Living Magazine - February / March 2022

Page 1

L i ving magazine

feb | march 2022

D esert D ash r4l: inspiring a new generation

Business Directory

Find the best local companies

in this issue: Biarritz Beckons Woodland blooms Origins of Emmaüs Recipes: Cheesy Treats

~ Passionate about life in south west France ~

living editor’s letter | 3


to our February/March issue ienvenue to our first edition of 2022! The team at LIVING hope that the new year finds you all well, as we hope that this is the one when we can finally start to return towards ‘normal’.

Jon and I started 2022 apart like so many other families over the past few years. Elderly parents suddenly needed my help in the UK, so Jon stayed in France to look after all the animals and keep things running. Instead of our children all coming home, they shared themselves between France and the UK and we had Christmas lunch via Zoom. Already a difficult situation, Brexit and COVID have conspired to make our lives more complicated than they ever were before, so it will take some time to establish what our new ‘normal’ is. Our plans are having to evolve as we consider how to manage the changing needs of all our family during the coming months. We know we are not alone in trying to muddle through it all, so to those facing the same challenges we say ‘courage’, and we hope that we’ll see you all on the other side of this journey. As I look out over a rainy Oxfordshire, it has been a pleasure to work on this edition of the magazine, its pages once more filled with sunshine, beautiful photographs and fascinating features. I love visiting Biarritz and I am sure you will too if you have not yet fallen for its charms, for it makes the perfect outof-season getaway destination. We look back at the history of the Renault 4L, the iconic, affordable car which is still going strong sixty years on, and we discover the history of Emmaüs, which is so much more than a second-hand store where bargains abound. We meet an expert in woodland flowers, have cheesy recipes for all, and discover the role wine has played in literature through the ages. This is all topped and tailed with local news and an amusing meander through a small corner of the French language. We hope we live up to our aim of ensuring that there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you relish your quiet time engrossed in LIVING, do please consider subscribing - the form is overleaf and our subscribers really do make a difference to the future of this independent magazine. We all know the impact that COVID and Brexit have had on promotion budgets across the board so you, our readers, can help by subscribing from only 30€ a year. This way you will always receive your own copy to your door, to help you make the most of living in our wonderful region.

A bientôt!


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4 | living contents


22 38


Out (and in) with the Old What is one family’s junk is another’s treasures


Puzzle Break Our unique crossword by Mike Morris


40 5



Snippets Local news from around the region


Follow the Sun Why not take a break in the sun and breeze down to Biarritz? Discover this jewel on the Atlantic coastline...


Renault 4L Roger Moss asks where next for the 4L, the small car with the big heart?


A Second Life Jessica Knipe discovers the fascinating history of Emmaüs


Echoes of the Past Look around for the colourful evidence of long-departed businesses...


Practical Advice Your questions answered

Nikki Legon’s Cuisine Cheesy recipes for winter menus


Wine & Literature Wine’s literary connections with Caro Feely


Living Property Pages


A profile of Nontron in Dordogne


Woodland Wildflowers Wildflowers to look out for in our woods and forests with Alan Waterman


For the Good Times British musicians appealing to French fans


Pardon! Following in Macron’s footsteps, Emma-Jane Lee considers the manners behind the insults

Business Directory

55-64 The best local services and suppliers are waiting for your call!

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advertising: or phone Jon on +33 (0)5 49 87 29 71


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L i v in g e magazin h 2022 feb | marc

Desert Dash r4l: insPiring a

new generation

ons Biarritz Beck ms Woodland Bloo aüs origins of emm treats recipes: cheesy

Business Directory

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News round up Charges for A&E

Hospitals now charge a fixed-rate fee if you go to Urgences but are not admitted. The sum of €19.61 will be covered by a top-up insurance policy if you have one. Previously the fee was higher and additional charges could be made for any treatments received but few people saw the costs as they were automatically reimbursed at 80% by social security, with the remainder usually paid by a mutuelle. Pregnant women and those with long-term illnesses (ALD) will be charged a reduced fee of €8.49. It is hoped this single fee will minimise administration for staff as well as being fairer, since some patients with COVID were receiving high bills as hospitals began to charge for every item used in their treatment.

Rental Ratings 2022 Calendar

2022 is another year when several bank holidays fall at weekends... Lundi de Pâques: Mon 18 Apr il Fête du Travail: Sun 1 May Victoire 1945: Sun 8 May Ascension: Thu 26 May Lundi de Pentecôte: Mon 6 Jun e Fête Nationale: Thu 14 July Assomption: Mon 15 August Toussaint: Tue 1 November Armistice 1918: Fri 11 Novem ber Noël: Sun 25 December Jour de l’an: Sun 1 January

Children at school in Zone A will break up on Fri 11 February for the winter holiday and return to school on Mon 28 February. For Zone B, they break up on Fri 4 February and return on Mon 21 February.

The number of thermal tests evaluated by the new DPE regulations that came into force on 1 July 2021 covered more areas than expected. The energy ratings run from A (best) to G (worst) and this information is now attached to all sale and rental agreements. Under the new climate law introduced in August, any property classified as G cannot be let after 1 January 2025. This impacts nearly 600,000 houses and flats across France, with many landlords opting to sell rather than pay for the necessary upgrades. From 2028, properties classified as F will face the same fate, and those classified as E follow in 2034. At the same time, rents for properties classed as F or G cannot be increased after 25 Aug 2022.

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

Electric Vehicles During a recent visit to the region, Minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, confirmed a 200-million-euro plan to construct charging points in car parks, streets and communal housing areas. He explained: “Today in France, a quarter of the cars sold are electric or hybrid. 10 years ago, this was only 3%. The development of charging points must be accelerated.” An additional 300 million euros has been allocated to developing terminals on major roads, particularly in rural areas, with a further 50 million dedicated to heavy goods vehicles.

Name Equality

At long last, it has been announced that French children will be able to use their mother’s surname or both their mother’s and father’s names in either order after campaigning by the group ‘Porte Mon Nom’. For many single mothers, having their children bear the surname of a long-departed father causes complex administrative issues. Details of when the bill is expected to pass are awaited.



Salon Made in France NouvelleAquitaine will showcase local artisans at the Palais de Congrès in Bordeaux from 11-13 March.

Population Growth A recent INSEE report has forecast that if recent demographic trends continue, the population in France will grow from an estimated 67.4 million today to 69.3 million in 2044. It would then start to decline to near current levels by 2070. Importantly for the economy, the population will continue to age (today there are 37 people over 65 for every 100 people aged 20-64). In 2040, this figure could rise to 51 people over 65. Beyond 2044 the ratios are harder to forecast, although it is expected that the proportion of over-75s would increase significantly.

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Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes Cognac Royan


Rouillac Jarnac



ANGOULEME Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne

News from around the region...

les charentes


After the arrival of the LGV in July 2017, it was hoped that travellers across the region would benefit from faster travel times, but poor connections at Angoulême are leaving them waiting for nearly an hour for onward trains. Ideally the wait should be 12-20 minutes to allow for less mobile people to change platforms, while any longer sees people driving from Cognac, Saintes, Royan etc. rather than taking the train. Pressure is being put on SNCF to overhaul the timetable for the summer season.

Blues Passions

The programme has been released for this year’s festival in Cognac, running from 6-10 July. Headliners include Simple Minds (above, Saturday 9 July) and Liam Gallagher (Sunday 10) as well as Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals (Thursday 7) and Francis Cabrel (Friday 8). Tickets are available on:

Tree Revival

As part of a drive towards more sustainable cognac production, Hennessy has begun a pilot test on its 180-hectare vineyard at Domaine de La Bataille in SaintPreuil (16). In an effort to promote biodiversity in an industry that has traditionally been seen as heavy users of herbicides and pesticides, the cognac house has planted over 5,000 trees representing 30 different species, and more than 4km of hedges across a 40-hectare plot. They have already achieved zero herbicides and are now evaluating the benefits to the soil and overall ecosystem of the tree and hedge planting. The results will be shared with their 1,600 partners who farm around 32,000 hectares of vines. Prom’Haies and LPO have both had input into the choice of species, which are representative of those found in the 1950s bordering traditional vineyards. It is hoped that the addition of trees and hedges will help to shelter the vines from the effects of climate change, protecting them from frosts and other extremes. The project will be followed for the next ten years and accompanied by a separate research project concerning mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.


The Fête du Mimosa 2022 takes place over the weekend of the 12/13 February at Saint-Trojan-les-Bains (17) with a brocante on Saturday and the costumed parade at 2pm on Sunday.

The Angoulême Festival de la Bande Dessinée has been delayed until the summer to comply with health regulations.

Remarkable Tastes

Visit Segonzac (16) over the weekend of 5/6 February to sample the wares of more than thirty emblematic food and drink producers from across France, while learning more about cognac production and tasting. A series of workshops (in French) will introduce you to cognac pairing, cocktails and floral art; just book in advance on the website. Then taste carefully-selected produce ranging from escargots to garlic, olives and prunes exhibited alongside several specialist wine and Armagnac producers. Entry is free, but a COVID pass is required. For full details see:

News from around the region...

Truce for Les Charentes

When Philippe Bouty became president of the Charente Conseil Départemental after a close-run race (which he won by 20 votes to 18), one of the first policies he recommended was to leave the recently formed Charentes Tourisme. This announcement was a shock to those concerned, having required significant investment over the past few years to bring the tourism policies and activities of the two departments together under a single banner. Six months on, and Stéphane Villain, president of Charentes Tourisme, is happy to announce that any difficulties have been overcome and that ‘Les Charentes’ will continue, while not limiting actions with neighbouring departments such as Dordogne and Haute-Vienne.

Water Quality

Cognac Golf Club

While the benefit to golf lovers around Cognac is clear, the municipal golf club at Saint-Brice has been causing the cashstrapped council a headache. With around €600,000 of maintenance work needed on the course and buildings, annual costs of around €50,000 add to the burden, yet only €15,000 rent charged to the management association. With an estimated market value of 2.5-3 million euros, it was decided that tenders should be sought, with the stipulation that the site needed to remain accessible to local residents. After several months of searching, an offer of 2.5 million euros by Savoie-based Loisirs Solutions is being considered by the council. For the company, this represents an important step towards diversifying their leisure portfolio away from mountain activities after the experience of the pandemic. They have committed to working with the existing association and restaurant and to continue to open to the general public.

More than a third of the drinking water consumed in Charente-Maritime is drawn from the Charente River at Coulonge-sur-Charente and Saint-Hippolyte. These 2 collection points supply nearly 300,000 inhabitants in the winter, particularly in and around Rochefort and La Rochelle, and this doubles in the summer. Much of the water in the Charente comes from surface water catchment areas, which can be polluted by nitrates and pesticides used locally. “Once or twice a month we test for 300 molecules. 26 are found there on average, ten of which exceed the authorised standards before treatment,” explained Guillaume Choisy, director of the Adour-Garonne Water Agency. In 2016 a 19-million-euro project was approved to reduce this pollution. A second project was recently agreed to spend an additional 15 million euros raised by taxes on local chemicals plus a levy on water withdrawals by operators. The objectives are ambitious: to further reduce nitrate levels and, more importantly, herbicides by 2026.









