For nearly twenty years, on the Sunday of the Ducasse, a happy band of friends have been enjoying a coffee and a croissant while they admire the Procession in Saint-Germain square, whatever the weather. Fancy starting off this special day in a different way? Come and join us …
The venue: Saint-Germain square
Saint-Germain square, nine o’clock in the morning on the Sunday of the Ducasse.
The brave volunteers have finished singing “Sancta Waldetrudis, ora pro nobis” in the Collegiate Church and the procession of historic groups is about to begin.
At this hour, the crowd isn’t too big, and it’s still a bit chilly.
It’s time to pick up the pace and head a hundred metres further on to the pretty Saint-Germain square to be on the front row for the Procession.
The Collegiate Church, which once housed these gentlemen from the Chapitre de Saint-Germain has gone, while its majestic neighbour has flung open its windows to the Canonesses of Saint Waudru, but the square has remained, a modest memory of these erstwhile neighbours. And there isn’t a more welcoming place to be at this time of day.
The sun’s shining? There’s plenty of shade here.
Heavy rain? The trees will protect you.
Tired from yesterday? There are benches and a fountain for a quick snooze.
A moment of communion
So what are the origins of this strange, sociable idea?
A few trendy guys, eternal students would meet up to enjoy breakfast with friends who had come to admire the Procession. They brought some coffee and some Danish pastries that they’d managed to pick up from the nearest bakery before it opened.
That was here, almost twenty years ago and today, the breakfast is a bit more elaborate: thermos flasks filled to the brim wake up the revellers and reward the early risers, dozens of croissants and pains au chocolat are gobbled up by hungry mouths who can forget for a moment that it’s going to be a long day, so they can concentrate on applauding Saint George, the Beubeus, the Dames Nobles and the Car d’Or as they go past.
Because here, it’s magical. Members of the public, whether they’re friends of the Confrérie or not, are so close to the actors in the procession, that it feels like they’re part of it. And the members of the procession look fantastic, as usual. Saint George spends a long time here, the timpanist pays tribute to the bench at the top with his steed and the Rolandins never fail to enchant the crowd with a few carefully played notes.
A family spirit
The founders of the Confrérie du Croissant de Saint-Germain decided to formalise, but not officially, their get-together, and you’ll be able to recognise them from their white shirts, decorated with a golden croissant against a backdrop of the spear and the tail of the Doudou. They will be more than happy to shelter you if the weather isn’t great, and if your little ones show any sign of impatience, they’ll no doubt be offered a sweet treat to placate them.
The concept, fully funded and made possible by the organisers, relies on friends and families who see it as a wonderful way to start of Mons’ procession. But the square remains a public space which, thanks to this initiative, full of good humour and good food, comes to life in a friendly atmosphere where you can marvel at the majesty and the panache of the Procession.
If by any chance you set your alarm quite early and are brave enough to sing under the gothic Brabant ceiling of the Collegiate Church, make your way to the square and come and say hello to the Confrérie. You won’t regret it – this wonderful place, full of parishioners devoted to Saint Waudru, Saint George and, of course, Saint Germain!