Living Magazine April/May 2023

Page 1


Business Directory Featuring the best local companies APRIL | MAY 2023
INSIDE: Spring isHere!


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to our April / May issue

Spring is finally upon us, and with it comes the promise of warmer weather and the opportunity to get out and explore the beautiful region we call home. I love watching the first buds open and listening as the trees come alive with the buzzing of insects, knowing that our lives will be buzzing with friends and family as summer approaches.

In this issue of Living Magazine, we have some fabulous features to help you embrace the longer days and make the most of the opportunities they present. We’re looking forward to an active summer so we show you how to prepare your bikes for getting out and about, as well as some marvellous places that you will want to visit.

Climate change is always a hot topic, so we take a deep dive into the new recycling rules; the region has great ambitions and we all have our part to play. The good news is, though, that it is becoming easier to be greener now that the infrastructure is in place. Anyone who visits their local déchetterie will know how different they are today to a decade ago. We also take a look at that perennial question for so many: now you have all that land, what are you going to do with it? And, of course, we have all our regular columns and features from recipes to local news and views. There is something for everyone within our pages.

As always, we say a big thank you to our many advertisers and subscribers for supporting Living Magazine so we can continue to inform, entertain, and inspire.

Read online at EDITOR A bientôt!

EDITOR: Kathryn Dobson

SALES: Jon Dobson


REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Caro Feely, Gillian Harvey, Jessica Knipe, Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Mike Morris, Roger Moss, and Rosie Neave.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Roger Moss or Shutterstock unless indicated.

COVER IMAGE: Le Roque Gageac © Roger Moss


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Articles and adverts in this issue do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Les articles et publicités de ce numéro ne reflètent pas nécessairement les opinions de l’éditeur.


6 Snippets

Local news from around the region


Riverside Rambles

Roger Moss casts an inquisitive eye over some of our most entertaining travelling companions


The Road to Recycling

Jessica Knipe goes on a deep dive through our rubbish to find out what recycling really means on a daily basis


Ready to Roll

With eye-watering fuel prices at the pumps, we prepare our bikes for carefree family rides


Spring is in the Air

Join Rosie Neave as she explores the beginnings of spring in the countryside


Puzzle Break

Our unique crossword by Mike Morris
46 Business Directory Featuring the best local companies APRIL MAY 2023 INSIDE: Spring isHere! RIVERSIDE RAMBLES GETTING READY to RIDE REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE LOCAL NEWS and VIEWS & much more...

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FOR EDITORIAL & SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES: Email us at, phone +33 (0)5 49 97 10 17 or write to us at the address opposite. TO FIND OUT HOW TO ADVERTISE WITH LIVING MAGAZINE: Email us at or phone Jon on +33 (0)5 49 97 10 17. Prices start at only 40€ per month. GET IN TOUCH 41 28 36 Practical Advice Your questions answered by our experts 38 Holiday Reading We ask Caro Feely, wine expert, for her favourite titles that entertain as well as educate 41 Nikki Legon’s Cuisine We focus on another local delicacy, asparagus, as it arrives in markets around the region 54-65 OUR BUSINESS DIRECTORY
34 46 Living Property Pages We visit Le Bugue in Dordogne 48 Wonder Webs Ghostly webs stretch through hedgerows in late spring but is the tiny moth responsible to be feared? 50 Losing the Plot
a large garden
work so
Harvey talks to four gardeners about working their land 66 Pardon! Emma-Jane Lee’s regular foray into French
can be hard


Homeowner Form

In January, the government introduced a new mandatory declaration, the Déclaration d’occupation, to help phase out taxe d’habitation for all but the highest earners and second homes. All homeowners, regardless of whether they live in the country or not, must complete this declaration to confirm whether their property is their principal residence or not. This is important for the tax office, which will use the information to determine whether to charge taxe d’habitation. The form is available on your online tax portal under the tab ‘Biens immobiliers’ and must be completed before 30 June to avoid a €150 fine. Once you have completed the form, you only need to update it if there is a change in your living situation such as a family member moves out. If you do not have an account, there are instructions on the site about how to set one up. The form is available in English on your tax portal or you can ring 0809 401 401 to declare over the phone. Alternatively, pop in to your tax office - many are happy to help. However you choose to declare your occupancy, don’t miss the deadline!


Spring school holidays are staggered by académie, so vacations in Zone A (which includes Nouvelle-Aquitaine) run from 8-24 April, while Zone B (which includes Vendée) take place from 15 April - 2 May.

There are also five upcoming JOURS FÉRIÉS, including four long weekends and a potential pont:

Mon 10 April: Lundi de Pâques

Mon 1 May: Fête du Travail

Mon 8 May: Victoire 1945

Thu 18 May: Ascension

Mon 29 May: Pentecôte


Originally launched under the name ‘Kavval’, is a platform developed by a team based in Lyon and Nantes to promote running and walking races and events across France and further afield. Searchable by region or by event type, the platform contains information on over 1,500 events across the country with a packed calendar across NouvelleAquitaine and Vendée. So whether you are looking for an 8km obstacle race for you and your team, a marathon, a cross country race or simply an organised hike, click on to the site and pick the one that fits the bill. Full details of how to enrol, what is involved and more is provided on one easy-to-navigate page. So, why not dust off those trainers and get going...


The annual Journées Européennes des Moulins takes place over the weekend of 20-21 May. Watermillls and windmills across France will be open with over 100 events in our area. See

La Fête des Voisins is in the diary this year for Friday, 26 May. Check local noticeboards to see what is planned in your neighbourhood - it is a great way to catch up with neighbours before the summer as well as to meet newcomers to your area.

Meanwhile, the annual Fête de la Nature is planned for 24-29 May. Join in the many activities and events celebrating the biodiversity of our region. Events will be publicised on the dedicated website at REGIONAL
The Royan marathon and half-marathon will be held on 27 May

Etias Delay

The introduction of the EU’s visa-waiver system has been delayed again and is not expected to come into force until next year, perhaps after the Olympics. Etias, which stands for the Electronic Travel Information and Authorisation System, is designed to strengthen border security by requiring non-EU citizens to register before entering the EU. First proposed in 2016, the roll-out has been held up several times, with Brexit and the pandemic both playing their part alongside technical issues. This latest delay is being attributed to issues with the EES (Entry/Exit System) as Etias relies on receiving data from EES. Once in place, Etias visas are expected to cost €7.

Drought Alert

It may feel early to be discussing drought measures but five departments in eastern France are already under water restrictions, and groundwater reserves across France are worryingly low after a long period without rain this winter. The government has already held an emergency meeting with Préfets across France to discuss plans to conserve drinking water and avoid another difficult drought this summer. Environment minister Christophe Béchu has sounded the alarm after ‘an unprecedented winter drought’ has already led to two-thirds of the country’s rivers being below normal water levels. The lack of snowfall, which shortened the ski season, also means there will be less meltwater in late spring and early summer. Farmers are already concerned, and with the debate raging over water storage in bassins, another summer of drought will exacerbate the situation. Everyone is being urged to reduce their water usage during periods without rain and to plan ahead for summer.

Introducing Natali

For anyone wishing to apply for French nationality, the government has introduced a simplified online process known as NATALI. For foreigners living in France, there are two main pathways to Naturalisation française par décret; living in France for a minimum of five years (this can be reduced to two if further education in French is undertaken), or via marriage to a French citizen for at least four years. A pilot for the scheme has been tested in several departments across the country, and the portal is now open to all mainland applicants. The aim is to streamline the process which currently sees some people waiting months, if not years, to submit their dossier. Only then does the citizenship process begin which can also take several years given current backlogs. Once the dossier is uploaded and confirmed, only one in-person appointment is required for the interview. This is when your knowledge of French history and culture and your integration into French life are scrutinised.

The pick of the news that
today >
will affect you wherever you live in south west France…
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Come and meet our friendly flock of rescued farm animals, large and small from giant rabbits, guinea pigs & goats, to hens & horses, ducks & donkeys, pot belly pigs and Tula Whether you re celebra�ng a special occasion or spending �me out with friends, enjoy an a�ernoon at the Bistro on our poolside terrace. A�ernoon Tea - Ar�san Pizzas - Daily Specials Advance booking is essen�al Open Thursday to Saturday Shop from 9h00, Bistro from 12h00. Bistro and Bar Bou�que Homeware Store Farm Tours Cra� Workshops In the heart of the Charente countryside, surrounded by farmland and vineyards, close to the beau�ful historic village of Poullignac. Bel Air, Pouillignac, 16190 Mobile 06 07 43 19 70 Siret - 89173343800016 Our purpose built cra� studio hosts monthly adult s furniture workshops and children Furniture Workshops Guest Cra� Workshops Children s Cra� Par�es Our pe�te bou�que is filled with unique homewares and exquisite handmade gi� items lovingly cra�ed by local ar�sans. Stoney Oak Farm produce is also available. Come and meet our friendly flock of rescued farm animals, large and small - from giant rabbits, guinea pigs & goats, to hens & horses, ducks & donkeys, pot-belly pigs and Tula the talking parrot. Whether you re celebra�ng a special occasion or spending �me out with friends, enjoy an a�ernoon at the Bistro on our poolside terrace. A�ernoon Tea - Ar�san Pizzas Advance booking is essen�al Open Thursday to Saturday Shop from 9h00, Bistro from 12h00. Bistro and Bar Bou�que Homeware Store Farm Tours Cra� Workshops In the heart of the Charente countryside, surrounded by farmland and vineyards, close to the beau�ful historic village of Poullignac. Bel Air, Pouillignac, 16190 Mobile 06 07 43 19 70 Siret - 89173343800016 Our purpose built cra� studio hosts monthly s furniture workshops and children s cra� sessions. 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Abzac Ostensions

As part of the Ostensions Limousines held every seven years, Abzac will be one of three communes opening the celebrations on 10 April (Easter Monday). A former priory of the diocese of Limoges, Abzac has held the relics of two martyrs, Saints Lucius and Emeritus, since they were gifted by the Pope in 1670. The tradition of the worshipping of relics, or ostensions, dates back to 994 when the ‘evil of the burning’ caused by ergot, a parasite of rye, was cured by the ostension of Saint Martial’s relics in Limoges. The celebrations adopted a septennial rhythm in the 16th century and are now recognised by UNESCO. The parade begins at the church in Abzac at 2.30pm and everyone is welcome to join in. See ostensions for the full calendar of celebrations.

Classical Gems

Summer time means music time, as the 14th edition of the Festival International de Musique de Chambre en Charente kick-starts the Charente’s major summer festivals, with 5 weekends of musical celebrations. A reputation for fresh, exciting programmes played by some of the biggest names on the current global classical music scene has made the festival one of the most renowned of its kind over the years. With after-concert social activities and local producers’ markets, this unique and dynamic festival attracts discerning music-lovers and newbies in equal measure from across the region and beyond. Come and join your favourite festival artists for a total immersion in the magical world of chamber music. All events are free for children during the festival, which runs from 6 May to 4 June. Advance booking is strongly recommended. For full details and tickets, see www. or call 06 65 24 51 75.

Michelin Stars

Engine Restoration

Steam train enthusiasts are being asked to delve into their piggy banks to help the Train des Mouettes association in Charente-Maritime renovate a 112-year-old Fives-Lille engine so she can transport tourists between Saujon and La Tremblade. Once back in service, she will be joining the association’s 1891 Schneider and 1912 Henschel carrying over 38,000 passengers annually along the 21km route. Built in 1910, the engine is considered a Monument Historique after having transported coal for 50 years, but the required renovation work is expected to cost €238,000. After grants, the association needs to raise €80,000. To donate, see

The great reveal of Michelin stars is a night of high drama in the hospitality world and, this year, the Charentes had both winners and losers. A Michelin Guide director drove from Paris to La Rochelle to explain to Christopher Coutanceau, one of the world’s most acclaimed chefs, why his eponymous restaurant was losing one of its prized Michelin stars, passing from three to two. Meanwhile, in Puymoyen near Angoulême, the AumÌ restaurant celebrated its first star, a fantastic achievement for a restaurant that has only been open 6 months. Created by Mickaël Clautour, 30, and his partner Laura Legeay, 27, it seats 25 and already had a two-month waiting list to try its lunchtime menu du marché at €28 or its evening menus of 4 or 6 courses (€48 and €68). The couple met at the local hospitality school Saint-Joseph l’Amandier in Saint-Yrieix-sur-Charente and travelled to Australia and Hong Kong to learn new skills and improve their English.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION... LES CHARENTES Île de Oléron LA ROCHELLE Royan Marennes Rochefort Surgeres Île de Ré CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Saintes Rouillac Ruffec Jarnac Cognac Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne ANGOULEME CHARENTE (16) CONFOLENS


Saintes-based barrel maker Tonnellerie Baron has been making oak barrels for the wine and cognac trade since 1875. However, given environmental concerns, a 50% increase in oak prices, and changes in the wine and spirit markets, the company has looked for new ways to innovate. Listening to clients, they regularly heard the request for help in selling used barrels in a way that was quality assured with full traceability. Therefore, in January, they launched Reoaked, the first online marketplace for second-hand barrels. 18 experts in 11 countries guarantee the quality of the barrels that are put up for sale, minimising the risk of fraud, and the company handles the transactions securely for both the buyer and seller. With 4-5 million barrels produced annually around the world, each with a lifespan of over 80 years and each made from oaks that have taken 150-200 years to grow, the benefits (and the need) are clear.

Emoi photographique

Celebrating its 10th exhibition, during which time it has welcomed over 233 photographers, Emoi Photographique’s 2023 programme includes a mix of styles under the theme ‘Arborescence’. The exhibition will be displayed in nine locations across Angoulême from 25 March to 30 April and works by the guest of honour, Olivier Muhlhoff, will be hung as well as those from over 25 other artists. You can find the full calendar of shows at


The 11th Fête des Plantes will be held in the Priory grounds at Marcillac Lanville (16) near Aigre on Sunday, 2 April from 10am – 6pm Entry is €2 for adults including a tombola ticket, while under-18s are free. For information email:

Don’t miss the popular ‘Festival International du Cerf-Volant et du Vent’ at Châtelaillon-Plage (17) over the Easter weekend of 8-10 April.

Tadam! held its inaugural event in Rochefort last year featuring circus arts and acrobat shows suitable for all the family. Held in and around the Théâtre de La Coupe d’Or, this year’s festival will run from 5-14 May.

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Odyssee Dordonha

A traditional gabarre, or flat-bottomed barge, will be descending the Dordogne River from Argentat-sur-Dordogne (in Corrèze) to Libourne (in Gironde) propelled only by the manpower of the ‘Confrérie des gabarriers’ to celebrate the wealth of natural, cultural and agricultural riches linked to the river. Gabarres transported goods along the river until the 19th century when the railways took over but, at their peak, 400 barges would have been built each year to carry goods ranging from wood and leather to chestnuts, truffles and vin de Domme. Once at Libourne, the cargo would have been transferred to a sailing boat for onward delivery while the gabarre was dismantled or used along the waterways with tow paths at Souillac. For this event, the replica barge ‘Elina’, constructed using traditional methods in a Corrèze shipyard, will travel down the river from 8-16 April, stopping at towns along the way where events will celebrate the voyage. At Libourne, the baton will pass to ‘Le Corentin’ a 32m, threemasted sailing ship which will travel north to Vannes to take part in the ‘Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan’. Christened the Odyssee Dordonha, more information on events at the nine riverside stops can be found on the website Today, several replica gabarres carry tourists along the Dordogne with the help of motors. See our feature on page 16 to find out more about the variety of rivers running through our region.

Open Doors

Mimi Arrives

We previously brought you the news that a video game “Dordogne” was in development showcasing the beauty and atmosphere of the area. Created by Bordelais agency Un Je Ne Sais Quoi and Umanimation studios, “Dordogne” is now being launched on multiple platforms. The game’s protagonist is a 32-year-old woman named Mimi, who returns to her grandmother’s house after 20 years to recall a lost summer. As players explore the fictionalised Dordogne region, they collect memories and piece together the story through nine narrative chapters. The game features watercolour graphics, dialogue in Occitan, a soundtrack by the group Supernaive and is available in 15 languages. “Dordogne” is not a literal representation of the area but features a landscape which combines elements from different locations so it feels familiar to anyone living locally. The game’s creator, Cédric Babouche, was influenced by childhood summers spent in Dordogne and Lot and the grandmother’s house in the game is based on his own great-grandmother’s house. He hopes the game evokes nostalgia, kindness, and simplicity while also encouraging players to explore and discover hidden elements. The game costs about 19 euros in digital format, and a collector’s edition is available.

Expect to see Mimi (left) a lot this year starting with the newly formed Châteaux en Fête. From 15 April to 1 May, events are being held at a host of Dordogne châteaux with some opening specially for the occasion. The département is home to 661 châteaux, 67 châteaux forts and 339 manoirs and while the majority do not open to the public, 71 will open their doors for this two week event. Plan your visits on the interactive site which allows you to choose geographically or by type of event. New for this year is the opening of the renovation site at Château de l’Herm and poetry evenings at Biron.
PÉRIGUEUX DORDOGNE (24) Nontron Sarlat-laMontignac Riberac Brantôme Bergerac


Château de Duras

With breathtaking views of the Dropt Valley from its renowned terraces, this Lot-et-Garonne landmark offers a variety of family activities all year round. Dating back to the 12th century, the Château was fortified in the 14th century, eventually passing into the hands of the Durfort family. Despite enduring the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of Religion, the Château underwent a Renaissance transformation into a hunting lodge. Plan a visit between 8-26 July to witness a thrilling live action performance featuring sword fights and daring stunts, where brigands attempt to evade the King’s Musketeers. From 27 July to 27 August, there are also daily falconry and equestrian shows, with a spectacular evening show featuring horses, fire and acrobatics every Friday. For further information regarding all the events, visit


Have you ever wondered what wine to buy, or been disappointed with mass-produced supermarket wine? Do you want to learn more about different grapes and appellations? While we would all love to be an expert many of us rely on others to share their expertise. Sarah, a sommelier qualified in WSET to Advanced Level 3 started her business Le Bon Vivant last year, sourcing quality wines direct from the châteaux. She provides advice and supplies quality French wine from regions throughout France to private clients with a focus on the stunning Bordeaux wines on her doorstep. She can also deliver hand-picked wines for incoming guests to holiday accommodation. These bespoke selection boxes ensure there is something for everyone - the perfect way to start any holiday. Clients within 20km of Riberac also benefit from free delivery for cases of six bottles. To offer this special service to your guests, call Sarah Christie on 06 42 38 10 32 or email on


Le Winestock Festival at Thénac near Monestier - opens on Friday, 28 April and runs through until Sunday, featuring wines, local specialities and both ticketed and free concerts.

Jazz Pourpre en Périgord runs from 10-22 May. Celebrated Andalusian saxophonist and singer Antonio Lizana headlines on 12 May - see the full concert calendar on

The Marché Céramique de Bussière-Badil opens from 18-21 May with 45 artisans exhibiting. See

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Bouton d’Art

Held every two years in Chef Boutonne (79), the Bouton d’Art is a fair that you won’t want to miss. Bringing together over forty talented artists and artisans over the weekend of 24-26 March to demonstrate and sell their wares, it is one of south Deux-Sèvres highlights at this time of year. For 2023, the theme is ‘L’Art et le Bois’, and the Chef Boutonne Foyer Culturel has planned a packed schedule. Friday focuses on introducing younger members of the community to these artists and artisans while Saturday and Sunday are open to all between 10am and 7pm. There are three exhibition areas: Lycée des Métiers J-F Cail, Centre Culturel and Château de Javarzay. Free transport is available to take you to two additional sites at Ensigné and Melleran. Entry to the fair is 5€ but free for those under 18 or unemployed.


Mayors in south Vendée are campaigning for the creation of a railway station decades after the last one closed. With the increased interest in local rail travel, the possibility of investing in the line linking La Roche-sur-Yon to La Rochelle is being studied. At Velluire-sur-Vendée, the station closed in 1969 and is now in private hands. Therefore, the Maire is campaigning for a more modest building to house a new stop, which would service 60,000 residents in the surrounding area. The town has the required space, as well as a population who would welcome the opportunity to travel to La Rochelle without their cars. Other towns such as Nalliers and Le Champ-Saint-Père would also benefit from a stop. However, too many stops would make the journey slower and so there needs to be a balance. A decision will be taken soon, but even if the decision is positive, it is not expected that any new stops will be introduced before next year.


Join In

Vasles Netball Club started in 2014 and was one of the first netball clubs in France. They are a mixed club with women and men of all abilities and fitness levels. Sessions are bilingual, and they hope to encourage more French members as the sport increases in popularity here. For the non-French, It is also a good way to improve your French conversation! Newcomers are welcome all year round and two taster sessions are offered free. The club prides itself on being more than a sports team, hosting a number of fun social events through the year. The club meets on Mondays (5.30-7pm), and Thursdays (6.30-8pm) at the Salle Omnisport, Rue de Stade, 79340 Vasles and is open to everyone over 15 years old. To find out more contact or see Facebook @VaslesNetballClub.

Charette Controversy

The film ‘Vaincre ou Mourir’, produced by Nicolas de Villiers and filmed on the Puy du Fou site, made the front page of the newspaper Libération upon its release, but not for the right reasons. Libération was not alone in questioning what they saw as the film’s bias towards Royalists in the telling of the Vendée War story, tweeting: “The first production of Puy du Fou rewrites the history of the Revolution on the same reactionary and biased model as the shows in the Vendée park”. The president of Puy du Fou, de Villiers, retorted: “Success attracts jealousy. Puy du Fou has millions of visitors each year. But I thank Libération, it is great publicity for the film.” Questions have been raised over the funding for the film, particularly the €200,000 grant from the Pays de la Loire regional council and whether it passed the necessary checks. Puy du Fou was founded by the father of the current president, Philippe de Villiers, who is also a well-known politician said to have the ear of Emmanuel Macron.
DEUX SEVRES (79) VENDÉE (85) Thouars St Jean de Monts de Noirmoutier St Gilles Croix de Vie Chantonnay Luçon La Tranche sur Mer Les Sables d’Olonne Les Herbiers Montalgu Bressuire NIORT LA ROCHE SUR-YON SévreNantaise St-MaixentL’école Melle Parthenay Sévre Niortaise


Sustainable Niort

A number of projects to transform Niort into a greener and more sustainable city are advancing. Work is already underway to improve the area around the station to increase access, provide additional parking and plant nearly 200 trees. Meanwhile, focus has moved on to the Place Martin-Bastard with the Hôtel de Ville where another 50 trees will be planted, and flowerbeds and grassed areas will be created. This is a sensitive location at the heart of the city and close to the Donjon moat. Before this work can start, archaeologists are carrying out a 6-month dig, beginning in May, following an initial investigation in July 2021 which revealed wellpreserved walls, cellars, roads and more. The excavation will cover 2,800m2 and will be carried out in two stages in two distinct areas, lasting until August. “A window opens onto the medieval town,” explained Jérôme Primault, curator of heritage at Drac, the regional department of cultural affairs. “This is a rare opportunity. We are in a neighbourhood contemporary with the setting up of the Donjon, and probably even prior to the 12th century. The investigations should allow us to know if there were residential houses, businesses or workshops, to understand how the city was organized, how people lived, how they moved.” Excavations are also underway as part of the Place Denfert-Rochereau project to create a green, childfriendly space in the centre of the city.



Mai à Vélo

The month of May is dedicated to cycling across France, so it’s the perfect time to get out your bike, dust it down and check it over (we show you how later in this issue). Now in its third year, the aim of the initiative is to encourage young and old to start cycling or simply rediscover the many advantages of getting on your bike. Last year, over 3,000 events were organised welcoming 51,500 participants and, this year, the collective is hoping for 4,000 events. Organised events and more information can be found on

Transport Troubles



Enjoy forty free events across Haute-Vienne during ‘La Culture au Grand Jour’ from 25 March-9 April including concerts, storytelling, exhibitions and dance. Find the full programme at:

Take part in the 19th European Night at the Museum on Saturday

13 May. Many museums open their doors free of charge in the evening for guided tours, workshops and fun events. Check local websites for details.

Les Gendarmes et Les Voleurs de Temps features 9 races this year from a 52km trail to an 11km hike on 27-28 May at Ambazac (87).

Limoges is in danger of becoming isolated say councillors after the longawaited Poitiers-Limoges motorway project, expected to be completed by 2037 at a cost of 850-900 million euros, was cancelled. Even a dual carriageway looks a distant hope with budgets being stretched to cover increasing costs elsewhere. Elsewhere, a recent survey confirmed what 2 million passengers already know, that the Paris-Orléans-Limoges-Toulouse (POLT) rail route is one of the worst in France with uncomfortable, outdated trains which are often delayed or cancelled. Clément Beaune, the Transport Minister, recognises the issues: “It’s a line which I know has become synonymous with hassle and difficulty for hundreds of thousands of passengers each year.” Given the environmental benefits of trains over cars and planes, there is an urgent need for improvements along the 700km line which passes through 14 départements. The state and SNCF have announced significant investment in the line with a €2 billion euro programme to be completed by 2026 but, with the journey from Paris to Limoges taking 30 minutes more than in the 1970s, will this be enough?

Poitiers goes Dark

From 1 June, illuminated street advertisements across the country will be switched off between 1-6am under a law passed last October to conserve energy. Poitiers council decided to put this in place earlier and extend the dark hours, so from 1 March, all illuminated signs have been turned off between 11pm-7am, making it one of the first cities in France to meet the new requirement. To facilitate this, all illuminated street furniture needed to be fitted with devices to control the lights. Lighting in the city’s 140 bus shelters will be left on while the bus service is operating for the security of customers.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE POITIERS LIMOGES VIENNE (86) HAUTE-VIENNE (87) Montmorillon Bellac Le Dorat St-Mathieu Nieul St-Yriex-la-Perche Ambazac Charroux Civray Chatellerault Loudon Chauvigny Rochechouart


Futuroscope had a record season last year attracting nearly 2 million visitors, in part due to the new ‘Chasseurs de Tornades’ or Tornado Chasers ride. The ride was voted the best attraction in the world by a jury of professionals, and the park hopes to repeat the success with this year’s launch. The latest 4D attraction is ‘Étincelle, the Curse of the Black Opal’, which follows the footsteps of a French superheroine. Visitors will be enthralled by the immersive, fast-paced adventure featuring 3D film, sensory effects and lasers. Also new is the ‘Upside Down House’ which will give you a new perspective as well as some surprising photo opportunities, perfect for sharing! The park is also opening its themed village of 120 family ecolodges, set in natural parkland, which marks an important step for the development of the tourist attraction.

New Format

After visitor numbers plummeted by over 20%, Limoges Expo is being relaunched as an event, something more than just a fair. Taking place between 24-29 May, the expo will feature exhibitions, concerts, a food hall and outdoor events. The Japanese exhibition featuring manga and geek culture offers free entry to those that come in costume. Outside, the skate park will host pro and amateur contests, while nearby ancient tractors will be on display. Back inside, there is a tattoo exhibition alongside hair, makeup and fashion shows, an area for seniors, a food hall and more. Plus, there are concerts each evening. For full details see

Bellac Hockey Club

The popularity of hockey is growing in France and, with the Olympic Games just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to get involved with a local team. The Hockey Club in Bellac (87) is appealing for new members to join both their field hockey squad and their recently introduced walking hockey team. The doors are open every Saturday morning between 9.30-11.30am at the Gymnasium de Jolie Bois playing fields. Everyone over the age of 7 is welcome to pop along and try the game - there are hockey sticks to borrow and both novices and experienced players are welcome. The club has French and British members and is a fun place to practice your language skills too! For more information, call François Charoche on 06 12 53 41 39 (French) or Chris Cull on 06 02 07 36 60 (English).

La Sèvre Niortaise at Niort (79)

Riverside Rambles

Roger Moss casts an inquisitive eye over some of our most entertaining travelling companions.

Not so very long ago France possessed almost 6,500km of navigable rivers (not to mention countless streams and riviérettes) which between them provided the primary means of transport over long distances. In fact, such was their importance that of the original 83 départements created in 1790, no fewer than 61 were named after their main rivers.

Things changed dramatically, however, with the arrival of railways and mechanised road transport. One by one, formerly bustling quaysides fell silent and numerous small ports were abandoned, but we might still stumble upon intriguing evidence of long

departed water-borne activity, often where we least expect it. Uncovering the stories behind such mysteries is just one of the many rewards for getting better acquainted with our rivers, so we’ll look at some of the many points at which we can start exploring.

In Vendée, for example, the river after which the département was named flows from L’Absie, in the heart the Gâtine Vendéenne, meanders past Mervent and traverses Fontenay-leComte to join the La Sèvre Niortaise above Marans (17), almost 83km later.

The Vendée’s less well-known Lay river actually unites le Grand Lay, which rises in Saint-Pierre-du-Chemin, and le Petit Lay, which springs into life

in Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure. Two become one in a beautiful, tranquil setting a few km south of Chantonnay, at the pleasingly named l’Assemblée des Deux. The river continues its wayward progress, passing the former trading ports of Angles, Saint-Benoist and Curzon and clocking up just over 120km by the time it reaches the Bay of Biscay beyond La-Faute-sur-Mer at L’Aiguillon-la-Presqu’île. Draining the local marshes during the 17th century caused the ports to silt up, but today the coastal area is rich in wildlife and managed by the Syndicat Mixte Bassin du Lay (SMBL).

The neighbouring département takes its name from two rivers: la Sèvre

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Nantaise and la Sèvre Niortaise. The source of the former takes some finding in the heart the Gâtine Vendéenne, a few km west of Secondigny, but the river meanders its way peacefully for 142km from Deux-Sèvres through the départements of Vendée, Maine-et-Loire and finally LoireAtlantique, where it joins the mighty Loire. Once barges carried wines, cereals, timber and construction materials, but now only leisure craft navigate the final 21km from Monnières.

La Sèvre Niortaise, on the other hand, flows from near Sepvret, northeast of Melle, via Saint-Maixent-l’École to Niort, where it becomes navigable en-route to the Atlantic near Esnandes: a total of 158km. The river’s final section takes in Coulon, Arçais and Damvix, in the Marais Poitevin. Among the Deux-Sèvres département’s less prominent rivers is la Boutonne, which by the time it flows into la Charente just upstream from Tonnay-Charente has covered almost 100km from its source in the heart of Chef-Boutonne. The remarkable biodiversity of the largely picturesque, meandering river and its tributaries prompted environmental protection for large areas of the Boutonne basin. Among the more notable riverside towns are Brioux, Dampierre and Saint-Jean-d’Angély, whose Quai de Bernouët once dispatched a host of goods, including gunpowder produced locally for the naval arsenal at Rochefort.

At the other end of the scale, la Charente covers an epic 381km from its source in Chéronnac (87) to the Atlantic off Port-des-Barques (17). Henri IV considered the river the most beautiful in his kingdom, and if you follow just about any section today, whether on the water or beside it, you might well agree. Part of the charm is due to the river’s gentle currents, with only a modest drop in altitude along the way. The river becomes fully navigable at Angoulême and flows past a succession of historic towns, including Jarnac, Cognac, Saintes and Rochefort. 18 | LIVING RIVERS
La Vienne at Chabanais (16) Over the rooftops at Saint Savinien (17) Riverside gardening at Dampierre-sur-Boutonne (79)

If you prefer something more modest, just a few km down the coast we find la Seudre. Said to be France’s smallest river, it begins as a trickle near Saint-Genis-de-Saintonge and ends as a broad estuary beside La Tremblade. For around 68km (slightly less during dry periods) it threads its way among 8,600 hectares of salt marshes, home to basins, dikes, channels and oyster-farming villages. Ribérou and L’Éguille are colourful fishing and pleasure ports, and at Marennes the river is connected to la Charente by the 27km-long canal de la Bridoire, opened in 1862. Today sections are enjoyed by paddleboarders and kayakers, and the banks are popular with walkers and cyclists.

Below La Tremblade lies Royan, which overlooks the mouth of la Gironde. Europe’s largest estuary is actually the progeny of two major rivers – la Dordogne and la Garonne – which unite north of Bordeaux. The eastern banks are home to a succession of small ports, and between them a string of spidery carrelets, all the way to the citadel town of Blaye, from which you can take a car ferry across to the Port de Lamarque. You’ll find the less-travelled Médoc shore is also well worth discovering, and the sister ferry service from Royan to Le Verdon-sur-Mer opens up the possibility of spending an entertaining weekend touring both banks. Just below Le Verdon lie the modern marina of Port Médoc, the sandy Plage de la Chambrette and the commercial port of BordeauxVerdon. Continue south past the tiny preserved fishing port of Talais and you’ll reach other small ports plus the historic Phare de Richard with a small museum and panoramic views from the lighthouse summit.

Heading back inland, another of our great rivers is, of course, la Vienne, which rises at the foot of Mont Audouze on the rugged Plateau de Millevaches (19). Some 372km later it flows into la Loire at Candes-Saint-Martin (37), having meandered through such notable spots as Eymoutiers, SaintLéonard-de-Noblat, Limoges, Saint-Junien, Confolens,

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Bourg-sur-Gironde (33) Tonnay-Charente’s historic pont-suspondu (17)

Further waterside inspiration...

Among the many rivers which we haven’t room to include, here are some which are particularly rewarding to discover, with their overall lengths and départements which take them through Nouvelle-Aquitaine:

Le Bandiat – 91.4km (87, 24, 16)

Le Cher – 365.1km (23)

L’Anglin – 91.3km (23, 86)

La Clouère – 76.3km (16, 86)

La Corrèze - 94.6km (19)

La Creuse – 263km (23, 86)

La Dronne – 200.6km (87, 24, 16, 17, 33)

La Gartempe – 204.6km (23, 87, 86)

La Tardoire – 114km (87, 16)

Le Thouet – 146.2km (79)

La Vézère – 211km (19, 24)

Chauvigny, Châtellerault and Chinon. Lesser-known surprises, though, include tranquil spots on the river’s upper stretches like le Pont de Servières, where walkers can access a section of gallo-Roman road and the wood-fringed Lac de Servières.

Everyone, it seems, knows la Dordogne, but perhaps not its source – unless you’ve skied past it in the Massif du Sancy. From Le Mont-Dore a riverbank footpath follows the combined waters of the Dore and Dogne streams for 9km to La Bourboule. Now the river meanders discreetely through unspoilt, largely wooded terrain until it finally broadens between Confolent-Port-Dieu and Bort-les-Orgues (19), and the unspoilt scenic delights of deepest France continue all the way to Souillac (46). From here, until the river reaches the Garonne beside Bourg (33), you’re in altogether more familiar territory.

Much the same can be said of la Loire, an attractive stretch of which lies between Angers and Champtoceaux (49). Readily accessible from Loudun and Châtellerault (86), it’s far removed from the windswept flanks of Mont Gerbier de Jonc (08), where France’s longest river begins its epic 483km journey to the Atlantic. Like the Dordogne, the river flows through a succession of elegant châteaux and celebrated vineyards, which have made it world-famous.

By now we’ve covered a lot of ground, but following just about any of our rivers is hugely rewarding, often revealing previously unsuspected corners of rural France we’d otherwise never get to see – even close to home. 20 | LIVING RIVERS
Exideuil-su- Vienne (16) La Dordogne at Limeuil (24)
“Of the original 83 départements created in 1790, no fewer than 61 were named after their main rivers.”

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Despite decades of information campaigns and ever-increasing media coverage of the climate crisis it’s still possible to overhear, with alarming frequency, people who declare that: “it doesn’t matter which bin you use, because it all ends up in the same place anyway”. Jessica Knipe goes on a deep dive through our rubbish to find out what recycling really means on a daily basis.

Greta Thunberg made an unusual media splash when her comments on Twitter about pizza box recycling ended up being credited with helping to locate a suspected felon. But here in NouvelleAquitaine, there are teams who have been encouraging people to put things in the right bins for decades.

In Charente-Maritime, for example, a public service syndicate called Cyclad has been working to reduce, collect, recycle and treat waste from nearly a quarter of a million residents of over 200 towns and villages for the last 30 years. For Gaëlle Merle, who has been in charge of its communication for 20 of those years, the daily challenge is to make people aware of how their actions have a direct impact on the country’s ecology, not to mention its economy. “In France, we operate on a ‘sorted at the source’ system,” explains Gaëlle. “This means that from the moment you choose to put something in the ‘black bin’, then it hasn’t been sorted, and it won’t be recycled. If you put a piece of cardboard in that bin, then it will get burnt or buried like the rest. It won’t get sorted later on.”

The ‘yellow bins’, for rubbish that can be recycled, have existed in the area for over 20 years too, and whereas

the sorting system at home used to be confusing, it has recently been streamlined and simplified to make it easy for absolutely anyone to apply. “The rules are now very simple,” says Gaëlle. “Anything that’s packaging goes in to be recycled.” Empty oil bottles? Yellow bin. Yoghurt pots and their lids? Yellow bin. But do they have to be rinsed? “No! Using water to send packaging to get recycled would defeat the purpose in terms of the carbon footprint!” says Gaëlle. Obviously, you shouldn’t put a half full carton of soup in there, but no need to have spotless packets, either.

The unsorted waste is incinerated, until the treatment centres’ capacity is met after which deliveries go off to a landfill. Without even going into the damage this creates to the environment, it also represents a huge financial cost to the region. And even if burning waste could potentially become a source of energy through heating networks, landfill sites only have downsides.

“It’s a very complex subject,” explains Nouvelle-Aquitaine’s regional advisor in charge of waste, Jérôme Guillem. “We can plan and manage as much as we want, but our main goal is to avoid having waste in the first place. We

must first reduce waste, then recycle as much as possible, and finally, find the least worst solution for what we call ‘ultimate waste’.”

In an effort to reduce plastic waste, the region recently announced its policy aiming for zero plastics by 2030. “The effort is towards zero plastic pollution, not zero plastic,” qualifies Jérôme. “We have to be honest, and realistic: there are plenty of sectors, like hospitals, which simply can’t reduce

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Plastic granulate produced at recycling plants

their plastic consumption to zero. We can make the most of some very innovative techniques to repurpose it, though! Plastic waste can become a polar fleece, a train carpet or even a car hood. We just don’t want to burn or bury it.”

Thankfully, the vast majority of the waste handled by Cyclad (59%) comes from the ‘déchetteries’, or local tips, but anything else is managed by recycling units, which sort again through the waste already theoretically sorted at home. These plants are open to visits


Transforming green waste into compost is a 4-month process:

1 Reception & control: undesirables such as plastics and stones are removed.

2 Shredding: the green waste is mixed with kitchen waste from homes and businesses before it is shredded.

3 Fermentation: the waste is watered and piled in a fermentation cell where it is aerated using a fan. As microorganisms degrade the material, the temperature rises to 70°C ensuring it is sanitised. This lasts for one month. The waste is then watered and stirred regularly for three months.

from the general public. “Everyone should go at least once, and I insist that these visits stay open to the general public,” explains Gaëlle. “It helps to understand where it all goes. It also turns the notion of ‘it all goes to the same place anyway’ on its head.” Jérôme agrees: “In one single place that receives our waste, things are treated very differently. Everyone should visit to see it for themselves. And to witness first-hand the absurdity of our society.” Should the sorting process work properly, we should have mainly

4 Screening: the compost is sieved into grains of different sizes. 0-15mm is used for vegetable gardens and small areas. 15-20mm is used in larger plant beds and parks. 20-40mm is used in agriculture.

Many waste collectors offer residents free or subsidised compost. See their website or ask at your local déchetterie for information.

yellow-bin waste coming out of our homes, reducing our ultimate waste to about 30 litres a week for an average family. “The problem isn’t where it goes with the lorry,” says Gaëlle. “It’s how it’s sorted at home.” For example, glass has been sorted separately in France for 48 years, yet the recycling centres still find up to 10% of glass in the black bins, every single week. At the déchetteries, there are up to 30 different channels to sort specific waste. Paper and cardboard get mulched and repurposed, metal gets melted and recycled, and textile gets new life through networks such as Refashion, who can transform used clothes and linen into bobbins of industrial thread, furniture stuffing, and even paper. That’s right – clothes don’t get redistributed to people in need. “People give themselves a good conscience by throwing clothes into the recycling bins,” explains Gaëlle, “but the truth is that redistribution centres like Emmaus or the Secours Catholique are overflowing with clothes already. The genuinely responsible attitude would simply be to stop buying so many clothes in the first place.”

Some déchetteries have gone one step further in their effort towards a circular economy by installing huge swapping areas for furniture and objects to find a new home. People can pick up anything that they think they can use for free, and deposit anything they are not using anymore for others. Some sites have also set up ‘fablabs’ 24 | LIVING RECYCLING

where concepts can be tested to reuse waste on a larger scale. Boulangeries that want to dispose of their used yeast can now share it with breweries who use it in their beer. Supermarkets who have excess fruit and vegetable waste can see that it becomes jam instead of landfill.

“We are seeing an acceleration in research and development,” says Jérôme. “A lot of financial investment goes into finding innovative solutions. We are constantly surprised.” In Langon (33), for example, the town for which Jérôme Guillem is also the mayor, a business incubator resulted in an idea to recycle… human urine! Toopi Organics has now received funding in the millions to develop the model on a wider scale, installing urinals in schools and public spaces, even tourist attractions like Futuroscope, and recycling human waste to become a powerful fertiliser.

Not to mention saving huge amount of flush water. “Human beings are very ingenious!” admires Jérôme. Not only does it make no ecological sense to burn and bury materials that can find a new use, but it’s financially irresponsible too, with new taxes regularly being introduced. The recent TGAP (Taxe Générale sur les Activités Polluantes) makes it ten times more expensive to treat ultimate waste at the final stage, and taxes like the loi AGEC (Anti Gaspillage pour une Economie Circulaire) are doing everything in their power to reduce waste and encourage recycling.

So, is punishment the answer? In the Aunis-Saintonge (17) territory, bin collections have been reduced to every two weeks and the impact of ultimately forcing people to be responsible with their waste reduction and recycling has

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To discover how your waste is handled and visit a recycling site, check the website of your waste collector (details can be found on your bill) to book a tour that usually lasts 1-1.5 hours. Groups are welcome.

been immediately obvious. Some towns have even gone one step further, with places likes Saintes (17) and Marennes (17) imposing a collection fee: pay as


up for your FREE 30-day trial on our website:

you throw. Waste is weighed at collection, or simply counted by number of bags, and then a fee is applied accordingly. Similar schemes are in the pipeline for the Vienne département and elsewhere.

The road isn’t straightforward, though. The SMD3 (Syndicat Mixte

Départemental des Déchets de la Dordogne) has been in the eye of a wild media storm as it implements its payment system, redevance incitative, or incentive tax. People have been up in arms pointing out that elderly and disabled residents may have additional waste yet no way to take it to the collection bins. Opposition campaigns have been created, national news reports have been made. And yet, ultimately, waste has reduced. “It’s capitalistic,” sighs Gaëlle, “but if you reduce your availability for treatment, the waste you do treat is much more expensive.”

In 2024, the brown bin, reserved

for organic waste, will also become obligatory. “Take away organic waste, properly sorted packaging… we could even reduce the black bin collections to once a month!” enthuses Gaëlle. “But maybe that revolution will take a while…”

In the meantime, consciousness is being awakened, and the tendency is towards improvement, even without inventing new methods. The next step will mean a deeper behavioural change. “We need to buy less,” explains Gaëlle. “Take containers to the market, bring your own bag (don’t buy a new reusable bag every time you go out!), and just generally reduce what you consume. If you reduce what you buy, you obviously throw less away, but also you reduce the hidden waste at the source: the water, the electricity, the materials used to make what you have bought.”

