Living Magazine - October 2020

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L i ving The R

ace Begins


oct nov 2020

Vendée Globe Time Travel Ski Safe & much more

~Passionate about life in south west France~

living editor’s letter | 3


to our October - November issue his is turning out to be a year like no other and we are all, no doubt, feeling the strain. As well as COVID, we have the continuing uncertainty of Brexit while on the global stage the US election grows ever closer. Fires, floods, the list goes on.

So, here at Living Magazine, we have turned our thoughts to more pleasant things and filled our pages with fabulous features to inspire you through the autumnal months. A little diversion never did anyone any harm and that is what we hope to offer. I’ve always loved bridges, who doesn’t think of the feet and wheels that have crossed the bridge in years past, or pause to wonder at the engineering and sheer effort that enabled great rivers and extensive valleys to be spanned? France has some stunning examples and our region is home to many. We delve into their history and give you some great destinations for a day-trip. Meanwhile, on the Atlantic coast, they are getting ready for a race that tests endurance like no other, the Vendée Globe. Every four years, intrepid skippers set out to circumnavigate the globe reliant only upon themselves. Whilst I am all for social distancing, it seems an extreme way to ‘get away from it all’! One slightly more accessible way to avoid the crowds is on carefully picked mountain slopes. Our resident skiing expert, Roger Moss, tells us where and when to go to ensure that you can ski safely or simply enjoy the beauty of it all. He’s researched the safety measures being put in place and assessed the amenities to establish which resorts to recommend for the winter ahead. Meanwhile, Jessica Knipe comes up with a treasure trove of ideas for entertaining children of all ages using the region’s history as a backdrop. I am in awe of her resourcefulness and feel slightly guilty about my own efforts to entertain our children when they were young! And with Halloween around the corner, we come to spectres of a different kind. The muchheralded opening of the residency portal for British citizens in July was delayed at the eleventh hour and we now expect it to open in October. With the shenanigans going on across the Channel, we can take nothing for granted so check FranceRights. org along with the Embassy’s ‘Living-In’ guides for the latest information. Finally, a big thank you to our new subscribers - every subscription helps us through these challenging times. We hope you all enjoyed your copy of this edition being delivered directly to your post box! If you too would like to receive your copy of LIVING through the post, find out how on page 5. Keep safe and à bientôt!


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4 | living contents

october - nov e m ber




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Time Travel As the confinement eased, Jessica Knipe took her band of adventurers on a journey back in time


Snippets News from around the region



Practical Advice

Spanning the Centuries Getting around this great country of ours is something we now take for granted, we have pioneering engineers to thank for making that possible


Going Global The Vendée Globe, a round-the-world sailing adventure which eclipses all others, sets sail from our shores


Our experts answer questions on legal and money matters


Citizens’ Rights Kathryn Dobson explains the latest information for British citizens here in France


Pumpkins & Pagans The Hays family looks forward to trick or treating in Charente-Maritime

Ski Safe Is ‘social distancing’ getting you down? A winter getaway to higher altitudes can actually make it a lot more fun, so we consider where and when to go


Puzzle Break Our unique crossword by Mike Morris

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Nikki Legon’s Cuisine Tasty autumnal recipes that will delight all the family


Meet the Grapes Our wine expert Caro Feely outlines five red and five white wine grapes grown here


Living Property Pages A profile of Availles-Limouzine


Homemade brews We look at natural (and free) alternatives to chemical fertilisers for your garden


Hardy Soul We celebrate singer/songwriter Françoise Hardy


Pardon! The world of slang explored by linguist Emma-Jane Lee


Business Directory The best local services & suppliers

64 Places To Go around the region

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

News round up Abbaye d’Aubazine (19)

Moulin du Verger (16)

Château de Nontron (24)

Mission Patrimoine This year’s Loto du Patrimoine, fronted by journalist and presenter Stéphane Bern and played through September, will benefit a number of historical sites across the region. Now in its third year, proceeds from the lottery sales are passed to the Fondation du Patrimoine to protect historic sites in need of repair. So far the Mission Patrimoine has raised 89 million euros and

supported the restoration of 509 sites. At the end of June, one site for each region was chosen: for NouvelleAquitaine the Viaduc des Rochers Noirs (see our Spanning the Centuries feature) and for the Pays de la Loire, the court at Baugé-en-Anjou. At the end of August an additional 101 sites, from 4,000 identified as in danger, were picked to receive support including the Moulin du Verger,

Eco Renovation

Within the raft of measures announced by the French government as part of the 100 billion-euro France Relance recovery plan, MaPrimeRénov is receiving extra funding. Launched at the beginning of the year, MaPrimeRénov was created to replace the energy transition tax credit (CITE) and the ‘Habiter Mieux Agilité’ fund from the Agence Nationale de l’Habitat (Anah). It offers funding for energy renovations (insulation, heating etc.) or can be used to fund energy audit work. Currently, the fund is means tested but as of 1 January 2021, the caps cease, the scheme becoming available to landlords and public building. Economy minister Bruno Le Maire explained: “Fifty per cent of renovations are carried out by the [top twenty per cent of earners], so if you exclude wealthier people from benefiting from this premium, it won’t work.” There is additional funding available to buildings that are classified as F or G on their DPE (diagnostic de performance énergétique) assessment. A maximum of twenty thousand euros is available to each household over a five-year period. Full details:

a papermill at Puymoyen (16), Eglise Saint-Pierre at Cozes (17), the Abbaye d’Aubazine (19), Château de Nontron (24), Commanderie de Cenan at SaintPompain (79), Château de Ternay (86) and the Vaseix park and rose-garden at Verneuil-sur-Vienne (87). The protestant temple at Saumur (49) and the dairy at Mazeau (85) also made it onto the list.


To find the official figures and news for your region and département, visit the Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS) website (www. or www. There you will find the latest information on local cases, testing centres and government advice. For national information, see which is updated daily Monday to Friday. Use Google Translate or DeepL to translate into English if required, both do a good job.

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

Healthcare Handbook

With so much discussion around healthcare, it’s worth remembering that the public health service publish a free downloadable booklet called ‘Livret de Santé’. This bilingual guide explains different aspects of the health service. It covers access to healthcare, preventative care, key health themes and finishes with useful information. Aimed at health professionals, it was first published in 2018 so does not include the current crisis within its 218 pages but is useful to download if you are unclear on what your rights are or how to access care. Find it at

Néo Terra

As one of the regions in France most affected by climate change – a 1.4°C increase in temperature during the 20th century has led to increasingly frequent and severe climatic phenomena (floods, storms, erosion and drought) – Nouvelle-Aquitaine required an ambitious environmental plan to be put in place. Evaluations began in 2010, with two reports published in 2019: Acclimaterra and Ecobiosis, focusing on climate change and biodiversity respectively. Subsequently, the regional council adopted a region-wide roadmap dedicated to supporting the transition needed in energy, agriculture and ecology by 2030. Named Néo-Terra, this plan has eleven focus areas from citizen engagement to business transition and zero waste. One year on, a progress review has been published (see Nearly 4,000 applications for grants have been received, a quarter of which have been reviewed and voted on (the current pandemic has slowed progress) and 602 million euros have been assigned. 86% of the grants have been awarded to farming, businesses and transport. To find out more, visit


Calls will be answered by a local counsellor

Île de Ré

LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes Cognac Royan


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ANGOULEME Barbezieux Aubeterresur-Dronne

News from around the region...

les charentes Summer Season

As well as the reduced timetables from regional airports to the UK making travel to the UK difficult, ferry routes are set to get fewer too. Brittany Ferries makes only a quarter of its revenues from freight and so plummeting passenger numbers this summer have left it in a precarious position. It normally carries around 2.6 million passengers a year but the disastrous summer season has meant that it has taken drastic action to safeguard the future of the company. Key changes include taking the Armorique out of service on the Plymouth to Roscoff route which will be replaced by the Pont-Aven offering three return trips per week, while the Connemara has been laid up with no service on the Cherbourg/Portsmouth and Le Havre/Portsmouth routes until further notice. St Malo/Portsmouth and Cherbourg/Poole have already closed. If you have travel booked with the company, you are advised to check your reservation. Brittany Ferries remains confident that its foundations are strong and the longerterm outlook is healthy, already having more reservations for the 2021 season than it did at a comparable time for 2019.

Operation Bon d’Achat

La Rochefoucauld’s Mairie invested in local businesses this summer when it gave 15€ gift vouchers to each household to use locally before the end of October. The uptake was high and restaurants and shops quickly benefited from the exercise. Perhaps recent events will encourage us all to support our local businesses to ensure they are there when we need them most.

World’s End Lighthouse

20 years ago, André Bronner and his friends finished building the replica of the Phare du Bout du Monde just 400 metres off the Plage de Minimes at La Rochelle. A homage to the lighthouse off Patagonia made famous by Jules Verne, Bronner’s dream was to have two identical lighthouses on either side of the Atlantic. First the Patagonian one was renovated and then the dream to have an identical one in La Rochelle began to take shape. For many years, boats had run aground at the Pointe des Minimes, just outside the port, which was marked only with a white pole, so Michel Crépeau, at the time the Maire of La Rochelle, readily agreed to the lighthouse plan. To celebrate the structure’s 20th anniversary, volunteers with the Association Le Phare du Bout du Monde have been spending 24 hours as lighthouse guardians in the unusual wooden creation on stilts. With eighty volunteers still on the waiting list, though, all the spots are filled but the association is seeking support to republish the book of the lighthouses’ remarkable histories.

© Victoria Jackson

Channel Hopping

The tourism board for Les Charentes has published its first review of the summer season. It is no surprise that the start of the season was hit hard by COVID but the impact of the virus diminished later in the season. The lost months of April to June cannot be made up but July showed an increase in visitors, mainly from France, and was only 5% down on last year, while August showed an increase of 5% over 2019. Overall foreign visitors were down by nearly a third, although Belgian visitors grew. The UK quarantine resulted in a 45% decrease in British visitors when it was announced mid-August. Unsurprisingly, inland sites showed stronger growth than coastal, and outdoor activities in general were preferred. And for the future? The outlook is mixed. Last minute bookings are expected to remain popular but group activities for schools and businesses remain weak with many being pushed back to 2021. The extension of the ban on gatherings of over 5,000 people has been extended to the end of October which has meant that cancellation of events such as Le Grand Pavois at La Rochelle and the Circuit des Remparts at Angoulême will impact the September figures, although this was balanced by La Tour de France arriving. Eyes are now focused on the all-important Toussaint break.

News from around the region...

Until recently, the intensely turquoise lakes at Guizengeard in south Charente were known only to locals and regular visitors. Previously a kaolinite (the white clay used to make porcelain) quarry which was active until as recently as 2013, rain water has since filled the sites creating the two lakes that are visible today. The Grand Bois de Marais is darker in colour and is now home to wildlife including beavers and otters while the more acidic Guêpiers lake has no aquatic life. This means that it has no suspended matter to absorb light resulting in the lake changing colour from turquoise to azure blue depending upon atmospheric conditions. To preserve their fragile ecosystems, swimming is banned but their colour makes them an appealing photo spot with the hashtag #lacdeGuizengeard becoming popular on Instagram. Only an hour from Bordeaux and Angoulême, the big question is whether this increase in visitors will boost the local economy without harming these protected natural sites.

Wild Animal Collection

Caring for injured wild animals has been made easier in the Charente-Maritime with the opening of a transport service which will take the animals to the Centre de Sauvegarde Départemental based at ten-hectare park Échappée Nature du Marais aux Oiseaux. Two years ago, the conservation centre in Dolus d’Oléron was completely renovated and now has an infirmary building and a quarantine section. A separate building is dedicated to the storage and preparation of food. The centre houses 15 rehabilitation aviaries and has 25 cages for small mammals plus 6 removable enclosures to cope with unusual situations. A total of 80 animals can be cared for at any time. If you find a wild animal in distress simply telephone the centre on 05 46 75 37 54 and they will inform you of the nearest network point (often a vet). A CharenteMaritime employee will then take charge of the animal and transport it to the centre. The service is open Monday to Friday all year round and you can leave a message if necessary.

Stage de troisième

A request from school that can strike fear into parents is the need to find a stage or work experience for pupils in 3ème (last year of collège). The Charente-Maritime département has launched a website that aims to tie up pupils with employers which you can find at Clearly this year is going to be challenging but this is certainly a step forward to help pupils find these elusive opportunities. And if you could welcome a stagiaire to experience work with you, you can submit your file online.

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PHOTOS: © C. BAVOUX - Le Marais aux Oiseaux

The Blue Lagoons









News from around the region...


