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August 2018 Issue 190

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EU is stepping up preparations in case of ‘no deal’ ALL BRITONS living in France will need a carte de séjour after Brexit (or any transition period), the Interior Ministry has confirmed. However, it is planned that people who already hold an ‘EU citizen’ card will not have to change it for another card. The clarifications came in email responses and an interview which we have translated in full on Page 4. The ministry says that residents who do not have a card after Brexit will have to apply for one (according to the draft exit deal this could be by July 2021 at the latest) though it will not, at that stage, be an ‘EU citizen’ one. It is not yet clear what it will say on it. Applicants will have to provide the same proofs as those applying now and will obtain the same rights if they meet the rules. Rights and procedures for Britons coming after a transition period are still to be defined. While there is no obligation to apply now, a

press spokesman for the ministry’s foreigners’ section said in his opinion it is advisable so as to avoid any rush later on when prefectures may face greater difficulties than now. Readers already report problems in obtaining application appointments at some prefectures with one offering them more than a year away. The EU meanwhile has been stepping up preparations for all Brexit scenarios, including explicitly for the possibility of a ‘no-deal or cliff-edge scenario’ in which ‘there would be no specific arrangements in place for EU citizens in the UK or for UK citizens in the EU’. Time is short to meet a deadline of October 18 for a completed deal. With this in mind, the ministry’s answers offer some reassurances. è Full story Page 4

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PEOPLE who have had social charges levied on income from property and investments despite not being affiliated to the French social security system (notably, because they do not live in France) are again being advised to apply for refunds after a new court ruling. This applies to non-residents who rent out property in France or potentially to those who have recently sold a French property. Readers may recall how refunds were made to ‘unaffiliated’ people with regard to levies in 2012-2015 which amounted to 13.5-15.5% of relevant incomes (consisting of Contribution Sociale Généralisée (CSG), Contribution au Rembour­ sement de la Dette Sociale (CRDS) and several others). It came after the European Court of Justice (ECJ), con­firmed by top French administrative court the Conseil d’Etat, said France should not have levied these charges. The ECJ case related to a French resident who worked abroad and was subject to another country’s social security system. However its impact extended to residents in other EU countries with property income/s from France as well as expat pensioners in France whose healthcare was paid by the home country under the EU’s S1 scheme. The courts essentially said those not linked to the French social è Turn to Page 33

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Cartes de séjour still valid post-Brexit 4 State ready to sell Paris airport stake 5 Michelin’s roadside signs vanish 7 Man who changed law on solidarity 9 News in Brief 10-11 France’s rival to Lawrence of Arabia 12 Testing robot taxi in Normandy 13

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Ease up on tourism push or face overcrowded sites

WITH France heading for a stunning 90 million visitors this year the head of the country’s tourism development agency said it may be time to act before key sites become overcrowded resulting in local anger and visitor disappointment. Christian Mantei, managing director of Atout France, was at pains to say the country was not ‘full up’ for tourists but said drives to lure ever higher numbers should be tempered. One solution may be to change the hours people visit key sites like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre or Mont Saint-Michel. Despite rail and pilot strike disruption, France is on track to beat last year’s total of 87 million visitors who brought in €57billion in business. Mr Mantei said the World Cup win translated into better moods for those working with visitors and contributed to France’s positive global image. This was especially strong with Chinese and Japanese as football becomes more popular there but also had an effect in northern America and Africa. But, he warned that it could change quickly, saying: “If nothing is done, in five years, it will be necessary to regulate the influx of first-time foreign visitors to France.”

The Louvre was the world’s most popular museum last year with 8.1 million visitors... the Mona Lisa is the No1 must-see Mr Mantei added: “In Paris, 80% of the sites that tourists absolutely want to see are on the banks of the Seine and they are close to saturation and things are getting hot in our most beautiful villages.” He said that when there was ‘overtourism’ it first manifested itself in anger from local residents – and he pointed out that Parisians have for long avoided Montmartre’s Place du Tertre while Mont Saint-Michel is crowded all summer long. Paris Tourist Office is hailing statistics showing 70.2 million visitors in 2017, up 5.6% on 2016. The most popular site in the capital was Notre Dame Cath­ ed­ral with 12 million visitors, then Sacre Coeur in second on 10 million. The Louvre was

Gîtes groups link up to challenge Airbnb FRANCE’S top holiday home providers, Gîtes de France and Clévacances, have announced plans to work together to promote ‘quality’ accommodation in a challenge to Airbnb. With the growth in the market and Airbnb’s arrival they want to combine forces to create a French “champion” for “quality tourism” to recognise visitors’ wishes for a local experience. Christian Biancaniello of Clé­ vacances said it would “make our territories live even more strongly and work for the satisfaction of holidaymakers and the discovery of our heritage”. Even working together, however, they are dwarfed Hotspots • TV by the 400,000 properties Airbnb has

on its books in France, although none carry a recognised quality tourism label. Gîtes de France undertakes €1.1billion of business a year through its network of 42,000 owners of gites and chambres d’hôtes who run 70,000 properties while Clévacances has 20,000 properties on its lists. Their key is that both have years of customer satisfaction across the country and not just in Paris and major cities. The partnership will be finalised in autumn when the two groups – which will stay distinct but work together on marketing and promotion – will put forward new package offers on travel and other services.

third with more than 8 million, a 14.8% growth on 2016. The Eiffel Tower had 6.2 million paying visitors but is close to being too busy and is controlling numbers with an online ticket office for timed visits. Even Mont Blanc has had to set limits with too many climbers crowding the Refuge du Goûter, making the route to the summit unsafe. Mr Mantei added: “With the growth of tourist arrivals coming mainly from Asia, first-time visitors dreaming of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, the phenomenon can only get worse. “We must think of quality not quantity to preserve a balance between tourist activity, quality of life for residents and preservation of the environment.”

One in five pools breaks safety laws ONE in five private swimming pools does not have safety equipment, breaking the law obliging all pools to have a cover, alarm or barrier in place. Even where there is equipment, most had covers that do not meet standards, a study for Mano­Mano DIY site found. Many covers aimed to keep pools clean but could not support the weight of a person falling in. Around 400 people drown each summer in France with 121 deaths from June 1 July 5 this year. One in seven people cannot swim and poor lessons and a lack of lifeguards have partly been blamed. n See Page 32

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Experts for Expats in France

NEW low-cost trains could start services through the Channel Tunnel after operator GetLink (the new name for EuroTunnel) paid for a study to see if they could be viable. GetLink chief executive Jacques Gounon told French paper the Journal du Dimanche “the rail market is ready for cheap and premium offers to coexist” and opening the link to low-cost trains could see a “58% increase in the number of people using the Channel Tunnel”. No interested operator has so far come forward

but Eurostar, which runs the present services, has ruled itself out. Spokeswoman Bérénice Decharn­ eux said it read speculation “with interest” but had no plans for such a service. The tunnel is under-utilised and the study said a low-cost model like SNCF’s Ouigo or the Thalys Izy could link to peripheral stations, use older rail lines to give a three-hour service at 25-30% less than the present 2hr20min London-Paris link. GetLink lists ‘new destinations and low-cost carriers’ in its June 2018 report to investors.

The Connexion

August 2018


Beekeeper’s trap blocks hornet queens – and no other insects A BRETON beekeeper is preparing for Europe-wide sales of his innovative trap for Asian hornets after he won France’s most prestigious inventor’s prize. Denis Jaffré’s traps are unique as they catch the queens in spring thus avoiding having to deal with nests in summer – but they allow other insects to escape. They have been welcomed as a way of fighting the hornets which eat bees and other pollinating insects while not harming other wildlife. Hornets are estimated to have killed 10-15% of bees in France. The idea won this year’s Grand Prix du Concours Lépine for its effectiveness and originality. Currently methods to destroy the nests involve insecticides which contaminate the environment and harm birds and small animals which eat the poisoned hornets. Another option is having marksmen shoot at a nest but this is only possible in limited circumstances. Mr Jaffré from Locmélar, Finistère has been investigating non-toxic solutions for years but increased his efforts after hornets destroyed a third of his hives in 2016. The hornets’ rugby-ball shaped

another trap on the market but it’s mostly used to catch worker hornets during summer. “It’s down to the shape and dimensions of the entrance, which is perfectly matched to the body of the Asian hornet queen. “The European hor­net is bigger and cannot get in and, due to interlocking compartments, smaller insects can get out.” He said the system can be used later in the year, also in a selective way, to catch workers and further protect hives. Mr Jaffré, of La Miellerie du Pontic, said once production is up-and-running he will prioritise those who have pre-ordered. He will sell two essential funnel-shaped parts (see photo) for €9.60 and will give details of how to assemble a trap online (the other components are widely available). It should be used with bait of wax and honey. I’d like them to be available to as many European people as possible to fight against this problem

Denis Jaffré with one of the traps

nests can produce 20,000 hornets over the season so trapping queens before nests are built is effective. However, until now traps – often home-made – have been too indiscriminate. Mr Jaffré said: “I’ve been studying the behaviour of queens in spring for years. My trap is the only system that’s preventative. There is

More foreign speeders to get fines but not Britons DRIVERS from 17 countries will get fines in the post if they are caught by speed cameras... but UK drivers will still escape. France has signed deals with three new countries to penalise cross-border offences but no deal has been done with the UK. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania now share car registration details with France and owners from there – plus French owners caught in the 17 countries – may now be sent fine notices for driving offences. These include speeding, no seatbelt, ignoring lights, motorcyclists not wearing a helmet, driving down no-entry roads or using a mobile. Around a fifth of cars flashed in France are foreign-registered and half of cars flashed during the summer. Information sharing is aimed at cracking down on this, and

has been steadily rolled out with more than half of the EU countries following a directive agreed in 2015. Offenders receive fine notices in their own language and a second is sent if no payment is made. If there is still no payment the offence stays on a database and the driver would be forced to pay immediately if ever stopped by police in France. Countries with which France has no agreement yet are mostly distant from its borders, such as Sweden, Finland, Croatia and Greece but the UK is the exception – and a French Interior Min­ istry spokesman said the UK had not wanted to put an agreement in place. A British Department for Transport spokesman said this was because Britain only fines the driver in road offences and

the EU directive does not contain a legal mechanism to compel owners of foreign-registered cars to say who was driving, unlike when a British-registered car is flashed in the UK. In France the registered owner is fined unless they provide name and address and driving licence number of the person who was driving instead. However, UK drivers do not escape punishment if caught in person by police or gendarmes – as with two British bikers flashed at 204kph on an 80kph road in Pas de Calais in July. Their licences were confiscated, bikes impounded and they were banned from French roads for several months. Meanwhile, road death figures in France for June show a 9.3% drop, or 30 fewer deaths, compared to June last year.

Cheap options for pet holidays EACH summer up to 100,000 cats and dogs are dumped as people fail to find kennels or catteries or find them too dear but there are cheap options. Consumer magazine Que Choisir suggests several ways, such as getting neighbours or friends to ‘pet-sit’ for each other, or to invite a family member to stay or pop in every day to check (make sure pet food is provided). People on Animal-fute.com, Animalkeepers.fr and Animovacances.fr will take in a pet and then

get the favour returned. Some on Animovacances. fr will do so just for fun and Empruntemontoutou. com has similar and others who will walk dogs. Animalin.com, Animaute.fr, DogBuddy.com, Dogsitting.fr and Holidog.com offer people who will pop in to stop the animal being lonely – a solution for weekends away but can cost €15 a day. Kennels cost up to €25/day while pet-sitters cost €150/week at Ani-Maison, Ani-Seniors-Services, Homesitting, Ilidor and Home Company.

effectively,” he said. He will give updates via his Facebook page (Jabeprode) and later at jabeprode.fr (it stands for ‘Jaffré’s Bee Protection Device’). Asian hornets were first seen in south-west France in 2004 and are thought to have arrived in a Chinese shipment of pottery. They have spread by around 100km a year and are now in all regions. They can pose a risk to people where someone comes across a nest accidentally, such as when cutting a hedge. “They attack straight away and you have a lot of stings very suddenly,” Mr Jaffré said. Earlier this year a woman from Beauvais in the Oise nearly died after going into anaphylactic shock when she was stung at least a dozen times after disturbing a nest in a garden outbuilding. She called emergency services, a move which saved her life, before blacking out. If you find a nest do not approach it but notify firefighters, the mairie or a pest control firm. Asian hornets differ from native European hornets in that they have a smaller, darker body and their legs are dark at the top and yellow at the bottom.

News 3

Major boost for business set-up CREATION of new businesses soared 15.6% over the last 12 months, thought to be linked to new government measures. Business set-up increased in all sectors, especially among micro-entreprises, which are up 24.8%, but also among traditional sole trader businesses (19.3%) and to a lesser extent, companies (2.4%). The year-on-year rise was especially marked over the last quarter at 21.2%. The sectors with the largest amounts of business creation were transport and storage, followed by property-related businesses. There were a particularly high number of set-ups for home-delivery, including people working for schemes like Deliveroo, UberEats and Foodora. The boost in the micro-entreprise sector has been hailed as a welcome development – it took off strongly after the auto-entrepreneur was launched 10 years ago but had more recently been running out of steam. President of the Union des Auto-entrepreneurs, François Hurel, has called it “spectacular and a very good sign for the economy”. Recent trends include more women setting up businesses, and higher average turnovers. The rise has been linked to measures such as a first year of exoneration from social charges (with a limit of €30,000 turnover) and the doubling of the ceilings for the simple micro-entreprise set-up. Also in the pipeline is the Pacte Law, to be debated by MPs in the autumn. It includes a ‘one-stop shop’ way to make the declarations required in creating a company (société), removing the obligation for micro-entrepreneurs in artisan sectors to do a set-up course, and removing for firms with small turnovers, the requirement to have a separate bank account. Plans for better protection: Page 36

4 Brexit


The Connexion

August 2018

Don’t panic and cards will be valid, says ministry MANY Britons have applied for an EU citizen’s carte de séjour as a safeguard but there have been reports of difficulties. You have told us you have communicated with the prefectures. Are you confident that this kind of problem will not happen again? You can never be completely confident when it comes to the civil service but difficulties should be less frequent. If people have problems still how can they solve the issue? If it is impossible to overcome the ‘resistance of the [foreigner’s service] counter’, as well as of the head of the foreigners’ service, it is advisable to write making an appeal to the prefect. If this fails, applying to Solvit is a possibility, or to the Défenseur des Droits. The latter has delegates in each department, giving voluntary help to users who feel their rights have been infringed by officials. If mediation fails, it is possible to apply to the administrative court. Finally, it can be useful to inform the local press in your department: prefects generally pay close attention to this. In some prefectures there is no appointment booking system; you have to queue, sometimes for hours. It can be hard for the elderly or disabled. Can anything be done? Seeing foreign users by appointment is being rolled out

throughout the country. In the short term, I can only invite people in this situation to call the prefecture concerned in order to find an ad hoc solution. In some departments where there is a booking system, there are difficulties to have a slot, or long waits. Do you have a good understanding of the number of Britons and where they are, and can you manage the demand? Consideration is under way at a high level to find a solution in the event of an influx of British people to the prefectures. At that point, if the need arises, a specific reception system could be set up in the departments with the most Britons - of which we have fairly reliable assessments. ‘Inactive’ people may be asked for proof of a certain income level. Will prefectures be flexible about this? EU texts stress the need to take individual situations into account. In this respect, I invite Britons with modest incomes to provide proof of all their income, not just their regular income (pensions, salaries...). The au­tho­rities must take into account all income, including irregular income, financial assistance provided by relatives and financial capital. Finally, prefectures must take into account factors other than financial, in particular degree of integration into French society and how long someone has lived in France. In a debate in the National Assembly [ministry official] Agnès Fontana said whatever

Photo: British Embassy Rome

Connexion has interviewed a senior Interior Ministry official about Britons in France and cartes de séjour

Optimism in ‘invalid Brexit talks’ case

SECOND World War veteran Harry Shindler, 97, pictured, and his lawyer Julien Fouchet, expect a judgement on their case about the validity of the EU Brexit talks in the next few months. The case argues that the Brexit negotiations are illegal because long-term British expatriates were excluded from the 2016 vote that led to the talks, effectively penalising them for using their EU free movement rights. Mr Fouchet told Connexion he was optimistic after a hearing at the General Court of the EU in Luxembourg. “There were long debates, the judges were very interested and asked a lot of questions,” he said. “The case and the procedure are unprecedented, the result is uncertain.” He thinks the case could lead to the talks being called off and a new referendum being held with long-term expats included. It comes as an EU-wide bid has been launched gathering signatures calling for an EU law enabling Britons to keep their EU citizenship and rights after Brexit. Due to a technicality, however Britons in France cannot take part (see our website for more).

happened with Brexit France would respect as an acquired right the right of residence of people who had obtained a permanent residency card. Can you confirm that? Of course. The post-Brexit rules will only apply to new arrivals and residence permits of Britons already present in France will remain valid, whatever their length of validity. Breaking this

rule would be contrary to the rule of law and would also create a chaotic situation that the civil service is keen to do without. Assu­ming there is an agreement on expatriates’ rights as negotiated, have you decided how British expatriates in France will prove their rights under the agreement? British citizens residing in

France before Brexit and holding a European residency permit will retain the benefit of it. In principle, they will not have to ask for a new card. British citizens who do not have an EU carte de séjour when Brexit happens will be subject to the same rules as their compatriots who do have one, provided that they meet the required conditions. An EU residency permit is not compulsory. It would therefore be discriminatory, just after Brexit happens, to cause worry for some Britons and not others when they find themselves in similar situations. In any event, the British, who do not have a European card, will be invited to regularise their situation, according to arrangements still to be determined (ie. whether they will have to go to the prefecture, whether a specific service might be set up etc.). In any case, they will not be penalised compared to compatriots who already hold European cards. [The DGEF, the section of the Interior Ministry dealing with foreign people’s residency, confirmed that ‘regularising their situation’ means they will need to apply for a residency card, and it will not at that stage be an ‘EU’ one – it is not clear yet what it will say on it; the aim however will be that those who apply will not face additional difficulties compared to those who had applied for EU cards. Connexion understands it is therefore expected, for example, to be free of charge, unlike ordinary cards for non-EU citizens which are charged for. If all goes according to the draft exit deal, people would have to apply for a card at the latest by six months after the end of the transition period, ie. mid-2021].

Deadline looms, EU refers to ‘cliff edge’ exit Pressure at THE EU has stepped up preparations for a possible ‘no deal’ scenario with time very tight before the deadline for having a complete exit deal agreed before the next European Council summit on October 18. It has a 17-page document on ‘preparedness’ and 68 other documents on different economic and other sectors, saying it is preparing for all eventualities, including a ‘no deal or cliff-edge scenario’ with no transition period and “no specific arrangement in place for EU citizens in the UK or UK citizens in the EU”. The UK’s new Brexit Minister Dominic Raab told a TV interviewer he believes the deadline can be reached and said the EU is “irresponsible” to use such language. The reason, however, is that all the negotiations on continuing ‘citizens’ rights’ in this unique situation of people ceasing to be EU citizens have been based on the deal and, as there was no agreement to ‘ring-fence’ the rights part, Britons in the EU could be left ‘in limbo’ should there be no deal. Speaking on behalf of EU colleagues, Aus­ trian EU Minister Gernot Blümel said the biggest problem is the Northern Irish border and there has been no ‘substantial progress’. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said another issue is agreeing on outlines of the future UK/EU relationship (on trade and security etc) which is to be attached to the

deal as a statement of political objectives for further talks. He said a UK ‘white paper’ allows for ‘constructive discussion’ but questions remain on how ‘workable’ its ideas are. In the event of ‘no deal’, EU citizens in the UK may be in a clearer situation than Britons in the EU. This is because the UK has put its controversial new ‘settled status’ for them into national law (however this does not cover rights such as exported benefits or EU ‘pension aggregation’). Unless there is an EU-wide decision on how Britons should be treated after a ‘cliffedge’ exit, their situation will vary state by state – in which case information given to Connexion by the Interior Ministry (above) is reassuring. The white paper also offers positive points for Britons seeking to move after a transition period (existing expats are covered by the draft deal). It says the UK wants to maintain UK pension uprating and aggregation and pensioners’ healthcare abroad for those who move to the EU after Brexit. However it gives mixed messages as it also reiterates wishes to end free movement and prioritises ‘the brightest and the best’. (The UK wants to reduce net immigration to tens of thousands; new figures show that net EU immigration last year was 101,000 compared to 227,000 for people from outside the EU).

The paper also reiterates the UK’s support for ‘onward free movement’ rights for existing British expats in EU countries, such as Britons in France who may want to live or work elsewhere in the future. Theoretically the Brexit talks could be extended beyond March 29, 2019, avoiding (or putting off) a ‘cliff-edge’, but the UK has not, so far, asked for this and it would require unanimous agreement by the other states. Some expert commentators say the bar for this would be set very high, such as a change of government after a general election, or another referendum. EU Parliament elections in May 2019 also mean an extension may be complicated. In either case, there would then be a risk that long-term (more than 15 years) British expats in the EU would miss out again unless the franchise was changed for the referendum as compared to last time or a bill on ending the 15-year limit, going (slowly) through parliament, is speeded up. Asked about this the Cabinet Office said they ‘cannot speculate on theoretical scenarios’. At present the bill is not expected to move to its next ‘committee’ phase of debate until September or October, the MP responsible for it, Glyn Davies, said. It would then go to the Lords and is not likely to become law until early next year, he told Connexion.

prefectures SOME prefectures are struggling with demand from Britons for cartes de séjour. Many now have online booking systems for appointments, avoiding long queues – however in some areas they are fully booked up or giving appointments a year or more ahead. The Dordogne prefecture said slots are booked up to the end of October, but that it does not plan to open up more until the start of October as it considers there is no point offering bookings too far ahead. It said Britons should not resort to booking into slots reserved for non-Europeans and they will look to see if it is possible to free up more slots. The Hérault prefecture is also fully booked. Meanwhile one reader was offered an appointment in September 2019 at the Deux-Sèvres prefecture in Niort. We contacted the prefecture for an explanation but staff declined to comment.

Have you planned for the case of ‘no deal’? It is likely that in the event of a ‘no deal’, negotiations will be prolonged. In the unlikely event of a ‘no deal’, the British already present in France will continue to benefit from the same rules. On the other hand, Britons settling in France after Brexit will be subject to ordinary immigration law - unless otherwise provided for in a EU/UK or FrancoBritish migration agreement. What will happen with regard to residence rights of Britons coming after Brexit? If an agreement is reached [between the UK and EU] on this, the British will have the same right of residence in all EU states - in France as elsewhere in Europe, if not [as mentioned above] they could be subject to ordinary immigration laws, however it is likely that a bilateral or multilateral agreement would be made clarifying the right of residence of our citizens on both sides of the Channel. In both cases, given the degree of economic integration between the UK and the continent, I have no doubt that both the British and Europeans will be subject to rules that, while stricter than at present, would be more flexible than basic immigration law. Even if it is sometimes difficult, we must have faith in the intelligence of our leaders. Is there anything else you would like to say to Britons living in France? To paraphrase one of your greatest writers, Don’t panic! CONNEXION notes that estimates for numbers of Britons in the EU and France have been dropping – the UK refers to 800,000 in its recent white paper on the future EU/UK relationship, as opposed to 1.2m, a United Nations estimate often used in debates on Brexit. Recently the UK’s Office of National Sta­tistics suggested 900,000. The latter, like a figure of 150,000 Britons in France supplied by France’s Insee, is based on census data. However Insee told Connexion that in censuses people can only give one nationality so those with double nationality are often not included in statistics for ‘Britons’. For more about this and general Brexit updates such as on the Fouchet/ Shindler case and a translation of the list of documents for a residency card see our Brexit website page at: connexion france. com/French-news/Brexit

The Connexion

August 2018

News 5


State ready to sell its Station triples in size for Olympics and Brexit Paris airport stake to invest in innovation PARIS airports will be fully privatised in 2019 as the government moves to end the conflict between it being the largest shareholder in the owning company of Charlesde-Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget airports while also being the air industry regulator. At present the state holds 50.6% of Groupe ADP (formerly Aéroports de Paris) and the sale was a campaign promise of President Macron. There had been doubts over whether it could be achieved as it proved harder than expected to set up. ADP operates the Paris airports and, unlike France’s other airports, also owns the land on which they sit, making it difficult for the government as it did not want to sell the land. The solution was to create a 70-year “quasi-concession” for the sites. Thomas Juin, president of the Union des Aéroports Français, representing all 150 French public airports, told Connexion that most in the industry supported the move. “It is commonly felt it is not the job of the government to run an international firm, and ADP, with market capitalisation of €1.8billion, is an international business. “At the moment the government is in a

News in brief Microscope can see cancer-cell workings

SCIENTISTS at the Institut Pasteur in Paris have just fitted the world’s most powerful microscope that gives an atomscale view to find how cancer or HIV cells move and work. Titan Krios is a €10million 3.8m cryo-electron microscope that was in part crowdfunded. Research on it elsewhere has led to three Nobel Prizes.

Court says state ‘not at fault’ for Bataclan JUDGES have rejected bids by the families of victims of the Paris Bataclan and other terror attacks in November 2015 to lay blame on the state and police for the 130 deaths. Paris Tribunal Admin­istratif said it could not be proved the state was at fault for any lack of surveillance of the attackers and the police could not be faulted for the lack of surveillance at the Bataclan venue.

Google to lay subsea cable to French coast GOOGLE is to lay a submarine transatlantic cable to add cap­ acity on one of the internet’s busiest routes and give highbandwidth, secure connections between the US and Europe. Laid from Virginia to the French Atlantic coast, the private service will open in 2020. It is named after Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross.

tricky legal position too, because it is the regulator, with a heavy responsibility for safety and security at one of the world’s major airports, and also the owner operator. Obviously there can be conflict.” France already has three privatised airports and the operating companies at Nice, Toulouse and Lyon have long concessions. The Toulouse sale caused a political storm when a Chinese investment consortium bought the 49% controlling stake in 2015. There are no plans for other privatisations but Mr Juin said that, if it happens, it would be Marseille as it has enough traffic and good infrastructure to attract bids. In all, the state aims to sell all or some of its stakes in ADP, lottery firm Fran­çaise des Jeux and energy giant Engie. Finance Min­ ister Bruno Le Maire valued its stakes at €15bn, with ADP alone worth €9.5bn. It will give details in the coming Loi Pacte and said it would invest the proceeds to fund innovation and pay off national debt. Meanwhile, Nice Airport has brought in a facial recognition system to speed border checks at both departures and arrivals at Terminal 2. It replaces passport control and fingerprint checks as used at Lyon and Marseille and is said to take just 10 seconds.

EUROPE’S busiest rail station, the Gare du Nord in Paris, is to triple in size by 2023, a year before the city hosts the Olympics. It will be able to handle more than 800,000 passengers a day, 100,000 more than today. The design brings in airport-style separation of arriving and departing travellers. SNCF president Guillaume Pepy said Brexit had

Beware phone cons as four arrested in €38m call/text scam FOUR staff at a small Paris phone firm have been arrested over a €38million call scam after the fraud squad targeted ‘middlemen’ in cons which fleeced tens of thousands of people. The workers of Viva Multimedia were accused of ‘organised gang fraud and money laundering’ by providing surcharged phone lines for foreign scammers to use. The scammer then texts or calls for the customer to call back; once the call is returned the costs start to mount up bringing in from €10 to €200 for the calls. The fraud squad had more than 20 boxes full of complaints. One girl thought she had won free tickets to Disneyland via a Facebook page and when she called the number given was told the call was free... but ended up with a bill of €194.

The DGCCRF fraud agency says it has investigated 69 firms over the past 18 months and charges are pending against 46 but while scammers were getting increasingly sophisticated they still relied heavily on fake texts, ‘ping’ calls or spam. It warns people to beware texts advising of an impending delivery, an appointment or a breach of some rule with a number to call to object. Check numbers against the Numéros SVA site infosva.org which gives full cost details. Take care over calls from 10-figure numbers starting 08, six-figure numbers starting 118 and four-figure numbers starting with a 3 or a 1. You can also report numbers on the site. Emails from firms you deal with should also be treated with care in case of phishing attempts for sensitive information.

India overtakes France INDIA has overtaken France to be the world’s sixth-largest economy and the World Bank says it is likely to also overtake the UK. At the end of June India’s gross domestic product was $2.597trillion, with France on $2.582tn and the UK on $2.62tn. As India has 1.34 billion inhabitants against the 67 million in France the annual earnings per head are vastly inferior – with $1,940 (€1,670) in India and $38,477 (€33,144) in France – but it is on course to be the world’s third largest economy in 15 years.

been a factor. Its Eurostar terminal will “emulate” St Pancras in London and be extended to face “the challenges of reinforced border controls due to Brexit” with dedicated platforms walled off from other areas. However, he said “traffic will not slow down but rather will increase by 50% by 2030”. The station will grow from 36,000m2 to 110,000m2 Running on the roof of the station will be possible once work at Gare du Nord ends in 2023

Photo: Ceetrus - Valode & Pistre Architecte



with 50,000m2 for shops and services that will include rooftop cafes, bars and garden, 1km running track, a giant co-working space and a 2,000-seat concert hall. Built on the site of the present bus terminal, the multi-level glass building will have a new facade on Rue Faubourg Saint-Denis with direct departures access along with Metro and bus station connection. What is now the Transilien access will be opened up with glass walls and roof, a 300m long and 18m wide central alley to access Eurostar, TGV, Transilien and RER trains. The €600million scheme will be run in a joint venture with SNCF and property developer Ceetrus. It will also see public and commercial areas round the station improved.

one who knows France

Mont St Michel, Normandy

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6 News


The Connexion

August 2018

Photos: Lucas Santucci/Zeppelin

Plastic-powered boat can save the oceans... from plastic Americans

EVERY minute 18 tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans and multiple studies show 99% of it sinks to the ocean floor to kill marine life. It breaks down into tiny particles eaten by plankton, which are then eaten by small fish, which are eaten by larger fish until they end up in the fish we eat. Indeed, sea salt, beer, honey, sugar, tap water and the air we breathe all contain microscopic particles and a 2017 study showed we all have these tiny plastic particles in our bodies. It would be impossible to dredge the plastic off the seabed; it is too deep and too melded to the marine life there but we can stop it getting worse. “We have to stop plastic entering the oceans in the first place,” says Simon Bernard, 27, leader of the Plastic Odyssey project in Bordeaux, which is developing a converter to turn plastic into fuel and building materials. The idea is to show it

News in brief Measles claims third life in 12 months MEASLES has claimed a third life in 12 months in France with a 17-year-old girl dying in Bordeaux. It is the second death in Nouvelle-Aquitaine after a 32-year-old woman died in Poitiers in February. The Agence Régionale de Santé said not enough people were being vaccinated.

Home HIV test gives a result in 10 minutes AN Alsace laboratory has launched a self-test HIV kit that costs just €10 at a pharmacy, a third of the cost of many other tests. The Biosynex Exacto test is aimed at people who fear going to see their GP, with 25,000 undiagnosed cases in France. A finger-prick blood sample gives a response in 10 minutes.

Take your peck: hire a hen before you buy ANYONE who would like to get a hen to eat kitchen scraps and supply fresh eggs can hire one to see if they can cope. Website e-loue.com has adverts offering various laying breeds at about €5/week or €15/month with a €10 deposit. Hens can eat 150kg of waste and give 200 eggs a year.

Clearing plastic from beaches and using it to power their boat lets the Odyssey team sell their ideas globally has a value and stop it being dumped. “We’re building a boat with the machines to travel the world like a floating laboratory, showing people how to build similar machines to turn waste into valuable commodities. “Then plastic won’t end up in the sea.” He and a team of volunteer techies and engineers have built a quarter-size prototype, called Ulysse, and are making the plans patent-free and open-source so they are free for others to use. Mr Bernard said: “It is providing data to improve the design of Odyssey. We are now looking for technical partners and finance, to help build it, and for

partners around the world, especially in the worst hit countries, to publicise the project and prepare for our arrival. “It’s never too late. It would have been better if we had stopped before, but we can still stop polluting the oceans now.” As a former merchant seaman he saw damage round the world and says while the government can take small steps and ban plastic straws it is a global problem. “Plastic which enters the sea in France can end up anywhere in the world.” Collecting plastic off the beach, they feed it into a shredder to make plastic chips which are fed into a small pyrolysis chamber at 450C to create an oil that is

‘cracked’ into petrol and diesel to drive the boat motor and other systems. Odyssey will be powered by waste plastic on its global trip and although it is a daunting task, he is optimistic. “The further we go, the more support we get. People are joining us, offering time and expertise for free. We feel like we’re going with the flow not against it. “Lots of people contact us from Africa, as they want to do something, to join in, get the machines themselves.” Plastic Odyssey’s voyage will show how to create energy from waste and their designs will be available for free. See Quelle Bonne Idée – Page 32

reminded to sign up for a vote

US citizens living overseas who want to vote in the midterm elections on November 6 are advised to register in early August to ensure their vote. The registration deadline is imminent for the vote in which all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. A total 39 state and territorial governorships and numerous state and local elections will also take place. The Federal Voting Assistance Program recommends using the Federal Post Card Application, available at FVAP.gov, to register and request an absentee ballot to ensure voters can take part. On the site, eligible voters can find their state’s specific registration and ballot request deadlines, as well as information on completing their application, which is accepted by all states and territories.

Firebug jailed after two fires A FIREBUG has been jailed for 18 months, with 12 suspended, after starting two forest fires in Ardèche and Drôme that destroyed 12 hectares of land and needed 110 pompiers. It is the second such offence for the 47-year-old from St-Vallier.

Nurse’s translation brainwave aids people from 200 countries Dogs detect

diabetes and help families


A NIGHT nurse in the casualty department at Rennes CHU hospital has built a simple medical translation website which allows French-speaking staff to communicate with patients in 200 countries’ languages. Marion Verdaguer taught herself how to build a website, and worked on the project during her time off. “I saw a number of occasions where staff in the casualty unit were not able to communicate with foreign patients and make a diagnosis,” she told The Connexion. “Medical terms can be complicated, even when people speak our language well.” The www.Tralelho.fr site can be accessed from a computer, tablet or smartphone and uses a map of the world on the front page to direct patients to the language pages. Other links give pdf files with common questions on childcare, X-rays, administration and anaesthesia as well as a Microsoft Bing automatic translator. It could be a vital source of information for English-speakers with limited French, but medical terminology can be a problem even for those who speak French well and can cause anxiety. Ms Verdaguer said there was normally someone available in the unit who could translate for patients speaking English, German or Spanish but this was rarely the case with other languages. She said: “I have used it myself while at work, and have convinced my colleagues to

do so too. They have found it re-assuring to know the questions they are asked are understood and patients are able to respond by gesturing if need be. “It is also good for the patients at what is often a stressful time.” She started work on the website in 2016, and got help from volunteers in the online community, most of whom were medical professionals. Starting on the front page world map, users select a region or continent then click a country flag for a page with typical casualty unit queries in French and a translation in the country’s most used language. It is not aimed to help people perfect their French, rather to help them know what the nurse, doctor or administrator is asking. The questions cover the circumstances of

their arrival at the casualty unit, pain, brain functions, breathing, circulation, illness, digestive problems and medical history. In all, it has languages from about 200 countries including Portuguese for Brazil, Dutch for Suriname and Arab for Djibouti. Ms Verdaguer’s work was recognised by regional and medical authorities when she was awarded the Droits des usagers de la santé label that rewards initiatives making a significant contribution to healthcare. She said “The site is out there, and I am delighted if people find a use for it.” Using the site is free but people can donate via a link to PayPal. Readers who are fluent in languages other than English, German or Spanish are also sought to get involved to improve the site and help to promote it.

DOGS are being tested by three families in a pioneering move in France to help young people know if they are at risk from a diabetic attack as the dogs can smell blood sugar levels. With a sense of smell 200,000 times better than humans, dogs can tell if there is an abnormally high or low level of sugar in the blood and either let the youngster know or call for help if they do not respond. Parents talk of the stress that a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes brings with glucose tests every few hours day and night for the incurable, auto-immune disease that hits major organs. It affects 20,000 children in France. Three dogs were trained over eight months by the Acadia association but more than 60 people need help and Acadia needs funding to carry on. Research is also continuing at the Institut Curie in Paris where dogs are tested for their ability to detect breast cancer after 100% success in initial tests.

The Connexion

August 2018

News 7


Roadside history being lost, one sign at a time by BRIAN McCULLOCH MICHELIN road signs are a familiar part of France, so familiar people are not noticing their disappearance, but numbers are falling and with them goes part of France’s history. Their UK equivalent could be the red phone box or the yellow AA box and, likewise, they are only being saved by local groups and associations campaigning to keep the remaining enamel on lava rock signs, often set in a standard reinforced concrete post. First created as an advertising campaign by André Michelin, co-founder with brother Edouard of the tyre company, early signs had a Michelin logo on them to promote their tyres. They were called ‘merci’ signs as many were sited at the entry to villages with a message Veuillez ralentir [Slow down] and another had Merci on it at the exit. Early versions, from 1910, had two faces with information such as place names, road numbers as well as the name of the sponsor. After the First World War, André Michelin took it upon himself to sign France’s roads for early motorists and set a standard design

Philippe de Priester keeps an online history of bornes Michelin of lava-rock with an enamelled sign to last longer than metal, and with standardised posts. The first reinforced concrete post was developed in 1918, but it took four more design changes before its final form was agreed in 1928. It was only in 1931 that the signs received official approval. This established the distinctive-looking road signs France keeps to this day, including the Michelin dark blue lettering. “I became fascinated by them as a child in the 1970s,” said Philippe de Priester, whose website panneauxenbeton.fr details their history. “Simply, I find them beautiful and aesthetic.”

In 1946 the state laid down its own rules, with no sponsor’s names. The use of four-way concrete posts was limited to the most important intersections and the widespread use of arrow signs began, along with standardised international road signs. Michelin continued to produce the signs and the posts, with giant saws used to slice the hard lava rock into 15mm thick slabs at a speed of five millimetres an hour until 1971, when lighter, less durable enamelled metal or stick on plastic signs took over. Cut slabs were steam cleaned, treated with mastic to make them smooth, then covered in white enamel paint and sent to 900C kilns to be baked. Once cool, a coat of blue or red

enamel paint gave the text before the signs were sent back for another 900C bake. Finally, they were placed in the concrete mould for the posts, and the concrete poured on top to seal. The weight of the lava rock signs, which varies from between 100 kg to 150kg, plus the fact that they were so well fitted to the sign posts, makes collecting them difficult. “It is also one of the reason why they resist in some areas,” said Mr de Priester, who lives in southern Corsica. “You need to think twice before moving something so heavy.” Today, heaviest concentrations of the signs are in south Finistère, Vendée, Oise and the Hérault back country, but they still cling on in many towns

and villages where they are sought after by foreign TV crews doing reports about France, or films, to set the atmosphere. Known varyingly as borne Michelin or panneaux Michelin the tyre company says it made 300,000 up to the end in 1970. It has a film of how they were made on its michelin.com site. It is not known how many are left but Mr de Priester says the state does not recognise their heritage value and they are often removed and dumped by national and department workers. “Attempts to save them are almost all at a very local level. There are a few local associations, or even individuals who fight to keep them as part of our heritage.”

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8 News


Photo: France-Galop

POORLY maintained graves of British horseracing pioneers who created the world-famous Chantilly racecourse are to be restored as the local mairie and British community work on ways to preserve them and their stories for the future. Many of the graves in Bois Bourillon have been left untended since the racing families had to flee France during the Second World War and, as in all cemeteries, if no one is taking care of graves, the mairie can take them over and sell off the plots. Local concerns led to the mairie doing a survey of the tombs and organising to work with the community and the Reverend Sarah Tillett of St Peter’s Church, Chantilly, on ways to clean and restore the graves. The town publicises the cemetery as a site of ‘historic interest’ for tourists as its Carré des Anglais was “réservé aux lads, jockeys et entraîneurs” with the tombs of British racing families and their descendants, while its Carré Militaire has graves of French and German soldiers and Polish lancers. It also has the graves of many national figures. Now, after an inventory of the tombs and with each being photographed, the mairie is working with the church and the British community to classify the tombs and the work to be done. A third stage will see restoration started on the most urgent tombs funded by local authority grants and donations from the

Thousands attend races at Chantilly

Photo: © Ville de Chantilly

Joint plan to save Chantilly racing history from decay

Bois Bourillon is unusual with its racing section, with many headstones in English has no duty to do repairs but has mainpublic and families who can be contacted. Chantilly Hippodrome is famous for host- tained the cemetery and cleaned tombs and ing the Prix de Diane Longines and the Prix done small repairs as it would at any other du Jockey Club which bring in thousands of important local historic site. A maire representative said: “It is obvious VIP spectators but the whole French racing industry springs from the work of many of tombs this age are going to be blackened but if one is not being maintained we will those buried in Cimetière Bourillon. Racehorse trainers, jockeys, stable staff put up a notice to contact the mairie. If and groundsmen were brought over from nothing is done in three years we will take England, where horse racing was fully over the plot and maintain it ourselves. “There is no question of lairs in the hisestablished and the first race was in 1834. Two years later the inaugural Prix du toric Carré des Anglais being sold off.” The Rev. Tillett said the news was a Jockey Club, the French Derby, was held and the French Oaks, the Prix de Diane, “major step forward”. “The mairie is looking for ways to get the seven years after that. Eventually a training centre and forest gallops were created to lay racing families involved as they are responsible for maintenance but they have done a the foundations for today’s success. The Carré des Anglais has the tombs of huge amount of work with details of all the leading race families with Carter, Corring­ tombs as well as a photographic record and ham, Cun­ ning­ ton, Flat­ man, Hurst and details of work to be done. “Now I hope someone in the local comJennings. Some of the Aga Khan’s race stamunity will volunteer to do some historical ble staff are also buried in Bois Bourillon. But catastrophe hit in June 1940 when digging to track down the families and see British families had to leave as the Germans if they can contribute. “It may even be possible to have a comarrived, the majority never to return. Now, with few descendants living nearby, memoration of the British community’s tombs have not been maintained as upkeep involvement in horse racing in Chantilly is a family legal responsibility. The mairie and that would be an other important step.”

The Connexion

August 2018

Volunteer ‘fathers’ praised for saving endangered vulture A TEAM of volunteers have saved an endangered bearded vulture and her chick in the Alps by supplying food after the father bird was killed. They combined fine detective work, unconventional thinking and walked many kilometres as well as climbing heights to save the gypaète barbu, one of only about 130 pairs in France. The father – whose wingspan reached up to 2.8m – had flown into a high tension cable and been killed but park rangers at Parc National de la Vanoise in Savoie saw from its plumage that it had been helping incubate a chick and realised the mother would be left alone to both raise the gypaéton and find food. Bearded vulture parents take turns guarding the nest and hunting for food and the rangers feared the mother could not do both. They discovered the male was one of a pair near PeiseyNancroix and had a month-old chick, which was vulnerable to predators and hypothermia being high up in the mountain. Bearded vultures eat mainly bleached carcass bones and will often drop bones on to rocks from a height to break them up, so the volunteers and rangers decided to try to offer similar food in sites near the nest. Made up of local residents, members of the LPO bird protection society and other volunteers they gathered bones and cartilage from the slaughter-

house at Bourg-Saint-Maurice and left it at sites around the nest... before then mounting guard to make sure other predators did not grab it. Peisey-Vallandry and PeiseyNancroix ski stations also loaned a caterpillar vehicle to make it easier to take bones up the mountain and the effort was so successful that the chick and its mother are now out of danger, and they have been able to stop the feeding. Eva Aliacar, director of the

Parc National de la Vanoise, thanked those involved saying they had worked tirelessly to save both mother and chick. She said: “We are overjoyed at the results of this wonderful piece of solidarity in action to ensure this chick’s survival, but we mustn’t forget this species is still endangered and our efforts to protect it must be long-term.” Survival depends on people avoiding disturbing them and on cables for power lines and ski lifts being fitted with beacons and tags to reduce the risk of birds flying into them. There are around 100 pairs of gypaète barbu in the Pyrénées and eight in Corsica. Twenty have been reintroduced into the Alps.

Health agency tells doctors Expats wait months for to ‘take tick bites seriously’ French driving licences FRANCE’S top health agency, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), has recognised that serious forms of Lyme disease from tick bites must be treated even if officially undiagnosed as patients otherwise face severely debilitating health effects. Last year there were 44,679 case of Lyme disease, nearly double that of 2014, but some people reported after treatment symptoms such as intense fatigue, sleep disorders, pain and cognitive problems, which were not indicative of the disease but mirrored symptoms of of others who had had bites but where Lyme was not diagnosed. The HAS responded to pleas from GPs involved in tick cases with recommendations for doctors to treat patients even if a test was negative. It grouped

Classic bull’s eye rash from Lyme’s disease after tick bite such cases as persistent polymorphic symptomatology/syndrome (SPPT) and said doctors should start to take such complaints seriously. If there was a negative diagnosis from tests but symptoms persisted then doctors should give antibiotics over 28 days to

see if that made a difference. Doctors have in the past been forced to stop practising after giving patients what the Ordre des Méd­ecins called unauthorised treatment and HAS was attacked by the Académie Nationale de Médecine. It said the HAS had accepted there was an illness “without the slightest proof ” and “in trying to satisfy everyone has satisfied no one”. Patients’ groups have said for years that the current tests are not accurate and the Académie said the HAS had given in to “blackmail” from pressure groups and authorised expensive and useless treatment. Patients and doctors group the FFMVT replied that a few months of cheap antibiotics could avoid decades of suffering for those affected.

DELAYS with the exchange of foreign driving licences for French ones have not yet been resolved at the new CERT licences centre in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique. Earlier this year we reported how there had been difficulties since the creation of the Centre d’Expertise et de Ressources Titres (centre of expertise and resources for licences), based at the Loire-Atlantique prefecture. The prefecture had said they would shortly be putting in place new, tailored IT systems and recruiting more staff. However Connexion continues to hear from readers who are waiting months for their new French licences. Expats may need to exchange, for example, a British licences for various reasons, such as having been flashed by a speed camera or having had a fine that would normally result in points being docked from a French licence, or because their UK licence is nearing its expiry date. One reader, Ian Shedden, 69, said he had been waiting almost four months and called it a “dreadful situation”.

Readers Loretta Tinckham from the Var and Richard Cherriman also reported four-month delays, with Ms Tinkham saying her UK licence has now expired; meanwhile David Wilson from Manche said he had been waiting five months. Connexion asked the prefecture if they can comment on why the delays are continuing, but they had not ‘approved’ a response on going to press (check connexionfrance.com for updates). Its previous advice was that firstly it is not necessary to send off the actual licence with your application (which is now done by post), so you should be able to keep this to show relevant authorities. It added that CERT should automatically send applicants an attestation de dépôt (official note attesting to it having received the application) which it said people may present to the police if necessary, as proof for why they are driving with a licence past its expiry date. The prefecture said this would be valid until a new licence was delivered. Connexion has asked about the validity of the attestation for driving abroad in other EU countries like the UK. We are awaiting a reply.

Police can call by when you are on holiday IF YOU are going away this summer, you can ask the police to pass by your empty home during their daily rounds. You can sign up for the free Opération Tranquillité Vacances service via a form at tinyurl.com/yd397j8o which you take to your local police/ gendarmerie with your passport and a recent electricity bill. In Paris, you must give five days’ notice, elsewhere two. It is also advised to: close windows and shutters, ask a neighbour to collect post and avoid leaving precious objects or large sums of cash in the home. Meanwhile police are warning of ‘fake police officers’ visiting homes to ask residents to “check valuables are safe due to a spate of local burglaries”. Ask to see their card (Est-ce que je peux voir votre carte professionnelle?) and, if in doubt, say je vais appeler la police pour vérifier (I’m going to call the police to check) and call 17. Police say that fake officers are likely to make off at this point but ask you report the incident.

Exception to EU inheritance rules A COURT has highlighted that bypassing French inheritance law with the 2015 EU regulation could be ruled invalid if it involves disinheriting children who are then left destitute. The Cour de Cassation ruled that a Frenchman living in the US could disinherit his children as this is allowed under American law (but not French). It said, however, this would not have been permitted if the children had been left in hardship as it would be contrary to the spirit of French law. The EU regulation allows people to choose in a will the law of their nationality to apply to their estate or otherwise the law of place of residence applies to their will if no choice is made.

August 2018


Solidarity is no longer a crime PEOPLE giving humanitarian help to illegal migrants will no longer be prosecuted after a law permitting this was found to be contrary to the concept of fraternité, one of France’s common ideals like egality and liberty. Constitutional authority the Conseil Constitutionnel has asked MPs to change, before December, part of immigration law allowing what opponents call ‘the offence of solidarity’. It comes after a legal challenge by Cédric Herrou, a farmer who was given a suspended sentence last year for helping migrants passing through the Roya Valley near the Italian border. The change is not expected to affect those helping people come into France but will mean it should no longer be an offence to give food and shelter or, for example, transport to apply for asylum at prefectures. France’s law had also previously been criticised by the Council of Europe and an EU directive issued asking states to only prosecute those profiting financially.

Photo: Marion Gachet Dieuzeide

The Connexion

Cédric Herrou with an Eritrean asylum seeker he helped The Conseil Constitutionnel, however based itself on the fact that the constitution says fraternity is one of the Republic’s ‘common ideals’. This principle had reportedly not previously been invoked in a legal decision,

unlike ‘equality’ and ‘liberty’. Mr Herrou said it is not yet clear if his own conviction will be overturned (he is pursuing an appeal), however he said: “This is a fine battle to have won for the Republic, for the real France.

“We have politicians who make use of migration to whip up fear and they think values of fraternity are left-wing and naive. But it’s a value of the French Republic to have solidarity with those less fortunate, whatever their origins, and to be sensitive towards suffering. “The message is that France is not racist, it’s not closed off. There is a difference between defending a geographical area and defending the country’s values and history, between nationalism and real patriotism.” He continues to help those asking for his support, often people fleeing wars and dictatorships. Separately, a court in Nice has dismissed a case against Amnesty Inter­ national volundry, 73, for teer Martine Lan­ helping two young Guineans enter France. She had simply taken them to French border police to be looked after as unaccompanied minors and no evidence of intentional wrongdoing was found.

What is fraternity and how far should it go? by NICK INMAN

TWO words in France’s motto – liberty and equality – could not be clearer. They are human rights. The third word, fraternity, however, is ambiguous but it plays a crucial role in making French society work. The Penal Code explains what fraternity means in extreme circumstances. It is a crime not to help a fellow human being in mortal danger if you can do so without risk to yourself. A moving example – in this case a voluntary act rather than an obligation – was the gendarme who volunteered to substitute himself for a hostage in the terrorist attack on a supermarket near Carcassonne. Recently, France has been debating a more complex dilemma: the case of a troop of soldiers that refused to assist the police in containing the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan theatre. They had to decide between their duty to obey orders and their duty to go to the aid of beleaguered fellow citizens. Generally speaking, however, unlike liberty and equality, fraternity is mostly not clearly defined in terms of legal obligations

and prohibitions; it is a moral injunction, an encouragement to good social behaviour. It insists that Frenchness, on a basic level, consists in being nice to each other, “because we have chosen to live together,” as the test for citizenship puts it. The literal meaning is the relationship be­ tween siblings but its grander sense emerged in the Revolution when it was used as an “all-for-one-and-one-for-all” cry by the have-nots challenging the ancien régime. Although fraternity has Christian overtones, in France it is considered a secular virtue. It extols cooperation in the common interest, which is still a big theme in modern society, as seen, for example in the social security and health systems. It implicitly demands we are loyal to our own people. The big question with fraternity is “who are we?” and how far does it extend? All Europeans are asking themselves how much solidarity they should show towards illegal immigrants, but the French have to wrestle with a niggling public conscience formally stated in their terms of citizenship. Do the human rights to liberty, equality and

fraternity end at the frontiers of France? In domestic politics, France is struggling to resolve the conflict between neoliberalism and the duty of fraternity: how should the state treat the disadvantaged who cannot compete in a free-for-all economy? Should the poor be helped out of compassion, at great expense; or should they be forced to get on their bikes and help themselves? There are no easy answers, just a difficult balancing act for any reforming government. While some voters will welcome stern treatment of unwanted immigrants and social security scroungers, there is a point where fraternity kicks in and the callousness of politicians and bureaucrats is despised. Fraternity has to be reinvented by ordinary people day by day. Curiously, it is not in politically sophisticated Paris where you see fraternity most in action but in the typical small rural commune. Villagers have to cohabit whether they are friend or foe, because they cannot avoid each other. In the end fraternity comes down to symbiosis: co-operation, however reluctant, that benefits everyone.

News 9

New thyroid formula is ‘good quality’ MEDICINE safety agency ANSM has confirmed the ‘good quality’ of a new, controversial formula of the thyroid drug Levothyrox after doing its own analysis of it. Levothyrox - manufactured by laboratory Merck - is the most widely-used treatment option for patients suffering from thyroid conditions, which can cause weight gain, depression, circulation problems, coldness and extreme fatigue. The new formula has been contested by patient association l’Association Française des Malades de la Thyroïde which has reported many complaints and says it is ineffective and causes side effects including headaches and dizziness.

Pesticides in honey under investigation THE Lyon public prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into ‘administering harmful substances’ after traces of the pesticide glyphosate were found in batches of honey. It follows a complaint by a beekeepers’ union in Aisne against the makers of the biggest glyphosate brand Roundup (German company Bayer, which has bought Monsanto and has French headquarters at Lyon). The pesticide, considered ‘probably carcinogenic’ by the World Health Organisation, is presumed to have contaminated the honey because bees cover a wide area in search of pollen. The case was sparked after one beekeeper had a 900kg delivery rejected by a large honey group due to the pesticide, despite the fact it was at a level below what is permitted. The French government plans to ban most uses of it by 2021 and completely in five years.

Trucker four times Anti-terror officers over drink-drive limit board French trains

Steak haché recall over E.Coli fears BOXES of steak hachés Sovivo burgers from Leader Price and Casino shops are being recalled due to fears of E.Coli bacteria contamination. Affected burgers were on sale in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Centre-Val-de-Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Saône-et-Loire and have best-before dates of June 6 and July 5/6/7/9 and 10.

Families ‘owed’ €10bn in benefits

Hard line on public drunkenness in Caen The Normandy city of Caen is doubling down on instances of public drunkenness, as it enforces a little-used law in France’s Public Health Code. As well as a fine of €150 for anyone who is drunk in public, an additional €120 to cover the cost of transportation to a clinic or ‘drunk tank’, or to a safe room at a police or gendarmerie station, to ‘sleep it off ’ is to be added to all infringements.

Circus elephant Maya is free at last Animal welfare group One Voice has revealed that Maya, a French circus elephant, has been freed from circus work and given a new home at a safari park in Italy after a court ordered for the elephant to be taken to a location judged to be more suitable for its needs. Following a long campaign, the elephant is now at the Safari Park Lago Maggiore zoo in Pombia, near Milan. It is in a large enclosure, with grass, sand to sleep on, a large bathing pool, and space to roam.

Photo: Anne Hidalgo / Twitter

Over €10billion in French state benefits goes unclaimed every year, data from the national family benefits agency the Caf shows, as a new campaign seeks to repay those who are missing out. The Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (Caf) in Gironde is experimenting with software used to detect benefit fraud to instead find out who is missing out on family benefits and seeks to pay the amounts owed.

Trains across France are to have undercover marshals on board this summer, in an effort to protect passengers from the threat of terrorism. Armed members of elite gendarmerie group the GIGN in plain clothes will be on the lookout for suspicious activity, in a bid to prevent terrorist incidents before they occur.

3D road crossings tested in Paris 3D road markings are being painted on streets in Paris as part of a two-year trial to make motorists slow down. Five pedestrian crossings in 30kph zones are being given the special 3D treatment, according to a decree published on July 13. Mayor Anne Hidalgo had earlier announced the decision on her Twitter feed. One crossing is in the 18th arrondissement, another in the seventh and three in the 14th. The order specifies that “experimental” signs and signals may be installed at those locations. “The objective ... is to improve the safety of pedestrians crossing a roadway by increasing the perception of pedestrian crossings from the

August 2018

point of view of road users,” explains the decree, which has been signed by Interior Minister Gérard Collomb and the Minister in charge of transport, Elisabeth Borne. The Paris scheme follows a trial of a similar crossing in Cysoing, near Lille. The 3D crossings cost twice as much as normal crossings but have already proved successful in towns in India, Iceland and Belgium. Meanwhile, rainbow crossings painted in the Le Marais district of the capital ahead of July’s Pride March, have been made permanent. One of the original rainbow crossings was daubed with homophobic slurs. The mairie responded by announcing two more would be created.

Simone Veil’s concentration camp number – Thousands line 78651 – was displayed on giant screens along the crowd-thronged route her cortège took to up to honour the Panthéon, where she has been interred with her husband among other iconic figures Simone Veil from politics, culture, society, and history. Mrs Veil was one of France’s most revered as coffin politicians and a president of the European Parliament. She is best known for her battle as health minister in 1974 to legalise contraenters ception and abortion in France. However her campaigns were wide-ranging. Panthéon

Inmate busted out of jail in helicopter

During her second term as France’s health minister, from 1993 to 1995, for example, she introduced measures to help those with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. She also fought for improved rights for prisoners and children in care, introduced a ban on smoking in public places, and improved access to healthcare in rural areas. On the European stage, she pushed for an increasingly inclusive European Union to ensure the horrors she witnessed in her youth would forever be consigned to history.

Renault moves to fill Lavender farmers’ Autolib void in Paris anger at tourists

A notorious criminal serving 25 years for a failed robbery in which a police officer was killed is still on the run after a escaping from a Paris prison in a helicopter. Redoine Faïd was helped by a trio of ‘loyal friends’, who stormed Réau prison, in Seineet-Marne, after hijacking a flying school helicopter. They took its pilot hostage and forced him to fly into the compound.

French carmaker Renault is to launch a new electric carshare service in Paris in September and plans to have up to 2,000 Zoe and Twizy cars on the streets of the capital by the end of the year. Renault is the first to seek to fill the void left by the debt-ridden demise of Autolib, with PSA group – which makes Peugeot and Citroën – also planning to put 500 cars on streets by December.

28kg junk mail per year for each house

Most beers contain pesticides: study

The average household in France receives more than two kilograms of publicity material through their letterbox per month, yet only one in five has a government “stop adverts” service that could cut waste. Alain Bazot, president of UFC-Que-Choisir, explained that as well as causing excess waste paper, publicity is also paid for by the consumer, with the cost then reflected in the price of goods.

Most beer contains traces of glyphosate and pesticides, consumer magazine 60 Millions de Consommateurs has suggested. In total, 248 residue traces were discovered across the 45 specimen beers, including pesticides boscalide, phthalimide and folpet and glyphosate. However experts calculated that consumers would need to drink 2,000 litres per day for pesticide levels to build up to dangerous quantities.

‘10,000 Vélib bikes in Paris by Autumn’

Lights out for French business every night

A total 10,000 bikes and 800 Vélib stations equipped with chargers for electric bikes will be in operation across Paris by the end of August, according to Smovengo, the consortium that took over operating the bikeshare service at the start of the year. These figures remain well below the initial targets of 700 stations in place by January 1, 2018, and 1,400 by the end of March in Paris and the 60 member municipalities of the metropolis.

THE LAW has been six years in the making - but all businesses across France are now obliged by law to turn off illuminated signs, and advertising between 1am and 6am. Some 3.5million non-residential buildings that had been able to leave signs illuminated all night must turn them off, to the delight of Association nationale pour la protection du ciel et de l’environnement nocturnes, an organisation dedicated to “preserving the night”.

The lavender farmers of Provence have had enough of inconsiderate tourists ruining their crops in their desire to be photographed in the fields. They say thoughtless visitors pick flowers, trample plants – and even drive their vehicles into fields to take photographs, before heading off – leaving their litter behind.

Minister ‘not against’ cannabis cigarettes

Health minister Agnès Buzyn has said she is “not against” legalising cannabis cigarettes for medical reasons, but remains opposed to its recreational use. She was speaking after Le Parisien published an open letter claiming eight in 10 French people are in favour of legalising cannabis for medical use.

Photo: Ed Petit de Mange / Twitter

A TRUCK driver has been jailed for 10 months for driving a 38-tonne lorry while more than four times over the legal alcohol limit – and at the same time talking on his mobile telephone. The driver had travelled from Valence, Drôme, on a probationary licence following earlier offences and was arrested in Balaruc-les-Bains, Hérault. His blood-alcohol level was 2.18g/l.

The Connexion

connexionfrance.com Photo: Emmanuel J. Lévy / CC BY-SA 4.0

10 News in brief

Boy, 12, smashes sailing record A 12-year-old boy from Brittany has set a new world record to become the youngest person to cross the English Channel in a small dinghy. Tom Goron, from Aucaleuc (Côtes-d’Armor), took 14 hours and 20 minutes to sail from the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg, making the 96km journey in a small Optimist sailing boat. The boy’s father followed behind in case of any problems but Tom successfully completed the trip and broke the record set in 2016 by 15-year-old Violette Dorange (14 hours, 56 minutes). His average speed was just over four knots (around 7.6kph). The boy’s mother

said: “I am proud of him. He is stubborn, ambitious, and determined.” He had reportedly suffered from seasickness – saying afterwards that he vomited 10 times during the trip – and wanted to give up after five hours but was persuaded to continue by his father. Tom said that he was inspired by French yacht racer François Gabart, who set a new world record last year for the fastest solo sail around the world. Tom was two years old when he first set foot on an Optimist dinghy, and has continued sailing ever since, learning at the Saint-Suliac nautical centre in Rennes.

A couple who discovered more than two dozen gold bars in their garden have been ordered to return them and any money from their sale – worth almost €800,000. The couple had bought the house and garden in Roanne, Loire, in 2002, and found six ingots in the garden in 2009, and a further 22 in 2013. They declared the find to the mairie, police and Banque de France but were investigated by the fraud squad over “atypical financial operations”. When the previous house owners – the seller’s widow and their eight children – learned of the find, they sued the couple, saying the gold was theirs and they had proof. The appeal court sided with them saying the finders “knew they were not the owners” and were not due a finder’s half share as this was only due if no one could prove ownership.

Teenagers hand in €4k cash they found A group of teenagers have received citizenship medals after handing in plastic bags with more than €4,000 in cash they found on an RER train. The owner has not yet been identified, but police praised the ‘civic’ awareness of the eight Suresnes teenagers after they turned over the money at a Vald’Oise police station.

Police go criminal to raise theft awareness

Photo: Vincent Guth / CC BY-SA 2.0

Police in Strasbourg ‘stole’ handbags and valuables from tourists and residents as part of an annual campaign to raise awareness of pickpockets. Targeting people being careless with their bags, police swiped handbags and smartphones from cafe chairs, tables, and from an owner’s shoulder – all without being noticed.

News in brief 11



Your practical Q&A

n What is the law on garden bonfires? Does it vary between departments?

Memorial gives faces to Oradour victims

IMAGES of many of the victims of the 1944 Nazi Oradour massacre that killed 642 men, women and children have been installed in the entrance tunnel to the memorial site. Limoges ceramic artist Christian Leblois created tiles with faces of 532 of the victims and they have been set up in the link between the Centre de la Mémoire near the Haut-Vienne village. Set in alphabetical order, there are white plaques for the victims where no photo has yet been found. Mr Leblois created chromolithographs for the

MPs take ‘race’ out of the Constitution THE word ‘race’ has been removed from the Constitution in a unanimous vote by MPs who also included a guarantee that citizens will not be distinguished by gender. ‘Race’ was added in 1946 as a statement against Nazi racist theories, but MPs now say it is “badly understood” and “unfounded”.

Artist walks Brittany in full suit of armour A MAN has completed a 170km trek in Brittany... while wearing a full suit of armour weighing 30kg. Performance artist Abraham Poincheval had set off from Locuon (Morbihan) and 10 days later stepped off the bay

tiles and told Le Populaire: “By putting the chromos on the plates, I was led to fix the gaze of each of these people. It was terribly poignant...” Oradour-sur-Glane was destroyed by soldiers from 4th SS Panzer division who massacred the 190 men, 247 women and 205 children. Only six people managed to escape. Poring over football, marriage and baptism photos took four years to find the 532 photos and staff at the centre hope that people may come forward with photos of those still missing.

ferry in Brest (Finistère) after passing via Côtes-d’Armor. Known for feats of confining himself in tiny spaces, he said his efforts as a medieval knight, were a ‘new physical challenge’.

Metro stations join in World Cup festivities Commuters in Paris after France’s World Cup win found Metro stations renamed by operator RATP to celebrate. The temporary changes saw the station of Avron renamed Nous Avron Gagné; Charles de Gaulle-Etoile became On a Deux Etoiles; Victor Hugo was Victor Hugo Lloris; Bercy was Bercy les Bleus; Notre-Dame des Champs became Notre Didier Deschamps and the coach was honoured again with ChampsElysées-Clémenceau becoming Deschamps Elysées-Clémenceau.

Summit party celebrates Unesco label

n How does a newcomer obtain a social security n We are selling a firm number so as to work that must be run by Anglophones. How can we and have a carte vitale? reassure buyers re. Brexit? n What are a French n We will be bringing in a mayor’s ‘police powers’?

PLUS... Higher education

University, BAC+5 and Grande Ecole, explained Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Parents forget their own sun protection

PARENTS are failing to protect themselves when they cover children with sun cream and a study said they often felt that while children needed protection adults did not. The Baromètre Cancer said 78% of parents used approved methods of protection – cream, avoiding the middle of the day, wearing a hat – on children but just 13% did so themselves.

Orange waves are not a danger for bathers UNUSUAl orange waves lapping south Finistère beaches are ‘nothing to worry about’, say officials who had initially banned bathers from the sea. Checks found it was a natural phenomenon – a bloom of bioluminescent phytoplankton that ‘does not present any particular danger for bathing.”

People still prefer to pay in cash CASH is still king as people say that despite a rise in online shopping and high-tech payment methods they are still most likely to pay cash. In all, €129billion in notes was issued in 2017 – up 7.6% on 2016. People ‘trusted’ cash more than online services.

No taxes as council has too much money A public party will take place on the summit of Puy de Dôme (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) this September to mark the site finally being granted Unesco World Heritage status. The volcanic ridge in the Auvergne – the Chaîne des Puys – was awarded official Unesco status at the 42nd annual meeting, after 11 years of work towards the title. The party on the summit of the dormant volcano – sometimes called the “pearl” of the Chaîne des Puys – will take place on September 15 and 16, with ministers and officials invited as well as local residents.

car from the UK. What are the papers and formalities to re-register it?

NO more local taxes for the residents in Le Perthus, PyrénéesOrientales as the local council has been told by regional auditors it cannot charge taxes as it has too much unused money. Auditors said it had €1.1million in reserve as the council could not agree on spending.

Photo: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Couple must give back gold treasure find

August 2018

Photo: Oradour Centre de la mémoire

The Connexion

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Seductress and spy in Paris...

The real Mata Hari

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12 History


The Connexion

August 2018

France’s forgotten rival to Lawrence of Arabia His name is little known in histories of the First World War but Colonel Edouard Brémond has a claim, as Michael Delahaye says, to be France’s Lawrence of Arabia

The differences between Colonel Edouard Brémond and T.E. Lawrence were apparent in every aspect of their lives Aigues-Mortes. As he tells it, he fell into a trance-like state and saw his future lay in ‘the glorious East’. The following year he is in Syria, working as an archaeologist, living with Arabs and learning their language. After the outbreak of the First World War, that ‘local knowledge’ gets him posted to Cairo as an intelligence officer with the British Army, tasked with helping the Arabs to rise up against their imperial masters, the Turks.

In 1916, in the Hedjaz region of the Arabian Peninsula, he once again encounters the French. As allies of the British, the French had their own military mission in Hedjaz comprised of North African, mostly Muslim, troops. Its head – Lawrence’s opposite number – was Col. Edouard Brémond. Never heard of him? Nor have most French people. When his name does crop up, it is often as the ‘anti-Lawrence d’Arabie’ – meaning an ‘alternative Lawrence’ while, in

Screengrab: Archives.Ecpad.fr

For the French, no less than for the rest of the world, T.E. Lawrence – Lawrence d’Arabie, as they call him – is a figure of endless fascination: Was he a latter-day knight crusader or a shameless self-promoter whose fame owes more to a mythologising biopic made long after his death than to anything he ever achieved in his life? There is, though, an equally intriguing sub-plot to the Legend of Lawrence, featuring French army officer Colonel Edouard Brémond who would have been hailed ‘best supporting actor’, had he not been written out at an early stage. To explain his role, we need first to look at Lawrence’s own relationship with France… Lawrence was just three when his parents took him and his two brothers to Dinard in Brittany. The family stayed there for two and a half years during which young ‘Ned’ learned French at the local school. And it stuck. Throughout his life he read, and re-read, French classics. Though he would often be accused of Francophobia, he had an early, enduring affinity with the language and culture. Then, in 1908, as a 19-year old archaeology student at Oxford he undertook a personal ‘Tour de France’: an epic 4,000km solo cycle ride across the country to research his thesis on crusader castles. Reaching the Mediterranean, he experienced an epiphany while bathing in the warm, still waters off the fortified town of

Arriving at the Red Sea port of El Ouedj (Al Wahj), Col. Edouard Brémond raising morale

almost every respect, being his counterpart’s polar opposite. It was to be a prickly relationship. It is hard not to feel sympathy for Brémond – a well regarded career soldier, veteran of colonial campaigns in Africa, recently wounded in Europe, and an open and decent man. Here he now was, having to work alongside a cocksure, insubordinate maverick with, as yet, no active military experience but who liked dressing up in Arab clothing. More galling still, the young pup was 20 years his junior. Yet what irked Brémond about Lawrence is precisely what ever since has intrigued historians, British and French alike: his unshakable sense of personal destiny which, the French are quick to appreciate, he shared with another historic figure, Napoleon Bonaparte. Francis Laroulandie is ‘passionné de Lawrence’ and is president of the historical society of Châlus in Haute-Vienne where, on that 1908 tour, Lawrence chose to mark his 20th birthday because that was where 700 years earlier his hero, Richard the Lionheart, had been mortally wounded by a crossbow bolt. A sense of destiny shared? Mr Laroulandie believes it is the multifaceted complexity of Lawrence, his sexual ambiguity included, that attracts his compatriots: “How, in a single life, could one person have been a

writer, scholar, archaeologist, adventurer, artist, diplomat, soldier, spy… and even a sort of secular monk?” He adds: “How was it that this short (5ft5in – two inches shorter than Napoleon), slight, clean-shaven, fairhaired, blue-eyed Briton – a mere 27-years old! – was able to mobilise a band of battle-hardened Bedouin?” Back in the Arabian desert in 1916, Colonel Brémond was having similar thoughts. Lawrence, suspecting the French of putting territorial interests above Arab national aspirations, outmanoeuvred Brémond at every turn, exploiting his direct line to the British top brass and deploying all the tactical skills he would display in the field. Brémond’s knowledge of the Arabs and their culture was no less than Lawrence’s, but, unlike the buccaneering Lawrence, he did his duty without fanfare or self-aggrandisement – or, indeed, much support from his superiors in Paris who regarded the Arabian campaign as a sideshow to the war in Europe. Military historian Lt Col Rémy Porte, who is working on a biography of Brémond, describes Lawrence’s military role in Arabia was ‘modest’, and that railway sabotage to disrupt Turkish supply lines “owed more to Brémond’s sappers than to Lawrence’s Bedouin”.

As for Lawrence’s set-piece ‘spectacular’ – taking the Red Sea port of Aqaba from the landward side – Lt Col Porte says Aqaba was easy-pickings as it was “poorly armed and defended by a meagre garrison that hadn’t been re-supplied for several months”. But the post-war spoils went to Lawrence. Back home, he was fêted by the public and lionised by the great and the good. The king even offered him a knighthood. He refused it as His Majesty’s government had betrayed the Arabs by denying them their promised independence. (The secret SykesPicot Agreement of 1916 had carved up the Middle East between Britain and France.) Brémond, meanwhile, continued his military career, eventually rising to the rank of general. For more than a decade, he kept his own counsel… until Lawrence’s Revolt in the Desert, an abridged version of his Seven Pillars of Wisdom, appeared in a French translation. Reading it, Brémond could contain himself no longer. Now retired, he wrote his own version of events, plus précise et moins romancée. Le Hedjaz dans la Guerre Mon­diale came out in 1931 and he excoriates Lawrence; mocking him for wearing white when everyone else wore black or dark colours; claiming he knew nothing of the art of command and, the cruellest cut, that he disliked the Arabs while romanticising their independence campaign and taking credit for ‘pulling the strings’. Lawrence emerges as an incompetent poseur at best, a mendacious hypocrite at worst, but by this time the Legend of Lawrence was so entrenched that, even to the French, the book must have smacked of sour grapes. Seven Pillars has remained the go-to text – not because it is more accurate but because, like the man, it conveys the thrill of adventure. Edouard Brémond died in 1948, aged 80 – 13 years after Lawrence’s death at 46 in a motorcycle accident. At least he was spared the sight of 6ft3in Peter O’Toole ratcheting up the Lawrence myth in David Lean’s 1962 screen epic, Lawrence of Arabia. To add treachery to travesty, the stirring soundtrack was composed by a Frenchman… Maurice Jarre. FOOTNOTE: Col. Brémond features in an historic French Army newsreel at tinyurl.com/ yaukxb6m – He appears at the start and, later, at 03.35

The Connexion

August 2018

Driving 13


Public can test out a robot taxi in Normandy by KEN SEATON PEOPLE in Normandy will soon be able to try one of a fleet of free robot taxis with public tests starting in Rouen of Europe’s first on-demand autonomous car service on open roads. Using a smartphone app, users can hail one of the four blue, white and red all-electric Renault Zoes running routes in the Technopôle du Madrillet in SaintEtienne-du-Rouvray to the Technopôle tram stop. The service is due to start in September “if necessary permissions are obtained” with taxis shuttling passengers to and from the tram to cover the ‘last kilometre’ to premises in a 10km zone with little public transport. The robot cars will drive at normal road speeds and the first zone covered will be just 1.6km and extend to other circuits later. Madrillet, like most business parks, is filled with pedestrian crossings, roundabouts, junctions, badly parked vehicles and building entrances but also has a shopping centre and residential area. It will give the robot taxis a full test for what Renault and partner public transport operator Transdev see as a massive market. With drivers no longer needed to control the vehicle, it opens up many other options for haulage and other businesses, councils, public transport or taxi companies and even individual drivers. Renault told Connexion it had had “much contact with taxi companies through its regular taxi fleet sales” and was “confident they would adapt to and join in” on the new market, especially on short routes that gave little profit. As a European leader in electric

Blue, white and red Zoes are easy to spot

The robot Zoes will get a full test on the varying ‘obstacles’ of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray’s roads vehicles, it aims to be able to offer automated, on-demand mobility services by 2022. It said of the Rouen test: “The pioneering project is unique in its comprehensive drive to build a ‘complete’ autonomous transportation system by testing innovative technologies able to create an all encompassing transportation system and provide an open-road service at speeds equivalent to those of conventional vehicles while ensuring passenger safety.” Private testing has been done by Renault, Transdev and insurer Matmut at Madrillet since June 26 which have included tests on the Nestor smartphone app, the Zoe fleet control room, smart infra-

structure and telecoms networks. Each car is covered with sensors including Lidar and cameras and, for the moment, each also has a ‘safety driver’ ready to take control for legal and safety reasons. Renault and Transdev hope that by the end of the tests they will no longer need the safety driver. The driver does not touch the steering wheel unless required. There is also a following ‘support’ car which runs just behind and the fleet operator can always take over control of the vehicle. Passengers are asked not to talk to the safety driver, who must concentrate on the road as the sensors are sensitive and will stop the car on the open road if some-

one is detected, even on the verge. Seating has been adapted for taxi use with the driver area sectioned off and the front ‘passenger’ seat facing the rear. There is an information screen just behind the driver’s seat. Cars will be tested for about five hours a day and the full public test runs until Decem­ber 2019. The Zoes will be joined by a minibus-like robot shuttle in 2019. Developed by Transdev and Alsace transport vehicle maker Lohr, this i-Cristal shuttle will offer walk-in access for up to 16 passengers and a low floor for disabled access. Renault has also designed an EZ-GO concept robot taxi that has no driver and offers walk-on access.

Robot Zoe taxi has a new-look passenger space

Renault’s EZ-GO is an autonomous taxi

A luxury feel while driving but a pricey hit on the wallet ALTHOUGH it has new driverless car designs on the way, Renault based the cars used in Rouen (see above) on the Zoe, an electric version of the Clio. Connexion journalist Brian McCulloch tested a Zoe on everyday roads. Small and silent, the driving experience is that of a large automatic with no engine noise, although road and wind levels do rise with speed. Smooth, powerful and sharp in the corners, it drives like a luxury vehicle in spite of its 1.8 tonne weight. The luxury impression is added to by the fact the Zoe is very well built – after 7,000km the test car provided had no squeaks or rattles. Being electric, full torque is available from the start so get up and go is especially sharp. No need for gears: just select D on the automatic style shift, foot off the brake... The official 0-50kph time is 3.9sec, with 11.4sec for 0 to 100kph, but it feels faster. There remains, though, the problem of range before recharging is needed. The battery has 41kWh of useful energy, and regulation tests say it can do 400km but in real life, the car does not even try to tell you it is possible, a full charge translates to between

All-electric Renault Zoe is all but silent on the road 250km and 300km, depending on temperature and other conditions. Fine for daily commutes but any trip of more than 100km needs thought although, like F1 cars, the battery recharges on braking, coasting and on downhill sections of road. A favourite beach of ours is 112km away, and the Zoe did it with ease. Plugging it into the power back home, though, was a surprise as full recharge took 26 hours on domestic mains. Renault offers €500 towards fitting a powerful wallbox charger in a home garage. These can be either triphase (a 380v connection with a higher tariff often fitted for farms, workshops or

other big power users) or monophase (240v domestic tariffs) with power levels at 3.7kW or 7.4kW. Wallbox charging takes 8hr25min on the 7.4kW monophase box and 4hr30min on triphase. A full charge costs between €2 and €3 depending on your electricity tariff. As for public charging points – to give cars 80km of charge in 30 minutes – there is much work still to do. Leclerc supermarkets are the best bet as they are slowly being rolled out but while local authorities talk big, they have yet to get many off the ground. France aims for 100,000 charging points by 2022 and had 22,308 at the

start of 2018 with Ile-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and NouvelleAquitaine best equipped. Occitanie has 1,474, Brittany 1,252 and Nor­ man­dy 1,178. Paris alone has 3,200 parking spaces with charge points. All new-build housing with parking must have chargers fitted and BP is to set up fast-chargers at fuel stations. Renault’s €500 should cover the cost of a home wallbox but, for work costing more, a 30% tax deduction is possible, through the annual tax return. It was the first modern motor manufacturer to go down the all electric route, investing €5billion with its partner Nissan in the mid 2000s, when most competitors were copying Toyota’s hybrid motor approach. The Zoe, first launched in 2012, is the key result. But sales are slow and while 30,600 Zoes sold in Europe last year, outselling Tesla and Nissan, the 135,369 electric cars sold in Europe is just 1% of the total car market. Renault has 61% of the electric car market in France and has sold 148,584 Zoes since it launched. Sales jumped 33% last year, possibly as people saw government incentives which cut the sticker price of the test model from an eye-watering €26,440 to €20,440 with a €6,000 bonus écologique, aligning it

with small cars with full options lists. The price on the test car though, did not include the battery. It can be bought for an extra €8,300, or rented from Renault’s supplier Diac Location, with a Zoe 41kWh for €119 a month. The company says it makes more sense to hire the battery as technology usually makes advances every three to four years and, if the battery is rented, it can be upgraded at little cost. However, some buyers said they did not want a monthly rent cost, so a purchase option was added last year. There are a full range of finance plans for electric cars and the price falls further for anyone scrapping a pre-2001 diesel car, or pre-1997 petrol car as there is a €2,500 prime à la conversion. There is also a €2,000 prime to buy a new petrol or diesel car, (details tinyurl.com/y9bt828g). Depending on where you live, the carte grise will either be free or half price too. For businesses, there is no TVS company car tax on electric vehicles and amortisement costs can be written off to the tune of €300 per year. In some departments, small businesses with fewer than 50 staff can get an extra €6,000 to buy electric. Insurance must cover both car and battery but should be lower.

14 Comment Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning

French-Algerian journalist who specialises in French politics and the Arab world. Her articles feature in the French national press as well as internationally. She is a regular columnist in The Connexion.

Phone cameras are essential for justice on housing estates ATTACKS by police on ethnic and religious minority youths are a disturbingly regular occurrence in France, especially on housing estates. They range from day-to-day assaults that are seldom reported, to outrages that for all the right reasons make international news. The latest triggered days of rioting in the western city of Nantes. The violence followed the fatal shooting of Aboubakar Fofana, a 22-year-old from a Guinean background, around council properties in the district of Breil in early July. A so-far unnamed officer with the CRS, a notoriously pugilistic unit that translates as Republican Security Companies, has been charged with manslaughter. The victim’s family are being supported by civil rights groups in calling for this indictment to be raised to murder. It is essential that Officer X, as we shall refer to him, gets a fair trial. Despite the circumstances of the incident, he is free on bail and under protection. This is because his picture has been posted online, and he has been threatened with reprisals. While such a development is reprehensible, it was in fact social media, and indeed the use of unauthorised pictures, that finally opened up the case. Moreover, it exposed a scandalous attempt at a police cover-up. To begin with, Officer X said he shot Fofana, who was wanted for questioning in connection with a range of criminal allegations including theft and drug-dealing, in the neck as he sat in his car because the suspect was reversing towards other police, CRS is a and a group of children who were playing in the street. paramilitary The claim was that Fofana posed a lethal threat, and needed to be “neutralised”, to use the stark official jarorganisation gon. No fewer than five of Officer X’s colleagues backed set up up what turned out to be a pack of lies. We know this, because unassailable evidence provided towards the by witnesses on the estate – for which read local resiend of the dents with video cameras on their smart phones – showed something completely different: namely Officer X Second leaning inside the car window and discharging his serWorld War vice pistol into Fofana’s neck. During a day’s questioning, Officer X changed his story, to maintain saying his gun went off “accidentally”, adding that the law and ordeal had left him “in a state of shock”. Soon afterwards, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe pledged a order in a detailed investigation would offer “full transparency”. turbulent Which is exactly what has been woefully lacking in the past. The CRS is a paramilitary organisation that was set period up towards the end of the Second World War to maintain law and order during an exceptionally turbulent period. Major scandals it has been involved in include the drowning and beating to death of up to 300 Algerians taking part in pro-independence demonstrations in central Paris in October 1961. They stood out in black leather coats and distinctive helmets and goggles in those days, but very few pictures were taken. Technically, nobody is allowed to take photographs or film that shows police on duty in France to this day. The country has strict privacy laws, especially in regards to authority figures. The proliferation of CCTV never took off like it did in the US and Britain, while intruding in other people’s business is generally considered extremely un-French. However, as we see from the Fofana case the times are changing, and they are changing very rapidly indeed. There are many moral issues to consider, as well the marked possibility of human rights violations but, as far as justice is concerned, casual surveillance is something that both police and criminals need to get used to.

Brexit and Britons in France

Simon Heffer is also a columnist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs


oo often in politics opportunities come not through the genius of politicians, but by their arrogance and stupidity. For almost 15 months since Emmanuel Macron managed to win the presidential election without even a proper party behind him, the failure of his main opponents to score more than the occasional point has been remarkable. France considered him to have an unassailable mandate; other European opinion-formers instinctively admired him because of his fresh-faced moderation, and the fact that he seemed to radiate an image of a very different sort of France altogether from the corrupt, cronyist, arrogant and incompetent politics that characterized aspects of the presidencies of Mitterrand, Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande. How wrong, it seems, everyone was. President Macron turns out to be remarkably like everyone else who has held his job recently; and this, at last, has given his opponents the chance they have been waiting for. The disclosure that one of his closest security guards, Alexandre Benalla, impersonated a police officer at a May Day protest earlier this year and attacked a man and a woman – they, at time of writing, are the only two of whom there is video evidence – has badly tainted M Macron’s image. He, his prime minister and his interior minister have all denounced Benalla’s behaviour; the thuggish security guard has been arrested, as has one of his colleagues; and Benalla has been sacked. However, when one picks up the stone the story is far worse. The fact that it came to the surface in late July when the media are searching for stories, because most of those who make the news are on holiday, has transformed what might otherwise have been the proverbial storm in a teacup into a national political scandal. Benalla has an unfortunate past. Arnaud Montebourg, a colleague of M Macron before the present president ratted on the Parti Socialiste, employed the 26-year-old as a driver; but claims he sacked him when he caused an accident and wanted to flee the scene. Benalla then turned up on Macron’s payroll during his election campaign, and evidence has emerged of him acting thuggishly then too. His record was enough for Le Figaro to write a leading article about the case – with a nod to genuine policemen who were filmed standing by and not lifting a finger while Benalla carried out his assaults – entitled Flics ou voyous? (cops or yobboes?). On top the incidents only became public because Le Monde exposed them. It is hardly surprising that the

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Simon Heffer, the renowned political commentator and historian, turns his gaze to French politics

Macron defies gravity – his ratings fell after World Cup win Elysée wanted to keep the matter private, and ministers, after their initial statements, went into hiding on the question. It is hard to decide what is worse – M Macron’s judgment in hiring this man for such sensitive and important work, or the fact he kept him employed after learning of the attacks, only dismissing him when these were exposed in the press. The president’s approval rating has slumped to 39 per cent, and those who flocked to his standard last year, seduced by promises of transparency and honesty, realize the force of the old adage that if something seems too good to true, it probably is. Like all politicians who fight their way to the top, M Macron is – has to

M Macron brushed aside the gravity of Benalla’s conduct, and went to lengths to shield him – and the office of president – that cross a line into the immoral

be – capable of deceit, cronyism and economy with the truth. The slump in his ratings shows the French electorate grasps that. As this column has already noted, his personal style and attitude are redolent of the ancien regime, as, we now know, are his methods. In the days after France won the World Cup on 15 July his proprietorship of the victory would have compelled a visitor from Mars to assume that he, and not a team of 11 fine sportsmen, had been on the field. So

blatant was his opportunism that he has defied gravity, and shown that a World Cup victory need not mean a political boost for the head of government of the country concerned; it was only after his antics that his popularity fell below 40 per cent. His two main rivals leapt at the opening his succession of disasters presented to them. Marine Le Pen, conscious of the poor campaign she fought when he defeated her in 2017, has had a quiet time since then, completing the rebranding of her Front National party as the Rassemblement National. She came out fighting, saying that the Benalla scandal was in fact the Macron scandal, and showed how he and his close associates at the heart of government were fundamentally dishonest and opposed to the public interests. Laurent Wauquiez, who like Mme Le Pen has largely bided his time since assuming the leadership of Les Republicains last December, gave an interview to Le Figaro in which he labelled the Macron regime a “government of henchmen” and said the very principles of the republic were at stake while its leadership was in the hands of Macron. What helps both Mme Le Pen and M Wauquiez is that, objectively, their criticisms are well-founded. It seems M Macron brushed aside the gravity of Benalla’s conduct, and went to lengths to shield him – and to protect the office of president – that cross a line into the immoral and the improper. As M Wauquiez said in his interview, they undermine authority and the rule of law in France. The challenge for both politicians, however, if they wish to hobble M Macron and ensure he becomes France’s third one-term president in a row, is to move on to a devastating critique of his policies as well as of his personality. For that, France and the world still wait expectantly, but not, I suspect, for long.

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The Connexion

August 2018


Drunk, drugged driver wrecked my body – but law calls it an accident

Caroline Broc’s life changed forever in October 2014 when a driver high on drink and drugs ran into her and crushed her legs. She told Samantha David for Connexion he was doing 100kph in Lyon city centre when he mounted the pavement on which Caroline was walking and ran straight into her, narrowly missing another pedestrian and two young children. He had no licence, the car was not insured, and as soon as he struggled out of the mangled car, he ran away. Caroline sustained head injuries, eight pelvic fractures and her crushed legs had to be amputated. She was in a coma for five days, spent months in hospital, underwent 25 operations and after she was discharged spent many more months in rehabilitation. She has had to move into a specially-adapted flat, replace her car with a specially-adapted vehicle, buy two wheelchairs, (one for use inside and one to use outdoors at a total price of €15,000) as well as learn to walk with prosthetic limbs (€100,000 each). Because the driver was not insured, and prosthetic limbs are not reimbursed by Cpam health cover, she had to find the money to pay for it all. She said: “It made everything much worse. Eventually I will get compensation from the Fonds de Garantie des Assurances Obligatoires but not for another few years. “In the meantime, I’ve had to pay for everything myself. I was just lucky to have my partner Pierre. I don’t think I’d have come through it without him.”

Comment 15

He’d been drinking and smoking cannabis ... he knew he was speeding ... it’s no longer an accident. Your car is a one-tonne weapon Caroline Broc

Caroline Broc demands change to close legal loophole for repeat offenders

Caroline’s family also rallied round, and a network of friends raised funds for her prosthetic legs. The driver, Redouane Kalkoul, had many previous driving offences and police found him hiding at his parents’ house. In January 2017, he was sentenced to three years in prison but, as he had already served a year on remand, he was released and sent home wearing an electron­ic tag and with an evening curfew order. He lived 100 metres from Caroline. In French law, injuries in traffic collisions are considered ‘involuntary’ but Caroline wants that changed. “He knew perfectly well he’d been drinking and smoking cannabis when he got into that car. He knew he was speeding. It wasn’t ‘involuntary’. “When you’ve already committed so many offences, it’s no longer an acci-

I was just lucky to have my partner, Pierre. I don’t think I’d have come through it without him Caroline Broc

dent. Your car is a one-tonne weapon.” Kalkoul apologised in court to Caroline, but she said it did not help. “It was his 17th appearance so he was well-prepared but I wasn’t considered; it was a circus. There was no justice. “It was too easy; he didn’t ask me to forgive him and I haven’t.” Now, Caroline campaigns for repeat offenders to be charged with attempted murder rather than involuntary injury, and she gives talks to people who have lost their licences through drink-driving. “If I can save just one person from becoming the victim of a drink driver, it will be worth it.” Caroline also talks about living without her legs. “People don’t understand how difficult life becomes in a wheelchair. In public, people don’t look at us, don’t speak to us and many places are inaccessible. “Try using the Metro or getting a taxi with a wheelchair. To travel by train you have to book assistance in advance. Everything is more difficult. “Drivers don’t respect disabled parking spaces and people raise eyebrows when I skip the queue at the supermarket and use the disabled till. “They don’t realise that I have to pay

someone to help me shop, and I don’t want to pay them extra in order to hang about in the queue.” She said a lot of prejudice against people with disabilities stems from French schools, which seldom admit pupils with disabilities. “Young people don’t go to school with kids in wheelchairs so they don’t see them as normal. “Disabled children are all bundled off to the same schools regardless of whether their disabilities are mental or physical. Disabled people aren’t used to being in the normal world.” Unwilling to stay in Lyon where she could meet the driver at any moment, she and partner Pierre are moving to Brittany, where they are having an accessible house built. “It’s cheaper than adapting an existing property, and it will be a new start for us. “We just want to leave this behind and move on. Pierre is designing an accessible vegetable garden for me.” She hopes to buy an all-terrain wheelchair with her compensation money, get outdoors more and reconnect with the natural world that she used to enjoy as a hiker and traveller. Caroline, a former project manager, plans to run permaculture projects for

‘forest bathing’ (sylvo‑ thérapie) and therapeutic horticulture (hortithéra‑ pie). She wants to do projects to unite people both with and without disabilities. “It’s so important. Keeping disabled people out of sight, apart from mainstream society dehumanises them, isolates them. Disabled people are not all the same: we are all humans, all individuals. We all approach life in different ways.” She recently went kayaking in a mixed group with one able-bodied and one disabled person in each kayak, and everyone had different abilities. She said it was a great day and everyone said they had enjoyed it and got something from it. A longer-term goal is to start travelling again. Before her accident, she and Pierre were planning to cycle the Silk Road from Europe to China. “We still plan to do it, but obviously not camping, or on bicycles. I’m thinking of a mixed group in a small van, but who knows? “We’re already fundraising for it but the move to Brittany is first. And then we’ll see what comes next.” To follow Caroline and to donate to her travel fund, see enrouteaveccaro.net

Unions fighting for their rights is fine, but not if it will change nothing by SAMANTHA DAVID

When I moved to France, although I was drawn by the delights of French culture, food and wine, I was also propelled by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s actions; the swingeing cuts to public services, the poll tax, the destruction of the unions, the glorification of money as life’s be-all and end-all. In my mind, the French had their priorities straighter than the Brits; they valued quality of life over bling. I loved French political engagement, their willingness to strike, to oppose the government. Having watched the decimation of the UK welfare state with hardly a whimper from the general public, I

adored the French readiness to get out on the streets with a placard. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw people marching on May 1, International Workers’ Day, for no particular reason... just to remind the government what was what. How fabulous! No wonder they had a world-class health system, no wonder they enjoyed long paid holidays, generous pensions, subsidised childcare, and secure employment. French people would not settle for anything else. I cheered them on from the sidelines, and as I gradually went native and acquired my own French ID, joined in with gusto. But now I’m beginning to wonder. Is

it worth endlessly opposing everything, just for the sake of giving the government a run for their money? Take the SNCF strikes. For months, railway workers have been on strike for two days a week, causing endless disruption across the country. The strikes are basically against new style contracts for new hires, but the government has already passed the legislation to implement this. It’s a done deal. As for opening French railways to competition, this was agreed by EU governments in Brussels back in 2001, when they decided to open national railways to competition. A series of ‘Railway Packages’ (regulations) has since set 2019 as the date

for this to happen, and Italian company Thello is already offering journeys from Paris, Dijon and Marseille to Venice and Milan. So from where I stand (very often on an empty platform waiting for a train that’s been cancelled), there does not seem much point in continuing with strike action. It is not a question of whose side I am on. It is just that I cannot see how or what the strikers can win. More to the point, I haven’t met any fellow passengers who support the action. Even support among union members is falling. With this particular fight, the chemi‑ nots are on a train bound for nowhere. In fact, I am beginning to wonder whether striking too often does more

harm than good? In June alone, for example – in addition to train workers – local strikes included action by bus drivers, postal workers, teachers, and cycle delivery staff in various parts of the country. To be effective, strikers and protesters need to mobilise public opinion as well as paralyse daily life. They need public opinion on their side. But when there are too many strikes, by too many disparate groups, for too many causes, people start to shrug their shoulders and say: “I don’t know who’s on strike, or what they’re striking for. Who cares?” And that is a bad thing. Do you agree? Send your view to news@connexionfrance.com

16 Letters

Photo: soccer.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0

At Euro 2016, I finished top scorer and we lost in the final, so I thought I’d score a few less this time!

Antoine Griezmann

France’s World Cup-winner on his relative lack of goals in Russia

What’s going on in America with migrants is awful, so telling Europeans what to do is a little arrogant Madeleine Albright

Photo: Robman94 / CC BY-SA 3.0

President Clinton’s Secretary of State talks immigration on BFM TV

Jean-Jacques Burnel

Stranglers bassist tells Nice Matin what it means to ‘be punk’

Diversity delivers benefits... If you doubt that, just ask the French football team that just won the World Cup: because not all these folks look like Gauls to me, but they are French, they are French Barack Obama

Former US president tells commemoration for Nelson Mandela that diversity allows a society to draw upon the skills of all people

Remembering yesterday only makes sense if we [also] look to tomorrow Anne Murris

The mother of Camille, a victim of the 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice, speaks out during a memorial service in the city

Welcome to the club! Franz Beckenbauer

The German football legend welcomes France coach Didier Deschamps to an exclusive club of three people who have won the World Cup both as a player and a manager

It’s going to take me a while to get to grips with it. Women are the best drivers, right? Aseel Al-Hamad

The first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation after driving a Formula One car on a lap of Le Castellet circuit in the run-up to the French Grand Prix

The challenge is to understand the difference between ‘flirting’ and ‘going too far’ Catherine Deneuve

Actress clarifies her controversial ‘right to be harassed’ comments in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in January

August 2018

Problems and possibilities with Brexit

They said it …

Being a protestor doesn’t make you punk.Otherwise, the CGT [union] would be punk

The Connexion


Many correspondents to Connexion view Brexit with horror. Many chose to come and live in France and accepted the way of life, quality of food, superb wines – all at prices more affordable than in the UK. The cost of living in France has been more reasonable but nothing lasts forever. The ‘Remoaners’ want the best of both worlds and are unhappy with the democratic vote that took place in 2016. As a couple who invested in France over 16 years ago, we knew what we bought into and expect to pay accordingly. Any changes to exchange rates, tax laws etc are part of the experience. Connexion shows much bias against Brexit – many correspondents with PhDs/ Professorships have little or any knowledge of the real world of private enterprise. The rest of us get on and work hard to create business and jobs. All these workers pay tax and contribute to the wealth of our country. Our motor industry is thriving with both cars and engines being designed and built in the

UK. Unlike Europe, we work with unions for the benefit of employers and employees. We no longer have aggressive unions in the UK except those herding the public sector into expensive salary/pension setups that cost us all dear. Please recognise us as realists who understand a thing or two about the ability to stand on our own two feet against an undemocratic Europe who have ripped off the UK for so many years and continue to do so. Messrs. Blair/Brown & Cameron/Osborne should be ashamed of their disregard for UK freedoms and our future with their personal dreams of political career enhancements within the EU. Anthony and Janine Marfleet, Var We left the UK in 1978 and over the past 40 years have lived, studied and worked in France, Spain and Belgium. We consider ourselves European, a chance being denied to future generations from the UK. We do not want to change our nationality neither go through the rigmarole of

applying for a cartes de séjour since it will still not give us freedom of movement throughout the rest of Europe. The UK abandoned us by not giving us a vote in the referendum, so we and others like us need the EU to maintain our European status and the right to freedom of movement. This would be an elegant way for the EU to acknowledge the contributions made by thousands of UK subjects to Europe over nearly two generations. Lesley and Roy Massingham, Pyrénées-Atlantiques In articles about the impact of Brexit, the position of holiday home owners is rarely talked about. We are not resident and therefore cannot apply for citizenship or residency cards. We are finally retired and able to spend time in France but with family and especially young grandchildren in the UK, we have no plans for residency. Now we read about a visa proposal to limit stays to 90 days in every 180 days. While 80% of households will not

have to pay taxe d’habitation – it currently looks like holiday home owners will have to pay these taxes and yet may not be able to access their own holiday homes for as much time as they would like. It would be madness! We have restored a village house that was empty for years. We spend money at markets, shops and buying produce from our neighbours. We have our car serviced at a local garage and support local concerts, fêtes etc. Our friends and family come over and increase spending levels and yet we feel our circumstances are not being recognised. Sue Dudley and Alan Moss, Aude Editor’s Note: Second-home owners are not a separate ‘category’ in the Brexit negotiations. So far, only a deal relating to existing residents has been agreed, hence more coverage of this. We look at possible scenarios for future visitors to France (this includes second-home owners) and the Etias ‘visa-free’ scheme which will apply in our new Brexit guide. See page 14.

Wifi should be last of B&B guests’ worries Swim lessons Re: Bob Elliott’s comments in the February issue. I totally disagree that guests in a holiday home should call the Internet Service Provider. Although there are English-speaking support staff, they will assume they are talking to the account holder; will ask for account details and assume the caller has access to a PC, an Ethernet cable to connect to the router and full authority to revert to default settings. As a gîte and B&B owner in SW France, my advice is this (in order): 1. The guest could try another tablet or smartphone. 2. Turn off the modem / router and wait two minutes. Turn back on. 3. Connect a laptop (with its Wifi switched OFF) using an Ethernet cable (the owner should leave a cable in the back of the router for this). If the laptop connects to the internet immediately, we may surmise the Wifi element of the router has a problem. 4. Call the owners for them to call the ISP. With regard to thick walls and the loss of signal; this is easily solved. Electricity cables in the walls act as perfect data (internet) cables so, by buying a powerline adapter to connect to your router, along with

one or more WiFi access points (which plug into a plug socket), you can extend your Wifi everywhere. John Stephen, Lot-et-Garonne Bob Elliott, of UK Telecom, replies: 15 years providing a range of telecom services has seen a pattern of requests for assistance from customers renting their property – especially those not resident in France. It is wrong to assume we would believe we are talking to the account holder. The special arrangements for these customers was a response to many requests asking us to contact renters directly. Every time, we email the customer so that they are always informed. Addressing the points set out, the first, trying another device, is usually already done before the guest contacts us. The second is a standard action but makes no mention of the information the ISP can get from knowing what lights are showing on the modem. Providing this support takes a short time – and if it is a local exchange fault, it will be quickly identified and engineers can be allocated sooner. The wifi extender reference is correct but in these articles space does not allow all subjects to be covered!

RE: your website article about drownings in France. It is strange that nobody mentions the parents and their responsibility. Lifeguards are needed but if families paid attention to warnings and supervised their children, we would see less of these terrible deaths. A Finlay, by email

Issue addressed Your correspondent Mr Burrough (Connexion, July 2018), may want to consider sending his old stamps to:BGRT Stamp Recycling, 20 Bowers Road, BENFLEET, SS7 5PZ Royaume-Uni RD Robins, by email

The Connexion

August 2018

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Tut tut, Heffy how sad that a person of Mr Heffer’s intelligence should condone the disgraceful lack of respect of a boy, 15. How wonderful that France has a president who does not allow such behaviour to go uncorrected in a country where a village mayor is addressed as Monsieur le Maire so a president should always be addressed as Monsieur le President by all. It would be hard to deny that a hard working M.Macron has in a short space of time turned his country round to be respected by all of Europe, something a boy, 15, should be grateful for in years to come. So, come on Heffy give us positive news about Monsieur le President so we can have more respect for those who comment on living in France. Roger Armson, Hérault

Specialists in cross-border estate planning.

School, not national service, is way forward

Macron’s proposed ‘national service’ is unlikely to work in its current form. If it is to make a difference, it should be for a longer period and far greater resources would have to be allocated to it. However, this is likely to come against opposition because of cost and the loss of freedom it entails. After all, if it was abolished not so long ago, what has changed that makes it such a good idea now? Promoting greater civic awareness is laudable, but there is a better way to achieve it: by addressing the flaws in the school system, which is disrupted throughout May and June by too many public holidays and teacher absences (although teachers ought to be replaced). Also, there must be a move away from the teaching of overly theoretical content towards greater emphasis on the practical. With far too much emphasis on learning by rote, things are quickly forgotten. Learning terminology is favoured, but its practical meaning and application for everyday life is not taught. How does society really work? How can I acquire the skills necessary to lead a fulfilling, useful life? Just to give one example, why are students not taught how to invest their money? Community work and working for charities could be integrated with the school curriculum to give students practical experience which would better allow them to discover their aptitudes and help them decide what work they want to do later. James Chater, Avallon

James Chater wins the Connexion letter of the Free glasses Letter month and a copy of the Connexion 2018 Puzzle Please include your name and address in any are a mirage of the Book. correspondence; we can withhold it on request.

One wonders if the pledge to reduce the ‘reste à charge’ for glasses and dental prostheses to 0% will work. The government says there will be no increase in mutuelle premiums but consultants Mercer Conseil estimate the rise could be as high as 8.9%. Insurance is not magic. If claims payments go up, premiums increase. Insurance firms have to make profit. This begs the question: Is it not better to be your own insurer for recurring costs? If you must change glasses every two years and it costs, say €500, your insurer will ask for a premium from you to cover this plus overheads and profit. You may pay €600 for your glasses. Better to put €20 into your piggy bank every month! The problem is health insurance falls somewhere between two types of insurance: Life insurance, an inevitable payout upon death – and non-life insurance where the principle is that indemnification follows a sudden unforeseen event. Geoffrey Auckland, Blois

Moth beaten

In response to ‘VT’s question on pyrale de buis, there is a misconception that the treatments available commercially are chemical-based. In fact, they contain a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, that specifically targets the caterpillars, so can be considered as a natural ‘predator’ and ecologically friendly. A variant of the bacterium is also useful in preventing and treating infestations of processionary caterpillars in both oak and pine. Hazel Vincent, Lot-et-Garonne

The Editor’s decision is final. month Write to: The Connexion, Patio Palace, 41 avenue Hector

Otto, 98000 Monaco or email news@connexionfrance.com

New speed limit cut just doesn’t add up

I have just read the July edition of Connexion, where there is comment about the reduction of the speed limit on ordinary roads outside town from 90kph to 80kph. While the arrival of President Emmanuel Macron has been a breath of fresh air, he obviously has not done his homework on this idea. The apparent motivation is to save lives. But I have not seen any figures or evidence that this is likely. Road deaths have tended to drop over the 120 years of motoring in both France and Britain in spite of increased traffic. The populations of Britain and France are fairly similar and therefore, in all probability, the number of road vehicles. Road death numbers do not seem to be well documented on the internet but, as from 2010, the total in Britain has been below 2,000 p.a. A rather more precise figure in France for 2017 was 3,693 with an estimated slight reduction in 2018. Yet, on such roads, in Britain, the speed limit is 60mph, or 97kph! So a drop in deaths is unlikely to result. What is certain is that there will be increased pollution and reduced productivity. Rowland KENNARD, Pas-de-Calais

Gaga over radio internet? I have served as a local councillor in Bourgogne, near Sainte Colombe sur Loing, since 2005. Recently I was asked to investigate a new high-speed internet offer, announced by our prefecture. This new offer is called RCube THD and concerns the delivery of Very High speed Internet by means of Radio transmission. In our area, there are three service providers, Alsatis, Nordnet and Ozone. The promised service offers 30Mbps download, and 5Mbps upload, as well as telephone and TV services. I attended a presentation by

Letters 17


all three providers and was impressed by Alsatis, who phoned me the day after to confirm that they could indeed provide this service at my address. Nordnet and Ozone failed to respond to a similar question. I would be interested to learn if any Connexion readers have had experience of RCube THD, and if so, how did it match up to promises. In 15 years living here, I have tried several internet service providers, including Nordnet Satellite (which started well then fell into almost uselessness, and WiMax (now Ozone). Mike Bayliss, Yonne

Cartes woes – deal with it What a lot of hot air has been expressed re: cartes de séjour. Your paper’s ongoing advice was sound and all living in France on a permanent basis should renew or apply for one. Surely, Lord Lawson will have to apply just like anyone else, wait in line and have his fingerprints recorded. We have just updated our carte and I did not consider the demands for specific information too onerous – and as for proving where and how long we have lived at our present property, our mairie provided a written text to this effect in five minutes. Readers who get all hot under the collar about this issue should remember, we live in another country and they make their own rules. Chris Eatough, Nièvre

La Poste ‘dire’ Regarding your article “New tasks for postal staff as letter use falls” (June), La Poste has only itself to blame (the management not the postworkers who are lovely!) if the company fails. Since it changed the pricing for parcel post it costs a small fortune to send anything other than a letter-sized packet. Chronopost is also used by other postal companies sending parcels from abroad and the service is dire, they get the lowest possible number of stars if you look online, and mostly seem to leave the packages at a depot in town and tell you to collect them yourself. We, and many others, have waited in all day for several days, and they never came by. H. Homewood, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Lidl unhelpful THREE weeks after I bought a Ponceuse a Bande at Lidl, Valognes, in 2016, the motor stopped, for no obvious reason. I took it back to Lidl and was advised to phone the number in the guarantee. A French friend telephoned regularly for three weeks, with no reply. After many letters and no help from Lidl, I contacted themediator who was amazed at Lidl’s response. He investigated my complaint and, on 10 June 2018, I finally received the €44.99 I paid two years’ earlier. But Lidl still refused to reimburse the postage €15.65 which I am in the process of reporting to the mediator. Lidl’s argument is that because I did not take the sander back within 30 days the guarantee was invalid – so what is the point of a manufacturer’s three-year guarantee? Carol Read, Normandy

w w w. b l e v i n s f r a n k s . c o m

You said it … You can debate and comment on articles we carry on our new-look website: www.connexionfrance.com or via our facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheConnexion Here is a selection of recent popular subjects and readers’ comments... Britons abroad excluded from EU citizenship vote

“So the people who this effects the most are excluded from signing.” T.B. “Surely the EU will not see this happen as it is the reason for this initiative and it would be counterproductive” W.O. “Both UK and France acting like spoilt children – ‘this is my ball, and I’ll decide who will play with it’. Can you credit their incomprehensible attitude to UK citizens living in France?” P.G. “Sounds about right, good old democracy in action.” A.S.

121 deaths by drowning in 35 days in France

“Why are parents waiting for swimming lessons. Can’t they teach their own children to swim?” T.S. “Lifeguard training in France takes a year and costs thousands, no wonder there is such a shortage” J.T. “More swimming lessons needed, so sad that there are so many people losing there lives” G.B. “Most small towns in the UK have swimmng pools open all year, in France only open-air ones in small towns for the summer months. Perhaps this could do with a re-think.” H.G.

Case that ‘could end Brexit’ heard at General Court of the EU

“If this is successful we can just walk away from the table, leave the EU, and not pay a penny.” R.V. “The European Commision’s “Let Them Eat Cake” attitude has doomed them to extinction. And I find it comical that people who abandoned Britain to move abroad are moaning that they had no say in Brexit” T.R. “People need to accept it’s a lost cause so they can get on with their lives” P.G. “I fear the Brexit stupidity will continue as lemmings headed by May throw themselves over the edge.” P.B. “The EU courts can say whatever they want; it no longer matters much and it will matter even less soon enough” C.B.

Faces of French victims of Nazi atrocity

“It’s almost five years since we visited, yet this had me in tears as if I was again standing in the church with the remains of the pram.” S.G. “We pass Oradour whenever we go to Limoges, one day we will visit but it will be a disturbing experience.” R.G. “One of the most humbling places I have visited.” N.A. “It’s a haunting and haunted place. Terrible time in history but we don’t seem to have learned from it.” P.M.

Cash still popular in France despite other payment options

“If you have cash you have some control. When computers ‘crash’ accidentally or deliberately, you are left with nothing, no control of your own money, cut off without a penny.” E.S. “The quicker the world becomes a cashless society the better for everyone. It would absolutely hammer tax-avoidance and drug sales and the technology is there to make this happen now.” I.J. “I am surprised how many people still pay by cheque... most UK supermarkets will not accept cheques.” V.K. “From superficial observation at supermarkets, card payment and cheque payment in France is about equal and must add up to 80% of supermarket payments.” P.S.

Airlines take French air traffic strikes woes to EU

“About time too, the EU should fine the country and relocate the fine to those affected.” B.W. “Since ATC is now a Europe wide activity there is no need for French ATC. Therefore let us offer generous redundancy to French civil ATC and let their involvement be handled by the European centre.” P.S. “Not being able to fly isn’t a limit on your freedom of movement. Freedom of movement is a legal concept, there’s no stipulation over what method of transport you can use.” A.P. “Yeah, good for you EasyJet, someone needs to take them to task.” A.S.

Q& A

The Connexion


What must you consider to bring a horse in to France?

Readers’ questions answered

Send your queries about life here to Oliver Rowland by email to news@connexionfrance.com

Is sister’s British will valid in France? MY SISTER has died and has left a will in English and set out according to English formalities; signed and witnessed. It was not lodged with a notaire. Is it legal? S.B. IT IS not ideal estate planning to rely on an English format will alone if you are resident in France (though people sometimes have a French will limited to French assets and an English one for English assets). As it will not respect the format of a French will and will need translating it can cause additional complications. Differences between an

English-format will and French ones include the fact that one can draw up an English will without a lawyer’s help, either typed or handwritten, and it has signatures added to it by two witnesses. On the other hand a French will made without a notaire, un testament olographe, is handwritten and unwitnessed. None of this however means that a will in an English format (and written in English) is invalid in France nor is it invalidated by not having been lodged with a notaire for safekeeping and for its details to be placed on a national regis-

ter. The latter is an advisable step to ensure a will is found but not doing it does not invalidate a will. Notaire Pierre Lemée, editor of the journal Conseils des Notaires, said France recognises the validity of a will made by a British person in the British format. However it will need translating by a sworn translator (traducteur assermenté). The notaire can apply French inheritance law to this British-format will if applicable (or one of the British legal systems if such a choice was expressed). You should seek advice from a French notaire.

Is there a fee to link home to electricity? I AM interested in buying a property I’ve seen in France but it has no electrics. Is there a set price for running power to a house from the supply in an adjoining road? D.J. ENEDIS (formerly called ERDF) is responsible for the electricity network and can link up the house for you. The alternative is to go via one of the energy companies (EDF, Direct Energie etc) which can act as an intermediary (in any case you would need a contract with a supplier before you can be connected). Linking up a property to the network is called raccordement and, yes, there is a cost, which varies

depending on the complexity of the site. If you supply them with details, they can provide a devis (estimate). Factors affecting the price include whether underground or overground lines are used, geographical location and amount of power needed (the average French home uses 6 kVA, but large

homes with electric heating may need 9-12 kVA). In some cases Enedis may need to undertake an extension de réseau (extension of the network), bringing the electricity distribution network close enough to the home for it to be linked up. If applicable the local council may be able to pay for that part of the costs. An Enedis spokeswoman said it is not possible to estimate the costs as there are too many variables, however it will be higher if the home is far from the public highway. You can enter your details and obtain an estimate here: connect-racco.enedis. fr/prac-internet/login

Turned down for cheap insulation offer I VISITED a website offering ‘insulation for €1’ but they said I am not eligible because my department is not in ‘Zone H1’. This is not fair. M.C. THERE are a number of firms offering such deals. We emailed the one you tried to ask for clarification and also asked official energy efficiency agency Ademe. We did not hear back from the firm, however an Ademe spokeswoman said such schemes are commercial offers, not part of

an official state programme. She said they usually make use of the Certificat d’Economie d’Energie (CEE) scheme, by which certain kinds of renovation, making homes more energy-efficient, are eligible for money from energy companies, called prime énergie. Location can be a factor in eligibility for this, she said, as well as physical factors of the building and the situation of the family (eg. household income). She added that Ademe advises caution when con-


sidering offers, as insulation should not be rushed into: “Well-installed insulation adds to your comfort and energy savings, but poorly-installed insulation will not be effective and can even harm the building or the air quality inside. “Seek advice from a PRIS advisor to understand the commercial offer and the most useful work with regard to the building.” You can book a free appointment with one of these official energy savings advisors at tinyurl.com/y798tjya

What is the law on garden bonfires? Does it vary from one department to another?

August 2018

AN ENGLISH friend is planning to move to France and wants to bring her horse with her. What rules are involved? C.S. THERE are several considerations for your friend – firstly how to transport her horse to France and then, how to keep and look after it here and, of course, making sure it is legally registered. There are different options for bringing the horse over including using her own horsebox (if she has one) by ferry. She should check with ferry firms to make sure this is possible and if there are any specific requirements;

certain routes do not take horses and in other cases they only take a fixed number at a time. Another option is via the Channel Tunnel, using one of their approved transporters, see eurotunnel.com/uk/travellerinfo/pets/horse-travel Finally you could go for another transport company equipped for horses which would take the horse in a large horsebox via ferry (air transport of horses exists but is very expensive). Expect to pay around €1,000 or more to a transport company. In France all horses must be registered with the SIRE, a cen-

Is arthritis treatment 100% reimbursed? I AM retired and planning to take up residency in France. I have been taking an expensive medication (adalimumab) for psoriatic arthritis from the NHS and am concerned about the cost in France. I am not clear whether it is on the ALD (100% no payment) list. C.M. YES, this condition, a form of inflammatory arthritis affecting people with the skin condition psoriasis, is included among the affections de longue durée (ALD), meaning medicines for it are covered 100%. In this case ‘100%’ means literally 100% of the price, apart from where an equivalent generic exists and a patient refuses it in favour of a branded medicine. With the same proviso, there is no need to advance the money and claim it back. We can also confirm that adalimumab is one of the recognised treatments for the condition in France. Psoriatic arthritis is grouped under the heading of ‘serious spondyloarthritis’ (see the website of the Haute Authorité de Santé here: tinyurl.com/y7wu5zf8). We suggest you register with a generalist as your médecin traitant as soon as possible after your move (you organise this directly with the doctor of your choice). They will then be able to tell you what is required for France to recognise and treat your illness (possibly including a referral to a specialist rhumatologue). For a list of the various ALD illnesses, see this site and click on Consulter tous les guides ALD: tinyurl.com/ALD-list

We are selling a firm that must be run by Anglophones. How can we reassure buyers re. Brexit?

tral database of horses present on the territory (Système d’information rélatif aux équidés). To do so requires an EU horse passport (there is a charge of €240 for horses without an EU passport), which your friend should already have, a declaration of ownership, a €95 cheque made out to IFCE (see below) and a stamped addressed envelope. For more details, including declaration of ownership forms (in English) to download (see on the right-hand side) visit: ifce.fr/ifce/ sire-demarches/au-cours-de-lavie-du-cheval/importation/ If your friend needs somewhere to keep the horse, she could look into écurie/s (stable/s) or une pension de chevaux. The following site is useful: pension-chevaux.com Tariffs vary depending on how the horse is accommodated; if food is provided etc. The body should be set up as a business with a Siret number and have assurance responsabilité civile professionnelle. Riding centres (centres équestres) sometimes offer pension facilities. You can find more about owning a horse from the Fédé­ ration Française d’Equitation (ffe. com) and Institut française du cheval et de l’équitation (ifce.fr).

What are the rules for camping in the wild?

ARE there any restrictions related to camping in the wild in France? Anything we should be aware of? G.B.

BASICALLY you can camp anywhere where it is not forbidden by the land owners… but working out who the owners are and what their rules are is not always obvious. Nature reserves and classified (protected) sites, and the seaside are generally off-limits, for example. However that is not necessarily the case in the national parks, especially if you are only camping out for one night – which is referred to as a bivouac (especially if it is a small, simple tent). In which case there are often specific rules, for example in the Ecrins or Mercantour national parks in the south-east, it is possible to bivouac from 19.00 to 9.00 if you do it at more than an hour’s walk from the park limits or a road. In the Cévennes the rules specify it is limited to people without a vehicle, using a tent which is not large enough to stand in, and

Photo: John Horner / CC BY-SA - 2.0

18 Practical

that you should do it near to a marked path. It would be advisable to find out the rules for the area you plan to visit, for example on a website for a national park or from the mairie or directly from the owner if it is private land. A distinction is sometimes made between bivouacking – a single night by a walker, in a simple tent, and ‘camping sauvage’ (for example with a larger tent, coming by car and camping out for several nights). Apart from checking permission, the basic advice for cam­ping in the wild is to minimise noise and disturbance, not pick the plants and flowers, not start fires (and avoid smoking), not leave rubbish and keep to as small an area as possible. Natural human waste should be buried.

We will be bringing in a car from How does a newcomer obtain a the UK. What are the papers social security number so as to and formalities to reregister it? work and have a carte vitale?

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The Connexion

August 2018


Practical 19


Service national

Talking Point

Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider, UK Telecom, answers your queries

Motarde = a female motorcyclist

Bringing back ‘national service’ is in the news again. Here we look at the history of this in France and what form the new version may take PRESIDENT Macron believes a Service national universel for young people will encourage them to take a part in the life of the nation and promote social cohesion. He wants it to be in place by the end of the year after a public consultation. If it happens, it will be a return to form for France, which had national service for two centuries. It mostly consisted of service in the armed forces, also commonly known as service sous les drapeaux (‘under the flags’). What used to happen There was compulsory military service for young French men from the Revolution until 1997. It varied over the years from one to five years and, in 1965, was termed service national, though service militaire was still being used in everyday language in the 1990s. In its final form it was for 10 months, or 20 for conscientious objectors who could take the option of alternatives like working for a charity (latterly there were also options of serving in the police or gendarmerie). It was obligatory for men but women could volunteer. In 1996 three men were judged by a military court in Marseille for having ‘deserted’ their civil service after 10 months. After it was abolished... It was replaced, in favour of an all-professional army, by the much less onerous Journée défense et citoyenneté (JDC), a one-day course for all young French men and women. This is meant to inform young French people about their rights and obligations as citi-

zens and about how national institutions work. It has to be completed between age 16 to 25 following the young person’s official registration at the mairie (recensement). It includes an explanation about national defence and ways in which it is possible to give service (see below). Showing a certificate of completion is required for taking the Bac or a driving test. Service civil or civique In the 2000s laws were passed promoting voluntary service for charitable or government bodies, called service civil and then, in 2010 under Nicolas Sarkozy, service civique. The current scheme (service-civique.gouv.fr) is open to young Europeans for six months to a year in accredited projects in sectors such as aid to the needy, emergency services, education, culture, sport or the environment, in France and overseas. They receive a monthly allowance of €473-581 plus an expenses amount of at least €108. Military options It is possible for young French nationals aged 17-27 to sign up for volontariat dans les armées, which consists of a one-year contract (renewable up to four times) to join the forces on a temporary basis. They receive pay and lodging and can rise in the ranks. There are also two forms of military ‘reserve’: n Réserve opérationnelle (tinyurl.com/y865ur6y) for French people aged 17 or more, who receive some military training and agree to do temporary paid stints in the forces if called on in times of need (eg. when France is at war). n Réserve citoyenne de défense et de sécurité : For unpaid French volunteers aged at least

17 who support the forces by organising activities and talks in connection with local councils, schools and businesses. A further option called Service Militaire Volontaire (SMV), was launched under François Hollande, for young French men and women, aged 18-25, aimed at those lacking qualifications and direction. It has been trialled since 2015 in several locations. The young people receive board and lodging and €313-675 net/month. It lasts a year and combines a taste of military life (including wearing uniforms and living in barracks) with broad training meant to improve employability. It is in partnership with the private sector and includes work placements in firms. A

Our main image was drawn for Connexion by artist Perry Taylor. For more of his work see www.perrytaylor.fr few thousand people have taken part and an evaluation is due at the end of 2018. What is happening now? The terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 gave rise to calls from MPs on the left and right for reintroducing military service, with some suggesting making the SMV (above) compulsory. Connexion sought to find out from the Elysée and Defense Ministry if the SMV is being abandoned due to Mr Macron’s plans, but we have not yet received an answer. Nor is it clear if there will be any change to other schemes like the JDC or Service civique or if Mr Macron’s scheme will be open to non-French people in France, either on an obligatory or voluntary basis. No previous scheme of a ‘mil-

Image: perrytaylor.fr

Q: For ten years we have been using Orange internet and home landline. As we are only in France for the summer they allowed you to turn off the landline and internet when you were not there and restore the service when you returned so we only had to pay for three months a year. Now it is stopping. Are there any alternatives?

itary’ nature has been open to non-French people however Mr Macron’s plan is not exclusively military. He has repeatedly said he wants compulsory national service but details had been vague until recently. According to France Info, which saw a leaked report, the latest suggestions involve a one-month phase, obligatory for all young French people and a second voluntary phase from three to six months. People would have to complete it before age 25 and it might include experience with the military or in another sector such as with a charity. The first phase would be at age 15-18, probably in the holidays. It is proposed there would be two weeks in a residential centre, centred on team spirit, manners and values, including learning about ways of being involved in defence and security. It might also include doing sport, learning first aid techniques and about how to act in an emergency. It would be followed by a two-week ‘group project’. The residential session could also allow for checks on health and skills and to find out if people have family or social difficulties, France Info said. The plans should be firmed up in the autumn after consultations with young people but 14 youth organisations said in Le Journal du Dimanche that making public service obligatory is wrong and there is more value in choosing freely to commit oneself. Others have pointed to difficulties for apprentices and university students to take time off for this. Questions have also been raised over funding and who is going to be responsible for teaching these young people as military personnel’s time is already under pressure.

A: Many of Orange’s customers were taken by surprise when it withdrew this long-standing offer without warning. A typical customer might suspend their service for six months each year and the loss of this could add a substantial amount to bills. While French second property owners will be the majority of those affected, many thousands of British holiday home owners are also likely to be adversely affected. Many will feel that they have little choice but to accept this, including those owners that rent out their properties to others and who are likely to lose more in lost bookings than in the extra fees if they offer no broadband. However alternatives are available.

The closest comparable service for a standard 12-month contract is from UKTelecom. Customers can suspend their broadband for up to four months a year with a small monthly charge to keep the account live. Requiring an email to suspend and reactivate the service, it is simpler than the old Orange service that required the modem to be handed in to an Orange shop and collected when required. UKTelecom also offers a free care package for renters who can call them for assistance. If your use is very low there are even cheaper alternatives not requiring a 12-month agreement (eg. from SFR) but there are set up and cease costs. If you are only going to need the service for a few months you may find a mobile ‘hot spot’ is the best alternative. It is not as suitable for use by renters but is very flexible and you can connect up to nine devices at any one time. It comes with a set amount of data and when it runs low you can buy additional credit online through an Englishlanguage website. Both UKTelecom and lefrenchmobile. com offer this.

See uktelecom.net for more information on services in France. T: UK +44 1483 477 100  T: from France 0805 631 632

Euro Sense Shaun Dash from Currencies Direct, answers a reader question on currency exchange Q: I have finally sold my house in the UK and plan to transfer the proceeds to my bank account in France. Is the GBP/EUR exchange rate likely to strengthen in the next few months? A: Congratulations on the successful sale of your property. We will start with a run-down of what has been happening to the rate so far this year... which is to say not much. The GBP/EUR exchange rate has been pretty static for the last few months, holding around the €1.13 to €1.14 level. There have not been any surprising changes in the Brexit outlook to get the pound moving, and both the Bank of England (BoE) and European Central Bank (ECB) have remained cautious. But GBP/EUR may strengthen in the next few months if there is a major breakthrough in Brexit negotiations – particularly in reference to a good UK-EU trade deal. However, analysts reckon the current deadlock could last for a while yet and there are still a couple of years until the planned Brexit transition period ends, so the pace of negotiations may remain slow. The pound would have another reason to strengthen if Britain’s economy shows enough signs of resilience for the BoE to finally make a move on interest rates. Markets currently bet there will be a rate hike in August and some analysts think there could be another in November. One rate hike in 2018 would certainly boost the pound, hints at two could send Sterling soaring. If you are not in a hurry to move your money from the UK you may want to talk through your options with one of our currency experts. As well as keeping you up-to-date with all the latest market movements, they will be able to talk to you about services like limit orders – where you can arrange for a currency transfer to occur automatically if the market moves to a certain level.  Email your currency queries to news@connexionfrance.com

For more information about making international money transfers with Currencies Direct visit the website www.currenciesdirect.com/france or call +33 (0)4 22 32 62 40

20 Practical

The Connexion


by JANE HANKS CHOOSING the right childcare for a pre-school age child is an important and difficult decision. Ten weeks of paid maternity leave is allowed for working mothers, extended to 18 weeks if it is the third or more child. So anyone who plans to go back to work must find care. This can be formal and paid; either in a crèche, with a childminder (assistante maternelle) or a nanny in your home, or informal (family, often a grandparent, a friend or one of the parents who will stay at home). The latest figures from a study by the Observatoire National de la Petite Enfance de la Cnaf (Caisse nationale des allocations familiales), show that in 2015, 56% of under-3s were in formal care with the majority of those being looked after by an assistante maternelle. Nearly half of children are not in a formal structure. This can be personal choice but it is also due to the fact there are just 18 places for every 100 children underthree in crèches. This means if you want to use external child care you must book as early as possible, before the child is born. Assistantes maternelles are slightly easier to find, but again it is best to start early so you can choose someone who suits you and is available. You can find out about local child care from a Relais Assistantes Maternelles (Ram) which are sited in most small towns, often in the mairie. Find your nearest one at mon-enfant.fr Crèche fees are means tested and some forms of care can earn tax credits. You can apply for help with fees from the Caf for both

We write everything about each child’s day and always try to find an anecdote to make parents feel involved

Lucie Payan, éducatrice

Photo: Océan Marais / CC BY-SA 3.0

Crèche places are limited, book early

In Vendée, Océan Marais de Monts has a relais group of assistantes maternelles who all work together to provide plenty of cover assistantes maternelles and crèches. As an idea, my daughter, Charlotte, has two children aged six months and two years and employs an assistante maternelle on a 25-hour a week contract. In April she paid €810 for the 25-hour weekly contract, but her Caf family allowance plus childcare allowance more than covered this. She was also able to claim tax credits. Of course, each situation is different, but there is funding help available. Charlotte says the most difficult thing is sorting out the paperwork as you are regarded as the child minder’s employer and must draw up a contract with them, pay them and declare their salary to the Pajemploi, which is part of Urssaf pajemploi.urssaf.fr She also says you have to work hard to find the one to suit your needs as sometimes they do not work every weekday or during school holidays. An assistante maternelle must have a recognised qualification and can have up to four children in her home. There are different types of crèche: municipale run by a local authority; entreprise run by a workplace for employees; privée, run as a private business; parentale run by a parents’ association; familiale made up of a number of assistantes maternelles who

look after up to four children in their home but who meet up in the crèche familiale building once or twice a week, and a jardin d’enfants which has activities to stimulate young children. In addition, micro-crèches are growing in popularity and have a maximum of 10 children. They are all covered by the same strict regulations with a minimum number of qualified employees. There must be at least one person for five children who cannot walk yet and one person for eight children who walk. Crèches are financed in part by the Caf and though fees are not the same everywhere your contribution is income and family size related. You can work out the price on the Caf website www.mon-enfant.fr Lucie Payan is an éducatrice de jeunes enfants – which is one of the qualifications which allows you to work in and eventually be the director of a crèche – and works in a crèche in Toulouse where there are 45 places. Most contracts with families are for 50 hours a week, meaning children are often there for 10 hours at a time. Mrs Payan explains this is because parents’ working days can be long with a 1-2 hour lunch break and travel either end. “We have four groups of

children, each with a dedicated team to look after them. “The first group is for the 2½-8 months, the second for 8–12 up to 18 months, the third for 1-2 years and fourth for 2-3 year olds.” She has worked in several crèches and says they all do their best for the children they welcome: “There is always a good feeling and an effort to make the children as cared for as possible. In my current crèche, parents are invited in to help in the fortnight’s transition period when children start. “We write down everything about each child’s day so we can tell the parents how much they have slept, what they have eaten and we always try to find a personal anecdote to make the parents feel as involved as possible. “I really love my job, we have such a lovely time with the children.” Private crèches will probably be more expensive and may have a theme, such as being bilingual. Parental crèches mean that the father and mother must participate in part of the running of the crèche, so require more of their time. In practise the question of choice is limited to local ones with places. The

The cost was peanuts relative to anything in the UK

Alison Weatherhead, parent, Normandy biggest tip is to get your name down on waiting lists as early as possible. In Normandy, reader Alison Weatherhead says she opted for a crèche when her children (born in Vire and now 17 and 19) were little, dropping them off in the morning and picking them up late afternoon. She says it was a positive experience: “You supplied lunch and nappies. The cost was means tested and was peanuts relative to anything in the UK. “As my husband is English, this was the best option we thought to get the kids speaking French and understanding la vie à la française before school.”

August 2018

Parents join teachers in dates protest TEACHERS and parents are, unusually, jointly protesting over the 201819 school year dates saying there is too big a gap between the spring holidays and the start of summer – and they say 2019-2020 will be worse. Samuel Cywie of the parent federation Peep said ‘Zone B’ children will have 11 weeks between spring and summer holidays while Valérie Sipa­ himalani, of teacher union Snes, said the winter holiday industry was being given priority over children’s needs as the winter holidays start on February 9 and finish on March 11 for Zone C. And, pointing to the 2019-2020 calendar she said that Zone C had five weeks of school from January to the winter holidays – when just 10% of families go skiing – then 11 weeks of school between spring and summer. Dorothée Avet of the FCPE parent federation said the ideal rhythm was seven weeks of school and two weeks’ holiday but that this was ignored, hitting the youngest children hardest as collège and lycée students finished earlier for their exams. It has called on the Conseil Supérieur de l’Education to order a rethink on the timings. French children have school for 144 days a year as opposed to 190 in Britain and 208 in Germany.

Bac success for 675,600

NEARLY nine out of 10 students who sat their baccalauréat exam this year passed, with the 88.3% success rate up 0.4% on 2017. In addition, 47.7% passed with a mention, meaning a pass mark of more than 12 out of 20. A total of 675,600 passed the bac out of 765,000 who sat the exam with more than half (52%) going for the bac général and 91.1% passing; 20% for the bac technologique and 28% for the bac professionnel. For collège students, just more than 704,000 passed their exams for the brevet for a 87.1% pass rate (down 1.9%). Girls did better than boys with a 90.7% pass rate against 83.7%.

Taking on the tax office: be prepared, be thorough and be right Money Matters

Robert Kent of Kentingtons explains. www.kentingtons.com If you completed your tax return in May, you can look forward to the bill, the avis d’impôts, about now. If everything is as expected then be happy you have made your contribution to the republic and relax until next May. But if it is much more than forecast, what next? We have many more tax office battles every year, ever more numerous and longer to get to the right decision (ie. agreeing with us!). We have also seen far fewer errors, where the declarations have been made online, and it also makes corrections easier. First thing to remember is that the tax office may be right, so be kind and courteous when visiting to state your view. Offer your gratitude if they quickly acknowledge and correct immedi-

ately. It is not a good idea to be on bad terms with your local tax office. The main error we see is the application of social charges, most often to UK rental income, but also to pensions where the payer has a valid S1. In both cases, social charges should not be applied but often are. For UK rental income, the social charge is calculated and applied but then another line ought to offer a tax credit equal to the amount of the calculated charge. For pensions, it should simply not show at all, with no line for a tax credit. So, what to do if you are sure there is an error? Whatever you decide to do, do it quickly. n Emailing the tax office as the quickest way to register concerns. If the office is efficient this can work well. Your avis d’impôts has a tax office email like sip.(town name)@dgfip.finances.gouv.fr n The impots.gouv.fr site, is also easy. Log in to your account selecting ‘Effectuer une démarche > faire une réclamation > réclamation sur l’impôt sur le revenu’. n If you speak French or have someone happy

to help, visiting the tax office can give the quickest result. Call or email for an appointment with an inspector to avoid a wait. If busy, turning up and taking a ticket is the only way. Usually a face-to-face meeting works well. If lucky you can get a correction, a dégrèvement, then and there. But what if they disagree and say the demand stands? n Send a registered letter. You have met the inspector and they disagree but to progress you need the tax demand to be placed formally in contention. You can do this with the inspector but these verbal requests may ‘get lost’. A formal letter sent recommandé avec accusé de réception, must be acknowledged and cannot be ignored. With written evidence that the demand is in contention, you can take it to the next step. n The conciliateur fiscal. This is a department of the same office but if you are clear on why tax is not payable and lay your argument out clearly, they will review it and 95% of the time rule in your favour, granting the dégrèvement. If not... n The Médiateur is a regional office that can

overrule your tax office. This will take time, so the next problem is what to do about the bill, as the payment deadline will often have passed. This can be stressful. If the bill is affordable, we say to pay and claim it back. If the demand is in contention there is rarely a problem, but going to the mediator does not halt the payment demand and the treasury will take it from your bank… with penalties (although these will also be reimbursed if you win). It takes three to four months for mediation, but it can take longer. What if they say no? n Legal action, but for us it has never come to this. Mediation is slow but thorough. If your claim is rejected you must take rapid professional advice and be certain you have a claim. What about next year? File communications neatly and in order to make any future meetings easy. Log exact dates and times of conversations, in detail. If the mistake is repeated – it happens often – it is good to know you can easily remind them of what happened this year to save time and trouble.


Photo: P. Brault

Food Wine Homes Gardens Interviews Events

BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE CHATEAU Villandry’s head gardener on going organic

+ Building a medieval castle Indulgent chocolate recipes Tanguy Pastureau interview Studio Harcourt photos

2 Living History

Samantha David digs out her 13th-century work clothes for a spot of stone-masonry at a living history site

Photo: Clément Guérard

My brief life as an apprentice builder of medieval castles...

Photo: Guédelon

French Living I August 2018


uédelon is a fully-functioning medieval construction site – a chantier médiéval – where a 13th-century fortified castle is being built using only methods and tools available from that era. There is no steam traction, no electricity, no power tools, satellite imaging, cranes... and no computers. They don’t even use biros – and there is no mobile network or wifi, either. The project was dreamt up in 1995 by a group of archaeologists and historians with a special interest in castles. Setting up the project was hard; getting funding, getting permissions, convincing people the project was even achievable. But a site was finally purchased near the village of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, in Yonne (Bourgogne), about an hour south-west of Auxerre. It had everything the team needed: water, wood, clay, and stone. Work first began on the barns which would house the administration blocks, ticket offices and reception areas for the site. It was soon realised that the project would run aground if it was established as a charity or NGO. Building a medieval castle is not cheap. The aim therefore was to make the project self-supporting as soon as possible. Today the site welcomes 300,000 visitors a year (200,000 of them school children) and ticket sales (along with the proceeds of the café, restaurant and the shop) cover the costs of materials and salaries. As a business, the construction site has to respect modern health and safety rules, so everyone on site wears steel tipped boots, stone masons wear protective eye masks, and the site itself is secured to modern standards. “We try to make them as unobtrusive as possible,” said communications officer Sarah Preston. “But if you look carefully, the wooden scaffolding is held together by modern steel bolts. Wooden pegs would be just as secure but the inspectors insist.”

