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6 Gardens/Green news

French Living I January 2019

Green-fingered generosity in 2018


he year 2018 has been another success for Open Gardens/ Jardins Ouverts, which has donated €25,000 to charity, €1,500 more than last year. It means that since it was created in 2013, the association has been able to hand out €75,550 in total. 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. There are now 151 gardens signed up and the scheme is present in 35 departments and it encourages gardeners of all nationalities to open up their gardens, big and small to the public. Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year or pay €5 for a Day Pass which allows access to any of the gardens on the day of purchase. There is also the €35 Partner Gardens card, which gives access to privately owned gardens as well as a growing list of prestigious French gardens, which are offering Open Garden members free entry. 40% of gardens are French owned and it has been welcomed with open arms by one of France’s most prestigious gardening shows, the bi-annual Journées des Plantes de Chantilly, held in the grounds of the château de Chantilly, north-west of Paris. During the show in October, there was a ceremony to hand over the money raised to two of this years fifteen charities, A Chacun son Everest and Quelque Chose en Plus. The main beneficiary from the start has been, A Chacun son Everest which runs courses in the Alps to help children and women who are in remission from cancer but need help restoring their confidence after treatment. It received €15,000. Among the other fourteen charities is Dauphin Corse, which received €1,000. It gives financial help towards the treatment of individuals who have an illness or a handicap and in particular to fund unforeseen costs, such as an expensive cure only available in a foreign country. It is run by an extraordinary man, who has overcome his own handicap and now wishes to help others do the same. Thierry Corbalan, from Ajaccio,

Time to clean your car? The Assemblée Nationale has voted to tighten penalties for polluting motor vehicles, a measure which aims to encourage the acquisition of so-called “clean” vehicles. The car penalty “defines a tax additional to the tax on vehicle registration certificates on the basis of their carbon dioxide emissions”, according to the finance bill for 2019. A key amendment was the lowering of the threshold for the application of the penalty to 117g of carbon dioxide per km, from the current 120g. The government says it hopes to generate additional revenue of €31 million, which it says will to help finance, and potentially increase, the buyer’s ‘conver-

Mick Moat, centre, at the Chantilly cheque-giving ceremony; Inset and below: Dauphin Corse’s Thierry Corbalan, and with Chloé Verbauwe

Corsica, used to work for the police, but lost both his arms and a toe after a fishing expedition, when his carbon rod touched an electricity line as he crossed a bridge over a railway line. He had always loved sport and was three times vice-judo champion for France Police. So just months after his accident he started running, and then turned to swimming with a mono-flipper and set himself astonishing challenges. In 2017 he swam 80km non-stop between Montecristo in Italy and Bastia in Corsica, which took him 26 hours. This year he was one of a team of four who swam around Corsica. He used to raise money through his challenges for other charities, but in 2012 he decided to set up his own. “I will help anyone who has a story which touches me and where I think I can help. Recently it was for a man in his sixties who has gallbladder cancer and the only treatment available was in Germany where he had to fund the operation himself. A lady from Guadeloupe Photo: Pixabay

Green news

Photos: Fondation Claude Monet

Jane Hanks speaks to the founder of Open Gardens about another successful year and meets a remarkable beneficiary

I have found that there are many, many people who are willing to give up their time for nothing Mick Moat, Open Gardens founder

sion bonus’. It has also called on manufacturers to help with some of the costs. You can see details of current levels of ‘bonus’ – including up to €2,500 for the purchase of an electric car – at New eco post for airport politician Nicole Klein, Prefect of Loire-Atlantique and the Pays-de-la-Loire region, was due to retire at the end of November. But instead, at the age of 66, she became the new Chief of Staff of Nantes-born François de Rugy, who was appointed Minister of Ecological Transition last September, replacing Nicolas Hulot. Mrs Klein had previously impressed ministers with how she handled the shelving of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes new airport plan, and she will now be dealing with equally thorny subjects as conflicts with France’s powerful hunting

who has a rare tumour needed to come to Marseille and we paid to enable her husband to accompany her. For some years we have supported a young girl, Chloé Verbauwe, who is unable to walk and her family cannot pay for all the costly materials she needs.” In 2019 he will be sixty and plans to swim 60km in Lac Léman. He trains by swimming every day of the year in the sea as the majority of the money given out by the association is raised by Thierry Corbalan himself. However he also has partners like Open Gardens and he says he is very grateful for the support he has had since Mick Moat first contacted him. The other charities that Open Gardens supports are Quelque chose en Plus, €1,500, a centre for young people with disabilities; Réseau Bulle, €1,000, a network of assistance and mutual support for families and individuals affected by autism; Costello Syndrome, €1,000, gives help for those with a rare disease which manifests itself in the first months of life and results lobby, the limitation of pesticides in agriculture, the future of the French nuclear fleet and the conversion of coal-fired power plants. ‘Funnel’ lake dries up due to drought A lake in the Doubs department of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté has completely dried up due to the ongoing drought affecting parts of France, resulting in thousands of dead fish. Due to mud hazards (a walker recently got stuck), visitors are no longer permitted at Lake Bouverans, which is also known as ‘The Funnel’. The surface area and water levels of the lake already change frequently throughout the year, due to the underground drainage network on which it is located. The region has been particularly affected by the lack of rainfall this year, with 35 municipalities getting their supply by

in growth and mental retardation; Bouée d’Espoir, €1,000, eases the difficulties and despair of those at increasing risk of marginalisation by helping to set them back on a positive path in life. A Bras Ouverts, €1,000, organises holidays for young people and children with disabilities; Chiens Guides €500, trains and allocates guide dogs for blind and partially sighted people; Marfan Syndrome, €500, helps those with a genetic disorder which affects heart, lungs, skin, blood vessels, bones, joints and eyes and can be life-threatening; Rigolopito, €500, clowns put a smile on the faces of children in hospital; and the following are new this year; Dessine moi un mouton, €500, for families and children with serious illnesses; Rayon de Soleil, €500, to help with financial costs for families with children with serious illnesses such as cancer; MS, Sclérose en Plaques, €500, multiple sclerosis; Les P’tits Doudous d’Aliénor, €500, support for children at Le Mans hospital and APTED, €500, support group for people with neuroendocrine tumours. Next year will see a change as founding member and President, Mick Moat is leaving France, as his wife wishes to live nearer family in the UK. A new President will be chosen at the AGM in February and Mr Moat says he is very sad to leave, but supremely confident that the people taking over will do a good job. He says it has been a wonderful experience: “Doing something like this renews your faith in humanity. I have found out that there are many, many people who are willing to give up their time for nothing and help those less fortunate than themselves.” He says he is proud that nearly 50% of their gardens are now French owned: “It is a tribute to the British that they have introduced something new to the French culture, and a tribute to the French that they have received this new idea with open arms.” He says he hopes more gardeners will join the scheme: “Our target for next year is 200 gardens. We are always looking for more gardeners so welcome anyone who wants to join. More open gardens means more money for charity.” mobile water tank. Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume has said that an agricultural disaster plan will be put in place for all departments affected by the drought. Swimmer swam in ‘plastic soup’ A long-distance swimmer who completed a tour of France, has said that he swam in ‘plastic soups’ in some areas. Rémi Camus told the France 5 programme C politique, la suite, that two places were particularly bad, both of them in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques: the entrance to the port of Bayonne, and Hendaye, right next to the border with Spain. He said that about “700-800 metres” from the coast, there is plastic in the water three metres thick and 40 kilometres long. “There was an open dump on the Spanish coast that would be used when sea conditions were favourable.”

Profile for English Language Media Sarl

The Connexion 195 - January 2019  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 195 - January 2019  

France's English-Language Newspaper