Sunday, 28 June 2009

Randonnée in Flagy

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle
Blog of La Tuilerie de Chazelle by Sue

Randonnées are an interesting phenomenon in France. As far as I can gather, there are two types of randonnées; one where one can start say between 8 and 12 o’clock, and where one walks more or less alone, and one which starts at a fixed time, say 2 PM, where one walks in a group.
We have tried the second type once. The problem is, that the tempo is set by the slowest walker. This combined with the fact that when French people spot e.g. a lily of the valleys on the side of the path, the whole column stops, and does not move again until every individual has touched, fumbled, tasted and kissed the darn flower. This leads to another interesting empiric proof of Einstein’s law of relativity: this type of randonnée that could only take two hours will take in reality four and a half hours.
It may be clear, that I prefer the “walk alone” randonnées.
We set off at 9h45, and started the walk at approx. 10h15. We had a choice between 10, 20 and 30 km, and we chose the 10 km walk. Although Flagy, a village approx. 15 km from here, lies in the hilly area around Cluny (Clunysois), the paths were not as steep as one normally encounters around here.
The start of the walk was well sign posted (normally with arrows on the ground, sometimes with hardboard arrows nailed to trees or posts).
However, after half an hour all signs disappeared on a cross roads, and then one has to take an executive decision. Needless to say, that the decision we took was the wrong one. Luckily we quickly came in a village which was on our “map” (the piece of A4 we got at the start), and from there we were able to meet up with the proper route without too much of a detour. We met a couple of people in the village who had made the same mistake.
When we joined up with those who had chosen one of the longer walks, there were lots of comments about the poor “ballissage”; there were even people who had missed the drink post underway!
Anyway, the walk was indeed a very nice one. The paths were not too steep, most were through woods hence shaded, and the views whenever one reached the top of a hill were spectacular.
And although there were not many stunning churches on this trail, and only a few lavoirs (washing places), we certainly enjoyed bumping into a beautiful old well, and the beauty of the nature in that part of the woods is certainly stunning as well.
We are looking out to the next “walk alone” randonnée!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Guitares en Cormatinois 2009

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle
Blog of La Tuilerie de Chazelle by Sue

Cormatin hosts two major cultural events each year; firstly the Festival Guitares en Cormatinois, and secondly Les Rendez-vous de Cormatin, a theatre festival at the Château de Cormatin.
The first (music) festival is in full swing at the moment. The first two concerts took place some weeks ago, and there are still three more to go. For the first time this year the Festival is spread out over a number of places. In previous years the festival was held in the church of Cormatin, a rather boring building compared to the treasures of Romanesque architecture that can be found in the area around us.
The first concert in the series, a classical concert by Emmanuel Rossfelder was in the beautifully restored church of Malay. This concert, with works by among others Tarrega, Villa Lobos and Bach, was coinciding with the Concours départemental de guitare, the guitar competition for Saône-et-Loire (71). Of course Rossfelder was one of the jurors, as was another outstanding musician from around Cormatin, the classical trumpet player Guy Touvron. Rossfelder’s concerts are always enjoyable, and the surprise of this recital was his own arrangement of some highlights of Verdi’s La Traviata.
Would you like to hear him? Click here to go to Rossfelder’s website
The second concert was an open air concert by a group from Lyon called Zancle. They played a repertoire of Napolitan and Sicilian folk songs. The group consists of four musicians, playing a wide range of guitars, mandolin, flute, accordion and different tambourines. Two of the four man sang as well. The concert was given at the Plan d’Eau in Cormatin. The Plan d’Eau lies at the edge of Cormatin, and consists of a small lake and a branch of the local river Grosne. In the daytime it is an ideal picnic place, but for this evening it was transformed into an open air concert hall.
What strikes me time after time with all the events in Cormatin, is that there is a small group of volunteers who takes care that everybody has a good time. The wife of the Mayor, Monique B., is always there, selling drinks, making wafers, preparing sandwiches; another one who is always present is Pascale P., a very energetic lady who in the daytime paints wonderful pieces of silk for dresses, and is also a council member of the city council. We do not know everybody by name, but for sure all the regulars were helping out, selling and checking tickets, moving chairs, setting up tables, etc.
The strange thing I have noticed about a lot of concerts here in France, is that the musicians tend to go on. More often than not there is no break in the middle of a recital, and concerts of two hours in one go are no exception. The Zancle concert was following this concept. After an hour Mme B. and her crew were getting a bit restless, which got worse when it got later and later. They were going to make wafers, hotdogs, etc., but no pause, no clients, no selling of drinks and snacks …. Anyway, finally the last notes sounded of this very enjoyable concert, and of course half the crowd turned around and headed for their cars. Luckily for Mme B. & Co there were some diehards, who stayed a bit longer for a drink, and there were even people who bought some wafers to to take away!
The last concert in this series of five takes place in the Romanesque church of our own hamlet, Chazelle, and we will certainly be there and write another review.

