Monday, 27 June 2011

Guitares en Cormatinois – Alexandre Baty

Although I do not hold out high hopes that tourists will come to Cormatin just for this festival, it is certainly worth knowing that when in the vicinity for whatever reason during this event, it might be worth getting tickets for one or more concerts. The first (excellent) concert took place in the church of Cormatin and was given by Alexandre Baty, a young and promising trumpet player. He has won various international contests, such as those of Budapest and Prague, plays as soloist with various French orchestras and will move soon to Amsterdam to take up a post as soloist with the prestigious Royal Concertgebouw there. He was accompanied by the young pianist Véronique Goudin-Léger.
The concert started with Vivaldi’s concert for 2 trumpets and orchestra, whereby Guy Touvron, artistic director of the festival “Guitares en Cormatinois” and renowned French trumpet player took care of the second trumpet. The concert continued with Haydn’s well known trumpet concerto, a concerto by Tartini (Italian baroque composer) and two slightly more modern pieces by Vassilly Brandt (1869-1923) resp. Oskar Böhme (1870-1938).
Goudin had reserved Rachmaninov’s prelude no. 6 for herself to show her capabilities as a soloist.
The 19th century church has very good acoustics for this sort of music; it is amazing how clear certainly the high notes of the trumpet sound in this building.
Then of course after the concert there is a buffet for and with the musicians and the volunteers, which was excellent as ever. However, that is not included in the price of the tickets ordinary concert goers are paying….

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Saturday, 25 June 2011


Every year we look out for the publication known as the “Bulletin Municipal 2011” (Cormatin). Not only does this small booklet tell us about the yearly acts of vandalism in the village (this year again the Christmas decorations were vandalised), but also the new village related projects are being announced. Those who were unable to attend the New Year’s wishes of the mayor in the village hall, can still find out what is going on in their village, seated in an easy chair by the fire.
One of the highlights for this year is the start of the construction of a new school, under supervision of the town councils of Cormatin and Malay, as well as of the Communauté de Communes entre Grosne et Guye (CCGG) of which our mayor is also the President. The school has the object to prepare the small kids from Cormatin and Malay for the real life.
Another big project is the erection of a climbing wall near Ameugny. This was already mentioned in the 2010 Bulletin, but the 2011 edition was a bit more specific. There was a small map of the hamlet of Bois Dernier (part of Ameugny), and an ancient stone quarry there was indicated as the location of the climbing wall. Each week I cycle a number of times past this part of the voie verte, but I had never seen a stone quarry, let alone a potential climbing wall.
Some days ago however I cycled down the D981 direction Cormatin, when I saw from the corner of my eye a low rock wall on the other side of the voie verte, just visible from the main road. On the way back I took the cycle path, and after I had crossed the D14 at the Musée du Poilu and cycled past the “Aux Berges de la Grosne” (AKA the pink restaurant) I saw something resembling the remains of a stone quarry along the voie verte, with the dazzling height of approx 4 m (13 feet) and a length of approx. 20 m (65 feet). Once at home Sue and I discussed the possibility of this feature; this was going to be either a climbing wall for midgets, or a playground for the children of the new school. Somehow this conclusion did satisfy neither of us.
The next day we had to go to a client by car, and on the way back we parked at Bois Dernier and walked a little way down the voie verte direction Taizé. The rock wall I had seen earlier, was indeed the foot of an old quarry, there was no doubt about that. But from there the hill rose all of a sudden quite steeply, and through trees, shrubs and foliage one could catch a glimpse of the real quarry. Based on topographical maps of the area, the total height of the walls is in the range of 40 m (135 feet), which makes more sense when you think of turning it into a climbing wall.
I was still wondering around trying to find a place where I could take a photograph, but the rocks were properly obscured. Then I met the woman who runs the pharmacy and her son. We had a little chat about the climbing wall, and she warned me for all the dangers lurking there; falling debris, holes in the ground, etc.
In the mean time I had lost Sue, who had managed to find a path uphill at Bois Dernier, and from the path one had access to the foot of the second stone wall. When I finally had caught up with her, I saw her, glued to the wall like a rather small version of Spiderwoman, shouting “yoo-hoo, I’m here!” at me....

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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Mental arithmatic

On 18 June 1940 General de Gaulle called the French to stand up against the Germans via the BBC from London. Of course this is something to remember, and how can one remember something in France without wreath laying and vin d’honneur? The “Appeal” results in only one wreath laying, at the monument near Bois Dernier. Apart from the low turnout (14 people in total) nothing shocking passed. The mayor read de Gaulle’s proclamation, Monsieur P.’s centuries old cassette deck blurted out part of the Gaulle’s speech followed by the Marseillaise, and then we marched off to…. No, not to one of the 3 usual cafés, but to the Camping Municipale.
The management there had told the mayor that their cafeteria was also more than capable to pour the vin d’honneur, and since the mayor is an honest man, who likes to distribute the commune’s money for these events evenly, the campsite as of now is on the list. The mayor even said hopefully, that as of today we would have a different venue for each wreath laying, until he counted them out on his fingers, and came to not four but five in total!

