Living Magazine - February March 2021

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~ Passionate about life in south west France ~

living editor’s letter | 3


to our February March issue

belated Bonne Année to you all; may 2021 be a happier year than its predecessor for everyone. It’s got off to a troubling start around the world but there is time for it to improve as vaccinations roll out across France and our home countries. We’re certainly looking forward to a summer where we can once more enjoy this fantastic region of France, getting out and about and hopefully meeting friends and family. Travelling abroad may still be restricted, however, so we are privileged to have so much that we can see and do near us. Now that Brexit is ‘done’, we British citizens can begin to move on; life will never be as it was but we have a new ‘normal’ to get used to. This time last year I said I would be hanging up my citizens’ rights hat, but it didn’t quite work out that way since so much still needed doing. But now we are into the final straight - every British national must apply online for a new non-EU residency permit before the end of June, at which point, at France Rights, British in Europe and here at Living Magazine, we have truly done as much as we can. We will, of course, be keeping an eye on how the Withdrawal Agreement is being implemented. There will always be bumps in the road, especially with the added complexity of a pandemic, but it seems that here in France, all the hard work over the past four and a half years has ensured that things are running relatively smoothly for citizens’ rights. Publishing a regional magazine during the different confinements has had its challenges. Not only is a lot less happening but it is far more difficult to get out and about to find new locations to bring to you. Luckily, we enjoy a challenge, and so we are delighted to report that we have another packed issue. Join us as we travel along France’s longest river, meet the artist behind some of the region’s largest artworks and visit a site with a fascinating history. Added to this, we have our regular columnists sharing their expertise and experiences so there is plenty to read within these covers. As always, we ask that if you enjoy our magazine you consider taking out a postal subscription. We do deliver it free across the region but, with so many uncertainties at the moment, a base of subscriptions helps us to plan ahead and, in return, you have your own copy delivered to your door. Amazingly, LIVING Magazine is now in its twelfth year and we hope that with your help, we have many more ahead. Full details of subscriptions can be found on page 5 or on our website. So, all that remains is to curl up somewhere warm, switch your phone to silent and immerse yourself in our features. But before you turn the page, we want to wish you a wonderful 2021 and we look forward to putting the pandemic and Brexit firmly behind us! A bientôt! editor

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4 | living contents

22 16



28 5




Kathryn Dobson explains the latest developments for British citizens here in France

All about ageing wines with wine-grower Caro Feely

Citizens’ Rights




Local news from around the region


Practical Advice

A Salty Tale Roger Moss discovers the remarkable history of the citadel of Brouage


Our experts answer questions on legal and money matters


Between Seasons

Big River Join us as we begin our two-part trip along France’s longest river, the mighty Loire


The first signs of spring help entice the family outdoors after a difficult year


Puzzle Break Our unique crossword by Mike Morris

Art’s a Beach Jessica Knipe meets a local artist who is creating quite an impression along the Atlantic coast...


Nikki Legon’s Cuisine Pick-me-ups for dull winter days

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Handle with Care


Living Property Pages A profile of Ribérac in Dordogne


Super Grass They include the fastest-growing plants on Earth, but chosen wisely, bamboos can still find a place in most gardens


Music: DIY Time? If you have time on your hands perhaps now it the opportunity to learn an instrument


Pardon! Emma-Jane Lee on the joy of French euphamisms


Business Directory The best local services & suppliers waiting for your call!

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News round up

Growing Regions

Frontline Fast-Track

To thank migrant workers on the pandemic frontline, the French Government has invited them to apply for fast-track nationality with minimum residency reduced from 5 years to 2 and reduced processing times. Marlène Schiappa, junior minister for citizenship explained: “Health professionals, cleaning ladies, childcare workers, checkout staff: they all proved their commitment to the nation, and it is now the turn of the République to take a step towards them.” Several thousand have now applied and the offer remains open until 15 September 2021. If you have an application for nationality already lodged, this can be fast tracked once the necessary paperwork has been submitted. See www.immigration.interieur. for details of the roles considered, which include hauliers, food manufacturers and school employees in addition to care providers.

Vaccination Roll Out

coastal areas are showing growth while many inland rural areas are in decline, with Dordogne, Haute-Vienne, Charente and Lotet-Garonne all shrinking over the five-year period. Creuse showed the greatest decline, with its population reducing by 0.6% between 2013 and 2018. The Pays de la Loire also grew during this time, registering 3.8 million residents. Again, the coastal regions showed the strongest growth although the rate of increase in Vendée is slowing. You can study the detail at:

La Rochelle continues to attract new residents


Brittany Ferries’ plans to carry unaccompanied freight trailers from Cherbourg to the Spanish border by rail have been delayed. Originally hoped to open in April 2021, the launch has been put back to 2022. Initially the route is planned to run via SaintJean d’Angély with the possibility of moving onto the PoitiersAngoulême line in 2024 once necessary work has been completed. The ‘intermodal’ 970km route will initially carry 42 trailers each way, 6 days a week, removing those lorries from the region’s roads along with the corresponding pollution.

© wiki; Kabelleger / David Gubler

The vaccination progra mme in France got off to a slow start (th e slowest in the EU) but is expecte d to gather pace, especially as appro val for new vaccines comes through . Frontline staff, vulnerable patients an d over-75s are the first to receive the inject ions which will not be obligatory. For de tails of the vaccination programm e, visit

The results from the 2018 census have been published by INSEE. With almost 6 million inhabitants, Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the fourth largest region and home to 9% of the population. While the underlying population is ageing, with more people dying than being born, the region is also attracting many new residents. Not surprisingly, the Bordeaux area of Gironde shows strong growth (1.2% between 2013 and 2018), followed by the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Charente-Maritime, particularly around La Rochelle. Overall,

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

New for 2021

The New Year always heralds changes, more so this year with Brexit coming into full force. Here are some of the changes ahead: not resident in the *EUUKwillnationals be able to visit the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in 180 days, while longer stays will require a visa. For visits to A&E that do not require in-patient care there will be a new ‘fixed fee’ of 18€ from September – Forfait Patient Urgences (FPU). Top-up mutuelles will cover this cost. Péage tolls increase by 0.44% from 1 February. New bicycles sold by professionals are to be marked with a unique ID number which will be held on a central database to help deter thieves.

Service national universel (universal *national service), the citizenship


programme designed for French nationals aged 15-17, will expand its offer this year but is not due to become obligatory until 2024. UK nationals resident in France before the end of 2020 must apply for a new residency permit before the end of June even if they have an old EU one in their possession. They are free and the application is made online.

* *


Second-hand bicycles will be marked from 1 July. Subsidies for buying electric and hybrid cars will be lowered by a thousand euros from July. A grant for second-hand electric cars of one thousand euros is being introduced.



Calls will be answered by a local counsellor

Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes Cognac Royan


Rouillac Jarnac



ANGOULEME Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne

Pont de Ré

News from around the region...

les charentes

Each summer traffic jams leading to the Ile de Ré bridge cause delay and frustration for visitors and residents alike. For the past 5 years plans have been in place to improve the flow on the bridge with a dedicated lane for public transport and emergency vehicles only. Users would save thirty minutes by not queuing at the toll booths, while fewer cars would cross to the island, as bus services will depart from the Belvédere car park. All that is now needed is the finance, so officials took the opportunity to present the 1.5-million-euro project to Prime Minister Jean Castex on a recent visit. If the project is given the green light under the economic stimulus plans, the new approach lane should be operational in 2022.

Summer vouchers

The recent tourism campaign offering 100€ moneyback on visits to the Charentes was deemed a success, with 84% of vouchers distributed. Two-thirds of those who received money back said they chose to visit Les Charentes because of the vouchers, while a third of recipients were visiting the area for the first time. With the additional media exposure and the increase in traffic to the website and on social media, the team estimate an additional six million euros were injected into the local economy.

Moving Sands Truffles Galore

A regional speciality, fresh truffles are a highlight of local markets over the winter season but this year truffle markets face new challenges. Not only are restaurants not open, who are normally key customers, but the organisation of the markets is challenging in COVID-19 times. Close examination of baskets of truffles is no longer possible but truffle markets are still open, having conformed to all regulations. At Jarnac, instead of individual negotiations, the truffle farmer’s union will buy the truffles from farmers and resell them separated from buyers by Plexiglas, consumers buying on Sunday and professionals on Monday. Saint-Jean-d’Angély have also met the new requirements and will be open barring any further restrictions coming into force.

700km of sandy coastlines around France, over a third of its coast, face erosion each year. This poses challenges to coastal businesses like the P’tit Train running along the beaches on the Ile d’Oléron. At Le Gatseau Plage two powerful sea currents meet, causing the coastline to retreat 700m since 1950 at a rate of 10 to 11m annually and so, each year, the train track and platform need to be moved back to safety. Coastal erosion is a concern along the Atlantic coast; in the Gironde the coastline is retreating at around 2.5 metres per year while individual winter storms have been known to wash away up to twenty metres of beachfront – too great a volume to be returned by the summer waves.

News from around the region...

Stripe sensation Charente Hedges

CaniParc 16

With easy access to the countryside, most of us are spoilt for choice for dog walks, but what about training and socialising with our pooches? Finding enclosed, safe spaces can be a challenge but help is at hand for those within reach of Suaux (16). CaniParc 16 is a half-hectare field enclosed by a 1.5m grill fence with secure double gate entry. Owner Roni Sidwick came up with the idea when training her own rescue dog: “We wanted to socialise off the lead, but it was difficult to find anywhere where he wouldn’t run off. Here at CaniParc 16, the dogs can have fun safely with their owners or you can retreat to our indoor clubhouse or outdoor tables and let them run.” The park is ideal for all dog activities, with a secure play area being built and plenty of space for more formal classes. Prices start at just ten euros for one hour of private hire or you can join in one of the 2-hour play sessions. For more information see Facebook: caniparc16.

© florence perroux

Since 1950, 70% of France’s hedges have disappeared leading to a loss of biodiversity as well as soil erosion. In an effort to reverse this trend, both Charente départements are investing in replanting. So far, Charente has planted 340km of hedges, with 20km planted in 2020. Charente-Maritime has had a programme in place for over 20 years which has planted 600km of hedges with 200,000 euros being invested each year.

There was good news for the conservation team at the Zoo La Palmyre with the birth of a male Grévy Zebra, the largest and most endangered of the three zebra species. Also known as the Imperial Zebra, they live on the plains in Kenya and Ethiopia where the population declined from 15,000 to 3,000 in the 1970s although numbers are now stable. Named after Jules Grévy, the French President when the species was discovered by Emile Oustalet in 1882, they can weigh up to 450kg and have finer stripes than other zebras.

Roni with Nafih who inspired the creation of CaniParc 16

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News from around the region...

Once the home of a caving museum, the troglodytic caves at Fort de Tayac have been closed to the public for more than a decade. Owner Jean-Max Touron recently told France3: “I am a collector of cliffs! I bought it because it was for sale but I had no intention of opening it to visitors…I saved it.” He is well known in Périgord as the owner of a dozen prehistoric sites including RoqueSt-Christophe, the maison forte at Reignac and the Roc de Cazelle. Local historian Marie Calonne persuaded him to change his mind, given the importance of the cave complex. Overlooking the Vézère river and the road from Les Eyzies to Périgueux, the caves have a rich history back to Prehistoric times when they would have been used for shelter. In the Middle Ages travellers had to pay a toll to the fort to pass on the river and the caves played an important role in the Franco-English wars before being transformed into an inn in 1895 by the caver Gabriel Galou. For the moment Fort de Tayac can be visited with Marie Calonne (who speaks English) by reservation until restrictions are lifted, see:



Speeding Up The new speed limits for roads in Dordogne have finally been agreed, with 287km on ten departmental roads returning to 90km/h by the end of April, while the rest remain at 80km/h. In total there are 4,900km of departmental roads so this is only a small proportion of those that had their speeds reduced before the recent u-turn. State services are not happy with this decision, preferring to stay at 80km/h as there have been 42% fewer deaths on Dordogne’s roads since the reduction, but the COVID-19 shutdowns may also have played a significant role in reducing road deaths.

Bumper Season

Despite the confinement, the 650 Gîtes de France in Périgord had a bumper season with turnover increasing by 12% in 2020 over 2019. Many reported 100% occupancy through July and August and the gîtes continued to be busy through September and October. Two-thirds chose to stay open over the New Year to make the most of the opportunity. Many visitors came to enjoy the solitude and stayed close to the gîtes, just walking in the locality, so sadly local attractions did not fare as well.

Château de Castelnaud

News from around the region...

