Saturday, 7 October 2017

Forum des Associations Cluny

Fan form
If, living in this part of France, one wants to take part in leisure activities but does not know where to look, once a year that person is waited on hand and foot. In almost every village of over 4000 inhabitants a yearly event is being organised where each club or organisation has a stand where those interested can get some information about the activities.

Yang 24
In Cluny this is called the Forum des Associations. are you interested in pottery, painting, writing, parachute jumping, aikido, judo, collecting mushrooms, birdwatching, line dancing, donating blood, or just in walking? I would be very surprised if you would not find what you are looking for. That was the way we got in touch with La Spirale d'Or, a club organising and giving lessons in various forms of tai chi.

Fan form
And since we really enjoy what we are doing with this club, we have become quite fanatic members, also taking part in the demonstrations given during the forum to attract new members. We learn, or at least our association teaches amongst others qigong and tai chi (yang and Chen form, with bare hands, stick, sword or sabre). One of the most attractive forms we have learned is the fan form.

Chen 24
The form we are performing has been used during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games of 2008 in Peking; the various parts of the performance are based on diverse Chinese martial arts (Shaolin, Chen, Yang, Kung fu). And without blinking an eye I dare say that the demonstrations of La Spirale d'Or are a highlight of Cluny's yearly forum.

A complete performance of the fan form (approx. 4 minutes) can be found on this Youtube link.

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Café du Centre in Cluny revisited

As I wrote in an earlier blog of the3rd of June, around that time our Saturday's local Café du Centre changed hands.

The big question in those days was when and in what way the Café would be re-opened. At the moment we are a couple of months down the road, and we know a bit more.
The café-restaurant has been re-opened in the meantime, with new staff, and although it looked as if in the first few weeks the amount of customers had diminished, it appears that the new owner has overcome those problems encountered in the introductory period. Again it is wise to reserve a table for our Saturday lunch. And although the menu has not changed since the re-opening (under the previous management the menu changed weekly) it is again a good place for a simple lunch.

Like in the olden days
The service however is not as good as it used to be, but the quality of the steak frites is considerably better ánd cheaper than a few months ago, and that more than makes up for it. A positive sign is that part of the old clientele has returned; we see quite a few familiar faces around the tables. And even though we still miss the previous owner and his personnel we cannot find a good reason to move our loyalty to another place.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Sound and light show

The façade in daylight
Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 01) hosted this year for the first time during various evenings in the summer a sound and light show. The most interesting we thought would be the show projected on the façade of the Monastère Royal de Brou, a beautiful Gothic building with a pure white façade decorated with elaborate stone carvings.

Sound and light show
Apart from this show there were two similar ones in the centre of town, on the facades of the Hôtel de Ville and on that of the theatre.
Because the last two were quite far away from the first one, we decided to stick with the Monastery. Another reason to see only one show was, that Bourg is approx. a one and a half hour's drive from our house, and even though we had waited till early September (when the first show takes place at 21h00 instead of 22h00), this outing would keep us occupied for the best part of the evening.

Sound and light show
We left home at 18h45, and arrived in Bourg well in time. And since there is a café-restaurant located right in front of the monastery, we could watch the show comfortably from behind a glass of wine. The only drawback on such occasions is that there are always some people who feel the need to park themselves on top of a low wall just in front of our table.

Sound and light show
Apart from the obligatory projections (flowers in all sort of colours, the various sculpted parts of the façade in different colours), there was also quite a bit of attention paid to those who had the monastery built, mediaeval history in general and to the way a building of this stature was built in the middle ages.

Sound and light show
The show lasted a good 15 minutes, and especially the projection of the construction of the monastery was very well done. And even though we reached home at about 22h45, I was very happy we had made this "long" journey just for this show.

Sound and light show
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Saturday, 26 August 2017

A facelift

Église de la Réconciliation
Taizé has two churches: the big Église de la Réconciliation and the small Église romane Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. Both are in use by the international Christian ecumenical monastic order of Taizé. the small however is hardly ever used for services; only around New Year's Eve, when there are hardly any guests in Taizé only a few services are held by the monks.

Église romane Sainte-Marie-Madeleine
Because I am interested in Romanesque architecture I had visited the Sainte-Marie-Madeleine a few times. However, the church had two drawbacks. Even though the church is not really in use it is very often occupied by quite a few Taizé visitors, who feel the need to tun that particular church in a meditation centre. That is also the reason why in the summertime it is virtually impossible to take pictures of the interior without having people in the viewfinder.