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Saturday, 11 June 2011

New Wave (part 2 and last)

For those who are following this Blog via Facebook or email: the accompanying slide show is only visible on the Blog itself.

The party in Cormatin started on a sunny Saturday morning at 11.00. All the Conscrits who had signed up, and paid for themselves and their invitees, gathered at the parking area of the Château, and were issued with the hat and rosette of their Classe. The boys born in 2000 received a black hat with a light blue ribbon, the girls of the same year a white hat, men and women from 1990 had a black hat with red, white and blue ribbon, etc.
There was no Classe of 1980 in Cormatin, but the other Classes had the following colours: 1970 - orange, 1960 - red, 1950 - dark blue, 1940 - purple, 1930 and 1920 - white with red, white and blue ribbon. The rosettes had mostly the same colour as the hats, and showed the year the bearer would have been 20 years old.
The party was not restricted to the inhabitants of Cormatin; people from surrounding villages like Malay, Taizé and Ameugny were also invited. In total about 30 Conscrits were involved.

After all hats and rosettes had been issued, the Conscrits lined up for a parade down the high street of Cormatin. But this was not going to be an ordinary parade. No, the Conscrits formed rows according to their Classe, linked arms and each row moved forward as well as sideways, alternating per row, and hence creating a wave like group wondering down the road. This is called the Vague d’amitié (Wave of friendship). At the end of the village the wave turned, and moved back to grind to a halt at the war memorial. There a wreath was laid, a minute of silence was observed, and then the wave rolled on, towards the community centre on top of the hill Saint-Roch. There Conscrits and friends and relatives met for a verre d’amitié accompanied by nibbles. Those who thought that this was the end of the story, are wrong. Next in line was a photo session with a professional, for group photographs of all Conscrits, and individual photographs per Classe. When this was over, it was time for lunch. Everybody got into their respective cars, and the whole mob drove off to Malay, where a copious 6 course meal was served. The meal took from 2 to 6 in the afternoon, and for those who had not had enough entertainment for the day, there was a band who played French chansons and did some cabaret, followed by a DJ who kept everybody going until the wee wee hours of the morning.
Looking back on this day, it occurred to me that had this tradition existed in the Netherlands in the sixties, I might have looked back a bit less harsh on my army days!

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Saturday, 4 June 2011

New Wave (part 1)

France keeps amazing us. We thought by now we must have found out about all festivities and festivals in the vicinity, until again we bump into something new. We had seen banners in the streets before, with rather cryptic words on it like “Conscrits 08” or Classe 06”, but we had no idea what this signified, let alone that these were announcements for big parties.
I automatically associate the word Conscrit with military conscription or draft, and since I have had the dubious pleasure of serving in her majesty’s (Juliana in those days) army for a period of 18 months, I was not really curious to find out more about it.
However, when my partner was invited for a meeting in order to prepare the festival of the Conscrits Classe 0 in the Cormatinois I felt it was time for a little research.
The origin of this phenomena lies in the period of the French revolution, when conscription was introduced in order to have a proper army in stead of having to rely on mercenaries. Very soon a sort of lottery (where lots were actually drawn from a hat) was introduced to keep the size of the army within reasonable bounds. The rich could at one stage actually pay a poor sod to serve in his place.
Anyway, the tradition of a huge party seems to have originated in Villefranche-sur-Saône, a town in Rhône, north of Lyon. The drawing of lots took place early January, and the day before the conscripts had to go to the barracks a big party was thrown by those of 20 years old.
The conscrits celebrated that they had the privilege to serve King (or Emperor, or President) and Country; those who got off the hook even had a better reason to celebrate. And even though conscription no longer exists, the yearly parties are still carrying on. And not only in Villefranche; these parties are nowadays also celebrated in the Beaujolais and Mâconnais regions. They also take place in the Alsace. A slightly different party is that of the Classe. All inhabitants of a commune, of whom the birth year ends on the same figure (e.g. 1923, 1933, ...., 2003) celebrate in the year that ends on 3 a sort of communal birthday party.
It seems that here in the Mâconnais both parties (Conscrits and Classe) are combined into one. In order to keep the length of my Blogs at bay, I will describe the Cormatin party in part 2 of this Blog. To be continued.

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

Friday, 3 June 2011

A foggy day...

And what does it look like on a not so clear day?
There ain't no mountain high enough to tower above La Tuilerie!

On a clear day...

On a clear day ... you can see forever.
Friends of ours are so obsessed with seeing Mont Blanc everywhere they go, that we started to think that there was something loose with them somewhere.
But lo and behold, some days ago we woke up, it was a clear day, and....
we could see forever!