Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Bresse savoyarde

The Bresse is an area which traditionally has been split up per region in three different parts; The Bresse bourgignonne (Bourgogne), the Bresse jurassienne (Jura) and the Bresse savoyarde (Ain, which historically was part of Savoy). The flat countryside as well as the typical Bressane architecture characterize the Bresse bourgignonne the Bresse savoyarde.

Typical Bressane farm house with chimney (Courtes)
The Bresse savoyarde, just across the Saône east of Mâcon is well known for its cheminées sarrasines. These are oddly shaped chimneys, adorning the typical old fashioned Bressane farmhouses. Often these chimneys carry a cross on top, sometimes the shape resembles a bell tower, minaret or mausoleum.

Typical Bressane farm house with chimney (St-Cyr-sur-Menthon)
The name however has got nothing to do with the Saracens (an Arab people; the word is often used to describe the Turkish invaders); sarrasin was used in French to indicate something strange or weird. The Bresse houses some open-air museums, like the ones in Courtes and Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon, where a brochure is available containing a map showing where these chimneys can be found.

The cattle market in St-Denis-lès-Bourg (Sue Nixon)
Bourg-en-Bresse (an hour's drive from here), the capital of the department Ain (01) and the centre of the Bresse boasts the biggest cattle market in France. Because as a child I really liked to roam around the cattle market in my home town I decided for old time's sake to have a go at this (morning) market. The market is located in the outskirts of Bourg, in Saint-Denis-lès-Bourg, and it really lives up to its reputation. The cows, calves and bulls are neatly organized within pens for each sort (hefters, milk cows, cows and bulls for reproduction, etc.).

Monastère Royal de Brou - Bourg-en-Bresse
The sales are bargained upon and settled by handshake between the farmers. The smell, the mooing, the noise of the farmers, it all brought back sweet memories of the weekly cattle market in Delft (the Netherlands). And, strangely enough, the aisles between pens may not have been spotless, they were certainly clean, something I would not expect on a cattle market.
However, one should not leave Bourg without having paid a visit to the Royal Monastery of Brou. The early 16th century monastery was built by Margaret of Austria, in those days governess of the Spanish Netherlands.

Monastère Royal de Brou - Bourg-en-Bresse
The church is a jewel of flamboyant gothic architecture from the hand of the Flemish master builder Loys van Boghem, whilst the mausoleums of Margaret of Bourbon, Margaret of Austria en Philibert II the Handsome of Savoy were designed by another Fleming Jean van Roome. The monastery boasts, apart from the stunning architecture and sculptures, a museum, and has 3 cloisters, which come across as a bit boring compared to the church.

Monastère Royal de Brou - Bourg-en-Bresse
For our own website click here.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Unwanted or unexpected guests

Every so often we find some strange things in the garden or around the house.

Lost and found
Sometimes these are droppings or pellets we cannot determine, or it is a splat of bird poo which is often difficult to scrub off, or we find a piece of snake skin which some snake abandoned somewhere.
Often one finds out only after some time what sort of animal was the culprit, but not always. And since we have no cameras around the house it is more by good luck than good management that one finds out what animal was the guilty one.

Fox
One morning we saw, whilst doing the washing up, a grown up fox wondering around the garden. And before it spotted us and could make a run for it, we managed to take some pictures of the fox.

A cow between the fruit trees
At another occasion we found some cow pats in the garden. It was quite obvious who was or were guilty, however, how one or more cows ended up in the garden stayed a mystery. During a second invasion we found out that there had been, for a while, a broken piece of fencing between meadow and garden, nicely hidden by bramble bushes. The cows just barged in and ended up in our garden.

Stork
When the château in Cormatin had two storks nesting on one of the chimneys (that was before the chatelain chased them away after having put up with them for several years) they often made a pit stop at the pond in our meadow.

Wild boar (stuffed, at the market in Louhans)
Although wild boar lives in the woods around us, we hardly ever see them. Sometimes, late in the evening, we have seen a sow with young piglets wandering along the soft shoulder of the paths through the woods, but a) one does not always have a camera at hand, b) it is often too dark to take a picture and c) I am enough of a scaredy-cat (in itself a protected species) not wanting to disturb a possibly aggressive sow.

Roe deer at the gate
Roe deer are also not uncommon, but they are wise enough to stay put during the hunting season. The only roe we managed to "shoot" we saw eating leaves on the path at our gate on a cold winter morning (within the hunting season, by the way).

