Saturday, 7 July 2018

The latest from Cormatin

Het oorspronkelijke Café de la Poste
A lot of things are happening in our Metropolis, and some of the changes turn out to be an improvement. The Tabac, which moved quite some time ago from its original location between Les Blés d'Or and La Terrasse to a place a bit further down the road, the ex- Café de la Poste, has traded places again and is back to where it started from.

De oorspronkelijke Tabac
The Tabac sold at its previous and present location tobacco, scratch cards and loto cards; however, it also runs a cafeteria cum snack bar, and has a more spacious terrace at its disposal.

The "new" Tabac
On the vacant plot (hence ex-Café de la Poste) a new restaurant has opened its doors, Chez L'Oncle Jules. We have had a meal there twice now, and were very content with it. After the last wreath laying ceremony they were the ones who hosted the vin d'amitié and the snacks.

Chez L'Oncle Jules (Photo courtesy of S.L. Nixon)
The prices are very reasonable and the quality of the food is good to excellent; a starter + main dish is approx. € 13.50, and the à la carte dishes are also good and reasonably priced. The general criticism we heard (and we agree with that) is that the service can be a bit chaotic. However, that can be a wrinkle that might be ironed out with time; Chez L'Oncle Jules only opened its doors at the end of May. Nice little extra: the restaurant has an upstairs half open room, bordering a nice little garden. Hopefully the restaurant is here to stay.

Dakterras - Chez L'Oncle Jules

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Guitares en Cormatinois 2018

Eglise de Chazelle
Like each year, an overview of what the Festival Guitares en Cormatinois, 17th edition, has on offer. This year will see a number of familiar faces on stage, however, there are also a number of artists who have never played in Chazelle before. For more detailed information do not hesitate to visit our completely renewed Guitares en Cormatinois website
All concerts start at 17h30 and will be held at the Romanesque church of Chazelle.

Irish Kind Of 2016
Saturday 7 July 2018: Irish Kind Of, a trio (guitar, vocals, violin, flute) specialized in Irish folk music. This is their third performance in Chazelle, and so far they always managed to fill the church up completely. We strongly recommend making a reservation.

Sunday 6 July 208: Markus Held - violin, Hilario Yáñez – guitar en Marie Braun – flute with a varied program of classical music. Yáñez has played here before, and Held is also not unknown around here.

Sunday 15 July 2018: Hair Brothers, a duo, vocals and 7-strings guitars. According to their Facebook page they hve developed a style based on jazz and world music.

Duo Atlas - Spanje
Saturday 21 July 2018: Duo Atlas, a Spanish/Dutch duo, guitar and cello. Both live and work in Spain. Their program covers music from around 1200 to contemporary music.

Sunday 22 July 2018: Paris Gadjo Combo, a Manouche Quartet (guitars, bass, clarinet) playing Manouche jazz and Brazilian Choro Music. Knowing the popularity of this sort of music around here we strongly recommend making a reservation.

Paris Gadjo Club
For reservations I refer to the Guitares en Cormatinois website. However, we can also organise tickets for you; contact us directly and we will take care that the tickets are waiting for you on the required evening(s).

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Grandes Heures de Cluny 2018

2017 - Cloître
Again, this year Les Grandes Heures de Cluny, a classical music festival will take place during the summer months, at various locations in Cluny. Below a concise overview of the various concerts in this series. Just like previous years we hope to be able to attend all concerts in this excellent series.

Saturday 16 June 2018 – 18h00 - Presentation of the festival by Guy Touvron, with musical accompaniment by pianist Marie-Ange Nguci. Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev.

2017- Farinier
Sunday 29 July 2018 – 20h00 - Cloître de l'Abbaye – Orchestre de Minsk conducted by Alexander Anissimov. Brahms.

Thursday 2 August 2018 – 20h00 - Fariniers des Moines – Ensemble RosaSolis, Magali Léger – soprano, Guy Touvron – trumpet. Haendel, Marcello, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Bach.

Friday 3 August 2018 – 20h00 – Farinier des Moines – Vahan Mardirossian and Tristan Pfaff – piano à 4 mains. Schubert, Guerinel, Brahms, Offenbach.

2017 - Eglise St-Marcel
Saturday 4 August 2018 – 20h00 - Fariniers des Moines – Augustin Dumay – violin, Vanessa Wagner – piano. Brahms, Mozart, Franck.

Thursday 9 August 2018 – 20h00 – Eglise Saint-Marcel – Ensemble Polygones, Fiona McGown – mezzo-soprano, Celia Oneto Bensaid – piano. Great female composers: de Mongeroult, Bonis, C. Schumann, Pepin.

Abbaye de Cluny
Friday 10 a August 2018 - 20h00 – Eglise Saint-Marcel – Quatuor Modigliani. Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky.

Saturday 11 augustus 2018 – 20h00 – Eglise Saint-Marcel – Ensemble vocal et instrumental de l'Ain conducted by Michel Corboz & Eric Reynaud. Glorias of Poulenc resp. Puccini.

Click here for the full program.

Eglise St-Marcel
The prices of the tickets are at the moment of writing still unknown. From experience I can say that the presention of the series will be free of charge; the tickets for the other concerts will be somewhere in between €20 and €30.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Annecy: Carnaval venétien

I have always thought that the date of Carnival was related to the date of Easter: carnival's Sunday is 7 weeks before Easter Sunday, and ends three days after the first day on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). The Dutch Catholic part of the population seems to stick with the religious calendar; however in predominantly (traditionally) catholic France they do not seem to bother so much with the exact dates of carnival.

In those towns in Burgundy where carnival is celebrated the celebrations take place during a weekend one or more weeks later then the "official" carnival. In places where carnival is only celebrated as a party for schoolchildren it is often held on a weekday. Sometimes the festivities last a week, like in Chalon, partially indoors (balls, concerts) and partially outdoors with one or two big parades. Scenes one encounters in Dutch Brabant and Limburg (the catholic southern provinces of the Netherlands), where the towns are filled with a seething carousing guzzling mass of people, we (fortunately) have not encountered around here.

Recently we accidentally found out that a number of French towns organise something connected to the Venetian carnival. One of those towns is Annecy, a small 3 hour's drive from here. And since we had enjoyed the Chalon carnival twice already (which we found enough anyway), we decided to sign up for a bus trip to Annecy. Not for Sunday 11 February of course, but for Saturday 23 February. We were completely baffled by the crowds there. Annecy's old town is small with narrow streets, and at places it was impossible to move at all.

In and amongst the spectators there were people dressed up in elaborate costumes with ditto masks, and when asked they stopped, took an artistic pose, had a photoshoot with whomever wanted that, and then paraded on. There were about 500 people dressed up like this, of all nationalities. There were Swiss, Italians, but also French dressed up like Venetians.

Even though the costumes were beautiful, I was a bit put off by the masks. That what can make a photoshoot of people with "real" faces interesting are the facial expressions of the models (if one can catch the expression of course). Needless to say that the masks do not show any emotion at all. My conclusion is, that, even though it was a very cold but beautiful day, one event like this one in Annecy is more than enough for a life time. Having said that, if Annecy one day decides to stage a Carnival in Rio, who knows….

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Ikea-density per country (12 mei 2018)

Ikea Dijon
if you ever want to buy something at Ikea in the Netherlands, you will seldom have to travel more than 30 miles. In France that is slightly different; the nearest Ikea-shops for us are located in Dijon or Lyon, each about 60 miles from our home. And since Ikea Dijon is considerably more easily reachable compared to its Lyon counterpart, we have a strong preference for Dijon.

A car full of Ikea stuff, but no Billy case....
Hence, when we needed another Billy bookcase and some more Ikea stuff, we decided to check the availability of "our" furniture on the Dijon website. That seemed to be the case, although the remarks on the website were a bit ambiguous.
We understood "Disponible sur commande au magasin de IKEA Dijon" to mean: order on the spot and pick your parcel up at the collection counter. For another type of cupboard it said "Disponible à IKEA Dijon", which we interpreted as pick it up from the shelf, pay and leave. However, we found out that the Billy bookcase could be ordered there and then, but that the order had to be delivered to your home by Ikea itself.

This Mackapär cabinet however was available in Dijon
We were advised, if we did not want to pay the delivery charges, we should make another trip to Lyon, where the bookcase was available and from where it could be taken home straight away. Since we did not need the bookcase urgently, we decided to leave the Billy bookcase in Lyon for the time being.

The exreme left Billy case came all the way from Eindhoven!
A few weeks later however, we had to go to the Netherlands, and about ten miles from Den Bosch, the place where we were staying, there happened to be an Ikea in Eindhoven. They had the Billy bookcase in stock, so when we returned to France a few days later, we had a brandnew Billy in the boot, and, it turned out to be marginally cheaper than its French counterpart as well!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The show must go on

Biréli Lagrène & FrancisLockwood
Jazz in Trivy is one of the few festivals around here that does not issue newsletters to those interested; one has to keep an eye on the website or on the posters in Cluny. Last year there had been no concert that suited me, and this spring I had completely forgotten Jazz in Trivy. Fortunately early April I saw a poster in a window where the first concert in the series was announced for 20 April: Biréli Lagrène – guitar and Francis Lockwood – piano were going to give a concert entitled "Hommage à Didier Lockwood".

The Lockwood Brothers
I had heard Lagrène several times in Trivy, even one time with Didier Lockwood – violin, hence this concert seems to be worth its while. The word homage however was a bit strange, like Didier Lockwood had departed this life. That appeared to be correct; Lockwood had died of a heart attack in February. Through Google I found out that Francis was Didier's brother, and that explained the "Hommage". Tickets were ordered on line, and a few days later we went on our way to Trivy to hear Lagrène play.

Francis Lockwood
The plot thickened when we arrived in Trivy: at the entrance I picked up a flyer announcing a concert of the Lockwood Brothers for … 20 April. Obviously the flyers were printed before the death of Didier Lockwood; however, the organisation had managed to replace Didier Lockwood with Biréli Lagrène. The poster however was most likely printed just before the date of the concert.

Francis Lockwood & Thibault François
Once inside the church there appeared to be even more surprises. The announcer told us that also Lagrène could not be present tonight. He had phoned around 18h00 with the message that he was ill, and could not play. Fortunately, like good jazzmen, the organisation had a talent for improvisation. Before the break Francis Lockwood was going to play solo in a relatively short set, while after the break he was going to play a longer set together with the hastily drummed up guitar player from Lyon Thibault François.

Thibault François
To give those the honour they deserve: the organisation deserved a prize with honours for their improvisational talent, and, not having heard either musician previously, both played an excellent set.

Jean Léchère
Congratulations to Jean Léchère of Jazz in Trivy!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Let the summer commence!

Snow in Ickenham - England
The Burgundian winter of 2018 will not enter the history books as one of the coldest winters ever. On the contrary; our winter this year was a real sluggish winter. Even though we had a few days with temperatures not far above the freezing point, a strong wind coming from the north combined with a high air humidity made us feeling cold to the bone.

Snow in the harbour of Den Bosch (the Netherlands)
I prefer one of these sunny bone-dry days, no wind, and temperatures well below zero. That feels a lot better, but we have hardly seen any days like that. Snow was also not very visible in Burgundy. The advantage of the lack of snow and real cold weather is that we had no black ice on the roads, nor slippery roads due to well compacted snow, and as a result we also had no problem with the mud-like layer of half-melted snow that can stay on the roads for quite a while after it started thawing.

Cité de la Musique - Paris
The only substantial snow we have seen we experienced during a short holiday in England just before Christmas, during a short visit to the Netherlands and while we had a short holiday in Paris, both in March. Here we had some sleet, but that did not produce a nice white blanket on the fields.

Sleet - Chazelle
As the summer is supposed to break out any day now, we sincerely hope that we will soon have a long period of dry, sunny and hence warm weather; that would at least make us forget the sluggish winter we have had.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Chapaize Culture

Actually, this is advertising for the "enemy", however, the understanding between the organisers of the various musical festivals here is such that we do not really try to catch each other's clientele.
Chapaize Culture has this year again an interesting program, reason why I decided to take a pick from this year's (2018) offer:

Saturday 14 April 18h30 - Auberge rurale, Chapaize: Soirée crêpes / accordéon (€5 for the concert, crêpes and drinks are charged separately). Two accordion players and two guitarists.

Roundelay (Chapaize)
Thursday 10 May 17h00 (ascencion day) – Eglise St-Martin, Chapaize - Roundelay, Dutch madrigal choir (free of charge, at the end they will go around with a hat). The ascencion day concert of Roundelay is a yearly event. We are still very impressed with this choir. We have attended their concerts since 2010, if not longer. The church has wonderful acoustics for this sort of music.

Sunday 27 May 17h00 – Auberge rurale, Chapaize – La Sido Trio (€12), with a program of Chansons written by o.a. Ferré, Prévert and Weil. Jazz trio with female singer.

Saturday 2 June 19h00 – Eglise St-Martin, Chapaize – Choeur arpège de Trélex (free of charge, at the end they will go around with a hat). Mixed choir of approx. 30 people, music from renaissance to contemporary music.

Friday 8 June 19h00 – Eglise St-Martin, Chapaize – Chorale Lycée Bismarck de Karlsruhe (free of charge, at the end they will go around with a hat). Music from classical to jazz and film music.

Ensemble ODO (Cluny)
Saturday 16 June 20h30 - Eglise St-Martin, Chapaize – ODO ensemble (€15). A group best described as bringing World Music. I saw them last year in Cluny and I was well impressed.

Sunday 5 August 18h30 - Eglise St-Martin, Chapaize – Irish music (€12). Flute, vocal, piano, accordeon.

Saturday 1 September – Prieuré de Lancharre (free of charge, at the end they will go around with a hat). The official opening of the renovated church with various events, such as:
16h00 – Trio with bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy.
18h00 – Roundelay (see also 10 May)

Saturday 8 September 20h30 - Eglise St-Martin, Chapaize – Paris Gadjo Club (€25). A quintet with manouche (à la Django Reinhardt) and Brasilian jazz.

Paris Gadjo Club (Paris)
Click here for the complete agenda.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

What's in a name?

Lenin (Internet)
Long time ago I was christened as Cornelis Gerardus van Halderen, shortened for daily use to Kees (pronounced as "Case"). I have been quite content with my short name, but when I entered puberty (in the early sixties) I found that Kees was a rather bourgeois name. From then on I could have called myself Ilyich, or Yevgéniy, or Che (in certain circles quite fashionable names then), but I had a strong feeling that this might not catch on with many of my friends and family. Hence I chose a simpler solution: Change Kees into Cees, and all of a sudden a simple boy from a working class family had something special, something artistic.
Che Guevara (Internet)
And even though the pronunciation of both names should be different (Case becomes Sase), I can only remember one colleague who consequently called me "Sase". When time passes one realises that such adolescent behaviour had been rather childish, but by then I and the rest of the world got used to a name that is differently written than it is pronounced.
When we ended up in France I held on to my illogical short name, irrespective of the fact that some people were quite confused by it. Normally I am addressed as Kees (hence as Case), but some people address me as Cees, which they turn into "Cease".

Uitnodiging van de Préfect
The reason: they think that Cease sounds more logical and more English than Case (given the spelling of Cees). Again, in hindsight, I should have chosen to be called Cornelis (albeit this sounds very official to me) or Cornelius (not common, but also not totally unknown in France), or Gérard, a perfectly French name which also corresponds to my second Christian name.
Since I have obtained the French nationality another "problem" has arisen: my official name (in my French passport) has been changed to Cornelis Gerardus Van Halderen. (Note the capital V in my name!).

Monsieur Van....
It is a bit like in the Singaporean telephone directory: one found most Dutch nationals under D for De (Boer, etc.) or under V for Van (Houten, etc.) and not under B resp. H. As of now I am findable under V for Van Halderen, and no longer under H of Halderen as is normal in the Netherlands….

Saturday, 17 March 2018

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, 10 March 2018

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, 24 February 2018

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.