A Letter From Burgundy

May 19, 2017

Philippe Pot

Birth place of Philippe

Who was he? Chief Adviser to the Dukes of Burgundy, a Burgundian Nobleman, Military Leader, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Crusader, Diplomat……….
He was born in 1428 at Chateau de la Rochepot, educated at the Ducal Court in Dijon and knighted on 11th June 1452 before an important battle against the insurgents of Ghent. Prior to this he had already proved his negotiation skills in London where he successfully negotiated the release of Charles of Orleans who had been taken prisoner at Agincourt and had been a prisoner in England for 25 years.
In December 1456 he was given Chateauneuf -en-Auxois by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, as a gift after arranging his marriage with the French princess Isabelle of Bourbon. Philippe restored and fortified the Chateau and today it is one of the last remaining examples of 14th century Burgundian military architecture.
In 1468, after the death of Isabelle, Philippe negotiated another marriage for Charles the Bold with Margaret of York, the sister of Edward IV – sealing an alliance between England and Burgundy. About this time he was given the Lordship of Lilloise in Flanders.
When Charles the Bold died, Burgundy was divided between his daughter Mary and Louis XI of France. Mary did not like Philippe’s close connections with the French Court and confiscated Lille but Philippe was able to limit the control of Mary to the Burgundian Low Countries which at that time included the Netherlands. In return Louis XI named him First Counsellor, Knight of Saint Michael, Governor of the Dauphin Charles and Grand Seneschal of Burgundy.
He was involved in all major political matters and proved himself to be a skilled negotiator and diplomat on many occasions.

Philippe, Governor of Burgundy, died in 1493 and his tomb can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.

March 16, 2017

Why Burgundy?

The answer to the above question is probably that it has something for everyone, from history, lakeside beaches, beautiful countryside to the world famous wines and cheeses! On top of all of that the way of life is much slower and people have time to stop and talk – quite a contrast to some of the coastal resort areas of France.

This peaceful rural region is now combined with Franche-Comte but if we look at the four departments of Burgundy alone they are all quite different.

The Yonne, the most northerly department of Burgundy, is  famous for its Chablis wine and the charming towns of Auxerre and Avallon.

Cote d’Or, includes the beautiful historic city of Dijon and the capital of wine – Beaune. It seems that nearly every village round here has a name that has found its way on to a wine bottle!

Nievre, to the west, is the most sparsely populated and the most rural of the four departments.

Saone et Loire, or “cow country”  as I have heard it called,  seems to have charolais cows everywhere but also boasts good Maconnais white wines and the famous historic towns of Cluny and Tournus.

The prosperity of this region is based upon wine, gastronomy and tourism. Wine is produced with a passion and deep respect for traditional ways. Try a tour along the “Route des Grands Cru” or the “Route Touristique des Grands Vins”. There are many opportunities for wine tasting along the way or enjoy a wine tour at one of the famous Chateaux such as Pommard or Meursault.

As well as sampling some amazing cheeses, breads and  a wide range of Dijon mustards there are also the dishes that Burgundy is famous for: snails, frogs legs, Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin. Local fish is also quite plentiful, especially trout. Despite being land locked the region is also extremely well served with seafood. There are many local markets where shopping for fresh seasonal produce is a delight!

There are many historic routes to follow round the region, one taking in many of the chateaux open to the public, or why not try a tour of the many abbeys and cathedrals that this region is so proud of too?

Follow a nature trial, or explore some of the numerous foot paths/cycle paths and of course the Morvan National Parc, considered by many to be a perfect destination for walking, cycling, fishing and sailing.

Burgundy is considered a cultural centre and has a number of museums and Roman settlements that are well worth visiting and many concerts and  festivals throughout the year, particularly in the summer months.

There are also 1,200 kms of canals and rivers with excellent canal paths for walking or cycling.

One of the many joys of touring around is that the roads are much quieter than many of us are used to and the pace of life is leisurely too.

One last thought, there are about seventeen different golf courses across the region as well as a few rock climbing centres!

January 2, 2017

Happy New Year from Les Volets Verts

035Happy New Year Everyone! We enjoyed some snow before Christmas and some very heavy frosts over the Christmas and New Year holidays which made Morlet and the rest of Burgundy look like Winter wonderland.

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We have now enjoyed two seasons with guests at our own gite here in Morlet as well as managing a couple of other properties in Burgundy. We have welcomed many different people of many different nationalities and we have enjoyed some return visits to Les Volets Verts from guests who loved the peace and quiet and found there was also more to do here and in the surrounding area than they realised so returned to carry on exploring. We have just said good bye to some Paris guests who stayed here for a week over New Year with their young children to let them enjoy the countryside and fresh air after some recent pollution problems in Paris. The children loved the animals, particularly the donkey next door!

Our bees are settled down now in their top bar hive for the winter months and we are really looking forward to seeing them out and about in the garden in early Spring. We will have a second hive this Summer and hope to share some honey with our guests!

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November 22, 2016

Bees at Les Volets Verts

Filed under: Bees,Honey,Les Volets Verts,Uncategorized — Lesley @ 12:07

Grandson kitted up and ready to help!Grandson kitted up ready to helpThe update on the bees as promised. In June of this year we purchased a small colony, complete with queen, from a beekeeper in the Morvan National Park. They arrived in a dadant box which we placed on top of our top bar hive and transferred five bars of comb and bees to the top bar. This way the bees were still able to access the dadant but only through the entrance of the top bar. We left the bees for a week to settle down and then checked on them. There was new comb and brood so we knew the Queen was alive and well. We brushed the bees gently into our top bar and put a Queen excluder under the dadant so we would be able to see next time whether she was in the top bar or left behind with the stragglers in the dadant. We saw her on our next inspection in the top bar and removed the dadant. We were very happy and more importantly we had happy bees who seemed to like their new home!
We fed them sugar water from late summer onwards to help them build enough comb and make enough honey to see them through the winter. We put in a total of 15 kilos of sugar (which is a very large amount of sugar water put in on a daily basis)!
We have thoroughly enjoyed watching our busy bees coming and going this summer and hope they survive the winter well. Next year we will set up the dadant box as a fully functioning hive and we are looking forward to comparing the two very different ways of bee keeping.

Job well done !

Job well done !

November 11, 2016

Armistice Day 2016

Filed under: Armistice Day,Events and markets,History — Lesley @ 14:36

We joined with locals at nearby Epinac this morning to remember and commemorate the ending of the 1st World War………….. Afterwards, there were drinks in the Town Hall. In France, the cornflower is worn like the poppy is in the UK. The poppy wreath in the picture below was put in place by the British Legion, Lyon Branch, France.

October 13, 2016

Autumn in Photos

Early Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Burgundy. It always seems to be very popular with cyclists and walkers. This year, the grape harvest was late and the vines themselves are only just starting to turn – we will let the photos speak for themselves…..

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September 23, 2016

Lily at Les Volets Verts

Filed under: Animals,Les Volets Verts,Pets,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Lesley @ 12:53

Last Summer, a young male cat arrived in our garden and stayed there for a few days playing with the children who were staying in the gite at that time. To cut a long story short we now have a lovely cat called Mickey.
This Summer, our neighbours got a new kitten who arrived in our garden (and bedroom by climbing through the window) on her first day in Morlet.
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First response when meeting Mickey

First response when meeting Mickey

She was only about 8 weeks at this time and seemed desperate to get into our house. Despite the heat we kept the windows and doors shut and took her “home” on numerous occasions. She kept coming back all the time and was sleeping rough in the garden at night because we wouldn’t let her in. This was a great concern to us but she wasn’t ours and needed to go back to her own home.

She visited the guests at the gite whenever she was made welcome and we asked them not to feed her or let her in. Some guests, whose children loved playing in the garden with her called her “Miss Trouble.” She then had a marvellous time with our grandchildren who called her “Missy.” She seemed very flat when Harrison and Lilah went home because she had got used to lots of cuddles and had enjoyed spending time with two people who adored her.

Lots of fuss from the Grandchildren

We continued taking her home to our neighbours and not letting her in our house but she had made up her mind where she wanted to be on day one in Morlet and was not going to give up easily.

She slipped into the outside office whenever she could and slept on an old quilt in a cardboard box that had belonged to one of the dogs.

I can't be the house cat so I'll be the office cat.

I can’t be the house cat so I’ll be the office cat.

Meanwhile, Mickey and Lily were spending more and more time together playing and mock fighting in the garden.

In the Garden

Friends

Early September, we decided that we would have to speak to our neighbours – they had hardly seen their kitten and she had made it quite clear that she wanted to adopt us, even if we didn’t seem to want her.

We told the farmer that she had adopted us and could we adopt her? He kindly agreed that we could  and her delight when she was allowed into the house and fed and treated just like Mickey was a delight to see. We decided to give her the name Lily and after two and half weeks she is now responding to it. If I wasn’t sure before I am now a firm believer that when an animal decides where they want to be, or who they want to be with, they can be very persistent indeed.

In the house at last

Peace for how long?

Peace for how long?

September 19, 2016

Chateau de Germolles – Journees Europeennes du Patrimoine

Each weekend in September France has a Heritage weekend. Many monuments and sites that are normally closed are open for the weekend and other places which are normally open to the public have reduced fees of entry or are free.

This year we went to Chateau de Germolles near Mellecey. It is the best preserved residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. It was built during the second part of the 14th century although there had been a fortress there since the 13th century. Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, bought the chateau from local feudal Lords and gave it to his wife, Margaret of Flanders. The only remains today of the original fortress are the lower chapel and the wine cellar.

Plaque at the Entrance Gate

Ten years of transformations took place – the Duchess wanted a country estate rather than a fortress and the best architects, sculptors and painters of the time were employed. Large rose gardens were planted and sheep and other animals were farmed.

Goats where sheep once roamed

Former stables?

Former stables?

After Philip and Margaret the Chateau belonged to a further three Dukes of Burgundy – John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. After the death of Charles the ownership passed to the King of France. After the French Revolution it became the property of the Nation.

Parts of the chateau have been lost over time, mainly due to lack of maintenance but at the end of the 19th century it was purchased by a family who still own it today and repair works have been carried out.

The chateau today still has a large collection of medieval floor tiles which are decorated with motifs that were the symbols of the Dukes – roses, thistles, sheep and fleur – de – lis.

Rare wall paintings can still be seen today which date from the Middle Ages – motifs of “P” and “M”, initials of the Duke and Duchess over the walls along with thistles, the personal emblem of Margaret Flanders.

If you are interested in the history of Burgundy this Chateau is well worth visiting. We were not allowed to take interior photos showing the famous wall paintings as great care is taken with light exposure etc to preserve the paintings for future generations.

September 12, 2016

Lavault

Filed under: Burgundy — Tags: , , — Lesley @ 13:23

Last Saturday it was our local memorial service at Lavault, near Epinac to remember the four young lads who lost their lives there helping the Resistance. This year we had the words with us for the Australian National Anthem and we did a better job at singing and even had applause at the end! It was a very moving service and we would like to thank everyone who made it so special.

Our Gite – Les Volets Verts

Since our last post our bees are doing really well – more about them another time. We have also had two busy seasons with guests staying in our new gite. We have had some great reviews on HomeAway and Airbnb which makes us very happy and makes our new venture seem very worthwhile indeed after a lot of hard work.

Before we could start converting the stable we had to raise the beams to give ourselves enough head height in the gite once the new floor was in.

Beams have been lifted. This picture shows the back wall of the stable where the kitchen will be.

Beams have been lifted. This picture shows the back wall of the stable where the kitchen will be.

The next task was the new floor and then we could really start on the job, with insulation, new walls etc ready to start fitting out.

 

The hole for the new entrance door. Our original stable door has been kept so the appearance of the building on the front elevation is the same. Something we wanted to do and the Planners insisted upon.

New Entrance Door

We wanted to use a combination of old and ultra modern in the gite with a view to making it as comfortable as possible but retaining some of the old charm. We used old reclaimed wooden doors, and spent hours and hours and hours cleaning up old traditional floor tiles known locally as tomettes.

Tomettes waiting to be cleaned

Walls and Doors going in

Kitchen going in - nearly there!

Kitchen going in – nearly there!

 

Last Piece of Furniture

The settee was the last piece of furniture to go in. Some outside painting and tidying up in the garden and we were ready to receive our first guests.

We have put a number of seats in the garden so guests can choose sun or shade throughout the day.

We have put a number of seats in the garden so guests can choose sun or shade throughout the day.

Listening to our guests has been very interesting. We love our gite but the reasons they like it so much too is that besides the gite itself which they find very comfortable, they like its location. Peaceful and quiet , garden with views but close to interesting historical towns, markets and of course the vineyards!

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