Clay Pigeon Debacle

A battle between Servanches residents and the owner of the Périgord Shooting Club, a clay pigeon range set on 90 hectares in the Double forest, have taken a new twist. The club, which opened in 2016, was closed in 2017 after noise and pollution complaints. In 2018, the owner, businessman Benjamin Tranchant, appealed at Bordeaux and to the disappointment of residents, won his case. To re-open the site Tranchant needs to meet local regulations including providing onsite facilities but, in the meantime, the clubhouse burnt down. To replace it requires authorisation from the Mairie which now has a new team in situ. The scene is set for 2021’s showdown: does the town council risk the wrath of its 85 residents or face further legal action? Tranchant’s lawyers are demanding a fast response so the issue needs to be resolved soon.

Nontron Restoration

Train Subsidies

Like many local stations, the Gare de Châteaul’Évêque near Périgueux has been threatened with closure as passenger numbers have dropped away, people preferring the comfort of their cars. With the population of the town doubling since 1980, Maire Alain Marty has set about making the train popular again to maintain its long-term profitability and in so doing, secure the future of this important asset. From March, he is offering to subsidise 70% of the cost of tickets and season tickets for students and apprentices within his commune, an offer he hopes will benefit both the traveller and the environment.

A chateau has been on the Nontron site since the 8th century but the current Château de Nontron was constructed in 1878 after a fire destroyed its predecessor. Needing substantial investment, the chateau was passed to the commune in 1984, and has since become home to the ‘Pôle Expérimental des Métiers d’Art’ holding workshops and exhibitions on the ground floor. Restoration help is now at hand with two significant grants, one from AXA and the other from Mission Stéphane Bern. Combined with other regional and European grants, the long-awaited work to repair the roof and exterior walls along with upgrading the access and internal spaces can begin. The work is expected to be completed in June 2022.


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Magiline Succursales Marsac sur l’Isle ZAE Boulevard de l’Avenir 24430 MARSAC SUR L’ISLE





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St Jean de Mon


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St Gilles Croi

LA ROCHE SUR-YON Les Sables d’Olonne




La Tranche sur Mer



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Sévre Niort


News from around the region...

Town Planning

Deux-sèvres & Vendée

The project to build a new town hall in Roche-sur-Yon (85) is coming under pressure for being too extravagant in light of the pandemic. The vision of second-term Maire Luc Bouard and costing 20-30 million euros, the development would combine several administrative buildings including the mairie and museum. Currently spread across 17 energy-inefficient buildings in need of repair, the new structure is expected to achieve economies of 400,000 euros per year as well as giving a much-needed facelift to the area. The opposition agree with the need to invest in the museum but question the extent of the spend, given the current situation.

Wine Museum

Wine connoisseur Michel-Jack Chasseuil, a resident of La Chapelle-Bâton (79), is building an underground museum to exhibit his 50,000-bottle collection, often referred to as “the most prestigious collection of wines in the world”. The 350m2 construction, three metres under his house, will exhibit bottles from around the world, some of which are estimated to be worth several hundred thousand euros. He started to build his personal cellar in the 1960s but began investing seriously after voluntary redundancy at the age of 47. He had hoped to loan his collection, which includes a rare 1931 bottle of port from the Queen’s cellar, to the Sénat but the project fell through. He’s now is hoping his museum will put his village on the map when it opens next summer.


As part of the drive to meet its environmental commitments, the French Government promotes sustainable ways to design, build and manage communities through the development of EcoQuartiers. To receive support, the proposals must meet twenty objectives covering four areas: social, economic, ecological and governance. Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (85) signed up to the charter in 2015 for a 30-hectare site where there are plans to build 750 homes housing 1,500 residents over the next 15 years. The first families should move into their new eco-homes in 2024.



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News from around the region...


DATEs! Valentine’s Day is 14 February. Nouvelle-Aquitaine schools break up for their winter holiday from 6 - 22 February while Pays de la Loire holidays run from 20 February - 8 March. Mother’s Day in the UK is 14 March (9 May for USA and 30 May for France).

Sleep Easy

Camif, the Niort-based online furniture retailer, puts the idea of a circular economy (where items are recycled, repaired and reused as against a take-make-waste linear economy) at the heart of their product development. 85 per cent of their products are eco friendly, including their latest innovation, a mattress made from plastic waste recovered from the sea. Called the Guillaume mattress after the freediver Guillaume Néry, the material is made into small balls which form the fibres used to fill the mattress. The coating on the fibres is also made from recycled materials. A 160x200cm mattress recycles 87 plastic bottles while 98 are used for a 1800x200cm mattress with the manufacture taking place at Ebac, also based in Niort. The fibre is about 30 per cent more expensive than traditional fibres but has the additional benefit that it is softer and can itself be recycled. The fibres can also be used for duvets and pillows. See for more details.





Chauvigny Montmorillon

Le Dorat

Charroux Civray

Bellac Nieul



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





Tree Planting

© Atelier dune architecte Poitiers

Two-term Maire of Poitiers Alain Claeys succeeded in his aim to take cars and lorries away from the centre of Poitiers but in so doing many of the trees including the large lime trees in the Place d’Armes were removed, leaving a somewhat sterile feel. New Maire Léonore Moncond’huy, an environmentalist, has proposed a plan (‘Une canopée pour Poitiers’) to plant 10,000 trees and shrubs between 2021 and 2026. Eleven trees will be planted in the Place d’Armes, a challenge in itself given that they will need to break through the enormous concrete slab laid for events and prevent future root damage. Other sites include a plantation on the Îlot Tison as well as new woodlands in Trois-Cités and Couronneries plus communal potagers. New parents will be invited to plant a tree on the birth of their child and can choose from a dozen species which can be planted in their own garden or a dedicated space in town. In parallel, the Parc de Blossac will be renovated, starting in 2022. Overall the city will be investing ten million euros over six years.

New Look Website Click on and you will find an updated website packed with information both at a departmental level and locally. Interactive maps show what services are available near you along with their opening hours and other key information.

Economy Gets a Boost

To aid recovery of the French economy after COVID-19, the Government has put in place a 100-billion-euro investment plan across three areas: ecology, competitiveness and cohesion. Equivalent to one third of the annual state budget, forty per cent of ‘France Relance’ has been financed by the European Union. Nouvelle-Aquitaine has established a team including the region’s President, Préfète and Finance Director to support businesses and organisations applying to the fund. Approved projects so far range from improving the energy efficiency of public buildings to supporting the ‘Un jeune, une solution’ plan to help young people through the crisis, as well as the deployment of ‘digital advisors’ to train individuals in everyday online activities. For details of the projects being considered and how to apply, see

Blow for Elephant Haven

Elephant Haven, the elephant sanctuary under development in Haute-Vienne, had hoped to welcome its first resident soon, a circus elephant from the Netherlands named Buba. Sadly, the Dutch government decided that Buba, who was imported from Africa 45 years ago, should be allowed to stay with the circus despite a 2015 ban on wild animals in circuses. There is no news on other arrivals although the team is working on several possible placements amongst the hundred circus elephants still in Europe. Meanwhile preparation work continues on the site.

News from around the region...

Limoges – Southampton

While the future of low-cost air travel remains in the balance with many of our regional airports under pressure, there was some welcome news for Limoges airport. With the collapse of Flybe last year, the regular Limoges-Southampton route was cancelled. However, British Airways have stepped in and BA Cityflyer will operate on the route each Saturday from 15 May to 25 September, restrictions allowing.

Single Use Plastic Suspension As part of the move towards removing single use plastic by 2040, the sale of plastic straws, disposable cutlery, stirrers, lids for take-out cups, steak sticks, rods for balloons, plastic confetti and expanded polystyrene boxes is now prohibited. Shops are now obliged to allow you to bring your own containers to be filled where produce is sold in bulk (en vrac) and businesses can no longer distribute drinks in plastic bottles for free.

Bridge Renovation

The last suspension bridge in Vienne, now a Monument Historique, is closed to traffic for a year to allow a complete renovation to take place. Built in 1932 at Bonneuil-Matours to replace an earlier bridge dating back to 1845, it was only the second in the world (and the first in France) to be constructed with a single cable per suspension truss, a method which was then used for wider spans elsewhere. Due to serious age-related issues, the bridge is being completely rebuilt to the original design so only a footbridge over the Vienne will remain open, with all motorised traffic diverted to crossing points to the north and south.



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16 | living places to visit

The ramparts offer commanding views of the surrounding marshland

Brouage celebrates enduring links with Québec

living places to visit | 17 Installation art beside the Halle aux Vivres

We reveal the remarkable history of the citadel of Brouage, in Charente-Maritime. PHOTOS & Words: Roger Moss

he setting, amid flat and nearfeatureless marshland, is both haunting and puzzling, particularly after the disorienting approach on roads which twist and turn sharply between a network of drainage channels. We might be just a few kilometres southwest of the bustling former naval port of Rochefort, but already there’s a sense of remote detachment which heightens the drama of glimpsing for the first time the brooding stone ramparts of Brouage. What now seems like an unlikely location for a substantial fortress was once much less so, as medieval history reveals. From the 11th century the marshes were exploited as a source of sea salt by monks from the village of Hiers, which was then just one of several small islands set among the

waves in the Golfe de Saintonge. The salt’s exceptional quality was widely appreciated and eventually generated a lucrative international trade, huge quantities being exported to northern Europe (particularly Flanders and Germany). To cope with increasing shipping movements a new port was constructed in 1555 on a nearby shingle bed at what is now Brouage, with moorings for up to 200 vessels, some of which departed laden with cargoes of ‘white gold’ to supply the cod fishing communities of Newfoundland. As the trade flourished the formerly wild expanse of marshes changed dramatically, as the network of salt pans, canals and mounds of soil expanded to keep pace with demand. All the while the port of Jacopolis-sur-Brouage and its outlying communities (and particu-

larly the clergy and local nobility) were prospering handsomely from the taxes and duties generated by Europe’s most important exporter of sea salt. Such conspicuous wealth made it an obvious target. Sure enough, the port was attacked several times during the Hundred Years War, in response to which it was hurriedly fortified. In 1578 Brouage lost its Jacopolis prefix and was accorded ville Royale status by Henri III, who was determined to resist the covetous intentions of both French Protestants and the English. Some years later the nearby Protestant stronghold of La Rochelle responded by scuttling twenty or so redundant warships in an attempt to render the port of Brouage unusable. The cat-and-mouse game would continue until 1627, when Cardinal

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18 | living places to visit Former stabling now houses boutiques & workshops

A celebration of cycling history

Richelieu oversaw the siege of La Rochelle. Having been appointed to govern Brouage by Louis XIII, the all-powerful cardinal immediately set about transforming the town into a full-blown military arsenal, which played a key role during

the 14-month siege. The eventual surrender effectively brought to a close the Protestant rebellion movement and handed absolute power to the French monarchy. Lest there be any lingering doubt, however, the cardinal ordered the demolition of the arsenal’s

existing defences, to construct new ramparts incorporating the very latest innovations in military architecture. The campaign of reconstruction would take ten years, and create the most heavily defended military installation on the Atlantic coast, with a permanent

living places to visit | 19

The neo-Classical Porte Royale

garrison of around 6,000 personnel. Its influence would, however, be short-lived. For one thing the natural process of silt deposition from the rivers meant that the sea was steadily retreating, which not only created problems for salt production but also left Brouage landlocked, without a navigable channel for vessels to access the port. The second factor in the site’s decline was the construction in 1666 of the nearby Arsenal de Rochefort, which was destined to become France’s most important naval complex. Brouage, on the other hand, was all but abandoned until 1793, when it was relegated to the role of internment centre for members of the clergy and other suspects arrested during the Revolution. The military garrison finally departed from Brouage in 1885, leaving behind them a resident population (including that of Hiers) of around 740. Since then, despite the impact of global events and changing patterns of agriculture on many rural economies, the former citadel has remained home to a living and working community, which in recent years has grown steadily thanks to revenue from tourism. Today Brouage attracts around 500,000 visitors annually, including a significant number who have crossed the Atlantic to discover the birthplace of Samuel de Champlain, founder of what would become Québec City (see factfile panel). Just about everyone who comes here will make a point of climbing one

of the flights of stone steps to take a stroll around the ramparts, whose foundations alone required thousands of tightly packed oak pillars standing on bedrock to support horizontal oak timbers topped off with three courses of cut limestone dalles. It’s something to ponder while taking in panoramic views of the canals, the marais and the coastline. In 1685 the defences were modified by Vauban (France’s greatest military engineer) to better resist artillery attacks and install newly developed canon on eight huge bastions. The village below is laid out (like Rochefort) with military precision on a grid-like ground plan and has survived virtually intact from the 17/18th centuries. At its heart lies the Eglise Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, completed in 1608 on a scale befitting

Almost 1,000 hectares of the surrounding landscape are co-managed in partnership with landowners by the Conservatoire du Littoral and the Conservatoire Régional d’Espaces Naturels de Poitou-Charentes. Like its Poitevin counterpart, the marais provides rich pastures for grazing cattle and is also rich in wildlife, including Purple Heron (Ardea pupuria or Héron pourpré), Eurasian spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia or Spatule blanche), European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis or Cistude d’Europe) and numerous plant species which have adapted to the salinity of the soil. The Syndicat Mixte de Brouage organises guided nature rambles, or you can make your own discoveries by following a selection of nature itineraries.

L’escalier Mairie Mancini

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20 | living places to visit Refreshments at the Café Antiquaire

Evidence of a nautical past

a large garrison town, as was the Halle aux Vivres – an elegant stone and brick-vaulted former food market. Function of a different kind inspired the Poudrière de la Brèche, a massively buttressed powder magazine, further protected by thick stone surrounding walls. An unexpected feature is a restored glacière conceived to supply ice for sorbets and medical uses. Given its wealth of design innovations, it’s no surprise that Brouage is today home to the Centre Européen d’Architecture Militaire. Most visitors, though, make for the more colourful attractions of boutiques, workshops and galleries showcasing works by a host of creative talents. There’s also a selection of bars, restaurants and shops, serving both visitors and the resident community of one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France – and the proud possessor of both Village de Pierres et d’Eau and Grand Site de France labels.

The Québecois Connection Around 1577 Brouage welcomed one Samuel de Champlain into the world. He developed a love for the sea and after studying navigation he joined the military in Brittany and fought in the Wars of Religion. His life changed when he accompanied his maternal uncle on a ship carrying Breton troops to Cadiz, then set sail for the

Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Two and a half years later Champlain returned, armed with extensive notes and observations, then set off for Mexico and Panama. Now an accomplished navigator and cartographer, he returned to Brouage in 1601 and encountered a former army colleague, who presented Champlain’s manuscripts to Henri IV. A summons to the royal court resulted in the King’s protection and a series of voyages to North America, where he mapped for the first time the coastline

Pétanque match, Place d’Aviau de Piolant

Since gallo-Roman times the former Golfe de Saintonge possessed a military stronghold, in the shape of la Tour de Broue. Enclosed within by stonework ramparts and moat-style ditches, it was constructed on what was a prominent headland, and was of strategic importance until the sea retreated. A substantial part of the monolithic 25m-high donjon ruins survive, and can be visited at Saint-Sornin (17), around 8km south east of Brouage.

and the St Laurence River, on whose banks he identified suitable locations for colonisation. In 1608 he oversaw construction of a stockade, thereby founding what would become the city of Québec in NouvelleFrance. In all he made around 25 return transatlantic voyages and devoted some 30 years of his life to exploring, mapping and colonising for France what is now the province of Québec. He died on Christmas Day 1635 two months after suffering a severe stroke. Today Champlain is widely celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic, and particularly in the place where he was born in Charente-Maritime.

Riverside calm in Orléans

22 | living places to visit

The Château de Sully at sunset

Big River

The mere mention of our longest river seems to evoke the very soul of rural France, so we cast off on a two-part

voyage in the company of the mighty Loire. WORDS & PHOTOS: ROGER MOSS

living places to visit | 23


ong before becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area we refer to as ‘the Loire Valley’ had enjoyed international celebrity status stretching back centuries, thanks to dazzling Renaissance chateaux like Azay-leRideau, Blois and Chenonceau. The area in which they’re concentrated is surprisingly compact, while the river itself flows for over 1000 km from its source in the Ardèche all the way to the Atlantic coast. Following it can require several visits but you’ll be rewarded by what you encounter along the way. The Loire springs into life on the wild volcanic flanks of Mont Gerbier de Jonc and ambles uncertainly roughly northwards, bypassing both

"The river itself flows for over 1000 km from its source in the Ardèche" Le Puy-en-Velay and Saint-Étienne. By the time it reaches Roanne it’s looking like a major waterway, before drifting through a series of meanders which will take it to its liaison with the River Allier just beyond the cathedral town of Nevers. Now into its stride, the Loire begins to display the kind of character which we’ve come to expect, among a landscape described by

Balzac as “a series of small mountains”. Draped across their billowing contours are the productive AOC vineyards of Pouilly-sur-Loire and the ancient hilltop town of Sancerre, where our own journey begins. Sancerre’s fine wines have made it world famous, something which is celebrated at la Maison des Sancerre (a restored 14th century townhouse) and you’ll find lots of opportunities for tastings and purchases in and around the town. Behind Nouvelle Place stands la Tour des Fiefs, a 14th century circular tower whose viewing platform offers panoramas of the town and the surrounding vine-clad landscapes, among which you can find authentic farm-produced Crottin de Chavignol fromage de chèvre.

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Vieux Orléans

The Cathédrale SainteCroix d’Orléans took centuries to complete

A few kilometres beyond Sancerre you’ll reach Châtillon-sur-Loire, with an attractive pleasure port (a good spot for a lunch break) on the adjoining Canal de Briare, constructed during the 17th century to provide traders with access to lucrative Parisian markets. Spanning both the canal and the river is a skeletal ironwork suspension bridge currently nearing the end of lengthy strengthening works which will also add a deck for pedestrians and cyclists. Once across you’ll find a more spectacular engineering marvel at Briare. Completed in 1876, an elegant Belle Époque aqueduct almost 700m in length carries the canal across the Loire, and beside it is another historic port. Briare became a highly respected

The Pont-Vieux and Château de Gien

producer of enamels and mosaics, examples of which are displayed nearby in a colourful museum. Now back in fashion, ceramic mosaic tiles are still produced, and behind the museum is a small factory shop. If you prefer faïencerie (glazed earthenware) some of the very finest is created further downstream at Gien, where production was founded by Englishman Thomas Hall in 1821. He was attracted by substantial local deposits of high-quality clays and sand suited to the manufacturing process, plus nearby forests to supply timber to fire the kilns. Finished products could then be shipped from Gien’s own quays. Today the former clay store cellars house the company’s museum, while spanning

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the river is a 16th century, twelvearched dos d’âne (donkey-back) stone bridge, overlooked by one of the Loire Valley’s earliest chateaux. Shortly after Gien comes Sullysur-Loire, in whose moated Gothic chateau Jeanne d’Arc convinced Henri VII to accept the French crown in 1429. Stop overnight in Sully and you might witness the setting sun turning the pale stonework to fiery gold, a spectacle intensified by shimmering reflections on the surface of the moat. The following morning cross the river to Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, where the 12th century nave of the ancient Abbaye de Fleury continues to resonate each day to the haunting medieval chant of monks of the Order of Saint Benedict (whose

living places to visit | 25

The 12th century Abbaye de Fleury

remains rest in the crypt). The now broad river meanders its way to Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, whose engineers once designed and produced vast transporter bridges for ports like Nantes, Marseille and Rochefort. Original documents and a scale model are displayed in the excellent Musée de la Marine de Loire, which recounts the history of commercial navigation on the Loire. Historic manufacturing of a different kind continues nearby at Saint Jean-de-Braye, where generations of maîtres-saintiers have been casting bronze bells. Behind this remarkable living museum (one of only three remaining French bell-foundries) is a towpath popular with local

fishermen, before the Loire is joined by the Canal d’Orléans and the Canal de Briare in the charming old port of Combleux. Once cattle crossed an iron swing bridge to graze on the riverbanks, but today you can dine in style from the terrace of an elegant quayside restaurant. The former lock-keeper’s cottage retains some wall-mounted plaques, indicating distances to various locations along the waterways, plus peak water levels attained during 19th century floods. By now you might be craving some city buzz, which you’ll find among the wide boulevards of neighbouring Orléans, although most visitors are attracted by the town’s illustrious

A timeless scene at Combleux

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26 | living places to visit Sancerre AOC vineyard

The Maid of Orléans and Hôtel Groslot

"A statue of Jeanne d 'Arc retains bullet-hole wounds"

Medieval fresco, Meung-sur-Loire

Loire navigation recounted at Châteauneuf-sur-Loire

history. The 16th century Hôtel Groslot, for example, accommodated François II, Charles IX, Henri III and Henri IV during state visits, and has been painstakingly restored, although outside a bronze statue of Jeanne d’Arc retains bullet-hole wounds sustained during two world wars. Happily, there’s little evidence of past conflict among the restored historic quarter’s medieval half-timbered facades, and blending with them is la Maison Jeanne, a sympathetic reconstruction celebrating the tempestuous life of the Maid of Orléans. Nearby lie more features which between them piece together the history of Orléans, and since many are far from obvious the tourist office has created various themed itineraries for visitors. When you reach the old quays you might reflect on the fact that goods and travellers bound for Nantes and the coast would face lengthy journeys lasting six days or more. Seen from across the river, the skyline is dominated by the

magnificent Cathédrale Sainte-Croix, begun in the early 12th century and part financed by Henri III, Henri IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV. However, a string of setbacks (including pillaging by Protestants in 1568) delayed completion until 1829. Final stylistic touches remain controversial, but the interior is spectacular, particularly when bathed in multicoloured light from the wealth of stained glass. If you appreciate their artistry, right beside the cathedral you’ll find the Musée des Beaux-Arts, whose extensive collections (one of the very finest to be seen outside Paris) were founded on treasures seized from both the aristocracy and the church during the Revolution. Meanwhile, downstream from Orléans lies the former walled town of Meung-sur-Loire, which was liberated from English occupation by French forces led by Jeanne d’Arc in 1429. It retains a 16th century fortified gateway, two chateaux and a huge 12-13th century Romanesque collegiate church. Inside you’ll find humorous carved capitals, a large medieval fresco and fine stained glass. Meung is another ideal spot for a relaxed lunch, and there are many more to come as our journey continues in the next issue of LIVING.

living places to visit | 27 Riverside dining, Combleux

Flood Management: High Stakes

Crossing the Belle Époque aqueduct de Briare

Assuring the security of those who live and work in an area with an irreplaceable architectural heritage is challenging, especially since there’s also a delicate ecological balance of important natural habitats to consider. By the time it reaches the Atlantic ‘the last wild river in western Europe’ has become a force to be reckoned with, having absorbed around eighty tributaries, including the Allier (which receives the Massif Central’s rainfall run-off and winter melt-water), Cher, Creuse and Vienne. Between them they represent a staggering 135,000km of watercourses, so low-lying areas bordering the Loire face an ever-present risk of crues (floods), which levées (dykes) alone cannot overcome, despite a campaign of construction and renewal stretching back to the 12th century. In June 1856, for example, the inhabitants of Orléans witnessed water levels rising rapidly by over 7m to inundate an area of over 100,000ha. A string of similar events finally prompted an integrated management system which continues to evolve with the stimulus of initiatives like Plan Loire Grandeur Nature, a government scheme established under then-Environment Minister Michel Barnier in 1994 (and which removed existing barrages) and Mission Val de Loire, launched in 2002 to focus on the UNESCO-designated area. The WWF has also campaigned successfully against the construction of new barrages, co-funding the Loire Vivante (Living Loire) Committee and launching the Loire Nature project, which aims to secure ownership and sustainable management of 4,500ha of the vast Loire Basin (which itself covers over 20% of mainland France).

Festival de Loire 2021

Every two years Orléans plays enthusiastic host to a colourful celebration of the history and traditions of the Loire. This year’s event is scheduled for 22-26 September, and if you can make it you’ll find visiting traditional vessels of all kinds moored along historic quaysides lined with stalls selling items with a nautical theme, plus terraces of neatly-laid tables for convivial al fresco dining. The festivals typically feature over 200 vessels, including attendees representing a different territory which has been chosen to participate, adding a cosmopolitan dimension to proceedings.

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28 | living in profile

For one extraordinary artist thinking big comes naturally, on the sandy shoreline of the Atlantic Coast WORDS: JESSICA KNIPE, PHOTOS: Jben

© Photo & design by Jben in collaboration with Les Huîtres Marennes Oléron

Art’s a beach

living in profile | 29

At low tide the clock is ticking

A celebration of Marennes oyster farming


rmed with just a rake and a drone, Jben has been creating stunning sand drawings in his natal Pays du Royannais (17) for almost a decade. As the tide goes down, this self-taught beach artist begins transforming the sandbanks near his home into massive, arresting artworks that disappear just as quickly once the tide rolls back in. And although most of his time is

now reserved for his clients – who range from individuals looking for the present of a lifetime to companies communicating for an event – Jben still finds time to develop his own ideas and leave his ephemeral stamp on the beautiful landscapes where he grew up. LIVING had the opportunity to talk to this seaside wizard about how a growing passion turned into a full-time profession.

Living: So, how did it all begin? When did the beach start looking like a huge canvas to you?

Jb: I grew up by the beach, and it has always been my playground, but in 2013 I discovered an American beach artist online. I thought his work was incredible – and I knew that, on my doorstep, I had what I needed to try it out myself. I was already into drones at the time, when they weren’t that

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popular yet. I was one of the first to use one, in fact. So having discovered this art form, and having a drone at my disposal, something clicked. After going to try it out once, then twice, three times… I just couldn’t stop trying to get better, to go further. I was in love from the very beginning. Living: Did you always want to be an artist?

Using just a rake, he creates his ephemeral designs

The incoming tide will provide another blank canvas

Jb: I believe that we all have several lives. Everything depends on the choices we make, the opportunities that we take. I like to provoke things, but I have also always been lucky. I was first an entertainer, for ten years, then I worked as a web designer for another decade. But I’ve always been sensitive to art, and I’ve played music since I was a child. All of these separate things collided in the only

living in profile | 31

“If I hadn’t had the passion for drones, or the experience of graphic design, then my career as an artist might not have been so successful”

Living: What’s the process to create your art, from start to finish?

Jb: When I’m working for a client I do a lot of preparation on paper and on the computer. But my personal projects are mostly improvised, for the simple reason that I don’t have much time to prepare for them. I spot a time slot and I know that it’s now or never! Once I’m at the beach

I can start working as soon as the tide has started going out, and it takes me anywhere from an hour to five hours to complete an artwork. Living: How important is the beach itself, in terms of inspiration?

Jb: Very important, clearly. In fact, now instead of finding a beach that will suit my art, I try to find an interesting sand bank into which I can integrate the artwork. I feel freer when I am working with the environment, and trying to create a sort of continuity to the landscape. My practice requires particular conditions, though, and all oceans don’t have the right tides for me to work with them. The Atlantic

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logical outcome. If I hadn’t had the passion for drones, or the experience of graphic design, then my career as an artist might not have been so successful. My creativity comes with practical experience and tools that are a result of my life to this point. It all makes sense.

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has the best configuration, and even more on our side: in the US the foreshores aren’t as big as ours. Near Royan, I like to work on the Plage du Chay, especially in winter. It’s a big beach, and it’s also an estuary, so it’s surrounded by rocks and it’s just beautiful. The sand is perfect there, too. Near Saint-Palais-sur-Mer I also like the Plage de la Grande Côte, even though I don’t go there as often anymore, as it has become too popular. Still, with a bit of courage, you can always find wild beaches off the beaten track.

‘Je suis Charlie’ solidarity gesture

Living: Some artists use their art to leave a trace that will last forever, yet your art is wiped clean just a few hours after you have created it. Does that bother you?

Jb: It’s not really something that I think about. The pictures I take will stay, but I like the fact that I have a new, blank canvas to use every single day. There is something quite meditative in the process itself, of being only in the present, and accepting that nothing is fixed. The result gives a great sense of accomplishment, but it’s being in the process, in that moment, by the sea... that’s what I’m interested in. Living: There are worse places to work!

Jb: Oh, I also have to do a lot of office work, too – don’t get me wrong!

Living: Of all of your amazing creations, which one really stands out in your mind?

Jb: Recently I created something to raise awareness around the wildfires that were destroying a huge part of Australia. I like using my work to communicate about subjects that are close to my heart, even though I don’t answer requests along those lines. Any causes are those I choose myself. But the work that marked me the most has to be the one I created at the time of

the “Je suis Charlie” movement, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. I completely lost control of it as it was happening, and it turned into a sort of official gathering, which wasn’t my intention. People took a hold of it, but even if I was out of my depth, it created something beautiful, and that’s what I’ll always remember. Facebook: Jben Beach Art Instagram: @jbenart

living brexit | 33

Citizens’ rights after


Kathryn Dobson, member of British in Europe’s steering team and co-founder of France Rights, writes what we hope will be our final update on citizens’ rights The UK left the EU at the end of January 2020 and the protection afforded by the transition period finished at midnight on 31 December. British citizens resident in France are now settling into our new normality. After forty years of integration there are bound to be issues ahead as we untangle the detail, especially with the added complexity of a pandemic. Indeed, the first few days of the year threw up several problems, from driving licence exchange issues to the incorrect stamping of passports. However, the Withdrawal Agreement is in place, the residency portal is open and we are now WA-protected third country nationals with all that that brings. As everyone reading LIVING should know by now, if you are a British citizen who does not hold additional EU citizenship, then you MUST apply online for the new non-EU residency permit. Each adult (over-18) needs to apply individually and the cards are free. You will need to visit the Préfecture once

to verify your identity and have your fingerprints scanned (this is sometimes waived if you have done so in the last few months for an EU card) and the card will be sent to your home address. If you have an EU card you MUST exchange it, even if received recently. You have until 30 June to apply, and you will receive your new card before the end of October (in fact, many readers have already had their appointments and received their cards). There are no exceptions to this, even if you are married to, or PACSed with, a French

INFORMATION YOU CAN TRUST The French Government information site is at The UK Government continues to update its ‘Living in’ guide ( living-in-france). There you will find a list of the organisations supported by UK Government funding to help British nationals complete their registration applications: IOM, the French Residency Support Project, FBN and SSAFA. Do not rely on enthusiastic amateurs! Several groups on social media offer help, but check their legal expertise. Immigration law is a complex subject

and advice should only be given by lawyers who carry professional liability insurance and by Government-funded organisations. Getting incorrect information from a self-help group on Facebook, however big the membership, could have long lasting implications for you and your family. For quality independent information focused on France, see France Rights, the French arm of British in Europe, at or follow the Facebook page at FranceRights where the latest news will be shared.


person or have lived here for decades. If you only have UK citizenship, you must apply for a residency permit to continue living here legally, or risk losing the rights protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. For those who are worried by bureaucracy, lack online skills, have slow or no internet, or who are just confused about the whole thing, please get in touch with one of the agencies funded by the UK Government, who will help you. The process is simple, the bureaucracy is minimal and the French teams are doing all they can to ensure everyone is registered successfully. If you have friends, neighbours or know anyone who thinks they are exempt please ensure that, before the end of June, they contact one of the help organisations who will explain the situation. Here at LIVING Magazine, we hope this is the final instalment documenting the long fight for our rights. We’re not abandoning you, though. Both British in Europe and France Rights will continue to monitor the WA implementation on behalf of British citizens resident in the EU, raising issues with the EU Commission and the UK Government. Do follow us on social media to keep up to date with any new developments.

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34 | practical living

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

After Brexit - some questions from our postbag


I’m very confused about travelling with my dog to the UK. What are the rules?

We can understand your confusion as the regulations for pet travel were unclear until the middle of December, but there is good news for pet owners as the UK has been listed by the EU under part 2 of EU regulation 577/2013’s annexe on pet travel. To travel back to the UK, your EU pet passport will be recognised by the UK and so the process remains the


I’m a UK resident but want to stay in my holiday home in France for more than 90 days this summer. What visa do I need?


In mid-December, France published details of the visa requirements for British residents wanting to stay longer than the 90/180days within the Schengen zone allowed for tourists. See the last edition of LIVING for details on how the 90-days are calculated. If you want to spend the summer in your holiday home and your trip into the Schengen zone will last longer than 90 days, then you will need to apply for a visa. A variety of visas exist, allowing you stay up to a year and they need to be renewed annually but, importantly, visitor visas do not allow you to work while you are here. Remember that if you spend more than 6 months in France then you are considered a French resident which brings other considerations into play. For a visa allowing you to stay for 3-6 months for leisure only, you should apply, from the UK,

same, including the requirement for tapeworm treatment by a vet between 24 and 120 hours for a visa de long séjour temporaire (VLST) applying as a visiteur. To do this, visit the French Government website (which is available in English). Enter your details into the website wizard and it will tell you what type of visa you require. It will provide you with a list of supporting documents required (passport, travel insurance, proof of accommodation and resources etc.) and tell you the fee (there may also be a processing fee added later). Once you have the information to hand, you can create an account and submit your online application. You will need to pick a centre (London, Edinburgh or Manchester) to visit with your documents and passport where you will have your fingerprints scanned.

before entering the UK. There are changes on your return to France though,


Are there limits on what I can take between France and the UK?

One important change after Brexit is the reintroduction of duty-free allowances between the UK and the EU which do not apply when travelling between EU countries. When travelling from France to the UK, your personal allowance covers goods you bring in for your own use or to gift, and you must transport them yourself. Alcohol is limited to 42 litres of beer and 18 litres of wine (not sparkling). There are additional limits for other types of alcohol and tobacco (e.g. 200 cigarettes). In total, additional goods purchased in the EU cannot exceed £390 per person (or £270 if arriving by

which came into force at the beginning of January. In the UK, you will need to arrange to visit an accredited vet to get an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for which you will need to provide proof of microchipping date and vaccination history. The certificate is valid for a single trip into the EU within ten days of issuing and is valid for onward travel within the EU for four months after the date of issue. You should ask for the dual language French/English version of the certificate to be completed.

private boat or plane). Over these allowances, you will need to pay tax and duty on the total value of goods (not just the value above the allowance). You may also need to pay import VAT. Under-17s do not have a personal alcohol or tobacco allowance. See for full details. When entering France from the UK, duty-free shops will no longer offer clothing or electronics although alcohol and tobacco will be available. There are limits on both (for example 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and 200 cigarettes). There are also limits on the value of UKbought goods per person: €430 by air and sea, €300 by train, and €150 for under-15s. See www. for full details.

practical living | 35

Financial jargon explained


When looking at social media threads about financial advice, or when talking to advisers, I get confused with all the jargon used. Could you tell me what the common ones are and what they mean?


Like all industries, financial services use abbreviations and specialised terms which apply to products and services. Here are some of the common ones: • AV - Assurance Vie, a French tax-efficient wrapper that is

used in France for investments. • QROPS - Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme. • ISA - Individual Savings Account, this is a UK tax efficient wrapper that is used for UK investment (for French tax residents there may be tax benefits to switching to an Assurance Vie). • AMC - Annual Management Charge, a fee applied by the investment company or investment fund for running the fund. It is generally paid quarterly and deducted from your investments before you receive the growth. • Service Charge - a fee often charged by a life assurance policy to cover the cost of the

adviser who is looking after your investments. • Admin Fee - A sum based on the number of funds that you hold within an investment/ pension policy, charged by the life assurance company to cover their administration expenses for holding these funds. • Allocation rate - This will show you how much of your initial amount is invested. For example, if the allocation rate is 95% then 95% of your money is invested with the remainder used to cover the cost of setting up your policy, including a commission to the company your adviser works for. If the allocation rate is 101% then this means that 1% extra on top

of the money you have invested will be invested. • TER - Total Expense Ratio, this is a measure of the total costs associated with managing and operating an investment fund. It includes fees such as the annual management charge and trading fees. When considering financial services providers, it is important to understand the allocation rate you are being offered and all the charges that will apply in any investments and pensions the funds and wrapper propose. This will ensure you are aware of all the costs involved, both at inception and those which will be ongoing.

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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Avec les enfants ––––––

Between Seasons




and poor weather to contend with; as a result, I always think a sunny day in February or March is a great tonic for winter blues, and it’ll be doubly so this year. It’s a month when we typically start to plan the summer potager, and I grab as much help as I can from the kids digging and weeding, while the more artistic ones start drawing out which vegetables are going where on bits of paper. Our first foray to the local farm store to look for seeds is always a treat, and Roddy has already dusted out the little greenhouse and checked the silicone seals between the frames. It’s also when we get quite vocal about what we’re going to grow for food, as everyone likes different things, not all of which are unanimously popular. As always, though, tomatoes are at the top of the list and it won’t be long before I’ll have seedlings protected under glass, with plenty of bubble-wrap to hand for the colder nights. The garden may look a little lifeless and bare in February but here we are lucky, for the winters are generally mild and while daffodils bloom early, buds are forming on shrubs. For gardeners it’s a month



We’re nearing the end of winter here – or so they say. Last year didn’t really happen for many people but the countryside should now be putting its first spring feelers out. If we want something cheerful to start the month, we look at our garden, the pots on our terrace or even places where we might be walking the dogs. Spring is stirring underfoot in a palette of yellows and blues, and every sunny day now should be an opportunity welcomed with arms wide open. I always think this is a great time of year to get the kids outside. They’ve been under the cosh now for nearly a year, restricted and restrained, and winter has dealt them a double whammy with attestations





of careful planning, even if the fruit of that diligence will not ripen till much later in the year. The spring months are also when we do a lot of exploring by bike. The weather’s not hot, there’s little traffic on the roads, and the places we go have few people milling about to make life difficult. To keep ourselves in line with you-know-what rules, we’ve been using masks when going through villages but taking them off in the country. It seems a reasonable compromise, and we’re lucky to have so much open green space around us. I always think a bike ride on a sunny day is a great way to see places and buildings you’ve never taken notice of before. Most trees have lost their leaves and it’s extraordinary how much we see from our two wheels that we never noticed in real time from a car, not only because we’re going slower, but also because it’s easy to stop and drink in a view with a little more attention than you do as a car passenger. Of course, the other advantage of a bike is that it’s a far less threatening form of traffic, and it’s much easier to turn down little lanes and wander through cul-de-sacs we’d never think of taking a gas-guzzling

living family | 37

better than the cheaper real deals. It’s fascinating to take a back seat and see who notices what. Each knows their own mind and their own preferences. The two youngest have no time for architecture or churches, but produce vignettes of scenes that I would never think of. Shadows, colours, oddities and quirks... the young eye sees things very differently. Roddy likes the more traditional scenes and his insects, and I like my secret passages, doorways, gardens, stone walls and houses. All of this is available on a sunny February day – you just need to forget that it’s supposed to be winter. 1




monster. In a nutshell, it’s environmentally friendly, incredibly good exercise and when you can breath in limitless fresh air, and admire amazing scenery at the same time, then it’s a win/win all round. I stop and take many photos on these rides, and now so do the children; even if some of them are now young adults, they’ve all come to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds them. They’ll spend ages photographing a flower, a cow dozing in a meadow or a bird before it takes flight. Of course most of the images are taken by phone, but then phone cameras have come a long way and many are as good if not


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 find the answers on page 41… Clues Across 1. Flying machine houses garnish pastiche; an article supplied for me? (7) 5. Ditches MG in part exchange deal with ruminants? (5) 8. Check on car engines (not the body) reveals some small specks? (5) 9. Putting on the pressure to sell drugs? (7) 10. Travelled in front part of ferry of French construction? (4) 11. Funny smell nothing to do with sour mixture? (8) 14. Total assumed to be somewhere in the middle. (3) 16. By all accounts estimated to be a stayer? (5) 17. Listen to this cockney vessel? (3) 19. Describing this crossword?

As brutes go, it’s tough. (8) 20. We are told Venetian bridge adds another dimension? (4) 23. Organising sharing, bringing end of famine for me, and clothing supporters? (7) 25. Drunk and dirty, having taken first of suspenders off? (5) 26. Crossing, we hear, in fine form? (5) 27. Suspected to be invited on the radio? (7)

Clues Down 1. Hum sure to be modified in part? (7) 2. Famous, but only a minion in the newspapers? (5) 3. Information about church left off; deterioration in part of building? (4) 4. Last of tail-enders go up to get a bribe? (3) 5. Start of expansion in tourism contrived to send people to the wrong places? (8) 6. State’s very dry endless zone finally getting A and E replacement? (7) 7. Signs of weariness seen in gene hunters seeking origins? (5) 12. First two letters dropped off for

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those who mistreat employers? (5) 13. Upset veggie forced to eat starters of raw anchovies? (8) 15. My sonar picked up the Stones! (7) 18. Dad had knee manipulated? (7) 19. Residue from accidents after sides

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of container removed? (5) 21. Scilly perhaps to be found between the shelves, we are told? (5) 22. Not all of ransom expected to be paid? (4) 24. Being drunk, finally Casanova getting brewer’s droop? (3)

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38 | living nikki legon’s cuisine

Delicious dishes packed full of flavour and colour provide a pick-me-up on the dullest of winter days...

Nikki Legon's

cuisine Goat's Cheese & Red Onion Squares

Goat’s Cheese & Red Onion Squares 500g block of flaky or short crust pastry large round goat’s cheese cut into 6 slices pine nuts to sprinkle thyme leaves to decorate onion marmalade 1kg red onions, peeled 2 garlic cloves 70g butter 2 tbsp olive oil

Lentil Quinoa Burgers

70g golden caster sugar ½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves ½ bottle red wine 175ml sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar 100ml port Method Halve and thinly slice the onions, then thinly slice the garlic. Melt the butter with the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and stir well so they are covered with butter. Sprinkle over the sugar, thyme leaves and some salt and pepper.

Give everything another good stir and reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered for approx 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. The onions are ready when all the juices have evaporated and they are soft and sticky. Pour in the wine, vinegar and port and simmer everything, still uncovered, on a medium heat for a further hour. Stir every so often until the onions are a deep mahogany colour and the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It is ready when drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan clears a path that fills rapidly with syrupy juice. This red onion

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 39

Mediterranean Baked Cod Can be served with crusty bread, but it can equally be enjoyed as a main course with a baked potato and broccoli

Mediterranean Baked Cod

2 thick pieces of cod - make sure there are no bones 5 good quality black olives 2 tbsp olive oil juice of 1/4 lemon ¾ tsp paprika pinch of cayenne pepper

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes ½ tsp small capers rinsed 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley salt and pepper METHOD Season the cod pieces and place into a casserole dish. Mix the paprika and cayenne pepper into the tomatoes. Add the capers, olives and lemon juice and mix in the olive oil. Pour over the fish and bake in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve.

Rustic Vegetable Soup 3 tbsp olive oil 3 carrots, chopped 2 onions, chopped 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped 3 parsnips or half a celeriac, peeled and chopped ½ savoy cabbage, sliced thinly and chopped

METHOD Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. When hot, add the carrots, celeriac or parsnips, and onions, fry gently for 8 minutes to intensify the flavour. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook a further 8 minutes stirring gently. Add the tinned tomatoes. Mix the stock cubes in the boiling water to dissolve and pour over the vegetables. Cook a further 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Rustic Vegetable Soup marmalade will keep for 3 months. Heat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the flaky pastry and cut out six 10cm squares. Make an incision around the edge of each, about 1cm in. Prick the base and bake blind under baking parchment for 10 minutes. Remove baking parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes until crisp and dry. Place the caramelised onions in the base of each tart and top with a slice of goat’s cheese. Sprinkle on the pine nuts and bake until the goat’s cheese begins to bubble and brown. Decorate with thyme leaves and serve with a salad.

450g potatoes, peeled and chopped small 250g mushrooms, cleaned and quartered 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tsp dried oregano 1.5l water, boiled 4 vegetable stock cubes

Lentil Quinoa Burgers 225g quinoa 2 small cans of lentils, rinsed 100g breadcrumbs 2 eggs, lightly beaten 4 cloves of garlic, crushed 1 tbsp cumin powder small bunch of coriander, chopped (stalks as well) juice of 1 lemon 115g walnuts, chopped 500g mushrooms salt and pepper

Method In a saucepan, combine quinoa and 450ml of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 12 minutes, set aside to cool. In a food processor, combine half the lentils, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, eggs, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon juice and cooked quinoa, season with salt and pepper. Process until well combined. Add remaining lentils and walnuts, pulse until they are incorporated. Form into small patties and place in the fridge to set. Brush the burgers with oil and cook for a few minutes each side. Serve with crème fraîche and chopped mint.

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Creamy 40 | living Chicken Pie nikki legon’s cuisine

Creamy Chicken Pie Ideal to use up any leftover chicken or substitute turkey or ham 25cm round pie dish Enough meat of your choice to fill your pie dish, cut into 2cm chunks 250ml chicken or turkey stock 25g butter mixed with a little oil 2 leeks, white part only, trimmed and sliced thinly 2 garlic cloves, crushed 6 large mushrooms, chopped bechAmEl sauce 50g butter 50g plain flour 200ml milk 3 tbsp white wine 150ml cream salt and pepper shortcrust pastry 400g plain flour 225g cold, diced butter 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp cold water beaten egg to glaze METHOD Melt 25g of the butter and a little oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the leeks and fry gently for 2 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further minute. Tip into a bowl and reserve. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining butter, stirring in the flour as soon as the butter has melted. Cook for

2 minutes, stirring. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Gradually add the stock and the wine, stir until the sauce is smooth and thick. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Season to taste and remove from the heat. Add the cream - it should remain a thick sauce. Pour into a bowl and cover with cling film to stop a skin forming. To make the pastry, put the flour and butter in a food processor and blitz on the pulse setting until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the beaten egg and water then blend until the mixture starts to come together in a ball. Add a little cold water if necessary. Weigh the pastry and take off 280g for the lid, gather the rest of the pastry and flatten slightly. Place in the fridge for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200°C and put a baking tray into the oven to heat. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it’s slightly thicker than a euro coin and 4cm larger than the pie dish. Lift it gently onto the pie dish and press firmly into the base and sides, making sure there are no air bubbles. Add the meat to the sauce with the mushrooms and leeks. Fill the pie, brush the rim with beaten egg. Roll out the rest of the pastry, cover the pie, then press the edges together to seal, crimp the edges. Make a small hole in the centre of the pie and brush the pie with beaten egg. Bake on the heated tray in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes or until the pie is golden brown and the filling is piping hot. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and green beans.

Mushroom & Goat's Cheese Polenta Pie

Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Polenta Pie Polenta 700ml vegetable stock 150g quick cook polenta 200g firm goat’s cheese 50g grated Parmesan cheese or vegetarian equivalent 2 tbsp chopped parsley salt and pepper Filling 25g butter 3 tbsp olive oil 500g mixed mushrooms 1 large red onion 1 tsp light muscovado sugar 1 celery stick, sliced 2 leeks, sliced 2 tbsp ruby port 150ml vegetable stock 250g roasted red peppers, sliced 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 150ml crème fraîche salt and pepper METHOD Preheat the oven to 190°C. Bring the stock to the boil and add the polenta in a steady stream, stirring. Crumble in the goat’s cheese, add half of the Parmesan and all of the chopped parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 20 x 30cm oiled baking dish and leave to go cold. Heat the butter and 2 tbsp of oil in a fry pan, add the mushrooms and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on a high heat then remove from the pan and set aside.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 41

Chocolate Brownie Heart 185g unsalted butter 200g dark chocolate 85g plain flour 40g cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate) 75g white chocolate buttons 3 large eggs 275g golden caster sugar Individual heart-shaped baking tins

Pour the remaining oil into the pan, add the onions and cook on a lower heat for 15 minutes or until golden, stir in the sugar and cook a further 5 minutes. Add the celery and leeks and fry for 3 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan, pour in the port to deglaze and flambé. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the peppers, mustard, thyme and parsley. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Crumble in the other half of the goat’s cheese and season to taste. Spoon the mixture into a 25 x 15 x 4cm oven-proof dish. Cut the polenta into 16 slices by cutting lengthways in half and then across into eight, arrange over the filling and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes then grill till golden. Serve with a crisp salad and crusty bread.

METHOD Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cut the butter into small dice, place in a heatproof bowl that will fit over a sauce pan quarter full of water. The bowl must not touch the water. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add to the butter. Heat the pan slowly until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix. Leave to cool to room temperature. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a large baking bowl, tapping the sieve edge to remove any lumps. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and tip in the sugar. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look pale, thick and creamy - they should double in volume. Pour in the cooled chocolate mixture, then very gently fold together with a rubber spatula in a figure-of-eight action. Hold the sieve over the mixture and re-sift the flour and chocolate, shaking from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this flour using the same gentle figure-of-eight action as before

until it looks lovely and fudgy. Finally, stir in the white chocolate buttons. Pour into cake tins and level the top, place into the preheated oven on the middle shelf for 20 minutes. Check if they are cooked by gently shaking the tin. If they wobble in the middle then bake for a further 5 minutes, until the top has a shiny crust and the sides start to come away from the tin. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar and serve with fresh strawberries.

Chocolate Brownie Heart

Perfect e Valentin treat

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:

ACROSS: 1. Hangars 5. Moats 8. Motes 9. Pushing 10. Rode 11. Humorous 14. Sum 16. Guest 17. Ark 19. Abstruse 20. Size 23. Hangers 25. Oiled 26. Style 27. Guessed Down: 1. Humerus 2. Noted 3. Apse 4. Sop 5. Misroute 6. Arizona 7. Sighs 12. Users 13. Aggrieve 15. Masonry 18. Kneaded 19. Ashes 21. Isles 22. Some 24. Sag Theme: Homophones

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 Show how much you Living at

Vines take a well-deserved rest

42 | living wine

A wide decanter is for young wines only

handle with care How do I tell if a wine is age-worthy

Acidity and tannin help a wine to age with grace. In general a high acid, high tannin Cabernet Sauvignon will age better than a low tannin Grenache. However, not all Cabernet Sauvignon is made to be ageworthy. Some white grapes like Sémillon can age beautifully, despite having neither high acid nor tannin, so there’s no easy answer to this question.

What is the 'FridgeBottle Test'?

We winemakers have a test we use called the ‘fridge-bottle test’, which offers a very simple way to assess the ageing potential of a wine. Drink a little less than half the bottle of wine then re-cork the rest and put it into the fridge. Over the next few days take a small sample each day and taste the wine. Re-cork the bottle again and replace it in the fridge. If it gets better over the days following opening it has still got many years of life and improvement ahead of it. If it improves the next day, then falls apart on the second day then it has a short life ahead; perhaps a year or two. We generally say a year or two for each

Château Feely virtual wine tastings have proven a hit but some ageing questions keep coming up. Caro Feely answers them here in our regular wine feature.

day of improvement. A wine that is better after 5 days has 5 to 10 years of ageing potential.

When should I decant?

If you have time to appreciate your wine over the course of the evening, there is no need to decant, as it will be fun to see the evolution over time. However, if you have six people to dinner and the bottle will be finished after one pour, then decanting a young wine (particularly a red) for aeration, to ensure that the single pour is at its best, can be a good idea. A young wine can improve significantly with aeration. Sometimes strange or ‘off’

smells like rotting cabbage or excessive earthiness can be signs of reduction (too little oxygen) which will be easily resolved by a good aeration.

What difference does the vintage make?”

It can actually make a lot of difference. Certain vintages will age better than others because grapes express themselves differently in different conditions – e.g. cooler or warmer conditions, more or less water, etc.

How should I store my wine?

Lying down if it has a cork, standing up if it has a screw cap – ideally at a constant temperature of 12-14° Celsius, with some humidity (not too dry) and no vibration.

Should I aerate or decant an old wine?

The short answer is “No”. An old wine is too fragile to be decanted in the standard way, so if it is to be decanted it should be poured carefully into a narrow decanter to remove the

living wine | 43 Château Feely are specialists in virtual wine events for private parties and team-building. If you are looking for a fun way to get your family, friends or work team together visit www.chateaufeely. com for details. They also offer accommodation, wine tours, vineyard walks and an accredited Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) wine school: Stretch your wine world with a 3-day course on French wine (all year round) or go further with wines of the world on the WSET Level 2 (dates online). Keep in touch via their newsletter or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

sediment, then served soon after. A wide-bottom decanter will give it too much air and will kill an old wine. What is ‘old’? It depends on the wine style (e.g. for a really high tannin wine like Barolo it would be longer, and less for a low tannin wine like Grenache) but I would not decant a red wine that is more than 8 years old into a wide decanter.

Our region has a great variety of fabulous wines for ageing, with Cabernet Sauvignon red blends and Sémillon dry and sweet whites. If you have the space for it I highly recommend doing the fridge bottle test on some of your favorites and stocking up. Here’s to a great spring! Wishing you and yours a springtime packed with fine wine, friends and freedom.

Discover Our Local Wines 100% Malbec & 100% Merlot


Domaine la Prenellerie

SCEA Billonneau, 17120 Epargnes Along the coast, south of Royan Tel: 06 08 33 00 80 Visits & tastings welcome (preferably on Saturday morning or call to make a reservation)

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Changing Places Located in northern Dordogne roughly midway between Angoulême and Bergerac, and with Périgueux as its nearest big town, Ribérac has long a history. It began well before a walled castrum appeared in 10th century documents as ‘Castellum Ribairac’, a corruption of ‘ribiera’, meaning ‘land of riverbanks’. Sure enough, Ribérac sits beside the River Dronne, whose minor tributary the Ribéraguet passes largely unnoticed through the very heart of the town. You’ll look in vain, though, for the old town walls which were hastily added after Viking invaders sailed up the Dronne during the 9th century, pillaging communities along the way. Another once-prominent feature which has vanished is the Château de Ribérac, a moated fortress constructed around the 14th century, decimated during the Wars of Religion and finally demolished in the 19th century. The town achieved considerable influence, however, as sous-préfecture between 1800 and 1926. Today we can see evidence of the resulting lengthy period of prosperity in the surprisingly grandiose architecture lining not only the broad central thoroughfare of Place National but

ribérac (24)

We visit a riverside market town bursting with real character

also Rue du 26 Mars 1944 and many of the side streets, too. Here wealthier property owners embellished many of their extravagantly sculpted pale stone facades with full-length balconies featuring ornate wrought ironwork. What’s more, the overall effect isn’t compromised at ground level, since many of the diverse assortment of businesses represented have retained their original retro appearances. Tucked away in Rue Couleau is another architectural survivor. The Théâtre de Ribérac, a former church completed in 1731, is today the subject of a rescue campaign by Les Amis du Vieux Théâtre, who have big plans for the forlorn structure. The town’s oldest surviving monument, though, is in fine shape. The Collégiale Notre-Dame was founded in the 12th century as the chapel of the chateau and became a collegiate church around 400 years later. Its robust construction enabled it to survive the Wars of Religion, and it eventually became a parish church, before being abandoned in 1935. Now sensitively restored, it contains 17th century wall paintings and contemporary stained glass (a total contrast to its 1930s Art

Déco inspired replacement, l’Église Notre-Dame de la Paix). Today Ribérac’s resident population of around 3,800 is served by impressive medical facilities, including a modern hospital complex and a specialist centre for cranial trauma victims. The town centre hosts regular Friday morning markets, adding Tuesday mornings during May-August in Place de la Liberté. Leisure-wise, there’s a cinema plus a season of events promoted by a cultural forum, including wide-ranging creative workshops, live music events, exhibitions and more.

Making connections Distances/drive-times by road from Ribérac 24600 Brantôme: 37km/42min Périgueux: 38km/45min Bergerac: 51km/57min Angoulême: 58.5km/1hr 1min 104km/1hr 34min Bordeaux: TER & TGV rail services: TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine services from Gare SNCF de Chalais (22.8km) to Angoulême, Limoges, Poitiers, Royan, etc. TGV services from Angoulême to Paris, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Bayonne, etc.

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St Maurice des Lions (16), nr Confolens. 5-bed cottage with beautiful lake views. Basement, garage/boiler room, oil heating, old septic tank, well with motor pump, adjoining land set on 743m2.

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Confolens (16), close to all shops, semidetached house, withall comforts. 2 bedrooms, septic tank, adjoining garden with well and shed, Set on 374m2 .

Ref: 9154-EY 318,000€ HAI DPE: Vierge Stunning, partially renovated,6-bedroom water mill with large sitting/dining room and new kitchen with aga. In the basement is a garage and a room housing four turbines, along with an old kitchen area and wine cellar. Long, tree-lined driveway and lovely river views. Taux d’honoraires 18,000€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

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55 000€ HAI

(50 000€ plus 10% fees payable by buyer)

Edge of Confolens (16). 3 houses. Habitable 2-bed house with attic, elec. heating, garage. To renovate: 4-room and 3-room houses. Mains drains, garden, all set on 1011m2.

Ref. 34191

DPE: n/a

162 000 € HAI

(150 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Hiesse (16). 9km from Confolens. Well renovated detached village house, 2 beds, electric heating, mains drains, store room, bread oven, attached barn, well, adjoining land set on 1631m2. Ref: 9176-EY 159,000€ HAI DPE: Vierge Attractive 3-bedroom former railway cottage close to a lively little village with a shop and a bar/café. There is an attached garage and just over a quarter of an acre of garden. Taux d’honoraires 9,0000€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

Ref. 34156

DPE: n/a

60 500€ HAI

(55 000€ plus 10% agency fees payable buyer)

Oradour Fanais (16), nr Confolens in a rural village. Semi-detached habitable farmhouse, 1 bedroom, attic, oil heating, old septic tank, attached barn, adjoining land set on 1198m2.

Ref. 34163


259 200€ HAI

(240 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Benest (16), 7kms from Champagne Mouton. 4-bed farmhouse set on approx 13 acres. Attic, oil heating, septic tank, garage, 3 big detached barns, pool, 2 wells, adjoining land.

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

Ref: 8974-EY 199,000€ HAI DPE: D Pretty bungalow with beautiful views over the vineyards.The property comprises a lounge, kitchen with dining area & three bedrooms. Attached garage and an 8x4 meter pool with roman steps set in just under an acre of garden. Taux d’honoraires 13,019€ (7%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

L i ving


Patricia VANDEBROUCK 06 85 79 24 25

Ref: 18470

€199,000 FAI

Near AULNAY (17). Great potential - 5-bed traditional house with gite in popular tourist village, set on 2,600m2 of land DPE vierge

Ref: 22872

€148,000 FAI

Nr BRioUx sUR BoUtoNNe (79). tastefully restored - 5 rooms inc. 3-beds on ground floor. Attic. Courtyard. opposite, outbuildings and garden of 1,480m². DPE D

Ref: 23745

€79,800 FAI

Nr CHeF BoUtoNNe (79) - traditional 4-room farm with outbuildings and attic to convert. Good potential,all on 1,400m² of land DPE vierge

€94,500 FAI

Ref: 23928

Nr BeAUvoiR-sUR-NioRt (79) - on 6300m2 land, needs internal work but good structure. outbuildings. DPE D

€105,000 FAI

Ref: 23820

Nr CHiZe (79). 5-room restored house with attic to convert. second house to restore, outbuildings with potential, set on 2,893m2. DPE n/a

€75,000 FAI

Ref: 23900

Nr BRioUx sUR BoUtoNNe (79) Magnificent 3-bed detached house in great condition. 3 garages, jacuzzi - fenced and landscaped grounds of 1,609m². DPE B

Beaux Villages IMMOBILIER

We are pleased to announce that we are now the International Associate for Savills in south west France As ‘best in class’ for international property sales, Savills brand values of quality of service and integrity chime perfectly with our own. We are actively looking for new properties to fulfil existing demand. We have particular interest in manor houses, estates and châteaux. 0033 (0)8 05 69 23 23 Idimmo, Prestige & Châteaux 42 Rue Grosse Horloge, 17400 St Jean D’Angély. Tel: +33 (0)5 16 51 90 52

€205,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 5709: This charming house dates from the early 1800s and hasn’t changed much since! Still elegant, this old lady needs some care and updating. 2 beds on the ground floor, 4 beds upstairs plus an attic room. Garden, outbuilding and a large wooded park. DPE D

€350,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6934: Recently renovated with spacious reception rooms, open plan living on the ground floor. 5 beds on 1st and 2nd floors. 145m2 house to renovate. Various outbuildings, 93m2, 70m2, 60m2 and 36m2. Set on 4056m2 with building permission included. DPE D

€129,600 FAI

Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

€360,400 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6838: Elegant 6-bed Maison de Maitre with elegant reception rooms and the possibility of further extension into the attached barns. 87m2 gite, with own garden area. Large outbuilding. Must be seen! DPE D

Idiade 6877: Lovely cottage feel to this pretty 2-bed house and garden. Kitchen and lounge on the ground floor, with access to the garden and walled terrace through French doors. Upstairs are 2 bed/ 2 baths plus dressing room. Open attached 29m2 barn. A very pretty property, perfect for a ‘lock up and leave’ or a full time home. DPE E

50 | living in the garden

in the garden

Irrigation taken seriously, La Bambouseraie en Cévennes

Super Grass A useful and plentiful building material

They include the fastest-growing plants on Earth, but chosen wisely, bamboos can still find a place in most gardens

Canes have a multitude of uses in the garden

living in the garden | 51

Some varieties are multicoloured


Bamboos can provide screening and shelter

he landscaping aspect of garden design is nothing new. We might never know whether or not the Hanging Gardens of Babylon ever actually existed, but we do know that the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans devoted much time and effort to creating gardens as expressions of their social status and aesthetic awareness. Here in France when the occupying Romans departed they left behind them a host of abandoned villas, many of whose enclosed gardens would live on as monastic cloisters. In time, when the constant threat of invasion gave way to relative stability, gardens could finally escape their secretive walled settings and begin to make their mark on the landscape. Inspired by the efforts of the aristocracy, wealthy landowners seized the opportunity to add elegantly

landscaped areas within their hunting estates. The Renaissance chateaux of the Loire Valley and their showpiece formal gardens were obviously the result of Italian influences, but owners and garden designers eventually started to look further afield for more exotic species to spice up their planting plans. They found just what they were looking for in the Far East, particularly China and Japan, many of whose most striking plant species were also sufficiently frost-hardy to make them perfectly viable in the French climate. Particularly promising were bamboos, since many varieties were not only fast-growing, but also had the potential to head skywards to 3.5m or more, given the right conditions. After all, what gardener could resist the appeal of near-instant results?

HOMME VERT Garden design, hard landscape construction and planting service based in Montmoreau (16). Kew trained, RHS show garden contractor & designer, 30+ years’ experience. Full references available. Richard 07 88 29 54 37 Siret: RCS Angoulême 851 973 198 00019

Fast-forward to present times and we find bamboos everywhere, not least since there are now so many varieties available that just about any garden can accommodate them. Hillier’s Manual of Trees & Shrubs describes them as being “among the most beautiful and elegant of all evergreens”. That said, selecting a variety which will suit our situation is something which needs careful thought, if we’re to avoid a decorative asset becoming an invasive liability. You might not be too surprised to learn that bamboos are members of the grass (Gramineae or Poaceae) family. They’re therefore lime-tolerant, and most are dependably hardy – in fact, any plants which appear to have taken a hit during an exceptional cold-snap should simply regenerate from beneath the soil. With that in mind, if you plan to plant


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Show how much you Living at

Black-stemmed bamboo shoots

52 | living in the garden Trachycarpus is a perfect companion plant

a bamboo (or any other species) in a container, you need to select one which is hardier than would be acceptable for planting direct in the garden, since soil temperatures are less affected by frosts and chill winds than tubs or other containers. In fact, bamboos in general will do much better in a sheltered position away from prevailing winds, as new shoots can grow up to 1m in a single day, and reach their ultimate height in just 40-60 days. If they’re bowed like bananas by strong winds before hardening-off then they’ll never straighten.

don’t miss!

Domaine de Boisbuchet

As many gardeners will already know, Bamboo is a material which lends itself to all kinds of uses. Transformed into a simple daily object, a tool or a decorative item, it can easily last for a century, or simply be discarded as a single-use object, for example away after a meal. Learn more about bamboo’s wideranging applications by joining a week-long residential workshop at this 150ha creative centre in Northern Charente. Make small domestic objects such as containers, clothing, jewellery, toys, kitchen items, table ware, etc. Full details: a-souvenirs-manufactory/

The plant world’s most meteoric growth potential isn’t merely confined to height. We’re dealing with plants whose root system takes the form of fleshy rhizomes, whose nodes send out subterranean side-shoots not unlike the canes (or ‘culms’) we see above ground. These in turn will send up more canes to nourish them, a process which in time will establish a whole colony of rhizomes. It can take around 75 years before seeds are produced, so ‘new’ plants sold in garden centres will have been produced from divided rhizomes. Plant one in your own garden and you’ll soon see why so many people become captivated by them: bamboos are fascinating plants to grow. Don’t expect the existing stem(s) of any plant you’ve planted in autumn to put on any further growth, as they’re more concerned with sending nourishment to the rhizome below. When springtime comes the first new shoot should emerge, its diameter the same as the cane it will shortly become. After 60 days its growth will be complete and leaves will emerge, feeding more nourishment down to the rhizome. From then on each passing year will produce further, more vigorous shoots, each creating correspondingly taller and thicker canes until your bamboo grove has reached maturity (typically after 7-10 years). At that point you’ll pretty much know what you’re up for, in both the height and diameter of the canes, and can appreciate the

increasingly striking decorative contribution they bring to the garden. If, however, you feel they’ve reached a point at which they need to be dissuaded from taking over, see our fact file notes on Care and Management. Not that the decorative qualities of bamboo are simply about scale and form. The numerous species originally documented in China and Japan have now been joined by those native to South America and many other territories. Between them they present us with a dazzling choice of colours, from subtle greens and blues to vibrant reds and yellows, often with the addition of contrasting spots, grooves (‘sulci’) or nodal ridges. In addition there are also elegantly understated dark-stemmed varieties, from rich purple/browns to glossy jet black. While classed as evergreen, new leaves appear each spring, their arrival overlapping the previous year’s foliage and replacing faded golden yellows with fresh, vibrant greens rich in chlorophyll to restore photosynthesis. Dead leaves which fall to the ground should be left in situ to decay and release silica and other valuable nutrients into the soil around the rhizomes. Look at suppliers’ catalogues and you’ll discover that there’s a bamboo for all kinds of situations, from dramatic, billowing lakeside groves to more mundane screening, not to mention dwarf cultivars suitable for borders and parterres. In fact, given

living in the garden | 53

Sculptural qualities exploited at Chaumont-sur-Loire

the space and enthusiasm, anything is possible, as you’ll see if you visit a garden in which bamboo takes centre stage. Le Jardin Exotique de la Bambousaie, for example, occupies a five-hectare site overlooking the Dordogne river at La Roque-Gageac (24). With over a century of growth behind them, the collection (sourced from Asia and America) includes some real giants of around 20m in height. The bamboos are accompanied by other exotic species including Trachycarpus fortunei Wagnerianus palms: Meanwhile, near Matha (17) you can visit La Bambouseraie Brisson, and immerse yourself in the serene setting of 60 colourful bamboo species, most of which are native to south east Asia. The supporting cast includes 30 or so summer-flowering Mediterranean plants chosen for their vibrant colours. More: Sooner or later, however, you just have to head down to Générargues (30). Here you’ll come face to face with the astonishing Bambouseraie en Cévennes, established in 1856 by horticulturist Eugène Mazel, who began planting exotic species native to

30 mins around Montbron (16)

Bamboos are happy in most situations, including our own, generally slightly alkaline soils, as long as they’re well drained. In time they will actually enrich any soil which is low in nutrients. While they will tolerate shade, they really prefer to receive at least a few hours of each day in direct sunlight. A key point to bear in mind is that the root system of rhizomes and connecting runners remains within 35cm or so of the surface. This means

David Cropper

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that to contain a clump you can either dig a slightly deeper trench around them and intercept any runners, or bury a small barrier of some sort to thwart their future expansion plans. It nevertheless pays to keep a watchful eye on the area around a clump, to spot any escapee shoots as soon as they emerge from the soil. They’re very tender at first (some are edible, in fact) so topping them is easy and seems to halt further growth of the cane.

Cognac Garden & Services Competitively priced professional garden service around Cognac From lawn-mowing to stump grinding, I can help you. Fully equpped for regular visits or one-off projects. Just call or email to discuss. Trustworthy home care and key holding service. Paul Allen Siret No: 812 610 921 RM016

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The ultimate grass meadow, at La Bamouseraie en Cévennes

China, Japan, North America and the Himalayas on a sheltered site between Anduze (home of the world-famous earthenware garden planters) and the former mining town of Alès. Now a well-deserved possessor of ‘Plus Beaux Jardins de France’ and ‘National Park Spirit’ labels, the Bambouseraie is also listed by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. There’s a lot to see, not least a veritable forest of bamboos soaring to 25m, although that’s nothing compared to an avenue of 100 year-old Sequoias currently nudging 40m and destined to rise still higher. There’s also a bamboo


Call a Kiwi

labyrinth, a Japanese garden, a faithful recreation of a Laotian village and much more, courtesy of well over 200 tree and shrub varieties including camelia, Japanese maple, ginkgo and of course bamboo. More: Visits like these will leave you in no doubt as to why so many people have developed a lifelong passion for these fascinating exotic plants – and you’ll never look at grasses quite the same way again.

T: +33(0)6 61 03 44 40 • E:


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elcome to our comprehensive 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 thousands of 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. “Your expertise with advertising is surpassing my expectations. Lots of new clients now finding me via Living. Thank you!” Karen Jones, Solutions “The majority of clients who find me through adverts are from Living. The area the magazine covers is vast which is why I am a long term advertiser.” David Cropper, Stump Grinding

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

Cafe Cour du Miracle Vouvant

Cafes & Bars

Come along for a beer, a glass of wine, a cup of English tea and a slice of homemade cake, or a delicious home-cooked lunch. Vegetarian options available. Open 11.00am to 6.00pm - until 10pm Friday evening Tel: 02 51 00 54 93 Closed Monday & Tuesday

Cafés and Food

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from our fields to your table We offer FREE delivery, available to most areas in 16, 87, 24, parts of 86


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provides a complete range of pork produce from our own pigs including GAMMON JOINTS & STEAKS,

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If you, or someone you know, has a drinking problem, join one of the English-speaking AA meetings across the south west of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety. Tel: Angela on 05 49 87 79 09 or Roger on 05 55 76 22 65

Siret: 813 442 860 00017


Did you know?


There are Englishspeaking lodges in France. Our lodge in Cognac (16) meets 6 times a year. If you would like to find out more, email: Freemasonry in France

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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

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Agence Michallon Tel:

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.

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These local businesses are waiting for your call!

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

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AVIVA offers Motor, House and Contents, Health, Business Liability and Business Premises Insurance as well as Life Insurance and Savings products. Ask for free, no obligation quotes.


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Transport Services

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

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Garden waste, barns etc. cleared Unoccupied holiday homes checked For enquiries & rates tel: 07 72 38 84 60 09 63 68 12 49

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RELAX. REPLENISH. REWIND. Easy to install in even the most remote locations of the quietest air bubble systems on the market Efficient wood-fired boiler - minimal electricity used for bubbles and LED lighting Robust wood and fibreglass construction means years of weather-resistant service Thoughtful design ensures they are hygienic and easy-to-clean Comfortable seating allows users to immerse their shoulders, perfect all year round Bespoke range of options and colour combinations

siret: 879 912 855

For more information, please contact Nicola or Tim: E: T: 07 49 19 46 84 FB: HotTubsinFrance

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For Outside Living


HOME SWEET (COLOURFUL?) HOME It would be fair to say that most of us have spent much more time this year at home than normal....and for many of us the enforced lockdown gave us the opportunity to give our homes a little TLC. We ourselves did plenty of painting & decorating, especially during the early weeks, and decided to use strong, bold colours - not our normal style but perhaps it was a reaction to the situation we were unconscious decision to lift the spirits! We are slowly seeing some more colour coming back into carpets too....not everything has to be grey or beige! Look at these 2 of our suppliers – Adam Carpets & Westex Carpets – literally hundreds of colours across their ranges, all available anywhere in France. If you want to see samples of these, or any other examples, give us a call and we’ll make a free, no obligation visit. Makes yours a HOME SWEET (COLOURFUL?) HOME this year!


Fraser W. Eade


MV Services

Jeff’s Metalwork


General Engineering Turning, Milling, Welding


For all your flooring needs

• We supply and fit a range of carpets to suit all budgets • We also fit amtico, vinyl, wood and ceramic tile • Over 25 years experience, 100% customer satisfaction • Now selling a selection of wool and mixed fibre rugs Contact Paul on 06 60 07 54 78 or 05 45 84 27 75

Quality & Precision Guaranteed Forgeix, 87200 Saint Junien

05 55 71 41 75 Siret: 512 945 874 00018

Ornate interior / exterior designs Gates constructed / refurbished Industrial furniture General Welding ~ Over 25 year’s experience ~ Tel: 06 17 73 56 87 Mob: 07 77 83 77 10 or 0044 7917 03 02 49

Siret: 827 978 636 00013

Flooring, Metal Work, Scaffolding

L’Atelier de Fer

Les Rivières, 19260 TREIGNAC

• Tube & Fitting Scaffold • Free Quotations • Fully Insured

Mick Van Ackeren T: 07 50 63 19 37


Plumbing Bathroom & kitchen installations Building maintenance

BECK CHERRY PICKER HIRE Nacelle Telescopique

Fully insured with over 15 years’ experience Covering dept. 16

17m tracked cherry picker with IPAF operator For all exterior works: roofing, painting, tree cutting etc. Hourly, daily or weekly rates Based in south 86, can transport as required

Siret: 830691044

Contact Kai for all jobs Mob: 06 83 17 19 77 E: FB: @Amoshandyman16 Tel: 07 84 12 44 97


Metalwork, Fencing, Artisans

Covering 79, 86, 16 & 17

PRE-loved to RE-loved Robert Mann Upholstery Service Tel: 05 49 80 32 34 Email:

Upholstery of antiques, car interiors, caravan interiors, lounge suites, chairs, bedheads...

Deux-Sèvres (will travel within reason) - Siret: 820 918 316 00010

Siret: 851 051 334

Plant Hire, Artisans


E: 09 63 56 23 10 / 06 42 19 82 12

Robert Mann Upholstery Service robmannupholstery

These local businesses are waiting for your call!