Early Warning

Beynac Bypass

The argument between the Dordogne council and the French state over the Beynac bypass project continues to rumble on with the bill now being estimated at 41.5 million euros for the halted scheme. Over the summer the département sent out a supplement to the Vivre en Périgord magazine, once more putting their views to the residents. In this, the breakdown of costs was split 26.5 million euros spent so far plus another 15 million euros to tear down the structures and return the sites to their original state. It is clear that this costly affair is far from over.

Developed by a team in the Corrèze, a smartphone app called Phyto’alerte tells local residents when orchards are being sprayed with pesticides in the Limousin and Dordogne so they can avoid exposure. Only recently launched, and supported by the regional health environment plan, the app is already being used by many communes and apple growers. Using a network of thirty windsocks, the app can estimate the spread of the pesticides based on information easily input by famers. While not reducing the volume of pesticides being used, the aim is to give residents 48 hours’ notice so they can avoid outdoor activities in the area thus reducing their exposure. You can download the app from your usual app store for free.

Les Vendanges

This year is set to be a challenging one for winemakers across the region. As well as implementing the social distancing measures required through the busy harvest season, the dry weather has meant that grape picking needed to start much sooner with the first vineyards around Bergerac beginning as early as 15 August, two weeks earlier than usual. In addition, the drought conditions have resulted in a loss of up to 25 per cent of the volume. With the spectre of a no-trade-deal Brexit which would slow traffic to the UK (an important market for French wines) as well as adding new tariffs, many wine-growers are facing a worrying winter.

News from around the region...

School Uniform

Collège Jeanne d’Arc at La Roche-Chalais has become the first school in the département to impose a school uniform on all pupils. Director, Carole Faucheux, hopes that it will remove inequalities between students and has spent the last two years evaluating the change. To start with, only the top half of the outfit is mandated, pupils can still choose their trousers, skirts and shoes. Eight items of clothing have been distributed to the children: t-shirts, sweatshirts and polo-shirts, with the cost expected to be around 90€. Initial feedback has been mainly favourable from families with parents saying it saves time in the morning and hoping it will save money too.

Street Artists

The eleventh edition of this popular exhibition and fair is planning to open on 23-25 October. While the format will need to take conditions into consideration, 31 chosen professionals will be showcasing their unique and increasingly rare skills. Hosted by the Pôle Expérimental Métiers d’Art (PEMA) de Nontron et du Périgord-Limousin, they have been chosen for their creativity and innovation. Entry costs 2€. For details see

Fabrica Moves

After sixteen years at rue du Veau in Eymet, Fabrica is moving around the corner to 17, rue de l’Engin. Opening the new shop on 1 October, they will continue to supply popular paint ranges Farrow & Ball and Autentico as well as Neptune furniture, Everhot range cookers, a wide selection of fabrics and exciting new products. You can contact the team at


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LA ROCHE SUR-YON Les Sables d’Olonne




La Tranche sur Mer



NIORT aise

Sévre Niort


News from around the region...

Ménigoute Festival 2020

Energy Calls

For many of us, numerous calls from sales teams at all times of day have been the downside to the generous 1€ insulation scheme put in place by the government. Even Bloctel, the central register of residents who do not want cold calls, was unable to act. Alongside the general frustration caused, the number of energy renovation scams also increased and so a new law has been added to the Consumer Code. From now on, telephone canvassing for energy renovation work is prohibited unless it is referring to an existing contract or request. A decree is expected to detail the hours when permitted calls can take place. Furthermore, if you are contacted under an existing contract, the canvasser must remind you that you can join Bloctel for free. Fines for companies not meeting the new rules can go up to 75,000 euros for an individual or 375,000 euros for an organisation (see L242-16 of the Code de la consummation).

© Google Streetview

As LIVING went to press, the wildlife documentary festival due to run from 27 October-1 November was still hoping to be able to open its doors this year. The programme of more than 40 films has been finalised and this year’s guest of honour is the botanist Francis Hallé but with the majority of its funding coming from ticket sales, there are concerns that reducing capacity will mean it is not viable. The team are looking at alternatives such as spreading the screenings out across a wider area, shorter days or holding the screenings and judging online, so keep an eye on their website at www.menigoute-festival. org in case of last minute changes. The nature visits will go ahead but must be reserved in advance as places are limited.

Deux-sèvres & Vendée

Designs for the Dairy

When Poitou-Chèvre moved production from La Mothe-Saint-Héray (79) to Bougon in 2014, the old dairy dating back to 1897 was abandoned. It has since been bought by Gilbert Georges Von Hein, a Frenchman living in Belgium who plans to convert the sites into several projects. According to the maire, the new owner has plenty of ideas from a vintage car museum to an entertainment centre with a paintball area, although the plans themselves are still rather vague.

Would you like to run your own business? Successful mobile fish & chip business for sale

This is a turnkey opportunity that is highly profitable with very low overheads. Sold with a vehicle for towing and, of course, the mobile trailer.

Join us, Melanie and Jean-Christophe, at our delightful Hotel de Charme on the banks of the Vienne. Relax in our outdoor, heated swimming pool and our on-site restaurant open to guests (and friends) for dinner Mon-Sat (7-9pm, reservation recommended). Daily Menu du Jour featuring regional specialities. Mon-Thu: 3-course meal 22€, Fri & Sat: 25€ 1 hour from Poitiers, close to Le Vigeant race track. Event venue hosting up to 44 people - weddings / meetings and more. Welcome drink offered to all guests booking through LIVING!

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News from around the region...

Autumnal Discoveries

The Vendée has an incredible 2,700 hectares of protected natural sites which the département maintains and opens to the public. It also partners in managing an additional 350 hectares of its coastline, ensuring that the rich and varied fauna and flora are protected. Throughout the year, there are visits and workshops, many of which are free or low-cost, with ideas for all the family. Visit the website to flick through their guide – certain events can be reserved online. Join the team over the weekend of 10/11 October for Balades Automnales at the Cité des Oiseaux at Les Landes-Genusson. From 2-7pm on both days there will be varied events across the 56ha site around the changing of the season, including giant instruments and a tree-top trail.

Town Stamp

For the first time, La Roche-sur-Yon (85) has its own postage stamp. 600,000 lettre verte stamps are available which have been designed by David Lanaspa and feature the town’s road plan with the statue of Napoleon. Slightly confusingly, the stamp is in the town’s colour of red which is normally the colour of prioritaire stamps.

Mini Minks

European minks have been identified as a critically endangered species having seen their numbers rapidly decline towards the end of the 20th century. Today there are only 250 individuals in the wild in France, so the birth of three litters in captivity at Zoodyssée (79) was a cause for celebration. The nine females and five males are doing well and it is hoped that they will eventually be reintroduced into the wild to strengthen the French population. European mink are smaller than their American cousins and live for about five years. Currently they are found in six countries: France, Spain, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine and Romania.



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News from around the region...

Plant &Garden Fair

watch a pottery demonstration or participate in workshop about terrariums. Finally, enjoy traditional soupe potagère or head to one of the two food-trucks for refreshments. Entry is free and the doors open from 9am to 6pm.

A popular Limousin event for gardeners and nature lovers alike, the Fête des Plantes, du Jardin et de la Nature at SaintJunien is planning to open on Sunday 25 October. Held at the Salle des Congrès du Châtelard, there is plenty of space to safely browse over one hundred stalls. Support local nurseries who will be selling roses, fruit trees, shrubs, perennials, aromatics, palms, irises, climbers, heather, carnivorous species, succulents, cacti, bulbs and more! Alongside them, artisans will offer their wares, many made from local, natural materials. There are events all day long - take part in a randonnée faune-flora, join a conference about soil,

New trains


The high-speed trains that will run on the Paris-Orléans-LimogesToulouse (POLT) line from 2024 have been unveiled. Expected to reduce travel times, the trains will reach speeds of 200km/h which would mean transit times from Limoges to Paris of 2hrs 50mins with a stop at Orléans. If 4.7 billion euros can be found to upgrade the line, a further 10-20 minutes could be shaved off journey times. The goal is to offer travellers a high-end service so care is being taken over noise levels, air conditioning and lighting, along with USB sockets. Manufactured by CAF France, the production will create 250 jobs in their Occitanie factory.

Before leaving home, check opening details at lesamisdesfleursde, or contact 06 87 58 26 29 or for more information.

Budg t Cutting

Léonore Moncond’huy, the newly elected environmentalist Maire of Poitiers, used her first council meeting to reduce her pay by nearly a third. She will receive 1,300 euros less per month than outgoing mayor Alain Claeys. The gap in compensation between the lowest- and highest-paid individuals was, she felt, too great and so she and her team reduced the ratio from 1 to 10 to 1 to 5. In all, the move has reduced the city’s compensation budget by over ten per cent. The mayors of Besançon and Strasbourg, also both Greens, have made similar cuts.



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16 | living places to visit

the Cent uries

Vers-Pont-du-Gard The spectacular Roman Pont du Gard aqueduct has spanned the Gardon valley for 2,000 years

Getting around this great country of ours is something we now take for granted, but in the past things were much less straightforward. Words: Roger Moss

living living places LANDMARKS to visit | 17


he diverse landscapes of France include some formidable natural barriers, from fast-flowing rivers to broad valleys and deep, craggy gorges. Drive through areas like the Ardèche or Cévènnes and you’ll see just how slow progress becomes when road networks twist and turn repeatedly to cope with features like these. It’s little wonder

that they’re sparsely-populated, remote communities owing their survival to colporteurs, or peddlers, who for centuries travelled far from their homes to trade local produce, following ancient mule paths which used simply constructed bridges to cross rivers and streams. Elsewhere great cities like Bordeaux, Limoges, Lyon or Toulouse all developed beside major rivers, at locations where it was possible to ford

them during dry periods. Once the problem of getting across when the rivers were in flood was overcome, commerce flourished and prosperity followed. For that we have to thank the early bridge builders whose efforts were often financed by a toll levied on goods crossing. Some timber constructions survived for many years, until they were either destroyed by storms, or could simply no longer cope

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18 | living places to visit

Millau Since 2004 the world’s tallest bridge has spanned the valley of the Tarn

Paris The Pont des Arts (1984) replicates the 1804 original damaged in WWII and by a barge collision. Beyond it is the Pont Neuf (1607)

Tonnay-Charente One of Europe’s earliest suspension bridges (1842) remains open to pedestrians and cyclists

with the increasing traffic they generated. Eventually their replacements employed more durable stone or brickwork, as favoured by our friends the Romans for their network of strategic roads between important settlements. While the Roman bridge spanning the Charente to reach Saintes is long gone, in the nearby Vallon des Arcs several arches survive from a once-imposing Roman aqueduct which supplied drinking water to the city, showing that not all early bridges and viaducts were built to carry people and merchandise. Perhaps the pinnacle of Roman engineering was the immense aqueduct which they constructed further south near Nimes. The 360m-long, 49m-high Pont du Gard employed three levels of arches to span the river Gardon, using vast quantities of hand-cut yellow limestone quarried nearby and transported downstream on barges. Despite the site being prone to frequent flooding, the 2,000 year-old structure has stood firm and is today France’s second most-visited provincial monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When the Roman legions departed generations of Gallic engineers and masons continued the task of bridge building, and many of their more elegant creations have also become popular visitor attractions. A particularly graceful example is the seven-arch stone and red brick Pont Neuf (1659) spanning the Garonne in Toulouse, which could well have inspired Bordeaux’s magnificent Pont de Pierre. Completed in 1822, it incorporates a surprising feature: the 17 arches are hollow, with brick vaults to support the roadway above. It remained the city’s only river crossing for road traffic until the Pont Saint-Jean opened in 1965 beside the passerelle Eiffel, a symphony of riveted ironwork inaugurated in 1860 to connect the city to the expanding rail network. It

living LANDMARKS | 19 Ruynes-en-Margerid Gustave Eiffel’s audacious Viaduc de Garabit (1884) carries trains across the Truyère

Périgueux The triple-arched Pont des Barris (1862) spans the Dordogne below the Cathèdrale Saint-Front

employed techniques pioneered in the construction of the Tour Eiffel in Paris by Gustave Eiffel (who dived into the Garonne during one of his site visits to save a fallen worker from drowning). The great engineer’s most audacious creation, however, is undoubtedly the Viaduc de Garabit, constructed to carry Clermont-Ferrand-Béziers rail traffic across the Truyère river in the Massif Central. Soaring to a height of 124m and with a central arch spanning 165m, the skeletal ironwork structure was the world’s highest bridge when it was inaugurated in 1885, comfortably surpassing the dimensions of its near-twin, the Ponte de Dona Maria Pia, which Eiffel had built a few years

earlier in Porto (Portugal). The boom in rail construction created a succession of technical challenges for French engineers. In many situations the most cost-effective solution was the suspension bridge, and by the early 19th century France had become a world leader in their design and construction. Everything changed, however, on 16 April 1850 when the Basse-Chaine suspension bridge in Angers collapsed into the Maine river, killing 226 of the 478 troops who were marching across during a storm. The catastrophic failure was traced to corrosion in the supporting cables secured at either end by splaying their strands and embedding them in lime mortar anchorages. The

very technique intended to protect them had actually concealed corrosion caused by moisture seeping in. The sudden realisation that similar structures across France were potentially unsafe sparked a wave of closures and a 20-year moratorium on further suspension bridge construction while a solution was sought. Busier crossings (in Paris, for example) were replaced by conventional stonework, but eventually a proven anchorage system used in Britain and North America permitted the reopening of many suspension bridges still with us today. Nouvelle-Aquitaine possesses one of Europe’s earliest examples, which was inaugurated in 1842 at

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20 | living LANDMARKS Sorsac The sensational Viaduc des Rocheurs Noirs (1911) spanning the Luzège ravine is the subject of a major restoration project

L’Isle Jourdain The elegant viaduct (1884) spanning the Vienne ceased carrying rail services in 1969

Tonnay-Charente. Now closed to motor vehicles, it’s freely accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, and the panoramic views from the deck include the distant outline of the Pont Transbordeur de Rochefort. Once Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes and Rouen also had transporter bridges but now Rochefort is the proud possessor of France’s sole survivor. Inaugurated in 1900, the vast skeletal creation (which permitted tall ships to pass to the city’s naval arsenal unhindered) recently reopened to pedestrians and cyclists after an epic four-year restoration project. The much-loved giant has Monument Historique status (1976), unlike its 1960s

Montmorillon The 15th century Gothic Vieux Pont across the Gartempe was once fortified

lifting bridge successor which was itself replaced in 1991 by the Viaduc de Martrou, whose concrete construction evokes its lengthier near-neighbours linking the Île de Ré and Île d’Oléron to the mainland. French engineers continue to innovate, creating audacious ‘cable-stayed’ structures (their decks supported by multiple steel cables fanning out from concrete towers) like the Pont de Normandie (1995) and the sensational Viaduc de Millau, which carries the A75 autoroute across the valley of the Tarn and attracts around 500,000 visitors annually. France isn’t about to forget her proud past, however, for among the applicants chosen to receive funding from the 2020 Loto du Patrimoine is the long abandoned historic Viaduc du Rocheurs Noirs suspension bridge in Corrèze.

Bordeaux The Pont de Pierre (1822) was the city’s sole river crossing until 1965

living promotion | 21

SSAFA TO SUPPORT MILITARY COMMUNITY FOLLOWING BRITAIN’S EXIT FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is supporting the British military community in France following Britain’s exit from the European Union. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has been awarded a grant of £295,000 from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to assist British nationals in countries across Europe, including France, as Britain exits the European Union. The funding is designed to allow SSAFA to provide practical support to UK veterans who may struggle to complete the necessary paperwork to maintain their right to be a resident in

the country where they live now, such as France. The funding will provide support until March 2021 to the Armed Forces community in France, Germany and Cyprus. The Government fund aims to help those that may struggle to complete the relevant paperwork such as some pensioners, disabled people, those living in remote areas or those who need language translation. SSAFA’s support is in addition to guidance provided by British Embassies and High Commissions. To receive support or to find out more, email

22 | living EVENTS The start of the Vendée Globe, off Les Sables d’Olonne on 6 November 2016

Going Global The Atlantic Coast port of Les Sables d’Olonne has become world famous, thanks to the Vendée Globe, a roundthe-world sailing adventure which eclipses all others

tricolore will be one Franco-German skipper and a Franco-Australian. Exactly who will be at the helm when the first vessel returns to cross the finishing line after an epic voyage is anyone’s guess. Past events have underlined the fact that despite our best efforts at monitoring global weather conditions, at sea anything can happen, and when it does competitors have to deal with the results with no outside help. That takes not only steely determination and resourcefulness but also solid, down-to-earth practical skills. Then there’s the technology, which has advanced a great deal since the first mono-hull vessels designed around ‘foils’ – wing-like extensions which generate

lift, allowing the hulls to virtually fly above the waves – made their Vendée Globe debut in 2016. These advanced 60-foot vessels are administered by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) and this year’s examples are capable of averaging around 30 knots, hour after hour. Doing so comes at a cost, however, since the hulls now have to incorporate extra strengthening elements to cope with the greatly increased physical loads imposed on them in heavy sea conditions. The resulting repeated ‘take-offs’ and ‘landings’ can create extremely violent movements, and it’s not only the 9-tonne boats which must handle the stresses and strains of this kind of progress but the mariners

LEFT: © Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/Vendée Globe; MIDDLE: Jean-Marie Liot /DPPI/Vendée Globe


an four years really have passed since the previous edition of the Vendée Globe? Indeed they have, as our feature on the event in the Oct/Nov 2016 issue of LIVING will confirm. While the world feels like a very different place now, the spirit of escapism and heroic determination will be as strong as ever among this year’s competitors when they set sail from Les Sables d’Olonne on 8 November. Contesting the 9th Edition will be 34 solo mariners from eight nations – France will have 22 entrants, Britain four, while Italy, Germany, Japan, Spain and Switzerland will have one each. Contributing a final flourish of the

living EVENTS | 23 Alex Thomson (GBR) aboard Hugo Boss, off Kerguelen Islands

Arrival home of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper of Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the 2016 Vendée Globe

Romain Attanasion (FRA), skipper of Family Mary

TOP: © Marine Nationale/Nefertiti/Vendée Globe; BOTTOM: © Jean Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendée Globe

themselves, both physically and mentally. Despite which, the reference time established back then by Armel Le Cléac’h (74 days, 3hrs, 35’ 46”) is likely to be comprehensively beaten by this year’s leaders. Fuelling that expectation are the results of the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d’Olonne, a preparatory race which earlier this year replaced two transatlantic events cancelled in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The triangular course around the North Atlantic and penetrating the Arctic Circle was designed to test both the sailors and the boats in demanding and varied sailing conditions. Their days and nights at sea provided a wealth of valuable data, and was not without incident – three of

the twenty competitors being forced to retire with structural damage caused by the harsh conditions they encountered. The new vessels proved themselves, however, taking the top three places on the podium and finishing over 6hrs ahead of the previous generation boats. Tackling the voyage was clearly a tough challenge but is as nothing compared to what those competing will face in the far longer Vendée Globe. During their 40,000km or so circumnavigation of the planet the mariners will encounter all the extremes of climate that four seasons can throw at them. And they’ll be sailing alone throughout the whole epic adventure. Follow them:

Be there for the start on 8 Nov – or a longer stay...

As we went to press full details had yet to be announced of what visitors to the Vendée Globe Village can expect this year in response to the continuing Covid-19 situation. The 6,000m2 site at Port Olona is scheduled to open 10am – 8pm from 17 Oct – 8 Nov. Free admission. From mid-January a giant screen will be showing the arrival of the competitors, for crowds to to greet them in style. Details:

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24 | living travel

Ski Safe Is ‘social distancing’ getting you down? A winter getaway to higher altitudes can actually make it a lot more fun, so we consider where and when to go. words & photos: roger moss

Saint-François Longchamp

Awe-inspiring views from l’Aiguille du Midi, above Chamonix

living travel | 25

Mid-morning break in Combloux

Saint-François Longchamp is family-friendly


he coronavirus pandemic has impacted on daily life in ways we could never have imagined. If you’re a skier or snowboarder you might be wondering whether you’ll be able to indulge your passion at all this winter, after government regulations forced a premature closure of the 2019/20 season. And if you’ve never skied then you’re probably looking at options for a winter break which won’t involve taking a flight to a potentially crowded beach resort. Either way, the good news is that the mountains of France are spectacular, and their reassuringly wide, open spaces are perfect for much-needed family fun. In the past sifting through details of around 250 French ski resorts was no easy task, but the need for social distancing has actually brought things into much sharper focus. With party time no longer the carefree experience

it once was, it’s worth looking at calmer alternatives to the big-name resorts which attract skiers from far and wide. Naturally, destinations of all sizes are strengthening their efforts to ensure skier safety both on and off the mountain, but when it comes to social distancing then smaller resorts have some natural advantages. Take, for example, their ski-lift systems. For many years the weather protection afforded by modern high-speed gondola lifts found in larger resorts has made them popular with skiers, while walkers, snowshoers and anyone heading for a mountain restaurant can also ride them. The pandemic, though, made the idea of sharing confined spaces less attractive – so the same goes for cable-cars. The lift companies are well aware of this, of course, and are implementing rigorous controls (see our factfile) to minimise risks of transmission. Smaller family

Praz-de-Lys Sommand

Luz Ardiden

Ski-Lift Safety Chamonix-Mont-Blanc recently announced an experimental raft of measures to help ski-lift users combat Covid-19 transmission, including:

f Mandatory wearing of face masks

(with masks available for anyone arriving without their own). f Mandatory distancing in queues for lift-pass purchases. f A recommendation to pay with bank cards, rather than cash. f Thermal cameras for body temperature screening. f Hydro-alcoholic gel (or soap & water) dispensers. f Hands-free card readers for lift access. f Frequent disinfection and airing of lift interiors. f Mandatory distancing in queues for lift access. f Limited numbers of passengers permitted in each lift.

26 | living travel Vars has bigmountain skiing

High-altitude Piau Engaly Lunchtime in Crest Voland

resorts, on the other hand, have more modest financial resources, so have tended to remain loyal to chair-lifts. Ride one and you’ll have plenty of fresh air (but will need to wear a face mask while actually on the lift). That said, it’s likely that even high-speed sixand eight-seaters will be operating at reduced capacity, since spacing skiers out for social distancing in lift queues is likely to slow the loading process. Once on the mountain, of course, you’ll be free to head off and find your own space. A surprising number of skiers stick to the central areas, so you’ll find runs on the outer reaches of the piste map relatively calm. The other attraction is that you’ll be much closer to nature, so these areas often have the most dazzling scenery and, if you’re lucky, more modest, remote-feeling mountain restaurants. If the weather is anything like fine then dine or enjoy a warming vin chaud while soaking up the views from your own space outside on the terrace. In fact, down in the ski villages it looks as though the self-service format frequently found on the mountain will now be joined by new takeaway options from long established traditional restaurants, a move designed to meet the likely increase in the number of visitors who feel safer outdoors.

Ski Resort Shortlist In the French Alps: Albiez (74), Combloux (74), Corrençon-en-Vercors (38), Crest-Voland Cohennoz (73), La Toussuire (73), Pra Loup (04), Praz-de-Lys Sommand (74), Saint-François Longchamp (73 ), Vars (05). In the French Pyrenees: Luz Ardiden (65), Peyragudes (65), Piau Engaly (65).

Tourist offices, boutiques and businesses will, of course, have now-familiar safety measures in place, which brings us to the choice of accommodation. As you’ll see in budget travel suppliers’ brochures, there are still high-rise developments out there, but with so many people sharing access lifts they’re probably best avoided unless you’re prepared to slog up and down many flights of stairs. Potentially safer alternatives include family owned hotels and apartments (tourist offices will

know them and can usually book them for you) plus more recent developments with fewer, more spacious self-catering apartments spread across several chalet-style buildings. So, when can you travel? Peak season is not only pricey but also makes social distancing more challenging so avoid, if possible, the Christmas/ New Year period and school vacances d’hiver (6 February–1 March in 2021). If you can be flexible then keep an eye on snowfalls, ready to head off to take advantage of perfect conditions. December can sometimes get the season off to an early start – if so you’ll have even fewer skiers for company than during January, when things are relatively calm. Yes, midwinter days are shorter but snow quality holds up well when temperatures remain low, while late-season skiing brings the opposite kind of trade-off. Whenever you decide to go, have fun and keep safe. Lots more info:

Safe To Hire - or Time To Buy? Outdoor equipment hire is big business in France, and a major contributor to sports shops’ turnover, both in winter and in summer. Not surprisingly, standards of customer service, equipment maintenance and staff training are today tightly regulated, particularly since many longestablished independent businesses became affiliated to big-name suppliers like Sport 2000, Skimium and SkiSet, who offer big discounts for advance online reservations. The resulting highly competitive marketplace relies on customer confidence, not least effective anti-COVID-19 measures, including hydroalcoholic gel dispensers,

restrictions on customer numbers permitted in outlets, compulsory face masks and quarantined equipment areas. It’s already looking reassuring and we expect further measures to be announced, but if you feel more comfortable with a hands-on approach to personal protection then owning and using your own equipment could justify the outlay. Treat it well and after three ski breaks you should have clawed back the money you would have spent on hire charges, your only outlay being for minor servicing like edge sharpening (which you can do yourself) and re-waxing.

