Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

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 Dance Company 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. www.youtube.com/watch?v=53cG1LaSJZw We thought about it briefly!

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.


April 28, 2018

Cat World

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 20:19


It seems that Cluny is a good place for cat lovers as well as equestrians. At the Griottons today was a show organised by the Cat Fanciers’ Association, originally an American institution which has recently arrived in Europe. The hundred or so cats in the competitions were groomed to perfection and very much admired by the various judges. But many of them have those ugly flat faces which seem popular nowadays, or so much fur that I doubt they could live a normal life. Many of the owners had travelled from Germany and Switzerland, and the judges were from all over Europe. The judge in the photos below was an American who lives in Finland.


Examining a Cornish Rex

The proud owner of a prize winning Persian

Funnily enough we found that some cats looked just like their owners, as above. I find it a bit unnerving the way the cats did not object to being hauled out of cages and passed around by strangers. Learned helplessness?

On leaving we were given free samples of cat biscuits which were wolfed down by our cats tonight so I assume they’d like us to go back to the Griottons tomorrow and get in a supply.

Seeing those unfortunate show cats makes us appreciate our four. A trip down the road to the vet is traumatic enough never mind travelling to another country. They are spooked by anybody who isn’t us, are quite often rather dishevelled and have an ongoing battle with fleas. But at least they seem to enjoy life.


Little Smudgie

The boys, Kitten and Benedict

I wonder whether if they had more impressive names like the cats in the show they would be a bit more glamorous.  Instead of Mother perhaps Ivy Cat Nitro of Snomyst.  Benedict could be Suavere’s Dark Secret of Penobscot. (Actual names of a couple of the show cats). Or perhaps not.

April 21, 2018

The protests continue

Filed under: Events,Places,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 16:42


The market in Cluny was very busy this morning and the fine weather seems to have brought out the protesters as well as the shoppers.

Our favourite stall in the market for plants

It was quite noisy as La Fanfarrosoir were parading round the market as part of a protest about Centre Parks. Two have been proposed in the forests of Rousset and Pologny, one not too far from Cluny and the other in the Jura. Environmentalists made a big fuss in a big public debate in 2015 and then it all went quiet.

Leaflets and dancing in front of the Hotel de Bougogne

La Fanfarrosoir

And off they go to another venue

At the other end of town we met our friends from Benin who sang for us last weekend. This time they had their instruments with them and made a great deal more noise.

Olaitan from Benin

Rather overlooked in this cacophony were the Silent Protesters who are in Cluny most Saturdays in the summer. I don’t know what they are protesting about as they never say.

The Silent Protest

Of course the protests in France that affect most people are the train strikes. The trains were running today but the strikes are affecting two days in every five and continuing on Monday and Tuesday.  Also various unions are protesting, Air France pilots, rubbish collectors, energy sector workers, students…

Good new though, it’s another big weekend for the Equivallée. It is the 40th anniversary of the Grand National. The best international show jumpers will be in Cluny, the grand final being tomorrow afternoon.

Show jumping this weekend in Cluny

Lovely weather, beautiful horses…nothing to protest about there.


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