LIVING MAGAZINE - October November 2021

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L i ving magazine

oct nov


Business Directory

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PLUS: Bewitching Tales

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living editor’s letter | 3

to our October/November issue


he word of the moment appears to be ‘unpredictable’. After a damp summer, a pandemic that keeps coming in waves and yet more political shocks around the world, here at LIVING we think that just a bit of ‘normal’ is what we are all looking for. So, here’s an issue bursting with everything that you have come to expect from us – fabulous features, beautifully illustrated and packed with information about the region. In the past, ‘predictable’ may not have been seen as a goal to strive for, but as we all know, these are not normal times, so we are happy to give you something that you can simply trust and enjoy.

After the last edition, we jumped on the train down to Toulouse to explore its cobbled streets - we fell in love with the city’s vibe and the many wonderful sites (and sights) which we share with you in this issue. Luckily, we haven’t had to experience for ourselves the ghostly goings on revealed a few pages later by Jessica Knipe, our hat tip to the Halloween season about to be upon us, although we have often wondered about the many lanternes des morts, the history of which Roger Moss sets out to discover. Who hasn’t also pondered how some of the local place names have evolved? We turn to a local expert in toponymy to explain. And, just as you have come to expect, we have all our usual features, from French linguistic fun to recipes, local events, gardening and more. For the British nationals among us, a chapter is closing as WA residency permit applications end and cards are dispatched. Our ‘new normal’ is upon us, another thing that we hope will not produce any surprises. For me, personally, after 4 years of campaigning and advocating for the rights of British citizens in France, I’ll regain my spare time, as both British in Europe and France Rights wind down through lack of funding. My final meeting will be with our new Ambassador, hoping to forge ties for the British community in our region. Looking forward, once Jon is back from deliveries, we hope to finally visit parents in the UK. We’ll be waving our vaccination passports and residence cards as we cross the border, both of which remind us just how challenging the last few years have been. To all readers making similar journeys, bon voyage! May your travel be smooth (and carbon-neutral) and the queues short.

A bientôt!


editor As we went to press, for those impacted by Brexit, it looks as though the need to hold a physical WA Residence Permit will be delayed. However, the necessary decrée is still awaited. Follow our Facebook page ( for the latest information.

Read online at

4 | living contents

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30 40


Practical Advice Your questions answered


The Passage of Autumn Peace descends in the Hays household after the summer and rentrée


Puzzle Break Our unique crossword by Mike Morris




Snippets Local news from around the region


La Vie en Rose Roger Moss visits the vibrant city of Toulouse, a symphony of pale pink brick


Eternal Flame Discover the story behind more mysterious ancient monuments found across the region


A Sense of Place Jean-Marie Cassagne reveals the meanings behind the names of our towns and villages


Phare de Cordouan Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site


Hubble Bubble As Halloween approaches, Jessica Knipe explores a darker side of local history


Nikki Legon’s Cuisine Our favourite pies and pasties as the nights draw in


What’s on the Label Caro Feely explains the terms



Living Property Pages A profile of Le Dorat in Haute-Vienne


Shear Delight Hedging solutions for every gardening requirement


Oh, Josephine Josephine Baker’s extraordinary life


Pardon! Theatrical language with Emma-Jane Lee

Business Directory


The best local services and suppliers waiting for your call!

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News round up

Fete de la Science

Nature Weekend

The fourth edition of NouvelleAquitaine’s ‘48h Nature’ will be held over the weekend of 2-3 October. Featuring free visits to the most beautiful natural sites across the region, the aim is to invite the public to take part in the management of natural spaces. A calendar of events including exhibitions, games, nocturnal visits and beach cleaning can be found online at There is an interactive map so you can find those close to you – or venture further afield and visit somewhere new.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this year’s science festival will take place from 1-11 October, with a theme of ‘Eureka!’. Hundreds of events are planned to mark the anniversary in schools, universities, libraries and museums, with many designed for the whole family. Full details of all events can be found at:

Breakfast Club

A group of veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces have established a Breakfast Club under the umbrella of the official Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Clubs organisation. With 370 clubs in 14 countries, they aim to help personnel meet in a relaxed, safe, social environment for ‘breakfast and banter’ to combat loneliness. The newly formed Nouvelle-Aquitaine club has a Facebook group and meets on the first Saturday of each month at Montendre (17) although the intention is to move around the region as membership grows. To find out more, join the Facebook group at or contact Claire at afvbc.aquitaine@ or on 06 75 52 43 37. Membership is free.

Passport Changes

Since the end of September, national ID cards are no longer accepted for travel into the UK, so if you are planning a visit with your non-UK family members, valid passports will be needed. UK visitors to Europe will also need to double-check their passports, after several holidaymakers were refused boarding despite their passports appearing to be in date. UK passports must be less than 10 years old on the day after exit. If the current passport was renewed before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to the expiry date and these extra months may not count towards any minimum period needed. Visitors are recommended to have at least 6 months left on their passports. For the latest travel information see:

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

Eye in the Sky

A project comparing cadastral plans with aerial photos from Google will help the French tax office seek out hidden swimming pools and building work, after a 12-million-euro deal was agreed with IT firm Capgemini. Following a pilot project around Marmande in Lot-et-Garonne, a larger trial run by Accenture is underway. Capgemini have been chosen to roll out the project nationally and act as an intermediary between Google and DGFiP, the government department overseeing taxation, so no tax information will be shared with the internet giant. Currently if a homeowner is suspected of not having declared pools or extensions, surveyors have to visit the site. These visits will no longer be required and a demand to regularise their tax situation will be sent directly to the homeowner.

Battle of Wills

France is a signatory to the EU law known as Brussels IV under which residents can elect to have their estate distributed according to the laws prevailing in their home country. Many French residents have taken advantage of this provision to avoid forced heirship if children have become estranged. A recent change in the law to prevent daughters being disadvantaged in countries practising Sharia law (where girls would typically inherit only half their brothers’ share) could impact nationals from other countries too which also have no forced heirship, for instance England, Wales and the United States (Scotland does have forced heirship, so could be exempt). Introduced in November 2020 and expected to take effect from November this year, the bill aims to allow all children of the deceased to apply to recover their ‘réserve héréditaire’, whether or not the deceased wished them to inherit. If you have hoped to benefit from the provision under Brussels IV and written a will in your home country disinheriting your child, you should seek legal advice as to whether your wishes will be impacted by this bill and what your options are.

La Semaine du Goût Another popular themed event here in France is the ‘week of taste’, running from 11-17 October and celebrating all things gastronomic. Organisations across the region will be offering a mixture of ticketed and free events, and schools will place a special focus on good food and healthy eating. This year’s theme is ‘le Goût du Voyage’ - discovering tastes from around the world and featuring a partnership with Japan.

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LA ROCHELLE Surgeres Île de Oléron


CHARENTE-MARITIME (17) Marennes Saintes Cognac Royan


Rouillac Jarnac



News from around the region...

les charentes Mountain Biking ANGOULEME


It’s the perfect time to explore the countryside on two wheels, but finding VTT (vélo tout-terrain) routes can be challenging. Charente offers 1,000km of marked trails spread over five areas, classified from Family and Beginners through to Expert. Featuring routes around Chambon, SudCharente, Confolentais, Lacs de Haute Charente and Sud-Est Charente, you can download both maps and GPX files free of charge at

Ocean Express

For a fine dining experience with a difference, jump aboard the Seudre Océan Express. Onboard you can enjoy a leisurely trip along the Atlantic coast in the newly renovated restaurant carriages run by Le Train des Mouettes while dining on a menu of regional specialities. Eight different courses are included along with wine for 75€ (a special children’s menu is 35€) but you will need to be quick to book as the reservations fill very quickly once dates are released. Watch for new dates at


The Dunes et Marais all-terrain rally will take place 1-3 October, departing from Saint-Palais-sur-Mer (17) on Friday afternoon and Royan (17) on Saturday.

Join in the ‘Festival des Aventuriers’ at TonnayCharente (17) over the weekend of 8-10 October. Six different travel adventure films, featuring solo travellers to families, will be screened with the chance to meet the film makers afterwards. Entry 3€. For a different Halloween celebration, head to Âne’llowen, held at the Baudet du Poitou donkey sanctuary at Dampierre-sur-Boutonne (17). Games, puzzles and fun are promised between 28-31 October. Festival Au Gré Des Arts continues through October with concerts featuring Baroque and Renaissance music, closing with an organ recital by Johann Vexo, organist of Notre-Dame de Paris, at Pranzac (16) on 7 November. See for ticket details.

Heritage Grants

Porte Saint-Jacques in Cognac (16), part of the Château François-Ier, has been chosen as one of only 100 French sites and monuments eligible for aid from the annual Loto du Héritage. Classified as a Monument Historique in 1925, the two towers are emblematic of the famous quayside and are among the few vestiges of the town’s medieval fortifications. Closed to the public, the towers have long been considered dangerous, particularly from water ingress which is damaging the vaults and other masonry. The gate dates back to the 12th century, when it was attached to a bridge over the Charente River. Reconstructed around 1500, the towers served as a prison from the Révolution until the mid-19th century, when the bridge was destroyed and replaced with one further downstream. In Charente-Maritime the covered market at Pont l’Abbé-d’Arnoult will also benefit from a grant to help restore it to its original state. Closed to the public for safety reasons ten years ago, urgent work is now needed to stop the building degrading further. Both awards were announced by Stéphane Bern, who heads the heritage foundation, and the final amounts will be agreed once the total of the 6 lottery draws throughout September is known.

© fotolia

.com © Aurelie Stapf, porteurdesonge


News from around the region...

Hermione in Dry Dock

Wind Turbines

© Association Hermione - La Fayette / Nigel Pert

A proposal to build an initial park of 50-80 wind turbines off the coast of Oléron will be available for public scrutiny until January. Projected to generate between 500MW and 1GW (enough for double the domestic usage for Charente-Maritime) the park would be situated about 15km off La Cotinière and employ 50 to 100 locals directly in turbine maintenance. It is expected to begin energy production in 2028 and would be followed by (and linked to) a second park of a similar size. A significant part of the debate is how the park would be connected to the mainland, with the cables running either south of Oléron to Royan or north of the island to La Rochelle. For more information on the plan see

The replica frigate Hermione has had to cancel her spring 2022 voyage to northern Europe as urgent repairs are needed. The La Fayette association, which manages Hermione, explained in a press release; “After initial investigations following the discovery of an area of ​​weakness under the waterline last June at La Pallice, the new observations confirm that the damage is serious and that the work to repair the damage observed on board will not be feasible in the next six months.” The work will be undertaken at Bayonne as there is no suitable dry dock in Rochefort although building one is being considered. Bayonne has been chosen as the only port in Nouvelle-Aquitaine technically suitable for the refit. It is also a nod to the common maritime history between Rochefort and Bayonne as both were chosen by Colbert in 1666 to establish the King’s only two arsenals south of Brest. It is not yet clear if Hermione can be visited in dry dock although the association hopes this will be possible.

Charente Roads

As previewed in recent editions of LIVING, radar cars are now circulating on roads in Charente. Driven by employees of private companies, the cars will measure the speed of vehicles around them without the need to flash, and are able to be on the roads 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The equipment’s technical margin is 10 km/h for speed limits below 100 km/h and 10% for speed limits above this threshold. Meanwhile, the département’s arguments to return certain roads to 90km/h were rejected by the Administrative Court in Poitiers this summer. The council have been given until January to better substantiate and resubmit their case. The speed limit signs on the roads can remain as they are for now, adding to the confusion around the project, which saw limits reduced to 80km/h nationally and the subsequent u-turn.


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News from around the region...


Seafood Special

© Jochen Jahnke/Wikipédia

If you have a sudden seafood craving at 3am, help is at hand if you live near Zone Commerciale de Couture, at Notre-Dame-de-Sanilhac near Périgueux. A chilled vending machine has been installed serving up fresh fish day and night via 41 lockers maintained at 2-3°C. Stocks are replenished every two days with the latest offerings. Choose from shrimps, scallops, salmon steaks, crab, mussels and more, all freshly prepared and vacuum-packed by local entrepreneur Frédéric Marty, a fourth-generation fishmonger. With baguettes, fresh fruit and now fresh fish all available from vending machines around the region, you can enjoy a regional feast whenever you want!

Rampart Renovations

The ramparts at Domme are among the sites chosen to benefit from the heritage lotto this year. Stretching over 1.5km and including three intact gates, the ramparts date back to the 14th century and circle the bastide town in Périgord Noir. There has been a long campaign to raise the money required for the necessary remedial work. The council has already raised some of the estimated 500,000€ cost of the project and work is due to begin at the end of the year, with a further 145,000€ still to find.

The Last Duel

The release date for Walt Disney Studio’s epic ‘The Last Duel’ which began its filming in Dordogne in February 2020 has been announced for 15 October. Directed by Ridley Scott, it tells the dramatic story of the last legal duel in France in 1386. Knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon; pictured above) returns from war to his wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer) who accuses his best friend Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) of a violent rape. Le Gris denies the accusation and, if proven to be untrue, Marguerite will be put to death. After filming around Beynac, Fénelon and Monpazier the crew moved on to the south of France, before ending in Ireland. Using over 800 local extras and generating some 10,000 overnight stays, the film provided an out-of-season boost to the area, and fingers are crossed that visitor numbers will show a similar bounce after the film is released.

News from around the region...

Water Survey

If you saw a helicopter with a 20m antenna suspended underneath in recent weeks, you were witnessing the beginning of a 6-year study into the evolution of groundwater across four départments. The aerial survey will record rock types based on their electrical resistance around Angoulême (16), from Périgueux to Sarlat (24) and around Agen (47 and 46). Geophysicists will use this data to model the geological layers up to 400m in depth, with supplemental data from boreholes, watercourses and field analysis. In addition, Bordeaux University stores sample cores dating back to 1838 for comparison. BRGM (the national geological society) will also consult with key water users to build a picture of current and future needs around the Aquitaine basin which can then be used to predict future water availability.

Entry to the Panthéon

The ‘Osez Joséphine’ campaign, featured in our June edition, has been successful and Josephine Baker will be honoured with entry to the Panthéon for her work with the Résistance and for her civil rights campaigning. In keeping with her family’s wishes, her body will remain beside that of her late husband; instead an empty tomb and plaque bearing her name will be installed at a ceremony at the end of November. She is both the first artist and the first black woman to be honoured in this way and it is hoped that her entry will become a symbol of reconciliation which will resonate in modern France. The current owner of Josephine’s former home at the Château des Milandes, Angélique de Labarre (a member of the Saint-Exupéry family) continues to research Baker’s life. The site has been awarded the title Maison des Illustres, a French heritage classification for sites which conserve and illustrate the lives of key individuals in France’s history.

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St Jean de Mon


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St Gilles Croi

LA ROCHE SUR-YON Les Sables d’Olonne




La Tranche sur Mer



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Sévre Niort


News from around the region...

UK not GB

Puy Du Fou

Vendee ´ Summer Season

According to Vendée Tourism, businesses in the département have benefited from the decision of many French families to holiday at home, with 4 in 5 saying that this year was as good as or better than 2020. British tourists were noticeably missing but their absence was made up for by Dutch, Germans and Belgians. Campsites and lodges proved very popular although bookings were left very late. ‘This year, last-minute reservations have become last-second reservations,’ said Franck Chadeau, president of the Vendée federation of outdoor hotels. The same was true for gîtes, where nearly all the owners surveyed by the tourist board said that bookings were the same as or better than last year. Tourism sites had more mixed results, following the introduction of the Pass Sanitaire. Puy du Fou showed a 15% increase, but combined with the changeable weather in early August, others found numbers waning later in the season. Cycling has taken off with nearly half a million cyclists counted on the 1,800km of cycle routes, while the nature reserves also saw a 19% increase in visitors over the last ‘normal’ year in 2019.

The annual wildlife documentary festival held at Ménigoute (79) is on the calendar for 26 October1 November. Screenings, visits, conferences and exhibitions are on the agenda. For details, see



© Stéphane Audra

The UK has introduced a new rule specifying that if you intend to drive your British vehicle in the EU, you will need a UK sticker, as the official international sign has changed from GB to UK. The government site specifies: “You will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following: a GB identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), a Euro symbol, a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales, numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier. If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag you do not need a UK sticker.” Make sure any visitors from the UK are aware as being found without the correct international identifier can lead to on-the-spot fines.

Deux-sèvres & Vendée

News from around the region...

Clean Water

In Vendée, 90% of drinking water comes from surface water, compared to 30% on average across France. This makes the water provision very sensitive to climate change, so the département is looking for ways not only to reduce wastage but to produce drinking water from wastewater. In a European first, an innovative project costing 19.5 million euros - the Jourdain programme - will add a refining unit to the Sables-d’Olonne wastewater plant so that water which would otherwise be discharged into the sea can undergo further treatment before being fed into a bed of vegetation upstream from the Lac du Jaunay. Once the water reaches the lake it will pass through the drinking water production plant before reaching the taps of households in the west of the département. Expected to be commissioned in 2023, several months of trials will take place before the project goes live.

Do you live in Deux-Sèvres and have children aged between 3-17 years who take part in sports or cultural activities? The Conseil Départemental are re-running their ‘Pass Culture Sport 79’ programme, giving a 30€ grant for up to two activities practised at least twice per month per child. Just fill in the form on before the end of the year and the money will be paid directly into your bank account.

UK Returns

If you are thinking about returning to live in the UK with your non-UK spouse then keep an eye on the changing rules around immigration now that freedom of movement has ended. Campaign group British in Europe negotiated a grace period ending on 29 March 2022 which allows EU partners to return to the UK and register for Pre-Settled Status (PSS). After this date EU spouses will need to follow the same arduous process as non-UK spouses who have not lived in the EU and apply for a family residence permit. This involves providing a significant volume of evidence: somewhere to live, minimum earning requirement or savings of the UK partner, evidence of a durable family life, etc. While some families rush to take advantage of the grace period, with the additional rights that PSS confers, in practice it is not straightforward, with conflicting advice on how and when to apply for visas and PSS from the Home Office, and long backlogs. The delay for some families is currently over 5 months, so the clock is ticking if you are in this situation and want to be resident in the UK before the end of March. If you think you may be affected, then the advice is to follow BiE as they press for clarity, and to start planning now. Note that British citizens can return to the UK at any point without the need for additional paperwork, this only affects those with non-UK spouses or close family members.

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





Abbaye de Solignac

Seventeen years after the last clergy departed, Bénédictine monks are being welcomed to the abbey near Limoges, having outgrown their current home in Burgundy. In future 12 monks will live at the abbey, which was founded in 632 by Saint-Eloi, and will be the first contemplative community to live in Limousin since the French Revolution. Their peace might be short-lived, though, as a grant from the Heritage Loto is also on its way to help them renovate the Porche Saint-Jean, which served as an entry for pilgrims of SaintJacques, at the rear of the abbey. One fly in the ointment is the use of the three hectares of land belonging to the abbey beside the Briance river, and which is currently the site for local markets and school activities, but which the monks will need to farm. The abbey itself will remain open to the public, while the monks will live and pray five times a day in a separate area.

Slowing Down

If you drive into the centre of Limoges, you will see new signs reducing the speed on side roads to 30km/h, as the council try to reduce the number of accidents. Some main access routes will remain at 50km/h while the hyper-centre will be reduced to 20km/h. While this might improve safety, a recent survey by France’s climate agency CEREMA suggests that cars emit nearly 19% more carbon dioxide at 30km/h compared to 50 km/h at a constant speed. Meanwhile in Poitiers, the town hall is experimenting with making one major route into the city one-way to prioritise cyclists. Rue du Faubourg du Pont-Neuf links the university and hospital with the city centre and carries 15,700 vehicles each day. For three weeks the road will be one-way out of the city and will then be reversed to see which works better, with a final decision due in early 2022.

Historial du Poitou

The Historial du Poitou at the Château de Montssur-Guesnes (86) will open on 26 May 2022, ten years after the idea was first discussed. Its fun and educational exhibitions will guide visitors through a thousand years of Poitou history, including the tale of Aliénor d’Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart of England, and the Hundred Years War. Within easy distance of Futuroscope, Center Parcs, l’Abbaye de Fontevraud and the Loire Valley, which between them attract 4 million tourists each year, the hope is to welcome 40,000 visitors annually to the Historial. Costing 10.5 million euros, the focus has been upon creating an interactive, immersive visit which will appeal primarily to families and children. Local presenter and supporter of the project, Frédérick Gersal explained: “It will be a living, modern site presenting history in a new way, halfway between the traditional Loire châteaux and the new technologies of Futuroscope – a place of curiosity, discovery and discussion.”

News from around the region...

Plant Fair

The 5th edition of the Saint-Junien ‘Fête des Plantes, Jardin et de la Nature’ will take place on 24 October, and with over 130 exhibitors it’s fast becoming a popular fixture on the gardening calendar. Forty nurseries offer everything from seeds and bulbs to fruit trees, while other specialists and artisans will share their knowledge and wares. Throughout the day there are free events: conferences on soil treatments, interactive workshops (pottery, composting, protecting the environment), a fauna/flora hike at 10am and an exhibition of orchids. Snacks are available all day with a paella lunch menu for 12€, and entry to La Châtelard de Saint-Junien costs 2€ (free for under-18s). Don’t forget your Pass Sanitaire!

© Jean-Christophe Dupuy

Freshwater Filterers

Local Mornings

Would you like to hear about all the positive things happening around your area each morning, and improve your French at the same time? Watch the new morning show on France 3 ‘Vous êtes Formidables’ which has different versions for Poitou-Charentes, Limousin and Aquitaine. Watch for free via the France3 website at 9.05am Monday to Friday, as it promises to showcase local people sharing their positive actions and passions, as well as regular short films about the region. Presenter Vanessa Finot (pictured) began her journalistic career on ‘Demain!’ and has now settled in Limoges.

Visitors to the lake at Bussière-Galant (87) have been surprised to see creatures that they mistakenly thought to be ‘freshwater jellyfish’. In fact, these are not single creatures but colonies of small Bryozoan organisms, Pectinatella magnifica. Known as ‘jelly-balls’ in America, they are often found attached to objects, but they can also be free floating and reach up to 30cm in diameter. They are an invasive species, arriving in Limousin during the last twenty years but, unlike some other new introductions, they are harmless and can even be helpful, as they filter particles from the lake water, feeding on the organic matter. During the summer small larvae are released which swim away and establish new colonies nearby. In autumn each colony produces thousands of tiny, seed-like disks which remain dormant over winter and germinate the following spring.



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18 | living places to visit

living places to visit | 17

Le Capitole (currently undergoing restoration works)

La Vie en Rose

photo left: © © Elsa Cyril Agence d’Attractivité de Toulouse Métropole


here’s something compelling about the historic brick-built towns of the sunny south. Perhaps it’s the awareness that they were constructed from the very soil on which they stand; ‘terre cuite’ says it all – but there’s more. Spend some time in Albi, Montauban or Toulouse and from dawn to dusk you’ll witness a gradual transformation, as pastel pinks turn to fiery reds and finally cool mauves, a hypnotic process which accompanies daily life here and which continues to captivate even long-term residents. Toulouse has long been the most important town in south west France, and can trace its origins back to

We visit the vibrant city of Toulouse, a symphony of pale pink brick in the Languedoc. WORDS: ROGER MOSS

Neolithic times, long before the Celtic settlement of Tolosa was established on the banks of the River Garonne during the 3rd century BC. A century later the Romans arrived and set about transforming the site into one of the most important and most prosperous cities in la Provincia Romana (occupied Gaul), with a population of around 15-20,000. The fall of the Empire in 476AD ended the Roman occupation, and the city then became the royal capital of the Visigoths, whose territories, granted by Roman Emperor Honorius, would eventually embrace south west France and most of Spain. Today the city’s origins are clearly evident in much of what we see in

and around Vieux Toulouse, not least the use of bricks as the preferred building material (see our factfile below). The results, as you’ll discover, can be spectacular, as is the case with two medieval towers which dominate the skyline. The oldest belongs to the UNESCO-listed Basilique Saint-Sernin, Europe’s largest Romanesque building. Consecrated in 1096, its vast interior was conceived to accommodate pilgrims heading to and from Santiago de Compostela, and its cruciform layout gives it more the feel of a cathedral than a basilica. Outside you can see how its construction began with stone detailing among the brickwork, but at some point that was

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18 | living places to visit

Le Pont-Neuf

abandoned and it was brick virtually all the way up. Likewise, the 13th century octagonal tower was begun in Romanesque style, but when that fell out of fashion two final stages added a Gothic touch, later topped off with a tall spire (flèche). Down below, the mortal remains of Sernin and several other Saints still lie peacefully in the crypt of this dazzling terracotta tour-de-force. The other prominent landmark is the ornate and widely imitated 45m-high tower of the Couvent des Jacobins, this time in full-on 12-14th century

‘‘Fires continued burning for three days, consuming three-quarters of the city’’

Languedoc Gothic. To see what makes this an essential visit step into the nave, where much of what looks like stone is actually cunningly disguised brickwork. The 28m high central columns (the tallest ever achieved in Gothic architecture) are the real thing, however, and divide the interior in two while supporting the visual fireworks happening overhead. Completed in 1287, a network of slender polychrome rib vaults culminates in a spectacular ‘palm-tree’ vault above the circular apse (chevet). Its complexity meant that nothing like it would ever be attempted elsewhere. Today it is world-famous – something to ponder amid the serenity of the large, beautifully restored cloisters. Despite the popular image of ‘the pink city’, the non-religious architecture of Toulouse was for centuries largely constructed using humble timber and cob. On 7 May 1463, however, fire broke out in a boulangerie and spread rapidly to nearby buildings. Fanned by high winds, the fires continued burning for three days, consuming

three-quarters of the city and creating an unplanned opportunity for wholesale redevelopment, this time in fireproof brick. When France embraced the spirit of the Italian Renaissance Toulouse naturally followed suit, creating a host of new architecture financed largely by entrepreneurs who developed a highly profitable trade in ’pastel’ – rich light-fast blue textile dyes extracted locally from woad leaves. The city’s Renaissance aspirations also produced a series of increasingly extravagant private mansions (hôtels particulières), of which at least twenty still survive. They’re all upstaged, though, by the city’s grandest Italianate creation – Le Capitole, which overlooks the vast Place du Capitole, scene of the execution of Henri II de Montmorency, Gouverneur du Languedoc in 1632. Le Capitole was founded in the 12th century then embellished and enlarged through the centuries, culminating in the present 135m-long palatial façade added in 1750. Within lie the Hôtel de Ville, the council chamber and the Théatre du Capitole de Toulouse, home of the city’s opera company and symphony orchestra. The upper floor contains a series of sumptuously appointed staterooms decorated with huge 19th century canvases depicting local historical events. The setting really is in the very heart of things; leave the square on foot and you’ll be plunged immediately into a different network of narrow streets,

photo top left: © haptag @HaptagMedia; bottom left & bottom right: © Rémi Deligeon - Agence d’Attractivité ; top center: © kathryn dobson

