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L i ving Basque FREE!


feb | march 2018



* Ruelle’s Glory Days * A taste for the Ile de Ré * What’s On & Much More

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Open an account today (3)* Tel: 0033 (0)2 31 55 67 89* (1) Zero fees when making purchases or withdrawing money abroad with your CA Britline Classic or Premier International debit card. Local costs may apply. (2) Within the limits and conditions provided in the assistance and insurance contracts subscribed to by Crédit Agricole Assurance Paiement, insurance broker registered with ORIAS under no 10 058 272 (, on behalf of the cardholder. For assistance: Mutuaide Assistance (8/14, avenue des Frères-Lumière 94366 Bry-sur-Marne Cedex). For insurance CAMCA (53, rue La Boétie CS40107 75380 Paris Cedex 08). These companies are subject to the control of the ACPR (61, rue Taitbout 75436 Paris Cedex 09). (3)Subject to acceptance of your file, subscription is available to any person aged 18 years or over and accountholder with CA Britline. Ask your adviser about the availability, terms and conditions of use and the annual card fee. Debit cards: cards that are debited immediately, cards with systematic authorisation. Payment transactions are debited from the linked account within a maximum of 48 hours. Ask your adviser about the availability, terms and conditions of use and the annual card fee. Debit cards: cards that are debited immediately, cards with systematic authorisation. Payment transactions are debited from the linked account within a maximum of 48 hours. Visa Europe Ltd (French branch), 21, bd de la Madeleine - 75038 Paris Cedex 01, registered with the RCS of Paris under number 509 930 699. *Local costs apply when phoning from France from a fixed line. Check with your service provider when calling from abroad. Free access by Internet (excluding fees charged by your service provider). Photo: Crédit Agricole Normandie. CA Britline is a branch of the Caisse Régionale de Crédit Agricole Mutuel de Normandie - Head Office: 15, esplanade Brillaud-de-Laujardière - CS 25014 - 14050 CAEN CEDEX 4 - Cooperative company with variable capital, registered as a credit company - 478 834 930 RCS Caen - Insurance brokerage company registered under matricule Nr 07 022 868. CA Britline is a member of the Guaranteed Fund for deposits, the Guarantee of Investors warranties, and Guaranteed Fund for investors. CA Britline is controlled by L’Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution: 61 rue Taitbout - 75436 Paris Cedex 09.

February/March 2018


Bonne Année to all our wonderful readers and advertisers - we hope that 2018 brings you peace and happiness! Here at Living HQ, our new year resolution is to solve the conundrum that is at the centre of all that we do. We all know that print advertising budgets are being squeezed hard and with paper, diesel and many other costs pushing ever upwards, it is becoming more challenging for us to write, design, print and deliver such a high quality magazine for free all year round, especially during the winter months. As a small, family business, we run Living on a shoestring and hard work, but the shoestring is becoming ever shorter! Many of you have said that you would happily pay to read Living but to make this possible, we would have to rebuild our distribution network and cut out our marvellous stockists, many small businesses themselves who rely on having Living to bring in customers. So, instead, we have decided to try something completely different and appeal directly to you, our readers! If you enjoy reading this edition of Living, then please read the inside back cover to see how you can ‘buy us a coffee’ for just 3€. Every reader who enjoys this edition and buys us a ‘coffee’ (we won’t spend the money on coffee!) will help us ensure that Living continues to be delivered to readers as it is today. And, if you have enjoyed Living over the last ten years, you can always buy a few ‘coffees’ to help us get this new idea off the ground. Thank you! À bientôt






Winter Walks



Basque Style

From the coast to the mountains, Susan Hays finds ways to blow away the winter cobwebs

Roger Moss takes a trip south to explore the Basque coast out of season


There’s still plenty of jobs we can do in the garden before everything begins to spring into life again.


Delicious mushroom recipes from Nikki’s kitchen

Snippets News from around the region

Puzzle Break Rise to the challenge of our exclusive crossword

Nikki Legon’s Cuisine


Keeping Spirits High



Winemaker Caro Feely introduces the basics of pairing wines with foods

The Charentais town of Ruelle-sur-Touvre has a proud military history, as we find out


Living Property Pages


A Recipe for Success Jessica Knipe meets the Ile-de-Ré sisters baking up a storm


Saint-Georges-de-Didonne offers seaside charm with easy access to modern amenities


Hook, Line and Sinker

Citizen’s Rights after Brexit What does the December ‘deal’ means for British readers

Looking ahead to the trout season with Ron Cousins

How to keep ‘Living’ free for you Buy from our advertisers and tell them you found them in ‘Living’ 120,000 readers 1,000 stockists


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Upbeat We take a look at the enduring love for Johnny Hallyday and France Gall


Pardon! As Valentine’s Day approaches, Emma-Jane Lee peeks into le boudoir


Business Directory The best local services & suppliers

64 Places to go around the region

For all editorial & subscription enquiries: or phone + 33 (0)5 49 87 29 71 For all advertising: or phone Jon on +33 (0)5 49 87 29 71 Postal subscriptions start at only €35 for a full year see


Rouillac Cognac




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News from around the region...


Emmaüs - leaders in solidarity

Founded in 1949 by the Catholic priest and Capuchin friar Father Henri-Antoine Groues, better known as Abbé Pierre, Emmaüs has grown to become one of the pillars of the solidarity movement worldwide. Abbé Pierre, a former member of the Resistance, was also an MP and fought to provide accommodation for the homeless people in Paris. Searching for ways to support his work, he organised ‘rag pickers’ to collect unwanted items for resale, an act which remains at the very heart of Emmaüs today. From the mid-1950s, Emmaüs expanded internationally and now there are 350 organisations in 37 countries. The secular organisation continues to focus on combatting poverty and social exclusion by running incomegenerating activities while bringing people together to press for change at a local level. There are many Emmaüs centres across the region which welcome both volunteers and donations with many offering a collection service for bulky items – see for details. Those in Charente have regular opening hours but also organise huge sale days where some amazing bargains can be found. The 2018 dates are: LA COURONNE: 9 /10 March, 8/9 June, 13 July, 18 August, 5/6 October, 7/8 December COGNAC: 7 April, 30 June, 22 September, 24 November CONFOLENS: 5 May, 10 November


A fishy tale

As you will read in our angling pages, the trout season is about to open here in France. Recently, a local fishing club released 150 egg-laden female trout into a tributary of the Charente near Marsac with the hope of beginning a restocking project in this Category 2 water. Two pensioners downstream couldn’t believe their luck when they headed into their riverside gardens and saw the trout gathering. Despite it being the closed season and the local association explaining the aims of their project, the association now believe their trout are in the freezer and there appears to be little they can do. It looks as though the dream of restocking the Charente with trout will need to wait just a little longer.

For the second year, Segonzac will be hosting the Salon des Sites Remarquables du Goût at the Salles des Distilleries from 2pm on Friday 2 Feb through until 6pm on Sunday 4 Feb. Meet food and drink producers from across France, taste their wares and take home your choice of goodies. Entry is free.

The15th Foire aux Vins et à la Gastronomie takes place in Saint Saturnin over the weekend of 3 and 4 March. Some 70 producers promote their produce in the Salle des Sports from 10am-7pm Saturday and 9am-6pm Sunday. Entry is free. Mars en Braconne featuring concerts, exhibitions, workshops and more runs from 16 to 24 March in the Grand Angoulême communes of Asnièressur-Nouère, Balzac, Brie, Champniers, Gond-Pontouvre, Jauldes, Marsac et Vindelle. Full details can be found on the website

HANDS-ON COOKERY WORKSHOPS WITH REZA MAHAMMAD Join celebrity chef Reza Mahammad for a hands on cookery workshop at his home in the Charente. Reza teaches a three-course Indian, Middle Eastern or Thai menu, conveying his passion and infectious enthusiasm for food and entertaining. Courses limited to 8. Participants create a delicious, authentic meal with Reza’s expert guidance. Lunch is enjoyed by all, served with wine and hosted by Reza.

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News from around the region...

Pick of the best

events this summer

Our round-up of the top dates for the year ahead 5 May-3 June The Festival International de Musique de Chambre en Charente is celebrating their tenth anniversary with five weekends of world class chamber music in historic surroundings. 29 June-1 July St Cybardeaux is playing host to Les Sarabandes with its eclectic mix of street theatre, art exhibitions, games and lighting shows. 29 June-1 July Enjoy jazz for all ages during the Respire Jazz Festival in the unique surroundings of the Abbaye d’Aignes at Puypéroux.

together at the long-running Festival de Confolens which is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

18-19 August Following the success of the inaugural eco-friendly Fest’Aigre featuring ‘musique solidaire’, plans are in place for the 2018 edition. 2-3 September Street theatre with a festival atmosphere at the Coup de Chauffe, Cognac. 15-23 September For a photographic exhibition with a difference, visit Barrobjectif near Ruffec where works are exhibited along a walk through the village and surrounding area.

3-7 July James Blunt (pictured) headlines the 25th edition of Cognac Blues Passions. Also confirmed are Santana and Beth Ditto. 26-28 July La Fête du Cognac combines music and local Charentaise gastronomy on the quayside of this historic town. 13-18 August World music and dance come

Many of the dates are yet to be finally confirmed, see our 2018 Summer Guide published in June for the latest information.

La Taverne

The imposing Château de Chalais, home to the noble Tallyrand-Périgord family for centuries, has many tales to tell. And, within its inner courtyard, a new chapter has begun with the re-opening of La Taverne restaurant, now under new management and offering delicious meals prepared with local fresh ingredients in a medieval atmosphere. The restaurant marries modern regional fare, including specially crafted vegetarian dishes, with a traditional ambiance and there is even English ale on tap from Périgord Beers. Step back in time and create some fun memories by dining dressed in medieval attire furnished by the Taverne (or bring your own!). In addition, once per month, you can enjoy a Medieval spectacular by local association ‘Les Derniers Remparts’ - call the restaurant or consult their Facebook page or website for the schedule. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. 15 Rue du Château, 16210 Chalais; tel: 05 45 98 12 08;;; FB: la taverne du chateau de chalais.

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Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes

charenteNews from around the region... maritime Pick of the best Rock pooling rules! events this summer Royan

Pêche à pied or rock pooling is a popular pastime on our Atlantic coastline as a survey in 2010 confirmed when 150,000 individuals took part in 700,000 days around the Charente estuary. Of these, 40 per cent took place on the Ile d’Oléron and 30 per cent on the Ile de Ré placing these delicate environments under pressure. In response, new rules have come into force from the beginning of 2018. The total catch weight of 5kg remains but cockles (coques) can now only account for 2kg and the same for tellina clams (tellines) while 200 carpet shell clams (palourdes about 4kg) are allowed. Your bucket cannot contain more than 8 spider crabs (araignées de mer) and there is a defined list of tools per species that are permitted. For each species there is also a minimum size – the full details can be found on www.iodde. org, the website for the association Ile d’Oléron Développement Durable Environnement. The best advice remains to only use your hands, to not take away more than you can consume and of course, check the tide table on maree info before venturing out. The good news is that recent surveys suggest that individuals are more aware of the importance of leaving the rockpools as they find them to preserve the pools for future generations.

Our round-up of the top dates for the year ahead

31 March-2 April The Châtelaillon Plage season begins with kites galore on the beach over Easter weekend as part of the Festival du Cerf-Volant et du Vent. 22-23 June Camp in a lakeside setting with music by Jahneration, Caballero & JeanJass, and Petit Biscuit with more acts to be confirmed at the Free Music Festival, Montendre. 29 June-8 July The Festival international du film de La Rochelle shows films from around the world and this year celebrates the works of Ingmar Bergman with a retrospective of the films of Robert Bresson. 11-15 July La Rochelle welcomes thousands of concert-goers to Francofolies. As always, the line-up features the best on the French music scene including OrelSan, MC Solaar and Shaka Ponk. 13-21 July Enjoy classical music in the atmospheric surroundings of the Abbaye aux Dames during the Festival de Saintes. Programme details will be revealed in March.

17 July-2 August Musique en Ré – a mixture of free and ticketed classical concerts across the island. 21- 28 July Un Violon Sur Le Sable – picnic on the beach at Royan before enjoying an evening of wonderful music, all topped off by fireworks, truly one of a kind. 28 July-3 August Fun street theatre in the seaside town of Saint-Georges-deDidonne with the Festival Humour et Eau Salée. 2-5 August For electro music head to Summer Sound, Rochefort, which promises some of the biggest DJs on the planet, but precisely which ones is still under wraps. 18-21 August Crescendo showcases progressive rock on the beach at Saint-Palaissur-Mer with bands from France and abroad. All concerts are free. 26 September-1 October Le Grand Pavois, La Rochelle’s nautical event with a spectacular harbour show with fireworks on Saturday evening.

See our 2018 Summer Guide published in June for the latest information.

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News from around the region...

Venetian Carnival The 9 Carnaval Vénitien will bring a th

taste of Italy to the streets of Etaules on 10-11 March. On Saturday, the handmade costumes will be exhibited with a parade of classic cars. The main costumed procession takes place on Sunday when more than fifty costumes will be on display. In case of rain, the event will take place in the Salle Municipale.

New year, new charges

As we welcomed in the New Year, we also welcomed in new prices - here are some of the changes to watch out for... case in La Rochelle where put on printing your own the 30€ FPS reduces to 17€ if stamps at home which Postage: paid in 72 hours. offers a slight saving of Despite there having been three cents for both the red a hefty increase last year, Health: and green stamps. there has been another The fixed fee charged per significant price rise this day, le forfeit hospitalier, Transport: year. In particular, red Diesel went up by 7.6 cents increased from 18€ to prioiritaire stamps jumped and petrol by 3.84 cents 20€ - many insurance from 0.85€ to 0.95€ (a across the country as the top-up policies cover this. 58 per cent increase since government continues to Several medications based 2012) while the green bring the two fuels in line on thiocolchicoside and lettre verte stamp went with each other. There used for back pain will up from 0.73€ to 0.80€. has been a change in the no longer be reimbursed The cheapest option for standard 17€ parking fine. after questions over their letters under 250g, écopli, Those found guilty of efficacy. Finally, vaccinations increased from 0.71€ to parking offences will now have been made obligatory 0.78€ for a 20g letter. The be fined a fee, le forfait de for children before they blue 20g Europe stamp post-stationnement (FPS), set can enter school. Eleven increased from 1.10€ to by the municipality which will in total are required in five 1.20€ while the violet 20g range from 10-60€ although appointments from two world stamp stays at 1.30€. there may be a reduction for months to 16-18 months. Greater emphasis is being prompt payment as is the Ask your GP for full details.