The kids took part in Ancient Greece’s first | living Olympic Games, in 776BC



The gallo-roman amphitheatre in Saintes took our breath away

erewrerew erwerwerew

The Château Fort in Saint-Jean-d’Angle is set up to immerse visitors in the Middle Ages

Even the bread got dressed up with an ankh during our trip to Ancient Egypt

ABOVE: Ancient Egyptian queen Hatchepsout and her brothers THIS PHOTO: A house renovation is a good backdrop for cave paintings

living family fun | 29

As confinement eased over the summer, Jessica Knipe followed up her travels around the world from her sofa with a socially-distanced step back in time…


hile we were all stuck at home during the lockdown the only way to travel was in our minds – and boy, did we explore every corner! In April my family and I went on a round-the-world trip (which you might have read about in the summer 2020 edition of LIVING Magazine) and visited Spain and Japan, Morocco and the US without ever leaving the house. When we were eventually allowed back out again we still wanted to stay as socially distanced as we could, and with a summer calendar full of cancelled events we started longing for a different period in our lives. Oh, to be transported back to previous summertimes, when the living was easy and the world was our oyster. One afternoon, as we watched Back to the Future, we realised that just as we had made our own fun during lockdown, so could we explore the world through a different lens. We could even build our own DeLorean from cardboard, and it became less

travel a question of ‘where’, and more of ‘when’ did we want to go that day. Of course, we didn’t HAVE to build a time machine to embark on the journey, but I recommend you try; it’s a lot of fun. Summer flew by, and time-travel proved to be not only a fun activity for the whole family, but also a good way of fitting in a little history revision before school began in September. And let’s face it: at the same time it gave me a little history revision. But you already knew the three ages of the Mesozoic, right? Sure you did. Anyway, that’s where we started, setting the DeLorean’s time circuits back to the dawn of time. As it turns out, the Aquitaine Basin is the second-largest Mesozoic sedimentary basin in France, after the Paris Basin. In fact, as you will have seen in previous issues of LIVING, Angeac-Charente, between Cognac and Angoulême, is one of the world’s largest paleontological sites. Mammoth tusks, crocodiles and pterosaurs have all been found, but the site made

One afternoon, as we “ watched Back to the Future,

we realised that we could explore the world through a different lens. We could even build our own DeLorean from cardboard

A caveman takes on a fierce sabretooth tiger

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A quick trip to the pillory put some of us off the Middle Ages

32 | living travel

Strips of old paper shopping bags became papyrus

headlines last year when it uncovered two gigantic sauropod femur bones dating back almost 140 million years. As we were still socially distancing, we chose not to visit the site (which opens in the summer months) but instead we went dinosaur hunting in our own garden. Armed with dinosaur eggs that I’d made from coffee grounds and salt dough, I took the kids to see some animals which lived alongside the dinosaurs and survived the crash of the asteroid: descendants of the archaeopteryx, which you’ll also know as… birds! Time travel can be as immersive as you wish; after the dino hunt, we watched the fantastic BBC-produced Walking with Dinosaurs while gnawing on a piece of BBQ-ed chicken leg, pretending it was “grilled velociraptor”… Our next trip landed us in 18,000 BC, where we discovered parietal art at the Grottes de Lascaux before digging for dirt to make our own cave paint. We also made Stone Age axes, but out of papier mâché, to avoid any historically-accurate accidents. Lascaux obviously needs no introduction, but only the most passionate pre-historians seem to know about another Neanderthal treasure hiding in our region: la Chapelle-aux-Saints, in the Corrèze. It’s where, in 1908, three archeologist brothers discovered the first ever complete Neanderthal skeleton – a 60-year-old man who existed over 50,000 years ago, just before homo sapiens. The lives and times of our ancestors can also be explored at the brilliant Paléosite, in Saint-Césaire. From

Learning to write our names in hieroglyphics

Historical artefacts are “ constantly being uncovered in our region, particularly where Ancient Roman sites are concerned

hunting sabre-tooth tigers to lighting a fire with a piece of flint, each activity plunges you right back into the everyday life of the Neanderthals of the Charente-Maritime, just a few steps from the archaeological site where the remains of the Neanderthal woman ‘Pierette’ were discovered. Historical artifacts are constantly being uncovered in our region, particularly where Ancient Roman sites are concerned. An entire Roman villa has been revived in Chassenon, and named Cassinomagus (see our April issue) in honour of its past. Saintes was also a huge Roman Empire outpost, at one end of a major Roman transport artery. Stretching across what was then Gaule, the Via Agrippa connected Mediolanum Santonum (which became Saintes) with Lugdunum (Lyon). Today Saintes is a great place to discover Gallo-Roman history, starting with the arena where gladiator and animal fights were held, and where boats were displayed, the Romans flooding the entire stage by diverting the nearby Charente river. It doesn’t take much imagination to take a leap through time when you’re

sitting in the arena, or travelling down a Roman road as straight as an arrow to see the aqueduct that brought fresh water to the town. In fact, just a quick scan of the Roman legacy in our region and further afield, easily demonstrates that most famous Monty Python quote: “Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Further along the Via Agrippa, in Saint-Cybardeaux, a Roman amphitheatre sits carved into a hillside. Its scale makes social distancing a doddle, but the Roman theme is also easy to recreate back home, where you can put on your best toga (known scientifically in our house as ‘a sheet’) to bake the spelt bread given to us by Cato The Elder, and make a glass of posca, the vinegar, honey and spice concoction which Roman soldiers drank to prevent scurvy by providing vitamin C. Its acidity killed harmful bacteria and the flavouring helped overcome the bad taste of local water supplies – although it might seem sacrilegious to be drinking vinegar in a region awash with delicious wines. If you thought it was easy to time travel to Ancient Rome in NouvelleAquitaine, wait until you hear about the Middle Ages. The region is absolutely packed with forts, castles, strongholds and other military outposts, which all bear witness to the region’s importance during this period in history. The Château Fort de Saint-Jean-d’Angle (17) is a great place to start, with puzzles for children and adults to guide

Prehistoric man discovering fire (in Crocs!)

living family fun | 31

Salt dough + ground coffee = dinosaur eggs

you through castle life in the Middle Ages, from grain stores which doubled as a prison to the farmyard and the castle mound. The rest of the region is peppered with medieval architecture, too: the Château de Roquetaillade (33), renovated by Viollet-le-Duc; the Forteresse du Prince Noir, in Blanquefort (33), one of the most important medieval battlefields; the donjon in Pons (17) and the Château de Barbezieux (16); Commarque, Castelnaud, Beynac and Biron (24) the list goes on and on. Time travel in Nouvelle-Aquitaine could keep you busy every day of the year. There are important sites to help you relive anything from the two world wars (including the haunting village of Oradour-sur-Glane (87)), the Renaissance (from the Palais des Ducs in Poitiers (86) to the birthplace of François 1er in Cognac (16)). But if you want to stay at home, a quick detour to the 1980s will also give you plenty of opportunities to become that “in my day…” person you love to hate: did you know that we didn’t have mobile phones back then? did you know that mobile music only came on cassette tapes? And who could resist a session of Calisthenics with Jane Fonda? The opportunities are endless. Each period has its fun for home-based activities, but we are incredibly lucky to live in a region that’s a treasure trove of historical sites and artifacts. And who knows, on your travels you too might come across something that has been hidden for thousands of years…

No trip to the 80s would be complete without Jane Fonda

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32 | practical living

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

Inheritance plans


deceased was the owner, and all the property given, whether in France or outside France, whether movable or immovable. With the end of the It follows that the application transition phase of of the above article potentially Brexit drawing near, creates a risk of double taxation, many British citizens are looking the same property being taxed to get their administrative for the first time in the country affairs in order. To be protected of domicile of the deceased/ by the Withdrawal Agreement, donor (France) and a second many are making the decision time by the country in which the to become French residents and property is situated. To avoid I am frequently asked questions this, French internal law provides about inheritance tax. a tax credit mechanism for Inheritance tax is governed foreign tax (Article 784A of the by the French tax code “code CGI). However, this attribution general des impots” (CGI) is not perfect. It is limited to and particularly by article the donation/estate duties paid 750 ter. This article defines abroad on foreign property. the situations in which an The liability for tax paid abroad inheritance or a gift is taxable is also limited to the amount of in France. Two paragraphs are tax payable in France on account relevant to determine your tax of the same property. liabilities and when French tax is due. 2) The deceased or donor is domiciled outside France 1) The deceased or donor is and the beneficiary is domiciled in France domiciled in France Inheritance/gift taxes apply Provided that the beneficiary to all property (inherited or of the inheritance or gift is gifted) situated in France and/ domiciled in France and has or abroad (CGI, article 750 ter, been domiciled for at least 1°). In this case, the scope of 6 years in the last 10 years, French inheritance/donation tax inheritance/gift taxes will apply is therefore absolute. It includes to the whole of the assets all the property of which the received, whether located in What changes will Brexit make to my inheritance plans?

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

France and/or abroad (CGI, Article 750 ter, 3°). Article 784A of the CGI will also apply to avoid double taxation. However, the interpretation of the Double tax treaty between France and the UK dated the 21 June 1963 only provides the right for France to tax the estate of a deceased person not the beneficiary. If you die in France and have assets in the UK, it is likely that the assets will be taxed in France, subject to the interpretation of the Double tax treaty. On the other hand, if you inherit assets from the UK, you should be exempted of tax, pursuant the interpretation of the Double tax treaty.

The fact that you may not have to pay tax, as a beneficiary of the estate, does not prevent you from declaring the assets inherited. You should still lodge a French inheritance tax form (2705-sd) to the Tax office for non-residents in Noisy-le-Grand. Inheritance tax is different from inheritance law and the EU succession regulation only applies to civil law. Inheritance tax remains governed by the internal legislation of each country, subject to a double tax treaty that may mitigate the taxation of assets in both countries. Therefore, Brexit will not change these provisions for UK citizens resident in France.

Christophe Dutertre is a bilingual French- qualified Notaire with over 22 years’ experience, 15 of which were working in law offices in Monaco and with the banking industry in Luxembourg. FranceTaxLaw specialises in French and European notarial law and advises clients on all aspects of civil or tax law.; tel: +44 (0)20 8115 7914; email:

practical living | 33

QROPS & pension planning


I have been reading a lot online about QROPS and pension planning opportunities for expatriates. Can you help?


A Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) is an HMRC approved pension plan which can be used for transferring your pension out of the UK. Depending on individual circumstances, the benefits of a transfer might include the ability to withdraw a larger initial lump sum, flexibility with the amount and timing of withdrawals, choice

of currency, control over investment management and being able to nominate beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes. Another pension option available to expatriates is an International Self Invested Pension Plan (International SIPP), which is a UK based scheme, denominated in Sterling, offering many of the same benefit as a QROPS. Pension planning is complex, so reliable advice is of course essential. Not everyone would benefit from a QROPS or an International SIPP and the first step in any pension review is to assess

your personal circumstances to determine whether a transfer is appropriate. This exercise should only ever be undertaken by a regulated

company with the relevant technical experience and qualifications. It is important that all the costs are fully explained during the consultation process and that your adviser is fully transparent in explaining all charges and ongoing costs. On a final note, related to Brexit, pension transfer opportunities may well be reduced or removed following the end of the transition period, with the possible introduction of a transfer tax, but no further detail is available at the time of writing.

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

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Citizens’ rights after


Kathryn Dobson, member of British in Europe’s steering team and co-founder of France Rights, examines the latest developments for British nationals living in France Britain has left the EU, we’re three months from the end of transition and still so much is unknown...

Michel Barnier has confirmed the commitment to citizens’ rights

Residency REgistration The latest version of the online registration procedure was promised to launch in July but, at the last second, was delayed until October. As LIVING goes to press this time, we have once more been assured that the decree will be published in the second half of September while the portal itself will open on 1 October. The decree will outline the implementation of our

INFORMATION YOU CAN TRUST The French Government site is at The UK Government continues to update its ‘Living in’ guide ( Several groups on social media offer help, but do check their legal expertise. Immigration law is a complex subject and advice should only be given by lawyers who carry professional liability insurance. Therefore, we recommend you get your information from expert sources such as British in Europe groups before referring to a lawyer if you need individual advice. This is not the time to rely on enthusiastic amateurs. For quality, independent information focused on France, see France Rights, the French arm of British in Europe, at or follow the Facebook page at FranceRights where the latest news will be shared.

rights, both the process and conditions, as agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).However, with the shenanigans happening in the UK, we wouldn’t be surprised if that timetable alters. We also expect to hear that the deadline for applying for a carte de séjour is being reviewed to allow enough time to process the thousands of applications. Little has changed since our last edition, so dig out a copy or read it on our website for details of what is known about the registration process. Once the decree is issued then we will be analysing it on There we will summarise the main points and collate the key questions for discussion with the British Embassy and the French Ministry of the Interior. Let’s hope the COVID situation does not cause further delay.

