Thursday, 13 September 2012
Douai is a town of over 500,000 inhabitants in the north of France not far from the border with Belgium. It is mentioned on UNESCO's World Heritage List because of the belfry you see on the left. The belfry, which has a carillon of 62 bells, is one of the 22 in the region listed.
Also listed by UNESCO are the giants, Gayants, you see in the centre. These are Mr & Mrs Gayant, who have three children, Jacquot, Fillon and Binbin. They come out each year for the Festival of the Gayants. Carrying the Gayants is a tradition kept within certain families and handed down from generation to generation, usually father to son but extended nowadays to sons-in-law and occasionally to cousins.
According to local legend, in the 9th century the local people appealed to the Lord of Cantin to help protect them from attack. He was known for his kindness and amazing strength. He and his three sons repelled the attackers and hence the legend was born. There are, needless to say, alternative stories.