Monday, 12 October 2009

Aching Feet

In Cormatin we have a few big events in the year. “Guitares en Cormatinois” a series of concerts in the local churches generally around the theme of guitars, “Les Rendez-vous de Cormatin” a theatrical and musical events based in the Château, then we have the 14th July brocante and the bingo evening in the winter, but the biggest event of the year is the Randonnée de Cormatin which attracts a large number of people every year to follow the walks that have been laid out.

 Each one of these events has its own committee and sturdy group of followers that are needed to organise the event and make it a success. We volunteered to help out with the randonnée and were taken up on that challenge this weekend. So at seven thirty Saturday morning, before the sun was up, we were at St Roch hall, the gathering place for the organisers. Fresh brioche arrived from the baker and small strong coffees were served to fortify us for our task. There were five different walks, 7, 13, 20 & 30 km and each walk had its own colour. To complete the walk you follow the arrows on the ground and as long as you stay alert, you end up back where you started. Some randonnées are marked out better than others, on some we have been horribly lost, but the Cormatin walk is always done well. We had a big responsibility on our shoulders as we were split up into teams, armed with cans of different coloured spray paint and we were driven to our respective starting points. We had ten kilometres to mark-up with yellow and orange paint. So on this damp morning, there we were, spraying the roads of the villages around Cormatin with arrows to show the right way to go and crosses to show where not to go, all done for the walkers who might or might not turn up on what was predicted to be a very wet Sunday.

A lunch was prepared for the workers and was served at twelve in St Roch hall. Lunch is not a meal to be rushed, it is not just a sandwich and a beer, oh no, we are in France, this is a serious meal. We decided to leave the car at home and walk into Cormatin for the lunch, as we suspected that a few glasses of wine might be consumed. What a meal. The proceedings started with white wine aperitif and nibbles, lots of chat about the morning’s activities and what the weather for the rest of the weekend might be.  For starters, the mayor’s wife had made a delicious salad of chicory leaves with walnuts, ham and cheese cut up into small blocks all covered in a delicious vinaigrette sauce (maybe I’ll be able to get the recipe for the vinaigrette if it is not a family secret). When I saw that Cees was tempted into taking a second helping, I whispered that this was just the starter and not to take too much, he whispered back that I shouldn’t be silly as this was all we were getting. That’s men for you! His eyes popped out of his head when a huge casserole full of venison was placed on the table. The deer had been shot the previous weekend by none other than the mayor himself and donated generously to the randonnée workers for this lunch. It turns out later that the mayor doesn’t eat game, so he was grateful for some enthusiastic consumers. This casserole, not much more complicated than venison cooked for hours in red wine with some herbs, onion and garlic, was absolutely amazing, served very simply with boiled potatoes. Lunch them continued with cheese and finally pears poached in red wine with brioche. All of this liberally washed down with the local brew. The meal started at twelve o’clock and us ladies were finishing the washing-up at three while the men were finishing their coffees. Food is not something to be rushed, it is to be discussed and above all, enjoyed in the company of others. It is a time to swap gossip, get the latest news and to hear stories and what stories! As the wine flowed the stories got better, the ones about the mayor shooting an eighty four kilo wild boar and the funeral with the missing body will have to wait for another blog..

We got home at four o’clock, very merry and very full and just sat in the garden thinking we would never have to eat or drink again.

Sunday and we had to do the walk of course. The previous day’s kilometres had taken their toll on our untrained muscles, but never-the-less we had said we would do the twenty kilometres and so, to preserve our honour, we had to.  We arrived at the refreshments post at the half-way point and were greeted with baguettes and ham or sausage, cheese and chocolate and of course wine. That boosted our resolve and off we headed for the second half of the walk. We finally staggered back to St Roch at about two o’clock wishing we had trained better. We were then invited to join the rest of the workers for supper at seven that evening. I must admit I felt a bit guilty about saying yes after the wonderful lunch the previous day and the fact that we hadn’t helped out at all on the Sunday, but why not. The evening was a much simpler affair than Saturday’s lunch, bits of pizza from Pizz’a Marco round the corner, quiche from one of the boulangeries in the high street and left-over bread, ham, cheese and wine from the walk’s refreshment posts. There was lots of chat about the day’s events, despite the dreadful predictions, the weather had been kind, cool and cloudy in the morning and cool but sunny in the afternoon, that brought the locals out and just under 500 had participated in the various walks, all in all not bad. We chatted about the organisation and it looks like we might be on the hit-list for doing more work for the village events. A great way to meet people and get involved, and also a great way to enjoy French food at its best, in the convivial company of our neighbours.

La Tuilerie Website


  1. I like the description and pictures you presented. My wife and I are looking forward to going back to France. She is a French native and wants to show me the whole country. We still live in the States but are plans are to retire and live in France! You just reinforced our plans! Thanks!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the read. Retiring to France is a wonderful idea!


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