Payse from France


Charline opened the road by appearing in January 2011 at the election of La Payse de France organized by the National Federation of French Folklore in Massy.
She arrived 4 °, at the foot of the podium after the presentation of our Society of Farandole, shaking the traditional parade of folk costumes of our regions, going before the jury dressed in the costume of farandoleur – daring and courage.
With this experience, the management team and dance masters of the Merry Minors decided to retake the adventure.
January 2013, here is Virginie again before the jury, in Massy, ​​but this time it represented, in addition to the group, the placers, these women a little forgotten from the world of the mine.
Clad in the dark work suit of the placards, Virginie and her slide show on “these courageous women” won the title of 1st bridesmaid, rewarding just this tribute to those a little forgotten in the history of the mine, integrating them in the grand’combien heritage.


Since at least 1947, the FNFF member of the National Collective of groups of arts and popular traditions organizes the election of the Payse de France and his two bridesmaids.
Together, they are the ambassadors of French folklore during local events or international festivals.

Since 2003, girls from all the member federations of the Collective can submit their application. In 10 years, the Federation of Arts and Popular Traditions Groups of the Provinces of Languedoc presented about ten women candidates. The Merry Minors, embarked on this adventure in 2011 with Charline who won the 4th place.

During the election (open to the public) each candidate must present a slide show of approximately 10 minutes in length, covering a point of culture and heritage of her region. Questions of general and personal culture are then asked. Candidates wear a traditional costume faithfully reconstructed from their region that will be the same for all performances where they are invited if they are elected.

The election of the Payse de France and its bridesmaids is based on criteria of presence, elocution, general culture …

In 2013, 6 candidates from 6 different regions (Burgundy, Midi-Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon, Rouergue (Aveyron), Martinique, PACA) competed to obtain the titles of Payse de France and bridesmaids. Virginie MORELLI has accepted to be the proud ambassador of the Cevennes and the mining territories in the suit of the coal sorters. The election requires the presence of a rider, Damien Combes, musician in the group, wished to repeat the experience. His role is to accompany him on stage and to present his costume in front of the assembly. Thanks to her slide show on tribute to the hard work of coal sorters Virginie won the title of 1st bridesmaid.

Here is the story of his experience.

In September 2012, my group offered me to run for election. After a short hesitation I accepted the challenge, proud of the trust that my group gave me.

Following this, the group helped me to define my theme and its salient points: “tribute to the placards”. In parallel, during the many family meals, with my grandparents we inevitably approach their anecdotes of miner and placer.

All of these remarks and advice allowed me to refine my remarks. I presented a slide show in front of 400 people of which I am completely satisfied since I won the title of 1st bridesmaid. These 15 minutes, although stressful, led me to develop my speaking skills.

I do not forget the support Agnès Layre who agreed to present my costume on a special day, just before the election. We coached her with the happy miners and she was remarkable in describing the details of the costume, its history and the context to which it was attached.

A few words on the organization of this election and on the “management” of elected candidates:

During the preparation of the election, all candidates were chaperoned by a member of the organizing committee, very helpful and supportive. I regret that it was not she who took care of the elected all the rest of the year. This is one of the only committees that listens to the candidates. Others, rather obtuse in their reasoning, impose their ideas and do not question themselves.

Some members of the committee have criticized my costume, “not colorful enough”, “not pretty eye-catching”, in other words not bourgeois enough to make me a good candidate and then a good elected.


This experience was for me the way to continue to be part of my group of dances although I can not attend weekly because of the geographical distance.

I am enriched on all levels: personally, family, socially and culturally in all stages of this election.

The slide show preparation was another opportunity to get to know my family story better. I spent many family meals questioning my grandparents, both a miner and a coal sorter. Many anecdotes flared from these exchanges, there were laughter, some tears poured. But in the end, I discovered how much by my grandparents I was connected to the city that saw me born : working in the coal mines gives rise to certain values ​​(solidarity, struggle, fraternity, equality), a certain idea of ​​living together. These values, they passed on to their children, became my mother and my aunts who in turn passed them on to my cousins, cousin and sister. And I dare to believe that I am not the only Grand’combienne to share his values.

Finally, I was able to share some of these elements with my group, that is to say, to transmit in my turn a part of my history, of our Grand’combian history. We have enriched each other and I believe that I really grasped the meaning of inheritance and the construction of a collective identity: what attaches us to a territory? what does he teach us? How to transmit cultural and intangible riches? How to adapt them to the current context?

In fact, although no longer living in the big city, I got closer to her, to my family, to my group.

This inheritance I wished to transmit it during this election with a point of militancy.

– Activism for the recognition of the workers’ heritage

– Activism especially for the recognition of the place of the woman, in this case present in the world of the mine. But it was also a nod to the women of my family (early feminists) and the job I held during that period, namely social worker in the promotion of women’s rights.

Also, when my costume has been criticized time and time again, it is not only the costume that was criticized but all that it represented; everything I just told you about.

Also, I am proud to have been elected 1st maid of honor of the Pays de France, because it proved that the jurors respected the scoring criteria and did not stop at the color of my costume.

I think these criteria are fair and that the modalities of the election, presentation of a slide show, relevant.

Thanks to this title, I was invited to various events: Banquet for the 120th anniversary of the Vendeans of Paris, Dance Festival in the Isle of France, Banquet of the Scots of Ile de France,. all these satisfactory events in gastronomic matters made me lose sight of the interest of the election. We were brought in as an artist to perform only. We had to say a few words but very succinct on our costume and our region;

I felt really ambassador of French folklore when invited I was also a part of the event:

– Dance Festival at Pontet where I was the godmother of this event: speech, interview, gift giving, meeting with new groups.

– AG of the federation where I had the chance to be able to present again my slideshow and to share my experience of first bridesmaid.

In view of these elements, I think that we should improve

– The recognition given to the workers’ heritage and non-Parisian groups of traditions and folk art,

– The role given to the elected representatives who are supposed to be the ambassadors of French folklore: to offer them to make their own speech (or resume their broad outline) when invited, to think about the creation of an event organized by the elected representatives same,.

– the consideration given to the rider during the election: think about a mutual presentation of the slide show, support for his expenses, arrival at the same time as the candidate (the day before the election).

Finally, I thank the Regional and National Federations who took into account the concerns that I met with the National Collective of Groups of Arts and Popular Traditions, but I thank again and especially all, but really all the team of Merry Minors that allowed me to live this adventure

Now, I invite the youngest to do like Charline and me, to go and defend another image of folklore, an image, young, dynamic and evolving with the times, a living folklore.

The Folklore of tomorrow is the life of now.