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Thousands Funding threat small to benefit toairports years from video Nine of work gets steam GP sessions train back on track Inside

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Telemedicine consultations are now reimbursed by KEN SEATON

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France is taking a major step towards improving healthcare for tens of thousands of people living in rural areas as télemédecine or video-conference doctor appointments start to be reimbursed via the health service. The change could see 500,000 patients treated by telemedicine in 2019 and 1.4 million by 2022, easing waiting lists for hardpressed GP and specialist surgeries. In a bid to end ‘medical deserts’ where healthcare is scarce, every French resident will be able to consult their GP médecin traitant via the internet as long as both doctor and patient agree and can access internet-linked equipment. Video sessions cost the same as in-surgery appointments, €25 for a GP and €30 for a specialist, and are reimbursed in the same way. However, they will not be carried out via

Skype or FaceTime but through special secure video-conference links with doctors receiving a €525 allowance to help cover the required equipment and software. Dr Jacques Lucas, vice-president of the Conseil National de l’Ordre des Médecins and digital specialist, said they were “satisfied but vigilant” over the move that “cleared away the last obstruction to telemedicine becoming commonplace”. Nicolas Revel, head of the Caisse nationale de l’Assurance Maladie funding agency, called telemedicine an “important lever for giving easier access to care for all, especially the 18% è Turn to Page 2

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Page 1 who live in areas with few doctors”. He said telemedicine would allow earlier treatment and avoid delays for hospital care or repeat treatment. It follows 10 years of tests and the Assur­ ance Mal­ adie and doctors’ unions’ deal covers video consultations and, from mid-February, télé-expertise where GPs consult with specialists for advice. Dr Lucas said it was “a step forward, using technology to better provide a service that could help patients even in areas where health access was reduced. “However, we must beware of private companies moving in to make money on video sessions as this would debase a principle of our health service.” Maxence Pithon, of the student doctors’ union ISNARIMG, said “video GP sessions are worthwhile in opening up déserts médicaux but do not create extra hours in the day, they will take the same time but will at least cut travel time. “The real benefit will come with télé-expertise which will be a gain in time, cutting out appointments, delays and getting treatment faster.” Télé-expertise is aimed, initially, at long-term patients in areas

with poor health cover or those in care. It will be extended later. For video sessions, a doctor should be the patient’s médecin traitant and have their medical history. Where patients have no GP a maison de santé or similar should take them in hand and organise a video appointment. Payment will be as now, with the same automatic reimbursement. Patients need a computer and webcam or smartphone. Some communes are setting up consultation rooms or rooms in pharmacies with video links and, often, a nurse on hand for routine checks. Patients ask for a consultation as normal and the doctor will send a dedicated internet link. Several mayors have launched telemedicine units in recent years. In Picardy, 41,000 people in 24 hours viewed the Facebook

Cut energy bills or face penalty on house sale

MINISTERS are looking at copying the anti-pollution bonus-malus system for buying cars and re-targeting it at house-owners to encourage them to improve home insulation and energy efficiency. With the diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE) being part of the obligatory documents to be produced for a property sale or rental for the last 20 years, Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot said he is looking at a system based on this. It would see energy efficient homes (DPE-rated A or B) being given a bonus while those that are badly-insulated (rated E, F or G) would be hit with a penalty on resale. A decision is due this year as Mr Hulot is set to become the first ecology minister to hit the target of renovating 500,000 homes a year. The 2015 energy transition law imposed a condition of renovating all homes with an F or G rating in their DPE by 2025. However, proposals on how it would work have disturbed some in the building industry who fear it could penalise poorer or more rural areas where renovation is expensive.

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A MAYOR aims to boost taxe foncière payments after using Google Earth to spot undeclared or unauthorised swimming pools and other constructions in the commune. Alain Loriguet, of Thise in Doubs, Bourgogne-FrancheComté, said he had to find a way to boost revenue after cuts in state grants and aimed to ensure the commune received all the money it was due. The idea came after hearing the mairie in Marmande in Lot-

et-Garonne used Google Maps to spot more than 300 pools, summer houses and garages built and undeclared. It managed to reclaim €100,000 in unpaid taxe foncière. Mr Loriguet said he told residents in his May bulletin that he planned the search and there was still time to pay up. About 80 anomalies were spotted and he said about half the people got in touch quickly to declare works – the rest were being reported to the tax office.

Agences Régionales de Santé are setting up telemedicine access points. Grand-Est ARS has 50 sites but plans 150 this year... while Nouvelle Aquitaine will have 153 post by mayor Chris­tophe Diet­ rich saying Laigneville’s video-consultation room was open. By 9am the next day three people were waiting to be seen. Mr Dietrich told Connexion nearby clinics had a fortnight’s delay: “Even I am surprised how well received this has been. People said it was easy and professional and how impressed they were with the doctors. It has made a difference!” In Manche, the Saint-Georgesde-Rouelley mairie is opening an office which will allow residents access to a GP from the Mont-Saint-Michel group practice. It is a first for 15% of the residents who have no GP. A nurse will be present if needed. Mayor Raymond Béchet said: “This will transform people’s lives to be able to have such ready access to healthcare.”

Surgeon warns on rugby head injuries A NEURO surgeon has warned that rugby has to take “drastic” action to reduce head injuries after the deaths of two players in France. Prof Jean Chazal said that the force involved in tackles and ‘hits’ in the game had now reached dangerous levels and rugby authorities had to act or more players would die from traumatic brain injuries. He was speaking after a 21-year-old player died in the changing room during a preseason game at Aurillac and a 17-year-old player died in bed at home in May after a game in Billom, Puy-de-Dôme. Calling it a “combat sport,” he said rugby had to change or a player would die on the pitch.

Ryanair brings in fee for cabin bags RYANAIR is to start charging for cabin baggage after old rules caused boarding delays. All passengers will be allowed one small ‘personal’ bag but must pay €/£8 for 10kg ‘cabin’ bags on booking or unless they take priority boarding, where you can take two free bags. The rules affect flights after Novem­ber 1 and those booked after September 1. People who booked before September 1 can add priority boarding for €/£8 or cancel for a full refund.

The Connexion

September 2018

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MANY wine-growing areas are predicting high-quality wines this year due to good weather conditions which have led to early harvests around France. Unlike many other crops, hot dry weather does not harm vines - au contraire national estimates are for the volume of grapes to be up by 21% compared to last year (a return to average volumes after a poor 2017 harvest). Early starts are reported in Burgundy, Beau­ jolais, Champagne and Alsace, with growers under pressure as some seasonal workers who usually harvest the grapes were not yet available. The hot summer is the main reason for an August 20 start in Alsace (it is typically a month later) and some vineyards in nearby Jura also began then. In an average year hot southern regions like Provence and Corsica start in late August, Bordeaux and Burgundy in mid-September and Champagne and Alsace later in the month. Burgundy wine representatives the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne said their harvest was set to start at the end of August. “It is partly to do with the good weather and the heat but more because this year we had an exceptionally early flowering,” said spokeswoman Cécile

Wine grape harvests started early in many areas this year Mathiaud. She added there were signs of a good concentration of flavours. “We’re very optimistic about the quality.” Growers in the Berry region in central France were expected to start in late August, up to a month earlier than usual. The August heatwave, after extensive spring rains, meant the grapes were already starting to colour in the first week of August, an exceptional event. The first Champagne harvests got underway on August 20, with wine body CIVC reporting “a very fine 2018 vintage”. The CIVC has spoken of an “excep-

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Signs good for fine (and early) wine crop Funding for small

tional season” with all the signs being good: the right amount of sun and warmth to ripen the grapes and healthy plants. In Bordeaux a spokeswoman for the Organisme de Gestion des AOC for Saint Estèphe in the Medoc said the harvest for merlot would start on September 10, however this was not unusually early for their area, she said. “It was hot due to the heatwave but here we are used to having hot spells most years. “We are almost always all in full harvest by the second week of September.” Growers there were optimistic for the quality

but would not know for sure until they harvested, she said. The minimum start dates in each AOC area are set, per commune and per grape variety, in a declaration called le ban des vendanges. Partly out of concerns for quality, ensuring grapes are not picked before optimum maturity, the dates are agreed between representatives from the body that oversees a specific AOC, national quality labels body INAO and the local prefecture. However the concept dates from medieval times when local lords would tell their tenant farmers when they could start. After the start date wine growers pick their grapes at the time that suits them but if, exceptionally, their grapes are ready before the date they can ask for a dérogation (exception) to the rules. With all the signs set for a good year for many wine appellations, there is also good news from the Cognac sector, with figures showing exports at a record high for the fourth consecutive year. It now represents a quarter of France’s wine and spirits exports, with a value of €3.2bn. Some 206 million bottles were exported from August 1, 2017 to August 1, 2018, up 8.2%. The rise is linked to increasing demand from China and the US.

airports queried A THINK tank set up by the prime minister to look at ways to make savings has advised reducing state funding to regional airports – a measure which opponents say could put at risk many small airports. The report ‘Cap 2020’ was produced by a committee of economists, politicians and business and public sector leaders who said its ideas (not limited to airports) would give savings of €30billion a year by 2020. It proposes in particular to “end all public funding whose efficacy is not proven” and identifies funds to small airports as one of two areas where spending is “particularly ineffective” (the other being supporting eco-friendly energy). It adds: “In the area of air transport there are a lot of little airports that need public funding to keep going. One may ask whether it is necessary to maintain the current levels of support for all of these.” One suggestion is to axe a scheme by which the government levies a higher level of tax on ticket sales at Paris airports than regional ones and distributes some of the money from Paris to small ones. The report

says this should only remain for airports which are proven to be needed for the economic development of their area. All airports with fewer than 700,000 passengers per year should have to submit three-yearly reports analysing what they cost the public sector, the committee added. Only 19 out of around 100 commercial airports in France have more than 700,000 passengers. For example Bergerac has around 300,000 a year, Toulon-Hyères 500,000 and others far less, such as BriveSouillac with 66,000 or Le Havre with 13,000. However supporters like the Union of the Airports of France (UAF) say regional airports help link up isolated areas and attract foreigners including many Bri­tons to buy homes there. One of UAF’s leaders, Bertrand Eberhard, said a cut to tax funds would mean “immediate death” for many small airports. While the government wants to save money it is not obliged to follow the advice. The Transport Ministry has denied any intention to “abandon” their support to small airports.

Prefecture explains permis delays

es should NOT be sent with the application. Following initial checks of the application, Nantes will send an attestation de dépôt, valid for 12 months in France, that drivers can show if stopped by gendarmes. On receipt of this you should send in your original licence. Mr Boulanger said gendarmes are aware of the delays and are not usually fining people for driving on a slightly out-of-date British licence while waiting for an attestation. However attestations are not likely to be recognised outside France so drivers wanting to drive and hire cars out of France may face issues. Issue of attestations are also affected by the delays, however if you are worried and especially if you have been waiting since 2017, you can email cert-pc-epe-44-usagersepe@interieur.gouv.fr To minimise delays ensure you complete the application fully with all required documents; for married British women this includes a birth or marriage certificate showing your maiden name (this does not have to be translated) as this appears on a French licence. If possible apply at least a few months before your UK licence expires. Mr Boulanger said that sometimes British applications face extra delays because people are in the UK for months, meanwhile the prefecture has written asking for a further document. He said Nantes is not responsible for the issue of cartes grises, where delays are also reported – although he said this has now largely been resolved.

MPs demand more Sunday opening FRANCE must go further in relaxing laws to allow more shops to open on Sundays, a group of 20 MPs from President Macron’s LREM party has said. In an article in Le Journal du Dimanche they said: “Many French people want this”, adding that London, Rome and Madrid have all understood the

necessity of allowing Sunday opening [Berlin, however, retains a strictly traditional approach]. They said it attracts tourists and boosts business. “The time has come for us to catch up and offer comparable services,” they said. This would also “revitalise city centres”, the

MPs said. The group said that reforms Mr Macron instigated as finance minister in 2015 which allowed Sunday and latenight opening in “international tourist zones” had been a success but the time had come to go further so traditional businesses could compete against internet retailers.

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DELAYS of up to seven months are being reported with the exchange of UK driving licences for French licences, however officials promise to reduce waiting times and have offered advice on speeding up applications. The second in command at the Loire-Atlantique prefecture in Nantes, Serge Boulanger, told Connexion they hope in coming months to cut waiting times to around three or four months. Drivers hit by delays (as reported by many readers) are asked to be patient – however the prefecture is aware of difficulties such as Britons wanting to travel outside France while waiting for their new licence. Mr Boulanger told us the prefecture was tasked with processing all applications to exchange foreign licences in September last year. “A very large number of applications came in. We’re dealing with around 95,000 a year relating to licences from all around the world,” he said. “We’re recruiting and training more staff and we now have 82 compared to 39 in January but we’ve a backlog and we are trying to deal with it.” So far 4,000 exchanges of British licences have been done and a similar amount remain, he said. Delays in issuing new licences are also partly due to the requirement to check your rights with DVLA in the UK, Mr Boulanger said. Under the new system, applications are made in writing to the CERT centre in Nantes, instead of, as previously, to local prefectures. Original licenc-

06/08/2018 10:23

Brexit 4 News


The Connexion

Pensioners told healthcare rights run out on Brexit Day BRITISH pensioners in France with their healthcare paid for via the EU S1 scheme have been left in limbo as to how they will be covered in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This right – and others – were not covered in the UK government’s recent ‘no deal’ advice. The problem has been highlighted after the Cpam state health body in Maine-et-Loire wrote to British reader Anne Williams, 70, saying her healthcare rights would expire on March 29, 2019 “because of Brexit”. It asked her to speak to the UK about her rights after that. At present people living in France with UK state pensions are entitled to healthcare paid up to normal French levels by the UK. The UK and EU agreed that this would continue under the draft withdrawal agreement – however that would be voided in the case of a ‘no deal’. If no subsequent France-UK agreement was reached, Britons in France would be in the same situation as those in the US where the UK does not pay anything and they must take out private insurance. The UK and EU are seeking to tie up final areas of discussion before an EU summit on October 18, however on going to press no defined progress had been announced. Mrs Williams received the Cpam letter after she tried to renew her rights, a routine annual formality. She queried why they were now limited to next March and was told it was due to Brexit. “It seems the French are taking contingency measures for a ‘no deal’,” she said.

Anne Williams with the Cpam letter Connexion sought clarification from the French Health Ministry and Cnam, the national body responsible for the Cpam network. Neither had provided information on going to press. Asked how UK pensioners will access healthcare rights in France in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the UK’s Brexit Ministry referred us to the Health Ministry who did not answer the question but merely

stated that it was “preparing for all scenarios, including the unlikely event that we reach March 29, 2019 without agreeing a deal”. As the UK would no longer be part of the EU’s S1 scheme a solution might be for it to pledge to continue paying for Britons’ care in EU states, prioritising keeping the status quo for those who moved before Brexit (but this would have to be approved by the EU and/or individual countries like France). As reported in our August edition a senior Interior Ministry official told Connexion that if there is ‘no deal’ France will respect the residency rights of Britons holding a carte de séjour and others will be entitled to regularise their situation by providing the same proofs as required for a card (for more on residency cards see the Brexit section of our website and/or our Brexit helpguide). It follows logically (though this has yet to be confirmed explicitly) that card-holders, as legal French residents, will be able to join France’s Puma scheme. This involves an annual payment of 8% of income above €9,933/year per person. In theory this is restricted to ‘capital’ income but can include some private pensions. Those with no card at Brexit time, however, could face complications as the process for obtaining a card can take months. A last resort could be Aide Médicale d’Etat – stop-gap health rights for those without proof of legal residence. However, it is likely France would also accept cover via

a comprehensive private policy, a requirement that up to now has usually only applied to early-retirees in the first five years of residency. Mrs Williams said she and her husband would take on the burden of Puma if obliged to – but “it will squeeze our finances”. However pre-existing health conditions would make a private policy prohibitively expensive and Mr Williams has conditions which would make him uninsurable. “He needs daily oxygen. I can’t imagine the logistics of taking him back to Britain; it’s not a consideration.” She said it would be cheaper for the UK to continue to fund membership of the French system for pensioners, rather than them being forced to return to the UK, as many areas are not 100% reimbursed in France. What is more if Britons are forced to return they would place pressure on infrastructure and hospital beds. British Conservative MP Roger Gale, a keen supporter of expatriate rights, said he is not aware of any British contingency plans for the replacement of S1, or for other matters including uprating of expatriates’ UK state pensions, respect for EU pension aggregation or rights to exportable benefits. “I don’t know and I don’t think anyone else does either,” he said. As for pension uprating, it is possible the UK will strike reciprocal agreements with individual countries, he said. He said it is also possible it will decide to maintain it for those Britons who are resident in France on Brexit day.

Anxiety rising over ‘no deal’ scenario LEVELS of concern for Britons living abroad in the EU are rising again as the possibility of a ‘no deal’ exit (with no transition period) appears more likely than ever. The UK and EU were due to reach a final draft of the withdrawal agreement by the EU summit on October 18, including an outline of intentions for the ‘future relationship’ (trade, security cooperation etc). However time is running out for agreement on issues such as the Northern Irish border or the future trading relationship. The UK government has issued papers on its ‘no deal’ contingency planning (see right) and the Prime Minister has called what commentators say is a ‘cabinet crisis summit’ on September 13. It is widely thought talks will now run into November in a last-ditch effort. The pound is at a new low of €1.106 versus €1.44 in 2015 (but slightly higher than a post-referendum low of €1.08 in 2017), impacting UK pensions. Calls for a referendum on the final deal (if there is one) including a ‘no Brexit’ option, are increasing, with a ‘People’s Vote’ march due in London on October 20, which members of the British in Europe (BiE) campaign groups will attend. Meanwhile People’s Vote has teamed up with The Independent newspaper’s ‘Final Say’ campaign, which more than 700,000 people have signed to support (see tinyurl.com/ y8qyeuvt). YouGov polls this summer found that a majority of UK constituencies now back ‘remain’ with 112 having switched since the referendum.

British barrister Jolyon Mau­gham, who has been running several cases related to Brexit (see above right), told Connexion there are three likely outcomes: an EEA (‘Norway’)-style arrangement, no deal at all or remain. “I cannot see anything else getting through parliament,” he said. “I understand Labour will be whipped to oppose any ‘Chequers-style’ deal [as proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May] and as for the ‘Canada+++’ proposed by the [hard right] ‘Leave means leave’ campaign, there is no basis in the stance of the EU to think it’s a deal that’s on the cards for the UK.” Due to ‘no deal’ fears and also the fact that further improvements to the draft deal negotiated for expatriate rights are now unlikely, BiE has formally called for the UK to remain in the EU. It also demands that all Britons in the EU should be allowed to take part in any new referendum, bearing in mind the UK government’s repeated promises to end the ‘15-year rule’ which bars long-terms expatriates from UK general election votes (this barred them from the 2016 referendum as it was based on the same franchise). However, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale told Connexion he “sees no prospect” of a referendum and, if there was one, Britons abroad more than 15 years would be excluded until a legal change on the 15-year rule has gone through parliament (this is currently not due until early next year). Christopher Chantrey, who represents the British Community Com­ mittee of France for

BiE, said: “From the beginning, BiE has defended the interests of UK nationals living in EU27 member states, and their citizens’ rights. “We didn’t take any particular position for or against Brexit. The change came because neither of the probable outcomes sufficiently safeguards our rights or delivers the Prime Minister’s promise that nothing would change for us. A no-deal exit would be disastrous. “The other option is the draft withdrawal agreement, which curtails our rights in several key areas. “Hence, the only way our rights can be safeguarded is if the UK remains in the EU. And if there is a new popular vote to reverse the Brexit decision then of course all UK citizens living in EU27 countries, all of whom would be directly and adversely affected by the UK’s leaving, must be allowed to vote.” Citizens of other EU states in the UK may be in a slightly stronger position than Britons abroad in the EU as the UK’s so-called ‘settled status’ for them was put into domestic UK law this summer. There has been no EU-wide clarification on Britons ‘no deal’ rights however in August’s Connexion the French Interior Ministry said it would respect the residency rights of those with a carte de séjour and allow others to apply to stay with the same documentary proofs. Many questions remain over rights in a ‘no deal’, from pensioner’s healthcare to uprated UK pensions, exportable UK benefits and EU pension aggregation (see also right, about insurance, private pensions and bank accounts).

September 2018

Decision is due soon on challenge BRITISH barrister Jolyon Maugham is expecting imminently a decision from the appeal court in Edinburgh regarding his case seeking a referral to the European Court of Justice about whether the UK can cancel Brexit unilaterally. This comes as campaigners for Britons abroad in the EU have said that ‘no Brexit’ is the only option which will safeguard all their rights to go on living as now. “We had a hearing, which went well, and I am cautiously optimistic we will get a referral,” he said. This follows a lower court decision to refuse the request. He said if the ECJ rules that the UK can cancel article 50 unilaterally, it simplifies options for the UK. If it is not the case, he said, cancelling could depend on the other EU states, who might decide to impose conditions such as taking the euro or joining the Schengen Zone or abandoning certain opt-outs. Mr Maugham hopes if successful at this stage, it will be possible to obtain an ECJ ruling this year. He is now also awaiting a decision in another case seeking judicial review of the Electoral Commission’s running of the referendum. A further new Brexit challenge (not Mr Maugham’s) has been launched at ukineuchallenge.com It is based on findings of overspending on behalf of the Leave referendum campaign. French barrister Julien Fouchet is awaiting a decision from the General Court of the EU as to whether he will get a full hearing for his case on behalf of 13 Britons living abroad in the EU including Second World War veteran Harry Shindler, 97. It challenges the legal basis of the Brexit negotiations based on exclusion of long-term British expatriates from the Brexit referendum, which he considers broke EU free movement principles. He has also launched a social media campaign aimed at all EU citizens who wish the UK to stay in the EU and Euratom, whose supporters so far include former Monty Python member Eric Idle. Mr Fouchet said: “The message is simple –‘you are not alone in this exit process; we are going to join together so you remain with us; Europe loves you’.” See @Eu27K on Twitter. A European Citizens’ Initiative (formal petition to the EU to call for a new law) has begun at eucitizen2017. org in a bid to make EU membership acquired for life but for technical reasons Britons in France cannot sign, whereas Britons and other Europeans in the UK can (see the Brexit section of our website for more on this).

Threat to UK bank accounts ADVICE from the UK about a ‘no-deal’ states that Britons in the EU “may lose the ability to access existing lending and deposit services.” However the UK Treasury was unable to provide further clarification. The wording is mixed with references to potential problems with pay-outs from UK-based insurance policies and private pension annuities paid by insurance firms (see the Brexit section of our website). This is due to UK firms losing EU financial ‘passport’ rights. Experts previously told Connexion that a solution after Brexit, if French residents are affected, would be to have firms pay into a UK bank account for transfer to a French account. It is an EU right to open a basic bank account in another EU state. Due to the UK leaving the EU’s SEPA banking zone transfers between the UK and France are likely to take longer and cost more. More unexpectedly, the UK advice raises concerns over bank accounts themselves. Sources said it is unlikely people would be forced to close their UK accounts but it is possible that using them, including for new deposits, could become harder. The UK says the problem could be eased by concessions by the EU. Financial advisor Robert Kent said it is unclear if Britons in France, specifically, could be affected as it is possible French rules are flexible enough to allow them to receive payments (Connexion has sought clarification from the Finance Ministry). He said it was not clear why they should lose the ability to make deposits. This generally only happens if countries are blacklisted unless, due to uncertainties, some UK banks themselves seek to close the accounts of expatriates. He said another affected area would be the ability of financial firms to market services across the UK/EU border (for example for a French-based firm to promote itself to prospective UK-based clients).

News in brief Campsites see 20% growth over a decade NEW-LOOK campsites have seen visitor numbers leap 20% over the past decade as they introduced new features and activities with 124 million nights booked in 2017 in 9,000 sites across France. French visitors made up 69% of the 10 million who stayed as sites brought in nature, sustainable living and five-star features, more like open-air hotels.

Using phone in car can cost driving ban DRIVERS who use mobiles at the wheel next year risk a sixmonth ban if they commit another offence at the time... speeding, crossing a white line or running a light. Only Blue­ tooth hands free systems can be used legally and Paris uses cameras to catch offenders.

Smartphones can pay Paris transport USE a phone to pay for Paris public transport this autumn as mobiles with NFC (Near Field Communication) can use Pass Navigo as a ViaNavigo app instead of a ticket or card. Users will present the phone to the ticket borne to proceed.

September 2018

French site is hunting for alien life RESEARCHERS are looking for signs of extraterrestrial life using a giant radio telescope in the heart of the Sologne forest in the centre of France. Greg Hellbourg, a French electrical engineer and postdoc researcher at the Berkeley SETI Research Center in California, will use Nançay radio astronomy station to hunt signals that indicate intelligent alien life. It is part of the Breakthrough Listen project at Berkeley which is scanning space for signals that are proof of civilisations beyond Earth, signals as small as a plane’s radar coming from any of the 1,000 nearest stars. It is already detecting a signal from the only known object from an intelligent civilisation in deep space – the 20W radio transmitter on the Voyager 1 spacecraft that is 20billion kilometres from Earth. Now Mr Hellbourg’s project will use time on the 200m x 40m Nançay radio telescope to scan 52 star systems for key

VICTIMS of a solar panel scam do not have to repay the bank that loaned the money for the work… as the bank should have checked that the project was legal and their clients were satisfied, France’s highest court has ruled. It is the final step in a series of court battles in which banks have tried to reclaim money from people tricked by door-todoor salesmen into signing orders worth tens of thousands for solar photovoltaic panels that do not work and, sometimes, are not fitted. Some customers have faced action to reclaim the money, with banks starting court proceedings to force the sale of the house for repayment. The Cour de Cassation said that the bank should not have paid the funds to the solar panel company without ensuring that the panels worked fully and conformed to regulations and

We will target nearby stars and a dozen ‘closest’ galaxies to search for artificial narrowband transmissions

that the customers were happy. It added that the bank, with the professional expertise that it had, ought to have been able to check that the customer had not been victim of a démarchage abusive illegal selling. The panel sale contract was annulled because both bank and fraudulent solar company failed to abide by consumer protection rules and the bank had no right to reclaim the loan as it had a duty under the consumer code to make checks. Legally, under the consumer code, the bank should have checked the sales contract with both the seller and the borrower before paying the seller. An earlier appeal court had agreed the bank’s claim for the loan to be repaid but the senior court said the customer had suffered too much prejudice for this to be just. In such situations, the bank had no right to repayment.

to look for ‘narrowband’ transmissions, which is of high interest for SETI, since it is a fundamental concept that energy is a precious resource for any civilisation. If one of them dedicates some amount of energy to communicate it can be detected. “This year we will conduct 35 hours of observations, targeting nearby stars and a dozen ‘closest’ galaxies, to search for artificial narrowband transmissions.” Stéphane Corbel, director of the Nançay radio telescope site, said: “We have many instruments that search for gravitational waves, observe comets, solar corona and planet Jupit­er,

but we are not part of Break­ through Listen, they are simply using the equipment here to do work they cannot do elsewhere. “We are also building an instrument called Nenufar to find very low frequency waves from the start of the universe.” The Nançay site is open on September 16 for the Jour­nées du Patrimoine with research talks, conferences and a planetarium show on its work. Do you want to search for life in space? Join the Seti@Home project that uses home PCs to decipher signals from space – Mr Hellbourg did so and it led him to join the Berkeley team.

local council reforms transfer powers to larger communauté de communes (CDC) but also feel weakened by grant cuts, the upcoming loss of income from taxe d’habitation, and a disdain felt from some officials. One south-western mayor, who asked not to be named, said: “CDC people are often young and spent years in university; many mayors are retirement age, left school at 15 and made a success of their lives. “They do not like being sneered at by these well-paid youngsters, especially when they know that when something needs doing in the commune, they stay in their offices. “I was very proud to be elected, but I sometimes think it is not worth it.” He cited a recent experience when the CDC rescheduled plans to bring fibre optic cable

to the village without consulting him, and the lack of coordination over laying of water and electricity pipes when the village was having pavements and a cross-roads improved. Association des Maires de France general secretary Phil­ ippe Laurent, the mayor of Paris suburb Sceaux, said mayors had been unhappy for years. “Mayors still have theoretically a lot of power and still have the responsibility, but not the means to do things after with five years of budget cuts, and transfers to CDCs.” He said people were astounded when some communes had no candidates for mayor at the 2014 elections and he predicted a similar situation in 2020. “I hope that the government now realises and will start doing more to support mayors and communes in France.”

Mayors quit as many have responsibility but no power by BRIAN McCULLOCH

UP TO 30 mayors in France are resigning before the end of their mandate with many citing the transfer of their powers to the communauté de communes plus cuts in government grants. About “20-30” mayors are thought to have handed over their blue, white and red sashes with calculations from the national list of mayors showing the number who have quit since 2014 is 55% higher than in the previous six year term. Mayors play a key role as the council head, as first magistrate responsible for keeping law and order, as state civil officer res­ ponsible for registering births, marriages and deaths and for school maintenance, public spaces and sports grounds. Elected for six years, they are paid a stipend of €646 a month

I was very proud to be elected, but I sometimes think it is not worth it South-west mayor

for communes of under 500 inhabitants, up to €8,650 for the mayor of Paris. But, having been elected by the commune’s voters, they are held personally responsible for all that happens and part of the stipend goes on insurance as they have been sued for everything from children hurt on playground equipment to refused planning permits. Now some feel they have responsibility but no power as

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electromagnetic signals that could indicate intelligent life. Speaking from California, he said: “Nançay is the 4th largest single antenna telescope in the world, with a fantastic sensitivity and a clean spectrum due to its isolation from population. “The team there developed a new receiver system allowing us

Protesters bid to halt Agincourt windfarm

PROTESTERS are trying to halt windfarm plans beside Agin­ court battlefield as the 16 turbines would be in full view of the site, scene of a historic English triumph in 1415 in the Hundred Years War. It is just one of many projects being targeted as a report said seven out of 10 windfarm plans are being opposed in France. The projects are especially opposed in north France which is already the top wind energy region and where plans for more are impinging on World War One sites in what is being called the territoire de mémoire. Hauts de France regional president Xavier Bertrand said on TV: “Give us a break with windfarms! They are destroying our countryside. Halt wind and dev­elop solar or meth­anisation for renewable energy.” In Azincourt, Vent de Champ de Bataille protest organiser Patrick Fenet said: “A windfarm would destroy the view of the battlefield. It would destroy an important tourist and historic site just as we spend €400,000 to improve the museum and site.”

Radio signals are received from space and focused on the central receiver for processing to find key ‘alien’ signatures

Greg Hellbourg, Berkeley Breakthrough Listen team

Solar con victims’ victory over bank

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1 12

13 1 Maison de Pierre Loti, Rochefort (Charente-Maritime) 2 Eglise Notre-Dame, La Celle-Guénand (Indre-et-Loire) 3 Rotonde ferroviaire de Montabon, Montabon (Sarthe) 4 Fort-Cigogne, Fouesnant (Finistère) 5 Château de Carneville (Manche)

11 6 Villa Viardot, Bougival (Yvelines) 7 Ancien Hôtel-Dieu, Château Thierry (Aisne) 8 Théâtre des Bleus de Bar, Bar-le-Duc (Meuse) 9 Château de Bussy-Rabutin, Bussy-le-Grand (Côte-d’Or) 10 Aqueduc romain du Gier et pont-siphon, Chaponost et

Photo: Mossot CC BY-SA 3.0

Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon (Rhône) 11 Pont d’Ondres, Thorame-Haute (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) 12 Couvent Saint-François, Pino (Haute-Corse) 13 Hôtel de Polignac, Condom (Gers) n Maison d’Aimé Césaire, Fort-de-France (Martinique)

Street sex pests facing €90 on-the-spot fines THE first on-the-spot fines for sexual harassment in the street can now be given out as a new law on sexual violence comes into force to target sex pests, upskirting and child rape. Called the Loi Schiappa, the Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said it marked a major social change in France. The final MPs’ vote came after video was released of a woman being violently punched in a Paris street for rebuking a man who had harassed her. Marie Laguerre was attacked in broad daylight as she passed a Paris café and said it was “not the first time that day, that week or that month” that she had been abused – but the first time it had been caught on video with witnesses. She said that police would not believe a woman’s account of being harrassed without proof – but despite the video being widely viewed, the man has not yet been caught. Paris prosecutor François Molins said he was shocked by

the rise in number of rape and sexual violence complaints this summer, with figures up 20% in the first five months of the year. The law imposes on-the-spot fines for harassment on public transport or on the street with pests facing fines of €90-€750 and €3,000 for repeat offences. It targets sexual or sexist behaviour. Ms Schiappa has previously said she did not want to end flirting but to use French law to “forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening and following women in public spaces”. Anyone filming up a woman’s dress or ‘upskirting’ will face a heavier penalty for a délit (stronger than a contravention) with up to a year in prison and a €15,000 fine. Ms Schiappa said that the new crime closed a legal loophole as there was no previous offence. The law was welcomed by France’s largest women’s rights group CNIDFF with director general Annie Guilberteau calling it an “advance for women’s rights, giving the same freedom

to enjoy public areas as men”. A €4million publicity campaign is being launched to mark the law with a special effort in areas which Ms Schiappa said needed “Repub­ lican reconquest” such as near stations in Paris and elsewhere in France. There has been anger though that the law does not set a legal age of consent despite many groups including CNIDFF calling for tougher action against child rape – but it does make it easier for an adult to be charged over sex with a child under 15. If there is an abuse of vulnerability, threat or surprise it is classed as rape with a 20-year prison term. Prosecutors will file charges of ‘sexual infraction’ alongside rape in case the higher charge is not accepted. Sexual activity with a minor can mean seven years in jail and a €100,000 fine. The time delay for reporting child rape was extended in the law with the statute of limitations being raised to 30 years from the victim’s 18th birthday.

Angoulême is new star

OSCAR-winning film director Wes Anderson is to make his next film in Angoulême, with work in the Charente capital due to start in February. There are few details about what the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is planning but he chose Angoulême for its ramparts and staircases and said the film will be set “just after the Second World War”. He knows France well, having lived in Paris for many years and local newspaper Sud-Ouest said Angoulême Angoulême ramparts caught director’s eye was chosen after he visited in June.

n Habitation Bisdary, Gourbeyre (Guadeloupe) n Maison du receveur des douanes, Saint-Laurent-du Maroni (Guyane) n Maison Rouge, Saint-Louis (La Réunion) n L’usine sucrière de Soulou, M’Tsangamouji (Mayotte)

Artificial heart man’s transplant A MAN who was kept alive after being fitted with a Carmat artificial heart has had it removed and a heart transplant put in its place. The French makers of Carmat said it was fitted for eight months and had allowed blood pressure to fall and improve liver, lung and other organ functions to be fit for the transplant, carried out on the local patient in June in Kazakhstan.

Homeopaths sue doctors

MORE than 120 doctors have been sued by a homeopaths’ union after signing a letter to a newspaper calling for homeopathy costs not to be reimbursed as it and other alternative care were ‘esoteric disciplines’ and ‘fed by charlatans’. Homeopaths said they wanted the Ordre des Médecins to recognise their work, which the doctors had called a ‘miracle cure’ with ‘no scientific basis’.

Sunk warships may be found

RESEARCHERS may have found the wrecks of two 16th century French and English warships sunk in battle off Brest. Cordelière and the Regent were joined by grappling hooks in 1512 when the French ship exploded, sinking the Regent, killing 1,500 on the two vessels. Two anchors have been found but the teams from UBS and Ifremer have not recovered cannons to prove the find.

Photo: JPierre Bona CC BY-SA 4.0

of President Macron who helped choose 18 sites that need urgent work – one from each region in mainland France and overseas – and 251 more that will also receive some aid. They cover more than just architectural sites, meaning a Roman aqueduct but also a rail engine turntable, a sugar factory, a writer’s house, a theatre, and a picture-postcard bridge... Based on the UK’s National Lottery, where 22% of the ticket cost goes to arts, heritage, sport or charity, the government says it will give up its takings to fund the projects, with each one gaining from €100,000 to €1m. Scratchcards will have scratch photos of the sites to win six €1.5m prizes, eight at €150,000, and 20 worth €15,000. They will be on sale for six months. A second lottery next year will choose a list of new sites to save.


Photo: Fondation du Patrimoine

SOME of France’s endangered heritage sites are to receive a massive boost with the launch of a lottery game this month that will fund up to €20million of important restoration work. The Loto du Patrimoine starts on September 3 with the sale of €3 lottery tickets for a top prize of €13million and €15 scratchcards with a top prize of €1.5m and a one in three chance of a minimum €15 prize. The big lottery draw will be held on September 14 on the eve of the Journées du Patrimoine heritage weekend when thousands of properties will open their doors for an expected 12million visitors. With the government recognising more than 2,000 heritage sites need restoration or renovation, a pioneering fund has been organised by TV presenter Stéphane Bern with the support

September 2018

Photo: RomainBerthiot

Photo: Fondation du Patrimoine

Heritage lottery set to make €20m for sites in danger

The Connexion


Photo: Jack Ma CC BY-SA 2.0

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The Connexion

September 2018

News 7


ministers have admitted that “half of France’s roads need resurfacing and nearly one in 10 bridges is in a bad state”. The ministry knew about problems before the Italian viaduct collapse that killed 43 but the disaster has brought them into stark light. This is especially so as France had a narrow escape in May when a landslide undercut the A15 Genne­villiers motorway viaduct in north-western Paris. It happened on the day Tran­ sport Minister Elisabeth Borne revealed an urgent security plan for state-maintained roads, bridges and tunnels in response to a report ordered last year that blamed cuts in maintenance budgets for the network being in a “critical state”. The report said urgent work was needed on 800 bridges, one in three of the 12,000 major ones needed mostly preventive work and 17% of roads were badly damaged with potholes. Many small bridges that were communes’ responsibility were not covered and some have had little money spent on them. Ms Borne said there had been

“manifest under-investment” in repairs and said it took 22 years for a bridge to be repaired from when first problems were noted. She said from 2019 the roads budget would rise to €1billion a year from €800million. British bridge engineer Ian Firth, who designed the Pont Schuman in Lyon, said maintenance was key. “Bridges are designed to last for years but are also meant to have engineers inspecting them regularly; if that has not been done then problems may arise. “The last few years have seen much more traffic on the roads, much heavier lorries which can cause a lot of damage, and competing spending demands. It is good to see more money in the roads budget if it means proper inspection and maintenance.” Céline Kastner, public policy director at the Automobile Club Association, said the state of council-maintained roads was alarming, with road maintenance given lower priority than social services in tight budgets. “We estimate motorists pay taxes of €26bn more to the state than is paid to maintain the

roads. It is particularly galling as the taxes motorists pay to be able to drive rises all the time. “This is the latest of a series of reports which all show urgent action is needed, but it seems as though Ms Borne is serious in working for more spending.” The percentage of roads said to be badly damaged in mainland France has risen from 14% in 2007 to 17% and the report said without change the percentage would rise to 62% by 2037, and that 6% of bridges would be unusable. The report authors said roads for the most part needed preventative maintenance to stop cracks becoming potholes that damage road foundations as repairs cost three times as much as regular preventive work. They said France needed to spend up to seven times as much as it currently does to save its road network. Meanwhile, transport users group Fnaut has said the government must set up new maintenance schedules for vital road and rail links to avoid risks. Readers’ views – Page 17

Photo: ©Loïc Bernardin/Marine Nationale/Défense

Urgent action needed Women pioneers in submarines on 800 at-risk bridges

Karen, atomicienne or nuclear propulsion specialist, takes part in an exercise on Vigilant FOUR female naval officers have become the first to complete a mission on a French nuclear battle submarine after being barred from such work since the service was founded. Named only with their forenames under security restrictions, Harmonie, Pauline, Camille and Karen, joined 110 male colleagues for a 70-day mission on Vigilant, based at Ile Longue, Finistère. The Marine Nationale opened the way for women officers to join submarine crews in 2014 as, unlike the male crew, officers have their own private quarters with shower.

The four were among the first to sign up. Har­ monie, Pauline and Camille hold the rank enseigne de vaisseau while Karen is a capitaine de corvette. Each is a specialist with Harmonie in charge of dive safety, Camille officer of the watch, Pauline medic and Karen nuclear reactor specialist. On Bastille Day Karen marched on the ChampsElysées with some of the men of the Vigilant crew to mark the 500th patrol of France’s nuclear strike force since 1972. France’s armed forces have 15% women, fourth in the world after Israel, Hungary and the US.

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THOSE opting to leave money to loved-ones via an assurance vie (AV) contract should avoid mentioning this in their will after a court ruled that such a payout may be deemed a bequest where there is an ‘obvious link between the AV capital and their estate’. In a case in Aix-en-Provence a court found that dispositions in a will concerning an AV policy were equivalent to a bequest despite the fact that AV payouts are usually not deemed to be inheritance and are therefore usually outside the estate for inheritance purposes. It follows that it is best not to refer to such policies in a will or if you do you should ensure that you do not use any language that sounds like you are ‘bequeathing’ the money from the AV.

