Living Magazine - December 16

Page 1

L i ving FREE!

magazine dec | jan 2017

Season’s Greetings! FESTIVE FUn

Amazing Places Christmas Markets & much more

~ Passionate about life in south west France ~


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December/January 2017

As another year draws to a close, here at Living HQ we would like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to our advertisers and subscribers who enable us to bring you Living. Without them, Living simply would not exist. At the same time, we would like to thank you, our readers, for responding to our advertisers and using their services, ensuring that they come back time and time again to complete the circle of Living! As one year full of changes closes, another begins. The UK and the US have lurched to the political right, Brexit is underway and now France’s Presidential elections are upon us. Strange and unpredictable times indeed. But here at Living, we will continue to bring you the best of our region, inspiring you to visit new sights and sample the region’s delights. If you have any ideas you would like to share with us, just drop us a line at the addresses below, we love hearing from our readers. Alternatively, join in the conversation over at Facebook where you can find us at LivingMagazine.fr. So it only remains for us to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2017 - it’s going to be an interesting year! À bientôt

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Snippets News from around the region

32

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

15

Susan Hays shares the highlights of their Franco-British family Christmas

For six centuries Aubusson’s tapestry workers have been world famous as Roger Moss discovers

34

Dream Weavers

21

Flying South We follow Helen AureliusHaddock as she migrates south to find the winter sun

24

Time Travel Visit the region’s historic motor collections

29

Turning the Tide As we say au revoir to Chris Luck, he takes a look at the state of the French countryside, the winners and the losers.

Nikki Legon’s Cuisine Scrumptious recipes to inspire your festive entertaining

38

Verjuice This speciality ingredient is undergoing a revival as Alan Coxon finds out

40

Following a dream Caro Feely reflects on the realities of following their dream to become winegrowers

48

Living Property Pages We visit the medieval town of Vouvant in Vendée

50

A Timely Pause Jobs to do in the garden now that winter is here

65

For a song What is the essence of the exquisitely-French chansons that have become the nation’s

66

Pardon! Our regular foray into French expressions with Emma Lee

55-63

Hook, Line and Sinker

Business Directory The best services & suppliers across the region

Ron Cousins reviews the angling news of 2016

around the region

44

How to keep ‘Living’ free for you Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw them in ‘Living’ Now available across 7 départements & adjoining areas: Charente (16), Charente-Maritime (17), Dordogne (24), Deux-Sèvres (79), Vendée (85), Vienne (86), Haute-Vienne (87) 100,000 readers 1,000 stockists

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64 Places to go

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Ruffec

Rouillac Cognac

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CONFOLENS

CHARENTE (16)

ANGOULEME Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne

News from around the region...

Tree Magic

You may have already seen Harriet Springbett’s work. She’s a guest blogger on the Living Magazine website and was runner-up in our writing competition with her short story ‘Ami Entends-tu?’. Harriet’s début novel, Tree Magic, is coming out on 9 January. The ebook is published by Impress Books’ Watchword imprint and is set in Dorset and the Charente. It tells the story of teenager Rainbow, whose gift for communicating with trees makes life difficult for her in today’s scientific society. You can already pre-order Tree Magic on Amazon for yourself and your teenage children. Find out more on the Impress Books website or Harriet’s blog at harrietspringbett.wordpress.com.

Fes tive fun Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

L’Abbaye de Bassac (nr Jarnac)

Villebois Lavalette

Saint-Amant-de-Boixe

27 November Christmas market in the attractive market square with plenty of activities for children, refreshments all day and a visit from Père Noël. 3 & 4 December Micky Mouse is celebrating Christmas! Festive market, events and chateau tours.

Théâtre d’Angouleme

3-11 December Suitable for children from 4-years old, Carrousel des Moutons is a musical, acrobatic clown act which will appeal to all members of the family. Tickets cost 19€ for adults, 11€ for children.

Soyaux, Angoulême

3 December Over sixty stall holders gather, many with unusual items which are perfect for gifts. Inside and outside l’Espace Matisse from 9am to 8pm.

Manoir de Longeveau, Pillac 4 December Enjoy the Marché de Noël from 10am to 5pm - carols, mince pies, carriage-rides and lots of stalls.

Aigre 4 December

One of the longest-running fairs in the département with more than 50 stands, from 9am-6pm.

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9-11 December Enjoy the creations for the ‘Plus Belle Crèche de Noël’ at the Marché de l’Avent at this historic abbey.

charente

BD17

With poor visitor numbers for the 2016 festival and disagreements between the organising bodies, this year has not been an easy one for Angoulême’s International Bande Dessinée Festival. However, with the help of a government mediator, a new structure has been proposed promising greater transparency and more inclusive shortlists for the festival’s prizes. The countdown is now on to the 44th festival scheduled for the 2629 January with Hermann Huppen, creator of the Bernard Prince series in the weekly magazine Tintin, as President. A retrospective of the work of manga artist Kazua Kanimura (1945-1986) will be shown alongside the first 3D comic art for VR (virtual reality) produced by the Italian studio Magnétique. www.bdangouleme.com

10 & 11 December Les Artisanales de l’Abbaye – discover the unique works of local artists, an ideal opportunity to find those hard-to-get presents. 10am – 6pm.

Garat 10-11 December Château de la Tranchade’s atmospheric Marché de Noël features a costume parade on Saturday evening between 6 and 7pm – entry costs 4€. Lesterps 18 December

Traditional Christmas entertainment at ‘Noël comme Autrefois’ – freshly baked goods, chestnuts, children singing and Père Noël arriving at 5.30pm.

Ruffec 18 December

Festive fun in the town centre organised by the local shopkeepers’ association.

Angoulême

19-23 and 27-30 December Wondering where to let the kids loose? Head to the Espace Carat to visit Ludopark with 4 large play areas suitable for ages up to 16. 1-3 years 4€; 3-16 years 7.50€; over-16s 4€.

Join local choir, Les Beaux Accords, for a bi-lingual Christmas concert at St Maurice’s Church, 16220 Montbron, on Saturday, 17 December at 6pm. For further information contact Louise Wade on 05 45 61 66 53.


News from around the region...

Auberge du Noyer

The family team behind the popular Auberge du Noyer are celebrating their third Christmas at the restaurant and bar situated near Montjean just five minutes outside Ruffec. Serving a mixture of French and British cuisine, the holiday season has plenty of treats in store. Chef Mark Little is particularly looking forward to New Year’s Eve when local band Ain’t Misbehavin’ will be performing. “We start at 7.30pm with canapés before serving fish, meat, cheese and dessert courses, ending the evening with champagne. It’s always popular so you need to book quickly!” Other December dates include the festive Walnut Tree Christmas Dinners each Sunday with mulled wine, crackers and mince pies, and regular music evenings – ‘Christmas with the Craic’ on Saturday 10, followed by an open mic session on Monday 19. So find those glad rags, it is time to party! Tickets for New Year’s Eve cost 70€ and must be purchased in advance. Christmas Dinners cost 27.50€, reservation required. Auberge du Noyer, La Brousse, 16700 Londigny; 05 45 59 05 07; www.aubergedunoyer.com.

Christmas Services

By Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd: 11 December: Carols at Jarnac, Foyer Prostestant, 10.30am 24 December: Christmas Eve Service at Alloue Church, 6pm 25 December: Christmas Service at La Rochefoucauld Salle paroissiale, 10.30am 25 December: Christmas Service at Jarnac Temple Protestant, 10.30am

at Chez Cartier, 16360 Condéon Hands-on cookery worksHops witH reza MaHaMMad

Join celebrity chef Reza Mahammad for a hands on cookery workshop at his home in the Charente. Reza teaches a three-course Indian, Middle Eastern or Thai menu, conveying his passion and infectious enthusiasm for food and entertaining. Courses limited to 8. Participants create a delicious, authentic meal with Reza’s expert guidance. Lunch is enjoyed by all, served with wine and hosted by Reza. Timings: 10h30 - 16h30 Price per person: 175€/£150 DATES: 5th & 7th January

CHRISTMAS DINNER at CHEz CARTIER

Delicious 4-course dinners cooked and hosted by Reza on Sunday 18th and Tuesday 20th December. 110€ per person Gift Vouchers ready for christmas, redeemable on available dates in 2017

www.chezcartier. com

warwick@chezcartier.com


Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron

Rochefort

CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes

Royan

charenteNews from around the region... maritime

Fes tive fun

Rochefort 2-5 December

The Grand Marché de Noël opens at 2pm on Friday with more than 70 stands undercover. Trampolines and games await the children as well as a live crèche and Santa will visit at 4pm on Sunday. Combine with a trip to the ice-rink open from 3 December to 8 January.

Saint-Porchaire 5-6 December A Christmas Market in the wonderful setting of Château de la Roche Courbon’s theatre and barn. 35 stalls and a visit from Santa. La Rochelle

9 December – 2 January Christmas chalets in la Place de Verdun serving traditional delicacies from oysters to vin chaud, activities and games for the young and old, and a touch of Russia to celebrate the town’s 45-year twinning with Petrozadovsk.

St-Savinien-sur-Charente

10 December A small, friendly Marché de Noël featuring artisanal food producers and crafts.

Châtelaillon-Plage 10 December The end of the year celebrations open with Sainte Lucie, a candle lit procession led by ten 10-year old Chatelaillonnaises and the switching on of the town”s illuminations.

Choral Concerts

Surgères

18 December Celebrate the arrival of Father Christmas with a parade and show for children starting at 2pm.

Saujon 18 December

At 2pm, climb aboard the Père Noël Express, run by the Train des Mouettes, for a special ride to visit Father Christmas at the Mornac-sur-Seudre Marché de Noël.

Châtelaillon-Plage

20-23 December Enjoy the Christmas market before watching as more than 80 volunteers bring to life the Christmas magic with a unique son et lumière in front of the church. Follow the scenes of the nativity and the arrival of the three Kings. Starts at 7pm.

La Rochelle 20-29 December Join a nocturnal guided tour of the old town under the light of the Christmas illuminations on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tickets are available from the Tourist Office: adults 8.50€, 4-12 years 5.50€. La Tremblade

22 December The highlight of the Christmas market is the arrival of “Les Fanfarfadets”, a street theatre troupe with juggling, music and fireworks.

The Franco British choir La Chantonge are again performing Christmas concerts around the Charente-Maritime: 2 December at Salle des Fêtes of Fontenet - 8.30pm 10 December at the Temple in Saintes - 5pm 14 December at Chapelle de la Providence in Matha - 8.30pm 17 December at Saint-Savinien Church - 6pm Tickets cost 10€ and are available via the website www.lachantonge.eu or by telephoning 05 46 74 53 59.

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Telethon 2016

To see and not to see

An unusual exhibition is underway at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de La Rochelle where the artworks have been chosen by visually-impaired individuals to explore how artists capture the tangible and the unreal. Using all your senses, explore the works displayed as part of ‘Accrochage no 10 – Voir et ne pas Voir’. The aims of the exhibition are not only to provide a new approach to exhibiting art but also to improve the accessibility of art to the visually impaired as well as to make the public more aware of visual handicaps. Entry costs 6€ and full details of opening hours are on www.alienor.org/musees/.

Watch out for the many Telethon events taking place across the region on the 2 and 3 December. Last year nearly 94 million euros were donated to help fund research and discover new, innovative treatments to cure Telethon host rare illnesses. Celebrating its 30th singer Garou anniversary this year, the hope is to once more see an increase in the amounts raised after several years of falling revenues. Singer Garou is joining regular hosts Sophie Davant and Nagui with a promise of an unforgettable weekend. See evenement.telethon.fr for the full programme.


Christmas Services La Cotinière

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd is holding the following services: 15 December:

Carols at Courcelles Church, 7pm 25 December:

Christmas Service at Courcelles Church, 10:30am

© CMT1

News from around the region...

The long-awaited modernisation of the fishing port at La Cotinière on the Île d’Oléron has finally been given the green light by the départmente. A 60-million euro budget has been earmarked for the project which will be managed by Vinci as a PPP (partenariat public-privé). Construction of the new harbour is expected to start in 2018 and be completed three years later. As the 6th largest fishing port in France, La Cotinière is an important source of revenue for the island, landing 6,000 tons of fish a year. Some 60 to 80 boats are moored in the harbour and 20 tons of ice are needed for each day’s catch. The project is not without opposition and so environmental studies and local consultations will take place in 2017.

BREXIT news

Much has happened since our October edition but the situation for UK citizens living in France has, unfortunately, not become any clearer

High Court rules in Article 50 Case

by Jane Golding, Senior EU Law Specialist

Recently, the High Court in London ruled in one of the most significant UK constitutional law cases for decades. The Court considered an issue central to the process following the EU referendum vote: the triggering of Article 50. The ruling did not, however, concern the result of the EU referendum. The question before the Court was “whether as a matter of UK constitutional law, the Government is entitled to give notice of a decision to the EU under Article 50 by exercise of the Crown’s prerogative powers and without reference

to Parliament.” In other words, is this a decision that the PM and her government can make alone without involving Parliament? All parties to the case, including the Government, accepted that the Court had jurisdiction or the right to rule in this case. In addition, the Government conceded that, once Article 50 is triggered, this notification cannot be withdrawn, and that it is also not possible to give conditional notice under Article 50 i.e. a notice that is qualified by stating that it is subject to parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement that is made during the Brexit negotiations. These are key points because this means that, once Article 50 is triggered, statutory rights of UK citizens under the European Communities Act 1972 will inevitably be lost once the Article 50 withdrawal process is completed. The Court’s decision was that the Government does not have power under the royal prerogative to give notice under Article 50 for the UK to withdraw

from the EU. For an explanation of the detailed reasons for this judgement, see the latest newsletter from ECREU – Expat Citizen Rights in EU. This is a landmark ruling. However, it is not the end of the story, as the Government has been given the right to appeal and to bring a ‘leapfrog’ appeal to the Supreme Court, or an appeal to the Supreme Court without having to go through the Court of Appeal first. This will be heard between 5-8 December with judgement likely in January. To add your voice to the fight to maintain rights for UK citizens in France, join ECREU at www.ecreu.com or on Facebook at Expatrights. For more general information, see britsineurope.org. A supportive group for those who voted to remain can be found on Facebook at RemainInFranceTogether.


Nontron

Brantôme

Riberac

PÉRIGUEUX

DORDOGNE (24)

Bergerac

Montignac

Sarlat-laCanéda

News from around the region...

Tour confirmed

Dordogne

As revealed in the last edition of Living Magazine, the Tour de France has now officially confirmed that its route for 2017 will include three days in Dordogne from the 10-12 July. Riders will arrive at Périgueux from Chambéry by plane on Sunday, 9 July, and rest on Monday. On Tuesday, the riders head for Bergerac racing through Eyzies, Montignac and past the newly opened Lascaux IV along the Dorodgne valley. Eymet is the village départ for Wednesday when the peloton head for Pau in the PyrénéesAtlantiques. The last time the Tour visited the département in 2014, the two million euros invested by local organisations resulted in seven million euros being added to the local economy. www.letour.fr

Fes tive fun

Montpon-Ménestérol

Saint-Paul-la-Roche

Sarlat-le-Canada

Périgueux & Bergerac

26 November Open from 10am to 6pm, this marché de Noel has lots of fun for children and a visit from Santa. 7-31 December Visit this popular Christmas village with nearly sixty chalets and lots of free events organised around an ice rink and carousel at the heart of this picturesque town. This year, the village has a Russian theme.

Périgueux

3-31 December Père Noel drops in regularly to this fair at the heart of the city. Ice rinks, chalets, carriage rides and shows await you before you visit the city’s illuminations. Join the ‘Nuits Magiques aux Flambeaux’ at 7.30pm on 23 December when a circus company will guide you through the medieval streets.

11 December Twilight Association’s Christmas Fair - all proceeds to the dogs’ retirement home. From 10.30am. 13-19 December A festive show for children with plenty of your Disney favourites all in a big top. Cirque de Noël tickets cost 9€ from le-music-hall.fr.

Bergerac 15-24 December

The Village Artisanal de Noël welcomes 35 artisans to Place Cayla. Roasting chestnuts, crêpes and vin chaud plus plenty of free events throughout the town.

Christmas Services

The Chaplaincy of Aquitaine is holding carol services across Dordogne: 8 December: Sainte Nathalène, 5pm 8 December: Montcaret, 7pm 9 December: Ribérac church, 6pm 11 December: Chancelade Abbey, 4pm 11 December: Limeuil, 5pm 14 December: Eymet church, 6pm 16 December: Négrondes, 6pm www.churchinaquitaine.org

Eymet 18 December More than 50 stallholders under the arcades, perfect for any lastminute gifts. Open from 8am-6pm with Santa promising to drop in at 11am and 4pm.

Church renovations

Renovation of the magnificent painted wooden ceiling in the church at Saint-PaulLizonne will start in 2017 following three centuries of insect and fungal damage. Originally painted by Arnaud Paradol in 1689, the 188m2 ceiling consists of 320 wooden planks held in place by forged nails. The central panel bears the dedication ‘à la plus grand gloire de Dieu’ and features the Ecstasy of Saint Paul inspired by the painting by Nicolas Poussin. With only 275 residents in the commune, raising the 680,000€ needed for the specialist renovation has been challenging. Eighty per cent of the cost will be covered by grants with the remaining twenty percent coming from external donations. The renovation work is expected to last for two years.

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Mobile English-speaking banking services, discover our new website monagence-cacp.fr/en or contact us on 0033 (0)545 204 960.

Caisse régionale de Crédit Agricole Mutuel CHARENTE-PERIGORD, société coopérative à capital variable, agréée en tant qu’établissement de crédit, dont le siège social est 28-30 rue d’Epagnac, Soyaux (Charente) - 775 569 726 RCS ANGOULEME - Société de courtage d’assurances immatriculée ORIAS 07 008 428. Crédit photo. C.K Mariot Photography – Fish n’Geek – Création : www.sophie-riche.com - 10/2016

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Thouars

St Jean de

Les

Monts

La Roche sur-Yon

Herbiers y

Chantonna

Bressuire Parthenay

S

VENDÉE (85)

Les Sables d’Olonne

e La Tranch sur Mer

DEUX SEVRE (79) NIORT

St-MaixentL’école Melle

News from around the region...

