The firemen of Saint Jean de Sixt

<Blurry pompiers on St Jean de Sixt calendar>Every December in Saint Jean de Sixt, the local pompiers (firemen and women) knock on the doors of homes all over the village to sell their calendars.

Given that these are the people that will save you from a burning mess should a fire break out in your home, it’s wise to buy a calendar. But here’s the hard part: it’s by donation. Will they act as quickly if they receive a call from someone who needs their help but who scrimped on the donation? Probably not, but who can be sure?

<Photo of the 2013 Saint Jean de Sixt firemen calendar>This year’s calendar is a major improvement over last year’s calendar. I’m pretty sure the photos in the 2012 calendar were taken by the young kids of the pompiers. Thankfully, this year’s calendar contains just this one blurry photo, as shown above. I guess the other kids grew up enough to take photos without blurring the results. Seriously, how hard is it to take a group photo with a modern digital camera, in good light, and check that it’s not blurry before thanking the group of their time and sending them away?

Still, it’s obvious why the pompiers go door-to-door selling: if these calendars were hanging in a shop, nobody would buy them!

I suspect they’re under no illusion about this, which is why they spend so many hours knocking on doors and chatting to occupants to figure out who lives where. My friend Jayne was celebrating her birthday when the knock came: she invited the firemen in and now has photos of her with them. Her drunken photo is clearer than the calendar photo above. In fact, I’d prefer to see a calendar full of photos of firemen with drunk people at parties than seeing them sitting in gardens or at a fake café that sadly doesn’t even exist anymore.

If you’re wondering how much I paid, I donated 10€. They then enquired if I was on holiday, presumably because of my accent. By the time they left, I’m pretty sure they were under the misguided impression that I was a lesbian from New Zealand, but that’s another story.

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I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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7 comments on “The firemen of Saint Jean de Sixt
  1. Louisa says:

    At least your photos aren’t too macabre. The last pompier calendar I had to buy was full of photos of burning buildings and car crashes complete with smears of blood on the road. Maybe a warning: this is what could happen to you if you don’t donate generously. Also a bit worrying that before putting out a fire in my house they would stop and think about whether it was an image worthy of next year’s calendar.

  2. Jayne says:

    Hahaha… I buy the calendar and contribute around €10 per calender. I buy it/them for two reasons 1. I want them to come pretty darned quick if I have a fire and 2. I give them to my Mum who gives them to the local primary school for their french lessons! (Each year for the last 10 years)

    Ps. timing is everything…I thought they were the “Strip-o-grammes”…and er I wasn’t drunk thank you!

  3. Michelle says:

    Brilliant! I only paid 5 euros for mine, I hope they would still come quickly in an emergency! I must scan and show you the photos of our “exciting” firemen!

  4. Tibor says:

    We recently moved to Annecy, and it was just after few weeks in our new flat when strange man ringed at our doors. We don’t understand much french and he didn’t speak much english, so I politely refused to donate (i don’t like to make donations to random people on the street, bc I think many of them are hoax). Well, I hope they will come, when something serious happens.

  5. Wendy says:

    Louisa, helpful if you’d like a memento the following year of what your now-burnt stuff looked like, I guess!
    Jayne, that’s a great double reason to buy. Of *course* you weren’t drunk!
    Michelle, I look forward to the comparison. I’m just glad the missing teeth of half the pompiers are less obvious in this year’s calendar!
    Tibor, hopefully nothing serious will happen! Now you know for next year at least.

  6. Joanna says:

    Oooer …. I only gave €5 – originally from the UK but having recently relocated to France from Sydney, Australia – I rushed down the street to catch the fireman who had previously knocked on the front door but my mum didn’t understand what he was saying/selling… I heard the word ‘pompier’ and dashed after him. Unfortunately my French is not that flash and his english wasn’t either but I offered the €5. In hindsight (lol get it Joanna Hinds) he could have been a bit miffed at my offer …. I will know for next year 🙂

  7. Wendy says:

    Great timing, Joanna! The firemen came around again yesterday, around the time you posted your comment! This year, I had one shoe on and one shoe off as they caught me on the way out the door to the bank. As I had absolutely no cash on me, they said they also accept cheques, so they got a cheque for 10€ this year. Anyway 5€ is better than nothing, right?

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced professional writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Read more...

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