Basilique Saint-Sernin

living places to visit | 19 Place du Capitole

L’Écluse Saint-Pierre, Canal de Brienne

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20 | living places to visit Rochers (37) Cathédrale and Place SaintÉtienne

whichever direction you choose. Toulouse is vast, and exploring it is time well spent, revealing a string of different quartiers: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Cyprien, Bourse-Daurade, Saint-Étienne, Les Carmes, Les Chalets... each has its own distinct, village-like character, and the architectural variations show just what’s possible using terre cuite bricks and Roman tiles. Another of the pink city’s emblematic sights is the Pont-Neuf, now the city’s oldest bridge. Begun by François I in 1545 to permit troops to cross the Garonne to defend the Spanish border, it employed techniques developed

by the Romans. Between its broad, shallow arches large circular openings (occuli) allow flood waters to pass freely, a feature which enabled it to resist the great floods of 1875, which destroyed the city’s other river crossings. At sunset, when the rooftops turn to gold, there’s no better viewpoint from which to appreciate the skyline of this great city. Not that all the great attractions are necessarily old – or static. The team responsible for Les Machines de l’île in Nantes does equally fantastic things down in Toulouse. At La Halle de La Machine you can ride a giant mechanical minotaur weighing 47 La Cité de l’Espace family attraction park

tonnes, hop on the back of L’Arraignée, a giant spider whose mechanical legs span around 20m or ride the Manège Carré Sénart – a carousel bristling with fantastical mechanical creatures. There are lots of smaller creatures, too, it’s all family-friendly and you’ll learn how everything is created (next to emerge will be the Dragon de Calais). Even the location is remarkable: La Piste des Géants, former runway of the Montaudron aerodrome of l’Aeropostale, whose pioneering airmail pilots included author Antoine de Saint-Éxupéry (as featured in LIVING this time last year). Their story is recounted beside La Halle La Halle de La Machine’s giant mechanical minotaur

living places to visit | 21 bottom left: © Manuel Huynh; bottom right: © Arnaud Späni - Agence d’Attractivité

So many bricks - but why?

The decision to use bricks rather than stone was driven not by aesthetics but by their fire-resistant qualities and local geology. Around 10,000 years ago glacial activity altered the course of the River Garonne, leaving extensive deposits of clay. Stone would therefore have been hard to find locally, while clay was plentiful, and its high levels of iron oxide produce characteristic pink hues after firing of both ’briques foraines’ or ‘toulousaines’ and classic canal roofing tiles. Despite having been easy to make they were never particularly cheap, but they’re durable and are still produced today, for both heritage restoration work and new structures which must live in harmony with historic surroundings. Local production uses clays quarried during early autumn. For a wealth of insight into the city’s brick-built architecture see:

de La Machine at L’Envol des Pionnières, which preserves a 1924 Breguet biplane as flown by Saint-Éxupéry. You can also get hands-on with a taste of the long solo flights in a flight simulator whose cockpit and controls replicate those of the Breguet. There are countless other reasons to visit Toulouse, surely one of the very best short break destinations in all France. Perhaps the greatest attraction, though, is simply being there and immersing yourself in the vibrant buzz of ‘la ville rose’.

Other Toulouse Star Sights Place Saint-Étienne: you’ll feel like you’re on a film set. Canal du Midi: follow it all the way to the Mediterranean, by bike or boat. Jardin des Plantes: wander among 7Ha of botanical gardens created in 1794. Musée Saint-Raymond: the city’s archaeological museum and Garden of Antiquities. Les Abattoirs: now a lively modern and contemporary arts museum. Cité de l’Espace: a celebration of the city’s aerospace industry. Aeronautical Museum: step aboard Concorde and other aircraft, near the Airbus factory.

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18 | living places to visit

The 12th century Lanterne des Morts de Sarlat (right) in Dordogne

Eterna F ame We celebrate more mysterious ancient monuments found in our towns and villages

living living places places to to visit visit || 23 21


erhaps not surprisingly, the more we discover about the world around us the more we seem drawn to mysteries from the past. In a previous issue of LIVING we looked at the strange medieval crosses often found in rural churchyards, and known to historians as ‘croixhosannières’. As we discovered, they’re largely confined to the west of our region, as are examples of a similar architectural feature with which they’re often confused. While the slightly sinister-sounding ’lanternes des morts’

can be found all over France, by far the highest concentration is right here in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, among the ancient territories of Limousin, Poitou and Saintonge. Like the ‘croix-hosannières’, most take the form of tall stone columns, but look more closely at what they support and you’ll see that instead of a symbolic cross they’re surmounted by a chamber with openings on all sides. However, their purpose was not, as you might expect, to permit daylight to illuminate the interior but to allow light to shine from within – a now-forgotten

practice with some ghostly overtones. Today a few lanternes des morts stand in or near the heart of villages, but many were dismantled then reassembled on the outskirts of communities during the 18th and 19th centuries, when public health concerns prompted numerous cemeteries to be relocated. Wherever we encounter them, the lanternes’ presence evokes a period when graveyards were widely believed to be fraught with danger during hours of darkness, not least from restless spirits lingering among the graves. Since few people would

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The Ossuaire de Douaumont was constructed around a lanterne

24 | living places to visit Le Dorat’s war memorial takes the form of a lanterne

Fenioux (17) has the most elegant example in all France

venture into such places at night, the lanternes contained an oil lamp which shone to safeguard the graves from the Devil’s dark attentions. Lighting the lamp (or ‘fanal’) at dusk each evening obviously required the tall columns to be hollow, so larger examples contain narrow spiral staircases to their upper chambers, while others involved rather more hazardous climbs and descents using nothing more than simple footholds cut into the stonework. The precise dates of their construction

are unknown, but there are striking similarities between the decorative touches which were frequently added and those of the 12/13th century Romanesque churches in whose graveyards they’re most commonly found. In fact, at some locations the medieval architects actually incorporated a lanterne des morts into the design of the church itself (architectural discussions refer to ‘lanternons’ or ‘lanterneaux’), making them less immediately obvious than a The 11/12th century cemetery at Pers (79)

A classic lanterne des morts in Pranzac (16)

The Église SaintPierre d’Aulnay has two lanternes

lone column standing sentinel among the graves. You can see a particularly interesting example of the former arrangement at the magnificent Romanesque Église Saint-Pierre at Aulnay-de-Saintonge (UNESCO), which actually possesses two on the western façade, overlooking the graveyard (which contains a croix-hosannière). Elsewhere conventional column-style structures rose even higher. The tallest in all France is found in the heart of Saint-Pierre d’Oléron, and was an early recipient of a Monument Historique listing (1886). Constructed during the 12th century amid a medieval cemetery, the site is today occupied by Place Camille Mémain, where the 23.4m tall octagonal column sits upon a former ossuary mound which adds an extra metre or so to the overall height. Inside the column is a spiral staircase to the upper chamber, and the lanterne is

thought to have been linked at the time of its construction to the nearby Église Saint-Pierre by an subterranean passage. Back on the mainland at Fenioux is another celebrated Saintonge example. Believed to date from the 12th century, it actually stands on what appears to have been an earlier pagan site, archaeological excavations having revealed druidic objects from around the 6th century. The height is impressive, a cluster of 11 slender columns concealing a 38-step spiral staircase to a vaulted upper chamber, the overall effect being so striking that in 1994 a replica was erected at the southbound entry to the Lozay service area on the nearby A10 autoroute. Not that Charente-Maritime has all the best locations. In fact it would be hard to imagine a more idyllic spot for a lanterne des morts than that of Rancon, a peaceful village in Haute-Vienne,

living places to visit | 25

high above the leafy meanders of the River Gartempe. Tucked away behind a cheerful Mairie and a rugged église fortifiée is a small public garden, where you’ll discover a modest late-12th century example hewn from local granite and mounted on a circular base (taking the overall height to around 6 metres). The reason for the apparently unlikely setting, within the protective embrace of a pair of mighty ancient oaks, was that this was once a medieval cemetery, which was relocated towards the end of the 19th century. Rancon’s simple architectural style is typical of most lanternes des morts, but further south in Sarlat-la-Canéda (24) you’ll find something decidedly untypical behind the Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos in the cemetery of Saint-Benoît. You can’t miss it – a cylindrical two-storey stone tower with a tall cone-shaped summit

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26 | living places to visit Rochers (37)

Where to find them...

The 12th century granite lanterne at Rancon (87).

Charente (16): Angoulême (Saint-André) 16000 Brigueuil 16420 Cellefrouin 16260 Pranzac 16110

Charente-Maritime (17): Aulnay-de-Saintonge 17470 Fenioux 17350 Lozay 17330 Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron 17310

Creuse (23):

whose decorative bands give it the appearance of having a further four stages. At ground level you can enter a round funerary chapel whose elegant stone rib vaults are supported by six Gothic arches, above which is a second chamber and an age-old puzzle: its window openings are so slender that it’s inaccessible, calling into question its intended purpose. It’s conceivable that the Lanterne des Morts de Sarlat was constructed to commemorate the Saint-Pierre d’Oléron’s lanterne is the tallest in France

visit of Saint Bernard in 1147, since the structure has also been referred to as the Tour Saint-Bernard. Like the suggestion that there’s an ossuary chamber below the chapel, we might never know, but in 1861 the tower received Monument Historique listing and remains one of the town’s most celebrated historic sites. Given the enduring power of their symbolism (and the age-old practice of lighting candles in memory of departed loved ones) it seems fitting that more modern lanternes des morts should sometimes be found in military cemeteries. The ultimate expression of this desire is unquestionably the stone tower which lies at the heart of the vast Ossuaire de Douaumont (Meuse), created to commemorate those who fell during the Battle of Verdun in December 1916. Over a century later, the lantern at its 46 metre summit continues to shine each night over the sea of war graves and the adjacent former battlefield. Much closer to home you’ll find a more modest lanterne des morts at Le Dorat (87), also in the form of a war memorial. Erected beside the Collégiale Saint-Pierre in 1929, its crisp, elegant lines reflect the Art Déco period of its conception, its sombre mood a result of having been sculpted in cool grey kersantite – a tough and enduring Breton granite which makes an interesting comparison with the local variety used in the collegiate church. The location is just 20km or so NW of Rancon, so you could easily

Crocq 23260 Croze 23500 (Parc du Château de Maslaurent) Felletin 23500 Saint-Agnant-de-Versillat 23300 Saint-Goussaud 23430 La Souterraine 23300

Dordogne (24): Atur 24000 Bourdeilles 24310 Brantôme 24310 Carlux 24310 Cherveix-Cubus 24390 Sarlat-la-Canéda 24200

Gironde (33): Arcachon 33120 Liborne 33500

Deux-Sèvres (79): Pers 79190 St-Maixent-l’Ecole 79400 Saint-Varent 79330 Verruyres 79310

Vienne (86): Antigny 86310 Château-Larcher 86065 Journet 86290 Montmorillon 86500 Moussac 86150 Poitiers (Cimitière de la Pierre Levée)

Haute-Vienne (87): Cognac-la-Forêt 87310 Coussac-Bonneval 87500 Le Dorat (2) 87210 Les Cars 87230 Oradour-Saint-Genest 87210

combine the two visits. That said, all our lanternes des morts are worth getting to know, and the very fact that many of the beliefs and events which prompted their widespread creation remain uncertain only adds to their fascination.

living place names | 29 27

A Sense of Place When passing through our towns and villages, have you ever wondered about their names? As Jean-Marie Cassagne reveals, each one has its own meaning...


oponymy is a fascinating subject, which essentially focuses on the evolution of place names, and what originally inspired them. Sometimes the origins are obvious. Lille, for example, was once l’île (the island), for the city was founded on an island surrounded by the river Deûle. Closer to home, it’s no surprise that La Rochelle was born on a small rocky site, although guessing the origins of names like Bergerac, Royan or Angoulême might be more challenging. The toponymy of our region is fascinating, so we’ll embark on a trip through history. Many places already had their names before the Gauls arrived. We might not know what languages the pre-Gaulish people spoke but occasional traces can be found in toponymy. For instance, early tribes used a word which sounded like born and meant “spring”, and which survives in village names like Born (24), Bourneau (85) or Bournizeau (79). Another pre-Celtic root common in the region is gar- / kar- (stone or rock), which gave us place names such as Les Caires (87), Les Groies (17), La Galibe (24), or La Grève (86). In hilly areas we find another pre-Gaulish root: kukk (a summit, round topped mound), which reveals the origin of Cuq (79), Cogulot (24), Cugand (85) or Juillac-le-Coq (16). What’s truly remarkable is that all these roots have survived for over twenty centuries. Not surprisingly, the Gauls also left us lots of place names. The city

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Douaumont sdasdasdasdasd sdasdasdasd