Mimosa Festival

A great way to blow away the winter blues is to visit La Fête du Mimosa from 16-18 February at Saint-Trojan-les-Bains. Each year, the cheerful yellow flower is celebrated with free concerts, special rides on the Petit train Touristique and the highlight, the grand parade at 2pm on Sunday featuring bands, dancers, decorated floats and plenty of mimosa. The 3-day festival has been held every year since 1959 and attracts visitors from far and wide. Visit by appointment: +33 (0)5 46 26 80 65

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News from around the region...


Pick of the best

events this summer

Our round-up of the top dates for the year ahead to the region, no language required. 23-29 July International art, dance and music at the Festival Cultures aux Cœurs at Montignac, the highlight this year is a kung fu show by Shaolin monks on Saturday night.

Brasserie Le Pressoir

Does a glass of local wine, a cold beer or a cocktail with a platter of tapas sound good? Then this is the place for you. Just a short hop over the Dordogne border in the heart of the St Emilion vineyards, Brasserie Le Pressoir offers traditional regional fare from fresh local ingredients. The restaurant is set in an old wine chai where you can enjoy locally produced wines and spirits including English crafted ales from Périgord Beers. The newly updated menu features fresh local specialities and vegetarian dishes as well as house specials including Pressoir smoked salmon and pure Limousin beef burgers. Friday and Saturday nights are a time for celebration and music – start the weekend with Happy Hour on Friday while Saturday frequently features live music or a theme night. Just check out their Facebook page for the latest updates or give them a call. And if you are looking for somewhere to host a group or special occasion then ask their English-speaking staff for details, they are happy to design a custom menu for you. Open 7 days a week, the two-course lunch menu costs 10.50€ while evening menus start at 16€. Lieu dit Queyrai - 33570 Petit Palais et Cornemps; tel 05 57 69 73 25; FB campingLEpressoir.

29 June-1 July Celebrate the langue d’oc with a traditional fête, La Félibrée, at Saint-Cyprien (see photo). 17 July-7 August Classical music in historic surroundings with Musique en Périgord Vert. 19 July-4 August Festival des Jeux du Théâtre de Sarlat, a festival of live theatre. 23-28 July Mimos at Périgueux welcomes international mime artists

26-29 July (tbc) Enjoy world class baroque music in historic settings at the Festival Itinéraire Baroque en Périgord Vert. 28-29 July 3,000 visitors marvel at the scarecrows in all shapes and sizes on show at the Festival des Epouvantails, Meyrals. 28-29 July Festival Forges et Métallurgie at Etouars live demonstrations from artisans dedicated to metalwork and forges.

Many of the dates are yet to be finally confirmed, please check details before visiting.

Brantôme Police Horses

Since their move to France in 2007, Brantôme Police Horses run by Roland and Alison Phillips has become a popular tourist attraction in Dordogne welcoming over 5,000 visitors in 2017. A not-for-profit association, the sanctuary is an offshoot of the longestablished Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary founded by Roland’s mother Sylvia. Dedicated to the care and protection of police horses from the UK that have been retired through old age, injury or mental trauma, the sanctuary was delighted to be ranked second in Tripadvisor’s recommendations of ‘things to do’ in Dordogne in 2017. Given the significant feed and care costs, this was a welcome boost for their fundraising efforts especially as they begin to develop their work with disabled children and adults in 2018. Visitors experience a multimedia presentation about the life of a police horse which explains why the horses have been brought to France, before meeting the many equines and learning their individual stories. BPH also have a busy calendar of events and fundraisers which can be found at their website:



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News from around the region... Salon des Vins et Terroirs de Thouars (79) will take place at the Orangerie du Château on 23-25 March. Meet over 100 wine producers from across France, including twenty local producers, at this fair which last year celebrated its 70th anniversary. See



Deux-sèvres & Vendée Mother’s Day UK 11 March USA 13 May France 27 May

Pick of the best events this summer Our round-up of the top dates for the year ahead


20-25 March Terri’Thouars Blues kicks off the festival season with an international blues line-up including Victor Puertas and Chino, Tom Holland and for the first time in France, Daniel Russell. 26-28 April Music, theatre, circus, visual arts and more are on offer at Artjoyette at Saint-Varent. 28 May-4 June Street theatre, concerts, clowns and more are all part of Festival Ah! in the Pays de Gatine and central Parthenay. 17 June Now a firm fixture in the marathon calendar, book your place on the Maraisthon, an eco-marathon at the heart of the Marais Poitevin or join in one of the walks (11 & 15km).

6-10 July (tbc) Festival Terres de Danses at Bressuire welcomes dance troupes from around the world. 7-13 July Brioux-sur-Boutonne is celebrating 30 years of Festival au Village with theatre, songs, dance and more. 10-15 July Children aged from 7-14 years arrive from across the globe to perform at the Festival des Enfants du Monde at Saint Maixent l’Ecole. 11-22 July Festival Ludique International de Parthenay features games of all shapes & sizes including board and video games. 16 July-4 August (tbc) Enjoy classical music in beautiful surroundings at Les Estivales d’Artenetra held at the Abbaye royale de Celles-sur-Belle.

25-28 July (tbc) Festival de Bouche à Oreille at Parthenay features traditional music and dance from across Poitou-Charentes and Vendée.


16-18 March Festival Acoustic at Le Poiré-sur Vie features Keziah Jones and French duo Brigitte. 11-12 May Live concerts of emerging music at La 7ème Vague at Brétignolles-sur-Mer, this year show casing Muyayo Rif and Romeo Elvis.

6-9 July Festival A Tout Vent at Notre Dame de Monts where kites will be flying high all weekend. July-August With over 130 productions in 10 seaside towns, Le Déferlante celebrates 25 years of free live music and theatre events. 9-27 July Festival de Poupet offers live music in the natural surroundings of the Poupet valley. Deep Purple and OrelSan headline. Mid July (dates tbc) Classical music concerts in historic settings with the Nuits Musicales en Vendée Romane. 25 August-1 September Dans les Jardins de William Christie – classical music concerts by Les Arts Florissants. Many of the dates are yet to be finally confirmed, see our 2018 Summer Guide for more info.

News from around the region... Luçon cathedral

Slowing Down

In a measure to reduce road deaths, the government has recently announced that the speed limit on the 400,000km of secondary roads in France will be reduced from 90km/h to 80km/h. The only exceptions will be where there are dual carriageways on both sides of the road separated by a barrier. As two thirds of road deaths occur on secondary roads, it is hoped that the measure will save 400 lives each year. However, the move does not have the backing of key driving associations, and the public is divided with many seeing it as a way to fine more drivers for speeding rather than an effective safety measure. Road safety associations back the speed reduction. The measure comes into force on 1 July and will be reviewed on 1 July 2020.

Angers English Library Vendée Cathedrals For those in the north of the region, Angers English-language Library is an excellent resource offering access to over 30,000 books (including for children) as well as ebooks and more. Six books, two audio Cds and two DVDs can be borrowed for three weeks from the library at 60 rue Boisnet. Members may also borrow one ebook at a time. Annual membership costs 45€ with a 20% reduction for retirees and 40% for teachers. Family membership costs 60€ and the library is open Tues to Sat from 1-6pm (7pm on Thu). There are also many activities for adults, students and children based at the library including a book club, conversation groups in English and French, knit and natter and reading Shakespeare. Find out more on

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Bright and modern A/C, 2-bed Mobile Home in a fantastic location on Prairies de La Mer with its own private beach. Bars, restaurants, water sports facilities and spa centre on-site. For details, email

In 1317, Pope John XXII created two new dioceses in Poitou, Maillezais and Luçon. Maillezais inspired Rabelais’ book ‘Gargantua’ in the 16th century and Luçon witnessed Richelieu’s first steps into politics. The exhibition ‘La Vendée des Cathédrales’ at l’Historial de la Vendée charts these seven centuries of history. The largest ever exhibition hosted at l’Historial, there are more than 230 objects on display including paintings, illustrated manuscripts, liturgical objects, sculptures and pieces in gold and silver. Visitors are guided through seven museum spaces charting the passage of history from the creation of the dioceses through the Renaissance, the influence of Richelieu, the Revolution, to the arrival of Jean Paul II at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre in 1996. The exhibition runs until 25 February and is open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm, entry costs 8€ (free for under 18s). Find more details on www.




vienne (86)

Chauvigny Montmorillon

Le Dorat

Charroux Civray

Bellac Nieul



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



haute-vienne (87)


Pick of the best events this summer Our round-up of the top dates for the year ahead:


31 May-8 June Festival Jazzellerault at Châtellerault welcomes an international line up of jazz musicians. 26-28 July Live bands in the park on the banks of the Charente at the Festival au Fil du Son, Civray. Buy a three-day pass and make a weekend of it. 9-11-13 August An international cast perform Puccini’s Tosca in a gallo-roman amphitheatre during Les Soirées Lyriques de Sanxay. 22-25 August 18th century arts and traditions are celebrated at the Festival des Lumières in Montmorillon.

School holiliddayas foyrs:

14-16 September Les Vacances de Monsieur Haydn at La Roche Posay is a popular festival of chamber music drawing performers from across France.


18-20 May Live theatre acts and workshops throughout the weekend at Festival Graines de Rue at Bessines-surGartempe. 26-30 June Festival Urbaka at Limoges – street theatre in the heart of the city. 30 June-2 September Courses, exhibitions and more, all featuring pastels at the Festival International du Pastel, Feytiat.

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12-15 July Three days of events from concerts and a brocante to a fun run and parade. All part of Bandafolie’s held at Bessines-sur-Gartempe. 18-24 July (tbc) Les Nuits Musicales de Cieux features all styles of guitar playing from flamenco to classical. 18 July-9 August Festival 1001 Notes at Limoges presents classical music concerts with a focus on promoting young talents. 8-9 September Legend’Air – classic aircraft take to the skies above Saint-Junien. Many of the dates are yet to be finally confirmed, see our 2018 Summer Guide for more info.

Limoges Wine Fair will open its doors from 10am-7pm on 23-25 February at the Hall du Grand Palais at the Parc de Expositions. 170 exhibitors from across France will tempt your taste buds. 12,000 visitors are expected and entry costs 6€ with under-18s free.



Art Classes

Learn to draw, paint and work with clay in a creative and friendly environment while practising your French at the same time at Saint-Junien (87). Artist Lindsay Cox guides you as you discover materials and techniques while stimulating your imagination and creativity. All levels are welcome, from beginners to those who are more experienced. Each course consists of 6 workshops and costs 45€ with the next term beginning on 26 February. Classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays at Cité Bellevue de Glane, Bat A1, 87200 Saint-Junien. For more information, email lindsaycox@

News from around the region...

Ryanair hand luggage Ryanair recently changed their hand luggage rules so that if you want to take a standard hand luggage suitcase into the cabin, it will cost 5 euros extra at the time of ticket purchase or 6 euros up to one hour before boarding. All passengers can take a handbag or laptop bag into the cabin (maximum size of 35cm x 20cm x 20cm and no weight restriction). A larger bag of up to 55cm x 40cm x 20cm with a 10kg weight limit can be placed in the hold for free or in the cabin for those with priority passes or those who have paid the fee. Larger suitcases to go in the hold can now weigh up to 20kg (previously 15kg) and the cost has reduced from 35 to 25 euros.


Back in 2012, an ambitious project to promote the Poitou history, heritage and traditions was given the green light by the Conseil Général de la Vienne. The ambition was to build the sixth ‘Historial’ in France which would become a key tourist attraction as well as an important teaching resource for skills. The museum will cover six time periods from the prehistoric era through to the modern day with multimedia presentations and interactive exhibits. The overall project is expected to cost over ten million euros which will be financed by both private and public bodies. Having completed the planning stages, work will begin on the site at Monts-surGuesnes this year. Here it will be close to three other major sites (Futuroscope, Center Parcs and the Loire Valley) which attract 4 million tourists each year. The Historial is expected to attract 70,000 visitors annually once it opens in 2020.

Aquaponics Vienne resident and longtime fisherman Andrew Paine has combined two of his passions to set up a new business, and he is now sharing what he has learnt along the way. For anyone new to the world of ‘aquaponics’, the merging of conventional aquaculture or raising of aquatic animals with hydroponics or cultivating plants in water, Andrew offers a one or two-day course. Essentially, the method offers a double harvest of both fish and vegetables with the vegetables growing up to three times more quickly than they do in soil. There is no need to water or weed the vegetables while the whole process uses

almost half the water a traditional crop does. In addition, no herbicides or pesticides are required meaning your crop is organic. All that is needed are three linked tanks, one for the fish, one with a bed on which the vegetables grow and one to store the water before it passes back into the fish tank. Andrew has several systems on show at his Saint-Sauvant farm which are all fully explained in the course. The two-day courses costs 190€ per person including a delicious organic lunch and can be held in English or French. Find out more at www.; tel: 06 06 49 21 68; FB: Andrewaquaponics.

