Saturday, 30 July 2016

Killing two birds with one stone

Given the enormous amount of artisans around here who occupy themselves with all sorts of handicrafts, the artists have to go through some length to be able to sell their products.

Exposition Belles de Mai - Berzé-la-Ville
They are united in a number of associations, some rigid, some a bit more flexible, which regularly organize exhibitions of their work. One of these associations is the "Belles de Mai" (in winter they operate as "Mères Noël"), that organizes at the beginning of summer and towards Christmas an exhibition in a spot that is also of interest on different grounds.

Gypum kilns - Berzé-la-Ville
This year they had chosen the old gypsum kilns in Berzé-la-Ville. We knew the kilns from a previous visit in August 2012, when we were invited there by a group (Amis de Vieux Berzé) who occupied themselves with the restauration of the kilns. Of course this was reason enough for a revisit.
This exposition gave us a chance to see what the restorers had achieved, and what the artisan hat makers, potters, jewellers, etc. had wrought.

Exposition - Berzé-la-Ville
The kilns had undergone a metamorphosis over the last three and a half years and formed a perfect setting for the exhibited jewellery, ceramics, clothing, etc. The weather, which is an important factor for the success of these events did not spoil the fun. When we arrived around lunchtime (a perfect time to avoid the crowds) all the ladies were enjoying the warmth and the sunshine chatting and sipping their glasses of wine. The whole scene gave me a strange déja vu feeling, seeing all these ladies dressed in white.

Not a Chinese funeral!
That is however something very personal. It very strongly reminded me of the gatherings around Chinese funerals, where a certain generation of mourners is dressed in white, and where after a wake of 3, 5 or 7 days the mourners are behaving as a group of family or friends during a happier occasion than a funeral. Anyway, the "Belles de Mai" had every reason to be really happy and gay!

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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Slaves of the World, Unite!

Revealing the plaque
This year saw the 7th edition of the festival Ourtre-Mer en Bourgogne, and this year's theme for the festival was the abolition of slavery. The association "Amis des Antilles" from Montceau-les-Mines plays a prominent role in these festivities, and the Antillean chairwoman of this club, Mme Christiane Mathos, also owner of an Antillean restaurant there kept her end up during the preparations of the festival.

The plaque
Even though Montceau-les-Mines is not exactly an area of our special attention, the fact that Cormatin and Ameugny were part of the celebrations could not escape us. Both villages played a (modest) role in the abolition of slavery, like Saint-Point, Mâcon, Paray-le-Monial, Toulon-sur-Arroux and Cluny. Had our village not been heavily involved in this politically hot item we would have never paid any attention to Outre-Mer en Bourgogne. So what exactly was Cormatin's role?

The inevitable speeches
The General Étienne Maynaud de Bizefranc de Lavaux had been governor of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), he had had close ties with the black leader of a slave uprising in Haiti, General Toussaint Louverture, he was a friend of Alphonse de Lamartine, the later advocate of a.o. the abolition of slavery, and he was buried in the cemetery of Ameugny.

Lavaux's tomb
Hence reason enough for celebrating a mess in Cormatin's church, unveiling a plaque at the Château de Cormatin, laying a wreath on his grave in Ameugny, followed by a vin d'amitié and a lecture on the subject there and finally a play in Cormatin by pupils of a school in Montceau about… yes, the abolition of slavery.

Vin d'amitié
Unfortunately Mme Mathos' influence did not reach as far as providing Antillean titbits during the vin d'amitié. We got stuck with the classic omnipresent brioche, a dense type of bread with the consistency of not yet completely cured concrete and some biscuits which could have come from a Sainsbury tin. However, the wine was ok!
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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Fear of terrorism

In January 2015 France was once more confronted with the cruel truth of reality: a small but determined group fanatic militants appeared to be able to paralyse a whole country.

Place de la République - Paris: after 7 January 2015
The French were confronted with the state of emergency, armed soldiers appeared in the streets and near possible "vulnerable" targets, scanners appeared at the entrance to museums and other public buildings, in a word, France was started out of its lethargy and a number of sometimes rather draconic measures were taken to prevent a repetition of the Charlie Hebdo murders.

Place de la République - Paris: after 7 January 2015
That one cannot prevent these things happening, no matter how hard one tries, was proven again by the bloodbath caused in November 2015, again in Paris. Anyway, doing something is better than doing nothing at all, and that fear is not restrained to Paris alone but has spread throughout France can be deduced from the following anecdote.
On a Wednesday night, to go to our weekly taichi-lessons in a gymnasium, we always park in a parking area opposite another school. One evening however all parking spaces, except for one disabled parking space, were cordoned off with a few barriers connected with red and white tape.

Rue du 19 Mars 1962 - Cluny: after 13 November 2015
Assuming that the parking spaces were cordoned off for works in the day time, we shoved a barrier aside and parked our car where we normally park. That went o.k. for a couple of weeks, until the tape disappeared one day to make place for more metal barriers. We had no other choice but to park half on the street, parallel to the barriers.
The "works" however seemed to be a never ending story. And finally we decided to read what the decree of the city council, pinned to one of the barriers, said.

Rue du 19 Mars 1962 - Cluny: na 13 november 2015
It appeared that the headmaster of the school opposite wanted to create a safe zone around his school, inspired by the terrorist attacks of November 2015. Hopefully potential terrorists will not be clever enough to use a vehicle with a disabled sticker….

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