Every year on the first Sunday in September, the city of Sens is decorated with flowers, bouquets and superb floral arrangements to celebrate the patron saint of gardeners, Saint Fiacre. This traditional celebration takes place all over France, but is particularly special here. The Saint-Fiacre celebration in Sens is made all the more special thanks to the cathedral, lavishly decorated with flowers, a parade of floats and carts, a huge plant market and a whole host of family-friendly entertainment in the Parc du Moulin à Tan. Soon we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this great event in the city! If you are lucky enough to be in the Sénonais region at this time of the year, you will be taken aback by the explosion of flowers!
A firework display of flowers throughout the city of Sens
The Saint-Fiacre Celebrations begin at Saint-Etienne cathedral with a big mass, celebrated by the archbishop himself, accompanied by hunting corns and an orchestra. Especially for the occasion, the 18 pillars of the cathedral and choir are decorated with huge bouquets. Saint-Fiacre Chapel is decorated with a mountain of squash, it’s pretty impressive and a great photo opportunity! There are around thirty carts and floats down the central aisle, full of flowers and clearly made with special care and attention.
A lively crowd gathers to see this surprising display. The cathedral is packed!
Then, the floats and carts are displayed in front of the cathedral, before taking part in a grand parade full of flowers, from the Rue de la République to the Parc du Moulin à Tan. They are left on display for a whole week. This lively procession is accompanied by a brass band. Expect to see an explosion of colours and music in the town centre!
A tribute to the gardeners
The celebration continues in the Parc du Moulin à Tan. It is transformed into a huge plant and arts and crafts market where amateurs, professionals and gardening enthusiasts gather. There’s a wide range of entertainment for the whole family: puppet shows, apple juice tastings – bearing the “Parc du Moulin à Tan” brand (the apples, picked locally, are pressed in front of you!), conferences, photo exhibitions, giant mandalas made from flower petals, dancing and music…
A few figures to get your head spinning!
- 20,000 China Aster plants, 500 dahlias, 35 squash varieties, 750 gladioli, 200 chrysanthemums are used every year to decorate the cathedral and the carts.
- 1.5 tonnes of apples are picked in the Sénonais region to be pressed in the Parc du Moulin à Tan, making around 750 litres of juice!
- Almost 5,500 people come to the Moulin à Tan Park for this day!
A religious and popular tradition
This celebration originally began in the Middle Ages. Saint-Fiacre, an Irish monk, founded a monastery in the region of Meaux in the 7th century. It was believed that he had the powers of a healer and grower. He can be seen in a number of churches, holding a spade and a book in his hands.
In Sens, the Saint-Fiacre Celebrations have been modernised by the Horticultural Society of Sens, in partnership with the town council gardening services. It takes almost a year of preparations! Choosing the decorations for the floats, planting the seeds, growing the plants and flowers, then cutting, picking and gathering them into bouquets…
Town councils, associations and individuals compete to come up with the most inventive of floats!
- The first Sunday in September every year.
- This event does not require reservation, it’s open to all.
- The cathedral is decorated with flowers from the Saturday (the day before the Saint-Fiacre celebrations) until the following Thursday, so you can enjoy the blooming flowers for almost a week!
- Individuals, associations… You too can decorate your float!
- Snacks are available in the Parc du Moulin à Tan: snack bar, pancakes…
- Entrance to the Parc du Moulin à Tan requires a fee for this special event.