Our Life in Burgundy

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January 24, 2016

Through the vineyards, Cortambert to Bray

Filed under: Village Life — Tags: , — Mary @ 12:55

Starting from Cortambert we had an easy circular walk through the vineyards to Bray and back.

Our group this morning

Although the mist came up we were lucky to stay most of the time in the sunshine

We stopped to look at this menhir in the vineyards

and returned to Cortambert in the mist

Thanks to everyone who took part this morning. It’s nice to go walking as a group.

When the warmer weather arrives we are thinking of arranging some rides out on bikes in addition to the monthly walks. We’ll keep you posted.

December 21, 2014

Sunday morning sunshine

Filed under: Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 21:23


We were pleased to see the sun come out  for the last of Chris’s organised walks for this year. We set off in Donzy and walked up to the ridge to enjoy the spectacular views.

To the west we could see the Grosne valley all the way from Cluny to Cormatin. To the east were the Jura mountains and Mont Blanc. We stopped now and then to collect holly and mistletoe for Sophie’s wreath.


Finally we walked through Donzy to look at the Christmas decorations.


Back at the car we were ready for our vin chaud.


We’ll take a break from the Sunday walks as it’s the hunting season for the next couple of months and it’s best to avoid the forests and the men in orange hats with guns and dogs. So until March…

November 9, 2013

Le Chemin du Clou

Filed under: People,Places,Village Life — Tags: , , — Mary @ 22:50

Almost opposite our house in Varanges is the beginning of a track that leads up the hill towards Notre Dame des Roches. It hasn’t been used for many years and had become impassable with trees and brambles. The walk from Varanges up to the Faitral is very popular but it starts with the steep winding road past Les Sarilles. The Chemin du Clou is shorter and bypasses part of the road. So we were more than happy to help when Raymond from the Association Cortambert notre Patrimoine asked for volunteers to open up the track again.

The path seemed inpenetrable

The path seemed inpenetrable

Thankfully it was a dry sunny day. We assembled with brush cutters and chain saws,  loppers and secateurs. The undergrowth was attacked with gusto making short work of miles of wild clematis and enormous brambles with thick tough stems.

but it was no match for our team

It is testament to the fact that a determined group of people can work miracles in next to no time. Parts of the track were like the forest around Sleeping Beauty’s castle. PJ and Chris started at the upper end while everybody else worked their way up towards them. There were cheers when the two parties met in the middle. Like the French and the English building the Channel Tunnel.

Dr Livingstone I presume? Dennis and Chris meeting in the jungle


Of course, as with any activity in Cortambert, there was plenty of time for socialising and having a picnic.

Celebrating a good job well done!

Another session is sheduled for two weeks time. We need to dig a course for the spring that runs out from the side of the track and to tidy up what we cleared today. Also Pascale has spotted some flat stones to make a bench so we will make a place to sit and admire the view.


The view of the farm at Varanges from the Chemin du Clou

The view of the farm at Varanges from the Chemin du Clou


To celebrate the opening of the track we are using it as part of our next randonnée which will take place on Sunday 24th November. Meet at 9h30 at the foyer rural in Cortambert. Map to follow by email.

October 14, 2013

Autumn Fruits

Filed under: Events,People,Village Life — Tags: , — Mary @ 17:13


I always find that Autumn is a beautiful time of the year. The trees are just beginning to turn and the bushes are laden with berries and fruit. People with baskets and purple hands are collecting blackberries, walnuts, chestnuts and apples from hedgerows and verges.

We have our own resident botanist, Claire, and she, along with Pascale and Laurent & Annie from Donzy, organised a randonnée with the theme of autumn fruits. We set off with a list of fruits to collect. I soon learned that a cynorrhodon was a rosehip, a cenelle was a haw and an aveline was a hazel nut. I had the idea that a bonnet d’évêque was some sort of mushroom but it turned out to be a cluster of poisonous black berries.

There were pages of questions. One that intrigued me most was the one about the wild clematis. Great skeins of it lace through the hedges. In the autumn the seeds are a mass of white hair so it is often called Old Man’s Beard. Apparently the ados in the country used to lurk about in the woods smoking the tige or stem as a cigarette. Tige is actually the French slang for ‘fag’.

We collected beechnuts (2 to a case!), chestnuts, broom pods, mosses, lichens and toadstools. One toadstool was called cul de chien, obvious when we saw it.

View of Varanges from the woods above

We had been about three hours in the woods and by now had filled our bags with specimens. So back to the hall to compare our answers to the ones Claire had written on the board and to lay out our examples to be examined. As our team was mainly made up of English and Dutch, we really didn’t have much idea of what we were supposed to be doing so we had collected quite a few berries surplus to requirements.

Sorting out our specimens back at the foyer rural

The best ending to the day was finding how Claire, Pascale and Laurent used produce, home grown or collected locally, to make a meal. Starting with roasted Cortambert hazelnuts with apple juice, we went on to have soup made out of 10 vegetables, topinambours with garlic relishes, walnut cake, crêpes with several different jams based on marrows, chestnut cake and lots of wine. I thought I would never eat again!

Today I am still looking at the guide to wild fruit and taking note of the comestibles and how you can make bread out of chestnuts and coffee out of beechnuts. One thing is for sure, from now on I will take more notice while walking past the hedgerows.


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