Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

September 28, 2014

Grand Prix régional de Bourgogne

Filed under: Events,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 17:23


This weekend saw the last big showjumping event of the summer. The Grand Prix de Bourgogne was the final of six regional competitions and 865 top riders from as far afield as Alsace, the Rhône-Alpes and Switzerland arrived at the Equivallée at Cluny.

The weather has been superb with continuous sunshine. We watched the juniors’ speed events yesterday. Riders as young as 6 years old were tackling a big course at a tremendous speed, galloping their ponies around and hardly slowing for the jumps.

The winners of one of one of this afternoon's events receive their prizes

The Equivallée is making a name for itself as one of the foremost venues for horse jumping competitions. The chef de piste ensures that events run on time, the judges are outstanding and there are excellent facilities for both horse and rider.

A sack of carrots for each horse

And the prizes! We laughed this afternoon as each winning horse got a rosette and a sack of carrots. The riders got something too.

The winner leads the way for a lap of honour

September 27, 2014

Vin Nouveau

Filed under: Village Life,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 17:44

 We’ve had a lovely afternoon with our neighbours who own the vineyard just above us. Last week they sent away the red grapes to the co-operative at Lugny but there were still several rows of white grapes which the farmer had kept to ‘amuse the family’.


Chris picking grapes

Everyone helped, no matter what age -

It didn’t take long and we went back to the farm to watch while the grapes were first put through a sort of mincer and then into the wine press.

At first the juice ran out by itself but soon weights were put on top to press them.


Chris turns the handle to press the grapes


The result was a very sweet grape juice.

The grape juice is tasted straight from the press

If you keep grape juice in bottles for a little while it turns into vin nouveau, a sort of sparkling grape juice with a little bit of alcohol in it. But that’s where the process ends because of course individuals are forbidden to make alcohol in France….

September 21, 2014

Lourdon- the unknown Chateau


It’s heritage weekend and Chris had the idea of combining our monthly randonnée with visiting the ruins of the chateau of Lourdon, open to public view for the very first time.

Today's group of walkers

We enjoyed a good walk around Lournand with its pretty houses and wonderful views across the Grosne valley to Varanges and Cortambert. We rested for a while in the ancient chapel of Saint-Laurent at Collonges before heading down to the chateau.

This chateau has never been excavated, having been abandoned after its demolition in 1632. It is on private land and until now the owners have resisted any attempts to investigate it.

But two years ago Castrum lordo, a group of 80 heritage enthusiasts led by Dominique Béruard, in conjunction with the centre de castellologie de Bourgogne, began clearing the site of undergrowth. They do not yet have permission to dig so it is not known what lies underneath the rubble. In one of the ruined towers there seems to be a blocked stairway going down.

Exterior of the jeu de paume hall

The fortified chateau of Lourdon has a very chequered history. It dates from 888, well before Cluny Abbey. In 910 the chateau was part of a donation given to the monks to help found Cluny Abbey and it became a residence for the abbots. It contained their library, records and treasure. In 1470 the chateau was destroyed by Louis XI and later pillaged by Charles le Téméraire. In the 1490s Jean de Bourbon restored the chateau but it was destroyed again by a small group of Protestants in 1574.

The Chateau destroyed

 Twelve years later Claude de Guise rebuilt the chateau. His Lorraine coat of arms with the date 1586  is set in a wall. Claude de Guise also built a hall for jeu de paume, of which the remaining nine pillars still dominate the landscape. Jeu de paume was the forerunner of short tennis.

From inside the jeu de paume

In 1632 Cardinal Richlieu ordered that all fortified chateaux be razed to suppress the feudal nobility and consolidate the power of Louis XIII.  A company from Dijon won the tender and blew up the chateau with explosives. The towers were all demolished but the jeu de paume was largely spared. Perhaps it would not have been much use as defence?

Our guides

So this weekend members of the Castrum lordo took groups for guided tours around the chateau and explained its history. Several were dressed in medieval costume and they had re-enacted an encampment typical of the XIII century. 

A taste of medieval life

They also provided medieval snacks, very welcome as we had been walking all morning.  We became merry on moretum, a drink with blackberry, red wine and marc, and enjoyed the séchottes, a cross between a biscuit and pancake.

Perhaps when Castrum lordo begin their dig and ask for volunteers we will be there with our spades. It would be interesting to unearth what has been hidden for nearly 400 years.


September 15, 2014

Portes ouvertes de l’aéroclub du Mâconnais


On Sunday afternoon we went down to the aérodrome de Mâcon-Charnay for their open day. The weather continues to be sunny and clear so it was ideal for watching the small planes and helicopters come and go.

Across the other side is the model airplane club and by remote control they were performing stunts which looked, from our side, just like a real air display.

We look in the Journal every day for the weather forecast and we were interested to find that the weather station for the Saône-et-Loire is at the aerodrome. A young meteorologist showed us around. If the weather people happen to be wrong it is tempting to say they should just look out of the window. Actually they do. Outside they have the usual wind speed indicator and rain gauge but they also take the time to stand and look. They record how far they can see by which landmarks are visible, feel how damp the gravel is, note what clouds are in the sky…all sorts of general observations.

Inside the weather station

We had our card stamped at every stall and are just waiting to hear if we have won a helicopter ride. Look up if you hear one, it could be us!


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