On Saturday, we visited the southwest town of Pau to attend its annual, infamous Carnaval Biarnes. I won’t pretend to know half of what transpired (the official language of the event is Gascon, not French) but I delighted in the lively festivities nonetheless.
As far as I can gather, the Carnaval celebrates the Gascon traditions of the Béarn region while also encouraging the town to enjoy the hell out of life before Lent begins. It’s a Gascon Mardi Gras of sorts. Sent Pançard, the vulgar and gluttonous patron saint of the festival, is the soul of the party, complete with pig nose and sausage necklace.
Ben and I followed the crowds through the streets of Pau, reveling in the beautiful ruckus of music, dancing, confetti and general merriment that surrounded us. My senses were overwhelmed in the best way.
At one point in the procession, Pançard and Lent pantomimed a confrontation that eventually led to the highlight of the evening: Crémation.
As one would guess, fire was involved, specifically, the burning of an effigy of Sent Pançard, symbol of unfettered boorishness. The papier-mâché figure was notably adorned with the visage of Donald Trump.
More revelry ensued. . .
. . . ending with a tented carnival in the town square.