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 last edition of this event took place from 13 to 15th of July 2018.
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.
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.
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 each 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, sketch on Louise de Keroualle, “Outside Duo” concert (Celtic music group).
Photo credit: Courtesy of OT Berry-Sologne
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 summer events and for the next six months
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
And here comes some photos as a foretaste of your next visit in Alba* :
Photo credits: Courtesy of Visit Scotland Tourist Office / Kenny Lam / Ian Rutherford, all rights reserved.
*Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland.
Find out more
only in French but fortunately some information in English is available on the Tourist Office website about:
Social-cultural exchanges from both countries
Regional tourist information
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.
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!