Wednesday, 30 November 2016

01 : Introduction

Some of the following chapters have a link to an on-line photo album. You can click on that to get extra photos or to run a slideshow.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

02 : New in the area?

La Tuilerie de Chazelle is deep in the heart of the rolling landscape of South Burgundy. This area is famous for its magnificent Romanesque churches along with numerous towns and villages of unrivalled beauty and not least for its world famous vineyards.
The abundance of Romanesque churches in the area is due, to a large extent, to its proximity to Cluny, where a rich and powerful abbey once was. A visit to what remains of the abbey is a must.

Saturday service at Taizé - picture courtesy of A. Waidelich
The ecumenical monastic community of Taizé is just under 2 miles from here. Taizé attracts young people from around the world and is famous for its "Taizé Songs" (a modern version of Gregorian chants). A little further away is the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Europe, the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas (Kagyu Ling) at La Boulaye, well worth the experience.

Over and above all else, Burgundy is well known for its fine food and great wines. Good living has been made into an art-form here. You can enjoy the wine tasting available in the local "caves" that you discover on your travels or you can follow the numerous "wine trails" (Côte d'Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais & Beaujolais) that take you past the best and most famous houses of the region.

Wine tasting in the Cave Cooperative of Saint-Gengoux-le-National
For walkers and cyclists this area is ideal. There are many well laid out routes to walk or cycle, of varying levels of difficulty, including the Voie Verte which is a flat, safe cycle path that runs the length of South Burgundy on an old railway track with extensions on canal tow-paths.

It is impossible to give information on everything there is to see around here, but for those who want more information than this small space allows, you can scroll down the page or click on a Label on the right hand side of this article for more details on certain topics like things to see in and around Cormatin or day trips you can make from here, etc.

Monday, 28 November 2016

03 : In and Around Cormatin (1)

Cormatin itself has a very fine example of a château with extensive gardens, you can wander around and imagine yourself as one of the Ducs de Bourgogne!

Boudoir in the Château de Cormatin
Around Cormatin there are many fine examples of Romanesque villages where you can stroll along the cobbled streets, take in the village life at a kerb side café, enjoy the bustle of market day and absorb the peace and tranquillity of the exquisite Romanesque churches. A superb example of Romanesque architecture can be seen in Chapaize, and between Chapaize and Tournus, perched on top of a hill,
you will find the Mediaeval village of Brancion with its Romanesque church with frescos and its mediaeval castle dominating the surrounding area.

Buddhist monk working on a mandala - La Boulaye
Religion has seeped into the fabric of the region and the ecumenical Christian community of Taizé is just around the corner from La Tuilerie (just under 2 miles walking or 3 miles by car). Taizé attracts young people from around the world and is famous for its "Taizé Songs" (a modern version of Gregorian chants). The church services at Taizé are also worth a visit just to absorb the atmosphere that this unique place exudes.

Cluny, the "light of the world", where the largest church in Christendom was built is just 10 minutes away by car. A tour of this church is a must. Although there is virtually nothing left of the vast original abbey, the tour takes you through where the church stood and allows you to experience the grandeur and awe of the original magnificent monument built to the glory of God.

Grand National - Cluny
Cluny is not only famous for its religious roots, but also for its horses. One of the National Studs (Haras) was installed here in Napoleon’s time and stands on land that was part of the abbey. You can take a tour around the Haras, with at least one tour per day being given in English. There is a horse racing track where regular meetings are held, flat racing, harness trotting and steeple chasing all take place there. Last but not least there is the Equivallée, which is becoming one of the important horse show jumping venues in France.

Tournus on the Saône
The nearby town of Tournus is worth a visit with its abbey church and Hôtel Dieu, however, this ancient hospital is nothing like as spectacular as the one in Beaune.

If you are feeling a bit adventurous, why not visit the caves at Blanot or Azé and see the marvels of nature in the underground caverns. Blanot is not for the claustrophobic or for people with vertigo, but Azé is a relatively gentle stroll.

Click here for some more pictures of touristic highlights around Cormatin.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

04 : Other Things to See In and Around Cormatin (2)

Apart from the many Romanesque churches, there is more to see in this part of Burgundy. Again this is only a little insight into what there is to see, for more information you can consult one of the many tourist guides of this area.

Cormatin itself has a lovely Renaissance château (1605) which is privately owned, but part of which can be seen during a guided tour. The gardens on the other hand are totally open to the public and are quite extensive and well worth a visit.

The town of Saint-Gengoux-le-National (a tongue twister for most foreigners!) has a very nice small medeival centre where there is a market every other week all year round and in the summer they have evening markets as well where local produce and local crafts are sold.

There is the beautiful medieval town of Brancion, perched on top of a hill which has recently been completely renovated. It features a fortified (non-inhabitable) castle and a covered market. From the open area in front of the church, you are afforded spectacular views over the Grosne valley.

For castles in a better state of repair, Berzé-le-Châtel and Pierreclos are worth a visit. The former can be visited via a guided tour which takes you around the outside of the castle explaining how the defences worked. One or two small rooms can be visited, but as the castle is lived in the majority cannot be seen. Having said that it is one of the most interesting tours I have taken. The visit to Pierreclos castle includes a wine tasting at the end and is also well worth the entry money.

Wine is of course inextricably linked with Bugundy. Cormatin is just in between the Mâconnais and the Côte Chalonaise. The Côte d’Or and the Beaujolais are also very close and there are a number of “wine routes” you can take which will bring you past the most prestigious wine growers where you can always pop in for a tasting. Very close to us there is a good winemaker in Bray and Viré and Azé turn out a well respected bottle.
Click here for a few pictures of touristic highlights in the area.

The gardens of the Château de Cormatin

A number of places like Cluny and Tournus have a Hôtel-Dieu, but the most spectacular (from 1443) can be found in Beaune (although not close to Cormatin certainly worth a day trip). These buildings were built as hospitals and run by nuns financed by wealthy benefactors. The roofs of the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, which can only be seen when you enter the main courtyard, are tiled with coloured glazed tiles and are a feast for your eyes. But it is not only the outside of these buildings that is worth a look, the various rooms have been restored to their original state complete with a little chapel, pharmacy, kitchen and the wards themselves. The hospital was still in use until 1971 when new hospital buildings were built. Finally there is a polyptych "The last judgement" by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden, the small details of which can be viewed through a travelling magnifying glass if it is not too busy and if you ask the person in charge very nicely!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

05 : Day Trips

Whilst there is more than enough to do in the immediate surroundings, there are a number of places that are worth taking a day trip for.

Romanesque frescoes - Berzé-la-Ville
The Mâconnais is well worth visiting for its Romanesque architecture, the many exquisite châteaux and the beautiful landscape.

A walk up the Roche de Solutré, a rock formation not far from Mâcon, is well worth it for the spectacular views over the surrounding vineyards. There is a museum at the bottom of the rock that is dedicated to the prehistory of the area.

For Romanesque art, there are some very special frescos round here though, the best can be found in the Chapelle des Moines in the village of Berzé-la-Ville, just down the road from Berzé-le-Châtel with its impressively complete mediaeval castle linked to Cluny by tunnels and with stunning views in all directions.
On the subject of castles, Pierreclos has a lovely château with wine tasting in the cellars after the tour.

Moving into the Brionnais you will find Paray-le-Monial, a place of pilgrimage, where you can see the Romanesque basilica, a "miniature" version of the Cluny abbey church which is still standing and is well worth a visit. Just round the corner from the basilica is the impressive Renaissance Hôtel de Ville. In other places in the Brionnais there are also excellent examples of Romanesque churches to be seen, for example in Semur-en-Brionnais and Anzy-le-Duc.

La Boulaye
In the Morvan there is the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery built in Europe, the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas, Paldenshangpa (Kagyu Ling) at La Boulaye. Paldenshangpa is in harmony with, but strangely in contrast to, the green rolling hills of the Burgundy landscape. Hundreds of Buddhists come to La Boulaye every year to take part in the many ceremonies and many other people come just to experience and take part in a Buddhist service. There is also a Serbian-orthodox monastery in Uchon in the Morvan. The monks make religious icons for sale and at certain times of the day you can visit the beautifully painted refectory and other parts of the monastery.

The Last Judgement - Beaune
When mentioning the Côte d’Or most people think only of its outstanding wines (like Nuits-Saint-Georges) or they think of Dijon, but Beaune is also very well worth a visit. Give yourself the time to wander around the streets of Beaune and visit the stunning Hôtel-Dieu (which was a working hospital until 1971), with its spectacular roofs of coloured tiles which are only visible when you get into the internal courtyard. Also within the hospital complex is the famous altar piece "The last judgement" by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden, that attracts tourists from around the world. In Beaune there are a number of small museums that are worth a look, most notably the wine museum telling you all about wine from grafting on to the vine to producing the finished article.