Health and safety

The site gets frequent health and safety inspections, and had difficulty getting permission to use what is affectionately called the “squirrel wheel” (inset) – a massive wooden treadmill that people walk in to power a wooden “crane” which lifts crates of stones to the top of the walls. “The inspector said it was damaging to human dignity, and in the end she only changed her mind when the masons themselves petitioned her for permission to use it, because otherwise they’d have had to carry the stones up the ladders in

hods on their backs. So she relented.” Construction of the castle began 20 years ago. In that time the curtain walls surrounding the courtyard and the living quarters of the castle have been completed. There is a well in the courtyard, too, which would have been vital for any fortified structure in the 13th century. Construction now focuses on the gatehouse and the towers at each corner of the courtyard. It has not all been plain sailing. “Nobody really knew how to build a medieval castle at the beginning,” said Ms Preston. “We’ve had to discover the details as we went along. “For example, you can still see the keystones sticking out of the curtain wall where we planned to construct a chapel but we abandoned the idea, and we think that must have happened a lot. “You think you’ll construct it one way, and you end up doing something else.” The builders have spent a lot of time and energy keeping the castle dry, and getting rainwater to run away from it. So much so that the water storage system under one of the towers, is actually dry. “We’ll have to sort it out at some point,” said Ms Preston. Another learning curve was in the bridges constructed over the dry moat surrounding the castle. “We used around

600 hand-forged nails in the first bridge, but we hardly used any in the second one. By that time we’d worked out how to do it without them because making nails is really time consuming!”

Creating a local lord

Nobody really knew how to build a medieval castle at the beginning. We’ve had to discover the details as we went along

In order to give the castle some context, the year 1228 was chosen as the year that construction began, a year of peace and prosperity in that part of France. A local seigneur was invented, with his own history. Guilbert was a vassal of Jean de Toucy, himself a vassal of King Louis IV of France. Guilbert is not fabulously wealthy, but has been granted permission to construct a residential fortified castle. Guilbert does not have the cash to build anything enormous or very posh. That is why he has to abandon the idea of a separate building for the chapel and install it in one of the towers, instead. “In a way we’re probably building it with too much care,” said Ms Preston. “At the time, a castle of this size would have been built in a more rough-andready way. Artisans would have been paid piece rate rather than salaried and there probably would have been more hurry to complete it. But we’re learning as we go along, and trying to do our best.” What is strange about Guédelon, is that when you walk through newly constructed rooms, halls and corridors, when you climb the stairs and gaze down from the battlements, there is no sense of being in a new building. It feels thoroughly medieval, just like any other old stone castle you’ve visited. It even smells old. “Once it’s complete, it’ll be interesting to see how it can be

lived in, how we can weatherproof the windows and heat it,” said Ms Preston. The business has about 70 full-time employees, 40 of whom are actively involved in the construction. Helping out are 600 volunteer ‘bâtisseurs’ who each spend a week on the site. “We limit it to a week because we receive thousands of requests every year and we simply can’t satisfy all of them. “Bâtisseurs come from all over the world; they’re men and women of all ages, with all kinds of backgrounds and levels of experience. It is not necessary to have any building skills at all. Just to be fit, ready to learn, and able to work as part of a group.”

Invitation to build

Invited to go along and join in, effectively becoming a bâtisseur for a few days, I jumped at the chance. I was thrilled with my medieval outfit and could not wait to get started. My face fell, however, when I was assigned to the stone cutting workshop. I was certain I was incapable of making the slightest impression on a lump of stone. It turned out I was wrong. The mason in charge did not bat an eyelid when I pulled a doubtful face. He explained the implements, showed me how to use them and off I went, chipping away at a massive piece of rock. It was fine and I was not the only woman dressing stone either; it turns out it is not so much about brute strength but more about stamina and technique. The stonemasons are a jolly lot, always laughing and joking as they chip and bash. By lunchtime, when the bell rang,

Living History 3

Photo: Samantha David

August 2018 I French Living

Photo: Samantha David

Couple put the Viking into ancient farming

The animals, the clothes and the tools at Normandy farm are as authentic as possible, explains Samantha David

T Above left: The ‘castle’ under construction, thanks to the work of dedicated stonemasons using only tools from the 13th century. Above right, Connexion’s Samantha David gets to grips with aspects of 700-year-old building work

I was covered in dust and ready to eat an ox, especially as the aroma of frying onions had been drifting over the site all morning. The site has lots of visitors wandering around, and the actual workshops are just casually roped off. So stepping over the rope and walking through the visitors towards the kitchens in my dusty tabard made me feel like a real builder. After lunch (big bowls of boeuf Bourguignon, thick slices of bread made in the castle oven, and a massive hunk of cheese) it was back to work and I couldn’t wait to get back to my stone. I certainly did not want anyone else finishing it off. Each side needs to be dressed (chipped smooth) and as luck would have it, the side I was dressing was to be an external one, always visible. (No, the stone cutters do not just randomly produce stones, each one is made for a specific position on the plan.) So I chipped away all afternoon – determined to get it finished – and by the time the bell rang at six to signal down tools, it was finished. Slightly wonky with a dimple in the middle, but finished all the same, and the boss was pleased. The next day I was assigned to the carpentry workshop and managed to get blisters hacking away at four pieces of wood to make a sloping-sided box for the stonemasons to use. The dovetail joints had all been marked out, it was just a matter (note that word ‘just’) of cutting along the pencil marks and slotting it all together. Except the marks weren’t exactly aligned and it was only hand tools and the box had to be solid... erase the word ‘just’!

That 13th-century artisan look

By lunchtime I was covered in sawdust and chiselling away like a pro. I felt like I had been part of the construction crew forever, peacefully concentrating on the tiny detail of a joint on a box. I even had some minor cuts and bruises, along with grubby broken nails, to make me feel like an even more authentic historic artisan. The workshops are rough, open-sided wooden constructions put together with branches and rope. Wooden tiles keep most of the weather out. Around them, trees provide shade and underfoot is bare trodden earth. There is no noise, no drills or mechanical diggers. Modern items like plastic water bottles are hidden away, there are no bright colours, no phones, no distractions. But the work is tiring, especially if you are not used to doing manual labour every day. I went back to the youth hostel where I was staying completely exhausted every night and slept like a baby. And on the last day, I wandered over to see how the gatehouse was coming along. This will be the fortified entrance to the courtyard, and is the focus of work this summer. And there, just beside where the wooden gates will eventually be fixed, was my stone. It will be there forever, just at head height, the stone I dressed, my tiny contribution to history; slightly wonky, with a dimple in the middle. Samantha David stayed in the newly refurbished “Auberge de Treigny” one of the closest youth hostels to Guédelon where beds start at €18pp per night. (www.lauberge-de-treigny.fr)

he ‘Ferme Gröning’ is a historical reconstruction of a Viking farm in Grumesnil (Seine-Maritime, Normandy). Owners Frédéric Hanocque and Nathalie Knut Sauma Stofa raise heritage breeds of farm animals, using Viking methods as far as is practicable. “I started it because I’m passionate about history, and our family is descended from Vikings,” said Mr Hanocque, who bears a strong resemblance to the image of a Viking from a child’s book. He and Nathalie wear historic costumes when visitors come to the farm, and use historic implements and methods as much as possible – but the farm buildings are not part of the reconstruction. Although they are old, some dating back to the 18th century, it would not be financially viable to replace them with authentic historical replicas. The animal breeds are all authentically Viking, however, as are the tools, equipment and farming methods. Mr Hanocque even has a 6m Viking longship which he takes out on the lake from time to time. Medieval re-enactments are popular all across France in the summer months, and many boast music and dancing, people in costume, jousting, falconry displays, crafts, and medieval markets. “In France there aren’t many people doing farm re-enactments with animals. “In Denmark they exist, from the Stone Age to the medieval period, but not in France,” said Mr Hanocque. “So I decided to do it.” He goes to medieval fairs, where he sets up a camp which people can explore to find out more about Viking life. He takes some of his animals so he can explain the history of the breeds. He has enormous Auroch cattle, which tower over most men’s heads, as well as beautiful shaggy Highland cattle with massive curling horns. He has Tarpan and Fjord horses, both ancient breeds, and an extraordinary collection of goats, sheep, geese, chickens and, of course, a dog; a Lapinkoïra from

Scandinavia. He holds sessions for school children at the farm. “I wear costumes for kids and they learn about farming as well as history, because I breed heritage livestock.” Heritage breeds are genetically the oldest pure breeds, the closest to those actually farmed by the Vikings, but Mr Hanocque’s animals never go to the abattoir. “I don’t produce meat, the animals are sold to other museums and farms where they use heritage breeds.” He does, however, produce mares’ milk, which he sells to visitors, and says is incredibly healthy. The chemical constitution of mare’s milk means it has been used for generations as a tonic. He also has chickens which, obviously, produce eggs. One of the most unusual breeds is his Mangalica woolly pigs, which are covered in grey wool, like a sheep, and are favourites with visitors. He says some people come to the farm because they are history fans and know a lot about the Viking way of life and others come just out of curiosity, but that it touches everyone. “So many of us are descended from Norsemen, it’s our history, our past, our roots...” The pair have started looking at new revenue streams including setting up a poultry yard, as well as making and selling medieval costumes. They are also improving signage in the area to enable visitors to find them more easily. 2018 could be make or break, so this summer is definitely a good time to discover the Viking Farm. To arrange a visit, contact the owners via the website: crffm-normandie. wixsite.com/ferme-groning To find a medieval fête or other event near you, search for the list on adagionline.com/calendrier.asp If you feel the urge to go full history with an authentic costume, the internet is bursting at the (hand-sewn) seams with online medieval costume shops (some more authentic than others). Even Amazon is in on the act.

4 Rencontre

French Living I August 2018

‘We grow more than 100,000 flowers and vegetables from seed at Villandry’ Photos: Château et jardins de Villandry

Laurent Portuguez leads a team of 10 full-time gardeners at the 100% organic Château de Villandry. He talks to Jane Hanks about the scale of his job


ne of the most famous gardens in France is at the Château de Villandry, near Tours in the Loire Valley. It is known above all for its formal gardens bordered by box hedging which creates symmetrical patterns and are filled with a vast range of plants and vegetables. The head gardener since 2007 is Laurent Portuguez. How would you describe the gardens at Villandry? They are gardens of opulence. It is an area with a strong concentration of plants. There are the plants which make up the structure of the garden and we mainly associate that with box at Villandry, but there are other elements including 500 roses and hundreds of fruit trees. Growing within these structural elements are more than 10,000 plants including both flowers and vegetables. We have to have a great deal of knowledge over a very broad range of plants, so it is very complete gardening. How did you become head gardener? I studied horticulture and then set up my own business looking after gardens in second homes. Above all, I love plants and have gathered a great deal of knowledge about them. In 2007 the job was advertised, I applied and was successful. There are very few openings like this and it is a real privilege to be here. What is a typical day for you? We always start with the morning briefing when I tell the gardeners their jobs for the day. We have 10 full-time gardeners but also many students from all over the world who come here to do their internships. There is a huge amount of work to do so we are always busy. Weeding and pruning are all done by hand, there is no other way and there is a lot of pruning. We have 1,000 lime trees which have to be cut back each winter. There are three box gardens and we prune them once a year but it takes a month for each garden. I supervise the gardeners, and I also do the forward planning. Everything has to be anticipated in advance so I have to order the tulips in June to plant in October, for example. I must imagine what it will look like in six months and plan what we have to do to achieve that. I must also look at what is happening in the garden now to see what improvements we can make for next year and we are always looking at new ways of doing things and new plants to introduce.

In 2009 you decided to garden organically at Villandry? What did you have to change? It was, above all, technically difficult because we had to learn to recognise all the different insects in the garden and know which are the good ones and which are the bad ones. It is something we never learnt during our studies, so I had to spend a great deal of time reading up on this. Our gardeners had to learn as well and they have to be very observant and bring me insects they spot so we can identify them. It depends a great deal on observation and memory. We have to know what we did in a certain situation, whether it worked, whether we should do the same thing again or whether we should do things differently. Is gardening more difficult now with the introduction of pests like the box caterpillar and the changing weather patterns? Not really because gardening is always about learning to deal with the existing conditions and it makes it fascinating to rise to the new challenges. It is all about observation.

Laurent Portuguez (above) and his dedicated team have been gardening organically at Villandry since 2009

Gardening is always about learning to deal with the existing conditions Laurent Portuguez

Which is your favourite garden? It has to be the Jardin du Soleil, which is a contemporary garden I planted when I first arrived. The owner Henri Carvallo wanted to recreate the garden that his great-grandfather had planned at the beginning of the 20th century in the only part of the park which did not yet have a garden. The central part of the garden, which has a pool in the shape of a sun, has borders full of perennials, which are the plants I love best. We cannot allow the gardens to become too personal to us, though, because they are part of a long history with a future in front of them. We work in them so that they will last for generations ahead of us and we leave just a small trace of our participation in them. It is real gardening, where we grow from seed and see the plant through to maturity. The amounts of vegetables that we produce is staggering, kilos of peppers, aubergines, tomatoes and celery. In September, we have a day when we meet the visitors and they can take vegetables home. (Journées du Potager, September 29 and 30).

On the Château de Villandry website (www.chateauvillandry.fr) you give tips to home gardeners. What can we learn from the way you garden? Looking after a garden like Villandry is not really comparable to home gardening. There is a lot of technical knowledge we have to apply and we do things in a way an amateur gardener cannot because it is on a completely different scale. We have to go fast to get everything done. If you watched me prune roses you would see just how quickly I do it. With experience I know exactly how the rose will grow, where it needs cutting to promote growth and so I can work quickly. It is a combination of knowledge and experience. But a lot of our tips are relevant. How to prevent box from being attacked by the caterpillar, for example. What satisfaction do you get from working at Villandry? It is very varied and the time goes by very quickly. We are lucky because we get thanked and praised for our work all the time, because people appreciate the garden. We work in good conditions and Mr Carvallo is interested in innovation and providing us with the best equipment and he is happy with our work. How would you advise a visitor to get the best out of the gardens? First, they should stand at the top and look down to see the overall view, and the symmetry below. Then they should go down and look at the detail. It is best to take your time and enjoy being in the gardens. They say that of all the chateaux in the Loire, people spend most time in the Château de Villandry gardens.

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6 Gardens/Green news

French Living I August 2018

High standards in height of summer

Jane Hanks selects four stunning Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts settings to enjoy during the long, lazy days of August


Also open this month

ardens are open every Saturday and two Sundays throughout France in August as part of the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts scheme, which encourages gardeners of all nationalities to open up their gardens to the public, and raise funds for charity. Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year or pay €5 for a day pass which allows access to any of the gardens on the day of purchase. There is also the Anniversary card, which costs €35 and gives access to privately owned gardens as well as a growing list of prestigious French gardens, which usually charge an entrance fee but are offering Open Garden members free entry with the card. President Mick Moat says he is thrilled that 40% of gardens this year are French owned, meaning it does not remain a purely British initiative. In 2018, Open Gardens aims to have 200 gardens in 33 departments. Last year they were able to hand over €23,500 to 11 French charities. www.opengardens.eu Jardin des Plantes Magiques, Yzeuressur-Creuse, Indre-et-Loire; Owners: Dominique and Marie-Odile Birault Dominique and Marie-Odile Birault do hardly any weeding or watering, a little planting, often with seeds they have collected and just a bit of tidying up. Most of their plants are perennials that grow in their region, so they thrive without any special care. They bought their house with its 3,000m² garden in 1991. It was already well established with a collection of trees which are now 50 years old. Among them are some rare species including one of their only exotic plants, an Algerian fir, which is in danger of dying out in its native Atlas Mountains. There is also a pond in the garden with water lilies and irises and three areas which are left completely natural. They have introduced flowers for colour in late summer and autumn such as asters and sedum as well as buckwheat, which is grown on farms locally, but which they plant for its flowers which continue on into October.

Green news 15% organic farmland plan by 2022 The French government has announced its plan to ensure 15% of farmable land is used for organic farming by 2022, as against 6.5% currently. However, its financing has raised doubts among some agricultural associations and unions. The Ambition Bio 2022 plan aims to develop organic production and consumption and to structure the industry, explained the Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Travert. It must also facilitate more research, the training of stakeholders and the adaptation of regulations, he said. For producers, the plan will make aid schemes to encourage farm conversion “more legible and visible”.

Dominique and MarieOdile Birault’s ‘careless garden’ in Indre-et-Loire. Inset, one of the statues gracing the Jardin des Oules in Gard Mr Birault says they have always gardened like this: “We have always had a good mix of trees and companion planting long before terms like permaculture were introduced. “We realise we are lucky because we have the luxury of space.” Above all they love being in their garden: “The greatest pleasure is to be able to observe what goes on. “In particular, we love watching the wildlife. “My wife goes out with her camera three times a day and she is always discovering new insects.” Mr Birault calls his garden Le jardin des plants magiques. “We found we were surrounded by magic plants which have had the same properties attributed to them since 3,500BC.” They also have a vegetable garden: “It is important to show the grandchildren where their food comes from. “The garden is good for us physically because it is healthy to work outside and intellectually because there is always something new to learn.” Open: August 4 and 5, 10-18.00

The garden is good because it is healthy to work outside and there is always something new to learn

Fish trap to combat mosquito nuisance A new eco-friendly way of combating mosquitos is being trialled in Le Cannet, near Cannes on the French Riviera...using fish in a ‘stagnant pond’ inside a plastic tub loaded with organic matter and mineral elements. The idea is to recreate an environment that mosquitoes love on balconies or in gardens, then to tempt them into a trap in which goldfish or mosquitofish lie in wait. When they fall in, the mosquitoes and then their larvae are swallowed by the fish. The scheme has the backing of the local council, which will offer installation tips but will not supply the required elements. “We want to put in place a collective battle strategy,” said Patrice Miran, head of the Cannet’s sustainable development and green space department. “The advantage of this fish trap is that it is inexpensive and does not require specialist skills.”

Le Bourg, Saint-Vitte-sur-Briance, Haute-Vienne; Owner: Lorraine Allsworth This is a relatively new garden which the owners started work on in 2016, but it has already won the Best Village Garden award for Saint-Vitte-sur-Briance. It is surprisingly well established but there are also plenty of annuals while the perennials and shrubs grow to full maturity. In August there will be colour from geraniums and nasturtiums and Lorraine Allsworth hopes her roses will still be in bloom, as they were in August last year. She said the garden is a real challenge because it is on a slope: “We have a flat part at the top so we have somewhere to sit and we are putting as many plants as possible on the slopes to cut down on mowing. “There are not many Open Gardens in our area, but we are not far from exit 42 on the N20 near Limoges, so would love people to pop in on our Open Day, and maybe combine it with another outing.” Open: August 19 11-18.00 Steel plant heat warms local buildings The town of Saint-Chély-d’Apcher, Lozère, has inaugurated an urban heating network using energy taken from a steel plant located in the commune, covering energy needs equivalent to 1,150 homes. The process relies on the recovery of what is called ‘fatal’ heat released in the cooling phase of steel made by the ArcelorMittal. The heat is then distributed to 55 connected buildings including shops, housing, public buildings, public housing offices and swimming pools. The €5.6 million project was led by Kyotherm Group, a specialist in financing operations in the field of renewable heat generation, and it can recover up to 4.8 megawatts of heat. Saint-Chély-d’Apcher Mayor Pierre Lafont is delighted with the project: “The connection of the plant and the recovery of its energy is a welcome opportunity.

Le Domaine, Route de Bannes, Epineux-le-Seguin, Mayenne; Owner: Edward Moss There are five acres of garden which have been created out of what was a wilderness of brambles and nettles 11 years ago. Owner Edward Moss says it is a place where French formality meets English eccentricity so that hiding behind clipped hedges are huge herbaceous borders. It is full of surprises, with holes cut in hedges to give new vistas, wild flower squares, a “spikey” gravel garden, a lake, a secret grass garden, and when you step into a 44m long, roofless stone barn you discover a new garden with a pond and what he calls a faux tropical area because the walls create a micro-climate. In August his “vulgar bed”, packed with dahlias will be in flower while behind the barn there is an area with asters and verbena. Open August 25 and 26 10-18.00 Le Jardin des Oules, Saint-Victor-des-Oules, Gard; Owner: Véronique Delvaux Classed a Jardin Remarquable this nine hectare, 19th-century garden has recently been renovated by its new owner after it had been neglected for 50 years. Véronique Delvaux calls it a garden of trees and has introduced around 150 more to the collection. Colour comes from plenty of flowering shrubs such as viburnums and hydrangeas. Contemporary outdoor sculptures are sited throughout the garden. There is also a 250-seat theatre and a maze planted with 1,200 olive trees, as well as lakes and a serpentine stream. Open: August 12 10.30-12.30, 15-18.30. This is a Partner Garden, so entrance is either with an Anniversary card, available via Open Gardens, or you can pay the normal entry fee of €5 for adults and €3.50 for children and the fees are then donated to Open Gardens. The benefits are there for all to see, says site manager Philippe Chapus. He explained: “In total, this project improves the carbon footprint of 17 GWh per year of consumption within the plant and avoids the release into the atmosphere of more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.” Keeping Reims free of fag ends A history student in Reims who spends several hours a week collecting up to 3,000 cigarette butts, is calling on fellow Remois to join in his effort. Florian Mauclair picks up cigarette butts discarded in front of office buildings, parks and green spaces the city’s Clairmarais district. His aim is to make smokers aware of the problem, especially from an environmental viewpoint. “It takes 12 years for a cigarette butt to disintegrate, and in the meantime, it pollutes,” he added.

Gardening 7

August 2018 I French Living

Boxing clever with low level pest

Grower’s digest Douche dehors A handy accessory for pool owners to consider is this Sunny Style portable shower, available in a range of colours including grey, fuchsia and sky blue. An 8-litre water tank located at the base of the shower heats the water in only two hours, thanks to the sun’s rays. Other features include adjustable shower head, a hot/cold water mixer in order to have the desired temperature and a pressure regulator with safety valve. €89 from www.jardideco.fr. Planning your potager If you have any ground space in your potager amid all the lettuce and tomatoes, late August or September is the time to sow cabbages for next spring. Garden centres such as Truffaut have countless varieties to choose from. Ask for, or look out for, ‘choux’.

Take a pew Bedding plants are not the only means of adding a splash of colour to your garden, especially as the French summer makes its transition to early autumn. Eschew the humdrum of plain wooden seating, and choose instead a coloured ‘banc de jardin’ such as this ‘Philadelphia’ model, which costs just €169 from www.planfor.fr.

As summer concludes, Cathy Thompson is battling pests and planning bulbs French garden diary


Social media app Instagram is a brilliant way to enjoy other people’s gardens in France, with everyone from chateau visitors to chambre d’hôtes owners posting seasonal snaps of their gardens (users can search using the hashtag #jardins). We will bring you our pick here every month. First up is this lovely snapshot of summer by user jack_delatour


ugust is my least favourite month in the garden. Every other month carries the hope of something better – even November, because we can be busy planting trees. But in August it is over, the end of the gardening year. Many gardeners call September the first month of a new season, since we can safely begin planting bulbs and herbaceous perennials in the knowledge that the damper months of autumn will look after them when they go into the ground. Looked at this way, the dog days of August become an inspiring time for preparation! For me, the most important bulbs to order are the tulips, because so many of the more special kinds will go out of stock quickly. But I have to continually refocus on the thought that tulips do not start rooting until November, whereas narcissus and crocus start to put new roots down right at the end of summer. If you leave too long before ordering something delightful like Narcissus ‘Jenny’ (a dainty white Cyclamineus daffodil, and possibly my favourite), or sweet little white ‘Thalia’ (in the Triandrus group) you will find it is too late – all the bulbs have been sold. BOXING CLEVER About four years ago a friend of mine refused to believe that all of the plants I put in the ground (in newly dug beds, previously grass) were being eaten by voles. Damage caused by Arvicola amphibius (European water vole) rises to epidemic proportions some years in France. Fruit growers are all too familiar with its ravages, since the voles love the

roots of young trees and shrubs and can kill them within days. When my friend began to create new borders himself, he realised I was not playing the victim. Unfortunately I had to lend him the low green trap and the poison to control the pest. There is no other way to do it (I have two very alert hunting cats), unless you plant everything in a wire basket. Now I have been confronted by the results of my own disbelief and denial. I discovered in late April this year that I have, indeed, got the Box Tree Caterpillar (Cydalima perspectalis) – this in a garden structured entirely with box. I will find a replacement, if necessary. Lonicera nitida is promising, but will need clipping far more often than the box. Unfortunately the Ilex crenata (very sweet, perfect) recommended by many is probably a no-go here, because (although I have planted and loved them), hollies are not fond of the very heavy soil here. Until recently my favourite box replacement was Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’. But – can you believe it! – Euonymus appears to be the only other food plant eaten by the wretched caterpillar as it leaves a swathe of destruction down through France. So my money is on the Lonicera but another contender is yew – when I was plagued by Box Blight a few years back I started a yew hedge to test its replacement potential. It is doing well, and very attractive, but I find it doubtful that it could be clipped as low as the height of traditional box parterre. I have not given up yet. I clipped every single box in the garden, removing all the April growth that the caterpillars

were feeding on. That material was burned. Then I applied a spray of XenTari. The results seem quite good and, in spite of the fact that the caterpillars are said to have no predators because of the toxins in their bodies that make them ill-tasting, I have noticed flocks of sparrows descending on my hedges since clipping. XenTari poses no threat to other life forms apart from those caterpillars. Probably the addition of pheromone traps (BUXatrap, from Bayer, for example) would help me to see if any remaining caterpillars had managed to create cocoons and metamorphise into moths. The pheromone traps will attract and capture the male moths at precisely the time when the new generation of eggs is being laid by females. This month, the second worst month in the year for the damage (after April/ May), I will see if my steps have yielded results. Fingers crossed – otherwise we are facing a ‘box-less’ France. MONTHLY TIPS Make sure you get out there from late July and check for those little blackstriped green caterpillars, with the black heads. They could be munching away right now – but it’s not too late if you take action quickly. OVER TO YOU Do send me your stories and ideas about battling the Box Tree Caterpillar. I refuse to believe that all is lost – although my arms want the clipping to be over! You can send me an email at: editorial@connexionfrance.com.

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Proud to support Open gardens/Jardins ouverts

8 The big interview You may recognise him from topical shows such as Les Terriens du Dimanche on C8, but what makes satirist Tanguy Pastureau laugh? Jane Hanks finds out


ho said the French don’t do political humour? Tanguy Pastureau shows that – with his quick wit and ability to turn the news of the day into a text which is, quite frankly, funny – yes, they do. He is known for his appearances on the C8 TV show Les Terriens du Dimanche, and for his daily radio slot at 12.10pm in the Bande Originale programme on France Inter. He has recently turned his talents to the theatre and his one man show Tanguy Pastureau n’est pas célèbre is at the Théâtre du Marais in Paris from September 19.

French Living I August 2018

François Hollande was funny, but he was rubbish

How would you describe your type of comedy? I have no idea, myself, what I am. I know I like taking the political or social news of the day and making something funny out of it by making comparisons, using metaphors and adding a bit of impertinence and a bit of the absurd. I want to have and use freedom of speech and freedom to laugh. Not only at politicians, who are always way behind the evolution of society, often by several centuries, but also at ourselves, and myself. The ecological disaster, which we talk about all the time while everyone continues to lead their lives as if nothing is happening, is exasperating, but at the same time, funny. The British tend to think we are the Kings of Satire, but has satire now found its place in French comedy? Satire is French. Molière and Montesquieu were both satirists. It has, then, not found its place in France, on the contrary it is at the heart of everything. It is a secular tradition, even the King’s jester made fun of the people at court, and so too of those in power. Comedians today have exactly the same role: they are the only ones who have the authority to poke fun at everyone without

Photos: Christophe Abramowitz; France Inter; C8 screenshot

How did you become a comedian? Quite by accident. In the early 2000s, I was working for France Bleu, Île-deFrance, the capital’s local radio station, actually on the streets of Paris. Every hour for three minutes, my job was to get the real Parisians to speak about themselves, their life, their town, live on air. But, after about a month or two, I started to have fun with them and get them to say any sort of nonsense, because I hate routine conversations, I am incapable of talking about what the weather is like, and I can’t even imagine being someone like (TV weather presenter) Evelyne Dhéliat. The radio station manager heard my reports and said that I was rubbish as a journalist but that maybe I had what it took to be a comedian. So, at their request I started to write sketches and crazy news reviews until I had quite a pile of them. By then I had got the bug and I thought there could be worse jobs in the world than working to make people laugh.

having to suffer eventual negative comebacks. When you think about it we have an amazing amount of freedom. What and who makes you laugh? What makes me laugh the most are the little everyday mishaps, someone who slips in the street, the dogs who start mating under the shocked eyes of their elderly lady owners who have forgotten that Fifi the poodle remains, despite his perfect grooming, an animal with natural urges. All these little slip-ups which kill the artificial perfection we try to role play every day. Then to talk of professional comedians, I like the use Pierre Desproges (a comedian reputed for off-beat black humour and anti-conformism) made of the French language, and the absurd humour of Monty Python, who are the unsurpassed masters of comedy. In contrast, I hate

In comedy, you should address everyone. It makes no sense if even humour is exclusive

divisive humour, minorities who make jokes about minorities against minorities. In comedy, you should address everyone. It makes no sense if even humour is exclusive. Do you think that satire is important in a democracy, so that politicians do not take themselves too seriously? Of course – but the politicians, in spite of our jokes, continue to take themselves seriously, because the Fifth Republic, which is a constitutional monarchy in disguise, wants that. President Macron lives at the Elysée, a palace with a room for every day of the year with more gold than Puff Daddy’s or Melania Trump’s bathrooms. Inevitably, as soon as he steps into the palace, he lives an enhanced life of his own. When he thinks of himself he is on the verge of caressing himself. We can

make as many jokes as we like but he, from the top of his ivory tower, will never hear them. Just like the Kings who never heard the satirical songs of the people singing about them just before a revolution. Should we all laugh more often in our daily lives? Not necessarily. I am against the idea that laughter is always necessary and that there should be comedy everywhere. François Hollande was funny, but he was rubbish. I think it is a good thing that there are people who are serious by nature and who don’t want to spend their life laughing. However, the more people want to laugh, the more they will come and see me on stage, and the more money I will make – so you understand, I am rather divided on the question.

Trending 9

August 2018 I French Living

Photo: Slow Food en France

Less speed, more taste behind Slow Food trend

Every edition we assess an aspect of the French zeitgeist. This month: the movement for values in food sourcing, by Jane Hanks


T How does it make you feel, when you make people laugh? The satisfaction of a job well done and the feeling that I have taken people out of their daily lives, just by talking, and by distorting things a little. And the pleasure in seeing that my world can please other people and not just me. How do you work? Is it easy for you to write, or does it take you time to find the right words? I work alone, in my office at home, and in light of the amount of work I have – radio, television, theatre, and I also have a project to be a fire-eater on the pier at La Rochelle this summer – I cannot allow myself to vegetate for hours in front of my paper. So I work fast, by instinct, taking what is in my brain at that moment, and I improve it afterwards with a change here and there. Usually, it is pretty fast. I like the punk side of things, not overworked, which leaves space for a slip. Is 2018 a good year for subjects for comedians? Yes, because all the different media on the internet means that everyday you can find ridiculous controversy, unthinkable goofs and bizarre news stories. There has never been so much material to draw on, even just the choice itself is vertiginous. Thirty years ago, comedians had to go to the newspaper stand every day, excitedly buying the newspaper they hoped would give them a good idea for their anecdotes, knowing that some days, there would be nothing. It must have been much more difficult. Today, it is easy to be a comedian.

Is Macron a good subject? An excellent subject. His win culture, his desire to get ahead, like a trader on steroids, the fact that he wants to save the planet while making us head into a free market with fewer and fewer controls which will drain all our resources, his total lack of dialogue, because he thinks he is always right… Everything about him is funny. Over the top, so funny. Do you prefer television, radio or stand-up? At the moment, I like being on stage, because it is new for me and so it is a challenge. I have done radio and television for several years now, so it has become routine. I’m not saying that every morning I go to work like a Chinese miner to his hole in the ground, but it is inevitably more exciting when something is new. The challenge is to continue to live from these media activities with the fresh amazement of a beginner, the keenness of the amateur – and not to behave like a professional who has succeeded. Are you happy in your work? Yes, to the extent that it allows me to live by my writing, my imagination and the world we create when we are children and then do not make the most of later. To be a comedian is to never grow up. That is to say that the child within you is always there, and it is good to be like that. You can be Peter Pan, without having to put on green tights, which cling to your buttocks. And when you don’t do any sport, that’s fatal.

Tanguy Pastureau started out as a roving news reporter on a Paris local radio station – but bosses quickly noticed his comic ability. Since then he has carved out a successful career mocking the political elite on TV (Les Terriens du Dimanche, above) and radio. He is now making his first foray into theatre work

he Slow Food Movement is not just about taking time to enjoy your meal, something the French are already very good at. It is also about eating the kind of food that has been reared, produced and cooked with care and making sure old varieties and breeds are appreciated and supported so that we continue to have a wide range of foods to choose from. In France this anti- Fast Food movement is growing in popularity. This year, Slow Food France has published its first guide book listing 100 French Slow Foods and where and how to buy and taste them: Le Grand Guide Slow Food Des Produits du Terroir Français. It includes the Chou de Lorient, a type of cabbage that used to be grown in quantity in the Pays de Lorient, Morbihan and was sent to markets all over France, but as the developing town of Lorient took over agricultural land, and more modern forms of cabbage were introduced, its production declined until now there are only a handful of market gardeners who grow it. Then there is the Brebis Brigasque, a hardy sheep from the Alpes-Maritimes whose numbers are dwindling but which produces rich and plentiful milk, still used in a tasty cheese, La Tome de la Brigue. Slow Food is also forming a national association in 2018 to support the existing 30 groups spread around the country. The movement began in Italy in the 1980s when a journalist, Carlo Petrini, headed a group of gourmet activists who wanted to defend regional traditions, healthy and pleasurable eating and a slow rhythm to life. Today it is a worldwide movement present in 160 countries. It took some time to get established in France, perhaps because there has always been a tradition of taking time to eat, but spokesman, Vincent Lagré says the phrase ‘Slow Food’ is now better known, and people are beginning to understand that it is not just about eating and cooking slowly: “Our motto includes three words; good, clean and fair. Good means that what we eat should be quality and flavoursome food. Clean means that its production does not harm the environment and fair means there should be accessible prices

for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers. “In France there has already been a growing movement towards these values with a big increase in organic shops, farmer’s markets and other ‘buying local’ initiatives, but the Slow Food movement includes other important elements. For example, we are also fighting to uphold biodiversity in what we eat so that means preserving a wide range of varieties of fruits and vegetables and making sure rare breeds of animals do not die out. “We also want to make sure that Slow Food is accessible to as many people as possible and not just an elite who can afford to pay more. In Slow Food terminology, each group is called a convivium, where the members organise shared meals and tastings, visits to local producers, conferences, festivals and other events. Internationally, there is an Ark of Taste which is a catalogue which describes and publicises forgotten foods from all over the world, so that rare breeds and varieties can be saved. There are 292 entries for France including the Breton Pie Noir Cow, and the Vitteaux Prune.

We also want to make sure that Slow Food is accessible to as many people as possible and not just an elite

There is also a growing list of chefs who have joined the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance with 48 restaurants which support small and local producers and products from the Ark of Taste. Next month you can go to one of the events they support, the Fête de la Vache Nantaise at Le Dresny, Loire-Atlantique September 7, 8 and 9 where you can see rare breeds, including the Vache Nantaise, which is a Brittany cow and special guest of honour, this year, the Basque Pie Noir pig. www.vachenantaise.com; slowfood.fr

10 August What’s on

French Living I August 2018

Give your Celtic side free rein Interceltic Festival, Lorient August 3–12

Photos: mat’s eye / CC BY 2.0crtb /Yannick Coeffé

The Connexion is proud to be a media partner of the 48th edition of the hugely popular event in Brittany, which is expected to attract some 750,000 people from all corners of the world to Lorient, as the cream of Celtic music – from Galicia to Scotland – descends on the coastal Morbihan town. This year, talents from Wales are at the centre of proceedings, with the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Delyth Jenkins, NoGood Boyo, Ofelia, and Yr Hwntws performing in the Pavillon d’honneur. www.festival-interceltique.bzh

More August events

MiMa – Puppet Art Festival, Mirepoix, Ariège, August 2–5 The 30th MiMa International Festival of Puppet Art, in the medieval town of Mirepoix, will feature more than 100 shows, performed by artists from all corners of France and beyond. Featuring performances, installations, concerts, workshops, and a creative market. www.mima.artsdelamarionnette.com Festival du bout du Monde, Crozon, Brittany, August 3–5 Billed by organisers as a cultural and musical pic‘n’mix, every August for the last ten years, the Festival du Bout du Monde takes place in the Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique. With stunning views of the Breton coastline for a backdrop and in the shade of pretty little houses scattered amongst the grasslands of Landrévarzec, this is a must for lovers of world music. Artists including Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and The Inspector Cluzo are lined-up to feature. www.festivalduboutdumonde.com

Corso de la Lavande, Dignes les Bains, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, August 3–7 If lavender’s your thing, the five-day Corso de la Lavande, which first took place in Dignes les Bains in 1929, is for you. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors head to the southeastern town for firework displays, concerts, a funfair and an international parade – as the heady aroma of lavender fills the air. www.dignelesbains-tourisme.com Gay Games, Paris, August 4–12 The 10th quadrennial Gay Games is the world’s largest open-to-all sporting and cultural festival in the world. Some 15,000 participants from 70 countries will take part in 36 sporting events that are open to as wide a public as possible, regardless of age, religion, sexual orientation, health or level of sporting achievement. Disciplines include diving, swimming, running, badminton, beach volley, boxing, cycling, figure skating, golf, roller skating, squash, tennis and triathlon. www.paris2018.com Festival de Montoire, Loir-et-Cher, August 9–15 Every year since 1973, 300 amateur artists from five continents have headed to Montoire-sur-le-Loir to introduce dances, songs and traditional world music to a loyal audience. There are shows every night under a canvas palace, as well as exhibitions, conferences, courses and discovery sessions, traditional meals with music, crafts, street activities and radio programmes open to the public. www.festival-montoire.com Feria de Dax, Landes, August 11–15 This is one of the biggest festivals in the South West when thousands of people come to the town to party. Bull fighting at the Andalusian-style bullring is central but there are also processions, music, dancing, feasting and sport. Feria.dax.fr

Darc Festival, Châteauroux, Indre, August 12–24 The self-proclaimed ‘biggest dance workshop in Europe’ combines concerts with dance workshops run by internationally famous professionals. Trainees learn or perfect their technique in Modern Jazz, Classic Dance, Argentine Tango, Hip Hop, Salsa, Tap Dance, Singing, Musical Comedy, Contemporary Dance, Flamenco – and even Sports Dance. At the end of the festival, trainees take part in a big show. www.danses-darc.com Mirabelle Plum Festival, Metz, August 18–26 For nine days, Metz, in the heart of historic Lorraine, celebrates one of its great agricultural success stories – the sweet, jewel-like Mirabelle plum. The nine-day festival features concerts, dances, a funfair, and fireworks – while regional products and crafts are on sale at a large market, which also features leading pâtissiers and chocolatiers. metz.fr/pages/culture/evenements_culturels/fetes_mirabelle.php Street Theatre Festival, Aurillac, Cantal, August 22–25 Every year, in the third week of August, the Cantal city morphs into the international capital of street theatre, with about 400 troupes from all over the world taking part in hundreds of outdoor shows, in front of 100,000 visitors. www.aurillac.net St Louis Festival, Sète, Hérault, August 23–28 The festival, honouring the patron saint of the Hérault port town celebrates the creation of its port in 1666. On that day, the town held its first ever joust – and the tradition has continued ever since, with tournaments taking place every day along the royal canal, while street shows and events in quayside bars will keep visitors entertained. www.tourisme-sete.com/fetes-de-la-saintlouis-sete.html

Le Cabaret Vert, Charleville-Mézières, Ardennes, August 23–26 Under normal circumstances, few would expect to see Seasick Steve, Travis Scott, Curtis Harding and Derrick Carter on the same bill – even at a music festival. But La Cabaret Vert is no ordinary music festival. Since it was founded in 2005, it has been recognised for its surprising and varied line-up – and 2018 is no different. Cabaretvert.com Grand Pruneau Show, Agen, Lot-et-Garonne, August 24–26 Anything Metz can do with Mirabelles, Agen can do with prunes... Since 2005, the prune capital of France, Agen, has held the Big Prune Show, a free culture and gastronomy festival. For three days, just as the schools’ summer grands vacances draw to a close, the city celebrates its emblematic fruit. On the programme: tasting of the first prunes of the year, a gourmet market with regional products, concerts, street performances and sports activities. www.grandpruneaushow.fr Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, ChamonixMont-Blanc, Haute-Savoie, August 27–September 2 Not for the faint-hearted, this is a 170km trail race in which competitors face a cumulative change in altitude of 10,000m, and take in the Grand Col Ferret, at 2,500m above sea level. Expect to see a number of elite ultra-athletes – including France’s world number one Caroline Chaverot – in action. http://utmbmontblanc.com/en American Film Festival, Deauville, Calvados, August 31–September 9 This celebration of American cinema, in all its guises – from mainstream Hollywood blockbusters to independent movies – has taken place every year since 1975. Award-winning French actress Sandrine Kiberlain will be the president of the jury this year, organisers have announced. www.festival-deauville.com

The Connexion works with local tourist offices for the information on this page. Due to possible last-minute changes to programmes and event timing we recommend that you always check with individual organisers before making a trip.

What’s on/Culture 11

The impact of pencil and stencil A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life

The exhibition brings together over a hundred masterpieces born on the banks of the Thames, in the misty and industrial atmosphere of Victorian London. Among those featured are future impressionists Pissarro, Monet (Houses of Parliament, pictured above), Sisley) who struggled to convince the English public of their merits at the time.

Photos: stephane / CC BY 2.0

Photos: Elen Nivrae / CC BY 2.0

Rock en Seine, Saint-Cloud, Paris, August 24–26 The music festival that does exactly what it says on the tin – in the heart of the historic gardens at Domaine National de Saint-Cloud designed by landscape architect and the principal gardener of King Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre... The format has been much the same since the three-day festival was founded in 2003 – it has just got bigger. This year, across six stages, it will feature more than 70 performances by a range of rock bands, including – among others – 30 Seconds to Mars, Liam Gallagher, Idles, Macklemore, The Black Angels, Mike Shinoda of Linkin’ Park fame, Black Star, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. www.rockenseine.com

Caraïbos Lacanau Pro, Lacanau, Gironde, August 11–19 The best European and international surfers compete on, hopefully, dramatic waves off the central beach in Lacanau as one of the oldest events on the international surfing calendar returns for its 39th annual outing. The competition starts with the juniors

before making way for the professional surfers – who compete in the French stage of the qualifying circuit of the World Surf League. As well as the surfing, landlubbers can enjoy concerts and film screenings, skimboard initiations, a surf simulator, freestyle skate and scooter shows, group yoga and fitness classes. lacanaupro.com

2. The French still flock to the flicks Despite the impact on viewing habits of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, the French still love going out to the movies. The proof? The most visited cinema in the world is French, according to new research by comScore. In 2017, reported newspaper Journal du Dimanche, 3.2 million people went to see a film at the UGC multiplex, Ciné Cité Les Halles, in Paris. 492 films were watched by spectators of 85 different nationalities during 70,000 screenings. Onscreen too, these are halcyon days for French films. The country lies second only to the USA for global film exports – 80.5million people saw a French film in foreign cinemas in 2017. Among the major successes were director Luc Besson’s Valerian which, despite flopping in the west, sold 10million tickets in China alone. 3. Flamingo film backfires A French director shooting a film that ‘speaks about the protection of birds’, is said to have caused the abandonment of more than 500 pink flamingo eggs. Some animals, resident in the AiguesMortes salt flats of the Camargue, fled in panic upon hearing low-level flying as the film’s crew did aerial shots, said France Nature Environnement.

4. Banksy smells a rat Camera-shy wall tamperer Banksy went on a Parisian street art spree in late June, when more than half a dozen of his satirical works appeared at various locations. Among the (purportedly Bristol-born) artist’s subjects were the refugee crisis and the 1968 student revolt, which he referred to on his Instagram account: “Fifty years since the uprising in Paris 1968. The birthplace of modern stencil art”. In Montmartre, a rat being fired from a champagne bottle may refer to more than just class struggles, given the capital’s ongoing problem with rodents. Photo: Instagram/banksy


Vanier has said he will try to “repair what can be repaired”, offering to sponsor a population of pink flamingos and promising to be “the spokesman for the problems affecting migratory birds”. Shooting on Give me Wings, about a scientist’s passion for wild geese, continues. It is set for release in October 2019.

4 5. A thirst for wine themed comic books The French love wine. The French love comic books. So it is no surprise that fans of both enjoy a story that puts the booze into bande dessinée. Following the success of Japanese manga series Drops of God, which namechecked French producers and triggered huge sales (in 2009 Decanter hailed the book, written by sister and brother Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, as “arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years”, today, among the popular French reads are Mimi, Fifi & Glouglou, Les Ignorants and A Great Forgotten Burgundy. The latter, a tale of three vigneron brothers in the Mâconnais, has added authenticity – author Emmanuel Guillot is himself an organic winemaker.


Photo: Un Grand Bourgogne Oublié, Grand Angle; Drawing by Boris Guilloteau (Dessinateur)

1. An impression of London The combined turmoil of the FrancoGerman war of 1870, the fall of the Second Empire, then the Paris Commune convinced many French artists to take refuge in the UK. Until October 14, their time and work there is showcased at a Petit Palais exhibition co-organised with Tate Britain. Photo: Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection

Photos: freschwill / CC BY 2.0

August 2018 I French Living

12 Recipes

French Living

Melt into chocolate scien A delicious new encyclopedia, edited by world-renowned chef pâtissier Frédéric Bau, takes some of the mystery out of the dark stuff


t first sight, there is no difference between one bittersweet chocolate with 80% cocoa content and another bittersweet chocolate with the same cocoa content. Yet, there can be a world of difference. From one make to another, from one origin to another, from one manufacturing process to another, the aspect, aromas, texture, and melting quality vary radically. Where do these differences stem from? The terroir The concept of terroir in chocolate-making was unknown until the early 1990s. Chocolate comes from the cocoa pod, the fruit of the cocoa tree. Like all agricultural crops the beans are influenced by factors that together make up what we call terroir: origin, choice of varieties, environment, and expertise. There are three main varieties of cocoa trees – Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario and each produces cocoa with different characteristics. Forastero, for example, is more bitter and astringent, while Criollo is mellower, with notes of berries, nuts, and honey. These subtle differences underpin the construction of the taste of chocolate. In addition to the variety, environment is an important factor. Sunlight influences the polyphenol content, and rain plays a role in fermentation. And the work of the farmers can modify the aromas of the product. When the pods are cleaved open, and during the processes of fermentation and drying, the slightest bit of inattention might well produce an unwanted aroma, such as a taste of mould or smoke, or excess acidity. These factors, which vary from one plantation to another and from one year to another, influence the final aroma. Yet they are not enough to guarantee the quality of a chocolate. Just like a wine producer who makes optimal use of his terroir to imprint his signature on his wine, a master chocolatier who knows how to get the most out of his plantations will leave his mark on a good chocolate.

Terroirs and aromas Unlike wine, it is difficult to link a terroir to a chocolate taste, because varieties of cocoa are less distinct than those of vines. In the plantations, farmers have cultivated their own mixtures. In addition, research on cocoa plants has concentrated on increasing yields and combating disease rather than on defining aromatic profiles. But artisans and chocolate lovers have been increasingly emphasising the links between terroir and taste. Perhaps it will develop to the point where appellations of origin will be established.

Artisans and chocolate lovers are increasingly emphasising the links between terroir and taste

Creativity The creation of a chocolate involves working to a recipe. Labels on mass-produced bars give the impression it is all very simple: a minimum cocoa percentage, indicating the presence of cocoa paste and cocoa butter; sugar, a little soy lecithin, natural extract of vanilla—and nothing else. The adjectives to describe chocolate – intense, elegant, sleek, subtle, sublime – rarely give any indications of the provenance and the quality of the cocoas used. For good reason: all the information is based on the percentages of cocoa and sugar. Although they do not talk about it, industrial chocolate producers must ensure that the aromas of a 60%, 70%, or 80% cocoa chocolate are always

uniform. To do so, they must determine a mixture of beans with identical or equivalent aromas. Master chocolate makers are like cellar masters who have to guarantee the stability of a blend, in the same way the assembly of a single malt and single grains ensures a whisky remains identical over time. Certain artisan chocolatiers and a few industrial producers, such as Valrhona and, more recently, Nespresso, go further, showcasing the characteristics of each terroir by defining an aromatic profile of the chocolate. They seek to establish a typical taste when they work on the composition. ‘Grand cru’ In 1987, Valrhona was the first to launch a grand cru chocolate, created entirely from Caribbean Criollo cocoas. In 1998, Valrhona went even further when it developed the first single-origin domain chocolate: Gran Couva 60% from Trinidad. Blended grands crus combine cocoas of various plantations in various producing countries; terroir grands crus comprise cocoas from a single producing country, and single-origin chocolate comes from a single plantation. The mouth-feel of a 70% Andoa bittersweet (a blend of grands crus) is completely different from that of a 68% Nyangbo (a single-origin grand cru), not in terms of intensity, but in terms of aroma, texture, and “colour.” The first has a little bitterness, with notes of citrus fruits and roasted coffee, while the second is more “chocolatey,” with notes of mild spices and roasted nuts. The work of master chocolatiers involves finding what proportion of chocolate and sugar, and which cocoa associated with another, will give the best result. Today, there are two trends in the chocolate industry: those who favour a return-to-childhood chocolate, and those who seek out authenticity, the raw nature of the original cocoa, and who are happy to bring out the bitterness of the beans in the final product. Between these extremes, an infinite number of combinations is possible.

Chocolate Soufflé

serves 6 Equipment 1 pastry brush 6 individual soufflé moulds or ramekins

Extracted from Encyclopedia of Chocolate by Frédéric Bau and École du Grand Chocolat Valrhona (Flammarion 2018, £24.95). McLachlan 2018.

FACT-BUSTING COCOA: TRUE OR FALSE? Quality depends on the cocoa percentage False. The percentage indicates the proportion of cocoa (paste and butter), but gives no indication of the country of origin, the quality of the cocoa, or the expertise of the chocolate maker. Higher cocoa percentage means a more bitter chocolate False. When 70% cocoa is shown on the label of a bar, the remaining percentage indicates the sugar. One might think the more cocoa, the less sugar. But some beans produce a mellower, sweeter chocolate. Some 80%

cocoa chocolates are inedible, while some 85% cocoa chocolates are powerful and aromatic without being bitter. Cocoa butter is added to chocolate True. The cocoa butter added at the end of the process forms a film of lipids that gives chocolate its unctuousness and facilitates the work of artisan chocolate makers. On average, about 10% cocoa butter is added to the chocolate paste, but the overall proportion of cocoa butter is higher as it is already present in the chocolate paste.

White chocolate contains no chocolate paste True. To make white chocolate, only cocoa butter, sugar, and powdered milk are required. These components explain the absence of a chocolate colour and the sweetness of white chocolate, which contains only 20 to 30% cocoa butter in addition to 55% sugar. Couverture chocolate is good-quality chocolate True and false. It is the basis for all the chocolates bought by professionals. It is called couverture (from the

French verb couvrir, to cover) because it is used to coat chocolate bonbons and to make moulds. There is only one difference, and that is in its presentation form: couverture chocolate may be sold in large chips or buttons, or in bars. A chocolate that has whitened should be thrown out False. Whitening, or streaking, is a change in appearance that has little influence on the taste. It is caused by inappropriate storage or inadequate tempering, but is not toxic. Chocolate that has whitened is perfectly edible.

Ingredients A little butter, melted, to grease the soufflé moulds A little sugar to sprinkle over the greased moulds 5 ½ oz/150g bittersweet chocolate, 70% cocoa 4 eggs, separated 3 ½ oz/100g sugar 1 heaped teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder 1 heaped teaspoon cornstarch 200ml whipping cream

Method 1. Using a pastry brush, butter the moulds lightly. The sugar. Turning upside down to remove any excess. S 2. Chop the chocolate and melt it slowly in a bain-mar (on “defrost” or at 500W max, stirring from time to 3. Slowly whisk the egg whites, gradually adding sugar 4. Sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch together. Pour and add the sifted ingredients. Bring to the boil, stir to thicken, remove from heat and slowly pour one-th 5. Using a flexible spatula, mix it in energetically, draw elastic, shiny ‘kernel’. Repeat twice more with the re 6. Add the egg yolks, whisking energetically until the t Carefully fold in one-third of the whisked egg white consistency has been ‘lightened’, carefully fold in the 7. Fill the moulds to the top, cleaning the rim so that t and so the soufflés can rise straight up. Chill until th 8. About 30 minutes before serving, preheat oven to 42 9. Remove the soufflés from the refrigerator and bake risen with a nicely done crust. Serve immediately.

In season 13

I August 2018


serves 6 - 8

Photos: Clay McLachlan 2018

en sprinkle them all over with Set aside in the refrigerator. rie or in the microwave oven o time). r until they form soft peaks. r the cold cream into a pan rring constantly. When it starts hird over the melted chocolate. wing small circles to create an est of the cream. texture is smooth and shiny. es with a spatula. When the e remaining egg whites. the batter does not stick to it hey are to be baked. 25°F (210°C-220°C). for 10 to 12 minutes, until well

Extraordinarily Chocolate Tart Equipment 1 tart mould 1 kitchen thermometer 2 sheets food-safe acetate or parchment paper 1 pastry brush Ingredients Almond shortcrust pastry: 4 oz/120g butter, room temperature ½ teaspoon (2g) salt 3¼ oz/90g confectioners’ sugar ½oz/15g ground blanched almonds 1 egg Self-raising flour, divided: (2 oz/60 g) plus (6 oz/180 g) Bittersweet chocolate ganache: 12oz/350g bittersweet chocolate, 70% cocoa 250 ml/250g whipping cream 15ml acacia honey 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1¾ oz/50g) butter, diced A little melted chocolate to brush the tart shell Method 1. Prepare the almond shortcrust pastry. Soften the butter and combine with the salt, confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds, egg, and 2 oz/60 g cake flour. As soon as the ingredients are mixed, add the remaining flour, and mix quickly, until just combined 2. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3 mm between two sheets of acetate or parchment paper. Place it, flat, in the freezer for 30 minutes 3. When the dough has hardened, peel off the sheets and cut to the desired shape. Line your tart mould or pan with the dough and return it to the refrigerator for 30 minutes so it retains its shape during baking, then preheat the oven to 300°F-325°F (150°C-160°C) and bake for about 15 minutes, until it turns golden. Leave to cool 4. Prepare the chocolate ganache. Chop the chocolate and melt it slowly in a bain-marie or in the microwave (on “defrost” or 500W max, stirring occasionally). 5. Bring the cream to the boil with the honey. 6. Gradually pour one-third of the cream over the melted chocolate. Using a flexible spatula, mix energetically, drawing small circles to create an elastic, shiny ‘kernel’. Repeat this step twice more with the rest of the cream. 7. When the temperature cools to 95°F-104°F (35°C-40°C), stir in the diced butter. Process for a few seconds using an immersion blender so that the mixture is smooth. 8. Brush a fine layer of melted chocolate over the cooled tart shell to seal. As soon as it hardens, pour in the ganache and chill for two hours. Serve at room temperature.

Images: Fotolia

En saison: What to put on your plate in August Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality... French seasonal basket Fruit Blackcurrant, strawberry, cherry, mirabelle plum, currant, melon, blackberry, blueberry, nectarine, peach, pear, apple, plum, damson, apricot, fig. Focus on: peaches

Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Loaf serves 6 - 8

Equipment 1 loaf tin (8 cm×30cm×8cm) 2 piping bags Ingredients Vanilla batter: 8 egg yolks 8oz/220g granulated sugar 120 ml whipping cream 1 vanilla bean 3 g baking powder 2 ⅓ oz/65 g butter, melted and cooled 1 cup plus generous ¾ cup (5 ¾ oz/165 g) self-raising flour Chocolate batter: 2½oz/70 g bittersweet chocolate, 70% cocoa 4 egg yolks 4 ¼ oz/120 g sugar 70 ml whipping cream 2 ¾oz/80 g cake flour 5g unsweetened cocoa powder 2g baking powder 20 g grape-seed oil Method 1. Prepare the vanilla batter. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks with the sugar. Add the cream. Slit the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds into the mixture. Sift in the flour and baking powder and incorporate them into the batter, then stir in the melted butter. Set aside. 2. Prepare the chocolate batter. Chop the chocolate and melt slowly in a bain-marie or in the microwave oven (see above). 3. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks with the sugar, then stir in the cream. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together into the mixture and stir in. Then stir in the melted chocolate and grape-seed oil until just blended. 4 Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line the loaf pan with parchment paper. For an attractive marbled pattern, pipe out one-third of the vanilla batter over the bottom of the pan. Then pipe out half of the chocolate batter lengthways through the centre. Cover this with one-third of the vanilla batter and pipe the remaining half of the chocolate batter lengthways through the centre. Cover it with the remaining vanilla batter. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the tip of a knife comes out clean. 5. Turn the cake out onto a cake rack and leave it for about 10 minutes on its side so that it retains its shape.

cucumber, courgette, watercress, spinach, fennel, green bean, lentil, corn, onion, peas, leek, bell pepper, potato, pumpkin, radish, tomato, lettuce.

Focus on: cucumber The cucumber is a fruit vegetable of the Cucurbitaceae family. It has been cultivated in China for 7,000 years and in Egypt for 4,000 years. Jean de La Quintinie, gardener of the Versailles vegetable garden under Louis XIV, cultivated it under shelter and made it lose its original bitterness. It is one of the most consumed vegetables in summer for its freshness and ease of use: raw, grated, in balls, in salads, cooked and even in cocktails. Recipe idea: A detox cucumber cocktail. Crush cucumber pieces in crushed ice with a pestle. If necessary, put them in a blender then add fresh lemon juice and cranberry juice, and serve.

There are about 300 varieties of peaches available in France. Between early and late varieties, the picking season extends from June to September. The white peach is delicate and fragrant while the yellow peach is more robust and slightly larger. The flesh of the pavie peach tends to cling to the stone, so this variety tends to be used for preserves in syrup. The vine peach is a late grower and has reddish skin and sanguine flesh. The peach has been known in China for 500 years and arrived in France between the 15th and 16th centuries. Under Louis XIV, who loved it, it was first cultivated in Ile-de-France before being concentrated in the South of France where the climate is more favourable.

Recipe idea: Peach salad with star anise and basil. Infuse a star anise and sugar in 20cl of boiling water for 15 minutes. Then sprinkle the fruit, cut into pieces, into this syrup, add finely chopped basil and mix. Put in the fridge for several hours and serve. Vegetables Garlic, artichoke, aubergine, beets, chard, broccoli, carrot, celery, cauliflower,

Fish, shellfish and crustaceans Anchovies, sea bream, haddock, herring, hake, pollock, mackerel, red mullet, sardines, pouting, albacore or white tuna. Crab, langoustine, mussels.

Sardines are fresh and abundant from June to September. In France, they are found in the Bay of Biscay, in northern Brittany and in the coastal waters of the Gironde and Loire rivers. This fish is from the same family as anchovy, sprat and herring and takes its name from Sardinia where it was abundant. It is a migratory fish that lives in schools and must be eaten as soon as possible after purchase, it must have a shiny appearance, without trace of blood.

For a seasonal cheese, see page 15

14 Food

French Living I August 2018

Right now, France is at peak tomato... Photos: Tomates de France

Despite yields of up to 20kg per plant, there is a surprisingly healthy truth about France’s supermarket tomatoes, as Jane Hanks discovers


omatoes are France’s favourite vegetable – or fruit, to be biologically accurate – with each household eating an average of more than 14 kilogrammes of them every year. France is the fifth largest producer in Europe, with one-third of all the country’s tomatoes hailing from Brittany, followed by 21% in PACA and 15% from Pays de la Loire. Right now, tomatoes are at their peak – and delicious in all forms. One of the joys of living in France is being able to grow wonderful tomatoes in your garden which taste fantastic. Commercial tomatoes on offer in supermarkets, however, are grown hydroponically in greenhouses. This sounds frighteningly industrial, but the biggest collective of producers – Tomates de France – who are responsible for more than a third of the country’s 602,000 tonnes of tomatoes grown every year is keen to tell the world their tomatoes are healthy to eat, use almost no pesticides, few fertilisers and do not waste water.

Statistics give the impression of intensive farming. A single plant can produce an average of 20 kilos in a season stretching from February to the end of October

Every May, they open their doors to the public. In 2018, they welcomed more than 2,500 visitors in four days, keen to see where their favourite vegetable/fruit comes from. Tomates de France is made up of 1,000 producers and 90% of their tomatoes are grown in greenhouses using a hydroponic system with a soil replacement which can be either coconut matting, peat, volcanic rock or mineral rockwool. Their tomato statistics certainly give the impression of intensive farming. A single plant can produce an average of 20 kilos in a season stretching from February to

the end of October, nothing like a traditional tomato plant in a potager. In the greenhouses they grow like a creeper on a seemingly ever ending stem which is wound down 45cm every couple of weeks to make the new crop accessible to the pickers at waist height.

The tomato grower

Nathalie Binda works on the family farm at Andiran, Lot-et-Garonne, is part of Tomates de France, and has been growing tomatoes for the past 32 years. She is proud of her crop and passionate about their cultivation. She grows three varieties on seven hectares and employs eight people per hectare at the busiest times of the year: “We receive the tiny tomato plants in the last two weeks of November. They are planted on mineral rockwool where the main element is basalt. This has to be changed every year, but we plough it into our arable fields where it acts like a compost and so nothing is wasted. “In February, the plants begin to produce fruit, and the picking begins. They will produce until the end of October. It is labour intensive as everything is done by hand, the picking as well as the pruning, where side shoots are cut out to preserve the strength of the main stem.” Tomatoes need a great deal of water. In 1985, 30 litres of water was needed for every kilogramme of tomatoes produced. Now, Tomates de France says amounts have halved following the introduction of drip systems. Nutritional elements such as nitrates, phosphates and potassium are added to the water to feed the plants. And, Mrs Binda says, no water is wasted: “We operate a closed system, so the water is recycled and never goes into the water table. The amount of fertiliser is kept to a minimum with about 500g per plant for the whole of its life.” Pesticides are only used in emergencies. Instead insects are introduced like ladybirds and Encarsia formosa, a species of

In French commercial greenhouses tomatoes grow on a seemingly never-ending stem, which is wound down nearly half a metre every few weeks so that pickers can reach the fruit easily; inset: producer Nathalie Binda

micro-wasp which destroys the larvae of one of the greatest dangers to tomatoes under glass, the greenhouse whitefly. Bee hives are also placed in the serres to pollinate the flowers. The temperatures must be regulated to an average of 18°C which means ventilation in summer and heating in winter. The Binda family use a biomass boiler which produces electricity as a bi-product which they sell to EDF; and any CO2 waste is pumped into the greenhouses where it contributes to the photosynthesis of the plants. The farm is also proud that it no longer has any plastic tunnels, but only plants under glass.

Labour of love

“It is a labour of love,” said Mrs Binda. “We are proud of our production. We produce healthy tomatoes which are good for you. Whenever we have visitors they are amazed at how ecological our system is and how healthy our plants are.” But what about the taste? The two major varieties grown on her farm are red tomatoes sold on the vine and a round, red tomato, which she agrees are good, but not necessarily flavoursome: “They are what the supermarkets want. These varieties have a high yield so can be sold at a reasonable cost and they keep well. “This year, for the first time, we are producing a new tastier variety of cherry vine tomato for the fruit and veg supermarket Grand Frais, called Avalantino. However, its yield is only half that of our other tomatoes, so it will be more expensive in the shop. “I have done an experiment growing the delicious classic tomato, Coeur de Boeuf and found it produces the same taste whether grown in the soil or grown in our hors-sol system and so the taste comes with the variety, not with the growing method. But sadly, the more flavoursome varieties do not produce as much fruit and do not keep as well and so far that is not what sells best.”

Toms: a user’s guide

Tomates de France says, contrary to common practice, you should never put them in the fridge because they lose their flavour and texture if kept under 12°C. Tomatoes are divided into different families. First en grappes (on the vine), rondes (round) and charnues (fleshy) which are firm and the most versatile. They can be eaten in salads or cooked in tarts, sauces, soups, roasted or grilled. The smaller varieties are the cerises (cherry), which can be round or long and the cocktails, which are sold on the vine and the advice is to eat these raw or in tarts. They are described as juicy and crunchy. The increasingly popular old style varieties are the tender fleshed coeurs (hearts) côtelées (ribbed) and zébrées (striped) and should be eaten raw or in tarts. Finally the longer, oval shaped tomatoes are either cornues (horned), latines (Latin) or allongées (lying down). These have dense flesh and are not juicy which makes them good for sandwiches. They are also recommended for use in tarts, grilled or in soups. There are six principal factors which govern taste; first the variety, then light intensity during growth, amount of water and nutrition, degree of ripeness when picked and the length of time between picking and eating. Storage can also change taste so they are best kept away from the cold; we all know the best ones are the warm, sunkissed fruits picked straight from the garden.

Wine and Cheese 15


ineau des Charentes, an apéro produced in Charente and Charente-Maritime, is a ‘vin de liqueur’ made from Cognac weau-de-vie and grape juice (and sometimes grape must). It was traditionally made by Cognac producers just for their own consumption. “I don’t know why my great grandfather Henri Chainier decided to produce it for sale in 1933,” says Damien Fradon. “But he was one of the first to have that idea; we still make it today, and I’d say we are primarily known for our pineau.” Well known in the area, and strangely enough, in Belgium, pineau is less well-known in the rest of France. “The market for apéros is very crowded,” says Damien. “There’s a lot of competition and the sweeter drinks aren’t in fashion any more.” Pineau really is not that sweet when compared to Muscat, for example, but he says it doesn’t matter. People think of it as a sweet drink. The Fradon domaine in Réaux-surTrèfle, Charente-Maritime, is just 30kms outside the town of Cognac, and in line with everyone else, most of their vines, 75 hectares, produce Cognac. But over the years Fradon’s pineau has become so popular that a further 3,000 hectares of vineyards are dedicated solely to producing the grapes for pineau. The domaine has been in the same family for generations; the name changed in the 50s when Damien’s grandmother married and took the name Fradon. He and his wife Estelle still work with his parents Michel and Micheline. It takes a minimum of five years in oak barrels to mature pineau, and sometimes longer, but Damien says it is worth it to get the right flavour. Unsurprisingly, sales are up. It is possible to visit by appointment, and tour the vineyards, the cellars, the distillery, and of course, taste their wines. “We only speak French,” says Damien. “But we welcome visitors from all over the world!” They also have a shop on site where customers can buy wines. “People like to buy direct from the producers because it’s more authentic, they have a relationship with us, they know where the wine comes from and who made it,” says Damien. Fradon also has a stall in the Marché de Loix on the Ile-de-Ré every summer in July and August, where you can also taste and buy their wines.

Artisan cheese of the month: Boulette d’Avesnes Photo: www.fromagerie-grenoble.com

Meet the producers

Photos: Anne B / CC BY 2.0 | (inset) Nikki Britz /CC BY 2.0

Photo: Corinne Couette

August 2018 I French Living

This strong-flavoured, spicy cheese is made in the Thiérache region of Hauts-de-France and over the border in Aisne (Avesnes is a village in Pas-de-Calais), and is one of the most unique French cheeses due to both its provenance and unusual taste. It is created from buttermilk and unripened leftovers from AOC Maroilles production and enriched with parsley, tarragon and cloves. This soft cow’s milk cheese has an average weight of 250 grams once formed by hand into a cone shape. It is then washed with beer and sometimes finished off with a dusting of paprika for a smoky finish.

Local speciality: Cocos de Paimpol

Cocos de Paimpol are oval, semi-dry haricots harvested by hand in Brittany. They were the first fresh vegetables to win the celebrated AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) in 1998 and can be served in soups, salads and stews (or in a gratin with tomatoes), or with fish or meat. Available to buy, ready to reheat, from www.bienmanger.com

The return of lower-alcohol fruity wines

Changing climate and wine fashions mean vignerons are always trying out new methods A year in the vineyard


ast month, I wrote about the relationship between climate and ripening, the desire for wines made from very ripe grapes and the viticultural practices that can be employed to assist ripening to high levels of sugar – and therefore alcohol. This month, I will explain why there is a move to reduce alcohol levels, how that can be achieved and what climate change could mean for vineyards and wines. In the last few years there has been a desire to reduce alcohol levels, driven mainly by the idea that highalcohol wines are bad for our health. The problem is consumers still want ripe, smooth flavours – so producers have looked at ways to square the circle. One way is to stop the fermentation early and restrict how much sugar is converted to alcohol. A fair number of popular red wines, primarily from the New World, now contain five to 10 grammes of residual sugar per litre, instead of less than two for traditional wines. This has the advantage of making the wines taste fruitier whilst hiding any bitter tannins. Another simple method is

Environmental scientists predict cooler areas in the north of France and the Massive Central may become new wine regions

“watering-back”, which is prohibited in France, where over-ripe juice is diluted back to normal sugar levels with water. Tartaric acid may also be added to restore natural acidity lost through over-ripening. New yeast strains are being developed that can slightly reduce the amount of alcohol produced during fermentation. Finally, wines can be de-alcoholised using either vacuum distillation or reverse osmosis. These are the methods used to make non-alcoholic wines but can also be employed to reduce the alcohol level. Both require expensive equipment and alter the flavour of the wine. At the same time, there are a growing number of consumers who seek lower-alcohol wines with less ripe flavours. Some of these are older connoisseurs who reminisce about the 11.5% clarets of the 1970s and some are the new generation of wine fans who shun flamboyant, award-winning wines in favour of simpler, more natural flavours. Meanwhile, if the planet continues to heat up, vignerons may need to think about planting grape varieties traditionally grown in warmer regions and forgetting the 1990s trend for cool-climate varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and Pinot noir in regions that are too warm to make balanced wines. Wine producers are introducing sustainable practices with a view to being carbon-neutral. Wineries are being designed to avoid refrigeration and use gravity to move wine rather than electric pumps. Presses are being developed that are more efficient in energy and water use. In the vineyard, chemical fertilisers produce nitrous oxide, one of the major greenhouse gases. However, converting to organic practices means mechanical weed-control, and more frequent fungicide spraying, which takes more tractor-time and therefore fuel.

Planting well-chosen “cover-crops” between the vines is a clever way to provide a natural nitrogen supply as well as preventing competitive weeds from becoming established. It also helps prevent soil erosion and evaporation. Some vineyards are experimenting with automatic solar panels to shade the vines during the hottest periods of the day to reduce water-usage and slow down ripening. In the Roussillon, where I have my vineyards, irrigation is being introduced for AOP wines for the first time to try to counter the fall in yield due to lower rainfall and also to produce wines with less concentration and alcohol levels for the market. Irrigation has been prohibited for AOP vineyard in France because it alters the natural terroir and is open to abuse by those growers seeking high yields. However, it is widely used in the New World and has been shown to produce highquality grapes in regions that would otherwise be unsuitable for viticulture. Environmental scientists have been using models to predict likely climate changes in France’s wine regions. They suggest some regions will have to change the varieties they grow while others may become unsuitable. They also predict that cooler areas in the north of France and the Massive Central may become new wine regions. Climate change is just one of the factors that could alter the type and source of wines we enjoy in future. It is worth remembering that, although wine is seen as a traditional drink in France, it has gone through many changes of style, region and fashion in the past and will continue to do so. Jonathan Hesford is the owner, vigneron and winemaker of Domaine Treloar in the Roussillon. www.domainetreloar.com

16 Interiors

French Living I August 2018

No drama for this chateau restoration Guillaume Picon enjoys the restored elegance on show at Château de Villette in Val d’Oise


hen Château de Villette’s new owners arrived in 2011, they decided to undertake a complete restoration of the estate, encompassing the chateau, outbuildings, and gardens. In order to carry out these large-scale, ambitious plans, they enlisted the help of PierreAndré Lablaude, chief architect to the Monuments Historiques, and the interior decorator Jacques Garcia. The present owners of the chateau have set out to restore it to its full magnificence, thus recreating the setting in which an inimitably French art de vivre was able to blossom so completely. The interiors are now furnished with eighteenth-century pieces and objets, and the authenticity of the ambience had been enhanced by the use of precious fabrics, specially woven by skilled artisans, in the principal reception rooms and bedrooms. Set in its gardens embellished with decorative parterres and water features, the Château de Villette is now revealed once again in its true splendour, a serene reflection of that moment of perfection that was France during the Enlightenment. They wanted to decorate the interiors in a harmonious mixture of the various styles in vogue during the reigns of Louis XV (r. 1715–74) and Louis XVI (r. 1774–92). But above all they wanted to recreate an atmosphere or ambience: that of the art de vivre of eighteenthcentury France. Their choice was fully justified by the history of Villette, as the most remarkable decorative schemes in this maison de plaisance built under Louis XIV date from the first half of the eighteenth century. The dining room forms a unique ensemble that is not only of great aesthetic value but also bears witness to the emergence of a new social custom. Before this period, French aristocratic residences did not possess a separate dining room, and meals would be laid out on a table in the master’s bedchamber. In the early eighteenth century habits changed, and people began to sit down to eat in a room that was specially designed for the purpose. The dining room at Villette is an early example – if not the earliest – of this new development. Two niches decorated in the purest rococo style hold a pair of vases from which a supply of pumped water flows. The purpose of the stone table or buffet positioned against the wall was not to hold dishes of food brought from the kitchen, as might be assumed, but rather to display the owner’s silverware, an indication of his taste and social station. Archaeological analysis of the wall panelling has revealed the original paint colours, contemporary interest in the “Orient,” and

especially in China and chinoiseries. The great maritime trading companies were now making a fortune from importing Chinese porcelain, lacquer panels, and other exotic items. With its large platters displayed on the walls and its porcelain vases standing on a commode and a console table, all in the rococo style, the dining room at Villette reflects this new taste. Chinese porcelain forms a leitmotif throughout the chateau’s interiors, moreover. In the grand salon a pair of large pink porcelain basins from the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722–35) is displayed on giltwood plinths, while a very large porcelain vase topped by a guardian lion, or “foo lion,” stands in one of the corners of the music room. The bathrooms, equipped with modern comforts, are in a similar style: one features lacquer panels; a second a Venetian mirror with a frame embellished with chinoiserie motifs, hanging above a commode that has been ingeniously converted into a washbasin; and an onyx bathtub weighing nearly a ton – an extravagant object that originally belonged to Esther Lachmann, known as “La Païva,” a courtesan who scandalized Paris under Napoleon III (r. 1852–70). During the reign of Louis XV, which lasted for over half a century, the decorative arts developed and styles changed. The exuberant excesses of the rococo style, with its swooping curves and arabesques—as exemplified by the gilt-bronze wall clock in the dining room—became more restrained, and

This is an extract from Château de Villette, The Splendour of French Decor by Guillaume Picon with photographs by Bruno Ehr published by Flammarion.

from the mid- 1750s there was a revival of the classical style, as espoused by Mme de Pompadour, the king’s mistress, and his brother the Marquess of Marigny, who was also director of the Bâtiments du Roi. This turning point may be seen in the writing desk displayed in the library at Villette: made from amaranth and kingwood in the early 1760s by Jean-François Oeben, cabinetmaker to the king, it is a replica of the table Oeben made for Madame de Pompadour. On the first floor, a commode that belonged to the Countess of Provence, sister-in-law of Louis XVI, offers another clear illustration of this “return to antiquity” in all its rigorous restraint and straight lines, which with the exception of the curve of the legs completely supplanted the swooping lines of the rococo. “Textiles have an essential part to play in any refurbishment scheme,” as Béatrix Saule used to say when she was director of the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon. This is certainly true at Villette. The fabrics used to line the walls of the bedchambers at Villette, as well as those used for the curtains and seat covers, were supplied by the Prelle textile manufacture, founded in 1752, which continues to uphold the great tradition of Lyon silk-making. The firm’s archives contain samples of its fabrics manufactured since the eighteenth century, as well as a wealth of documentation enabling the manufacture to recreate designs from the Renaissance, the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, and the Regency. Among fabrics woven by Prelle is the crimson damask for the Antichambre du Grand Couvert at Versailles. At Villette, they wove the crimson Ermitage silk velvet that lines the walls of the principal bedchamber on the first floor. On the ground floor, the boudoir is hung with damask in Turquin blue, including the curtains and canopy of the tester bed, which are picked out with sumptuous braid in silk and gold thread.

Get the look Make like a French aristocrat with a modern take on Villette’s style with these French high street buys. Prices and availability correct at time of going to press. Thé time From a relaxing tisane to a cup of old fashioned builder’s tea, a cuppa always tastes better from a théière (teapot). This one is Tutti Fiori, from La Redoute, price €19. www.laredoute.fr A good soak Castle or no castle, nothing says ‘me time’ like a soak in a free standing bath (baignoire îlot). This modern oval one from Leroy Merlin, which takes some filling, costs €1,090. www.leroymerlin.fr Green velvet Not quite got the budget for an original Louis XV duchesse seat? Fear not, you can recreate Villette’s drawing room elegance. This three-seater sofa in green velvet does the job. €1,149, Made.com

18 Puzzles

French Living I August 2018

Bilingual cryptic crossword

by Parolles Answers are in French and English Across 5 Give Parisian poet a bit of respect (6) 6 Cherish French revolutionary and leaders of resistance in Reims (6) 9 Burn brown coal first off (6) 10 A measure of resistance shown by mother and me surprisingly (8) 11 Something to eat in Marseille causing disease? Not entirely (4) 12 Break up French resistance after male teen died horribly (10)

Down 1 Manon’s unfaithful in Spain with Castro earlier (8) 2 Was the first to obtain information from a traditional story (6) 3 French railwayman cooking hot mince (8) 4 Country girl initially getting Religious Education at English church (6) 5 Protestant radical gets to understand German (6) 7 M–idshipman’s marijuana cigarette (6)

13 Done superficially for a source of amusement by a couple of Conservatives (11)

8 Average number taken in by intelligence of cat and dog for instance (6,5)

18 Standard by which to judge a Shakespearean character (10)

14 Shoot French poet over a couple of similes (8)

21 Girl primarily remembering Antoine’s sweat (4)

15 French book of verse failing to occupy Romania’s first queen (8)

22 Father needing time to stop Nolan going back in Marine’s trousers (8)

16 Old Miles tucking into tough lobster in Cannes (6)

23 An American woman in a foreign country (6)

17 A threat in London and Paris (6)

24 Lucien’s doubt dismissed during revolution ary’s return (6) 25 A Frenchman for example about to go back on a promise (6)


19 Suddenly stop functioning - at a loss after stroke (3,3) 20 Mislead French soldiers over time before start of revolution (6)

French-themed crossword


by John Foley Note all answers are words or names associated with France Across


1 Northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region best known for its dry white (7)

1 Important red wine grape, especially in the Languedoc (8)

4 Celestial body (5)

2 This fish de mer has a wolfish touch (4)

7 Fils d’un frère ou d’une soeur (5)

3 Key figure in existentialism (6)

9 Paris-born sculptor renowned for works such as Le Penseur and L’homme qui marche (5)

4 Densely wooded department on the Belgian border (8)

11 One who assists another (4) 12 Nobel-prizewinning writer Anatole ______, celebrated for works such as the satiric L’Ile des Pingouins (6) 15 Town in the Aude department celebrated for its winter festival and sparkling white wine (6) 16 Plante potagère, aka Apium graveolens – cultivated for its stalks (6) 19 Dexterous or skilful (6) 20 With an accent it’s salty, without it’s dirty (4) 21 Brin fin de matière textile (3) 23 Hillock – une petite élévation de terre (5) 24 Famed wine district north-west of Bordeaux on the left bank of the Gironde (5) 25 Boisterous or mischievous child – the little devil! (5) 26 Town on the Marne which is home to numerous champagne houses (7)

Fun French facts 1 Street life

owner (5)

6 French name for Mediterranean island to which Napoleon was briefly exiled (4) 8 Surname of film director, producer, writer, whose wives included Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda (5) 13 Dish baked with a topping of breadcrumbs or grated cheese (2,6) 14 Hubert de ________, fashion designer lauded for dressing Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and other films (8) 17 Respect for someone or something (5) 18 Believer in a particular religion (6) 19 Cahier for photos, stamps, etc (5) 21 Sans ____ – sans artifice ou maquillage (4) 22 Lady friend (4)

Like our quiz? 2. Fake noose? The Sanson family tomb at Montmartre cemetery is dedicated to one of the more unusual French families... they were executioners. Q: The most notable Sanson was Charles-Henri (17391806), who carried out 2,918 executions. But by what nickname was he affectionately known?

3.Passion in Pigalle

The sweetly-named Hôtel Amour, in the South Pigalle district of Paris (abbreviated to SoPi by those who know), has 20 guest rooms decorated on the theme of love, as well as a pretty leafy terrace that has become a hip hangout for late-night drinkers and diners. Q: As if one Love hotel were not enough, the Hôtel Grand Amour is a big brother version that opened in 2017. But on which aptly-titled Paris street is it located?

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WRITER Victor Hugo lived in a hôtel particulier in the 16th arrondissement towards the end of his life. He was so esteemed that the street name was changed from avenue d’Eylau to the name of its famous resident. So anyone writing to the Les Misérables author could have just addressed it: “Victor Hugo, In his street, Paris.” Q: Two million people honoured Victor Hugo’s funeral cortege after his death in 1885. But where is the novelist buried?

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Puzzles 19

August 2018 I French Living

Guess the region...

Clue: Flying visits were on point...

France has 13 regions, some recently formed by combining previous ones. Every issue we pick a spot, all you need to do is work out which region it is in...

Test your knowledge of France with our Connexion quiz


The Statue of Liberty was designed by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, but which famous engineer was responsible for overseeing most of its construction, from 1880 onwards?

7 Which chart hit, a UK No 1 for both Elvis Presley in 1962 and UB40 in 1993, used the famous melody of the 18th century French love song Plaisir d’Amour?

Photo: Marion Pike

What three-letter English acronym represents an item often said to be an essential in the wardrobe of any woman, one of Coco Chanel’s most enduring contributions to the world of fashion?

12 If you were to use the French slang term, “J’ai un petit creux” (“I have a little hollow”), what would be your most pressing problem? 13 Representing a powerful 14th century merchant guild, what appears prominently on the red field of the famous coat-of-arms of the city of Paris? 14 With what historical artefact, now housed in the British Museum, is the brilliant 19th century language expert and orientalist Jean-François Champollion most closely associated?

18 Whose first non-playing job in football was coaching the reserve team at RC Strasbourg in 1978, while the club’s assistant manager was away on scouting missions? 19 Pasteur Institute virologists Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier, were jointly awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on the identification of what, over 20 years earlier? 20 In texting, what is the most usual English equivalent of the French acronym DQP?

? ?



11 Since 1925, the French cookware manufacturer Le Creuset has turned out its signature bright orange pots and pans made specifically from what material?

17 Apart from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, in which other novel by Jules Verne, published four years later, does the complex character Captain Nemo appear?

Guess the region It was near here at Cricqueville-en-Bessin at La Pointe du Hoc in Calvados, Normandy, that the US army air forces established an airfield shortly after D-Day in 1944. It lies around 6kms west of Omaha Beach. Photo: L. Durand/Calvados Tourisme

What global intergovernmental organisation moved its headquarters in 1989 from Saint-Cloud in the suburbs of western Paris, to the Quai Charles de Gaulle in Lyon?

10 What small town on France’s Atlantic coast gives its name to the huge triangle-shaped tidal bay or ‘bassin’, which indents the otherwise straight coastline 30 miles south of Bordeaux?

16 The two shorter courses at Le Golf National near Paris, venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup, are called Oiselet (Birdie) and Aigle (Eagle). What is the name of the Championship course?

Quiz 1 Georges Braque, 2 Vanuatu, 3 Dawn/daybreak, 4 Interpol, 5 LBD (Little Black Dress), 6 Gustave Eiffel, 7 Can’t Help Falling In Love, 8 Sous chef (de cuisine), 9 Potatoes, 10 Arcachon, 11 Cast-iron, 12 Hunger, 13 A sailing ship, 14 Rosetta Stone, 15 Paris, je t’aime, 16 Albatros, 17 The Mysterious Island, 18 Arsène Wenger, 19 HIV, 20 ASAP (Dès Que Possible).


The name of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier is remembered in France due in large part to his championing during the late 18th century of what previously suspect foodstuff?

Anagram: Rabelais

An ‘aubade’ is traditionally a poem or song which deals with lovers parting from each other at what time of day?


15 What was the name of the 2006 film which paid tribute to the arrondissements of Paris in 18 short stories by directors such as Alfonso Cuarón, the Coen Brothers and Wes Craven?

Bilingual cryptic crossword Across: 5 Donner, 6 Chérir, 9 Ignite, 10 Ohmmeter, 11 Fève, 12 Démanteler, 13 Perfunctory, 18 Touchstone, 21 Suer, 22 Pantalon, 23 Abroad, 24 Douter, 25 Renege.


Which key staff member in a restau rant is usually seen as the ‘secondin-command’, who has responsibility for the presentation of food and for discipline, rosters and training?

Down: 1 Infidèle, 2 Legend, 3 Cheminot, 4 Greece, 5 Digger, 7 Reefer, 8 Common nouns, 14 Fusiller, 15 Réserver, 16 Homard, 17 Menace, 19 Cut out, 20 Egarer.

Known until 1980 as the New Hebrides, what is the only sovereign nation in Oceania which counts French as one of its official languages?

Take the first letter from the answers to the questions indicated below and rearrange the letters to spell out a famous name in French literature. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their surname. Questions 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 16


French-themed crossword Across: 1 Chablis, 4 astre, 7 neveu, 9 Rodin, 10 thé, 11 aide, 12 France, 15 Limoux, 16 céleri, 19 adroit, 20 salé/sale, 21 fil, 23 butte, 24 Médoc, 25 démon, 26 Epernay.


Try our quiz

Down: 1 cinsault, 2 loup, 3 Sartre, 4 Ardennes, 5 tante, 6 Elbe, 8 Vadim, 13 au gratin, 14 Givenchy, 17 égard, 18 fidèle, 19 album, 21 fard, 22 amie.

Which French artist who created a trio of striking paintings called Les Oiseaux on a ceiling in the Louvre, is recognised as a co-founder with Picasso of the Cubist movement?

Fun French facts 1 Victor Hugo is buried in the Panthéon. 2 Monsieur de Paris (Gentleman of Paris) 3 Rue de la Fidelité (Faithfulness street).


20 Reviews French films A critical eye on the latest ciné releases Vagabond

French Living I August 2018 Art in the South of France, Lynne Alderson, Aixcentric/Lulu, €31 ISBN: 5 800127 248737 SOMETIMES you pick up a book and just know from opening it up that it will be dipped into again and again over the years. This is just such a book. Filled with fabulous and fascinating information on artworks both famous and obscure and where to find them, it offers a brilliant guide to the south-east of France, from Arles to Menton. The price may be a bit off-putting – actually, quite a bit off-putting – but the value lies in the quality of the information it gives on artists, their way of life and the places they worked. Think Van Gogh in Arles, Signac in Saint-

Tropez or Renoir and Matisse in Nice, Provence and the Côte d’Azur; the artists’ playground, where Cézanne said “The sun is so terrific here that it seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted not only in black and white, but in blue, red, brown and violet.” Whether you want to walk in the artists’ footsteps, find the spots where famous works were created or discover contemporary sculptures in a busy vineyard the answers are here, superbly illustrated with many colour photos. This use of colour explains a large part of the cost of the book but the lack of a hard-back cover is a shame.

Editor’s choice

Books – The 20 minute review

We read the latest releases with a link to France. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time Dir: Agnès Varda; 105 mins

GIVEN a re-release to mark the 90th birthday of its director Agnès Varda, this 1985 tale of a young homeless woman in freezing cold rural France made a star of Sandrine Bonnaire, and cemented Varda as a director just as vital and innovative as when she began in the Nouvelle Vague. Bonnaire plays Mona, whom we see – and this is an unavoidable spoiler alert – ghost-white and lifeless in a muddy ditch at the start of the film. We spend the rest of the film trying to discover how this grisly end befell her, as Varda uses flashback and interviews with those who interacted with her as a plot-revealing device. The cast of supporting characters come across mainly as self-serving, and Mona largely unknowable to both them and the viewer. Even 33 years after its release, Vagabond (called ‘Sans toit ni loi’ in French, meaning ‘Without a roof or law’) chimes as a reflection of the price to be paid for non-conformism: we learn that Mona’s austere life was self-selected – she walked away from a job and comforts in Paris for the life of a wandering chancer. She seems at peace avoiding social norms and responsibilities and her criminality, insouciance and ability to live a tie-free existence makes the many people she meets feel uneasy. Yet she appears unconcerned: “Je m’en fous – je bouge” (“I don’t care – I move on”) she says. Vagabond is a brilliantly bleak film by an all-time great French director.

Also out: Looking for Teddy Kad Merad comedy vehicle about two men’s slapstick search for a lost doudou.

Monsieur X, Jamie Reid, Bloomsbury Sport, £18.99; ISBN: 978-1-4729-4229-6

OH, WHAT a lark! This is Patrice des Moutis as he takes on the establishment in his bid to beat the state-run PMU betting system ... and takes the gambling authorities for a ride. Handsome – naturally – charming, well-educated and from an aristocratic family he is a compulsive gambler and bookie and plans his own version of breaking the bank at Monte Carlo. But first he needs to know Bayes’ Theorem and the levels of probability in a 17-runner Tiercé race and how to turn the odds in his favour with his tricast bet (forecasting the 1,2,3 or a variation). It meant 42 different combinations and 35 bets of 200 Francs on each. A total of FF294,000. The result was astonishing. He won 35 times on the correct 1,2,3 and 35 times on the places to pick up a rather splendid 21million francs. Inspired, his bets grow so large that it takes 40 motorcycle couriers to ferry them to the PMU offices. He is betting 60, 70, 80million on the Pari-Mutuel and winning more – and more often. With gambling bringing in up to 6% of the state’s total tax take, it strikes back. Both biography and thriller, this is a wonderful read as Des Moutis, an audacious mathematician and gambler, taunts and outwits the state which had long been the only winner in PMU betting.

Hiding in Plain Sight, Susan Lewis, Arrow, £7.99; ISBN: 978-1-784-75675-8

THIS is the fourth in a series but from the first pages it is fairly clear that you do not need to have read the previous novels... it grips, grabs and pummels your emotions. We meet ex-detective Andee Lawrence as she wanders the streets and bridges of L’Islesur-la-Sorgue. A silver Mercedes stops in front of her, blocking her path. The window opens and a woman says “Remember me?” It is almost 30 years since her younger sister, Penny, had vanished at the age of 14. But why has she suddenly returned and how did she know exactly where and when to find Andee... You may think you can read a few pages and then do something else but there is little chance of that. Once started, you read on; you have a ‘need’ to know what happens next. Until that moment, Andee had been in heaven but her sister’s sudden appearance leaves her shocked. Full of self-doubt, too, as Penny had sent a letter a few days after she ran away saying she had never felt loved by the family and especially Andee. Then Andee’s mother calls; she has just had a phone call from someone who says she is Penny and she wants to meet. But is it a hoax or a dream? Or the start of a nightmare...

Le Selfie Gascon, Perry Taylor, Anglo Gascon, €29; ISBN: 978-2954-855226 IF YOU are feeling down or weary of life, then two minutes with this will cheer you up. Perry Taylor, who also draws cartoons for The Connexion, has a rare and splendid eye for life and the everyday oddities in France. Whether it is a tractor-led traffic jam or a Gers goose pinching a baguette, there is always something to bring a smile. This is the third ‘Gascon’ book and its basic – sometimes very basic – truths will be recognised by anyone living in the south-west and much wider afield.

A Taste for Vengeance, Martin Walker, Quercus, £18.99; ISBN: 978-1-78648611-0 A BRITISH woman fails to turn up for a cookery class and then turns up dead, murdered along with an Irishman she had been travelling with, who is travelling on a false passport. But this is a little bigger than Bruno, Chief of Police, expected as the Irishman has intelligence connections, a body covered in scars and a lengthy list of enemies. Seemingly just another case in the life of Bruno in little St Denis in the Dordogne but Bruno fears the killers may be targeting more victims in the area. And that is his problem as he is no longer just the town policeman, he has been promoted to head of police for the Vézère valley. He has also been asked to lecture at his friend’s cookery classes and finds that more daunting than his new job. Deliciously told, with plenty of mouthwatering south-west food and wines on the menu, it manages to combine investigations into murderous terrorists and a pregnant rugby player to create a farfetched but still hugely enjoyable drama. Bruno may be too good to be true but is based on a real policeman, which makes one long for the idyllic life he enjoys in la France profonde and envious of its bucolic charm.

Sounds familiar: the French fear of name-calling Language notes When President Macron chided a brazen teenager who cheekily asked him “How’s it going Manu?” (the shortened name given to those called Emmanuel) at a recent official engagement, it made headline news. It was not just the youngster’s over-familiarity with the country’s most powerful person (and, lest we forget, his senior by many years) that provided click-bait, but also Macron’s fullon, instant reproach of the child’s ‘insolence’. But just where do we all stand with using people’s nicknames (surnoms)? The first thing to remember is that the French do not tend to use nicknames as liberally as the British, says Camille ChevalierKarfis of French Today language courses. “The French tend to be sort of formal with names,” she says. “It’s still very common to use Monsieur and Madame to talk to someone you may be acquainted with, and it may take

The French do not tend to use nicknames as liberally as the British

some time before you go on a first name basis – it may actually never happen.” As for shortened names... “We do have some common ones such as ‘Caro’ for Caroline, Nico for Nicolas, and indeed Manu for Emmanuel. But it is not set in stone and it’s not because your name is Caroline that people will call you Caro.” Calling someone by a common nickname without their permission can easily be seen as a lack of respect, she says. “Especially if there is no indication that this person actually uses that nickname.” A similarly tricky problem is when to use tu and vous, based not only on familiarity and permission to use tu (granted by the more senior party) but also status and age. Just make sure you make the switch when it is offered, says Camille. “The thing is when one person offers to say tu, it’s extremely impolite to refuse. Like someone offering his friendship and you saying: “no thanks, I’d rather keep things formal between us”.

Shopping/Did you know? 21

August 2018 I French Living


New products, designs and ideas from around France

What’s the time, Tintin?

When Georges Remi, internationally known as Hergé, was charged with illustrating Le Petit Vingtième, a weekly youth supplement for a major Brussels newspaper of the time, little could he have known how his creation The Adventures of Tintin would enrapture the Francophone population of both his own country and neighbouring France. Or that one day his characters would adorn a range of watches... Fans from the ages of seven to 70 have loved his adventures ever since, and so a new range of themed watches will appeal to readers of all vintages. This could be nostalgic adults keen to carry a reminder of the reporter and adventurer with them; comic book fans; or children eager to discover Tintin’s world. The collection explores three worlds reflected in Tintin’s stories: his first investigations in the country of the Soviets (1930), the lunar adventure (1953) and then some of his cohorts, including Milou (Snowy), Professeur Tournesol and Capitaine Haddock. Sizes range from XS to L (28 to 44 mm), in a wide range of colours. Prices start at €69 and go up €149. https://boutique.tintin.com

Miniature motors NOTHING evokes rural France of yesteryear quite like the sight of an old Citroën 2CV chuntering through the lanes. Now the car manufacturer is celebrating 70 years of the 2CV and 50 years if its Méhari jeep, with new miniatures. Symbol of an era and of a certain way of life, the “Deudeuche” is an icon of automotive history that unites a huge number of enthusiasts around the world. For those who are not lucky enough to own the full-size model, the companyis selling a selection of three-inch cars in its honour, from €65. The ‘lifestyle boutique’ also features a selection of ready-to-wear items, toys, decorative objects and other accessories, including coffee cups and phone covers. https://lifestyle.citroen.com

Bougie wonderland

Lou Candeloun’s candles are cast one by one, by hand, the old-fashioned way at company HQ in the sunny south. The company name means candle in Provençal, and all the scents which the candles give off evoke the region (apricot and rosemary, melon and fig, orange blossom, Calisson...). Besides the scents, their uniqueness comes from the wax: there is no paraffin derived from petroleum – they are 100% vegetable and natural. Even the wicks are made of natural cotton. There are three visual styles to choose from: glass jars with small snap-on lids, mineral concrete (pictured, 220g/€65), or metallic. www.loucandeloun.fr

Taste of summer AUGUSTE Fauchon was born in Calvados in 1856. After working as a street vendor in Paris he eventually opened a fine foods outlet on Place de la Madeleine. Skip forward to today’s crowded high end épicerie landscape and the Fauchon brand still stands out as a mark of quality French produce. The flagship store was recently revamped into a gastronomic temple. The company provides a range of fresh and dried or prepacked foods, with many available to order online, including hampers and gift boxes. Keep your cool with their ‘Avoid the heatwave’ picnic hamper, featuring a bottle of Bordeaux rosé Enclos de Viaud, black olive tapenade, goat’s cheese and thyme crackers, crab rillettes and crispy toasts, for €50. www.fauchon.com/en

Back to school: holiday times have reflected society

Why does la rentrée take place in September? Did you know?


he beginning of the school year logically follows the longest break from the classroom. This has always been in the summer though over the centuries the reasons why have changed and the dates and length have varied enormously, from one month to ten weeks. The first recorded official break was accorded by Pope Gregory IX in 1231, because there were so few students in the universities during harvest time. Researcher in education from Nice University, Doctor Daniel Moatti has traced the history of summer holidays in a paper Petite Histoire des Grandes Vacances (A Little History of Big Holidays). He says these first four weeks from study were called vendanges, linking them to the grape harvest. At that time there was no such concept as a holiday; the students went home to work and any other days off were linked to religious festivals. School was not obligatory until the Jules Ferry law in 1881, when all children aged 6-13 years old had to go to school. However, Doctor Moatti says there were already holiday dates for existing schools. In 1800, they started on August 5 and ended on September 20, again to coincide with the harvest. In 1939, these holidays were lengthened from July 15 to September 30, a massive ten weeks, but the two and a

half months were still not for trips to the seaside but for help in the fields, as a vast percentage of the population made their living from the land. Social habits were changing, though, as paid holidays for workers were introduced in 1936, so that gradually more and more families started going away, and often wanted to do so from July 1. In 1959, the summer holiday dates were therefore changed to start on July 1 and lasted until September 14. Farming families could still make a special request for their children, aged over 12 years, to stay at home if they could show their manpower was needed. It was not until the 1980s that school holidays came to more closely resemble those we know today. The grandes vacances became shorter and were now known as les vacances d’été, and other holidays during the year were lengthened. In 1986 the summer holidays started on June 26 and ended September 1. Paid holidays and increases in tourism now govern the pattern of breaks from school, rather than the agricultural calendar. This year the holidays started July 7 and the rentrée is on September 3. Even now there is debate over the length of the summer holidays, with some education professionals saying the break is too long and should be shortened. However, no-one has ever suggested that the beginning of the school year should be in January rather than September.

22 History

French Living I August 2018

Gigi author was one of world’s first ‘truly liberated’ women... Head of the Centre d’études Colette tells Samantha David why 21st-century women still need irrepressible and provocative role models like the writer, more than 60 years after she died, to show that anything is possible


ore than 60 years after her death, Colette (1873-1954) remains one of France’s most famous female writers, a source of fascination and joy. Her books, many of which borrowed generously from her own life, are still popular, while a biopic of her life, ‘Colette’ starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West, had its premiere at the Sundance Festival – and has been slated for a limited release in the US in September 2018, before reaching Europe in early 2019. Born in the provincial backwater of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye (Yonne, Bourgogne) Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette received a remarkably thorough education for a young woman of that era, going to school from the age of six until she was 17. Colette, her sister and two brothers enjoyed a tranquil, happy childhood; her mother, fiercely feminist and atheist, adored her and taught her literature, while her father taught her the basics of journalism. Her parents had been quite well off but their fortunes dwindled and by 1891 the family had to move out of their comfortable home into a smaller house in Châtillon-sur-Loing, where Colette met notorious libertine Henry GauthierVillars – commonly known as ‘Willy’. Fourteen years her senior, he was in the area to deliver his illegitimate son to a wet nurse when he met Colette. It is easy to imagine how attractive he must have seemed to an innocent girl from the countryside, and even easier to imagine how attractive she must have been to such a compulsive seducer. They were married in 1893 and moved to Paris, where Willy was wellknown; a writer, musical critic and fashionable man-about-town. He was also involved in various extra-marital relationships, and despite Colette’s jealously never had any intention of reforming his ways. It was well-known that much of his work was written by other people, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that he encouraged Colette to write a spiced up series of coming-of-age novels loosely based on her own upbringing – Claudine at School, Claudine in Paris, Claudine Married and Claudine and Annie – but omitting any mention of Colette’s mother and adding a salacious amount of lesbian erotica. As soon as they were written, Willy promptly published them under his own name. When she found out, Colette was furious, and in 1905 she left her husband.

But, as he had claimed copyright of her books, she had no access to the (handsome) royalties they were generating. To earn a living, she turned her hand to risqué music-hall performances wearing skimpy costumes, which she called oriental pantomimes. These appearances were scandalous for the time; at one point she was banned from performing completely nude except for a tiger skin. Desperate for money, she started touring, sometimes appearing as Claudine in scenes from her books, earning a pittance and often hungry and unwell. Her novel La Vagabonde (1910) deals with this period of her life, exploring the theme of female independence in a male-dominated society. She also had various amorous relationships with women, sometimes appearing with them on stage. An on-stage kiss with Mathilde de Morny caused a near-riot and resulted in the pair having to keep their relationship under wraps although it continued for another five years. In 1912 she married Henry de Jouvenel, a politician and journalist, and the following year her daughter Colette de Jouvenel was born. Henry gave her work as a journalist and during the war she continued writing and publishing criticism and articles. In 1920 she published Chéri, the tale of an older woman’s affair with a much younger man. She also met her stepson Bertrand for the first time. He was only 16 and she was 47. Her second husband had proved no more faithful than the first, and perhaps that was one reason she seduced his son. She and Bertrand embarked on what was possibly the most profound love of Colette’s life. It continued even after she and his father were divorced in 1924, survived at least one engagement and finally ended in 1925 when he married Marcelle Prat. They saw each other only occasionally afterwards, although 30 years later Bertrand visited her as she was dying. The year of Bertrand’s marriage, Colette married her third and last husband, Maurice Goudeket, who was 16 years her junior. She continued writing throughout the 30s, her books mainly dealing with sex and marriage, and often criticising the conventional lives of women. By this time she was well-respected as a writer, often acclaimed as France’s greatest novelist. During World War Two she stayed in Paris, where her husband, who was Jewish, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941. He was released after a few months, but the pair spent the rest of the war worrying that he might be arrested again. During the occupation she wrote two

Top left, the film of Colette’s Gigi starred Leslie Caron; Colette in performance; and bottom, at her writing desk. Inset, left, a photograph of the author from 1902

She did lots of things that women didn’t do. Her mother said she was 300 years ahead of her time Samia Bordji, director of the Centre d’études Colette

volumes of autobiography, Journal à Rebours (1941) and De Ma Fenêtre (1942) which were published in English in 1975 as Looking Backwards. Her novella Gigi, about a young girl being groomed to become a prostitute who falls in love with and marries her much older, wealthy lover, was published in 1944. The musical film version, staring Leslie Caron, won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1958. Colette never saw it. She continued to write, often reflecting on the challenges of writers drawing inspiration from their own lives, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. She died in 1954 at the age of 81. The Catholic Church refused to give her a religious service because of her divorces, but she received a state funeral and was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Since then, her reputation has grown even more illustrious. The 30 books she wrote are still central to many a syllabus, and she is now recognised as an important female voice in literature.

Local history 23

August 2018 I French Living

Wikiepedia, Guy Martin

Photos: Courtesy of Centre d’études Colette

Tales of ancient tombs trace village’s timeline A church in a Bourgogne village houses an intriguing clutch of empty stone coffins. Jane Hanks discovers their origins Secret history of buildings

T “We miss Colette,” said Samia Bordji, director of the Centre d’études Colette. “She was one of the world’s first truly liberated women. Middle-class women at that time didn’t work, but she did. She made a career, and was one of the first women to break into journalism, too. She did lots of things that women didn’t do. Her mother said she was 300 years ahead of her time.” Colette famously said she just wanted to be able to do anything she wanted. “She shocked and upset people, she was deliberately provocative, she was proud of it, in a way. She earned her living and her freedom through her own efforts, her courage, her resistance, her ability to shrug off insults and disapproval. “She declared that her own morals were better than those of most of the people who wanted to teach her morals.” If she was living today, Colette would be doing things we can’t even imagine, Ms Bordji said. “Many people are closed-minded about women. Willy, who was a media star when he met Colette,

would have sunk into obscurity if he hadn’t married her because no-one cares if men are libertines.” Colette’s misadventure with maternity is also well documented. “She had a child at the age of 40 which at that time was extraordinary. “She hated being pregnant and was the first to say that she had no maternal instincts, which was not an acceptable idea back then – and even now, women are often pilloried for not wanting children. There are many women who regret having children, but it still isn’t acceptable to say so. Colette talked about things we still don’t talk about today.” Colette said that love knows no ages. “When she started an affair with a man 30 years her junior, of course it was scandalous, but look at attitudes today and the fuss people make about the age-gap between President Macron and his wife. “That’s why we need her today. We miss her, we need a role model like Colette who shows that anything is possible; anything is allowed for a woman.”

Colette stands on a balcony in Paris; the writer spent her later years living in an apartment at Le Palais Royal

he village of Quarré-lesTombes in the Yonne in Bourgogne owes its name to the extraordinary number of Merovingian tombs, dating from the 7th or 8th century, which surround the Church of Saint-Georges. It is thought that at one time there were over 1,000 of these ancient, plain, rectangular tombs, but now there are 117 elements, 66 lids and 46 bases. Over the years there have been several explanations for this phenomenon. Catherine Robbé has lived all her life in the small village, and her father was mayor for 24 years. Her parents instilled in her a passion for the history of Quarré-lesTombes and as a student she wrote her thesis on the history of the tombs. She vowed that when she retired she would look further into her local history and has written another long essay on her finds. In it she explains that Merovingians were the first dynasty of Kings of the Francs after the Roman Empire and famously included Clovis and Dagobert. The tombs, which date from their reign, are made either from granite or from limestone from local quarries. The oldest text referring to them is a novel written by a monk in 1330, which tells the story of a nearby battle, won by Girart de Roussillon in the 9th century, who found a quantity of tombs around the Church of Saint George in the village and used them to bury his soldiers. This is disputed by a legend which tells

of another battle between the Christians and the Saracens during Charlemagne’s reign. The song of a nightingale had lulled the chief of the Christian army, Knight Renaud, to sleep under a tree, while battle raged around him. But luckily, his army was saved by the intervention of St George, who, using the same sword he used to slay the dragon, put an end to the battle. Tombs then fell from the sky to bury the dead Christians. A more practical reason is that tombs were stocked in the village for sale to passing trade, as it is on the crossroads to many towns. There is even the suggestion that the site was a vast cemetery because St George would give sinners entry to heaven, making this an attractive burial place. The majority of the tombs were removed in the late 18th century to make way for housing in the village centre. This is just part of the local history. Mrs Robbé says they were very lucky to have two priests who wrote extensively about the village. One recounted that during the 19th century, poor children from Paris were sent into the countryside to live on farms and remained, often until they were grown up. “There are many tales of these children, some good, but also some bad where they were treated like slaves.” The village was also very active in the Resistance where 2,000 fighters grouped together to participate in the liberation of the Yonne and the Côte-d’Or. Since the 1960s the population has decreased from 984 to around 670 today, but its remaining villagers are keen to keep its stories alive. Guided visits with Catherine Robbé: contact Office du Tourisme Avallon on 03 86 34 14 19; €2.50 per person.

24 The big picture

French Living I August 2018

Photographers to the rich and famous Photos: Studio Harcourt Paris

Portraits from Paris’s fashionable Harcourt studios have been coveted for decades, as Samantha David finds


he Harcourt photography studio in Paris is famous for its stunningly beautiful pictures of actors and actresses. In a Studio Harcourt portrait, the skin is alabaster, the eyes fixed on some dreamy point in the distance, and the hair, like the background, is wreathed in smoky shadows. “You are not a real actor if you’ve not been photographed by Studio Harcourt,” said French philosopher and writer Roland Barthes in 1957. The studio, which was founded in 1934 by the Lacroix brothers, got its name from Germaine Hirschefeld, who worked under the pseudonym Cosette Harcourt. She was the photographer whose style established the studio’s name. Her black-and-white portraits always featured wonderful lighting. They were always printed on 24x30cm paper with the Harcourt logo at the bottom. Everyone wanted one. Stars, actors, celebrities, wealthy Parisians and during the occupation, Nazi officers and members of the Vichy regime. After the Liberation of France, Americans wanted portraits as did, of course, movie stars. In 2000, the French State bought all Harcourt’s negatives from 1934-1991: around 550,000 images of people including 1,500 celebrities. Anyone can book a portrait session at the Paris studio. A Harcourt portrait costs around €400 for three low-res digital colour portraits (suitable for CVs and websites), and around €2,000 for one of the classic black-and-white ‘Prestige’ shots. From €24,000 gets you the full superstar treatment. The entrance is via a grand red-carpeted staircase, and there are plenty of star portraits on the walls. The doors to the studio hark back to 30s cinema, and a make-up and hair session is included in the price, so there is no chance of anyone not looking 100% Hollywood.

Clients can take whatever clothes they like or, for a fee, Harcourt will arrange a couture session. “It’s a life experience,” said managing director George Hayter. “It’s not just another selfie. Millions of images are created every day on phones – but at Studio Harcourt you live an experience and receive a tangible souvenir, which can be touched and passed down the generations. An image on a screen isn’t durable.” It is said that the studio used all sorts of tricks to get the right lighting. These days however, most of the effects are obtained digitally – although the soft lighting still owes much to movie studios. “Our style is very identifiable, very specific, our lighting is famous, it’s our trademark. “We perpetuate this lighting from gen-

Harcourt has photographed modern sports stars (from top left) Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray, as well as (bottom left) King George VI and Queen Elizabeth – and will even happily photograph pets. Top right: clients who sign up for a famous black-andwhite image pass famous faces as they climb a red-carpet staircase, while the make-up studio harks back to the 1930s

eration to generation; a Harcourt portrait is easily recognisable.” Getting a Harcourt portrait involves three visits to the studio. First is the shoot. A week later there’s another session to select the final image, and then – up to a month after that, clients are presented with the final, printed portrait. “A Harcourt portrait tells the subject’s story, it’s very personal, human,” Mr Hayter said. The majority of clients love their portraits, but a few are surprised when faced with the reality of their appearance. “People come to find a new confidence, a new identity, and we accompany them, have a dialogue with them. “We work as a whole team to get the right result. And our speciality is creating beautiful images, which is why we

re-touch. We take out distractions, such as a wisp of hair in the wrong place, in order to reveal true personality.” It is possible to get an appointment for a portrait at the studio quite quickly. “We are very flexible when it comes to hours and we have more than one photographer!” Mr Hayter said. “We can usually fit people in, and we can telescope timings for visitors who are in Paris for a limited period.” And, if you do not require champagne, make-up or a photo, you might like to visit the studio, in a beautiful town house on a Wednesday, Friday or a Saturday to see their Generation Y exhibition. “They are portraits of mainly under 30s influencers; actors, designers, writers, sportspeople. The exhibition runs until October 31, 2018, and entry costs €7.

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August 2018

ME AND MY OPERATION: Tonsillectomy Tonsillectomie/Amygdalectomie

Massive improvement after boy has his tonsils removed The inside story of readers who have had operations in France – and how they found the health service, by Gillian Harvey When nine-year-old Xavier Hodencq, from Bellac in Haute-Vienne, Limousin suffered from repeated bouts of tonsillitis combined with sleeping difficulties, doctors decided that it was time to act. His mother, Natalie Hodencq, shares the story of his illness and operation. Initial symptoms Xavier’s first bout of tonsillitis was on the day of his first birthday. He continued to develop regular bouts for the following two years, requiring multiple antibiotic treatments. He also suffered from suspected sleep apnea (apnée – a condition where breathing stops and starts during sleep) due to the fact that his tonsils were over-large.


The operation Xavier was admitted to hospital on the day of his operation, which took place four days after his fourth birthday in 2013. Before going to theatre, he had to shower in an iodine solution and change into a hospital gown. I was also asked to change into a gown so that I could administer his gas and cuddle him as he went to sleep. The operation took about 45 minutes and was carried out under general anaesthetic. Afterwards, he felt very tired and uncomfortable, but also very hungry as he had not had anything to eat since the night before. However, we were only able to give him ice shards that day, to ensure that his throat was given a chance to heal.

Dr Marc Brones is an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Clinique Blomet - Ramsay Générale, Paris

Why is a tonsillectomy usually performed? A doctor will decide a tonsillectomy is needed if children get more than five episodes of tonsillitis in a one-year period. They are also performed if the tonsils are too big and become an obstacle to breathing. How long does the procedure take? The operation usually takes 20-30 minutes and is performed under general anaesthetic. How long do patients usually stay in hospital? Usually patients stay just one night

after the operation. However, if the child does not drink or eat anything after the operation is complete it might be necessary for them to stay another night, until they have eaten. How long does it take to heal? It usually takes 7-10 days for the throat to heal properly after the operation. Do children who have their tonsils removed experience any problems after the procedure? No. Their immunity level may be a little lower for a month or so after the operation but afterwards everything is usually fine.

NEXT MONTH: Having a pacemaker fitted Xavier Hodencq was tired and hungry after his tonsils were removed but has now recovered and grown into a happy and healthy nine-year-old

At the doctor In 2012 after Xavier, then three, had experienced his sixth episode of tonsillitis in a year, the family doctor referred him to an ear, nose and throat specialist at Hôpital Femme-Mère-Enfant, Limoges. He commented that Xavier had the largest tonsils he had ever seen on a child his age! He booked another appointment for sixth months’ time to see whether the problem cleared up on its own. At the follow-up appointment there had been no improvement, so the operation was planned.

Staff gave him paracetamol for his pain, and offered stronger pain relief if needed. However, Xavier managed well on the paracetamol, so we did not have to request anything else. Hospital stay In total, Xavier spent two nights in the hospital after his operation. The day after the operation, he was able to eat soft fruit and yoghurt. On the third day he was given pasta and chopped ham, which he had to eat before he was allowed home. Two other children who had had the same procedure were kept in as they would not eat, but Xavier managed to clear his plate and was allowed home.

He stayed off school for three further days, but was back in class – fit and well – the following Monday. Was the treatment effective? Since having his tonsils removed Xavier’s had a massive improvement in his health. He is now nine years old and has only had antibiotics once since his operation, compared with around eight times in the preceding years. He has also grown a lot – this was something we were concerned with as when he had tonsillitis previously he would not eat, and this stalled his growth. He is happy and healthy and is making excellent progress at school.


French are arrogant and do not like outsiders Not true Most people living in France, and most tourists, know this is mainly false; yet the myth has been around for a long time and will likely persist. There are a couple of explanations. One has to do with language. French people are taught to be proud of their language and do not always like it when people make no attempt to speak it. And, although most younger people now have had at least a few years of English in school,

In this column we look at the ‘truths’ everyone ‘knows’ about France the standard of spoken English among older people is not generally high so replying to English with French could be construed as not liking outsiders but might simply be a lack of language skills, just the same as the English-speaker is showing in this example! Another point to make is the notion of service in French res-

Practical 21


taurants and cafés. Waiters are not, like elsewhere, casual workers but, often, full professionals offering efficient service albeit with, sometimes, no small talk. Many have undergone two years of formal training – they can hold one of five different qualifications for waiters – and there are specialist courses at écoles d’hôtellerie, which are usually privately run. There is also on-the-job training without formal qualification. It is a serious job and good waiters can earn much more

than the minimum wage and are treated with respect. Looked at in a different way, you can say the French are outstandingly social and generous with 23 million people (in a country of 66.9m) being part of a charity or association that covers everything from sport and culture to food banks and other social goals often involving foreign causes. Latest figures (2016) show there are 12.7m volunteers among those 23m so that is a lot of people working together for the common good.

Connect direct to state sites to avoid the fakes FACED with an increase in the number of false – but legal – websites charging high fees for free state services, the government has launched a way for residents to click through from one official site to others via a button called FranceConnect. The button links three main sites, the official tax site impots. gouv.fr, health services site ameli.fr, and postal service www.idn.laposte.fr with a oneclick way to access other public services online and thus avoid the official-looking fakes. Anyone searching online to change address on a carte grise car registration document will be shown sites charging €89 for

the free service or €39 for a free extrait de casier judiciaire (which people need for a citizenship application) as government sites are not ranked so highly by search engines. Now, by logging in to the tax, health or postal sites, users can click FranceConnect to go directly and without signing-in again to 90 government sites. Official sites can also be safely accessed via the gateway site service-public.fr that has valuable up-to-date information on state services. It covers areas from boating and hunting licences to housing benefits and consumer protection to registering a birth or a death.


Try the train for days out

Photo: Mouliric CC BY-SA 4.0

The Connexion

Trains may not be the most obvious transport to show visitors a region, particularly with recent strikes; however, there are some worthwhile deals. Each region has cheap offers and special tourist deals on its Transport Express Régional (TER) trains. Regions are independent of each other so packages vary and are often tailored to local needs. In PACA-Région Sud, for example, a €30-a-year Zou! card is open to all ages, without conditions and offers a 50% discount on all TER journeys (any time of the day). This can be extended to three other people travelling with you, allowing you to leave the

car at home and bypass the issue – and costs – of finding parking. Areas with cultural festivals also have deals, like Brittany’s Offre Festival with €18 return tickets to any station, often with free buses to and from several partner music events. Certain tourist sites, such as Cité du Chocolat Valrhona in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, offer reductions for TER users and ski stations also have deals for skiers arriving by train with bus shuttles and cut prices. Normandy’s Pass Découverte at €20 gives weekend travel in the region for two adults and three under-12s or with three adults added for €5 each.

Fly-tippers may get the bill ANYONE caught fly-tipping or illegally dumping rubbish could face fines of €450 plus a bill for clean-up costs as mayors can order them to clear the mess or pay to have this done. Since a ruling by the top administrative court, the conseil d’état, in October mayors are liable to enforce a clear-up and should use their police powers to tell the culprit to sort the clean-up. In addition, anyone using a vehicle to dump rubbish faces having it confiscated. An environmental study found people dumped 81,000 tonnes of rubbish in the countryside each year – including 4,900 tonnes collected by autoroute clean-ups – and 60kg of cigarette ends, cans, bottles and other waste every second.

Stop calls while driving A PHONE app helps motorists to ignore calls or texts that may disturb them – and possibly cost them a €135 fine – by blocking them and automatically sending back a message saying the person is driving. Called Mode conduite, it uses motion sensors on Android phones to block calls and texts while the car or motorbike is moving then lets the driver

know once stopped. Users can also give a personalised reply. The app was developed with the Sécurité Routière road safety agency and can be switched off if using a train or bus. Apple’s iPhones has a built-in feature ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’. Go to Settings> Control Centre>Customise to set it. Windows phone users go to Settings>Driving mode.


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The Connexion August 2018



Directory 23


Transportation company delivers “anything legal” Possessions getting “lost” en route – this is a removal horror story heard time and time again. However reliability, trustworthiness and respect are qualities and the cornerstones of the service that George White European provides to its customers. “At George White European we pride ourselves on our old-fashioned values,” said George. “We really look after all our clients. We offer a bespoke service to each and every one, and always ensure that goods and belongings are delivered on time, safely and without any problems.” Having started driving over 30 years ago George has obtained an award from the European Road Transport Union for three million kilometres of safe driving. George Steve and Mick are highly knowledgeable about French and British roads and have been specialising in southwest France for more than 15 years,

always delivering and picking up when expected, at the agreed price. Over the years the company has evolved into a trusted network of like-minded ownerdrivers and are able to cope with up to 80 pallets a week from their warehouse and storage facility near Nottingham. The team consists of Mick, David, (the warehouse manager) Steve, and of course George. Also Ray who has panel vans and Lee who drives a large low loader. It is not just removals that George White European team transport to and from France, the company delivers anything from bathrooms, furniture, kitchens, cars,

fencing, horse feed, doors, windows and building materials to tractors, diggers, dumpers, trailers and anything else what will go legally into a trailer. All customers need to do is email enquiresgwe@gmail.com for a quote and then arrange for their goods to be delivered to the warehouse near Nottingham. The company can act as a bespoke local haulage service to collect your goods. There are Travis Perkins and a B&Q depots close to the warehouse which will deliver larger building materials direct to the warehouse for you. “Customers just get in contact with the Builders Merchants, email us that the goods are on their way and they come straight to our warehouse,“ said George, “And, as a special bonus, any customer having goods delivered from our depot can also order a small supermarket shop as an added extra.” Depending on the areas being collected Christine Haworth-Staines UK Chartered Psychologist

Psychology & Counselling From private practice in Toulouse & Mielan Or via Skype

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from and delivered to, the minimum load could be as little as 1 pallet size of trailer floor space, 1200mm x1000mm. A linear metre of removals, ex our warehouse (which is 2.6m tall and 2.4m wide and 1.0m long), with prices from as little as £240 + VAT. At the other end of the scale, a full 13.6m-long load (max 24 tonnes) of domestic removals can be handled for around £2,800 + VAT, depending on the locations involved. As the team typically operate a weekly service along routes from Dieppe or Le

FRENCH CONVERSATION VIA SKYPE Friendly individual French tuition with English speaking French lady

www.french-tuition-online.com lucie@french-tuition-online.com 04 68 58 33 42 / 06 24 52 00 37


All are qualified, work with a professional code of ethics and assure confidentiality.


Sworn Translations


Help with the French System


l l

Paperwork, Phone calls Translation, Interpreting

HOUSES ON INTERNET Sell your property to a worldwide audience using our global network. Our fees are the lowest in France, our results are the best. WWW. HOUSESONINTERNET.COM

Don’t forget


Chartered Institute of Linguists Associate (not sworn translator)

Friendly, experienced, reliable - Competitive rates

+33 645 587 956 | nc-languages@orange.fr www.nc-languages.com


Join Us Today

Free floor plan included

www.arbfrenchproperty.com info@arbfrenchproperty.com TEL: 0044 (0) 1803 469367


Cedric Mitchell Architecte Bilingual French registered architect offers full or partial architectural service, Permis de Construire applications undertaken.

Tel: 00377 93 25 42 68 France Tel: 0044(0) 1243 773166 UK Mobile: 07703 525050 cedricm@about-architects.com www.about-architects.com R.I.B.A. / ORDRE DES ARCHITECTES (Provence - Alpes - Cote d’Azur)

For French-themed gift ideas

see our shop at connexionfrance.com

BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT NETWORK Are you grieving for a loved one and needing to talk? We support the bereaved and terminally ill, face to face in the Var, and by telephone elsewhere in France.

www.bsnvar.org info@bsnvar.org 04 94 84 64 89 between 07:00 and 23:00 06 32 35 31 24

Planning a trip? TRAVEL INSURANCE

Siret: 397549551

Tel; +44 (0)1952 460607 Mobile; +44 (0)7802 355795 www.horsetransport.uk.net Deliveries all France

www.frenchpropertiesdirect.com info@frenchpropertiesdirect.com

00 33 (0) 2 33 59 17 07

The new way to buy & sell property in France

International pet Animal transport

French Properties Direct

Please contact Hilary Decaumont



+33 (0)6 23 03 85 59 +44 (0)7768 867360 enquiriesgwe@gmail.com www.georgewhiteeuropean.co.uk

Tel: +31 (0)6 41 20 73 69

Email: info@leapfrogservices.net

Tel: 01 48 62 87 25 CDG Paris Tel: 02 33 38 41 32 Normandy www.goldenwaypets.com

Havre to the southwest of France, the costs are kept low as the vehicles can be filled with other goods for much of the journey. “George White European gives great service at a great price,” said a recent customer. “Do not be fooled into thinking that they are too cheap – they are just honest.”

Buy or sell a French property privately. No estate agency fees to pay…….

Therapy and coaching in English Face-to-face, webcam, online, telephone, workshops, self-help, courses, residential retreats.


No. 61195004 – 61195001 Offices CDG Airport Paris Offices and Kennels Normandy

Using large multipurpose vehicles allows George White European to cut charges to customers

French without Fear Language in Languedoc

One-to-one tuition, professional teacher, Oxford degree, self-catering accommodation

campbellclaire53@yahoo.fr www.cours-a-cucugnan.com Tel: 06 78 15 19 29

Certified translations as required by CAF, Prefecture, Courts, Notaires (Births, Adoptions, Marriages, Deaths – Divorces – Wills – Companies House documents…)

Contact: 06 88 59 91 90 elisabeth.clavier474@orange.fr


Friendly Sorbonne Teacher, specialised beginners

Fun caring efficient - Mediterranean village myfrenchschool@gmail.com www.myfrenchschool.net Tel: 06 85 14 04 65

BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER If you are selling your French home our knowledgeable local team would be delighted to meet you as soon as possible.

n Free estimation A dedicated contact working as part of a team n Award-winning marketing n Thousands of registered buyers Freephone from France: 08 05 69 23 23 enquiries@beauxvillages.com www.beauxvillages.com n

Pre-existing medical conditions cover option Penny at GSAR Brokers

pennym.gsar@wanadoo.fr 05 53 40 15 71

SwissLife Insurance British staff only Since 1898, we have specialised in top-up health, home, car insurance and private banking. Please call Peter and Lawrence On: 05 56 28 94 64 Web: swisslife-health-insurance.fr agence.bordeaux.theatre@swisslife.fr






PIONEER FRANCE Hundreds of practical questions are answered in Connexion helpguides Order downloads at


24 Directory



The Connexion August 2018


Sellers appreciate high standard of marketing for their property Adrian and Jacqui Bunn run ARB French Property, a website which specialises in the marketing of private for sale homes. To help sellers find UK and International buyers, ARB French Property employ an array of proactive methods. As well as a presence on the ARB site, their marketing strategy makes sure every property appears non-stop on leading web sites such as Rightmove. As Adrian explains “At ARB it has been our philosophy right from the start to offer the same high standard of marketing for all properties, all year round. This is why all homes for sale on our site benefit from up to 30 photos, an extensive description and free floor plan. What’s more, our most popular

scheme, Platinum Plus, includes a visit to photograph, floorplan and provide advice on how best to present the home. “This year has been the busiest so far for sales. The biggest increase has been in the number of British buyers, many believing they now only have 2 years to make a move to France before Brexit. Our marketing also finds Dutch, Belgian and French buyers. This success means that we now need more stock in every region throughout France.” Jacqui continues, “Our clients tell us they find our approach works. They prefer it to the route taken by many other private advert sites who simply leave sellers to fill in blank boxes on a website with no guidance or input. We want all our clients’ homes to look as good as they can and attract as much interest as possible from the potential buyers. We are always pleased when we get such positive feedback.” A recent advertiser commented ‘Great advert, brilliant photos,

I may even buy it myself!’ while a buyer praised our methods with ‘We love the savings and transparency of your service’” ARB specialise in finding English speaking buyers for English speaking sellers helping them to buy and sell privately. “The idea of a private sale is one the French have long taken advantage of, knowing how much money it can save both parties,” says Adrian. “What we strive to do is not only make this cost saving possible for our clients, but to do so without compromising on the quantity and quality of the marketing of their home. “If your home will appeal to an English buyer, if you have struggled to find a buyer, if you want the extensive marketing and coverage your home deserves, call us at ARB French Property.” +44 (0)1803 469367 info@arbfrenchproperty.com www.arbfrenchproperty.com

Heslop & Platt


Agence International

Solicitors & French

Tel: 05 63 94 08 91 Mobile: 06 83 32 65 15

Dedicated English speaking agency staffed by native English speakers

Law specialists


• • • • • •

Insurance Health insurance Pensions & Investments Life assurance Banking & lending Business insurance

Tel: 05 61 07 16 84 agence.international@axa.fr www.axa-in-france.fr

For Daily updates see



Regulated Insurance Broker Independent not tied to one company, best price & quality We can meet all your insurance needs Health (top up or private), House, Car, Business / Commercial Email: nchubb@asttral.com Tel: 04 68 32 41 20 Web: www.asttral.com Siret No: 411 673 106 00018

French & UK Mortgages

House Purchases, Capital Raising, BTL, Renovations, Remortgages, Bridging Loans. +44 (0)1189076586 +33 (0)7 80 00 62 97 +44 (0)7990934612 bluebaymortgages.co.uk



Accountants and Tax Advisors Paris & London offices Services offered in France and UK Tax Returns n Accounts n Business setup n Payroll n VAT

Paris Tel: +33 142931842 London Tel: +44 845 680 1638 Email: info@nle-accounting.com

Providing quality, professional and efficient French legal advice in English Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930

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INDEPENDENT BROKERS Working with selected insurers to find the best policy for your needs at competitive rates MOTOR, HOUSE, MEDICAL

Exclusive Healthcare Your Helping Hand to the French Health System


+33 (0) 4 94 40 31 45

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





HOME - CAR - HEALTH We insure UK registered cars for up to 12 months


(call Angeline) - 02 33 49 12 34 agence.lecomte@axa.fr

New! Brexit and Britons in France helpguide What’s next and what to expect with interviews, analysis, reader stories and an overview of the practical issues.

Order at connexionfrance.com


Advice on all aspects of living in France, buying/selling, French administration, income tax, etc... Competent, experienced. Contact me now for your free consultation.

Rachel THOMAS-BONNET LLB Hons +33 (0)6 62 78 39 77 perfidealbion@bbox.fr Visit me at

or sue.davage@wanadoo.fr 82120 Marsac


Bespoke renewable energy heating systems including solar, wood /pellet , ASHP, UFH ... More information on our website.

Tel : 07 67 04 07 53 info@enershop.eu



Specialists in supplying quality New and Pre-owned French registered vehicles We buy LHD/RHD vehicles Part-exchanges welcome Unlike UK LHD specialists we handle all the paperwork and re-register the vehicle in your name at our premises! French registered, English owned company

Tel 0033 (0)4 74 43 89 51 or 0033 (0)6 84 85 04 61 gary.automobiles@wanadoo.fr


Cars, motorhomes and vans wanted Both LHD and RHD.

Also part-exchange. Collection in the UK or France. Polite service. Please email, text or telephone and we will call you back.

sunnyskycars@gmail.com or Tel +33 (0) 6 88 07 20 36 +44 (0) 7473 293494

Fuel saving, efficient, wi-fi connected INSTALLERS also wanted Full training, support www.ecopowereurope.com paul@ecopowereurope.com

Just Kitchens A complete service from planning to installation

Suppliers of German kitchens by Häcker And English Kitchens and furniture by Neptune Plus a range of work surfaces and appliances Visit our website: www.justkitchens.fr Or call for a chat: All of France with showrooms in the South West

FOSSE SEPTIQUE TREATMENT An ecological alternative to a pump out www.eco-tabs.biz


SSAFA FRANCE The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association

Help available for ex-servicemen and their families living in France Email: France@ssafa.org.uk France-wide answer service Tel: 05 53 24 92 38 The national charity helping serving and ex-Service men, women and their families, in need Registered Charity No. 210760. Est 1885

Electric Underfloor Heating Kits Extensions and New Build Tiles, Wood/Laminate Floors Insulation Boards Contact for Quotation info@chaleurosol.fr www.chaleurosol.fr


Movers - Shippers - Storers

Full and Part Loads throughout Europe Tel +44 (0)23 8065 2630 Email moving@cranburys.co.uk www.cranburys.co.uk

Tel: 06 27 66 33 74

Regions: All France - Siret: 502962772

SkyInFrance Latest Sky & Freesat decoders supplied & installed Sky subscriptions available without UK address.

Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.com Siret - 48003796900015

FRANCE & UK COLLECTION Delivery and Removals Full or Part Loads

REALISTIC PRICES Call Steve: 05 49 97 11 25 stephen.short@wanadoo.fr Siret: 50323244900010A

The Connexion August 2018




Directory 25

The best way to furnish your property in France Furniture for France has many years’ experience of supplying high quality furniture to its customers FURNITURE for France is now in its fifteenth year of supplying quality furniture to properties in France.

New French inspired oak furniture designs being introduced for 2018


Light Haulage Ltd. UK-France-UK Man with a van service  Reliable, ex-police  Fully insured, competitive rates 

For further information please call Mick or Helen on Tel: UK 0333 022 0359 Fr: 07 68 64 22 54 www.milenlighthaulage.co.uk info@milenlighthaulage.co.uk


REMOVALS UK - FRANCE - UK • Weekly Service • Full & Part Loads • Container Storage • BAR Members • On-line Quotation • Estimates in France

00 44 1722 414350 info@reflexmoodys.com www.reflexmoodys.com Company Regn No: UK 5186435 TVA / VAT No: UK 864 7217 04

George White European Transport Special rates to S/W France 13.6m/45ft trailer - Full/Part loads Removals/ materials/vehicles 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 www.georgewhiteeuropean.co.uk

CHEAP PARCELS TO FRANCE One simple price up to 25Kg Delivery in 3 - 4 working days The savvy expat’s favourite service!

Tel: 0044 1738 633220 www.pharosparcel.com

Need Urgent Documents Delivered? Need a Full/Part Load? For all your Courier & Transport Needs


Gateway International for more information

+33 (0)6 77 75 97 14 or +44 (0) 1483 808686 info@gatewayinternational.co.uk www.gatewayinternational.co.uk

The company specialises in providing clients with a customised service that offers good quality UK-sourced furniture without the hassle of arranging delivery and ordering furniture in the UK. Furniture for France works with its customers all the way from the initial enquiry through to installing the furniture in their homes Offering advice on all aspects of a customer’s order, such as sofa coverings, wood finishes and delivery schedules, ensures they are kept informed every step of the way. “With 15 years’ experience and thousands of deliveries under our belts throughout France, we have encountered almost everything and put that to good use when advising and helping customers find the right furniture for their property in France,” said the company’s managing director Brian Muir. The delivery service offered includes room

by room installation of all furniture ordered, this includes assembly of all oak beds and wardrobes as these come in sections for ease of access to difficult staircases. All other items are solid, no assembly pieces. Our deliveries are timed to the hour on the agreed date of delivery. The Furniture for France face book page will keep you up to date with all the latest news. Six new ranges of oak have recently been introduced, including traditional styles in a rustic finish. With competitively priced solid oak furniture it is no wonder Furniture for France had its best ever year in 2017. In addition to the new oak furniture a choice of 12 different paint colours are now available on all pine furniture. Wood samples can also be sent out to customers if required. “With delivery costs starting at just £59 for any quantity of furniture, there really isn’t a better or easier way to furnish a property in



Moving to or from France? Weekly services to & from France

Full or part loads, 4 wks free storage, 35 Years experience Bar Member Contact: Anglo French Removals Tel: +44 (0) 1622 690 653

A wide range of quality indoor furniture and sofas supplied and delivered direct to your French property saving you time and money. Full installation of all furniture Delivery from just £99 Tel 06 46 49 73 45 info@furnitureforfrance.co.uk www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk

Love French Interiors


Wide choice of finish options. Full customisation possible.

Bespoke Design service available. Delivery throughout France.


0044 (0) 20 3474 0092

WOODBURNERS Ash Grove Stoves Supplier of Hunter - Parkway


English Run

5 Star accommodation for Dogs/Cats l l l l l

Underfloor heated kennels Qualified staff Top Quality food and exercise Only 45 minutes south of Caen Convenient Ferry Access

www.goldenwaypets.com Telephone 02 33 37 49 19 Emergency 02 33 38 41 32 Fax 02 33 38 44 16

Sure Sweeps Formally HETAS, & NACS registered Fully Insured - No Mess Competitive Rates 02 14 15 58 52 suresweeps@legrandcamelia.com

Steve Hayward Carpentry, masonry, plastering, kitchens, replacement windows and doors

www.mesnilrenovation.com Tel. 02 31 09 26 54 Siret 48423125300010

Loft conversations / installation. Plaster-boarding. Brick & blockwork. Lime & traditional pointing. Rendering. Tiling & wood treatments Tel: 02 96 83 97 49 / Mob: 06 58 04 51 46 adrian.lenabaker@hotmail.fr

Siret 51442634500013 - Covering Depts 22, 35, 56

Tel: 00 44 (0) 1392 861579 www.ashgrovestoves.com sales@ashgrovestoves.com

Greetings Cards

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasion, Christmas, Hand-made and Open - From €1.00 Hand Written Service Available

Tel: 02 97 60 27 21 enquiries@englishcardsinfrance.net

www.englishcardsinfrance.net Siret: 538 583 60000019

Pete's Roofing Covering the Gard

All types of roofs renewed / repaired Velux roof windows - Guttering

04 66 72 75 84


Clean Burn - Fire Visible Boiler versions available Deliveries all over France Prices on our website Lowest Prices Guaranteed

All France

see our shop at connexionfrance.com

Chenil Les Mille Calins

Premier Renovations


For unique and Frenchthemed gift ideas

1800 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 contact@angloagence.com Dinan, Brittany

Hand crafted from Mahogany.


Tel: +44 (0) 1304 822 844

English registered cars House insurance - Health cover

French Reproduction Furniture.

Email: info@anglofrenchmail.com www.anglofrenchremovals.co.uk

Convenient, Flexible, Secure Working with your Movers 24/7 Access


Furniture for France



France,” said Mr Muir. Throughout 2017 sofas continued to be the best-selling individual item for the company. Loose-covered designs are always top of the list with the introduction of more complex fabric patterns and colours allowing customers to custom cover the sofa of their choice. “This process can take some Stylish Highcleare fixed cover sofa design time to work through, but as the product has a life expectancy of introduce great ranges of furniture for over 15 years, it pays to get it right,” said Mr delivery to our customers in France without Muir. Furniture for France makes deliveries compromising on quality or service.” as far afield as Geneva and Nice, as well as locally to customers in the Dordogne, the 06 46 49 73 45 Lot, Charente and Limousin. info@furnitureforfrance.co.uk Mr Muir added: “We will continue to www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk

Siret No: 50066265500017

Multi-Service - Builders

English TV in your French Home

Everything from repairs and maintenance to complete A-Z renovation and decoration. References – Professional – Reliable

Karl - 06 04 45 63 57 / Paul - 06 34 95 19 71

Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy

longden888@lycos.com www.roofingbuildingservices.com

Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice



02 97 27 58 50 www.tvbrittany.com

Need someone to help with property maintenance problems, home improvements, renovations, Exteriors, Gardens & Pools.