News from around the region...


Board games have seen a revival during the pandemic but buying new ones can soon add up, especially since some can only be played once. Two friends in Périgueux have set up a new association to loan out their collection of over 150 games. For only 25€ per year and a refundable deposit you can borrow 2 games every 2 weeks from Ludotek. The games are in French, so are also an ideal way to improve your language skills, too. Visit their website at to find out more and see the games available.


Flowering Fanlac

Floral Walks

As part of their successful bid to maintain the label ‘Département fleuri’, Dordogne has published a guide to the ten most beautiful walks around towns and villages in bloom across the Périgord. It is free to download from the website and each route is shown on a map with accompanying informative links and notes. The ‘Département fleuri’ label is valid for a further five years, Dordogne being one of only 17 departments to receive the honour, which also recognises the implementation of a zero pesticide charter, tree planting initiatives and more. Fitness programmes designed for you by Sam... Monday




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Total body workout: A full body weight workout with bands and balls. All levels welcome. Core: An efficient and safe workout targeting the local and global muscles of your core. All levels welcome. Personal training: Please contact Sam to arrange your free postural assessment today!

Bookings: For all bookings, please contact Sam Location: Top floor of the ‘Auberge Les Dimes’, 2 Grand Rue 24560 Issigeac Entrance on Rue de l’ancienne Poste Prices: 12€ for 45 mins classes, 15€ for 1 hr classes. Personal training, call for details Carnet: x5 classes @12€ = 50€, x5 classes @15€ = 60€ to redeem within 3 mths Capacity: max 10 students per class

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Panneau Pocket Bergerac gendarmes have been equipped with PanneauPocket, a real-time alert app which allows them to communicate with local residents who have signed up, as well as receive information from them (this can be sent anonymously). Locals can download the app and use it to alert the police to possible incidents, and police can reply directly or broadcast alerts. Since being approved for use, more than 7,300 organisations across France have introduced the app to offer an alternative to calling 17 or 112.

Info publiée le 6/1/2022

News from around the region...

Zones Blanches

150 mobile phone antennae are set to be built by the end of 2023 across Dordogne in an effort to improve mobile phone service. Currently, zones blanches exist across the département where it is impossible to pick up a phone signal. The antennae will mostly be built in 2023 according to department president Germinal Peiro, who has been fighting for phone companies to invest in Dordogne for several years. If you would like to see where your nearest antennae are, visit:

Lascaux 3

After an interlude due to the pandemic, Lascaux 3 has resumed its world tour. Renamed Lascaux Expériences, it aims to recreate the experience of visiting the cave on your own through virtual reality. Using the latest immersive technology, visitors are able to explore the entire cave, making the site accessible to as many people as possible without the risk of damage to the real site. In addition, there is a physical exhibition which presents the current understanding of the origins of the cave. The exhibition is currently located at the Préhistomuseum just outside Liège, Belgium, until early May.





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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



NIORT aise

Sévre Niort


News from around the region...

Deux-sèvres & Vendée

Le Grand Tour

Le Puy du Fou has announced a new project – a spectacular train journey lasting six days and five nights, touring key historic sites around France. Launching in the summer of 2023, thirty travellers will embark on this luxury journey aboard a Belle Epoque-style train featuring 15 cabins, two dining cars, a bar car and three staff carriages for the 15 crew. The smallest cabin will cost 4,900 euros per person for the trip. The 4,000km journey will include 11 emblematic sites at Paris, Beaune, Annecy, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Arcachon, Pauillac and Chenonceaux, and the venture has been made possible by the recent opening up to competition of the national rail network.

Happiest in all France According to the survey ‘Baromètre des

© le grand tour/le puy du fou

Territoires’ which asked 10,000 individuals for their views, inhabitants of Pays de la Loire believe that they are happier than other French regions. They are generally optimistic about their future and 81% consider themselves ‘happy’ against the average of 72% across France. 42% of Ligériens even consider themselves ‘very happy’. Half of the Ligérien respondents considered they have a rich social life, more than in any other region, and nearly 40% said their region has no faults, against an average of 30% throughout France.

Changing Landscapes

A recent agricultural census has revealed that the number of farms in Deux-Sèvres has fallen by more than a fifth between 2010 and 2020, from 6,440 to 4,900. This continues the trend seen from the 1970s when the département had more than 20,000 farms. On the other hand, those which remain have increased in size to an average of 89 hectares each, resulting in the overall amount of farmland being nearly the same at close to 446,000 hectares. Sheep farms have decreased the most, by at least 40%, with goat farms dropping by nearly a third which, given the importance of goat’s cheese to the département, has raised concerns. Two ends of the farming spectrum, market gardeners and largescale farms, have both seen growth, with one in four farms now being part of a larger structure.

Secular Statues

Quoting the 1905 law which separates the Church and the State, the Vendée branch of the ’Association de la Libre Pensée’ went to court to demand the removal of a Saint-Michel statue from a public space in Sablesd’Olonne and won. They had previously asked the Maire, Yannick Moreau, who installed the 19th century statue in 2018, to remove it but had been refused. Moreau has announced that he will appeal the decision, branding it an example of ‘cancel culture’.

Mother’s Day As it varies between countries, take care not to miss the day! UK - Sunday 27 March USA - Sunday 8 May France - Sunday 29 May

News from around the region...

Blue Economy

Wild Boar

There has been an increase in the number of accidents caused by sangliers in and around the Bocage Bressuirais in Deux-Sèvres as well as elsewhere in the department. Few population figures exist, but hunting records reveal that more than 2,200 animals were slaughtered in 2019, with over 4,000 killed in 2021 despite the number of hunting permits remaining similar. This population increase could be linked to mild winters with high acorn production, as well as abundant crops of corn, leading to sows producing three litters of seven to ten young per year, rather than the three to four per litter seen previously. Councils are now considering installing fences along major roads to prevent animals crossing.


Gunter Pauli’s ‘Blue Economy’ promotes a sustainable business model, creating innovative economic, societal and environmental value inspired by nature. Thirty business leaders from Vendée and LoireAtlantique, inspired by Pauli, have created Ruptur, an association to support and promote local businesses embracing these values. Ruptur now has 90 members, who are crossgenerational and from diverse backgrounds, and the first 6 businesses to bear the Ruptur label have been chosen. They will receive mentoring and financial support for their projects. Four of them are Vendée businesses: Alegina (recycling oyster shells), Les Repairables (textile repair), E-Néo (conversion of vehicles to electricity or hydrogen) and Célérifère (eco-designed, repairable scooters). Find out more at:

Winter Swimming



After 3 years of refurbishment, Niort’s outdoor Pré-Leroy swimming pool will now open all year round, to the delight of local swimmers. Heated to about 28 degrees, the 50m pool can be entered from inside the attached building, reducing the risk of goosebumps. The bassin nordique has been built to competition standards and includes a system of LED lights, helping swimmers to control their rhythm and measure their performance. There is also an advanced camera-controlled lifesaving system which alerts the lifeguards should anyone get into difficulty. For opening hours, see:




vienne (86)

Chauvigny Montmorillon

Le Dorat

Charroux Civray

Bellac Nieul



vienne & News from around the region... haute-vienne Dearth of Dentists



haute-vienne (87)


Book Deliveries

Independent bookstores in France are hoping that a new law passed at the end of 2021 will level the playing field to compete with giants such as Amazon, Fnac and Cultura. The Loi Darcos will allow for a minimum delivery price per book to be fixed by the ‘Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes’ in conjunction with the Ministries of the Economy and Culture. It is expected to be between 2€ and 5€. Currently many of the larger companies set their delivery at just 0.01€ to offset the impact of the introduction of fixed retail prices for books in 1981 (Loi Lang). This one centime charge is clearly far below the actual cost, and smaller shops find it difficult to compete. The French state covered the true cost of deliveries for independent bookshops through the pandemic to help them continue selling online, and many benefited from an upsurge in sales, with some 19% more books sold in 2021 than in 2019.

Residency Permits

At the end of the year, the French Ministry of the Interior confirmed that 165,400 residency permits had been applied for under the Withdrawal Agreement. This number is, as expected, above the 2016 census figure of 148,300, as people made the move to permanent residency from secondhome ownership and new arrivals travelled from the UK. At the same time,

The search for a dentist taking new patients is becoming harder. In Vienne, of the approximately 200 dentists in the department, fewer than 20% have space for new patients, and many existing ones face long waits for non-urgent care. Visiting the region in December, Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran recognised the problem and included Poitiers on the list for one of eight new dentistry training centres across France. While this is a step in the right direction, it will take several years for students to become professionals, and they may then move on elsewhere, although research shows that newly qualified dentists often settle near their training centre. In the meantime, more dentists are arriving from abroad and now account for one in five practicing in the area.

immobiliers and transport companies saw many British nationals returning to the UK. Anecdotally, it appears that some second-home owners have applied for, and received, residency permits, not understanding the residency requirements in full - it’s likely to be the tax man who will explain the full implications of declaring residency in France, once the tax return season is over. As foreseen, many requests for help once the application window closed in October came from individuals who had no idea that they were impacted by the changes; often they had French spouses or French children, or were no longer in touch with other British nationals for a variety of reasons and simply had no idea they needed to apply to stay. On the whole, préfecture teams were understanding and allowed these late applications.

If, after reading our feature on Emmaüs, you are inspired to see what they offer, then prepare to be overwhelmed at the Grande Braderie Emmaüs from 25-27 March. Held at the Parc des Expositions in Poitiers from 10am to 7pm, you can rummage to your heart’s desire. Clothes are sold by weight or by the piece, and there will be everything from games to furniture and white goods. Entry is free.



News from around the region...

Bridge Repairs

Châtellerault’s emblematic bridge, le pont Henri IV, is in need of restoration work both on the arches and the road itself and which is now underway. While the Département de la Vienne, DRAC and the local Mairie are funding the majority of the 2.3 million euros required, the Heritage Foundation has put out an appeal to raise the remainder. It’s a project close to the heart of Foundation President Guillaume Poitrinal, himself a Châtelleraudais. Built during the 17th century, the bridge is one of only three similar designs in France, the other two being the Pont-Neuf in Paris and the Pont-Neuf in Toulouse. Its design is attributed to Philibert Delorme who is responsible for many structures, including the bridge on which the Château de Chenonceau sits. Work is expected to be completed in early 2023.

A Table! Civaux Closure During routine ten-year maintenance at the end of 2021, anomalies were found in Reactor One at the Civaux Nuclear Centre, which led to both reactors being closed down while further checks and repair work are carried out. Minute fissures were found in safety systems used to cool the reactors in the event of an accident. The centre produces up to half the electricity used in the region, so unplanned closures during the winter season are challenging. It is hoped that both reactors will be operational again in spring.

