|Joachim Gauck at Elysée Palace|
As things stand today, Hollande's tentative steps under difficult circumstances may take a while to lead to concrete results.
This Bénédiction is a festive occasion with folkloric dancers and tambourine players in provençal costume that attracts big crowds. But this year they received more than blessed calissons at the church of St. John of Malta; they got three blessed church bells as well. These bells replace those that general Napoleon Bonaparte "borrowed" from the bell tower in 1793 to melt into cannons for his siege of Toulon and promised to return, a promise soon forgotten once he became emperor. The mayor of Toulon recently managed to find enough bronze in his local arsenal to have three new bells made that were baptized this day Jeanne "la Calisonne", Gérard and Augustine, before they will be hoisted into place in early 2014. The one remaining bell in the tower pealed in happy anticipation.
(*) Read more about Calissons and other traditional foods in my book Taking Root in Provence by clicking here: