Saturday, 15 September 2018

Lancharre

The church of Lancharre
The church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption in Lancharre, or what is left of it, once was part of a priory. The original nave of this Romanesque church was demolished in the 17th century, and only the transept, apses, choir and the bell tower are still in existence.

Interior 2012
Even though the church was not open, but closed off with a wall and a door, and hence not directly exposed to the elements, the building was in bad shape. The walls were full of cracks, the plaster was here and there heavily damaged or absent, in a word, the church could do with a renovation. It is always difficult for a commune of this size (Chapaize, 150 inhabitants) to cough up the dough for a restauration.

Interior 2012
However, with a little help from some friends, in this case the State, the Province, the Community, generous gifts from private persons and the revenue of cultural events in the commune, there has been enough money raised over the last 20 years to fund a restauration. The church has been given new stained glass windows, cracks were repaired, plasterwork and decorations were patched up, in a word, the church obtained a facelift.

Interior 2018
September first was the big day: this part of the restauration was finished, and the church was re-opened to the public.
An inauguration is not complete without festivities: there were 2 bagpipe players and a hurdy-gurdy player, there was a lecture about the history of the church, the Dutch madrigal choir Roundelay gave a concert and at the end the mayor of Chapaize declared the church officially opened.

Interior 2018
We saw the interior of the building for the last time in 2012, and comparing the before and after pictures reveal what has been done.
Hence: I take my hat off for those who contributed to the metamorphosis of Lancharre's church!

Roundelay 2018
For those who are really interested in what the church looked and looks I have set up some picture albums:
Exterior of the church
Interior around 2012
The church in September 2018

Saturday, 1 September 2018

The downfall of a pizzeria

A very thick pizza (from Dr. Oetker's website)
Once upon a time, whilst living in the Netherlands, I saw pizzas as huge circular thickly cut sandwiches, with a topping that was usually varying from tasteful to acceptable. Since I am not really a dough-liking sort of person a pizzeria did not rank very high on my list of favourite restaurants. Until one day, in the vicinity of Avignon in France I discovered that when pizzas are made wafer-thin they could be very nice indeed. This held for most of the pizzas I ate in France. When we settled down in this part of Burgundy we quickly found a pizzeria that ranked high on the list of making the thinnest pizzas in the world.

A reasonably thin pizza (from Koopmans' website)
And even though the restaurant recently changed hands and recipes, the quality of the pizza bottoms stayed as it was.
However, at the beginning of this year "Le Loup Garou" closed down for a number of months, and we had no idea what was coming in its place. A boutique? A drugstore? A restaurant offering local specialities? Recently we found out. A new restaurant opened its doors, under the same name with a similar menu: "Le Loup Garou" ("The Werewolf") had risen from the dead!

The old Loup Garou
After the restaurant had been going for a couple of days (never try a new restaurant on its opening day, we have found out) we decided whether the chef could match his predecessor. All signs were pointing that way. The old oven had not been replaced; the machine that produced thin pizza bottoms was still there, in a word, provided they would produce decent toppings as well there was not much that could go wrong. At least that is what I thought. The pizza bottoms turned out to be hand shaped, and unrealistically thick with a very thick edge as well, and what was worse, the edge was toppingless. On top of that the topping of my pizza saumon was not a shadow of what the original "Loup Garou" offered….

The new Loup Garou
Something that had never happened to me happened here. The bottom was so thick and tough, that I could not cut it with the provided knife. After 6 attempts of cutting it the waitress brought me another, sharper knife, which cut marginally better. When I finally had a mouthful of pizza I needed more wine then there was in my glass to work it down. The result: after half a pizza, of which I had removed a 5 cm wide edge, I could not eat anymore. Despite all this (we had paid for it!) we took the other half, without the edges, home. As far as I'm concerned I am waiting for still another owner, and in the meantime I will be roughing it with the other pizzerias in Cluny….

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Musical balance

Duo Atlas - Chazelle Eglise Notre-Dame
Even though the beautiful weather still continues, the summer season, where it concerns festivals and concerts, is drawing to an end. Hence time to draw up the balance sheet!
We'll start off close to home: Guitares en Cormatinois in Chazelle's church. Unfortunately the three first concerts were given during the period of the World Cup Football, which drew even more attention of the population because France reached the Finals and won.

Paris Gadjo Club - Chazelle Eglise Notre-Dame
The number of visitors of the concerts reflected that; Irish Kind Of, Markus Held & Cie. and the Hair Brothers performed for a half empty church. Fortunately, the remaining two concerts filled the church almost to capacity. The Spanish/Dutch Duo Atlas played an excellent classical concert, and the Paris Gadjo Club played for a full house a mixture of Manouche jazz and Brazilian Choro, with the emphasis on Choro.

Roundelay - Chapaize Eglise Saint-Martin
From Chapaize Culture we had chosen what we thought were the best concerts: the Dutch madrigal choir Roundelay gave (as usual) an excellent performance, and the Irish Folk concert with the trio Rachel Goodwin, Hervé Dréan and Gilles Poutoux radiated an enormous amount of pleasure, which was not lost on the spectators.

Quatuor Modigliani - Cluny Eglise Saint-Marcel
For Les Grandes Heures de Cluny and the free Festival Off Les Petites Minutes de Cluny we had this year made a conscious choice. Last year we saw all concerts (7 + 7), which soon resulted in concert fatigue. Like last year, this year had for two weeks 3 consecutive concerts per week, and a separate concert a week later. We had chosen one concert per week, 3 concerts in total. And because we were looking at a Festival and a Festival Off, we nevertheless saw 6 concerts.

Trio Goldberg - Cluny Farinier des Moines
Highlights of this year was a series of string quartets by the Quatuor Modigliani and the free concert by Trio Goldberg with a.o. Bach's Goldberg Variations arranged for violin, viola and cello. Note however, that this does not mean that the other concerts were of inferior quality!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Picnics

La Boulaye
The summer is an ideal time for tourist outings, and how can one better break a long ride in order to stop somewhere for a picnic. We often do that, just the two of us, but we do it also when we have family or friends over. The day starts with a fixed ritual: the car is loaded with camping tables and chairs, e tablecloth, sometimes a picnic blanket, the cool box is filled with drinks, sandwich fillings and salads, and then we are on the move to our first stop. However, stopping at the baker for a fresh baguette is also a must.

Perrecy-les-Forges
Throughout the years we have built up a nice collection of picnic spots. When we travel direction La Boulaye to visit the Temple of 1000 Buddhas, we often eat in the shadow of the church of Perrecy-les-Forges, which on its own is certainly also worth a visit.
On our way to the Brionnais for the cattle market in St-Christophe or for some beautiful Romanesque churches we often stop at the Butte de Suin or by the war memorial in Beauberry. Both locations are high up and offer beautiful views.

Suin
However, we are also quite happy to skip our favourites and trade them in for a spot along a canal, by a lake or a river, or somewhere in the middle of the vineyards. They may not offer wide views, but one can enjoy peace and quiet there.
Besides, the word "Picnic" has an added value as well: when my better half is not so keen to visit another church again, the "P"-word makes her eyes light up, and it certainly softens the blow of visiting churches.

Ladoix-Serrigny

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Guests of honour

The church of St-Chistophe-en-Bresse
Somewhere in March 2016, when we returned from a short holiday in Paris, we found a message on the answering machine of a lady, a certain Mme Bouthier from Saint-Christophe-en-Bresse with a question whether we could provide her with some photographs. We phoned her back to find out what exactly she wanted, and she came up with the following story: on the internet site of Bourgogne Romane she had found some pictures of the church in St-Christophe, showing an oculus in the façade of the church.

One of the enlargements
As I had agreed with the webmaster of this site, he gives me credit for each of my pictures he uses by providing a link to our own website. And through this link the woman had got hold of our phonenumber. We had visited the church for the first time in September 2013, and a second time in April 2014. And because the oculus had nothing spectacular, I had not been bothered to take any detailed pictures; besides, in 2014 the oculus had been broken, and there was not much more left than a hole in the glass.

The broken window
The woman was somehow connected with the restauration of the church, and her question was: could I produce some pictures in which the oculus was better visible, for the stained glass specialist could produce a new window resembling the old one as good as possible. Fortunately I take all my pictures in NEF or RAW format, from which I save the as JPEG files as well. In NEF it is fairly easy to make acceptable enlargements, and adjust shadows, exposure, etc.