Luçon (85)

Deux-sèvres & Vendée

Fes tive fun

2-4 December A traditional Christmas market with 50 stalls in the town centre with lots to entertain the whole family.

Les Sables-d’Olonne (85)

3 December Dating back to the 13th century and traditionally the start of Christmas festivities in the town, La Foire aux Voleurs offers over 200 stalls and free entertainment.

Secondigny (79)

3 December Reaction Theatre perform Christmas Cornucopia for one night only – Christmas carols, songs and sketches. Tickets cost 10€.

Doué-la-Fontaine (49)

3-4 December Just a short drive north of Deux-Sèvres, this market is held in the troglodyte caves giving it a magical ambiance. 70 stalls, visits from Santa and more. Over-12s entry costs 4€.

Terves (79)

4 December Christmas Fair hosted by the Combined Services Support Group (CSSG) with mulled wine, mince pies and fish and chips! 11am to 5pm at the Salle des Fêtes.

Niort (79)

4-24 December One of the better city Christmas markets with a good selection of artists and food producers, live events and

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illuminations including projections onto the Donjon each evening until 11pm.

Longeville-sur-Mer (85)

9-11 December Le Grand Marché de Noël has over 80 stalls, lots of free entertainment and a magical atmosphere.

Les Sables-d’Olonne (85)

10 December The 9th edition of La Balade des Pères Noël, the annual costumed motorcycle rally with 1200 bikes, departs at 11am to arrive in La Roche-Sur-Yon at 5.30pm. Entry forms and route details: www.asphalte85.fr

Saint-Maixent-l’Ecole(79)

17 December The annual ‘Faites des Lumières’ lights up the town each year following the day long Christmas market. Compagnie Carabosse will be entertaining the crowds.

Bressuire (79)

19-20 December Visit the illuminations and the market which is open from 10.30am to 8pm on Saturday. For a bird’s eye view, climb the bell tower (reservation required, Sat only). Free concerts and entertainment.

Chez Les Houmeaux (79)

27 December - 10 January (tbc) This tiny hamlet near Lezay goes to town with their illuminations in aid of charity. Started in 1994, the lights are enjoyed by more than 20,000 visitors each year.

Le 4ème Mur

‘The fourth wall’ is an expression stemming from the world of theatre where an imaginary fourth wall serves to separate the world of the characters from that of the audience. Le 4ème Mur festival in Niort celebrates artistic creations in public spaces, mostly wall murals. Over seven years, 25 international artists have created works of art, and twenty frescoes are visible all year round. A map of the murals can be found on the festival website at www. le4ememur.com along with the details of this year’s artists and exhibitions.

Christmas Services

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd: 13 December: Carols at Pompaire church (79), 7pm See www.church-in-france.com All Saints Vendée: 4 December: Christingle Service at Puy de Serre (85), 4pm 11 December: Lessons and Carols at Puy de Serre (85), 11am 18 December: Lessons and Carols at La Chapelle Achard (85), 11am See www.allsaintsvendee.fr


News from around the region...

Vendée Globe PHOTO © B. Stichelbaut/PRB

After our feature in the last edition of Living, we know that many readers went along to see the competitors set sail in early November. In fact, more than 350,000 spectators lined the exit channel and beaches with 1,000 boats enjoying the sunshine and moderate breezes that made it a perfect start. HRH Prince Albert of Monaco sent the 20 skippers away who include Brit Alex Thomson, American Rich Wilson and Enda O’Coineen from Ireland. As we go to press, Armel Le Cléac’h who has come second in the last two Vendée Globe races is in the lead but there is still a long way to go. The winners are expected to return to the Sables d’Olonne towards the end of January or early February - you can keep up to date with all the news at www.vendeeglobe.org/en.

Kissing the sky

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ says the African proverb. “And so much higher!” adds the Campagnie XY. Remaining faithful to their motto, the 22 acrobats battle against gravity in spectacular fashion in their latest show ‘Il n’est pas encore minuit’. Bodies are catapulted from springboards, swirl through the air crossing each other in flight, and landing on each other to form a human tower. Others tumble and clamber performing jaw-dropping acrobatics, all the while dancing to a 1920s lindy hop soundtrack. Catch one of the performances at Le Moulin du Roc, Niort (79) on 5-6 December, or at Le Grand R, La Roche-sur-Yon (85) between 8-10 December.

Le Cadre Noir

A live orchestra, thirty horses and twenty ecuyers are the ingredients for the latest show by the world-renowned Cadre Noir of Saumur, the French National Riding School. For three days, the Vendespace will welcome the troupe who will perform dressage, long-reining, jumping and many other techniques as part of their Christmas gala. Tickets start at 25€ from Vendespace for the shows on 16, 17 and 18 December. vendespace.vendee.fr


Loudon

Chatellerault

POITIERS

VIENNE (86)

Chauvigny Montmorillon

Le Dorat

Charroux Civray

Bellac Nieul

Rochechouart

St-Mathieu

vienne & News from around the region... haute-vienne

Ambazac

LIMOGES

HAUTE-VIENNE (87)

St-Yriex-la-Perche

New Chaplain

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd is welcoming a new chaplain, Adam Boulter, along with wife Beth and their three children. Coming from a mixture of backgrounds with both Anglican and Quaker influences in his spiritual life, he trained as an artist before studying theology and training for ordained ministry in Cambridge. “We are all very excited about living in PoitouCharentes and working with the chaplaincy. My intention for the first six months of my time is to get to know all that goes on in the chaplaincy and particularly all of the congregations, in order that we can discern together the ways in which we are called to grow and deepen as a chaplaincy and serve the wider community.”

2017

Elections

For Living readers who are able to vote in the 2017 presidential elections in France, it is imperative that you are inscribed on the electoral list before the end of the year. To do this, visit your local mairie who will be able to guide you. You will be asked for a piece of identification and a proof of address less than 3 months old. The elections themselves take place on 23 April and 7 May with legislative elections to follow on 11 and 18 June.

Poitiers (86)

Fes n u f tive

26 November – 2 January

As well as the traditional Christmas market, carriage rides, carousel and regular events are planned for centre ville. Don’t miss the Polychromies at l’eglise Notre-Dame-la-Grande.

Limoges (87) 2-31 December

Enjoy the Christmas village, take Le Petit Train to see Santa, go skating or down the luge and discover plenty of free events at this popular destination. Find details at their dedicated website noelalimoges.fr.

Christmas Services

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd: 19 December:

Carols at Civray (86), 7.00pm 25 December:

Service at Genouillé (86), 10.30am. See www.church-in-france.com The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire: 18 December:

Carols at Arçay (86), 5.30pm 25 December:

Service at Arçay (86), 10.30am See www.escoval.org

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Blanzay (86)

Mid December onwards

Visit the church to enjoy the atmospheric nativity scene built over three levels that grows each year. From 9am to 6pm.

Civray (86) 6 December

Association Attitude will be holding their Christmas market from 10am-3pm with proceeds going to local charities.

Château-Larcher (86) 10 December

From 3-11pm, join in the fun around the chateau during the Féerie de Noël. Shows, stalls, nativity scenes and refreshments will entertain both young and old.

Bosmie L’Aiguille (87) 11 December

For an Xmas fair with a difference, visit the Marché de Noël et Foire à l’Orange from 9am-6pm which offers products from the Spanish region of Pédralba alongside more traditional fayre.

Saint-Benoît, Poitiers (86) 14 December

Don your Father Christmas outfit and join in the Course des PèresNoël, a 7.5km fun run to raise money for ‘Un hôpital pour les enfants’. Last year, 1,200 took part!

Saint-Yriex-la-Perche (87) 16-18 December

Starting on Friday at 6pm, this Marché de Noel runs all weekend.

Saint-Savin (86) 18 December

Seasonal children’s entertainment in the historic abbey from 3pm. Un Noel Enchanté costs 4€ per child, adults 1€.

La Souterraine (23) 23 December

Combine some last-minute shopping with a day out in Creuse at this well-known market. With 180 stalls, free animations and a visit from Father Christmas, it’s a great way to get into the festive spirit!


Siren: 449 714 989

All reclamation bought & sold Demolition undertaken Specialists in oak beam Extensive selection of chipboard, CLS stud work and Plywood (internal, external and marine) 50,000 sq ft covered showrooms 1km from Confolens on D952 Mon-Sat 8.30am-6pm non-stop

www.reclamation-yard.com

Hearing aid not working?

6

We can repair it in time for Christmas If you need your hearing aid repaired in time for the festive season send it to us by Friday 9 December and we’ll get it back to you in time for Christmas.

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Helping the Homeless

Helping refugees led Camilla Pomeroy to start looking closer to home where she now supports the homeless in Limoges: “While helping refugees with the group France and Beyond, we started to discuss how to help our homeless here in France at the same time. Following on from the rucksack projects in previous years, I contacted Les Autres, a local association who work with the homeless in Limoges each winter. We were able to provide much needed clothing and other items to help the individuals on the street survive the plummeting temperatures. We now work alongside Les Autres who are very welcoming, joining them every 4-6 weeks to give out help. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience.” Camilla is back helping this year and already has a house full of donations to give out this winter. “If anyone else would like to help the homeless, simply find your local association. The Croix Rouge, Secours Catholique etc. and work with them. It is amazing how generous everyone can be when they know it is going directly to help those in need.”

Hope Shop Hope Association has opened a new charity shop in Eymoutiers (87) run by volunteers. It is open every Saturday, 10am-4pm, as well as the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month from 9am1pm. Browse the items for sale and enjoy a slice of homemade cake knowing it is all for a good cause. 11 avenue de la Paix, 87120 Eymoutiers; email: shopeightyseven4hope@gmail.com.

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living places to visit | 15

Français

La Chasse au Loup, c1600-1610

For six centuries Aubusson’s tapestry workers have produced some of the world’s finest examples of their craft, as we discover at the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie. Words & Photos: Roger Moss Translation: Siddhartha Allégorie de la Musique, c1880

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16 | living places to visit Weaving a contemporary commissioned tapestry

ubusson (23) looks and feels like everyone s slightly fanciful image of bygone France, but recently an altogether more assertive feature has appeared on the skyline. Vertical shafts of pastel colour cascade down the exterior of what appears to be a resolutely contemporary structure, an impression which is reinforced when you step inside. It therefore comes as something of a shock to discover that the building in question is in fact the result of an inspired ‘relooking’ exercise by Parisian achitects Terreneuve, whose design study was selected unanimously by the jury of a competition launched in 2012. The brief essentially involved repurposing the site of the former École Nationale d’Art Décoratif with a new centre in which visitors might discover the town’s proud heritage as a producer of the very highest quality tapestries (in 2009 UNESCO added Aubusson tapestry to its illustrious Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity). It would be much more than merely a museum, however, and would include a reference library plus a training and artistic production centre for a craft-based industry which remains

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very much alive and whose creations are highly sought after. The architects’ inspired response to the challenge was to retain, rather than demolish, the existing structural skeleton of the building while removing most of the internal dividing walls, to permit a more open layout tailored to the client’s requirements. The result combines solid practicality with the kind of understated elegance which never threatens to upstage the works on display. A self-guided visit begins with a grounding in the basics of the various skills involved. Visitors are encouraged to lift a series of woven samples, to reveal an explanation of the stitches, etc., used in the creation of each sample. Understandably less hands-on are some fascinating period archive material by bygone student craftworkers (in some cases with their tutors’ appraisals), which illustrate the clear distinction between the painters who create the original designs and the weavers whose painstaking work subsequently brings them to life in their final form. Particularly revealing are examples of each discipline displayed side by side – miraculous survivors which show the necessity for the original designs to be visualised and drawn in mirror image form, since in most cases the weavers’ work is carried out on the reverse side of

(wall) Blink#0 – Benjamin Hochart, 2010. (floor) Confluentia, Bina Baitel, 2012


living places to visit | 17

Durant six siècles, les ouvriers tapissiers d’Aubusson ont produit quelques-unes des plus belles pièces d’art au monde, qui sont à découvrir à la Cité internationale de la tapisserie. Aubusson (23) ressemble à l’image quelque peu fantasque que tout un chacun se fait de la France d’antan, mais récemment, un élément nettement plus tranchant est apparu à l’horizon. Des rais aux couleurs pastel cascadent sur les façades de ce qui semble être une structure résolument contemporaine, une impression qui se voit confirmée lorsque l’on pénètre à l’intérieur. On s’étonnera donc de découvrir que l’édifice en question est en réalité issu d’un « relooking » inspiré, réalisé par les architectes de l’agence parisienne Terreneuve, dont l’étude conceptuelle fut sélectionnée à l’unanimité par le jury d’un concours lancé en 2012. Le programme visait essentiellement à réhabiliter le site de l’ancienne École nationale d’art décoratif en un nouveau centre dans lequel les visiteurs pourraient découvrir le riche patrimoine de la ville, spécialisée dans la production de tapisseries de la plus haute qualité (en 2009, l’UNESCO a ajouté la tapisserie

d’Aubusson à sa célèbre liste représentative du patrimoine culturel immatériel de l’humanité). Cependant, il s’agirait bien plus que d’un simple musée : il inclurait une bibliothèque de référence ainsi qu’un centre de formation et de production artistique au profit d’une filière artisanale toujours bien vivante et dont les créations sont très prisées. Pour relever ce défi, l’idée inspirée des architectes était de conserver, plutôt que démolir, l’ossature structurelle existante du bâtiment, tout en supprimant la plupart des cloisons intérieures, afin d’offrir un agencement plus ouvert et

adapté aux besoins du client. Le résultat allie une fonctionnalité à toute épreuve et le genre d’élégance discrète qui ne risque en aucun cas de voler la vedette aux œuvres exposées. La visite démarre par une initiation aux rudiments des divers savoir-faire en jeu. Les visiteurs sont invités à soulever une série d’échantillons tissés, pour en révéler la richesse de la trame et en comprendre la fabrication. À l’évidence moins maniables, de fascinantes pièces tissées d’époque, réalisées par d’anciens élèves artisans (avec parfois les appréciations du professeur) et conservées dans

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18 | living places to visit

Lovingly preserved archive material

Manufacture Royale d’Aubusson signature, 18th century

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Trompe l’oeil settings create period context

the finished tapestry. Another technique which becomes apparent involves carefully cutting the edges of adjoining colours of velvet-style work woven on high-warp looms to create a sculptural ‘relief’ effect (a familiar feature of oriental carpets), while a full-size loom with a partially completed work adds further insight into a process which has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Obviously, nothing compares to seeing the weavers at work, so at set times each day visitors have the opportunity to do just that, see a commissioned tapestry slowly taking shape and to discuss the processes involved. Despite the weavers’ practised dexterity, it’s immediately clear that each work typically takes many months of patient and highly disciplined dedication to complete, which explains the uniqueness and high intrinsic value of the end result. An Aubusson tapestry is a thing of great beauty, and possessing one (let alone commissioning your own design) has always required considerable outlay. This, along with some highly-skilled restoration work, goes some way to explaining the miraculous survival of many landmark examples to dazzle us today with their beauty and complexity. The Cité’s own collection of Aubusson tapestries is displayed in a vast space known as la Nef des Tentures (Nave of Tapestries), alongside important examples on temporary loan from collections elsewhere. The earliest work depicts a unicorn holding the Chabanne family coat of arms against a foliated background and dates from 1480-1510, making it the earliest known work from the local Marche province (most of which became the département of Creuse after the French Revolution). Subsequent works in the Nave span the period up to the late-20th century, and at the time of our visit included designs by influential artists such as Braque, Calder, Ernst, Le Corbusier, Léger, Lurçat, Picasso and Vasarely. Since the works were produced to fulfil


living places to visit | 19 Renaud et Armide – wall hangings, 17th century

les archives de la Cité, illustrent la nette tapisserie. Puis on découvre une autre distinction qui existe entre les peintres qui technique, adaptée aux œuvres de style créent les modèles d’origine et les lissiers velours tissées en haute lisse, qui consiste dont le travail minutieux donne ensuite vie à effectuer un ciselage délicat à la jonction à leur forme finale. Des exemples de chaque entre deux couleurs afin de créer un effet discipline présentés côte à côte s’avèrent de « relief » sculpté (courant dans les tapis particulièrement révélateurs : ces survivants orientaux), alors qu’un métier à tisser miraculés montrent la nécessité de visuagrandeur nature présentant une œuvre partiellement terminée permet de mieux liser et de réaliser les dessins originaux en imageBrochure_print#5.pdf miroir, vu que dans la2plupart des cas, comprendre ce processus de fabrication qui 01/09/16 18:45 le tissage s’effectue sur l’envers de la future n’a guère changé depuis des siècles.

Bien entendu, rien n’égale le fait de voir les lissiers à l’œuvre, alors chaque jour à certaines heures précises, les visiteurs ont la possibilité de voir une tapisserie prendre lentement forme, et de parler du processus concerné. Malgré la grande dextérité des lissiers, on se rend immédiatement compte que la réalisation de chaque composition requiert habituellement de nombreux mois de dévouement patient et d’extrême rigueur, ce qui explique le caractère unique

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20 | living places to visit 19th century upholstery

different functions from carpets and wall-hangings to embroidered upholstery, the display setting is not that of a conventional gallery but is more representative of the original surroundings in which they would have been found. Thus we find an almost theatrical room-set approach using trompe l’œil effects to evoke a fitting grandeur to large, early works. Many are accompanied by tablet-style displays offering zoom facilities and more detailed information, enabling visitors to tailor the visit to their own level of interest. Not that the experience is all about looking back. The Cité also has dedicated display areas for works by contemporary designers nudging their art in new directions (and raising an occasional smile from unsuspecting visitors). Clearly, Aubusson’s new Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie is about much more than celebrating an illustrious past.

Opening hours September to December, February to June: 9h30-12h, 14h-18h. Closed Tues. July and Aug: Wed to Mon 10h-6h, Tues 14h-18h.