It’s a gigantic task. But if the situation is ever to improve, it’ll be thanks to a collective effort. It might sound like a cliché, but every individual does play a part in the process. And that starts with sorting waste out at the source!

“If you reduce what you buy, you obviously throw less away”

EXPLORE North Charente

Meet up with family and friends... Discover new surroundings... Relax... Meander... Savour...

Take time out to enjoy unique experiences in beautiful countrysideall in Nord Charente.

Nature Preserved

In Nord Charente, we cherish our environment as we are home to ten outstanding gardens. Listen to water burbling along the canal in the Jardins de l’Argentor at the heart of Nanteuil-enVallée, or discover secrets about water and wetlands at the Jardins Éphémères de l’Isle Nature in St-Fraigne. Perhaps you prefer to lose yourself in the narrow streets of our charming villages? Our ‘Nature & Patrimoine’ walks guide you as you discover how nature blends with our Charente architecture and the warm

colour of our stone. Explore St-Groux, La Faye... in fact, there are a dozen other short walks available free of charge, just follow the snail! Here nature is multifaceted; discover the valley of the Charente, run through the vineyards, look out over the plains. And if your two legs become tired, why not explore on horseback? Alongside a donkey? By horsedrawn carriage? By bike? By canoe? In a 2CV? By paraglider? The choice is yours...

Pauses Gourmandes

Chez Riffaud in the centre of Mansle is not only a deli but an organic, zero waste, local shop too. Their wine and beer cellar is a treat. Linger over lunch (set menu), nip in for tea and cookies, or chat over a beer accompanying their cheese & charcuterie board. Enjoy a concert, taste local wine, buy gifts... Make sure you visit!

Facebook: chezriffaud

Coffee Cave at Villefagnan: A delightfully cosy café with sweet and savoury surprises: generous, delicous cakes or fruity, creamy milkshakes; refreshing ice cream cups! Simply relax and enjoy les gourmandises. Facebook: CoffeeCave16240.


Ready To Roll

With eye-watering fuel prices at the pumps set to be with us for a while, there’s never been a better time to become reacquainted with our bikes, so we’ll see how we can prepare them for carefree family rides.

Routine bike jobs really aren’t too technical, as most non-electric bikes are designed to be easy to repair and maintain. Begin by carefully removing dried-on mud, etc. with clean water (if you’re tempted to use a pressure washer, keep the jet away from bearings). Once that’s done, dry the bike with some paper towel or clean rags and take a good look at everything, ideally indoors in the warm, where you can take your time; a dust sheet or bâche will protect the floor. Make a list of any areas of the bike in need of attention: things like frayed cables, worn brake blocks/pads

and, of course, worn or flat tyres will be obvious enough.

Next it’s the turn of the unseen inner workings, which should all be moving smoothly and freely. Lift the front of the bike and give the wheel a spin then move it from side to side, to check for any play or roughness in the bearings. Now do the same checks on the pedal crank (or ‘bottom bracket’) bearings by turning them by hand as if backpedalling, which should also reveal any problems with the chain and gear cluster. Add any problems you find to your list of items needing attention.

If you’ve ridden your bike regularly and stored it somewhere dry over the 28 | LIVING CYCLING

winter then the list should be a short one, with little to do to prepare for summer rides. It’s inevitable, however, that in time some parts will wear or need adjustments, so we’ll look at simpler jobs you can do yourself with tools you probably already have to hand, plus less routine work you might also like to tackle, whether as a money-saving measure or for the simple pleasure of caring for your bike yourself and knowing how everything works. Either way, aim to keep things clean, to avoid introducing damaging grit – and if you’re dealing with anything fiddly take some photos with your phone camera as you go, so you’ll know exactly how it all fits together again.


Cheap tyres will wear sooner and be more prone to punctures, but whatever your bike has, keep an eye on them and remove any sharp stone fragments you find in the treads. Another risk factor is riding on tyres which are underinflated, as hitting a stone or pothole can cause a ‘pinch puncture’ when the inner tube is pierced by the sharp edge of the wheel rim. Old-style latex tubes are particularly vulnerable and require more frequent pumping up to maintain pressure, so most bikes use butyl tubes. Now and then punctures will happen, though, so knowing how to repair or replace them will give peace of mind when you’re out riding –see How It’s Done.


Modern high-performance road and all-terrain bikes often use disc brakes, whose pads need regular checking (much easier on a bike than those on your car). If they show signs of major wear then fit new ones before they damage the discs. Replacement techniques vary according to the design. It’s more likely, though, that your bike will have ‘caliper’ or ‘Vee’ brakes whose replaceable pads squeeze the wheel rims, which must be clean for smooth, efficient braking. The pads are mounted through slots on the arms by either a threaded or plain post – they’re not interchangeable, so note which type your bike has. Threaded versions are secured by a single nut, either with a spanner or an Allen key – see the tools factfile. Slots on the arms permit up/down adjustments to align the pads with the wheel rim, and you can also swivel them, so clamp them securely to avoid them touching the tyres. Classic brake designs sit on a central bolt, which won’t need touching unless the pads aren’t releasing evenly. If that’s happening check that the securing nut is tight and has a locking washer to prevent the mounting bolt from loosening. If the washer is missing, replace it, centre the brake and tighten the nut. Many modern bikes use ‘Vee-brakes’, whose arms incorporate small adjustment screws to centre them – see How It’s Done (at the end). Finally, keep brakes clean and very lightly oiled if necessary, avoiding oil reaching the pads.


Chains are sturdy, but prone to picking up damaging grit and road dirt. Keep yours clean and well lubricated and you’ll avoid premature wear and the expense of replacement. To find out how to check yours for wear and if necessary fit a new one see How It’s Done. 30 | LIVING CYCLING


Plastic pedals with sealed bearings are nonserviceable but cheap to replace if they develop excessive play.

Older cup-and-cone bearing pedals need occasional oiling to keep them spinning freely. Right-hand pedals have right-hand threads, and left-hand ones are left-hand threaded.


The basics – and a few more, should you need them

ALLEN KEYS – a small set is cheaper than buying individual keys.

CABLE CUTTERS – a hacksaw cut is never clean.

CHAIN LINK EXTRACTOR – if your chain doesn’t have a clip-style joiner link.

CONE SPANNER – for cup-and-cone bearing servicing, see How It’s Done.

PUNCTURE REPAIR KIT with tyre levers (+ spare rubber solution).

SPANNERS & SCREWDRIVERS - flat and cross-head.

A BIKE STAND is a worth having if you plan to do regular bike maintenance, but if you want to turn the bike upside down for wheel and gear adjustments, ensure that the brake cables remain clear of the floor, to avoid damaging them.

LIVING CYCLING | 31 Do you Living Magazine? Subscribe today


In time brake and gear cables stretch, causing things to go out of adjustment, and their ends can fray where they’re clamped. Minor adjustments are possible at the lever ends, but are a temporary fix; to compensate for stretch back off adjusters, loosen the end clamp, pull back slack cable and re-clamp securely. You might need to enlist a third hand to compress brake arms against their springs while doing this. If a cable is stiff or kinked then unclamp and withdraw it from the outer casing, wiping clean as you go. Coil it and take it with you to ensure you buy the correct replacement (double-ended ‘universal’ brake cables assume you’ll cut off the end fitting not suitable for your levers). For smooth operation lubricate the cable as it enters the outer casing and once mounted cut to length and finish with the supplied end cap to prevent fraying. Secure it by crimping it with pliers.


Many modern bikes have sealed bearings, which are largely maintenance-free and non-adjustable (most have replaceable cartridges). That said, there are still countless bikes with traditional ‘cup and cone’ wheel bearings, which are adjustable but require occasional re-greasing to avoid damage by road dirt and old, hardened grease. It’s perfectly doable - see How It’s Done.


There are some helpful YouTube videos which show how to make some of these adjustments. Here are our recommendations:

Replacing an inner tube:

Repairing a punctured inner tube:

Replacing disc brake pads:

Vee-brakes and how to adjust them:

Adjust and service wheel bearings:

How to check and replace a chain:


If you can’t select the full range of gears (and the cable isn’t stretched) take heart; the ever-popular dérailleur gear mechanisms (or ‘mechs’) can be adjusted in just a few minutes. You can do this yourself to both front and rear units –see How It’s Done. 32 | LIVING CYCLING

€118,800 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Ref Cas32: Situated in a quiet corner of St Pierre de Juillers, in need of total renovation but with a certain charm! Existing habitable area of 155m2 with attached outbuilding of 156m2.

La Grange Montante is a well-appointed gîte, situated within the beautiful PérigordLimousin Regional Park in north Dordogne. Sleeping up to 4 guests, the delightful converted barn has sole use of the pool and ample space to relax and unwind. Visit châteaux, browse markets, indulge in local fare or simply explore the countryside, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Only 15 minutes from Nontron, the property is easily accessible by car. If you visit from further afield, there are frequent flights to nearby Limoges airport from Gatwick and Stansted or let the train take the strain from Paris.

For more details, including how to book, go to

€627,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Ref Lo26: 7-bed family home with 2nd house to renovate (permission granted) and 1000m2 outbuildings in excellent condition plus 2ha enclosed land.

€367, 500 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Ref Loman: Spacious and light filled 6-bed house in the centre of St Jean D’Angély. Gas central heating, integral garage. Shops and services in short walking distance.

€487,600 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Ref Lotel: A rare find in the centre of St Jean D’Angely, this charming old property of 325m2 is in need of updating. Also included is a separate office building and a rented apartment.

perfect holiday...
Imagine your
Idimmo, Prestige & Châteaux 42 Rue Grosse Horloge, 17400 St Jean D’Angély. Tel: +33 (0)5 46 33 19 13
Energy class:
Energy class: C Energy class: F Energy class: D PROPERTIES NEEDED URGENTLY - BUYERS WAITING!

Signs of Spring

When I moved to Vienne, one of the first things I noticed was the abundance and variety of wildflowers growing in the hedgerows and verges. There were some species that I recognised from my life in England but many that I did not and it prompted me to take a closer look at the vibrant plant life that thrived around my new home. I often think of April and May as being like the start of a party. During these two months, the nesting season is getting underway and everything is bursting into life. There is that anticipatory, start-of-the-evening feeling when everyone is dressed to the nines, the band has just started playing and the aperitifs are being served. Among the first guests to arrive are the wildflowers which begin to bloom around this time and there’s an instinctive joy to seeing these plants flowering in the sunshine, embodying a kind of optimism for the months ahead. In France, many of the local names of these plants signify the change in season, with several referencing a sound that is synonymous with spring – the call of the cuckoo.

Lungworts (Pulmonara officinalis), cowslips (Primula veris) and Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis) all have local names based around coucou, as their flowers coincide with the arrival of this unique bird and its unmistakable call.

There are two wildflowers in particular that I always look out for in April and May. Snakeshead fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) are increasingly rare but beautiful little plants, getting their English name from the pattern on their petals (in French they’re known as ‘la fritillaire pintade’, or guinea-fowl fritillary, which makes them seem slightly less menacing). Whilst they once grew in abundance in meadows and floodplains, loss of habitat has now made them a protected wild species. Vienne is one of the last strongholds of these delicate flowers, which always appear to be nodding their heads in agreement, and seeing their purple-chequered petals dancing in the breeze is enough to put a lightness of step into the heaviest of feet.

Another iconic wildflower

synonymous with this time of year in France is Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis). This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing of a wildflower – it has an incredibly fragrant, crisp scent and looks diminutive and gentle but it’s actually highly toxic if ingested. If Lily of the Valley was a guest at the party, she’d make you fall in love with her and then mercilessly leave with the lead singer of the band at the end of the evening. In France, the Fête du Muguet is celebrated on May Day and bunches of these tiny white, bell-like flowers are traditionally given to close family and friends. This custom dates back to the court of Charles IX which, in the 16th century, started to offer wreaths made of muguet to their wives and brides and the practice soon spread across the country, continuing to this day. It seems

Cowslips are one of the best known spring flowers

a great irony that wildflowers are often regarded as nuisance weeds when they play an important role in providing a rich habitat for a wide diversity of animal life. They’re vital for insects such as bees, moths and butterflies, they act as a nursery for caterpillars and provide cover and

vegetation for small animals such as mice and voles. In turn, they help support larger animals such as birds, badgers, martens, boar and foxes who depend on these smaller animals for nourishment, especially in spring when they’re feeding their young. I’m always amazed when I pause to look

at a bank of wildflowers and think of all the unseen life they support that’s happening around me and right under my nose. The chain of events that takes place with these often-tiny flowers at the very beginning feels almost breathtaking when you stop to think about it.

Settle down and enjoy the challenge of our unique clues set by Mike Morris. If you need help, take a peek at page 45.


1. To have some money, initially ready and liquid, is essential. (7)

5. How to stop a break-up? (5)

8. Block of metal forming other kind of crucible. (5)

9. Hiding financial coup from secretary? (7)

10. In gear, starting engine, could be a way to fly? 4)

11. Rig steer up to be put on the list. (8)

14. Small hill in the middle of factories setting. (3)

16. Sing sweetly about front half of ferry working. (5)

17. Half buried, upside down; a drawback for Danish prince? (3)

19. Grey stuff given to newspaperman was important. (8)

20. Rules broken, drug taken; that’s a stain on character. (4)

23. First person missing from singing group before let up for a

laugh. (7)

25. Butterfly taking a short break in passage? (5)

26. Motion of agreement about directions moved forward. (5)

27. Set on a right beginning to reform offence against the state. (7)


1. Break, rick etc. results of a testing game? (7)

2. Nearly time for it to get dark. (5)

3. Starting reading of this experiment is one way to learn? (4)

4. Cut off one way to run? (3)

5. Sparkling wine among French goods found in strongholds? (8)

6. Flier article on Roman road leading to 14A? (7)

7. AI transfusion makes you keen to get away from mountain? (5)

12. Escape to get together some energy before run? (5)

13. Crazy dance etc. results in being stressed. (8)

15. Informer getting charged articles for allowances? (7)

18. A good deal of profit coming from pub? (6)

19. Evidently suitably dressed for pouring white wine? (5)

21. Tightly grips missing

leading lights. (5)

22. Cane thrown leading to complaint? (4)

24. Amphibian crack giving off gas? (3)

LIVING NATURE WATCH | 35 Do you Living Magazine? Subscribe today
26 27 1 8 10 14 15 19 23 12 2 15 13 3 11 13 16 11 16 20 24 4 9 12 24 14 17 5 22 25 8 10 20 21 6 17 21 22 7 18
Rosie Neave is a nature coach who lives in Vienne. She hosts craft workshops and events for women with the aim of supporting their wellbeing through interaction with nature. For more information please go to her website at
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It’s a treat to find delicate Snakeshead fritillaries


Getting Ready for Summer!