After the restauration
That was not really very difficult: I went through my collection, adjusted thee blow-ups as good as I could and send those pictures to the lady in St-Christophe. She was very content with the results and she invited us over to seen the renovated church once the restorations were finished. A very kind and charming idea of course, but often these sort of promises get lost with time.
We were pleasantly surprised when some weeks ago we received by post an invitation of the mayor of St-Christophe, M. Nicolas Bouthier for the inauguration of the church after the restauration. who can ignore an invitation like this? We returned an email containinng an RSVP straight away.

Plaquette during the inauguration
When we arrived there at 16h00 quite a few of the 1100 inhabitants were waiting outside the church for the doors to be opened. we had spotted the mayor quite soon, as we had his wife. When we approached Mme Bouthier to introduce ourselves, she first looked a bit puzzled, until she realised that we might have had contact with her mother-in-law. And that turned out to be correct; we tackled a woman with a typical "mother-in-law"-outlook, who happened to be the "old" Mme Bouthier. She remembered us well, was still grateful for our help and she was thrilled to bits that we had accepted the invitation.

How many people are needed to cut a ribbon?
We were introduced to other people who had been involved in the restauration and from one moment to the other we were transformed from ordinary guests to guests of honour.
By now we know quite well how these things work: the mayor gives a speech thanking everybody involved in the works personally and/or manually, being it the architect or local officials, followed by speeches by the architect, the priest, the delegates of various councils, etc.

Vin d'amitié
When this was all over there was of course the inevitable verre d'amitié in the village hall, where we were treared as guests of honour as well. In a word, we did not regret for one second that we had contributed a tiny little bit to the restauration of one small part of this beautiful church.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The latest from Cormatin

Het oorspronkelijke Café de la Poste
A lot of things are happening in our Metropolis, and some of the changes turn out to be an improvement. The Tabac, which moved quite some time ago from its original location between Les Blés d'Or and La Terrasse to a place a bit further down the road, the ex- Café de la Poste, has traded places again and is back to where it started from.

De oorspronkelijke Tabac
The Tabac sold at its previous and present location tobacco, scratch cards and loto cards; however, it also runs a cafeteria cum snack bar, and has a more spacious terrace at its disposal.

The "new" Tabac
On the vacant plot (hence ex-Café de la Poste) a new restaurant has opened its doors, Chez L'Oncle Jules. We have had a meal there twice now, and were very content with it. After the last wreath laying ceremony they were the ones who hosted the vin d'amitié and the snacks.

Chez L'Oncle Jules (Photo courtesy of S.L. Nixon)
The prices are very reasonable and the quality of the food is good to excellent; a starter + main dish is approx. € 13.50, and the à la carte dishes are also good and reasonably priced. The general criticism we heard (and we agree with that) is that the service can be a bit chaotic. However, that can be a wrinkle that might be ironed out with time; Chez L'Oncle Jules only opened its doors at the end of May. Nice little extra: the restaurant has an upstairs half open room, bordering a nice little garden. Hopefully the restaurant is here to stay.

Dakterras - Chez L'Oncle Jules

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Guitares en Cormatinois 2018

Eglise de Chazelle
Like each year, an overview of what the Festival Guitares en Cormatinois, 17th edition, has on offer. This year will see a number of familiar faces on stage, however, there are also a number of artists who have never played in Chazelle before. For more detailed information do not hesitate to visit our completely renewed Guitares en Cormatinois website
All concerts start at 17h30 and will be held at the Romanesque church of Chazelle.

Irish Kind Of 2016
Saturday 7 July 2018: Irish Kind Of, a trio (guitar, vocals, violin, flute) specialized in Irish folk music. This is their third performance in Chazelle, and so far they always managed to fill the church up completely. We strongly recommend making a reservation.

Sunday 6 July 208: Markus Held - violin, Hilario Yáñez – guitar en Marie Braun – flute with a varied program of classical music. Yáñez has played here before, and Held is also not unknown around here.

Sunday 15 July 2018: Hair Brothers, a duo, vocals and 7-strings guitars. According to their Facebook page they hve developed a style based on jazz and world music.

Duo Atlas - Spanje
Saturday 21 July 2018: Duo Atlas, a Spanish/Dutch duo, guitar and cello. Both live and work in Spain. Their program covers music from around 1200 to contemporary music.

Sunday 22 July 2018: Paris Gadjo Combo, a Manouche Quartet (guitars, bass, clarinet) playing Manouche jazz and Brazilian Choro Music. Knowing the popularity of this sort of music around here we strongly recommend making a reservation.

Paris Gadjo Club
For reservations I refer to the Guitares en Cormatinois website. However, we can also organise tickets for you; contact us directly and we will take care that the tickets are waiting for you on the required evening(s).

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Grandes Heures de Cluny 2018

2017 - Cloître
Again, this year Les Grandes Heures de Cluny, a classical music festival will take place during the summer months, at various locations in Cluny. Below a concise overview of the various concerts in this series. Just like previous years we hope to be able to attend all concerts in this excellent series.

Saturday 16 June 2018 – 18h00 - Presentation of the festival by Guy Touvron, with musical accompaniment by pianist Marie-Ange Nguci. Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev.

2017- Farinier
Sunday 29 July 2018 – 20h00 - Cloître de l'Abbaye – Orchestre de Minsk conducted by Alexander Anissimov. Brahms.

Thursday 2 August 2018 – 20h00 - Fariniers des Moines – Ensemble RosaSolis, Magali Léger – soprano, Guy Touvron – trumpet. Haendel, Marcello, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Bach.

Friday 3 August 2018 – 20h00 – Farinier des Moines – Vahan Mardirossian and Tristan Pfaff – piano à 4 mains. Schubert, Guerinel, Brahms, Offenbach.

2017 - Eglise St-Marcel
Saturday 4 August 2018 – 20h00 - Fariniers des Moines – Augustin Dumay – violin, Vanessa Wagner – piano. Brahms, Mozart, Franck.

Thursday 9 August 2018 – 20h00 – Eglise Saint-Marcel – Ensemble Polygones, Fiona McGown – mezzo-soprano, Celia Oneto Bensaid – piano. Great female composers: de Mongeroult, Bonis, C. Schumann, Pepin.

Abbaye de Cluny
Friday 10 a August 2018 - 20h00 – Eglise Saint-Marcel – Quatuor Modigliani. Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky.

Saturday 11 augustus 2018 – 20h00 – Eglise Saint-Marcel – Ensemble vocal et instrumental de l'Ain conducted by Michel Corboz & Eric Reynaud. Glorias of Poulenc resp. Puccini.

Click here for the full program.

Eglise St-Marcel
The prices of the tickets are at the moment of writing still unknown. From experience I can say that the presention of the series will be free of charge; the tickets for the other concerts will be somewhere in between €20 and €30.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Annecy: Carnaval venétien

Annecy
I have always thought that the date of Carnival was related to the date of Easter: carnival's Sunday is 7 weeks before Easter Sunday, and ends three days after the first day on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). The Dutch Catholic part of the population seems to stick with the religious calendar; however in predominantly (traditionally) catholic France they do not seem to bother so much with the exact dates of carnival.

Annecy
In those towns in Burgundy where carnival is celebrated the celebrations take place during a weekend one or more weeks later then the "official" carnival. In places where carnival is only celebrated as a party for schoolchildren it is often held on a weekday. Sometimes the festivities last a week, like in Chalon, partially indoors (balls, concerts) and partially outdoors with one or two big parades. Scenes one encounters in Dutch Brabant and Limburg (the catholic southern provinces of the Netherlands), where the towns are filled with a seething carousing guzzling mass of people, we (fortunately) have not encountered around here.

Annecy
Recently we accidentally found out that a number of French towns organise something connected to the Venetian carnival. One of those towns is Annecy, a small 3 hour's drive from here. And since we had enjoyed the Chalon carnival twice already (which we found enough anyway), we decided to sign up for a bus trip to Annecy. Not for Sunday 11 February of course, but for Saturday 23 February. We were completely baffled by the crowds there. Annecy's old town is small with narrow streets, and at places it was impossible to move at all.

Annecy
In and amongst the spectators there were people dressed up in elaborate costumes with ditto masks, and when asked they stopped, took an artistic pose, had a photoshoot with whomever wanted that, and then paraded on. There were about 500 people dressed up like this, of all nationalities. There were Swiss, Italians, but also French dressed up like Venetians.


Annecy
Even though the costumes were beautiful, I was a bit put off by the masks. That what can make a photoshoot of people with "real" faces interesting are the facial expressions of the models (if one can catch the expression of course). Needless to say that the masks do not show any emotion at all. My conclusion is, that, even though it was a very cold but beautiful day, one event like this one in Annecy is more than enough for a life time. Having said that, if Annecy one day decides to stage a Carnival in Rio, who knows….

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Ikea-density per country (12 mei 2018)

Ikea Dijon
if you ever want to buy something at Ikea in the Netherlands, you will seldom have to travel more than 30 miles. In France that is slightly different; the nearest Ikea-shops for us are located in Dijon or Lyon, each about 60 miles from our home. And since Ikea Dijon is considerably more easily reachable compared to its Lyon counterpart, we have a strong preference for Dijon.

A car full of Ikea stuff, but no Billy case....
Hence, when we needed another Billy bookcase and some more Ikea stuff, we decided to check the availability of "our" furniture on the Dijon website. That seemed to be the case, although the remarks on the website were a bit ambiguous.
We understood "Disponible sur commande au magasin de IKEA Dijon" to mean: order on the spot and pick your parcel up at the collection counter. For another type of cupboard it said "Disponible à IKEA Dijon", which we interpreted as pick it up from the shelf, pay and leave. However, we found out that the Billy bookcase could be ordered there and then, but that the order had to be delivered to your home by Ikea itself.

This Mackapär cabinet however was available in Dijon
We were advised, if we did not want to pay the delivery charges, we should make another trip to Lyon, where the bookcase was available and from where it could be taken home straight away. Since we did not need the bookcase urgently, we decided to leave the Billy bookcase in Lyon for the time being.

The exreme left Billy case came all the way from Eindhoven!
A few weeks later however, we had to go to the Netherlands, and about ten miles from Den Bosch, the place where we were staying, there happened to be an Ikea in Eindhoven. They had the Billy bookcase in stock, so when we returned to France a few days later, we had a brandnew Billy in the boot, and, it turned out to be marginally cheaper than its French counterpart as well!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The show must go on

Biréli Lagrène & FrancisLockwood
Jazz in Trivy is one of the few festivals around here that does not issue newsletters to those interested; one has to keep an eye on the website or on the posters in Cluny. Last year there had been no concert that suited me, and this spring I had completely forgotten Jazz in Trivy. Fortunately early April I saw a poster in a window where the first concert in the series was announced for 20 April: Biréli Lagrène – guitar and Francis Lockwood – piano were going to give a concert entitled "Hommage à Didier Lockwood".

The Lockwood Brothers
I had heard Lagrène several times in Trivy, even one time with Didier Lockwood – violin, hence this concert seems to be worth its while. The word homage however was a bit strange, like Didier Lockwood had departed this life. That appeared to be correct; Lockwood had died of a heart attack in February. Through Google I found out that Francis was Didier's brother, and that explained the "Hommage". Tickets were ordered on line, and a few days later we went on our way to Trivy to hear Lagrène play.

Francis Lockwood
The plot thickened when we arrived in Trivy: at the entrance I picked up a flyer announcing a concert of the Lockwood Brothers for … 20 April. Obviously the flyers were printed before the death of Didier Lockwood; however, the organisation had managed to replace Didier Lockwood with Biréli Lagrène. The poster however was most likely printed just before the date of the concert.

Francis Lockwood & Thibault François
Once inside the church there appeared to be even more surprises. The announcer told us that also Lagrène could not be present tonight. He had phoned around 18h00 with the message that he was ill, and could not play. Fortunately, like good jazzmen, the organisation had a talent for improvisation. Before the break Francis Lockwood was going to play solo in a relatively short set, while after the break he was going to play a longer set together with the hastily drummed up guitar player from Lyon Thibault François.

Thibault François
To give those the honour they deserve: the organisation deserved a prize with honours for their improvisational talent, and, not having heard either musician previously, both played an excellent set.

Jean Léchère
Congratulations to Jean Léchère of Jazz in Trivy!