Free first aid course takes just one hour UNTIL September 8 local branches of the charity La Croix Rouge are offering free one-hour first aid courses in a bid to save more lives, especially in the case of heart attacks. According to the charity too few people know basic first aid or how to operate a defibrillator; as a result only 8% of victims of major heart attacks survive in France compared to 40% in Sweden where the population is trained in first aid. The Eté qui sauve (summer life saving) scheme includes 60-minute first aid courses (30 minutes for children) and a 50-minute course on reducing risks in disaster situations. Training sessions are on offer daily at Paris Plages on the banks of the Seine and at the La Villette Canal Basin; elsewhere people should contact local branches for details (see croixrouge.fr/Pres-de-chez-vous).

Rooks trained to pick up cigarette butts SIX specially-trained rooks have been picking up cigarette butts at the Puy du Fou theme park in the Vendée. Park president Nicolas de Villiers said the idea came from one of their falconers, Chris­ tophe Gaborit, because the birds are intelligent and “given a conducive environment, like to communicate with humans and establish a playful relationship”. Mr Gaborit invented a box which delivers a crunchy snack when the rook places a butt inside. “The birds are very fast, they can fill a bucket in less than three-quarters of an hour,” he told France Info.

September 2018

Protecting environment to be named principle of the French constitution by BRIAN MCCULLOCH

PROTECTING the environment is set to become part of the constitution after MPs voted in favour of the move. If the Senate follows with support, the constitution will, alongside principles of the Republic such as égalité and laïcité, include the line that the Republic “acts for the preservation of the environment and biological diversity and against climate change”. It comes as Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot, backed by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced 90 measures to improve biodiversity in France. These included banning the use of plastic drinking straws and plastic sticks for cotton buds as part of an aim to have ‘zero-plastic’ in the sea by 2025.

A clear will emerges to mobilise all stakeholders to preserve biodiversity WWF France

Another measure called for no increase in the ‘net’ amount of artificial ground such as concrete slabs and asphalted surfaces. It also said any new car parks should have permeable surfaces allowing rain to seep through, thus avoiding floods. It is proposed that farmers be paid to protect biodiversity (such as by planting hedges and preserving ponds), with €150m in new money set aside to fund

– but 370,000 larks can still be trapped this year WILDLIFE charities have criticised plans by the government to allow 370,000 larks to be hunted after announcing wishes to protect biodiversity. This comes also shortly after scientists said around a third of France’s countryside birds had vanished over the last 15 years in what they called “close to an ecological catastrophe” (see April’s edition, page 3). Larks are traditionally caught in the south-west in the autumn, using nets or cage traps (some other kinds of wild bird are allowed to be trapped with nooses or glue). They are salted and fried to be served as amuses bouches or in soups and stews. In hard times in the 19th century they could be the only meat people would see. How­ ever Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux development director Emilie Gobert said: “It is completely unacceptable that in 2018, the government continues to allow people to hunt birds like the lark. On one hand they say they are trying to protect biodiversity then on the other they say 370,000 larks can be trapped using cruel methods.”

Wild animal charity Aspas called ways used to trap larks and other songbirds “barbarous and unselective” and said they are meant to be banned in the EU but France allows them in some areas because of ‘tradition’. The LPO, along with other bird protection groups in Europe has also sounded the alarm at a fall in lark numbers. Known for their habit of hovering high over their nests in fields in the spring while singing, the number has fallen significantly in the last 30 years. Fields being cut more often has been partly blamed. It no longer

allows larks the four weeks needed to raise their young. Pesticide use, reducing the number of insects they can eat, has also played an important part, as has hunting, experts say. France has set a trapping quota for many years and in July the Office National de la Chasse said the figure for 2018–2019 would be 370,000, the same as last year. The Ecology Ministry did not respond to an interview request but issued a statement following the criticism. It said 106,000 larks were trapped last year in the four

departments where hunting is authorised – fewer than the authorised quota – and the number trapped has fallen by two-thirds over the last five years. It said that the quotas are determined by EU experts’ guidelines which say they should represent no more than 1% of the bird’s population. On going to press a public consultation was under way online before the quota was set to be officialised. The government also says it will appoint a panel of scientific advisors to propose measures to manage species.

this. New licence fees on some polluting products could be used to boost organic farming. Other aims include: more bear introductions into the Pyrenees (see below), the creation of an eleventh national park in Champagne-Bour­gogne, more policing of the trade in endangered species, and working with the EU and other international bodies to ensure they also promote biodiversity. Certain previous pledges were reiterated, including ending use of neonicotinoid pesticides, known to harm bees, and gly­ phosate herbicide, linked with

cancer in some studies. Greenpeace France told Connexion it was studying the measures and could not comment before September; meanwhile WWF France directed us to a statement which gave a mixed assessment. It said “a clear will emerges from the measures to mobilise all stakeholders (councils, businesses, education...) to preserve biodiversity in France and internationally” and called the target for zero plastic in the sea ambitious. It also said the pledge on net artificial ground showed a “strong will” though regretted it

had no target date. However the charity said the extra €150m mentioned was an advance but insufficient. It added that money needed allocating as soon as possible, in 2019’s budget, very concrete targets needed to be made and an inter-ministerial committee should be set up to review the plan next year. A director of the Institute Veblen, which promotes economic change to protect the environment, Aurore Lalucq, welcomed the positive tone and the fact the government seemed committed to making environ-

mental considerations a core part of all its plans. However she noted a lack of financial clarity for the plans, which she estimated would cost €600m. “Apart from €150m for farmers prepared to take care of their hedges, there is no new money, no massive reorganisation of existing structures in charge of biodiversity.” She said there was also no clarification of a role for Missions régionales d’autorité environnementale (regional agencies formed in 2016 to oversee respect for environmental protection in new developments).

Photo (cooking): Marianne Casamance / Wikimedia Commons

Assurance vie payout ruled to be inheritance

The Connexion


Hunting and cooking larks is a long-standing tradition in parts of south-west France

‘Problem’ Pyrenees bear could be moved to another area or shot OFFICIALS in France and Spain are considering what to do about a bear which has taken to killing horses, sheep and goats and raiding bee-hives as it roams through the Pyrenees. Released on the Spanish side of the mountains in 2016, ‘Goiat’ was brought to the region from Slovenia as part of an EU-backed project to consolidate the bear population in the mountains. The animal’s attacks have mainly been in the Val d’Aran which runs down on the Spanish side of the border. From a population of three bears in 1995, when the project to reintroduce bears was launched, the number in the Pyrenees has risen to 43, however the scheme has caused controversy over the years, with shepherds worried about risks to their flocks. Part of the bear programme involves training shepherds how to guard their flocks and compensates them when bears do attack. Associations formed to

Photo: Conselh Generau d’Aran

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encourage the bears’ return say they boost the natural ecosystem and encourage tourism. Opposition in Spain, which has more bears than France, had been less intense than in France, but the attacks by Goiat (‘lad’ in Catalan) have led to calls for action to deal with the ‘problem’ bear.

Mónica Martínez from the Catalan regional government said: “We have to make sure that one bear will not put in peril the 20 years of work consolidating the bear population in the Pyrenees. “It is for this reason, that at a high level, we are considering whether it should be removed from its environment.”

So far this year, Goiat has attacked six adult horses, four colts, four sheep and a goat, as well as destroying two beehives, all on the Spanish side of the border. Wildlife rangers have been able to confirm the bear was in the area of the attacks, because it is still wearing the GPS tracking collar fitted when it was released. The device shows that Goiat has also wandered into France on numerous occasions but does not appear to have made any attacks on the French side of the Pyrenees. Officials say that the bear has never shown any aggression towards or interest in humans. If it is decided that action has to be taken Goiat might be sedated and moved to another area, or might be shot. Ms Martínez said the bear’s behaviour, especially attacking horses and colts and eating them, was abnormal. It is usual for horses and colts to be left to forage freely in the Val d’Aran.

The Connexion

September 2018

Memory of war lives on in forest flowers

Photos supplied by Damien Georges / ONF

Anger over security bills for festivals

ROWS have broken out after the government advised prefectures to bill mairies and other organisers of regional festivals for full cost of security at events including national and riot police, gendarmes and snipers. Several organisers of free-access public events condemn the move, which has already seen some festivals hit with bills, often high due to extra security needs due to terrorist attacks. In the past much of the costs were paid for by the state under its duty to protect the public (mairies paid a part, such as for municipal police officers). The government has now said prefectures should negotiate case by case using ‘discernment’. Former Culture Minister Jack Lang said some organisers are being hit with ‘staggering’ bills which could ‘kill’ some festivals. Those affected include the Fèria de Béziers, which has free festivities linked to the corridas. The city’s mayor has spoken out after being told to expect a bill in future years which he says may amount to €2 million and be ‘impossible to pay’ unless festival-goers are charged to attend.

News 9


The ‘Big Red One’ division visits the Argonne forest where (right) American flowers grow because of seeds that fell from wartime horse feed THE ARGONNE forest near the Belgian border is home to certain colourful little flowers usually only found in America – they were brought over accidentally by troops in the First World War. American soldiers have been visiting to see them and walk in the footsteps of their forebears, as part of the commemorations of 100 years since the armistice. Forester Damien Georges of the Office National des Forêts said they found it moving to see the flowers. “It’s part of their history that no-one paid attention to before,” he said. “In the days when we had visits from veterans of the war we spoke of the men, not of these little flowers, but now it’s all part of the archaeolo-

gy of the area and we can speak of the mutilated trees, traces left in the forest of the war – and the flowers.” He added: “They came in hay. In 191718 Americans brought 62,000 horses and mules to pull carts and canons, even though there were already motorised trucks, and ten tons of food per animal.” Flowers started to spring up once the forest began to be actively managed again in the 1980s after being left alone to recover from the war damage, Mr Georges said. Now the ONF has created a plantation of them. Known as plantes obsidionales [technical term for non-native plants brought over due to war], they include blue-eyed grass and Canada

goldenrod, with blue and yellow flowers, and two non-flowering carex grassy plants that are also typically American. Among the visitors this summer were soldiers of the First Infantry Division, known as the Big Red One, America’s oldest regular army division, which first served in 1917. “They were General Pershing’s division and the first to arrive in France. They freed my village and surrounding ones between October 4-10, 1917. They lost 1,790 people and more than 7,000 were injured,” said Mr Georges. “We have taken the opportunity of the commemorations to create a plantation in their honour with American red oaks, whose leaves go red in the autumn, and

around them Douglas firs to represent the colours of their shoulder patch.” Also visiting were soldiers of the 42nd ‘rainbow’ division, which was led by General Douglas MacArthur in whose honour a monument has been put up. Visitors to the site, at the village of Cornay, can follow new botanic and historic trails and there is a new panoramic table of locations of battles where those fighting included future president Harry Truman and the future (Second World War leader) General George S. Patton. Mr Georges said guided tours are organised from time to time and May is the best time to see the plants (information from damien.georges@onf.fr).

Fewer road deaths but fines rise Robot sniper injures with precision A MODEST drop in road deaths – down 5.5% year on year – was noted in July, the first month following the reduction of the speed limit to 80kph on many secondary roads, however speed camera fines doubled. It comes as controversy is brewing in the south over a permanent reduction from 110 to 90kph on a busy 20km stretch of the A8 motorway. July’s reduction in deaths (19 less than July 2017 making 344 in total) was accompanied by a significant reduction in serious injuries, with 11% fewer than

July 2017. However deaths also reduced year-on-year in May and June (by 8% and 9%) after the launch of a raft of measures prioritising safety following three years of rising mortality. Officials said that a hike in fines linked to the new limits on secondary roads will subside once people get used to them. Meanwhile the government is in a dispute over limits on the motorway between Nice SaintIsidore and Antibes. It asked Escota, the Vinci Autoroutes subsidiary which manages the A8, to install signs whose word-

ing can be changed at a distance so as to display temporary speed reductions at busy times but Escota said it would have to put up the tolls to pay for it. The state is now threatening to enforce a permanent reduction to 90kph, possibly from this autumn, and the president of the Alpes-Maritimes council said that if it happens Escota should be forced to make the stretch free of charge. However Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said a speed reduction was unacceptable as it would increase journey times.

A FRENCH firm has invented a remote-controlled robot ‘soldier’, said to be the world’s first, which can accurately shoot to neutralise an enemy without killing them at up to 300m away. The company, SD4E, says its 4x4 mobile ‘Snibot’ is much more precise than a human sniper and can target effectively to shoot a person in the arms or legs, thus avoiding vital organs. It means it could be used, for example, where terrorists have taken hostages or to stop a would-be suicide bomber before they set off their bomb.

SD4E say it would allow the army to take prisoners and question them instead of, as is often the case now, killing those who pose a threat because soldiers are not able to shoot precisely enough. It could also be deployed to protect certain sensitive areas avoiding stress and fatigue to soldiers, the company says. However a decision to activate the Snibot to shoot would still have to be taken by a human. The company hopes to persuade the French army to fund production of the robot, argu-

ing that it is a good investment as studies have shown the sector of military robots is likely to grow massively in future years. However the army has said armed robots are not currently the priority and it is initially focusing more on robots which can help evacuate wounded people, carry equipment or scout out potential mine zones. SD4E say that they would like to offer it to France but will sell their product to other countries if negotiations fail. American firms are said to be interested in the technology.

10 News in brief Beekeepers critical of €3m funds boost

Airbus reveals new 20-hour flight plane

BEEKEEPERS in France say a €3million boost from the government will not be enough to save young apiarists from going out of business. Loïc Leray, of the Union Nat­ ionale de l’Apiculture Française, said the government should look at pesticide use, and take other measures to address the wider problems of biodiversity and the environment at the same time.

plane manufacturer Airbus has unveiled its new A350-900 Ultra Long Range plane, which can fly for 20 hours – or 15,000km – non-stop. The XWB’s new Rolls-Royce engine is more fuel efficient, allowing the plane to fly further than ever before. Singapore Airlines has placed an order for seven planes, which it plans to use on nonstop US long-haul flights.

New radar monitors Paris car pollution

Total ban on mobile phones in schools

A new kind of traffic monitor has appeared on the streets of Paris – but this one monitors pollution levels rather than driver behaviour. The device, near Place de la Nation, can perform 20,000 scans per second, with results – showing levels of nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon particulates – available to the mairie in real time.

Smartphones and similar devices are to be banned from schools and colleges across France from this September. Students will not be able to use or access their smartphones or devices for the entire school day, including during breaks – except in establishments or circumstances allowing ‘specific authorisation’, such as for an urgent medical issue.

Photo: Mickael Gagne Photographies

Women cycle racers demand parity for Tour

Some of the 2018 Donnons des Elles racers: Caroline Trift, Céline Lauret, Lore Le Pabic and Claire Floret A group of female cyclists again completed this year’s Tour de France one day ahead of their male counterparts, to demand equivalent recognition for their sport. The group – which is made up of many different nationalities – first launched the project in 2015, calling it Donnons des Elles Au Vélo and is part of a wider campaign to call for an equivalent Tour de France race for female riders. This is the fourth year they have cycled the Tour route, covering the exact 3,251km, 21-stage route. Some sponsors have started to show interest, including FDJ, Skoda and even the cycling federation. Last year national French TV followed the women’s tour and gave them their own daily television programme.

Photo: AuctionLab / Twitter

Rodin art sold for €108,000

A WORK by sculptor Auguste Rodin dedicated to artist Claude Monet has sold for €108,000 at auction in Cannes. Named Bacchantes S’enlaçant for its figures embracing, it is in white plaster and dates from 1896. It was sold with a collection of nine Monet drawings – some which sold for over €20,000 each – plus his paintbox, which sold for €8,400.

The Connexion


September 2018

Plenty of brass gets classic locomotive back on rails

A mainline steam locomotive built in 1922 is back on Normandy’s rails after nine years and a thorough restoration by a team of volunteers. The Pacific 231 locomotive based at Sotteville-Lès-Rouen in Seine-Maritime broke down in 2009 when a bearing on one of its 1.94m diameter driving wheels failed due to a faulty oil supply, melting the brass. “It is a big part and very expensive,” Philippe Caron from the Pacific Vapeur Club (PVC) told Connexion. “There was nowhere in France able to make and fit it so we had to send the wheel and axle to a specialist in Germany... after first raising the money to do so.” The PVC has 60 volunteers who gather every Tuesday to spend a day working on locomotives (they also have two old diesel engines), and on the carriages dating from the 1930s which they use to raise funds with trips to Dieppe etc. “We are a mixed bunch, all retired, and nearly all from engineering backgrounds,” said Mr Caron. “We have people who worked in paper making, oil rigs, electricity, construction, newspapers, and former members of SNCF. What unites us is our passion for locomotives and especially our big Pacific, which we call Princess.” While the wheels were off, the team cleaned and repaired parts which might otherwise have been neglected... uncovering and replacing rusting gas tubes. “You are working with big heavy parts but we are in a well-equipped workshop and there are always people around who know how things should be done.” By January the team were able to fire up the boilers and take the locomotive on test runs. “It was wonderful to see,

Cost of a stamp set to cross €1 barrier BASIC stamp prices are to go above the €1 threshold for the first time in 2019. La Poste says that on January 1, the ‘red priority’ stamp will jump from €0.95 to €1.05. The ‘green letter’ stamp rises from €0.80 to €0.88.

Anger at €3.3m pay for new airline boss NEW Can­ad­ian Air France CEO Benjamin Smith has provoked outrage before he starts work, due to his €3.3m salary, his nationality and fears he will push lower-cost options. Unions threatened strikes as

hear and smell it in action again. There is nothing else like it.” The Pacific 231 locomotive was one of 30 built in the 1920s and there are only three remaining. Used on the Normandy-Paris main lines at a sustained 130kph, they were among the fastest trains in Europe. The locomotive narrowly escaped being scrapped as it was used as a static furnace in 1969 and 1970 at Dieppe docks to heat fuel for the car ferries.

Once replaced, it was left at Dieppe station and train fans started trying to buy it to make sure it was not scrapped. It weighs 25.5 tonnes empty, and 60 tonnes when loaded with coal and filled with 8,500 litres of water. At maximum (2,500hp) power it uses 15m3 of water an hour and between 1.5 tonnes and two tonnes of coal per 100km. On outings it pulls 1930s passenger wagons restored by the association and reservations are through pvcasso.fr

SNCF in €3bn deal for 100 TGVs

they fear his role as dual CEO of the Air France-KLM group means he will favour KLM pilots over those at Air France.

One-third admit to motorway littering A third of people admit to throwing rubbish out of car windows when on the motorway despite risking a €450 fine. A quarter told pollsters they had thrown organic matter like fruit but 14% said it was cigarette ends and chewing gum.

France tops EU’s unwed parents list France is the European capital of unmarried parents.

RAIL giant SNCF has ordered 100 new TGV trains from French manufacturer Alstom in what has been called the “biggest order of TGVs ever in France”. The €3billion deal buys ‘fifth generation’ trains that are more comfortable, brighter, more accessible and ‘better connected’. Eco-friendly, they save 20% on energy and 37% on carbon footprint against today’s TGVs.

Official figures have revealed that six out of 10 children born in France in 2016, the last year for which figures are available, were born to parents who had not tied the knot. Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, said this put the French ahead of all other member states. Across the EU, the average is 43%.

Church bells toll too loud for gîte guests VISITORS at a vicarage gîte in Occitanie asked the mairie to change the time of the morning church bells, because they did not want to be woken up at 7am while on holiday. The guest house is attached to

the church, whose bells ring at 7am, midday and 7pm. The mayor said: “The bells have been ringing for years, no-one has ever complained...it is a vicarage; next to a church; there are bells, there are [also] flies and cockerels...voilà.”

Vandals wreck plaque to executed gay pair

a plaque commemorating the last homosexual couple to be executed in France has been vandalised in Paris and the mairie has started an inquiry. The plaque is for Jean Diot and Bruno Lenoir, who were arrested in 1750, and burned to death at the stake for the thencrime of homosexuality.

The Connexion

September 2018

News in brief 11


The 32-star, €400-meal chef who also cooked for the masses CHEF Joël Robuchon, who died aged 73 in August, was a man of contrasts – he ran some of the world’s most expensive restaurants but also brought fine and affordable food to the masses. Former Ritz chef and president of the acclaimed Meilleur Ouvrier de France (M.O.F) Jean-Fran­çois Girardin said Robuchon’s success was due to his insistence on precision and quality and his traditional craftsmanship nurtured via the systems of compagnonnage and the M.O.F. His role in a long-running TV show in which he introduced chefs and their recipes, his mass-produced supermarket meals and a global restaurant network also contributed. At one stage Robuchon held a record 32 Michelin stars and is widely seen as one of most famous French chefs along with Paul Bocuse who died in January. Mr Girardin said

Police seek thank-you card boy, aged five Police are searching for a five-year-old boy named Timothée to thank him after receiving a postcard from him praising the force for its work. A postcard addressed to the “Police Nationale” of Reims, dated July 28, reads: “Thank you for protecting us from thieves and allowing us to feel safe”, and was “signed off ” by a five-year-old boy named Timothée, in his own handwriting.

Cat call to end mouse problem at Elysée

Robuchon encouraged close colleagues and protégés to go through compagnonnage and the M.O.F. He said he had a grounding in classical cuisine, but moved it on, being one of the first to use vacuum slow cooking methods which added to the taste and texture of his meat and fish. He said Robuchon was exacting in demands on colleagues including teams who worked on his supermarket meals (he was one of the first to put his name to these). is arguing that the Elysée Palace needs more cats. Aurore Bergé, a spokesperson for LREM, said cats could help control the mouse population at the palace, the official home of the French President, and also at the National Assembly.

Uber apologises for driver’s jetty plunge UBER has apologised after two British tourists were charged €20 for a trip despite narrowly escaping death when the car they were in plunged into the harbour in Cannes. Nick Christoforou and Sophia Toon said their driver drove the vehicle off a jetty in Port Pierre Canto. The money has been refunded and the company has offered to pay for counselling.

Photo: Hugo et Emma, un combat pour la vie / Facebook

The Macrons have a dog – a black labrador-griffon cross named Nemo who came from an SPA refuge – but one MEP

Joël Robuchon

“The industrials would try to replace ingredients with powders and so on but he battled against it. He looked for solutions, even for an industrial product, to make high-quality food with good ingredients.” At one stage he made meals for trains. “No one had ever eaten so well in the wagon lits. He used to say, it’s not because you’ve not got a lot of money that you should eat badly; quality is for everyone.” In a similar vein he opened simple atelier restaurants (from the name for compagnons’ meeting rooms) where meals are more affordable than the €3-400 a head in his three-star ones (linked to rarefied service, tableware etc). He sparked a trend which others like Ducasse have followed and which is now booming worldwide in bistronomie or gastropubs. “People look to eat out more often and spend a bit less but still eat well whereas a two or three-star is likely to be a rare

‘Eco-friendly’ public urinal removed AN open-air “eco-friendly” public urinal in Paris is to be removed from an historic area of Ile Saint-Louis, little more than a month after being installed. The bright red toilet, which works in the same way as a composting toilet and is covered in garden-like vegetation, was the subject of numerous complaints from residents.

‘Dark Sky’ status for French national park The Cévennes National Park in Occitanie has been named France’s second International Dark Sky Reserve, and the 13th in the world. The status celebrates land that is deemed to possess “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment”.

Soft cheese as cows head down mountain

€4m for children’s lifesaving trial A couple from Ile-de-France are seeking to raise €4 million to allow their two young children to take part in a clinical trial that may improve or cure the fatal neurodegenerative condition from which they both suffer. Julien and Alicia Mercier from Aulnay-sous-Bois (Seine-SaintDenis) are parents to Hugo and Emma, who are aged three, and 10 months respectively. The children suffer from the very rare, genetic neurological condition, Sanfilippo type B. At the time of writing, the parents have raised €344,157 from 7,169 contributors online and are aiming to boost further awareness via their Facebook Page, but have less than three months to reach their target. You can make a donation and find out more (including in English) at goo.gl/d1ET2S.

Production of Mont d’Or, the popular seasonal cheese from the Haut-Doubs (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), began in late August with the first cheeses scheduled to be available from September 10. The soft cheese is sold from September to mid-May, while the cows are on lower pastures over winter and do not produce enough milk to make Comté.

16,000 sign up to rent out their pools An online service that allows homeowners to rent out their swimming pools for a few hours has picked up around 16,000 subscribers in France since its launch. Swimmy has

treat,” said Mr Girardin. Mashed potatoes were a signature dish but the secret lay more in the precision (including boiling the potatoes in their skins, peeling them hot, then putting them through a handheld potato ricer) than the three ingredients of top-quality potatoes, butter and milk. It is not diet food… with as much butter as potato. Robuchon was also known for his twists on classic cold dishes, such as starters in a fine layer of aspic beautifully presented with precise decorative flourishes. “If there were spots of sauce, the distance between them had to be exactly the same; it was a work of art.” He will also be remembered for having trained a great many top chefs including Gordon Ramsey who paid tribute to his mentor as “the Godfather of Michelin; the most decorated chef in the world”, saying “he kept us all on our toes”. been described as the Airbnb of pools. It allows subscribers to rent the pools of private homeowners for several hours at a time, usually for a fixed rate per person per hour.

Anthrax outbreak hits farms in SE France



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Bistro best Cooking the classics with Alain Ducasse

More than 50 animals on 28 farms have died in the HauteAlpes since the end of June in the worst outbreak of anthrax in France for nearly 20 years. The situation was made worse as the Spanish laboratory that makes vaccines for the disease was closed throughout August for staff summer holidays.

Bumper mushroom crop sees prices fall Wild mushrooms are having a record early year in parts of France after a “catastrophic season” last summer. The increase in crop means that market prices have dropped considerably. Last year, cèpes were selling for as much as €40 per kilogramme, and chanterelles at €30. Reports in Nice this year say that markets have been selling cèpes for as little as €22 per kilogramme.

Aquarium warns of goldfish ‘slow death’ The Trocadero Aquarium in Paris is asking goldfish-owners to bring in their fish to be rehomed in its tanks in a bid to prevent the pets from “dying a slow death” in a small bowl. The aquarium says that at least 50 fish – which had previously been kept in bowls in houses – are brought in and added to its four-million-litre tanks every month. There fish grow to over 20cm and live for 10 years in contrast to the bowl lifespan of three to four years.

+ The curious creation of Tarte Tatin + A top topiary garden to visit + Swashbuckling and storytelling: the wild story of the Dumas family + How did Le Figaro get its name? + France’s favourite village

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The Connexion


September 2018

Tour the places where intellectual giants

place at the London School of Economics. “I completed two thirds of my PhD and decided I didn’t want to teach,” she said. “I started writing and broadcasting about our two cultures and was successful, so continued in journalism. “Perhaps I will complete my PhD some day!” Now 45, Ms Poirier divides her time between homes in Paris and North London with her family. “When I began my research, I thought I ought to talk to relatives or friends of my subjects. “Often my hoped-for interviewee would cancel or call to say they were too busy to see me. Sometimes, I would even find their picture in the obituary columns the next day! “Biographies and diaries produced after the war were also unreliable because they were usually re-edited. “I knew I had to go deeper, so I went back to the 1890s to research the backgrounds of some of my subjects then pored over contemporary press cuttings to compare dates of events such as plays and exhibitions and check what was going on politically. “I searched for original diaries and hunted in university archives and book shops for contemporary accounts – in fact, any leads I could find.” She struck gold with one interviewee: the 91-year-old chanteuse and actress, Juliette Gréco : “Her assistant said that Juliette was too busy to see me

as she was recording a new album and off on a tour! “I said I would like to talk about her music, took a train to St Tropez and met her. “She looked amazing and could remember things about that time that I didn’t know. “At the end of the interview I told her I was doing the book and she was fine about it. What a woman.” She added that Writing Left Bank had been an inspiring experience: “I am in awe. For instance, Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre would work until 9pm, go out, eat, drink, party, come back to their hotel and have an early start. Simone was extremely diligent with her writing, but had lovers of both sexes, went on lecture tours, drank, encouraged other writers and artists, took holidays, and, to her, walking 20km was nothing.” She concludes: “These artistic giants who turned war-torn, grief-stricken Paris into the capital of brave new thought, weren’t just extraordinary, they were superhuman”. Left Bank: Art, Passion and the rebirth of Paris, 1940-1960 by Agnes Poirier is available from Amazon.fr (€19, hardback), Amazon.co.uk (£17), Kindle,( £15). Or, from English and American bookshops throughout France including, in Paris, WH Smith, Galignani, and Shakespeare and Company.

These artistic giants who turned wartorn, grief-stricken Paris into the capital of brave new thought weren’t just extraordinary. They were superhuman

Author Agnès Poirier


172 Boulevard St Germain Picasso (right) ate supper in the Café de Flore after a day’s work then walked the almost 4km back across the river to home at 23 rue de la Boétie. Other Left Bank intellectual regulars included de Beauvoir and Sartre, Simone Signoret, Albert Camus, Saul Bellow and James Baldwin.

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Photo: wikimedia Photo: Mbzt_CC 3.0_wikimedia


Photo: bzt_CC SA 3.0_wikimedia


Photo: FLLL_CC BY-SA 4.0,_wikimedia

Agnès Poirier takes a look at her book while taking Sally Ann Voak on a tour of the intellectual hotspots of Paris

Photo: Moshe Milner / CC BY-SA 3.0

60 Rue de Seine Hotel Louisiane where de Beauvoir (right), Sartre, Gréco and many others lived for years during and after the Second World War. It is still standing and is still a hotel.

Photo: Argentina / Public Domain

1 Photo: Sally Ann Voak

Dozens of articles and biographies have been published about literary, art and music icons Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Pablo Picasso, Juliette Gréco and Miles Davis. Until now, little has been revealed about how their lives, and those of other creative people who lived on the Paris Left Bank during and after the Second World War, became intertwined. They formed liaisons, had affairs, drank and partied, yet produced brilliant books, plays, music and art. How did they manage it? A new book provides some of the answers and a wealth of fascinating detail about that period. Written, in English, by French journalist and author Agnes Poirier, the 350-page book pulls no punches and reads like a racy novel – with intimate details about their sex lives, intrigues, feuds and friendships. Ms Poirier also explores the dangers these legendary figures faced during the Occupation, often together, and how their politics were shaped. “I knew that these people were all in Paris at about the same time and must have been in contact,” she said. “I was intrigued. The danger, the sex, the drugs, the drinking – how on earth could they live like that and produce such amazing books, paintings, plays, and music? I wanted to join the dots!” Ms Poirier worked on the book for three years. The result is a wholly satisfying read: densely-packed with anecdotes, dates, facts and intimate stories. Every detail had to be meticulously researched and those dots joined up very carefully. “It was an ordeal,” she confessed. “I spent a year on research, another to sort it all out then get the first draft down on paper, the third to cut and rewrite. It nearly killed me!” She was well-equipped to take on the task. Born in Paris, she studied history at the Sorbonne, political sciences and Russian at Sciences Po in Paris. Aged 22, she gained a

Take a stroll through the Paris Latin Quarter with Agnes Poirier, who plotted a walk for readers via hotels, houses, cafes and galleries frequented by Left Bank writers and artists more than 65 years ago. She said: “The area is compact and people could socialise at the bars, restaurants and clubs, and, if necessary, find cheap lodgings. Everyone walked a lot; it was the only way to get around.” First, find a good map of the Quartier Latin or a smartphone app. Start at Odéon Métro, walk to Rue de Seine... then follow the map!


Photo: Google 2018

Paris, centre of all that was new and brave, inspired them

The complex lives – and loves – of the extraordinary group of intellectuals who lived in Paris between 1940 and 1950 have been revealed in a new book. Its author Agnès Poirier gives Sally Ann Voak a guided tour of their favourite haunts...

How Left Bank became the On the vibrant Left Bank of Paris intellectuals found room to breathe, to live the life they chose and indulge their sexuality Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre rejected the traditional concept of marriage, family and fidelity. They had developed a new “philosophy of experience”, which quickly became known as ‘existentialism’, and which placed men and women in charge of their lives, including their relationships. It proved a popular idea, not just in France, but in the rest of Europe and the US. De Beauvoir had affairs with men and women. Her great love, second only to Sartre himself, was Nelson

Algren, the American author (The Man with the Golden Arm, later made into a successful film). Algren featured in Simone’s novel The Mandarins. After a blissful four-month idyll in Paris, the couple broke up. With her second volume of Le Deuxième Sexe just released, she felt energised by the affair – which was just as well, as she received a barrage of criticism about her work’s descriptions of the sex act, and her scholarly analysis of women’s conditioning to take the ‘inferior’ role. Meanwhile, Sartre was writing brilliant novels and plays, working on the couple’s magazine Les Temps Modernes,

and spreading his ideas with gruelling lecture tours including a sell-out tour of the US. In 1948, he founded a political party, the Democratic and Revolutionary Alliance; 1,000 people turned up to the launch press conference! Yet, he found time for passionate flings with many women. The most exotic was the beautiful Italian-African artists’ muse Dolores Vanetti, who he met in New York. When they finally broke up, Dolores went back to her doctor husband and her flat full of priceless art and would never talk about Sartre again. Miles Davis arrived in Paris at the age of 22 to take part in a jazz festival and promptly fell in love with the mesmeris-

The Connexion

September 2018

Culture 13




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14 Rue Monsieur le Prince Richard Wright lived here with his wife Ellen and daughter Julia. After leaving New York and its colour prejudice behind, he found Paris disappointing at first (the French looked poor, thin and hungry!) but he went on to produce some of his finest work here.


18 Rue de Tournon The Café Le Tournon was popular with American writers Richard Wright (Uncle Tom’s Children, Native Son) and James Baldwin (Go Tell it on the Mountain, Another Country). It is a charming bistrot/brasserie, so you can stop for a refreshment, or wait until the final visit...

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12 12 14 Rue du Dragon Pop into the brilliant Cahier d’Art library and gallery. The publishing house was founded by art critic and collector Christian Zervos, a friend of Picasso. He produced the definitive catalogue of the artist’s work, which takes in some 33 volumes!


188 Boulevard St Germain A few minutes’ gentle walk brings you to the doors of Le Rouquet, the café where Simone de Beauvoir would work when she had grown tired of the crowd at the Flore. It is now a bustling bistro, with a young clientele. Its 1950s décor remains intact.


8 Rue de Verneuil James Baldwin (pictured)

checked in to the little Hotel Verneuil when he arrived in Paris, penniless, aged 24. Manager, Mme Dumont, allowed her young tenants to be late with their rent and play jazz all night – when she wanted to sleep, she simply turned off the electricity!


4 and 5 Rue St Benoît Le Petit Benoît, the restaurant at No4, was founded in 1901 and is still open for lunch and dinner. It was frequented by many artists and writers including novel-

ist, writer and film-maker Marguerite Duras (Hiroshima, Mon Amour). Until her death in 1996, she lived opposite, on the third floor of No5. Photo: Allan Warren / CC BY-SA 3.0


Follow the yellow-pinned route once trod by Paris’s 20th-century intellectuals


7 Rue des Grands Augustins Picasso’s huge wartime studio was in this 17th century Hôtel de Savoie, one of the many hôtel particuliers (private mansions) of Paris. In the mornings, he would hold ‘open house’ for other artists and writers.


6 Rue de Savoie Just round the corner from his studio, was the home of photographer Dora Maar, Picasso’s mistress. She was replaced by Françoise Gilot but the ex-lovers continued to meet for lunch.

11 Rue Bréa Author Norman Mailer (right) lived here while completing courses in French language and culture, and writing. His best-selling novel, The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948, shortly after he returned to the US. He walked from here across the gardens on his way to the university. LOTS OF VARIATIONS... There are lots of ways to vary the tour dependent on the time you have, your appetite for walking and the number of eating and drinking detours you make... One option recommended by Agnes is to start with 1, Rue de Seine, then move to 3, 9, 10, 11 and then to 7 and 8 at rue St Benoît before walking round to 2 and 4 and down to the Jardins with 6. Final leg would be to 5 for a sly tipple at Café Le Tournon or, for those fancying a picnic, head down to 12 and rue Bréa.

Photo: Victor Diaz Lamich / CC BY-SA 3.0

home of generations of free-thinkers

ing Juliette Gréco (above), almost forgetting about his sweetheart back in New York, and their two children. Racial prejudice was rare in Paris, so when her black lover refused to take her back to New York, Juliette was devastated. Years later, on a trip to

New York, she met up with him again. She told Agnes Poirier: “I invited Miles to dinner at the Waldorf, and the maitre d’hotel’s face was indescribable. Our food was practically thrown at us. “In America, his colour was made blatantly obvious, in Paris I had never noticed it. “ Saul Bellow had a love-hate relationship with Paris and often mocked the Left Bank crowd, preferring to socialise with rich Americans. However, he shared a beautiful young mistress with his friend Harold Kaplan, never mentioning his wife and son living with him in Paris. She later married a 23-year-old novelist. Pablo Picasso, whose studio

became a “salon” in the mornings with artists and writers dropping in, had set up his mistress, photographer Dora Maar, just around the corner, but, in the freezing winter of 1943, he became entranced by a slim, young woman with green eyes, a tiny waist and a mole on her nose. The woman, Françoise Gilot, became his love, and a huge influence on his art. After 1950, life and the Left Bank, changed. Americans went back home, intellectuals regrouped and some moved out of Paris. Simone even left her beloved hotel and rented a flat! “The 50s were years of experimentation in art, writing and fashion and also years of rebellion – sex was part of

that,” says Ms Poirier. “The existentialist movement was almost inbred in younger Parisians.” Fed by magazines and cinema clubs a, glamorous group took centre stage. Fresh, independent actress Brigitte Bardot, outspoken young writer Françoise Sagan, and filmmaker François Truffaut became the new superstars. Freedom, hedonism, and fast cars were top of the new list of pleasures – in art, books, cinema and real life. As they became successful, the younger generation favoured homes on the affluent Right Bank but the ambition and talent of the brilliant Left Bank intellectuals was almost in their DNA…

Photo: Carl Van Vechten / Public Domain



Photo: Carl Van Vechten / Public Domain

Image: Google Earth

drank, flirted and created

Ravel’s ‘crazy’ Boléro is 90 this year – visit the house where he lived by OLIVER ROWLAND THIS autumn sees the 90th anniversary of French composer Maurice Ravel’s Boléro, one of the most popular pieces of clas­ sical music in the world despite – or perhaps because of – it being so unconventional. Ravel actually thought most orchestras would refuse to play it and in later years lamented “I only wrote one masterpiece but unfortunately it has no music in it” (he preferred his more com­ plex works). After one early per­ formance a woman reputedly cried out “he’s crazy”, to which Ravel said “she’s spot on”. It repeats a tune 18 times over a quarter of an hour, without variation or rhythm changes, with gradually more instruments and volume. It starts with a snare drum, pianissimo, then brings in a flute and builds up to the whole orchestra fortissimo possible (as loud as possible). Next month there is a chance to hear music by Ravel and his contemporaries at Les Journées Ravel festival in Montfort l’Am­ aury, Yvelines (in its 23rd year). The town is home to the house where Ravel lived when he com­ posed the hit. The Boléro was popular right from the start and went on to be used in many ways, inclu­ding a 1934 Hollywood film Boléro in which it featured heavily as it did in 1981 Cannes festival prize­ winner Les Uns et les autres by Claude Lelouch (released as Boléro in the US) and a danced version by renowned French/ Swiss choreographer Maurice Béjart considered by many his masterpiece. Many Britons dis­ covered it through Jayne Torvill and Christo­pher Dean’s 1984 Winter Olympics winning per­ formance and it has gone on to be used in every final of the British TV show Dancing on Ice. In fact the piece was commis­ sioned by Ravel’s friend Ida Rubin­stein, a former star balleri­ na of the Ballets Russes, who wanted to put on a show with a Spanish theme. He based it on the ¾ rhythm of a dance, the Boléro, he had come across on trips to Spain, writing a tune he considered to have an ‘insistent quality’ and using the ‘experi­ mental’ idea of continual repeti­ tion, which he said “will work, with a bit of luck”. He came up with it after facing copyright issues over his original idea of setting for orchestra some Spanish piano pieces. At its premiere at the Paris Opera on November 22, 1928, it was performed set in a tavern by Rubinstein and her troupe with the dancer leaping onto a table and dancing sensually and more and more energetically to cheers of encouragement. A critic called it ‘sumptuous’. Today it is usually a purely orchestral work. Legendary

Italian conductor Arturo Tos­ canini gave it its American pre­ miere in 1929 by the New York Phil­harmonic when it was greet­ ed with “shouts and cheers from the audience”, according to a New York Times review. He conducted the orchestra again on tour at the Paris Opera in 1930, again to acclaim, but fell out with Ravel for playing “too fast” and “not my tempo”. Toscanini is said to have retort­ ed: “You don’t know anything about your own music – it’s the only way to save the work”. Another peculiarity is that it calls for a sopranino (miniature, high-pitched) saxophone in F – an instrument which was never made – as well as soprano and tenor ones. The top part is usu­ ally played on a Bb soprano sax­ ophone, the highest stan­dard version of the instrument. Ravel was born in a fishing vil­ lage near Biarritz in 1875 to a Swiss inventor father and Spanish mother and is often called ‘impressionist’, like his contemporary and rival Debussy. He had eclectic sources of inspi­ ration ranging from baroque to jazz. The president of the Journées Ravel festival, Patricia Guerlain said: “The Boléro is a daring piece, it’s innovative and you can’t get it out of your head - but I like all of his work. “He lived the last 17 years of his life in our town and we’re very interested in him here. Each year we listen to his music and I’ve learned to love him more than any other composer.” She added: “He composed an enormous amount, not just the Boléro; Pavane pour une infante défunte [dance for a dead prin­ cess], Le Tom­beau de Couperin [Couperin’s tomb], Concerto pour la main gauche [concerto for the left hand], Chansons Madécasses [Madagascan songs]… they’re all superb.” Ms Guerlain said Ravel’s home in their town has remained intact. “There are all his little objects and you can discover his personality. “It’s touching and subtle and people who like Ravel find it moving to see. He decorated it himself and was meticulous, which comes across in his tiny little house.” (for visits see tinyurl.com/yaj6o4f5). The festival runs from October 6-14 (lesjourneesravel.com). Highlights will include prize-winning French string quartet Quatuor Ebène, leading pianist Philippe Cassard (who will play extracts from Le Tombeau de Couperin and Pavane pour une infant défunte, among other pieces) and Stra­ vinsky’s The Soldier’s Story, played by the Orchestra of the Republican Guard with a recita­ tion by actor Lambert Wilson (known especially for the Matrix films).

