Two weekends ago, I was at O.K.'s. It was his Mum's birthday on the Saturday, and by coincidence the band where his Dad plays were booked for a performance in France. So we all - parents, O.K.'s sister and her husband, O.K. and I - went along for the short trip across the border and the afternoon and evening in France.
A bus took the band with all their instruments, family and friends to Haguenau, a town of some 35,000 inhabitants. Typical for the region of Alsace, over the centuries it has changed hands several times between France and Germany. Interestingly, during its early history as a town, for a while it was under the rule of Richard of Cornwall (in the 13th century).
You can find out a lot more about Haguenau and see better pictures of the place than the ones I managed to take here on wikipedia.
We were there on the Saturday, but already all week, an international festival of music and dance had been going on in town, the Festival du Houblon. Houblon is French for hops, and hops used to play a very important role in the region. Until 1910, Haguenau was known as an international exchange for hops. It has since lost its importance for that particular produce, but the "Hall of Hops" (Halle du Houblon) is still there, and that is where we spent the evening, listening to "our" band and of course enjoying the dances and music performed by the other groups - more of that in my next post.
(More about the festival can be found here, but the website is in French and German only.)