Living Magazine February/March 2020

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feb | march 2020


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22 February / March 2020


BIENVENUE to our first issue for the new decade! We hope that the 2020s bring peace and prosperity to you all, but boy, has the decade started with a bang! While (most) Brits in France began the year mourning the imminent loss of our EU citizenship, the rest of the world has been diverting everyone’s attention, from the terrible fires in Australia to the unease in the Middle East. Our thoughts are with everyone affected. Here in France the strikes have caused problems for many, although compared to the struggles facing Paris residents just to move around, those of us in the countryside are relatively untouched. At times, it helps us all to stop and take stock despite the current challenges, there are many things we can be grateful for. We look at the popularity of walking the routes through our region once followed by pilgrims, which offer a great opportunity to leave the outside world behind. We also head to our nearest mountains, the Massif Central, whose rugged beauty makes a dramatic change from our largely flat countryside. And for those needing a pick-me-up, how about a stay at one of the many nearby spas? We explain the options. As always, we have interesting new advertisers offering fabulous services. Only by you, our readers, telling our advertisers that you found them in LIVING can we continue to print and deliver our magazine. This is very much a team effort which includes our readers and our advertisers - we can’t do this without you! À bientôt!

16 38




Kathryn Dobson reveals the latest news for British nationals living in France

A profile of Villebois-Lavalette in Charente

Citizens’ Rights

Snippets News from around the region


The Long Walk The numbers of people following ancient sacred trails through Spain, Portugal and France have exploded in recent years. We look at this age-old phenomenon


High Drama Roger Moss reveals the rugged beauty of the Massif du Sancy, home to the source of the Dordogne



Taking Stock Susan Hays reflects on how her family can join in efforts to protect the planet


Puzzle Break Our unique crossword by Mike Morris


Nikki Legon’s Cuisine

We put your questions to our professional experts

Delicious dishes for Valentine’s Day that say ‘I love you’



Jessica Knipe explores Nouvelle-Aquitaine’s spa culture

What do yoga and wine tasting have in common? Caro Feely explains

Practical Advice

“Take a Spa Day!”

Surprising Parallels

How to keep ‘Living’ free for you Buy from our advertisers and tell them you found them in ‘LIVING’ 100,000 readers 1,000 stockists


Support LIVING Magazine by giving 6€ at

Living Property Pages


Sea Changes Newly released data suggests that rising sea levels could have major implications across the region


Vive la Musique! France has a passion for homegrown talent going back years


Pardon! More French language fun with expert Emma-Jane Lee


Business Directory The best local services & suppliers

64 Places To Go around the region

For all editorial & subscription enquiries: or phone + 33 (0)5 49 87 29 71 For all advertising: or phone Jon on +33 (0)5 49 87 29 71 Postal subscriptions start at only €45 for a full year see

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The pick of the news that will affect you wherever you live in south west France…

News round up

Plastic Bans

With the New Year, France has banned the sale of many single-use plastic items such as disposable plates and cups (sold in multipacks), plastic cotton buds and coffee stirrers. In addition, single-use plastic items such as straws, cutlery and disposable covers in restaurants and bars have also been banned as part of the effort to reduce the amount of plastic being consumed, much of which ends up in the oceans or in landfill.

The quality of life in Bordeaux is attracting new residents to the area

Population growth

Postage Prices

As the volume of letters posted falls, the prices for delivering them increase to compensate so, once again, this year has seen an inflation-busting rise for both red stamps (prioritaire) and green stamps (écolo). Red stamps have gone from 1.05€ to 1.16€ while green have risen from 0.88€ to 0.97€, both are for letters up to 20g (you will need 2 stamps for 100g and 3 for 250g). It is possible to save three centimes per stamp by printing your own online, all is explained at Last year the Rest of world and EU letter rates were merged to one international rate, the cost of which has risen from 1.30€ to 1.40€.

INSEE, the national statistics institution, has crunched the 2017 census figures and released the latest population statistics. Between the years 2011-16, while the national population grew by 0.4%, NouvelleAquitaine’s grew by 0.6% to 5.95 million with a quarter of these living in Gironde. Representing 9% of the French population, this makes the region the fourth most populated although it has the largest landmass. Over this period more residents died than were born so migration has played an important role particularly around Bordeaux, although half of the region’s population lives in rural communities. At département level, Charente, Dordogne, HauteVienne and Creuse all saw their populations shrink.

2020 Calendar Don’t forget that this year is a leap year with 29 February falling on a Saturday. There are three bank holida ys taking place on Fridays and two on Monday s so it’s time to plan some long weekends! Lundi de Pâques: Mon 13 Apr il Fête du Travail: Fri 1 May Victoire 1945: Fri 8 May Ascension: Thu 21 May Lundi de Pentecôte: Mon 1 June Fête Nationale: Tue 14 Jul y Assomption: Sat 15 August Toussaint: Sun 1 November Armistice 1918: Wed 11 Novemb er Noël: Fri 25 December Children at school in Zone A, will break up on Fri 21 February for the two-week winter holiday and return to scho ol on Mon 9 March. For Zone B, they break up on Fri 15 February and return on Mon 2 March.

Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes Cognac Royan


Rouillac Jarnac



ANGOULEME Barbezieux

© Les Gaulois d’Esse


News from around the region...

les charentes

Wine Fair

Gaulois Village

With success come red tape and responsibilities as the village of Esse (16) is now finding out. The carefully reconstructed village of Coriobona, which takes visitors back to the time of Astérix and was created 15 years ago by a group of passionate friends, now welcomes 8,000 visitors a year. Unfortunately, this brings with it requirements such as toilets and the availability of drinking water for the visiting public. Given its remote location in a Natura 2000 site, the environmental study required will cost 160,000€ and the work a further 130,000€. Philippe Bouty, President of the Charente-Limousine Communauté des Communes hopes that the State will step in and help given that it is an important local tourist attraction and has asked for 80% of the costs to be covered, which still leaves an important sum to be found by the village and its association.

© JLPC - wikipedia

Church Renovations

St-André d’Angoulême, one of the town’s oldest churches and a popular stop on Angoulême’s discovery circuit, is gradually re-opening after three years of urgent renovations. Built in 1825, the plasterwork on the vaulted ceiling began to crumble, while statues and the Baroque altar also required renovation. Christmas mass was held in the church although the work continues. Visitors will be able to return as soon as the building is confirmed safe.

Join the Rotary Club Mansle Charente Bonnieure (16) at their 15th Salon des Vins at Mansle over the weekend of 28 -29 March 2020. Showcasing twenty selected wine producers, you can try before you buy. Wines from Fitou, Jurançon, Madiran, Alsace, Saint-Emilion, Pessac-Léognon, Muscadet, Menetou Salon, Charentais, Cabardès, Côtes du Rhône, Beaujolais, Saumur, Bourgogne, Savoie, Médoc, Bergerac and more and will each be presented by the winemakers. Guest chefs from the region will be holding cookery demonstrations, and sommelier Frédéric Devautour will explain how he chooses the perfect wine to pair with a dish. It will also be possible to have lunch at the Salon; oysters, cold meats, cheeses and chocolate will all be on sale. Doors at the Salle Polyvalente de la Doue open between 10am and 6pm with tickets costing 3 euros (includes a tasting glass). There is a gala charity dinner on Saturday 28 March (for reservations call 07 88 53 88 16, tickets cost 28€) and all proceeds will go to the charity Neurodon. For more details see FB: Salon-des-Vins-de-Mansle.

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Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes Cognac Royan


Rouillac Jarnac



ANGOULEME Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne

© georges fontaine

Fête du

News from around the region...

les charentes Mimosa La Rochelle Town Hall

There is no better way to shake off the winter blues than to join in the fun at the annual Mimosa festival over the weekend of 14-16 February at Saint-Trojan-les-Bains (17). The cheerful yellow flower is celebrated each year with free concerts, special rides on the P’tit Train Touristique and the highlight, a grand parade on Sunday with dressed floats, bands and dancers. This year, the Philharmonique Oléronaise opens the event with a concert on Friday evening. The Brocante du Mimosa runs from 7am to 7pm on Saturday with the Bal du Mimosa starting at 8pm (tickets from 12€).

Feeling brave? Enter the Trail de la Côte Sauvage 2020 on 16 Feb and choose from the 18 or 28km running races beginning at 9am, or the 10km walk leaving at 9.15am. And, this being France, as you finish on the sands, there will be an oyster tasting by a local producer! To register, see


et - Mairie de La © Julien Chauv

Emblematic food and drink producers labelled ‘Sites Remarquable du Goût’ are featured in a specialist fair at Segonzac (16) over the weekend of 31 Jan-2 Feb. More than forty producers from across France will be represented. Entry is free and the full programme can be found at

After 3 days of celebrations in early December, the Hôtel de Ville at La Rochelle re-opened its doors following the terrible fire in 2013 that destroyed seventy per cent of the building. An electrical fault above the ceiling of the grande salle was finally identified as the cause, but the extreme heat from the fire and the water used to put it out caused enormous damage to the historic monument which dates back to 1298. Firefighters were able to save some of the artworks including tapestries and a painting of Henri IV which were stored at the Beaux-Arts museum, but some of the towns archives stored in the roof space were lost. The restoration of the building to its former glory has cost tens of millions of euros, in the main covered by insurance, and was managed by the chief architect for Monuments Historique Philippe Villeneuve who is now leading the restoration of NotreDame de Paris. 28 different skills were required on site and the architect took the opportunity to modernise the layout as well as strengthen the façade. A stunning new council room has been added under the eaves with a wooden ceiling reminiscent of an upturned hull, while the eleven different levels of flooring have been rationalised, door frames heightened, and awkward beams removed. Guided visits (in French) have now restarted on Wed, Sat and Sun afternoons and places can be reserved online at, entry is free.


News from around the region...

Child’s Play

La Tête Dans Les Nuages, a festival of live events for children and their parents, runs from 14-20 March at the Théâtre d’Angoulême (16). Now in its 21st year, the festival features a variety of creative shows from circus to dance, poetry and theatre. The opening show, Encore la Vie, has four jugglers facing four drummers while the closing show, ‘W.A.M. we are Monchichi’, features two artists, one Taiwanese and one Italian, who overcome their differences. The show mixes theatre with acrobatics, hip hop and contemporary dance. Prices start at 9€ for under-18s and the full programme will be available at the end of January. For info see

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Salon des Vins

The Saint-Jean-d’Angély Lions Club, in partnership with the Angérien Libre and the town, is holding its fifth Salon des Vins over the weekend of 7-8 March. From 10am to 6pm, you will be able to taste wines (in moderation) from many French regions as well as from abroad. All the exhibitors are producers and will be offering their favourite wines to visitors along with their expert advice. There will also be speciality food tastings to accompany these liquid offerings. Entry costs 4€ (free for children under 12). A tasting glass engraved with the Lions’ coat of arms is included in the entry price. All funds raised will be used by the club for the benefit of their social and humanitarian works, in particular the fight against childhood cancer and handicaps. The fair will be held in the Salle Aliénor d’Aquitaine, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, 17400 Saint-Jean-d’Angély, call 06 30 23 20 02 for more information.

GRAND FANCY DRESS BALL (fancy dress optional)

Comité des Fêtes of St Germain de Lusignan (17500) invites you to join them:

2.30pm, Sunday 2nd February Salle Polyvalente (nr church) Orchestra Jean Vincent 5€ per person, free for under 12s drinks, pancakes, pastries For information and booking: 05 46 70 46 41


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Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes



Cognac Royan




ANGOULEME Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne

News from around the region...

les charentes Our round-up of the top dates for your diary…

26-28 June

Bonneville (16) is playing host to Les Sarabandes with its eclectic mix of street theatre, art exhibitions, games and lighting shows.

26-28 June


Enjoy jazz for all ages during the Respire Jazz Festival in the unique surroundings of the Abbaye d’Aignes at Puypéroux (16).

27-28 June 11-13 April

The Châtelaillon Plage (photo above) (17) season begins with kites galore on the beach over Easter weekend as part of the Festival du Cerf-Volant et du Vent.

9 May-7 June

The Festival International de Musique de Chambre en Charente presents five weekends of world class chamber music in historic surroundings centred around Chalais (16).

9-10 May

The Venetian Festival at Etaules (17) has a new date in the diary, don’t miss the costumed parade through the streets.

Aiming to build on the popularity of the winter festival, Angoulême (16) is adding a summer Gastronomades to its festival menu.

1-5 July

The full programme has yet to be unveiled but you won’t want to miss Simple Minds celebrating their 40-year career on 3 July at Cognac Blues Passion (16).

10-14 July

La Rochelle (17) welcomes thousands of concert-goers to Francofolies. As always, the lineup features the best on the French music scene including Mika, PNL, Jean-Louis Aubert and Nekfeu. Mika returns to Francofolies

12-14 June

Relive medieval life at Les Medievales at Fouras (17).

19-22 June

Camp in a lakeside setting with music by Chinese Man, Mister V, Polo & Pan and GRAViiTY at the Free Music Festival, Montendre (17).

the Abbaye aux Dames during the Festival de Saintes (17). Programme details will be revealed in March.

23-25 July

La Fête du Cognac (16) combines music and local Charentaise gastronomy on the quayside of this historic town.

25, 28 & 31 July

Un Violon Sur Le Sable – picnic on the beach at Royan (17) before enjoying an evening of wonderful music, all topped off by fireworks, truly one of a kind.

10-16 August

World music and dance come together at the long-running Festival de Confolens (16).

21-23 August

Notes en Vert at Périgny (17) is an eco-festival with bio market and evening concerts and events for all the family.

13-16 June

Simple Minds celebrate 40 years at Cognac Blues Passion

Jazz en Ré (17) – free jazz concerts around the harbour at Saint-Martin.

17 July

Steroparc in Rochefort (17) features 100% electro in the grounds of the Corderie Royale.

18-25 July

Enjoy classical music in the atmospheric surroundings of

7-9 September

Street theatre with a festival atmosphere at the Coup de Chauffe, Cognac (16).

18-20 September

Classic cars race round the narrow, winding streets of Angoulême’s ramparts (16) in the Circuit des Remparts.

Don’t miss our 2020 Summer Guide for a full round up of events. All dates were confirmed at the time of printing but please check before leaving home in case of cancellations.

2020 events


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News from around the region...

Gold Medal Beers

Judged by Europe’s leading independent beer buyers, the European Beer Challenge is a prestigious annual competition held in London. Blind tastings of over one thousand beers from 200 breweries based in 38 countries took place in November with the winners announced at the end of the year. Local artisan brewery Bière de la Bastide in Monpazier which makes handcrafted beer in the traditional real ale style took part: “We entered 9 beers hoping we might get a bronze or two if we were lucky,” explained Denise Davies who runs the brewery with her husband Hugh. “We came away with 3 gold medals and 4 silver medals!” Gold medals were awarded for the brewery’s Beaumont Saison, Looks like Reindeer and Maillot Jaune bitter while Silvers were won for their Chasse IPA, Monpazier pale ale, 1284 bitter and St Andre bitter. Find out more about the brewery and their opening hours for tastings at

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Saga end

After 8 years of court battles and controversy, the noisy frogs at the centre of a neighbourly dispute need to be rehomed. The 300m2 pond owned by Annie and Michel Pécheras at Grignols, south west of Périgueux, may be home to five protected species of amphibians but the retired couple have been ordered to fill it in, losing their final legal battle in December after racking up thousands of euros in bills. Their neighbours stated that they could no longer open their windows from March to almost the end of June due to the noise made by mating frogs, night and day, which courts including the Cour de Cassation de Paris ruled was unreasonable.

