Joyeuses Paques – Easter in the Morvan

I am typing this on Maundy Thursday, March 29, jeudi saint. Today Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will attend the service at The Free Chapel Of St George in Windsor, where the Maundy Money will be distributed to 92 men and 92 women – representing each of her 92 years.Digression: Pedants will know already that Maundy comes from mandatum. At the Last Supper Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another.

They don’t do Maundy money here, but there are several Easter customs and traditions which were news to us when we arrived in 2005. See here to read about ‘flying bells’ and a giant omelette made with 15,000 fresh eggs.

Poisson d’Avril

On April 1 children stick a paper fish on the victim’s back and shout ‘Poisson d’Avril!.’ Post-It notes make sticking easier.

There is a long explanation of this custom here, including their 2015 prank.

Did you know? If Paris goes ahead on its bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, the French authorities are seriously planning to move the Eiffel Tower to the top of the Champs-Élysées.

They publish a picture of how the new vista would look, but do not estimate the man-hours involved in dismantling and reassembling.

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Spring Flowers

We talk about the rustle of spring. Now it is roaring through the Morvan. Our daffodils, celandines, yellow and mauve primroses, purple and white violets are in full bloom, along with cowslips – les coucous. In the UK cowslips are a protected species. There was a stern DO NOT PICK notice beside a small clump of cowslips in our village churchyard in Suffolk. Here les coucous are common as daisies. When we first came here I transplanted hundreds of cowslips to safe havens under the trees to save them from the mower. The locals laughed uproariously. ‘Elle transplante les coucous !‘ It was as if I’d transplanted dandelions.

A deciduous wood along the road to Corbigny is carpeted with wood anemones, which spill out onto the verge. Wordsworth is famous for daffodils and to a lesser extent celandines.

There is a flower that shall be mine,
It is the little Celandine.

However, John Clare favoured wood anemones, which bloom in old deciduous woodland.

The wood anemonie through dead oak leaves
And in the thickest woods now blooms anew
And where the green briar, and the bramble weaves
Thick clumps o' green, anemonies thicker grew
And weeping flowers, in thousands pearled in dew…

Cowslips

La Poste and La Douane

John has been drawing up charts of various parts of his family tree with a view to sending them to his relations. A4 paper was not large enough, so he bought A3 paper and an A3 printer. So far so good, but when he tried to buy suitable cardboard tubes at the local branch of La Poste he discovered that they did not stock such things. Nor did our favourite local stationer (who did not stock A3 envelopes either). He did get some tubes from a specialist supplier in England but these were rejected by La Poste as there was not enough space to attach the necessary customs labels (which apparently were required even for destinations within the EU). He therefore emailed the relevant files as PDFs and left it to his relatives to find local printshops, and La Poste lost out.

A Happy Ending

Do you remember We Hate La Redoute (October 2017) and the tale of the missing sommier, the slatted bed base? Well, our Mr Fixit, Gérard Lanternier, recently came by a sommier which a neighbour was throwing out. After some good-natured barter and banter Gérard carried off the sommier in triumph and we sent his neighbour two bottles of wine.

Digression: Barter – le troc – is alive and well here. A jar of my home made chutney is worth a basket of home grown vegetables.

Gérard assembled the kit and installed the bed, complete with sommier, in Charity Cottage.

We have added Help for Heroes to our list of participating charities, and are expecting several families this summer. So the new bed with its capacious storage drawer underneath will be well used.

Rosemary Border Rabson

In 2005 Rosemary Border Rabson and husband John Rabson emigrated to the Morvan in rural Burgundy, where few other Brits have ventured. Their chief preoccupation is Charity Cottage, a holiday home-from-home in their garden at Maré le Bas which they run in aid of Combat Stress (money donations) and Help for Heroes (free accommodation). Since 2012, when Charity Cottage won the Daily Telegraph’s Best British Charity award, the total amount raised for Combat Stress, comprising UK royalties and donations from visitors to Charity Cottage, is nudging £10,000.


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