Saturday, 25 July 2015

Belgian jokes

How many Belgians does it take to change a light bulb?

Five; one on the ladder to hold the bulb, and four to turn the ladder around. This sort of joke, very popular in the Netherlands at some stage, came to mind when we wanted to visit the museum in Mont Saint-Vincent, and we saw the museums employees busy trying to open the door with chisels, hammers and screw drivers. How many employees do you need to open a closed museum? Five; one to hold on to the door and four to demolish the walls around it.

Musée Jean Régnier
This museum is supposed to be open between April and October on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from 15h00-18h00. On a beautiful sunny day in June we decided to visit the museum, and found two attendants waiting at the door, at 15h15. They were supposed to man the museum, but the man with the key was delayed. Never mind, we could have a look at the church in the meantime. When we returned at 15h50, we saw the keyholder together with the attendants working at the door.

According to the keyholder, the door handle prevented the key from turning around, and hence the door handle had to be removed. We decided to visit the mediaeval garden whilst waiting. When we returned, at approx. 16h10 there were five of them trying to force their way in.
We do not give up easily, but there are boundaries….
My only remaining question now is: if the museum has been (in theory) open approx. 20 times between April and mid-June, should opening the doors for the 21st time be so difficult?

The mediaeval garden
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Freebee

We are doing voluntary work for the Festival "Guitares en Cormatinois" and our great leader Guy Touvron, who resides in Paris and is a well-known classical trumpet player, organises the artists for the festival. Hence he is regularly in contact with musicians and impresarios.
My Freebee
Not so long ago we received a mail in which Guy reported that he had received two free tickets for the Orchestre Arabo-Andalou de Fès conducted by Mohamed Briouel in Chalon-sur-Saône. The secretary of the festival had forwarded the mail with the remark "I do not think anybody is interested in this, but….". However, since we have always been interested in what is nowadays called World Music, we decided to gamble on the fact that nobody would be interested, and said that we would love to go.
The leader of the orchestra
That turned out to be a good gamble, and a week later we had places in the Espace des Arts in Chalon-sur-Saône. There were no empty chars in the auditorium (seats approx. 1200), and I was a bit surprised that the spectators were not mainly people of North-African extraction. Chalon has quite a big population of North-Africans, resulting in a very interesting, lively and colourful Thursday market called the Arab market by the locals. The majority of the spectators consisted of European concert-goers dressed in their Sunday best.
The orchestra consisted of eight men, playing resp. a cello, two violins and an alto violin, a rebab (Arabic fiddle), an oud (Arabic lute), a tambourine and a drum played with the hands. All eight of them sang as well. They played a type of music I was not very familiar with, but clearly Arabic music of some description. The singing was Arabic, and it would not surprise me if flamenco singing has been influenced by this form of singing in a dim and distant past. The group gave a concert that lasted, without a break, for slightly less than two hours, playing tunes of between five and ten minutes each.

Orchestre Arabo-Andalou de Fès
All in all, we had a very enjoyable evening, with excellent music, and on top of that it had not cost us a penny. Having said that, if I had known the orchestra beforehand and had seen the posters, I would have happily dished out € 23 pp!
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 11 July 2015


One of the shops that has been empty for a long time is situated near Pizz’a Marco. For a long time it looked like there was going to be some sort of furniture shop or an interior decorator, but this spring, out of the blue, a delicatessen Les Saveurs de France opened its doors.

Les Saveurs de France
It advertises itself as épicerie fine and traiteur (caterer). Cormatin already has one épicerie/rôtisserie, and the new butcher is also a traiteur. And apart from that the Caveau du Figuier also sells stuff that would be available in a delicatessen.
The question arises how many shops of this kind can survive in the Metropolis Cormatin… He will certainly have to compete quality-wise with La Renaissance and price-wise with Epis & Riz, and possibly with the Caveau du Figuier as well. We have tried his shop when it just opened, and were content with what he had to offer.

Les Saveurs de France
Having said that, La Renaissance is definitely at least one class better based on our own experience.
Hopefully the new guy will find a formula that makes him (in a positive way) different from his competitors.
All shops in Cormatin are only a stone’s throw away from La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Wait long enough… and you shall find

Text on an information panel in Cluny
Long time ago I read on an information panel somewhere in Cluny that, when demolishing a number of mediaeval houses on the Petite Place du Marché between 1860 and 1866, several claire-voies (decorated stone frames around windows) of those houses were saved and are on display in Musée Ochier in Cluny. Recently another one was discovered in the façade of the château in Burnand (private property, partially rented out as a B&B).

Château de Burnand
In 2012 we asked the Dutch caretaker of the château (the owners lived at the time on Bali) if we could have a look at the building. However, she was very busy at the time, and asked us to give her a call later that year. When we bumped into her some month later in Cluny she told us that the owners were divorced, that she had been sacked more or less on the spot, and that one of the owners would move to France and take care of the château herself.

Claire-voie - Burnand
That was the end of our potential visit to the château, so we thought. However, the Office de Tourisme in Saint-Gengoux regularly organises excursions along the various B&B's in the area, so maybe that could be our next option. Unfortunately, when Burnand was on the program we were not able to make it. Recently we saw another chance: there was going to be a free concert at the château, which gave us a chance to see this (Gothic) claire-voie from Cluny on the pretext of a cultural outing.

Capitals - Burnand
And we found it. The outside of the château is worth a visit anyway. It is very picturesquely located on the edge of Burnand, a village which hosts an interesting Romanesque church. I can be very brief about the concert: after two minutes we had had enough. I rather pay an entrance fee for a professional group of musicians than listening for over an hour to a dress rehearsal of some not (yet) very good amateurs. That is a privilege I happily grant their family and friends!

Concert - château de Burnand
Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.