According to the forecast it should have been wet and windy today. (Though it depends which forecast you look at – Météo Ciel gives us better weather than Météo France). Luckily it turned out a perfect morning for our Sunday walk, a circuit of 10km around Varanges.
Our group this morning
It is part of the 23km circuit that Chris has devised for the Grand Cortambert Randonnée in June. He finds it useful to check out all the routes beforehand to see that they are not too overgrown with nettles and brambles. He also took some photos for the information on the Cortambert website.
Lovely views and good paths
It was still nice this afternoon when we went to Cluny for the final day of Stage II of the Grand National. This competition continues throughout the summer with further stages at different venues, mostly in the north of France.
The Equivallée at Cluny (from www.equivallee-cluny.fr)
This photo shows the fantastic facilities for showjumping in Cluny. There are three arenas, two with sand and one with grass, plus smaller practice rings. On the other side of the road is a large site for the stables and horseboxes. A special crossing with barriers allows the horses cross the road in safety.
We watched the elite of French showjumpers going round a huge course with fences of 1m50. That’s the height of a badminton net!
You appreciate the power and size of the horses when you stand by the jumps.
You can’t have too many photos of horses!
It’s a weekend full of activity. In Cluny there is the Grand National, one of the biggest professional showjumping events in France with 1600 entries this year. We’ll watch the finals tomorrow.
Meanwhile it was a busy market day. After a week of sunshine everyone is busy sowing and planting. Look at these lovely geraniums in Cluny market. However in this part of France we have to beware of the days of the Saints de glace, 11th 12th and 13th May, a cold snap which can finish off tender young growth in plants that have been put out too early.
In the market we were entertained by a flashmob of dancers from the Cluny School of dance. They were led by choreographer Frédéric Cellé and his wife Solange.
We had some heavy showers today which were very welcome after the dryness of the last couple of weeks. Here’s the resulting rainbow seen from our garden. Wow!
It’s official: France is giving up the fight to keep English words out of the French language.
The French have long resisted the invasion of foreign words. For four hundred years the “Immortels” of the Académie Française strove to ban them. From the 1970s several acts were passed which introduced fines for the use of banned anglicisms. Then the famous 1994 Toubon Law mandated the use of the French language in all government publications, contracts, advertising, workplaces and schools. It resulted in a company being fined half a million euros for producing software manuals in English for their medical imaging equipment. Nostalgie could not devote more than half its airtime to English pop songs.
The acceptance of useful Engish words has recently been given a boost by the Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin. She’s South Korean by birth and very international in her thinking. Last month she told a meeting at the French Language and Francophonie Week that the French language is not in any danger and the resistance to the incursion of English words was harming rather than preserving it. Ms Pellerin’s own favourite word, serendipity, has now become French.
The proliferation of English words probably started with the overfondness of all things American. When McDo came to town you ate cheeseburgers at le weekend. And people wear les baskets for le jogging. A favourite of ours is le scrapbooking. If you run out of glue you can do le scotching.
In the last twenty years the widespread use of the internet has introduced computer related words. At first they were replaced by unwieldly French alternatives like accès sans fil à l’internet, now WiFi (a word derived from Hi-Fi). Email or mail is now used instead of courriel électronique.
English and French have long been bedfellows. Most of the Anglo-Norman language came from France. In English we borrow lots of French words like chef, café, menu, entrepreneur, en masse, debut, coup, bouquet… . If you were careful to use these French/English words along with the new English/French words you could probably be understood without going to the bother of learning French.
Here’s hoping that soon there will be so many English words in the French language that we can put away our French dictionaries.
L’anglais, c’est super cool!
When we first moved to France the address of La Maison du Curé was simply Le Bourg, Cormatin. Soon after it became route de Chissey, and within the last couple of years we have been allocated a number, 12. One by one the nearby villages have begun to display streetnames and now it is our turn in Cortambert.
Until now our address has been lieu dit Varanges, Cortambert. Our hamlet consists of over 50 houses amongst a tangle of small roads. We’ve seen tourists searching for their B&Bs or gites going round in circles before stopping to ask. You can imagine the difficulty of people trying to make deliveries. Normally you give your telephone number and the drivers ring you for directions when they get near. This can lead to a great deal of confusion as to where they are, and we have sometimes told them ”just drive around and we’ll stop you as you come by“.
Last night we were invited to a meeting at the Mairie to discuss the new streetnames. Pierre-Jean, the mayor, is very keen on local history and explained where some of the names came from and why they had been chosen.
Pierre-Jean displays a nameplate, beautifully painted by Pascale
If you look round any French town you can learn a lot about the local history and geography from the streetnames. In the 18th century there were simple descriptive names, for example the roads that led to the millrace and sand quarry in Cormatin are called the rue du Bief and the rue de la Sablière. Our street is going to be called the route du Four à Chaux which doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue but reminds us of the ancient lime kiln up the road. As in most communes there will be a rue du Lavoir and a rue de l’Eglise.
Some roads are named after famous people. The main street in Toury will become rue Johé Gormand after the famous art brut artist who lived there. Cluny of course has its rue Lamartine. Politicians also feature widely. Most towns have an avenue Charles de Gaulle or a rue Maréchal Leclerc. Maréchal Pétain once gave his name to as many streets as de Gaulle but he became the head of the Vichy government and was consequently erased: the last rue de Pétain in France was renamed in 2011.
Other streets have dates for names. Rue du 19 mars 1962 marks the end of the Algerian war and is found in both Cluny and Massilly. A sense of patriotism is fostered by the ubiquitous rue de la République and place de la Liberté. Napoleon used to name streets after his battles, for example the place d’Austerlitz in Paris.
The most useful names are those that mark the road to the next town or village as in route de Cluny. Hopefully when the nameplates are in position there will be fewer lost tourists and delivery vans. We haven’t been assigned numbers as yet but the street names will be a great help. A few signposts wouldn’t come amiss either!