Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past few months, you will know that the Tour De France is starting this year in good old Blighty. Not only that, but the Grand Depart was going to be in my home county of Yorkshire and will be passing through my town.
On Wednesday Twitter was awash with rumours that a French farm, complete with crops and animals, had appeared outside our local train station. As the pictures popped up on my phone, I decided I had to investigate.
Sure enough, when I arrived at St. George’s Square, instead of a sea of concrete paving and fountains, this is what I saw:
Twenty-six French farmers from Toulouse, tending a farm, feeding animals and working the soil. The project was brought to Huddersfield by French company, Le Phun, and the attention to detail was magnificent.
Entitled, ‘La Vengence des Semis’, or ‘Seedling’s Revenge’, over the space of 3 days visitors were treated to a spectacle of growing crops, culminating in a field of sunflowers on the last day.
We mingled amongst the farm workers who were only too happy to stop and talk about their crops, or chat about the pregnant cow who was about to give birth any day now.
Surrounded by genuine French people, I decided to try out a few words and phrases I had learnt at school, but the Anglo-French divide had never been greater than when one kind Frenchman offered me a lettuce to take home. Not knowing where to put it, and slightly embarrassed by his insistence, I giggled nervously and backed away.
There were little huts, where the farmers enjoyed their downtime, all in view of the spectators. It was a bit like a French enclosure at a human zoo, but in a good way.
The whole spectacle was fascinating, but the highlight for a vintage lover like me was the styling. Wine crates, old bikes, street signs, mismatched crockery, it had it all.
I even picked up a few ideas for my own garden from the greenhouse.
I suspect I may be buying a lot of eggs and light bulbs in the near future.
The venue was packed as young and old alike wandered around the farm, enthralled by the display.
Even ex-Prime Minister Harold Wilson got in on the act.
Unfortunately, as the sun went down that evening, Twitter informed us again that the French farm had gone almost as quickly as it arrived. I’m so glad that I managed to see it. It was the perfect celebration of the idyll of French rural life. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect and with le Tour de Yorkshire on its way, I can’t think of a better way to have done it.
Au revoir, le Phun. Come back again soon!