Our Life in Burgundy

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June 23, 2013

Midsummer celebrations


La Fête de la musique is held every year on June 21st throughout France. Musicians and performers are out on the streets giving free concerts of everything from jazz and rock to classical music and line dancing.

The festival in Cluny was particularly good this year, blessed with a warm sunny evening.  

On Saturday we had an afternoon at the races.


And the weather stayed fine for Saturday night’s  Feu de la St Jean at Blanot. This celebrates John the Baptist, whose day is on 24th June, and the pagan rituals of midsummer. Music was provided by La P’tite Moisson who played traditional folk music.

Many of the people from the traditional dance group who meet at Cortambert were there so now I know how to do the bourrée, a local folk dance.



When it got dark an enormous bonfire was lit -

We had to keep moving back as the wind changed direction and the heat became unbearable. The idea was to see the dawn but I’m afraid we didn’t possess enough fortitude to stay that long!

June 21, 2013

Balade des Lucioles with Johé Gormand

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 17:46


It is 50 years since the death of our famous local artist, Johé Gormand of Toury. See this previous blog.


And every year at the midsummer solstice when the moon is full we go for the Balade des Lucioles. Every year there are surprises. There is no limit to the imagination and artistry of the organisers.


Pascale and Jean-Louis in their wedding hats

As a theme this year Pascale took one of the stories written by Johé Gormand. On meeting outside the Foyer we acted out the scenario of a wedding of a couple from two well to do Cortambert families.

There was a dance in the barn, the only musician being a tiny accordianist, nicknamed le Niallé, who made up for his lack of stature by his enthusiasm. When midnight struck the couple slipped away and the guests went round the houses searching for them.

Back in the barn little le Niallé was plied with the best Chardonnay by the uncle of the bride and became even more witty and animated. But he’d made two promises to his wife, Françoise – to not get drunk and to be home before morning. The first broken promise led to the breaking of the second.

When the wedding guests had departed Le Niallé set off home. He walked through Varanges before taking the path through the woods towards Cluny.

At this point we drove off in procession towards Cluny until we reached the Bois de la Cotte. We continued on foot, descending the hill towards the voie verte. By this time night had fallen and the people threading their way along the woodland paths with their torches looked like a line of fireflies.

Deep in the woods le Naillé was so drunk he began to hallucinate, walking into a tree which enraged him. But suddenly he froze in terror as he heard the howling of wolves. Despite his drunkeness le Niallé managed to climb a small oak from where he could look down into the red glowing eyes of the five wolves who were clawing at his puny tree. He tried appealing to the wolves to leave him alone, telling them that Françoise would beat him and he’d hurt for 8 days. This had no effect so he resorted to throwing a branch into the midst of the wolves who ran off.


We too heard the sound of wolves and in the darkness we saw the luminous shapes of five voracious wolves….


Next morning le Niallé awoke to find his clothes were in tatters and he had lost the seat of his trousers. Luckily the local policeman came by and le Niallé implored him to go and plead his case with Françoise and to fetch him some clothes.

We walked on through the woods and up the path back to the Cluny road.

Le Niallé did not dare to play for any more weddings but soon regained his spirits by playing his accordian for his friends.

From Johé Gormand’s “Les loups et le Niallé” April 1928


Back at the Foyer we found a wedding feast. So here we raised our glasses to the unfortunate le Niallé and celebrated the Cortambert marriage by sending up a Chinese lantern. 

Thanks to everyone whose hard work made this evening’s balade so enjoyable. I’m sure Johé Gormand would have been pleased.

June 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Kittens

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 22:27

Chris BBQs some chicken

Our ‘kittens’ are now two years old. It’s been a hot day, about 30°, so they have been sleeping in the shade, only emerging this evening for our first barbeque of the year.

We lost two kittens on All Saints’ Day last November so we now have just the three cats, Benedict and Smudge, and their mother, White Cat.  Mother, who was barely one year old when she had the kittens, is the most playful of the three.

Mother climbing the peach tree


Benedict watches her....


and decides to have a go too

and decides to have a go too


while Smuge prefers to roll around on the earth

while Smuge prefers to roll around on the garden

June 16, 2013

A triumph for Cant’Azé

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 22:45


 Another country, another piper….

Piper at Azé church

We were piped in to Azé church this afternoon for the third concert of the weekend given by Cant’Azé to mark the end of the singing year and to celebrate 30 years of the choir.

The men of the choir

The men of the choir

We enjoyed a selection of well-loved songs from the world of theatre and film. The men started with a song from Les demoiselles de Rochefort.

The talented twins

Appropriately the twins from the trio Les Crescendis continued with Nous sommes les soeurs jumelles. The third member of the Crescendis gave a wonderful rendition of La complainte de la serveuse automate from Starmania, a song about the dreams of a waitress.

Cant'Azé in concert

Cant'Azé in concert

There is one song in particular I did not know. It is this beautiful song from Les Mis. Apparently it is not in the English version but is sang instead of On my own by Eponine in the French version. It has the most beautiful lyrics

Ils descendent des nuages
rayonnants de mystère
pour faire un long voyage
d’amour sur cette terre

You can watch Cant’Azé sing  L’un vers l’autre  here.

The leader of the choir, Jacqueling Delaigue, will retire next year and we are hoping that a successor will be found to continue her work.

Jacqueline Delaigue conducts the choir

Jacqueline Delaigue conducts the choir

Afterwards there was a wonderful spread in the Salle des Fêtes where we met and talked with the choir. This evening it was the turn of the men to do the catering. By the way, I asked the piper where he came from. It was the Brest region. A Breton piper.

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