QHow do I best prepare my pool for the season ahead?

ASpring is here, which means it’s time to open up your pool for the season! But before jumping in, there are some essential steps you need to follow for a clear and healthy pool:

Step 1: Check for any wear and tear on your pool equipment, such as loose wires or cracks. If you see any deterioration, have it repaired by a professional. For sand filters, add sand if needed, and for cartridge or bag filters, check and clean or replace them as needed.

Step 2: Make sure you have all the necessary chemicals ready before opening your pool. We recommend the following products to start your season: a good test kit or new test strips, a preventative against calcium deposits, an alkalinity increaser (TAC plus), pH minus or pH plus depending on whether you have hard or soft water, a weekly treatment of chlorine or bromine, a shock treatment, an algaecide treatment, and a flocculant (for sand filters) or clarifier (for cartridge or bag filtrations).

Step 3: Remove any debris and dirt from your pool cover to

prevent it from going into your pool. For winter covers, ensure they are clean, dry, and stored away properly for use at the end of the summer season.

Step 4: Fill your pool up to the correct water line level, midway between the skimmer opening. Remove all winterising plugs and skimmer plaques. Renew at least a third of pool water at the start of each season.

Step 5: Clean your pool! Remove debris and leaves from the surface, the bottom, and in the skimmer basket. Brush the walls, bottom, water line, and around all plastic parts, including the spotlights, a favourite for algae.

Step 6: Adjust your filtration and treatment valves if closed during winter, prime your pool pump if necessary following your owner’s manual instructions, and turn your filter on. Inspect all components for leaks. Run the filtration for 12-24 hours before testing the water or adding any chemicals so that the water has fully circulated. Backwash sand filters.

Step 7: It’s time to test and adjust the chemical levels. It’s recommended to have your water tested professionally when opening your pool and once a month throughout the season. Pool professionals can test the water’s pH level, alkalinity, cal-

cium hardness, chlorine levels, and depending on their testing system, can also test the levels of salt, stabilizer, phosphates, and metals. If you are unable to take a water sample to your local pool specialist for testing, remember to use new testing strips and not expired ones. It’s important to add the pool products in the right sequence to avoid wasting time and money, and to leave sufficient time between adding each product to let each take effect.

For sand filters only: Disinfect your filter using a Filterclean product. Leave running for a minimum of 12 hours. In hard water areas decalcify the filter with Decalcit Filtre leaving the filter running overnight. For all filter systems: Adjust your total alkalinity to between 100–150 mg/l - this helps pre-

vent pH fluctuations. Next, adjust your pH between 7-7.4 (up to 7.6 for bromine treatment).

Now, you can carry out a chlorine or bromine shock if necessary. Remember that a correct pH helps your disinfectant treatment work more effectively, which is why it’s important to adjust your pH first. Run the filtration for a minimum of 24 hours to eliminate impurities in the water. Once the chlorine/ bromine returns to a correct level, treat as normal. Adjust your calcium level, ideally maintaining between 125-185 mg/l. Finally, algaecide and flocculant/clarifiers can be used.

Continue to run the filter for a few days, removing any debris that has settled. When the water is clear and the chlorine levels have come down, your pool is ready for swimming!

Michelle Probert can advise you on all aspects of pool installation and care at: Les Bassins de Fayolles, 86400 Savigné, or call on 05 49 87 07 78

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am-12.30pm & 2-6pm.


Options for Irish Pensions

QI worked in Dublin for 10 years before moving to France and have an old company pension scheme - what can I do with it? I also have some smaller UK personal pension plans. I have no intention of returning to Ireland and my UK adviser can no longer advise me.

AThere are a couple of options available to you and, depending on your circumstances, these planning opportunities may be worth exploring.

One of the first things an

international financial adviser should do is talk to you about where you are planning to retire, when you want to start taking an income from your pension(s) and whether you have other financial provision in place for retirement. It would make sense to appoint a regulated adviser in the country where you live. That way they can update you on any changes in tax rates and rules plus they will be locally based and on hand to provide ongoing service and support. There are many advantages of moving your Irish pension away from Ireland which, depending on individual

circumstances, could include the following:

1. Mitigate Irish inheritance tax.

2. Income tax efficiency.

3. Access pension funds from age 50.

4. Investment control and flexibility.

5. Consolidation of existing Irish, UK and other pension benefits.

6. Avoid the complexity and cost of establishing an Irish Approved Retirement Fund (ARF).

7. Enjoy the option to take retirement benefits directly from a Maltese scheme with flexible income

payment options.

8. Take an initial lump sum of up to 30% of the retirement fund, exempt from Maltese tax (French tax to consider, but payment made gross from Malta).

As with all financial decisions, there is not a one size fits all, so it is essential you take professional advice.

Amanda Johnson works as an Independent Financial Advisor with The Spectrum IFA Group.

T: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43;;

To register for their newsletter, attend a roadshow event or speak directly to Amanda, call or email her.

There is no charge for their financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations.

« The Spectrum IFA Group » is a registered trademark, exclusive rights to use in France granted to TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 « Société de Courtage d’assurances » R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 - « Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »

A r e y o u l i v i n g i n F r a n c e a n d s t i l l h o l d i n g a n

I r i s h p e r s o n a l o r c o m p a n y p e n s i o n ?

W h a t a r e y o u r o p t i o n s ?

L o o k i n g f o r a n s w e r s ?

A s k A m a n d a

W i t h C a r e Y o u P r o s p e r

TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. | Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris | R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) | « Société de Courtage d’assurances » Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 – « Conseiller en investissements financiers », référencé sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »

Tel: 06 73 27 25 43

amanda johnson@spectrum-ifa com


Books for Wine Lovers

Caro Feely shares her favourites... Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

In ‘Cork Dork’ Bianca Bosker tells of her quest to become a sommelier and her tasting experiences in a high-flying circle of New York sommeliers. You’ll learn about tasting and the underworld of restaurants and sommeliers. The full title: ‘Cork Dork: A WineFueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste’, gives a hint of the range of topics she covers. I loved this book.

Red, White, and Drunk All Over by Natalie MacLean

‘A wine-soaked journey from grape to glass’ is exactly what this books is about. Natalie visits France, USA, Australia and more. She explores everything from harvest to glassware in an entertaining and enjoyable way. She has a new memoir, ‘Wine Witch on Fire’ due out in May 2023 which I am looking forward to.

The Battle For Wine And Love by

A heady mix of anecdotes, interesting people, and why natural wine is great. Alice Fearing is an author, sometime New York Times Wine Writer and runs a natural wine newsletter called the Feiring Line. In this book you will visit diverse wine regions and learn about the world of wine from the perspective of Feiring’s passion: natural wine. Alice has written several books since, including a recent autobiography titled ‘To Fall in Love, Drink This’.

Wine and War

‘Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure’ charts events in some of the most prestigious French wine regions including Bordeaux and Champagne, during World War II, a horrific moment in Europe’s history. For Francophiles it provides insight into general French history at that time too. 38 | LIVING WINE

The Billionaire’s Vinegar

An investigative journalist delves into the world of auctions for fine wines and creates a page-turning exposé based on the true story of the biggest wine fraudster. This is a serious page turner that reads like a spy novel. You’ll learn about the world of fine wine and also pick up a little about the regions associated with those wines. This book’s story was turned into a documentary film called Sour Grapes.

Caro is too modest to mention her own trilogy about the creation of the Feely vineyard. ‘Grape Expectations’, ‘Saving our Skins’ and ‘Glass Half Full’, which will soon be followed by a fourth instalmentwatch this space!

A vineyard share or gift certificate for a course or tour at Château Feely make great gifts for wine lovers and can be purchased online at along with Feely organic, biodynamic and no sulfite added wines. Read the story of the creation of the Feely vineyard in Caro’s book series - the 4th in the series will be out in 2023. Sign up to the newsletter or follow Caro on Instagram to find out more.

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Asparagus season is here and the delicious white, green and purple spears are arriving in our markets. It’s the perfect time for some recettes aux asperges with a dessert featuring that other spring special, tender stems of rhubarb...

Nikki Legon's cuisine

Asparagus Soup

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 clove of garlic, crushed 1 bunch of large green asparagus, woody ends snapped off and tips reserved 3 shallots, finely chopped 1 litre of vegetable stock single cream - optional, to taste


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the asparagus stems and cook, stirring, for five minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1520 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the asparagus tips in boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes until just tender, then drain. Purée the soup until smooth. Return to the pan, stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Add the tips and serve with crusty bread.



1 bunch of green asparagus

800ml vegetable stock

40g unsalted butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

175g risotto rice

100ml white wine

25g parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated


Prepare the asparagus by removing the woody ends, cutting off the tips and slicing the stems thinly. Add the woody ends to the stock and simmer on a low heat.

Add the tips to the stock and cook for 1 minute, then remove them and set aside. Heat some oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Cook the shallots gently for 5 minutes until soft, add the chopped asparagus stalks and cook for 2 minutes more. Tip in the rice and continuously stir for a few minutes until it turns semitransparent.

Stir in the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition until it is absorbed - this should take around 15 minutes. Try the rice, it should feel just cooked. Leave to sit 2 minutes before adding the remaining butter, cheese and asparagus tips. Serve immediately.

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Asparagus & Strawberry Salad

1 packet of rocket or mixed salad leaves

3 tbsp cooked peas

small punnet of fresh strawberries, sliced

100g cottage or feta cheese

bunch of thin asparagus

a few mint leaves

olive oil

½ lemon

salt and pepper


Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes so they retain a little bite.

On a serving platter, drizzle olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Arrange the washed leaves on the platter and top with the asparagus, peas and sliced strawberries.

Crumble the cheese over the top of the salad and scatter the mint leaves around the dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Regional Speciality

As you peruse the fruit and vegetable stalls at your local market in spring, you cannot miss the tables of freshly picked asparagus spears. Low in calories, asparagus is a good source of fibre, as well as folate and vitamins A, C and K. Picking is by hand as the spears damage easily.

For centuries, asparagus has been grown in France with claims that Louis XIV cultivated them in his hothouses year round. It is now established as a regional speciality with two varieties being awarded IGP status (Indication géographique protégée). Blayais originates in north Gironde (white and purple) and Landes (white) thrives in the sandy soil of the ‘Landes de Gascogne’ area.


You can find all three colours of asparagus cultivated in our region:

White asparagus is grown completely underground, with mounds of soil being added to prevent the tips emerging until it is ready to harvest. This method preserves the vegetable’s mother-of-pearl complexion resulting in tender spears with a delicate taste.

Purple asparagus is picked just as the tip breaks through the soil but before the plant has been able to produce chlorophyll which changes the colour to green.

Green asparagus is grown in the open air and harvested when it measures about twenty centimeters. It has the strongest taste.


Asparagus Omelette

1 large bunch of green asparagus, sliced in half lengthways

6 large eggs, beaten

2 tbsp clarified butter

1 shallot, chopped finely

4 tbsp grated hard cheese

salt and pepper to taste


In a large frying pan, add half of the butter and chopped shallots and cook until soft. Add the asparagus and cook until softened. Remove and keep warm.

Beat the eggs and mix in the grated cheese, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

Melt the remainder of the butter into a non-stick frying pan, pour in half of the egg mixture and cook for a few minutes. Flip over and cook for a further minute. Place on a plate and keep warm while cooking the second omelette.

Lie the asparagus over one half of each omelette and fold the other side over. Serve on warmed plates.

Salmon with White Asparagus

1 large bunch of white asparagus

2 salmon fillets

a knob of butter


3 tbsp white wine vinegar

6 peppercorns

1 dried bay leaf

2 egg yolks

125g butter, melted lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste


Put the vinegar in a small pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf and reduce over a high heat until there is only 1 tbsp remaining. Strain to remove the peppercorns and the bay leaf and allow to cool.

Whisk together the two fresh egg yolks with the white wine vinegar in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over simmering water, and whisk until lukewarm. Add the melted butter to the egg mixture very slowly, beating continuously.

Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cook the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 6 minutes or until cooked Pan fry the salmon fillets in the knob of butter for 2 minutes on each side,

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seasoning with salt and pepper

Lay the asparagus on hot plates and place the salmon on top. Pour over the hollandaise sauce and serve.

Rolled Plaice with Asparagus

6 small plaice fillets

a knob of unsalted butter

1 small pack of cream cheese

1 bunch of green or white asparagus, trim off woody stems

packet of rocket salad leaves

4 cherry tomatoes, halved (brush with pesto if you have some open)

½ lemon

2 tsp olive oil

2 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted


Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, and cook the asparagus until tender.

Drain the water and place the cooked spears into a blender and blend for 30 seconds until just chopped up. Remove to a bowl. When cool, stir in the cream cheese and season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Lie the fish fillets out, add the asparagus mixture and roll up, keeping them together by pushing through a wooden toothpick. Arrange in a deep, buttered baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in a hot oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Put the tomatoes (brushed with a little pesto if you wish) into an ovenproof dish and cook for 15 minutes. Arrange the rocket leaves and roasted tomatoes around the fish fillets, remove the toothpicks and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Mix the lemon and olive oil together and pour over.

Asparagus Quiche

400g asparagus

45g cheddar or any hard cheese, grated

1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

3 eggs, beaten

300ml single cream

salt and pepper


30g butter

30g lard or saindoux or use all butter

130g plain flour

30g cheddar or any hard cheese, grated pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 160°C. Put the baking sheet in the oven to heat up (this helps the base to crisp).

First, make the pastry. Dice the cold butter and lard and rub together using your finger tips or place in a blender and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the grated cheese, a pinch of salt and a little cold water to make a smooth dough. Place the dough in a plastic bag to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Roll it out and line a 30cm greased tin,


carefully pressing the dough into the corners. Prick the base all over with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and brush the base with a little of the beaten egg reserved from the filling, and replace into the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Snap off the woody ends and steam the stalks for 5 minutes. Arrange in the base of the tart.

Beat the eggs together with the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the asparagus. Finally sprinkle over the parmesan and a little more cheddar cheese.

Place the tart on a hot baking tray, and cook at 180°C for 30 to 40 minutes until the centre feels firm and the filling is golden brown and puffy.


Creamy Rhubarb



200g plain flour

125g unsalted butter

75g caster sugar

2 egg yolks (freeze the whites) pinch of salt


300g peeled and chopped rhubarb

125g caster sugar with a little extra to sprinkle over the lids

1 tbsp cornflour mixed with a

little water

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp orange juice

tub of mascarpone

vanilla ice cream


Mix the rhubarb with the sugar and cornflour in a small saucepan. Add the vanilla extract and orange juice. Cook on a low heat to soften, then cool and drain.

