Saturday, 21 December 2013

There ain't no mountain high enough

After having been finished for quite a while, the climbing wall in Ameugny was finally officially opened in July 2013.

The official part
After having seen this marvel, I thought it was only a children's playground, and the presence every so often of toddlers between 2 and 4 years old was pointing that way. However, the official opening showed that it was more than that. The wall is the pride and joy of of the Mayor of Cormatin, also the president of the CCGG (a cooperation of villages between the rivers Grosne and Guye). And since neither the commune of Ameugny, nor the ComCom can cough up the money for such an extravaganza, other sources of money had to be tapped. The tourist tax we have to pay each year turned out to be the ministering angel. So far this money had been used to lay-out signposted walks and other matters that more or less are in the interest of tourists. Whether this climbing wall will cause thousands of alpinists to flock to this area to practice climbing on the walls of an old stone quarry is however debatable.

The very first climbers
But, that is a mere detail. It looks good in the brochures, having a climbing wall available! For the opening all proprietors who had been paying tourist tax were invited, and our ComCom would not be our ComCom if they would not have invited some big brass to give the official opening an even more official stamp. However, every time it turns out to be the same brass showing up at these events....
Since France is governed along the lines of a constituency voting system, it is not so difficult to find some high ranking representatives who still have ties with their hinterland. There were "the" Senator from Paris, "the" representative in the district council, the mayors of the neighbouring villages, such as Ameugny, Cormatin, Taizé, Bonnay, etc.

Taizé in action
But how do you officially "open" a climbing wall? You cannot really ask some villagers to fall to their death climbing up or down a steep vertical wall! However, for every problem there is a solution. In nearby Taizé, where thousands of youngsters are staying throughout the year, it must be possible to find some alpinists. Two young girls, working there as permanente (long term temporary voluntary workers) were found willing to climb up and down the steep quarry wall. The whole thing took a lot longer than planned, but finally our patience was rewarded by a vin d'honneur and titbits of a local caterer. And so we finally received something useful in return for the taxes we have been paying without grumbling over the last year....

And this is what we came for!
Despite those critical remarks we are more than happy to welcome potential mountaineers at La Tuilerie de Chazelle!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Festi'Vapeur - Digoin

The Canal Bridge in Digoin (71) - The Loire on the right
Since 2006 there is a yearly steam rally in Chassenard (Allier - 03), near Digoin (71). The last place is quite well known, because this is where a "bridge", connecting the Canal du Centre and the Canal Latéral à la Loire, crosses the river Loire, hence a canal crosses a river overhead. Our department is not very rich when it comes to steam events, even though the Parc des Combes, the home of the Mistral locomotive (241P17), also has a working and running narrow gauge locomotive.

For big (?) and small...
The steam event in Chassenard is (in their own words) "le plus gros rassemblement de matériel ancien à vapeur". Whether this is in France, Auvergne or Allier is wisely left aside by the organisers. No matter how big the event is on the world scale of steam rallies, it is always fun to browse around the venue and admire the working traction engines, moving steam rollers and stationary steam engines, as well as vintage cars, such as several specimen of Citroën's Traction Avant, a Renault Dauphine, an old Peugeot 403, a Mathis from 1931... An overview of the 2007 and 2013 rally can be found in this Picasa album.

Neatly lined up
In short, these 2 days are excellent for those who like to indulge in this sort of nostalgia, and when the sun is shining as well on a day like that, what can beat such an outing?

La Tuilerie de Chazelle is very well located for a daytrip like this!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Our shop comes to you!

If one needs something, but one hasn't the foggiest where to buy it, here one can always wait until "the" brochure lands in the letterbox.

"The" brochure is in this particular case a small brochure (A5 format) for a shop on wheels. They sell a lot of garden utensils, but also car accessories, tools, shoes, household utensils, etc., etc. The brochure tells you when the "camion" (there are a couple of firms operating like this) visits your town or village.
For a while now we have been looking for a jack which we can use to tilt the lawnmower to clean the underside of it. This, in our opinion, seemed something that one of those shops on wheels might sell. And lo and behold, the next time we received 'the" brochure, the jack was there, and it was on special offer as well.
So on the big day we went to the Place de l'école in Cormatin with the idea of finding a big lorry. Well, we were not disappointed, even though the lorry was slightly bigger than we had expected.... But at least we have found our jack!

