We got to Villeneuve for about 8.15 pm and headed for the river where the display was happening. Thankfully we’d heeded the instruction to go early and found a place to park relatively easily. The town centre was heaving with people, roads had been closed, café seating spilt out onto the pavements and roads and live music was on offer at many of the cafes.
Not knowing where to go, we wended our way over the river to where the boats moor and struck lucky. We were on the other side from the entertainment – a band that played well-known middle of the road 70’s and 80’s pop music for the two hours that we were there. Although we’d come totally unprepared we managed to find some firewood logs to sit on right next to the place serving hot dogs, frites and drinks. Next year I now know to take a picnic and chairs, as did many of the people round us.
The sun finally set and the swallows darting up and down the river gave way to bats swooping and diving above our heads for the midges. We must have smelt wonderful to anyone standing near us having all covered ourselves in the various anti-mosquito sprays and lotions we had. It worked though as no one was bitten The band sang their encore at around 10.15 and we all waited in anticipation.
One rocket took to the sky, then nothing for a while, and then it was followed by a second one. Again a pause, we wondered what was meant to happen and then the music started and the bridge to our left erupted in fountains of fireworks. The musical accompaniment was Edith Piaf, which I loved, and the firework display was breathtaking. We watched, entranced, to a display of about an hour, the colours exploding over us, and the explosions echoing off the buildings that line the riverbank.
Then it was over; the explosions gave way to applause and then the murmur of hundreds of people wending their way back to the narrow steps leading up from the riverbank. It had been a delightful evening, one to be thoroughly recommended to anyone in France on Bastille night.