16 September 2022

Émile Violet in Hurigny (Saône-et-Loire)

Émile Violet (1877-1975) was born in Clessé (Saône-et-Loire) and died in Mâcon: he was a writer steeped in the history of the Mâconnais area. He was one of the most prominent members of the Société des amis des arts et des sciences de Tournus, a learned group founded in 1877, and was a founder of the Musée Greueze and the local library in Tournus.

The house where he was born now carries his name, as does a square in Mâcon where roadworks were taking place. However, I found this street named after him, where he used to live in Hurigny. His publications are numerous.

11 September 2022

Elizabeth Windsor, the state of the UK, etc

The Sex Pistols's Anarchy in the UK is today a most ironic title for a country which is now destined to right-wing anarchy: free trade, minor state intervention, etc. I've just noticed this in The Guardian, which shows a far truer picture of the monarchy in general than the one depicted in the whole of the national daily press (with the exception of the Morning Star):

'Harvard University history professor Maya Jasanoff wrote in the New York Times that the Queen’s stoic presence in life as a “fixture of stability” underlined a “stolid traditionalist front over decades of violent upheaval”.

She pointed out that months after Elizabeth II learned of her father’s death from treetops in Kenya and became queen, British colonial authorities in Kenya suppressed a rebellion against the colonial regime known as Mau Mau, which, according to the New York Times, “led to the establishment of a vast system of detention camps and the torture, rape, castration and killing of tens of thousands of people”. The British government eventually paid £20m in a lawsuit by Kenyan survivors.

Cornell University professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi decried the “theater” surrounding the Queen’s death. He tweets "If the queen had apologized for slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism and urged the crown to offer reparations for the millions of lives taken in her/their names, then perhaps I would do the human thing and feel bad. As a Kenyan, I feel nothing. This theater is absurd." I'd prefer to call it an insane fascist circus.

4 September 2022

Paray-le-Monial mosaics, Saône-et-Loire (71)

 With its Maison de la Mosaïque contemporaine and its Musée Paul Charnoz, Paray-le-Monial is mosaic city. What interests me far more is what is on the street, even if it's not as wonderful as the mosaics in the museums. Between the Rue des Deux-Ponts and the Avenue Charles de Gaulle are a number of small mosaic tiles organised by the Maison de la Mosaïque contemporaine in 2016, involving twenty students and organised by Marie-Laure Besson and Mélaine Lanoë. A trainspotter's delight.

Louise Labé, Parcieux-en-Dombes, Saône-et-Loire (71)

The poet Louise Labé (1524-66) was born in Lyon and died in Parcieux. She wrote about the pain of women's love, and unfortunately the work she left the world only amounts to 662 lines. She was born Louise Charly, which was the name of her apprentice ropemaker father Pierre. Pierre had married the widow of the rich ropemaker Jacques Labé, whose surname Pierre appropriated to ensure his continued presence in the profession. On the death of Pierre's wife, he remarried and Louise is the fruit of this second marriage. She kept her father's assumed name, and married a rich ropemaker herself, hence her epithet 'La Belle Cordière'. The Mairie carries a photo of her sculpted bust as a logo.  She lived in Le château de Grange-Blanche (now private property) to the north of the bourg, where she died.

3 September 2022

Émile Demaizière, Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Émile Demaizière (1867-1929) was born in Beaune and died in Mâcon. He was a regional historian who lived in the house where this plaque is affixed. He was president of the Société des arts, sciences & belles lettres de Mâcon, a member of La Société d'histoire du Canada, and is noted for his book La Mort d'Emile Le Bon (1927).

2 September 2022

Georges Lacomte, Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Georges Lecomte (!867-1958) was born in Mâcon and was an art critic, an author of literary, historical and artistic studies, a novelist and a dramatist. He was also a firm Dreyfusard. He was the father of the novelist and journalist Claude Morgan. He at first wrote a few plays, then many novels,  and many works of non-fiction.

La Sculpture de la Femme de la Liberation, Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire (71)

L'Arbre de la Liberation has, in a sense, two lives. The first plaque tells of the planting of the maple tree in September 1945 as a celebration of the first anniversary of the liberation of Mâcon in Le Square de la Paix. Seventy-seven years later came the second generation of the tree, which had had to be felled.

In early August this year the wood sculptor Jacques Pissenem began the work of transformation of the original tree into a female shape, clenched fist protected by a wing. A hole with rotten wood on a level of the lower head of the woman was found, although this was not intrusive. Far from it, in fact, as this represents the suffering of women.

18 August 2022

Gabriel Voisin, Le Villars, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Interestingly, the British movie Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965) is called the rather different Ces merveilleux fous volants dans leurs drôles de machines: and Gabriel Voisin, a pioneer of aviation, is frequently referred to as a 'fou volant': 'fou' by no means always has the pejorative connotations as the English 'mad'.

Gabriel worked with his brother Charles until he died in 1912, and there are many photos of them with hydroplanes, bi- and tri-planes. Gabriel turned his many skills to automobiles in 1918: he was a friend of Le Corbusier, who admired his futuristic cars.

Voisin was a playboy who had no sense of control over money, and was bankrupted on a number of occasions. And a genius he certainly was, inventing guns, traps, ovens, furniture, etc. He was also a painter and sculptor. He wrote four books: La Naissance De L'Aéroplane (1927); Mes 10 000 cerfs-volants (1960); Mes mille et une voitures (1962); and Nos Étonnantes chasses (1963).

Voisin moved to Le Villars with his second wife Juliette, then to nearby Ozenay. He is buried in the tiny cemetery in tiny Le Villars, as is his wife.

Pierre Semard, Bragny-sur-Saône, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Pierre Semard (1887-1942) was born in Bragny, so it is fitting that he should have this memorial in the place where he was born. Many other places, too, honour him. He became a revolutionary trade union railway worker, and a national figure. In 1921 he was elected general secretary of La Féderation des cheminots, and left Valence for Paris.

After being arrested in World War II, Semard was sent to several prisons before being executed in Évreux prison. He is buried in Père-Lachaise, along with his wife Juliette (1895-1979). His daughter Yvette was imprisoned, and her partner André Berthelot was killed by the Nazis in Mont-Valérian in 1943.

15 August 2022

The Lavoirs in Sennecé-lès-Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Sennecé-lès-Mâcon's lavoir in rue Vrémontoise is one of two lavoirs which remain in the village. Weirdly, a sign in French alone says the water isn't drinkable, and another (in French, English and German) says bathing is prohibited: now who'd have imagined that? The griffon's head is quite a normal sign. 

The second is on Chemin de la fontaine Pétouzan by the D103 and also contains the 'no bathing' sign. I don't notice an 'eau no potable' one, but then there's a drought on at the moment (I'll leave emoji out).

13 August 2022

Lavoir, Sancé, Saône-et-Loire (71)

The lavoir at Sancé was built by a man named Roch, and the date and surname of the mayor of the time are on a brick on the building: Philibert Béranger, 1848. The water source feeding the lavoir is clearly visible here.