Basque Style 16 | living places to visit

Feel like a refreshing out-of-season break in the sun but without leaving France? The fabulous Basque coast has it all. WORDS & PHOTOS: ROGER MOSS

The Port des Pêcheurs, Biarritz

High-rise, Basque style on Quai Amiral Jaureguiberry, Bayonne

Rhune Crowds gather at the Gare de la for the last train of the season

The Plage de Socoa is popular with dinghy sailors


hen the summer visitors are long gone, and things feel a little flat, it’s quick and easy to head down past Bordeaux for a quick getaway in sunny northern Spain. There is, however, another, rather more intriguing option, which we’re going to explore. On a warm, sunny mid-October morning we approach Bayonne on the A63 autoroute, and press on towards the final exit, where we leave the traffic far behind. Hendaye doesn’t crop up in conversation too often, but the haunting beauty of its magnificent 3km-long Grande Plage so captivated Angoulême-born architect Edmond Durandeau that he resolved to transform Hendaye into one of the Atlantic coast’s most desirable resorts. The resulting seventy or so stylish villas incorporated local architectural features subtly adapted

living places to visit | 15

Morning surfers on the Côte des Basques, Biarritz. to the sophisticated lifestyles of his wealthy early-20th century clients. Not surprisingly, their colours follow the distinctive regional palette: white or pale cream stucco with natural stone detailing and painted timber in traditional Basque dark blue, dark green or ‘sang-de-bœuf’ red. Statuesque pines and billowing, vividly coloured bougainvillea provide perfectly styled settings. The villas are beyond the reach of most of us, and always were, but simply being here feels privileged, particularly out of season. Things are relaxed in the well-filled marina, and a colourful market is winding down in place du Port under the casual gaze of those basking in the warm autumn sunshine at steadily filling café tables. But they miss the

enticing glimpses through a tall archway of the boulevard de la Mer and beyond it that fabulous beach. Who could resist? Obviously not the sunbathers dotted lazily around the vast sandy expanse or the lines of surfers hoping to catch a wave. A few minutes’ gentle stroll along the boulevard brings us to the Casino Sokoburu constructed in 1884 in extravagant neo-Moorish style. After an al fresco lunch we leave the beach area and drive up to the vieille ville, which for centuries endured increasingly determined attacks by Spanish troops. Happily today the elegant heart of the town presents a picture of peace and harmony, a testament to the care and sensitivity

du Pays Basque Piments

Hors-saison calm, Biarritz |


living places to visit

The Fort de Socoa

Villa elegance, Hendaye

Atlantic rollers on Grande Plage, Biarritz

The distinctive tones of Basque ‘sa ng de boeuf’ paintwork, Ciboure with which it was lovingly rebuilt. We leave Hendaye on the route de la Corniche to follow this celebrated grand touring itinerary. After a gentle, largely wooded start, the route lives up to its name, hugging the coastline while climbing and swooping between a succession of rocky headlands. Along the way we pause to peer over the cliff edges of the most promising viewpoints, at the highest of which the drama is intensified by exposed rock strata rising near vertically from the sea bed far below, and clearly visible offshore through the restless waves. Minutes later we’re driving down into the little port of Socoa, huddled

in the lee of a modest promontory at the mouth of the Untxin river. The sense of having chanced on somewhere rather special is confirmed at the riverside parking area, where boats outnumber cars. The opposite quayside is lined with brightly coloured restaurant façades, while ahead of us a few bathers are taking advantage of still mild sea temperatures from a sheltered beach. Extending beside it is an enticing stone jetty, which we follow to get our bearings, and notice some substantial looking iron bollards sunk into the granite. Their casting marks from the naval foundry at Ruelle, on the outskirts of Angoulême, show that

they began life as cannon on French warships. At the far end of the jetty we gaze across at the sturdy Fort de Socoa, constructed around 1640 and later enlarged by military engineer Vauban. The idea was to discourage seaborn attacks on nearby Saint-Jean de Luz, which happens to be our next stop. To reach it we first pass through Ciboure, another elegant coastal resort, and cross the Nivelle river as fishing boats are returning, the autumn sun is sinking and the old port of Saint-Jean de Luz has the dreamlike quality of an Impressionist canvas. After checking into our hotel, we return to find restaurant terraces in Place Louis XIV

Fishing boats return to SaintJean de Luz

living places to visit | 17 Ready for a steep descent from 905m

Hendaye’s Port de Plaisance

packed with visitors dining in style beneath the stars. The nearby streets have a similar buzz, so we follow Rue de la République for a final glimpse of the bay before dining à la Basquaise and floating contentedly back to our hotel. The following morning we visit Ciboure’s Sunday market, where a group of folk musicians and a caller are playing for enthusiastic local traditional dancers. The music still echoes faintly when we enter the dazzling Baroque interior of the vast 16th century Eglise Saint-Vincent, before we head back to the car and drive to another, very different visitor attraction. Just a few kilometres inland is the

A ride on the vintage Train de la Rhune is an essential experience

assertive outline of La Rhune, up which the Train de la Rhune transports around 350 thousand visitors annually. It’s a sensational journey with extreme gradients and in antique rolling stock dating from when the rack railway opened in 1924. At the 900m summit there’s a novel twist: we arrive in France, but in the mountain restaurant just a few steps away we’re suddenly in Spain. The views are genuinely panoramic, and floating on the thermals high overhead we could be witnessing Egyptian and bearded vultures plus both golden and snake eagles. How do you follow an adventure like that? With a couple of nights in

Biarritz, of course. The cross-country drive from la Rhune isn’t exactly direct but an hour later we roll into town and locate our hotel, just a few minutes’ walk from the beaches. As we get to know Biarritz we find ourselves relaxing and savouring the calm, almost village-like mood which has resurfaced after the departure of the well attired clientele of the Hermès boutique and other hallowed shrines to the art of shopping. Right now it’s just ‘les Biarrots’, a handful of surfers and us. We’re not here to shop, of course, and the call of the near deserted shoreline is clearly irresistible. From Grande Plage we walk round to the old Port

Cliff scenery near Socoa |


Nightfall in Saint-Jean de Luz

living places to visit

The Casino and Plage d’Hendaye

mative commentary, for in an th wi e, tim g in Seal feed Biarritz at the Musée de la Mer, narrow streets of its historic heart the old Basque city preserves countless reminders of an eventful past, earning it the coveted Ville d’Art et d’Histoire label. In fact, there’s so much to see that we’re going to be looking at

Bayonne in much more depth in a future issue of Living. What we can say now is that it provides a fitting climax to our hugely enjoyable voyage of discovery along the beautiful Basque Country coastline.


des Pêcheurs and follow a cliff path up to the Plateau de l’Atalaye, a small headland from whose seaward tip a skeletal metal walkway known as la Passerelle Eiffel extends out to the Rocheur de la Vierge. Seeing the mighty waves from the Bay of Biscay pounding the surrounding rocks is awe-inspiring, so after this bracing spectacle we visit the nearby Art Déco Aquarium de Biarritz (a.k.a. ‘Musée de la Mer’) to unwind among all manner of fascinating sea creatures. Some are familiar Basque country menu items, and in Biarritz food lovers are spoilt for choice. Not surprisingly, you’ll find the best selection of fish and seafood and other restaurants around the town’s impressive 19th century market hall; just don’t leave your tour of the chalkboards displaying the day’s catch too late, or they’ll be gone. We’d happily spend far longer in Biarritz but for now time is tight, and we’re keen to see its near neighbour, Bayonne. Founded by the Romans on the banks of the Adour river, in the

Find out more...

• The official Basque Coast collective site:

• The informative official tourism site for Hendaye:

• The slightly subtle official tourism site for Biarritz: en/discover • The excellent official site for Bayonne: • La Maison de la Corniche, just north of Hendaye, gives lots of worthwhile insight (currently French, Spanish and Basque only) into the history, geology and wildlife of the Basque coastline - details on: • Learn all about the Train de la Rhune and the mountain wildlife at:

If you prefer to take the train... Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint-Jean de Luz and Hendaye have TGV services from Poitiers, Angoulême and Bordeaux.

Staying there...

For a relaxing getaway in considerable style we can wholeheartedly recommend the 4-star Hotel le Chantaco Golf & Wellness, Route d’Ascain 64500 Saint Jean de Luz. In Biarritz you can explore everything on foot from a comfortable, well-located former villa with lots of period charm: the three-star Hôtel Edouard VII, 21 Avenue Carnot.

living PUZZLE | 19 1










23. Having a strong feeling in court counts for nothing. (4) 24. Gets austerer, prepared, meeting somebody special? (8) 25. Act to drop a large number in the river. (3)

Across 4. Snake turning up in Florida observatory. (3) 7. Can go on new road; that’s wonderful! (8) 8. Here in France it’s lovely weather to see the boyfriend. (4) 9. Selecting the right gear to look attractive? (8) 10. Declares no time for settlements. (4) 11. Enjoying seeing a thousand in the heather. (6) 14. Tries to get a hand with the sports arenas? (6) 15. Getting married legless added a little something? (6) 17. Rook in sheep’s clothing? (6) 19. Anna’s tiny hand is holding a sparkler. (4) 20. Reg and Maria getting together for life. (8)

Down 1. The first garden reserved entirely for embracing. (4) 2. Could be major (or minor) leaders of unofficial regimental standing army. (4) 3. Being B, got reassessed, but still dropping away. (6) 4. To start with, basically every little German is coming from the Low Countries! (6) 5. Lose, but a new format could be universally valid. (8) 6. Could be poles apart, but still have a kind of attraction? (8) 9. Slippery customer having twice the energy to the pound! (3) 12. Someone pretending to be a little devil on a very large hilltop. (8) 13. US company marked for writing on a slope. (8)

10 11




13 15

14 16


17 16

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It’s time to sharpen your pencil and tackle our exclusive crossword kindly compiled by Mike Morris. See if you can find the theme as well as the answers before checking the solution on page 64.


21 22


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16. Drop in rank of French transport organisation executive. (6) 17. Garbled radio message on note for copyist. (6) 18. Where a Cockney might find

‘is ‘ome, once upon a time? (3) 21. Certain statements about this month, in short. (4) 22. Given right to dig up and fasten with a belt. (4)

Tips for a Fabulous February


e all know the feeling. The winter blues, the uncertainty of Brexit, the bombardment of negative news combine to make even the most positive, optimistic person want to curl up in bed, close the curtains and hibernate. We asked Tracy Mayhew, Certified Personal Development & Life Coach, for her tips on breaking the SAD cycle and putting a spring in your step…

Vounteering at your local SPA is good for both you and the pets

... & beyond awareness is to breathe in for four counts and exhale for six counts - you’ll soon be aware of your heart rate slowing down and the stress melting away.

Pat that Pet Research conducted by psychologist Dr David Lewis, of Mindlab International Random Acts of Kindness states that stroking or patting your dog, A study featured in Clinical Psychological cat, horse or animal of choice, reduces Science states that by being pro-social, for Mindfulness stress and anxiety and promotes a feeling example giving to others – be that a small Mindfulness is certainly the buzzword of relaxation and contentment. Don’t have of the moment. Psychology Today gift, your time, or even a compliment – a family pooch? No problem. Many SPAs raises your level of the hormone oxytocin. describes mindfulness as ‘Present Moment (refuges) around France encourage people This hormone helps to regulate the body’s Awareness’. When your mind focuses on to walk the dogs and interact with the cats. biological stress response by reducing feelings negative situations that have happened or Sit down with your favourite book and of fear and anxiety. So, the next time you’re you are fearful of the future, bring yourself treat the felines to some Shakespeare or out and about, pay a genuine compliment back to the present moment by modelling the latest crime novel. Not only does this to a complete stranger, friend or family an attitude of gratitude. Notice the good get you out of the house, but being out in the fresh air and exercising is a member and be aware of the ‘good feel’ things currently in your life such as the well-known mood-lifter. vibes which reverberate back to you. roof over your head, the warm clothes There are also many charities you can get you’re wearing and your loved ones, be involved with and giving to someone in need they nearby or far away. Take deep breaths Tracy is based in Charente and can be has the benefit of giving back to you tenfold. – a great exercise to raise your present contacted on 06 40 27 55 35. | 32

20 | living advertorial

Making Moves

Based in the historic market town of Saint Jean d’Angély, estate agency Idimmo, Prestige & Châteaux specialises in properties of elegance and character. Established since 2012, this dedicated estate agency specialises in selling both typical Charentaise houses of character, and prestigious properties of elegance in and around the Charente-Maritime. Consisting of husband and wife, Laurence and Daniel Adeline, and their English colleague Carolyn Pratt, the Idimmo team can advise you on every step of your house purchase. With their expert knowledge of both the housing market and the legal process of purchasing property in France, they offer a complete service from the very

first contact through to arranging utility connections for new home owners - a real plus if your French is a little rusty. The team combines live exhibitions like ‘The France Show’ in London with communication via internet sites such as Green-Acres as well as their own professional website and extensive use of Facebook. This ensures that Idimmo maintains an international clientele of both buyers and sellers generating a buoyant portfolio of interesting properties for all budgets.

With its “breathtaking” facade and its remarkable slate roof, the authenticity of this city centre mansion is well preserved and is just waiting for your personal touch to bring it back to its original glory days.

To renovate, this stunning Maison de Maitre has not been touched for approximately 50 years. Attached is a habitable 3-bedroom property with large living rooms. An amazing project.

Ref: IDIADE 825

Ref: IDIADE 4401


DPE: Vierge

Honoraires à la charge du vendeur


DPE: Vierge

Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Laurence, Daniel and Carolyn CONTACT DETAILS

Idimmo, Prestige & ChâteauX

42 Rue Grosse Horloge, 17400 St Jean d’Angély. Tel: +33 (0)5 16 51 90 52 Carolyn: +33 (0)7 81 40 87 38 Website:

E xc l u s i v e This flour and water mill with separate 5-bed house is close to St Jean d’Angély, on the Boutonne river. The house needs updating. Many possibilities for the mill building of 403m2, garages, workshop.

This pretty 4-bed house is found on the edge of a village. It is set in a garden divided by a small stream with its own lavoir. Large living space, garage, workshop and attic space.

Ref: IDIADE 3465

Ref: IDIADE 2497


DPE: Vierge

Honoraires à la charge du vendeur


DPE: Vierge

Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

living advertorial | 21

Beautifully renovated house with 1-bed annexe, 4 gites (providing good income), garden and large, heated pool. Main house has large kitchen/dining room, lounge, 3-beds, one with ensuite, a bathroom and mezzanine/office area . The gites vary in size, two 4-bed gites, a 3-bed and a 2-bed gite. There is also a gym, garage and an outbuilding.

3-bed Charentaise house with 3 gites. The house has one bedroom on the ground floor and two on the 1st floor plus solar and wood central heating (fitted 2016) and solar heated pool. Three 2-bed gites with fitted kitchens and their own outside space and view across a spacious garden. There is accepted planning permission for two further gites.

Ref: IDIADE 1922 DPE: C

Ref: IDIADE 3720

550,000€ Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

380,000€ Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Quality town house in the heart of St Jean d’Angély with garage and garden. Spacious rooms including 6 bedrooms over 2 floors. Enclosed garden with small plunge pool. Garage with studio. Superb views over the town from the second floor.

Close to shops, this beautiful 4/5-bed house has been comfortably renovated. Spacious open plan living room opens onto terrace and garden. Gas central heating with new boiler. Independent workshop/garage. Landscaped, wooded environment with an unobstructed view.

Ref: IDIADE 4457 DPE: Awaiting

399,000€ Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Building of irreproachable quality, meeting all current standards. Hotel (two stars): 10 rooms on 2 levels with reception of 30m2. Restaurant (one of the best in the city) 2 dining rooms 70 and 35 m2, large summer terrace. The business offers good growth opportunities. Very well located on a main road (with easy access to A10) near the city centre. Ref: IDIADE 3381 DPE: E

594,000€ Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Ref: IDIADE 3861


DPE: Awaiting

339,200€ Honoraires à la charge du vendeur Beautiful hotel/chambre d’hôtes. 18th C logis (560m2 habitable area) in privileged position - centre of historic tourist town with spacious park on the river. 5 beds used as guest rooms each with own bathroom. Public rooms & restaurant are spacious enabling use as function rooms (weddings, seminars etc). Private apartment. All in excellent condition. Economical heating, tennis court, pool, spa with Jacuzzi and sauna.

Ref: IDIADE 4505 DPE: C

728,000€ Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

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

22 | living places to visit Montalembert memorial

Ruelle-cast cannon, Port de Socoa (64)

Well-founded Military engineer Marc RenĂŠ, Marquis de Montalembert

Historic buildings have been preserved

living places to visit | 23 The Citadelle de Blaye

The Touvre still flows through the site


ere and there in the historic heart of Angoulême you will still come across old façades which have so far escaped the campaign of cleaning which has gradually restored much of the town to its long-lost pristine appearance. Paradoxically, their heavily blackened stonework is the result of almost two centuries of atmospheric pollution from the very industrial activity which generated great prosperity for the town and so financed the buildings’ construction. Angoulême has long been known for its paper manufacturers, whose mills were sited on the banks of the

The Charentais town of Ruelle-sur-Touvre has a proud military history stretching back almost 270 years. WORDS & PHOTOS: Roger Moss

Charente and Touvre rivers to profit from near-limitless water power. This sustainable industry would soon be overshadowed, however, by something altogether less benign. On 14 June 1750 military engineer Marc René, Marquis de Montalembert, purchased two mills (one manufacturing paper, the other a simple grain mill) on the banks of the

Touvre, and in so doing acquired seven hectares of land. The following year he received official authorisation to establish a foundry on the site to cast iron for military use, an ambitious venture whose success seemed assured, thanks to a combination of factors. The first was that the Touvre was a well-behaved river which would not flood or freeze in winter, and whose flow, even in the driest summers, remained sufficient to provide a dependable power source. Next was the nearby presence of the iron ore mines of Périgord. Then there was the 5,000 ha forest of Braconne, north-east of Ruelle, which already supplied timber for naval warship construction and which also

24 | living places to visit

Replica cannon, Place Montalembert

had the potential to produce more than enough oak charcoal to fuel the furnaces. Finally, and most important of all, the finished cannon he planned to produce could be shipped by barge from the port of L’Houmeau to join the Charente at Gond-Pontouvre and then continue downstream to the French navy’s dockyards at Rochefort. Despite local opposition (not least from the Arsenal de Rochefort Charles Colbert du Terron, who viewed the mature oaks of the Fôret de Braconne as a vital resource for warship construction) Montalembert received official authorisation to proceed with the project, along with an initial order for 800 cannon for the French navy. He therefore lost no time overseeing the construction of two blast furnaces, four bellows, a casting pit, a mould workshop and a system of leats and sluice gates to divert and control the currents of the Touvre. The existing paper mill buildings were retained to serve as a machine shop for drilling the smooth, unrifled bores of the cannon. The Fonderie de Ruelle was inaugurated in October 1754 and began working to fulfil the navy contract. Not

“The dockyards were working at full capacity to build new warships for the French navy...” surprisingly, he encountered problems with the quality of early castings, and three months later Montalembert was rebuked for production having fallen far short of the units ordered, with a high proportion of those delivered having been rejected by Rochefort. The timing could not have been worse, since the dockyards were working at full capacity to build new warships for the French navy, in response to the threat of war looming in Europe. Six thousand cannon were needed urgently, so the foundry was seized and put under the control of one M. Maritz, Inspector General of French Foundries, a respected engineer whose new casting practices had been refined by Montalembert and incorporated at Ruelle. Maritz oversaw production until 1760, but a further twelve years would pass before Montalembert finally recovered his lawful right of ownership,

along with an indemnity of 800,000 livres. He had actually claimed the sum of three million, however, and in 1774 decided to sell the foundry at Ruelle (plus a second site which he owned at Forge-Neuve, Périgord) to the Comte d’Artois, who in turn passed them to his brother, Louis XVI. His Secrétaire d’État à la Marine Antoine de Sartine had for some time been taking a keen interest in Ruelle, and was of the opinion that in the national interest the navy should act urgently to acquire the facility. This was an unprecedented step for a monarchy hitherto accustomed to passing orders and paying advances to privately owned enterprises, but in 1782 the foundries of Ruelle and Forge-Neuve were declared Manufactures Royal and accorded special privileges. The title reverted some years later to the more familiar Fonderie de Ruelle, and remained unchanged until 1964, when it became l’Établissement de Constructions d’Armes Navales, an unwieldy mouthful which prompted a snappier acronym: ’ÉCAN’. It didn’t stop there, however, becoming la Direction des Constructions Navales (or ‘DCN’) in 1990, ‘DCNS’ in 2003 and finally in 2017

living places to visit | 25

Ruelle supplied cannon for replica frigate Hermione

The scale is impressive

the present, less-cryptic Naval Group. Since its inception the role of the illustrious historic site has also evolved to reflect the changing face of weaponry and the methods of production. Early cannon were cast vertically in moulds which created a bore requiring minimal subsequent machining. This somewhat crude approach gave way to an altogether more reliable practice (invented by Maritz) which consisted of casting solid cannon barrels, whose bores would then

be cold-machined with great precision. The system obviously achieved far more consistent quality, but the machinery required considerable reserves of power. Fortunately, the Touvre was capable of providing Ruelle with 130–420 horse power, depending on the season – sufficient, in fact, to power no fewer than eight boring machines throughout the year, so once the production techniques had been perfected Ruelle quickly became France’s foremost manufacturing facility for large calibre cannon. Improved communications also contributed to the site’s success. The arrival of the Angoulême - Limoges railway line in 1875 linked the foundry to the Charente at L’Houmeau, the largest guns being loaded by crane onto barges for transport to Rochefort. As the network expanded rail gradually replaced water-borne transport altogether. In 1946 a review of French naval dockyards allotted Ruelle the task of manufacturing guns, large component castings and electronics, a list to which surface-to-air naval missiles would be added a few years later. While the postwar years have seen European nations which were once bitter rivals gradually becoming good friends and trusted trading partners, things elsewhere have been less harmonious. Ruelle continues to be a key player in the development and production of ever more sophisticated defensive weapons (it developed the Exocet anti-ship missile). Ruelle also produces submarine torpedo handling equipment, training simulators plus missile launch systems for the latest generation Aquitaine-class FREMM (Frégate Européenne Multi-Mission) frigates configured for anti-submarine duties. There’s also an intriguing

Archive images reproduced by kind permission from the personal postcard collection of Michel Herbreteau - you’ll find many more at


FACTFILE Marc René, marquis de Montalembert Marc René, Marquis de Montalembert was born in Angoulême in 1714 and at the age of eighteen began an illustrious French army career, seeing action in several European campaigns before turning his attention to engineering and military fortifications. His designs were to become hugely influential, and locally you can see examples of his defensive installations on the Île d’Aix and the Île d’Oléron. In 1747 he became an associate of the Académie des Sciences. His private life was similarly eventful. In 1770 he married Marie Josephine de Commarieu from Bordeaux, who was some 35 years his junior. By the dawn of the Revolution he was deeply in debt, having never received the sum of 6,000 livres owed by the state for munitions supplied by his Ruelle foundry. In 1792, in turbulent times he and his talented writer, actress and composer wife joined the wave of emigration of la noblesse, and lived for a time in England, while all his possessions were sequestrated by the Republican government. He soon returned, divorced his wife and successfully demanded an annulment of the sequestration. He was clearly still sprightly, too, for at the age of 80 he married the daughter of an apothecary – 24 year-old Louise Rosalie Cadet, a union which produced a daughter whom they named Gasparine.

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paradox in the parallel development and production of A3SM defensive missile systems to protect submarines from post-detection attack. The eternal hope, of course, is that such cat-and-mouse games will deter potential aggressors, so Ruelle looks set to continue playing a key role in developing and maintaining Europe’s defensive systems.

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

26 | living people

+article en Français

Sisters Scarlette (this photo) and Margot (on right above) founded Marlette after experimenting at home on the Ile de RĂŠ

living people | 27

A recipe for success Based on the lIe de Ré, two young sisters are taking France by storm with their artisanal, organic, ready-made baking preparations. Jessica Knipe chats to the founders of Marlette to find out the secrets of a “Made-in-France” brand

Two sisters with a passion for the flavours of their childhood have discovered the recipe for success. Sounds like a bit of a cliché, doesn’t it? But in this case, it’s exactly right.

Scarlette was back from Australia visiting her sister in the lIe de Ré, they had a lightbulb moment playing around in the kitchen. “We started creating recipes together, blitzing chocolate bars into very fine powders to mix into a cake,” Margot and Scarlette Joubert, born and says Scarlette. “It became a game!” To raised on the lIe de Ré, are obsessed with the point that to make their preparations in larger quantities, they enlisted the their region’s natural beauty and the help of their family’s cement mixer! quality of its produce. The children of a As they messed about, they noticed a family of sailing entrepreneurs, the girls gap in the French market. “We realised grew up soaking up the Rétais way of life, and its simple, warm seaside ways.   that there wasn’t much available for The sea didn’t call out to the girls in people who wanted to bake cakes the same way it did to their other family with natural, healthy ingredients,” members though. Margot went off to says Scarlette. “The market was very become an agronomist, and Scarlette industrial.” Margot pointed out that the travelled around the world learning about lIe de Ré and the region at large had a management, stopping for a short while rich selection of organic, artisanal flours in Sydney to learn how to become a that were completely undervalued. If barista. They did inherit the family’s flair they used Margot’s know-how and for business, though – one summer when Scarlette’s marketing savvy, applying

Depuis leur lIe de Ré natal, deux sœurs se sont lancées à la conquête du reste du pays armées de préparations culinaires biologiques et artisanales. Jessica Knipe découvre avec les fondateurs de Marlette les secrets d’une marque « Made in France » Deux sœurs amoureuses des saveurs de leur enfance ont trouvé la recette du succès. C’est un peu cliché, non ? Mais pour une fois, c’est exactement ça. Margot et Scarlette Joubert, nées et élevées dans l’Ile de Ré, sont passionnées par la beauté naturelle de leur région et la qualité de ses produits. Filles d’une famille d’entrepreneurs dans le secteur de la voile, les soeurs ont grandi en s’imprégnant du mode de vie rétais, et de la simplicité chaleureuse du bord de mer. Mais Margot et Scarlette n’ont pas eu

28 | living people both to their mutual passion for cooking, they could be on to something good. Scarlette agreed to stay for six months to launch the business and test its success, and so, Marlette (Margot + Scarlette) was born. They started small, with a selection of organic blends and ready-made mixes for breads and pastries that could be baked at home. A simple yet classic chocolate cake, a wholegrain country loaf, the madeleines of their childhood with a salty touch thanks to lIe de Ré fleur de sel... The little packets were selling out fast, and soon they had to increase their production. A cookbook, an increasing range of baking preparations and the addition of a gluten-free range gained the attention of the national press, and they were soon stocking the shelves of big name shops like Galeries Lafayette. Their dream of bringing a bit of the lIe de Ré to the rest of France became even more tangible as they opened their first Café Marlette in Paris. “We understood very quickly that we needed people to come and taste our products,” explains Scarlette. “In the collective unconscious, ready-made cake mixes are not synonymous with good homemade cooking. We needed to demonstrate the concept to people and it felt natural to do that in a place where they could come and taste it for themselves!” The first café was swiftly followed by three more after the sisters won first place in the “Unibail des Jeunes Créateurs du Commerce”, a cash prize which aims to help innovative young entrepreneurs set up their retail concept. Soon their

The sisters grew up on the lle de Ré appreciating the local produce

“We realised that there wasn’t much available for people who wanted to bake cakes with natural, healthy ingredients”

revenue had more than doubled. The recipe for success, then, seems to be to find ingredients of the highest quality and to take them out into the world with an unwavering sense of the place from which they came. “It’s very important to us to share our roots and values,” says Scarlette. “Everything began with a desire to shine a light on local produce, and we are very lucky that the project has worked so well, creating not only a platform for our local organic agriculture, but also jobs for people in the local organic farming industry.” Another crucial ingredient is the sisters’ complementarity. Margot still lives in the lIe de Ré, close to the workshops where all of the products

are made, and Scarlette has moved up to Paris to be the brand’s voice, and to oversee the cafés. “And sometimes do the washing up!” laughs Scarlette. The whole family is involved in the project back home, too. “Our father is very handy,” says Scarlette, “he makes all of our stands, and our mother makes all of the aprons and cushions in our cafés!” By 2020 Marlette hopes to have opened cafés all round France, perhaps as a franchise. And then, who knows, maybe one day when they go back to visit Sydney again, it will be to find the right barista to open their Australian branch of Café Marlette...

Dusk, SaintMartin-de-Ré

le même appel du large que les autres membres de leur famille. Margot s’est plutôt tournée vers les terres pour devenir agronome, et Scarlette, elle, a parcouru le monde pour apprendre le management hôtelier, s’arrêtant brièvement à Sydney pour devenir barista. Un été, alors que Scarlette rentrait d’Australie pour rendre visite à sa sœur, elles ont eu un déclic dans la cuisine : « Nous avons commencé à faire des recettes, et je me suis mise à mixer des tablettes de chocolat pour faire des fondants. Je me suis un peu prise au jeu, » explique Scarlette. Un jeu qui, pour préparer les recettes en plus grande quantité, a fait appel à la bétonnière familiale ! Au fur et à mesure qu’elles expérimentaient, les soeurs ont constaté un manque sur le marché français. « On a réalisé qu’en France, il n’y avait pas grand-chose pour les gens qui voulaient cuisiner sain et bio,

living people | 29

et qu’il n’y avait aucun produit pour faire des gâteaux avec des ingrédients naturels et bons, » explique Scarlette. « Ce marché était très industriel. » Margot a découvert que la région charentaise dans son ensemble disposait d’une grande richesse céréalière biologique, sous-valorisée. En utilisant le savoir-faire de Margot et le sens du marketing de Scarlette, et en appliquant ces deux talents à leur passion commune pour la cuisine, elles tenaient le bon bout d’un projet intéressant. Scarlette a accepté de rester six mois pour lancer l’entreprise et tester son succès, et c’est ainsi que Marlette (un mix de Margot et Scarlette !) est né. Elles ont démarré petit, avec une sélection biologique de pains et pâtisseries qui se préparent à la maison. Le fondant au chocolat simple mais classique, le pain de campagne aux graines, les madeleines de leur enfance avec une touche de fleur de sel de l’lIe de Ré... Les paquets se sont vendus comme des petits pains, et bientôt elles durent augmenter leur production. Un livre de cuisine, une gamme croissante de produits et l’ajout d’une gamme sans gluten ont attiré l’attention de la presse nationale, et rapidement Marlette a commencé à stocker les rayons de grands magasins comme les Galeries Lafayette. Le rêve de Margot et Scarlette d’apporter un peu de Ré au reste de la France est devenu encore plus concret avec l’ouverture du premier Café Marlette, à Paris. « On a vite compris que sur ce marché, il fallait faire déguster nos produits, » explique Scarlette, « car dans l’inconscient collectif, les préparations pour gâteaux ne sont pas associées à du bon et fait maison. » Trois autres cafés suivirent quand Marlette remporta la première place au prix Unibail des Jeunes

Créateurs du Commerce, visant à aider les jeunes entrepreneurs innovateurs à mettre en place un concept de vente. Bientôt, leur chiffre d’affaires avait plus que doublé. La recette du succès, donc, semble être de trouver des ingrédients de la plus haute qualité et de les envoyer dans le monde accompagnés d’un sens inébranlable du lieu d’où ils sont venus. « C’est très important pour nous de partager nos racines et nos valeurs », dit Scarlette. « Au départ on a souhaité valoriser un produit local. On a beaucoup de chance que nos projets fonctionnent, en créant de l’activité, des emplois, et des débouchés pour l’agriculture bio. » Un autre ingrédient crucial est la complémentarité des sœurs : Margot habite toujours à l’lIe de Ré, à proximité des ateliers où tous les produits sont fabriqués, et Scarlette s’est installée à Paris pour être la voix de la marque et superviser les cafés. « Et parfois faire la vaisselle ! » rit Scarlette. « Toute notre famille est très impliquée, notre papa est un grand bricoleur, il fabrique tous nos stands et notre maman a réalisé nos tabliers et tous les coussins qui se trouvent dans nos cafés...» D’ici 2020, Marlette espère avoir ouvert des cafés dans toute la France, peut-être en développant des franchises. Et puis, qui sait, peut-être qu’un jour elles retourneront à Sydney, cette fois pour trouver le bon barista pour ouvrir un Café Marlette australien !

Citizens’ rights after


Kathryn Dobson examines the latest developments for British citizens living in France in the ongoing negotiations regarding citizens’ rights post-Brexit

What does the deal brokered by Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker in December mean for our British readers? British in Europe explains the detail as it affects you...

If you are ‘legally resident’ at Brexit you can stay – but in some countries you may have to make an application to secure this (see OPTION 2 and our concerns about this). The current conditions under EU law will apply. These state that for the first three months there are no conditions. After three months you have to be working/ self-employed, self-sufficient, a student or a family member of any such person. People who are self-sufficient or students have to have health insurance (for pensioners or others who hold one, the S1 form is sufficient). After five years these conditions fall away and you will either be entitled to ‘permanent residence’ or may have to apply to secure it. The five years can include years both before and after Brexit. If you have acquired permanent residence, you can be away from your host country for five years and still retain the right to return as well as keeping your rights of permanent residence. If you meet the criteria of a ‘frontier worker’ – living in one country and working in one or more other countries at Brexit – you will still have the right to work in each country. Reciprocal healthcare is agreed; if you have an S1 from the UK or will get one when you retire you’ll still have your healthcare funded by the UK.

What has NOT been included: 1) Continuing freedom of movement – i.e. the ability to move, reside and work in

British in Europe is the largest coalition group of British citizens living and working in Europe. With representation across the EU27, they actively campaign for the rights of UK citizens in the EU (UKinEU) and support EU citizens in the UK (EUinUK). They proudly stand up for an inclusive, open, British and European identity. British in Europe work hand-in-hand with ‘the3million’ who represent the EU27 nationals living in the UK.

PHOTOS TOP LEFT AND BELOW RIGHT: © © European Union , 2018 / Etienne Ansotte

This is a quick (and non-exhaustive) general summary of the state of play after the Phase 1 agreement on citizens’ rights. It’s a mixture of good news, bad news and unfinished business, the balance of which is different for each of us, depending on the particular situation that we are in. The unfinished business, such as whether we have free movement across the EU27, will be discussed in the Phase 2. At British in Europe, our concern is that our unfinished business may be lost in the mass of trade issues now to be discussed such as airline slots. And, until the final agreement is signed, none of the agreement is set in stone (although it is unlikely that what has been agreed so far will be changed). Added to the mix, the European Council agreed that it was prepared to negotiate a transition period of two years with the UK. If negotiated, it would delay implementation of the agreement, including citizens’ rights. Depending on what is negotiated, it would probably mean that our rights to live and work in the EU won’t change substantially during that period from what they are now.

The good:

UK pensions will be uprated in accordance with inflation, and aggregation of social security contributions including pensions is agreed, both before and after Brexit day. There is some agreement on recognition of professional qualifications. If you have an individual recognition decision re your qualification (including through automatic recognition eg. doctors, architects), your qualification will continue to be recognised but only in the country where the decision was issued. Certain close family members (spouse, partner, direct ascendants/descendants who are dependant on you) will be able to join you if your rights are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. This will apply for the whole of your lifetime. If you have children after Brexit day they too are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement if you and the other parent are also protected or are nationals of the country you live in.

living brexit | 33

It is clear that the current deal does not protect the rights we currently enjoy and that we need if we are to ‘live our lives as before’ as promised by both our Government and the EU. As explained here, there are serious holes in the agreement and so it is more important than ever to get writing and sharing information. 1) Share the facts - when you see or hear individuals, the media or political organisations saying citizens’ rights are sorted, correct them using the information here. 2) Join in the lobbying campaign, write to MPs and MEPs explaining the rights you are losing and what they mean to you, your family and your business. See for a guide to lobbying and template letters.

3) Territorial scope of economic rights, e.g. secondary establishment and crossborder provision of services has not been agreed yet nor have rights of posted workers. 4) The right to be joined by a future spouse or partner – i.e. one that you weren’t in a relationship with on Brexit day. 5) Ring-fencing of the agreement so far.

So should you be happy? If you’re happily settled in your host country, work solely there or are retired, have no wish or need to move to or work or study in another EU country, fulfil all the requirements for exercising treaty rights and don’t rely on professional qualifications, then your rights should be covered. But …

How your rights will be confirmed: EU27 countries will have two options: OPTION 1: They can adopt what’s called a declaratory system, in line with current EU law, which mirrors what happens now and simply confirms the rights that we already hold, whether as permanent residents (five years or more) or temporary residents (less than five years). OPTION 2: They can adopt a constitutive system. Under this, we would have to APPLY for a new status; the application process would include checks on whether people had been exercising treaty rights, as well as criminality checks. This is the equivalent of the UK proposal for EU citizens of ‘settled status’; the concept of reciprocity has led to this being an option for each EU27 country if they wish to adopt it. We do not yet have any idea of whether France will implement option 1 or 2.

EU27 countries other than your country of residence/frontier working – is still to be discussed in the second phase. If the final Withdrawal Agreement does not include a right of free movement across the EU27 for UK citizens in the EU, there is existing EU legislation dealing with rights of non-EU citizens to move within the EU. How this might apply to UK citizens in the EU would have to be agreed but it is fair to say that it doesn’t offer the same free movement rights as we have now as EU citizens. 2) Some professional qualifications e.g. lawyers practising under their own titles and EU-wide licences and certificates are not covered, and recognition outside the country of recognition/residence across the EU 27 Why British in Europe thinks is still to be discussed. there is still a long way to go One of British in Europe’s major objections to the agreement concerns OPTION 2 because (i) this means we will have to apply for a new status instead of having our existing rights confirmed (ii) some people will struggle to find the proof that they meet the statutory requirements of ‘legal residence’ and (iii) bureaucracies can make mistakes. Another is the fact that continuing freedom of movement isn’t included. This is a big deal for many people whose livelihood depends on being able to work in an EU country other than their country of residence and who don’t fall under the definition of a frontier worker. This particularly effects cross-border workers, especially the self-employed. It also matters to our children, who would find their rights to study elsewhere in the EU27


Get Involved!

Matthew Lodge (R), British Embassy, meets M. Jaladeau, Maire of Civray

Embassy visits The British Embassy has been visiting the region to talk to the thousands of British living in northern Nouvelle Aquitaine. We urge you to attend these meetings to show that your future rights are important and to explain where your concerns lie. The embassy staff are an important conduit of information back to the UK government. The recent Civray (86) meeting was well attended although surprisingly few working families were in the audience. Even those of us who are economically active here will be impacted by these changes as will our children. If you would be interested in a visit by embassy staff outside office hours (evening or weekend) to discuss businesses and families, email curtailed without it. And it has a big knock-on effect for the territorial scope of professional qualifications and economic rights (e.g. to run a business), which currently would only apply in your host country. British in Europe will be pursuing a strong advocacy campaign on all these issues in months to come to ensure that outstanding issues don’t fall off the table and are included in the Withdrawal Agreement.

keep in touch To keep up to date with the latest information, follow British In Europe on Twitter, Facebook or see their website at Join ECREU (Expat Citizen Rights in EU) who send out regular e-newsletters with the latest developments. For a good explanation of the background to the talks, see RIFT at www. or join their FB group.

34 | living family

Avec les enfants Winter walks

For more cartoons by Stig see

Variety is the spice of life, so they say, in all manner of things but especially regarding the weather. Every winter I always dream of snow. Every year I hope we might find ourselves living in a winter wonderland but it very rarely happens, snow in CharenteMaritime being an un common event, especially near the coast. Perhaps once every five years we might get a very gentle dusting that looks more like icing sugar sprinkled on top of a cake, and whilst it lasts we revel in its magic.

What we do get are winter storms, as gale force winds whip themselves into a frenzy out in the Atlantic and lash our shores, salt spray fills the air and white foam froths angrily against the rocks. Whilst for some winter walking might mean snow shoes, for us it usually means waterproof boots and windproof clothing and involves miles of sand stretching out before us and scarcely a soul in sight. It’s a complete contrast to the crowds who flock here in the summer. Sandwiches are replaced by flasks of hot soup and a hunk of crusty baguette. Our pace is always brisk, as it’s way too cold to linger, but the sight of the ocean in all its winter splendour is something not to be missed. One of the great advantages of living in France is the huge amount of interesting and extremely varied countryside and a fine road system that means no destination is ever really too

far away. And so, if the snow won’t oblige and come to us we can easily hop in the car to go and find it. Usually this means one place in particular: the magnificently wild and jagged mountains of the Pyrénées and all the snow-related action they offer. From where we are, we can load all of us into our trusty seven-seater people carrier, replete with winter clothing and all the paraphernalia needed for a weekend in the mountains, and be throwing snow balls, whooping with delight and acting like kids within just a few hours. This includes a decent stop for lunch at an aire along the way - a packed lunch, I hasten to add, normally including homemade sausage rolls, which are the one thing from English picnics everyone seems to miss the most! I used to think the mountains were purely for skiing and snowboarding or, when the children were younger, for tobogganing, but the year before last we tried our hand at snow shoeing – all of us, starting with our youngest who was nine at the time. We worried

living family | 35

the children might find it rather boring and look on it as little more than a slightly tedious afternoon partaking in an activity that they assumed was for the elderly and those unable to hurl themselves down a mountain at lightning speed. But after several hours we realised how wrong we were. We hired a guide, to teach us the finer points and we set out on a hike that lasted four hours and took us up the side of a mountain and saw us learning how to use the snow shoes

as skis to come down some of the steeper descents. Our guide used to be in the French Foreign Legion and I don’t think we have ever met a fitter 40-year-old. This was far from dull, this was exhilarating and fun and money well spent. There were no crowds and no queues at the lifts, just the silence of the mountains surrounding us. I highly recommend a guide if you try this for the first time. It will teach you the finer points and even the simplest of things, like how to fit the shoes correctly, something of an art in itself! Whilst this may not be for everyone what it did show us was that it is possible to go to the mountains for a

weekend or a week and satisfy every single person in our family. There is winter fun to be had by all ages and abilities from grandparents to toddlers. And if by some miracle CharenteMaritime finds itself blanketed in a decent amount of snow in these last remnants of winter then we will be out there making the most of it. If not, we’ll content ourselves with the wrath of the Atlantic Ocean and the fabulous coastline that is virtually on our doorstep.

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

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36 | living nikki legon’s cuisine Deep-sided mushroom quiche

Prawn and mushroom fettuccine

cuisine NikkiLegon’s

More delicious recipes, this time featuring one of our winter favourites, the humble mushroom…

Wild Mushroom and Parmesan filling Use this versatile recipe as filling for vol au vents, jacket potatoes, tartines, or over chicken breasts or pork chops. serves 6

4 tbsp olive oil 3 shallots, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 250g mixed mushrooms 2 tsp chopped thyme leaf 6 tbsp mascarpone 150g Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated.

Cream of mushroom soup

METHOD Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the shallots and garlic, and gently sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan, cook for around 5 minutes, add butter if necessary. Remove from the heat, stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan and season. Cool and then chill until you are ready to use.

Vegetable stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 6 large Portobello mushrooms 3 tbsps olive oil 4 shallots diced 2 courgettes diced 2 roasted red peppers skinned, deseeded and diced 8 sun-dried tomatoes, diced 3 cloves of garlic, minced ½ tsp dried oregano 1 chopped chilli or chilli flakes to your taste

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 37 Vegetable stuffed mushrooms

Wild mushroom and Parmesan 2 buffalo mozzarella, sliced and diced Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated METHOD Line a baking tray with sides with greaseproof paper and pre-heat oven to 180. Remove the mushroom stalks and dice. Rub each mushroom with olive oil and set them onto the baking tray, stalk side up. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil then the onions, fry gently for 3 minutes. Add the courgettes and continue to cook. As the courgettes begin to soften, add the red pepper and the sun-dried tomatoes, cook a further 2 minutes. Add the garlic, dried oregano, and chilli. Finally add the mozzarella and let it melt into the vegetables. Fill the mushrooms with the mixture and grate Parmesan over the tops. Bake in the oven 30 to 40 minutes.

Prawn and Mushroom Fettuccine with Garlic, Ginger and Chilli 200g fettuccine 100g softened butter 1 lemon, zest only 1 banana shallot, diced 2 garlic cloves, halved and germ removed 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, diced 1 fresh chilli, chopped (with

seeds depending on taste) or 1 tsp chilli flakes 12 large prawns 6 mushrooms, sliced 3 tbsp crème fraîche

Once the juices start to appear, reduce the heat to low. Add the shallots and continue to cook, stirring often, until the juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are a golden brown. Set aside a few mushrooms for garnish later. Pour the vegetable or chicken stock into the mushroom mixture, add the garlic and simmer for 1 hour. Cool the soup, then place into a blender in small batches and purée on high speed until smooth and thick. Return the soup to the saucepan, add the cream, season with salt and pepper. Pour into hot bowls and garnish with the reserved mushrooms.

METHOD Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Blend the ginger, garlic and chilli in a small blender. Add to the softened butter with the lemon and stir to combine. In a frying pan add a large knob of butter and cook the mushrooms and prawns for 2 minutes. Still on the heat, add the flavoured butter and stir well. Drain the pasta and add 1 tbsp of the cooking water to the prawns stirring to blend together. Add the pasta to the sauce, mix well and serve on hot dishes.

Deep-sided Mushroom Quiche

Cream of Mushroom Soup

For the pastry 350g plain flour ½ tsp salt 175g cold butter, diced

800g mushrooms sliced 2 shallots, diced 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 2 litres vegetable or chicken stock 100ml cream salt and pepper oil METHOD Add a good splash of oil to a large saucepan and, over a medium heat, add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt.

For the filling 1 tbsp oil 2 shallots, finely diced 400g mixed mushrooms 6 eggs, beaten 200ml cream 100ml milk salt and white pepper 200g aged Cheddar or Comté cheese (check suitability for vegetarians), grated

38 | living nikki legon’s cuisine Mushroom, beef and vegetable casserole

Chicken Marsala METHOD For the shortcrust pastry, put the flour and salt into a large bowl, add the diced butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. Using a knife, stir in just enough very cold water to bind the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the shallots and mushrooms for 2 minutes. In a large jug or bowl, combine the eggs milk and cream, season with salt and pepper. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and, using the rolling pin to help, lift it into a 22cm deep flan tin, let the edges overhang. Chill for a further 15 minutes. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans or rice. Place onto a baking tray and bake for 15 -20 minutes or until the pastry is a very light golden brown. Remove the baking beans and parchment and cook a further 5 minutes. Remove and lower the oven temperature to 150°C. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the base, add the mushrooms followed by the rest of the cheese. Pour in the egg

mix and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool, trim the edges with a sharp flat knife.

Chicken Marsala serves 6

30g unsalted butter 3 tbsp sunflower oil 6 chicken breast fillets, pound to ½ inch thickness plain flour to coat the chicken salt and pepper to season 30g butter 3 tbsp oil 2 shallots finely diced 1 clove garlic crushed ½ tsp dried thyme 1 tbsp plain flour 200g mushrooms 300ml dry Marsala 200ml chicken stock handful of chopped fresh parsley METHOD Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and coat in flour shaking off the excess. Cook for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm plate and set aside.

Return the frying pan to a medium heat. Add the butter then the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for several more minutes till the mushrooms are softened. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in the flour and add the Marsala, increasing the heat to burn off the alcohol. Pour in the chicken stock, and continue to cook and whisk the sauce until sauce is silky and smooth and slightly thickened. Add an optional knob of butter and let it melt into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and return the chicken to the pan, spooning the sauce over to heat through.

Mushroom, Beef and Vegetable Casserole A traditional braised beef stew with a thick, rich gravy which is ideal for cheaper cuts of meat. 2 celery sticks, thickly sliced 1 onion, chopped 3 carrots, thickly sliced 3 parsnips, thickly sliced 3 bay leaves 1 tbsp sunflower oil 1 tbsp butter

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 39

for a further 2 minutes. Add the beef stock and the beef, bringing to a gentle simmer before covering and cooking in the oven for 2 hours 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook a further 45 minutes till the meat is really tender and the sauce has thickened.

Apple Upside Down Cake 3 Granny Smith apples 150g soft brown sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 4 tbsp melted butter

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

for the cake mixture 250g plain flour pinch of salt 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg 120g softened butter 150g caster sugar 3 medium eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 160ml milk 2 tbsp plain flour 2 tbsp tomato purée 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 2 beef stock cubes 1 kilo stewing beef, cut into large chunks METHOD Heat the oven to 140°C. Heat 600ml of water and crumble in the beef stock cubes. In a casserole dish, add the oil and butter. Place on a medium heat and add the vegetables, soften for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour until it blends into the vegetables. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce. Cook

Apple upside down cake

METHOD Preheat the oven to 165°C. Butter a 23cm round cake tin. Peel and core the apples, cut into very thin slices and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Arrange the slices in the bottom of the cake tin in circles. For the cake mixture, whisk together the salt, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and lemon. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, just until blended, taking care not to

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overbeat it. Pour over the apples, evenly spreading to cover completely. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until the cake is risen, golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Invert the hot cake onto a large plate and leave to stand for 5 minutes before removing the tin. Serve with ice cream or crème fraîche.

Gîtes de France

Beautiful bed & breakfast accommodation in St Mathieu at the heart of the Périgord Natural Park For more information, call 05 55 09 57 99 or visit www.number15

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. See our menus on our website | | 05 45 36 26 26

40 | living wine

Keeping spirits high By Caro Feely


t’s that ‘hungry gap’ time of year. The vegetable garden is thin, Christmas is long past and spring seems far away. It’s a time of year when I need a few tricks to keep myself from sinking into a mild form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Eating good, healthy food – paired with great wine, bien sûr – staying in contact with loved ones and getting outdoors despite the miserable weather are a few of mine. We have a rule in our house that no one says “that’s disgusting” or similar about food, so anything less appreciated has become: “That’s ‘no thanks’ for me”. When I first tasted kale that’s certainly how I felt. I boiled it and created a bundle of bitter fibre with no discernible positive qualities. Fortunately, I soon learnt that not only does it have masses of health benefits – vitamins and antioxidants that give us a happiness jolt – but cooked right it tastes great. I love it pan-fried with garlic, lemon and olive oil or oil and a splash of soy sauce. What to eat with the pan-fried kale? Potatoes, pasta, couscous, bulgur wheat, polenta - any of these would be delicious with kale. Add bacon, or if

you are vegetarian/vegan, something like roasted nuts - walnuts are a favourite for us, since they are local. And what wine to pair with this fine food? Rather than go into a whole lot of theory about pairing, I’m going to suggest a test at home. You need a few wines and a few food items to try this. Buy a dry, acidic white (Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc or similar), a low tannin red (Grenache or Pinot Noir), a tannic heavier red (Merlot Cabernet from Bergerac or Bordeaux) and a sweet white (Saussignac, Monbazillac or Sauternes). Line up salt, lemon, cooked mushrooms and a caramel biscuit. Try each of these with each of the wines. The salt will make the wines smoother and richer and take the edge of the tannin of the tannic red. The lemon will make the wines seem fruitier and richer, less acidic and less bitter - if you have it with a low acid wine the latter will seem flat. Try the wines with the cooked mushrooms which are a classic ‘umami’ flavour – you’ll find the wines are more drying, bitter and acidic, so avoid high tannin wines with umami flavours. The sweet biscuit will make all the wines

seem less sweet; the only ones which will work will be the dessert wines. So based on this exercise, what of our kale dinner? There are many options: if cooked with lemon, it would be

Château Feely (www.chateaufeely. com) is a biodynamic and organic wine estate with accommodation, wine tours, vineyard walks and a certified Wine Spirit Education Trust wine school. Contact Caro for more details, or subscribe to the newsletter caro@chateaufeely. com, or via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also read the Feelys’ adventures in Caro’s book series; ‘Grape Expectations’, ‘Saving our Skins’ and the latest ‘Glass Half Full’.

living wine | 41

good with a dry white like cool or moderate climate Sauvignon Blanc or cooked with soy sauce (umami) it could pair with a low tannin red like Pinot Noir. There is so much to take away from this brief exercise, so I plan to continue with this theme in the next edition. Getting back to SAD and the hungry gap, another thing I love to

do is plan holidays – even pie-inthe-sky ones; it doesn’t hurt to dream. This March I will be visiting the west coast of Canada and USA for a book tour, and to see family. It’s a trip I dreamed of for a long time and have spent many happy hours researching and planning – offering much enjoyment and connection well before the travel itself.


Built of the hardy pines growing under the northern lights on Polar Circle

Going for a walk in nature is another winner. No special trip is required; a quick walk down a canal or in a park does wonders. Gestures of love and kindness also give me a happiness boost. As a child, when I was down my Mum would say: “Do something good for someone and you will feel better”. She was right, it still works.

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Vienne €503,500 Ref: 82658 Impressive 3 bed house with garden and outbuildings plus 1 bed guest accommodation.

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: G

6% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: D

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Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: N/A

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: © Office de Tourisme St-Georges-de-Didonne / J.M. Renaudie; © ROGER MOSS; © CMT17 C. TRIBALLIER

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Changing Places The coastal town of SaintGeorges-de-Didonne enjoys something of a cult following among those who have chanced upon it. The most obvious attraction is a privileged location between Meschers and Royan, where the Gironde estuary finally casts its fate to the mighty Atlantic. Better still, as a closer look at the map will reveal, Saint-Georges possesses two modest headlands, between which lie a tiny port and a sandy bay known as la Conche de Saint-Georges. Protecting them to the north is the Pointe de Vallières, once an impenetrable natural barrier of sand dunes until things were stabilised by plantations of maritime pines. Now anyone looking for a scenic route to and from neighbouring Royan can simply follow the Boulevard de la Corniche, along which some highly desirable individual properties turn their backs on the inevitable coastal apartment developments and instead focus on the hypnotic seaward views. Just above the port is the 38m high Phare de Vallières, completed in 1902 and given Monument Historique status in 2012. In summer months it’s open to visitors, who can enjoy panoramic views from the external

upper gallery and ponder the still visible shell damage sustained in 1945 during the liberation of Royan and its surroundings. The little fishing port below was for many years an important base for pilots, who would guide those requiring a safe passage across the broad estuary to the port of Le Verdon in the Médoc. Things are quieter today, particularly at low tide, when the stroll along the harbour wall finds boats stranded high and dry on the sands. Tucked away beside a footpath on the southernmost tip of the headland is a bas-relief monument to Operation Frankton, carried out in the Gironde by the Cockleshell Heroes in 1942. On the southern end of the beach is the Pointe de Suzac, whose forests extend for a considerable way inland and are home to several campsites, an equestrian centre and le Parc de l’Estuaire family nature park. On the cliffs you’ll discover le Fort de Suzac, a WWII German blockhouse complex profiting from a strategic location first exploited during Gallo-Roman times. Nearby are signs of extensive fortifications added during the Napoleonic period and destroyed in 1814 during British naval attacks. Happily, however, Saint-Georges

Saint-Georgesde-Didonne (17)

Looking for a sunny coastal hideaway? Saint-Georges-deDidonne might just be perfect. escaped the near total devastation inflicted upon Royan during WWII. The 19th century trend for sea bathing transformed the village into a fashionable resort which offered a more natural alternative to higher profile Royan, its appeal to tourists increasing in the 1920s with the creation of the Parc de Vallières. Not surprisingly, development has continued, but with an awareness of maintaining the sensitive balance between economic and environmental interests and with a keen awareness of the value of sustainable tourism. Making connections... Distances/drive times by road from Saint-Georges-de-Didonne: Angoulême: 110km/1hr 41min Bordeaux: 117km/1hr 39min Saintes: 41km/40min La Rochelle: 76km/1hr 20min TER rail services direct to Saintes for connections to: Angoulême (TGV), Bordeaux (TGV for Paris), Niort, Limoges, etc. Closest airports: La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Poitiers

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Ref. 33854

33 000€ HAI

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Close to Confolens (16), detached cottage to renovate, 2 bedrooms, shower room, wc, attic, old septic tank, adjoining garden + separate plot in nature of meadow with small outbuildings, all set on 11 273 m2.

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Ref. 33859

82 500€ HAI

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Ref. 33857

93 500€

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Confolens (16), 5 mn walk to town centre. 3-bed town house with view, river access, basement, gas heating, main drains, adjoining garden, well, stream, all set on 1554m2.

Ref. 33865

DPE: n/a

66 000€ HAI

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Availles (86), close to small town centre, detached house, all comfort, 2 bedrooms, utility room, oil heating, garage, boiler room, cellar, main drains, well, adjoining land on a stream bank, all set on 1803m2.

Ref. 33860


113 400€ HAI

(105 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Pressac (86), in dynamic village, charming renovated house, 3 beds (1 with bath/wc), oil heating, garage. covered terrace, mains drains, adjoining garden with well, set on 481m2.

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SAINT SAVIOL (86) Ref 22926 Price 139 000€ FAI

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ASNIERES SUR BLOUR (86) Ref 32590 Price 250 000€ FAI (incl. 6% fee paid by buyer)

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Maison de maitre 320m² of living space, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, barn and private landscaped walled garden of 1000m². DPE: D

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4 Bedroom Former Mill House with Land, Stream and Lake. DPE: D

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Ref: 4450-EY. 1,285,000€ FAI. DPE: E As seen on Channel 4’s A New Life in the Sun - a rare opportunity to purchase a hamlet comprising a large 13th C manor house with 5 bedrooms, a second 14th C manor house with 3 bedrooms, a 4 bedroom mill house and a 2 bedroom cottage, just under 3 acres of land. Fabulous investment opportunity with good rental income. (Taux d’honoraires 60,000€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur)

Ref: 6447-MO. 73,700€ FAI. DPE: Vierge Character stone house to restore, on 3 levels, has a good size garden and a nice view over the fields and Monpazier’s church. Only 300m to the bastide. (Taux d’honoraires 6,700€ (10%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.)

Ref: 6866-EY. 172,800€ FAI. DPE: Vierge A beautiful 17th C stone house situated in a small village with amenities, renovated to a high standard with 3 bedrooms, living room and a large kitchen/dining room. (Taux

d’honoraires 12,800€ (8%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.)

Ref: 6618-EY. 318,900€ FAI. DPE: D (Taux d’honoraires 18,000€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.) Wonderful 4 bedroom, bright, contemporary, comfortable, well insulated home with glorious views, a swimming pool and a jacuzzi. All of this is set in 1.7 acres of land. There is a modern and newly fitted kitchen plus a separate utility Room. The large, open plan living and dining room has glazed doors that open on to the terrace and lovely rural views. There is a separate office or snug with a fireplace.

Ref: 6764-MO. 588,000€ FAI. DPE: D A wonderful renovation of this stone house comprising a 5 bedroom house and a 3 bedroom gite. The house offers large light spaces with 2 living rooms, several bedrooms are en-suite, character features include stone walls and exposed beams. On more than 10 acres of land with country-side views and a swimming pool. (Taux d’honoraires 28,000€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.)

Ref: 6819-EY. 161,320€ FAI. DPE: Vierge Renovation project, group of stone buildings in a great location near a lake, partially renovated and just over ½ acre of land with lovely views. (Taux d’honoraires 13,320€ (9%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.)

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Ref: 6834-EY. 285,000€ FAI. DPE: D (Taux d’honoraires 18,000€ (6.7%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.) Delightful stone village property with a garden of 305m² within walking distance to the lovely village of Eymet. There are 3/4 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a fabulous fitted kitchen, laundry room, a dining room, separate lounge and an office. The house has been tastefully renovated to a very high standard and includes double glazing. Small garden and off-road parking.