Wine Tasting - Beaune
Don’t forget to visit one of the wine cellars (caves) in the town centre, most notably the Marché aux Vins , in the former church of the Cordeliers close to the Hôtel-Dieu, where for a few Euros you can not only visit the cave but you can also taste some of the most expensive wines in Burgundy if not in the world.

Friday, 25 November 2016

06 : Big Towns

Dijon, the home of mustard, has more to offer than just the hot stuff, it is well worth a full-daytrip.

Sarcophagi - Dijon
Dijon was one of the residences of the Dukes of Bourgogne. The Musée des Beaux Arts has been installed in the magnificent Dukes' palace. The museum houses a superb collection of paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages. The number of superbly carved sarcophagi of various Dukes are one of the highlights of a visit to the palace. Apart from the palace, there are numerous very interesting churches to visit along with the Gothic cathedral of Saint Bénigne being one of the highlights. As you walk through the streets, around every corner you will find something different, there are many old buildings with stunning facades but don’t forget to look up at the roofs many of which are covered in beautifully coloured glazed tiles.
A day in Dijon would not be complete without buying yourself some pots of the real stuff, available in many flavours.

Buying Mustard at Maille's - Dijon
The mustard with blackcurrant is quite something else! Apart from mustard, Dijon is the culinary capital of Burgundy; what better way to complete your day out than to sample what one of the many excellent restaurants has to offer.

In the département of Rhône, where the Rhône and the Saône rivers come together, is the large city of Lyon. Lyon was once the silk centre of Europe. La Croix-Rousse is the district where this industry flourished and where the silk workers (Canuts) lived and worked. In the old city (Vieux Lyon) you will find small hidden alleyways (traboules) between and within the houses; when you find out how the system works, you will spend all morning going up and down these secret passages enjoying the fun of discovering where you reappear on the other side.

Place Bellecour - Lyon
Their real intention was to enable the long heavy rolls of silk to be transported to different areas of the city by the quickest route whilst of course keeping them dry. For those who want to window shop, the Rue de la République on Presqu’île (the nineteenth century business centre of Lyon) is the place to be. The Musée des Beaux Arts, which next to its immense collection of paintings from around Europe has 35 famous impressionist and modern paintings, is also in the same district.

Roman Theatre - Lyon
Not to be missed is a visit up the Fourvière hill in the funicular railway, or for the fitness fanatics via the very long staircase, to visit the basilica and take in the spectacular views over Lyon. On top of the hill you can also see the very well preserved Roman remains of two theatres built when Lyon was called Lugdunum. Lyon is also well known for its wall paintings. In a number of places throughout the city you will find whole buildings covered in frescos. Some of these painting are more than life size!

Mur des Canuts - Lyon

Thursday, 24 November 2016

07 : Food , Wine and Cultural Activities

Over and above all else, Burgundy is known for its food and wine.

Good living has been made into an art-form here. You can enjoy the wine tasting available in the local "caves" that you discover on your travels or you can follow the numerous "wine trails" (Côte d'Or, Côte Chalonaise and Mâconnais and Beaujolais) that take you past the best and most famous houses of the region. Lunch and dinner are essential parts of the daily ritual in France and particularly here in Burgundy. These events should be taken very seriously and are to be enjoyed to the full. So why not be like the locals, sit down, chill out and take the time to savour your meal. Whether you sit on the terrace of the local brasserie or you experience the full silver service of some of the best restaurants in France, each meal will be a real treat.

Pavé de boeuf
For that special dinner, you can choose from one of the many highly rated restaurants within reach of La Tuilerie.

But you don't have to go home kilos heavier; the great outdoors of Burgundy is ideal for pursuing a wide range of sporting and leisure activities and is also perfect for nature lovers.
" La Voie Verte", translated as "the green trail", passes within yards of La Tuilerie and runs the length of South Burgundy. This path used to be in part an old railway line and it is now used by cyclists, skaters and walkers, and takes you easily from one delightful village to the next in perfect safety. Just to the north of here, the Voie Verte runs along the tow paths of the Canal du Centre, making for very flat and easy travelling.

Voie Verte and Balade Verte
You could of course just walk around the local lanes or in the forest across the road from La Tuilerie and breath in the pure air, enjoying the wildlife along the way. Organised walks (randonnées) are held on Sundays throughout the year, where you are given a route to follow and you can enjoy refreshments along the way, or you can follow the number of Balades Vertes (green strolls) that have recently been laid out in the area, letting you enjoy a walk without getting lost! One of the walks goes almost past the front door here.