Shop on wheels
La Tuilerie de Chazelle uses the mower to maintain gardens of second home owners.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


This is not the first time I have written a blog about jazz concerts in the area, however, other blogs have been concentrating on concerts organised by Jazz Et Caetera or by Jazz in Trivy.
Gadjo Combo
Outside this circuit however, there are also other concerts that are worth attending. France boasts quite a lively jazz culture, certainly where it concerns music in the tradition of the Hot Club de France. A guitarist like Biréli Lagrène (mentioned a few times in my blogs) can be considered to be the figurehead of this style, although the guy has a lot more to offer then being a good Django clone.
Recently we stumbled for the second time upon the Gadjo Combo. Gadjo is a Romani word, meaning a person who has got certain links with this Gipsy tribe, but is not a Romani himself.
Their music can be classified as Manouche or Gipsy jazz. We had once heard them in the Cellier of the former abbey in Tournus, a splendid venue with excellent music, and this time they were giving a concert on the parvis (the "church square") in front of the Romanesque church of Brancion. This parvis is a high field offering a stunning view over the Grosne valley.
A musical sunset
And again, a lovely evening with a stunning sunset, an enthusiastic and inspired band, an attentive audience and an interesting repertoire turned this evening into a success. They played, apart from a number of Hot Club the France standards quite a few good compositions of their own. Still I find that one of their encores, their rendition of the classic "Les yeux noirs" (Ochi Chornyye or Dark Eyes), is one of the tensest pieces they played during the concert.

The Gadjo Combo performs regularly in the vicinity of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Promoting local trade

This part of Burgundy attracts quite a few tourists, and for a varied number of reasons.

Pot d'accueil - Saint-Gengoux-le-National
Some come here to cycle, others to walk; some are hunting for special wines, others want to indulge in culture; and even tourists with a more contemplative character looking for spiritual enrichment will find what they are looking for, with Taizé next door.
Of course that is good news for those working directly in the tourist trade, such as gîte owners, hotels, camp sites, restaurants, but also local traders would not mind to get a small piece of this pie.

Smoked salmon of Fumage Artisanal de Bourgogne
And that is exactly the reason, why the Tourist Office in Saint-Gengoux in close cooperation with the local traders organises, during the summer months, on Sunday morning between 11h00 and 12h00 a pot d'accueil. During this event the local tradesmen and tradeswomen can promote their produce.
In practice this means that the local wine growers will present their wines, the various pastry cooks will dish out samples of their produce, and the same goes for domestic caterers, an artisanal Scottish salmon smoker, a producer of fresh fruit juices, etc. etc.
In a word, there is something to everyone's taste, and apart from tourists who have been informed of these tastings by the campsite, hotel or gîte they are staying in, there are always those tourists who popped by just to get the town map but who stayed much longer then they intended.

The contribution of Chocolatier Demortière
And of course that is the whole purpose of the exercise. The local traders are convinced that this promotion gives them clientele they would normally not attract to their shops.

The proprietors of La Tuilerie de Chazelle are usually also present at the pot d'accueil as volunteers of the OT Saint-Gengoux.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Cormatin has finally its own, big flea market. Although the village hosts each year, on the 14th of July, a Brocante de Qualité, where one has to pay an entrance fee only to browse, it has always been lacking in the free flea market department. And that is something each self-respecting village around here has, at least once a year. For the very first time this year the Amicale de Cormatin (the village committee) had organised a flea market at the Plan d'Eau (on the green around a big fish pond), under ideal circumstances. It turned out to be a beautiful day, with a calm breeze, every so often a light veil of clouds, hence not too hot and not too cool. The public interest from sellers and buyers alike was so overwhelming, that by 3 o'clock all hot dogs had been sold out, and the members of the Amicale had to pick up their own personal wine stock from home because otherwise there would be no decent drinks available.
Because who can imagine a Burgundian flee market where one could not also enjoy a good glass of wine?

Plan d'Eau - Cormatin
La Tuilerie de Chazelle is an excellent base of operations for a search of brocantes and flea markets.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A guest writer

Map of Clochemerle
A few days ago I received an e-mail from a total stranger, who obviously had read and enjoyed my blog. When I asked him if it was alright to publish his interesting account of his holiday around here, he gave me permission straight away. And as a small reward for his kindness I will attach the map he had been searching for as well!

