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.

11 August 2022

Voltaire and Lamartine in Pont-de-Veyle, Ain (01)

Pont-de-Veyle has literary associations. Augustin de Ferriol d'Argental probably had the château built, which is now the mairie. His sons Antoine de Ferriol and Charles-Augustin were friends of Voltaire from their schooldays, and that friendship continued.

In 1824 Louis Augustin de Parseval bought the château. His brother Amédée was a close friend of Lamartine, and to this day a room in the former château is called 'La Salle de Lamartine'.

10 August 2022

Pontus de Tyard in Bragny-sur-Saône, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Famous poet, and member of La Pléiade, Pontus de Tyard (1521-1605) is usually associated with Bissy-sur-Fley, in the château where he was born. But he became bishop of Chalon-sur-Saône in 1578 and died in Bragny-sur-Saône. Until relatively recently there was no recognition of his existence in the church where he is buried in Bragny, although there is now a plaque (possibly placed there in 2005, the 400th anniversary of his death. Unfortunately, the church was closed at the time of our visit.

9 August 2022

La Tour François 1er, Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

This 17th century stone constructed tower retains its original height. It also retains its original name after the eponymous king who authorised the creation of such musketeer companies.

Lavoir, Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Yeah, I know, but lavoir-spotting is a little like water tower-spotting, or windmill-spotting: but at least it beats trainspotting. This lavoir with impluvium dates from 1857, replacing a medieval well-with-lavoir which was in the middle of the street leading to the church.

Les Parapluies de Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Maybe les parapluies de Saint-Gengoux are something to do with the outdoor art exhibition, certainly they'd have more place in Cherbourg, or, say, Honfleur, but they're a decorative feature.

Artwork in Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Saône-et-Loire (71)

A number of artists have brought their art to the streets of Saint-Gengoux-le-National in the form of banners, which are on display until the end of August. This is just an arbitrary selection of them.

Hervé Bourdin, from Fresnes.

M. Alysson Duarte Rodrigues, self-taught painter.

M. Alysson Duarte Rodrigues again.

Daniel Perez, photographer from Anglet.

Christian Lefevre, from Lisbon.

Christiane Delacroix, from Dijon.

Max Lanci, from Maule.

Lavoir, Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Saône-et-Loire (71)

Again one gleaned from Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire, which at the moment is running a daily series of lavoirs in the département, which run to 500. Le Lavoir de Saint Pierre was Cheilly's second, and its construction in 1890 was of extreme urgency as the first was much too small.

Pierre de Mazenay was the material used for lavoirs in the area at the time, and this lavoir was large enough to accommodate 30 women. The lavoir was repaired in 2020.

Lavoir, Laives, Saône-et-Loire (71)

The lavoir at Sermaisey, Laives, was built in 1827 and fed by the Apcher spring. A stone above the entrance bears the names Munot and Ducrot-Verdun, the mayor and his deputy. It was renovated in 2001.

Jewish Kids Saved from the Nazi Camps, Cheilly-lès-Maranges, Saône-et-Loire (71)

The daily newspaper Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire (TJSL) mainly covers news from that département and sometimes beyond, and today (8 August 2022) it had a fascinating article on four Jewish children.

Between March and May 1943, the organisation L'Entraide temporaire sent four children from Paris to the relative safety of Cheilly-lès-Maranges, where each child was housed in a different host family, went to school and lived as normal a life as was possible under Nazi France. It goes without saying that the risk each host family was taking was enormous, and any leak of information would certainly have resulted in death for all concerned.

By a quirk of circumstance, Anne Marie Phal was the only host parent to have been awarded the title of 'Juste parmi les nations', an honour created in 1953 by the Israeli parliament for civilians who saved Jews during the war. There is a sentence translated from the Talmud on a new plaque on the grave: 'Quiconque sauve une vie sauve l'univers tout entier': 'Anyone who saves a life saves the whole universe.'

The plaque stems from the research of René Maré, who was Anne Marie Phal's nephew, and who at the time he put the original plaque in place (2019) only knew the names of three of the children. Consequently the plaque mentioned the fourth as 'un garçon au nom inconnu': René never thought he would be able to put a name to him.

However, in a few paragraphs which appear as additions to the main text, 'Comment avons-nous retrouvé [l'inconnu'] ?', LJSL says that after questioning people in the village they found memories understandably hazy or quite simply incorrect. But then, as if by magic, a book written in the 1980s, containing a chapter on Cheilly and the hidden children, and published in 2021, appears: this is Danielle Kupecek Domankiewicz's Une Constellation dans la nuit. This didn't quite reveal the boy's name, although the author – now in her eighties, is still alive and remembers his name. René Beugelmans is 88, and has now been added to the names of the other children on the plaque: Jacques Schmelz, Rose Tabacznik and Rachel Schmelz, whose life Anne Marie Phal saved. The plaque is also a memory of the other host families involved: Bourgeon, Meunier, Fremin and Ménages.

5 August 2022

Boîte à Lire in Feillens, Ain (01)

This is quite a smart one too, although the wire scratched me. As compensation  (really out of interest) I took Patrick Besson and Danièle Thompson's La Boum: they were the scenarists of the film which launched Sophie Marceau.

Bread oven in Feillens, Ain (01)

I have been unable to find no information at all on this bread oven in Feillens.

Raymond Dumay in Replonges, Ain (01)

This impressive monument, tucked away in a square in Replonges, is in honour of Raymond Dumay, who had worked as a shepherd, a schoolteacher, journalist and editor-in-chief of La Gazette des lettres. It says in Wikipédia that he was the first person to publish a guide to wine (Le Guide du vin, 1967), which I find impossible to believe. Although noted for his interest in wine and food, he wrote novels too, such as L'Herbe pousse dans la prairie, Le Rat et l'Abeille and La moisson de sel. 

Louis Desnoyers in Replonges, Ain (01)

Also close to the lavoir murals in Replonge is a superb monument to Louis Desnoyers (1802-86), novelist and journalist born in Replonges and some of his works are mentioned here: Jean-Paul Choppart, Adventures de Robert Robert and Les Boétiens de Paris. He was also a founding member of La Société des Gens de Lettres and literary director of the journal Le Siècle.

Murals in Replonges, Ain (01)

These murals of a lavoir in Replonges show washer women and men of the time when the lavoir was active, and add interest and colour to these crossroads at the village. They were made by Roger Hagnere of l’Atelier Citron Bleu.