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May 2018 Issue 187

Opposition grows over road speed reduction by Brian McCulloch

IN THE face of protests involving tens of thousands of cars and motorbikes across France, a leading safety campaigner has vigorously defended the government plan to reduce speed limits on secondary roads from 90 to 80kph from July 1. Prof Claude Got, a retired surgeon who specialised in accident injuries and a former government advisor on safety, says it will reduce the death toll – which stood at 3,693 in 2017 – and save 400 lives. Drivers’ groups do not agree. Led by 40 Millions d’Automobilistes, they say accidents are caused by driver behaviour, not speed. They point to the UK, which has a 97kph speed limit and where 1,720 people died on roads in 2017. The Sénat is opposed to a blanket reduction and instead wants dep­artments to use accident history to decide local limits. However, Pres­ident Macron and Prime

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Minister Edouard Philippe stand firm, saying the cut will be reviewed after two years. It comes as the first speed trap cars run by private companies took to the roads in Normandy in April, a move which further angered driving groups who say that, as with the 80kph speed limit, it will serve only to increase state revenue from fines. Prof Got said research showed 400 lives could be saved with an 80kph limit as it gave more time to react to unexpected situations, shorter braking distances and more chance of recovering control. It was a misconception that rural trips would take much longer. “Drivers spend more time on the road in urban areas due è Turn to Page 2

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Strikes spark fear of a summer of discontent WITH a rolling programme of rail strikes announced until June 28, electricity workers in the CGT union have stepped in to back the dispute with threats to act against SNCF and cause delays to TGV trains. Although support has fallen from an initial 33% of SNCF staff at the start of the strikes to about 20% by mid-April there is little view of an end as support is still solid in the key jobs of drivers and signalling staff. It comes after a spring of disputes with workers in Ehpad nursing homes protesting about staff and bed shortages; public service workers wanting to defend their statute and wages, and Air France crews demanding a 5.1% pay rise. With other action involving striking schoolteachers and students over changes to the baccalauréat exam and university entrance the strikes are an undercurrent that is already reported as having an effect on tourism (see page 6). CGT union electricity workers threatened action against companies laying off or mis-

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The Connexion May 2018

Train strike dates April 28-29 May 3-4, 8-9, 13-14, 18-19, 23-24, 28-29 June 2-3, 7-8, 12-13, 17-18, 22-23, 27-28 treating staff and cited the SNCF and the supermarket giant Carrefour. They said they would restore power to families who had been cut off due to unpaid bills and switch users in some cities to low-cost heures creuses tariffs instead of the full rate. Union specialist Stéphane Sirot of Cergy-Pontoise university, said the CGT was preparing for a battle to come, against government plans to privatise the hydro-electricity industry, and was hoping to create support for increased strike action. “That is unlikely to happen,

although strikes will continue into the summer, because there is no real central union control and no real political will for this – indeed, the far left is too busy with in-fighting to lead action. “The government also looks in no mood to end the strike by making concessions,” said Mr Sirot. “It would be hard for it to cope with multiple strong disputes but we have not seen this.” President Macron has shown a willingness to take on strikers in TV interviews and in the streets, arguing fiercely with one striker in Vosges. Macron and strikes: Page 14

Opposition grows against speed limit cut to 80kph èContinued from Page 1

to traffic jams. A half-hour trip to work can take twice as long if there is a jam, while in rural areas, traffic is much more fluid – yet people are upset cutting speed will cause them to spend two minutes longer in the car. “It makes no sense. I am confident people will see this and adapt, especially when the number of deaths falls.” European figures show that 55% of fatal accidents happen on rural roads. However, Pierre Chasseray, of driver group 40 Millions d’Automobilistes, said: “As your readers know, there are plenty of rural areas in the UK but its speed limit is 97kph and its road death toll is significantly less than in France. “In Germany it is 100kph and it also has fewer deaths; while in Denmark, when they raised the secondary road speed limit from 80kph to 90kph, the number of deaths dropped by 13%. “It is not by having cars go at 80kph that the number of road deaths will drop but by a change in driver behaviour.” If the government insisted on a speed cut it should start on narrow country roads with hardly space for two cars. Saying that wider roads were more dangerous “flies in the face of the experience of drivers who use these roads every day”.

However, Prof Got said comparisons with Germany and the UK do not compare like with like. “France is much less builtup than these two which obviously affects how people drive.” He criticised the call for a limit only on narrow roads. “There are more deaths on well-maintained and wider secondary roads than on small ones. This is because they have

There are plenty of rural areas in the UK but its speed limit is 97kph Pierre Chasseray 40 Millions d’Automobilistes

more traffic. Mortality rates in rural areas are a function of traffic rather than road condition.” He said the anti-limit campaign was “a conjunction with those who simply like to speed, represented mainly by 40 Millions d’Automobilistes, and political forces, dominated by the Front National, who use it just to oppose the government. “The Front National has made fighting against speed cameras

and limits one of its populist arguments for years.” Mr Chasseray said the association’s main argument against the speed cut was that “it flies in the face of common sense” but he admitted being surprised by the depth of opposition. If the government persisted, it would use up its capital of political goodwill and, “obviously have political consequences,” probably as early as the European elections in 2019. “The message I hear over and over again from rural areas is that this is a measure imposed by a government in Paris which does not listen to the people. “Unfortunately, if this is pushed through, politically the only people who will benefit are the extremes. I hope the measure will not be implemented.” Mr Chasseray said that using private firms to police roads in Normandy was a step too far for privatisation in France. He told journalists: “This goes beyond the fact of whether you are for or against speed cameras; privatisation does not work. This enforcement should be the job of the police.” He pointed to the recent law change on parking fines where a private company in Paris has been accused of breaking the law to artificially inflate the numbers of cars getting tickets. So far 5,000 drivers are to have their fines refunded.

The Connexion

May 2018

News 3

Radio Londres kept us going in the war

ONE of the last French Resistance fighters has told how Radio Londres helped them in the war, on the occa­ sion of the death of former radio pre­ senter Franck Bauer. Broadcast in French from the BBC, Radio Londres put the Free French in touch with occupied France, passing on news and coded messages for the Resistance, using its catchphrase “Ici Londres, les français parlent aux français”. Its announcers included Franck Bauer, who died recently in Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord, aged 99. A former jazz drummer, he was recruited as his penetrating tones could cut through the German interference. Among the listeners was Odile de Vasselot, now 96, who joined the Resistance after hearing General de Gaulle’s appeal on June 18, 1940. She said: “I was on my own in my room, listening to a little radio, and I went to tell my family in the living room: do you know what’s happened? De Gaulle is in London! “My grandfather shouted out: ‘The war’s not finished yet! There’s still

Carte grise lag continues WITH up to 300,000 carte grise vehicle registration documents delayed by problems with the new ANTS obligatory online registration system, drivers are being advised to use private carte grise firms to lessen delays. The garage federation CNPA said using private firms gives a quicker response. Firms offer­ ing such services can be found with an internet search. The government is also help­ ing by allowing temporary WW number plates to be used for four months. Meanwhile readers continue to report issues with the pro­ cessing of requests to swap an expiring UK driving licence for a French one, which can now only be done by post. The CERT centre at Nantes prefecture said to take care to send a copy only in the first instance. It will then send an attestation that can be shown to police and which is valid until the new licence is issued.

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The last surviving presenter of Radio Londres, the Free French BBC station during the Second World War, has died and Oliver Rowland speaks to a surviving Resistance fighter on the support broadcasts gave

hope!’ But some of the others said he was a traitor and was disobeying Maré­ chal Pétain’.” Mme de Vasselot, who now lives in Paris, was 17 when the war started and lived with her family in Metz, Lorraine, where her father was in the military and where she had known the then Colonel de Gaulle as a family friend. “My grandfather, a general, used to say De Gaulle was the only intelligent soldier because he wanted a motorised army, with tanks. France was behind the times and believed that ‘the infan­ try is queen of battles’.”

Odile de Vasselot heard General de Gaulle on Radio Londres in 1940 and broadcasts with announcers such as Franck Bauer, above, kept France informed When the Germans occupied the area her father was made a prisoner of war and the family moved to Paris. “I and my sisters became Gaullists straight away. We used to rip posters and draw Lorraine crosses [the Free French symbol] on walls with chalk. On posters of [Vichy regime propa­ ganda minister] Philippe Henriot we would put speech bubbles saying ‘I’m a bastard’.” A friend with Resistance contacts put her in touch with them after she con­ fessed “it’s my dream to be a spy”. She joined Zero Network which

Parent group backs move for obligatory schooling from age 3 schooling is to become obligatory from the age of three in France from September 2019 – a move welcomed by the main school parent federation. The FCPE has been calling for the school age to be lowered for some time and President Mac­ ron said it would give every child the same chance to have a good beginning in education. For most children it will mean attending Ecole Maternelle, though home schooling will be permitted. Although 97% of children already go to maternelle, Mr Mac­ ron said early language skills were crucial to future suc­ cess at school. Of pupils who leave school at 16 without being able to read, write or do basic maths, 80% were already strug­ gling in the classroom aged six.

It is the first change in the compulsory schooling age since 1882 and gives France Europe’s lowest obligatory school age. Many countries offer optional pre-school education but, for most, compulsory education starts at five or six, and at four for Switz­er­land, Luxem­bourg and Cyprus. FCPE said it welcomes the news but fears the government will not provide the estimated extra 1,000 teachers necessary, improved training to teach the very young, reduced class num­ bers and suitable classrooms and materials. It says these fac­ tors are vital to make nursery schooling effective. l Connexion’s June issue looks at what children do and learn each day at Ecole Maternelle.

Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye / CC by 2.0

Royal visit to France THE PRINCE of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit France from May 7-9 starting in Nice where they will pay their respects to victims of the 2016 attack and attend a reception on the city’s links with the UK. Lyon will be the next stage, including a commemora­ tion of the end of the Second World War in Europe. The visit, at the request of the UK government, will stress the strong bilateral links between the UK and France, including on security and anti-terrorism, edu­ Charles and Camilla are coming to France cation and charity, gastronomy and wine.

passed information to and from the Allies via Spanish agents in the south. Taking a train to Toulouse with a parcel she would place it on the seat next to her in a restaurant for the wait­ ress to swap for another one. “It might be times of a train carrying munitions or the Germans construct­ ing funny things on the coast, launch ramps for V1s and V2s [missiles].” When the waitress was arrested, Mme de Vasselot joined Comet Network, which hid shot-down Allied air crew and helped them escape, also via Spain. “Some of us still meet each year in Brussels, it’s called Comète Kinship. There aren’t many of the airmen any more, but their children and grandchil­ dren come.” The Resistance only listened to BBC radio, not the German-controlled sta­ tions. “It was in French but scrambled by the Germans and very hard to find just the right place to listen to it. “When we’d finished we turned the button to another station, in case the Germans came in and looked. “There were funny coded messages – the carrots are cooked; the fruits are not yet ripe… Sometimes young peo­ ple had told their families if they got to England they would transmit a mes­ sage. Or it might be a warning about an Allied bombing that was planned. “I didn’t know what it meant! I was just a small cog. But one way we used it was each month when we would pass on via a British diplomat one message

per day to be broadcast, and when we found out from contacts – perhaps a mayor, or a doctor who had treated an airman’s injuries – that boys were hid­ ing in a house or farm we would tell the farmer to turn on the radio and that he would hear such-and-such a message and he was reassured that we were from the Resistance. “Sometimes we played jokes on the Germans: we put out a message saying ‘Napoleon is meeting Hitler on the Pont d’Iéna in Paris at midday’ – it was nonsense but they would go check.” She added: “Some airmen were very friendly. But they came in all types. Some found the places where we hid them weren’t very pleasant, as they had to sleep on the floor. Americans often wanted to know how much we got paid – as if we were paid for it!” Mme de Vasselot said if there was one message she liked to tell younger generations it was this: “That history can repeat itself and there will be other dangerous ideologies. We must never just give in and accept, we must resist.” l Radio Londres has had a new lease of life since being used in the 2012 election as a Twitter hashtag to give coded news on the voting, as France bans such news before the polls close. Last year saw tweets saying ‘the kid passed his exam’ (so, young Emmanuel Macron is doing well) and ‘the rose is in the cabbages’ for the Socialist Party symbol and an expression for failure.