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Using a fork, mix in the egg yolks and cold water until it forms a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

Line 6 x 10cm diameter, 2cm deep loose based fluted tart tins. Roll the dough out thinly, then cut out 6 circles to fill the tart tins. Use the remaining pastry to make lids. Gently slide each circle of pastry into the tart tins and press carefully to remove air bubbles. Prick the bottom of each shell with a fork. Chill for 20 minutes then blind bake 190°C for 20 minutes. Place the lids onto a baking sheet brush with milk and sprinkle on caster sugar. Bake until cooked and golden.

Beat the mascarpone with a tbsp of icing sugar. Cool the tarts before filling with mascarpone and rhubarb, place the lids and serve with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream.

Nikki Legon is the chef and owner of the Hotel Restaurant Karina in Les Métairies, just outside Jarnac in Charente, which has been transformed from an old cognac distillery into a luxury 10-bedroom hotel and restaurant. For more information:

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WHILE YOU MIGHT LOOK AT THE map and think twice about anywhere whose road connections to large towns involve significant drive times, the prospect of direct rail services from Le Bugue might just tip the balance. In any case, in a location like this there’s a good chance that for most of the time you’ll be more than happy to stay closer to home.

The town sits beside the final extravagant meander of the River Vézère before it meets the mighty Dordogne just 5km or so further south at Limeuil. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the site has been occupied since Palaeolithic times, graphic evidence of which survives among prehistoric cave engravings of animals at the Grotte de Bara-Bahu, on the town’s north western outskirts. By the 6th century Le Bugue – ‘Albuga’ – had become an administrative centre, and around 964 a Benedictine abbey was founded, the Église Saint-Marcel being a dependency of the Diocese of Périgueux. Thereafter the influential town prospered until 1154, when Périgord passed to English rule and Le Bugue found itself in an uncomfortable

buffer zone between opposing English and French forces. Centuries of destruction and rebuilding followed, in the midst of which in 1319 Philippe V de Poitiers issued a royal decree stating that a weekly market be held here in perpetuity. Sure enough, eight centuries later it remains a prominent and colourful feature of Tuesday and Saturday mornings in Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, where it overlooks the Quai des Berges de la Vézère.

Both river and quay are spanned by an elegant five-arched bridge in pale limestone, plus an ironwork passerelle added for pedestrians in 2008. Thanks to the crossing, the town’s largely 19th century heart remains remarkably intact, most subsequent major commercial development being sited on the opposite bank. Residential expansion, on the other hand, favoured areas north of the old town and around the Gare SNCF, within the river’s adjoining meander.

Not surprisingly, given Le Bugue’s location, eco-tourism is today a major contributor to the local economy. Just across the river the Gouffre de

We visit a riverside market town in deepest Dordogne with a host of historic sites nearby.

Proumeyssac’s vast caverns contain spectacular natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and the town has long been home to l’Aquarium Périgord Noir, Europe’s largest independent freshwater aquarium, which also has separate areas dedicated to iguanas, turtles, alligators and coypu. You can also explore the Vézère valley on cycle trails or by hiring a canoe.



Sarlat-la-Canéda: 16 km/18 min

Périgueux: 41 km/45 min

Bergerac: 44 km/51 min

Cahors: 86 km/1 hr 39 min

Angoulême: 127 km/2 hr 16min

Bordeaux: 141 km/2 hr 24 min

Rodez: 179 km/3 hr 12min

Toulouse: 203 km/3 hr 2 min


Le Bugue’s Gare SNCF is served by TER

Nouvelle-Aquitaine Ligne Régionale 34 services between Périgueux, Le Buisson & Agen for connections (including TGV) to Limoges, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Bergerac, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Biarritz, La Rochelle, Paris, etc.

BUGUE (24)
LE PROPERTY L i v in g

La Foncière Charentaise


Prix 180,200 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.)

Lovely stone property on the outskirts of Angouleme. 3 bedrms, 2 on ground floor. Fitted kitchen lounge and office.

Mature garden of 1025m², garage.

Ref: 6862 Energie: E Climat: E

Prix 231,000 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.)

Villa located on the heights of a village with small commodities: large veranda, living room, fitted kitchen, 3 bedrooms. Mature garden with swimming pool, beautiful views over the countryside.

Réf: 9695 Energie: C Climat: B

Prix 190,800 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.)

Renovated pavillon with a land size of 3900 m² 4 bedrooms, Fitted kitchen, Living room, lounge, workshop, veranda, garage.

Ref: 9713 Energie: D Climat: B

Prix 273,000 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.)

Village house with mature garden with direct private access to the Charente. Some finishing work to do, in village with commodities , 5 minutes to Aigre.

Réf: 9710 Energie: D Climat: B

+ 33 (0)6 82 85 36 32 Cecile

OFFICE + 33 (0)5 45 21 78 38


Ref. 34460

drains. Interior courtyard, shed. Classe Energie G Classe Climate G

Ref. 34446

(100 000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer) CONFOLENS (16). Ideally located near centre, 3-bed charming semi-detached house. View. Gas heating, garden, set on 900m2

Energie E Classe Climate E


(135 000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34450

AVAILLES LIMOUZINE (86). Town centre 3-bed house, beautiful interior. Heat pump, garage, small garden plus 382m2 with well opposite. Classe Energie C Classe Climate C

(50 000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer)

BRILLAC (16): Detached barn convertible to house with renovation work started. Water meter, septic tank, sold as is, set on 2390m2 Classe Energie n/a Classe Climate n/a

93 500€ HAI

(85,000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34456

BRILLAC (16). 3-bed house in village with potential. 1 convertible room, attic, mains drains, barn, courtyard. Separate garden 242m2 Classe Energie en cours Classe Climate en cours

108 000€ HAI

(100 000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34457

ST CHRISTOPHE (16). 2 grain and oil mills, one semi detached & habitable, one to renovate. Small garden, sluice, 3.35 acres. Classe Energie vierge Classe Climate vierge

3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens

Tel: 05 45 85 45 65

Looking for a career in property sales? Want to be part of a team of motivated, independent property consultants?

Good news, Agence Eleonor are recruiting! You’ll be joining a great team, with free training and ongoing support through all stages of your development. Contact Terrie Simpson at info@ to find out more or arrange an informal chat.

We are looking for properties to sell!

Agence Eleonor is an independently owned business with an experienced team of property specialists, based in the South-west of France, with offices across the region. Our offices all have overseas and local buyers ready to buy. If you are considering selling your property please contact us for a free valuation at info@

Ref: 10513-VI - Location: Lauzun - Price: 503,500€ Country house with pool and barn, on over 3 acres. This stone farmhouse, full of character and tastefully renovated, offers 4 bedrooms, a spacious and bright living room & an open kitchen with wood burning stove. The property is completed by a gorgeous swimming pool and a large barn in good condition.
Visit us in Eymet, Villeréal, Saint Cyprien, Monpazier, Bergerac, Miramont de Guyenne and Issigeac
Taux d’honoraires 28,500€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: C. Classe Climat: A Ref : 10493-MO - Location: Monflanquin - Price: 750,000€ Magnificent stone complex in the heart of 9.5 hectares of meadow and woods. Benefiting from a lake & a spring, this exceptional property consists of a main house, 2-bedroom gîte, 2 studios plus a barn. The 3-bed main house offers fireplaces and spacious rooms, finished with quality materials. TTaux d’honoraires 35,714€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: E Classe Climat: E Ref : 10515-EY - Location: Eymet - Price: 323,300€
Taux d’honoraires 18,300€
Within walking distance of Eymet’s centre, this lovely property offers kitchen, living / dining room, master bedroom, bathroom plus a self-contained 1-bedroom studio gite with ensuite shower room and kitchenette. The large basement has a 2-car garage, a workshop and two additional rooms. Set in a mature garden of just under 1/3 acre.
la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: E. Classe Climat: E
Agence Eleonor Estate Agency 36-38 rue du Temple 24500 EYMET T: 05 53 27 83 45 info@
(95 000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer) CONFOLENS (16): Must be seen! Renovated 2-bed house in town centre. Attic. Electric heating, mains
500€ HAI
000€ HAI
800€ HAI
Ref. 34440 55 000€ HAI S O V M O Votre Agence Immobilière Fami iale de Proximité S O V M O Votre Agence Immobilière Familiale de Proximité
EXCLUSIVE ............

Pine Processionary caterpillars are found across the region and have hairs carrying an irritant which can be dangerous to humans and pets. They live in nests spun high in trees and descend in nose-to-tail processions. Should your pet encounter the caterpillars, you are recommended to seek urgent veterinary advice. Traps are available to stop the caterpillars reaching the ground.

Oak Processionary caterpillars are also found across France but are less likely to descend from their host.

Wonder Webs

There was much consternation expressed on social media last year when white webs covered hedgerow shrubs and trees at the beginning of May. Perhaps concerns over dangerous Pine Processionary caterpillars and destructive Box Tree Moth caterpillars led to us being more vigilant, but the webs are cast each year by a number of species of Ermine moth (above left) which are harmless.

According to the organisation Butterfly Conservation, there are eight species in this group, although only the Orchard Ermine Yponomeuta padella, Spindle Ermine Y. cagnagella and Bird-cherry Ermine Y. evonymella tend to produce such extensive webbing, the former mainly on blackthorn and hawthorn, the others on spindle and bird-cherry respectively.

Academics believe the webs have given the caterpillars an evolutionary advantage, protecting them from both predators and dehydration. Whole trees and hedgerows along with neighbouring objects such as benches can disappear under the webs which hold thousands of black-spotted caterpillars. Surprisingly, the plants recover quickly after the adult moths have emerged. The moths fly in later summer, living

only a few days to allow them to reproduce and lay the eggs which will overwinter and hatch next spring. The Royal Horticultural Society confirms that while defoliation on small trees and shrubs can cause alarm, it will not affect the long term health or vigour of the host plants and should be tolerated as these small moths play an important role in the overall ecosystem.


We specialise in the sale of châteaux and prestige country homes with stone character

You can entrust us with your valuation, the professional presentation of your home, targetted communications, qualification of buyers, proper feedback, and sale management 06 43 95 15 52 www agence-hamilton com

Character Properties in France

160 950€* Sauzé-Vaussais (79)

Pretty stone character house, 2 reception rooms, fitted kitchen, utility, 3 beds, 1 shower room, 1 bathroom, hangar, garden 1710m2 + open views. Ref 4850:

*agency fees included paid by the buyer

168 850€* Sauzé-Vaussais (79)

Unique 3 bed detached stone barn conversion located in a hamlet, veranda, kitchen, full height living room, mezzanine, 2 baths, wraparound garden + outbuildings. Ref 4845:

275 340€* Sauzé-Vaussais (79)

Super stone house with CH, DG,180m2 hab, 4/5 beds, fitted kitchen, utility, through living room, barn, 11x5m pool, solar cover, paved terrace + 4640m2 garden Ref

Andrew Portsmouth 79, Grande Rue, 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

243 800€* Sauzé-Vaussais (79)

2 attached well maintained heated houses with large outbuildings + 7400m2 land. Main house o er has 4 beds, 2 showers, 2nd has 1 bed and a conservatory. Ref

296 520€* Couhé (86)

Renovated farmhouse with 1.4ha’s of meadow land. CH, DG, mains, 196m2 hab, open plan living room, fitted kitchen, utility, 3 beds, 2 baths, barns + former stables.

Ref 4835:

197 390€* Sauzé-Vaussais (79)

Gorgeous 6 bed character stone house, lots of original features, 275m2 hab, large rooms, kitchen, 42m2 through living room, covered terrace, barn + pretty garden. Ref 4761:

Tel: +33 (0)5 49 07 76 88

199,950€ (Fees paid by buyer incl) LE BOUCHAGE (16) 4/5-brm Charming Longere on 4820m2 (over 1 acre). Large 4/5 bed, 2-bath family home with separate access ideal for a gite. A well & citern, dble garage, carport, shed. DPE: D

Manot, Charente €325,000* Renovated farmhouse, over two acres, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, fosse conforms, second house to renovate. DPE: E


Ansac sur Vienne, Charente €154,000* Detached house with 3 bedrooms, 150m2 workshop, two garages, heat-pump, double-glazed, 3km Confolens. DPE: F Please

T: 06 45 57 15 49

Agent Commercial

149,950€ (Fees paid by buyer incl) RUFFEC border, 2/3-bed, 2-bath detached town house, study, 1766m2 garden, new kitchen, dining, 2-car parking, conforming fosse, + 2 old stone houses to renovate, greenhouse. DPE: D

139,950€ (Fees paid by buyer incl)

LE BOUCHAGE (16) detached pretty 3-bed, 2-bath home, stunning kitchen, gas central heating, huge garage, easy-maintenance 265m2 garden. IDEAL HOLIDAY HOME, quiet setting. DPE: D

59,950€ (Fees paid by buyer incl)

MAUPREVOIR spacious 2-bed village house with courtyard plus separate RIVER FRONT GARDEN 437m2, lock up garage with mezzanine, large open barn, walk to all amenities. DPE: G

159,950€ (Fees paid by buyer incl)

Near CIVRAY (86) stunning 4-bed, 2-bath home, chic décor, reverse-cycle heating/ cooling, with massive attached barn, small, easily-maintained, walled-front garden. DPE: D

175,000€ (Fees paid by buyer incl)

LIZANT, gorgeous 3-bed, 2-bath, detached character house, with large living space, on over 1 hectare (2.5 acres), loads of outbuildings for renovation, quiet location. DPE: E

NATURE | 49 Do you Living Magazine? Subscribe today
contact us if you have a character property to sell, we have a devoted team located throughout the area. Information on the risks to which these properties are exposed is available on the Geohazards website: Tel: 05 65 70 10 49 Email: Visit our new agency: 20, rue du Maquis
16500 Confolens
4828: DPE en cours


Losing the Plot

Many marvel over the size of plots when house-hunting in France, only to discover that maintaining a large garden can be hard work. Even the keenest gardeners don’t want to spend half their free time bumping around on a ride-on or fighting a losing battle with weeds. The answer? We need to rethink how we work the land as Gillian Harvey discovers...

Forget what you know

Kaeren Sykes (right), horticulturalist and garden designer from Gueyze (47) had to adapt her practice after she moved to France in 2012 – the different soil and climate mean tried and tested methods won’t necessarily work this side of the channel. “Many people want to create an English lawn in their French garden, but the climate is totally different,” she explains. “What we need to do is try to work with nature, rather than against it.”

Rewild, but maintain

Many try rewilding. But even this method of ‘letting it all grow’ takes proper management if you want to avoid brambles and trees tangling your plot.

