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Ray's World Adventures 2000

France Adventure 2000 - Marseille
International Kite Festival, Envol 2000

After Germany, I had the pleasure of being sponsored to the Marseilles International Fête du Vent kite festival. This year it was called Envol 2000. I was met at the Marseille airport by a very lovely french girl named Jacky. I had met Jacky at the Narbonne kite festival last May and then, as now, she reminded me of one of the female characters who plays opposite Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond movies. I love the outfits they wear, but I can never figure out if they are outside trying to get in, or inside trying to get out.

This was my second fully sponsored trip this season to the South of France, this time to the very beautiful and romantic 2,600 year old City of Marseille. Its exceptional setting between the mountains and the blue Mediterranean is breathtaking. I was enchanted with its harbor and the little islands that are dotted around, and I was intrigued to see for myself the famous Chateau d'If where the Man in the Iron Mask and the "Count of Monte Cristo" were imprisoned. For a moment, I was lost in the memories of books I read when I was a young boy and then, years later, seeing the movies.

The festival was held at the Plage du Prado (Prado is the name of the town where we stayed). All the fliers were lodged at the Maeva Prado Plage and my roommate was my longtime friend, Istvan Bodoczky from Hungary. He creates asymmetrical kites, which are aesthetically pleasing, quite dramatic, and very surprising. Istvan has put on exhibitions and flown his creations all over Europe, Canada, and on the Golan Heights in Israel. We are both at opposite ends of the kite scale, but we both enjoyed sharing the flying arena plus each other's company. There were actually 75 international kite fliers from India, Australia, Israel, Chile, Korea, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Spain, to name just a few, plus 270 kite fliers from all over Europe attending this world class festival which was superbly organized by Frederique Riquier and her wonderful crew of volunteers.

This festival is, without a doubt, on par with the Dieppe kite festival, weather and wind wise and how it is situated. The festival is held on grass running parallel with the beach, just like Dieppe and just as long or even longer, also wider, and the beach is a mixture of sand and pea gravel, not pebbles, next to the beautiful warm waters of the blue Mediterranean.

School workshops and kite demonstrations were presented by the international kite fliers throughout the week. To see the children flying their very own works of art in the school playgrounds and on the beach is a wonderful sight. Children are the same all over the world; put a kite in their hands and they are happy.

Saturday, the first day of the festival, arrived with another beautiful day in paradise but very light wind coming from the wrong direction, but it was early yet. All the fliers were busy setting up. I look at Frederique, the organizer, and kind of shrugged my shoulder. She smiled and said, "Ray, don't worry. By 11 o'clock the wind will turn around and come off the ocean at 10 plus mph." Sure enough, she was right on. I mean, Wow!! How does she do that?

The festival from start to finish was a huge success. The sky was a maze of color, showing off kites of every description from around the world. The part I liked was that the sport kite fliers had their own end of the festival site to give all-day demonstrations, individual, pairs and Team flying. Once again,I was able to watch the amazing French trick fliers. I think even Brian Champie, the pride of the West coast ,could learn a thing or two from these guys. I am very sure that he could show them a thing or to, as well. As I have mentioned before, I am not into trick flying, but I must admit these guys make me stop what I am doing and watch.

They had a great sound system, with commentators explaining who was who, and what was going on to the tens of thousands of spectators who were lined shoulder to shoulder around the huge flying arena. The day went well, with everyone doing their thing, thrilling the crowds with their talents. 6:00 P.M. came all too quickly and it was time to pack up and go to the fliers banquet that was held on the beach. There was plenty of good food and the beer and wine flowed like water. Beautiful Brazilian girls danced on stage, and one of the French kite fliers dressed up as a girl dancer did a fine job dancing among the tables, looking great in his scanty outfit. In fact, the more beer and wine we drank, the better he began to look. It was a wonderful evening and a great finish to an awesome day.

Sunday was another beautiful day with good 15mph wind. The sky was again a mass of color, and kite demonstrations were in full swing. By noon there were over 100,000 spectators. What a magnificent sight, to see so many people enjoying the kite festival. It is very hard to express my feeling when, after performing a multiple kite ballet in near perfect wind conditions to the music "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings," to turn around and see the tens of thousands of spectators jumping up and down, waving and clapping their hands, then being hugged, kissed, and having my hand shaken in appreciation of my performance is unbelievable and unforgettable.

Thank you, Ville de Marseille for sponsoring me to your Envol 2000 International Kite Festival. You can be very proud of your kite festival, as it is indeed a world class event in every way.

Thank you Frederique Riquier and your wonderful team of volunteers for not only organizing this festival but also, and I know I speak for all the international guests, for your hospitality and friendship. We were all very impressed by the way you took care of each and every one of us throughout this wonderful week in Marseille. Thank you again and I am looking forward to seeing you and sharing the flying arena with my many friends at the Frejus International kite festival near Nice on November 3rd and 4th.

Thank you for listening,


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