Church before the renovation (with flash)
Further the church more resembled a burial chamber than a church. The walls were plastered in a sober dark grey (bordering on black), and the windows are very small and not very transparent. Both factors made it virtually impossible a) to photograph without using a flash, and b) to walk around in the pitch dark without breaking your neck over stools, empty or occupied, left behind by Taizé visitors. All in all, I never felt at ease inside that church.

Church after the renovation (without flash)
When recently I decided to have a look inside the church again, I found a very pleasant surprise. The interior had been completely renovated, there was new furniture and the awful grey had been replaced by a beige colour. In word: the church had been transformed from burial chamber into a church.
And what did the bible say? "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness."
Only why did it take the Taizé Brothers so long to come up with this bright idea?

Church after the renovation (without flash)
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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Les Grandes Heures de Cluny

It has been a year ago since I wrote another blog about Les Grandes Heures de Cluny.This year the programming was different compared to that of previous years.

Quatuor Morphing - Farinier
Then there were six (last year even seven) concerts in the series, but this year was the festival's 50th anniversary and the organisers had decided not to stick with one festival, but to organise a second so called "Off" festival (Les Grandes Minutes de Cluny), consisting of four free concerts. The first festival is financed from subsidies, receipts and sponsor gifts, the second is entirely paid for by the council of Cluny.

Sergei Nakariakov & Maria Meerovitch - Farinier
Since I am not a music critic, I will restrict myself to sketch in course lines what was and still is on offer this year.
The "real" festival is always opened in June, presenting what this season will bring and with a musical accompaniment. This is a free evening, and the music this year was performed by the (saxophone) Quatuor Morphing.

Tsjaikovsky avond - Cloître
At the end of July the first concert was a Tchaikovsky evening (violin concerto and the fourth symphony) by the Briansk Symphony Orchestra with Elsa Grether – violin.
In August there are 5 concerts.
Olivier Charlier - violin, Aurélien Pascal - cello and Olivier Gardon – piano played Schubert, Popper and Beethoven's "Archduke" trio.
Nicholas Angelich – piano played Beethoven's "Waldstein" sonata and two series of variations by Brahms and Haydn.

Aartshertog trio - Farinier
The next concert was a very versatile concert given by the Russian trumpet player Sergei Nakariakov and piano player Maria Meerovitch, with music by a.o. Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Mozart, Schumann and Skriabin.
Still on the program are the Stabat Mater by Pergolesi and a modern version of the Stabat Mater by Lacroux, sung by the female choir Calliope.

Waldstein sonate - Farinier
During the final concert by the Salzburg Chamber Soloists "The four seasons", in the versions of Vivaldi and Piazzola, will be performed.
In the "Off" series we missed out on a concert by a choir, however we fully enjoyed a piano recital by the 16 years old Ilan Zaitmanm and a jazz concert by the Paul lay Trio with singer Isabelle Sörling. Still to come is a Baroque performance by the Odo Ensemble.

Zaitmann - Farinier
In my humble opinion all concerts so far were of extraordinary quality as well as varied, and the same goes for the concerts in the "Off" series.
The programming had one disadvantage. Last week there were three concerts on three consecutive evenings, and on two of those days there was also an "Off" concert. And to be honest, five concerts on three consecutive days is a bit much, however, I also must admit that I would not have wanted to miss any of the concerts.

The Man I Love - Trio Paul Lay - Farinier
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Saturday, 29 July 2017

On to the next concert series

Guitares en Cormatinois 2017
The last three concerts of Guitares en Cormatinois 2017 are over and done with. The first two concerts were not as well attended as we had hoped for; however the last three made up for that.

Rossfelder Guitar Quartet
The number of tickets sold for the concert of the Rossfelder Guitar Quartet was such that again there was no space inside the church for most of the volunteers. Fortunately the four excellent guitar players (Ekaterina Khoreva, Emmaneul Rossfelder, Philippe Mariotti and Pascal Polidori) produced enough volume to be heard by those sitting outside the church. They played many popular classical pieces, arranged for four guitars, such as the Carmen suite by Bizet, Ravel's bolero and Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Tarrega/Sagreras. Click here for the pictures published on internet by our local newspaper.

Serafimova / Dinkova
The fourth concert featured marimba player Vassilena Serafimova and guitar player Stela Dinkova. Serafimova played many contemporary Bulgarian pieces, Dinkova played among others pieces by Bach and Villa-Lobos. Unlike what was written in the program, the ladies chose to play their pieces alternately instead of marimba before the break and guitar after. This certainly made the performance a lot livelier; besides they played several pieces together. Serafimova lived up to her reputation, and gave a sparkling performance. Click here for the pictures published on internet by our local newspaper.

