Living Magazine - December/January 2023

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to our December / January issue

The holiday season is upon us and so the team at Living HQ send all our readers and advertisers our warmest wisheswe hope the end of this year and the welcoming of 2023 is happy for all. Like many, our festivities will be taking place with toasts to absent family and friends. The gradual resumption of travel means that we can, at last, see those that we have missed but, in our case, it means that our children can start exploring again too. While I loved our family Christmases through the pandemic, they were tinged with a sense that so many opportunities were being delayed, so I am grateful that our world is once more turning.

Of course, this year has been full of challenges even as the pandemic took a back seat for a while. The war in Ukraine and the suffering caused will be top of mind for many alongside the climate issues. It’s difficult not to be overwhelmed at times by the severity of the problems faced by so many, so it is important to take time out and appreciate what we have around us, family, friends, nature and so much more. We hope, this is where Living comes in as we share our love of the region with you.

So, what do we have in store for you this issue? I have always loved stained glass, as a young child I remember being mesmerised by the colours from a small panel hanging in the window of my Dad’s study. It was, therefore, not a surprise that our timely feature on rather larger examples found here in France has rekindled in me my desire to get out and about visiting some of these sites. For fun, we look at 20 quintessentially French icons and how they came into being - how many will you recognise? We also have a fascinating interview with a therapist who helps children transition to a new country and language, along with her top tips. Something I will definitely be doing this year is making my own Christmas wreath, just turn to our outdoor pages for help and advice. And if you are heading off to the slopes with novices, make sure to read our article about learning to ski in France before you depart. Then there are our usual columns, delicious recipes, news and views so there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

Wishing you a lovely Christmas season and a very Happy New Year,

A bientôt!


LIVING EDITOR’S LETTER | 3 Read online at


EDITOR: Kathryn Dobson

SALES: Jon Dobson


REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Caro Feely, Susan Hays, Jessica Knipe, Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Mike Morris, Roger Moss and Stig Tomas.

THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler

PHOTOGRAPHY: Roger Moss or Shutterstock unless indicated.

COVER IMAGE: Mulled Wine ©Sea Wave/Shutterstock

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Dépôt légal: A parution ISSUE: 87 ISSN: 2270-2709

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6 Snippets Local news from around the region 16 Pure Alchemy Roger Moss looks beyond the festive imagery to delve into the mystical qualities of stained glass 22 20 Quintessentially French Icons Twenty of our favourite objects that shout they are designed and produced in France...

Lay Some Tracks In France skiing is for everyonewe show you how and where you can join the party

Finding your French Groove Expert advice on overcoming obstacles children may face as they transition to life in a new country 36

Practical Advice Your questions answered

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What’s in a Unit? ‘Tis the season to be merry, but everything is best in moderation as Caro Feely explains...
Sauzé-Vaussais in Deux-Sèvres
Festive Wreaths Fashion a delightful Christmas wreath with Rosie Neave
Lee’s foray into French



Immigration Reforms

The French Government has announced a series of reforms to the immigration process which are expected to take effect from early 2023. The package aims to balance the need for more skilled workers with tougher rules for law breakers. A new class of titres de séjour for workers in certain professions deemed under pressure (‘métier en tension’) will be created, and the process for undocumented workers to regularise their situation will be revised, a measure long called for by unions. The OQTF (obligation de quitter le territoire français) system will also be overhauled to ensure that OQTFs are only issued when necessary and are followed up to ensure the person leaves the territory. Family immigration rules will also be revised to include a test of language level for multi-year titres de séjour applications rather than a requirement to attend lessons. Anyone protected by the Withdrawal Agreement will not be affected nor will anyone with EU citizenship. There was good news for those wishing to renew titres de séjour with the promise that renewal of rights and visas would become automatic for law-abiding residents, hopefully removing the need for people to queue for hours outside some préfectures.


Schools across the region break up for the Christmas holidays on Friday 16 December and return on Tuesday 3 January.

The national fundraising weekend supporting research into genetic diseases takes place on 2-3 December. Check locally for Téléthon events or watch the coverage on television.

Bordeaux’s Marché de Noël runs until 25 December and is open from 10.30am to 9pm. The lights will be switched on from 9 December to 1 January (but will be switched off between 1-7am).

La Semaine du Son by UNESCO begins on 16 January and, in fact, runs for a fortnight. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, themes include hearing, health, innovation and the pleasure of orchestral sharing. Watch out for details of nearby events.

New Records Set

October 2022 was the hottest month of October in France since records began in 1900. The average temperature was around 17°C, 3 to 4 degrees above normal, and higher than the previous record set in 2001 of 16.3 Meteo-France announced. Bordeaux topped the charts on 16 October registering the latest 30°C in a year since records began. While beach resorts across Europe extended their season, concern was raised in the Alps where all-year-round glacier skiing was closed this summer because the high temperatures were damaging the glaciers.

Letters to Santa

Children across the region have until 17 December to write to Santa and his elves if they would like a reply, or they can email him if they prefer. Just post the letters to Santa in any post box. Make sure they are addressed to Père Noël (no stamp or additional address needed) or you can email him, see for full details. Remember to write your address on the reverse if you would like a reply.

Second-Home Taxes

An amendment to the Finance Law has been passed which allows an additional 4,000 smaller communes across France to increase taxes on second homes from next year. This measure has already been in place since 2017 in some communes with over 50,000 residents, for example Bordeaux, La Rochelle and around Arcachon. While main residences no longer attract taxe d’habitation from 2023, second homes do, and in areas defined as under housing pressure, zones tendues, this can be increased by between 5-60%. Bordeaux applies a surcharge of 60%, La Rochelle applies 50% while towns around Arcachon Bay cap the increase at 30%. Many more towns along the Atlantic Coast are now able to increase taxes on second homes to help pay for additional tourism infrastructure as well as low-cost housing for local families. It is up to town councils whether they implement the changes with some communes concerned that increasing costs will lead to second-home owners leaving. For many, tourism is key to the local economy and only about 20% of eligible communes have applied the surcharge to date. As budgets tighten and costs rise, this may change.

New Codes

From 11 December, local TER trains across Nouvelle-Aquitaine will have new codes indicating how frequently they stop: Liné’R: trains offer a local service stopping at all stations along the way (L), Facilit’R: these routes are adapted for journeys from home to work or school and are more frequent in the morning and evening serving local commuters (F), Direct’R: these timetables are based on the quickest route between large towns (D). The aim of the new classification is to make it easier for passengers to identify the best train for their journey.

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The pick of the news that will affect you wherever you live in south west France…
Idimmo, Prestige & Châteaux 42 Rue Grosse Horloge, 17400 St Jean D’Angély. Tel: +33 (0)5 46 33 19 13 €399,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur Ref Lo21: St Denis du Pin (17). 10km from St Jean d’Angely this lovely house set in land of 2326m2 has 220m2 habitable area. Large garage plus an outbuilding that could be converted to a gite. €360,400 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur Ref Cas36: Varaize (17). 4-bed house, 9km from St Jean d’Angély. Large outbuilding. 4119m2 land, part of which is
construction land. €795,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du vendeur Ref Cas34: Torxé (17). Large domain set in 1,41Ha of land. The main house has 362m2 of habitable area plus there is the attic to convert if required. The gite has 90m2 of habitable area. Various outbuildings.
Exclusive Exclusive Energy class: en cours Energy class: en cours Energy class: en cours Exclusive Exclusive Wishing all our clients a very Merry Christmas! Energy class: C Climate class: D
Honoraires à la charge du vendeur
Cas35: Saint Martin de Juillers(17). This amazing property has fallen into disrepair with some renovations undertaken including a kitchen/ diner, bathroom and 2 bedrooms. The remainder is waiting for you!


Late Frosts

Kiwi growers across the region are counting the cost of five frosts in April which, along with cold days, have led to a very poor harvest. Charente-Maritime has twenty growers who have seen this year’s harvest plummet by 90% compared to previous years. The southwest is France’s leading kiwi growing region producing about 80% of the national harvest. Growers in Lot-et-Garonne, the leading area for kiwis, were not as affected with yields remaining similar to previous years.

UK Voting Rights

Currently, an estimated 3.4 million UK citizens living overseas are disenfranchised and, in 2016, more than 60% of UK citizens living in the EU had no vote in the UK EU referendum that led to the removal of EU citizenship rights and changed lives forever. British in Europe campaigned for five years to protect British citizens’ EU citizenship rights and to reinstate lifelong voting rights in the UK. This was successful, and the Elections Act 2022 restored lifelong voting rights for UK citizens living overseas, but it still needs to be implemented. The group has announced that they have secured funding to support their campaign to ensure that the secondary implementing legislation is delivered and that it works, an essential step in reclaiming the votes for the British diaspora. You can follow their progress at

Migration Changes

In a France 3 interview, the president of La Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) based in Charente-Maritime, Allain BougrainDubourg, highlighted some of the changes that we are seeing in bird migration due to climate change. Swallows are departing late while swifts have been seen to land in Spain and then return as though the migration has been completed. The concern is that when winter hits, there will be limited food sources, but the birds will not be ready to depart. The lack of rain this year is affecting water birds returning to wetlands that have not yet been replenished, he observed. He did share some good news - storks will now be able to spend the winter in Charente-Maritime and therefore avoid the dangers of migration. An astonishing 75% of storks migrating for the first time are lost and 30% of those in their second year.

Winter Flights

Ryanair has suspended flights between La Rochelle Airport and Stansted until the end of March when the summer season begins (they normally run a winter service). Ryanair says there was low occupancy of these flights although the airport maintains the flights were popular. Only flights to Marseille and Lyon from La Rochelle will continue during the winter months.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION... Île de Oléron LA ROCHELLE Royan Marennes Rochefort Surgeres Île de Ré CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Saintes Rouillac Ruffec Jarnac Cognac Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne ANGOULEME CHARENTE (16) CONFOLENS
Church Services The English-speaking Chaplaincy in Poitou-Charentes will be holding a number of services through December: SUNDAY 4 DECEMBER
(16): 10.30am - Morning Worship Courcelles (17): 10.30am - Holy Communion
(79): 11.00am - Morning Worship
(16): 10.30am - Eucharist
on Zoom at 10.30am
- Nine Lessons and Carols
- Christmas Day Eucharist
more information:
Chef-Boutonne (79): 11.00am

Bande Dessinée

2023 marks the 50th edition of the popular comic strip festival in Angoulême which will run from 26-29 January. The programme will be revealed at the end of November in Paris, but it promises to ‘turn resolutely towards the future’ with a focus on a younger audience. Ten emerging talents from across the world will feature in the ‘Jeunes Talents’ pavilion and the 2000m² Manga City will build on the continuing success of this art form. Today, one in two comics sold in France is manga. 100 original artworks by Hajime Isayama from ‘The Attack of the Titans’ will be exhibited.

Cantona in Town

It has been reported that Eric Cantona, international football star turned actor, will be filming a new series for M6 in Charente and Dordogne between 16 January and 10 February. He will be playing a father who found his missing daughter through social media and now offers to help others looking for loved ones. This is one of a mini-series of short films which will be shown under the generic title ‘Les citoyens anonymes’ or Anonymous Citizens. All the films will be filmed in NouvelleAquitaine beginning in Angoulême.


A new club affiliated with Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs (AFVBC) has started in north Charente-Maritime. They meet on the second Sunday of each month at 10.15am at the Relais d’Aulnay. Serving or retired members of all three services are welcome. For more information email Allan at:

Pesticide Awareness

Saint-Rogatien (17), just north of La Rochelle, has become the centre of a series of public health revelations thanks to a small association formed in 2018. The ‘Avenir Santé Environnement’ association was founded as a response to many children becoming ill in the town which only has some 2,000 residents. Factors that were highlighted for investigation included an asphalt plant, high voltage lines, possible asbestos contamination of local soils and pesticides (CharenteMaritime uses the most glyphosate in France). In one investigation, chlortoluron, a powerful herbicide used in agriculture, was found to be present in very high levels in the drinking water of local towns for several days. The media coverage achieved by the organisation has helped raise awareness and La Rochelle has since financed a second atmospheric study. They are now working with other environmental associations to ask for the banning of certain pesticides.


Chestnut Bonanza

No frosts leading to bumper flowering and pollination have resulted in an exceptional chestnut harvest this year, although the summer drought has meant that the nuts are smaller than usual. While the overall harvest is good news for local growers, it has highlighted issues in the supply chain further on. With most local chestnuts being sold fresh, the market has quickly become saturated meaning that some of the harvest was left on the ground. There is a larger market for chestnuts for use in the production of yoghurts, cakes etc., but local growers are not set up to supply manufacturers who instead buy from abroad. Support given to farmers to plant chestnut trees in the past means that more chestnut trees are coming to maturity each year so finding ways to preserve and prepare chestnuts is key to the ongoing viability of chestnut farms in the department.


For a treat over the holiday season head to the Domaine de Rochebois, 6km outside Sarlat-le-Canéda at Vitrac. The hotel offers a 9-hole golf course, spa, swimming pool, bar and 3 restaurants. Closed for most of the past decade while new owners were sought, the 19th century convent was purchased last year by two couples who spent 6 months and 7 million euros renovating the 40 rooms before opening earlier this year. Surprisingly, despite being the second mostvisited département after Paris, Dordogne was lacking a 5-star hotel, a gap that has now been filled. Rooms cost from 180€ per night while meals in the gastronomic restaurant ‘M’ begin at 45€ for the Initiation menu rising to 110€. Alternatively, dine at the less formal ‘Le Wedge’ or on the panoramic terrace ‘La 360’.

Dordogne-Périgord Trail

A second cross-country course under the Dordogne-Périgord Trail label has been opened at Bayac. The scheme aims to develop courses along some of the most attractive walking routes, respecting the rights of landowners as well as the environment. Four levels have been created, with colour coding based on ski course grading - green (easiest), blue, red to black (hardest). The routes are all loops with less than 20% of the distance on roads and they are open to both walkers/runners and cyclists. The routes are marked by permanent, reflective signs. The first course opened at Saint Mesmin with five different routes (2 blue, 2 red and a black) around the Gorges de l’Auvézère.

Noël at Périgueux

Périgueux has a packed Christmas agenda this year. Its Village de Noël runs from 3-31 December with night markets on each Friday and Saturday until 9pm, as well as on Sunday 18 December. Le Village Enchanté for children will return with a carousel and visits to Père Noël. Watch the switching on of the city’s illuminations in front of the Palais de Justice on 2 December at 5.30pm but the hours will be reduced this year to conserve energy. From 16-31 December there will be a 10-minute son et lumières show projected onto the walls of the Saint-Front Cathedral which will run several times between 6.30-7.30pm.
DORDOGNE PÉRIGUEUX DORDOGNE (24) Canéda Montignac Riberac Brantôme Bergerac
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Water Battles

We’ve reported before on the growing concerns over water storage for use in agriculture. Both CharenteMaritime and Deux-Sèvres historically have a water deficit each summer and local farmers have applied to develop water reservoirs which would be filled over winter and used through the summer period. Even before the current drought, there was concern over the impact this ‘water grabbing’ would have on local water sources and wetlands which also rely on the winter rains to fill. As well as ecological concerns, there are also politics and economical arguments. The areas are important sources of food, so water would otherwise need to be shipped in from elsewhere, and 70% of the financing comes from the State. The argument became more physical at the end of October when ‘Bassines Non Merci’ organised a large rally at the Sainte-Soline (79) site. The construction of this ‘mega-bassin’ to hold 650,000m3 of water, the second of 16 to be built, began earlier this year. Thousands of demonstrators were met by a heavy police presence and tear gas was deployed, although construction has since re-started. Several other reservoir sites are now on hold although the Vienne department agreed a project to include 30 reservoirs just a few days after the demonstrations.