THE UK INTERNAL MARKET BILL As LIVING went to press, the announcement of the Internal Market Bill (IMB) with its intention to break the terms of the WA, an international treaty, was sending shock waves through the UK and the EU. The agreement for the

Northern Ireland Protocol was one of three key provisions in the WA, the other two being Citizens’ Rights and the Financial Settlement. Clearly, breaking the agreement in one chapter gives rise to concerns about the others. That said, it is important to remember that the WA itself effectively ringfences the Citizens’ Rights chapter (see Article 178(2)a). Even if the WA is suspended by one side, the Citizens’ Rights agreements stand. Michel Barnier was quick to confirm that the Citizens’ Rights chapter would remain intact and hopefully, by the time you are reading this, the UK will have issued similar reassurances.

THE IMMIGRATION BILL While the IMB was causing furore in the House of Commons, the House of Lords was debating the proposed Immigration Bill. For British citizens living in Europe with a non-British spouse, partner or family member this bill will have a significant impact on your ability to return as a family to live in the UK after 29 March 2022. As highlighted in the last edition, British in Europe was successful in raising the issue with a proposed amendment which failed to get support from the

living brexit | 35

LEGAL CHALLENGES British in Europe (BiE) has applied to intervene in two actions being brought in the General Court of the EU about the EU Council decision of 30 January 2020 to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement. BiE’s strategy has always been that the best way of preserving our rights was by lobbying but that we should not hesitate to litigate to try to preserve rights which lobbying fails to secure. The most critical right denied to us by the Withdrawal Agreement is EU-wide free movement. Shindler v Council was filed with the General Court on 30 March 2020 and seeks either the annulment of the Council decision concluding the Withdrawal Agreement in its entirety (which BiE does not support as the result would be Brexit with no deal on citizens’ rights) or alternatively its annulment only insofar as it distinguishes automatically and generally, without any test of proportionality, between EU citizens and UK citizens from 1 February 2020. JU v Council was filed with the General Court on 23 April 2020 and seeks the annulment of the EU Council decision concluding the Withdrawal Agreement only insofar as it deprives UK nationals of their status as EU citizens and the rights that they have as EU citizens without their consent and without due process. The application argues that EU citizenship is the fundamental status of EU citizens and

that it is thus personal in nature. Once it vests or is acquired, the applicants argue that it does not automatically fall away following Brexit and that no person can be deprived of their EU citizenship and their rights as EU citizens arbitrarily. These applications have been brought by a number of individuals, some of whom do not live in the EU. BiE considers it vital that the Court should hear the distinct voice of those UK citizens living in the EU who acquired, exercised and relied on their EU citizenship rights to make lives, careers and families in an EU country before Brexit. BiE has thus taken the view that we, as the coalition that has been accepted by both the EU and the UK as representing UK nationals in the EU, should be in the room when these arguments are considered. Applications by individuals or groups in the General Court against general measures, i.e. measures that are not addressed to specific individuals or organisations, such as the EU Council decision in this case, must satisfy the rules on “standing” – i.e. who is allowed to bring an application for the annulment of the EU act. As per normal procedure, we will need to wait until the Court decides whether the applicants have “standing” before our applications to intervene are considered. BiE will keep supporters informed of what is happening as the cases progress.

Nicholas Forwood, QC, will lead the BiE legal challenges

In the meantime, BiE will continue to keep an eye out for suitable cases to bring or support before the courts of the EU, whether by a direct action like these in the General Court if possible, or by actions in the courts of Member States which are then referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. In making these applications BiE is represented pro-bono by the Brussels office of the well-known international law firm White & Case LLP and the team is led by Nicholas Forwood QC, himself formerly a judge of the General Court. BiE has been very fortunate to secure this exceptionally high level of representation and is grateful to the team for agreeing to take on the challenge.

Help British in Europe reach their fighting fund target of 100,000€ so they can continue to represent you. Donate today at government at the Commons stage. BiE spent the summer working with a cross-party group of MPs and Lords to get amendments tabled and adopted in the Lords. The amendments were raised in the Lords by Lord Flight, and Lord Rosser highlighted the discrimination

against British citizens. As Lady Hamwee said: “I simply ask the Minister what she would advise a couple, one British and one an EU national, who both have elderly parents. She is suggesting that they should pick between them for future care by the end of 2022.

Is this really a humane approach?” Sadly, the amendments were withdrawn by their sponsor when it became clear they would not pass. This means that the amendments can be resubmitted later, so we live to fight another day.

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36 | living family

Avec les enfants -----





British among us, we have Halloween and Bonfire Night – two sparks of entertainment that seem to dominate our children’s interest. Typically by this time of the year, we also have blackberries in the freezer, sloes marinating in bottles and earthy orange pumpkins in the last of the potager’s green carpet, waiting for a sharp knife and a tea-light or two. It’s a season of both promise and regrets. It is strange how Halloween has grown in popularity over the years. I remember 16 years ago when nobody in the village we were in knew anything about it, and through several barren years that followed our children would knock on our door to get goodies, repeating the adventure at ten-minute intervals until a bag had reached sufficient capacity. Even where we live now, five years have made a huge difference, and the evening is no longer the quaint adventure it once was. A mother might pop by with two small children as the twilight zone approaches, but when it is inky black the older children appear, roaming the streets in hooded gangs. This growing



Autumn is ON ITs way. Bonfire smoke is the new perfume and shorts are going out of fashion. Summer seems long gone, nights are early to darken, and days revolve around sweeping leaves into piles, wondering whether an umbrella should accompany us in the car, and glancing at a list of Christmas presents that never seem to get bought. And for the



s n a g a P & s n i k p Pum


popularity is echoed in the shops, who have now cottoned-onto the bonus earnings afforded by the huge bags of mixed sweets that dominate proceedings. However, there are some who say the popularity of Halloween is waning in France, particularly in the cities - maybe la campagne is still catching up! Our children, of course, appreciate Halloween a lot, since it affords them the opportunity to indulge from the cupboard of Halloween props we brought back here with us from Florida. In the USA, Halloween is a big seller, and at the height of its season the stores are awash with costumes, teeth, fangs, ‘candy’ and other scary paraphernalia. This year it will just be the two youngest with us (14 and 16) and they will be using costumes that once fitted and thrilled their older siblings, who have now flown the nest. For us it simply means there will be fewer hands setting out the plastic fantastic accoutrements of terror by the gate and on every windowsill.

living family | 45

the grave of a lost family member, offering up a pot of chrysanthemums or lavender. This year promises to be a bit different for us – not only is our son away at university for the first time, but his absence means Roddy will have his Halloween costume back for the first time in years, and in so doing he has something planned for the older children who scrummaged like a pack of hyenas over the sweet-bin at our gate last year. If you like being terrified, come by us this Halloween after dark – I rather believe the prank is going to be on the visitor, and not the host. 1




Of course, though, as I bring the Halloween boxes into the light each year to sort through them, I stop to think about the origins of the night. It’s closely intertwined with the holiday of les Toussaints, and the custom of a candle in a hollowed pumpkin owes much to a pagan festival from Ireland, where Jack O’Lantern wanders the lands with a hollowed-out turnip, an ember from the devil burning inside to light the eternal darkness. It’s a strange mixture of times, when on one evening children might scramble in a greedy frenzy for sweets, and the next might find them standing demurely next to

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






8 8

Longer evenings give you the perfect time to settle down and tackle our unique crossword set by Mike Morris. Once you have all the clues, the theme will be revealed, but if you need a little help along the way, you can peek at the answers on page 64.

Clues Across 1. In the South West our group take sandwiches with no filling to former wife. (6) 4. In the literary world, 1A makes a comeback with 19D, (marine force covering up true mess). (6) 8. Small US company leading in natural cosmetics? (3) 9. Carries toddlers full of energy? (5) 11. Black Panama gecko ends up in tree. (3) 12. We do regret one mistake; being under this to get a title? (9, 4) 15. Creatures in Middle Earth have no time for camp erections? (4) 16. Man in the middle takes drug on the shelf? (4) 20. A room I counted erroneously

as a fresh place to watch films? (7, 6) 21. Put down time for limits of space? (3) 23. Golf at Meon occurring regularly? (5) 24. Slide on surface of frictionless kitchen floor? (3) 25. Hot to replace time on urgent push, but gets the bird? (6) 26. Feeling aroused when seeing a hint of colour in the west? Quite the opposite! (6)



11 10


13 12

12 17

14 13



16 16





20 Clues Down 1. Squeezes out run in the area 21 22 23 away from the centre of play? (6) 2. Dry content of Toulouse claret? (3) 3. Do cite sex; don’t confuse result 24 for those creatures no longer with us? (7, 6) 25 5. So we say no diet can possibly result in an urge to take it gently? (4, 4, 2, 3) 13. Choose whether there 6. One card game played by is a leader or not? (5) Manuel? (3) 14. Search vigorously to 7. Exchange which finishes off beatnik find a weapon? (5) gives a start for Keir Starmer? (6) 17. Strode around a large area of 10. Play about resistance 1A? (6) in ancient city? (4) 18. Tiger lacking energy sadly,

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22 24


but showing courage? (4) 19. Belonging around here, it turns up in middle of church. (6) 22. Leaders of those offering resistance reach higher ground. (3) 24. One of seven that could be classified as deadly? (3)

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38 | living nikki legon’s cuisine

Do you end up repeating the same dishes week after week? Find inspiration in these delicious autumnal recipes packed with seasonal ingredients…

Nikki Legon's

Creamy Mushroom Vol-AuVents


Autumn Salad serves 2

If you can find pomegranate molasses this is delicious, but otherwise you can substitute with the dressing of your choice 220g salad leaves of your choice

6 large figs, quartered 200g cheese: feta, goat’s or Roquefort 2 tbsp walnuts 1 pomegranate DRESSING 4 tbsp pomegranate molasses 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp brown sugar 2 tbsp light olive oil

METHOD In a small pan combine the dressing ingredients and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has melted and the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Place the salad onto a large plate arrange the figs and cheese, drizzle over the dressing, sprinkle with walnuts and the fruit from the pomegranate.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 39

Spaghetti with Chanterelles serves 6

Spaghetti with Chanterelles Autumn Salad

600g chanterelles 3 tbsp salted butter 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 chilli pepper, diced finely 2 tbsp cognac 400g spaghetti or pasta of your choice 80g vegetarian Parmesan cheese, grated 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Crispy Aubergine & Prawn Fingers

METHOD Brush any dirt from the mushrooms and tear in half. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry on a high heat, tossing a couple of times. Add the garlic and chilli pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cognac and carefully set alight. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain and add to the mushrooms. Add the cheese, toss gently, season to taste and sprinkle with the parsley.

Crispy Aubergine & Prawn Fingers

serves 2

1 medium aubergine 6 large peeled prawns ½ tsp chilli powder 3 tbsp of plain flour 2 eggs 2 tbsp of milk Panko breadcrumbs METHOD Cut the aubergine into 6 long fingers. Clean the prawns making sure the black intestine is removed. In separate bowls, mix the flour with the chilli and beat the eggs into the milk. Dip the prawns and aubergine into the flour then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs. Deep fry in hot oil and drain. Serve with chilli sauce or garlic mayonnaise.

Creamy Mushroom Vol-Au-Vents serves 4

3 tbsp light olive oil 2 leeks, white part only, chopped 3 cloves of garlic, minced 500g mixed mushrooms (use a soft brush to clean any dirt away; do not wash in water) salt and pepper 4 large vol-au-vents cases

50g butter 50g plain flour 500ml milk ½ onion studded with 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves

studded onion. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Melt the butter in another small saucepan, then add the plain flour, stirring continuously until a roux is formed. Continue cooking for two minutes. METHOD Remove the onion from the milk and Add oil to a large frying pan on a add the infused milk to the roux medium heat and fry the leeks and gradually stirring as you go until you garlic for 2 minutes to soften. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. get a creamy lump-free sauce. Combine the cooked leeks and Cover with a lid and cook around mushrooms into the sauce. 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Heat the vol-au-vents and fill them with Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, gently the mixture. Serve with a green salad. bring the milk to the boil with the

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40 | living nikki legon’s cuisine

Left Over Sunday Roast Fry Up A firm family favourite! Any roast meat including beef, pork, lamb or chicken with any roast vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, cabbage, sprouts and parsnips METHOD Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and add all of the above ingredients warm through. Alternatively, place the ingredients into a casserole dish and heat through in a hot oven. Nothing could be simpler!

