Each year Christmas in Europe is similar – and yet every year it is different! The 2013 event took place in Marseilles, promoted to the rank of ‘European City of Culture,’ and was organised in the magnificent Bonneveine Hotel School, of which the Director is Agnès Vaffier.
On December 8th the 15 delegations from 13 countries – to which we must of course add Marseilles itself – converged on this city, founded by the Phoceans, by air, by rail and by road. The very next day, December 9th, students and teachers got down to work to install, in record time, their respective stands in the school’s vast entrance hall. The frames of the stands were ready to be decorated, and the work went ahead with the usual good-humoured brouhaha.
The serious business began after the first meal, an excellent lunch served in the training restaurant where the school’s students summoned all their skills under the unforgiving eye of the teachers in the restaurant department. Then each delegation’s stand, occupied by delegation members mostly wearing costumes, was given its first review, both by the local teachers and by the students.
In accordance with the event’s programme – which by the way was fairly well adhered to – the official opening ceremony took place with the traditional ribbon-cutting carried out by Patrick Thévenin, deputy mayor of the city’s 6th and 8th districts, flanked by Agnès Vaffier, by Gérard Vitalis (also deputy mayor of the 6th and 8th districts), and by Christiane Keller; and thus access to the event was opened to all visitors, in particular to the School’s suppliers. After visiting the stands to chat and to taste one or two specialities, the officials gathered at the top of the staircase to speak to the assembly. Agnès Vaffier wished everyone a good stay in Marseilles, Patrick Thévenin wished everyone a Happy Christmas, Gérard Vitalis commented on the dynamic atmosphere that filled the school he was so familiar with, and Christiane Keller reminded her audience of the principles of Christmas in Europe (of which she is the founder – editor’s note), wishing everyone much pleasure and warmly thanking the Marseilles organisers. All had been said, and what looked like little red candle stubs were not candles at all but home-made Grand-Marnier cocktails. Now it was time to make room for the visitors!