It’s the battle of the calendars. France is the land of calendars (I’ve blogged about this before on my other blog and the most important two are the Sapeurs- Pompiers calendar and the Post Office calendar. These are brought round by members of the relevant profession and you give a donation according to your means for your copy. I’m not sure that refusal is an option!

But which is the better of the two? Let’s take a look.

First up the Sapeurs-Pompiers calendar. This is a locally-based one, ours is the Boussac version, which immediately makes it very relevant. There’s a lively photo on the cover of firefighters spraying their hoses at the École Maternelle, fortunately not on fire. The water spraying theme is recurrent – unsurprisingly – with a factory, a wedding, a playground, and a couple of other places being dowsed. There are lots of photos – fire engines, members past and present, the batterie-fanfare, and training action shots.

The calendar relies on advertising to make it viable and so there are handy ads by local firms on each month’s page, always useful. There’s the obligatory summary of the year’s saints on the back cover. The calendar comes with pre-punched holes in each page so it’s easy to hang up. All in all, a colourful, practical item.

Now for the La Poste calendar. This is regional, but only half of it – the inner 4 pages which relate to Creuse with local maps. The outer pages this year consist of a desk diary at one end, and general info about France at the other end. I use ‘ends’ rather than front and back, because this is one of those slightly confusing publications where some of it is upside down. Are you with me? Open the end with the summary of saints for January to June and you have the desk diary part, right way up. Flip the calendar over and open it like a book from the other end, with the saints for July to December, and the info part of the calendar is now the right way up. Complicated!

The calendar comes with a metal hook on the spine for hanging purposes, but if you hang it up by that, then it’s closed. Hmm. Also, with it being a desk diary this year ie the months are presented two to a page, portrait layout (rather than landscape), you can’t really hang it up anyway. There is very little room to write anything in the gap for each date so not very user-friendly. It’s good that La Poste are trying something new, but I preferred the old more traditional style of previous years’ calendars. That said, it’s a good quality item with stiff covers that come in a variety of designs so you can choose your favourite. The choice covers fluffy kittens, ferocious-looking boar, pretty scenery and cute kids, you can imagine the sort of thing. I plumped for Mont St Michel this year (and a  cheery pic of fishing boats on the back).

So, very different, both in a good cause, but the prize this year goes to the sapeurs-pompiers. However, both calendars will get good use. The longer I live in France, the more the calendar culture takes hold and the more I need!