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The Real Taste of the Ile de Ré
PACKED FULL OF SUNSHINE
Scenic Cycle Routes
Where to eat Where to shop Who to call!
ial Summertime SpecNIC S GREAT DAYS OUT & PERFECT PIC
PLUS! Our exclusive interview with Peter James, relaxing at Le Couvent des Cordeliers and more
Available in Charente ~ Charente-Maritime ~ Deux-Sèvres ~ Vienne ~ Haute Vienne & Dordogne
Who would believe that after the drought of last year, we would be complaining of too much rain this year! Only time will tell if this is merely a ‘blip’ in our weather or signs of climate changes set to continue. Whichever it is, there are still plenty of great things to get out and do across the region and we’ve got lots of ideas for you in this edition – perfect picnic spots and recipes, more great days (and evenings) out as well as fabulous places to stay and restaurants to try. After all, those of us who hail from over the Channel have never let a little bit of rain stop us enjoying ourselves! Please continue to send in your ideas and suggestions to us here at Living HQ, we’re always looking for great new places to try and attractions to visit - all in the line of work, of course! And finally, thank you for all the encouragement and kind words we have received about the new look Living – keep telling our advertisers you saw their advert here and we will be able to continue to bring you Living for FREE! À bientôt
L i ving
Snippets News and interviews from around the region
A Feast of an Island Specialities from the Ile de Ré
Hook, Line and Sinker Sea fishing on the Atlantic coast
Pardon! with Emma-Jane Lee
Days Out Where to go with visitors during the school holidays
Peter James Our exclusive interview by Sandie George
Summer Sounds Romantic Hideaway Discover Le Couvent de Cordeliers Crickets, grasshoppers and other garden insects
Full Cycle Cycling in Deux-Sèvres
LIVING MAISON: Homes, Food & Gardening
Nikki Legon’s Kitchen To the Heart of Things Finding the source of La Charente Picnic inspiration
The Wheelbarrow Gardener Selecting the perfect tree for your garden PRACTICAL LIVING:
Your questions answered Health, wealth and DIY
Upbeat with Roger Moss
Book Review with Sandie George
MARKET PLACE The best services and suppliers across the region
EDITOR: Kathryn Dobson FEATURES EDITOR: Roger Moss ART EDITOR: Nadia Van den Rym PRODUCTION MANAGER: Justin Silvester ADVERTISING: Jon Dobson, Sam Bottomley REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Trevor Bridge, Ron Cousins, Sandie George, Teresa Hardy, Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki POITOU CHARENTES Legon, Chris Luck and Stig Tomas WITH THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler, Julia Moss PHOTOGRAPHY: Shutterstock and Roger Moss unless indicated COVER IMAGE: Saint Simon by Roger Moss - www.rogermoss.com FOR ALL EDITORIAL & SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 00 33 (0)5 49 87 29 71 FOR ALL ADVERTISING: email: email@example.com or telephone Jon on 00 33 (0)5 49 87 29 71 PUBLISHED BY: SARL AMM, 2 Rue Buffefeu, 86400 Linazay FRANCE. Poitiers: 533 624 128. www.ammfrance.com PRINTED BY: Rotimpres S.A.,Pla De L’estany S/N,17181 Aiguaviva, Espagne. Tirage: 16.500 Dépôt légal août 2012 ISSN: 2259-6526 All material may not be reproduced without the express permission of SARL AMM. Toute reproduction même partielle du contenu est interdit sans l’accord écrit du magazine. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere around the world. Articles in this issue do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine. >>>>>>>>>>>>>> SUBSCRIPTIONS START AT ONLY €28 FOR SIX EDITIONS - see www.livingpoitoucharentes.com for more information <<<<<<<<<<<<<<
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NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION....
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A day out in Cognac
Catherine Perrier-Dumont spent many happy summers at her grandparents’ home in Barro. She returned to live in the area with her husband, Jean-François, 8 years ago after a career in international business development based in Paris. She now lectures at EGC Angoulême (a business school) and Poitiers University, and helps organise BarrObjectif, the annual photographic festival. How did BarrObjectif start?
Théo Pinganaud (a photo reporter, who has a family house in Barro) and Pierre Delaunay (a wellknown photographer from Ruffec) decided to invite Patrick Chauvel, a renowned war reporter, to exhibit some of his photos in the salle des fêtes in Barro. It just started with one exhibition and a conference. It was successful and so they invited another photo reporter the following year. Year after year, there were more and more photos and the idea emerged to exhibit outside in the whole village, and to print the photos in very large sizes. Now in its 13th year, BarrObjectif exhibits around 35 photographers each year with something like 900 photos scattered around the village streets, in the barns, church, gardens, even in the river Charente. The festival is now one of the major cultural events in the Nord Charente with more than 10,000 visitors. What is your involvement?
Since 2003, I have been involved in the operational organization of the festival - Théo and Pierrot are artists and as the festival grew, they
needed someone with organizational skills! I am now President of the association “BarroPhoto” which organizes the festival. What does this year hold?
The main guest is Jane Evelyn Atwood who was born in New York and has lived in Paris since 1971. She is one of the world’s leading photojournalists and will be in Barro to talk about her work on 22 September. This will also be our second year of organizing training workshops for professional photographers during the festival (this year with Eric Bouvet and Jane Evelyn Atwood). Finally, we are also very much involved with local schools - 800 children visit BarrObjectif with their teachers. Do you have a hidden Charente gem to share with us?
The little Roman church of Lichères. Its situation in the middle of the countryside makes it really special.
BarrObjectif will be held from 22-30 September, entry is free. For more information visit www.barrobjectif.com/
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For a great day out, why not explore both Cognac town and its most famous export? Situated only a short walk from each other, Cognac’s Musée d’art et d’histoire and Musée des arts du cognac invite you to discover the history and traditions of the town and the drink. Browse the varied collections in the Art and History museum including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and archaeology, before heading down the hill to the Arts du cognac. Here you will be immersed in the world of the ‘liqueur of the gods’ and guided through the many skills that take the grape on the vine to the product you see in store. Both museums are covered by the same entrance ticket, so combine them with a picnic in the neighbouring gardens or on the banks of the Charente to make a fun day for all the family. Who knows, you may even find time for a bit of shopping too! Entrance costs €4.80 for adults, €3.50 for 65+ and is free for under 18’s. Both museums open Wednesday-Sunday, see www.musees-cognac.fr for more details.
Saffron Celebrations For a fête with a difference, join the Charente association SAFRAN on 25 August at Champniers (near Angoulême) for their tenth anniversary. Visit the bulb plantation or have a saffron infused lunch before browsing the market stalls and enjoying the evening entertainment. For more information, visit http:/ /acteurs.cc-braconne-charente.fr
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The perfect getaway… Owners of the popular CoCo Boutique in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Coco and Vincent Hearne have recently opened Les Chambres de CoCo, a luxury chambre d’hôtes offering three bedrooms and two suites in nearby Nabinaud. Coco, from the Beaujolais region, and Vincent, from the UK, set out to create somewhere that they would like to stay – with all the comforts of today but without the formality that can make places uncomfortable. Says Vincent, “We realised that there was a gap locally, there was either good value, cheap and cheerful accommodation or high end deluxe - we have tried, and hopefully succeeded, in bridging this gap.” The couple have sympathetically restored their Manoir which was originally built in 1830. Set in its own grounds with swimming pool,
CREDIT FRANZISKA HASSE
Gloria Hasse is a lady who likes to bring her work on holiday with her! A gallery owner in Frankfurt, Gloria has invited several of her artists to exhibit at her home in Forge near Vitrac St Vincent this summer. The open air exhibition will feature several German artists including Kohei Hahn (pictured), Juliane Herden and Andreas Hinder as well as Alan Sidney from the UK and local Dutch artist Liesbeth de Jonge. Tel: 05 45 39 61 62, keramikum@ keramikum.de
rose garden and boules pitch, it is a haven of tranquillity and is decorated throughout with paintings by the acclaimed local artist John Gregson (whom many of our readers will remember from an earlier edition of Living Poitou-Charentes). Included in the room rate are breakfast, taxes, WiFi, tea, coffee and soft drinks. Coco explains, “We want our guests to be able to relax and feel at home, there’s nothing worse than worrying about additions to the ﬁnal bill. We even run an honesty bar so everyone can concentrate on just enjoying the facilities and relaxing.” We can’t wait to go – how about you? Les Chambres de CoCo, Bonnaud, 16390 Nabinaud Tel: 05 45 78 16 88 www.leschambresdecoco.com Fully inclusive room rates start at 95€
The charming rural commune of Breville (between Matha and Cognac) is hosting the 10th Art & Passion du Bois from the 18-26 August. Featuring word turning, sculptures and other associated arts and crafts, the fair welcomes artists from as far afield as Canada and New Zealand culminating in a market on the final weekend. Entrance costs €5 and more information can be found at www.breville.org
Va Va Voom!
EXCITING NEW ART GALLERY IN VERTEUIL
Having fallen for the charms of three ruined barns, artists Jane Courquin and Nichollas Hamper moved to Verteuilsur-Charente in 2005. The barns have now been lovingly renovated and the couple live and work in their unique home, painting and running art courses in their large art studios. To showcase their artwork, the couple have now opened Atelier 32 in Verteuil, a gallery where they will be ‘artists in residence’ over the summer season. Nichollas studied at The Slade School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London where he won several prestigious prizes. Jane studied at Cheltenham Art College, Sussex University, Brighton, Der Freie Universitaet Berlin and Westminster College/Oxford University. They have both exhibited widely before moving to France and their work is held in numerous private collections as well as in the UK National Art Collection. They met in 2002 whilst exhibiting at the Stuckist Art Exhibition held at the Brixton Fridge Gallery, London. Since living in France they have both continued to develop their own inimitable styles which can be appreciated in their recent paintings currently on display in Atelier 32.
ATELIER 32 - 32 Rue des Halles 16510 Verteuil-sur-Charente. Art courses run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Further information Tel 05 45 30 13 92. Email: nichollas firstname.lastname@example.org www.nichollas hamper.com
One of the highlights of the Angoulême calendar takes place over the weekend of the 14-16 September, which culminates with 160 vintage cars hurtling round the tight bends of the Circuit des Remparts in a series of races. For a more sedate view of the cars, visit Angoulême on Friday evening for the Concours d’Élégance to watch the cars parade through the historic town centre, or ﬁnd a vantage point on Saturday’s rally course through the south Charente. Full details can be found at www.circuit-des-remparts.com
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A must for all boating enthusiasts, the week-long Grand Pavois is held at La Rochelle each September. 100,000 professionals and visitors ﬂock to see over 750 boats with more than 300 displayed in the water, making it one of the biggest shows of its type in France. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Grand Pavois, the guest-of-honour country this year is Brazil who will be showing boating enthusiasts and tourists alike what the country has to offer. The highlight
of the show is the Voiles de Nuit when the outer harbour comes to life with parades including legendary boats such as the three-masted Belem and La Recouvrance, a sloop replica, all set against a light and ﬁrework show. With over 1,300kg of ﬁreworks, the ﬁrework show alone lasts 45 minutes! Grand Pavois: 19 - 24 September. Tickets: 10€ for adults and 6.50€ for 13+, under 12s free. Voiles de Nuit: 22 September, from 7pm. See www.grand-pavois.com
Pleins Feux Straddling the Gironde Estuary, the dŽpartements of the Gironde and
Charente-Maritime come together under the banner of the SMIDDEST to manage and promote their common waterway. As well as maintaining the estuary, SMIDDEST also arranges a summer season of events to promote the estuary. Six lighthouses and three ports open their doors to the public over the course of nine weeks, culminating in an acrobatic dance, 64m in the air, from the Phare de la Coubre at La Tremblade, accompanied by live tzigane and klezmer music. All the events are free and full details can be found on www.estuaire-gironde.fr.
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Scènes de Jardins
The tenth edition of this popular series sees more than thirteen events over eleven evenings across a variety of different genres. Each event is staged in a setting not normally open to the public, ranging from private homes to vineyards and châteaux. Starting on Saturday 11 August with a concert at Fenioux by pianist Marc Villa, the programme includes a piano and cello recital, mime and acrobatics, a musical promenade, Thomas Ottogalli (photo) in concert and open-air theatre. Dates: 11-22 August. Tickets: 10€ adults, 5€ students, under 6s free. A family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) costs 25€. www.comedie-eperon.com
On the beach
The Poitou-Charentes Volleyball league includes over 50 clubs with 10,000 members playing both volleyball and beach volleyball. For the past five years, the league has organised a Teen Beach Tour to travel throughout the region offering the opportunity to try the sport and to watch it being played. This year, Olympic and World champion Irina Gorbatiouk has joined the tour to share her knowledge – an opportunity not to be missed for all budding volleyballers! The tour passes through the fourteen major towns and beaches in the region, staying two to three days at each with a full programme of activities open to children from the age of three upwards. August dates include Fouras, Marennes d’Oléron, St Denis d’Oléron, Jonzac, Châtelaillon and Niort. See www.poitou-volley.fr for more information.
An excellent way to avoid the summer trafﬁc and see the sights in CharenteMaritime is to purchase a Pass’ combining public transport and reduced entry to tourist attractions. There are different types of Pass’ for La Rochelle or Rochefort to Ile d’Aix and La Rochelle to Rochefort or Ile d’Oléron or Ile de Ré. The tickets cover a variety of bus, rail and sea-bus services as well as the possible hire of bikes. For details and prices, see http://en.passpartout17.org/
Heritage weekend After a busy tourist season, the ﬁnal fanfare for many sites before they close for the season is the Journées du Patrimoine when entry is offered free or at a preferential rate by participating sites. Alongside commercial sites, many private homes and businesses also open for the weekend, making this a unique occasion to see inside historic buildings not normally open. This year’s theme is “Les patrimoines cachés” – the hidden heritage – and the dates are the weekend 15-16 September. The detailed programme for Poitou- Charentes was not available as we went to press but will be available nearer the time on www.journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr.
The streets of the picturesque village of Saint Savinien sur Charente, designated a Village de Pierre et d’Eau, are adorned with the works of 130 international artists throughout August. Les Arabesques is an outdoor exhibition of paintings, drawings and photographs, all reproduced in large format (1.5m x 1.5m). Suspended above the roads and attached to historic buildings, the artworks form a colourful and thought-provoking installation throughout the summer months. The exhibition is the culmination of 6 months of hard work for the volunteers behind the project, more than 600 requests are received with 230 works being entered…and then the selection of the final 130 begins. See www.lesarabesques.org for all details.
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HELP IS AT HAND...
...for visitors requiring wheelchairs in La Rochelle. Along with the famous Yélo bicycles for hire, ten wheelchairs have been donated by the local Lion Club. These can be rented for 1.10€ per hour, with the first two hours free (a deposit of 150€ is required). For more information see www.yelo-larochelle.fr.
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The annual Nuits Romanes festival opened to great acclaim with the Champs-Elysées Orchestra at the beautiful l’église de Saint-Hilaire, Melle, in July. Playing ‘The Four Seasons’ by Vivaldi they were joined by trapeze artists from the Compagnie Transe Express. If you missed the opening night, then don’t worry as they are performing three more dates across the region at Charroux (86) on 28 July, Baignes-Sainte-Radegonde (16) on 11 August and Esnandes (17) on 1 September. Funded by the region, the programme of free concerts and events in many of the region’s most historic venues runs until the 1 September. Overall, more than 150 events are planned and over 1400 volunteers participate along with 750 artists. For full details of the programme, visit the website www.nuitsromanes.poitou-charentes.fr
Sports week As part of their Millennium celebrations, Parthenay are hosting a week of sports from the 25 August to 1 September. Come and see (and join in!) sports as diverse as rugby and athletics to model boating. Each evening there will be music and refreshments, and entry is free and open to all. Collect points for all the sports you try and you could even win a prize (there are prizes for children, teenagers and adults). See www.parthenay2012.com for more information.
MAD HATTER’S FESTIVAL Remember to hurry to the Mad Hatter’s Festival to hear some great bands – tickets cost 20€ including dinner. 17-18 August at Le Breuillac, 79190 Caunay, tel: 05 49 27 67 29
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Following a career in education, Gordon Simms moved to France with his wife Jocelyn ten years ago. Both are published writers and Gordon is President of the association behind the St Clémentin LitFest being held for the first time this year. What were your plans on moving to France? To live in a watermill and spend our retirement gardening and writing, but we hadn’t fully bargained for the large amount of renovation we’ve had to undertake!
and of course, with fellow members of the committee and adhérents to co-ordinate our efforts. And paperwork... And legwork!
Where do you recommend visitors go to appreciate the Pays du Bocage? What do you write? The countryside is typical of the I write poetry and plays, and have bocage in the Shakespearean sense just had a full collection of poems – small fields and hedgerows, rivers, published. Jocelyn has had poems rolling hills and woodland. To fully published and also wrote Colour savour the area, follow the quiet Matters, an exploration of the lanes to discover the watermills, significance of colour in our creative windmills, wayside chapels along one lives. Together, we run creative of the routes to Compostella, shrines writing courses and also organise and Romanesque churches. In the Segora writing competitions. our village of St Clémentin, we have the beautiful 13th century Chapelle And now, a literary festival, des Rosiers with its frescoes, while tell us more... the church has a fine metal steeple, The idea was suggested by Glyn Pope, one of only three such in France. a published novelist who has recently The Oriental Garden at Maulévrier started to write poetry too, in an is delightful, while Château Oiron idle moment after a book-signing in is a magnificently-restored Loire Civray. It became real when Helen château and home to a fascinating Dunmore accepted our invitation and collection of contemporary then panic set in! But with the enart which is unique in France. thusiastic support of our Maire and We are surrounded by the the village, it’s going to happen and attractions of the Marais Poitevin, we now have around forty authors the Vendèen coast, the Loire of various nationalities attending. vineyards and châteaux, and of We’re pleased that it is going to be a course Futuroscope and Puy de Fou. truly cross-cultural event where you To many tourists the Deux-Sèvres is can enjoy both English and Frenchmerely a corridor from one of these language authors and their works. to another, but to us it is a wonderfully tranquil haven in which to live. What does being an association President entail? Details: 31 Aug to 2 Sept. In this case minimal formal meetFree entry, reservations ings, but a large number of discusrequired for events. sions with Maires within the canton, Tel: 05 49 80 22 96 with the Communauté de Communes www.poetryproseandplays.co.uk
For one week in August, Deux-Sèvres roads will be the domaine of cyclists as up to 15,000 ﬂood into the region for the 74th Semaine Fédérale International de Cyclotourisme. This national event is held annually and is being hosted by the Chauray and Niort cycling clubs to coincide with the opening of the Vélodyssée cycle route (see page 24). Each day, from 5-12 August, cyclists are invited to discover a new circuit and will have the choice of routes varying in length from 50 to 170km. The circuits will take cyclists as far aﬁeld as La Rochelle and Parthenay as well as into the Vendée and south to Aulnay and Chef Boutonne. The organisation of the week has been a mammoth task, with 2,500 beds found with local residents and nearly 2,000 volunteers participating. The majority of cyclists stay 7-9 nights which has given a welcome boost to local tourism providers - in Saumur in 2009, this translated into a ﬁve million euro injection into the local economy. For full details of the week visit www.sf2012.ffct.org.
