Page 11

The Connexion

January 2019

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Dordogne named one of world’s most exciting places to visit

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The stunning Benedictine Abbey of Brantôme (above), on the banks of the Dronne in the Dordogne was one of the attractions mentioned in the National Geographic article. The abbey was founded in 769 by Charlemagne. According to legend, he donated relics of Saint Sicarius to the abbey. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times in the centuries that followed. Its Romanesque bell-tower is a competitor for the title ‘oldest in France’.

Exciting? Not really but many, many other reasons to love living here Connexion reporter Jane Hanks puts her long-held love of Dordogne into words I have lived in the Dordogne for 27 years and I love it. There are many beautiful places in France. Some are more spectacular, like the Alps. Others are more culturally vibrant, like nearby Bordeaux and Toulouse, or with more sun, but it is always good to get back to the Périgord. The combination of the rural landscape and the consistently beautiful architecture with its warm ochre stone makes

it a wonderful place to be. It is part of a Unesco biosphere reserve; chosen because there is no major industry or vast city to pollute the beauty of the department. National Geographic says it is one of the most “exciting” places to visit in the world. It is not the word I would use; no mind-blowing thrills here, rather an appreciation of the best things in life and a closeness to nature and history. Here are the famous painted prehistoric caves like Lascaux, the valley of the five chateaux, the medieval town of Sarlat and the river Dordogne at its most majestic. I never cease to enjoy the beauty of it each

time I have to drive anywhere, even for the most banal administrative appointment. I also love my Dordogne, which is the woodland just outside my back door. Trees cover 45% of the department and most of it is unmanaged and wild. It is a privilege to have such easy access to nature. Often, while out walking, I am rewarded by the site of deer feeding on grass. One bleak winter day, a magnificent stag walked across the track in front of me. Two days ago, a wild boar hurtled out of hiding. My family have always appreciated the river. Every summer we spend hours

either in, on or by it. The children learned to swim in its unpolluted waters and we have enjoyed many a barbecue on the beach. The Château de Commarque sums up the best of the Dordogne for me (see page 37) – centuries of human history hiding in the undergrowth to be revealed by the hard toil of a typically warm-hearted and generous local man. The Dordogne has a special rustic, earthy beauty. Black winter trees silhouetted against the sky. The richness of the greens in the summer. Underlying history everywhere. A mixture of stone and tree and earth.

Photo: Google

Levothyrox hearing moves to hall to fit in huge crowd of witnesses

Google honours French ‘father of deaf’ who worked to stop prejudice

Photo: Unknown / Public domain

GOOGLE has paid homage to CharlesMichel de l’Epée (right), who founded the first school for deaf children in Paris in 1760 and is seen as leading the way in deaf education. His methods spread throughout the world. A Google Doodle on its home page (above) featured an animation of children using sign language to spell “Google” to mark what would have been Abbé l’Epée’s 306th birthday. Born near Versailles in 1712, Abbé l’Épée (he trained as a priest) helped dispel the myth

that deaf people were incapable of learning. His work allowed deaf people to have an education and to defend themselves in court. Sign language existed among deaf people but he was the first French hearing person to take an interest in it and helped standardise French sign language by categorising the signs people used. He developed a visually-based educational system used in his free school, which after his death became a state institution, now the Institut national de jeunes sourds de Paris.

A COURT hearing in the case of controversial thyroid medication Levo­thyrox has opened in a concert hall as the Lyon Palais de Justice was too small for the 4,113 plaintiffs. The hearing began last month, with plaintiffs suing the drug manufacturer, German laboratory Merck, over a “lack of information about the medication’s controversial new formula”, which was introduced in France in spring 2017. It had to decamp to the Double Mixte concert hall in Villeurbanne. The new formula caused a scandal, with patients claiming the medicine no longer works. Around three million people take the formula in France and around 30,000 have reported side-effects. Reports of problems emerged in August 2017. Health Minister Agnès Buzyn then made the old formula of Levothyrox available, with almost half the 130,000 boxes selling out in two days. Further tests of the new one – including by French medical

safety body ANSM – found it to be of “good quality”, and it is still used. One ANSM study found side-effects were similar to those of the old formula but unexpectedly frequent. The new one was introduced on request from ANSM. It replaced inactive ingredient lactose, thought to have made the pills less effective over time, with another additive. However, some patients say it caused side-effects or the return of their thyroid problems, with symptoms such as depres­sion, fatigue, coldness, hair loss, shaking, headaches, vertigo, and even cancers. Victims’ association l’Association Française des Malades de la Thyroïde (AFMT) says its own tests found “anomalies in the composition” of the drug. Merck plans to roll the formula out across 21 Euro­ pean countries this year. Some opponents allege its enthu­siasm for it is linked to a much longer patent period, because the old one expires this year.

between a diététicien n Can I call emergency services in France from the and nutritionniste? UK (for a relative here)? n Is it law that officials must accept documents in n My tree’s branches fell into next door’s property – all EU languages now? do they still belong to me? n What charges are due on assurance vie withdrawals? n What is the difference

Equity release in France

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Photo: Monster1000 / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Dordogne has been named as one of National Geographic’s top five world’s most exciting destinations to visit this year because of its “picturesque and historic” attractions and culture. It appeared at five on a list of 28 destinations for 2019 and was dubbed “worth a trip” for its “defining beauty and wonder in south-western France”. National Geographic’s reporter Kimberley Lovato wrote: “I am crazily in love with everything about it: the prehistoric caves, the fairy-tale castles and the resilient locals.” Ms Lovato also cited good food, the mix of languages, and dialects such as Occitan. She gave a special mention to the traditional Félibrée festival, which celebrates the culture, music and history of the Occitanie, Périgord, and Langue d’Oc regions. This year it will take place in Périgueux.

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+ Paris’s Luxembourg gardens + Chocolate mousse recipes + France’s love of musicals These and many more practical tips and topics about life in France. Don’t miss out on a copy:

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The Connexion 195 - January 2019  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 195 - January 2019  

France's English-Language Newspaper