New office in Bergerac opening January 2018

48 | living Angling

Hook, line & sinker…


It’s time again for Ron Cousins, our angling expert, to look forward to the trout season...

hen it comes to celebrating a major event, for anglers in France the second Saturday in March is up there with May Day and 14 July. That’s the day (this year on 10 March and just short of the ‘Ides of March’) when the new trout season opens and all the rivers have been stocked ready for the hordes of hopefuls who will be on the banks aiming to end the day dining on Truite Meunière. The close season, allowing the fish to spawn undisturbed, has run since last September, and it’s possible that the time to recommence was originally influenced by Izaak Walton, who wrote that “No man should in honesty catch a trout until the middle of March” in his 1653 classic: ‘The Compleat Angler’. Most of the middle and lower reaches of our rivers are Category 2, and allow maggots, worms and spinners to be used to catch trout, so with fish to eat uppermost in the mind, that’s the way most go about their fishing at the start of the season. Mention trout fishing to a British angler and it‘s fly fishing that comes to mind, but it‘s only since the mid-1980s that fly fishing – ‘le lancer de la mouche’ - has really taken off in France, and even today there are only around 50,000 fly fishermen among the millions who fish the lakes, rivers and the sea. It may be relatively early days in France, but the use of an artificial fly to catch fish goes back a long way. The second century Roman author and teacher Claudius Aelian described Macedonian fishermen on the Astraeus River “fastening red wool around a

hook and adding cock wattle feathers”, while in her 1496 “The Boke of St Albans” Dame Juliana Berners gave instructions on how to use various materials to create several different artificial flies. Casting an artificial fly comes into its own on the upper reaches of our rivers and the many tributaries which are classed as Category 1 waters, where maggots are banned, and on club controlled waters where “fly only” is the rule to protect expensive stocks. On these waters fishing is from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset; a maximum of three flies are allowed on the leader; no more than six trout can be retained each day and they must be over 25cm long. Catching trout on an artificial fly is regarded by many as the peak of angling skill, and again Izaak Walton summed it up when he wrote: “O, Sir, doubt not that angling is an art; is it not art to deceive a trout with an artificial fly?”. Every fly fisherman also knows that casting out the line well is as enjoyable an experience as actually catching a fish, and watching the action of the angler, the rod and the line working together to present the fly in front of a trout, is observing the most graceful form of fishing. This casting choreography may be the reason that more women take up fly fishing than any other branch of the sport. Casting a fly line has also become a sport in its own right, with competitions for distance cast and accuracy achieved plus casting at targets popular throughout Europe and America. The World Championship attracts entries

Right & FAR RIGHT: Rainbow trout CENTRE RIGHT: Brown trout

from many countries and the sport’s governing bodies are now demanding that tournament casting be included in the sports for the Olympic Games. The average fly fisherman does well to cast over 25 metres but the top casters go way beyond, and current world record holder American Steve Rajeff reached a distance of 74 metres. Carbon fibre rods, specially designed to deliver maximum power and fitted with low friction silicon carbide rod rings, together with fly lines coated to minimise friction as they pass through the rings, help the 21st century competition caster reach these distances. Things were less high-tech back in the 1950s, when a rod made from bamboo cane and a silk line were used by the angler rated the world’s top caster – this time an American woman Joan Wulff, who became the USA Accuracy Casting Champion at 16 years old, went on to win 21 titles and took the world distance crown with a cast of 41.5metres. To show just how well the ladies have taken to fly fishing, the next top distance caster after her was also an American woman, this time Alice Gillibert, who raised the bar to 48 metres. If record breaking casts aren’t your ambition, a satisfactory fly rod and reel can be bought for 70 euros and a fly line for around 30 euros. Add some nylon leader, flies and a folding landing net and for around 150 euros you’re ready to go, and after purchasing a ‘Carte de Pêche’ (same as the UK rod licence) there are many kilometres of river where a fly can be cast and trout are waiting. The River Dordogne between Argentat and Beaulieu is highly rated, along with its River

living Angling | 49

Vezère tributary. Rainbow and brown trout are in the River Boutonne around Brioux-sur-Boutonne, where clubs control several stretches, and more brown trout can be caught from the upper reaches of the River Charente and its Son-Sonnette tributary, as well as the River Tardoire. River Vienne tributaries worth casting a fly over are the Anglin, Gartempe and Clain. There are also a few private lakes where fly

fishing for trout is available on payment of a day ticket fee, and one of the most popular is La Mordorée Reservoir near Confolens: www.lamordoree. The Pescalis angling centre at Moncoutant also has a dedicated fly fishing lake where casting lessons can be arranged: The governing body for fly fishing in France is the ‘Fédération Française de Pêche a la Mouche et au Lancer’, whose

website contains useful information for anyone starting out in fly fishing: Going for a walk along the river bank and casting a fly is good exercise, but sometimes casting a line can bring surprising rewards. In 1923, 18-yearold Doreen Davey cast her line on her father’s stretch of the River Wye on the Welsh borders and hooked a massive salmon which weighed 27kg and is still the record fish for the river. She became a national celebrity and received a number of offers of marriage. Isn’t that much more romantic than meeting on the internet?





22KG BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE* | 32 *Charges apply. See for details. Correct at time of print, September 2017.

22 | living in the garden Galanthus nivalis or ‘Snowdrops’

in the garden

Time to prepare the soil for planting

living in the garden | 51

The dark days of winter will soon be a distant memory, as our gardens reawaken from their slumbers – so there’s work to be done.

Spring Snowflakes Leucojum vernum

Camellia oleifera

With only the winter-flowering Jasmine to provide a dash of colour to the winter months, each new sign of life is a welcome sight for gardeners. Traditionally the very earliest of the early-risers are ‘les perces-neiges’ – Galanthus nivalis, or ‘Snowdrops’ to you and me. Plucky little plants, they really can emerge from a covering of snow to reach 10-25cm, although being white, the flowers will make their best impact visually when things are altogether greener. In time they’ll clump up nicely, too, so they deserve a place in every garden. Natives of forest floors and damp meadows, they like a moist, nitrogen-rich soil but seem to survive in most locations which aren’t prone to drying-out completely. The bulbs can be planted (ideally in autumn) roughly 5cm deep, and at 5cm intervals. Wear gardening gloves while handling the bulbs, which are toxic, and can induce vomiting if ingested. Often confused, at a first glance, with Snowdrops are Spring (or Spring-Flowered) Snowflakes – Leucojum vernum – which appear a

52 | living in the garden

Keep plastic bottles to use as cloches

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little later than their cousins. You can tell them apart, however, by taking a closer look for their tell-tale larger bell-shaped flowers which look a little like Art Nouveau lampshades. The plants can reach 30cm in height, too. If they appeal why not have both varieties? Plant bulbs 8–10cm deep (again ideally in autumn) in reasonably fertile, humus-rich and reliably moist soil. They’ll appreciate full sun, but are otherwise pretty undemanding and will repay you with a timely floral display – an indication that things will soon be stirring down in the soil. Not that we’re ready to get back into summer gardening mode for some time yet. A quick look at the climate statistics thoughtfully provided by MetéoFrance will confirm something we’ve long suspected, namely that average February temperatures throughout most of Nouvelle Aquitaine tend to be little different from those of bleak, blustery January. In fact, February has a nasty habit of inflicting some of the hardest frosts of the year on our gardens. It’s not all bad news, though – average rainfall figures should be decreasing, and the sun begins to put in more frequent appearances. Things finally start to warm up as we enter March, although rainfall becomes less evenly distributed, with slightly less on or near the coast, although more inland. For that we can thank the moderating influence of the Atlantic, which wards off the more pronounced variations we experience inland – in other words, textbook examples of continental vs maritime climates. You’ll be in no doubt as to which category you fall in to, and your own local climate type will influence the timing of your jobs in the garden. As our long-time garden expert Trevor Bridge was keen to point out in his

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living in the garden | 53

The rich golden yellows of Forsythia intermedia

an annual crop rotation plan. It’s also time to prepare a stock of clean pots and get some fresh seed compost. It’s all about getting organised - the growing season has a habit of being upon us before we know it, so it’s as well to have everything needed ready and waiting. Once that’s done we have a brief opportunity to find and repair any winter damage to cold frames, raised beds or greenhouses; if things are productive then we’re going to be focused on other things as the growing year advances. Meanwhile, back in the flower garden, even before the curtain falls on the Snowdrops and Spring Snowflakes,

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another early-flowering ally is about to add a more striking, if relatively fleeting show of colour. There’s no mistaking the rich golden yellows of Forsythia intermedia, which must count as one of the best-loved shrubs in France. If you’re buying plants then it’s worth looking carefully at those on display at garden centres - catch the plants while they’re in bloom and you can select the intensity of colour (which can vary from yellow to gold) which you find most pleasing. The plants are pretty hardy, but should be planted during frost-free periods (in early autumn or spring) to encourage healthy root growth. Soil-wise, they’re


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Living Magazine articles, it’s always much better to wait until things dry out a little rather than trying to cultivate your soil or sow seeds when the ground is cold and waterlogged, or we risk them rotting rather than germinating. If we’re lucky, though, conditions can turn out to be suitable, in which case February can actually be a good time to prepare our seed beds carefully and to complete any major digging and weeding which we haven’t been able to tackle previously. If you sense that the time is right you can get things moving by sowing early vegetables outdoors or better still under cover, remembering that it still makes sense to work out

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54 | living in the garden relatively undemanding, although it’s worth adding some compost, particularly in high-calcaire areas. Alternatively, they will be perfectly happy in tubs, as long as the compost (for shrubs or flowering plants) is replaced every two or three years. Plant them singly, in groups or even as a deciduous hedge. Either way, be aware that they should only be pruned immediately after they’ve finished flowering, since the blossom will be produced on each new season’s shoots. For a more exotic injection of early springtime colour look no further than our friends the Camelias. Natives of eastern and southern Asia, their vast extended family includes the ‘tea-leaf plant’ Camelia sinensis, plus Camelia oleifera (grown for its oil-rich seeds), not to mention thousands of hybrids. They’re evergreen, too, so their attractive foliage will be with us through the darkest days of winter, when their ball-like flower buds will be swelling. When they finally open the flowers are showy, with variety-specific hues from purest white to deep red. Contrary to popular belief, they can be grown in French gardens, as long as we follow a couple of simple rules. The first is to avoid locations which catch the morning sun after winter frosts, as the shock of the sudden thaw causes the flowers to discolour and shrivel. Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis)

Inspect last years potato bed and remove any leftover small potatoes to avoid blight

These were, after all, originally forest dwellers. The second requirement is to plant in an acidic or at least pH-neutral soil, something which requires a little preparation in high-calcaire areas like ours. That means planting in an ericaceous ‘terre de bruyère’ compost, either by digging out and replacing

Force Rhubarb for an early crop by covering with a forcing pot

February & March

PLANNER Buy seed potatoes and chit them for planting. * Force rhubarb for an early crop, covering an established crown with a forcing pot, an upturned bucket or large pot, and insulate the outside with straw or compost. The stalks will then grow in the dark and should be ready in 3-4 weeks (see photo right) * Keep plastic bottles to use as cloches * If you have a greenhouse give it a thorough clean. * Collect some supports, pea sticks, etc., for climbers. * Check fleece and other crop covers for holes and tears. * Scrub pots and seed trays thoroughly with hot, soapy water * Inspect last year’s potato bed, removing any leftover small potatoes to avoid blight etc. * Dig compost or rotted manure into this year’s potato bed. * Cover soil with dark plastic sheeting, fleece or cloches for a couple of weeks to warm things prior to sowing and planting. * Cover parsnips, turnips and swedes with fleece or straw to stop them freezing solid in the soil.


the existing soil with the compost or (a potentially easier option) creating raised beds filled with the compost. After you’ve created the soil equivalent of a micro-climate the plants should flourish, and you can maintain their preferred low-pH conditions by watering from time to time with an acidifying feed produced specifically for acid-loving plants like Azaleas, Camelias, Pieris and Rhododendrons. With a little advanced planning, anything is possible – a good maxim for any gardener.

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Quality Furniture - Convenient Delivery FURNITURE for France is now in its thirteenth year of supplying quality furniture to properties in France. The company specialises in providing clients with a service that offers good quality UK-sourced furniture, delivered direct to your property in France from just £59. Liaising with its customers from the initial enquiry through to furniture installation, ensures they are kept informed every step of the

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Transport services

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LET JON THE CARPET MAN KEEP YOU WARM AND COSY! Having experienced our first snowfall here in the Corrèze in early November (albeit only lasted a couple of hours) it does remind you that we are definitely into winter and need to be thinking about keeping warm and cosy. Understanding that non-insulated floors account for between 10-20% of heat loss in a room, what improvements can you make? One of the best ways to keep a home warm is with a carpet fitted over a good underlay - the insulation value of this can be up to 10

Motoring, Flooring, Design

T: 05 55 73 63 16

Left Hand Drive Place We buy and sell left hand drive cars, French & British registered. Delivery and collection across Europe - regular trips throughout France. New and used, tax paid and tax free. +44 (0) 1256 461173

times that of a hard floor. Not only will you be warmer but you’ll save money too - it’s proven that a deep pile carpet could save you up to 12% of your energy heating costs. Of course there are many advantages to a wall to wall carpet: LUXURY - Carpet gives the look and feel of luxury. COST - Although there is a huge choice of carpet they will always be cheaper to install than tiles or wood. HEALTH - Properly maintained carpet


will have a positive effect on indoor air quality by trapping dust particles within the fibres, reducing airborne dust by 50% more than hard floors and then the retained particles are removed by vacuuming. SAFETY - Soft carpets improve safety, reducing slips and falls - and if you do fall the landing is much softer! So, if you want to be warm and cosy this winter with a money saving, luxury looking carpet - give Jon the Carpet man a call......


Ian Dickinson


BSc (Hons)


For all your flooring needs

• We supply and fit a range of carpets to suit all budgets • We also fit amtico, vinyl, wood and ceramic tile • Over 25 years experience, 100% customer satisfaction • Now selling a selection of wool and mixed fibre rugs

10 years working in France, fully registered and insured to cover all parts of the country.

Architectural Designer Architectural designs, planning applications & project management for extensions, renovations, conversions and new build.

Architectural Drawing Service Renovating your next property? Dreaming of a new build? Let me help you. • Dossiers prepared • Permis de construire • Déclaration préalables Siret: 49377035800015

Departments: 16, 17, 24, 79, 86 & 87 Tel/Fax:

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


05 53 52 36 05 Peter Latus BA(Hons)


All work completed by us, design, excavation, construction & landscaping on completion. All work guaranteed. Testimonials available on request. Prices from €18,476 for 8x4m Email:

05 49 87 04 13

Metalwork, Fencing, Artisans

Siret 45047931600033

POOLS BY JONATHAN Agent and installer for several rectangular & shaped pools including Seablue & Astral Pools FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE Competitive prices, try me for a quote Terracing and landscaping service also available ALL WORK GUARANTEED phone 0549840362 mobile 0622361056

SIRET 47994761600021

Pools, Metalwork

Jeff’s Metalwork

All your metalwork needs catered for Ornate interior / exterior designs Gates constructed / refurbished Industrial furniture ~ General Welding Tel: 05 49 64 97 25 Mob: 06 05 54 87 81

Over 25 year’s experience

Turner Plomberie and Chauffage Established suppliers and fitters of kitchens and bathrooms We offer a full range of award winning UK designs by Howdens Joinery

Contact us today: Tel: 05 49 87 56 49

Call today to arrange a no obligation free home survey and CAD design service Siret 82502272600012 These local businesses are waiting for your call!


