Our Life in Burgundy

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May 16, 2017

Walking the Ban Sacré

Filed under: People,Places — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 17:29

Members of the local heritage society have recently been engaged in marking out the ban sacré, a circular route drawn around Cluny in 1095. At that time the third stage of the building of Cluny Abbey was well advanced and the rapidly increasing numbers of monks found themselves in need of protection from attack and robbery.  Hugues de Semur, the Abbot under Pope Urbain II, decreed that within the confines of the ban sacré nobody could carry arms. The penalty was excommunication from the church, a serious punishment in those days. The ban sacré followed existing paths, waymarked with stones carved with the sign of the crossed keys and the arms of the Abbey.

Last October a group of 20 under the guidance of Raymond, the leader of Cortambert, notre Patrimoine, spent two days walking the 46km trail. They started at Donzy and passed through Berzé-le-Châtel, Le Bois Clair and Sainte-Cécile, to spend the night at the Domaine Saint-Laurent at Château. Next day they continued to Croix Micaud, Lournand and finished in Varanges.

There was a little bit of the ban sacré left to do, from Varanges to Donzy, and yesterday we joined the group to complete it.  It was lovely weather and here’s a few photos of the afternoon.

Raymond (right) demonstrates how the divining rods can help find buried stone waymarkers

We paused at Notre Dame des Roches, erected just after the war by Cortambert, Donzy and Blanot to give thanks for being spared the bombing. Cluny was bombed in June 1944.

The view back to the Grosne valley was well worth the climb

There are lots of lovely walking trails around here, and thanks to Raymond and the members of Cortambert, notre Patrimoine, we can now follow the ban sacré around Cluny.


September 27, 2015

Eventful weekend part II – Walking the ban sacré

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 22:52

We learned a lot more about the heritage of the local area when we participated in a 12km walk around part of the ban sacré between Cortambert and Donzy le Pertuis.

In 1095, when the third stage of the building of the Abbey was well advanced, the rapidly increasing numbers of monks found themselves in need of protection from attack and robbery.  Hugues de Semur, the Abbot under Pope Urbain II, decreed that there should be a line drawn around Cluny within which nobody could carry arms. The penalty was excommunication from the church. The boundary followed existing paths and was about 40km in circumference, waymarked by stones carved with the sign of the crossed keys and the arms of the Abbey.

At Notre Dame des Roches


Good views although a bit hazy


It wasn’t just a walk this afternoon. Along the way we had questions to answer about the features we saw. Our score was rather low but we couldn’t compete with the local knowledge (Who built the lavoir? “Oh, that my was grandfather’s brother in law”……).

We looked at the land in a different way. In Roman times (before 550) there were thousands of soldiers camped in Cluny due to its good supply of fresh water. There used to be a dam in the fields above the Chemin du Clou to make a reservoir from which the water was piped to Cluny. The large stones from the dam can still be seen in hedgerows and walls. Water was also run down to the forest between Varanges and Cluny which was divided into plots of 9 square metres. Each soldier was given a plot where they could build a hut.

In sight of Cortambert

Anyway having exercised both the legs and the brain we came back to the foyer rural in Cortambert to have our papers marked and to chat over new wine and cakes.


Very welcome at the end of the afternoon

Many thanks to Cortambert, Donzy and the local Heritage Society for a most interesting afternoon.

August 2, 2015

Vide Grenier at Donzy

Filed under: Events,Places,Village Life — Tags: , — Mary @ 17:17

Donzy le Pertuis is a picture postcard village nestling on the other side of the hill from us in the direction of Azé. At 426m in altitude it is a little higher than Cortambert and in winter often surprises us with its fairy tale sparkle of snow on the rooftops.

There is a local patois which Donzy helps to keep alive. Some translations and a bit of local history can be found on  www.donzy-le-pertuis.fr

Today there was not a cloud in the sky and we went up to Donzy for its annual vide grenier. There was a eclectic variety of goods on stalls along the winding streets of pretty stone houses and outside the romanesque church of Saint-Julien.

Church of Saint-Julien


Many of the 150 or so residents were out with their stalls or picnicking en famille under the shade of the trees.  The smell of the barbeque at the buvette persuaded us to stay and have lunch.


Friendly stallholders with a variety of treasures….

I steered Chris away from the bicycles (we usually don’t leave without one) and instead came home with a lovely set of coffee cups. Thank you Donzy!





November 14, 2014

La Fleur au Fusil, Donzy

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: — Mary @ 17:29

It is fitting that on this week of commemoration of WW1 there is an exhibition in Donzy-le-Pertuis that gives an insight into the lives of the soldiers who left their families in Donzy and went off to fight in the trenches.


Magazines published during the war poke fun at the difficulties of the soldiers on leave who go back albeit briefly to their families. We have more knowledge now of the psychological difficulties of talking about their experiences and resuming normal life. There are letters sent back from the trenches, and stories of those who were lost.



Before the war the population figures of Donzy showed that most of the inhabitants were young, only 20% were over 60, quite different from now. There were fewer people in Donzy after the war and a third of the houses were either abandoned in outlying areas or knocked through to make bigger ones. Previously it had been usual for people to live one up one down.

Several people, after working in Lyon or Paris, have retired to Donzy and now live in the houses of their grandparents. Some of the photos and artefacts had been discovered in old attics. Other material came from the local brochanteur .



The exhibition is open until Sunday, afternoons only. It was interesting for us but must mean even more to local families whose ancestors went away to war a hundred years ago.

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