Colourful Saint Mesmin
For the past twenty years, the medieval Château de Saint Mesmin has taken part in the national heritage weekend, Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, and this year is no different. The association ‘Les Compagnons de L’Hermine Radieuse’ based in Brest (29) will be inhabiting the castle for the weekend, their costumed volunteers presenting different aspects of life in the Middle Ages to ﬁt in with the Chateau’s year-long theme ‘Moyen Age haut en couleurs’ - the colours of the Middle Ages. A ‘rainbow of areas’ is promised from food and clothing to the apothecary, with free entry all weekend – sounds interesting! Dates: 16-17 September 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2.30pm-6.30pm. See www.chateau-saintmesmin.com for full details.
If you have ever wondered what associations there are in your area and how to get involved, keep an eye open for the association days held in most towns and cities across the region in September. Pic’Assoc is the Niort version – with over 540 Niortaise associations, there’s plenty to choose from! More than eighty associations come together on Saturday 22 September to ﬁnd new members and promote inter-association links, so why not see what there is to offer from volleyball to bird watching and taking to the skies with the Aéroclub de Niort. You never know what you may end up doing! For more information see www.vivre-a-niort.com.
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One of the highlights of the region’s musical calendar has to be Les Soirées Lyriques at the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre in Sanxay, just half an hour from Poitiers. Early in his career, Artistic Director Christophe Blugeon recognised the exceptional acoustics of the amphitheatre, believing it to be the perfect setting for an opera. And so, with the help of volunteers and professionals, he organised one! The ﬁrst, Rigoletto in 2000, proved a great success and the operas at Sanxay have continued to delight audiences over the years with Carmen, last year, playing to nearly 10,000 spectators over the four evenings. Les Soirées Lyriques de Sanxay are now considered one of the leading open-air operatic events in France, after Le Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Les Chorégies d’Orange. This year, Giuseppi Verdi’s celebrated three act opera, La Traviata, will ﬁll the night air for four dates in August. With nine international soloists, the lead role of Violetta stars Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian. Stefan Pop, a talented young tenor from Romania will perform Alfredo alongside Italian baritone Fabio
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La Traviata: 9, 11, 14 and 16 August. Ticket prices range from just 18€ for those sitting on the sloping grass sides of the theatre to 79€ for seats in the central area, with reductions available for students and demandeurs d’emploi. For more information and to reserve tickets, visit www. operasanxay.fr or call 05 49 44 95 38.
Ethni’Cité en Anglais Capitanucci as his father. 65 musicians will be directed by Didier Lucchesi and 80 chorists will be under the baton of Stefano Visconti, the choir master of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. Christophe Blugeon continues as Artistic Director and has invited a troupe of dancers to perform the ball scenes, choreographed by Laurence Fanon.
Throughout August, visits to the fascinating Troglodyte village at Saint-Rémy-sur-Creuse will be guided in English every Wednesday and Sunday at 2pm. There will also be other English speaking actividay ties held on Wednesday and Sun is afternoons, the full programme . e.fr available on www.ethnicit
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HOLIDAY WITH MONSIEUR HAYDN
Auberge de Blanzay
Calling all Sk8ers!
Montmorillon have recently opened a purpose built Skate Park situated between the CAR and the tennis courts. Boasting a platform of 480m2, the park is open to skateboarders, rollerskaters and bikers (pedal power only!). Children must be over 8 to take part and wear protective clothing. Contact the Mairie for more information, www.montmorillon.fr.
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There are new faces behind the bar in Blanzay, close to Civray and only ten minutes from La Vallée des Singes. The Auberge is now home to Gavin and Lesley Alford and their twin sons, Jack and Owen, after the family moved to the area. “My father was a translator so we often holidayed in France and I always wanted to come and live here,” says Lesley. Gavin has experience of running a bar in the UK and Lesley is a trained chef so they already have plenty of ideas. Gavin explains, “We will be using local produce to offer a mix of English and French cuisine, plus we’re planning Curry nights and Chinese-style meals as well as music and quiz nights. We’re open from 11am through to 10pm with a snack menu available from noon until 8pm, and a daily lunchtime menu du jour for 12.50€, so hope to have something for everyone!” The Auberge can also host events in their large garden and separate dining room and are, of course, delighted to welcome families. Details: Auberge du Village, 12 rue du Cedre, 86400 Blanzay. Opening hours: 11am – 10pm, closed Tues, Weds. Tel: 05 49 87 50 87
For a classical music festival with a difference, head to La Roche-Posay from 14-16 September for the popular Les Vacances de Monsieur Haydn. Here you can take your pick from over one hundred classical concerts over three days with performances from internationally acclaimed musicians, led by founder Jérôme Pernoo (cellist), to talented youngsters beginning their careers. The four main concerts Festival In – cost 20€ each, whilst the ComVoulVoul daytime concerts cost whatever you would like to pay! The Festival Off concerts, featuring young professionals and talented amateurs, each last twenty minutes
Cycling Tour Hot on the tail of the Cyclotourisme week in Deux- Sèvres, cycling fans can watch the professionals in action at the 26th International Tour of Poitou-Charentes. Starting at Villebois-Lavalette in Charente on 21 August, the ﬁnish line will be crossed some 689km later at Poitiers on 24 August after having travelled through Royan, Melle and La Roche-Posay. Twenty teams will be in action to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the tour. To see the full course and plan your vantage points, visit www.tour-poitoucharentes.com.
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Enjoy free concerts and eve r summer in Poitiers as part of thei ‘Poitiers Eclats d’Eté’ series. Full ers. details can be found on www.poiti . app fr or you can download their free
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and are free. The aim of the festival is best expressed by Pernoo, “For this edition, we have no other theme than pleasure. We offer a total immersion in music - from ten o’clock in the morning to the small hours of the following morning.” The ideal respite from the rentrée!
Why not treat yourself to the Pack Haydn Relax & Spa? Enjoy two nights b&b in the Hotel Loges du Parc ***, a massage, hydrotherapy treatment and access to the brand new Carré des Sources, and of course, access to all the concerts. Only 285€ pp for two people sharing. See www.lesvacances demonsieurhaydn.com for full details.
LA BELLE EPOQUE
Each year, the Musée du Vitrail (Museum of Stained Glass) in Curzay-sur-Vonne, stages a temporary exhibition of works by contemporary artists and, this year, seven artists are exhibiting works inspired by La Belle Epoque, the beautiful age leading into WW1. The Art Nouveau movement had given a new momentum to stained glass artists and their creations once again became fashionable for their decorative value. The seven artists come from across France and use stained glass in many different ways, from windows and screens to Tiffany lampshades, as well as using different techniques including traditional methods and painting on glass. The museum also houses a permanent collection of works from the 14th-20th centuries where you can admire works by renowned artists such as Max Ingrand and Thierry Gilhodez. Follow this with a visit to the six local churches signposted along La Vallée du Vitrail to enjoy both ancient and contemporary stained glass windows in situ. And ﬁnally, don’t miss the ‘Garden of Colours’ in the inner courtyard of the Logis de la Cour at Jazeneuil, also themed for La Belle Epoque. Musée du Vitrail, 6 route de Sanxay, 86600 Curzay-sur-Vonne, Tel: 05 49 01 19 65 www.musee-du-vitrail.com Open daily except Tuesday from 10am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 5.30pm until 16 September.
Out & about....
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Les Scènes d’Eté
Flying High If you have dreamed of enjoying the freedom of the skies then why not learn to ﬂy? Stuart Morton of Cosmo Flight School, the new English-speaking school based at the Aeroclub de Limousin at Bellegarde airport, Limoges (87), says “I learnt to ﬂy with Sue Virr who ran a school here for eight years before sadly passing away last year. Her love for ﬂying was infectious, so much so that I too fell for its charms and went on to train as an instructor, launching Cosmo Flight School to continue the legacy that she left.” The school teaches the UK/EASA pilot license and welcomes students from as far away as Japan. “We are able to be very competitive with our prices being based in rural France, plus we have good weather, fantastic countryside to enjoy with great local accommodation – all in all it makes a great holiday.” But the school is very active with local residents too, both teaching them to ﬂy
as well as offering days out with a pilot – how about a quick ﬂit to La Rochelle for lunch and spot of shopping or perhaps a ﬂy past to take a few photos of your house? And for experienced pilots, the school plans days away to Spain, Corsica and the Channel Islands as well as additional courses such as night ﬂying. For more information, see www.cosmoflightschool.com or call Stuart on 06 88 80 98 20 Diary Date: Cosmo Flight School are holding a Sue Virr Fly In on 25-26 August, call Stuart for more details.
Enjoy one of the many events throughout August and September hosted by the Conseil général de la Gironde (33) as part of their popular Les Scènes d’Eté programme. Last year, over 392,000 spectators enjoyed more than 300 artists performing throughout the département and this year’s programme includes more than 1,000 events including 55 festivals over the four summer months! For full details see www.scenesdete.fr
Out & about....
NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION - NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION -NEWS FROM AROUND THE R
Château de Bridoire
Twelve kilometres south of Bergerac in the commune of Ribagnac (24), the magniﬁcent medieval Château de Bridoire is open to the public for the ﬁrst time this summer. Each corner of the château is marked by a round castellated tower, while a ﬁfth tower connects the two main buildings. Outside, the square, wood-framed dovecote sits on nine round stone footings. Dating back to the 12th century, the buildings fell into disrepair in the late 20th century when owned by a Senegalese company before, unusually, being reclaimed by the state. Years of uncertainty followed before Jacques and Catherine Guyot purchased the château. Already the owners of the Château de Ferté-Saint-Aubin in the Loiret, they are
tourism professionals and selfprofessed heritage lovers who, with their son Edouard, have begun the renovation of the château. Several rooms have been restored and furnished in the style of a family home dating back to the time of the Marquis de Foucauld, owner of Bridoire at the end of the 19th century. Now you can visit the 18th century vaulted kitchen with its impressive collection of copper pans and the restored billiard room, while in the courtyard the Camp des Jeux des Cadets de
Garden Music Thirty artists from seven different countries (including UK, USA, France and China) come together at the end of August for a series of concerts under the direction of William Christie, the renowned Franco-American harpsichord player and conductor who founded the baroque music ensemble Les Arts Florissants in 1979. In parallel with his international music career, Christie has devoted the last thirty years to the painstaking restoration of a 16th century ruin in Thiré, a commune in the south Vendée (85) and close to the CharenteMaritime and Deux-Sèvres borders, including the creation of a unique and eclectic garden. Classed as a Jardin Remarquable and a Monument historique, the 18th century inspired gardens are the setting for this series of summer concerts and promenades musicales. Says Christie “I have always dreamed of creating a closer link between this place, this house, the garden and my musical activities with Les Arts Florissants. This summer’s Rencontres musicales are the ﬁrst step in the realisation of this dream.” Le Jardin du Bâtiment, 85210 Thiré Tel: 02 51 27 39 32 www.jardindewilliamchristie.fr Festival dates 28 August to 1 September Concerts : 18€ (10€ reduced rate) Promenades Musicales: 8€ (5€ reduced rate) For more information or to reserve tickets on line, visit www.festivalchezwilliamchristie.vendee.fr
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Gascogne is home to a selection of traditional games to play en famille before you head into the gardens to picnic. For an evening to remember, the château opens its doors on Friday and Saturday nights until the 18 August, illuminated by the moon and candlelight. Visit the vaulted cellars or play games in the courtyard accompanied by costumed guides and a truly medieval atmosphere. Finally, the Grande Fête de Bridoire will take place over the weekend of 15-16 September as part of the Journées du Patrimoine. Entry: 8€ adults / 5€ enfant Tel: 06 06 42 58 59 www.chateaudebridoire.com
9 days of festival, 13 circus companies and 36 shows – this is what is in store at Nexon (just 20km south of Limoges) from 10-18 August when the Parc du Château will disappear beneath big tops of all sizes, the largest seating 420 people. Now in its 25th year and labelled a Pôle National, La Route du Cirque showcases a variety of circus arts from tightrope walkers to acrobats from both France and further afield. Adult tickets cost 18€ per show / students 14€ / children (3-12) 8€. Ticket reservations are recommended. See www.cirquenexon.com for the full programme.
For the ninth year running, Indre (36) is offering free swimming lessons at nine of its plan d’eaux including Bélâbre, Chaillac, Eguzon and Baraize. As part of their Nagez Grandeur Nature initiative, children over the age of 6 can turn up without booking to learn to swim with trained swimming instructors – they must however be accompanied by an adult. See www.indre.fr for full details.
To celebrate the 600th anniversary of the birth of Jeanne d’Arc, the Forteresse Royale de Chinon in Indre et Loire (37) is holding a special exhibition. Showcasing printed archive documents, the exhibition explains how she became the popular heroine she is today. The Forteresse Royale itself dates back to the 10th century when the Count of Blois built a tower there and in 1154, King Henry II, Count of Anjou, built the ﬁrst fortress on the site. However, much of the fortress fell into disrepair and it was only in 2003 that the project to restore this important heritage site began. Now, more than 150m of ramparts have been restored along with the Donjon and Royal Lodges, and the site is once again open to the public. A new visitors centre, shop and tearoom have been added, and the fortress holds a series of events throughout the summer. See www.forteresse chinon.fr. Open all year round, 7.50€ for adults / children free. A guided visit is included in the ticket – visits in English available.
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Saint-Martin daily market
Cathérine Lefort, Loix
A Feast of an Island Stretching lazily amid the Atlantic Ocean beyond the slender toll-bridge tail connecting it to the mainland, the Ile de Ré offers the perfect opportunity for indolent days of sunbathing and cycling, or fine dining...
he same gentle climate which encourages tourists to leave their everyday lives behind them and breathe in the wholesome island air also inspires vigorous growth for a multitude of different plants. The colourful markets throughout the island contain wooden stands weighed down with fresh, seasonal greengrocery labelled as Ré produce: asparagus, broad beans and the famous springtime potatoes give way to strawberries and tomatoes, followed in August by cherries and peaches. Besides the fruit and vegetables, a wealth of seafood, jams and honey is on offer, not to mention the locally
WORDS: TERESA HARDY PHOTOS: ROGER MOSS
produced wines, beer, sea-salt products, biscuits, chocolate, cheese and ice-cream. The result is a feast for both our eyes and our palate, and a healthy harvest of natural food, leading us spontaneously to fill our picnic baskets. All that remains is to find the perfect picnic spot (see our list of the islanders’ own favourites), and we’re guaranteed an afternoon of relaxation and discovery. Supplying this natural abundance is an army of local producers. Often they have tiny farms with unassuming buildings, and divide their time between looking after their produce and welcoming tourists to talk about their work and sell their wares directly. This modest reception
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contributes to the overall atmosphere of simplicity which still reigns on Ré, and makes forays into the island’s countryside so fulfilling. This is certainly the case for Yvan Le Gall – you’d never guess that his low hangar at the end of a dirt track houses Europe’s only sea urchin farm! At L’Oursine de Ré, in the oyster zone of La Flotte, Yvan uses the methods developed by his father, a marine-biologist researcher, to breed this delicacy. “You eat the five coral tongues...” he explains, handing out live urchins and referring to the exhibition of photos on his office wall. Yvan also supplies recipes for his urchins (which can be bought fresh or as
Sea salt production
a bottled preserve). He suggests spreading the preserve on toast for an aperitif, although the Ré restaurants he supplies – La Baleine Bleue, Le Chat Botté and Le M – use the urchins as a base for certain recipes. Yvan has even created a special spread for “a well-known Parisian chef ”. Breeding sea urchins is a delicate task: “Many people in France have tried, but none have succeeded...” says Yvan, who also employs the family experience to reintroduce this endangered species to the wild. “I have bred 10,000 for the Brittany coast, and am now preparing 100,000 for Marseille.” Unfortunately, however, like many producers on the island, Yvan is still suffering the after effects of Cyclone Xynthia, which struck in spring 2010, and will have no fresh urchins to taste or sell until December. He does however, have a stock of preserves at his farm, in the Cabane des Sauniers in Ars, and at Leclerc in St.Martin. Frédéric Voisin is another producer who was affected by Xynthia, though his production of oysters, clams, king prawns and salicornia (marsh samphire) at Loix recently received the coveted or-
ganic status (he is the first oyster farmer to do so). “Being organic has been my objective since I bought the farm ten years ago and passed my oyster-farming qualification...” he says, adding that this qualification is necessary to obtain a permit to farm oysters: “You can't simply hand down a farm from father to son”. In June and July you can buy his fresh salicornia – which he suggests consuming as a vegetable, in soup or as a condiment to replace gherkins – and he sells preserves all year round. His products can be found at his farm and at the markets of Ars, Les Portes and SaintMartin. He also supplies Ré restaurants such as La Terrasse and le Carré d’Ars. For seafood aficionados, one of the best places to enjoy oysters is with Didier at Ré Ostréa – a stand near Saint-Martin where you can eat standing-up, with beautiful views out to sea. Recommending this location is Xavier Cathala, owner of La Martinière ice-cream parlours. There’s no doubt that La Martinière is Ré’s number one reference, with rich, creamy flavours (from the traditional chocolate, vanilla and strawberry through 33 creations to the
original Camembert-cherry and oystercaviar variants) all created right here on the island. Xavier is a native of Ré: “Our family business was launched by my parents in 1970, when there were very few tourists.” Given the current popularity of the island, it’s difficult to imagine that in those days a house here cost next to nothing, and that the owner would almost throw in the neighbouring house if it meant making a sale. “You could say I'm the Obélix of ice-cream, having fallen into it when I was very young!”, jokes Xavier, who likes to involve his employees in the family spirit which makes this business so special. In addition to ice-creams La Martinière has a reputation for high quality patisserie: an outlet in La Flotte specialises in these delicious iced desserts as well as classic ice-creams, while there are two branches in Saint-Martin. Xavier spends his time moving from one parlour to another, beginning with the early shift at 6am in Saint-Martin and then helping out in La Flotte, dealing with the heavy summer traffic in a typical Ré way: “I have a fold-up bicycle in my car, so I drive along the main road between
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LIVING DAYS OUT
La Flotte boutique, fleur de sel
La Flotte market
Top Picnic Spots
The Pointe du Lizay, being rocky, is *completely different from the rest of the
discover picnic tables at the top, where there’s a good view of the distinctive black-and-white Ars island. Known locally as the “Little Casa church spire. Blanca”, it’s a great place to picnic. Between the Abbaye des Châteliers If you want to picnic on the beach, and the Fort de la Prée, near La Flotte, is but away from the crowds, take one of a wild area with views of the sea, which the little paths between the Plage des Grenettes and the Plage de Gros Jonc (be- makes a pleasant picnic area (although tween Sainte- Marie and Bois Plage). It’s there’s little shade). For an evening picnic and bike ride, at its best at high tide and is suitable for children. For an agreeable low-tide beach the passage along the dike between La Couarde and Loix port is a must at sunset picnic, you’ll be better off at the Conche or at low tide. There’s a magniﬁcent 2km des Baleines, near Les Portes. view over the mud ﬂats – sometimes they Another great picnic favourite is the reﬂect light like a mirror, while at other Plage des Prises, near La Couarde. times they’re so green with seaweed that At the end of the beach you can climb they seem like a perfect lawn. the dune (yes, it’s permitted here) and
Saint-Martin and La Flotte, then I park and cycle the rest of the way to the village centres.” Although Xavier can’t source all his ingredients on the island, the milk comes from Deux-Sèvres and most fruit (with the exception of exotic varieties) comes from the market in La Rochelle, where his team sources the best produce at full maturity. He uses Ré ingredients where he can – such as goat cheese from Cathérine Lefort in Loix and strawber-
ries from Bruno Knevez in Bois-Plage. “Bruno is someone who takes care of his strawberries, not because he wants to increase production but because he loves growing them...” says Xavier. Xavier’s father used to buy strawberries from Bruno’s father, and now both sons have taken over the family businesses. “Bruno also avoids using pesticides and artificial fertilizer,” adds Xavier. Ré is a geographically-protected zone, with lots of wild areas and very little pol-
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lution, which is why Aude Chupin, a beekeeper in Rivedoux, believes the honey produced on Ré is so special. “The taste is very fruity and scented...” she says. In the spring her bees feed on wild mustard plants before moving onto blackberry flowers and the lucerne grown locally. She has hives all over the island and can be found at La Flotte market, while another honey producer – Aldo François of the Abeille de Ré is based in Loix. Aldo, who can take you on a fascinating visit of his hives, is part of a particularly interesting network of six Ré producers who have produced a leaflet called Le Parcours Gourmand. They are united by their wish to show visitors the authenticity of their products, which are created on the island rather than just adding a Ré ingredient to a product and marketing it as local. As the members produce different goods and come from all over the island, following this circuit makes an interesting theme for a visit (see the box for a list of participants). “We all offer direct sales from our farms as well as visits...” says Cathérine Lefort, another member of this network, and Ré’s only goat cheese producer. With their 150 goats, Cathérine and
Food Markets in August and September
The main markets are at Ars, Le BoisPlage and La Flotte: Ars market has the most visitors, Bois-Plage is the biggest and La Flotte is a medieval-type market, partly covered. For smaller, friendlier markets, try La Couarde and Loix Ars: every morning until 15 September, then on Tuesdays and Fridays Bois-Plage: every morning La Couarde: every morning La Flotte: every morning Loix: every morning until 31 August, then Tues, Thurs, Fri and Sat only Les Portes en Ré: Tues, Thurs, Sat and Sun until 15 September, then Weds, Sat and Sun Rivedoux Plage: every morning at the Place de la République St Clément des Baleines: every morning in August, then Tues, Thurs and Sat Sainte-Marie: every morning at Place d’Antioche and La Noue, Place des Tilleuls Saint-Martin: every morning
Foodie events in August and September
1 & 15 August: Night market including lo-
Richard have been producing eleven varieties of cheese in Loix since 1984; their products range from fresh to dry cheese, with flavoured variations including fennel, Espelette chilli and, of course, local ‘fleur de sel’. Present at the BoisPlage, Ars and Les Portes markets, they also welcome visitors – their farm shop is open in the morning. Alternatively, if you arrive between 5:30pm and 7:30pm you’ll be able to treat your children to seeing the goats being milked. You can’t visit Ré without noticing the expanses of salt marshes at the western
end; the salt and its by-products are sold in many of the island’s markets and boutiques. Most salt producers belong to the Les Sauniers de l’Ile de Ré cooperative, which has a shop in Ars – but some are independent and can be visited. This is the case for James Renou at Le Comptoir des Pertuis, who has his ‘Boutik’ in Sainte-Marie. He and his partner were in show business until the late nineties, when they bought a plot of salt marsh from a friend they used to visit on the island. “We love cooking and mixing different ingredients to make products
cal products at Rivedoux Plage, Place de la République, from 6-11pm. 05 46 09 39 39 2 August: Farmer’s market at La Noue, Place des Tilleuls, from 7-11pm. You can compose your own meal from the local producers’ wares and eat them here. 05 46 30 21 24 9 August: ‘Marché Retais’ at La Noue, Place des Tilleuls, including local products and people in traditional costumes. 05 46 30 22 92 10 & 24 August: ‘Tous à Table’ at the marketplace in La Flotte, from 7:30pm. A big outdoor meal with music, organised by the local producers and shops. 05 46 09 64 88 29 September: ‘Fête du Coquillage’ at the Passage de l’Ilot du Port, SaintMartin, from 5-11pm. Enjoy music while you taste all different types of shellfish at this festival marking the end of the tourist season. www.upsm.fr
Hôtel & Spa La Baronnie Hôtel & Spa La Baronnie - Domaine du Bien-Être
17 et 21, rue Baron de Chantal - 17410 Saint-Martin de Ré Tél : 00 33(0)5 46 09 21 29 - Fax : 00 33(0)5 46 09 95 29 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org - Site : www.hotel-labaronnie.com
Aldo François of the Abeille de Ré, Loix, with his staff
LIVING DAYS OUT
Le Parcours Gourmand producers
Cathérine Lefort, Loix’s fromages de chèvres
Abeille de Ré: 15 Chemin du Corps de Garde, Loix. 05 46 31 06 63 Les Conﬁtures du Clocher: 1 chemin des Palissiats, Ars. 05 46 29 41 35, www.les-conﬁtures-du-clocher.com Ile de Ré Chocolats: 15 ave de Philippsburg, Saint-Martin. 05 46 09 22 09, www.ildere-chocolats.com Bières de Ré: 11 Zac les Clemorinants, La Noue, Sainte-Marie. 05 46 43 82 63, www.bieresdere.fr Biscuiterie de l’Ile de Ré: Zac les Clemorinants, La Noue, Sainte-Marie. 05 46 43 89 06, www.biscuiteriedere.fr Fromagerie Chevrerie Lefort: Chemin du Corps de Garde, Loix. 05 46 29 04 11, www.fromagerie-chevrerie-lefort.com
Honey at the Abeille de Ré, Loix.
Complete your picnic with a local beer
that retain flavours from the old days, and which are different to those you can buy in the co-op...” says James. His ‘Crème de Caramel à la Fleur de Sel’ comes from his grandmother’s recipe, alongside which he offers an intriguing range of salt and spice mixes. Traditional ‘fleur de sel’ refers to the top layer of salt which is scraped off before the salt sinks to the bottom of the salt pans. You’ll find his salt at La Noue and Sainte-Marie markets, too. So, your picnic basket is full of fresh goodies, and all that remains is to pick up a bottle of the local wine or beer. All the island’s grapes are taken to the wine co-
operative, a huge, white building at Bois Plage called Le Cellier des Vignerons, where pressing and distillation take place to create the range of wines, pineau and cognac (which you can taste and buy here). And if you prefer beer, you can even buy a local range that is brewed nearby in Sainte-Marie and sold in shops, bars and restaurants throughout the island. So, whether you come to meet the local producers and sample their tasty island goodies, or simply to relax on a beach with a picnic, there’s no doubt that the flavours of Ré will linger on your palate long after you return to the mainland.
Getting to the Ile de Ré A 3km toll bridge connects the island to the mainland: from 20 June to 11 September, the return journey by car costs 16€; from 12 September to 19 June it costs 8€. Free for pedestrians and bikes; 2€ for motorbikes. You can also catch a bus from La Rochelle train station to all the Ré villages. www.lesmouettes-transport.com, 08 11 36 17 17
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L’Oursine de Ré: Yvan Le Gall, Zone Ostréicole du Petit Préau, La Flotte. 06 79 98 17 33, www.loursinedere.fr La Cabane des Sauniers (salt): 7 route de la Prée, Ars. 05 46 29 40 27 Frédéric Voisin: Le Grouin, Loix. 05 46 43 51 38 La Martinière: 3 outlets: 17-19 Quai de la Poithevinière, Saint-Martin; 12 rue de Sully, Saint-Martin; 8 Quai de Senac, La Flotte. 05 46 09 20 99, www.la-martinière.fr Ré Ostréa: Le Vert Clos, Saint-Martin. 06 63 91 80 19 Aude Chupin: 17 rue de la Fontaine, Rivedoux-Plage. 05 16 85 45 18 Le Comptoir des Pertuis: La Boutik, 4 rue des Alouettes, Saint-Marie. www.lecomptoirdespertuis.com Le Cellier des vignerons de l’Ile de Ré (wine co-op): Le-Bois-Plage. 05 46 09 23 09, www.vigneronsiledere.com
Local product delicatessens
Le 1 Bis: 1bis rue du Havre, Ars-en-Ré. 05 46 37 56 90, www.boutique-iledere. com Le Moulin du Puits Salé, 3 cours Bailly des Ecotais, Saint-Martin. 05 46 67 87 56, www.le-moulin-du-puits-sale.com
Tune in to AngloFile on RCF Accords, your regional English language radio programme. Tuesdays at 20h, Sunday at 11h30. Angoulême frequency 96.8, for other frequencies or online see www.rcf.fr Contributors wanted. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Hook, line and sinker… Ron Cousins, our angling expert, introduces us to the delights of sea fishing off the Atlantic Coast…
ith almost 3,500 kilometres of coastline available for piscatorial pleasure, sea ﬁshing is taken seriously in France and every February, beach and boat anglers from all over the world descend on Nantes for the Salon Européen des Peches en Mer, a huge show featuring the latest sea ﬁshing tackle, clothing, purpose built ﬁshing boats and kayaks. The bass (bar) is king of the ocean for French anglers - who themselves are acknowledged leaders in catching these hard ﬁghting silver beauties using artiﬁcial lures - and one of the stars of the show is Patrick Sebile, the man who designed lures like Magic Swimmer, Slender Eel and Koolie Minnow that are sold worldwide and rated the best for bass. Bass fever really gets a grip from mid summer to late autumn with the Labrax Tour, a series of eight competitions for two anglers in a boat, or a pair of kayak anglers, that moves along the South West coast complete with sponsored teams, tackle displays and media coverage. The events around La Rochelle and Île de Ré always produce good results and that’s where sea anglers should head at this time of year. Boat and beach ﬁshing is ﬁrst class for a variety of ﬁsh and one that is sure to get the adrenalin ﬂowing is the croacker or giant sea bass. This is a member of the drum ﬁsh family - so named because of the repetitive throbbing sound the ﬁsh makes as the abdominal muscles press against the swim bladder - and is so sought after that several charter ﬁshing boats concentrate solely on this tackle testing ﬁsh. Lure ﬁshing, ﬂy ﬁshing, and bait ﬁshing with a crab on the hook are the favourite ways to beat the drum ﬁsh. Another resident of these waters to ﬁre the angling imagination is the conger eel (congre). Muscle packed monsters to 30kg
or more can be caught from around the piers of the 3km toll bridge that links Île de Ré to the mainland, with RivedouxPlage a noted hot spot. Fishing the harbours after dark, when the crowds have gone, is another way to get to grips with this ﬁsh which, despite its fearsome look, can rival bass when it comes to dining table ratings. The great jaws of a conger have little interest in M Sebile’s plastic snacks; to catch them use a squid or mackerel as bait and tackle strong enough to withstand the tug-of-war that ensues if you hook one
* Never worry about casting long distances, often the biggest ﬁsh will be in shallow water just a few metres out from the beach searching for worms, crabs and other food washed out of the sand by the waves. * If you reel in to ﬁnd a small sandy coloured ﬁsh with a protruding lower jaw and a long spiky dorsal ﬁn on the hook, beware! This is a weever-named from the old French ‘wivre’ for serpent - the spines on its back and gill covers are venomous and can provide a painful sting. With no swim bladder, this ﬁsh sinks when it stops swimming and spends the daylight hours buried in the sand presenting more of a threat to bathers than anglers. If you do get stung, immerse the area in hot water to speed the breakdown of the protein based venom. * Hiring a charter skipper or angling guide guarantees success and one of the most successful is Yannick Deslandes at La Rochelle – see www.ydﬁshing.fr. out the Federation Français *desCheck Pecheurs en Mer at www.ffpm. org or visit tackle shops like Atlantipeche in La Rochelle for more information and up to the minute tips.
that has the body wrapped around a rock or other immovable underwater object. A more delicate approach is required for the two other ﬁsh around at the moment, the sea bream (dorade) running to 1kg and wrasse (labre), which can reach 3kg. An ordinary coarse ﬁshing rod and reel is quite adequate. Use garden worms, ragworms dug from the shoreline or small slivers of mackerel as bait, and concentrate on the edge of harbours where there are masses of sea weed or in gulleys along the beaches. One other species that can show up anywhere is the garﬁsh (orphie), an eel-like needle ﬁsh with a long toothﬁlled beak, which usually leaps out of the water when hooked. Don’t let the fact that the bones are green put you oﬀ because they are a barbecue favourite with French anglers. Whether you are a keen angler or an occasional line wetter, it is the right time of year to enjoy a spot of ﬁshing on this picturesque piece of Charente-Maritime’s Atlantic coast. Tackle requirements are simple, no licence is required and there’s the bonus of the freshest possible ﬁsh in the kitchen: but always treat the sea with respect. Longfellow wrote “The tide rises and the tide falls” and just like in the poem it does that by up to 6 metres where you’ll be ﬁshing, so check out the day’s tides on www.tides-ﬁshing.com before heading for the beach. If King Canute couldn’t do it, what chance has an angler stranded on a rock got of holding back the tide?
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PHOTOGRAPHS ROGER MOSS
s more and more people are now discovering, the village of Verteuil-sur-Charente looks and feels like a vision from a classic fairytale, complete with a noble château set high on the banks of one of the river’s more tranquil stretches. Stroll across the nearby bridge, however, and you’ll discover something much less obvious: an exquisitely-preserved former Franciscan monastery, now oﬀering stylish chambres d’hôtes accommodation and restaurant, in the most romantic of settings. Present owners Jan and Jean-Claude Hand-Gree were poised to buy a château in Dordogne, when Jan chanced upon an advertisement for the Verteuil property in summer 2011. A combination of the site’s uniqueness and immense potential proved irresistible, so the couple bought Le Couvent in September and immediately began an extensive campaign of painstaking restoration and refurbishment. Le Couvent ﬁnally reopened in May 2012, as Jean-Claude recalls: “For ﬁfteen years people wondered what was behind the big, closed gates - to locals it was just a private chambres d’hôtes business.
We discover stylish accommodation & fine dining,
So we created the terrace overlooking the river, redesigned the courtyard for external dining and opened the gates to the public. It’s working very well, it’s so pleasing to the eye and there’s so much history here.” What they have achieved is impressive. All the guest rooms (a family suite, plus four other en-suite bedrooms) have been refurbished, and now have satellite TV and WiFi. “They’re all quite substantial in size, and each one has its own distinctive feel and character...” says Jan. “Another big diﬀerence is that we’re now fully-licensed as a restaurant, and we’re open for evening meals, rather than just oﬀering tables d’hôtes. Next year we’ll also be available for weddings. It’s a really fabulous setting, as we have the church, of course – we’ve already got quite a few enquiries”. Then there’s the chapel, too, which is soon to become a boutique selling French and English gifts and produce. “There are around seven hundred people living in and around the village, and a third of them are English...” says Jean-Claude. “You could say that it’s quite an English area, but we also do very well with the French, and we’d
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like to see if we can achieve a 50/50 balance between the two. To enter the church you have to go through the chapel, and after the summer season is over we’ll develop things for Christmas and other special occasions”. Jan is equally encouraged: “We’re already fully-booked for Christmas and New Year, including all meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and we’re getting lots of bookings for private or corporate dining. So we’re doing very, very well. This morning we had a booking for a formal, black-tie event for twenty-eight people, which will be nice to put on”. Success like this is obviously good for the village, says Jean-Claude: “It brings people in – there’s now an antique shop, and soon we’ll have a ﬂorist, plus a ladies’ and men’s outﬁtter. The more who come, the better it will be for everyone”. In fact, Verteuil itself became something of a celebrity when the popular Racines et les Ailes French TV programme proﬁled the village. “It had been ﬁlmed in July last year and we came in September..” recalls Jean-Claude. “We had no idea, so we just couldn’t believe the thousands of people who had seen the programme
Hideaway in the most unforgettable of settings... and who came for the annual flower festival. Jan and I were having breakfast and people were taking pictures of us... they took pictures of everything! But they were very nice people, with a great interest in French history”. Of course, the summer tourism season can’t last forever. “In the winter we’ll make it really welcoming, a nice place to come on a cold night, with a lovely log ﬁre in the huge old ﬁreplace and ﬁne dining. We already have some very nice people coming to dine here... not just visitors, but local people, too. People who live nearby are important, as they allow us to keep open long after the summer visitors have gone. In time we’ll get to know everyone, but of course we’re still new here, and much of our time has been spent overseeing restoration work, making it look really good and opening our doors”. Le Couvent opens seven days a week for chambres d’hôtes, but closes the evening restaurant on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “We’ve started doing full English afternoon teas – you wouldn’t believe how popular they are...”, enthuses Jan. “We have
a great day-chef, who does all the baking for traditional cakes... the kind of thing you wouldn’t get here normally, plus sandwiches, of course, all on big tiered plates. We thought it might appeal only to the English, but the French people just love it. It’s all rather elegant, and we get a lot of people coming back on the same day each week just to have afternoon tea, or simply to enjoy morning coﬀee and a croissant. Then they bring their friends with them – soon they come for lunch and eventually they’ll book for dinner”. And, as Jean-Claude observes: “The French love to order Champagne, so we keep some really good ones. I think winter will be good for us, because people will no longer have to drive to Angoulême or Poitiers for quality dining-out”. For now, however, the cloister-like setting of the terrace is the popular place to be, with a distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere, thanks to sensitive landscaping and the relaxing presence of the waters of an old mill-leat fed by the nearby Charente. At nightfall, when candlelight adds a magical touch, this really is a very special place to be. Add
A little history... Founded in 1471 to receive the mortal remains of the La Rochefoucauld family (whose descendants are still very much in residence at the château), the site, with its medieval Gothic chapel and church was sold to become a farm during the French Revolution but was restored in 1970 as a Monument Historique. Among the more important ﬁnds to date are two large 16th century wall paintings in the old Monks’ Refectory.
comfortable, secluded accommodation and the perfect hosts (and their attentive, hand-picked staﬀ ), and you might never want to leave.
Find out more...
Le Couvent des Cordeliers 8 rue du Docteur Deux Després 16510 Verteuil-sur-Charente 05 45 31 01 19 email@example.com www.couventcordeliers.com
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While trunk road
improvements and a new
high-speed rail line make their marks on the local landscapes a quieter, greener revolution in transport is also taking place, as Roger Moss discovered...