Contact Anthony Main 0033 (0)4 30 34 17 90 email: anthonymain.fr@gmail.com

www.midibuilder.com Siret 4846 8735 500012

26 Directory

05 SOUTH west


The Connexion August 2018


Complete solution to fosse septique problems There’s little worse than a smelly or blocked fosse septique, but there is a simple, ecological and costeffective treatment, say Eco-tabs Europe founders Shelly and Tim Burns-O’Regan WITH costly emptying charges and the potential to smell or get blocked, fosse septiques can be a homeowner’s nightmare. But an innovative product now exists which not only takes away the need to empty your fosse, but also removes odours and reduces blockages. Eco-tabs are purely bacterial-based, not a combination of enzymes like many competitive products. They help to increase overall system efficiency, reduce costly maintenance and eliminate the need for

toxic chemicals and special handling procedures. The tablets work by oxygenating the water in the fosse, removing hydrogen sulfide odours, preventing corrosion, and initiating aerobic biological breakdown of organic sludge, including oils and grease. Store bought products that are enzyme based liquify the solids for them to reform later. So you will still need to pump out your tank. Eco-tabs degrade the solids and remove those pesky odours. Company founders Shelly and Tim BurnsO’Regan say: “Our company is founded on the core belief that eco-friendly, non-toxic waste treatment products have become a necessity in today’s environmentally sensitive and fragile ecosystem. We also provide excellent customer service and follow up as fed back from our customers.” An eco-tabs Clean out Pack starts at 66€ ( exc TVA, p+p) for a standard 3000 litre

tank compared to the cost of a pump out truck ranging from 125€ up to 400€, this is a no-brainer. “Simply flush a tablet down the toilet each month to maintain a healthy fosse septique. Or, as an alternative to pumping out, use two tabs and one bag of our Shock powder and watch the magic. “Not only do the tabs oxygenate the water, which removes the odours, the sludge is eaten away by the bacteria. The result: a clean fosse which does not need to be pumped out… all that remains is water.” Eco-tabs are compatible for old septic tanks right through to the new microstation systems. To ensure that you are only buying the products necessary for your tank, we offer a Personalised Treatment Plan which will recommend the ideal products for you. Visit: www.eco-tabs.biz and click on the link for a Personalised Treatment Plan.

Jardins du Périgord

Plastering, Pointing, Crepi, Tiling, Plasterboard, Insulation, Painting Call: 05 65 10 76 90 Email: plasterthelot@yahoo.com

High quality work by qualified gardeners


Electrician Friendly, Experienced, UK Qualified, French Registered Rewires, Installation, Fault Finding Tel 07 83 05 29 43 Email alderson.gary@orange.fr

For more information, visit the website or contact Tim on +33 (0)6 35 96 95 12 www.eco-tabs.biz info@eco-tabs.biz

Plaster The Lot Qualified English Artisan

Aude / Herault Gary Alderson

Eco-tabs are 100% ecological and mean you don’t need to pump out your fosse

Siret: 53068838100017 Regions Covered: 46, 19

- Design - Creation - Garden management


Hundreds of practical questions answered in Connexion helpguides Ideas new


Issue 8

Macron is bringing in

Photo: Wikipedia


FRANCE’S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER Hors serie / special publication from

Moving to and Living in France


What changes for Britons in France and those on way l Buying a home l Aid for renovation l Working l Tax l Pensions l Healthcare


SINGLE TIER UK PENSION + Topping up from abroad

Pensions in France

UK ƒƒ British, French pension ƒƒ and EU ƒƒ pensions

Make the most of retirement


ƒƒ Taxation and social charges




Would you become French?

Hors serie / special publication from

What you need

+ Inspirational real life stories

BRExIT ƒƒ Important Questions and answers changes EU ƒƒ from this year QROPS


France's new

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Who has knowto ! to pay

We are! Here’s why...

property wealth tax 2018 Investments

What must be included and what is exempt

Especially written for Britons living in or moving to France

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How to declare

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The Cats Inn

Luxury Cattery - Cales near Lalinde - Very Spacious - Lots of Love and Attention Tel: Paula 05 53 24 14 42 www.thecatsinncattery.com paulaL24150@aol.com

The Fixer

Long established professional here to assist you with ALL your French admin, tax or business issues. 06.46253087 www.corporateandlegal.org mailthefixer@gmail.com

Bob Freeman

CONTACT PETER Maslen 05 53 31 95 88 / 06 86 94 85 78 peter.maslen@wanadoo.fr www.dordognecattery.com

Satellite and aerial systems installed and repaired. UK boxes available. Senior Sky engineer 05 53 06 08 65 bobfreeman@orange.fr www.digitalsatellites.fr


M 07245 - 15H - F: 9,50 E - RD


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ROBERT JONES ELECTRICITE Fully insured, registered electrician. Rewires, renovation, new builds, heating and A/C. Dépt. 47 Tél. 06 81 98 43 22 Email. info@agenelec.com www.agenelec.com

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Property Management Services

+ 33 (0)5 45 82 55 93 / + 33 (0)7 70 76 58 89 www.gapdm.com / jcs@gapdm.com

Siret No.520 980 269 00010


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ELECTRICIAN Experienced & French Registered. Available for all types of electrical work. Insured and guaranteed. Areas: 16,17,24,47

Tel: 05 46 86 07 61 Email: trevor.miell@btopenworld.com

484 432 323 00018 - Regions Covered: 24, 47, 33


Satellite Internet - Sonos Audio (systems) BBC iPlayer - Netflix - IPTV - VPN T: 06 80 55 06 09 E: mail@euroinstallations.com W: Euroinstallations.com Region: South West Siret: 4526 2188 1000 39


promotes sterilisation to improve the well-being of stray and pet cats in the rural villages of SW France.


to help run our charity shops and events. Donations are also gratefully received at Les amis des chats, 82150 Roquecor. See how you can support us by visiting www-les-amis-des-chats.com Registered charity no: W821000447

For gift ideas

see our shop at connexionfrance.com CHURCHES

Siret No. 49376573200015


Ordre des Architectes No. 1867

Swimming Pool Leak Detection and Repair

Les Amis Des Chats

Tel: 05 53 09 33 45 Fax : 05 53 09 36 12

Every Sunday: 11 am at BRENS CHURCH, GAILLAC

E: mail@parkesarchitecture.com W: www.parkesarchitecture.com Depts: 16,19,24,33,87

Info: 05 63 33 12 76 www.churchinmidipa.org



Creation, Garden Maintenance, Tree Surgery, Felling Property Services

04 68 26 61 22


Tel. 05 65 34 09 91

Working dept: south 19, 46


Sky In France

Sky, Freesat & French TV

Supplied & Fully Installed

Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.co.uk Please see our main advert in the Connexion

Paul the Plasterer


City & Guilds Qualified

Plastering, boarding, external pointing, painting and decoration Tel: 06 48 56 22 83 Email: pabroadley@yahoo.co.uk

All Gardening Work - Cutting Strimming - Hedge Trimming Clearance - Property Services Depts - 24,46,47 Tel: Bob & Tracy 06 42 82 44 96 Email: bob.groundwork@gmail.com siret : 48293447800017

Ironwood Motif

Wrought Iron Work Handrails Gates Railings Pergolas Stairs l





Inside & Outside l Made to Measure l Dept 46 Tel: 05 65 30 53 99 Email: info@ironwoodmotif.com Web: www.ironwoodmotif.com Siret 48119863800019

DEMPSEY TREE SURGERY CONTRACTORS British trained & qualified tree surgeon All tree work undertaken.

Tel: 05 45 65 96 86 Mob: 06 61 90 04 92 enquiries@dempseytreesurgery.com www.dempseytreesurgery.com Working in dept: 16, 17, 24, 87 Siret: 48930027700014


Chats du Quercy Cat rescue and Rehoming Charity

Where each cat recieves the best possible care and attention from the day it is admitted to the moment of its adoption. Please call to make an appointment on

05 63 94 73 97 www.chatsduquercy.fr


Call Alcoholics Anonymous.0820 200 257

www.aa-riviera.org Siret : 49197537100015

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS South West France Have you a problem? www.aafrance.net Or Call Shepperd Angela

The Connexion August 2018


Maximise your house sale proceeds Pioneer France ensures sellers receive the best currency rates possible for the transfer of their house sale proceeds

“It is shame when house sellers who have tried so hard to achieve the best price for their house then relinquish an unnecessary chunk of these funds by using old fashioned, expensive banking methods to repatriate their money back into sterling, dollars or whatever”, says Harris Raphael, Managing partner of France-based Pioneer France. “The seller often relinquishes thousands which could have been so easily avoided

had they used a specialist Foreign exchange broker. Our historic data shows that the average loss is around €3,500”, comments Harris. Historic data shows that sellers are much less likely than buyers to use the services of such a specialist. Harris believes that this is primarily because the profile of a typical seller is usually older than that of a buyer, with sellers more likely to have traditionally used a bank for their transfers, while being reluctant about using ‘newer methods’. “I understand this completely, especially when it concerns one’s major asset!”, says Harris “However, Pioneer France’s foreign exchange brokerage has been operating for over 35 years, is one of the world’s largest, trading over €13billion on behalf of over 20,000 clients a year, in over 80 currencies. “ It is also one of the very few that is fully authorised and regulated by the FCA, with the right of establishment in France”.


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Community events Worshippers are invited to Anglican church services held every Sunday in Bertric Burée, Dordogne. The first Sunday in the month sees a Service of the Word at 10.30, followed by Evensong at 18.00 during the summer. The second Sunday each month sees Holy Communion at 10.30 followed by a Bring and Share Lunch, while on the third Sunday there is a Family Service at 10.30. On the fourth Sunday, Holy Communion takes place at 10.30, then afterwards you are invited to join organisers for coffee following the service, in the Upper Room, 25 metres along the road opposite the church. They also have a large Book Barn, open during coffee time, where you will find hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs starting at 50cts each for books. See www.facebook.com/BertricBureeChurch for more information. All are welcome to Sunday mass, in English, at The Irish Chaplaincy, located at the beautifully restored Irish College, now the

Directory 27

“As such, our brokerage can provide our clients with security of funds and can give expert currency exchange guidance to aid our client’s decision making, which the banks are not licensed to do”, advises Harris. Pioneer France was recently voted number one for foreign exchange rates and service, so contact Harris and his team to find out more about saving thousands. 05 53 07 06 27 info@pioneerfrance.com www.pioneerfrance.com

The Pioneer France FX team, from left: Harris, Simon, Tanya, Zoe, James and Steven

Useful telephone numbers

Looking for English speaking ASTRONOMERS




EMERGENCY NUMBERS u 18: Emergencies: This number connects to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) but they deal with medical emergencies and should be the first port of call in life-threatening situations u 15: Samu (for other urgent medical call-outs) u 17: Police / Gendarmes u 112: Universal European Emergency Services number - from all phones including mobiles u 114: Emergency calls (hearing assisted) u 115: Emergency Shelter u 119: Reporting child abuse u 196: Sea and lake rescue u 197: Terror/kidnapping hotline u 01 40 05 48 48: Anti-poison centre u 09 726 750 + your department number e.g. 24 for the Dordogne): Gas & electricity emergencies u 3237: (0.35/min) Outside hours GP and pharmacy information (also available on www.3237.fr) TELECOMS u ORANGE Website in English: www.orange.com/en/home. To report a fault online: www.1013.fr English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00 u SFR: 1023 (+ 33 6 10 00 10 23 from outside France) u FREE: 1044 u BOUYGUES: New client: 3106 Forfait & Bbox: 1064 (+33 660 614 614) Forfait bloqué: 1022 (+33 664 00 20 20) Client à la Carte: 1034 (+33 668 634 634) Gas & electricity emergencies u EDF: 24 hour breakdown line: 09 726 750 + your department number (eg 24 for the Dordogne) Helpline in English: 09 69 36 63 83 (those calling from abroad may use 0033 17 17 30 101) Email: simpleenergywithedf@edf.fr GAS u Gas leaks: 01 43 35 40 87 WATER u Generale des Eaux Web: www.service-client.veoliaeau.fr Online form links users to the office dealing with their area u Ondeo Suez-Environnement Web: www.suez-environnement.com/en/homepage Tel: 01 58 18 50 00

EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES u British Embassy (Paris): 01 44 51 31 00 uBordeaux consulate: 05 57 22 21 10 uMarseille consulate: 04 91 15 72 10 uUK passport advice + 44 (0) 300 222 0000 (calls cost up to 12p/min from a UK landline - see French operators for exact cost) Mon - Fri: 8:00 - 20:00, Weekends: 9:00 - 17:30 OTHER EMBASSIES u Irish, Paris: 01 44 17 67 00 uUS, Paris: 01 43 12 22 22 uCanadian, Paris: 01 44 43 29 00 uAustralian, Paris: 01 40 59 33 00 uNZ, Paris: 01 45 01 43 43 uSouth African, Paris: 01 53 59 23 23 OFFICIAL AGENCIES u 3939 ALLO SERVICE PUBLIC: 3939 (+33 1 73 60 39 39 from outside France). Calling hours: 8:30 - 18:00 www.service-public.fr/ u CAF: www.caf.fr; Tel: 08 10 25 14 10 u CPAM (state healthcare): www.ameli.fr English-speaking helpline: 08 11 36 36 46 Calling hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30 - 17:30 u URSSAF: 3957 + department number u CLEISS: Social security advice when moving between countries: 01 45 26 33 41. Mon, Wed & Friday : 9:00 -12:30, Tues & Thurs : 14:00 -17:00, Some advisers speak English. OTHER HELP IN ENGLISH u Counselling in France: for a qualified therapist near you or counselling over the telephone; www.counsellinginfrance.com u Alcoholics Anonymous: regular meetings are held (some are in English) across the country. For a list of local English-language groups see: www.alcoholics-anonymous.eu u SOS Help: similar to the Samaritans, listeners who are professionally trained; Tel 01 46 21 46 46 (open 3:00-23:00 daily); www.soshelpline.org u Cancer Support France: for advice and someone to talk to. Tel: 0800 240 200 or email helpline@cancersupportfrance.org u English Speaking Cancer Association (Geneva-based): offering cancer support in Geneva, Vaud and French border areas. Tel: +41 (0) 22 791 63 05 or email info cancersupport.ch or www.cancersupport.ch u Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces (SSAFA): Tel: 0800 731 4880. Email: france@ssafa.org.uk

You can see more events and post your own at connexionfrance.com/community/events

Centre Culturel Irlandais (5 Rue des Irlandais in the 5th arrondissement in Paris). Starts at 11.30, tea and coffee served. www.irishchaplaincyparis.fr The Church of England Chaplaincy of Hérault is part of the worldwide community that is the Church of England. All Saints Hérault is a mixed group of different ages, backgrounds and traditions, who meet in the Chapel of the Eglise protestante unie de France in the village of Saint-Pargoire, 10 km north east of Pézenas. Church Life focuses around the service of Holy Communion on the second Sunday of the month at 10.30. Refreshments are served after the service, providing an opportunity to chat and make friends. They extend a warm welcome to all Christian people to join them at their services and church events, especially those new to their “parish”. To find out more, please visit: http://heraultenglishchurch.fr; send an email to achstp@gmail.com or telephone +33 (0)6 60 24 54 57.

Dog lovers are invited to join a sponsored dog walk in Saint-Sauveur de Bergerac, Dordogne on Saturday September 1. The walk is to help raise much-needed funds for animal charity, Pheonix Association. The walking route will be in and around the woodlands of the village and will cover a distance of approximately 8.5km. The event will start at 09.00 from the camper van parking area in Saint Sauveur. Please bring enough water for your dog and yourself. For more information or a sponsor form, please send an email to events@phoenixasso.com If you are unable to walk but would like to sponsor the walk, please visit www.phoenixasso.com/news-and-events/ events/ to donate. EuroMayenne is looking for amateur artists and craftspeople to exhibit their creations at their 24th annual Craft Fair, to be held on Sunday, October 28, 2018, 10.00 to 18.00, at Mayenne Exhibition Hall. 2017 saw 90 exhibitors and over 3,000

visitors. For further details and booking forms, email clotilde.sedouga@euromayenne.org or call 06 73 71 96 52; www.euromayenne.org/salon There are monthly Anglo-French lodge meetings for freemasons in Agen. All enquiries to Mike Dowsett, Tel: 05 63 94 52 25 or email lmdowsett@gmail.com Singers wanted! DoMiSol Chorale (right) has a few openings for motivated singers. Their chamber choir sings high quality music from all time periods in many languages. They prepare two programmes per year, which they perform several times in the Clermont-Ferrand area. They have several international singers, including their director, and welcome other internationals to the choir. Rehearsals are Fridays from 19.30-21.30, in French. If you are still learning the language, say organisers, this is a good way to improve, especially as the group is friendly and welcoming. “We are a serious choir so expect

to work hard. For example, we memorise all our music to give our performances more impact. Don’t let that put you off. It’s easier to memorise than you think,” they told Connexion. Contact Carol Zeven for an audition (not the scary kind, just to get to know your voice) on 04 73 70 90 08 or by email: carol.zeven@mac.com.

28 Directory



The Connexion August2018


Taking the paperwork and pain out of a left-hand drive vehicle purchase At Gary Automobiles near Lyon, convenience and quality are assured for customers buying a left-hand drive car ARE YOU looking to buy a left-hand drive vehicle for your new life in France? Gary Automobiles is an English-owned motor dealer based just outside of Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes, specialising in the supply of quality new and pre-owned, left-hand drive, French registered vehicles to expats moving to France. The company has been operating in France since July 1 2003 and customers only ever deal with Gary personally. Convenience for the customer is a key element in the company’s ethos, which is why Gary Automobiles now has the facility to register your vehicle in your name at

their premises – meaning there is need to worry about translation and paperwork issues. Gary will issue your new carte grise directly from his office and can even arrange your French motor insurance and transfer your no claims bonus. “I remember how hard it was to understand the French paperwork and red tape when I made the move over to France in 2001. I am happy to assist fellow expats and take that burden away,” says Gary. Reassuringly, they are fully French registered company with Siret / Siren / and TVA numbers and only supply vehicles with European specifications. For customers wishing to stay over and

visit the area (easyJet and Ryanair fly into nearby airports), Gary can come to collect you from the airport or train station, as well as arrange reservations or advise on local Lyonnais hotels. Another part of the service offered by Gary Automobiles is that they do not put people under pressure to make a purchase. They understand the logistics of moving abroad, so if they have a suitable vehicle in stock they we will keep it until you are ready to collect – with no time limitations. Part exchange with your right hand drive vehicle is also available, while the company

also provides a car sourcing service – meaning if they do not have the vehicle you want in stock, they will find it for you. For further recommendation, here are some previous customer comments: “Gary Automobiles made the whole process as painless as possible.” Colin Edwards “I have used Gary Automobiles to source and deliver a new car in France. Since I don’t speak French it was a delight to deal with Gary himself.” Tom Wall “Gary’s personal and English-speaking service has been really helpful and taken the hassle out of buying and keeping a car in France.” James Greig

As well as all that, Charlotte has been the best UK deaf female thrower in hammer, discus and shot put, for all age groups, for the past 2 years. Denise said, “Charlotte is now the youngest in her age group and has yet another year at this level to improve on her amazing achievements.” This year Charlotte has set her sights on being No. 1 in the UK in hammer and discus, representing the UK in the Under 18 European Championships in Hungary in August and competing in the School Games and Schools Track & Field International. Denise said, “Hopefully Charlotte will have a busy summer, competing in various national and international events, if she can

successfully win all the necessary qualifying events beforehand. She’s capable, so it’s definitely on the cards. Fingers crossed! You rarely find a thrower who does both hammer and discus to a high standard, so Charlotte will probably have to decide between them. It’s going to be a tough choice to pick which one.” The HARS team wish Charlotte all the best with her studies and athletic aspirations over the coming years. We hope to be watching her compete at major championships in the future. If, like Charlotte, you need your hearing aids repaired you can send them to us for a free, no obligation quote.

Gary Automobiles EURL Telephone: 0033 4 74 43 89 51 Mobile: 0033 6 84 85 04 61 Email: gary.automobiles@wanadoo.fr www.gary-automobiles.com

Gary at his office near Lyon

HARS help up-and-coming athlete The Hearing Aid Repair Shop (HARS) helps people of all ages, by expertly repairing their hearing aids. The day after Boxing Day we helped a young athlete by repairing her hearing aid so she could study for an important German GCSE mock exam at the start of the spring term. A member of Berkshire’s Newbury Athletic Club, Charlotte Payne has earned numerous accolades for her sporting achievements and was runner up at the Young Deaf Sports Personality of the Year in November 2016. Charlotte’s mum, Denise, said, “We turned up in the snow with my daughter’s hearing aid which had died over Christmas. We were met with a smile by the wonderful

team at HARS who helped us out on the spot. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and won’t go anywhere else from now on.” Charlotte competes in the throwing events – discus and hammer. In 2016, Charlotte was UK National Champion and UK No. 1 in Under 15 Discus and UK No. 3 in Under 15 Hammer. Last year Charlotte moved into Under 17 category and became UK No. 1 in Under 17 Hammer 4kg, UK No. 3 in Under 17 Discus, South England Under 17 Hammer Champion and championship record holder. She was also a silver medallist in hammer at the School Games and a bronze medallist in Under 17 Discus at the English Schools Championships.

For more details go to www.hars.co.uk, email info@hars.co.uk or call us on 00 44 1635 48724.

Box clever and even arrange for UK purchases to be delivered to you Watson European are expanding their current service of removals and storage to include the delivery of packing materials to your door. Andrea Watson, the proprietor of Watson European, explains. “Many customers find it difficult to locate suitable packaging material for their removals. Being based in the UK means that Watson European are able to source a wide variety of boxes in quantities to suit a client’s individual needs.” From full home removals to the individual pieces of furniture, Andrea’s team have the trade contacts to supply boxes, wrapping material and tape to ensure your belongings can be transported in perfect condition. With weekly services to France the Watson

European team can deliver the packaging to your door and collect the filled packages at a time to suit you ready for direct delivery to the UK. Andrea continues: “We also cater for those not in any particular hurry to move into their new home in France or who want to put affairs in order first by offering up to 60 days’ free UK based storage. Many clients take advantage of this offer. “Also due to the increased demand we have been experiencing, Watson European has invested in yet more specialised equipment to transport vehicles, home removals and even plant and machinery. With Brexit looming ever closer people are taking advantage of our services, both those establishing themselves in France or returning to the UK. “We also offer a delivery service to our regular customers in France when they wish to make purchases in the UK. Where

our customers order online from different suppliers in the UK we take delivery of the items and can store them for up to 60 days without charge. Once all the different orders / packages have arrived, our team delivers to the customer’s door in France.” With Watson European, you can rest assured that your belongings – and your stress levels – will be looked after. Andrea concludes: “For us it’s the small things that make the big difference. Moving home is often a stressful experience where the best-laid plans can go astray. Many of our clients remark on how having our friendly staff available at the end of phone is one of the most reassuring aspects of our service. Being there to deal with the smallest of detail is what our job is all about, whether you require relocation services, partial house removals of pre-packed items or a complete packing and delivery service of a full home.”

Watson European can deliver items safely to your door with great service www.watsoneuropean.co.uk Tel: Andy +44 (0) 7876 504 547 Dave +44 (0) 7515 722 772 Email: enquiry@watsoneuropean.co.uk

How to effortlessly keep your pool clean all summer A pool is an asset for making the most of the hot summer, but keeping its surface free from flies, wasps, leaves and fluff is a never-ending story. But help is at hand: on Jan’s site you can watch a stunning video that shows the PoolGobbler attracting all debris into its filter bag. IT IS hard to imagine how the PoolGobbler, such an apparently simple piece of equipment, can keep a whole pool surface free from floating debris, automatically and without any human intervention. It seems unbelievable, but on pools of up to 12 x 6 metres, its effective design means the entire pool area remains spotless. Jan van Gils introduced the PoolGobbler into the French market after coming across it in South Africa, where it has been marketed for over 15 years. Ten years ago he installed the product in his pool and now believes he could not do without it. But how does it work? “The secret to the PoolGobbler is a clever use of fluid dynamics,” said Jan. “Using the force of the water

returning into the pool from the filtration pump, it connects to one of the inlet jets where its design considerably increases the speed of the water flow. The high speed of the water then causes a pulling effect on the surface and, as a result, the circular flow that is created takes all floating debris to the PoolGobbler where it is caught in its filter bag.” Unlike many other pool appliances, the PoolGobbler is completely unobtrusive and positions itself neatly against the wall so it is possible to swim at all times. It also does not need any kind of electricity or cables, and is easy to install. Maintenance is also easy – just empty the filter bag when full. Jan’s company, Pure-Piscines, sells the patented product in France, and beyond,

through his website, which also features a movie of the PoolGobbler at work and comments from users. To order online, visit the website or send a letter with a French cheque (€59.95 for the PoolGobbler, plus €9.95 for an extra set of five filter bags and €6.50 for postage) to: Pure-Piscines (Jan van Gils), Le Bourg, 46700, Sérignac. Anyone who is not satisfied will get their money back. Pool professionals interested in selling the PoolGobbler, and those looking for more information, should contact Jan directly. 05 65 31 96 23 info@pure-piscines.com www.pure-piscines.com

The PoolGobbler will keep pools of up to 12 x 6 metres spotless and debris free

The Connexion August 2018




Bordeaux International School celebrates 30 years of excellence Achieve an excellent education while becoming bilingual at the Bordeaux International School. Located in the heart of Bordeaux, BIS offers 30 years of distinction and extended premises from September 2018. Voted European Destination 2015, Bordeaux is a rapidly developing, safe and family-friendly city on a very liveable scale, with a UNESCO riverfront and a new twohour high-speed rail link with Paris. At IGCSE and A Level BIS, students benefit from a tailored pedagogy and a 8:1 student-teacher ratio. Our teachers are highly experienced and enthusiastic, and

have a largely international profile, coming from many different nationalities. We are an official Cambridge International Assessment Education centre and are accredited by the Council of International Schools. Our high success rate of over 90% of students achieving grades A*-C is above the UK national average. IGCSE and A Level students profit from guidance on higher education and careers, with full coaching and support offered throughout the UCAS and universities application process. A dedicated A Level study hall is available, with a private desk for each student. The central campus boasts newly enlarged and renovated premises, creating a light, airy and more collaborative learning space, with a new science laboratory and media centre. Students benefit from the modern swimming pool and sports facilities in close proximity.

BIS offers an open, multicultural environment for students aged from 3 to 18 years, following an international programme for IGCSE and International A Level, taught mainly in English but with continued immersion in French. Our students can take part in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including cultural outings and after school clubs such as music, robotics, drama, and French club. They can also participate in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Full-time or weekly accommodation is possible with carefully selected local French host families, which allows them to learn French language and customs in a home environment. For full details, and to fill in an admissions request form see www.bordeaux-school.com.

Top tractor and machinery deals delivered to France Cowling Agriculture prides itself on friendly advice and excellent aftersales service – and all at competitive prices With 20 years of experience, Cowling Agriculture supplies tractors and machinery to smallholders and farmers in the UK and Europe. The company keeps 80 to 100 tractors in stock, both new and used, along with a comprehensive range of machinery. It also has a well-equipped workshop and proficient staff who service and repair used tractors and machinery. It specialises in putting together tractor and machinery packages for first-time tractor owners. Kim Cowling from the company said: “We take the time to listen to customers’ requirements so that we can supply a

competitively priced and suitable package. We are often able to supply tractors and machinery to customers in France for a much lower price than they could source them locally. We pride ourselves on our friendly advice and excellent aftersales service.” Cowling Agriculture has been a dealer for the Landlegend range of tractors – which Kim says are the best value and most popular compact tractor on the market – for more than 10 years. “The Landlegend 25hp tractor provides a very good spec for a very good price,” she said. “It is £5,395. It can easily be fitted with a 4in1 loader and backhoe, making it ideal for farmers, smallholders, self-builders and equestrian yards. Our second-hand tractors start from around £2,500 and come fully serviced, checked over and with a minimum of six months warranty. We can team these up with toppers, chain harrows, logsplitters or

rotovators etc.” For customers in France wanting to see the tractors and machinery in action, the company can put them in touch with one of its many existing tractor owners. Kim said: “We have 50-plus Landlegend tractors working in France, plus many other used tractors and individual machinery items. We have many customers who come back to us to add new machinery.” The company regularly has deliveries covering the UK, Ireland and France and the driver is able to fully demonstrate the tractors and machinery on arrival. It keeps machinery for all seasons and often runs special seasonal offers. The stock list can be viewed on the website. www.cowlingagri.com www.landlegend.co.uk + 44 1458 269210

22 500 €

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189 625 € 193 750 € 347 475 € WHY BUY THROUGH A HIGH COMMISSION AGENCY?

Directory 29

The Connexion

August 2018

Animals get boost from dedication of volunteers

Elizabeth Phillips tackles 365km ride

Animal charities inspired and run by Brits can be found all over France and continually strive to come up with novel ways to help. Alexandra Maldwyn-Davies was appalled at the number of stray cats and dogs and set up Les Puces charity shop and salon de thé in Poullaouen, Finistère three-and-ahalf years ago to raise money to help refuges take in more animals. “There was a lot of initial red tape but now we are an association with 30 volunteers. We aim to raise

Thanks for buying our France calendar!

THREE charities have benefited from the generosity of readers who bought The Connexion 2018 France charity calendar. We want to thank the hundreds of readers who allowed Connexion to donate €525 to each of Cancer Support France, Open Gardens /Jardins Ouverts, and the British Char­itable Fund The charities give invaluable help. Cancer Support France will use its €525 to create a handbook for its Active Listeners, the trained volunteers who work with Englishspeaking cancer patients, their friends and families. CSF president Penny Park­in­ son said they had wanted to create a handbook for some time: “We will take existing information held by our associations and add medical terms, health information sources such as the Connexion health guide and other welfare information to provide a comprehensive guide for France.” Mick Moat, president of Open Gar­dens/ Jardins Ouverts, said the money will help fund stands to be used at gardening events across France. Now in its sixth year, OG/JO began when four British gardeners in Creuse opened their gardens to help charity, and the idea caught on. Today, 40% of the gardens are French owned. Last year they gave €23,500 to 11 French charities and Mr Moat said publicity is essential for expansion: “We are attending more and more plant fairs and professional presentation is essential if we are to convince the public we are serious.

Community 31


“The cheque will help us add flair, style and vitality to our stands. Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts is so grateful to Connexion for the support they give us on an ongoing basis.” The British Charitable Fund was created in 1823 to help ease the poverty of British migrant workers and their families in Paris. Nearly 200 years later there is still poverty among the British in France and the charity gives financial support to those who find themselves, for whatever reason, without sufficient resources to live on. Chairwoman Julia Kett said: “We are delighted. It came at just the right moment; just before sending summer cloth-

Mick Moat of Open Gardens ing grants for children in families we are helping this year.” Connexion will be producing a 2019 France charity calendar with €3 from each sale going again to our selected charities. Orders placed by November 26 will be at the special price of €12.90 (plus P&P). After that, calendars are €15 (plus P&P). Ordering opens on our website shop in September.

€1,000 a month for local charities and a refuge in Romania. We also use some money to sterilise, chip and vaccinate stray cats. We rehomed 50 cats and two dogs, but would rather concentrate on the fund raising.” She would welcome new volunteers (find Les Puces Boutique on Facebook). One woman helping is Elizabeth Phillips, 62, who is cycling 365km mostly by the Nantes to Brest canal in stages to fundraise for Les Puces. “It is great to do something like this and I’m happy our furry friends will benefit. I

love the ride; it is stunningly beautiful and so peaceful.” In Dordogne, Mike and Leeanne Whitley run Twilight retirement dogs home at St-Paul-La-Roche and looking after elderly dogs is their life’s work. They look after old and sick dogs and have looked after more than 300 animals since they opened. Volunteers help and also raise money as each dog costs about €1,000 a year. Mrs Whitley said they never set out to create a refuge but now could not imagine doing anything else: “We

Rehearsals are in full swing for Vagabond as they look back to the days of Nell Gwynn

There’s more (much more) to theatre than playing around AS THE Vagabond Theatre Company in Gers nears final rehearsals for their next show in September, director Ann Jones offers her experience of putting on plays in France to give pointers to anyone who is thinking of setting up their own company. She says theatre gives an opportunity for people to do something creative, something they may have never done before and is a good way of integrating into the local community, even though the performances are in English: “I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of making links with the mairie, other amateur dramatic societies and schools. You will be surprised how willing they all are to help. “The mairie can find rehearsal rooms and somewhere to perform. Other associations may have props you can borrow and

you can lend them yours in return. “English teachers may include your play in lessons and encourage students to go. We always help the French in the audience with a very detailed resumé of plot and characters so they can follow the action.” Putting on a play in a public venue with paid-for tickets is very different, she says, from acting for friends in a private place: “You must commit time and energy as there is always more to do than thought. “I advise registering as an association. Music copyright rules are very strictly controlled by the Sacem musical rights society, which can fine you for non-declared music. If we are using a published play we pay through an English agency. “Good publicity and links with the local press can help. It is important to have a strong, committed team to share tasks.”

Back-breaking work pays off at chateau BACK-breaking work by volunteers has helped stabilise the crumbling chateau at St Blaise near Nice and, with trees cleared, allowed it to be seen from the village. Local group Le Castel did the work and vice-president Dave Taylor-Jones said: “It has sprung out of the forest and become a much more important part of life here. “The commune bought it from a private owner and financed the shoring up of the tower which had a big fissure.” A retired structural engineer who has lived in the village for 30 years, Mr TaylorJones said: “It has been very exciting to

love our life. It is sad we are still needed but we have come to accept it is inevitable that there will always be older dogs that owners can no longer look after, and that most people don’t want when they are looking for a pet. “We are just happy we can extend their lives so they die a natural death. “It is getting harder as we are not getting any younger; Mike is 70 and some of our volunteers are 75- 80, but we will keep on going for as long as we can.” For more information see twilightchiens.com

See also Page 27 for Community events take part. Not everyone has a medieval castle they can help restore and it has been wonderful to work with my friend and neighbour, Christian Canac, the driving force behind the project.” Mr Taylor-Jones also writes and one of his stories based on the chateau was translated into French and turned into a play, put on in the chateau grounds (see photo right). “Logistically, it was a big challenge to put on a play at a site so remote from

access roads and electricity. We had to carry all the props, costumes and sound system 1km from the forest road.” The story, If Only Stones Could Talk, tells of the ghost of a young man who died in the dungeon and haunts the ruins. It was played by local theatre group Ni d’Eve, Ni d’Adam. “It was great to see something I’d written come alive by being acted out in the crumbling magnificence of the chateau,” he said. He has also written a book, Another Side of France, with 22 short stories and essays about life in France.

The right play is vital: “There always seems to be a shortage of men, so this latest play has an all-female cast. It is possible to ‘gender bend’ in a creative way. I spend a great deal of time finding the right play.” Vagabond’s latest looks at the first actresses allowed to perform on stage after the Restoration, famously including Nell Gwynn. The Playhouse Creatures by April de Angelis, is on September 8 and 9 in the Salle de La Comédie, Lectoure. Twice a week rehearsals over six months “means we have time to allow for absences. Our members are not professionals and they have other commitments.” The hard work is well worth it, she says: “I love watching the play come together and I like to think we are now part of the cultural life in Lectoure.” To book: floyd.lucy@googlemail.com ‘It was a challenge to put on a play at so remote a site’

32 Practical


Recycled sea plastic is made into floor tiles... and a boat AFTER seeing tonnes of plastic littering a beach in Senegal, a young entrepreneur has started a business turning the waste into flooring tiles and panels, creating jobs in both France and Senegal. Marius Hamelot launched La Sasminimum as a circular economy business to use HDPE material to create useful objects from the 98million tonnes of plastic that is not recycled each year. That led to Le Pavé, the first floor tile made from 100% recycled plastic – but also in the creation of the recycled panels used by Plastic Odyssey, the planned round-the-world research boat that is made of – and powered by – plastic. By June, the firm in Paris with Marius and two others had notched up its first tonne of recycled plastic that had been reused to make tiles, plastic sheeting and bathroom panelling. Mr Hamelot said: “We created Le Pavé but we also develop other ideas and work with other businesses in the circular economy. It is vital that we find a way to give plastic waste a value.” Partner firm Proplast in Sen­egal employs 1,000 collectors in the west African country to pick up plastic in the streets and off Atlantic beaches. It is sorted into different types with the HDPE being melted and extruded into coloured plastic beads to be reused for other objects, such as Le Pavé. Tiles, like ‘click’ laminate flooring with a tongue and groove fitting, come in marble effect of different colours. Average price is €70-€200/m2 and flooring can be made to suit client needs.

The Connexion

August 2018

black box is Have fun at the beach E85 legal and fuel is but beware currents just €0.69/litre WITH around 150 deaths by drowning on French beaches last year, divided almost equally between the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, holidaymakers should beware the dangers and, if there are flags flying, do what they say. Beaches on the Atlantic coast and parts of the Channel are notorious for strong waves and rip currents, caused by water rushing in and out of sand depressions called courants de baïnes. The baïnes look like gentle pools, often facing south but shift continually. Families use them, but in rising or falling tides the water rushes out creating a rapid and deep current that can drag unwary swimmers far out to sea. Weak swimmers should avoid swimming near them. Baïnes can be spotted as calm pools on open sand with a deeper looking colour channel to sea that often has no waves breaking in it. In early July a teenager died when swept out to sea while swimming near the pier in Dunkirk. Baïnes can form near piers as waves come in to shore and water and gravity find the easiest way out again, creating the fastwater channel beside a pier where there is no other route. Deaths are caused when people exhaust themselves trying to swim back to shore against the current but lifeguards say to swim parallel to or along the shore out of the current. Main beaches have lifeguards who put up safety flags when on site. Green is for safe swimming, yellow means swim with care but lifeguards are present and red is for no swimming. Ignoring a red flag means a €38 fine (or worse). Lifeguard services run by the CRS police

maîtres nageurs sauveteurs operate in the main resorts in the school holidays until September 2 with increasing use of seasonal civilian staff. This year there are 297 CRS-MNS in 65 communes (down from 100 in 2016). Lacanau lifeguard Cyril Lambert, who is also UNSA Police union spokesman, said they were happy to have kept the same numbers as last year, especially as each beach has two armed officers. But he added: “We need more police to guarantee optimum security. We cannot skimp on the means to guarantee safe swimming.” Jean-Michel Lapoux, of civilian Fédération des Maîtres-Nageurs Sauveteurs, said: “President Macron wants to use the CRS for other things. Almost all of the lifeguards are now seasonal workers employed by the municipalities.” In 2017 CRS saved 1,662 people and helped 44,923. Being police, there were also 405 arrests for drugs and 12 for sexual offences.

MOTORISTS who do sizeable distances could benefit after the government approved the first French ‘black boxes’ to convert petrol engined cars to run on E85 bioethanol fuel, which sells for an average €0.69 a litre. With SP95 prices rising and now averaging €1.57 it could mean a big saving, even factoring in the €800-€1,800 price of the conversion kit plus another €300 for updating the carte grise. Sébastien Le Pollès, of Paris kit firm Flexfuel, greeted approval for the kits which have for a few years operated in a legal grey area. “This is essential for the spread of this technology and 11million vehicles in France can benefit. Official homologation will greatly boost the market.” Mont­pellier firm Biomotors was the first to get its kit approved and Flexfuel and the smaller ARM Engineering in Tarn are expected to get their approvals in the near future. E85 makes up 7% of SP95 petrol and kits allow cars with electronic indirect or direct injection to use it in any mix, helping make up for France’s paucity of E85 pumps, just 1,100. With less calorific value than petrol, cars use up to 20% more but the lower cost balances this out. Drivers average 13,300km a year and Autoplus magazine said an indirect injection petrol car could pay off the €990 fit in 20,000km while a direct injection car would take 28,000km. This falls for higher-consumption town driving. Diesel is still No1 fuel in France but recent pollution scandals may benefit E85. Mainly made from sugar beet, ethanol is corrosive so is best for Euro 6 cars – Euro 3,4,5 cars need an additive.

Making your

life in france less taxing


France: 0810 23 84 23 - UK: 08451 23 84 23 - Email: info@kentingtons.com

The Connexion

August 2018

The Connexion

Money / Tax page


How might Brexit affect pensions of Britons in France? ONE benefit of the EU which is protected in the exit deal for existing expats (we are assuming this goes ahead as planned) is the EU pension aggregation system. This helps to ensure that people are not penalised for having used their EU free movement rights to live and work in different EU countries. It means essentially that pension providers in the different states take into account the duration of your ‘EU career’ as a whole and then award you pro rata the pension resulting for the length of time that you worked in their country. However Britons who move to the EU after Brexit and have periods working in the UK and in EU countries may no longer benefit – this is one of many future relationship’ matters which need to be resolved (see page 4). Taxation of British pensions will mostly not change after Brexit as the UK-France double tax treaty is unaffected. One point also yet to be agreed is whether pensioners coming after the transition period might lose the benefit of exemption from French social charges on UK pension income if they no longer benefit from healthcare paid for by the UK. Another concern is that people with British private pensions may find that their UK providers can no longer legally pay their pensions into a French bank account

New bid for refunds of property social charges From page 1 k Stoc

be : Ado Photo

Our financial writer Hugh MacDonald is away for this edition. Please continue to send in questions for his column to news@connexionfrance.com after Brexit. This is because the pension company needs to be regulated in the country where the payment is made – but currently this is solved by EU-wide rules. The UK government and Bank of Eng­ land have been talking to financial services providers in the UK to find solutions. The UK government says it hopes the EU will reciprocate and believes “there is a shared interest in ensuring we avoid outcomes that impose unnecessary costs and disruption on individuals and businesses”. An Association of British Insurers spokeswoman said the EU have not yet reciprocated to give reassurances over this. “Some firms will be taking their own steps to address this, such as establishing authorised entities in Europe but this will not be a practical solution for all,” she said. Franco-British honorary avocat Gerard Barron said in that scenario it would be possible for Britons to have pensions paid into UK bank accounts (should they have one) and transferred to France. Should no solution be found, Britons in France expecting to receive private pension income would be well-advised to ensure they have a British bank account.

While the UK remains in the EU Britons in France have an EU law right to open one without the need for a UK address. Some Britons with significant pension pots opt to transfer them into a ‘Qrops’ (now also known as ‘Rops’) when they move to France. These are often based in highly-regulated financial centres in countries like Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg. At present transferring UK pensions to a Qrops based in the EU or EEA is in most situations tax-free but a 25% UK overseas transfer charge applies on transfers to Qrops outside the EU or EEA (unless you are resident in the same jurisdiction). It is possible this could be extended to transfers to EEA countries post-Brexit, so there could be a limited time to transfer without tax penalties. n This article is abridged from the Pensions section of our helpguide Brexit and Britons in France. It is available, priced €12.50, at selected French newsagents, via connexion france.com or by calling 06 40 55 71 63.

Own up over foreign income before October, says HMRC THE UK’s HMRC tax authority has issued a warning that ‘substantially higher’ penalties will be in place from October 1, 2018, for anyone who has failed to pay all tax due on ‘foreign income and assets’ in recent years. It advises making a disclosure to HMRC before the cut-off date. HMRC says most people do declare correctly and pay the tax they owe, but in some cases people may have not been aware of their responsibilities. If in doubt, it says you should check

you have paid appropriate tax, perhaps by taking professional advice. See also gov.uk/guidance/worldwidedisclosure-facility-make-a-disclosure This does not relate to self-assessment declarations for the UK tax year 201718 (for which the deadline has not yet passed) but to those who have not properly declared in earlier years. The increased penalties will apply where extra tax becomes payable due to an undeclared ‘offshore matter’, an HMRC spokesman said.

The Connexion welcomes queries and publishes a selection with answers every edition. However, please note that we cannot enter into correspondence on money topics. Queries may be edited for length and style. Due to the sensitive nature of topics we do not publish full names or addresses on these pages.

Practical: Money 33


The spokesman said this may include, for example, UK property incomes of a French resident that were transferred to them in France, or French incomes of a UK resident He said that relevant income for the latter may include money from renting property, gains made on sales of assets (houses, jewellery, art…) as well as income from investments. For more information see gov.uk/ guidance/requirement-to-correct-tax -due-on-offshore-assets).

The information on these pages is of a general nature. You should not act or refrain from acting on it without taking professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted in respect of these articles. These articles are intended only as a general guide. Nothing herein constitutes actual financial advice.

security system should not have had not to pay ‘social’ charges which help fund it. As of the calendar year 2016, however, France decreed that it was no longer using the proceeds for social security and continued the levies. Now an appeal court in Nancy (cour administrative d’appel de Nancy) has confirmed a lower court judgment that the charges were still linked to social security. The court ruled in favour

Britons are much more likely to succeed if they apply while still EU citizens Clint Goffen van Aken, lawyer

of a couple who had contested having to pay charges on investment incomes from 2015 (levied in 2016). For the majority of the 15.5% levy the court ruled without hesitation, however it decided to refer a question for clarification to the ECJ on one part (1.45% of taxable income). Avocat (lawyer) Clint Goffin van Aken from Stras­bourg, who specialises in this domain, said the government is likely to appeal to the Conseil d’Etat. However he advised that those affected apply now for refunds of the full 15.5% . This is because claims are time-limited to the end of the year two years after the year when the charges were levied. ie. the end of 2018 for charges you paid in 2016 on incomes from 2015 (eg. money from shares or rental income) or charges paid in 2016 on property sale capital gains. He added that British people should in particular apply as soon as possible including for levies paid in 2017 or 2018 saying they are much more likely to succeed if they apply before Brexit while still EU citizens.

