Our Life in Burgundy

Version française

The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

February 27, 2015

The Mysteries of Tarot

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 13:49

No, I don’t mean  the fortune tellers’ game but French tarot, a game like bridge but much more complicated. We are starting to learn how to play tarot and discovering that even in its simplest form it is not easy.


A winning hand; 7 atouts including the 21, two kings and a run of diamonds

The first requirement is that you need enormous hands as you are dealt 18 cards which need to be arranged. There is the addition of a cavalier to the normal four suits, and an extra suit of atouts, or trumps, that run from 1 to 21, plus an excuse (joker). The possession of the atouts, especially the 1, the 21 and the excuse, determine the ability to meet a contract. If you are tentative you can bid a petite, and if more confident a garde, where you get double the points if you win. Because it’s necessary to give at least one person a good hand you don’t shuffle the cards much between games.

Claude generally wins but he does insist on letting everybody see his cards

The person who is the strongest bidder takes the chien, a set of 6 cards that he can exchange with his own, and sets himself against the other three players. Other strange rules kick in, for instance if an atout is played the following players have to trump it even if they are on the same side.

A final difficulty for me is counting, in French, the points in a pile of tricks. The cards are added in pairs to make it easier, most being worth a half point except for the four face cards, the Valet, Cavalier, Dame and Roi. Then points are added to the winner’s score and subtracted from the loser’s in various multiples depending on the contract

I assure you it is a lot more complicated than this potted version but if anybody wants to join us two duffers in learning tarot one morning a fortnight you are most welcome.

February 24, 2015

The Number Two Restaurant

Filed under: People,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 20:41

Cormatin and Cluny are experiencing a renaissance of lovely boulangeries and good restaurants.  A good place to eat is the newly refurbished restaurant at Pont de Cotte, on the D981 halfway between Cormatin and Cluny. It was taken over a year or so ago and renamed “The Number Two”. Some sniggering was heard at first from the local English population but the restaurant has more than made up for its dubious connotations with its wonderful food. The owner, Vincent Landriot, was trained by Bernard Loiseau, the brilliant chef who committed suicide in 2003 on hearing rumours that his restaurant, the Côte d’Or, was about to lose its 3-star status.

The Number Two restaurant

It is well worth going to the Number Two for lunch during the week. The repas du jour comprises an excellent three course meal with wine and coffee, all for €14.50.  The service is good and the chips are the best in France. Evening meals are also very reasonable and on Saturdays there is live entertainment.

We went to The Number Two for a meal on Valentine’s Night with the members of the foyer rural. The drawback of going out en masse on such a busy night was that the staff were a bit overwhelmed but they remained cheerful. The conversation was animated and the company sympa so it didn’t matter that the food was slow to appear.


Meal out with the Foyer Rural

The Number Two is growing in popularity both with locals and visitors. For us it has become our Number One choice.

ps I can also recommend “Le Pain sur la Table: which is a bio restaurant at Pont de l’Etang in Cluny, near the old station. The food is all home made and healthy (although don’t let that put you off). The hachis parmentier, otherwise shepherd’s pie, is to die for. And they sell a great variety of bio breads with grains, fruit or nuts.


February 23, 2015

Preparations for the Loto Gourmand

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 12:20


Preparations are in full swing for the next Cortambert Loto which will take place at the foyer rural on 15th March. It is called the Loto Gourmand because the many prizes consist of hams, terrines, jars of delicacies and the best wines. All beautifully presented in baskets wrapped in cellophane and ribbon.



This year’s theme is to decorate with stuffed animals (pelouche is a much nicer term) and it is all hands to the deck to produce the baskets. All volunteers are welcome.

Even the youngsters lend a hand.


Normally the vannerie group meet on Wednesdays at 8pm and Saturday afternoons. But we had an extra session yesterday morning where good progress was made, aided by copious coffee served with croissants and pains au chocolat.


So don’t forget, Sunday 15th March starting at 2pm at the Cortambert foyer rural. It is one of the most popular events of the year so don’t miss it.

February 1, 2015


Filed under: Village Life,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 18:49


In January a few years ago, a group of us expats enrolled for a French course in Cluny. After the first lesson none of us went back as the teacher avait une case en moins and we didn’t think we would learn any French. The only thing I remember from that day was a fellow student telling us how her village had entered a state akin to hibernation. At home she saw nobody. Her neighbours stayed behind their shutters, only the wisp of smoke from the chimney betraying their presence.

We feel so lucky that we chanced to make our home in Cortambert where winter is a most sociable and active time. In the summer many people are involved with running gites and chambres d’hôtes, growing vegetables and working outside. But in the winter there is more time to socialise without thinking one should be doing something else.


The first Sunday of the month is the games morning. A chance to play tarot and Scrabble for the brainy ones, or Triominos and Rummikub for me. Today, instead of departing at midday, we stayed for a shared meal. All fait maison. Liver paté and crusty bread, wonderful beef bourguignon and carrots, and a huge selection of desserts. The Cortambertsois certainly know how to enjoy Sunday lunch.


So winter is a very enjoyable time of the year. We haven’t had the snow this week, only a few flakes now and again, but if we were to be snowed in I couldn’t think of a better place to be.


Wishful thinking, Cortambert 2009


Powered by WordPress