Let’s not lose sight of beauty. Let’s not forget how to feel wonder and excitement and awe.
I would have posted this on Friday, but events interfered. Looking through the photos, I thought, wait, this is what is right with France.
Carcassonne put on a fantastic show. It was so democratic. It was free of charge. It drew half a million people. They came on foot. They were well-mannered, even after the street lights were turned off (seriously, doesn’t it say something when the street lights are off and people still behave?). They didn’t even litter very much.
There were all ages, but all were the same age–kids–before the spectacle in the sky. The crowd sent up ooohs and aaahs in unison, frequently breaking out in applause, which the pyrotechnicians across the river had no way to hear.
The show began with a few small, bright flashes and big, deep booms. They picked up the cadence, then the lights started to bloom across the sky, illuminating the ramparts of la Cité in ghostly, colored light.
It continued, like this, building ferocity until there was a storm of explosions overhead. Then it paused, letting us relax a little and realize that our hearts were racing and that we’d gotten goosebumps from the excitement.
And it would pick up again. At one point, there were waves of fireworks from left to right, then right to left. They began lazily, then grew faster, then came from both directions at once, then led to a new round higher in the sky.
It was a ballet of light. Looking at the photos, I thought time and again of dancers in formation.
The highlight is the “embrasement” or burning, of la Cité, which dates to 1898. Though it was under siege in 1209 in the Albigensian Crusade, and finally surrendered, it never was burned down.
After 20 or 25 minutes, the explosions came so fast and furious, and were so spectacular, we thought it was the finale a couple of times over. Some 25,000 to 30,000 projectiles were fired. But the real finale was far bigger, building, building into a riot of light and color in the sky.