4 Brexit/Europe


n June 19 has been set to hear the appeal in the Amsterdam case which is seeking an ECJ ruling that Britons’ EU citizenship can survive Brexit. n Liberal Democrats in France have an update and discussion about Brexit in Paris on May 14. See n British Embassy outreach meetings are being held on: May 15, Limoges; June 18, Aude; June 26, Nîmes and July 11, Montpellier (see the British Embassy Paris Facebook). n Several expats on social media have flagged up another unresolved area Brexit could affect – hardship bourses (grants) for pupils and students as they are for French or EU citizens. It thus might make school or university more costly for young Britons. n A UK parliament debate proposing that MPs must be given a ‘no Brexit’ option when they vote on ‘the deal’ has been moved for a second time, to June 11.

The Connexion May 2018

Apply now for cartes, ministry tells UK expats

INTERIOR Ministry officials have again stressed the importance of Britons in France obtaining a carte de séjour (and, if possible, the séjour permanent type) so as to ‘get into the system’ before Brexit. Connexion has advised this since EU law experts told us in March 2016 that the cartes were the best protection in the event of a Brexit as no ‘acquired rights’ could be guaranteed as a matter of course. French officials said that under 15,000 Britons currently hold cartes de séjour, compared to at least 150,000 thought to live in France, and people should seek a card now and not wait until after Brexit (or any transition period) when “they fear a peak in demand”. The cards show the holder has become a permanent resident under EU law. This is an automatic right for EU citizens who have lived in another state stably and legally for five years. This view has been borne out as a result of Brexit negotiations in which it has been agreed that the eligibility of expats to the protections outlined in the ‘deal’ – aiming to maintain key residence and work rights

– will be based on the same criteria as to apply for these cards. Proofs include utility bills showing ongoing residence and paperwork related to medical cover and employment or enough income so as not to be a burden on the state. After Brexit France will be entitled to make it obligatory for UK expats to have a card proving they meet set criteria. It has not been decided what form a card for Britons after Brexit may take but the ‘deal’ says that those already holding a ‘permanent stay’ card should, if required, be able to exchange it with minimal formalities. This card is called carte de séjour ‘citoyen UE/EEE/Suisse – séjour permanent’ and has the wording séjour permanent and toutes activités professionnelles and a 10-year date for renewal of the card (however the residency right which it attests to is not time-limited). Cards with shorter dates are available for those who have been in France for under five years, attesting to ‘legal residence’ (but not to the acquisition of a ‘permanent’ right to stay) which under the ‘deal’ would allow

people to remain to accrue five years. The chairman of the association British Community Com­ mittee (BCC) Chris­ topher Chantrey recently met with ministry officials with responsibility for cartes de séjour and Europe. He said: “They are sympathetic to our plight, and Britons who are in a regular situation should have no problem but people who are not in the French system, who are not regularised or do not fulfil the conditions for residence under EU rules are at risk.” In particular France intends to honour the rights of those with permanent cards and offer a simple exchange, the officials said. The ministry also said that it had sent a reminder to prefectures about Britons’ rights relating to these cards as well as intervening in some cases where expats had had problems gaining cards. The officials agreed that birth certificates are not required, Britons living in France more than five years may apply for a ‘permanent’ card without having to apply for a shorter-duration one and that

A form of European civil war is reappearing, says Macron

Campaign aims to find out views of French on EU

Photo: European Union / Etienne Ansotte

PRESIDENT Macron called for a European ‘Renaissance’ when he gave his first major speech to the European parliament in a threehour debate in Strasbourg. He said we must get more people interested in the EU and bring its nations together beyond such divides as east/west, north/south or small and large, in “a context of divisions, and sometimes of doubts at the heart of Europe, a context where Brexit continues to be discussed”. It was not only in the UK, but in a number of other states, he said, that such “doubts” were being expressed. “A form of European civil war is reappearing, where our differences, sometimes our national selfishness, seem more important than that which unites us as we face up to the rest of the world.” As we approach 2019’s Euro elections, he said we must focus on certain convictions, firstly an attachment to a democracy which respects the individual, minorities and fundamental rights. A parliament which for 70 years has brought together peacefully representatives of Europe, in all their diversity, is “a unique model”, a “miracle” and a “treasure” which should not be taken for granted, he said. Mr Macron said we should not be satisfied with a situation where less than half of eligible citizens vote in European Parliament elections and he said the other leaders have agreed with him that there should be wide-ranging debates in each state in the year ahead. His second big message was “construction of a new European sovereignty” which will show the citizens of Europe that “we can protect them and bring a clear response to the unrest in the world” which he said included problems like African and Middle Eastern wars and “the emergence of authoritarian great powers”.

President Macron laid out his vision for Europe’s future in a speech before the European Parliament

We need a sovereignty which is stronger than our own, but which complements it and doesn’t replace it President Macron

“This is not to say we should dilute our national sovereignties, but just that to face up to upheavals and transformations worldwide we need a sovereignty which is stronger than our own, but which complements it and doesn’t replace it, and which alone will allow us, faced with great

migrations, global insecurity and economic and digital transformations, to find the answers we need.” On migration, Mr Macron said more solidarity is needed, moving beyond questions of the ‘Dublin’ rules [under which migrants’ cases should be processed in the first country of arrival] and sending people back. He said that there should be an EU programme to support councils which welcome and integrate refugees. He also called for a ‘digital tax’ to “end the most shocking excesses” (referring to giant firms deemed to pay insufficient tax) and fill coffers. The EU must also move ahead with economic and monetary union, ‘European universities’ with greater use of Erasmus and new copyright measures to protect the profusion of cultural creation which he said was part of the European identity. Security and defence must also be prioritised, Mr Macron said, as well

as developing business opportunities while protecting workers and consumers, and going further with environmental protection with more tax on fossil fuels. We must also make no compromises on food quality and on data protection, Mr Macron said. Speaking of Brexit, he joked that the best way for the UK to have the closest-possible relationship with its European partners is well-known and is called ‘EU membership’. “That’s the one also that allows for good access to the single market, which allows for access to freedoms, and really good integration,” he said. He said friendship with the UK was very important to him, but there could be no cherry-picking when it came to the single market. Mr Macron was warmly welcomed by EU president Jean-Claude Juncker who said “the real France is back”, and he received a standing ovation at the end of the debate.

living in France but working across a border is not a bar. “They apologised for the problems and said it was because prefectures, as a general rule, haven’t had to process cards for EU citizens since 2004,” Mr Chantrey said. The officials have a British Embassy report showing where in France problems have been flagged up (emails re this can be sent to Question marks remain for anyone who cannot prove their rights under the EU residence rules, which could include retirees with income of less than €1,294/ month for couples or €833 for single people, or those without evidence of ongoing comprehensive healthcare cover. An Oxford University report has pointed to the dangers of old and isolated EU citizens becoming illegal residents in the UK through ignorance of procedures also a danger for Britons in France. The British Embassy said it is in regular contact with France on this and, once procedures are agreed, it and the French ‘will ensure details are widely available’.

A NATIONWIDE campaign is under way to find out what the French think of the EU. The ‘door-to-door’ exercise, called La grande marche pour l’Europe, is being carried out by volunteers for the government party La République en Marche! and runs until midMay. It is aimed at complimenting President Macron’s efforts on the European stage (see left). Anyone interested can take part by joining door-to-door campaigns on designated days or by downloading a smartphone app to ask set questions of neighbours at their convenience. LREM hopes for at least 100,000 surveys, similar to a grande marche two years ago, when the En Marche! movement canvassed people’s ideas about changes they wanted in France. It comes as the EU’s latest ‘Eurobarometer’ poll found only 33% of French are ‘pretty confident’ in the EU and 27% think France would do better outside. The French said they see the EU as ‘modern and fairly democratic’ but ‘not protective enough and lacking efficiency’; only 63% said they felt like European citizens. The head of LREM in the Alpes-Maritimes department, Enis Sliti, said: “We make no bones about our attachment to the European project, as opposed to parties which have an ambiguous attitude towards it. Because whether it’s the economy, security, immigration, the environment, digital technologies... we think Europe can provide part of the solution to meet people’s expectations. “Unlike Brexit, the point of la grande marche pour l’Europe isn’t to launch a ‘yes or no’ debate, especially as Brexit has caused an uncertain situation for the UK. “We want to reform the European project, by the French people and with the French people, through a democratic debate about the fundamentals. The question we’re asking is: what works today with Europe and what doesn’t? “Citizens have the impression that there is a distance between Europe and themselves and that it doesn’t have an impact on their daily lives. So we will be going to listen to people all over France, whatever their views, without judgment. We will try to understand, without trying to convince them. We will ask precise questions and open ones which allow people to express themselves. This will be a starting point for our plan for European reform.” Anyone wishing to take part should contact a local branch of LREM (see

The Connexion May 2018 Plan for libraries to open for longer LIBRARIES are set to open for longer after the culture minister called for more flexibility, with libraries open for 20% longer in large towns and 50 hours a week in those with 100,000 residents or more. The minister said it was not vital all 7,700 town libraries be open on Sundays but asked that all options be studied.

Linky meter fitting ‘should be halted’ A FORMER environment minister and a group of 92 associations have called for the Linky smart electricity meter rollout to be halted over health fears. Corinne Lepage, minister in 1995-97, threatened legal action to halt the rollout while the associations asked MPs to stop new installations.

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The Connexion No handshake, no citizenship REFUSING to shake the hand of a male prefecture official cost a woman her right to citizenship as she had not “assimilated French republican values”. The woman, from Algeria but married to a Frenchman, refused because of religious conviction. The prime minister then annulled her citizenship. An appeal to the Conseil d’Etat failed as it ruled she had not accepted French values.

Rillettes give ice cream tang DAIRY farmers near Le Mans found a novel way to make use of local heritage and help drain a milk surplus, with ice cream flavoured... with rillettes, the Sarthes meat paste speciality. Patrice Riauté and wife Cath­ ér­ine make Earl de Courbeton ice cream at Parcé-sur-Sarthe and said the rillettes flavour started as a joke. But they tried it and it worked as an aperitif.

High-speed in-flight wifi takes to the air HIGH-speed internet will soon be available in-flight with Brit­ ish Airways fitting a 75Mbit/s wifi system on all services by 2019. Air France and EasyJet are due to follow. Passengers can use social media or stream high-bandwidth content.

and State mistake ruined lives of Netflix Now TV go in EU 2,015 ‘stolen’ Réunion children open but not BBC by BRIAN McCULLOCH

IT WAS one of the France’s least known state mistakes but a policy of taking children from the island of Réunion and fostering them in rural France has finally been recognised with a ministerial apology for the psychological hurt and, in some cases, cruelty suffered. But it is not enough for some survivors of the 2,015 children, either orphans or from families unable to raise them, who between 1962 and 1984, were ‘resettled’ to help reduce rural population decline... and cut the rising poor population in the Indian Ocean island. A hostel in Creuse department was their first home before fostering and, now adults, they are known as les Enfants de la Creuse. Since being revealed about 20 years ago documentaries and books have detailed the psychological hurt the uprooting had on the children – they had no contact with their parents – as well as racist, psychological, physical and sexual abuse. While some integrated into French society, coping with the damage, others could not and there were many suicides. Parliament and previous overseas ministers apologised and now Overseas Minister Annick Girardin has said the “terrible history” had to be acknowledged and every­ thing possible done to help those affected. So far 150 of the 2,015 have come forward.

A TV film looked at the fate of the 2,015 children

Photo: Flair Productions / Public Sénat

News in brief

News 5

JeanPhilippe Jean-Marie wants a state apology One, Jean-Philippe Jean-Marie, head of Rasinn Anler association for those involved, called the apology “a rose with thorns. “While it is good our story is being acknowledged it still has thorns, which include a skating over of the role and responsibility of the state.” President Macron has admitted the state’s fault, but Mr Jean-Marie also wants him to give an excuse, an official apology from France, not just the government. “So far all the work has been from the bottom up. I would like to see it come from the top down,” he told Connexion. “I feel some financial contribution should also be considered. Some of us were liter­-

Doggy bags are just ‘not French,’ says hotel union

PLANS to oblige restaurants to offer doggy bags to all diners who do not finish their meals have been criticised by chefs who say the move will waste money on a ‘non-French’ idea. An MPs’ committee backed the plan to adopt the US practice to cut down on waste and will debate the issue this month but leading restaurateur Hubert Jan attacked the plan saying “it was not in the French culture”. Mr Jan, restaurants president of the hotel union UMIH, added: “It is rare to see this. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon world but when you see the state of restaurants there it is more understandable.” Mr Jan said French restaurants were aware of the need to cut waste, for commercial and environmental reasons, and tried to size portions appropriately. UMIH carried out a test in 2014 when it sent 10,000 boxes to members to see if they would be used. The result was a flop. But the restaurants Connexion spoke to were not worried. One Michelin star La Ribau­ dière in Bourg-Charente, Char­ ente said: “Clients, both foreign and French, have asked us to pack up uneaten portions, and it is never a problem. It is some-


ally slaves and we should be compensated.” Taken from his family as an 11-year-old, he was chosen by a Creuse family because of his strong arms and went straight to work in their boulangerie and looked after two handicapped children after school. Teachers never taught him how to read or write, something he only learned when he “escaped” to national service. He was reunited with his mother when he was 35 but by then relations between them were “broken”. “The report talks of the transplantation of the affected children. But a transplantation needs to be done with care, gently, with good soil, and not the way we were treated.”

