Les Chatelaines et moi

I was invited to a private jewellery sale in SavignylesBeaune, at the house of a woman named Florence who I know a bit through a mutual friend (Charlotte). I’ve been to her house before, and she actually lives in a lovely abode at the back of the Domaine Chandon de Briailles, as her husband will be one day the new Count de Nicolay and inherit the family’s beautiful chateau (just across from the main chateau in Savigny). This means that although Florence is very nice and low key she is also most definitely a member of the aristocracy.

Charlotte and I had planned to go for our weekly walk that morning, then hit the jewellery sale afterwards. It’s been raining so much recently that we ended up opting to go for a walk around the ramparts (fortified walls) of Beaune rather than our usual foray into the vineyards. Just as an aside, if you haven’t tried this walk you really should – it shows a hidden Beaune of medieval alleyways and defensive towers that really captures my imagination.

Anyway, Charlotte, despite telling me the night before that she was just going to go to the jewellery sale in her walking gear as well, stopped at home to change first. It seemed a bit of a waste of time for me to double back home to change when in fact Savigny is about the half way mark on my way home from Beaune. Besides, I had a full day of work ahead of me so wasting half an hour to change seemed rather frivolous.

So I swanned into Florence’s house in my black walking pants (bit muddy from previous week’s excursion in vineyards), pink T-shirt, and grotty grey fleece I bought at Eddie Bauer about a decade ago. Luckily, the six or so ladies assembled, though undoubtedly chic, seemed not to notice. Or perhaps they were just extremely well-bred…In any case nobody but yours truly, explaining perhaps a tad too loudly that I had just been for a walk, commented on my grotty attire. The jewellery was truly lovely. I ended up buying a pendant necklace – very in here right now and called a “sautoir” – and a matching pair of earrings.

The very nice jewellery maker whom I chatted with and paid was also dressed quite casually in a nice Mexican looking embroidered shirt and jeans. As I was leaving I asked Charlotte if she was one of Florence’s friends from Savigny.

“Oh no,” Charlotte responded. “She’s the Chatelaine of Commarin.” Commarin, if you might know, is one of the most massive and impressive castles in this area of Burgundy.

Must admit that I felt a bit cowed for a few seconds. Then I remembered that I too have an illustrious background, being the descendant of a rich line of scullery maids and destitute but tenacious immigrants. Besides, this is post -revolutionary France after all! With this in mind, I straightened my shoulders and returned home in my grubs with pride.