There are about 150 forains, or carnies, who work at the fete, which has been in existence for about the last 50 years. And they are p.o’ed because they’re going to have to move next year. See, there’s a tramway that’s being built and the construction will need the space where the carnival is held (which is just off of the Grand Rond, or Big Roundabout, in Toulouse).
The mairie’s office has proposed a couple of spots, such as the parking lot at the Zenith, the big concert hall, or down at the convention center. The forains say that these spots are either too far away from their current spot or too small. They’ve met with the mairie’s office on a couple of occasions but without coming to an agreement on where the fete should be held. Note: The forains just want to stay where they are and say that their space shouldn’t be used for the tramway.
So to demonstrate just how p.o’ed they are, they conducted an Operation Escargot this morning. Y’all know what escargots are right? Snails. Well, during an Operation Escargot, people from an aggrieved organization will get in their cars and get onto the local Beltway (in our case, the peripherique), occupy each lane abreast of one another, and drive at about 20 KPH (13 MPH for our US readers). They will do this in each direction. And there will be more than one wedge in each direction. A report on LaDepeche said that about 50 forain vehicles were involved in this morning’s operation.
As you can imagine, traffic jams were dozens of klicks long this morning. As D and I sat in traffic – 12 klicks west of the peripherique – trying to get him to school, I said that I hadn’t ever seen backups this severe, even including during one of the major snowstorms – i.e., 1″ or 2-3 centimetres of snow – that we had last winter.
The fete continues throught his weekend. Organizers have said that all customers this weekend will benefit from from buy one-get one free deals. Oh goody.