CLOSED JANUARY! Entry: Adults 7€; under-25s/over-65s 5€; under-18s free. See www.cite-tapisserie.fr for details of guided visits. Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie, Rue des Arts, 23200 Aubusson

Millefleurs à La Licorne c1480-1510

et la très grande valeur intrinsèque du résultat final. Une tapisserie d’Aubusson est un objet d’une rare beauté, et en posséder une (sans parler de commander votre propre modèle) a toujours exigé de formidables moyens financiers. Cela, ainsi qu’un travail de restauration d’expert, explique en partie la miraculeuse survie de nombreuses pièces historiques qui nous éblouissent aujourd’hui par leur beauté et leur complexité. La Cité expose sa propre collection de tapisseries d’Aubusson dans un immense espace appelé la Nef des tentures, aux côtés d’importants modèles prêtés temporai-

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rement, en provenance d’autres collections. L’œuvre la plus ancienne représente une licorne portant les armes de la famille de Chabanne sur un décor végétal et date de 1480-1510, ce qui en fait la plus ancienne des tapisseries de la Marche (ancienne province dont la plus grande partie forma le département de la Creuse après la Révolution française) connues à ce jour. La nef abrite d’autres œuvres couvrant la période allant jusqu’à la fin du XXe siècle ; au moment de notre visite, elle exposait des compositions tissées d’après des artistes influents tels que Braque, Calder, Ernst, Le Corbusier, Léger, Lurçat, Picasso et Vasarely. Dans la mesure où les œuvres ont été produites pour remplir différentes fonctions, allant du tapis et de la tapisserie murale jusqu’à la tapisserie d’ameublement, le cadre d’exposition se démarque de celui d’une galerie classique et s’apparente plus à

l’environnement d’origine dans lequel on les rencontrait. Ainsi, la scénographie, avec ses décors en trompe-l’œil inspirés du théâtre, s’accorde à la splendeur de ces compositions monumentales des premières heures. Beaucoup s’accompagnent de tablettes multimédia offrant la possibilité de zoomer sur des aspects techniques et d’accéder à des informations détaillées, permettant ainsi aux visiteurs d’adapter la visite selon leurs propres intérêts. Non pas que la Cité soit simplement tournée vers le passé : elle dispose également de zones d’exposition pour les œuvres de designers contemporains explorant de nouvelles directions artistiques (et faisant occasionnellement sourire des visiteurs insouciants). De toute évidence, la nouvelle Cité internationale de la tapisserie fait bien plus que célébrer un illustre passé.


living living travel travel || 23 21

Flying South We join Helen Aurelius-Haddock as she makes her annual migration to find the sun…

Ximo beach in Alicante

S

ome may call me a fair weather girl as I am happiest when the sun shines in France. However, when I swing the shutters open on a cold January morning, and see the frost painting pictures on the panes, I can’t say that I am gripped with enthusiasm. It’s true that France holds a certain je ne sais quoi in the cooler seasons, offering the delights of truffle hunting, wine foires and the like. Overall though, my gut reaction is to close the doors against the elements, hunker down, and wait for Spring. Born in Wales, I am well used to a four season climate, spending forty plus years in an above average rainfall zone. That said, even here in France, I hate those feelings of being stuck in the house when it gets dark at five in the afternoon, and having to close the shutters to Castilla La Mancha

Tabernas Desert in Almería Province

the world outside until a (very) late daybreak the next day. Yes, that’s winter. However, the colder time of year doesn’t have to be like this. There are solutions, and for me, they are a car ride away. Our American cousins, particularly in the north, have for years been taking flight to the sun belt across the warmer states of Texas, Nevada, Florida and even Mexico, setting up home there to sit out the winter in much warmer conditions. They are copying the behaviour of our winged friends who shiver around a frozen bird bath in our gardens until it’s time to fly to south, and these intrepid people are called snowbirds. They are growing in

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22 | living travel Bardenas Desert in Navarra

number every year both in Europe and the USA, and I have joined their ranks. The journey is not for the faint hearted. Depending on where you pitch up, it can be a thousand miles or more, which is not exactly a trip to the local supermarket. It requires careful planning, to include shared drivers and overnight stops. That said, the road trip is a memorable one, taking in some of the best landscapes on Earth. The stunning moonscapes of the Bardenas Desert in Navarra, the snow-capped Sierra Nevada, Don Quixote country in Castilla La Mancha and the Costa del Ahazar below Valencia, with its thousands of orange-laden trees lining your route down to the sea. It is indeed a beautiful country for a road trip. Soon though, the grass disappears, the terrain gets sandy, and the trees of northern Europe give way to more Mojácar houses

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exotic vegetation - cacti, laden with prickly pears, and others as high as trees looking like they have come straight off a Western movie. They may well have, since the Tabernas Desert in Almería Province is home to over two hundred films, of which the Sergio Leone productions were some of the first. You are in Andalucía, home of Lorca, Flamenco, the Spaghetti Western and the infinite blue of the Mediterranean. Camping cars are not unknown on the road down, and I have seen many sporting French plaques d’immatriculation so somehow the secret is already out that this is the place to be when it’s cold in Cahors, drizzling in Dieppe or snowing in Saumur. What is striking on arrival are the tens of thousands of holiday homes, used for a few weeks a year in summer, shuttered up and left empty until they

open up the following year. People here have grasped the nettle and set up property management companies to encourage owners to let their homes to the flock of snowbirds arriving in the area, and as they say, share the love. Many wannabe snowbirds may be concerned over price - surely a few months in the sun would be way past their budget? Not in the slightest! Rentals can be found for around four hundred euros a month, with many offering discounts for longer stays. Services are extra, but this can be easily offset by the lack of usage back home. As a general rule, the low cost season starts on 1st October, and runs to 31st May. Prices drop to about a quarter of high season tariffs, simply because there is little or no market for rental in the milder months. The working population in Europe is geared to


living travel | 23 holidays in the summer time by and large, with school holidays dominating the demand in July and August. The entire length of the Costa del Sol is at your disposal, and some even venture up as far as Alicante, Valencia and Benidorm, depending on the type of break they want. We nest in a small village of San Juan de los Terreros, and it is the easternmost village in Andalucia. There are other places - Águilas, Villaricos, Mojácar, and the rugged delights of Pozo del Esparto are all on offer, as are many more. Supply easily outstrips demand, keeping prices low, so there is no fear of not getting a place to stay, although

Snow-capped Sierra Nevada

Richard Clark of San Juan Holidays says: “The number of winter rentals for people escaping the weather in northern Europe has quadrupled over the last five years. So many of our clients have decided to escape from the colder temperatures of Belgium,

Valencia coastline

Holland and elsewhere, allowing them to use this location as a base to explore the lovely villages and coastline of Almería.” Given the average age of some of my fellow snowbirds, I would imagine that nobody would be disappointed if the local nightclub is closed for the season when they get here. Other businesses pull up their shutters too, but there is always a good selection of beach side bars, restaurants, shops and other amenities to ensure your stay is seamless in every way. Health centres, chemists, beauty salons, hairdressers, health spas, vets and even kennels are all within reach, making it a home from home experience. Depending on the rental you take, animals are welcome, so pets can tag along for the ride too. So, if you live in France, why not just pack up your saddles and ride out? Health benefits are untold… gentle beach walks, the warmer weather easing aching bones, and the extra sunlight will fend off the winter blues. So, what more could you ask of a winter break? Not a lot I imagine.

13th century Castillo de Aguilas

Helen Aurelius-Haddock has lived in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region since 2004. A member of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists, she is currently writing her first novel based on life in rural France. Find out more at helenaureliushaddock.wordpress.com.

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24 | living motoring

Expect the unexpected at the Musée Dufresne, near Tours

Remember an age when things often moved at a more leisurely pace? Then you’ll love visiting some of the region’s historic motor collections. Photos & Words: Roger Moss

Militaria at the Musée Dufresne

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hen it comes to taking to the open road France has always had a penchant for doing it in style, so over the years the French motor industry has obliged with some distinctly ‘out there’ designs – stylish answers to everyday needs. It’s therefore surprising to discover just how many of them have somehow slipped from our collective consciousness – until, that is, we come face to face with them again and find ourselves smiling fondly as half-forgotten memories suddenly come flooding back. Cars are like that. They get into your blood in a way that few other possessions can, unless of course you’re into cycles, motorcycles, scooters, tractors, Jeeps, commercial vehicles, fire engines... each to his/her own. Whatever your passion, you can be sure that wheeled temptation is still out there just waiting to be snapped up, tucked away in a safe place, tended


living motoring | 25

1917 Indian Powe r Plus, Celle-sur-Bell e

THIS PHOTO & LEFT: More of the Musée Dufresne’s vast collection

“Inside a 10,000m2 former paper factory lie a 1950s double-decker London bus and a wagon-mounted Revolution-era guillotine..” lovingly and taken out from time to time for the pleasure of reliving a bygone age of motoring. For many people, though, it doesn’t stop there. Sooner or later another tempting find comes along, and then another, at which point they’re becoming un collectionneur. Since one of the pleasures in having interesting things about which you care passionately is showing them off for others to admire, some more serious collectors decide to formalise things and open a museum. You can see the results of just that philosophy in the most surprising places, so to help

F1 grid line-up, Espace Matra, Romorantin

you track them down we decided to celebrate some of the more interesting collections in and around the region. We’ll begin in the north, just across the border from northern Vienne at Marnay. The attraction here is an astonishing collection amassed during a lifetime’s obsessive collecting by a former scrap-dealer who stockpiled steam road-rollers, traction engines, a WWII tank, a curious tractor which hauled coquillages in the Bay of Arcachon, a German E-boat and much more. Inside a 10,000m2 former paper factory lie a 1950s double-decker London bus, a wagon-mounted Revolution-era guillotine (discovered in a

cellar in Tours), countless vintage tractors, a 1909 Bleriot monoplane, a 1911 road-sweeping truck from Boulogne, plus an immaculate 1927 Renault which spent WWII concealed beneath hay in a barn. It adds up to over 500 restored vehicles. www.musee-dufresne.com.

Another key destination for motor enthusiasts is Saumur, near Tours, which has not one but two collections. The first is the Musée des Blindés, where over 200 tanks, troop carriers, artillery vehicles, etc., reveal armoured vehicle development during the 20th century. www.museedesblindes.fr. Similarly esoteric is the Musée du Moteur, devoted to the remarkable history of the internal combustion engine. The mostly functioning exhibits powered everything from aircraft, boats, cars, and motorcycles to tanks, generators, agricultural equipment and even an Ariane space launcher. www.museedumoteur.fr. Further east at RomorantinLanthenay is the Espace Automobiles Matra, whose historic motor racing collection is displayed in a high-tech setting which once assembled Beaulieu cine cameras. Also displayed are concept vehicles developed by the company’s renowned stylists and engineers, not least variations

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26 | living motoring (including a roadster) on the Espace, an idea which Peugeot rejected. Renault, however, turned it into a huge success, and for many years the Matra company assembled them in Romorantin. www.museematra.com

Further west between Les Sables d’Olonne and Talmont Saint Hilaire lies the Musée Automobile de Vendée established by pioneer in motoring preservation, car dealer Gaston Giron. After saving a 1910 Peugeot Lion from being scrapped in 1939 he started buying and restoring others he’d Renault Espace Roadst er design study, Espace Ma tra

“Château de Vernon’s former stables now contain not carriages but a dazzling collection of around fifty desirable saloons, cabriolets, coupés & sports cars.” dreamed of as a child. His family shared his passion for motoring history and today the collection comprises around 150 cars, motorcycles, cycles and period automobilia. Retro pedal cars, a reconstruction of Gaston Giron’s original garage and more evoke the golden age of motoring, French-style. www.musee-auto-vendee.com

There’s another major collection in Châtellerault, where a stylish iron-framed former munitions manufacturing complex now houses the 3,000m2 exhibition area of the town’s celebrated Musée Auto Moto Vélo. The museum reveals how in little over a century cars, motorcycles and cycles have not only transformed our perceptions of time and space, but also left their imprint on both our environment and the landscape. The collection’s own history can be traced

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F: 05 45 70 43 70

E: agence.atkins@axa.fr Grand’Rue 16380 Marthon

to one man - Count Bernard de Lassée, an automobile enthusiast who represented France in the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens, and who in 1969 decided to reverse the decline of the disused factory workshops by installing his automobile collection and opening it to the public. After his death the town purchased most of the vehicles, began a painstaking restoration of the historic buildings and in 1998 launched the Musée Auto Moto Vélo. Today the collections chart the period from the first cycles, via motorcycles and cars, etc., right up to today’s electric vehicles, supported by components, accessories, posters and documentary archives. www.alienor.org/musees Another, rather more homely labour of love will be a familiar sight to travellers on the RN10 between Bed and Breakfast Chambre d’Hôtes

Chez Anne 2 rue des Rentes St-Même les Carrières (Jarnac 5 km)

Tel:05 45 82 07 87 3 épis

Gîtes de France

annecasey@wanadoo.fr www.chez-anne.net


Futuroscope and Poitiers. The Musée Populaire Chez Manuel was founded over fifty years ago by commercial traveller Manuel Ribeiro, whose journeys throughout France inspired him to collect once-commonplace objects from a bygone age and preserve them for future generations. His son and daughter-in-law inherited his passion and the Aladdin’s Cave-style collection which today fills three large display areas. It encompasses just about everything from household objects to cars, motorcycles and even a US-made Sikorsky helicopter. If you crave total immersion in French nostalgia, this is for you. www.musee-chez-manuel.com A more sporting theme underpins the Musée de l’Automobile at the elegant 17th century Château de Vernon, southwest of Poitiers. The chateau’s former stables now contain not carriages but a dazzling collection of fifty or so desirable saloons, cabriolets, coupés and sports cars. There’s a handful of vehicles from the 1920s/30s, but the real stars of this particular show are classics from the 1950s up to the present day. They include Italian exotica from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati, British classics like Aston Martin, Austin Healey, Bentley, Daimler, Jaguar and MG, German Porsches, French creations like Alpine and Facel Vega, plus American muscle from Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. For any true petrolhead it’s stirring stuff.

Matra M530 coupés and (below R) F1 memorabilia, Espace Matra. Below L: Panhard EBR Scout Vehicle, Saumur Cavalry Memorial

living motoring | 19

www.tourisme-vienne.com

Further west in Deux-Sèvres a couple of more modest museums are a magnet for motorcyclists. Beside Celle-surBelle’s vast Abbaye Royal is the Musée Pierre Certain, which brings together some of the 200-plus motorcycles from the collection of a local mechanic and lifelong enthusiast with others amassed by fellow collector Michel Lopez. Classics

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28 | living motoring

Vintage fairground ride, Musée Dufresne, near Tours

London Green Line bus, Musée Dufresne

Trial bikes and scramblers, Celle-sur-Belle

from BSA, Rudge, Norton, BMW, etc., include some fascinating rarities from Harley Davidson and Nimbus. www.musee-motos-cellessurbelle.fr

The nearby town of Melle is home to the Collection Monet Goyon. For 45 years the Gagnaire family collected and restored examples of this little-known French marque from Mâcon. Forty or so machines dating from the 1930s-50s are beautifully displayed, along with a preserved 1930s workshop. www.musee-monet-goyon.fr

Proof that there’s something for everyone is to be found in northern Charente at Saint-Maurice-des-Lions, where a remarkable collection of fire-fighting vehicles owned by the Association L’Autopompe Limousin Poitou-Charentes is preserved beneath a giant hangar. The earliest vehicle dates from 1907 and is still in working order, while its numerous less-venerable companions often take to the road each summer to make welcome appearances at events in and around the region. www.magregion.

