The great thing about living in the French Alps is that the local villages put on all sorts of entertainment for families to lure them away from the beaches or from other mountain resorts. At the moment, four of the villages of the Aravis (St Jean de Sixt, La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod) are holding the Aravis et Compagnies festival, which involves various sports or physical activities for kids and adults to try. So, why the birds?
St Jean de Sixt is holding “air”, which means trampolines and wind-powered mini-boats and lots of jingling and clanking from wind-powered instruments. I checked it out and found the birds just sitting on their respective hay stacks, looking a bit scared by the commotion around them, although the owl looked a bit high.
The security was typically French, with just one blue rope keeping the birds and kids safe from each other. It worked, and it was great to be so close to the birds without anything hampering the view. When the birds were brought out to fly, the public were given very clear instructions on where to stand and what to do. One French kid didn’t listen. The eagle flew from the woman back to the man (pictured two left from the red flag in the top photo), and a kid ran towards the man just before the eagle reached him. The man had the microphone and yelled at the kid in French and pushed him back forcefully while the eagle landed on his arm. Obviously, he pushed him back for the kid’s own safety, but I’m not sure the kids around him understood, with their mouths open in horror as the man yelled over the microphone. Maybe a blue rope would have been useful during the exhibition.
Meanwhile, in La Clusaz, a mini mountain bike course is open to all (they’ve got “Cycle” this year), while Le Grand Bornand has high ropes all over the place (“cords”), and people can turn into hippies up at Manigod with “nature attitude” providing information on herbal remedies from local plants, yoga and more. A win for the Aravis.