Hallo Cees,
A few days ago I googled for a city map of the fictive village Clochemerle and one of the search results directed me to your blog. Well, I didn’t find the desired plan there, but as Burgundy is one of my favourite holiday regions and as we do share a common interest for Romanesque churches, classical music and best of all: the combination of it! That’s why I find your blog VERY interesting.
On my holiday trip last summer my first destination was the "aire camping-car" at the old station in Saint-Gengoux-le-National. To move my legs a little bit after the long trip from Bavaria I took my bike off the rack and cycled along the voie verte and into Cormatin. There I saw a poster of a concert in some chapel with guitar and bandoneon music which attracted me very much. Unfortunately I had nothing to take notes with on me - no pen, no mobile phone. So I had to memorize the info. The other day I dropped into the tourist office in Buxy and the nice Ladies there could tell me that the concert was on 23 June in L’Eglise de Chazelle près de Cormatin!
But fate had arranged something else for me. The same day there was a flute concert with four wonderful young Ladies at the Romanesque church of Baugy – I don’t have to explain to you where that is…

Concert in the recently restored church of Baugy
The other classical music highlight of my summer holiday was a concert in Le Pinacle (Saint-Vallerin, about 6 km south of Buxy) where the owners opened their parlour for a wonderful Sunday afternoon event. If you have never been there you really missed something!

Concert in Le Pinacle - Saint-Vallerin
The last evening I celebrated midsummer, the Feu de la St Jean on a hill close to the Grottes de Blanot … which wasn’t too far away from your place.
I’m already looking forward to my next holiday in Southern Burgundy and maybe even a concert in Chazelle will be the musical highlight next time… I will write in advance to the office de tourisme in Saint-Gengoux /Cormatin for information of the musical events in your area and I will definitely keep reading your blog to get new ideas for my next vacation in Burgundy.

Best wishes from Bavaria
Georg Albertshauser

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Priest of Ars

De Priest of Ars
As a non-Catholic it always surprised me to see, apart from the usual Christ, Mary and Joseph statues, the statue of a small guy with a rather pointed nose dressed in "modern", i.e. non-biblical clothing in Catholic churches around here. Asking an American Anglican Reverend (!) whether he knew who this could be, he came up with the name of Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney, in England also known as Saint-John Vianney, the patron Saint of all (Catholic) parish priests.
On a lovely day we drove off to Ars-sur-Formans, a village in Ain (01), for us on the other side of the Saône. Very soon we stumbled upon road signs pointing to "Village du Saint-Curé" (village of the Saint-Priest) - the real name of the village was hardly ever displayed on those signs - and it did not take long to find the place. From the Michelin travel guide I had learned that Ars is an important place of pilgrimage, and not only for priests. Each year Ars is visited by half a million worshippers.

The body of the priest
The whole village breathes Saint-Curé. His house is converted into a museum, the old village church has been replaced by and partially incorporated into a new basilica (1862), which houses the remains of the priest (a rather tasteless grotesque building by architect Pierre Bossan who also built the Notre-Dame-de-Fouvière in Lyon), there is a museum with wax effigies of the priest during the various stages of his life, in short, the former parish priest still "lives" in this village. Inside the Basilica one can see the priest's body, and for the heart of the man a separate chapel has been built.

The heart of the priest
There are, in the bell tower of the "old" church, still six old Romanesque columns and capitals, originating from the cloister of a partially demolished priory church, that of Salles-en-Beaujolais.
More pictures of basilica and chapel can be found in this album.

Ars-sur-Formans is only a day trip away from La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Under steam again

After a serious accident with steam locomotive the "Mistral" (241P17, which is a 482 locomotive) in August 2011 the machine has been out of service for repairs. In April 2013 there was a successful trial run, and since then the train regularly steams through Burgundy. Port of departure is always Le Creusot, and the destinations for this year are respectively Nevers, Belfort, Metz, Aix-les-Bains and Switzerland.

The Mistral at Rully
The trip to Aix-les-Bains follows this itinerary : Le Creusot - Changy - Chalon-sur-Saône - Tournus - Bourg-en-Bresse - Aix-les-Bains, where the train always passes underneath a viaduct near Rully. From this viaduct the spectator has a good view on the train which is approaching from the North.
You have to get up quite early (Rully is one hours driving away from La Tuilerie de Chazelle), but it is certainly worth the trip!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

A literary village

Years ago I borrowed a book from an English friend about the developments around the deployment of a public urinal in a small village in the Beaujolais.