Vallée du Pressoir

Currently classified as an espace naturel sensible, or sensitive natural area, this deep valley near Thouars (79) has long been popular with walkers for its rocky landscape and the Pommiers waterfall. The area is home to hundreds of species of fauna and flora, many protected, which grow on the soil of granite and limestone. With 7,000 visitors a year, the team at Mauzé-Thouarsais responsible for the site’s upkeep believes it is time to increase the level of protection on the site to exclude hunting, off-road mountain biking and more. An application to become a réserve naturelle régionale (regional nature reserve) in 2024 has been prepared. The consultation period has now been completed, and the application will be submitted before the end of the year.

CRIT’Air Scam

Gendarmeries are warning the public to be careful of SMS messages putting pressure on to buy a car pollution sticker or risk a fine. This is a repeat of the technique used previously in scams involving Cartes Vitale and CPF. If you answer the message and provide bank details to buy a sticker, the scammers withdraw several hundred euros a few days later. To buy a sticker, go to the government site at - no SMS will be sent.


Based in Dompierre-sur-Yon (85), start-up company Célérifère is hoping to conquer the French trotinette market with their electric scooter IMI. Made locally from eco-materials which have not been treated or painted, the scooters fold up and store vertically, ideal for small spaces. The small canister-shaped batteries also detach. The scooters are easy to repair using standard tools and can be personalised. Batteries are removable, and a charge lasts for 3.5 hours. Prices start at €1,800 ttc.


The annual motorbike rally will take place on 17 December leaving Fontenay-le-Comte (85) in the direction of Sables-d’Olonne, stopping in Luçon on the way.
DEUX SEVRES (79) VENDÉE (85) Thouars St Jean de Monts de moutier St Gilles Croix de Vie Chantonnay Luçon La Tranche sur Mer Les Sables d’Olonne Les Herbiers Montalgu Bressuire NIORT LA ROCHE SUR-YON SévreNantaise St-MaixentL’école Melle Parthenay Sévre Niortaise

Food Waste

The team from the local food initiative ‘NoGasp!’ works with suppliers to find products that are excluded from normal supply routes, perhaps because vegetables are deemed out of specification or the products are short-dated, and which would go to waste otherwise. With 10 million tonnes of food products wasted in France each year, there is significant scope for improvement, and the anti-food waste stores also save consumers’ money with reductions of between 20-40% on prices. Having opened a store near Angoulême (16) in February 2020, a second store in Chauray (79) near Niort opened earlier this year. Each store aims to sell 2025 tonnes of product each month. Meanwhile, France’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, has committed to a 60-million-euro fund for sustainable food aid projects to encompass national and local schemes. Among the ideas being discussed are food cheques for vulnerable groups to help them buy better quality food along with local initiatives between farmers and producers to provide good quality, sustainable foods locally.

Avian Flu

Grippe aviaire continues to be a national concern with the country on high alert, and it is circulating in the region. There have been several outbreaks on Vendée farms recently including turkey, duck and laying hen facilities. Cases have also been found in neighbouring DeuxSèvres and Charente-Maritime. It is thought that the illness was transmitted to the flocks via wild birds. To try to curb the spread, all commercial flocks must now be kept under cover, and the transport of birds is prohibited around infected farms. Check with your mairie for restrictions on private flocks, such as keeping under netting and away from wild birds, and ensure that any cases are reported to the relevant authorities.


Stocking Filler

Local author Gillian Harvey has drawn on her experience of living in Limousin for her latest novel. This is her third fiction book but the first based in France. “I’ve lived in France for 13 years and knew I wanted to set a book here, but was waiting for the right idea to strike,” she says. “In writing about Lily’s unexpected move to France, I drew on my own experience and that of people I’ve met here. I enjoyed describing the gorgeous scenery and beautiful French buildings, but also drew humour from the kind of culture clashes or misinterpretation of language that can occur. Some of Lily’s original misconceptions about what life in France would be like were similar to my own on moving here – you never really know what it’s like until you experience the life for yourself.” A Year at the French Farmhouse is published by Boldwood and available in all good bookstores.

Pony Bikes

Poitiers has chosen start-up company Pony to supply 450 electric scooters and 450 electric bikes for short trips. The self-service vehicles can be rented by scanning their QR code into a dedicated app. All trips are recorded on the app and all equipment is geolocated to prevent theft and ensure the vehicles are parked in the designated spaces. The scooters are limited to 25 km/h or 10 km/h in pedestrianised areas and the bikes are designed to carry two people. Once you have downloaded the ‘Pony Bikes’ app just fill in your phone number and bank details and look for a vehicle near you. Each journey costs 1€ to start and then 15 centimes per minute. At the end of the journey, take a photo of the vehicle showing it parked correctly in one of the bays - abandoning it elsewhere risks a fine of 25€. Monthly subscriptions are also available.

Forest School

The commune of Feytiat (87) has set aside six of its 120 hectares of forest in which to teach its 150 pupils about sustainability and forests as part of a program launched in 1,000 communes across France. ‘La forêt fait école’ scheme aims to increase children’s awareness of forestry issues and is run in conjunction with the national forestry federation. To understand the sustainable and multifunctional management of the forest and the role of their commune in it, the children regularly go to their plot, meet forestry workers, make proposals for their Educational Forest and then pass the plot on to a new group of children at the end of the year. By twinning with schools in Quebec, children learn about the international aspect including global issues such as climate change.

Beekeeping Woes

Beekeepers across the region are counting the cost of the summer heat waves which have impacted the health of the bees and the hives. In the Gironde, fires destroyed hives placed in and around the pine forests, while across the region the drought meant that many summer flowers never bloomed, particularly heather. In Vienne, beekeepers found the heat melted the wax in the hives, suffocating the bees. Where hives were moved into shade or covered with branches and provided with additional water, the volume of wax produced was significantly down on previous years and the number of specialist varieties reduced.

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

Saint Cyr

This much-frequented leisure lake was closed in late August after water analysis showed the presence of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. These produce toxins that are harmful to animals and humans and so all nautical and aquatic activities were immediately prohibited. This was a blow for the site which has the only blue-flag beach in Vienne and has dented finances. In October, the bacteria were still present leading to the cancellation of further activities such as the French Rescue Dog Championship which was relocated to Deux-Sèvres. Researchers at Poitiers University are now trying to understand more about the phenomenon and how future occurrences can be prevented. The 300-hectare Domaine is a popular tourist attraction as well as an important site for biodiversity.

Tour de France 2023

The route for next year’s cycle race has been unveiled in Paris and three stages of the men’s race pass through our region along with one of the women’s. The men’s Grand Départ will be the second to take place in the autonomous region of the Basque Country after Saint-Sébastien’s in 1992 and the 25th to be held abroad. After three stages on the western side of the Pyrenees, the rest of the Tour will take place in France. It will visit 6 regions and 23 departments. The race will visit all five of France’s mountain massifs and there are three new climbs: the Côte de Vivero (Basque Country), the Col de la Croix Rosier (Massif Central) and the Col du Feu (Alps). The Puy de Dôme, which hasn’t appeared on the Tour route since 1988, will be making an eagerly awaited return after its 35-year absence. A total of 2.3 million euros will be awarded to the teams and riders including 500,000€ to the final winner of the overall individual classification. The race will be held from 1-23 July with stages 7, 8 and 9 racing from Mont-de-Marsan (40) to Puy de DÔme (63) via Bordeaux (33), Libourne (33), Limoges (87) and Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat (87). The 3rd stage of the women’s Tour (23-30 July) races from Collonges-la-Rouge (24) to MontignacLascaux (24).

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Pure Alchemy

The next time you step inside a medieval Gothic cathedral and discover a vast interior flooded with sunlight, it’s worth remembering that while it means we can admire the proportions and decorative touches of the architecture it’s actually the last thing its creators

FAR LEFT: Arbre de Jessé (c1150), Chartres Cathedral

TOP LEFT: Life of Saint-Martin (13th century), Tours Cathedral

LEFT: Arbre de Jessé by Georges Braque, Varengeville-sur-Mer (1956)

ABOVE: 20th century vitrail by Jacques Juteau, Saintes Cathedral

intended. In fact, all those tall windows with clear glass were originally filled with vibrant stained glass or ‘vitraux’, whose production processes were shrouded in secrecy. Let’s look at how this came about.

Whenever we admire a painting or a fresco we happily accept the fact that what we’re seeing, however brilliantly executed, is two-dimen sional. When faced with translucent stained glass, though, we’re no longer simply looking at the images, but also through them – but to what, exactly?

If it happens to be the sun, then the white light passing through the glass is

transformed, projecting vibrant colours onto any nearby surface – and as the sun moves, so do the projected rays. In a calm, contemplative setting the effect can have an ethereal quality with the potential to lift the spirits, and notions of what might be glimpsed beyond stained glass would change forever the design of religious spaces, from modest chapels to vast cathedrals.

Until comparatively recently the population of France (and elsewhere) was largely illiterate, so those attending mass would pass through ornate west-facing portals whose stonework featured stirring, intricately sculpted

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We look beyond the festive imagery to delve into the mystical qualities of stained glass

scenes from the Old Testament designed to keep the faithful on the straight and narrow. Once inside, their services would be conducted in relative darkness lit only by candlelight, for early medieval windows were small and limited in number, something which will be obvious from the moment you enter one of the many ancient Romanesque churches or abbeys which survive in our region. Some retain further powerful imagery in the form of

frescoes applied to the walls and vaults, many examples having only come to light during restoration work, after being hidden for centuries beneath layers of plain limewash. In Nouvel le-Aquitaine we’re fortunate enough to possess the finest examples in all France at the UNESCO-listed former Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Savin (86). However, regardless of their scale and impact, there’s no escaping the fact that wall paintings (even by flickering candlelight) confine our attention to an interior space, rather than what might lie above and beyond it. To the Church this was an obstacle to heavenly contemplation and the medieval belief that light could offer sparkling visions of heaven itself. Among the first to mention the divine qualities of light was Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, whose 12th century writings refer to that passing through stained glass as its ‘most sacred’ form, a revolutionary reference to something more spiritual

than simply bringing daylight to an otherwise dark interior.

Abbot Suger’s convictions would soon be set in stone in his radical reconstruction of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, whose unprecedented areas of stained glass sparked a total rethink of how religious buildings would be conceived. The resulting Gothic revolution which swept through Europe produced a wave of astonishing structures with huge windows intended to maximise the displays of rich stained glass. The resulting vibrant depictions of biblical scenes in what were effectively medieval slide shows meant that illiteracy need no longer be a barrier to religious education.

Suddenly the demands on the technical abilities of skilled glass makers were elevated almost to those of the great architects. Unlike imagery simply painted onto the surface as with ‘decorated glass’, the colours of stained glass actually lie within the 18 | LIVING ART & CULTURE

material itself, and required demanding production techniques. Until the 12th century a handful of French ateliers had been producing relatively small works, but the situation then changed dramatically. In response to the needs of the new Basilica at Saint-Denis new production centres were established around Paris and also at Chartres, whose local riverbed sand (an essential raw material for glassmaking) was of exceptional purity. Contributing to the studios’ expertise were techniques and materials acquired along the Holy Land pilgrimage routes which passed through Venice and Bohemia. Other factors were shrouded in mystery, prompting the widespread belief that the medieval maîtres-verriers were in fact alchemists.

An early 12th century manuscript by Theophilus, a medieval monk, records


glass having been originally produced in flat moulds, a technique superseded by blowing sausage-like cylinders which were then cut and rolled flat into thin sheets. As regards colouring, he noted the addition of gold in the formulation of some ruby red hues, cobalt oxide for blues and silver chloride for yellows, while other tints were the result of sand impurities including manganese. Recent examination of fragments by restorers has revealed that more subtle variations in colours were achieved by fusing together as many as forty thin layers of clear and different coloured glass, a process referred to as ‘flashing’. Others were the result of firing applied coatings of pigments made from iron filings and resin, while what Theophilus referred to as ‘most precious’ glass is said to have incorpo

TOP LEFT: 20th century vitrail Jeanne d’Arc , Hôtel Groslot, Orléans

BOTTOM LEFT: c19th century vitrail, Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

LEFT: South rose window (c1530), Limoges Cathedral

ABOVE: Choir vitraux, c1325 (restored 19th century), Limoges Cathedral

rated fragments of gemstones. Abbot Suger apparently boasted proudly that precious sapphires contributed to the intensity of some of his blue panels – an unsubstantiated claim, but we do know that certain panels with bubbles, streaks and other ‘flaws’, as we might now regard them, were actually carefully sited to exploit their magical effects on light passing through them. Clear glass, while seemingly insignificant, was nevertheless a key component used in thin bands to give emphasis to

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important representations, and to minimise visual fusion (or ‘halation’) of otherwise adjacent intense blues and reds.

Such labour-intensive figurative depictions of important religious events were understandably costly to produce, so were usually styled as a succession of circular panels set vertically within purely decorative areas of richly coloured glass. When you come across these beautiful early ‘médaillon’ windows today in most cases you’ll be seeing something quite literally irreplaceable, since their creators’ jealously guarded arcane knowledge was lost with their passing.

Hauntingly beautiful as the médaillon windows of the nave (nef) and apse (chevet) are, they’re often upstaged by huge circular rose windows incorporated high in transepts and western façades. They developed from simple ‘wheel windows’ with a central ring supported by radiating spokes, all sculpted in stone. In time they developed into ever more complex designs, whose slender tracery was not only there to support their precious stained glass through storm and tempest (no mean feat) but also to showcase the skills and aspirations of the architects and masons who created them. Less obvious are the symbolism and geometry which underpins their design, from rings of individual médaillons (as at Chartres and Laon) to lighter complex radiating or ‘rayonnant’ styles and spectacular swirling ‘flamboyant’ Gothic

TOP LEFT: Glazed Belle-Époque Jardin d’Hiver, Hôtel Hermitage, Monte-Carlo

BOTTOM LEFT: Source Hépar vitrail (c1905), Spa de Vittel

BOTTOM RIGHT: Vitrail by Jacques Gruber (1907), private villa, Nancy

ABOVE: Art Nouveau vitrail by Jacques Gruber (1901), Crédit Lyonnais, Nancy


creations. In each case the concept most frequently expressed is The Creation.

So far we’ve focused on glass dating from the 12/13th century, but that doesn’t mean that what followed lacked skill or impact. In fact, despite the loss of many mysterious early production techniques the imagery represented in the finest examples actually became increasingly sophisticated and assured, in line with more widespread developments in artistic expression. Among the most celebrated works dating from the culmination of this process is a handful of 20th century windows by Russian émigré painter and illustrator Marc Chagall, who stated that: “For me a stained glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world...”. In Limousin some 15km north of Brive-la-Gaillarde near Voutezac (19) is a set of windows he produced for the Chapelle du Saillant (the only building in France entirely decorated by Chagall). Further afield Chagall glass adorns the Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Moissac (82), the Chapelle des Cordeliers Sarrebourg (57), the Musée Marc-Chagall de Nice (06) and in cathedrals of Metz and Reims.

Other famous French artists who also explored the creative possibilities of stained glass during the 20th century include Henri Matisse at the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence (06), Fernand Léger at l’Église du Sacré-Cœur d’Audincourt (25) and Georges Braque at l’Église Saint-Valéry and Chapelle Saint-Dominique, Varengeville-sur-Mer (76).

Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to religious structures to see fine stained glass. Architects have long exploited its purely decorative qualities when designing stylish private villas, luxury hotels, bank foyers and more besides. Among them you'll occasionally come across startling works of fine art created by talents such as maître-verrier Jacques Grüber, one of the shining stars of the French Art Nouveau movement ‒ but that’s another story...

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Conceived in secrecy during WWII Germanoccupation, the H-Van was as revolutionary technically as its unmistakable lines suggested. Like the company’s Traction Avant and DS, it featured an in-line 4-cylinder 1911cc engine and 3-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. That allowed the rear cargo area to have a low, flat floor, maximising carrying capacity. Even the handbrake operated on the front wheels, while powerful main braking was achieved by hydraulically operated drums on all four road wheels. Rack-and-pinion steering was another advanced feature. In its own way the utilitarian-looking bodywork was also similarly innovative, the trademark corrugations braced by strengthening ribs to achieve impressive rigidity despite the use of light-weight sheet steel panels, a touch thought to have been inspired by Junkers JU 52 transport aircraft.