14 Comment

September 2018

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

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.

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

Macron should have honoured First World War fallen at Amiens IT is hard to think of a more evocative symbol of what Emmanuel Macron is meant to stand for than Amiens. His home city is a testament to revival: a place frequently destroyed by horrific wars but now, thanks to the European Union, peaceful and productive. How strange then that the President of France chose to ignore a long-planned commemoration of its savage history, especially as the 100th anniversary of the November 11, 1918 Armistice approaches. Instead of joining dignitaries such as Theresa May and Prince William in remembering the Battle of Amiens, which took place in August of that year, he remained sunbathing at the Brégançon Fort, his presidential holiday home on the Riviera. Staying away from the moving service in Notre-Dame Cathedral in the capital of the Somme department was an insult to the thousands killed and wounded at the start of the so-called 100 Days offensive that led to the end of the First World War. Macron missed Mrs May reading from the memoires of her wartime predecessor David Lloyd George, and former German President Joachim Gauck reciting After A Bad Dream 1918, by Gerrit Engelke – the Hanover poet killed on the Western Front and now frequently compared to Wilfred Owen. Beyond offering the chance to perform his own solemn act of remembrance, Macron’s presence would have reinforced his frequent rhetoric about the crucial need for unity between neighbours. I spoke to him about Amiens at length during his election campaign last year and he said growing up in such a war-torn region added a “never again” element to his thinking. He described the eerie mass cemeteries, and the now fertile farmland where young men were gassed, mutilated, and ultimately massacred in their thousands. This cannon fodder included the brightest and the best from the great European powers, but also huge numbers from Empire countries such as Algeria and India. There was nothing new about the disaster either: there was a ferocious Battle of Amiens in 1870 when Prussian forces invaded, forcing the French out of the city. As well as turning into a military garrison and being bombed constantly during the 1914-18 War, it was overrun by German Panzers in 1940. Reconstruction programmes bare-

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ly got going before more historic streets were destroyed, with the beautiful 13th century Cathedral being among the few buildings left unscathed. In turn there has been no war between any of the 28 European Union member states since 1945, and certainly not France and Germany. Macron was born in a town nowadays better known for its tourist trade than its strategic position on military maps. He is the first French head of state in post-war history to have escaped any kind of national service, least of all with the army, airforce or navy. Instead he has been able to concentrate on building up a career championing the EU mantras of freedom of goods, serStaying away vices, labour and from the capital. moving He once called service was Brexit a “crime”, an insult to and still disthe thousands plays a studied killed and indifference wounded to the problems Britain is encountering as it tries to extract itself from the EU. Macron wants to reform the bloc from within, while highlighting the importance of the Pax Europaea, the 73 years and counting of stability that contributed to the EU winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. The President is particularly appalled by the kind of xenophobia, and indeed outright racist violence, that has accompanied a rise in anti-Europe sentiment. “Nationalism is war,” he told Marine Le Pen, his far-right rival for the presidency during a live TV debate. “I know it, I come from a region that is full of graveyards.” Le Pen, ever the populist with no interest in history unless it fits in with her hateful manifesto, replied: “You shouldn’t pretend to be something new when you dredge up boring old arguments that are at least 50 years old.” Macron should have been proud at being on the end of such a retort. Those who reminisce about the darkness of the past are best qualified to deal with the present, and that’s why his duty was to honour the fallen in Amiens.


o mark the rentrée politique – when French politicians return to work after what is now an ostentatiously short holiday – Le Figaro ran a spread designed to crush the morale of any member of the French political class preparing to confront the challenges of the year ahead. It pointed out that La République En Marche – the president’s party – was fragmented and resistant to being organised, and the president himself has approval ratings in the proverbial tank. The Front National – now renamed Rassemblement National – is, according to leader Marine Le Pen, who was thrashed in last year’s presidential election, facing bankruptcy after €2m of state funds were blocked following allegations that the party had fictitious employees on its payroll. The party is accused of misusing €7m over a period of eight years. Les Républicains, under Laurent Wauquiez, are said still to be in a phase of “reconstruction” – in other words, they are far from being able to agree on their way forward, despite the collapse in M Macron’s popularity. As for the Parti Socialiste, they are in such a state that they have decided not even to have a party conference, or université de l’été, this year. There is a massive malaise among the French with their political class, as in many countries in the western world, not just in Europe. It is why Hillary Clinton did not proceed to what she and her followers believed to be her rightful place in the White House; and why the British public disobeyed David Cameron and voted for Brexit. It is why a government has come to power in Italy that threatens to upturn the apple cart with Brussels; and why populist regimes hold power in Poland and Hungary. The novelty of populism has not worn off. Against this mildly revolutionary background France looks staid and frustrated. Turnout for the 2017 election was the lowest since 1969; four million people either put in a blank ballot or spoiled their papers; a third of those who voted, in a supposedly progressive western European country, voted for a far-right party. The cast politicians available for the French to choose from consists largely of the usual suspects – people who have been around for years, worked their way up through the French political system, trained at the École Nationale d’Administration, and utterly disconnected from those they either govern or hope to govern. No wonder, in the search for novelty, the electorate went for a largely unknown young politician last year, without a conventional party; and, equally, no wonder he has disappointed them. There have been reforms – such as in education, making the classroom experience more rigorous and disciplined – and the trade unions have, to an extent, been faced down. Yet M Macron has been less radical than promised. His conformity, not least in his attitude to deeper EU

To restore trust in politics, Macron must look to build a Sixth Republic

integration, does not inevitably play well among French voters. Many are still searching for something different. The trouble is, there is no unanimity of view about what they want. Part of the problem with France is the concentration of enormous power in the executive, and especially in the hands of the president. It has led to calls in recent years to found a Sixth Republic, in which the executive has less power and the people more – itself a sign of disenchantment with the political class. Most such calls have come from the left, which feels chronically disobliged by how Charles de Gaulle fashioned the Fifth Republic in 1958:

The last thing that France needs is constitutional reform that imposes more regulation and makes it harder for businesses to operate; the hard-left tail needs to stop wagging the moderate, progressive capitalist dog

François Mitterrand spoke about doing it until he won 14 years in power under the system he had apparently hated. Ségolène Royal made constitutional reform a substantial part of her ill-fated 2007 programme. At the last election, both the Parti Socialiste’s Benoît Hamon and La France Insoumise’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon promised to do it. Yet those intellectuals who argue

for a Sixth Republic see it as having more referendums and what one has called “the proletarianisation of minds”, to stop elites inflicting their views on everyone else: the old, fatuous, Mélenchon line that plays well with a small, aggrieved minority. There is much talk of more rights – including expanding the right to strike, a little like offering an alcoholic the keys to the cellar and an electric corkscrew – but little of more duties. Critics accuse President Macron of behaving monarchically, easy to do if one has the power of a French president; but it is grist to the mill of those who want a new republic that would restrict his powers. There is a strong argument for reforming the French constitution; but, ironically, what is probably needed is something along the lines of the discredited Fourth Republic, with a powerful prime minister (something the Fourth Republic had more in theory than in practice), because of the volatility of France after the war, and a president who acts as a check and balance rather than Louis XIV. The last thing, though, that France needs is constitutional reform that imposes more regulation and makes it harder for businesses to operate; the hard-left tail needs to stop wagging the moderate, progressive capitalist dog. At the moment, President Macron gives an impression not just of being sporadically directionless, but of having surrounded himself with colleagues who are not always up to their jobs – fatal when he can do much as he likes. A new republic should dilute power at the top of the governing class, but not allow the people to impose a form of anarchy whenever they will. In a democracy, the public has to have the confidence to entrust the job of governing to an executive for four or five years, and leave them to it. If President Macron is as smart as he thinks he is, he will start the process of designing a constitution that inspires such confidence and, with it, re-ignites interest in politics – while he still has the chance.

The Connexion

September 2018

Animal rights activist who is turning French off meat one menu at a time

Space saver “Why can’t we have animals in the fields without eating them? If we were all vegan we would have space to do so because growing crops for humans takes less land than growing them for farm animals.” The public does not see farm animals anyway, she adds, as 90% of them spend their entire lives inside. “You see a few cows and sheep around, a few goats in the Alps, but almost no pigs live outdoors. Once we stop eating them, there will be land left over and we can give it to animals. Not like the cows in India, but in a more organised way. It would be a society which would take account of everyone’s needs, including animals.” The question of managing the young produced by animals living freely still needs thought, she admitted. “Companion animals, for example, don’t have to be of the same species. And sterilisation could have a place. Nature isn’t perhaps the best model because many atro-

Photo: BenjaminGenet1

Brigitte Gothière, the founder and president of animal rights association L214, explains to Connexion why the French are starting to embrace an increasingly meat-free diet ENDING France’s love affair with meat is not easy, but it is happening, says Brigitte Gothière founder of the L214 animal rights group and a leading proponent of veganism in France. She says convincing people that being vegan is not only possible but a healthy choice is working slowly. “We have to overcome our great tradition of gastronomy. We need vegan recipes and food options. “We’re working hard to persuade all restaurants in France to put at least one vegan option on their menus, and that’s starting to happen. We also want food-processing industries to offer vegan dishes. “The aim is to encourage people to turn away from intensively farmed animal products or, at the very least, to reduce their consumption of them.” Ultimately, Brigitte would like to see the entire French population become vegan so no animals are farmed at all. “The argument that if we don’t eat them they won’t exist is illogical.

Comment 15


cious things happen in nature. But contraception works, perhaps for animals too. “It’s difficult to see it today because we’re so dependent on animal farming, we don’t see it. And people resist new ideas.” Brigitte stopped eating animal products in 1993. Ten years later, with partner Sébastien Arsac, she founded Stop Gavage which lobbied against force-feeding ducks and geese for foie gras. In 2008, Stop Gavage developed to become the Association L214, which raises awareness of conditions in intensive animal farming units, live animal transportation, and abattoirs. She is now president of the organisation, which is responsible for numerous exposés of brutal treatment of animals in abattoirs across France; who could forget the images of pregnant cows being slaughtered! It has also published horrifying images of laying hens trampling each other to death in their cages. Source code The association’s name refers to Article L214 in the 1976 Code Rural which, for the first time in France designated animals as sensate beings: “Tout animal étant un être sensible doit être placé par son propriétaire dans des conditions compatibles avec les impératifs biologiques de son espèce.” [Every animal, as a sensate being, must be kept by its owner in conditions compatible with

the biological imperatives of its species.] Article L214 has never been seriously taken into account, either in practice or in the courts. “That’s why our work is so necessary,” said Brigitte, who also highlights the concept of ‘speciesism’ (discrimination against other species). “Shouldn’t all species have the same rights?” L214 deliberately takes a rigorous, logical, fact-based approach. “I taught physics and Sébastien is a maths teacher, so we both have scientific backgrounds. “We make films, take witness statements from professionals working in those places, study scientific publications and highlight the regulations in force.” Their videos, photos and reports have appeared on television, press and social media all over France and beyond. They have persuaded France’s leading supermarket chains, catering firms and processed food manufacturers to commit to ending the use and sale of eggs laid by hens in cages. Attitudes and vision “We also campaign against intensively reared rabbits kept in battery cages including those used to produce angora wool, industrial force-feeding of fowl, and intensive pig farming, for example. The campaign to get laying hens out of cages still hits blank walls all the time, she said. “People want to preserve the status quo. But we need to reflect and think how we can organise a world where animals have the same rights as humans. “People’s attitudes and vision is what has to change. We lack imagination. But we will continue campaigning forever and we rely on collective intelligence.” Polls show French public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of ending cages for laying hens. “We are also working on fishing and abattoirs but our aim is to raise standards in every type of animal farming.” Their website www.politique-animaux.fr lists all French politicians, rating their attitudes to animal welfare taken from their positions on various campaigns, how they have voted, and what they have said. “It’s important for people to see what their elected representatives think. The public want change but politicians aren’t aware of that, they don’t hear the message. “They are way out of step with the public on animal rights. For example, more than 50% of the public are against ‘gavage’ – but it is still legal and it still continues.”

School age matters As thousands of children across France head to maternelle for the first time this month, Samantha David asks if compulsory education from age three is necessary This rentrée, as children all over France head back to school, they will be joined by 26,000 children who would otherwise have stayed at home. This is because, from this September, maternelle is obligatory in France for all children aged three and up. The idea is that maternelle prepares children for school life; teaches them to ask before going to the toilet, to walk neatly in a crocodile line, to hang their coats on the right peg. They learn to fit in and not to hang on mummy’s apron strings. They learn to lie on the floor and make an ‘S’ shape like a ‘serpent’. They learn not to throw food in the canteen and – if you’re lucky – how to defend themselves from older kids with tougher attitudes. Those children who don’t go to school, so the story goes, are sitting at home drinking coke in front of the telly. Their parents don’t prioritise education, their educational attainment will never catch up; they will grow up to fail their exams, and join the lists of the long-term unemployed. In this scenario, forcing their parents to send them to school is a good thing, a step forward. It means giving all children an equal chance. I’m not sure. Around 97.7% of three-yearolds are already in maternelle so in one way nothing much will change; only a small number of children will be affected. But in another way, lots of things will change. In the past, maternelle was a choice. Parents could opt to keep their little ones at home, send them part-time, or take them out of school whenever they liked. Not all parents are feckless idiots, not all three-year-olds spend their time at home goggle-eyed on a sofa. Some parents teach their kids multiple

languages and take them abroad where they absorb a second culture, a parallel approach to life. Visits from family, trips back to see friends and relations, these are all important to children with dual cultures and mixed identities. This is vital. Imagine if attendance is strictly enforced and suddenly it isn’t possible to take your three-year-old back to the UK during the school term. It’s not a matter of wanting a cheaper holiday, it’s a matter of ensuring that inherited cultures are passed on. And it is not just French residents with a UK background. What about French residents with family in North Africa? Or anywhere else, for that matter. And a key point - not all parents are feckless, not all time off maternelle is wasted. Three-year-olds tire easily. I used to keep my daughter home when she looked a bit ‘peaky’, or when I was doing something interesting (visiting a museum, having lunch with non-French speaking friends, watching the dog give birth). Sometimes I kept her home simply because I wanted to make pizza with her, or go swimming in the lake, or lie in bed inventing fairy tales. Instead of going to maternelle, sometimes we made shadow puppets, we went scrumping, sometimes she made duvet dens, or Cornflake cookies. I spent hours reading to her, and later she bookwormed her way through every children’s classic going. And, in case you’re wondering how this affected her chances, she is tri-lingual, got her Bac L in France, and graduated with a Masters from Glasgow – even though her attendance at maternelle was thoroughly patchy. Tell us your view on this topic at news@connexionfrance.com

The joke is on everyone who takes pride in their chauvinist views by NICK INMAN Extreme nationalism is the flavour of the decade and has disturbing parallels with history as we approach the centenary of the end of World War One. It is actually from French that we get the word for its most extreme expression. Chauvinisme, named after zealous Napoleonic soldier, Nicolas Chauvin, means being more patriotic than patriotic. It goes beyond “my country is better than yours” to “my country is the best – at everything.” English has no equivalent word which is why, as it so often does, it borrowed from the French, removing the final E. It is not often used but was once com-

mon in the context of sexism – as in “male chauvinist pig”. However, the arrogance it describes is still going strong. Marine Le Pen was confident that she could harness France’s latent chauvinisme to win last year’s presidential election. On the other side of the Channel, Brexit is fuelled by incessant chauvinist rhetoric: “Britain is a special nation that is more than capable of going it alone; we don’t need telling what to do by the European Union” etc. Chauvinisme carries negative connotations – few people would readily describe themselves as one – but the concept conceals a useful question. What’s wrong with loving your country with a passion? If we are to see off excessive nationalism, don’t we need a word for healthy national pride but not

one that involves feeling superior to other countries? It is obvious no country is best at everything. Every country has something to offer the international community and to civilisation. Our aim has to be to rediscover, what that is without going further than that. We could say we need a healthy form of chauvinism to prevent the unhealthy variety from doing all the talking. France has been somewhat cowed since the demise of that arch-chauvinist de Gaulle and the end of the Trente Glorieuses, the 30 years of prosperity following 1945 during which the French could afford to be smug. For centuries, Gallic culture was the envy of the world despite the rude awakenings of 1870, 1914 and 1940.

Now it has become something of a joke. The French are seen as culturally protectionists, clinging to nostalgia while resisting the very un-French realities of globalisation. Gone, however, is the time when the Belgians could ask each other as a joke, “How do you make a profit out of a Frenchman?” Answer: “You buy him for what he is worth and sell him for what he thinks he is worth.” Today, French people are the first to say that their country is not as great as it once was. A key aspect of Emmanuel Macron’s project is to restore a sense of national esteem. Winning the World Cup should have helped but the riots that followed showed just how divided contemporary France is. To be proud of its virtues, a country has to have a

shared notion of what they are and why they matter. The symbol of the nation state is not enough; it has to have substance behind it. Populists in many countries – including Britain – believe the answer to cultural decline is to be unashamedly chauvinistic as if the nations are nothing more than competing brands. But they should be warned. Nicolas Chauvin, the archetypal solider who could see no wrong in his beloved country, turns out to be a legend rather than a living person. He was invented not for the purposes of propaganda, but as the butt for jokes. Chauvinisme reminds us that it is good to extol the virtue of one’s own country but not to push it to absurd extremes.

16 Letters


Writer, farmer and green activist tells why continues to fight for a safer planet

He can’t be everywhere, he’s very present on the memorial issue Spokesman defending President Macron

Photo: Ohconfucius CC BY 2.5

Amiens mayor had asked why Mr Macron missed WWI battle commemoration

The older I get, the more I realise the truth is: the simpler the food the more exceptional it can be

Joël Robuchon (see page 11)

Michelin star chef, who died this summer, spoke to Business Insider in 2014

Brexit has made a mess... but at least it’s a democratic mess

Seeing red is new Orange

David Goodhart

Arsenal manager comments on Thierry Henry’s possible future at Bordeaux

Our challenge is to transform the army to the maximum, with a minimum of money Florence Parly

Photo: SCM Group

Armed Forces Minister looks at how the military can better use money it has

I do not live in France, I live and pay all my taxes in the UK. However I don’t believe others do such as Lord Lawson

Gina Miller

British Brexit People’s Vote campaigner challenges residency claim on Twitter

I used to say when you’re a candidate but not yet president, you’re hoped for. When you are a former president, you are missed. The problem is during... François Hollande

Ex-president says he enjoys book signings as they allow him to meet people

Photo: Renault UK

Author of book on populist revolt tells Le Figaro of the split in Britain

Arsène Wenger

Having lived the last 40 years, worked and retired in France, Anthony and Janine Marfleet’s letter (Problems and possibilities with Brexit, August 2018) left me confused. Why have they chosen to leave an apparently sublime UK to live in a Europe where they are trampled on by unions, and suffer an undemocratic Europe while witnessing the ‘rip-off ’ of the UK. They are stoics! Contrary to their view, the UK motor industry is not thriving. It is quivering in its boots. Production of cars for the UK has dropped 47%; no car in Europe is made exclusively in any one country today; UK-made engines go to another country to be finished; components are exported, others imported; about half the components for a car made in the UK come from another country – which is why the industry is worried since it relies on the free flow of parts between countries. Several manufacturers have rung alarm bells saying a hard Brexit will heavily influence future UK investment or even cause them to move. Airbus has said the same. Since the UK has operated within the EU under rather more favourable terms than any other member nation, I am left wondering exactly how the EU has ‘ripped off ’ the UK? Had the Marfleets lived in southeast England in the last couple of years and commuted by train they might have revised their opinion regarding unions! Having studied the EU, it appears to be

MY LATEST bill from Orange includes a €69 charge for a visit by a technician – yet I saw no-one! I had reported a fault on my line and was told that if the fault was inside my property then I would be charged €69. On the basis I never saw a technician outside my property, let alone inside my house, I phoned Orange and queried the charge. I was told the charge was for the technician whether or not the fault was inside my property. They have agreed to credit the €69 to my account, but how can we possibly be responsible and be charged for faulty Orange infrastructure! When I queried this he told me, with laughter in his voice, that it was a law that was brought in 2/3 years ago! Teresa ROONEY, Charente

Put boot in on geo-blocking RETAILER Marks & Spencer must be one of the EU’s worst offenders for geo-blocking. Looking at the UK site you find black Leather Block Heel Side Zip Ankle Boots at £49.50. Access the site in French and those Bottines en cuir à talons carrés et fermeture à glissière latérale suddenly cost €70. Today £49.50 should translate to €54.90 but while I understand that M&S must cover themselves for exchange rate shocks, it seems that that €70 price means they are still working on pre-referendum values! Alpha MASON, by email

just as democratic as the UK – perhaps even more so! Richard Chandless, Saöne-et-Loire I CAN only assume Anthony and Janine Marfleet do not live in France full-time or are wealthy enough not to have to worry about the implications of Brexit. I don’t want to get into politics; but I must challenge their assumption that public sector employees don’t work hard and then retire on big fat pensions. My wife and I have lived full time in France for seven years; we both have public sector pensions and worked hard with long hours and contributed a substantial amount of our salary to get them. We moved to France as part of Europe and we expected changes but did not anticipate Brexit or that UK expats would be left as cannon fodder or collateral damage. I would also challenge their use of the word ‘Remoaners’ because we disagree with Brexit. Perhaps in the Marfleet world map we are not entitled to an opinion... Greg Mayhew, Tarn

HOW could the Brexit Referendum result be described as a ‘Democratic Vote’ when it was obvious that England, the country in ‘The United Kingdom’ with by far the largest population, would determine the outcome which affects all four countries? Would it not have been more democratic if the percentage votes of those voting

Remain and Leave in each country had been totalled, giving final UK percentages, rather than sheer volume of people voting for each option deciding the outcome? John Spinks, Dieppe

SECOND-home owners should be seen as a separate category in the Brexit negotiations as we are a significant number and potentially seriously affected. Owners are wide-ranging from holiday homes used only a few weeks per year to established homes used for up to six months, the owners of which may not be in a position to change residential status, so cannot get a carte de séjour. We spend up to six months a year in France, managing the garden and orchard. It is a place where our far-flung family can meet and spend time. The winter months are in the UK for professional, financial and family commitments. We retain UK residential status and UK taxpayer status while still making a not insignificant contribution to the local French economy. After Brexit, visits to France may be limited to 90 days within any six months, making our lifestyle no longer possible. We are both in our 70s – and the upheavals of such a change do not appeal. This type of problem needs to be considered by the Brexit negotiators, especially in its French context, though there might be similar problems in Spain. Adrian Harvey, Saöne-et-Loire

Thanks for a great time at Interceltique

War context was missing

THANK you for the complimentary tickets we received for this year’s Lorient Interceltique festival via Connexion. We had a great time with the grand parade, soiree folk and the Nuit Interceltique. The Nuit Interceltique was spectacular with each Celtic nation performing and a grand finale with all the nations and fireworks. Scotland and Ireland put on a super show with pipe bands and dancers; there was a brass band from Cornwall and a male voice choir Choir sang Welsh and Breton anthems (Pendyrus) and harpists from Wales. As the guest nation, I had hoped there would be more of a focus on Wales but they were the last to perform and sang Welsh and Breton anthems. It was a great atmosphere. Kate WARD, Morbihan EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you for the positive feedback. The Connexion was pleased to be a media partner of this year’s Interceltique, the 48th edition of the festival, which attracted more than 750,000 visitors from around the world – a fantastic success!

Photo: Kate Ward

Photo: Bruno Lamothe PD

Pierre Rabhi

Yes, he wants to do it. The existential question you always ask is whether you’re willing to sacrifice your life for coaching

September 2018

Listen to businesses on Brexit effects

They said it … If I don’t, I won’t sleep well. It’s like there’s a fire and we say we don’t give a toss. There’s a fire and it has to be put out

The Connexion

Yes, good after-sales service does exist

READERS have complained about poor after-sales service in French stores following the breakdown of equipment; can I say my own experience has been totally different in the 10 years I have lived in France. I contacted customer service at Lidl by freephone, after a fault in a €23.99 LED lamp bought 14 months previously with a threeyear guarantee. I gave the product code and date of purchase on the receipt. A replacement was sent free of charge. Three years ago our Pana­sonic TV broke down under guarantee. The local retailer said it could not be repaired but Panasonic would send a new TV with a larger screen. The replacement set arrived, with a new guarantee. I do not agree French people accept poor or non-existent aftersales service – equally, I’m sure most British people can recall UK examples of poor as well as good service. Tony Hulson, Allier

Although French, I read your paper with interest each month.... but it is not perfect. Nabila Ramdani’s comment article in August Phone cameras are essential for justice is problematic where it talks of the “drowning and beating to death of up to 300 Algerians” because it fails to put the event into any context with greater detail. What of the thousands put on to Paris streets by the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale, with which France was at war; or the many police killed by gun or knife attacks in Paris? Natur­ally, this cannot in any way justify such brutal repression. The war claimed 30,000 French soldiers’ lives. I don’t know how many Algerians, civilians or soldiers, pieds noirs were murdered or ‘disappeared’ after independence... but France was not a dictatorship and the CRS was not a paramilitary group or milice. A. CHANCONIE, Dordogne

When 300ml is not 100ml I recently took a flight out of Toulouse airport and arrived at security with a bottle of mouthwash into which I had put 75ml of mouthwash. The security guard would not let me through with it. Asked why, he confirmed the criterion is not the volume of liquid but the volume of the bottle, 300ml in this case. So, the 100ml maximum is for the container not the liquid as we are repeatedly told. Dr Bob Seward, by email

The Connexion

September 2018

The Connexion letters pages are

sponsored by

Bell moaners are real pain

RE: YOUR online article about the Parisian holidaymakers who complained about nearby church bells ringing at 7am (French gîte renters demand time change for church bell, connexionfrance.com) – what a bunch of prissy pains they are! They should be getting out of bed at 7am, anyway, to fully enjoy their holiday. If one does not like the local conditions, go somewhere else for your holidays next time – or stay in Paris as I often do. It is actually quite pleasant here in August, with reduced traffic on the roads, smaller crowds in the shops and on public transport – and one can easily pass the day relaxing in a bistro along the banks of the Seine. David YOUNG, Paris

Strike back over strikes SNCF and air traffic control­ lers strike at will with govern­ ment seemingly unable to pre­ vent chaos despite only 8% of employees belonging to unions. It is about time unions were legally obliged to pay conse­ quential loss to all customers who have suffered from their random actions. ‘Grève’ would soon become an archaic word. Much is written about the UK €40billion+ divorce settlement to the EU but, to put things into perspective, SNCF debt stands at €45bn+ (It is similar at UK National Rail). Time to stop all the perks for pensioners, families and over­ seas rail employees, tighten financial control and reintro­ duce customer service which was once a hallmark of SNCF (and former British Rail). Franklyn Jackson, by email

Letters 17


Specialists in cross-border estate planning.

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

Is France truly centre Glyphosate herbicide is of foodies’ universe? no danger to humans Everyone, it seems, enthuses about French food – see any issue of The Connexion, for example! But what does the phrase “French food” actually mean? I suggest it means (a) meals in French restaurants, (b) ingredi­ ents in French shops, and (c) recipes in French cookery books. There are some wonderful meals available in French restaurants – and there are dreadful ones: just as in the UK, or in any country. In any developed country, you can cook the same meal at home for a fraction of the cost: it should be one of life’s great pleasures. The majority of the ingredients sold in French shops can be found in British shops too. Sure, a few ingredients are available here which are not readily available in the UK – but a few are not available here which are available in the UK. Although certain recipes in French cookery books are indisputa­ bly French, I have seen others which originated elsewhere but which cookery books pass off as French. The best French recipes are excellent, and the worst awful – just as in any other country. In brief, although I am happy living in France, I am sceptical about France’s claim to be the gastronomic centre of the universe. What do other readers think? Stephen Morgan, Finistère

Letter of the month

Stephen Morgan wins the Connexion letter of the month and a copy of the Connexion Puzzle Book. Please include your name and address in any correspondence; we can withhold it on request. The Editor’s decision is final. Write to: The Connexion, Patio Palace, 41 avenue Hector Otto, 98000 Monaco or email news@connexionfrance.com

Will temporary carte de séjour give future rights? THANKS for your article on Brexit implications for second home­ owners in France [see Brexit section of our website]. I’ve been wait­ ing for this kind of information – and more – for a long time. Can you say if I can, as a (retired) second-home owner who meets income and health insurance requirements, apply for a temporary carte de séjour without becoming French tax-resident? In the event of a ‘no-deal’, would possession of one make a dif­ ference to one’s rights to enter France and stay for longer periods in the Schengen zone than non-EU citizens currently can? Changing tax residency from the UK to France can be a difficult process, limiting the amount of time one can spend in the UK. David Bennett, by email Unfortunately cartes de séjour are for full-time residents of France not spending more than six months away in total per year. Proof required typically includes a utility bill from each six-month half of the year for as long as you have been in France (for the last five years if applying for a ‘permanent’ residency card or less if applying for temporary cards of a year or five-year duration).

You said it … Report said French roads were bad “Anyone who believes that France’s roads are in a bad way has not driven in the UK recently” J.K. “Considering we live in the back of beyond in Dept 79, I find 98% of French roads a pleasure to drive on. Even the tiny road leading to my house gets patched every year” M.E. “I live in Central Morbihan (56} and have a theory they look after the roads because of the numerous cycling events” M.B. “I used to think French roads were worse than English but I went on holiday in England last week and I’ve changed my mind” R.T.McF. “In Manche, Mayenne and Calvados they seem to repair roads before potholes develop” R.D.

Your report on glyphosate (Aug 2018) as a pesticide found in honey is inaccurate and alarmist and adds to the public percep­ tion that any chemical involved in food production is detrimental to human health which Greenpeace will quite happily promote. PESTicides are designed to inhibit or kill living organisms, are dangerous and must be handled under controlled conditions. A systemic HERBicide is designed to inhibit plant growth by altering its growth levels and is not dangerous to the human metabolism. Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide. During the Vietnam war the USAF’s most shot-at and the most decorated unit was 12 Air Commando that ran the defoliation program spraying Agent Orange. New pilots joining the squadron in the early-60s faced an initiation ceremony at their first formal dinner – being required to drink a shot glass of the brew. Reports from the Air Commando association based in Florida is that they are now starting to die... of old age. Rex Barron, Charente Editor’s note: Thank you for pointing this out – our online article has been amended. Regarding Agent Orange, the US Veteran’s Administration has advice on this site tinyurl.com/VA-AgentOrange

Insurance assurance is vital to ease stress I recently went on a break to the Isle d’Oléron. The hotel had no parking, so I parked in a nearby public car park. The following morning I dis­ covered someone had climbed on the bonnet and jumped on the roof causing a serious dent. I reported it to police and my insurance agent said repairs would be effected and a cour­ tesy car provided. The garage was 40km from home and I drove over and exchanged cars. Seven days later, I drove to the garage to find no work had been done and a piece of paper was waved at me stating that a company called Automobile Expertises had inspected my car and declared it a write-off. They said it was unsafe to drive and wanted to impound it. The insurer offered a mod­ est price for the car. If I had tried to have the car repaired elsewhere, the carte

grise would be withdrawn. Frantic calls to my insurance agent meant I was given my car keys on the proviso the carte grise and insurance would be cancelled in days. A car is essential as I live in the country and hold official positions with two British ex-service charities, so it was a race to find a second-hand car. Fortune at last shone. I found a replacement, got immediate insurance and the friendly garage allowed me to present an undated cheque until my funds had cleared my bank. I have lived in France for more than 10 years and this is probably the most stressful challenge I have encountered. So, get independent quotes before going to insurers. Needless to say, my local body‑shop was closed for annual holidays. David Young, Vienne

Elderly care here so good

By the end of next year, I shall be 90; my wife is younger but going downhill rapidly under the iniquitous effects of Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, it is French poli­ cy to enable sufferers to live in their own environment rather than to be shunted off into wards or institutions. Daily nurse’s visits and meals on wheels (repas à domicile) – five courses (la France oblige!) are our experience. Vive la France! TB O’HaRa, Maine-et-Loire

Secondary net gains...

In BOB Elliott’s recent Talking Points column (August 2018) regarding the cessation of the Orange Maison Secondaire lines, he seemed to say this would be more expensive. My experience is I am now paying half the monthly sum for landline and internet. Add this to the €55 connection and disconnection costs, and we are saving a substantial amount. I hope this reassures others. Sarah Middleton, by email

Fruit claims are fantasy WHAT a rubbish comment from Légumes de France presi­ dent Jacques Rouchaussé in your online article on fruit and veg prices not being reality because of imports. He said melons cost €5.50 each... I have just bought two fat Melons de Cavaillon for €3.90. His prices are pure fan­ tasy or else he does his shop­ ping at Fauchon! Richard Chandless, Saöne-et-Loire

You can debate and comment on articles either at our website: www.connexionfrance.com or via our facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheConnexion Here is a selection of recent popular subjects and readers’ comments...

Second-home owners will be hit by Brexit and may need €60 visas “The UK voted to leave the EU. They (we) must accept the consequences. Most ‘leavers’ are of the type who never go abroad and don’t like foreigners. The EU is well rid of them.” O.C. “Got rid of my French home after 10 years and moved back to the UK. I miss the country but not the bureaucracy. No wonder we voted out” J.F. “Although resident in France it will be a disaster! Some of us depend on money from Brit holidaymakers. No holiday = no income!” S.F. “Why will it have to get so complicated, why can’t we go back to how things were before EU?” M.M. “What a scaremongering political article” S.M.

Farming leader says fruit and veg prices are unrealistic due to imports “I find very good and reasonable fruit and veg all year by shopping seasonal and shopping local. I prefer to use local growers and markets” V.K. “When there was a glut of vegetables or fruit supermarket prices would come down low, but now, prices remain artificially high” A.F. “Fruit and vegetables are way too expensive in France like everything else compared to other countries. That’s why people eat so badly” M.E. “I buy bio but not if from South America” S.N. “This is one thing the EU is good at, increasing the cost of food to consumers” J.S.

Families warned on rules for cycling equipment... with threat of €375 fine “Almost every cycling enthusiast with clipless pedals would fall foul of the law as they don’t have orange reflectors” A.P. “There should be rules to limit speed on tracks and footpaths. Little point in forcing people to wear helmets when there are cyclists who put the lives and well-being of others at risk” A.F. “Bells on bikes are like car indicators – there, but rarely used. When I walk along the canal, I rarely hear bikes until they’re close. A couple of times I had to jump out of the way” S.P. “I’ve never seen bike lights in France” P.G. “None of this is enforced” P.D.

18 Practical

Q& A

The Connexion


What are the rules about burning waste in a bonfire?

Readers’ questions answered

Send your queries about life here to Oliver Rowland by email to news@connexionfrance.com of the hiring formalities. In the first instance we suggest your daughter registers as a jobseeker at Pôle Emploi to show she is living in France and is looking for work. If she has any right to UK jobseekers’ allowance this can continue for three months after moving to another EU country so this applies for France. A social security number has 13 figures, starting with a 1 for men and a 2 for women. The rest relate to year and month of birth, place of birth (those born outside France have 99 plus a 2-digit country code) plus other figures to distinguish you from people born at the same time and place.

Selling business - how to reassure buyers WE ARE selling our language centre but it needs to be run by Englishspeakers. How can we reassure potential buyers as to their status in France after Brexit? T.W. WE WOULD like to be able to reassure you every­thing will be fine after Brexit but much remains uncertain. If the UK leaves with a deal in place next March then Britons in stable residence in France at that point should be protected with an automatic right to live and work in France, as should anyone coming during a transition period to the end of 2020. If the UK leaves with no deal, it is to be hoped that France would still respect the rights of those settled

here, however life could be more complicated if they face the same administrative requirements as other nonEU citizen without an automatic right to live and work in France. (A senior Interior Ministry official recently stated that in particular France would respect the rights after Brexit of those who have lived here more than five years and can prove it with a permanent residency card, however that may not help buyers unless they are already well-established). However, do remember that many other Englishspeaking nationalities, such as Ame­ricans and Australians, manage to live and work in France. Several estate agents are reporting brisk business as

British people seek to become established and put down roots before the rules change – which may be an argument in favour of your potential buyers acting quickly. You could seek advice from the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry (francobritish chamber.com), however one representative said that it is impossible to provide clear assurances, with the possible proviso that getting the sale completed before Brexit (expected to be March 20, 2019) might be advisable. Alter­natively he said you could wait longer in the hope that negotiations are concluded successfully and then you may reassure buyers that the deal and transition period are in place.

What are a mayor’s ‘police powers’? IN A recent edition you mention the ‘police powers’ of a mayor. What does this refer to? P.W. THE MAYOR officially has ‘police powers’ to maintain peace and order, safety and public hygiene in his or her commune, however in reality these powers are usually delegated to officers of the municipal police. Areas of competency include safety and traffic flow (including parking),

markets, keeping good order during public gatherings, checking businesses do not sell underweight goods and preventing or assisting with accidents, fires, floods and landslides. The powers also extend to such diverse areas as proper burials and cremations in the commune, supervision of ports and bathing areas, protection of children, demolition of dangerous buildings, maintenance of chimneys, dealing with


dangerous animals, cleanliness of rivers and ponds, and enforcing rules on signs and adverts. Occasionally a mayor or his or her deputies may be called on to carry out investigations into a resident of the commune as part of a judicial enquiry (on instruction from a public prosecutor or judge). He or she is also expected to report any crimes he or she comes across in the course of their work.

I found a stray dog with no identification tattoo or chip – can I keep it?

In most parts of France garden bonfires are not allowed CAN you create a bonfire to burn waste in your garden? Do the rules vary from department to department? D.B. YES the rules vary but not so much between departments as from commune to commune. Generally speaking you cannot burn anything in your garden (this will be specified in departmental health and safety regulations), unless there is a local bylaw saying otherwise. Where it is allowed, it will only relate to ‘green waste’, such as

grass cuttings and clippings. The justification for this includes neighbour nuisance, air pollution from smoke and, importantly, the risk of spreading fire. In general communes only make an exception to the ban if they do not have a council tip where green waste can be taken or do not offer specific bins for such waste collection AND there is a legal obligation on property owners to undertake débroussaillage (the clearing of scrub land for 50m round houses and 10m from roads) and/or the area is

covered by a PPRiF (prevention plan for forest fire risks). Where it is not allowed you should use one of the alternatives or compost it. See your mairie’s website (or call them) to find out the specific rules for your commune (in Paris you should contact the mairie d’arrondissement). Ignoring the ban could lead to a fine of up to €450 but offenders could face much more serious action if any damage is caused or a brush fire is started. It is worth pointing out that barbecuing may also be subject to limitations, though there is no generalised ban and it is not considered neighbour nuisance if it is occasional. However it may also give rise to concerns about forest fires. There may be clauses banning it in the rules of your residence if you live in a copropriété building, or in a rental contract if you are a tenant and, in some areas, there may be bylaws banning it at certain times of year or at set times of the day. In some cases it only relates to traditional charcoal barbecues and not ones which run on gas or electricity.

Procedure for re-registering a car in France Photo: Grand Parc - Bordeaux / CC by SA 2.0

PEOPLE born in France are attributed a social security number at birth and receive a carte vitale showing this at age 16. It is proof that you are affiliated to French social security and is needed for healthcare reimbursements and as part of formalities for working. EU citizens who arrive in France without one may initially use a European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) for healthcare and if they are pensioners with an S1 form they should present this to their local Caisse

primaire d’assurance maladie (they do not need a French social security number). Otherwise to obtain a carte you can apply to the Cpam using this form: tinyurl.com/y9htm46s You need to supply a copy of your passport and birth certificate (EU regulations say Europeans should not need translations for this). The application is to the Mutu­alité sociale agricole for farmers or to the relevant social security body for the self-employed for independent and other self-employed people. It is possible for employees to be taken on without a number, in which case the employer can make the application for them as part

Photo: mattbuck CC by SA 2.0

How to get a social security number MY DAUGHTER wants to come from the UK and find employment. How can she get a social security number? J.D.

September 2018

I BOUGHT a car abroad in the EU and need to re-register it in France. What papers are needed and how do I do this? A.G. The process for registering an imported car to have French plates has recently changed and can now only be carried out online via an account at the site of ANTS (Agence Nationale des Titres Sécurisés) at https://ants. gouv.fr/monespace/s-inscrire You are asked to identify yourself using FranceConnect (franceconnect.gouv.fr), a way of signing in to several official state website, such as tax offices and health Cpams, without having to repetitively identify yourself with different passwords. You can join it using details from one of the member sites and once you have completed this there is no need to keep entering the details to access any of the sites. Once you have created an ANTS account you will receive

I am moving house - do I need to get the address changed on my carte de séjour? If so, how?

an email to click to confirm it. You will need to complete form Cerfa 13750*05, which can be downloaded here: service-public. fr/particuliers/vosdroits/R13567 Most of the information required can be found on the car’s existing registration document. This includes the plate number (numéro d’immatriculation), date of purchase, date on the current registration document and date of first registration (shown in section 4 of a British V5C registration document) and an 11-figure number called in the UK the Doc. Ref number and in France the Numéro de formule du certificat d’immatriculation. Enter the make and model (found under D1 and D2 on EU registration documents), the vehicle identification number (E), and colour and whether light (clair) or dark (foncé). You also need to obtain a document called a quitus fiscal, which proves that the car has

My employer told me to work on November 1, which is a bank holiday; is that allowed?

had any relevant VAT paid on it. Ask for this in person at your tax office (many now have online processes for this so check first) taking the purchase bill, original registration document, your passport and proof of residency in France (eg. a recent utility bill). To complete the online application for the new carte grise you need a scan of the quitus fiscal and form Cerfa 13750*05 plus other documents (clear photos from a mobile phone will do): n Original carte grise of the vehicle (or other proof of ownership); if the original was retained by the other country’s authorities then an official document stating this. n Proof of your address, less than six months’ old (eg. a utility bill). n If the vehicle is older than four years, a certificate of contrôle technique not more than six months old (one from an EU country, like a UK MOT, is acceptable). Should you not be able to supply the existing registration document (or if it does not have all the relevant information, such as if it is old and pre-dates EU standardisation) you may also need a European certificate of conformity from the manufacturer (failing this it may be necessary to have the car inspected by a body called the DREAL, as is required for cars brought in from outside the EU).

What is the best way to pay a gardener, including social charges, and get a tax credit?

To receive the next issue at home... subscribe at www.connexionfrance.com by September 12

The Connexion

September 2018

Make sense of

Talking Point

French higher education

Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider UK Telecom answers your queries Q: Lightning and power surges during storms damaged my modem and phone this summer as well as my line which needed repairs. What can I do to avoid this?

Image: perrytaylor.fr

This month as students take up their university courses some will have experienced something new – a selective entrance system… UNLIKE the UK, French universities have not had a selective entrance system before this year. In the past if you had a Baccalauréat pass (at least 10 out of 20) you could sign up for any course and then places on oversubscribed ones were allocated by lottery. As of this year, the system has changed, with President Macron declaring that France has “turned the page from an absurd system”. Teaching teams now analyse applications and an applicant may be told ‘yes’, ‘no’, asked to wait to see if further places are freed up or told ‘yes if…’ (oui, si). The latter means a place conditional on, for example, agreeing to extra foundational study, which may or may not increase the length of study (such as an undergraduate degree in four years not three). School results in relevant subjects are considered, choice of Bac, teacher evaluations and a student’s given reasons for wanting to do the course. Selectors may consider skills and aptitudes, for example, for law, whether you are good at expressing yourself in writing and speech. Applicants from the académie (local education authority) area are prioritised although there must be a quota set aside for other candidates. There are also quotas for students with means-tested grants (bourses) if courses are oversubscribed. International students may apply if they have equivalent qualifications such as A-levels

but may have to provide evidence of good French, if necessary by taking a test such as DELF, DALF, TCF or TEF (however there are more than 1,200 courses taught in English; see tinyurl.com/ya85wopb). French universities are generally named after the town and a famous person and they are numbered when there are more than one in a city (often with differing focuses). In Paris, for example, they include Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Paris Diderot (Paris 7) or Paris Descartes (Paris 5). They are often small but there has been a recent trend for several to group together. Probably when most Englishspeakers think of a famous French university, the ‘Sor­ bonne’ comes to mind. Strictlyspeaking this is a building on Paris’s Left Bank, which was home to the Université de Paris from the 12th century to the 1970s, before it was broken up. The name came from its theological school founded by Robert de Sorbon, chaplain to King (‘Saint’) Louis IX and the area is called the Latin Quarter due to the language spoken by students there in the Middle Ages. Today there are three institutions with ‘Sorbonne’ in the name, which still use parts of the building. Types of degree were standardised along European lines in recent years, with a first degree (une licence) usually lasting three years divided into two semestres each from September to December and January to May. Un master takes two years (completing the first year is called master 1) and un doctorat three or more. Job adverts may refer to years of study after the

Practical 19


Bac, such as Bac+3 (licence) or Bac+5 (master). University study includes cours magistraux (lectures), travaux dirigés (TD – tutorials) and travaux pratiques (TP – such as laboratory work). French higher education also includes certain vocational or technical courses such as the Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) and Diplôme Univer­sitaire de Technologie (DUT) which are taken in two years. There are also several hundred free online courses from French institutions, open to all, via France Université Numé­ rique (‘FUN’). See fun-mooc.fr Some students who obtain a university place opt for an année de césure – a year out to volunteer for charity, do a work placement or personal project, perhaps spending time abroad. Unlike in the UK, fees are not generally a big worry – frais

Our main image was drawn for Connexion by artist Perry Taylor. For more of his work see www.perrytaylor.fr d’inscription for a standard degree this year are €170/ year (compared to €9,250 in the UK). As for other costs, there is less of a tradition, compared to the UK, of students studying far from home and many live with their families and may do parttime work (un job étudiant). Student loans (prêt étudiant) are available from banks. For those who do not have someone to stand as garant (garantor) the state can stand in. As of this year applications are via a new website Parcoursup.fr for students from France and

the EU/EEA. Other foreign students apply via campusfrance. org for admission to a university and for a student visa. On the main site people make up to 10 voeux (wishes) during the period January to March. Rather than university, high-fliers in certain fields will aim at one of the grandes écoles which turn out top civil servants, engineers etc. You have to pass a tough exam to get in. The concept dates to the Re­volution with the idea that all citizens should have access to top posts on condition of ability. Famous ones include Ecole Polytechnique (engineering), Ecole Normale Supérieur (ENS or Normale Sup’) for government and academia, Ecole Nationale d’Administration (civil service) and Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) for business. Graduates have names such as normalien, polytechnicien and énarque. Students do two intensive years after the Bac to prepare, called classes préparatoires (prépa or CPGE). These are in certain lycées which select based on academic criteria, with famous ones in Paris, such as Henri IV, being especially sought-after. They have a vocabulary of their own, such as names for students in science, literary or economic fields: taupin (from taupe, mole), khâgneux and épicier or a kind of oral test held frequently, called une colle (or ‘khôlle’). The prépas are free or paidfor depending on whether the lycée is a state or private one (in the latter case they range from around €2,000/year in one ‘under contract’ with the state to up to €10,000 or more for others. They often have boarding houses, at a cost of around €2,000/year including meals.

A: The storms have been exceptional, so much so that parts of the Dordogne were without power for 50 hours. Coupled with this, engineers who maintain the lines and the equipment in exchanges were overwhelmed, so repairs took longer than normal. Those in rural areas were disproportionately hit as most lines to their properties are carried overhead on poles and falling trees break the lines (urban areas have most lines buried in ducts). The advice is the same as for winter storms or when a property is left vacant for a long time. Your telephone and broadband service is probably from one of a number of companies using the national network managed by Orange. Maintenance of the network is by engineers appointed by Orange who repair faults in the order they

are reported, so no company gains a particular advantage in this respect. Chan­ging companies in the middle of a fault may delay the repair as the original report will be re­moved and the process started again by the new firm. So, if you are unhappy with a service do not change until the fault is repaired. Make sure none of the trees on your boundary can cause damage. You can also protect equipment in your home. The principle is to create a barrier between any equipment you have connected to the mains and telephone line from the external power source. Similar to a multi-socket but with a protection circuit between the power going in and the equipment you plug into it, surge protectors provide a first line of defence. However this will not necessarily be sufficient to protect from more powerful storms and surges. At such times it is preferable to unplug any devices that you are not using, including your telephone. This will importantly include TVs that are connected to aerials or dishes which should also be unplugged.

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: My daughter is starting university in the UK. She has a bank account in the UK and I will need to send money to her regularly from France to pay for her expenses. What is the best way? A: Higher education tends to come with a higher price tag, and once you take into account tuition fees (which can run to over £9,000 a year), living costs and accommodation, it can cost around £60,000 to put a child through university in the UK. A sum that size is not to be taken lightly, and it can help to cut costs where you can. If you are living abroad and transferring money to the UK to cover these costs one of the easiest ways to save money is to change how you are moving funds between France and the UK. You might be tempted to use your bank but you can save a significant amount of time and money by using a specialist currency transfer provider. With a specialist you can secure better exchange rates and avoid transfer fees – differences which could save you thousands during the three years your daughter is at university. In addition, transfers can be made online or via an app and an automated regular transfer service can allow you to make repeat payments with limited fuss. Payment via an app can especially come in handy for on-the-go transfers if your daughter burns through her living funds quicker than expected... You also have the option of protecting transfers from unfavourable exchange rate shifts via forward contracts allowing you to fix a rate for up to a year.  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

Children are unlikely to escape illness during their school years so it is useful to know what health services are available. Dr Marianne Barré, right, is the general secretary of the school doctors’ union, the Syndicat National Des Médecins Scolaires et Universitaires, and explains procedures during schooling to Jane Hanks

Is it correct that teachers cannot give any medicines or first aid to children? Yes, teachers cannot give medicines except in the case of a PAI, Projet d’Accueil Individualisé which is set in place for a child with a long-term illness or condition. The school nurse, who is present in most collèges and lycées, can only give a limited range of over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol or Spasfon, unless there is a prescription or a PAI. PAIs are set up to programme the care of a pupil at school who has a chronic illness such as asth-

ma, diabetes or food allergies. It will be set up between the parents and the doctor and will authorise the teacher or nurse to give medication in a precise set of circumstances, for example to use Salbutamol during an asthma crisis, or a procedure for other types of care.

nurse. It is not easy, because there are too few médecins scolaires. There are around 1,000 of us for 12 million pupils and our numbers are diminishing every year, even though we are in constant demand. Some departments do not have any school doctors. It is a worrying situation. However, I would always recommend parents to try to make an appointment and at least get in touch with a school nurse if you are worried about your child. Any parent can make an appointment to see the nurse.

When can a parent or a pupil contact the school doctor? Whenever they feel it is necessary to help the pupil in the context of their schoolwork. It can be varied, to do with conditions like dyslexia, a school phobia or a sudden drop in their marks. It can also be to set up a PAI.

What vaccinations are necessary at school? At present, the only one which is obligatory is the triple vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and polio (vaccin diphtérique, tétanique et poliomyélitique DTP) which is at two, four and 11 months. If the child is not vaccinated the parents have three months to get it done, or to give a justification; and, if not, the presence of the child in the school will be put into question. Vaccinations against tuberculosis used to be obligatory but this is no longer the case, though in some areas it is recommended. New regulations make more vaccinations obligatory but these only concern children born in 2018 and so will not be relevant until those children are three. (For children born from June 1, 2018 onwards there are 11 obligatory vaccinations. Added to the existing three are whooping cough, measles, hepatitis B, mumps, German measles, and three to prevent meningitis and lung disease. For more information, check solidarites-sante.gouv.fr)

Is it easy to get an appointment with the school doctor and how do you make one? In a primary school, you can ask a teacher or headmaster; in collège and lycée it is best to ask via the school

School will soon be obligatory for three year olds, what happens if the child is not potty trained? There is no law to say a child must be potty trained before they go to school. It is perfectly normal for some chil-

What happens, then, if my child is ill at school, if teachers cannot give medicines in most cases? In primary school, the teacher will either call the ambulance services if it is an emergency – or the parents if they think the pupil should go home. In collège or lycée there is nearly always a school nurse who a teacher will send the student to, or the student can go to on their own initiative. The nurse will either call the emergency services if necessary, or allow the pupil to rest there in one of the beds until they feel able to return to the classroom or call the parents.

September 2018

Photo: Designed by Bearfotos Freepik

The role of the school nurse and (rare) doctor If my child is too ill to go to school what must I do? You must inform the school that the child will be absent and why, but you do not have to provide a medical certificate. In general, the school has confidence in the parents. However, there are certain contagious illnesses, such as measles, where a GP must give a certificate showing how long the child should stay at home, and this must be taken in when the child goes back to school to show there is no longer any infection risk. Your GP has a list of illnesses which need a certificate as should the school. If, however, a child is absent very frequently, the school will try to find out why and if there is a long-term illness, work out what is best to help the child succeed with school work. If there is truancy, the school will take other appropriate actions.

The Connexion


Medical staff at schools aim to help children succeed in their education

You do not have to have a medical certificate if your child is ill, but do you need one if your child cannot attend a sports lesson? Yes, this is obligatory. One miss may be tolerated but in all situations, whether it be a broken leg or a condition which is not visual, there must be a certificate from the doctor which says how long it is valid for and for what category of sport.

school doctor whose job it is to find out if there is anything which will hamper the child from succeeding at school. The second can be made by a school nurse, with similar objectives. The aim of the medical staff connected to schools is to help pupils do their best in their education. In the first visit, the doctor will check hearing, sight, teeth, weight, language skills, psychomotor development, ensure vaccinations are up to date and look at the development of the child as a whole. Parents can be present and can ask to be present for the second test when the school nurse checks hearing, sight and dental hygiene, vaccinations, weight and the pupil will be asked whether they think there is a health problem.

What medical visits are there at school? There are two. One is when a pupil is six, so in Grande Section at maternelle and one, when a pupil is 12, so in the first year at collège, in Sixième. The first one will be carried out by a

NB – Parents whose children were not born in France should get a carnet de santé for each child which carries details of vaccinations and other healthcare information. Ask at your mairie or apply to the Service départemental de protection maternelle et infantile.

dren to need a nappy at three. It is difficult for schools to deal with a child who needs their nappy changing but they must adapt. It is perfectly feasible that during the siesta, some children will need a nappy, which should not be difficult to deal with as ‘easy to pull-on’ nappies are available nowadays.

Pensions … should you hop to a QROP? First, understand the grey areas... Money Matters

Robert Kent of Kentingtons explains. www.kentingtons.com When it comes to retirement planning, it is difficult to decide what to do with all your UK pensions. You may have several little pension pots, all over the place and all in sterling. The UK currency is not the favoured currency of the moment so the possibility to access local currency may be attractive. There may also be concerns about leaving its value to beneficiaries. A QROPS seems to be a potential solution and is presently being discussed a lot In April 2006 the QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) was born, the result of EU legislation citing that pensions needed to have portability within the zone. Advantages include: The possibility of denominating your pension in euros; the ability to leave the value to your family; avoidance of UK inheritance tax. A QROPS sounds like a great solution – how-

ever there are aspects to consider. One main point being that there is a risk that a QROPS may not be viewed as a pension. In the past our firm tried working with the French fisc to design a suitable product for French residents. In the end we gave up as the fisc took the view that if a QROPS fell outside of the rules that applied to a French PERP in any way, it would not view it as a pension, and merely as a pot of money. Given that we viewed a Perp as less flexible than a UK Sipp, and QROPS were more open, the process seemed futile. I queried this logic at the time and I still do. No matter how questionable, though, it is a potential grey area. The risk of merely not being a pension does not sound too scary. “So, what if I lose the 10% allowance given to pension income”, I hear you say. This is fine if you can live with it but there is more... QROPS are usually in a trust. If a French resident places money into a trust, which is not perceived as a pension (see the previous point) then there is a bigger issue. French residents placing capital into trusts are viewed as gifting to a non-relative and will be taxed at 60% of the value given (yes, that is correct, six zero percent)!

Other QROPS concerns Earlier I mentioned the EU and so I also need to talk about Brexit and its impact. The answer, as is often the case with Brexit, is that no one yet has certainty so we are back to conjecture. The argument is that if the QROPS is in the EU, all should be fine; as long as it is in place before exit day. The fact it is not a certainty could be an area of concern. Moreover, one has to be careful of the constantly changing landscape of laws and regulations around QROPS. There was a large QROPS in Asia, which was suddenly closed down, as it was declared in breach of the rules by the HMRC, leaving investors high and dry. In fact, the QROPS provider won its case against the HMRC, but this did cause investors significant issues as this was way after the structures closure. We have seen special penalties applied for certain QROPS of 25% if not appropriately located and even 55% if not structured properly. All of this uncertainty makes me cautious with QROPS’ use for French residents. It is suggested that a QROPS is a good springboard to an assurance vie on the basis that if the money is in a QROPS and not a UK pension there are tax advantages. A UK pension being crystallised by a non-UK resident will be subject

to an emergency tax of 20% which is not the case with a QROPS. This is correct however it does not necessarily save any tax because as a non-UK resident, one can easily claim the tax back by the completion of a simple form. In our experience the tax is returned within four weeks. The cost of setting up the QROPS may be thousands, so you have to ask yourself if there is the possibility you are potentially paying this to avoid filling out an HMRC form and subsequently setting up an assurance vie with the same money. None of this is to say that QROPS are off the table when talking to people but as comprehensive an understanding as possible is essential. People need all the information available (grey areas included) before they can truly decide. It is best to have a full understanding of all the options for your pension so research thoroughly and carefully. There are options where you can have absolute certainty, so perhaps consider these first and take advice from a French qualified professional who understands all the potential consequences of any choices and explains these to you. A QROPS would need to be the best and only option to recommend it.

French living Food Wine Homes Gardens Interviews Events


+ Yann-Arthus Bertrand History of Mont St-Michel


Photo: Dan Jones

Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz puts a fresh twist on French food

+ Mata Hari – lover and spy The rise of naturism

2 Lourdes

French Living I September 2018

Spiritual site where solace meets commercial forces All this year, Lourdes is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto. Samantha David pays a visit to France’s wildly popular holy location

Photos P Vincent/OT Lourdes; Samantha David


ourdes is uplifting, other-worldly and spiritual. It is also tacky, vulgar, and crammed with coach tours. In 1858, it was a small agricultural market town in the Pyrenean foothills with a population of around 4,000 people. One of them, a 14 year-old called Bernadette Soubirous, formed the habit of praying in a shallow grotto beside the Gave de Pau river which ran past the town. It was an insalubrious place, where rubbish was dumped, firewood collected and animals grazed. There, in a niche just above the grotto, Bernadette saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary 18 times over a few weeks. The apparition told Bernadette to “Go and drink from the spring”, “Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here,” and “Have the people come here in procession”. And where Bernadette touched the ground, water sprang up. Little by little people heard about the apparitions and began visiting the grotto. Over the years Bernadette received more and more requests to talk about her experiences, until finally age 22 she became a nun. (She died at the age of 35.) But her legacy was fixed. Her visions validated by the Catholic church, the spot was venerated as a pilgrimage destination. Around 200 million people have visited the site since 1860 and every year up to 6 million more people arrive. 350,000 of them bathe in the water, many hoping for a miracle. The permanent population of Lourdes is 15,000 but the town boasts 270 hotels with a total of around 11,000 rooms. Paris is the only French city with more hotel rooms than Lourdes. The 124-acre area around the grotto is called the ‘Sanctuary’ and contains 22 different places of worship along with a medical centre, administration blocks, a library and several impressive cathedrals. The original Crypt has been joined by the Upper Basilica, the Rosary Basilica and the controversial Underground Basilica: constructed in 1958 for the centenary of the apparitions, the brutal 50s concrete bunker can accommodate a mind-boggling 25,000 worshippers. There is also the Church of St Bernadette constructed in 1988 on the riverbank opposite the grotto; St Joseph’s Chapel; and the Chapel of Reconciliation where priests are available to hear confessions in almost any European language at any time. There are flocks of pilgrims all wearing the same colour hats or scarves, groups of fresh-faced youngsters pushing wheelchairs, nurses in crisp white aprons,

people being wheeled slowly towards the grotto on hospital stretchers. Pilgrims from all over the world attend Mass in dozens of different languages. From Easter to All Saints, when the Sanctuary is in full swing, there is a daily Mass and procession at17.00, and a torchlight procession at 21.00. Visitors come for all sorts of reasons, and each year hundreds of people feel they have experienced a miracle. Doctor Alessandro de Franciscis is the resident doctor at the Sanctuary. His job is to determine whether an unexplained cure has taken place or not. “I am the devil’s advocate,” he says. “I believe in miracles, but my job is to make a scientific evaluation.” He explains that for a cure to be considered a miracle, it has to be unexpected, instant, complete, and lasting. “I also need to see medical records including x-rays and scans showing a person’s condition and prognosis before they came to Lourdes, and more medical records showing the change after the so-called miracle. And for something to be considered a true miracle, it has to be an improvement that can’t be explained in any other way.” It also helps if the condition which has been miraculously cured has never been cured before. “As a doctor I have to be most annoyingly precise.”

Pilgrims pay a visit to the grotto, site of apparitions of the Virgin Mary; Inset: Lourdes is packed with souvenir shops selling everything from statues to tea towels and even holy handbags

There are plastic bottles of all sizes, some shaped like the Virgin Mary, to fill with holy water

He says that around 100 people come to his office in the Sanctuary every year. “Most just come to talk to me, but around 20-30 say they’ve experienced a miracle. I explain that we need proof, we can’t just take their word for it. But so far, of the people who came in 2017, only one has sent some medical evidence.” Since 1883, the Bureau has judged around 7,400 alleged cures as being unexplained, but Bishops have declared just 70 to be miracles. Outside the Sanctuary is a close-packed jumble of souvenir shops, cafés, and kiosks selling tour bus tickets and advertising mobility scooters for hire. Around the perimeter of the Sanctuary shops jammed in side-by-side line the streets, their shelves stacked with Virgin Mary statues in various sizes and colourways, with or without infant/roses/halo/blue belt/crown/faint smile; some will even glow in the dark. There are crucifixes, rosaries, Bibles, posters of Bernadette beholding the Virgin or just gazing solemnly out of a grainy photograph; Lourdes medals, prayer cards, candles, pill boxes, tea-towels, coffee cups, t-shirts. On and on it goes, and mixed in amongst the religious artefacts are piles of mountain sausages, Pyrenean cheese, foie gras, teddy bears, sheepskin slippers and more cheap jewellery than anyone knew existed. There are plastic bottles of all sizes, some shaped like the Virgin Mary, to fill with holy water from the Sanctuary, incense (some of it promising miraculous cures, just in case the waters don’t do the trick), pastels, vials of holy water, postcards of kittens, woollen ponchos, plastic

rain macs, silk scarves, holy handbags, luggage, cuckoo clocks, Provencal olive bowls, mantillas, religious wall plaques, posters of the Last Supper, rag dolls, magic rings... there’s even a sari shop. I was initially amused. People obviously love to shop, so what’s the problem? But then is faith really just a free gift with every purchase of a Lourdes teapot? I went back to the Sanctuary in search of something more authentic, and decided to bathe in the waters. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, but I hoped that at least it wouldn’t involve a fluorescent Virgin.

An immersive experience

The baths are divided into men’s and women’s. We queued sitting on benches and, as we all got nearer the top of the queue, everyone nervously fell silent. Finally six of us were beckoned through the curtains into a very small cubicle staffed by volunteer Catholic nurses in old fashioned uniforms. There were six chairs, six clothes hooks and hardly room to move. The nurses held up damp rubber navy blue capes to save our blushes, we all stripped naked and were wrapped in the capes. Physically if not mentally prepared, we sat on our chairs waiting to be beckoned through the second set of curtains. By the time my turn came and I found myself standing at the end of a long shallow bath flanked by another team of volunteer nurses, I was incredibly nervous. I tried to walk down the steps into the water but they said I had to wait until, by some sleight of hand, they managed to remove the rubber cape and wrap a wide strip of wet white muslin round my body.

Lourdes 3

Photos P Vincent/OT Lourdes

September 2018 I French Living

Not only, but also... what else to see in Lourdes Want to escape the crowds? Explore more aspects of the town’s history or head for the hills for a view to remember

A I headed off down the steps into the cold water, but yet again I was too eager. I needed to address a prayer to the bust of the Virgin, overlooking the proceedings with a kindly but very glazed stare. Finally it was time to wade through the water, which at 12 degrees was cold but not impossibly so, and then the nurses held my arms and the muslin wrap while I sat down and they lowered me backwards into the water. The immersion was brief, and stopped at my neck. Then they swung me upright again (these women must have arms like wrestlers from doing this all day), replaced the muslin with the wet rubber, and I waded out. It was completely surreal, and very emotional. Back in the changing room I had tears on my cheeks as I dragged my clothes over my wet skin and stumbled back out into the sunlight. I briefly experienced a feeling of incredible well-being. Was it a miracle? Or just relief at being outside again with all my clothes on? Was I turning into a pilgrim rather than a visitor? “I don’t think there’s any difference between pilgrims and visitors,” said Father André Cabes, the Rector of the Sanctuary. “It just depends what’s in their hearts. People can call themselves good Catholics but they are so full of judgement and inflexibility that I think they are further from eternal life than people who tell me they don’t believe in God, but behave every day with love and consideration towards others.” The Rector oversees and manages the Sanctuary. “All sorts of people come here. So many people are badly situated in life, but there is a place for them here. We are a family with open arms. Here, we wel-

come people as they are.” A softly-spoken, physically slight man, Father André nevertheless manages one of the largest visitor attractions in the world. Thirty full-time chaplains work at the Sanctuary, alongside around 450 lay-employees and thousands of volunteers. Running costs are in the region of 18 million euros a year, 90% of which comes from donations. “We are all disabled in one way or another, often invisibly. Being here among so many visibly disabled people makes it easier for people to admit their own disabilities. Going to confession is easier here because it’s truly anonymous, and daring to voice the secrets we all carry liberates the heart and the spirit. Sometimes there are no solutions, but being forgiven liberates the soul. The biggest miracle we see here is the heart that changes.” He says that after three years in the job he is still amazed at the waves of humanity who come to Lourdes. But it remains a deeply human experience, he says, and people often ask chaplains and priests to bless them. “I believe in miracles, but that’s not the aim here. Spiritual healing is far more important. The real aim is eternal life.” He says people come to Lourdes searching for happiness having filled their lives with endless purchases. But when you eat cake he says, it’s gone. When you take love, it increases indefinitely. People come hoping to learn they are worth loving. I tell him how surreal I found my bathing experience. “The baths here wash the soul, you open yourself and are no longer imprisoned. People come back for this liberation every year,” he says. “In the end it’s all about love.”

Above: A torchlight procession arrives at the esplanade in front of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

way from in the intense atmosphere of the Sanctuary and the surrounding old town, there are plenty of other, non-spiritual, attractions in and around Lourdes. There is also a huge range of restaurants and, as a side-effect of being a pilgrimage destination, almost the entire town is wheelchair accessible. Pavements have ramps, steps have been replaced with slopes, shops have large lifts, restaurants and cafés have wheelchair accessible conveniences, even historical monuments have lifts concealed in their ancient stone towers. It is an object lesson to the lazy town planners, stingy accountants and mean-spirited apparatchiks across France who wrongly claim that making public spaces wheelchair accessible ruins traditional buildings, or is prohibitively expensive, or cannot technically be accomplished. If a place like Lourdes can do it, why can’t other towns and cities? A 10-minute walk away from the Sanctuary, the Château Fort contains a museum explaining local history and culture. I personally have a great fondness for dusty waxworks, reconstructed scenes of peasant kitchens and collections of stuffed wild animals so these were my highlights, but the museum also contains a fascinating amount of actual history if that’s more to your taste. And when you climb to the very top of the fortress, there is a fabulous 360 degree view of the town and the surrounding mountains. Also in the centre of the new part of the town, do not miss the Halles de Lourdes; the 19th century indoor market hall is a particularly fine construction, and rather than be seduced by the gourmet food shops in the tourist drag around the sanctuary, this is also the best place to buy all kinds of local cheeses, charcuterie, jams, wines and other goodies. The funicular ride up to the Pic du Jer is also richly rewarding if you love mountain scenery, and at the top there is a nice selection of activities. You can chill out in the café, follow the marked path to the

summit (just 10-15 minutes) or join Hélène Sarniguet daily to explore the blissfully cool caves, or on Tuesdays, go on her guided nature walk. Hélène is informative and fun, making all of it interesting. (Book in advance via the Tourist Office.) It is also possible, if you have nerves of steel and your tastes do not include waxwork Neanderthals, to ‘cycle’ down the mountain. This means wearing body armour and thrashing down a blue, red or black run (used in the World Cup Mountain Biking Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017) at terrifying speed. A short drive out of Lourdes brings you to the glories of the Grotte de Bétharram, discovered, owned and run by the Ross family. This is a huge cave system surrounding an underground river. The entrance (several miles away from the exit) is a time-machine in itself, being traditionally constructed of wood. The lifts take you down into the first massive hall and the guided walk begins. The lighting is impressive, and the explanations are in multiple languages. It is, however, one of the rare attractions in the area which is not fully wheelchair accessible. Although partial access has been constructed, scrambling down narrow stairs, ducking under overhanging rocks, leaning over banisters to watch the river below simply isn’t possible with limited mobility. You also need a cardigan and comfortable shoes because the temperature in the caves is 12 degrees, even at the height of summer and the path is nearly three kilometres long. But just as you get exhausted, there’s a ferry boat decorated with dragons’ heads to carry you over the water, and soon after that a miniature steam train takes you through the rest of the caves, back out into the sunshine. The terminus building, the Aiglon Hall, was constructed in 1925 and is stunningly elegant and full of light. It contains a gift shop and a wonderfully vintage café counter where you can buy refreshments. A coach then takes you back to the entrance where you left your car.

4 Rencontre

French Living I September 2018

‘We taste 30 to 40 wines a day; during the vendange we can taste up to 400’


ntoine Médeville is an oenologue who is the director of a consultancy service, Oenoconseil, which gives advice on every stage of wine making from planting the vines to marketing the bottled end result to chateaux and winemakers in the Bordeaux area. In his office at Pauillac there is a wine testing laboratory and three oenologues, including himself, who work with 120 wine producers. Unsurprisingly September, when the wine harvest begins, is the busiest time of the year... Can you explain how you came to be an oenologue? I come from a family where some work in wine and some in pharmaceuticals, and as I was always attracted by the vineyards but also come from a scientific background I decided to become an oenologue. I studied for a BTSA viticulture-oenology at Blanquefort and then went to University in Bordeaux. I then worked in different regions including Sancerre and Hérault, after which I created the laboratory at Pauillac that I manage now. The studies lasted four years when I did them, but now it is five years. Is oenology an art or a science? Oenology is a science, but it is a mix of science and art and I always describe myself as a doctor of the countryside.

Can you describe your typical working day? We have different typical days according to the season. Before the harvest, we have meetings we call réunions de pré-vendange with each one of our clients. We tour the vines, look at what did not work so well the previous year, what the client wants to achieve this year, and what we want to improve. We help decide when to start the vendange. Then harvest time arrives. We go to each client two or three times a week to taste the newly filled vats which are in the fermentation period and to help them decide how to blend the wine. That lasts from about September 15 to November 15. During the blending period we taste the wines from the preceding year which are in barrels to decide when we will transfer them to vats and then taste the current year’s wines to decide when to put them in barrels. During the rest of the year we follow the development of the vines and continue tastings, for example to decide the effects of the different types of barrel on the wines. We make regular visits to each property, at least once a month.

Photos: Oenoconseil

Oenologist Antoine Médeville tells Jane Hanks about tastings and taking his work home with him Tastings, then, are at the heart of your work? Yes. We taste between 30 and 40 wines a day most of the time and during the vendange we can taste up to 400 wines in a day. I think it is a skill which develops with experience and training. Some of us are better at detecting different elements than others and so sometimes we work together to get the best results. It is very difficult and you need to stay humble before the wine and before the wine owner. There is a lot of work in deciding how to blend the wines from different vats. For example, for some wines two months is just the right period and for some it is too much or too little and some are complementary with some and not with others – it is our job to decide which ones should go together and that takes a great deal of tasting and time. We do tests in our laboratory as well as tastings to see what blends work best. Experience over many years helps us come to our decisions. How much does personal preference come into your work? Not at all. We are not helping to make the wine we like, but the wine each vineyard wants to make. The aim is to come up with a quality that the owner wants and that his customers will like and enjoy so they will buy. We are there to make what the owner wants and to improve his wine. What role does the laboratory play? It is very important. It helps us to follow the evolution of the wine and to forecast certain results. We analyse not only the wine but also the grapes, the barrels and the corks. Testing the grapes is complementary to tasting the wine so we know when the grapes are ripe. What can you do to improve the wine? We can give advice about the vines, the harvest, the choice of date for the harvest. The way the wine is made, which includes several factors: temperature; the number of times the wine is pumped over; the maceration time; the type of barrel, new or old, toasted or not; do we make a silky wine or one which is more structured? There are a huge number of factors which determine the final result. Nowadays we encourage our winemakers to work more and more with the quality of the soil to improve the vine. You only get good wine from good grapes. What qualities do you need to be an oenologue? Above all you have to have a passion for this job. You have to love nature because

Some people think we are mad, tasting wine at seven in the morning but for me it’s a pleasure Antoine Médeville

you spend a lot of time outdoors in the vines with your clients; you have to love wine, of course, and you must be willing to be receptive to the wine owner and to listen to what he wants and to interpret his desires to make a wine that suits him. When you are not working, are you still able to enjoy a glass of wine at home after a day of tastings? I love to drink wine, but not during the week and just when we have guests or go out to dinner. It is interesting to try wines from other regions in France and other countries to have a wider outlook and find out what is happening elsewhere. There are some very, very good things happening everywhere. Do you love your work? Yes. Some people might think we are completely mad, tasting wine at seven in the morning, which we do during the wine harvest, but for me it is a pleasure. In our glass we have the result of all the work the vineyard owner has done over the past eighteen months to two years. We see how it has evolved and every year there is always an element of discovery, almost like a new birth each time.

The work is very varied. We work the most during the vendange when it is almost non-stop including the weekends. But when we start this job, we know that will be the case and it really doesn’t trouble me. During the winter it is a little lighter, but when you are called out you have to go, there is no choice. You can’t give the right advice by telephone, you have to be there. This summer there were terrible hailstorms which damaged vines in the Bordeaux area. Has this been a particularly difficult year? I find that every year is particularly difficult. When you do this job you work with nature. There are hailstorms every year and they are becoming more and more violent and creating more and more damage. All types of farming, not just wine, are physically demanding and then there is the added element that everything can be destroyed from one day to the next. On the other hand, you can have really good conditions which will bring a fantastic vintage as there was in 2016. We look at the weather forecast every day but though we can master many aspects of wine making, we cannot master the weather.

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6 Gardens/Green news

French Living I September 2018

A final hurrah for summer 2018 September is the last chance this year to see most jardins in the Open Gardens scheme, writes Jane Hanks


There will be gardens open every weekend throughout France in September as part of the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts scheme which encourages gardeners of all nationalities to open up their gardens, big and small to the public, to raise funds for charity. It is the last chance this year to benefit from a large number of open gardens, as in October there is just one open in the Lot-et-Garonne on the first two Saturdays. Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year (valid Jan-Dec) 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. This is the association’s sixth year. It began when four British gardeners in the Creuse decided to open their gardens to see if they could raise money for charity, and the idea quickly caught on. President Mick Moat is thrilled that 40% of gardens 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 eleven chosen French charities. www.opengardens.eu

Open in September 10, Alléé de Désiré, Estillac, Lot-et-Garonne; Owner: Marie-Claire Guérin and Ove Pollas Marie-Clare Guérin describes her garden as personal and amusing, with an eclectic mixture of plants. She has been working on the 5,000m² plot for more than thirty years and has added several varieties of trees during that time. Every year she buys a Christmas tree with roots and then plants it outside so there are now 34, from 50cm in height to 7m. “I love all plants and though I don’t have any collections I do have unusual plants which you won’t see elsewhere,” she says. “One is a Dahlia Imperialis which grows to a height of 4m before

Green news No butts, cigarettes will be recycled The latest cigarette butt clear-up business aiming to make a go of recycling fag ends is Mégo, based in Brest, Finistère. The firm sells collection systems to local businesses and associations – including ashtrays, containers and posters – and then provides secondary services such as collection, recycling and statistical monitoring. The goal is to implement a unifying approach to reducing partners’ carbon impact, raise awareness among their staff and also to communicate to the public their environmental commitment. Once gathered, the cigarette butts are crushed to separate the ash, tobacco and paper residues from the filters. These are

Two gardens are open 6kms apart in the Dordogne on the same date making it easy to visit both. The first is: Les Tachats, Hautefort, Dordogne; Owners: Sheila and Kevin Weedon Sheila and Kevin Weedon have what they describe as “a garden of gardens” which they have created from what was a 7,000m² field ten years ago, in a picturesque valley, overlooked by Château de Hautefort. The themed gardens include English cottage, a French white formal, ornamental potager, rose arbour, Italian Tuscan,

Shirley and Paul Edwards’ garden at La Bayette was originally pastureland; Inset: Marie-Claire Guérin and Ove Pollas’ Lot-et-Garonne home

flowering in late October, and a Cyclanthera pedata or climbing cucumber as it also called. There are also different kinds of cactuses, a vegetable garden, fruit trees and a small green house all in a great mix!” Her garden is open for six Saturdays in a row from September 8 to October 13 but she says she would welcome Open Garden visitors at any other time in that period as long as they telephone first to make sure she will be in on 05 53 67 20 15. It is the only Open Garden for October. Open: September 8, 15, 22, 29 October 6, 13 14-18.00

I have created a type of cottage garden without using pesticides

La Bayette, La Dorée, Mayenne; Owners: Paul and Shirley Edwards (above) The couple have spent the last ten years transforming an area that was originally pastureland into a garden rich with variety and unusual planting. Shirley Edwards said that they have created different areas of interest for colour, scent and wildlife throughout the year. There is a herb garden, an ornamental then washed in several water baths, then dried and ground again before being thermocompressed. The pollutants are disposed of as hazardous waste. Meanwhile, local authorities in Strasbourg and some areas of Paris recently banned smoking in public parks. Green machine swap is big success 90,000 people have taken up the government’s cash reward scheme to hand over a diesel car in favour of a cleaner machine. Since January, owners get €1,000 (€2,000 for non-taxable households) for the disposal of diesel vehicles from before 2001 (and before 2006 for non-taxable households) and petrol vehicles from before 1997. They also get €2,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle. Nicolas Hulot, Minister of Ecological Transition, said government has set itself a target of 100,000 ‘conversions’ per year.

fruit and vegetable garden, a flower garden, topiary, autumn and winter borders, an area with a small pond, an orchard with apples, cherries, plums, quince, a walnut and a mulberry tree, an arboretum and the latest project is an exotic garden. Every year they add more trees to the arboretum. “We have a Paulownia tree and several Snake Back Maples and though they are still young you can see their distinctive beautiful striped bark. Our latest addition is a Kentucky Coffee Bean Tree. We are permanently on the look out for new plants and every year we go to the International Garden Festival at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire.” Mrs Edwards says they thoroughly enjoy creating their garden. “It has been fun. In the UK we had a clay soil and here we have a sandy loam so we have had to adapt. At first there were cows everywhere and little by little, with the agreement of the farmer, we have taken back what is our land so that now all of it has been turned into a garden.” In September there will be asters and cosmos in flower and a number of grasses which will be at their best. There are seats around the garden which offer a moment to pause and enjoy the plants. Open: September 9 10-18.00 Chateaux charged over pesticides Two chateaux near Blaye in the Bordeaux winemaking region will face court action over a 2014 crop-spraying incident which left local schoolchildren unwell. Following a lengthy legal process, the investigating chamber of the Bordeaux Court of Appeal referred the Côtes de Bourg, Château Escalette and Château Castel La Rose appellations to the courts. Sepanso, a federation of environmental associations, won the judgment on appeal. In May 2014, about twenty children and a teacher from a primary school in Villeneuve-de-Blaye had suffered from discomfort and complained of tingling eyes and a sore throat, following the spraying of fungicides on nearby vines. The estates, one certified organic, had treated their plots that day with products which, though authorised, contained warnings about a risk of harm.

a formal lily pond, wild flower beds and English long borders. There is also a wide range of shrubs, trees and perennials. In September Mrs Weedon says the long dahlia bed will give a lovely flash of colour. Open: September 2 10-18.00 The second is: Les Puits de La Longe, Badefols-d’Ans, Dordogne; Owner: Sheila Hakim This garden is surrounded by walnut groves and is situated on top of a hill, overlooking the magnificent countryside. Sheila Hakim says when she arrived five years ago there was nothing in the garden: “I have created a type of cottage garden without using any pesticides. Our local gardening club has been a great help and some of my plants come from its plant trocs.” She has spring bulbs, perennials, roses and fruit trees. “In September there should still be roses in flower as well as salvias and penstemon with other perennials in the background.” Open: September 2 10-17.00 Cruise ship captain charged In a judicial first in France, the captain of a 300-metre-long cruise ship will appear in Marseille’s criminal court after admitting breaching pollution guidelines. The captain of the Azura, who is not French, could face a year in prison and €200,000 fine, but the ship’s owners, P&O Cruises, face no charges, The fuel oil burned on his liner was checked on March 29 by port officials and found to exceed European sulphur limits set in 2015 for ships carrying passengers on the Mediterranean. The dirtier fuel type is used, say industry experts, to cut costs, and is not allowed in EU ports. Shipping in Marseille is said to account for 10% of the city’s air pollution. However, ship pollution standards will be significantly tightened from January 1 2020, for all types of ships, with sulphur content limits reduced yet further.

Gardening 7

Photos: Pixabay; David Austen Roses

September 2018 I French Living

Grower’s digest Plants in the post A ‘garden box’ mail delivery service aims to bring simple gardening to the homes of those with little or no gardening experience, including children keen to sow and grow their own, or those with little space. In each monthly Hortus Focus garden box, you will receive a plant, a pot and the suitable compost, sometimes a natural fertilizer (if necessary), a product from the garden to try or a tool you require. From €25 (children) and €30 per month. https://hortus-focus.fr/ Bricolage for a bargain? Mr Bricolage has announced a partnership with popular e-commmerce website, CDiscount. The move will see the DIY chain’s products available to the site’s 20 million or so monthly visitors, and is aimed at increasing the amount of DIY shopping done online (currently only 6%).

Green, green grass is mown For those with a lawn, the end of the summer is the time to carry out scarification – the process of getting rid of moss and plant debris intertwined with your grass. If not carried out, the existing grass can suffocate, while water cannot get down to the roots – not good news in winter. The process of making small incisions in the lawn can be carried out manually using a push along roller, or electric or thermal-powered machinery (model shown is the Bosch electric AVR 1100, €199.95 from Truffaut (web price).

Ce n’est pas la fin des haricots

As summer concludes, Cathy Thompson is battling pests and planning bulbs Insta-jardins

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. This month’s shot is of Villa Noailles, an early modernist house, built by architect Robert MalletStevens in the Var. It was taken by user theroad.ro

French garden diary


his expression (more or less translated as ‘it’s not the end of the world’) is thought to have originated in nineteenth century French boarding schools. If food supplies were low, the students were given haricots to sustain them. And when even this mediocre sustenance was gone, well, that was it... Now, in September, it really ought to be the end of the green beans, but it never is, is it? At this time of year you are bound to have them (and courgettes, tomatoes, etc.) coming out of your ears. And, at the risk of turning this column into a cookery spot, I must insist that there ought to be a seamless link between potager and kitchen. What do you do with a glut of haricots? I’ve tried just about everything. In spite of what some of my friends insist, they DO NOT freeze well. Every which way has been tried in this house, but the results are still insipid. To my mind the best preserving trick is the old-fashioned French way – de-string them if necessary, then blanch the beans for the briefest of time. Put them vertically into a preserving jar, cover them with boiling, salted water, close the jar and sterilise in the oven for about 1hr 50mins at 100oC. Personally, I quite like to cook up curries with excess haricots and runner beans. I gave up growing runner beans a while back, because the flavour of haricots is so much finer (and their preparation involves less work!). But they have their place. For a recent

dinner party I was preparing a couscous starter involving roasted runner beans, shallots, garlic, feta taken from a book written by one of my favourite chefs, Denis Cotter of Cork. His Paradiso Seasons (Atrium, 2003) works its way beautifully through every single harvest, by season, on your veggie plot. Meanwhile, in the ornamental garden it is still not la fin for the roses. I recently started planting the repeat-flowering Bourbons, which sometimes flower right up to Christmas. Madame Isaac Péreire is the pick of the litter, in my opinion, and I have frequently rescued her frosty buds from the garden at the end of a mild autumn. The rose was originally bred in 1881 by the French nurseryman Armand Garçon of Rouen, who called it ‘Le Bienheureux de La Salle’, after the man who set up the order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, by whom it is supposed Garçon was educated.

To my mind, the best preserving trick is the old-fashioned French way

He sold the rose to a Paris company, Margottin Fils, who renamed the rose after the wife of a prominent financier who had passed away the year before.

Madame Péreire’s only drawback is an awful tendency to blackspot, which can reduce a wonder to a misery. A spray of water, bicarbonate of soda and a drop of washing-up liquid every three or four days, making sure you repeat after any rainfall, seems to give reasonable control. The trouble is worth it for that glorious perfume and the sumptuous, fuchsia-pink blooms. MONTHLY TIPS I hope the wretched pyrale du buis, or box tree moth caterpillar has not been an issue for you this season. My treatment with Bacillus thuringiensis in May seems to have worked well and will be repeated the minute I see any further trace of the little blighters. It is also worthwhile hanging up pheromone traps, such as Buxatrap from Solabiol. I hung one up on a Friday and had caught 10 of the male adults, attracted by the pheromones, by Sunday night. They are expensive at over €30 each, but worthwhile for the warning they give you. The moth continues to be active until October and this last fling produces the generation that will overwinter in your box to start up the game again next spring, so give the traps a go. OVER TO YOU What recipes or methods do you use to cope with a glut on the vegetable plot at this time of year? Courgette ideas particularly welcome! You can send me an email at: editorial@connexionfrance.com

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8 The big interview The time for talking about saving the planet needs to be replaced by action – and we are all responsible, ecologist and aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand tells Jane Hanks

French Living I September 2018

‘We need to put a lot of huma

Nature lover by nature

Yann Arthus-Bertrand was born in 1946. From a young age he was passionate

Photo: Quentin Jumeaucourt


about animals and nature. When he was 20, he became Director of a nature reserve. Aged 30 he went to Kenya with his wife and carried out a three-year study on the behaviour of a family of lions in the Massaï reserve. There he started photography as a way of recording his observations. At the same time he earned his living as a hot-air balloon pilot and so discovered a new way to look at what was happening on the earth. He published his first book, Lions and he likes to say that the lions were his first photography teachers. Little by little he became a reporter, focusing on environmental issues and working for National Geographic, Paris Match, Le Figaro Magazine and others. He wrote another book, Good Breeding and Horses about the relationship between man and animals. Then in 1991 he founded the first aerial photography agency in the world – which led to his first major project, The Earth From The Air, sometimes called The Earth From Above. It has sold 3 million copies and the open-air photographic exhibition that accompanied it was shown in around 100 countries and has been seen by some 200 million people. The idea was used as the basis of a TV documentary series in 2006 and it then developed into a film, HOME, which is still being watched by audiences in 2018. On the day of its release, World Environment Day, June 5, 2009 there were free screenings across the world and that day alone it was seen by 600 million people. So perhaps it is not surprising he feels frustrated that his message, relayed to so many people still is not having the effect he would like it to. I asked him, what he felt people should do once they

If everyone ate organic there would not be any pesticides. If there were no pesticides there would be no threat to biodiversity

had seen his films or his photos: “It is not for me to decide. People are intelligent enough to see that it is up to them to act. You know, in all my films I tell people to stop eating intensively farmed meat which are destroying our planet. Are you vegetarian? No, well it is no use repeating the same thing over and over again. You will see in my film I speak a great deal about eating meat. “Everyone can do what they can. Eat organically. It is indispensable to eat organic food. When you see the diminishing bee population, the reduction of insects, the effect on our biodiversity it shouldn’t be necessary to tell everybody to eat organic food. If everyone ate organic food there would not be any pesticides. If there were no pesticides there would be no threat to biodiversity. “I am fed up of repeating the same thing. If you do not eat organic food, you are responsible for the effect on biodiversity in France, for example. I have to say the same thing over and over. People do not want to change. It is a question which is very personal and spiritual; do you want to change or not? “If you eat ham, if you eat chicken you are responsible, yourself, for the loss of biodiversity. Me too, we are all responsible. I think we must take a much more radical sense of our responsibility.” I suggested that not everybody thinks we are heading towards the end of the planet: “All the scientists think we are

going towards the end of the world, all of them. So we all know what is happening. We think it is all a long way away so we do not care. But you know it is much too late to be pessimistic. What we need is action. Today that is my viewpoint. “We have all polluted, I have polluted. It is for us to change. I think above all today we need to put a lot of humanity into our ecology; welcome the refugees, help those around you who have less than you do. “We need to love trees, we need to love animals, but also we need to love our fellow humans. That is perhaps something that the ecologists have forgotten.” His GoodPlanet Foundation aims to give practical solutions to help people live in a more ecological way. Among other actions it has 41 projects in 21 countries to help people live a carbon neutral life, for example building bioclimatic schools, giving people access to renewable energy and working to restore biodiversity. Last year the Mairie in Paris agreed he could use a building, the Domaine de Longchamp, in the Bois de Boulogne, for a 30-year period to be the first place in the capital dedicated to energy. The general public can visit it free of charge. There are exhibitions, concerts, conferences, debates, a vegetable garden, an orchard and beehives. Yann ArthusBertrand says it is a “green bubble, where visitors can experience a generous and positive form of ecology free of charge with their family and friends, Photo: Yann-Arthus Bertrand

ost people know of the French photo-journalist and ecologist Yann Arthus-Bertrand through one of his books, The Earth from the Air, which was first published in 1999. On the front page is the famous photo of a decimated mangrove swamp in New Caledonia, where the receding vegetation has left the shape of a yellow heart. He was the first person to use aerial photography to reveal the extent of human damage to the earth. Nearly twenty years on he continues to make films, take photographs, talk at exhibitions of his work and act as President of the GoodPlanet Foundation he created to limit environmental damage. Despite all that he feels that still, people do not understand the threat to the world we live in. Jane Hanks talked to him just before the opening of an exhibition of photographs from his film Home which are on show at Sarlat, Dordogne until September 16. He is a very busy man and grabbed a few minutes at the end of a car journey to talk to me on his mobile phone. The week before he had been in Brittany to talk about his new film to be released in 2019, Woman and that week he was due to go to Sarlat for a conference debate about his exhibition there. Above all he wanted to talk about ecology, and there was frustration and anger in his voice when he said that things were getting worse not better in the environment: “The photos are very beautiful, but behind all that there are very important things which are happening. Every year the figures are worse and worse and today we need to start a revolution. This revolution will not be political. We have the politicians we deserve and all the COPs 21,22 and 23 [Conference of the Parties on climate change] have served no real purpose. “It cannot be an economic revolution either because the world still seems to need growth; and even in countries which are rich like ours, growth is seen as being indispensable, when it is this growth which is very bad for our environment, with its effects on global warming, fishing and biodiversity. “At the same time it will not be a scientific revolution because we will never replace the millions of barrels of oil with solar panels, so the revolution will be spiritual, that is to say we must use all the human qualities we have such as empathy, compassion, well-being and ethics because all the proposals we try to work with need these qualities if we are going to succeed. “At present we are 7.6 billion people on earth and if we continue to buy and to eat in the way we do today, the earth will not support that.”

Trending 9

September 2018 I French Living

Photo: Palais de Tokyo

anity into our ecology’

More and more want to live as nature intended


Every edition we assess an aspect of the French zeitgeist. This month: the naked ambitions of naturists, by Jane Hanks

Photo: Yann-Arthus Bertrand


the cinema and as well I am the president of the foundation and I try to do what I can.” Do you think things will improve if we all make little changes? “To tell you the truth I do not know any more. I think all actions are important and eating organic food every day for ever is not a little action it is a big and important one. Do you think there is any improvement in the state of our planet? “I think that people have become aware of the problems now. But the figures are worse and worse every year. That means we have not progressed from the point of view of the environment, not at all. I think we have left everything to associations and others to look after the health of the earth. “Today we talk about the fact that soon we will have no more elephants. We talk about Green Business, but no, what we must learn to do is to live with a decrease in growth, to live better with less.” He does give the thumbs up to the British who have moved to France: “I think a lot of the British come to France to live in the country unlike the French who go to the UK to put money in the bank. “I think the British who come to live in the countryside bring a great deal of good vibes towards the local peasants, they buy locally and want to live simply, so it is a good thing having the British, come to France.” www.yannarthusbertrand.org Photo: Bruno Cusa

where parents and children alike are all welcome.” As a result of his Foundation he was appointed United Nations Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador in 2009. He has made two other films; Planet Ocean in 2012, which he co-directed with Michael Pitiot and which explores the importance of the ocean and the need to care for it; and Human in 2015, which is a series of interviews with people of all kinds from all parts of the world to show what it means to be human. His latest film, Woman will be released in 2019. It focuses on interviews with women who have stood up in their country at all levels: “It is a film about courage, injustice and love,” he says. “It shows above all that certain women have the good sense to change things. Rwanda, where there are more women than men in politics, is the country in Africa where the health service is improving the most. “Women look after their children, they are like that and it shows that women understand what needs changing. It is important – what the position of women is in this world of men.” He says he regards himself both as an ecologist and a photographer: “I am still a photographer and a film maker and a director. I have a Foundation and the Domaine de Longchamp. I am someone who tries to get across his message using

Examples of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s aerial photography include a village scene from Mali (above) and a forest in French Guyana (opposite). Below: at work in the Congo


rance is the number one country for naturism with two million members and another two million coming from other countries every year to take off their clothes and enjoy a holiday in the nude. Julien Claudé-Pénégry, Vice-President of the Fédération Française de Naturisme says these figures are continually rising, by between two and four percent per year: “It is popular in France because we have more places and associations where you can practice naturism than in any other country. In all there are 460, including clubs, beaches, gîtes, campsites and residences. We are also trying to develop other types of activity, particularly in urban areas, so that it is not just associated with summer holidays and is accessible to more people.” Earlier this year there was a great deal of media buzz when a morning at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris was reserved for nude visitors only. The 161 available places were all booked. The event was organised by the Association des Naturistes de Paris who were delighted with the results and reported in their ‘nudesletter’, as they call it, that the experience was altogether a new way of seeing works of art: “Firstly, you are not distracted by other people’s clothes (which are often works of art in themselves) and you can be more sensitive to the impact of certain works.” With the Paris association, which has more than 400 members, you can also go to a gym, go bowling and go swimming during certain hours when the facilities are booked for the sole use of the association. For the second year running, a part of the Bois de Vincennes has been reserved for naturists by the Mairie of Paris and it will be open up to October 14. In 2017 the first naturist restaurant O’Naturel opened its doors in the 12th arrondissement. To eat there you have to leave your clothes in the cloakroom, and only the waiters are dressed. Another first, this summer was a nudists day at an amusement park, Aventure Land at Magny-en-Vexin, Val-d’Oise on World Naturist Day, July 1. Mr. Claudé-Pénégry

says it was a great success with the numbers of participants in the hundreds. However, he says naturism is not just about taking your clothes off: “The official definition is: Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.” For us it is a philosophy of life. “When you take your clothes off you get rid of any artifice and instead of talking to someone as John the businessman you will simply be talking to John. It is difficult for people to understand, but we don’t look at each other’s bodies and make a judgement about them; we take them for what they are and we also accept ourselves for what we are. It is the most wonderful experience in the world where you feel a sense of freedom and happiness.”

For the second year running a part of the Bois de Boulogne has been reserved for naturists by the Mairie of Paris

He became involved in the movement when he was 15. There was a nudist beach next to the one where he and his family were holidaying. He went over and after the sensation of swimming in the sea in the nude he never looked back and takes his clothes off whenever possible, including in his home. He says naturism started with the industrial revolution in the 19th century when people were trying to escape the modern world and get back to nature. He feels it is not surprising there is a similar movement now, as naturism is all about ecology and present generations are trying to escape the consequences of industrialisation and once again find a way to get back to basics.

10 September What’s on

French Living I September 2018

Roots and routes of old Europe European Heritage Days, around France September 15–16

Photos: Pixabay; Yannick le Gal/CRTB

This 35th edition of European Heritage Days – participatory cultural events at museums and historic sites – ties in with the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union’s year of cultural heritage. The 2018 theme of sharing 2018 aims to reflect how Europeans can trace a shared heritage, a notion especially relevant in this the centenary year since Armistice. As well as places such as civil and religious monuments and public buildings, natural preservation sites are also taking part. Among the sites to discover are Pont du Gard (part of the route européenne des Antiques from Spain to Bulgaria) and Vauban’s fortifications. https://journeesdupatrimoine.culture.gouv.fr

More September events Berlioz Festival, La Côte-Saint-André, Isere, until September 2

The annual Berlioz Festival is a major festival of symphonic and Romantic music, in the town where the composer (who died 150 years ago) was born. Around 50 events are held, with over 1,000 artists invited to perform. Most concerts are held in the courtyard of Château Louis XI, while there are also recitals, chamber music, contemporary creations and minstrels in the medieval hall, the Berlioz farm and the churches of the neighbouring villages. www.festivalberlioz.com American Film Festival, Deauville, August 31–September 9 The elegant Normandy seaside town of Deauville bathes in a Hollywood glamour glow for its annual celebration of film. The festival has been running since 1975, showcasing big productions and independent movies alike, with big name attendees thrown in for good measure. The public can enjoy screenings around

town, with over 100 films open to audiences in three different sites. The jury president is actress Sandrine Kiberlain. www.festival-deauville.com Braderie de Lille, September 1–2 Bargain-hunting antiques lovers head to Nord to experience the huge braderie. All along boulevards Louis XIV and Liberté you can seek out objets d’art, antiques, games, toys and books, while there will also be a large gathering of professional antique dealers from the UK between La Porte de Roubaix and the Opera House. The first day is the perfect time to get the best deals, with an official start time of 08.00, though insiders say it is possible to do business as early as Friday night. www.braderie-de-lille.fr Les Nuits de Sologne, Loir-et-Cher, September 1 For one night only, an enormous pyrotechnic show takes place on land belonging to the Fédération Française d’Equitation located at the Parc Equestre Fédéral de Lamotte-Beuvron. From 17.00 enjoy musical shows, craft exhibitions, bar and regional specialities. The main event starts at 21.30: a light and sound spectacular telling the Pinocchio story with special effects and pyrotechnics. Six tonnes of fireworks will be used, and a crowd of 10,000 is expected. www.nuitsdesologne.com Paris Design Week, September 6-15 Now in its 8th year, Paris Design Week coincides with the Maison et Objet interiors show, which provides interiors inspiration to the public. From Les Halles and Bastille to SaintGermain des Prés, Marais and Concorde, over 200 showrooms, boutiques, workshops and installations will pop up. The event brings together the creative talents and forces of retailers, galleries, hotels and restaurants to share their design experience – great for inspiration. www.maison-objet.com/en/parisdesign-week

La Parisienne race, Paris, 7–9 September This running race just for women was created by Patrick Aknin in 1997, when 1,500 ladies competed in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne. Now, some 40,000 female runners – many taking part as teams of mothers and daughters, friends or company teams – set off early in the morning to tackle the 6.7kms course in the heart of the capital. The race starts at Pont d’Iéna and finishes at the Champs de Mars. Beyond the sporting challenge, La Parisienne is a charity race too, raising money for breast cancer research. There is also a fancy dress element, with prizes for the best outfits! www.la-parisienne.net

Goût de France, around France, September 21–23 This annual national festival of cuisine was created in 2011 by the government to promote the joys of French food. Chefs will be giving demonstrations, restaurants will create special menus – often at specially reduced prices – and one-off events will enthuse food fans. Diversity and choice is the key – to give just two examples: in Dives-sur-Mer in Calvados, La Maison Dupont tea shop is giving a Madeleine workshop for children, while La Caracole snail farm/restaurant in Cévennes is running a special menu and guided tour for the occasion. Search the database by region: www.economie.gouv.fr/fete-gastronomie

Médoc wine marathon, Pauillac, September 8 Drink-driving is definitely a no-no when wine tasting in Bordeaux wine country but drink-running is not. Every year, thousands of runners, many in fancy dress, make their way through a 42,195km loop of vine-lined roads and pathways starting and ending at Pauillac. Another unique element comes in the form of the marathon’s refreshments stands – 23 local wine producers offer tastings, while nourishment comes in the form of oysters and foie gras! www.marathondumedoc.com

Dinard British Film Festival, September 26–30 Created in 1990, this festival continues a long tradition of British visitors enjoying the seaside town – aristocrats first crossed the Channel back in the late 19th century and it became a fashionable resort. This year’s festival, which as usual will see films shown on five screens over five days, is presided over by Italian actress Monica Bellucci. Some 30 feature films and 20 shorts will be shown, 80% of them as first-look previews (Shallow Grave and Billy Elliot won prizes here before going on to huge success). www.festivaldufilm-dinard.com

Bol d’Or motorcycling, Var, September 14–16 2018 saw Le Castellet racetrack back at the top table of motorsport with the successful return of the French Grand Prix. Now two-wheeled speedsters will take to the famous Paul Ricard circuit for the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship. The race was first held in 1922. It lasts for a non-stop 24 hours, with teams of three riders taking turns to race.. As well as the main race and others featuring vintage bikes, petrolheads can also enjoy concerts and workshops. www.boldor.com

Picasso, Bleu et Rose, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, September 18–January 2019 Amid the spacious elegance of the transformed railway station comes this reappraisal of the prolific Spanish artist’s best known career periods: blue and rose. Working in collaboration with the Musée Picasso, the Orsay will present some masterpieces presented for the first time in France, such as La Vie (1903, Cleveland Museum of Art), and offers a renewed reading of the years 1900-1906, an essential period in the artist’s career that has never been treated as a whole by a French museum. www.musee-orsay.fr

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.

September 2018 I French Living

What’s on/Cultural digest 11 New museum, ancient honours A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life

It was constructed in 1882 by banker Emile Gaillard to house his ever-expanding art collection. Gaillard died in 1902 and Banque de France bought the building for use as a branch in 1919 for 3.3 million francs. To deter theft, the bank’s vault was surrounded by a 2.5m deep, water-filled ditch that could only be crossed by a drawbridge-style floor. The museum’s aim, said a Citéco spokesman, is to ‘break the ice between the French and economics.’ Among the highlights will be its extensive numismatic (currency) collection, art exhibition space and a café.

Ryder Cup, Ile-de-France, September 28–30 The 42nd Ryder Cup held at le Golf National in St-Quentin-en Yvelines will see the prestigious competition between Europe and the USA taking place for the very first time in France. The two twelve-player teams will compete on the ‘Albatros’ course, which opened in 1990 and is a par 72 at 7,331 yards (6,703m).

France has a longstanding affection for golf (see The Big Picture on page 24) and in July La Poste released special stamps to commemorate the event. As we went to press, organisers said that almost half of the daily tickets had been bought by French fans, a higher percentage than those bought by Scottish fans for the last event at Gleneagles. The course will also host the golf at the 2024 Paris Olympics. www.ffgolf.org/Ryder-Cup-2018

Photo: Jean-Claude Carbonne

2. The bookworm that turned The French Minister for Culture, Françoise Nyssen, who previously had a successful career in book publishing at her father’s business Actes Sud, has been stripped of some of her responsibilities over fears of a conflict of interest. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe withdrew her powers concerning “the supervision of the National Book Centre (CNL)” and “the economic regulation of the literary publishing sector”, declaring that she should not intervene in any case involving Actes Sud. The move was recommended by the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP), and initiated by Nyssen herself. Marianne magazine said Actes Sud received more than €100,000 in grants from the CNL (which promotes the creation and distribution of high quality books and supports writers and publishers) in 2017, when Nyssen still had a supervisory role at the publishers. However, some commentators said it was nonsensical to reduce her authority over her main area of expertise.

Photo: L’Uzine

Photo: Stephane Rambaud

Lyon Dance Biennial, September 11–30 If you love dance, there is only one place to be this September. Lyon, the Rhône-Alpes’s highly cultured capital city, alternates between art and dance for its annual ‘biennial’ festival and in the even years, it is dance’s turn in the spotlight. Thousands of dancers from all over the world take over the city’s venues and streets, with musical parades, over 40 shows and over 200 performances. All dance styles are represented, including ballet, samba, hip-hop, circus, and African. The highlight is Europe’s biggest choreographed parade, A Défilé for Peace, which will take place in central Lyon on September 16. Amateurs can also get involved with dance workshops, sit in on rehearsals and enjoy guided tours behind the scenes at theatres. www.biennaledeladanse.com


3. Cultural honours Last year, President Macron said he intended to hand out far fewer Légion d’Honneur awards to high-achieving French people. However, this year’s July 14 list still numbered 392, among which, in ascending order of prestige, 321 were made Chevaliers, 57 Officiers, eight Commandeurs, four GrandsOfficiers and two Grand’Croix. Among recipients from the cultural world were actress Marie-Christine Barrault, 72 (Commandeur), director Claude Lelouch, 80 (Officier, pictured) and Michel Bouquet, 92, who was elevated to the grandest Honneur level, Grand’ Croix. Olivier Py, director of the Avignon festival, was named a Chevalier, as was the director of news at France Inter, Catherine Nayl. Noteworthy winners in other fields were the owner of Toulon Rugby Club, Mourad Boudjellal, and former politician, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

Photo: Eric Houdas

Photo: Public domain

1. Banking on a new museum The Banque de France will open its new museum devoted to economics and the Mint in early 2019. The ‘Cité de l’Economie et de la Monnaie’, or ‘Citéco’ for short, will be housed across three refurbished hôtels particuliers, notably the neo-Renaissance Hotel Gaillard (below).


4. DIY BD In a saturated market where only a handful of top – often much older – artists can make a proper living from writing bandes dessinées (BDs – comic books), many younger authors are turning to the internet and social media to find their audience, often posting entire comic strips for free in order to gain popularity (such as www.bouletcorp.com). Crowdfunding is another proven route, as used by three volunteer professional illustrators working at Châteauroux’s (Indre) médiathèque. For the last two years, the project L’Uzine has organised monthly training sessions, with BD ‘apprentices’ ranging in age from 12 to 77. The result, following a successful online appeal to cover the €2,200 printing costs, is a 120-page book of the course’s best results.


12 Recipes

French Living I Se

French cuisine’s fresh tw As an online star and Jamie Oliver discovery, Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz represents the non-formal route into French cuisine, one focused on fun and a passion for trying new things. Connexion spoke to him about his influences, preferences... and the perfect omelette Where were you born and where do you live? Born and raised in Paris, where I still live today. I do travel a lot for work though, and honestly I enjoy fastpaced cities like NYC or London very much, from a business point of view at least. On the weekends, however, I am always looking for something a bit more chilled, which usually includes a sunny terrasse at a café, a glass of red wine and endless discussions about the meaning of life. Can’t beat Paris for that.

You won a Jamie Oliver competition that kick-started your media career in cooking. Have any elements of Jamie’s cooking style influenced you? Many! Jamie is probably the biggest initial influence on my cooking, which, with all due respect, isn’t the most common thing for a Frenchman. 30 Minutes Meals is my favourite practical cooking class ever, even though I never managed to actually do it in 30. Sorry Jamie. Still love you.

What is your earliest food memory? At my grandparents’, I would have the the most traditional French meals you could think of. Lighting was low, the table was crowded and my “Mamie” would not stop bringing fragrant dishes and shiny sauces to the table. Beef bourguignon, Blanquette, Sauerkraut... Looking back, I realize she taught me to love all my classics. She also taught me the value of a meal doesn’t sit on the plate itself; the whole experience is highly social and cultural.

Do young French people have different views of food to their parents and grandparents? I have mixed feelings about this as we tend to find our grandparents’ food outdated, heavy and longish to make, but at the same time we are getting closer and closer to their philosophy when it comes to reasonable, unprocessed ingredients and sustainability.

What first got you interested in cooking? I loved food very early but started cooking very late. At 25, I moved in with my girlfriend and when we split the housework in half, I got shopping and cooking. What a bargain, I know! I started with very simple dishes, then bought a few second hand cookbooks and slowly fell in love with the process itself. I especially enjoyed – and I still do today – discovering new dishes from different cuisines. In fact, I remember I would dedicate whole periods to certain dishes, like curry week or sourdough weekends. What is your culinary background and experience? I have been cooking every day for the past 12 years but I am no chef. I learned from books, blogs and YouTube. I am the living example that you don’t need culinary school to become a successful cook. My recipe was: a sprinkle of passion, a ladle of curiosity, a solid splash of hard work and an embarrassing number of #fails. What five words sum up French cuisine in 2018? 1. Product: seasons, climate, producers and terroir – you can’t make good dishes without good ingredients, produced in sustainable ways. 2. Table: The Social aspect of food is and has always been at the centre of French cuisine. 3. Technique: Even when it looks simple, French cuisine can be demanding in terms of skills. 4. Influence: French cuisine no longer is self-centred. Instead it embraces its

The value of a meal doesn’t sit on the plate itself; the whole experience is highly social and cultural

world influences, may they be techniques or ingredients. 5. Tradition: Knowing where you come from really helps figuring out where you’re going. What five ingredients could you not live without? Bread: Sourdough if possible; butter: Salted butter, otherwise count me out; wine: it’s definitely an ingredient I use on a daily basis; olive oil and garlic: I use that flavour bomb in all dishes. Super underestimated if you ask me. Give us a tip for the perfect omelette. Use a really hot pan and a good amount of fat. Only then will you be able to perfect a sharp and smooth exterior with a fluffy and moist interior. That, or just make it the way you like but adding a guilty amount of cheese makes everything so much better. It truly does. What is more important, a confident cook or great ingredients? Confident cook beats great ingredients hands down. It is one of my favourite challenges at night to wrap up a feast with boring pantry ingredients. I recently made luscious meatball skewers without using even a smidgeon of actual meat. (Stale bread and milk are your best friends).

Is French cuisine quite inward-looking when it comes to influences? I don’t think it is the case any more. In Paris, you’ll find a bunch of amazing young chefs who learned the ropes abroad. That, plus their French culinary apprenticeship, gives them a incredible array of techniques and dishes they can use and bend to cook with. Who is the greatest influence on your cooking style? As mentioned before, Jamie Oliver probably kick-started it, but over the years I got influenced by so many chefs and cooks all over the world for various different reasons. Alton Brown, for example, is a great TV chef and a very efficient teacher, who magnificently blended entertainment science and food in the brilliant series Serious Eats. The chef and cookbook author Anissa Helou opened my eyes to the specifics of cuisine from the Eastern Mediterranean. But I also look upon Anthony Bourdain (RIP), David Chang and Franco Pepe.

Any fish, meunière-style serves 2

Ingredients Salt and pepper 2 trout, total weight about 700g, scaled and cleaned (a 60g plain [all-purpose] flour 3 tbsp neutral flavoured oil 80g butter ½ lemon Chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon…) for sp

What would be your ultimate dinner (with drinks)? Let’s keep it simple. Get me a glass of red, and a sourdough tartine with a lavish spread of salted butter. That, and the finest friends selection there is, otherwise it’s pointless. What is your current favourite French restaurant? I recently had a mind blowing meal at Jah Jah By Le Tricycle in the 10th arrondissement in Paris. Their Jamaican Vegan Food is fun, colourful, packed with loads of flavours and so refreshing. I am not even vegan, but I can’t wait to go back!

Recipes from Just a French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz, published by Quadrille, with photography by Dan Jones.

Method 1. Season the inside of the trout with salt and pepper. coated, then shake off any excess. 2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Ad they are lightly browned underneath, add the butter medium heat, until they are golden brown. Using a 3. Lower the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes, sp the fish constantly and making sure the butter doesn the pan and onto serving plates. 4. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the pan and w foaming butter and oil. Spoon over the fish, sprinkle and serve immediately.

In season 13

eptember 2018


Picture -perfect eggs meurette

Method 1. Put the wine and stock in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the sugar and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. If you want to have a bit of fun (and you know how to do this sort of thing safely), flambé the wine. 2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a pan and fry the halved shallots or spring onions, the lardons and mushrooms for about 10 minutes. 3. When the wine and stock have reduced, whisk in the butter and flour mixture until you have a smooth and shiny sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. 4. Bring a saucepan of water, with a dash of vinegar added, to a gentle boil. Break 1 egg into a ramekin and slide it gently into the water. Repeat with the other 3 eggs and leave to cook for 3 minutes, turning the eggs over carefully. Drain the eggs from the pan using a slotted spoon and place on a sheet of kitchen paper. 5. Toast the bread slices. Rub one slice with the cut sides of the garlic clove and cut into small croûtons. Place an egg on top of each of the remaining slices and spoon over the onions, lardons, mushrooms, the sauce and the croûtons. Snip some chives into short lengths with scissors, scatter a few on top of each serving – and that’s it!

Pissaladière pizza serves 3

Ingredients 3 canned sardines, drained 6 canned anchovies, drained Olive oil 3 large onions, finely chopped Aalt 1 ball of uncooked pizza dough (for 3 large pizza bases – 350ml warm water, 1 Tbsp salt, 525g flour type 00 and a pinch of instant yeast), ready to roll out 1 small red [bell] pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced A handful of pitted black olives Chopped thyme and rosemary leaves (fresh are best but dried are fine as well)

a job for the fishmonger!)

prinkling Dust them in the flour until

dd the fish to the pan and when r. Fry for 4 minutes, still over a spatula, turn the fish over. pooning the oil and butter over n’t burn. Lift the trout out of

whisk it into the hot, e with chopped fresh herbs

Method 1. Blend the sardines with the anchovies. Add about 5 tablespoons of olive oil and blend again until you have a smooth paste. This is the base of our dish. 2. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole dish or large pan with a lid, add the chopped onions and season with salt. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for at least 1 hour. I know this sounds like hard work but you’ll be able to use this onion ‘compote’ in all sorts of dishes. It will also keep for easily a week in the refrigerator, covered with oil, in a sealed jar. 3. Preheat the oven to its highest setting and, if you don’t have a pizza stone, preheat an upturned griddle pan in the oven. Roll out the ball of pizza dough with a rolling pin until about 25cm [10in] in diameter. Place the pizza base on a sheet of baking parchment and spread 3 tablespoons of sardine paste over it. Beware – it’s very salty and the flavour is powerful. Spread 8 tablespoons of onion compote on top and scatter over the pepper and fennel. Sprinkle over the thyme and rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. 4. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone or preheated griddle pan and bake for 5–10 minutes or until the edges of the dough are lightly charred and puffed up.

Illustrations: Fotolia

serves 4 Ingredients 2 glasses of full-bodied red wine 350ml beef stock 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tbsp oil 6 small shallots or the white parts of spring onions [scallions], halved 175g lardons 175g button mushrooms, quartered 2 tbsp butter mashed with 1 tbsp plain [all-purpose] flour Salt and pepper A dash of vinegar 4 fresh eggs 5 slices of bread 1 large garlic clove, halved A few chive stems

En saison: What to put on your plate in September Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality... French seasonal basket Fruit Apples, grapes, figs, raspberries, melons, greengages, plums, damsons, pears, blueberries, blackberries, mirabelle plums. Focus on: figs There are more than 700 varieties of figs, among which we find the black bourjasotte variety, also called the Violette de Solliès. Cultivated in Solliès-Pont in the Var, it has enjoyed AOC status since 2006. Also cultivated in France is the golden ball (or dauphine), an older variety of green fig with pink flesh.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Spread the dough in the buttered mould. Prick the bottom with a fork then arrange the mirabelles tightly on the dough. Bake the pie for 20 minutes. In a bowl, whip the egg with the sugar then add the cream. Pour this mixture over the pie. Finally put it back in the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Vegetables Aubergine, tomato, salad, lettuce, lentils, pulses, green beans, artichoke, carrot, courgette, watercress, salsify, sweetcorn, turnip, onion, pepper, fennel, cucumber, squash, cauliflower, chard, potato, pumpkin, spinach, radish, broccoli. Fish, shellfish and crustaceans Herring, hake, mussels, red mullet, crab, red gurnard, sea bream, squid, Mediterranean anchovy, whiting, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, periwinkle.

Buying tip: When buying figs, the skin must be smooth and supple. A white ‘drop’ that forms at the base of the fruit is a sign of freshness. Keep figs at room temperature or a few days in the vegetable tray of the refrigerator. Freezing, on the other hand, causes them to lose flavour and texture. Recipe: Mirabelle pie Ingredients (serves 6 ): Shortcrust pastry: 220g flour, 110g butter, 1/2 glass water. Filling: 900g mirabelles, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons sugar, 15cl whole cream liquid. Rub the flour and cubed butter together to obtain a granular mixture. Pour in the water, knead the dough quickly and roll it into a ball. Let it rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the dish and wash the mirabelles. Cut them in half and remove the stones.

Focus on: Red mullet Beautiful red in colour, this fish belongs to the Mullidae family and comes in three types: those fished in deep waters; those fished near rocks, and those fished near Senegal. Trawled and landed on all French coasts, it is considered one of the best fish on the market.

Recipe: grilled red mullet Ingredients for 4 people: 8 small red mullets, olive oil, a little fine salt and ground pepper. Ask your fishmonger to remove the gills without gutting or scaling the fish. Immerse them 1 sec in olive oil. Place them on the previously oiled grill. Cook them 3 min on one side, 2 min on the other. Season with salt and pepper and serve with anchovy butter. For our artisan cheese pick for September, see page 15

14 Food

French Living I September 2018

French cheese, but not as you know it Photo: Jean-Christophe Felt

With more people seeking non-dairy options for the fridge or dining table, vegan ‘cheese’ is on the rise. Jane Hanks reports


n a country known for its cheeses, it might seem sacrilegious to produce a vegan alternative with no dairy products, but there are young companies in France producing new vegetal based creations which cannot keep up with the demand for their products and which are planning to expand by moving to bigger premises. Though many of these products are packaged and designed to be eaten in a similar way to dairy cheese, a recent case from the EU Court of Justice ruled that traditional dairy terms such as milk, cheese, cream, butter or yoghurt cannot be used in purely plant-based products. It was decided that German company TofuTown could no longer name its plant-based products Veggie Cheese or Soyatoo Tofu Butter. There are some exceptions: coconut and almond milk and peanut butter are still allowed. However, a quick scan of the supermarket shelves where this type of product is beginning to appear shows they are being sold to look like a cheese alternative. At my local Biocoop in Sarlat, I found Vegeese, packaged as cheddar look alike slices made principally from coconut oil and Risella “which can be eaten like Mozzarella”, with rice as its main ingredient. At Leclerc, I found two feta-looking packages made mostly from coconut oil, one labelled ‘Mozzarella flavour’ and the second ‘Goat’. There was also a packet labelled ‘Vegan Organic Grated, Flavour

Plenty of people buy them to make a change from their routine, even if they eat dairy

Cheddar’, again with coconut oil as its main ingredient. I tested them out on my family, who were not very impressed as the cheeses tend not to have much taste and a strange dense texture. However, there are artisanal makers who are producing new vegetal foods which are winning prizes and they cannot keep up with demand. One, La Petite Fraw at Clermont-Ferrand, wants to get away from any comparisons with cheese, even though it is based in the heart of the Auvergne, famous for its traditional cheeses.