11th Century bridge, near GourgĂŠ
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f you’ve ever had the feeling that the world around you sometimes moves just a little too fast to keep up with, maybe you should get out more – and at your own pace. Forget all the super-human stamina and aggression expended during the Tour de France, and think instead of la France profonde, and all the time in the world in which to explore it. If, like me, you think this sounds more like your idea of cycling, then you’ll be pleased to know that we’re in just the right place to get out and do just that, thanks to a wealth of sustainable tourism initiatives. Deux-Sèvres, for example, is currently launching the final sections of the Thouet Valley Route between St Martin-deSanzay (north of Thouars) and Beugnon (south west of Parthenay), as part of the longer Véloroute 43 linking Saumur with Niort and the Marais Poitevin. To find out for ourselves how the concept actually worked, we recently travelled to Parthenay, parked the car and transferred to two wheels to cycle a stage. The historic town offers a friendly and attractive access-point along the southern sections of the route, and we leave the friendly Office de Tourisme armed with a colourful selection of specially-produced guides detailing both the Route and the nearby Voie Verte (a former railway line now opened to cyclists bound for Bressuire). After much head-scratching, we decide to save the 18km stage south west to Secondigny for another day and instead head north west to Gourgé. The 22km stage is shown as being suitable for Intermediate level cyclists, which doesn’t sound overly daunting, so we set off confidently, following the first of what will soon become familiar stone Route-markers. After a quick swoop down to a short tunnel beyond the town ramparts we emerge beside the river Thouet on a smooth,
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Eglise SaintHilaire, Gourgé
Watermill and weir on River Thouet near Gourgé Château ruins, Parthenay.
which obviously explains the Intermediate grading) but being brave on downhill sections minimises the effort needed for the inevitable climbs which follow. Eventually things begin to flatten, and we amble contentedly among pastel landscapes where the only sounds are birdsong and the occasional hum of midsummer hay-making. Clear sign-posting at every junction means there’s little chance of ever losing your way, adding to the carefree sense of liberation which you get when you travel like this.
BOUCLES-LOCALES, VÉLOROUTES AND VOIES VERTES...
flat path through craggy, landscaped parkland. Striding assertively across the valley is a tall, stone-arched railway viaduct, which we reach to discover the path ahead rising steeply. After a brave attempt at a low-gear climb, we see the folly of our ways and decide to conserve our energy by dismounting and walking until the path flattens out beside the railway embankment. Now things ease, with a gentle descent to a busy road crossing and a brief glimpse of the world we’re about to leave behind. Minutes later, after a down-and-up section on a leafy path skirting a quiet housing development, the outskirts of town are behind us and we’re free to immerse ourselves in country lane peace and quiet. It’s far from flat, however (a factor
You’ll probably already be familiar with the recent proliferation of neatlysigned local cycle paths, including circular tours (boucles-locales) which have been cunningly conceived to overlap with sections of neighbouring circuits. Less obvious is the fact that they’re part of a co-ordinated network, so you can pick-and-mix to your heart’s content, covering as much or as little as time and ﬁtness-levels permit. Approaches vary according to individual départements, but Charente alone offers 500km of véloroutes (low-trafﬁc shared roads) in addition to even calmer dedicated green lanes (voies vertes). It’s a similar story in both Charente Maritime and Vienne, but Deux-Sèvres has focused its recent attentions on the longer-distance Vallée du Thouet route, broken down into numbered, bite-sized sections like the one we sampled.
VÉLODYSSÉE: EXPLORE THE ATLANTIC COAST, BY BIKE...
Believe it or not, you can now ride from Roscoff in Brittany all the way to Biarritz and across the Spanish border, (hugging the Atlantic Coast below the Loire) on the newly-opened 1200+km Vélodyssée cycle touring route. This epic project’s great website site (currently French only) will inspire you and help you plan your own journey on two wheels. www.lavelodyssee.com
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In fact, there are few signs of human life, even when we reach La Peyratte, a cheerful-looking village with a Romanesque église and a large central square (the Place des Marronniers) with a tall croix hosanière (funeral monument) dating, like the church, from the 12th century. After refuelling with a welcome alfresco lunch on a tree-shaded bench, we forego a nearby signed detour to the Forge à Fer (a 17th century former ironworks and now a riverside restaurant) and press on along the route. By now the day is warming up, and as we make our way towards Lhoumois we’re thankful for the shade of the oak-tree avenues which line long sections of the lanes. The neatly-restored Eglise Saint-JeanBaptiste announces our arrival in the village, through whose heart we coast lazily towards a modest line of trees where we pause, this time for a cooling drink. Stops like this provide a chance to take in some of the finer details around you, in this case the distinctive timber farm gates beyond which sheep doze contentedly in the dappled shade. Beyond the village the landscape once again opens up dramatically, this time with sweeping views across the fields and hedgerows to the stately, privately-
Croix hosanière, La Peyratte
www.valleeduthouet.fr/cote-velo/ la-carte The full route, including the stage we cycled, is described in detail, including bike-hire points, rest areas and places of interest along the way. www.ffct.org
5th-12th of August: the Big Show Rolls
THIS PHOTO: Return to Parthenay PHOTO LEFT: The 13th century Porte SaintJacques, Parthenay
owned 15/17th century Château de la Roche Faton. Rather less visible from here are Les Jardins du Gué, whose signs we pass among the roadside displays of wildflowers. The 3-hectare gardens border the River Thouet flowing through a valley currently tucked away somewhere to our left, but by now we’re understandably reluctant to drop down to anywhere which will involve a return climb. The road ahead, though, eventually does just that, taking us down to an idyllic spot where we’re delighted to discover that we now have the pleasure of the river for company – at first little more than a tantalisingly inaccessible vision shimmering enticingly beyond a natural barrier of brambles and nettles. A little further on, however, things open up to reveal a lone fisherman casting his line from midstream, where a broad, rocky weir extends from beside a romantic, long-silent watermill. We make a mental note of the shady, grassy riverbank as the perfect spot from which to contemplate the scene, and perhaps catch the turquoise streak of a kingfisher. Meanwhile, directly ahead of us lies a road junction, and a choice of river crossings, the nearest of which is the road bridge taken by traffic heading for nearby Gourgé, our journey’s end for today. In addition to offering fine views
upstream, the modern bridge offers a great vantage point from which to admire its venerable predecessor, a miraculously preserved 11th century cobbled, pack-horse style structure now taken only by walkers and well-sprung cyclists. By now just a few hundred metres’ gentle climb brings us into Gourgé, looking particularly welcoming on the run-up to a village fête. When we reach the focal-point of the 12/13th century Eglise de Saint-Hilaire (whose decorated interior is worth seeing) another reward presents itself, in the form of one of the Route’s dedicated rest areas. After dismounting and parking the bikes we relax contentedly beneath one of the stylish parasols shading the tables outside La P’Tite Marmite, a traditional bar/restaurant with a tempting-looking chalkboard menu. Despite which, two well-chilled beers are all we ask, and we eventually ride off rested, refreshed and freewheeling blissfully downhill, ready to do it all again. Things always look different when travelling in the opposite direction, and it’s surprising what we find we’d missed along the route first time around. We reach Parthenay with a sense of achievement, and amazed at having seen so few cars, even on a summer Saturday. The Route and its rest areas along the way turned out to be well planned,
into Niort. This year Niort will host the seventy-fourth Semaine Fédérale Internationale de Cyclotourisme, as Europe’s greatest gathering of touring cyclists rolls into town to discover the region’s charms (see page 10). www.af3v.org This informative site (currently French only) dedicated to Les Véloroutes et Voies Vertes de France includes an interactive map of the network, plus all the long-distance itineraries. There’s plenty of practical information, too, including travelling on public transport with your bike.
and the exercise (in every sense) proved to us that you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to dip with confidence into a single stage of your choice. Or more, if you prefer. Best of all, bike-friendly routes like this really do get you out and about, among places you would probably never otherwise have discovered – and all in perfect peace. Talking of which, we’re now sorely tempted to explore the Parthenay-Bressuire Voie Verte...
Quartier Saint-Pa ul and River Thouet viewe d from the citadel, Parth enay
Hôtel24600 Restaurant Petit Bersac Hôtel Restaurant 24600 Petit Bersac Tél: 05 53 90 08 71 Fax: 05 53 90 66 92
LIVING DAYS OUT
To The Heart of Things... Roger Moss continues his relaxed journey beside the Charente, against the flow, all the way to the river’s source.
ith CharenteMaritime now behind us (we’ve entered the Département de la Charente) the river shows occasional signs of having divided, as if uncertain as to quite which direction to take. Soon we pass Saint Brice, possessor of not one but two 16/18th century châteaux – the elegant Château de Saint-Brice (owned by the Hennessy family) and, further from the river, the battlemented Château de Garde Epée. The commune is also home to the 18-hole Golfe de Cognac and the Cognac Tennis Club. A few kilometres further upstream a Neolithic dugout canoe (now in Cognac’s Musée d’Arts et d’Histoire) was unearthed in 1979, near where the Charente is spanned by BourgCharente’s graceful road bridge. Bourg’s large and imposing château is owned by the Marnier-Lapostolle family, of Grand Marnier fame, while nearby is La Grange du Bois, a classic French country estate whose vineyards have been producing fine Cognacs and Pineaux des Charentes here since 1727.
The river remains a navigable waterway on the approach to Jarnac, where the presence of great producers like Courvoisier, Hine and Louis Royer tell of a long and prosperous spirit trade. These days, however, the town no longer resonates to the cask-makers’ hammers, and the river, unimpressed by some 80,000 Ha of nearby vineyards (France’s second-largest growth area, after Bordeaux), slips back into leafy tranquillity. From here on it also re-divides now and then into multiple courses, but otherwise the sole distractions are the Charente’s twenty-one locks, most of which date from the 18th century and are still carefully-maintained, despite the lock-keepers having long since vacated their riverside cottages. But the river wasn’t always quite so peaceful. From medieval times flatbottomed barges or ‘gabares’ transported wine and brandy to the coast for shipping, then returned laden with Atlantic Coast salt and Oriental spices. The pattern continued for centuries, until eventually the trade abandoned the waterways in favour of fast-developing road and rail networks. Here and there,
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though, signs of former glory remain, from now-silent tow-paths to the once-bustling quays of small ports like Saint Simon, which long ago constructed gabares and now operates a replica vessel. A trip aboard offers visitors a glimpse of how things would have been during the river’s heyday and the village’s still-active eel fishery allows them to enjoy a taste, too. It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for any activity (or a simple picnic) than the local riverbanks, a sentiment obviously shared by those who saw the peaceful landscapes of French countryside as something worth fighting for. The turbulent period when this sentiment would be put to the ultimate test is recorded near the village of Vibrac by a poignant memorial to French Resistance martyr Claude Bonnier, who died in 1944 while in Gestapo custody near Bordeaux. The river remains more or less navigable almost as far as Angoulême. The last of the locks, though, appears a little sooner, beside the 17th century Moulin de Fleurac, a listed Monument Historique whose site has accommodated
LIVING DAYS OUT
ADDRESS BOOK Find out more... LES ETAPES DU COGNAC, Maison
des Viticulteurs, 25, rue Cagouillet, 16100 Cognac Tel: 05 45 36 47 35 www.cognac etapes.com Useful information to help you plan your visit, discover and sample Cognac, Pineau and local gourmet cuisine.
OPPOSITE PAGE: LEFT & RIGHT: Jarnac. MIDDLE: Chéronnac. THIS PAGE: Replica gabare, Saint Simon.
a succession of mills since the 13th century. Originally constructed to mill flour, the present structure later began pressing grains and nuts for oil, before becoming a paper mill. Today it’s a living museum producing specialist papers using techniques once commonplace when paper products were transported by gabare to Rochefort, for a second leg down the Gironde to Bordeaux (or for shipment overseas). With the arrival of electrical power and alternative transport options, paper producers gradually abandoned the riverbanks with the last of the old mills (producing cigarette papers for the BardouLe Nil ‘JOB’ brand) closing in 1970. Today the building houses the Atelier-Musée du Papier, recounting the long history of paper production in and around Angoulême. Upstream from the city the river begins a series of graceful meanders. The first embraces the early 17th century Château de Balzac, whose most notable occupant was celebrated critic and essayist Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac (who lies in Angoulême’s Chapelle des Cordeliers). The river’s convolutions continue past the villages of Vindelle and Marsac, where the flow once again divides into multiple smaller rivulets.
The curious effect continues for over twenty kilometres, passing the ivyclad former water-mill and brooding 12/13th century fortress ruins of Montignac-Charente. The waters finally reunite at Amberac. Soon we have the railway line for company, and TGVs from Bordeaux or Paris streak across the river at Luxé, before calm returns and the road passes through a string of faded, colour-washed villages among vast swathes of sunflowers. Ahead lies the pleasant market town of Mansle, beyond which the river slips beneath the busy RN10 highway to continue its peaceful, meandering progress past more small rural communities. At Verteuil-sur-Charente the current still powers a small flour mill selling direct to the public, beside a vast 11th-15th century fairytale château (seat of the La Rochefoucauld family) poised romantically above the riverbank. Now tightly-meandering, the river continues past Condac on the outskirts of Ruffec, an expanding market town. A plan to link the Charente to the nearby Clain and create a passenger and freight route to Paris never materialised, but the river feels almost navigable again as it continues northwards. Beyond Taizé-Aizie, where an
Dining Out... RESTAURANT LA RIBAUDIÈRE, 16200
Bourg-Charente Tel: 05 45 81 30 54 Open Tuesday evening to Sunday lunchtime www.laribaudiere. com HOTEL RESTAURANT LE MOULIN NEUF,
34, rue du moulin, 16160 Le Gond Pontouvre Tel: 05 45 94 50 29 Open Tuesday to LA GRANGE DU BOIS, Sunday lunchtime www.hotel-moulin16200 Bourgneuf.com Charente Tel: 05 45 81 10 17 AUBERGE DU CHEVAL The owners, the Cartais-Lamaure BLANC, LA GARE, family, welcome 16230 LUXÉ Tel: 05 45 22 23 62 visitors to their Open Wednesday traditional chais, to Sunday to discover the distillation process, lunchtime enjoy dégustations www.aubergeand buy direct cheval-blanc.com from the producer. LES LACS DE HAUTE CHARENTE,
COUVENT DE CORDELIERS,
16510 Verteuilsur-Charente Ofﬁce de Tourisme Tel: 05 45 31 01 19 Haute Charente, Open daily for reMaison des Lacs, freshments, cream 16310 Massignac teas, lunch and Tel: 05 45 65 dinner (restaurant 26 69 closed Tues/Weds www.lacs-de-haute- evenings) charente.com (see page 22) Created to regulate www.couvent the ﬂow of the cordeliers.com River Charente, the Lacs de Haute RESTAURANT Charente offer safe LE REJALLANT, bathing beaches 16700 Condac and plenty of Tel: 05 45 30 79 67 activities both on Open daily except the water and in Tuesday, with ice the vast natural cream bar open in area which surthe afternoon www. rounds them. le-rejallent.com
www.livingpoitoucharentes.com | 29
LIVING DAYS OUT
old water-mill houses mountains of brocante plus the bizarre-sounding Musée de la Cafetière, we cross the border into la Vienne among the idyllic, Turner-esque landscapes of l’Isle and Voulême. The area was once renowned for both chestnuts and truffles, and during the late 19th century nearby Civray was even supplying locally sourced delicacies to truffle dealers in Perigord. Little remains of the early 11th century château constructed to keep a watchful eye on the river by the Counts of La Marche, but behind the 12/13th century Romanesque Eglise Saint-Nicolas (whose sculpted facade conceals a vibrant painted interior) lies the Tour-Pigeonnier, a survivor from the town’s ancient fortifications. The river narrows visibly before reaching Charroux, a centuries-old halt for
pilgrims bound for Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. Of its once splendid Benedictine abbey, only foundations, 13th century sculptures and the astonishing Tour Charlemagne survived the devastation of the Wars of Religion. Nearby are a huge, well preserved market hall dating from the 16th century and a beautiful medieval Gothic archway. By now we’re well off the tourist track. Beyond Chatain (a real gem, with bar, église, boulangerie, brocante, etc., around a landscaped square) the river passes beneath a narrow, medieval dos d’âne bridge before slipping quietly back into the Département de la Charente. Ahead, in a commanding position overlooking the valley, lies Benest, followed by Alloue, whose echoes of past prosperity include a Benedictine priory,
Le Moulin de Réjallant Restaurant Open every day, lunchtime and evening, except Tuesday
Lunch formule - 16.50€ (main course and dessert) Monday to Friday 24€ Menu, 32€ Menu, à la carte, children’s menu 10€, all inclusive menu for groups ICE CREAM BAR OPEN IN THE AFTERNOON
the huge 12th century Eglise NotreDame and several former châteaux. The river, now little more than a stream, has nevertheless created a surprisingly broad valley, through which it meanders and appears fleetingly among flood-plain meadows of wheat and maize between dense tracts of woodland. Soon it looks destined to disappear altogether amid the vastness of Lac Lavaud, one of the Lacs de Haute-Charente created in 1988 by damming several valleys. Now an inland paradise for locals and visitors, there’s safe bathing and sandy beaches fringed by chestnuts, oaks and willows, providing natural shade from the summer sun, while around 170 species of birds and wildfowl have so far been recorded here. The River Charente actually springs into life across the Limousin border in
On the banks of the Charente Tel: 05 45 30 79 67 • mail: firstname.lastname@example.org site: le-rejallant.com • Réjallant - 16700 CONDAC
LIVING DAYS OUT
Haute-Vienne. Exactly where, though, is debatable, and one local farmer is convinced that a spring emanating from his patch of undergrowth is the true source. Officialdom thinks otherwise, however, and in the unassuming village of Cheronnac (alt.310m) a weathered enamel sign proclaims: ‘Source de la Charente’. Don’t get too excited; a few metres away, in a modest public garden, a gentle trickle emerges from a garden-style brass tap beneath a large granite slab, before heading off down the hillside. So, we’ve reached journey’s end at last, although for the river it’s just the beginning...
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Le Portal, near Vars; Jarnac; The Château de Verteuil, Verteuilsur-Charente; Ecluse de la Liège; La Roche, slipway
Let us tantalise your tastebuds Express: 14,30 Classique: 27,50 Rencontre: 36,60 Degustation: 39,90 Children: 11,50 Vegetarian Menu Carte Air Conditioned - Groups - Closed on Sundays Michelin Guide 2010/2011/2012
05 46 74 62 62
2 Place du ThŽ‰tre, 17100 Saintes
Our language expert Emma-Jane Lee once more steps into the fray, taking a look at how insects and other creepy-crawlies are portrayed in French
n English, worms get a poor treatment. Opening a can of worms can give you all sorts of problems, and nobody wants the worm to turn. Worms in France suffer from a very mixed reputation. Pas piqué des vers literally means ‘not stung by worms’ but really is the opposite of ‘moth-eaten’. Not bitten by worms. You can also say the same thing with the very marvellous cockchafer, le hanneton, a rather exotic-looking creature. Pas piqué des hannetons. Not bitten by cockchafers. And it all means something in excellent condition, superb, sensational. You can also tirer les vers du nez. Pull worms from the nose. A nice image. This is what you do where you have to extract information from someone by secretive methods, like worming information out of someone, to get them to talk. Some think there’s a connection between ver and the latin for truth, verum and so it’s like pulling the truth out via the nose. However, this explanation doesn’t really account for why there are lots of little worms up that nose. Still, j’ai fini par lui tirer les vers du nez isn’t as painful as the literal translation suggests; instead of ending by pulling the worms from someone’s nose, you simply got to the truth, albeit in a subversive way. If somebody tells you they are going to kill the worm - tuer le ver - it means they are going to have a little sip of something
alcoholic, to ‘kill the worm’. Apparently, a tot of alcohol was believed to kill off parasites and worms and so it’s become a euphemism for having a drink, especially if you’re doing it on an empty stomach. Il faut que j’aille tuer le ver. I need to go and kill the worm. A good excuse to have a little tot of something if ever I heard one. However, you don’t want to kill the worm too drastically, because then you might end up nu comme un ver. Naked as a worm. We might say stark naked instead, or even the quite quaint ‘birthday suit’ in English. A final wormy expression is le ver est dans le fruit. It might sound a little like strange, coded spy talk. The worm is in the fruit. But it means that the thing that destroys us is already inside of us all. It’s a metaphor for the way we can all eventually turn bad. It can also mean that the rot has set in and something is beyond saving. Despite how busy a bumblebee might be, in France avoir le bourdon - having a bumblebee - means to be sad, to be down in the dumps, to be a little blue. This might be to do with the repetitive droning of the bee, a kind of deep and serious hum, or the fact that le bourdon is also a type of tenor bell used for solemn occasions. But if you hear j’ai le bourdon, it’s not a bee making honey but a bee going around depositing sad thoughts everywhere. We might have ants in our pants, but when the French get pins and needles, they have des fourmis dans les jambes.
Graphic by Justin Silvester
Ants in their legs. You might do le travail de fourmi as well - laborious work. In France you are not as thin as a whip, you have la taille de guêpe - the shape of a wasp. If you’re of a certain age, you might remember waspy waists, the kind of mini-corset designed to give a woman an hour-glass figure and that have had a resurgence in the fashion world recently. So if you someone calls you wasp-like, it’s not because of the sting in your tail. There are few insects that don’t have a place in French expressions. Instead of having bats in the belfry, you are likely to have une araignée au plafond - spiders on the ceiling. And the poor spider, who gives us English speakers spidery handwriting, is let off the hook. In France, spidery, illegible handwriting is les pattes de mouche. And yes, French doctors who often write prescriptions by hand seem to have l’ecriture en pattes de mouche, as if a fly has stepped in the ink and wandered across the page. Finally, an expression that’s a little more familiar: you can’t catch flies with vinegar. On n’attrape pas les mouches avec du vinaigre. Much better to give them something sweet to feast on! Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, writing English textbooks, translating, marking exam scripts and teaching languages. She lives near La Rochefoucauld with her growing menagerie. For more information see www.english-tuition.weebly.com
LIVING FESTIVAL DAYS OUTGUIDE Marchés des Producteurs
Bargainhunting at a brocante
Days Out Whether you’re fending-off school-holiday boredom, entertaining visitors or simply feel like a day out, you are spoilt for choice if you know where to look. By way of inspiration, here are some suggestions and starting-points... Vindelle (16)
Saturday 15 September 500 stalls, 1€ entry fee. Open 5am - 10pm.
Base Nautique des Lacs de Haut e Charente
Evening Farmers’ Markets
Brocantes & Marchés des Producteurs
Some people are passionate in their enthusiasm (it’s tempting to say ‘addiction’) for bargain-hunting forays. It doesn’t take long to discover, however, that in both style and content not all markets are created equal. Traditional village brocante markets can be very convivial affairs, and although prices being asked for much of what is on offer are wildly optimistic, you can still bag a bargain if you keep your eyes wide open. The same goes for bric-à-bracs and vide greniers, where people will try to sell just about anything (making them particularly popular with aficionados of full-on kitsch) in any condition. Either way, the setting alone often adds to the pleasure of browsing, and you just might get lucky... www.info-brocantes.com has month-by-month listings of countless events throughout the region and elsewhere in France, with times and locator maps. Farmers’ markets barbecue
The concept here is appealingly simple: from around 6pm onwards, you bring plates, cutlery and glasses, then purchase the ingredients for your al fresco meal from the various producers at the market. There’s usually a barbecue on site, along with some musical entertainment to stoke up the party atmosphere. Best of all, once you’ve met the producers you will now know exactly where to find your favourite produce at a fair price (for both sides), and much of what’s on offer is organic or ‘bio’ grade. Here are a few dates for your diary: Charente
Wednesday 1 August: Genté Thursday 2 August: Confolens, Les Roches Bleues Wednesday 15 August: Les Essards Thursday 16 August: Confolens, Les Roches Bleues Wednesday 29 August: Champniers
Wednesday 1 August: Pont l’Abbé d’Arnoult – with music and theatre Thursday 2 August: La Noue, Ile de Ré Wednesday 8 August: Le Thou Friday 10 August: Médis – with open-air cinema and music Saturday 1 September: Etaules Saturday 15 September: Saint Georges de Didonne (part of les Journées du Patrimoine) at the lighthouse, concert.
Thursday 2 August: Airvault Friday 10 August: Argentonles-Vallées Friday 24 August: Souvigné
Wednesday 1 August: Vivonne Thursday 2 August: Montmorillon Wednesday 8 August: Moncontour Tuesday 14 August: Availles-Limouzine Wednesday 22 August: Gençay Saturday 8 September: Civray More information: www. marches-producteurs.com and www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com
Summer is garden time, and if you’re a gardener yourself it’s also a great time to take some time off from your own labours and visit some of the many gardens of all kinds which open their gates to the public. They’re a great source of design inspiration, and you can see just which varieties are best suited to the local soil and climate. And even if you don’t have your own garden, these places will soothe and uplift you with their scents and settings... Les Jardins de la Boirie, Saint Pierre d’Oléron Stroll through this luxuriant garden on the Ile d’Oléron which has received the coveted Jardin Remarquable label. The garden’s creator has woven colour and interest into a lush green backdrop by dividing things into a series of carefullystaged scenes – and when you emerge there’s an opportunity to buy some of
LIVING LIVING FESTIVAL DAYS GUIDE OUT
Medieval garden at Tusson the plant varieties you’ve discovered during your visit. Garden open until the 30 September, closed Sunday mornings and Mondays, 10am - 12pm and 3pm 7pm, adult entry 4.50€ www.lesjardinsdelaboirie.com
Les Jardins du Château de la Motte d’Usseau If you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ll discover heritage varieties and the richness of aromatic herbs, medicinal plants, etc., in le Jardin de Lumière. There’s also a sensory garden – Hortus Conclusus – featuring plants selected for their aromatic or tactile qualities. Open every weekend until the 30 September, adult entry 3€ château or gardens; 5€ for both. www.jardin-medieval.com
Jardin Médiéval du Château de la Guyonnière, Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay
Created in 1986 by garden designer Alain Richert, the inspiration is again medieval, this time with nine themed areas planted on an island surrounded by deep channels of constantly-ﬂowing water. Gardens open 20 Aug to the 30 Sept, 9.30am – midday and 2.30pm – 6pm, free entry. See www.jardinez.com for this and other landscaped parks and gardens of France.
On The Water
On (or after) a hot day, a boat trip offers an irresistible opportunity for a spot of escapism. To get a taste for things in the most charming of surroundings look no further than the labyrinthine network of canals of the Marais Poitevin, a few kilometres west of Niort, where you can hire a rowing-boat or let someone else guide you as you enjoy a gondola-style experience which will save you a trip to Venice. Alternatively: Base nautique des Lacs de Haute Charente, Verneuil (16) Hire a one- or two-seat kayak or canoe from 6€/10€ per hour. www. basenautique. gite-equestre.fr
Les Gabarres de St Simon Discover the village (and former port) on a self-guided tour, followed by a boat trip on an authentic replica of one
St Simon of the traditional sailing barges which for centuries transported goods along the Charente. There are three excursions every day (lasting 1 hour) until the 15 October. Adults 7€, child 4€. www.village-gabarrier.com
Musée Maritime de La Rochelle (17) Located in the former ﬁshing port, several preserved vessels are visitable including France I, the last oceangoing weather ship and the TD6 steam dredger, a listed historic monument dating from 1906. Also present are classic sailing yachts from a bygone age. Open every day until the 30 September,
LIVING FESTIVAL DAYS OUTGUIDE
Rochefort en Accords
aspects of the breeding programme and of course, meet the donkeys. Entry 3€, children under 12 free. Open every day 10am - 6pm in August, 10am - midday and 2pm - 6pm in September/October. www.poles-nature.fr/asineriebaudet-du-poitou
Natural History Museum
Zoo de la Palmyre
ducks and waders (including Avocet). The site is managed by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), which provides guided visits every Tues and Thur until the 4 September. Tariff 6€.
Visit an animal park
At the Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves and the Réserve Naturelle de Moëze-Oléron near Brouage you can freely observe birds, wildlife and marshland ﬂowers from walkways. Don’t forget to take your binoculars. The reserves open 8.30am - 6.30pm during August and midday - 6pm from September onwards. www.rochefort-ocean.com www.maraisderochefort.lpo.fr www.charente-maritime.fr www.poles-nature.fr
Pescalis, Moncoutant, nr Bressuire (79) 10am - 6.30pm (7pm in August), adults 8€. NB: You can visit the France 1 and its bar/brasserie free of charge by requesting admission at the ticket booth.
Our unspoilt open spaces are home to a fascinating diversity of wildlife, but getting close enough to observe it isn’t always as straightforward as you might expect. Here are some places which provide the ideal opportunities to do just that...
Here’s something rather different which will interest both nature-lovers and ﬁshermen. The vast 150Ha site (100Ha of which are lakes) has been created as part of a green tourism initiative, and welcomes not only day-visitors, but also longer-term guests, with hotels, gîtes and camping. In addition to ﬁshing, there’s a range of other activities, including cycling, riding, mini-golf, tennis, electrically-powered mini-boats and bird-watching walks. There’s also the region’s largest freshwater aquarium. www.pescalis.com
La maison du Baudet du Poitou, Dampierre-sur-Boutonne (17)
Station de Lagunage and the Marais de Rochefort
One of the oldest breeds of donkey, with a mild-mannered and hardSituated on the borders of the Charente working temperament, the Baudet nearly became extinct after WWII. La river, an ecological water treatment system has created a series of lagoons Maison du Baudet du Poitou is part unique in Europe. With protected waters of a national effort to safeguard the breed. There’s a new self-guided trail rich in plankton, the resulting lakes (45 mins) allowing you to discover all have become a haven for water fowl,
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The animals here are much more than captives; the zoo is a participant in the European Endangered Species Programme, which works to preserve threatened species and participates in breeding programmes with other zoos, with the aim of returning animals to the wild. Open all year, 9am – 7pm 1 April – 30 Sept and 9am – 6pm the rest of the year. Adults 15€, children (3 - 12yrs) 11€. The zoo is wheelchair-accessible throughout. www.zoo-palmyre.com
Natural History Museum, La Rochelle A wonderful historic building set in the very heart of the city houses this contemporary-style museum of natural and cultural heritage, with over 10,000 objects and interactive displays. Open Tue to Sun – see website for opening times. Entry 4€, free for under-18s. NB: On the ﬁrst Sunday of every month, all the museums in Poitou-Charentes have free entry. www.museum-larochelle.fr
Our region’s summer festivals are many and varied, so we’ve put together a selection of some of the more colourful experiences on offer... Vienne (86)
9-15 August: 55th Festival de Confolens of dance and world music. www.festivaldeconfolens.com Futuroscope
LIVING LIVING FESTIVAL DAYS GUIDE OUT Futuroscope, north of Poitiers, is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary, with an even more action-packed programme than we’ve seen before. There are many new attractions, and much of what’s on offer throughout the site is reassuringly non-weather-dependent – as you’d expect from one of France’s top visitor attractions. www.futuroscope.com For a comprehensive listing of things to do throughout the departement: www.tourisme-vienne.com
10 – 19 August: Antonio Vivaldi Chamber Orchestra performs a series of Bach and Vivaldi concerts in ﬁve different venues. Entry 6€, bookings advised. http://perso.orange.fr/ocav
14 - 16 September: Circuit des Remparts d’Angoulême. Despite an unwelcome recent hike in admission prices which has compromised its longstanding ‘for the pure passion of it’ ethos, this great street-circuit motor-racing event remains as spectacular as ever. Entry to the enclosure and paddock 25€, seated areas 35€ / 45€ (reservations advised). www.circuit-des-remparts.com The “la charente à la carte” web page contains places of interest, cycle routes, golf and all sorts of activities. www.lacharente.com
13 - 15 September: Rochefort en Accords There’s a wide-ranging selection of musical styles in this relaxed annual music festival – anything can happen, as musicians come together and perform around the town (free). See web page for performance venues, times and ticket prices for paid concerts. www.rochefort-en-accords.fr
Until 25 August: Gregorian Chant with soloist Geoffrey Dudouit sung in Romanesque churches in Charente. Starting at 9pm (and without ampliﬁed sound or electric light) these evenings are simply breathtaking, and evoke the almost mystical qualities of medieval voices. Free See what’s on today or choose entry. www.etavecvotreesprit.org/ your ideal day out from various themes. Concerts-itinerants-2012.html http://charente-maritime.fr
22nd - 25 Aug: Festival Espirito Poitou at Celles-sur-Belle unleashes four days of modern Brazilian music, including free concerts and music in the streets. Info: Association Patakapara 05 49 26 49 73 or www.myspace.com/saisonespiritopoitou AND FINALLY, THREE MORE USEFUL WHAT’S ON WEBSITES... www.scenoscope.fr www.toutcequisepassepresdechezmoi.fr/ www.tourisme-deux-sevres.com – whose English language link will take you to: www.visit-poitou-charentes.com/ Circuit des Remparts d’Angoulême
An interview with Peter James
Top British crime author, Peter James, was recently interviewed by Sandie George. He has just published ‘Not Dead Yet’, the 8th in the Roy Grace series based in Brighton and reviewed in our last issue. Last year he won the ITV3 People’s Best Dagger Crime Writer, beating David Baldacci into second place. Your latest novel, featuring the ever popular Det. Supt Roy Grace centred on a celebrity with an obsessive fan. Why did you come up with this idea? I wanted to write about celebrities and how they shield themselves. Let me sidetrack a little to explain that I had a stalker for approximately 10 years. I thought nothing of it to start with, she appeared at the odd signing I did and smiled and, of course, I would smile back. Occasionally she would get a book signed; bringing her own and not necessarily the one I was currently promoting. She emailed me and I would reply. Then she stepped it up and I discovered she had a Peter James shrine in which she was burning a candle. She would turn up at my home and I stepped up the security. Then it stopped. A couple of years later I was signing books and this person was standing in front of me; saying “You know my name”. It was the stalker, she had changed her hairstyle and I did not recognise her. Then I received a 10,000 word email – just ridiculous but the whole thing has been dealt with now. I went to Los Angeles to attend a ‘Threat Management Team’ conference and one of the speakers said that “celebrities were High Voltage people who
created their own weather”. I met one Madonna fan who was totally obsessed with her and created share chat lines and hate lines. Astonishing really and quite frightening. So I also became sort of obsessed with this idea and it gradually took shape.
However, quite some time ago when we last spoke you hoped to combine your film-making experience with your writing skills and create a TV series about Roy Grace. Are you any closer to this ambition? Yes I am, as I retrieved the rights back from TV because I was not happy with You live outside Brighton and Roy how it was being developed. I am now Grace is part of the local police force. returning to my film making roots. I There are some exciting adventure have hired a screen writer, put together scenes that take place inside the Brigh- my old film-producing team and we are ton Pavilion, which shows an in-depth developing ‘Dead Simple’ as a movie. knowledge that visitors would not nor- Depending on how that goes we will mally see. Did you have a special tour? either continue to make films of the The people at the Pavilion were wonder- books, or make a TV series. I will have ful and, yes, I did have the privilege of more news in the coming months. going to places where other people do You spent a lot of your life in southnot go, especially when I had this idea about the Chandelier moment (must not ern France where your parents had a spoil the plot). I am totally claustropho- villa and, I know, love France. What bic and I had to crawl through this tiny are your favourite parts of the PoitouCharentes area? hole upwards on my back and, all the time I was worrying about how I would You are quite right – I do love France. get back as well. So I’m very pleased if I It covers such a range of scenery and cultures, and each région and départeput that message across about how difment has its individual identity. In ficult it was. Poitou-Charentes, there is the fabulous port of La Rochelle and the wonderYou also decided to elaborate a little more on Sandy, Roy’s missing wife, and ful beaches along the Côte Sauvage. left us with a cliff-hanger on that one. Inland there are Cognac and Poitiers,
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LIVING PEOPLE tance speech you thanked those who had voted and promised them Fish and Chips on Brighton pier? Did many turn up? 75 turned up and we had huge fun. Your love of racing is well known so are you still competitive? Let me tell you my dream which I am going to fulﬁl. In ﬁve years time I am going to be a private entry in the Le Mans 24 hour race in a World Touring SEAT Toledo. I am taking professional lessons and experiencing a simulator regularly, so come and see me at Le Mans. Sadly, I had a big crash two years ago in my treasured racing 2CV and the car had to be rebuilt but I enjoy racing in the Brit Car series, so life is exciting.
Book signing before buying Fish and Chips BELOW LEFT: With his racing 2CV BELOW RIGHT: In Cognac
and I especially love the tiny town of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne with its aweinspiring church carved deep into the living rock. The best-kept secret of all, of course, is the historic walled city of Angoulême, which is the World centre of the new art of the Graphic Novel, and hosts a festival for this art each January. I would dearly love to enter one of my classic cars in the Circuit des Remparts at Angoulême and take part in the cross-country concourse through the region to show oﬀ the beauty of these splendid vehicles. I can remember being shortlisted for the ‘Prix Polar International’ and the prize-giving was at a special dinner at Château de Cognac. I went along to the bar to start with, and met the other ﬁve shortlisted authors, all of whom were
What would your favourite last meal be? Grilled Lobster followed by Mushroom Ravioli. Then a T-bone/Entrecote steak with frites. A massive cheeseboard that would have to have a really old Brie de Meaux and a Montfort. For sweet? Definitely wild strawberries – my tastebuds are watering just at the thought of this meal! Mind you, I would have to have some good wines such as Pouilly Fuissé; Calon-Ségur-St. Estèphe from a good vintage then Armagnac and a cigar.
French. They all seemed very friendly and I commented on this. “We are friendly until we know who has won, and then we hate them”. We all sat on the same table and my name was eventually called as the winner of this prize. I can tell you I felt the hate from ﬁve pairs of eyes boring into my back! They did not buy me a drink at the end either! The British people (or possibly all of Brighton!) voted you as the ITV3 People’s Best Dagger Crime Writer at the end of last year. In your accep-
You mentioned that you moved recently out of Brighton? I found this wonderful property that had a lake with ducks on it and my partner and I just fell in love with it. As, indeed, did our dogs – Phoebe (German Shepherd); Oscar (Labrador) and Coco (Shih Tzu). Very unfortunately, Phoebe and Oscar were so delighted they caught some of the ducks and brought them to us as presents! However, I would like to take this opportunity to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you who have enjoyed my books. I will keep them coming and wish I could buy ﬁsh and chips for all of you!
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LEFT: Male bush cricket, THIS PHOTO: Grasshopper BELOW INSET: Field Cricket (Gryllus)
Have you ever wondered about the insects that accompany us night and day in the garden? Chris Luck delves into the undergrowth to show us the insects behind the sounds…
ne of the many things I like about living here are the chirping sounds and trills that start in spring and continue through summer made by what we loosely call Grasshoppers and Crickets. But it’s not quite as simple and straightforward as we shall find out. The Insect classification of Orthoptera comprises of Grasshoppers, Ground-hoppers, Bush crickets and Crickets and is generally defined as follows: • Adults have two pairs of wings: the hind ones are largest (a few species lack wings). The antennae are long or short: the eyes are large for good vision. The hind legs are modified for jumping. • Jaws are of the biting and chewing type. • The life cycle lacks a pupal stage egg, followed by larva, then nymph which resembles a small adult without wings, and finally the adult stage. All stages are terrestrial. To start, Grasshoppers are called Criquets in French just to confuse. They have antennae that are relatively short, (less than body length), cylindrical or clubbed at the end and large jumping back legs. The pronotum, the region just behind the head, is large and saddleshaped as it is with Bush crickets. In one sense they can be loosely separated into two groups in France – those that chirp loudly and those with a chirp that either doesn’t exist or is barely audible. The silent and nearly silent ones are called Bandwings (Oedipodinae), and often have brightly coloured wings that are red, orange or blue. They are very attractive when ‘flying’ which is what they really do after launching themselves
into the air. So-called Locusts are also Grasshoppers but they are Grasshoppers that form large swarms and it’s rare to find them this far north. In the summer, the female grasshopper lays the fertilized egg pod, using her ovipositor, external egg laying tube, and abdomen to insert the eggs about 3-5cm underground. These are immediately incubated. She lays the eggs in a row and sprays them with a sticky substance which forms a pod. Each pod has 15 - 150 eggs inside it, depending on the species and a female can lay up to 25 pods. While most grasshopper species, of which there are nearly 100 types in France, over winter as a nymph, some may over winter as eggs and hatch in the spring. Grasshoppers are herbivores, only eating plant matter, and their “chirping” takes place in daytime when it’s sunny. Ground-hoppers are insects that are similar to grasshoppers only much smaller and their pronotum extends back to cover the abdomen with forewings that are reduced to small scales. The Common Ground hopper (Tetrix undulata) cannot fly, but most ground hoppers can fly well having well developed hind wings. In French, Ground hoppers are known as les tétrix or criquets géophiles. All Ground hoppers are silent; they are active throughout the year when it’s sunny and over winter as adults. They eat mosses and other very small plants and are usually found near water in meadows with sparse vegetation. Bush crickets, which are called Sauterelles in French (please ignore your dictionaries), have very long antennae, (more than body length), very long, strong, rear legs and females possess a long ovipositor that can be
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straight or curved depending on the species. They are omnivores and frequently opportunistic, eating almost whatever comes their way. Eggs are laid in late summer either in the ground or in vegetation depending on species, and they over winter as eggs or nymphs. Habitat varies greatly with the 100 or so species in France - grasslands, scrub, trees, vineyards, wastelands and dunes all have specific species although many such as the common ‘Grande Sauterelle verte’ Tettigonia viridissima can be found just about anywhere. At up to 46mm they are easy to find. Apparently they can give a painful bite when handled but I’ve never been bitten by one yet! Bush cricket chirping usually starts during the afternoon and continues into the night, the more so when it’s really hot and mainly from the end of June until September/October. Crickets, called grillons in French, are a relatively small group of insects with about 20 species in France. Antennae are shorter than Bush crickets but longer than Grasshoppers, and threadlike. Generally adapted to running and burrowing, their hind legs are less developed. Cricket habitat varies widely from one species to another, some, such as the ‘Grillon des bastides’ Gryllomorpha dalmatina live in dark, wet places such as caves, cellars or animal sheds often in the centre of old fortified towns like Bordeaux. The ‘Grillon domestique’ or ‘Grillon du foyer’ Acheta domestica lives in hot interior places such as bakers, boiler rooms, brasseries and in the Paris metro! I suspect the
LIVING NATURE THIS PHOTO: Grasshopper RIGHT AND BELOW LEFT: Coloured grasshopper wing FAR RIGHT: Tettigonia viridissima, Great green bush cricket
one we are all familiar with is the Field Cricket, Gryllus campestris, if not actually by sight then certainly by the males chirping in spring and summer which sound a bit like one of those old, shrill pea whistles. You will also notice their holes in your grass, about 2cm diameter at a 30° angle. Chirping takes place at different times for different species. Field crickets chirp all though warm sunny days, whereas Acheta domestica chirp all through the night. Crickets are omnivorous scavengers that feed on organic materials, as well as decaying plant material, fungi and even their own dead. They mainly over winter as nymphs or adults. Finally, an odd ball and the one you are least likely to see, the Mole cricket, Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa and for once the French name is a direct translation – Taupe grillon. This species spends much of its life deep underground in tunnels
and galleries and strictly speaking is in a category of its own. The body is brown in colour and covered with ﬁne velvety hairs, and the forelegs are greatly modiﬁed for digging. Only the adult stages are winged, and their flight is said to be clumsy, directionless and only performed on rare occasions at night. Ideal habitat appears to be short, thin swards on sandy loam or peaty soils with a fluctuating water table or seepage line, and areas of disturbed or cultivated ground. Reports in our region frequently place them near rivers. They are real carnivores eating insects and worms. Eggs are laid in underground chambers from early spring to the end of July and are tended by the female until they hatch two to four weeks later. Nymphs begin to mature from the following spring onwards; but some may not mature until their third spring. Adults and nymphs can be found throughout the year. Males occasionally produce a soft, but farcarrying ‘churring’ song in spring from within a specially constructed chamber in the burrow system, which acts as an amplifier for the song, which is likely to be used for attracting females. All of these species that ‘chirp’ use a process which is correctly named stridulation. It can be somewhat different depending on species but it’s effectively rapidly rubbing one part
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Do you need some help with identifying the butterﬂies and moths you see? Some useful sites are: www.papillonpoitou-charentes.org www.6pattes.fr or you can ask the forum at: www.planetepassion.eu
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of their anatomy against another part which has adapted through time for this purpose. Although it is often the case, it isn’t always males attracting females and there are several species of Grasshopper where the female chirps preceding copulation. Chris Luck runs Planete Passion, an English language association for wildlife in France based in Poitou-Charentes. See www.planetepassion.eu for more details.
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MAISON homes food gardening * *
PAGE 44: Nikki Legonâ€™s Kitchen - Perfect Picnics! A little bit of inspiration for those special days out PAGE 48: The Wheelbarrow Gardener - Trevor Bridge shows us how to select the right trees for our gardens, and what to do to maintain them www.livingpoitoucharentes.com | 43
LIVING NIKKI LEGON’S KITCHEN
NikkiLegon’s KITCHEN Quiche Lorraine
With so much to see and do across the region, picnics are the order of the day – and we all need a little inspiration at times! Make these dishes beforehand so you can get away quickly in the morning to make the most of the long summer days…
No picnic would be the same without a Quiche Lorraine! This recipe is delightfully creamy and rich. SHORTCRUST PASTRY 500g plain flour 250g cubed unsalted butter (cold) 4 egg yolks (freeze the whites) Large pinch of salt
Choose a local wine to enjoy with your picnic
FILLING 2 tbsp oil 2 medium onions, chopped very finely 10 rashers of bacon, diced or a pack of lardons 860g crème fraîche 8 eggs, lightly beaten Freshly ground black pepper METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry your onions until soft and translucent. Remove the onions and place on
Smoked salmon tartines
Smoked salmon tartines
METHOD Put the flour and butter into a food processor and blitz to bread crumbs. Add the egg yolks a pinch of salt and blend again. If the pastry doesn’t go into a ball, add a splash of cold water. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and let it come back to room temperature before rolling out. Cut out your pastry and fill your tins then bake blind.
paper towels to absorb any fat. Add the bacon to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, remove and place on to paper towels. Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche together gently then add the pepper. Place half the bacon and onion into the tart cases, fill with the egg mix and sprinkle the rest of the onion and bacon on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
SERVES 12 1 whole wheat loaf 300g cream cheese Small bunch of chives, finely chopped 1 tbsp pink peppercorns 12 slices smoked salmon 250ml crème fraîche Horseradish to taste 12 lemon wedges 1 banana shallot, cut into 12 rings and marinated in lemon juice A little fennel to decorate METHOD Cut 12 slices of bread. Mix the horse radish with the crème fraîche. Mix the cream cheese with the chives and add a few pink peppercorns. Place the cream cheese onto the bread, cover with a slice of salmon. Add a slice of onion, then swirl the horseradish cream on top of the onion and decorate with a frond of fennel.
LIVING NIKKI LEGON’S KITCHEN Seared Beef Carpaccio
< Seared Beef Carpaccio 500g beef fillet 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary 2 tsp ground coriander Creamed horseradish to serve Parmesan shaving Olive oil to drizzle METHOD Heat a large griddle pan until smoking hot. Sprinkle the finely chopped rosemary and the ground coriander onto a board with 1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roll the beef in this mix, pressing it down well
to coat all sides. Place the beef in the pan on a medium heat and sear on all sides. Allow to go cold then wrap tightly in cling film, rolling the ends forward on the work surface to tighten the beef into a neat round shape. Place in the freezer for one hour - this makes it easier to slice thinly. Arrange the sliced beef in overlapping layers on a large plate and serve with a rocket salad, creamed horseradish and parmesan shavings, drizzled with olive oil.
< Meatballs served with Greek lemon yogurt dip 1 kg good quality minced beef 2 onions, very finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped 100g white breadcrumbs 50g hard cheese 4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley A good glug of Worcestershire sauce A splash of Tabasco sauce Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 4 tbsp olive oil DIP 3 small pots of Greek yogurt 2 lemons, juice only METHOD In a large bowl mix the minced beef with the sauces,
onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese and chopped parsley until completely combined. Season well and add the beaten egg to bind. Cook a small piece to check seasoning, add more if necessary. With damp hands, shape into balls, place on to a large plate and chill for 30 minutes. Brown the meatballs all over in a large frying pan then place in the oven on a medium setting for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Mix the lemon juice into the yogurt. Place the meatballs onto plates and serve with the yogurt. TIP If you want to serve these hot on your picnic, put the meat balls into a wide, open-neck flask.
Meatballs served with Greek lemon yogurt
www.livingpoitoucharentes.com | 45
LIVING NIKKI LEGON’S KITCHEN
Make a plateful of these easy mini bites and watch them disappear!
< Quail Scotch Eggs 12 quails eggs, cooked & peeled 1 onion 1 garlic clove 1 small chilli 2 tbsp parsley 500g sausage meat Breadcrumbs to coat Plain flour, to dust
ABOVE: Quail Scotch Eggs, Cheese Bites and Mini Sausage Rolls THIS PHOTO: Biscuits with cream cheese, salmon caviar and chives
CUT ANY HARD CH EESE INTO CUBES. PLAC E A RED GRAPE ON TOP OF THE CHEESE AN D SECURE WITH A COCKTAIL STICK
METHOD Place the flour into a bowl and dust the cooked eggs. Using a food processor, chop the onion, garlic, chilli and parsley. Add the sausage meat and blend till the ingredients are combined. Divide the mixture into 12 even portions. Mould a portion in the cup of your hand, place an egg into the cup and shape the meat around to enclose. Roll in breadcrumbs then deep fry for around 6 minutes on a medium temperature. Drain on kitchen paper. Place a green olive on top and secure with a cocktail stick.
meat mixture down the middle of the pastry strip. Brush one edge with the egg wash then fold the other side over the egg washed edge and seal. Trim off any excess. Cut into mini sausage rolls and brush with egg wash. Place onto a baking sheet and transfer to the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Place a sausage on top of the sausage roll and secure with a cocktail stick.
... and mini sausage rolls 30g butter 100g button mushrooms, finely chopped 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves 500g sausage meat salt and freshly ground pepper 500g ready rolled puff pastry 1 packet of cooked mini sausages 1 egg beaten METHOD Preheat the oven to 200°C. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms till soft. Add the Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and sausage meat, season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Roll out the pastry into a long rectangle and cut into two large strips. Place a layer of sausage
46 | www.livingpoitoucharentes.com
Portuguese custard tarts
< Biscuits with cream cheese, salmon caviar and chives Small, crisp biscuits Cream cheese Chives, chopped finely with some left whole for decoration A jar of salmon or trout caviar
METHOD Mix the chives together with the cream cheese, place the salmon or trout caviar on top and decorate with a chive.
LIVING NIKKI LEGON’S KITCHEN
< Chocolate Muffins MAKES 10-12 200g caster sugar 2 large eggs Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 drops of vanilla extract 500g plain flour Pinch of salt 4 tsp baking powder 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 200g plain chocolate chips 500ml milk 180ml sunflower oil
< Portuguese custard tarts MAKES 12 Butter for greasing 3 free range egg yolks (freeze the whites) 125g caster sugar 30g cornflour Seeds from 1 vanilla pod 175ml full fat milk 225ml cream 300g shortcrust pastry, rolled out 2 tbsp each of flour and icing sugar mixed together METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a non-stick pan, heat the egg yolks, sugar and cornﬂour over a low heat, whisking continuously until thickened and well combined. Add the vanilla seeds, then the
milk and cream in a thin stream, whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth. Continue to stir the custard mixture until it comes to the boil, then remove from the heat and cover with cling ﬁlm to prevent a skin forming. Roll out the pastry onto a clean work surface lightly dusted with the ﬂour and icing sugar mix. Cut the pastry in half and place one sheet on top of the other. Roll the pastry up like a Swiss Roll and cut the roll into 12 slices. Roll out each disc to 10 cm. Butter the mufﬁn tin and press a pastry disc into each well and divide the custard equally among the pastry cases. Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the custard has set and the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin. Once cool, wrap each one in tin foil.
METHOD Preheat the oven to 190°C. Sift the ﬂour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and chocolate chips. Beat together the egg, vanilla extract and milk. Add the oil, stirring to mix. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Do not over mix - the batter should still be a little lumpy. Spoon the mixture into the mufﬁn cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Nikki Legon is the chef and owner of the Hotel Restaurant Karina in Les Métairies, just outside Jarnac in Charente. She and her husband Austin have transformed an old cognac distillery into a luxury 10-bedroom hotel and restaurant. For more information: www.hotelkarina.net
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The Wheelbarrow Gardener
Choosing trees for your garden
We all love the shade that trees afford us over these hot summer months but how should we go about choosing the right trees for our gardens? Trevor Bridge guides us through selecting, and looking after, the perfect treeâ€Ś 48 | www.livingpoitoucharentes.com
THIS PAGE: Apple orchard OPPOSITE PAGE: Clockwise from top left: Spring blossom in apple orchard; apple harvest; Walnut; Hawthorn.
orests and woodlands provide structure to the landscape of our region, avenues of trees famously shade our roads and hedgerow trees line our country lanes and fields. Specimen trees beautify our parks, and our gardens are enhanced by trees that provide flowers, fruit and nuts. Their wide range of species provides variety of shape, form, texture and colour and they change in appearance through the year with the seasons. Trees are important; they define our sense of place and are both beautiful and majestic. We can become emotionally attached to trees that we plant or ones that we see and associate with regularly. Our childhood memories often involve trees. They help to create aesthetically pleasing environments by enhancing views, providing privacy and screening unsightly areas. We enjoy the cool shade they afford and benefit from their shelter. They are also essential to a wide range of wildlife species for food and habitats, and through this, increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements into our own lives. Most gardens have room for a tree of one sort or another and by planting one you will give nature a helping hand and
enhance your surroundings. You may want a tree to provide fruit; a small ornamental species for flowers or, where space permits, you could opt for a larger tree for impact. APPLE TREES (POMMIERS) are one of the most popular garden trees and, being covered in wonderful blossom in springtime, they do not just provide fruit. Eating an apple fresh from your own tree can often be quite a pleasant surprise when compared to a supermarket example. Most gardens can support an apple tree as the mature height depends on the type of stock they are grafted onto and they range from about 1.8 to 5 metres high. Nurseries and garden centres provide bare rooted stock for planting in winter and pot grown stock that are planted throughout the year. Many varieties are available. ‘Gala’ is red-orange coloured, rich, sweet and good for eating and juicing; ‘Melrose’ is a firm russet apple with a sweet-tart flavour. It is a popular eating variety in France, used in galettes and tarts. ‘Reine de Reinettes’ originates from 18th century France but has been grown since Victorian times in the UK where it is known as ‘King of the Pippins’. It is very versatile – a tasty dessert apple, it is also good when cooked when it has an authentic old-fashioned
flavour, and it makes lovely apple juice and cider. ‘Transparente de Croncels’ was introduced in 1869 by Ernst Baltet of Croncels, a suburb of Troyes. It is large, rich yellow with a red blush, crisp, sweet and slightly sharp. Excellent for tarts, when cooked its slices keep their shape, a preference of some cooks, especially in France. ‘Jonagold’ produces greenish-yellow blushed red apples that are crunchy and sweet with a slight tang. ‘Granny Smith’ originates from Australia and is one of the most widely grown apples. With its green colour, sharp flavour and firm texture, it can be eaten either straight from the tree or cooked. ‘Starking’ was bred in the USA and bears red, crisp, sweet and juicy eating apples. ‘Cox's Orange Pippin’, often regarded as the finest of all dessert apples, is a lovely orange-red colour. It arose in England in the 19th century as a chance seedling and is known for its richness and complexity of flavour. MAGNOLIAS (MAGNOLIAS) with their astonishing goblet or star-shaped flowers are amongst the showiest of flowering trees in spring and summer and grow well in Poitou-Charentes. Magnolia grandiflora with its huge white flowers and glossy evergreen leaves, thrives when trained
www.livingpoitoucharentes.com | 49
LEFT: Magnolia; THIS PHOTO: Pollarded willows
against a sunny wall. Magnolia soulangeana is an excellent garden plant which can get quite large but is readily pruned. It has ﬂowers that are pink-purple outside and white inside, appearing before its leaves. Magnolia stellata is a rounded and compact small tree reaching 2 or 3 metres high with stunningly delicate white starshaped ﬂowers that bloom before its leaves emerge. It is suitable for smaller gardens. BAY (LAURIER) is a very familiar and traditional tree here in Poitou-Charentes and many people who have bought older properties, including Jocelyn and I, will have inherited one. It is an evergreen tree with aromatic leaves that are used in a wide range of European and Asian dishes. Bays are sold potted at garden centres and can be planted in this form throughout the year if kept well-watered. They can attain 10 metres in height and are densely foliaged, so bear this in mind when positioning one. They do, however, respond very well to pruning and can easily be kept
THINGS TO DO
WEED REGULARLY Hoe in dry weather an d pull weeds out by ha nd when your soil is we t. Keep on top of them to stop them competing with your flowers and vegetables. MAINTAIN BEDDIN G PL ANTS Ensure your bedding plants stay vibrant and in blo om by regularly dead-heading and keeping them watered.
small if managed regularly. They are used extensively to create topiary and are also attractive in containers. WALNUT TREES (NOYER) are another wellknown feature of this region and France is a major world producer of walnuts. Walnut trees are tall and require a large garden, but one tree will produce a good crop of delicious nuts. They begin cropping about three years after planting. A large number of varieties have been bred to increase yield, taste, vigour and health. 'Parisienne’ is very vigorous, of French origin and has a large, tasty nut that is easily removed from the shell. ‘Franquette’ originates from the Isère Valley and is a tree of average vigour that has high quality nuts. Other good varieties available here are ‘Ronde de Montignac’, ‘Laciné, du CancaseI’ and ‘Fernor’. Walnuts can be planted in winter as bare-rooted stock or all year round when pot grown. SWEET CHESTNUT (CHÂTAIGNIER) trees are grown throughout Poitou-Charentes and are valuable for fuel and their fruit. Their masses of white ﬂowers are also an important source of pollen and nectar for bees. They set fruit 4-5 years after planting and are large trees that need ample space. 'Bournette' produces quite large nuts that keep well but it buds early so should be planted in an area protected from late frosts. ‘Marigoule’ is a vigorous and very productive tree that yields large brown-red glistening ﬁrm nuts. ‘Marron de Lyon’ provides excellent nuts that are large and sweet in ﬂavour. Also worth trying are ‘Marsol’, ‘Maraval’, ‘Dorée de Lyon’, ‘Bouche Rouge’ and ‘Belle Epine’
50 | www.livingpoitoucharentes.com
HAWTHORN (ABÉPINE), HAZEL (NOISETIER)
and FIELD MAPLE (ÉRABLE CHAMPÊTRE) are all trees that are worth considering if you want a native and natural looking screen or hedge that is excellent for wildlife, and you want to keep away from the ubiquitous Leylandii and Laurel. Plant at 3 plants per metre, 33cm apart. You can also plant in a staggered double row, with 33cm between each plant along the row and 40cm between the rows. There should be 50 percent Hawthorn with 25 percent each of Hazel and Field Maple. Other plants such as Blackthorn (épine noir), Dogwood (cornouiller), Dog Rose (églantine), Guelder Rose (boule de neige) and Wayfaring Tree (viorne mancienne) can be added to the mix. All these plants are best bought from nurseries as small bare-rooted plants 60-80cm or 90-120cm tall and planted during the winter months. Native hedging beneﬁts from being cut back hard immediately after planting. In the following years trim lightly in winter until it is mature. When it is fully grown clip anytime. Hawthorn, Hazel and Field Maple can also be planted as individual trees if space permits. Hazel is only a small tree and useful in the jardin potager as when coppiced it produces strong poles (see below).