The much-loved soft caramel chewy bar was born in 1954 when, according to popular legend, a machine at the Delespaul-Havez factory at Marcq-en-Barœul (59) suddenly skipped a cog and started producing extra long (6.2cm) bonbons. Company records, on the other hand, merely show marketing studies found that children simply prefer longer bars. Either way, the result – whose name combined ‘caramel’ and ‘barre’ – has remained in production ever since. Around one billion bars are produced annually, the original recipe having been joined by new flavours to broaden the appeal.


This French icon was born in 1935 in Algeria (then a French territory) where Léon Beton owned an orange grove. While exhibiting at a fair in Marseille he tasted a sparkling orange drink made by a pharmacist from Valencia, Spain, and was so impressed that he purchased the recipe. He then produced it using orange concentrate, carbonated sugar water and essential oils, and sold in rounded, grainy bottles as ‘Orangina, Soda de Naranjina’ (‘little orange’ in Spanish). Later his son Jean-Claude Beton established the Naranjina North-Maghreb Company and



Here are twenty of our favourites...

conceived the idea of a bottle shaped like an orange. At first café owners found the shapes awkward to store, but customers loved them and sales took off, both in Algeria and then on mainland France. In 1961 the brand moved to Marseille, was bought by the Pernod-Ricard group in 1984, then by Cadbury Schweppes, which passed to Suntory (Japan) in 2009. Since their creation over 80 years ago, both the glass bottles and their contents have barely changed, natural orange juice gaining some extra ‘zing’ by the addition of lemon, grapefruit and mandarin extracts. 22 | LIVING FRENCH ICONS
France has long been known for its luxury brands which exude that elusive ‘je ne sais quoi’, but plenty of everyday objects shout that they too are designed and produced in France.


Petrol was costly in post-war France and wages modest, so in 1949 cycle and motorcycle manufacturer Motobécane launched its first ‘Mobylette’, a name which soon came to refer to just about any moped. Its 50cc 2-stroke engine mated to a centrifugal clutch, a variable ration drive belt and a chain to the rear wheel. For the rider it was simply a case of pedalling a few metres, opening the throttle and riding off. It was an instant success, and became even more so in 1958 when passing a test and acquiring a licence became mandatory for riders of motorcycles over 50cc and capable of more than 50 km/h. A 14-year-old could, though, ride a moped sans permis, and by the 1970s Mobylette production was running at 750,000 annually, each requiring 5 hours assembly time for its 500 or so components. By the time production ceased in 1997 over 14 million Mobylettes had been assembled globally.


Today it’s hard to believe that prior to the Révolution France did not possess a national flag. Instead there would be displayed an assortment of flags, banners, pennants and other colours of military commanders, etc., a situation which created problems on the battlefield and at sea. This symptom of lack of French national identity would not be overcome until the creation of the République, and the addition of white by General La Fayette to the red and blue of Paris. The resulting flag being well received, it was adopted by official decree on 15 February 1794.


Who exactly gave us our daily bread in elongated form? Opinions differ, but one is that the white baguette dates from the time of Napoleon, when elongated loaves were baked to make bread more easily carried by soldiers. Another theory is that the ‘French stick’ was actually invented in Vienna and came to France when August Zang opened his Viennese Bakery in Paris in 1839. There he sold Viennese bread, and also introduced Parisians to traditional Central and Eastern European breads, ancestors of our beloved croissant.


These days we encounter the little yellow tins while waiting at supermarket checkouts, but what’s inside? Well, among other things are liquorice, mint essence, sugar, starch, flavoured gelatin and ‘cachou powder’ – a combination of concentrated plant-based extracts from Southeast Asia concocted around 1880 by one Léon Lajaunie. The enterprising pharmacist from Toulouse clearly had a talent for marketing, and decided to market his little black taste-bombs in elegant and eminently pocketable tins designed by a watchmaker. By 1906, with just four employees, he was turning out around 400,000 tins annually, each containing 200-300 tablets. By the mid-1980s 30 or so employees were producing around 5 million tins per year, a figure which has since doubled.

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Among the relatively few French cycle industry names not centred upon the city of Saint-Étienne was Marcel Brunelière, a cycle dealer and wholesaler in Machecoul, south of Nantes. His frequent business trips prompted his wife to refer to him as ‘le Gitan’ (the gypsy), so in 1925 he chose the name Gitane to brand cycles he assembled, the enterprise prospering until hit by frame supply problems in 1946. Within two years he had begun building complete bikes to the highest standards, with competition successes squarely in his sights. His dream would be realised when Gitane team riders like Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon achieved a string of Tour de France and World Championship titles between 1963 and 1980. Today Gitane produces cycles for many famous brands.


The strange name with slightly exotic overtones was actually coined to reflect the act of heating rubber paste in gas-powered moulds: ‘pâte au gaz’. The manufacturing process was adopted in 1950 by industrialist Réné Elissabide from Mauléon, down in Basque country. His particular coup-de-génie was to bond waterproof vulcanised rubber soles with thick treads to a traditional Basque canvas ‘brodequin’ shoe. The result became a hit with hikers, scouts, the military and was even adopted by French Foreign Legionnaires. In 1953, after René Elissabide visited the USA, practicality gained some fashionable transatlantic style when the company launched the Texas boot. Today the brand has an even cooler image, with recent design input from Jean-Paul Gaultier.

The pipe might have faded from view, but a comfy pair of slippers remains an agreeable item for relaxation at home. But why Charentaises, exactly? Perhaps it’s their snug woolly lining. It’s said that the wool originally came from flocks of sheep raised by aristocratic families who had fled to Charente for self-preservation during the bloody turmoil of the Révolution. Another twist in the tale concerns Rochefort’s Naval Arsenal founded on the banks of the River Charente in 1665, creating employment for a sizable local labour force sewing felt into military uniforms. That in turn produced large quantities of off-cuts, which were recycled to make slippers. Over the years refinements have included adding a leather semelle to the foot bed in 1850 and lightweight soles in waterproof rubber in 1933. Suddenly leaving the fireside and venturing outdoors (at least briefly) became a practical possibility. Whatever the origins, the Rondinaud company has been making and selling classic Charentaises for over a century in La Rochefoucauld and Olivier Rodinaud hopes to keep the tradition alive. 24 | LIVING FRENCH ICONS


The French love affair with the accordion clearly goes way beyond mere nostalgia. The instrument is very much alive and well and it might come as a surprise to learn that France’s most respected manufacturer (and Europe’s oldest) is based in our region. The company was founded in 1919 by former piano tuner Jean Maugein and his brothers to repair instruments and manufacture Jean’s own accordions in a small workshop in Tulle (19) which soon became the haunt of top players. In 1938 they moved into a new 3,000m2 factory equipped with the latest precision tooling and 200 skilled employees, to scale up production. By the outbreak of WWII Maugein Frères had gained a worldwide reputation, and in the post-war years responded to the vogue for jazz and other US influences by diversifying the look and feel of its instruments. Sales dipped in the ‘70s, as the accordion fell out of fashion, but have since recovered thanks to a new generation of players. Today the accordion is once again cool and Maugein is a benchmark for quality.


Until 1965 every school pupil in France was required to write using the time-honoured combination of pen and ink. The development of the fountain pen overcame the need for constant dipping into ink, and the scratchiness of the classic plume, but something more convenient yet affordable was needed. In fact, the ballpoint pen had been patented back in 1888 for use on rough surfaces, but was unsuited to general handwriting. In 1938, though, Hungarian newspaper editor László Bíró patented a design using newsprint-type inks, which flowed well

and dried quickly. It was a breakthrough, so Bíró and his associates established Bíró Pens of Argentina to manufacture and market their pens, whose largely leakproof qualities endeared them to WWII RAF crews on high altitude missions. Supreme among the many ball-pen variants which have since appeared, the Bic Cristal is an inexpensive and ultimately disposable design classic, which now sells in excess of 12 million per day. Each one is apparently capable of writing for 2-3km, with the feel of a wooden pencil and a transparent form to show the ink level at a glance.


The world’s biggest-selling bottled sparkling water springs into life at Vergèze (83), the emerging water releasing natural carbon dioxide bubbles. In 1841 the site was exploited as a thermal spa until devastated by a fire. It then passed through a series of hands including Louis-Eugène Perrier, a doctor from Nîmes who identified the spring water’s therapeutic qualities. In 1906 he sold his shares to young Englishman John Harmsworth, who renamed the source after its former owner. Abandoning hydrotherapy Harmsworth began bottling spring


The story of the classic Opinel pocket knife began in Albiez-le-Vieux, a small village above Maurienne valley in the French Alps, where the 18 year-old Joseph Opinel left school in 1890 and began working in his father Daniel’s workshop. His father’s sharp-edged tools – sickles, scythes, bill-hooks, etc. – were in steady demand among the farming community, but Joseph was more interested in machinery than handmade production. A growing passion for new machines and innovative technologies led him to the still-emerging techniques of photography. However, his enthusiasm for new machinery and manufacturing processes drove him to consider the possibilities for a product which would be widely appreciated and which he could produce using modern manufacturing techniques. His father had little time for machinery, however, preferring handmade tools and traditional craftsmanship. Undeterred, Joseph devoted his free time to working in a corner of his father’s workshop designing a small pocket knife with a lockable blade, and the machinery needed for volume production. Once satisfied with the results he registered his designs, with a crown trademark emblematic of Savoie. He was soon receiving as many orders as he could satisfy, and the classic design and its variants have so far sold well over 200 million examples worldwide.

water, which he marketed throughout the British Empire. In 1905, he received the coveted Royal warrant. Only then did he focus on France. In 1908 La Compagnie de La Source Perrier was connected to the rail network, and by 1933 was producing 19 million bottles, 10 million of which were exported. During WWII the Germans suspended the English-owned company’s activities. When peace returned lack of funds for modernisation prompted the sale of Perrier, which then returned to French ownership. Perrier is now sold in 119 countries, with sales of over one billion bottles per year.

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Commercial soapmaking was established in Marseille after the Crusades, although by the 17th century soaps were being shipped in from Genoa and Alicante to satisfy demand. By 1660, though, Marseille’s own production had risen to around 20,000 tonnes annually, sold mainly in 5 or 20kg green bars. In 1786 Marseille’s 48 soap factories were employing 600 workers (aided by 1,500 convicts on loan from the Arsenal des Galères). Activities flourished until WWI disrupted shipping, but, when the industry finally embraced mechanisation annual output rose to some 120,000 tonnes by 1938. Today, three producers are still active locally. The official logo of the ‘Union des Professionnels du Savon de Marseille’ ensures authenticity of their soaps, which must contain at least 72% vegetable oil, as stamped on one side of the cubic soap blocks.


This little multi-fuel stove is a true classic among French heating appliances. The company which still manufactures them was founded in 1846 by Jean-Baptiste André Godin, who had the idea of creating an efficient and durable alternative to the traditional sheet metal wood stove by substituting enamelled cast iron. Add some Belle-Époque detailing offered in a range of colours and you have a design classic which is at home in virtually any setting. What’s more, while burning solid fuels might no longer be environmentally acceptable the Petit Godin is equally happy with burning logs. Godin expressed his visionary qualities not only in his designs but also in his regard for his workers.Determined to improve their quality of life, he moved his factory to Guise (08) and constructed comfortable accommodation for his workers and their families, arranged around a giant atrium. He also provided schools, a theatre, swimming pool and sumptuous gardens. The result was La Familistère, a pioneering attempt to create a Utopian community within easy walking distance of its place of employment.



To anyone accustomed to the camper’s ritual of filling a brass camping stove with paraffin and pressurising it before lighting by hand pumping, the clean lines and convenience of Camping Gaz must have been a revelation. The idea came to three engineers on family camping holidays in 1949 who found limited options available for heating food outdoors. Convinced that there would be strong demand for a clean,

portable energy system, they formed a company in the Lyon suburbs which became Campingaz when it moved to its present base at Saint-Genis-Laval (69). Their first production stove was called Cornflower – a reference to its vibrant blue colour, echoing that of the flame. Its refillable reservoir was soon replaced by the disposable Bleuet 206, which promised an open-ended source of revenue, since the cartridges containing 190g of liquid Butane would obviously need replacing from time to time. Before long the stoves were available in metal carrying cases which served as fold-out wind breaks. Next came gas-powered blow-lamps and lights, followed by now-familiar outdoor products including barbecues. In 1996 Campingaz was bought by American stove giant the Coleman Company.

Few kitchen aids have had such an extended production run as our old friend the ’mouli’. Despite looking like an object lesson in minimalism it nevertheless represented something of a milestone in domestic food preparation when it was patented in Paris back in February 1932. At a stroke – or rather a turn – it removed the need for long, laborious sessions preparing vegetable purées by beating with a fork. Now just place your mouli over a bowl and your freshly cooked potatoes, carrots or other vegetables in the centre of the mill and turn the handle. A spiral upper blade rotates to force the food through a static lower one – cone-shaped with sharp cutting perforations much like those of a cheese grater. In fact, two cutting blades were supplied, so you could use a fine blade for making purées or a coarse one for grating. Early models featured white metal construction, but stainless steel eventually made an appearance along with plastics, which helped keep prices low. Originally they were priced at only 20 Francs, and buyers clearly loved them, for in 1939 a staggering 2 million moulis left the factory gates at Alençon (61). In 1956 the Moulin-Légume company became Moulinex and the rest is kitchen history.



The very essence of Parisian romance in an elegant bottle sounds like an irresistible item to take home to a loved one. That sentiment was clearly shared by the GIs waiting in a queue stretching for half a kilometre outside 31 Rue Cambon after they had helped liberate the city in August 1944. Back in 1910 the street’s desirable location close to the Place Vendôme and FaubourgSaint-Honoré had attracted Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel for her Chanel Modes millinery boutique, whose renown eventually prompted her expansion at No. 31 to offer fashion items and beauty products, which would include her first perfume, entitled, paradoxically, Chanel N0 5. Launched in 1921, its creator Ernest Beaux had worked for the Russian Royal Family and lived in Grasse, centre of the French perfume industry. The formulation of his new fragrance incorporated jasmine, rose, sandalwood and vanilla and took several months to perfect, after which he presented ten sample variations to Chanel. They were numbered 1–5 and 20–24; she chose number 5. Interesting fact: Chanel spent her teenage years in a Cistercian convent at Aubazine (19).


If France has a national biscuit then this takes it. For that we can thank one Louis Lefèvre, whose parents had settled in Nantes to create products made with locally available ingredients in their newly designed cake press. In 1886 Louis came up with a simple but magical recipe based around wheat flour, butter and cane sugar. His marketing coup-de-génie was to enlist the support of fashionable figures like Aphonse Mucha and Sarah Bernhardt ahead of the public launch of his petits-beurre LU (for Lefèvre Utile). He followed that with an inspired advertising campaign (those who permitted their walls to bear LU advertising were rewarded not in cash but biscuits) and went on to gain a Grand Prix for his tasty creation at the 1900 Paris Exhibition.

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Lay Some Tracks

Forget competition and exclusivity; in France skiing is for everyone – we show you how and where you can join the party and put some fun into winter.

While growing up in the UK only a handful of my school friends would head up to the Highlands or to the Alps each winter for family skiing holidays; for the rest of us “winter sports” sounded exotic and something other people did. Many years later I got a call from a magazine editor to ask whether I skied. “Sadly no... I’ve always wanted to but never really had the opportunity”, I responded. “Well now you have, because we’re going to send you on a press trip to learn to ski or snowboard in Quebec”. I was stunned, and the experience, in the company of a group of mostly younger journalists, turned out to be a life changer. When I returned home my wife asked me how I got on, to which I answered: “It was fantastic, and I’m going to do it for the rest of my life –and so are you...”.