Dead badger
There must be quite some badgers around here. Proof are the dead badgers we have seen laying along the roadside, obviously hit by cars during the night whilst crossing the road.

Green whip snake
And the snakeskins? We find them in the weirdest places. This area knows some quite big (about 5 feet long) snakes, non-poisonous, who feed on mice and other small vermin. The species is called the green whip snake. We have never found enough skin to turn it into a purse or handbag, though.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Classics Illustrated

American edition
When speaking to English people about comic strips, I often smell an air of disdain on this subject. I can't really blame them; if comic strips were only associated with Donald Duck, Superman, Spiderman and the like I would not be very impressed with the idea either. However, on the continent, and certainly in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and France nowadays comic strips are widely appreciated, by children, grown-ups and intellectuals alike. When I was a kid however, times were slightly different. I sometimes borrowed a comic strip book (like Lucky Luke, "the man who shoots faster than his shadow") from my little friends, and my parents frowned upon it. Even Donald Duck was seen as a danger for my sensitive children's soul…. My parents found a solution, and made me a member of the public library. The problem with the books there was simple: the library decided which books were appropriate for your age group, and I was condemned to the equivalent of the Ladybird books, whilst knowing there were good, thrilling books available about e.g. Cowboys and Indians. Fortunately I had friends whose parents were not as narrow-minded (or as observant) as my parents were, and I managed to borrow decent books for young boys, like the Winnetou and Old Shatterhand series (Westerns) by the German writer Karl May or the translated "Famous Five" books by Enid Blyton. Anyway, that is how I discovered Classics Illustrated.


Dutcch edition
Of course in those days I was unaware of the fact that this was originally an American series with translated books from world literature in small size comic strip form. They were simply great books with juicy stories. My memory fails me, but somehow titles like "Robinson Crusoe" and "Moby Dick" spring to mind. It definitely was my first encounter with great books of great writers, albeit in condensed comic strip format. In later life I caught up reading the originals.
A few weeks ago I entered, unsuspectedly, the Tabac in Cormatin to buy a newspaper, when I noticed on the shelf a comic strip edition of "Around the world in 80 days", in French, published by Le Monde.

French edition
Since I like comic strips as well as Jules Verne, I bought the book and finished it in no time. It appeared, that Le Monde has a series in the making not dissimilar to Classics Illustrated. The 2nd book was "Treasure Island", the 3rd "The hunchback of Notre Dame". At the back there was an overview of the volumes to be published, with titles not dissimilar to those published in my youth. However, these books are printed on proper paper, in colour, and in French standard Comic Book size. If you want to read a book in French, and you have a choice between a Comic Strip in two volumes of 48 pages each (Like "The wretched"), or the original version of over 1200 pages, which is using the passé simple all the time, the choice is not so difficult. The only dilemma I have is this: am I going for the full series of 29 volumes at € 9.00 per volume, or am I going to skip the titles I am not terribly keen on (like "Jungle Book" or "A Christmas carol")? As a habitual collector, which I certainly am, skipping volumes does not sound very professional….

The first three volumes of Le Monde's series
For our own website click here.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The community of Taizé

The bells of Taizé
I am woken up every morning by the bells of Taizé, the single bell for the monks rings out at 07.45 for about 5 minutes, calling the monks to their morning prayer then the bells start in earnest at 08.15 and ring until 08.30, letting all the pilgrims at Taizé know that the service is about to start. When the bells stop I know I really must get up. The bells ring from 12.15 to 12.30, so I know lunch should be on the table and if dinner is not ready when the evening bells go at 20.15, I know I am very late. And that was what Taizé was to me when I arrived here in 2005.

After Easter in 2006 we went to Taizé to have a look around and we were amazed at the number of young people milling around. We didn’t go to a service as that seemed inappropriate, with all these kids around it seemed like a young person’s thing. I wanted to go to a service, but I didn’t know how it worked, so I didn’t dare go alone. In July some campers (Ans and Simon) arrived, she had been to Taizé for the first time that spring and wanted to camp nearby to take in a few services and tempt her husband to go too. He however wasn’t interested and she didn’t dare go alone. At last my chance to go to a service, so on a Friday evening Ans and I went up the hill to Taizé.

A service in Taizé (Photo © Arnd Waidelich)
The services are made up of singing and silence. The songs are mesmerising. With pilgrims from all over the world the songs need to be simple to enable everyone to sing. There are a mixture of languages, Latin, German and some sort of Slavonic language are the most popular with French, English and Spanish there too. Each song has two lines and these are sung over and over again. The songs are a mixture of four voices, rounds and solo singing with the congregation singing the chorus. It is not to everyone’s taste, but I absolutely love them. In every service there is silence, five minutes of it. Five minutes is a very long time and it is quite amazing that a church full of people can be so quiet for so long. The singing continues after the monks have left and on a Friday and Saturday night this can go on into the early hours of the morning I have been told.


Pottery made by the brothers
The peace that pervades in a service is tangible and I can quite understand why some people come back year after year, just to regain that and to take a little bit of serenity back home with them. It is definitely not just a young person’s thing at all. Everyone is welcome to the services. Many, many of the visitors in our gîtes or on the campsite come for Taizé, to take part in a couple of services while being on holiday and enjoying other things that this area has to offer. Something not to be missed is a look at the stunning pottery the monks make to pay for their upkeep.

Special service - 5 years ago: Frère Roger killed; 70 years ago: he arrived in Taizé (2010)


We get many questions about how to walk or cycle to Taizé from here, so we have made some maps of the various routes and posted them in a photo album. Click here for those routes.

Text Sue Nixon

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Walking along the Balades Vertes

Quite recently Saône-et-Loire, South Burgundy has completed the Balades Vertes which are a large number of signposted walking routes throughout the whole of the département (71). Together with the Voie Verte (check out the article) these routes make this area a Mecca for walkers.

In the capital of our canton, St Gengoux le National, the tourist information office has a little book with details of the walks that are in the area between the rivers Grosne and Guye, rather unsurprising called "Guide les Balades Vertes entre Grosne et Guye". The book contains 26 signposted walks and costs €8.00, a little map and description of each walk can be bought separately and they cost € 2.00 each. All the signposts or markings on trees and fence posts are in yellow and are very clear.

A large number of communes along the Voie Verte have a starting point for their walks. The routes to these starting points are clearly marked with large signposts “Randonnée - Balade Verte” on the main roads. By each start point there is a carpark and a map with an overview of the routes that start and finish at that point and the route reference number, for instance the routes from Cormatin are CO1 and CO2, from Taizé TA1 etc. Click here for an album with some more pictures of the Balades Vertes.

Taking a break along the Balades Vertes
For those who want to be a bit more adventurous and make their own way around here, there are very well detailed maps from IGN in their Série Bleue (1:25000) which you can use to find all the footpaths in the area. One of the Grande Randonnées passes close to Cormatin (GR76) and Cluny is one of the starting points for the road to Santiago de Compostella.

Over and above all this, from early in the spring until late in autumn, there are organised randonnées most weekends. The routes are marked by different coloured spray paint arrows on the road or wooden arrows on temporary posts and the walks usually range from 5 to 30 km. At strategic points on the way there are refreshment stalls where wine, water, French bread, cheese and sausage are distributed. The prices vary by distance and range from €3.00 to €10.00.

We get many questions about how to walk or cycle to Taizé from here, so we have made some maps of the various routes and posted them in a photo album. Click here for those routes.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Cycling down the Voie Verte

The Voie Verte (the Green Pathway) is a walking/cycle path that runs from north to south through Saône-et-Loire (71), South Burgundy. In the nineties, the local governing bodies decided to tarmac the old railway track from Chalon-sur-Saône to Mâcon as a leisure facility. Many of the old stations have been turned into “service stations”. This concept was so successful that the original 80km of cycle path has been extended to cover 320 km and extra circuits (boucles) that go off into the surrounding countryside have been created, giving in total approximately 730 km of marked out cycle routes. La Voie Verte runs not only over the old railway tracks, it now runs over canal tow paths and also specially created cycle paths have been built to link the various sections of Voie Verte together.

A special map on the subject shows the complete Voie Verte Saône-et-Loire (71) and its boucles. The boucles all begin and end on the Voie Verte and are signposted. Each boucle is graded for difficulty from 1 being easy up to 4 which is very hard work.

At some places near Cormatin and at the campsite in Cormatin, you can rent bicycles, by the hour, day or week. Prices in Cormatin are approximately €20 per day or approximately €65 per week. Click here for an album with a few more pictures of the Voie Verte.

The Voie Verte near Chazelle

The whole Voie Verte concept has extended beyond Saône-et-Loire and there are now plans to link all the paths in Burgundy (approximately 600km) and extend them by a further 200km by linking them into the paths in Rhône giving a total of about 800km of cycle paths near here.

La Voie Verte is about 2km from La Tuilerie and boucles 10 and 10bis (the Romanesque church route) almost pass the door (200m).

The Voie Verte between Cormatin and Cluny
You don’t have to just stick to the cycle paths for safe cycling. The secondary roads around here are very quiet and the French really stick to the rules when it comes to giving cyclists plenty of room, they overtake at a safe distance of about 1.5m. When Cees cycles into Cormatin to get the bread and newspaper on the main road, no one will overtake if he cannot be given enough room. It won’t be the first time that he has entered town with a long queue of cars behind him.

At weekends there are regular “randonnées” for VTTs (mountain bikes) where routes are laid out for you to follow. They tend to be from 30 to 50km and cost between €5.00 and €10.00. For that you get regular pit-stops where water, wine, French bread and sausage amongst other goodies are available to fortify you for the rest of the journey.

For those “passive” cyclists, the Tour de France comes to a town near here almost every year. In 2007 it came to Cormatin itself, in 2006 Mâcon saw the finish of an étape, in 2010 Tournus saw the start of an étape as did Mâcon in 2012.


We get many questions about how to walk or cycle to Taizé from here, so we have made some maps of the various routes and posted them in a photo album. Click here for those routes.

Whilst this item is about cycling, we do get asked from time to time if it possible to go horseriding near here. So just because I can't think of a better place to put the information here it is! In Saint-Martin-du-Tartre, at “Le Ranch des Jacinthes” horses can be rented for trekking in the hills.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

A day out in the Brionnais

Brionnais

The Brionnais is an area in the southwestern corner of Burgundy, more or less enclosed by Charolles and Digoin in the north and Chauffailles and Iguerande in the south. It is an area with rolling hills, forests and meadows with only on the western side the flat plane of the river Loire. We visit the Brionnais regularly, for various reasons.

Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais - Market
One of our main reasons to organise a day out to the Brionnais is the weekly cattle market (Wednesday all day) in Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais. Although the old fashioned market, where the farmers trade with each other on a one to one basis, is getting smaller each time we get there, it is still a very lively, very busy market. The amount of cattle that is traded under canopies diminishes in favour of selling in the auction ring, where the cows are entered, their weight and particulars are displayed on a big screen, and where the farmers can bid electronically.

Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais - Auction
The whole auction strongly resembles a Dutch vegetable or flower auction. On market day all restaurants in the village offer a menu du marché, which consists of a main dish, a cheese platter and a desert at a very reasonable price (approx. € 15 pp). One of the charms is also that one usually is seated at the same table as the farmers, whom for obvious reasons get priority over tourists when food is to be ordered. Even though by now we know the market inside out, we still happily visit the Brionnais on a Wednesday, if only to enjoy a first class steak frites in Saint-Christophe.

Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais - Lunch
However, it seems a bit daft to travel roughly an hour just for a good lunch. The Brionnais boasts a big number of towns and villages with very interesting Romanesque (=Norman) churches; some have a crypt, others have beautifully carved capitals, and a number of them are decorated with stunning tympanums above the entrance doors.

Anzy-le-Duc - Capital
It is virtually impossible to mention all churches that are worth a visit; below are some highlights.
Those are, amongst others: Paray-le-Monial, Anzy-le-Duc, Semur-en-Brionnais, Montceau-l'Etoile, Varenne-l'Arconce, Saint-Germain-en-Brionnais, Bois-Sainte-Marie, Saint-Laurent-en-Brionnais, Châteauneuf, Iguerande, Charlieu (42) and Neuilly-en-Donjon (03). Those who would like to make a trip past the Romanesque churches can follow the signs "Circuit des églises romanes du Brionnais", a trip which is extensively described on the site "Le site sur l'Art Roman en Bourgogne".

Neuilly-en-Donjon (03) - Tympanum

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

La Rochepot

La Rochepot
The name alone is worth a blog. The Herrschaft or Lordship La Roche de Nolay was in 1403 acquired by Régnier Pot, and his family name was suffixed to the place name. So that is where the name comes from, courtesy of Wikipedia.

La Rochepot
The village of La Rochepot is quite near Beaune, and even though Beaune certainly merits a full day, it is definitely worth to sneak an hour off this day for a visit to the Château de La Rochepot, beautifully set on a rock overlooking the village.

La Rochepot
It was originally an eleventh century castle, rebuilt in the thirteenth century, almost completely demolished in the nineteenth century and again rebuilt in fifteenth century style at the end of the nineteenth beginning of the twentieth century.

La Rochepot
The Château is privately owned, however it is partially open to the public. Not only the interior is worth the visit; the roof covered in coloured glazed Burgundian roof tiles gives the castle certainly an extra touch of distinction. From the castle one has a beautiful view over the surroundings, including a view of the cemetery with its beautiful Romanesque church Notre-Dame (in itself worth a visit as well).

La Rochepot
So those who are traveling to Beaune an cannot resist the temptation of a beautiful castle, should when nearing Nolay follow the signs to La Rochepot.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Castles in all shapes and sizes

When using the word Château the first association of most French will not be with a Castle like Balmoral Castle, but with a place producing prestigious wine.

Château de Cormatin
Of course those sort of châteaux are galore in Burgundy, however the fortified châteaux or manor houses are certainly not unknown here.
To start near home: the Château de Cormatin is a beautiful 17th century castle with a lovely garden and a beautiful interior. Even though it is partially lived in, quite a big part of the building as well as the gardens can be visited.

Château de Cormatin
The Château de Drée is a bit further away from home, in the Brionnais, and is open to the public with beautiful Jardins à la française. Neither of those castles were ever meant to be fortresses.
For fortresses the French often use the word château fort, because château on its own is a bit ambiguous. A number of these castles have fallen into ruins, and can be seen from the outside, but cannot be entered. A few examples are: Lournand, Sigy-le-Châtel, Bissy-sur-Fley.

Château de Brancion
However, the ruins of Brancion Castle are interesting and open to the public.
Saône-et-Loire boasts also a few castles, complete and in good shape, which can be visited. Two examples of such castles near Mâcon are Berzé-le-Châtel, perched on a hill overlooking the Grosne valley and Pierreclos, which is a château fort as well as a wine castle. The castle itself can be visited, for a wine tasting one has to pay extra.

Berzé-le-Châtel
A castle, where according to legend Margaret of Burgundy died, is located near Couches. The castle is partially open to the public, partially a bed and breakfast place, and it offers wine tastings as well. And then finally there is the château de Germolles near Mellecey, once owned by the duke and duchess of Burgundy, Charles the bald and Margaret of Flanders. Originally it was the fortress of the Lords of Germolles, but Charles and his wife used it in the 15th century as a sort of holiday home.

Château de Couches
Note, that this overview does not pretend to be complete. It is only a very modest indication of what Saône-et-Loire has to offer on this subject.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Our new website (part 2 of 2)

Re-writing the code to allow it to manage phones, tablets and PC's did not turn out to be a sinecure, however, we plodded on and got there at the end. Depending on which hardware is used to display the website, what exactly shows on the screen is quite different. The PC screen seems to be the least different, but the smaller the screen becomes, the more different it looks.

This is what the new site looks like
The concept of the top menu bar with drop-down menus had to disappear, because they work fine on mouse operated screens, but not on touch-screen devices.
And this sees an I-phone 5 user
In short: the PC-screen works until the screen becomes smaller than a tablet screen. The text stays legible because we are now using a fixed fontsize. Reducing the screens further (phone format) gets rid of menus on the right hand side of the text block. Only the most interesting links from the side menus have been transferred to the top menu on the telephones. By definition phones have now less links than PC's and/or tablets. However, the links that are skipped are less relevant: we assumed that phone users will not shed many tears because they cannot approach our personal Blogs from their phone. That seems to be more something for someone behind a PC screen.We also have shortened the Tourist Information for all versions, which gives all web pages a reasonable length without excessively long pages here and there.
However, since we know from experience that those pages were appreciated and used by some of our guests, we have incorporated this "superfluous" information in our existing Blog with Tourist information. It also gave us the opportunity the get rid of the endless stream of external links. There are nowadays search engines galore that will find the required and the most up-to-date information within no time. And with this last change my regular, and very boring checking exercises are a thing of the past.

For our own (completely overhauled) website click here.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Our new website (part 1 of 2)

The weeks around Christmas we normally reserve for patching up our own website.