24 | living places to visit sdsdasdd sdasdasdasdasd sdasdasdasd

of Niort is in fact an ancient novum ritum (which in the Gaulish language translates as ‘new ford’), for Niort was established near a ford on the river Sèvre Niortaise. In the countryside you’ll often come across road signs mentioning Le Breuil, from the Gaulish brogilo (wood or forest). Other examples include Nieul or Nieulles, whose Gaulish origins lie in novo ialo (new clearing) where trees were felled to accommodate a farm or hamlet. You’ll also find Gaulish remnants in our cities: Limoges owes its name to the Lemovices tribe, Périgueux belonged to the Pétrocores and Poitiers to the Pictaves (who left their linguistic imprint on the Poitou region), while Saintes was the city of the Santones. As for Angoulême, the name first appeared as the Gaulish Ecolisma, which, loosely translated, meant “town which is well watered” – logical, since the Charente River flows at the foot of the fortified city. A document dated from 380 then mentions Iculisma, while in one of his 6th century manuscripts Grégoire de Tours refers to Egolisma. Not surprisingly, the Roman conquest and settlement influenced the toponymy. An obvious example is the Gallo-Roman villa – originally a large agricultural compound comprising a farm, outbuildings and workers’ accommodation. Most villae took the name of their owners, a certain Connius founding a domain known as Conniacum – which would in time become Cognac. Also from the Roman period is the suffix “acum”. Chauvigny (86) was originally Calviniacum (Calvinius’s domain), Jumilhac (87) belonged to Jumilius, Gémozac (17) was the property of Gemutius, while Périgny (17) began as

living place names | 29

Patriniacum, the property of Patrinius. In the South we find that “-acum” has generally evolved into “ac”, while in the North, it became “­ y”. Such place names left by the Romans are to be found in medieval manuscripts: Pons (17) owes its name to the Latin pontes (bridges) and possessed several timber bridges spanning the river Seugne. Nearby Aigrefeuille (17) derives from the Latin acrofolium (holly). Similarly, Vauzelle (79) is a corruption of valicella (very small valley) and Grammont (85) was an ancient grandis mons (large hill). After the Romans departed Latin continued to be used, but became corrupted, giving us place names such as Chabannais (16) which derives from low Latin capanna (hut or cabin). Similarly, names like Couderc (common in Haute-Vienne and denoting enclosed meadows) derive from late Latin coudercum, in turn inherited from Gaulish coterico (a meadow which all villagers had the right to use). Les Essards (and Essarts) are also found in our region and recall forests cleared to create new fields – a corruption of low Latin exsartum, past tense of exsarire (to hoe or weed). In Medieval times familiar names like La Brousse or La Broce began as old French brosse, meaning a place covered by bushes or thickets, uprooted during the 12-14th century to feed or house a fast-growing population. Allied to this, La Loge refers to a foresters’ hut. Elsewhere names like La Touche (a small, wooded area), La Noue (rich and humid earth) or Le Gât (infertile ground) also reflect our ancestors’ environment. As for hamlets, a suffix such as -ière, -erie or -ie refers to their founders, having been simply added

to a family name (e.g. La Massonnerie was the agricultural domain of the Masson family). Even more commonly, some 12 % of French municipalities bear names beginning with Saint- (or Sainte­-), often originally a reference to a chapel or a church around which a community settled. Most popular were Martin, Jean and Pierre (Saint-Martin occurs throughout France, every département having at least one). However, more obscure and local Saints were sometimes chosen to protect the churches and would otherwise have been completely forgotten. One local example is SaintEutrope (16), honouring a 1st century Saint who evangelised the Saintonge. Then there’s Saint-Maixent (79 and 85), a souvenir of Maxentius, who founded a religious establishment in the 4th century, while Saint-Pardoux (24) celebrates Pardulf, who lived as a hermit in neighbouring Limousin. Our journey through history has mentioned but a tiny percentage of our place names. To put the vastness of the topic into perspective, France has over 110,000 inhabited places – each of whose names reveals something about its own story. Local linguist Jean-Marie Cassagne is director of studies at the Section internationale de l’École de gendarmerie de Rochefort. Former director of the French Cultural Center in Miami, he has published around forty books of humour, toponymy and linguistics, both in France and the US.

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30 | living places to visit

living places to visit | 21

PHOTOS: BOTTOM right: © SMIDDEST/Gilles Vilquin; rest: © DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine/Gilles Vilquin

Phare de Cordouan F

ollowing a 4-year campaign to have France’s oldest lighthouse recognised as a World Heritage Site, UNESCO has finally added the tower to its prestigious list. Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, the lighthouse sits on a rocky plateau in the Gironde estuary just off Verdon-sur-Mer (33) and is considered by UNESCO to be a masterpiece of maritime signalling. It combines Renaissance architectural features with technological milestones

in lighthouse construction, and was conceived to uphold the tradition of famous beacons of antiquity, but in a period when both coastal and ocean navigation were increasing. The beacons therefore provided Mariners with vital territorial markers and instruments of safe passage. During the late 18th century an increase in height and changes to the light chamber extended the range of the light’s visibility, in line with progress of science and technology of the

period. Its architectural forms drew inspiration from both ancient models and the architectural principles of France’s engineering school L’École des Ponts et Chaussées. Achieving the World Heritage Site label follows a 2-million euro investment by the State and local authorities to improve the access path, repair stonework damaged by salt spray and restore the chapel. Visitor information and more:

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28 | living witches

hubBle, Bubble... t

he roaring success of the Harry Potter franchise, cosmetics and potions like Garancia’s ‘Huile Ensorcelante’, the twitch of Samantha’s nose in ‘Bewitched’... they all hide the much more sinister, mysterious side of sorcerers and witches and the cruel fate that was reserved for them. Take the witches’ broomstick, for example. Today children squeal with glee as they imagine it flying through the air, but it was actually born not only from the distortion of a symbol of domestication by women who didn’t ‘fit the mould’ – spinsters, widows, divorcees, etc. – it’s also a phallic reference to what witches were widely believed to steal and then hide in birds’ nests scattered around their homes... Happily, fear of witches who lived alone surrounded only by toads and cats, is slowly being replaced with admiration for their defiance of subservience. But before feminists began writing in the French magazine ‘Sorcières’ (or demonstrating in 2017 in Paris and Toulouse with pointy hats and ‘Macron au Chaudron’ banners) simply being called a witch was an accusation which for many women – and men, too – warranted torture and death by burning. Throughout the ages a climate of fear of unexplained events

living witches | 33

Carrelets near Fort Lupin (right)

produced witch-hunts in which crazed fanaticism instilled a need to point fingers and designate scapegoats for gruesome collective punishment: a bad hailstorm destroyed the crops? Easy – just burn the witches. Most of the time those who were shunned for their anti-social, antiChristian behaviour were women. In 1028 Guillaume de Taillefer died in Angoulême from poisoning after drinking a herbal concoction given to him by an old woman, so it was concluded that she was obviously a witch. The proof? She had a lot of magical statuettes at home. And in 1619, when the Las-Coudourleiras mill near Bordeaux mysteriously stopped working, there was only one explanation: local witch Jeanne ‘Gâche’ Noals must have cursed it (so off to the stake with her, too). Sorcery was frequently used as an excuse to condemn people who were

‘in the way’ in land disputes, which would then be resolved by proving that a neighbour was a witch (or that bad crops were due to evil women casting spells). Every catastrophe needed a scapegoat, so in 1453 even the plague was blamed on a group of women in Marmande (47), while in the 17th century Pierre de Lancre, one of the Aquitaine’s most celebrated experts in ‘demonology’, scanned the region to find witches and problematic citizens, encouraging people to inform on each other. Perhaps not purely coincidentally, he also happened to be a Parliamentary Advisor in Bordeaux. Political bias aside, though, fear of the power of witches was both real and deeply rooted. Under English rule in 1450 a witch in La Chalosse (40) called Domenge de Casalhot died before her sentence could be carried out, but the Lord who condemned her was so worried about her influence that he demanded

that her remains be burnt anyway. In his book ‘La Sorcellerie à Travers les Siècles’ Jacques Dubourg explains that in the Bordelais and Landes regions there was a particular category of witches called ‘les Hantaoumes’, who genuinely terrified local populations, especially children. They were said to be little monsters who managed to get into houses through keyholes, throwing themselves on those who slept and pushing down on their chest

Tales of witchcraft have been sending shivers down the spines of children for centuries, but behind our Halloween antics are stories which reveal a much darker part of our history … WORDS: JESSICA KNIPE

and stomach to prevent them from speaking or even breathing. Their victims would awaken exhausted, often on the floor. In Périgord witches took on the shapes of white, furry, deer-shaped animals called ‘Litres’, who would steal people away at every opportunity. The idea of witches controlling the weather was also powerful, and in 1818 the tribunal of Sarlat saw the trial of some inhabitants of Campagnac-lès-Quercy who had exhumed the body of a presumed witch because her presence in the local cemetery was causing hailstorms and destroying crops. In all up to 100,000 men and women have been sentenced to death around the world for being witches – something to think about when you choose your next Halloween costume. Laugh at the old hag if you like, but don’t ever forget that she might just have the power to climb through your keyhole at any time, perhaps to claim her next ‘broomstick’…P

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30 | living witches 34 If you are afraid of ghosts, don’t search for the hidden treasure at the Forteresse de Blanquefort!

Spells for Shunned Spinsters Witches were feared for their powerful curses, but young girls also turned to them for potions and spells to solve problems. In the Bordeaux region, witches had a few solutions for ladies who had fought with their lovers or wanted to win back the heart of a man who had shunned them. One method saw girls throwing coarse salt into the fireplace three times, saying: “I desire the return of the one with whom I fight”.

haunted houses our region is full of creepy mansions which were said to have been visited by spirits, both good and evil. You’ll have to visit them yourself to see if the curse still holds.

Another told them to plant three needles into a candle, to be placed at midnight in the fireplace and lit, while saying: “I desire the return of the one who has left me”. When the candle had completely burnt down the lover would return.

In the 19th century locals in the village of Pey (40) reported scary sounds coming late at night from a house neighbouring the presbytery, with loud banging on the walls, doors slamming shut, high whistles and mysterious noises of clothes being chopped by scissors. Apparently you can still hear them if you listen very carefully. In the Château de Marouatte, in Grand Brassac (24) noises of chains in the attic and on the stairs (along with banging on the walls) was considered proof that the Devil had visited. To ward him off a belfry was constructed, as in many other locations at the time. The bell-tower of Belvès, for example, was built in 1679 and bears the inscription ‘Demonia Expello’ (I banish demons). In 1887 an abandoned mill on the Route de Douzevielle in Saint-Justin (40) suddenly started working in the middle of the day, without any human intervention. To this day no-one knows who was behind the wheel. The Forteresse de Blanquefort, in Bordeaux (33) (pictured above), was said to be haunted by spirits who guarded an underground treasure belonging to the Devil. But don’t go treasure hunting if you believe in ghosts; anyone who went looking for the treasure was rumoured to have met with an untimely death.

More complicated, but apparently also more efficient, is the spell that has you planting nails into a cow’s heart, saying: “I curse you for the suffering you have inflicted. You will only find peace once you have returned to me”. The heart must then be placed in a pot of fresh soil and boiled for three hours, before being carried on your head, at midnight, to a crossroads where it must be thrown behind you without looking back.

Cemeteries in the Saintonge (16, 17) are said to be guarded by the ‘Ganipotte’, who roams them at night, draped in white cloth. The Charentais say that one look into her fiery eyes brings eternal rest to the onlooker. She is particularly active on the holidays, apparently, and on Good Friday fear of her used to be so widespread that farmers wouldn’t work the soil in case she thought they were digging their own graves. At the Château de la Roche Courbon (17) the ghost of Aliénor, wife of Louis VII, is rumoured to appear sometimes between the two towers. Apparently she would sit by the Bouil Bleu lake to cry while Louis was off Crusading, and her tears turned the waters the same celestial blue as her eyes. The Château de Marouatte’s Aliénor d’Aquitaine is said to haunt the Château de la Roche Courbon

belfry was added to ward off the Devil

living witches | 35 31

Better Safe than Sorry

have to take as many steps as the horse had taken before it lost its shoe. The older the horseshoe, the better.

Warding off witches and evil spirits was common until the 19th century, and it’s still very much a tradition today. Here are a few ways local Aquitains protected themselves – perhaps you’ve seen few in your own town: A bull’s horn was placed above the fireplace to stop evil fairies getting in, and packets of salt were hung above the front door or around the necks of cattle, to avoid them being enchanted. Touching objects made of iron like keys would offer protection, so it was good to have a few hanging around, but none was more efficient than a horseshoe. Bordelais witches particularly feared them apparently, because if they met someone who had one in their possession they would

If you want to make sure the witches don’t come close when you’re out and about, sew some millet into the hem of your clothes. Men who worried about their young brides getting enchanted on the way to church would sprinkle millet in their shoes. You can also wear two pins in a cross formation. Worried about eating something cursed? Give the first spoonful to the cat. Or ward off spirits all year long by eating a fennel omelette at Easter. The best way to ward off witches in the region, apparently, was to show the ‘ithyphallic’ hand (a fist with the thumb placed between the index and the medius), saying: “Witch, I fear you, but eat chicken faeces; tomorrow or after Friday, the Devil will turn your skin inside out.”

devilish tales In 11th century Toulouse Angèle de la Barthe (left) claimed that an encounter with the Devil had led to her giving birth to a demon child with the head of a wolf and the body of a snake, and that she had to steal children at night to feed it their flesh. History doesn’t say whether or not this woman was of sound mind, but off she went to meet her maker, along with Anne-Marie de Georgel, who in 1355 claimed that the Devil came to her in the guise of a tall black man who, after blowing into her mouth, gave her the ability to fly and the knowledge of poisonous herbs and magic spells. Women with names like Garine, Saurelle and Astrugue were sentenced, mostly for “fornicating with the Devil”. In Carcassonne alone, between 1320 to 1350 no fewer than 400 witches were sentenced to death, some for the practice of alchemy, one for having buried an ant farm under a house, and others for practising “the evil art of mathematics” – something

Britain’s leading supplier

to which the church was then strongly opposed. In rare cases, such as the infamous ‘Loudun Possessions’ portrayed in Ken Russell’s censored film The Devils, a man is condemned and sentenced to death. In this sombre 17th century chapter of Aquitaine history Cardinal Richelieu launched a witchhunt against Father Urbain Grandier, who apparently had an entire convent of Ursuline nuns possessed in the town of Loudun (86). The fact that Grandier stood in the way of Louis XIII’s ideas for his town might have been purely circumstantial, of course.

