Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

June 22, 2012

Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Pérouges

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 21:34

Here we are getting into our charabanc (a 9-seater bus from Super-U) on our day trip  with the vannerie group. We were going to visit a rattan supplier at Meximieux to buy materials for next year’s basketmaking.

Ready for departure

Ready for departure

Meximieux is to the northeast of Lyon and en route we visited the medieval town of Pérouges which dates from the 12thcentury. Its patron saint is St George and we were amused to see a statue of him killing a very small, rather toothless dragon.

St George, the patron saint of Pérouges

St George, the patron saint of Pérouges

Les Pérougiens were determined to maintain their independent status against invasion by surrounding duchies. The fortified church at the entrance to the town is noted for its defensive loopholes. In fact in 1468 the church was destroyed by the residents of Pérouges themselves so they could use the stone to fortify the ramparts. It was rebuilt a year later after the Duke of Savoy had fought off Louis XI’s troops.

Outside the church before entering the town gateway

Outside the church before entering the town gateway

 The town retained its independence until 1601 when it became French under Henri IV.

For hundreds of years Pérouges prospered due to its textile industry. But with the advent of the railways and the rerouting of local roads Pérouges found itself in a backwater and people left to find work elsewhere. The empty village was nearly demolished but in 1911 a local businessman, M.Thibaut, launched a press campaign and with the help of archaeologists the village was saved.

The steep streets of Pérouges

The steep streets of Pérouges

The town is steeped in history and along the streets paved with round cobbles are many merchants’ and craftsmen’s shops displaying their ancient signs. The shutters open horizontally to provide a shelf to display wares.

Unusual shutters on the merchants' houses

Unusual shutters on the merchants' houses

 We visited the boulangerie to buy the local speciality, a sort of gallette with a caramel topping, which we ate with our picnic before we went on to Maximieux.

Chez le boulanger

At the rattan supplier we were given a guided talk and shown how rattan can be used.

Ready made caning, one of the many uses of rattan

Ready made caning, one of the many uses of rattan

Rattan comes from Indonesia and southeast Asia. It looks a bit like bamboo but with a soft centre so doesn’t stand up by itself but threads its way through tropical forests, sometimes reaching hundreds of metres long. The rattan weaving material we use is the skin which is peeled off and sliced into different widths.  Rattan is quite flexible and can be stained different colours.

Here’s some we made earlier……..

You can make all sorts of things from rattan

You can make all sorts of things from rattan

June 21, 2012

A night of music and dance in Cluny

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 23:57

It’s midsummer and festival time. I’ve never seen so many people as there were in Cluny tonight. There were bands outside every café and on every street corner. A cacophony of rock and jazz where you couldn’t hear yourself speak.

The evening began on a quieter note with a superb concert by our local choir Cant’Azé, enhanced by singing outside on this warm summer evening.

Cant'Azé perform at the School of Music & Dance

Cant'Azé perform at the School of Music & Dance

 

Our own rock group from Cortambert were also performing outside the Cafe du Centre…..

An energetic performance from Awen

An energetic performance from Awen

 

and a jazz band was playing further up the street.

Jazz

Jazz

 

And for a change some line dancing. I hadn’t even realized that there was a line dancing club in Cluny.

The Cluny Dream line dancers

The Cluny Dream line dancers (by the time we saw them dancing it was too dark for a photo)

 

When we left at 11.30 the night was yet young. I only wish we were!

June 17, 2012

Of Cats, Cars and Choirs

Filed under: Events,Places,Village Life,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 23:12
Claude the cat

Claude the cat

What a weekend! First we find our cat Claude immobilised with pain from a punctured eye. So he is under house arrest for five days on eyedrops and painkillers. It’s not so easy when his siblings are out and about. You can’t open a window as he is hell-bent on escaping.

 

A Renault Alpine tackles the roads round Cortambert

A Renault Alpine tackles the roads round Cortambert

But good news, summer has arrived at last and it was hot for this year’s Rallaye des Vins. One of the stages began in Cortambert so the roads through the hills were closed for the day. Our foyer rural committee had set up a buvette amongst the vines overlooking the course and most members took a turn serving behind the counter. The hot sunshine ensured a roaring trade in beer and cold drinks. Hot dogs and chips were popular and the new gaufre machine was well and truly christened.

Chris demonstrating the gaufre machine

Chris demonstrating the gaufre machine

 

Meanwhile several of our neighbours were occupied with Cant’Azé, the local choir, which put on three concerts over the weekend. We went to the final concert today at the church in Azé. It was just superb. The songs were cleverly linked by the theme les sens et l’essence de la vie. We were taken on a voyage from the announcement of a birth through childhood, love and romance and eventually to death – le pont des âges. The five senses were examined during this voyage through life. Il n’y a rien dans notre intelligence qui ne soit passé par nos sens. To help us appreciate the sense of smell a machine disguised as an old shoe was puffing out the smell of old socks (or French cheese?). Then the church became perfumed with roses. In the programme we found a sealed envelope, ne pas ouvrir. Suddenly we were told Ouvrez-là, allez-y, goûtons ce plaisir! It was a jelly sweet. Mine was orange, not pissenlit!  Tous les goûts sont dans la nature.

Cant'Azé

Cant'Azé in concert

After the concert we were invited for a glass of wine and a buffet of savouries and cakes made by the sopranos. Everybody was ready for a snack and the plates were cleared so quickly that you would have thought a plague of locusts had descended.

The hospitality of Cant'Azé

The hospitality of Cant'Azé

Cant’Azé showed the results of a year of hard work and dedication. One narrator asked the other, As-tu senti la chaleur du public ce soir? As-tu vu comme ils semblent satisfaits? The answer is a resounding Oui!

June 9, 2012

Jubilee Celebrations

Filed under: Events,Village Life — Tags: — Mary @ 23:20

Over the last week or so friends have asked how we felt about being away from England during the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations. To be honest there wouldn’t have been a lot going in our part of suburban Leeds and we were glad to avoid all the hype and the shops full of union jack teapots and barbeque sausages. From our armchairs we could watch the flotilla and those poor girls trying to sing in the rain. Even French TV showed endless programmes about the Queen.

A warm welcome from Ruth

A warm welcome from Ruth

So we didn’t realise how nice it would be to take part in a Jubilee celebration until our friends Ruth & Joe and their English friends invited us to their splendid teaparty along with several of our French, Swiss and Dutch neighbours.

Scones with real whipped cream!

Scones with real whipped cream!

The French have a notion that the English have tea at 5 o’clock and now they know it’s true.

The only bunting in the village.....

The only bunting in the village.....

Thank you Ruth!

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