Our Life in Burgundy

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January 24, 2016

Through the vineyards, Cortambert to Bray

Filed under: Village Life — Tags: , — Mary @ 12:55

Starting from Cortambert we had an easy circular walk through the vineyards to Bray and back.

Our group this morning

Although the mist came up we were lucky to stay most of the time in the sunshine

We stopped to look at this menhir in the vineyards

and returned to Cortambert in the mist

Thanks to everyone who took part this morning. It’s nice to go walking as a group.

When the warmer weather arrives we are thinking of arranging some rides out on bikes in addition to the monthly walks. We’ll keep you posted.

January 23, 2016

Preparing for the Loto Gourmand

Filed under: Events,Village Life — Tags: , — Mary @ 22:08

When we first arrived in Cortambert we were invited by Pascale to join her vannerie group. The first year we went out into the woods and collected our own hazel and willow to make the typical Burgundian wicker baskets. In 2012 we had a trip out to a warehouse in Meximieux near Lyon and brought home all colours and thickness of rattan. Of this we made bird feeders, table mats and bowls. After a couple of years interest dwindled as there is a limit to the number of woven things you can use and have room for, so ‘vannerie’ became ‘handicrafts’ encompassing painting, needlework, model making, in fact anything you can think of particularly if it’s messy.

Our mission at the moment is to prepare for the Loto Gourmand which will take place in Cortambert on Sunday March 13th. The prizes will be baskets of hams, wines and terrines, all beautifully presented in cellophane and decorated with ribbons. Last year we did rattan baskets decorated with stuffed animals. This year the challenge is to decorate hessian bags and wooden oyster boxes.


The handicrafts group…

…hard at work

A pile of oyster boxes left to dry

Some of the decorations on the bags

Marie Antoinette modelling her ‘kissing’ bag

And what works of art they are. The winners of the Loto will be very lucky.

Handicrafts sessions are every Wednesday and alternate Saturday afternoons. If anyone feels like popping in for a session I’m sure they would be made most welcome.

The Loto Gourmand, Sunday 13th March at the foyer rural Cortambert.

January 17, 2016

La Vineuse

Filed under: Places,Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 22:50

We’ve often taken the Salornay road out of Cluny and noticed, up on the left, a picturesque hilltop village dominated by a church with a tall spire. Needing a walk this afternoon we went to have a look. It’s La Vineuse, one of those villages we often read about in the local paper but don’t quite know where they are.



We parked at the church.  It’s closed on Sundays (!) so we couldn’t go in but there was a lot of information to be gleaned from the boards at the viewpoint behind the church.


The church with a view

The area was settled during Roman times, and there are still the remains of a camp to the south. In those days the village was called Fenestracum, meaning ‘the window with a wide view’. Later, because of the extensive vineyards, it was known as Vinosa Villa Sainte Marie des Vignes, not surprisingly simplified to La Vineuse.

The church is 11th century and is noted for its 3-tiered belltower and original chapel.  Opposite the church is the tithe barn where, until the revolution of 1789, the peasants had to bring a tenth of their crops to be shared between the priest of La Vineuse and the chapel of St Vincent in Mâcon.

In 1939 a pot of 8760 Roman coins was found, now displayed in the National Library in Paris. The following year another 7150 coins turned up in an amphora. Apparently these are still in La Vineuse, at the Mairie. I wonder if we might be able to  see them sometime?

The walks around La Vineuse were well waymarked. We chose the shortest circuit as it was a raw afternoon. We saw our first lambs of the year, a barn full of cattle and lots of chickens running over the road and in the fields. But no people nor any signs of human activity. The population of La Vineuse was 293 at the last count but where were they?  Abduction by aliens or rural France on a Sunday afternoon? And for that matter in a place named for its vineyards. we didn’t see any of them either.


January 16, 2016

Le Four à Chaux

Filed under: Places,Village Life — Tags: , , , , — Mary @ 20:08

We’ve recently been given street names. We’ve always been just lieu-dit Varanges. No problem for the postlady who knows everyone but it’s difficult for delivery men with white goods or building supplies. We are to be the rue du Four à Chaux as our road leads up past the ancient lime kiln.

The lime kiln – before

Lime was used by farmers to improve the soil, It was made by heating up small pieces of limestone to a high temperature for a couple of days. Being at the edge of the forest it is likely that bundles of twigs were used to heat the kiln. The lime was then raked out into an adjacent pit.

Possible structure of the ancient lime kiln


This afternoon with our local heritage society, Cortambert, notre Patrimoine , we went up to the lime kiln to do a bit of excavating.


Our team today – Raymond, Chris, Claire, Marianne, Sophie and Pascale

There was not a lot to see to begin with, just a little space under an arch of stones. But Raymond, using divining rods, worked out where the walls of the kiln were, and the location of the walls of a pit next to it.



After a couple of hours we had made good progress clearing out dead wood and brambles, and digging down to the floor of the kiln.


Hard at work!

Winter is a good time for clearing undergrowth and we will look forward to another session of digging soon. Any volunteers will be most welcome.

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