The Loudun Possessions inspired Ken Russell’s ‘The Devils’

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36 | practical living

law&money << questions from our postbag...

Cryptocurrencies – how safe are they?


I have read a lot about cryptocurrencies - is this something that I should be investing in?


One could spend a lot of time reading up on how cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin work but still come away asking what they’re for or what they really are. It’s easy to be dismissive of cryptocurrencies – their ownership is mostly anonymous, and transactions are hard to trace or stop. They are an obviously useful way of moving money internationally without trace and, therefore, ideally suited to the needs of organised crime. Cryptocurrency prices are also notoriously volatile. Advocates of cryptocurrencies will probably accept that anyone holding a large amount is taking a major risk, as witnessed by

Bitcoin falling 40% in a fortnight back in May. The price has recovered most of the loss but investing in cryptocurrencies is clearly not for the faint-hearted. Nevertheless, a growing number of people, particularly the younger generation, see cryptocurrencies as a way to get rich quick and other investors are interested in owning just a small amount in their portfolios – if for no other reason than the fear of missing out. Online forums, such as WallStreetBets, are attracting millions of people to exchange tips and ideas in cryptocurrencies as if it were a de facto asset class. At a more practical level the adoption of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, for daily transactions is growing fast and they can be used to buy all kinds of things from Amazon vouchers, a coffee in the high street or a drink in a bar. Even the RNLI will accept Bitcoin as a charitable donation. The reality is that if someone is prepared to accept any cryptocurrency in exchange for goods and services, then it is a form of currency or, at the very least, a means of funding future consumption – which is

The basics of applying for French nationality

broadly similar to the concept of cash. Clearly, a growing number of governments around the world also believe it is a form of currency because they are passing laws to include cryptocurrency in tax returns. Last month, Luxembourg approved the first asset manager of a cryptocurrency fund. The fund will only be authorised to invest indirectly via derivatives and it will only be open to professional investors. Elsewhere, a Paris-based fund manager, Melanion Capital, has gained approval for an EU-regulated, UCITS compliant, ETF style fund to track a basket of crypto-related shares.

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;; amanda-johnson. 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 »

for your regional platform. Here we only have space for a brief overview of the key terms and general procedure. In order to apply for citizenship, I’m thinking of applying to nationality and préfectures you generally need to fulfil for French nationality – differ in how they apply the certain conditions and have lived where do I start? process. For the detail as it pertains permanently and continuously to your individual circumstances, in France for 5 years (this you will need to consult the French can be reduced under certain You are not alone, our Government website, starting postbag is full of similar circumstances, for instance if you questions. It is a complex with the questionnaire on studied at a French university). subject as there are several routes frN111, as well as the website There are two ways to apply


In support of the decision to include cryptocurrencies in their funds and services, some banks and investment management institutions are highlighting benefits including greater diversification and a hedge against inflation – both laudable objectives, providing any positive impact justifies the volatility. Those with less accommodating views of this relatively new asset class are unlikely to change their minds any time soon. If you are thinking about investing, it is essential to recognise that this would be a speculative undertaking and as such you should be prepared to accept significant volatility and the prospect of financial loss.

for citizenship: by decree or by declaration. Note that you don’t apply for dual nationality - you apply for French nationality and your home country rules dictate if you can hold more than one nationality (the UK allows dual nationality). Remember though, as a dual national you will be treated as French while you’re on French soil – you can’t choose which nationality best suits different circumstances!

practical living | 37 APPLYING BY DECLARATION Applying by declaration means that you are claiming something to which you’re legally entitled, providing you meet the conditions. This may be through: - being born in France to nonFrench parents, habitually having lived in France since 8 years old and now being 13-16 years old, ​- marriage to a French spouse for at least 4 years, - being the parent or grandparent of French children, over 65, and having lived in France for at least 25 years, or - living in France since the age of 6 and having a brother or sister who was (a) born in France of non-French parents, and (b) has acquired French nationality.

APPLYING BY DECREE Applying by decree is a request to become French – it is not a right, it is described as an ‘honour’, and the request can be

approved, refused or delayed. ​ This route is referred to on official sites as ‘naturalisation’. To apply, as well as meeting the minimum residency period, if you are a non-EU citizen you must hold a residence card. You need to have ‘sufficient and stable resources’, show your integration into the French way of life (you will be tested on this), and have a certificate confirming that you can speak and write French to B1 level.​

HOW TO APPLY You will need to apply via your

regional platform, for example Poitou-Charentes requests go to Niort, while Dordogne, Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne all go to Bordeaux. Read your regional platform’s website very carefully as they each have different procedures, and ensure you have any necessary language certificate and translated documents ready. Once your dossier has been accepted you will be visited by the local gendarmes and then receive an invitation to an interview. The details of the interview depend on whether the application

Show how much you

is by declaration or decree. If applying by decree you will be asked about your integration into French life as well as your knowledge of French culture, history, citizenship rights and responsibilities.. If you are successful your name will be published in the Journal Officiel some time later. You will receive a confirmation letter before being invited to a ceremony to receive your certificate of French citizenship. With Covid adding to administrative delays, combined with the increase in requests following Brexit, the process currently can take several years.

Kathryn Dobson is co-founder of France Rights and editor of Living Magazine.

Living at

38 | living family

Avec les enfants ––––––


–––––––– ––––––––––––––––


utumn ThePassage of --A -------------––––––––––––––––




Even though the year is winding down, the river never stops. The swallows are long gone, of course, but autumn is only half-done, and feathered migrants are still busy flying south to warmer climes. I keep an eye out overhead as we sweep leaves off the terrace and start to stack kindling, picking up every fallen branch and twig. It’s the time of year when the trees undress and reveal scenes in the landscape that we only half remember from the winter before. Each night the smell of wood smoke drifts across the rooftops. After the merry-go-round of summer it’s good to have some peace again in the village, and my favourite loaf from the boulangerie (a wholemeal creation with nuts and grains) is again available all morning – acquiring it no longer involves a 7.30am visit! The seemingly endless cavalcades of camper vans, motorcycle clubs, vintage cars and just curious tourists navigating the country roads

has finally ceased, and the lanes are quiet, with just the occasional tractor and passing local car. Life is good, the temperature is perfect and we’re enjoying the fire-pit after supper, its comforting warmth ensuring that we can still eat outdoors. While the kids are roasting marshmallows we sip a sneaky glass of mulled wine. After the madness of summer with all the family home the house suddenly seems empty again. Our eldest daughter has returned to London, our son has gone back to university in Bordeaux and school has resumed for the younger girls. The hallway floor is no longer full of discarded flip-flops and the sand that is always present, no matter how many times we vacuum; instead there’s the reappearance of coats, boots and warm hats in the hall. The guitars have gone, but in their place we now have school bags, while the dogs, with less heat to enjoy outside, sprawl unerringly in our path through the kitchen! I am always amazed by the transition of low

seasons in the Charente-Maritime, where one month seems to blend into another with no great fanfare, and how the changes in temperature are typically unhurried. We still find a fig or two on our tree and the tomatoes which we planted in the greenhouse are producing abundantly as a little reminder of summer and, on a warm day, butterflies still flutter across the lawn. But recently Roddy has put long trousers on occasionally, and a cashmere sweater stays folded for instant use on the back of the bedroom chair. The children dress slightly warmer each week for school or tennis, and the AC in the car lies idle. This is the season when we bike most (one of our traditions is a day of cycling on the Île de Ré during Toussaint), and

living family | 39



it’s the ideal time to walk along the riverbank with the dogs. No heat, no flies and no-one else. And talking of animals, I’ve noticed the cats sleeping more in the house than in the barn, despite the alarming attention the dogs like to give them. This renewed acquaintanceship of a shared bed is another sign of the slow creep of cold back into our lives. As the seasons change the undercurrents in the house of a busy family flow in different directions, the ephemera of active lives jostling like flotsam on the surface of busy waters. School directives, seasonal notes and autumn messages from la mairie litter the table, and there are firelighters

and matches beside the mantelpiece once more. Homemade soup is on the menu again, and tantalising smells drift up through the house, as the taste of autumn bubbles and simmers on the hotplate. Roddy’s mushroom handbook has made its annual reappearance on the sideboard, and as I make breakfast for early risers I rediscover my seasonal awareness of the beauty of sunrises. As stars wheel in their yearly arc across the sky, they’re accompanied by signs of annual changes in our family life. Autumn is flowing down our river, taking with it the final vestiges of summer. Looking upstream I know Christmas is coming, and if I close my mind I can imagine the faint sound of sleigh bells a long way away in the distance. But I’m here with my family, firmly anchored in the changing seasons, and I feel terribly comfortable with that. It’s the true beauty of where we live. 1



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






8 8

With the autumn nights drawing in, what better time is there to settle down with our unique crossword from Mike Morris? Make yourself comfortable and see if you can find the theme. If you need a little help, the answers can be found on page 52

Clues Across 1. Allow money to be donated ..... ? (5) 4. ..... any left over used for a degree of clean up? (7) 8. I left French resort to turn up in central venue? (1. 1. 1.) 9. All gets to be delivered in change where you pay to proceed? (9) 10. Peers do it badly, so put it back in? (9) 12. This kind of man is heartless? (3) 13. Dracula eg. getting poor housing on edge of estate where king was totting up? (8, 5) 15. I quit dry valley in search of loads of money? (3)

16. Steps taken by underwater vehicles to reveal lower plots? (9) 17. Gadabout is actually very gentlemanly around Italian virgins at first? (9) 20. Cad turning up in a sticky mess? (3) 21. Plans to put myself in chess action? (7) 22. Famously rich but disturbing maids. (5)

Clues Down 1. Class member getting the info on Morecambe, for example? (7) 2. One of leaders of ancient religious cult having defied rules under infallible deity. (9) 3. Count sum, metal not included. (3) 4. Speculators in new blues bars in developed land? (5, 3, 5) 5. Windows on joint giving fixed guide for those at sea. (9) 6. Basic price but there’s a catch? (3) 7. Mixed directions given for German city? (5) 11. I stop a sum being fiddled

9 10


11 12










16 20



21 19

22 20

24 21


to get an element? (9) 12. Convert and cutter getting cut off? (9) 14. Bizarrely seen around French certainly getting guarantees? (7) 15. Star’s lady regularly sees

Show how much you

recompense for her efforts? (5) 18. Note central section of relays getting hot? (3) 19. Tart made from most ingredients but no sugar. (3)

Living at

40 | living nikki legon’s cuisine As autumn nights draw in, pies and pasties are firm favourites in many households. Nikki shares some of her favourite recipes…

Nikki Legon's

cuisine Spinach and Feta Filo Slices

Cornish Pasties

Spinach and Feta Filo Slices 2 tbsp olive oil 2 medium onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 500g spinach leaves, cleaned & chopped 4 eggs, beaten 2 x 250g pots ricotta cheese, drained ½ nutmeg, grated 2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped 2 x 20g packs of feta cheese, drained 2 tbsp plain flour freshly ground black pepper 150g melted butter 12 sheets of filo pastry 20cm x 30cm baking tin

Method Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onions and garlic for about 15 minutes until softened. Add the spinach and cook a further 5 minutes. Tip the mixture into a colander and pressing down with a ladle to remove as much water as possible, leave to cool. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, stir in the ricotta, add the nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper, thyme and crumbled feta. Stir in the flour. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place a sheet of filo on a board and brush with melted butter.

Lay another sheet on top and brush with more butter. Repeat the layers 6 times. Brush the baking tin with butter and place the buttered filo inside leaving the pastry up the sides. Mix the spinach with the cheese mixture and place it in the pie dish then cover with the remaining buttered filo, buttered side up. Push the pastry down into the tin so the filling is enclosed, score the top into evenly sized squares, only cut through the first 3 layers, brush with melted butter, cook for 45 to 50 minutes till the pastry is golden, cool for 15 minutes before serving.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 41

Steak and Mushroom Pie 250g plain flour 140g unsalted butter, cubed 1 large egg yolk 1 egg beaten 1.5kg beef, cubed (I use chuck steak or paleron) 250g mushrooms 3 tbs sunflower oil 100g unsalted butter 1 large onion, peeled and

thickly sliced 2 tbsp of plain flour 1 beef or vegetable stock cube Method For the best results start this recipe the day before you plan to eat the pie. You will need a pie dish which is approximately 26cm round and 6.5cm deep. In a food processor add the flour and butter with a pinch of salt and blend until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk together the egg yolk and 3 tbsp of cold water,

Steak and Mushroom Pie

Cornish Pasties 450g plain flour 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 125g unsalted butter 2 egg yolks 125ml cold water For the filling 300g beef skirt (bavette), finely chopped 1 tbsp of plain flour 150g onion, peeled and finely chopped 150g swede, peeled and finely chopped 450g potato, peeled and finely chopped 40g butter 1 egg beaten

Method For the pastry blend the flour, baking powder, salt, butter and egg yolks in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor still running, gradually add the water in a thin stream until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the chopped beef and flour in a bowl and mix to coat the meat in flour, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Season the vegetables and add to the beef, mixing well. Remove the pastry from the fridge

add slowly to the flour and mix until it collects into a ball. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour or overnight. Heat 1 tbsp of oil and 25g of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Remove to a dish. Cook the mushrooms adding oil and butter as needed, add to the dish with the onions once cooked. Tip the flour into a large plastic bag, add the cubed steak and shake to coat. In batches, add to the frying pan and cook all sides until golden brown, adding oil and butter as needed. In a large casserole dish, mix with the onion and mushrooms. Heat 600ml of water, stir in the stock cube and pour over the steak mixture. Cover and place in the oven for 90 minutes. Cool, then place in the fridge overnight so any fat will solidify which can then be removed and discarded. The following day bring the pastry to room temperature, then roll it out thinly on a well-floured surface. Invert the pie dish on to the pastry, add an extra 1cm all round, then cut to give you the lid. Butter a pie-raiser or an upturned egg cup and place it in the middle. Spoon in the meat mixture keeping any liquid to serve with the pie. Place the lid on top and push down the sides. Brush the top with egg wash and make 3 slashes in the lid. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden, leave to rest for around 10 minutes before cutting into it.

and roll it into a sausage shape then cut 6 even pieces. Roll each one into a ball, then roll out into 6 circles each the size of a dinner plate. Spoon the filling evenly onto one half of each pastry disc leaving 1.5cm clear at the edge. Brush the edges of the pastry discs lightly all over with a little of the beaten egg. Cover the filled side of each pastry round with the other half and press the edges together with a fork to seal. Pleat the edges, brush the top with beaten egg and cut a small hole to let the steam escape. Place the pasties on a lined baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and crisp.

