The Chaudes-Aigues Tattoo Festival In The Cantal

Dimanche, 10 Novembre 2013 - 4:15pm

Cantal In’k the skin 2013
The Chaudes-Aigues Tattoo Festival In The Cantal
By  François chauvin, photos Dams

Where else do you see a tattoo convention where tattooists fly from cliff sides to mountain tops with a zipline or paddle kayaks through the turquoise waters of a peaceful lake  ? This convention took place in a sleepy spa town that suddenly welcomed and embraced the tattoo lifestyle. Surprising ? Not really, because the first Chaudes-Aigues Tattoo Festival, the brain child of French tattooist Stéphane Chaudesaigues, was meant to be much more than a convention.

Something never seen before in Chaudes-Aigues

Ten thousand visitors took over the sleepy town of 1,000 on the July 5-6 weekend, according to local law enforcement. Ten thousand people wandering the streets of Chaudes-Aigues? The townspeople had never experienced anything like it. In fact, until the Festival came to town, social gatherings in the quaint spa town in the Cantal region were rather tame: the annual chorus festival or the weekly tea and dance at the casino.

Stéphane Chaudesaigues and Chaudes-Aigues; two names that are incredibly close.

One is a famous tattoo artist, while the other is a town in the Cantal region of France. If you've been reading Inked, you will already know how Stéphane found his family roots in the Cantal, which also led him to create the Chaudesaigues Award. With the same passion and determination, Stéphane Chaudesaigues dedicated two years of his life to organize this huge gathering in Chaudes- Aigues. He wanted to give something back to the world of tattooing, while taking a special journey back to his ancestral land: from Paris to the Cantal.

Along the way, he decided to invite a number of tattoo artists from all over the world, allowing them to take some time off to discover Chaudes-Aigues and the Cantal region. For the likes of Carlos Torres, Bob Tyrrell and Jeff Gogue, it would be a first visit to France. On thursday, they learned how to cook with 2-star French Chef, Serge Vieira. The next day, they got to discover the surrounding wilderness with an intense nature hike featuring canyon crossings on a rope bridge and zip lines. Artists from 26 countries had answered Stéphane's call, and English had been selected as a common language. Amazing sights awaited the group that got to visit the 13th century chapel of Turlande. Even Shane O’Neill (a man of few words) found the site amazing. Down below, the river meanders around untouched valleys that are somehow reminiscent of Amazonia. The wonderful vistas prompted Dan Marshall to plant his easel and start painting. Known for his dark paintings the new-yorker can also produce whimsical water color landscapes in record time.

That afternoon, more activities included canoe and kayak rides on the water of lake Lanau; another popular touristic destination. We enjoyed a good time on the terrace, but the Inked Mag gang had to head back to town, ready to cover the event.
One thing is sure, most small towns would have not offered a warm welcome to such an invasion of tattooed people. Instead, Chaudes-Aigues played it really cool, thanks to the city's mayor, Madeleine Baumgartner (whose smiling face on Sunday night, said a lot about the event's success). Various local associations had set up camp alongside the city streets too, like the A.S. Chaudes-Aigues, the local soccer club who rolled out the red carpet for everyone (a special mention should be made for the delicious hamburgers made in Aubrac and for Simone's pountis). We will also tip our pint and give out the Inked Magazine prize to the Lou Gallic pub, a local watering hole that's been in the same family for a century and is now under the care of owner, Biche. Morgane from the Belfort Tattoo Family and certainly many other attendees, are already missing Biche...

While hanging out at Biche's fine establishment with Nikko Hurtado, we tried to determine which Misfits album was the best. We talked about the upcoming film 'Tournée' with Mimi Le Meaux, and took a finnish lesson with Sade Sonck. While at the festival, we also played rock critics with Jack Ribeiro and reviewed the new Black Sabbath album, and talked about dogs with the boss of Doggriderz, a company that distributes dog-centric products from the U.S.A. We checked out the ink work of Seb and Bettina of Royal Tattoo, and enjoyed Fabrice Toutcourt's sense of humor; he's from the Marseille shop, l’Aiguille. We also talked comic books with Yann fron l’Attraction Magnétique, we talked Burgundy wine with Manu Badet and Paul Motta who drove his cool hot-rod; a car that's sure to show in everyone's photo album from this first festival... We met so many cool people that we couldn't possibly remember every encounter, but Inked French Editor Mric promises to send a delicacy to all those we forgot to mention.