Since then we’ve done just that, ski ing in well over sixty resorts in France alone, with many more still to discover. Along the way we’ve seen countless people of all ages learning to ski, so if you’ve ever wondered how it actually feels to ski then here are some tips to help you find out safely and while hav ing some fun.

First of all, though, why do it? Well, short of sprouting wings it’s probably the closest you can get to flying. Once you get the hang of it nothing else comes close to floating in near silence across a magic carpet of pristine, freshly fallen snow through the kind of scenery you’d otherwise never see. Forget life in a postcard; this is life in a Christmas card. Besides, here in France our moun tains are the envy of the world, and we’re spoilt for choice.

So how do you start? Well, the first

and most important point for anyone starting out is resist the temptation to go out with experienced skier friends (even if they tell you you’ll be fine) and instead book some lessons from a qualified ski instructor. Individual oneto-one instruction is understandably pricey, but group sessions are much more affordable, and you’ll have fun gaining confidence among other raw beginners. Everyone is encouraged to progress in a way which suits them, and if someone obviously needs extra time and support then they’ll often be taken aside for some individual help, rather than holding the others back.

Another point concerns timing. Obviously you’ll want good snow conditions (ideally after recent fresh snowfalls have topped things up) and if possible, try to avoid peak season periods around Christmas, New Year

On steeper terrain, Montgenèvre (05) Group tuition, Les Houches (74) Young skiers at La Rosière (73)

and school holidays. Not only will you make significant savings on both accommodation and lift passes (if applicable), but there will also be fewer people on the mountain. That means you can practise calmly in the afternoon what you’ve learnt in your morning lessons.

Will you need a lift pass, and if so what kind? Good question – the answer to which might influence your choice of where to ski. At first glance the variety can be mindboggling, but if you look at where different resorts’ dedicated beginner/débutant areas are you’ll see that some are located close to the front-de-neige ski school meeting points. These low slopes will be gentle and serviced free of charge by a small drag-lift or two for those finding their

feet and mastering the basics before moving higher. The literal downside, of course, is that with climate change snow cover at lower altitudes really can suffer during mild temperatures, so even higher resorts often have their novice areas some way up the mountain, which means from day one you’ll be riding up in a full-sized ski lift. Usually that will be a fully enclosed high-speed ‘gondola’ lift, for easy boarding, a snug ride plus unhurried exiting when you reach the top. Don’t worry about technicalities, though, as your ski school will let you know what’s needed in the way of a lift pass and whether it’s included in your course of lessons.

Any other thoughts on where to ski? Location really does matter, so you’ll probably already have thoughts on what might be right for you. One important point to bear in mind is that small family resorts will be much cheaper than their bigger, more glamourous counterparts

Ski school meet point, Saint-Gervais (74) Beginner session, La Norma (73) Follow the leader, Les Houches (74) Confident at 3 years old

(and in any case you won’t be clocking up long, high-mileage ski days just yet). Here in western France the Pyrenees offer both accessibility and real, bigmountain skiing, so take a look at places like Peyragudes, Cauterets, Saint-Lary Soulan, and nearby PiauEngaly. In fact, if snow cover is good you can even enjoy a day’s skiing at Hautacam, a celebrated climb in the Tour de France.

friends by telling them that you’ve skied down an extinct volcano.

Don’t write-off the Alps, though, as the extra drive time opens up more small family resort skiing in magical surroundings at places like Praz-de-Lys Sommand (just south of Lac Léman), Crest-Voland and Combloux (near Mont-Blanc). Or take a train ride to other costeffective, friendly options at Vars (south of Briançon), La Norma or Valfréjus (two small family resorts near Modane).

Finally, what about learning with a young family? We’d suggest contacting ESF – École du Ski Français – who are present in just about every French mountain resort. Their highly quali fied instructors offer instruction for all levels and age groups, usually with a choice of languages. In fact, they’ve so far transformed two generations of our own family (with another set to reach ski-school age in a couple of years) into enthusiastic skiers.

If you’re in Limousin then the Massif Central is one for you when there’s fresh snow at places like Le Mont Dore (lift-linked to nearby Super-Besse) and Le Lioran – and you can impress your Into the forest, Puy Saint-Vincent (05) Ski class on Combloux’s wide, sheltered pistes (74)

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000 0 FIND OUT MORE: You’ll find hands-on resort reviews plus much more about skiing and year-round mountain activities at:
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Snowboard instruction, Les Carroz (74)

Finding your French Groove

Sunshine, good food, more space… There are many reasons that motivate us to up sticks and try out a new life abroad. And although as parents we may quickly see the benefits, sometimes our children have a hard time settling in to an environment that they essentially didn’t choose for themselves...

Learning a new language, making new friends, adapting to a new curriculum… it’s no easy feat being a new child in a foreign land. The good news is that, if you can navigate the choppy waters of the first few months, a life of opportunity and mind-opening experiences awaits. Laura Mithra, a British therapist who specialises in helping children through play in Rochefort (17), explains what some of the challenges are, and how to tackle them.

It’s such an exciting time, building a new home and a new future. But what happens when our kids aren’t that excited about it all? What can parents

do to help them get on board?

I feel for the people who arrive here, who don’t speak the language, don’t have any family nearby, don’t understand what their children are doing all day at school… But the most important thing is to make time to be together and remember why you’re here.

You’ll probably be drowning in builders’ plans and paperwork, learning French and thinking that getting all of these things sorted out is what will help your child settle, but they’re not. It’s YOU, your availability, knowing that you’re listening: that’s what will help your child feel more at ease. So even if you’re very busy, make sure you

have plenty of energy and emotional availability to play and help them with their homework after school. That’s really huge.

How can you help them with their homework if you don’t understand it yourself?

You sit there, for a start, pen in one hand, dictionary in the other, and you try. Take a deep breath and keep calm: think about the amazing resources we have these days! You can input anything you don’t understand into Google Translate, do it in English and then retranslate it – that’s not cheating, it’s just managing as best you can.

There are also a lot of online groups of non-French speakers struggling with homework, where you can post a picture and ask your online community for help. Other people are struggling just like you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Just try to keep calm and make it fun. If homework becomes a time of crisis, your child will start to think that they should trust their own sadness because you are sad too. If a parent is questioning something, their child will start to question it, too.

So, if the adults are okay, the children are okay?

That’s the way around, yes. Even if you’re feeling lost yourself, you have to put everything aside for a bit and focus on them. And the first step to being able to settle in is to learn the language. Adults who move to France need to try to learn how to speak French – and it’s absolutely fine to struggle with this! But your child needs to see you trying to learn at the same time as them. You need them to feel you saying, ‘I can see how hard this is, come on, let’s do it together!’

It’s also very important to find ways to be secure about your decision to move to France. Remind yourself that you did this for good reasons, for the good of your family. Even if you feel the struggle yourself, you have to stay relatively strong for your child. Don’t rush the process and think that moving to paradise was enough. Apply the same compassion that you need for every other obstacle in life.

Different ages will probably face different problems, won’t they? What can parents of infants do to help their child move seamlessly?

Find your local playgroup; they’re everywhere. It will be intense at first, but just smile, be with your child and continue to talk in English while you learn French words together –find a common phrase to help them understand why other people sound different. When you hear someone, in a shop for example, say something like ‘French talking!’ to point out to your child that it’s normal that things feel different. Something quick, familiar and repetitive, that becomes like a mantra.

In France children above the age of 3 need to go to pre-school, called ‘maternelle’. Be in touch with the teacher, the ‘maîtresse’, from the very beginning. Again you can do that even without speaking French these days, thanks to technology that allows you to speak into your phone and get a direct, instant translation. Asking simple questions like ‘Did they have a good day?’ will help you feel better about the process.

Your child might be crying a lot at drop off, but then settling down very quickly and having fun when you’re gone. As long as they settle after a while, it will get easier each day. And remember, it might not have anything to do with being in France: small children have separation anxiety at this age. Just explain, every day if necessary, that you WILL pick them up, that you trust the school, and that you understand that they don’t want to leave you but that you are happy at home and you know they will be happy at school. After school, continue the dialogue: ‘Today I didn’t get a phone call from the school, how does that feel? Was it a bit hard? I can see you smiling!’ That’s enough, that’s progress.

And then we’re on to primary school and collège – are those years much harder?

Not if you continue to apply the basics: lots of conversations after school, enrolling them in local clubs and activities, helping with homework, and just listening, without necessarily

having to find solutions. At this age, the best connections come through play, physical affection, and just being together. Anything that involves eye contact, and being available.

If the communication has been broken since you moved, you can look out for non-verbal cues, like any physical marks, sad eyes or a sudden change of behaviour. You can’t force your child to talk to you, and they might think that they’re protecting you by not talking, but just continue to ask questions. Just regularly let your child know that the door is open, and offer ways in to a conversation about anything at all.

There is a method that I like to use in my practice, developed for children who have endured any sort of distressing event. It’s called PACE – Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. Whenever your child says something that expresses how hard they are finding the move, try using this to change the situation. For example, if your child says, ‘I hate this new food, I’m not eating it’, you can have an argument about it, or try replying ‘I can really hear that you don’t want to eat this’, which is your acceptance. Continue with ‘I sometimes don’t want to eat new things’, which is empathy. And in comes the curiosity: ‘I wonder what we can do about this…’ with some playfulness: ‘well, if you don’t eat your food, I might just have to eat your ear; come on, let’s give it a try’. More often than not, a laugh will break the mood and your child will realise that they have been heard, accepted,


and that their parent is curious about what’s wrong with them.

It takes time to practice, but after a while it’s really effective because you just have to say one phrase to defuse any situation. You’ve just got to be curious and keep it playful – they are children after all! If you can still laugh, things will feel a little lighter.

And surely the hardest transition of all age groups has to be the teenage years?

I think a move does hit teenagers the hardest. It can easily compact any existing problems that were under the surface from before the move.

Look out for any signs of distress, or personality changes, but remember that teenagers will have behavioural changes anywhere they are. Gently point out any changes that you notice

and just listen. Rephrase what you’ve heard and repeat it back to them to let them know that they’ve been heard. Sometimes all they need is to voice the problem and feel validated.

You should also try to help with homework, but again, remember that homework at this age is hard even in your own language. The important part is just being there, even if you’re chopping vegetables next to them as they work. If your child is still struggling and the usual online translation isn’t helping, it might be an idea to get a tutor, as a boost.

Make as many appointments as you need, with teachers in the subjects that are causing trouble, but also with others to preempt any future problems. Get the communication going as early as you can. Your child will witness this tight communication and feel supported.

If you don’t feel supported by the school, try to have the conversation with the teachers rather than your child: it shouldn’t be you and your child against the school, or you and the school against your child. Try to establish a triangle of trust so that everyone is on the same team.



Try to learn as a family, so that your child can see that you’re making the effort too, and communicate with your school’s teachers to find out what you can do to accelerate the process. Get a tutor, watch French movies, quiz each other, try to make it as fun as possible.


Other parents will be struggling just like you. Find your community, whether in your town or online, and don’t be afraid to go to the school to ask for regular meetings with the teachers. With the help of a translation app on your phone (such as Google Translate), or even someone who is willing to come with you and translate during meetings, things will seem much less daunting. And don’t be afraid to turn to tutors and therapists, they exist to help you!


Your local town will probably offer any activity you can think of, and often, anything municipal will be very affordable. Or even free! Check out your local library for punctual events, and sign up to any workshops that you find interesting. You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy a rich community life. But you do have to go out of your comfort zone. That’s really hard, but your child needs to see you doing that as well.


As soon as they feel comfortable, you should encourage your child to invite a friend over. Any friend, just to bring them into the bubble, regardless of the state of your house. That stops lots of people, but children don’t

care that your house doesn’t look like it’s hot off the pages of a magazine.


Use verbal cues, as often as possible. Try to apply the PACE method (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy) and have a conversation with yourself first: Why are you here? Have the answer ready so that your child feels that they can trust your decision, and stay open and positive. Don’t say: ‘Your teacher’s bullying you, isn’t he?’ Do say: ‘What do you think about this teacher?’ Don’t say: ‘Oh, no, I’m going to talk to him.’ Do say:

‘Let’s figure this out. How can we make this work together?’


How are different abilities viewed in France? Is it difficult getting a diagnosis for something like dyslexia?

The best thing is to arrive with a diagnosis already in place, and get it registered when you get here. You can go straight to the school with your reports from abroad and tell them what needs to be put in place. The French educational system is much more accepting of different learning abilities these days.

If a diagnosis has not been made yet, French schools are very good at detecting and suggesting ways to test for disabilities all the way from simply needing a pair of glasses to behavioural issues and dyslexia. Your first point

of contact is either the teacher or the doctor, but if you’re having difficulties you can also go straight to a neuropsychologist. You should be able to find someone who speaks English, but again, there are apps and techniques around that. You could even hire a translator and take them with you. Don’t let language be a block. And remember that holding a child back a year is a very regular occurrence in France – if your child has spent a year concentrating on learning the language, it’s absolutely fine for them to repeat the year to acquire knowledge in the other subjects that they missed. Be prepared to accept it, because it doesn’t put your child’s intelligence into question.

In the spirit of early detection, should parents find a therapist who speaks English from the onset, so that the door is already open if and when issues arise later on?

That’s a really lovely idea, but of course I would say that, wouldn’t I!

Joke aside, it’s important to understand that as a parent, it’s really hard to accept but even if you want to talk to your child, it doesn’t mean that your child will talk to you. It might be a good idea for your child to have an outlet to voice their feelings outside of the family home, in case they are restraining themselves to protect you. Just so that they know that the option exists.

Is there ever a point where the struggle of adapting is just so difficult that it’s better to give up and go back home?

It really should be a very last resort – and it’s not giving up, it’s adapting, finding the best solution for your children. It would have to be dire straits, though; a teenager won’t have long to wait before they can study abroad alone, and a small child should have all the possibilities to adapt if the conditions are right.

Even with teenagers, if your life is happy at home but not at school, you can’t put that down to the fact that you’ve moved country. The move can trigger feelings that were already there, but those would have manifested anywhere, and they’re not a consequence of the fact that you have moved to another country. If you are confident and show that to them, they will know that they can trust your decision.

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Simple Preparations

QI’d like to prepare in advance in case I have an accident or emergency at home. What do you recommend?

AThis is a very sensible precaution, especially when one adds a new langauge into the mix. We’ve prepared a list of emergency numbers below which you can familiarise yourself with and then keep beside the phone. The standard advice when making an emergency call is to be ready with your name,

where you are calling from, and do not hang up until told to do so. If you are not confident in French, keep key vocabulary close to the phone (for instance numbers, parts of the body, basic directions to your home). Write it out phonetically if you think this may help. It is worth noting down your address and phone numbers as it is surprising what can be forgotten in a stressful situation.

Translation apps like Google Translate allow you to speak into your mobile phone in



NUMBER call this number free from anywhere in the EU to reach the emergency services. There may be English speakers available although this is not guaranteed.

SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence) - call for urgent medical situations e.g. coma, chest pain, breathing difficulties etc. The operator will assess the emergency and medical assistance will be sent if necessary. 17 Police immediate assistance (gendarmes) if you are in danger or you see someone else in danger through violence, mugging, aggression, burglary etc. 18 Sapeurs pompiers (fire brigade) to signal a perilous situation or an accident requiring urgent assistance.

114 Emergency calls sent by SMS or fax for the hearing impaired. Trained professionals will then contact the necessary emergency service. 115 Emergency shelter for the homeless 119 to report concerns  about child abuse 196 Maritime rescue: you will be put in contact with CROSS, the French operational centre for surveillance and rescue at sea. 191 Aviation emergency 3919 Accessible 24/7, this free number is for all women victims of violence including domestic violence, sexual harassment or abuse, forced marriage, etc. It is not an emergency number; you should ring 112 if someone is in immediate danger. Calls to this number will not appear on your phone bill and service is entirely anonymous. If you need to report sexual violence or rape and would

English and it will then say the phrase in French. If you are concerned about your level of French, download one of these and try it out so that you know what to do if necessary. Another recommended app is ‘what3words’ which allows you to pinpoint your location down to a 3 metre square (particularly useful if outside or if you live in a rural location).

