A Burgundy diary – 21 June 2021

The maire, a path and a work in progress

Midsummers Day, and a  trip to the mayor (maire) in the mairie in Sully. I cycled down. First I could congratulate him on one of his special schemes: to have in Sully, which is the commune where I live (in Creusefond), a café multiservice – that is to say, a small outlet for some groceries, a bar, a depot de pain (sale of bread) and so one. In that respect, the aim is to give Sully some heart. My neighbour – now 93 – recalls that when she came here 50 years ago there were at least three shops. I can remember a bar, one summer in the 1990s. And there is a large 1930s building, which was once the post office: it says so still on the outside.

I went to see Emmanu Roucher, the maire – we’re on tu toi terms – about le Chemin du Pont Romain (it is not Roman at all); and to say the signs which have been posted (there are others around the commune) need some more follow through before the job is done. A farm called Mousseau is the object of the path, but to get there now would call for perseverance, and a good pair of Wellington boots. I want here to do no more than record what is still a work in progress. I shall return to the subject. But I want also to help – even financially – with a gate or two, stiles or stepping-stones, if the mayor will let me.

For now I record only a modest dream: that when my grand children (now aged 5 and 3) next are here – covid19 etc, permitting – I can give them some sandwiches and a bottle of local drink, point them to the chemin and the Pont Romain and tell them to walk down to the stream at the bottom of the hill for a picnic. That sounds fair; but for now the path just beyond the pont is stinging nettles and long – 1 meter + – grass; and a high metal gate the farmer has closed again (my grand children could neither climb it, nor undo the latch securing it). Nextthere is a boggy stretch of path leading to two defensive lines of the local farmer’s impassable barbed wire fence; a wet slope after you pass the barbed wire – if you can: I cannot without risking my virility. Beyond the wet slope, there is scrub, brambles (ronces) and dead wood, down to what I imagine to be my grand-children’s picnic site by the stream (500-600 yards – metres – from here).

And beyond the stream, if you can scramble across it, you mount on a soggy track which leads to the farm (Mousseau), the object of the expedition, started at the pont romain. The fgarm iks a cluster of buildings like a small hamlet. Last summer I chatted with a bloke who was out between the buildings, playing his saxophone: the sound carried to us here. At Mousseau you are on a former voie romaine (an old Roman pathway). And from a glance at the map, I would say you’ve travelled about a kilometre (little over half a mile)…