Montpellier’s Renegade, AWOL Mardi Gras

Dateline, Montpellier, France: Le sigh.

So, Montpel had their annual Mardi Gras celebrations last night. Kind of. Sort of. Well, in a way. Actually, unsurprisingly, in the only way that seems fitting for this town. Read the story after the jump.


The foundation of caca-pipi-talism: Two bikes and an IKEA shopping cart, just like the pundits say.

I had heard that the parade was starting at the Peyrou, going down rue Foch, stopping at the Prefecture to party a bit, and then going on a circuitous route to end in the Place de la Comedie, our main piazza square.

I love the way people gather for things in France. There seems to be no order, no leader, no discernible means of organization. It’s not like people had to register at the town hall before hand. Families showed up; groups of friends seemed to have a loose theme unto themselves; and there were larger groups of heart-pounding dummers that performed while waiting for whatever was supposed to happen, to happen.


The number on the child's float is 23. I might have been the only person present who immediately thought, MICHAEL JORDAN!



Yeah, I know, that guy is HOTT. But how cute is that dog?

Finally the groups started to become an organized, parade-like unit – although if there had been some sort of signal, I certainly was not aware of it. I confirmed with the two cops (!!two!!) on duty at the Peyrou that they would go down rue Foch, and went through the arch that divides the road to wait for them. And, sure enough, in they came – and paused directly under the arch to play the most raucous, wonderful drums I’ve ever heard. Even though I was snapping pictures, I couldn’t help but shake my booty. No one could help it; even business men on their way home were stepping in time.

I ran farther down rue Foch in order to stand on the median and take the perfect picture of them as they approached. But when I got to the end of the street and turned around,


An entire parade of 250 people, POOF. GONE. What the hell?

I listened for drums. None. I looked for stragglers. None. The two cops zoomed by me on their bicycles and, presumably, home.

L'Arc on rue Foch

Sure, it is beautiful - but where the &%$! is the parade?

I went to meet Cal at the pub, who was anxiously awaiting their mid-way performance. I told him what happened, and he just laughed. “Montpel,” he said. Indeed.

When I went out for a cig later, I heard them! It was some sort of splinter group playing a few drums, with random revelers entranced by the beat. When I got back to the pub, another girl had arrived saying she saw what she thought was the full parade, but on the other side of town.

Again: What the hell?

Finally, with no more sign of them, Cal and I went home to watch TV. About 11pm, we heard a ruckus on the street, and opened our balcony doors to find… oh, who knows what it was. Take a look, and decide for yourself. They were LOUD, though, and having a blast.



2 thoughts on “Montpellier’s Renegade, AWOL Mardi Gras

  1. So much better than the states. My next door neighbor and I were cautioned by the police because we burst into a spontaneous demonstration of the polka at the edge of the town of Vienna, VA’s Halloween parade. So strict! Never mind that we were drinking ‘adult’ beverages on a public street. They didn’t catch us for that because we were good at hiding them but a demo to show her kids what a polka was…horrors!

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