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February 2013 Issue 124

food swaps brittany

Food - cx13

Special property report

The battle for ‘family values’



Mixed news on pensions A MAJOR shake-up of British state pension rules looks set to bring both good and bad news to expats in France. The planned changes – which have been put into a draft bill – extend the minimum contribution period for a full state pension from 30 years to 35. However people topping up UK state pension entitlement from abroad with voluntary contributions should end up with a larger state pension than under the existing rules. This is because the reform, which would apply at the earliest from April 2017, creates a new “flat rate” pension in­stead of the current two-tier one which the UK government says creates too much inequality. This change will “hugely benefit” many women, lower earners and self-employed people, said British Prime Minister David Cameron. It will also benefit some expats.

How the changes will affect you - Page 2 Computer error blocks expat fuel allowance - Page 7

Gay marriage

Air France joins budget flights battle by OLIVER ROWLAND


In France at 42, I’m in my prime PSe13e

AIR France is fighting to win back passengers from budget airline rivals by launching a series of low-cost fares in Europe and around the Mediterranean - but not as yet to the UK. It will use the Air France brand name for low-cost fares for the first time, competing with carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair. From February 6 it will be possible to fly for e49 one way between 17 French regional airports. A limited number of the “Mini” tickets will be available on 58 routes but, unlike rivals, their price will remain the same until they sell out and not become more expensive nearer the flight date. Only three airports so far

offer international “Mini” rates – Marseille, Nice and Toulouse, with most destinations at e80, Moscow at e110 and Tel Aviv e140. Despite the lack of UK flights, the president of the Nice branch of the British Association of the Alpes-Maritimes, Marion Courtonne, welcomed the launch: “We welcome anything like this that

They are adapting to passenger needs Fabrice Michel Fnaut

enables us to pay less for travel and have more choice.” Fabrice Michel, a spokesman for passengers’ rights organisation Fnaut, said: “The idea of low-cost flying is not new, but this is the first time they’ve done it under the Air France name – they also own low-cost airline Transavia. “Sometimes low-cost travel is associated in people’s minds with poor travelling conditions. There’s an aim of giving a more upmarket image to the ‘low-cost’ concept.”  Continued on page 4

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February 2013

Princess Grace film criticised as ‘fiction’ ©AFP PHOTO

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Princess Grace

MONACO’S royal family have denounced the new biographical film of Grace Kelly as “pure fiction” and say it does not give an accurate portrayal of events. Prince Albert and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie said they had asked for several changes to the film, starring Nicole Kidman as the Hollywood actress who married Prince Rainier in 1956, but these were refused. They said in a statement that Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco “tells a story, rewritten and unnec-

essarily glamorised... containing significant historical inaccuracies and a series of purely fictional scenes”. Producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam replied that the film was meant to be a work of fiction and was not intended to tell the true story of the principality. Featuring Tim Roth as Prince Rainier, it looks at a period in 1962 when Monaco was in a heated tax dispute with France and Alfred Hitchcock offered Kelly a chance to return to acting. source afp

New rules give boost to some expats’ pensions 

From page 1

How does a British state pension work at present? It is in two parts: basic pension and the second state pension. The basic pension is currently a maximum £107.45 a week. For this you need 30 years of national insurance (N.I.) contributions. If you made fewer, you will still get a pension, but the amount will be reduced proportionally. Employees in the UK accrue a top-up (with exceptions where firms “contracted out”). Called the second state pension since 2002 (previously state earningsrelated pension scheme, Serps), it varies by how much you earned and for high earners may amount to £150 or more a week. What is proposed? From 2017, the reform replaces this two-tier system with a single state pension at a higher rate than the basic but less than what high earners can currently build up. It is £144 in today’s money, but will be higher when the reform comes in, with state pensions rising annually by whichever is highest out of rises in UK earnings or prices. The UK government says anyone who builds up second state pension rights before the change can still get a top-up pension from them, so, initially, some people will get more than £144. Eventually future generations of pensioners will all get the same. The reform also includes a rule that people who have paid contributions for less than 10 years are not entitled to a pension. This appears to be despite the usual EU rule that any state in which you have worked and paid contributions for at least a year will pay you a pension. Announcing the proposals, Pensions Minister Steve Webb stated: “It isn’t right that, for example, an Australian backpacker can come here, work behind a bar for a year and then have a claim on a pension.” A De­­partment for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman said rumours that pensions would generally be stop­ped for people overseas, were untrue. It was this “Aussie backpacker”

Pensioners may be better off hardship charity Elizabeth Finn Care France spokeswoman Mary Hughes said: “Be­fore the 30-year rule it was 44 for men and 39 for women. When it dropped to 30 it was jolly good for people but 35 is still not so bad. “For future generations of pensioners, the flat rate should mean they are better off, especially if abroad and paying in or if they retire abroad and so are not entitled to UK pension credit [for people with small pensions]. “Some claim the French ASPA, but some are turned down flat, with great disparity across France.” In the short term, people living on British pensions are suffering due to the exchange rule that was referred to, she said. “It’s about stopping an absurd situation where someone can come and work in the UK for a few years and claim a pension for the rest of their lives.” How are expats affected? If you already draw a UK state pension, you will carry on re­ ceiving the pension you were entitled to under the old rules. (Although the falling value of the pound against the euro – down to e1.1940 as we went to press – is hitting spending power). When the change is introduced in 2017 new pensioners will need 35 years’ contributions for the full pension. A DWP spokeswoman said if you had paid for 30 years you would receive 30 thirty-fifths of the full amount. Expats working abroad, whether employed or self-employed, can make voluntary N.I. payments from abroad to contribute towards payment years. These are at class 2 rate, a flat £2.65 a week (£138 a year) – as paid by the self-employed in the UK. Early retirees wanting to contribute pay £13.25 a week (class 3). These voluntary contributions do not give rise to second state pension rights. Paying-in these contributions for an extra five years should

Photo: Josh Hallett Winter Haven, FL

2 News

Mary Hughes rate downturn – which could worsen with the uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU (see page 11). Britons or Irish people living in France in hardship may be able to obtain help from the charity (tel: 04 68 23 43 79). mean a higher pension at the end. A DWP spokesman said the reform will still allow voluntary contributions and there are no plans to change the rates at which people pay in. Expats who moved abroad having accrued less than 10 years of contributions in the UK, and not having made voluntary contributions, may nonetheless benefit from EU pension rules, which should still entitle them to a small UK pension if they went on to work elsewhere in the EU. The rules state that when an EU state works out your pension entitlement, they should base it on all the years you worked and contributed in the EU and proportion the contribution period for the country concerned. How likely are these changes to happen? The rules would take effect at the earliest on April 6, 2017. They first have to be passed by parliament so the 2015 general election outcome may be significant. What about retirement age? The coalition has moved to raise the state pension retirement age from 60 for women and 65 for men to 66 for all workers in 2020, rising to 67 between 2026 and 2028.

The Connexion

February 2013

News in brief SNCF workers fear Saint-Denis move SNCF bosses have denied they are planning a private pedestrian tunnel to protect workers travelling to its new offices in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, which has a violent reputation. Workers were said to have expressed concern about their safety and SNCF is to step up security on RER line D and at Saint-Denis station. A union spokesman said: “Everyone’s very worried. 80% of staff aren’t happy with the move.”

French properties ‘are over-valued’

FRENCH properties are the most over-valued in Europe, with it having the biggest divide in the ratio between average purchase prices, rents and household income. A study by The Economist magazine said French properties were on average 50% too expensive. Globally, only Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore were more over-priced. n Lower your prices by 5-15%, sellers told: P47

Incredible flying machine is still on road

Big picture CX16

Expats in France are ‘most content’ BRITISH expats in France are the most content with their quality of life compared with their experiences in the UK. A study by Lloyds TSB International questioned expats around the world and they said they were happiest in France. Private bank director Richard Musty said that expats were “increasingly turning temporary overseas work into a permanent move”. He added that the UK seems to be “losing its allure for many people”.

Free Mobile sued over poor service MOBILE phone company Free is being sued by consumer group UFC-Que Choisir over its poor quality service and for “not respecting its contract with customers”. Free Mobile’s launch 13 months ago has been credited with reducing bills by 9.5% but there have been many complaints about slow downloads.

Pupils are on the ball by SAMANTHA DAVID

Doing lessons sitting on an exercise ball helps children stay awake, engage more with their lessons and concentrate, says the director of a private school in Paris. Since January, the students at the e7,000-a-year Institut du Marais have had the choice between sitting on a wooden chair or a pilates ball. “They love it,” said Frédéric Bance, one of the school’s two directors. “At the beginning some found it quite tiring, and went back to a chair after three or four hours, but now they use them all day. Even the teachers use them.” He said it is more comfortable and because the pilates ball moves around it has health benefits – as well as keeping students awake. “If they go to sleep in class, they fall off,” he jokes. Mr Bance is a pilates fan himself and got the idea from his teacher, who said a school in Norway had replaced chairs with balls. He now plans to introduce pilates lessons to the school and also to expand the use of pilates balls to other groups. “We use it for the Bac L group to make them feel special, to make it into a club with their own identity. Literature is often seen as a second-class option but we want to show pupils this isn’t the case. Using pilates balls has cut absenteeism, improved the classroom atmosphere, made the pupils more receptive and we’re confident that it will also improve results.”

Better concentration is one advantage cited of using exercise balls for lessons

Passive smoking damages payout is a French first

A TEACHER has set a legal approve of the principle behind precedent after successfully this decision – although there is suing the school where she a massive gap between the worked after years of passive amount awarded and the actual smoking in the workplace gave loss suffered. “This ruling will set a legal her lung cancer. Odile Laulhère was awarded precedent and will help other e22,320 in damages for being people wishing to bring legal exposed to fumes from her action against their employer. “Workers are still suffering in smoking colleagues over a 10-year period at an architec- conditions that break the anti-smoking laws and the conture school in Toulouse. An appeals court said the sequences can be dramatic, as school had failed in its duty to protect employees and had failed to apply anti-smoking legislation when it came into force in 1992 – the Loi Evin. This ruling will set a The court upheld an earlier judgment from the legal precedent and adminstrative court in will help other people Toulouse, made in 2009, and substantially incr- wishing to bring action eased the original damag- Droits des Non-fumeurs es award of e3,524. Ms Laulhère, who had a lung removed as part of her this case demonstrates.” Droits des Non-fumeurs treatment and retired in 2003, said outside court: “The school added that it was disappointed did everything to try to put me with how lengthy and costly the off pursuing this case, but that legal action had been – which it just made me even more deter- said could discourage others from pursuing their action. mined to fight.” “This ruling is a step in the Anti-smoking group Droits des Non-fumeurs – which paid right direction, but the court for Ms Laulhère to pursue her should have been more undercase – said it was disappointed standing of the amount of sufwith the size of the settlement fering caused. [A more generous but said the ruling was a step in damages payout] would have really dissuaded every workthe right direction. It said in a statement: “We place from breaking the law.”

News 3

Tenant lives in Paris flat just 1.56m2 A HOMELESS charity has come to the help of a man living in a flat in Paris that is less than the size of a single bed – just 1.56m2. The 50-year-old, named Dominique, had been living in the “flat” for 15 years and was paying e330 a month in rent. Fondation Abbé Pierre said it was the worst example of illegal housing seen – under the eaves of the property with room only for a tiny mattress, sink and a single cooking hotplate. Dominique said: “I return home and I sleep. You cannot live like that, you just survive. But at the end of the day, it’s that or the street.” A fellow tenant persuaded him to approach the charity who said the flat was illegal. Dominique is awaiting a court order to force his landlord to rehouse him. He said “a studio would be heaven”. The legal minimum for a flat for rent is 9m2 for the main living area, with a minimum 2.2m under the ceiling. The total volume must be more than 20m3.

4 News

POPULATION growth in France was the slowest last year for a decade. There are now 63.7 million people in the mainland, compared to 63.4 million a year ago. This comes as the birth rate (2.01 per woman) dropped slightly, by 0.17%, partly due to women having children later (average age 30) and the death rate increased 5% to 571,000, the highest for 30 years. The state statistics body Insee said the latter was due to cold weather, gastroenteritis and flu.The population has aged, with 11.5 million people over 65 (17.5% of the population, up from 16.1% ten years ago). Life expectancy for men is 78.4 years and for women 84.8 years (the latter down by two months on the previous year). One in ten is over 75, while a quarter of people are under 20. After years of decline, 4,000 more couples married than the previous year and 1,000 fewer couples divorced.

RENAULT is calling on its Japa­nese partner Nissan to build Nissans in its French factories after a disastrous year for sales in Europe and major job losses to come. Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg announced the decision, saying: “Renault has been increasing the number of its sites in the rest of the world, so the time has come to preserve the industrial basis of France, so it does not weaken.” Renault plans 7,500 job losses by 2016. This comes as 2012 sales figures show a 6% drop overall – a combination of an 18% drop in Europe and a 9% rise elsewhere. For the first time it sold more cars outside Europe than within. However sales of its low-cost subsidiary Dacia, and its entry-level cars in general, were up 17% world-wide, representing 37% of its sales. Montebourg, who recently

extended to UK

French Renault factories like this one may be used by Nissan headed up a “Made in France” campaign, said he asked chairman and CEO of Renault Carlos Ghosn to take the step because he holds the same positions in Nissan and in the “alliance” which links the companies. “I said I hope... Nissan can

come to the rescue of the French factories and bring work to the French production lines – to which the response was positive. “When Renault is in a bad way, it’s normal for Nissan to help. That’s what you call an alliance,” he said.

e400,000 a day for Mali war

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February 2013

Renault sites may be Cheap Air France flights could be used to make Nissans Photo: PHOTOPQR/VOIX DU NORD / SAMI BELLOUMI

Growth of population slows down

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FRANCE’S intervention in Mali could cost at least e400,000 a day, experts estimate. While tough action against the Islamist rebellion in France’s former colony has been seen so far as good for President Hollande’s image as a statesman, this could change if the war drags out. MP Guy Teissier, who headed the National Assembly’s defence commission from 2002-2012, told L’Express that the e630 million budgeted for operations outside France - reduced from 2012 due to withdrawal from Afghanistan - is “bound to be smashed”. Operations in Afghanistan cost e1.4m per day. The costs in Mali are expected to be lower, as fewer resources are involved. Nonetheless, an expert estimated e400,000 a day to BFM TV “as long as the conflict doesn’t go on too long”. Hollande has pledged to send 2,500 troops in total, and planes and helicopters have been deployed including Rafale fighter planes costing around e27,000 per hour of use. He has pledged to “destroy” the Islamists or take them captive, though the rebels warned France its troops could be tied up for years. Commentators say that apart from reasons of principle, northern Mali – the area that has been overrun – is strategically important because it is near to Niger, France’s main source of uranium for its nuclear power stations. About 6,000 French people live in Mali’s capital Bamako. Simon Heffer: Page 14

 From page 1 “Mini” rate buyers travel in the same part of the aircraft as other economy class passengers who have paid higher “Classic” or “Flex” fares – and have the same access to free newspapers, drinks, snacks and meals on the longer flights. However, tickets are not refundable or exchangeable, passengers cannot gain air miles and hold baggage is billed at e15 extra each way. Mr Michel added: “They are adapting to customers’ needs. We will be checking they make the Mini offer clear – that customers know they can’t cancel, baggage is extra etc and also that they respect passenger rights agreed in international conventions.” The rules say reimbursement must be given if there is a delay of more than five hours and budget airlines lost a long legal battle in the European courts about whether they should be required to pay this. See www. for the full regulations. An Air France spokeswoman said: “There is the same assistance in the case of unforeseen problems – we text or email you to let you know if your flight has been delayed, until what time or date, or if it’s cancelled we book you on another flight.”

The new tariff is valid all year and new routes, including to the UK, may be added. “Following studies last spring, 60% of our customers told us that what most attracted them was price. “It was very important, considering our competition, whether TGV or low-cost airlines, to offer our Air France quality and service with fares at the level of the low-cost firms. “Since January 7 we’ve had more than a million Mini rate seats on sale; the website has had an enormous amount of visits. “The destinations are those with most demand after studies among short and medium-haul passengers. “We will review take-up later in the year and it’s possible we will extend the area covered in due course.” Easyjet and Ryanair are both well-established in the French flights market. EasyJet alone reported a 28% rise in pre-tax profits and 11% growth in revenue in its 2012 full-year group results, helped by faster turnarounds, lower fixed costs and a rise in “revenue per seat”. It was fined e1.65million in 2010 for employing French staff on British contracts for almost four years. Ryanair has also previously

Fare finder Booked one month in advance, a flight from Toulouse to Paris on Friday February 22, coming back on the following Sunday, worked out as follows: n Air France “Mini” – e99 return, including e1 booking fee but no charge for paying by card. Hold luggage optional at e15 each way (up to 23kg). Booking cannot be changed. Choice of seat only available on check-in at airport. n Air France “Classic” – e139 return. Flight can be changed for e70 plus price difference. Free hold luggage and free choice of seat as well as the chance to accumulate air miles. n easyJet – e87.98, including e11 booking fee. An extra e2.20 (2.5%) if paying by credit card (total e90.18). Seat can be chosen from e4, or a randomly attributed seat is free. 20kg hold luggage optional – e22 for return flight. Booking can be changed on paying a penalty (e42 online, or e48) plus any price difference. struggled to employ staff in France because of labour costs and work regulations. It closed its Marseille base in early 2011 after French prosecutors charged the airline with a number of illegal labour practices, including registering workers employed in France as Irish employees. The Irish low-cost airline has now looked outside of Europe for the first time – to Morocco – where three planes will be based, serving 37 routes around Europe, including France. The new bases in Fes and Marrakech are due to open this spring. Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said he was not worried by Air France’s fares. He said in Marseille: “Their lowcost offer is a relatively high fare for us, it starts at e49 when our first prices are e15. It is a recognition by Air France that the low-cost model, which they always said wouldn’t work in France, is destined to rule.” For the full range of Air France “Mini” departure and destination options see www.tinyurl. com/AF-Mini-Destinations

The Connexion

Agony continues for couples who lost cash in cheque fraud Photo: Dan Arnold

Bank loophole still wide open

Photo: Patrick Bernard

TWO expat couples in the vanished with their money. Dordogne are still locked in a Although they won their case at long legal battle with Crédit the Tribunal de Grande Agricole after being defrauded Instance at Bergerac, Crédit of more than e120,000 by con- Agricole has lodged an appeal. man Graham Warren Templeton. This is despite the Bergerac judges saying it comThey had taken the mitted a “serious bank to court after it error” in not verifyallowed Templeton, ing the clients’ wishwho posed as a finanes before paying the cial advisor, to pay cheques into Tem­ cheques made out to pleton’s account. the bank into his Mrs Bygraves said: own account with “They are trying to them - simply by take us to the finansigning the back. This was done with- Graham Warren cial limit. “The money we out the bank having Templeton lost, e34,489, is peaany details that he nuts to them but it could very was the beneficiary. Steve and Joy Cole­ man and easily all go in legal costs and John and Lin­ dsay Bygraves they want to force us to drop it.” Euro-MP Sharon Bowles has thought they were paying into an investment fund through written to Crédit Agricole Crédit Agricole and did not dis- demanding that it settles the cover until 2004 that he had case with the couples as they

Lindsay and John Bygraves fear bank is using stalling tactic have been out of pocket for too long due to the bank’s fault. Previously, Société Générale bank had settled out of court a claim by other couples – not including the Bygraves – in

Hollande tells politicians: decide who you represent PRESIDENT Hollande has told politicians that he is determined to push through a new law banning them from holding more than one elected post – and they must choose if they want to represent electors locally, nationally or in Europe. The so-called ‘cumul des mandats’ under which politicians can be both mayor of their local commune, town or city and also an MP, senator or Euro-MP is widely disliked with a November poll in Le Nouvel Observateur newspaper showing that 71% of people want to see it banned. Supporters say it keeps national politicians grounded in their local communities. Opponents say the national position can be used as political muscle to attract extra spending even if it is not justified. It has also been criticised for keeping power concentrated in the hands of too small a group and thus being open to corruption. Mr Hollande – who was an MP while also president of Corrèze conseil général – had asked former prime minister Lionel Jospin to come up with proposals to end the system. Mr Jospin said the plans would get rid of conflicts of interest and were “essential to renovate public life”. He differentiated between ministers, who should “be full-time ministers” and hold no

Late-running parents fined PARENTS who consistently arrive late to pick up children from organised activities in some Ile-de-France communes are being fined – as the councils estimate it can cost them up to e9,000 in extra staff costs. In Asnières-sur-Seine, parents who arrive up to 15 minutes late will be fined up to e10, depending on their income and “quotient familial” tax band while anyone arriving 30 minutes late could be fined e30.

News 5

February 2013

local post, and MPs and senators who can still hold a minor local elected post, such as councillor but not mayor or council leader. Both left and right-wing politicians are involved with 80% of MPs and senators holding dual-mandates. Just 103 of the 577 MPs do not also hold a local post and 82 of the 348 senators. It can lead to contradictions, with ex-president Jacques Chirac being both mayor of Paris and also MP for the Corrèze – nearly 500km away. Tarn-et-Garonne council president and Parti Radical de Gauche senator Jean-Michel Baylet said senators should fight for the dual-mandate as the Sénat was also called the Grand Conseil des Communes de France and was there to represent local feelings. He will challenge any new law in the Conseil Constitutionnel. Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë said that the move was an “advance for democracy” which he greeted with “deep satisfaction”. Mr Hollande promised a bill next month and said that if passed it would come into force during his five-year term. It is unlikely to happen before the 2014 municipal elections, where there are fears that ending the cumul could prompt the overturning of many safe party seats.

Fire engine too Compensation big for streets bid on slavery

AFTER spending e250,000 on a new fire engine, councillors and pompiers in Mont­ cuq in the Lot have found that it is too wide to go up the narrow, twisty streets of the hilltop town. Firefighters will have to use its two 200m hose­reels to reach the upper town. A fire chief said they knew about the streets and added that the crew were more important than the machine.

A DESCENDANT of a slave is suing France for compensation for loss of the family’s traditional name and in­ heritance and loss of earnings. Rosita Destival, 51, lodged a civil suit in Paris, using a law stating slavery is a crime against humanity. Black federation Cran is backing her in its bid for reparation for slave descendants. Ms Destival’s great-great grandfather was enslaved in Guadeloupe in 1834.

exactly the same circumstances. Templeton was jailed for two years for a e2million fraud. He said after one hearing that he had made use of the banks’ failings to carry out his crime.

TEMPLETON’S fraud was based on a French banking loophole in which cheques made out to a bank can be paid into the account of anyone at that bank - just by that person signing the back. Despite calls for change from Euro-MPs including the UK’s Sharon Bowles, chair of the European Par­liament’s economic and monetary affairs committee, the Fédération Bancaire Française still allows the practice. It was banned in the UK in 1992. Yet the FBF’s own advice specifies a cheque must bear the beneficiary’s name; and Crédit Agricole paid Temple­ ton the money although his name was not on the cheques.

GPS took tourists to Lourdes... in Brittany FIVE tourists following a GPS route to drive to Lourdes from Paris ended up in west Brittany – some 800km off course. The women, in their 30s, had just flown in from Los Angeles and had picked up a car and typed Lourdes into the GPS and arrived, distressed and disorientated, in Leuhan, Finistère. Cafe owner Manée Peron said they asked her for directions before she told them they were “not exactly in the right place”. They had typed Lourdes but did not specify a department and the satnav took them to Leuhan, which has an area called Lourdes and a 19th century chapel with a small model of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes. After learning of the mistake, the women were given directions and set off immediately for the 800km journey south towards the Pyrénées.




.49 one way

inc. taxes

Bergerac to Leeds.

Chambery to East Midlands, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester & Newcastle. Grenoble

to Leeds & Manchester.

La Rochelle to Edinburgh & Leeds. Nice to East Midlands, Leeds & Manchester. Paris to Leeds & Manchester. Toulouse to Edinburgh, Leeds & Manchester.

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February 2013

State aims to school more two-year-olds REVERSING a decline in the number of two-year-olds attending school is the aim of an Education Ministry plan for 2013-2017. Figures from 2011 show just 13% of two-year-olds were in maternelle schooling (called très petite sections) down from 34.5% in 2000 and around 50% 20 years ago. The drop is said to be due to education staff cuts under the previous government – some 80,000 between 2007 and 2012, mainly from the primary sector. Rever­sing this was one of President Hollande’s campaign promises. Three-year-olds are guaranteed a place at maternelle and 90% attend (obligatory schooling starts with école élementaire – junior school - when a child is six-years-old). Now the government aims to triple the number of two-year-olds in school in disadvantaged areas by 2017, with 3,000 posts to be created to enable this by 2016. Also to help the less well-off, it has said crèches must hit a target of at least 10% of places for children from families living below the poverty threshold, with a long-term goal of the proportion being the same as that of poor families in the area. The government says starting school early improves results over a school career, and prepares for school life children whose parents are “distanced from educational culture”. The professor of education and child psychology at Nantes University, Agnès Florin, said early education is good, “but not for all children, and not in all schools.” For under-threes to benefit, every aspect, from infrastructure and equipment to time-tabling and curriculum, must be adapted. She is pleased to see this is in the government’s plans. “Putting the accent on quality of early schooling is new. The paper contains a “charter of standards” and if respected, it will be a good step.”

New licence is delayed A NEW credit card-style European driving licence introduced last month across Europe has been delayed in France until September 16. A “transitional” kind of paper one will be in place until then. The delay is due to computer problems. People driving on existing British or French driving licences have no need to change theirs - new ones will be for new drivers or those whose papers have been lost or stolen. The new-style licences are aimed at making licences thought to be the most frequently-falsified document more secure. Some changes to licences categories are also involved.

Schoolboy wins fame for crucial science discovery A 15-year-old from Strasbourg is causing scientists to rethink theories about the formation of galaxies with a discovery made on work experience at the city’s observatory. Neil Ibata’s findings may even cast doubt on the existence of dark matter, which some scientists estimate makes up around 80% of the universe. They led to him co-writing a research paper which was published in - and made the cover of - one of the world’s most prestigious science journals, Nature. His father Rodrigo, an Eng­lish­ man who researches Andromeda, the galaxy nearest our own, invited his son to learn a programming language used for modelling galaxies. Using data from his father’s team, he created a model that showed that smaller galaxies near Andromeda turn around it arranged in a thin disc; not predicted by mainstream galaxy formation theories.

Mr Ibata said: “The more we understand about how our solar system was formed, the closer we are to understanding how the earth was formed. To do that, we need to understand how galaxies form. Neil’s discovery is a step forward. It shows us there’s something peculiar going on that we didn’t expect. Over 30 years we’ve developed a picture of how galaxies are formed out of dark matter but this discovery shows we’ve missed something out. “It may be that dark matter doesn’t actually exist except in our imagination. No-one’s ever seen dark matter. We just know it changes the way that stars move in fields. Perhaps we don’t know how gravity works so now we have to make a new hypothesis. “The discovery will keep resear­ chers busy for some time.” Neil, who speaks German, English and Chinese and plays the piano, has been called a “little Einstein” by the French press.

First bid to end UK’s 15-year expat vote limit is withdrawn A FIRST bid to end the UK’s 15-year limit on expats’ right to vote in national elections was withdrawn - but achieved its aim of debate on the issue, says the peer who proposed it. Lord Lexden withdrew his amendment to a British elections bill which, if agreed by the other lords and MPs, would have overturned the current law that stops expats from voting 15 years after leaving the UK. However he told Connexion he would reintroduce it in a final Lords stage, due after we went to press. Lord Lexden, a Conservative peer, withdrew the amendment on request from a government minister, Lord Gardiner. He said: “I had to decide – is it worth calling a vote and having a division, the result of which wouldn’t give huge en­couragement to all these splendid people [who have backed him and campaigned for change]. My main objective was to allow arguments in favour of change to be put fully, which I did and will return to.” “Misleading” statements were made about expats by some peers during debate on his amendment, which he would address when he reintroduces it. The bill will extend the minimum period between an election being called and election day from 17 to 25 days, helping to ensure expats have enough time to vote by post – a problem that was highlighted by Connexion readers and the Electoral Com­ mission during the last election.

Lord Gardiner said the government also planned to simplify registration of overseas voters by removing the need to have a British expat countersignatory for initial applications. The government was still considering the “appropriateness” of the 15-year rule but was not ready to change yet, he said. Lord Lexden said these points were “encouraging” but overall he was “disappointed”. He urged expats to continue campaigns and write to MPs. Expat campaigner Brian Cave said he was angered by comments made by some peers during the debate, such as Lord Lipsey, who said some expats left “for the cheap gin and tonics” and Lord Tyler, who asked why people “who have lived on the Costa del Sol for the past 15 years” should “influence the level of council tax in Cornwall”. “It was an exhibition by some of intellectual dishonesty, prejudice and ignorance,” said Mr Cave. The Paris chairman of Conservatives Abroad, Christopher Chan­trey also criticised the tone of the debate. “They seem to disapprove of expats on principle,” he said. “Do they really want all five million to go home at once?” What’s your view on the 15-year rule? Have you passed the limit but would like to maintain voting rights - or do you feel you have severed ties? Tell us at

Neil Ibata works on galaxy formation

Photo: ©PHOTOPQR/L’ALSACE/Jean Marc Loos

The Connexion

News 7

Computer blocked fuel payment THE UK’S Department for Work and Pensions says a computer problem has affected “a small number” of expats’ appli­ cations for Winter Fuel Payment. As a result, if you were turned down, and the reason is unclear, you are advised to call the International Pensions Centre on 0044 191 218 7777. A spokesman said the DWP had now resolved the problem. The issue was highlighted to Connexion by reader Valérie Haskey, whose husband was refused when he applied under new rules allowing applications from those who left the UK before entitlement age. After querying the decision, the DWP told her there was a “flag” on his computer records, still blocking him under the previous rules. He has since been granted payment, which is £200, or £300 for people aged 80 or more on or before September 23, 2012. Are you eligible? Search ‘winter fuel’ at

‘Historic’ new deal on work rights

AN AGREEMENT on work rights between three large unions and three bodies representing employers has been hailed as “historic” by one of its architects, Laurence Parisot of the bosses’ union Medef. She said it showed a shift to compromise after decades of antagonism (though two large unions did not sign). Her enthusiasm was shared by President Hollande, who said it creates “a new economic and social model.” Le Monde also called it “historic.” The CFDT union’s leader said it combined worker rights with economic efficiency. Under the deal, set to be put into a bill, firms gain new legal certainties over lay-off procedures and can negotiate lower salaries and working hours for a limited period in difficult times. New worker rights cover matters like top-up health insurance, unemploy­ment benefit and having representatives with voting rights on large firms’ boards.

The Connexion

Rail bosses give lessons in manners THE SNCF is to give lessons in manners to passengers and staff alike, while Parisien commuters are being subjected to a poster campaign promoting good behaviour. Paris public transport body RATP found that 97% of Paris metro and bus passengers had witnessed bad behaviour in the 30 days before they were questioned for a survey, with 63% admitting to have been responsible for some bad behaviour themselves.

People openly drink alcohol, smoke joints and put their feet on the seats Paris bus driver Tarik Gouijjane

It found that pet hates among commuters could be very different depending on age. The over-60s were most annoyed by people damaging or dirtying trains. Although only one in five young people disliked passengers putting their feet on seats, one in two objected to people playing music without wearing headphones. The RATP has launched a poster cam-

Photo: RATP

8 News

News in brief Revaluation will mean local tax rise LOCAL taxes will change after a revaluation of rental values which have been set since 1970. A new taxe d’habitation rate will apply from 2015 and residential tax calculations could also include household income to help those with large houses but low incomes.

Underground gas tank plan dumped

The RATP hopes to make passengers smile – and think – with warthog poster paign featuring a warthog breaking several rules in the hope that people will “exchange a kind smile while commuting” and think about their own behaviour. But that may be wishful thinking as Paris bus driver Tarik Gouijjane told of the nightmare of passengers on late-night buses. “Spitting and the finger up sign are common currency. People openly drink alcohol, smoke joints and put their feet on the seats.” Rude behaviour is not limited to Paris, according to SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy.

“This is a very French problem,” he said, as he launched a nationwide programme to improve the behaviour of both rail staff and passengers. The company’s 10,000 staff will undergo training to “rework certain attitudes”. The capital will get some special treatment however with 100 new “mediators” hired to smooth problems between staff and passengers. Around the country, extra staff will remind passengers about rules on smoking, putting feet on seats and damaging carriages. Connexion with afp

PLANS for an underground tank to store 600million cubic metres of gas in rock salt in the Landes have been dropped by power giant EDF. The Salins des Landes project near Dax would have included a 42km underground pipeline to take briny water to the sea.

EU solar panels will gain higher tariff FRANCE is aiming to protect and build its solar photovoltaic industry with a higher energy buy-in tariff for those using EU-made solar panels and not cheaper Chinese imports.

Finding the French healthcare system a bit of a puzzle?

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February 2013

February 2013

Bears like this one are in danger of dying out in the Pyrenees The European Commission has threatened to impose a fine of tems of millions of euros on France for failing to protect its bear population. “Without an urgent release of new bears, ten females and five or six males, the bear population in the Pyrenees will be in serious danger of dying out,” said Jean Lauzet from the environment association Sepanso. “Although there are 25 bears in the central Pyrenees, and the numbers are gradually increasing, they are all descended from the same male and are interbreeding, which makes them unviable. We’re really pleased that the European Commission is taking action,” he added. In the west of the Pyrenees things are worse. “There are only two males there, and we don’t even know if they’re still alive,” said Mr Lauzet. “The last proof we had was last August.” Female bears are mainly sedentary and do not roam far from their dens so no female is likely to wander westwards and the two males are unlikely to leave their territory. Four bears were released seven years ago, but since then there have been no plans for further releases. The government says that if the Spanish Pyrenees are included when counting the bear population, there is not a problem.

Photo: © FERUS

France risks fine over bears

Breath test accuracy in doubt, says think-tank A LEADING member of the government group examining the effectiveness of the breath-test law has said its full implementation should be delayed – because no proper testing has been done to see if the kits work. The law, which obliges all road-users to carry a breath-test or face a e11 fine, is due to come into full force on March 1 after Interior Minister Manuel Valls ordered a delay due to motorists having severe problems in finding kits. He also asked the Conseil National de la Sécurité Routière to carry out an expert review. Road safety campaigner Chantal Perrichon, president of the Ligue Contre la Violence Routière and a member of the committee, said it was impossible for the group to give a proper verdict on the tests and the law may have to be delayed for another six months. “We have to decide if these kits are effective yet the national laboratories have done no blind testing on them and the Gendarmerie have not been asked to do any side-by-side testing of chemical breath tests and their electronic ones.” “This is a matter that concerns 37 million drivers so we cannot rush it through just because the minister is pressed.” A meeting of the inter-ministerial road safety committee is due to take place early this month when measures to cut the road toll will be dis-

Photo: Sébastien -

The Connexion

No effective testing has been done on the kits cussed – by which time the full figures for 2012 should be available. Provisional figures say that around 3,700 died on the roads last year – about 300 down on 2011. Mr Valls has said he wants to cut the toll in half by the year 2020 and he is continuing to target speed and drink as the two main causes. Possible changes could include more speed cameras and a proposal to introduce a zero alcohol tolerance for drivers aged 18-24. Drivers group 40 Millions d’Automobilistes president Daniel Quéro said the 0% proposal had come out of the blue. “Too few drink-drive tests are being carried out at present and people are ignoring the present 0.5g/litre law. We should apply the present laws more strictly.”

News 9

Farmers end protest - and salon begins

FARMERS have ended a series of national protests against government policy, just a few weeks before the biggest agricultural event of the year begins. Last month around 100 protesters set fire to palettes in front of the Invalides in Paris claiming that the “dogmatic” policies of Agricultural minister Stéphane Le Foll and environmental legislation from Brussels, were preventing them from doing their jobs. The government, in the face of EU fines for not respecting directives it signed 20 year’s ago, has announced new measures concerning the use of nitrates in water catchment areas. Other protests took place in Le Mans, Rennes and Arras. On February 23 doors open at the 50th Salon international de l’agriculture at Paris – the biggest event in the French farming calendar. Hundreds of animals, tonnes of produce are all on show and in competition until March 3. The Salon also has a section for world cuisine.

UK scallop fisherman arrested for illegal haul

Taxis block main roads in go-slow protests

TAXI drivers across the country blocked roads in opération escargot go-slow protests at plans to open up part of their business to outside competition. The drivers say they already face unfair competition from private minicabs and motorbike taxis and fear plans to change rules on hospital transport will put them out of business. There are 55,000 taxis in France, with 17,100 in Paris. Paris, Marseille, Nantes, Dijon, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Nice were targeted along with airports and rail terminals.

Electronic forks helps slimmers lose weight

A FRENCH inventor’s fork that helps you slim has been one of the hits at the world’s biggest consumer technology show, CES 2013 in Las Vegas. The electronic Hapifork gives a warning if you are eating too fast – as scientists in Japan and the US say the benefits of eating slowly include weight loss, better digestion and a reduction of gastric reflux disease. It was invented by biomedical engineer Jacques Lépine and will sell for $99.

500 Brits a year take French nationality

THREE times more British people are opting to receive French nationality than the other way round, according to new figures released following the Gérard Depardieu exile row. Official figures for 2010, the most up-to-date available, show 512 British people became French in the year, compared with 182 French people gaining British nationality. Immigration experts say the statistics are low because there is little interest for EU residents to gain nationality of another member state.

Care home sanctioned for ejecting woman, 94

A retirement home near Paris has been placed under special control measures after it ejected a 94-year-old woman because her family had failed to pay the bills. The resident had amassed a e40,000 bill but when staff

The Connexion

Omar voted France’s favourite INTOUCHABLES star Omar Sy has been named France’s most popular personality in 2012 – taking over from former tennis player Yannick Noah who had been number one for five consecutive years. Noah slips down to third place. The second position in the annual poll, carried out by the Journal du Dimanche is taken by actor and comedian Gad Elmaleh. Sy was widely praised for his role in Intouchables, in which he plays a carer from an inner city estate who looks after a wealthy quadriplegic man. Although he won a César (Best Actor) for the role his performance was overlooked by the nominations team for this year’s Oscars. Sy is known for his TV double-act with comedian Fred Testot (Omar et Fred) and their service après-vente sketches on the Grand Journal show on Canal+ His acting success however has seen him head for Los Angeles and the sketches have since been dropped from the show. In March last year he was honoured with a wax-double at the Musée Grévin in Paris You can read – France’s equivalent of more on these Madame Tussauds. r website Sy, 34, was born in stories on ou Trappes, Yvelines to a www. Mauritanian mother and Senegalese father. connexionfrance. He went to school with com fellow comedian and actor Jamel Debbouze (also from Trappes) who offered him the chance to join him on his show Le Cinéma de Jamel Omar Sy won a César for Best Actor for his role in Intouchables – setting him on his career path. tried to return her to a family member, they refused, so instead she was dropped at a nearby hospital emergency unit. An initial report has highlighted failings at the care home, but also “negligence” on the part of the family. Care home manager Richard Claverie said: “We made a mistake and I want to sincerely apologise to this resident.” He said the decision to leave her at a hospital instead of taking her back to the care home was “clumsy”.

Free scraps plans to block web advertising

INTERNET service provider Free has abandoned plans to automatically block ads on websites visited by its customers, after uproar from advertisers who warned it would jeopardise the digital economy. Advertisers and site owners who rely on income from banners complained to digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin that the move would seriously harm their business.

Virgin Megastore placed under administration VIRGIN Megastore has been placed under judicial administration. The

company will be examined, and reassessed on March 21 after it claimed it could no longer pay bills or staff following a drop in profits. Plunging CD and DVD sales have hit company profits hard in recent years as films and music become


A BRITISH trawler was arrested at sea and forced to berth at Ouistreham, Normandy, after being caught with 17 tonnes of illegally-caught scallops on board. The Van Dijck was the third British fishing boat arrested in five months. The skipper was accused of fishing in French waters and switching off the location-finder to hide his position. He was forced to jettison the scallops, which would be worth more than e100,000. He faces a fine of up to e100,000 and a year in jail.

increasingly distributed online, both legally and illegally.

Airport protestors stage open air music festival PROTESTORS occupying the site of a

February 2013

new airport near Nantes have used the land to set up an unofficial music festival attracting thousands of visitors. The FestiZad event at Notre Dame des Landes featured three days of live music and passed without any major incidents, according to police, although it had not received a permit from the prefecture. Campaigners have occupied the site since last summer to try to halt the building of the new Aéroport du Grand Ouest, about 30km north-west of Nantes. It is planned to replace Nantes Atlantique Airport.

New 75% tax law ready for autumn at the latest

A REVISED law imposing a 75% income tax rate on millionaires in France will be resubmitted to parliament by autumn at the latest and could come into force in early 2014, the government has announced. The delay comes after the original version of the law was thrown out by the Conseil Constitutionnel because it was considered unconstitutional. The Conseil Constitutionnel ruled that the original wording of the law was unfair because it calculated the tax on an individual basis, when other income tax is applied at household level.

Burger King sells out on its return to France

BURGER King’s new outlet at Marseille-Provence airport – the only one in France – is doing a roaring trade, selling up to 2,000 meals a day. The restaurant even had to close for a few hours at one point because it ran out of stock. “Take-away bags are not enough, they’re coming with cardboard boxes,” a manager told radio station Europe 1. “We are victims of our success, there are no more Whoppers in stock.” The keenest customers are firefighters from Marseille fire stations who collect batches to take to colleagues, he said. Fast-food and France, Page 12

Programmer sues PayPal for e960m A FRENCH software engineer has demanded e960 million in damages from PayPal after accusing it of stealing his idea for a secure online payment system. José Montet lodged his claim with the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, saying that PayPal’s success – and its e1.5 billion buyout by eBay in 2002 – was based on his copyrighted system. Mr Montet says he lodged details of his “secret mail” system with the Agence Française de Protection des Programmes (APP) and the US Copyright Office. After failing to find backers for the project he moved on to other work but, in 2007, he found that PayPal used the same system and it had been a key reason for the

Photo: Marina Dyakonova -

10 News

company being bought by eBay in 2002. Mr Montet told the Huffington Post that he had tried to contact eBay with no success. His lawyer had written to PayPal asking for proof their system had been written before his but PayPal replied saying only that the company’s history was on its website. The court will give its ruling on February 8.

The Connexion

Teacher denies tying tot to chair as punishment

Dentists accused of damaging sound teeth

Police take child from school over lunch cash

A TEACHER in Narbonne has been accused of tying a three-year-old to his chair as a punishment. Both police and education authorities are investigating after a mother said her son was tied up. The teacher, a supply teacher with 20-years’ experience, says she “threatened to punish” the boy but did not do it. Investigations are underway and the Narbonne public prosecutor’s office says it is taking it extremely seriously.

DENTISTS in a group of Parisian health centres have been accused of damaging healthy teeth so they can charge high fees for crowns and bridges. Health union CFDT Santé has made the allegations against dentists at Cosem, a non-profit-making body which has 375 health professionals in three centres, including 80 dentists. CFDT representative Jean-Paul Boidard said the patients involved were usually on the CMU-C, healthcare cover for people on low incomes that has good reimbursement for bridges and crowns. Cosem denies the allegations.

FRANCE’S ‘Rights Defender’ is investigating why police took a five-year-old from a school canteen because her parents had not paid a e170 lunch bill. A municipal police officer took the girl out of school before giving her something to eat at the police station. The headteacher said he had not been aware of the problem as canteen payments were dealt with by the mairie. The police claim they acted on orders from the mairie, which the mairie denies. See letters on page 16.

Chickens to eat rubbish in waste reduction trial

RESIDENTS in the Doubs are being encouraged to keep hens to eat their rubbish and reduce the amounts left for refuse collectors. The department’s rubbish collection agency, Sybert, says: “A chicken can peck up to 150kg of rubbish in a year. It therefore becomes good economic sense to keep hens. They eat your rubbish and turn it into eggs.” Fifteen families are testing the scheme, called “Hens for my rubbish,” from March to June and will weigh their bin each time to see the effects.

Family sue after funeral service without body

UNDERTAKERS are being sued by the family of a woman who had to hold her funeral service without the body. The woman had wanted to be buried in a Gironde village next to her husband but the funeral home took too long bringing her body from Biarritz where she died that the service went ahead without her.

Internet shopping leads to rise in bank fraud

Bank fraud rose 30% in the space of one year – half of it linked to the internet. The rise is thought to be linked to more people buying online. As well as using bank and credit card details stolen online, fraudsters also used information like passwords and user names. Only half of those hit reported the crimes. The study of 17,000 people, by national statistics body Insee and crime trends body ONDRP, was based on 2011 data.

Marseille culture year launched

invested around a billion euros in preparations, largely in city-centre infrastructure – sprucing up the Old Port area, renovations to museums, and new facilities. The city and the surrounding area of Provence will host more than 400 cultural events this year, including sixty art exhibitions. It is hoped there will be around 12 million visitors in 2013 – double the usual amount.

Photo: ©Romain Beurrier/Wostok Press/Maxppp

PRIME Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault launched the start of Marseille-Provence’s year as European Capital of Culture. The PM stood in for President Hollande, who had to attend a last-minute defence meeting on Africa. Police estimated almost 400,000 people watched the event, which supporters hope will be a turning point for Marseille’s image and prosperity. The city has

On the slim chance UK leaves EU, what happens to expats? THE likelihood of the UK leaving the EU looks slim with Prime Minister David Cameron saying he will seek to renegotiate the country’s relationship with the EU rather than looking to exit. He was set to make a speech setting out his vision for Europe as Connexion went to press. He was expected to say he would seek to repatriate some powers and would offer a referendum on these arrangements - not leaving the EU - if re-elected with a majority in 2015. “Is it not in Britain’s national interest to argue for changes which... will strengthen and sort out the relationship between Britain and the EU, and then to ask the British people for their consent?” asked Mr Cameron during a recent Commons question time. Any new terms are unlikely to affect Britons in France, said Christopher Chantrey, chairman of the Paris branch of Conservatives Abroad; though he said there is a risk they would tarnish Britain’s image, with the UK being seen as only in the EU for its own benefit. “I think the basic rights will be still there, I can’t see other states agreeing to any changes to them – one of them being freedom of movement. It’s going to be things like the working time directives and legislation on pay.” It was unlikely Britain would leave the EU. “I think realism will prevail as people realise there’s too much to lose.” Question marks do remain however, over the result if new terms are turned down at a referendum or if they are not agreed by the other states. According to extracts released from Cameron’s speech he planned to warn of a possible “drift towards the exit”, should powers not be handed back. If Britain comes out, there is a risk we would “go back to where we were before 1973,” Mr Chantrey said. “You had to have a foreigner’s resident’s card and it was much more bureaucratic. We wouldn’t have a right to be here; we’d only be here if the French didn’t mind.” Franco-British avocat Gérard Barron of Boulogne-sur-Mer said refusal by other states of a renegotiation could mean Britain having to make a decision

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on staying or leaving. This would require a referendum, which in turn would mean “a very long and heated debate in both parliament and the media” before it took place. “I don’t think people are stupid. Once they have totted it up they will realise that in the long term it might mean they won’t be able to go on holiday on the continent any more be­cause the pound could become like the Moroccan dhiram [worth e0.09]; they will lose at least half of their trade with Europe and have to import more. I think everyone would vote to stay in.” If the opposite happened, there would be transitional arrangements over at

I think realism will prevail as people realise there’s too much to lose Christopher Chantrey Conservatives Abroad

least two or three years, ensuring British residents did not immediately lose current rights, he said. However ultimately Britons would be in the position of other non-EU nationals - they would need to apply for residency permits from the prefecture. With regard to healthcare, étrangers with residency cards have the right to the CMU (free membership of state healthcare for those on the lowest incomes, or otherwise membership via payment of a percentage of income). Even if the renegotiation fails, chances are “close to zero” Britain would sever all ties, Mr Barron said. What is more likely, would be retaining membership of the EEA, like Switzerland or Norway. “This gives everyone virtually the same rights, but the British government would have no say in how the EU is run.” Britons would keep the same residency and healthcare rights, he said.


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12 Fast food

by OLIVER ROWLAND FAST-FOOD giant McDonald’s aims to seduce further the French market with the launch of a range of “Frenchstyle” sandwiches – all of which have more calories than a Big Mac. It comes as Food Minister Guillaume Garot prepares to speak to the food industry in a bid to find ways to help people avoid fattening foods - and reduce France’s growing obesity levels. A traffic light scheme with green for non-fattening foods is one proposal. McDonal’ds has 1,200 branches in France (home-grown European rival Quick has around 400) and wants to consolidate its dominant position but could run foul of ministers who reacted with alarm to a study showing obesity has doubled in 15 years. Its new casse-croûte menu comes after the chain experimented last year with “McBaguettes” – burgers inside French stick-style bread – and the range will have a version of the classic jambon-fromage (ham and cheese), the most popular snack in France. Costing e4.50 with a medium-sized drink, it has ham, Emmental, white sauce and hash browns. There is also seasoned beef with “oriental” sauce and “crunchy chicken” with pepper sauce. A Camembert sandwich is also planned later this year. Global rival Burger King recently made a successful come-back to

The Connexion

February 2013


As France battles rising obesity, McDonald’s launches a French-style menu – with more calories than Big Mac

Researchers say too many happy meals could be linked to rise in asthma

France after 15 years away with a new outlet at Marseille-Provence airport. Selling around 2,000 meals a day, it has seen such demand that it was forced to close for a few hours at one point because it ran out of stock. Fans, who have been making special trips to the airport to eat, claim its “double whopper” is the “Rolls-Royce of burgers in France”. But while fast food demand seems unending, Mr Garot is to hold a first meeting early this month to look at ideas to conquer obesity including the traffic light system. A spokesman said: “A working group will get together in the first week of February with people from

the Agriculture Ministry and from the big French food groups to decide what means will be put into action to fight obesity and improve the nutritional quality of our products.” It came after a government-backed study, ObEpi, found obesity had doubled in 15 years, with the trend growing fastest among the young – 35% more 18-24-year-olds were obese in 2012 than in 2009. And, although Mireille Guiliano says French Women Don’t Get Fat in her book, the study showed that women are more obese than men in every age range except the over-65s. The results come despite a Sarkozy government Obesity Plan 2010-13,

where he “wanted France to make a bold commitment to prevention and improve treatment of obesity”. Fuelling concerns is a study from New-Zealand, where researchers found eating fast food more than three times a week makes children more vulnerable to debilitating health conditions including asthma, rhinitis and eczema. Fast food is also coming under attack with the rise of the slow-food movement and others, such as Mich­ elin three-star Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata, saying it was “polluting” tastes in his home country. In the US Coca-Cola – often accused of contributing to weight

problems there – has decided to play the honesty card, launching adverts which remind people of the calories in the drink (140 per full-calorie can), suggesting that people should “have fun while burning them”. McDonald’s, too, is reacting. It has put calorie counts on US menus. That may not help French waistlines. But even if doctors say a third are too fat they still have a long way to go to catch the “Anglo-Saxons”, who are among the world’s heavyweights. Just 15% of French over-18s are considered clinically obese, this compares to 26% of English people (2010 figures) and 36% in America (2012 figures, taking “adults” as over-20s).

Burger chain experiments with Cantal and pretzels

FRANCE has been the largest McDo market outside the US for several years – said to be because people sit down for more than one course. The chain has suffered from accusations of American cultural imperialism and bringing in malbouffe (junk food) and has reacted by trying to gain a French

accent as it has previously tried crunchy goat’s cheese salad, a McCantal cheeseburger and Charolais beef burgers. It is paying off as it opened 41 restaurants last year and plans another 44 this year, with the Casse-Croûte range being part of its strategy to increase its appeal. At the launch, McDonald’s France executive Nawfal Trabelsi told Le Figaro: “We had to wait to have legitimacy in France before we could offer such a product. For around a decade now we’ve been moving towards a more French-style McDo.” The baguette trial was popular – cho-

sen by one in three diners – and a miniature version, Petit McBaguette, joined menus at the end of 2012. With the three new sandwiches amounting to 565 calories (ham), 605 (beef) and 719 (chicken), or 895 for the latter with a medium Coca-Cola, they are fairly hefty “snacks” – more calorific than a Big Mac (510), although that usually comes with a side portion of chips. It is experimenting in other markets, too, with a burger in a pretzel bun in Germany and a yin and yang duo of burgers in China.

The Connexion

February 2013

I’m 42 this month – in France, I’m in my prime Samantha Brick’s Daily Mail piece ‘Why do women hate me for being beautiful’ became a viral internet hit, making her the butt of jokes and parodies and propelling her to notoriety, a stint in the Celebrity Big Brother house and spots on ITV’s This Morning. But, she tells Connexion, she would never have written it without the confidence gained from living in France

by SAMANTHA BRICK I’d take an intelligent guess in suggesting that a year ago - you probably didn’t have the foggiest idea who I am. However I was catapulted into the limelight in April 2012 when I went from being just another expat who had fallen in love with and married a Frenchman, to a ‘controversial’ writer crucified across the globe for her strident views. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I became a household name overnight. The reason? I wrote a piece for the British newspaper the Daily Mail entitled ‘Why do women hate me for being beautiful?’ When I pitched the idea in February of that same year, I made it perfectly clear to my editor that I rather suspected I would take a fair bit of flack for such a provocative opinion piece. But I couldn’t care less – I’d had enough of being judged and ostracised by jealous and insecure women who couldn’t see past what I looked like. The morning I hit send on my email to propose the feature idea, I’d just been snubbed by one of my French neighbours – who was, I had discovered, terrified that her husband fancied me. Her husband – a friend of my other half – was regularly around our kitchen table discussing work or sharing an apero at the end of the working day. I even looked after her kids from time-to-time. The cruelly delivered snub – she ignored my friendly wave as she drove past me - was the final nail in the coffin. My only crime was taking care of how I looked. Today, I remain a full-time writer, but my life has changed beyond all measure. I’m frequently ‘papped’ when I’m in London, I put up with being filmed at airports on iPads and smartphones. I regularly come across vitriol

on expat message boards about me and I wake up daily to particularly vile messages on social network sites. Those are the only downsides – and quite honestly I give much of it short sharp shrift – for the plus points are numerous, and not just for me either. In my local village of Cazals in the Lot, barely a month goes by without this camera crew or that photo-shoot taking place. We’ve had an endless stream of photographers from the UK, film crews from Australia to Japan, a continual onslaught of curious journalists from all over the world lining up to interview me. Far from such intrusions having a negative impact on rural French life; the locals love it! The village bar benefits from the bottles of champagne bought (champagne! In a French village!), ditto the local restaurateur as camera crews and journalists only ever order platters of foie gras and platefuls of scallops. Everyone wins; the media falls in love with rural France and the locals have their profits boosted. These days I share out such visits amongst everyone – owners of chambre d’hôtes,

restaurants and stores – to ensure that all local businesses benefit. Everyone has gained from my infamy. As for me, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on writing ‘that’ piece. Most of my close friends were gobsmacked that I dared to write publicly on such an issue. Why?, they asked, this wasn’t the Sam they knew. My conclusions are this: I would not have had the gumption to pen it had I not been living in France. I’m happy in my relationship, comfortable in my own skin and like what I see when I look in the mirror.

A French marriage is different – you still take care of yourself. Hitting 40 isn’t an excuse to reach for the Spanx and the snacks and let it all hang out

Samantha’s husband Pascal was bemused by the reaction to the piece

Five years in France has infiltrated my psyche and has imbued me with a self-assurance which British women just don’t possess. Confidence in my looks (in spite of the unflattering pictures of me used to support the original piece) and an unwavering sureness in my opinion. My belief has been backed up by thousands of women around the world who to this day write me lengthy emails not only agreeing with me but also sharing their own experiences. I have also, touchingly, received dozens of

Interview 13 emails from other female expats all over France describing similar experiences. My inspirations are all around me; I look at my mother-in-law in her seventies who possesses an air of self-confidence normally only seen in twenty-something women in the UK. Likewise my husband’s grandmother, who is 92, is always elegant and beautifully turned out – she still turns heads. Being around such formidable women has, over time, made me reassess my own self-worth. While British women in their twenties appear to be the only age group worth praising – it’s my experience then that this is not the case here in France. French women come into their own in their forties – think Valérie Trierweiler and Carla Bruni. I’m more confident now than ever. I’ll turn 42 this month and while most women my age struggle to have a voice in other countries – not so in France. I’m in my prime. When I first moved in with my husband I was gobsmacked to discover that French women really are something else. They don’t drink to excess, they watch their figure with a hawk-eye and they use any opportunity to exercise. The women in my extended French family diet four times a year. To be overweight, they believe, suggests you are unhappy in your soul. The diet products on sale in pharmacies all over France echo this notion – a siren call to look after yourself at every opportunity. Since I moved to France my husband has gained weight – he stopped smoking at my request. Yet the French look at his girth in horror openly suggesting he return to the cigarettes to regain his form. For his weight is commented on as frequently as mine. At French dinner parties weight is discussed as frequently and with the same candour as the weather. At one dinner party we even – to my absolute horror – lined up in the bathroom in front of the scales to ensure no one had lobbed off a couple of kilos of their true weight. Without question my husband has had a large influence not just over what I weigh – we both jump on the scales weekly – he has also inspired what I write and how I see myself in the world. A French marriage is different. It is expected that you take care of yourself. Hitting 40 isn’t an excuse to reach for the Spanx and the snacks and just let it all hang out. Pascal was and remains bemused by the attraction the feature garnered. He thinks the reaction was absurd and typically British. Our relationship hasn’t changed one iota. I was an artisan’s wife before it and continue to be so today. Where I live I’m still treated exactly the same way. Consequently I’m still the first port of call for my husband’s British clients and continue to run the administrative side of his business – much to the amusement of his clients. These days they are more used to seeing me on television – I’m a regular contributor to ITV’s This Morning and was also on Celebrity Big Brother last year. But I’m equally at ease talking about their roofs, quotes and Pascal’s availability. When the plane touches down in Toulouse or Bergerac I flip back into French housewife mode. Ten months later and my memoirs of moving to France are due to be published exactly a year after I wrote the piece. Naysayers will be pleased to note that since I wrote it, men still buy me drinks and I’ve been paid perhaps the biggest compliment of all: one of the local men is insistent that I help him find a British wife – someone, apparently just like me…

14 Comment

Don’t hold your breath 1


hree months ago, we remarked here that “it does seem odd that it hadn’t occurred to the previous regime to consider (the) justification” for the law requiring motorists to carry unused breathalysers at all times. That was prompted by the decision of the present transport minister, Manuel Valls, to have an expert committee examine how useful the law might be. Now the affair seems even odder as one member of the committee says that, so far from considering whether the law was justified, the previous government had not even bothered to check whether the breathalysers they insisted upon would actually work. It now seems likely some such testing will be needed before the committee can come up with a judgment, and that probably means a further delay in implementing the already much-delayed law. It may be remembered that, at the time the law was brought in, the government required that the breathalysers concerned must meet French standards. Apparently no foreign products could do that, placing the entire demand on French manufacturers, one of whom had a nearmonopoly. When it was suggested that people would need two breathalysers per car – in case one had been used – shops throughout France ran out of stocks, and stayed that way until fairly recently. Currently, the hang-fire law is suspended until the end of March. If you bought a kit and could not then find a second, or never got around to buying any at all, you would be well advised to bear the expert committee’s progress in mind before rushing out to clutter your glove compartment with items that may never be a legal requirement. One wonders how the retailers regard this nonsense as they contemplate the stocks they have now invested in to meet an apparently vast, unfulfilled demand.

Don’t hold your breath 2


t first sight, the long campaign to abolish the unreasonable 15-year voting limit on UK expatriates has fizzled out with Conservative peer Lord Lexden’s decision to withdraw his amendment to move for abolition in the recent debate on electoral law. However, he says he has another opportunity later in the Bill’s parliamentary timetable to reopen the debate and some small benefits for expatriate voters have already been achieved. Lord Lexden and others also commented on the standard of debate concerning these issues, which ranged from insulating comments about the voters in question to a degree of ignorance of electoral and democratic representational issues and processes extraordinary for a house of legislators. Curiously, when all seemed lost, a new possibility of reconsidering the 15-year rule is appearing on the horizon. David Cameron’s Conservative side of the coalition had seen planned boundary changes affecting constituency sizes as a sure way of obtaining a working majority at the 2015 general election, but has seen the House of Lords turn that dream to dust by voting down the changes. Conservative electoral strategists will now be casting around for other ways to replace those missing potential votes. Could they re-examine the role of longer-standing expatriates? If they do so, will they see enough missing would-be Conservative voters out there? Or will they, instead, ponder the bloody noses they have inflicted on some expatriates over such issues as eligibility for disability benefits and winter fuel allowances, the churlish way they conceded these at the EU’s insistence, and their continued failure to acknowledge the just claims for back-dating them?

February 2013

SIMON HEFFER, the renowned political commentator and historian, turns his gaze to France and the French


The Connexion


s Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, the radical socialist National Assembly member for Paris, so pungently said of François Hollande’s commitment of French troops to Mali: “Hollande-bashing had one key motivation – indecision. There, he’s taken a decision.” The man nicknamed Monsieur Flanby because of his moral and intellectual impersonation of the eponymous blancmange now finds himself not just president, but commander-in-chief of an expeditionary force, sent to the Sahel at the request of one of a former colony, and engaged now in the fight against al-Qaeda. What happens next is fraught with difficulties. On one level, as M Cambadélis said, the cry for help from Mali has achieved, for the moment, one thing at least. It has made a man who seemed incapable of taking a decision look decisive. However, one forgets that M Hollande has taken a number of decisions since taking office last May, and many have been pitifully wrong-headed – such as his desire to increase spending on education, to lower the retirement age, and to whack up taxes to a point where an exodus of wealthy people is pouring through the Channel Tunnel, over the borders into Belgium and Switzerland, and even, bizarrely, to the apparent warmth of the Russian tyranny of Vladimir Putin. So the French, and indeed the rest of the world, must hope that this decision is superior to some of M Hollande’s economic ones. It may be some time before any of us can be sure. As Connexion reports (page 4), the expedition to Mali comes at a price, both financial and human. The cash cost is e400,000 a day, meaning that the sum budgeted for external defence operations is “bound to be broken”, in the words of National Assembly member Guy Teissier. With a general consensus emerging that a new front has been opened against al-Qaeda that could pin down French and other UN forces for years, even decades, a contingency fund will have to be found. It is also clear that the longer the conflict lasts, and the more entrenched French troops become and the more protracted their supply lines, the more it will cost – e400,000 a day is only the start. Nor should France imagine that the initial commitment President Hollande has made of 2,500 troops will necessarily be the end of the matter. The British, following commitments in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent decades, can testify only too well that such things have a habit of expanding, not least because they provoke a greater reaction on the part of the enemy. This is not merely a postcolonial excursion, of course, and nor is it purely designed to make a weak man look

Hollande has made a decision at last – he must get used to it strong. As we also report, there is a considerable population of French nationals in the region and – most pertinent – neighbouring Niger is a main source of uranium for the nuclear power stations that keep French lights blazing. Mali also has a wealth of minerals that no western power would want to see fall into the hands of terrorists, notably gold.


nd, to be fair to M Hollande, he may see that the fight against Islamic extremism is one in which all western nations, with a way of life and civilisation to protect, need to roll up their sleeves and engage in. France’s role in Afghanistan, which also produces terrorists who attack western interests, was massively undistinguished, and calibrated according to Nicolas Sarkozy’s own electoral considerations. M Hollande had better steel himself, because pulling out French troops from Mali because they begin to sustain casualties would not do him any good at all. But France should be in no doubt that it is putting itself at risk not just of vast and possibly open-ended expense, and of sustaining military casualties and fatalities that could play badly at home, but also of endangering the lives of its civilian population because of its intervention. Al-Qaeda made it very clear from the moment France answered Mali’s call that

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French interests around the world were vulnerable. That does not just mean embassies and consulates but also, as was seen in the hostage-taking in Algeria, French commercial interests too. It also means that France itself is vulnerable – not just to attacks from trained terrorists, but from unrest among young and aggressive Muslims in the banlieues around French cities for whom what they perceive as anti-Islamic aggression is an excuse to go out and cause mayhem. France itself is going to have to raise its level of security consciousness, impinging on the way of life of millions of French residents, and at a large monetary cost. In the early days M Hollande was at least sustained by a lack of criticism from his political opponents about the intervention. But once the hostage crisis at In Amenas was over, the consensus began to fragment. It was not just politicians on the right who began to criticise for a lack of preparation behind the expedition (though wars tend not to wait for that sort of thing) but also, more worryingly for the President, some on the left. If he consults the history books and sees what undermined Tony Blair when he sanctioned the British intervention in Iraq a decade ago, he will note it was his own party, who drove him out of office eventually and who loathe him still. I doubt a UMP president or administration would have been able to do any differently from M Hollande in these circumstances. Alain Juppé, the former foreign minister, is already warning of the spiral into which France has got itself, and of the need for a strategy now the commitment has been made. M Hollande has been decisive once, and he is going to have to get into the habit of being so. Simon Heffer is also a columnist for the Daily Mail

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The Connexion

Focus 15

February 2013

Lines are drawn in the battle for ‘family values’ THE GOVERNMENT will press ahead with its commitment to legalise gay marriage and adoption in France despite a second huge protest in Paris. A dispute over the turn-out figures – 340,000 according to police, 800,000 according to the organisers – does little to undermine the fact that it was large: much larger than the 1999 demonstration against the pacs (which created a civil partnership for gay couples) that drew 100,000 people. The leader of the ‘Manif pour tous’, comedienne Frigide Barjot is an interesting figurehead. Her name sounds like a drag act, she has used pink as a dominant colour in the protest that she named “pour tous” and has no qualms about injecting some theatre in front of the cameras– in short, she has stolen gay campaigning styles. Marching by her side is Xavier Bongibault, an openly gay man who opposes

the gay marriage bill and who briefly threatened to upstage her with a nonetoo-subtle reference on TV likening François Hollande to Adolf Hitler, that he immediately had to play down. Bongibault’s presence draws attention to the fact that the gay community does not speak with one voice on the subject (see our interviews below). The march drew Christian and Muslim groups together, alongside centre right politicians. UMP leader JeanFrançois Copé took part and the party will oppose the bill in the National Assembly – with the exception of one of the party’s MPs, Franck Riester, who has said he is gay. On the other side, gay campaigners are searching for new strategies. Outlandish costumes and in-your-face “queerness” are no longer appropriate in a campaign focusing on obtaining family-orientated rights like marriage

Photo: ©Vincent Isore/IP3 press

Government stands by commitment to gay marriage as huge protests take place in Paris

We are family – Frigide Barjot’s campaign style has lifted the colour and glamour normally reserved for gay pride and adoption. Plus, younger gays are starting to find gay pride old-fashioned and embarrassing. The size of the anti-gay marriage demonstrations have taken the government by surprise. Bertrand Delanoë, the openly-gay mayor of Paris has already sent a bill for e100,000 to the Préfecture de Paris and the Interior Ministry for the damage

caused to the lawns on the Champ-deMars, when it authorised the Manif pour tous demonstration. Delanoë denied claims of party politics by saying he did the same for organisers of a Johnny Hallyday concert and SOS Racisme. Gay marriage is a manifesto commitment of President Hollande and, despite a clumsy wobble where he tried

to placate opposition by promising to allow French mayors “freedom of conscience” in whether they applied the law or not, he is sticking to it. He has however dropped a portion of the Loi Taubira (named after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira) that would have given homosexual couples the right to ask for medical assistance to conceive children.

Connexion asked two gay men – with different opinions on the issue – to explain their views

A pacs isn’t enough for straight people – why should it be enough for us? Gay people can already formalise their relationship with a civil contract (pacs), so why do they want to get married? If a pacs is not enough for straight people then why should it be enough for us? Pacs doesn’t give all the same protections as marriage, inheriting a pension for example. It hasn’t the same symbolic strength as marriage. If someone proposes marriage it’s more than proposing a pacs. Marriage is a strong bond and why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to form these strong enduring family ties? Allowing gay marriage will end a long-standing discrimination against gay people. And what about adopting children? Single gay people can already adopt, of course. All this law will do is mean same sex couples can adopt as a couple with both of them becoming parents. This will give adopted children more protection - in the case of death of one parent for example. When founding a family the essential thing isn’t gender, it’s love and commitment. When a straight couple adopt, their children don’t have the same DNA as their adoptive parents but they are still their children. In the same way a

FOR: Michel Bouvard same sex couple can give adopted children a loving home. Why do you think some gay people are against gay marriage? The fact that some gays say they are against marriage is only the same as straight men who say they don’t want to get married. What if marriage was abolished for all straight people just because some straight men are against getting married? It would be ridiculous! Researchers say that the same percentage of straight and gay people want to get married, so personally I think that gay men who don’t want to get married aren’t really concerned by this law. This new law does not give same-sex couples the right to ask for medically assisted

conception [PMA in French] but would you be for/ against it? Why shouldn’t same-sex couples have the same rights as other people? Under the same conditions? I don’t see the problem because if straight couples can do it, why not gay ones? But in actual fact surrogate mothering is illegal in France, so for straight or for male couples it’s out of the question. For women it’s more simple and conception can often be achieved informally, but of course the other partner can’t officially be a second parent. But in any case, there is very little possibility for gay couples to get assisted with conception. When you saw this promise in President Hollande’s election manifesto, did you think it would create such a stir? When we saw the proposed law we didn’t expect such a large and violent reaction against it. We didn’t think people in France were so homophobic. But this hasn’t created homophobia, it has revealed it. I was ashamed and pained to see so many people at the rally in January because I saw so many people being homophobic but when I saw the way and methods the organisers used to motivate people... I wasn’t surprised.

Dropping ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from the civil code is an anthropological lie Why are you against gay marriage? No, I’m not against gay marriage as such, but I am against the proposal to drop the words “father” and “mother” from the code civil [the laws under which couples get married in France] and replace them with the words “parents”. Children don’t have “parents” they have a mother and a father. The law isn’t just about marriage but is about defining parents. You can’t physically have two fathers. You can’t physically have two mothers. You can only have one birth mother and one birth father. Dropping the terms “mother” and “father” from the code civil is an anthropological lie. So a pacs should be enough for gay couples? No, a pacs isn’t enough as it is. I agree that it needs to be improved or re-written to give more equal rights. Or perhaps we could create a “civil alliance” which would have the same rights and duties as marriage. Are you also against adoption by same sex couples? I think gay couples should be able to adopt but not as “two fathers” or “two mothers”.

AGAINST: Emmanuel Ducamp They should have to choose which one is the father and what the other one should be called. Perhaps “beau-père (step-father)? They should still have equal rights with each other about the adoption but it’s impossible to have two fathers. We have to create laws which reflect the reality of nature. Introducing this gay marriage law doesn’t make us the same as any one else, we are all different and we should celebrate our differences. A man and a woman are not the same thing. This law doesn’t give same-sex couples the right to ask for medically assisted conception, but the Manif Pour Tous movement is campaigning against it anyway. Would you be for/against this? It was originally included and it’s true that it has been dropped, but what if they introduce it again just after the law has been passed? I don’t

know what the government wants to do but you hear of extravagant examples of people conceiving children and surrogate mothers from a catalogue. How on earth is it possible to rent a woman’s womb? It’s illegal in France of course, but how long will that be the case? All these issues go to the heart of humanity and should be extensively debated. We want a referendum, but the president won’t do it. I expect eventually the law will be passed but there is no democracy any more. When you saw the proposals in President Hollande’s election programme, did you expect so much protest? Basically I don’t agree with any of Hollande’s programme so I didn’t really think about it. I thought he would never do it. After all election promises are usually instantly forgotten. But Holland was manipulated by a minority LGBT group who say that all gays are in favour of same sex marriage. By January 13 I knew there was a lot of opposition but even so, I was amazed at how many people turned out.

What do you think: What is your view on gay marriage? What do you think of the right for gays to adopt? Email replies to news@ – with Marriage in the subject field

16 Letters

Here we run readers’ reaction on Facebook to news items.

Send it to The Connexion at the address on Page 2 Photo: Georges Biard

Gérard Depardieu Russian actor

In a nuclear-free world, France would just be another mid-size power with great cuisine

Lotto winner to keep job Road deaths dropping A man who won a e102m lottery jackpot has said he will keep on working. The trader from Revel near Toulouse, said he hopes he “maintains the family harmony of our current life”. Would you do the same?

New York Times

Academic writer Ward Wilson in opinion piece The Myth of Nuclear Necessity

Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion Operation Desert Storm leader who died in December

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bertrand de Labbey

Photo: flickr/Jérôme Choain

Carla Bruni’s agent ahead of her first album release after Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat

Gay-parent families seem to be inventing an interesting model based around the child and not around the couple

Caroline Fourest

Photo: Eurobas

Journalist and gay rights campaigner

Why buy a paper when you can buy a journalist?

Spoken 20 years ago by the businessman who has just bought La Provence and Nice-Matin

ROAD accident death figures dropped last year with 3,700 deaths in 2012, down about 300 on the previous year.

Art Mather: No, why enter if you are going to carry on working? Let someone who needs a job have your job and spend your life helping others with some of your winnings. You will feel good doing it.

Colin Morley: Good news. But there still remain about twice as many road deaths per head of population than in the UK. Driving standards are pretty abysmal, but the perceived “cure” seems to be to introduce more and more speed cameras, rather than educate drivers to the dangers of following too closely, overtaking inappropriately etc. I love France, but I have to say I’m continually astounded by stupid drivers.

Jan Wallace: Unbelievable, the least he could is to give his job to someone who needs it and then do something for his community. People will find out who he is through his tax returns, better he fess’s up beforehand or he’ll end up having to move.

Alan Knighting: Does this statistic vary from one region of France to another? I only ask because for many years I lived in the South West of France and there I found congestion levels to be relatively low and driving standards to be relatively quite high.

Paul Southon: Yes. I am now retired here in La Belle France, but if I was younger and if I was enjoying my job and that job, for which I had been trained, made good use of my talents and actually helped others, then I may well have continued

Adrian Fox: What shocks and worries me are the number of roadside ‘shrines’ which are on perfectly straight open pieces of road where the only reason for the fatality must have been excessive speed or dangerous overtaking.

Jan Riordan: Typical response for a man from this area, valuing family and friends and lifestyle above materialism.

General ‘Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf

Bernard Tapie

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl was led out of her school canteen by police beJoin the debate cause her parents had on French news run up a bill of e170. She was taken to a stories every day at police station, fed, and brought back to school. The Connexion Police say they were acting on orders from the mairie. and removing her from the canteen? Why would the mairie use the police on the subject of debt Caroline Mills: How shameful that this mayor, in a recovery when there is the bailiff whose job it is to position of trust and respect, did not display more collect unpaid debts... Stupidity and the worst of common sense. Did anyone think to arrest him, for wasting police time? Surely his role should have been French bureaucracy at work, the only saving grace was that someone actually fed the child during to contact the parents? this debacle. Judith Munns: It is disgraceful and shouldn’t the David Lindy: Surprising. Our mayor would probapolice have questioned the ‘order’? bly have paid for the child’s fee himself. He has to my knowledge paid out of his own pocket for a school Jan Wallace: Why on earth did the school allow jacket for one child a calculator for another and even the police to take the child out of school? What new gears on a teenagers bike. But he is exceptional kind of law enforcement agency would act in and we are only 200 in the village. this way against a child by entering the school

Photo: ©Photocomptoir - Fotolia

Have you seen a quote from someone in public life that stood out, some words that summed up life … or even made you laugh out loud?

She made a choice. She chose a man she loves and she is happy with him

February 2013

How can I stop Police take girl out of mystery calls? school over lunch debt

They said it …

I’m not a criminal. I skidded on my scooter, I fell asleep. Even if I eat a salad with too much vinegar, I already have too much alcohol in my blood

The Connexion

I wonder if readers can help me resolve a problem. For the last five to six months, Monday to Saturday always around 17.3018.00 hours, I receive a phone call. When I answer there is no-one there. If I do not answer, the phone rings four or five times and then stops. The display of the number calling is blocked but I have managed to obtain it via my computer but if I try to call back it is blocked. I am subscribed to a list in order to eliminate unwanted publicity calls and this has generally been successful. I have contacted Orange but they say there is nothing they can do and advised me to go to the gendarmes. The gendarmes then told me that there is nothing they can do. After six months it is becoming very tedious. Other than changing my phone number, does anyone have any advice or recommendations? Jeremy Thornton By email

Take action on wind turbines Plans for 15,000 gigantic wind turbines are a real danger for France. The wind energy companies seem to have carte blanche to potentially destroy rural France’s identity and the government is complicit. Why? Farmers are enticed by money. Many have never lived outside their village or have any idea of the implications, or how special their surroundings are. Wind turbines are an incomprehensible waste of taxpayers money, fraudulent, worryingly unsustainable, and eroding democracy and property values. Noise levels, along with medical statistics, are ignored. So what can you do? Be vigilant. Create an association. Get the latest news, videos, documentaries, help and facts, at the EPAW website www. Sign their petition for a moratorium, for an independent regulatory body and a call for appropriate designated zones. Dawn Lyde By email

The Connexion

February 2013

Letters 17

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Clarification on biking proposal Re. your article: “Biker armband law is kicked out”. The proposed law has been widely mis-reported. The law did not make fluorescent clothing compulsory; it called for 150cm2 of auto-réfléchissant material – reflective, not fluorescent – and did not specify an armband either, although that was one way of doing it. It had to be on the body, between waist and shoulder line, and visible to other road users, but did not need to be in one block. It was designed to be seen from the rear and to be seen at night. Kevin Raymond Orval

112 will help in emergencies In your reply to the query on out-of-hours emergency help you do not suggest dialling 112. I understood that this number, with English speaking operators, was the best way to obtain help. It has certainly proved to be the answer for me on two occasions. Victoria Dunn Dordogne Connexion replies: The SOS Médecins service is to see a doctor, especially out-of-hours. For emer­gencies, yes, call 112 (general emergency services line) or speak to a doctor at the SAMU on 15.

Have you seen my brother?

I am writing in the hope that someone will recognise this picture and let my brother know that I am searching for him. He walked out of our lives for no apparent reason 18 years ago. My mum had a couple of letters from him but nothing since. We assumed he was dead as we have tried various methods to find him. A friend heard from him recently on a social networking site but now the account is inactive. He changed his name to Mike Stephens and is a property investor somewhere in France. His date of birth is 21/08/1962. He was born in Durham so will have a Geordie accent, although possibly he’s lost a lot of it by now. The last we heard he married a woman called Bella and spent some time in Huntingdon. Catherine West née Holt Contact Connexion with information, we will pass it on.

Local hunt is regulated, skilled and welcoming Thank you for your excellent article on hunting. What a different attitude there is in France to “hunters”, a term, as explained, which includes all forms of country sports and not just riding on horseback with hounds. We are actually respected and regarded as an essential part of community life. I moved to Picardie a few years ago and within a short time became involved with our local chasse as I had held a shotgun permit in the UK for over 50 years. I was welcomed and served my apprenticeship as a beater. I was educated into their ways and guided through the maze of bureaucracy to obtain my permis de chasse from the local Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs. The chasse in France is tightly regulated, as mentioned in the

excellent article in Connexion, especially for the quotas of different species allowed to be shot. The people who say the French will shoot anything and eat it are so wrong. There are even some species that you can only shoot between certain times of the day, and you have to have a bague (ring) to attach to nearly every quarry shot to show you have the authority to shoot it. In our small rural community the chasse organises at least two village functions a year and in addition its

Letter of the month

members seem to be the most active inhabitants. They are represented on all committees and help organise many other village activities. The chasse is regarded as a valuable part of the community and is respected for working in conjunction with the farmers and the conservatoire du littoral. What a wonderful way to learn more about French country traditions, language and patois, especially at the meals after the hunts. David Lindy

DAVID LINDY wins the Connexion letter of the month and a subscription to Connexion for a year (or an extension if already a subscriber.) Please include your address in correspondence; we can withhold it on request. The editor’s decision is final. Write to: The Connexion, Le Vedra, 38 Rue Grimaldi, 98000 Monaco or

Don’t ‘buy French’ – buy quality instead It was interesting to read that France has started to promote all things French once again. This tired and outdated effort, reminiscent of Labour in the UK under the Wilson government, has a somewhat sad and hollow ring to it. The enormous elephant in the room is that French products are not only unnecessarily expensive but also not very well produced. You can add to that the fact that retailers also appear to have no regard for guarantees or their customers consumer rights. These are just some of the reasons why France is having trouble selling its wares to other countries. Many countries now produce superior wines than the French but what have the French done to fight back? Nothing. Instead they treat their competition with contempt and distance themselves from reality. The same is true of food. Anyone who has tried shopping, ordering goods and services or attempted to navigate a French website will attest to the sheer effort required to spend money in France. Instead of welcoming international investment and quality imports they have wasted their time weaving ways to frustrate external business and keep all things French for France. Unfortunately they have spent too much time in this fool’s paradise and economics and technology have overtaken them. Unless France starts to wake up to the power of the internet and learns to respect outside competition it will suffer economic collapse and no amount of Gaelic shrugging and false promotion will stop it. Dusty Rhodes, by email

Car dealers’ tactics drove me to a Spanish bargain AFTER reading letters about buying a car in France I would like to relate my own experience. I went to a dealer in Anglet. I had already researched the model I wanted (a Toyota Land cruiser) with a few extras. I was told the extras were not possible, but if I wanted to upgrade to the top-of-the-range model I could have them. It was of course a lot more expensive, with extras that I didn’t want. After days of haggling I was told that the reason it was impossible to alter the specifications was because French people like to buy exactly the same model and same specifications so that when they re-sell the car the buyer knows exactly what they are buying. I was completely dumbfounded. I checked other dealers and the result was the same. It was obvious that competition between them just didn’t exist. So I crossed the border into Spain and bought the exact model I wanted, with the extras, for a price several thousand euros cheaper than in France. Importing was easy and all the formalities were completed in an afternoon. I know now why the car industry in France is suffering: competition does not exist and the showrooms are completely inflexible, at least in my experience. Ken Wheatley, by email

Why is bread bad for birds? The article “Nature Notes” in January’s Connexion, carried the headline “Feed the Birds – but no bread or coconut”. There was no explanation in the article for this exclusion and I was hoping that Aspas could elucidate for readers why we should not put out bread or coconut. (For years I have put out breadcrumbs without obvious problems arising but I would hate to be causing injury). David Nathan Dordogne Anne Fourier, of Aspas, replies: “Bread is a salted food, which dehydrates birds. It is preferable to use salt-free bread. As for coconut, it is only dried coconut that is dangerous. The bird swallows it and then it swells up in the stomach and causes digestive problems and possible injuries which can be fatal. The milky flesh of a fresh coconut is very much appreciated, especially by bluetits.” The RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in the UK recommend not giving bread to birds as they can develop cravings for starchy foods and forget how to forage naturally. White bread in particular is not very nutritious.

Fire in the hole you reported that a video camera had been used in a ladies’ toilet in – wait for it – Craponne(sur-Arzon). I did check, it is A-rZ-o-n, otherwise it might have been recording fire down below. I await the April Fool’s news. Lionel Barrell Talmont-Saint-Hilaire

Help us to protect the countryside your hunting article had a list of statistics. May I add another? The RSPB, with its one million plus members, is the largest NGO in Britain. The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, its French counterpart, has a little over 300,000, which helps to explain why the hunting lobby has so much clout and the conservation lobby so little. Like the chasseurs, the LPO are delighted to help UK newcomers to integrate, as we have found over many years. French conservation groups would consider the assurances of the hunt federation president as misleading propaganda, and believe the impact of hunting on wildlife to be almost wholly negative. I wonder if Aspas, who contribute a wildlife column in Connexion, would like to elaborate on this. They too, unlike the chasseurs, work wholly for the protection of wildlife. Readers might like to know about ROC, the Rassemblement des Opposants à la Chasse, an umbrella group which lobbies for the right of the majority of the population to enjoy safe and unthreatened access to the countryside throughout the year, and especially on Sundays. Name and address withheld on request

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Are you still working but wondering how you transfer your pension from work outside of France so you can claim at retirement? What happens if you have worked in several countries? How do French pensions work? What is QROPS? All you need to know on this important subject in easy-to-understand language. Especially written for Britons living in France. It also covers French state pensions, taxation issues related to British pensions and reader questions and answers. The Connexion February 2013

AFTER we moved to France I tried to have our mobile phones adapted for use here but was told that we could not just insert new SIM cards but would need new phones. I was also told that I could not have a pay-as-you-go system but would need to pay a sum in, the unused part of which would automatically be paid to Orange at the end of a given time and I would have to put more money in. Is this correct? T.B. British mobile phones are compatible with France. A problem only arises with ones from the USA. The only issue is that your British phone may have been “locked” by the original provider who sold it to you so that you can only use their SIM cards in it. If the handset was purchased on its own then it will be unlocked by default but if it was purchased with a contract or pay-as-you-go SIM card it is usually blocked. You should contact the provider’s customer service and ask for the code to unlock the SIM - you then put this into the handset and it is automatically unlocked. A spokeswoman for Orange confirmed this is the case. Under UK rules you have a right to unlock a pay-as-you-go phone that is more than a year old or if you have reached the end of a minimum term on a contract. You have to quote the phone’s IMEI number, obtained by inputting *#06# Pay-as-you-go – where you buy the SIM card only then top up from time to time (eg. over the phone with a bank card, or by buying top-up vouchers from bar-tabacs) – do exist but it is true that usually they come with a limited period in which to use the credit (the more you buy the longer it is). However if you top up again while credit is remaining, any remaining credit is added to the new amount and the new time period applies to the total. Having said this, last year B&You launched what it says is the only such service in France with no limited time periods.

What is the trading standards body? I HAVE a complaint to make about so-called energy-saving light-bulbs which I be­lieve do not match claims made on output and the number of hours they last. Can you tell me what is the French trading standards equivalent? R.W. The French equivalent at natio­ nal level is the Direction Géné­ rale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répres­

cial and paid cotisations to the RSI. I was told that my carte vitale (medical card) was being processed, but that there was a long wait. I was told I had a written attestation of rights, which was enough for my reimbursements. I finally discovered the reason for the delay was that there had been an error and my social security number was still a provisional one. The RSI then asked for a certified copy of my birth certificate, which I ordered from the General Registry Office in the UK and sent to the RSI. However, this was rejected because it lacked a “stamp and signature”. The British consulate says there are no other kinds. Can you help? E.S.

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Can British phones be used with a French SIM card?

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There is no reason your British phone cannot take a French SIM sion des Fraudes (DGCCRF). Locally, each department has either a direction départementale de la protection des populations (DDPP) or a direction départementale de la cohésion sociale et de la protection des populations (DDCSPP). Find yours at: www. tinyurl. com/French-Fraud-Bodies You can also call Allô Service Public for advice (in French) on 3939 (from abroad 0033 1 73 60 39 39) at the cost of a local call.

Is Urssaf request for paperwork normal? MY DAUGHTER is an auto-entrepreneur. She has been truthful in her dealings with bodies like CAF, RSI and Urssaf to whom she has to give an account of herself regularly, including what she does and how much she earns. Now Urssaf has asked her to supply two years of bank statements and names of people she has worked for. She is concerned that she has been chosen as an easy target. Is this normal practice? R.S. It is unlikely that she is being targeted especially. Urssaf does have wide powers to do checks on businesses and to ask for different kinds of paperwork. According to the branch for the Dordogne, a so-called contrôle sur pièces (check via paperwork) – as opposed to one where an inspector visits in person – may be done so as to make sure that firms are applying social charges rules properly - checking for example that there is no discrepancy between what has been declared and what is required by law. Any firm can be checked no matter how small and they are usually picked at random from a selection with certain target criteria

that year (relating to factors like size of business, business type or when it was set up).

Can we benefit from inheritance regulation? A RECENT Connexion article said there was a possibility that inheritance laws may change for non-French people resident in France. We were glad this would allow our UK wills to be effective in France rather than the French inheritance laws. However it was later suggested the rules might not apply to UK nationals as the UK opted out. Can you clarify please? P.C. This is no longer a proposal but has become EU law, though it only takes effect from summer 2015. Britons who live in France can benefit from the change but Britons who live in Britain with a second home in France cannot. This is because the UK did not opt in to the new regulation. The effect of the regulation is to allow for UK inheritance law to apply to the whole estate of a Briton living in France but you need to state this in a will for it to be applicable. UK inheritance law is more flexible than French law, which requires that you leave set portions to your children. French law also does not recognise step-children.

Why was my birth certificate rejected? I AM self-employed selling clip-in hair extensions. I started as an agent commer-

An RSI spokeswoman said that this kind of delay was unusual, however in your case it appears to have occurred because the birth certificate sent to the local RSI branch had not been translated into French by a traducteur assermenté (sworn translator) as the current rules require. However the spokeswoman said that, following our inquiry, the RSI was now ar­ranging for your certificate to be translated by the international social security advisory service, Cleiss. There is no charge for this. We hope that this sorts the matter out for you. For other readers seeking to join the French social security system we advise that you remind your Cpams that Cleiss is able to translate British - and some other nationalities’ birth certificates - free of charge on request from official bodies.

Was insurer right to demand proof of sale? I SOLD my car to a scrapyard and received papers proving the car had been scrapped and I cancelled my insurance. The insurance company in­ sisted I gave proof of the sale. They said it was the law though I don’t see it is relevant. Are they correct? M.C. Independent insurance broker Nick Chubb of Asttral Insurance said: “It is the law that you should provide a certificate of cession, that is sale, or provide an official certificate of destruction from a registered breaker’s yard. No insurer would accept a cancellation mid-term otherwise. However if you gave proof of destruction usually that should have been enough.”

Send your practical queries to

Oliver Rowland

Make sense of:

RSA, France’s income ‘top up’ benefit

FRANCE has an income support system aimed at making sure everyone has a certain basic level of income, called the RSA (Revenu de Solidarité Active). This is available to both French people and non-French residents of France, though within certain limits. It is also available to those both in and out of work (whether or not claiming unemployment benefit). Claimants who are out of work or have very low work incomes have meetings with a council worker to agree a plan on efforts to find work or start a business as well as, if necessary, other social help to avoid isolation or to assist with daily tasks. Who is entitled to RSA? People aged at least 25, or those aged 18-25 if they are single parents or have completed at least two years of full-time work in the three years before claiming. There is no upper age limit but people of state pension age may be eligible for a different benefit, ASPA, instead. Eligible non-French EU citizens should spend most of the year in France and should (with

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certain exceptions) have been in France for at least three months. If you spend more than three months a year outside France the amount will be reduced. People who have come to France seeking work are not eligible nor are early-retirees who come to France without work (although they could potentially be after five years’ residence, when they can be recognised as “permanent residents”). Citizens of other countries may benefit if they have a permanent residents’ card or have had residence permits for work for at least five years.

RSA entitlement varies depnding on the size of the family

How much do you receive? The amount of the RSA depends on your income and the makeup of your family. People claiming unemployment benefit have this taken into account as an income source. It comes as a top up to any other benefits you may be entitled to – which should be claimed first (child benefit etc) along with any child support payments from a former partner. Part of the calculation is the montant forfaitaire (basic rate), from e483.24 for a single person

to e1,014.80 for a couple with two children (then e193.30 per child). This is also the income ceiling to claim the benefit (though certain income kinds are excluded). Another part is the forfait logement (accommodation rate), a set sum which is deducted for people who either receive housing benefit or live free of rent or mortgage. This is e57.99 for a single person, e115.98 for two people and then e143.52.

Expat group welcomes ferry passenger rights

BRITONS in the north of France have welcomed the introduction of new EU regulations guaranteeing minimum care and protection for ferry passengers. The regulations complete ones that exist for people travelling by train or air. The president of the Amicale Culturelle Européenne group, fostering cultural and social links between the French and British in Normandy, Tom Hegarty, said: “This can only be positive and should energise the companies to be as efficient as possible. If a train is more than half an hour late, then the SNCF has to compensate you.” The rules apply where you take a ferry (or other commercial ship like a cruise liner) which leaves from an EU country or where you travel from outside the EU but the destination is in the EU and the travel company is European. They include: n Adequate assistance such as snacks, meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation for up to three nights, with a financial coverage up to €80 per night in case of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes; n A guaranteed choice between reim-

Practical 19

February 2013

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bursement or re-routing in case of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes; n Compensation, between 25% and 50% of ticket price, for delay at arrival; n Non-discriminatory treatment and specific, free-of-charge, assistance for disabled people, both at ports and onboard; n Systems for handling passenger complaints to be put in place by carriers and terminal operators; n Appointment of independent national bodies in charge of enforcing the rules, including applying penalties. Passengers involved in an accident when travelling by sea will have the right to: n Financial compensation in the case of death, personal injury, and loss of or damage to luggage, vehicles, and mobility or other special equipment; n Advance payment (within 15 days) to cover immediate economic needs in case of death or personal injury; n Direct recourse against the carrier’s insurer in case of death or personal injury. Information about passenger rights is also downloadable on smartphones via a free application (see ferryrights).

The RSA is equal to: (Basic rate + 62% of household income) minus (household income + accommodation rate). A simulator is available at RSA-simulator How do you apply for it? In most cases at your caisse des allocations familiales (CAF); although it is also possible at some larger mairies. The application form is available here:

In brief What’s your water like? THE companies in charge of our drinking water are asking for opinions on the service - water quality, presence of dangerous substances, water management in your area etc. If you would like to take part, complete the survey (in French) at

Planning forms now online various forms needed for planning matters can now be downloaded from the government site Follow the links at -planning for the forms for matters like requesting a permis de construire (planning permission) or making a déclaration préalable de travaux (prior declaration of work).

Bikers’ armbands dropped A DECREE forcing motorcyclists to wear a reflective strip, such as an armband, was scrapped last month - on the day it was due to come in. Biker campaigners had called the idea “absurd” and “useless in improving safety”.

‘Solidarity’ no longer a crime THE so-called “solidarity crime” of helping an illegal immigrant has been removed from the French statute books. Previously anyone doing so could face a fine of up to e30,000 and five years’ prison. Cases under way will now be dropped.

A: Many French residents live at the extremities of the broadband service where speeds are low and this dramatically affects sending and receiving pictures and messages with attachments. Orange has promised a major investment to upgrade the broadband network for faster speeds to rural areas. However, for many this will not happen soon and it is worth looking at the alternative of satellite broadband. January saw a number of offers that cut the cost of changing: some include the option of leasing equipment rather than buying, while others give up to e140 off the hardware costs. These offers, combined with higher interest in satellite services following the holiday period, means there will be a big increase in

numbers transferring to satellite services using the new satellites now available. Anyone can have a 20Mb speed, no matter where they live, guaranteeing a faster service than on the majority of standard broadband. The big difference between satellite and standard broadband is the former has limits on the amount of data that can be transferred whilst the latter is virtually unlimited for domestic customers. But the good news is that satellite companies have significantly increased data allowances to be cheaper. You can also make big savings with the latest telephone service that started in January. Using your satellite broadband for telephone calls will save e190 a year on line rental costs. You keep your old number and can use the unlimited call package on any broadband service. This means calls are free anywhere in the world if made within your call package and you never miss a call even when you are away from home.

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Euro Sense Elisabeth Dobson from foreign exchange brokers, World First, answers your questions on the European property market Q: Do you have any advice for people who are looking to buy a property in France during 2013 but have not yet set a date? A: Owing to the continuing unpredictability in the markets, anyone thinking of buying in France this year would be advised to look into fixing their exchange rate with as much flexibility as possible. When buying overseas, it is important to have a figure in mind that you are comfortable with, because exchange rates can and will change the value of your funds if you do not act to avoid this. Once you have an idea of this scenario in mind, you can lock in a “worst-case” rate and then at least you will not be affected by any adverse market movements in the lead up to the date of transfer. Q: What would you suggest to combat market fluctuations? A: Clients can use forward contracts to set a rate in advance. This allows anyone planning a purchase to look ahead with confidence knowing a worst-case scenario exchange rate is in place. However, some products now allow private individuals to both protect purchases from negative exchange rate moves by locking in a worst-case rate but also to give the benefit if rates move favourably in the lead-up to the transfer date. A client buying a property in France recently was concerned that the pound would weaken against the euro before he completed, and that the house would end up costing him more. However, at the same time he was also concerned about locking-in a rate and not being able to benefit if the pound recovered and strengthened against the euro. He wanted the best of both worlds so decided to enter into a “Protection Option”. This gives him a “worst-case rate” to buy euros in time for completion, which means he is protected if rates get worse. However, he will also enjoy the benefit if the rates get better in the lead-up to the date of transfer.  Email your queries to

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New birth control pill being restricted over blood clot fear

I was horrified to read the Connexion article (January 2013) on the woman left disabled by a stroke that may have been linked to the third-generation birth control pill. What are French authorities doing about it? A.P.

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THE FRENCH drugs watchdog ANSM has warned that doctors have been over-prescribing the so-called 3rd and 4th generation birth-control pills which are known to have an increased risk of causing blood clots – and wants to reduce this. The new pills are used by around half the four million women in France who use oral contraceptives. ANSM director general Dominique Maraninchi said: “We are looking for a massive reduction in the consumption of these pills.” Health Minister Marisol Touraine has also moved to speed the reduction by saying that reimbursement of the cost of prescriptions of the new pill will be stopped from March 31. The moves come as 25-year-old Marion Larat, who was left badly handicapped by a stroke, has filed a lawsuit saying her condition is due to a contraceptive pill made by Bayer. Thirty other women aged 17 to 48 are also set to file suits targeting Schering, Merck and Pfizer as well as Bayer, her lawyer, Philippe Courtois, said. Tighter guidelines have already been introduced in the US where Marion Larat women have also launched legal action against manufacturers. The third-generation Pill, introduced in the 1990s, and the fourth generation, approved in the last decade, are formulated to have synthetic versions of the female hormone progestogen to skirt side-effects associated with older contraceptives. A Danish study published in the British Medical Journal in 2011 found women who took one of the newer types of Pill ran twice the risk of developing venous thromboembolism compared to counterparts who used older generation pills. Compared with non-users of the Pill, the risk of a clot was between three and six times higher. Talks are being scheduled with medical associations and Mr Maraninchi said doctors that should only prescribe them “in very specific circumstances” and never as a first option. However, he said that pulling the pills off the market was not under consideration. That, he said, would be an easy option but dangerous as it could lead to major health problems as well as unwanted pregnancies and possible abortions. Last year German firm Bayer spent $750 million to settle 3,500 lawsuits for alleged deep-vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism – with twice that number still to be settled.

The Connexion

February 2013

Spa eases arthritis pain and With a family history of arthritis, CAROLYN REYNIER was keen to ease the pain and was sent on a thermal cure by her doctor – with much of her costs being covered by the French health service My father and his sister suffered from arthritis and for a couple of years now I have been feeling the first twinges. People offered suggestions on how to deal with the pain and the best came from my sisterin-law who said her father had restarted running after stopping due to pain from arthritic knees ... he had been advised to eat seven gin-soaked raisins each morning. Apparently, it is the juniper that does it. I immediately started to do the same. I have no idea if it works but it is one hell of a way to start the day. France has a more scientifically tested method, offering thermal cures in more than 100 stations thermales and treating half a million people a year – with 65% of the treatment cost being covered by the Sécurité Sociale. Depending on your financial situation, some of your travel and accommodation costs are also paid. So, armed with my Carte Vitale, I ask my doctor about getting treatment. We fill out our respective parts of the Demande de prise en charge for the local Caisse d’Assurance Maladie and, as I live in AlpesMaritimes, we chose Gréoux-les-Bains in the nearby Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Thermal medicine is a curative and preventative treatment and the thermal waters at Gréoux are particularly suited for rheumatology and respiratory infections as they are rich in sulphur, calcium and sodium with a high presence of magnesium and numerous trace elements. Their pain-reducing benefits have been known for some time; the name Gréoux comes from the Celtic name Grésilium, meaning eau de la douleur water for pain. The treatments, les soins, aim to relieve pain and reduce medication. Sulphur’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties are key for rheumatology treatments, impregnating the organism and relaxing painful muscles and joints; the magnesium tones muscular fibres. Once the caisse had agreed, I booked accommodation for the mandatory three-week cure. There is a wide range of accommodation including the hotels and self-catering accommodation run by the Chaîne Thermale du Soleil which owns the Gréoux spa plus numerous others. Some curistes also stay in camp sites. For e687 I book one of the cheaper fully-equipped studios in a Chaîne Thermale residence and make an appointment with a spa doctor for the Saturday morning after my arrival. A free shuttle bus takes me to the spa, but I walk the 10 minutes down and back most mornings. The doctor decides on my treatments; at reception I finish formalities and receive my treatment card. The total cost of my soins in rheumatology is e483. I write out a cheque for my share which is e169. If you have private health insurance, une mutuelle complémentaire, some or all of your costs may be reimbursed depending on your contract.

Photo: Chaîne Thermale du Soleil

20 Practical: Health

The physio in the piscine de mobilisation helps tone up bodies before curistes head for their therapy sessions

hard work – the kiné turns on individually controlled high-pressure underwater jets and we spend an ecstatic five minutes – too short – controlling the jets to pummel different parts of our bodies – feet, hips, shoulder blades, neck. It is bliss. My next stop for the first and last week is the douche pénétrante. I lie face down on a treatment table while for five minutes four high-pressure jets of warm water pound down on to my shoulders and upper spine, the areas designated by the doctor. When I get up I feel as light as a feather, a feeling which seems to last for hours. The final treatment is 10 minutes in the bain de boue général. I step into a warm communal bath of kaolin and thermal water. The last time I heard the word kaolin was as a child when When I get up I my mother would use kaolin poultices to extract splinters. feel as light as a The clay’s density produces a relaxing weightless effect. If I feather, a feeling don’t hold on to the bars dividwhich seems to ing the pool into separate individual sections I float. last for hours I sit on the underwater ledge, Journalist let the magnolia-coloured liquid come up to my chin and listen Carolyn Reynier to the quiet chatter. Sometimes I let go of a bar and my legs float to the surface. After showering off the kaolin and getting changed again, by 10.00 I am and set off with treatment card in pocket walking back up to my studio where I to walk through and under the first of have another shower with soap. I feel like many foot baths and showers. First stop each day is the Verveine piscine crashing out but I work, have lunch, then crash out. de mobilisation. We walk down into a pool And that, as far as the cure thermale is of water at 42C, the natural temperature of concerned, is that. The rest of the day is the water coming from a depth of 1,200m. mine. There are plenty of activities for the We spend 15 minutes doing exercises for curistes: treatments are in the morning so our joints and muscles with a young kiné. everything starts in the early afternoon. We work on neck, shoulders, hips, hands, I discover Gréoux and its surroundings fingers, arms, legs and coordination. on walks led by tourist office guides; their Each week our kiné changes; we start bus takes us to the Ganagobie plateau to with Alexandra from Poland, then Daniel visit the monastery and marvel at spectacfrom Spain and Gabriella from Romania. ular views of the river Durance plain and After each session – they are seriously There is a choice of start times between 7.00 and 9.00. I plump for the middle and am allocated 8.20. My treatments start in earnest on Monday with a session in the pool with the physiotherapist kiné. I need a swimsuit (which I have), bathing cap and slip-proof shoes (which I don’t, but buy from the shop). For the next 18 days (no treatments on Sunday) I have the same routine: checking in at the entrance, down to the vestiaire to collect a white towelling bath robe and two towels, change into my swimsuit and hand my clothes to the white-coated assistants

The 2013 TheConnexion Connexion February Month 2013

Photo: Chaîne Thermale du Soleil

Sécu helps ease cost


Gym asked for medical

I WANT to join a gym but am told I need a doctor’s certificate. Is this usual? G.F. Yes, sports clubs or gyms will ask for a medical certificate - it is often an insurance requirement. The certificat médical is valid for one year and you obtain it by visiting either your GP or a sports doctor, who will carry out checks that will be more or less in-depth, depending on their practices and the sport you want to do. It may include a medical history check and a look at your general body shape and bone and muscle health, as well as monitoring heart and blood pressure after exercise. You may also be asked to perform stretches to check flexibility. Specific checks are done for certain sports so, for diving, for example, your ears are checked. The check costs e23 and is reimbursed at the normal tariff of a GP (médecin traitant) visit.

Carolyn says the bain de boue général sessions have a weightless relaxing effect

the Valensole plateau to the east, and forests and Mont Ventoux to the west; I waltz and tango at tea dances in the casino and two spa-owned hotels; I stroll along the banks of the Verdon; late afternoon I drink hot chocolate à l’ancienne and eat homemade additive-free biscuits at a café in the village centre; nearby in the small and lovely NotreDame-des-Ormeaux I attend Mass celebrated by a variety of Colombian priests, all adding to the cosmopolitan flavour. Number plates in car parks (and accents) show curistes come not just from nearby departments but from all over – as far as Finistère in Brittany. Some people I speak to have come to Gréoux regularly for years; one couple tell me they also take a mini-cure elsewhere during the year (which is not reimbursed by the Sécu). You can also get additional charged complementary treatments at the spa. At the end of week two I bid a sad farewell to the floating kaolin pool – which is replaced with the even better cataplasme de boue. In an individual cubicle I lie on my back with three hot (circa 48-50C)

poultices filled with a mixture of kaolin and thermal water placed along the cervical, dorsal and lumbar vertebrae of my spine. These help vasodilation which decreases blood pressure, pain sedation and provide better oxygenation of the tissues surrounding joints. The assistant wraps me up in a plastic sheet and I drift off to sleep as the heat from the poultice packs penetrates my spine. On one glorious day I have both the general mud bath AND the hot poultices! At the end I see the doctor again and find I have lost just over half a kilo. He asks how I feel. Do my knees still hurt? No, I say, I have the rather curious but delightful sensation that my whole body feels much lighter. He writes a letter to my doctor One of the and asks for a cheque for e70. work-out I leave Gréoux-les-Bains on a sunny stations Saturday. The sky is blue; leaves from on the plane trees and poplars in autumn hues of parcours gold and red and copper flutter down to de santé the ground. running Will I book in next year? You bet. Will I along the give up the gin-soaked raisins? No way. It’s Verdon called hedging your bets.

Curistes’ Tour do France will do a world of good WITH more than 100 thermal spas in France – and Chaîne Thermale du Soleil has 20, mostly for rheumatology treatments – there is no shortage of locations for anyone who feels a spa cure could do some good. With benefits linked to regular medical treatment, your GP could help you take a cure and do your own Tour de France! Try this for the sea air: Amélie-les-Bains (Pyrénées-Orientales), followed by Eugénieles-Bains in the Landes, named for Napoleon III. He plumped for Plombières-les-Bains in Lorraine, in the opposite corner; then up the

Atlantic coast to Jonzac (CharenteMaritime). For inland scenery, geologists could try the volcanic Auvergne and Vichy; Saint-Honoréles-Bains (Nièvre) lies near Morvan Regional Natural Park; Luxeuil-les-Bains, one of the oldest thermal spas, is in Haute-Saône. Alpine adepts would like Evian-les-Bains and Thonon-les-Bains on Lake Geneva (Haute-Savoie); and in the Vosges which confirmed curiste could possibly resist a visit to…Bains-les-Bains? Find a full list at

Practical: Health 21

France keeps a wary eye on tiny nano-particles THE RISE in the use of nano-particles, the microscopic substances now found in products as wide-ranging as deodorants, medicines and solar photovoltaic panels, has prompted France to require manufacturers to register products where they are used. The Ecology Ministry said that it was acting because “the risk profile (of nanomaterials) is still poorly understood” and that it wanted to have a precautionary measure in place. It is the first country in Europe to demand manufacturers make a declaration if they have used more than 100 grams (3.52 ounces) of nano-particles in products that were imported, manufactured or distributed in France in 2012. Nano-particles – there would be 100,000 across the width of a

hair – are used increasingly in the form of titanium oxide or as aluminium silicates in pills to help ingestion, and in food, where they are used as stabilisers or anti-caking agents in fluids and creams. Silver nano-particles are also used in some deodorants as they are effective at killing bacteria. Some research, including a study on chickens last February, suggested that nano-particles may be harmful for the gut, where they interact with intestinal processes. However, testing is still small-scale and far from conclusive. The register – which can be found at – came into force on January 1. It applies to particles with a diameter of between 1 and 100 billionths of a metre. Declarations must be made by May 1. Source ©afp

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22 Practical: Money

WITH the ceiling for the most popular savings account – the tax-free Livret A – recently rising, rules against holding multiple accounts have been tightened. You can now invest up to e22,950 in a Livret A, which are available at all high street banks and are open to residents and non-residents of France, including children. The interest rate is reviewed twice a year and drops from 2.25% to 1.75% on February 1. The accounts are popular as the interest is not subject to tax or social charges. Only one account is allowed per person and while savers have always been banned from holding multiple accounts (including the Caisse d’Epargne’s Livret Bleu, which is an equivalent) banks must now check with the tax authorities to see if applicants already have one elsewhere. If you already have a Livret A and want to open another you must authorise the new bank to close the old account for you or, if you do so yourself, provide proof within three months of your request to open the new account. At the end of 2011 there were said to be 61 million Livret A accounts in existence, suggesting that many people had more than one.

The Connexion

February 2013

Do I really need to buy ski insurance?

THE modest fee for daily insurance that will be offered to you when buying a ski pass is worth taking up because of the exorbitant costs associated with being rescued uninsured. These can easily rack up to hundreds of euros, if not e1,000 or more. On the other hand, mainstream insurers say you may not need special insurance as the same guarantees may be included in other commonly-held policies. Mountain rescue is free if it is in the haute montagne, that is above areas covered by ski lifts, and is done by gendarmes, CRS or pompiers. On the pistes and in off-piste areas where you can ski to and from lifts, rescue is by paid-for teams. A national association for mountain rescue teams, ANMSM, states that the usual uninsured tariff for transport by helicopter is e72 per minute, while transport by land (ie. in an ambulance) is e469/30 minutes. The basic insurance elements needed for skiing are res­ponsabilité civile (third party) in the case where you accidentally harm someone else (eg. by crashing into them) plus cover for rescue. These are what you get, for example, with e3/day insurance offered with a pass at Isola 2000 in the AlpesMaritimes. Carré Neige for e2.80/day at Courcheval also includes repatria-

Photo: © dell #30043277

Livret A rules tightened up

You may already have the insurance cover you need for a skiing holiday tion and refunds of unused ski pass days and lessons. Extras like these, plus matters like top-up cover for hospitalisation are also typically included in other specialist ski insurance policies which cover you for a year or season, and may be useful for regular skiers. The latter are offered, for example, by bodies like the Club de Sport, the Club Alpin Français, the Fédération Fran­

çaise de la Montagne et de l’Escalade and the Fédération Française de Ski. For example the Chamonix tourist office sells the Club de Sport’s Carte Neige, at e68, which they said covers you internationally. One big insurer, Matmut, however insists all these policies are pointless for holders of its home insurance and multirisques accidents de la vie.

As a general rule ordinary home insurance (usually called multirisques habitation) will cover your responsabilité civile, says Guillaume Ignace of the Fédération Française des Sociétés d’Assurances. As for rescue and hospitalisation, they may be covered by policies with names like garantie accidents de la vie (GAV) or assurance individuelle accidents. You may like to talk to your usual insurer (or study your contracts) to see if your existing policies are suitable. If not, the insurer may suggest a “ski” extension during the holiday. Premium credit cards like VISA Premier or Gold Mastercard also provide cover comparable to ski insurance policies if, for example, you pay for your ski pass with them. If you pay for equipment hire with them, such cards may also cover theft. This may also be available via home insurance if it includes theft (often the case) and an option covering leisure equipment. While you may double up, note that there are often ceilings involved in insurance and if you have more than one form you can combine these, though total claims should never go above real costs to yourself. n Mountain fun: This year’s ski season, cool snow gear and chalets: CX2, p2-5.

The Connexion

February 2013

Practical: Money 23

The Connexion Money / Tax page

What if heir can’t afford to pay tax on inheritance?

I LIVE in France and own my property. I am unmarried and have no children and want to leave my assets to my brother. What happens to my home if he cannot pay the inheritance tax in six months? D.J. One option is for the heir to request payment by instalments. Bear in mind though that the tax office is not obliged to accept and it may favour cases of inheritances by parents or children. Interest is payable. The payments are six months apart, usually for a maximum of five years. The request is made at the time of declaring the inheritance and the tax office will ask for guarantees, which can be based on the inheritance itself. The period is extended to 10 years for parents and children where at least half of the inheritance is bricks and mortar property. If the property is put up for sale once inherited, the tax office can usually be persuaded to wait to be paid from proceeds, though there are costs that can be incurred in doing this.

Pros and cons of different viager options MY HUSBAND died last year. I have been fiscally-resident in France since 1999, this is my main residence and I am 73. My son would like to buy my house to release some capital for me and his siblings ap­prove. We will be happy if it can be kept in the family. We are considering him buying en viager [involving a lump sum payment for part of the house value, then a continuing rent]. We would use either the occupé [seller occupies the house for their lifetime, receiving rent] or the fixed-term kind -

Photo: © kotomiti

SPONSORED BY where the property is situated, and this tax can then be used as a credit against any UK income tax liability. This said, the tax offices do realise that the current climate might make the sale of a property a rather lengthy operation, and extend the above time limits. This is something that can be only confirmed by writing to the tax office but if the move is for valid reasons they should agree a further delay. Do be careful, however, since if the property is let once you have left it, this may make the tax office treat the property as a second residence and then your principle private residence relief will disappear. If the French house is empty of furniture you can request exemption or reductions in the amounts of the taxe foncière and d’habitation - your local tax office will be able to inform you of any particularities according to the area you live in on this point.

the latter perhaps being better for my situation - do you agree? My son has dual nationality GB/USA and is resident in the USA. V.P.

The fixed-term version is less practical as you do not know when you will die. Consequently, if you did die before the term was finished, then the benefit of the use of the house would pass to your beneficiaries and this would continue until the term is complete, meaning the inheritance is on hold until this point. On the other hand, if the term finished before you died, you would no longer own your home. The classic viager occupé, on the other hand, would cease at the date of your death, whether or not the property has been paid for - the attractiveness of the system for the buyer. Of course it can end up expensive for him or her where the seller lives longer than ex­pected, so is not an arrangement to enter into lightly. With regard to cash values on the property, in either case they do not change. It is the payment values that change: fixed-term ones are based on the property value and paid according to the term of the arrangement, payments being reduced if the term is longer than your life expectancy and increased if shorter. Standard viager values are based on life expectancy, therefore it is the better option, as the arrangement only goes to your date of death and then ceases. Another alternative perhaps is for your son to make loans to you of amounts which would be re­payable to him on your eventual death from the

Our local taxes have quadrupled - help!

Send your money and financial queries to Hugh MacDonald at proceeds of the house. This is simpler, enables you to retain the possibility to leave if ever this was required, but also enables your son to buy the house from the estate at the time of your death if he wished to. I suggest you take professional advice to make sure you avoid a decision you may regret.

Will becoming UK residents reduce tax? WE HAVE lived in France for almost 15 years but have decided to return to the UK and have put our French house up for sale. To make the move easier we are

thinking of buying a house in the UK, becoming again UK tax residents and selling the French house after that; but what would the tax implications of this be both in France and in the UK? We have owned our French house for over 22 years and own an apartment in the UK which is let out. We are both British. E.D. In general terms, the UK gives, I think, three years and the French two years after leaving a principle private residence for it to be sold as such and still benefit from the full exemption. After that, the capital gain emanating from the property sale would become taxable in France, since this is

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

CAN you advise on a whopping increase in our taxe foncière and d’habitation? We bought in 2009 and checked what the two taxes would be: TF e630, TH e310. The latest bills were e2,664 and e1,765...A cadastre [records office on land, for tax purposes] official came and measured up. The tax office says the taxes have been brought up to date from the last time they had contact with an owner here - which turns out to be in 1970. The house has not been enlarged but back then they only declared 120m2 of habitable space (217m2 now) and the rest as “agricultural”, though the previous owner did not change anything in the 17 years he was here. We would not have bought had we known it would be so much. S.H. These taxes are based on the square metres of the house and its amenities. There are coefficients applied to the total. If the house is no longer agricultural, this will affect the tax be­cause of the amount of land that now becomes chargeable and because of the general effect on the house, which will be considered more ‘complete’. I suggest you speak to the cadastre office and ask them to show you what has changed from the old charge to the new one.

The information on these pages is of a general nature. You should not act or refrain from acting on it without taking professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted in respect of these articles. Financial planning is a complex subject and these articles are intended only as a general guide.

24 Practical: Money

The Connexion

February 2013

With so many changes, you must review wealth plan now This column is by Bill Blevins of Blevins Franks financial advice group ( who also writes for the Sunday Times on overseas finance. He is co-author of the Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France. DESPITE the date, there is still time to make a New Year resolution to stop and review your investments, pensions and tax planning and make sure you have a considered, strategic wealth management plan in place to be ready for whatever 2013 and beyond brings. This is a “must” to protect your wealth from erosion. Importantly, you want to confirm that your financial planning is designed with a long-term view to preserving your wealth and meeting your objectives, and that you have the most up-to-date information on the financial issues affecting expatriates to hand. There have been so many tax changes over recent years, under both Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande (including Sarkozy reforms being undone), that it is very hard to keep up with it all. Tax planning Increasing taxation is one of the key trends over recent years. Taxpayers across Europe are paying more and more tax and France is one of the leaders. Many French residents, particularly those with higher incomes or substantial assets, will be paying considerably more tax than they

were a few years ago, unless effective financial planning is in place Are your assets structured in the most tax efficient way as a resident of France? Does your tax planning take the latest changes into account? This is not an area for DIY. For certainty, you should ask a professional adviser to review your current arrangements to establish if they are suitable for 2013 – and you may be able to lower tax liabilities on your savings and investments and protect your wealth from capital taxes. At the same time you should consider what to do to reduce the succession tax liabilities for your family and other beneficiaries. Many people intend to review their estate planning but never quite get round to it. Make 2013 the year when you get it sorted, to ensure you leave as much of your estate as possible to your heirs rather than the taxman. Probate can be a lengthy and complicated process, especially if you have assets in different countries. You may be able to make life easier and cheaper for your heirs by establishing financial arrangements to ensure assets can be passed directly to your chosen beneficiaries, avoiding lengthy probate delays. In tandem with tax rises, governments have been clamping down on tax evasion and we will see much more of this over the coming years. Whether you wish to lower your personal tax liabilities or those for your heirs, it is essential only to use arrangements that are fully compliant in France. Bear in mind that more measures to help com-

bat tax fraud were included in the final supplementary Finance Bill for 2012, approved on December 24 and M. Hollande has also ruled out any tax amnesty and, for the moment, any tax deal with Switzerland along the lines of the agreement the Swiss concluded with the UK. France has so far been a firm believer that automatic exchange of information is the only way forward, so that it can establish who has been hiding assets. M. Hollande is due to visit Switzerland later this year to discuss cooperation on tax issues. Savings and investments Do not forget to take a look at your savings and investments. Successful investment is about managing risk versus return and having a well thought-out portfolio strategy specifically based on your circumstances, needs and objectives. Consider the following: n Did you buy your current investments according to a strategic overall plan, or have shares and funds been bought separately over the years? If the latter, it is time for an overall review. Your portfolio may be riskier than you realise - and riskier than it needs be to meet your objectives. n Are you confident you have adequate diversification and the right balance between assets? n Is your portfolio specifically targeted to your needs? For example, if you require income, do you own assets that produce a natural income so that you do not have to withdraw capital? n Have your circumstances changed in the last year? If so your portfolio may need adjusting.

n Has your portfolio been reviewed over the last 12 months to see if it needs rebalancing to remain in line with your risk profile? Rebalancing helps to control risk and tends to have a positive effect on portfolio performance. Finally, going back to tax planning, how tax efficient are your current investments? You will not want to lose any more of your income and gains to tax than you have to, but are your savings and investments tax efficient in France? Remember, what was tax efficient in the UK (or wherever you lived before moving to France) is probably not tax efficient here. What matters are net of tax returns. Tax planning and investment planning should be tackled together for best results. They are inextricably linked such that you need to use a wealth manager to give both investment and tax expertise. Of course any time of year is a good time to review your tax and financial planning. It really all depends on whether you already have a considered strategic plan in place or not. If not, why risk waiting? It is important to do this with the aid of a professional adviser, to be sure your tax planning is as effective as possible in today’s world and that your investments are set up to suit your circumstances and objectives. The tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual should take personalised advice.


February 2013

People / places / culture / lifestyle


Tips and gadgets, plus slope fun for non-skiers CX2-5

Community and wildlife CX6-7


But life isn’t all downhill

‑ the slopes await, but so do spas, racetracks and dog sleds Pages 2 - 5

France’s most romantic spots on Valentine’s Day CX8-9


A round-up of festivals, performances and more CX10


Does Roquefort cheese hold the secret to France’s longer lifespan? CX12-13

Books CX14

Quizzes CX15

The Big Picture Flying without wings CX16

CX 2


Connexion 2 February 2013

Peak performance on French slopes as ski craze speeds days of ski passes sold last season – up THIS year has been seeing a veritable 3% – France nudged ahead of Austria “craze” for skiing in French resorts, and the USA. A marketing push in the following what was already a good UK also enabled France to retain year in 2011-12, says France 900,000 British skiers (the biggest Montagnes, an official agency nationality skiing in France after the ­promoting French mountain holidays. French), despite fewer Britons overall “Christmas and New Year were taking skiing holidays. Though the ­absolutely exceptional,” said director record for skiing days was in 2008/9 Jean-Marc Silva. (58 million), the industry has generalThis was partly due to Christmas ly been holding up well despite the falling mid-week and also because economic crisis, said of good snow Mr Silva. cover in all areas, “It’s partly because, whether the northwhile people are takern or southern ing shorter holidays, Alps, the Vosges, they may take more Jura, Massif Christmas and New than one over the Central or season, often reservPyrenees. ing at the last min“The resorts were Year were absolutely ute,” he said. very, very full – e ­ xceptional. The Predictions 20-80% up on the ­previous year.” resorts were very, very for this year are comparable to This followed an full – 20-80% up on last year, though early start to this the end of the s­ eason season, with snow- the ­previous year may be difficult. fall in many areas Jean-Marc Silva, “The Parisians will in November, and be on school h ­ oliday a 2011-12 season director of after the resorts which saw France France Montagnes close, which doesn’t hit the world’s top help us at all, so it’s spot in days of skigood that we got off ing sold. to a good start.” With 55 million

Connexion tips n Resorts with the label Famille Plus Montagne are guaranteed to have good facilities for children – search by region here under ‘Votre destination’ n For good-value skis, boots, poles, skiwear etc look out for a bourse aux skis – these are sales organised in many skiing areas where people can bring ski material they wish to resell, with the sale price minus a commission paid back to the seller if a buyer is found. n Hire children’s skiwear. A number of ski hire shops now also hire out children’s clothes, avoiding parents having to buy – and transport – items they might have grown out of by the next skiing holiday. The chain Sport2000 offers the option of reserving on the internet. n Check out the site www.france-montagnes. com which has a host of useful information including web cams showing resorts and a section showing real-time information on accommodation available, including prices – click ‘book’ tab on the English version of the site. n France Montagnes also has a free smartphone application, ‘Ski Montagne’, giving up-to-date information on 100 resorts. Many resorts also have their own, for example enabling you to work out ski routes suitable for your level and interests (including panoramic views or restaurants etc).

Skiing in Pas du Frêne near Saint-Colomban des Villards in the Rhône-Alpes

‘If you’re going to buy one thing, buy boots’ Ski schools in France are mostly either part of the ESF (Ecole du Ski Français) group, or the ESI (Ecole de Ski Internationale). They are private but are attached to one of two instructors’ unions. Connexion spoke to ski instructor Claire Gastaud, director of Prosneige, which has two ESI schools in Savoie.

Claire Gastaud of Prosneige

ESF is the oldest and largest group of ski schools in France. ESI is not as well-known – what is the difference? Our instructors speak foreign languages more – English as a minimum, but at our school we speak three. There is also a maximum of 10 people per group, and they are smaller schools, with about 20-50 instructors, which we think makes us more flexible. We’re a little more up-market. Does that mean the prices are higher? A little bit, but it depends on the resort. Do instructors in France all ­ ualification? have the same q We all have the same diploma – a brevet d’état de ski and we are trained at the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme in Chamonix. There are 19 weeks of training. We have young people who come to us to take the technical test [on skiing techniques], which is the first stage.

Photos: ©

You then take two weeks of teaching and after that you are a stagiare [official trainee] and you can start to work in a ski school. Then you take the Eurotest, a giant slalom. A couple of years ago there was controversy over foreign instructors working in France and discussion of regulations on mutual recognition of countries’ training. Is this still a problem? It depends on the country. There are, for example, Dutch tour operators who come with Dutch instructors who are not ­qualified to work here. However, Italian-qualified ­instructors can work in France because their training is equivalent (see end of article for more on this). In the UK people often learn on artificial slopes – is that an option in France? Not really, there are very few. There’s one near Lille, for example. Most French people learn on snow. At what age can you learn to ski? When children want to, from age three, otherwise they learn quickly if they start at around five. As an adult you can start at any age, but if you are starting at age 50, I suggest one-to-one lessons with an instructor.

For children are group lessons usually enough? It’s more effective to learn one-to-one but for the children it’s fun to be in a group. It depends on the child. What’s the recommended pattern? In general, three hours in the morning is plenty, then they’re with the family in the afternoon. What’s your advice for someone skiing for the first time, so as to have a good experience? See how it goes – if you find skiing hard then take private lessons. It’s very variable. Some people take to it quickly. Are there any trends in terms of what people want to do? A lot of people are interested in going offpiste. We advise doing it with an instructor, but some people do it on their own. You’ve got to be very careful, especially when there is a lot of snow. ‘Parabolic’ skis are the fashion – are they all of that kind?

CX 3 Eight top tech gadgets to improve your ski holiday ReviewSki of 2012 III

Connexion 2 February 2013

Everything from wireless headsets to a­ valanche air bags and carbon-fibre sleds will help you get the most from your winter vacation. We look at this season’s coolest new gear. Smith Vantage Skullcandy Helmet The Smith Vantage Helmet with Skullcandy Bluetooth Kit combines a ©Helmet top-of-the-range head protector with incorporated headphones and microphone. The Vantage Helmet is available in a range of colours and offers seamless goggle integration to stop fogging. It is well-ventilated, low-profile and weighs a mere 440g. The Skullcandy Bluetooth kit fits into the helmet’s interior and comprises connected ear pads, an externally mounted remote control unit for volume, track skip and the ability to switch between music and phone calls. Retails for e145. C.Vox jackets A range of machine-washable jackets with integrated remote control, speaker and microphone, plus a conveniently located pouch for concealing a pair of in-the-ear headphones that lets users make calls or listen to music from their smartphone or MP3 player without having to fish around in their pockets first. Whether the jackets provide enough insulation for ski weather depends on your winter holiday destination, but many of the items in the range are light enough to be worn under typical ski garb.

Photo: ©Benoit Audige - Wikimedia Commons

Phorce smart bag Having reached its funding goal on Kickstarter, Phorce offers a range of subtly-styled luggage with one key feature – the ability to charge notebooks, tablets and smartphones. Each bag is designed to communicate via Bluetooth with an owner’s smartphone to let them know how charging is progressing and to signal an alert when the bag is running low on power. What’s more, if it is accidentally forgotten, it will call a smartphone with its location. Pre-order via Brookstone Virtual Keyboard How about a laser keyboard that can be used, wearing gloves, on any surface in conjunction with a smartphone or a tablet? The Brookstone Virtual Keyboard is small enough to fit on a keychain and connects via Bluetooth to a device.

It can project a keyboard image on any flat surface and can be used constantly for two hours between charges. Retails for e80. Olympus TG-810 One of the few ‘lifeproof ’ digital cameras on the market at an affordable price, the Olympus is waterproof to 10 metres and can survive repeated drops. It can also work at low temperatures, performing admirably at -10°C (14°F). It can shoot HD video and has an integrated GPS system that logs where a photo or film was taken. Retails for e270. LifeProof iPhone Case Designed to protect an iPhone or iPad from rain, hail, sleet, snow and even dust, LifeProof ­promises that its cases can endure pretty much anything life throws at them. A range of ­accessories, such as jacket, belt and bike clips, is available, as are floatable cases for those who prefer to get their kicks on the high seas rather than at high altitude. Retails for e55-65. Snow Pulse Avalanche Airbag system backpacks This company has been developing airbag systems for skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts that can be deployed in the event of an avalanche to keep users on their backs with their heads above the snow. Inflated via an air cylinder carefully concealed within its range of backpacks, the air bag’s unique shape and 150-litre capacity is the best solution currently available for protection against avalanches. From e780. Snolo Stealth-X This extreme sled (below), built from carbon fibre, offers a level of manoeuvrability, sensitivity

©Snolo Sleds

and out-and-out speed over all types of snow that is a million miles away from young children on a hillside with tea trays and a million miles closer to snowboarding in terms of sensation and feedback. It only weighs just 4.1kg. Retails for e2,280.

The must-have:

Snow chains for your stilettos

Children learn quicker with one-to-one tuition, but have more fun learning in groups Most of them; it means the shape is narrower near the foot than at the ends. People learn much faster on them and they turn more easily. Do you advise people to buy or rent their equipment? It depends how much you are going to ski, but I strongly advise buying the boots – it’s most important and they are easy to transport. n An official at instructors’ union SNMSF,

Danielle Bismuth, said that a standardised European card system for showing equivalence of instructors’ qualifications was being planned, was still being trialled. An agreement has been signed by nine EU countries, she said. This year there is a system of green stickers, valid for this season, which can be placed on the person’s foreign instructor’s licence, showing it meets the EU standard. She said they have been given to those instructors with high qualifications, of the kind needed to work in France.

Footcare company ­Implus has unveiled a ­ eculiar-looking fashion accessory for the p snowy season. Its WinterTrax shoe grips adapt to all kinds of footwear, from stilettos to loafers and even ballerina flats. Stretching over the soles of shoes like snow chains on tyres, the spikeless grips are designed to facilitate fall-free walks across all kinds of icy or slippery paths. Though the traction device may not make a style statement in itself, ­WinterTrax could be a boon to ­fashionistas who cannot resist putting on their ­teetering, ­towering footwear even in the most ­extreme

weather conditions. Also available for men’s footwear, the shoe grips retail at e14.90.


The articles above are ©AFP / ©Relaxnews


Forget the ski chalet – buy the resort instead

Connexion 2 February 2013 Photo: ©JiPee - Wikimedia Commons

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Wild Mérens mountain ponies from around Les Clots in the Pyrenees. See No6 below for which leader they were used by

10 quirky facts about mountains in France The English were at the forefront of the development of tourism in the Alps. As early as 1861 package holidays to the area were featured in the Thomas Cook brochure. Sir Henry Simpson Lunn a renowned skier and founder of the ­Alpine Ski Club was also founder of the Lunn Travel Agency later to become Lunn Poly.


You could snap up this ski resort in the commune of les Fourgs in Doubs on the Swiss border for e800,000 or nearest offer by SAMANTHA DAVID For a mere e800,000, or nearest offer, this winter you can buy your very own ski resort in the commune of Les Fourgs, in Doubs (25) on the Swiss border. At a height of 1,100 metres, it offers 100km of skiable pistes, including a floodlit one for night skiing, and a dog sled track. In the summer, the resort offers hiking, mountain biking, tree-top a­ dventures and activities such as paintball. In alternate Februarys, the ski station hosts the French or European Dog Sled Championships. The owner and founder of the resort is retiring and, as no one in his family wants to take over the station, he is selling up. If a buyer is not found then the ski lifts will be operated by the local mairie as they are regarded as a local public service. The resort has been running since 1973 and has seven ski lifts, 12 pistes, and a snow park, and employs around 18 people during the winter season. It is a family place, attracting between 15-20,000 (mainly local) children and beginners as day-skiers every year. It also runs a large ski-hire business, which is in fact the most profitable part of the business. So far, although there have been some serious enquiries, there has not been a firm offer to buy, so if you are interested, it is time to get your skates on, if not your downhill skis. If, on the other hand, your pocket money does not quite stretch to a whole ski ­station, we have found a few other options to suit a more modest budget. The French Property website (www. has a 17m2 studio sleeping two to four people for e57,000 in the Alps, just a seven-minute funicular ride from the Les Arcs ski resort. It may be small but has a garden (11m2) and there is an outdoor swimming pool in the ­complex, making the studio an attractive year-round holiday option. In the Pyrenees, prices are more reasona-

The city of Grenoble is synonymous with the Alps and yet it is only 700 feet above sea level. Although surrounded by the vast mountain ranges the city lies on the dividing plain between the rivers Drac and Isère.


Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe at a height of 4,807 metres, was climbed by a woman forthe first time in 1808. The second woman to climb it 32 years later had to be dragged up the last 1,200 feet by guides. She cried ‘If I die carry me to the top’. At the top she made them lift her up so that she could claim to have been higher than any man in Europe.


Europe’s highest outside toilets are situated 4,260 metres up Mont Blanc. These facilities are used by many of the 30,000 skiers and hikers on the mountain each year. They are emptied by helicopter.


Sitting in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the town of Chamonix is well established in the present day as a tourist location but its first guest house was opened in 1770 by a Madame Coutterand.


A studio in Les Arcs for e69,500 or a two-bed flat in the Haute-Savoie for e192,600 ble, and of course you are more likely to experience that skier’s Holy Grail; winter sun glinting off fresh powder snow. Just a 10-minute drive from Peyragudes ski station, e82,000 buys you a bijou onebed flat with private parking and storage for skiing equipment from; or, going up the price ladder a little more,

In the Auvergne, a ­sprawling three-bed house with a garden and large convertible attic, near the ski stations of Chalmazel and Le Brugeron, will set you back just e87,000

e198,000 will secure a spacious four-bed house (180 m2 habitable plus 90 m2 attic) with two bathrooms and enough attic space to create another self-contained living unit. In the Auvergne, your money will go even further; a sprawling three-bed house (310 m2) with a garden and a large convertible attic, near the ski stations of Chalmazel and Le Brugeron, will set you back just e87,000. Or how about an even bigger property comprising two houses (one three-bed habitable and one to renovate), outbuildings and a garden? All this, just 9km from La Loge des Gardes family ski station, is a snip at just e149,000. Meanwhile, Sextant Properties, has a charming two-bedroom flat for sale in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Haute-Savoie, for e192,600, which has a balcony, private parking, a ski locker, a cellar and a shared swimming pool. There is a bus which stops in the same street and goes to the slopes. Or in les Arcs 1800 they have a sunny 22m2 studio with a balcony and private parking which can sleep up to four people and is close to the ski slopes and lifts for e69,500.

In the region around Les Clots in the Pyrenees, a ridge which rises to 1,671 metres, keep a look out for signs of the wild Mérens mountain ponies. It was this sturdy, sure footed shiny black breed of pony that was used as pack-horses by Napoleon Bonaparte on his ill- fated march on Moscow in 1812.


The ground-breaking new ice rink at Morillon in the Haute Savoie’s Giffre valley can be used all year. Not surprising as it is made from not ice but recyclable polyethylene.


The Vallée Blanche in the Alps at 22km is the longest ski run in the world taking four to six hours to complete. The glacier is littered with ‘yawning’ lethal crevasses that pose a continued threat to skiers. Guides tell of a man who fell into one of these crevasses and when they lowered a rope someone else emerged instead.


The opening of the Vanoise Express cable between Les Arcs and La Plagne took place in 2003. Each car accommodated 200 people and it covered a distance of 1,800 metres between the two locations, taking just four minutes to complete the journey. The operators of the combined resorts named it ‘Paradiski’


Among the many who have successfully climbed Mont Blanc have been a President and a Pope. US President Theodore Roosevelt led an expedition to the top and it was climbed by Achille Ratti later to become Pope Pious XI.


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ReviewSki of 2012 III

Connexion 2 February 2013

The ski resort of Beilles, in the Pyrenees, offers all sorts of winter activities including dog-sledding

Peak pursuits If you love snowy mountains but not the idea of speeding down them on planks, don’t despair – from dog sledding to igloo building, alternative activities abound by SAMANTHA DAVID At the end of each year, the French Alps turn into a winter wonderland of silver snowflakes, frozen pine forests, chalet restaurants selling hot chocolate and glittering ski slopes attracting ski fans from all over the world. The Alps are home to France’s biggest ski stations, but there are also resorts in the Massif Central, Jura, Pyrenees and Vosges, all of which have their own special charms for ski fans. But for those who prefer not to strap

a pair of wooden planks to their feet, there are plenty of other activities on offer, one of the most popular being ice skating. Wherever there is a chairlift, an ice rink won’t be far away, and this is your chance to learn to skate, dance on ice or play ice hockey. Not all the activities are sporting, however. Most resorts these days offer spa facilities where you can relax and enjoy the well-being and beauty treatments, or take a gentle swim. Many resorts also offer some more

unusual activities, and this month we take a look at what’s on offer. Driving on ice Driving on ice might sound scary but in fact it is enormous fun. You learn how to steer and brake while sliding about on the ice in perfect safety. The activity appeals to those wanting to learn how to drive safely in icy conditions as well as the more sporting. There are permanent ice-driving circuits in various Alpine resorts including l’Alpe d’Huez, Serre-Chevalier, Isola 2000, Tignes, Flaine, Chamrousse, le Val d’Allos and Chamonix. Prices at Chamrousse start at e110 per session for an adult. See Igloo Building For a real taste of life in the snow, why not try building an igloo? Jamie Carr, based in Morillon, runs a mountain-biking business in the summer but in the winter delights his little daughter and clients of all ages by teaching them how to build igloos. Igloo building can also be combined with a snow-hike, in which case the igloo will be constructed in the woods. It costs e70 to build an igloo and the activity is available (in English) in the Haute Savoie ski resorts of Samoëns and Morillon. Phone Mary or Jamie on 04 50 55 92 48 for more details or to book a session.

Learn how to build igloos at the Haute-Savoie ski resorts of Samoëns and Morillon

Dog Sledding For a taste of the icy life, why not try dog sledding? This is widely available in ski resorts all over France and, if

you take a comfortable ride in a sled, requires no special abilities or fitness. You just sit back, warmly wrapped in blankets, and enjoy the view. But you can also take lessons in driving a team of dogs, and depending on how many dogs you’re driving and for how long, this takes more stamina and a certain amount of upper-arm strength. In the ski station of Beilles in the Pyrenees (just two hours away from Toulouse), Angaka offers all sorts of winter activities including sleigh rides, igloo building and raquettes, as well as dog sledding, which starts at e12 for an adult. Ring 05 61 01 75 60 or see their website Heliskiing If you have the cash and you are determined to do something completely different, you can get a ride in a helicopter to a fresh snowfield and then ski or snowboard down with your own personal guide to show you the way. Heliskiing is not currently allowed in France but is permitted in Italy and Switzerland, and you can take off from French resorts near the border including Tignes, Sainte Foy, La Rosière/La Thuile, Val d’Isère and Chamonix. It is an extreme sport and is more dangerous than on-piste skiing. It requires a highly-trained guide and a good level of fitness and skiing ability. One company running a variety of heliski trips to suit various abilities is Tignes Heliski (www.tignesheliski. com). Their prices start at around e250 per person.

Raquettes If you like the idea of being out in the snow but skiing is just too fast and furious, ‘raquettes’ or snowshoes are increasingly popular in France. You don’t need an especially high level of fitness. They can be hired in all ski resorts and the trails are well marked if you want to strike out on your own, or you can go with a guide if you prefer. Hire of snowshoes starts between e2-8 per day (plus a deposit). At the Espace Nordique Sancy in Auvergne in central France (www. ‘raquettes à neige’ can be hired for e2.50 per day (adults) and e1.30 (children) and there are 11 different specially marked routes to follow. Mountain Biking on Snow At the Lac Blanc ski resort in HautRhin, Vosges, they’re holding the fifth ‘Mountain Bike Schnee Party’, which is basically a cycling race on snow. It is pretty extreme, and will require quite a high level of fitness. Entrance tickets for competitors, who must be over 16 years old, are e28. See Tobogganing Sledges and toboggans can be hired for e2-3 per day in French resorts or purchased for around e15 in supermarkets, and it is usually free to use the special tobogganing slopes at the resort, so don’t hesitate to spend an afternoon rediscovering your inner child.

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Connexion 2 February 2013

NATURE NOTES – February Article provided by Anne Fourier of Aspas, the national French charity protecting wild animals. Photo: Louis-Marie Préau

The French lynx population is today estimated at 150

Lynx effect puts big cats in mood for love

Photo: Louis-Marie Préau

The European Lynx (Lynx lynx) or lynx boréal is, along with the wolf and the bear, one of the three great European predators and the only big cat living in the wild on this continent. Despite the vast reduction in numbers in Europe, there are still isolated populations which survive due to conservation efforts. With colouring varying from creamy white to dark brown and with spots all over, the lynx is easily recognisable by the black tufts on its triangular ears. Its short tail ends in a black bob. They range in size from just under one metre to about 135cm in length and the male, which is the bigger, can be up to 30kg. Unlike other cats, the lynx has large and long paws that allow it to move across snow and its claws retract so that they do not leave a mark. They can be seen in a zone ranging from forested lowland areas to the mountains, reaching up to 2,500m This month, the lynx is in the mood for love as the rutting season starts. From the end of February until the start of April, males will be trying to find a female to mate and there will be an increased frequency of urine and scent territory markings by both sexes and many calls, the howls of rut. Although they are solitary the rest of the year, for several days the male and female will share a life “as a couple” for several days. Once they meet, if they are interested, they sniff and greet each other. The female is in heat for only two days and as this time approaches the male becomes more and more nervous and changes his routines: stopping eating and doggedly following the female’s every move. Mating takes just a few minutes and then the male and female return to their own territory. Gestation lasts about 70 days and the female will give birth to up to four cubs towards the

end of May, beginning of June. She rears them alone. The cubs are fully weaned by about nine to 11 months and will leave their mother – and set out for the most dangerous part of their lives. This is when many of them will meet their deaths, whether from malnutrition, disease or, above all, from the road or rail accidents that are the main cause of death (four out of five young lynx do not reach reproductive age). Formerly widespread throughout Europe, the lynx practically disappeared between the 16th and 20th centuries. Thanks to conservation measures and various different reintroduction programmes spread over 30 years, the lynx is once again living in several countries. Since the 1970s, the lynx boréal has returned to the mountainous regions of the east of France. One can find them today in the Vosges – where official releases were started in 1983 – in Jura (colonised in part by lynx that have crossed from Switzerland where releases have been going on since 1970), and in the northern Alps (again with Swiss lynx moving into the new territory). However, despite strong efforts, the lynx population is still very vulnerable. The French lynx population is today estimated at 150 individuals and it has been a protected species since September 19, 1979, under annex II of the Bern Convention (protection of the wild life), and since 2009 has been on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list of species threatened in France. The Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage has set up an information network to collect details of sightings. If you see a lynx, get in touch with the rezolynx@oncfs.

This article is by Anne Fourier of Aspas, the national French charity protecting wild animals. For more information on its campaigns or for a free copy of its magazine, Goupil, visit:; call: 04 75 25 10 00 or write to: ASPAS, BP 505 - 26401 CREST CEDEX

Want a good reception in France? Try volunteering Helping out in your community is a great way to get to know local people, improve your French and have fun along the way, as these volunteers can attest by JANE HANKS Volunteer work is a good way to get involved in the local community and meet new people – and its possible whatever your level of French. Sue Helm moved permanently to her home in the small village of Malay in the Saône-et-Loire with her husband, Martin when she retired in 2006. Since then she has been extremely active in local affairs – as a participant, and for two years president, of the Foyer Rural and doing volunteer work in the ADMR (Aide à Domicile en Milieu Rural). She volunteered after seeing an ad in her commune newsletter. The association helps look after elderly people in their homes so they can stay there as long as possible. Salaried staff prepare meals, do the cleaning, shopping and gardening and dress and put clients to bed if necessary. They also work with families, looking after children while mothers go to hospital ap-

pointments, for example. The volunteers help in the office which allows the organisation to spend more of its funds on going out into people’s homes. As Sue had spent her working life in an office (as a journalist and in publishing) she was welcomed as someone who could help them use the complicated computer programme to sort out the paid workers’ hours. She says it has helped to get her into the heart of her local community – and improved her French. “My French wasn’t bad, but it was tested to extremes by the fast-talking secretary who runs the office,” she said. “However I can now understand almost everything she says and it’s given me the chance to work closely with other volunteers and get to know them. I also feel I am putting something back in to a community that welcomed us with open arms when we decided to live here full time six years ago.”

I feel I am putting something back into a community that welcomed us with open arms when we decided to live here full time six years ago Sue Helm

Sue says that you should be prepared to have a go at the language: “It can be difficult but you just have to take the plunge and I didn’t mind making a fool of myself, even though I did worry about using the correct grammatical structure. “I find that everybody is very forgiving and will help you along. I remember when we first used to go out with French friends we used to come back with a headache – it was such a mental strain. But you have to

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Culture Review of 2012 III

Connexion 2 February 2013

Left, Martin Helm at a vide grenier; top, Sue Helm with members of the Foyer Rural, of which she was president for two years; Right, Barbara Jacquin, who teaches English to prisoners via an association known as Auxilia. The organisation is always looking for new volunteers.

get through that barrier and it does become easier.” As well as working about once a week for the ADMR, Sue is also involved in the Foyer Rural, a local association that organises village activities such as the annual Winter Meal, vide greniers and outings, which Sue says provides some residents with their only holiday a year. This year they also hope to put on an art exhibition. “At first I was an active member and then I agreed to be the president. Though I was used to running meetings in my working life – it was quite a challenge doing it in French. I did it for two years – and though it took up a lot of time organising the events I’m glad I did it to be fully involved in the village life. I’ve now handed the responsibility over to someone else – but I’m still the treasurer.” Aside from her volunteering, she hosts a conversation group in her home every Monday afternoon with locals who are keen to learn English. “We find different things to do – work on a newspaper article, play games and in May I am taking five French women to London. We’re going to stay in a youth hostel and I’m going to show them our capital city. The sessions are great fun – and I improve my French at the same time.

“They adore introducing me to new words and showing me what is rude or not rude – for example they told me I can say ‘zut’ but not ‘merde’ to an elderly lady!” Her husband Martin has also become involved. He, too, has had a career in the media and was intrigued by the old photos people showed him of the village – and so, with the agreement of the Mayor, went round to the houses with a scanner and a laptop and took copies of the photos and printed them in a book. The proceeds go towards the Foyer Rural and Sue says the local people are delighted to see the history of their village presented in such a way. Sue says that getting involved in voluntary work and activities has made her life in France interesting. “I’ve heard people say that there’s nothing to do in the heart of the country. But even though I was a towny, working in London, I find that there’s a lot going on here,” she said. “You have to take the plunge, perhaps it’s hard at the beginning, but in the end it’s rewarding and worth it.” Barbara Jacquin has spent a major part of her life in France. She is American, married to a French man and brought up her family in Paris where she worked as an English teacher.

She then went back to the States where she worked for the US Department of State in the Foreign Service and travelled widely. She came back to France in 2004 to retire to a small village near Uzès to the north of Nîmes because her

with their homework. They don’t need to thank me, but they often do so, profusely,” she said. “A young prisoner told me he didn’t feel motivated. He was quite likely depressed as this is a problem in prisons. But

It gives me great satisfaction to think that maybe I am helping a prisoner in his or her day to day life... They don’t need to thank me, but they often do so, profusely

Barbara Jacquin

children and grandchildren are here. And she has gone back to teaching English – but on a voluntary basis – and in an unusual way. She teaches English to prisoners via an association known as Auxilia. “It gives me personal satisfaction to think that maybe I am helping a prisoner in his or her day to day life. I can give them the benefit of the doubt that they do want to do something and to move on. I correspond by mail and get to know them a little from the notes they send

he worked at his English and in the annual exam he got an excellent grade. He told me that it made him feel much better – and renewed his motivation to carry on. I feel that at least I’m helping out.” She says prisoners give various reasons for wanting to improve their English. One said he wanted to take the French baccalaureate exam at the same time as his daughter. Another wanted to work with tourists. Many simply see learning English as a means to improve their chances for

parole. Sometimes they don’t continue – perhaps because they’ve left prison – or because the working conditions, which are often extremely noisy, are too difficult. At present Barbara has two students who she corresponds with regularly. Auxilia provides prisoners, those with handicaps, and the unemployed instruction in languages, accounting, administration, art and other subjects. In 2011, Auxilia gave 3,101 lessons to 900 prisoners. Barbara says it is something that Connexion readers could get involved in: “It’s something that you can do with very little French. I always communicate with my students in English. It helps if you’ve already done some teaching but it’s not essential. There is a need for volunteers,” she said. Anyone interested

can contact her at BJacquin@ or contact the association via their website Barbara also taught English on a voluntary basis at an adult education facility, a Université Populaire in Uzès for eight years. She said she had always enjoyed teaching and this was a way to continue. She stopped teaching to do other things – but a group of her most faithful students still meet with her once a month. “It’s a lot of fun. I think I have a drive to help people to speak English. And there’s been a huge change for the better in the way the French want to learn English – they are much more interested now,”she said. “I think there are great volunteer possibilities for British and American people living in France. People are always looking for others to help out.”

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Connexion 2

Making a masterpiece of Paris’ industrial past

View of the Anselm Kiefer exhibition, Die Ungeborenen (The Unborn) at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Pantin The slow transformation of Pantin is part of wider changes taking place in the down-at-heel suburbs north and east of Paris. One landmark change came in September, when filmmaker Luc Besson opened his “Film City”, a vast studio complex created in a disused power station to offer Hollywood-style facilities in the Saint-Denis suburb. In Pantin, the Ropac Gallery has impressive company. The luxury fashion brand Hermes first arrived in 1992 with leather workshops and is soon to double the space it occupies. Across the canal, BNP Paribas bank moved into the renovated 1920s Grands Moulins flour mill, and Chanel plans to open a building there next year. Marianne Bomer, who lives in nearby Romainville, is another part of the influx, working at Les Moulins restaurant, which opened at the end of August. Although she Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Pantin has only spent a short of riots in its poorer districts and time in the town, she has seen others interested in joining the remains a notorious area of the trend. wider city. “Someone came in asking Now the grassroots group Accueil Banlieues offers guided about the area who wanted to open a flower shop,” Bomer said. tours and budget accommoda“There’s more space in the subtion, trying to lure tourists to urbs. You can breathe out here.” see a different side of Paris. Apartment prices are starting to reflect the change too. Over the past five years the average cost per square metre has risen 17 percent, compared to 13 percent for the overall region, The Parisians according to the Paris Chamber of Notaries. are coming Local estate agent Benedictine Estate agent Pouzenc says the increases are specific to the parts of town beBenedictine ing renovated. But that does not Pouzenc mean the change is not real. “The Parisians are coming,” she said. Source afp “There is a mixture, between rich collectors coming with their personal drivers, buying art... then there are people from the neighbourhood, then Parisians who are really interested in the big exhibition,” he said. Pantin is ideally located for bringing that mix together. The canal and railroad that once facilitated industrialisation today help make Paris an easy commute. Enthusiastic locals are also trying to make a change. SeineSaint-Denis, where Pantin is situated, was the scene in 2005

Photo: ©Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris

The newly opened Ropac Gallery, housed in a refurbished early 20th-century boiler works, symbolises the transformation under way in Pantin and other gritty, working-class suburbs to the north and east of Paris. Paris is a compact city and many residents and businesses are looking to the surrounding suburbs, which are home to the bulk of the 12 million people in the French capital’s ­agglomeration. Pantin, just a 20-minute metro ride from the city centre, is one of the places that arty and business types, like the owner of the Ropac gallery, have singled out, and their arrival is slowly changing what was once a small agricultural town. The construction of a canal and a railroad in the 1800s brought industry to Pantin. Deindustrialisation following the Second World War caused further decline. But in the late 1990s, Pantin started to develop an arts scene, and is now home to the National Dance Centre, the first concert hall in France built specifically for jazz music, and a conservatory for dance, music, and theatre. As it changes, Pantin is integrating its industrial past with a sophisticated cultural future. Thaddaeus Ropac, who owns art galleries in Paris and Austria, was looking for a space to show larger pieces and he found Pantin. Inside the gates that lead to his exhibition space, the original brick of the five-building factory remains intact, though the grass and clean architectural lines feel modern. Since opening in October the space has had a steady stream of visitors, about 900 per week, according to gallery spokesman Marcus Rothe.

Falling in love by OLIVER ROWLAND

WITH Paris often called the world’s capital of love and two French villages claiming special Saint Valentine links, there is plenty of romance in the air here on February 14. “Of course it’s subjective, but for a long time we have been referred to as the lovers’ capital,” said Paris Tourist Office spokeswoman ­Marie-Christine Rabot. What’s more, the city is often said to be at its most fresh and charming in the spring, as mentioned in Cole Porter’s song I Love Paris. A walk along the Seine may still have a strong appeal, but several other spots have strong links with love and February 14. One is the bandstand in Valence, Drôme, which inspired artist Raymond Peynet (1908-1999) to create his first picture of his “amoureux” (lovers), a slender young couple whom he first painted in 1942 with the bowler-hatted, long-haired boyfriend serenading the young lady on a violin from the bandstand (in later versions he became a poet). Peynet’s lovers caught on around the world – printed on memorabilia and even made into statues, including one in Hiroshima. There are four Peynet museums – two in France (Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes and Brassacles-Mines, Auvergne) and two in Japan. Peynet claimed that without his lovers, Georges Brassens would never have written his popular song Les Amoureux des Bancs Publics (the street bench lovers). Also linked with Peynet and popular with the

Japanese are the annual festivities in SaintValentin in the Centre, which has played on its name since the 1960s, calling itself “Le village des amoureux”. On the weekend nearest the 14th,

Is your wooing Utter the langu IT is getting harder to chat people up in France, ­according to the word-lovers’ site “It seems that Frenchwomen are no longer so impressed by charming little phrases, or simply a languorous look across the Metro,” it claims. Be that as it may, you might like to try your luck with one of these phrases gleaned from internet lists of popular (or infamous...) lines: T’as d’beaux yeux, tu sais (you know, you’ve got beautiful eyes) – best known from the 1938 film

Love couple statue in Boi

e all over again

g not working? uage of lovers...

Le Quai des Brumes (in which it elicited the reply: embrassez-moi, “kiss me” – It seems it was easier back then!). Sans l’eau la fleur meurt; sans toi, mon coeur pleure. Without water the flower dies; without you my heart cries. Other love phrases include: Le coup de foudre meaning love at first sight; conter fleurette - to whisper sweet nothings; avoir le béguin pour - to have a crush on; vivre d’amour et d’eau fraiche (to live on love and water alone) meaning living heedis de Boulogne park, Paris less of practicalities.

where they can send home postcards with Peynet ­“lovers” post marks. Each year La Poste produces a new Saint-­Valentines Day stamp, which this year was designed by Hermès. All year round, couples can visit to plant a commemorative tree in the village’s Lovers’ Park, where there is a small version of the Peynet bandstand as well as metal trees where people can hang up ‘leaves’ in the form of hearts engraved with their names. Peynet used to offer a drawing for the festival each year. Saint-Valentin is twinned with Sakuto-Cho, Japan, which was inspired by it to create a ‘park of peace and love’. Another village, Roquemaure, Gard, claims its church houses the actual relics (remains) of Saint Valentine, who was martyred in Rome in the third century on February 14. Associated with love since the Middle Ages, one story has it that emperor Claude II “the Cruel” had banned marriages because he was struggling to recruit men to the army because they wanted to stay at home with their fiancées or families. Valentine then angered him by organising Christian marriages. The relics were placed in the church in 1868 after a local dignitary bought them from Rome, hoping they would protect the precious vines from phylloxera. Roquemaure marks Valentine’s Day with a Fête des Amoureux, which this year is on February 16-17. Locals dress in 19th-century costume to recreate the arrival of the relics in scenes with around 800 costumed participants. This is called La Festo de Poutoun in the local dialect (kisses festival).

Nureyev’s dazzling legacy dances on Twenty years after his death, the Paris Opera is paying tribute to its former dance director Rudolf Nureyev. “As long as they are putting on my ballets, I will live on,” Brigitte Lefevre, dance director of the Paris Opera, recalls Nureyev saying in the years before the ravages of AIDS finally claimed him, aged 54, in 1993. A fitting epitaph for a performer who went from being the outstanding male dancer of his generation to a choreographer whose influence resonates throughout modern ballet. Now the Paris Opera is paying tribute to the dancer. It has his Sleeping Beauty running as part of its 2013-14 season and his Nutcracker in 2014-15. “He redefined the role of the male dancer,” said ballet historian Hélène Ciolkovitch. “He took it beyond that of simple support, creating a more balanced partnership with the ballerina.” “When you danced alongside him, you really had to give everything. If you didn’t you couldn’t keep up,” recalled Noella Pontois, one of Nureyev’s numerous celebrated on-stage partners. “It was a huge thing, dancing with a star like him.” Nureyev was also famously demanding as a director. “He made it tough for dancers,” said Lefevre, in reference to the enhanced variation and tempo that are characteristic of Nureyev’s productions. In his six years (1983-89) as dance director at the Paris Opera, he bequeathed to the world his own versions of the major works of Marius Petipa, the 19th-century creator of Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadere and countless other standbys of the ballet repertory. “He took these pieces that had been created in Russia and updated them using modern choreographic technique, without breaking with their classical roots,” said Ciolkovitch. Nureyev, the only son of a Red Army official, was born, in 1938, on the Trans-Siberian express while his mother was en route to visit her husband in the Siberian port of Vladivostok. His passion for dance, and ballet in particular, was born at

AGENDA Igor Moiseyev Ballet, Le Quartz, Brest, February 13-16 Russian ballet company with a programme of about 40 folk dances. 02 98 33 95 00 Cirkafrika, Zénith, Orléans, February 23 Fifty artists, musicians, danc-

the age of six and he went on to become one of the former Soviet Union’s best-known artists, as the leading dancer of the Kirov ballet in Leningrad – as St Petersburg was then known. With such status came the freedom to travel and Nureyev made the most of it, applying his energetic approach to the stage to the nightlife in Paris and London. His increasingly high profile did not go down well with the communist authorities and, having been ordered back to Moscow from a Kirov tour in 1961, he decided not to get on the plane, instead pleading, successfully, to be granted political asylum. The French authorities complied but it was Britain that saw the best of Nureyev as a dancer, most famously in his legendary Photo: ©AFP PHOTO/UPI


A giant kiss took place under the famous kiosk Peynet at Valence in the Drome

it attracts couples from around the world and now lasts three days, including a special mass, blessing of couples, a procession, a ball and a banquet. A temporary post office is set up from

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February 2013

partnership with Margot Fonteyn at the Royal Opera House. Off-stage, Nureyev had a long-term relationship with the Danish dancer Erik Bruhn, who died in 1986. But according to Pontois, he was, essentially, a solitary character. “He had been obliged to abandon his family,” she recalled. “That left him with a lot of guilt, it was a heavy burden.” Having hidden the extent of his illness for some time, Nureyev effectively announced it to the world when he appeared, gaunt and frail, at a premiere of La Bayadère two months before his death. “It’s always hard when someone doesn’t know when to leave the stage, but for him it really was a question of life or death,” said Pontois. “He dedicated his life to dance.” As part of a worldwide tribute to the star, London’s Royal Ballet this month stages Nureyev’s Raymonda, followed

When you danced alongside him, you really had to give everything Dancer Noella Pontois

Rudolf Nureyev, whose Sleeping Beauty is running at the Paris Opera ers, acrobats and contortionists put on a show. 02 38 25 04 29 New Frontier II: American Art Enters the Louvre, Until April 22, Paris Early 19th-century works with American reinterpretations of European styles and creating a new style with images of trappers or ­Mississippi boatmen.

next month by Marguerite and Armand, while the Vienna Opera ballet plans a Nureyev gala on June 29 and San Francisco’s De Young Museum is showcasing his stage costumes until February. And come September the Kremlin ballet will perform his Cinderella – a milestone for Russia, where authorities stung by his defection blacked out all information about him even as his international career soared. The even will be a posthumous homecoming for Nureyev, who had returned to his native land after 26 years in exile, only to find his ailing mother did not recognise him, and the Russian public knew nothing of his Source afp stellar rise. Mamma Mia! Mériadeck Ice rink, Bordeaux, February 1-3 The music of Abba in an unforgettable stage show. 05 57 81 43 70 Tango Galliano with Richard Galliano and the Orchestre Regional de Basse Normandie, concert, February 9 Galliano gives the accordion a new French jazz sound. 02 31 30 48 00

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Shortest month is full to bursting Photo: ©PHOTOPQR/LE PARISIEN/JEAN-BAPTISTE QUENTIN

With festivals of food, film, farming and fishing, February has all the f-words you want to hear in 28 days There are no public holidays this month, but still some celebrations with France’s pancake day on Chandeleur (Candelmas) on February 2. (You can also have your second pancake day on Shrove Tuesday on February 12.) Celebrations, too, on St Valentine’s February 14 but Romeos may prefer to celebrate Roméo’s saint’s day on February 25. School winter holidays start this month, with Zone B being off from February 16 to March 4 and Zone A from February 23 to March 11. Zone C is off from March 2 to March 18. Blessing of new bells for Notre-Dame Cathedral – February 2 Thousands of children will witness the blessing of the nine new bells which will replace the four out-of-tune bells that have hung in the cathedral since 1856. Commissioned to mark the 850th anniversary of the cathedral, the new bells will have a sound more like the previous bells made famous in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The bells will be blessed by Cardinal André Vingt-trois, the archbishop of ­Paris. Afterwards they will go on display in the nave of the cathedral before ­being hoist into their towers to ring out together for the first time on March 23 at the start of Holy Week.

Photo: ©Art Images

History of the Périgueux printworks ­– February 2 This guided tour of the private areas of the Bibliothèque ­Municipale in the Dordogne capital commemorates the first book to be printed in Aquitaine, in 1498 by Jean Carant. Visitors will see ­incunabula – priceless pamphlets printed in the 15th century – with a talk by the head curator. Six Nations rugby – February 3, 9 and 23 France open their fight to improve on last year’s thirdequal place with an away game against Italy on February 3, a home game against Wales on February 9 and an away game at Twickenham on February 23 against England. The Italy game has added spice as the Italian coach is Frenchman Jacques Brunel, the former coach at Perpignan and former French technical coach.

Gourmand World Cookbook Fair, Paris – February 22-24 Leading chefs and TV personalities from round the world will be at the Carrousel du Louvre for this trade fair, which will also see the first World Festival of Wine and Food Television. Limoges Wine Fair – February 22-24 Artisan winemakers and commercial groups will be side by side when more than 100 exhibitors offer their wares for tasting at this salon in Limoges’ exhibition centre. Call 05 55 37 20 20 Cérémonie des César February 22 Antoine de Caunes will host the 38th annual César awards. Nominations will be announced on January 25 by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma. For the second year running the Académie will screen all nominated films at Le Balzac cinema on the Champs Elysées and at 3 Luxembourg in Saint Germain des Prés. The showings will be open to the public and run from February 6-19. BMX Indoor Festival, Caen – February 23-24 A full programme of speed, dirt and flat displays as the cream of local bike racers aim to grab some air time in front of their friends and families. Call 02 31 75 10 74

France’s Julien Malzieu scores a try against Italy in last year’s Six Nations the 20th anniversary of the salon. Granville Carnaval, Normandy – February 8-12 More than 40 floats will be in the Sunday parade when the 2,000 ­participants head off to perform for the 120,000-strong crowd – many in fancy dress. This is the 139th year of

show why he is still one of the most popular stars in the country. His Les Lacs du Connemara is an iconic song for many brought up in the 1970s. Salon Bio Respire la Vie, La Rochelle – February 15-17 This organic and environmental­ exhibition can help your plans for eco-friendly living as it has experts on environmentally-friendly projects all in the one spot at Espace Encan – La Rochelle ­Congress Centre. Fête du Mimosa, Mandelieu-La Napoule – February 15-24 Hayfever sufferers should avoid the Côte d’Azur town as it turns yellow to mark the flowering of the mimosa, bringing “sun in winter”. Day and night there are parades of flower-­covered floats and Saturdays are enlivened by the illuminated floats, while Sunday sees the traditional Battle of the Flowers.

Nice Carnaval – February 15-March 6 Crowds enjoy the Granville Carnaval, Normandy Fancy dress is the best way to get free entry to the Corso Carnavalesque that makes up a major the carnival which was started as a part of the three-week carnival, one of send-off for fishermen heading for the the world’s largest street parades. This fishing grounds off Newfoundland. Salon des Entrepreneurs year the theme is the King of the Five A fairground with many sideshows is – February 6-7 Continents and the 18 giant floats will part of the events and there are three Anyone looking at launching a days of parades and confetti-throwing. be joined by more than 1,000 acrostart-up or who seeks finance for bats, street entertainers and business development should head teers. The Promenade des Anglais and for the Palais de Congrès in Paris for Place Massena are filled to bursting as Michel Sardou – February 9 this free event. This year the The French singer takes to the stage at carnival fans flock to the Riviera from ­organisers have secured e20 million all over Europe. the Palio at Boulazac in Périgueux to of funding from i­nvestors to match

Fest’oie, Sarlat – February 16-17 The annual goose festival sees 200 geese herded through the streets of Sarlat in the Dordogne, along with a host of food tastings and displays in Place de la Liberté. The Saturday sees the Soirée Bodég’oie with food, music and ­dancing under a huge heated marquee. Sunday sees the town’s restaurateurs challenged to come up with menus containing only goose at a special repas traditionnel for the 750 gourmands taking part.

International Agricultural Show / Salon International de l’Agriculture – February 23-March 3 The farmyard comes to Paris for one of the capital’s biggest events of the year, giving more than half a million visitors the chance to find out about country life.

Travelling Film Festival, Rennes – ­February 19-26 iard es B The festival takes a look org Ge : at Edinburgh and oto Ph Glasgow, featuring films from the cities that gave birth to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, David Mackenzie’s Hallam Foe and Young Adam and Bill Forsyth’s Comfort and Joy, among others. A special look will also be taken of the works of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Oscars – February 24 France’s Emmanuelle Riva (pictured) is the oldest nominee at this year’s Academy Awards, vying against the youngest, nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, in the category of Best Actress. Riva, whose previous films include Hiroshima mon amour (1956) is nominated for her performance in Amour.

Peer Gynt and Kikimora, Lyon – February 20 This starts a series of concerts for young people in the Lyon Auditorium with The Witches of Eastwick, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata et Fugue in D Minor, and Scheherazade. Peer Gynt will also be played at a special 35-minute matinee performance just for children aged from three to five.

Lisieux sur glace - February 23-March 10 A giant skating rink takes over the Place François Mitterrand in front of the Lisieux cathedral.

LAST CHANCE TO CATCH PARIS HOPPER EXPO: Night owls get the opportunity to view the Grand Palais’ Edward Hopper exhibition into the small hours at the start of the month. After receiving more than half a million visitors since October, the Grand Palais is extending its expo on the American painter until February 3. From January 26-31 doors will open from 9.00-23.00, then from February 1 the expo will run 24 hours a day until the end of February 3.

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Wine Review of 2012 III

Connexion 2 February 2013 ©AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD

THE TERROIRIST Jonathan Healey

It’s always the season for spicy vin chaud

A winemaker sprays a biodynamic preparation on his vineyards in Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu

Why are bio winemakers reaching for the stars? THE sun is setting and the slopes of the Cote-d’Or are soaking up the last few rays of the day. A waning moon has just appeared to the east. It is the ideal time for some of Burgundy’s celebrated vines to be given a feed of a dung-based compound that has spent most of the last year fermenting in buried cow horns. On another day on another estate, it could be a herbal tea made with lavender, sage or lemongrass that is applied in the hope of getting a little extra concentration in the grapes the vines will yield a little less than a year from now. Or maybe some vegetable compost macerated in a stag’s bladder might do the trick. Welcome to the wacky world of biodynamic wine-making, a system that, for all its association with esoteric New Ageism, has been around for the best part of a century and has already been adopted by some of the world’s leading producers. Alone in a valley bedecked in autumnal splendour, Didier Montchovet carefully soaks his cherished 12 hectares with a fine spray of “500” – the dung/horn cocktail that is one of the emblematic recipes of the biodynamic movement. Whatever the choice of fertiliser, it is an absolute no-no to splash it on without first checking the alignment of the stars and consulted a Zodiac chart to establish the most auspicious moment for application. The roots of this unorthodox approach

It is not based on commercial considerations. It is a philosophy: a vision of what wine should be and man’s relationship with wine Marketing lecturer Joelle Brouard

lie in the theoretical work of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher now best known for inspiring the educational system that bears his name. Steiner did not personally come up with the stag’s bladder recipe, but he did advise a group of farmers that they might have success by adopting a holistic approach to their land that involved eliminating the use of pesticides and timing sowing, weeding and harvesting with reference to perceived lunar and planetary influences on plant growth. “There are some very esoteric elements to his writing,” said Montchovet. For winemakers like Montchovet, however, what goes in the bottle is more important than what went on to the page

in 1920s Austria. “It is exactly like homeopathy or osteopathy, you either believe or you don’t,” acknowledges Pierre Vincent, the head winemaker at Domaine de la Vougeraie, a boutique Burgundian estate that shares its enthusiasm for biodynamics with the world famous Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Estates like these are focused on export sales, command top prices and are on good terms with their bank managers. Everything about their operations is planned, objective, rational. Except when it comes to looking after the vines. Albert Bichot, one of Burgundy’s bigger merchant houses, is considering the leap of faith involved in switching its production to biodynamics. “We’ve all had a scientific training, a Cartesian education,” says Christophe Chauvel, one of Bichot’s winemakers. “Biodynamics don’t correspond to anything we learnt in school.” Detractors are unlikely to be convinced, and it is perhaps a sign of lingering doubts that few estates promote themselves as biodynamic producers. “In the end, they all want to be judged by the results rather than the method,” explains Joelle Brouard, a marketing lecturer at Dijon’s business school. “Fundamentally it is not based on commercial considerations. It is a philosophy: a vision of what wine should be and man’s relationship with nature.”

Jeff Koons has become the latest in a long line of illustrious artists to produce a label for the equally celebrated wine of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The elite Bordeaux estate has, every year since 1945, commissioned an original work to adorn its bottles and Koons has been accorded the honour for the

2010 vintage. For his label, the contemporary American artist, more known for giant plastic lobsters and silver cartoon rabbits, opted to return to antiquity, drawing inspiration from a Pompei fresco depicting the birth of Venus. The tradition began with a one-off production for the 1924

vintage and became a regular feature from 1945. Aartists are paid with cases of the estate’s highly prized produce and include the likes of Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The bottles which bear Koons’ design have all been sold to suppliers around the world and will retail from e800.

The articles above are ©AFP / ©Relaxnews


Artist Koons puts his stamp on Rothschild’s label

Among the misguided traditions that can limit your enjoyment of wine – like saving Champagne for very special occasions, or matching white wine only with fish and red wine with meat – few are more absurd than the tradition of drinking mulled wine at Christmas markets only. This bad habit means that many wine lovers enjoy just a few cups annually of a festive treat that could be warming them throughout the bleak mid-winter. Winter was far from underway last year when I visited the Christmas market at Collioure’s Chateau Royal in the Roussillon. Carol singers tried gamely to strike a wintery tone but the sunbathers lining the chateau’s walls undermined the impression. Undeterred, I wound through the 70-odd stall-holders, ensconced around the donjon in the medieval chateau’s labyrinth of courtyards, stairways and passages, in search of expat Grandma Bradley’s celebrated vin chaud. Vin chaud is more than just hot wine, of course. Heating wine usually ruins it – that’s why wines come with recommended service temperatures. But add sugar, spices and a secret ingredient (there is always a secret ingredient) and hot wine becomes something delicious and democratic: anyone can enjoy it. The ingredients are cheap. But can anyone make it? Two cupfuls convinced me, with February in mind, to buy a packet of Grandma Bradley’s Mulled Wine Mix. The directions on the brown paper bag state “Add sugar, wine and heat”. Does it matter what kind of wine? In the Alsace, vin chaud is made from either red or white wine, though the author of a vin chaud blanc recipe at recommends using Riesling, not Gewurztraminer. Grandma Bradley recommends using whatever wine you like, just don’t boil it. She is less forthcoming about her mix’s ingredients. I think it contains cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, vanilla and cloves. Heat the spices in a pan with sugar (125g of sugar per bottle of wine), thick strips of lemon, lime or orange peel, the juice of half a lemon, lime or orange, and just enough wine to cover the sugar. After the sugar dissolves, infuse the syrup with the spices by boiling for two to three minutes. Reduce the heat and add the wine to the pan. It should be ready to filter and serve after five minutes. Common “secret ingredients” include raisins, ginger, cardamom, black pepper and bay leaves. Vin chaud may be mulled with an additional alcoholic ingredient, too, like Cognac. The Nordic version glögg gains in potency from the addition of vodka or aquavit. In Germany, glühwien (literally “glow wine”, from the hot irons used for mulling) is sometimes laced with rum. Keith Floyd was a fan. He served winter guests at his Creek Lodge cottage in Kinsale, County Cork, an Irish version laced with illegal poitin, aka “Irish moonshine”. Poitin is one of the strongest distilled beverages in the world and was outlawed for over 300 years in Ireland. It was granted a licence by the Irish state to be sold in 1997 and became an appellation in 2008. It is still illegal in Northern Ireland. Floyd and his guests would have been familiar with the poitin-inspired stories of debauchery and delirium in Irish poetry and folk songs. Many Irish folk songs, not surprisingly, include lengthy refrains made up entirely of vocables: non-lexical syllables, like “la la la”. The Rare Old Mountain Dew, a famous Irish folk song that deals with poitin, contains this repeated refrain: “hi dee diddley idle dum, hi dee doodle dydle dum, hi dee doo dye diddly aye day”! Perhaps that’s what I heard Grandma Bradley singing to herself as she poured mulled wine at Collioure’s Christmas market? Then, with the afternoon sun sinking behind the ramparts and a chill breeze off the sea scaling their walls, I finished my wine and (just as quickly) the heat disappeared from my cup. At the gate, a pair of camels huddled with intimations of winter in their steamy breaths; so I snorted deeply from the brown paper bag of spices and looked forward to February. Jonathan Healey is the author of The Wines of Roussillon (Trabucaire) and Discovering Wine Country: South of France (Mitchell-Beazley). He hosts wine tours and tasting events in the Roussillon.

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Connexion 2 February 2013

Eat ripe Roquefort to live longer - but you need some every day

by Oliver Rowland

Prep time: 1 hour Cooking time: 20 minutes Chilling time: 3 hours Serves: 10 - 12

Ph ot o:


un p-







EATING Roquefort or Camembert – the riper the better – may explain why the French are long-lived, says new British research. Scientists at Lycotec, a bio-medical development firm in Cambridge, analysed around 20 (mostly European) cheeses to test a theory that cheese-eating may be one of the reasons for the “French paradox” – the fact the French are among the longest-lived in Europe, with especially low levels of death from cardio-vascular disease, despite eating a fairly high-fat diet. While a lot more research of a more rigorous nature is needed to confirm any longevity-cheese-eating link, Lycotec claims there is growing evidence that “regular cheese intake” reduces risks of cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, readers need little prompting to reach into the fridge to try their own experiments. (Try out our Roquefort recipes on the page.) Other studies have suggested red-wine drinking plays a role; however, cheese-eating may explain why the French remain healthy despite declining wine consumption, while Eastern Europeans, who are drinking more, have “alarming” levels of heart disease. The health-giving properties appear during the ripening process, says Lycotec, which hopes to synthesize the chemicals involved to make drugs. Researcher Ivan Petyaev said that while they focused especially on Roquefort, whose blue veins of mould are thought significant, the white mould on the rind of a mature Camembert, which also infuses into the body of the cheese, may be equally good. They found 95% of French people eat blue Roquefort-type cheese or Camembert, and half eat some every day. “How much you need to eat depends on your body mass and how mature the cheese is – about 15-25g per day, especially if you already have risk factors, but if you miss a day or two it doesn’t matter – it’s not religion, and you don’t need to eat it all in one go.” However, just once a week would be unlikely to be enough, he said. You should buy the cheese ready-ripened. “If you try to mature it at home, without the same hygienic conditions, you don’t know when to stop and it’s not as healthy. You don’t want the wrong bacteria and fungus to form.” The president of the Roquefort producers’ organisation, Robert Glandieres, said they were happy about the findings but would wait for more details before making them part of their marketing strategies. “It’s too soon to say if we’ll sell more cheese, but it can’t do any harm, because it’s getting Roquefort talked about.” The fact Roquefort is made from ewe’s milk, with fewer saturated fatty acids than cow’s, may also make it especially healthy, he said. Try out our Roquefort recipes on this page.

Pear and Roquefort cheesecake 300g Roquefort 400g cream cheese 2 large egg whites 3 very ripe pears

Ingredients n 75g walnuts n 200g digestives n 75g butter, melted

n n n n

Method n Put the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped.

n Remove 2 tablespoons of the walnuts from the processor and set aside for decoration,

Roquefort, Bleu des Causses and Pérail terrine Ingredients n 3 whole Pérail or Camembert n 8 thick slices prosciutto n 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds n 1 tbsp mint, finely chopped n 4 very ripe peaches, peeled and cubed n 4 x 100g wedges Roquefort For the crêpes: n 150g plain flour n 1 large egg n 325ml whole milk n 30g butter, melted n 1 tbsp poppy seeds To serve: n 100g Roquefort, cubed n Croutons, micro salad leaves and pansies to garnish

then add the biscuits to the processor and pulse until ground to fine crumbs. n Mix in the melted butter, then tip the mixture into a 23cm round springform cake tin. n Press the crumbs down firmly into an even layer with the back of a spoon then chill while you make the filling. n Mash the Roquefort roughly with the back of a fork and then beat in the cream cheese along with a good grind of black pepper. n Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl with an electric whisk

Method n First make the crêpes. Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Break in the egg and pour in the milk, then use a whisk to gradually incorporate all of the flour from round the outside. n Melt the butter in a small frying pan, then whisk it into the batter along with the poppy seeds. n Put the buttered frying pan back over a low heat. Add a small ladle of batter and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. n When it starts to dry and curl up at the edges, turn the pancake over with a spatula and cook the other side until golden brown and cooked through. n Repeat with the rest of the mixture, then use the crêpes to line a large loaf tin

until they have formed stiff peaks. n Fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture in two stages then spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top. n Chill the cheesecake for 3 hours or until firm. n Just before serving, peel and core the pears and cut them into thin wedges. n Remove the cheesecake from the tin and transfer to a serving plate then arrange the pears on top and sprinkle with the reserved chopped walnuts.

that has been pre-lined with cling-film. Cut a small slice off two sides of each Pérail and set aside, then fit the cheeses into the bottom of the loaf tin, cut side to cut side. n Top the Pérail with a layer of prosciutto. Put the reserved Pérail slices in a bowl and mash them with the back of a fork. n Stir in the pomegranate seeds and mint then spread the mixture in an even layer on top of the prosciutto. n Add a layer of peach cubes on top and press down to firm. n Fit the Roquefort wedges together, top to tail in pairs, then sit them on top of the peaches to form an even layer. n Fold the crêpes over the top to enclose, then cover the terrine with cling-film and weigh it down with a wooden board. n Chill the terrine for 3 hours or until it is set firmly. n To serve, unmould the terrine on to a plate and garnish with Roquefort cubes, croutons, micro salad leaves and pansies.

Prep time: 30 minutes Chilling time: 4 hours Serves: 8 - 10

CX 13

Food Review of 2012 III

Connexion 2 February 2013

Sometimes you just have to have a taste of home by JAMES ROTHWELL FRANCE is known as the culinary capital of Europe, offering a mouth-watering ensemble of foods and flavours to those from foreign shores. But many expats living here soon find their stomach is rumbling for home comforts as their thoughts drift away from foie gras towards fish and chips and pies. Many still yearn for that unique flavour of Marmite or Branston pickle, or Reese’s peanut butter cups; a trend which has thrown up business opportunities. Among them are Lisa and Jeremy ­Cooper who, detecting a yearning for British meat in the expat community, set up their own traditional butcher shop, L’Epicerie Barenton in Normandy. “Traditional back bacon and pork sausages are by far the most popular kinds of meat among British expats in France,” Mrs Cooper told Connexion, “though it’s not just the British who are interested in our products. “From what we are told, around 50% of our sales in supermarkets come from French customers. “The French don’t necessarily love British food but they love the British approach, and they appreciate hard work.” And while classic British foods such as fish and chips or pork pies might not be top choices for distinguished foodies, they have never been in higher demand among expats. Those who live in Paris are fortunate enough to have branches of WH Smith and Marks & Spencer on hand to appease their cravings, but living further afield is a different story altogether. That was why Michael Cook set up online supermarket British Tuck Box. Here, you can buy anything from Heinz tomato ketchup to Kellogg’s cornflakes and have it delivered to your door. Cook says Brits in France crave PG Tips and Branston pickle more than anything else: “But we get a wide vari­ emands,” he adds, “McVitie’s ety of d digestives and traditional marmalades have been in particularly high demand of late – though no one has asked for pork scratchings yet.” Elsewhere, also relieves homesick Brits from their hunger pangs. Tetleys, PG Tips and British curry sauces top most customers’ shopping lists, according to owner Nigel Morecroft. Products are ordered in bulk with a slight mark up, and there’s a delivery fee of £11.99 for orders less than 30kg. But it is still cheaper than a trip across

the Channel for your favourite British snack. For Americans, culinary home comforts are just as accessible – and affordable – if you know where to look. offers home delivery of just about anything, from Hershey’s chocolate to pumpkin pie filling. This nostalgia for food from one’s home shores is everywhere. Whitbread Awardwinning novelist Adam Thorpe told The Connexion that he sorely misses English cottage cheese, almost impossible to find in “health-obsessed” France. “When in the UK, we stock up on proper builder’s tea; Marmite and Bovril (both proof to the French that the English are weird), and the obscurer Indian pickles.”

Jeremy and Lisa Cooper, who set up their own butcher shop, L’Epicerie Barenton in Normandy

Never mind British food; here are some tasty French equivalents Cottage cheese

Though French cheese is second to none, a spot of British cottage cheese can be difficult to find. An effective, albeit slightly unusual, solution is to seek out a block of Quark, a German brand that is cottage cheese in all but name. Purists, however, should opt for a tub of Jockey Cottage Cheese (Recette Anglaise) sold in large branches of LeClerc supermarkets (e3.60/400g).


Supermarket veterans will already be aware of France’s Monster Munch brand crisps – alas, they are quite different from what one might expect. Unlike their English cousin’s chunky shape and powerful flavour, these are lightweight and flat. However, those yearning for novelty-shaped crisps need not despair: Benenuts cheese or peanut butter flavour crisps are tasty and affordable. They offer a wider than usual range of flavours in larger supermarkets, including paprika and goat’s cheese. (e1.08/85g Champion)


You might have been craving McVitie’s chocolate digestives since you arrived in France, but the Gauls have plenty of tasty alternatives to appease your sweet tooth. The best traditional coffee break substitute is LU’s Petit écolier. There are plenty of imitations of this

Chinese crispy duck

generous layer of creamy chocolate atop a crunchy base, but the original has the best texture and taste by far (e1.72/150g, Casino). The more intrepid should seek out Carrefour’s own delicious brand of Fondants Caramels (e1.20/150g), which are reminiscent of McVitie’s caramel digestives.


Why buy boxes of PG Tips or Tetley online, when a good French cuppa might do just as well? The Mariage Frère brand is highly prestigious and, although the prices are steeper than your average supermarket brand, you get what you pay for. We recommend a tin of Rouge d’Automne tea (e10/100g). n Readers on our Facebook page joined in the bid to find French equivalents. Here are some of their suggestions:

Double cream

“If you whisk marscapone with crème fluide, adjusting the volumes according to required thickness, you’ll get double cream or whipping cream”

Thick custard

“If you take crème anglaise and mix in a cornflour solution and a bit more vanilla and sugar to taste, you’ll have thick custard.”

Cheddar cheese

“We found Cantal cheese a good Cheddar substitute, and now prefer it to the real thing!”

“Confit de canard in tins is great for making crispy duck. Leave the tin in warm water for half an hour, drain and reserve the fat for roast spuds. Blettes are also a good stand-in for pak choi.

Baked beans

“Add vinegar and sugar to a tin of Leader Price baked beans. They just taste the same as Heinz”

Bangers and mash

“Toulouse sausage and Aligot make a good winter substitute for bangers and mash. Aligot is an Aveyron speciality consisting of a very fattening mashed potato with cheese, garlic and creme fraiche.


“Fromage blanc is the equivalent of the yogurt you use in curry recipes in the UK, this has really helped as one of the things we miss is a proper Indian takeaway”

Custard creams

“The round biscuits “goûters fourrés lait-vanille” you can buy under several organic brands (Jardin Bio’...) taste just like custard creams”

Pork pie

“There is a long square pork pie looking item called paté en croute, with brown sauce is very nice”

Soft cheese for cheesecake

“St Moret can be used as a great alternative to cream cheese in cheesecakes and other desserts”

CX 14


Connexion 2 February 2013

Did you know?

The Pointblank Directive L. Douglas Keeney £20 Osprey Publishing ISBN: 978-1-84908-933-3

THERE were hardly any air attacks on the Normandy landings in 1944 – so where were the Luftwaffe on D-Day? That’s the key question this book answers, and in the process highlights the decisions that saved hundreds of thousands of Allied troops and, ultimately, saved Europe from Hitler. Subtitled Three Generals and the Untold Story of the Daring Plan that saved D-Day, it tells of the Pointblank Directive, which called for RAF and US bombers to target aircraft factories, transport links and military bases to weaken the Germans and reduce their ability to counter-attack on D-Day. Signed in January 1943, it was failing in almost every aspect a year later as the bombers were being shot down in huge numbers.

Six months before D-Day, statistics for Bomber Command and the US Air Force summed up the scale of the task: for the RAF, out of every 100 aircrew, 51 died on operations, nine were lost in crashes, three seriously injured, 12 taken prisoner, one shot down but evaded capture and just 24 completed a tour of duty; for the USAF so many planes were being shot down it was statistically impossible to complete a tour. General Henry “Hap” Arnold is the first of the three generals and made one of the most vital decisions: getting rid of the old commanders and putting in two new ones, General Carl Spaatz and General James Doolittle. They – and the thousands of aircrew – did the rest, clearing the skies of effective Luftwaffe cover in Normandy.

Connexion journalists read the latest French releases. In the interests of fairness, each gets 20 minutes’ reading The Second Empress £12.99 Michelle Moran / Quercus ISBN: 978-0-85738-860-5 The Good Man’s Daughter Matador Roger Stokes £8.99 ISBN: 978-1848766-662 PERSECUTION of the Cathars in Languedoc forms the background to an engrossing debut novel. The terrible fate of the Cathars has been well documented as they challenged the established Catholic Church, but the casual brutality of the daily life of the people is less well-known and it becomes clear from the opening pages that the heroine Elouise and those closest to her live in dangerous times. Spotted while bathing in a stream, the young beauty is lusted after by one young knight and loved by another, his cousin. The consequences are beyond thinking. It is said that the Cathars were the guardians of the Holy Grail but that was no protection from the Church as it came to put down the heretics, “to be purified by the flames” yet the end hides a delicious twist.

NAPOLEON may be Emperor of France and conqueror of the Habsburg-Lorraine empire but he still cannot sire an heir – so he turns “Not tonight, Josephine” into “Never again” and starts the quest for a new bride who can satisfy his needs for a legitimate child. He lights upon Maria Lucia, the daughter of the Hapsburg emperor, Francis I, and for her it is not an attractive thought as she despises the little Corsican. Smart, full of life and very intelligent, Maria Lucia was expected to be the next Regent of Austria when her simple brother inherited the throne but instead the machinations of scheming diplomat Prince Metternich have seen her renamed Marie-Louise and joining Napoleon at the French court.

There she is delighted to meet Josephine’s daughter Hortense and they become firm friends – while all around them the palaces and courtyards ring with stories and rumours but also bring back memories of her great-aunt, Marie Antoinette, beheaded less than 20 years before. She also meets the emperor’s sister, Pauline, who has defied conventions of the day while still keeping Napoleon in her thrall. She has never been happier now Josephine has been banished from his bed, but fears Marie-Louise is a new rival for his ear – and his affections. Told through the voices of three of the characters, this is a lighter tale than Moran’s excellent previous Madame Tussaud but is a pleasure to read and become wrapped in life at court.

MEET the man who designed the gardens at the Chateau de Bagatelle, created glorious projects for Marie Antoinette and built the Empress Josephine’s country gardens at Malmaison. Travelling round France in the years leading up to and after the Revolution, this reprint of a book, originally published in 1931, is an insider’s view of the events that overwhelmed the country and his clients and friends. It holds fascinating insights into the people he works with and descriptions of places, plants and people that are well known to anyone in France, but also the terrors of living in an era when the people who were ordering and paying for his garden projects were being killed – sometimes as he looked on – and of his own house being looted.

Dynasties of the Sea Lori Ann LaRocco / Marine Money e18.40 ISBN: 978-0-9837163-6-5

The Greengage Summer £6.99 Rumer Godden / Pan Macmillan ISBN: 978-0-330-32778-7

WHEN Philippe Louis-Dreyfus was asked to rejoin the French family’s multi-conglomerate he said he would do so, “Only if I can take over the shipping arm.” He has since transformed the armateur, doubled his French flag fleet and rebuilt its image. He says: “The French flag is more expensive, but our customers have more certainty because they are sure to get good and efficient service.” These first-person profiles of the world’s major shipowners, reveal what Donald Trump calls “the shipping titans who tend to stay out of the spotlight”. From New York to Paris and Singapore to Monaco they drive free trade and the global economy.

MEMORIES really are made of this... this tale by Rumer Godden and the film starring Kenneth More and Susannah York is a classic. It has everything: a family of English children spending time in France including the blooming Joss, glamorous hotelier Zizi and Eliot her lover, a treacherous hotel employee and the country’s most successful detective. As Joss grows aware of herself as a woman, it has a dark undercurrent as she learns Eliot’s background and his opinion of her... It also has the memorable intro “On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages...”

Photo: Benh Lieu Song - wikicommons

The 20-minute book review

Diary of a Scotch Gardener at the French Court Thomas Blaikie £19.99 Cambridge ISBN: 9781108055611

Why is Paris known as the City of Light?

THERE are several possible explanations for the term la Ville-Lumière, though it almost certainly relates to actual lighting, not enlightenment. The Office de Tourisme de Paris says visitors have long been impressed by how well lit it was at all times. As early as the 16th century, parliament, worried about the “thefts, murders and accidents due to lack of lighting in the streets”, ordered bourgeois citizens to put lamps and torches outside their homes in decrees. Then, still due to concerns about crime, the city’s first police chief, Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, who was appointed in 1680, ordered that public lighting with lanterns be installed in all streets. Finally, the reputation was cemented by the fact that the inventor of gas lighting, French chemist and engineer Philippe Lebon who studied in Paris, tested it for the first time in the city (in 1801), which was among the world’s first to install it in the streets, starting in 1816. Some say the phrase was popularised by British visitors as City of Light, before Ville Lumière became its established nickname in France.

CX 15

Quiz Review of 2012 III

Connexion 2 February 2013

2 Which French military medal was designed by the sculptor Paul-Albert Bartholomé to honour those who fought with bravery for France? 3 Inhabitants of which commune about 13 miles from the centre of Paris are known as Orcéens? 4 Which French city, capital of the Côte-d’Or department and of Burgundy region, is famous for its mustard? 5 Name the French company based in Roscoff and founded in 1972 that runs ships between France, the UK, Ireland and Spain? 6 Which tennis player won the men’s singles at the French Open in 1984, 1986 and 1987? 7 Which book, a memoir by convict and fugitive Henri Charrière, describes his escape from a penal colony in French Guiana? 8 Which French five-letter word is used as a noun in English for an embarrassing blunder? 9 Name the oblong pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with icing, that used to be called pain à la duchesse. 10 How would you better know the French delicacy sometimes called cuisses de grenouille?

Photo: David.Monn iaux

Photo: © Fdutil

1 In Rugby Union, which blond wing forward won 59 caps for France (34 of them as captain) between 1975-1984?

11 Which French island with a population of about 800,000, is located in the Indian Ocean, about 120 miles south west of Mauritius? 12 By population, name the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille? 13 What French name meaning ‘nape of the neck’ is given to the tight bun hairstyle of Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi? 14 Which children’s TV series was on the BBC 1965-1977, but was created by French animator Serge Danot? 15 Which French phrase describes a publicity-shy person with little formal power but great influence over those in authority? 16 Actor Gérard Depardieu has been granted citizenship of what country? 17 A gang stole at least e1million worth of phones, tablets and computers from which Paris store on New Year’s Eve? 18 Name the pioneering French electronic composer who is looking to set up and run an electronic music academy in London? 19 The country’s third busiest airport surpassed the 11 million passenger mark late in 2012. Which airport? 20 International full back Mathieu Debuchy joined which FA Premier League club from Lille? Find the anagram! Work out our quiz and take the first letter from the answers to the questions below and rearrange the letters to spell the name of a French city. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their usual surname. Questions 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12 and 15

Down 1 French fans analyse the flat side of a coin (9) 2 English author not currently expecting deliveries (8) 3 Husband I hit back in France (4) 4 French timekeeper shows chore mentor dismissed (11) 5 Roundabout French way to staff, say, first embassy (6) 6 Father’s directions are old hat (5) 11 Comical trim needed to find where weather is highly localised in France (11) 13 No French gold, copper, nitrogen compound (5) 14 They make late returns

Last Month’s Solution ACROSS: Agribusiness; 9 China; 10 Imperious; 11 Eleveur; 12 Towards; 13 Shore; 15 Aspirine; 19 Allemand; 20 Adder; 23 Epanoui; 25 Ficeler; 27 Ordinaire; 28 Repit; 29 Transhumance. DOWN: 1 Ancien; 2 Reine; 3 Brake-drum; 4 Suivre; 6 Screw; 7 Resister; 8 Lorraine; 14 Hollande; 16 Indecorum;17 Ravenous; 18 Incision; 21 Afresh; 22 Pretre; 24 Owner; 26 Lapin.

in France (9) 17 Terrible E Coli bug, really rife, starts, calling for DIY treatment in France (8) 18 Move a tree right out, given

French-themed crossword

French decree (6) 19 Small French animal finds nothing in girl (5) 21 Indian princess goes out in bad weather (4)

by John Foley

Note: Apart from 20 across, answers are French words or names Across 1 Meuble haut for dresses, suits and suchlike (7) 4 Fabric des graines du genre Gossypium – too light for winter months (5) 7 Celebrated père et fils writers (5) 9 La _____, sometime slang for the guillotine (5) 10 Base du système décimal (3) 11 Knot-tying cérémonie (4) 12 Légume vert qui se mange en salade (6) 15 “Sans l’______, la guerre est ridicule” – Pierre Desproges, humoriste (6) 16 Boisson alcoolisée à l’anis (6) 19 Former mayor of Paris, prime minister, president (6) 20 Means of communication sometimes provided gratuit in bars and cafés (4) 21 Vin ___ – organic wine (3) 23 Corde à _____: convenient for drying clothes (5) 24 Point cardinal – le côté de l’horizon où le soleil disparaît (5) 25 À votre _____ – probably not the best thing to say to 26 (5) 26 Someone qui s’enivre souvent (7) Down 1. Densely wooded department on the Belgian border (8) 2. Né or originaire (4) 3. Economic way to buy 21 across and other goods (2,4) 4. Jacques ________, explorer, filmmaker and marine conservation pioneer (8)

5. Lukewarm – or indifférent (5) 6. Le fruit du noyer (4) 8. Southernmost city in the Burgundy region, on the western bank of the Saône river (5) 13. L’atmosphère d’un lieu (8) 14. Pièce de vaisselle - useful with a couteau, fourchette and/or cuillère (8)

17. Use 20 across to access this (5) 18. Jour de la semaine – for most people one to look forward to (6) 19. Tasty fish sometimes called merlu and known in English as hake (5) 21. Limb, qui va de l’épaule au poignet (4) 22. Construction en hauteur, such as by Gustave Eiffel (4)

French quiz answers 1 (Jean-Pierre) Rives; 2 Croix de guerre; 3 Orsay; 4 Dijon; 5 Brittany Ferries; 6 (Ivan) Lendl; 7 Papillon; 8 Gaffe; 9 Eclair; 10 Frog’s legs; 11 Réunion; 12 Nice; 13 Chignon; 14 The Magic Roundabout; 15 Eminence grise; 16 Russia; 17 Apple; 18 Jean-Michel Jarre; 19 Nice Côte d’Azur Airport; 20 Newcastle United. Anagram answer - GRENOBLE

Test your general knowledge of France in our Connexion quiz with a twist

Answers may be in English or French, the choice usually suggested by the clues. All accents ignored. Across 7 Flying saucers, perhaps, seen in France (5) 8 To fill your water-bag in France, take a cow to the source (5,1,3) 9 Nail found in wrong level in France (5) 10 French slow cooker will, surprisingly, see Jim out (9) 12 Faulty pipe OK again, but it was an unwise purchase (1,3,2,1,4) 15 A game to beat in return (4) 16 Home for French bees has a frill in England (5) 17 Shade sacred in France? (4) 18 Handicap race to a ruin – quite the opposite, say the French (2,9) 20 Hide car in here: in France it helps open and close (9) 22 Time right for a drink? (5) 23 Manufactured tin carton under duress in France (9) 24 Blow the French find in much of 14 (5)

Crossword solution: Across 1 armoire; 4 coton; 7 Dumas; 9 veuve; 10 dix; 11 noce; 12 laitue; 15 ennemi; 16 pastis; 19 Chirac; 20 Wifi; 21 bio; 23 linge; 24 ouest; 25 santé; 26 ivrogne Down 1 Ardennes; 2 issu; 3 en vrac; 4 Cousteau; 5 tiède; 6 noix; 8 Mâcon; 13 ambiance; 14 assiette; 17 toile; 18 samedi; 19 colin; 21 bras; 22 tour

French Quiz

Cryptic bilingual crossword

CX 16

The Big Photo

Connexion 2 February 2013 This ‘plane without wings’ was built in 1922 and is on display at the Retromobile exhibition

The flying machine that never got off the ground THE incredible flying machine above is one of the stars at the Retromobile exhibition in Paris this month. Built by engineer Marcel Leyat in 1922, the Hélica, also known as ‘the plane without wings’, does not actually fly and is still registered for use on French roads. It has been owned since new by the family of Jean-François Bouzanquet, whose grandfather bought it. Jean-François restored the car back to road-worthiness in 1994 and still takes it out for a spin, although usually on racetracks. Retromobile opens at the Porte de Versailles in Paris on February 6 and the Hélica was built just an hour’s walk away, at Quai de Grenelle. Leyat built the first of his cars in 1913 as Henry Ford was putting the Model T into full mass production in Detroit. He went against all thoughts on car design: it had no chassis, no gearbox, no gears and none of the wheels were

powered. Made of plywood, it was driven by the 8hp engine and propeller and hit 170kph on the banked circuit at Montlhéry. Also at Retromobile will be the Morane Type H aircraft used by Roland Garros on September 23, 1913 for the first flight across the Mediterranean. Garros, nowadays better known for tennis and the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, flew it from Fréjus to Tunis in seven hours, 53 minutes. Garros was not a tennis player, except for the occasional game. The stadium was named by his friend, French Tennis Federation president Emile Lesieur, in his honour. Garros had been shot down and killed in action in October, 1918, just weeks before the Armistice. A special display area is devoted to him featuring the Roland Garros Bugatti five-litre built for him by close friend Ettore Bugatti.

