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The World Cup, The Book Fair, The President, His Mistress, And Her Dog

Updated: Feb 25


France vs Uruguay at Cafe des Sports
France vs Uruguay at Café des Sports

Yesterday we, along with a motley contingent of Canuck friends staying nearby, went to the Sablet sports bar to watch a World Cup quarter-final game. This time it was France versus Uruguay. Small, basic, overheated room, big projection screen (like in high school), tiny air conditioner completely overwhelmed, French flags, beer, swimming pools, movie stars. (More on that coming up.)


France won, and whenever the country scored a goal, the volume of the yelling in this cramped room was near deafening. All in all, a great time was had. Beers were consumed. Flags were waved.


The annual book fair takes over the centre of Sablet
The annual book fair takes over the centre of Sablet

That was yesterday – today was the kick-off of the 31st annual Sablet Book Fair. The two tiny main streets are blocked to traffic and entirely covered by giant tents. There are tables, piles of books, and dozens of authors signing copies. The village was filled with fashionably-dressed authors and bibliophiles from Paris and other parts français. The sports bar filled the (closed) street with tables and did a booming business.

One of the authors attending this year is the previous president of France, François Hollande, to promote his new book. We spotted him in the crowd, mingling with fair-goers.

Former French president François Holland in Sablet
Former French president François Holland visits the Sablet book fair

While all this was going on, England was playing Sweden in the next World Cup game. So we hied ourselves inside the sports bar early to get a seat, but crowd there was none. (There is little interest in games France isn't playing.) We were watching the game with three or four other diehard fans (wait, we’re not diehard fans) and just after England scored its first goal one of those fashionable & beautiful Parisiennes came in with a big black dog and established herself on a bar stool next to us. She sipped on a cute, blue-coloured drink and the big black dog lapped water.


Soon, one of the outsiders/visitors sidled next to us and asked in bad English what the score of the game was. We replied to him in worse French. We were pals. He leaned in close and whispered, “Do you know who that is?” nodding to the Parisienne. Without waiting for reply he continued, “It is XXX, the actress, the companion of François Hollande.” We didn’t catch her name.

Actress Julie Gayet at Cafe des Sports
Actress Julie Gayet at Café des Sports

Slowly, almost shyly, villagers and local politicians began drifting into the bar one by one asking to have their picture taken with her. She was absolutely gracious and friendly, talking to everyone who came up to her. Gracious through photo after photo.


Julie Gayet, for that is the actress’ name, easily slipped into the life of a small, rural village, mixing with locals, submitting to photographs .Of course, we wanted to get in on the picture taking as well, so shot this...

The big black dog.


England won.


à la prochaine,

– Diane & Mark


photographs copyright Mark Craft

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