When traveling around France, you can often happen upon the most festive of occasions – weddings. How charming to pass by a wonderful historic church and see a happy couple and wedding guests spilling out into the square!  

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Somehow I get treated to seeing a French mariage nearly every time I am in Arles down in Provence. Whatever my reason for being in town, I always make a detour through the impressive Place de la République (above) to take in the gorgeous west facade of the cathedral of St. Trophime (below). A jewel of Provençal Romanesque architecture dating from the 12th century, St. Trophime’s tympanum depicts the apocalypse in sculpture. The figure of Christ sits in the center with the evangelists, apostles, saints and other biblical scenes carved in the surrounding stone.

Sure enough, on this particular day, a nice French wedding was happening just as I passed through la place. My attention was drawn to the pretty bride and uniformed groom as they emerged from St. Trophime, military salute and celebratory air bubbles included…

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Of course, it’s always more fun to be a part of a wedding than just to see it in passing. A few weeks ago, I attended a very French fête de mariage near Fontainebleau south of Paris. The daughter of dear friends was getting married in a little village church with the wedding reception following at the village château. What a fairytale weekend!

Following the lovely garden party rehearsal dinner on the Friday night, wedding guests gathered at the village church on Saturday afternoon. The local French Catholic priest conducted a heart-warming service complete with communion for the radiant bride and handsome groom. One of the bilingual guests translated his French for the Anglophones in attendance…

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Given that we were in France, hats were a must for some wedding guests particularly the French and British ones…

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After the ceremony, guests stocked up on rose petals to shower on the exiting bride and groom. The floral confetti rained down on the happy couple as they made their way to the magnificent horse and carriage. Even some of the villagers hung out of their windows to watch the festive proceedings…

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We guests then walked the short distance to the 17th century château where champagne awaited. The weather was picture perfect…

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My dapper husband and I were glad to have our French hats on such a sunny – and warmish - afternoon…

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When plenty of champagne had been had by all and endearing toasts offered to les nouveaux mariés (the newlyweds), the wedding party enjoyed a marvelous seated dinner in the formal salons of the château…

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After dinner, guests were asked to step outside as the night was getting dark. A special surprise was about to begin…

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Wedding fireworks against the backdrop of the château - c’était étonnant (it was amazing). But the festivities didn’t stop there. Wedding cake with sparklers was followed by dancing in the vaulted cellar of the château. As we departed late that evening, lighted candles floated in the castle’s 17th century moat. A most special of French weddings for the most special of couples. Could it get any better than this?

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