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fr/les-camions-de-pompiers-fonttoujours-rever

Moving further south to the Dordogne, 8km south of Bergerac we find the Musée Automobile du Château de Sanxet, where the atmospheric displays include treasures from AC, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Cord, Delahaye, Jowett, Lotus, Panhard & Levassor and many more. While you’re there you can also enjoy a dégustation of the estate’s wines. www.sanxet.com In the Lot Valley Benoit Jouclar has assembled one of the largest museum collections in south west France at the Musée Agricole et Automobile de Salviac. The exhibits include cars, motorcycles, tractors and farm implements, a faithful reconstruction of a traditional home from our great-grandparents’ era and more besides. www.musee-agricole-salviac.com

Finally, there’s a new attraction in Basque country, thanks to Porsche enthusiast Henri Parent. Like his guests at the 5-star Auberge Ostapé near

Bidarray, you can visit a very special collection of eighteen exceptional examples, all in pristine condition and lovingly cosseted for their fortunate owners in palatial surroundings, formerly the estate’s stables. www.ostape.com/en/page/accueil

Now all that remains is for you to go and enjoy some of these remarkable collections - but do check opening times and dates before you set off, as some require advance notice of your visit over the winter period.


living WILDLIFE | 29

Turning The Tide

Sadly we say au revoir to Chris Luck, as he takes a break from his regular wildlife feature. Before he goes he casts an eye over the changes he has witnessed while living in la France profonde…

A

ll things come to an end, and with some sadness as with any passing, it’s time for me to say goodbye to Living Magazine, at least on a regular basis. I’ve enjoyed writing for it since its original launch nearly nine years ago and for me it’s been a learning experience in more ways than I could begin to mention. Since we moved to France in 1995 so much has happened to our environment and the species which inhabit it that I would like to take this opportunity to share a few reflections on where there have been gains and losses during this period, and where I see glimmers of hope for the future. One thing that is clear is that the losses to our environment and the species that inhabit it have far outweighed any gains, with the overall trend being down – leaving

many species increasingly confined to small pockets or simply hanging on here and there in much reduced numbers. I know only too well that many people moving here from the UK find this hard to take on board. First and indeed lingering impressions for many are often of open landscapes with an abundance of space, buzzards soaring in summer or on posts in winter, and of woodlands, vineyards and sunflowers which create the illusion that all is well in a rural paradise. The facts, though, tell a different story, with agricultural practices being the main cause of habitat destruction. Pesticide use and heavy equipment also have a major impact. It should also be mentioned – and I know this won’t sit well with some people – that the increase in land being what is euphemistically called ‘improved’ for horses and sheep is also taking its toll. Starting with birds, those that are

usually defined as ‘farmland birds’ have suffered the greatest declines in numbers, with even Greenfinches and Goldfinches now classified as vulnerable in France. Birds such as Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting are almost in population freefall and the Ortolan Bunting is added to the French Red List as endangered here. Even the common House Sparrow is in decline. The struggle to maintain small populations of Little Bustard and Corncrake continue in protected areas, as do efforts to sustain Hen and Montague’s Harrier numbers, (this year was actually kind to them and other birds which nest in the cereals, as the unusually poor spring and early summer weather delayed harvesting, allowing young birds to avoid being chopped up by the harvesters). Many

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34 | living WILDLIFE 30

Yellowhammer Little Bustard

European Otter

of the end of some fairly disgusting practices, including the widespread injecting these poisons into chicken eggs, which were then left out to be found by scavenging creatures. Many other species will also have benefitted from these bans but there are still illegal sources for these and other banned lars have also declined, and of course substances, including some used by bee there has been a massive reduction of keepers against disease in their hives native plants, with many species again restricted to small local protected areas. – but that’s another story. The situation with Salmon is improving as the It’s common knowledge that we have changes made in opening up the river lost perhaps 90–95% of our historical wild flower hay meadows and in excess barrages with salmon passages and eel ramps increasingly show their usefulof 50% of our wetlands. ness. Greater protection of remaining Increasing traffic is also responsible for a huge number of deaths across the wetland has improved the situation for many species which use such habitats, board; birds, bats, mammals, amphibincluding birds like Bluethroat, White ians, insects – in fact everything that Stork, Squacco Heron and Spoonbill. moves. Woodland species are generally doing Encouraging signs well, as there have been few changes There have, however, been some gains of any substance other than perhaps a and it’s important to note and undermore heavy-handed approach to felling. stand how these have come about. They Although this is good, the number of mainly concern the focussing of attenspecies it accounts for is relatively quite tion and resources on our waterways small. (rivers, streams and canals) and their What of the future? It would be easy immediate surroundings. The Otter, to be pessimistic, and there’s no doubt once pushed to the brink of extinction, that there is every reason to be. Climate can now be found again throughout change is a reality, whatever individuals all the rivers and streams of the region may think about the causes, and will inand the European Beaver goes from creasingly impact on the environment, strength to strength in the River Loire other species and how we manage food and all its tributaries. production, because food production is Pine Marten and Stone Marten, at the heart of the matter. Other than although still persecuted, continue to climate change the two major pressures benefit from the banning of Strychnine on the environment and our wildlife are in 1999 and the banning of Atrazine pesticides as a group along with meat in 2004, which marked the beginning and poultry consumption, and there’s

will already be aware of the decline in Swallows, House Martins, Swifts and Barn Owls principally as a result of losing their respective nesting places in or on buildings. Amphibians, predominantly the more habitat-specific species, continue to suffer, with many in decline as small ponds are either filled in or are poorly managed. Needless to say, most snake species are continuing a decline resulting from habitat destruction and persecution, which continues despite all but the Vipers having fully-protected status. Overall insect decline is hard to assess but it’s generally accepted that there has been (and continues to be) a serious decline in a large number of species, and this is certainly true in the case of Bumble bees and solitary bees, with some species being more in trouble than others. These all result from a combination of pesticide use and loss of nest site habitat, whether on the ground or in walls of buildings which are being rendered or pointed. Many species of butterfly and moth which depend on specific native plants for their caterpil-

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For more cartoons by Stig see www.artisart.com

“What of the future? It would be easy to be pessimistic, and there’s no doubt that there is every reason to be. Climate change is a reality.”


White Storks

living WILDLIFE | 31

Pine Martin

Ortolan Bunting

encouraging news on both fronts. A fairly rapidly increasing number of people, especially younger people, are either greatly reducing their meat intake or are becoming vegetarian or vegan. This in turn should reduce the demand for crops which are produced principally for the animal feedstuffs industry (and to a lesser extent for direct farm use). It may come as some surprise to know that the animal feed industry is the greatest single user of cereal production in France and that the majority of the animals it feeds are kept in industrial or semi-industrial units. The crops themselves are not only useless or as good as useless for other species, but in most cases extremely detrimental to the environment. Another area which offers great hope for the future is the rapid growth in the

Grass Snake

consumption of organic (bio) produce, and the number of people who are producing it at a local level, selling in the markets and from their premises, plus the massive increase in both range and availability in most of the major supermarkets, who have clearly seen the potential market and are competing vigorously. I should also mention that our region of Nouvelle Aquitaine is launching a regional plan for a sustainable reduction of pesticide use in agriculture. They have recognised the undisputed evidence of the harm being caused to the environment and to human health, both the people who work with them or live in close proximity to where they are used, and of course the consumer. Although this isn’t ideal, and may result in slow progress, any attempt at reduc-

tion has to be applauded. Space being restricted, this is inevitably no more than an indication of where we are, and leaves out many other human activities which are harming our wildlife and environment, to concentrate on the big issues. This magazine by its very nature can’t be used as a platform for a wide-ranging critique of the manner in which we are destroying the countryside and the species with whom we share it. What I can say with all my heart is that it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have been given the opportunity to write and share my articles here. As a result, I have made many friends and met many lovely people, and I hope we can all try to modify our lifestyles just a little to help turn the tide and create a better world. Thank you.

For more cartoons by Stig see www.artisart.com

Chris Luck runs two websites, www.wildlifeinfrance.com and www.planetepassion.eu, packed with information about animal and plant species in France, plus a blog about wildlife and bee-keeping in a natural, non-intrusive manner.

www.livingmagazine.fr www.livingmagazine.fr | 32


32 | living family

Avec les enfants

It’s beginning to look a lot ! like Christmas As December dawns the festive season is once again upon us but there is a little less commercialism about the holidays in France compared to the UK and the USA. However, walk through any town or village and I challenge you not to stop and marvel at the incredible works of yuletide art on

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display in the boulangeries. As with so many things in France, everything during this holiday season occurs at a much slower pace. Here, Christmas is definitely for families, and unless you happen to know a lot of ‘expats’ you probably won’t be going to endless parties as it’s a relatively quiet time - the French can even seem quite insular to outsiders. Look closely though, and one will see that although the fine details of traditions may differ, Christmas in France outside the big cities is a time of special choral services in churches, parties in the salle des fêtes, and primary schools acting out les spectacles for old people’s homes. At midnight on Christmas Eve every household in France is wide awake as they celebrate, devouring traditional seafood platters and exchanging gifts into the very small hours. Christmas day itself is therefore relatively quiet, and villages remain somewhat deserted except for the squeal of excited children on new bikes and skateboards.

Christmas in our household comes in two flavours. We always share gifts with our neighbours in their home, so in effect we have a ‘French’ Christmas with them a couple of days before the ‘British’ one on the 25th; this allows them time to prepare for their big meal on the night of the 24th, and it allows us time to pull things together for ours. Our ‘French Christmas’ next door will be suitably festive and quite traditional; there will be champagne beside a roaring fire, an exchange of presents carefully retrieved from under the tree and much chatter from excited children as we devour oysters and an array of shellfish. Their table will be beautifully decorated, and their house will look stunning with a vast amount of tiny sparkling lights. Our ‘British Christmas’ centres around a traditional lunch with two delicious small roasted turkeys - we have found it impossible to obtain the


living family | 33

Rochefort Festivities

large 10kg monsters available in the UK. After that we will spend an afternoon creating memories of crackling fires, shredded wrapping paper and certain people snoozing on sofas with small dogs. This passage of play is very British. Then matters change somewhat with Boxing Day. In France, the 26th is just another day and many people go back to work, but we always invite French and British friends to a lunch that includes at least some turkey soup, a crusty baguette, perhaps a salad with cooked ham, some cheese and a trifle! It’s something we have so enjoyed sharing with the locals who have come to wholeheartedly embrace the British tradition and it’s fun to find that just as we enjoy so many French customs, so they enjoy ours too. As a family, one of the things we all love most about this time of year here is the ice skating rink the city installs in the Place Colbert in Rochefort. For the whole of December and half of January, the large open square becomes a winter wonderland; the two restaurants at either end do a roaring trade as crowds of people sit outside cradling steaming mugs of chocolat

chaud in cold hands, their breath puffing white in the cold frosty air. Several evenings are reserved for fabulous shows put on by ice skating schools, and we have stood and watched many a classic story, such as the Nutcracker, played out on the flood lit ice. All around the square, small wooden chalets sell local specialties; the little huts are decorated quite simply amongst a spread of imported fir trees, and the scene is awash with tiny twinkling white lights; the effect is quite magical. There’s a wonderfully relaxed French holiday season feeling that carries us through into the New Year, awash with hope and good cheer. It’s a stunning reminder of just how much we love living in France.

Susan, husband Roddy and their five children live close to the coast in the CharenteMaritime where she shares her experiences on her popular blog at www.OurFrenchOasis.com.

Combined Services Support Group (CSSG)

Marché de Noël

Christmas Market

Sunday 27 November Golf de Saint-Junien (87)

Tombola Fish & Chips Mulled Wine & Minced Pies

From 11am to 5pm Sunday 4 December Terves Salle des Fêtes

Free entry To benefit Les Restos du Cœur and SSAFA France

11am to 5pm - free entry

Artisanal and Food Market Sale of seasonal refreshments all day long Music and face-painting Free golf trial

Two open-air ice rinks, a main 1000m2 rink plus a 100m2 rink for the little ones, open from Saturday 3 December to Sunday 8 January. Opening hours change with school hours so do check the website for details. The ice rinks are open on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Entry and skates cost 5€, 3€ for the under-8s. See www.rochefort-ocean.com. The Galapuat Cirque are coming to town from Saturday 3 to Wednesday 7 December with five performances of their show Château Descartes scheduled under a big top. Five acrobats and 200 school chairs combine to make a show to remember. Adults 22.50€, under-26s 16€ and under-11s 4.50€. For more details see www.rochefort-ocean.com. For ballet and opera lovers, Apollo 8 Ciné has several world-class treats in store. On 10 December, the New York Metropolitan Opera perform ‘Love from Afar’ by Kaija Saariaho. A live recording of the Bolshoi ballet dancing ‘The Nutcracker’ will thrill the audience on 21 December before a return to New York for Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ on 7 January with Placido Domingo singing the lead role. www. apollocine 8.fr

Manoir de Longeveau

An Evening With

Marché de Noël Sunday 4 Dec 10h-17h

Phoenix Chorale & the Fun Choir

Golf d’Aubeterre (16)

Gift ideas Classic Cars Christmas Carols Regional Products Christmas Decorations Horse & Carriage Rides Gingerbread House workshop! Mulled Wine, Mince Pies Between St Séverin & Aubeterre

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Tuesday 13th December 7.00pm La Baronniere (86) between Charroux & Civray Seasonal Music with Mince Pies & Mulled Wine

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34 | living nikki legon’s cuisine Mushroom Soup

cuisine NikkiLegon’s

With friends and family arriving for the festive season, Nikki Legon shares some scrumptious recipes to inspire your entertaining…

Mushroom Soup The secret to this rich soup is to cook the mushrooms slowly on a low heat, this gives so much more flavour.

60g unsalted butter glug of olive oil 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed pinch of salt 1 white onion, diced pinch of salt 1kg mushrooms, sliced 1½ tbsp of plain flour 1.5l chicken or veg stock Optional 100ml cream pine nuts truffle oil

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METHOD Add the butter and a glug of olive oil to a pan with the garlic and onion. Stir for 1 minute, lower the heat and add the mushrooms. Season with salt then cook for around 30 minutes. Add the flour and mix well. Add the stock before slowly blending in the flour. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Cool, then place into a blender and blend to a smooth mix. Season to taste and return to the pan to reheat before serving. If using, add the cream, sprinkle with pine nuts and add a swirl of truffle oil.

Fig, Caramelised Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart Pastry case 250g plain flour


living nikki legon’s cuisine | 35 Roast Goose

Fig, Caramelised Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart

125g unsalted diced cold butter 2 egg yolks large pinch of salt very cold water if needed Filling 6 white onions, sliced finely 4 goat’s cheese logs 1 handful crushed walnuts 5 or 6 figs depending on size honey to drizzle METHOD Put the flour and butter into a large baking bowl, rub the butter and flour together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolks and pinch of salt, and using a knife stir together. Roll into a ball, if the pastry feels dry add a touch of water. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before rolling out. Using a 23cm flan dish, line the dish with the pastry and place in the fridge for 30 minutes before blind baking for 20 minutes. Any additional pastry can be frozen for another time. Cook the onions in a little oil and butter for around 40 minutes until golden. Line the base of the tart with the onions. Cut each goat’s cheese into 4 and sit around the tart facing upwards. Crumble the walnuts over and top with the halved figs, skin side down. Place a round of cooking parchment over the top of the tart and cook for 10 minutes at 190°C. Removing

the parchment, drizzle with a little runny honey and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Classic Roast Goose with Cider Gravy For the goose 5kg oven-ready goose 1 onion, peeled and quartered 3 bay leaves sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the stock goose giblets 1 onion, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 celery stick, chopped 3 bay leaves crushed 3 branches of thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme salt and pepper For the apple and sage stuffing 2 onions, finely chopped 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into quarters 1 tsp caster sugar 2 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves the goose liver 100g fresh white breadcrumbs 500g sausage meat salt and pepper

For the apples 6 red apples, halved METHOD Take the goose out of the fridge 2 hrs before cooking. Remove the large lobes of fat just at the opening of the cavity and render down over a low heat. Remove the giblets, neck and wing tips and chop into small pieces. Heat the oven to 200°C. Place the goose on a rack over a large roasting tin and prick with a skewer a few times down each side just below the wing. Season well with salt and pepper. Put the quartered onion and 3 bay leaves into the body cavity and cover the legs with folded triangles of foil, roast for one hour. Remove the roasting tin and carefully drain the fat into a heatproof bowl. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Cook the goose for a further hour, removing the foil after 30 minutes from the legs. Baste the goose regularly. To test when the goose is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer then press the skewer against

For the cider gravy 2 heaped tbsp plain flour 300ml of giblet stock 250ml dry cider

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Roasted Veal Rib 36 | living nikki legon’s cuisine

the leg, if it runs clear it is cooked. Cover with a double layer of foil to rest for 30 minutes. For the stock, chop the giblets and neck into small pieces and add to a large saucepan. Finely chop the carrot, celery stick and onion, 3 bay leaves, 3 thyme stems and season with salt and pepper. Pour over 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered for 1 hour. Cover with a lid for the final 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a measuring jug. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C. For the stuffing, heat 2 tbsp of the reserved goose fat in a large frying pan and fry the onions for 5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Scatter the apple into the pan with the onion and sprinkle with sugar. Cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chopped goose liver, cook a further 2 minutes and set aside to cool. Stir the breadcrumbs, sausage meat and sage into the cooled onion mixture, season well. Grease a 20cm shallow baking tin and spoon the stuffing in. Brush the cut side of the apples with a little goose fat, place on a baking tray and cook alongside the stuffing for 20 minutes until the stuffing is cooked through. For the gravy, pour off the excess fat from the roasting tin. Place the roasting tin over a medium heat and stir in the flour until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the cider and the giblet stock. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly and scraping up the sediment from the bottom of the pan. Pour into a saucepan through a sieve and return to a simmer, taste and adjust seasoning.

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Baked Stuffed Apples

Roasted Veal Rib 1 rib of veal weighing about 1.5 kg sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tbsp olive oil Dijon mustard back fat or bacon slices to cover top of veal a few sprigs of rosemary 250ml of white wine 4 medium red onions, halved with the skin on 4 garlic cloves with skin on Optional 1 tbsp of redcurrant jelly 150ml of ruby port METHOD Preheat the oven to 220°C. Season the veal well. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or roasting tray, and brown the veal on a high heat on all sides. Spread the mustard over the top and sides and cover in a thin layer of back fat or bacon. In the roasting tray, place the halved onions and garlic cloves, pour a little oil over. Add the wine, then place the veal on top and cook for 30 minutes. Baste and turn the oven down to 180°C. Remove the back fat or bacon, scatter over the rosemary and cook a further 30 minutes, basting now and again until it registers 55°C for rare or 65°C for medium, on a meat thermometer. Transfer the veal to a cutting board and let it stand, covered loosely with foil for 15 minutes before carving. Skim the fat from the pan juices, add a little water to loosen and place over a high heat, scraping up the brown bits,

Cr & Up Do

until the mixture thickens. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and remove the skin from the onions and stir the flesh into the gravy. I like to add a splash of port at this stage and a little red currant jelly, both optional. Finally, push the sauce through a sieve and serve hot.

Baked Stuffed Apples 6 good sized, firm eating apples 75g butter 75g brown sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 125g mixed dried fruit of your choice zest of one orange and juice METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C. Use a corer to remove the centre of the apples. Carefully use a sharp knife to just cut around the middle of the outside of the apple to stop it bursting during cooking and place onto a baking tray. Heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan. Add the dried fruit and orange juice and zest, cook gently till the butter has melted and all the grains of sugar have dissolved. Using a spoon, fill each apple with this mixture pressing down well. Add a little honey to the remaining juice and drizzle this over the apples. Bake for 20 minutes and serve with custard or vanilla ice cream.


Cranberry & Raspberry Upside Down Cake

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 37 Egg Nog

Cranberry & Raspberry Upside Down Cake Topping 25g unsalted butter 25g caster sugar grated rind and juice of ½ an orange 1 tsp of cinnamon 250g frozen raspberries, defrosted 250g frozen cranberries, defrosted Cake mixture 175g unsalted butter 175g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla essence 3 large eggs, beaten 175g self-raising flour METHOD Grease a 20cm cake tin and preheat the oven to 190°C. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan

over a medium heat and add the sugar, orange juice and cinnamon. Cook until the sugar melts and caramelises slightly, stirring often. Add the fruit, stir, then pour into the cake tin. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time. Sift the flour over the mixture and, using a spatula, gently fold into the mixture. Pour this over the fruit and smooth the top. Place into the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until well risen and golden. Cool before turning out onto a decorative plate, dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream or Chantilly cream.

