Cracking the whip!

The town of Narbonne has been twinned with Weilheim in Germany (Bavaria to be precise) since 1974.  Ever since then, there has been a regular exchange of culture, and delegations from one town have visited the other.  As part of these activities, Narbonne hosts a Bavarian festival every other year.  This year was the 13th edition of the festival!  You can find the programme of the event here.


The contingent from Weilheim arrive in several buses, and there are a few trucks laden with food and beer!  For entertainment there is the brass band and the Trachtenverein, a group performing traditional dances.  Of course there are also various vendors selling traditional Bavarian specialities, including beer brewed in Weilheim.

I went one evening to enjoy the atmosphere – and the food and drink, of course!! 🙂  In front of the town hall, large tents had been set up around three sides of the square: one tent for the stage and the musicians, and the other two for the public, with trestle tables and benches.  The tents were all open sided, protecting the performers and revellers from the sun and perhaps a drop of rain or two.  The fourth side of the square was lined with booths for the vendors.  The booths are normally used for the Christmas market and still had some fake snow stuck to them. 🙂

Fetes like these are more fun if they can be shared, so I went with friends.  We arrived early enough to catch the “warm-up” band, playing French chansons.  We had planned to have our dinner there, so we started off with some large pretzels, and some beer.


The brewery from Weilheim, Dachsbräu, had three beers on offer: lager, white beer, and dark beer – all of them served well chilled!!  The pretzels were perfect too!

After a little break we went to get some more food 🙂

There were stuffed cabbage leaves with roasted potatoes, meatloaf with potato salad, and grilled sausages with sauerkraut or potato salad.  All very yummy!!

We had another break, and then we hit the food stalls once more for dessert!! 🙂


Apple fritters, apple strudel, plum streusel cake, cheese cake AND a doughnut!!  We went a little over the top, but we did manage to eat it all!

While we were stuffing our faces, the Bavarian musicians were getting ready to entertain us.

Soon they had started playing – there’s a video of the brass band after the picture below (e-mail subscribers, please visit the blog website to see the videos in this post).  YouTube tells me that the piece the band is playing is called Riviera and that you may see advertising before or after the video.


Next came some traditional Bavarian dancing: a Schuhplattler, a dance where the men slap the soles of their shoes and various parts of their legs with the palms of their hands.  The women watch them intently and get to have a bit of a dance with the guys when they take a break from the slapping.

Then there was a Bankerltanz – literally translated, a bench dance.  It originated in the days long before radio and television, when people had to make their own entertainment with whatever was handy!!

By now it was getting quite dark, and the atmosphere in the square was magical.

You have probably been wondering about the title of the post for some time now.  Well, that has to do with the Goasslschnalzer, the guys who crack the whips.  The whips were used by carters in the olden days, much in the way that we would hoot the horn on a car these days.  The custom appears to be particular to upper Bavaria, and a competition is held each year, to see who can do the whip-cracking best. 🙂  The stick is made from glass fibre, the rope is braided hemp, about 110 cm long, and the tip is made from polyamide fibre.

The cracking noise is made when the tip reaches the speed of sound – it takes a great deal of skill to get the whips to crack in time to the music!

We all agreed that this was a great evening out!!  The next Bavarian festival will take place in Narbonne in August 2017, so make a note in your diary now!  If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, please visit the midihideaways website.