Macaroni Cheese & Cauliflower Bake

Macaroni Cheese & Cauliflower Bake serves 6

400g cauliflower florets 400g dried macaroni 80g butter 4 tbsp plain flour 2½ tsp Dijon mustard 700ml milk pinch of cayenne pepper salt and pepper to taste 360g mature cheese, grated 4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs 1 tbsp thyme leaves METHOD Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook 4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and place into ice cold water to stop further cooking. Tip the macaroni into the boiling water and cook until al dente, drain and refresh under cold running water. Mix the macaroni and cauliflower together with a knob of butter. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat 65g of butter in a pan, add the flour, cook for 2 minutes, add the mustard. Now add the milk, beating continuously with a whisk, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Add 300g of cheese and mix well until melted. Add the pasta and cauliflower to the sauce and mix well to coat. Add to a baking dish, mix the cheese with the breadcrumbs and thyme leaves, sprinkle over the macaroni. Dot with the remaining butter and bake 15 - 20 minutes.

Cheese, Potato & Sausage Casserole serves 6

25ml sunflower oil 8 sausages of your choice, skin removed and shaped into small balls. 100g diced bacon 400g mashed potatoes 1 onion, finely chopped 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce ½ tsp salt and pepper 200g grated mature cheese

METHOD In a large frying pan, add the oil and fry the chopped onion and bacon. Then add the sausage balls and fry until browned all over. Sprinkle with the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Place into a casserole dish and stir in the mash, sprinkle over the cheese. Place in a preheated oven to 200°C and bake for around 30 minutes until golden.

Cheese, Potato & Sausage Casserole

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 41 Fig & Almond Tart

Left over Sunday Roast Fry Up

Fig & Almond Tart PASTRY 150g plain flour 75g unsalted butter 50g icing sugar 1 egg yolk FILLING 130g unsalted butter 165g caster sugar 1 tbsp grated lemon rind 1 tbsp grated orange rind 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed 3 eggs 180g almond flour 75g plain flour ½ tsp baking powder

80g flaked almonds 6 figs, quartered 90g honey METHOD Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the icing sugar and a pinch of salt followed by the egg yolk. If the pastry feels dry add 1 tsp of water. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it out into a disc, wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Place the sweet pastry into a loose-bottom tart tin, round or square and prick the pastry all over with a fork. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes and then blind

bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden. Place the butter, sugar, citrus rinds and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer with the beater attachment fitted. Beat for 6 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the almond flour, plain flour and baking powder and mix to combine. Fold in the flaked almonds. Spoon the mixture into the tart tin and spread until smooth. Place the figs into the almond filling pressing down slightly. Place the tart tin into the oven and cook for 45 minutes or until golden. Brush with the honey and serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.

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:

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A warm welcome awaits you ……. Come and discover the Hotel Restaurant Karina, set in a haven of greenery, just 3km from Jarnac in the beautiful Charentaise countryside. Enjoy dining by the open fire in winter or on the terrace in fine weather with a choice of à la carte or fixed menus. In our bar, you will find the original copper alembic and here you can relax with an aperitif. Join us for fish and chips on Fridays - lunch or dinner. We cater for special group occasions, call for more information See our menus on our website | | 05 45 36 26 26

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Vendange time in the steep Loire Valley vineyards of Chavignol (18)

42 | living wine

Sauvignon grapes are often grown around Bordeaux

meet the grapes White Wine Varieties

Chardonnay originated in France and was made famous by the high quality white wines of Burgundy. Chardonnay can be full-bodied, but specific terroirs like Chablis, can be sharp and flinty. Aromas include apple, peach, pear, pineapple, citrus, melon, and butter. Chardonnay is often barrelaged, to impart oak aromas like vanilla. Sauvignon originated in France and is famous in areas like Sancerre and Bordeaux. It has also become the signature grape of New Zealand. Sauvignon blancs are invigorating and acidic. Aromas include grass, gooseberry, passion fruit, lychee, asparagus, and grapefruit. It is seldom barrel-aged. Trebbiano ToscanO, also known in France as Ugni Blanc, is one you probably don’t know from seeing the name on a label, but it is the most widely planted white grape in France. It originated in Italy and is highly productive, resistant to disease and pests, and high in acidity. This grape is widely used in brandy (e.g. cognac). The grape creates wines that are tangy with citrus and peach or melon aromas, and can also have floral notes. Well cared-for and

France is the original home of many of the most popular wine grape varietals in the world. In this article Caro Feely outlines five white and five red wine grapes in France and what to expect from them.

naturally-farmed it can make dry white wines that are delicious.

Riesling originated in Germany and is widely planted there. It is lively and acidic, with specific aromas that can include apple, lime and passion fruit. In France it is found in Alsace. A classic dry Riesling from Alsace will be medium-bodied with green, citrus and stone fruit notes and flavours. Great Alsatian Rieslings can benefit from age and develop smoky, honey and petrol aromas. A young, earlypicked Riesling can be lively and acidic. Aligoté Found in Burgundy, France and Central Europe, it is high in acidity. Aromas include apple, lemon and herbal notes.

Red Wine Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon: Particularly famous, it originated in France and features largely in wines from the left bank of Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon is high-acid, hightannin and generally high-alcohol. It offers intense wines with ageing potential and is often oaked. Specific aromas include blackcurrant (cassis), cedar, green pepper, mint, chocolate, tobacco, and cigar box. Merlot is another French native, it offers medium acid, medium tannin, full-bodied wines with rich, plummy, spicy notes that partner well with Cabernet Sauvignon, the classic Bordeaux blend. Other specific aromas include fruitcake, blackberry, and pencil shavings. Syrah (or Shiraz, as it is called in the New World). Thought to have originated in France, Syrah creates a rich, spicy style with high tannin and full body. Specific aromas include raspberry, blackberry, pepper, clove and liquorice. Ageing can develop leather, game and tar aromas. Grenache (Garnacha) is believed to have originated in Spain, Grenache creates high-alcohol, low-tannin, and

Merlot is native to France

living wine | 43 Find more about wine, wine and food pairing and organic farming on the Château Feely blog at or follow on FB and Instagram. Château Feely is a biodynamic and organic wine estate with accommodation, wine tours, vineyard walks and an accredited Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) wine school. Stretch your wine world with a 3-day course on French wine (all year round) or go further with wines of the world on the WSET level 2 from 5-7 November.

low-acid wines. Specific aromas include strawberry and blackcurrant, then tobacco and dried apricot with age.

Pinot Noir originated in France. The wines are fragrant and silky with red fruit and sometimes gamey complexity. Specific aromas include raspberry, strawberry, cherry, violet, rose and then game or cabbage

notes with age. France offers a wide range of grape varieties. I have outlined some of the most popular ones in this article, although there are actually more than 1,300. I encourage you to explore and try wines from grapes you don’t know – variety is the spice of life. “Santé!” Here’s to fine wine and good friends this Autumn!

Discover Our Local Wines 100% Malbec & 100% Merlot


Domaine la Prenellerie

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

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Charente-Maritime €130,800 Ref: 115433 - Charming 3 bedroom lock-up and leave with attractive courtyard garden.

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Deux-Sèvres €82,500 Ref: 114078 - 2 Bedroom property with large barn and manageable garden. Ideal holiday home.

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Charente-Maritime €298,530 Ref: 114316 - Large 5 bedroom detached house with heated pool. Near to Saint Jean d’Angély.

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Dordogne €175,000 Ref: 99207 - 3 Bedroom restored barn with garden and patio area, located in a sleepy village.

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L i ving


Changing Places When communications are the main priority it’s understandable that attractive but more out-of-the-way locations can get overlooked by many property buyers. That’s good news, though, for those seeking the elusive combination of qualities which make Availles-Limouzine an interesting proposition. First there’s the riverside location, on the banks of a broad, unspoilt stretch of the Vienne, which along with a section of the commune boundary marks the border with northern Charente. Spanning the river today is an early-1950s road bridge whose predecessor, the late-19th century ironwork Pont Eiffel was a hurried replacement for one of the many suspension bridges considered unsafe after the Angers catastrophe (see our bridges and viaducts feature in this issue). Prior to that ferrymen had been providing river crossings since around 1350, when the previous bridge was destroyed by English forces during the Hundred Years War. The original crossing point lies beyond the Porte de la Rivière, which is reached (along with

other sections of the medieval ramparts) via Rue des Cavaliers, at whose opposite end you’ll pass through another of the fortified gateways. The narrow streets of the vieille ville are fascinating, with history at every turn and a whole host of original features mercifully still intact. The same holds true to a degree for the highest parts of the town centred around the brooding outline of the 11-15th century Eglise Saint-Martin, although up here the mood feels somehow different, not least due to the presence of quite a few unoccupied properties. Between the two, though, lies something just a little livelier, among a handful of shops, a hotel and essential services in and around Place Adrien Bernard, Rue Principale and Rue du Commerce, on which through traffic passes on the not overly-busy D34. Many years ago Availles-Limouzine also received rail travellers, on the line which ran between Limoges and Angoulême. Sadly, passenger services ended in 1940, freight lingered on until 2000, and now Rue de la Gare is home to Le Garage de Grandpère, where two Citroën enthusiasts restore (and

AvaillesLimouzine (86)

Looking for a peaceful riverside setting with lots of history in deepest France? supply parts for) classics like the Ami, DS, Méhari and, of course, the 2CV. Meanwhile, residents’ day-to-day needs are provided by a post office, a school, a creche, a multi-disciplinary health centre, home help services and a retirement centre, while leisure facilities include boating, mini golf, a stadium, 450-seat events hall plus a large municipal campsite with tree shade on the opposite bank of the river, which is popular with anglers.

Making connections Distances/drive-times by road from Availles-Limouzine 86460 Confolens: Montmorillon: Limoges: Poitiers: Niort: Bordeaux:

13.5km/15min 45km/45min 64km/1hr 05min 65km/1hr 10min 97km/1hr 37min 193km/2hr 23min

TER & TGV rail services: TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine services from Gare SNCF de Roumazières Loubert (25.8km) to Angoulême, Limoges, Royan, etc. TGV services from Poitiers and Angoulême to Paris, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Bayonne, etc.

L i ving

Property Sovimo immobiLier Ref. 34167


143 600 € HAI

(133 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Availles Limouzine (86). Near shops, panoramic view. 3-bed pretty bungalow, electrical heating, mains drains, garage, adjoining land of 2460m2, opposite land set on 762m2 on a river bank.


Ref. 34163

259 200€ HAI

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

Benest (16). 7kms to shops in Champagne Mouton. Detached 4-bed Charentaise set on approx 13 acres, on block, attic to convert, oil heating, outbuilding, above ground pool.

Ref. 34156

DPE: n/a

60 500€ HAI

(55 000 plus 10% fees payable by buyer)

Oradour Fanais (16), Confolens area, in rural village. 1-bed semi-detached habitable farmhouse. Boiler room, attic, oil heating, attached barn, adjoining land set on 1198m2.

Ref. 34165

DPE: n/a

Character Properties in France

71 500€ HAI

(65 000€ plus 10% agency fees payable buyer)

Lesterps (16), 9 kms to Confolens, semidetached, renovated, 3-bed village house, elec. heating, mains drains, adjoining garden of 410m2, separate plot of land 955m2 .

Ref. 34162

DPE: n/a

77 000€ HAI

(70 000€ plus 10% fees payable by buyer)

Availles-Limouzine, Vienne, €120,000* Three-bedroom detached house with elevated position and views of the Vienne river, conservatory, garage, mature garden, mains drains.

L’Isle Jourdain, Vienne, €77,000* Three large bedrooms, attached garden, terrace, central heating, secondary glazing, mains drains.


DPE: vierge

Rochechouart, Haute Vienne, €285,000* Walk into town, four-bedroom (one ensuite) plus converted attic, character renovation (new roof), covered terrace, ample parking, pool (6x12m), mains drains. DPE: D

Oradour sur Vayres, Haute Vienne, €169,995* Detached three-bedroom all on one level, barn, lounge with logburner and terrace, kitchen with views, large garden (nr 1.5 acre), double-glazing, septic tank conforms. DPE: F

Exideuil (16), near Chabanais, ideal holiday home. 1-bed detached house, sold furnished. Terrace, mains drains, garage, well, wooded land on river bank, set on 3603m2.

Ref. 34155

DPE: n/a

183 600€ HAI

(170 000€ plus 8% fees payable by buyer)

Ambernac (16), 10 mn from Confolens. Pretty, detached,,4-bed stone cottage. Gas heating, septic tank, outbuildings, adjoining land with heated pool, all set on 3015m2.