Egg Nog 6 medium eggs 150g caster sugar

500ml fresh milk 400ml thick cream 350ml rum or bourbon freshly grated nutmeg to taste METHOD Separate the eggs and place the yolks in a bowl with 100g caster sugar, beat until pale yellow and thick. Stir in the milk, thick cream, alcohol and just a couple of gratings of nutmeg. Pour the mixture into two bottles with stoppers, store in the fridge overnight. Place the egg whites into a clean metal bowl, whisk until foamy and opaque. Add the remaining 50g sugar, continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Pour the egg nog from the bottles into a large bowl and fold in the egg whites until well combined. Ladle the egg nog into tumblers and serve with a little freshly grated nutmeg over the top.

Nikki Legon is the chef and owner of the Hotel Restaurant Karina in Les Métairies, just outside Jarnac in Charente. She and her husband Austin have transformed an old cognac distillery into a luxury 10-bedroom hotel and restaurant. For more information: www.hotelkarina.net

BASICS Something Moore-ish OVEN CLEANING BAKING Home baking lessons in 16350 Salon de Thé anglaise

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Tel: 05 45 31 41 78 E: keefbb@hotmail.com www.jambondeprintemps.com

SIRET: 82030129900013

A warm welcome awaits you ……. Come and discover the Hotel Restaurant Karina, set in a haven of greenery, just 3km from Jarnac in the beautiful Charentaise countryside. Enjoy dining by the open fire in winter or on the terrace in fine weather with a choice of à la carte or fixed menus. In our bar, you will find the original copper alembic and here you can relax with an aperitif or choose something from our new bar menu. Menu du Jour (Tuesday – Friday midday): 15€ www.hotelkarina.net | info@hotelkarina.net | 05 45 36 26 26

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38 | living food

Award-winning chef Alan Coxon takes a look at another local speciality ingredient…

Tastoens of the

regi

Chicken casserole with verjuice, chestnuts, apples and prunes Serves 4 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp unsalted butter 2 skinless chicken breasts (approx. 250g each) 250g minced pork meat 4 thin rashers rindless smoked bacon 2 small onions, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

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© M Jean-Pierre LANDAT

Eymet. Each year in mid August, a twelve-strong team heads out into the vineyard to carefully select and pick perfect grapes for their verjuice. The estate uses a black grape variety known ur featured ingredient for appropriately as Périgord, which must be long before spoiling. Historically there were few costthis issue is one of the most picked at the ideal moment to ensure no ancient of ingredients, dating effective ways of preserving foods, and discolouration of the unripe green grape one method employed for preserving back to the Roman period to red, and that no sugars have developed most things (verjuice included) involved (to avoid fermentation-prone sweet of around 71 AD. Known salting heavily. In winter a vinegar as ’acresta’, it was used throughout the juice). Fortunately, unlike past methods Empire for mustard making, and helped with its better storage potential was of preservation, modern technology and to make Dijon a centre of production. By therefore deployed in the kitchen. skilled pasteurisation ensure that all the Despite its longevity in the culinary the Middle Ages it had become ‘agresta’ verjuice’s natural elements and flavours world, there are surprisingly few in Latin and ‘agresto’ in Italian, and the are preserved for several years. name still has a resonance in both Spain commercial producers in France. It has taken the family over 40 years One is the Domaine du Siorac, a and Germany, where it is called ‘agraz’. to become ‘an overnight success’ within family-run wine producer since 1818 Today we know this product as their export markets, but they now ship and whose vineyards are just a stone’s ‘verjuice’, from the old French ‘ver-jus’ over 80% of their 30,000 litre annual throw from the picturesque town of (‘ver’ meaning green or unripe, while production (around 40,000 bottles), most ‘jus’ naturally translates as juice). The earliest British references were around 1302, when verjuice replaced rare and expensive lemons in sauces, as a condiment, to help tenderise meat and to dress salads. Essentially verjuice is unfermented juice from unripe green grapes, so it’s very acidic – slightly less than lemons and more akin to sour apples, but less tart and acidic than vinegar. It was mostly used during summer months when freshly pressed, as being a natural, unfermented fruit juice, it wouldn’t last


living food | 39

Method Using a sharp knife, carefully and evenly slice the chicken breasts lengthways. Place each breast between two sheets of greaseproof paper, gently and evenly tap out using a meat bat or rolling pin. Lay out on a tray and keep aside.

In a clean bowl, mix the pork mince with the smoked paprika, cumin and a little salt and pepper. Divide the mix into four, rolling the meat into compact balls. Place the balls into the centre of each chicken breast and roll the flesh around the pork formulating a larger ball shape and sit on a tray or plate. When ready, take the thin slices of smoked bacon and carefully wrap around the meat ball, using the string to tie the ball together to form and retain its shape. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based casserole or tagine over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken followed by the butter and fry for 6-8 minutes until evenly browned. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic, and gently fry for 5 minutes until soft and slightly caramelised. Add the apple, chestnuts and pumpkin and continue to colour lightly before adding the turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and prunes. Stir well for a couple of minutes. Add the verjuice and grapes if using, and deglaze the pan. Add the stock, tomato purée, chilli pepper and rosemary. Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and cook for 18 -20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, scatter with a few lightly torn pieces of mint and serve with a couscous salad.

of it to the USA, Germany and Japan. In the 1600s France began to replace verjuice in most of its recipes with increasingly accessible and fashionably ‘de rigueur’ sour orange or lemon juice, so it`s good to see an ingredient and a flavour which was once on the brink of extinction now heading for the kitchens of the future. I’ll leave you with a recipe for you to enjoy. www.domainedusiorac.fr © Mr Régis COËZY

¼ tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp smoked paprika 1 fresh birds eye chilli, pricked all over with a cocktail stick ¼ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp fresh grated ginger ½ tsp ground cinnamon 1 star anise 1 small sprig fresh rosemary 100ml chicken stock 50ml verjuice 1 tbsp verjuice grapes (optional) 1 tsp tomato purée 175g stoned prunes d’Agen 100g chestnuts, pre-roasted and cut into quarters 250g pumpkin flesh 1 Gala apple, cored and sliced sea salt and fresh ground black pepper string for tying, a few sprigs of fresh garden mint for serving

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Chantegrolle, 86250 Charroux Tel: 05 49 87 50 23

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40 | living wine

Caro at harvest time, a long way from her IT roots

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living wine | 41

Dawn over the vineyards

Caro and Seán with daughters Sophie and Ellie

g a dream in a French Vineyard Eleven years ago, Seán & Caro Feely were city dwellers looking to change tack. Their long-held dream of an organic vineyard seemed out of reach until an historic farmhouse, vineyard and winery in serious need of restoration popped up on Caro’s computer screen. Despite years of saving and planning - including night classes in French and wine - it was like jumping out of an aeroplane with two small daughters (Sophia and Ellie: just two years and five months respectively at the time) without a parachute. Both girls are now fluent in French and adept at correcting their parents’ pronunciation. Seán, despite having one less finger than when he arrived, wields pruning secateurs and barrels as confidently as he used to tap away on his keyboard at a large asset management company while ex-IT consultant Caro swirls and spits like she was born to it. In this first article Caro offers a flavour of life in France in their early years…

L

eaving an established home to start afresh is a challenge, requiring courage and perhaps a touch of madness. For us it was a burning desire, a passion to grow and make our own organic wine, and to change our lives from city dwellers to self-sufficient farmers. We were idiots without a clue. There were many times when we wondered “OMG, what have we done?” In this short piece I recall the

starkest of these moments. In high summer one of the advantages of getting up very early to beat the heat is the wildlife. One golden morning as I was working I heard a snort and looked up to see a graceful deer barely a yard from me. A few days later I bent down to push aside some brush, and a brown hare leapt out. Then I saw a snake in the vineyard walking home one day. I asked our neighbour Myreille about snakes.

“Oui...” she said, matter-of-factly. “There is one type of snake here that is so poisonous you must get to hospital within twenty minutes or c’est fini. Et…” she said conspiratorially, “il faut absolument pas avoir peur. That will raise your heartbeat and then c’est fini even faster.” I wondered how one did not have fear faced with a potentially fatal snakebite and a journey to the nearest hospital that I heard was slightly more than

www.livingmagazine.fr


42 | living wine

twenty minutes away. I said a prayer to St Patrick (who successfully chased the snakes out of Ireland). We finished harvest a few weeks ago. With eleven vintages under our belts we are old hands. But the word hand reminds me not to be complacent. In our first year after a month of intense activity we harvested the last of our red grapes, the Cabernet Sauvignon. We were exhausted. The days when we were not harvesting were consumed with changing pipes, climbing ladders, cleaning equipment, checking vat seals, moving our cooling apparatus from vat to vat and, twice a day, tasting and testing the heady juice we had grown. We hardly saw our daughters save for a few brief moments at dinner time. On that fated day I went inside at around 7am to see the two girls, who had just woken up. Then I heard Seán’s mother calling me urgently. Seán was standing over the sink holding a bloody tea towel over his hand. “I’ve chopped my finger off,” he said matter of factly. I grabbed a bundle of clean tea towels and the car keys. I was about to find out exactly how far it was to Bergerac hospital. “Luckily it didn’t fall into the grapes,” he said as we sped to the emergency. I turned my attention from the road briefly and saw him grimace. The shock was wearing off and he was starting to feel the pain. “What have we done? Is it worth it?” I wondered aloud, as we raced along the Route des Coteaux. The stress and fatigue of the harvest had taken its toll and I was not looking forward to

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The crowds are assured of a spectacular event

Meet Caro Feely, writer, wine educator, winegrower and maker and Living’s newly appointed wine columnist. Caro and partner Sean’s biodynamic vineyard offers organic wine, a wine school, educational visits with wine and food pairing lunches and ecological accommodation (www.ChateauFeely.com) in south west France, 15 minutes west of Bergerac and a little over an hour east of Bordeaux. Caro’s series about their life in France is published in three tomes by Summersdale Publishers; Grape Expectations, about moving from the city to rural France and their first three years on the farm; Saving our Skins about the next four years and Glass Half Full, due to hit the shelves in April 2017.

coping without Seán. Our first year had been a baptism of fire and I was feeling very tempted to give up and go back to the city, even before this latest disaster. “I love it,” he answered through clenched teeth. We arrived, just over twenty minutes later. Fortunately it was a finger amputation and not a snake bite. After his intervention, the surgeon said Seán would need six weeks of total

rest and then another six months to have normal function in the shortened finger. A third of his finger was gone. Chopped up by the harvest trailer and spewed out with the rinsing water onto our farm, Seán had become part of our terroir. Once the painkillers wore off the pain was extreme, I had never seen Seán in such agony. Despite the doctor’s advice he was back in the winery four days later.

Chateau Feely semillon 2016 harvest team: a happy band of clients, permanent team members and seasonal workers


living WINE | 43 Somehow we managed to get through those critical weeks. The fermentation process, challenging in itself, felt a bit like having seven babies, the number of vats we had in vinification. Each of them needed special care and individual attention morning, noon and night. This year, our 11th harvest, Seán somewhat fittingly has eleven wine babies in his maternity ward. It is truly a miraculous transformation from pruning to grapes and finally to wine. For us even more wondrous is the change in the soil

health, and the resulting wine that has come from years of working organically. Working in a vineyard to create a wine is a spiritual journey of passion, pain and progress. The ancient Greeks believed that wine connects man to the Heavens, and somehow the effort really is uplifting, as easy as raising a glass of the final product. We bought our vineyard in South West France with a dream and passion to create great organic wines. Now more than a decade later we celebrate not a misty dream but years of working with nature and

nurturing our farm back to the full health and flavour of a living organic soil. We also celebrate the success of offering wine experiences that have won us two Best of Wine Tourism gold trophies in the greater Bordeaux region, the first in 2013 and the second for 2017, announced a few days ago at a gala in Bordeaux. In our risky endeavour we have felt a lot: sometimes fear and pain but also joy and fulfilment. We are passionate about France, wine and organic farming. Joyeux Noel!

Caro’s suggestions for Christmas Dinner

With 9% of the French vineyards now certified organic we can find great organic wine in all the wine appellations and styles. By choosing organic you respect your body, the people who grow your wine and the people who live in the wine-growing areas. Ask your local caviste for his favourites in these categories. A Methode Traditionelle Brut sparkling wine (eg Crémant de Bordeaux): perfect for celebrating and to enjoy with aperitifs. An acidic white wine like Muscadet, a

Jurançon Sec, or a pure Sauvignon blanc from Bordeaux or Bergerac to go with your oysters. A round, dry white wine like a Sémillon Sauvignon blanc barrel-aged blend from Pessac Léognan, Graves or Bergerac to go with your turkey. A fine no-sulfites added organic red Merlot blend from right bank Bordeaux or Bergerac for your duck or goose. The cheese course can be complicated for wine choices - depending on what

It’s about knowing the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee.

cheeses you are serving, you could keep your whites (the dry like Sauvignon blanc for your goat’s cheese, the barrel aged for creamier soft cheeses), reds (hard cheeses like Comté and some goat’s and sheep’s cheeses) and dessert wines (for blue cheese) on the table. A dessert wine like Saussignac to go with your bûche de Noël or Christmas pudding Armagnac or Cognac as a digestif or perhaps a walnut wine.

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Jon Whincup with the breaking match winning records help by Maver MD Sarah Pho ed enix

44 | living Angling

Hook, line & sinker…

T

Ron Cousins takes a look at the 2016 movers and shakers in the world of fishing…

he world economic outlook may be uncertain but even if the Dow Jones is falling, Dai Jones and all the other devotees of the world’s biggest participant sport will still go fishing. This year the money men saw the opportunities available with merchant bankers moving in to grab a slice of the action in the fishing tackle industry. Frenchman Jacques Prallet had been instrumental in building up Pure Fishing, a group that included iconic French brands Sebile and Mitchell as well as UK rod builders Greys and Hardy. Swedish reel maker Abu and American tackle giant Shakespeare joined Pure Fishing under the umbrella of the Jarden group which, earlier this year, was purchased by USA conglomerate Newell Brands. Despite having no other connection to the tackle trade, they paid a massive 16 billion dollars to take control. UK company Fox International has built its reputation on specialist carp fishing tackle and become the industry’s largest privately owned company. However, Mayfair Equity Partners followed up its headline hitting 200 million pound takeover of British power company OVO Energy by swallowing up Fox in a deal that values the business at 50 million pounds. Mayfair boss Daniel Sasaki summed up the investor’s outlook on the tackle trade with the comment that fishing is one of those sports where a niche market belies its true size and market opportunity. Denmark based Svendsen Sport was started in the 1970s by Lars Svendsen when he began selling fly-tying materials from his home. With its British base in Cardiff, it now has a wide portfolio of rods and reels and a high profile in the

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fly-fishing world. Lars recently became a multimillionaire after selling 85 per cent of the business to the Danish Maj Invest Group for 65 million euros. Georgia (USA) based W C Bradley, a multi brand supplier of consumer goods for the home and leisure market that already owns leading reel name Zebco, was the surprise buyer of British match and carp tackle manufacturer Preston Innovations. Started 30 years ago by Shropshire angler Dave Preston, the firm’s products are big sellers in France and Bradley paid 26 million pounds to take them over. Dave, who was the sole owner, is now a millionaire enjoying his life-long passion of fishing for big carp along with a newly found enthusiasm for fast cars. In a neat, post-Brexit twist, Preston Innovations then poached two of France’s best known anglers from one of their country’s biggest tackle manufacturers Rive Fishing. Ex-World Champion and regular Team France member Didier Delannoy had been Rive’s MD and he was joined on the move to Preston by marketing specialist and expert match angler Baptiste Courtellemont. The merchant banks and investment funds have also turned their attention to the retail side of the fishing tackle industry, hastening the disappearance of the small, traditional fishing shop in favour of the expanding chains of large tackle supermarkets. In America Goldman Sachs purchased 1.8 billion dollars of preferred stock in the Bass Pro chain of retail outlets while, here in France, Pacific Pêche which has 40 big fishing tackle stores across the country, has been taken over in a 30 million euro deal by Weinberg Capital Partners. Fishing Republic, based in Yorkshire with eight large retail outlets and on the

Deeper Smarter Fish Finder

acquisition trail, became the first fishing tackle retailer to be floated on the London Stock Exchange. A share placing on AIM raised 1.5 million pounds for the business that director Steve Gross started as a 13-year-old selling home-tied artificial flies. Big money is also coming to the bankside as the larger and richer companies step up their sponsorship of competitive fishing with record amounts won by successful match anglers in 2016. Italian carbon pole manufacturer Maver sponsored the Maver Match, a competition with a £70,000 prize making it the biggest single pay out to date in British match fishing. A series of qualifying matches held at venues all around the country were sell-outs, with anglers travelling from France, Italy and Holland for a chance to get into the 24-angler final held at Hayfield Fishery in Yorkshire. There was national TV coverage of the event and the man who picked up that whopping cheque was Peterborough postman Jon Whincup who caught an impressive 235lb of carp during the five-hour match. Sports promoter Barry Hearn and his Matchroom Sport company have sponsored the Party Poker Fish O Mania Championship for a number of years. In 2016, the TV cameras were rolling at Cudmore Fishery in Staffordshire as Andy May from Middlewich caught 59lb of carp and bream to beat the other 31 finalists to collect the £50,000 first prize. This event also attracts continental entries and next year will see qualifying matches held in France. Carp Endurance matches fished over 48-hours by pairs of anglers are a fastgrowing part of competitive fishing.


ordlped enix

living Angling | 45

The big one is the British Carp Angling Championship backed by a group of smaller businesses namely Trakker, Cygnet, Reuben Heaton, Bait Bucket and Carp Talk magazine. This year, the 17 pairs who reached the final were at Wraysbury Lake in Berkshire where Mark Bartlett and Kev Hewitt caught seven carp weighing 124lb to win and share £20,000. The Preston Innovations Feeder Master Championship caters for anglers whose preferred method of fishing is with a swimfeeder - a small plastic or

metal tube that is on the line near the hook. It is packed with groundbait so that it deposits some attractive free offerings at each cast. Competitors often cast out 100m or more as no float is used, and bites are indicated by the movement of specially designed soft tipped rods. This year, 60 anglers from regional fish-offs contested the event in two five-hour matches at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent where John O’Driscoll caught a total of 45lb of bream and earned himself £12,000. It’s not only the financiers who have

been turning their attention to the profit potential of the world’s ever growing number of fishermen. Electronics companies are eager to offer technology solutions to angling problems and this year’s outstanding device is the Deeper Smart Sonar that has won a clutch of best product awards around the world. With a diameter of 6cm, this ball shaped fish finder transmits up to 45m away and works in depths to 45m. It can be attached to the line, cast to any spot, floats on the water and sends back information by bluetooth or Wi-Fi to phones or tablets. As well as locating fish the device, which can be used from boat or bank, will give the depth and water temperature as well as details of the contours of the lake or river bed thanks to a dual beam sonar that can also create bathymetric water bed maps. The Deeper is fast becoming a must-have addition to the tackle box for pike, zander and carp anglers and anyone who fishes from a boat. Weighing just 100g and costing around 190€, this latest addition to the angler’s armoury would fit nicely into a Christmas stocking to solve the annual problem of what gift to give to the angler of the family.