As of January 2018 the charges rose to 17.2%, meaning if as a non-resident you sold a property in January this year and made a capital gain (after deductions) of €100,000, up to €17,200 may be reimbursable. The exact amount depends on how long you have owned the property for as there are reductions linked to this. Previously the government did not accept liability to pay refunds to non-residents in countries outside the EU. Claims can be made individually or with help from a lawyer, some of whom have a particular interest in this area (search online for remboursement CSG avocat). You can make a claim to your tax office (this is the Service des impôts des particuliers non-résidents in Noisy-le-Grand for UK residents with French incomes) or to the one where the property was located where a capital gain is concerned. Apply based on the Nancy appeal court judgement of May 31, 2018 in the affair of M. et Mme B...A... State the amount of charges you want refunded and provide copies of documents proving the levies (eg. the avis d’imposition for levies on rents, or your capital gains declaration 2048-IMM). You should also give proof of having been affiliated in another country, eg. that you have been paying National Insurance in the UK; the DWP could advise (if you are a UK pensioner in France, a copy of an S1 form would be suitable). Another lawyer, Eve d’Onorio di Méo from Marseille, confirmed that the case gives good grounds for a claim with regard to charges levied since 2016. “This is new. You should make use of the same arguments as the Nancy court, that the charges remain of a ‘contributive’ kind [contributions contributives] as they come under regulation 883/2004 of the European Par­ lia­ment and the Council of April 29, 2004. “The same applies as in the [earlier] De Ruyter case: one should not pay a tax for which one obtains no benefit.” The government previously gave advice on claiming refunds at tinyurl.com/Eng-CGS

Making your life in france less taxing * The Kentingtons service is exclusive to individuals with a minimum of €250,000 in financial assets. Kentingtons SARL, RCS 500 163 282 DRAGUIGNAN, Conseil en Investissement Financier (CIF) –Conseil en Gestion de Patrimoine Certifié (CGPC), Catégorie B, référence sous le numéro F000116, association agréée par l’Autorité des marchés Financiers, conforme article L.541-4 du Code Monétaire et Financier, Assurance Responsabilité Civile et professionnelle conforme à l’article L.541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier. ORIAS 08038951 Garantie Financière et Assurance Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 512-6 et 512-7 du Code des Assurances. Head Office: Z.A. les Esparrus, 83690, VILLECROZE

34 Practical: Money


The Connexion August 2018

Manage your new life in France and reap the benefits This column is by Bill Blevins of Blevins Franks financial advice group (www.blevinsfranks.com). He has decades of experience advising expatriates in France and co-authored the Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France If you are new to living in France or in the process of organising your move here, you probably have a list of jobs to get through. This needs to include reviewing your tax, financial and estate planning. Do not let this stagnate far down the list. It is important to adjust your wealth management for your new life here and spending a little time on it now should reap dividends and give you peace of mind. If you have been living here for a while, then think about the last time that you reviewed your financial planning? Are you sure it is up-to-date and specifically designed for your life in France? Residence Residence has become an even more important issue for UK nationals living in France with Brexit fast approaching. The UK and EU27 have committed to maintain existing residency rights for Britons and EU nationals who are ‘lawfully residing’ within either area before the withdrawal date. But what does ‘lawful residency’ mean in practice? How close can you get to demonstrating this before the Brexit transition period comes to an end? There are some steps you can take to support your residence position in France, such as registering with the local healthcare system, changing your driving licence, introducing yourself to

local authorities, informing your UK financial institutions that you have left etc. But very importantly, you need to submit your annual tax return/s in France. Make sure you understand the rules for French tax residency and, if you meet any of them, that you correctly declare your worldwide income, gains and wealth, as required by French tax law. If you hold assets or receive income in another country, follow the double tax treaty rules so you pay tax in the right place. Tax planning While France has a reputation as a high tax country, this has improved a little with the 2018 tax reforms. It is worth reviewing your investment assets to see how you can take full advantage. In any case, the tax regime offers opportunities to lower your liabilities, from the ‘parts system’ for general income, to tax-efficient arrangements for your savings and investments. Do not presume that what was tax efficient in the UK is tax efficient in France. You may need to convert existing arrangements to others designed for French residents. Some investment arrangements here allow you to reduce your annual taxable income (without necessarily reducing actual income) which can make a considerable difference to your tax bill. Property If you have not yet moved to France, it is worth investigating whether you are better off, taxwise, selling your UK home while still UK resident or waiting until you live in France. Be aware that the way you hold your property could have unexpected tax and inheritance consequences. If you opt for joint ownership, should it be en indivision, en tontine or governed by a

specific choice of marriage regime (France has several of these). Or should you buy through a Société Civile Immobilière (SCI), a special type of French company? If you have not bought property yet, explore all these options first – the best one for you will depend on your family situation and aims. If you are planning to buy a luxury property or own a few different ones, bear in the mind that you will have to pay French wealth tax if your household’s worldwide property portfolio amounts to over €1.3million - although there is a five-year exemption for overseas property.

Inheritance taxes and estate planning Will the right money go to the right hands at the right time? France has very different inheritance tax and succession laws to the UK, so to ensure your wishes are carried out, you should check to see if you need specialist advice. Succession tax can be high, up to 60% for distant or non-relatives, but there are often ways to lower this liability for your heirs. French succession law imposes forced heirship. UK nationals can use the EU succession regulation to opt for UK succession law (but not tax) to apply to their estate, but make sure you understand how this works and the potential consequences to establish if this is the right route for your family. Your investment portfolio Review all your savings and investments to check they are suitable for you now. Are you holding the right spread of assets to meet your objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance? Do you need to hold more assets in euros and diversify away from UK shares and bonds? For peace of mind, obtain an objective analysis

of your risk profile, then ensure the mix of assets you have in your portfolio is entirely suitable for you and your needs.

Pensions Retirees should review their pension funds and the options available today to consider how to maximise their retirement savings. Living in France presents some opportunities. As a non-UK resident, you may be able to transfer your funds out of a UK scheme and into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) which can provide various benefits. But explore all options before determining which is best for you. Under certain circumstances, France only levies 7.5% tax on pension lump sums. This could enable you to move the capital into more taxefficient arrangements but this is only suitable for some people, depending on their position. Do not risk your retirement savings; take professional, regulated advice. The sooner you review your finances, the sooner you can get on with enjoying life in France. For the best results, consider all the above essentials in conjunction with each other. Often one will impact upon another, so working on them in isolation could have unexpected consequences. Ultimately, you want peace of mind that all your affairs are in order and designed in the best way for your wishes. You need to ensure you have all the facts and understand your options, so this may mean taking professional guidance. Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

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The Connexion

August 2018

Data laws mean gîte owner must protect clients’ details As a gîte owner in France, what must I do to comply with the new RGPD data laws?

Non-caravanner creates a ‘growing’ worldwide business Eric Beau’s petite BeauEr 3X teardrop caravan is narrow and simple to tow the beach). The 3X+ is a longer neer and my father is good caravan that opens to 34m2. with DIY so together we were The business and workshop able to transform our concept only set up in January 2017 but into a caravan for myself. now has five employees at “Neighbours, friends and Cholet, Maine-et-Loire. family admired it and so I put So far they have sold around an international patent on the 25 units with the 3X costing design, and stopped working €25,200, but the orders keep so I could dedicate myself to flooding in. “We have 100 to my new business.” 300 enquiries a month from The 3X converts from a 4m² 120 different countries, but at towed caravan into a 12m² present we cannot keep up space for four people with a with demand. I hope to get double bedroom and also a sofa which converts into a sec- bigger premises and I am thinking of setting up a site in ond double bed. the US as that is where most of It is complete with sink, gas our enquiries come from.” hob, fridge and room for an He is also looking at models oven in the kitchen area, plus for other businesses, such as shower, WC and wash basin. for a mobile hairdresser or There are two other models trade show stands. in the range. The 3XC is a So far he has sold to clients in motorhome where the rear France, Germany, the US and opens out into a larger living China but not the UK, a marspace when parked (a planned ket he would like to get into. version allows the front to “The UK is the biggest mar‘unhook’ to go shopping or to ket in Europe for caravans, The 3XC is a with Germany in second place motorhome and France way behind, for easy because motorhomes are more driving but popular here. I would really can open out love to sell my first BeauEr to to give someone across the Channel.” comfortable He often takes his own space... and a BeauEr caravan on holiday and planned said: “It is magic. model has a “There are always lots of peodriveaway cab ple who are curious and want at the front to know how it works.”

THE new European Règlement Générale sur la Protection des Données – called GDPR in the UK – rules are designed to give customers and business staff more privacy and control of online data held on them. Any company or person holding computerised information on people is affected, including those hiring out gîtes. Information watchdog CNIL polices the regulations in France and has issued a downloadable booklet on the subject to be followed if your small business uses email or has a website. It is in French at tinyurl.com/ybj7urab It says any business which does not have collecting personal data as its core activity just needs to use common sense to conform... but then gives 59 pages of what to do. It adds that the key targets are large-scale users – and abusers – of customer data; meaning large businesses and that small businesses should use it as a chance to look at and simplify policies. In essence, you should keep a simple register of how data is used, let clients know what is done (perhaps on a website information page), react if a customer wants data deleted and inform the CNIL quickly if any data is stolen. Your register can be a computer data file or stored online, should say what type of information is stored, who accesses it, what the data is used for, if it is passed on to anyone else and why, how long you will keep it for and how it is secured. It should be password protected and you must run and update your antivirus.

You need to tell new clients that you will keep their details for future contacts and, if contacting old clients, update them on the new policy. Customers must have the opportunity to opt out of their information being stored and you must delete all their records if they ask for this. To sum up, gîte owners doing business by email, with a dedicated email inbox and associated address book should look to cut down on the data they collect. They must: n Not collect data about people unless it has a legitimate use – being able to contact people about renting out your gîte is a legitimate use n Collect only information relevant to the use for which you collect it – collecting date of birth information if you do not offer birthday discounts on your rental is not a relevant use n Collect only legal information – highlighting race or religion (to refuse a rental) is illegal (and was prior to the new RGDP laws) CNIL told Connexion French guests may offer their carte d’identité for ID purposes but few details from this can reasonably be kept. Any security camera footage should be kept safe and only for a limited time then deleted. Owners with both English and Frenchspeaking customers should use both languages in the Data protection/Politique de confidentialité page on their website but this should be in the simplest terms. One issue that may arise after Brexit is that if you keep letting details in the UK you must inform clients as with all data stored outside the EU.

Reader Q&A

Planning on moving to France? Already living here? Make sure you get the correct tax and financial advice. The French tax regime provides opportunities for tax efficient investing, but there are many pitfalls. Using the wrong arrangements could have major tax and succession consequences. Blevins Franks has in-depth knowledge of the local tax system and how to use it to your advantage, and can help you structure your assets to get the best out of living in France.

Talk to the people who know

0 805 112 163 (N0 Vert) france@blevinsfranks.com www.blevinsfranks.com



BeauEr 3X is not so petite when opened, giving 12m² of useful space in the living area

ENGINEER Eric Beau had never been camping or caravanning but his idea for a new retro-style telescopic caravan design has created a business with worldwide orders. Called the BeauEr 3X, it gives instant space as it transforms from an easily-towable caravan with slide-out side sections to create triple the living area. Mr Beau worked in IT in Paris but, aged 50, he started thinking of his ideal caravan for taking his family on holiday. It had to have an elegant retro design plus be both small enough to tow and roomy enough to sleep and live in. He came up with a small but expandable caravan that, like a telescope, packs three modules together horizontally, so the living area can be increased when it is expanded. Using the car battery, it transforms from towed caravan to living space in less than 25 seconds. Fur­niture folds together when packed up and unfolds when it is opened. He and his father, Pierre, in Matha, Charente-Maritime, worked on the idea and came up with a design: “I had never been camping or caravanning so my ideas came from a neutral background. “I knew what I wanted. “Though I worked with computers I was trained as an engi-

Business 35


Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided outside the UK, via the Insurance Mediation Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as “Conseil en Investissements Financiers” and “Courtiers d’Assurance” Category B (register can be consulted on www.orias.fr). Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA). Blevins Franks Tax Limited provides taxation advice; its advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFFM.



August 2018 Photos: Jane Hanks

New status protects CRAFTS in focus workers who use ‘platforms’ like Uber

The Connexion

A ceramicist or céramiste needs art and technical skill to transform clay into a beautiful object

DRIVERS with Uber, delivery cyclists with Deliveroo and other workers who work through intermediary platforms (plateformes numériques collaboratives in French) are set to get better protection. As part of the new employment law, to be debated in September, a new protective status is expected to be created for the one million independent workers involved, many of whom are auto-entrepreneurs. It aims to get rid of the problem of workers being neither staff nor self-employed by creating a charter which recognises they have features from both sides. It will give independent workers certain rights, some of which have until now only been held by staff. These include the right to minimum pay, non-exclusive working, professional risk protection as well as legal and administrative aid, protection over dismissal plus a compte personnel de formation training budget of €500 a year for workers earning a certain amount. For businesses, signing up to

the charter gives protection from the worker making a claim to be re-classified as an employee with all the associated social and retirement charges and complex regulation. Although the charter is not mandatory, it gives protection for both sides creating a new intermediate employment status that could lead to the creation of more jobs and businesses in a sector which has only sprung up in recent years. It comes a year after the reform of the employment law and is a recognition by the government that the new business model needs a new employment status and is a big step forward from the 2016 El Khomri law. It is a first in Europe to take such workers out of what has been described as a judicial no man’s land. Auto-entrepreneurs who work either regularly or occasionally with driving or delivery companies, hairdressers or others involved in personal services are affected by the change which will ease their currently precarious prospects.

Small business and tax advice What is the so-called anneé blanche ‘blank tax year’ that people are talking about and who will benefit? AS explained in my previous Connexion articles on France’s new Prélèvement à la Source (‘at source’) tax system which is due to begin next year, the key reason for it is to match the timing of the tax payment with the period in which the income is earned – in simplified terms, to bring in real-time taxation. Under the current system there is a time lag as income tax is paid in the year following the one in which the income is earned. However if the system changed with no other adjustment, we would have a situation of double taxation in 2019, with the ‘at source’ tax being levied at the same time as tax in arrears for income earned in 2018. To avoid this the government is going to issue a tax credit for the 2018 year tax assessment. Hence this is known as une année blanche (blank tax year) because the tax credit should have the effect of cancelling the 2019 assessment of the 2018 income so that your 2018 income escapes French tax. In other words employees and pensioners will suffer tax in 2019 on their 2019 income (salaries or pensions) but not 2018 ones. However this comes with a few provisos. Firstly, we will still be obliged to file our annual returns in May/June 2019 to report our 2018 earnings. The French government will assess the 2018 income and apply to the resulting tax a tax credit which will be equal to the highest tax paid for the previous three years 2015, 2016 and 2017.

BEING a professional ceramicist or potter means knowing every stage in the transformation of clay into a solid object, which could be a day-to-day plate, a tile or a piece of artwork such as a sculpture. There are five stages. First the preparation and choice of clay, which will play a big role in the way it can be used. The humidity must be just right as too dry is unworkable and too wet will not hold its shape. It must be worked so there are no pockets of air which could make the piece explode in the kiln. It then has to be shaped on the potter’s wheel, or using techniques such as hand building, sculpting, or in moulds. The finished shape must then dry in the correct conditions and for the right time to reduce risk of cracks during firing. The firing process itself requires a great deal of technical knowledge as temperature and length of time in the kiln are vital to the end result which will vary according to type of clay and structure of the piece. Finally, decoration requires both artistic ability and technical knowledge of the different glazes and the way they react to the clay and to heat when the item goes for final firing. A qualified ceramicist can work for themselves or for someone else. There are also openings in industry; in mass produced tableware; tiling, sanitary ware and roofing in the building industry; ceramic parts for the medical world and in electronics. Most work as craftsmen and women but the Institut National des Métiers d’Art says that due to the diversity of available jobs it is difficult to know how many ceramicists there are. A 2009 estimate said 1,689 craft ceramicists plus 2,000 in ceramics industries. There are several possibilities for studying ceramics to become a céramiste in France from the most basic which is a CAP lasting either two or three years in either decoration or

‘Exceptional’ (one-off) incomes (should you have had any) will not benefit from the tax credit and there will be a separate assessment to recoup any additional tax for these. This would include pension lumps sums and one-off capital gains.  Email your tax questions to news@connexionfrance.com This column was written by Olaf Muscat Baron who is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Accountants UK, a French expert comptable and an International tax advisor. He is the principal accountant of Fiscaly, an accountancy firm based in the Dordogne which serves individuals and businesses in or out of France. See www.fiscaly.fr or call 09 81 09 00 15

Designs can be simple or complex but must be easily repeatable in different forms

Creating the design takes time as it must be repeated in different forms - and appeal to buyers

‘Each item takes four minutes and 40 years of experience’ Patricia Neal creates designs and then does the decoration of plates, bowls and vases made by her husband, Bob

creating pots to a three-year Diplôme Universitaire des Métiers d’Art option céramique at the Ecole Supérieure des Métiers d’Art d’Arras. Several private schools also offer diploma courses. You can find details of 340 courses for adults and 62 for young students at tinyurl.com/y7oboxf2 We spoke to Patricia Neal, who has been a ceramicist for 40 years and has her own business, Faïences Patricia H, at Souillac in Lot, which she runs with her husband Bob, a British potter who has been in France for several years. They work as a team. He throws the pots, which range from plates, cups, bowls and other tableware and she decorates them with a range of different designs. Mrs Neal knew as a child that she wanted to spend her life as an artist, but it was not until

she visited the pottery workshops at her first art school in Paris, aged 16, that she discovered ceramics. “It was love at first sight from the moment I stepped into the workshop. “I had never seen pottery being created before and I loved everything about it, the atmosphere, the clay, the firing, the decoration. From then on I went to the workshop whenever I could and I was given a place on the three-year ceramics course where you learned every aspect of being a potter.” She went on to study drawing and painting at the Beaux-Arts de Paris and afterwards her ceramics professor found her a job decorating pottery in Dordogne: “It was different then,” she says. “There were workshops everywhere which would employ up to 10 ceramists at a time. “We mostly made terrine

dishes and other tableware for the foie gras producers. I was employed there for four years and afterwards decided to set up my own business, but I could always find work to supplement my income from other workshops in the area. “It is much harder now for people setting out as the opportunities for salaried work have nearly all disappeared because of competition from overseas with lower prices.” Now she mostly works on decoration. “I spend a long time creating each design, as afterwards I will have to repeat it over and over again on several different forms. “First I dip the pot into the glaze. When that is dry I take off any imperfections and then I paint on my design. “I always say each item takes four minutes and 40 years’ experience in the job. I work towards filling the kiln which is fired twice a week.” About half their sales come from tourists and they send their work abroad: “The furthest has been to Russia. A woman visited the workshop, saw a small dish she liked and once she was back home she sent an order for a whole dinner service.” Business has, however, slowed down. “Up to 2005 we could make a decent living, fairly easily. Up to 2014 it was more difficult but stable, but it has become worse since 2015.” In the future she and her husband hope to diversify by giving pottery courses and selling their beautiful pottery online. www.patricia-h.com

August 2018

Brittany’s phares are more than just coastal highlights

Point Saint Mathieu


Architecture of France... Brittany’s lighthouses


programme and hydrographer and cartographer Charles-François BeautempsBeaupré worked out the best sites, requiring a detailed knowledge of local currents. Engineer Léon Bourdelle was in charge of building them and he invented ingenious systems for taking men and material to the sites. Different architects were responsible for the solidity of the buildings and also of their appearance as the practical aspect was not the only consider- Inside it is ation in their confabulous, as struction. Some were you climb up given extra funds you can see from private benefactors, which down to the meant they could bottom have surprisingly lavish interiors. One of these is the octagonal Phare d’Eckmühl on the Penmarc’h headland which was finished in 1897. It set a precedent for elegance and was financed by a 300,000 franc legacy from the Marquise de Blocqueville, and named for her father, dubbed Prince of Eckmühl by Napoleon in rocognition of victory in

Photo: Yann Caradec

Photo: Henri Moreau CC BY-SA 4.0

Brittany has the world’s greatest concentration of lighthouses, with 27 classed as historic monuments. Most are in Finistère and eight are open to the public. Tourism official Patricia Hamon from Brest Terres Océanes said each had its own story as the architecture is surprisingly varied. Even though built under extreme conditions for utilitarian purposes, aesthetics and fine detail still had a place. The world’s first lighthouse is said to have been built by the Egyptians in 300BC on the Isle of Pharos, hence the name for lighthouse in French, phare. Today, Brittany’s oldest existing light is the Phare du Stiff on Ile d’Ouessant which began working in 1700 when boats carrying Louis XIV’s soldiers to war left Brest by boat and needed guiding out to sea. But as early as the 13th century monks at the Pointe Saint-Mathieu on the westernmost point of mainland France near Brest lit fires to guide sailors. There is still a lighthouse there today and it is exceptional for its position, next to the ruins of a Benedictine abbey. Legend has it that the relics of Saint Matthew were miraculously saved in a shipwreck off the headland and in the 6th century a mon­astery was built for them. It was from here, around 1250, that the monks started lighting a lantern at the top of a 40m tower to guide sailors. The monastery was deserted after the Revolution but you can still walk in the ruins of its 16th century church. Today’s lighthouse dates from 1835. Most of today’s lighthouses were built in the 19th century, when the introduction of faster steamships meant shipping companies wanted permanent, easier access to ports. The state launched a construction

Property 37


Photo: ©yvonboelle

Photo: Nicolas Le Men

The Connexion

Phare de l’île Vierge has 365 steps to the top and strong-legged visitors can look right down the inside of the tower

battle. She wanted it built to last: “The tears spilt due to the losses in war, that I dread more than anything, will be repaid by the lives saved from storms.” It uses granite-like Kersantite stone, quarried south of Brest, and the interior is covered in costly opaline tiles which were manufactured locally from crushed sheep bones and glass. They gave insulation and avoided condensation. Marble is used for the platform and the locks and metalwork, including the stair rail, are made of bronze. The main hall has wood panelling and there is a bronze statue of Prince d’Eckmühl. The 82m Phare de l’île Vierge, at Plou­ guer­neau is the world’s highest stone lighthouse and was built shortly after Eckmühl. It is 1.4km out to sea and can be visited by boat and Ms Hamon said it was well worth the trip: “Inside it is fabulous. It is hollow with the 365 steps of the stone staircase spiralling upwards and as you climb you see down to the bottom. “It is decorated with 12,500 opaline tiles, which produce a wonderful azure and green colour. The view from the top over sea and land is spectacular.” The small Ile d’Ouessant has five lighthouses on and around it; Nividic, Jument, Kéréon, Stiff and Créac’h. One of the most beautiful is Kéréon but sadly, it cannot be visited as it is on an isolated rock. Its spiral staircase is decorated with mosaic. Wood lines the living quarters and the fifth-floor salle d’honneur has particularly fine decoration with stars and lighthouses carved in relief on oak. Built in 1916, it was planned as an unmanned concrete tower but a 585,000 franc gift from a benefactor, Mme Le Baudry, saw it replaced by an inhabited lighthouse, the last built in the open sea – or Hell, as lighthouse keepers call it. They classed the lights in three groups: those surrounded by water were in Hell, those on islands, Purgatory; and those on land, Paradise. Lighthouse keepers always started their career in Hell. Kéréon was manned until 2004 and all lights are now fully automated, with keepers phased out from 1990 onwards. The eight lighthouses open to the public in Finistère are Phare de l’île Vierge, SaintMathieu, Trézien, Stiff, Eckmühl, Goul­ enez, Batz and Créac’h plus the Phares et Balises museum on Ouessant. There are plans to open a sister museum in Brest in the near future. North Finistère also has a Route des Phares.

Property Watch in


REGIONAL CAPITAL: Bordeaux DEPARTMENTS: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Corrèze, Creuse, Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne, Haute-Vienne MAIN CITIES: Bordeaux, Limoges, Poitiers, Pau, La Rochelle, Niort, Brive, Bayonne THIS is one of the most popular areas of France for secondhome buyers as it has something for everyone: beaches, lush hills and beautiful marshlands plus vineyards, sleepy valleys, many of the country’s most stylish towns and some of its most beautiful cities. Made up of the former regions of Aquitaine – known for its beaches and wine, Limousin – with green hills and lakes, plus Poitou-Charentes with elegant resorts, watersports and history, this is a very varied region with something for every taste. But it is not just for holidays as the employment market is waking up again with a new record of job creations and a 58% jump in job offers in a year. Last year a quarter of all non-French property sales in France went to British buyers but in Nouvelle-Aquitaine that hit 48% as many reacted to Brexit. Property professionals see a ‘consolidation’ of the market after last year’s bounce-back when there was a jump in sales. Prices tumbled in the wake of the 2008 crash but the market is reviving strongly and the average price of a holiday home in Aquitaine last year was €306,500, against €269,900 in PoitouCharentes and €126,400 in Limousin. There are bargains, especially away from holiday hotspots. In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, that means away from the coast as this is the single most desirable location for French buyers.

What your money buys Under €90,000

Village house to be renovated with a garden of 600m², situated near Cubjac in Périgord. In a calm spot close to local shops, bakery, bar, pharmacy, doctors etc, and near to the beautiful river which runs through the village. The house is connected to mains drainage. €50,900 Ref: 87845JTO24

18th century stone house for sale in beautiful touristic village near Beaumont-du-Périgord. Charming guesthouse, well arranged for up to 10 people in a village with a gourmet restaurant, bar, grocery store, tennis courts and an artisan potter. €89,903 Ref: 81846FG24

More than €125,000

Attractive 4 bed stone house with basement, garden and woodland, just a short drive from Nontron. A spacious property within walking distance of the village shop, bakers, post office, primary school, bar, and hairdressers. Just a 35-minute drive from Angoulême. €128,800 Ref: 88041LCH24

5 bed Périgourdine countryside house with 1 hectare of land and large 3,000m² lake. A property for fishing and true nature lovers. Situated near to a town with weekly market and train station, about 30km from Périgueux and 58km from Limoges airport. €183,500 Ref: 76680JTO24

Properties available through Leggett Immobilier www.frenchestateagents.com Tel: 05 53 56 62 54

Next month: We look at the Languedoc


Your questions answered

Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query

Q: My husband and I owned a second home in France but were both resident in the UK at the time of his death last year. He had made a will in the UK leaving everything to me but specifically excluding the French property as we assumed French law would apply and were happy to abide by it. However, there is a disagreement between my French notaire and my UK lawyer: the former asserts that, since my husband made a UK will he opted for UK law to apply to the whole of his estate, and that it cannot be split between two jurisdictions. The UK solicitor says because the UK opted out of the 2012 European Regulation he was within his rights to exclude the French property: so French succession law should apply to that. Who is right? I don’t mind either way as long as the paperwork can be sorted as painlessly as possible. A.W. A: The UK solicitor is correct and the French notaire is understandably confused as all other member states ratified the EU Succession Regulation apart from the UK, Ireland and Denmark. The confusion arises

because the regulation has a principle that only one succession law should apply. However, as the UK did not ratify the regulation, then two legal systems can apply. As your husband died resident in the UK, English law applies to his estate. He has excluded his French property from his will and therefore not elected English law to apply to it. His French property estate is therefore intestate. English law applies French law to the French property, and as such it passes under French intestacy law. If there are French moveable assets in the deceased’s name, such as bank accounts, then these are dealt with under English law, either under the will (depending on what the precise exclusion is) or under English intestacy law. In any case, the notaire must administer the French property. He or she can contact the Cridon [legal research service with international specialists] who should reiterate this analysis.

Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930  www.heslop-platt.co.uk contact@heslop-platt.co.uk

Q: Can people just abandon cars in their garden and leave them there long term? Our neighbours have several ‘wrecks’ dumped in the garden and, apart from being unsightly, I fear there will be pollution or other problems. How can I get them to get rid of the cars? J.A. A: Your first approach would, of course, be to speak to your neighbours to see if they know that you are concerned, especially as oil pollution can be very difficult for local farmers or anyone dependent on water from the watercourses. There is no legal definition of a wreck, un épave, but if a vehicle is obviously not driveable and unlikely to be repaired you can speak to your mayor as it is their responsibility to get the

owners to clear what could become an environmental problem. He/she has police powers through the police municipale or garde champêtre to enforce this. The mayor can order the owners to get rid of the cars within a certain timeframe (at least two weeks) unless there is an urgent reason such as an oil leak. If they do not comply, the mayor can: l demand they deposit funds with an accountant to cover the cost which is returned once the clearance is done l get council workers to clear the wrecks at the owners’ expense l or, order a daily penalty payment of up to €1,500 per day until the wrecks have been cleared.

Tel: 05 61 57 90 86  www.brightavocats.com contact@brightavocats.com If you have a legal query send it to news@connexionfrance.com We select questions for answer every edition

The Connexion


August 2018

who Price property well and Tenant sublet flat it could sell in 60 days must repay CLAIMS that properties in Paris sell within an average of 41 days ring hollow for many sellers in rural France who have spent several months with little interest in their homes. The estate agents’ federation Fnaim says many properties lie unsold as they are overpriced, with Bernard Doudet of Citya in Périgueux and president of Dordogne Fnaim saying a badly priced property will not sell but one that is properly priced will sell in 60 days. Completion times vary across the country from 84 days in Nice, 79 in Montpellier and 69 in Toulouse down to 48 in Bordeaux and 42 in Lyon while the countrywide average is 92. Apart from taking advice on the market rates, sellers can boost their chances of finding a buyer by making their advert stand out. Online site ParuVendu says sellers should include the house’s particular strong points, whether it is a garden, pool or panoramic view... but avoid superlatives which can lessen the impact and make the advert less credible. Say if it is just a short walk into town or if the bedrooms are all en-suite with the aim of giving precise information a buyer can trust and respond to. Before putting it online, do a major spring-clean and then look at home staging or relooking, which is claimed by those involved to speed sales with the aim of depersonalising a property while keeping its warmth so buyers already feel ‘at home’.


Photo: Jill111 CC0

38 PRACTICAL: Property

Make the best features stand out in photos and in real life Boiled down, it means taking out some of the furniture to make the room look bigger and less dated, so leaving just the essentials while still selling its best points, such as room for a large dining table. If the living room is also the dining room, aim to create two distinct spaces for a better feel. Minor repairs should be done or buyers will see negotiating points to cut the price but a major renovation is a waste: it should be limited to a coat of paint to brighten the room. Photos, too, should tell an extra part of the story with the main photo needing care as it is what catches a buyer’s eye.

Exterior views gain most views, the site says, but a panoramic shot of the interior can also work well. Aim for a sunny day for exterior shots and open all shutters and curtains, to be welcoming. Find the spot that gives best coverage and do not take all your photos from head height; perhaps try backing into a corner, or getting on a stool or kneeling down. Diagnostics immobiliers are mandatory but some, such as for termites and natural risks, are valid for only six months. If you have been trying to sell for a year or more you may need to get an update.

THE tenant of a flat overlooking Notre Dame Cathedral in the centre of Paris has been told to repay the owner €27,000 he received from Airbnb bookings as he had sublet it without the landlord’s permission. The ‘duplex bohème,’ with 60m2 terrace, was on Airbnb for €120 a night or €4,000 a month from 2013-15 when being rented for €1,200 a month from Les Ton­tons Flingueurs film director Georges Lautner. When Mr Lautner died it passed to his son, Thomas, who served notice on the tenants that he was ending their lease as he wanted to sell. They refused to move and the landlord sued. He asked the court to award him the money gained from the unauthorised rentals. The court ordered eviction and for the tenants to pay €5,000 damages. However, when the tenant appealed the landlord replied with a new legal argument; that he was due the ‘fruits civils’ of the ownership, meaning the full benefit of any income from the property, both rent due from the tenant and any gains from the Airbnb rentals. The appeal court found the rental agreement forbade subletting and that the flat owner was due all the benefits from ownership, including the €27,000 from Airbnb. As many tenants sub-let flats the verdict could impact the trade unless a new appeal is made to the Cour de Cassation.

Property news in brief Mortgage rates below 1% for 10 and 15-year loans MORTGAGE rates fell to below 1% in early July with brokers Cafpi saying lenders were asking 0.75% over 10 years from some buyers with good profiles. Low rates were June’s trend with 0.89% possible over 10 years and buyers looking for longer-term loans paying 1.18% over 15 years, 1.37% over 20 years and 1.61% over 25 years (insurance not included). But as banks vie for business, the low rates continued into July with 0.95% over 15 years, 1.25% over 20 years and 1.3% over 25 years. Cafpi’s deputy managing director Philippe Taboret said negotiating low rates allowed buyers to borrow €210,000 over 20 years for €1,000 a month.

Workers will commute for 43 minutes for better house SOARING Paris prices mean workers must juggle travel time and property prices and Ile-de-France residents said in a poll they would travel up to 43 minutes for work. A study by MeilleursAgents showed that someone with a €395,000 budget working at Etoile could buy a 150m2 house 43 minutes away in Montsoult, Val-d’Oise, or a 74m2 flat in Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine. If

they wanted a shorter commute they could afford an 88m2 flat in Houilles, Yvelines which is just 14 minutes away on the RER.

Waste heat from steelworks is used to power homes HOMES, offices and shops in a Lozère town are being heated by waste heat from the local steelworks, which give off enough energy to power 1,150 houses. The ArcelorMittal plant in Saint-Chélyd’Apcher feeds 4.8MW of excess heat from its cooling plant for rolled steel into the town’s urban heating system. Some also goes to power the factory’s own needs. In all, the project by Kyotherm and Schneider Electric cost €5.6million and uses ‘dead heat’ energy that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere while also cutting fossil fuel use and CO2.

No rise in notaire fees as government pulls back FEARS that ‘notaire fees’ on property purchases would rise from 6-7% to a possible 8% have been calmed after the government pulled back from allowing departmental councils to raise the droits d’enregistrement tax which is the largest part of the fees. It is set at at 4.5% in all but four depart-

ments, Indre, Isère, Morbihan and Mayotte where it is 3.8%. The prime minister had proposed raising this to 4.7%. On a €200,000 sale it amounts to €9,000 and would rise €400 under the new limit.

Dog-mess tenant must pay upset neighbour €10,000 A TENANT who let her dog mess on the balcony of her flat in the 16th arrondissement in Paris has lost her appeal against being evicted. She claimed that fouling and smell from the balcony was due to pigeons. The appeal court rejected her case and ordered her to pay €10,000 to the upstairs neighbour who had complained and took court action after repeated huissier visits.

Student rents vary from €185 to €1,400 a month AS STUDENTS start the annual hunt for accommodation, a study has shown that rental costs can vary from €185 to €1,400 a month depending on location. Rodez in Aveyron is cheapest with rents averaging €274 and starting at €185 while Bordeaux also starts at €185 but averages €480. The Century 21 study said the 13th arrondissement is cheapest in Paris at €332 but the dearest is the 8th, at €1,400.

The Connexion

August 2018

Property 39


Owners think outside the box for their homes by SAMANTHA DAVID

Falling in love with an enormous house is easily done. Doing it up is harder, and once finished and/or the children have flown the coop, the challenge is deciding how to use it. Some sell up and downsize, others run a B&B – but Connexion readers have fresh solutions: hiring the house to event companies, setting up a residential language course or as a stopoff for horses being transported.

Putting a new roof on this barn is just one of the jobs that George and Rebecca have on their to-do list at their horse hotel George. “We are located exactly where a tachograph says a lorry transporting horses has to stop and unload.” It is an ideal location for an overnight stop on the journey to and from Spain and either the UK or Holland. “We love horses,” says Rebecca, and the photos on their office wall say it all. In the UK they competed at county level, appearing at both the Royal

International Horse Show and the Horse of the Year Show and they have an impressive collection of cups and prizes on their walls. They still have five horses, although they retired from competition when they left Lancashire in 2014 to move to France. “As well as the competing, we ran a pet hotel for years – and a string of pet shops,” says Rebecca. “We could

Learn the language in Riviera style

François and Leslie Mouchard have a stunning six-bedroom villa on cliffs near St-Tropez overlooking the Mediterranean. Inside it is airy, furnished in classic style, with doors on to a large terrace above the sea. Inherited from François’ parents in 1970 they used it as a holiday home, but five years ago, when François retired from publishing, they opted to do something more proactive, and began running residential French courses. “Leslie is American and knows all about learning French,” says François. “So most of our students are British and Americans with reasonable fluency, who just want to move it up to the next level.” Students spend a week immersed in 24-hour French. “We work indoors in the morning, looking at advanced comprehension and grammar,

Photo: French By the Sea

François and Leslie’s immersion classes offer a dip in the Med

and after lunch on the terrace, visit St-Tropez or some of the other beautiful villages in the area. Then we have dinner on the terrace, all in French.” Students can also climb down the steps to swim off the flat rocks below the villa, or stroll five minutes along to a beach. Working most often with groups of four or five, they try to ensure people all have more or less the same level, so no-one feels left behind. “Most people are intermedi-

ate or advanced but we are happy to welcome beginners too. We concentrate on whatever they want to learn, be it grammar, oral comprehension or anything else. We set up a timetable and organise the aims of the course on the first day and then try to stick to it. “As we both love languages, and analysing them and learning expressions, it is a dream job, And we get to meet loads of interesting, fantastic people. “So it was a way of keeping the house, and paying the enormous taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation, that is €5,000 alone. So this is an ideal way of running the house.” Clients tend to be ‘of a certain age’ and come from as far as New Zealand and the US. A course costs €1,400 pp for six nights, or €2,500 for a couple sharing a room, including tuition, meals and excursions.

accommodate any animal, horses, dogs, cats, snakes, fish, any animal at all, but no kids!” jokes George. The job of renovating the hamlet would have made any ‘normal’ couple apprehensive but George and Rebecca, who have been together 35 years, say they like working. George has done much of the building work himself, including building a garage.

Family home is now venue for activities and retreats Paul and Tracy Bedford bought their stone farmhouse near Cordes-sur-Ciel (Tarn) 24 years ago and painstakingly renovated not only the house but several other interlinking properties on the same plot, so they now have a golden stone complex of medieval buildings. There is a large terrace, a tower, a bridge to nowhere (quite literally as it spans a walkway, leading from the gardens on one side to a plain stone wall on the other), a swathe of gardens and woods, and nine spare bedrooms. “It was a perfect family home when the kids were growing up here,” says Paul. (They have three sons and a daughter.) “But now they have all left home and are starting families of their own, and we spend the winter in Morocco, it’s a shame to have it standing empty most of the year. We just want to see people enjoying the place.” So they thought of letting it out as a residential venue for courses like yoga, painting or music. The original house has a large sun terrace for breakfast and early evening drinks; there is a sunken courtyard offering shady seating space and a barbecue room set in a giant alcove off the courtyard. It has a huge fireplace and can be closed off with large

Making their home welcoming helps the Bedfords rent it out curtains making it a perfect spot for guests to relax in. An old barn has been converted to provide more guest rooms and bathrooms, and downstairs is a large recreation room which can be used for meetings, exercise classes or, since it has its own bar, parties. There is also a treatment room for massages, a full-sized swimming pool, a tennis court, and a wooden yoga deck overlooking the stunning medieval citadel of Cordes-sur-Ciel. Turning it into a boutique hotel would have been an option but the family are not hoteliers and want to maintain the family vibe. Letting the entire domain out to compa-

Photo: Samantha David

George and Rebecca Connor did not just buy a large house, they bought the entire hamlet of La Grande Garde, Pageas, (Haute-Vienne), complete with a spacious farmhouse, a massive complex of barns and outhouses, several cottages, communal bread oven, and 62 acres of rolling farmland. “Works are ongoing but our ‘horse hotel’ is shaping up nicely,” says

“We plan to have upwards of 12 loose boxes for visiting horses, so all drivers will have to do is back the lorry up the stable door and we’ll be able to unload the horses straight into their boxes,” says Rebecca. “You have to take enormous care of other people’s animals.” They have renovated shower and toilet facilities for drivers, and will be able to supply breakfast. “If we look after the drivers as well as the horses, they’ll want to come here, and we have all our qualifications in animal transport, so we know what’s needed.” So, when a lorry arrives, the boxes will already be prepared with food on the floors. “When the horses eat and drink off the floor, it helps them get rid of the mucus which can accumulate in the airways during transport,” says Rebecca. Travelling is exhausting and stressful for horses and the couple say they will not turn them out into the paddock once they arrive as exploring new paddocks with unknown other horses is more stressful than just being left alone to relax and sleep in an individual loose box. “Also, we can better guarantee their safety in a box than out in a paddock.” They are having one of the barns re-roofed, and once that is done, plan to renovate the interior themselves. “We knew what we were getting into,” they say. “We knew it would be a lot of work, but that’s what we like!”

nies who run activity holidays, or wellness retreats, or even just those who want to treat their staff to a weekend in France seemed a good solution. To keep it intimate and relaxed, numbers are limited to 12 guests at a time and the house, with all facilities and meals, plus a transfer to and from Toulouse airport costs €10,000 for a week. Their son Chris runs the business. “We want it to still feel like a family home,” he says, “so people can just come and relax. That’s why we decided not to do weddings, or large events. There’s space here, but it wouldn’t have been the same atmosphere.”

We want it to feel like a family home so people can just come and relax Chris Bedford

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The Connexion


August 2018

Cruise and Clint... rising star is picked by the best Photo: Alix Benezech - Twitter

Alix Bénézech stars in two of this year’s big-budget film releases – Mission: Impossible – Fallout (ie. Mission Impossible 6 with Tom Cruise) and Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris – and has revelled in working with stars at the top of the trade. A young actress (she is 26) tipped as one of France’s rising cinema stars, she said: “They were my first experiences working on big budget movies shot by big directors, so it was new but also very professional.” Mission Impossible is out this month in France. She filmed it last year with Cruise in Paris. “I had such fun. I play a Parisian policewoman, and it’s possibly the only time a French actress has played a goodie in the saga. “Filming with Tom Cruise was fantastic. He’s really nice, generous and down-to-earth, very funny. “I love working in a professional atmosphere with relaxing moments when you make jokes and stuff. “Tom is humble and connected to everyone. He really does do all the stunts. I was impressed. It’s dangerous, he almost dies [He broke his ankle on one stunt]. He’s a real life hero!” Straight after Mission Impossible, she was cast in Clint Eastwood’s film on the terror attack on the AmsterdamParis Thalys train. It was an eye-opener on how different directors work. “The work was precise, very technical. Clint is sweet, very gentle, he

works calmly and takes his time, he puts people at ease. “He never says, ‘Action!’ he says ‘Go ahead’ and instead of ‘Cut!’ says ‘Stop’ and that changes everything. “He trusts the actors. But although the pace felt slow, he doesn’t do many shots and we finished at 4pm every day.” Alix talks with a laugh in her voice; eager to describe her experiences – she is clearly on a roll and headed for stardom. She does not think there is any difference between French and American directors, saying every director is different in their approach, and she appreciates just how hard they work. “I co-directed a short film three years ago and it was really hard.” She has no desire to do it again, at least not soon. However, she does think working in English changes things for her. “I feel more free working in English, because I don’t always understand all the subtleties so I’m not in my head, I’m just in the moment. “Working on French sets is different, because it’s my mother tongue, I suppose. But I like doing new things, and challenges, which also means I enjoy working in other languages.” No one has ever asked her to diet or exercise. “I did it myself. I decided to do Crossfit, an intense cardio programme, which I started by myself. At the beginning it was hard. I was likePhoto: Alix Benezech - Ludovic Baron (le 8ème Lion Studios)


Alix in costume relaxes off set with fellow Mission Impossible co-actors Henry Cavill and Simon Pegg thing as good as Mission Impossible. It OMG why? But now I enjoy it. can’t be better because it’s such a great “And the March after I started it, I film, but at least that good...” got Mission Impossible. So I felt really Not that she intends to abandon well prepared.” Alix finished schooling with a litera- France. “My heart is in cinema and my roots in theatre. I’d like to continture degree and trained at Strasbourg ue working in France as well as in the National Theatre before winning the Paris theatre lead in 2010 for Phantom States. And I’d love to make a feature in German.” [She’s bilingual having of the Opera. been brought up in Alsace and the Several short films followed and she south of France.] made her name in the hit hospital “I already shot one film in German drama Nina where she plays a nurse. and would love to film more.” Now she is considering moving to Her English is good but she says she LA, but has a TV series to finish in has only picked it up recently. France first. “All the casting directors “I was so bad two years ago; I had an and auditions are there, so I need to audition and almost got it because the make the move. I’m reading a lot of part required sign language, which I scripts, because I need to do some-

used to use with my best friend in school, but I couldn’t speak English so I didn’t get it. After that I worked every day, reading lots of books and watching lots of films of course.” Her fav­ourite actresses are Meryl Streep and Margot Robbie, and her No1 role is Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. “I’d love to do a really romantic role with a dramatic destiny, a real love story like that, something historic. I love the book and I love the film. I see myself in this character!” The Harvey Weinstein scandal and ‘Me Too’ movement has dominated cinema for months, but the film Alix co-directed, Que Justice Soit Nôtre, was about that very subject. “Everyone told me not to, they said it would damage my career. “Speaking up felt dangerous. I’ve never had problems with directors I worked with but I did have a horrible experience with a fake director at the beginning, so it has happened to me. In fact, I think I’ve never spoken about it before.” Sadly, she says she thinks all women experience sexual harassment in some form. “I refused to let him have any power over me. But it was really hard. It’s still there, and it’s good we’re talking about it now. We can work better without rubbish like that. “This kind of abuse of power just isn’t necessary.” And then she laughs again. “It’s been such fun talking to you! I love doing interviews!”

Brexit and pension transfers. A window of opportunity? Talk to the people who know

Last year the UK began to impose a 25% tax on transfers to overseas pension schemes, including QROPS. This currently excludes individuals and QROPS where both are resident in a European Economic Area country, but who knows what will happen after Brexit? If you wish to move your pension overseas, it may be better to do so now, under known rules, rather than wait and see what happens. Pensions is a complex area so specialist advice is key to ensure the right option is chosen for you.

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Pensions Focus Week | 3 to 7 September Our experts will be available to assess if Brexit and various legislative changes will impact you and how.

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Profile for English Language Media Sarl

The Connexion 190 - August 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 190 - August 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper