Why Aubigny-sur-Nère in Berry celebrates Scotland?


Aubigny-sur-Nère main street during the 2018 Franco-Scottish Festival - Aubigny sur Nère : rue principale pendant les Fêtes Franco-Ecossaises. © OT Berry-Sologne

Aubigny-sur-Nère main street during the 2018 Franco-Scottish Festival – Aubigny sur Nère : rue principale pendant les Fêtes Franco-Ecossaises. © OT Berry-Sologne

Have you ever heard of the Fêtes Franco-Ecossaises in the middle of France? Then, you may be wondering why Aubigny-sur-Nère celebrates Scotland, in the Berry region.

Especially as it is, since the Middle Ages, home of the friendship between both nations.

This town, a former stronghold of the Stuart (originally Stewart) of Darnley, hosts every year the Franco-Scottish Festival. The next edition of this event will take place from 12 to 14th of July 2019.

Stuart castle in Aubigny sur Nère with Auld Alliance sword. © OT Berry-Sologne

Stuart castle in Aubigny sur Nère with Auld Alliance sword. © OT Berry-Sologne

In this small town of about 5000 inhabitants, cultural exchanges with Scotland are important. In addition to the former Stuart Castle, there is a research center on the Auld Alliance, Pipe band classes (bagpipes and percussion), a pairing with Haddington (near Edinburgh) and of course the Franco-Scottish Feasts.

 So, why Aubigny-sur-Nère in Berry celebrates Scotland? In fact, this attachment is very old.

The Auld Alliance

The city was offered in 1423 by King Charles VII of France to Sir John Stewart Lord of Darnley (comte Jean Stuart de Darnley), constable of the Scottish army. This royal gift was a reward for the military support of Scotland against the English during the Hundred Years War.

Joan of Arc and her Scottish guard. Painting by John Duncan

Joan of Arc and her Scottish guard. Painting by John Duncan. Public domain.

Thus, in the name of the Auld Alliance, the 5000 to 6000 Scottish soldiers commanded by John Stuart fought alongside the French. This was the case in the Loire Valley to help Joan of Arc lift the siege of Orleans. John Stewart lost his life there with his step brother William. For nearly 400 years, the Stewart family retained their fiefdom until the end of their lineage in 1672.

Battle of the Herrings - Bataille des Harengs - Orléans region (Rouvray Saint-Denis) 1429

Battle of Rouvray, or “of the Herrings” – Orléans region (Rouvray Saint-Denis) 1429. Where John Stuart de Darnley and his brother William died.

But since the Middle Ages, Scotland is still in the hearts of Aubigny-sur-Nère inhabitants. Moreover, these Franco-Scottish Festivals are the main testimony of it. The first took place in 1931 and since 1990 they are organized every year.

So, let’s meet up this summer in Aubigny-sur-Nère where many activities will await visitors in a friendly atmosphere:

Historical parade, The night of bagpipes, big fireworks, Pipe bands, medieval scottish market and feasts, Scottish games and more…

Photo credit: Courtesy of OT Berry-Sologne

Discovering Aubigny-sur-Nère

It is the biggest town in the north of the Cher department (administrative region of Centre-Val de Loire). It is located at the frontier of the natural regions of Sologne and Pays Fort, west of the former Berry royal province. Its downtown is lively thanks to the presence of high-tech industries (such as Mécachrome or Wilo-Intec) and numerous shops and associations.

The main assets of its patrimony are:  St Martin’s church, the streets with their half-timbered houses of the sixteenth century, Louise de Keroualle’s gardens and of course the Stuart Castle.

Also worth to mention, specially for gastronomy lovers: every Saturday, Aubigny-sur-Nère hosts a large market where you can find typical rural products, depending on the season. Last but not least, don’t miss the local specialties: Berry green lentils, potato pancake (galette de pommes de terre), crottin de Chavignol (goat cheese), Sancerre and Menetou Salon wines. A surprise product now: the whiskey Auld Alliance with peaty notes, original brand of Aubigny-sur-Nère. Bon appétit and slàinte!

Going further in the Berry Sologne region

After having spent your day in Aubigny-sur-Nère, why you don’t take advantage of your stay to visit Sologne and Pays Fort areas?

This territory is characterized by the vast forests and the numerous ponds of Sologne, fields and bocages of Pays Fort.

A gateway to Scotland

But this nice festival is not enough for those are fond of Scottish culture. Besides, the Sologne region does not have quite the same landscape that makes Scotland nature so special and beautiful.

Spending three days in Aubigny-sur-Nère and enjoying the festival should make you want to visit a friendly country, over there in the North.

Scotland awaits you!

Enjoy street entertainment, shows, exhibitions and grandiose landscapes!

To make your choice, take advantage of the advice of the Tourist Office of Scotland, or immerse yourself in the travel guides, of course.

Here is a selection of last summer and autumn events that may be renewed this year. I’ll update soon the programme.

First of all, the many Edinburgh Summer Festivals:

The Fringe Festival, 3 – 27 August 2018

Edinburgh International Festival, 3 – 27 August 2018

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 3 – 25 August 2018

Edinburgh Art Festival, 26 July – 26 August 2018

Edinburgh International Book Festival, 11 – 27 August 2018

Edinburgh Mela, 1-2 September 2018

Scottish International Storytelling Festival, 19 – 31 October 2018

And many other activities and places to discover:

European Championships Glasgow 2018,   2-12 Ausgust

Moat Brae, the birthplace of Peter Pan, Dumfries – Already partially open to the public – Inauguration in November 2018 

Victoria and Albert Museum, Dundee (V&A), to be open on the 15th of September 2018.

The Willow Tea Room, Glasgow – September 2018

Information provided by Visit Scotland

Find out more

Local information

Town Hall website and event program

only in French but fortunately some information in English is available on the Tourist Office website about:

The Franco Scottish Festival

Aubigny-sur-Nère: the City of the Stuarts

Social-cultural exchanges from both countries

Aubigny-Haddington Pairing Committee website

Regional tourist information

Tourist Office of Sauldre et Sologne

NB: the Facebook link on the top of their website is broken. To reach their new page, please go to : Berry Sologne Tourisme. Only in French too.

Tourist Information about Berry region

It seems that the automatic translation into English of this website is not working. I’m making enquiries about it and will keep you tuned.

And, of course, don’t miss to visit Scotland!

Tourist Office of Scotland

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