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L iPRACTICAL vingliving

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If you are selling your French home, our knowledgeable local team would be delighted to meet you as soon as possible. We offer: A valuation based on current local market conditions A dedicated contact to guide you through the whole process Worldwide marketing through our own website and market-leading portals Access to thousands of buyers already registered with us

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Nr SoMMièRES Du CLaiN (86) Ref 22841 Price 199 000€ FAI (5.85% fee inc) Lovely comfortable country house of 190m² within 1.5 hectares of gardens. 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, spacious reception rooms each with fireplace. DPE : D

BELLaC (87) Ref 32511 Price 249 000€ Fai (8% fee inc) Fully restored 15th century townhouse with 250m² living space. Fantastic views. Barn 400m². DPE : Vierge

Near LE BLaNC (36) Ref 32521 Price 410 400€ FAI (8% fee inc) Maison de maître offering over 310m² of living space, in a heart of a medieval village. Walled garden of 3000m² with heated swimming pool. DPE : C

SaiNT GauDENT (86) Ref 22831 Price 197 000€ FAI (6.49% fee inc) Detached house 150m² with 3-4 bedrooms, lovely fitted kitchen opening onto dining/living room. Patio. Enclosed garden of 2052m² with fish pond. DPE : D

MoNTMoRiLLoN (86) Ref 32449 Price 172 800€ FAI (8% fee inc) Large townhouse 250m² situated in historic heart of this town, 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, large reception room, courtyard & garage. ideal for B&B project. DPE : D

MoNTMoRiLLoN (86) Ref 32517 Price 156 600€ FAI (8% fee inc) Lovely period property close to town center. 3 bedrooms, new central heating, lovely private garden. DPE : F

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Nr Sauzé VauSSaiS (79) Ref 22846 Price 321 000€ Fai (7% fee inc) Character property set in 6473m² of mature garden with swimming pool. 250m² of living space, large reception rooms, 4 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. DPE : vierge

5, place Maréchal Leclerc 86500 MONTMORILLON Tél : 05 49 84 08 88 mercuremontmorillon@wanadoo.fr www.agencemercure.fr

aSNoiS (86) Ref 22838 Price 120 000€ FAI (9.09% fee inc) Superbe views over the valley for this property consisting of a 200m² house in need of full renovation, large outbuildings and 5 hectares of land. Fantastic project. DPE : vierge


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Property Sovimo immobiLier

7 rue du Temple 24500 Eymet T: 05 53 63 22 27

Ref. 33710

APS2975 - Sympathetically renovated 16th century character house with 4 bedrooms and excellent views. €366,000 FAI (DPE: en cours)

APS2960 - Charming 4-bed farmhouse with wonderful countryside views & barns, 5 minutes from Eymet. €160,500 FAI (DPE: en cours)

DPE: n/a

Ref. 33703

APS2969 - Beautiful 3-bed 18th century stone house, in stunning country setting, with heated swimming pool and gite. €399,000 FAI (DPE: en cours)

APS2632 - Newly renovated stone cottage with swimming pool, on the edge of a pretty village. €235,000 FAI (DPE: E)

DPE: n/a

APS2973 - A “must see” property set in a quiet area with the most stunning views and 3 bedrooms €152,000 FAI (DPE: en cours)

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65 800€ FAI (9.7% fees included) Near Availles Limouzine (86). Authentic & rustic semi-detached cottage with potential. New roof, 1-bed, big attic, mains drains, adjoining land, all set on 925m2.

Ref. 33701

226 800€ FAI (8% fees included) Confolens (16). Spacious character townhouse, 500m2 . 14 rooms inc 8 beds, 2 attics to convert, oil heating, mains drains, courtyard, adjoining land on river bank, set on 1518m2 .

Ref. 33696

APS2959 - Beautiful 4-bed farmhouse with barn and gite in peaceful countryside, 5 minutes from Eymet. €250,000 FAI (DPE: D)

Ref. 33704

80 000€ FAI (9.6% fees included) Close to Confolens (16). Farmhouse to renovate on 2ha35. 2 beds, attic to convert, oil heating, attached barn, outbuildings, mains drains. Additional land & barn available.

DPE: E

63 600€ FAI (9.7% fees included) Availles Limouzine (86). Semi detached 2-bed village house, all comforts, oil heating, covered terrace, garage, mains drains, adjoining garden, all set on 491m2.

Ref. 33697

DPE: n/a

223 500€ FAI (8% fees included) 98 600€ FAI (9.6% fees included) Near St Claud (16). Detached pretty Close to Confolens (16). Detached old stone renovated cottage. 4-beds, village house, all comforts. 3-beds, mezzanine, 3 baths, fireplace, terrace, utility, cellar, attic, heatpump air/ septic tank, attached barn, adjoining air. Attached garage with attic, land land, shed, all set on 6106 m2. adjoining, well, shed. Set on 1166m2.

3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens Tel: 05 45 85 45 65 contact@sovimo.com

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Idimmo, Prestige & Châteaux 42 Rue Grosse Horloge, 17400 St Jean D’Angély. Tel: +33 (0)5 16 51 90 52 http://adeline.idimmo.net/

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A deceptively large cottage with spacious lounge, kitchen, 4 good size bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Attached outbuilding which could easily serve as a garage or covered eating area. DPE:Vierge Ref: idiade 2871

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A spacious and comfortable 5-bed home. Enclosed garden, pool and barn to the front of the house and a small courtyard/enclosed parking to the rear. Large garage also available with this property. DPE: D Ref: idiade 2908

€324 000 FAI

Quality renovation of traditional 5-bed farmhouse renovated. Double glazing and excellent insulation. Conservatory, office, attached garage. Large barn with new roof. 2 open barns and a Pigeonnier. DPE: D Ref: idiade 2936

€327 000 FAI

A well renovated and maintained 3-bed Charentaise in an enclosed park with several outbuildings. Attic (approx. 21m2) could be renovated to provide a further bedroom. Spacious kitchen/diner and office. DPE: C Ref: idiade 2558

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Contemporary 2-bed, 1-storey house. Well designed, sunny with a beautiful view. Large terrace, open plan kitchen. Workshop. Land with its access to the Boutonne river with private pontoon. DPE: D Ref: idiade 2912

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IdImmo will be present for the 4th year running. If you are thinking of selling your property, please contact us for an evaluation.

3km from the local shops. Renovated house with beautiful living areas, spacious bedrooms, a detached cottage, pool. Surprisingly luminous living room with large patio doors to terrace and garden. DPE: D Ref: idiade 2930


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Talk of the town

In each issue we highlight a town in the region to help you get to know the area. Here we visit Vouvant in Vendée...

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Leggett Immobilier Properties near Vouvant

€283,550 FAI Charming 3/4 bed stone cottage in Vouvant with river views and attached garden. Sitting on the ramparts in an elevated position, it has endless character and quirky nooks and crannies. DPE: D Ref: 65347 7% fees included

€235,400 FAI Lovely, renovated stone cottage overlooking the Romanesque bridge at the heart of Vouvant. 3-beds, spacious light accommodation with many original features. River frontage, parking. DPE: n/a Ref: 58275 7% fees included

€262,150 Beautiful top floor apartment in Vouvant with access to large pool and a hectare of manicured grounds leading to the river. Top quality finish, two double bedrooms and large bathroom. DPE: C Ref: 54469 7% fees included

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he only fortified town in the Vendée, it is easy to see why Vouvant and its surrounding areas have long been a favourite with house buyers. Holder of the coveted ‘Les plus beaux villages de France’ award, the village is packed full of character and patrimoine. On a promontory, overlooking a bend in the Mère river at the north end of the Mervent-Vouvant forest, the village is the home to the legends of the mythical Mélusine. The Tour de Mélusine, a 15th century watch tower, is all that remains of the chateau she is said to have bestowed overnight on the village from nothing more than an apron-full of stones and a mouthful of water. From the top, the views of the surrounding countryside are superb and no doubt the same views were one of the reasons that Guillaume le Grand d’Aquitaine appreciated the location when he discovered it in 1011. He soon established his base here building a chateau and a monastery and by the end of the 11th century, the imposing l’église Notre-Dame was completed with its richly carved doublearched entrance. Much of the original structure still remains including the crypt, which has several notable sculptures, and the Theodelin Nave which was recently restored and is now used for exhibitions. The original church tower had a spire, however a 19th century restoration replaced this with the octagonal tower seen today and the spire was never replaced. In 1190 Vouvant passed to the Lusignan family, who found themselves at times in opposition to both the King of England and the King of France as a result of

Alienor d’Aquitaine’s two marriages. Later, the town passed to the Archbishop of Parthenay and survived the Hundred Years War before control was awarded to Arthur de Richemont. In 1458, the land fell into the control of Jean, bâtard d’Orléans. A century later, the Wars of Religion took their toll – the church was pillaged, set on fire and half destroyed while a battle at the Postern Gate left more than 200 Huguenots dead. In 1694, Vouvant returned to the crown of France until sold by auction in 1718. Its defensive position was no longer an asset, instead the difficult access limited the village’s prospects up until the modern day. Today, its 900 residents once again value the superb setting and medieval atmosphere as do many tourists every summer.

Amenities Vouvant has a public school catering for children up to CM2 after which students transfer to schools in nearby Fontenayle-Comte. Café Cour du Miracle in the centre of the village is run by Englishspeakers Karen and Paul and a hub for local activities. Transport The town is situated just off the A83 which runs from Nantes to Niort where it joins the A10 to Bordeaux and Paris. The closest airport is at La Rochelle just 70 minutes from Vouvant, while both Nantes and Poitiers airports are about 80 minutes away ensuring that there are low cost flights available all year round. Trains run regularly from Fontenay-le-Comte to La Roche-sur-Yon, Niort (where you can connect to Paris) and La Rochelle.


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50 | living gardening

living gardening | 47

Birds really do rely on us when food is scarce.

s one year slips into memory and gives way to another it’s inevitably a time for reflection, and renewal – and a changeable one at that. No two winters are ever quite alike, and while there’s no telling what surprises the weather is keeping in store for us, we know from experience that perfect days can sometimes appear when you least expect them, and when the sun manages to warm things just enough to let us enjoy breakfast or lunch in a sheltered spot outdoors. Moments like these offer a chance to look around at the garden in its dormant state and reflect on how a few changes might enhance the overall look and feel when things reawaken in springtime and beyond.

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When temperatures drop and the sky is a steely blue it could be just the time to get outdoors and at least think about tending the garden… On the other hand, when it decides to rain (or perhaps deliver a light dusting of snow), we can simply light the fire, settle down and turn our thoughts to the warmer days to come. Think of it as ‘armchair gardening’ and you might be surprised to discover that when it comes to planning, then you can achieve almost as much by a cosy fireside as you can outside. For example, you might give some thought to ways

of keeping things healthy in the potager by rotating your vegetable crops, considering any companion planting, etc.

Time to plan the bigger picture

While in that frame of mind, it might also be a good time to think calmly about bigger issues like how your garden actually works for you – or doesn’t. If you inherited someone else’s idea of planning a garden then chances are you’ll have puzzled from time to time over some of their design decisions, and how they impact on the time you have to devote to maintenance. Mowing in particular can take a lot of your time (and fuel prices aren’t destined to get any cheaper in the years to come) so anything you can do to cut


living gardening | 51 in a garden can have its advantages, particularly if you can’t decide what style you’d like to achieve. Divide it up and you can have several – French formal, English cottage, Mediterranean... it could be fun. You’ll also be creating microclimates, discrete, relaxing hideaways, etc. and your visiting friends will enjoy being able to wander from one area to another, making discoveries along the way.

Colourful hellebore varieties will brighten winter days

down this aspect of gardening will free you to get on with other things. Quite apart from having to mow around them, neglected and misshapen trees planted amid lawned areas are not only Japanese unsightly but also cause problems by maple shading grass and dropping leaves. If you have a nagging suspicion that you and your garden might actually be better off without them then, if it’s not too wet underfoot, now might be the time to remove them. Of course, if you just have too much grass to mow (or keep from disappearing altogether during extended periods of drought) then you might decide that the time has come to reduce the area currently given over to lawn. If that’s the case, but you don’t want to replace it with gravel (a process which requires considerable outlay and careful

preparation if you’re going to keep it weed-free) an alternative is to enlarge your existing flower-beds with some well-considered reshaping. Obviously any new planting will impact on your outlook as plants and shrubs mature, so before you begin the groundwork it’s worth weighing up the likely pros and cons of any new landscaping decisions. You’ll have your own opinions on any changes to the view, both from the house and garden, and from outside the property, plus the possible security implications. You might value keeping an eye on the outside world and not be troubled about passers-by glancing in at your handiwork, but many gardeners choose to go in the opposite direction, consciously screening-off areas to divide things up. Creating multiple ‘compartments’

Formalising things

If that sounds like overkill for your own gardening ambitions, another way of cutting down on mowing is to replace existing expanses of lawn with parterre-style flower beds bounded by low box hedges. The paths you leave between them can then be either left to grass or laid with gravel; either way they won’t amount to large areas. Laying the beds out on a formal plan will create a classic ‘French Country’ look and add visual interest even in the depths of winter – but there are plenty of more contemporary designs out there which you can use for inspiration if you’re not a traditionalist. Either way, if you get the topiary bug then you can enliven things still further with spheres, cones, pyramids or whatever

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52 | living gardening

OrangeCollect leaves to or red-berried make a useful mould Pyracantha adds welcome colour

Red-stemmed dogwoods

else you can think up. As regards what to plant inside your parterres, well that’s up to you, but swathes of lavender billowing among trimmed box is one particularly striking option to start the creative sap rising.

A spot of maintenance

Mild days, when there’s barely a breath of wind, bring opportunities for vir-

tuous jobs like removing invasive ivy from stone boundary walls, repairing or replacing fencing, hanging new gates or keeping an attentive eye on things in cold frames, compost bins, sheds and greenhouses. How about creating some rainwater storage, to help tide you through the long, dry periods we seem to be getting in summertime, and when there are tight watering restrictions? If you have a good-sized barn which once housed livestock then there’s a chance that you might have an underground citerne nearby. Simply re-establish the connection from the gutter downpipe which fed it, arm yourself with a small pump and you’re home but no longer dry. If not, then add a specially-designed downpipe adaptor to divert rainwater into a storage tank – but be aware that all stored water needs to be covered, to avoid harbouring mosquito larvae.

DOWN IN THE POND

Talking of water, remember to remove any pond pumps you might have, clean the filters and then store the units somewhere well out of reach of winter frosts, which can cause serious damage if the pumps can’t be completely drained – and the same goes for pressure washers, which are also at risk.

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Landscape design & construction of patios and gardens Garden Clearance Hedge Cutting Shrub & Fruit Tree Pruning Tel: 0778 32 04 47 / E: Mikepage_290789@orange.fr www.michaelpage-landscapes.fr

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living gardening | 53

A little winter colour for the birds, too

Many deciduous trees have brightly coloured bark during the winter months. The white trunks of paper-bark birches look bright in any season, as do the rich copper tones of more exotic maples, while the humble dogwood family includes varieties which contribute vivid red, yellow, purple-black and even lime-green stems. Flowering evergreen stalwarts like Pyracantha (or ‘firethorn’) also produce a profusion of vibrant red and orange berries, although during prolonged cold spells you’ll probably find that the birds who roost in their protective dense foliage develop quite a taste for them. We’ll leave you with a timely reminder not to forget the needs of wild birds. Add a few feeders, keep them clean and topped up and you’ll be helping them stay alive during the dark days when food is hard to come by. They’ll also need clean water at all times (which will need replacing regularly if it freezes), although do think to place it well out of reach of cats. In return for your efforts you’ll enjoy the cheerful sight of an endless succession of visiting birds, who will also prove useful allies in the year-long fight against garden pests by consuming aphids, caterpillars, slugs and snails.

“Mild days, when there’s barely a breath of wind, bring opportunities for virtuous jobs in the garden” clean knives, secateurs and hoes, and if necessary sharpen them. Happily, even the depths of winter will still produce fine days on which you’ll be able to tackle worthwhile tasks outdoors. While trees are dormant (although not when there’s a risk of hard frosts) you can prune and shape fruit trees, taking out any dead, diseased or damaged branches. In the past we could then burn them immediately to prevent re-infection, but tighter environmental controls have removed that option, so a trip to the déchetterie will be needed to dispose of them responsibly.

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While you’re in maintenance mode, it’s well worth spending some time giving a little TLC to your hard working lawnmower. Start (after removing the lead from the spark plug, for safety) by taking a look under the deck, where compacted grass always seems to accumulate and hold moisture. That in turn can start the deck corroding, something you’ll only be able to check once things are clean again under there. If there’s rust starting, wire brush it and apply an anti-rust treatment. Take a look, too, at the blade, which not only needs to be sharp but also in balance – if in doubt get it sharpened or replace it. When that’s done, change the engine oil – the engine will run sweeter and last longer. Next it’s the turn of your heavier garden tools. Wash off hardened soil, dry them thoroughly, then wipe a little light oil over them to prevent rust getting a hold. Finally,

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54 | living promotion

Expert advice <<ENERGY advice By Paul Elliott from Ecopower

Boilers with brains… A high percentage of homes in France don’t have any heating controls so boilers are simply ‘on’ or ‘off’. This would be like having a single switch for all the lights in your home. Smart heating control seems to be the ‘in thing’ with technology developing to make heating systems as efficient as possible, saving fuel and hopefully some cash.

