The village of Vaiges (pop. about 1,200) is perhaps 10 minutes' drive from my very own St Pierre sur Erve (pop. about 150). About halfway between the two places is a big quarry, an open-cast limestone mine. This is a boon for Vaiges, since the quarry lies within their boundary, and it pays quite a lot of tax. This to the extent that, according to our mayor, their council has about 440,000 euros to spend each year; that takes some serious spending on a population of 1200. Surrounding villages are enviously eyeing this wealth, and proposals for reducing local government costs by combining small communities are being actively debated.
The town hall (le mairie) looks very fancy, and the gardens have recently been landscaped and redone. There is a new car parking area beside it, and the street lamps are new, and illuminated at night with little LED rings at about chest height so that semi-blind people don't walk into them. The salle socio-culturelle (village hall/community centre?) has also been done up recently. It now features a fancy professional kitchen with all mod cons, and a new stage/theatre, with bar, lighting, sound system; everything you could want except, it would seem, air conditioning.
It is here that my dairy farming and guitar-playing friend Alain, and his troupe, perform their annual amateur dramatics offering. Last night was the last night and we went along to see. The evening starts with offerings from the younger performers, sometimes a short play, this time with a series of comedy sketches. Then the main event, a comedy about a French camping holiday site, featuring various figures recognisable from the local community. It's fun to spot the local personalities. There's Alain, of course, and the lady who works in the supermarket. Plus the one-armed garden nursery manager, the trumpet-player and the flute-player.
There's a tombola at half time, with crêpes, beer and other delights on sale, and an opportunity to mix with the people you recognise. And I won a very fine Easter cactus in a pot. These kinds of plants do well in the conservatory, and I have various shades of red, but no pink-and-white. Cool.
In the end, it's a fun, if rather warm, night out. And even though my French isn't up to following all of the rapid-fire dialog, nor catching all the jokes, I can still grasp the plot. But as a fund-raiser for the school, it's a great way to contribute and be entertained at the same time.