Our Life in Burgundy

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June 5, 2018

La Randonnée des Roses 2018

Filed under: Events,People,Places,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 15:27


This year’s randonnée was perhaps too successful! We normally expect about 250 walkers, but more than 500 subscribed on Sunday. The weather wasn’t too bad, a little heavy perhaps but without full sun. A storm was forecast for later on in the day so the bulk of the walkers set off early.

Chris had devised the circuits of 9km, 14km, 19km and 25km.  He decided it was easier to mark them out himself than organise teams so we spent several days beforehand preparing the arrows and signs, and going round on the quad hammering them in and tying ribbon to trees along the way.



The final post to plant outside the foyer rural

We finished the marking out early before the first walkers went off. In the hall teams were busy registering, pouring coffees and setting out the refreshments.

Martine with Chantal, Sophia with little Abelia, and Marie Antoinette who were preparing to register the walkers

Claire, Simone and Pascale prepare the food and drink

David and I had dash off to the boulanger in Cluny to fetch three sacks of baguettes and we just managed to get to our point d’eau as the first of the walkers arrived. This is the first refreshment stop after about 4 km. We were stationed on the top of a steep ascent out of Varanges so everyone arrived hot and thirsty. Although we were really just a water point we also put out nibbles but didn’t reckon on the huge numbers of people passing through and soon ran out of dried fruit, biscuits, chocolate and oranges. However after another 5km there was a stop at Blanot where wine, coffee and more substantial snacks were provided.


Martine & Pierre-Jean and Martine & Guy served the refreshments in Blanot

There was a further refreshment stop in Culey, manned by Georges and Dominique for the people on the longest 25km walk.

Back at our point d’eau we were running out of water and had to phone Chris to bring some up tout de suite. He even raided our cave and found an extra 8l of Perrier. Nothing but the best for our walkers!

All the walkers passed the point d’eau

and the cattle next to us were interested to see what was going on

After the last walkers had passed through David and I packed up and went back to the foyer where we got involved in a lot of washing up (me) and serving beers (David).

When we thought everyone was back Chris and I went off in the car to fetch in the arrows around the villages and the warning signs from the roads. He left the markers in the woods until the next day when he could gather them in on the quad.

On returning to the hall we were just in time to join in the usual post event shared supper. It was good to discuss the highs and lows of the day. Generally the opinion was that the walkers really enjoyed the countryside and the circuits were challenging enough for the serious walkers and well marked. The only criticism was from the latecomers who found the refreshment tables a little bare but Pascale had catered for the usual number of people, and had not reckoned on twice as many turning up.

Well earned relaxation after a hard day

Luckily the impending storm held off until the event was finished and and all the tents and tables had been brought in. In general it couldn’t have been a better day for the Randonnée des Roses. That’s it until our next event, the soap box racing in Varanges  on Sunday 1st July.

May 22, 2018

Holiday Weekend

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 20:13


Montgolfières in Chalon on Saturday morning (photo JSL) They drifted over Cormatin

With Monday being the 4th public holiday in May it’s been another long holiday weekend. The weather was perfect and everyone was out and about enjoying the many events on offer.

The Saturday morning market in Cluny was very busy, and we stopped to have a coffee and watch the world go by.

At the Nation on the main street in Cluny

Having time to kill we wandered through an alleyway we had never seen open before, and found Eric Clavel exhibiting his sculptures. Mainly horses’ heads cleverly made of carved wood and bits of machinery, and this life size snorting bull which amused people as it had a clock set in his bottom.

Solange and Frédéric from the School of Dance staged a festival this weekend. Solange led the exercises at the ‘barre‘, a crash barrier along the middle of the street. Anybody could join in.

Exercises at the barre

We were waiting to see the flashmob which was to take place in the marketplace at noon. It was not exactly a flashmob as we know it as it had been advertised for weeks. The routine was on youtube so that anybody who felt like it could learn the dance and join in. It was not unlike some of the routines we do in keep fit.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53cG1LaSJZw  We did consider doing it.

The first showing of the flashmob in the market with Solange and Frédéric

Then to the Nartex where there was a bit more room

And then home to watch The Wedding!

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Meghan, thou shalt be my Summer’s Queen.

(after Thomas Dekker, 1599)

On Sunday there was the AutoMotoRetro at Boutavent, the chateau at Cortambert. It was organised by Pierre-Jean, the mayor, and was a huge success seeing it was the first year it had been held. There was an astonishing number of vintage cars and lots of visitors. The setting  in the grounds of the chateau was perfect with a wonderful view.

The backdrop of the Grosne valley

Catherine, the châtelaine of Butavent

Plenty of visitors arrived in their own classic cars and bikes

It was a fun weekend. With all the holidays it is no wonder that not much work gets done in May!

May 8, 2018

Raise a glass we’re French at last!

Filed under: Events,People — Tags: — Mary @ 16:46


Marianne, a symbol of France


Through diligent perusal of the Government website Chris saw last week that we were on the list of new French citizens. Hopefully we will have confirmation by letter with an invitation to a ceremony in Mâcon. This will involve speeches, shaking hands with dignitaries and singing the Marseillaise. I must start tout de suite to master the first verse and the chorus.

