Provençale parade in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. More in today's story, below.

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ban (bohn bahn*) noun, masculine
    1. official notice, proclamation
    2. (round of) applause

*Hear today's word and this expression "ban de vendanges" (defined in today's story): Download ban.wav .Download ban.mp3

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(Note: click on any of the photos in this post to enlarge the image)

Can you believe it has already been one year since our first grape harvest? Last week we began gearing up for the coming vendange* by rinsing out buckets, fixing the remorque,* and making way for the soon-to-be-arriving grapes....

Picking season is in the air and, just yesterday, our town received the official "ban," or proclamation to "Go Ahead and Get Your Grapes!" Not that any of the farmers will begin harvesting this week (you might say the grapes aren't quite "there yet").

But back to the "ban" as in "Ban des Vendanges" which dates back to the Middle Ages, when seigneurs, or lords, ruled the land. One of the seigneur's duties was to decide when the harvesting would begin, before issuing a public proclamation known as the "Ban des Vendanges". The "ban" itself was a notice
posted in the town's center for all to see and adhere to.

While any official rules regarding when to begin harvesting have since disappeared (along with those seigneurs...), the tradition recently returned to our area and, judging by yesterday's festivities, I wonder if it all isn't just an excuse... TO PARTY HARDY!

Grappe  For this year's Ban, the streets of Sainte-Cécile-Les-Vignes came alive with music and dancing as those dressed in traditional Provençal attire marched through the village. The women, in jewel-toned quilted skirts and lace-trimmed bonnets, and the men, in their satin-trimmed vests and straw hats, led the way to the Great Grape: a representative selection of local raisins*. "La grappe" was then ceremonially carried to the Town Hall by four local vignerons* who followed in the steps of the carillonneur.* Carillon

Once the Provençal procession arrived at the town center, a modern day "Lord" (our mayor, Max Ivan) and company spoke--in French, and in Provençale. My favorite part was the reading of the famous proclamation. Normally, the task of announcing the Ban des Vendanges is given to the youngest vigneron. This year, the locals gave that honor to the newest winemaker....

I found myself climbing up (and into...) a local planter. Next, I tip-toed over the begonias for a better view of my husband, who stood center stage. I noticed how the sun shone right into Jean-Marc's face, blinding him from the crowd. He looked so handsome in just a T-shirt and slacks.

Ban  On closer look, I noticed how his right leg trembled. True, he had made it through one shaky year: his first as a farmer and winemaker. Any remaining jitters could be chalked up to aftershock and, like those ceremonial grapes, one great bunch of emotion.

So shake, baby, shake. To an outsider, those unsteady legs are the tremblings of fear; the rest of us recognize gratitude behind the tremor's veneer.

Watch Jean-Marc read the famous Ban des Vendanges (see video at the end of this post):
Comment on this post or answer this question: When is the last time your positive emotions got the best of you? Thanks for sharing, here.

Hands-held  PS: That's Jean-Marc, who got carried off with the medieval maidens sometime after his speech. Click on this, or any of the images in this post, to enlarge the photo.

la vendange
(f) = grape harvest; la remorque (f) = (tractor) trailer; le raisin
(m) = grape; le vigneron (la vigneronne) = wine grower; le carillonneur (m) = bell ringer
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Jean-Marc, speaking in our town's center (the text follows, in French ... translations welcome in the comments box. Thanks in advance!):

Ce jourd'hui trenteunieme d'Août 2008 Nous proclamons sur la place publique de Sainte Cécile les Vignes pour que nul le l'ignore, la décision du Comité des Vignerons au sujet des prochaines vendanges. Les Maîtres Vignerons de Cairanne, Lagarde Paréol et Sainte Cécile les Vignes désignés par le Comité, ayant constaté l'état de maturité du raisin dans les diverses parcelles de leurs communes, ont fait part de leurs observations, estimant que le début de la récolte peut avoir lieu le 1 Septembre 2008. Le Grand Maître de la Commanderie et les instances de la profession ayant été avisés, les Maîtres de chai de nos caves ayant donné leur accord, nous sollicitons de Messire Max Ivan, Premier Magistrat de notre commune qu'il lui plaise de prendre une arrêté fixant au 1 Septembre 2008 le premier jour de la récolte du raisin destiné à la production de nos vins. Par ailleurs, nous demandons solennellement à tous ceux qui ont pouvoir ainsi qu'aux Vignerons ici présents de respecter et de faire respecter les usages établis par nos Pères afin que la qualité de nos vins soit bonne et meilleure si possible que celle des années antérieures. Enfin, nous souhaitons de tout coeur à tous les Vignerons de généreuses vendanges.

Mille mercis, Shane, for this translation.

See the dancers and singers in this video thanks, Jean-Marc, for the video!):

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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I love the photo you took of the giant "bunch" of grapes being carried through town! Jean Marc's speech was well delivered!


I am so happy and excited for you and your husband! What an honour, to be recognized and so completely welcomed as a part of the community... Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone!


Thanks, Jeanne. I forgot to mention that those grapes were distributed to all of the townspeople who were present. One by one, the bunches of grapes were unhooked from the "grappe" mass, then placed into wicker baskets and distributed (thanks to a handfull of 8, 9, & 10-year-old volunteers who quietly circulated around the town center during the speeches).


Thanks for sharing! We can feel your pride! How wonderful that Jean Marc was chosen for this honor and thanks to you and your French instruction I was able to follow the speech and understand most of it!


Thanks for this and your additional details, here's my translations for Jean-Marc's reading to English:
This 31st day of August 2008 We proclaim on the public place of Holy Cecile the Vines so that no one be unaware of the decision of the Committee of the Vine growers about the next grape harvest. The Masters Vine growers of Cairanne, Lagarde Paréol and Sainte Cecile Vines indicated by the Committee, having noted the state of maturity of the grape in the various pieces of their communes, announced their observation, estimating that the beginning of harvesting can take place on September 1, 2008. The Grand Master of Commander's Residence and the authorities of the profession having been advised, the Masters of the wine storehouse of our cellars having given their agreement, we solicit of Lord Max Ivan, First Magistrate of our commune; it requests him to issue a decree fixing at September 1, 2008 the first day of the harvest of the grape intended for the production of our wines. In addition, we ask solemnly all those which have to be able thus;
with the Vine growers here present to respect and make respect the uses establish by our Fathers so that the quality of our wines is good and better if possible than that of the former years. Lastly, we wish whole heartily to all the Vine growers, a generous grape harvest.

Sue Silber

Hi Kristin,

What a lovely video! I especially liked the bell instrument in the procession. Do you have any idea what it is called? It is rather like a celeste. I did tell you earlier about my friends coming here from Bouc bel Air; we had a lovely time and my french was adequate. Thank you so much for brightening my days with your emails.


Patti Raffy

My good friend shared your blog with me and now I am a loyal subscriber! It is WONDERFUL! I am married to a Parisian and we live in Los Angeles, but come often to be with family in France.
My positive emotions got the best of me when watching my 8 year old son, Christophe come up to bat with all the bases loaded, 2 runs behind. He too was trembling in the legs on home base when on his 3rd swing managed to hit a home-run bringing his team to victory. He was so overcome that he cried with joy and relief since batting was not his strength. Of course, I also wept watching him with such pride.


Sue: the bell instrument is called "un carillon". Here's a link with more info:


Patti: Lovely story about your son. Thanks (and bienvenue!)

gordy and georgie

Great speech Jean-Marc! The celebration was like something I always imagined happening in France. To see it on video was a delight.

Jay Livingston

In English we have the "ban" (or more usually "banns") as a public announcement but for only one thing -- marriage: posting the banns.


Thank you so much Kristin for this epic report, for the colourful images and the video. We're all very proud of Jean-Marc. What an honour (for both of you!)...

It is really wonderful for us to be able to see and hear the jolly and colourful atmosphere in St Cécile-Les-Vignes.

Must go and have another look at the photos... and watch once again the video.
I love the look and the sound of the "mobile" carillon!

Que les vendanges 2008 soient bonnes!


Kristin and Jean-Marc -- Remembering your move and all the photos of your house under renovation, as well as the challenges you met as you began this new adventure, I can hardly believe it's been been a year since your first harvest. What an ENORMOUS accomplishment. Félicitations (How do you say HUGE CONGRATULATIONS?)to you both, and to your children, too. What a terrific way for all of you to celebrate. And to be honored,too. Très cool. I also thought Jean-Marc's speech and delivery were very impressive. Thank you so much for the video. We could almost pretend we were there.

