Our Life in Burgundy

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May 22, 2018

Holiday Weekend

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 20:13


Montgolfières in Chalon on Saturday morning (photo JSL) They drifted over Cormatin

With Monday being the 4th public holiday in May it’s been another long holiday weekend. The weather was perfect and everyone was out and about enjoying the many events on offer.

The Saturday morning market in Cluny was very busy, and we stopped to have a coffee and watch the world go by.

At the Nation on the main street in Cluny

Having time to kill we wandered through an alleyway we had never seen open before, and found Eric Clavel exhibiting his sculptures. Mainly horses’ heads cleverly made of carved wood and bits of machinery, and this life size snorting bull which amused people as it had a clock set in his bottom.

Solange and Frédéric from the School of Dance staged a festival this weekend. Solange led the exercises at the ‘barre‘, a crash barrier along the middle of the street. Anybody could join in.

Exercises at the barre

We were waiting to see the flashmob which was to take place in the marketplace at noon. It was not exactly a flashmob as we know it as it had been advertised for weeks. The routine was on youtube so that anybody who felt like it could learn the dance and join in. It was not unlike some of the routines we do in keep fit.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53cG1LaSJZw  We did consider doing it.

The first showing of the flashmob in the market with Solange and Frédéric

Then to the Nartex where there was a bit more room

And then home to watch The Wedding!

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Meghan, thou shalt be my Summer’s Queen.

(after Thomas Dekker, 1599)

On Sunday there was the AutoMotoRetro at Boutavent, the chateau at Cortambert. It was organised by Pierre-Jean, the mayor, and was a huge success seeing it was the first year it had been held. There was an astonishing number of vintage cars and lots of visitors. The setting  in the grounds of the chateau was perfect with a wonderful view.

The backdrop of the Grosne valley

Catherine, the châtelaine of Butavent

Plenty of visitors arrived in their own classic cars and bikes

It was a fun weekend. With all the holidays it is no wonder that not much work gets done in May!

May 10, 2018

Garden Makeover…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Mary @ 20:43

…or how to change a patch of weeds into a Mediterranean garden in a couple of days.

I’d been unable to do anything with the patch of derelict garden near the shed for several years as Chris had always said that he was going to make himself a herb garden. Early on he had installed a water feature where water trickled out of a Greek urn. But then the project was forgotten. The garden was colonised by wild thyme, and it was a dumping ground for used compost, pots of mint and rescued lavenders. The cats shared a favourite patch where they all rolled in the dust.

Some miracle happened this week, perhaps prompted by the advent of summer. In the space of a couple of days Chris had made a gravel path that led to the deck, made a border at the back with some old wooden beams, planted some nice rocks with fossils in them, rearranged the herbs, and voilà, a Mediterranean garden.


Chris enjoying a well earned beer

While taking photos I came across this striking butterfly on the chives.

A Scarce Swallowtail butterfly. The head is on the left.

Apparently these Scarce Swallowtail butterflies are not at all scarce in Europe, although you are more likely to find them in the south of France than here. But a few occasionally go off course and foolishly drift over to Britain so that’s why the  English call them ‘Scarce’. The French call them Flambé.

So thanks to Chris we now have a corner of the garden that is both beautiful and useful. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for the predicted rain to come as I planted beans and peas in anticipation of them being watered. The forecast was for storms this week but as usual they seem to have bypassed us.


May 8, 2018

Raise a glass we’re French at last!

Filed under: Events,People — Tags: — Mary @ 16:46


Marianne, a symbol of France


Through diligent perusal of the Government website Chris saw last week that we were on the list of new French citizens. Hopefully we will have confirmation by letter with an invitation to a ceremony in Mâcon. This will involve speeches, shaking hands with dignitaries and singing the Marseillaise. I must start tout de suite to master the first verse and the chorus.

I can’t deny that it was a long and often disheartening journey. We started three years ago by getting together a multitude of documents relating to our origins, tax history, police record or lack thereof, and proof of residency. We sent off for birth, divorce and marriage certificates for us and our parents. All documents in English had to be translated by a Court approved translator and were valid for only three months. I am yet to learn how your birth certificate can change in three months.

Tax documents had to be up to date so as the process went into two and then three years we had to send in fresh bordereaux de situation fiscal, making sure they were signed and stamped. Our completed dossiers de naturalisation were sent in by June 2015 but weren’t complete enough and they landed back in our letter box after the summer holiday. Chris, being at that time under 60, had to go and have a French language test. Zut alors! The other candidates were native French speakers from North Africa, and even they complained it was tough.

In early summer 2016 we came home after a day out and found the gendarmes had been round to talk to the neighbours. (Thank you Georges and Gérard). Next day we were summoned to the local gendarmerie to be interviewed by the commissaire who was quite genial and sympa, quite unlike the ladies of the Apparatchik in Dijon who interviewed us in August 2016.

We had to study for this final interview using a little booklet, Le Livret du Citoyen. Bits of it were easy, rivers and departments, history, origins of the EU,  la laïcité (the national ideal of secularism). But other parts were more difficult. I am still not au fait with the Les Droits de l’Homme and how they differ from Les Droits des Citoyens. Interspersed were minute examinations of last year’s tax forms and proofs of income. The British passport was deemed unacceptable because it wasn’t stamped. This validated my suspicion that the  interview was usually directed towards the North African candidate. My brain finally gave up when I was asked to name ten members of the French government and as for famous French people, I could only think of Johnny Hallyday which clearly wasn’t a good answer. But the trauma of it all has faded with time!


Celebrating with our mayor Pierre-Jean 

Today France has a public holiday to celebrate VE Day. After the service by the memorial we went into the Mairie for a glass of wine and pizza. Celebrations all round as Jean-Pierre the mayor announced to members of the commune that we had gained our French citizenship. As an added bonus we were feted by singing the Burgundy song, which then made us true Burgundians.

We must thank our friends and neighbours for all their help and support in negotiating French bureaucracy. And Pierre-Jean who wrote a lovely letter supporting our application.

I would recommend going for citizenship to any British person who wants to stay in France. Who knows what may happen after Brexit?  It’s good to have a secure future as a European citizen.


May 5, 2018

A most spectacular sport

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Mary @ 22:52


The Horse-Ball Pro Elite competition is being held in Cluny this weekend. It draws quite a crowd as horseball is fast and furious. In horseball there are teams of 6, 4 players and 2 substitutes. The ball is thrown in and the team that catches it races towards the goal. They must pass the ball at least three times before trying to score, and a player cannot keep possession for more than 10 seconds. The other team try to block them by pushing with their horses, or wresting the ball from the other player’s grasp, which may result in the attacking team galloping back up the field in order to regroup and attack again. If the ball is dropped either team can retrieve it but they must be going in the same direction as the ball was dropped. Despite the rules about safety it’s a very violent game.  Thanks to Chris here are some photos of this afternoon’s action.


Chasing the player with the ball

He’s blocked

And they all turn to race up the field

The ball is dropped and the other team take possession

And it’s a goal!

Goals come thick and fast

Horseball is a great sport demonstrating the strength and agility of both horse and rider. All the teams play each other and the finalists will battle it out tomorrow afternoon.

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