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!