Visit to France

In September 2009 I visited France to attend the 29th Exposition Nationale d'Elevage held by the Reunion des Amateurs de Chiens Pyrenees (R.A.C.P.) in Argeles-Gazost.
Argeles-Gazost is a lovely town located in the Haute Pyrenees not far from Lourdes.  The show itself is held in the park in front of the casino, but dogs and there owners seem to take over the whole town for the days of the show.  Everywhere you go, you see Pyreneans!

Before the show we were honoured to be able to visit the 'du Neouvielle' kennels of Mme Nadine Lafitte.  While there we helped groom her dogs.  It was all hands on deck and we were pleased to be able to help out in return for her hospitality.  When grooming was over we all sat down to a wonderful dinner in great company.  I thank Mme Lafitte for giving us the opportunity to visit. 

The first day of the show was a relaxed one, with everyone meeting to say hello and chat.  We watched the Agility demonstrations by the little Bergers des Pyrenees (Pyrenean Sheepdogs).  The temperament tests were also held on the first day. 

Lunch saw us go on a lovely drive up into the mountains to a popular Auberge where we ate a wonderful (7 course!) lunch of traditional local dishes.  Lamb, trout and jambon (ham) feature prominently in the dishes of the region.  It was great to again spend time over a meal with other Pyrenean lovers from around the world, including Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. And of course the dogs came too!  In France, restaurants are not off limits to dogs like they are here in Australia, so they are often in attendance wherever people go out to eat a meal.

After lunch it was back to Argeles-Gazost to watch and follow the parade of dogs through the streets of the town from the casino to the town square.  Once there, everyone was welcomed by the Mayor of the town.  There were drinks for everyone, and displays of folk dancing.  A wonderful way to finish the day.

The second day of the show was the main event.  So many Pyreneans! Even with two rings running - one for dogs and one for bitches - the show lasted all day.  It was very hard to watch everything, but we tried our best! It was wonderful to watch the judges at work and to see so many dogs together in one place.

The last event of the day saw the winners from all the breeds (the other Pyrenean breeds - the Pyrenean Mastiff, Pyrenean Sheepdog and Catalan Sheepdog - had been judged in separate rings as the same time as the Pyrenean Mountain Dogs) come together for final judging.  The Best in Show trophy was brought into the ring in a cart pulled by a Pyrenean.  Judged best Pyrenean and Best in Show was the bitch Ch Chia du Neouvielle bred by Mme Lafitte and owned by Lorenzo Irigoyen Garces (Kennel de Alba de Los Danzantes) of Spain.