The book was called "Clochemerle", written by Gabriel Chevallier. After having lived in France for a while, I noticed that, no matter how farcical the story seemed, it was an interesting satire on the division that divides France, still, when it comes to the separation of Church and State. One can sense that in "real" politics, but it is very obvious at a local level.
In a nutshell : the Mayor of Clochemerle wants to make a point, and decides to have a public urinal erected, near the church and the girls' school. Being a cunning village politician, he ensures himself of the loyal support of the local "intellectual", the village teacher. The latter is obsessed by fear of intervention from the "conservatives", i.e. clergy (the parish priest) and nobility (the baroness).

Het urinoir
A pious old maid, who is watching this cesspool of vice day in day out from her window, mobilises the conservatives to halt this humiliating performance. The book has a few more story lines, but this is in essence what the book is all about. It is written in a style not dissimilar to that of P.G. Wodehouse.
Not so long ago I learned that there was a village in the Beaujolais which had been used as the model for Clochemerle, as regards to plan, location and inhabitants, sometimes even with their real names. A couple of days ago we visited, for that reason only, the village of Vaux-en-Beaujolais alias Clochemerle. Of course there is a Chevallier Museum, but on top of that, the village square boasts a urinal, especially erected for the purpose. Besides, another building facing the square, has been adorned with a trompe l'oeil with scenes from the book, a mural which cleverly uses light in shadow to suggest reality. The shadow of the man hanging from a rope from a balcony makes this clear.

Trompe l'oeil
I am not so familiar with English book characters, but certainly the Dutch are lacking in fantasy on this front. Most nationwide well known characters from books or novels come from real places like Rotterdam or Amsterdam, very often with real street names as well. Maybe the Dutch are just too dull to come up with a fictitious village or town....

Anyway, those who are interested in the original French version or a Dutch or German translation of "Clochemerle", these are available at La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A lunch for 3500 people

That they think big in Burgundy may be deduced from the following.

Ready, steady, go!
Friends of ours had asked whether we cared to joint them for a balade gourmande, freely translated an appetite whetting walk. I had no idea what to expect, but what the heck, why not? The Foyer Rural (village club) of their village organises every year an outing by bus to Ladoix, where this event takes place on a yearly basis. Reservations have to be made in February, because there are limited tickets available, and in March it is normally sold out. So we decided to enforce the ranks of the villagers of Saint-Ythaire, of whom we know quite a few by now.

First stop : the starter
Ladoix appears to be a village near Beaune, which produces a number of prestigious wines.
Every group who registers, get a time slot allocated. At arrival, the whole village was swarming with walkers, not really amazing when one knows that there are normally between 3 and 4 thousand participants. Everybody was provided with a straw hat, a little bag to be carried around the neck, a glass of kir and a few snacks, and after the glass had been downed it was safely stored in the small bag and off the group went, to the starter.

Enjoying the view whilst eating
The walk is about 5 km long, and passes along a number of massive places to eat, where respectively a starter, a fish course, a meat course (boeuf bourgignon), a cheese platter, a dessert and a cup of coffee is served. And of course every dish is amply sprinkled with various local wines.

To summarize this day: A lovely hot summer's day, a light refreshing breeze, lovely surroundings, an excellent meal, a bit of physical exercise, quality wines, good company.... In a word, what more does one want?

Quite handy, this stylish whine tray!

To learn about our corner of Burgundy, click here.

Saturday, 3 August 2013


Why would one not, when addressing someone else orally or in writing, restrict oneself to the absolute minimum?
I would not go as far as speaking and writing in SMS (texting) format, but superfluous phrases like "Dear Sir", a rather tiring body of the message and closing off with unnecessary words like "Best regards" or trivial things like that, are totally unneccessary.
No, we have to go back to the essence of the language. Down with all polite phrases! What we need is something like a haiku, but without this rather boring restriction of the number of syllables!
Recently we received the following email:
Do you have any camp sites available August 8, 9, 10?
Most people would elaborate bit, giving at least a name and address, with how many people and tents they want to come, etc., but lo and behold, we are now living in the fast lane.
Some people pick up new tricks really easily. This is the avant-garde haiku Sue wrote as a reply:
Afterwards she only regreted using "Rgds"....

This proves by the way, that when you approach "La Tuilerie de Chazelle" you will receive an answer, no matter how concise!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dial 999 ....

Is there a problem?
Our power supply is overhead. Along the road and in the fields one can see a number of wooden and concrete poles, holding up the electricity cables leading to our house, the last one in the network. As a little bonus the telephone cable is attached to the same poles. Of course concrete, let alone wooden poles do not have an eternal lifespan, even though our poles looked pretty sturdy and strong. However, the authorities decided we were in for a replacement of our derelict poles. Beginning of the year the new poles were erected and the cables were moved from the old to the new supports. As far as electricity goes, that is. The telephone cable had to be moved by France Telecom, at their own discretion.
One Sunday night we had unplugged our internet box because of a heavy thunderstorm, and when we plugged everything back in at around 23h00 the box seemed as dead as a doornail. Consequence of this is that the phone we use for (free) outgoing calls also had stopped working. Since this not unusual, we waited till the next day, plugged the box a number of times in and out, and finally phoned our internet provider Free. At first they suggested what we had already done a dozen times, and in the end agreed that our problem had to be logged with France Telecom.

Ready to roll!
We would receive an e-mail informing us of the status .... but we could not approach our e-mail. We could check the status on the internet ..... but we could not get onto the internet. Having patience seemed to be the only remedy. On Monday we saw a bunch of workmen fiddling around with the telephone cable. No, they did not come to repair something, that was certainly not on their order form. They came to move the cable. Tuesday we saw different men playing around with the cable. The same question resulted in the same answer. At least towards the evening our France Telecom line worked again, the one we normally only use for incoming calls. At least we could phone out, although not free of charge.

Why not tie them with a knot!
Wednesday we resorted to our portable PC and to Wi-Fi, so at least that way we could check our mail. That day we managed to secure a booking for a gîte, which made us once more aware of the fact that the internet is more or less our business life line. The following day we visited friends with Wi-Fi and drank gallons of coffee in pubs with Wi-Fi.
However, when we came home from a day out the following Sunday night around 23h00, the box had miraculously switched itself on and was working.
Thinking back now we think we know what had happened. France telecom's maintenance programme obviously disconnects users a day before works are taking place, and the program decides that a week is sufficient for the workers to do their job and automatically re-connects after that week.

 photo internet2.gif

It would have been nice however if France telecom would have had the decency to issue a warning beforehand....

For those who still can approach the internet, I can strongly recommend the link to our own website!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Jazz in Saône-et-Loire

This title sounds a bit pretentious, and.... that is what it is. Of course there is more to do when it comes to jazz in this area than what I write about, but my knowledge of the jazz scene in France is getting rustier and rustier, hence I stick to the musicians and concerts I know about.

The Crescent Jazz Club - Mâcon
About the Crescent Jazz Club in Mâcon I can be brief. It is a very small venue, though quite cosy, but I would not have liked to sit there even when Coltrane and Dolphy were playing there at full volume. And for those two normally I "would killa ze bull"... For people who would like to keep up to date with modern jazz developments in the Mâconnais the Crescent might be THE spot around here; for me it is just a bit too far away to go there regularly.

However, there is more to do closer to (our) home, when it comes to more conventional jazz. The association Jazz Et Caetera regularly organises concerts in the area, like at Le Potin Gourmand (restaurant) in Cluny, in Chapaize in cooperation with Chapaize Culture, in Messeugne and in Château Dravert in La Guiche. The assocciation has a website, but that was updated last in 2007... However, I regularly receive emails of their coming concerts.  
A newspaper article about this association can be found here. The programming is a bit droll, but the quality of the musicians is reasonable to good, hence why not enjoy an evening listening to a stride piano player or a boogie-woogie pianist?

Jazz Et Caetra - 2013

A bit further away, but, as the Michelin guide words it "Worth the detour" is the series "Jazz in Trivy". We have seen a number of concerts there, of which the best were those with Biréli Lagrène, without any shadow of a doubt. This year the concert series was opened by another Lagrène concert. That my knowledge of the jazz scene is deteriorating may be concluded from the fact that I went there to see and hear Lagrène, while those in the know obviously came for violinist Didier Lockwood. Lockwood managed to be the subject of a question in France's most prestigious TV-quiz, something Lagrène still has to achieve as far as we know. Even though the composition of the group suggested a new Manouche combo, Lockwood, Lagrène and their double bass player had more to offer than just a skilful imitation of the Hot Club de France. The program for this year can be found on the website of Jazz in Trivy. For those who want avant-garde jazz however, this is not exactly the right place to look for it.