3, place de la Liberté, 16500 Confolens Tel: 05 45 85 45 65 Tel: 05 65 70 10 49 Email: Please contact us if you have a character property to sell, we have a devoted team located throughout the area.

*agency fees charged to the seller Agence Eleonor Estate Agency 36-38 rue du Temple, 24500 EYMET T: 05 53 27 83 45 Eymet, Villeréal, St.-Cyprien, Monpazier, Bergerac, Lalinde, Issigeac and Sainte -Foy-la-Grande

Ref: 8910-EY 340,000 € HAI DPE: D Stunning and rare 3-bedroom property in the centre of a popular village. An L-shaped hall, large sitting room, kitchen, & summer kitchen. Behind the house a lovely, private terrace gives on to a mature, enclosed garden with a two storey outbuilding. Taux d’honoraires 19,246€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

Ref: 9005-EY 504,560€ HAI DPE: B Fantastic 3-bedroom barn conversion with 2-bedroom gite. The main living area opens onto a large covered terrace overlooking the pool and garden. Lovely, 9 x 4.5 salt water heated pool with electric cover, outbuilding and 1 1/4 acres of gardens Taux d’honoraires 28,560€ (6%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

Ref: 8892-MO 682,500€ HAI DPE: Vierge Traditional perigordine stone house located only 2 km from the bastide town of Belves. Living/dining room with open kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a 50 sqm games room. Two attached 2-bedroom gites. Panoramic view on the countryside. On 4.3 acres of woodland. Taux d’honoraires 32,500€ (5%) inclus à la charge de l’acquéreur.

L i ving

Property Patricia VANDEBROUCK 06 85 79 24 25

€199,000 FAI

Ref: 18470

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

€148,000 FAI

Ref: 22872

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

Ref: 23296

€89,000 FAI

Nr AiGRe (16) - traditional Charentaise house to be fitted out internally - carcass has been redone. Plot of 534m2, outbuildings. DPE n/a

€128,000 FAI

Ref: 20324

Nr Chef BoUtoNNe (79) - on 1600m2 wooded plot, 6-room restored house, outbuildings, countryside view, quiet. DPE D

Ref: 23008 €330,000 FAI

Nr sAiNt JeAN d’ANGéLY (17) - Restored 7-room house with private 5,000m2 island with natural waterfall, outbuildings. 900m2 landscaped gardens. Rare. DPE E

€75,000 FAI

Ref: 23052

Nr MeLLe (79 ) atypical house - 5 rooms with outbuildings suitable for conversion. on land of 730m² with riverbank. Good potential DPE E

Beaux Villages IMMOBILIER

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

€296,800 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6820: Superb 4-bed Maison de Maitre. Spacious reception rooms. Large wine storehouse offering possibilities for renovation. Another large independent outbuilding of 110m2. Pretty wooded and walled garden. Swimming pool. DPE Vierge

€360,400 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6838: Spacious 6-bed Maison de Maitre with large reception rooms and possibility of further extension into attached barns. 87m2 gite of with own garden. Large outbuilding completes the property. Elegant and charming, well worth viewing! DPE Vierge

€270,300 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6800: 4-bed villa in Loulay with large, light-filled living room, beautiful fitted kitchen. 3 beds on ground floor (one en-suite) + one upstairs with bath/wc. Underfloor heating/cooling. Attached 20m2 room - bedroom/office/playroom. Garage + carport. DPE C

€472,500 FAI Honoraires à la charge du Vendeur

Idiade 6707: Lovely 4-bed Maison de Maitre set in 2784m2 grounds. 2-beds in attached house with a 163m2 pool room with kitchen and lounge areas...perfect for entertaining! Further building partially renovated - gite or artists studio. Large garden and garage. DPE C

50 | living in the garden

Finally: a use for coffee grounds

in the garden

Borage is a welcome sight

Homemade brews Organic gardening makes sense, so we look at natural (and free) alternatives to chemical fertilisers WORDS: ROGER MOSS

Stinging nettle brew

Compost needs turning

Tomatoes respond to regular feeding

living in the garden | 51 Eggshells add nutrients and deter slugs


ardeners, it seems, can be hard to please. We spend so much time and expend so much energy anticipating a bountiful summer of beautiful blooms and productive potagers that we place quite a weight on the shoulders of Mother Nature. Or perhaps that’s just a fanciful invention on our part, to avoid the uncomfortable realisation that weather patterns are largely out of our hands and we just have to live with whatever comes our way, good or bad. This year’s long, hot summer might have been just what our morale needed but it was a tough time for our gardens, and if we hadn’t been so diligent with watering then there would have been a few casualties. That said, could it be that the dry conditions might actually have had a positive effect on one particularly worrying threat to our gardens? For the past few years gardens and hedgerows

around the region (and much of Europe) have been under attack by Cydalima perspectalis – the caterpillars of the box moth. Left unchecked their voracious appetites can strip every leaf from their defenceless victims, so a constant vigil has been needed to detect the pests’ appearance in time to spray and halt an infestation. Previously the alarm would sound perhaps three times each summer, but for some reason this year produced just one attack, so the plants continue to recover from previous near decimation. Hopefully that pattern will continue in 2021 and beyond, but we gardeners know from experience that it doesn’t pay to be complacent. The treatments deployed against the caterpillars aren’t in this case toxic (they merely make the plants distasteful to the caterpillars, which then starve) but that’s not the case for some other concoctions

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which are probably lurking on the shelves of our sheds and greenhouses. As we’ve learnt to our cost, if we put down pellets to kill slugs we could also end up poisoning the hedgehogs and other wildlife who see such gardening threats as a ready source of food. Then there’s the broader debate surrounding pest control treatments and non-organic farming (and gardening) practices, not least their possible effects on declining bee populations. Whatever their public image, fertiliser companies can be surprisingly generous when it comes to the mineral content of their products, something which creates problems when excess chemicals (plants can only take up so much in the way of nutrients) find their way through the soil, or via run-off, into water courses where they become pollutants. With that in mind, this could be


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Show how much you Living at

52 | living in the garden

Acid soil produces blue hydrangeas; alkaline for pink

the perfect moment to reacquaint ourselves with some of the time-honoured natural organic treatments from the days before it became normal to reach for chemical products. Before we do, however, we should mention that if we maintain the fertility of our garden soil by ensuring that it’s well supplied with compost, leaf-mould and well-rotted manure then we can minimise the need for additional feeds. Obviously things are more challenging if we’ve purchased a property with a neglected garden which needs nursing back to health, or if we plan to establish a new garden on land which has never been cultivated (buy a former farmhouse and chances are you’ll be starting from scratch with what was Seaweed from the shoreline can enrich our soil

stir from time to time – after a couple of weeks it will start to smell and the liquid can be used undiluted. Leave them for longer and things will get a lot more concentrated, so will need to be diluted for use. Nettles contain nitrogen, phosphate, potash and lots of trace elements, but are outgunned by another garden regular. Borage often self-seeds, and can be used in much the same way as nettle leaves, but with a little less water (15 litres per kg of leaves). Alternatively, if you don’t add water it will eventually decompose into a concentrated liquid which can then be diluted for use. Either way, borage packs a higher nitrogen content (which promotes healthy leaf growth) than nettles and can be dug into the soil or used as a mulch. Another way to use the leaves is to place a bundle

Banana skins are rich in nutrients

previously a farmyard). In situations like these the traditional feeds can be particularly useful in the potager, boosting yields from hungry crops like cabbages, potatoes, squashes and of course tomatoes. They can replace nutrients which are rapidly depleted in containers, and could also provide a quick ‘pick-me-up’ when sprayed as foliar feeds. Making your own is surprisingly simple. To make a stinging nettle brew cut some leaves when they appear in springtime, place them in a container and top-up with water (around 20 litres for 1kg of nettles). Cover with a lid of some sort, then give things a

in some muslin or net curtain, which can be suspended for a while like a giant tea-bag in your water butt for plant watering – don’t let the fabric rot, though, or you won’t be able to remove it and the mixture will become too concentrated for undiluted use. Similar concoctions can even be prepared using grass clippings. Let them sit for around five days then dilute the resulting liquid by 10:1 with fresh water. Pour it onto the soil and you’ll put back useful nutrients. Another free source of nitrogen is coffee. Stop throwing the grounds away, and instead work them gently into the soil around acid-loving

living in the garden | 53 Grass cuttings can be steeped to make fertiliser

Organic harvest time

plants like camelias, hydrangeas and magnolias, along with roses and vegetables. For plants which won’t thrive without it, soil acidity can be maintained by watering every couple of months or so with a solution of a tablespoon (15ml) of white vinegar per 4.5 litres of water (ideally rainwater). Also well worth putting to work for us are banana skins, which can be buried whole among our plants to decompose, releasing nourishing calcium, phosphorus and potassium. You probably already knew that, but rather less obvious is the fact that if you soak the skins in water for a few days you can then spray the liquid as a foliar feed to perk up your garden and house plants. Eggshells are another item we typically heave in the waste bin without a second thought, yet the calcium they contain in high concentrations can help our plants’ cellular growth, cutting significantly the risk of rot on tomato plants, for example. You can simply crush the used shells and dig them into the soil, or make a spray – boil around 10 shells in a large pan of water, simmer for just a

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few minutes and then leave overnight. In the morning strain off the shells, pour the water into a clean sprayer for spraying directly onto your soil. Those of us who live within reach of the coast have access to another natural fertiliser which has been used for centuries: seaweed. Be aware that only algues carried in by the waves as ‘laisse de mer’ may be collected – doing so from anywhere else (e.g. rockpools) is unlawful. Used fresh or dried, seaweed can be dug in or used as a mulch, which slugs hate. It stays put well, releases nutrients including magnesium, nitrogen, potassium and phosphate, plus a host of trace elements and mannitol, a useful compound which benefits root systems and plant cell tissues. Alternatively, steep some chopped seaweed in a bucket of water for three weeks, strain the resulting liquid and use it diluted 50:50 with rainwater on your plants. Finally, rural areas have always had access to plentiful supplies of farm manure. Perhaps surprisingly, chicken manure not only contains

more nitrogen, potash and phosphate than any other type of manure but is also rich in nutrients like calcium and magnesium. In fact, the high level of nitrogen alone would be harmful to plants if we were to use it fresh, rather than composting it, something which also applies to cow and horse manure. Bear in mind too that if we don’t keep chickens of our own then we need to know that manure sourced elsewhere will be from naturally-fed birds free from antibiotics and hormone treatments, or we risk putting residues on our plants. That completes our round-up (no pun intended) of money-saving, natural plant feeds. Other age-old treatments are out there, so have fun finding and using them.


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elcome to our comprehensive Business Directory, packed full of the best English-speaking services suppliers across the region. Whatever you need, our advertisers can help you and, in return, just tell them you saw their advert here and you will help to keep Living Magazine free.

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

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


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Les Rivières, 19260 TREIGNAC

Jeff’s Metalwork

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L’Atelier de Fer



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

BECK CHERRY PICKER HIRE Nacelle Telescopique

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

05 45 36 19 09 Tel: 07 84 12 44 97


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

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

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

Robert Mann Upholstery Service robmannupholstery

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

Delivery &


FROM £99


Furniture for France

Quality UK furniture direct to your door in France Furniture for your bedrooms, dining room and lounge From sofas to mattresses, wardrobes to dining tables, all just one phone call away Look at our website to see the latest ranges available 18 years’ experience & great customer service


Tel: 06 46 49 73 45 Email:

F o r Po o l s

RJC Pool Services

• Installation • Renovation

Creating your Perfect Outside Space

• Cleaning and Maintenance

For Outside Living • Summerhouses

t: +33 (0) 549 290135 t: +33 (0) 785 372144

• Roofs • Fencing • Blockwork • Pointing

05 45 25 05 37

FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE Competitive prices, try me for a quote

The Roofing & Renovation Company Home Automation

Established in 2007, registered artisan with Décennale & Civile Responsabilité Insurance

CCTV Systems

Here to help with your projects in 2020

Enterprise grade WiFi T: 06 62 92 48 17

Fully insured

SIRET 47994761600021 phone 0549840362 mobile 0622361056


Andy Quick

Based in 86400

SIRET : 814 176 509 00010

Kitchens & Bathrooms from A-Z All leading Brands All associated minor works, modifications and repairs also undertaken e.g.. replace Kitchen worktops, taps, toilets etc. Dept. 16, 17

05 49 27 22 67

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

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

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

website: email: siret:50263448800014

Britain’s leading supplier

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

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

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

siret: 879 912 855

Pools, Computers, Artisans

Agent and installer for several rectangular & shaped pools including Seablue & Astral Pools

Terracing and landscaping service also available ALL WORK GUARANTEED

• Outside Rooms

CENTRE BATIMENT Swimming Pool Specialists


Based near Sauzé-Vaussais (79) Full Décennale Insurance siret: 831 373 048 00022

• Rendering

Siret: 499 474 302 00035



• Terraces & Patios


Siret 800 969 438 00020

JM Roofing

All insurance work welcome

Carpentry ~ Roofing

Clay Tile Roofs All Timberwork Metal Sheet Hangars

All Zinc Work Zinc Gutter Fascia T. 07 70 37 15 98

Full 10 Year Décennal Insurance French & English Speaking



Depts covered 16, 17, 24, 79, 86, 87

Building services, Artisans

H & R

Building & Renovation Services • Roof Repairs


• Blockwork & Brickwork

Interior & exterior tiling Travertine, marble, cement, ceramic, porcelain, mosaics

• Boarding & Plastering

10yr dée éÉ cennale insurance

• Carpentry • Renovations & Refurbishment

• Velux & Dormers

Paul Hill: 05 45 24 01 45

• Kitchen & Bathrooms


• Groundwork, Patios & Paving


Tel: +44 742 803 0367 Email:

Siret: 530 444 496 00018

Metalwork, Fencing, Artisans


ReIiable, Affordable Maintenance & Renovation Service

Depts 16 & 17

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

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

Siret: 789 563 392 00016

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

Siret 482 718 640 00022

Building services, Artisans

Siret: 841 406 812 00013

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




A1SL COUVERTURE is a new French based company serving dept. 79, 86, 16, 17, 87, 85, 24 & 33 with well-established roofing experience previously based in Merseyside, UK. We pride ourselves on top quality workmanship and excellent customer service. We have built a solid reputation over 25 years in the UK and receive most of our work from customer recommendations. WE COVER ALL ASPECTS OF ROOFING WORK FROM SMALL DOMESTIC REPAIRS, ROOF CLEANING AND LARGE NEW ROOF PROJECTS UTILIZING CLAY TILES AND SLATE; SPECIALIST IN LEAD WORK. Registered with the Repertoire des Métiers, siren: 877 636 050

Mobile: + 33.(0). Email: All work is fully guaranteed and we are fully insured. Our services are available 6 days a week, no-obligation free estimate and no call-out fee up to 70km.


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

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

Tel: 07 67 04 07 53


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


These local businesses are waiting for your call!




UPVC windows, doors & ConserVatories sPeCialists

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

10 year warranTy on all products installed

~ Covering south west franCe ~

Tel: 05 46 70 25 87


Covering 1h radius around Mareuil 24340

~ Free quotes ~ Decennial insurance

07 82 19 22 37

Adrian Butterfield

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

Do you need help with:

• • •

Odd jobs Tiling, Painting Plumbing Plastering, Rendering • Kitchen fitting, Carpentry • Sandblasting • General Maintenance Call Adrian on 05 49 69 00 24 or 06 41 55 85 35, or email: for a FREE estimate

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

Over 20 year’s experience Siret: 843 784 638 00010

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

Assurance Décennale

Building services

For You and Your French Home

• plastering

Ecuras 16220

R J Coulson

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

Quality Roofing & Building

for you

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

Siret 53210969100024 Quote 'Living' to help keep this magazine free for readers

Building services, Artisans

• complete range of building services


Building services, Artisans

Renovations / new builds Roof repairs Velux installation Guttering Insurance claims

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




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

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

Graham Medhurst Renovations

Building services, Artisans


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

05 49 87 09 63 Siret: 48115588500017


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

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

Established reputable builder in Charente From basic changes to complete renovations, bathrooms, kitchens, floor and wall tiling, dry-lining & more Guaranteed customer satisfaction Contact me for a free no-obligation quotation Based near La Rochefoucauld, covering areas 16, 86 & 79 T: 05 45 95 44 34 or 06 98 29 76 45 E:


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

SEAN THEOBALD Carpenter All elements of 1st and 2nd fix carpentry undertaken Over 35 years experience specialising in, but not limited to High-End Residential and Heritage Projects T: 07 80 53 54 11 E: Based in 17240

Siret: 848 507 042 00010

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

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


Email: These local businesses are waiting for your call!

Affordable UK Designs

Fitted Kitchens, Upvc & Aluminium Double Glazing


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

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

Specialist Carpenter/Joiner Bespoke Joinery & Renovations Doors - Shutters - Stairs Flooring - Kitchens

Cabinet Maker & Joiner Furniture Restoration Manufacture of staircases, doors & cupboards

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

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

05 45 31 14 58 / 06 63 20 24 93

Multi Services

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

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

website: email: siret:50263448800014

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

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

Ambroise PRÉE

Plumbing - Heating Chimney sweeping

EMERGENCY CALL OUTS 24 hours / 7 days a week Full service with certificate (boiler, fuel, wood, gaz) Installation of Wood Burners Registerer RGE QUALIBOIS Fully insured with over 15 years’ experience Tel: 06 58 86 55 91

30km around 86400 (Saint Macoux)

English spoken

Siret: 831 980 487 00019

Experienced, French Registered Electrician

Siret: 441 490 992 00027

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

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

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

05 46 86 07 61

Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne

Siren: 478 608 185 00011

Siret 49376573200015

Peter Amor Electrician

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

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

Conformity Inspections

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

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

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

Building services, Artisans


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

Siret: 508 248 747 000 18



Building services, Artisans

Adrian Amos Barry Baldwin

SIRET: 513 577 809 00017

living music | 65

hardy soul Upbeat

for more cartoons by stig see

© photo left: wikipedia: Joost Evers/Anefo; right:


ver the years the UK music charts have featured many formulaic genres, most of which have come and gone. Every now and then, however, a French artist will come along and shake things up with a refreshing touch of continental flair. Among the first to break through during the sixties pop boom was 18 year-old Françoise Hardy, whose ‘Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles’ provided a musical interlude during the televised results of the 1962 referendum on whether the President of the French Republic should in future be elected by direct popular vote. The song’s reflective mood obviously resonated with viewers as they witnessed history being made. By the end of the year it had notched up worldwide sales of over half a million singles, and went on to sell 700,000 in France alone. As an adolescent in Paris with her younger sister Michèle, Françoise developed a passion for music during long hours spent listening to Radio Luxembourg, an experience which not only gave her a keen awareness of rock & roll releases by British and US artists but also something in common with the many listeners who were also tuning in regularly from the UK. As a reward for passing her ‘bac’ she was given a guitar by her estranged father and after spending the following year studying German at the Sorbonne resolved to take her own music more seriously. Spotting an advertisement in France Soir from a record company looking for young singers, she auditioned and was told she had passed. Hearing nothing further,

We celebrate the singer and the song which melted hearts around the world and turned us into Francophiles

she signed for Le Petit Conservatoire de la Chanson de Mireille, a weekly TV show presenting free instruction for aspiring singers and composers. She remained with the show for two years, then auditioned for Disques Vogue, who gave her a recording contract. After the success of ‘Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles’, which held the Number One spot for 11 weeks, Paris Match put her on the cover of its first issue of 1963 as the new idol of chanson for her ability – rare at the time – to write the songs she recorded. Two months later Françoise was in London gaining 5th place for Monaco in the Eurovision Song Contest with her L’Amour S’en Va (Love Goes Away). It was quite a year, with further chart successes in Spain, Holland, Denmark, Japan, Canada and in the USA, where Vogue Magazine published a 14-page feature with photography by

William Klein. Clearly, she had become not only the voice but also the face of pop. The hits and concert tours kept coming, while her career expanded into fashion (notably for Yves SaintLaurent and Paco Rabanne) and film, including a prominent role in John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix (1966). In a career spanning almost 60 years she has released 28 albums in France, achieving Platinum sales with Parenthesis (2006), a collection of duets recorded with other big names. She has also written lyrics for others and is married to singer Jacques Dutronc (their son Thomas Dutronc having a highly successful music career of his own). In recent years Françoise has struggled with recurring health problems, and now lives in semi-retirement on Corsica in the house she built above Monticello during the mid-sixties.


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

16, 17, 79 and west Vienne

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

66 | living Language

Pardon? S

lang from the Anglophone world is hard enough to keep up on its own without having to cope with it in another language. It’s especially hard when you hear it in context over the radio or on the television, making a mental note to remind yourself to look it up after. Worse still, I fall into those habits of asking French friends what it means, and that doesn’t always make it much clearer – especially if they don’t know, but don’t like to give the impression that they don’t. Add in a bit of verlan and I’m as lost as I was during the first lesson I had of French back in the first year of secondary school. The odd bit, I can cope with. Verlan, if you’re not familiar with it, is a kind of popular slang of cutting the word up and swapping it around. Verlan = l’envers. The reverse. Verlan has a long history, one that proliferated in the 1990s with rap. Leaving behind its social and cultural boundaries, it pops up often enough in news reports, on television and in the papers, that it still troubles me. Like this weekend. I woke up Sunday to a thumping beat that was vibrating through the walls. We get this from time to time and I was pretty sure there was a rave going on somewhere. Now there’s a good example of a word that dates me. Do people still talk about raves? Is that British slang that’s passed into the ether? I mean, it’s a good 30 years since I heard of raves in the UK. Despite that, I see une rave has happily crossed the channel and ensconced itself in French vernacular. Or at least, so I thought. Reading the local paper on Monday

and I see whatever the noisy event was has made the headline. 800 Teufeurs… une teuf. First, because it’s early, I try and work out whatever it is. Wherever you see ‘eu’ in unfamiliar words, it’s a safe bet that it’s often verlan. Une meuf is a woman or a girl, even a girlfriend, coming from splitting up femme and putting it backwards. I know. Why meuf and not mefe? I don’t make the rules. So whenever I see that weird ‘eu’ in a word I don’t know, I often think it must be verlan. So then I start trying to rearrange it. Feute? Fute? Fete? A fête in the middle of the night? Where most people would have left it and just accepted there were 800 people making a lot of noise, the linguist in me can’t leave it alone. I want to know exactly what kind of fête. Luckily, most slang has passed into the dictionary and you can generally find most of it somewhere on the internet. Une teuf is indeed another word for a fête, though that still left me scratching my head. It did not help at all that at least one online French-English dictionary called it a ‘chug’. Is that just me getting old and that’s really what people call parties these days, or is it just plain wrong? It’s

Linguist Emma-Jane Lee takes a trip into the world of slang… hard to trust your senses where slang is concerned. Worse still, the deeper into this teuf war I get, the harder it gets to understand. Sometimes une teuf is known as a free party. Well, okay. I always love those French anglicisms of things that absolutely don’t exist in English, like un pressing (a dry cleaner) or un brushing (a blow dry). Illegal raves, I’d have said, but let’s not split hairs. Then it turns out other people might call them a tawa. And my unhelpful French dictionary informs me that a tawa is a type of dinosaur. So much for that. The more I read, the deeper I went into the rabbit hole. Of course, un teuf is a rave just exactly as I thought it would be, but then there are also things called teknivals… Don’t even ask. Apparently, that comes from techno festival. No wonder being young is hard on the brain. So if you find yourselves among les keufs (the cops) without les keums (the guys) and you’re a long way from la zonz’ (the house), your friends all might be a bit chelou (shady, shifty, seedy) or even cheum (unpleasant or rude) don’t worry too much if it doesn’t feel like the French you learned at school. French slang does tend to stick around though, so whilst you might find it quite hideous to use yourself at least you’ll know what everybody’s on about. Luckily, verlan expressions tend to be few and far between at least. Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, writing English textbooks, translating, marking exam scripts and teaching languages. She lives near La Rochefoucauld with her growing menagerie. See

L i ving

Editor: Kathryn Dobson FEATURES EDITOR: Roger Moss Advertising: Jon Dobson Art editor: Nadia Van den Rym Production manager: Justin Silvester Regular contributors: Caro Feely, Susan Hays, Jessica Knipe, magazine Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Mike Morris, and Stig Tomas. WITH THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler, Julia Moss. Photography: Shutterstock or Roger Moss unless indicated. Cover image: IMOCA boat SMA, skipper Paul Meilhat (FRA) 2016 © Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/Vendee Globe

Published by: SARL AMM, 2 Rue Buffefeu, 86400 Linazay FRANCE. Poitiers: 533 624 128 Printed by: Rotimpres S.A. Dépôt légal: A parution Issue: 74 ISSN: 2270-2709. Living is available by subscription. Living est disponible par abonnement. All material may not be reproduced without the written permission of SARL AMM. Toute reproduction même partielle du contenu est interdit sans l’accord écrit du magazine. Please ensure you verify that any company you are dealing with is registered in France and/or elsewhere around the world. Articles in this issue do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

















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