Randonée at Sennecé-lès-Mâcon
Sunday night and the end of another week of activity in the village. On Saturday night a theatre group from Cluny came to the village hall to entertain us with six short plays. Two were by Harold Pinter whom I had never understood even in English. I’m afraid the satirical and philosophical nuances completely escaped me but it was pleasant company on a rainy night.
Today the weather had improved greatly and a group of us met to partake in a Randonée at Sennecé-lès-Mâcon which is a few miles to the south. It involved a drive through the wine villages of Azé and Laizé. It always makes us smile when we pass by the Laizé Pony Club! We had a good walk through the forests and the village of Hurigny. We had driven through Hurigny many times on the way to Mâcon but had never before had the chance to wander round and look at the very pretty stone houses and the Chateau. The hospitality of the people of Sennecé was incredible. Coffee before we started, then an excellent buvet along the way with baguettes filled with ham and sausage, and brioche and chocolate. Of course the local Igé wine was flowing freely so there was plenty of singing and larking around during the second half of the walk.
As a result of my new appointment as sécretaire adjointe in the village we were asked to help deliver leaflets about a forthcoming dance and meal. As newcomers it has been difficult to relate people to names to homes so it was good to be taken round to see who lived where. Goodness knows if we will ever be able to deliver leaflets on our own. It was a very tortuous route around the three villages that make up our commune. Letter boxes and holes in doors were quite difficult to find.
We also delivered a slip about our intended English conversation meetings. Unusually for this part of France there are quite a few people in the village who know a bit of English and want to brush up on it. We are hoping to repay the kindness and patience of those who have helped us with our French which is coming on in leaps and bounds. We find it is particularly useful to be involved in activities such as badminton where it is easy swop banter in English and French. You never know, one day I might be able to understand French theatre and humour. Or perhaps not!
Chateau Lamartine at St Point
What a change in the weather! Although it’s been sunny most days this week it has been freezing at night; we’ve seen minus 4 and 5 in the mornings. Today there has been a very cold wind. It’s difficult to find out from the locals if this is exceptional but I don’t remember such cold weather last year until well into November. It is nice though to have the log stove going. Everyone here heats their houses with wood. It is said to make you warm three times over; first cutting it, then stacking it and lastly by burning it.
The activities in the village continue. Last night there was a folk dance in the village hall. I think we need to go to some of the practices that are held every two weeks in preparation for such events. However French folk dancing is quite slow and very repetitive so it is quite easy to pick up.
A very popular annual event was held this morning. It was the ‘Fête de 1001 Huîtres’. This heralds autumn as traditionally oysters are not transported this far inland in the warmer summer weather. The oysters were brought from different areas of the Atlantic coast, from Normandy to the very south west of France. Apparently the oysters from more northerly parts are more salty but I cannot vouch for this as I was just a spectator to this event.
We’ve been continuing our study of Lamartine the famous poet and politician by visiting the second of his chateaux at St Point. He lived there after his marriage in 1820 and he is buried there near the Romanesque church at the bottom of his garden. We followed the Lamartine Route past the Chateau at Milly-Lamartine where he spent his childhood and stopped to see the Chateau at Berzé-le-Châtel which is a landmark to the famous wine village of Pierreclos. Berzé is a most impressive chateau you could ever wish to find. It dates from the 14th century and would make a fine backdrop for any film featuring medieval times.
Pumkins and Squashes
This weekend’s event in Cluny was the Fêtes de la Pomme organised by La Forêt Fruitière. As expected there were a lot of apples there, hundreds of different apple and pear varieties on show . But I didn’t expect to see such enormous swathes of marrows, squashes and pumpkins. Some were so exotic looking they didn’t seem real. Some were like turbans, some like snakes or swans, round ones, long ones, stripey ones, red ones, yellow ones, green ones. Tons of them.
We just seem to be hovering on the brink of Autumn. It is definitely cooler and we had a rainy day last week and a bit of morning mist in the valley. The the leaves are just beginning to turn and we were thinking about lighting the wood stove. But today the sun is out again and the sky is blue as if the weather is not going to surrender just yet.
Back to school! I have started my French lessons again and Jeannette, my teacher, is trying to introduce me to Alphonse de Lamartine, the famous poet and politician. Apparently the area around Cormatin is a magnet for students of Lamartine. We visited the Lamartine museum in Mâcon where he was born, and on the way home stopped to look at the Chateau at Milly-Lamartine where he spent his childhood. We could only look through the great iron gates as the Chateau is open only in the summer. He had many friends in Cormatin and spent a great deal of time here. I wonder if he visited La Maison du Curé?
Hill Climb Car
The sun is still shining in Burgundy although it’s cool in the shade. This was evident this afternoon when we went to Donzy, the village just over the hill, to see the motor racing. Our side of the valley was shivering in the shade but we could see people across the way basking in the sun, the men without teeshirts. The race track was a hilly circuit of roads that included many sharp bends. We saw a spectacular accident when a car clipped the side of the road and somersaulted several times, losing bonnet, wings and a wheel in the process. Everyday driving is difficult enough on these narrow roads with deep ditches on one side and rocky cliffs at the other without going at such speeds. An exciting finale was the speed trial of the champions from the different regions of France driving F1 type cars.
As in many holiday areas, life for the residents is much more active socially in the winter when the bulk of the tourists have gone. Our village is getting into gear and at the AGM of the Foyer Rurale we planned activities for the winter. It seems that I will be out every evening with keep fit, badminton and French country dancing. I have been asked to give English lessons one night. I also seem to have been appointed the secrétaire adjointe, which sounds very grand for someone posting leaflets through letterboxes. To complement this Chris has a website where he will post events and photos as the year goes on.
Oh, we missed out on something yesterday. At a vineyard not far away was one of those Spencer Tunick installations where hundreds of people posed nude for a mass photo amongst the vines. It was in conjunction with Greenpeace to highlight the danger to the vineyards from climate change. Luckily for them it was a nice warm day!