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42 | living nikki legon’s cuisine

Scotch Pie 250g plain flour 100g lard 120ml water For the filling 300g lamb mince 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely ½ heaped tsp mace 4 tbsp of lamb stock salt and pepper Method You will need a jumbo muffin tin, oil well. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the lard into cubes. In a small saucepan add 120ml of water and heat adding the lard until it has melted taking care not to boil. Put the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle, pour in the lard and mix with a wooden spoon. Once it has come together, turn out onto a floured surface and knead quickly as it cools it becomes harder to

manage. Divide the pastry into 4 balls and take a little from each quarter for the lid. Roll out each ball to around 5mm depth, one by one, and put them into the pie tins, using your fingertips to mould them up the sides. Roll out the lids slightly smaller than the pies as they fit inside them. Place the tin into the fridge for the pastry to go hard. Fry the onion in a small pan, add the mace and transfer to a bowl, adding the lamb stock. Once cooled, mix into the lamb mince add more stock if you think it needs it but it should be quite dry. Divide the mixture into 4 balls and push down with the back of your knuckles to spread the mixture and fill the pie cases three-quarters full. Place the lids in, smoothing the edges into the side of the pie to join them together. Cut a small hole in the top to let the steam escape. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until light golden brown.

Chicken Curry Pasties Scotch Pie

Cheese and Onion Pie

Cheese & Onion Pie 120g butter 200g self-raising flour a pinch of salt 2 to 3 tbsp ice cold water For the filling 25g butter 3 large onions, sliced thinly 150ml cold water 275g hard cheese of your choice, grated 1 egg, beaten

loose bottom tart tin: 20cm wide x 4cm deep Method For the pastry, cut the butter into small chunks (I like to use half lard, saindoux, if no vegetarians are around the table). Place into a large bowl with the flour and salt. Gently rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips until the texture resembles course breadcrumbs. Mix in just enough water to bind the mixture

together and lightly knead the dough. Dust with flour, cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes before using. Preheat the oven to 180°C with a flat baking sheet inside, which helps cook the base. To prepare the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan and slowly cook the onions for about 10 minutes until soft, taking care not to brown. Add the water, season, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool. Lightly butter the loose bottomed tart tin. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and line the base and sides of the tin. Put alternative layers of onion and grated cheese. Roll out the remainder of the pastry to cover the pie. Seal the edges well and make 3 cuts in the top to let the steam out. Brush with beaten egg, and place into the preheated oven, cook for 40 to 50 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes before cutting into wedges.

living nikki legon’s cuisine | 43

Chicken Curry Pasties 2 tbsp oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp chilli powder 1 tbsp madras curry paste 500g diced chicken breast 75g frozen peas 3 cooked potatoes, peeled and chopped finely 6 tea plate size rounds of puff pastry 1 egg, lightly beaten

Method Preheat the oven to 180°C and line one or two baking trays with baking parchment. In a large frying pan heat the oil, add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium heat for two minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the rest of the dry spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the madras curry paste, chicken and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the cooked potato and peas, stirring to coat in the curry mixture - the mixture should be dry. Leave to cool. Place the filling evenly on a pastry round, fold over and pleat the edge to seal. Brush with egg and place on a lined baking tray. Cook for 20 minutes until golden.

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

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

Apple Pie 150g golden caster sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 2 tbsp cornflour 600g Granny Smith apples For the pastry 400g plain flour 2 tbsp caster sugar Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 250g butter, cut into small cubes 1 large egg beaten with 2 tbsp cold water beaten egg yolk to glaze Method To make the sweet shortcrust pastry, put the flour, sugar and lemon zest into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg in water and mix with a round-bladed knife until the mixture forms a dough. Divide the dough into two-thirds for the base and one-third for the lid. Roll into balls and flatten slightly. On a floured surface, roll out the larger ball of pastry to slightly larger than the dish. Using the rolling pin, lift the pastry and place it over the base of the dish, pressing firmly in to the base and up the sides. Chill in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C. To prepare the filling, mix the sugar, cinnamon and cornflour together and add the peeled and sliced apples. Mix well to coat. Tip the apple filling into the pie base, scraping in all the sugary juices. Roll out the lid. Brush the rim with beaten egg and cover the pie with the lid, pressing it down well. Trim off the excess and flute the edges, make 3 slits for the steam to escape. Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.


Did you know?

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

A warm welcome awaits you ……. Come and discover the Hotel Restaurant Karina, set in a haven of greenery, just 3km from Jarnac in the beautiful Charentaise countryside. Enjoy dining by the open fire in winter or on the terrace in fine weather with a choice of à la carte or fixed menus. In our bar, you will find the original copper alembic and here you can relax with an aperitif. Join us for fish and chips on Fridays - lunch or dinner. We cater for special group occasions, call for more information See our menus on our website | 05 45 36 26 26 Subscribe today > see page 5 |for info

44 | living wine

Reims, capital of the Champagne region

what’s on the label?


ast time we talked about Grands Crus and Grands Crus Classés, terms which are protected and regulated in France. The European Union has worked hard to define and protect these and many others, including all the Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) in the EU. A couple of decades ago I recall seeing a cheap ‘bag-in-box’ white wine in South Africa with ‘Grand Cru’ emblazoned across it. PDOs like Chablis, Burgundy and Champagne were terms that were also regularly used on wines in the New World. Today, it’s widely accepted that these terms are protected and cannot be used by those outside the region concerned, but that’s not always the case.

The Russian Champagne Affair

‘‘ ‘‘

There’s more to a label than meets the eye as wine expert Caro Feely explains

appellations which have a Russian word specially for it: ‘Shampanskoye’. In July 2021, Vladimir Putin upset the wine world – particularly Champagne producers – by decreeing that only local Russian producers can now call their sparkling drinks ‘Shampanskoye’ and that Champagne producers must now label their wines as ‘sparkling wine’. Since the Champagne Appellation is exclusively sparkling wine, Champagne producers are not required

to include ‘sparkling wine’ on their bottles. The new Russian law therefore means that Champagne producers must create special labelling for the Russian market. It also effectively undermines the term Champagne as part of the PDO system, which the EU has worked hard to create and protect.

The Fraud Squad in France

Labelling of French wine is strictly controlled. Comprehensive rules are enforced diligently by a dedicated ‘fraud squad’. There’s no leeway for loose marketing statements, and contravention means a hefty fine and/ or jail. As a result, what French labels claim is usually correct. Champagne producers have even pursued shampoo makers for using the term Champagne on their labels. It’s not just France;

Champagne is designated under France’s Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) system and is an EU PDO. This gives Champagne producers exclusive use of the word in countries that follow EU laws on ‘geographical indications’ or GIs, used to identify qualities specific to their place of origin. The World Trade Organisation also upholds this intellectual property right. Champagne is one of the few wine

Russian intervention

living wine | 45 the entire EU takes this stuff very seriously. In 2008, 3200 bottles of Californian sparkling wine labelled ‘Champagne’ were seized and destroyed when they arrived in the port of Antwerp.

Terms Which Are Not Regulated

While some terms are strictly controlled and policed, certain others are not. Here are some terms that you might see on wine labels that are not officially defined and regulated.

Réserve/Grand Réserve: These terms usually indicate higher levels of quality and ageing than the standard product, but they are not regulated or controlled in most countries. Exceptions include Reserva and Gran Reserva for Rioja and Riserva for some DOCs in Italy like Chianti, places in which the terms are regulated. Grand Vin: Directly translated, this means ‘great wine’ and it usually appears on the top wine made by a winegrower – but as it’s a totally unregulated term; anyone can use it for any wine.

Vieilles Vignes: Meaning ‘old vines’, this is often seen on bottles but is not regulated. It’s usually taken to denote vines older than 40 years – but since it’s unregulated you can’t be sure unless you know the grower and their vines yourself. Then there are terms like ‘Winemaker’s Selection’ or ‘Gold Medal Standard’. These are, however, just marketing fluff with no official meaning. Wine Labelling History We know that wine labelling began several thousand years ago. Jars of wine were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, the young Egyptian king who died around 1327 BC. The jars, discovered in 1922, were labelled with the wine’s name and vintage, its source and even the winegrower.

Book a virtual event or course with Caro this autumn. Stretch your wine world with a 3-day course on French wine (all year round) or visit Caro’s vineyard Château Feely ( a biodynamic and organic wine estate with accommodation, wine tours, vineyard walks. For questions or suggestions please get in touch You can also read the Feelys’ adventures in Caro’s book series; ‘Grape Expectations’, ‘Saving our Skins’ and the latest ‘Glass Half Full’.

Wine labels can feel like a minefield but having terms which are clearly defined and protected helps to make the complex world of wine easier to navigate. In the next edition I’ll delve into how to read a wine label and what each of the terms you might encounter means. Here’s to a fabulous winter! Cheers!

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Changing Places There are some towns whose history becomes obvious once you know where to look; in Le Dorat, however, the evidence is ever present. Seen from above, the layout of the former capital of the ancient province of la BasseMarche confirms that this was for centuries a walled town. The ramparts were constructed around 1424, mainly to defend the town and its abbey from the attentions of English troops, whose heavy-handed 18-year occupation had ended the previous year. One of the original fortified gateways survives, in the shape of the Monument Historique listed Porte Bergère, while nearby are a couple of medieval bastions, one of which, behind Le Cinéma and Place Charles de Gaulle, is now a viewpoint. The former market square retains something of its role as the main focus of daily life, with bar/restaurants and services plus a particularly intriguing central feature. Completed in 1872 to provide Le Dorat with a dependable supply of drinking water, la Fontaine Lapeyrière is fed by underground pipes from its source at les Pierres-Blanche,

some 6km southwest of the town. The greater part of this costly project was financed by donations from a local couple who became heirless when they lost both their children. Today both Jeanne and Clément are immortalised in a bronze bas-relief on the fountain, which is surmounted by the town crest and an elegant full-length bronze figure posed to indicate the direction of the source. Beyond the square an eclectic array of independent businesses now inhabits some of the ancient facades lining Grande Rue, which snakes its way down to Le Dorat’s other large square, home to long-established producers’ markets in summer. Even before you reach it nothing upstages the vast Collègiale Saint-Pierre, most of which dates from the 12th century and is currently undergoing major restoration works. Inside the sombre granite construction has a timeless quality, and hidden away beneath the floor of the apse is an equally atmospheric 11th century crypt. Just a few steps away lovingly tended floral displays in Rue des Fours, Rue Saint-Michel and Rue Courbe present an

le dorat (87)

We explore a well-deserved possessor of the ‘Petite Cité de Charactère’ label in Haute-Vienne altogether softer side of the old town. Continue and where Rue Saint-Michel meets Rue du Puits-Châtonnier is an imposing medieval townhouse and former convent with a sculpted granite feature and a fairy tale tourelle. Nearby are many more historic survivors, but with schools, a hospital, sports facilities and even a racecourse, Le Dorat looks to the future as well as its past.

Making connections Distances/drive-times by road from 87210 Le Dorat: Bellac: 12km/12min Limoges: 56km/53min Rochechouart: 56km/1hr Gueret: 68km/54min Poitiers: 77km/1hr 18min Châteauroux: 94km/1hr 13min Angoulême: 111km/1hr 31min Montluçon: 111km/1hr 31min TGV & TER rail services: Le Dorat’s Gare SNCF is served by TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine Ligne Régionale 24 services between Limoges & Poitiers, for connections (including TGV) to Niort, La Rochelle, Périgueux, Bordeaux, Bayonne, Toulouse, Tours, Paris, etc.

