Saturday, 27 March 2010


A couple of years ago - we had just moved to France - we were regularly driving around to discover the area where we lived. On one of those outings we noticed quite a few brand-new direction signs; some said Bonnay, some said “jonquilles”, others were in the shape of a daffodil or had a daffodil painted on it.
In this area it is not uncommon that villages like Bonnay set out organised walks or cycle trips, whereby these randonnées often carry poetic names like “jonquilles” (daffodils) or “jouvence” (source, fountain). We decided to follow the signs, but at some stage the signs disappeared, and we did not get any wiser. Some years later - by then we had made some friends in that area - we found out that those signs were put up in spring, pointing towards areas in the woods where wild daffodils flowered. This spring (spring had literally just broken out, and that is how winter ends here) we went over to see our friends, and noticed the “jonquilles” signs. Our friends told us, what a good place was to look for these daffodils, and last Saturday we took the camera, got into the car and drove off to the woods around Bonnay in search of the French equivalent of the Dutch bulb-fields. When we arrived there, there was hardly a car to be seen on the grass field near the forest. We were obviously too early; one could see the daffodils, and plenty of them, but there were no flowers yet. Anyway, we had a pleasant walk, and decided to come back in a couple of days. Last Wednesday, it was beautiful weather, we went out to the wood again.
This time the field that served as a parking area was swarming with cars and people. We had come at the right time, at least that is what we thought, because people emerged from the forest with arms full of daffodils (and that is no exaggeration!). As is common around here, the “foyer rural” of a nearby village had set up a drinks stall, where one could buy a refreshment at very reasonable prices.
Once we entered the wood we realised how much damage can be caused by a horde of “nature lovers” in a relatively short period of time. Where once daffodils had flowered, it looked like a pitch where a number of gladiators had staged a fight. The only flowers that had escaped the pillage, were hidden under the thorny branches of a bramble bush. The few photographs I managed to take are of the daffodils that could not be picked without cutting open your hands. Anyway, it looks like if I ever would like to see a field of daffodils in full glory, I will have to go back to the Netherlands, to admire them in or around Keukenhof....

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Tour de France 2010

Cycle-racing in France is, like in Belgium and the Netherlands, a big thing. As soon as there is talk of a cycling event, no matter how big or small, they are omni-present; men, and sometimes women, dressed in brightly-coloured lycra, bent over their handle bars, whereby the first guy often shouts out loud and inarticulate words, or raise a hand or an arm to warn the crowd behind him for a pothole in the road, a walker, a parked car, or an aged person crossing the road.
And events there are plenty in France. In June, when the Tour de France fever hits France once again, many cyclists throughout the country start their own modest Tour de Village, Tour de Département, Tour de Région or even Tour d’Environnement. And each of these lycra-clad people has his own hero to project himself onto: Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich, Indurain, LeMond, or for the older ones Hinault, Mercx, Anquetil, Bahamontes...
Also Cormatin is not spared this ordeal. Last year, 2009, the Route de Saône-et-Loire (a race of four stages) passed through Cormatin. Hours before hand the roads were closed, in order to ensure free passage for the breakaway or for the peloton thus reducing the chance of nasty accidents. But this race is nothing compared to the real French classic, the Tour de France.
In 2006 the Tour did not (yet) pass through Cormatin, however the finish of the eighteenth stage was in Mâcon. Reason for some of our fanatic cycling fans to get on their bikes and cycle to Mâcon to experience the spectacle. They have been regular returnees to our campsite ever since! The next day the Tour continued starting in Le Creusot and finishing this time trial in Montceau-les-Mines. No doubt the cyclists were brought to Le Creusot by bus or train.
In 2007 the sixth stage (between Semur-en-Auxois and Bourg-en-Bresse, approx. 200 km) passed throug our village, Cormatin. From well before lunch until approx. 17h00 quite a number of roads were closed, amongst them the main road D981 from Cluny direction Givry vv., thus making space for the passing of the caravan followed by the cyclists. The circus certainly was in full swing; an endless row of hooting cars “decorated” with adverts, driving through the village at neck breaking speed, in the meantime throwing promotion material into the crowd; hundreds of spectators of whom several threw themselves almost in front of the cars in order to obtain that wonderful cardboard sunshade....
And then finally the climax, a coloured band travelling so fast that the faces of the racers were no more than a vague blur. That particular year we had quite a few campers on the site who had chosen to stay with us especially for this occasion. A couple of them were very keen to see an intermediate sprint at Brancion. Unfortunately they never made it, partially because of road closures and partially because they did not have a detailed enough map to avoid the main roads....
In 2010 anothe stage starts nearby Cormatin. The seventh stage starts on Saturday 10 July 2010 from Tournus (25 km) for a stage of 161 km to Station les Rousses. We are really curious which of our cycling die-hards will be staying with us again!

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Monday, 1 March 2010

The tempest

The short slideshow accompanying this Blog shows some pictures of the flood in the Netherlands in February 1953 and France in February 2010.

Whenever there is a gale blowing around the house I start feeling restless and uneasy. It brings back memories of the big flood of February 1953 in the South-Western part of the Netherlands, which inundated a big part of the country. I was a child then; I was not allowed to go to bed that night, which I, as a child, thought was extremely exciting.
My mother had prepared a little bag with “valuables”, which stood in the corridor, ready to be taken with us in case we had to be evacuated. I lived in Delft at the time, which lies approx. 1 meter below sea level. My father was glued to the radio (of course we did not have TV in those days) waiting for the message that one of the crucial dikes near Rotterdam had caved in, in which case Delft and surroundings were under serious threat of being inundated.
The days after the tempest were also very strange; my school was a collection point for clothing and blankets for those who lost their home due to the flood. Also slowly film coverage became available in the news reels of the cinemas; as said before, TV was hardly known then. When the French coastal region was under “vigilance rouge” (the highest alarm level) Burgundy was under vigilance orange. Contrary to February last year, when we were severely hit by a tempest, this time Xynthia skirted Burgundy. However, in the evening news of February 28 I recognised the same images; houses just poking out of the water, people being carried out of their houses, helicopters rescuing peoples from roofs....
The death toll in the Netherlands in 1953 mounted 1800; the flood in France made approx. 50 deadly victims. And no matter how different the scale of both events was, the desperation transmitted by the TV images was he same in 1953 as in 2010.

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle