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BRITTANY PAGES September 2011 - Issue 2


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What’s on

Free thinker

Ideal home

Events across the region p6

Woman who aids p16 hostages

You could build it p8 yourself

Full speed ahead Photo © SNCF Médiathèque - Philippe Fraysseix


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2 News

With a story, email: brittany@ (please include a daytime contact number) With a subscription or advert query call: From France: 0800 91 77 56 (freephone) From UK: 0844 256 9881 (4p per minute) or by email: sales@ The Advertiser is published by: English Language Media Sarl, Le Vedra, 38 rue Grimaldi, 98000 Monaco. Directrice de la publication: Sarah Smith. Printed at Nice-M Matin, 214 Route de Grenoble, 06290 Nice Cedex 3. Environmental policy The Advertiser is printed on recycled newspaper, using a printing company which adheres to stringent regulations to reduce pollution. Mensuel Depôt légal – a parution ISSN: en cours, CPPAP en cours

High hopes for the new high-speed railway line Brittany will soon get fast access to dozens of European cities, but not everyone wants it, reports


WORK will soon begin on extending the highspeed rail network from Le Mans to Rennes, providing Brittany with a link to many more major European cities. “This great railway project will create one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe, running for 360km between Paris and the west of France,” says Hubert du Mesnil, president of the rail network company Réseau Ferré de France (RFF). Construction is expected to take about five years, with engineering work starting at the end of 2012. The new Bretagne-Pays de la Loire ligne de grand vitesse will extend the Paris-Le Mans branch of LGV Atlantique to Rennes by a fur-

ther 214km. The transport minister, Thierry Mariani, the RFF president and representatives from Brittany and Pays de la Loire, signed an agreement confirming the public finance package in July. The €3.3 billion contract for construction and maintenance of the line was assigned to RFF and Eiffage. RFF will contribute almost 42% of the total, €1.4 billion, with the remaining 58% to be co-financed by the government and by regional authorities. The proportion paid will depend on the benefits received. Of the total cost, Brittany will contribute €858 million and Pays de la Loire €86.9 million. The project has already benefited from €11 million in EU funding. Eiffage Rail Express (ERF), an Eiffage subsidiary, will build and maintain the high-speed line between Le Mans and Rennes, along with connections to an additional 32km of the existing rail network. The SNCF forecasts an increase in passengers of 40% in 2020. ERF says that more than 10,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the new high-speed line, which is due to be completed by the autumn of 2016. The company has promised more than 30% of the work will go to local firms. When the first TGVs were put into service more than 30 years ago, environmental issues were not considered as important as they are now. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the new LGV has not been met with unanimous support, and there have been protests from groups such as the Fédération ALTO (Alternative aux Nouvelles Lignes de TGV Ouest), which has challenged the building of the new line. ALTO argues that the time saved will not justify the huge costs or the environmental impact of the work. It believes a cheaper option would be to improve existing lines, at an estimated cost of €400 million, rather than building a new high-speed line. But those in favour of the project believe that even with the energy consumption of highspeed trains, the LGV network will still be environmentally sound when compared to short-haul or medium-distance air travel, or the use of private cars. They point out the convenience of faster centre-to-centre journey times on the TGV network and believe the rail network could compete with air travel if the prices are not too high. This would result in fewer domestic

Photo © David Monniaux

Contact us

September 2011

A TGV at Rennes station: by 2017 it will be able

Photo © SNCF Médiathèque - Philippe Fraysseix


Brittany Pages

Above left: TGV Atlantique travelling between flights and the possible closing down of some air routes, which would reduce damage caused to the environment by air travel. When the new line opens, journey times will be cut by 37 minutes between Paris and Rennes and by an hour between Paris and Brest and Paris and Quimper. Rennes will also gain a more direct link to other French centres, such as Lyon, Marseille and MassyCharles-de-Gaulle. In addition, there will be quick and easy access to a dozen European cities via Paris or Lille. A link at Sablé-sur-Sarthe will provide a bypass around Le Mans for trains to Nantes In November 2010 a survey was undertaken in Brittany and Paris to look at the expected economic effects of the LGV. The Network of Planning Agencies of Brittany (Réseau des

Plans are little benefit STAFFORD AND JENNY TAYLOR have been running the B&B and gîte Manoir de Coat Amour in Morlaix, Finistère, since 2005. We asked them if they thought the new rail connection would make a difference to their lives. Do many of your guests use the train to come to you? No, most customers use the plane. We cannot tell in percentage terms how many arrive by train, but it is relatively few. Our clients tend to be from abroad and they find it easier to

rent a car locally. A few from the UK arrive by train, but they often regret it as it takes too long. Most fly to Brest, Dinard or Rennes, or they come by ferry to Roscoff, Saint-Malo or Caen. Others from the south-east of the UK will use the Channel Tunnel. What impact do you expect on your business? Potentially we expect to have more customers coming from Paris, but we are not expecting the new high-speed train to bring us more from the UK.

News 3

September 2011

to carry passengers to and from Paris in less than an hour and a half

THE SURVEY carried out last November by the planning agencies in Brittany revealed a common concern based on greater competition in the frequency, timetables and prices of the new trains. At the moment, 20 TGVs stop daily in Rennes and large Breton cities get six to nine TGVs per day, while smaller ones have two to four a day. Those surveyed wanted timetables changed to suit a greater number of customers. They particularly wanted more flexible early-morning trains, from 06.00 to 09.00. They also wanted timetables to allow for a working day to start at 09.00 in Paris or Brittany. This is only possible at present on trains to and from Rennes. The same logic applies to better evening timetables, with demands for trains leaving Paris between 17.00 and 18.00. This would make it possible for commuters and tourists to arrive at the tip of Brittany before 21.30 on a Thursday or Friday evening. SNCF has not yet released new timetables, but it has announced that there will be two additional daily return trips to Paris from the main stations in Brittany. The increase in train fares is among the concerns expressed by those interviewed. High prices on the TGV from from Paris to

Demand for more trains, good prices Photo RFF

Brittany Pages

Brest, for example, mean the train cannot compete with low-cost flights. Suggestions were made to develop specific deals – for leisure, business and weekend packages, perhaps – to attract more customers. Better access to stations, more parking spaces and improved access to mobile and internet networks are also on the list of requests. SNCF has announced that 10 stations will undergo significant changes, with new or reorganised infrastructures, and the introduction of new services. The tourism industry will

also need to improve facilities to cope with the new flow of visitors. The construction of better mid- and high-end hotel facilities close to railway stations remains a priority, especially for business people. Big problems remain on the routes between stations, major tourist sites and ferry terminals. For instance, there is a lack of public transport service to Mont Saint-Michel, Quiberon, the Presqu’île de Rhuys and south of Cornouaille. The ferry terminals at Roscoff and Saint-Malo also need better connections to railway stations.

Got a query about life in France? Photo © Donatienne Guillaudeau

Connexion, has a series of helpguides on the subjects that matter to you

Morlaix and Brest.

Above right: Rennes station, soon to be a high-speed hub

agences d’urbanisme de Bretagne) interviewed 240 professionals in business, tourism, culture, education and research. Most agreed with Hubert du Mesnil that the LGV “will be a benefit for economic development and the attractiveness of the areas it serves”. The vast majority of those surveyed believed the LGV would have a positive impact in three main areas: high-tech industries, higher education and research, tourism and culture. The tourism industry expected to see strong benefits from the new LGV, although most visitors to Brittany, whether on business or on holiday, do not travel by train. According to the Departmental Committee of Finistère, only 14% of visitors to the region travel on the rail network. The TGV is best suited for short stays, especially “city-breakers”,

for visitors Are you satisfied with the timetable and prices currently offered on the TGV? If you book ahead, you can get a sensible price and taking the train is a comfortable alternative to flying or driving. But if you want to book a trip for tomorrow, it is expensive. And taking the train is only just quicker than driving . What is the ideal journey time from Paris for your customers? ASAP!

those who frequently leave large cities to relax for a few days. The impact of the high-speed line on the property market is also expected to be high in a region where property prices have driven economic development. Brittany is one of the most attractive French regions in which to live, both for people who have retired and for those still working. The construction of the LGV is expected to result in higher property prices in the region, particularly on the coast and near railway stations. Not everyone, however, welcomes the possibility of rising property prices. Local families have already been forced to move away from the coast and they fear an increased demand for second homes would make it even harder for them to to buy a house they can afford.

The LGV in figures 182km of new line between Le Mans and Rennes by 2017 48.5km in Ille-et-Vilaine, 59km in Mayenne and 74.5km in Sarthe €3.3 billion budget Estimated travel times: Paris-Rennes: 1h26 Paris-Nantes: 1h53 Paris-Saint-Malo: 2h09 Pari-Saint-Brieuc: 2h15 Paris-Brest: 3h08 Paris-Quimper: 3h08 Lille-Rennes: 3h20

Our guides address questions about everyday life in France that we regularly receive. These include how to fill out a French income tax form, local taxes, residential care homes in France, employing help at home such as a gardener and letting out your French home to tourists.



For more information visit or order by calling (free from France) 0800 91 77 56 or from UK 0844 256 9881 (4p/min)

4 News THERE is some good news for property owners in Brittany. Sales have returned to 2007 levels, according to Breton notaries. There are, however, marked variations depending on the area and the type of property. In urban areas, sale prices of apartments and houses

have been increasing. In Rennes, prices have reached an average of €2,180 per m2, a 6% increase, and in Vannes the increase is almost as much, while in Saint-Brieuc it is €1,200 per m2. But it’s not all good news. Second home ownership and new apartments are proving

Hopeful economic signs THERE are signs of economic recovery in Morbihan. Three indicators were favourable in July, with a 50% reduction in redundancies, a significant drop in the use of partial unemployment, and declining requests for the averaging of fiscal and social debts. Activity in the construction sector has recovered and the shipbuilding sector has a satisfactory workload plan for the coming months, according to the Prefecture. The unemployment rate is stable at 8.2%.

less popular. The Scellier law, which gave tax reductions up to 37% on a 2010 newbuild property, made sales soar at the end of that year, but they fell back again at the beginning of 2011. Only large conurbations still have a strong market for new apartments. The largest sales increase has been in Côtes d’Armor, where there has been a rise of 6% in a year. Prices in Finistère and Ille-et-Vilaine have seen a 2-3% increase, while those in Morbihan remained stable. In Finistère and Morbihan, existing apartments are not selling as well as they used to, and the price per square metre has fallen by 1-10%.

Broadband speeds up THE LAST “white” areas of Finistère, that is those areas without a high-speed internet connection, will soon get broadband. This will give access to 40,000 inhabitants through the public initiative network Penn Ar Bed Numérique. The President of the General Council, Pierre Maille, visited the Bernard family in Briec-del’Odet in June, the first home to benefit from this development. Marie-Françoise Bernard is delighted: “Before, I could drink a coffee a new page would load,” she says. “Now I can develop the booking site for my gîte.” With the widespread use of triple play offers

(internet, unlimited landline use and television), and soon quadruple play offers (to include mobile phones), the need for broadband internet continues to grow. Over the past five years, the speeds of DSL technologies have been multiplied by 40, up from 512kb to 20mb per second. The General Council is now thinking of the next stage – fibre optics. “We voted on June 23 to allocate €300 million for the installation of this technology in Brittany,” said Pierre Maille. Find more information on 0811 88 29 29 or online at

Eco-friendly catamaran MANY tourists worry about the environment. This is why the Arzon Office, the Amis de Port-Navalo and the Crouesty Yacht Club are planning to commission a boat powered by solar panels to allow tourists to see the Golfe du Morbihan in silence and without polluting. They are thinking of a catamaran capable of carrying 12 passengers to areas currently inaccessible by tourist boats. The new boat would approach resident and migratory birds and enable the discovery of marshes, mudflats and oyster beds in a more respectful way.

Futuristic art gallery for Rennes

September 2011

FRAC, the Regional Fund for Contemporary Art (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain) will open an ambitious new building next year in the Beauregard district of Rennes, after 10 years of construction work and

Pop-up store in Brest CHRONOSTOCK opened its 65th shop in Brest in July. This chain of temporary stores operates in France and Belgium, selling branded kitchenware and other household goods at 20-50% below recommended retail price. The Brest store will close at the end of January 2012, but another temporary shop may open elsewhere in Brest or in another Breton city, according to Chronostock’s co-founder Bruno Poncet. It depends on whether suitable unoccupied city-centre premises become available.

White lion cubs born A RARE event took place at the Pont-Scorff zoo this summer when four white lion cubs were born. They may look like kittens, but soon they will be as big as their 150kg mother or 210kg father. The pair of white lions came from South Africa to Pont-Scorff last winter. The cubs will eventually go to other zoos to prevent the problems of inbreeding.

Information for women THE Centre for Information on Women’s Rights, CIDFF, has re-established itself in Morbihan, having been forced to close in 2010. The new association received government approval in June. In Vannes and Lorient, the CIDFF provides legal information to women and helps them search for jobs. It also welcomes victims of violence. The CIDFF will have a presence in Lanester from this autumn and later on in Pontivy and Ploërmel. CIDFF tel 02 97 63 52 36

Miss France in Brest MISS FRANCE 2012 will be elected in Brest, birthplace of 2011 winner Laury Thilleman, the first Miss France from Brittany for 50 years. TF1 will broadcast from the Parc de Penfeld in front of 4,000 spectators on December 3.

Treasures of Crozon recognised contribution from the EU. THE geological treasures The project is also helping of the Presqu’île de Crozon the Maison des minéraux are to enter the circle of (House of minerals) of SaintEspaces remarquables de Hernot out of its financial Bretagne, the outstanding difficulties. The museum is areas of Brittany. The Presqu’île de Crozon is an open air Paleozoic museum that traces 500 million years of geological history in Brittany. It now joins 26 sites selected in the region. Brittany can also classify sites as regional nature reserves, to preserve their heritage and promote tourism. Six emblematic Breton landscapes already benefit from this label, including the Sillon de Talbert Mineral-rich: Pointe de Saint-Hernot and the moors of suffering from a structural Cragou and Vergam. Now deficit of €5,000 each year. Crozon has been designated The mayor of Roscanvel, the seventh of this group. Patrick Le Guillou, welcomed The overall annual budget is the museum’s chance “to start €72,000-€107,000, mostly anew on solid foundations” as coming from the region, with an educational showcase. General Council funds and a Photo © Jean-Patrick Gratien

Mixed news on property

Photo © Odile Decq - Labtop

Brittany Pages

Cheap flights from Air France FROM October 2, Air France will offer flights between Brest and Marseille as part of 13 new direct routes from the southern hub. The move is a response to competition from low-cost airlines. The company wants to offer “attractive prices while retaining the services of Air France.” One-way tickets from €50 will include all taxes. Ryanair says it plans to relaunch its BrestMarseille and Nantes-Marseille routes from the end of October.

Brittany Pages

News 5

September 2011

a €15 million budget. It will provide large exhibition spaces for contemporary artists working in Brittany and elsewhere in France, as well as for international artists. The new building will

Did you know?

host more than 4,000 works over 5,000 m². Conservation, documentation and education facilities will be provided. There will also be open public spaces, such as a café, a bookshop and information points.

World championships in Presqu’île de Rhuys

Photo © Office de Tourisme de Sarzeau

Photo © Victoria Bizet

BRETONS are known for their individuality and nowhere is this seen more clearly than in their sports. Two world championships were held on the same day in June in the Presqu’île de Rhuys in the Golfe de Morbihan. The third World Mud Racing Championship was held at Le Hézo. About 50 competitors raced 200 metres over mudflats in “clogs”, or boards attached to rubber boots. It may look funny but it is very hard work, and several people got bogged down in the Moulin mudflats, enjoying the odd free facial. Drawing on a local Sturdy men in clogs in Le Hézo, racing bathtubs in Port de Logeo tradition dating from this world event. Some of ticipants took part in groups the last century, the race these strange little boats of five tubs at a time, each began as a game between were unstable and capsized with one or two people on fishermen, before becoming before reaching the dock. board. It might look easy a world-class competition. By the end of the day, but it certainly wasn’t. Meanwhile, in the Port de seven races had been held “Keeping balance is diffiLogeo in Sarzeau, the and all the winners received cult,” said one of the brave Bathtub Sea Race was a shiny gold medals. competitors inaugurating world premiere. Forty par-

Car-sharing in Nantes MARGUERITE, the car sharing service of Nantes, is growing. It has opened two new docking station terminals, one in front of the Chantenay mairie, and the other on the Ile de Nantes. The service allows flexible access to a car for at least an hour, 24/7. Marguerite now has 520 subscribers and 20 stations, mainly in the city centre of Nantes. It aims to reduce the use of cars in the city and to replace the second car of households in Nantes.

Borrow toys in Brest A TOY library will open in Brest in September, with nearly 6,000 games for children and adults. There will be space for workshops, tournaments, parties and team-building events. For €15 a year, members can take a game out for three weeks or, for no charge, they can play in the 500 m2 library at 231 Rue Jean-Jaurès.

Aubry plans to revisit SHE came to Finistère in July for the Entre Terre et Mer festival in Morlaix, and now Martine Aubry is coming back in September. The Socialist presidential candidate will take part in the Fête de la Rose, organised by the Socialist Party, on September 11 in Moëlan-sur-Mer.

Crackdown on speeders in Morbihan DRIVERS tempted to speed in Morbihan this summer may find themselves arrested sooner than expected. Under new legislation, the Morbihan rapid intervention brigade have acquired a powerful new car capable of catching motorists at speeds up to 250 km per hour. The Mercedes CLS coupé, valued at €66,300, can reach 246 km per hour in just 14 seconds, and the vehicle now in the possession of Morbihan police was seized from a reckless driver. “He was driving without a license,” said Captain Emmanuel Bougon. “The vehicle has now been assigned to us, and we will use it to fight certain types of risky behaviour, such as the use of mobile phones while driving, overtaking dangerously, or non-compliance with safety distances.” The guidance and planning for homeland security bill (Le projet de Loi d’orientation et de programmation pour la

performance de la sécurité intérieure – Loppsi), adopted in the National Assembly, allows property to be seized from certain offenders by the police or gendarmerie who lead the investigation. In this case, the property seized has been put to good use by the police in making the roads of Morbihan safer. The annual fuel cost for the Mercedes CLS 350 CDI is €1,368, based on covering an estimated 15,000 km over the year. It will be used with another sports car, a Subaru Impreza, in the rapid response brigade. Both the German Mercedes and the Japanese Subaru Impreza, however, will soon be replaced by Renaults. The French cars have been chosen to equip the gendarmerie, so this summer, 65 Mégane RS have been issued to the police throughout France. The Mégane can reach 270kph, and is much faster than either the Mercedes or the Subaru.

Four stars for Brittany Ferries READERS of Which? magazine have voted Brittany Ferries the best ferry company in a customer satisfaction survey published in July. The survey looked at nine ferry companies operating from the UK, polling 2,159 readers, all of whom had travelled by ferry in the last two years. Readers gave the company four stars for overall satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, ease of booking, on-board facilities, comfort and cleanliness of the ships.

6 What’s On

Brittany Pages

Côtes d’Armor

September 2011

Hillion to Saint-Brieuc Photo: © Kévin Desplanques -


notice board

Dis Want members in a tug-of-war at the annual village games cial events in the holidays. The annual vide grenier, organised by David, has a mix of high quality goods on offer, as well as local producers selling delicious food. The event usually attracts more than 500 people, with all profits going to the local parent teacher association, amicale laïque. The Dis Want annual membership fee is €20, with members paying their own way at special events, such as restaurant meals or theatre tickets. A typical evening meeting begins with a discussion of future arrangements, and moves on to topical or cultural events, taking in anything else members wish to talk about. For more information visit the blog: or contact the president Pauline Bruce on 02 98 78 20 02.

Community events this month September 3-4 (Saturday afternoon from 14.00 and Sunday from 10.00): Portes Ouvertes sur le Sport (sports open day) at the Salle Omnisport, Dinan. Sign up for your children or yourself: rugby, swimming, ballet, archery, badminton… September 6 (from 12.30): Royal British Legion monthly social meeting at Relais de L’Oust, Rue de Pontivy, Josselin. Meet new friends, buy books, videos and DVDs. All proceeds donated to RBL Branch Funds. Call 02 97 38 74 13. September 10 (15.00-19.00): Christ Church Brittany Summer Fête at Maison Mère des Frères, 1 Boulevard Foch, Ploërmel. FREE admission. Stalls with plants, cakes, bric-à-brac, crafts, books, games, tombola, clay modelling. Live music and bell-ringing demonstration. Call Barbara Dunford on 02 97 27 19 37.

September 10 (from 20.00): A l'écoute du brame (Association Promenons-nous dans les Bois), Saint-Fiacre. Spend an evening listening to the calls of deer in the breeding season. A night stroll will take you to places where bucks roam in search of does. Advance booking required. Call 02 96 74 46 27 or 02 96 11 00 09. September 18 (from 08.30): The ninth Course Rémy Corfmat Leucémie espoir (Rémy Corfmat Leukaemia Hope Race) organised by UCLH. Start at Halle de Locastel, Inzinzac-Lochrist. For cyclists the distances are 60, 65 and 90 km, for mountain bikers distances of 15km to 35km, and there is also the option of hiking (start at about 10.00). All registration fees will go to the Association Leucémie Espoir 56. Call 02 97 36 01 16.

Profile: Tax advice for new arrivals JENNIE Poate advises expats newly arriving in France on how their UK based investments and pensions will be taxed in this country and how they can make the most of the French regulations. Ms Poate is the regional manager for Brittany, Normandy and Picardy for financial and tax advice company Siddalls. Ms Poate who was an independent financial adviser in the UK, bought a house to renovate in Normandy nine years ago and has a good level of French. Promote your community event, send details to

Côtes d’Armor Mûr de Bretagne OTHER September 10-11– Foire régionale biologique - Discover one of the largest organic farming shows in the west of France – it attracted 13,000 visitors last year.You will find 250 exhibitors showing food and wine, crafts, fashion, plants, alternative health, renewable energy and environmental safety. Many activities on offer, including organic meals and a fest-noz on Saturday evening. Call 02 96 28 51 41 or 02 96 26 09 15

Côtes d’Armor

Côtes d’Armor Saint-Quay-Portrieux September 10-11 – OTHER Marathon photo Amateur and experienced photographers of all ages are invited to take part in a 12-hour photo marathon, starting at 07.30 in Saint-Quay-Portrieux. Participants will be given six surprise themes in the morning and they can take a maximum of two photos for each theme. Prizes of €1,500, shared between three winners, will be given on Sunday morning.There is a €50 registration fee, which includes film, photo processing, printing and tea breaks. Advance registration required. Call 02 96 70 80 80 or 02 96 70 47 44, or see Saint-Quay-Portrieux web site,


Saint-Brieuc MUSIC


Photo: © Joyce11 -

A MIXED nationality discussion group called Dis Want Scrignac was formed four years ago to improve communication between new and existing residents of the village. Its name comes from the Breton word diwan, meaning a Breton school, the French word dis for “speak”, and the English word “want”, conveying the group’s aim to talk to each other. “It’s a small but interesting group with about 24 members,” said David Rosemont, a founding member of Dis Want. “There are French people from different parts of France, as well as British newcomers,” he added. “Dis Want is for people who want to make contacts in the community, and to make a contribution to village life.” Dis Want meets on Monday evenings at Scrignac school in term time, and members meet for outings and spe-

September 9 – Baie de Saint-Brieuc:Traversée Nocturne - Explore nature at the Baie de Saint-Brieuc at night with a guide. A unique experience that will let you to see the bay that never sleeps from a different angle.The walk, which is four kilometres long, will start at the Plage de Lermot in Hillion at 21.00 and last for three hours.You will end up at the Plage du Valais in Saint-Brieuc and return by bus. €5-€9. Advance booking required. Bring a flashlight. Call 02 96 32 27 98 or see

Photo: Kirsten Claire

Discussion group aims to cross three language barriers


Photo: © Ric&Mile -

September 30 (20.00) – Zazie concert Four years after her triumphant Totem Tour, singer-songwriter Zazie hits the road again in 2011 for a national tour, where she will sing from her repertoire, including songs from her long-awaited seventh album Za7ie. Zazie decided to record this new album in her own home, working seven days a week, writing on seven themes of everyday life… a full 49 songs.Tickets from Saint-Brieuc Tourism Office and usual outlets. €43, €13 for unemployed. Call 02 47 49 80 03 or see



September 3-4 – Triathlons de la Presqu'île The Triathlons of the Peninsula are held annually on the first weekend of September. About 100 competitors meet at Saint-Pierre-Quiberon for a triathlon on the Saturday, a sprint race on the Sunday morning and a short distance race in the afternoon. For the first time this year, there will be separate ranking for young athletes. In the evening you are welcome to join a pasta party. Call 06 08 60 68 07 or see

September 10 – Initiation à la pêche à la canne - dans le Golfe du Morbihan au Bono. A day to introduce you to the art of angling.You can realise your dream of becoming a fisherman at the Vieux Pont du Bono (old Bono bridge) where you will learn about all the appropriate equipment, baits and fish.You will also learn about environmental issues surrounding fishing so you can fish sustainably and respectfully. Advance booking required. Adult €2 (fishing equipment provided). Call 06 30 17 43 81

Brittany Pages

What’s On 7

September 2011


Photo: © Championnat de Bretagne de Musique Traditionnelle - Gourin

Gourin MUSIC





September 2-4 – Championnat de Bretagne de Musique Traditionnelle - The Championship of Traditional Music of Brittany is held each year at Tronjoly in Gourin. Since 1956, the best players of the biniou-bombarde and cornemuse-bombarde bagpipes come to fight it out for the title Champion de Bretagne. And that’s not all: there are dance competitions and fest-noz over the weekend, as well as exhibitions of Breton cultural heritage, including painting, traditional crafts and storytelling. Adult €6-€9 (FREE entry on Saturday), FREE entry for under 15s. Call 02 97 23 55 81 or see


Photo: © Guy Le Cornec

September 17 – The Notre-Dame de Rumengol is a 1945 listed barge moored in Brest. This 22-metre boat, which used to carry freight, now accommodates up to 27 people on sea outings. On September 17, you can enjoy a day trip from Brest to Châteaulin, accompanied by three sailors (return by bus). €55 including coach return. Call 02 98 20 06 58 or see

Poullaouën CULTURE

September 15-18 – Nuit de la Gavotte - This is now an important event in the cultural life of central Brittany. Held in Poullaouën, it brings together more than1,000 people around the theme of the gavotte, a traditional folk dance. Get ready to tap your feet for hours on end, attend music workshops, a cabaret evening and much more besides. €6-€30 (prices to be confirmed). FREE entry on September 15. Call 06 85 04 60 81 or see

Photo: © Guy Le Cornec


Photo: © Championnat de Bretagne de Musique Traditionnelle - Gourin

Photo: ©

Le Conquet


September 17 – Journée mondiale de nettoyage du littoral - Ar Viltansou is a non-profit organisation which aims to raise public awareness about the impact of waste on the coastline and in the sea. Every September they organise the International Coastal Cleanup Day.You can volunteer to clean up the beaches of Blancs-Sablons and Ria du Conquet (meet at 13.30 Place de Manigod, Le Conquet) or check Ocean Conservancy’s websites for other beaches in Brittany. Bring a good pair of gloves, boots and bags. Call 06 11 81 58 83 or see or

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September 11-12 – Solidor Métiers d'Art Some 40 professional craftsmen and young artists will display collections of jewellery, painting, pottery, clothing and art at this year’s seventh Solidor show. Start at the foot of the Tour Solidor, and don’t miss demonstrations and talks given by the artists.There will be a design competition around a surprise theme on Sunday. Call 06 71 58 18 64 or see or

Ille-et-Vilaine Hédé-Bazouges


Photo: ©

September 16-18 – Jazz aux Ecluses - After the success of the 2010 event, which attracted 15,000 spectators, Jazz aux Ecluses continues to lead the public in the discovery or re-discovery of a variety of jazz styles, from traditional (blues, New Orleans) to bebop and modern jazz. Music lovers and the merely curious of all ages are invited to celebrate jazz in this unique spot, the 11 locks of Hédé-Bazouges on the Canal d’Ille et Rance between Rennes and Saint-Malo. As well as free and paid concerts, you can also enjoy listening to music in the middle of these natural surroundings and get to know the musicians and regional artists. FREE and paying concerts (€5-€22) Call 02 23 22 04 28 or see

Visit or call +44 (0)871 244 0163

where holidays begin

8 Self-build

Brittany Pages

Live the dream – but you have t Finding the perfect property at the right price and in the right place can be difficult; so people are choosing to build their own houses, as Hélène Hofman reports MOST English-speakers looking to buy a property in France do not consider building their own houses. They are likely to be deterred by the language barrier, the bureaucracy, or the time and effort involved. However, people who choose the self-build option say it is the ideal opportunity to create a dream home and, increasingly, a good way way to break into the market in areas such as Brittany, Languedoc, Normandy and the Dordogne. Building a house yourself is not a new idea, of course. English-born picture framer Martin Mackenzie and his second wife, Denise, began building their first house in the commune of Penne in the Tarn about 20 years ago. “We wanted a complete change of scene but we didn’t have much money,” says Mr Mackenzie. “We knew we couldn’t afford a lovely ready-made house in the mountains, but at the time you could buy a ruin for almost nothing.” The couple secured a small mortgage for a rundown cottage and two stone barns and decided to build their home from scratch. To save on cost, they moved into the property immediately and undertook most of the work themselves. “It’s not for everyone. You learn a lot, but it takes time and you have to understand that the work is very weather-dependent and that there are setbacks,” says Mr Mackenzie. The first step towards beginning a self-build project in France is to secure a site and get permission for building and development from the local commune. Many sites can be purchased with a certificat d’urbanisme indicating the land has been set aside for residential building. Once the certificat has been secured, the law states an architect must be hired to draw up plans for any building over 170m2. Architect Sean Rawnsley, from the Architecte Sud group in the Tarn in Midi-Pyrénées, has helped Englishspeakers to obtain planning permission and while some have gone on to hire a local builder, many chose to do most of the work themselves. “But these are not complete

novices,” said Mr Rawnsley. “Often they have worked as builders back home and know what they’re doing. It’s definitely possible to build your own home and it can be a lot cheaper. But, you have to be careful and you have to do your homework. “You’ll need to know about soil conditions and, having obtained planning permission, what to do with the site, how to insulate and protect your property, etc. You’re also likely to be confronted with new techniques and new materials and regulations. Of course, it’s much easier if the property takes up less than 170m2.” It was for this reason that Theo Noordewier, part-owner of the holiday home marketing website, chose to limit the size of his property. Mr Noordewier, from the Netherlands, built a small house, with a bedroom, bathroom and cellar and ordered a ready-toassemble wooden frame from Lithuania for the second storey. “We didn’t have the money to employ an architect and didn’t feel we needed one,” he said. Doing most of the work with his wife and brother, he hired a mason for the stonework and an architect from the factory in Lithuania to supervise the assembly of the frame over two weeks. “You have a sense that you are creating something. When you look at the house you really think, ‘I did this.’ That’s a very different feeling from buying something.” Mr Noordewier and his wife moved into their home in 2009 and are now adding a 60m2 extension. Another way of minimising costs while delegating the project to a professional is to follow the example of most French people and sign a contrat de construction de maison individuelle (contract to build an individual house, or CCMI) with a builder. The contract allows you to pick a standard design and set out the exact cost and timeline for the project beforehand. That is by far the most secure way of doing things, says Yannick Billoux, director of the Bordeaux

Martin Mackenzie and Denise decided the best way to create their dream house was to do it themselves (right), but that required that they get involved in some serious construction work branch of government housing agency, ADIL (Agence Départementale pour l’Information sur le Logement). The ADIL has offices in every département and offers free advice on buying or building. The Conseil d’Architecture d’Urbanisme et de l’Environnement (CAUE) also gives free architectural and planning advice and most mairies offer access to an architectural adviser. “If you are a foreigner building your own house in France, you must be prepared and you must protect your investment,” Mr Billoux said. “If you do the work yourself, the standard of the work won’t be as high, you might run way over deadline and you probably won’t save a lot of money in the end. With a

CCMI, if anything happens or the costs are miscalculated, the additional costs will be covered by the contractor.” However, anyone looking to build a more individual property might find the CCMI too restrictive. Three years ago, David Mailer set up the company French Adventure to help English-speakers build their ideal homes. He specialises in projects worth €200,000 and upwards and has completed four houses in the Charente-Maritime. He said: “People have very specific ideas of what they want – a nice kitchen and bathroom, an openplan living space. If you want that kind of a property in the right location, you just won’t find it.” Tarn home-builders Martin

Mackenzie and wife Denise agree. In 2005 they sold their completed house and bought a building in need of complete renovation. The budget was €260,000 and they haven’t spent all of it yet, though they plan

THE authoritative guide to buying a home in France Written by the Notaires de France and published by Conseils des Notaires. Available in English from The Connexion, priced €7.50 or £7

(plus postage and packaging)

See our website

Self-build 9

September 2011

to build it yourself

Where to find self-build advice in Brittany THE BRETON housing stock is more recent than that of the rest of France, with 69.3% of its dwellings having been built since 1948, against a national average of 63.9%. Over the past decade, about 275,400 housing units were started in Brittany, making 15.6% of the total stock in 2009. Nationally, the proportion of new housing is 11.3%. Brittany is in fourth position for new builds – just behind Pays de la Loire. Planning permission for nearly 17,000 individual homes was granted in 2010 in Brittany, a 12.3% increase over one year. Morbihan raises the average with a 28% increase, while Ille-et-Vilaine has had only a 4.7% increase in planning permissions. In terms of new starts, the number has been stable since 2009 thanks to strong activity in Ille-et-Vilaine, but the other three departments show a decline in this sector. The Agences Départementales d’Information sur le Logement or ADIL (departmental agencies for information on housing) provide comprehensive free advice on legal, financial or tax issues. They can be found in all Breton departments. ADIL Finistère: tel 02 98 46 37 38 for Brest, 02 98 46 37 38 for Quimper, ADIL Côtes d’Armor: tel 02 96 61 50 46, ADIL Morbihan: tel 0820 201 203, ADIL Ille-et-Vilaine: tel 02 99 78 27 27, IF YOU ARE starting a new build with individual sewerage and you are looking for technical information, get in touch with the Site de l’Assainissement Non Collectif or SPANC (site of non-collective sewerage) in your municipality (Communauté de communes), or visit the general website for information, Communauté de communes of Concarneau Cornouaille: tel 02 98 97 71 50, Communauté d’Agglomération of Saint-Brieuc: tel 02 96 77 20 00, Lannion-Trégor Agglomération: tel 02 96 05 09 00, Communauté de communes of Pays de Matignon: tel 02 96 41 15 11, Communauté de communes of Pays de Baud: tel 02 97 39 17 09, Communauté de communes of Liffré: tel 02 99 68 31 31,

to install a swimming pool and estimate work will continue for a further three years. A similar house would have cost about €450,000 on the open market, they believe. “You’d be very lucky to find your

ideal house ready-made,” says Mr Mackenzie. “When you do it yourself you can tweak it to make it just right for you and at the end of the day you have something you can really be proud of.”

IF YOUR new-build rural home is unconnected to the sewerage system you have two options for dealing with your waste water: a traditional septic tank system or a “mini water-treatment plant” (micro-station d’épuration). The traditional fosse septique uses a tank where bacteria break down waste and the end liquid is spread under the garden through a piping system. A micro-station does not require the pipes, so is well-suited to properties without large, flat gardens, and is a more high-tech solution. However, they are now subject to specific quality rules, so if you have one put in, make sure it is agréée. Mairies are obliged to ensure all individual waste water systems meet safety and efficiency norms before the end of 2012. House sellers are obliged to get a check, costing about €100, done and show the certificate to the buyer. If it reveals problems which may, for example, cause pollution these must be put right by either owner or buyer.

Photo © Dennis Oblander -

Country-dwellers have waste options

10 Food

Brittany Pages

Compote de Tomates

Photo: Peter Knab

INGREDIENTS Makes about 250g (9oz) 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 4 tbsp olive oil 3 large ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped 1 tbsp tomato concentrate 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 strips dried orange zest Salt and freshly ground black pepper METHOD Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate, balsamic vinegar and orange zest, and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season well and keep warm.

Lemon courgette marmalade Do not worry if after half an hour the tomato tart looks an absolute mess: it’ll all dry out, says Alex Mackay in his book Cooking in Provence

Tarte Fine aux Tomates INGREDIENTS Serves six 350g (12oz) puff pastry 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) tomatoes, all around the same size 150g (5.5oz) mascarpone cheese 50g (1.75oz) Parmesan, finely grated 1 biggish bunch fresh basil, leaves picked from the stalks, sliced Salt and freshly ground black pepper 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil METHOD Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Roll puff pastry to a circle slightly larger than 30cm (12 in) in diameter. (If you don’t have a ring this size, use a plate.) Put pastry circle on a tray and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the tomatoes. Remove cores from tomatoes and slice about 5mm thick. Keep all the slices together and put the ends in a separate pile. Mix the mascarpone cheese with the Parmesan and basil and season well. Spread the mascarpone across the centre of the

pastry circle, leaving about 10cm (4 in) at the edges. Layer the sliced tomatoes round the outside of the cheese, making a full circle. Continue towards the centre in ever-decreasing circles, overlapping the earlier circle each time. Tuck the tomato ends under each layer to prevent them from caving in, then continue towards the centre. Put the last slice right in the middle and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas 2 and bake for a further 45 minutes. When cooked there should be almost no liquid left in the tomatoes and the pastry base will be crisp. Signed copies of Cooking In Provence are available from Alex Mackay's website:

Which wine should I drink with this? Caline Montfort of Julien de Savignac wine merchants ( says: I chose for this dish Chateau la Colline 2009. Bergerac rouge. €7.40. This wine is charming, elegant and fruity and will go perfectly with this summer dish. The ageing in oak brought a nice vanilla touch and a new world style. She sought help via the internet and, having found a recipe, adapted it to her own tastes. She wanted a strong lemon flavour with “a small quantity of ginger to give it a slight zing”, and lemon courgette marmalade was born.

She says: “This year I’m going to leave some of my courgettes deliberately to become enormous so I can make as much marmalade as possible. Everybody loves it and it will be nice as Christmas presents, plus it keeps well – we still have some from last year.”

Why not give Susie Kelly’s lemon courgette marmalade a try?

Photo: © Zipo -

THE MASSES of bright red fruits hanging on your tomato plants now might not contribute to the 540,000 tonnes of tomatoes France produces each year for the fresh market, but they probably do represent something of a glut. So what do you do with them? Well, here are some creative suggestions to please the taste buds and give you a health kick. There is strong evidence that tomatoes can help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and researchers want it to be one of the five-a-day fruit and vegetable portions. The scientists from Lycocard, a five-year project funded by the EU to study the potential health benefits of the red plant pigment lycopene, say tomatoes could make a difference and they are working with the French agricultural research institute, INRA, to assess how blood cells absorb lycopene. So, eat healthily with some traditional French cuisine that will make the best of your potager tomatoes. Two favourite tomato recipes of award-winning cook and food writer Alex Mackay – author of Cooking in Provence (Ebury Press), which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Book on French Cuisine in English – are his tarte fine aux tomates and compote de tomates. The tart was inspired by one he came across in a bustling Saint-Tropez restaurant and you can eat it hot or cold, he says. The compote is perfect for fat, juicy, ripe tomatoes and can be kept in the fridge for three days or frozen (see Alex’s recipes, right). Another candidate for the glut pot is the courgette. If you have a vegetable patch, it is likely many are resembling marrows by now, or green footballs. Courgettes can be used in a number of ways: as ratatouille, in a curry, battered and deep fried, and they can be stirfried, steamed, boiled, roasted and baked. But have you ever made marmalade out of them? Susie Kelly, an author living in PoitouCharentes, discovered the mouthwatering delights of courgette marmalade last year. Well known for her book Best Foot Forward, in which she painstakingly travels through France on foot, she has just published The Valley of Heaven & Hell (available from, an account of cycling around France with her husband. Yet in spite of her travels, Susie is a homebody at heart and has a passion for her vegetable patch, her various animals; and now, lemon courgette marmalade. Susie first decided to make the marmalade (see the recipe right) after finding in her potager a round courgette that weighed no less than 5kg. “We had grown a lot of massive round courgettes and I found them really unmanageable because you can’t cut them in slices,” said Susie. “Being frugal by nature, I didn’t want to waste it, but what do you do with a creature this big?”

Photo: Peter Knab

If you have a potager you may find at this time of year you have too many tomatoes and courgettes on your plate. Frances Cook finds ways to deal with this abundance with tried and tested recipes that will also be good for your health

Photo: Peter Knab

Transform your garden gluts into taste sensations

September 2011

INGREDIENTS 6lb (2.7kg) courgette flesh 4 lemons Juice of 1 lemon 1 teaspoon ground ginger 6lb (2.7kg) normal sugar METHOD Slay and eviscerate the courgette, then add the flesh to a heavy pan and pour over a little cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain well and thoroughly mash the flesh. Meanwhile, chop the lemons in half, squeeze the juice and flesh into a bowl, then carefully cut away the pith from the peel and slice the peel very finely. Add the rind, flesh and juice of the lemons, and the ginger, to the drained, mashed courgette. Bring to the boil and then remove the pan from the heat. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved, and then boil again till the jam is thick, about 20 minutes. Pour into warmed sterilised jam jars. The result is an amber-coloured jam, fragrant with lemon, the courgette merely providing bulk without imparting any flavour.

To advertise your restaurant with us call 0800 91 77 56. Prices start from just €35 HT per month.

Business 11

September 2011

JIM ADCOCK moved to France in 2007 after many years’ experience in corporate and small businesses, including practical freelance support for SMEs. He runs providing made-to-measure wooden staircases, and is a founder member of The Brittany Business Network. He will be writing regularly for the Brittany Pages on local business issues and welcomes your feedback, comments and input.

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Work ‘au noir’ – oh, no

Signing up to a new tax system Photo: Alcelvision

Our main family home, where we have lived for the last 25 years, is now on the market in the UK. We are planning to move to Brittany as soon as we can, so once the UK property is sold, we will start house hunting in and around Vannes. I assume it is necessary to register with the French tax authorities and de-register with the UK ones at the same time. CONGRATULATIONS on taking the plunge! The most important thing to do before you leave is to take advice on any tax planning opportunities that need to be put in place before you become a French tax resident. Talk to a specialist financial adviser with experience in the French system, and have a review of your investments. It is important to think about inheritance tax planning, too. When you sell in the UK, normally your principal residence will be free of capital gains tax. When you no longer have a UK base, you can establish French tax residency. If the Vannes house purchase does not quite happen in sync with the purchase of a new property and you don’t leave the UK straight away, then you would normally still be considered a UK tax resident until you can show the UK authorities that you have left on a permanent basis. This will mean that you are still liable for UK tax. Filling out a P85 form on leaving the UK will advise the UK tax authorities of your change in status and your tax affairs will be transferred to the UK centre for non-residents. HMRC will confirm its interpretation of your status. If, for example, your move takes place half-way through the year, you can apply for “split year” treatment, otherwise you might still be considered resident in the UK until the end of the tax year – that is, until April 5 after you leave. If you need to continue to complete a UK tax return for UK sources of income, they will also confirm this to you. Once you have actually moved to France, you should let the French tax authorities know, so that they have a record of your arrival for taxe d’habitation, and so they know that you are resident in France on a permanent basis. Completing your first French declaration (form 2042) is normally sufficient to get you into the system, and don’t be surprised if, when you go to the tax office, that this is all they tell you to do. The “arrival” process in France is less formal and waiting to complete your first French income tax return may not seem very proactive, but until this declaration has been made and processed, the French authorities will not recognise you as a French tax resident. If you have sources of income that are still being taxed in the UK, then you need to send a FD5 form with your French income tax return to apply for confirmation of your French tax status. This will then be relayed to the UK centre for non-residents. You can also make a repayment claim for UK income tax suffered at source, which is not due because those sources are now taxable in France. It is time-consuming and potentially complicated to unpick the double tax you will have inevitably paid, and it’s at this point that an expert comptable with UK and French experience can really help you.

It may be tempting to do a job “on the black,” both for the supplier and for the client, but apart from any legal consequences, the impact on the economy cannot be ignored. Being a registered business is better for all concerned EMPLOYING someone who is working “on the black” renders both the client and the supplier of goods or services liable to legal sanctions. However, there is a wider issue in Brittany because this is a relatively poor department, with an ageing population. For those of us who make our lives here, and for those with long-term second homes, it is important to see the local economy prosper. The more successful registered businesses become, the more they are likely to contribute to the local economy by reinvesting, and spending their income in the region. A better economic environment will also see an increase in younger families moving here to seek work or to start a business. Money is tight in the worldwide economy, but do think twice before choosing to go au noir, using a business that is not properly registered. It can have a longterm impact on the region where you have chosen to live. You can find out if someone is registered by checking if they have a Siret number on the websites below. The Auto Entrepreneur scheme, introduced in 2009, may have helped some people working illegally to come in from the cold. Nearly 13,000 registrations were seen in Brittany in 2010, a significant number, but the ratio per capita was less than four per thousand, compared

Photo © pixarno -

Brittany Pages

with five-and-a-half per thousand seen in metropolitan France. The largely rural nature of much of Brittany will always be challenging, but growth must come from small businesses as well as larger corporate structures. This begs the question as to what part the expat community can play, particularly when it comes to new businesses moving to Brittany, and what help or encouragement there is for them. Finding and accessing information is often difficult for new businesses. The Bretagne Développement Initiatives scheme in Centre Ouest Bretagne is mainly for the young and unemployed. There is financial help available if you are registered as looking for work with Pôle Emploi through the NACCRE programme, and you can seek help from your local Boutique de Gestion. Speak first to your Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie or Chambre de Métiers. If you approach your bank and they are reluctant to lend to you, there is a similar option to the UK Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, through OSEO, a banking organisation that will guarantee the loan to the bank. Access to incentives and available grants in Brittany are not readily available, and there is the thought that grants are accessible primarily if you know the

right person. This is an area we will develop further in this column over the next couple of months. Various authorities (including the Agence économique de Bretagne and the Regional Council of Brittany) will be approached to pool information and publicise opportunities that may exist, and to find out how to take advantage of them. Please write to me direct at the email address below with any experiences regarding business grants or incentives. Let’s see what we can do to encourage business growth in our community.

Useful Websites The Brittany Business Network Agence pour la Création d’Entreprises Chambre de Métiers Brittany Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI) Brittany Boutiques de Gestion To find Siret numbers

To contact Jim Adcock directly, email




12 Directory

Brittany Pages

September 2011

Advertise here ALL YEAR from just €165HT Call free on 0800 91 77 56 or email:


BRITTANY DIRECTORY English-speaking firms near you For your security, we check that the French businesses in this section are officially registered with the authorities

Find registered tradespeople quickly and easily BUILDERS & RENOVATION

Bilingual English Electrician/Plumber Registered and insured in France

St Malo, Dinard, Dinan

SARL BCBP Stonework, Renovation Groundwork, Gardening Full and Part Renovations & Conversions Connection to Main Drain and Septic Tank From Mini-Diggers to 20t Diggers Paving & Decking Perfect English Spoken

Mike and Pam Derby

Tel: +33 (0)2 96 84 86 28 Email: Web: Siret: 480 938 083 00015

BRETON BUILD Carpenter, roofer and general builder specialising in the renovation of traditional Breton Properties. Covering all Brittany. 02 97 38 57 61 Siret: 489 314 278 00032


Bruno Bonnier

Whoever you are- Whatever you wantWherever in Brittany


Tel: 06 71 05 60 82 Siret : 47942748600010


All types of work, Exterior-Interior, New - Renovation-Repair. Entreprise Brown Robert

Tel/Fax: 02 97 51 10 11


To advertise here call freephone in France 0800 91 77 56 / from UK 0844 256 9881 (4p/min)

Siret: 424 531 069 00013


English TV in your French Home EVERYTHING SATELLITE! Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice

TVBrittany & TVNormandy Ring Trevor on

02 97 74 24 56 ESTATE AGENT English and Fluent French speaking agent, always needing more houses for sale, 8 years experience TEL FR: +33 (0) 6 19 17 34 61 TEL UK: +44 (0) 7880 501 116 Siret: 519 751 465


English registered cars House insurance - Health cover 1700 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 Dinan, Brittany


Le Jardinier Tree surgery services All tree work undertaken within 150km of Rennes. Specialists in dismantling difficult & dangerous trees, wood chipper, stump grinder, extreme hedge cutting.

FREE CONSULTATION +33 (0) 7 86 53 67 26 Siret: 483 859 203

Les Bocages

David Robins Royal Forestry Society trained Arborist Felling, pruning, planting all aspects of tree care. Tel: 56160 LOCMALO Siret No. 480 997 584 00028


Ian Torode

Servicing and repairs for most makes of vehicle and garden machinery. Car Help - Advice - Parts Sourcing. Web: e-mail: Tel: 02 97 39 95 52

PLUMBERS All Plumbing and Heating requirements Oil Boiler Breakdowns & Servicing - Chimney Sweeping. Prompt /reliable service Tel: +33 (0) 2 96 24 78 11 or Mobile +33 (0) 6 42 72 39 00 Email: - Web: Contact: Vince or Mandy Boon



Property Management and Holiday Letting Services We will take care of your second home or holiday property leaving you free to enjoy it.

Tel: 0297398742 RETAIL

Villager, Hunter, Aarrow & Stratford Stoves Esse Cooking Ranges Quality Stoves Delivered throughout France

Tel: 02 97 74 73 48 Based in Josselin 56


Catch 22 offers win-win solutions When you have got a plumbing or electrical issue on your hands it can be difficult to solve the problem especially if your French language skills are not up to scratch and you need to call EDF. Catch 22 Services is a bi-lingual electrical, heating and plumbing service that can help no matter how big or small the job CATCH 22 Services is a family business located in Tredias, run by Pam and Mike Derby, offering electrical and plumbing services. Having moved to France in 2002, English electrician Mike worked for a French company for two years and then requalified under French regulations. He then launched Catch 22 Services with his wife Pam approximately seven years ago. “All in all we’ve got about 23 years of experience,” said Pam. While the company is based in Côtes d’Armor, Mike travels as far afield as Morbihan and Ille-etVilaine to carry out work for customers. Services include large complicated jobs, such as full rewires on

new-builds or complete renovations to investigating why a property has had a socket go out. One of the most useful aspects of Catch 22’s services is that Mike and Pam both speak French and English. “This is very important to most of our clients as it is what they have the most difficulty with,” said Pam. “Some jobs could be done by the customers themselves if they were able to speak the language, but as they are not this is where Mike and I can step in and help.” For Pam, using her English and French skills to assist a client is one of the most interesting parts of the job. “I deal with EDF, Consuel and the water companies and Mike com-

municates in English and French on site with builders, and during inspections or connections,” said Pam. “Sometimes he will find himself talking to the neighbours too, explaining what is going on, as very often the people around do not know what is happening at a property so keeps them in the picture.” When British expats buy a property in France, to live in or to rent out, many think that they can do the electrical work themselves. Often it is a surprise that the system in France is completely different to that in the UK and they then realise that they need help to follow the regulations and get the work done. In summer time, says Pam, it is renovation work that is more popular among clients as well as electrical jobs that complement outdoor living, such as patio lights and garden lighting. However, in autumn, and as winter approaches, a different set of needs emerge. “People start to think about new

bathrooms, plus they want their central heating tested, their boiler updated and radiators added - that tends to be the type of work that is required,” said Pam. Catch 22 Services will provide a devis (estimate) for free and is fully registered and insured in France, with all work carrying a full ten-year decennale assurance to ensure peace of mind.