But what does a smart boiler actually mean? We recently tested one such smart system on a pellet boiler. The boiler is fitted with sensors and a controller that collects data. The controller in turn is connected to a transmitter device and the customer’s internet connection. This enables you to log onto the controller and, through some clever analytical tools, see the data in graph format. It allows observation and control of some of the most important elements of the heating system from your computer, tablet or smartphone. The boiler sends data every few seconds which is automatically analysed. If anything goes wrong, the burner fails to light, no pellets reach the burn chamber etc. an alarm is sent to your email address and phone. We were also able to turn the pellet boiler on and off remotely, change the comfort and economy set temperatures from wherever we can connect to the internet. We could also monitor the burn parameters, the flow of

pellets etc., and make changes where they were not optimal. The system can also ‘learn’ the fuel spend by the hour, day, week and so on giving you the power to budget your fuel usage. Permissions can also be granted for the installer and manufacturer to log on to check the boiler. “There are so many advantages I can see for this system,” says Paul. “The data will allow me to fault find or order parts from my office before the expense of arranging to visit. Heating engineers will have information at their fingertips and the backup of the manufacturer being able to see what is going on too. Owners can also monitor their boiler while on holiday or switch it on before returning.” The future of home energy is smart. TO FIND OUT MORE contact paul@ecopowereurope.com PRACTICAL RENEWABLE ENERGY SOLUTIONS

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2017 changes New Year’s Day heralds not only a new year but also the usual raft of changes which will affect daily life here in France. At first glance the most intriguing is the promise of une année blanche – or lost year – for employees’ personal income tax. Yes, from 2017 they’ll no longer need to squirrel away enough of their earnings to cover their annual tax bill. The reason is a seismic revision of the tax collection process which hinges on adopting a PAYE system, starting from 1 January 2018. We’ll await the outcome with interest, although since households are taxed according to factors like the number of children, it looks like an annual declaration of some sort will still be lurking in the mailbox. We’ll see how the changes affect independents and small businesses. Business and private users will see La Poste raising its prices by an average of 3.1% (in response to falling trade) for its letter deliveries. That’s on top of 3.6% in 2016 and 7% in 2015. From 1 Jan a timbre rouge will cost 0.85€ (up from 0.80€) and a timbre vert 0.73€ (previously 0.70€). Parcel rates will, however, be unchanged. As a footnote, the average household spends 45€ annually on postal services. 2017 is also a Presidential Election year, ahead of which the right-wing UMP party has voted for a change of name to... ‘les Républicains’. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy in particular had hoped

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to shed some political baggage with the change, although it will be interesting to see what effect recent events in the US have on things. Also set to be introduced are the middle-school reforms (which sparked controversy among teachers in 2016) as part of broader education reforms. They include learning a second language a year earlier (age 1112), revised Brevet tests and assessments every three years, to allow catch-up time and avoid students having to repeat years. Primary schools will also begin teaching second languages from ages 6-7, and be tested for French and Maths at age 8-9. Educational establishments will also see the introduction of a range of tighter security measures.


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Vendée (85)

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Butchers Calluaud

Petticoat Lane 5 Rue Nationale - 16150 Chabanais Christmas items available from mid October Having a party? Iceland platters and party food available too. *Turkeys available to order* Check our website to see what other treats are available.

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4 generation of Butchers, we know our beef! Locally sourced Beef, Veal, Lamb, Chicken and Pork Homemade Gluten- and Egg-free sausages - 7 varieties Homemade dry-cured Bacon and Pork Pies MARKETS CIVRAY (86): Tues & Fri RUFFEC (16): Wed & Sat SAUZE-VAUSSAIS (79): Thurs

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English groceries, Fresh Beef & Steak to order only, Gammon Steak, Bacon, Sausage & Cheddar cheese. Wide range of frozen items including vegetarian. Traditional English beers, Sherries & Wine. Cards for all occasions. Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm

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Shop: Boucherie St Claud (16450) Call Samantha Calluaud on 06 50 04 37 30 www.boucherie-calluaud.com FB: boucherie Calluaud St Claud

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To celebrate the arrival of a new Piano Guy in the area we have a great opening offer! We are offering our piano tuning service for a reduced price of only €65* *excluding travel costs, for a limited time only

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Business Directory

57

Catering, Computer services, well-being, animal care

Bell Computing

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For weddings, functions and special occasions Hog & lamb spit roasts available on request

Visit Alison Barker & Stephanie Le Flock at...

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Anita Frayling - Le Baillat, 16220 Rouzede T: 05 45 66 14 62 E: anita@limetreekennels.com For those of you that don't already know us, 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. Phase one of the refurbishment on the kennels is now complete and we are taking bookings well into next year. You are welcome to call if you have any questions or would like to visit the kennels. A website will be launched in the New year. Please note that I am currently full for the Christmas period.

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y

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 4 fully-equipped 10m luxury suites    Our small purpose built     Collection & return service available cattery offers heated     accommodation with outdoor Photos & videos sent during stay space in a rural setting.  Call Joyce to arrange a tour!    2

Les Chaillauds

 16220 MONTBRON Phone or text 06 44 10 20 34 Tel: 05 45 24 01 45  Email: Chat-eau@hotmail.fr

2 La Mariettere, 1km from Scillé (79240) 4km: La Chapelle Thireuil 5km: L’Absie

15km: Secondigny, Moncoutant, Coulonges

Qualified in 1987 in the UK and former Physio to the GB acrobatics team bodymatters34@yahoo.com

05 55 06 59 12 06 71 46 79 11 Bussac, 87600 Cheronnac H.P.C. PH66488 siret 497 688 663 00028

www.bodymattersbackcareclinic.net

E:claudescathotel@gmail.com www.claudescathotel.com By appointment Mon-Sat 9am-6pm

Cachette du chat Small friendly cattery Condac, Ruffec. Purpose-built heated Chambers for your cat with its own outdoor run Each chamber is well equipped to give your cat all the comforts. Open all year. Visits welcome. Reg DSV – Certificate of capacity Tel 0545 29 01 31 0615 66 38 92 Flurry16@gmail.com

‘Home away from home’ Luxury suites for cats

t

87

Thurs 13.30-14.45

See our website for more details and for forthcoming events:

Manual Therapist

(formerly Cats and Dogs Boarding Kennels)

Professional masseuse based in Ruffec & Poitiers

hair, beauty, nails Civray (86400) 26 rue du Commerce

Thurs 10.30-11.45

YIN / BEGINNERS

Tina Hall

LIME TREE KENNELS Valérie Sardin

RENAISSANCE

RESTORATIVE YOGA

www.frenchyogagarden.com ContaCt LuCy thompson for bookings: lucyyoga86@gmail.com Call Pat on 05 49 87 36 26 05 55 78 16 43 or 06 42 09 16 52 Facebook: French Yoga Garden

T: 05 49 87 47 64 M: 06 42 28 58 26 E: harry.horton@orange.fr Eileen Horton: 17 Grand Rue, 86160 Sommières-du-Clain

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Websites & Windows

Quality BBQs with marinated meat & fish, with variety of salads Private chef to cater for dinners and parties in your own home Hot and cold buffets in your choice of venue

Siret: 822 175 527 0016

es

YOGA & WELLBEING AT THE FRENCH YOGA GARDEN

Private pens, each with inside and outside space Peaceful garden setting Open 7 days a week Viewings welcome by appointment Recommendations available Situated in Montemboeuf (16) Isabel Evans Tel: 05 45 23 62 35 E: izzy@petitepaws.fr www.petitepaws.fr Certificate de Capacité

Siret: 801 891 110 00018

The UK’s Premium Pet Transport Company Regular trips throughout Europe Services tailored to your needs DEFRA Type 2 licensed, custom built vans

www.gofetch-ltd.com gofetchltd@hotmail.co.uk T: +44 (0)7855 401 102 T: +44 (0)1656 670 856

www.livingmagazine.fr

On Your Mortgage Payments




60

Featured business

Business Directory

Great innovative flooring in your French home If you are searching for flooring that will look great and makes the most of natural resources, then you’ll love some of these new innovative designs. In September we visited the annual Carpet & Flooring Trade Show in the UK and came across some fab and exciting ideas that we wanted to share with you. Breathe and sleep more easily with an amazing new underlay which is made from wood fibre. That’s right; it’s a 100% natural product from sustainable resources, is 100% biodegradable and it’s healthier too

T: 05 55 73 63 16

filtering out 95% of airborne dust particles. So it’s a great help to ensuring that you can get a good night’s sleep. We are currently trialing the product and if you would like more information, please let us know. Cork flooring is another concept that’s been around for quite a while but using modern techniques it now has an amazing new look. Using digital printing cork flooring has the appearance of laminate with a protected top layer of cork. Produced by a Portuguese company Granite, this is sure to be popular in the future.

E: jonthecarpetman@gmail.com

Our final example comes from Dutch company Edel Telenzo with their extensive rugs and runners range. All of their domestic carpets will be available as bespoke rugs and runners; you can choose any size with a maximum 5 metres width, 87 different edging finishes using leather, felt, linen or cotton and all of the rugs have an anti-slip backing. These are just three great ideas that we’re looking forward to showing to our customers over the coming weeks and months to add to our extensive range.

www.jon-thecarpetman.com

jonthecarpetman

Sw

Storage, deliveries, removals, metalwork

UK-France Removals

ANGLO FRENCH EURO REMOVALS

George White WEEKLY TRIPS - FULL/PART LOADS - DOOR TO DOOR FREE, no obligation quotations FREE advice & support We offer punctuality & reliability Up to 2 weeks free storage for all our clients Packing services & materials available Save time & money

Tel: +44 (0)20 8501 2069 E: contact@europeremove.com www.europeremove.com

‘Your French Connection’

European Transport

Weekly services to & from SW France Internal moves within France Containerised Storage Range of Packing services available Over 30 Years’ Experience

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

Full or Part Load Removals To & From France Tel: 0044 1622 690653 Email: info@anglofrenchmail.com

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www.anglofrenchremovals.co.uk UK Registration 543 77 60 UK

www.georgewhiteeuropean.co.uk

FRANKLINS REMOVALS LTD

Weekly trips between UK and France Everything from part loads to full house removals Fully insured and registered Over 25 years experience in transport and removals UK depot available for deliveries

A family business for 30 years, offering a professional service Packing services Full/part loads to and from the UK Vehicles transported Containerised storage Competitive prices Transit liability included

REMOVALS - STORAGE - GENERAL TRANSPORT - EXPRESS SERVICE SPAIN - UK - FRANCE

Phone David on 05 49 87 15 06 e-mail info@buzz-transport.com

Contact; Stephen Franklin

0044 (0)1283 792838 sales@franklinsremovals.co.uk

1 cubic metre to full trailer loads - Dedicated express loads Warehouse drop-off service - Single box, part load specialist Professional export packing service

www.buzz-transport.com

www.franklinsremovals.co.uk

For a free quotation, call or visit our website: +34 952 79 34 22 +34 952 80 76 92 www.murrayharper.com info@murrayharper.com

Man & Van Transport Genuine, Reliable & Honest Local + Europe + UK runs 14m3 capacity 4.2m load length English & French spoken “extremely professional, reliable and very good value for money” Siret: 530 213 644 00012

09 82 12 69 73

87150 Oradour-sur-Vayres

www.frenchvanman.eu

SECURE SELF STORAGE UNITS www.safe-garde.com

L’Atelier de Fer

Jeff’s Metalwork

Fraser W. Eade

Facebook: safegarde

General Engineering Turning, Milling, Welding Quality & Precision Guaranteed Forgeix, 87200 Saint Junien

Our units are dry, clean and purpose brick built with double lock galvanised roller shutter doors for added security. Easily accessed off junction 47 off the N145 towards Aubusson. Whether you’re a business or and individual, we are here to help.

www.livingmagazine.fr

05 55 71 41 75

frasereade87@gmail.com www.latelierdefer.com Siret: 512 945 874 00018

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Tel: 05 55 63 58 85

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Railings, Gates, Window Grilles Ornate interior/exterior designs Steel framed buildings constructed/redesigned General welding repairs/brazing Over 25 years experience Tel: 05 49 64 97 25 Mob: 06 05 54 87 81 jeffsmetalwork@mail.com

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quality UK-sourced furniture, delivered direct to your property in France from just £99 . Liaising with its customers from the initial enquiry through to furniture installation, ensures they are kept informed every step of the way. “With 12 years’ experience and thousands of deliveries under our belts throughout France, we have encountered almost everything and put that to good use when helping customers find the

T: 06 46 49 73 45

right furniture for their property,” said Brian Muir, the company’s managing director. Potential customers can view and discuss all the sofa, mattress and furniture options at the Meubles New Ideas showroom based near Brive, 19350. Rendez-vous by appointment at your convenience. Furniture delivered throughout France as well as, of course, locally to the Dordogne, Charente, Lot and Limousin.

E: info@furnitureforfrance.co.uk

Photo above: Ivory painted furniture with oak trim Photo left: Sofas available in a huge range of fabrics

www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk

Swimming pools, building services, artisans

piscine-plus.com

pools - spas - security - chemicals - accessories Pools from 12,400€ ttc installed in 2 weeks, free planning

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 www.poolsbyjonathan.com phone 0549840362 mobile 0622361056

Ian Dickinson BSc (Hons)

Architectural Designer Architectural designs, planning applications & project management for extensions, renovations, conversions and new build. Departments: 16, 17, 24, 79, 86 & 87 Tel/Fax: 05.46.98.22.01

e-mail: ian.dickinson@wanadoo.fr www.idarchitecturaldesign.com Siret: 81272725300013

SAND AND BLAST We provide a fully operated Sandblasting Service for Stone, Wood and Metal Perfect for stripping away years of grime & paint Contact us for a free quote or visit:

www.sandandblast.com Tel: 05 55 76 31 59 Mob: 06 77 40 95 92 steve@sand-and-blast.com bobby@sand-and-blast.com Covering 87, 36 & 23 but other depts considered

DOWN TO EARTH POOL DESIGN

Celebrating 20 years of installing All work completed by us, pools in France - genuine reas- design, excavation, construction surance for the future. & landscaping on completion. We will beat any like for like All work guaranteed. quote - just call us. Testimonials available on request. Main agents for Christal Pools Prices from €18,476 for 8x4m sales@piscine-plus.com - www.piscine-plus.com www.DownToEarthPoolDesign.com Email: stevethyer@aol.com

+33 (0)5 65 37 79 64

05 49 87 04 13

7, Ave Georges Pompidou 46300 Gourdon

Architectural Drawing Service

Sarl AUVIN Fabrication

Renovating your next property? Dreaming of a new build? Let me help you. Stairs & windows • Dossiers prepared All carpentry • Permis de construire Manufacture & renovation • Déclaration préalables in and around Charente (16) Siret: 49377035800015

05 53 52 36 05

Le Bourg à Moutardon 16700 Nanteuil-en-Vallée Tel. 05 45 31 03 05

ANDY MS

Andy Quick

Kitchens & Bathrooms The Roofing & Renovation Company from A-Z

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

website: andyms.free.fr email: andyms@free.fr siret:50263448800014

LION ROUGE Suppliers and installers of UPVC windows, doors and conservatories

Covering departments 16, 17 & 33

Call today on

05 46 70 25 87 Jonzac, Charente-Maritime

www.auvin-fabrication.com

lavieilleabbaye@orange.fr Peter Latus BA(Hons)

All leading Brands All associated minor works, modifications and repairs also undertaken e.g.. replace Kitchen worktops, taps, toilets etc. Dept. 16, 17

Siret 4933703570011

Established, registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance Roofing - Traditional, Interlocking and Slate Rendering, Pointing, Full and Part Renovations, Conversions andrewquick@orange.fr

05 49 27 22 67

depts 79, 86 & 16 www.building-services-france.com Siret: 499 474 302 00035

www.lionrouge.eu Keith Bassett GENERAL BUILDING SERVICES

Part or full renovations Roofing Plaster boarding All building works undertaken Tel: 05 49 27 52 99 Mob: 06 74 95 21 00 E: kajbassett@wanadoo.fr Based 79190

www.livingmagazine.fr

Siret 487 581 209 00011

CONTACT VIRGINIE AT

PDQFX

+44 (0) 207 220 1746

vm@pdqfx.com

Authorised by the FCA

61

Business Directory

FURNITURE for France is now in its thirteenth year of supplying quality furniture to properties in France. The company specialises in providing clients with a service that offers good

SIRET 47994761600021

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Quality Furniture - Convenient Delivery

Sarl

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FEATURED BUSINESS


GARY MOORE HEATING 20 YEARS IN HEATING, 10 YEARS IN FRANCE Siret: 491827705 00022

Ò Installation, servicing, repairs - oil, gas, solar, solid fuel Ò Fully qualified, fully registered, 10 year décennale insurance Ò Currently offering FREE supply & installation of bulk propane gas tanks

Tel: 05 45 29 68 73 | Mobile: 06 30 11 86 84 | Email: gary.moore@orange.fr

Building services, artisans Sarl

Bu

DOWN TO EARTH

France Fosse

South West

Construction

Fosse septique and accredited Micro station installer

Accredited Installers of Fosse septique, Compact Filters and Micro Station Systems

Professional, friendly reliable service with competitive prices. From conception to completion, we will even do the paperwork. All drainage problems, groundworks patios & driveways. Established 10 years, french registered & insured All work guaranteed - Testimonials available on request

For a guaranteed professional solution from initial application to achieving conformity Over 30 years’ experience

www.downtoearthvienne.com Email: stevethyer@aol.com

www.southwestfrancefosse.com Email: southwestfrancefosse@orange.fr Tel: 05 45 91 75 41 Mob: 06 04 14 84 86

