Our Life in Burgundy

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May 3, 2018

Faux amis et la belle langue

Filed under: People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 12:38

Yesterday we were amused by President Macron and his faux pas during his visit to Australia when he described the Prime Minister’s wife as ‘delicious’. Of course he was thinking about the French word  délicieux which can mean tasty but also agreeable or very nice.  There are lots of words similar in French and English but sometimes they don’t quite have the same meaning. It makes me smile to talk about fraises sauvages as strawberries don’t seem too dangerous. And it always feels impolite to demand.

Without faux amis it would be a lot easier to speak French. After all we pinched a lot of words from the French and it seems reasonable to suppose that if you don’t know a word but say it in English with a French accent it might be understood. But you might get some puzzled looks. Chef  in France is not just the chap in the kitchen but the boss of any business. Débutants are simply beginners, not young ladies in ballgowns.

But it is astonishing to find how much English is used in everyday life in France. You go to the hairdresser’s for a shampooing (pr. sham-pwan) and brushing for a relooking (makeover). As a hobby (distraction)  you could do scrapbooking. With the TV we can do bingewatching and zapping (channel hopping) and watch les peoples (celebrities).  J’ai checké mes emails et j’ai liké sur facebook. I can go out footing in my baskets and short.

Sarkozy tried to stop English words entering the French language but without success. Macron likes his English phrases as in “Make our planet great again”  but one of his projects is to raise the French language from its ranking of 6th in the world. Only a small proportion live in the Hexagon as 80% of French speakers live in La Francophonie, a club of 57 outposts, the majority being ex-colonies in Africa.  By 2050, due to the rapidly increasing population,  85% of the world’s French speakers will live in Africa.

Last November he visited Burkina Faso to promote his ideas about encouraging French speakers and doubling the intake in French schools abroad.

 President Macron visits schools in Burkina Faso (photo Paris Match)

There he met with protests from African writers who are not treated as mainstream authors and whose literature is not studied in French schools. The African countries see this encouragement to use French as a cover for the continuing meddling by the French government into their affairs.

Macron also wants French to have a greater presence online and to become the dominant language in EU institutions. At the moment English is the daily working language of Brussels. In 2004 several Eastern European countries joined the EU and communication was only possible in English. Likewise Globish, a kind of simplified English, tends to be used in Taizé.

Macron also plans to refurbish (at a cost of €200m) a château in Villers-Cotterêts, north-east of Paris, and make it a global centre for the promotion and study of the French language.

It is a long-held French fantasy that French can overtake English as the world’s preferred language. It’s reliving a dream from the past, like the British Commonwealth, a nice idea but unattainable.  Just take note of what language is used for the Eurovision Song Contest!


April 28, 2018

Cat World

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 20:19


It seems that Cluny is a good place for cat lovers as well as equestrians. At the Griottons today was a show organised by the Cat Fanciers’ Association, originally an American institution which has recently arrived in Europe. The hundred or so cats in the competitions were groomed to perfection and very much admired by the various judges. But many of them have those ugly flat faces which seem popular nowadays, or so much fur that I doubt they could live a normal life. Many of the owners had travelled from Germany and Switzerland, and the judges were from all over Europe. The judge in the photos below was an American who lives in Finland.


Examining a Cornish Rex

The proud owner of a prize winning Persian

Funnily enough we found that some cats looked just like their owners, as above. I find it a bit unnerving the way the cats did not object to being hauled out of cages and passed around by strangers. Learned helplessness?

On leaving we were given free samples of cat biscuits which were wolfed down by our cats tonight so I assume they’d like us to go back to the Griottons tomorrow and get in a supply.

Seeing those unfortunate show cats makes us appreciate our four. A trip down the road to the vet is traumatic enough never mind travelling to another country. They are spooked by anybody who isn’t us, are quite often rather dishevelled and have an ongoing battle with fleas. But at least they seem to enjoy life.


Little Smudgie

The boys, Kitten and Benedict

I wonder whether if they had more impressive names like the cats in the show they would be a bit more glamorous.  Instead of Mother perhaps Ivy Cat Nitro of Snomyst.  Benedict could be Suavere’s Dark Secret of Penobscot. (Actual names of a couple of the show cats). Or perhaps not.

April 21, 2018

The protests continue

Filed under: Events,Places,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 16:42


The market in Cluny was very busy this morning and the fine weather seems to have brought out the protesters as well as the shoppers.

Our favourite stall in the market for plants

It was quite noisy as La Fanfarrosoir were parading round the market as part of a protest about Centre Parks. Two have been proposed in the forests of Rousset and Pologny, one not too far from Cluny and the other in the Jura. Environmentalists made a big fuss in a big public debate in 2015 and then it all went quiet.

Leaflets and dancing in front of the Hotel de Bougogne

La Fanfarrosoir

And off they go to another venue

At the other end of town we met our friends from Benin who sang for us last weekend. This time they had their instruments with them and made a great deal more noise.

Olaitan from Benin

Rather overlooked in this cacophony were the Silent Protesters who are in Cluny most Saturdays in the summer. I don’t know what they are protesting about as they never say.

The Silent Protest

Of course the protests in France that affect most people are the train strikes. The trains were running today but the strikes are affecting two days in every five and continuing on Monday and Tuesday.  Also various unions are protesting, Air France pilots, rubbish collectors, energy sector workers, students…

Good new though, it’s another big weekend for the Equivallée. It is the 40th anniversary of the Grand National. The best international show jumpers will be in Cluny, the grand final being tomorrow afternoon.

Show jumping this weekend in Cluny

Lovely weather, beautiful horses…nothing to protest about there.


April 15, 2018

Music in Blanot

Filed under: Events,People — Tags: , — Mary @ 22:46

We spent a very enjoyable afternoon at a private concert in Blanot. Two old friends from their days at the Conservatoire at Dijon have recently formed a duo, David Aubret on accordion and Bertrand Di Leone on saxophone. Readers of the blog will know that David used to be the choirmaster for Cant’Azé. They call themselves Parole d’anches. David showed us where the anches were on the accordion, and how the sound is produced, and Bertrand explained about the reed on his sax. There was plenty of discussion about the music they played, some from classic films.


Parole d’Anches (www.facebook.com/paroledanches)

As is usual here everybody took along a dish to share and we had apéros. We enjoyed the company of a group of Africans from Benin who we were renting the house next door. In the pause between the savouries and the sweets they treated us to an impromptu concert.

Olaitan (www.znproduction.fr/fr/artistes/olaitan)

Apparently they arrived earlier in the year during the freezing cold weather in just their cotton shirts so they were enjoying the heat of the sun this afternoon. They are performing in various local venues and we will look forward to seeing them again in May.

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