Take a trip to the Musée National Adrien Dubouché in Limoges to discover the history and traditions underpinning the art of hosting a gastronomic meal in France. Recognised in 2010 for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’, these festive meals bring people together to enjoy the art of good eating and good drinking. Running until 30 May, this exhibition traces the fascinating evolution of gastronomic meals through over 500 earthenware and porcelain objects, along with glassware and more, from the extravagance of Versailles to more modest gatherings. It will be no surprise that Limoges porcelain plays a starring role throughout the exhibition, for which more details can be found at:

18 | living getaway 16 places to visit

living getaway | 21 17

When low-season gloom hangs heavy why not take a break in the sun? We breeze down to Biarritz. WORDS: Roger Moss

Subscribe today > see page 5 for info

18 | living getaway Former ‘falun’ stone quarries, Doué-laFontaine (49)

Safely moored in the Port des Pêcheurs

“Victor Hugo had already visited the spot and written in praise of its unspoilt charm, fearing that it would get ‘discovered’.” On the Atlantic coast just a few kilometres from the Spanish border is a destination which for much of the year just soaks up the sunshine. From time to time, though, its glorious sandy beaches can also attract the kind of epic waves which have made Biarritz something of a legend among surfers worldwide. Not that the climate is all you notice, for here in the Pyrénées-Atlantique – ‘le Pays Basque’ – things tend to look and sound subtly different from what we’re accustomed to in more familiar surroundings. That’s always been a major part of the appeal, of course, and coming out of season means you can happily ignore all the media hype of glitz, glamour and exclusivity. In its place you’ll find a surprisingly down-to-earth vibe, so you can see all the sights calmly with just the locals – ‘les Biarrots’ – and perhaps a few laid-back surfers for company. Today the town’s densely packed streets cover a large area, much of what we see having been developed by wealthy European families during the 19th century, after Napoléon III constructed an extravagant villa on the headland to allow his wife Empress Eugénie to profit from the mild winters. Ironically, some years previously Victor Hugo had already visited the spot and written in praise of its unspoilt charm, fearing that it would get ‘discovered’. At that time what he’d

living getaway | 19 chanced upon was a small fishing community clustered around a natural inlet whose sandy beach (the Plage du Port Vieux) is now the haunt of sunbathers, swimmers and kayakers. Take a seat on the café sun terraces which overlook it and enjoy the scenery before strolling round the Esplanade de la Vierge, beyond which lies the present Port des Pêcheurs. It’s a fascinating, colourful place, from which a few traditional small boats still operate, and whose catches appear each evening on the chalkboards displayed outside the town’s many fine restaurants (tip: come early before the evening’s eagerly awaited arrivages disappear). Between the old and new ports lies a modest headland known as the Plateau de l’Atalaye. Here you’ll find the magnificent Art Déco Aquarium de Biarritz, whose residents include lionfish, groupers, rays, jellyfish, octopus, turtles, hammerhead sharks and barracudas. There’s also a large rooftop seal pool (feeding times are 10.30am and 5pm). A more futuristic addition is the Cité de l’Océan,

featuring 4D films, immersive virtual reality experiences and a 1500m3 Caribbean lagoon. The museum also recounts the long period when Biarritz was a whaling community whose lookouts would scan the coastline from the headland. Whaling activities (still recorded on the town crest) ceased during the 17th century, and we get to enjoy panoramic views of the Basque coastline from the Rocheur de la Vierge, a rocky outcrop cast among the waves originally accessed by a timber walkway added by Napoléon III. Today there’s a skeletal ironwork passerelle conceived by Gustave Eiffel’s engineers during the 19th century, and a visit remains an exhilarating experience when the Atlantic rollers crash upon the nearby rocks. The sight certainly impressed novelist and screen writer Peter Viertel, who came to Biarritz with his wife Deborah Kerr back in 1956 during location filming of Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’. Viertel had grown up beside the Pacific in Santa Monica and after witnessing the sheer scale of the waves he immediately arranged for his own

Beside the Rocher de la Vierge

The sheltered Plage du Port Vieux

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20 | living getaway

The Beaches, from North to South Biarritz’s stretch of the Basque coastline includes no fewer than six sandy beaches: Plage Miramar You’ll find this beach just north of Grande Plage. It’s a solid choice if you’re looking for tranquillity or for some surfing or bodyboarding.

Grande Plage The town’s picture postcard central beach, with shopping, cafés, a casino and nearby restaurants. In summer there are beach clubs for children.

Plage du Port Vieux This compact beach sits within a rocky cove sheltered from winds and waves. Close to the town centre, the calm swimming will suit families with young children. It also has restaurants with sun terraces.

Plage de la Côte des Basques The classic beach for surfing, with a backdrop of cliffs

and scenery which includes striking views of the Spanish coast and the Pyrénées. Note: the sand is normally covered at high tide.

Plage Marbella A prolongation of Côte des Basques, this beautiful sandy beach attracts surfers and bodyboarders, and has dedicated parking and a beachside bar. Note: Steps make it unsuited to those with reduced mobility.

Plage de Milady The town’s southernmost beach is popular with residents and young families. There are restaurants, a children’s play area plus a promenade with a magnificent viewpoint. It also features HandiPlage facilities for those with a disability. Note: onshore breakers are dangerous at high tide.

Malibu time on la Plage de la Côte des Basques

Malibu surfboard to be air-freighted from California. In so doing he kick-started a whole new surfing movement in Europe. While today’s surfers are threading their way down the zig-zag paths and paddling their boards in search of the perfect wave from the challenging vastness of the Plage de la Côte des Basques just south of the headland, the mood on the more sheltered north side is altogether more relaxed. The Grande Plage is the town’s historic main beach, complete with a magnificent 1920s Art Déco casino which was awarded Monument Historique status in 1992. If you don’t trust Lady Luck to smile on you, just gaze out to sea from the bar or panoramic restaurant. Alternatively, get high on ozone while taking a time-honoured stroll along the promenade. Over the years many people have paid a lot of money to enjoy views like these by constructing a succession of showpiece villas in eclectic architectural styles on prominent viewpoints. In time some became prestige hotels, while others were divided into luxury apartments which now change hands for eye-watering sums (in 2020 an apartment in the Villa Belza, perched dramatically on rocks just below the Port Vieux, is believed to have sold for 40,000 euros/m2).

The Passarelle Eiffel and Rocher de la Vierge

living getaway | 21

Angles-surl’Anglin (86)

Shop for whatever your heart desires

Surf’s up on la Grande Plage and Plage Miramar

As a result, when it comes to shopping Biarritz prides itself on meeting the expectations of a discerning clientele accustomed to the Parisian chic of Rue du Faubourg-SaintHonoré. Looking for a new saddle for your polo pony? No problem; you’ll find Hermès on Avenue Edouard VII. Nearby are many other businesses dedicated to the art of shopping (even window shopping can be absorbing here), along with a profusion of restaurants catering for all tastes and, perhaps surprisingly, all budgets. For every visiting celebrity or banker there are many more ordinary people who live and work in or near the town all year round, a fact which maintains a sense of balance and a welcoming air for just about anyone here to unwind with a relaxing change of scenery.

In The Market...

Don’t miss visiting Les Halles de Biarritz, a colourful indoor market hall inaugurated in 1885, and which opens 7.30am–2pm daily (evenings too, in summer). Your eyes will pop out as you wander among the mounds of tempting local produce – herbs, spices, pasta, cheeses, wines, meats and charcuterie, fresh fruit and vegetables, cut flowers, breads and pâtisseries, plus a selection of freshly landed fish and seafood. All of which make this a popular meeting place, so it also boasts a tapas bar and a Breton crêperie – or you can just relax with un café et un croissant while you watch daily life unfolding around you. More info:

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22 | living motoring event

Renault 4L 2021 marked the 60th anniversary of the Renault 4L, a small car with a big heart

A little goes a long way – next stop Marrakesh

living living motoring event | 23 27

the marketplace the two models were actually conceived in very different eras. As we reported in the June/July 2021 issue of LIVING Magazine, the 2CV began to take shape on the drawing boards during the late-1930s, with a mission to bring affordable mobility to far-flung rural communities. The 4L’s genesis, though, began much later, around 1955. By then a rural exodus had begun, as a new generation attracted by emerging job opportunities and the prospect of a social life headed for the half-urban, half-rural modernity of newly developed city suburbs. The trend’s significance did not go unnoticed by Pierre Dreyfus, who became head of management at Renault

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© FlashSport / 4L Trophy


ot so long ago, when it came to choosing cars many families had fierce brand loyalties. While imports were viewed with suspicion, you knew where you were with a Citroën, Peugeot or Renault, hence the success of the companies’ entry-level models. You might be surprised to discover, however, that Citroën’s classic 2CV (5,114,961 units) was actually comfortably outsold by the Renault 4L, over 8 million of which were produced during a production run spanning over 30 years. But why, exactly? While we now think of them as direct competitors in

24 | living motoring At the weekend the city car took to the open road


in March 1955 and who pondered the future role of the car in a whole new lifestyle with the analytical mind of a sociologist. His conclusion was that producing one type of car for the city and another for the open road was an outdated notion; what younger buyers needed now was a versatile vehicle capable of performing whatever task its owners might ask of it. He also realised that for anyone thinking of moving to the new residential areas developing beyond the reach of public transport, a car would be essential. It would therefore need to be a working tool for commuting from Monday to Friday, a family car for weekend drives, and capable of transporting everything a family would need for the annual summer holidays. Finally the new vehicle would also need to be affordable for young families whose purchasing power was increasing steadily, thanks to increasing employment opportunities, with a further boost from a second salary. For car manufacturers the future looked bright. Nevertheless, Dreyfus commissioned

living motoring | 25

BELOW: Pierre Dreyfus with an early production 4L. TOP LEFT: An 4L is undeterred by snow during the 1963 Monte Carlo BELOW LEFT: The cars’ separate chassis construction and front-wheel drive displayed during the 1961 Salon de l’Automobile de Paris.

© Renault Communication

in the beginning...