Roland Garros flew across the Mediterranean in 1913 in the Morane Type H aircraft (inset)


February 2013

page special feature

Wherever you are in Brittany, the sea is ever-present and a part of everyday life. This land of traditions is a firm favourite with both visitors and home-buyers from all over the world. On her whistlestop tour round the region CAROLYN REYNIER finds that the prices and properties vary so widely that there is plenty to choose from for every type of buyer


Property Focus 25 Photo: © Atout France/Pierre Torset

The Connexion

Nestling between the rocks, the old customs officers’ house at Kerlouan is a favourite destination for walkers and cyclists on the Finistère coast WITH 2,700km of coastline, no place in Brittany and its four departments of Côtes-d’Armor, Finistère, Ille-etVilaine and Morbihan, is far from the sea. The two main urban centres of the regional capital Rennes and Brest are where much of the three million population live and work. We look first at property in Ille-etVilaine where 11,000 new inhabitants arrive annually. One of them was Darren Woodrow who lives in sous-préfecture St-Malo. In December 2011 he and his partner moved from the UK to live permanently in a holi-

day apartment they have owned for five years. He works as an independent estate agent in the Leggett Immobilier network mandating property around St-Malo and south as far as Rennes. He is receiving enquiries from British buyers looking for property at the lower end of the price scale, some Americans, and much interest from Australians, with bigger budgets, buying second homes to retire here permanently. “These are often British people who went to Australia on the £10 ticket and can’t afford UK prices


Brittany help with all property issues buy . renovate . maintain . let or sell with the LBV Group

providing professional help to home owners in France exceptional service at competitive prices – no job too small no project too large – look no further for help near you e: t: +33 (0)2 96 24 74 27

so moving to Brittany is the next best thing.” Within the walls of St-Malo you mainly find apartment blocks. The town has burned down a few times during the course of history and was bombed during the Second World War, explains Mr Woodrow. It was subsequently rebuilt on the original footprint using the same stone, granite, and in similar style. He bought his own two-bedroom apartment for e180,000; if you want a sea view expect to pay upwards of e500,000; if you want a house with a

garden, which is a rare commodity, Mr Woodrow is marketing one on the Sillon, just outside the walls, for e2.5 million. Built in the 1970s, he says “it is the ugliest building I’ve seen for a long time; but if it was refurbished it would be stunning.” The owners wanted a garden for their children, bought the neighbouring house and razed it to create one. But the land is still constructible and another house could be built on the plot – hence the price tag. If gardening is not for you to the east in Cancale you can pick up a

stone fisherman’s cottage – often tall buildings with three or four floors – for around e200,000. As you move inland, prices move down. Mr Woodrow recently sold a lake-side house with a hectare of land, woodlands and two lakes in La Boussac south east of Dol-deBretagne for e170,000. A four-bed stone property close to the village of Plumaudan south west of Dinan just over the border in Côtes-d’Armor is for sale at e176,000. Australian clients wanting an income-producing property bought a

26 Property Focus

gîte complex for just under e250,000 just south of Antrain. If you are looking for a real bargain in the town itself you can buy a four-bedroom town house with small courtyard garden for circa e82,000. “It’s just begging for somebody to buy it. It’s beautiful and doesn’t need an awful lot of work doing,” he says. East, now, into Côtes-d’Armor where the population of just under 600,000 continues its steady annual growth, possibly due to the presence of five TGV railway stations, two airports and 17 fishing and commercial ports with traffic concentrated on the préfecture Saint-Brieuc, Tréguier and Pontrieux. One of those ports is Perros-Guirec, the department’s main seaside resort lying on the jagged Côte de Granit Rose. Today quarries of rose-coloured granite still account for around 20% of the region’s production. Pascal Lebriand, at Agence Rizzoni, covers a sector from sous-préfecture Lannion lying inland to Port-Blanc in the east, taking in the entire rose granite coast. Prices continue to come under pressure. “There’s a lot of stock,” he says. In the main purchasers tend to be retirees or second home buyers from other parts of France. Here a sea view studio will cost you e80,000-e100,000; expect to pay e150,000-e180,000 for a one bed apartment. A 20m2 pied-à-terre in the port, a lively year-round area, will come in at circa e3,000-e4,000/m2. You can find a small 19th century fisherman’s cottage for around e100,000 – and a substantial beach

Pan-de-bois timber-frame facades in Place SainteAnne in Rennes are a reminder of the forests that once stood all around – and make a pretty backdrop for a glass of wine or a meal

side property at, say, Port-Blanc for e1.5 million. Perros property provides good investment potential; there are several beaches and you are barely a kilometre from the town centre, so demand for both seasonal and longterm lets is high. There are, too, early 20th century family manors, farm houses, old longères, those long, low, stone buildings with interconnecting rooms, and villas some of which are on the water pieds dans l’eau, they come in all shapes and sizes with varying amounts of land. A pretty manoir could set you back e5 million. Inland, Lisa Greene lives between Saint-Brieuc and Dinan. She and her husband Mike are both Leggett Immobilier independent estate agents covering an area north to the Penthièvre coast and south to the medieval town of Moncontour, a cité de caractère, one of 22 atypical Brittany communes at the same time

The Connexion

February 2013

Photo: Office de Tourisme Perros-Guirec

Photo: ®Jos+® Mouret

Prices feel pressure but life is still great

Ar Jentilez is a reconstruction of a traditional two-masted vessel from the 19th century rural, due to their limited population, and urban, through their history and patrimony. Properties largely built of granite under slate roofs include traditional properties – longères and fishermen cottages – and more “country style homes” in rural areas. Prices are around e1,100-e1,800/m2. It is still possible to buy an attractive three-bedroom home with garden for

Côtes-d’Armor continues its steady growth – it has five TGV stations, two airports and 17 fishing and commercial ports

e150,000 to e200,000, although prices do increase as you approach the coast. But “Brittany is three hours’ wide and two hours’ deep; you can drive from the north coast to the south coast in two hours so even when you’re in central Brittany you’re really only an hour from the coast,” says Mrs Greene. An Australian couple seeking a stone property with a “really perfect show-home type interior” recently paid around e150,000 for a threebedroom home north east of Loudéac in Saint-Gouéno, a hamlet with “quite an international mix of residents” which appealed to them. And Mrs Greene recently sold a renovated property with garden in picturesque Moncontour – “six restaurants in town within easy walking distance, lots going on, medieval festival every other year” – to an English couple for circa e180,000. Competitively-priced properties are selling; negotiation remains the name

of the game. “But we really feel the market’s been cherry picked.” Prospective buyers cannot afford to continue to sit back and wait. “If they really do want to snap up a nice home, a well-priced home, then they ought to think about getting on with it, really.” The Atlantic seaside town of Douar­ nenez in Finistère is closely linked to food processing and fish – it is the sardine capital. “In French the department is called Finistère, which means the end of the earth. But in Breton it’s called Penn Ar Bed which means the head of the earth so we’re much more optimistic – we say we’re at the origin whereas in French we’re at the end,” says Jocelyne Poitevin of the Etude Malefant, a family firm of notaries who sell property locally. Housing around Douarnenez’ three ports has remained traditional and in the old town you can find tiny houses ideal for second homes. “In Morbihan

on the south coast, property is much more expensive. Chez nous, it’s still affordable,” she says. Prices in surrounding communes – Kerlaz, Le Juch, Pouldergat, Poullansur-Mer – are cheaper still because there is less infrastructure as you move away from Douarnenez town centre. In rural areas you find longères, built with their back to the wind, with outbuildings in juxtaposition rather than around the traditional courtyard. Pascale Guillou at Agence Tréboul Immobilier, who covers le grand Douarnenez which includes the western villages of Confort Meilars, Mahalon and Beuzec-Cap-Sizun, says there are lots of properties on the market and lots more negotiation going on. “Before we were negotiating an average decrease of e10,000 but now it’s a much more than that.” Small fishermen’s cottages around the ports, near the Halles, and in the

House with “très belle vue” in Douarnenez, e125,000

Restored 8-bed bourgeois house near Lannion for e735,000 Photo: Leggett Immobilier

Philippe Abjean lives near Roscoff, at St-Pol-de-Léon on the Finistère coast. The port has a cathedral and, at 80m, Brittany’s highest bell tower. It is also agricultural and Philippe says: “We look out to sea, up to the heavens and down to the earth. With no sense of being closed in, we are outward-looking”, so Bretons, and especially those from St-Pol, make great navigators. In 1994 he restarted the Tro Breiz, a pilgrimage to the tombs of Brittany’s seven founding saints. He realised that more had come from Cornwall, Ireland, Wales giving names to virtually all the Breton communes. These fifth and sixth century saints created the framework of parishes and communes, and a treasure trove of popular culture “Breton legends, related of an evening by the fireside” including tales of dragon-slaying saints and wells springing miraculously out of the earth. “It’s our own Greek mythology”. Thus was born the Vallée des Saints – a project to create 4m high monumental sculptures of these Celtic saints in Carnoët.

Photo: Tréboul Immobilier

INSIDER VIEW Philippe Abjean

Property Focus 27

Photo: C C Immobilier

February 2013

Photo: Cabinet Kerjean

The Connexion

Carhaix-Plouguer neo-bretonne house hit e125,000

Tréboul quartier are comparatively rare and much sought after especially if there is a small courtyard or garden. Expect to pay around e120,000 to e150,000. Studio prices start at around e45,000 but sea views can double this; expect to pay from e60,000 for a one-bed apartment in an old building, rising to e150,000 for something with sea views in a modern apartment block. Inland again to the Poher, lying between the Montagnes Noires and the Monts d’Arrée, and CarhaixPlouguer where Mickaël Tanguy at Cabinet Kerjean says the average budget for property in the 20km radius he covers is e50,000-e100,000. “For that you can either find the little stone longère for renovation, with some land, in the countryside or a néo-bretonne house requiring renovation or freshening up in centre-ville.” These latter properties dating from the 1960s-1980s have cellar and garage on the ground floor and living

In French, Finistère means the end of the earth; in Breton, Penn Ar Bed means the head of the earth Jocelyne Poitevin Etude Malefant

quarters above. You can buy a four-bedroom 120m2 neo-bretonne house in good condition for circa e120,000; a lovely renovated longère will be around e150,000. Buyers of these typical 18th and 19th century Breton longères, where you have to walk through one room to get to the next will often build extensions to create independent bed-

Four-bed stone house in Plessala, Côtes-d’Armor is at e177,999 rooms minus the through traffic. His clients, primarily from other French departments, are looking for inexpensive second homes in Brittany but cannot afford coastal prices. Here there are lovely walks along the banks of the Nantes to Brest canal, he says, and you are only 40km from the western seaboard, and 50km from the northern and southern coasts. It is to this southern coast and Carnac in the Morbihan that we head now – our final destination. The name comes from its gulf, mor bihan, meaning petite mer. Known for its Neolithic menhirs and sloping sandy beaches, Carnac is a family-oriented rural seaside commune. It divides into three sectors, says Sebastien Kervarec, at Guy Hoquet Immobilier. Carnac campagne is a small property market with not much demand; Carnac bourg divides evenly between second homes and permanent residences; Carnac plage is over 90% holiday homes.

Expect to pay around e4,500 per square metre for an apartment in Carnac Plage. This can shoot up to e10,000 if you want to be right on the sea front. There are seaside villas, too, many dating from the 1930s and rather British, he says. Expect to pay around e400,000 for a 100m2 beach house. In Carnac Bourg, prices for the similar-sized 100m2 houses drop to around e300,000 with apartments priced between e3,000-e3,500/m2. Just to the east, on the west bank of one of southern Brittany’s loveliest rias (a drowned river valley remaining open to the sea), lies La Trinité-surMer, “the Mecca of sailing.” In the year-round busy town centre prices are around e4,000-€6000/m2. On the Pointe de Kervillen, second homes come in at around e500,000-e600,000 and your boat will have to come in if you want sea views – these properties can top the million euro mark.

28 Property Focus

The Connexion

February 2013

Property Watch

INSIDER VIEW Sylvie Neumann

What your money buys 100,000 to 200,000

Sylvie Neumann and husband Patrick raise sheep in the Parc Naturel Régional (PNR) de l’Armorique at Squiriou outside Brasparts in Finistère. He is from the Hautes-Pyrénées where he was a shepherd; Sylvie is “pure bretonne.” They moved to Brittany in 2005 to be nearer her ageing parents who live in Carhaix, home to July’s Festival des Vieilles Charrues (performers have included Bob

with the Breton lamb? “Notamment l’agneau en daube pyrénéenne…” For Patrick the difference is the climate: “Let’s just say it does rain a lot; and en plus we’re inland in the Monts d’Arrée – where it rains the most in Brittany,” he laughs. But the sheep get lots of good grazing. For Sylvie, the points forts are the landscapes, traditions, and the sea; half an hour away. In Brittany you are never far from the sea.

Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Sting). The couple farm organically and since 2012 have formed a partnership with the PNR to produce their lamb under a new Marque parc label. They raise Suffolk, Ilede-France, mouton Charollais and Grivette, an old French breed, supplying local organic shops, butchers, restaurants; customers can also buy directly from the farm. What regional dishes do they cook

Detached stone cottage in rural location with open views, Merléac The cottage has been entirely renovated throughout to provide a comfortable and cosy living space but still keeping the charm throughout. 136,250 Ref: 24506

Stone cottage in an quiet location, potential to enlarge, Saint-Aignan The main part of this cottage has been renovated to a high standard and at present has one bedroom, but there is enormous potential to extend. 158,050 Ref: 28031

300,000 to 400,000

INSIDER VIEW Sally Pitcher Sally Pitcher and partner Tom Hickey moved to a village just outside La RocheBernard in south-east Morbihan in 2005. They are both linguists – her languages are German with Dutch; his, French. They chose Brittany as Tom, who teaches business English in French companies and provides translation/interpreting support for fellow Brits (, liked “its Celtic roots”; and Morbihan in particular because they expected to have good weather. Their area has its own micro

climate thanks to the Atlantic Drift coming up the Golfe du Morbihan. There is a real sense of community; they have been accepted and made welcome. “I think being linguists made a difference because we could integrate much more quickly.” It is pretty, close to beaches and La Roche-Bernard itself is a lovely market town with a marina, says Sally. “I don’t want to move even 10km away from here; we just feel very comfortable, very settled, this is the right place for us.”

Detached three-bedroom house with views over the countryside, Malestroit At present the accommodation is all on the ground floor, making this house suitable for a family with any mobility issues. 318,860 Ref: 29764

Four-bedroom house with gite/annexe in quite hamlet. Perfect home, Thourie Spacious country dwelling ideal for families, the annexe/gite provides extra accommodation for visitors or an independent area for family members. 371,000 Ref: 21410

All properties available through Leggett Immobilier Tel: 05 53 56 62 54


-113&-0-)6 6)'69-81)28






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30 Directory


The Connexion

February 2013


Find an architect or surveyor in your local area Thanks to Archisurv, a group of English-speaking property professionals can now all be found on one website

Founders of Archisurv, Tim and Nick

LAST year, Tim Bowman, of Brittany Architectural Services, and Nick Warner, of Wellesley House Surveying, realised that it was not always easy for expats living in France to find an architect or a surveyor. With no existing website detailing relevant professional information, potential clients were left with no option but to trawl through expat directories, using sites that are difficult to navigate and, more often than not, not country-wide. But the duo have come up with a solution – – a site for a select group of architects and surveyors who live and work in France.

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“At present, the site mainly covers the north of France,” said Tim, “but discussions are at an advanced stage for additional areas and more members of the group to be included.” Anyone looking to find a surveyor, architect or drainage study in their chosen area can use the site, which will point them directly to a specialist who is fully registered and insured to work in France. “Initially, a client may ask a surveyor to provide a pre-purchase survey on a property,” said Nick, “and having received the report may find that the fosse (septic tank) needs attention or to be replaced. “A specialist report, called an etude de sol, will be needed, and this has to be submitted to the authorities in the form of an application that covers all the statutory requirements. “Archisurv has the people to do this.”


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tect can draw up plans and submit them to the Planning Authorities, with the appropriate application forms correctly completed. “If, after the plans are approved, the client needs full working drawings provided, the architect can also include these as part of his service,” added Tim. “This will become more important in 2013, when French norms are extended to insist that, on both new and major renovation projects, proper insulation factors must be included in the plans.” For more information about Archisurv – the one-stop-shop for clients looking to find a professional English speaking architect, surveyor or bureau d’etudes in their local area – visit the website.

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Clients thinking of carrying out their own renovation work would also be advised to consult an architect or surveyor, working in tandem with a professional. Whilst a surveyor will be able to advise on the structural and practical considerations – for example, load bearing walls or the best position of waste pipe plumbing – an archi-

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February 2013



Video clips aid customers in furniture selection Furniture for France has over 13 years' experience of supplying high quality furniture to customers all over France FURNITURE for France is now in its thirteenth year of supplying quality furniture to properties in France. The company specialises in providing clients with a customised service that offers good quality UK-sourced furniture, without the hassle of having to organise anything yourself. Furniture for France works with its customers from the initial enquiry through to installing the furniture in their homes. Offering advice on all aspects of a customer’s order, such as sofa coverings, wood finishes and delivery schedules, ensures they are kept informed every step of the way. “With 13 years’ experience and thousands of deliveries under our belts throughout France, we have encountered almost everything and put that to good use

when helping customers find the right furniture for their property,” said Brian Muir, the company’s managing director. Brian welcomes customers from all over France to the company’s showroom near Brive so they can see the large selection of furniture for themselves. Clients regularly make a two-day round trip to the showroom and stay locally overnight in order to view all the furniture and try out the wide range of sofas. “With so many options on styles, fabrics and finishes to consider, it really does pay to visit,” said Brian. This year will see the introduction of a further five new oak ranges, as well as the use of video clips on the website to aid potential customers in the furniture


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Directory 31

“With delivery costs starting at just £99, there really isn’t an easier way to furnish a property in France,” added Brian. Sofas have continued to be the best-selling individual item for the company. Loose-covered designs are always top of the list, with the introduction of complex fabric patterns and colours allowing customers to custom cover the sofa of their choice. Furniture for France offer delivery from just £99 “This process can take some time to work through, Brian added: “We will continue to but as the product has a life expectancy of introduce great ranges of furniture for delivover 15 years, it pays to get it right,” said ery to our customers in France without comBrian. promising on quality or service.” Furniture for France makes deliveries as far afield as Geneva and Nice, as well as 05 55 22 31 46 / 06 46 49 73 45 locally to customers in the Dordogne, the Lot, Charente and Limousin.

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32 Directory


Break bad habits using hypnotherapy TOO many people spend everyday worrying about life’s difficulties, often creating problems which have no factual or logical basis. They not only worry about current problems, such as how to pay the bills this month, but they also project their concerns into the future, focusing on all kinds of awful events that may never happen. In an attempt to ease their anxieties, people sometimes turn to alcohol, cigarettes or comfort eating, all of which can set in motion a whole new series of problems, including addictions and obesity. It is well known that anxiety is often the trigger to a bad habit – which only adds to the original problem, rather than solving it. Although some people may be able to stop

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0044 (0) 1782 90 80 70 0044 (0) 7939 123 345


1 Touche Gilbert 35610 SAINS


M. Glenys Forrester (B.Sc.Psych.) (M.Sc.Psych.) 05 53 50 07 28 05 53 91 45 18

Tel: 05 45 65 96 86 Mob: 06 61 90 04 92

gered their bad habits. Using NLP, you will learn how to teach your subconscious mind a new set of rules and a new way to react, changing the way you feel just by thinking differently. It will help you to become more confident and feel more in control of your life. Hypnosis is a totally natural state of mind. Under the influence, you will be aware of what is around you, where you are and why. It is simply an altered state of awareness, during which you are willingly giving yourself over to a deep state of relaxation where positive change can replace the negative in your thinking and bad habits can be overcome. For more information on hypnotherapy, contact M. Glenys Forrester.


Contact Nick CHUBB Tel: Email

+ 33 2 99 48 72 88 +33 6 20 28 71 44

February 2013


Many people spend their lives worrying about all of life's problems. This worrying can lead to anxiety, which in turn manifests itself into bad habits. Neuro Linguistic Programming, a form of hypnotherapy, can help combat these issues, says Glenys Forrester

UK & French Returns for Individuals and Small Businesses

The Connexion


- Samples brought to your home - From budget cord to top quality Axminster - 30 yrs. experience/Guaranteed results

05 55 73 63 16

Need To Sell Your French Reg Left Hand Drive Vehicle? WE BUY MOST CARS / 4X4’s TEL: 06 80 47 84 34 EMAIL: QVR@ALICEADSL.FR

Exclusive Jake Online Healthcare Auto Parts Your Helping Hand to the French Health System

+33 (0) 4 94 40 31 45

Auto and Motorcycle Parts Delivered Throughout Europe At Reasonable Prices


The Connexion

February 2013

Directory 33



Supplying Europe with economically priced vehicle parts Find yourself in need of quality vehicle equipment? Jake Online Auto Parts can offer a solution JAKE Online Auto Parts, which was founded in March 2011, is dedicated to bringing top quality vehicle and motorcycle parts – all at economical prices – to people throughout Europe. Those who have lived, worked or holidayed on the continent will know that there are often long distances between villages and main towns, so a vehicle of some kind is essential. If you happen to live in a village 40km away from the local shop and the car suddenly breaks down, it is a major hassle. Buying parts for your vehicle in France, Spain, Italy, and other European countries

Wanted UK/ RHD and French LHD Cars Buy, Sell or part ex Tel: 06 68 43 42 50 Email:

FLYING TO STANSTED? Don't pay airport prices! For car, van, MPV & Minibus hire contract ALLEY CAT CAR & VAN RENTAL

can be very expensive, so Jake Online Auto Parts are offering a less expensive, online solution. Once on the website, the process is very straightforward, with the ultimate aim being simplicity. All that a prospective client has to do is fill in the Part Request Form, explain what they need, and wait to be contacted with a price, which includes delivery, and an expected delivery date as soon as possible. Jake Online Auto Parts supply the equipment that wears out regularly, including alternators, starters, clutches, brake discs and pads, shoes and service kits. Not only that, the team will also seek out and supply more specialist parts when required. The service is open to both private individuals and trade sellers, who are invited to get in touch with requirements and

Kilrush Cars Ltd

A large selection of European

Left Hand Drive Cars

One owner - FSH - C.O.C Tel: 00 44 (0) 1252 782883 Landrover*MG* Rover*Jaguar* AustinMorris Parts Electronic Diagnostics & Gearbox Repairs


Tel: +44 (0)1279 436236

The Left Hand Drive Place

Whitney Road, Daneshill, Basingstoke, Hants Tel: +44 1256 461173 Fax: +44 1256 811541 Choose from 60 british or French registered LHD cars from £1,000 to £30,000. If we haven’t got what you want we can get it for you. LHD/ RHD cars taken in part exchange. French registered cars also bought for cash. Delivery anywhere in France.

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

Sand and Blast

Sandblasting service for Wood, Metal and Stone. Floor sanding service / hire available. Tel: 05 55 78 43 71 / 06 67 81 63 46 Areas: 87, 16, 24 Siret: 48852292100037


Traditional pressure treated five bar gates. All sizes and fittings from e100 - Delivery available Tel: 05 55 60 14 18 Siret 479 503 179 00018


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

Office: 05 63 59 85 16 Siret - 48003796900015 Email: Tel: 00 44 (0) 7909 448 535 0033 (0) 6 71 62 03 80

STAR SATELLITE British TV in France

BskyB Qualified - For All Your Satellite Needs

Tel: 05 53 80 63 93 Email: contact Web:

Regions: Dordogne and surrounding Departments Siret: 50196266600019

CAMDAMP LTD Terminate your timber problems Specialists in timber treatment in France

For more details telephone 0044 1223 425110 Region: All France

SKY, Free Sat, Free To Air

BOXES FROM e139, Installations from e389 NOW PROVIDING VIDEO AND AUDIO HOME MONITORING No Contract or Monitoring Fees!

+33 (0)5 62 66 08 25

Redcliffe are a reliable Bristol based Remover and Storer with weekly trips to Brittany & the Dordogne Credit crunch specials

Contact Andrew +44 (0) 7976 702 241


FULL OR PART LOADS Call 00 44(0)1253 725 414, email:

TOOWAY Superfast Broadband


Your one stop shop for help with anything throughout France! Administrative assistance Relocation services Property purchases And much much more....


For all your Mini Digger and Plant Requirements please contact us on our website



• Solar domestic hot water systems • Solar swimming pool systems • Wood boiler stoves • Plumbing services Tel : 05 53 63 43 87 / 06 06 41 08 85 Email : All depts covered Siret 50406233200011


experience in the trade between them. Jake Online Auto Parts do not always supply part requests. If, after consideration, it is better for the client to get independent specialist advice before buying, the team will always suggest that option. Their intention is to supply a simple, but comprehensive service to all their clients. For more information, visit the website.

Help in France

Supply & Installation of :

All that a prospective client has to do is fill in the Parts Request Form, explain what they need and wait to be contacted with a price, which includes delivery

await their response. Very detailed questions are asked on the Parts Request Form, which help eliminate the chance of supplying incorrect parts. It is not unusual for a manufacturer to re-source stock for a particular model half way through production, which is why the more information a prospective client can give, the better. In addition, everyone in the Parts Request Team is a qualified vehicle technician, and they have more then 30 years

French registered, English owned company

Tel 0033 (0)4 74 43 89 51 or 0033 (0)6 84 85 04 61

Jake Online Auto Parts offers its service to both private and trade buyers, clients and customers

Underfloor Heating

Electric, Ideal for Extensions/Renovations and New Builds. Supplied in full kits ready for installation Tiles, Stone or Wood/Laminate Floors Insulation Boards Full Quotations Chaleurosol SARL

Tel: 05 62911674 Email: Web:


Tel 05 55 78 72 98

CamiHomme Van + Man Collections. Deliveries. Removals Full or Part Load France. Europe. UK

+33 (0) 6 17 14 01 77 Beat any quote

Delivery and Removals Full or Part Loads

REALISTIC PRICES Call Steve: 05 49 97 11 25 Siret: 50323244900010A

Milen light Haulage Ltd.

Man, van service - Reliable ex-police UK-France-UK - Fully insured

Air Conditioning,Refrigeration EU Accredited.

* Maintenance * Servicing * Installation * Recharging

All types of systems.

Contact Philip Brown 05 53 83 47 51. Mob. 06 48 54 19 70. Email. Siret. 75 041196 900017

Depts. 47, 24, 33.

Tel: UK 0871 218 64 25 Fr: 05 55 71 73 87

George White European Transport Special rates to S/W France 13.6m/45ft trailer - Full/Part loads Removals/ materials/vehicles Owner driver. RHA member

Tel: +44 (0)7768 867 360 Fax: +44 (0)1773 570 090 Fr Mobile: +33 (0)6 23 03 85 59

Regions: All France - Siret: 502962772

Mobile Homes for Sale

Excellent range of new and ex rental mobile homes with prices from £2,995 + TVA. Ideal for living accommodation whilst renovating property or as a holiday home.

Carisma Holidays 00 44 (0) 1923 287 327


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

Tel: +44 (0) 1304 822 844 All France

34 Directory


The Connexion

February 2013


Managing property throughout France With Les Bons Voisins you can research, buy, alter, maintain, let or sell any property in France THE Les Bons Voisins Group was established in 2002 as the first national network of property managers. After more than ten years in business, it has gained a reputation as a group you can trust to look after your interests in France, after forging relationships with trusted professionals, whose proven expertise in all aspects of French property ownership can benefit clients. After starting in Brittany, LBV’s property managers now cover regions from Nord Pas de Calais to the Languedoc. With a “can-do” attitude, and a mission to ensure that property owners and potential



• Weekly Service • Full & Part Loads • Container Storage • BAR Members • On-line Quotation • Internet Shopping Deliveries

00 44 1722 414350 Company Regn No: UK 5186435 TVA / VAT No: UK 864 7217 04


Full & part loads Timings to suit you! Storage France & UK Removal boxes & Sundries Local surveys & clearance


owners have a one-stop shop solution to service their needs, the group is uniquely able to offer property services across a very broad spectrum – from buying or selling, to managing rental properties, advising on tax implications for property owners or assisting in acquiring planning permission. “Whether you are buying, selling, converting, renting or simply keeping a beautiful French home as a holiday destination, or indeed as a permanent residence, we can help you make the most of the experience,” said Sally Stone, founder of LBV. “Speak with any of our companies and you’ll find us helpful and supportive. With experience of helping clients after they have been badly advised, we are now intent on making sure that people find LBV first.” During hard economic times, Sally insists that it is important for clients to be able to

trust the people who work for them, and, quite rightly, demand value for money. “With the range of services the LBV group provide, and with a great reputation to maintain, our clients can relax in the knowledge that we will work hard on their behalf, whether we are translating a document or organising a new roof.” With over 50 years’ experience living and working in France, LBV’s directors are proud of their reputation, and will continue caring for those who care for France. For more information about the services LBV provide, visit the website, email or call directly.


Collection of hand-crafted mirror frames offering a new and unique direction in modern decorating style.

UK - FRANCE - UK Full and part loads You pack, we move, you save! 0044 (0)1327 264627 UK Email:

Full / Part Load - Modern Fleet Fully Insured - 30yrs Experience Covering all UK and Europe Contact Paul: +44 (0) 7977 473 498 Jeff: +44 (0) 7794 698 372 Mark: +44 (0) 7970 642 937 email:

UK-France Removals Honesty Punctuality Reliability Free, no obligation quotations l

l Email: Tel: 00 44 (0) 20 8501 2069

Full or part loads, 4 wks free storage, 30 Years experience Bar & Guild Member Contact: Anglo French Removals Tel: +44 (0) 1622 690 653 Email:

Removals & Storage Murray Harper

European transport & storage England, France, Spain Scheduled collection and delivery service guaranteed Established 30 years in the industry Tel: (0034) 952 793 422 or (0034) 952 807 692

Do you need new glasses? Go to

to order them online now

English Paint Delivered to France

Quality paint, style and service to make your home in France beautiful 0044 (0) 1422 845 262

Winter warmth with WOODWARM An efficient British stove that stays in overnight.

Tel. 04 68 47 05 44 or 06 04 14 51 57 Email: woodwarmstovesfrance@ Web:

Reg 0553 4834 Siret 502 961 840

Weekly services to & from France

Woodburning Stoves

Tel FR: 02 99 98 31 81 UK: 0208 144 3538

Moving to or from France?

+33 (0)2 96 24 74 27 www.propertymanagement

SIRET 513 896 308


Spex4less.Com High Quality Prescription Glasses Online Save Money On All Your Prescription Eyewear

Smoked or unsmoked dry cured back or streaky bacon from our free range pigs. English farmers and butchers in France Visit our online shop for details

Love to Knit?

05 55 97 95 66 06 45 51 34 58

Tel: 00 33 (0)5 40 20 02 98 Regions covered: All France

Chinese Tractor Parts

Mahindra/Lenar parts, service items, technical information. Advice for tractors and machinery Adrian Davidson 0044 (0) 1373 812 613

Love French Interiors Online Boutique

Quality wool English patterns

Siret: 498 673 839 00011 - Ad No. 18013

UK GROCERIES For all your favourite UK groceries shop at the well established

Villager, Hunter, Aarrow & Stratford Stoves Esse Cooking Ranges

Quality Stoves Delivered throughout France

French Reproduction Furniture

Hand crafted from mahogany

Based in Josselin 56

We also have fully customisable bespoke furniture Delivery throughout France

0044 (0) 84 52 41 67 48

Tel: 02 97 74 73 48

Les Bon Voisins offer help and support to those who own property in France

WOODBURNERS Ash Grove Stoves Supplier of Hunter - Parkway


Clean Burn - Fire Visible Boiler versions available Deliveries all over France Prices on our website Lowest Prices Guaranteed Tel: 00 44 (0) 1392 861579

Pork Pies, Pork Roasts, Hung Beef, Pies, Pastys, Turkey Crowns

02 33 51 33 72


Visit us in the Ariège at: Simply British 43 Rue des Chapeliers, 09000, Foix 05 61 64 98 89 Simply British 15 Rue du Pujol, 09200, St Girons 05 61 03 39 23

Shop online at: Deliveries throughout France and Europe

Furniture for France

A wide range of quality indoor furniture and sofas supplied and delivered direct to your French property saving you time and money. New showroom "Meubles New Ideas" near Brive(19) now open. For full colour brochure please e-mail or call 0033 (0) 6 46 49 73 45 or 0033 (0) 5 55 25 02 68


High Quality Greeting Cards 300+ Designs FREE DELIVERY in Europe

Siret: 538 583 60000019

Sausages, Bacon,

Large range of food - fresh and frozen, books, greetings cards and gifts.

Tel: 02 97 60 27 21

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasion Christmas Cards from e1.00 Free P&P available



*Award Winning Website* *Pay Securely Online* *Outstanding Service* Money Back Guarantee* * Many Exclusive Designs* *

English Cards in France

British Butcher

SéCURITéMARCHé.FR • Wireless alarms • Driveway alarms • Parking posts • CCTV • Personal alarms And many other security systems...

We have English technicians to help you find the system to suit your requirements:

Call us on…….

Tel: 02 96 35 41 69 Tel: 09 65 01 56 85


Holiday experience in SW France

To advertise here call freephone in France

0800 91 77 56 from UK

0844 256 9881

(4p/min) or email directory@

The Connexion

February 2013

Help with home or office PC offers on-site and remote support, providing bespoke solutions to your IT problems MARTIN, of SOStoolbox, is an IT professional with 30 years experience in IT customer support. Now resident in central Bretagne, he has spent the greater part of his career endeavouring to get his customers what they need – even when they don’t quite know what to ask for. “I can provide remote and on-site support, bridging the gaps between expectations, capabilities and possibilities,” said Martin. “For reasons of reliability, security and control, I tend to recommend open source solutions.” Examples of open source products include Google’s Android operating system used on phones and tablet computers. The most common open source operating system is Linux.

“Countless devices such as the Kindle and set-top boxes often have Linux inside, but as a brand it’s weak,” said Martin. Linux performs the same function as Windows. Applications are created by independent progammers (instead of corporations such as Microsoft and Apple) and include word processors, home cinemas and weather stations. Many of the apps are stable and secure, and a small sample can be seen on the toolbox at “Much of it is developed by the open source community, but the big names in IT also have a huge input,” said Martin. So, if it really is this brilliant, why isn’t everybody using it? “Largely commercial armtwisting.


ADVERTISING FEATURE “About 80% of the web as we see it is driven by Linux, but that’s not the desktop,” said Martin, who believes many PC users don’t know about Linux. “The desktop PC was always going to be a tough proposition – it’s so diverse and so is the user community.” Linux is less “vertical” than others. For example, a Mac uses hardware, an operating system and applications created by Apple. In contrast, the Linux operating system will run on any hardware and run applications made by third parties. “It’s more bespoke,” said Martin. “If you want that cerise satin lining it’s yours, but you need a good tailor. Linux is secure and costeffective.” By analysing your requirements, Martin can help set-up a complete system for your home or office. 09 66 40 09 87

Nice People In Normandy Planning Applications Project Management - Property Management 02 33 69 49 36 - 06 33 26 78 82 Siret: 48847516100011

UK trained Architect based in Nantes Registered in UK and France

Fluent in English

Tel : 06 32 35 44 52 Email: Siret: 531 696 706

Jim Davidson – ARCHITECT Ordre des Architectes Planning applications, new builds, extensions, feasibility studies & surveys

Tel : 02 43 04 02 40 Mob: 06 59 37 35 27 Email:

Chenil Les Mille Calins English Run

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

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


Wellesley House Surveying

Quality care for your pet

Plans Planning Permisions Mike Welby 0296875737

02 31 63 14 75

Hotel Biard

Small boarding Kennels and Cattery Individual, experienced attention for your pet Carantilly Tel 02 33 57 28 40

Siret : 489651976

Fabrick Dinan

Solving all your Building Needs Office in Dinan Centre

Tel: 02 96 39 27 67 BR E T ON B U I LD 02 97 38 57 61

SIRET No. 452 539 273 00014

St Malo, Dinard, Dinan


Mains Drainage Connections Septic Tank Installations Member of the ‘Charte de Qualité des Côtes d’Armor’ Digger and Driver up to 20 tonnes to hire Groundwork and all aspects of Masonry Paving, Decking, Gardening & Fencing References available

Bruno Bonnier Tel: 06 71 05 60 82 Email: Siret : 47942748600010

Siret: 519 572 135 00019

Brittany/Normandy/Loire - English Style Contact: Nick Warner Tel: (France) +33 (0)296 31 83 30 Email: Web page:

Regions 29/56/35/22 Made to measure wooden staircases

Tel: 02 56 33 50 11 Mob: 06 04 17 26 65 Email: Web:

Siret: 489 314 278 00032

Highly experienced English builder based in Orne All Renovation & Restoration works undertaken

Tel: 02 33 38 63 35 Mob:06 36 78 89 99 Tel: 06 28 36 83 33 Mob: 06 28 36 83 33

Siret: 492 349 931 00013

Call Carole on 02 97 34 70 44 email : Tel : 02 96 29 51 66 Mob: 06 30 24 55 29

Carpenter, roofer and general builder specialising in the renovation of traditional Breton Properties.


02 98 73 91 10 - 06 33 44 71 17

Breeder of Dutch Sheep, Ouissant sheep and Kune Kune Pigs

Newbuilds - Extentions - Repairs - Carpentry - Roofing

Registered and Based in Brittany

Property Surveys

MAN-of-STEEL Gates, Railings, Juliettes, General Fabrication,



Getting it right first time

Danish workmanship built to last

CHARLES HAIGH CONSTRUCTION Renovations - Extensions Alterations - Dry Lining Excavations - Fosse Septiques Covering Depts 22 & 29

Tel: 02 96 44 26 20 Email: Siret: 453 231 920 00019

Siret: 481 842 532 00014

Small established family run

Dog Grooming Salon All breeds catered for Based in Livarot Covering depts (14/61)

Ubuntu desktop and Qreator app showing QR code for SOStoolbox. Ubuntu will also soon be available on smart phones. For more information visit

Siret: 447 612 326 00010 Telephone 02 33 37 49 19 Emergency 02 33 38 41 32 Fax 02 33 38 44 16

The Trimming Room

Directory 35

SARL Steve & Wendy Foster Renovations

Electrical - Plumbing - Tiling Doors & Windows - Stud-walls Insulation Tel: 02 98 26 43 95 Mobile: 06 68 25 46 54 Email:



Design - Planning permissions Project management - All building types and sizes Tel: 02 96 21 23 67 Mob: 06 43 79 37 54 Email: Siret: 512004024300014

Building Renovation & Property Maintenance Covering all of Brittany Shaun Lake

Tel: 06 31 26 16 21 / 02 97 43 57 81 Web: Email: Siret no: 500405089

If your job is worth doing It's worth doing well ANDREW ALLEN - ARCHITECT

02 96 83 47 25


Installer of all types of sewerage systems, agent for BIOROCK. All groundworks undertaken. Tel: 02 96 26 22 56 Mobile: 06 11 18 22 19 Email:


Stuart Barker Plastering

Entreprise Bown Robert

Boarding l Insulation l Floors l Tiling Painting l Block Laying l Digger Works Tel: +33 (0) 2 98 93 87 43 Mobile: +33 (0) 6 23 67 84 17 Email:

All types of work, Exterior-Interior, New - Renovation-Repair. Tel/Fax: 02 97 51 10 11 - Mob: 06 38 34 20 78 Email: Siret: 424 531 069 00013

English Builder French Registered Brickwork & Paving Specialist Complete Private & Commercial renovations Selfbuilds Welcome Depts: 62, 80, 59 (Others considered) T: Mark Benford 03 21 73 78 67 E: Siret: 48994296100017


Re- Roof/Repairs, Roof Lights & Dormers undertaken

Contact Chris or Barbara Wood

Tel: 03 22 32 59 50 Siret: 502368103

Thistle Renovations Ltd

35 years experience:

Siret No.: 511 627 341 00015

ANDREW DANIELS Full & part renovations, Drives, Land clearance & Fosse Installation, Footings, Block laying, Digger & Dumper hire Tel Andrew: +33 (0) 679274563 Email: __________________________

TIMBER PRESERVATION Eradication of rot and woodboring insects 20 year product guarantee Tel: +33 (0) 679274563 Email: Siret 488081233

Jon Oram

Timber Treatment, Preventative & Remedial Woodworm & Dry Rot, Plastering, Pointing

Plastering l Rendering l Pointing l Limework l Tiling l Decorating l Renovation l Restoration All Aspects of Work Undertaken

Siret 503 281 438

Tel: 02 98 99 77 46 Mobile: 06 25 78 93 63 E-mail:

02 96 29 59 41

36 Directory


Manage your money the smart way

Mesnil Renovation Areas 14/50/61

Full / Part Renovations, carpentry, masonry, plastering, tiling, kitchens, replacement windows and doors. Tel. 02 31 09 26 54 Siret 48423125300010


Help & Repair Linux • MS • OsX

Tel: 09 66 40 09 87

English TV in your French Home Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy

IF YOU are an expat living in France, it’s a fair bet that at some point you are going to need to transfer some money overseas. Whether you are transferring currency for a property purchase or sale, moving pension funds, sending income or paying school fees, you need to be wary of the exchange rates and how they can change the value of your money. Fluctuations in currency pairings (such as pounds and euros) can make a massive difference to how much your money is worth from one country to another. This situation can change pretty dramatically over the course of just a few weeks, and anyone who wants to send money overseas

Crafts at Les Landes

would be well served to think strategically about what they are doing. “Some foreign exchange companies claim to offer the best rates on currency transfers, stating that they provide protection, but clients often find themselves locked into an exchange rate which does not allow them to benefit if that rate subsequently improves,” said Elisabeth Dobson, head of private clients at foreign exchange company, World First. “We can find people the very best spot rates – that is the rate to transfer your funds immediately – or we can secure or fix their exchange rate by using what is known as a forward contract.” By using an FSA authorised foreign exchange company like World First, you can set a rate now for a transaction happening up to three years in the future – so there are no nasty surprises on the day you buy your dream home abroad. Whether you are buying property abroad to retire or want an overseas investment

property, a company like World First can make sure that an international money transfer happens in the most efficient way possible. “We can transfer your money from your bank account at home to an overseas account and we can convert from and to virtually any currency,” added Elisabeth. “And if you’re selling, we can bring your money home quickly and safely, using our own overseas accounts if appropriate.” Employing a specialist foreign exchange company is becoming increasingly popular and French expats, amongst others, are reporting significant savings. Anyone who is involved in making a substantial overseas money transfer of any kind would be advised to look into their options before making the payment; the savings could be substantial.


Tree Surgeon



+44 (0)20 7801 1050

Spinning and other crafts. Half, Full day tuition or residential B&B tel: 00 33 (0)2 33 960904

Home l Car l Health l Business l Banking

Qualified, Insured, Equipped Stump grinder and Woodchipper

SIRET No 489 459 438 00011

Julie Guibert


English-French Translator Official and standard translations +33 6 71 01 29 95/+33 2 40 20 22 12

Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice

02 97 60 08 23 Locminé, Morbihan 56500



We insure UK registered cars ENGLISH SPOKEN (call Angeline) - 02 33 49 12 34


02 97 74 24 56

February 2013


World First offer you the best rates when transferring your money abroad

World First advise you to think strategically before sending money overseas

The Connexion

Stuart Lee

02 99 68 43 46

Highest Quality Handmade Sheds

Outbuildings, Animal Houses, All Garden Fur niture Made to your specifications 02 97 70 42 02 06 04 16 58 05

Landscape Gardener (est 1994)

*Maintenance *Hard Landscaping *Mini digger work Tel: 02 33 90 92 28 Mob: 06 68 74 83 41 Siret: 495 098 428 000 16

Rod Reeves

Mobile PC repairs


Mobile: 06 28 11 31 60 Evening: 02 96 13 14 48

35yrs Experience - No Job Too Small Quotations on request. Tel: 02 31 09 13 17 Mobile: 06 26 95 68 21

Contact Paul - Operating Dept22 Radius 30km Corlay

Siret: 48101774700025

Chateau de Cravial An historic backdrop on which to

Prestige Painting & Decorating Services

JS Menuiserie John Shipton - 02 14 16 14 47


All kinds of handmade furniture and carpentry work. From door fittings to kitchens.

email: siret 499 313 658

Stuart Upton Carpentry & Roofing Full 10 year Insurance Backed Guarantee Tel: 02 33 64 89 28 / 06 06 43 52 28 Email: Regions Covered 61, 14, 50 Siret 48036552700013

Every aspect of Decorating, Interior & Exterior, Wall Papering, Tiling, Sealants Work, Power Washing, Wood Treatments

project your dreams

Call: Linda 02 97 39 12 52 Email:

Contact Adrian or Lena Baker

Property for sale in Brittany

Mob: 06 58 04 51 46

Tel: 02 97 67 17 93 Mob: 06 27 14 51 14

Tel: 02 96 83 97 49 Siret 51442634500013

Jeremy Nelson Decorators

Painting, Decorating, Plastering and Garden Maintenance. Prompt and professional. Based in St. Germain de Tallevende (14).

Tel: 02 31 69 26 04 Mob: 06 02 39 83 62 email:

Buying / Selling property in Morbihan Translation - Negotiation - Advertising Currency Exchange

LHERSONNEAU Immobilier Experienced Bilingual Negociator Buying/Selling your Property in South Sarthe Region

Tel: 06 77 38 56 81 Siret: 38533761300041

Agnes Crompton-Roberts

Avocat, experienced in the handling of most Anglo-French legal issues Email: Tel: +33 (0)9 62 33 58 84

The Private Dining Room

Supperclub in Normandy International food 4 times per year Meet new people

LE BREWERY Art is an Ale

Great pubs! Le Famous Knight 53250 Couptrain

Le Secret Knight 61700 Champsecret


Mobile Hairdresser

Huelgoat and its surrounding areas Discounts available for group bookings

02 98 99 90 51 - 06 66 38 31 11 Email:

Great beer!

Tel: 02 33 37 77 26


PC & Mac Computer Engineer From teething troubles to total trauma We Can Help! Tel: 02 98 71 14 91 / 06 32 30 70 54 Email: Siret: 489 684 696 00011


Traductrice Assermentée SWORN TRANSLATOR

Legal - Property - Birth Certificates - Driving Licenses

Tel: 02 99 20 26 86 Mobile: 06 89 89 75 81


English registered cars House insurance - Health cover 1800 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 Dinan, Brittany

Ian Torode Servicing / repairs for most makes of vehicle / garden machinery. Car Help - Advice - Parts. Web: e-mail: Tel: 02 56 22 90 12

The Connexion

February 2013

Le Tour de Finance returns for 2013 Do you have questions about healthcare, taxes, money management, holiday letting or currency savings? You can find answers on these and other topics at the No. 1 Expat Event which will be visiting a city near you in March and April 2013. Le Tour de Finance is the financial forum for British expats which will help you with a range of different financial products and services. The aim of the tour is to bring the experts to expats in France, in order to help them live easier in France by providing up to date information. The seminars presented throughout each event will cover essential information about which

Lyon Cannes Marseille Narbonne Pau

every British expat living in France needs to know. Tax, pensions, mortgages, healthcare, financial advice and making the most of your assets, currency transfers and holiday lettings are just some of the subjects that expats will learn more about during the tour. Le Tour de Finance offers an ideal opportunity to find answers to the most pressing questions facing British people living in France and to meet others in your neighbourhood over the free buffet lunch which is offered following the seminars. Each tour day will commence at 9:30 with a welcome coffee. Guests will then be shown into a conference


Professional Service Easy Payment Facility Vehicle Repairs - Pre-MOT Mechanical - Sales -Servicing ZAC Les Tuileries, 27260 Cormeilles

Tel: 02 32 42 05 62 Email:

Rhone-Alpes Alpes Maritimes Provence Languedoc-Roussillon Aquitaine

08 Apr 2013 09 Apr 2013 10 Apr 2013 11 Apr 2013 12 Apr 2013

02 33 14 09 55 06 75 14 83 74 Siret: 494799968


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

CHIMNEY SWEEP Expert Professional Service. Registered and Insured. Certificat de Ramonage issued

Black Cat Services 02 33 50 84 91 Email: Depts: 50, 14, 61

Multitask Property Services Property Maintenance Service No job too small

Tel: 0667141105 Email: Siret: 41111650200039

eco-nett Home Services


Tel: 06 04 49 83 70 email: website: SIRET 528 090 152 00018

Aquitaine Poitou-Charentes Brittany Normandy Ile-de-France Boutique cat and dog hotel

Home from Home 3km from Beziers.

English: John 04 67 36 63 38 French: Ian 06 81 16 39 30

Brittany, Loire Atlantique, Vendée Tel:+33(0)253780040 Mobile:+33(0)635162498 email:

Tel: 02 33 91 69 29 Email:

Bordeaux Niort Rennes Caen Paris

Key Holding - Security Maintenance Bilingual 24/7 Assistance

Chris Hutt

Chimney Sweep Woodstove Installer Property Management

room and be presented with short 10-15 minutes seminars from experts coming from a large range of different fields. Each seminar will provide useful information about which guests will be able to ask the experts themselves for more detail during the free buffet lunch after each seminar. Over lunch you will also have time to mingle with other attendees and a lucky prize draw winner will be presented with a voucher for £150 to spend at British Corner Shop. The day will end at approximately 2:30pm, with questions answered and contacts made for all attendees. Register at or email for more information.

LP Property Management

English Tv Installation and Repairs Super Fast Broadband for everyone

Kitchens & Furniture

Your architect in Languedoc Roussillon Design permits and plans for new builds and renovations

04 68 20 04 31 Areas: 14 , 50 , 61 Siret: 5026366000018

Tel: 02 97 23 42 15 or English: 06 71 78 71 74 Email: Siret: 417535572

Fabrick Dinan

Siret: 51271440300015

Pete's Roofing Covering the Gard

04 66 72 75 84 Siret No: 50066265500017


Artisan Builder - All Renovation Works Pool Installation/Security - Aude Tel: 06 37 64 40 58 Email: Siret 48515658200028

Ward Building Services Renovation to Decoration Extensions, Kitchens, Bathrooms, tiling, stonework, Patios, terraces. Free estimates Tel: Mike 04 68 24 45 05 / 06 33 28 48 72 Email: Siret: 50400085200013

Septic Tank Installations Including Pre-installation Surveys Based Dinan Centre

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

02 96 27 16 53

Don’t miss an edition Subscribe to The Connexion from e33 a year, visit:

Tel +33 (0) 4 68 77 05 96 Email:


SATISFYING CUSTOMER NEEDS in Joinery and Building works since 1980. MIni Digger available.

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

UK Architect, Design, Dossiers for Planning Applications and Project Management. Based in the Aude and Herault. Tel 04 67 89 57 64


Paul Hockings

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

(Provence - Alpes - Cote d’Azur)

Plumbing Heating & Sanitary - Renewable Energy - Electricity Security Checks Rewiring - Quotes in English


Sam Stokes - 06 14 38 10 29

Cedric Mitchell Architecte Tel: 00377 93 25 42 68 France Tel: 0044(0) 1243 773166 UK Mobile: 07703 525050 R.I.B.A. / ORDRE DES ARCHITECTES

TEL: 02 31 67 76 90

Contact Anthony Main 0033 (0)468 783 696 email: Siret 4846 8735 500012

Le Palais des Chats Exclusive hotel for cats 35 minutes from Perpignan Collection/delivery available Carol and Stuart Metcalfe

04 68 96 40 80 Email: Website:


04 68 98 03 24

Villasophie 02 98 81 12 41



Dept 66 / 11

Ad No. 18809

Guided walks in English


Roofing, Scaffolding Heavy Structural Building

Siret: 497 736 272

Discover the Monts d'Arrée in all their beauty!

Project Management

Registered Insured New Builds, Renovation Building Permits Authorisation Insurance claims Negotiation & Support

DeVille Property Services Barn & attic conversion specialists. We undertake all aspects of renovation & improvement projects. We legally employ English speaking staff & do not sub-contract. Full 10 year insurance backed guarantee.

Directory 37


See the full list of Le Tour de Finance 2013 venues and dates below, which stop is nearest to you?

18 Mar 2013 19 Mar 2013 20 Mar 2013 21 Mar 2013 22 Mar 2013




Tel. 06 72 42 07 04 DEPT 66 Siret: 494 683 931 00021

COMPUTER SUPPORT AND HELPDESK Tel: 06 79 99 75 20 Email: Covering AUDE and all Departments within 100 km of CARCASSONNE. Siret :489 920 124 00018

38 Directory

05-SOUTH WEST Garden creation and maintenance

design, construction, planting Gardener with RHS Diploma

0614620205 Siret 450 061 726 00011 - Regions 09, 11, 31


We are an English Estate Agency with buyers looking to buy in the Pézenas and Narbonne areas


Anything You Want! 04 68 94 28 64 or 06 73 95 92 57 Siret No: 497 605 550 00019

Sky, Freesat & French TV

Area 34 only

Contact Details Michael Murray 0467775894/0671526193


Smithy’s Ferronnerie

Metalwork & Welding - Gates Balconies Handrails - Fences Staircases - Pergolas

Sky In France

All interior, Exterior woodwork References, Portfolio available


Psychotherapy & Art Therapy Explore yourself

Debra Rogers 06 31 23 33 43 US licensed Near Pezenas 20 years experience

Alexander Technique relieve pain and learn how to move with freedom and ease UK certified

Wendy McKnight - 06 38 88 27 79

Supplied & Fully Installed

Office: 05 63 59 85 16 Please see our main advert in the Connexion

The Connexion

Kennels and Cattery English owned Le Chenil des Lauriers Villeneuve sur Lot (47) A real home from home for your pets when you cannot be with them Tel: 05 53 70 51 78 Siret: 478 623 944 00013


British owned boarding kennels and cattery 35 years experience Tel: 05 65 35 46 51

Dept 46, near Cazals

SIRET: 500607858

Tel: 04 67 77 19 06

Digi TV Solutions Installation of UK and French TV, and broadband via satellite. We also install home cinema and surround sound systems. Specialist in gites and hotel multipoint systems.

The Dordogne and adjacent departments email:

Dossiers Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables Tel/Fax: 05 53 52 36 05 Email:

Knitting Yarns, Accessories, Fleeces For Spinning Siret 529 235 053

Language services at reasonable rates for individual & business clients Email: Tel: +33 (0) 9 61 22 37 41 Siret No: 501 541 031 00016


Pre-purchase & Structual Surveys. Verbal & written reports. Structual calculations & drawings. Redevelopment ideas & solutions.

FAB Property Management

Efficient, Reliable Changeover and Maintenance Service

Tim Haw B.Eng C.Eng. M.I.Struct.E Tel: 05 53 56 72 59 Email:

Visit our website Contact Adele / Iain Tel: 06 43 54 46 91 email:

Siret: 49884305100018



Domestic and Commercial Cleaning You'll be swept away by our service!

Eddie Acford BSc CEng MIStructE Depts. 32 - 64 - 40

Call Angie

06 34 64 22 70 or 04 34 10 29 06 email: LANGUEDOC ELECTRICIAN

Graham Fox – Fully Qualified 25+ Years Experience Friendly, Informative Reliable High Professional Standard E-mail: Tel/Fax: 04 68 45 46 28 - Mob: 06 67 55 30 29 Depts: 11, 34 - Siret: 49443828600010


Save up to 25 %


on Septic Tank installation

email: Tel: (0033) (0) 562 083889 Mob: 0673 065907

For all drainage problems call James Southern

Tel: 04 68 32 06 17 Email:

Siret No: 0081030B01

Drain Clear

PARKES + Ducellier Architects

Camera inspection & high pressure jetting Covering (66) Mob: 06 43 22 86 15 - Tel: 04 68 51 80 46

French and British Registered Architects & Designers Dossiers for Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables Interior & Landscape Design

Interior & Exterior Drain Clearance

Siret: 479 317 620 00025

Looking for a property?

Let us search for you And save money Contact Susannah on

Tel: 04 67 24 31 42 Mob: 06 52 75 24 45


Drawing Service Siret: 493 770 358 00015

Siret: 503480675 00019

Sworn Translator Interpreter


Tel: 04 68 27 10 51

Sarah Wafflard

ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES Small or large projects. Applications for building permits. Friendly,professional service.

Tel: 05 45 78 36 63

C O R N U C O P I A Professional drawings, plans, elevations or perspective views for your building projects.

05 62 28 99 10 : depts 32 & 47

33580 Monségur - 24590 Salignac-Eyvigues

See website for more details at www. or contact Martin Hauxwell on +33 (0) 9 77 81 80 37

Subscribe to our free newsletter sent to your inbox every Friday lunchtime. Subscribe at:

Justine Joseph

meets in Florensac 2nd Thursday each month. All nationalities welcome

Property Surveys and Comprehensive Project Management Service provided by French-registered, English Chartered Surveyor.

Siret: 48157998500021

Renovation Architect 06 79 92 95 88 Women’s International Club Mediterranée

February 2013

Les Jours Heureux 66

For all things Property in Dept 66! Property Sales Management & Holiday Rentals All year round maintenance service Visit the website:

and contact me: Ruby Laura Goold 06 38 73 15 62



The Cats Inn Luxury Cattery - Cales near Lalinde - Very Spacious - Lots of Love and Attention Tel: Paula 05 53 24 14 42 Siret No.520 980 269 00010

Ordre des Architectes No. 1867

Tel: 05 53 09 33 45 Fax : 05 53 09 36 12 E: W: Depts: 16,19,24,33,87 Siret: 488 165 564 00011


Planning Permissions - Setting Out - Measured Building Surveys - Topographical Surveys (all sizes)

Mob: 06 33 94 84 53 - Tel: 05 65 31 98 11 Siret 51786170400016

Hopkins Renovations

General building work. 20 years building experience in France. Based in Castelnaud de Gratecambe 47.

05 53 36 34 59/ 06 08 71 53 49 Siret number: 417 916 574 00011


Plastering, Boarding, Concreting, Pointing 40 years experience references available

Tel: 05 53 82 48 90 Bergerac Renovation & Building From groundwork, fosse septiques, masonary, interiors, to rooves. Free estimates & advice Tel: 05 53 81 60 73


Renovation and construction of buildings and swimming pools. New timber framed constructions. Negotiation of diverse products

Tel Alan Fisk: 05 53 56 68 87



Renovation Specialist

Kitchens l Bathrooms l Tiling Swimming Pools l Extensions Carpentry l Roofing l Plastering Project Manager for 25 years Call Richard Cox (BSc Hons)

06 60 80 34 34

Decennale Assurance Email: Web: Siret. 481 659 431

SMALL BUILDING WORKS Repointing, Stonework, Stone Walling, Window Installation, Terrace works, Plasterboarding, Insulation, DPC Installation Email: Tel: 06 43 25 85 68

LOCKES GROUNDWORKS & LANDSCAPING Building Renovation Digger / Driver Hire, Fosse Septiques, Excavations & Driveways Tel: 05 53 79 77 61 or 06 89 27 11 83 Email: Website:

The Connexion

February 2013

McGregor Renovation


Professional and Reliable

Complete Renovation Service Building, Joinery, Roofing, Plumbing, Electrical, Kitchens & Bathrooms

Building & Renovation

Tel: 05 46 58 77 70 Mob: 06 35 94 71 07 Depts: 17, 16 & 79

English Speaking Builder 20 + years experience, Free Estimates, Drylining, Plumbing, Tiling, Painting, General Building work

Tel: 05 55 28 33 30 Email: Regions 19, 15 siret: 537509614



Hopkins Renovations

General building work. 20 years building experience in France. Based in Castelnaud de Gratecambe 47.

05 53 36 34 59/ 06 08 71 53 49

Traditional or Modern Interior or Exterior Experienced, Reliable & Friendly Service siret:47935547100026 - Ass.Decennale depts 16, 17, 79


Renovation - New Build UPC, Wood & Aluminium Windows - Sand Blasting. Plastering - Fosse septic Roofing - Guttering Maintenance & Repairs

Phone Steven or Didier

Renovation Services NE24 & bordering 87,19 & 46

Charles Fleming 0553501239 or 0684530839

Professional management of renovations, new builds and design.

My role is to present to you with the house of your dreams, within budget, legal and on schedule. Tel: +33 (0) 6 16 95 48 49


CONSTRUCTION The International Construction Company that specialises in renovation. With our inhouse team of bi-lingual architects, designers and qualified trades, we follow your dreams from A-Z Dept 40 & 64

• Conception / Plans • Masonery • Plastering / Painting • Tiling • Septic Tanks and Drainage • Demolition works • Construction • Renovation T. 05 58 55 35 22 M. 06 03 18 53 31

Paul's Info

Information Negotiation with French Organisations Settling in Services and Translation needs taken care - 24/47

Tel: 06 71 69 92 61

Need help with language lessons, interpreting, translation, phone calls or accompanied visits?

Pas de Problème! Depts: 32 & 65

T: 06 34 96 94 56 - Website:

Wide boards

Contact us for special offers


Carpentry & Building All aspects of carpentry, attic conversions, kitchen and bathroom renovations. Flooring, bespoke shutters, stairs, built-ins. Full interior design service also available.

Areas 24, 19, 46

Tel: 05 53 51 39 94 Siret: 519 174 692 00011

Vezere Counselling

Kennedy Electricite Services

Installation, rewires and repairs. 20+ years experience. Fully insured. Contact Justin or Melissa Kennedy. Tel: 05 55 56 37 36 Email:

Regions 87/24/16/23/19

Siret 503 417 04000014

Brian Macey - Electrician maintenance, breakdowns, renovations, rewires, new build, interior & exterior 30 years experience

Tel: 05 55 97 18 10



Tel 06 32 31 61 85 siret: 494 064 322 00014

Aveyron & Surrounding Areas Electrical and plumbing installations and repairs Fully registered Supplier of 16mm Hep20 water & heating pipe work and fittings. Tel: 05 65 29 49 25

Email: Siret 477 655 542

Regions: All France Siret: 419 490 297 00027

Siret 503 931 388 00014

Chris Bassett Construction All building works undertaken l

Mark Morris Joiner Parquet, Kitchens, Decking, Shutters, Windows & Doors etc - Free Estimates

Tel. 06 46 75 07 76 Email.

Learn French with confidence in the Dordogne (24) Experienced teachers and native speakers

ELECTRICIAN Experienced & French Registered. Tel: 05 53 50 04 68

Tel: 05 46 86 07 61 Email:

French Teacher / French Lessons and secretarial services, assistance with administrative problems.

Nathalie Goffin Le Bourg Haut, 24 520 St-Agne

05 53 57 37 75


Contact Alison or Yannick Tel : 05 55 17 60 00 Email: Web site:

Tel: 05 62 67 39 98

Tel: 05 53 57 13 35 Email:

Siret: 489 542 589 00010

AK Electrical

Call Tony Hull C.A.S.A Registered Agent with HMRC.

Business accountancy, tax, payroll and legal services

30 years experience/Fully insured

affordable, high-performance website that you can edit yourself

Tax returns submitted on line. Double taxation relief

Registered Chartered Accountants

For all your electrical requirements contact

WEBSITES Boost your business with an



Siret: 53445895500018

Siret 520 298 217 00016

To advertise on these pages call: 0800 91 77 56 (free from French landline) or from UK 0844 256 9881 (4p/min)

Tel: 06 37 09 55 13 Website: Email:

Tel: 06 06 43 35 39

Regions Covered 24,16,87 - Siret: 51913926500010

Contact Alain: 05 53 92 50 00 Email:

Underfloor Heating/ Aerothermie Premiere service guaranteed St Yrieux / Brive / Perigueux / Sarlat

Gill Clunes Ross - Dip social work. RGN Tel: 05 53 51 63 69 or 09 51 80 97 38

Repointing, Plasterboarding, windows, doors installed. Translations, planning permissions. Tel: 06 43 25 85 68 or 05 53 56 19 86 Email:

- Business set up and registration - Business accountancy - Income tax, Wealth tax - Payroll and legal services


New fuse boards - 3-phase balancing Earth safety test - All electrical work -big or small Depts 32 & 65


Registered Chartered Accountants

Flexible Affordable Assistance IN ENGLISH with your personal and business paperwork/ administration Jane Golding - Email: Tel: 05 46 32 57 53

Siret: 517 566 196 00013 Regions Covered: 19,24,87

Help with Stress - Anxiety - Depression - Life Changes

Experienced Mental Health Worker

SAPEG expertise et conseil

Siret: 477 721 344 00018

Large stocks available Prime & Character grades Oiled & waxed finishes

Tel: 05 53 62 81 40 Email: Web:

Regions Covered 31,32,40,64,65

Siret 539 483 479 00017


Interior and Exterior Cherrypicker assisted for speedy and cost saving service

Contact P.S.Deighton Tel: 05 59 81 43 50 06 75 96 28 32

Tel: 05 49 16 12 48 Mob: 06 23 52 91 56

Siret: 47918475600019

Painter and Decorator

25 years experience

Specialising in stone, brick and block work.

Tel: 05 63 40 13 55 Email:

Small Building Works


Renovation l New Build l Garden walls Patios l Groundworks.

Dept: 81,82,31,47

Siret 409 972 056

Siret: 50114963700016 - Ad No. 16825


Bespoke, handmade furniture, kitchens and joinery of the highest quality and distinction

Siret: 49899034000016

Tel: 05 53 56 27 58 - Mob: 06 79 64 71 06

Hautefort Renovation Professional Building &

Established 25 years email: tel: 06 80 33 93 57

Don’t miss an edition Subscribe to The Connexion from e33 a year, visit:

Planning Consents, Project Management, Fosse Septic (Dossier & Co-ordination), Competitive Rates.


All aspects of building work carried out. Fully Insured - Assurance décennale Tel: 06 79 05 98 85 / 05 53 58 92 13 Email: Web: Depts: 24, 46 & 47

Siret number: 417 916 574 00011

Directory 39


Available for all types of electrical work. Insured and guaranteed. Areas: 16,17,24,47 Siret No. 49376573200015

Siret: 51203581700018

Chez Kevin

Traditional French Cuisine Theme Nights & Large Beer Garden at Rear & Petanque

Tel: 05 55 71 34 22 Email:


Property Maintenance - Pools & Gardens Changeovers - Keyholding

N. Dordogne

Tel: + 33 (0)5 24 17 60 29 Siret: 52841725600013

T ip T op

Garden & Property Services Garden Maintenance Hedge Trimming - Strimming Groundworks / Diggerworks General Property Maintenance Property checks/Keyholding Photo updates Contact Barry On Tel: 05 53 29 03 52 Mobile: 06 24 07 31 14 E: Dept 24 - Radius 50 kms Sarlat Siret: 49372365400015

40 Directory l‘Ecrin de Verdure

A Garden Design and Build Company “Full service” from sketch schemes to finished garden with integrated systems (lighting/watering/mowing)

24 Sarlat - 33 Monségur - 47 Duras

UK 06 79 92 95 88 FR 06 42 85 53 60

PISCINE PLUS Established in France for over 19 years


Tel: 05 65 37 79 64 CHRISTAL POOLS Plant Nursery le Lac des Joncs

Unusual hardy perennials, ornamental grasses, hemerocallis Ivy, hosta, succulents

Tel: 05 53 46 78 18 - 06 84 83 70 38 24580 Rouffignac - St Cernin Email:

IN DEEP PISCINES Maintenance, leak detection, servicing, repairs

Tel: 05 53 22 79 18 / 06 84 68 84 92 Web: Email:

Regions: 24, 33, 46, 47, 82 - Siret: 504 576 802 00038

GARDEN SERVICES Creation, Garden Maintenance, Tree Surgery, Felling Property Services

Tel. 05 65 34 09 91

Working dept: south 19, 46


Depts: 47, 46, 82, 32, 24 SIRET: 50252222000024

Richard Leadbetter Tree Surgeon

Qualified, Insured, over 25 Years Experience

Tel: 05 62 35 45 26


Siret: 480 223 387

or write to HEARING ASSESSMENT CENTRE 4, North Lodge, 17 Wesley Avenue, London, E16 1TD

Regions: Depts 31,32,64,65

Prêt à Plonger Piscine installation, repairs & maintenance. Bespoke pools, no project too big or small.

Complete package including groundwork, terracing/decking and pool security.

Simon & Julia Holt 0619 071121 or 0553 620152 or Julia: 06 32 10 39 92 Siret: 49397835700017

All aspects of tree work undertaken Professional service with over 15 yrs exp Realistic prices Depts 87, 23, 19, 24, 46, 15 & 63

Tel: Kevin on 05 55 95 32 56 E: Siret: 515 155 471 00011

Jardins du Périgord - Design - Creation - Garden management

High quality work by qualified gardeners

Concrete pools, GRP/Stone liners. No expensive over design, expertly constructed 05 53 91 45 18

Nature and Jardins

Garden design Soft and hard landscaping Garden maintenance Hugues Mercier Tel: 06 75 49 59 91

Email: Depts: 32, 31, 82, 65

Albi / Toulouse Email:

06 01 21 08 52


Tel: 06 23 74 36 41

For all UK and French TV requirements Satellite internet installation available

Plumbing & Renovations

Kitchens / Bathrooms designed and installed. Plastering, Plasterboarding, Tiling. Reliable, experienced, professional tradesman. Tel: 05 55 28 05 56 Region: Limousin, Auvergne, Lot, 24 - Siret: 489 141 275 00011


(city & guilds) 35 years experience. Bathrooms, kitchens, central heating. Based St Foy le Grande.

Depts. 24, 33. Tel: 05 53 57 00 16 - Mob: 06 61 53 13 50 Email: Siret:4974 1837 200019



Energy Renewables, Central Heating, Bathrooms & All Plumbing works Tel: 05 53 58 67 19 / 06 86 14 38 15 Email:

G. W.

Makeovers & Design English Kitchens/ Bathrooms/appliances direct from UK manufacturers Full range of French kitchens supplied Free design/planning service Installations/Makeovers/ Installations Only/Tiling Granite and Stone worksurfaces available

Areas: 24 33 47 Call 05 53 58 09 32 or 06 58 92 09 97 siret: 510 011 554 00019

Hammer, auger, dumper, roller etc available Sarlat, Gourdon and Souillac areas

SARL Maxima

Tel April on 0631110202 or 0553312115 see rates at Everything Dordogne Seeking Holiday Rentals for Australian Travellers

05 45 62 27 20

Charente Limousine Exchange

Affordable Advertising for Property Owners Working in Partnership with Australian based business’ Now Listing Properties for Sale


We do not only sell & install We also repair digiboxes NOW!! All freesat systems available WITHOUT CARD

For more information call 00 33 (0)5 45 98 25 37 FINNINGER & HELBACH Gmbh Le Petit Fouine, 16210 Curac Tel/Fax: 00 33 (0)5 45 98 25 37 email: Siret: 400 415 246 00026

Sand and Blast

www.weddingphotographer Please visit my website for details

Tel 05 53 62 07 02

Experienced Handyman Small Renovations, Kitchens, Bathrooms, Tiling, Painting, 2nd Home Maintenance.

06 29 27 08 26 Siret: 750 882 847 00015 - Regions Covered: Dep 16, 17

Just Kitchens

Individually designed German made kitchens Professionally installed Competitively priced Email: Tel: 05 62 58 03 64 32170 MIELAN

Ironwood Motif Wrought Iron Work

Staircases, pergolas, gates etc. Interior / exterior ironwork made to measure Tel: 05 65 30 53 99 Email: Web: Regions: 46 - Siret 48119863800019

BskyB Qualified - For All Your Satellite Needs

Siret. 75 041196 900017

Lydia Taylor-Jones

Siret : 531 364

* Maintenance * Servicing * Installation * Recharging

All types of systems.

Wedding Photography in The Dordogne Professional Award Winning Photographer

Tel: 05 65 36 22 13 Email:


Contact Philip Brown 05 53 83 47 51. Mob. 06 48 54 19 70. Email.


Oak beams, joists, flooring, terracotta floor tiles and slate flooring etc for sale

Air Conditioning,Refrigeration EU Accredited.

Voluntary association organising seminars, social activities and language lessons for Francophiles

Subscribe to our free newsletter sent to your inbox every Friday lunchtime. Subscribe at:

Mini digger hire from 100 Euros per day HT

Siret no. 498 524 032 00022

Electronic Diagnostics & Gearbox Repairs


Siret: 48443232300018

Areas: 87, 16, 24 Siret: 488 229 210 0037

Landrover*MG* Rover*Jaguar* Austin-Morris Parts


Established: 2000

Tel: 05 53 06 08 65 Mob: 06 70 74 06 07

Tel: 05 55 78 43 71 / 06 67 81 63 46

Working in dept: 16, 17, 24, 87 Siret: 48930027700014

in the Tarn EVERY SUNDAY: 11AM at BRENS CHURCH, Gaillac Info: 05 63 33 12 76

Bob Freeman

Sandblasting service for Wood, Metal and Stone.

Tel: 05 45 65 96 86 Mob: 06 61 90 04 92


February 2013

English/French Speaking Plumber In Bordeaux, Dylan 33, Bathrooms, Kitchens, Heating, 20 Years Experience

Depts: 24, 47, 33 - Siret 51021272300017

British trained & qualified tree surgeon All tree work undertaken.

siret : 48293447800017

St Pool Piscines

Advanced Health Solutions Testing for allergies - hormonal - toxicity also help offered for pain management.


Depts - 24,46,47 Tel: Bob & Tracy 05 53 30 28 52 Email:

05 53 31 92 74 or 06 50 26 36 80

Colour 31 page guide free for a limited period

The Connexion


All Gardening Work - Cutting Strimming - Hedge Trimming Clearance - Property Services

Builders of bespoke insulated reinforced concrete swimming pools. Online pool store.

NEED A DIGITAL HEARING AID? Home visits and consultations SW France




Depts. 47, 24, 33.


Carpentry - Roofing - Insulation - Wood frames and houses - Decks - Porches - Floors Free Estimates - Depts: Dordogne - Gironde

Web: Mob: 06 02 50 11 56 Email: English spoken


the groundwork specialists One Contractor – many skills Tarmac l Asphalt l Paving l Drainage Digger Work l Small Building Works Demolition l Tree Works l Septic Tanks

British TV in France Tel: 05 53 80 63 93 Email: contact Web:

Regions: Dordogne and surrounding Departments Siret: 50196266600019

TV & Broadband Via Satellite ISO Sky / BBC Installations British TV Installations ADSL regardless of location T: 06 80 55 06 09 E: W:

Region: South West Siret: 4526 2188 1000 21

sigaut Plumbing - Heating - Electricity- Air Conditioning All types of energy (Solar energy)

Contact: Frédéric Sigaut Tel/Fax: 05 53 36 78 33 Email: Depts: 47 - 24 - Siret: 444 762 975 000 19

Needa Hand Services

One call does it all!

Grass Cutting, Long grass specialists, Orchards/Fields, Plasterboarding, DIY


Tel 05 49 64 61 55 / 06 18 70 41 77 Email: Area79 - willing to travel

05 58 98 81 75 - 06 87 41 51 76 06 79 73 64 50 Depts 40/64

Siret 422 813 956 00014

Siret: 48350081500012

The Connexion

February 2013


Alarm calls up to 4 numbers if activated.

NO ANNUAL CONTRACTS OR MONTHLY PAYMENTS. Wireless or wired. Cameras with 24/7 recording + Internet access. Security lighting.

Tel: 06 27 76 95 91 E: W: Regions Covered: 24, 33, 17, 16 SIRET 50793843900019


with operator. 1.5T machine - ideal where access restricted. All types groundwork, drainage, barn and land clearance undertaken. e25 per hour.

Tel: 05 45 24 58 85 Siret: 48309812500014

Region: Charente • Solar domestic hot water • Solar swimming pool • Wood boiler stoves • Underfloor heating • Plumbing services Tel : 05 53 63 43 87 Email :

WOODBURNING STOVES Traditional & Modern Heating & Cooking Stoves. Over 30 different models in stock. Official French distributer for midtherm flue pipes. Also large selection of household furnishings, décor items & giftware in our showroom.

Deux Sevres (79) Tel: 05 49 69 97 26 Web: Email: Siret No 480 148 527 00017


- Renovated AGAs - Clearview Wood-Burning Stoves - Handmade English Kitchens - Solar Wood Heating 'Convert your Gas Aga to Electric now!' Sales, Service & Installation throughout South West France.

T: 05 46 98 17 06 or 06 23 13 31 78 E: W: Siret: 510 014 98800016


Chats du Quercy Cat rescue and Rehoming Charity

Please call to make an appointment on

05 63 94 73 97

Contact Tel: 05 56 71 40 78

Where each cat recieves the best possible care and attention from the day it is admitted to the moment of its adoption.

Read the Bible every day

Tel +44 (0) 1280 843 966 UK 00 33 (0) 5 53 22 39 16 France


Delivered & installed Showroom by appointment Advice on your requirements

Chris or Fiona 0553816073


05 63 53 35 91 81170 Cordes sur Ciel

Car Parts In Spain now supply in France. Quality new parts - brakes, clutches, headlights etc.

00 34 (0) 6 92 93 03 26 CHARITY


If you are thinking of giving an animal a home, please consider adopting. We have many cats and dogs looking for loving homes. Please visit us at: PhoenixAssociationFrance

Les Amis des Chats As a registered charity, we rely mainly on the generosity and kindness of the public to enable us to go on caring for cats and kittens. If you would like to find out ways in which you can help to support our charity visit: or email general enquiries to


PROPERTY SALES AGENTS WANTED All regions - Work from Home

Tea and Cake from 5pm Cafe Church from 5.30pm - 6.45pm

Good commissions Free International marketing Must be bilingual and motivated

Sponsored by and held at L'Eglise Evangelique Libre de Bergerac, 5 Rue Durou - 05 45 98 00 98



More clients More commission More support

1st & 3rd Sundays monthly, 11.00am Centre Paroissial, adjoining Mirepoix Cathedral Tel: 04 68 69 35 61 Email:

Regions All France


English Speaking Church Services

For details of other meetings or Peter Shire 05 53 22 74 08

For all your European Removals and Transport contact email:


Visit our website the Christadelphians


UK 08717174097 FR 0553732521



Café Church Bergerac

Food & Parcel deliveries weekly to France


is looking for motivated Independent Sales Consultants in and around Eymet (24), Montaigu de Quercy (82), Brantôme (24) and Condom (32). Must be motivated, bilingual with good people skills. Training given but experience an advantage.

An English speaking approach to contemporary Christianity

AARROW YEOMAN STOVAX VILLAGER France Agent - P.E.P Leisure Ltd Or Call Douglas Christine

Association: 0112003193

All depts covered - Siret 50406233200011


ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS South West France Have you a problem?

Directory 41

SHIHTZU Puppys Rare all solid Black! We have mum and Dad. call for details 250269604840809 / 234269604840112 +44 7712106158 Audi TT 2005 Grey - extra wheels and snow tyres, 11,000e GARDENERS Buy popular vegetable and flower seeds on-line for only 1e a packet (orders of 10e or more delivery free) Mobile Home for sale year 2001. 2 Bedroom, Kitchen, Shower Room, Toilet, in excellent condition. Price e4.300. Transport can be arranged. Phone Anna 06 75 13 43 64


Worldwide Private Investigations Anglo French Detective Agency

Tel: +33 (0)608 581058 Email: Siret: 497 657 981

Laura Ashley Newton beige corner sofa nearly new 450e - 562099407

HEALTH AND COUNSELLING ENGLISH SPEAKING ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS ST Pois Basse Normandy, French speakers welcome Every Thursday afternoon 14.30 - 15.30 Mairie St Pois Tel: 02 31 67 64 29 Email


Is Alcohol Costing You More Than Money? Call Alcoholics Anonymous.0820 200 257 Siret : 49197537100015

Call or email for more info

Euro Immobilier Chalais Siret: 484759808

SALES POSITION Professional, Friendly Company Good telephone manner required Work from home

Contact Danielle: 05 49 97 03 54

DO YOU NEED EXTRA INCOME? We need allergy therapists in France


Prospectus from 00 44 1974 241 376 Regions covered: All France UK Co 04931050 Languedoc Roussillon Ladies become self-employed and financially independent by selling our unique range of Indian Jewellery in the street markets. Positions available in the Gard, The Aude, and the Pyrennes Oriental. Excellent quality, huge range, and wonderful prices. For initial information package please email me your name, full street address, and phone numbers.


