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

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 a pairing with the town of Haddington (near Edinburgh) . You will also enjoy Pipe band classes (bagpipes and percussion) and, of course, the Franco-Scottish Feasts.

So, why Aubigny-sur-Nère in Berry celebrates Scotland?

In fact, this attachment is very old…

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

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.

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

Thus, in the name of the Auld Alliance, 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 this summer in Aubigny-sur-Nère! There, many activities will await visitors in a friendly atmosphere. You will find: an 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..

Aubigny sur Nère downtown Photo : Ji-Elle - CC-BY-SA 3.0

Also worth to mention, specially for gastronomy lovers: every Saturday, Aubigny-sur-Nère hosts a large market. You will find there 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.

Find out more

 Aubigny-sur-Nère Town Hall website  (unfortunately only in French)

Programme of the event  (unfortunately only in French 2)

Aubigny – Haddington pairing Committee (unfortunately only in French 3)

Berry Sologne – Tourist Office website (fortunately translated into English. Even if the translation is apparently made automatically)

This website seems to be focused on the Sologne area, as part of the Berry province