Sunday, 29 August 2010

Camping Championship Results 2010

Well it’s that time of year again folks when the winners of the annual camping contest are announced! Ooh I can feel the excitement in my readers mounting, so I will not prolong your agony any longer. There is of course always the possibility of a last minute surge from some unexpected source, but I will risk it and I am going to announce the winners today.

For those new to this competition I will briefly recap the categories. Category 1 – the longest stay ever; Category 2 – the most cumulative tent nights and Category 3 – the most number of visits.

This year we had no serious contenders in Category 1 with the longest number of tent nights being a paltry 14 so the world champions remain Marilou and Niek with an outstanding and apparently unbeatable 25 consecutive nights way back in 2007, Cees and Bets remain second with 21 nights also in 2007 and third are Coen and Marja with 20 nights in 2009. We really would like to see some serious contenders in this category, it is as if the stamina has gone out of our campers, so come on potential campers, this is record that is crying out to be broken!

In Category 2 there has been some movement, with last years’ winners sadly not being able to come in 2010 due to family circumstances, it has allowed other campers to get within grasp of the title, however the impressive score of 56 tent nights for Johan, Janine and family still proves to be unbeatable. Hans and Joke have made inroads into their deficit, however, they remain second even though they have now clocked up an admirable 48 tent nights, not far to go! Third place stays with Marijke and Dick who also managed to improve on last years’ total and are now up to 39 tent nights. The most impressive change of position came from Janine and Mijntje who have shot up from 8th position to joint 5th, partly helped by bringing their parents with them this time (maybe that is a tip to others to help improve their rating).

Category 3 has shown the most exciting changes. Whilst Hans and Joke remain the all-time champions now up to 6 visits, Janine and Mijntje are snapping at their heals with 5 visits – it really pays to visit us twice in a season, your scores can leap that way. In joint third position we have Dick and Marijke, Bert and Engelien, Kirsty and Angus and Hans, Anja and family all with 4 visits.

Congratulations to all the winners, you can bask in your glory for another year, but don’t be complacent you never know who or what 2011 will bring.

Finally a big thank you to all our campers from the one nighters to the long stayers, you have made this a good summer, even though it was not a record breaking season!

For more information about the campsite and more pictures go to La Tuilerie Website.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Tourist Trail

One of our favourite places around here is Cluny, just 10 minutes down the road from us in Cormatin, but what is has been lacking is a good tourist guide. There are many books available about the town and the information is all there if you look, but no one has taken the trouble to pull it all together in an accessible form. The Tourist Information Office has laid out a trail around town, with the intention of filling this gap. You buy the map and information from their office for one Euro and you follow the route assisted by brass plaques on the ground.

The chosen route is excellent, it gives a good overview of everything that Cluny has to offer. At a slow meander it took us about two hours to complete, with plenty of time to view all the sites and to take another thousand photos. I must say though that the description and detail are rather lacking and the somewhat imaginative use of the English language doesn’t help to make it clear what you should be looking at. Fortunately about two years ago, information boards sprung out of the ground like mushrooms at all the strategic points and these help to supplement the missing information. In fact you could just use the route laid out by the Tourist Information Office and concentrate on the new boards and you will have a very good overview of the town.

At the beginning of this summer little electric buggies suddenly appeared in the market square. They are sort of like golf buggies that can take three passengers. These cars drive tourists around town and give a commentary in English, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and Slovak. It is a new venture set up and run by Corrine Loron and her husband who own a mediaeval house in the main street with the most magnificent staircase you have ever seen. We have watched these vehicles travelling around town with interest, promising ourselves a ride one day. This morning was fine and not yet too hot to be out and about, so off we went to try it out.

The whole journey lasts about 30 minutes and follows a super route, passing most of the main sites in the town and sneaking down some of the small side streets most tourists just don’t find. The driver was obviously very interested in the town and chipped in with extra details, like the hidden garden you can see through a grill in a wall in the Rue de la Levée and a carved face on the wall of a house in the Rue d’Avril, both things that we have walked past a thousand times and have never seen. Because the cars are electric, they are very quiet and you glide through the hoards of tourists listening to the commentary and gazing out at the lovely buildings. Well worth every penny and fun to be a tourist in your own town!

Our website La Tuilerie de Chazelle describes the accommodation we rent out during the summer months.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Celebration of an Arrival and a Departure

On 20th August 1940 a young Swiss man arrived in Burgundy on his bike. He came to help those persecuted by the Nazis and he chose a little village near the demarcation line, just inside “Free” France with its puppet regime in Vichy. The village was Taizé and the man Roger Schutz. Not such an amazing event at the time, but it was the start of something very big. Roger stayed helping Jews and Resistance fighters until the Nazis collapsed the Vichy government and occupied the whole of France. Roger then became a target himself and he was advised to leave. He returned after the war with some friends to set up a community dedicated to help those who had suffered during the war, particularly the young people. His sister joined him, to run the children’s house. Roger was a deeply religious young man as were his friends and their vision was to create an monastic order outside of any church. This order was founded officially on Easter day 1949.

The Taizé community was born. Frère Roger led the community from its beginnings of a small group of seven brothers to over 100 brothers, until he was murdered in the Church of Reconciliation itself on 16th August 2005.

Saturday evening there was a celebration of the 70 years since Frère Roger first arrived on the hill and a commemoration of 5 years since his death.

The service was held in the open in a meadow on the edge of Taizé with the buildings belonging to the community and the Romanesque church hung with icons. An area similar to the “garden” inside the community’s church was created for the monks to be together and the service began at a quarter to 8 by singing “The Lord is my Shepherd” in Filipino, courtesy of the Jesuit Music Ministry there. The service followed the usual lines of songs and silence but with Frère Alois also addressing the congregation of about 5,000 and telling them of Frère Roger, his life, his work and the influence he had had on the Christian movement throughout the world.

A special service for a special man.

Our website La Tuilerie.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


What a lovely word that is, I shall make it my word of the week! It is round and delicious and it rolls around in your mouth, but what is it? Glanage has been an inalienable right in France since the middle ages. If we do not do it, this right could be lost to future generations, so said our friend Agnès. So with such a call-to-arms, we were up for it. Looking for fruit“Come round at 7 o’clock for a quick apéro and we’ll go out when no one is around.” “Pardon me, I thought this was legal?” “Well maybe it is, but the farmers don’t like it!” Thus went our introduction to this fine tradition.

Glanage translates into English as gleaning and “is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested” according to Wikipedia. So off we went into the black current fields in Taizé which were harvested a few days ago. Black currents are used to make crème de cassis a blackcurrant liqueur which is mixed with Bourgogne Aligote (white wine) to make the popular aperitif Kir.

It is quite amazing just how much fruit is left to rot and go to waste, apparently it is just not economically viable to collect it. Not so long ago, all harvesting was still done by hand and the pickings were very thin on the ground, now there is enough fruit left for the whole of Chazelle to make enough jam for a year! The local farmThe same with the vines, seemingly tonnes of grapes are left to go to waste in the vineyards where they use mechanical pickers and Sunday afternoons in September will see hundreds of French in the vineyards collecting these left-over grapes. Seemingly nothing goes to waste, if it’s free and vaguely edible, the locals are out there collecting it.

Agnès is off to collect red and white currents over the next day or two, but Cees has banned me from going due to the fact that we have enough jam in the cupboard to last a lifetime already and if I can’t be bothered to pick my own red currents why would I go out at dusk and raid a farmer’s field - he’s got a point I suppose!

For our website about the gites we rent out click here.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Cluny – Bourg Monastique

Cluny is the place we do our supermarket shopping on a Tuesday, it’s where we go to the market on a Saturday and the place we generally go to our do everyday things. It is easy to forget the original purpose of the town, to ignore the buildings and to not notice the town's rich civil architecture. Cluny was in fact built by the abbey solely to furnish its needs, before the abbey, there was no Cluny and Cluny only became a “real” town with a town hall and a mayor after the collapse of the abbey, up until that time it was governed by the abbey itself.

Cluny-romanesque house with claires-voies The abbey needed blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, wine merchants, butchers, bakers etc etc and so outside the walls of the abbey a town was formed to provide these facilities. The original town is Romanesque in style with some Gothic alterations and some later “disastrous” Renaissance rebuilding. The houses were constructed with the workshop or the shop on the ground floor and the accommodation on the first and second floors. If you look at the buildings in the town you can see how many have a large arched opening on to the street and a small door next to it which originally led to the first floor.

A special architectural feature of the Cluny houses are the claires-voies (clerestories in English) which are a series of windows on the first floor, normally in pairs and always with a window seat so that the residents could sit and show off their finery. The windows have highly decorated columns in the middle of a pair and intricate lintels above them. The strange thing about these windows is their link to status. Apparently the higher your status or the more money you had, the more claires-voies you had in your house. A house with only one pair was very modest indeed and there were houses with up to twelve of these things – someone really trying to show off or impress!

Anyone who has visited Cluny recently could not fail to notice that the abbey and therefore the town, is celebrating 1100 of existence. So just for this year (starting in May and continuing into September) there are walks around Cluny orgainsed by the residents of some of these magnificant medaeval houses. The walks are free but restricted in the number of people who can take part in each one and no one is allowed to follow more than two of the walks. Jean-Luc Maréchal Back in May we followed the walk “secrets d'escaliers” led by Corinne Loron which took us into some magnificant buildings to see their staircases. All of these buildins are someone’s home and so not normally open to the public. In July we followed “secrets de murs” with Jean-Luc Maréchal which led us around the town looking at the architectural features of the walls, including of course the claires-voies. The guides are very enthusiastic and knowledgable about Cluny’s “hidden” architectural treasures and Jean-Luc Maréchal got so carried away about the visit to his house on the first walk we did, he dressed the part.

Now when we walk to the bank or sit on a terrace in town having lunch, we look at the buildings in a very different light.

For information about our gites and campsite less than 15 minutes from Cluny click here.
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