It was set up two years ago and in its small premises, with eight employees, it makes 10,000 Fraws a month. It won this year’s Development Prize in the National Competition for Organic Agri-Food Industry Creations. Its organic, non-dairy ‘Fraws’ are made from cashew nuts and flavoured with different spices, herbs and flavours to produce a range of sixteen different products; thirteen are sold in artisanal and traditional boxes and three have a smooth texture and are sold in jars. Native Mezin, responsible for marketing says that they are a new type of food: “We have noticed at tastings that everyone has their own subjective view of our project. What we want is to mark our Fraws as vegetal products with their own properties. People are happy to try something new they have never tasted before.” The founder, Caroline Poinas, began making them because she wanted to create a new product for the market that was both good to eat and healthy and she discovered there was a demand for them: “They are not just for vegans and vegetarians,” says Mrs Mezin. “Plenty of people are curious about them, taste them and then are happy to buy them to make a change from their routine, even if they eat meat and dairy products. It is also great for people with a lactose intolerance.” The process is quite simple, she says: “The cashew nuts are put in a mixer with water and a special bacteria, similar to that used in yoghurts, to make it ferment together with the chosen flavours. It is then left in moulds overnight in a fairly warm place and then stored in fridges for a few days when it is ready to be sold. “We have winter and summer Fraws. The winter ones tend to be spicier and the summer ones have ingredients like basil and dried tomato. We do not wish to make this kind of product secretive and are keen to encourage people to make this

Tomm’Pousse’s vegan products made from cashew nuts or soya have won awards. They include CamemVert. Inset: Caroline Poinas, the founder of La Petite Fraw in Clermont-Ferrand

healthy food at home. There are plenty of recipes on the internet and one way of making it is to use cashew nuts, water and lemon juice as the fermenting agent.” Fraws are not cheap at around €7.50 for 120g, but Mrs Mezin says they are healthy, ecological, ethical and handmade: “All our ingredients are organic. Our cashew nuts are bought in Africa, but we have chosen our source with care. “Many sold in Europe are picked and grown in Africa and then sent to Asia to be shelled, which is not ecological or fair to the growers so we make sure ours come direct from Africa. The recipes are simple with no hidden ingredients and because it is not cooked all the ingredients keep their full vitamin content.” Fraws can be eaten in a variety of different ways. With bread, but also diced in a salad, mixed with water to make a sauce and served on pasta, baked on potatoes in the oven and spread over pizzas. It can be bought on the internet at their site or in specialist organic shops. The company with its team of young enthusiastic workers hopes to expand into bigger premises by the end of this year. www.lapetitefrawmagerie.com Vegan products with added values Act on Eat was launched in September 2017 in Nanterre, Hauts-de-Seine and won the Creation award in the National Competition for Organic Agri-Food Industry Creations for its Tomm’Pousse range of vegan products. For now, the company has just one employee and produces four different products from cashew nuts or soya. Two are like feta, made from soya; one is flavoured with herbs and another with olives and two are like Camembert; made from cashew nuts, CamemVert Nature and CamemVert à la Sauge, flavoured with sage. The company was set up by Emmanuel Joubert who had previously worked in

marketing in a big multinational, but decided to turn his back on that world to live in one more in keeping with his own values. He has called his company Act on Eat because he says we should all be changing our eating habits by cutting down on the amounts of animal products we consume, which is why for him, making a non-dairy cheese equivalent makes sense: “There are huge problems created by consuming too much animal protein, for example de-forestation of the Amazon, to make way for intensive farming as well as major health issues,” says Mr Joubert. “I wanted to create something which was like a cheese, and which could be a bridge between the traditional and the innovative. A new product you can serve on a classic cheese board.” He says he uses very similar techniques to those used in a dairy including fermentation and then a maturing period of several weeks: “Our CamemVert has many similarities with a classic camembert and it can be eaten in the same way. I do not know anyone who has not liked it.” He says he does not want people to stop eating cheese, but to add an alternative to their menus. “More and more people are becoming interested in vegan products as awareness grows about the ecological consequences of eating huge amounts of animal products. Many people buy it out of curiosity as well, to see what it is like.” He did not want to say how many cheeses he makes every day but said it was impossible for them to make enough. “We are still very new and our difficulty is to grow fast enough. I do not regret my decision to change jobs. This is much more intense, more lows, but also more highs.” His products can be bought in the Ile-de-France region and in specialist delicatessens in Provence and major cities, such as Rennes, Rouen and Bordeaux. Details on their website tommpousse.fr

Wine and Cheese 15

September 2018 I French Living Photos: Samantha David

Artisan cheese of the month: Laguiole Photo: Tourisme Aveyron


eta and Michael Hamilton live in the Haute-Vienne and like eating meat but are also strong believers in animal rights. “Industrial farming where animals are kept in large hangers and never even go outside is not ethical,” says Michael. “In fact it’s cruel.” “So we decided to produce our own pork,” says Peta. In France it is possible to raise a pig for your own household consumption without having to declare yourself as a farm. “But we don’t think it’s right to keep a single pig. They’re sociable animals,” she continues. “So our neighbours decided to join us in the venture, so between us we are fattening three Royal Berkshires, a heritage breed from the UK.” They buy the pigs in as 20kg weaners in the spring and take them to the abattoir in the autumn, by which time they weigh around 90kgs. In the intervening months, the pigs have the run of a large enclosure and a stretch of woodland where they can root for grubs in the shade of the oak trees. They also have a warm shelter where they can sleep if it rains. “It’s a very happy and natural life for them,” says Peta. “And they come to call, so when it’s time to load them into the trailer, we just whistle and they follow us up the ramp.” She admits that it was hard at first, eating pigs they had reared themselves, but feels very strongly that it is important to get over it. “We don’t give them names, and we try not to differentiate one from another. They’re just pigs. We’re used to that fact now. We love them, but they are meat animals. “We go to Confolens abattoir because it has the best reputation in the area. Last time we went, we were left to coax them out of the trailer and they literally walked behind the man into a straw lined stall, as if they were a couple of dogs going for a walk (no pain or stress). What we have been told is that they play music to cover any sounds that may be made and each animal is processed separately so that they don’t see anything either.” She says the group of friends have all learned to make sausages, paté, and cured meats. “At first our farming neighbours weren’t sure about our pigs but when they tasted our boudins (black sausages) with apples they changed their minds!”

Winemakers in France can get state grants to replace vineyards or to buy environmentally-friendly equipment

Laguiole (pronounced lah-yull), also known as Tome de Laguiole, is a cousin of Cantal and Salers, and is produced in the Aubrac, an area spanning sixty communes of the Aveyron, Cantal and Lozère departments. It obtained an AOC in 1961 and is largely produced by one company, the Jeune Montagne cheese cooperative. Made from raw, whole cow’s milk, it is a firm, pressed and uncooked cheese with a thick, dry rind. It can be eaten at various stages of maturity but it is perhaps best known as one of the principal ingredients in aligot, an Aveyron speciality comprised of mash potatoes mixed with cheese, cream and butter.

Local speciality: Coucougnettes

Coucougnettes are artisanal, hand-made sweets made from Pau. They consist of a toasted almond coated with dark chocolate, which is then rolled in an almond paste flavoured with raspberry, ginger and Armagnac. Coucougner means to cuddle – they are said to be named in honour of King Henri IV, a keen ‘cuddler’ whom historians say had 54 mistresses and 27 children. Available from www.bienmanger.com, €8.95 for a 135g packet.

Photos: Pixabay

Meet the producers


The truth about vigneron subsidies

Grants for winemakers are anything but simple handouts, says Jonathan Hesford A year in the vineyard


very now and then I hear people from outside the wine industry making remarks about French vignerons living on subsidies and grants, paid for by the taxpayer and the EU. So I thought it would be interesting to write about what subsidies or grants are available to vignerons and what they have to do to get them. In France, viticulture is not covered under the EU Common Agricultural Policy that pays farmers every year based on the amount of land they own. Vignerons can only apply for grants and subsidies for investments or improvements. The most common of these is replanting vines. The French state keeps very tight control over the planting of vineyards. Every single plot is measured to the nearest square centimetre and recorded on a government database along with its regional designation for wine production, Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) or Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP). When a vineyard is due to be replaced the owner needs to file a request for arrachage, the grubbing up of the plot. Government surveyors physically check the surface area and make sure that it has vines growing in it. A seven-stage administrative process has to be followed, involving two separate government departments, the douanes (customs and excise) and FranceAgriMer (Ministry of Agriculture). Once approved, the vineyard can be grubbed up and a grant of around €500 per hectare covers costs. There have been times, in certain areas, where additional money was granted

The state owns planting right and distributes them as and when they are required

to grub up vineyards and not replace them. This is done to reduce production of wines which don’t sell easily or only fetch small amounts of money. That explains the presence of large amounts of unplanted vineyard land in the Languedoc-Roussillon. There have also been cases when the government subsidised replacing one variety with another, the aim being to encourage vignerons to plant what the state regarded as more commercially viable varieties. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s Carignan, Aramon and Alicante were replaced by Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet and Merlot in Languedoc. This has led to the production of more palatable cheap wines from the co-ops and bulk-wine producers but also the disappearance of old varieties like Terret and Carignan Blanc. A similar process takes place for planting but this time there are strict rules on which grape varieties may be planted, the spacing of plants, the timescale and finally the existence of planting rights. In the past planting rights were held individually by vignerons and created by grubbing up. In the last few years a new system has been introduced to remove the market in trading planting rights between vignerons. Now the state owns the planting rights and distributes them as and when they are required. Each wine region has a limited amount of hectares that can be planted according to its AOP or IGP. So it is not easy for a vigneron to expand their production of a given type of wine. As long as the farmer follows the procedure correctly, they are given a grant of several thousand euros per hectare to go towards the costs. Those costs are significant because vines need to be grafted onto American vine rootstock before planting to protect them from phylloxera, the louse that eats their roots and kills European vines. Then there are three years of vineyard management to get the vines established before they produce a crop and the additional cost of constructing trellising. It is worth noting that Spain and Italy have chosen to include viticulture in their farming subsidies which are paid out based on land farmed. This means

that wine can be produced more cheaply in those countries than in France. It is contentious because it appears to contravene EU rules on fair trade and has led to the import of large quantities of cheap wine, primarily Spanish, by négociants, who have been accused of selling the wine as if it were French. In some cases they use packaging and shelf-placement in supermarkets to make it look French but there have been cases of illegal labelling of foreign wine as a AOP or IGP. The négociants are also accused of selling the imported wine to thousands of tourist restaurants and cafés who serve the wine, knowingly or not, as French wine by the glass or carafe. Militant vignerons in the Languedoc, who are hurt most financially by this practice, have taken actions verging on terrorism, such as emptying the tankers transporting the wine or attacking the premises of négociants believed to be involved in these practices. There are a few other ways in which the government subsidises viticulture. The first is to give Jeunes Agriculteurs (those under 40) extra money for planting and for purchasing equipment. The idea being that it helps and encourages younger people to become vignerons and therefore rejuvenates the industry. The purchase of certain types of environmental vineyard equipment are subsidised. These include sprayers which capture and recycle the sprays, ploughs which can remove weeds under the vine, mulchers and mowers which reduce reliance on herbicides. The conversion to organic viticulture is also subsidised and once certified, organic vignerons are eligible for further subsidies. So while it’s true that viticulture is subsidised by the state, the subsidies are to regenerate the vineyards, improve environmental standards and encourage better practices. They are not simply hand-outs to allow vignerons to live in the lap of luxury. Jonathan Hesford has a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University, New Zealand and is the owner and vigneron of Domaine Treloar: www.domainetreloar.com.

16 Homes

French Living I September 2018

Interiors icon Samuel ‘was like a king’ I always admired his perfect taste,” acclaims Hubert de Givenchy, the legendary couturier who had many friends and clients in common with Henri Samuel. Samuel brought this “perfect taste” to his work, expertly and elegantly interpreting historical styles for contemporary living. He was proud that there was no so-called Samuel style, that one couldn’t instantly identify his hand in a room. It was more important that the interiors he created reflected his clients’ personality and functioned as a life-enhancing backdrop. Samuel had a passion for living well and an interest in contemporary life that infused his work with a sense of both well-being and dynamism. This resulted in the landmark decoration of his Pompeiian-red salon, which has become a highly influential twentieth century interior. It is considered pioneering for its pairing of classic French high style with contemporary design for an overall effect that continues to surprise and dazzle. For a designer who delighted in the past but embraced the present, it is fitting that both his classical and contemporary contributions to design are celebrated today. During his career, high-profile commissions for the Rothschild family and the palace of Versailles demonstrated his command of historical styles. One American client with traditional taste admitted that he might not have hired Samuel if he had first seen the decorator’s own residence because of the mysterious sculptural furniture by François Arnal, Philippe Hiquily, Ron Ferri, Guy de Rougemont, and other artists populating his salon. Today, it is via this furniture and how Samuel incorporated it into a high-style decor that a new generation is learning his name for the first time. Yves Gastou, who worked with the sculptor Philippe Hiquily and now with his estate on a new edition of Samuel-edited pieces, states, “All the great decorators and architects are inspired by Henri Samuel. He was an initiator who dared to include little-known artists in his interiors. “He had the courage to depart from the ponderous eighteenth- and nineteenth century styles with a wonderful eclecticism. He was a pioneer.” In November 2014, the New York gallery Demisch Danant opened the exhibition Paris Match: Henri Samuel and the Artists He Commissioned, 1968–1977. Gallery co-founder Suzanne Demisch notes, “Henri Samuel captured an environment that still resonates today. He represents a new age, a time of decorators who were successfully mixing historic material with contemporary art and objects in a very glamorous way.” Swiss architect Rodolphe-Pierre Lasser worked for Samuel between 1955 and 1960. He recalls: “This was when Henri

Photos: Courtesy of A. Jerrold; Estate of Karen Radkai Perenchio

In her new book, Emily Evans Eerdmans looks at the enduring legacy of tastemaking pioneer Henri Samuel

Samuel was at the height of his career. He was working all over the world. These years, from when I was twenty to twenty-five, were very important to me and were essential to the future success of my own business. One of Samuel’s greatest strengths was his sense of public relations. He was very social.” Like Samuel, the interior designer Jacques Grange prides himself on the diverse nature of his work. With an academic understanding of the past, he has the pulse of the present. “I don’t want to stay with established taste,” Grange has said. “I like to take risks.” He has created densely layered interiors for collectors such as Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent as well as spare, curated ones for others. While working for Samuel between 1965 and 1968, Grange experienced the charge of collaborating with artists, such as Diego Giacometti, and continues to incorporate contemporary creations in his own work. “I was twenty-three, and everything was possible,” he recalls. “I wanted to work for Monsieur Samuel – he was like a king.” The world of haute decoration is a small one, and Grange’s work has overlapped with Samuel’s many times. The next generation of Samuel’s clients have turned to Grange, such as beauty entrepreneur Terry and her husband, Jean de Gunzburg, whose parents Baron and Baronne Alain de Gunzburg lived in an hôtel particulier decorated by Samuel. Terry de Gunzburg recounted to Architectural Digest, “As our mutual friend Pierre Bergé says, ‘Jacques has the talent for doing houses that don’t look done up,’” a sentiment Samuel would have approved of.

Above: Samuel’s work at the Los Angeles home of late Univision billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio where priceless artworks were paired with Louis XV commodes; Inset: Henri Samuel at his Paris (Faubourg St-Honoré) apartment

Extracted from Henri Samuel, Master of the French Interior by Emily Evans Eerdmans (published by Rizzoli).

Henri Samuel’s name is almost unknown by younger generations of American designers. Brian J. McCarthy, who opened his New York office after years of working for the esteemed firm Parish-Hadley, is one exception. “The evolution of Henri has always fascinated me. When I think about his first apartment that was so classically eighteenth century compared to the last home he did for himself, it is clear he was always bringing curiosity and new thinking to his design. “He introduced any number of artists and furniture designers that we revere today and his living room was a sort of salon style of the arts in a way that wasn’t didactic or obvious. It didn’t feel gallery-like.” Essential to Samuel’s work were his clients’ own collections, which brought an added dimension of personality to the room and also made the resulting decoration a collaboration. McCarthy remarks on how, with the twenty-first-century’s pervasive expectation of immediate gratification, the art of collecting is disappearing. “Today people don’t spend the time to find things, and they don’t take the time to enjoy the process of finding things. And by finding, and seeing, and looking, and doing all of that, you’re learning. And that’s the only way one can begin to separate the good from the great.” McCarthy ruminates further on why Samuel’s interior decoration still beguiles and surprises today: “There’s an order and structure to classical French rooms and while Henri would bring that order to them, there’d be something that would shake it and break it, and make it youthful. There’s something so smart about the way he decorated; it’s beyond timeless. “If you re-created one of Henri’s rooms, it would look as fresh today as it did then. To me, that speaks volumes about how great he was. He was a genius, pure and simple. He should be an inspiration to all.”

Get the look With canny French high street and online purchases, you can recreate some of Henri Samuel’s aristo-chic at home. Prices and availability correct at time of going to press. Plum position This stylish, neo-classical Montpensier armchair in prune-coloured 100% cotton velvet, with matching cushion, costs €449. www.maisonsdumonde.com Let there be light Get the vintage lustre (chandelier) look with this high quality, 10-light Amadea model, priced €2,144.90, from Luminaire. www.luminaire.fr Wood you? Each side of this Louis XV Saint-Étienne chest has a decoration of leaves and flowers in quality marquetry. The frame is made of solid Asian mahogany, the inlaid elements are rosewood, blond mahogany, acacia and boxwood. €489 from www.royaldecorations.fr




ANDY: 0044 (0) 7876 504 547 DAVE: 0044 (0) 7515 722 772




18 Puzzles

French Living I September 2018

Bilingual cryptic crossword

by Parolles Answers are in French and English Across


7 Obvious from ship’s cargo list (8)

1 Banter in Manchester and Metz (8)

9 Carefully study fellow swindler (3,3)

2 Publicise eastern area of Pays de la Loire (4)

10 ‘Extremely calamitous’ say in French (4)

3 Edict from King Charles blocking River Eden’s source (6)

11 Editorial standing by call to reveal what Fletcher Christian was (10)

4 Rodin, by way of illustration, discovers criminal court record inside section at the front (8)

12 Wise to protect Virginia when subject to a vicious verbal attack (6)

5 Not able to find story on conservationists in a French edition (10)

14 Not initially excited about marijuana discovered in French warehouse (8)

6 Happen to come up with Arizona first in an attempt to find a summerhouse (6)

15 Alain’s to amaze Peter with answer surprisingly (6)

8 Louis XIV’s to tempt the queen with wine (6)

17 Sandrine’s to lend Peter’s novel to Rex (6) 20 Parolles, it turns out, becomes well-educated in France (8) 22 Sell illegal drugs? It’s what cyclists do reportedly (6) 23 Unacceptable for detour to be altered around the west end of Orleans (3,2,5) 24 Burn Rene’s cart (4) 25 Leave with Italian after strike (4,2)


26 Sparkling silver objects discarded untidily on the floor (8)


French-themed crossword

13 Job supporting social worker accepted by girl returning from French outpost (5-5) 16 You strove it’s said in pursuit of each French etching (3-5) 18 Set free from rental contract held by the German from the south (8) 19 Volunteers originally doing it in South American sports grounds (6) 21 New French university featured in Germinal for instance (6) 22 A shout of approval after Norm’s speech in Paris (6) 24 French town’s church houses it (4)

by John Foley



2 Inhabitants of Béziers, after the city’s ancient name (9)


7 ‘Les Rolls Royces’ of olives – sweet and meaty (7)

10 Grey Arabian horse captured from Napoléon at the Battle of Waterloo (7) 12 Soupe de crustacés (6) 14 First name (6) 17 Qui est inhabituel (7) 19 Odd request from Danton: “N’oublie pas de montrer ma ____ au peuple: elle est bonne à voir” (4) 22 Poison sécrété par certains animaux (5) 23 Invented or dreamt up (7) 24 Casual love affair – unlikely to last! (9)

A TREASURE of French comedy cinema is Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, in which the lanky joker’s alter ego Monsieur Hulot hits the seaside for madcap mayhem, upsetting fellow holidaymakers and fooling around to maximum slapstick effect. Q: In which town was the film shot in 1951?

4 Summary – of one’s work, for example (6) 5 Prolific novelist best known for his fictional detective Jules Maigret (7) 6 Chap, fellow (8) 8 Woodwind instrument - ___ Anglais (3) 11 Faire boire un animal (8) 13 Petit arbre – aka lilas (7) 15 _______ du permis – bad news for a driver (7) 16 Part of a bird’s digestive tract often eaten in salads (6) 18 Sadly, due to its red tape some people see France as ‘the land of ___’ (3) 20 _____ de Jouy – material, typically with a pastoral theme pattern, often used for curtains and upholstery (5)

BORN Lucien Ginsburg on April 2 1928 in Paris to a Ukrainian family of Jewish descent, Serge Gainsbourg is seen as one of the most influential French singers and songwriters of all time, even achieving cult-like status in the Anglophone music-loving world – a rare feat from a French performer. In his career he adopted many musical styles from jazz to yéyé, funk to African rhythms and dance-pop to reggae, but chanson was his first love. Q: Gainsbourg was a known loose canon on television and pulled many stunts. What did he do in 1984 in protest at high tax rates?



21 Crainte or inquiétude (4)

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IT IS 72m long, between 20 and 25m wide and 9m high. This curious construction stands at the top of a hill on the northern Finistère coast overlooking the English Channel and dates back to around 4,500-3,500BC. Q: By what name is this remarkable construction known?

3 Did you know...?

2. Beach joker Photo: Wikipedia/ Claude Truong-Ngoc

1 Name that megalith

Photo: NewPapillon / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fun French facts

3 Second sign of the zodiac (7) Photo: CC0_rauschenberger_pixabay

Mediterranean port and resort known as the Venice of Languedoc (4)

Code name for one of the five beaches used in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944 (4)

2 Femelle du cerf (5)

8 Flowering plant of the family Apiaceae whose ground seeds are used in many cuisines (5) 9

Photo: CC0_skeeze_pixabay

Note all answers are words or names associated with France

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Puzzles 19

September 2018 I French Living

Guess the region...

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...

Clue: A canal runs through it

Which département of central France containing architectural treasures such as the châteaux of Amboise and Chenonceau, takes its name from two rivers which meet near Chinon?


At over 20 tonnes, the heaviest in France and located since 1895 in the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur in Paris, what is La Savoyarde?

Photo: CC0_bogitw_pixabay


12 The title character in the 1867 novel which made Emile Zola famous, who, in league with her lover Laurent LeClaire, murders her husband Camille by forcible drowning? 13 More closely associated with Switzerland, which cow’s milk cheese has been manufactured in Savoie since the Middle Ages and was awarded EU protected local name status in 1996?

18 Which 1970s children’s book and animated cartoon character has daughters called Barbalala, Barbabelle and Barbalib, and a name which is a French term for candy floss? 19 What word for a soup thickening agent made from flour and melted butter is also the family surname of two of Britain’s best known French chefs? 20 In Gustave Caillebotte’s famous 1877 oil painting Rue de Paris, temps de pluie, what are at least eight of the people in the picture carrying prominently?


With a title equating approximately to ‘This is the life’, what soap opera set in Marseille and broadcast on France 3, celebrated its 3000th episode in 2016, a record for French TV?

11 The Rapaces de Gap, the Boxers de Bordeaux and the Dragons de Rouen all compete in the Ligue Magnus of what sport, in which France is currently ranked in the world’s top 15?

17 What is the most obvious English equivalent of the French saying, ‘On n’apprend pas aux vieux singes à faire des grimaces’?

Guess the region Josselin in Brittany, dominated by the medieval castle, still lived in by members of the legendary Rohan family. The Nantes-Brest Canal runs through the town. Photo: Emmanuel Berthier/CRT Brittany.



Quiz 1 Minimum wage (Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance), 2 Christopher Lambert, 3 Exocet, 4 Puy du Fou, 5 Plus Belle la Vie, 6 Indre-et-Loire, 7 A bell, 8 Strasbourg (when held by Germany), 9 Zazie (dans le Métro), 10 Tokyo, 11 Ice hockey, 12 Thérèse Raquin, 13 Emmental (‘de Savoie’), 14 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, 15 Ligurian Sea, 16 (1st ) Duke of Marlborough, 17 Can’t teach an old dog new tricks, 18 Barbapapa, 19 Roux, 20 Umbrellas (of course!).

Incorporating 2000 years of French history, what is the name of the award-winning theme park near Cholet in western France, which boasts the world’s biggest theatrical stage?

16 Sung to the tune of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’, the 18th century folk song Malbrouck s’en va-t-en guerre celebrated (prematurely) the death of which implacable foe of France’?

Anagram: Beziers



10 In 2016, which capital city, with 13 had more three-starred Michelin restaurants than any other in the world, three more than Paris?

15 What is the name of the Mediterranean sea-within-a-sea which separates the French and Italian Rivieras from northern Corsica?

Bilingual cryptic crossword Across: 7 Manifest, 9 Con man, 10 Dire, 11 Ringleader, 12 Savage, 14 Entrepôt, 15 Epater, 17 Prêter, 20 Instruit, 22 Peddle, 23 Out of order, 24 Char, 25 Beat it, 26 Aglitter.

What word for a ‘flying fish’ was given to the type of French-built anti-shipping missile used by the Argentinians to sink HMS Sheffield in May 1982, during the Falklands conflict?

What is the name of the rude and mischievous 10-year old played by Catherine Demongeot, whose ambition is to ride on the Paris Métro in the title of a 1960 film by Louis Malle?

Down: 1 Badinage, 2 Aire, 3 Decree, 4 Sculptor, 5 Untalented, 6 Gazebo, 8 Tenter, 13 Avant-poste, 16 Eau-forte, 18 Released, 19 Stadia, 21 Nouvel, 22 Parole, 24 Cite.



14 Which sporting event held annually since 1920 in Paris on the first Sunday in October, is named in honour of the site of a First World War victory parade?

French-themed crossword Across: 2 biterrois, 7 lucques, 8 cumin, 9 Sète, 10 marengo, 12 bisque, 14 prénom, 17 étrange, 19 tête, 22 venin, 23 imaginé, 24 amourette.

Which French actor, best known in the UK for playing a feral aristocrat and an immortal Scotsman, was actually born in New York, the son of a United Nations diplomat?

Take the first letter from the answers to the questions indicated below and rearrange the letters to spell out the name of a French city. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their surname. Questions 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 18, 19

8 A statue representing which city, one of eight in the Place de la Concorde, was traditionally kept covered by a black cloth on French state occasions between 1870 and 1918?

Down: 1 Gold, 2 biche, 3 taureau, 4 resumé, 5 Simenon, 6 bonhomme, 8 cor, 11 abreuver, 13 syringa, 15 retrait, 16 gesier, 18 non, 20 toile, 21 peur.


Try our quiz

Fun French facts 1 Cairn de Barnénez. 2 Saint-Marc-sur-Mer in Loire-Atlantique, about 6kms from Saint-Nazaire

1 Commonly known in France by the acronym ‘le SMIC’, what stands, as of August 2017, at a rate of €9.76 per hour?

3 He set alight a 500 franc note. (the clip is available on YouTube).

Test your knowledge of France with our Connexion quiz

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

French Living I September 2018 John Law, James Buchan, MacLehose Press, £30; ISBN: 978-085705-338 PORTRAYED over the centuries as a crook, a rake and a gambler, John Law of Lauriston had a financial brain that saw him set up France’s first national bank but also create the country’s own ‘South Sea Bubble’. In creating paper currency he helped rebuild a France brought to its knees financially by the “wars and extravagances” of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and created unheard of public properity before plunging the country into severe economic depression and creating the conditions for revolution. His Compagnie des Indes, better known as the Mississippi Company, controlled all of France’s foreign trade and had the right to mint coins and col-

lect French taxes. As Surintendant des finances et Contrôleur général des finances Law had sole control of both creating money and taxation. There were doubts over a foreigner being made controller general and rising mistrust in Law’s plans blew up over his decision to abolish silver money which had been “used since the Roman Empire”. In doing so, he sparked a run on his bank that collapsed the bubble and with it went the fortunes of millions. With it, too, went all confidence in the financial system, and this finely detailed portrait reveals the man who gambled with France’s fortune and lost.

Editor’s choice

Books – The 20 minute review

We read recent releases with a link to France. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time

Dir: Xavier Giannoli; 138 mins

Frazzled after one war reporting mission too many – and a tragic recent personal loss in the Middle East – newspaper journalist Jacques (the ever-magnificent Vincent Lindon) returns to the relative tranquility of his native France. However, his next job soon comes along – and it is an unusual one from an unexpected source: The Vatican. The Catholic church asks him to carry out a canonical investigation, to determine the veracity of a teenage girl’s reported sighting of the Virgin Mary. For someone who admits to not even believing in God (“I think there may be something, but I am not a believer”) this is the ultimate test of Jacques’ scepticism. He is immediately fascinated by the girl (a super turn by Galatea Bellugi as Anna), who tells him: “I am not a liar”. He believes her, as do the crowds already making a pilgrimage to the apparition site in the Alps. But the church is less convinced, even if they feel protective of the girl: “The Church will always prefer to miss a true miracle rather than to recognize an sham,” admits a young priest. What follows is a detective story imbued with reflections on evidencebased rationality and inner conviction. So is girl really telling the truth?

Also out: Racer and the Jailbird A female racing driver (Bibi) and a male bank robber (Gigi) form a hi-octane couple in this entertaining action-drama. The English title is less pleasing than the original: La Fidèle (The Faithful One).

Saving Mona Lisa, Gerri Chanel, Icon Books, £20; ISBN: 978-1-7857-84163

THE George Clooney film Monuments Men tells of the battle to save artworks from being looted by the Nazis and it shows just a little part of the five million works that were saved. This is the true tale of one, the most famous artwork of our time, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Nine days before France declared war on Germany in 1939, it was packed on to the first lorry heading from the Louvre to ‘safe’ chateaux in the Loire. It was just the start of an ‘exile’ from Paris that had been planned for 10 years but lasted nearly six. But it was not safe for long, and La Joconde was soon on the move again – on an ambulance stretcher fitted with elastic cords to stop road vibration – to the tiny village of Louvigny. There are plenty of moves and plenty of chateaux, villas and banks to remember; many, many names, too, and it does all get a bit confusing. But the thread is there and the tale of how the Mona Lisa was saved deserves to be told. Back in Paris, various German factions are trying to track down the Louvre’s art – some to do Hitler’s bidding, some for Goëbbels, some for Goëring, the biggest Nazi looter of all. There were some, also, who were motivated by a love of art and not by a lust to have it for themselves.

Yellow With Black Spots, Yolanda Powell, Amazon, £6.99; ISBN: 978-1-9999-22405 WE HAVE all been young and we remember what brought us to France and, perhaps, how much of it seemed exotic when we first visited... this book may revive that feeling. Katherine Stewart has taken a gap year from her Oxford studies in 1971 and arrives in Paris to become a teaching assistant. Her first view of the city is enchanting, her second, third and fourth less so. This is Paris in the aftermath of 1968; when people are starting to adjust to the changes the riots had forced and Katherine is also finding her feet as both teacher and young woman in Paris. It is immediately familiar and although her life may seem set for the humdrum of ordinary existence it is anything but. What characters she creates, how well she draws them. Life carries on, although death intrudes, but Katherine discovers more about herself and who she wants to be – which is slim not fat – and she also discovers that Paris is starting to be ‘home’.

Maigret and the Lazy Burglar, Georges Simenon, Penguin Classics, £7.99; ISBN: 978-0241-30391-7 THIS is a slim novel of a mere 152 pages and the price may seem steep but there is a vitality to Simenon’s writing that is worth it. Even his description of being wakened by a ringing phone is a delight; the brilliance in his story-telling undimmed by the passing years where Maigret was forgotten by many. This is a classic as Maigret rails against the ‘new’ justice system imposed on the police; where they are told what and how to investigate – he is less than impressed. It is a refrain common in every business but Simenon gives it a polish as his policeman battles against being pushed out of his own investigations. His descriptions of life and his colleagues are worth it alone but this is also a cracking crime case and a delight to read.

The Duchess, Danielle Steel, Macmillan, £18.99; ISBN: 978-1-5098-0025-4

THE blurb says she is the biggest-selling living fiction author in the world and the story inside shows just why that is. She has a formula that has won in the past and she has now adapted it so her story is, actually, in the past. Historical fiction is a new departure for Danielle Steel but her ever-constant eye on the struggles of women in a maleruled society does not waver as we follow Angélique Latham on her journey from a magnificent English castle to working with the women on the streets of Paris. It is the 19th century and, despite being her father’s most trusted child and brought up to manage his estate, when he dies she is turned out by her half-brother and forced to work as a nanny. We know her father gave her an envelope with £25,000 ‘in case her brother mistreated her’ but misfortune dogs her and soon she has no job and no references. She makes her way to Paris where she meets a battered prostitute and, with her father’s money, has an idea for a highclass brothel with her as the madam. It seems so effortless and that is much of the charm of Danielle Steel’s work. No matter what scandal and misfortune affects her characters they will rise above it and create a new triumph. There is nothing wrong with feel-good fiction and this feels just right.

Steer the right course with driving phrases Language notes THE French are very keen drivers, even if some say they are less keen on using their indicators. Just like in English, their language reflects this passion for petrol in its idioms and everyday phrases. Here are a few to help you go the extra mile (faire le petit éffort supplémentaire) whilst conversing with a native. Many people move to France to take things a little easier in life. The phrase ‘life in the slow lane’ is translated into French as la vie au ralenti. And to live the life you want, you really need to be in the driving seat – diriger les opérations. A ‘driving force’ behind a project can either be a person – une force directrice – or a more abstract force, un moteur. A product’s success could be described as dicté(e) par le marché (market-driven), while a tough business person would be

If someone is being a backseat driver, call them a mouche du coche

dur en affaires (they drive a hard bargain). Meanwhile, to drive blind in a metaphorical sense is ‘conduire sans visibilité’. If someone is annoying you – driving you ‘up the wall’ or ‘round the bend’ – you can say: ‘Tu me rends folle’, (literally, ‘you are making me crazy). Similarly, to be driven to despair is ‘être réduit au désespoir’. Increasingly visible in France are shops and restaurants with a ‘drive-through’ service. While ‘au volant’ or ‘at the wheel’ is the official translation, this is often reduced simply to ‘drive’ for places such as burger chains (ie. McDrive) and supermarkets (Casino Drive). Finally, if someone is being a dreaded backseat driver, you can call them a mouche du coche. This phrase comes from a 1678 Jean De La Fontaine fable called The Coach and the Fly in which a fly is convinced that his constant buzzing in the ear of a horse helped the poor nag to drag a coach to the top of a hill.

Shopping/Did you know? 21

September 2018 I French Living


New products, designs and ideas from around France

Sounds beautiful TECHNOLOGY firm Aëdle, based in Montparnasse, Paris, was founded in 2011 – three years after its founder Baptiste hatched a ‘sound’ plan while in Tokyo, Japan. Now a leading innovator in high-end headphones, its stylish products are an audiophile’s dream. The on-ear and in-ear ranges blend timeless aesthetics – hand-stitched lambskin leather from the South of France contrasts elegantly with aluminium – with superb sound precision (and detachable wires). The VK-2, left, is the latest on-ear model and costs €390 while the in-ear OD-S range (inset) costs €360. The VK-X wireless Valkyrie model is also available, alongside a range of equally cool accessories such as travel pouches and credit card holders made using origami techniques. www.aedle.net

A cool new way to stay warm

TO MARK its 65th anniversary, the catalogue and retail clothing company Damart has enlisted six creative thinkers to give its 100% France-made thermal underwear a cooler, all-ages appeal. Fashion commentator Mademoiselle Agnès has made videos for social media with the aim of reaching a younger audience for what has traditionally been an older person’s market. And on the design side, lingerie designer Sophie Malagola has crafted a new line and beauty blogger Lili Barbery-Coulon a yoga range, both using Damart’s trademark insulating fabric, Thermolactyl. The limited edition French Collection range is available in selected Damart stores around the country and online, from €14.99. www.damart.fr

Raison to be cheerful

As we pass from sultry summer soirées to cooler autumn evenings, a glass of Breton cider suddenly looks like the perfect apéro drink. The creation of cider is called sistronomie (from the Breton word sistr, meaning cider). The family firm Loïc Raison has been crafting cider since 1923 in Domagné, and today has its own sidrologue called William Wyme, who has created a two new tipples – cidre rubis (dark fruit on the nose, blackberry and strawberry notes in the mouth) and cidre de dégustation which pairs superbly with white meat and seafood. www.loicraison.fr

Flatpacked and French IF YOU are seeking an affordable, easy-to-assemble dining or coffee table, bookcase or bathroom cabinet and want to buy local, why not give your local IKEA a swerve and instead buy some stylish, French-made flatpack furniture? Symbiosis in Annecy, a member of l’Ameublement français, has been manufacturing furniture kits for over 55 years and is now being distributed through sites such as Amazon and CDiscount, which means a better price for the buyer (and usually free delivery). Pictured left is an Aero oak and melamine bookcase (186.5cm high), costing from €190.99, while the Aero coffee table with oak finish costs €116.60 (at time of going to press, from www.amazon.fr). www.symbiosis.paris

Fernandel, right, playing a rookie sailor in the 1934 film Les Bleus de la Marine

Striped shirts in French navy were obligatory Did you know?


he blue and white striped top is the emblematic French article of clothing along with black berets. It has been worn by the national football team, has a long history in the fashion world and is undeniably part of the French look. Coco Chanel wore one in a famous photo in 1913, seen as daring because up to then such an article of clothing had only been worn by men, and Jean Paul Gaultier included the style in his Toy Boy collection in 1983, where it also appears on his torso shaped Male perfume bottles. In 2012, Economic Recovery Minister at the time, Arnaud Montebourg was on the front cover of the Le Parisien magazine wearing one made by Brittany based Armor Lux to defend Made in France products. It led to a 60% increase in sales, virtually overnight. Its origins are in the French navy, where it became part of the obligatory uniform for sailors in 1858. Before that, they were able to go to sea in their own clothes – only officers had to wear a uniform. The new regulations stated the top had to have 21 white 20mm wide stripes, and 20 or 21 indigo blue 10mm stripes on the back and front. There had to be 15 white stripes and 14 or 15 blue stripes on the sleeves. The sleeves had to be three-quarters in length so as not to show below the

jacket and it had to be long enough to be tucked into the trousers, and as the website for the Ministry of Defence states in its history of this part of the navy uniform, it had to be “long enough (up to the thigh) to cover and protect the intimate parts of the sailor, who at that time, did not wear any under clothes.” There were no buttons and no seams, other than on the sleeves so that the sailor could move easily without risk of being caught up in ropes. It became known as a marinière from the word marin for sailor. There are three theories to explain the choice of stripes. They are outlined in a book written by a French historian, Michel Pastoureau, called The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric. Firstly, he writes that in the Middle Ages stripes were traditionally associated with the devil and for centuries they were worn by people in the lower levels of society; slaves, maids, and convicts, and so would have been thought as appropriate for sailors who were the lowest grade in the Navy. He also concedes they might have been chosen so sailors would be more easily visible if they fell in the sea and the third reason might have been because the looms used to create the material were set up to produce striped material. In his analysis of the use of stripes, he goes on to explain that later on stripes became associated with freedom, youth, pleasure and humour and that the two systems of values continue to co-exist. Wearing a marinière has thus, over the years, become associated with street fashion, fun and French chic.

22 History: Mata Hari

French Living I September 2018

A life of light and shadow: the spy who danced with destiny Dutch-born dancer and provocatrice Mata Hari caused scandal in Paris with her so-called spying activity during the First Word War. Samantha David asks which side she was really on and what became of her


epending on your point of view, Mata Hari was either a victim of circumstance, a common prostitute, or a scheming femme fatale who went too far – but these days almost no-one believes she was any kind of spy. Born in Holland in 1876, Margaretha Geertruida ‘Margreet’ Zelle initially enjoyed a comfortable, privileged childhood. But when she was 13, disaster struck: her father went bankrupt, her parents divorced and shortly afterwards, her mother died. Two years later, her father remarried and she was packed off to live with her godfather and then subsequently with an uncle in The Hague. By 18, she was so eager for a fresh start that she answered a newspaper advert placed by a Dutch army Captain, Rudolf MacLeod, who wanted a wife to join him in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They moved to Java in 1897 and had two children, Norman-John, and Louise Jeanne, but MacLeod, 20 years older than his wife, was a violent alcoholic who beat her and openly kept a mistress. Perhaps another woman would have stuck it out, but Margreet did not. She left him, moved in with another Dutch officer, and joined a local dance company using the stage name Mata Hari. She briefly reunited with her husband but nothing changed and in 1899, her two year-old son died. Their marriage in shreds, the couple moved back to Holland where they officially separated in 1902. Margreet was awarded custody of her daughter, but MacLeod never paid the child maintenance ordered by the court and eventually refused to return the girl after an access visit. What was Margreet to do? She had no family, no money, no qualifications, no way of earning a living. She knew she would not recover her daughter from her vengeful husband, and that he would never give her a penny in maintenance. In 1903, she moved to Paris. “That’s what I thought all divorced women did,” she said later. There, she worked variously as an artist’s model and a circus rider. She also coloured up her background to get work as an exotic dancer, telling people she was a Javanese princess. She’d never had a dancing lesson in her life, but she was creative and convincing. She was also completely uninhibited when it came to taking lovers, undressing in public, inventing raunchy dance moves, and posing for semi-nude photographs. She plunged into her fantasy of being an exotic dancer and made everyone around her believe it too. By 1905, she was beginning to make a name for

herself with a provocative striptease act, which culminated in her posing in just a sheer body stocking and jewelled bra. It was shocking, titillating and incredibly fashionable. Suddenly she was all the rage, invited to the parties of the rich and famous, feted and courted all over Europe. But by 1910 rivals had sprung up and people began to say she wasn’t much of a dancer after all. Questions were asked about her background and by 1912 she had also begun to put on weight. War broke out, tastes changed and by 1915 she had given up dancing and become an expensive prostitute, conducting profitable liaisons with a series of high-ranking military officers, politicians and other powerful men. She bragged that she enjoyed sleeping with lots of different nationalities of men, so she could compare their performances. In her own mind she was a glamorous courtesan or a free-spirited bohemian, but as the First World War gripped Europe, she began to be seen as something else. Less of an artist, more of a promiscuous, indiscreet nuisance. She had slept with top military brass from nearly every country in Western Europe. Who knows what she might say? And to whom? She was almost literally a loose canon; as a Dutch national, she was able to travel during the war (Holland stayed neutral) and moved freely between France and the Netherlands, travelling via Spain and the UK to avoid the battlefields. Wherever she went she made headlines, and it was impossible to predict what lies she might invent next. She began an intense relationship with a Russian pilot, Captain Vadim Maslov, who was serving with the French, and along with her travelling, this also made her an object of suspicion. Various secret services eyed her up as a potential source of information. In 1916, Maslov’s plane was shot down and he was blinded in both eyes. Desperate to visit him in hospital, Mata Hari applied for permission to go to the front, and was told by the French authorities that she would only get it if she agreed to spy on Germany. They wanted her to seduce the Crown Prince Wilhelm, the eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm, and would pay her a million French francs to do it. She agreed, but although she never met the Crown Prince she did meet other German officers who asked her to spy on the French, again for a generous sum of money, and again it appears that she agreed. “It’s difficult to know what she was thinking,” says Mary Craig, the author of A Tangled Web, a biography of Mata Hari. “She might have found the idea of

Above: Mata Hari dancing at the Musée Guimet in Paris in 1905; Inset: a provocative stage costume, around 1906

Was she spying for Germany? France? Britain? I think she was used and abused by all of them Mary Craig, author of A Tangled Web

spying glamorous; earning a lot of money, mixing with powerful people, pretending to be involved in high-level politics. Or perhaps she just thought she could take the money and not do anything much in return. Researching her life, I was never sure. Was she spying for Germany? France? Britain? But in fact I think she was used and abused by them all.” Before the First World War, says Mary Craig, Mata Hari had been titillating and amusing. But once the war started the mood changed and she was so divorced from reality that she did not notice the change in attitudes. “During times of war, men take themselves more seriously, tolerate female independence less easily, but she had no clue that men might gang up against her.” It is difficult to imagine what either side thought Mata Hari might know or be able to discover. She was not a politician, and had no knowledge of tactics or military secrets. All she could pass on – in either direction – was gossip about people’s sex lives. But intelligence services at that time

Local history 23

September 2018 I French Living

Pixabay; CRT Normandie/S Boulanger

Photos: Axel Schneider/Public domain

How an abbey in the sea became a tourism giant Mont St Michel has always attracted visitors, from pilgrims to today’s tourists. Jane Hanks traces its buildings’ evolution Secret history of buildings


were disorganised and amateur and perhaps she led people to believe she knew more than she did. In 1917, the Germans let the French know that Mata Hari had been taking money from both sides and the French authorities arrested her in Paris. The war was going badly at that time, there had been mutinies and strikes in the French army, and the authorities badly needed someone to blame, someone who could be eliminated along with all the French troubles. Mata Hari was an obvious candidate. “She didn’t see it coming at all,” says Mary Craig. “She had almost started to believe her own lies and fantasies and think that she could marry her young Russian nobleman. Even when she was arrested and questioned, she still thought she was going home. She had no idea she was going to jail. She was incredibly naive.” Mata Hari’s trial took place in July 1917; she was accused of causing the deaths of 50,000 French soldiers as a result of her espionage activities. As evidence the authorities produced what they said

was invisible ink, found in her make-up kit. Her lies about being Javanese were uncovered, and of course everyone knew she was promiscuous. Her protestations of innocence were to no avail. Her defence lawyer was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses either for the prosecution or the defence, and she was sentenced to death. “They had to shoot her, once they’d ‘caught her’ because she was so unpredictable. Even in prison, she had been attempting to write an autobiography,” says Mary Craig. “What on earth was in it? It’s no surprise that those papers disappeared!” She was executed by a firing squad in October 1917. She refused a blindfold, looking her executioners in the eye as she was shot. She was just 41. As a gruesome footnote, her body was donated to medical science. Her severed head was embalmed and kept in the Museum of Anatomy in Paris until it was lost in around 1954, and her other remains have never been accounted for either.