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50 | living in the garden

in the garden

Shear delight Whatever your location there are good reasons to surround yourself with something homegrown, so we look at all things hedging

Regular clipping encourages dense growth

Conifers offer nearinstant effect

living in the garden | 51 With patience elegant forms are achieveable

Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’


o most of us the perfect garden should be a place for peaceful contemplation, in which we can come and go as we please whenever we like, and with some degree of privacy. That means defining boundaries and providing some sort of screening, with a look we’ll be be happy to live with for many years to come. It’s not something to rush into, so we’ll consider some of the more popular options. While the present mania for erecting fortress-like concrete block walling around private homes shows no sign of abating, the end results don’t do a lot for the landscape, either inside or out, and living the life of a recluse probably won’t do a lot for your sanity. Then there are

the disruptive effects on the airflow over solid boundary walls, creating potentially damaging turbulence in the garden on gusty days. The same goes for timber fencing, which brings us neatly to the softer, grow-your-own approach of planting hedging. Hedges have probably been around for as long as people have gardened – and longer still in the broader landscape. Think of them as the scaled-down counterparts of the often ancient hedgerows which don’t merely define the boundaries of fields, but also do a pretty good job, if they’re well maintained, of sheltering tender crops from chill winds and minimising soil erosion. For gardeners a decent

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boundary hedge will provide these and other benefits, including preventing deer, wild boar and other potentially destructive wildlife from having an uninvited nose around our lovingly tended flowerbeds. That’s in addition, of course, to giving us some privacy where we most need it. So what are the downsides? Well, an important consideration is maintenance, as we already have our hands full keeping on top of all the routine tasks involved in looking after the garden and ensuring that our plants remain healthy. Since a hedge, despite appearances, is merely a line of individual plants it follows that each will have its own specific


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52 | living in the garden

Rosa rugosa carries deterrent thorns

for more cartoons by stig see

Box moths produce voracious caterpillars

“A decent boundary hedge will deter deer, wild boar & other destructive wildlife..”

pros and cons. The range of suitable hedging candidates is also much wider than you’d imagine, so to be sure of achieving the best trade-off for our own needs we’ll consider those we should be able to find in garden centres or by mail order, starting with the most popular choices. You don’t need to travel too far these days to appreciate just how many people are seduced by conifers – particularly one of the many varieties of Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana - Fr. ‘Cyprès de Lawson’) or Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis x Leylandii – Fr. Cyprès de Leyland). First the Pros: If the primary requirement is instant effect, then once they’re in the ground Cypresses can certainly motor. They’re also relatively cost-effective, too, and won’t look out of place in urban or town locations.

Now the Cons: Even in less than perfect soil conditions they can grow at the rate of around 1m per year and left to their own devices will continue to power their way skywards to 20m or more. Keeping them as a hedge rather than a forest requires an open-ended commitment to regular clipping. Do that, though, and you’ll soon have a dense, evergreen hedge, albeit one whose vibrant colours won’t exactly blend seamlessly into the rural landscape. Altogether more manageable is the Yew, the classic dark green Irish variety (Taxus baccata – Fr. ‘If d’Irlande’) having long been popular in France. Pros: Renowned for its extreme longevity, Yew is evergreen, very hardy and will tolerate virtually any soil pH, from alkaline to acidic. While considered in the UK and Ireland to be slow growing, the French soil and

ACROSS: 1. Grant 4. Balance 8. NEC 9. Tollgates 10. Redeposit 12. Tin 13. Counting House 15. Wad 16. Subspaces 17. Gallivant 20. Tar 21. Schemes 22. Midas

Down: 1. Generic 2. Archdruid 3. Tot 4. Bulls and bears 5. Lightship 6. Net 7. Essen 11. Potassium 12. Truncated 14. Ensures 15. Wages 18. Lah 19. Tom Theme: Money

Box repays Paeonia Lactifloraanti-caterpillar treatment handsomely

climate seem to suit it, so it should produce a respectable, dense hedge sooner than you might imagine, while requiring modest future clipping (unless, of course, you plan to explore the world of topiary). Cons: The red fruits, while attractive, are poisonous – a potential issue when planted as a specimen tree, although less so when maintained as a hedge. Talking of tree species (and topiary) Box (Buxus Sempervirens – Fr. ’Buis’) has also long been a popular choice for clipped hedging. Pros: It’s evergreen, long-lived, hardy and will tolerate most soils and partial shade. Cons: While the blight which has caused problems in the UK seems to be less of a problem here in France, recent years have seen many plants attacked by the voracious caterpillars of the Box moth. To keep plants healthy you’ll therefore need to spray them with a special preparation as soon as signs of infestation appear (up to three times a year). A less common look-alike alternative to Box is Berberis, a huge family of shrubby evergreens, among the most

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among the leaves are sharp thorns – an advantage, though, where security is a consideration. A somewhat different but traditional choice for formal hedging is Beech (Fagus silvatica - Fr. ‘Hêtre Commun’). Pros: It’s hardy, easily maintained at the desired height by clipping and does well in sun or partial shade in most well-drained soils. Its foliage is attractive through the seasons, turning rich brown in autumn – best thought of as semi-evergreen, the leaves are retained until they’re replaced by new spring growth. Cons: It won’t thrive in damp or clay soils, and coastal high winds will strip the leaves in winter. A similar alternative to Beech is Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus – Fr. ‘Charme Commun’), another semievergreen whose leaves are more veined , with serrated edges. Pros: It’s frost-hardy, tolerates shade, thrives

popular for hedging being Berberis thunbergii. Pros: It’s hardy, responds well to regular clipping and will thrive in almost any non-waterlogged soil. Cons: It won’t tolerate shade, and hidden

Photinia Red Robin produces vibrant new shoots

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54 | living in the garden

Berberis thunbergii has brilliant autumn colours

Cherry Laurel is dense and fast-growing

in normal or alkaline soils and its fruits will help sustain wildlife. Cons: Like Beech, they appreciate watering during dry summer months, and you should clip in late summer to encourage their winter colours. For a natural, less formal look in a rural setting consider planting a hedge of Hazel (Corylus avellana – Fr. ‘Noisetier commun’), which does well on well-drained alkaline soils. Pros: They grow rapidly in sun or semi-shade, produce attractive catkins and you’ll enjoy a tasty bonus of nuts to share with wildlife. Cons: They’re deciduous, and need regular clipping to keep them in shape. Ever-popular among those in search of evergreen screening is Common or Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus Rotundifolia – Fr. ‘Laurier cerise’), and it certainly does the job. Pros: Hardy, shade tolerant, with glossy, dark green foliage and small white flowers borne in springtime. Cons: It’s non-native, and in our climate can quickly deliver dense screening. Neglect regular clipping, however, and before you know it you’ll have a major job on your hands. Similar in appearance is Photinia (Photinia x fraseri Red Robin), which hails from New Zealand, but has become popular in Europe. Pros: It’s slightly less energetic and looks good all year round, particularly when new growth adds rich reds to the backdrop of previous years’ lustrous green foliage. Our warm, sunny climate also stimulates an annual profusion of small white flowers. Cons: Less dense than some species, it’s not suitable where privacy and security are important. For those qualities another New

Zealand arrival might fit the bill: Oleaster (Elaeagnus x ebbingei – Fr. ‘Chalef de Ebbinge’). Pros: It’s hardy, fast growing (but not too fast) with dense silvery evergreen foliage which will stand shade and coastal exposure. Cons: Subtle rather than showy, it’s more a backdrop than a feature. Greener and deservedly popular is Euonymus (Euonymus japonicus – Fr. ‘Fusain du Japon’), with a choice of attractive plain or variegated foliage. Pros: Extremely hardy, they’ll thrive in almost any location and our conditions really seem to suit them. Cons: The berries, which appear in autumn, are toxic to pets (who won’t normally ingest them). As we’ve seen, many of what we regard as hedging plants are actually tree species which accept regular clipping to keep them in the form which suits our needs. If you’re looking for a less formal look, though, you might like to consider species roses like Rosa rugosa (Fr. ‘Rosier rugueux’) for hedging. Pros: The

Hornbeam Carpinus betulus

Variegated Euonymus japonicus

thorns should deter potential intruders, while you get to enjoy flowers in summer, followed by brightly coloured edible hips, which birds adore. Cons: Handle with care while pruning, obviously, and be aware that it’s deciduous. Whatever you choose, enjoy the results of your hedge planting!

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Les Fromentaux

TAKEAWAY FOOD SERVICE : THU - FRI - SAT * OVEN-READY PIE SELECTION - Our 500g (+/-) pies are generally sufficient to feed 2 alongside vegetables. Freshly made pies always available (fillings change weekly) as are freshly frozen pies - extensive pie menu. * SWEET TREATS - Desserts / Pastries / Cakes (change weekly) * THURS - HOT Takeaway - Chinese / Indian etc (change weekly) * FRIDAY - Home battered Fish & Real Chunky Chips


Turkeys Geese Chickens Ducks Buffets Bacon Christmas hampers for 4 people at 75€! Contact us at: Please order Tel: 02 54 25 34 73 / before 10 Dec 06 84 31 52 39 to avoid EARL Les Fromentaux E: disappointment

* SATURDAY - Pre-cooked Sunday Lunch (change weekly) CHECK OUT CURRENT MENU & PICK-UP TIMES ON FACEBOOK: labouteilleouverte OR email to subscribe to our weekly mailing list / text mobile: 07 83 90 36 35

24320 - BOUTEILLES ST. SEBASTIEN (NR VERTEILLAC) Tel: 05 53 91 51 98


* SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES ARE FOLLOWED * Our bi-lingual team are waiting to pamper you. CACI trained and registered to perform non-surgical facelifts and more. Ring now to book your appointment. ~ PLUS! Wedding hair & make-up team ~

The UK’s Premium Pet Transport Company Services tailored to your needs DEFRA Type 2 licensed, custom built vans T: +44 (0)7855 401 102 T: +44 (0)1932 875 227

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

HELP WITH ALL FRENCH ADMINISTRATION MATTERS Administrative Assistance & Solutions Private Individuals & Small Businesses Translator: English, French, Portuguese (cert.) & Spanish Professional Liability Insurance

Siret No 520 382 805 00049

Regular trips throughout Europe

Siret: 822 175 527 0016

RENAISSANCE - hair, beauty, nails

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

Animal Care, Help & Advice

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

Siret: 509 861 902 00013

Well-being, Animal care

Visit Alison, Stephanie & Laura at...

8 place Gambetta 86400 CIVRAY Office: M:

These local businesses are waiting for your call!


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

Contact Isabelle directly Mobile: 06 17 30 39 11

Long established service at reasonable rates Depts 16 & 17

Chemin des Gordins, 16700 Ruffec

Business set-up Personal taxation Legal matters Phone calls & meetings Andrew Harrison

Tel: 05 46 96 44 11 Comprehensive administration services for individuals and businesses • • • •

Tax returns Business set up, Book keeping courses Carte Vitale, Carte de Séjour, Financial Aid Translations SIRET/SIREN 510046261 00010

Contact me by email & Skype, or visit my office, location is not a problem

SIRET 453 520 298 00010

Experience you need....Results you want Fluent French speaker with over 15 years professional ‘hands on’ experience assisting expats in France

Personal Taxation – Carte Vitale – Carte de Séjour Business set ups - CPAM – French Administration Tax regularisation and much much more…. Call Rick Denton now on 06 46 25 30 87 or Email:

Based in Charente and covering 86, 79, 16, 17, 24 & 33 Siren: 818 390 916

We find the best insurer for you, at competitive rates

MOTOR, HOUSE, BUSINESS, TRAVEL MEDICAL insurance: top up and for Residency Permits

For information and quotes contact Penny G.S.A.R. 05 53 40 15 71

N° ORIAS : 07020908

Siret N°48825664500018

Translation Services

Professional administrative HelP

Translations, Health, Tax, Legal Paperwork, Telephone Calls, Property, Banking, Business Services, Residency Val Assist provides clear explanations about the French system, advice on the best way to sort out problems and generally acts for people on their behalf in French. I CAN HELP WITH RESIDENCY (wherever you live in France)

Find out more: Valérie PATARD 1, rue Basse 85370 Mouzeuil-Saint-Martin Tel: +33 (0)6 84 78 21 57 Email: Orias: 07007057

English Speaking Ask for Corinne

Help & Advice, Insurance

The Fixer


102 ave de la République 16260 Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure tel : 05 45 39 51 47

Help & Advice


10 bld du 8 mai 1945 16110 La Rochefoucauld tel : 05 45 63 54 31

Val Assist

M: 07 80 44 37 00

Expert in French Administration

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




BH Assurances

- INVESTMENTS - what is available, what rate, etc. - LIFE INSURANCE - how to protect your loved ones - FUNERAL COVER - preparing for the inevitable, unfortunately! - TOP UP HEALTH INSURANCE - why you need it and how much it is - INSURANCES - get a free quote to see if you can save money We also have a dedicated bilingual person to deal with claims. And, finally, we have an English website with all sorts of useful information and tips on all of the above subjects.

For all your insurance needs in France

Special discount for new owners - 50% off the first year Fully comprehensive covers at competitive prices and all explained in ENGLISH. We respond quickly to enquiries and in the case of accidents or claims, we are here to help. Offices at Champdeniers and St Pardoux (79). Come and visit us.

Agence Michallon Tel:

Samantha Ancell is our English member of staff with over 25 years’ experience in insurance including 13 years with AVIVA France. Samantha can explain the differences between French and English insurances, she will provide translations on request, and manages all your enquiries from start to finish, including any claims. Call us now to review your insurances and hopefully save you money. Agences Slimane AOUADI




16 rue Henri Sainte Claire, Déville, 86000 Poitiers

2 route de Montalambert, Site commercial SuperU 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

3 place d’Armes 16700 Ruffec

Tel : 05 49 31 13 30 E:

Tel : 05 49 07 61 10 E:

Tel : 05 45 31 01 51 E:

ORIAS N° 15006012

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


Owner/operator cost effective transporter

Siret: 520 051 004 00015

Super & Standard 8mm, VHS, Hi8 (with or without sound), Cine transferred to DVD - more formats possible, just ask Memory card to DVD, DVD copies Photo scans & 35mm slides to CD Processed via PC software from analogue to digital Volume discounts available

Hundreds of successful cross Channel deliveries Read our 5-star reviews on Trustpilot

05 45 36 19 09

Memories are precious care is always taken

“I would recommend Dave again and again” “Excellent service”

Contact David Glenn

T: 05 46 93 39 24 / 06 18 76 42 01

Transport Services

ANGLO FRENCH George White Special rates to SW France 13.6m / 45ft trailer Full/Part loads Removals - Vehicles - Materials Owner Driver RHA member Tel: +44 (0)7768 867 360 Fax +44 (0)1773 570 090 Fr Mobile: +33 (0)6 23 03 85 59

Transport Services, Concierge

‘Your French Connection’

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

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

Relocations in France Packing & Storage Options


Tel: 05 49 07 24 85 E:

Franglais Deliveries

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

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 20 years’ experience & great customer service


Full & Part Loads

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


European Transport


Siret: 502 021 660 00019

Various, Transport Services


Tel: +44 7845 272 242 Email:

These local businesses are waiting for your call!


