We arrived at the Festival Chant Du Gros on a chilly overcast evening in the Jura mountains, but we came prepared- draped in festive winter ponchos from Rachel’s cousins. Festival Chant Du Gros is an open-air festival that started in 1992 and has grown to attract more than 30,000 visitors per year. Rachel’s cousin’s kindly invited us to attend the festival with them to enjoy their favorite musical artists and spend time with them. Coming to a mostly all-French festival, we didn’t really know what to expect. But after walking in, it was far larger than our imaginations could have every anticipated; complete with large crowds, tents, and a full lineup of French and European artists. After pushing through the crowds to enter the festival, our empty stomachs immediately carried us to the food tents. We ate everything from Fettucini Alfredo to gourmet tacos that were a far cry from the food offerings at an American music festival. After (several) glasses of wine we made our way to the tents to immerse ourselves in the French music. Even though we didn’t understand a word of what the artists were saying, we enjoyed dancing the night away with Rachel’s cousins.
After having our fair share of wine and French music, we made our way to the “silent party,” a special tent where participants were given headphones upon entering so it remained silent inside the tent (picture everyone dancing but there’s absolutely no sound). Every participant had the choice of listening to three stations on their headphones and each station had a different DJ to play to music. We loved the silent party so much that we came back to dance several times in the days to come. Rachel’s cousins were especially excited to see “Sir Bertrand” (or at least we thought) and were a little surprised and upset that we didn’t know the band. During the concert we looked at each other while they were playing “Give A little Bit” by Supertramp and mutually decided it was an excellent cover of the song. We later learned through this short comedy of errors that we did in fact see Supertramp, and the name of the band, “Sir Bertrand,” got lost and twisted in their very French accents. As steadfast 70s and 80s music fans, we were simultaneously in disbelief and mortified that we had no idea we witnessed Supertramp live. We’ll never live this one down.
Rachel’s cousin Patricia was especially eager for us to see “Mr. Gims.” Arriving in the tent for the festival, it was clear “Mr. Gims” was a headliner because the space was packed. We pushed our way to the front with Patricia to get the best view and with zero expectations, Mr. Gims, a large French rapper appeared on stage. It was quickly clear to us that everyone thinks of Mr. Gims like a god (even Mr. Gims himself). Mr. Gims is a man who demands attention and who carries himself high while exclusively wearing sunglasses (we tried to Google an image of him without them later on and couldn’t find one). Though a strange experience, we enjoyed dancing and laughing the night away and drinking Suze (an extremely popular and bitter French drink).
In the days to follow, at the Festival Chant Du Gros we enjoyed more French music, cuisine that defied festival standards, and great company, but on the very last day as we were preparing to go to the festival, Rachel couldn’t find her wallet. After turning the house upside down, we reluctantly agreed that the wallet was missing (admittedly after perhaps too much wining and silent partying…). With no other options left (and no hope of finding it) we decided to go to the festival and search their lost and found in a last-ditch attempt to find Rachel’s wallet. Upon arriving, we described the wallet and within less than one minute Rachel’s wallet was miraculously delivered back into our hands safe and sound. Flooded with relief and incredulity, we told the employees we couldn’t believe it was there (credit cards, cash and all, all neatly bound with a rubber band). The worker (Rachel’s new favorite person) looked at us, puzzled, and said, “it’s Switzerland, no one steals anything.” This statement couldn’t be more true of the honesty and genuineness of the Swiss. The people of Switzerland will always inhabit a special place in our hearts, especially Rachel’s Swiss cousins, who showed us overwhelming amounts of kindness, love, and compassion that made this experience unforgettable.