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26 | living motoring

Underpinning the 4L‘s remarkable 30-year production life was a commitment to worthwhile updates in both power and refinement, although beneath the skin they retained an old-style separate chassis. Tucked away beneath it was torsion bar rear suspension, which could be adjusted to increase ground clearance still further for true off-road capabilities. Before long beefed-up R4s were being entered in tough long distance rally events, including Paris-Dakar, Monte Carlo and London-Sahara-London. Then, in 1996 Paris-Dakar driver Jean-Jacques Rey had the idea of creating a similar annual rally exclusively for students and other young people to have their own adventures among the same spectacular landscapes. To keep things simple the choice of vehicle would be limited to the infinitely repairable Renault 4L. The pilot event was a huge success, and has since grown steadily, to the point where this year’s 25th Edition is expected to find over 1,000 teams from across the world setting off from Biarritz on 17 February. Ahead of them will be an epic journey of nearly 6,000 km on the roads of France and Spain before crossing the straits of Gibraltar. From there the teams must navigate their chosen routes along six one-day stages among the vast desert sands of Morocco. Those who succeed in staying the course will cross the finishing line in Marrakesh 11 days later, before making their return journeys. Info:

© FlashSport / 4L Trophy

4L Trophy: A Desert Adventure

© FlashSport / 4L Trophy


the project with an unusual stipulation: the production cars must have a maximum final selling price of 350,000 francs – equivalent to just 534 euros at the time (which equates to around 7,880 euros today). Having been given the message in no uncertain terms, the design team would soon come to refer to the project as ‘le 350’, whose tight ​​ financial constraints meant retaining the 747cc four-cylinder water cooled engine of the 4CV (which was by then selling for 444,000 francs). That wouldn’t be too much of a compromise, since the 350’s previous small car had been France’s biggest-selling vehicle for some years, notching up sales figures comfortably in excess of one million units, helped along by a string of competition successes. Between 1948 and 1955 the plucky little race-tuned cars surprised everyone by achieving class wins in high-profile events like the Coupe des Alpes, the Mille Miglia (4x), Liège-Rome-Liège (3x), Rallye Monte-Carlo, Tour de France Automobile, 24 Heures du Mans, and it was a similar story for the 4CV’s successor, the Dauphine. The newcomer, however, had no such aspirations, since down-to-earth practicality was at the top of the design team’s list of priorities. Their response would involve a radical move by a company then committed to rear-engined layouts for all but its flagship grande routière, the Frégate. Mounting the 350’s engine at the front meant that repairs could finally be done in situ, without having to remove both engine and gearbox (a well-known shortcoming of the company’s rear-engined models).

living places to visit | 27 It was also an opportunity to adopt front-wheel drive, which would improve handling and maximise load-carrying capacity at the hatchback-style rear. Another design feature aimed squarely at day-to-day versatility was generous ground clearance combined with soft, long-travel independent suspension – an approach which had given the 2CV its famous off-road capabilities. The first production models were unveiled at the 1961 Paris Motor Show as the Renault 4 (denoting its ‘cheval fiscal’ or horsepower tax rating) and an even more basic, lower powered version which undercut Citroën’s cheapest 2CV by 40 francs. To achieve that the Renault 3 sported painted bumpers and grille, no windscreen washers, a simplified dashboard, just a single sun visor and no interior door trim panels. For customers, however, its down-market image was a step too far down the social scale, and the R3 was quietly dropped the following year. On the other hand, the 4L’s practical image clearly appealed to both male and female potential buyers, and by early 1966 it had sold a million. In fact, by the time it finally ceased production in December 1992 the Renault 4L and its many variants had sold a staggering 8,134,424 units.

Back Soon?

The 4L’s 60th Anniversary was celebrated with a demonstration of an electric drone version dubbed the ‘Air4’. While it’s likely to remain a design exercise, at least for now, there are strong hints that the all-new electric Renault 5 due to be launched in early 2024 could be followed a year later by a similar hommage to the R4 as a compact crossover model to replace the present Zoë. Stay tuned...

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28 | living community

living community | 29

The Emmaüs Foundation, created by Abbé Pierre in 1949, enables our unwanted items to give someone a second chance in life. Now this community with a long history of fighting against poverty and homelessness is innovating to continue protecting those most in need. Words: Jessica Knipe

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30 | living community

‘‘The impossibility of doing everything in one day shouldn’t prevent us from doing just one single thing.’’ Abbé Pierre, founder of Emmaüs

he ongoing, complicated pandemic that we are living through has had many negative impacts, not least the widening social divide caused by the devastating virus. In the last couple of years thousands of people have joined the list of those in desperate need of assistance, as those who have lost their jobs and their homes find themselves turning to charitable organisations for food,

clothes and employment. But none of this is new to Emmaüs. In 1949, as France was struggling through a severe housing crisis, a man known to his parishioners as ‘Abbé Pierre’ (Father Pierre) founded Les Compagnons d’Emmaüs, an ‘association for solidarity in the fight against poverty’. Selling furniture and objects which had been donated, Emmaüs employed people in need to build homes for those who had lost their own. Six years later Abbé Pierre pronounced his now famous ‘Appel’ on the radio - a call to arms denouncing the government’s inaction in the face of homeless people dying frozen in the

streets. “My friends, please help…” he began, creating a wave of solidarity from the French population, who flooded the phone lines with donations and turned up to lend a helping hand for free. Soon the government followed suit, contributing funds to help open emergency refuges for those without a roof. Each one would display a sign that read: “Those who are suffering, whoever you may be, come in, sleep, eat, and regain hope, for we love you.” Slowly the organisation grew more branches, and other charitable organisations joined the ‘Mouvement Emmaüs’, such as the ‘Relais’ – shops selling items which people

living community | 31

had donated, raising funds to build houses as well as employing victims of poverty and exclusion to repair items for sale. From the roots of the movement in one French town, today Emmaüs has sprouted a widespread network throughout France, and even has members in 41 other countries worldwide. Unfortunately, homelessness and poverty haven’t gone away since Emmaüs was founded, and its communities are still needed as much as on the day it was created. The world has changed but its problems remain,

and on the same pillars of solidarity, unconditional help, active autonomy and sustainable development, Emmaüs is constantly adapting to modernise the community and continue to provide a structure for those in need. In 2016, the trend for second-hand item websites like Vinted and Leboncoin threatened the association’s shops. But instead of seeing defeat, the idea was born to create Label Emmaüs, the first ever non-profit multi-seller website. The site now lists almost 2 million items which have been donated, reconditioned or recycled, and a logistics platform was opened in Paris in 2018 to help support the demand, giving books that aren’t selling in the Foundation’s bricks and mortar

shops a second chance, and renting furniture out to film studios. This year a second platform was opened in the Lot-et-Garonne – Label Plateforme 47, housing office furniture donated by businesses. More recently, 2021 saw the launch of Trëmma – a play on the accented ‘u’ in Emmaüs – confirming the organisation’s place in the 21st century. Taking the idea of donating items to sell online one step further, Trëmma is a participative financing platform which allows people to not only donate items but also decide where the money from their sale will go. Sellers first list their items in a few clicks, as they would on other platforms. Then they choose which initiative they

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32 | living community


want to benefit from the sale, with projects such as helping refugees gain access to education or the day-to-day maintenance of a farm created for women who have recently left the penitentiary system. The fact that this digital transition has been so successful is an example of how shopping online can be virtuous. “We are a cooperative without dividends or distant shareholders,” says Maud Sarda, co-founder and manager of Label Emmaüs. “There are no robots in the warehouses, just a bunch of people who simply needed a helping hand to reveal how talented they are. Nothing is new – only second-hand. For five years this alternative method has shown a 100% yearly growth... economics CAN rhyme with solidarity and eco-responsibility!” This spirit of always building on past experience, of never giving up in the face of adversity, means that new branches are constantly being added to the initial Emmaüs family tree. The most exciting example of this is planned to be built in Nouvelle-Aquitaine at Bordeaux: by 2024, a new project called ïkos hopes to reunite many of the members of the Emmaüs Movement under one roof. The monumental site will be a 15,000 square metre centre which brings together the people who sort and sell or recycle textiles (Le Relais), a zone for second-hand books (Le Livre Vert), a recycling area for small appliances (R3), sports equipment (Recyclerie Sportive), another to recycle unusable items into decorative objects (Atelier D’éco Solidaire), a depot for materials to be used on building sites (Soli’Bât) and a network of shops where second-hand objects can find

Who was Abbe‘ Pierre, .. founder of Emmaus? For French people, Abbé Pierre remains a steadfast symbol of selfless generosity. Born Henri-Antoine Grouès in Lyon, in 1912, he studied with the Jesuits and Capuchins as a young man before being ordained as a Catholic priest in 1938, turning his back on a wealthy family inheritance. During World War II, Henri-Antoine Grouès played an active part in the résistance, taking on different identities to evade the Gestapo. As ‘Abbé Pierre’, he escaped to Spain before making his way to Algiers, where he met General de Gaulle. He kept this new name until his death in 2007. In 1949, as an MP in the Meurtheet-Moselle, Abbé Pierre met a suicidal former convict and had the idea to invite him to help build temporary

a new life. Food waste will also be tackled through a depot for unsold ingredients turned into jams (Echange Nord Sud), while toys will find a second life after having received a little love from the on-site staff (Replay!). The huge warehouse space will also house Envie Gironde, helping those who have been excluded to reintegrate into the workplace. Every single new project to spring from the Emmaüs fountain honours its founder’s fighting spirit, and the organisation’s success at tackling competition by going online shows the world that there is always hope to change the status quo. You too can help to make a difference by joining the Emmaüs community as they serve those in need first.

homes for the homeless anywhere he could find land. The first Emmaüs community was born, taking its name from the biblical town in the Gospel of Luke, where two men saw the resurrected Jesus and regained hope. In 1954, as the housing crisis hit its peak in France, the Compagnons d’Emmaüs couldn’t build their refuge homes fast enough. Abbé Pierre took to the waves of Radio Luxembourg to launch his now famous ‘insurrection de bonté’ (uprising of kindness), prompting a wave of solidarity from the French people and securing his place in history books. He spent the rest of his life fighting for those facing exclusion and poverty, living by the Universal Manifesto of the Emmaüs community: ‘serve those in need first’.

To find out where you can donate your items (or find yourself a second-hand treasure!), visit the website.

Idimmo, Prestige & Châteaux 42 Rue Grosse Horloge, 17400 St Jean D’Angély. Tel: +33 (0)5 46 33 19 13



€598,000 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

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Ref Cas17: House & 3 gites, tastefully decorated and furnished, each with its own garden with terrace, plus 4th gite in need of renovation. Pool area. Ideally situated easy access to St Jean D’Angély, Saintes, La Rochelle and the beautiful Charente-Maritime coastline.

Ref Cas16: Pretty 2-bed cottage with gite to finish in a large, private parcel of land. The gite has one bedroom with bathroom and WC, the rest of the gite is a blank canvas. The property has 2 further outbuildings, which could be used to extend the gite if required.

Energy class: en cours Climate class: en cours

Energy class: vierge Climate class: vierge



€296,800 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

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Ref Cas15: Paizay Le Chapt - well maintained and tastefully decorated 3-bed village house. Integral garage, pool, pond, small barn with large terrace. Habitable area 181m2 on parcel of 5561m2.

Ref Lo16: La Jarrie Audouin. Pretty south-facing 4-bed Charentaise house full of charm and character charm and character. Double glazing and gas central heating.

Energy class: D Climate class: E

Energy class: D Climate E

18 | living places to visit

living landmarks | 35

Echoes of The Past R

We celebrate the colourful evidence of now-departed small businesses which once served towns and villages in pre-supermarket France

egardless of how compelling or otherwise their plotlines might be, there’s no denying that retro French cinema classics are fascinating visually, for they offer us a chance to step back in time to experience a France we never knew. Of course, they weren’t at all retro when they were released, but merely captured everyday life in locations which for the most part have changed

dramatically with the passing years. Look around today, though, and here and there you’ll find evidence of enough long departed businesses to suggest that Napoléon’s oft quoted remark about England being ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ could equally have been applied to France. In many cases the old facades’ paintwork has faded in ways we now attempt to replicate as ‘shabby chic’, and their signage, when still legible, often makes interesting

reading, proclaiming unlikely looking combinations of products and services. Occasionally owners would use more durable mosaic work or even ceramic panels instead of paint, so they still look as vibrant today as when they were created. When passing abandoned street level survivors, glance upwards and you’ll notice many more signs of past activity emblazoned on upper storeys, where they go unnoticed by most passers-by.

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36 | practical living

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

Travel Insurance for UK Nationals


I’m so confused! I’d like to start travelling again but don’t know what travel insurance I will need.


Travelling has been restricted over the past two years, for sure. However, as 2022 starts, many of us are making travel plans for this year whether by train, plane, car or bike... Ensuring that you have the right type of travel cover before you go is crucial...and a combination of Brexit and Covid means things have changed for many of us. This article will help guide you through the travel maze, including details of the UK and European Health Insurance Cards and assistance packages contained in many insurance policies. Why does travel insurance cover matter? Making sure you have travel insurance cover is the first thing you should pack before going on holiday. Accidents are sadly a fact of life. We may need medical assistance whilst away due to illness or injury, have to spend time in hospital, extend a stay in a hotel or require medical transport to fly us back home. It can be an expensive process too, especially if the injury is serious or we have travelled a long distance. Fortunately, there are various forms of travel healthcare cards and insurance cover available. Most people can get travel insurance; however, it can be difficult to understand the type of healthcare card or cover we

need – and how to obtain it. All European Union countries issue an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card); in France this is called the CEAM (Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie). Post-Brexit, the UK’s version is the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). It is also well worth noting that many insurance companies include medical cover whilst travelling within their assistance policies, as a form of ‘top up’ to Home, Car and Motorbike covers. Also double check your bank cards to see what is included in their terms and conditions. Let us look in turn at the various travel healthcare cards and insurance cover solutions for UK nationals living in France…   Travelling to the UK The type of travel insurance cover you need depends upon your status, i.e. whether you are in receipt of a UK state pension (with an S1 form) or are insured under the French system due to work or residency. Retired UK nationals living in France with S1 form If you have a UK state pension, moved to France before 1 January 2021 and have registered your S1 form with CEAM in France, you can obtain free NHS cover when visiting the UK. UK nationals living & working in France France’s European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to use NHS cover whilst visiting the UK – as well as the EU. Click onto the CEAM

website to find out how to get your card. For further information regarding healthcare cover when travelling to the UK, please visit the UK government website. Travelling elsewhere in Europe If you are a UK national on a state pension and S1 form, you may have a UK-registered European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You may continue to use this until expiry. Since last year, the UK is now issuing its own form of healthcare card – the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This covers you for any trips throughout the EU, including France.

the famous saying goes. But don’t forget to ensure that you have in place medical assistance cover through your insurance provider, or more comprehensive/specialist insurance for destinations around the world. Coronavirus clauses A word of reassurance… most insurance providers (including AXA) offer some form of medical assistance cover for Covid-related emergencies. Just check before you set off, for peace of mind.

The UK government website contains more details on how to apply: If you are a UK national living & working in France, you can use your CEAM card: lmceam. Travelling to the rest of the world The world’s your oyster, as

David Atkins has been the Agent of AXA Marthon since 2005, a British-owned, fully bilingual English and French speaking agency. See about/ for more information.

practical living | 37

Transferring your UK pension


Have there been any changes in UK pension transfers recently? I would like to look at the options that are available to me.


There has been a new flag system put in place by the UK pension authority to safeguard members who want to move their pension to a qualified overseas pension scheme. Your UK pension company will review your circumstances, including where you live, where you want to move the pension

to and to which company. They will then give the transfer request a flag colour: Red: the transfer cannot take place. Amber: the member will have to go through the MoneyHelper service. This is a free online service where you will be interviewed to check your level of understanding before moving your pension. Your current pension company cannot block a transfer once you have been through this service. Green: the transfer will

be signed off without the need for an extended review. The new regulations are intended to protect consumers from pension scams. Legitimate planning by professional advisers therefore remains an important and valuable option

for expatriates considering how best to structure their retirement finances. The option to move your UK pension to an international SIPP is also still available and the flag system does not apply to these.

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 »

Show how much you

Living at

38 | living family

Avec les enfants ––––––


–––––––– ––––––––––––––––


ith the old Out(and in)--w ------------------––––––––––––––––




Spring arrives early in the Charente-Maritime and is always a good time for cleaning the dust and dirt that has built up around the house from wet and muddy dogs trotting in and out, ash from the fire, not to mention a gaggle of teenagers traipsing through the door. But aside from a good spring clean it’s also a great opportunity for a little organisation. I know that ‘de-cluttering’ is the new buzz word, but I have always been one to get rid of junk and things about the house that never seem to be used. With five children (some of them now adults) there is never a shortage of stuff that has outlived its usefulness or which no longer serves a pressing purpose. As such, each spring we make several journeys to our local branch of Emmaüs, the charity which provides homes and a reason to live for homeless people across the world, particularly in France. A few carloads of cardboard boxes with all manner of junk in them accompany us, and we feel content when the delivery is done and we turn homewards.

However, there’s a large number of things that do not readily take to a life on the Emmaüs shop shelf, and we’ve happily taken to re-purposing a lot of them for a life beyond their intended use. It’s handy to have a husband who is just as bad at this as I am, and as a hoarder of odds and ends Roddy has often managed to come up trumps when a project has demanded a certain ’this’, or ’that’. Besides the typical collection of lengths of wood and fittings, he also has an eye for things that may not be wanted immediately, but become invaluable several years down the line. Old porcelain door handles, strange fittings for interior shelves, threaded sleeves for invisible fixings – that sort of thing. He is drawn like a magnet and tends to linger at those stalls at brocantes which sell old tools, or have boxes of handmade furniture fittings that are made for one specific purpose in life. But our home, as a result, has benefited greatly from a few of my ideas that he has been able to bring to life. They’re not necessarily spectacular or complicated projects, but are immensely satisfying to fulfil when everything falls into place.

Old, abused and ‘patinated wood’ is something we really like reusing. If anything wooden breaks we’ll keep the bits that might be useful later, and sometimes we’ll just buy wood we find along the way, just to put in store. Roddy’s always on the lookout for lengths of antique oak, elm, walnut and other sundry stuff, and it’s so satisfying to be able to put a shelf or a frame into place using something that’s seen life in another guise. Good hardwood is expensive and difficult to find, but repurposing scraps is a gentle way around the problem. We once came away from Emmaüs with an old oak table that we didn’t need but we couldn’t just leave, so it had to come home with us. I was bemused until the legs went one way and the top and sides became the kitchen-unit into which he fitted an old butcher’s block I had found. There was still enough wood left over to make a couple of lovely shelves later, too. Once he went to buy a sideboard he’d seen, but came home with just the doors for another project; it really does pay to think outside the box! A current fascination I have is decorating our doorways. It’s easy to

living family | 39



find old wooden frontons at brocantes or online; often they’ve come off armoires or other items of antique furniture and these decorative pieces are easy to fit above a plain rectangular doorway, transforming it into a rather more grandiose entrance with a bit of character. You can leave them unpainted, or colour them to match the paintwork around the doorframe. Smaller pediments, especially those in bronze, are also great for fitting to large mirrors, transforming them into an object with more impact than the original. We also love finding and repurposing old marble, typically from a coffee-

table with a worn and damaged metal frame. They cost nothing at a junk shop or brocante, despite the value of the marble, and it’s terribly easy to turn them into a small kitchen island unit or a garden table, using scraps of wood. A nice piece of marble also makes a fine kitchen counter or a backsplash to a sink in a bathroom. In fact with a little planning, and if you’re at all handy, there’s so much that can be upcycled and repurposed, bringing back to life beautifully handcrafted pieces made decades or centuries ago, and along the way creating an enormous sense of satisfaction. 1




While away a winter evening with our unique crossword by Mike Morris and find its theme. If you need a helping hand, find the answers on page 53. Clues across 1. Short medical man turning up fish? (3) 3. Call for someone to put pressure on date. (4) 5. Cancel surgical procedure to come after church? (4) 9. Simple party finishes up the chimney? (5) 10. Six sitting on international organisation are not at all pleased? (7) 11. I wouldn’t do this if I thought you were capable. (3, 2, 4, 3) 14. Go backwards in cunning, getting drowsy? (6) 15. Dress, blouse top & diamonds go well together with stole? (6) 18. The strange thing, personally, is that it is on days I cry, bizarrely? (12) 21. Diana once would have taken a drink with the battalion? (7)

22. Magic dragoons having nothing to lose? (5) 23. A river to cross, but doesn’t take cards we hear? (4) 24. Gosh! Mary has lost her heart, and for a second time. (2 -2) 25. Was first of the heavy metal, according to reports? (3)

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.








10 10





12 13




Clues Down 16 1. That’s odd, very odd, with nothing in the end and 18 19 now vanished forever? (4) 2. Roman Catholic conversion means 20 bliss is giving way to apprehension? (7) 3. Swinger (or addict) may have to resort to this if nobody is free 21 for him? (3, 3, 6) 4. Buttocks held in latter part 24 of orgy, and moaning? (6) 6. Content to be signing for somebody 23 24 else in book fair venue? (5) 7. How to conduct yourself when article is removed from game? (3) 16. Fab, lush; but put together these 8. Happy his orgy is rearranged; words make me reticent. (7) it’s only natural. (12) 17. Zen? Yes, if organised well 12. Take apart because found can lead to gesundheit? (6) out to have no foundation? (4) 19. Suggest dentist’s replacement, 13. Wine found; fantastic bottles! (4)

Show how much you








bringing in unknown for worker? (5) 20. Second hand, I got it from an American journalist. (4) 21. Sorry! Yet another clue that is a little suspect! (3)

Living at


40 | living nikki legon’s cuisine The rich variety of cheeses available in France is reflected in Nikki’s latest recipe ideas

Nikki Legon's

cuisine Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeño Peppers 12 jalapeño peppers 1 bird’s-eye chilli, finely chopped (optional) 2 spring onions, finely grated 100g cream cheese 100g Comté cheese, grated 4 tbsp flour 2 eggs, beaten Panko breadcrumbs METHOD Make a slit down the middle of the peppers and remove the seeds and white pith. In a bowl add the cream cheese, Comté, spring onion and, if using,

For vegetarian versions of these recipes, check that vegetarian rennet has been used in the production of the different cheeses and substitute for a similar cheese if necessary.


the finely chopped chilli. Mix well season with a little salt and pepper. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and close the two halves together. Dip each one first in flour then egg then breadcrumbs. Place on a tray and chill for 1 hour then repeat one more time. Deep fry till golden, serve straight away.

Tartiflette Serves 4

1 Reblochon (about 500g), sliced 1.2kg potatoes, peeled 200g lardons or bacon cut into small slices

1 onion, peeled and chopped 4 tbsp crème fraîche 2 cloves garlic METHOD Cook the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes, drain and dry on kitchen paper. Once cool, slice each potato. Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a frying pan, heat a little oil and fry the onions gently until golden. Add the bacon and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Butter 2 dishes or 1 large dish. Layer half the potato then half of the bacon mix. Sprinkle with half of the crème fraîche add a layer of cheese. Repeat once more. Cook for 20 minutes until golden and serve with crusty bread.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 41

Camembert Burger 2 Camembert, chilled 4 tbsp cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly 4 tbsp plain flour 2 eggs, beaten panko breadcrumbs 2 bread rolls salad leaves and tomato slices METHOD Place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs in front of you and dip the chilled Camembert first into the flour then egg, then breadcrumbs.

Chill the Camembert for 30 minutes then repeat with the flour, egg and breadcrumbs returning to the fridge until you are ready to serve them. Heat the oil to 180°C. Lower the cheese into the oil and cook until golden (around 3 minutes) and drain on kitchen paper. Grill the rolls. Place the sauce on the base and top with lettuce and tomato, then carefully place the cheese on top. Put another spoonful of sauce on top of the cheese. Add the bun top and cut in half, being very careful as it will be very hot.

Camembert Burger

Macaroni Cheese

Rocamadour Tart Serves 4-6

4 large potatoes 1 Mozzarella, sliced thickly 12 small Rocamadour cheeses 4 tbsp crème fraîche One round of puff pastry METHOD Peel the potatoes, sliced thickly and cook gently in salted water. Place the pastry onto a baking sheet, roll the edges to give a lip. Place the potatoes into the base of the tart and top with the cheeses, spoon over the crème fraîche. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 180°C.

Rocamadour Tart

Macaroni Cheese Serves 4

250g dry macaroni 60g unsalted butter 3 tbsp plain flour 500ml milk nutmeg to taste 1 tsp mustard 200g grated strong hard cheese 50g grated Parmesan 2 tbsp breadcrumbs METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling, salted water as instructed, drain well. To make the sauce, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring all the time. Cook out the flour for 2 minutes. Add the milk gradually, mixing with a whisk, until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Add the grated strong cheese and mix well. Put the cooked macaroni into a buttered 1-litre dish and pour the sauce over. Top with Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.

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42 | living nikki legon’s cuisine

Cheese Fondue Serves 4-6

250g Gruyère 250g Beaufort 250g Comté 250g Reblochon 1 large garlic clove 1 tbsp cornflour 3 tbsp kirsch 500ml white wine grating of nutmeg 1 firm loaf of bread cut into cubes METHOD Remove the rind from the cheeses and cut into small cubes. Rub the inside of a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the cut side of the garlic clove. Add the wine to the pot and blend in the cornflour, bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and slowly add the cheeses leaving the Reblochon till last. Season with salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the kirsch and cook for a further minute. Pour into a fondue pot over a small flame. Serve with long forks and crusty bread cubes.

Cheese Fondue

Salmon & Broccoli Cheese Tart

Salmon & Broccoli Cheese Tart For the cheese pastry 300g plain flour 150g unsalted butter 120g grated Cheddar or Comté 1 egg

For the filling 4 eggs 200ml cream 1 tsp dried oregano 150g Parmesan 150g broccoli florets 2 leeks, white part only, sliced finely 200g salmon, skinned and cut into cubes METHOD Place the flour with the butter and cheese into a food processor. Blend together with the egg and a splash of cold water until it forms a ball. Remove and place in the fridge while you prepare the filling. In a large frying pan add a little oil and a knob of butter and gently heat the leeks and broccoli until cooked. In a bowl, beat the eggs and cream together, add seasoning and the oregano. Grate in the Parmesan cheese. Roll out the pastry to fit a 24 or 26cm deep-sided tart tin. Cover with crumpled greaseproof paper and cook for 15 minutes at 180°C. Remove the paper and add the salmon, broccoli and leek mixture to the base of the tart. Pour over the egg and cream mix. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until set. Serve with salad or new potatoes.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 43 Brie Potato Pancake

Brie Potato Pancake 3 large potatoes 1 large egg 2 tbsp flour 3 tbs oil knob of butter 3 mushrooms, sliced 250g Brie, sliced METHOD Peel and cook the potatoes in salted water. Mash with the egg and add the flour to form a firm dough. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms in a little oil. Halve the mixture and press out to a large pancake, fry in oil and butter. Once golden turn and cook the other side. Place half of the slices of Brie on one side and top with the cooked mushrooms. Cook a further 3 minutes, flip one half over and transfer to a plate, keeping warm in the oven whilst you repeat with the second pancake.

Cheesecake 100g unsalted butter 200g butter biscuits, crushed 375g Mascarpone 420g full fat cream cheese 150g icing sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract strawberries or red fruits to decorate METHOD Butter a 20cm spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Put the crushed biscuits into a bowl. Melt the butter, then stir into the

biscuit crumbs, mixing thoroughly. Tip into the base of the cake tin and press down to create a firm layer and put in the fridge for 1 hour to set. Using an electric whisk beat the cheeses, sugar and vanilla until just combined. Spoon the filling into the base and smooth the top, return to the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Decorate the top with strawberries or a bag of frozen red fruits. Alternatively, if you have any ginger in syrup left over from Christmas, add 5 pieces of chopped ginger to the cream mixture and 2 tbsp of syrup omitting the icing sugar.

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:

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


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

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 Subscribe today > see page 5 |for info

44 | living wine

One of SaintÉmilion’s ancient vineyards, founded in Gallo-Roman times

Roman mosaic depiction of Homer’s Odyssée

Wine & Literature

‘‘ ‘‘

Wine expert Caro Feely looks at some of wine’s literary connections


ince ancient times wine has been part of human culture. The earliest archaeological proof of wine made from grapes is in Georgia and dates back to around 6,000 BC. Its history includes a cultural dimension via art and literature with wine featured in art from palaces to pyramids, but just as importantly, in poetry.

Ancient Greek Literature Many wine quotations are attributed to Homer, who lived in the 9th century BC and is most celebrated for The Iliad and The Odyssey, epic poems which form the foundation of ancient Greek literature. He used wine in numerous descriptions; for example ‘the wine-dark sea’ appears five times in The Iliad and twelve times in The Odyssey. Today it’s the subject of debate among academics, who ask questions like: was the sea red with algae – or was their wine blue from mixing it with alkaline water? Perhaps the answer is as simple as the colour of a dark red sunset reflected on the sea.

Roman Empire Literature During the Roman Occupation, Ausonius, a Gallo-Roman based in Bordeaux, wrote poetry about wine, in addition to creating Ausone, a famous vineyard in Saint-Émilion. In one poem written in the 4th century he admits to being tipsy: ‘It is outrageous that a strictly abstemious reader should sit in judgment on a poet a little drunk. I declare as I write this that I am not drunk but am prone to sip a fine glass of wine of an evening. Moderation rather than abstention is my motto.’ Ancient Chinese Poetry An 8th century Chinese poet who is commonly referred to as ‘Li Bai’ or ‘Li Po’ wrote glorious wine poems. His ‘Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon’ is worth looking up. The language in the best translations is ethereal, like an impressionist painting. Alone, he pours a glass of wine, then makes a threesome with the moon and his own shadow. They sing and dance, then scatter to reunite in the future with the stars on the far side of the Milky Way. The poem is pure delight.

Wine According to Shakespeare William Shakespeare devoted many words to wine. He recreated the age-old saying ‘in vino veritas’ in these words: ‘The wine-cup is the little silver well, where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell’. One of his most-cited quotes about alcohol – rather than wine specifically – is worth remembering: ‘[Drink]: it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance’. (Macbeth Act II Scene III). Yes, moderation is wise, as Iago reminds Cassius, who is lamenting his excessive drinking (Othello) with the words: ‘Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used’. Golden Age Literature Robert Louis Stevenson, a poet of the 19th century, came up with the famous quote: ‘Wine is bottled poetry’. Another great writer, Leo Tolstoy, used wine as a metaphor. In Anna Karenina, Anna was ‘drunk with the wine of the rapture she inspired’ in her soon-to-be-lover, the Count. Modern Literature In the 20th century American writer Russian intervention

living wine | 45

Ernest Hemingway claimed in his work ‘Death In The Afternoon’ that wine offered more enjoyment than any other sensory product that could be purchased. In his memoir, ‘A Moveable Feast’ he reflected that during his time in Europe (mostly in France) drinking wine was considered as normal and necessary as eating. A friend of Hemingway, Irish writer James Joyce, also spoke of wine in his masterpiece ‘Ulysses’. His main character, Leopold Bloom, experiences

© sir john gilbert

Scene from Shakespeare’s Othello

Book a virtual event or course with Caro, learn about wine at the Feelys’ wine school or visit Château Feely, a biodynamic and organic wine estate with accommodation, wine tours and vineyard walks at www. For questions or suggestions please get in touch You can read the full story of the creation of their organic biodynamic vineyard in Caro’s book series; ‘Grape Expectations’, ‘Saving Our Skins’ and ‘Glass Half Full’. The 4th title in the series will be published in 2022.

a passionate memory after a taste of Burgundy wine. It’s so erotically evocative that it was one of the reasons the book was banned in the US from 1921 until 1933. Pablo Neruda’s ‘Ode To Wine’ is a great point on which to end this brief excursion into wine literature. In it he calls wine a ‘starry child of earth’ and incites joy, passion and gratitude to nature and mankind, who together create wine. Cheers to wine and literature!

Ref. 34303

Ref. 34311 1 340 000€ HAI Restored 3-bed Provençal Mas with views set on approx. 9.68 acres. Only 20 mins from St Raphael and 30 mins from Cannes & St Tropez. Large living room with fireplace, Provençal kitchen. Master bedroom with en-suite, 2 further bedrooms. Independent studio flat, automatic gate, carport, terraces, 2 cellars. Pool 14x7m. Classe Energie D Classe Climate B (fees included)


Ref. 34315 279 700€ HAI Detached modern 4-bed bungalow with enclosed garden, built in 1997. Chartres area, 3km to shops, only 1hr to Paris by train. Contemporary interior with fitted kitchen and open living space. Master bedroom on ground floor with 3 bedrooms upstairs. Large conservatory. Basement with garage and 2 store rooms. Classe C Classe Climate C (fees included)


3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens Tel: 05 45 85 45 65 how much you Living at



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Charente €837,400 Ref: A10351 - Exceptional 13 bedroom property renovated to the highest standards.

Charente-Maritime €245,900 Ref: A07475 - 3 Bedroom house with garden and garage, 24km from the Atlantic coast.

Charente €120,000 Ref: A09230 - 3 Bedroom house with large living room. At the edge of a small village.

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Deux-Sèvres €376,300 Ref: A10496 - 9 Bedroom home with heated pool and outbuildings. Possibility to run two gîtes.

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Charente €55,000 Ref: 107486 - Spacious maison de maître style house with 3 bedrooms. To renovate.

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Dordogne €445,200 Ref: 117603 - 7 Bedroom house in a mature garden with a courtyard and swimming pool.

Deux-Sèvres €125,000 Ref: A10526 - Detached 3 bedroom family home with large barn and nice garden.

Vienne €390,000 Ref: A06639 - 2 Adjoining houses, 9 bedrooms in total, huge garden, pool, chalet and garage.

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Vienne €51,600 Ref: A07220 - Great 2 bedroom holiday home close to amenities.

Haute-Vienne €224,700 Ref: A08920 - Superb 6 bedroom maison de maître to modernise with a small stone house.

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Charente €199,999 Ref: 120429CGL16 - Large 6 bedroom village house with barn, outbuildings and garden.

Charente-Maritime €109,000 Ref: 116392- Lovely house to renovate with beautiful views and over 2 hectares of land.

Deux-Sèvres €93,500 Ref: A05442 - Two bedroom bungalow with garden, close to popular market town.

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Charente €399,000 Ref: A09466 - 5 Bedroom home with 2000m2 garden, pool, workshop and garage. 5% agency fees included paid by the buyer.





Charente €66,666 Ref: A10199 - 4 Bedroom stone house with attached garage and garden. Agency fees to be paid by seller.




Haute-Vienne €235,400 Ref: A06103 - 3 Bedroom country property with large garden and outbuildings.

Charente-Maritime €318,000 Ref: 104839 - Delightful 17th century house with 5 bedrooms, garden and outbuildings.

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Deux-Sèvres €333,900 Ref: A10243 - Great opportunity to buy 3 gîtes and owners home.10 bedrooms, large garden.

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Haute-Vienne €36,600 Ref: A06369 - Great cottage to finish renovating, with separate wooded area.

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L i ving



Changing Places

We get to know a town in northern Dordogne with a reputation for traditional skills The northernmost sector of the Dordogne département shares with neighbouring Haute-Vienne some 1,900 km2 of protected landscapes of the Parc Naturel Régional Périgord-Limousin, in whose leafy heart lies the Périgord Vert, an area often referred to as simply ‘le Nontronnais’. The greater part of the town which inspired the name sits upon a plateau high above the River Bandiat, a strategic site once occupied by a Gallo-Roman castrum which suffered attacks by Saracen and Norman invaders during the 7th and 9th centuries respectively. Fortifications were soon strengthened, and remnants of the town ramparts are still clearly visible, one 13th century section behind the Office de Tourisme providing a dramatic backdrop to landscaped garden terraces (le Jardin des Arts) offering panoramic views across the river valley. Standing proudly above them is the magnificent 18th century Château de Nontron, currently under restoration and scheduled to reopen in 2023 as the Pôle Expérimental des Métiers d’Art de Nontron – a logical development for a town with a proud history of excellence

in arts and crafts. Among those upholding traditional skills locally are the Lim Group of saddle-makers, luxury fashion house Hermès (ceramics, fine leather items) and Coutellerie Nontronnaise (heritage and designer cutlery). Signs of former prosperity generated by master tanners, foundry men and other artisans survive in the grandiose facades overlooking the ancient market square now known as Place Alfred Agard, and you’ll find many more in Avenue du GénéralLeclerc, Rue Carnot and Rue André-Picau. However, the activities which underpinned the local economy were sited down in the Faubourg Magnac, where the first forges had been established on the riverbanks by the Gauls. The forges exploited local iron ore deposits and were fired by timber from surrounding forests and powered by waters of the Bandiat. During the 17th century output included cast iron cookware (some of it exported to England) and was boosted by the production of munitions, including cannon for the naval arsenal of Rochefort. The quality steels produced also underpinned the town’s longstanding reputation for fine cutlery, and while the

last local forge closed in 1868 the tradition is celebrated in an annual Fête du Couteau, this year’s 26th edition being scheduled for 6 & 7 August. Today peace has returned to the riverbanks and the historic ‘ville basse’, an area well worth discovering on foot. Fun fact: the locally occurring iron-rich clay mineral nontronite has also been identified among samples taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars.

Making connections Distances/drive-times by road from 24300 Nontron: Brantôme 22km/23min Thiviers 32km/35min Rochechouart 42km/46min Périgueux: 46km/50min Angoulême: 46km/55min Limoges: 68km/1hr 18min Bordeaux: 154km/2hr 15min Royan: 162km/2hr 25min TGV & TER rail services: La Gare SNCF de Thiviers (32km) is served by TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine Ligne Régionale 31 services between Limoges & Bordeaux, for connections (including TGV) to Périgueux, Angoulême, Poitiers, La Rochelle, Bayonne, Toulouse, Tours, Paris, etc.

L i ving

Property Agence Eleonor Estate Agency 36-38 rue du Temple, 24500 EYMET T: 05 53 27 83 45 Eymet, Villeréal, St.-Cyprien, Monpazier, Bergerac, Lalinde, and Issigeac

88 000€ HAI

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Ref. 34303

ORADOUR-FANAIS (16). 2-bed detached village house. Approx. 116m2 livable space, convertible attic. Terrace, garden, set on app 3008m2. Classe Energie vierge Classe Climate vierge

129 600€ HAI

Ref. 34287

(120 000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer)

CONFOLENS (16). Rental property: ground floor 1 studio rented. 1st floor: type 2 flat with fitted kitchen. Cellar, utility room. Classe Energie vierge Classe Climate vierge

Ref : 9805-EY - Location: Miramont de Guyenne - Price: 402,800€ On the edge of a village between, within walking distance of all amenities, this water mill comprises 3 en-suite bedrooms, large living room, kitchen, office, garage plus a small one-bedroom gite. The house is beaming with character and set in a tranquil location in a 3/4 acre of gardens. Taux d’honoraires 22,800€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: D. Classe Climat: D.

71,500€ HAI

(65,000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34331

MILLAC (86). Cosy, renovated, detached 1-bed house with office, terrace, 2 cellars, storage room and mains drains. Set on 114m2. Classe Energie F Classe Climate B

140 400€ HAI

(130 000€ + 10% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34313

AVAILLES-LIMOUZINE (86). Semi-detached 4-bed house with character in village. Attached garage, cellar, terrace, adjoining garden. Classe Energie vierge Classe Climate vierge

Ref : 9849-MO - Location: Monpazier - Price: 577,500€ Stone house combining Perigordian charm with contemporary features. Built in 2014, it offers large kitchen, laundry room, 4 bedrooms, attached garage and swimming pool. Created and finished with high quality materials, polished concrete, air conditioning & heating pump. Set on 1.85 acres of land, including 0.75 acre of fenced garden. Taux d’honoraires 27,500€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: B. Classe Climat: A.

93,500€ HAI

(85,000€ + 6% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34339

CONFOLENS (16). Town centre, 50m to market. Investment opportunity: 3 flats above commercial shop with terrace. Elec heating, mains. Classe F Classe Climate E

129 600€ HAI

(120 000€ + 8% fee payable by buyer)

Ref. 34305

HIESSE(16). Pretty 3-bed longere with outbuildings and land in a village. All set on approx. 5555m2 of land. Classe Energie vierge Classe Climate vierge

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

Ref : 8395-VI - Location: Villereal - Price: 220,375€ Fully renovated about 8 years ago, this stunning barn conversion offers a beautiful living-room, fully equipped kitchen / dining-room, master bedroom with ensuite, utility-room, spacious mezzanine / playroom, second bedroom and extra space suitable for conversion. Large adjoining garage and set on approx. 1/2 acre of land. Taux d’honoraires 15,375€ (7.5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur. Classe Energie: vierge. Classe Climat: vierge.

La Foncière Charentaise The friendly face of properTies in s/W france

Prix 118,800 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) Prix 95,900 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) 3 bedrooms Village house to Very attractive apartment located in a refresh with nice enclosed garden secure residence : entrance, large living 5 minutes to local amenities room/lounge opening onto south east facing balcony, 2 bedrroms, fitted Ref: 9658 DPE: F kitchen , bathroom, Wc. lots of light, Perfect condition Ref 9735 DPE: C

Prix 44,000 € (Fees paid by buyer incl.) Charming stone cottage with private courtyard garden ideal for your holidays or 1st step into french life!

We are always looking for new quality properties! Please get in touch!

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Real Estate in Charente Maritime SELL FASTER, BUY SMARTER English spoken, excellent service Mobile: 06 72 73 60 11

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50 | living gardens Featured author and photographer Alan Waterman

ors gardens & outdo

Woodland Wildflowers Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)

When spring is in the air, down in the soil nature will already be stirring, so we look at some of the wildflowers which will soon be putting in an appearance Orpine (Hylotelephium telephium)

Nettle-leaved Bellflower, white form (Campanula trachelium alba)

flower has a lip. It’s a good woodland plant as it is very attractive to bees. The large lip serves as a landing pad and the pink colour helps direct them in,” he says. ”It has been used over the ages in various countries as a cure for a vast range of ailments. There is some scientific evidence that it contains a number of active ingredients which may well be beneficial. One study found that the essential oil from the leaves could be used for sedative, narcotic, antifungal and antibacterial effects and that it is a muscle relaxant and spasmolytic.” Slightly later we might chance upon Spiked Star of Bethlehem (Polygonatum multiflorum), which is relatively scarce in the UK but very common in France and Spain. According to Alan: “It can often be seen along country roads in

Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)


Spiked Star of Bethlehem (Polygonatum multiflorum)

ere in south west France our winters, even if not always mild, do have an endearing habit of slipping into springtime rather earlier than elsewhere. With that in mind, we decided to leave the garden to its slumbers and consider some of the wildflowers we might encounter through the seasons during woodland walks, with some expert insight from retired biologist Alan Waterman. To help us identify what we find we’ll be delving into Alan’s recently published ‘Woodland Wild Flowers Through the Seasons’, to discover some of the native plants commonly found in our region. We begin in springtime with Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris), the shape of whose distinctive flowers inspired the slightly unflattering name ‘Old Ladies’ Bonnet’. Preferring less

shaded spots, they’re often found in hedgerows or beside woodland drives, where they can reach 150cm in height. The true native form has purple or blue flowers, but many now have other hues as a result of cross-pollination with garden varieties. “My father used to have Aquilegias in the garden which grew to about half a metre high. The flowers will have been bred by gardeners, but I contend that no Aquilegia is an improvement on the original,” says Alan. Next up is the unfortunately named Bastard Balm (Melittis melissophyllum), which Alan considers one of the most attractive members of the nettle family, since at first glance its flowers resemble those of some orchids. “It’s in a large group of plants commonly known as Labiates, meaning the



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Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)

Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus)

for more cartoons by stig see

shaded areas. If there’s woodland on both sides of the road it is often present – it dislikes too much light. Before they come into bloom they resemble thin spikes of asparagus, hence the common UK name Bath Asparagus. Once gathered and sold in markets in Bath for consumption, and still eaten in some European countries, there are suspicions that it may be slightly poisonous. Its flower spikes usually bear twenty or more blooms.” One of the stars of late spring and early summer is the Spreading Bellflower (Campanula patula) – an attractive wild plant with lots of Harebell-like flowers carried on several stalks. “They’re woodland

plants but will grow quite happily in the hedgerows in full sunshine,” says Alan. They grow in deciduous and pine forests, woods, fields and roadsides, along railway lines and hedgerows, preferably in partial shade, in dry-to-moist sites and on clay soils relatively rich in nitrogen. The Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) is related to it – while more commonly found as a garden plant, escapes do occur, so it might be seen in the countryside. So, how do you tell them apart? “The individual bells of the Spreading Bellflower grow at right angles to the stem or even point upwards, while those of Creeping Bellflower hang down.”

Rather more impressive is the Nettleleaved Bellflower, which can grow to 100cm in height and carries large bluish-purple bell-shaped flowers. Alan explains: “This is a native plant that is sold by many wildflower and seed suppliers, because it is imposing and rivals many cultivated garden plants. Here in France I see it quite often. It likes shady places and will grow in fairly dense woodland – it likes the soil rich, dryish and neutral-to-alkaline. Sometimes called ‘Bats-in-the-belfry’, it’s also known as Throatwort, and is thought to be a cure for tonsilitis.” The final member of the native Bellflower family we might encounter anywhere in France apart from around

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living gardens | 53

Butcher’s Broom seed pods

the Mediterranean is the Peach-leaved variety (Campanula persicifolia). “The ones pictured were very conspicuous and growing beside the road in a wooded area,” recalls Alan. “They were identifiable as the Peach-Leaved species because the splits in the petals did not cut back deeply and each stem had only a few flowers on it. Many of the flowers had attracted little metallic green beetles, no doubt helping out with the pollination process. The stigma, which splits into three, typical of the genus, is very noticeable. The species that is familiar to most people is the Harebell, but this is a grassland species, not found in woodland.” Another distinctive woodland flower is the pink-flowered Orpine (Hylotelephium telephium), which is related to the white-flowered Stonecrops, but is much bigger, growing up to 100cm in height. In the UK the plants are often referred to by common names such as Livelong, Life Everlasting, Frog’s Stomach, Orphan John and Moneybags. As Alan explains: “The references to long life arise because it is a succulent plant and pieces that get broken off survive a long time before they dry up and wither away. It’s a perennial herb, found on woodland borders, hedge banks, roadsides and rocky banks, often in small but persistent colonies. It’s

often found in ancient woodland but fails to flower there.” Later, as summer is about to slip into autumn, Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale) makes its appearance. Although sometimes known as Autumn Crocus it’s not a member of the Crocus family; the flowers have white stigma, while those of true Crocuses are yellow (and harvested for saffron). The flowers emerge after the leaves have died back, and this gives rise to Meadow Saffron’s other name: Naked Ladies. “The plant contains a substance called colchicum which is highly poisonous, and has resulted in fatalities when people have collected the leaves, mistaking them for those of wild garlic,” says Alan. “Throughout the ages, extracts of colchicum have been used as a way of warding off gout, and it is now possible to buy preparations of colchisine to prevent its recurrence.” Finally we come to Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus) – a remarkable plant, as Alan reveals: “Its leaves are tiny, almost invisible, so to compensate for this reduction in photosynthetic surface, the stem has developed large flattened protuberances which look exactly like leaves and are green. After flowering very early in the year Butcher’s Broom produces large round seed pods which are originally green,

The Book and Its Author

After a lifetime of lecturing, and later as founding director of a field studies centre in the UK, Alan now devotes much of his energy to restoring an area of woodland he and his wife Anita purchased some years ago in Gloucestershire and spending time in a small house near Charroux (86) which they’ve owned since 1989. Woodland Wild Flowers Through the Seasons by Alan Waterman is published by Merlin Unwin.


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but ripen to rich red. Most bushes produce only a few berries, which are possibly eaten by birds or small mammals. The bushes are around 75cm tall and the small flowers develop in the centre of the leaf-like phylloclade, with three petals and three sepals, and are green with a slight purple blush. The structure is reminiscent of Snowdrops, to which this plant is indeed related, both being part of the Asparagaceae.” That takes us well into winter and beyond, and along the way we’ve encountered only a handful of what’s actually out there waiting to stop us in our tracks. Woodland walks are hugely enjoyable at any time of year, and we’re grateful to Alan for opening our eyes a little wider during future forays.

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living music | 65

For the Upbeat good times We look at how French fan loyalty has provided life support to British musicians


ainstream French FM radio stations seem to have something of an obsession with hits from the past by UK artistes, many of whom have long since slipped from the charts and into relative obscurity in their homeland. Curious, don’t you think? It certainly is, and it tells us something about attitudes to music and those who create it. While the UK music industry feeds on a constant supply of new faces eager to take their place on the conveyor belt until they’re eclipsed by the next in line, in France both the media and the fans still show refreshing loyalty. That’s why some creative UK talents continue to pack concert halls here in France. Ex-Supertramp frontman Roger Hodgson, for example, has performed twice at Cognac Blues Passions and was declared Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture in 2019. Another familiar name is British-born singer and actress Jane Birkin, partner and muse of Serge Gainsbourg. Now remembered in the UK predominantly Murray Head

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for her heavy breathing on Je t’aime moi non plus, she has built a sizable following since relocating to France in 1970. Nine years ahead of her was English rock n’ roll singer Vince Taylor, whose wild stage persona inspired David Bowie’s creation Ziggy Stardust. Virtually unknown in the UK, Taylor found huge success in Europe when his Brand New Cadillac became a French number one, and would later be covered by The Clash on their London Calling album. Someone else who has so far enjoyed their greatest success here is English singer-songwriter Charlie Winston, whose Like a Hobo topped the French charts and remained in the top five for eleven weeks in 2009. The following year the promo video for I Love Your Smile co-featured Audrey Tautou (star of Amélie, Da Vinci Code and many more) and in 2015 Charlie made his mark at Cognac Blues Passions. Another familiar voice on French airwaves belongs to Murray Head, who for a while enjoyed a high-profile film, TV and stage acting career in the UK,

while never quite achieving the music breakthrough he longed for. In a strange twist of fate, however, things began to fall into place in France, where he enjoyed chart successes with Say It Ain’t So, Joe (1975, 2013) and One Night in Bangkok (1984). Having gained a loyal following among his growing number of French fans, he spent several years moving between the two cultures. That would have been a lot less traumatic than it might sound, since he has described his parents as being “France mad”, even sending him to the French Lycée in London, an experience which gave him valuable insight into France, its language and culture. Not surprisingly, he eventually based himself in a flat in Paris, where he remained until relocating full-time to an old house he’d bought in the Béarn region of the Pyrénées. He continues to record there, and has no intention of leaving France. Sadly, continuing to tour in France and other EU countries post-Brexit looks challenging for British artistes, but for now each radio play will ensure that the flame still burns. Jane Birkin




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66 | living Language

Pardon? I

t’s never easy being a translator, especially if you’re working in film subtitles, novel translations or international diplomacy. If 2022 is anything like 2021, we can perhaps expect a little hotting-up of Anglo-French political tensions, especially with the media on both sides of the channel keen to make mountains out of molehills and cause diplomatic incidents. It feels unlikely to be less a year of l’entente cordiale than a détestation cordiale, with Macron allegedly calling his British counterpart un clown and un gougnafier according to Le Canard Enchaîné as we saw out 2021. Clown we can get our heads around (as long as you understand it’s pronounced ‘cloon’ for the French) but gougnafier needs some unpicking. Larousse defines it as a good-fornothing or a worthless person – boorish, perhaps – whereas the English-speaking media opted for knucklehead. If you’re a fan of Queneau’s celebrated 1959 novel ‘Zazie Dans Le Métro’ or the wonderful film that followed, then you’ll be familiar with the term as one bandied about by schoolgirls, like un galapiat, un gougnafier and perhaps even un conducteur du dimanche. If you want insults, you’re in good company with a 1950s schoolgirl. Un galapiat is a glutton or a gannet, un conducteur du dimanche is a Sunday driver, and taken in that sense, we might think of a gougnafier being something like nincompoop, wazzock, nitwit, ninny, wally or numpty... those kind of mildly offensive yet relatively meaningless dated expressions that you could get away with calling your siblings when you were almost ten years old. Ultimately, all expressions like this do is cause a headache for translators who are trying not to cause

Language expert Emma-Jane Lee considers insults, both old and new...

Perhaps we’d all do as well to go back to Zazie and dig out some of the wonderful insults of the 1950s? Crasseux, meaning dirty, grubby or grimy, une rombière meaning a pretentious old woman or old biddy and un gros cochon or fat pig are just some joyous insults from the first two pages of Queneau’s novel. I have to say that politics would probably be improved if politicians all stuck to insults from seventy years ago. Still, Queneau isn’t much easier to translate than les hommes et an incident and have no idea exactly what femmes politiques of our times, and the might best serve as a translation. potty-mouthed Zazie often uses words Les faux amis, or those Franco-English that are less than delicate, especially expressions which sound alike but mean concerning the leadership. Perhaps her different things, are often ripe fodder immortal words about Napoléon: cet for complicating diplomatic relations. enflé, avec son chapeau à la con – a useful Castex’s speech about the consequences phrase for any political bigwig in a hat. of Brexit went down very badly when Enflé is another word that doesn’t have dommages was taken literally by the a direct translation into English, not right-wing British press. They took it least because it’s used here as a noun, to mean that the French Prime Minister but meaning a braggart or a self-imwas saying the French wanted to inflict portant puffed-up type. It’s not that far damage upon the UK for leaving the from insults about Macron’s verticalité European Union, rather than taking it in jupitérienne after all. I don’t need to tell its French sense meaning ‘downsides’ or you what Zazie thinks of Napoleon’s hat. negative consequences. There’s nothing In any case, whether you’re listening to like a poor translation to fan the flames of the news or simply dipping into classic diplomatic tension. I’m not sure it’s much films and novels, sometimes it’s simply easier to leave things untranslated. In better when British politicians resort any case, if you can manage ‘Zazie Dans to Franglais and implore the French to ‘donnez-moi un break’ and ‘prenez un grip’. Le Métro’, I can only congratulate you. As things heat up on this side of With all the outdated slang, the word La Manche towards the presidential play and the swearing, you’ll be well elections, Macron’s competition prepared for the presidential elections isn’t making it much easier; how coming along soon. Anglophones will interpret some of the Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, insults is anybody’s guess. One criticism writing English textbooks, translating, is that his verticalité jupitérienne, chaotique marking exam scripts and teaching is holding back the country. Heaven only languages. She lives near La Rochefoucauld knows how that’ll be translated. Chaotic with her growing menagerie. See and imperious uprightness, maybe?

L i ving

PUBLISHER: Kathryn Dobson FEATURES EDITOR: Roger Moss Advertising: Jon Dobson Art editor: Nadia Van den Rym repro & Production: Justin Silvester Regular contributors: Caro Feely, Susan Hays, Jessica Knipe, Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Mike Morris, and Stig Tomas. magazine WITH THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler, Julia Moss. Photography: Shutterstock or Roger Moss unless indicated. Cover image: Renault 4L in Morocco at 4L Trophy 2020 © Raid 4L Trophy / FlashSport 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: 82 ISSN: 2270-2709.

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