Trio Tzigani
The last concert by Trio Tzigani consisted of Eastern European gipsy music. They played a lot of Hungarian pieces, although they had also arranged some well-known French tunes (such as La bohème – Aznavour) and Russian folk classics (Kalinka, Ochi Chyornye). The three gentleman even got the audience clapping aand singing along with Bécaud's Nathalie. Also this concert resulted in a full church, although fortunately there were some seats available for the volunteers. Click here for the pictures published on internet by our local newspaper.
We have, as usual, already started the preparations for the festival of 2018.

For our own website click here.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Staff announcement

I will have to disappoint those who follow this blog and have the idea to come here one day and stay on our campsite:
Since May 1st 2017, at the beginning of our season, we have decided to close the campsite permanently.
The reason is, that having family and friends pitching a tent in our back garden is one thing; however having strangers occupying the same space is something different, reason why we have decided to give our own privacy a slightly higer priority.

Once upon a time
The campsite should have disappeared from our own website as well as from websites we have been advertising on, and even on Google Maps Camping à la Ferme La Tuilerie ceased to exist.

Our gîtes
However, there is some good news as well: we still open our doors for guests of our two gîtes. We are still very happy to welcome those who would like to stay in one of our gîtes for one or more weeks, preferably from Saturday to Saturday.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Two down, three to go

Last weekend the first two concerts in the series "Guitares en Cormatinois" took place in the small Romanesque church of Chazelle.
The program of the first concert was entitled "Brazil Brazil…" and it was performed by singer Aurélie and guitar player Verioca.

Aurélia & Verioca
As the name of the program suggested the repertoire consisted of Brazilian music or of songs based on Brazilian rhythms: hence lots of sambas and bossa novas. Even though I am personally not so keen on this sort of dance music both French ladies provided a very pleasant evening. And this is what our local fake-press had to say about the concert.

Duo Iberia
The theme of the second concert was "Viva España" featuring Duo Iberia, consisiting of the French guitarist Romuald Ballet-Baz and the Georgian singer Mariam Gueguetchkori. The chosen repertoire consisted of pieces by amongst others Purcell, Schubert, Albeniz, Granados and de Falla. It was an excellent concert; voice and guitar matched each other very well and the few pieces for solo guitar were performed impeccably. In one word, this evening was possibly going to be one of the highlights of the series.

The "real"star of the evening
The one who stole everybody's heart however, was not one of the performers, but the three and a half year's old son of the musicians. He sat at the first row, attentively listening to his parents, applauding as enthusiastically as the rest of the audience at the end of each piece. When he was invited by his mother to join them on stage, and he actually managed to sing along with the music they played he was warmly applauded by everyone. As an encore the couple played the famous aria "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Bizet's Carmen, which was greeted with recognition and enthusiasm by the audience. And this is what our local fake-press had to say about the concert.

"Trio" Iberia
Tomorrow will see the performance of the Emmanuel Rossfelder Guitar Quartet. I am very curious to see whether our group of volunteers will have to listen to the concert from outside the church sitting in the cemetery, or whether we will be given places inside the church (e.g. behind the altar)….

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Guitares en Cormatinois 2017

As was to be expected, 2017 will see another edition of the festival "Guitares en Cormatinois". This year there are quite a few new faces, however, most of them have earned there spurs elsewhere, and not only on a national level.
Below a short overview, where possible with an indication of what can be expected.
All concerts take place in Chazelle's church, and the entrance fee is € 20 per person per concert. Reservations can be made by telephone (03 85 50 19 06 or 06 88 40 91 73) or we can arrange a reservation for you. Just e-mail ( or phone us (03 85 50 19 55).

The church of Chazelle
Saturday 8 July, 20h00
Aurélie & Verioca (vocals, guitar) with a program based on mainly Brazilian music.

Sunday 9 July, 17h30
Due Iberia (vocals, guitar) with a program of predominantly Spanish classical music. Their repertoire however covers a long time span with also non-Spanish composers, ranging from Purcell to Piazzola.

Rossfelder Guitar Quartet
Sunday 16 July, 17h30
Rossfelder Guitar Quartet (4 classical guitar players). Rossfelder is a well-known guest on our festival, and a crowd puller. They have a varied repertoire of compositions for classical guitar. Those who want to be sure of a seat better make a reservation.