There are a variety of numbers in France that can be used for different services but the easiest to remember is 112 - this number may have English

speakers available but this is not guaranteed.

Other than that, ensure you have a basic first aid kit to hand which is regularly kept up-todate.

prefer to do so online go to a translation service like DeepL or Google to help you.

116 000

If your child goes missing any where in the EU, call this hotline.

01 40 05 48 48

Anti-poison centre (Paris).


ORANGE: English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00

ALLÔ SERVICE PUBLIC - 3939: Administrative information service (in French) covering: Employment law in the private sector; housing and town planning; legal, civil or criminal proceedings; family, personal or inheritance law; laws relating to foreigners, associations or civil status. See for opening hours.

AMELI: French healthcare – call 09 74 75 36 46, MonFri 8.30am-5.30pm. English speaking operators will answer

and, if the answer requires research, they will call you back within 48 hours.

CAISSE D’ALLOCATIONS FAMILIALES (CAF): 3230 or via your online account. There are no dedicated English-speaking advisors.

PRÉFECTURES: Visit online at for full contact details.

BRITISH EMBASSY HELPLINE: 01 44 51 31 00 for urgent advice (Mon-Fri 9.30am-1pm and 2.30-5pm), or contact online at

SOS HELPLINE: For English-speaking professionally trained listeners (similar to the Samaritans), call 01 46 21 46 46 (3-11pm)

CANCER SUPPORT FRANCE: For advice and someone to talk to locally see or ring 0800 240 200.

Photocopy this page and keep near your phone for emergencies.


Making Decisions in Uncertain Times

QShould I be deferring financial planning decisions during economic and market uncertainty?

AThat is a good question; I have been asked this a lot recently. We need to be looking at financial planning and markets as two separate matters. Financial planning, especially here in France, can save you a lot of money when it comes to inheritance, capital gains and income tax. Your adviser will be looking at your current financial situation, including your savings and

investments, and they will certainly ensure that these are tax compliant here in France.

As for the markets, we must remember that investments are for the long-term and it has been proven that timing of investments into the market only counts for 2% over a longer-term period. The remaining 98% of returns are due to asset allocation and management of the funds. If we look at the various financial indices over the past 60 years or so, we can see that a market fall is usually followed by a rise over the following few years. We can see this when we look at the

2008 financial crisis and Brexit. If after taking financial advice you want to go ahead but are still worried, you can ask your investment manager to drip feed your money into the investment funds and that way

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

you are still benefiting from the tax benefits.

One last thing, when there is a downturn there will always be an upturn. Right now though, nobody knows when this will be!

T: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43;; To register for their newsletter, attend a roadshow event or speak directly to Amanda, call or email her. There is no charge for their financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations.

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Avec les enfants

IT SEEMS THE MINUTE THE sunshades and parasols have been stored away for winter, they’re replaced by twinkling lights and thoughts of Christmas holidays. We’ve become aware over the past decade that there’s been a general change in France when it comes to the matter of decorating for Christmas; slowly it seems to be getting more commercial, probably in line with many other countries in the world. At one time there was scarcely an acknowledgement of the season before December, but this year we already had decorations in shops and beautiful jaw-dropping displays as early as mid-October, and that was not in just one shop but almost everywhere. What does one do? Do we jump on board and celebrate with the rest of them or stoically stick to our ancient tradi tions?

We’ve thought of this dilemma over the past couple of years and I’ll be honest and say that as a family we’ve had a general shift as well. When

the children were little we stuck with rules familiar in our household, and typically the tree was brought in when school broke up for the holidays. That was our official start of the festive season. But as they’ve all got older, the whines of “why can’t we have our tree now, all of our friends do?” have got stronger and so, under a touch of peer pressure, we listened and finally relented a little. The last two years we’ve brought our tree in as early as the first week of December so it fitted in with our son being home from university and other family members visiting. We could then all decorate it together - a sensible solution and a problem solved rather than having anything to do with pressure from the children, of course!

Quite aside from the bevy of beautiful glass decorations, vintage wooden ornaments that have been handed down through genera

tions and personal seasonal treasures making their appearance from the attic, this is also a time of year when nature can look quite spectacular without any artificial help whatsoever. The sunrise and sunsets can be beautiful, and often a soft mist descends over the river and early morning walks are shrouded in a soft fog, lending an ethereal and mysterious softness to the countryside. I frequently come downstairs to find Roddy has

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––––––––––––––––––––––––---------------––––––––––––––––––---------------------–––––– –––––– Sunrise Season!

already slipped out with his camera before breakfast - he calls this the sunrise season, and with good reason. The trees are bare allowing us to appreciate their magnificent shapes. The light spreads everywhere and, on a day without wind, it seems all of nature’s creations hold their breath in the special moment before the sun breaks the horizon.

But we mustn’t forget that it’s also the season to cosy up indoors too.


When the weather is scudding against the windows it’s a great time to curl up with a good book around the fire, and perhaps a mug of hot chocolate, a treat for one and all. It’s when we tend to encourage everyone to play board games too, which live most of the year in the bottom of the wooden blanket box. I was in Rochefort recently and found a shop that sells nothing but games such as these, and as well as the old favourites like Monopoly, there were thousands of others to enjoy. The teenagers recognised an extension pack to a game they have loved for some time and so this holiday season promises


to be an enormously ambitious and loud time around the kitchen table when everyone is here and in the same place for once. Because gather our tribe together and you’ve got five very competitive siblings, albeit in a wonderfully good-natured way, but still winning matters, even if it’s just a board game!

Wherever you are, we wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Keep safe and warm and enjoy your Bûche de Noël!

Susan, husband Roddy and their five children live close to the coast in Charente-Maritime. Sign up for her regular newsletter at

Settle down and enjoy the challenge of our unique crossword clues set by Mike Morris. If you need a helping hand, take a peek at page 54.


1. Purse turned out with excellent result. (5)

4. The thing is, I let car get dismantled. (7)

8. Trial period for mixing potion with bar recipe. (9)

9. Being the focus of miskick makes one go downhill. (3)

10. Sudden movement in the Addams family? (5)

11. Regular rings around heads of landlords’ representatives society to get sherry. (7)

13. Repeatedly I emit free matt polish. (4, 5, 4)

15. Went all over the recreation ground; go before in future! (7)

16. Slow down break-up? (5) 18. Hardy’s Gabriel essential to a known character. (3)

20. Blocks national power layout

on canal water level systems? (9) 21. One too far? Cut short then? (7) 22. Could be an untidy home for the French fashion? (5)


1. Unusual lapse; could be to protect bud? (5)

14. Gave Ned punishment and got your own back. (7) 16. Make notes of advertising posters? (5) 1 8 10 13 15 18

3 14 20

17. 12

11 16 20 24

4 11 14 17

5 16

8 10 21

Follow extremes of emotion before court action. (5) 2 19

6 9 12 22

Cocktail made with dregs of dark Bacardi liqueur. (3) 13

Show how much you Living at
2. Timetable light weight into musical performance on first of events. (9) 3. BR rescheduled to get you to arrive from the seaside? (5) 4. Elicit partner leaning a little? (1, 3, 2, 3, 4) 5. Work on hide by way in to cooking pot. (7) 6. A short explanation of salad ingredient? (3) 7. A typical example of a book on unfinished marathon experience? (7) 12. Rich, gay, old liberal leaders forming a government for the few. (9) 13. Rewrote caption leaving out new part but adding a starch. (7) 21 22

Baby Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce

8 small bok choy 2 tbsp vegetable oil 8 cloves of garlic sliced 2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

crushed red pepper flakes (optional) white sesame seeds to garnish salt and pepper


Bring a large pot of water to the boil add 1 tbsp salt. Add the bok choy and cook for 1½ minutes. Drain and place into a bowl of ice-cold water. Once cool drain again, place on a clean tea

As we enter the holiday season, here are a few festive ideas which won’t break the bank...

cuisine Nikki Legon's

towel and pat dry.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat, add the bok choy and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until just starting to brown. Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce, stirring to coat for 1 minute. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

Fry the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and, when cooked, spoon over the bok choy.

Fry the garlic and chilli flakes (if using) until golden. Take care not to burn them as they will taste bitter.

Spoon the garlic over the vegetables and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Festive Roasted Chicken Legs

3-4 chicken legs 2 carrots 1 red onion

parsnips 8 new potatoes 2 large garlic cloves, sliced thinly 2 tbsp Dijon mustard 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 lemons, cut in half use one half for the dressing 2 tbsp honey 2 tbsp olive oil sprig of rosemary salt and pepper 4 tbsp cranberries



Peel the potatoes, cut in half and boil in salted water for 12 minutes. Peel the carrots and parsnips and slice in two. Quarter the onion. Mix the mustard balsamic and 2 tbsp of lemon juice with the olive oil.

Place the remaining ingredients, except for the cranberries, in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and mix together, coating everything. Transfer to a baking dish, add the cranberries, and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes or until cooked and golden and the vegetables are tender.

Carrot and Beetroot Tart

8 small, slender mixed colour carrots, scrubbed or peeled 4 small mixed colour beetroots, peeled and cut into slices

1 tbsp coconut oil small jar of pesto or make your own (use vegetarian cheese) salt and pepper to taste 10 sheets of filo pastry


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Slice the beetroots into medium cut slices. If the carrots are not the slender type, cut lengthwise. Brush with the

Open Sandwiches

For an tasty breakfast or brunch over the festive period, don’t forget the joy of open sandwiches. Here are a few favourite ideas toppings to get you started:

Mashed avocado with bacon tomato and fried egg

Cream cheese smoked salmon and prawns

Vegetarian cream cheese with mashed avocado, chickpeas, with thinly sliced radish and red pepper.

coconut oil and season with salt.

Spread in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast, turning once until browned in spots and tender.

Lightly brush a baking pan with coconut oil. Brush each sheet of filo pastry quickly and layer them on top of each other.

Fold the edges over to make a rim and crumple some foil to fit the base leaving the edges free.

Bake until the edges are golden, around 8-10 minutes.

Let the pastry rest for 10 minutes before spooning on the pesto. Arrange the beetroot and carrots in a single layer all over. Cook for a further 15 minutes at 160°C.

LIVING CUISINE | 41 Do you Living Magazine? Subscribe today

Handmade with Love

Mini Christmas Cakes

Makes 8

200g softened unsalted butter

200g dark muscovado sugar

3 eggs beaten

1 tbsp black treacle

200g self raising flour

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp baking powder

200g eating apples, grated

300g mixed sultanas, raisins, dried cherries and nuts


Heat oven to 180°C.

Butter 8 individual 150ml cake tins or silicone moulds. Line the base with nonstick baking paper.

Beat the first 7 ingredients together in a large bowl, either in a food mixer or with a handheld mixer until pale and thick. Using a large metal spoon mix in the fruit and nuts until evenly combined. Divide the cake mixture between the moulds. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until springy and dark golden brown.

Leave to cool before running a knife around to loosen the edges. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool completely. You can leave plain or decorate as you wish, then wrap in clear wrap and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Gingerbread Shapes

700 g plain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

24 tsp of ground ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

350 g light soft brown sugar

8 tbsp golden syrup

2 eggs

white icing to decorate


Sift the dry ingredients into a food processor. Add the butter and blend until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and blitz two times.

Lightly beat the eggs and the golden syrup together, I find this easier if I zap the syrup for a couple of seconds in the microwave. Add this to your flour and butter mix and blend until it clumps together.

Wrap the mixture in cling film and leave for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180°C . Roll out the dough to a 0.5cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a cutter, cut out the gingerbread men (make a hole for the ribbon if hanging on the tree), and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

When cold, decorate with your choice of coloured icing. 42 | LIVING CUISINE

Funny Face


250g plain flour pinch of salt

4 large eggs

50g melted butter

15g sugar

500ml milk

butter for cooking plenty of decorations


Pour flour salt in a mixer bowl, make a well in the centre and add the eggs, melted butter and sugar. Whisk to gether and pour the milk in slowly to form a smooth batter, rest for 2 hours. Heat a 15cm frying pan. Coat with butter and pour in a ladleful of batter, tilting the pan to distribute evenly. Once cooked, flip over and brown the other side. Continue with the remaining batter. Shape and decorate your pancakes - there are lots of ideas on social media sites.

Strawberry Santas

16 large strawberries

1 small tub cream cheese

1 small tub mascarpone

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 lemon juice only

4 tbsp whipping cream black sesame seeds to decorate


Mix the cream cheese with the mas carpone, add the lemon juice and blend together.

Whisk the cream to soft peaks. Add enough cream to the cheese mixture to loosen it. Fill a piping bag.

Cut the tops off the strawberries.

Using a melon ball scoop, scoop out the centre of each strawberry. Fill each one with cream, place the top on and add a cream bobble to the hat.

Add the black sesame seeds as eyes and serve.

Marshmallow Snowmen

packet of white marshmallows long sticks food colouring pens chocolate dipping sauce


Arrange the ingredients on a table and let the children have fun decorating their own snowman!

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:

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.

Join us for fish and chips on Fridays - lunch or dinner. We cater for special group occasions, call for more information See our menus on our website

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| 05 45 36 26 26 |

What’s in a Unit? Knowing your limits

The festive season is upon us, including celebrations, Christmas markets offering spiced wine, and New Year parties. I love this time of year, with its cold, smoky breath mornings, and time with friends and family. With rising alcohol levels in wines, thanks to hotter seasons, it feels like a good moment to reflect on what a unit of alcohol is and what the latest responsible drinking guidelines are.


The UK Chief Medical Officer’s latest information on offers the following low risk drinking guidelines: ‘It’s safest for both men and women to drink no more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days with several drink-free days, and no bingeing.’ This assumes a unit is 10ml of alcohol. To take a simple example, a 100ml (a very small glass) of a 15% wine would be 1.5 units. In addition to these guidelines, they recommend not exceeding four units on any one occasion and having several alcoholfree days a week, including, ideally, two consecutive days.


In France, the limit for alcohol consumption for drivers is very low, the BAC or Blood Alcohol Content can be no higher than 0.5, that is no more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Exactly what that means depends on many things, your weight, age, sex, stress, food intake, and more, but it is very low, one drink may put you over the limit. If you plan to drive, the simplest and wisest solution is to say ‘no’, and stick to zero. Have a designated driver, organise a taxi, or

take public transport.

Glass Size

When is a glass not a glass? One glass of wine is not necessarily equivalent to another. If we consider an average size glass of wine of 150 ml at 12% alcohol volume, it amounts to 1.8 units, whereas the same glass of wine at 14.5% alcohol volume amounts to 2.2 units (assuming a standard unit of 10 ml of pure alcohol). At the higher level, two glasses would place you over the low risk drinking guidelines.

A litre of wine at 14.5% alcohol volume, had 145 ml of pure alcohol, so 14.5 units –that means about 11 units in a standard 750 ml bottle. If you share a bottle of wine between two, you are well over the low risk drinking guidelines. Like calorie-counting, constant counting isn’t fun, but it is good to be aware.

Speaking of calories...

Alcohol consumption means calorie consumption too. The UK Drinkaware website provides a calorie calculator. A glass of 150 ml (i.e., a fifth of a bottle) of 14.5% wine is 2.2 units and around 150 calories, which is equivalent to half a standard burger. Moderation is key.

Slow down...

Slowing down and appreciating each sip, taking time to look, smell and taste, to be mindful of it, to appreciate the magic of terroir, including soil, microclimate, grape vine, and winegrower, that brought it into being, helps me stay in the guidelines.

I love the quote ‘Wine is sunlight, held together by water’, attributed to Galileo Galilei. A beautiful glass of wine next to a fire in the cold months of the year truly does feel like a shaft of sunlight. 44 | LIVING WINE
‘Tis the season to be merry, but everything is best in moderation as Caro Feely explains....