05 49 87 04 13 Siret 4933703570011

Antony Wherrett

FOSSE FRANCE SOLUTIONS Fosse and Micro-station suppliers Th

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Business Directory

62

Independent supplier of affordable, reliable, high quality, environmentally friendly micro-stations and sewage treatment systems for both new builds and properties with a non-conforming fosse. All our systems are fully approved for use in France and we will not be beaten on price For a professional and friendly service, contact Clint: Tel: 05 45 85 47 40

fossefrancesolutions@gmail.com www.fossefrancesolutions.com UK registration 07 15 72 91

JAMES RICHARDSON

Imajica Joinery

SIRET: 789 956 125 00015

Electrical Installations Garden and Home Lighting Designs Integrated Security Alarms Fire Detection & Entry Systems Plumbing and Heating Total Project Management With 30 years experience I will see your project through from start to finish Contact Tony to discuss your requirements Tel - 0545644730 southwestconstruction @yahoo.co.uk

Carpenter ~ Joiner ktaylor.renovations@gmail.com Renovation Tiling ~ Drylining

Siren: 478 608 185 00011

the roof, the whole roof and nothing but the roof SLATE SPECIALIST

Roof repairs both large & small Roof replacement Roof renovations Roofing surveys for house purchase Chimney Removals Insurance claims Décennale (10 year) Insurance Based near Civray (86) EU validated Heritage Construction Company Tel: 06 32 19 50 53 E: admin@strictlyroofing.fr

www.strictlyroofing.fr

Cesar

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Constructions BTP

ESTABLISHED COMPANY, CONSCIENTIOUS & RELIABLE SERVICE Stuart Nicholls For a superior finish Port: 06.82.10.45.65 in wood, tile, plasterboard and general restoration Tel: 05.45.30.69.28 Specialising in kitchen 16420 Saint Christophe fitting & creative 100% client satisfaction to date - references available on request challenges 3 New Builds 3 Driveways 3 Renovations 3 Windows and Doors 3 Approved fosse septiques e Décennale InsurancSiret: Siret: 48115588500017 3 Ground works 517 604 997 00018

05 49 87 09 63

www.livingmagazine.fr

R

No job is too big or too small Renovations Covering Garage and Loft conversions PoitouPlumbing/electrics Ch arentes Kitchen & bathroom installations Woodburners For quote contact us at commercial@mcsbatiplus.com Tel: 06 69 67 67 06 www.mcsbatiplus.com

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exceptional service at competitive prices key holding • caretaking • maintenance • supervision • ad min help changeovers • cleaning • gardening • mail forwarding • translation

friendly people providing professional help to home owners in france www.LBVfrance.com

info@LBVfrance.com

+33 (0)5 45 70 20 98

Building services, artisans

~ South West France Roofing

MINI- PELLE, TRACTO PELLE All work conforms to current French regulations

The Experts For all your roofing solutions from repairs to complete recovers Plus all associated carpentry work, wood and tile treatment Over 30 years' experience

Tarifs interessants, Travail soigne, Devis gratuit

0545311940-0626714569

www.southwestfranceroofing .com Email: southwestfranceroofing@orange.fr Tel: 05 45 91 75 41 Mob: 06 0414 84 86

St laurent de Ceris - Montemboeuf Siret 494 719 826 00021

R.S.PAMPHILION 05.49.29.58.22

Carpenter Specialising in Kitchens, Bathrooms, Renovations & Building Works

ANDYMS Plumbing Elecuicitv Plasterboarding nling

Satellite dishes and Systems forthe reception of UK and French TV No Job too Small Dept1&,17

website: andvms.free.fr email: andvms@free.fr sirBt:50263448800014

Electrician

large or small projects, from new builds, total rewires (including 3 phase) to Having additional sockets/lights installed to Conformity Inspections

Tel: OS 49 91

85 54

PAINTER & DECORATOR Interior and exterior painting Paper hanging, tiling, flooring & dry lining ADAM BLACKABY

Artisan Peintre T: 0) 45 98 07 2) M: 06 23 18 30 95

peter-amor@orange.fr

adamblackaby@aol.com

All departments covered

Areas 16, 17. 24. 33. 79. 86

SIRET: 480 026 560 00012

Siret: 441490 992 00027

Top quality professional plastering lt building works. All aspects of plastering and building work undertaken to the highest standard. Specialising in all aspects of plastering, building and ground works from full renovations/ barn conversions to any small alterations or repairs etc. Sire!: 802541 72200012

Call for free advice or quotes. We cover 15okm from Confolens (16) Call luke: mob: 07 83 49 49 34 land: 05 49 83 o8 6o · l.dplasteri ng-buildi ng @o utlook.com

ELECTRICIAN

Multi Services

05 4649 78 30 I 067040 6601

Peter Am or

LD Plastering & Building

Andy Coope

GENERAL HANDYMAN 05 49 87 20 76 I 06 95 41 78 49

coo pe.ste ph en Cillo range. fr Specializing in Gardening, Strimming, Hedge Trimming etc., Painting & Decorating, Building Works, Fencing.

Anythmg you cannot do, or do not w1sh to do, please g1ve me a call.

Experienced, French Re9istered Electrtcian Available for all types of electrica I work renovations, small works, gate automations etc.

Insured and guaranteed Areas 16, 17, 24,47

OS 46 86 07 61 trevor.miell@btopenworld.com Siret 49376573200015

EXPERIENCED QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN REWIRES, NEW BUILD, ELECTRIC HEATING, HOME SECURITY, LIGHTNING PROTECTION, TV&AUDIO. WORK GUARANTEED & INSURED Areas: 16, 36, 37, 79, 86, 87 Tel: OS 49 SO 09 06 Mob: 06 70 97 59 56


Places to go

64

Places to go

Restaurants & bar s, Events, Associations and C lubs.

Cafe Cour du Miracle

Mad Hatter’s Kitchen Mad Hatters Kitchen serving freshly made good food just for you!

À L’ABRI DES PINS

Thurs & Fri lunches: 3 courses, wine included €15 Fri & Sat evening menu €25 Traditional 3-course Sunday lunch €19 All by reservation FULLY LICENSED BAR | BED & BREAKFAST

Philippe & Yveline offer traditional French Cuisine using fresh local ingredients Bourras 16200 Mérignac T: 05 45 35 81 27

Le Logis, Le Breuillac, 79190 Caunay

LEARN HOW TO PAINT FURNITURE

Inspirational, easy and fun chalk painting workshops, learning techniques such as waxing, distressing and crackle glaze. Two Pageas near Château de Chalus 87230 locations Mavaleix 24800

www.cafecourdumiracle.com

Repas gastronomic

Closed Monday & Tuesday

Café des Belles Fleurs Siret: 50089497700015

www.alabonnevie.com 05 49 95 91 60

Siret: 82207247600010

Workshop & Restaurant lunch: 95€ including materials 10am - 3pm

Paint Pot Workshops

Official Autentico stockist (10%-off for participants)

Call Julia: 06 68 43 41 96 | paintpotworkshops@gmail.com

Tea Rooms Confolens Food served all day including bacon sandwiches, all-daybreakfast, baked potato with toppings, a side salad and more. Also selling Irish/English produce & Gluten-free products. Come and enjoy the cosy country ambience. Tuesday to Saturday 10h-17h (11h-16hWeds & 10h-16h Sat) 21 Rue du Maquis Foch, 16500 Confolens 06 14 12 54 61 / 05 45 31 23 31 FB: Mary Burke(Theirishbelle)

Tel: Angela on 05 49 87 79 09 or Ben on 06 75 70 89 31 www.aafrancesud-ouest.com

Open Mon - Sat for meals Meal formula starts at 7.80€ Large choice of spirits & wines See website and FB for Events Place d’Eglise, 79160 Fenioux Tel: 05 49 28 12 39 cafedefenioux@gmail.com www.bellesfleurs.org

A big Thank You to all our Customers - we wish you a very very Happy Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2017 Now taking bookings for Christmas Party Lunches New Year’s Day Celebration Lunch Drop us a line via our website or call to book.

Please see our website for opening hours 2 rue de la Panique, 79130 Le Beugnon

Traditional English Food Large choice of beers Quizzes and Events lepubdeshalles

Closed Wednesday 7 Place André Bujeaud, 85210 Saint Hermine Tel: 02 51 30 23 95 E: lepub85210@orange.fr

THE ENGLISH SCHOOL OF HYPNOTHERAPY IN FRANCE Therapy & Courses in Benest

An Introduction to Hypnotherapy, NLP and Resolution Magic! Can you retrain your brain to gradually stop the progress of an illness? Can you make an unwanted feeling disappear? Can you change the course of your life? Learn many fascinating techniques on this series of courses. Agendas and further details are on the website.

www.resolutionmagic.com To book: telephone 0545 300387

Alcoholics Anonymous 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.

Tel: 02 51 00 54 93

06 31 64 85 14

www.abri-des-pins.com

info@madhatters.fr / www.madhattersfrance.eu

The Irish Belle

Come along for a beer, a glass of wine, a cup of English tea and a slice of homemade cake, or a delicious home-cooked lunch. Open 11.00am to 6.00pm - until 10.00pm Friday evening

Christmas & New Year’s Day Lunch €54 €64 with Drinks & Coffee New Year’s Eve Dinner €76 all inclusive

Fri 16 Dec: Mad Hatter’s Christmas party with the Billy Whizz band 20€ (inc menu) Open Christmas Day: 65€ pp (all inclusive) New Year’s Eve: Hot and cold Buffet, drinks, live music with The Roadhogs 50€ New Year’s Day: Champagne and seafood buffet 2.30pm Live music with Jack Sinatra 50€ Please ring or e mail for more info 0549 27 67 29

Workshop: 45€ including painting materials 2pm - 5pm

Vouvant

Restaurant en Charente

We need your help...

www.rblpoitoucharentes.fr

L i ving MAGAZINE

As Living continues to grow, we need your help to keep the magazine free and widely available. We now deliver over 33,000 copies to more than 1,000 stockist across the region. If you enjoy the magazine and would like to help keep the magazine in stock in your area, we would love to hear from you. Perhaps you would be happy to deliver a few packets of the magazine every other month to local businesses and associations as you pass them? We are particularly looking for help in Dordogne (24), the Dronne Valley (16/24), west Charente-Maritime (17).

If you think you could help us, please drop an email to distribution@ammfrance.com to discuss what would be involved. It would be great to hear from you!

www.livingmagazine.fr


M UpBeat

living music | 65

for a song

The peculiarly romantic soundtrack of all the highs and lows of daily life in France? Why, “C’est la chanson...” – but what exactly is it, and why does it still tug the heartstrings?

W

e often hear references to ‘French chanson style’ by the media, but seldom with any attempt to define what exactly it is or how it became established as a musical genre. To most of us it’s simply a case of ‘you know it when you hear it’ – but sooner or later questions need answers, so let’s see whether we can lay this particular one to rest. Listen to mainstream French radio stations like Nostalgie or Cherie FM and one of the things which you’ll notice about home-grown music is a surprising dominance of solo artistes, rather than group acts. Another is that many of them have been around for a very long time, which tells you something about the loyalty of the French music fans for their respective idols. Become a successful singer in France, remain productive and there’s a good chance that you’ll have a career for life – if not longer. Some songs, and the memories of those who popularised them, have achieved a kind of immortality. When Edith Piaf recorded her ‘La Vie en Rose’ in 1946 (with lyrics by Louis Guglielmi) it soon became an anthem for war-torn France, propelled ‘le petit oiseau de Belleville’ to worldwide fame and still resonates with today’s listeners. The same year Charles Trenet (who had the distinction of having written every song he ever recorded) released his lilting ‘La Mer’, another true classic, and which in time attracted hundreds of cover versions. In a way

sang with world-weary cynicism of tangled relationships, while the other employed touches of humour to express a taste for political anarchy. They were followed by a succession of artistes — Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Claude François, Joe Dassin, Maxime Le Forestier, Alain Souchon, Laurent Voulzy, Daniel Balavoine, Renaud, Bénabar... and the list continues to grow. The common thread uniting all of them is one of the defining qualities of what we now think of as ‘chanson’, namely an unmistakable essential ‘Frenchness’ which remains alive and well in the psyche of modern, multicultural France. On any weekend you can bet that across the nation friends will be enjoying relaxed evenings in convivial settings, and that when the meal is over and everyone is nicely mellow someone will launch into something like ‘Mon they and their contemporaries were Amant de Saint-Jean’ – and the singing the natural successors to the bal musette style which appeared in Paris during the won’t stop until they’ve worked their way through a sizeable collection of late-19th century, only this time with a chanson classics which everyone knows broader, nationwide appeal propagated word-for-word. by radio. That perhaps gives us the final key The 1950s witnessed the arrival of to decoding the chanson phenomenon. two very different singer/songwriters, Such staying power requires a constant who would turn out to be both hugely successful and highly influential. Jacques supply of songs from talented writers (not necessarily the artistes themselves) Brel (who was actually a Frenchspeaking Belgian) and Georges Brassens with something to say, and who can express it with style, sensitivity and the (whose mother was Italian) voiced the sentiments of many of their generation, elusive ‘tingle factor’. See some of the Brel with self-assured theatrical intensity genre’s best performers at Les Francofolies de La Rochelle 2017 and Brassens with a subtle mellow www.francofolies.fr. acoustic guitar accompaniment. One Bénabar Bruxelles

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66 | living Language

Pardon?

A

s time goes by, you may find yourself wondering if you’ll ever learn French, even if you are up at the crack of dawn every day in your efforts. If you feel that you’ll never learn anything about the language as it’s been donkey’s years since you studied it at school, don’t let it keep you up until all hours. The hours, days of the week and years give us many expressions in French just as they do in English. Some of them are straightforward, like being in your Sunday best, les habits du dimanche. Some are a little out, like les giboulées du mars or “March showers” instead of April showers. That said, many references to time, days and months in French are a little curious if translated literally. But what does it mean if you attach Monday to Tuesday, if a week has four Thursdays, or if someone turns up like March in Lent? There are many expressions with l’heure that you’ll hear in French, just as you might hear “the witching hour” or “the small hours” in English. One I like in particular is le quatre heure. The four o’clock. If British people have elevenses for snacks, then the French have le quatre heure also known as le goûter. When you finish school and it feels a long time until dinner, you need something for le quatre heure. You may also hear the expression remettre les pendules à l’heure or “to set the clocks on time”. Although you can of course use this expression literally, you can also use it to mean that we are getting our facts straight, to put the record straight, to get back on track or even to redress the balance.

L i ving

Finding the time to learn French with language expert Emma Lee

attacher lundi avec mardi. In fact, you can use this phrase with most days of the week, like boutonner dimanche avec lundi. It means that you’ve done your buttons up wrongly or that you’re a little higgledy-piggledy. Sunday is a day that has lots of expressions to itself, beyond dressing in your Sunday best. You can be a bricoleur du dimanche in France, which is a DIY enthusiast. If you only get your toolbox out on a Sunday, you’re definitely a Sunday Builder. In fact, you can add du dimanche to a lot of things to mean an amateur, just as we say a Sunday driver in English to mean someone who doesn’t Another time expression you might get out on the roads much during the hear à l’heure du laitier. At the time of the rest of the week. milkman. It’s not a stretch to work out In fact, if someone doesn’t get out what time this expression refers to, it much or they have a very limited world would be very early indeed, the crack of view, you can advise them to go out on dawn maybe. Interestingly, we sometimes Sundays. Il faut sortir le dimanche! means use a dairy expression ourselves in English that you’re telling someone they need in another sense: until the cows come to get out into the big, wide world a home. You’d probably best translate this little and expand their horizons. You can in French use it to mean they’re a little narrowwith jusqu’à la St Glinglin. With St Glinglin minded, but generally it’s a humorous being a totally made-up saint, you’d be expression to mean they’ve not seen doing something for a very long time if much of the world. If they’re a bit wet you were doing it to their saint day! behind the ears, you can also call them Another expression that also has a the baby partridge of the year, le perdreau sense of something that will never de l’année, implying that they were born happen is la semaine de quatre jeudis. yesterday and they’re a bit naive. With all those timely expressions, don’t Like cows coming home, pigs flying delay. There’s no time like the present. A or months of Sundays, the week of little practice with some of them and you’ll four Thursdays is an impossibility. In be flavour of the month in no time. French, you can also say “until hens have teeth” to mean the same thing: Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, writing quand les poules auront des dents. English textbooks, translating, marking exam There are a few other expressions scripts and teaching languages. She lives near with days of the week in French that La Rochefoucauld with her growing menagerie. you can use, such as boutonner or See www.english-tuition.weebly.com

Editor: Kathryn Dobson FEATURES EDITOR: Roger Moss Advertising: Jon Dobson Art editor: Nadia Van den Rym Production manager: Justin Silvester Regular contributors: Ron Cousins, Alan Coxon, Caro Feely, Susan Hays, magazine Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Chris Luck and Stig Tomas. WITH THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler, Julia Moss. Photography: Shutterstock or Roger Moss unless indicated. Cover image: Shutterstock © Aprilante Published by: SARL AMM, 2 Rue Buffefeu, 86400 Linazay FRANCE. Poitiers: 533 624 128. Printed by: Rotimpres S.A., Pla De L’estany S/N,17181 Aiguaviva, Espagne. Dépôt légal: A parution. ISSN: 0753-3454. Living Magazine is free. Living Magazine est disponible gratuitement. All material may not be reproduced without the written permission of SARL AMM. Toute reproduction même partielle du contenu est interdit sans l’accord écrit du magazine. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere around the world. Articles in this issue do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine.

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LEGGETT

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST

Wishing all our clients - past, present and future all the very best for a festive season and 2017. Thinking of a new career in 2017 ? We are looking for agents in the area to join our team. If you are motivated, energetic, proactive and have a reasonable level of French why not get in touch for more details. Contact Maxine Enderby: Email: max79@leggett.fr or call 06 77 35 91 79.

Ref: 69446 Only 300m from the beach Ref: 70005 Secluded 3 bed / 2 bath this 3 bed / 2 bath home is an easy rental. village cottage with an 80m² barn. Vendee €278,200 Charente Maritime €162,000

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Ref: 69469 Well equipped, 4 bed / 2 bath art deco style house with pool. Charente €222,500

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