Bonne journée!

Fred Caswell

Mile de mercis encore. You seem to have mastered so many ways to send words, pictures, an videos!!!

How can I switch from receiving your thrice weekly messages via regular e-mail directly to the colorful blog?--I guess it means recording that mile long address!

Did JM create his speech solely "from scratch" or is it a formality with yearly update?

As your grapes approach ripeness my blackberries have said "That's all you're going to get". They were scrumptious. Fred


From far away Texas, I have enjoyed listening to the proclamation done by Jean-Marc in French and have listen to it a number of times with a copy of his speech in front of me.
Twice have been to France, Paris for the first trip and to Marseilles and Les Baux with both trips very enjoyable. and if you will excuse my french- Deux fois, je suis alle en France, le premier fois , a paris et le deuxiemme fois , a Marseilles et Les Baux et les deux voyages , tres agreable et avec beaucoup des plaisir des pratiquer francais!- desole pour ma mauvaise francaise mais a tout les temps, J'aime essayer pratiquer francaise.Malheuressement,en ma petite ville, Nul parle francais sauf le pretre catholique qui vient de Cameroon.-Thanks, ramon, [email protected] .

laura @ cucina testa rossa


Marion Harris

Chère Kristin,
Quel plaisir d'être avec vous à Sainte-Cécile-Les-Vignes. J'adore vos photos. Merci mille fois!
Marion, Vieille Dame de San Francisco


Oh, how wonderful! What an honor for Jean-Marc, one which he rose to magnificently. The whole idea of the procession and proclamation (and the partying hearty) is just great. Your photos and videos made me feel almost as if I were there. I'm not sure if I liked the dancers in costume or the group of male singers more. As someone else mentioned, the carillon was also nifty keen.

This is so much better than the way people seem to be celebrating Labor Day around here, which seems to be by shopping at Walmart. sigh

Cindy Gooch

Thank you so much for the video! When I was in France in 1973, I knew it might be the last time (& only time) I'd be there. So far, I've been right, but not because I wanted to be! I feel like I've been there!!

For you native French speakers: Are "bon" and "ban" exact homonyms?

Jennifer in OR

Wonderful!! I loved watching the videos, and like everyone else said, Jean-Marc did a fabulous job! What a festive occasion and tradition--we just don't have the same rituals around here, and like meggins noted, most are celebrating by shopping at Walmart. Big sigh along with her.

Karen Cafarella

thanks so much for sharing your families special day with us. It was a joy to watch Jean-Marc speech as well as the festivities.


Oh thank you so much for the videos. I felt like I was there with you. Hearing Jean-Marc give the proclamation...oh my heart be still I feel like it's my family!! It, also, kind of reminds me a bit of the chestnut festival in Olarge, which we chanced upon a couple years ago. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us.


How delightful! Congratulations on the close of one year and the beginning of another. Thank you for sharing this proud accomplishment with your many "virtual" friends, and thank you for showing us another glimpse of French life.


Kristin - thanks again for letting us all live vicariously through you! you do such a wonderful job of describing the activities that take place and the atmosphere, that one feels like the are right there with you and your family as you celebrate these awesome accomplishments! Merci Mille fois!! And, please extend my compliments to JM for his marvelous delivery of his speech!! Congratulatios to you both! =)


Congratulations to you both. We celebrated today as it is the first day of our forty second Harvest here in St. Helena. Wish we had the dancers and music, but there is joy in our hearts.


Merci, Kristin,
I have just returned from France to the US as of Tuesday this week and am getting caught up on email as well as accumulated mail, etc. here. Just watched a major speech on tv for the RNC and then came and watched Jean-Marc's speech. Oh, I so much prefer the French way and the personal touch of the community festival.
I know that politics is strange everywhere--I am now a French 'citoyen' and 'voted' in the last presidential election there (an absentee ballot cast by my neighbor after a visit to the police station). But the contrast was so poignant between the artificial, manufactured atmosphere of a major American political convention (of either party)and the local community-shared festival, that I just had to comment. And you have no idea how many mistakes in typing I had to correct after 3 months using the French keyboard!)
Un grand merci for tout votre efforts.

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