Wine is a wonder to be enjoyed and respected. It is part of the culture of gastronomy here in Southwest France. We have a magnificent range of locally made wines for this celebratory season. As you raise your glass take a moment to sniff and swirl and consider the magic of nature that went into it, I know you will enjoy it even more. Here’s to a fabulous joyful and healthy festive season for you and yours.

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



villa château farmhouse apartment vineyard gîte cottage coast country city



Ref: A14302 - Charming 4 bedroom property comprising a converted barn with self-contained gîte and in-ground pool.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: F Climate class: F

Haute-Vienne €149,000

Ref: A14008 - Partially renovated 3 bedroom town property with 2 extra bedrooms to refresh. Ideal for a family or holiday home.

8% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: G Climate class: C



Ref: A16013 - Superb, fully restored stone house with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, large landscaped garden and garage.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

DPE: Ongoing

Charente-Maritime €330,000

Ref: A13976 - Private 3 bedroom property nestled in established woodlands, with stream, gardens and orchard.

6% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: F Climate class: C



Ref: A15769 - Detached 3 bedroom farmhouse with private garden and heated pool, set in a quiet hamlet and ready to move into.

Agency fees paid by the seller.

Energy class: G Climate class: C

Charente-Maritime €147,900

Ref: A09693 - Lovely 2 bedroom house near Saint-Jean-d’Angély, holiday home potential with a studio gîte for guests.

8% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: F Climate class: C



Ref: A14271 - Spacious 4 bedroom house with a lovely enclosed garden, set in a charming village only 5 minutes from Jarnac.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: F Climate class:



Ref: A15066 - 5 Bedroom maison de maître with pool, barns, orchard and paddocks, set in 1½ acres of land.

6% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: B Climate class: C

Charente-Maritime €267,500

Ref: A15070 - Pretty 4 bedroom character house with garden, terrace and outbuilding, in a quiet rural hamlet close to Mirambeau.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: F Climate class: C



Energy class: G Climate class: C

Charente €219,999

Ref: A06124 - Large, modern 4 bedroom house with swimming pool and garage, only 14km from Cognac with all amenities and facilities.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: C Climate class: A

A16199 - Detached 4 bedroom country property with workshop, barn and stable, set in nearly 5 acres of land.
agency fees included paid by the buyer.
F Haute-Vienne
Energy class: D Climate class: D
Vienne €189,000
A13203 - Cosy 4 bedroom village house with garage and workshop, ideal for B&B and only 8km from amenities.
agency fees included paid by the buyer.
Converted Barn EXCLUSIVE Classic Charentaise EXCLUSIVE Private Paradise EXCLUSIVE Hidden Gem EXCLUSIVE Holiday Home EXCLUSIVE Income Potential EXCLUSIVE Maison de Maître EXCLUSIVE Summer Retreat EXCLUSIVE Town House EXCLUSIVE Rural Residence EXCLUSIVE Charming Farmhouse EXCLUSIVE Equestrian Property EXCLUSIVE

Haute-Vienne €114,450

Ref: A14832 - Charming 2 bedroom cottage with garden, barn and outbuilding, in a quiet hamlet with forest walks just on the doorstep.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: G Climate class: C

Deux-Sèvres €99,000

Ref: 105699 - Lovely 3 bedroom house with courtyard and outbuildings, located in the beautiful village of Verruyes.

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

DPE: No data

Charente €309,000

Ref: A14906 - Fabulous ensemble of properties, comprising 3 houses, land, barn and hangar, plus 2 above-ground pools.

Agency fees paid by the seller.

Energy class: F Climate class: C

Charente-Maritime €125,350

Ref: A12135 - Charming countryside property with 3 bedrooms and private, walled garden. Villages and shops nearby.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: D Climate class: D



Ref: A14358 - 2 Bedroom charentaise property with garden and field, partially renovated with little left to

Deux-Sèvres €246,100

Ref: A14826 - 4 Bedroom house in a beautiful setting with swimming pool, outbuildings meadow and wood.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Energy class: D Climate class: A

Energy class: F Climate class: F

complete. 9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.
F Climate class: C Haute-Vienne €172,800 Ref: A15944 - Renovated 3 bedroom townhouse with large garden and potential for an apartment/gîte/commercial space below. 8% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE: Ongoing Vienne €153,000
Energy class:
18th century farmhouse with 3 bedrooms, garden, enclosed courtyard and
Ref: A15504 - Beautiful
outbuildings. Agency
paid by the seller.
We have helped 1000’s of clients buy and sell property in France and have 8,000+ properties listed on our website. If you are looking to sell, contact us for a FREE market appraisal. +33 (0)5 53 60 84 88 With over 24 year’s experience buying and selling houses in France, we’re here to help you. Our agents offer a knowledgeable and professional service, guiding you through the whole process from A to Z. Discover all of our properties Charming Cottage EXCLUSIVE Great Location EXCLUSIVE Peace and Quiet EXCLUSIVE Haute-Vienne €41,600 Ref: A16553 - 1 Bedroom hamlet property to finish, with attached garden and potential for 2 more bedrooms in the attic space. 19% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE: Ongoing Must See EXCLUSIVE Spruce Me Up! EXCLUSIVE Rich in History EXCLUSIVE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST Full of Character Make it Your Own Two in One EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE

PROPERTY L i v in g

FOR MANY YEARS SAUZÉ-VAUSSAIS has been bypassed by traffic on the busy D948 between Niort and Limoges, but few drivers will fail to notice one particularly striking historic roadside feature. The Pigeonnier de la Poste Royale de Sauzé is a survivor from the late 15th century and one of seven staging points to permit Henri IV’s troops to change horses when carrying messages between Tours and Bordeaux. Originally the structure accommodated up to 520 birds, but fell into disrepair after the abolition of owners’ rights in 1789. In 1993 the forlorn ruins were finally dismantled and pieced together at its present neatly landscaped site.

The forces of the Révolution were also responsible for the fusion of Sauzé and Vaussais, although by around 990 Salcido and Voacaei already were linked charter. While Vaussais possessed the commune’s sole parish church (the Romanesque Église Saint-Junien) the focus of daily life has long been centred around the market town sited just south of the pigeonnier. Today much of the commercial activity has

passed to a major supermarket and other businesses sited along the trunk road on the eastern outskirts, but the quieter pace of life makes for unpressured exploration. Perhaps the most immediately eyecatching feature is the tall, circular Tour de l’Horloge erected at the midpoint of Grande Rue in 1824 to satisfy the residents’ demands for a town clock to keep track of time, particularly on frequent busy market days. Two generations of traditional covered market halls which stood nearby have disappeared and their replacement, completed in bold modernist style on a vast scale in 1955, now serves as a Salle Socio-Culturelle for a range of indoor events. Weekly open air markets are still held, however, on Thursday mornings when locals producers offer fresh fruit and vegetables in Place des Halles.

Tucked away less obviously are many essential everyday services including a Fire and Emergency Centre, a La Poste agency, Gendarmerie, schools, a medical centre, a pharmacy, a déchèterie, a minimarket, a swimming pool, tennis club and a lakeside leisure area with bar, restaurant


We explore a frequently overlooked market town in Deux-Sèvres

and barbecue facilities. The Plan d’Eau du Bois Meunier also has a games area and is a popular haunt of carp and trout anglers (and now also welcomes paddle boarders). Sauzé-Vaussais is also home to both the Comité Régional de Cyclisme Poitou-Charentes and the Hope Association Charity Shop 79. For more information, see



Ruffec: 16 km/18 min

Melle: 22 km/21 min

Poitiers: 42 km/49 min

Niort: 52 km/47 min

Angoulême: 60 km/49 min

Saintes: 83 km/1 hr 27 min

Limoges: 111 km/1 hr 39 min

La Rochelle: 117 km/1hr 35 min

TGV & TER RAIL SERVICES: La Gare SNCF de Saint-Saviol (12km) is served by TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine Ligne Régionale 12 services between Angoulême & Poitiers, for connections including TGV to Niort, Périgueux, Bayonne, Toulouse, Tours, Paris, etc.


Prix 105,730 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) Val-d’Auge - stone house with lots of potential, retaining many original features and large rooms with large attic to convert. Barn, garage and enclosed garden. Ref: 9689 DPE: F



(55 000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer) BRILLAC (16): Comfortable 2-bed house 11km to shops. Air/water heat pump, outbuildings, old house to renovate, well with pump. Set on 1698m2 Classe Energie D Classe Climate A 3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens Tel: 05 45 85 45 65 Ref. 34426 60 500€ HAI (320 000€ + 6% fee payable by buyer) SAULGOND (16). Pretty 3-bed detached farmhouse with approx. 10 acres. Oil heating, outbuildings, 7 boxes, well with pump & pond. Classe Energie C Classe Climate E Ref. 34419 339 200€ HAI (220 000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer) ALLOUE (16). Renovated 3-bed stone farmhouse. Annexes approx 185m2, 2 terraces, outbuildings. Garden 7731m2 + 2 wooded plots of 894m2 Classe Energie F Classe Climate B Ref. 34416 237 600€ HAI (110 000€ +8% fee payable by buyer) ABZAC (16). 5-bed spacious semi-detached house, needs refreshing. Attic to convert. Garden, workshops. Set on 1134m2 Classe Energie E Classe Climate E Ref. 34411 118 000€ HAI (230,000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer) CONFOLENS (16). Town centre. Commercial shop (café) rented for 1000€/mth. 4-bed flat rented for 500€/mth. Private parking. Classe Energie D Classe Climate D Ref. 34369 248 400€ HAI (95 000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer) ORADOUR FANAIS (16): 3-bed stone cottage 2km from village with approx 1ha 37. Fireplace with wood stove, 3 sheds, bread oven. Classe Energie E Classe Climate B Ref. 34425 104 500€ HAI EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE OFFICE + 33 (0)5 45 21 78 38 Prix 179,140 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) Near Verdille - very comfortable and carefully renovated stone property with 3 en-suite bedrooms and large, light rooms. South facing mature garden with garage/barn. All in perfect condition. Réf: 9705 DPE: C La Foncière Charentaise THE FRIENDLY FACE OF PROPERTIES IN S/W FRANCE Prix 66,000 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) Charming fermette with lovely enclosed garden. Barn, stable and open large garage to renovate. On the outskirts of the market town of Aigre. Ref: 9679 DPE: E Prix 109,000 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) Breuillaud area - 3-bed village stone property to modernise, although immediately habitable. Enclosed garden, workshop barn and garage. 10 minutes to commodities. Réf: 9703 DPE: E + 33 (0)6
............ ............
Agency 36-38
T: 05 53 27 83 45
high quality
offers 4
kitchen & 2 living
gypsy caravan and 3.5
47,368€ (4.5%)
82 85 36 32 Cecile email:
Agence Eleonor Estate
rue du Temple, 24500 EYMET
Ref: 10412-MO - Location:
La Lemance -
1,100,000€ Former farm,
renovated with
materials. The main house
bedrooms, fully equipped bright
rooms. The 2-bed cottage enjoys a large, covered terrace overlooking
Italian basin. In addition there is a barn, a 1-bed
hectares of fenced meadow Taux d’honoraires
inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: C Classe Climat: A Eymet, Villeréal, St.-Cyprien, Monpazier, Bergerac, Issigeac and Miramont de Guyenne
and a room to finish renovating. The property sits on nearly 1/2 acre garden with a well, a heated above ground pool plus a covered terrace. Taux d’honoraires 16,800€ (7%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: E Classe Climat: D Ref: 9939-EY - Location: Pezuls - Price: 799,000€ Charming Gite complex in stone, currently arranged as three gites (with 7 bedrooms in total) plus a large 4-bedroom family home. Located in the centre of its 5 hectares of land, the property also offers a swimming pool, a garage, outbuildings, boules court and playground. Taux d’honoraires 38,048€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: C Classe Climat: D Character Properties in France Saint Sornin la Marche, Haute Vienne €394,000* With 5 hectares, 4 double bedrooms, fully renovated, 5 stables, barns, above-ground pool, pond. DPE: D Moussac, Vienne €196,000* Stone house with 3 bedrooms, beautiful renovation by artisan, well-insulated, aboveground pool, garage. DPE: E Availles-Limouzine, Vienne €94,000* Two-bedroom with beautiful views from the large balcony, garden front back and side, garage, mains drains. DPE: F Please contact us if you have a character property to sell, we have a devoted team located throughout the area. *agency fees charged to the seller Tel: 05 65 70 10 49 Email: Visit our new agency: 20, rue du Maquis Foch, 16500 Confolens Rochechouart, Haute Vienne €179,000* Lovely renovation, two large bedrooms, two bathrooms, 5300m2 of lawn and woods, walk into town. DPE: D
9860-VI - Location: Villeréal Price: 256,800€ Lovely stone house in a quiet setting offering kitchen, living-room, 2 bedrooms & bathroom on ground floor. The first floor has a sitting area, 2 bedrooms, shower-room

Festive Wreaths


Now that the nights have drawn in and the countryside is resplendent in the opulent, earthy colours of Autumn, it’s time to admit that Christmas is not far away. Before the busy, heady rush of the festive season sets in completely, why not take some inspiration from the natural world and indulge your creativity by creating a homemade Christmas wreath? Making them is incredibly relaxing and searching for the foliage will give you a reason to spend some time outside in the fresh air. Wreaths are surprisingly simple to make and there are a variety of methods which can be used to achieve different results.

Natural wreaths are plastic free, meaning that they won’t go into

landfill and, with some gentle consideration to the materials you use, are mostly (if not completely) biodegradable. They’re also entirely unique so they can be decorated to your personal taste and be both a talking point and a statement decoration. To top it off, with all the costs associated around Christmas, they’re also extremely good value, costing next to nothing (indeed, they can often be created with materials you already have lying around the house or in the garden).

Creating a wreath

There’s no right or wrong way to make a wreath and different people naturally favour different methods. The key to a long-lasting wreath is to ensure that the base is strong and

sturdy – if a wreath is to be hung on the front door, it needs to be able to withstand any weather that’s thrown at it.

Wire wreath bases can be bought cheaply on the internet or be made from a ring of strong garden wire. Whilst these can be stripped back and used again for other wreaths, wire won’t compost and will ultimately end up in landfill so it’s preferable to opt for a more environmentally-friendly option. Pre-formed bases from materials such as bamboo are, again, available to buy cheaply on the internet but it’s fairly straightforward to make one. Young branches of willow, birch or hazel can be woven together to form a ring or straw can be bound onto a carboard base. This method is particularly useful for making wreaths in alternative shapes to a traditional circle.

How the foliage is attached to the wreath base is a matter of personal preference and again, there are a number of ways to do this. One of the easiest ways is to tie small, individual posies all the way around the base. However, this can sometimes result in ‘corners’ appearing on the wreath which detracts from the circular sweep of foliage that looks so attractive.

Another method is to create one long garland and then attach that to the base, tying it discreetly with secure knots at the back. This is slightly trickier than attaching individual bunches but it does give a more

Fashion a delightful Christmas wreath from nature’s abundance. Rosie Neale shows us how to harness our creativity...


Feathers add a light, ethereal texture and can be very striking when used against a backdrop of stronger, spikier greenery such as holly. Use them singly or in small bunches for a romantic, slightly gothic result.


There are a lot of dried seed pods in gardens and hedgerows at this time of year. While they might not be immediately appealing on their own, when used with a mixture of other natural materials, they can add a sculptural element to the wreath. Good ones to look out for include Hibiscus (such as Hibiscus syriacus), Bishop’s flower (Ammi magus) and Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale).


Slices of citrus fruit can easily be dried out in either a low temperature oven or a

dehydrator and they provide a cheerful seasonal touch which also smells wonderful. Small bunches of lime, grapefruit and orange, combined with a stick of cinnamon, and tied around the wreath add fragrant focal points.


Once the main wreath has been made, it can be elevated to the next level by adding finishing touches of bows made from raffia, string or some leftover ribbon that might be lurking at the back of the cupboard.