Of course you may already have a tree or a number of them in your garden and you might be looking for advice about maintaining them. TREE PRUNING One of the reasons many people are attracted to a property is due to its garden
JARDIN VAL DE FLORE
Recommended by a local, Jocelyn and I visited Jardin Val de Flore this summer. Situated 10km south of Parthenay on 3 hectares sloping down to the little River Viette, this is a multi-faceted garden that provides a plethora of different experiences. Essentially a naturalistic garden where no fertilizers or herbicides are used, it has a meadow, several woodland copses, secret enclosed areas and a water garden, all punctuated by informal ﬂower beds and connected by a meandering system of paths. These combine to provide a particularly peaceful ambiance and the garden is well worth a visit. Guided tours are available for groups.
LEFT: Rambling roses THIS PHOTO: Field Maple winged seeds
and quite often, the beauty and shade aﬀorded to it by trees. This, however, often changes once they move in. Common complaints are lack of light in the garden, shading of windows and the amount of leaf fall in autumn. All too often this results in action being taken in the form of poor pruning, which often results in an ugly, misshapen tree. Worse still, poor
pruning can encourage growth, making the situation much worse. Reducing the height of a tree is rarely successful and the best ways to reduce the size of a tree are to undertake crown thinning and/or crown raising. Crown thinning is the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown. It
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opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, and helps retain the natural shape of the tree. Crown raising removes the lower branches from a tree to reduce the size of the crown, thus allowing more light through and providing clearance for buildings, vehicles, people, and views. Both these actions, when undertaken
AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
LIVING GARDENING Regularly pick courgettes
WHAT TO DO IN YOUR GARDEN NOW If you have grown them, you could still be digging up potatoes and onions will be ready. Salad crops such as lettuce, radish, rocket, sorrel, chicory, fennel and spinach can still be harvested. There is enough time left to sow more of these quick maturing crops to eat later. Peas, French beans and runner beans are coming to the end of their season but will still be available if you have kept sowing them through the summer. This is your last chance to sow beetroot for an autumn harvest. Pinch out tomato sideshoots to encourage cropping and discourage foliage growth. Any that haven’t ripened should be picked by the end of September. Cut the whole vine to allow the fruits to ripen under a cloche or on a windowsill. Green tomatoes can be used in chutneys.
VEGETABLE TO SOW: RED SPRING ONIONS (OIGNON ROUGE LONG DE FLORENCE) Sow a few rows of this interesting red Spring onion in August or September so that they will be ready for eating in March to May. Sow 1.5cm deep in rows spaced 15cm apart or thinly scatter the seed across the growing area and cover with 1.5cm of ﬁne soil.
VEGETABLE TO HARVEST: CHILLIES (PIMENTS) Chillies are a must in our diet! They require a long growing season and should be ready by now. Harvest them with scissors or a sharp knife. They can be picked green or left to turn red. They freeze well - just wash them whole, dry them, place in freezer bags and tie up.
HERB TO SOW: PARSLEY (PERSIL) Parsley is one of the most popular herbs. Its seeds take 3-6 weeks to germinate and can be sown in August or September into deep, fertile soil in sun or partial shade. Thin to 10cm apart, and then to 15cm as the plants grow. Remove ﬂowers as soon as they appear to encourage leaf growth.
WEATHER August is the second hottest month of the year, after July, averaging 24˚C and it drops by a just couple of degrees to 22˚C in September. July, with an average rainfall of 47mm, is the driest month, but this is now behind us and rainfall rises gradually to 49 mm in August, then 51mm in September.
An English Nursery In France Orders taken now, for Autumn Delivery on all varieties of ENGLISH FRUIT TREES. large selection of quality, nursery grown, shrubs, trees and perennial plants. also hedge shrubs, natural or ornamental. FREE Advice given. 35 years experience. Delivery to all areas. Open Weds - Sat 14h00 - 19h00 Le Vivier Jusseau, 17510 Chives Tel: Mike Curtis 05 46 33 66 17 email@example.com
Regularly pick courgettes so that they are still tender and sma ll. They are ready when they are about 10cm long. This will also encourage mo re production. During dry and hot weathe r keep watering your hanging baskets & pots. Do not let them dry out. Think about what vegetable s to grow next season. Choose which ones you rea lly like and that are successful in your garden . Look for interesting varieties and those that you can harvest progressively for a ready supply of delicious vegetables thro ughout the season.
properly, will reduce the impact of the tree without causing undue harm. They should not be undertaken by the amateur but a professional arborist with the correct knowledge and equipment should always be employed. POLLARDING & COPPICING Pollarding of trees has been practiced in Europe since medieval times and is today commonplace throughout France. Pollarded trees are a traditional feature here. Pollarding involves the regular removal of the upper branches of a tree at head height or higher to promote a dense head of branches and maintain trees at a predetermined height. Trees commonly pollarded include Poplars, Limes, Acacias, Hornbeams, Horse Chestnuts and Willows. When carried out correctly even the largest of species can be kept small to suit its environs. This work should be carried out by a professional. Coppicing is similar to pollarding but is carried out close to ground level. The stem of a young tree is cut down
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RENOVATING RAMBLING ROSES Renovate overgrown rambling roses by removing all dead, diseased, dying and weak shoots. Cut some old woody branches to the ground, retaining no more than six young, vigorous stems that can be secured to supports. Remove dead stumps at the base of the plant. Shorten side shoots on the remaining branches and prune back the tips by one third to encourage branching
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very near to the ground and this is repeated annually and more new shoots emerge each year. After a period of time the coppiced tree, or stool, is harvested and the cycle begins again. Trees commonly coppiced are Hazel, Sweet Chestnut and Hornbeam. Hazel is traditionally used for poles, hurdles and spars and therefore useful in the garden. Sweet Chestnut is used for fencing, fuel and charcoal making and Hornbeam is also used for charcoal making.
Consultancy & advice designs & planting schemes Garden creation & make-over Plant supply Lorne & Tracy Campbell C&G Garden Design Chez Callois, 16310 Massignac tel 05 45 21 69 63 mob 06 17 37 64 64 / 06 13 84 75 78 email@example.com www.taylor-madegardens.com
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HELP AND ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS PLUS MARKET PLACE - FOR THE BEST LOCAL SUPPLIERS AND SERVICES
PAGE 54: Healthy Living - Johanna Matthews answers questions on healthcare PAGE 55: Money and You - David Hardy explains QROPS and how it affects you PAGE 56: Talk of the Town - Property pages with a focus on Civray PAGE 58: Ask the expert - The truth about solar heating payback and an introduction to paint stripping PAGE 59: Market Place - All the suppliers and services you need right here in the region
BRINGING YOU EXPERT ADVICE ON HEALTH & HEALTHCOVER Johanna Matthews, from leading healthcare insurer Exclusive Healthcare, answers your questions on healthcare in Franceâ€Ś
My carte vitale appears to have stopped working and I donâ€™t know what to do.
First port of call is to check with your social security organisation (governing body) CPAM, RSI, RAM or MSA, etc. to clarify whether your health cover rights are up to date. The carte vitale is programmed from the onset and should be validated yearly, especially if there has been a modiďŹ cation in your personal circumstances and/or business status. If your health rights have expired, you will need to check under what criteria you will then be able to qualify to enable an extension. This is based purely on a case by case basis. If you had an S1 (ex-E106) health form, you will be considered as an early retiree (ressortissants communautaires inactifs) and continuous afďŹ liation is not automatic or
guaranteed unless you comply with the conditions that are stipulated by your corresponding CPAM centre. If you have a spouse or partner that has obtained healthcare rights via the RSI/RAM/ MSA scheme or under a permanent S1 (exE121) health form, you should be entitled to become a dependant beneďŹ ciary (ayant droits), in which case your corresponding social security centre will be able to advise you of the formalities to undertake. you will receive a lesser amount of reimbursement from your caisse, although the reimbursement will remain the same Why is there a shortfall in my amount under your complementary policy reimbursement from my Caisse as the â€˜penaltyâ€™ as such does not apply. Maladie concerning a recent You will also notice that there are deconsultation with my Doctor? The ďŹ rst thing you need to check is ductions listed as minus ďŹ gures on the that the percentage, taux, is indeed statement issued by your Caisse Maladie. 70% on the statement issued by These are known as franchises medicales your caisse. This will indicate that the con- or participation forfaitaire. The levies sultation has been vary and are applicable as follows: â‚Ź0,50 processed as being per medicine prescribed, â‚Ź1.00 for each within the care path consultation, medical analysis and X rays, or parcours de soin* and â‚Ź2.00 for medical transport. The levies often grouped together and are identiďŹ able (see below). If this shows a lower level, by the date of treatment. They are then deducted by your caisse maladie when for example only 30%, this indicates they process a refund, notably for a that this consultation consultation. The total amount of the has been processed franchises/participation forfaitaire is by your caisse as be- capped at â‚Ź50.00 per person per year. *Care path qualiďŹ cation: you have duly ing outside the care completed and registered a S3704 declarapath and a penalty has been imposed. tion de choix du medecin traitant (see This will mean that picture above) with your Caisse Maladie.
British Insurance Brokers of Aquitaine
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Please contact your insurance brokers and ask for Gaye Galliver at BIBA BP 19 - 6 rue Roger-BissiĂ¨re 47210 VillerĹ˝al Tel: 05 53 01 13 84 - Fax: 05 53 36 62 17 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Orias no: 07006174.
Do you fully understand the French healthcare system? Because we do.
BRINGING YOU EXPERT ADVICE ON PERSONAL FINANCE
Transferring a pension abroad David Hardy is Regional Manager for Poitou-Charentes for Siddalls France, who have been providing specialist independent financial advice to the British community in France for the last 15 years QUALIFYING RECOGNISED OVERSEAS PENSION SCHEME (QROPS) For an overseas pension scheme to receive a transfer from a UK pension fund it must register with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). The registered schemes are known as Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes. For the scheme to qualify, various caveats must be satisfied, such as it must be recognised as a pension scheme in the country where it is based, and the benefits must be subject to taxation. The scheme also reports any payments out of the scheme to the UK Inland Revenue if the transfer took place within the last ten years. If any payments are made which are not allowed in the UK then there may be a tax charge applied of up to 55% if the individual has been a UK resident in either the current or any of the previous five tax years. The majority of overseas transfers have focused on transfers of UK pension funds to QROPS in offshore locations, such as Isle of Man or Guernsey, but tightening up of the QROPS rules earlier this year has reduced the availability of such jurisdictions. This has acted as a reminder that with any QROPS transfer there is additional risk that HMRC may subsequently amend legislation or remove QROPS status of any schemes without warning.
THE ADVANTAGES OF QROPS Transferring a pension fund abroad has several advantages: it enables a pension fund to be Euro-denominated, and therefore provides income payments in Euros reducing exposure to currency exchange fluctuations. An offshore scheme may offer greater control of the fund, and the potential to pass funds to children free from UK taxes, although tax consequences in France remain to be clarified. THE DISADVANTAGES OF QROPS The main potential disadvantage of a QROPS is that the scheme could be de-registered as a QROPS, which could mean that any
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individuals who transferred to the scheme may be liable for up to 55% tax. One key area that is often omitted by advisers is that a QROPS’ income is not secure, and based on the investment performance of the fund. It is important to seek advice from independent advisers who are familiar both with UK and French legislation, as any decision made with your pension funds will last your lifetime, and it may not be possible to unwind an arrangement in the future. If you wish to discuss your own ﬁnancial planning requirements in more detail, please contact David on 05 56 34 71 77.
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Properties near Civray from Leggett Immobilier
Thinking of moving? Each issue we highlight a town in Poitou-Charentes to help you get to know the region. Here we visit Civray in Vienne (86)
fortifications. Civray continued to be an important commercial centre up until the 19th century, trading in regional specialities including chestnuts and truffles. The latter is making a comeback today with several local growers and an annual truffle market in January. Today, Civray town is home to approximately 3,000 residents, with a total of 9,000 residents across the 12 villages that make up the 9km2 Pays Civraisien. No longer a centre of commerce for the region it is, however, a bustling market town which is popular with families moving to the area.
traddling the River Charente, the market town of Civray can be found in the south Vienne, only 10km from the borders of both Charente and Deux-Sèvres. The town developed around an ancient ford crossing the river via an island which was later replaced by two bridges. By 1030, Civray, with its church and fortified château, was considered one of the strongest and most powerful places in Poitou. Like many other local towns, the subsequent wars took their toll and in 1363, the town was taken by Thomas of Woodstock, the thirteenth, and youngest, child of Edward III of England. It returned to French hands in 1373. Today, the remains of the fortified château are still visible in some parts of the town. The superb façade of the 12th century Romanesque church Eglise Saint-Nicolas, with its elaborate sculpting, overlooks the weekly markets held in the market square, and the Hôtel Louis XIII in a neighbouring street dates back to the end of the 15th century. Also worth searching out is the Tour Pigeonnier dating back to a similar time which can be found behind the church and which was built on the earlier town
The Pays Civraisien has a total of nine primary schools, including one private, with two collèges in Civray, one of which is private, and two Lycées.
Ref: 20919 Price: €130,800. Wonderful character house in village centre with two bedrooms, a large garden and a useful barn, 10 minutes from the market town of Civray.
Ref: 15171 Recently reduced from €226,000 to €194,400. Riverside 2 bedroom house with gardens to the river Charente and open views near Civray. This is a very special riverside property, carefully, and meticulously restored.
Civray has two weekly markets, a general market on Tuesday mornings and a food market on Friday. It is also home to several English-speaking associations including Accents (who support bilingualism and offer English literacy lessons for English speaking children), Open Door and Entente Internationale. The outdoor swimming pool, situated on the river island, is popular with families as is the cinema which often shows English language films.
Ref: 12261 Recently reduced from €214,000 to €172,800. Exceptional 3 bedroom charentaise longhouse with lots of character, plenty of space in a fantastic community in Civray
One of the reasons for Civray’s popularity is its close proximity to the RN10. Low cost flights from Poitiers airport are forty minutes away with Limoges airport an hour’s drive. The nearest train station is at the small village of Saint Saviol, just 5km from Civray, with local trains to Poitiers and to Angoulême where they connect with the TGV network.
CALL 0800 900 324 (fr)
0033 (0) 553 56 62 54 email@example.com
TIC ESTATE AGENTS 17 rue du Dr Roux, 16700 RUFFEC
R3273 : 2 bed town house with independent studio on the ground floor. Courtyard and access direct onto the river Charente. 87 000€
R3281 : Simply stunning, 5 bed, 3 bathrooms, country property with amazing views & pool on over half an acre. Attractive price 225 000€
R3278 : Attractive ‘ensemble’ to renovate. Offering 2 stone houses, large barn & only 3 kms from Ruffec. 65 400€
R3275 : Architect designed villa with gîte & pool, 16 acres including woodland, views to die for & an established campsite business. 503 500€
Tél : 05 45 71 00 46 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org www.tic-ruffec.com
L’Immobilière du Village CHARENTAISE HOUSE (REF 656)
Attractive large Charentaise house for renovation with barn and enclosed garden 107,000€ FAI TTC
350m2 habitable house in the middle of the village. 4 large beds. Barn, outbuilding, 1.5Ha land. 317,200€ FAI TTC
TO CONVERT (REF 657)
HOUSE WITH GITE (REF 632)
Beautiful barn, workshop with potential for large house. Enclosed garden, about 300m2, with trees. 33,000€ FAI TTC
Beautiful 188m2 house with 111m2 gite, bread oven and 2200 m2 land 219,000€ FAI TTC
RENOVATED 16C PRESBYTERY (REF 665)
PRETTY CHARACTER HOUSE (REF 623)
Charming. Huge rooms all with stone fireplaces.2 beds, bath. 700m2 garden near river in pretty village. 212,000€ FAI TTC
Living 36m2 with fire place and open kitchen. Living/study 22m2, utility, 3 bed, 1 bath, 600m2 garden. Potential for expansion. Only 77,700€ FAI TTC
French-registered Estate Agent (Card N°133 registered with the Charente prefecture)
30 rue des Halles 16510 VERTEUIL sur CHARENTE
Tél : 05 45 85 42 07
9 place Gambetta - 86400 CIVRAY Tél : 05 49 97 11 30 - FAX : 05 49 97 11 32 email@example.com www.agencemercure.fr
Ref 22493. Romagne area. Attractive country property in excellent condition. Spacious rooms, 5 large bedrooms. Barn, stables… enclosed garden of 3140m². 313 200€ FAI
Ref 22501. Gençay area. In village with shops, 19th C. house, original features intact, 3 reception rooms, 6 bedrooms, vaulted cellars, outbuildings, just under 1 acre of garden on riverside. 297 000€ FAI
Ref 22505. Between Civray & Ruffec. In beautiful rolling countryside, sitting in over 2 acres, charming 3 bedroom stone house. Close to village with bakery, school, Charente river,… 151 200€ FAI
Ref 22506. 8 mins from Civray. Set in 2.9 acres single storey, general good condition, kitchen, lounge, 3 bedrooms, shower room, WC. Double garage, barn,… Courtyard & land. 103 000€ FAI
Ref 22508. 5mins from Civray. In pretty village, stone house with 3 bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, entrance hall, bathroom, WC. Finishing work to be done. Nice enclosed garden of 2054m². 94 500€ FAI
Ref 22511. 5 mins from Nanteuil en Vallée. In small village, stone house for full renovation. Water & electric on site. Barn, garage. Set on 1857m² of land. Nice countryside. 28 500€ FAI
SOVIMO IMMOBILIER Réf. 27701 : 87 600€ FAI Pleuville area (16), Edge of a small market town, detached cottage on a basement : 2 bedrooms, big barn with stable, Land approx. 4549 sqm.
