Dylan Jones: 'On a French stag hunt, you’ll see sexy quinquagenarian women with lipstick-slashed mouths'

Share
Related Topics

I spent most of New Year's Eve following a stag hunt in the forests around Chantilly, just outside Paris. Few things are as exhilarating, as anyone who has ever ridden in a hunt here will tell you. Where most fox hunts run across open fields and meadows with hedges, French hunts are usually conducted in deep forests. It is a great day out (if you're not a stag), a day full of pomp and ceremony, where you will see 50-year-old men with aggressively styled hair and bright pink tunics, fortysomething millionaires in long black cloaks and tilted berets, unbelievably sexy quinquagenarian women with lipstick-slashed mouths and tight green quilted vests – and the mistress of the hounds, dressed up in all her finery (including a stag tooth stock pin) and looking something like Catherine Deneuve on a horse. They sip from hipflasks, gossip about local politics, flirt, and follow the hounds across the mud and the snow.

The first time I went, I found the whole thing terribly exotic. There are few places in Britain where you can find such a visual feast of sartorial elegance, and it made me nostalgic – for a time and a world I knew little about.

We took our children out a few years ago, when they were four and six, and allowed them to watch the stag's death ceremony. We had taken them to the butcher's, so why not this? I'm sure, for some, this can be a gruesome experience, but it is a quintessential part of the process. When the master and huntsman have finished counting the dogs (some always come in late, panting and irritated at missing the kill), the ceremony can start: the skin is lifted off the beast's entrails, which are then devoured at spell-binding speed by the hounds.

And the children loved it. They loved the noise, the thrill of the spectacle, even the ferocious way in which the hounds consumed everything in front of them. No, they didn't particularly like the smell, but they got used to it. It is a pretty primal experience, but an instructive one at that. And they were far more terrified of ET which they watched a few months earlier.

Real life can sometimes be reassuringly simple.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Business Studies Tutor / Assessor / Lecturer - Tollerton

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried