“Kodak Moment” – by Debbie Ambrous

May 24, 2018of the Burgundy, France Journal

Published normalement (normally) bi-weekly on Sunday

What more could I desire for a Kodak Moment?  A landscape of golden yellow fields as far as the eye could see, contented milky-white cows, lazily visiting together like an old-fashioned family reunion and a stone building that could be listed as a fixer-upper with a million dollar view were all waiting for me when I cried out for Jim to stop.  Traffic was whizzing past on the busy road, but patient Jim pulled over for me to dash across for the Kodak Moment.  Years ago, I bought 15 or more rolls of Kodak, or Fuji film, for our trips to France and other countries.  The advertisement on the stone building possibly dates back to the time when I would run out of film at the worst moments.  Thankfully, I could click away on this gorgeous day until the cows grew restless and started swishing their tails and sharpening their horns on the fence posts.  Or, was that husband Jim swishing his tail in the driver’s seat and sharpening his car horn, growing tired of waiting for me?

No horn-blowing, gestures or words were required since my internal detection is more sensitive than Homeland Security in such instances, after years of traveling with the man at the wheel.  We had a generous extended ticket to tour the interior of the magnificent Chateau Commarin, and we did not intend to miss the entry time!

We were following La Route Des De Ducs Bourgogne, visiting chateaus with plus de 1000 ans d’histoire.  The brochure instructed us to keep our tickets and present them at each chateau on the route for a reduced price.  We saw seven of the thirteen shown on the map.

The blurb on the brochure had this description of Chateau Commarin: “In the same family for over 8 centuries, the Chateau de Commarin was reworked during the 18th century by the Marquise d’Antigny, grandmother of the well known bishop, the Prince de Talleyrand, minister for Foreign Affairs and today houses an exceptional decorative art collection.  The unique early 16th century heraldic family tapestries, together with the beauty of its works of art, furniture and rich 17th century decoration are a living testimony of the generations who have lived here.Stone lions guard the entryway with towers, moats and statuary promising an opulent interior.  Our first room for the tour was the kitchen, like the side-door to my house which leads to the kitchen which is usually the favorite for friends and family.  I don’t have as much copper in my Alabama-French cottage as the massive kitchen in the chateau, but I’m working on it When I lingered in the kitchen for more photos, our sweet guide teased that the kitchen must be my favorite since I liked to cook.  I started to tell her that Jim was the cook at home, but I decided to go along with her conclusion since the kitchen is one of my favorites in chateaus and I can whip up a delicious pie!

Across the courtyard from the kitchen is the horse stable and next in line is the chapel.  The grand salon is upstairs, a great distance from the kitchen.  None of this open, airy plan, all in one room, modern living is found in ancient chateaus!  The colors and decoration of the ceiling in the chapel were amazing!We paused in the foyer before we climbed the wide, grand stairway to the beautiful rooms filled with grandeur.  Protection from the hordes of tourists is of utmost importance, so we had to wear covering over our shoes.  Bright blue covers like the bonnets that doctors, nurses and patients often wear in surgery were slipped over our dirty shoes.  I didn’t mind except I was worried about slipping and falling on the marble foyer, or even worse the massive stone steps. 