Garden Services Pool Care Gîte Services Admin Assistance Check out our website for more information about all our services |

C J Logistics

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

F o r Po o l s • Installation • Renovation • Cleaning and Maintenance

For Outside Living • Terraces & Patios • Summerhouses

• Roofs

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

• Fencing • Blockwork

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


Transport Services, Pools

lly nt ts Fu ersa xpor nv e co UK ti h Cars, Boats and Caravans a speciality w

• Pointing

Based near Sauzé-Vaussais (79) Full Décennale Insurance siret: 897 609 293

• Rendering • Outside Rooms


FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE Competitive prices, try me for a quote

05 45 25 05 37 phone 0549840362 mobile 0622361056

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

Siret: 813 442 860 00017

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

HAVE YOUR SHUTTERS SEEN BETTER DAYS? Wooden shutters made, restored and spray painted Metal shutters sandblasted Exterior / Interior walls airless spray-painted Over 30 years’ experience All areas covered Contact Alan Tel 05 45 21 72 01 Mobile 07 80 00 51 65


Terracing and landscaping service also available ALL WORK GUARANTEED

SIRET 47994761600021



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


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!


Flooring, Services

IT Service & Support Computer Help & Advice Problem Solving Repair & Maintenance


PCs, Networks, Laptops, Tablets, Phones


For all your flooring needs

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

Planning, Metalwork, Plant hire

L’Atelier de Fer

Ian Dickinson

Fraser W. Eade

ID Planning & Design

General Engineering Turning, Milling, Welding

BSc (Hons)

Planning and designs for permis de construire and déclaration préalables for extensions, renovations, conversions and new builds. Departments: 16, 17, 24, 79, 86 & 87 Siret: 492 277 918 00024

Tel: Mob:

Artisans, Plant hire


Quality & Precision Guaranteed Forgeix, 87200 Saint Junien

05 55 71 41 75 Siret: 512 945 874 00018


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

Windows, OSx/iOS, Linux, Android Website Construction & Maintenance All Departments: Remote or On-Site Data Privacy Guaranteed 06 29 61 47 88 Siret: 889 641 726 00019

Les Rivières, 19260 TREIGNAC

Chimney Sweep Nick Wright

• Certificates issued for every sweep • Over 10 years’ experience • Covering departments 16, 17, 79 & 86 Registered with the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat

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

Siret 81968203000013

Contact Nick on email: or T. 05 45 71 33 36

05 53 52 36 05 Peter Latus BA(Hons)

Jeff’s Metalwork

Siret: 827 978 636 00013


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

BECK CHERRY PICKER HIRE Nacelle Telescopique

17m tracked cherry picker with IPAF operator For all exterior works: roofing, painting, tree cutting etc. Hourly, daily or weekly rates Based in south 86, can transport as required Tel: 07 84 12 44 97



GARY MOORE HEATING Siret: 491827705 00022


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:


05 49 87 09 63 Siret: 48115588500017

Building Works




Covering 79, 86, 16 & 17 • Tube & Fitting Scaffold • Free Quotations • Fully Insured

Siret: 851 051 334

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



Mick Van Ackeren T: 07 50 63 19 37

05 55 63 58 85 / 06 87 98 91 58 Siret: 821 846 318 00011

Trained-Approved-Recommended by SPANC Can you trust your installation to anyone else? With over 30 years’ experience

Etudes  Conception  Surveys Maintenance  Service  Remedial

Tel: 06 04 14 84 86 southwestfrancefosse

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

Building services, Artisans

South West France Fosse

See all our work on

Building services, Artisans

Imajica Joinery

MV Services


Siret 800 969 438 00020

JM Roofing Carpentry ~ Roofing

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

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


Building services, Artisans

depts 79, 86 & 16

Andy Quick

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

Siret: 499 474 302 00035

E: ~ T: 05 49 27 22 67


Assurance Décennale

Quality Roofing & Building

for you

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

Siret 53210969100024 These local businesses are waiting for your call!



UPVC windows, doors & ConserVatories sPeCialists

10 year warranTy on all products installed

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

~ Covering south west franCe ~

Tel: 05 46 70 25 87



A1SL COUVERTURE is a new French based company serving dept. 79, 86, 16, 17, 87, 85, 24 & 33 with well-established roofing experience previously based in the 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

Covering 1h radius around Mareuil 24340

Mobile: + 33.(0). Email:

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



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

ReIiable, Affordable Maintenance & Renovation Service

Depts 16 & 17

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

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

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

Adrian Butterfield

u u

Siret 482 718 640 00022


website: email:

07 82 19 22 37

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

Do you need help with:

• • •

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


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

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

Tel: 07 67 04 07 53


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



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

Building services, Artisans

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:


05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

~ Free quotes ~ Decennial insurance

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

Graham Medhurst Renovations

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

Siret: 789 563 392 00016


Kitchens & Bathrooms from A-Z

Building services, Artisans


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


Affordable UK Designs

Fitted Kitchens, Upvc & Aluminium Double Glazing

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

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

Building services, Artisans


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

Tel 05 17 30 18 35 Mobile 06 33 85 65 66 Javarzay, 79110 Chef-Boutonne

Building services, Artisans

Siren: 478 608 185 00011

ANDY MS Multi Services

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

05 46 49 78 30 / 06 70 40 66 01

website: email:

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

Ambroise PRÉE

Plumbing - Heating Chimney sweeping


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

30km around 86400 (Saint Macoux)

English spoken

Siret: 831 980 487 00019

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

Siret: 508 248 747 000 18

05 45 31 14 58 / 06 63 20 24 93

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

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

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

Siret: 441 490 992 00027

Peter Amor Electrician

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

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

05 46 86 07 61 Siret 49376573200015

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

Conformity Inspections

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

Insurance, Help & Advice


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

SIRET: 513 577 809 00017

These local businesses are waiting for your call!

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

living music | 65



n June 3, 1906 in St Louis, Missouri, washerwoman Carrie McDonald gave birth to a daughter, naming her Freda Josephine. Shortly afterwards her father, vaudeville drummer Eddie Carson, abandoned them. While still a child Josephine cleaned houses and babysat for well-heeled white families after school, before becoming a waitress at the age of 13. While waiting tables she met and married one Willie Wells, but maintained her own financial independence, so when things soured she simply walked out. Josephine’s fortunes changed dramatically in 1919 after she began performing comedy routines, touring with The Jones Family Band and The Dixie Steppers. Considered “too skinny and too dark” to be a dancer, she worked as a dresser and learnt the chorus line’s routines by heart, making her the obvious replacement when a dancer left. Audiences loved her comic touches (rolling her eyes and deliberately appearing clumsy until her encores), and she soon became a box office draw in Broadway revues. In October 1925 the 19 year-old Josephine crossed the Atlantic bound for Paris, where La Revue Nègre was about to open, with an all-black cast and a jungle stage set. Relishing her provocative role as a white explorer’s erotic fantasy, she set the stage alight and became the toast of les Folies-Bergère, often appearing with her pet cheetah ‘Chiquita’. The relaxed

Oh, Josephine On 30 November singer, dancer and Résistance figure Josephine Baker will be honoured with a memorial in le Panthéon, Paris. We celebrate her extraordinary life... citizenship and after WWII was awarded the Medaille de la Résistance avec Rosette and named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for her undercover work and service in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Later, as part of her commitment to the Civil Rights Movement, she and her fourth husband, composer Jo Bouillon, adopted 12 children of diverse nationalities and religions, to show that her ‘Rainbow Tribe’ could live together happily at the family home, the Château des Milandes (24). However, in 1968 she was forced to leave the château as a result of spiralling debts and moved to an apartment in Roquebrune offered by Princess Grace of Monaco, before a triumphant return to live performing. After sell-out shows in Paris, Belgrade, New York and a Royal Variety Performance in London, she celebrated 50 years in show business on 8 April 1975 in Paris, the production French acceptance of racial diversity largely financed by Prince Rainier, came as a revelation to Josephine, Princess Grace and Jacqueline Kennedy whose obvious love for the country Onassis. Her opening-night audience won the hearts of its people. included Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, She also captivated creative luminaries Shirley Bassey and Diana Ross, but just including Picasso, Matisse and Le four days later she was found in a coma, Corbusier, and became the world’s most having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. photographed woman and Europe’s She was rushed to a nearby hospital, highest paid entertainer. Although where she died, aged 68. known primarily as a dancer, she also Her funeral, with full French military enjoyed success as a singer, releasing a honours, attracted more than 20,000 string of successful recordings, including mourners, and after a quiet family the classic ‘J’ai Deux Amours’. service in Monte Carlo she was interred In 1937 she acquired French at the Cimetière de Monaco.


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? A s we head towards the pantomime season, it’s time to ‘get the show on the road’. We’re going to put the theatre itself in the spotlight and stop making ‘a song and dance’ out of French. If you want to ‘steal the show’, French idioms about the stage can really help you out. If you want to know what it means to’ burn the boards’, to ‘break the shack’ or what ‘a turnip’ is, we’ll have a look at some of the oddities and curiosities of both English and French, so that you can upstage your friends. It may be a little old-fashioned in both English and French these days, but the word vedette is a useful one. In English, we might put something or someone ‘in the spotlight’, giving them centre stage or a starring role. In French mettre en vedette means the same thing as putting something or someone in the spotlight. You might also say en pleine lumière or in full light. Or alternatively voler la vedette or ‘steal the spotlight’. In English, we might also ‘steal someone’s thunder’. ‘Stealing the spotlight’ and ‘stealing the show’ would definitely be a good test of how good someone’s English is: one meaning something terrible, taking someone else’s idea or prestige. In fact, ‘stealing someone’s thunder’ is also a theatrical expression, harking back to an incident in which a peevish playwright found another production using his thunder machine. In French, this would definitely be the equivalent of voler la vedette or stealing the star actor from someone. ‘Stealing someone’s thunder’ also has a sense of ruining someone else’s great news by sharing your even better news. We might find a word like éclipser to be

more useful here. In English, we might also say we ‘upstaged’ someone. Voler la vedette has many different translations in English. ‘Stealing the show’, on the other hand, means that someone gets all the attention and praise because of their sterling performance. Strange as it may sound, ‘making a tobacco’ or ‘making a tobacconist’ is the literal way to say something similar in French: faire un tabac. This means to be a success or to ‘bring the house down’. But be careful not to mix up your tobacconists: passer quelqu’un à tabac means to beat someone up. For faire un tabac, we could also say we brought the house down in English. ‘Breaking the shack’ or casser la baraque is how we might say that in French. You could even call someone the ‘nail of the show’, le clou du spectacle. This expression means someone who gets all the attention, the star of the show. Of course, not everyone is successful,

Language expert Emma-Jane Lee turns the spotlight on some theatrical language

especially at the box office. What we might call a ‘box office turkey’ the French refer to as ‘a turnip’ – un navet. You can, of course, always say un flop. In English, that has a sense of being a failure at the box office, not making much money. However in French, the sense is more that it’s just ‘a real turkey’ of a film, of really poor quality, a ‘bit of a lemon’. If you were a flop yourself, you could say faire un bide or ‘to do a muffin-top’ or to ‘do a belly flop’ in French. Un bide is a great word not only meaning a flop, but also a belly, a belly flop. If you’re thinking of poor actors in bad films, where the lead was a bit of ‘a ham’, prone to melodrama and over-acting, in French, we could say un cabotin or une cabotine. Calling them un jambon would be meaningless in French. Cabotinage means ‘posing’ or ‘showing off’ in French, and you can even say that someone was ‘hamming it up’ with cabotiner. If you really flopped on stage or on screen, it’d be ‘rotten tomatoes’ for you in English, but pommes cuites in French. Quite why you get rotten tomatoes on one side of the Channel and cooked apples on the other is anybody’s guess. Hopefully these expressions will allow you to ‘strut your stuff’ and ‘hold the stage’ rather than making a fool of yourself. If someone says, ‘What a pantomime!’ – quelle pantomime! – it’s definitely time to ‘bow out gracefully’. Emma is a jack-of-all-language-trades, writing English textbooks, translating, marking exam scripts and teaching languages. She lives near La Rochefoucauld with her growing menagerie. See

L i ving

PUBLISHER: Kathryn Dobson FEATURES EDITOR: Roger Moss Advertising: Jon Dobson Art editor: Nadia Van den Rym Production: Justin Silvester Regular contributors: Caro Feely, Susan Hays, Jessica Knipe, magazine Emma-Jane Lee, Nikki Legon, Mike Morris, and Stig Tomas. WITH THANKS TO: John and Gill Bowler, Julia Moss. Photography: Shutterstock or Roger Moss unless indicated. Cover image: Looking out from the Hôtel d’Assézat, Toulouse ©haptag @HaptagMedia Published by: Anglo Media & MArketing, 2 Rue Buffefeu, 86400 Linazay FRANCE. Poitiers: 533 624 128 Printed by: Rotimpres S.A. Dépôt légal: A parution Issue: 80 ISSN: 2270-2709.

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