Saturday, 13 August 2016

Fear of flying

Or should it be "Fear of not flying"?

Montgolfiade 2009
Each year, around Whitsuntide or Pentecost Chalon-sur-Saône celebrates its Montgolfiade, a festival where dozens of hot air balloons are supposed to be launched. And since this hot air balloon festival is always held on a Saturday and Sunday, there have been quite a few weekends where we set off to Chalon to see this from close-by. However, it has always been either rainy, or too windy, so either we ourselves cancelled the trip or the balloons refused to go up.

Montgolfiade 2016
However, during one of our vain trips we once found some cold air balloons attached to a gate on the venue of the Montgolfiade. My learned assistant knew that those things normally fly around sunrise or sunset, so one fine day, towards the evening we drove once again to Chalon. There was a slight breath of wind, but who cares?

Montgolfiade on a fine day (internet)
The balloons did not fly that night. The following day they did, however, as we learned from the newspaper. The burning question rests: are we content having seen the two or three balloons flying over Chazelle, or are we going to visit Chalon on day again to see dozens floating in the air?

Mini-Montgolfiade 2014 - Chazelle
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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Killing two birds with one stone

Given the enormous amount of artisans around here who occupy themselves with all sorts of handicrafts, the artists have to go through some length to be able to sell their products.

Exposition Belles de Mai - Berzé-la-Ville
They are united in a number of associations, some rigid, some a bit more flexible, which regularly organize exhibitions of their work. One of these associations is the "Belles de Mai" (in winter they operate as "Mères Noël"), that organizes at the beginning of summer and towards Christmas an exhibition in a spot that is also of interest on different grounds.

Gypum kilns - Berzé-la-Ville
This year they had chosen the old gypsum kilns in Berzé-la-Ville. We knew the kilns from a previous visit in August 2012, when we were invited there by a group (Amis de Vieux Berzé) who occupied themselves with the restauration of the kilns. Of course this was reason enough for a revisit.
This exposition gave us a chance to see what the restorers had achieved, and what the artisan hat makers, potters, jewellers, etc. had wrought.

Exposition - Berzé-la-Ville
The kilns had undergone a metamorphosis over the last three and a half years and formed a perfect setting for the exhibited jewellery, ceramics, clothing, etc. The weather, which is an important factor for the success of these events did not spoil the fun. When we arrived around lunchtime (a perfect time to avoid the crowds) all the ladies were enjoying the warmth and the sunshine chatting and sipping their glasses of wine. The whole scene gave me a strange déja vu feeling, seeing all these ladies dressed in white.

Not a Chinese funeral!
That is however something very personal. It very strongly reminded me of the gatherings around Chinese funerals, where a certain generation of mourners is dressed in white, and where after a wake of 3, 5 or 7 days the mourners are behaving as a group of family or friends during a happier occasion than a funeral. Anyway, the "Belles de Mai" had every reason to be really happy and gay!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Slaves of the World, Unite!

Revealing the plaque
This year saw the 7th edition of the festival Ourtre-Mer en Bourgogne, and this year's theme for the festival was the abolition of slavery. The association "Amis des Antilles" from Montceau-les-Mines plays a prominent role in these festivities, and the Antillean chairwoman of this club, Mme Christiane Mathos, also owner of an Antillean restaurant there kept her end up during the preparations of the festival.

The plaque
Even though Montceau-les-Mines is not exactly an area of our special attention, the fact that Cormatin and Ameugny were part of the celebrations could not escape us. Both villages played a (modest) role in the abolition of slavery, like Saint-Point, Mâcon, Paray-le-Monial, Toulon-sur-Arroux and Cluny. Had our village not been heavily involved in this politically hot item we would have never paid any attention to Outre-Mer en Bourgogne. So what exactly was Cormatin's role?

The inevitable speeches
The General Étienne Maynaud de Bizefranc de Lavaux had been governor of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), he had had close ties with the black leader of a slave uprising in Haiti, General Toussaint Louverture, he was a friend of Alphonse de Lamartine, the later advocate of a.o. the abolition of slavery, and he was buried in the cemetery of Ameugny.

Lavaux's tomb
Hence reason enough for celebrating a mess in Cormatin's church, unveiling a plaque at the Château de Cormatin, laying a wreath on his grave in Ameugny, followed by a vin d'amitié and a lecture on the subject there and finally a play in Cormatin by pupils of a school in Montceau about… yes, the abolition of slavery.

Vin d'amitié
Unfortunately Mme Mathos' influence did not reach as far as providing Antillean titbits during the vin d'amitié. We got stuck with the classic omnipresent brioche, a dense type of bread with the consistency of not yet completely cured concrete and some biscuits which could have come from a Sainsbury tin. However, the wine was ok!
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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Fear of terrorism

In January 2015 France was once more confronted with the cruel truth of reality: a small but determined group fanatic militants appeared to be able to paralyse a whole country.

Place de la République - Paris: after 7 January 2015
The French were confronted with the state of emergency, armed soldiers appeared in the streets and near possible "vulnerable" targets, scanners appeared at the entrance to museums and other public buildings, in a word, France was started out of its lethargy and a number of sometimes rather draconic measures were taken to prevent a repetition of the Charlie Hebdo murders.

Place de la République - Paris: after 7 January 2015
That one cannot prevent these things happening, no matter how hard one tries, was proven again by the bloodbath caused in November 2015, again in Paris. Anyway, doing something is better than doing nothing at all, and that fear is not restrained to Paris alone but has spread throughout France can be deduced from the following anecdote.
On a Wednesday night, to go to our weekly taichi-lessons in a gymnasium, we always park in a parking area opposite another school. One evening however all parking spaces, except for one disabled parking space, were cordoned off with a few barriers connected with red and white tape.

Rue du 19 Mars 1962 - Cluny: after 13 November 2015
Assuming that the parking spaces were cordoned off for works in the day time, we shoved a barrier aside and parked our car where we normally park. That went o.k. for a couple of weeks, until the tape disappeared one day to make place for more metal barriers. We had no other choice but to park half on the street, parallel to the barriers.
The "works" however seemed to be a never ending story. And finally we decided to read what the decree of the city council, pinned to one of the barriers, said.

Rue du 19 Mars 1962 - Cluny: na 13 november 2015
It appeared that the headmaster of the school opposite wanted to create a safe zone around his school, inspired by the terrorist attacks of November 2015. Hopefully potential terrorists will not be clever enough to use a vehicle with a disabled sticker….

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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Guitares en Cormatinois 2016

Like every year, there will be a new episode of our own guitar festival with all concerts in the Romanesque church of Chazelle.

The church of Chazelle
Apart from some new artist (at least for us until now), this year will also see the (welcome) return of some repeated offenders.
In chronological order:
Saturday July 9 (20h00): Duo Duende, 2 classical guitarists with a program entitled "Carmen, etc…". No doubt some transcriptions of Bizet's music will be brought into the limelight.
Sunday July 10 (17h30): Bernard Bruel chante Brel, a singer / guitarist bringing a program with mostly songs written and sung by Jacques Brel. Knowing the great liking many French have for artists interpreting or even imitating a great artist from the past, I would not be surprised if this concert will draw a full house.

Emmanuel Rossfelder
Sunday July 17 (17h30): Emmanuel Rossfelder, a very classical guitarist, renowned nationally as well as internationally, who has performed regularly in Cormatin throughout the years. We are certainly expecting a full house tonight. Good wine need no bush.
Saturday July 23 (20h00): Meridianu, a Corisican group bringing Corsican polyphonic music. Corsican music is totally unknown to me; I am anxious to find out!

Full house: sorry!
Sunday July 24 (17h30): Irish kind of, a French group from Grenoble bringing Irish folk music. This group performed last year for the first time in Chazelle, whereby we actually sold more tickets than available. The volunteers had to stay outside and quite a number of people had to be turned down.

The program for 2016
The above run-down does not imply that the concerts with a concise description are not worth going to! It only implies that those who would like to get tickets for the other three concerts at any price are wise to make a reservation.
Reservations can be made by phone: 03 85 50 19 06 or 06 88 40 91 73. One can also send us an email, and we will take care of the rest.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

A recurring Ascension Day outing

Eglise Saint-Martin - Chapaize
Since 2007, when we saw an announcement for a concert by Roundelay in the beautiful Romanesque church of Chapaize, we have been present every Ascension Day in that church ever since. The Dutch (Madrigal) Choir Roundelay, specialized in Early Music, performs there each year on that particular day.

Roundelay 2016
This year they celebrated their tenth concert in Chapaize, from which we could figure out that we had attended all their concerts in that church.
Each year they have a different repertoire, and each year they draw a full house. Just to find out where in the Netherlands this choir is based I have been searching the internet, but to no avail.

Roundelay o.l.v. Renée Kartodirdjo 2013
Until I got this bright idea to search for the name of the conductor, Renée Kartodirdjo. With a (Javanese) name like that the chances to stumble on the wrong person are quite slim. The lady in question lives or has lived in the Southern part of the Netherlands (Noord-Brabant), and is or was the artistic leader of the Ensemble Ariosto.
I quote: "The Ariosto Ensemble, performing since 2002, is a project ensemble, varying its membership per projected programme".

Roundelay 2013
On their website I noticed a number of faces I recognized from Roundelay, hence Roundelay could well be one of the occasional groups recruited from the Ariosto Ensemble. They ended up in Chapaize because one of Roundelay's singers has a (most likely second) house in Chapaize.
Although I am not knowledgeable when it comes to Renaissance and early Baroque composers, I have found in the diverse programs several well-known names, like those of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, William Byrd, John Dowland, Josquin des Prez.

Roundelay 2013
Whether the Ariosto Ensemble is still alive I do not know; their website has been updated for the last time in 2015, as was their Facebook page.
However, as long as Roundelay keeps returning to Chapaize, we should not complain!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Eating your way through the vineyards

In the recent past we have participated twice in the Balade Gourmande Ladoix (21), somewhere near Beaune in the Côte d'Or.

Ladoix - the start
A village not far from us, where we have friends, organised each year a bustrip to Ladoix, and we could join them. The walk of approx. 5 km was set out through the numerous vineyards around there, with at every stop on the way one course of a full set lunch. Excellent first class wines from various caves in the area flowed freely with each course.

Ladoix - the walk
The vineyards are beautifully green at that time of year, the food was excellent, the wine even more excellent, and when the weather does not play any dirty tricks the day will be an unforgettable one. But of course there is a price tag attached to something like this: in 2016 the inscription costs € 65 pp, and the bus fare comes on top of that.

Ladoix - a stop
The menu (Ladoix 2016):
Kir avec gougères
Duo de persillé & paté en croûte de canard, son confit d'oignons & petites tomates accompagnés d'un Bourgogne aligoté
Rillette de sandre & petits légumes, mousse d'écrevisse accompagnés d'un Ladoix Blanc 1er Cru
Brochette de joue de boeuf & pommes fondantes à la bourguignonne accompagnées d'un Corton Grand Cru dégusté en son terroir
Boîte de fromages affinés et découverte des Ladoix & des Ladoix 1er Cru
Dessert & Crémant de Bourgogne

Ladoix - getting your wine
The price was the main reason why the village started looking out for something similar, but cheaper. And that turned out to be the Marche Gourmande in Rully (71), 6 to 8 km, end of April. Inscription here was only € 25 pp, without bus fare, and there was an optional visit to the Rully Château for € 8.00.

Rully - château
The menu (Rully 2016):
Kir avec gougères
Terrine de noix de Saint-Jacques, tartare de tomate, salade
Jambon braisé petits légumes, sauce forestière, pommes rissolées aux herbes et échalotes
tarte amandine & Crémant de Bourgogne

Rully - the landscape
Comparing two similar events is almost a must, so here we go. A price / quality comparison makes Ladoix expensive and excellent, and Rully cheap and good. Overall however Ladoix comes out as the big winner, on all points.
Quality: Ladoix is considerably better, certainly the wines on offer.

Rully - a stop
Time of year: Ladoix leads again; early July everything is green, end of April all vines are still bare. Besides the chances on a nice warm day are considerably higher in July than in April.
Ambiance: the walk in Ladoix is entirely going through vineyards, the one in Rully leads for a big part through housing in villages and hamlets. Rully has 4 timeslots, for approx. 30 persons per group.

Rully - cheese platter
In our case "our" village was divided into two groups of 25 each, leaving the starting point with over half an hour interval. In Ladoix they have a lot more timeslots, and for bigger groups. Rully accommodates approx. 120 people, Ladoix well over 3000. And this massive turnout makes the whole event more festive; it is not over-crowded but makes it more like a major happening compared to a walk for a handful friends and acquaintances around Rully. The pictures of both events speak for themselves.

Rully - one of the wines
For me the conclusion is clear: even though Rully offers quite a nice day out at a very reasonable price, I would choose for Ladoix any time, despite the steep price. Ultimately the ambiance is certainly worth something!

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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Swan Lake

Recently my eye was caught by an announcement in our local paper of the ballet "Swan Lake" performed by dancers and orchestra of the National Opera of Russia in the Parc des Expositions of Chalon-sur-Saône.

Poster (internet)
That is a ballet we know quite well, which we have seen a number of times in the past at various locations, and which we certainly would not mind to see again. At the bottom of the article there was a phone number given: so what would stop us? The phone number appeared to belong to the local Tourist Office, where they could only tell us that the tickets were most likely for sale at the Supermarkets. At the "Ballet" section of your local Coop? We did not think so, and decided to search the internet.

Parc des Expositions - Chalon-sur-Saône
It turned out to be possible to buy on-line tickets which we could print out ourselves, so within no time we were geared up for an old fashioned outing. However, the outing was not as old fashioned (plush chairs, a foyer) as we thought it would be. The Parc des Expositions appeared to be a big hall, specially built for fairs and the like (in hindsight the name could have been a give-away, duh….).

Stange and seats for the orchestra
For this show the hall had been transformed into a theatre, with a stage, places for the orchestra and a big number of uncomfortable seats at ground level in front of the stage and a number of seats, amphitheatre-wise, at the back of the hall. One had either a reasonable view on the stage from far away, or a good view on what was happening on stage hoping that those sitting in front of you were midgets or toddlers. We found out that we had chosen the latter option, however without a no-dwarf no-toddler guarantee…

The seats
Very un-French the show started spot on time (20h05), and that was a novelty for us. Photographing and filming was strictly forbidden, and so were switched on mobiles. They would interfere with the microphones (an argument I had never heard before, however, it worked!). The pictures of the ballet in this blog were nicked from the internet.

Swan Lake (internet)
Despite the venue and the seating arrangement the evening was worth its while. The orchestra played very good, and the dancers (although not Bolshoi class) gave an excellent show. In the end it worked out quite well; with a big classical ballet like this, the draw-back (wringing your neck in all sort of bends to see something) sound much more dramatic than it really was.

Swan Lake (internet)
Certainly in scenes with big quantities of dancers on stage, each spectator could focus on a spot on the stage where he or she had a good view on what was happening. And now we are looking out for the Nutcracker…..

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Government Gazette, or Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (part 6 of 6)

The Government Gazette
The last spasm related to my naturalisation was sending off the paperwork concerning my partner's name. Scanning was a bit tricky whilst on holiday, however, taking a picture in JPEG format was no problem and was just as good as a scanned copy. On March 14 we were at the consulate in Paris, received "THE" document (the excerpts from birth and marriage certificated I had already scanned beforehand), and the same day all documents and my answers to her questions were mailed to the Service Central Etat-Civil.

Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
Of course we had no idea how everything would develop from there. However, on April 4 an e-mail ended our misery and despair: March 26 my dossier had been approved, and within a few weeks the decree regarding my naturalisation would be published in the Journal Officiel (the French Government Gazette). However, where does one buy a Government Gazette? Not at one's local Tabac, that is for sure!