Vivid pops of red from wild rosehips (Rosa canina), holly berries (Ilex) and red sentinel crab apples (Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’) will bring a dramatic touch to your wreath. Consider pairing them with berries or fruit of another colour (creamy white mistletoe Viscum album works brilliantly) to create contrast and variation. Do be careful with holly berries and mistletoe around dogs as they can cause problems if eaten, although they are generally not serious.

polished end result. Alternatively, if the base is firm and wide enough (such as one made from bound straw or moss), it’s possible to string pieces of foliage straight onto the base, working along from the top of the wreath in one direction. Many people choose to use florists wire for attaching the foliage but it’s not necessary. It’s not biodegradable, can be tricky to get hold of and jute string or raffia will do the job just as well. 52 | LIVING FROM THE GARDEN STUMP GRINDING Grind away tree & hedge stumps leaving no trace! Specialist equipment and know-how to cleanly remove stumps Fully insured and registered Call me today on 05 17 34 14 37 / 06 02 30 66 69 FB: davidcropperstumpgrindingservices ALL AREAS COVERED Dessouchage David Cropper Siren: 452 821 101 Looking for old DEUTZ tractors F1M 414, F1L 514 1936-1959 Call Jon on 05 49 87 29 71 E: in any condition dans n’importe quel état
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time you come to use them (this is especially true with berries).

Evergreen trees and shrubs make an excellent foliage foundation from which to create a wreath. Laurel

(Prunus laurocerasus), ivy (Hedera), bay (Laurus nobilis) and all types of conifers (Pinophyta) are easily gathered from gardens or woodland and last well without water. Colour and texture can be added with a variety of other evergreen plants such as ceanothus, silverberry (Elaeagnus) and privet (Ligustrum).

Seed heads from both wild and garden flowers can add a surprising splash of colour. For example, dried dock which is plentiful along verges and in hedgerows ranges in colour from a burnt, deep red to a dark, opulent black.

Teasels bring a golden spikiness and hydrangea heads which have been left on the plant to dry out often

Offering a full range of LIVING FROM THE GARDEN | 53
the fresh
that grow so abundantly
and summer aren’t
a collection
Decorating the
available at
time of year, there is still a wide variety of foliage to choose from. If you have enough
at home, it’s worth starting
of things that might be suitable as soon as
can, as they may have disappeared or been eaten by birds by the
Garden waste, barns etc. cleared Unoccupied holiday homes checked For enquiries & rates tel: 07 72 38 84 60 09 63 68 12 49 Charente, Vienne, Deux Sèvres Siret no 853 531 838 2 Ladies & a Van HOMME VERT All aspects of tree care from planting and pruning to reductions and removals. Hedge cutting, ground clearance and maintenance. Fully insured & registered. 27 years’ experience. TREE SURGEON ARBORIST DOMINIC L UNN 05 45 30 61 41 / 06 45 90 30 67 | Facebook: @hommeverttreesurgery Siret: 808 903 074 00017 Covering all areas GARDEN SERVICES | Gardening | Pool Care | Home Maintenance

have a delicate, pale lilac tinge to them. Pinecones of different shapes and sizes are simple but effective.

When you’re confident at making wreaths, the methods can be adapted to create all sorts of rustic Christmas decorations. Mini wreaths, using twigs, can be used as an alternative to baubles or as a base for a candle centre piece (just make sure to keep the foliage well away from the flames!) It’s fun to experiment with different shapes, other than a conventional circle, and creating a minimal wreath using only different coloured branches can be incredibly eye-catching. For culinary fans, wreaths of hardy herbs such as bay, rosemary, sage and thyme are a practical way to decorate the

kitchen and flavour the cooking at the same time.

Making homemade wreaths is a very relaxing, satisfying, creative and eco-friendly way to decorate your home. Will you give it a try this Christmas?

Rosie Neave lives in Vienne and hosts wreath workshops throughout November and December. For dates and information please visit or follow her on Instagram @rosieneave.

54 | LIVING FROM THE GARDEN For more cartoons by Stig see
ANSWERS ACROSS 1. Super 4. Article 8. Probation 9. Ski 10. Lurch 11. Oloroso 13. Time after time 15. Precede 16. Brake 18. Oak 20. Gridlocks 21. Abridge 22. Style DOWN 1. Sepal 2. Programme 3. Reach 4. A bit on the side 5. Tandoor 6. Cos 7. Epitome 12. Oligarchy 13. Tapioca 14. Avenged 16. Bills 17. Ensue 19. Kir

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Quote ©Living© to help keep this magazine free for readers 55 Business Directory
Vendée (85) CharenteMaritime (17) DeuxSèvres (79) Vienne (86) HauteVienne (87) Dordogne (24) Charente (16)
55 Caf�s, Bars & Restaurants Bars, Shops, Associations
These local businesses are waiting for your call! 56 Finance, Help & Advice Well-being, Bike Hire The Fixer Call Rick Denton now on 06 46 25 30 87 or Email: Based in Charente and covering 86, 79, 16, 17, 24 & 33 Experience you need....Results you want Fluent French speaker with over 15 years professional ‘hands on’ experience assisting expats in France Personal Taxation – Carte Vitale – Carte de Séjour Business set ups - CPAM – French Administration Tax regularisation and much much more…. Siren: 818 390 916 Reflexology Massage ~ Reiki Treat yourself or a friend to these different relaxing therapies English and French spoken Gift Vouchers available Tel: 07 67 56 49 69 with Maximilien Newman-Legros Now available at Blanzay & Couhé (86) Cotswold Eco Wood-Fired HOT TUBS in France For more information, please contact Nicola or Tim: E: T: 07 49 19 46 84 RELAX. REPLENISH. REWIND. Easy to install in even the most remote locations of the quietest air bubble systems on the market Efficient wood-fired boiler - minimal electricity used for bubbles and LED lighting Robust wood and fibreglass construction means years of weather-resistant service Thoughtful design ensures they are hygienic and easy-to-clean Comfortable seating allows users to immerse their shoulders, perfect all year round Bespoke range of options and colour combinations Britain’s leading supplier siret: 879 912 855 2, 6 and 8 person available Facebook: HotTubsinFrance | Google business: | LinkedIn: hot-tubs-in-france 26 rue du Commerce, 86400 CIVRAY Renaissance - hair, beauty, nails Tel: 05 49 87 16 33 RENAISSANCE - hair, beauty, nails Siret: 509 861 902 00013 * SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES ARE FOLLOWED * Our bi-lingual team are waiting to pamper you. CACI trained and registered to perform non-surgical facelifts and more. Ring now to book your appointment. ~ PLUS! Wedding hair & make-up team ~ Visit Alison, Stephanie & Laura at...

Insurance and asset management advice in English

Hello, my name is Isabelle Want. For the past 9 years, I have been working for Allianz as an asset manager. Being mar ried to an Englishman and having lived in the UK for 8 years gives me a better insight into what British people are experiencing and what they need. Being French and born in the Charente has enabled me to offer some answers. I am, as always, available for any free advice on the follow ing subjects:

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

- TAXES - everybody’s fear! Annual tax forms in May, etc.

- INVESTMENTS - what is available, what rate, etc.

LIFE INSURANCE - how to protect your loved ones

- FUNERAL COVER - preparing for the inevitable, unfortu nately!

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

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

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

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec tel : 05 45 31 01 61

10 bld du 8 mai 1945 16110 La Rochefoucauld tel : 05 45 63 54 31

102 ave de la République 16260

Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free
Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure tel : 05 45 39 51 47 Contact Isabelle directly Mobile: 06 17 30 39 11 Email: N° ORIAS : 07020908 Insurance, Help & Advice Help & Advice English Speaking Ask for Corinne For all your insurance needs in France Special discount for new owners - 50% o the rst year Fully comprehensive covers at competitive prices and all explained in ENGLISH. We respond quickly to enquiries and in the case of accidents or claims, we are here to help. O ces at Champdeniers and St Pardoux (79). Come and visit us. Agence Michallon Tel: Orias: 07007057 57 I can help you with any administrative or medical correspondence and accompany you when appointments are necessary. I am based in Charente-Maritime but can work online or travel to visits as required. Professional translator, interpreter and public writer 06 63 02 64 58 Sabine Seguin HELP & ADVICE HELP & ADVICE Long established service at reasonable rates Depts 16 & 17 SIRET 453 520 298 00010 Expert in French Administration Business set-up Personal taxation Legal matters Phone calls & meetings Andrew Harrison Tel: 05 46 96 44 11 8 place Gambetta 86400 CIVRAY Office: M: Siret N o 520 382 805 00049 Administrative Assistance & Solutions Private Individuals & Small Businesses Translator: English, French, Portuguese (cert.) & Spanish Professional Liability Insurance HELP WITH ALL FRENCH ADMINISTRATION MATTERS Valérie PATARD 1, rue Basse 85370 Mouzeuil-Saint-Martin Tel: +33 (0)6 84 78 21 57 Email: Val Assist Translation Services Professional administrative HelP Translations, Health, Tax, Legal Paperwork, Telephone Calls, Property, Banking, Business Services, Residency Find out more: Val Assist provides clear explanations about the French system, advice on the best way to sort out problems and generally acts for people on their behalf in French. I CAN HELP WITH RESIDENCY (wherever you live in France) Siret N°48825664500018 • Business set ups all regimes • Foreign firm set up and payroll • Accounting for UK Ltd companies by our Chartered Accountant • Book keeping / accounting for French businesses, TVA returns • Tax returns UK & France • Carte Vitale, Carte de Séjour • Vehicle registration, driving licenses • Access to financial aid • Legal paperwork • Dispute mediation SIRET/SIREN 510046261 00010 SOLUTIONS Chemin des Gordins, 16700 Ruffec M: 07 80 44 37 00 solutions16700 Comprehensive administration services for individuals and businesses All areas of France covered Karen and her team of associates are here to help you with:
These local businesses are waiting for your call! Transport Services, Concierge Packing services Full/part loads to and from the UK Vehicles transported • Containerised storage Competitive prices • Transit /storage insurance FRANKLINS REMOVALS A family business established in 1985 offering a quality, professional service Call Stephen or Ben Franklin on 0044 121 353 7263 or email f f f Furniture for France Tel: +44 7845 272 242 Email: Quality UK furniture direct to your door in France Furniture for your bedrooms, dining room and lounge From sofas to mattresses, wardrobes to dining tables, all just one phone call away Look at our website to see the latest ranges available 20 years’ experience & great customer service George White European Transport Special rates to SW France 13.6m / 45ft trailer Full/Part loads Removals - Vehicles - Materials Owner Driver RHA member Tel: +44 (0)7768 867 360 Fax +44 (0)1773 570 090 Fr Mobile: +33 (0)6 23 03 85 59 Tel: 05 49 07 24 85 E: Franglais Deliveries Siret: 502 021 660 00019 Moving In France? Full & Part Loads Relocations in France Packing & Storage Options FRANGL AIS DEL IVERIES FRANGLAIS DELIVERIES Your dog(s) looked after indoors at our country home in a safe 2-acre enclosed area. Walked twice a day in our woods and surrounding fields. Must be able to socialise with other dogs. Free introductory trial: am or pm Nr. Châteauneuf-La-Foret, Linards 30 mins from Limoges airport 20€ per night/10€ per half day Siret: 792 142 341 Call Jane on 05 55 00 34 79 or 06 18 58 93 88 or Emily 06 71 15 15 65 Dog Guest Home (notkennels) Please email first to 24€ per night / 12€ per half day Animal Care, Transport The UK’s Premium Pet Transport Company Regular trips throughout Europe Services tailored to your needs DEFRA Type 2 licensed, custom built vans T: +44 (0)7855 401 102 T: +44 (0)1932 875 227 Animal Care 58 For
know us, we
kennels with
LIME TREE KENNELS Anita Frayling - Le Baillat, 16220 Rouzede T: 05 45 66 14 62 E: Siret: 822 175 527 0016 15 mins from La Rochefoucauld & 20 mins from Rochechouart Lime Tree Kennels Learn French the fun way! Sign up for your FREE 30-day trial:
those of you that don't already
are a purpose-built
a large secure
area where dogs can run free and play while having their 2 walks per day on or off the lead. Large family kennels are available. You are welcome to call if you have any questions or would like to visit the kennels.
Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 59 Transport Pools | Check out our website for more information about all our services Garden Services Pool Care Gîte Services Home Cleaning & Maintenance E: Tel: 09 83 70 01 33 | Mob: 06 61 25 41 09 YOUR ONE-STOP TRANSPORT SERVICE Cars, Boats and Caravans a speciality Full or part loads undertaken - a box to a full removal Full European coverage Secure storage available in France and UK UK depot available for deliveries Every item is covered by GIT and CMR insurances C J Logistics Full trade references Fully conversant withUKexports These local businesses are waiting for your call! Owner/operator cost effective transporter Contact David Glenn Hundreds of successful cross Channel deliveries Read our 5-star reviews on Trustpilot “I would recommend Dave again and again” “Excellent service” ANGLO FRENCH EURO REMOVALS Weekly services between the UK and France Full and part loads 40 years’ experience Full or fragile packing service Storage facilities in the UK and France UK - 0044 (0)1237 751 293 France - 0033 (0)545 894 957 UK Reg: 5437760
These local businesses are waiting for your call! 60 Associations, Home Services, Pools Pools • Installation • Renovation • Cleaning and Maintenance t: +33 (0) 549 290135 t: +33 (0) 785 372144 Based near Sauzé-Vaussais (79) Full Décennale Insurance siret: 897 609 293 For Pools For Outside Living • Terraces & Patios • Summerhouses • Roofs • Fencing • Blockwork • Pointing • Rendering • Outside Rooms Complete Pool Care Gardening | Home Maintenance POOLS BY JONATHAN Agent and installer for several rectangular & shaped pools including Seablue & Astral Pools FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE Competitive prices, try me for a quote Terracing and landscaping service also available ALL WORK GUARANTEED phone 0549840362 mobile 0622361056 SIRET 47994761600021 Siret: 889 641 726 00019 IT Help & Advice Problem Solving, Repair & Maintenance Website Creation & Management Data Security Guaranteed 06 29 61 47 88 Frapa IT Service & Support The Homecheckers For your unoccupied home solutions Key holding & property checks House & garden maintenance Meter reading Mail forwarding and more Short-term, long-term & flexible packages available, contact us for a free quote: 06 71 07 45 38 / +44 7481 475379 Based in 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais. Fully insured. Siret 901 854 836 00011 Freemasons Did you know? There are Englishspeaking lodges in France. Our lodge in Cognac (16) meets 6 times a year. If you would like to find out more, email: Freemasonry in France 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: Angela on 05 49 87 79 09 or Roger on 05 55 76 22 65 07 60 04 82 17 16 years in France Siret: 521 978 312 00010 Traditional timber framed buildings, garages, car ports, pergolas, pool houses, verandas and much more, designed and fabricated to suit your space Bespoke products at online prices Simple Installation Handmade in France Nationwide delivery Based in 19210 Lubersac English, French & Dutch spoken

It would be fair to say that most of us have spent much more time this year at home than normal....and for many of us the enforced lockdown gave us the opportunity to give our homes a little TLC.

We ourselves did plenty of painting & decorating, especially during the early weeks, and decided to use strong, bold colours - not our normal style but perhaps it was a reaction to the situation we were unconscious decision to lift the spirits!

We are slowly seeing some more colour coming back into carpets too....not everything has to be grey or beige!

Look at these 2 of our suppliers – Adam Carpets & Westex Carpets – literally hundreds of colours across their ranges, all available anywhere in France. If you want to see samples of these, or any other examples, give us a call and we’ll make a free, no obligation visit. Makes yours a HOME SWEET (COLOURFUL?) HOME this year!


