Saturday, 25 October 2014

555 yards

Life is not always pleasant when you live in the vicinity of a registered French monument.

location of the butcher, the exhibition and château - Cormatin
And in the vicinity means often within a radius of 500 metres (555 yards). Whatever modifications you want to make to the outside of your property, it requires the approval of an “Architecte des bâtiments de France”. The restrictions can be quite serious. When in Cormatin a butcher’s shop was renovated, located within 555 yards from the Château de Cormatin, the butcher not only had to obtain approval of the colour scheme of his shop, but the architect demanded that a tree, once in front of the shop, that had died and been taken down, was to be replaced with a new one. Obviously the butcher did not feel like planting a full size tree, and he got away with planting a bonsai tree clearly visible on the picture (left hand side).

Butcher's shop Cormatin : The bonsai tree is left in the picture
Not everybody sticks to the rules, as may become clear from the next example, also close to the Château de Cormatin. This concerns the house of the artist (and former builder) G.L., who is specialized in big projects based on examples from ancient Egypt. In the hamlet La Bergerie he has built and opened an “Espace d’Art Contemporain”, consisting of the base of a pyramid, with a great number of Horus statues with fiery eyes surrounding it. After protests of the neighbours he has hidden his work of art behind a concrete wall, which makes the complex look like a concentration camp, but that is by the by.

The pyramid under construction - La Bergerie
His house in Cormatin lies, no matter how you measure it, from the entrance or from the Château itself, well within the magic 555 yards limit. The main difference with the butcher’s shop however is, that the butcher is well visible from the Château entrance, while G.L.’s habitat is hidden somewhere in a side street.
Click here for an album with pictures of the Pyramid in La Bergerie and of G.L.’s house.
Despite the fact that the house looks like this since 2010 (except for the Horus statue and the pink wall paint), whilst in 2011 it received its characteristic pink colour and statue, I still do not believe for one second that G.L. has ever applied for permission for this open air exhibition!

Habitat in Cormatin, less than 555 y from the château
This Egyptian extravaganza in Burgundy lies within walking distance (45 minutes) from La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Film Buffs of the World, Unite!

In France an unbelievable amount of work for society is performed by volunteers of all sorts. For example, in Cormatin a group of volunteers has pimped up the Post Office, they maintain the village hall, they take care of plant and flower pots along the village streets during the summer and install the Christmas decorations in winter, they fixed street names and house numbers on street corners and facades, … It does not cost the community a penny, and the work gets done.

The cinema in Cluny
The Cinema in Cluny is run partially by volunteers as well. One of the most active members is Anne Krief, a firm lady who was or still is present in all sort of cultural committees and who did the programming for the cinema. And she did so to everybody’s satisfaction. She programmed the French block busters, but also the art cinema films, often in the original language with French subtitles. That has always been the main reason why we regularly go to the cinema in Cluny. Everything was running smoothly until the last council elections. The old mayor was ousted from office, a new one took his place, and as the saying goes, new brooms sweep clean. A new head of Cultural affairs was installed in the town hall.

Rue Lamartine - Cluny
He and Anne Krief, to say it elegantly, had slightly different views on cinematographic issues. Still nothing seemed to have changed: September 29 we received the usual program for the coming month, signed Anne Krief, we made our choice, and that was the end of that. So we thought.
Until, two days later, October 1, we received a farewell note from Anne Krief, in which she explained that she had been relieved as an unpaid volunteer on September 1, and was offered a paid part time job instead.

Al about the same subject
She had accepted the offer, and was fired the last day of her trial period. Cluny is a small town, everyone knows everyone, and most people saw this as coming from some sort of dirty trick department. The meeting hall where the council met last Wednesday was too small for all those who wanted to follow the debate about this matter. The former Mayor, Jean-Luc Delpeuch is a very outspoken member of the opposition in the council, and he was definitely not impressed by the “elegant” way this matter was handled. Presently a shop window of a former shop in Cluny’s main street is plastered with notes and letters from villagers, film fans and council members of the opposition calling for the council to reverse this case.

Flaming protest of the oppostion
The next step is unclear. The new head of Cultural Affairs has been appointed by the new Mayor (without a trial period, one might add), and reversing the decision and re-appointing Anne Krief as a volunteer (assuming she would accept it) would make the new mayor losing a lot of face. So how this whole story will end, time will tell…

Back to the Future IV, the cinema in November 2014?
The link to the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle can be found here.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The chicken or the egg?

The contact we had with Monsieur Piffaut of the “Association des amis du vieux Berzé (AVB)" did not stop after our visit to the gypsum kilns in Berzé-la-Ville (see also a previous blog), or with a visit of him and and two of his friends from yet another association to our Tuilerie.

The Roman quary
The last group keeps itself occupied with the maintenance and the management of the Carrières de la Lie, an extensive collection of stone quarries around La Roche Vineuse.
Monsieur Piffaut happens to have relatives in our village Chazelle, and hence he pops by our tuilerie every so often. The last time we saw him he asked whether we had ever visited these stone quarries. And although they stood on our “still to visit” list, we simply had not yet got around to do it.

Opencast mining
M. Piffaut being M. Piffaut, he quickly organized this. Hence soon after his visit, on a Saturday afternoon at 15h00 we waited for M. Piffaut to guide us to the quarries. He turned up spot on time (not very French!) and soon we followed him to La Roche Vineuse, crossed this village, drove to the hamlet of Sonnéré and ended up on the parking area near the quarries. There we were welcomed by two members of the association (whom we got to knew during their visit to us) and the guided tour could begin.

"Unveiling" of a sarcophagus
The stones were partially quarried in underground, partially in opencast mines. The origin of the quarries goes back to Roman times, say to approx. 100 AD. The Romans used the (underground) quarries mainly to mine materials for sarcophagi, and this tradition was continued (in opencast mining) by the Gallo-roman population and later still by the Merovingians. Later, from approx. 1000 AD onwards, the quarries were used to provide building materials for buildings; Cluny III as well as many Romanesque churches in the area will have used limestone from these quarries. One of the latest acquisitions of the association came from Mâcon; the quarries received two sarcophagi (in permanent loan and now on display).

La Tuilerie de la Lie
The menbers of the association do more than just managing the quarries. Some of the members have started a project which they call, jokingly, their “Guédelon”. The object of the exercise is to build a kiln for a brick factory early mediaeval style, where possible with means available in those days. They have succeeded in building a drying shed and a workshop that look like buildings erected before 1000 AD, and they have produced manually and dried 4000 big size (approx. 12 x 10 x 6 inch) bricks.

Ready for the kiln....
For a picture album of our visit : click here.
Presently they are faced with a classic “which came first, the chicken or the egg” problem: How to fire bricks to build a kiln if you have not got a kiln yet? Knowing the gentlemen concerned they will come up with a solution pretty soon!

If only the kiln were ready for the bricks!
The surrounding area of Berzé-le-Châtel, Berzé-la-Ville and La Rocche Vineuse is more than worth a visit, and only a short distance away from La Tuilerie de Chazelle.