This is what our website (previous version) looked like on a PC screen
Most of the time we just check out the external links which are convenient for the visitors of our site, e.g. the links to the arrival and departure times of public transport from and to our property. Those links are provided by others, and we do not have any influence on the validity of those links. It is amazing how many sites are changing URL addresses throughout the year – without providing a new link connecting the obsolete URL with the new one. And it is even more amazing how many external links we actually are providing on our own pages.
And this is what it looked like on an I-phone 5
However, before we started on our regular (2 to 3 times a year!) check of external links we thought it might be a better idea to redo the whole website. There was a good reason for that: some customers actually had made remarks in the past about the user-unfriendliness of our site for those opening the site on a mobile phone. In hindsight I must say that those people had been extremely polite in their addressing this "flaw"…
Because we are not I-phone, I-pad or tablet users ourselves, these sort of remarks were registered with us, but that was about it. Fortunately, we discovered that Chrome (among others) could provide us with an application that simulates a wide range of hardware. With this application one sees on the screen of a PC, on scale 1:1, what an I-phone or tablet user sees on his or her screen. And that gave us a scare! We chose, for checking purposes, to simulate an I-phone 5, one of the smallest available models.
To be continued.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Laïcité

I thought I had seen it all when it comes to laïcité (separation of church and state) with the arrival of the burkini, the injunction of the same bathing suit and with the cancellation of the injunction of the burkini.

Burkini arrest (picture The Mirror)
The elimination of Sarkozy as presidential candidate during the primaries seemed to confirm that. Until…
Until a small nativity scene in the hall of the town hall in Paray-le-Monial hit the front pages of the regional press. the pictures in this blog come from the local newspaper, and from the pictures one can deduce that had not Sherlock Holmes personally been involved in the search, the stable would never have been discovered.

Nativity scene - Paray-le-Monial (picture JdS&L)
Showing or wearing of religious symbols in public spaces is more or less forbidden in France, and the LDDH, a self-appointed watchdog on the subject, has brought this "case" to court, and the mayor of Paray lost this case.
What followed was predictable: Paray is a busy place for all sorts of roman-catholic pilgrimages, evry 4th building in town is a church or chapel, the mayor is a staunch roman-catholic jurist, in a word the proverbial shit started to hit the fan.

Nativity scene - Paray-le-Monial (picture L'observatoire de la Christianophobie)
According to the mayor this decision has serious consequences for the democracy in this country.
And for the Front National, which has hardly any influence in Burgundy (yet), this is grist to the mill. In a pamphlet about this case issued by FN this is the beginning of the end: a tsunami of minarets, headscarves, terrorists, etc. is heading for Burgundy. And yes, this sounds all very familiar. Maybe I can get hold of a cheap Linguaphone course Arabic somewhere….

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Musée de la Mine - Blanzy

That the area around and west of Montceau-les-Mines and Le Creusot once was a thriving coal mining basin is only reflected in some of the place names: Montceau-les-Mines is an obvious example.

Musée de la Mine - Blanzy
Apart from those names there is not much that reminds one of the glorious days of the industrial revolution. Many towns and villages in the Charolais however had in those days such an influx of miners from Italy, Portugal and Poland (all staunch roman-catholic countries) that the old Romanesque churches soon became too small to cater for this rise in population.

Gallery
Of those original churches only the bell tower is till old; often the Romanesque nave has been demolished and replaced by a longer and/or wider edifice. The coal exploitation in the area ended between 1992 and 2000.
In Blanzy however there is something more that reminds us of those days.

Gallery
There is not much remaining of the many mines in the area, but Blanzy boasts an original mineshaft lift tower of the Puits Saint-Claude (exploitation: 1857-1882), and the area around it has been converted into a mining museum.
http://www.ecomusee-creusot-montceau.fr/spip.php?rubrique9
The museum appeared to be very interesting and is daily open in the summer months (not on Tuesdays, and only in the afternoon) and outside that period in weekends only.

Miner
The group managing the museum runs (among others) the machine room, it has an interesting collection of miner's lamps and organises very interesting guided tours through replicas of old mine galleries, including old and "modern" machinery, built just under ground level. This way the visitor gets a good impression of what life underground has been.

The lift tower
Blanzy is about half an hour's drive from here, and for those who are interested in industrial archaeology a visit to the museum is well worth its while.
For our own website click here.