Our Life in Burgundy

Version française

The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

September 25, 2017

The 20th anniversary of the Voie Verte

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 17:28

In 1997 the department of Saône-et-Loire constructed the first 44km of the Voie Verte  by concreting the disused railway line between Cluny and Givry. Today there is a continuous cycleway extending 300km, in the north joining the Voie Bleue along the Canal du Centre. Extra circuits called boucles are waymarked cycle rides which direct you round the villages and local points of interest and take you back to the voie verte again. Specially created paths link the various sections together and now there are plans to link all the 600km of paths in Burgundy and extend them to join the cycle paths of the Loire and the Voie Bressane, as well as the Voie Bleue running along the banks of the Saône.

So there were lots of events happening at the old stations along the voie verte over the weekend. St Gengoux kicked off with picnics, guided cycle rides and an stunt bike show, ending with a giant selfie taken by drone, and aperos with the cave des Vignerons de Buxy-St Gengoux.

We cycled down to Massilly on Sunday afternoon to hear the speeches given by the mayor, and other local dignitaries.

The mayor of Massilly, Alain De Javel, flanked by Jean-Luc Delpeuch (Communité des Communes Clunisois) and Jean-Luc Fonteray (Conseillor Général of the canton of Cluny)

There was an interesting exhibition photos from the time the railway was built. We were given straw hats by Jean-Marc which proved really useful as, despite it being the end of September, the sun was very hot.

The station at Massilly

We pedalled on to the Plan d’Eau at Cormatin where there was a very much more noisy celebration with the group Drugstöre Rock giving its all. Rather too loud however for the ladies making lace nearby.

Drugstöre Rock

Later Sabrina Sow from Equinoctis appeared with three horses and a foal. The foal was a great hit with its antics. It could not seem to step over the ringside to join its mum and gambolled at the side. Mum was completely unconcerned.

Sabrina Sow with her mare and foal

and on one of her Percherons

Grazing peacefully afterwards on the Plan d’Eau

A good time was had by all. Here’s to the next 20 years of cycling on the Voie Verte!


May 12, 2017


Filed under: People,Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 20:52


When we moved to Cormatin in 2008 we had never even heard of Taizé and Cluny, and especially not Massilly. Then we regularly passed through Massilly, en route from the gite in Cormatin to our house in Cortambert, but didn’t pay much attention to the factory with its neat façade on one side and pretty landscaped parking areas on the other.

The factory at Massilly

We know now that Massilly is synonymous with making tins. All sorts of tins from food tins and aerosols to decorated biscuit tins and tin trays. And caps for glass jars and bottles by the million.

The story began in 1911 when Robert Bindschedler, originally from Switzerland, bought a disused mill that had belonged to the Abbey at Cluny. In the river Grosne he installed a battery of turbines to produce electricity for recuperating tin by electrolysis from scrap metal. In the 1920s his small factory at  Massilly began manufacturing household items such as basins and buckets. By 1952 the Robert Bindschedler Company had become well known for printing on tinplate and making screw tops to meet the demand of the growing bottling industry.

Massilly in the early 1960s

In 1959 Robert’s son Pierre took over the business and began the production of decorated biscuit tins and trays, for which Massilly is probably best known to the public. You’ll find these in most households, always stamped at the bottom with the Massilly logo which Pierre devised, an angel with an anchor, the latter homage to the Bindschedler family who were formerly fishermen on Lake Zurich.

In 1976 the factory at Massilly adopted new techniques for the manufacture of tins, electrical welding and stamping and re-stamping. In the 1980s Massilly set up factories in the UK, Spain, Switzerland and Italy. More recently, plants were set up in Canada, Ghana and South Africa. Massilly also took over other canning firms, for example Franpac who canned fish. An offshoot, Massiservices, was set up to develop new techniques, test the conformity and safety of canned goods, and be involved in the training of technicians and the installation of machinery in canning factories.

The Massilly group now has a turnover of more than 300 million euros and employs over 1,200 people in 25 companies in 9 countries. Every year 60,000 tons of tin and 2,000 tons of aluminium are used to make 2.5 billion caps and 500 million tins and aerosols. In Massilly itself the factory has extended to more than 50,000 square metres, crossing the boundary of the neighbouring commune of Bray.  Three hundred employees cover three shifts throughout the year.


Our tins from Massilly

We would love to look around the factory, and in fact once joined a group of visitors going in but found it was employees’ families only and didn’t get past the front desk. But we’ll keep our ears open for news of a porte ouverte.


May 3, 2015

La Marche du Muguet; a disappointing day for Massilly

Filed under: Events,Places,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 19:36


Today was the Marche du Muguet at Massilly, normally a very popular event for both walkers and cross country cyclists (VTT). So called because it’s the time of year when people go down to the woods to pick lily of the valley. Unfortunately we have had a lot of rain.



We had planned to go at 9am but it was tipping it down with rain all morning. However at lunchtime it faired up in plenty of time for us to go and register for the 8km walk.

The tracks were very well waymarked through woods and farmland. We are always surprised how different the countryside is at Massilly, only the other side of the valley from Cortambert. Whereas Cortambert has steep vineyards interspersed with fields of cattle and horses, Massilly has rolling hills with large areas of wheat and oilseed rape. The afternoon was muggy and in the sun the perfume from a field of broad bean flowers was just amazing.

We saw some of the cyclists coming in, up to their eyebrows in mud. They hosed themselves off before coming for their refreshments. We enjoyed a plate piled with cold meats, cheese, cake and chocolate. And a generous glass of wine. Thank you Massilly, we enjoyed the walk and your hospitality.

The rain this morning was catastrophic for Massilly. Last year there were more than 800 walkers and 200 cyclists. Today there were only 142 walkers and 38 cyclists. We know from our own randonnées at Cortambert how much time and effort goes into holding such an event. I do hope that next year the weather is good and the organisers of the Massilly randonnée can recoup their losses.

May 4, 2014

Rando at Massilly

Filed under: Events,Places,Village Life — Tags: , , — Mary @ 13:32


It’s good to check out the randonnées organised by neighbouring villages as it is only four weeks until we will be hosting our own event in Cortambert,  the Randonnée des Roses on 1st June.

Massilly is best known for its tin factory which is not in the village itself but on the other side of the Cormatin-Cluny road. Massilly is very picturesque with its distinctive church spire on the hill and its winding streets. The houses are very pretty and typical of this area with steps each side leading up to the front door.


A good choice of walking routes

The walk was very well signposted and led us through some lovely countryside. Being so near home we met several friends and neighbours along the way.


Having registered only for a short walk we did not get refreshments en route but once back at the hall we were given a plate of bread, cheese, a good slice of ham, gâteau au miel and chocolate. I hope the refreshments held out as by mid morning there were 700* out on the piste  and still more people coming in to register. I found when I asked for more that the orange juice was already rationed. Note that at our Cortambert randonnée everybody can eat and drink as much as they want!


Back to the hall for refreshments

The verdict: wonderful organisation and reception at the hall. Good circuits clearly shown on a beautifully printed map. Lovely countryside with a good choice of distances with the walkers’ routes separate from the VTT circuits. Bravo Massilly.

* The final number of participants came to a record 1002.


Powered by WordPress