Our Life in Burgundy

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November 5, 2017

Weekend of St Martin’s Fair

It’s been a weekend très chargé. Saturday was the day of the Foire de Saint-Martin. It’s a huge event with stalls filling the centre of Cluny in addition to the normal Saturday morning market.  The livestock events took place on the Champ de Foire. As well as the judging, this year there was a show of equine ability with the horses from the Haras. The St Martin’s Fair is a tradition that is fading away in parts of France but in Cluny it seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

The horse fair

The horses brushed and plaited

Cattle too….

and different breeds of sheep

Later in Cortambert there was a really good concert hosted by the Québec-Bourgogne Society. A group from Quebec, FolkloFolie, had been booked originally but the weather in Quebec has caused major flooding and the group were unable to leave Quebec on Tuesday as planned. So a more local duo, Emilio Armillès and Salvatore Gréco, appeared instead. Their show ‘Chansons de Toujours’ was a mixture of our favourite old French songs, some Quebec songs and some wonderful instrumentals on the guitar. All peppered with a touch of Naples and Spain, denoting the origins of Emilio and Salvatore.

Emilio Armillès (left) and Salvatore Gréco

This weekend there has also been a huge vide grenier in Cluny, filling the Griottons, the Boulodrome and the parking for the campsite. Bargains everywhere…

Lots of useful stuff outside…

and treasures in the Boulodrome

The weather is changing this weekend. It’s much chillier than the recent warm sunny days we have been used to. We’re enjoying a hectic few weeks before the quiet days of winter.

May 7, 2017

Chansons Québécoise

The highlight of a rather dreary weekend of rain was the concert last night given by Richard Trépanier, a singer-songwriter from Quebec. It was organised by the Amis du Collectif, the group of neighbouring foyer ruraux, and the Bourgogne Québec Association with Georges Pierre its president.

Richard Trépanier’s own songs included ’Le Cri de la Terre’ which became the anthem for the Fondation Québécoise en Environement. But he also has a vast repertoire of songs, including French, British and American favourites. What impressed me most was Richard’s engaging personality. Before the concert he chatted with people as they assembled in the hall and, remembering the faces and names and snippets of information, he conversed with the audience between songs and created a wonderful rapport. Everybody joined in the French songs of the 60s, even I knew  Joe Dassin’s Les Champs-Elysées. Chris commented that all these years listening to Nostalgia on the radio had not been in vain. Luckily half of the Cant’Azé choir were there to drown us out.


Pascale and Georges join in with Richard

Afterwards, in true Burgundy style, we sat down to a meal together. Our end of the table enjoyed a bit of nostalgia of their own, discovering family friends and grandparents in common and describing life in Varanges when they were young. We’ve been intrigued lately by how many of the people here are related. Not surprising really as even though people may go away to Paris or Lyon to work they are likely to inherit the family house and retire here. Being a close knit community parcels of land and houses belong to branches of the same family so most of our neighbours are related in some way. It must have been a busy place at one time as the farm at Varanges employed about a hundred workers who all lived locally. There was even a cafe. Everybody agrees that now, without the pigfarm, the air these days is a great deal sweeter.


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