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

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


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

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:


SEAN THEOBALD Carpenter All elements of 1st and 2nd fix carpentry undertaken

All aspects of property and garden including renovations, maintenance and repair 25 years’ experience Quality work at realistic prices Based near Civray (86) Email: Tel: 05 49 97 58 17 or 07 22 70 76 93 Sirets Alan: 789 292 232 00012 Russ: 889 622 213 00011

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

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 southwestfrancefosse

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Building services, Artisans

South West France Fosse

See all our work on

Building services, Artisans

Imajica Joinery

Graham Medhurst Renovations


Siret 800 969 438 00020

JM Roofing Carpentry ~ Roofing

Clay Tile Roofs All Timberwork Metal Sheet Hangars Full 10 Year Décennale Insurance French & English Speaking Depts covered 16, 17, 24, 79, 86, 87

All Zinc Work Velux Windows Exterior Insulation T. 07 70 37 15 98 Email:


Building services, Artisans

depts 79, 86 & 16

Andy Quick

The Roofing & Renovation Company Established in 2007, registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance

Siret: 499 474 302 00035

Building services, Artisans

E: ~ T: 05 49 27 22 67


Assurance Décennale

Quality Roofing & Building

for you

New roofs ~ Slate and tiling Fibreglass flat roofing ~ Repairs Gutters and facias UPVC or zinc All leadwork ~ Timberwork References available 05 45 63 52 88 / 07 80 08 85 76

Siret 53210969100024 These local businesses are waiting for your call!



UPVC windows, doors & ConserVatories sPeCialists

10 year warranTy on all products installed

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

~ Covering south west franCe ~

Tel: 05 46 70 25 87



A1SL COUVERTURE is a new French based company serving dept. 79, 86, 16, 17, 87, 85, 24 & 33 with well-established roofing experience previously based in Merseyside, UK. We pride ourselves on top quality workmanship and excellent customer service. We have built a solid reputation over 25 years in the UK and receive most of our work from customer recommendations. WE COVER ALL ASPECTS OF ROOFING WORK FROM SMALL DOMESTIC REPAIRS, ROOF CLEANING AND LARGE NEW ROOF PROJECTS UTILIZING CLAY TILES AND SLATE; SPECIALIST IN LEAD WORK.

Mobile: + 33.(0). Email:

Registered with the Repertoire des Métiers, siren: 877 636 050

• block work • plastering • kitchen and bathroom installation • tiling • roof repairs • patios terraces • painting and decorating

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

website: email:

07 82 19 22 37



Do you have a DIY job that you are unable to do or don’t want to do?

ReIiable, Affordable Maintenance & Renovation Service

Depts 16 & 17

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

Decorating Ceramic Tiling u Dry Lining u Wooden Floors u Decking and Patios u Bathroom & Kitchens u Stone pointing u & lots more...

Adrian Butterfield

u u

Siret 482 718 640 00022

• pointing/rendering

R J Coulson

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

Contact John Pearson www.hmjmaintenanceservice. E: M: +33 (0)6 18 42 24 49 T: +33 (0)9 81 37 43 95 Work area 79/85/49, based 79380

Do you need help with:

• • •

Odd jobs Tiling, Painting Plumbing Plastering, Rendering • Kitchen fitting, Carpentry • Sandblasting • General Maintenance Call Adrian on 05 49 69 00 24 or 06 41 55 85 35, or email: for a FREE estimate Over 20 year’s experience Siret: 843 784 638 00010


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


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



Quote 'Living' to help keep this magazine free for readers

Building services, Artisans

• renovations and refurbishments

Covering 1h radius around Mareuil 24340

~ Free quotes ~ Decennial insurance

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

• complete range of building services

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

Siret: 789 563 392 00016


Kitchens & Bathrooms from A-Z

Building services, Artisans


IK-ROOFING Renovations / new builds Roof repairs Velux installation Guttering Insurance claims


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

Building services, Artisans

Building services, Artisans


Adrian Amos Barry Baldwin Specialist Carpenter/Joiner Bespoke Joinery & Renovations Doors - Shutters - Stairs Flooring - Kitchens

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

Cabinet Maker & Joiner Furniture Restoration Manufacture of staircases, doors & cupboards 16240 La Fôret de Tesse T: 05 45 30 39 85 Covering depts 16, 79 & 86

05 45 31 14 58 / 06 63 20 24 93

ANDY MS Multi Services

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

website: email:

Ambroise PRÉE

Plumbing - Heating Chimney sweeping


Full service with certificate (boiler, fuel, wood, gaz) Installation of Wood Burners Registerer RGE QUALIBOIS Fully insured with over 15 years’ experience Tel: 06 58 86 55 91

30km around 86400 (Saint Macoux)

English spoken

Siret: 831 980 487 00019

Experienced, French Registered Electrician

ADAM BLACKABY Artisan Peintre T: 05 45 98 07 25 M: 06 23 18 30 95

Siret: 441 490 992 00027

Jb Plumbing Kitchen & Bathroom installation Tiling Plumbing Repairs Tel: 06 29 90 24 89 E: Based in dept 79 near Sauzé-Vaussais Fully insured Siret: 804 390 862 000 14

Tel 05 17 30 18 35 Mobile 06 33 85 65 66

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

Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne

Siren: 478 608 185 00011

Siret 49376573200015

Peter Amor Electrician

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

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

Conformity Inspections

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

Insurance, Help & Advice


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

Areas 16, 17, 24, 33, 79, 86 Siret: 804476 034 00017



Siret: 508 248 747 000 18

SIRET: 513 577 809 00017

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

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

living music | 65



he recent periods of confinement have taught us many things, and have been particularly hard to endure for those of us whose lives have been enriched by making and sharing live music. With no clear picture of when life will finally get back to normality, we have to look hard to find a silver lining in this particular cloud. On the other hand, for anyone who has ever planned to learn to play an instrument one day, or perhaps discover their vocal potential, now could actually be the perfect moment, so let’s look at what’s involved. Your own musical tastes might well suggest your preferred instrument, particularly if you tend to glaze over at the thought of anything involving musical theory. If so, then you’re not alone, judging by the recent revival in popularity of the ukelele, probably the nearest thing to a pick-it-up-and-play instrument. To get started you’ll find lots of lessons on YouTube, and with millions of views you can bet that they will keep coming. Then, when we can socialise again, just grab your ‘uke’, join a club and play along in the relaxed company and support of others who have done the same. A similar comment applies to singing, as you’ll discover if you search YouTube for ‘vocal training’ or ‘singing lessons’. Alternatively, join group singing sessions, organised with social distancing measures, by a professional vocal coach. Once life returns to normality you might like to use your new-found confidence to join a choir or

DIY TIME? With time on our hands, there’s a more rewarding alternative to the radio

vocal group and perhaps discover the buzz of live performances. Music has always been a very social activity, and is in the blood of some families, who pass on skills through each generation. In fact, that’s something which lies at the very heart of the folk tradition, where music is the result of an instinctive, spontaneous approach – ‘played by ear’, if you like. However, while truly great performers might look as though they’re just powering it out effortlessly, you can bet that what you’re watching is the result of long and dedicated practice. With that in mind, if you’re starting from scratch take things nice and easy. Be prepared to put a bit of effort into getting a really good feel for the basics. If you’re more comfortable with a formal approach to learning then you

probably already have an idea of what musical genre and instrument might be right for you. While you could be in more challenging waters, there are compensations: a piano keyboard, for example, presents all the notes laid before you, with sharps and flats picked out clearly in black (a gift when you get to grips with ‘sheet music’). Other instruments, at least initially, are less obliging, although if you play something often enough ‘muscle memory’ kicks in, storing away what you’ve learnt, ready to deploy it later, almost without thinking, during your playing. That’s something which not only underpins improvised soloing but is also a necessary accomplishment if you plan to sight-read from a printed score. So, music has something for everyone, and making it can be a lifelong journey.

for more cartoons by stig see


Sell all types of pianos Traditional & modern uprights BABY GRANDS All professionally restored & guaranteed With a lifetime experience in the piano trade, ex-BBC Piano Tuner We are Specialists in piano restorations on all types of pianos Also Tuning and small repairs

16, 17, 79 and west Vienne

Tel: 05 45 21 16 13 E: SIRET: 51031234100017

66 | living Language



ithout doubt, some of my favourite expressions that get lost in translation are those euphemistic and metaphorical ones with which native speakers seem to pepper their conversations, leaving the rest of us reeling in confusion. Translation is much simpler without metaphor, that’s for sure. Even in that opening paragraph, you probably missed ‘to pepper’ and ‘to reel’. You’d think that you might be able to make a verb out of pepper, even if you have to do a little butchery. Poivre could surely give us poivrer, no? To hear some of the senior British politicians speaking French with their improver and other made-up attempts, you’d surely think so. It’s these tricky expressions, however, that make language difficult to translate exactly. Do I mean agrémenter, with its sense of brightening up, embellishing or decorating? Dare I even go as far as to say ‘spicing up’ speech? Do I mean something more akin to parsemer, giving us metaphorical notions of casting seed about? Or do I mean saupoudrer, which comes from sel and poudre meaning to powder with salt? You can see why a translator might be driven to distraction even over the daily metaphors we use in our language. Of course, there are many euphemisms relating to death and disease, as well as in everyday language. Il a rejoint les étoiles is one common expression: ‘he’s met the stars’. This certainly doesn’t mean your neighbour has gone off for a weekend in Hollywood. If you wanted to be crude, you could always say your recently deceased neighbour is now eating dandelions by the roots. Il mange des pissenlits par la racine is probably

most similar to the British expression of ‘pushing up daisies’ or ‘being six feet under’. These euphemisms can be found in all walks of life, as well as in death. Vos tarifs évoluent is one of my favourites. This phrase means ‘your fees are evolving’ as a straightforward translation, but is usually used to mean they’re going up. Knowing equivalent expressions can always help. Take ‘he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer’. Translating that into French would make no sense whatsoever. Not only that, it’s not even a universally accepted English phrase. I’m sure many readers would go for ‘he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed’. There is a very similar expression in French, c’est pas le couteau le plus affûté du tiroir but you could also go with lots of other expressions to imply someone isn’t, well, the sharpest knife in the drawer, including other French ones that mean almost the same, such as pas le couteau plus fin du tiroir. Il n’a pas inventé la poudre or ‘he didn’t invent gunpowder’ is another one you can add to your insults about someone’s intelligence. Il n’a pas inventé l’eau chaude is another, literally ‘he didn’t invent hot water’. For some French, il n’a pas inventé l’eau tiède or ‘he didn’t invent

Language expert EmmaJane Lee on the joy of euphemisms warm water’ is more common than hot water. Obviously temperature counts. And if you want a really unusual one, il n’a pas inventé le fil à couper le beurre or, ‘he didn’t invent the butter slicer’. There are so many expressions about what someone didn’t invent that it borders on ridiculous. Not only did they not invent hot water, they didn’t invent warm water either. Not only did they not invent the butter slicer, but they also didn’t invent gunpowder. Of course, we have similar expressions in English, but they don’t always mean the same thing. One is the notion of sliced bread in English, ‘the greatest thing since sliced bread’. In French, sliced bread references are more usually reserved to insults about intelligence, c’est pas lui qui a inventé le pain tranché. He wasn’t the guy who invented sliced bread. If you want to say something is the greatest thing since sliced bread in French, you’re going to have to get your buttons out, since the expression is more likely to be la meilleur invention depuis le bouton à quatre trous, the best thing since the invention of four-holed buttons. Euphemistic expressions about intelligence could probably fill up a dictionary all of their very own. While they may vary from country to country, they’re at least likely to give you a chuckle even if they aren’t the most polite expressions around. Translation might be simpler without all these turns of phrase, but language would certainly be poorer without them. Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, writing English textbooks, translating, marking exam scripts and teaching languages. She lives near La Rochefoucauld with her growing menagerie. See

L i ving

PUBLISHER: Kathryn Dobson FEATURES EDITOR: Roger Moss Advertising: Jon Dobson Art editor: Nadia Van den Rym Production: Justin Silvester Regular contributors: Caro Feely, Susan Hays, Jessica Knipe, magazine Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Mike Morris, and Stig Tomas. WITH THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler, Julia Moss. Photography: Shutterstock or Roger Moss unless indicated. Cover image: Photo and design on the beach by Jben in collaboration with Les Huîtres Marennes Oléron

Published by: Anglo Media & MArketing, 2 Rue Buffefeu, 86400 Linazay FRANCE. Poitiers: 533 624 128 Printed by: Rotimpres S.A. Dépôt légal: A parution Issue: 76 ISSN: 2270-2709. Living is available by subscription ( Living est disponible par abonnement. 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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