The government have launched a new website aimed at helping individuals increase the life cycle of objects. If you click through to you can find helpful advice on products to buy, labelling and more as well as a database of companies that can hire out equipment, repair broken items and generally help to extend the usage of everyday objects. Zero Waste France is another useful website which highlights campaigns and offers training in reducing waste (see www. A new branch of the association has opened in Dordogne which shares local initiatives and can be followed on FB: Zéro Déchet Dordogne.

er dates to rememb Mother’s Day

y ~ France: 7 June UK: 22 March ~ USA: 10 Ma

Father’s Day

All countries: 21 June

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News from around the region...

Pesticide Battle

Daniel Barré, the maire of Chizé in Deux-Sévres, is fighting a battle against pesticides being used close to homes. In October 2019, he signed an arrêté municipal or by-law stopping the usage of phytosanitary products within 150m of the houses of the 900 Chizé residents based on his concerns for public health. He is not the first to do so, the maire of Langouët in Brittany attempted to do the same earlier this year but was overruled by the Rennes court. In an interview, President Macron supported the Langouët maire’s intentions but reminded him of the need to obey the law which specifies that the regulation of such products is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2009, a European Directive was introduced requiring member states to take measures to protect residents from pesticides. While this was welcomed by the State, the rules that finally come into effect this year only prohibit the use of pesticide sprayers within 3, 5, 10 or occassionally 20m from houses depending on the pesticide used. The region’s Préfète Isabelle David has asked Barré to cancel the by-law, but he has refused to do so, arguing that these new regulations do not protect the village’s residents.

Vendée Globe

There was amusement in the sailing world when the latest Vendée Globe poster was unveiled. Described as: “A dreamlike identity in which the very essence of the race’s main themes are conserved, the planet’s oceans, the emblematic colours of the race, red and blue, and the solo skipper at bow of the boat,” sailing enthusiasts were quick to point out the unrealistic posture of the boat would mean a very short race for the skipper. Designer Nicolas Gilles took it all in good spirit, recommending that the purists dream a little more and announcing his pleasure with the increased profile the controversy gave the poster!

Yucca Invasion

Along the coast of the Pays de Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (85), a team of workers have been removing scores of yucca plants growing in the dunes. Originating from Latin America, the plants take over the dunes, sending their roots deep, at the expense of the local flora. The dunes are protected Natura 2000 sites and so there is concern about the aggressive digging required to remove the plants. On the nearby Ile de Ré, an astounding 15 tonnes of the plants were removed using mechanical diggers at the end of 2019. The aim is simply to keep the plants under control, especially where the biodiversity of the dunes is threatened, as the plant isn’t on the national list of invasive species.



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





2020 events

Our round-up of the top dates for your diary…

29-31 May

(87) presents classical music concerts with a focus on promoting young talents.

4-12 June

An international cast perform Rossini’s Barber of Seville in a GalloRoman amphitheatre during Les Soirées Lyriques de Sanxay (86).

23-27 June

Le Buis Blues Festival welcomes blues acts from around the world to the villages in Monts du Limousin (87).

Live theatre acts and workshops throughout the weekend at Festival Graines de Rue at Bessines-sur-Gartempe (87).

10, 12 & 14 August

Festival Jazzellerault at Châtellerault (86) welcomes an international line up of jazz musicians.

19-22 August

Festival Urbaka at Limoges (87) offers street theatre in the heart of the city.

10 July-13 August

Don’t miss Les Heures Vagabondes, a series of free concerts across the Vienne.

10 - 14 July

Bandafolie’s features three days of events from concerts and a brocante to a fun run and parade held at Bessines-sur-Gartempe (87).

23-25 July

18th century arts and traditions are celebrated at the Festival des Lumières in Montmorillon (86).

Live bands in the park on the banks of the Charente at the Festival au Fil du Son, Civray (86). Buy a threeday pass and make a weekend of it. Les Vacances de Monsieur Haydn at La Roche Posay (86) is a popular festival of chamber music drawing performers Festival 1001 Notes at Limoges from across France.

17-20 September

25 July-8 August

Poitiers Airport

There was much concern at the end of 2019 about the future of Poitiers Airport after the contract with Vinci Airports to manage the operation was not renewed. At the same time, Grand Poitiers, representing Poitiers city, announced it would no longer support the low-cost flights using the airport. The group Sealar (Société d’Exploitation et d’Action Locale pour les Aéroports Régionaux) have taken over the management for 12 years with a review after 6 years. They have committed to keeping the Stansted flights as well as the La Rochelle-Lyon flights and are looking to expand the portfolio with destinations such as Marseille and Madrid. Travellers will also welcome the investment in infrastructure that they have announced to upgrade the departure area and provide a café / snack area, as well as work on the runway and surrounding areas.

20-23 August


Limoges Wine Fair welcomes over 180 exhibitors from 1416 February at the Parc des Expositions. Entry costs 6€.

A new group for writers is meeting at the Green Man Inn, Charroux (86) on 27 Feb from 7-9pm. To find out more about PC Writers email

RBL Poitou-Charentes

Sadly, the Poitou-Charentes branch of the Royal British Legion has closed after thirteen years of fund-raising and supporting ex-Service personnel. The standard was regularly carried at commemoration services across the region and the poppy appeal was always well supported. Despite appealing for new council members from amongst their 87 members, there were no volunteers to take over the running of the branch and so it closed at the end of last year.

News from around the region...

Project Partnership

LIVING Magazine is delighted to be supporting a major new study into the British community in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the impact of Brexit. Led by Dr Vincent Lagarde, Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship at the University School of Management of Limoges, the study will be the first significant research project into the British community here; who we are, what we do and what role we play in many rural communes, both socially and economically. Very little information is available about Britons living in this region, which makes the impact of Brexit difficult to assess and react to. An exploratory study underlined the arguments made by LIVING’s editor that difficulties caused by Brexit to the British community will impact already fragile rural communities and need to be tackled together. The project will run for three years and we will be regularly reporting on its progress and asking for volunteers where needed.

Help Needed! For nearly twenty years the agricultural college at Montmorillon (86), Agri’Nature, has been encouraging their Baccalauréate students to focus on English alongside their vocational courses. Four courses cater for 300 students: wildlife management, equine yard management (riding and running a yard), farm management (animal breeding) and dog and cat breeding. Unusually for a public agricultural school, the equine course is a ‘European section’ requiring the students to go on a work placement abroad, and this is an option for the other courses. With the added emphasis on the English language, the college hopes to give students an important

Historial du Poitou

advantage when applying for jobs. Given the large anglophone community around Montmorillon, the school is looking for local English speakers who would like to get involved - meeting with the students, preparing course materials, or arranging and hosting farm visits and stays to immerse the students in English ahead of their work placements. If you can help or would like to find out more, email Anna Garcia-Corry, Head of the European Section:

The 6th ‘Historial de France’ has been 8 years in the planning but finally the permis de construire has been submitted and building will commence in the summer. Set to open in April 2022, the interactive museum will be housed in the north wing of the 15th century Château de Mont-sur-Guesnes (86) and is expected to attract 50 000 visitors a year. It will cost some 7 million euros to construct.



Sale on until 5th February!

Zone Commerciale de SAVIGNÉ (86400) - Tel: 05 49 87 07 78

Rural sections have distinctive | living waymarkers



places to visit

The Long Walk

l Camino de Santiago’, ‘le Chemin de Saint-Jacques’, and ‘the Way of Saint-James’ are just some of the names referring to the age-old pilgrimage routes which converge upon a common destination: the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain. Having reached the capital city of the ancient region of Galicia, many of those who have already completed their long and arduous pilgrimage then decide to continue a few kilometres further to Finisterra, a rocky windswept peninsula on the Atlantic coast regarded by the Romans as the end of the known world. On the shoreline they would have found the scallop shells which became the emblem of the Camino de Santiago, providing medieval pilgrims with a potent keepsake as proof of having completed their journey. Over the centuries its symbolism has also taken on various

The numbers of people following ancient sacred trails through Spain, Portugal and France have exploded in recent years. We look at this age-old phenomenon. words: roger moss

metaphorical and mythical connotations, and appears among the sculpted decoration adorning countless churches, abbeys and other ancient structures sited along the routes. Santiago’s magnificent cathedral is now a prominent UNESCO World Heritage Site, although perhaps less well-known is the fact that the same protection has also been accorded to many historic halt sites (plus sections of the GR65 Grand Randonnée route, which follows the ancient Roman Via Podensis) found along the four main trails through France. Among our own UNESCO-listed historic sites on the Chemins de SaintJacques is the Cathédrale Saint-Marie

de Bayonne, near the Spanish border on the Voie Littoral (or Voie de Soulac). Bordeaux has several sites, most notably the Basilique Saint-Seurin and Cathédrale Saint-André, each of whose portal statuary includes Saint-Jacques. Further inland, the Cistercian Abbaye de Cadouin’s acquisition during the 12th century of the supposed shroud of Christ made it a centre of pilgrimage. The most sacred of the many treasures of Saintes is the atmospheric crypt of the Eglise Saint-Eutrope, whose earliest sculptures are believed to date from the 6th century. At Aulnay-de-Saintonge the Romanesque Eglise Saint-Pierre is sited on the Via Turonensis and

living places to visit | 17

Signage in Melle (79) and (right) scallop shell motif in Vieux Ruffec (16)

Scallop shell upper frieze, Melle (79)

“ The prospect of so many places of historic interest and such varied scenery along the way inspires

many modern walkers to follow a route”

is adorned with a wealth of sculpted decoration, as is another serene beauty, the 12th century Eglise Saint-Hilaire, in Melle. Poitiers has long been welcoming pilgrims, key sites being the vast Angevin Gothic Cathédrale SaintPierre, the Romanesque Eglise SaintHilaire-le-Grand and Eglise NotreDame-la-Grande and a remarkable survivor: 4/5th century Baptistère Saint-Jean, believed to be the oldest religious structure in France. Further up the Via Lemovicensis was another major halt for pilgrims, namely the Bénédictine Abbaye Saint-Martial de Limoges in whose crypt lay the tombs of the Saint, along with that of Sainte-Valérie. The complex was © ACIR - 2017

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Cathédrale SaintPierre de Poitiers (86)

18 | living places to visit The 12th century Abbaye de Cadouin (24)

11th century crypt, Basilique Saint-Eutrope de Saintes (17)

destroyed after the French Revolution, but in 1960 the crypt was rediscovered during construction work in Place de la République, with the tombs still intact. Until they reopen to visitors the excavations can be visited during les Journées Europénnes du Patrimoine. The prospect of so many places of historic interest and such varied scenery along the way inspires many modern walkers to follow a route as a purely physical challenge, with a sense of personal achievement. For others, however, the journey still has a spiritual purpose. Either way, the routes are growing in popularity each year, studies suggesting that in 2018 almost 350,000 walkers followed the trails. Obviously not everyone is able to devote

The Eglise SaintPierre d’Aulnay (UNESCO)

The Pont Saint-Etienne, Limoges (87)

living places to visit | 19

13th century Romanesque capital, Aulnay (17) Tour Pey Berland & Cathédrale SaintAndré, Bordeaux (33)

Nouvelle-Aquitaine’s historic Pilgrimage Routes Pilgrims from throughout France and beyond pass through our region on five principal routes, most of which join the French Way or Camino Francés, which begins in Basque country at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and crosses the Franco-Spanish border to pass through Pamplona, Burgos and Léon, peaking at 1515m near Manjarin and reaching Santiago di Compostela 769km later. La Via Turonensis runs from Paris via Orléans, Tours, Poitiers, Saintes and Bordeaux to the village of Ostabat. La Via Lemovicensis begins in Vézelay and passes through Bourges, Noblat, Limoges, Périgueux, Mont de Marsan

and Ostabat, and was also followed by pilgrims from Alsace, Lorraine and Belgium. La via Podiensis commences in Le Puy-en-Velay and passes through Conques, Moissac and Ostabat. La via Tolosana begins in Arles, passing through Saint-Guilhem, Toulouse, Auch and Ostabat. Finally, pilgrims crossing the Gironde can follow the Voie Littoral along the coastline from Soulac to Sanguinet, Bayonne and Hendaye or cross from Blaye to Lamarque to descend to Bordeaux and beyond. More information:

20 | living places to visit

Cathedrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne (64)

On the Camino de Santiago at Castilla, northern Spain

sufficient time to tackling an entire route in one go, so many spend a week or two each year, spreading their epic journey across several years. Both approaches obviously require significant commitment, but dedicated maps are available, rural sections are way-marked and walkers who purchase and carry a Credencial (‘pilgrim’s passport’) can access overnight accommodation along the route. Each town they pass through, or refugio at which they have stayed, will add an official Saint-Jacques stamp, the resulting record providing proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route. Those who have completed a minimum of the final 100 km (200 km if they’ve cycled or ridden on horseback) to the tomb of SaintJacques and with ‘a Christian sentiment’ will then receive a Compostela certificate attesting to their pilgrimage. Find out more: 4/5th century Baptistère SaintJean, Poitiers (86)

According to legend...

According to medieval legend, the mortal remains of Saint James the Apostle were brought to Galicia for burial, the site chosen being then known as Mount Libredon. In the year 813, a shepherd was keeping watch over his flock at night, when the clouds parted and a bright star appeared. He followed the light, which guided him to the burial site. The shepherd lost no time reporting the revelation to Bishop Teodomiro of Iria, who declared the

remains to be those of the apostle and then informed King Alfonso II in Oviedo. Eventually a cathedral was constructed on the spot where the Saint’s remains had been discovered, and where other miraculous events had occurred, inspiring the Catholics to defend their stronghold in northern Spain during the Christian crusades against the Moors. In time the city now known as Santiago de Compostela grew up around the sacred site.

The historical view...

Around 830, Bishop Theodemar of Iria claimed to have found some remains which he attributed to Saint James. By then Charlemagne had recognised Asturias as a kingdom, ruled by Alfonso II, with whom he established close ecclesiastical and political ties. Meanwhile, a new settlement was founded around the newly discovered burial site, which soon became a place of pilgrimage, known by the 10th century as Compostela. Subsequent events are unclear. Some say that the cult of Saint James had been established before 11-12th centuries as an essentially Galician affair while other sources suggest that by the mid-11th century the site had already become a place of pilgrimage from much further afield. What is beyond dispute is that Santiago would soon become a prominent Catholic shrine second only to Rome and Jerusalem. In the 12th century Compostela gained an Archbishop, with an expanding

multinational population, which sowed the seeds of unrest, the people of the city opposing the local bishop (the secular and jurisdictional lord of the city and the semi-independent Terra de Santiago) in their struggle for self-determination. Things came to a head in the 14th century, when French prelate Bérenger de Landore executed the city counsellors, after inviting them for talks. Much later, during the Napoleonic Wars Santiago de Compostela was captured and sacked by the French and the remains attributed to the Saint disappeared. A century or so later they were rediscovered hidden inside a chamber in the cathedral crypt. As a footnote, further excavations conducted in the cathedral during the 19th and 20th centuries revealed a burial site from Roman (19BC–410) and Suebi (411-585) occupations. A martyrium confirms the existence of an old Christian holy place.

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26 | living getaway

We reveal the rugged beauty of the Massif du Sancy, home to the source of the Dordogne


High Drama

ith the creation of Nouvelle-Aquitaine came the sudden realisation that our near neighbours would henceforth include the ancient province of l’Auvergne, in the magnificent Massif Central, now part of the

WORDS & PHOTOS: Roger Moss

Rhône-Alpes region. Just a couple of hours’ drive from Limoges lies the city of Clermont-Ferrand, above whose Roman tiled rooftops soar the slender spires of a striking Gothic cathedral constructed almost entirely from Andésite, or ‘pierre de Volvic’. This dark, volcanic stone is plentiful locally, The Puy du Sancy’s panoramic viewpoint

thanks to the brooding contours of a string of extinct volcanoes (or ‘puys’), including le Puy de Dome (1465m) after which the local département is named, and le Puy du Sancy (higher still, at 1885m). Altitudes like these mean that in winter they attract heavy snowfalls – and skiers bound for resorts like Chastreix, Le Lioran, Le Mont Dore and Super Besse. In other seasons, however, the scenery is simply magnificent, making this some of the finest touring country France has to offer. If you’re considering a short break in a unique setting then a relatively compact area some 20km south-west of ClermontFerrand should fit the bill. After our own largely flat landscapes, the more dramatic contours of the Massif du Sancy feel other-worldly, changing at every turn, while each climb is rewarded with a dazzling panorama, perhaps with an unexpected overview of a centuries old mountain village huddled into a sheltered valley. A classic example is Murat-le-Quaire,

The final steps to the summit of the Puy du Sancy

living getaway | 23

Le Mont Dore’s celebrated antique funicular

constructed using volcanic stone and roofed with neatly hand cut slabs of ‘lauze’ – tough, slate-like stone often sourced from riverbeds. Sure enough, the village sits between the upper valley of the Dordogne and the volcanic peak of la Banne d’Ordanche, at whose 1024m summit is a panoramic orientation viewpoint. Several signed itineraries make the surrounding landscapes a haven for walkers and mountain bikers. Just below the village is La Bourboule, whose fortunes were largely founded upon its thermal spas. Les Grands Thermes still attract large numbers of curistes, although there’s a lot more to see here, including a wealth of stylish Belle Epoque architecture on both banks of the river, plus a striking neo-Romanesque église, complete with polychrome decoration in local stone. The Office de Tourisme has maps showing footpaths to the 1150m summit of the Plateau de Charlannes, a popular spot for walkers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers. Early 20th century visitors could take a water powered funicular which operated from 1902 until 1958. Its cable car replacement also ceased operation some years ago, but if you don’t feel up to the walk then there’s now road access. If you long to ride an antique funicu-

Saint-Nectaire’s elegant Office de Tourisme

lar, though, you can still do so just a few kilometres upstream at Le Mont Dore. Like its neighbour, the town has both a casino and a large thermal spa, although the latter’s slightly unexciting neo-Classical façade is deceptive; step inside and you’ll discover a full-on Byzantine-meets-Art-Déco interior. Now Monuments Historiques listed, it’s a pleasingly exotic setting in which to enjoy a relaxing massage or thermal spa treatment. Around the town are many more period features, making this not only a rewarding place to explore, but also a great choice for an overnight stop.

If you awake to fine weather then make the most of it by riding the funicular, the oldest electrically powered example in France. The funiculaire du Capucin was inaugurated in June, 1898 to permit curistes from the thermal spa (and later WWI casualties being treated for gas inhalation) to benefit from the purity of the air during woodland walks at 1245m altitude. The beautifully restored Belle Epoque creation is now a listed Monument Historique, and is still powered by a hydroelectric installation down on the Dordogne

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24 | living getaway Eglise SaintJoseph, La Bourboule

A long-serving maire of Besse recorded in stone

Auvergnat style in Murat-le-Quaire

river below. During the 1930s skiers were also carried up to a handful of descents created on the flanks of the plateau, until a cable car was installed further up the valley in 1936. Le Mont Dore owes its present La Bourboule goes neoClassical

reputation as a ski resort largely thanks to the téléphérique du Sancy, now something of an antique itself but so successful that it was joined by a second installation in 1961. Both continue to operate, not only in winter but also during the summer months when the 360° panoramic views from the 1886m summit of the Puy du Sancy attract countless visitors. From here walkers, mountain bikers and skiers can head back down past the source of the Dordogne or continue over to the linked resort of Super Besse, on the opposite side of the Puy. By road it’s around a 40min drive, but a scenic one, the D996 passing the beautiful azure expanse of Lac Chambon. As its name suggests, Super Besse was created above the village of Besse, whose atmospheric medieval heart preserves many Renaissance features plus robust survivors from the

living getaway | 25 Local volcanic stone in Le Mont Dore

previous fortifications, all constructed from dark, local volcanic rock. If you’re planning a weekend break then don’t miss one of the Monday morning markets in the heart of Besse, centuries-old spectacles which still attract traders from nearby historic

market towns. Among the authentic produce you’ll find the local AOC cheeses – Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal, Fourme d’Ambert, Saint-Nectaire and Salers plus elusive, lesser-known farm cheeses like Pavin and Grand Murols. Real cheese aficionados can follow

Cave-matured Saint-Nectaire cheeses

the Route des Fromages AOP d’Auvergne to see the producers at work – Saint Nectaire is particularly worth visiting (and not only for the illustrious cheese). Find out more:

Le Mont Dore’s Byzantine/Art Déco thermal spa

The medieval heart of Besse


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26 | practical living

law&money << OUr experts answer YOur questions...

Insurance 101


I’ve been bombarded with offers of insurance policies since coming to live in France – which ones are important?


It’s easy to get confused with the different options available. After household, car and health policies, one of the first you may hear about is ‘protection juridique’ which is often an add-on to your household insurance. It can be useful to be able to contact a legal service to help if you have problems with your neighbours, service providers, tenants etc. Most of the other insurances revolve around the notion of “responsibilité civile” or RC. This is something a private citizen doesn’t hold in the UK where it’s considered a professional insurance. RC covers accidental damage you or your children may cause to a third party or

their belongings. It is highly recommended in France and obligatory if you own a property. If your property insurance is not a French one, check if this is included. You’ll often be asked for proof of insurance for certain activities: • If you wish to hire the local salle des fêtes, or privately rent a holiday apartment or caravan, you may be required to provide an “attestation d’assurance”. Ask your household insurer for a copy of this attestation. • If you have school-aged children, they will need insurance for school (assurance scolaire) which includes physical injury, the journey to and from school and school-time activities. It’s often included with your household policy. • If your children take part in out-of-school activities such as music, art, drama or sport they will need an additional insurance for this type of activity. • If you are a member of a sports club, you will probably need to take out their insurance in case you cause a sporting injury to another member. Finally, when you buy a new mobile phone, tablet or computer you may be offered ‘dommage accidentel’. This is certainly worth considering, as contrary to English insurances, accidental damage caused by your own actions to anything that you own, will not be covered by your household insurance.

Miriam MIDDLETON is bilingual and advises clients on all aspects of French insurance, both personal and professional. Agence Billaud, 16260 Chasseneuil-surBonnieure; email:; tel: 06 76 65 81 67 Assurances Solutions - ORIAS 13001728 - 13001611 (www. - SIRET 790 805 303 00019, Garantie Financière et RC Professionnelle Police CGPA C110110.

Legal Changes Ahead


With Brexit coming, what legal changes should Brits in France look out for? The UK’s withdrawal from the EU, if the plans are ratified, will take place on the 31 January 2020, although the final terms of the Brexit deal post-transition are uncertain. However, it is important to anticipate the legal consequences so I will endeavour to identify the legislative areas which will be impacted by Brexit. Fundamentally, without new agreements, the European regulations to which the UK has adhered (and which have been in essence directly applicable) will no longer apply. An example could be those areas governed by the law applicable to contractual obligations of June 17, 2008, called “Rome I”. In the future, it will be necessary to refer to a Hague Convention (if the UK accedes to one following Brexit) which provides similar, but not necessarily identical, provisions. With regards to family law, the regulation Brussels II bis concerning the jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility may also be impacted by Brexit. Any decision or application regarding divorce, in particular, will need to be considered carefully by all parties. Does British or French law apply, will a judgment be recognised and enforced abroad? The European succession regulation is not affected because the UK has never opted in and is therefore already considered a third party to the regulation. As a result, it does not apply in the UK

but applies in France for Britons living or owning a property in France. A valid UK Will in France will also not be affected because the UK has ratified the Hague Convention dated 5 October 1961 and it is unlikely that it will withdraw from it. Finally, it is hoped that the British government will ratify the Lugano Convention to recognise foreign judgments in civil and commercial disputes, streamlining the process for cross-border disputes and ensuring that burdensome exequatur procedures do not need to be introduced. France is a multicultural country and already welcomes different nationalities from around the world. Brexit will clearly have an impact on practicalities and administrative paperwork, but I do not think that legally, the system will radically change - both countries have a long history of partnership, that I hope that will never change, even after Brexit. Christophe Dutertre is a bilingual Frenchqualified Notaire with over 22 years’ experience, 15 of which were working in law offices in Monaco and with the banking industry in Luxembourg. FranceTaxLaw specialises in French and European notarial law and advises clients on all aspects of civil or tax law.; tel: +44 (0)20 8115 7914; email:

practical living | 27

Tax Residency


I now live in France; do I have to declare myself as a French tax resident?

As a French resident you are required to fill in a French tax return every year. Your declaration is due in May and your first return will be a paper declaration, then will be via an online portal going forward. All income, irrespective of where it is received, needs to be included on your French tax return. This includes UK government sector pensions like a teacher’s or local authority pension. Whilst they

will still need to be declared, and France means you don’t detailing any tax that has pay tax twice. been paid in the UK, a double Having to declare your taxation treaty between the UK financial position in France

does not mean all your investments, savings or pensions must be in Euros. Tax compliant investments can be in different currencies and in different jurisdictions. It is always worth confirming, however, that they are as tax efficient for France as possible, so talking to a regulated financial adviser is recommended. We are still unaware of how UK held investments will be treated by France after 2020 when the UK finally leaves the EU, so understanding alternative solutions now will help you in any future tax planning you undertake.

Amanda Johnson works as an Independent Financial Advisor with The Spectrum IFA Group. T: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43;; To register for their newsletter, attend a roadshow event or speak directly to Amanda, call or email her. There is no charge for their financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations. « The Spectrum IFA Group » is a registered trademark, exclusive rights to use in France granted to TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 « Société de Courtage d’assurances » R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 - « Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »

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28 | living wellbeing

+article en Français

La Chaine Thermale de Jonzac is set in an old quarry from which stone was carved out to build the region’s cathedrals

Thalassothérapie uses a selection of muds and clays derived from the sea

Treatments are exclusively dermatological at La Roche Posay

living wellbeing | 29

La Roche Posay’s natural spring waters have proven medicinal qualities

Photos opposite page: bottom left: © C. Pedrotti - F. Louis; top: Xavier BOYMOND

“Take a spa day!” W

hile other countries around the world have a well-developed tradition of “spas”, France has an altogether wider offer, including one that has proven medicinal qualities. There are three different ways to approach this healing process: thalassotherapy, a wellness spa or a “cure thermale”. The latter, a French speciality, is even paid for by the State. The common denominator for all three of these treatments is, of course, water. Thalassotherapy, a contraction of the Greek words for “healing” and “sea”, must be completed on the coast, as it employs exclusively sea water, sea mud and algae. Nouvelle-Aquitaine, with its long Atlantic coast, is well supplied in this area. On the other hand, a spa, or “sanitas per aqua” (health through water), can use either mineral water, sea water, or, well, just water from the tap. A “cure thermale”, though, uses water from a proven underground source tested for its medicinal properties,

“New Year new you” doesn’t necessarily only mean losing a dress size and tightening your pores. Perhaps, this year, listening to your body will mean healing those little niggles that are getting you down each day, and there’s no better place to do that than in France. WORDS: Jessica Knipe

which can range from dermatological or respiratory to rheumatological or even psychological. Each source has different benefits to treat different pathologies, but the results are so impressive that the Social Security system will reimburse any patient whose doctor deems it necessary to send them on a cure. At La Roche Posay, for example,

the water has been proven to have soothing and healing effects on the skin. “La Roche Posay offers exclusively dermatological cures,” explains Claire Lesrel, Communications Director for the thermal spa near Châtellerault (86) which is one of the references of the industry. “Our water has proven medicinal benefits for eczema, psoriasis, and scars, whether from acne or from cancer treatment burns.” The cancer treatments offered by La Roche Posay are the first of their kind available in France, and they have just been recognised as medically beneficial. As well as beneficial in terms of the regular skin treatments, the water has been proven to improve the regrowth of hair and nails and soothe muscular pain. The cure also comes with a range of support groups to add a psychological aspect to the healing, such as talks and workshops that teach corrective make-up techniques. Nouvelle-Aquitaine has a long history of thermal sources, with towns like Jonzac, Rochefort and Saujon

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days out

The treatment rooms in Jonzac

Là où d’autres pays à travers le monde ont déjà des ‘spas’ bien développés, la France offre une palette de choix considérablement plus large, dont une sorte qui est dotée de qualités médicinales bien avérées. Il y a trois façons d’aborder ce genre de guérison : la thalassothérapie, le spa ‘wellness’ ou la cure thermale. Cette dernière, spécialité française, est même prise en charge par l’État. Le dénominateur commun de ces trois traitements : l’eau. La thalassothérapie, contraction des mots grecs therapeía

Prendre de bonnes résolutions, ce n’est pas seulement une question de perdre du poids ou resserrer ses pores. Cette année, écouter votre corps voudra peut-être plutôt dire que vous allez vous débarrasser de tout ces petits maux qui vous dépriment au quotidien, et il n’y a pas de meilleur endroit pour le faire qu’en France. (soin) et thálassa (mer), prend place obligatoirement en front de mer et utilise exclusivement de l’eau saline, de la boue marine et des algues. La NouvelleAquitaine, avec sa longue côte atlantique, est bien approvisionnée en la matière. D’autre part, un spa, ou sanitas per aqua (la santé par l’eau), peut utiliser soit de l’eau minérale, soit de l’eau de mer, soit juste de l’eau du robinet. L’eau d’une cure thermale, elle, doit provenir d’une source souterraine testée et prouvée pour ses propriétés médicinales, qui peuvent être dermatologiques, respiratoires, rhumatologiques ou même psychologiques. Chaque source a ses propres attributs pour traiter les différentes pathologies, avec des résultats si probants que la Sécurité Sociale rembourse tout patient dont son médecin estime qu’il est nécessaire de l’envoyer en cure. Par exemple, à La Roche Posay, la station thermale située près de Châtellerault (86)

qui est devenue une des références au sein de la profession, il a été prouvé que l’eau a un effet apaisant et cicatrisant pour la peau. « La Roche Posay propose exclusivement des cures dermatologiques, explique Claire Lesrel, directrice de la communication. Notre eau a des vertus médicinales prouvées pour l’eczéma, le psoriasis et les cicatrices, qu’elles soient dues à l’acné ou aux brûlures du traitement du cancer. » Les traitements contre le cancer proposés par La Roche Posay sont les premiers de leur genre en France, et leur qualité médicale vient d’être officiellement reconnue. En plus des traitements pour la peau, il a été prouvé que l’eau améliore la repousse des cheveux et des ongles, tout en soulageant les douleurs musculaires. La cure s’accompagne également d’une série de groupes de soutien pour ajouter un aspect psychologique à la guérison, tels que des conférences et des ateliers qui enseignent

Photos bottom left: © CORENTIN MOSSIERE; bottom right & TOP RIGHT: © C. Pedrotti - F. Louis


The Chaine Thermal de | living Jonzac’s tranquil setting offers a soothing break from stressful daily life

living wellbeing | 31

La Roche Posay has some healthy eating options

The Valvital treatment rooms

Treatments at La Roche Posay have scarification properties

Thermal centres often include relaxing wellness treatments

already operating as thermal centres. At the Chaine Thermal du Soleil in Jonzac (17) the waters are recognised for the treatment of rheumatology (which actually represents 75% of the cures in France), phlebology and respiratory diseases. The centre is set underground, in an old quarry once used to provide cathedral stone, and offers the classic medical treatments as well as a range of complementary and spa treatments. A little further north in the Charente-Maritime, Valvital, the second largest thermal group in France, is currently in the process of opening a centre in Saint-Jean-d’Angély. Whereas thalassotherapy can last any number of days (or however many you can afford) a cure thermale is prescribed by a doctor and lasts 18 days. Shorter, non-reimbursed cures of 6 or 12 days exist, for those who can’t commit to a three-week stint, but for the 18-day cure the state will take on 65% of the cost of the cure, with top-up insurance often paying for the rest. “Some people simply don’t have the time to stay with us for three weeks, though,” explains Ingrid Ouanna of the Thermes de Jonzac. “The 6- or 12-day ‘mini-cures’ often act as a taster for patients, who then come back for a longer period when they can.” For those with a history of illness, the state will sometimes reimburse the totality of the treatments, so it’s worth having a chat with your doctor if you have any long-term ailments. “These treatments are not a burden on the healthcare system,” says Claire, at La Roche Posay. “They are much cheaper

than a lengthy hospital stay, and more often than not the cure will prevent future illness which could end up costing the state in the long run. We act as a relay for hospitals, taking on the baton of treatment for the doctors and nurses.” Each of these thermal options will usually also include access to a nearby spa, with traditional saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis, as well as “wellness” treatments like massages and wraps. The thermal centres develop these spas, not only to attract a more local clientele and offer an extra luxury for the curistes and their accompanying spouses, but also because the social security encourages them to do so. “The state recommends that we diversify our offer and experiment with its complementary effects on the other medical treatments, in case they can be incorporated into the reimbursement plan” says Ingrid at Jonzac. “Spa treatments and complementary offers such as yoga or music therapy can reinforce the efficiency of the cure in the longer term. The benefits don’t end there – once the medical treatments of the day are over, the spa offers a good opportunity to spend some time concentrating on yourself, far from your home and any associated stress. It’s a good way to make the most of the break.” So, whether you go for a medical cure recognised by healthcare professionals or a simple day of relaxation and massages, taking the time to concentrate on yourself is always a good thing. Take a break, sit in a bubble bath, and watch the niggles disappear!

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32 | living wellbeing Valvital has centres in some picturesque locations throughout France

Photos TOP LEFT & TOP RIGHT: © C. Pedrotti - F. Louis

Gentle exercise in a thermal pool can have remarkable results

des techniques de maquillage correctif. Ailleurs en Nouvelle-Aquitaine il y a une longue et riche histoire thermale, et les villes de Jonzac, Rochefort et Saujon fonctionnent déjà en tant que sources reconnues. Au centre de la Chaîne Thermale du Soleil, à Jonzac (17), les eaux sont préconisées pour les traitements de rhumatismes (qui représentent actuellement 75 % des cures en France), de la phlébologie et des maladies respiratoires. Le centre est situé sous terre, dans une ancienne carrière qui servait autrefois à extraire la pierre de cathédrale, et propose les soins médicaux classiques ainsi qu’une gamme de soins complémentaires et de cures thermales. Un peu plus au nord, le deuxième groupe thermal de France, Valvital, implantera un nouveau centre thermal à Saint Jean d’Angély (17) d’ici 2023. Alors qu’un séjour en thalassothérapie peut durer autant de jours que l’on veut (ou que l’on peut se permettre), une cure thermale prescrite par un médecin doit durer 18 jours. Il existe des mini-cures plus courtes de 6 ou 12 jours pour ceux qui ne peuvent pas s’engager pour un séjour de trois semaines, mais elles ne sont pas remboursées – l’État ne prend en charge que le coût d’une cure de 18 jours, à hauteur de 65 %, et une assurance complémentaire vient souvent compléter le reste. « Certaines personnes n’ont tout

simplement pas le temps de rester avec nous pendant trois semaines, explique Ingrid Ouanna, des Thermes de Jonzac. Les mini-cures de 6 ou 12 jours servent souvent de test pour les patients, qui reviennent ensuite pour une période plus longue quand ils le peuvent. » Pour ceux qui ont des maladies de longue date, l’État peut rembourser parfois la totalité des traitements – ça vaut donc la peine de discuter avec votre médecin si vous avez des problèmes de santé à long terme. « Ces remboursements ne sont pas un fardeau pour la sécurité sociale, explique Claire, à La Roche Posay. Les traitements sont beaucoup moins onéreux qu’un long séjour à l’hôpital et, le plus souvent, ils préviennent de futures maladies qui pourraient finir par coûter cher à l’État à long terme. Nous sommes un relais pour les hôpitaux, les médecins et les infirmières. » Les cures thermales donnent aussi généralement sur un spa wellness, avec saunas, hammams et jacuzzis, ainsi que des soins de bien-être comme des massages. Les centres thermaux développent cette offre supplémentaire non seulement pour attirer une clientèle plus locale et offrir un luxe supplémentaire aux curistes et à leurs conjoints accompagnateurs, mais aussi parce que la sécurité sociale les y encourage. « L’État nous recommande de diversifier notre offre et d’expérimenter ses effets

A seaweed mask can do the skin a world of good

complémentaires sur les autres soins médicaux, au cas où ils pourraient être intégrés dans le plan de remboursement, explique Ingrid, à Jonzac. Les cures thermales et les offres complémentaires telles que le yoga ou la musicothérapie peuvent renforcer l’efficacité de la cure à plus long terme. » Les bienfaits ne s’arrêtent pas là : « Une fois les traitements médicaux de la journée terminés, le spa offre une bonne occasion de passer un peu de temps à se concentrer sur soi-même, loin de chez soi et du stress qui y est associé. C’est une bonne façon de profiter au maximum de la pause. » Ainsi, que ce soit pour une cure reconnue par les professionnels de santé ou pour une simple journée de détente et de massages, prendre le temps de se concentrer sur soi-même ne peut jamais être une mauvaise chose. Faites une pause, asseyez-vous dans un bain moussant et regardez les petits maux du quotidien disparaître !

living brexit | 33

Citizens’ rights after


Kathryn Dobson and Kalba Meadows, members of British in Europe’s steering team, examine the latest developments for British nationals living in France

its mind on extending the transition period at any point up to July 2020. All they need to do is pass a new piece of primary legislation.

What if there’s ‘no deal’ at the end of transition?

Finally, the decision to leave has been ratified and, as this edition of LIVING is delivered, the UK will leave the EU on 31st January 2020.

At the time of writing, the necessary legislation is passing through the UK and EU Parliaments but there is no expectation that it will not pass so the UK will leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement in place.

What is the Withdrawal Agreement? The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is a treaty between the EU and the UK that sets out how the UK’s EU membership will end. It covers three areas: 1) the status and rights of both British citizens in the EU and EU nationals in the UK, 2) the UK’s financial obligations, and 3) how the Irish border will continue to function. It doesn’t cover trade or any other aspects of the future relationship between UK and EU - discussions on these are quite separate and won’t begin until after the UK has left the EU. The UK’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) turns the WA into UK law and gives the Government permission to ratify it. The Bill and the WA, however, are different things - even if amendments are made to the Bill as it

passes through UK Parliament, the WA itself remains unaltered.

When does it come into force? Once approved by both UK and European parliaments, the WA comes into effect at midnight CET (11pm UK time) on 31 January 2020. At this point, a transition period (sometimes called an ‘implementation period’) comes into effect. This lasts until 31 December 2020 and is a kind of standstill during which current trading arrangements and freedom of movement rules stay in place, and during which the ‘future relationship’ between the UK and EU must be negotiated, including a trade deal. During the transition period our citizens’ rights remain unchanged (except for voting and political rights, which we lose immediately on exit).

Can the transition period be extended? The WA allows for an extension to the transition period of one or two years, providing this is requested by July 2020 (Article 132). However, a new clause has been added to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill preventing any such extension from happening. But Article 132 will remain in the WA even though the Bill has passed with this amendment - so the door remains open for the UK government to change

You’ve almost certainly read about the possibility of ‘no deal’ if the government fails to negotiate a future relationship/ trade deal by 31 December 2020 and there’s no extension to the transition agreement. The media is now using the term ‘deal’ to relate to the trade deal that has to be struck during the transition period, and the terms ‘no deal’ and ‘crashing out’ to the situation where no trade deal can be agreed. Confusingly, these are the very same terms that were used through 2019 to denote the UK leaving without a WA, but the meaning is very different. If this should happen, the UK would

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2020 Municipal elections are held every 6 years in France. The next elections will take place in March and to vote, you must be an EU citizen and registered on the electoral roll of your commune by 7 February. If you gain French nationality after this date then, exceptionally, you have until 5 March to register. As Brits will no longer be EU citizens from 1 Feb, all voting rights are lost and they cannot stand to be elected unless they have a second qualifying nationality.

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34 | living brexit

Citizens’ rights after

BREXIT automatically default to trading on WTO terms. However - and this is important once the WA becomes law, it will remain in place as an international treaty. The rights that it includes for British citizens resident in the EU by the end of the transition period would remain covered. They cannot be removed even in the absence of a trade agreement. Once the WA is in force, British nationals resident in France before the end of the transition period are covered by it for life whatever happens with future negotiations. The failure to conclude a trade deal might be a ‘no deal’ situation for UK trade, but not for us. We can’t say this enough, as it’s important and the subject of much confusion and concern.

guaranteed for 3 years. However, with a deal, S1 cover will extend for life or until you no longer meet the conditions (for example you move out of France). Pension upgrades (and aggregation across countries) and UK exportable benefits payments will similarly be paid, just as they are now.

How do you get a carte de sejour?

INFORMATION YOU CAN TRUST The French Government site has now been translated into English (brexit. and the UK Government continues to update its ‘Living in’ guide ( but where should you go for quality independent information that clearly explains the implications for individuals in France? Kalba Meadows and LIVING’s Kathryn Dobson, both members of the British in Europe steering team, provide an information website specifically for France under the British in Europe umbrella. Bookmark it to ensure that you are kept up-to-date with the latest important information:

Unsurprisingly, given the progress of Brexit last year, the focus of the French Government was on preparing for a nodeal Brexit. Relatively little planning has gone in to what happens in the case of the WA being implemented as UK citizens have until 6 months after the end of WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED the transition period to apply for one (i.e. IN THE WA? by the end of June 2021 based on the There are several important rights How is the Withdrawal current transition period). that are not included: Agreement different from In preparation for a 31 October 2019 Continuing Freedom of Movement: while the no-deal contingency plans that FRANCE produced? exit, a national website was trialled allow- the right to live and work in France is The no-deal contingency plan and protected under the WA, these are not ing individuals to upload the necessary legislation produced by France related evidence to establish their right to a resi- transferable to any other Member State. only to a situation in which the UK left dence permit. This appeared to work well You will not be able to move to, say, Spain the EU without a WA. It would have come but no permits were issued as the UK and work there after the end of the traninto effect at the moment of a no-deal did not leave.The expectation is that this sition period with the ease that you can exit. Under a no-deal scenario, we would website will be amended in line with the now. Without free movement, individuals have defaulted to basic ‘third country simplified requirements of the WA and with businesses in France will be unable national’ status immediately on exit then rolled out. At the time of writing, to offer services to other EU countries. and our future rights would have been the website is still reflecting a no-deal Returning to the UK with a non-British determined by France under its national exit and préfecture staff have not been spouse or family member: stringent UK immigration law. UK citizens would informed of the process for exit under immigration law will apply. have been treated differently according the WA. We now have to wait. Those that Voting and political rights. to which country they lived in as each already have an EU Carte de Séjour will We will be looking at these issues in country’s no deal plans were different. be able to exchange them directly and future editions but in the meantime, all cartes will be free of charge under the follow for As the UK now leaves the EU under the WA regulations (they would have been accurate information and more detailed WA, the no-deal legislation produced 119€ per card without an agreement). explanations of all these topics. by each country will not now come into effect and is defunct. All the citizens’ rights provisions of the WA must be implemented in each EU27 country, which means that any country can’t decide to Just over 2 years ago, LIVING invited the treat British citizens less favourably than British Embassy team to Civray (86) for another country would. However, each one of their first Outreach Meetings - it country will have different procedures was essential that the communication for obtaining a residence card, as they do was not limited to cities. Matthew Lodge, now for EU citizens. Here in France these Minister at the British Embassy in Paris, cards are called Cartes de Séjour. who presented at this first meeting, will be returning on Tuesday 11th February. What ABOUT HEALTHCARE Matthew It is hoped that local préfecture staff will AND PENSIONS? Lodge, also be able to attend. The meeting will Minister at In the case of no-deal, the UK run from 6-8pm and places must be the British Government announced S1 cover would Embassy reserved in advance on the website at only continue for 6 months after Brexit and that pension upgrades would only be


living brexit | 35

For the past 3 years, British in Europe has represented British citizens at local, national and EU level, with remarkable success for a grassroots organisation. Quickly establishing a reputation as both legal experts and grassroots activists, their input has been sought by both the UK Government and the EU institutions throughout the negotiations. By partnering with ‘the3million’ (who act on behalf of EU citizens in the UK), a united front on behalf of the 5 million affected individuals has been consistently presented to EU, UK and member state governments, strengthening the argument. Alongside advising the UK Government on the realities of living in the EU, both legal and practical, BiE has been successful in persuading them to provide funding to help vulnerable individuals apply for residency, an important win. Unfortunately, finding funds for the high level advocacy and monitoring that BiE carries out has been more difficult. This leaves BiE with a conundrum. Having given thousands of volunteer hours at significant personal and professional cost, the team cannot continue to operate in this way. But there is a real need to lobby for those elements not yet agreed, including important ones for many families and professionals. At the same time there is a need to independently monitor the implementation of the WA, highlighting areas where there are issues. If this is not done by BiE, who will do it? No other citizens’ rights groups have lobbied at these levels and no other organisations have developed the broad expertise now found within the BiE team. The team’s results speak for themselves but they need your help to continue. British in Europe requires funds to enable the team to prepare for and travel to key meetings in the UK and EU. If you value your rights, if you value the work that has been done on your behalf and want it to continue, then please donate and encourage your local friends to. Even better, get together and raise funds as a group. Over the coming weeks BiE will be sharing plans for the transition period which can only be implemented if funds can be found. Without British in Europe in future discussions, who will be looking after your rights?

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36 | living family

Avec les enfants

Taking Stock







get me excited! Along the way we have tried to teach the children the same mindset, and I think they’re starting to get it, too. On a parallel track, the happenings in the potager are also shadowed by the current global problem of climate change, for even as I type this I notice the lower garden is glistening under a sheet of floodwater, and down there all I can see is the waving of abandoned tomato canes above the inundation. The girls and I had a serious conversation yesterday about what the deluge and standing water might have done to the potager, and Roddy chimed in with miserable thoughts for all the insects tucked away in the soil, deep in their mid-winter dormitories. We muttered briefly about cherry blossom, and the blue Judas tree, and a trug of asparagus, but brooding overhead is the unspoken thought that not all is well with our planet - it is very hard to argue that it’s in fine fettle. I put it to the children at supper: what do their friends at school understand about climate change, and



As we neared the winter equinox, a recent visit to the weekly market reminded me of one of the things I love most about life in France, namely the seasonal change in produce. Actually it’s not the foods that are available which excite me, but rather the ones which aren’t, for their absence reminds me that it’s the act of using a seasonal product that puts me firmly in charge of my life. Life is one big cycle, and fruits and vegetables are meant to fit into the cogs of the universal wheel. As I get older, and perhaps garden more myself, each new arrival from the market stall or the potager takes me back to my childhood, when life was simpler, and I like to think that earlier generations in our family lived by a firmer set of values. This for me is why the first new arrivals of each passing month are so much more delicious, whether it be the first Brussels sprouts of winter, or asparagus in springtime, or strawberries as the seasonal warmth spreads across the land (from France, naturellement); even the first summer sardines on the fish counter

what are they doing about it? It seems everyone knows what has to be done, but is that enough? Furthermore, is everyone really taking notice? Is the common man doing enough? The answers came tumbling across the table. In our children’s collège and lycée combined there are about 800 students, and our son and daughters all confirmed that bien sûr, everyone was aware of the crisis. So I then asked: “How many of your friends do you think are actually doing something about it rather than just talking about it?” The stark and futile responses varied from a shocking “Maybe 20 people?” from one daughter, to “Maybe one person?” from our son, who is on the last lap of his final year of school. I sat back, agog with the realisation that it really is apathy that is going to kill the planet. It could not have been better reinforced than at that moment, even as Greta Thunberg marches almost daily across our television screens. I really do feel that we are at a point where no amount of reusable bags at the supermarché is

living family | 37

and brighter veggies. And also, very simply, we’ll be eating far less meat. The meat industry is a planet killer. And yes, I have to admit there are trade-offs – it means more pasta with tomato sauce during the week, I think. But then, if Greta can sail from one continent to another for her beliefs, then a lack of sausages now might be a small token of support. I think as a family we really do realise it’s time the common man did something, for nothing else will effect change quite as fast. I think the next five years are going to be the most important in our planet’s history – definitely time to act ourselves! 1




going to solve our impending doom. The question is, what can we do? It’s difficult to be ‘emphatic’, but here’s what we will be trying to do from now on, helped by a clutch of understanding and supportive children. We’ll be using less plastic than ever – from bags to containers. We’ll be recycling anything we can and using more old china and porcelain from the brocantes. We’ll walk and cycle more, and share the car with more people. We have a school-run filled with children from three different families, so we know it can work well. We’ll be composting, composting, and composting even more for bigger

Susan, husband Roddy and their five children live close to the coast in the Charente-Maritime. She shares her experiences on her popular blog at www.OurFrench









8 8

Complete our unique cryptic crossword by Mike Morris, the perfect way to while away a long evening. Once you have found all the answers the theme will be revealed. But don’t worry, if you get stuck, you can have a peek at the answers on page 64…

Clues Across 1. Trades of those working in American pubs with no end in sight? (7) 5. The last before breaking perhaps (but the first here to be reversed elsewhere). (5) 8. Tell a German to keep his beer? (His turn will come). (5) 9. Keeper is showing scruffy dog before a conservative is cut off? (7) 10. Lied about having nothing to do? (4) 11. Heading south in barren areas, to get what is just perhaps? (Coming back later). (8) 14. Crazy leaders of mental aid department? (Soon to be retired). (3) 16. Spooky sounding lofty home for fliers? (5) 17. Barrier overturned 14? (3) 19. Drew rear badly, but prize

giver coming? (8) 20. Venomous creatures with or without their wicked head on? (4) 23. Wrap yak in packaging in leafy drive? (7) 25. Not the whole sprat being cooked? (Turnover to follow). (5) 26. People person embracing even a pariah? (Backing off later). (5) 27. BS replacement, a way to contact what was a non-active partner? (7)

Clues Down 1. Country sound of bugle I’m playing? (7) 2. Royal affair for two little men? (Turning up here). (5) 3. Taking pressure off jewel peer? (4) 4. Whereas I comply, keeping to what is written? (3) 5. Emphasised set dress code? (Turn-ups involved). (8) 6. Part of wind instrument put a bout first of trumpeters ignoring regulations, so left early? (7) 7. WC conversion, vehicles for growths? (Going backwards elsewhere). (5) 12. Strange lake reported? (5) 13. Drew rear badly once more, this time call up someone to do it again?

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13 15




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(He will turn up). (8) 15. Get hitched up, then fall, possibly on the nose? (7) 18. Old lady, losing a second in core hesitation, is a squanderer? (7) 19. Ward off limits to royal covering eastern games? (Back-flips here

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somewhere). (5) 21. Holy man taking the blame for scourge? (In final twist). (5) 22. Primate holds service in part of church? (4) 24. Lad turning out to be a hooligan? (3)

Living at

38 | living nikki legon’s cuisine Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, the perfect excuse dinner for a special with Nikki’s tasty recipes…

'I love you'

Nikki Legon's

cuisine Mini Beef Moussaka

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita For the pizza dough 375g 00 flour plus extra for dusting 7g dried instant yeast ½ tsp salt 250ml warm water 1 tbsp olive oil For the pizza sauce 1 tbsp olive oil 1 small onion, chopped finely 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 400g tin chopped tomatoes

70g tomato paste 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp dried oregano 1 large mozzarella in brine, sliced METHOD Into your mixing bowl, sift the flour and mix with the yeast and salt. Combine with the warm water and olive oil, and mix using the dough hook for 12 minutes or until you get a very stretchy dough. Leave covered for 1 hour to rest. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into two. Mould the dough into tight balls and place on a

well-oiled tray. Roll the balls to coat in the oil to stop them sticking together and to give a lovely crust, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for half an hour or so. Preheat the oven to 230°C and heat your pizza stone or large baking tray. On a floured board, roll out the dough into an oblong as thin as you like. Using your hands, shape into a heart. Spread the tomato sauce in a thin layer almost to the edges, place the cheese on top and move onto your hot pizza stone or baking tray. Cook for 8-12 minutes until the topping has melted and the base is crisp.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 39 Tomato and Apple Chutney

Tomato Pasta Heart 175g spaghetti or fettuccine 120g sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed salt and freshly ground black pepper 25g fresh basil leaves 25g freshly grated vegetarian Parmesan

Tomato Pasta Heart

METHOD Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for about 8 minutes, stirring

occasionally, until tender. Drain, reserving 120ml of the cooking liquid. Blend the sun-dried tomatoes in their oil with the garlic and basil until finely chopped, add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten and season to taste. Shape into a heart on hot plates, adding fresh basil leaves to decorate and slices of Parmesan.

Salmon Tartare with Avocado 200g fresh raw salmon 1 small shallot, very finely diced 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice 1 tbsp crème fraîche salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 avocado, peeled, stone removed and finely diced ¼ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely diced 2 quail eggs, cooked and peeled 25g caviar or salmon caviar

Pan-fried Halibut

Pan-fried Halibut 2 halibut steaks (flétan de l’Atlantique) sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp fennel seeds 2 tbsp butter 125ml chicken stock 1 egg yolk ¼ tsp ground cumin 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp Champagne vinegar or Sherry vinegar 2 tbsp thick cream 2 tbsp lemon juice small pack of cherry tomatoes

METHOD Season the fish, top side only, and sprinkle with fennel seeds. In a non-stick frying pan, melt the butter, add the fish, seasoned side down, and cook for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook a further 3 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove and keep warm. Add the chicken stock to the pan and stir to collect any sticky bits, reduce the stock for around 2 minutes. In a bowl add the egg yolk, ground cumin, mustard and vinegar, whisk to combine. Whisk in the cream and add to the heated vegetable stock. Season to taste before cooking for 2 minutes, whisking. Taste for seasoning. Place the fish on hot plates with the tomatoes and pour the sauce around.

METHOD Dice the salmon and add to a bowl with the shallot, lime juice and crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper. Add the avocado and cucumber and stir altogether. Fill a ring mould and decorate with the caviar and the halved quail eggs. Serve within 30 minutes.

Salmon Tartare with Avocado

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40 | living nikki legon’s cuisine Slow Braised Lamb Shanks

Slow Braised Lamb Shanks 2 lamb shanks weighing around 400g each (jarrets or souris d’agneau) 2 shallots, peeled and sliced 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced 1 small leek, white part only sliced 1 celery stick, sliced 1 large garlic clove, crushed 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary ½ tsp tomato purée 1 litre hot chicken stock salt and pepper

Mexican Quinoa Warm Salad

METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat some oil in a frying pan and sear the lamb well over a high heat until golden brown all over, transfer to a deep casserole. In the same oil, fry all the vegetables and garlic with the sprigs of rosemary over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the tomato purée, stir well and cook for a further 3 minutes, pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Ladle the liquid and vegetables into the casserole and cover with a cartouche (a cartouche is greaseproof paper cut to form a lid) which is more effective than a solid lid. Braise in the oven for two hours, the meat is done when you see it starting to come away from the bone. Remove the rosemary and meat. If you would like a thicker sauce, add a sprinkling of flour and gently cook, stirring. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.

Mexican Quinoa Warm Salad 160g quinoa cooked according to instructions on the packet ½ red onion, very finely chopped ½ red pepper, finely diced 1 large tomato, deseeded and finely diced 200g sweetcorn kernels 200g black beans 1 avocado, peeled and diced finely 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 tsp chilli powder juice of 1 lime salt and pepper METHOD Add a little oil to a pan and gently fry the onions for 1 minute. Add the peppers, tomato, sweetcorn, black beans and avocado, chilli powder and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes to warm through then toss into the quinoa. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Berry Pancakes

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 41

Fresh Berry Pancakes 135g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 2 tbsp caster sugar 130ml milk 1 large egg lightly beaten 2 tbsp melted butter To serve red fruits, maple syrup or chocolate sauce METHOD Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl or jug. Lightly whisk together the milk and eggs, then whisk in the melted butter. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth batter. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add a knob of butter and swirl it around to coat the base of the pan. Add a ladle of batter in a heart shape, cook until it begins to bubble, turn it over and cook until golden brown and the pancake should rise to about 1cm thick. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with red fruits, maple syrup, or chocolate sauce.

Heavenly Chocolate Cake 225g self-raising flour 25g cocoa powder pinch of fine salt 250g softened unsalted butter 250g caster sugar 4 large eggs, beaten

Heavenly Chocolate Cake For the buttercream 200g icing sugar 4 tbsp cocoa powder 100g unsalted softened butter For the topping 100ml thick cream 2 tsp caster sugar 50g dark chocolate chopped finely 1½ tbsp boiling water strawberries to decorate METHOD Heat the oven to 170°C. Brush two heart-shaped baking tins with softened butter and line the bottom and sides with baking parchment. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, place the butter and sugar into the bowl and beat until light and fluffy with the paddle attachment - this should take 10 minutes on high speed. Turn the speed down to low, then add the beaten eggs a little at a time. Remove the bowl. Use a spatula with a figure of eight movement, fold in the flour and cocoa mixture, one third at a time until evenly incorporated. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and smooth the tops. Place into the centre of the oven and cook for

25 minutes and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and removing the parchment paper. For the buttercream icing, sift the icing sugar and 2 tbsp of cocoa powder into a bowl. Beat in the soft butter to make a smooth and fluffy buttercream with which to sandwich the two cakes together. For the topping, heat the cream to just boiling. Remove from the heat, tip in the chocolate, then stir in the boiling water. Leave to cool and thicken slightly. Pour the icing all over the cake and spread evenly on the top and sides. Leave to set. Decorate with strawberries and serve.

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:

À L’ABRI DES PINS Restaurant en Charente

Large selection of home fabrics, made-to-measure curtains, bedlinen, wallpaper & paint. Friendly English-speaking staff in a cosy atmosphere! Tues to Fri 9h-12h30 & 14h-18h30 Sat 9h-12h30 &14h-18h comptoirdecodangely

14, rue de l’hôtel de ville, 17400 Saint-Jean d’Angély Beside the market square. Phone: 09-83-72-34-90

Philippe & Yveline offer traditional French cuisine using fresh local ingredients

Fixed menu from Weekdays 15€ Weekends 22€/27€ (2/3 courses) Open lunchtimes Tues -Sun

T: 05 45 35 81 27 06 31 64 85 14 Valentine’s Day & Easter Specials Repas gastronomique

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 | | 05 45 36 26 26

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42 | living wine


Surprising parallels

ack in December I was in Biarritz on an intensive 4-week course to qualify as a yoga teacher, which got me thinking about how wine and yoga might complement each other. How we can use ideas from one to help us think about the other? For example balance, flexibility and strength are fundamental to yoga, and we can think about these same aspects in a wine. Yoga goes beyond movement to meditation and mindfulness. Wine tasting, rather than wine drinking, is a kind of mindfulness. When we wine-taste we consider look, smell and taste. For the tasting part we assess five key components: The level of residual sugar: the sweetness, if there is any, on your tongue. A wine can be dry (like a Muscadet) to full sweet (a dessert wine like a Sauternes or a Saussignac). The acidity: sense the acidity in the sides of your cheeks – if there is high

• •

Wine and yoga have more in common than we might think says Caro Feely

acidity your mouth will water, like it does with lemon juice. The alcohol: you can sense high alcohol content as a burning sensation at the back of the throat, and alcohol generally by the weight in the mouth. High alcohol can also offer a hint of sweetness. The tannin: an astringency or drying sensation on your gums and tongue. Think of what a strong cup of tea does to yours. The flavours: what we think are flavours are actually aromas, so consider the main aroma families: fruity, spicy, vegetal or animal. When we think about the quality of a wine we take into account these elements, its overall character, its length

• •

(how long the flavour stays in your mouth), its balance and its complexity. This idea of balance is the wine’s equilibrium. Some wines are light and fun while others are deep and complex. Does the wine have balance between its key components or does one stand out above the rest – for example, high alcohol which overpowers its tannin and acidity? Balance is key to quality as is the idea of ‘somewhereness’. Does the wine tell you about where it originates? Does it generate an emotional response and a lasting memory? French wine tasters often use the term ‘souple’ which translates as soft, supple, flexible and is often used for tannins, meaning they are well integrated and smooth. In English wine-speak we rarely use this term but it is useful. We could also consider a wine in terms of its flexibility of use, is it a dessert wine that can only be used in quite specific situations – or a medium-dry white wine that can adapt to aperitifs or to many different types of food?

living wine | 43 Château Feely (www.chateaufeely. com) is a biodynamic and organic wine estate with accommodation, wine tours, vineyard walks and a accredited Wine Spirit Education Trust wine school. Stretch your wine world and do the WSET Level 2 with Caro 26-28 March 2020 - book before end Feb). Contact Caro for more details caro@, or via Facebook. You can also read the Feelys’ adventures in Caro’s book series.

Then there’s the strength of the wine: for me this term is about more than the alcohol level. A high alcohol wine can be weak in character and a low alcohol wine can be strong in character. We often talk about ‘strength’ only in terms of alcohol but when we think in wider terms the idea of strength can take on a whole new dimension, like feminine power compared to raw brawn. I’ll finish this edition’s rather

philosophical column by coming back to mindfulness and wine tasting. When we taste wine rather than knocking it back, we take the time to appreciate the wine, to give it our attention, to be thankful for the vines, the earth, water, air and sun, and the winegrowers’ energy and creativity that produced it. This for me is a key part of what makes wine so different from a cocktail or a generic spirit. Yoga and wine tasting

are both also about relaxation, each offering ways to enjoy life more and to appreciate it more deeply. “Santé!” Here’s to balance, flexibility and strength in all your endeavours.

Immobilière du Haut Limousin 41 avenue de la Gare - 87210 LE DORAT Tel. : 06 43 84 34 17





55 000€ FAI - LE DORAT Ideal 1st purchase. 1970s bungalow near services. Large living space, garage, pretty garden.

82 500€ FAI - LE DORAT 1-bed house with kitchen & lounge. Possibility to make 2nd bedroom. Garage and attic with floor. Garden.

299 900€ FAI - COUZEIX New 4-bed bungalow. Large open living space, quality finishings. Master suite. Double garage.

77 000€ FAI - pEyRAT DE BELLAC Near station and shops. Raised 2-bed house on garage and basement. Office, large garden on plot 6000m2.

80 300€ FAI - ST BONNET DE BELLAC 3-bed house with garage set on 4400m2 plot. 2 shower rooms, 2 wc, workshop.

64 800€ - LE DORAT Bar/restaurant being sold without licence or materials due to retirement. Terrace. Passing trade.

DPE: na 10% fees Ref 814


DPE: en cours 8% fees Ref 907


We can help you buy or sell your French property privately • A professional and cost-effective service • International and social media marketing • No commission upon sale

DPE: A 5.6% fees Ref 882

DPE: E 10% fees Ref 908

Contact us today to find out more +33 (0) 6 71 61 09 26

DPE: en cours 10% fees Ref 901

DPE: A 8% fees Ref 850

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Dordogne €89,900 Ref: 103669 Large 4-bed house to renovate with 1651m² of land. Close to lively Nontron.

Vienne €147,150 Ref: 96539 Beautiful 3-bed stone cottage in great condition, with 2189m² of garden & swimming pool.

Vendée €181,440 Ref: 87937 Renovated 3-bed, 2-bath house on over an acre of land. Close to shops and attractions.

Deux-Sèvres €156,600 Ref: 87052 Beautifully restored 4-bed house with garden and outbuildings in a peaceful, rural setting.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.


8% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE N/A

8% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Vienne €90,000 Ref: 107950 Cute 2-bed stone cottage in a hamlet, with garden and views over the countryside.

Vienne €246,100 Ref: 101809 Lovely farmhouse with many original features, several outbuildings and 7480m² of land.

Vendée €235,400 Ref: 92180 Renovated 4-bed house with separate 2-bed gîte, garden & outbuildings. 20kms to the coast.

Deux-Sèvres €125,350 Ref: 67402 Charming 3-bed cottage with 2500m² garden in a quiet setting, 6km from Moncoutant.

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE N/A

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE N/A

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.







Haute-Vienne €99,000 Ref: 96253 Lovely detached 3-bed bungalow with garage and garden.

Vienne €137,800 Ref: 94436 Renovated property comprising 2 houses, courtyard, outbuildings and garden, in a hamlet.

Vendée €152,600 Ref: 101175 Charming 3-bed bungalow built in 2007 with garden, on the outskirts of a medieval village.

Deux-Sèvres €109,000 Ref: 107874 Pretty 2-bed cottage with courtyard and garden. In a private location, but close to shops.

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE F

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.


9% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE N/A



Charente-Maritime €71,500 Ref: 99016 Semi-detached 1-bed house with basement, garden, garage and second parcel of land.

Vienne €136,250 Ref: 107794 Detached 2-bed house with outbuildings, enclosed garden and above-ground pool.

Vendée €288,900 Ref: 105423 Large 4-bed farmhouse with original features, barn & garden, in a small hamlet close to the shops.

Deux-Sèvres €199,000 Ref: 91970 Magnificent barn conversion! Large 4-bed house with 1-bed gîte and 960m² of land.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE N/A

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.




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Charente-Maritime €149,000 Ref: 99988 Character 2-bed house with private garden, heated pool and barns, in a peaceful village.

Charente €104,500 Ref: 107613 Attractive 3 bedroom house on the village square with lovely garden and small outbuilding.

Dordogne €283,550 Ref: 100404 Character property comprising of 2 adjoining houses with 6 beds, garden and river views.

Haute-Vienne €141,000 Ref: 79423 Spacious 4-bed house near the medieval town of Le Dorat. With 916m² garden and garage.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

8% agency fees included paid by the buyer.






Charente-Maritime €119,900 Ref: 102265 Superb 2-bed house with 1490m² garden in a private and quiet setting in the village center.

Charente €139,000 Ref: 102207 Charming, fully renovated house with pretty garden. Close to several towns with shops.

Dordogne €152,600 Ref: 105276 Large 11-bed house with garden, previously used as a hotel/restaurant, in Les Eyzies.

Haute-Vienne €245,000 Ref: 51301 Stunning 17th century manor house of 3 beds with barns and 6 acres of land and woodland.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE N/A

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer.






Charente-Maritime €312,700 Ref: 105614 Delightful 6-bed, fully renovated house with heated pool and garden, in an attractive village.

Charente €349,800 Ref: 105203 Elegant 4-bed house with guest apartment and its own theater. In the center of a village.

Dordogne €139,520 Ref: 62779 Delightful 4-bed house with garage and mature garden, within walking distance to a market town.

Haute-Vienne €150,000 Ref: 107151 Character 5-bed house with outbuildings and large enclosed garden. In a small hamlet.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.

6% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.






L i ving


VilleboisLavalette (16)

Changing Places

We visit an unassuming market town with signs of a turbulent past

The Château de VilleboisLavalette looks as a medieval stronghold should, with pale stone towers and ramparts encircling a limestone plateau rising from the gently undulating plains of southern Charente. ’La butte de Villebois’ and the village huddled at its feet are located close to the modern day border with Dordogne and take their name from the Villa Bovis, constructed beside an ancient Roman road between Périgueux and Saintes (the ‘Lavalette’ suffix was added by decree of Napoléon III in 1861). Today Villebois is firmly on the tourist map, the main attractions being panoramic views from the Château and the atmospheric heart of the village, where life revolves around a magnificent timber market hall constructed in 1665 on a site which its predecessor had occupied since the 12th century. Not surprisingly, like the nearby chateau, it’s now a listed Monument Historique, but still fulfils its intended role, hosting morning markets on Saturdays (the main event) and Wednesdays, while in summer it also provides an unforgettable setting for restaurant diners. To better

and often flavoured with aniseed. Their distinctive central hole is said to have enabled them to be carried by visiting pilgrims bound for Santiago de Compostela, Villebois being a halt on a local variant of the Via Turonensis (see page 16). Finally, just a couple of kilometres to the north of the village lies the Château de La Mercerie, whose painstaking restoration by teams of volunteers is bringing this astonishing creation back to life. Find out more about the village and its history:

appreciate the scale of this medieval survivor, simply climb the stone steps to the nearby Eglise Saint-Romain, which gained its own Monument Historique listing in 2012. From here it’s just a few steps up to the Château, whose site was first fortified at least twelve centuries ago. Most of the construction survives from the 12th and 13th centuries, although the donjon was destroyed during the Wars of Religion and replaced by the present logis around 1665. The village Office de Tourisme has details of opening times, including regular guided tours in English. There are more historic features around the market square, in the form of two former convents: the Couvent des Ursulines dating from 1665 and the Couvent des Augustins founded in 1490. The latter was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1783, but a doorway and pigeonnier have recently been lovingly restored. The historic village is the proud possessor of the ‘Petite Cité de Caractère’ label, sits within the cognac AOC ‘Fines Bois’ growth area and has its very own regional speciality, in the form of ‘la Cornuelle’, small triangular gateaux

Making connections Distances/drive-times by road from Villebois-Lavalette: Angoulême: 24km/30min Barbezieux: 42km/45min Périgueux: 55km/1hr 12min Saintes: 88km/1hr 40min Bordeaux: 126km/1hr 43min TER & TGV rail services: TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine services from Gare SNCF de Montmoreau (13.6km) to Limoges, Angoulême, Montluçon, Paris, etc. TGV services from Angoulême to Paris, Bordeaux, Poitiers, Bayonne, etc.

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Property Sovimo immobiLier Ref. 34094


194 400€ HAI

(180 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Brillac (16), in a green landscape, detached village house on approx 1ha, 4 bedrooms, oil heating, outbuilding, well with moto pump, small pond, adjoining wooded land.

Ref. 34103

118 800€ HAI


(8 800€ plus 10% fees payable by buyer)

Lessac (16), close to Confolens. 1970 detached cottage, all comforts, 2 bedrooms, garage/boiler room, oil heating, mains drains, detached building, well with motor pump, adjoining land with pond, all set on 7582m2.

Ref. 34015


35 200€ HAI

(32 000 plus 10% fees payable by buyer)

Brillac (16), in an hamlet: Semi-detached cottage, 2 bedrooms, oil heating, attached barn, well with motor pump, attached courtyard.

Ref. 34097

Character Properties in France


352 980€ HAI

(333 000€ plus 6% agency fees payable buyer)

La Peruse (16), in village. Authentic 19C Charentaise with gite, 6 beds, attic to convert. Heating, mains drains, terrace, detached barn, pool, terrace, adjoining land, set on 5577m2.

Ref. 33895


140 400€ HAI

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L’Isle Jourdain, Vienne, €93,000* 3-bedroom detached, lovely view, nicely decorated, new electrics, mains drains, attached garden all around the house, garage.

Ref. 34087


29 000€ HAI

(26 000€ plus 11.5% fees payable by buyer)

Confolens (16), ideal rental property. Renovated terraced town house, 1 bedroom, electrical heating, mains drains, cellar, no garden.

3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens Tel: 05 45 85 45 65

i lus


Vareilles, Creuse, €124,900* 3-bedroom renovated stone house with garage, double-glazing and stunning countryside views. Spacious rooms, calm location, pool.


(130 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Availles Limouzine (86), rare with river view. Contemporary wooden house with basement. 2 bedrooms, mezzanine, attic, air/air heat pump, detached wood garage with lean-to, mains drains, adjoining land, set on 1814m2.

E xc


DPE: vierge

vE usi xc l

E xc

Bonneuil, Indre, €295,000* With 6 acres, this old watermill has a doubleheight reception room, a covered terrace with river views, 3 large bedrooms and a river frontage. DPE: vierge


E siv

Mouhet, Indre, €170,000* 10 year-old detached 4-bedroom (one ensuite) on a cul-de-sac, edge of village. modern kitchen, underfloor heating, double-glazed, garage, nice garden. DPE: C Tel: 05 65 70 10 49 Email: 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 Agence Eleonor Estate Agency 36-38 rue du Temple, 24500 EYMET T: 05 53 27 83 45 Eymet, Villeréal, St.-Cyprien, Monpazier, Bergerac, Lalinde, Lauzun, Issigeac and Sainte -Foy-la-Grande

Ref: 7112-VI 299,600€ HAI DPE: C Within walking distance of Beaumont du Périgord, 2-bedroom house with large open plan living area with kitchen. Separate 2-bedroom guest house. 12 x 6m heated pool and nearly two acres of garden with views. Taux d’honoraires 19,600€ (7%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

Ref: 8348-MO 588,000€ HAI DPE: Vierge Renovated stone water mill comprising kitchen/dining room, large covered terrace, living room, ensuite bedroom with bathroom and dressing & 3 further bedrooms. Separate 1-bedroom apartment. Outbuildings, 5 x 10m salt swimming pool and 4 acres of meadow. Taux d’honoraires 28,000€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

Ref: 8344-EY 788,500€ HAI DPE: C A beautiful chartreuse style country estate with magnificent views currently divided into three individual houses. Separate cottage, studio flat requiring finishing and an apartment to be completed. Outbuildings tennis court, 12 x 6m salt swimming pool, sauna, and 8.4 hectares. Taux d’honoraires 38,000€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

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Platinum Plus Private Sale


4km north of Rochechouart area in small, quiet village. Ground floor: large living/dining room with small kitchen plus cellar. 1st floor: bedroom with terrace and shower room, wc. Surface: 74m2. In front of house, a barn of 159m2 can be used as a garage. Field of 894m2 located 100m from house. DTI completed in 2016. E: Tel: 06 31 46 19 27

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Property Reseau ArthurImmo Saintonge - 300 properties for sale

Ref 4346 38 990€ HAI

Spacious 3-bed house in a village with a bar/ restaurant, mains drainage, 2kms to Sauzé Vaussais. Small area to the front + independent garden Agency fees incl paid by buyer. DPE: vierge

247 925€ HAI

Ref 4310 71 995€ HAI

Ref: A1114

Nr Lezay, character house to modernise, 3 bedrooms, convertible attic, all roofs re-done, mains drainage available, super outbuilding + pretty enc. garden Agency fees incl paid by buyer. DPE: vierge

Beautiful stone house in the center of town, immaculate, modern interior. Enclosed garden to rear with swimming pool. 4 bedrooms. DFE: n/a Price net: 235 000€

Contact Christine: or 06 50 51 74 95

Ref 4246 129 600€ HAI

Charming detached stone cottage with original features, 2 beds + 1 bed studio, outbuildings, natural pool, large gardens in a calm hamlet nr Lezay Agency fees incl paid by buyer. DPE: vierge

Ref 4178 169 999€ HAI

Traditional stone property with picturesque views, spacious fitted kitchen, character lounge, veranda, 4 beds, 2 baths, bbq/terrace/gardens. Nr Chef-Boutonne Agency fees incl paid by the buyer. DPE: E

149 100€ HAI

85 320€ HAI

Stone property fully renovated, 2 beds, 2 shower rooms, 2 kitchens, with possibility to extend. Solar panels & modern heating system. Enclosed rear garden. 10 mins from town with all amenities. DFE: E Price net: 140 000€

Two properties in the heart of town with all commerce, both need total renovation, can be joined together to create one large house or second for rental. DFE: n/a Price net: 79 000€

Ref: A1089

Ref 4199 342 875€ HAI

Exceptional WOW factor property, 330m2 of incredible living space, could be divided into 2 for rental, heated 11x5m pool + beautiful lawned gardens Agency fees incl paid by buyer. DPE: B

Ref 4275 376 635€ HAI

Complex of 4 stunning properties, renovated to a very high standard, swimming pool, covered terrace, 9150m2 land, in a tranquil setting nr Nanteuil-en-Vallée Agency fees incl paid by the buyer. DPE: vierge

79, Grande Rue, 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais Tel: +33 (0)5 49 07 76 88

Ref: A1101

Matha-immo 17 Place Sanson, 17160 Matha: 05 46 58 53 57 L’immobilière Saintongeaise 11 Rue de Gambetta, 17400 St Jean d’Angély: 05 46 59 06 00 Le Petit Logis 8 Place A. Briand, 17470 Aulnay de Saintonge: 05 46 58 64 14

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

E x c l u s i v e

€262,200 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6481: Between St Jean d’Angély and Surgères. Charentaise longère with spacious rooms. Office /bed on ground floor with 6 more upstairs. Covered parking area, balcony. Large barn. DPE Vierge

E x c l u s i v e

€297,500 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 5342: Surgères. Pretty Charentaise house with spacious rooms. 6 bedrooms with one on ground floor. Neat garden with pool and outbuildings. DPE D

NEW! We can now translate all legal documents into English for our clients

E x c l u s i v e

€477,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6487: 8km from Surgères. Beautifully renovated 3-bed house used as Chambre d’Hôtes plus 2-bed living quarters and 2 gîtes. All with 3* Gites de France classification. Excellent income. DPE Vierge

€614,800 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6332: St Jean d’Angély. Superb contemporary residence with countryside views. 5 bed + 1 master suite. Private cinema & dance studio. Pool, 3 garages. Set on 13,690m2 which is constructable. DPE B

50 | outdoor living

Areas in red are potential flood zones

Low-lying TonnayCharente (17)

Sea changes With coastal erosion now a major issue and sea levels set to continue rising, we consider the likely implications for newly identified areas at risk Communities around the Loire are well aware of flood risks

outdoorS living | 51

Agricultural land is also at risk


ne of the defining features of the landscapes throughout our region is the pale limestone which underpins much of the topography. Here and there erosion by major water courses has produced impressive results, including deep gorges above ground, and cathedral-like caverns beneath it. Better known sites have become spectacular visitor attractions, but elsewhere we’re never far from something much less obvious, yet which in its own way is just as remarkable. The land which we farm intensively might look like a solid, dependable resource, but appearances can be deceptive – and in this case, skin-deep. As any gardener soon discovers, a

simple act like digging a hole can be challenging, due to the number of stones which we encounter in the soil beneath our feet. Our farmers, of course, already know exactly where stones come to the surface during ploughing and are therefore acutely aware of the need to care for the thin layer of soil (often just a metre or so) on which their livelihoods depend. For the rest of us that can be an unnerving realisation, and there are more to come. In geological terms, limestone is ‘sedimentary’ or ‘detrital’ in origin, meaning that it was formed by the settlement of particles of waterborne sediment (both mineral and animal), which tells us that the vast areas in whose geology it features today were once covered not by soil

