Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

November 15, 2015

The Indian Summer continues

Filed under: Events,People,Places,Weather — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 21:46

We are making the most of the lovely November sunshine by getting out and about. Chris, guiding our Sunday morning walk, took us across to Lamartine country.

Our walking group in Milly-Lamartine

We started at the Domain Chardon and went up through Milly-Lamartine, posing for a photo outside Lamartine’s childhood home. Every day the young Lamartine would go over the hill of Monsard to reach Bussières where he had lessons with the village priest, Abbé Dumont. We followed in his footsteps up the steep rocky path hemmed in by box and sloe.


A narrow path round Monsard

It was hard going and rather slippery but we reached the Grotte de Jocelyn, a cave that was the inspiration for Lamartine’s epic poem of 1836.  The poem tells of Jocelyn, a novice priest, fleeing from religious persecution and taking refuge in the cave, and his subsequent tragic love affair with Laurence.


View over the vineyards of Pierreclos


The 360° views at the top were well worth the climb, and the descent easy.


At the table d’orientation


This afternoon we went to the Equivallée to see the first of three fortnightly show jumping events for pony clubs and amateurs. It was very relaxed, a good opportunity for novice horses and riders to gain valuable experience. Lots of clear rounds but also plenty of fences down and refusals.


A clear round!

Lets hope that winter is kept at bay for as long as possible and we will enjoy more of this lovely autumn sunshine.


September 20, 2015

Heritage weekend

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , , , — Mary @ 21:31


It’s difficult to chose what to do on the weekend du patrimoine. There are so many guided tours, free entries and access to places that are not normally open to the public.


Ready to start our guided walk

Chris’s first Sunday walk of the season was planned for today and we chose to join a guided walk around Ameugny. Josette took us around the village, pointing out some very old houses. Ameugny is Gallo-Roman and was established before the Francs arrived in 532. The Francs called their settlements names beginning with Cor or Con, meaning ‘of’. Cortevaix, Cortamblein, Confrançon etc. So Cormatin means the village of Martin.


Ameugny has some lovely old houses

The tower of the church, Notre Dame l’Assomption, was built in 1050, 30 years before Cluny Abbey, and the nave was finished in the 12th century.

Inside are some 16th century frescos and a chapel dedicated to the du Blé family who were the lords of Cormatin chateau. There is a plaque in latin describing the death of Lady du Blé of the plague. Her brother had been summoned to see her on her deathbed and a few days later he joined her in the family grave in Ameugny.

16th century frescos

We ended up at the pottery exhibition at Les Communs at Bois Dernier. Céramique en terres de Bourgogne, les richesses du caillou. It was organised by Frère Daniel of Taizé and 20 local potters. All the clay and glazes used were mined locally, different colours from different areas.


Frère Daniel’s work

We met with the President of the St Gengoux tourist office (which also runs the Cormatin office in the summer) and to round off the morning he offered us wine and brioche. A good Burgundian custom.


Chris and Sophie enjoy their wine

The sun came out this afternoon and we headed off for an afternoon of horses. The Haras was presenting demonstrations all afternoon. Laetitia Etta could do absolutely anything with her horses, on horseback or on foot, and she didn’t need the reins for a classy display of dressage.


Laetitia and her horse

At the Equivallée was the last day of the Championship of France showjumping event. So we leaned on the rails and watched some very fine horses and riders competing for the Grand Prix.


The French take their jours du patrimoine very seriously and everyone seems to participate in the events and open days. When we first moved here we didn’t know about the heritage weekend and we wondered why we were the only ones left in the village. Today in Cluny there were more people than I’ve seen all summer.



May 17, 2015

Update on the Equivallée

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 18:54

A week after the fire the Equivallée continues with its schedule of events. This weekend saw the Frédéric Merigoux de Van Dyck competition which had an entry of 650 amateurs with horses aged 4-6 years. The organiser, Frédéric Merigoux, breeds and trains horses in the Rhône Alps, and the competitors were from Switzerland, the Rhône Alps and Burgundy.


The Equivallée jumps had been completely destroyed in the fire last Sunday so the ones we saw today were on loan.

 The burned out remains of the obstacle store

The combination of amateurs and young horses produced many thrill and spills. The jumps were big and some of the horses did not like the look of them and would refuse. One competitor retired after the first obstacle.



However many competitors did very well. I am always amazed how a young girl can control a horse weighing ten times as much. It is just as well that horses are not of murderous intent (although Chris in his riding days used to think that they were and still has the scars to prove it!).

May 10, 2015

The Equivallée: Ponies and Pompiers

Filed under: Events,Places,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 19:53


It was a weekend of pony games in Cluny. Many of the teams were from Belgium and Italy.  We sat amongst some of the Italian families who were very vocal in their support of the youngsters. We learned a lot of new words! The commentary over the tannoy was in Italian too.


Riders and ponies were of all age and size. There were four riders in each team who played relay games, putting cups on sticks, spearing balloons, fishing balls out of buckets. They are all voltigeurs-cascadeurs, stunt riders who can vault off and jump on board a galloping pony. Their passing of a stick or a ball to the next rider while passing at full speed was faultless.


The ponies were lively and keen, which made it difficult to turn and go back if something was knocked over or dropped.



Unfortunately, when we returned for the finals this afternoon, play had been suspended. We saw a pall of smoke and found  the  building that houses the indoor carrière well alight and the roof partially collapsed.

To the right are the burning remains of the hay where the fire started


Apparently a couple of children had found a cigarette lighter on the ground and they were trying to light some twigs. Unfortunately a spark set the hay alight and the fire quickly spread along the back of the building reducing to ashes the stored jumps used for the Grand National. The fire devastated the roof which continued to burn until some firemen bravely went up to throw off the tiles so the water from the hoses could reach the joists.


Firemen were called from Tournus, Chalon and Macon to help fight the blaze, with about twenty fire vehicles.


What a loss for the Equivallée. They had spent several years renovating this ancient stone building which is used for shows and demonstrations. No doubt there will have to be a rethink about the safety of storing hay under the eaves in future.

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