Mike Derby is a qualified bilingual electrician 02 96 84 86 28 06 06 50 42 07

Brittany Pages

Directory 13

September 2011


New site aims to be top directory for Brittany Roger Pearson has set up an online directory for businesses located in Brittany so that customers can easily find suppliers in the area

Roger Pearson’s desire to learn how to build a website led to the creation of Brittany For Everyone, a business listings site for Brittany

WHEN Roger Pearson and his wife Josie retired and moved to Molac in the Morbihan department of Brittany in 2005, Roger was able to indulge his passion for photography. However, after some time he realised he needed an additional challenge and set about learning how to build websites. “I wanted to stimulate my ‘little grey cells’ so I purchased a website-in-a-box and started to teach myself how to produce a site,” said Roger. “I needed to choose a domain name and it was at that point that Brittany For Everyone was born.” Following the addition of two satellite websites, Brittany Properties and Brittany Gites, and with the slogan: Whoever you are, whatever you want, wherever in Brittany you can find it at, Roger is now looking for people with businesses or a property for

sale to advertise on his site, free of charge, in order to fulfil that slogan. The aim of the site is to offer a nofrills directory for Brittany and, as Roger is retired and not looking to make a living from the site, all small advertising is free. “Brittany For Everyone does not take a part in or seek monetary gain in any transactions,” said Roger. “The sole aim of the site is to introduce a customer to a supplier.” To help with the costs of running the website Roger has allowed a Pole Position advert on most pages, which he intends to fill using the Google Adsense scheme. In the

meantime if a supplier or property owner is interested in a Pole Position advert on a certain page then this can be organised by getting in touch with Roger directly. “If business owners in Brittany want to advertise or people have a property to sell they can enter it for free on the site and make the place to be seen 24/7,” said Roger. “Those interested in advertising or requiring more information should go to the website or contact me by email.”

Cutting hedge tree solutions Qualified arborist and gardener Stuart Lee is an expert in managing and disassembling large and complex trees in hazardous situations. He explains why only a qualified tree climber should attempt to take on such risky work

STUART Lee, gardener and qualified arborist, started Le Jardinier Anglais in 2003 when he moved to France. The company provides a range of pruning, tree surgery, hedge cutting, gardening and landscaping services, but specialises in the felling of problematic trees, which, Stuart says, there is far more

to than just holding a chainsaw. “If you go on You Tube you will see a lot of funny videos of homeowners having a go themselves and taking out their neighbour’s Mercedes or fence, or, worse, a house,” said Stuart, who goes on to say that most trees need to be dismantled rather than cut down, and taken apart piece by piece. “We specialise in taking down dangerous and difficult trees in confined areas,” said Stuart. “I’m qualified to climb trees and use a chainsaw with a rope and harness. It’s quite risky, as the tree could be rotten or very weak, so the team and I are trained to manage the risk safely and effectively.” The team at Le Jardinier Anglais consists of Stuart and three others: Sebastien Corlouer, who is the second climber and currently training to be an arborist; Rob Ingall, a tree

Company provides rapid renovations From large renovation works to smaller construction projects, if you have a property in the Brittany area that needs work then Breton Build’s Peter Maguire will be able to help BRETON Build was founded by Peter Maguire and is based in Crédin, department 56, so it is ideally placed to carry out works in all areas of Brittany. A fully registered and insured building company, with over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry, it was first established in France as a roofing and carpentry

company, specialising in the replacement and repair of traditional Breton-style roofs. “At Breton Build we pride ourselves on being experts in all aspects of renovation and repair works,” said Peter. “We specialise in the renovation of traditional Breton properties, be it the total renovation or minor repairs.”

Before: This building had major structural damage

expert with 40 years’ experience; and Didier Orly, the company’s woodman who harvests sustainable firewood to sell locally in and around Liffre, near Rennes, where the firm is based. The question of where the tree is going to fall is an additional risk management issue that many property owners do not evaluate accurately. “When you cut down a tree it won’t necessarily fall where you expect it to. There could be wind pushing it and the weight from the crown can affect where it falls too. We have the equipment, qualifications and experience to pull a tree down where it is supposed to go,” said Stuart, explaining that the team often gets called out by people who have encountered difficulties either during the process of cutting a tree down or with where it has fallen. The company is also able to take on smaller construction jobs. In the spring of 2010 Breton Build was approached by a customer who had been impressed with the result of a project carried out on a local property. “The customer wanted to construct a half-octagon shape conservatory at the entrance to his property,” said Peter. “The specification was that it had to be built from green oak, with a natural slate roof and wood doubleglazed windows and doors. The planning permission was obtained and work started in May 2010. All the oak was cut to shape and the joints were made in the workshop then assembled on site. “The roof was cut and pitched on site then slated; the windows and

After: A four-bedroom home ready for family life

“It is far more expensive to clear up a mess, so we’d rather manage the whole project from the start. A tree occupying 20 metres of air looks very different on the ground,” he added. The team use a wood chipper to break down the remains and encourage customers to keep the wood chips as it makes excellent mulch for the garden. It can also employ the use of a stump grinding machine to decompose the stump into the ground, taking the headache away of what to do with the stump itself - as the déchetteries in France do not accept them - and the hole that is left. In terms of travel, the team takes on jobs that are up to 150km away from Rennes and will provide a free quote for each job.

02 99 23 59 63 07 86 53 67 26

This elegant octagonal conservatory has transformed this property’s entrance

doors were fitted along with the stone work below the windows; the floor was tiled and a ceiling boarded with pine planking.” The project was finished just one month later in June 2010. Over the last four years Breton Build has project managed four major renovations. All of the properties were derelict and required everything: from obtaining the planning permission to installation of a fosse septique and the complete refurbishment of the property to the customer’s requirements. One of the renovation projects required the complete overhaul of a property, with serious structural faults, to create a four-bedroom house. The front and rear walls had to be removed and these were rebuilt using concrete block walls and faced using original stone. A

chimney was built, so a wood burning stove could be fitted, and two A frames were constructed and installed on site. “After the roof was fitted internal works could start, the floor was constructed out of pine floor boards and the walls using timber stud work and plaster board,” said Peter. “Four bedrooms one en-suite and a family bathroom were installed upstairs. A kitchen diner, lounge, utility room and WC were constructed on the ground floor.” Breton Build is fully insured and provides a ten-year guarantee for all works carried out. 02 97 38 57 61

14 Property

Brittany Pages

September 2011

Say No if you don’t want D I Y t i p s the hunt calling in on you


Photo: © wojciech nowak -

In the ACCA areas you own the hunting rights on your land but are deemed to have given tacit permission for others to hunt on it unless you explicitly oppose it. “The courts take the view that ‘he who doesn’t speak up, consents’”, says French wild animal charity Aspas. If you do not ban hunting then hunters can come as close to your home as they

Fitting a smoke alarm is a must Photo: Serenethos -

DID you know that hunters have the right to hunt across your private land? As the main hunting season gets under way again this month, you be aware that this rule applies unless you explicitly oppose it. However, how simple a task that is depends on where in France you live. Hunting rights depend on whether the hunters in your area belong to an association communale de chasse agréée (certified communal hunting society – ACCA) or a simple association de chasse (hunting society). Between them there are about 70,000 hunt societies in France.

Boar are one of the most commonly-hunted large game (inset – a refuge sign) like, says Aspas. The group adds that, contrary to what is often thought, in association de chasse areas there is no set

150m perimeter around homes where hunting cannot take place, merely a certain distance, set by the local pre-

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fect, inside which hunters cannot shoot towards homes. In the ACCA areas, often in the south, you have to apply to the prefect to have hunting banned on your land, though a 150m zone around homes does apply, Aspas says. Your mairie should be able to tell you which is the case in your area. Either way, a simple way to alert hunters of your choice, or be helped through the procedures for a ban, is to sign an agreement with Aspas to designate your land as an Aspas refuge. If you are in a société de chasse area they will send you “no-hunting signs” to put up straight away. They will also advise on how to make sure your land is an ideal environment for wildlife. In ACCA areas, Aspas will help you with the admin involved. Also, the fact you are backed by the charity will add weight to your application. Aspas director Madline Reynaud said: “To please the hunters the law has been made far from simple when it comes to withdrawing your land from the hunting areas. “You can really only do it once every five years, on the anniversary of the creation of the ACCA in your commune. “In the end, to protect nature, individual initiative has to take the place of the failings of the authorities.” Ms Reynaud added: “If you are an owner or tenant, and not a hunter, you can have your right to have no hunting recognised and live in complete safety and tranquillity. Thanks to creating a refuge, your land will be a haven of peace for fauna and flora and the natural habitats.” „ For more about Aspas, the Association pour la Protection des Animaux Sauvage, see

Once the smoke detector is fitted it is important to do regular tests on its operation and battery ALL homes in France must have at least one smoke detector fitted by law and whether you are the owner or tenant of a property it is up to you to make sure that one is installed and regularly tested. It has been obligatory since February 2009 when the loi Morange et Meslot came into force and it applies to holiday accommodation and furnished apartments. The simplest alarm to install is a battery powered one, it can be fixed anywhere – although it is best on the ceiling – and is available in all DIY stores. If you choose to have a hard-wired system then it is best to get an electrician to visit and fit it properly. The first step is to choose where you need to install the alarm. It is advisable to install a detector on each floor but avoid mounting them near windows or doors as smoke can escape before reaching the detectors. Kitchens, living rooms and dining rooms should also be avoided as steam from kettles or cooking, candles or fireplaces can cause the alarms to go off. The detector should be ideally mounted on the ceiling and at least 30cm away from walls. If you have an uneven ceiling place it at the highest point as smoke rises. Place the casing in the chosen spot and, with a pencil, mark out the fixing points. See packaging for the size of holes to be drilled for the wall plugs and screws provided. Screw the casing in place and then put in the battery and fix on the cover. Once assembled it is very important to check the alarm is working by pressing the test button. It is recommended that smoke alarms be tested once a week. Again do this by pressing the test button which should set the alarm off. You can also do test it by blowing out a candle below the alarm, the smoke created should set off the alarm. At least once a month remove any dust from the alarm by gently vacuuming it and dusting down the case. Never use water or any cleaning products. The batteries on battery-powered detectors must be changed regularly and it is recommended to change them every year even if low battery signal has not been triggered. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.


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Brittany Pages

Property 15

September 2011


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Photo: Ragesoss


If a few fruits are not fully ripe it helps jam to set

Ideal season to make jam by STAFF REPORTER THE harvest continues in the orchard and hedgerows this month, with the first grapes and with plums, figs and blackberries – an ideal time for making jam. As the saying has it, “Septembre nous produit les plus délectables des fruits”. Many apples, pears and peaches also come to ripeness this month, as well as quinces – try them gently, if they are ready they should come off very easily. Throw away or burn any diseased fruits, as they will contaminate your compost heap, and do not leave fallen fruit rotting under trees to avoid the trees being affected by certain diseases. Picking blackberries – your own or ones from the wild – is one of the easiest ways to get the fruit to make jam: great on toast for breakfast or le goûter. It is traditional in this season to hunt for blackberries in the country hedgerows: watch out for the spines on the branches – it is best to wear gloves for the job – and fill a basket, rather than a bag (in which they tend to get squashed). It does not matter if some are a little unripe, as they will have more pectin, which helps the jam to set. Wash and drain them. Use about 60% as much sugar as fruit, say three kilos of blackberries to two of sugar. Every cook has their favourite recipe, with some insisting on pureeing the blackberries in a moulin à légumes on a fine setting to strain out the pips. Otherwise, a simple way is to start them off in a big pot with about a glass-and-a-half of water; once simmering add the sugar and stir again until boiling, then simmer, stirring regularly until you obtain a thick jam. Add the juice of a lemon a few minutes before the end and then pour into pots. Plums and figs also make wonderful jams. Also this month, if you have vines, as the grapes ripen you should pluck off excess leaves shading the bunches. In the vegetable garden, the last tomatoes will also be ripe to pick now (as with grapes, remove any leaves that are shading your tomatoes) as well as potatoes and carrots. It is a good idea to give vegetable plots a good weeding this month. It is also time to start pruning fruit trees such as apples and pears; and there is sowing to be done: onions, Lamb’s lettuce, spinach, leeks, winter turnips and radishes, and you can plant out strawberry plants.

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Mohon, Morbihan This 4 bedroom detached stone house is set in 0.9 acres of land and comes with a garage. It comprises an equipped kitchen, a living room with a fireplace and 2 washrooms.

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Pontivy, Morbihan Ground floor open plan lounge/diner, well equipped kitchen, wet room and separate toilet, 4 bedrooms, study/ bedroom. Underfloor heating and wood burner.

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St Jean de Maurienne, Savoie 4 bedrooms, end of substantial village house at 1410m looking up to the Grand Coin and across the Valley. Cross Country skiing on site. Wonderful walking. Laid out as two apartments.

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Le Bugue, Dordogne This house, within walking distance of a market town in the Dordogne, can be used in half as well in a whole. It has an apartment and a converted barn with a passage inbetween.

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Saint-Gaudens, Haute-Garonne A large, elegant house built in 1817. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, large kitchen diner and large living/dining room. Internal garage. Recent 10m x 5m heated swimming pool.

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16 Profile

Brittany Pages

The joy of helping hostages

before this can happen, Otages du Monde needs to raise funds. “We are appealing to all those who wish to help us financially so the centre can be created as quickly as possible.” Martine’s work is rewarding in many ways, but the most dramatically emotional times are when a hostage is released: “Each time it happens, it gives me incredible joy to see the relief and happiness on the faces of former hostages and their relatives,” she says. One recent meeting with a former hostage made a deep impression on her: “The most powerful moment recently was when I met Clara Rojas in Bogota,” she says. “I had talked and thought about her sufferings in the jungle with my friends in the support committee so much that I already felt I knew her. It was a very friendly meeting, over lunch at home with her mother.” Martine found Clara’s ability to remain optimistic inspirational. “We talked about the simple things in life, how her son was born in captivity, her desire to learn French. I was very moved by so much simplicity, humility and faith in the future, despite the terrible hardships.”

by the FARC in 2002, she joined the French support committee and became president of the Breton association for the release of Ingrid Betancourt, Clara Rojas and other Colombian hostages. It was at that time that Martine became aware of the extent of hostage-taking in the world. Together with a group of people in the support committee, and with the help of some former French hostages, she founded Otages du Monde (Hostages of the World) in September 2004. The activities of Otages du Monde are varied: “First, we lead campaigns with French MPs to raise awareness about the lack of recognition former hostages receive after the traumas they and their families suffer. Then we support hostages’ families while their loved ones are in captivity,” she

Photo © Ana Dumitresc

Martine Gauffeny is general representative of Otages du Monde, a group which helps to free hostages and supports their families. ISABELLE CARVALHO talks to her about her work and her hope for an international hostage information and research centre MARTINE GAUFFENY began her career in 1992 as communications officer at the Abbé Pierre Foundation, an organisation which works to provide adequate housing for the disadvantaged. Now 51, her work has always been in the field of social and humanitarian action. She comes from Lantic and after what she calls a 10-year exile in Paris, she returned to her native Brittany, where she led Cultures du Cœur (Cultures of the Heart), an association based in Côtes d’Armor, that aims to give everyone access to culture. Martine Gauffeny’s commitment to the defence of human rights sparked a special interest in Latin America, and she especially admired the brave struggle of Ingrid Betancourt against corruption in Colombia. After Ingrid’s kidnapping

The role of the media is vital in raising awareness of the plight of hostages, says Martine Gauffeny explains. “One of our strategies is to mobilise public opinion and to make elected officials aware when French citizens are in danger.” She believes that the media can provide a kind of “life insurance” for hostages by bringing their plight to the attention of the public. Otages du Monde also provides guidance to ex-hostages and their

September 2011

relatives. “Our ambition for 2012 is to create a dedicated help centre in France – and why not in Brittany? It would be a place for former hostages and their families, with professionals, such as psychologists and lawyers on hand,” she says. “It could also be an international research and information centre on hostage-taking in the world.” But

To help Otages du Monde see the page nous aider on the website Twitter account @otagesdumonde follow them on Facebook: -DU-MONDE/185730244822321. On this page last month, the photograph of Janick Breton was taken by Thierry Becouarn

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Brittany Pages - September 2011  

Brittany Pages, Brittany's English-language monthly newspaper

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