then the dancing started. We got to bed at 3.30. It is the custom in France that the newly-weds do not spend their first night in their own house, but somewhere secret, and people have to find them next morning. Pauline and Mathieu finally turned in at 6.30. They slept in their van.