Your distributeur supplier of Piscines MAGILINE pools Votre MAGILINE across Vienne (86) LES BASSINS DE FAYOLLES Votre distributeur Piscines MAGILINE

LES BASSINS DE FAYOLLES 1, Route de Montmorillon 86400 SAVIGNÉ

Tél : 06 29 60 31 78

Metalwork, UPVC, Artisans

L’Atelier de Fer Fraser W. Eade

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

05 55 71 41 75 Siret: 512 945 874 00018


Kitchens & Bathrooms from A-Z

Depts 16 & 17

Painting & decorating services Tiling / Flooring Plasterboarding Suppliers of Crown Paints Providing a quality service since 2005 Kevin Smith

Siret 482 718 640 00022

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

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

16100 Chateaubernard 05 45 36 46 70 / 06 72 21 80 27

website: email: siret:50263448800014

MOving hOuSe...? Full house clearances quoted for & complete contents bought. Use until the day you move knowing it is all sold.

Call Terry on 05 45 30 72 04

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

Siren: 449 714 989

All reclamation bought & sold Demolition undertaken Specialists in oak beams Metalwork & stonework Indian stone flooring 50,000 sq ft covered showrooms 1km from Confolens D952 Ansac-sur-Vienne road Mon-Sat 8.30am-6pm Open lunch-times Sundays closed

ChipbOard type P5 1833 and 22mm tongue and grooved water repellent, chipboard comes in 8ft x 2ft sheets. C.L.S. stud work is a beautiful product to work with, clean dry and STRAIGHT. Currently held in 2.4m, 3m and 4.8m lengths. 38mm x 89mm C16 planed for eased edges C.L.S. profile. pLYWOOd All in 8ft x 4ft sheets. External grade suitable for construction uses with high quality finish on both sides. Held in 5.5mm, 9mm, 12mm, 18mm, 25mm. All Malaysian WBP BB/CC. MdF 18mm held OSB 9mm and 18mm held. happy to quote for all soft wood requirements. Skirting bOard and arChitrave in stock. FLOOr jOiStS held in many sizes. rOLLS OF knauF earth WOOL nOn-itChY in stock (100 & 150mm).

Building services, Artisans





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

Building services, Artisans

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


Part or full renovations Roofing Plaster boarding All building works undertaken Tel: 05 49 27 52 99 Mob: 06 74 95 21 00 E: Based 79190 Siret 487 581 209 00011




Imajica Joinery

Fosse septique and accredited Micro station installer Professional, friendly reliable service with competitive prices. From conception to completion, we will even do the paperwork. All drainage problems, groundworks patios & driveways. Established 14 years, french registered & insured All work guaranteed - Testimonials available on request Email:

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

05 49 87 04 13

Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne

Siret 45047931600033

Siren: 478 608 185 00011

05 49 87 09 63 Siret: 48115588500017

Sarl AUVIN Fabrication

SIRET: 789 956 125 00015

Building services, Artisans

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

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

Roof repairs both large & small Roof replacement Roof renovations Roofing surveys for house purchase Chimney Removals Insurance claims Décennale (10 year) Insurance Now covering Dordogne EU validated Heritage Construction Company Tel: 06 32 19 50 53 E:

South West

France Fosse

Accredited Installers of :

Micro Stations, Compact filters and traditional Fosse septiques For a guaranteed professional solution from initial application to achieving conformity

Over 30 years of experience See all our work on our facebook page T: 06 04 14 84 86


These local businesses are waiting for your call!

Stairs & windows All carpentry Manufacture & renovation in and around Charente (16)

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


Les Les Bons Voisins Voisins

property management throughout france


no job too small, no project too large

exceptional service at competitive prices

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

. admin help . translation

friendly people providing professional help to home owners in france

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

ty and Full Public Liabili surance In Civil Décennale

06 82 10 45 65

06 83 99 01 48 / 09 84 22 80 23 Siret: 517 604 997 00018

The Roofing & Renovation Company Established, registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance Roofing - Traditional, Interlocking and Slate Rendering, Pointing, Full and Part Renovations, Conversions

05 49 27 22 67

depts 79, 86 & 16 Siret: 499 474 302 00035

Carpenter Specialising in Kitchens, Bathrooms, Renovations & Building Works

79190 Clussais La Pommeraie E: References available Siret: 509 487 534 00018

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

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

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


website: email: siret:50263448800014

Chauffage, Climatisation, Sanitaire Central Heating installations boiler Servicing bathroom, Kitchen installations Tiling, Solar Powered Hot Water Underfloor Heating & Heat Pumps RobeRT WalKeR Tel: 05 49 27 36 98

based South 79 All work is fully insured, references can be provided

Experienced, French Registered Electrician Available for all types of electrical work renovations, small works, gate automations etc. Insured and guaranteed Areas 16, 17, 24, 47

T: 06 71 83 16 69 / 05 49 87 27 29 E: 2 Verrières, 86400 CHAMPNIERS

Covering south 86 & 79, north 16

Siret 49376573200015

Robert Walker Jb Plumbing PlombeRie Kitchen & Bathroom

SiReT: 502 497 365 00010

Registered Artisan with Décennale Insurance

Multi Services

05 46 86 07 61


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

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

ADAM BLACKABY Artisan Peintre T: 05 45 98 07 25 M: 06 23 18 30 95 Areas 16, 17, 24, 33, 79, 86 Siret: 441 490 992 00027

Based at Migron (17) and close to Cognac (16)

Tel: 05 46 98 22 01 Mob: 06 02 33 90 58 E: Siret: 492 277 918 00024


Tel: 05 49 50 09 06 Mob: 06 70 97 59 56 Email: siret: 45275539000013 RM8601

Peter Amor Electrician

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

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

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

Building services, Artisans




Property maintenance, internal & external works, plaster boarding, painting and decorating, wall & floor tiling.

Building services, Artisans

Andy Quick

16420 Saint Christophe

ID Property Services

Building services, Artisans

3 New Builds 3 Renovations 3 Approved fosse septiques 3 Foundations 3 Driveways 3 Land clearance 3 Lake Management

living music | 65

M Falling stars Y UpBeat

Two hugely popular music personalities recently left us. We celebrate the lives, loves and music of Johnny Hallyday and France Gall.

Piano tuner and technician, great offers on tunings and piano services. Special Offer: Tuning for only €65! *excluding travel costs, for a limited time only

Based 24600 Ribérac

For more information please call 06 08 34 07 13 or visit facebook/accordeurpianoluigi

sales), completed 187 tours and in 1997 received France’s highest accolade, being declared Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Addressing the crowds in the place de la Madeleine, President Emmanuel Macron said of him: “In each of your lives there was a moment when one of his songs summed up what you felt in your hearts...”. Hardly just another singer, then. While still in mourning for Johnny, France was rocked a second time by the loss of another of her best-loved musical stars. France Gall popped onto our TV screens in 1965 when she sang France’s winning Eurovision Song Contest entry (at the age of just 17). Blond and pretty, she would become the muse of the song’s louche and ever-susceptible writer Serge Gainsbourg, who later described her as “my first Lolita...”. The man who would finally win her heart, however, was singer/songwriter Michel Berger, their seemingly perfect chemistry producing a string of chart


Café de la Gare


Piano tuner technician With over 50 years in the trade Complete Renovations New strings, hammers etc. Also repairs and piano tuning Ex Royal Albert Hall, BBC and Ronnie Scotts Restored Baby Grands for Sale Cover areas 16, 17, 79 and west Vienne

Tel: 05 45 21 16 13 Mobile: 06 43 31 58 17 E: SIRET: 51031234100017

Bar ~ Snacks ~ Music ~ Pool

open till midnight Weekends 12-12, Lunch Tue-Fri Blighty shop drop off point Art classes CIFT venue (crafting in France) Music nights and more

Sunday Lunch ~ Exhibitions Gourville (16170) Between Aigre & Rouillac

Tel: 0545 622516

FB: le bourg aka cafe de la gare

successes. They married in 1976 and were inseparable through the peaks of their respective careers, which for Berger included a hit musical ‘Starmania’, producing Johnny Hallyday’s ‘Rock n’ Roll Attitude’ album and promotional concerts, multiple film scores, charitable work and more. He also applied his magic touch to Gall’s ‘Babacar’ album and sell-out concert tours, the good times continuing until in 1992, when Berger (whose father was a prominent cardiologist) suffered a fatal heart attack, aged just 44. The following year France was successfully treated for breast cancer, only to witness the tragic death in 1997 of the couple’s daughter Pauline from cystic fibrosis. Eventually she returned to performing live, but devoted most of her time to charitable work for Chanteurs Sans Frontières and Action Écoles, founded by Berger, Gall and other personalities to provide education for children in Senegal and Ethiopia.


ou have to take your hat off to anyone who sustains a musical career spanning several generations. In a refreshing contrast to the endless wannabee star roll-outs, here in France fan loyalty still has real meaning. On 9 December 2017, for example, close to a million people converged on the Champs-Élysées to say a tearful farewell to Johnny Hallyday. When the funeral cortege (accompanied by hundreds of bikers) reached the Église de la Madeleine the assembled mourners included not only the expected fellow showbiz personalities but also President Macron and his family. It didn’t end there, the following days of media homages leaving no one in any doubt that a whole nation was in mourning. Johnny was born Jean-Philippe Smet. His Belgian father, a nightclub singer, left his wife in 1943, leaving her with little time to care for her new-born son. Hallyday therefore grew up with his aunt, eventually adopting his stage name from an American cousin-in-law who performed as Lee Halliday. After his early introduction to American music, Johnny delivered his interpretation on stage, and soon gained a reputation as France’s answer to Elvis. His subsequent career and personal life would prove to be a gift to biographers – along the way he hung out with Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, was married five times and in later years divided his time between California and Switzerland, to avoid what he regarded as unfair French taxation laws. In all he sold over 110 million records worldwide, including 79 albums (over 60 of which achieved gold or platinum

66 | living Language

Pardon? A

round Valentine’s Day, our thoughts may turn to those of a more romantic or sensual nature. English has borrowed a fair few French words for that romantic touch. Maybe it’s the Serge Gainsbourg effect, perhaps the Moulin Rouge has a lot to answer for, or maybe even the romantic skunk Pépé Le Pew... English speakers all over the world turn to French when we want to sound a little risqué or to add a little glamour and sophistication to our most personal and intimate of items. It’s time to take a look in the English armoire at all things bedroom. Let’s start with the boudoir. It’s a word that’s had a bit of a renaissance in English of late, but remains old-fashioned in France. Originally a dressing room, it has overtones of an intimate and private place these days. Why this word has taken on notions of something intimate, where you might find Mae West or Jean Harlow, is not really very clear. Its origins are with the French word bouder which means ‘to sulk’ or ‘to pout’ - hardly very seductive at all. In France, le boudoir is probably more famous as a biscuit which we Anglophones might call a ‘ladyfinger’ or trifle sponge. English speakers didn’t just take the French word for a woman’s dressing room (ironically called un dressing in French) but also the words for several more luxurious items of underwear. A negligee may bring to mind early Janet Reger nightwear, designed more for seduction than keeping you warm, but a rose-coloured crêpe de chine negligee certainly had a particular appeal that a winceyette nightie obviously did not. Of course, le négligé is still used in French for the exact same kind of underwear. However, it also has connotations of scruffiness in French, as the adjective négligé means ‘careless’, ‘sloppy’ or

L i ving

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Emma-Jane Lee peeks into le boudoir…

Originally, the word came from the item of clothing you’d put on to have your hair done, hence its similarity to the French for comb, un peigne. In French, un peignoir is also the name of the gown or cape you put on in the hairdressers. You’d probably be a bit surprised if your hairdresser asked you to put on a peignoir, unless your hairdresser is womaniser Warren Beatty in Shampoo. You may also find yourself with a silk camisole as a gift this Valentine’s Day, but that’s much less popular a word in French than it is in English. Une camisole came into French from chemise and has several much less sexy French meanings, such as une camisole de force, which is a ‘neglected’. Nobody in their boudoir negligee straitjacket, and une camisole chimique is a wants to give off an air of sloppiness. dose of sedatives so strong that it knocks And yes, English-speakers also picked you out, a ‘chemical straitjacket’. Decidedly up the French word la lingerie for ladies’ unromantic! underwear. It’s certainly better than Our hijacking of French words for ‘smalls’, ‘scanties’, or even your ‘unmenunderwear doesn’t stop there. We have tionables’. Lingerie has a glamour that ‘bra also adopted the décolletage in English, and knickers’ just doesn’t share. Lingerie which brings to mind the jaw-dropping has connotations of boudoirs and boutiques. necklines of Jayne Mansfield and Gina Not the kind of undergarment that Lollobrigida. It certainly sounds better than Victoria Wood would sing about. Like ‘cleavage’ or ‘bosom’. Originally the word le négligé, la lingerie is still very much in was much more to do with revealing use on this side of the Channel. Just don’t the neck than it was to do with the eyepronounce it ‘ling-er-ee’ whatever you do, watering gravity-defying fashions of as it loses all charm. It doesn’t sound quite modern celebrities, and our word ‘neckline’ has the same modesty about it too. as charming in French when you know However you celebrate la fête de St the source of the word just means ‘linens’. Valentin in France, our English habit of Nobody pops into Agent Provocateur or Victoria’s Secrets for some linens, do they? picking up the most sexy of all the French One term that is definitely more words means that you are probably more seductive in English is a peignoir which intimate with the language than you is definitely more Jilly Cooper than Jane thought. Who knows - it may well give Austen. In French, un peignoir is usually you carte blanche in the boudoir. just a dressing gown or housecoat, the Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, writing kind of thing you might wear if you get English textbooks, translating, marking exam out of the bath or you’re not ready to get scripts and teaching languages. She lives near dressed yet. Those huge flannel bathrobes La Rochefoucauld with her growing menagerie. don’t seem particularly romantic, do they? See

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

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Living Magazine Feb March 2018  

Gorgeous photos, fabulous features and so much more, all about south west France. Written by a team that live here and love it, Living Magaz...

Living Magazine Feb March 2018  

Gorgeous photos, fabulous features and so much more, all about south west France. Written by a team that live here and love it, Living Magaz...