Having been threatened with the removal of the blog unless I write something soon here’s a little about what’s changed lately.
Not the weather, that’s for sure. It’s still cold and wintry although the daffodils in the garden are putting in a brave appearance. We’ve had snow on and off this week but it hasn’t settled.
View from our back door yesterday
In Cluny we have a new carpark. As an election pledge the mayor, Henri Boniau (as in the ad for dog biscuits featuring the bloodhound?), promised to make Cluny more attractive for tourists.
Mr Boniau (R) and deputy in the new carpark (photo jsl)
Built on the site of the old perfectly adequate carpark it certainly is very pretty with 1000 shrubs planted between the rows. It cost 570,000 euros for 175 places. Until November it remained pretty well empty, the barriers and the complicated payment system scaring visitors off. Stories abounded that if you had a foreign number plate the system would not be able to read it and would not let you out! The students moved out to take over the free parking round the haras. It was only when a big sign went up saying it was 3 hours free and you could escape without using the scary payment kiosk that the numbers of cars parked there went into double figures. No doubt the tourists will be impressed but to me it’s a white elephant. Hopefully funds will be available for gardening as it is already looking neglected.
Meanwhile M. Boniau continues dragging us into the 21st century. Yesterday there was a ceremony in the carpark to inaugurate the first electric car recharging point in Cluny.
How many officials does it take to plug in a car?
Another change that is not for the better is the plan to reduce the speed limit from 90 to 80km/hr on departmental roads that are not dual carriageways. It is due to be rolled out this summer. Most people think it is just a way of raising extra money from fines. Thousands of motorists and bikers have been protesting on the roads, either by going slowly or blocking routes through towns. The biggest protest yet against the change took place last weekend in Paris by motorist opposition group, Fédération Française des Motards en Colère.
The protesting bikers last weekend
Reducing the speed limit is supposed to save lives, France having twice as many deaths on the roads as the UK. But it is quite difficult to keep a modern car cruising comfortably at 80km/hr, and goodness knows there is enough frustration now when someone in front is driving below 90 and you can’t get past. The way to make the roads less dangerous is to get rid of the priority to the right. A lot of junctions round here have been newly reorganised with give way or stop signs, but you still have to be wary of small sideroads where some old local is likely to come sailing out in front of you without even looking. As do Dutch people on bicycles. But that’s another topic….
A few photos from the penultimate weekend before Christmas.
On Friday there was a good turnout for the Christmas line dance at Bussières……
Francine, Marie-Claude, Christiane, Sami and Jean-Paul looking festive…
and we two
Yesterday the local communes put on a treat for the children at the foyer rural in Cortambert. Holà, l’eau là performed by Estelle Bernigal captivated young and old alike.
A packed hall enjoyed….
Estelle Bernigal doing all sorts of things with water
and the kids tucked into brioche and mandarins afterwards.
Being the third Sunday of the month we went walking this morning. It was rather cold and trying to snow so it was only the brave that turned out. We enjoyed a circuit through the vineyards and called in by Ruth & Joe’s to look at the creche. You don’t see many nativity scenes in France as cribs supposedly breach France’s strict 1905 laïcité law on the separation of church and state. They are not allowed in public buildings if they are for religious reasons. A rival of Macron, president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, was heavily criticised last year for putting one in his office hallway. This year the nativity scene is back, now in the guise of a cultural exhibit to celebrate the art of making santons, the traditional hand-coloured terracotta crib figurines.
Marie Antoinette, Sophie and Chris in Toury
The walk was useful in that we noted where we could get mistletoe. It’s on practically every tree but often it is too high and out of reach. The French don’t decorate with mistletoe at Christmas but gather it for New Year.
Mistletoe grows on most old trees
We won’t get a white Christmas this year. It’ll be quite mild with rainy intervals but hopefully we’ll get out for the traditional walk after dinner…
Just a few hardy souls ventured out for a walk with us on a bleak Sunday morning. But despite a downpour as we started out, the cloud lifted a bit and we enjoyed the views from the vineyards and the forest tracks in the hills above Bray.
Pascale, Chris, David and Claire with Miriam & Michel
Chris had very cleverly planned his walk to finish at the porte ouverte at the cave of Christophe Perrin at Chazeux. We tasted each of the seven wines he has produced this year, four whites and three reds. You have to take into account that the wines are yet young but we very much liked the red Chapaize which I hear won the popular vote as it was practically sold out by the end of the weekend. We’ll save some to have with Christmas dinner.
Christophe Perrin (L) telling us about his wines
In cheerful mood by the 7th tasting
Despite the cold weather we enjoy the winter here as there is so much going on. The events by AFM-Téléthon to raise money for research into muscular dystrophy are just getting into gear. AFM-Téléthon is the French equivalent of Children in Need or Red Nose Day. It monopolises the first weekend in December when there is a marathon of 30 hours of fund raising TV.
On Sunday afternoon we enjoyed our first of many charity events, a line dance at Sennecé-lès-Mâcon. The hall was packed for the more popular numbers and it was a good experience to be dancing elbow to elbow with the other clubs, concentrating on not going to pot when all around go wrong (or could that be me?).
An enjoyable way to spend a cold wet afternoon
I think Téléthon must have done quite well yesterday seeing the amount of cakes and tarts consumed during the afternoon. And dancing is thirsty work.
Cormatin will devote the first weekend in December to raise money for Téléthon. Meanwhile next weekend it is the turn of the Oiseaux Rares, the group of 25 artists who will open their studios and workshops. It will be a busy time for the Cormatinois.
It’s been a weekend très chargé. Saturday was the day of the Foire de Saint-Martin. It’s a huge event with stalls filling the centre of Cluny in addition to the normal Saturday morning market. The livestock events took place on the Champ de Foire. As well as the judging, this year there was a show of equine ability with the horses from the Haras. The St Martin’s Fair is a tradition that is fading away in parts of France but in Cluny it seems to be getting bigger and bigger.
The horse fair
The horses brushed and plaited
and different breeds of sheep
Later in Cortambert there was a really good concert hosted by the Québec-Bourgogne Society. A group from Quebec, FolkloFolie, had been booked originally but the weather in Quebec has caused major flooding and the group were unable to leave Quebec on Tuesday as planned. So a more local duo, Emilio Armillès and Salvatore Gréco, appeared instead. Their show ‘Chansons de Toujours’ was a mixture of our favourite old French songs, some Quebec songs and some wonderful instrumentals on the guitar. All peppered with a touch of Naples and Spain, denoting the origins of Emilio and Salvatore.
Emilio Armillès (left) and Salvatore Gréco
This weekend there has also been a huge vide grenier in Cluny, filling the Griottons, the Boulodrome and the parking for the campsite. Bargains everywhere…
Lots of useful stuff outside…
and treasures in the Boulodrome
The weather is changing this weekend. It’s much chillier than the recent warm sunny days we have been used to. We’re enjoying a hectic few weeks before the quiet days of winter.