Lagrène & Lockwood - Trivy 2013

To cut a long story short: Those who would like to use La Tuilerie de Chazelle as a stepping stone for an evening uncomplicated jazz music are at the right address. One of our guests booked a gîte for a week, just to travel 130 km for one specific concert in Vienne, and she thought it was certainly worth staying here for that concert...

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Guitares en Cormatinois 2013

The summer has started, and so has the festival season. Chapaize is on the roll, with its concert series "Chapaize Culture", Cluny will not stay behind, and fortunately, despite the fact that "Les Rendez-Vous de Cormatin" most likely has given the ghost, the "Festival Guitares en Cormatinois" will start very soon.
As each year the festival offers 5 concerts, this time fortunately with the emphasis on "Guitar", and even better : instead of 3 or 4 different venues, all concerts will be given in one place, the lovely romanesque church of Chazelle.
I just chose a selection from the illustrious names I can vouch for:

- Eric Francerie - guitar and Jérémy Vannereau - bandonéon with a Piazzola program

- Emmanuel Rossfelder with a guitar recital

- Nicolas Dautricourt - violin and Thibault Cauvin - guitar with a mixed program of classical and jazz; based on the instruments they are playing the jazz part will most likely consist of pieces not too dissimilar to the repertoire of the Hot Club de France.

The prices are reasonable, the venue has excellent acoustics, in a word, what is stopping you?
Reservations can be made by phone : 03 85 50 19 06 or 06 43 66 56 37, or we can arrange tickets for interested parties.
An email will suffice, payment can be arranged later!

Het programma voor 2013

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Something old, something new....

When we entered, like we do every Saturday, Cluny's market, my eye got caught by something I did NOT see. One of the beacons of stability on this market is the market stall from Paula and Suus van der Linden, always in the same place, always with some customers being served; but yesterday we did not spot the familiar blue tarpaulin covering the stall. My first thought was that they had fallen victim to a demonstration against "Mariage pour tous", still a red hot item in France. But I abandoned this thought quickly; Burgundians are not that aggressive, certainly not just before lunch.

That's how it was...

When we had acquired our weekly dose of fresh fruits and had turned another corner of the market, we saw what was wrong: the van der Lindens had traded their trailer cum market stall in for a small truck with an open counter in the side. It looked like one of these driving pizza cars one spots often on street corners. Because we have reduced our wine, snack and hence cheese intake considerably in an attempt to lose some weight, we do not buy cheese from them so often anymore. However, we always stop a minute or so for a little chit-chat, provided there are not too many customers waiting.

And this is the future!

Suus, who is obviously the mathematical genius of the two, had calculated that this vehicle would save them x hours work per week, and hence provided them with a similar amount of extra sleep, in a word, it made their working life a lot easier. We had just finished our exchange of pleasantries when a horde of French customers turned up, of whom I could snap a picture just in time.

For those staying with us in the gîtes or on the campsite, remember: Dutch cheese makes excellent cheese for an apéro, and is very tasty on sandwiches as well. Forget about the slimy Edam or Gouda cheeses available in the supermarkets!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Partir, c'est mourir un peu...

Ever since we live here, whenever we have something to celebrate we hop into the car and drive the few miles that separate us from Bray. Or to be more precise, to La Grange Finot, one of the many hamlets that make up the commune of Bray. The restaurant with the same name where we have devoured many a plate, was run by Serge Curtil, a very friendly man and extraordinary chef, who managed to create an outstanding meal for a very reasonable price.

Formerly : La Grange Finot - Bray

It came as a bit of a shock when we heard that Serge was about to abort mission in Bray, and was going to open another restaurant, this time in Cluny. Everything went rather quickly; a few weeks after we had heard the rumour (at least we hoped it was one) it was confirmed when we walked through Cluny's main street looking for what was going to be a new restaurant. There we bumped into Serge, this time not in cook's costume but in working cloths, who was quite adamant that his new place was going to open in a couple of days. And he certainly had put in some effort, because when we passed by a couple of days later, just out of curiosity, the restaurant was opened and several guests were enjoying their meal.
We should of course very soon try the Serge's new formula; he has stopped, at least according to the announcements outside, serving the classic plat or menu du jour for lunch at a very reasonable price in the bar area, and à la carte in the restaurant proper, lunch time and in the evening.

Rue Mercière - Cluny

We are still hanging on to our main meal in the evening instead of, like the French, having it during lunch. It looks as if the chance to have an excellent meal at an excellent price in the evening has disappeared with the arrival of the new formula.
That his restaurant is now called "La régalade" is one thing, that the sign outside says "Restaurant" and "Bar à vins" however might be a foreboding of something we do not particularly appreciate.
When will we pluck up the courage to try "La régalade"? Time will tell.... ....

For those who prefer to cook for themselves, the two gîtes in La Tuilerie de Chazelle are equipped with their own kitchen!

Who is the first one to call this number?

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Websites and churches

Whenever I use a website slightly more often than normal, there is bound to come a day when I think "Would it not be handier if....". And nine out of ten times it does not come any further then a loose thought, although...

Part of the list of churches on "Le site sur l'Art Roman en Bourgogne"

Ever since I have been looking for information about Romanesque churches in Burgundy, I am using "Le site sur l'Art Roman en Bourgogne" more and more often. This is mainly because the site contains a lot of information on the subject. And since I am quite interested in this subject, I spent more and more time on that site. And indeed, one day I thought "Would it not be handier if there was also a map available, where one can see very quickly what a certain area has to offer?". An email to the webmaster told me that he would like to have this feature as well, but that he had not gotten around it yet.
As a workable alternative I changed my database of churches such, that I could sort that database on specific areas as well, instead of only alphabetically or on rating. A list with churches in the vicinity of e.g. Montceau-les-Mines could be generated very quickly.

Zoomed in on the area of Cluny (Google Map satellite view)

One day my better half bumped into an option of Google Maps. Although making an interactive map was a lot of work, it was certainly doable and not very difficult. After a number of days hard work I now am the proud owner of an interactive map of "all" Romanesque churches in Saône-et-Loire. I can now pinpoint easily and quickly all churches in a certain area, find out how they are classified and find pictures of them. The map itself contains a link to a short explanation of how to use the map.
And what about the rest of Burgundy? I gladly leave that chore for someone else!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Nice is just another four letter word....

On one of our trips, this time into the Bresse (seen from our part of the woods on the other side of the Saône), we bumped into a building so ugly that it almost became beautiful in all its ugliness.

On the braderie in Ciel

The Bresse is a rather flat part of Burgundy, with, certainly for someone who grew up in the Netherlands, a rather boring landscape. One Sunday Ciel, a village in the northern part of the Bresse, was offering a braderie on a mediaeval and equestrian theme. Although we should have known better (we have been around a bit!), we went, basically because it was a nice day, direction Bresse. Once we arrived in Ciel we found a run-of-the mill braderie, with a few extremely exiting contests in driving around cones for horses and carriages, where the mediaeval theme was restricted to some villagers prancing around in mediaeval clothes made from old curtains and towels. Fortunately we had been prepared for this sort of thing, so we could fall back on one of my lists of Romanesque churches which we could visit on our way back home.


One of these churches, not a very spectacular one though, was to be found in the village of Damerey. We had passed through this village before, and we remembered a house with a facade "decorated" with a cross-eyed deer in concrete, a sea lion, a peacock, a panda, a number of parrots.... We had always passed that house with a speed of approx. 50 km/h, but this time, because we were looking out for a church, we noticed that not only the facade of the house was beautified. No, whilst looking down a side street, we noticed that the facade was rather boring compared to the side of the house. Words do not suffice, hence I invite the reader to get acquainted with this wonder through a Picasa picture album.

Château Bresse-et-Castille - Damerey

At the gate we found a sign saying "Château Bresse-et-Castille", and another sign with the name of the creator of this Spanish theme park, Roger Mercier. After we had snapped some shots in silent admiration, and were about to bugger off to see what the church had to offer, Mr. Mercier approached from his residence. It did not seem appropriate to disappear without a word, so we had a little chat with Mr. Mercier, complimenting him on this 8th wonder of the world. He turned out to be a very amiable chap, who had worked for a contractor all of his life, and who decided at his retirement to leave something for posterity. He had worked on it for over 16 years and was very proud that he created something not just in concrete, no, it was all made in reinforced concrete!

Château Bresse-et-Castille - Damerey

We could not leave without taking a picture of Roger aka Alfonso next to one of his creations. We forgot to tell him, that if he ever needed inspiration for something completely different, that he should pop by Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Garden) in Singapore, where something similar has been created on a Chinese theme. Had we not forgotten, who knows Damerey could have boasted, in the near future, an annexe of the ten courts of (Chinese) Hell!

Alfonso next to one of his creations

Looking for more tourist information? Our website has got more to offer than just this!