Saintes Maries de la Mer (Saint Marys of the Sea) is a little fishing village in the south of France in the Camargue. Gypsies, Gitaines, Roma, Tzigenes (from Romania), come from all around the area to worship black skinned Saint Sara (one of the Marys) their patron saint – also known as Black Sara or the Black Madonna.
The town comes alive for these two days and is full of musicians, dancers, gypsies and tourists. In the church there was real emotion from the gypsies who touched the three saints for luck. All the front pews were reserved for the Gitanes. After mass, only one of the saints, Sara, is hoisted on high and taken for a dip in the sea followed by a procession of singing gypsies and musicians.
Then the real partying begins…..musicans pop up all over the town, Flamenco, Romanian, 8 piece bands, duos, sole singers and guitars, double bass, drums, flamenco clapping all out shout each other for an audience. Luckily the right wing mayor realises that the festival brings great prosperity to the town but there are still the usual tensions between locals and gypsies.
Amongst the cacophony of sounds this band stood out “Urs Karpatz” they used to travel with a live bear, fantastic music