Our Life in Burgundy

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February 19, 2017

Sunny Sunday Balade

Filed under: Events,Places,Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 16:43

After an early frost the sun soon made the morning very pleasant, perfect for our monthly Sunday walk led by Chris. Our aim was to follow part of the trail, the running race planned for March 19th which is to start in Cortambert.

We parked at the Moulin de Culey and headed up the hill. At 6.5km this walk did not sound to be very far but the ascent is quite tough in places. I can’t imagine how fit you must be to run up Mont Saint Romain and back to Cortambert.

Today’s walk

and our group setting off

This fallen tree will have to be moved before the trail

Almost finished, at the lavoir at Culey

Hopefully the weather will be good for March 19th for the big event. You can find further details about the trail de Mont Saint Romain on the website trail-mont-saint-romain.fr

February 14, 2017

Le Musée des Confluences

Filed under: Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 16:17

On Saturday we had a lovely day out in Lyon with the line dancing club. We were taken by coach with Voyages Clunysois to the new Musée des Confluences.

Arriving at the museum

We arrived quite early, before the crowds. Just as well as the security was horrendous. We were allowed in four at a time through the bag search and metal detector. By mid afternoon there was a queue of Disneyland proportions outside and another long queue at the ticket desk. (Tip: buy your ticket online and you can jump the queue). Goodness knows what it will be like in the holidays.

The exhibitions are upstairs, the first floor being devoted to the temporary exhibitions. We started with ‘African pots’ and soon moved on to ‘Shoes’ (yawn) and some weird videos of ‘Contemporary Dance’ which I suppose might have been more interesting if we had bothered to ask for headphones. The exhibition that most people had gone to see was ‘Antartica’ (long queues in the afternoon) with displays of life in subzero temperatures and a sort of 360° film à la David Attenborough with penguins leaping in and out of the sea. I particularly liked the seals wending their way through the ice floes. The rooms were so dark it was difficult to find the way out.

As for the permanent exhibition there was a seemingly random selection of museum artefacts, from dinosaurs to stuffed animals to Egyptian mummies and Cambodian buddhas, with a lot of airy fairy philosophy which boils down to the fact that humans are just passing through this world and we are all basically the same.

A mammoth found locally

and a mosasaure

The ‘Origin of the Universe’ was quite interesting and a lack of comfy seating elsewhere led me to sleep through three showings of a video about the big bang theory. There were a few seats amongst the exhibits but the cavernous corridors and halls were bereft of benches, except for a sloping stainless steel thing outside the first floor toilets which I kept sliding off. The floor was the better option.

But don’t take any notice of what I say. The exhibitions were good but a bit of a mishmash. To my mind there are still teething troubles and irritations. The permanent exhibits had English translations that were so faint they were difficult to read. However I couldn’t fault their English (my normal gripe in French museums) except once – “All primates are not monkeys“. Some of the exhibits in ‘Societies’ were protected by beams from above which set off the alarm if you happened to lean over to read the descriptions. However you were welcome to touch a dinosaur skull, a mummified cat and a rock from the moon.

What is undoubtedly spectacular and unmissable is the building itself. Built by an Austrian firm of architects, intriguingly called Himmelb(l)au, it cost about 300 million euros.

It was built at the point where the Rhône and the Saône come together

I read that “the turbulance of two rivers coming together created the idea of crystal flowing into a cloud with interruptions in the shape like eddies, full of chaos, complexity and nonlinearity”. It looked like a spaceship to me.

From the south

It’s an exciting building, but not for people with a fear of heights. Chris refused to go down the suspended walkway, or go up to the cafe on the roof to see the incredible views of Lyon. Funnily enough he was not bothered by the glass floor through which you could see people walking far below, underneath the building.

The scary walkway

but there’s an escalator

or you can go down by the stairs

By the way, you don’t need to buy a ticket to get into the museum building, nor to go up to the roof or walk in the gardens. You only need a ticket to enter the galleries and exhibitions.

A windswept walk in the grounds

It was a cold windy day but we went down to explore the garden. If you want you can stand with one foot in each river. There are moorings for boats, and a beautiful pedestrian and tram bridge connects the Confluence to the other side of the Rhône.

A tram crossing the Rhône

After a hard day at the museum, we enjoyed a meal at Brasserie Georges, next to the gare de Perrache. Established in 1836 as a brewery, it soon became one of the largest and most famous brasseries in Europe, seating up to 700 people at a time. Here you can see how skilled French waiters are. The service was quick, efficient and unobtrusive; in the huge main hall the waiters were almost running. And best of all, the meal was delicious.

Our line dancing group at the Brasserie Georges

So, thanks to Cluny Dreams and Voyages Clunysois, it was a brilliant day out!

February 12, 2017

Sleeping cats

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

This morning we left our three sleeping cats to go and see the international cat show at Les Griottons in Cluny. We’d seen the cats arriving yesterday morning, some from Switzerland and Holland. Uncomplaining, they were wheeled in by the trolleyload.


Swiss cat enthusiast’s car

I thought then that they couldn’t be proper cats. Ours howl like souls in torment just going to the vet’s. And today we saw the hall full of cats, mostly huge and fluffy and all asleep except for those hauled out of their cages to be presented to the judges. The owners hold them so they are stretched out as long as possible.

Huge cats…

poked and prodded, and tested for their playfulness

The judge in the above photo was from Belarus and he gave his verdicts in English. Goodness knows if the owners ever understood that their cats had a wonderful coat or nice bone structure.

What makes me think that these show cats were just realistic automatons was that they accepted their treatment without demur. They didn’t seem to mind being handed around and examined, or bothered about strangers peering in at them. Sometimes there were even three cats in one cage.

Back at home we find our real cats still sleeping, each in their separate rooms. Mother, our adopted ‘wildcat’ insists that ‘the kittens’, now aged 5, should leave home. Benedict wants to be pally with Smudge but Smudge doesn’t want anything to do with him. I woke up this morning to find them fighting under the bed. Mother would rather die than learn to use a catflap. If the doorbell rings or there are voices outside there is mass exodus so I’m not sure that any of our friends even believe we have cats. They will not be picked up or brushed. Mother will put up with a couple of strokes before you are in danger of losing your fingers.


Anyway, even if they are not sociable nor biddable our three are tough and streetwise. I’m not sure I would choose to have a cat who would do what I wanted. Anyway you don’t choose your cats, they choose you.

February 10, 2017

At the Lycée Alexandre Dumaine

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 14:39


Alexandre Dumaine


Alexandre Dumaine was a very famous Burgundian chef who put Saulieu, a village in the Côte D’Or, on the map by gaining 3 Michelin stars. He was ‘the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings’ as royalty and the rich and famous would make a point of stopping at his restaurant en route to the Côte d’Azur. He also gave his name to the catering college in Mâcon, where our foyer rural committee assembled last night for the annual do.

In term time the students cater for the public each lunchtime, and on Thursdays they offer an evening meal. Quite often there is a theme; last night it was dishes involving lobster. To be honest I didn’t enjoy it as much as the European Union meal we had a couple of years ago but it was an education. I can’t say I have ever eaten raw fish, pork trotters or veal thymus. Or used a knife and fork to eat soup. But the young waiters were attentive and answered any questions with aplomb.

A touch of theatre with the serving of the homard et ris de veau en duo terre et mer. Each person’s plate came to the table under a huge silver cloche. No peeping. The waiters stood behind the diners, and voilà! they took off the covers with a flourish to reveal the 4th course.

Ready to reveal….

the homard et ris de veaunote the lovely plates especially designed for the college

We learned a bit about wine too. We started off with a Sancerre (Savignon blanc) from the Loire Valley, then another white a Meursault (Chardonnay) from the Côte de Beaune. The red was a Pommard, also from the Côte de Beaune. The latter a premier cru but deemed to be a little too young…

I find it strange at these events that the men congregate at one end of the table, and the women at the other. Our group of five, having arrived first, did try and establish a man/woman arrangement in the centre, but later arrivals gravitated to their separate ends, except poor Guy who spent the evening in the midst of the women talking about knitting patterns.

Men at one end…

and ladies at the other

Anyway, that’s France for you!


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