“You can drive tracks through the grass and let the rest grow longer,” says Kaeren. “But an important step people sometimes miss is at the end of the season: when the wildflowers have set their seed, you need to cut the whole thing short. This may be too much for a ride-on mower, so enlist the help of a local farmer.”

Grow an alternative species

As Brits many of us are used to seeing flawless grassed lawns, but grass isn’t necessarily the answer in France.

Instead, it may be better to choose a similar-looking species that will thrive in the soil and climate. “Depending on the area and the soil, an alternative species such as thyme may thrive – and be easier to maintain than grass,” says Kaeren. “Have a look around to see what grows well in your area.”


If you’re hoping for English country gardens and perennial flowerbeds, you may be setting yourself up for a fall. “English style flowerbeds can mean constant watering which is hard work – and sometimes illegal,” says Kaeren. “It’s more advisable to go for shrubs that can cope with the environment and soil type. You can choose shrubs that flower during different seasons, or ones with colourful stems to keep your garden interesting.”

Work your soil

Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to gain an understanding of the type of soil you’re working with, its limitations and requirements.

“Soil types can vary from sand to clay, with an ideal loam being the optimum,” she says. “With clay soil

it’s important to work grit into your soil to improve draining and add organic matter to improve soil fertility and moisture in the summer. Sand warms up quickly and is easy to add, but you need to work to retain moisture and nutrients. Digging in compost and topping with wood chip can help.”

Rather than fighting a losing battle, it’s best to explore new solutions, when it comes to land management and garden design. By investigating what works locally, learning about the soil and relearning some aspects of gardening craft, we can create a garden to bring us joy.

LIVING OUTDOORS | 51 Do you Living Magazine? Subscribe today

Alex and Allan Seddon live in Limousin: “Our 1.5ha plot is partly steep and rocky, so rather than spend hours on a ride-on mower, we’ve invested in sheep – we currently have 10 sheep and five lambs. They keep our walnut field grazed so we can harvest the nuts fairly easily. They also do some conservation grazing for a Limousin-based organisation and a local farmer lets us graze his 3ha hayfield in the valley below post-harvest, to keep the shrubs and brambles back. There are a lot of benefits to keeping sheep –we don’t have to waste time mowing and they don’t pollute. Grazing sheep also promote wildflower growth as they eat invasive shrubs and we can sell the lambs to cover our costs.”

Les Rosiers de Montbron

Margaret Heath (above) lives in DeuxSèvres with her husband Mel: “I was an award-winning gardener in the UK, but wanted to scale things up when I moved to France. We purchased a plot of 1 hectare in 2012 in Villemain. When we arrived, we had a field of maize stubble, but we’ve since created a series of different style gardens including a jungle complete with cave, a fairy woodland and a hobbit house. Mel has built stone walls and other structures. As well as working as a garden designer over here, I have started to open the garden – Jardins du Vieux Moulin, La Portaudrie – as a tourist attraction, serving tea, coffee and ice-creams to visitors.”


Dessouchage David Cropper 52 | LIVING OUTDOORS
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Frie Martin lives in Montréal-du-Gers (32): “We originally bought our threehectare plot for ponies although sadly they are no longer with us. Even when the ponies were around there was too much for grazing, so we entered an informal arrangement with a local farmer, who cuts the hay each year. We don’t charge, to keep things simple. We’re now also creating a mixed forest by planting flowering bushes and trees. It’s a long-term project and expensive, but it feels good to be doing something for the planet that future generations will enjoy.”

Gillian Harvey is a freelance writer and author living in the Limousin. Her latest novel ‘One French Summer’ has just been released with Boldwood Books.

Do you Living Magazine? Subscribe today Garden waste, barns etc. cleared Unoccupied holiday homes checked For enquiries & rates tel: 07 72 38 84 60 09 63 68 12 49 Charente, Vienne, Deux Sèvres Siret no 853 531 838 2 Ladies & a Van HOMME VERT All aspects of tree care from planting and pruning to reductions and removals. Hedge cutting, ground clearance and maintenance. Fully insured & registered. 27 years’ experience. TREE SURGEON ARBORIST DOMINIC L UNN 05 45 30 61 41 / 06 45 90 30 67 | Facebook: @hommeverttreesurgery Siret: 808 903 074 00017 Covering all areas GARDEN SERVICES | Gardening | Pool Care | Home Maintenance Offering a full range of
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Insurance and asset management advice in English

Hello, my name is Isabelle Want. For the past 9 years, I have been working for Allianz as an asset manager. Being married to an Englishman and having lived in the UK for 8 years gives me a better insight into what British people are experiencing and what they need. Being French and born in the Charente has enabled me to offer some answers.

I am, as always, available for any free advice on the following subjects:

- INHERITANCE LAW - who inherits, how much are death duties, what solutions exist

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- TOP UP HEALTH INSURANCE - why you need it and how much it is

- INSURANCES - get a free quote to see if you can save money

We also have a dedicated bilingual person to deal with claims. And, finally, we have an English website with all sorts of useful information and tips on all of the above subjects.

The Fixer

These local businesses
call! 56
are waiting
BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec tel : 05 45 31 01 61 10 bld du 8 mai 1945 16110 La Rochefoucauld tel : 05 45 63 54 31 102 ave de la République 16260 Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure tel : 05 45 39 51 47 Contact Isabelle directly Mobile: 06 17 30 39 11 Email: N° ORIAS : 07020908
Call Rick Denton now on 06 46 25 30 87 or Email: Based in Charente and covering 86, 79, 16, 17, 24 & 33 Experience you need....Results you want Fluent French speaker with over 15 years professional ‘hands on’ experience assisting expats in France Personal Taxation – Carte Vitale – Carte de Séjour Business set ups - CPAM – French Administration Tax regularisation and much much more…. Siren: 818 390 916 HELP & ADVICE HELP & ADVICE Established since 2004 Depts 16, 17, 79, 86 SIRET 453 520 298 00010 Expert in French Administration Carte de Séjour CPAM & ANTS Personal Taxation Legal matters Phone calls & meetings Tel: 05 46 96 44 11 Andrew Harrison 8 place Gambetta 86400 CIVRAY Office: M: Siret N o 520 382 805 00049 Administrative Assistance & Solutions Private Individuals & Small Businesses Translator: English (cert.), French, Portuguese (cert.) & Spanish Professional Liability Insurance HELP WITH ALL FRENCH ADMINISTRATION MATTERS Valérie PATARD 1, rue Basse 85370 Mouzeuil-Saint-Martin Tel: +33 (0)6 84 78 21 57 Email:
PROFESSIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE HELP Translations, Health, Tax, Legal Paperwork, Telephone Calls, Property, Banking, Business Services, Residency Find out more: Val Assist provides clear explanations about the French system, advice on the best way to sort out problems and generally acts for people on their behalf in French. ASSISTANCE ALL OVER FRANCE Siret N°48825664500018 • Business set ups - all regimes • Foreign firm set up and payroll • Accounting for UK Ltd companies by our Chartered Accountant • Book keeping / accounting for French businesses, TVA returns • Tax returns - UK & France • Carte Vitale, Carte de Séjour • Vehicle registration, driving licenses • Access to financial aid • Legal paperwork • Dispute mediation SIRET/SIREN 510046261 00010 SOLUTIONS Chemin des Gordins, 16700 Ruffec M: 07 80 44 37 00 solutions16700 Comprehensive administration services for individuals and businesses All areas of France covered Karen and her team of associates are here to help you with: f f f Furniture for France Tel: +44 7845 272 242 Email: Quality UK furniture direct to your door in France Furniture for your bedrooms, dining room and lounge From sofas to mattresses, wardrobes to dining tables, all just one phone call away Look at our website to see the latest ranges available 20 years’ experience & great customer service Siret: 889 641 726 00019 IT Help & Advice Problem Solving, Repair & Maintenance Website Creation & Management Data Security Guaranteed 06 29 61 47 88 Frapa IT Service & Support IT, Help & Advice Help & Advice
Val Assist


There’s really only one way to choose a carpet - that’s to see it and touch it! - the way it feels plays a very important part when you’re selecting what suits you. While we still make free home visits (over 200 during 2022) with plenty of samples, you can come to our showroom and see the thousands of options we offer, whether you’re looking for carpets, vinyl, LVT ...... or anything flooring! As we go into Spring, why not come and see us at our showroom in Treignac (19260)there’s a couple of decent restaurants nearby or at the very least come in and have a coffee with us!

Obviously things have changed over the past few years and since Brexit we source a large part of our ranges directly from European manufacturers, which negates




any import or customs duties. In fact many Belgian companies, for example, send half their manufacturing output to the UK so they are the type and style we are used to seeing. This doesn’t mean we don’t still import from the UK - some of the best carpets in the world are manufactured in Britain, especially good quality wool materials - and we still have direct accounts with many of the more important UK suppliers.

So, we can offer the best that both the UK and European manufacturers offer with a huge range of samples here for you to see and feel!

As we are a small family business, please let us know if you are making a special journey to see us - we’d hate to miss you!

English Speaking

Special discount for new owners - 50% o the rst year

Fully comprehensive covers at competitive prices and all explained in ENGLISH. We respond quickly to enquiries and in the case of accidents or claims, we are here to help.

O ces at Champdeniers and St Pardoux (79). Come and visit us.

Agence Michallon Tel:


Anita Frayling - Le Baillat, 16220 Rouzede T: 05 45 66 14 62 E:

we are a purpose-built kennels with a large secure paddock area where dogs can run free and play while having their 2 walks per day on or off the lead. Large family kennels are available. You are welcome to call if you have any questions or would like to visit the kennels.

Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 57
find the best insurer for you, at competitive rates MOTOR, HOUSE, BUSINESS, TRAVEL
information and quotes contact Penny G.S.A.R.
15 71 MEDICAL insurance: top up and for Residency Permits Insurance, Flooring Animal Care SHOWROOM ADDRESS 22 route de Gueret, Les Rivières, 19260 TREIGNAC what3words: underlay.numbing.decamp jonthecarpetman E: 09 63 56 23 10 / 06 42 19 82 12
05 53 40
PM CARPETS & FLOOR ING For all your flooring needs • We supply and fit a range of carpets to suit all budgets • We also fit amtico, vinyl, wood and ceramic tile • Over 25 years experience, 100% customer satisfaction • Now selling a selection of wool and mixed fibre rugs Contact Paul on 06 60 07 54 78 or 05 45 84 27 75
Ask for Corinne
For all your insurance needs in France
Orias: 07007057 PRE-loved to RE-loved Robert Mann Upholstery Service Tel: 06 45 61 60 85 Email: Robert Mann Upholstery Service Deux-Sèvres (will travel within reason) - Siret: 820 918 316 00028 Upholstery of sofas, chairs, bedheads, campervans, antiques, etc…. robmannupholstery For those of you that don't already know us,
15 mins from La Rochefoucauld & 20 mins from Rochechouart Lime Tree Kennels Insulated bedrooms, Individual exercise areas Heat lamps & Sneeze barriers Small family-run cattery Unit sizes regulated by FAB LOOF registered LE-CATTERY PENSION POUR CHATS 24400 SAINT LAURENT DES HOMMES Please call by to visit the le-cattery We look forward to meeting your feline friends Dan Kirsty & family 07 81 59 59 39
These local businesses are waiting for your call! 58 Transport Services, Concierge Packing services Full/part loads to and from the UK Vehicles transported • Containerised storage Competitive prices • Transit /storage insurance FRANKLINS REMOVALS A family business established in 1985 offering a quality, professional service Call Stephen or Ben Franklin on 0044 121 353 7263 or email George White European Transport Special rates to SW France 13.6m / 45ft trailer Full/Part loads Removals - Vehicles - Materials Owner Driver RHA member Tel: +44 (0)7768 867 360 Fax +44 (0)1773 570 090 Fr Mobile: +33 (0)6 23 03 85 59 Tel: 05 49 07 24 85 E: Franglais Deliveries Siret: 502 021 660 00019 Moving In France? Full & Part Loads Relocations in France Packing & Storage Options FRANGL AIS DEL IVERIES FRANGLAIS DELIVERIES Transport The UK’s Premium Pet Transport Company Regular trips throughout Europe Services tailored to your needs DEFRA Type 2 licensed, custom built vans T: +44 (0)7855 401 102 T: +44 (0)1932 875 227 Transport Quick installation - No ladders or scaffolding No risk of falling off roofs No direct contact with roof tiles Approved biocide products Fully insured, professionally registered drone pilots Access up to 65 metres Based in 24100, covering 24,17, 47 French & English spoken ROOF & WALL CLEANING by DRONE Siret: 912 900 206 Tel: 07 56 80 87 82 Email: Website: E: Tel: 09 83 70 01 33 | Mob: 06 61 25 41 09 YOUR ONE-STOP TRANSPORT SERVICE Cars, Boats and Caravans a speciality Full or part loads undertaken - a box to a full removal Full European coverage Secure storage available in France and UK UK depot available for deliveries Every item is covered by GIT and CMR insurances C J Logistics Full trade references Fully conversant withUKexports Collections & Deliveries All DIY building jobs Renovation work Barn/House Clearances Brico collections Dept 17, 16, 79, 85 Contact Ray The Handyman with a Van Siret: 532 526 001 00013 Hot Tubs in France the home of Wood-fired Cotswold Eco Tubs For more information, please contact Nicola or Tim: E: T: 07 49 19 46 84 RELAX. REPLENISH. REWIND. Easy to install in even the most remote locations of the quietest air bubble/Hydro systems on the market Efficient wood-fired boiler - minimal electricity used for bubbles and LED lighting Robust wood and fibreglass construction means years of weather-resistant service Thoughtful design ensures they are hygienic and easy-to-clean Comfortable seating allows users to immerse their shoulders, perfect all year round Bespoke range of options and colour combinations NEW Wood-fired saunas available siret: 879 912 855 2, 6 and 8 person available Facebook: HotTubsinFrance | Google business: | LinkedIn: hot-tubs-in-france
Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 59 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS For help or information, telephone: 05 31 60 90 95 or visit: All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence. If you, or someone you know, has a drinking problem, join one of the English-speaking AA meetings across the south west of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety. Freemasons Did you know? There are Englishspeaking lodges in France. Our lodge in Saintes (17) meets 6 times a year. If you would like to find out more, email: Freemasonry in France Chimney Sweep, Assos Pools | Check out our website for more information about all our services Garden Services Pool Care Gîte Services Home Cleaning & Maintenance These local businesses are waiting for your call! Owner/operator cost effective transporter Contact David Glenn Hundreds of successful cross Channel deliveries Read our 5-star reviews on Trustpilot “I would recommend Dave again and again” “Excellent service” Contact Nick on email: or T. 05 45 71 33 36 • Certificates issued for every sweep • Over 10 years’ experience • Covering departments 16, 17, 79 & 86 Registered with the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Siret 81968203000013 Chimney Sweep Nick Wright Learn French the fun way! Sign up for your FREE 30-day trial:
These local businesses are waiting for your call! 60 Pools Pools, Metalwork • Installation • Renovation • Cleaning and Maintenance t: +33 (0) 549 290135 t: +33 (0) 785 372144 Based near Sauzé-Vaussais (79) Full Décennale Insurance siret: 897 609 293 For Pools For Outside Living • Terraces & Patios • Summerhouses • Roofs • Fencing • Blockwork • Pointing • Rendering • Outside Rooms Complete Pool Care Gardening | Home Maintenance POOLS BY JONATHAN Agent and installer for several rectangular & shaped pools including Seablue & Astral Pools FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE Competitive prices, try me for a quote Terracing and landscaping service also available ALL WORK GUARANTEED phone 0549840362 mobile 0622361056 SIRET 47994761600021 POOL PROBLEMS? CONSULT THE EXPERTS • Pool renovations • Hi-tech leak detection • Underground pipe repairs • Liner replacement and fitting • Automatic dosing systems • Pump/filtration/pool technical rooms • Pool heating/heat pumps • Maintenance/cleaning contracts • Home buyer/seller diagnostic reports ------ 20 years doing business in france -----06 3117 25 60 Nettoyage Professionnel ARC EN CIEL Key holding / conciergerie. Cleaning of commercial and domestic premises and window cleaning. Rugs, carpet & upholstery steam shampoo extraction. Hard floors / surfaces treatment: marble, granite, terracotta etc & wood floor parquet. Swimming pool & garden maintenance. Office: 05 53 07 52 71 (9 to 18.00) Mobile: 06 31 31 06 76 / 06 70 39 83 96 Siret: 813 442 860 00017 PROFESSIONAL CLEANING & HYGIENE SERVICES L’Atelier de Fer Fraser W. Eade General Engineering Turning, Milling, Welding Quality & Precision Guaranteed Forgeix, 87200 Saint Junien 05 55 71 41 75 Siret: 512 945 874 00018 Jeff’s Metalwork E I Ornate interior / exterior designs Gates constructed / refurbished Industrial furniture General Welding ~ Over 25 year’s experience ~ Mob: 07 77 83 77 10 or 0044 7917 03 02 49 Siret: 811 895 309 00011
Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 61 BECK CHERRY PICKER HIRE Tel: 07 84 12 44 97 E: Nacelle Telescopique 17m tracked cherry picker with IPAF operator For all exterior works: roofing, painting, tree cutting etc. Hourly, daily or weekly rates Based in south 86, can transport as required Siret: 827 978 636 00013 Plumbing - Heating Chimney sweeping Full service with certificate (boiler, fuel, wood, gaz) Installation of Wood Burners Registered RGE QUALIBOIS Fully insured with over 15 years’ experience Tel: 06 58 86 55 91 30km around 86400 (Saint Macoux) Siret: 900 570 490 00012 English spoken Ambroise Jb Plumbing & Renovations Kitchen & Bathroom Installations Plumbing repairs, Tiling Plaster boarding, Flooring, Decorating, Interiors, Electrical Tel: 06 29 90 24 89 E: Based in dept 79 near Sauzé-Vaussais Fully insured Siret: 804 390 862 000 14 Emptying of grease traps, fosse septiques, filtre compacts & micro stations. Cleaning & maintenance of all types of sewage treatment plants. T: 06 71 83 16 69 / 05 49 87 27 29 E: 2 Verrières, 86400 CHAMPNIERS Covering south 86 & 79, north 16 David GABARD