France based estate agency seeks representatives for ALL regions of France. Carte Blanche Agent Commercial Immobilier and generous commission rates offered. Contact Sheelagh GORHAM. Tel: 00 33 (0) 2 33 61 92 70 Mob: 00 33 (0) 6 72 03 65 61 E: W: Siret: 48034462100010

If you are confident, highly motivated, bilingual, organised, enjoy the sales process and above all love property, then we want to hear from you. For all enquiries and more information email: PROPERTY SALES

How we sold our French home against the odds > Please read our story, we help others too ! Tel : +44 7794794305 email: Suffolk: Centre of market town in quiet road, furnished 3 bedroomed house with garden, c/h and parking. 15 mins from coast. Medium term lets. 04 68 96 06 77.

Book now for the March issue

(Deadline February 5th)

Call freephone in France 0800 91 77 56 or from UK 0844 256 9881 (4p/min) or see the website

42 Directory Houses for sale across FRANCE


Use our wide distribution in France to get your property sold! A property advertorial is the ideal - and cost-effective - way to market your property and costs just e200ht for three editions

The Connexion

February 2013

PROPERTY ADVERTORIALS showcase your house in a quarter page space on the property pages, like below. To book, or for details call Clare on 0800 91 77 56 or email


Detached barn set in a protected valley ‘Le Petit Château’ 82160 Caylus, (Caylus 2km - St. Antonin 10km) Price e98.500 Of robust construction, in stone and under a pan-tiled roof, the barn stands in its own plot of land extending to 2300m2 and is approached by a private, gated, access from the D19. Facing south-east, the barn is situation on rising land to the

north-west; in a protected valley with unrestricted views over the countryside. Permission for the refurbishment and conversion of the barn to a ‘maison individuelle’ has been granted and provides for: Ground floor - A duplex-style living room with a wood burning stove and circular stair to the upper level, utility room, WC, entrance hall with staircase to the first floor, CH chamber, garden store and covered parking for 2 cars. First Floor - The upper-level gallery to the duplex-style living room with a 2nd stove, large living/dining area, kitchen with hoist to ground floor, 2 en-suite, double bedrooms, a cloakroom with WC, terrace and steps down to garden.

The accommodation has been designed to ensure maximum privacy on 3 sides whilst overlooking the undulating countryside and extends to 228m2 with a further 80m2 of paved garden area walled on 2 sides. All building permissions, associated documents and a complete set of building plans are included in the sale. There are existing public water and electricity suppliers. The price relates to the barn, private access way and 2300m2 of land. A further 845m2 or land may be available by separate negotiation. Details from the owner G.R. Adamson Tel: 05 63 24 05 67

The barn has full conversion and refurbishment permission

Villa for sale close to the France/England border For sale/exchange - 6 bed villa plus plot of land 670m2 near Calais This 1985 6 bedroom villa, 2 storey plus cellar, well constructed with extra large reception room. Garden 752m2 in a magnificent location with spectacular views over fields and hills. Walking distance from supermarket, bakery and on local bus route/station. Local primary/ secondary schools and village shops and post office plus two major hospitals. Fruit trees in the garden, driveway for over 12 cars and parking bay in front of house beside front door. 4 large bedrooms plus 1 small and 1 master. 2 and a half bathrooms including new Italian wet room, water boiler, toilet, sink and bath. Well maintained, in excellent condition and ready to move in. Central gas heated. A massive veranda ideal for BBQ, continental wooden shutters all around house. 4 French double/triple windowed double glazed doors.

Wireless alarm, lamplit garden and fountain. Full cellar with 4 large rooms, one with table tennis table and other with pool table. Spacious 2 car garage leading to extended parking bay/ mechanics iron grid over pit. House, cellar and veranda completely tiled. There are beaches nearby, fishing and a marina on ‘millionaires row’. One hour from Calais port, Channel tunnel 40 mins, Paris 250km. People live here and travel to work in London. New ferry service from Ramsgate (UK) to Boulogne sur mer (FRANCE) due to start in Feb. 2013. Price: e395,000 includes 6 bed villa (fully equipped, 24 track recording studio-drums guitars basses keyboards etc.) +Plot 2 - e80,000 can be sold separately or together- (planning to build a small holiday

Swimming pools and fishing in historic village Tingdene Dolben Lodge in the historic village of Apremont in the Vendée. £50,000 Twin unit 45 x 20 situated on a private camping site within walking distance of the attractive, historic village of Apremont in

the Vendée with its large lake, boating, fishing and a man-made beach. It also has a large chateau which overlooks this quaint village. The camp site is open 365 days of the year, entrance and exit barriers, boasts 2 swimming pools, 1 undercover and heated, there is also a large bar for residents’ use. This mobile home is sited on a concrete slab, has a large decking partially covered by a canopy, fenced garden ideal for family pet, L-shaped lounge/diner, 2/3 beds. main bed has en-suite and walk-in wardrobe, family bathroom, large kitchen, separate utility room with washing machine, double glazed, central heating. There is also a garden shed and large parking area for up to 3.5 Campervan and car. If you would like to find out more information about the property or to arrange a visit, contact: June Fletcher: +44 (0)7713 129 579

The Tingdene Dolben Lodge mobile home is ideally sited

Combining business with leisure Established hotel business ideal for an active couple for sale on the France/Spain border A rare opportunity for a couple (one or both fluent French speakers) to acquire an established hotel business on the frontier

with Spain "au coeur des Pyrenees". Situated on the GR10, a walkway which traverses the Pyrenees from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean, the hotel benefits from a steady stream of walkers throughout the season. "En gerance" (tenancy) from the Mairie, the hotel is located in Fos, 130km due south of Toulouse, on one of the main routes across the border - RN125. With a low rent and accommodation (3 piece) on the premises, the hotel would be ideal for those looking for the chance to combine a business with an outdoor lifestyle (skiing, walking, canoeing, cycling,

pony trekking, hang gliding etc.). With nine rooms, a bar and restaurant (seating 40) and summer terrace having a further capacity for 24 covers the business is manageable with minimal employment. Ideally there should be a cook in the partnership. As well as normal restaurant business we also provide a "canteen service" (not obligatory) to the village school during term-time which is paid for monthly by the Mairie. We would like to ensure that there is no rupture to business as we have on-going reservations and a clientele 'fidele' built up over the past five years. Fixtures and fittings, goodwill etc. are for sale for offers in the region of e35,000. For full details call us on: 00 33 (0)6 13 05 18 85. A visit is a must!

The hotel is ideally situated for both summer and winter visitors

home for ourselves) Small pond in the garden has a living spring which could be piped for domestic water usage. Looking for a bungalow/house in Kent preferably near Ramsgate, Kent. Also holiday home in USA or Spain-exchange possible. Contact Jeremiah UK 0844 2327845 or FRANCE +33 (0)3 21 32 42 53

The Connexion

February 2013

Directory 43



Fabulous townhouse close to all amenities

Spacious 7 bedroom townhouse available to buy or rent. Condom, Gascony e425,000


This townhouse could be easily converted into apartments or remain as a large family home.

Beautifully appointed townhouse on 4 floors, plus basement, cellar and laundry entered from the garden. With 7 bedrooms, 3 of them ensuite, exercise room and sauna, this house would make a lovely family home or easy conversion to a chambre d’hote or apartments. The extremely light and spacious accommodation over the 2-car garage is currently used as an artist’s studio. An easy to care for walled garden with mature trees offers perfect

safety for children and animals. A few minutes walk to the town centre with its cathedral, shops and cafes, and also from the river and a beautiful large park. Gas central heating. Energy rating: D176. To buy at e425,000 or rent e1,000 per month. For more information or to arrange a visit Email: Call: +33 (0)5 53 82 94 26

Click Property for Sale box on left side of and enter the reference listed below to find out more about the properties




Nimes, Gard 91m² apartment with 9m² balcony in a private residence. The apartment has a spacious entry, living room, three bedrooms, a kitchen, a laundry room, bathroom and toilet. Close to all amenities and parking.

Clamecy, Burgundy Châtel-Censoir: 100m² pavilion on 517m² of enclosed land planted with trees. 4/5 bedrooms, lounge, kitchen, bathroom, 2 toilets, laundry / boiler room, Terrace, Alarm, Large tiled garage, door and gate.

Pau, Aquitaine Character house situated in 6,400m² of land with a pool and lovely views of the countryside. Entrance Hall, fitted kitchen, living room with fireplace, bathroom, bedroom, sitting room, wc, living room/bedroom.

REF: S813

Energy rating = D & C

REF: 3174-51777

Energy rating = D & E

REF: LB437




Cosne-d’Allier, Auvergne Stunning renovated stone house with a lovely location on a plot of almost 1.2 ha with outbuildings and a swimming pool. The property offers a habitable surface of approximately 200m2 with 5 bedrooms.

Eauze, Midi-Pyrénées Fully restored, enlarged farmhouse in great condition with lots of privacy. 4 Bedrooms, annexe, large swimming pool, 33,000m2+ of land and good access to airports.

Hauteluce , Rhône-Alpes This is a beautiful 1773 village house that was fully renovated in 1983, at the heart of the Beaufortain — just 2kms from the Espace Diamant ski area. The chalet has 150m²of living space and a further 30m² under 1.80m

REF: 63001111

Energy rating = F & D

REF: IFPC22595

Community / What’s On Forces charity - Needs volunteers FORCES charity SSAFA is offering a way to put your New Year resolutions to positive use with its search for volunteers to work with veterans and their families. SSAFA is the UK’s leading military charity and its fully-trained volunteers in France provide the face-to-face contact to ensure that veterans and their families, young and old alike, get the support and assistance that they deserve. The people we help can range from the widow of a National Serviceman to a young veteran of current conflict. During 2012 SSAFA France managed to resolve urgent problems for 49 families. Volunteering is an opportunity to learn new skills and gain a sense of achievement. All volunteers receive full training and are paid expenses. Get further information by email: or telephone 00 33 5 53 24 92 38 Cancer group - drop-in times Opening times for the Cancer Support France Basse-Normandie drop-in centre at Route de Buais Notre Dame de Touchet 50140: Monday 10.00 hrs - 14.00 hrs Wednesdays 14.00 hrs - 16.30 hrs Fridays 10.00 hrs - 12.30 hrs Tel: 02 33 69 01 05 One-man blues - Band on stage LONG-TIME festival circuit regular Jerome Pietri takes the stage at Mailhac sur Benaize in Haute-Vienne on February 17. Performing as a one-man blues band with his guitars, harmonicas, vocals and drum-kit, Jerome uses all techniques, from Slide and Dobro to finger picking, to belting out the Blues along with the brilliant use of his instruments.

Tickets are e8 or e18 with the wine-tasting which follows the event, dedicated to Rhone river valley wines with a cold buffet dinner. Details 05 55 76 70 15 or by email ProBus talk - on Nobel Prizes THE February meeting of ProBus Pontivy at Hotel Robic, Pontivy, on February 12 will hear a talk by Suzy Lidström on How To Win A Nobel Prize at 11.00. This is followed by lunch in Restaurant To book, contact Chaplaincy Service list Aquitaine Anglican Chaplaincy services in February: February 3 10:30 Service of the Word – Bertric Burée 10:30 Holy Communion – Bordeaux 10:30 Prayer & Praise – Limeuil 10:30 Service of the Word - Monteton 11:00 Holy Communion - Doudrac 11:00 Holy Communion – Sainte Nathalène (note venue change, see website for details) 16:00 Evensong – Bertric Burée February 10 10:30 Holy Communion – Bertric Burée 10:30 Morning Prayer - Bordeaux 10:30 Holy Communion – Limeuil 10:30 Morning Prayer – Monteton 11:00 Family Service – Negrondes February 13 Ash Wednesday 10:30 Holy Communion - Limeuil 11:00 Holy Communion – Bertric Burée 11:00 Holy Communion – Doudrac 18:00 Holy Communion - Monteton February 17 10:30 All Age Worship - Bertric Burée

10:30 Holy Communion - Bordeaux 10:30 Holy Communion - Chancelade 10:30 Morning Worship – Limeuil 10:30 Holy Communion - Dondas 10:30 Prayer and Praise - Monteton 11:00 Service of the Word – Sainte Nathalène (note venue change, see website for details) February 21 10:30 BCP Holy Communion – Limeuil February 24 10:30 Holy Communion – Bertric Burée 10:30 Family Communion - Bordeaux 10:30 Holy Communion – Limeuil 10:30 Holy Communion – Monteton February 26 11:00 Holy Communion – Negrondes Poitou-Charentes - Church services February 3 Chef Boutonne, St Jean d’Angély, Villejésus, morning worship 10.30; Civray Come and Worship 18.00. February 10 Ambernac, Jarnac Holy communion, 10.30 February 17 Magné and St Jean d’Angély Holy Communion; Barbezieux Morning Worship 10.30. February 24 Jarnac, la Rochefoucauld and Parthenay Morning Worship 10.30; Civray, Holy Communion 18.00. Email details of your events to We do not charge to publicise charity or association events

Energy rating = D & E

REF: LLS7341522

Energy rating = E & F

Energy rating = D & B

44 Directory


Readers’ Valentine’s Day messages YY To my darling wife ROZ for seeing me through the last two difficult years of cancer treatment. Love you more. Ed YY

YY Christine, Happy Valentine’s Day, our third living together with family here in Haute Normandie. I miss the U.S., but love you more. YY

YY Happy Valentine’s Day to the Baroness Guibal YY

YY Penny - Happy Valentne’s Day lots of love Clive xxx YY

YY Happy Valentine’s Day my Dennis. I love you to the moon and back. Have a lovely day. From your «SEXY BOOBS». XXXX. YY

YY My darling Joy, thank you for saying “Yes please” 50 years ago. Love forever Andy XXX. YY

YY To Karen. You are my World. Love Kevin xxx YY YY Will always love you “Bidgee” from Mary Mouse. YY YY Jonno - You are the Napoleon to my Josephine. Je t’adore. Lesley x YY YY Happy Valentine’s Day to Jenni and Kelly. Love, Daddy. YY YY To my darling husband Fred who has been such a wonderful help over the past 2 years - despite his own health issues - A new knee on the 3rd December, 2012 and the fact I was in hospital too - I LOVE YOU FRED - WITH ALL MY HEART SHA XXXX YY YY Happy Valentine to the «Love of my Life» Carol Williams. ALL my LOVE Arthur xxxxxx YY

YY Jan - Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, My Heart Yearns, To be With You? YY YY Jenny, Valentine’s Day, our 21st wedding anniversary. Many more, my darling, and there will be, if you keep feeding me so well!!! Lots of love, Malcolm. YY YY You are the centre of my world, I will always love you, as do the ‘boys’! Lyn YY YY Terry, you will always be in my heart ...Lauceen YY YY Stig, Happy Valentine’s Day with love from your best friend Snowy xx YY YY Happy St Valentine’s Day my darling Margaret, not forgetting Ducky as well XXX YY YY Happy Valentine’s Mr.Man. Love you lots...even if you are grumpy. Xxx Glenda YY YY Happy Valentine Big Two Legs. Forever yours. BIGGLES. YY

À gagner le coeur De la femme qu’il adore. Il veut donner des fleurs, Ou peut-être une chemise. Et espère avec peur Qu’elle lui donnera des bises! - S YY YY Hello Petal, so great to have the girl of my dreams back to her old magical self again. All my love. Mr Berry xxx YY YY To my darling wife Wiesia on Valentine’s Day, the one I love with all my heart, you are my wonderful dream come true. Ivor YY YY Brieg & Mark you are my sunshine and my happiness. I am so proud to have you as my sons. Love, mama YY YY Del We have been through some tough times, but you have always been strong enough for both of us!! Glad you are my Valentine!! :) YY YY To EJA, Happy Valentine’s Day, Love Always. CAA. YY YY To Joe, my darling husband - Taking this Valentine’s Day opportunity to say how much I love you, your kindness, humour, thoughtfulness and support. Love Hilary. YY YY To Eve, Happy Valentine’s Day, Thank you for being you, and for letting me be me. I Love you xxx YY


YY S, 16 years in France and still talking, even if it’s now in two languages! All my love, P xxx YY


YY For the fifty-eighth time, through this Valentine greeting, I want to tell my dearest Helena that our love remains steadfast and true. YY

YY To a wonderful husband and daddy, we love you so much, and even more when Sarah’s bedroom is finished! xxx YY

YY To Emma, I love you with all my heart and will never stop, you make me so happy and I want to spend the rest of my live with you. YY

YY Thank you Bruce for an amazing five years of marriage. Happy Valentine’s Day too! I’m looking forward to the next five years. YY

YY Rabbit, I love you more than words can say. I love you each and every day. Mouslington Mouse of Can Partère xx YY

YY To Lise on our second Valentine’s day wishing you much love and hope our plans turn out well. Love GORDON YY

YY Chris - 24 years ago there were those that said it wouldn’t last! I didn’t think it would either at times - pleased it has! Love Jeannie x YY

YY JEAN SLEE - childhood sweetheart, 15:02:2013 is our 49th anniversary and we are so suited – look forward to the next 49 French years! LOVE CHRIS xxx YY

YY Alan hugs and all my love thanks for caring for me. Babygirl xx YY

YY C’est le jour du coeur! C’est le jour de l’amour! Quand un homme cherche une femme Il espèrant toujours

YY I realised today as you left for UK, the longer we’re together the more I love you Rip - Jan xxx YY

The Connexion

February 2013

The Connexion

February 2013

Practical: Work 45

Going solo – the ups and the downs With three million unemployed, starting a business is becoming attractive, especially to those with a trade or other skills. Going it alone can help support the family or the retirement fund. But what is being your own boss like? GILLIAN HARVEY finds out from three self-employed people in Limousin

Paul Leeds as a classic entreprise individuelle GOING it alone has allowed Paul Leeds to provide for his family, while giving the flexibility to set his own working hours. “I had retrained as a bricklayer a few years before moving out and it was a logical step,” he says. Paul started his own business when he moved to France in 2005, but was taken on full-time by another builder. He started working for himself again after being made redundant in 2010. Running a business is a double-edged sword: “You can be flexible and make your own decisions, but you often can’t take time off and have to work long hours as jobs need to be started on time and completed on time.” Although registered as an entreprise individuelle, he admits there are easier regimes to get into. “They all have their pitfalls, and it is best to speak to someone at the chambre de métiers about which system is best for you.” He also advises new start-ups to keep a tight rein on the cash-flow.

The three set-ups in brief

For him, though, the biggest complication is “the Limousin weather” He added: “It has a great variety of weather conditions and it is quite hard to predict what you will wake up to.” Suzie Miller chose auto-entrepreneur RUNNING a chambre d’hôtes was always a dream for Suzie Miller, however, it was when draughtsman husband Ian was made redundant in 2009 that they finally made the dream a reality. She said: “I had always liked the idea of running a B&B but Ian wasn’t so keen.

Then, when he was made redundant, it seemed like the right time.” Because Ian subsequently found a job, Suzie was able to keep the business fairly small: “We don’t advertise with any companies – they are far too expensive for us. We simply rely on the internet and the Eymoutiers tourist office” Even with minimal advertising, the business, Coursellas, attracts visitors both in summer and during the less clement months. “We have people staying in October and March. Some are looking for property; others are just taking a break.” Sarah Berry was advised to set up a société à responsabilité limitée (SARL) SARAH BERRY had high hopes when she opened a shop with discount clothing and toys in La Croisille-sur-Briance – but the reality of running Chic et Unique has become difficult. She and a business partner invested money to get started as a SARL and were its joint managers (other associates also put money in). However despite advice from an accountant, they ended up with bills for unexpectedly large sums including “two enormous social charges bills, which made things impossible”. Her partner then dropped out, which she said had caused the social charge levies to be reduced somewhat. “As I have young kids and wanted to build a future for them, I decided I would keep it on,” she said. However the shop is still struggling. “The last two months have been the worst. At the moment, we are only seeing 10 to 15 customers a week.” Ms Berry had been advised that starting a SARL would mean relatively low social charges, however now she says: “I’d recommend anyone starting out

Suzie’s piece of advice for anyone wanting to run a chambre d’hôtes was that it was important to be realistic about your potential turnover. “You can’t support yourself solely on the income from a chambre d’hôtes, you need to have another form of income as well.” She says one benefit from being an auto-entrepreneur is that completing her tax forms is easier: “The tax forms come through once a quarter and all I have to do is write the amount I have earned and send it back with a cheque. It couldn’t be simpler.” chooses the auto-entrepreneur regime. At the end of the day your turnover will never be over the e81,500 threshold. You don’t have to make things difficult.” She added: “Investigate thoroughly and double or treble your budget. I would never say don’t try, but be very careful that you can afford to lose what you invest.” There is some light on the horizon through a scheme with an association for people with special needs. “Working with them, I am able to sell items to their members, who have an allocation for spending each month. This has helped to improve recent turnover.” The local mayor has also been very supportive – even attending the store opening – and the village has a large monthly market that brings in new customers. Chic et Unique is small, but bursting with clothing, jewellery, cards and toys. Despite the problems, Ms Berry is stocking up for the new season. “It’s important to remain positive and I hope 2013 will be better. Next year, I hope we’ll double our client base, and people will think to try us before going to one of the towns. Patience is a virtue.”

Entreprise individuelle: This is a sole-tradership. Founder and business are one and the same, legally. These are simpler to set up and run than companies but in principle involve unlimited personal liability for the trader (though there is now a limited liability option, EIRL). “Classic” set-ups of this type are those that were available before the auto-entrepreneur’s launch in 2009. They are subject to income tax and, for tax, set up under régime réel (real expenses must be proven and deducted and VAT charged) or micro-entreprise (turnover is declared and there is a fixed expenses deduction). Set up at a centre de formalités d’entreprise, with set-up fees and (for trades) a short business course. Most easily done with help from an accountant whose services are a deductible expense. Auto-entrepreneur: This is a simplified micro-entreprise. Set up largely over the internet, free of charge. No estimated social charges in early years as in the classic set-ups, or minimum ones. Charged on real turnover only, at regular intervals. A similar income tax system is optionally available. Involves turnover ceilings (which also apply to the classic micro-entreprise): e81,500 for sales firms, otherwise e32,600. SARL: The most common form of company; a separate legal entity with at least two associates, only one of whom needs to take full responsibility as gérant (manager). An agreed starting capital is decided on depending on needs. Subject to corporation tax, not income tax, apart from some new businesses and small family firms. Holds formal meetings to make decisions and agree accounts at least once a year. Set-up formalities similar to classic entreprise individuelle, but also needs to register a name and to draw up formal articles of association (usually with help from a notaire). The Connexion publishes a helpguide to the auto-entrepreneur status. Order at

46 Practical: Property


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les bocages

Camellias help light up winter

Photo: © Chamaeleon -

A splash of colour from a camellia on a winter day

Photo: ©Sebastianjude -

One of the most refreshing sights in the dull days of February is the bloom of camellias and the fact that they are brief, given their susceptibility to frosts, makes them all the more entrancing. Camellias are classed as small trees and the best known is in your morning cuppa – Camellia sinensis, the tea bush. In Asia they grow on mountain slopes, are acid lovers and no strangers to cold. In northern France these substantial shrubs need a lot of space and are ideally woodland edge plants. As evergreens they are good screens and their dense foliage makes them a good background to other plants later in the year. The flowering habit is from late winter to mid spring depending on the cultivar; unfortunately this can coincide with frosts, so the blossoms are transient in this weather. But the plants are tough and frost damage is usually cosmetic, so bring half-opened buds in early in the day if you want a splash of colour in the house. Camellia japonica, the cultivated camellia, is an acid lover – where the soil is chalky or of a high pH value, you will need to add leaf mould, bracken or ericaceous fertiliser before planting. If you are near a beach, seaweed collected and rotted down is a good additive. The one thing that really affects camellias is drought. Although thirsty plants, they need free draining sites and need to be planted deep to avoid drying out in mid-summer. Make sure that there will be water available for potted plants when needed. Camellia sinensis Pruning a camellia is is found in your done after flowering. morning cuppa So leave the bush until mid-summer at the earliest, late summer is best. Younger plants merely need the crown thinned out, so remove spindly and poorly growing branches back to the main trunk. Try to keep the inner crown clear to improve the airflow and encourage spreading growth. If you have inherited an older overgrown specimen, camellias are one of the few shrubs that can take hard pruning and you can cut back to the main trunk to start re-shaping over a couple of years. Potted camellias do well where the soil pH is not suitable or too dry in summer. Because they flower vigorously they will need care to keep a good shape. Every second year take the plant from the pot and trim the roots and repot with new compost and potting material. Finally, the only problem you have is to choose what colour and the form of flower you wish to have - from virginal white to deep crimson and every shade in between, the flowers range from simple types to semi-double and double blossoms. What they lack in scent they make up for in display and hardiness. Tel. 00 33 (0)2 97 39 99 82

on streets after letting ‘friend’ live in house A COUPLE who loaned a homeless “friend” their house while they set off on an extended caravan holiday were left on the streets themselves on return - the friend had changed the locks and would not let them back into the house. Joël and Nadine Lips were forced to spend three months - including Christmas Day - living in their mobile home just a few hundred yards from their house in the Mediterranean resort of Port-Leucate in Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon. Despite taking the case to court in a bid to evict their squatter friend they found they had fallen into a legal hole and the case went against them. They had been friendly for four years with Christelle Caniez, a neighbour, who was living alone with her four children as her husband worked in Dubai. When Mrs Caniez and her husband divorced he continued to pay the rent on their house, until she found a new partner and he stopped; things then quickly fell apart and she was evicted. Mrs Lips said they had helped Mrs Caniez out many times and when they were heading off on a holiday to Greece and the US last summer offered her the loan of their house rent-free until they

February 2013


Gardening Couple left

The Connexion

Joël and Nadine Lips outside their house which their former friend refused to leave returned. Mr and Mrs Lips said that they would cover the bills. When they did return in mid-October their good deed rebounded on them as they had signed a prêt à usage loan agreement with Mrs Caniez which said that they would not be back until “early in 2014, except in unforeseen circumstances”. The prêt à usage arrangement is the equivalent of a commodat, rental agreement without rent, and should have been written with the help of a lawyer so that it was clear and enforceable, allowing the owners to recover possession. The date on the agreement should have read 2013 but by error was written as 2014. However, even without this, the trêve hivernale winter truce was in place so Mrs

Caniez could not have been forced out until March 15. The truce means tenants can only be evicted under very restricted circumstances between November 1 and March 15 each year. After losing the court case in December Mrs Lips threatened to camp out on the doorstep to get her home back and called on Leucate mairie to offer Mrs Caniez a new home – but Mrs Caniez refused this. When locals and journalists got to hear of the story it made a top item on TF1 news and France 2’s flagship evening news. Amid the media fury, Mrs Caniez accepted the three-room flat the mairie offered. Mr Lips later told The Connexion: “We’ve finally got our home back. We will never lend anything again.”

Housing laws are stricter than people think LAWYER Gerard Barron said the case was a warning that lending or renting a property – including to a friend – was a contract and could be ended only in special circumstances. The 1989 general law on leases says that when you lease a house to individuals to live in (not a holiday let) the minimum statutory dura-

Estate agents lost 10,000 jobs last year MORE THAN 10,000 estate agency jobs were lost last year in the property market slump. The Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier (Fnaim) said 3,000 offices closed in its 11,500 agencies last year as sales fell 18.6% with 150,000 fewer transactions. This year was following the same trend with an 8.5% slump in sales. Fnaim president JeanFrançois Buet said there was a “confidence crisis” and people were playing a waiting game. Buyers were holding off due to “difficulties in getting loans,” prices seen as “too high” and fears over job security. It means the loss of 10,000 of the 80,000 jobs in the Fnaim.

tion is three years for unfurnished properties. At the end of this you can give notice only in the following circumstances if you have built the option into the lease: you want to live there yourself, close family is to live there or to sell the property. The notice period is six months and if no notice is served the tenancy continues

for another three years. For a furnished lease as a principal residence, the tenant also gets security of tenure and acquires statutory protection. Mr Barron added: “If the premises have been let to somebody to live permanently you can’t agree to a short notice, given at any time, to recover possession.”


New law plugs water leak bills IN a Connexion article last year a reader told how she was facing a massive water bill due to a leak. Unfortunately we are in a similar situation. We noticed our water meter was turning fast and called in a plumber who discovered a leak in the mains water supply through our garden. He cut off the supply and we contacted the water company who sent an engineer. He said our consumption was more than 80 times our normal monthly usage – which could mean a huge bill. What are our options when we speak to the company? Our neighbours say a new law may protect us - can you supply any details of this? L.T. A LAW came into force last autumn which should help you as it caps the size of your bill if there is a leak in the domestic water supply after the meter. The law under Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales – Article L2224-

12-4 was actually voted in spring 2011 but did not come into force until September 27, 2012. Your complaint relates to Article III bis of the above law, which you will find at Ask your plumber to supply an attestation mentioning the source of the leak, its location and the date the leak was repaired and send it to the water company to query the bill. In this situation the company can only charge you for a sum equal to twice your average consumption over the past three years. Speak to your insurance company to see if you are covered for the repair work. If there is a problem, contact the mediator at The new law also says that from July 1, 2013, the water company should contact any customer if they notice that they are using much more than their usual quantities of water, suggesting a possible leak.

The Connexion

February 2013

Sellers told to cut prices by up to 15% by KEN SEATON A leading French estate agency group has written to its owners telling them to cut prices by 5-15% if they want to sell. President of Orpi Immobilier, which has 1,250 agencies across France, Bernard Cadeau said: “One single factor will unlock the market and ease the access to property: sellers returning to a fair market price.” He was speaking as banks moved to boost mortgage market activity by dropping rates to their lowest since ‘the Liberation’ with 3.23% available for a longterm fixed loan. It means a 20-year e200,000 loan fixed in December last year would cost e20,000 less than the same loan fixed at the rates in January 2012. Mr Cadeau said the number of loan agreements had slumped by a third in a year. He added: “To get out of the dead-

lock, pending a massive new house-building programme, the only lasting remedy for the property market crisis is to drop prices by 5-15%. “Sellers have everything to gain. They will not lose money by cutting prices to return to a fair market price. “Not only because in seven cases out of 10 they sell to buy again – but, above all, because in 10 years, between 1998 and 2007, real estate prices rose by 140%, or six times more than inflation in the same period. In other words, even while reducing their expectations and no matter when they bought, sellers are still winning.” Mr Cadeau said a test in Bordeaux had shown the results – cutting prices by 3% had seen the delay in getting a sale fall by 17% and increase sales by 20% in the second quarter of 2012. “If we want to unblock the market we

need to get vendors to see reason.” Orpi has been forced to move after seeing market activity on the verge of a complete halt, with sales down 16% for the company itself and 20% elsewhere. It had also seen the sale delay time rise 33%, from 70 days in 2011 to 100 days in 2012. Its figures pointed up the difference between the asking price and the selling price for properties, which grew from 7% at the start of 2012 to 15% by the end. While sellers wanted too high a price, buyers had seen buying power drop 15% to 20% over the past two years – against a background where prices rose three times faster than revenues over 10 years. Buyers were also under increasing pressure from banks – despite the reduced mortage rates – to come up with larger deposits, which had increased from 10% in 2010 to an average of 20% in 2012.

by SAMANTHA DAVID A BREWERY making a range of British-style organic real ales that have conquered the Normans and the rest of the world is up for sale. Le Brewery in Joué du Bois has been racking up awards for beers named around William the Conqueror but owners Steve and Jane Skews want to “fall into semi-retirement” after 12 years of making a success of the brewery and their pubs, the Famous Knight in Couptrain and Secret Knight in Champsecret in the Orne. The brewery, which produces a range of organic real ales from bitters to wheat beers, is now up for sale along with the farmhouse, animals and pubs. Steve, 62, said all or some of it could go: “I’m open to suggestions! Who knows what the deal will be? There’s 12 hectares of land which is where we hold an annual beer festival but it could be used for anything. “I’m looking within the next two to three years to fall into semi-retirement, so it would be nice to find someone to take over the business. We’ve had a few good enquiries and we’re working with a very enthusiastic young brewer, who has no money but would be a great prospect for a business expert with no brewing experience.” To become a brewer you need a recognised diploma or must employ a master brewer with such a diploma. The company is already fully licensed and registered. “This business could be a fabulous opportunity for someone wanting free beer for life!” Steve said. He feels that at 62 he might be holding development back. “The company needs new blood. We have almost more demand – from the UK,


Wanted: brewery buyer Offered: free beer for life

Practical: Property 47


Your questions answered

David Crawford, solicitor (non-practising), answers a reader query Q: Could you clarify the position on whether I need to re-register my UK-registered car now that I live in France – and what I need to do? A: If you are visiting France you do not need to do anything, your UK registration is legal; but if you become resident then your car needs to be changed to French plates. The rule of thumb is that if you are spending more than six months in France then you are resident here. Your UK insurance will cover you for three months but after that you need French cover. To re-register a car you need to apply to the prefecture with certain documents: Car registration request on form Cerfa no.13750.03, proof of identity (eg passport), recent proof of address, transfer document completed by previous owner, French contrôle technique (CT) issued within six months, previous registration certificate and the quitus fiscal French tax document (which needs many of the above documents).

For cars previously registered in a non-EU state you will also need a customs document no.846 A. Finally, in order to show the car conforms with EU norms, you will also need the manufacturer’s Certificate of Conformity. This can be obtained from the manufacturer or its agent in France. If there is a problem then the DREAL (Regional Direction of Environment, Development and Housing) can issue a one-off réception à titre isolé to allow the authorities to register the car. This and other information can be found on the website: cnxn-car-reg Your local prefecture will be able to give you more specific information as some have different, usually quite minor, demands. If you plan to re-register a car originally registered in the UK you may need to change the headlight units to pass the contrôle technique. Your new numberplates must be rivetted to your car.

T: UK +44 1492 877 014  M: UK +44 7813 067 519 Sarah Bright-Thomas of Bright Avocats answers a reader query

Jane Skews serves up a foaming pint – while Steve enjoys the job of making sure the taste is right

Scandinavia and the US – than we can supply, and we also need a cash injection in order to grow in the right way.” He said their existing team were great assets: “Everyone is keen to make the business grow and, for myself, I have a schoolboy dream of sailing a yacht in the Greek islands!” Their beers, with names such as “Conqueror” and “Harold’s Revenge” have won prizes including a gold medal from UK real ale group Camra and

the gold medal at the World Beer Championships, and he thinks the prizes raised the brand’s international profile. Customers like the beer, too. In the Famous Knight, Yvan said: “I like the beer and I like the fact that it’s made here.” However, recent tax rises on beer have affected the business and Steve said they were still assessing the impact proposed electricity price rises could have. “Things are changing: more people are drinking at

home because of the smoking ban, rising bar prices, tighter drink-drive rules and shrinking disposable income.” But it is not all bad news. “We’ve started expanding overseas because there people are happy to pay a good price for a good product. So, after some years of resisting the move, we’ve now opened the doors. In the next 12 months, I think we’ll be seeing 50% of our production going abroad.” The couple originally made cider but lost their trees in the 1999 storms, so bought equipment from a brewery that was closing in England and had it shipped across the Channel. They even now have their own field of hops. For more on the brewery or beer, see

Q: Recently a friend died and his ashes were interred in a local cemetery. His widow would have preferred to scatter the ashes in the garden of their home in France but was told that ashes can only be interred in a cemetery. However I recently read that a friend of Brigitte Bardot’s was cremated and, according to her wishes, her ashes were scattered on the Mediterranean. Can you clarify? F.K. A: The legislation on this has changed significantly recently and the declared aim of this new law is to respect those that have left us and avoid family feuds regarding the urn and its contents. It is up to the family to decide what to do with the ashes but rules apply and it is no longer possible to scatter the ashes in your own garden or keep the urn at home. Now the ashes must either: n remain in an urn that

is then buried in a grave, or placed in a sealed monument at the cemetery. n or be scattered at the cemetery on a site specifically designated for this. n or be scattered in the “middle of nowhere.” Pending a decision on the destination of the ashes, the urn is kept at the crematorium for a period of up to one year. After this, if no decision has been made, the ashes are scattered on the area provided for this at the cemetery. If the family wishes to scatter the ashes elsewhere, they must first declare their intentions to the town hall. It is then possible to scatter the ashes in the “middle of nowhere”. This means that they cannot be scatted in a public place, however scattering them at sea is possible as this is not considered a public place.

Tel: 05 61 57 90 86  If you have a legal query send it to We select questions for answer every edition

French toast film greats at the Césars

The Connexion

Top wins – Cyrano de Bergerac and Le Dernier Métro, which won 10 awards each. Top actress – Isabelle Adjani, best actress 5 times Top actor – Michel Serrault and André Dussollier with three wins each Top director – Roman Polanski, with two wins

This month the cream of the French film industry will cram into the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris for the Césars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars. Voting for the prize-winners ends at 16.00 on the day of the event on February 22, so no one will know the winner until almost, literally, the last minute BY THE time Antoine de Caunes steps up to the microphone to open the 38th Césars Awards on February 22, the 4,199 members of the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma will – if they have been doing their job properly – have watched more than 200 films released during 2012. For their e70 cotisation fee, each will have been sent a box of 120 DVDs with one full-length film on each and two DVDs with “short” films, plus the offer of free cinema seats for films that are still showing and private screenings for those that have finished their runs. With its membership of more than four thousand, the Académie is the second largest in the world after the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was set up in 1974

by producer Georges Cravenne and the name comes from the sculptor who created the award, César Baldaccini. Members are all cinema professionals and are made up of 11 collèges de “méti­ ers” from actors and directors through technical crew to artistic agents. Each has a vote. Last year they watched 555 films to pronounce The Artist the best film – and although it also won best director for Michel Hazanavicius and best actress for Bérénice Bejo they surprisingly omitted best actor for Jean Dujardin, who went on to win an Oscar. The best actor award went to Omar Sy for Intouchables. So, the fact that veteran French actress Emmanuelle Riva has been nominated for an Oscar this year may

Emmanuelle Riva could become the oldest female Oscar winner cut no ice in the minds of the members. At 85, Riva is the oldest-ever nominee for the best actress Oscar for her work in Austrian director’s Michael Haneke’s Amour. The French-language film has five Oscar nominations, including Haneke for best director. Riva plays alongside Jean-Louis Trintignant with the results due on January 24 after Connexion goes to print. The pair have already been tipped to

be on the list of nominations for the Césars. Amour has been ruled to be a French film and with two such redoutable stars it may hold great sway but it will face a challenge from Jacques Audiard’s De Rouille et d’Os, with Marion Cotillard. And, although James Bond film Skyfall could win through in the foreign language film section, it is unlikely that Astérix et Obélix : au Service

secret de sa Majesté will repeat the feat. Académie members have just voted for their first-round choices, with voting for the 216 French films released last year ending on January 24 to obtain the final list of nominations – and are casting their votes on these now. Anyone who wants to see all the films that have received nominations can head to the cinema Le Balzac on the ChampsElysées or Les 3 Luxembourg in Paris’ Quartier Latin between February 6-19 when each will be shown once during the morning and the afternoon. The paid screenings are open to the public – but also to the Académie and many grab the chance for another look at one of the hopefuls. Voting is by post and by internet and the online vote ends just hours before the opening ceremony on February 22. Organisers will be hoping there is no repeat of last year when actress Mathilde Seigner stepped forward after presenting the best supporting actor award to Michel Blanc... and said that she would have preferred if rapper JoeyStarr had won it.

Subsidies mean stars overpaid, says Artist producer

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French Mortgages Made Simple

February 2013

César salutes

Photo: © Sonia Moskowitz/Globe-ZUMA/MAXPPP

48 The Back Page

At IPF we make the whole process of getting a French mortgage easy, for the latest rates visit or call one of our bilingual team on +44 (0)207 484 4600

VINCENT Maraval, producer of The Artist and The King’s Speech, claims French actors are overpaid because of state subsidies. After Gérard Depardieu’s decision to quit France for tax exile he said 2012 had been “a disaster” for the French film industry with fat pay packets for some stars being subsidised by the state way beyond the profitability or the success with audiences. “French actors are rich with public money and a system that protects them” he told Le Monde and pointed to Bien­ venue chez les Ch’tis actor and director Danny Boon who, he said, lived in the US but was paid e3.5million for his last film Plan Parfait which did not make enough even to pay his salary – but could still pick up e10m for his next French film. Subsidised stars were earning more than all bar the top 20 or so US stars – with less return.

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The Connexion - February 2013  

The Connexion, France’s English-language monthly newspaper

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