I can’t deny that it was a long and often disheartening journey. We started three years ago by getting together a multitude of documents relating to our origins, tax history, police record or lack thereof, and proof of residency. We sent off for birth, divorce and marriage certificates for us and our parents. All documents in English had to be translated by a Court approved translator and were valid for only three months. I am yet to learn how your birth certificate can change in three months.

Tax documents had to be up to date so as the process went into two and then three years we had to send in fresh bordereaux de situation fiscal, making sure they were signed and stamped. Our completed dossiers de naturalisation were sent in by June 2015 but weren’t complete enough and they landed back in our letter box after the summer holiday. Chris, being at that time under 60, had to go and have a French language test. Zut alors! The other candidates were native French speakers from North Africa, and even they complained it was tough.

In early summer 2016 we came home after a day out and found the gendarmes had been round to talk to the neighbours. (Thank you Georges and Gérard). Next day we were summoned to the local gendarmerie to be interviewed by the commissaire who was quite genial and sympa, quite unlike the ladies of the Apparatchik in Dijon who interviewed us in August 2016.

We had to study for this final interview using a little booklet, Le Livret du Citoyen. Bits of it were easy, rivers and departments, history, origins of the EU,  la laïcité (the national ideal of secularism). But other parts were more difficult. I am still not au fait with the Les Droits de l’Homme and how they differ from Les Droits des Citoyens. Interspersed were minute examinations of last year’s tax forms and proofs of income. The British passport was deemed unacceptable because it wasn’t stamped. This validated my suspicion that the  interview was usually directed towards the North African candidate. My brain finally gave up when I was asked to name ten members of the French government and as for famous French people, I could only think of Johnny Hallyday which clearly wasn’t a good answer. But the trauma of it all has faded with time!


Celebrating with our mayor Pierre-Jean 

Today France has a public holiday to celebrate VE Day. After the service by the memorial we went into the Mairie for a glass of wine and pizza. Celebrations all round as Jean-Pierre the mayor announced to members of the commune that we had gained our French citizenship. As an added bonus we were feted by singing the Burgundy song, which then made us true Burgundians.

We must thank our friends and neighbours for all their help and support in negotiating French bureaucracy. And Pierre-Jean who wrote a lovely letter supporting our application.

I would recommend going for citizenship to any British person who wants to stay in France. Who knows what may happen after Brexit?  It’s good to have a secure future as a European citizen.


May 3, 2018

Faux amis et la belle langue

Filed under: People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 12:38

Yesterday we were amused by President Macron and his faux pas during his visit to Australia when he described the Prime Minister’s wife as ‘delicious’. Of course he was thinking about the French word  délicieux which can mean tasty but also agreeable or very nice.  There are lots of words similar in French and English but sometimes they don’t quite have the same meaning. It makes me smile to talk about fraises sauvages as strawberries don’t seem too dangerous. And it always feels impolite to demand.

Without faux amis it would be a lot easier to speak French. After all we pinched a lot of words from the French and it seems reasonable to suppose that if you don’t know a word but say it in English with a French accent it might be understood. But you might get some puzzled looks. Chef  in France is not just the chap in the kitchen but the boss of any business. Débutants are simply beginners, not young ladies in ballgowns.

But it is astonishing to find how much English is used in everyday life in France. You go to the hairdresser’s for a shampooing (pr. sham-pwan) and brushing for a relooking (makeover). As a hobby (distraction)  you could do scrapbooking. With the TV we can do bingewatching and zapping (channel hopping) and watch les peoples (celebrities).  J’ai checké mes emails et j’ai liké sur facebook. I can go out footing in my baskets and short.

Sarkozy tried to stop English words entering the French language but without success. Macron likes his English phrases as in “Make our planet great again”  but one of his projects is to raise the French language from its ranking of 6th in the world. Only a small proportion live in the Hexagon as 80% of French speakers live in La Francophonie, a club of 57 outposts, the majority being ex-colonies in Africa.  By 2050, due to the rapidly increasing population,  85% of the world’s French speakers will live in Africa.

Last November he visited Burkina Faso to promote his ideas about encouraging French speakers and doubling the intake in French schools abroad.

 President Macron visits schools in Burkina Faso (photo Paris Match)

There he met with protests from African writers who are not treated as mainstream authors and whose literature is not studied in French schools. The African countries see this encouragement to use French as a cover for the continuing meddling by the French government into their affairs.

Macron also wants French to have a greater presence online and to become the dominant language in EU institutions. At the moment English is the daily working language of Brussels. In 2004 several Eastern European countries joined the EU and communication was only possible in English. Likewise Globish, a kind of simplified English, tends to be used in Taizé.

Macron also plans to refurbish (at a cost of €200m) a château in Villers-Cotterêts, north-east of Paris, and make it a global centre for the promotion and study of the French language.

It is a long-held French fantasy that French can overtake English as the world’s preferred language. It’s reliving a dream from the past, like the British Commonwealth, a nice idea but unattainable.  Just take note of what language is used for the Eurovision Song Contest!


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