I smiled at a very distant memory as I carefully held the handrail and advanced up the stairs in my blue slippers.  When my mama was elderly and no longer as sharp as she used to be, she developed some odd habits.  She always enjoyed being outside in the flowers, and old age didn’t stop her.  She carried a plastic stool and she positioned it by the flowerbed, so she could plant and weed.  Nothing strange about this, I suppose.  But here is the oddity.  She wore plastic bread sacks over her shoes to protect them from the dirt and stuff.  She saved the plastic bread bags and put them over her shoes with a large rubber band at the top to keep the whole arrangement in place.  No, she would not wear any pretty gardening shoes.  She didn’t care that she looked odd, or unfashionable.  Only her uppity daughter Debbie was embarrassed.  I was hundreds of miles away most of the time when Mama weeded her flowerbeds wearing Holsum bread sacks on her feet.  But there was one time when I was home and Mama needed something from the store.  Standing on the front porch in her plastic shoe accessories, she said she would ride with me to pickup whatever she needed.  I insisted that she remove the plastic gear!  She would have none of that and she was going with me!  No amount of reasoning penetrated La Maman’s mind.  Once we were there at Fred’s, she had multiple coupons for bargains, and she went up and down every aisle.  I followed at a distance, and I noticed a teenage boy laughing and pointing at Mama.  He was telling his friends about the bread-sack lady, watching from around the corner.  I felt like warning him that his day was coming when his elderly parents would embarrass him. Then, suddenly they are gone and you will realize they are much wiser than you ever knew.  Mama was always thrifty, but she always dressed beautifully when she was younger.  She was as pretty, even prettier, than the ladies on the walls of the chateau!Most bread in France comes with a minimal paper wrapping, no plastic bags.  So I couldn’t recommend a savings in the budget for the chateau owners for their garden gear.  The opulent interior of Renaissance tapestries and imperial busts wouldn’t remind anyone of bargain-hunting.  The floor is covered with glazed tiles, dating from the second half of the 15th century.  Over the chimney is a huge portrait of King Louis XV.  Imagine lounging on the blue chaise by the grand piano.  Several family photos from more recent times were displayed on the piano.

The dining room with more paintings and tapestries is equally grand with unusual serving pieces in the shape of a boar’s head, a rooster and vegetables.

I liked the yellow bedroom dating from 1725 with a bed covered in 18th century silks.  On the fireplace mantel is a clock from around 1780, called a skeleton clock which shows the months, the days, the moon quarters and zodiac signs.  A small library is through the next door, but no photography was allowed here.  The books in the library show the taste of the noble lady with prayer books, history, encyclopedia, philosophy and work of the authors from Burgundy, such as Marquise de Sevigne and Bussy-Rabutin.  I wondered what anyone would think of my reading selection.

Desks positioned at windows drew my attention.  What would I write with such a grand view?  I must have a window near my computer when I write.  Words are formed on the clouds, among the blooms of my hydrangea, or out on a limb when I’m a risk-taker, shortly before they are typed on the keypad.

 

A Kodak Moment was forming at the gates of Chateau Commarin when we exited.  Porsche, Austin Healey and Jaguar were represented in the classy line of the best automobiles to grace the roadway.  We didn’t miss this opportunity for a close-up view.  I selected the baby blue Austin Healey as my favorite, and Jim seemed to agree.

 

They decided to leave much too soon, probably because the chateau was closing for lunch.  Then, when the beautiful cars came to life on the open road, the bright red Porsche would not crank!  Oh, the mortification of it all!!  At least he didn’t have a Mama in the gift shop wearing bread sacks on her feet!

After the automotive Kodak Moment, we had lunch at the Restaurant de l’Auxois at Vandenesse, the village with the Burgundy canal which was a grand star in the last blog story.  I grabbed this opportunity to get a close-up shot of the Chateauneuf Chateau and laundry on lines by the canal.Since we were making good time with our plans for the day, we added a short jig up to Saulieu which has a gastronomic reputation.  On this particular day we were entertained by the artistic creations displayed through the town on street corners and in front of shops.  My first view was a massive whale head appearing through the shrubbery by a polar bear.  A gorilla covered in colors like a snow cone with all flavors, greeted me at the car park.

I must mention the artist for these creation is Olivier Courty. That was only the beginning.  We wished that we had enough time to see the Musee Francois Pompon.  With a name like Pompon, how could it be boring?  Another time, for sure, we must return.  More Kodak Moments are out there waiting.  We just need to look.

For further information on Chateau De Commarin see: Facebook & twitter: ChateauCommarin   Instagram: chateaudecommarin

Y’all come back next time to see Chateau De Sully, owned by a Scottish Duchess.  Thanks for coming around to visit.

You can read more about France, including more about Burgundy.  Just click over to purchase your copy of “A French Opportunity” in paperback or KindlePlease feel free to share this website with others.

 

More photography from this story and others can be seen on the page France-storytelling and picturesCLICK here or just look for the tab at the top of this page.    

All photography is the property of Debbie Ambrous.

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