What does he have to do with it?
And then it was again: wait, wait, and wait…. Finally Saturday 23 April the long awaited letter from the Ministry of the Interior landed in our letterbox: my naturalisation as a Frenchman was registered in the "Journal Officiel" of (Sunday!) 3 April by decree no. 13. Once knowing this it was just a matter of an internet search, and bingo, there was the decree of approx. 30 pages. With Photoshop it was a doddle to move my name out of the approx. 1200 to a prominent place just under the heading of the decree. Within six months the remaining paperwork should be finalized: a letter from the French President, the Livret de famille français and, who knows, maybe a blessing from the Pope.

Excerpt from the French Gazette of 3 April 2016
An overview of the road towards French citizenship:
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (deel 1 van 6) How to become French?
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (deel 2 van 6) The dossier
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (deel 3 van 6) The interview
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (deel 4 van 6) Bureaucracy
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (deel 5 van 6) What's in a name….

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The "Broken windows" theory

In September 2013 we were in Saint-Christophe-en-Bresse to have a look at the church, and approx. half a year later, in April 2014 we were there again to take some more pictures.

The picture that was found
The first time we were there, there were some workers busy at the entrance, but the second time we had the church all to ourselves. However, what I did not spot was the broken stained glass window in the oculus above the entrance door.
Assume you want to have the window repaired, but you have no pictures available, and the stained glass restorer would like to have at least an indication of what the original window looked like.

The broken window
Well, the internet might bring relief. The person in charge did a search on "her" church, found a not very detailed picture, reduced considerably not to make the site "Bourgogne Romane" too heavy, showing the by now stampsize window, and found the name of the person who took the picture. Via the telephone directory she finally ended up with me.

The old window (1)

Once it was clear what the woman wanted, a solution was quickly found. I (fortunately) save all my photographs in highest resolution, which means that I can blow up a small detail and still have an acceptable image. Whether this is good enough for the stained-glass restorer is not yet clear, but it is in any case better than nothing.

The old window (2)
One day we will revisit the church for a third time once the broken stained-glass oculus has been replaced.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

What's in a name…, , or Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (part 5 of 6)

Court ruling
When I was asked by the French Ministry of the Interior to produce the court ruling concerning my divorce, I was unpleasantly surprised. The Préfecture in Mâcon had accepted the excerpt from the Dutch authorities which stated clearly when and from whom I was divorced, and I assumed that what was good enough for civil servant X should be good enough for civil servant Y. However, arguing with civil servants, no matter their nationality is by definition a lost cause, hence …..
After taking that hurdle early February 2016 my paperwork was most likely in order, and after that I could do nothing but wait, wait, wait…

Service Central Etat-Civil - Nantes
One day before we (on 12 March 2016) were off for a week's holiday in Paris I received a phone call from a lady working in Nantes, at the Service Central Etat-Civil, Département Établissement, whatever that may be. She confirmed that my paperwork was in order (pfff…), but that she still needed some information from me. It appeared that she was creating a complete new file, with birth, marriage, divorce etc. certificates, all in French this time, following French rules. Her first question was how I would like to be registered: as "Cornelis-Gerardus" or "Cornelis, Gerardus". That question was easily answered. Her second remark concerned my surname: however, here I was not given a choice. I will enter French history as "Van Halderen", not as "Halderen, van". One can live with that; it is always a big surprise how I have been registered in shops, with doctors, hospitals etc. Where to look, under V or under H?

British consulate Paris
Her last question was more problematic. My partner is a British citizen, and in England people are or were more or less free to change their name if they wished to do so. As a widow she had chosen to keep the surname of her deceased husband. Her passport only refers to Nixon; her maiden name Mullin is nowhere to be found. The French have a problem with that concept; it is a bit similar as in the Netherlands, where one is registered as Mrs. Nixon born Mullin. However, the name Mullin could not but after extensive searching be connected to the name Nixon, and that was something the lady from Nantes could not handle. She had a list of countries (like Russia) where one could legally and officially change his or her name, but the United Kingdom was not on that list.

Letter from the consulate
What to do about this? Well, that turned out to be relatively easy. Once we arrived in Paris we contacted the British consulate. They knew about these sort of problems, and they produced a bi-lingual document stating that the name in your passport is your legal name, and together with a birth and marriage certificate of my partner and of her parents that should satisfy the Lady in Nantes.

To be (hopefully soon) continued!

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