Saturday 22 July, 20h00
Vassilena Serafimova & Stela Dinkova (marimba, guitar). Lat year we had the privilege to hear Serafimova in Cluny accompanied by a piano player. Even if she plays in Chazelle only half as good as she did in Cluny, this promises to be a very interesting concert.

Serafimova in Cluny 2016
Sunday 23 July, 17h30
Trio Tzigani (3 musicians, violin, double bass, guitar and cimbalon) with, as the name suggests music with a gipsy background. However, they do not play Hot Club de France-style music; their music is rooted in the Balkans, albeit with quite some Hungarian music as well.

The concert series 2017
For our own website click here.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

L’exactitude est la politesse des rois

Rully, a village approx. 50 km north of us is renowned for its wines (mainly white Chardonays) and for its château.

Rully - Château
Around this château each year a "marche gourmande" is organised, about which I wrote a blog some time ago. Rully boasts 23 AOC vineyards producing Premiers Crus.

As soon as one enters Rully along the D981 one cannot miss, on the crossing of this road and the roads leading to the centre of the village and the SNCF station, a sculpture in stainless steel entitled "Le vigneron de Rully" van Alain Loget, a huge statue of a grape picker. However, these are not the reasons why we every so often drive to Rully.

Le vigneron de Rully
Le Creusot is the home base of the 241P17 (The Mistral), a beautiful compound steam locomotive built by André Chapelon. This locomotive is used for a number of trips from Le Creusot, among others to Aix-les-Bains, Les Dombes, the Loire Valley and Switzerland. Some of these trips are passing through Chagny station and continue direction Chalon-sur-Saône. At Rully, between Chagny and Chalon, the train runs on a straight track and underpasses a road.

Mistral - 2013
After having studied all sort of maps (Michelin, IGN) we came to the conclusion that Rully in the morning was the best place to take pictures of the approaching train. There is ample parking availability, it is quiet traffic wise, the viaduct has a pedestrian pavement, the train has not built up more than the usual delays and the sun, when shining, lights the scene at the right angle.

Mistral - 2016
The only disadvantage is that we have to set the alarm clock to be there in time, around 8h00. One certainly does not want to end up in the situation of the guy who turned up while we were walking back to the car asking us: "Has the train really gone yet?". French people are late by definition (hence the title of this blog, attributed to Louis XVIII), which is no big deal when attending a dinner party. However, trying to catch up along roads with speed limits of 50, 70 and 90 km/h with a steam train running at high speed is a completely different matter!
For our own website, click here.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Café du Centre - Cluny

For quite some time now we have lunch every other week at "Café du Centre" in Cluny. When a few weeks ago we entered the premises we noticed a piece of paper, nailed to the bar, saying that 25 May was going to be the last day of business; that was the day "Café du Centre" was going to change hands.

Café du Centre in better days
We were always very attached to the atmosphere there; according to us it was a typical French, noisy café-restaurant where it was always so busy on Saturdays that those without a reservation were turned down.
We were unpleasantly surprised when we found out that Manu was leaving with all the staff, and that the previous owner was coming back.

Café du Centre - the bar
Not that we did not like the previous owner, but Manu and his staff had really grown on us. The reason for the change is for me as a non-commercially skilled observer a mystery, but there must have been something very fishy going on. Part of the staff had worked under the previous owner, and that they obviously did not want to work for that guy again makes one think. The café was supposed to reopen early June.

Café du Centre
In the meantime June has arrived, and yesterday, the second of June, a van loaded with cardboard boxes stood in front of the place. Inside a number of people were cleaning and reorganising things. The restaurant however is still closed, however It might open tomorrow.
Fortunately we passed by "La Nation" in Cluny's main street, and we decided to have a bite there.

Café du Centre, waiting for better days
However, we were completely flabbergasted when we saw that one of the waitresses of "Café du Centre" we know very well was serving at the tables there. She was only temporary helping out, but it certainly gave a very pleasant déja vu feeling being served by Adeline….
For our own website click here.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Bresse savoyarde

The Bresse is an area which traditionally has been split up per region in three different parts; The Bresse bourgignonne (Bourgogne), the Bresse jurassienne (Jura) and the Bresse savoyarde (Ain, which historically was part of Savoy). The flat countryside as well as the typical Bressane architecture characterize the Bresse bourgignonne the Bresse savoyarde.

