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fair vue d'ensemble
Each summer, roving carnivals/ fun fairs seize the villages of la campagne française (French countryside). Children love it, adults are usually a bit mad at all the mess it brings (limited parking, noise etc…). They usually last for about a week, and come for special dates, very often around the Quatorze Juillet (AKA La Fête Nationale, but never referred to as "le jour de la Bastille"), but sometimes also take place around the town's Saint patron day.

So let’s begin our virtual visit.

First of all, there are all kinds of manèges (Masculine. Merry-go-round and rides)

A rather traditional one

manège fete foraine fair

Pour les plus jeunes, la chenille (litterally the caterpillar)

chenille fair fête foraine

I have no idea how this is called, but no-way I’m getting on this… Access to the rides is regulated by height, but les forains (the people working at the fair) are much more lenient about it than in the US…

fête foraine fair ride

… as Olivier and Leyla demonstrate on this one: it was really fast, Leyla is 8, loves it!!! (and can’t wait to be able to go on the REALLY scary rides)

ride 2 fête foraine fair

La maison hantée (haunted house) is rather scary. A guy in a costume with a plastic chainsaw that makes a lot of noise usually jumps on you at the end… I thought Leyla was going to have a heart attack…

haunted house fair fête foraine

Then there are the usual attractions…

La pèche à la ligne

peche a la ligne fair fête foraine

Le stand de tir

tir fête foraine fair

les auto-tamponneuses – the aim is to bump into each other’s cars

The kid’s version – rahter slow

auto-tamponeuses fête foraine fair

The teenager’s version – responsible for soooo many neck injuries…

auto tamponneuse teen fair fête foraine

And one of Leyla’s favorite: la boîte à rire. I believe it’s called a “fun house” in English: it’s a house with plenty of tricks inside, you need to climb on moving stuff, jump into a pit full of plastic balls, climb ladders…

la boite a rire fair

and it ends with un toboggan (a slide) – with a very happy Leylounette on it :-)

toboggan fair

I really think this is on top of Leyla’s list: un trampoline with rubber ropes that allows you to jump really high up in the air (note the Breton flag in the back of the picture… how patriotic).

leyla trampoline fair

And here is one that’s typically French!

foot fair

This is the newest attractions of all – I saw it for the first time last year (2012).

First you have to inflate the ball

ball 1 leyla fair

Then they help the kid roll onto the water. And then they have to run, just like a hamster :-) It’s trickier than it sounds…

ball 3 leyla fair

Most of the time Leyla is more les quatre fers en l’air (expression meaning having fallen on one’s back, with the four legs up in the air).

ball 4 leyla fair

The worse is probably how much I laugh at my poor and helpless kid repetitious wipes out… Here is a video to get the idea of it all (it’s OK, you can laugh too)…

And last but certainly not least, there is the FOOD !!!

  • Des sucettes (f. – lollypops)
  • Des bonbons (m. – candies)
  • Des berlingots (m. – in the jars, pyramid shape traditional hard candies)
  • Des pralines (f. – caramel coated nuts)

food fair

Du nougat (m. – it’s the same word in English. In Spanish it’s turrón)
And des pommes d’amour (f.- cooked apples dipped in red caramel, almost like la pomme de Blanche- Neige – certainly as toxic…)

nougats food fair

Des chichis, ou churros, et des crêpes… MIAM !!!!

chichis food fair

And much more: beignets (m.- fritters) or all sorts, sandwiches, paninis (grilled sandwiches)….

And of course, one cannot leave the fair without une barbe à papa (literally , a dady’s beard: cotton candy) !!

leyla barbe a papa fair


Or in my case, barbe à maman !!!


camille barbe a papa fair

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 20 years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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