Our Life in Burgundy

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March 5, 2017

The Bourse aux Greffons 2017

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 12:42

It is one of those weekends which are très chargés with various events.  Yesterday we went to help with the Bourse aux Greffons, an event organised by La Forêt Fruitière to help promote the propagation of the old varieties of fruit trees.

Chris was immediately hands on with the grafting. Customers can ask for advice as to what varieties would suit a particular use or location. They then progress to the grafting table where the rootstock can be chosen to produce the size of tree required.

The grafting table

and the book stall with Chantal and Monique

I was enlisted to help with the books but business was so slow that there was plenty of time to look round, and to sing and dance to the old French songs played on the orgue de barbarie.


Waltzing with Annie to the organ music

Meanwhile there many other stands. The lacemakers of Cluny were out in force, there were stalls of bulbs, gardening equipment, chocolate, cheese, wine….. There was a girl good at scrapbooking and making personalised birthday cards.

The lacemakers hard at work

Towards the end of the day Chris grafted a tree for ourselves. A variety called La Nationale. It’s ideal for a high windy spot in the garden. It flowers late which reduces the risk of damage by frost. I had asked the experts what varieties were the best for cooking but they looked perplexed and said all varieties are good. So no place for the Bramley here.

Chris and Jean working together

After this weekend thoughts turn to the next event with La Forêt Fruitière, the Fête de la Pomme planned for 7th and 8th October 2017. Details will be found on the website www.laforetfruitiere-cluny.com when its relooking is completed.

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.

January 28, 2017

Year of the Rooster

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 17:45


Cluny seems an unlikely place to be celebrating the Chinese New Year but there is a thriving Chinese Society, La Chine à Cluny, and tai chi is very popular with the members of La Spirale d’Or.

Today both associations met together at the Ecuries de Saint Hugues to celebrate the Year of the Rooster. We were especially impressed by the simple Chinese style brush and ink drawings of Marie-Laure Lanfranchi. More roosters were exhibited by Chantal Dunoyer, and colourful photos of Chinese people by Pierre Plattier set the scene.

The highlight of the morning was a demonstration by La Spirale d’Or of the different tai chi styles. I particularly like the form with the fans. A group performed with swords, then everybody gave a wide berth to the teacher who demonstrated with a long spear.

Tai Chi

and with fans

Meanwhile in the background a batch of dumpling soup was being ladled out as part of the day long Chinese buffet on offer.

Are there many Chinese in Cluny? I don’t think I have seen any. But it is always interesting to take part in other traditions.  I was born in the year of the Rat (Earth). Intelligent, quick-witted, charming, artistic, and sociable?  According to Chinese astrology, the year of your sign is believed to be one of the most unlucky years of your life. However the last year of the Rat was 2008, the year we moved to France, which I do not consider to be unlucky at all.


December 11, 2016

La Fête des Lumières

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , , , — Mary @ 10:11


The Fête des Lumières in Lyon attracts millions of visitors. It grew into a major cultural event from small beginnings, lighting candles in the windows to thank the Virgin Mary for saving the populace from the great plague of 1643. In 1852 her statue was installed high above Vieux Lyon next to the Basilica of Fourvière, and each year, beginning on 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, she is feted with processions and dramatic entertainment based on lights.

Cluny has begun to stage its own Fête des Lumières on 8th December. There was an astonishing turnout on Thursday night considering it was perhaps the coldest night in a week of below zero temperatures and freezing fog. It started with a procession through town with a band followed by an inflatable giant, a firewalker on stilts and a girl climbing ropes on a frame which had to be lowered to get along the street under the illuminations.

The band led the procession along the main street..

to finish in the market place in front of the abbey

Then began a tightrope show by Underclouds with their Funambus.  This was a weird act and a little scary as this huge old bus was pulled onto the marketplace by a woman with a rope round her neck, and then was driven quite fast in a circle surrounded by a huge crowd, trying to run over a man on foot who was attacking the bus. There was a ghastly moment when the bus chased him towards the crowd and stopped within feet of them. What if the bus had skidded on the icy cobbles??

The bus on fire

and tightrope walking

There were some good effects when the bus was set on fire and the couple did their tightrope walking across the top, but there was far too much prancing around while everyone was getting colder and colder. Even going round the indoor Christmas market, shuffling together like a group of penguins keeping warm in a snow storm, did nothing to alleviate the frozen feet.  A cup of cocoa and a warm fire beckoned and we left Cluny before the illumination of the abbey and the equestrian show with Sabrina from Equinoctis in Cormatin. She also puts on rather weird shows but to her credit she uses horses that she has rescued.

I think the photographer from the Journal also left when we did as the next day he had posted nothing of the later events.  But it was a brave effort in freezing cold weather although, as is usual for entertainment here, a little bizarre.



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