Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

August 26, 2013

I could have danced all night……….

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 12:02


Obviously Eliza Doolittle wasn’t at the foyer rural on Saturday night for the Bal Traditional as she would have been exhausted long before that. I thought I would never walk again…

For the beginners there was a practice run for three hours in the afternoon. We learned the bourrée which is a popular dance in the country, and dances from Brittany to the Basque region. I had always wondered why the scottish dances bore no resemblance whatsoever to jigs or reels and found it’s because they originate in Bohemia. Doh! The St Bernard’s Waltz was lost in translation and I was taken to task by my partner for automatically stepping back into the circle instead going  the opposite way as they do here.


Dancing with the band began for real in the evening. Cortambert has become a popular centre for traditional dance and people come from miles around. The band was lively and went on until the early hours.


More exercise for the feet next day with the Gerard Thélier walk around Cortambert and Varanges.

See a previous blog  here

Gerard Thélier is a well known local historian and raconteur. He was dressed in the guard’s uniform of the 1700s complete with musket and sword. He showed us how the musket worked; a dangerous weapon especially when Gerard, musket on shoulder, was wont to swing round, threatening to decapitate anyone behind him with his bayonet.


Gerard Thélier


We set off just after dark from the foyer rural in Cortambert, unfortunately too late to see the sunset from the Chateau of Butte à Vent. We had real flaming torches to light our way.  I think Gerard miscalculated the time it would take to walk the circuit from Cortambert up to the Chateau, down to Varanges then back again. It was well past midnight when the merry band returned to the foyer rural for a restorative glass of wine.


Gerard recounting the history of Varanges

We learned a lot about the history of our village. A cheer went up from the Varangeois when we learned that Varanges was an important place long before Cortambert even existed. There are still the remains of an old chateau down by the farm. The sacking of the churches by the Huguenots during the wars of religion passed us by, going down the valleys on both sides (like the storms used to do). At one time the Dukes of Burgundy were in control from their stronghold in Brançion, at other times the Abbey at Cluny.

  • I apologise for the truly awful photos but my camera was on the wrong settings!


August 24, 2013

Back in Cyberspace

Filed under: Events,Village Life,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 13:55


We’ve been on holiday. No, not to the sunny south of France nor back to the UK, but we’ve had a holiday from the internet, phone and the wider world since the village was struck by lightening four weeks ago.


Storm over Varanges

It was the day of the Cortambert cycle race. 16 laps around Cortambert and Varanges. In the morning we fully expected it to be cancelled as 40mm of rain had already fallen with heavy rain and storms forecast for the afternoon. But no, the organisers from Mâcon thought this race was so important in deciding the champion of Burgundy that it was to go ahead no matter what the risks might be to the young cyclists hurtling down steep wet roads on loose gravel.

Chris was just approaching his marshalling post, the exit of a small lane onto the circuit. The storm was at its height, the race just beginning. Chris saw a huge bolt of lighting strike Varanges, and hoped it was further away than it appeared. Most people were out marshalling or helping with refreshments in the hall and it was only later we knew it had targeted the house next door to us.

We were lucky. For us it was just the telephone connections that had exploded, and the internet box ‘grillé’. What a familiar word that was to be in the next few days. Our neighbours were much worse off. All their electrical items had gone, washing machine, dryer, TV, the lot. They had to be rewired and a new junction box installed. Just yesterday the electrician was up on the roof replacing the TV aerial and saw damage to the roof as well as to the guttering.

More immediate was the shock to the occupants who were deafened by the blast. In the house the other side a ball of fire came in through the open door and went round the room. In the house beyond that the fire came in the door and ran over the feet of the girl standing there.

Most of the internet in the village was knocked out and the telephone lines had to be repaired. We were nearly back to normal when ten days later, Bam!, a solitary bolt of lightening struck again and zipped along the lines.

There is a moral to this tale. People with Orange as their internet provider received their new boxes  and were restored to normal operation fairly quickly. Those that subscribe to Free have not fared so well. You can only contact Free, not deal directly with France Telecom, and the wheels grind slowly. So we have had to wait nearly four weeks. Another neighbour with Free is still awaiting a technician.

As I am writing  we have just had another storm. When it started we unplugged everything, no matter if it was protected by a parafoudre or not. I no longer stand in the doorway watching storms. I’m glad we got off so lightly.

And I am eternally grateful that the cyclists managed 16 circuits of the village without coming to harm that fateful Sunday at the end of July.



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