Our Life in Burgundy

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September 22, 2016

The Magic Roundabout

Filed under: Village Life — Tags: — Mary @ 21:15

France was a late starter with regard to roundabouts which were only introduced in the late 1970s. But the determination to catch up has seen the number of roundabouts mushroom from 500 to 32,000 in the last 20 years. Early on there was a decade long struggle to decide who should have priority and at one point the government said each region could make its choice. This was a recipe for disaster so it was decided that drivers already on the roundabout had to give way to their right. This caused total gridlock so nowadays France usually conforms to the system used by the rest of the world where traffic on the roundabout has priority.

Unfortunately French drivers do not seem to have decided what to do if there is more than one lane. Some stick to the inside lane, all the while indicating left, before finding a gap in the outside lane to suddenly exit right.

Work in progress

Today we got a new roundabout. There has long been calls for some traffic calming measure as people driving between Cluny and Cortambert do not seem to take into account when passing through our hamlet that children, cats and ponies, cyclists and walkers might also be on the road. The junction by the Cross is particularly dangerous as it is impossible to see round the corner of the old cafe if anything is coming the other way. So hopefully our roundabout will slow the traffic down and any mishap will involve glancing blows rather than a nasty head on crash.


Chris practising going round the right way

At least with a roundabout the tourists will be able to go round and round while trying to decide which is the road to Cluny. We are lacking in direction signs which will be a plus if we are ever invaded by the enemy but makes life rather difficult meanwhile for the lost visitors. We are on a junction and people even stop and ring at the door to ask the way. Our neighbour who lives by the new roundabout is quite proud of being able to give people directions in several languages.

Street names is another gripe. We were recently given street names but the handmade plaques, although extremely pretty, are impossible to see. So white van man still has to phone and ask where we are.

Anyway we will have to see if the new roundabout has any effect or if the usual French aversion to authority prevails and everyone just runs straight over the top of it at the same speed as before. Bonne circulation!


September 10, 2016

Sunny September

Filed under: Places,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 14:24

 I enjoy every month of the year here but I think my favourite time must be September with its dry settled weather and temperatures still reaching 30° some afternoons. The big groups of tourists are not being herded around Cluny any more, and visitors no longer outnumber the locals at the market.

In Cluny market this morning

Although we enjoyed looking round we did not need to buy any vegetables today as the garden is producing more cucumbers, lettuces, tomatoes, courgettes, carrots and potatoes than we can eat.

The children have gone back to school and we are looking forward to our own rentrée next week with the beginning of gym, badminton, craftwork and tai chi in the hall.

September is also a lovely month because it is our wedding anniversary. This year we celebrated by having lunch at L’Embellie at Sainte-Cécile, a pretty village not far from Cluny. We were outside on the terrace under the trees.

Chris celebrating our anniversary!

A young couple run L’Embellie  Sébastian is the chef and Céline looks after the diners. We chose the repas du jour which was delicious and presented beautifully. Our dessert came lit up with a couple of sparklers which amused the other guests who clapped and cheered. We will be going back to try out some of the other menus. The food and service are 5* with prices no more than you would pay at some ordinary restaurant in town.

It seems as if summer is going on forever but in the evenings it comes as a surprise when the sun goes down not long after 8 o’clock and it is suddenly dark. The nights are rapidly drawing in. Next we’ll be working out how many weeks it is until Christmas!

September 1, 2016

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Filed under: Places — Tags: — Mary @ 23:06

I think I am reverting to childhood but I don’t mean the dribble and the damp cushions. In May when I had my appendix out everyone said  “You’re too old to get appendicitis. I had mine out when I was 10″. Then, on 3rd August, the day the grandchildren arrived, I started with whooping cough.  I thought whooping cough was a childhood illness that had disappeared in the 1950s along with diptheria and polio.

A hot day in Dijon waiting for the Préfecture to open

Anyway, after two weeks of sleepless nights spent coughing, gasping and vomiting, we were due for our naturalisation interviews in Dijon. I didn’t expect anything too difficult. Our Dutch friend who was interviewed in the old naturalisation office in Mâcon said it was just a friendly 15 minute chat. So we didn’t expect the inquisition!

You will find that Chris and I differ in our experiences. Chris went through the whole thing with his usual sangfroid. He didn’t know much but he didn’t let it bother him. He told the fonctionnaire that he wouldn’t have been able to name the ministers in the British government, never mind the French. He came out smiling after an hour.

As for me the interview was a great deal longer and a complete disaster. I got a harridan who spent ages examining my tax returns. Last year’s statement wasn’t good enough.   She dwelled at length on the Chambre of Commerce registration question. The note I gave her from a friend who works in the tax office explaining why I didn’t need to register with the C of C shrivelled up under her gaze as it wasn’t stamped. Neither was my passport. How could I have had it since 2012 and not had it stamped? As for the proof of pension, updates to replace the almost identical letters from last year, why weren’t they translated again?  And would I work out on the spot how much money per year in euros I received in total from one pension in £s per week and the other £s per month?

The family were under scrutiny too. Where do they live and what do they do? Husband’s details?  Birthdays were a bit vague. I’m even not sure I gave the correct date of our wedding. Was not all this in the dossier? I was beginning to feel already that I was a fraud and an imposter.

Then came an easy bit, name the rivers in France, the biggest cities, the countries that border France and the departments in Burgundy. Dates of the public holidays and the reason for them, dates of the wars and the Revolution.

Then it got a bit harder. Talking about the Treaties of Rome and Maastricht. Naming the countries in the EU. Listing the devises for France. (At least I managed to get Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité in the right order!).  No problem with laïcité.

Listing the Droits de l’Homme. Or did she say the Droits des Citoyens? The few points I could come up with were rejected as devoirs not droits. Altogether a miserable failure!

Now for current politics. Naming the president and the PM. How is the PM appointed? Naming the ministers. (I couldn’t even remember them later after I had looked them up!).

And then the final blow. Naming some famous people. You should have seen her face when I said Johnny Hallyday. If looks could kill. The mind, completely vacant by this time could only come up with Dalida, Marie Curie, Molière and Zinedane Zidane. Napoleon and General de Gaulle and a hundred other historical worthies went out of the window and the interview was terminated.

The dossiers now go to the Bernard Casenove at the Ministry of the Interior, and we will not hear anything for another year or so. I am still waiting for a paper to sign to send back with this year’s tax statement. Chris has received his but I haven’t.

The parting comment from the fonctionnaire was that I could appeal against the decision. So I might have to get proof of being addled with whooping cough at the time of the interview. If so I will be sure to get it well stamped.

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