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but by seawater. For evidence of this look no further than the long extinct ammonites and other marine creatures whose fossilised forms are frequently found in our local limestone. Millions of years were required for the sediments of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods to be transformed into stone, in the context of which the sea’s subsequent retreat looks like a much more recent event. Around 6,500 years ago the coastline of what have now become the Vendée and Charente-Maritime would have looked very different. Much of what is now dry land would have been on the seabed of the Atlantic, leaving higher spots like Charron, Marans, La Tranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Michelen-l’Herm and Taugon exposed as

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52 | outdoor living

Flooding poses a threat to communications

small islands. Things began to change dramatically when sea levels dropped during the formation of the Polar ice caps, and silt deposits from major waterways like the Charente, Boutonne, Sèvre-Niortaise and Vendée began to accumulate in the Gulf of Poitou. Later human activity would bring about further changes, as the coastal marshlands were drained to stabilise things, improve communications and create the fertile agricultural land of the Marais-Poitevin. It can be hard to comprehend the sheer scale of these transformations until we visit somewhere like the former port of Brouage (17), whose sheltered location meant that it was once considered ‘the finest haven in France’. Everything changed, however, when the 8,000 or so hectares of salt marshes which were exploited to make this Europe’s most important exporter of salt expanded and

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PHOTOS: © wikipedia: top left: freeminder; top middle: Julien prineau; TOP RIGHT: Serge Lacotte

Cyclone Xynthia left its mark on les Sables d’Olonne (85)

outdoor living | 53

The river in flood at TonnayCharente (17)

Fouras (17) after the passage of Cyclone Xynthia

Andy Coope

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“This century global sea levels are projected to rise by perhaps 2m or more..” accelerating at many locations, and now there’s alarming new evidence to suggest that the areas at serious risk of inundation are more widespread than previously thought. A report and scientific paper recently released by Climate Central (an independent organisation of leading scientists and journalists) presents a detailed analysis of newly updated and improved data to create a global overview of our changing climate and its impact on the populations of areas likely to be hit by rising sea levels. Over the course of this


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deprived Brouage of its vital access to the sea. Now it sits landlocked over 2km from the coast. We can see similar signs of profound changes further north at Maillezais (85), whose abbey complex was constructed during the late 10th century on what was then an island rising to around 18 metres above sea level. Today you can still see the old seaward fortifications added at the dawn of the 17th century, although the Atlantic has long since retreated, largely thanks to the land drainage efforts of the monks from the abbey. Travelling around the coastal hinterland today it’s tempting to assume that the present appearance of our landscapes is here to stay, but sadly the outlook for future generations doesn’t seem quite so reassuring. Coastal erosion is nothing new, but in recent years the process has been

century, global sea levels are projected to rise by perhaps 2m or more, the key variables being (a) how much pollution we continue to pump into the atmosphere and (b) the rate at which the land-based ice sheets of Greenland (and especially Antarctica) are melting. Why the sudden increased level of concern now? Well, it turns out that NASA’s global land-mass data, as measured from space, was flawed, since it somehow failed to take into account the presence of man-made structures like tall buildings or natural features like the tops of forests, etc. When Climate Central’s own methodology corrected NASA’s inaccuracies the results were alarming, often revealing elevations above sea level to be around 2-4m lower than previously thought. If societies do nothing to address the man-made factors responsible

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Living at

54 | outdoor living The Marais Poitevin faces an uncertain future

This former mill at Verteuilsur-Charente (16) is idyllic – but for how long?

for climate change, what might the future hold for our small corner of the planet? Not surprisingly, our own Atlantic coast looks destined to feel the effects more keenly than most other areas of France. According to the map produced by Climate Central, by 2030 the Atlantic will have reclaimed the Marais Poitevin as far inland as Niort, which will thus have become a coastal town. Also facing inundation are large areas of the Île de Ré, Île d’Oléron and, further north, the Île de Noirmoutier, while Brouage might become a port once again. The picture is similarly bleak for the northern Vendée and particularly so further south on either side of the Gironde, the eastern bank being at risk between Meschers and Blaye. The bay of Arcachon also has its own at-risk areas, while inland

there are concerns for the banks of the Dordogne between Branne and Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. Looking further ahead, by 2050 1 million inhabitants in mainland France will be threatened by the floods, mainly in Loire-Atlantique, Charente-Maritime, Gironde and Hauts-de-France. Yes, it’s a bleak picture, but perhaps not an irreversible one, and the data contained in the new report could be just what is needed to finally spur nations to take action on the kind of global scale which will really make a difference to our collective destiny. Another positive note is that our own efforts as individuals, taking what steps we can in our daily lives to protect the environment, all contribute to the global effort to bring about a positive change.

PHOTO bottom left: © wikipedia - Alain LAURENT

Cyclone Xynthia brought serious flooding to SainteMarie de Ré (17)

The Charente river’s floods recorded inland at Civray (86)

Find out more... The Climate Central website contains an interactive world map of areas projected to be below annual flood levels by 2050, and you can zoom in on France to see our own at-risk areas. Use the left-hand menu to change the timescale, etc., of the projections: The French Government has a website presenting a wealth of geographical data – the search facility is fast and intelligent, enabling you to find, for example, details of ‘zones inondables’:

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elcome to our new look Business Directory, packed full of the best English-speaking services suppliers across the region. Whatever you need, our advertisers can help you and, in return, just tell them you saw their advert here and you will help to keep Living Magazine FREE. If you have a business in the region and would like to showcase your services to our 100,000 readers, we can help. With over 1,000 stockists, Living is the leading English-language magazine covering your area. Advertising starts from 35€ per month on our monthly payment scheme. “We have placed several adverts with Living Magazine and each time our expectations are exceeded...As soon as the advert is placed the orders start coming in.” SHELLY, eco-tabs

Vendée (85)

DeuxSèvres (79)

CharenteMaritime (17)

Haute-Vienne (87)


Ring JON on 05 49 87 29 71 or email Pay monthly by debit/credit card.

- INVESTMENTS - what is available, what rate, etc. - LIFE INSURANCE - how to protect your loved ones - FUNERAL COVER - preparing for the inevitable, unfortunately! - 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.

Contact Isabelle directly Mobile: 06 17 30 39 11

Charente (16)

Dordogne (24)

Insurance and asset management advice in English Hello, my name is Isabelle Want. For the past 9 years, I have been working for Allianz as an asset manager. Being married to an Englishman and having lived in the UK for 8 years gives me a better insight into what British people are experiencing and what they need. Being French and born in the Charente has enabled me to offer some answers. I am, as always, available for any free advice on the following subjects: - INHERITANCE LAW - who inherits, how much are death duties, what solutions exist - TAXES - everybody’s fear! Annual tax forms in May, etc.

Vienne (86)


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

10 bld du 8 mai 1945 16110 La Rochefoucauld tel : 05 45 63 54 31 102 ave de la République 16260 Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure tel : 05 45 39 51 47 N° ORIAS : 07020908

These local businesses are waiting for your call!


Holiday Rentals Charente Assistance have provided gîte changeovers since their conception but January 2020 will see the arrival of Jenette Graham who will take control of the rentals side of the business, taking it to the next level. Jenette will be expanding the changeover business for Charente Assistance and increasing the number of changeover teams and properties. Changeovers are usually the domain of husband and wife teams but this can be unreliable if personal issues pull them away. Charente Assistance will have numerous teams, meaning there is always a team available for every property. If you rent your property or are thinking about doing this, contact Charente Assistance or visit their website now. Garden Work – Pool Care - Property Management & Maintenance - Gîte Changeovers - -

Home-grown Limousin beef, hung for 14 days, and pork, butchered on site so all cuts available. English-style sausages, bacon and gammon. Free-range poultry. Farm shop and seasonal markets see website for details. Farm fresh handmade pies, cooked goods, regional & seasonal produce. Regular Pop-Up Shop and Pie Nights Mobile Event Catering Handmade Bespoke Cakes by Sue

Regular temperature controlled deliveries from the UK of frozen, chilled and grocery Iceland products Domaine de la Goujonne 17270, MONTGUYON

05 46 48 32 44

Well-being, Paints, Cleaning


10 route de Vilenne, 36200 Celon 02 54 25 34 73 / 06 84 61 52 39


Tues 19.30-20.45 / Weds 10.15-11.30

 Authorised suppliers of Crown Trade and Sandtex Trade paint based in Charente-Maritime (17)

RESTORATIVE YOGA Thurs 10.30-11.45

 Colour matching service available  Free Technical advice and support

Thurs 13.30-14.45

Regular Sunday yoga brunches

ContaCt LuCy thompson for bookings: 05 49 87 36 26 Facebook: French Yoga Garden

 Tester pots available The paint the professionals use

Brico17paintsupplies 09 61 62 46 15 Orias: 07007057

Insurance, Help & Advice

English Speaking Ask for Corinne

Motor, House and Contents, Health, Business, Life Insurance and Savings

AGENCES PHILIPPE BOURDIN 3 Place d’Armes, 16700 RUFFEC Tel: 05 45 31 01 51 or Commercial site at SuperU, 79190 SAUZE VAUSSAIS Tel: 05 49 07 61 10 E: No ORIAS: 07009808

Free, no obligation quotes. Ask for Samantha, our English member of staff, with over 25 years’ experience in insurance.

RENAISSANCE - hair, beauty, nails 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 ~

26 rue du Commerce, 86400 CIVRAY Renaissance - hair, beauty, nails Tel: 05 49 87 16 33

ARC EN CIEL Nettoyage Professionnel



Visit Alison, Stephanie, Laura & Julie at... Siret: 509 861 902 00013

Food, Wellbeing


For all your insurance needs in France

Special discount for new owners - 50% off the first 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. Offices at Champdeniers and St Pardoux (79). Come and visit us.

Agence Michallon Tel: PROFESSIONAL CLEANING & HYGIENE SERVICES Key holding / conciergerie. Cleaning of commercial and domestic premises and window cleaning. Rugs, carpet & upholstery steam shampoo extraction. Hard floors / surfaces treatment: marble, granite, terracotta etc & wood floor parquet. Swimming pool & garden maintenance. Office: 05 53 07 52 71 (9 to 18.00) Mobile: 06 31 31 06 76 / 06 70 39 83 96

05 45 36 19 09

Siret: 813 442 860 00017

INDEPENDENT BROKERS We find the best insurer for your needs at competitive rates

MOTOR, HOUSE, MEDICAL, TRAVEL, BUSINESS For information and quotes contact Penny G.S.A.R. 05 53 40 15 71

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

FRENCH COMMUNICATION SERVICES Comprehensive admin & translation support services for your home, business, health, education, residence, legal & taxation needs... to make life easier.

Call Jenny on 06 79 85 58 84 FB: frenchwordsmith Available across 86, 87, 19, 36 & 37 SIRET 504 587 924 00011 MMA Professional liability insurance


Gardening in Spring The team at Charente Assistance pride themselves on being able to provide the most comprehensive range of services for home owners in the Charente and Charente Maritime. From property maintenance to gardening and pool care they have every aspect of property management covered. The early part of this winter has been wet and mild resulting in continued growth throughout the garden. A spring tidy or clear out can be hard work! Why not let Charente Assistance take the strain and do all the hard work required. February through to May is a particularly busy period for all good gardeners so contact them early to avoid missing out on their services. Garden Work – Pool Care - Property Management & Maintenance - Gîte Changeovers - -


The Fixer

Long established service at reasonable rates Depts 16 & 17

Experience you need....Results you want

Business set-up Personal taxation

Personal Taxation – Carte Vitale – Business set ups CPAM – French Administration – Tax regularisation and much much more….

Legal matters Phone calls & meetings Andrew Harrison

Call Rick Denton now on 06 46 25 30 87 or Email:

Tel: 05 46 96 44 11

Based in Poitiers and covering 86, 79, 16, 17 & 24

SIRET 453 520 298 00010

Claude’s Cat Hotel

Regular trips throughout Europe Services tailored to your needs

Same road, new number!

30 rue du commerce, 86400 CIVRAY M: 06 33 11 64 05 T: +44 (0)7855 401 102 T: +44 (0)1656 670 856

Tel: 05 55 89 57 94 Mob: 06 15 28 54 82

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

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

The UK’s Premium Pet Transport Company DEFRA Type 2 licensed, custom built vans

The Spectrum IFA Group with over 20 years’ experience advising expatriates throughout Europe on all aspects of financial planning.


In a rural setting, Claude’s offers guests a calm, safe and caring environment. Heated accommodation with private outside space.

Les Chaillauds 16220 MONTBRON Tel: 05 45 24 01 45

Siret: 822 175 527 0016

Siren No 520 382 805

Administrative Assistance & Solutions Private Individuals & Small Businesses English / Français / Português & Espagnol


For those of you that don't already know us, we are a purpose-built kennels with a large secure paddock area where dogs can run free and play while having their 2 walks per day on or off the lead. Large family kennels are available. You are welcome to call if you have any questions or would like to visit the kennels. Lime Tree Kennels 15 mins from La Rochefoucauld & 20 mins from Rochechouart

UPVC windows, doors & ConserVatories sPeCialists

all sizes, shapes & colours offered supplied & fitted to the highest standard using premium products

10 year warranTy on all products installed

~ Covering south west franCe ~

Tel: 05 46 70 25 87

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Help & advice, Translations


Animal care, Transport



Help & Advice

Expert in French Administration

Fluent French speaker with over 15 years professional ‘hands on’ experience assisting expats in France


Affordable UK Designs

Fitted Kitchens, Upvc & Aluminium Double Glazing

Free plAn, Design & costing throUghoUt soUth West FrAnce - other AreAs by ArrAngement Upvc Windows, Doors & conservatories in all colours. Aluminium and Upvc Bifold doors Made to UK Spec in French styles! Made in the UK Fitted in France

phone: 05 49 42 99 41 Mobile: 06 63 71 09 81 E:

Transport Services

C J Logistics 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

Transport Services

Full or part loads undertaken a box to a full removal Cars, Boats and caravans a speciality Full European coverage Secure storage available in France and UK UK depot available for deliveries Every item is covered by GIT and CMR insurances Full trade references available

Tel: 09 83 70 01 33 Mob: 06 61 25 41 09 E: or


SIRET: 513 577 809 00017


Weekly services to & from SW France Internal moves within France Containerised Storage Range of Packing services available Over 35 Years’ Experience

Full or Part Load Removals To & From France UK: +44 (0) 1237 431 393 FR: +33 (0)5 45 89 49 57 Email: UK Registration 543 77 60 UK

A family business established in 1985 offering a quality, professional service

FRANKLINS REMOVALS Packing services Full/part loads to and from the UK Vehicles transported • Containerised storage Competitive prices • Transit /storage insurance Call Stephen or Ben Franklin on 0044 121 353 7263 or email

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

2 Ladies & a Van 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


© Cormar Carpets

LET JON THE CARPET MAN KEEP YOU WARM THIS WINTER! While those warm sunny days by the pool, during a summer when record high temperatures were set across France and the rest of Europe, become a distant memory, it’s time to consider how to keep warm this winter. Obviously it is important to keep the home well insulated but that’s not always easy in an old French property, mostly constructed during a time when insulating the home was not top of the list of priorities. But in these modern days we are constantly advised to save energy and proper insulation is the best way to keep energy costs down........ A good quality carpet fitted over a decent underlay is a popular and affordable solution to keeping the heat in those colder rooms in the house. In fact a saving of up to 15% of heating costs is possible using a fully fitted carpet over a hard floor. And, of course, the increased comfort and ambiance added to a room with a luxurious wool carpet is another big plus! So give Jon a call and let him show you how to keep warmer this winter!

E: jonthecarpetman

SHOWROOM ADDRESS Les Rivières, 19260 TREIGNAC 09 63 56 23 10 / 06 42 19 82 12

L’Atelier de Fer Fraser W. Eade

General Engineering Turning, Milling, Welding


For all your flooring needs

Quality & Precision Guaranteed Forgeix, 87200 Saint Junien

Siret: 512 945 874 00018

Contact Paul on 06 60 07 54 78 or 05 45 84 27 75

R J Coulson Pool services

Swimming Pool Cleaning & Maintenance

• spring opens • winter close downs • seasonal cleaning and maintenance contracts

t: +33 (0) 549 290135 t: +33 (0) 785 372144 Based near Sauzé-Vaussais (79) siret: 831 373 048 00022

Tel: 06 17 73 56 87 Mob: 07 77 83 77 10 or 0044 7917 03 02 49

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

CENTRE BATIMENT IanBScDickinson (Hons) Swimming Pool ID Planning & Design Specialists Here to help with your projects in 2020 Fully insured

Departments: 16, 17, 24, 79, 86 & 87 T: 06 62 82 48 17

Cotswold Eco Wood-Fired HOT TUBS in France RELAX. REPLENISH. REWIND.

Planning and designs for permis de construire and déclaration préalables for extensions, renovations, conversions and new builds. Siret: 492 277 918 00024

Tel: Mob:

Britain’s leading supplier

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 ** Open Day on 29th Feb (near Limoges) or view by appointment**

For more information, please contact Nicola or Tim: E: T: 00 44 784 575 4049


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Pools, Design

Getting your pool re a d y for the summer!

05 55 71 41 75

Ornate interior / exterior designs Gates constructed / refurbished Industrial furniture General Welding ~ Over 25 year’s experience ~

SIRET 47994761600021

• 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


Flooring, Metalwork


Jeff’s Metalwork



Delivery & in

FROM £99

Furniture for France

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 18 years’ experience & great customer service

Architectural Drawing Service

Chimney Sweep Nick Wright

• Certificates issued for every sweep • Over 10 years’ experience • Covering departments 16, 17, 79 & 86

Renovating your next property? Dreaming of a new build? Let me help you. • Dossiers prepared • Permis de construire • Déclaration préalables

Registered with the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat

Siret: 49377035800015

Siret 81968203000013

05 53 52 36 05

Contact Nick on email: or T. 05 45 71 33 36 Peter Latus BA(Hons)

Siret: 827 978 636 00013


Siret 482 718 640 00022

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

BECK CHERRY PICKER HIRE 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 Tel: 07 84 12 44 97



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

SHUTTERS AND EXTERIOR PAINTING Wooden shutters made, restored and spray painted, metal shutters sandblasted Exterior/Interior walls airless spray-painted Over 30 years’ experience

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01



All depts in Nouvelle Aquitaine covered

website: email:

Metalwork, Fencing, Artisans

Building services, Artisans

Design, Chimney sweeps, Artisans


Tel: 06 46 49 73 45 Email:

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

Tel 05 45 21 72 01 Mobile 07 80 00 51 65



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

whether your property is a new build, extension or a renovation, whether it is a cottage, chalet or château – the flexibility of our systems means there is a solution for all. We offer a free devis, with no obligation and no hard sell. Now is the time to consider a renewable heating system. There are reduced rates of TVA available and significant tax credits (credit d’impôts) for systems installed

Tel: 07 67 04 07 53


ESTABLISHED COMPANY, CONSCIENTIOUS & RELIABLE SERVICE For a superior finish in wood, tile, plasterboard and general restoration Specialising in kitchen fitting & creative challenges

05 49 87 09 63 Siret: 48115588500017

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 T: 05 45 95 44 34 or 06 98 29 76 45 E:


IK-ROOFING Renovations / new builds Roof repairs Velux installation Guttering Insurance claims Covering 1h radius around Mareuil 24340

~ Free quotes ~ Decennial insurance

07 82 19 22 37



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

Tel 05 17 30 18 35 Mobile 06 33 85 65 66 Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne Siren: 478 608 185 00011

Siret 487 581 209 00011

• renovations and refurbishments • pointing/rendering • block work • plastering • kitchen and bathroom installation • tiling • roof repairs • patios terraces • painting and decorating

R J Coulson Building services

For You and Your French Home

t: +33 (0) 549 290135 t: +33 (0) 785 372144 Based near Sauzé-Vaussais (79) siret: 831 373 048 00022

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Building services, Artisans

• complete range of building services

Building services, Artisans

Imajica Joinery


by Enershop as we hold the QualiSol and QualiBois accreditation. Our website www.enershop. eu has lots of information on our services which include : • Solar thermal domestic hot water • Wood gasification boilers • Central and underfloor heating • Wood / Pellet boiler stoves systems • Pellet boilers • Swimming pool / hot tub • Accumulation tanks heating • Air source heat pumps




Installation, servicing, repairs - oil, gas, solar, solid fuel Fully qualified, fully registered, 10 year décennale insurance Currently offering FREE supply & installation of bulk propane gas tanks 30% crédit d’impôt

Building services, Artisans

Tel: 05 45 29 68 73 | Mobile: 06 30 11 86 84 | Email:


Plumbing Bathroom & kitchen installations Building maintenance Fully insured with over 15 years’ experience Covering dept. 16 Siret: 830691044

Contact Kai for all jobs Mob: 06 83 17 19 77 E: FB: @Amoshandyman16


SARL the roof, the whole roof and nothing but the roof

Experts at working with slate & clay Over 40 year’s experience For a free estimate call 06 35 11 27 31 Strictly Roofing – Malcolm Cooke

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 T: 07 80 53 54 11 E: Based in 17240

Siret: 848 507 042 00010

South West France Fosse We are the only dedicated installer Trained-Approved-Recommended by SPANC Can you trust your installation to anyone else? With over 30 years’ experience Accredited installers for the leading makes of compact filters and microstations Biorock - Ecoflo - Phytoplus - Elloywater - Hydroclear

Tel: 06 04 14 84 86 See all our work on


Email: These local businesses are waiting for your call!


Les Bons Voisins

property management throughout france


no job too small, no project too large

exceptional service at competitive prices

key holding . caretaking . maintenance . supervision changeovers . cleaning . gardening . mail forwarding

. admin help . translation

friendly people providing professional help to home owners in france

Specialist Carpenter/Joiner

Cabinet Maker & Joiner

Bespoke Joinery & Renovations Doors - Shutters - Stairs Flooring - Kitchens

Furniture Restoration Manufacture of staircases, doors & cupboards

✓ Fully equipped workshop ✓ 40 years’ experience ✓ Lots of solutions for your requirements ✓ References available

16240 La Fôret de Tesse T: 05 45 30 39 85 Covering depts 16, 79 & 86

Siret: 804476 034 00017

T: 05 45 98 07 25 M: 06 23 18 30 95

Conformity Inspections

Tel: 05 49 91 85 54 All departments covered SIret: 480 026 560 00012

Siret: 441 490 992 00027

website: email: Tel: 06 58 86 55 91 Based in 86400 Saint Macoux English spoken

Plumbing - Heating Chimney sweeping

EMERGENCY CALL OUTS 24 hours / 7 days a week

Siret: 831 980 487 00019

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

Domestic Plumbing and Heating

Kitchen & Bathroom installation Tiling Plumbing Repairs

Installation & Repair of Woodburners Gas & Oil Heating All plumbing jobs large & small

Tel: 06 29 90 24 89 E:

Contact Ken Fey 16220 Rouzede Tel: 05 45 23 76 49 M: 06 48 27 85 86 or +44 (0)75 99 17 90 39 E:

Based in dept 79 near Sauzé-Vaussais Fully insured

Siret: 838 623 437 00012

Siret: 804 390 862 000 14

depts 79, 86 & 16

Emptying of grease traps, fosse septiques, filtre compacts & micro stations. Cleaning & maintenance of all types of sewage treatment plants.

David GABARD T: 06 71 83 16 69 / 05 49 87 27 29 E: 2 Verrières, 86400 CHAMPNIERS Covering south 86 & 79, north 16

Leaking roof - 48hr response!

Andy Quick

The Roofing & Renovation Company Established in 2007, registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance E: ~ T: 05 49 27 22 67 Siret: 499 474 302 00035

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Building services, Artisans

Ambroise PRÉE

Full service with certificate (boiler, fuel, wood, gaz) Fully insured with over 10 year’s experience


ADAM BLACKABY Artisan Peintre

Jb Plumbing

Plumbing Electricity Plasterboarding Tiling Satellite dishes and Systems for the reception of UK and French TV Dept. 16,17 No Job too Small

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

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

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

ANDY MS Multi Services

Interior and exterior painting Paper hanging, tiling, flooring & dry lining

Siret: 508 248 747 000 18

05 45 31 14 58 / 06 63 20 24 93

Peter Amor Electrician


Building services, Artisans

Adrian Amos Barry Baldwin

t:+33 (0)5 45 70 20 98

living music | 65



Music is for many of us a passion, but some passions are somehow more intense him in a future issue of LIVING. When it comes to ‘la chanson française’, of course, the boundaries between old and new are blurred, and seem destined to remain that way. What began with Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, George Brassens, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, etc., got a shot in the arm in the 1970s courtesy of François Hardy, Michel Sardou, Claude François, Jacques Dutronc and a host of others. Now you’ll probably find them all lumped together in the ‘variété ’ section of the CD racks, with 80s artists like Mylène Farmer, Francis Cabrel, Alain Souchon and Jean-Jacques Goldman, along with newer names like Jenifer, Nolwenn Leroy, Bénabar, etc. As you’ll see, it’s a huge, wide-ranging genre. Of course, when considering longevity then we can’t overlook the huge contribution made to the world of classical music by French composers long before radio created ‘popular recording

Do you want to improve your French but find you can’t get to lessons? Would you prefer to learn in the privacy of your own home? Try Frantastique, the online course with fun, daily lessons, for FREE for one month and see your French improve. Simply sign up on our website

artists’. While medieval music has a scholarly, historical fascination it’s hardly mainstream, but later figures like Berlioz, Bizet, Fauré, Debussy, Poulenc, Ravel and Satie have real staying power. Their works continue to be performed to large audiences, both in individual concert situations and as part of the programming of annual events throughout France, including our own Festival de Saintes and ‘Un Violin sur le Sable’ in Royan. What’s more, a steady stream of new recordings is still being released and snapped up by lovers of ‘serious music’. Our whistle-stop tour around French attitudes to music has revealed a healthy respect for those who create it, plus real passion for the end results – across all kinds of genres. Whereas elsewhere a musician might hear “Play something we know...”, in France it’s more likely to be simply “We love what you play....” That speaks volumes.

© antoine monegier du sorbier

stroll through a French outdoor market on a sunny day is the kind of sensory experience which reminds us exactly where we are. Lest there be any doubt, though, there’s a good chance that while peering at the fruit, vegetable, cheese and fish stalls we’ll be serenaded by the kind of soundtrack which makes us wonder whether we might have somehow wandered onto a 1950s film set. For that we have to thank the guy playing sample tracks from his comprehensive stock of slightly cheesy-looking CDs recorded by (to us, at least) obscure vocalists, accordion players, Celtic harpists, virtuosi of the Mélodica and more besides. It gets weirder: while our old friend the cassette - or the more slangy ‘K7’ - is currently enjoying something of a cult revival elsewhere, on countless market stalls it never went away. Quirks like these tell us something interesting about French attitudes to music: have a hit or two here and you’re pretty much assured of a lifelong following by your loyal fans. Everyone, it seems, is a fan of someone. It’s an endearing quality, and explains why concert tours by pop artists whose recording careers peaked back in the 1980s can still pack good-sized venues across France. That’s nothing new in the folk world, of course, where now-celebrated personalities like Celtic harpist Alan Stivell have spearheaded a major revival of interest in the music of regional cultures and traditions – so much so, in fact, that we’ll be profiling

Vive la musique!

66 | living Language

Pardon? I

s the French language an endangered species? Are English speakers getting more lax with their punctuation? With the current state of global events, you’d be forgiven for missing two recent news stories about our respective languages: the first being an alarmist piece from several French scientists, linguists and philosophers that French might be une espèce menacée; the second being the rather sad news that the Apostrophe Protection Society has been disbanded. The possessive apostrophe has always been a quintessentially British thing. Of course, the omissive apostrophe exists in French, most obviously in j’ai and aujourd’hui, n’est-ce pas? When you start looking for it in French, it’s everywhere. The most complicated apostrophes in French in my opinion are those with an H. If you can master the apostrophe in the h muet and h aspiré, Chapeau! It is still my final learning curve as to why it’s le hibou and le haricot but l’homme and l’humeur. It’s all very well calling them silent and aspirated letters when French people don’t pronounce either of them. If you want to check out your French friends’ grammar, see if they say ‘lez-ollandais’ or ‘leh ollandais’ when pronouncing les hollandais… it’s a good way to get a discussion going. Of course, it doesn’t matter much unless you mispronounce les héros as ‘lez-éros’ as it’s easily confused with les zéros. Not sure any hero would want to become a zero! It’s still a beggar of a grammatical phenomenon though as it changes so much. Is it ce or cet before the word? Why is it ce hibou and not cet hibou or cet homme rather than ce homme? I confess it’s practically impossible to say ce homme but there simply isn’t a clear and simple

L i ving

A disappearing act with our language expert Emma-Jane Lee

the French protect their language from becoming une espèce menacée. It’s an industry in itself in France, making sure foreign films, surtout les films anglophones were dubbed into French. Translators surely had their work cut out with films and comedies relying heavily on wordplay, but voiceovers in French are a long way from the terrible dubbing of 1970s kung-fu films, even if it is a little strange to get used to at first. Worse still if your favourite characters have very distinctive voices. Ross, Phoebe, Chandler and Joey aren’t quite the same answer as to why. The joys of French! in dubbed French, for sure. Don’t even start to think about that Things are not the same on the other tricky little Breton apostrophe in certain side of the channel. Unlike the Academie first names… the jury is still out on Française and the efforts of the media whether it’s acceptable or not. industry to dub popular programmes Needless to say, an Apostrophe and films into French, the Apostrophe Protection Society is not needed in Protection Society felt that it was France, where language has the Académie having little impact. Abuse, laziness and Française to protect it and several laws ignorance were the reasons given by the to make sure English doesn’t take over. president for dissolving the Society. Even For instance, the famous, if not mythical in France, the greengrocer’s apostrophe loi Toubon means that leaflets, publicity, rears its ugly head from time to time. websites and so on should be in French The popular brand of bread products unless it’s meant for foreign readers. It known as Bun’s always has me saying can be easy if you speak English most “Bun’s what?” every time I pass the frozen days in France, or you work in a business food aisle, as if some idle possession where English is la lingua franca that you belonging to the humble bun had gone might forget contracts and sale signs astray. There’s nothing worse than an should be in French. Large multinaapostrophe left dangling in want of tionals are most likely to contravene a possession. McCain can surely be the laws if they use English as a kind of forgiven for its erring apostrophe, Esperanto, but French businesses and though, given they’re a Canadian brand. governmental departments do as well. Grappling two sets of language rules The recent “made for sharing” slogan for for apostrophes can’t be the easiest. the Paris 2024 Olympic Games raised Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, eyebrows. In fact, some went as far as writing English textbooks, translating, to say it was treasonous. Language still marking exam scripts and teaching makes the headlines in France, even if it languages. She lives near La Rochefoucauld is only a brief byline in an English paper. with her growing menagerie. See Le doublage or dubbing is another way

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

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