Above: A 1910 portrait of Mata Hari in bejewelled costume from a magazine, 1910; Inset: Mata Hari’s Dutch passport

ont-Saint-Michel, also called the Wonder of the Western World, was the 7th most visited tourist site in France in 2017, with 2¼ million people travelling to the Normandy village. Its popularity is not a new phenomenon as it was one of the four most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe for nearly 1,000 years, alongside Rome, Santiago de Compostela and Jerusalem. Since the 1990s the association Les Chemins du Mont-Saint-Michel has been researching the ancient routes to the village, which stretch from Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain and Germany and include a dense network in Normandy. They are called the “paths to paradise”, and there are now people walking those routes, just as there are on the Camino de Santiago. The village’s story began in 708 when Aubert, the bishop of the nearby hilltop town of Avranches claimed the Archangel Michael, told him he must build a church on the top of the island, just out to sea. In 966, Benedictine monks settled there and very quickly it became a major place of pilgrimage as well as a cultural centre. It was given the nickname the “City of Books”, because so many manuscripts were written and stored there. Among the pilgrims there were several Kings of France and England. The building of the Abbey continued over the centuries meaning there is a diversity of architectural styles. From the Middle Ages onwards, a village grew up on the south-east side of the rock and has always been there to cater for and do business with the thousands of visitors. Archaeologists from the Institut

National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives have found evidence to show that it has changed several times over the centuries. They have found what they think were the city walls built in 1256 and since destroyed, and during these studies they unexpectedly came upon the remains of an early cemetery next to the church. The tombs and the skeletons they found have revealed valuable information about the style of burial and the people who lived there before the 13th century. One of their most important finds has been a number of moulds which show there was a workshop near to the church between the 14th and 15th centuries which produced badges for pilgrims. In the 14th century powerful fortifications were built to resist attacks by the English army during the Hundred Years War and were strong enough to resist a 30-year-long siege. People have not always gone there willingly. After the Revolution, when Church buildings were declared “national property”, the monks were driven away and in 1793 it was turned into a prison for non-reforming priests. In 1811 an Imperial decree transformed the Abbey into a reform prison for common law prisoners and political prisoners. The continued use of the building, even as a prison, meant that the monument was not destroyed but it was in a severe state of dilapidation when the prison was closed in 1863. In 1874 it was classified as a historical monument, and the long restoration task began. In 1878 a causeway was constructed to make access easier, followed by a tramway as the numbers of visitors began to grow. Benedictine monks returned to the Abbey in 1969, and these were replaced in 2001 by the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem, who continue to live there. In 1979 it was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

24 The big picture

Tee time for Scottish pioneers in Pau With Ryder Cup fever hitting France this month, Samantha David explores the country’s golfing roots... and the current state of play


he golf course in Pau is proud to be the oldest-established in continental Europe. Golf was not invented in France, however; it might even have its distant origins in Holland. People have been playing various games with balls and sticks since the dawn of time. But modern 18-hole golf is generally agreed to have developed in Scotland during the Middle Ages. Scottish records show that golf was prohibited in 1457 as being a distraction from archery, and in 1592 Edinburgh council declared it should not be played on the Sabbath. The Old Links golf course in Musselburgh is accepted as being the oldest golf course in the world, the story going that Mary Queen of Scots played there in 1567. So it is no surprise that when two Scottish officers joined Wellington’s army fighting the French in Portugal and Spain, they took their golf clubs along. In February 1814 their regiment was quartered in Billère near Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and having time on their hands, they looked for a place to practice their swings. The area was stunningly beautiful and so well-drained that it wasn’t even muddy in the winter. After some friendly negotiations with the local landowners, they established a rudimentary golf course where they could play their favourite sport. Of course, they soon moved on, and the golf course was abandoned. But 20 years later they came back with their friends to revisit old haunts. Their passions were riding, hunting, mountaineering and, as always, golf. All of these could, of course, be enjoyed in the UK, but the climate in Pau was so much better, so why not play in Pau? Increasing numbers of people started visiting the area from the UK, and in 1856, a permanent golf club was established. At that time, the club catered exclusively to wealthy, leisured, sporting expatriates

with money to burn on luxuries including a stagecoach service called “The Rocket” – which boasted that it could complete the journey in under eight hours from the golf club in Pau to the golf club in Biarritz (which opened in 1888). This was reflected in the magnificent Victorian interior of the clubhouse, featuring dark polished panelling and bow windows. After the First World War, however, membership dropped. Many of the expats in the area had gone back to the UK, the local French population were not that keen on golf and the landowners were not inclined to extend the lease. It looked like the club would not survive. But finally in 1960, a new lease was signed and the club received a grant to restore the golf course and the clubhouse, retaining all its original character and charm. Electricity was installed, along with central heating and the entire place was refurbished. As a result, membership surged from just 60 to 350 and the future of the club was assured. Today the club has around 670 members, most of whom are local French people, a bar/restaurant which is open to the public, and a pro-shop as well as the clubhouse, which is a veritable museum of the club’s history. “We want golf to be seen as a real sport, open to everybody, not just a privileged elite,” says the club’s president Jean-Loup Lacombe. “September 23 is our Journée Nelson Paillou* when we invite the public to visit our club and we offer beginners a taste of the game. We’ll be hosting a group of golf historians, too.” On September 19 they will also be holding a competition using 19th century gold clubs. “The public are invited to spectate; it is a very different game! We won’t be using 19th century golf balls because no-one makes them any more, and the originals are very fragile and rare. We wouldn’t want to lose or damage them.” He says golf is a great game for children and teenagers because it teaches respect

Then and now: the Scots players’ view of the Pyrenees in the long- distance has changed little since the 19th century at Pau; Inset: the clubhouse, restored in 1960

for your surroundings and for other people. “You have to repair the holes you make in the green, for other players, for example. You must leave no traces.” The main benefits, however, are psychological. “Golf is primarily a game against yourself, it teaches humility and perseverance. It reveals your true personality, when you play golf with someone the masks fall away, and people’s true characters are revealed. I love the book

by Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Golf, it really explains these aspects of the game. Acquiring the physical techniques is reasonably straight forward, but the rest is all played in your head.” Membership of Pau golf club starts at €1,650 per year, and green-fees start at €56 a day. *Nelson Paillou was the president of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee from 1982-1993

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Photos: F. Fourcade

French Living I September 2018

September 2018

ME AND MY OPERATION: Being fitted with a pacemaker

My head was spinning and I felt it was ‘not a bad way to go’ The inside story of readers who have had operations in France – and how they found the health service, by Gillian Harvey FORMER engineer John Langley, 86, moved to central France in 2014 with his daughter Dawn and her family. He was in good health and living in the town of Descartes, near Tours in Indre-et-Loire, until he experienced a dizzy spell in December 2016 and his daughter had to call in the paramedics. Initial symptoms Other than struggling to eat as much as I used to, I had been feeling completely normal. However, on New Year’s Eve morning, I got up as usual, had some breakfast and went to sit down. Suddenly my head just started spinning. I remember thinking “this is it,” but at the same time I was thinking “this isn’t a bad way to go.” However, the dizziness only lasted for a minute or so. Ten minutes later my daughter, who lives next door, came round. I told her that I was feeling unwell and she tried to call the doctor. However, as it was the holiday period, she could not get through. Instead she called the emergency services. When the paramedics arrived, they checked my heart rate and it was very low – just 36 beats per minute, so I was taken to my local hospital in Châtellerault. At the hospital When we arrived at the hospital, they performed a series of tests, after which they discovered that in addition to my slow heart rate, my heart was also missing a beat every now and again. I was admitted to the hospital for monitoring and potential further treatment. The following morning, I was sitting in my bed eating breakfast when I actually felt my heart stop and start again within a few seconds. Doctors rushed into my room – they had been monitoring me so knew what was happening. About 15 minutes later, a doctor came and in and told me I was to have a pacemaker fitted that afternoon. I was transported to the hospital at


Antonin Trimaille, Resident in Cardiology in the University Hospital of Strasbourg, France

What does a pacemaker do? Pacemakers help to stimulate the heart by sending an electrical impulse which causes the heart muscle to contract. Why might a surgeon/doctor decide to fit a pacemaker? Pacemakers are often used to treat problems with the electrical system within the heart; for example, when the heart beats too slowly or has an abnormal rhythm. How long does an operation to fit a pacemaker take? Pacemakers are usually inserted under the skin on the left side of the chest. A wire is then guided through a blood

vessel to the heart. The implantation of a pacemaker takes about one hour. Is the operation usually under local anaesthetic? As a general rule, the implantation of a pacemaker is done under simple local anaesthesia and does not require general anaesthesia. Potential problems After a pacemaker has been fitted some patients experience cardiac rhythm disorders specifically related to the pacemaker. In these situations, doctors may decide to adjust the pacemaker, or prescribe certain medications. This intervention will resolve the problem in the majority of cases.

NEXT MONTH: Bladder polyp removal time I just did what I was told and took it all in my stride. In all, the whole operation only took about an hour.

John Langley needed a pacemaker Poitiers where there was a specialist heart unit. The operation The operation itself was fairly straightforward. To my surprise, they performed it under local rather than general anaesthetic. I could not feel any pain, but I could feel them pushing the device in. Looking back, I’m surprised that I managed the procedure so well – but at the

Aftercare I was kept in Poitiers overnight, and afterwards transported back to my local hospital in Châtellerault where I stayed for a couple of days whilst I was being monitored. Then I was discharged. A nurse came to visit me every day for a couple of months after the procedure, both to check my heart-rate and the wound, and also to help me monitor my diabetes, which had also been diagnosed whilst I was in hospital. Unfortunately, I had a few further problems with my heart. It was discovered that my heart was beating too fast, and had to be corrected. The doctors tried atrial defibrillation (electric shock to the heart) but this did not work, so in the end they had to burn some of my heart tissue with a catheter (cardiac catheterisation). Thankfully this worked, and – while I am struggling with back pain at present – my heart is now functioning normally. I was impressed throughout with the way in which I was treated; the standard of care here is excellent.


France is trailing European financial markets This is false WITH its stock market firmly stuck in third place behind London and Frankfurt, Paris can seem out of place among leading financial centres – but its system core, its banks, rank higher than you might expect. S&P Global Market Intelligence listed the world’s biggest banks by assets in 2017 and three Euro­pean banks are in the top 10. With assets of $2.5trillion HSBC is seventh but is based in London and owned

In this column we look at the ‘truths’ everyone ‘knows’ about France by a Hong Kong firm. France’s BNP Paribas is eighth, with assets of $2.36tn, and Crédit Agricole is 10th with $2.12tn. The next European bank is Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG with assets of $1.7tn, in 16th. Some banks are judged to be ‘systemic’ and so big and international that if they fail the global economic system will

Practical 21


tremble. These top 30 banks must carry larger cash cushions to stave off danger. BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale are listed while Groupe BPCE, regularly pops in and out of the list. The French banks’ size may be why, when looking at postBrexit plans, many foreign banks opted to go elsewhere to avoid being dominated, with Frankfurt and Dublin seeing more interest so far than Paris. Paris Europlace expects 3,500 jobs to be created or trans-

ferred to Paris due to Brexit, leading to between 10,000 and 30,000 indirect new jobs. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has a new office in Paris for 1,000 staff with one of the City’s top profile women, Sanaz Zaimi, its director of fixed income, currencies and commodities, as country head. As Middle Eastern banks opt for Paris for new head offices the European Banking Auth­ ority warned banks in London to speed up plans to relocate if they wanted to work in Europe.

Give specs second sight on the designer, with Prada, for example selling from €25-€150. Many opticians will take old pairs and many of these are passed on to Lunettes sans Frontières in Haut-Rhin, Alsace, or Médico Lions Clubs de France in Le Havre, SeineMaritime. Others, such as the Krys group, have their own recycling operations with Krys recycling 160,000 pairs in 2017.

EVEN after they have been replaced by new models with new lenses, old pairs of spectacles can still have a life – and may even earn some money, either for yourself or charity. Check first with your optician if the old pair will take the new lenses, giving a spare pair, but if you want to clear space, you can resell on a site such as mybinocle.com. Prices depend

Cut-price power in-store

SUPERMARKET giant E.Leclerc will this autumn start offering to supply electricity to customers at prices that will be 16% below the regulated price for energy. In theory, that could save €200 a year for many households... but Leclerc will offer the savings as money-off vouchers for its stores. Regulated tariffs offered by historic energy supplier EDF are still used by 26.5million households but other ‘market price’ suppliers undercut costs significantly without the need to shop at Leclerc.


Cut the costs of your cut COSTS for haircuts and styling can mount but there are several options to keep the price down. One solution is to become a model at one of France’s many hairdressing schools, and it is worthwhile calling your local académie or école de coiffure to see if they offer this service. Prices and ways to book vary. Some ask you to detail the cut you want so they can fit you in at times when students work on that style, and some require a minimum length they can cut off. Jean Louis David welcomes models to its schools at Lyon, Marseille, Rennes and Paris. In Lyon, appointments are usually booked a fortnight ahead. They like to be able to cut 3-4 cm and charge €7 for a cut and €8 for other services. Franck Provost has schools in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Rennes and Marseilles. Paris asks people to be assessed first then set a time for a session. It also prefers to cut 3 cm. Allow

Photo: xenostral CC0

The Connexion

three hours. Costs are €9 for men, €11 for a woman’s cut and €18 for other treatments. Mont­pellier Perform Acad­ émie is open weekdays and its website lists prices of €15 a cut and €29 for a colour. Working with salons to fill slots, leciseau.fr has half-price cuts or treatments. Book and pay online for salons in Paris, Bordeaux, Mont­pellier, SaintEtienne and Toulouse. Each June L’Oréal has its Nuit de la Coiffure with free cuts and treatments in 2,500 salons across France. Check its site lorealprofessionnel.fr

€500 culture aid for teens ENCOURAGING the discovery and diversifications of cultural activities is the aim of the Pass Culture smartphone app that will be launched for 18-year-olds in the first quarter of 2019. It will offer €500 worth of cultural activities such as free concert tickets, books, film and theatre performances or digital magazines as well as music, dance, art lessons and even archaeology holidays. Tested in four departments and with further tests in another this autumn to improve the geolocalisation function, it will not allow large-scale spending on Spotify or Netflix etc. The €500million project is funded 80% by culture businesses and 20% by the state.

Insurance for school days AS children head to school for the rentrée parents will be asked about assurance scolaire and proof of cover, an attestation d’assurance scolaire. Cover is not needed for educational activities but it is for ‘optional’ activities such as trips and eating in the cantine. In practice, it makes life easier at all levels. Household multi-risk insurance will usually have an element of cover for

damage your child causes but extra is needed for other cases; if your child is hurt and there is no blame, a schoolbag is lost or stolen, or even bullying. Recently, insurers such as Macif have started to include assurance scolaire in household policies and, seeing a market of 13million pupils, Carrefour Banque offers it at €7.50. School parent associations should be able to advise.


Use these pages to find English-speaking tradespeople and firms across France. For your security, we check that all French businesses listed in this section are registered. The listings are arranged geographically by the 5 landline telephone zones of France. P23 All of France All Tel Codes

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The Connexion September 2018



Directory 23


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. Christine Haworth-Staines UK Chartered Psychologist

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24 Directory



The Connexion September 2018


Houses on Internet : A Global Property Network Houses on Internet – Global Property Services (hereafter referred to as “HOI-GPS”) is the internet/marketing company that helps people sell their French property to buyers worldwide. Richard Kroon, founder and director of the company: “The last couple of months we have seen a huge increase in viewings and sales. Most of the buyers don’t live in France, which is why our worldwide advertising is so important. Our marketing efforts are definitely paying off and guarantee a worldwide exposure of your property to buyers wherever they live.” Last year HOI-GPS has sold to people from 11 different countries, like France, Australia, Belgium, Holland, United Kingdom,

Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Denmark. The actual work all starts with the presentation of a property. If that’s not good enough, all other marketing efforts are useless. Our photographers usually take 150 to 200 photos of a house and in addition copy any good (summer) photos our clients may have themselves. About 50 to 60 of those photos are selected, enhanced and presented on the dedicated website we make for each property in English, French and Dutch. The texts don’t just describe the house, garden and outbuildings, but information about shopping, schools, airports and leisure is given too. When the website for the house is online, we first connect it to our main HOI-GPS websites which attract over 135,000 visitors from 40+ countries each month. Most of these people find us through Google and additional Google advertising. To reach an even larger audience, a

summary of the presentation of the house is also placed on several other leading property websites. These adverts are also connected to the dedicated website of the house, making it all one big global property network. As the property market has become a global one, a prospective buyer can be at the other end of the world while the owner is in bed sleeping. With our approach, the buyer does not have to wait and can see the entire property whenever he wants, at the moment he is interested in it. For more information on HOI-GPS or to market your property through them, visit their website. Houses on Internet – Global Property Services 0031 (0)6 41 20 73 69 www.housesoninternet.com

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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

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The Connexion September 2018


Working as a live-in Carer in the UK

For over 50 years, Consultus has been providing live-in carers who deliver exceptional care for our clients, in the comfort of their cherished home. “Carers literally change lives” says Sara Taylor, Head of Recruitment for Consultus. “I have experienced many positive changes within the care recruitment industry. The remarkable work live-in carers do on a daily basis is being identified, and I am proud to be part of this. We receive many applications from a wide range of candidates, whose experience and life skills are the foundations for becoming great care professionals. I have met applicants whose background has been in healthcare,


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teaching, hospitality or in many cases delivering relationship-led care for a friend or family member. We welcome applicants who are ready to start a new career in care or wish to continue developing their skills”. Working as a live-in carer is an excellent way to earn an income when visiting friends or family in the UK. Carers will be provided with free accommodation and board while working and they will receive some of the best training in the industry by our awardwinning Consultus Care Training Centre. All courses are run by experienced, trainers and will help carers feel fully prepared for the journey ahead of them.




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Directory 25

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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 September 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

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The Connexion September 2018




Directory 27

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 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

Useful telephone numbers


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 lifethreatening 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

Community events 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. Have you or your family been touched by cancer? Cancer Support France exists to help English speaking people in France. Join their drop-in session on September 4 at 14.00 at La Ligue Contre le Cancer, 19 rue Maréchal Leclerc, Saint-Lô (Manche in

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 u Bordeaux consulate: 05 57 22 21 10 u Marseille consulate: 04 91 15 72 10 u UK 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 u BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT NETWORK: for those grieving for a loved one and needing to talk Tel: 04 94 84 64 89 / 06 32 35 31 24 or email info@bsnvar.org (7:00 - 23:00) u THE BRITISH CHARITABLE FUND: provides financial help to British residents in France. Tel: 01 47 59 07 69 (10:00 - 17:00) britishcharitablefund@orange.fr u Alzheimer: English help group at France Alzheimer: 0800 97 20 97 www.francealzheimer.org OTHER INFO u AFIF (funerals info): 01 45 44 90 03 u Speaking clock: 3669 u Weather: 08 92 68 02 + dept u Last incoming call: 3131, then ‘5’ if you wish to connect u MasterCard Loss/Theft of card Calling from France: 09 69 39 92 91 / Calling from Abroad: +33 96 93 99 291 u Loss/Theft of chequebook Calling from France: 08 92 68 32 08 / Calling from Abroad: +33 89 26 83 208

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

Normandy) to find out what help they can offer, to have a cup of tea or a piece of cake, or to swap some books or DVDs. Also in Manche, on September 27 at midday, go along to the Great Cancer Support France Beetle Drive and ploughman’s lunch in Les Unelles, 11 rue Saint Maur, Coutances. A copious ploughman’s lunch will be served, followed by trifle. Then it’s eyes down for a traditional Beetle Drive, with a prize for the winning team. All just for €10. For further details of both events, contact Peter Dickie on 02 33 46 50 28, or email nord@cancersupportfrance.org. If you would like a confidential discussion, a trained volunteer will be available. Website: https://cancersupportfrance.org Readers are invited to join the congregation of St John the Evangelist Church, 117 avenue Paul Doumer, 83700, in St Raphaël (Var) on September 14 at 16.00 to commemorate the end of First World War. The church will also host the RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) France

Singing Day on September 22. Starting at 09.30, you will prepare music for Evensong under the direction of Martin van Bleek, conductor of the European Cathedral Singers, and will then sing this service at 16.30. Contact for details and advice about travel and hotels: Shirley Rowson on 04 94 50 38 46; email: rscmfrance@gmail.com. Also see their website rscmfrance.org for a booking form and other information. Calling all bookworms! The next Great Phoenix Book Fair will be held on September 22 in the Salle Municipale at Campsegret 24140 (on the RN21 between Bergerac and Périgueux, Dordogne). As usual there will be over 20,000 books for sale, sorted into category, alphabet or genre, and from only one euro. The catering team will be offering the usual wonderful array of goodies to eat there or take away. As well as books there will be DVDs, CDs and bric à brac for sale. And new for 2018, there will be a plant stall! Doors will open at 09.30 (for people with limited mobility

from 08.30) and they will close at 15.00. Good quality books, CDs and DVDs can be donated on the day. https://phoenixasso.com/phoenix-book-fair 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 The Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) will host the first event in its series of PICT Faculty Lectures: Søren Kierkegaard and French Philosophy on September 26 at

20.00. The talk will give an introduction to Søren Kierkegaard, a 19th century Danish philosopher who inspired several generations of philosophers, including French intellectuals such as Albert Camus, JeanPaul Sartre and Jacques Derrida. The lecture will be delivered by PICT core faculty member Evrim Emir-Sayers and hosted by the Fondation Danoise. The event is free and open to the public. The PICT is a non-profit organization founded in 2018 and based in Paris. Its main aim is to offer university-quality courses in the humanities and social sciences to participants outside the university. https://parisinstitute.org/pict-facultylectures-i/ All are welcome to Sunday mass, in English, at The Irish Chaplaincy, located at the beautifully restored Irish College, now the Centre Culturel Irlandais (5 Rue des Irlandais in the 5th arrondissement in Paris). Starts at 11.30, tea and coffee served. www.irishchaplaincyparis.fr

28 Directory



The Connexion September 2018


Tips to improve the chances of selling your property The summer holidays are over – so it is time to step up the action if you still want to sell your French property.

Sue Adams, founder of French Properties Direct looks at simple steps you can take to give your house or apartment the best chance of finding a buyer in 2018. First, she suggests, if you have had some viewings already, review the feedback the buyers gave after their visit. If you got no feedback, then ask. It is invaluable. Next go round your property as though you were a buyer looking at it for the first time. Make a note of what might put you off

and how you can improve it cost effectively. If you can, get a friend or family member to do this for you – they will look at your house with fresh eyes and could provide some useful insights. Then – take new photographs, from a different angle if possible, and finally, in the light of all of the above, take a cold look at the price. Good photographs and the correct price are essential if you are to get a potential buyer to make that initial enquiry. Finally, make sure your house is being professionally marketed as widely as possible. If you don’t tell people your house is for sale, they will never find out. French Properties Direct markets property which is for sale, or to rent, on behalf of the owner. They charge no commission on sale or rental and for a small fixed fee will produce a brochure and advertise your property on top ranking internet property portals – including their

own. They can also publicise your property on social and printed media, help with photo editing and copy writing, answer any questions you might have and provide current market evaluations. Any enquiries are screened and forwarded to you to handle, saving you a hefty estate agency commission. Sue concludes, “we are practising what we preach here and have spent the summer looking at our own web site with new eyes, replacing photographs and refreshing what we offer. Vendors and buyers tell us they like the site and the services we provide, so nothing has changed dramatically. But we have added new features and tweaked the appearance, which should help us to promote our vendors’ and landlords’ properties even more effectively – and encourage buyers and renters to contact us first when they are looking for a base in France.”

To find out more speak to Sue on +33 (0)6 71 61 09 26 Or e-mail her at sue@frenchpropertiesdirect.com www.frenchpropertiesdirect.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

The language is a castle for exploring, not for attacking !! “And one-to-one courses are an excellent method to try.” So says Claire Campbell, a professional teacher with an Oxford degree and years of experience in language teaching. The castle idea is suggested by the fortress of Quéribus, which looks down on the picturesque village of Cucugnan, where she welcomes students of all ages to take language courses of a week or two, for one person or two, as required. Leafing through her Visitors Book gives an excellent impression of what people have gained from her courses. The latest page includes the following: “It was with great trepidation that I e-mailed Claire re booking this course. I had tried so many other methods. In a class situation I had been reluctant to speak out and consequently so much passed over my head. “Claire was inspirational. She seemed to sense my level of competence and stretched me while at the same time she put me at my

ease and gave me space to make mistakes without judgment or embarrassment, and all the while making it fun. Claire’s enthusiasm and knowledge is catching, so I have been inspired to continue working at home through the stories and the exercises suggested by her . “I loved my little apartment on the top floor and made it my home. Cucugnan is a delight, even in winter, and my hike up to Quéribus was brilliant. “I am sure my French has improved during this week. Rules which were foggy now

become clearer and I feel so much more confident. It has been a wonderful enlivening experience.” Other reviews, to be found on Tripadvisor or on her own website, also mention increasing confidence. According to Claire, confidence is the key. So many people have had discouraging experiences, either at school or at classes in France. Too many learners have come away convinced that French is too difficult, and that they are incompetent . “Well, it isn’t and they aren’t !!!” “If the language is a castle, then the long walk up should be enjoyable, with new vistas opening up as you go, and a wonderful view from the top,” she says. The little apartment referred to is the accommodation included in the course-price. It has a kitchen , but the village also has three restaurants, a famous bakery, and excellent local wineries. Altogether, a week with Claire is a pleasant holiday as well as language course.

Claire Campbell runs French language courses in scenic Cucugnan www.cours-a-cucugnan.com

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

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

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

The Connexion September 2018


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.


Directory 29


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

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”. “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


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The Connexion

September 2018


Craft fair is still open to welcome newcomers

French lawn bowls club offers coaching for newbies

Lawn bowls is an intrinsically British game, not normally played in France, but the country’s first club was set up in 2006. Members play outdoors from May to September on a specially-built, sixrink green at The Royal Oak pub at Mareuil-sur-Belle and from October to April they play the indoor short mat game at the Salle des Fêtes at Saint-Martial-de-Valette.

Périgord Lawn Bowls Club has 35 members and is very active, organising competitions during the outdoor season at the Royal Oak, with different categories including singles, pairs, teams, novices and most improved. September sees a Generation Cup where youngsters will take on the oldies and a charity fundraising day on September 11 and October will have the trophy presentation lunch.

Cilla Pickett, left, and Nevelee Corry winners of the club’s best table decoration contest

Gardeners find time to chat, visit and share tips THE approach of autumn means the Interesting Gardening Club, based in Ribérac, Dordogne will be starting up again and it welcomes all local gardeners whether they have acres, woodlands and lakes, or a simple cottage garden. Running since 2004, it is a friendly group with plenty going on and aims to support and encourage gardeners, and to promote an exchange of current and traditional gardening ideas. President Cilla Pickett has been a member for five years and said: “It is a good club with around 70 members. “We meet on the second Thursday of every month and have a speaker on gardening subjects with a varied range of topics. Recently we had a good talk on ‘no-dig gardening’ which really interested our members. “Related subjects like organic and permaculture methods are all popular. “We also have people who have unusual garden experiences from living elsewhere, for example in India.

“This is always followed by lunch and everyone brings along dishes and it is always delicious as I find gardeners tend to be good cooks.” The club also organises visits to gardens, arboretum and nurseries, picnics in members’ gardens, plant and seed exchanges and one-off events like a garden question time and, in Sept­ ember their first mini-horticultural show with a harvest lunch.

See also Page 27 for Community events Two special interest groups run from April to September. One is for roses, which grow well in the area, and the other for vegetables, so people can exchange tips and ask for advice. Mrs Pickett said that for newcomers it can be a great help, as they often say they cannot grow anything on a limey soil, with long, dry summers. Membership of the club is €20 a year - see interestinggardeningclub.com

Community 31

President David Preston said: “My personal aim is to promote the game of English Lawn Bowls as a social sport where you can meet friends, make new friends and also have a competitive game in convivial surroundings. When all these come together it makes it all worthwhile.” The club would love to attract new members and offers coaching and practice sessions to new bowlers. It

also has bowls that can be borrowed. “As regards new bowlers, they can expect to meet new people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities, learn the game of English Lawn Bowls, make new friends and enjoy the social interaction and camaraderie that the game of bowls provides.” Annual membership is €20. Contact David Preston at dpreston@wanadoo.fr or by phone on 05 55 78 59 94.

Abandoned pets need more ‘amis’ to give them a life VOLUNTEER Diana Eccles, from near Quillan in Aude, works with Les Amis des Animaux and is keen to get people elsewhere in France involved to help the never-ending numbers of ill-treated and abandoned cats and dogs to find a home, and perhaps even adopt one as she has done. An association in the Tarbes area, Les Amis provides complementary support services to refuges; with helpers providing foster homes, finding families to adopt a pet, walking dogs in refuges, raising money for vets’ fees and other necessities or acting as part of the network of drivers, often over long distances. It works mostly with Tarbes North SPA animal welfare group but will take dogs from other branches. Its Facebook page and website have details on animals needing adoption and other ways to help out. Ms Eccles says she was amazed to find out how much is done behind the scenes at the refuges: “I got involved with a call on Facebook for anyone to transport a collie across France. I volunteered and picked up a very scared dog in the drizzle at a Carcassonne sports shop, the dog having been brought from the Tarbes area by another volunteer. “I then transported him to Narbonne and he was taken onto Aixen-Provence in other members’ cars and settled into a good home.” This first contact encouraged her to get back in touch with Les Amis des Animaux, when she started looking for a dog for herself: “I went over to

Diana Eccles and Bella stay with the president, Lynn Hull, who has worked professionally with dogs and works amazingly hard to help cats and dogs in need. “Initially I was looking for a small dog but fell in love with a photo of Bella, an 18-month-old spaniel/setter/ collie cross. She was initially a street dog, roaming for her food so took some time to get her stomach to accept dog biscuits and only a little meat but I think we have it cracked.” Since then she has worked more with Les Amis des Animaux and said they were always looking for emergency foster homes as boxes of puppies or kittens just keep arriving. Anyone looking to get involved can contact her on diandbella1@outlook. com or Les Amis lesamisdesanimaux. com on 06 40 59 40 01 or email info@ lesamisdesanimaux.com

MANY members of EuroMayenne Association are putting finishing touches to work for the annual craft fair on October 28 but there is still time for others to sign up and exhibit. Amateur artists and craftworkers are looking forward to the EuroMayenne Craft Fair at Mayenne Exhibition Hall that last year drew 90 exhibitors and more than 3,000 visitors. The theme this year is Spain with music and flamenco dancing which is a departure for an association founded in 1991 by a French woman who wanted to welcome the numerous Britons arriving in the department to help them integrate. Today it has more than 300 members; two-thirds are English-speakers and the others are French with some Belgians, Dutch, Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Americans and Canadians. President Nicole Devel-Laigle said: “One of our rules is the president should be French because we want to keep alive the principle this is a group where we in France wish to continue to provide a network of help, guidance, activities and friendship to those coming to live here. We also

Have your group featured

The Connexion regularly features news and events from community groups all over France. We would be pleased to publicise your assoc­ iation (non-commercial) – it is a great way to bring in new members and it is free! Submit events via connexionfrance.com/Community To have your association/group featured email details to news@ connexionfrance.com want to make sure it does not become a solely expat association.” “A priority is to help people master the language. We have a salaried teacher who gives lessons at three different levels at Laval and Mayenne. “We also run conversation workshops where people sit at tables of four and they speak for one hour in French and one hour in English, which is of benefit to all members. “We have about 30 signed up for the French lessons and would really like people to know about the classes because it would be good to see more people benefiting from them.” The association also has interest groups including photography, rambling, craft work, gardening, cookery, reading and the card game Belote. Some members also help in English speaking activities in local schools. The craft fair came from a British member’s idea and Mrs Devel-Laigle said: “Little by little it has grown into a big event. There are all sorts of handmade objects on display and for sale by both amateurs and professionals. We like to think it is the first Christmas market in the department”. Annual membership is €20 and anyone wishing to sign up for the fair can email Clotilde Sedouga at clotilde.sedouga@euromayenne.org

32 Practical

The Connexion


Group fills cracks in pavement with plants not cement

Stopping centime coins is first step to saving €30bn

MOVES to stop more of France being concreted over with new developments – the government says builders must compensate by creating equivalent green spaces – come years after residents in Caen took ‘greening’ into their own hands... by taking over pavement cracks for plants. The Caen au Pied du Mur association has been at work for five years planting flowers, ferns and other plants wherever a gap opens up. Founder Sylvain Girodom said “I’m a ‘townie’ and I like to see the vegetation, it makes the street much more beautiful and welcoming. “I saw the weeds along the walls in my street and I thought that flowers could take over the space. It was something worth preserving; that’s why I created the association so more people would join in.” Every two or three months the group holds street workshops where residents can come along to see how to turn pavement spaces into something with a bit of life by planting all sorts of greenery as long as it does not disrupt passers-by. The group has a Facebook page under the Caen au Pied du Mur name to publicise their work and so far they have seen about 200 houses in more than a dozen streets joining in. Now, after each planting, they stencil a plaque on to a wall and council workers will leave the plants... which is ideal in Caen which was named fifth in a list of towns with the most flowers.

FRANCE wants to find €30billion in savings in public expenditure by 2020... and getting get rid of one and two centime coins could help. Part of a move towards a more cashless economy, France would join Belgium, Finland and Ireland as euro-zone countries if it opted to no longer use the smallest coins... aided by the fact that it costs four centimes to make a one centime coin. A committee looking at possible savings said encouraging people to use less cash would simplify payments and help fight fraud – and it suggested that cash, cheques and fiscal stamps should be banned for payment of tax bills in two years’ time. Elected and ministry representatives, unions and trade body delegates make up the committee but the government does not have to follow its recommendations. Governments have long eyed a move to a cashless society but there have been few real changes. This is partly for cultural reasons as many see paying with liquide as a sign of good faith while also giving some ‘liberty’ in tax declarations. ‘Electronic wallets’ linked to bank cards, such as Crédit Agricole’s Moneo, failed but the rise of new ‘fintech’ financial technology compa-




Luc Lu yc x

rom nies has seen a growth in /P smartphone apps to manage bank accounts, organise common pots to buy presents, split and pay bills in restaurants or borrow and lend money via crowdfunding. Paris firm PayinTech makes electronic bracelets and badges used to pay for tickets, food and drink at festivals or campsites. Its co-founder Bertrand Sylvestre-Boncheval said: “We find sales go up by around 20%. It is above all the ease of payment which makes a difference. “If you can serve 3,000 people at half time in a football match you sell more than if you only serve 2,700.” A “casino effect” sees customers spend more than normal, just as gamblers spend more with chips than if using cash, and the ease of use allows people to buy straight away, rather than having to fetch a card. He said Moneo was too complicated: “Users have to feel they are getting benefit.” Frantz Waze, financial director of so-called neo-bank Ditto Bank in Paris, says people are now more accepting of cashless technology, especially if it is useful to them.

Ditto’s smartphone-based multi- currency accounts manage, transfer or complete foreign exchange transactions, while its card gives local currencies from the accounts, avoiding commissions. “People see it is useful, that it is safe, and switch because of that,” said Mr Waze. As for a wider cashless society, he said the technology exists for it to be introduced tomorrow. “Governments like it, banks like it, but people in different countries have different relations to cash, and like the feel of it. “French people use bank cards a lot, but still like cash and how quickly they will change is the million dollar question. “Germany is even more cash driven: you cannot buy a beer in a beer garden with a card for instance.” A 2016 survey by Banque de France and other European banks showed 68% of transactions in French shops were in cash, mainly for small sums. This compares with 80% in Ger­ many, Austria and Slovenia. By contrast physical cash was least used in the Netherlands, Estonia and Fin­ land, making up 33% of transactions.

Making your

life in france less taxing


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

September 2018

TV licence fee break for B&Bs Chambres d’hôtes open for less than nine months a year and people watching TV on a computer fitted with a TV card have won licence fee cuts. The redevance audiovisuelle fee is paid for each TV and will be discounted by 30% for B&Bs with more than three TVs. Computer TV card users will not have to pay a licence fee at all, said Public Accounts Min­ ister Gérald Darmanin, who also rejected calls to extend the fee to tablets and smartphones. Ministers are looking at a new type of licence fee as it is paid along with the taxe d’habitation and government moves to get rid of this for most households by 2020 mean a rethink on how and who should pay. Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen said “changing usage” meant a new system from 2019. Several government MPs called for an income-linked universal fee and said a tax ministry simulation showed a fee of 0.5% of income paid only by those with revenu fiscal of more than €10,000 would bring in the same amount as the old fee but exclude 65% of homes.

The Connexion

September 2018

The Connexion

Money / Tax page



Is any tax payable on gift of French holiday home? My FATHER, a UK resident, bought a French holiday home in 1998 for 60,000FF. He formally gifted it to me in 2006. My siblings received gifts in the UK to compensate. My father held no other assets in France. He died this year. Does his estate owe any taxes in France in relation to this gift? R.H. The VALUE of the gift was within the inheritance/gift tax rates of the time so no tax would have been due by you, the beneficiary of the gift. As your father passed away after the gifts and at the time of his demise owned no property in France (typically the only kind of asset taxable as a non-French resident), there is effectively no taxable estate in France on the date of his death. Anything that happened in the UK is not relevant as the only assets in which France would have had any interest – your father being a non French resident – would have been the property.

Stamp duty on UK purchase As a French resident living in rented accommodation in France, owning no property either in France or the UK, what stamp duty is payable should I buy a property in the UK? Would I be liable for the increased level that foreign purchasers must pay? C.M. RATES of UK stamp duty can be found on the HMRC website at gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax/ residential-property-rates. Up to £125,000 there is no tax, then there is 2% up to £250,000 (see the site for further bands and a duty calculator). As a resident of France you would pay the same rates as a UK resident. There is no specific higher rate for foreign purchasers, only a higher rate for those who already own property anywhere else in the world. Those to whom the latter applies should visit gov.uk/guidance/stamp-duty-land-tax-buying-an-additional-residential-property.

Brexit and government pensions THERE must be many retired people in France who have government occupational pensions (teachers, police etc). Currently these have to be taxed in the UK and not in France. In the event that S1 healthcare cover is withdrawn for UK pensioners in France

Sites will have to pass earning details to fisc

Send your financial queries to

Hugh MacDonald at

news@connexionfrance.com after Brexit would the UK government allow these pensions to be taxed in France so we would automatically become part of the healthcare system? A.M. What happens as a result of Brexit does not affect the double tax treaties – these are separate and fully independent of EU membership. As a result, laws from the treaties will continue to be applied and so government pensions will continue to be taxed in the country of origin and ‘taken into account’ in the French income tax computation. Accordingly, any change would be difficult to establish unless the double tax treaty between the two countries was re-written. As for healthcare rights after Brexit for British pensioners in France, they are guaranteed by the draft exit deal; if there is no deal however then those able to regularise their residency rights in France should theoretically be entitled to the French ‘Puma’ system (which includes having to pay a fee if income is above a certain level). A replacement for the S1 would depend on a future Franco-UK agreement about this issue.

