All of our exploring here at Bagnères-de-Bigorre has begun by driving up the Vallée de Campan. Campan is a large village/small town a few kilometres east of us which we had to pass through to get to the climbs up the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin. Negotiating the relatively narrow streets through typical French villages is not made any safer by sights that cause the driver, moi, to do a double-take.
Campan was littered with such double-take-inducing sights. Driving past a street cafe where one of the two outside tables appears to be occupied by a couple of life-sized rag dolls can be a little surprising if you aren’t expecting it – and who would? Campan was actually littered with a whole collection of life-sized rag dolls in a series of intriguing poses, including two sapeurs-pompieres [firemen] apparently with an audience on a balcony above. There was a Romeo and Juliet balcony scene with Romeo clinging to the top of a street light. Even the church courtyard featured a display of a rag doll wedding party. Very inventive!
10th July had been something called the Fêtes des Mariolles. Mariolles doesn’t feature in any of our dictionaries so we remain in the dark. However, the rag dolls display at Campan was an exhibition of mounaques from the Fêtes des Mariolles. Mounaque doesn’t feature in our dictionaries either but it sounds similar to mannequin, to me. So. for the moment, I’m going to postulate that the Fêtes des Mariolles is something to do with puppets etc. and that mounaques are mannequin-like things. Very curious but bless them for doing something so inventive and amusing.