The gymnasium had been transformed into a beautiful dining hall and looked really fine on this Tuesday December 9th, to the great surprise of the guests, who had obviously not been discouraged by the recent fresh fall of snow.
The gala evening was presided over by Mrs Florence Legros, the Rector of the Academy of Dijon, and by Michel Jeanney, the Assistant Prefect; and it was the highlight of this Christmas in Europe, in which the dominant theme throughout had been French gastronomy. We should emphasise, though, that there was no trace of the pedantry that characterises some famous restaurants. Not at all – this gala evening was just as convivial, pleasant and friendly as all the other evenings.
Claude Carriot, in his role as host, was responsible for greeting the VIPs and for making a short speech addressed to all the guests; for her part the Rector made her speech in English: ‘It was a great source of pride for our Academy to host Christmas in Europe during the French presidency of the European Union (…) Choosing the Château-Chinon school for this is a resounding endorsement of the quality of the school and of its wide range of international contacts (…) We have links with Germany, particularly with the Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg involving numerous student exchanges. In this connection I should mention recent agreements between Burgundy and the Krakow region of Poland, as well as with central Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Similarly we are very happy to do the same with Spain and Great Britain (..). Our thanks go to the team which has organised this fine event and worked so hard to make it a success.
The Rector made a visit behind the scenes where the cooks and pastry-cooks were hard at work; she declared herself astonished at the skills shown by the teams
La pièce montée fit une entrée brillante sous les applaudissements nourris de l’assistance conquise par ce show pour le moins inhabituel !
Before officially closing the event, Claude Carriot took the floor to wish everyone a happy festive season and to thank them all for coming. And of course Christiane Keller declared that Christmas in Europe in Château-Chinon had been a truly beautiful 17th edition, and wished everyone a very Happy Christmas. And then came the moment for each delegation to be presented with the certificates of attendance, with the poster signed by all present, as well as with a souvenir.
The next-to-the last act was the handing over of the AEHT flag to the Poznan delegation. A truly symbolic gesture, a gesture laden with memories for some, and with responsibilities for others.
Here and there delegates were making their way around the dining hall giving little souvenirs to their counterparts from other countries, as a way of maintaining friendships. The chefs and their brigades were loudly applauded as they made their entrance and performed a lap of honour, surrounded by the participants who, at Jean Michel Wautelet’s request had formed a large, fine chain of friendship around them.
It was almost half past midnight on this 10th December 2008. All had their minds full of memories and for the last time headed back to their lodgings. In a few hours they would be heading for home. But for many the next meeting is already in their diaries: it is for 2009 in … POZNAN !
Many of the school directors present (there were eight of them in all) or the teachers have already put this date in their diaries – December 2nd to 7th 2009. We can be pretty sure that they will be applying for their schools – with a different set of students – to take part in the 18th edition…