Can I run my business from UK? Having recently registered as micro-entrepreneur I am planning to move to the UK. Can I maintain this business set-up while having UK residency? C.C. As things currently stand, there is no problem in having a business activity here through the micro-entrepreneur system while being a UK resident. French taxation on the taxable element may, however, change as the French apply a fixed minimum tax rate for non residents of 20%. In the UK, you would then declare the French tax assessable figure and reclaim the tax paid in France and if more than the eventual UK income tax due, be entitled to a tax refund.

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

Where do I declare rent income? As UK nationals who are tax resident in France, in which country should we declare and pay tax on rental income from a property outside the EU paid by the tenants into our UK bank account? P.H. TAXATION is always applied first in the country in which the property is situated, and then in the country of fiscal residency. So you would need to declare the rental income to the tax authorities of the country in which the property is situated, if the country does in fact charge income tax. You would also have to make a declaration in your French income tax returns (though in most cases there are treaties in place which mean you are not taxed again on it – however France may take account of it, possibly increasing your tax rates on other revenue); Exactly how to do this depends on the type of rental/letting involved.

How to stop local tax payments I sold a holiday house in France in March last year but monthly direct debits for local property taxes are still being taken. How can I stop this? C.S. The first thing to do is to cancel the direct debit mandate with your bank. The second is to send a recorded delivery letter with notice of delivery to the Trésor Public including extracts of the deed of sale to show the date at which the sale occurred and requesting that they stop taxing you as you are no longer the owner (and asking for a refund of amounts taken in error). You may also like to write to the local tax office with similar enclosures since the Trésor Public only collects what the tax office tells them and may in fact be simply waiting for confirmation from them.

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.

A NEW law has been drafted with the aim of ensuring that people trading goods and services on websites cannot avoid paying tax on income from them. It would force sites to provide anyone who has made money via transactions on ‘online platforms’ with an annual statement of earnings and to also send the information to the tax office. The draft says it would apply to French-based sites and anyone who carries out sales of goods or offers services in France. MPs will debate the law, which has already been approved by the Senate, this month. Sites which do not comply would be fined €50,000. Ones likely to be affected include leboncoin.fr and airbnb.fr. Several commentators consider that blablacar.com would escape the measure as it involves cost-sharing, not selling. An Ifop survey found that 67% of people would be put off using sites if the measure is brought in.

Deadline to correct income declarations WITH tax notices (avis) now going out, those who declared online and realise they have made a mistake or omission have until December 31 to make corrections in the Corriger ma déclaration en ligne section of their account at impots.gouv.fr. A new notice should be sent a few weeks later. Those who declared on paper would need to make a written réclamation, which may be accompanied by a demande de sursis de paiement (request for postponement of tax) - see tinyurl. com/tax-reclamation). They would need to send proof of any changes they wish to make.

‘Cash-back’ authorised SHOPS can now legally offer ‘le cash-back’ after an EU directive on this was put into French law, however a decree is awaited in the autumn clarifying ceilings. Well-known in the UK and Germany, it allows people to use their bank card to pay more for goods in shops than the required amount and receive the difference in cash.

Problems with Nickel? SOME tabacs in Occitanie have stopped offering the simple low-cost Nickel bank account because of technical complications, which they are not paid to deal with, reports the local media France 3. It said that in Montauban three tabacs recently gave up the accounts. One said they had had a terminal for customers to use but that many clients did not read French well and needed aid and it was hard to get phone help for technical issues. The site compte-nickel.fr says 3,600 tabacs offer the service (14%). At its 2014 launch it was hoped all of them would sign up. Compte Nickel told Connexion there is no national trend of cancellations. It said 150 new tabacs sign up per week and they hope for more than 10,000 by 2020. If you have a Nickel account, tell us your experiences via news@connexionfrance.com

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


September 2018

Seven points to know about UK pensions in France 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

So much has happened with pensions over recent years, it is easy to get confused. With more options than ever for how you can access your funds, it can be difficult to establish the best approach. Here we outline seven pension issues that could affect expatriates in France, and explore what you can do to take advantage of today’s opportunities. You could pay as little as 7.5% tax on UK pension pots British nationals with French residency can potentially withdraw their entire UK pension as a lump sum and pay just 7.5% in taxes with an uncapped 10% allowance. This special rate is only available if you have not accessed your pension already and you take the whole amount at once; there must be no further possibility of taking out more. Also, pension contributions must have been deductible from your or your employer’s taxable income, so most company pensions will qualify (non-contributory schemes are unlikely to be eligible). Otherwise, UK pensions are liable for French income tax rates of up to 45%, plus social charges of 9.1%. Only UK residents or French residents with UK government pensions attract UK taxes. Taking private health insurance could reduce taxes Many people do not realise that having access to


the French healthcare system brings your pension into range for French social charges – adding 9.1% on top of any income tax payable. You will not be liable for social charges, however, if you hold the EU form S1 (available once you have reached UK state pension age). For anyone else, it may be sensible to delay registering for the French healthcare system until after you have accessed your pension to avoid unnecessary taxation. ‘Transfer values’ have passed their peak In ‘final salary’ or ‘defined benefit’ pensions, employers commit to paying an inflation-linked income throughout an employee’s retirement. Payments are usually generous and, crucially, guaranteed for life. Over the last two years, the pay-outs offered for cashing-in final salary pensions have hit historic highs. While transfer values are usually calculated as a multiple of 20x the annual salary due at retirement, there have been recent cases of 40x. In an extreme example, this means the transfer value for a pension worth £30,000 per year may have doubled from £600,000 to £1.2million! Such high values reflect the desire for providers to reduce future pension liabilities. Funding these pensions has become more difficult as returns from the underlying investments – mostly UK bonds – have shrunk. But with UK interest rates predicted to rise in coming months – making pension provision more affordable – transfer values are starting to decrease. While this could mean a closing window of opportunity for today’s high transfer values, it is crucial to take time to fully understand all the implications when considering a transfer. Expatriates can access tax-efficient opportunities

one who knows France

Many expatriates in France find it beneficial to reinvest UK pension funds into a tax-efficient ‘assurance-vie’. Alternatively, transferring to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) can unlock tax benefits and offer similar estate planning advantages, such as the flexibility to include additional heirs and roll your wealth across generations. However, tax benefits can vary greatly between providers and jurisdictions, so take professional advice to determine which approach, if any, is suitable for you and navigate the complex options. A lower pension allowance could catch you out If your combined UK pension benefits (excluding the state pension) are close to £1.03m, you risk breaching the UK lifetime pension allowance. Anything accessed over the limit as a lump sum is subject to 55% UK taxation, or 25% when taken as income or transferred, even if you are resident in France. Calculating your lifetime allowance is not always straightforward and you could go over without realising it, for example through investment growth. If this affects you, consider HMRC ‘protection’ options or transferring to avoid losing a quarter or more of your excess funds to tax. Regulated advice is essential Transferring a pension – particularly from a final salary scheme – comes with risks and is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Whatever type of pensions you have, you need to make sure you put a strategy in place to see you through your retirement years while managing investment risk in line with your objectives. The worst-case scenario of getting it wrong could mean losing everything to pension scams,

or to unregulated investments that provide no compensation if things go wrong. For final salary benefits worth over £30,000, the UK Financial Conduct Authority makes it compulsory to take regulated financial advice before transferring, but it is a good idea for anyone reviewing their pension arrangements.

Brexit is likely to change things Post-Brexit, the UK may no longer be obliged to meet EU rules on freedom of movement for capital; this could mean more flexibility to claim taxes from expatriates’ pensions. The ‘overseas transfer charge’ introduced last year may indicate things to come. Today, French residents are able to transfer UK pension funds to a QROPS in the EU/EEA (European Economic Area) tax-free. But since March 2017, transfers outside the EU/ EEA attract 25% UK taxation (unless you live in the same jurisdiction as the QROPS). Many spectators expect the Treasury will widen the taxation net to include transfers within the EU, and even make it harder for expatriates to cash-in final salary pensions. As such, there may be limited time to transfer without tax penalties. With so much uncertainty, now is the time to review pension arrangements with professional advice to decide what makes financial sense for your circumstances. A local adviser can also keep you up-to-date with any developments that may affect you and your retirement in France. n 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

September 2018

Innovation 35


Rowing coach’s electric boat cleans water as it moves by EMILY COMMANDER

SEEN nipping up and down the River Saône in Lyon, the Neptunéo electric catamaran owes its origins to a longstanding problem... but can prevent others for the future. It is the brainchild of former professional rowing coach Olivier Gouraud, who spent much of his career on safety boats accompanying rowing teams as they train and race. Safety boats have room for only four people, but a full rowing crew is nine, so they are ineffective if the whole team are involved – especially in a cold river where survival time is just two minutes. Even worse, they capsize relatively easily, pollute rivers and waterways and residents along the riverbank complain about excessive noise. Mr Gouraud decided to tackle all the issues head-on with a single solution and drew up a specification that he took to a naval architect. Out of this, Neptunéo was born. Its design is simple: built on a ‘chassis’ of two hulls, it sits high in the water, can hold up to 10 people, carries 1.5tonnes, and is fully electric, with up to 14 hours of pollution-free range at speeds of 10kph.

The prototype Neptunéo, showed its capabilities on the Saône in front of the Fourvière basilica in Lyon

The engine is electric and silent, so ending complaints about revving motors. Another side of Neptunéo’s innovation, though, is that its double hull allows for the

installation, underneath, of a ‘de-pollution station’. This is, essentially, a system of nets and filters allowing the catamaran to clean the water of oily residue and other debris as

small as cigarette ends as it travels. Given that many of the rivers used for rowing are filthy, this allows the vessel not only to avoid generating further pollution, but to clean up

Translation chatbot lets GP ‘speak’ to patients in English

However, AI translation cannot yet improve upon the work of human translators. A test in South Korea this year pitted machine translation against humans, translating texts from Korean to English and vice versa. The results said “90% of the neural machine translated text was ‘grammatically awkward,’ or “never the kind of translation produced by an educated native speaker.” Even so, Systran is upbeat on the potential of its chatbot. Sales and marketing director Gaëlle Bou said: “What’s exciting about this project is its humanity: the best of technology in semantic research, AI and neural translation, serving patients and giving quality medical care.” Despite this, human translators do not see their jobs threatened, especially in legal and other complex fields – including medical areas. “Artificial intelligence is being used to get cars to drive by themselves, but that is simple compared to having to translate legal documents,” translator Myriam Barbier from La Rochelle told Connexion. “There is so much knowledge and history which has to be understood that I am sure humans will be used for many years to come for legal and technical translation.” She said only one client had come to her with a machine-translated text for correction, and says most of the time assermenté (sworn) translators work using original documents. Advances in translation software and systems were highlighted when the French travel guide Petit Futé sold four million books in Mandarin with the translation work carried out by Systran’s automatic system. The guide publishers said 70% of the machinetranslated text was accurate, allowing them to speed up the work of the human translators, who remain ultimately in charge. In addition, the system is designed to ‘learn’ from any human corrections so it can only improve with time.

With so many options for your UK pension funds, what are the best solutions for expatriates living in France?

Deciding what to do with your pensions is one of the most important financial decisions you make. Take regulated advice to understand how all the options and opportunities affect you and the tax implications in France. With our pension, tax and investment expertise, Blevins Franks provides bespoke advice based on your situation and aims.

Talk to the people who know

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



PATIENTS and doctors who do not share a language may discuss complex medical problems thanks to ‘chatbot’ software from two French firms that goes beyond Google Translate to create a solution that could become as everyday as using the phone or FaceTime. The chatbot lets patients use their own language to describe their symptoms and for doctors to establish a diagnosis and discuss treatment in that language. It won machine translation experts Systran and artificial intelligence specialist Pertimm an award at the AI Paris artificial intelligence symposium as it keeps patients’ medical details private by avoiding human translators. The software was dubbed the “e-health agent of the future” as the program continually learns and improves its translations. It raises the question of whether conversational programs will one day replace the need for human translators. Artificial intelligence has already made online translation better than before with Google Translate translating web pages or blocks of text with reasonable accuracy. While still sometimes clunky and with occasional howlers, translations were so bad when Google launched Translate they were funny. Early systems were based on statistical translation (ST) systems recognising and translating words and texts using a set of rules. However neural machine translation (NMT) – where computers learn without being programmed – saw a move from a focus on words and phrases to their use in context, and gives much better and appropriate translations. Like Systran’s chatbot, Google Translate and other online translation software such as DeepL uses NMT to give reasonably accurate translations most of the time, at least in the main European languages.

after the generations of boats that preceded it. This summer a prototype was launched at the Confluence area in Lyon. This is the home of Navly, Europe’s first autono-

mous electric bus, and the city is swiftly gaining a reputation for transport innovation. Sold by Mr Gouraud’s company Nautiqu’elec, the prototype has drawn interest from rowing organisers nationwide and will soon be travelling abroad to international events. Interest has spread further, with its load-bearing capacity and height on the water making it well-suited to the transport of compact loads. Oyster catchers have made inquiries, as have urban delivery services, attracted by the idea of bypassing jammed roadways. In Tunisia, the security services have even been attracted by its silent approach, which could make it useful in covert operations. Neptunéo’s maiden voyage on the river Saône also revealed its potential for private use, and Nautiqu’elec has been working on customisation: allowing clients to install covers, fridges, and solar panels to increase its autonomous range. “I always knew it would work,” Mr Gouraud said: “It was designed to solve a universal problem, and in the end it solves many more.” Nautiqu’elec is now looking for a final round of investors to get its range on to the market.

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.

Leading firms fined for paying bills late LEADING public and private companies have been named and shamed for late payment of bills to suppliers and fined a total of €6.9million as the government moves to protect small PME businesses. Maximum fines of €375,000 were levied against 11 top companies, who included three state-controlled businesses: La Poste whose 2017 turnover was €24billion, lottery firm Française des Jeux, whose turnover was €15bn and Ile-deFrance public transport group RATP, with €5.5bn of turnover. Energy giant Engie’s subsidiary Endel was also fined the maximum as were bank Société Générale, cosmetics group Sephora, TV and telecoms firm CANAL+ International, freight company DHL Freight, energy and communications group Spie Ile-de-France Nord-Ouest and British oil and gas engineers Technip FMC. Finance Minister Delphine Gény-Stephann said: “Naming and shaming can improve companies’ behaviour with regard to late payment. Businesses must know they are taking a risk in breaking the law.” Her department highlighted

that the €375,000 fines imposed were the maximum possible at the time of the offences in 2014 but the new Loi Sapin 2 had increased this ceiling to €2m. In all, 116 businesses were fined, with the likes of sweets firm Haribo paying €140,000. Since 2009 it has been law that bills should be paid within 60 days of the date of the facture or 45 days from the end of the month and ministers said too many firms still ignored it. The government said it forced smaller companies to seek short-term finance to cover money that should have been in their accounts – and even risked their failure. In all, it was estimated it cost PME businesses €16bn and cash-flow problems were blamed for one in four business failures. Late-payers were caught in an inquiry by the Dgccrf fraud agency that covered 1,500 businesses as the government toughened enforcement. This is the first year companies have been named and shamed but a similar inquiry last year investigated 2,600 businesses and caught 230 who were fined a total of €15m.

Small business and tax advice We have been receiving a lot of queries about the launch of Prélèvement à la Source (PAS) – a French form of PAYE starting next year and how the new French ‘PAYE’ rate will be calculated and so thought it worthwhile repeating earlier advice. The basic principle of this is that employers in France will be asked to deduct and pay across the PAS from their employees’ pay. The idea being that the net amount an employee receives will be their disposable income and that there will be no further taxes to pay on it. So what will be the basis of this calculation? Unlike the British system which applies a PAYE deduction according to the person’s tax bracket, the French system will instead use the previous year’s assessment as the basis. Therefore, this year’s 2018 assessment on your 2017 earnings will be the basis to determine the PAS rates for 2019. As we stated, the 2018 avis (income tax bill) shows the percentage rates that will be used for the PAS in 2019. However, the PAS system has an added complexity in that in France people are taxed as households and not as individuals as is the system in the UK. Therefore, there could be three to four rates to choose from, one for either spouse and one for the household. In the case of an employee, the tax office will inform the employer of the rate to use and the employee can either use this rate, the one of the household or a neutral one. Most readers of this article are not French employees and are perhaps instead in receipt of a foreign pension – so the question is how will PAS apply in such a case? As France cannot oblige the source country of an expat pension to pay the source tax, the PAS will be based on their previous declaration and the amount will be deducted by direct debit from their French bank account. This is similar to the current ‘on account’ payment system under which tax payments are made by monthly or quarterly payments. 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

The Connexion


September 2018

Just 60 weavers remain at their looms in once textile-rich France CRAFTS in focus

Life as a tisserand or weaver is ideal for some but it has drawbacks and now only a few are left Monique Demazière is one of a very small number of professional weavers in France. The Institut de Métiers d’Art estimates there are about 60, who are mostly installed in regions where there is a strong textile tradition, such as Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitanie, Hauts-de-France, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Brittany, Grand-Est. They produce household textiles, clothes or artistic pieces, which they sell direct, either in their own shop, or at trade fairs or in markets. Sometimes, they might be asked to reproduce an antique fabric or a highquality fabric for an interior decorating company. Some specialise in samples for companies who will then reproduce them on an industrial scale and some specialise in artistic pieces. There is no denying it can be difficult to make a living as a weaver today. As most textile mills have closed in France and in Europe, weavers often find it difficult to find quality fibres to work with. Ms Demazière has worked as a weaver for 20 years. Her shop is in one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, Autoire in the Lot, a site chosen deliberately to attract tourists. The door to her shop Brinsde-Laine (www.brinsdelaine.fr) is in a picturesque street and inside it is colourful and cosy, with handwoven scarves and jackets on show, wool for sale in boxes on the wall and she sits at her beautiful wooden hand loom, making a scarf. There is a gentle clic-clac as she sends the shuttle from side to side. Before weaving she worked on a goat farm, but she has sewn since she was young. “I used to make patchwork, long before it became fashionable.

Photos: Jank Hanks


Monique Demazière works at the loom in her shop, Brins-de-Laine, in Autoire, Lot Then I met a friend who had a loom she did not know how to use and I was intrigued. “When my work at the farm ended I found a weaver in Agen who taught me my skills in a six-month course. It is a little difficult to learn and there is a lot of technique and you need to be good at basic maths, to work out the configurations of the loom to create your patterns. You need to have a sense of colour which I have from doing so much patchwork. And you have to love the materials you are working with. “I loved working with the goats, and it is important to me to work with natural fibres that come from an animal which has not been harmed.” Making a woven piece of material is a long process. She makes about three shawls a year from wool she has carded, spun, coloured with vegetable dyes and woven. Such items take about three months, working around three hours a day. She does not make money from such a project but does it for the pleasure of creating Dozens and dozens of different colours go to make up the designs that Monique Demazière creates

something from A to Z. Otherwise she buys wool from one of the last surviving spinning mills, in Creuse. A jacket uses six metres of cloth which will take her six days to weave. She sells jackets at €230 and shawls at €169, whether she has spun the wool or not. A quick calculation shows she does not earn much per hour and she admits people have become more reluctant to buy in the past five years. However, she loves what she does: “All the processes take time, but I like that. When I used to guard my goats, sometimes for hours at a time, it was long but good. With a slow rhythm, you learn to take life as it comes. It is no good wanting everything to happen immediately. I do not earn much money, but I am happy and free and lucky to be able to do what I love doing. Not everyone has that chance.” Weavers can use many types of thread including linen, silk, hemp, cotton, wool, cashmere and even thin strands of metal. To begin with the loom must

be set up with great attention to detail as the long, or warp, threads are put into place. The weaver uses pedals to lift alternate lines of warp threads in different combinations so as to pass the weft threads across them and create a pattern. Great dexterity is needed and different designs require skill. Depending on the type of thread used, on average, someone working a handloom can weave between 30cm and 10 metres of material in 10 hours. There are several non-diploma courses of varying lengths where you can learn to weave, often run by professionals. There are also courses to learn dying and spinning. There is one professional diploma – a Diplôme des métiers d’art (DMA) Arts textiles et céramiques option arts textiles which lasts two years and has embroidery, tapestry or weaving as a speciality. You do not have to have a professional diploma to earn money as a weaver. www.institut-metiersdart.org/ metiers-d-art/textile/tisserand

The Connexion

September 2018

Photo: ©Benoit Zebra

The Lande that time forgot

Flat country in Les Landes means building channels to give the mill stream some force


Low-roofed houses and shepherds on stilts hark back to the Grande Lande history

Property Watch in


DEPARTMENTS: Gard, Hérault, Aude, Lozère, Pyrénées-Orientales MAIN CITIES: Montpellier, Béziers, Nîmes, Alès, Le Vigan, Carcassonne, Narbonne, Limoux, Perpignan, Céret, Prades, Mende, Florac HISTORIC Languedoc is a former province of France. Its departments have been paired with those of neighbouring Midi-Pyrénées to form the modern-day region of Occitanie in the southwest of the country. It is a popular property-hunting zone for second-home buyers – and no wonder. Its ever-changing combination of Mediterranean sea, white sandy beaches, mountains, wall-towall blue sky, stunning landscapes, and abundant winemaking regions means it has something for everyone – with everything connected by impressive transport links. And there are plenty of well-priced properties to be found for those looking to enjoy a Riviera-style climate and scenery, without the accompanying Riviera price-tag. The bad news is the secret is out – and prices are starting to rise as house hunters whose Côte d’Azur dream has not blinded them to a property bargain head west along the south coast of France. Prices are even cheaper away from the glittering seascapes. If you are willing to head inland, you can find a threebedroom chalet with mountain views and ski resorts nearby in the Pyrénées-Orientales for around €200,000. Despite the rising demand, property in the hugely popular and vibrant Montpellier – where prices have been rising fast for several years – remains relatively affordable for those looking for a little property bang for their buck. Prices average about €1,790/m² in the Hérault city, compared to €3,660/ m² in Nice, figures from the Notaires de France show.

What your money buys Under €140,000

part of the world, and even some of the landowners did not have glass until the beginning of the 20th century. Instead there were shutters at night, and very thick curtains during the day to keep out the worst of the weather and insects. “The houses could be taken apart and extended and there is evidence to suggest they began as a small central unit with rooms added as the family grew. “If, for example, two brothers inherited the house, it was not unheard of for them to divide the building and move the halves, one for each man, to a new location.” Other farm buildings are in styles only seen in this part of the Landes. Chicken houses sit on 1.50m poles with a ladder access taken away at night so foxes could not get in. Mills were designed to funnel the plentiful but low-pressure water into channels to


in the centre of the Landes department in south-west France the Grande Lande had a specific rural architecture for hundreds of years until the start of the 20th century when the landscape was transformed by the compulsory introduction of pine forests. The old housing and farm buildings began to disappear. A recreated hamlet at the Ecomusée de Marquèze, near Sabres, has 30 original buildings which were either there or were transported to the site and which faithfully reproduce the living conditions of the local inhabitants in 1890. Curator Florence Raguénès said their features were adapted to the area’s geography and its flat and sandy land with the water table often only a metre below the surface. It was so poor only subsistence farming was possible and the flocks of sheep that roamed in summer were not there for food but to fertilise the land for the only cereal crop that would grow, rye. They were guarded by shepherds on stilts to keep out of the wet and give a better view. “The farming community lived in hamlets called quartiers at some distance from the towns”, said Mrs Raguénès. “The landowner lived in close proximity with his workers. His house was slightly larger than the others and had a shaded porch area called in Gascon an estantade, which was a shelter where he could receive visitors before going inside and where some household tasks could take place. “Other than that it was the same style and materials as the other houses. There was little local stone; so pine, oak and acacia were used for the main structure, and the gaps filled with daub made out of rye straw. “Buildings were low to the ground with one storey and perhaps an attic for storing crops. Roofs were long with a gentle slope and built to be as light as possible, due to the unstable sand the buildings stood on. “Unusually, there were no foundations as water was so near the surface it was impractical. Instead, the main wooden beams rested on slabs of local stone and the floor lay on anything that helped raise it off the ground to prevent humidity.” As in the rest of the Landes, houses were built with the main entrance and windows towards the east to make the most of the sunlight and on the back wall the roof sloped down close to the ground. Glass windows came late to this poor


Architecture of France... The Grande Lande

Property 37


Landowners’ houses had shaded estantades to greet guests in some shelter

turn the stone wheels and wells used a pivot system to lower and raise the bucket to collect the water which was not far down. In winter, shepherds, who were usually young single men, would live in the family home or in one of the quartier’s most rudimentary houses. In summer, they were with their sheep and had two types of shelter: a borde, small and covered with a rye straw thatch, and a parc, which was bigger and so could be covered with clay tiles. Families in the quartier lived hard lives but it seems they worked together in harmony and shared resources. This changed from 1857 when Napoléon III ordered the area be planted with pine forests. Much of the Landes was already forested, but the marshy, flat lands in Gironde and Landes were seen as useless as they could not produce cash crops. Over 50-60 years the flat marshy land was completely altered and the sheep and shepherds had to go. Pines were a lucrative source of income as they were tapped for resin, which was transformed for use in paints, rubber type materials, the pharmaceutical industry and cleaning products among other things. Now, the privately owned forests made money so there was a greater difference between the landowners in the quartiers and their employees. Mrs Raguénès said: “Landowners no longer wanted to live in the country and moved to the towns where they could afford to buy stone from other areas and build bigger houses. “Shepherds were angry at the loss of their livelihood and there was social unrest. “Gradually, a whole way of life and its associated architecture disappeared.” Ecomusée de Marquèze has an English app to guide you round the site and tablets can be hired there. www.marqueze.fr

Charming two-bedroom holiday home above the River Jaur in a quiet road. Great potential! Just five minutes from lively Saint-Pons-de-Thomières this 80m² three level house is a great first buy or lock up and leave holiday home. A cute little private paradise. €59,000 Ref: 64919CG34

Beautiful two-bedroom villa with views over Lake du Jouarres, with pool, Jacuzzi and private garden. Fantastic secure peaceful lakeside residence with heated pool and Jacuzzi, with guaranteed rental income. A short walk to the Canal du Midi and the village of Homps €139,000 Ref: 68971RLS11

More than €150,000

Pretty 3 bed character property situated near to the city center of Lamalou-les-Bains. A rare opportunity to refresh and put your own personal touch onto this charming property. It offers the feeling of a country home in the heart of a lively vibrant spa town. €152,600 Ref: 85442CLE34

Authentic 3 bed stone house to renovate, in the amazing Orb Valley, Natural Park. Perfectly located just around the corner from the famous Gorges d’Héric and within walking of the lovely town of Mons. This house comes with a garage and garden. €214,000 Ref: 69509CG34

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

Next month: We look at Midi-Pyrénées North

38 Property

LegalNotes Property sales volume tails off Your questions answered

Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query

Q: My husband died recently and I am confused following a visit to the notaire to find out the costs of settling the estate. We had a typical French marriage contract and he left everything to me in a will. There are no children, brothers or sisters or surviving parents and the only property we owned, in which I live, was purchased in joint names. When I asked the notaire for an estimate of the costs she said it would depend on the value of the property... This implies I will have to pay, what, I have no idea, for the house I already own and have paid for. Can you explain? L.O. A: While there is no inheritance tax in France between spouses, the notaire needs to request payment of costs and fees, similar to stamp duties, for various works concerning the estate. These include drafting and registering the French probate papers to confirm entitlement (Acte de notoriété), the Inheritance Tax account (déclaration de succession) if applicable, the title transfer deed (Attestation Immobilière /

Attestation de propriété), and/or for registering the will (procès-verbal de dépôt du testament). Additionally, unless you attend the notaire’s office to sign in person (in which case the notaire may need to arrange for a translator to be present, at your cost), there may be fees for preparing a French power of attorney in order for the notaire’s clerk to sign the probate documents on your behalf. Even for modest value French properties in an estate, notaire fees and duties usually work out at around €2,500 - €3,000. Fees and duties are set on a national scale but there are regional variations. These include various separate elements and stamp duties: some value based, and some fixed. Some are a national ‘tarif réglementé’ while others are location-based (tarifs non réglementés) such as registration costs, disbursements or duties. Fees are also due for the notaire’s work. It is tricky to work out the exact amounts and you are right to ask for an estimate.

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

Q: We signed a deal for an exclusive mandate with an estate agent but after several months she has not sold the property. Can I get rid of her as agent and try to sell it myself? B.L. A: There are two main kinds of mandate: the mandat simple, where you can sign with several agents, retain the option to sell yourself and, if an agent finds a buyer, sell through them and they get the commission. The mandat exclusif is where you deal with one agent who has exclusive rights to find a buyer and handle the sale. This allows the agent to invest time into finding a buyer and also to fit sale signs, place adverts and advise on a sale. An exclusive contract, should be for no more than

The Connexion


three months. It should detail cancellation conditions, the property price, commission and which party pays. The exclusive mandate always has a time limit and it is normal for this to roll over by joint agreement but you should receive an option to cancel at least a month before this happens. In any case, you can cancel at any time after three months from the signature. To do so, you must send a lettre recommandée avec avis de réception to the agent. The résiliation takes effect two weeks after the letter has been received and you are then free to find your own buyer. Be aware that if you find a buyer while still under contract you must pay the agent the commission as agreed.

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

September 2018

but prices continue steady rise SALES prices for housing continued to rise steadily in the early part of this year – with mid-market prices up 3.2% across France compared to the same period in 2017. However, there was a slow-down in the rise in the number of sales, the latest notaire figures show. Figures up to the end of April show 953,000 sales finalised in a year, an increase of 7% on the previous quarter but lower than the 13% rise recorded three months earlier. Looking back, the number of transactions also fell in the same period last year but from May there was a rise again but it had little effect on prices. Overall, mid-market prices on older property rose but A study of countrywide pre-sale agreements shows prices at the end of August 2018 up 2.9% for older flats (down from 4%) in a year and 2.4% for older houses some areas did better than others giving significant regional diversity. In Ile-de-France prices rose 4.3% in the 12 months but just 2.7% in the regions. Prices stabilised in most departments but some such as Aveyron, Dordogne, Doubs, Indre, Loir-et-Cher, HauteLoire and Oise, saw drops... but this list was not the same as in the previous quarter showing some yo-yoing of prices. Higher rises in flat prices were seen in Bordeaux (up 18% in a year), Annecy and Lyon (up 10% in a year) and Brest, Rennes and Reims (all increasing 5-9% in the same period). Nice, Nantes, Dijon and Stras­bourg saw smaller increases of 2-4% but Grenoble, Besan­çon, Saint-Etienne, Toulon and Orléans saw prices fall by a small amount. Most main regional towns across the country saw house prices rise but with marked variations from town to town. Several factors contributed to the easing of the market, with a fall in households’ buying power due to the rise in social charges and cuts in benefits. The Banque de France said average long-term fixed mort­ gage rates stayed low at 1.58% with better deals possible.

Older houses

Mid-market price of older houses by m2 in the first quarter of 2018. The percentage is the change from the same quarter of 2017

Brest €177,100 4.2%

Le Havre €170,000 0.6% Caen €208,000 9.5%

Nantes €265,000 3.2% Angers €210,000 -1.2%

Tours €197,500 -3,2%

Poitiers €150,000 -8.5%

Bordeaux €309,300 9.9%

From -2% to 2% More than 2%

Reims €214,900 6.8%

Île-de-France €302,600 2.8%

Chartres €204,500 -0.2%

Troyes €151,800 -1.8%

Limoges €148,000 -3.1%

Nîmes €190,000 -4.9%

Montauban €168,700 10.0%

Metz €187,000 -2.1% Nancy €173,000 -3.6%

Orléans €197,500 5.7% Saint-Étienne Châteauroux €182,500 €118,500 5.5% 11.3%

Toulouse €270,000 4.2%

Less than -2%

Lille €180,000 -2.2%

Amiens €148,100 -10.2%

Rouen €166,000 0.6%

Price evolution over a year

Dijon €212,400 1.1% Lyon €316,600 2.9%

Grenoble €297,000 4.2%

Toulon €360,000 5.9% Haute-Corse €220,000 -7.4%

Marseille/ Aix-en-Provence €310,600 2.5%

Montpellier €313,500 4.8%

Corse-du-Sud €384,800 13.8%

Connexion works with Notaires de France to produce these accurate selling prices. Prices used are mid-market and ‘older properties’ refers to properties more than five years old

Older flats

Mid-market price of older apartments by m2 in the first quarter of 2018. The percentage is the change from the same quarter of 2017

Amiens €1,830 -2.8%

Rennes €2,460 7.5%

Caen €1,860 5.2%

Rouen €2,220 7.9%

Orléans €1,850 -2.4% Bourges €1,180 7.9%

Poitiers €1,530 7.8% Limoges €1,160 3.5% Bordeaux €4,120 17.9% Bayonne €2,750 9.8% Less than -2% From -2% to 2% More than 2%

Paris €9,070 7.3%

Tours €2,140 3.1%

Nantes €2,730 3.9%

Limoges 136 000e -6,2%

ClermontFerrand €1,650 3.6%

Toulouse €2,540 0.1%

Price evolution over a year Metz

Lille €2,990 1.3%

Reims €2,090 9.4%

Montpellier €2,520 0.3%

Nancy €1,870 3.8% Strasbourg €2,490 2.5%

Mulhouse €1,040 3.7%

Saint-Étienne €840 -3.3% Nîmes €1,590 6.3%

€1,710 10.2%

Dijon €1,850 2.8%

Besançon €1,550 -4.1%

Lyon €3,790 10.5% Grenoble €2,040 -6.4%

Marseille €2,310 0.8%

Nice €3,650 4.2% Toulon €2,060 -2.4% Haute-Corse €2,330 1.4% Corse-du-Sud €2,890 -3.5%

The Connexion

September 2018

Property 39


Sun, sea and sand make for coastal boost Caution but high

hopes in Brittany

(April 2017 to March 2018) Photo: Manchot CC BY-SA 3.0

Evolution of median prices for older seaside flats and houses

Photo: Charlie Dave CC BY 2.0

KEY @ Older flats : Older houses

AFTER a year in 2017 where transaction volumes in Brittany reached record levels, the regional property market in 2018 has settled into a more ‘normal rhythm’. Buyers are still able to benefit from excellent finance and have no hesitation in chasing properties that fit their criteria, especially with regard to daily transport needs which drive up prices in larger towns. Across the region, prices are rising slightly or are stable with a rise of 4.1% in older flats in a year to reach a mid-market price of €2,220/m2 while new flats are slightly down, at -0.4% or €3,670/m2. Older houses are up 1.8% with the median price €168,000 and building land is also up, at 3.8% for a mid-market price of €104/m2. For the near future, changing government policies on state aid such as the Pinel tax reduction and 0%-interest loans mean some caution is needed but have already had the effect of making people re-target their savings. Several signs show that the market in 2018 should be on a good foundation as Bretons are keen to own their own homes, economic indicators such as mortgage rates, jobs and growth are bright and the region is still as attractive to live as ever.

Bordeaux prices not inflated by Parisians

Photo: Guillaume Baviere CC BY 2.0

COASTAL properties make up a diverse market that can be split between communes with mainly holiday homes where families might spend a large part of summer and weekends – or rent the property out for the holidays – and main homes for people who work locally. Communes with a large tourist potential and many second homes can obviously attract high average purchase prices, especially when buying confidence is good and will often hit more than €3,000/m2 and even reach €5,000/ m2 for in-demand locations such as Arcachon, Bandol or Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. The main resorts of the Riviera are at the top of the ranking due to the almost guaranteed sun – they have more than 300 days of sun a year – and the host of facilities that have been built up over the years but the Atlantic and Channel coast has its share. Mid-market prices per square metre in Arcachon are €5,170, while Biarritz has €4,690 for older flats, Deauville is at €4,420 and Le Touquet at €4,310. These prices confirm the attractiveness of the resorts but are more often seen in large cities far from the sea. Communes that have many main homes may be in less touristy locations and offer a more traditional market, similar to that across the rest of the country. Whether holiday or main home, one thing that most have in common is that like the French market in general the property market is on the up. There are disparities but, in

general, the trend is upward with mid-market prices for older apartments up 10% in Arcachon and Pornichet in a year, 9% in Saint-Malo and 6% in Sables d’Olonne and La Ciotat. Prices for older houses have risen sharply in some towns with properties in Saint-Malo selling for 15% more than 12 months

ago, Hyères up 13% and Agde and Concarneau both up 12%. Not all communes are sharing the benefits, however, and some are seeing prices falling – although moderately. Flats in Bastia, for instance, are down 8% on a year ago while Cherbourg-Octeville is down 6% and sellers in Riviera resort Saint-

Raphaël – just 60km from high-flying Hyères – are feeling under a cloud with prices over the past year down 3%. Houses, too, have been affected and prices in La Baule have fallen 8%, while Saint-Raphaël is again feeling the pinch with prices down 5% and owners in Atlantic resort Bisca­rrosse seeing a 2% fall.

PRICES have risen sharply in Bordeaux since the opening of the new TGV line to Paris in July 2017 with a continuing increase in people moving in but it is wrong to say – as is often claimed – that price increases are due to Parisians buying second homes. The scarcity of city-centre properties has boosted prices across the whole of Bordeaux with older flats up 14.6% in a year and 9.9% for older houses. This has dashed hopes for first-time buyers, even if continuing low interest rates do give some chance for a purchase. Notaires deny there is a ‘bubble’ with prices inflated by Paris buyers and say a look at buyers’ details shows Parisians account for the same number of owners in Bordeaux as in other towns – 7% and that this has been the case for several years. Any property market rise is due to the city’s attractiveness with flourishing tourism and urban improvements.

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The Connexion


September 2018

British teacher giving a future to Roma children British charity founder JANE BOUVIER told Oliver Rowland how she helps hundreds of Roma children to go to school

TEACHER Jane Bouvier was spurred into action to help migrant families after she saw a television report in 2012 about how a Roma shanty town in Marseille was set alight by an arsonist. She said: “I was shocked and decided to do something, although at the time I didn’t know what. But when I met the people I realised their children didn’t go to school. I had assumed somebody would be helping the parents make sure they went but it wasn’t the case.” Ms Bouvier, who speaks native-level French, is from Middlesbrough in north-east England but her family moved to Brussels when she was six and she came to Marseille 15 years ago where she met her French husband. She is a trained psychologist but was working as a part-time teacher in a school for disabled children before starting her association l’Ecole au présent. She now makes sure migrant children are enrolled in school and liaises between homes and schools. She said: “Every day a school will call – there might be issues about PT or the canteen, or behaviour, or there’s a meeting that parents need to attend. We do the formalities when the children move to collège and this year there are several

Jane Bouvier (back, right) takes Roma children to a Marseille football match going to lycée (age 16-18) which is very encouraging. When I started they just didn’t have the level for that.” Ms Bouvier said most of the people she helps have come from Romania, which they leave due to poverty. “They say they were discriminated against. Little by little they were pushed into the countryside after the end of the Communist regime. “They had no jobs. Here they can find enough in our bins to feed their families. They go through them all day, every day and clean and repair things they find and sell them at flea markets once or twice a week. They make €200-

“There was a big eviction on October 31 last year but I think now she has decided to respect the trêve, for the children. “The name of my association means ‘School now’ - whatever the families are going through, I want school to be present for the kids now. They’ve wasted enough time as it is.” The families are of the same ethnic background as Romany Gypsies but no longer have the travelling lifestyle of their ancestors, Ms Bouvier said. There are around 1,000 in Marseille, and other French cities with sizeable populations include Paris and Lyon.

300/month, which is an average salary in Romania. But they live in squats and bidonvilles.” They are regularly expelled, partly because of not being in formal employment (though they are able to come due to EU free movement rights). “I ask for a trêve scolaire – no expulsions between September and June, to allow the children to go to school.” Ms Bouvier said 2016 was especially hard. “They were turned out two or three or four times during the year and some children didn’t go back to school for more than a year. We now have a new prefect for equal opportunities.

She has now helped more than 400 children, mostly Roma plus some of other origins, and she said the families are keen for her help so their children have a future other than scavenging. “When I started I had to convince and reassure the parents but I don’t any more. They can see from other families that children at school are happy there and the teachers are kind and nice. “There is racism, obviously, but the teachers are really great. “Most of the parents never went to school or if they did it was a negative experience. Now they see their kids are like any ordinary Marseillaise children - and we take them to football at Stade Vélodrome [home to the Olympique de Marseille team].” She added: “The children make me proud all the time. There’s one, Soleda, a girl from one of the first families I met, who got a prize from the mayor for one of the most ‘deserving’ pupils and who is going to lycée this year. The family went back to Romania many times because of expulsions and each time she came back she would say ‘Jane give me something to read to see if I still can’. She’s entering a professional lycée to do dry cleaning, she’s happy and got her first lycée choice.” A volunteer now helps the parents look for work, she said. “Once they work it opens rights to family allowance and housing benefit. A lot of families live in apartments now, but it takes time – and the most important thing is the children need to go to school.”

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Profile for English Language Media Sarl

The Connexion 191 - September 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 191 - September 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper