Our Life in Burgundy

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September 23, 2017

Notre Dame des Roches

View over the Grosne Valley from Notre Dame des Roches


The statue of Notre Dame des Roches can be seen high on the hill overlooking Varanges. She was erected after the war to give thanks that the local villages had not been bombed as had Cluny in June 1944.  She had been restored at least once since the 1950s but she was looking rather forlorn, especially as her nose had been used for target practice.

Fortunately Marianne and Peter from Switzerland have come to stay in Cortambert. They are sculptors and painters who specialise in restorations. They took over the old mill at Merzé and have spent several years renovating it. Marianne is a member of the society Cortambert, notre patrimoine, and she and Peter with the other members were keen to take on this local project.

First things first, the scaffolding was borrowed from Yves at the château of Boutavent.

Yves supervising the erection of the scaffolding

Just finished!

Not everything went to plan as there was not enough water power to use the pressure washer and the statue had to be scrubbed by hand. The left hand had been badly repaired before and looked like it should belong to a boxer, but Peter did what he could to make it more elegant. The nose was rebuilt and now the madonna looks quite beautiful.


and after

David, chief co-ordinator, with Peter and Marianne giving a toast to a job well done

and some of the other volunteers

There was a little celebration this afternoon on completion of the work. The scaffolding will be taken down next week, and sometime soon there will be an official gathering of dedication for the newly restored Notre Dame des Roches.


June 5, 2017

Randonnée des Roses 2017

Filed under: Events,Places,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 17:20



We’d been worrying about the weather after last week’s storms and heavy showers but yesterday was cool with plenty of sunshine in the afternoon, soft underfoot but not muddy. The perfect day for the Cortambert randonnée.

The organisation was like a well oiled machine. Pascale has an excellent team and the many compliments of the walkers were well deserved. Chris was in charge of devising the four circuits of 8km, 13km, 17km and 24km. For everyone there was a drinks station en route and further refreshments once back at the foyer. For the longer walks there was a ravitaillement at Culey (8km) and another at Donzy (16km).

Here are a few photos of the day -

Marie Antoinette and Jean-Louis on registration

Raymond & Annie and the family picnicking at the point d’eau

At Donzy the 24km walkers enjoy a welcome rest with Georges, Claire and Dominique

Back at the foyer rural Anne Marie was recording the finish times

Patrick was pouring out the coffee and wine

Pascale was in charge of refreshments

Simone was making gaufres by the dozen

As the walkers were finishing it was time to go out to collect the direction markers

A chance to enjoy the lovely viewslooking back to Mont Saint Romain

And finally a debriefing…Burgundy style

Everybody enjoyed the randonnée, both walkers and organisers. At a total of 245 we were well pleased with the number of walkers, particularly as it is yet another long holiday weekend when people are away.

Chris has now started to prepare for the next event, the soapbox cart rally in July. Watch this space!

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.


March 5, 2017

The Trail du Mont Saint Romain – two weeks to go

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 16:33


It’s two weeks before the long awaited Trail de Mont Saint Romain takes place, and this morning our Cortambert runners and their friends tried out the 11km and the 17km courses.

Photos Chris Wicks. More photos on the facebook page of Trail du Mont Saint Romain


Patrick, Guy and Jean-Louis lead off from the Foyer Rural in Cortambert



They pass through Varanges before heading uphill towards Les Quatre Vents


The group parts company. After Quatre Vents the 11km course follows the Faîtral while the 17 km course loops to include Blanot and Vivier

Mont Saint Romain in the background


The steepest part of the 17km run is the hill up from Vivier. You can feel the pain!

and the steep descents on stony paths need plenty of courage

The runners were lucky to complete the course before the miserable weather set in. Hopefully the weather will be dry on 19th March.  Details of the trail are on www.trail-mont-saint-romain.fr. You can subscribe online or on the morning of the run. There’ll be prizes, good company and a hearty meal afterwards..


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