Typical Bressane farm house with chimney (Courtes)
The Bresse savoyarde, just across the Saône east of Mâcon is well known for its cheminées sarrasines. These are oddly shaped chimneys, adorning the typical old fashioned Bressane farmhouses. Often these chimneys carry a cross on top, sometimes the shape resembles a bell tower, minaret or mausoleum.

Typical Bressane farm house with chimney (St-Cyr-sur-Menthon)
The name however has got nothing to do with the Saracens (an Arab people; the word is often used to describe the Turkish invaders); sarrasin was used in French to indicate something strange or weird. The Bresse houses some open-air museums, like the ones in Courtes and Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon, where a brochure is available containing a map showing where these chimneys can be found.

The cattle market in St-Denis-lès-Bourg (Sue Nixon)
Bourg-en-Bresse (an hour's drive from here), the capital of the department Ain (01) and the centre of the Bresse boasts the biggest cattle market in France. Because as a child I really liked to roam around the cattle market in my home town I decided for old time's sake to have a go at this (morning) market. The market is located in the outskirts of Bourg, in Saint-Denis-lès-Bourg, and it really lives up to its reputation. The cows, calves and bulls are neatly organized within pens for each sort (hefters, milk cows, cows and bulls for reproduction, etc.).

Monastère Royal de Brou - Bourg-en-Bresse
The sales are bargained upon and settled by handshake between the farmers. The smell, the mooing, the noise of the farmers, it all brought back sweet memories of the weekly cattle market in Delft (the Netherlands). And, strangely enough, the aisles between pens may not have been spotless, they were certainly clean, something I would not expect on a cattle market.
However, one should not leave Bourg without having paid a visit to the Royal Monastery of Brou. The early 16th century monastery was built by Margaret of Austria, in those days governess of the Spanish Netherlands.

Monastère Royal de Brou - Bourg-en-Bresse
The church is a jewel of flamboyant gothic architecture from the hand of the Flemish master builder Loys van Boghem, whilst the mausoleums of Margaret of Bourbon, Margaret of Austria en Philibert II the Handsome of Savoy were designed by another Fleming Jean van Roome. The monastery boasts, apart from the stunning architecture and sculptures, a museum, and has 3 cloisters, which come across as a bit boring compared to the church.

Monastère Royal de Brou - Bourg-en-Bresse
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Saturday, 6 May 2017

Unwanted or unexpected guests

Every so often we find some strange things in the garden or around the house.

Lost and found
Sometimes these are droppings or pellets we cannot determine, or it is a splat of bird poo which is often difficult to scrub off, or we find a piece of snake skin which some snake abandoned somewhere.
Often one finds out only after some time what sort of animal was the culprit, but not always. And since we have no cameras around the house it is more by good luck than good management that one finds out what animal was the guilty one.

One morning we saw, whilst doing the washing up, a grown up fox wondering around the garden. And before it spotted us and could make a run for it, we managed to take some pictures of the fox.

A cow between the fruit trees
At another occasion we found some cow pats in the garden. It was quite obvious who was or were guilty, however, how one or more cows ended up in the garden stayed a mystery. During a second invasion we found out that there had been, for a while, a broken piece of fencing between meadow and garden, nicely hidden by bramble bushes. The cows just barged in and ended up in our garden.

When the château in Cormatin had two storks nesting on one of the chimneys (that was before the chatelain chased them away after having put up with them for several years) they often made a pit stop at the pond in our meadow.

Wild boar (stuffed, at the market in Louhans)
Although wild boar lives in the woods around us, we hardly ever see them. Sometimes, late in the evening, we have seen a sow with young piglets wandering along the soft shoulder of the paths through the woods, but a) one does not always have a camera at hand, b) it is often too dark to take a picture and c) I am enough of a scaredy-cat (in itself a protected species) not wanting to disturb a possibly aggressive sow.

Roe deer at the gate
Roe deer are also not uncommon, but they are wise enough to stay put during the hunting season. The only roe we managed to "shoot" we saw eating leaves on the path at our gate on a cold winter morning (within the hunting season, by the way).

Dead badger
There must be quite some badgers around here. Proof are the dead badgers we have seen laying along the roadside, obviously hit by cars during the night whilst crossing the road.

Green whip snake
And the snakeskins? We find them in the weirdest places. This area knows some quite big (about 5 feet long) snakes, non-poisonous, who feed on mice and other small vermin. The species is called the green whip snake. We have never found enough skin to turn it into a purse or handbag, though.

For our own website click here.