Unlike many "big" conventions, the fact that the first Tattoo Festival was organized in a village you can criss-cross in under 15 minutes facilitated meetings and exchanges. To top things off, we had great weather, and everyone felt like they were on vacation. The staff of volunteers was very busy all weekend, though, and so were all the tattoo artists. The event kept us busy that the hotel swimming pool never even saw the color of our board shorts.

Let's get back to the Cantal’Ink the Skin festival. Actually, Stéphane Chaudesaigues prefers to call it Festival du Tatouage, probably as a nod to another event that takes place in the region: the theater festival in Aurillac. We like that; we feel that it perfectly conveys the idea that this event as more than a convention, but a gathering open to all. Organized by a family (Stéphane, his wife, Cécile and his son, Steven), the first Festival du Tatouage welcomed families: there was plenty to do and to see for the children, fees were low when not free, and the townspeople were welcome to take part in all activities.

The people of Chaudes-Aigues enjoyed comedian and event MC, Pascal Tourain's presentation of his Homme Tatoue one-man show on Friday evening on the stage of the local movie theater. As Lukas Spira pointed out in an interview for local news station, France 3 Auvergne, the chemistry between locals and tattoo people was great. We witnessed a perfect example of this when we encountered a trio of old men who seemed to particularly enjoy the company of the pin-up girls from Boudoir Frou-Frou.

The festival had much to offer when it came to entertainment, from a polynesian dance exhibition to the performance of Glam Freak, and let's not forget all the free concerts that took place on the town's square.
Festival du Tatouage was a festival, but the tattoo component was without a doubt a prominent feature, with over one hundred participating artists, including some very big names in the industry. There was a deluge of great pieces, and some memorable works of skin art that we will detail on page 86. The festival attracted no less than 6,000 paying visitors, with tattoo fans and neophytes alike, like this old lady who came from a nearby village and watched Matteo Pasqualin for hours with fascination.
This first edition proved to be a great succes and we have made plans to attend next year's event on July 5 and 6, 2014. We'll return to Chaudes-Aigues to hang out at Biche's of course, and to see if more oddities have been added to the facade of the Valdom house, rue Saint-Joseph. Above all, we will be back to witness ink flow once again, and watch the water pour out of the town's hot spring fountain. ...ou en
Discovery nature in the Cantal on the via ferrata in Turlande...
Bicyling In The Skin

Kiki and Pat rode their bicycles to Chaudes-Aigues all the way from Béthune, in the north of France. Kiki rides year-round, whether it's on a road bike, a mountain bike, or competing in cyclo-cross. For a living, Pat designs and manufactures custom spoked wheels. It took him 19 days to cover 1 400 km and get to the Festival du Tatouage. Kiki joined the festival, because Stéphane had inked on him a rendition of Munch' famous 'scream' painting. Kiki also wanted to come down to see Bugs, who did a magnificent and very symbolic piece on his shoulder: two lovers riding bicycles. Kiki got into tattooing at 18, after getting a tribal tattoo. His next stop will be a convention in London, where he will once again be under Bugs' needles. This time though, he's not planning on riding his bike across the channel.

From Skin Art To The Art Of Fine Cuisine


In the high-tech kitchen of château du Couffour, Nikko Hurtado. Téo Milev and Nobu Isobe are very absorbed by what they are seeing, while Jeff Gogue is busy documenting everything Serge Vieira is doing. Viera is a young chef with two Michelin stars (a very big deal) who works in the medieval castle above the town of Chaudes-Aigues. He's now plating a dish he just prepared: purée of broccoli with organge blossoms over a line of powdered potatoes to accompany a steamed turbot. It's a true work of culinary art that the tattooers we very keen on sampling. This culinary demonstration was another idea of Stéphane Chaudesaigues. Serge Vieira loved it, explaining that, much like tattooing, cooking is a demanding trade that involves passion, attention to detail and a great level of perfectionism.




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