Octogenerian friends

This week I attended a delightful party for two friends who have reached 80. Weird to think my friends are that age now – but that’s another topic.

René Ruer was a businessman in the Paris area until in retirement he and his wife moved to Bréau, where he has thrown himself with energy and generosity into local affairs, and was till the last elections, a deputy mayor. He partially officiated Ed and my daughter Jude’s wedding in Bréau nine years ago. René and Jacqueline have been friends for years and were fond of Chris.

Francis Delabarre and his wife Mireille are newer friends. Parisians, they spend chunks of the year in Avèze, in a lovely old family home. Francis is a delightful, gentle soul. It is Mireille who usually has “la parole” until Francis interjects with a short witticism. He was a publisher and also did desktop publishing (on a Mac of course) so I also like to talk about his work. He is currently part of a team trying to save the le Vigan museum and has mounted two superb exhibitions there.

So these two friends got together to celebrate. About 80 friends and family gathered at the restaurant up on the Causses, with a view of the magnificent Cirque de Navacelles just in view.  It was a lovely event, good food, even better wine and champagne and an excellent band.  We sat outside in the (now autumn) sun, at tables of eight – but with plenty of room to circulate round other tables.  The company was a good mix of Parisians, Cevenoles (locals) and people like me.  There were the friends of René, of Francis, and those of both.

Francis and René gave amusing and sometimes moving accounts of the passage of time through their 80 years. Lulu Vaquier (whom I suspect could now be nearer 90 than 80), known as a local speaker of Occitan who over the years has made our local fetes in Serres with his rendition with friends of well loved songs of the Midi.  This time he sang a favourite, joined in as usual by many of us, appropriately named ‘Quatre-vingts Chasseurs’ (about a Marquise and her 84 hunters… …).

A lovely occasion.


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