Emmanuel Rossfelder during Guitares en Cormatinois - Chazelle
Had enough of nature and want to do something cultural? There are many local festivals going on all year round. All summer long there are classical concerts given in the beautiful Romanesque church in Chapaize organised by “Chapaize Culture”. In Cormatin and surrounding villages there is the yearly festival “Guitares en Cormatinois”. This series of concerts is not only classical guitar music but also includes lighter concerts as well as folk music. We keep up to date with all the latest events so we can tell you what's on and where during your stay. The real way to experience France is to do as the French do, visit these festivals, visit the markets and poke around in the local brocante.

Marché aux puces - Flagy
You can even try and find that essential souvenir to bring a little bit of Burgundy home with you.

On the internet some interesting videos (in French) can be found:  "La Route des Vins - Bourgogne" (50 minutes) and "Le vignoble de Bourgogne vu du ciel" (13 minutes).

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

08 : Voie Verte

The Voie Verte (the Green Pathway) is a walking/cycle path that runs from north to south through Saône-et-Loire (71), South Burgundy. In the nineties, the local governing bodies decided to tarmac the old railway track from Chalon-sur-Saône to Mâcon as a leisure facility. Many of the old stations have been turned into “service stations”. This concept was so successful that the original 80km of cycle path has been extended to cover 320 km and extra circuits (boucles) that go off into the surrounding countryside have been created, giving in total approximately 730 km of marked out cycle routes. La Voie Verte runs not only over the old railway tracks, it now runs over canal tow paths and also specially created cycle paths have been built to link the various sections of Voie Verte together.

A special map on the subject shows the complete Voie Verte Saône-et-Loire (71) and its boucles. The boucles all begin and end on the Voie Verte and are signposted. Each boucle is graded for difficulty from 1 being easy up to 4 which is very hard work.

At some places near Cormatin and at the campsite in Cormatin, you can rent bicycles, by the hour, day or week. Prices in Cormatin are approximately €20 per day or approximately €65 per week. Click here for an album with a few more pictures of the Voie Verte.

The Voie Verte near Chazelle

The whole Voie Verte concept has extended beyond Saône-et-Loire and there are now plans to link all the paths in Burgundy (approximately 600km) and extend them by a further 200km by linking them into the paths in Rhône giving a total of about 800km of cycle paths near here.

La Voie Verte is about 2km from La Tuilerie and boucles 10 and 10bis (the Romanesque church route) almost pass the door (200m).

The Voie Verte between Cormatin and Cluny
You don’t have to just stick to the cycle paths for safe cycling. The secondary roads around here are very quiet and the French really stick to the rules when it comes to giving cyclists plenty of room, they overtake at a safe distance of about 1.5m. When Cees cycles into Cormatin to get the bread and newspaper on the main road, no one will overtake if he cannot be given enough room. It won’t be the first time that he has entered town with a long queue of cars behind him.

At weekends there are regular “randonnées” for VTTs (mountain bikes) where routes are laid out for you to follow. They tend to be from 30 to 50km and cost between €5.00 and €10.00. For that you get regular pit-stops where water, wine, French bread and sausage amongst other goodies are available to fortify you for the rest of the journey.

For those “passive” cyclists, the Tour de France comes to a town near here almost every year. In 2007 it came to Cormatin itself, in 2006 Mâcon saw the finish of an étape, in 2010 Tournus saw the start of an étape as did Mâcon in 2012.

We get many questions about how to walk or cycle to Taizé from here, so we have made some maps of the various routes and posted them in a photo album. Click here for those routes.

Whilst this item is about cycling, we do get asked from time to time if it possible to go horseriding near here. So just because I can't think of a better place to put the information here it is! In Saint-Martin-du-Tartre, at “Le Ranch des Jacinthes” horses can be rented for trekking in the hills.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

09 : Balades Vertes

Quite recently Saône-et-Loire, South Burgundy has completed the Balades Vertes which are a large number of signposted walking routes throughout the whole of the département (71). Together with the Voie Verte (check out the article) these routes make this area a Mecca for walkers.

In the capital of our canton, St Gengoux le National, the tourist information office has a little book with details of the walks that are in the area between the rivers Grosne and Guye, rather unsurprising called "Guide les Balades Vertes entre Grosne et Guye". The book contains 26 signposted walks and costs €8.00, a little map and description of each walk can be bought separately and they cost € 2.00 each. All the signposts or markings on trees and fence posts are in yellow and are very clear.

A large number of communes along the Voie Verte have a starting point for their walks. The routes to these starting points are clearly marked with large signposts “Randonnée - Balade Verte” on the main roads. By each start point there is a carpark and a map with an overview of the routes that start and finish at that point and the route reference number, for instance the routes from Cormatin are CO1 and CO2, from Taizé TA1 etc. Click here for an album with some more pictures of the Balades Vertes.

Taking a break along the Balades Vertes
For those who want to be a bit more adventurous and make their own way around here, there are very well detailed maps from IGN in their Série Bleue (1:25000) which you can use to find all the footpaths in the area. One of the Grande Randonnées passes close to Cormatin (GR76) and Cluny is one of the starting points for the road to Santiago de Compostella.

Over and above all this, from early in the spring until late in autumn, there are organised randonnées most weekends. The routes are marked by different coloured spray paint arrows on the road or wooden arrows on temporary posts and the walks usually range from 5 to 30 km. At strategic points on the way there are refreshment stalls where wine, water, French bread, cheese and sausage are distributed. The prices vary by distance and range from €3.00 to €10.00.

We get many questions about how to walk or cycle to Taizé from here, so we have made some maps of the various routes and posted them in a photo album. Click here for those routes.

Monday, 21 November 2016

10 : Taizé

I am woken up every morning by the bells of Taizé, the single bell for the monks rings out at 07.45 for about 5 minutes, calling the monks to their morning prayer then the bells start in earnest at 08.15 and ring until 08.30, letting all the pilgrims at Taizé know that the service is about to start. When the bells stop I know I really must get up. The bells ring from 12.15 to 12.30, so I know lunch should be on the table and if dinner is not ready when the evening bells go at 20.15, I know I am very late. And that was what Taizé was to me when I arrived here in 2005.

After Easter in 2006 we went to Taizé to have a look around and we were amazed at the number of young people milling around. We didn’t go to a service as that seemed inappropriate, with all these kids around it seemed like a young person’s thing. I wanted to go to a service, but I didn’t know how it worked, so I didn’t dare go alone. In July some campers (Ans and Simon) arrived, she had been to Taizé for the first time that spring and wanted to camp nearby to take in a few services and tempt her husband to go too. He however wasn’t interested and she didn’t dare go alone. At last my chance to go to a service, so on a Friday evening Ans and I went up the hill to Taizé.

The services are made up of singing and silence. The songs are mesmerising. With pilgrims from all over the world the songs need to be simple to enable everyone to sing. There are a mixture of languages, Latin, German and some sort of Slavonic language are the most popular with French, English and Spanish there too. Each song has two lines and these are sung over and over again. The songs are a mixture of four voices, rounds and solo singing with the congregation singing the chorus. It is not to everyone’s taste, but I absolutely love them. In every service there is silence, five minutes of it. Five minutes is a very long time and it is quite amazing that a church full of people can be so quiet for so long. The singing continues after the monks have left and on a Friday and Saturday night this can go on into the early hours of the morning I have been told.

The peace that pervades in a service is tangible and I can quite understand why some people come back year after year, just to regain that and to take a little bit of serenity back home with them. It is definitely not just a young person’s thing at all. Everyone is welcome to the services. Many, many of the visitors in our gîtes or on the campsite come for Taizé, to take part in a couple of services while being on holiday and enjoying other things that this area has to offer. Something not to be missed is a look at the stunning pottery the monks make to pay for their upkeep.

We get many questions about how to walk or cycle to Taizé from here, so we have made some maps of the various routes and posted them in a photo album. Click here for those routes.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

11 : Romanesque Architecture

Saint-Martin - Chapaize
This part of Burgundy is famous for having very many Romanesque churches. The fact that Cluny was one of the most influential and prestigious monastic orders in the early middle ages is most probably one of the most important reasons why this is the case. Cluny’s influence reached far wider than just Burgundy, you can even find Cluniac monasteries in England. Throughout Saône-et-Loire there are many towns which have a sign post saying “Site Clunisien” but there are also numerous sites which were more or less independent of Cluny. This is just a small overview of what there is to see around here in the Romanesque style.

The Saint-Philibert Abbey in Tournus is a beautiful example of the Burgundian Romanesque building style. The church has an interesting crypt and around the choir, there are some 12th century floor mosaics. The refectory, the provisions store and the cloister of the original monastry are all still intact. The facades of the church have characteristic Lombardian decorations. More simple, but no less impressive, is the church in the village of Chapaize (Saint-Martin). Just as in Tournus, the roof is supported by heavy columns built with small pieces of stone resembling bricks.

Transept - Cluny III
A number of other churches in the area that are worth a visit are: Saint-Hippolyte; Malay; Ameugny, Chazelle,  Brancion and Lys (Chissey-lès-Mâcon). This is just a random sample of our favourites. In most churches around here there are maps of the various Romanesque church routes you can follow.

There is one other small church that is not to be missed and that is the Chapelle des Moines in Berzé-la-Ville. This chapel, built by Saint-Hughes - one of the Abbots in Cluny (1049-1109), is not necessarily so special for its architecture, but for the exceptionally well preserved frescos. The walls and ceiling around and above the altar are completely covered with different scenes. In the corridor leading to the chapel, there is a side room where a very interesting, short film shows how frescos are made. For a few pictures of churches in the vicinity, click here.

Model of Cluny III
Of course the Abbey in Cluny itself more than merits a mention. In 910 Guillaume d’Aquitaine set up the first abbey of Saints-Pierre et Paul. Between 1088 and 1130, the early Romanesque abbey (the Maior Ecclesia) was built on the remains of the original Carolingian style building. The abbey church was the largest in Christendom at that time and has since only been beaten in size by St Pauls Basilica in Rome. Between 1793 and 1823 the abbey was sold off literally piece by piece, the stones that once were the great Basilica were used around town and elsewhere in the area as building materials and today all that remains of the Basilica are two towers and a little chapel. The large cloister and some of the other buildings did survive and are now used by the National Stud and the Grande Ecole ENSAM. Having said that, a tour of the abbey is an absolute must and even with so little left in place, you can see how great it once was. This is helped of course by the short and spectacularly made 3D film shown at regular intervals at the start of the visit.

In the town of Cluny itself there is the gothic Notre-Dame and the Romanesque church Saint-Marcel, but there are also some very interesting Romanesque houses to be seen. A number of these houses still have their characteristic Claire-Voies, which were richly decorated window openings on the first floor separated by delicately carved columns. Well worth just wandering round whilst looking up.

This is obviously a very concise summary. For those who would like to have a good and reasonably complete overview of Romanesque architecture in Burgundy I would strongly recommend the website "Le site sur l'Art Roman en Bourgogne" (in French). I stumbled upon it by accident, and this site has a rich collection of photographs and historical information of everything related to Romanesque architecture.
The above mentioned site contains a very interesting glossary (also in French) of terms used in Romanesque architecture. I have made an English illustrated version of it, and those who are interested in browsing through it can click here.
Apart from this, I am also keeping a blog about the lesser known churches (or remains there of) in Saône-et-Loire. Every so often a new "discovery" is added to this blog.

The Romanesque churches in Saône-et-Loire
And finally, recently an interactive map has become available, on which (almost) all Romanesque churches in the département 71 are indicated. The map itself contains a link to a description explaining how the map has been set up and how it can be used, and it has links to interactive maps of the bordering departments. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

13 : Arts and Crafts

Atelier de Gadrielle - Cormatin
In this part of Burgundy there are an astonishing number of people living from their work as “artisans d’art”. A small number of them also offer courses in their chosen art or craft. This is by no means a complete list of who is doing what and where (much like the other chapters) but it offers a list of the most local and in our opinion the most interesting artists. If you are interested in following any courses or if you are interested in the work of a particular artisan, you can contact them directly and they can give you any details you might require. If you are unsure of your French skills and have particular questions, we can make the contact for you.
Click here to get an impression of the work of various artisans d'art.

A good overview of local arts and crafts can be seen at "La Filaterie" in Cormatin. "La Filaterie" is an old spinning mill and a number of rooms have been turned into an exhibition and sales centre for local artisans, you can find jewelry, ceramics, clothing, leather goods and wood carvings alongside each other. Also, in the tourist information office in Cluny, you can see a nice display of local arts and crafts.

On the website of ECCA from Cormatin and on the website of the Office de Tourisme of Saint-Gengoux-le-National you can find the addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and websites of many local artisans.

Pascale Ponsard - Cormatin
Pascale Ponsard is based in Cormatin in the Rue de la Sablière, and she paints on silk. She makes some very large pieces for making clothing as well as smaller pieces to be used as scarves etc. She organises courses and does demonstrations on request.

Also in Cormatin on the Route de Cluny is ”Atelier de Gadrielle”. The owner Patrick Vernay, makes exceptionally beautiful silver and gold jewellery.

In a hamlet Gemaugue, near Chapaize there is another jewellery maker ”Emergence de Bijoux”, where Myriam Lacolonge makes pieces out of plastic resins.

Nearby in Bessuge is Monique Dégluaire who makes very interesting sculptures in clay. Anyone staying here can see one of her pieces in our garden.

Atelier de la Lisse - Lys
In Lys, a small village just down the road from here, there are quite a number of artisans.

Those interested in a course of woven tapestry need look no further than ”Atelier de la Lisse”. The courses are organised by Marie-Elise Tournebize.

Her husband Christian Tournebize makes jewelry out of bronze and silver as well as interesting wooden sculptures from tree roots and branches. His business is called ”La Nature du Lys”.

“Wakaté” is a shoemaker, who makes shoes to measure.

Lys also has a pottery the “Poterie de Lys”.

Again in Lys you will find Thierry Goury who is a multi-facetted artisan who owns the ”Atelier de la Treille”. Goury runs courses in drawing, painting and also mould making and bronze casting.

In Saint-Gengoux-le-National there is something very different. In La Sachette, just outside the town itself there is “la Papier en Folle”. Claire Guillot makes marbled paper which is used, amongst other things, for the inside leaves of books.

Pottery is very popular in this area. In almost every village you can find one or two potteries. The monks in Taizé fund their living expenses by selling pottery at very reasonable rates. Their pottery is very simple and elegant and ranges from their iconic oil lamps and candle holders up to full dinner services.

Another special potter in the area is Elisabeth Causeret in Sailly who makes miniatures - little pots, pans, cups and saucers etc at her “Poteries Miniatures”. Truly impressive in its smallness!

Joël and Maryse Dedianne - Bonnay
Joël and Maryse Dedianne in Bonnay are also specialised in miniatures, this time in wood. In their exhibition centre, which can be seen as much as a museum as a selling outlet, they have some amazing things on display. A clock completely made of wood (including all the springs etc), various musical boxes where everything moves as well as more static items. All our guests (young and old) who have been there have returned very enthusiastic about their visit.

Friday, 11 November 2016

15a : Eating out in Cormatin (1 of 2)

This story marks the beginning of a project that has been in the pipeline for a very long time, but that finally gets off the ground as of now, and is actually finished. We have visited a number of restaurants around La Tuilerie de Chazelle, and we have given a (very personal) review of the establishments concerned. Since restaurants often change hands or disappear altogether, we will try to keep those articles as up to date as possible. The first place to be covered : Cormatin.

Cormatin is not really a place where one would find the highlights of French haute cuisine. However, there is more than one restaurant that serves good home cooked food. We will review those places in order of appearance, coming in from Chazelle.

Pizz'a Marco
Pizz’a Marco – Grande Rue
Marco has a good assortment of pizzas, all made on the spot. If you do not want a certain ingredient on your pizza, Marco will without hesitation deviate from his recipes. His pizzas have a very nice thin bottom and are well filled, which are musts for a good pizza in my opinion. Marco has a small terrace outside, but one can also eat inside. Although he is in this sense a small pizzeria, most of his pizzas are to take away. The prices range roughly from € 8 to € 10. For those who forgot to buy some wine: he also sells small and normal size bottles of white and red.

La Terrasse
La Terrasse – Grande Rue
La Terrasse has been closed for a short period of time, but has reopened on july 1st 2013 under new ownership. The interior has been renovated, new tables, chairs and parassols have been installed, in short, the old La Terrasse has made place for a completely new one. Although I always have had a soft spot for La Terrasse old style, the new place looks a lot more inviting. We have eaten there once so far. The service is excellent, the food is good (in stead of the Plat du Jour the place offers a Suggestion du Chef, which is slightly more expensive than what the previous owner had to offer) and La Terrasse had potential to become quite a competitor for its neghbours at Les Blés d'Or, reason why I have dedicated a separate blog to La Terrasse.

Les Blés d'Or
 Les Blés d’Or – Grande Rue
This hôtel-restaurant, located next to La Terrasse, has a slightly more extended menu compared to La Terrasse. In summer there are pizzas available. The service is excellent, the food is good, and there is also a terrace where one can sip a cold beer whilst watching the village life of Cormatin. The prices and the menu are similar to those of the neighbour. 

Café de la Poste, since early 2013 also under new ownership, shares the premises now (mid 2015) with the Tabac, and the owner has developed the place from a not so efficient snackbar into a proper restaurant. About the food as well as about the service we have heard nothing but positive reactions. It might result in a separate blog once we have tried it out.

Snackbar Le Hameau des Champs
Although Cormatin cannot boast a fast food joint like a kebab place, there are some alternatives available for those not too hungry. The campsite “Le Hameau des Champs” has a snackbar also open to those not staying there.
Also Bakery Roy (Boulangerie du Château) has opened a lunchroom cum tearoom next to its shop, where one can buy the baker's products.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

15b : Eating out in Cormatin (2 of 2)

La Terrasse in Cormatin was run by a rather brusque lady, Mme Monique R., a woman requiring some instructions before use.

La Terasse, a few years back - Cormatin
We got on with her very well (which cannot be said for every one of her clientele) and we were very impressed with her cookery skills (grandmother's cuisine). It was for us a double shock to hear that, for serious health reasons, she had to sell La Terrasse. The restaurant did not stay empty for long though, and the new owner decided to renovate the rather old fashioned interior, to modernise the menu, to give the terrace itself a complete facelift and to buy the house next door in order to break through and to enlarge his indoor seating capacity. After the dust had settled La Terrasse new style has definitely established itself.

La Terrasse as of now, on a busy day - Cormatin
My first experience with the new La Terrasse was after a wreath laying ceremony on the 28th of June 2014. The local bars and restaurants in Cormatin serve, on turn, the vin d'amitié after the event, which gives "new" restaurants an opportunity to characterize themselves. La Terrasse came up with a big number of immaculate exquisite amuse-bouches, fitting for a good restaurant. We decided to try the kitchen of this place some other day. We grabbed our chance on the 8th of May 2015 (liberation day). After the wreath laying the mayor announced that the verre d'amitié was at La Terrasse, and since we often stay on in Cormatin for lunch in case the wreath laying takes place around noon, we decided to hang on in La Terrasse.

The longest parade since 2005 - Cormatin
Again this time there were amuse-bouches, and again they were a feast for the eye as well as the palate. We had to wait a bit longer than usual, but that could easily be explained by the fact that instead of the usual max. 25 suspects turning up this time the terrace was invaded by over 50 people. After we had sipped from the kir and had a go at the amuse-bouches, the meeting broke up and we went inside, into the newly opened part of the restaurant.

Wreath laying - Cormatin
Because we hardly ever eat a heavy meal for lunch, we decided to take only a main course, moisten it with a glass of local wine, and have only coffee for desert. I ordered a magret de canard, and for the first time in my life I was asked what cuisson I wanted. That is a very normal question where beef is concerned, but I was never asked that question with duck. The owner suggested rosé, and rosé it was going to be. At home I found out that the normal cuissons for magret de canard are bleu (red and bloody), rosé (pink) and bien cuit (well done). Normally I would have chosen bleu, but the rosé I had asked for was excellent and very tasty indeed.

Vin d'Amitié - La Terrasse Cormatin
The duck was served with a jacket potato and lettuce. The whole meal was very nicely presented, and the (cheap) wine we had chosen was excellent for the price we paid. This simple but more than adequate meal set us back only € 15 pp, and the price/quality ration was excellent.
Based on this experience we chose, when we were invited for a festive meal of our choice, for La Terrasse. Unfortunately this time it did not work out so well. My starter (escargots) was rather tough and chewy.

La Terrasse - Cormatin
My piece of beef, no Charollais but French, was streaked with sinew and as a whole also rather tough. The others were very happy with the salads they had for starters, but the magret de canard that was chosen by two had a peppersauce with it that was far too hot, even for my taste. Only the person who ordered poulet à la crême as a main dish was reasonably content. Everyone was very impressed with the deserts. The quality difference with the last time might be explained by the fact that the owner was not running the kitchen, as opposed to the previous occasion.

Poulet à la crême
However, the whole restaurant starts to resemble Fawlty Towers if the quality of the food is depending on the presence or not of a chef. The experiences only one month apart are too different to classify this place as a very good restaurant.
We had hoped that La Terrasse could fill the gap left behind by La Grange Finot in Bray (closed some time ago) or its successor La Régalade in Cluny (also closed down). Unfortunately this is not the case, hence we are still looking…..

Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.