Enershop have been installing renewable energy systems in France since 2008. Each system designed and installed is specifically for your needs, whether your property is a new

build, extension or a renovation, whether it is a cottage, chalet or château - the flexibility of our systems means there is a solution for all. We offer a free devis, with no obligation and no hard sell. Now is the time to consider a renewable heating system. There are reduced rates of TVA available and significant incentives for systems installed by Enershop as we

hold the QualiSol and QualiBois accreditation. Our website has lots of information on our services which include :

• Solar thermal domestic hot water

• Wood gasification boilers

• Wood / Pellet boiler stoves

• Pellet boilers

• Accumulation tanks

• Air source heat pumps

• Central and underfloor heating systems

• Swimming pool / hot tub heating

These local businesses are waiting for your call! 62 Building services, Artisans
Enershop – renewable energy heating systems for your property Tel: 07 67 04 07 53 Email: Website: Enershop South West France Fosse Trained-Approved-Recommended by SPANC Can you trust your installation to anyone else? With over 30 years’ experience southwestfrancefosse Email: Tel: 06 04 14 84 86 Etudes  Conception  Surveys Maintenance  Service  Remedial See all our work on

A ordable UK Designs

Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 63 Phone: 06 38 68 72 53 SIRET: 514 636 257 00016 ALL WORKS COVERED BY ASSURANCE DÉCENNALE ▶ Drylining ▶ Ceilings / suspended flat / apex / joist infills ▶ Partition walls ▶ Hydro wet rooms ▶ Ensuites / walk in wardrobes ▶ Acoustic and thermal insulation ▶ Plastering skim and set ▶ Tape & jointing Established in France in 2009 ALL TYPES OF DRYWALL WORK COVERED ANDY MS Kitchens & Bathrooms from A-Z All leading Brands All associated minor works, modifications and repairs also undertaken e.g.. replace Kitchen worktops, taps, toilets etc. Dept. 16, 17 05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01 website: email: siret:50263448800014 Planning and designs for permis de construire and déclaration préalables for extensions, renovations, conversions and new builds. Ian Dickinson BSc (Hons) Mob: E: ID Planning & Design Departments: 16, 17, 24, 79, 86 & 87 Siret: 492 277 918 00024 M&M PROPERTY Painting & decorating services Tiling / Flooring Plasterboarding Suppliers of Crown Paints Providing a quality service since 2005 Kevin Smith 16100 Chateaubernard 05 45 36 46 70 / 06 72 21 80 27 MAINTENANCE Depts 16 & 17 Siret 482 718 640 00022
UPVC & Aluminium Double Glazing, Fitted Kitchens FREE PLAN, DESIGN & COSTING THROUGHOUT SOUTH WEST FRANCE - OTHER AREAS BY ARRANGEMENT UPVC Windows, Doors & Conservatories in all colours & styles. Aluminium and UPVC Bifold doors Made to ‘A’ Grades spec in French styles! www.a SIRET: 513 577 809 00017 Phone: 05 49 42 99 41 Mobile: 06 63 71 09 81 E: Building services, Artisans T: 07 80 53 54 11 E: Based in 17240 SEAN THEOBALD EI Carpenter All elements of 1st and 2nd fix carpentry undertaken Over 35 years experience specialising in, but not limited to High-End Residential and Heritage Projects Siret: 848 507 042 00010 JAMES RICHARDSON Imajica Joinery ESTABLISHED COMPANY, CONSCIENTIOUS & RELIABLE SERVICE For a superior finish in wood, tile, plasterboard and general restoration Specialising in kitchen fitting & creative challenges Siret: 48115588500017 05 49 87 09 63 Barry Baldwin Cabinet Maker & Joiner Furniture Restoration Manufacture of staircases, doors & cupboards 16240 La Fôret de Tesse T: 05 45 30 39 85 Covering depts 16, 79 & 86 Siret: 804476 034 00017 Building services, Artisans K Jones Painter & Decorator Tel: 06 08 87 18 64 30 Year’s Experience City & Guilds Qualified Clean, Friendly & Reliable Interior & Exterior, Paperhanging Professional Painter & Decorator Siret: 822 391 538 00029 Email: KJ Decorating Services Based in 24240 Gageac et Rouillac Handyman Services No Job Too Small Household Repairs Small Plumbing Jobs Garden & Ground Maintenance Decking Repairs Key Holding Services Property Clear Outs Swimming Pool Maintenance Wood Cutting Charlie Ganly 07 77 85 41 34 16120 Chateauneuf sur Charente SIRET: 89854551200011 PAINTER & DECORATOR Interior and exterior painting Paper hanging, tiling, flooring & dry lining Areas 16, 17, 24, 33, 79, 86 ADAM BLACKABY Artisan Peintre T: 05 45 98 07 25 M: 06 23 18 30 95 Siret: 441 490 992 00027
These local businesses are waiting for your call! 64 Ecuras 16220 AABA ROOFING FRANCE Assurance Décennale Quality Roofing & Building for you New roofs ~ Slate and tiling Fibreglass flat roofing ~ Repairs Gutters and facias UPVC or zinc All leadwork ~ Timberwork References available 05 45 63 52 88 / 07 80 08 85 76 Siret 53210969100024 E: ~ T: 05 49 27 22 67 Registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance Covering depts 79, 86 & 16 Siret: 499 474 302 00043 The Roofing Company Andy Quick Zinc work ~ Guttering ~ Chimneys Repairs ~ Insurance Quotes SINCE 2007 ESTABLISHED ECNARFNI

All work is fully guaranteed and we are fully insured. Our services are available 6 days a week, no-obligation free estimate and no call-out fee up to 70km.

17, 24 05 46 86 07 61

Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 65 Building services, Artisans Building services, Artisans T: 05 45 95 44 34 or 06 98 29 76 45 E: Graham Medhurst Renovations Established reputable builder in Charente From basic changes to complete renovations, bathrooms, kitchens, floor and wall tiling, dry-lining & more Guaranteed customer satisfaction Contact me for a free no-obligation quotation Based near La Rochefoucauld, covering areas 16, 86 & 79 A1SL COUVERTURE is a new
dept. 79,
Registered with the Repertoire des Métiers, siren: 877 636 050 Mobile: + 33.(0). Email:
French based company serving
17, 87, 85, 24 & 33 with
roofing experience previously based in the UK. We pride ourselves on top quality workmanship and excellent customer service.
have built a solid reputation over 25 years in the UK and receive most of our work from customer recommendations.
ANDY MS Multi Services Plumbing Electricity Plasterboarding Tiling Satellite dishes and Systems for the reception of UK and French TV No Job too Small Dept.
website: email: Siren: 478 608 185 00011 Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne Tel 05 17 30 18 35 Mobile 06 33 85 65 66 ELECTRICIAN Experienced, French Registered Electrician
46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01
Available for all types of electrical work renovations, small works, gate automations etc. Insured and guaranteed Areas 16, Siret 49376573200015

Pard on?

The long days of summer approach, but as spring gathers force, I think many of us will be appreciating the delights of those in-between days, when we can cast all the clouts we like. I thought I’d take a fragrant romp through all kinds of springtime expressions from both sides of La Manche in hope of warmer days where the winds subside and rains give way to blue skies.

We sense the seasonal differences as to when the age-old wisdom of our proverbs tell us it’s safe to start discarding our winter garments. In France, you’re safe by the end of April. En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil. In April, don’t uncover a wire. We Anglophones may be a little confused by notions of uncovering wires in April, since un fil is any kind of string, fibre or filament from a cable through to a thread. Why on earth shouldn’t you uncover wires in April?

The word fil has many diverse meanings in French that go way beyond wires, fibres and string. You can be au fil du couteau or ‘at the knife’s edge’ just as much as you can find un réseau sans fil or ‘wireless network’. Passer au fil d’une épée would mean ‘to be put to the sword’, for example. If someone wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, you could also say il n’a pas inventé le fil à couper le beurre or ‘he didn’t invent the butter wire cutter’. Un fil then can relate to sharpness as much as it can relate to a wire or thread. I also love the notion of all the fils d’une affaire or the various strands of a mystery or intrigue that can be unravelled and tied together. Interesting too that English also

imagines stories and intrigues in the same sense of strands woven together to make a whole. ‘Unravelled’ is one of those lovely English words that would make you think there would be a popular opposite, just without the ‘un’, where ‘to ravel’ actually means to ‘untangle’ in exactly the same way as ‘unravel’. Our English word ‘ravel’ and ‘unravel’ come from Dutch, as many of our weaving words do, from the Dutch word rafelen. Clearly, the English didn’t really care if Flemish weavers were tangling or untangling. When Walter Scott proclaimed ‘what a tangled web we weave,’ he might well have been thinking of the fils d’une affaire. We also see the word fil used in storylines, particularly in fiction. When we talk about ‘spinning a yarn’, we also pick up the same idea. That expression about creating a fiction doesn’t translate well back to French: filer un fil. French also has the verb ‘tisser’, meaning ‘to weave’. Spiders tissent their webs, but French also gives us the expression tisser sa toile or to scheme. Stories, histories, lies, schemes and fabric may give rise to

Is it time that you improved your French?

different expressions across French and English, but it’s surprising how many of them have roots in weaving. Tisser sa toile can also give us a sense in English of casting a net or expanding a network, without the underhand sense of plotting to deceive, perhaps ratisser large. But if you thought ratisser had much to do with tisser, you’d be much mistaken: it’s more to do with raking leaves than it is to weaving. One expression I love in French that doesn’t translate well to English is filer un mauvais coton or ‘to thread a bad cotton’. If you’re in a bit of a bad spot, having a period when things aren’t going too well, then filer un mauvais coton might be exactly how you feel. You can use it for having a spot of health trouble or generally for those times when things aren’t going to plan - perhaps even those times when there doesn’t seem to be a plan at all and everything goes off-piste. On dirait que tu files un mauvais coton would roughly be ‘people would say that things aren’t going swimmingly for you right now’. If you didn’t think fil had given us quite enough, un fil is also a line, like a telephone line, so you can give someone un coup de fil. Au bout du fil simply means ‘at the end of the line’. Where people having to learn English have to learn threads, wefts, grains, edges, lines, cables, floss, wires and strings, French is so much simpler. Between filer and tisser, they’ve got language all sewn up.

Emmaisajack-of-all-language-trades, writingEnglishtextbooks,translating, markingexamscriptsandteaching

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Revolutionary talk from language expert Emma-Jane
~ Passionate about life in south west magazine L i v in g Summer is H june july 2022 festiVals touring la family-friendly & much m ~ Passionate about life in south west magazine L i v in g aug sept 2022 Summer the most of STUNNING SAFE HAVENS VISIT STYLISH SOULAC COUNTRYSIDE TREATS & MUCH MUCH MORE in this issue: Get Living Magazine posted to your door and help us continue to bring you the best of the region all year round Subscribe so you never miss an issue It’s easy to subscribe! Business Directory Featuring the best local companies APRIL | MAY 2023 INSIDE: Spring isHere! RIVERSIDE RAMBLES GETTING READY to RIDE REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE LOCAL NEWS and VIEWS & much more... Business Directory FEB MARCH 2023 ORDER ONLINE at SCAN THE QR CODE and subscribe right away L

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VIENNE €189,000

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