Friday, 26 June 2009


The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle
Blog of La Tuilerie de Chazelle by Sue

The French are very proud of their past. The fall of the Bastille in 1789 is celebrated with great vigour throughout the country, and every little village has got fireworks on that day, or at least a brocante or vide grenier in the main street, which turns passing through the village into a nightmare.
But a great past has also its shadowy sides. The French have lost a tremendous amount of young men during the Great War, and on 11 November, Armistice day, again every village has a wreath laying ceremony at the omnipresent war memorial.
Our commune (Cormatin) forms no exception. Interestingly enough, Cormatin has two war memorials.
In front of the church there is the monument for those who fell during WWI, WWII and the colonial wars, and just outside the village, near the hamlet of Bois Dernier, lays the monument for those who were deported to the various concentration camps by the Germans. This monument has an urn with sand from Bir Hakeim, a piece of stone with Buchenwald written on it, which was brought to Cormatin from Buchenwald by one of the survivors, Monsieur P., and a quotation from one of the radio broadcasts General de Gaulle made from London in 1940.
The ceremonies in Cormatin follow a strict logic, although, strict…..
The last Sunday in April is the (national) Remembrance Day for the deportees. Until recently there were two survivors of the camps in the village, but now only Monsieur P. is still there. He is the one who knows how everything works, or should work, in the village. A wreath is laid at Bois Dernier only.
8 May is Liberation day, and wreaths are laid at the Cormatin and Bois Dernier monuments. The same applies to 14 July. On the 11 November a wreath is laid only in Cormatin.
That is how it should be. But our Mayor is not always as interested in these things as he should be, and sometimes he is a wreath short, or has one too many, and then one can hear the grumbling of some grumpy old man: “I told you, we never go to Bois Dernier on this day!”.
Not all these ceremonies are well attended.
One of the least popular is 18 June, in commemoration of General de Gaulle’s call to arms addressed to those who lived in France. The procedure is quite simple. At a given time everyone gathers at the Mairie (town hall does too much honour to this run-down building!), and when the Mayor sets the example, everybody goes to his or her respective car, and off we drive to Bois Dernier (about 500 m from the Mairie). That walking is not done, must have something to do with the way the French go from one place to another, which is preferably not on foot. That the average age of the participants plays a role as well, would not surprise me.
This year the participation was minimal. Half the city council was not there, only a handful of Sappeurs-Pompiers turned up, and also quite a few of the “ordinary” citizens were not there. The mayor was supposed to read a letter from the Minister of the Interior, but that part was skipped after consultation with Monsieur P. The mayor put the flowers on the monument, and then there was the obligatory 1 minute silence, which last normally not much longer than 30 seconds. Next Monsieur P. read out the “Appel du 18 juin 1940”. The last part of the ceremony is always the best. Monsieur P. has a very old car, almost vintage, and in the back of it he has a cassette deck. He opens the boot, plugs in the deck, inserts a cassette, and then the racket starts. His cassette deck and cassettes must be as old as his car, which makes understanding a 1940 radio broadcast recording not exactly easy to follow. After the Gaulle’s speech the Marseillaise is played, which sounds like it was recorded under water.
After all this is over, the Mayor invites all participants for a vin d’honneur at one of the local bars (they all get their turn).
And then it is time to clamber back into the cars, drive to the allocated pub, and enjoy a (free) glass of wine. That is also the time to catch up with the latest village gossip.
What one has to go through for a free glass of wine……

Thursday, 25 June 2009


The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle
Blog of La Tuilerie de Chazelle by Sue

After a long life behind a desk in an engineering office, I decided that it was time for a change. Me and my wife decided to start our Great leap forward, bought a house in 2004 (an ancient tile factory) in the heart of South Burgundy in order to start our new life. In 2005 we had packed up all our gear, including the building plans for a small campsite (6 tents only!) and 2 gîtes in the former stables. At the moment, 2009, we are settled in well, the campsite is up and running, the gîtes are reasonably well occupied, and we are enjoying life in this part of France to the full extent.
The thought behind this Blog is to share my experiences with friends and with those who are interested in what Burgundy, and more specific in what Saône-et-Loire (71) has got to offer.
To give you just a hint of what to expect: I live in the commune of Cormatin, a stonethrow away from the religious community of Taizé; Cormatin itself has a beautiful Château (XVII century), and the area around Cormatin is shattered with Romanesque churches, chateaux and fortified castles and houses, vineyards, etc. Towns like Cluny and Tournus have both remains of an abbey which are well worth a visit. Culturally there are plenty of events around here, like the Cormatin Guitar Festival, the theatre Festival Rendez-vous de Cormatin, concerts of high quality are regularly given in Cluny and Chapaize….
And further there are the experiences of living among the French. I have certainly suffered from culture-shock at several occasions.
In short, apart from the beautiful landscape, there are plenty of things to enjoy here!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

My profile

I was born and brought up in Delft, The Netherlands. Marriage and work brought me from place to place in the Netherlands: Maassluis, Zoetermeer, Amsterdam, Rotterdam. In 1982 I moved for work temporarily to Singapore for 6 months. Those 6 months turned out to be 3 years in the end. I still consider Singapore one of the best places I have lived and worked. I really enjoyed working there, and I still have many Singaporean friends. After having worked many years for design offices specialised in the petrochemical industry as a civil engineer, I decided it was time for a change. And the change had to be something dramatic, not just swapping civil for e.g. structural engineering! A number of things helped tremendously; bankruptcy of the company I had worked for for over 30 years, being employed by a compatitor which, at least that was what it seemed, was heading the same way, and last but not least a partner who was also fed up with her employer. And that was the start of a couple of years holidaying in France trying to find the place we would like to settle down in, a few weeks of intensive house hunting, and finally the move from the Netherlands to France.