Réf. 26973 : Reduced at 30 700€ FAI Oradour Fanais area (16), in a hamlet, Cottage on a level, 2 bedrooms, outbuildings, Land approx. 519 sqm.
Réf. 27680 : 169 800€ FAI St Laurent de Ceris area (16), nice detached renovated cottage: 3 bedrooms, terrace, Land approx. 1721 sqm.
Réf. 27734 : 43 800€ FAI St Maurice des Lions area (16), in an hamlet, cottage with all comforts : 3 bedrooms, garage, barn, Garden approx. 832 sqm..
Réf. 26211 : Reduced to 43 800€ FAI Abzac area (16), nice landscape, Cottage without comforts, Land approx 2120 sqm river bank.
Réf. 27658 : 202 700€ FAI Alloue (16), in a small market town, Nice stone house, 3 bedrooms, attic to convert. Garage, garden approx. 550 sqm.
3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens Tel: 05 45 85 45 65 firstname.lastname@example.org
Property Sales In France Helping you ﬁnd your perfect home
CB1168 • €39,500 Riverside Village - 5 Bedrooms - Holiday Rental Potential Renovation Project
CB1174 • €99,640 Village Location - 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom attached Garden
CB1175 • €58,500 2/3 Bed Completely Renovated Village Cottage with Attached Garden
CB1172 • €148,400 3 Bedroom 250m2 Village House, Gated Entrance and 1500m2 Garden
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Need some advice? Each edition we talk to local artisans about their business. If you have a question that you would like answered then email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help! What’s the truth about solar panel payback?
I am considering fitting solar panels to heat our water but I’ve heard the payback is 20 years or so - is it really worth it? TJ (86) “How long will it take to recoup my investment?” is the most frequently asked question about ‘eco-systems’. A well designed and installed Solar Hot Water System is considered to be the best eco investment and, with the efﬁciency of the systems available today, you will be looking on average at a payback in the 6-8 year bracket. One of the advantages of solar is that it does actually have a ‘payback’, if you buy oil, gas or electricity there is no pay back - ever. You will also have to service, maintain and ultimately renew your boiler at some time. Once you factor in future energy increases, inﬂation, maintenance and servicing of equipment, the sums speak for themselves! Plus, eco installations are becoming increasingly popular with house buyers and you can command, on average, around 5000€ more for your property. What’s more, as a French resident you are eligible for Crédit d’impôts of 32% of the product costs until the end of this year. This credit can be increased to 40% if you install
Stripped off a ‘bouquet de travaux’ (two or more eco products), but there are some limits and restrictions. If you do not pay tax in France or are below the threshold, you will receive a cheque back - yes it really happens! I know some people have tried and failed but I assure you, if you know how to ﬁll in the forms correctly, it is very straight forward. Solar installations also attract the reduced 7% TVA rate helping minimise the initial cost. Whatever form of eco system you consider, it is vital you choose a system that will perform efﬁciently for a very long time with a good guarantee. Look for the Solar Keymark and a high optical efﬁciency.
If you are looking for the best way to remove paint from wooden doors, shutters or windows then stripping with caustic soda is the way to go! Rather than invest in new ﬁttings, the items can be submerged in a Dip and Strip tank using a carefully controlled mixture of caustic soda and water. Once the paint and varnish has dissolved, the items are removed, washed and neutralized. The result is a clean surface which can then be painted, stained or varnished. What’s more, the metal ﬁtments do not need to be removed from the wood, making it an easy solution for the householder. Michele Sparks from Absolu Paint Stripping explains that many of their clients are delighted to ﬁnd details that have been covered over by several layers of paint. “And they are also able to keep the original ﬁttings that give character to the property”, she says. For items that cannot be moved such as beams, stonework and ﬁreplaces, the company can also offer sandblasting in situ, resulting in clean surfaces ready for ﬁnishing. For more information, call Michele on 05 49 07 62 71 or visit www.absolupaintstripping.com. BEFORE
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We have gathered together some of the best suppliers and services across the region and further aﬁeld and you will ﬁnd their adverts throughout the magazine and the new Market Place. Please use their services and let them know that you saw their advert in Living Poitou-Charentes - it is only through the support of our advertisers that we can bring you this magazine FREE.
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To see a portfolio of our work and client recommendations go to our web site: www.deux-sevres-renovation-and-construction.co.uk With our great network of local artisans and our in-depth knowledge of the French processes, we can help you every step of the way.
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Building Services Sarl
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We speak english
Fosse septiques and drainage Certificate of conformity guaranteed
Call : 0549 87 04 13
St Laurent de Ceris - Montemboeuf
Siret 53009674200016 Tel Tony
TERRASSEMENT, CHEMIN D’ ACCES Tarifs intéressants, Travail soigné, Devis gratuit
05 45 31 19 40 06 26 71 45 69
Garden and home lighting design, scene setting and PIR lighting systems. Security alarms, fire detection, CCTV and automated entry systems. Domestic and commercial. Consumers units, rewires, new builds, fault finding and inspections.
CARPENTER / JOINER n
SIRET: 494 068 315 00014
05 49 87 09 63
Tel: 05 49 27 67 29
Call Tony Sparks Today All areas covered
Tel: 05 49 07 62 71 Mob: 06 47 67 57 49
E: firstname.lastname@example.org 79120 Saint Coutant Fully insured, all work guaranteed Electricians
Electricity: Rewires Repairs and installations Plumbing: Repairs and installations Assainissement: Fosse septique Renovation: Plasterboarding Rooﬁng Insulation
Plumbing & Building services
REWIRES, NEW BUILD, ELECTRIC HEATING, HOME SECURITY, LIGHTNING PROTECTION, TV & AUDIO. WORK GUARANTEED & INSURED Areas: 16, 36, 37, 79, 86, 87
Tel: 05 49 50 09 06 Mob: 06 70 97 59 56 Email: email@example.com siret: 45275539000013 RM8601
AnyÊconditionÊPreÊ1985 IÊamÊaÊcollector notÊaÊdealer.
Large or small projects, from new builds, total rewires (including 3 phase) to Having additional sockets/lights installed to Conformity Inspections
Tel: 05 49 91 85 54 firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com Siret 49376573200015
All departments covered SIRET: 480 026 560 00012
CAR BREAKERS C.R.A.L
Garage Buisson SARL
VW approved service
Architectural Designer Architectural designs, planning applications & project management for extensions, renovations, conversions and new build. Departments covered 16, 17, 79, 86 Tel/Fax: 05.46.98.22.01
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.idarchitecturaldesign.com
and repair centre
English spoken We will collect your scrap car for free We sell & buy secondhand cars R.H.D or L.H.D Spare parts for sale English spoken Les Tourettes - 87440 SAINT MATHIEU Tel: 0555482133 email@example.com
All cars serviced - ask for Didier New & Used car sales - ask for Stéphane 39 Av Célestin Sieur 16700, RUFFEC Tel: 05 45 31 01 39 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cancer Support France (CSF) Charente Plus Volunteers needed to train as Active Listeners in the Charente-Maritime and the Vienne. Also required for our bureau, a secretary (about 6 hrs/ week) and a vice president (time commitment to suit volunteer). Membership is just €10 p.a. – show your support by simply joining the association.
Available for all types of electrical work renovations, small works, gate automations etc. Insured and guaranteed
WANTED OLDÊMOPEDSÊ &ÊMOTORCYCLES
Experienced, French Registered Electrician
05 46 86 07 61
Tel: 05 46 26 68 83 - Portable 06 61 58 01 21
Peter Amor Electrician
Areas 16, 17, 24, 47
7, Rue de la Distillerie -17160 Cressé
Ellis Electrique EXPERIENCED QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN
Imajica Joinery ESTABLISHED COMPANY, CONSCIENTIOUS & RELIABLE SERVICE For a superior ﬁnish in wood, tile, plasterboard and general restoration Specialising in kitchen ﬁtting & creative challenges
* Staircases, windows, doors, gates, barn doors * Kitchens, plasterboarding, tiling, rooﬁng * Restoration and general building 25 years experience *
Siret 494 719 826 00021
If you are interested and want more information please contact either Viv at email@example.com or Pat on 0545 296624 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We really do need your help!
Accents MakeÊsureÊyourÊchildrenÊkeepÊupÊtoÊspeedÊwithÊ theirÊEnglishÊLiteracyÊwhileÊlivingÊinÊFrance WeeklyÊclassesÊheldÊinÊCivrayÊ(86400) ExperiencedÊUKÊteachersÊusingÊthe latestÊUKÊmaterials ForÊagesÊ5+ EstablishedÊ2007 www.accents-asso.fr email@example.com AssociationÊLoiÊ1901
www.livingpoitoucharentes.com | 63
THE MARKET PLACE SW
Welcome to the Market Place - the only place to be seen!
To place your advert please call Jon on: 05.49.87.29.71
SOUTH WEST FRANCE Associations
L i ving With a membership of over 200 families in departments 16, 17, 86 and 87, CLE is a well established oluntary organisation helping nonFrench nationals to integrate into their communities. CLE organises tax and fi nancial seminars as well as cultural and social events. These, combined with affordable French lessons at various levels, assist in ensuring that members enjoy their life in France
Looking for long term loan home:
Ruby & Ebony Can be homed together or individually
Subscribe to Living and get your own copy delivered directly to your door! For full details, see
Equine Rescue France
All homes will be checked and a loan agreement will be put in place. An adoption fee is payable, see website for details. Please become a member or send us a donation to help us to continue to help equines in France.
Reg: 862000830 (Montmorillon)
L i ving
TheÊworldÊleaderÊinÊchildrenÕsÊmusicÊandÊmusicÊprogramsÊ inÊEnglishÊ(0-7years)ÊisÊlookingÊforÊdedicated,ÊinspiringÊ KindermusikÊEducatorsÊtoÊteachÊtheÊmethod acrossÊPoitou-Charentes. IfÊyouÊareÊmusical,ÊloveÊchildrenÊwithÊaÊgoodÊlevelÊofÊ English, you are looking for a ﬂexible job, to be your own boss, then Kindermusik is for you! SetÊyourÊownÊclassÊschedule,ÊmeetÊyourÊownÊincomeÊ goals and have the ﬂexibility and freedom you’re lookingÊfor. ÊForÊmoreÊinformation,ÊpleaseÊcontactÊMarieÊAhrens firstname.lastname@example.org.ÊTelÊ06Ê65Ê63Ê05Ê77 www.kindermusik-france.com
To advertise your recruitment opportunities,
Career Changing Opportunities
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With excellent earning potential
We are currently recruiting in
Bressuire, Niort, Poitiers, Cognac, Chatellerault, Thouars, Fonteney-le-Comte, Surgères, Parthenay and Lusignan for sales agents (agent commercials) Full training provided - Call Sarah Edwards:
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L i ving 05 49 87 29 71 or email at
Looking to buy or sell? We have thousands of properties on our website, local knowledge you can trust.
POITOU CHARENTES Don’t miss our WEDDING
October/ November 2012
64 | www.livingpoitoucharentes.com
Motoring in Poitou-Charentes Autumnal colours across the region
UpGeat s e u l B e m i t r e m Sum more)... (and S
o, what do you think of it so far? While it’s likely that summer 2012 seems destined to go on record as one of the more disappointing ones in terms of weather, we certainly can’t complain about the quality of the music we’ve been offered around the region. Early on, the weather was generally kind to Angoulême’s Musique Métisse Festival, which, as usual, attracted enthusiastic audiences for its eclectic mix of worldmusic. Likewise the Festival International de Musique de Chambre en Charente, whose 4th edition once again brought world-class classical musicians to Chalais and the surrounding communities. The diversity of styles was further underlined in Cognac by this year’s Blues Passions, arguably the region’s flagship music event, whose investment in quality programming somehow
manages to comfortably(?) surpass its potential gate-receipt returns. As usual, the headline acts sold-out, the night skies reverberated to the pulse of musical energy, the primal roar of the audiences wafted across the Charente river – and a lot of people went home not quite believing their good fortune for being able to be part of it all. Talking of which, if you’re a true Francophile you’ll already know that for the past fifteen years Cognac’s annual extravaganza has been followed by Les Francofolies de La Rochelle. The 2012 edition of this huge international celebration of Francophone music once again saw the whole town seized by the colourful, carnival (or rather ‘carnaval’) atmosphere which attracts artistes and visitors from far and wide. Highlights included Laurent Voulzy and Les Tistics, whose Les Franglaises stage-show proved that some things (in this case English pop
siret: 489 218 636 00012
15 Grande Rue, Le Dorat Opening Times: Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs 9am - 5.30pm Fri 9am - 10pm 05 55 60 29 74 | email@example.com
Find out more..
www.rochefort-en-accords.fr www.francofolies.fr www.lestistics.com/les-franglaises www.bluespassions.com www.facebook.com/pages /Mad-Hatters-Kitchen
Serving freshly made good food Tues to Sat evening meals by reservation. Sunday lunches every week
CafŽ - Bar & Events Venue Lunch Menu - Large Selection of Fresh Homemade Food Chambres dÕh™tes Free WiFi Access
classics) just don’t translate. Events like these are real big-leaguers, of course, but elsewhere we’ve had countless others of all styles and sizes, and as we slip lazily into late summer there’s plenty more still to come, sometimes in the least-obvious places. In the leafy depths of the Deux-Sèvres countryside, for example, you’ll find a two-day mini-festival happening on 17th/18th August at Madhatter’s Kitchen, Le Breuil, near Caunay. The line-up includes singer/songwriter Angie Palmer, country rock from The Endless Trail and a power-packed blues-rock performance from one of the region’s hottest acts, the Thomas Ottogalli Trio. Meanwhile, back over on the Atlantic Coast, September 13-15th sees the historic seafaring town of Rochefort launching into festival mode. Now in its eighth year, Rochefort en Accords 2012 promises more of the event’s trademark ‘imprésible et inattendu’ – unforeseeable and unexpected interaction between musicians with the improvisational skills and sensitivity to play together and see where the road leads. Artistes include Chicago blues/jazz/funk man Tino Gonzales and Texan (and now British) singer/songwriter Shawn Phillips, and the performance locations include, believe it or not, Rochefort’s celebrated transporter-bridge. You have to admire people who stick their necks out by putting on events like these. It’s never easy, as anyone who has ever tried will tell you, so don’t just think about going – get out there, support their efforts and enjoy some great live music!
Mad HatterÕs HatterÕs Kitchen
la Petite Fontaine
(check Website for Events)
AUBERGE DE BLANZAY Under New Management
French/English cuisine Menu du Jour €12.50 Garden - Events Restaurant Family friendly Near Civray (86400) Tel: 05 49 87 50 87 Open daily except Weds 11.00h - 22.00h
And now opening Thurs/Fri lunchtime for a special set menu 12 €
Music/Bistro events Sat 4 August, Popular rock with No Tools Required
Festival weekend 17 and 18 August The Endless Trail Band, Paul Whitton, Angie Palmer, Soul Monkeys and Thomas Ottagalli Friday 24 August Music night Friday 31 August Music night Please ring or e mail for more info
0549 27 67 29
Le Logis, Le Breuillac, 79190 Caunay
Book reviews Former BBC books reviewer, Sandie George, takes a look at the latest French and English bestsellers.
THE DEVIL’S CAVE by MARTIN WALKER Published by Quercus
THE HOUSE I LOVED by TATIANA de ROSNAY Published by Macmillan
The village of St Denis seems to have become the ‘Midsomer’ of the Dordogne. The ever popular Bruno Courreges, local Chief of Police, has his hands full when he realises two apparent suicides are actually murders. These bear the signs of a black magic ritual but he also has to mediate in a domestic abuse case and investigate a possible fraud on a local development proposal. Great read.
HOW’S THE PAIN by PASCAL GARNIER Published by Gallic
*** A very French novel, well translated but a little ‘noir’. Simon, an ageing vermin exterminator, is preparing to die but he has one last job on the coast and needs a driver. Bernard has never seen the sea so jumps at the opportunity of being chauffeur. Veering from the hilarious to the horriﬁc, this offbeat story takes you on a rollercoaster read.
Only the third book written in the English language by this popular French authoress. Paris, 1869, and houses are being razed to make way for the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Rose Bazelet, whose late husband was born in the home she lives in, has received a letter to say her house will be demolished. Her ﬁght to stay is told in notes as if she were talking to her husband.
THE NAMELESS DEAD by BRIAN McGILLOWAY Published by Macmillan
**** Inspector Devlin is searching for a body on the Isle of Islandmore through which the border runs between the Republic and Northern Ireland. A cillin is found, where babies who were born dead were buried but, on the other side more babies with deformed faces are found and then, at last, the body of the man. The babies and the dead man are linked, of course, but it will keep you guessing.
SON OF SERGE BASTARDE by JOHN DUMMER Published by Summersdale
***1/2 Licensed Brocanteur, John Dummer, lives in France and this is his second book about the likeable rogue, Serge Bastarde. This time we go behind the scenes of brocantes, meeting several delightful characters – all wiling to slit each other’s throats for that one unique item! The atmosphere of rural France is captured beautifully and this would be an excellent holiday read or gift.
L i ving Recommended bestsellers : Blood Line by Linda La Plante, published by Simon & Schuster H.M. Queen Elizabeth II: The Diamond Jubilee, published by Hodder Childrens’ Books Round The Bend by Jeremy Clarkson, published by Penguin Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, published by Fourth Estate Gok Cooks Chinese by Gok Wan, published by Michael Joseph
BooksÊinÊEnglishÊ ForÊSaleÊorÊExchange Available from the following places... Fenioux, Vouvant, St Aubin, Thouars, Coulonges sur l’Autize, Brux, L’Absie, La Ferriere, St Maixent, Moncoutant Call 06 08 30 73 29 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Paperback Jan is on facebook... Siret: 512 891 060 00018
For all your wordy needs
Content writing, editing, proof-reading and English tuition Whether you want someone to write the content for your website, someone to write your promotional materials or someone to help with your child’s reading and writing, words are Emma’s world and she can help you make the most of them. English tuition for students from 5-18 Sessions also available in a virtual classroom over the internet
contact Emma on 05 45 65 30 70 www.english-tuition.weebly.com
A HOUSE WITH BARN IN HAMLET
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Living Poitou-Charentes is the regional magazine that embraces, celebrates and supports local life and business. It has been created for the...
Published on Jul 31, 2012
Living Poitou-Charentes is the regional magazine that embraces, celebrates and supports local life and business. It has been created for the...