For all your flooring needs

• We supply and fit a range of carpets to suit all budgets

• We also fit amtico, vinyl, wood and ceramic tile

• Over 25 years experience, 100% customer satisfaction

• Now selling a selection of wool and mixed fibre rugs Contact Paul on 06 60 07 54 78 or 05 45 84 27 75

Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free 61 PM CARPETS
E: 09 63 56 23 10 / 06 42 19 82 12
Contact Nick on email: or T. 05 45 71 33 36 • Certificates issued for every sweep • Over 10 years’ experience • Covering departments 16, 17, 79 & 86 Registered with the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Siret 81968203000013 Chimney Sweep Nick Wright Home Services Language, Metalwork Nettoyage Professionnel ARC EN CIEL Key holding / conciergerie. Cleaning of commercial and domestic premises and window cleaning.
07 52
Siret: 813 442 860 00017 PROFESSIONAL CLEANING & HYGIENE SERVICES L’Atelier de Fer Fraser W. Eade General Engineering Turning, Milling, Welding Quality & Precision Guaranteed Forgeix, 87200 Saint Junien 05 55 71 41 75 Siret: 512 945 874 00018 Jeff’s Metalwork E I Ornate interior / exterior designs Gates constructed / refurbished Industrial furniture General Welding ~ Over 25 year’s experience ~ Mob: 07 77 83 77 10 or 0044 7917 03 02 49 Siret: 811 895 309 00011 SAS Ornate Ironworks Vaudrude, Corgnac Sur L'isle 24800 E: Tel: 06 27 17 18 13 WELDING & ENGINEERING SERVICES PROJECT MANAGEMENT City & Guilds Mechanical Engineer Design & manufacture of gates railings etc On site welding service / repairs Emergency call out service Learn French the fun way! Sign up for your FREE 30-day trial at:
Rugs, carpet & upholstery steam shampoo extraction. Hard floors / surfaces treatment: marble, granite, terracotta etc & wood floor parquet. Swimming pool & garden maintenance. Office: 05 53
71 (9 to 18.00) Mobile: 06 31 31 06 76 / 06 70 39 83 96
These local businesses are waiting for your call! 62 Building services, Artisans SHUTTER RESTORATION Contact Jo on 06 62 81 43 22 Wooden shutter painting and restoration using the best quality materials Located in Nontron (24) and covering a wide radius @Macmarcola Siret: 913 978 565 00012 M&M PROPERTY Painting & decorating services Tiling / Flooring Plasterboarding Suppliers of Crown Paints Providing a quality service since 2005 Kevin Smith 16100 Chateaubernard 05 45 36 46 70 / 06 72 21 80 27 MAINTENANCE Depts 16 & 17 Siret 482 718 640 00022 Enershop have been installing renewable energy systems in France since 2008. Each system designed and installed is specifically for your needs,
your property
new build, extension or a renovation, whether it is a cottage, chalet or château - the flexibility of our systems
solution for all. We offer
free devis,
systems installed by Enershop as we hold the QualiSol and QualiBois accreditation. Our website
has lots of information on our services which include : • Solar thermal domestic hot water • Wood gasification boilers • Wood
Pellet boiler stoves • Pellet boilers • Accumulation tanks • Air source heat pumps • Central and underfloor heating systems • Swimming pool / hot tub heating Enershop – renewable energy heating systems for your property Tel: 07 67 04 07 53 Email: Website: Enershop South West France Fosse Trained-Approved-Recommended by SPANC Can you trust your installation to anyone else? With over 30 years’ experience southwestfrancefosse Email: Tel: 06 04 14 84 86 Etudes  Conception  Surveys Maintenance  Service  Remedial See all our work on BECK CHERRY PICKER HIRE Tel: 07 84 12 44 97 E: Nacelle Telescopique 17m tracked cherry picker with IPAF operator For all exterior works: roofing, painting, tree cutting etc. Hourly, daily or weekly rates Based in south 86, can transport as required Siret: 827 978 636 00013 Wooden shutters made, restored and spray painted Metal shutters sandblasted Exterior / Interior walls airless spray-painted Contact Alan Tel 05 45 21 72 01 Mobile 07 80 00 51 65 HAVE YOUR SHUTTERS SEEN BETTER DAYS? Over 30 years’ experience All areas covered
is a
means there is a
with no obligation and no hard
Now is the time to consider a renewable heating system. There are reduced rates of TVA available and significant
Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free Phone: 06 38 68 72 53 SIRET: 514 636 257 00016 ALL WORKS COVERED BY ASSURANCE DÉCENNALE ▶ Drylining ▶ Ceilings / suspended flat / apex / joist infills ▶ Partition walls ▶ Hydro wet rooms ▶ Ensuites / walk in wardrobes ▶ Acoustic and thermal insulation ▶ Plastering skim and set ▶ Tape & jointing Established in France in 2009 ALL TYPES OF DRYWALL WORK COVERED Plumbing - Heating Chimney sweeping Full service with certificate (boiler, fuel, wood, gaz) Installation of Wood Burners Registered RGE QUALIBOIS Fully insured with over 15 years’ experience Tel: 06 58 86 55 91 30km around 86400 (Saint Macoux) Siret: 900 570 490 00012 English spoken Ambroise PRÉE Jb Plumbing Kitchen & Bathroom installation Tiling Plumbing Repairs Tel: 06 29 90 24 89 E: Based in dept 79 near Sauzé-Vaussais Fully insured Siret: 804 390 862 000 14 ANDY MS Kitchens & Bathrooms from A-Z All leading Brands All associated minor works, modifications and repairs also undertaken e.g.. replace Kitchen worktops, taps, toilets etc. Dept. 16, 17 05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01 website: email: siret:50263448800014 Emptying of grease traps, fosse septiques, filtre compacts & micro stations. Cleaning & maintenance of all types of sewage treatment plants. T: 06 71 83 16 69 / 05 49 87 27 29 E: 2 Verrières, 86400 CHAMPNIERS Covering south 86 & 79, north 16 David GABARD Planning and designs for permis de construire and déclaration préalables for extensions, renovations, conversions and new builds. Ian Dickinson BSc (Hons) Mob: E: ID Planning & Design Departments: 16, 17, 24, 79, 86 & 87 Siret: 492 277 918 00024 A ordable UK Designs UPVC & Aluminium Double Glazing, Fitted Kitchens FREE PLAN, DESIGN & COSTING THROUGHOUT SOUTH WEST FRANCE - OTHER AREAS BY ARRANGEMENT UPVC Windows, Doors & Conservatories in all colours & styles. Aluminium and UPVC Bifold doors Made to ‘A’ Grades spec in French styles! www.a SIRET: 513 577 809 00017 Phone: 05 49 42 99 41 Mobile: 06 63 71 09 81 E: Building services, Artisans 63 T: 07 80 53 54 11 E: Based in 17240 SEAN THEOBALD EI Carpenter All elements of 1st and 2nd fix carpentry undertaken Over 35 years experience specialising in, but not limited to High-End Residential and Heritage Projects Siret: 848 507 042 00010 Specialist Carpenter/Joiner Bespoke Joinery & Renovations Doors - Shutters - Stairs Flooring - Kitchens ✓ Fully equipped workshop ✓ 40 years’ experience ✓ Lots of solutions for your requirements ✓ References available Adrian Amos 05 45 31 14 58 / 06 63 20 24 93 Siret: 508 248 747 000 18 JAMES RICHARDSON Imajica Joinery ESTABLISHED COMPANY, CONSCIENTIOUS & RELIABLE SERVICE For a superior finish in wood, tile, plasterboard and general restoration Specialising in kitchen fitting & creative challenges Siret: 48115588500017 05 49 87 09 63 ELECTRICIAN Experienced, French Registered Electrician Available for all types of electrical work renovations, small works, gate automations etc. Insured and guaranteed Areas 16, 17, 24 05 46 86 07 61 Siret 49376573200015 Barry Baldwin Cabinet Maker & Joiner Furniture Restoration Manufacture of staircases, doors & cupboards 16240 La Fôret de Tesse T: 05 45 30 39 85 Covering depts 16, 79 & 86 Siret: 804476 034 00017 Building services, Artisans
These local businesses are waiting for your call! Ecuras 16220 AABA ROOFING FRANCE Assurance Décennale Quality Roofing & Building for you New roofs ~ Slate and tiling Fibreglass flat roofing ~ Repairs Gutters and facias UPVC or zinc All leadwork ~ Timberwork References available 05 45 63 52 88 / 07 80 08 85 76 Siret 53210969100024 E: ~ T: 05 49 27 22 67 Registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance Covering depts 79, 86 & 16 Siret: 499 474 302 00043 The Roofing Company Andy Quick Zinc work ~ Guttering ~ Chimneys Repairs ~ Insurance Quotes SINCE 2007 ESTABLISHED ECNARFNI 64
Thank you to our Advertisers for helping to keep Living free Building services, Artisans Building services, Artisans 65 T: 05 45 95 44 34 or 06 98 29 76 45 E: Graham Medhurst Renovations Established reputable builder in Charente From basic changes to complete renovations, bathrooms, kitchens, floor and wall tiling, dry-lining & more Guaranteed customer satisfaction Contact me for a free no-obligation quotation Based near La Rochefoucauld, covering areas 16, 86 & 79 A1SL COUVERTURE is a new French based company serving dept. 79, 86, 16, 17, 87, 85, 24 & 33 with well-established roofing experience previously based in the UK. We pride ourselves on top quality workmanship and excellent customer service. We have built a solid reputation over 25 years in the UK and receive most of our work from customer recommendations. Shaun B LLOYD A1SL COUVERTURE (ROOFING SERVICES) WE COVER ALL ASPECTS OF ROOFING WORK FROM SMALL DOMESTIC REPAIRS, ROOF CLEANING AND LARGE NEW ROOF PROJECTS UTILIZING CLAY TILES AND SLATE; SPECIALIST IN LEAD WORK. Registered with the Repertoire des Métiers, siren: 877 636 050 Mobile: + 33.(0). Email: All work is fully guaranteed and we are fully insured. Our services are available 6 days a week, no-obligation free estimate and no call-out fee up to 70km. ANDY MS Multi Services Plumbing Electricity Plasterboarding Tiling Satellite dishes and Systems for the reception of UK and French TV No Job too Small Dept. 16,17 05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01 website: email: siret:50263448800014 Siren: 478 608 185 00011 Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne Tel 05 17 30 18 35 Mobile 06 33 85 65 66 PAINTER & DECORATOR Interior and exterior painting Paper hanging, tiling, flooring & dry lining Areas 16, 17, 24, 33, 79, 86 ADAM BLACKABY Artisan Peintre T: 05 45 98 07 25 M: 06 23 18 30 95 Siret: 441 490 992 00027

Pard on?

This morning when drinking my caffè latte and reading about the lives of Enlight enment philosophers, I wondered how the Italians had come to dominate in the Coffee Wars of the late Twentieth Century. How is it that we ended up with Caffè Latte rather than un grand crème? In the last twenty years, espresso, latte, macchiato, cappuccino and mocha have all become part of our language when ordering a drink. How different it could have been, I thought, if we’d ended up with French press, crèmes and noisettes rather than moka pots. It seems like the invasion of English words isn’t the only thing the French language should be worried about as globalisation mixes the linguistic melting pot a little.

It’s strange to think of tea and coffee fuelling revolutionary talk, I know. We only have to remember the Boston Tea Party, though, to remember that our daily drinks can change politics and economics forever. The Café Procope, still found in the 6e arrondissement in Paris, is often cited as the caffein ated fuel behind the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D’Alembert, a place where Rousseau retired to contemplate the freedoms of man. Both Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin spent time at the Café Procope, where their coffees fuelled the fundamentals of demo cratic thought. Even then, though, the café was underpinned by Italians: the founder was Sicilian Propocio Cutò. Go today, and you’ll find espresso on the menu alongside café crème.

Of course, French is a latinate lan guage, so it is no surprise to find that it is so influenced by its older relative. The influence of the Renaissance on French architecture is well known, and most of us know that Leonardo da

Vinci died at Amboise in the Loire. The influence of Italian on French is everywhere. From noble titles such as Altesse our English ‘Highness’, most likely from the Italian alteza to mili tary words like soldat, from the Italian soldato, the Apennine Peninsula has certainly inveigled its way into French in more ways than simply coffee sold in American franchises. Music, architec ture and cuisine have all taken Italian loan words and imported them directly. After English, French borrows most frequently from Italian. It’s not just pizza, opéra, cappuccino French military words borrow heavily from Italian warfare. Cava lier, canon and colonel are all Italian by birthright, not French. Likewise our words attaquer and bastion. Bastion is related to the French bâtir; from the Italian bastire… hence the little circon flexe which so often indicates where an S used to be. Un bastion retains its Italian S, of course. Even the Bastille, that symbol of the French Revolu tion, owes its origins to the Italians and their buildings. ‘Alarm’ is probably not a word you think much about, but it comes from the Italian call to

battle, all’arme in Italian or aux armes in French.

Italian also gave way to more courte ous language, from the cortège (from the Italian corteggio) to the courtisan Italian also gave rise to many French financial words too, from la banque to le bilan. You may never have thought the word bilan was much like ‘balance’ in English, but it’s a lot more evident when you know both words came from bilancio in Italian. Likewise, the word ‘credit’ in English, and crédit in French probably aren’t connected to ‘believer’ in your mind, but when you know they both come from credo (I believe) in Italian, then credible, incredible and credentials all make much more sense. Although that bastion of the French language, the Académie Française, wor ries about the influence of les angli cismes in the twentieth and twenty-first century, English is a late entrant to the race to pollute French. Our Italian cousins not only gave birth to much of the French language via Latin, but continued to donate loan words, or have them stolen. In the sixteenth century, les italianismes were very much the threat. The erosion of standards has long since been a French concern. American coffee franchises with their Italian beverages are just the latest assault. That’s the beauty of language. Italian gave us ‘American’ by way of Amerigo Vespucci. Arabic gave us coffee, café, caffè and koffie by way of qahwa, and French gave us ‘franchise’ by way of franc… a truly French word if ever there was one. The linguistic melting pot isn’t such a new thing after all.

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

Revolutionary talk from language expert Emma-Jane Lee
Frantastique is a unique, proven way to learn French at home...and it’s fun too! Sign up for your FREE 30-day trial on our website: Is it time that you improved your French?
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B eaux VillagesIMMOBILIER +44 (0)800 270 0101 Siret 501 191 720 00025 APE 6831Z Carte prof CPI 3301 2018 000 027 010 TVA FR94501191720 Garantie financière : QBE assurance pour 110 000 euros International Associate of Savills Moving to France? Want to change job or make a career move? As we expand, we’re recruiting independent property consultants and various other positions across SW France. To find out more about joining our winning team, contact Tina Anderson, Head of recruitment. As winner of Best Estate Agency & Website France 2021 - 2022 we ensure you get the best service whether buying or selling. VIENNE €74,250 3 bed house with a garage, work shop and cellar, located between Le Dorat & Montmorillon. Ref: BVI65191 CHARENTE €449,950 Two superb character properties offering a walled garden with pool in a rural hamlet setting. Ref: BVI65499 HAUTE-VIENNE €43,900 Stone house to renovate with 2 barns on a large plot in a popular rural ham let. Drawings available. Ref: BVI65195 EXCLUSIVE DORDOGNE €424,000 Fabulous location, bright 5 bed / 3 bath hamlet cottage. Big garden, barn / garage & views.
Ref: BVI65395
CHARENTE €954,000 Extensive mill property with main house, guest house and gîte in 3.9Ha including 4 islands. Ref: BVI61577
CHARENTE €143,335 4 bed pavillion close to Ruffec with it’s shops and schools. Garage and office in the basement. Ref: BVI64871
3 bed / 2 bath
CHARENTE-MARITIME €610,000 High-end, 3 bed / 3 bath property offering a roof top pool, huge ga rage & super gardens. Ref: BVI61257
DEUX-SEVRES €172,800
village home at the end of a drive - several outbuildings, pool and country views. Ref: BVI66768
selling? We have registered clients looking to buy in all areas and at all budgets. Contact us online or pop into one of our 19 agencies where our sales consultants will be happy to help. We have some of the best property in France EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE
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