Eu citizens can now use paid-for online TV and film services such as Netflix, Ama­ zon Prime, Now TV and Canal+ while visiting other European countries for holidays or work. An EU regulation removed the This content is not available in your country restrictions that stopped users accessing content such as films, games, music, sporting events or e-books. These are now available in any member state and service providers are banned from charging extra for EU-wide access. It allows people to use their paid-for services as if at home – similar to mobile phone roaming – on a limited time basis. However, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in the UK are not covered by the rules as their content is ‘free-to-air’ and the portability regulation applies only to subscription services. This means British residents visiting France can watch pre-recorded programming on an iPad etc but cannot watch live programmes without a satellite subscription or a VPN.

one who knows France

This comes from the Anglo-Saxon world but when you see the state of restaurants there it is more understandable Hubert Jan, restaurateur

thing which has always happened here and we are happy if clients are happy.” Bordeaux’s La Tupina, famous for hearty south-western dishes, also had no problem. Assist­ ant manager Fleur Dubarry said: “We have always done it – it is a bit délicat for a restaurant to refuse to help a client take food which they have paid for.” She added that better packaging due to the rise in cycle courier services for take-outs, made things easier now. “For some dishes it is a problem figuring how they will get out the door without it spilling everywhere, but we manage.”

Quimper, Brittany

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Bikers angry over new parking fees BIKE parking fees have been brought in for the first time in France, sparking protests from two-wheel users in several towns including hundreds of bikers who jammed a Paris suburb. Vincennes and nearby Char­en­ ton-le-Pont set the charges in April. Both claim that because there are now more two-wheelers on streets riders should pay for the space they take up. Biker protest group FFMC fears other towns could follow. Paris organiser Jean-Marc Bel­otti said: “When towns are trying to avoid traffic jams it is strange to target two-wheelers as they improve traffic flow. “Today our streets have many more scooters and almost all are former car drivers, so fewer cars on the streets. Two-wheelers should be promoted, not taxed.” New parking systems where drivers register number plates on the meter have allowed the towns to introduce charges instead of paper tickets. The fees are about a third of what car drivers pay. Residents in both towns backed imposing fees, telling journalists bikes and scooters too often block the pavements.

The Connexion

May 2018

France tourist numbers hit a record but expat holiday rentals feel pinch TOURISM bounced back in France in 2017 with visitor numbers up 5.6% to hit a record 429million nuitées (overnight stays) and 89m foreign visitors, new figures show. But while hotels fared well after being badly hit by the 2015 and 2016 terrorist attacks, smaller British-run gîtes and holiday rentals are reporting a poorer year this year with advance bookings greatly reduced. Looking at France overall in 2017, summer and winter seasons showed an increase with a 23m rise in overnight stays. Ski stations reported average figures up 1.3% (4.7% in the Pyrenees). Total visitor stays in hotels were up 4.9% and there was little sign of a Brexit sterling/euro effect as, despite numbers down 3.4%, Britons remained the No1 non-French market with 10.8m nights. Laurent Duc, president of the hotels section of industry federation UMIH, said he actually believed more Britons were coming to France. “It is like the yog­hurt date label; Britons are coming to France before the Brexit date as they do not know if it will be as good afterwards and if they will be able to travel as easily.” While hotels were recovering, he said tourism was being dented by the “lamentable” image that the current rash of strikes was giving. “People are making decisions now on summer holidays and

Photo: Graham Berry /

6 News

Holiday cottages in rural France often offer different activities they are not going to come if they fear problems. In hotels, we are also suffering from unfair competition from Airbnb, which is still not being properly regulated, and that affects all levels of the industry, from chambres d’hôtes up.” National statistics agency Insee said that, overall, visitors in 2017 were up 5.6% and foreign stays 6.8%. French residents were by far the largest group at 134.2m. Insee said the drop in British visitors may be due to them using ‘alternative


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accom­ modation providers’ or staying with family or friends. But it may have been the start of a bookings collapse as holiday rental owners who contacted Connexion about 2018 bookings said they were, in most cases, down. Lot reader Gaynor Bannister said she has rented out a cottage for 16 weeks a year for the past nine years and had generally been fully booked by the end of March... this year she has just six weeks booked despite five-star reviews. Even a

20% price cut had made no difference. Many readers and owners are in the same position – although some report solid bookings – and from speaking to owners and booking agencies, it seems several problems have hit at once, plus Brexit and the fall in the pound. Tim Parkes, of Simply Owners agency, pointed out that many owners using online sites, were no longer as visible as they used to be. “Owners Direct had about 70,000 properties on its site 18 months ago but now has 750,000 since it was sold to Expedia [where it is now part of HomeAway].” A key feature, which many owners admitted, was that their main business comes from UK clients and “fears they cannot afford a holiday”, “so many B&Bs now open by Brits in France” and “ferry prices becoming unaffordable” means less trade. Airbnb was also mentioned, but it has a different market, and it says it has seen a continuing rise in British visitor numbers, who are its No3 clients. News of the rail strikes – and fears of a spread – also had an effect. Gayle Roberts, of Nice Pebbles holiday rental firm, said: “Numbers collapsed once strikes were announced – down 70%. “No one wants to book if there will be an air control strike. That’s where hotels may gain as they may have on-site facilities and also easier cancellation policies.”

Cable car to ‘boost tourism and cut Marseille pollution’ MARSEILLE could join Grenoble, Toulon and Brest as it plans a cable car public transport system to boost tourist numbers at Notre-Dame de la Garde, the cathedral above the old port. Consultant engineers plan to have a system up and running by 2021 to increase visitor numbers to three million a year, up from two million now. Stretching 1km from the Vieux-Port near Fort Saint-Nicolas, it will climb 150m to the cathedral hilltop and Gérard Chenoz, deputy mayor for major projects, told Connexion: “Residents of the streets leading up to Notre-Dame de la Garde will benefit the most because of the reduction in the number of tourist buses.” He added: “Roads are saturated with two million visitors, but with the new system we should be able to have three million, boosting the economy and with less traffic and pollution.” Funded and run privately, it is thought the cost will be around €15million. Engineering studies

will take place in the next year to determine the route, with work to start in October 2019. Cable cars have come back into fashion in France since receiving a boost from former environment minister Ségolène Royal, who favoured development of electric public transport systems. The highest profile new one is in Brest, where a €19m link over the Penfeld river was a key part of an urban renewal project. Opened in 2016, it has had frequent failures, including doors in a cabin opening 75m over the river. Last August a cabin came off cables during tests and fell to the ground. No one was hurt. Grenoble’s urban cable car was built in 1934 to give access to the Bastille fort with views over the city and Alps. Toulon has had a system since 1959 that was built privately as a way for residents on Mont Faron to reach their homes quickly. Other cable cars are planned for Toulouse and Orléans while it is a regular topic in Nice.

OAP poachers Minister plans Crit-Air plan in appeal bird fine €300 on-spot Ile-de-France A GROUP of 13 over-70s poachers from Landes have lost an appeal in Pau against fines for hunting protected ortolan buntings and are to take the case to the Cour de Cassation, the highest appeal court. Their lawyer attacked ‘political and judicial hypocrisy’ that saw the men condemned for traditional hunting which, although banned since 1979, had long been tolerated with no charges before 2015 and an increase in wildlife campaigns.

cannabis fines

CANNABIS smokers will face reduced fines of €300 under new plans being put forward. At present, offenders face a fine of up to €3,750 and a year in jail but this is rarely done. The vast majority of those caught – more than 140,000 a year – escape with a warning. Justice minister Nicole Belloubet is pressing to change the law so that the fines can be handed out by the attending police officer.

ANTI-pollution Crit’Air stickers will be obligatory for drivers in much of Ile-de-France next year, with heavy polluting vehicles banned from the roads on certain peak days. Six coloured vignettes show pollution ratings and highrated vehicles will be banned inside the A86 ring road to create a low-emissions zone. Paris mairie will also ban diesel vehicles inside the capital in Olympic year 2024, and this may extend to Ile-de-France.

The Connexion May 2018 €35m cost keeps Mona Lisa in Paris HOPES of the Mona Lisa going on a three-month tour around France look doomed as the Louvre says it would cost €35million in lost revenue, transport and security. The Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, says 90% of visitors view La Joconde.

Old-look house completely heats itself Photo: /Groupe KZB

News in brief

Steven Kaszuba and Avenidor will build low-energy houses to suit client demand, but the testbed house has an Alsacien style

Leading chefs make free meals for poor MICHELIN star chefs are offering free gastronomic dinners made with unsold supermarket food and prepared by volunteers to poor families in Paris. Refettorio community kitchen in the Madeleine crypt has the support of chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Anne Sophie Pic.

Researchers’ cheese can soothe colitis A CHEESE has been created to help ease inflammation, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers at Inra in Rennes took propionic bacteria known both as anti-inflammatory and for making holes in cheese and got a Breton cheesemaker to use them in Emmental. Tests gave positive results and also helped chemotherapy induced pain.

THIS past winter saw France shivering but this Limousin house was at a comfortable 20C despite having no heating. It stays warm by recovering heat from internal sources such as the oven, TV, computer or even the bodies of people inside. Perfectly insulated, it comes after nine years of work by Steven Kaszuba of builders Avenidor to create an autonomous house using no bought-in energy and with no water or sewerage links. Built in Ahun, Creuse, to look like a traditional Alsace colombage house, it is a testbed of the low energy-use Passivhaus system and is the first to gain the Bâtiment Passif Premium label. Avenidor aims to project-manage builds in France and Europe. Mr Kaszuba said: “We have rethought everything, a bit like Tesla for cars. “My family is in the building trade in Creuse

and I wanted a house to cope with its fierce summer heat and its winter cold. It took six years of research then two years to pull together the idea along with materials, suppliers and processes. “In all it cost €2million but the total house build cost is €2,000/m2 including white goods.” A top-of-the-range house, it has high-insulation aerated concrete walls, double-flux heat pump, wastewater heat exchangers plus filtration plant and freshwater from an aquifer. Double-faced solar panels have a pond in front to take direct solar energy plus reflected light off the pond. Mr Kaszuba opted for ‘historic’ styling on the display house to avoid typical futurist eco-house styles. A Chinese client wanted an Alsacien-type house so blue was used as it is the colour of masculinity in China and is much used in Alsace.

News 7

Writer is prince of land twice as large as France A TOULOUSE writer on heraldry has been elected prince of a South American kingdom that is twice the size of France. Frédéric Luz, 54, is prince of Araucania and Patagonia, part of Chile and Argentina, and heads more than a million Mapuche tribespeople. The kingdom has existed since 1860 when the Mapuche people in Araucania declared a French explorer, Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, their king. They did so because of a prophecy, which said a white man would come to lead them. However, it has never been recognised as an independent country and de Tounens was later captured by Chilean soldiers and eventually sent back to France where he died at Tourtoirac, Dordogne in 1878. Today the Mapuches still fight for independence and the right to continue a traditional way of life as their territories in southern Chile at the southern tip of South America have shrunk

due to being taken over for mineral extraction and forestry for paper Mr Luz, who is now Prince Frédéric I, says his role is to keep the memory of the extraordinary Orélie-Antoine de Tounens alive. “The Mapuches feel the only time they had their own country was when he was their king and before he was sent into exile. “My other goal is to help the Mapuches fight to gain recognition from the United Nations.” There is a museum dedicated to the Kings of Araucania and Patagonia at Tourtoirac. The Mapuches have continued to fight for international recognition for their nation, and chosen a series of kings and princes to push their cause, with the last, Prince Antoine IV, dying in December 2017. Mr Luz was chosen from eight contenders after a secret ballot. A delegation of Mapuches from Puerto Montt in Chile was at the ceremony, held in Paris.

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8 Cinema

The Connexion May 2018

Thousands flock to the Riviera for May’s Cannes Film Festival but French towns are now seeing a tourism boost from being the location for a film... like Dunkirk, where visitor numbers rose 25% after the film

It has made people from as far as Hong Kong want to discover the region! It’s not just the Côte d’Azur which can tempt tourists

Cédric Klapisch, director speaks of Burgundy film location

Visitors are up 25% since Christopher Nolan’s Second World War epic Dunkirk was filmed in and around the town ringing at the town hall’s cinema unit. “Right now there is a casting in progress for the Amazon series, The Patriot, season two of Baron Noir, with Kad Merad was filmed here, and [pop star] Vianney has come to shoot his latest video clip. It’s a reward for us and we are proud of our success.” Burgundy has had the same experience, since Cédric Klapisch filmed Ce Qui Nous Lie (Back to Burgundy) there. During worldwide promotion of the wine and a family saga, Mr Klapisch said its impact was measurable: “It has made people from as far away as Hong Kong want to discover the region! It’s not just the Côte d’Azur which can tempt tourists.” He recognises that he was also publicising the setting: “Today, the vines where I decided to set up my camera have become a place of pilgrimage and walks, like Montmartre after Amélie. “It is always like that when a film has a strong geographical link. “The Trevi Fountain in Rome has remained inextricably linked to La Dolce Vita (1960) by Federico Fellini.” Other directors have chosen regional locations for their films: Normandie Nue by Philippe Le Guay; Xavier Beauvois in Nouvelle-Aquitaine for Les Gardiennes; Laurent Cantet’s L’Atelier at La Ciotat; Champagne-Ardenne for Hubert Charuel’s Petit Paysan; Gap for L’Apparition by Xavier Giannoli, and

Photo: UTV Motion Pictures and Nadiadwala Grandson

Bollywood film Tamasha made great use of stunning Corsican scenery “Normandy benefits from its proximity to Paris and the diversity of its landscapes – some dating back to the Middle Ages, it has a complete and coherent arsenal.” Mr Patry is also head of the company Normandie Images which created a free app for smartphones and tablets, called Séquences Normandes, giving details of all the places where films have been shot, and the film extracts that came from them. “Le Havre (2011) is the big winner, but two of the biggest local successes are independent productions: Les Souvenirs (2014) by Jean-Paul Rouve, set in Etretat, and Les Terriens (1999), by Ariane Doublet, at Fécamp. “This documentary drew 8,000 spectators to the site and was a box office No1, more popular than Taxi 2!” He regrets Steven Spielberg missed them out with the Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan (1998). “Not one scene in Normandy, though it was about the Normandy landings. There were no tax credits at that time. [Having them was] a determining factor which convinced Christopher Nolan.” Nolan’s 2017 film, Dunkirk, was shot on the Channel town’s beach over a

six-week period and it was a victory for local councillors, who saw tourist numbers go up by 25% after the film was released in France on July 19. Dunkirk deputy mayor Jean-Yves Frémont said: “Without state aid and the willingness of Christopher Nolan, who wanted his film to be historically authentic and without the battle we fought for six months to convince all those involved that we would make their life easy, nothing would have happened. “Since then all the Second World War tourist memorial projects have moved forward amazingly quickly.” Visitor numbers are up 60% to 60,000 since the reopening of the ‘Musée Dunkerque 1940 - Opération Dynamo’ after a €1million renovation. It has beaten previous records, doubling numbers. Tourists can also make land, sea and aerial trips as well as an underwater visit to see the shipwrecked remains of the boats sunk in June 1940. A four-star hotel with spa will open in 2019; one of the ‘little ships’ used for the Dunkirk evacuation has been turned into the Princess Elizabeth restaurant and the phone does not stop

TF1 series Le Tueur du Lac, at Annecy. Mr Klapisch said: “The cinema is a very Parisian milieu, we need to get a breath of fresh air. “We are keen to discover new places, exactly why the Americans invented the Western.” Production company Telfrance is behind two daily TV series: Plus Belle La Vie (France 3) at Marseille and TF1’s Demain nous Appartient at Sète – the first attracts 500,000 tourists a year, the second has generated €8m in investment, led to new studios being built and 150 jobs. TelFrance boss Guillaume de Men­ thon said: “These programmes work because they are based on real localities and people feel involved. There is money in the south and the infrastructure is there, which influences the choice of producers, as we cannot work in the same way in the Auvergne or in the Pays Basque.” Even BBC filmmakers are involved, with the crime series Death in Paradise filmed in Guadeloupe for seven seasons and due to begin an eighth. It generates €5million a year, which promotes the local heritage and makes it a popular destination for tourists who enjoy theme cruises. Translation of an article by Stéphanie Belpêche for the Journal du Dimanche, January 24, 2018 Translation by Jane Hanks

Photo: Fabien Malot/Telssete/TF1

MORE French and foreign films are being made on location in France and it has led to a rise in tourists as films allow people to travel via their images and encourages them to go on to visit the places where the films were set. Increased tax incentives have seen more films shot in France with the Centre National du Cinéma (CNC) saying that in 2015, when filmmakers received a 20% tax credit, cameras rolled for 5,013 days – the next year, after a 30% tax credit was brought in, this rose to 5,561 days. This has increased the attractiveness and competitiveness of filming in France and French companies are now less interested in going to Eastern Europe, Belgium or Luxem­ bourg to cut their costs, and foreign producers also now want to come. “The impact of the diffusion of images of our countryside across the world has had a considerable impact,” said CNC president Frédérique Bredin at an audiovisual industry event at the Paris Images Tradeshow. Regions and cities are delighted, as they see their skills appreciated, 20,000 jobs created in a year, and a growing visibility on the international stage. It is not just the Americans and the British who come on holiday to France. There are also Germans and Spanish, Chinese and Indians. Corsica has seen huge numbers of tourists from New Delhi since Imtiaz Ali’s Bollywood movie Tamasha was filmed in the island scrubland known as the maquis. Richard Patry, head of the national cinema federation FNCF and a Normandy cinema chain owner, said: “When a film is made, it has an immediate economic impact on the region, whether it is a full scale reconstruction of the D-Day landings or a short film with just four actors. “The film crew will pay for nights in a hotel, eating in a restaurant, and buying a coffee in the local bistrot. “They might even employ local craftsmen. The locals are flattered; the cinema has a very special reputation, and it has come to them.” Normandy has a €2million fund to help film production in the region, but he said: “It is not much compared to the Ile de France. The regions are in competition, we have to defend our own interests.

Photo: Warner Brothers

Landing a film deal promises big money for local tourism

Sète has new studios and 150 jobs thanks to TV’s Demain nous Appartient

The Connexion May 2018

News 9

Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hassselt/ AFP / ANP

Bare all for picnic and yoga in Paris ‘Men and women’ urinal passes test

Diners enjoy wine at the new Paris ‘O’naturel’ restaurant

NATURISTS plan a giant naked yoga session and naked picnic to mark Paris Naturism Day on June 24. It is just one of a series of events in the city as naturism sees a boom in popularity. The Association des Natur­istes de Paris has seen numbers grow since Paris created the Bois de Vincennes naturist zone and then when a nearby restaurant became naturist. Now it plans a naturist-only exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo gallery on May 5. It is a national trend, as France 4 Naturisme’s eight naturist campsites saw 2017 bookings up 6% with more under-40s who, it said, wanted a ‘free life, more in touch with nature’.

PUBLIC urinals which can be used by both men and women standing up could soon be installed in 140 towns after a successful trial in Bayonne. The toilets have a dispenser of free single-use urinette funnels for women so they do not have to undress. The Ti’Pi toilet does not use water and, with no water charges to pay, the mairie funded the cost of the urinettes and still won financially, said Jérome Clausse, of creators VesBatEco. Bayonne will continue using the unit and around 140 other

Health plan attacked over alcohol by BRIAN McCULLOCH

NEW health guidelines outlining 25 moves to reduce risks to health – covering the period from pre-conception to the end of life – have been criticised by doctors for not going far enough to reduce drinking. Nine senior public health doctors said proposals against alcohol-related diseases were “cosmetic” and that the government was “under the influence of the alcohol lobby.” Called the Stratégie nationale de santé, brings together health policies and social welfare fin­ ance, into a single policy from parliament down to local level. It has four key targets: health risks linked to pollutants and toxins, reducing exposure to infectious risks; tackling chronic diseases and their consequences, and adapting the health system to today’s “demographic, epidemiological and societal challenges”. Health professionals broadly welcomed the measures, especially as €400million of funding was promised over five years. Most of the proposals were preventive measures and some, such as vaccinating children against 11 diseases, had been previously announced. Doctors said others, such as spreading

the present 20 compulsory medical check-ups for undersixes across the first 18 years made sense. The check-up for 15 and 16 year olds, for example, will now include a full ear test and warnings about the dangers of loud music for hearing. Helping people give up smoking by allowing the full repayment of the cost of nicotine substitutes, something which has been proposed for 20 years, was also widely welcomed. Anti-tobacco prevention will include targeting residents of old-age homes who smoke, in a bid to reduce the number who end their lives carting oxygen bottles around with them. At the other end of the age range, women thinking of having a baby will be encouraged to ensure they take enough vitamin B9 (folic acid), as a lack has been linked to spinal deformities in one in 1,000 babies. Other measures include the confirmation that pharmacies will be able to vaccinate people against flu from 2019, after the success of trial programmes, and changes to the laws banning cannabis consumption. The later will remove the threat of prison and instead impose a system of fines linked with information on drug dan-

We can’t deny wine is alcohol... but there is a big difference between enjoying good wine and binge drinking Alain Graillot,

Académie du Vin de France gers. Another part of the plan will encourage people to take first aid classes, with a target of 80% of the population to be trained. The proposals warn about the dangers of alcohol addiction and the health risk and add that there is also a financial cost of €15billion a year (as against €20.4bn for obesity and €16.6bn for tobacco) along with 49,000 deaths a year linked to alcohol. Saying virtually all 17-yearolds had drunk alcohol, with 12% regular drinkers, it warned of the risks of excessive drinking and said there would be tolérance zéro for sales of alcohol and tobacco to minors plus

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To the guy in red on line B Friday 18h...

COMMUTERS are being given the chance to contact fellow travellers who catch their eye – via giant messages displayed on video screens in Toulouse Jeanne d’Arc Métro station. Using Sophie Calle’s artwork Transport Amoureux, travellers can post messages of 200 characters to be screened after being passed by a moderator.

Killer bacteria fear on Corsica olive groves OLIVE trees and wild oléastres in the maquis in Corsica have been infected for the first time with the Xylella fastidiosa bacteria that has already wiped out 15% of Italian olive production. It is spread by sap-sucking insects and controls could mean uprooting trees. Work is now being carried out to check if the bacteria is a killer strain.



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increased advertising aimed to get students to cut down. Health Secretary Agnès Buzyn, who had earlier called for strong action to cut alcohol consumption, refused to change the slogan ‘Alcohol abuse harms health’ for a stronger one, ‘Alcohol harms health’ as had been demanded by the nine doctors involved in general health and addiction. They wanted the harder slogan used on all drink labels and compared the 49,000 alcohollinked deaths with the 33,000 from gunshot wounds in the US and said: “The time for calls for moderation is long past.” In a press statement, they said

recent studies had shown for some people, even one glass of alcohol per day could have detrimental effects on health. They also called for calorie details on bottles of alcohol, including the equivalent in grams of sugar, banning adverts implying moderate consumption is acceptable, banning sale to minors and taxing the level of pure alcohol in a drink. The 1991 loi Evin already bans alcohol adverts on TV and in cinemas and regulates advertising on French websites but is hotly contested, especially with regard to festivals and other drinks firm events. Crozes-Hermitage winemaker Alain Graillot, president of wine defence group Académie du Vin de France, said it was a “storm in a teacup. We can’t deny wine is alcohol but there is a big difference between enjoying good wine and binge drinking, which is bad for the health. “Responsible drinking of wine is probably one of the best ways to prevent binge drinking as it carries a cultural aspect. “As an industry we do not promote consumption: we are banned from doing so by law and that is not a problem for me. France’s thousands of individual vignerons do no more than put their terroir in a glass for the pleasure it brings.”

towns have expressed interest. Mr Clausse said the firm was now fine-tuning a system of mobile urinals on trailers for use at festivals and other gatherings. There would be separate trailers for men and women “It is an alternative to chemical toilets which are bad for the environment and soon start to smell and look terrible,” he said. The system does not need a sewer link as a flexible 1,000litre reservoir, enough for the daily needs of 3,000 people, can easily be emptied by pump into a tanker for disposal.


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Designer Galliano rejects using real fur

CRITICS have condemned a group of 45 Creuse farmers who have set up a ‘fattening-up farm’ capable of holding up to 1,000 cattle. They insist the size of the site means it is in the “farm factory” category, and say that these kinds of models “cannot possibly work with the environment or the animals’ well being”.

fashion designer John Galliano will no longer use real animal fur in his designs after being persuaded by animal welfare association PETA. Other high-profile names and brands have also recently renounced real fur, including Gucci, Ver­sace, Michael Kors, H&M, Zara, and Gap.

Airport launches new UK-France routes Jet2 is expanding its summer services to Bergerac in Dordogne with a new weekly service to Manchester – along with the one to Leeds Bradford – joined by one to Birmingham from summer 2019. The airline will have Saturday flights from Manchester and Leeds Bradford this summer and fares on the new Birmingham service will start at £43 and have the advantage of a 22kg baggage allowance.

Photo: Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick

Cycling mourns Michael Goolaerts

Satisfied ‘customer’ praises police cells

FACTORY workers narrowly escaped death when a dummy bomb crashed through the roof after falling off a Mirage jet on a training exercise.

Two workers were slightly hurt on the assembly line as the bomb – weighing just 16kg instead of the 250kg of a real munition shattered on the floor beside them in the factory near Montargis, Loiret. An inquiry has been opened.

Gendarmes poke fun at missing indicators GENDARMES have warned of ‘disappearing indicators’ in Pyrénées-Orientales in a fun bid to remind people of the

Patients foot more of their medical bills The cost of healthcare is rising, with adults in France spending an average of €1,125 on their medical bills in 2017, a report has found. After state health insurance has been paid, people are paying 53% of the remaining bill before any supplementary health insurance kicks in, the study for insurance broker Verspieren found.

dangers of the dangers caused. They ‘called for witnesses to the disappearance’ in a Face­ book post and warned failing to indicate faced a fine of €22 and three licence points lost.

Orange alert over budget phone

USERS of the Orange budget flip phone Hapi 30 have been warned to stop using them as the radiation levels are too high in certain situations. Orange had offered the phones for €1 as part of a promotion. It has asked users to swap for a new version at one of its shops.

Hypothermia ‘saved heart attack man’

Border checks to stay for six more months A CONTINUING terror threat has seen France maintain border checks for a further six months despite being in the Schengen passport-free zone. The move follows the deadly attack in a Trèbes supermarket where an attacker killed four people and injured 16 others before being shot dead.

One of the largest Lego Eiffel Towers ever built has been drawing crowds to Ancy-leFranc Renaissance chateau in Burgundy as the centrepiece of a giant exhibition of model items made with the bricks. The 5.3m high tower took four months to design and six hours to build. It is made of 160,000 Lego bricks. Builder David Constant, from Yonne – who constructed most of the models on show – said there was no glue or other supports keeping the tower together. He said that it was based, like the real one, on the laws of physics and mathematics and was perfectly stable... though well protected by security screens. Ancy-le-Franc château has 10 rooms of Lego railways, House of Commons, Tower Bridge, Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, Star Wars vessels, motorbikes and Formula 1 GP cars. All in all, there are 500 models, made with two million bricks. The chateau is noted for its square design and gardens.

A computer bug has been blamed for paralysing service at 8,500 La Poste offices across France for several hours, leaving millions of customers without service. The glitch had halted all transactions at counters meaning customers could not send registered letters, deposit or withdraw money or even buy envelopes or parcels.

Two hurt as dummy bomb falls off jet

The world of cycling was left in shock by the death of Michael Goolaerts, who suffered a heart-attack and crashed in the Paris-Roubaix race. The 23-year-old rider for the Vérandas Willems-Crelan team fell on the second set of cobbles during the one-day classic in northern France.

Lego Eiffel Tower is star of model show

Computer bug leaves La Poste paralysed

A man who spent the night in custody at a police station in Metz, Lorraine, posted a funny review on Google Maps, saying “he cannot wait to go back”. Police replied with a gentle warning: “We welcome and greatly appreciate [this man’s] satisfaction. But, as good things are often better when they are rare, we advise him to not repeat this experience.”

The Connexion May 2018

Friends reunited after 74 years TWO friends and former teaching colleagues from Brittany who lost touch after World War II have found each other in the same care home, 74 years after they last spoke. Pierre Le Calvez and Joseph Porrot, both 95, are residents of the same home in Plérin, near Saint-Brieuc (Côtes-d’Armor, Brittany). Pierre arrived first, and was pleasantly surprised to see his old friend move in. He said: “When you arrived, I heard your name and I saw you come in. You haven’t changed, Joseph! Your face looks exactly the same.” The two men first met in the 1940s, when they were both student teachers at a school in Saint-Brieuc, having trained at the same agricultural school in Rennes. During World War II, both men witnessed the bombing of a nearby airfield in 1944, and the school principal advised all students and teachers to go home. Joseph walked back to Pontivy (Morbihan), while Pierre rode his bike back to Paimpol (Côtes-d’Armor). After the war, the duo’s careers took them in separate directions and they lost touch – until now.

DOCTORS say that killer hypothermia may have saved the life of a man who was resuscitated 18 hours after suffering a heart attack. The 53-year-old had been found in freezing temperatures with his body at 22C instead of 37C. It is thought this protected him by slowing down organs allowing doctors to revive him at hospital in Montpellier. Doctors said they were stupefied by the ‘extraordinary case’.

Refugees get Chirac hand-me-downs

OLD clothes no longer worn by former president Jacques Chirac are being worn by refugees in Paris after he donated a large number of suitable items, including warm clothes, pullovers and suits. Mr Chirac was answering an appeal from photographer and filmmaker Yann ArthusBertrand who had been con-

tacted by nuns from a shelter at Porte de la Chapelle saying they needed warm clothing. He asked all his contacts and Fondation Chirac responded with a car full of clothes.

Historic sites in line for lottery cash boost

Photo: Jérémie MOCHE

Backlash against ‘fattening-up’ farm

Photo: Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc

10 News in brief

Italian theatre in Guéret, Creuse will get vital work MANY of France’s crumbling heritage sites will be saved by a lottery and scratchcard game that could raise up to €20million for urgent work. The €15 tickets for Fondation du Patrimoine go on sale in September with a €10m prize. The aim is to help 250 projects. Ranging from the chateau at Château-Thierry in Aisne to the railway turntable at Montabon in Sarthe and the Italian Theatre in Guéret, Creuse, the full list will be revealed by President Macron in mid-May.

Cable cars snapped up within 48 hours

A SKI resort’s call for buyers to take its 72 egg-style télécabines saw them all being snapped up within 24 hours. Vaujany near Alpe d’Huez wanted to get rid of the cars, which date from 1987, as it is starting a €4million renovation.

Four-tusked ‘jumbo’ discovered A FOSSIL mastodon skull with four tusks discovered during excavation work at L’Isle-en-Dodon near Toulouse could be a first in France as it may be from an ancestor of the mammoth and elephant, an animal previously not thought to be in this part of the world. The 13million-year-old skull is 1.6m long and intact. It has still to be identified but scientists believe it is from a Gomphotherium.

Town sells holiday camp chateau A CHATEAU that gave holidays to thousands of suburban Paris children is being sold by auction... with the price starting at €415,740 (but expected to go much higher). Only a few kilometres from the Futuroscope theme park in Vienne, Chincé Château at Jaunay-Marigny near Poitiers has 25-bedrooms and its earliest sections date to the 15th century. Owned by Seine-Saint-Denis town Dugny, the 1,995m2 chateau and 69,000m2 of grounds was a colonie de vacances for thousands of Paris children from the 1960s to 1990s and will be sold on the Agorastore site, which auctions off state-owned goods, in June.

The Connexion May 2018

Message in a Saint-Emilion bottle for Sting

A FRENCH D-Day historian has been jailed for 364 days for stealing and selling on dead US airmen’s ID ‘dog tags’ and other items belonging to them. Antonin DeHays, from Cotentin, Normandy, was called a ‘grave robber’ at his trial in Maryland, US, for stealing relics from the Nation­al Archives where he was carrying out research.

WEARING the robes of the Saint-Emilion Jurade, Sting was guest of honour at the grand cru Château Monlot as it inaugurated new facilities after five years of improvements. He was initiated into the brotherhood by leader Hubert de Bouärd (pictured). Sting is flanked by wife Trudie Styler and Château Monlot owner Zhao Wei. He thanked the Jurade with an acoustic version of Message in a Bottle, saying his passions in life were Trudie, music and wine. The original Jurade de SaintEmilion was founded by King John ‘Lackland’ (known from the Robin Hood tales) in 1199, when Aquitaine was under English control. It granted local notables called jurats, legal and political rights and they ran the town and supervised production of fine wines – its marque à feu du vinetier (vintner’s

A JOKE cigarette lighter has won a Riviera funeral home unexpected fame for its grim message ‘You smoke? Thanks... see you soon!’ Pompes Funèbres des Oliviers in Nice said the lighters were a gift to staff and not advertising – but a tweet highlighting the message was retweeted tens of thousands of times.

4.5m are illiterate in France, says writer MILLIONS of people cannot read basic instructions or even

road signs with a former CGT union leader saying in a book that illiteracy is still widespread despite decades of work nationally and it being declared a government priority in 2013. Thierry Lepaon says in Osons Vaincre l’Illettrisme! that some of the 4.5m illiterates tell people they have ‘forgotten glasses’ if they have to read a menu.

June Your practical Q A &

brand) was stamped on the barrels. English merchants had priority to buy the wines. It lasted until the Revolution, before the modern version was revived by winegrowers in 1948 as a wine brotherhood which serves as ambassadors for the wine and aims to promote authenticity and quality. It also organises spring and

autumn festivals when the Jurade parade in their medieval-style robes. Ms Wei bought 400-year-old Château Monlot, east of Bordeaux, in 2011 for an estimated €4-5m. It is one of some 17 Gironde chateaux with Chinese owners. Sting lives in Tuscany, where he makes his own wine.

Tram drivers protest over death verdict

The passenger’s family had also blamed tram manufacturer, Alstom, for its ‘too-violent’ braking system but the court held only the driver to blame.

TRAM drivers in Nice walked out on strike after hearing an ex-colleague driver had been given a six-month suspended jail term for manslaughter. He had been accused after an elderly man died when the driver braked suddenly.

Anne de Bretagne gold relic recovered A PRICELESS gold reliquary that once held the heart of Anne de Bretagne has been recovered and two men arrested after it was stolen from the Musée Dobrée in Nantes along with a gold statuette and coins. The case is a masterpiece of goldsmithing and was made to hold her heart after she died in 1514. As French queen she was buried at Saint-Denis but asked that her heart stay in Nantes.

Grandad’s recipe is best burger in France

Moneycorp is recruiting! As a thriving foreign exchange and international payments business with an excellent reputation, moneycorp is now looking for partnerships with well-connected, enthusiastic, self-employed individuals based in France, to become foreign exchange and international payments brand ambassadors in their business area to help support moneycorp’s continued international expansion. With focus in Normandy, Brittany, Pays de La Loire, Paris, Cote D’Azur, The Alps and Grand Est, moneycorp is offering generous commission packages to those keen to introduce and expand their network into the international payments space.

get in touch by emailing or calling the London Head Office on +44 (0) 207 828 7000

A RECIPE from his grandad has won the Coupe de France du Burger for chef-pâtissier Nicolas Willaume who runs a food truck at Codolet and Roquemaure, in Gard. Called Le Child­hood, the beef patty is now on the truck menu for €12 with frites. It has mushroom fondue, Beaufort cheese, garlic, parsley and nuts baked on to the bread bun.

Syria leader to lose Légion d’Honneur SYRIAN president Bashar alAssad is to be stripped of the Légion d’Honneur for using chemical weapons on his own people and setting up a chemicals weapons programme. The Elysée confirmed the move after France, the UK and the US bombed Syrian sites.

n Does the state still fund defective carte vitale?? French lessons for new n I lost sight in one eye. arrivals to help integration? Do I have to report this in order to continue to drive? n Who can I complain to about my Cpam, which nCan Pacs couple survivor has failed to replace a get extra UK pension?

PLUS The new stricter

Contrôle technique in detail

+ I built my house for only €3,000 (materials included!)

Vintage vélos

Photo: Christophe Gagneux

Funeral home’s dark humour on lighters

Photo: ©Anne Lanta

Historian jailed for D-Day dog tag thefts

News in brief 11

Retro riding in Loire, plus many more summer events to enjoy

INTERVIEW: Blogger and author David Lebovitz on his Parisian life + History: the extraordinary life of writer and politician André Malraux + Art: Brushstrokes of Brittany + Superb gardens to visit in June


Delicious dishes by Stéphane Reynaud + Tickled pink by Limousin pommes These and many more practical tips and topics about life in France. Don’t miss out on a copy:

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12 Tradition

The Connexion By using the millstone, the Moulin de Bobina gives flour with more nutritional value and fibre than modern drum mills

From field to flour... a Dordogne farmer has built his own mill marrying both old and new technology, as Jane Hanks finds out A Dordogne farmer has fulfilled his dream of creating his own mill to grind the grain he grows in his fields. Frédéric Pradeau, of St-Martin-deRibérac, built the Moulin de Bobina mill and says it is unique in France as it combines the best of traditional knowledge and methods and modern technology. It uses old millstones but runs on electricity from solar panels. Mr Pradeau searched across France for parts from old mills and says key elements are more than 70 years old. He told Connexion: “I am very proud of my mill. It took me five years to put it together, with help from experts. You have to be a little bit mechanically minded but, above all, passionate to do something like this.” Mr Pradeau does not come from an agricultural family, but had dreamed of being a farmer since he was a boy. He bought his 80-hectare farm 15 years ago and concentrated on cereals, experimenting with different varieties. From the start, the farm was 100% organic and he grows wheat, buckwheat and spelt. For years he sold his wheat to a local miller but always wanted to be able to look after his product from field to flour. Now he can do that.

Frédéric Pradeau

On the breadline with organic farmer-turned-modern-miller One of the most important factors for him was finding and using an authentic stone for the mill. “Most mills nowadays use a cylinder mechanism, which is much harsher in its action than a millstone and

Millstones in his mills are up to 70 years old....and are driven by solar power

loses most of the best elements of the grain. The advantage of stoneground flour is that it keeps its nutritional value and tastes better. “There are more fibres and I also keep the wheat germ. This is the most important part of the wheat kernel and is the part which would sprout into a new plant if it was not ground into flour. It adds a great deal of flavour as well as vitamins, minerals and protein.” Mr Pradeau is particularly proud of his millstones, which came from the La Ferté-sous-Jouarre quarry in Seine-et-Marne, which was famous worldwide for its millstones. They were produced there for at least five centuries up until 1950, when metal cylinder mills came into vogue. Researchers believe at least a million millstones were exported from La Ferté across France and Europe, and as far as Australia and the US – with 5,130 to the US in 1901.

In the middle of the 19th century 4,000 people worked in the industry. The siliceous limestone was perfect for grinding wheat. It was hard and ground the wheat without tainting it with stone powder. Now, with the revival of organic farming these stones are being brought back into action, not only at Mr Pradeau’s mill but also in northern Italy and the US. Mr Pradeau sees part of the satisfaction of grinding his own flour as knowing exactly what goes into it, and what does not: “I know that in my flour there are no additives and no pesticide residues. “I think the quality of the flour used today is responsible for a lot of the problems we hear about people becoming gluten intolerant.” Mr Pradeau says anyone with coeliac disease can never eat gluten but those with a gluten intolerance could try bread made with traditionally ground

33,000 bakeries are ‘under threat’

The traditional village bakery is under threat across France, with bakers’ leaders pointing the finger at the rise of supermarket baking. Paris baker Dominique An­ract, president of the Conféd­ér­ation Nationale de la Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Fran­ çaise, said competition from modern out-of-town providers and supermarkets was leading to worrying levels of bankruptcy for small, local bakers: “A baker is more than a shop, it provides a social contact for people and can be vital for elderly people who live on their own. “Even in my bakery, La Pompadour in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, some people come in up to three times a day for fresh bread to serve at each meal.

May 2018

“In rural areas, a baker will go out in his van when the shop is closed to deliver bread to outlying farms and isolated houses – and that service will go if the village baker goes. “We lobbied mayors at the recent national mayors’ congress to urge them to stop giving planning permission to new bakeries and to support existing ones.” Mr Anract was elected presi-

People come in up to three times a day for fresh bread Dominique Anract Paris baker

dent last June and is determined to make the voice of the traditional baker heard. In Paris the group took court action against minisupermarkets that, he said are another threat: “In the past 10 years the numbers of these shops has more than doubled from 320 to 670 in the capital. “Many do not adhere to the rules that commerces selling bread must have one day a week where they do not do so, and we are challenging that. “Some bakers would like to be allowed to bake every day, but the majority of my members – we represent 33,000 bakeries in France, with 12 million customers through our doors every day – want to have at least one day off a week to be with their family and rest from

what is already a job with unsocial hours.” He accepts bread consumption has fallen, but says bakers are adapting to new tastes and introducing new breads. One of the many advantages of bread from local bakers is that each one produces its own flavours: “So-called industrial bread is all the same, whereas a baguette from my baker will not be the same as my neighbour’s. “Different ovens, rising times, flour and sizes all mean we each have our own bread, special to us. You can trace all the ingredients and often they are local. “My flour, for example, comes from wheat grown in the Paris basin. Frozen dough baked up in a supermarket could come from anywhere.”

flour and traditional baking methods: “If the flour has been ground to keep all its nutritional elements, and if it is then allowed a long period in which to rise, that will break down the gluten and should be digestible.” He grows old cereals such as spelt and buckwheat but says more modern strains produce better flour and claims they are perfectly healthy if treated with respect: “My most recent wheat strains are around 10 to 15 years old and they make good flour. “The interest for me is to produce a genuine product which I can follow through each stage.” The Moulin de Bobina began production eight months ago. It turns about once a week and produces a tonne in one day. At present he only sells his flours in 25kg sacks to bakers but hopes to start selling to the general public later this year, starting off in a delicatessen in nearby Ribérac.

When is a bakery not a boulangerie? Boulangerie – a shop can only be called a ‘boulangerie’ by law if bread is made from start to finish on the premises and has not been frozen at any stage of its production. Anyone caught breaking this rule faces two years in prison and/or a fine of up to €37,500 Artisanale – All boulangeries can call themselves ‘artisanale’ because they make their own bread. Weight – there are no rules governing the weight of breads and practices differ according to region. In the Paris area a baguette is usually 250g and a flute is 200g, but in Seine-Maritime, it is the opposite. In 1981, there was a recommendation to introduce a national standard, but this

was never taken up and regions continue to follow their own traditions. Prices – Each baker is free to set his own price. Labels – there are strict rules on how bread is labelled. For each different category of bread sold in a bakery, there must be a sign which is at least 15cm long and 2.5cm high. It must show the name of the bread, its weight and the price per loaf, or per kilo depending on how it is sold Ingredients – A boulangerie does not have to label the ingredients used in the bread. The baker’s only duty is to label any possible allergens. It is up to the miller to label the flour that they use, which may or may not contain additives.

May 2018

Thanks to wine, a bastide in true French style was built... in Sussex Aquitaine’s fortified medieval ‘new towns’ called bastides are well known but Michael Delahaye discovers one in Britain and it has a singular link with the French originals

Fortified... both Winchelsea, above, and Monpazier were built to withstand attack and with streets ‘for two carts to pass’

Seven centuries later, the town today is still recognisably a bastide, despite French and Spanish attacks and even being hit by Hitler’s V-1 flying bombs during the Second World War. Most of its surviving houses are 17th century or later, but the medieval planners’ specifications are still evi­ dent: “Thirty-nine quarters” with the main streets between them being “wide enough for two carts to pass”. Similarities have been drawn with Monségur and Talmont in Gironde but, if Winchelsea has a natural twin,

Photo: Rainard CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo: © Michael Delahaye

Photo: Andy Simpson

Built on a grid... straight and wide streets characterise Winchelsea, above, and Monpazier although the English town has been widely rebuilt

it is that most archetypical of bastides, Monpazier in Dordogne. Apart from the distinctive urban grid, both are built on a raised plateau and protected on three sides by embankments once topped by walls and furrowed with defensive ditches. Tellingly, Edward founded Winchelsea (1288) just four years after Monpazier (1284) and visited both. His Winchelsea visit was nearly the death of him. As he was inspecting the northern defences, his startled horse jumped the parapet. The collec­ Photo: Rainard CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo: © Michael Delahaye

THE town is called Winchelsea and it is in the ‘département’ of Sussex. How and why a French bastide came to be built on England’s south coast is a tale of wine and warfare – and proof, if needed, that Brits and their Gallic neighbours are historically two branches of the same family. ‘Old’ Winchelsea was an ancient set­ tlement on a shingle spit in Rye Bay that was devastated by storms in the late 1200s. It had to be relocated and a nearby promontory of land seemed perfect, but it required the king’s per­ mission to move there. That king was Edward I, king of England and, like his Plantagenet pre­ decessors, Duke of Aquitaine so ruler of roughly a third of modern France. He was in the middle of establishing a string of new settlements across his French domain. These ‘bastides’ were the ‘new towns’ of the Middle Ages intended to corral the local popula­ tions and mark the border between the rival English and French crowns. Edward agreed to the new Winchel­ sea, laid out à la française as a typ­ical bastide: a gridiron of plots across the 150-acre site with broad streets and a central marketplace. After all, it worked in Aquitaine. Winchelsea had both strategic and commercial importance for Edward. Apart from furnishing his navy with ships and sailors (its contribution to the Cinque Ports confederation), it was one of the main ports for bring­ ing in French wine. The Norman blood of the English ruling class may have been diluted over the generations but not their taste for Gascon Red. In the early 1300s, the equivalent of four and a half million present-day bottles were shipped each season from Bordeaux to Winchelsea.

Heritage 13 Photo: Court Hall Museum, Winchelsea

The Connexion

Arches... John Spencer’s cellar, left, in Winchelsea harks back to the Place des Cornières, Monpazier

tive gasp of horror gave way to a sigh of relief when, a minute later, horse and rider reappeared through the nearby town gate. Today the place is known as King’s Leap. An original feature of the town, and a tourist attraction in itself, is its net­ work of cellars – around 50 of them. Many, with their arches and vaulting, could pass for underground crypts. Retired surgeon John Spencer, the owner of Rookery Cottage, showed me his cellar. As we entered from the street, he said it was part of a previous property dating from around 1300. He points to the quality of the stone­ work but it is not known why there are so many cellars and why so ornate. The best guess is they were for stor­ ing the Gascon Red in a cool, constant temperature prior to distribution. It would have been a huge effort to haul the barrels up from the river port below, but the cellars, locked and below ground, would have been more secure than any dockside warehouse. Historians suggest an additional use: marketing and tasting. The wine had to be sold on quickly. In days before sealed glass bottles, the light young ‘clairet’ (corrupted to ‘claret’ by the English) lasted barely a year and was drawn straight from barrel to jug. Buyers could sample the wines in a tavern-like mood with an ecclesiasti­ cal twist – and, in some cases, even a deflected ray of sunshine via a lightwell. Casks would be stacked at the back of the cellar with the tasting area in the front. As I stand in John Spencer’s subtly lit undercroft, it is not hard to picture the franglais flowing between vintner and customers as freely as the wine. But there is a sting in the tale. Within four decades of New Winchelsea’s completion in the 1290s, the entente conviviale was shattered by the Hundred Years War. The former traders became raiders and the town

was nearly wiped off the map by a succession of French attacks, with occasional help from the Spanish. Scores of the inhabitants were butchered – an act duly reciprocated across the Channel – and their houses torched. The magnificent Church of St Thomas the Martyr still dominates the town but it is half the building it was. Conceived on a cathedral scale, its nave and transepts have vanished. Whether the result of war, neglect, plague or plunder, nobody can be sure. But, as so often, its stones – orig­ inally from Caen in Normandy – were carted off for recycling elsewhere. These days Winchelsea is home to around 600, with a high proportion of comfortably-off retirees. Many of the houses are second homes. The town is assiduously conserved by its own municipal corporation – which claims to be the only one in the country to have survived 19th century reforms. Its mayors, dating back to the founding monarch Edward I, are list­ ed in the Court Hall Museum, the new incumbent being sworn in every Easter Monday in a ceremony little changed since the 13th century. And, for a third time, the French are back – as tourists bearing nothing more lethal than cameras. My own visit, as an English-born French resi­ dent, gave an unexpected revelation. Looking through the 1292 Rent Roll, I found that a vanishingly distant forebear, Henry de la Haye, had been one of New Winchelsea’s founding residents. The family had crossed from Normandy in 1066. So, nearly 1,000 years later, I stood on the site of Henry’s long-gone house on Fifth Highway in the Twenty-third Quarter, savouring the ties that bind. This article owes much to historical research by David and Barbara Martin and Stephen Alsford

14 Comment Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning

French-Algerian journalist who specialises in French politics and the Arab world. Her articles feature in the French national press as well as internationally. From this edition, she will be a regular columnist in The Connexion.

Summer of misery won’t stop Macron’s ‘Maggie Moment’ EVERY conservative French president dreams of a Maggie Thatcher Moment – a time when they might finally achieve what Britain’s Iron Lady did in the 1980s. This would mean smashing the power of the unions, and generally turning France into a tougher, more competitive country. Previous right-wing heads of state, and most recently Nicolas Sarkozy, failed miserably. They had the sound bites (Sarko’s was ‘Work harder to earn more’) but never the guts to stand up to organised labour. Pledged reforms were withdrawn at the first sign of industrial action, while street demonstrations up to and including rioting always terrified ministers. How odd, then, that it is now a mild-mannered independent who is already succeeding where the Gaullists never could. Emmanuel Macron is not just pontificating but – in the face of some of the largest protests in years – is actually starting to transform France. Strikes last September did not stop him passing laws that make it easier for firms to hire and fire. Now he is up against workers at SNCF, France’s state-owned railway, in a dispute being compared to Thatcher’s era-defining tussle with UK coal miners in the mid-80s. Mr Macron sees no reason why a company with €46.6billion of debt should allow workers such benefits as automatic annual pay rises, protection from dismissal, retirement as early as 52, and free tickets for close family. He is determined to get rid of cushy employment contracts to open SNCF to competition from other countries in 2023, in line with new European Union requirements. The difference is that Macron, unlike Thatcher, is being thoroughly nonconfrontational about it all. He is well aware that less than 12% of France’s workforce is unionised, and that there is little appetite for a whole summer of disruption. Just as pertinently, polls show the majority of people do not want him to back down over SNCF. IFOP research in April put the pro-reform figure at 62% nationally, and as high as 90% among Mr Macron’s LREM voters. Commuters in and around cities like

The Connexion May 2018

Paris are sick and tired of overcrowded and unpunctual trains, and realise the network needs urgent overhaul. Millions of people are equally frustrated as they prepare for holidays, especially during the sacrosanct August break, when the railways are at their busiest. Here, anger caused by weeks of cancellations is thus far more likely to play in Mr Macron’s favour. Beyond this, the strikes are also highlighting how the entire nature of work is changing, with many now able to get a lot done at home with their laptops instead of heading off on public transport. The proliferation of ‘co-working’ spaces close to where people live has led to the decidedly Anglo-Saxon expression entering the French language. Organising vast movements into an effective political tool is becoming far harder, while the governments who oppose the workers are also Mr Macron less easy to define is already as unfeeling reactionaries. reaping Yes, Mr Macron spent some time as the kind of a former merchant results that banker, but there is far more very little evidence he is cultivating his pugnacious own fortune, as politicians predecessors were prone to do. only ever He does not own fantasised any property, is never seen at flash about restaurants with captains of industry, and spends most of his leisure hours out walking or cycling with his wife, Brigitte. Crucially, the media is not personalising his dealings with the unions, as British newspapers and TV stations did in the 80s, when Mrs Thatcher was pitched against miners’ leader Arthur Scargill. While Macron of course has enemies, there is nothing like the level of hatred being directed at him as Thatcher endured throughout her career. There will be more chaos and plenty of pain over the next few months – and not just on the railways – but Macron is already reaping the kind of results that far more pugnacious politicians only ever fantasised about.

Simon Heffer, the renowned political commentator and historian, turns his gaze to French politics Simon Heffer is also a columnist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs


e reach the first anniversary of Emmanuel Macron’s election with him apparently trying to undo the economic damage done to France by the Fourth and Fifth republics: which means, above all, breaking the power of the trade unions. A land that has reviled “AngloSaxon economics” seems, stealthily, to be embracing them as the means to tackle France’s debt problem. Fifty billion euros of that debt is owed by the SNCF, the state-controlled railway: but President Macron has said that in return for accepting certain reforms – including the loss of extravagant perks such as free travel for life for railway workers and their families – the government will write off the debt. That is bad economics – the existing debt will become a burden on the French taxpayer, and the SNCF will doubtless accrue a new one – but at least it is a start. It is, though, only a start. Those prepared militantly to support outdated working practices are a small minority. Commentators assert that the numbers protesting have fallen since the SNCF began a threemonth programme of strikes. The strike – which will, with summer, increasingly hit France’s economically vital tourist trade – has been mirrored in universities. With the 50th anniversary of les événements of 1968, some teenage radicals at the Sorbonne and elsewhere seem to have gone back in time. They, too, try to defend a system without logic and that wastes a vast amount of taxpayers’ money, and which M Macron hopes to reform. At the moment, irrespective of merit or ability, French students can go to whichever university they wish. Many are unequal to the course they choose and drop out, which accounts for much of the waste. But it also squanders France’s human capital by not using criteria adopted by other developed countries to match individuals with a course or training that will maximize their potential. And it explains why French universities languish in the lower reaches of international league tables. M Macron is to be applauded for a reform that will not only help the economy and boost individual accomplishment and prosperity, but which is also likely to improve the standing and reputation of France’s tertiary education. Given the militant students have no industrial clout, it will be a matter of supreme indifference to most French whether they attend their lectures or not and a surprise if M Macron does not prevail. But the cheminots of the SNCF are another matter. They are fighting not merely for their own privileges, but are the advance guard

Strikes will continue until public mood truly changes

of the whole French labour movement in confronting M Macron’s determination to bring industrial practices into the 21st century. The argument that enthusiasm among the cheminots for the strike programme is waning awaits substantiation by events. And so, too, does the claim by some supporters that he is a French Margaret Thatcher. As the joke goes, “Senator, I knew Margaret Thatcher. And M Macron is no Margaret Thatcher.” When Mrs Thatcher faced down the National Union of Mineworkers in 1984-85 she had a moment such as M Macron hopes to engineer by

Protests will drag on until a resolution that both sides will present as a victory. Therefore it will change little...

taking on the cheminots. In Britain thereafter strike action became infrequent – not just because other unions became wary of striking, but because the public mood in Britain was changing. The country was moving out of heavy industry and towards more highly-skilled employment, and towards the service industries: it was becoming more middle class in fact and in outlook. And so any strike knew it started with a huge lack of public support, and risked losing what little it did have. Anyone who lived through the 1980s in Britain knows France has not yet reached that moment. Mrs

Thatcher set out to break a consensus in which government and management were deferential to the workers, and which had lasted for 35 years since the war. The cast of mind M Macron has to break has lasted nearly 75 years, since the end of the occupation; and his style of government since he was elected has done little to smooth his path. Mrs Thatcher took on the miners in her second term in office, after years of persuading the public that reform had to happen and after years of planning to ensure the strike would not bring Britain to a standstill. M Macron talks in vague, pseudo-philosophical terms about what he wants to do; but he does so from a position of neo-monarchical disengagement. His public relations skills – something the Thatcher government excelled at – are at best third rate; with the result that a recent poll says that 52 per cent of French people regret he was elected. My prediction is that the SNCF strike will drag on until a resolution that both sides will present as a victory. Therefore it will change little. Nicolas Sarkozy tried, too, to reform the French economy in his first year in office, and gave up when he realised the French public could not stomach the grief entailed, and would make life hard for him. Like Sarko, and unlike Mrs Thatcher, M Macron is not ideological: and, like Sarko, his lack of conviction will make it hard to drive change through in the way that Mrs Thatcher did. If he wants to reform France he must reform attitudes. That requires a serious engagement with the public. Like Mrs Thatcher - if he realizes he has to engage properly - he will probably have to aim to transform France in a second term: if he gets one.

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The Connexion May 2018

May 8 is the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and, while it is difficult to object to commemorations for the end of the hostilities and the horrors of the conflict, does France overdo its memorials? All over France, solemn ceremonies will take place, but the emphasis of these memorials is suggested by the title of the annual public holiday: Victoire 1945. There are rarely such events in Britain, let alone any mention of “victory” as the theme, despite the date being known as VE (Victory in Europe) Day. There were tributes in 1995 and 2015, to mark the 50th and 70th anniversaries respectively, but in France May 8 is a national holiday. This has not been without controversy since it was added to the calendar in 1953. In 1975 it was cancelled as an official day of commemoration but pressure from veterans’ associations in particular led to its restoration in 1981. I must register my personal standpoint for these reflections. My home town of Coventry was a target for mass bombing and my parents were living there at the time of the Coventry Blitz. I now live in Limousin, which suffered firstly under the Vichy regime, and then saw several appalling atrocities perpetrated by retreating Nazi forces. One of those was the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane near Limoges. What is not so well known is that the same German division had stopped in Tulle the day before, where soldiers rounded up the male population and hanged them, one after another, from lamp-posts and balconies throughout the town. A total of 99 were murdered in this fashion before the Nazis ran out of rope. The German division then moved north. Oradour-sur-Glane was their next stop. The massacre in Tulle is commemorated and the ruined village of Oradour-surGlane has been left untouched as its own memorial. But there are many other reminders of these and other events. Tulle has its own annual commemoration

Photo: Andres Rueda / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Wartime tragedy still resonates Dr Tim Blakemore, a former senior law lecturer at the University of Northampton who now lives in France, examines why the country places such emphasis on remembering the First and Second World Wars

Comment 15

When kitchen gadgets spill the beans on our food secrets Writer Samantha Wyndmus runs a table d’hôtes in Olliergues, Puy-de-Dôme, and says that even our kitchens have a national identity

A memorial stone at martyr village Oradour-sur-Glane where 642 people were killed but also has several different permanent memorials, and publishes a booklet explaining where they all are, with maps and photographs. Almost every village has a plaque somewhere, remembering someone who had been killed at that spot, as well as other memorials for individuals who were deported and never returned. Older memorials refer to the perpetrators as “Germans” whereas those which are more recent tend to use the term “Nazi”, in line with a wish for reconciliation between France and Germany. I have been struck by the contrast with my home town. There are no individual memorials to people who died in the bombing raids on Coventry, although 70 years later my mother could point to a site where a house had been flattened and its occupants killed – and Coventry Cathedral has been preserved in its ruined state, but tidied up considerably and with an ostentatious purpose of reconciliation. The explanation for these differences is simple. The ordinary people in the two countries had a very different experience of the war. Obviously, both suffered the loss of loved ones in the fighting, and deprivation from rationing of necessities. But the direct suffering of the British population was caused by bombing,

whereas in France it arose from occupation by a tyrannical power. While we must be conscious of the tendency to be amateur psychologists, the effect of occupation, both at the time and in the folk memory of the people, is clearly different to that of being bombed. It is one thing to have explosives dropped on you, especially when there is a carefully fostered tradition of stoic endurance and the “Blitz spirit”. There is also perhaps an underlying sense of revenge and retribution from the subsequent bombing of German cities which makes space for re­conciliation and forgiveness. Occupation is a more personal and humiliating experience for the country concerned. It is no coincidence that many memorials in France are to the Resistance, promoting a notion of the opposition of the population as a counter to the ignominy of subservience to a foreign power. There was no corresponding occupation of Germany and the French army was not in a position to exact retribution on behalf of the French people, so the role of the Resistance in defeating the invaders is the main source for national pride. The French can therefore be excused for making more of the end of the war than Britain and for putting up so many personalised memorials, but perhaps the time has come to take a new approach to the terrible anniversary.

My neighbour can tell the nationality of a household by their cooking appliances. It wasn’t my appalling French accent or GB sticker on our car in the driveway that gave away our Britishness. It was the kitchen, with its kettle, toaster and my slow cooker. According to my neighbour, electric kettles are not part of the French culture as they don’t often drink tea. He was willing to concede most French supermarkets sell kettles these days, but was adamant they are solely for infusion drinking millennials and purely a fad. I tried to argue that boiling water has multiple purposes such as Cup-a-Soup, Bovril and Ovaltine... but, in hindsight, these were probably not the best product examples, being mostly unheard of this side of Calais. Then there’s the toaster. It’s for British-sized bread. Mother’s Pride sandwich type to be exact. It’s rubbish for toasting slices from a baguette or pain. Even if you manage to cut it to the right thickness, the slices are too small to pop up properly or poke out at the top. The French way is to use the grill on your stove.

It’s good not only for toasting every conceivable size of bread type product but is also useful for bronzing gratins, searing peppers and good old Croque Monsieur. In any case, everyone knows that ‘proper’ French toast is made in a frying pan. Finally, I explained my slow cooker could gently cook all manner of soups and stews. In the morning you brown off your ingredients in a pot on the stove, before transferring them lovingly into your slow cooker. Add wine, cider or liquid of choice, a few herbs and spices. Then return at teatime to a perfectly cooked hot meal. In a French kitchen, after browning the meat on the stove, you add the remaining ingredients and simply leave it there on a low burner. Same effect and saves on washing up. Surprisingly, my high speed blender, ice cream maker and cake mixer were all acceptable. How else did I think my neighbour blended his smoothies, froze his sorbet and whipped up meringue? His real concern was how I cope without an electric raclette machine or gaspowered fondue.

Strikes see Macron reap the whirlwind as Whirlpool closes May 1 is a traditional celebration of the rights of working people. It is usually an occasion for marches and demonstrations but perhaps this year we should use it as an opportunity for reflection about job security in the fast-moving modern world. Almost exactly one year ago Marine le Pen, candidate for the presidency, stood outside the Whirlpool factory in Amiens and told TV viewers she shared the pain of the workers who would lose their jobs when the company relocated the plant to Poland. She was scathing about her rival, Emmanuel Macron (then still a plain monsieur), saying he was a man of the bosses and oligarchs, not the people. He was in favour of the forces of globalisation that were eliminating French jobs. He wouldn’t dare turn up here in this car park, she taunted him,

Photo: Lutte Ouvrière

by Nick Inman

Whirlpool makes jobless... and speak to these angry people. Mr Macron rose to the challenge a couple of hours later when he arrived and wormed his way through the crowd as they heckled and whistled derisively. “I’m not going to lie to you,” he told them. “No politician can honestly say they will save your jobs.” Calmly, he explained his plans for the French economy. Private enterprise has to be free to do what it wants, he said, but it also has to take responsibility for its actions. If elected, he would make sure the free movement of capital was alleviat-

ed by a “social programme” to defend the interests of those, like the Whirl­ pool workers, who stood to lose out. His willingness to tell a hostile crowd what it did not want to hear made him look straight-talking and presidential, and it probably helped him to win the election in spite of the suspicions of a sizeable part of the working population of France – and particularly in the public sector. A year later and President Macron is in the thick of his economic “reform” programme which will lead to job losses and insecure contracts. France’s unions have responded, as expected, with a series of strikes in a bid to put pressure on him to change his plans. The Whirlpool factory, meanwhile, will close for good at the end of May but it could come to represent the painful changes that France is about to experience.

There could hardly be a more apt name to sum up the economic maelstrom of globalisation that makes so many people feel as if they have lost control over their own lives. The company did not help itself or Macronomics when it responded to its loyal workers’ request for a pay rise to mark the end of their employment. It offered each soon-to-be laid-off worker a free tumble dryer (presumably without extended warranty). The workers were astounded by this offer in kind instead of cash. Was this what Macron called being “responsible for its actions’, a company unloading surplus stock to save itself the cost of warehousing? DIY retailer Castorama similarly put its foot in it when managers asked French staff who were soon to be made redundant to train their Polish replacements in the spirit of “professionalism.” The company quickly real-

ised its faux pas and backtracked but the incident again revealed a philosophy of putting making money before treating workers with consideration. If Macron’s reforms, and globalisation in general, are to be for the benefit of all and not just the few, big business is going to have to do much better. It must prove that it is not impersonal, insensitive and uncaring about its workforce. It has to convince us that it is not looking forward to the day when it can robotise every factory and not have to bother with human employees at all. A suitable epitaph for heartless globalisation was coined by one embittered Whirlpool worker who declined the multinational’s offer of a tumble dryer: “Good thing I don’t work in a cemetery,” he remarked “or they might have offered me a tombstone or coffin to take home in lieu of pay.”

16 Letters

They said it … Let’s give everyone the same rights as rail workers and we’ll be fine Philippe Martinez

I’m kind of the Lady Gaga of mathematics Cédric Villani

Mathematician MP describes himself in a TV interview on his artificial intelligence report

A very beautiful house full of history How estate agent described €450,000 property in Yvelines, the former home of serial killer Henri-Désiré Landru, guillotined in 1922 for the murder of 11 women. Seven of his victims were killed and their bodies burnt in the house

If one listens to it properly, the Marseillaise is a call to wage war and I do not like that Karim Benzema

Controversial footballer explains to Spanish magazine Vanity Fair why he does not sing national anthem

Railworker: I work one weekend in two Macron: I do more... Railworker: – but for you it is for five years, for me it is all my life Cheminot and Emmanuel Macron

Visiting St-Dié-des-Vosges, president gets into intense discussion with striker

Town twinned with Honolulu The wording on signs put up on several roads entering Langres in Haute-Marne. They were installed early one morning by students hoping to improve the ‘sleepy’ image of the town

The French drink too much. There is danger in drinking more than 10 glasses a week... and that means 10ml ballons of wine or 25cl of beer Catherine Hill

Noted health researcher joined other doctors in call for a minimum alcohol price and criticised President Macron for having wine at lunch and dinner

You have already done a lot for women in your country ... there is still a lot to do Emmanuel Macron

President’s challenge to Mohammed ben Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

Bosses, my friends, say ‘stop’ to your privileges and share your power and profits! Jean Peyrelevade

Ex-Crédit Lyonnais head offers solution to stop staff walkouts

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen

The firebrand leader of the CGT union reacts to suggestions on BFM TV that striking railway workers have too many employment privileges

The Connexion May 2018

Light-fingered stall-holders at brocantes...

Airport security and transfers do not mix

May I offer a warning to all avid brocante goers? At one such Charente event I bought a pair of candle lights. I had never seen the likes before, liked them and haggled the price down to €25. As the lights were heavy and my car was parked some distance away, I agreed with the vendor I should leave the items there to be collected later. Three hours later, the vendors had disappeared – along with my purchases. If a similar situation arises again, I would rather miss out on a good find. H&J CRICK, Ruffec

MAY I advise readers against booking flights with short transit times in light of current lengthy security checks... My trip from Dubai to Toulouse on Turkish Airlines included a transit time of 75 minutes at Istanbul Atatürk. The Dubai flight arrived on time, but took 15 minutes to disembark and 45 for security. By the time I got to the gate, my flight to Toulouse had left. I joined many other passengers who had also missed flights and we spent hours in queues trying to get re-booked. I rejected a €440 Paris flight and rebooked on KLM, for €500, eventually arriving in Toulouse, nearly 12 hours late. Turkish Airlines sent a stand-

MPs should look to history THE MPs opposing expats’ right to vote after living abroad for more than 15 years seem, broadly, to argue on: l Inconvenience and cost. l Loss of interest in the UK and failure to bring one’s family abroad on relocating. How can one put a price/cost on democratic rights? No wonder people lose interest in the UK and politics when MPs have such an appalling mindset! Taxation without representation has had a major historical impact on the UK. It is as wrong now as it was then. Laurance Beckett Charente-Maritime

Another first... RE YOUR interview with conductor Zahia Ziouani (March 2018); remember Iris Lemare, the first woman to conduct the BBC Symphony Or­chestra and who started the MacnaghtenLemare concert series introducing new British composers. She was the first female Professor of Harmony at the Rennes Conservatoire. PMH DUPONT, Aube

ard letter saying: “The boarding process ends 20 minutes before the time of departure...” So, a 75-minute transit time is really, 55 minutes. If there are delays, there is little chance of getting through security and catching the connection. My travel insurer, Worldwide Travel, rejected my claim, saying I was “only covered for missed departure due to the failure of public transport or a breakdown involving the vehicle you are travelling in”. I don’t know how other airlines would deal with cases like this, but I would advise avoiding short connections at Atatürk airport – or face spending a fortune on alternative flights. Paul Houghton, Gironde

Homeopathy’s claims fail scientific analysis I can understand how M Aitken and Neville Gay (Letters, March) extol homeo­ pathy in the light of their experiences. When Samuel Hahne­ mann invented homeopathy in the late 18th century it saved hundreds of lives and achieved startling success. There was a simple reason. At that time conventional doctors were killing more than they cured. They used ineffective and dangerous treatments like purges, blistering, tobacco smoke enemas, bleeding etc. Hahnemann used harmless remedies, basically water with a good dose of propaganda. He used the great healers, Mother

Nature and Father Time, and took all credit. I can’t comment on the cases quoted but they are typical of accounts of homeopathy believers. What is impressive in the medical world these days is the accumulating evidence that homeopathy, when subjected to controlled studies and with reviews of randomised controlled studies, cannot be viewed as an evidence-based form of treatment. The National Health Service has at last come to its senses and will no longer pay for homeopathic treatments. William Larkworthy, Vaucluse

Batter and banter at our chippy RE: YOUR article on Fish and Chips (April 2018). In Lorignac, Charente-Maritime, there is a French bar/restaurant, Chef Marie makes the best fish and chips I have ever tasted. Beer-battered fish, chips, and an atmosphere of entente cordiale between French and English customers, makes this a special place. Gill Jackson, Boutenac-Touvent

No rules on destroying caterpillars NEAR my house is a tall pine tree containing 18 nests of processionary caterpillar. As I pass it on a regular route with my terrier, I went to the mairie to ask about regulations on the destruction of nests at the larval stage. What amazed me is – in one of the most regulated countries in the world – there are no requirements to destroy the nests either by the commune or the tree’s owners. A few communes offer a destruction service and in some forested areas insecticide spraying takes place. The problem is that the spray kills all the other harmless insects as well. Bearing in mind the dangers the caterpillars present on their descent from the nests to pupate, I find it extraordinary no one is made responsible. Philip Lidgate, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

School week worked well before change RE: YOUR question on preferences over the school week. The four-day school week worked absolutely fine for children at France’s écoles maternelle for years before the then government made its ridiculous decision to change school hours just four years ago. A whole system of childcare had been sorted out, parents had arranged their work and kids spent less out-of-lesson time at school. Now there is pressure for after-school care, or garderie as most parents work and cannot pick up at 15.45. My own children found it much better with a day off in the middle, they were never as tired as they are now by the end of Friday. Catriona RILEY, by email

The Connexion May 2018 The Connexion letters pages are

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How not to spend much HAVING read about the couple who decided not to buy any new household items for a year I would like to share what we do in our corner of Orne. Local brocantes. Enormous fun and very moderately priced for everything from furniture to china and garden items. Local websites, such as United in Normandy. Charity sales and Emmaus which is wonderful for furniture and has moderate delivery charges for the big stuff. My favourite: a bourse with friends. It works like this: find a friend with a large room and lots of parking. Turn up with anything you no longer need, plus a bottle and some food. Socialise for an hour having set out your stuff on tables, rails etc. And at 20.00 the bell rings and it is a free for all. Kit Stephens, Orne

Starting early is a good idea FRANCE is making schooling compulsory from age three and in Spain, where I am, my now 12-year-old daughter started when she was three and a half. Not compulsory but I felt it was better to start her off when everybody is in the same boat. It gave her a fantastic chance of learning Spanish early, the young brain is like a sponge for soaking up knowledge! She is now fluent, especially in local Andalucian dialect, gets excellent grades and is regularly top of the class in Span­ish, and she is the only British child in the class. It was very informal and a great way of integrating. Hilary Walker, by email

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‘Safety first... but not if it slows me’ I HAVE just read your story on the speed limit issue (Page 13, April 2018) and the quoted statistics clearly show where the main causes of crashes and road deaths in France lie – between the ears of many French drivers! Half of them don’t feel safe, but 85% feel unsafe due to bad driving by others, ie they take no personal responsibility for their behaviour behind the wheel. Road deaths in France will never be reduced with these attitudes. There seems to be a sense of divine immortality which takes over when behind the steering wheel. I’ve heard drivers angrily referring to speed-limits and radars as an ‘infringement of my rights, so no thoughts of other road users having rights as well, like remaining unharmed. The problem can be addressed by using the right measures, ie ones which catch the offenders and cause enough inconvenience and pain to deter, but no government is prepared to actually do this for fear of electoral backlash. As for changing the speed limit, it’s useless unless it is monitored and policed – in 15 years in my area I’ve never seen anyone monitoring the speeds on our local roads. Dangerously fast driving will not change without action in situ rather than relying on rules from above, which simply tick boxes and help politicians sleep at night. The 3,500 death toll a year is widely accepted and tolerated as ‘reasonable collateral damage’ in return for the freedom to drive with low regard for others’ safety. Nick Purdon, Ille-et-Vilaine

Letter of the month

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Vanishing French wildlife We have been living here for 15 years. In that time, I have covered considerable ground in the daily dog walk. Over the years, I have noticed a steady reduction in numbers in all of wild animals. This is an agricultural part of France, fields are rarely left fallow, and sprayed at least three times a year. As a result, it seems the lower

You said it … Restaurants could soon be forced to offer “doggy bags”

“Asking for a doggy bag is about the least cool thing you can do in a French restaurant. I know this because I do it all the time.” D.R. “The servings are often too large for us seniors to handle. I hate doggy bags as the food never tastes the same the next day. All restaurants should be obliged to have senior portions listed on their menus. If they can do children’s portions, why not for the older crowd?” L.H. “I have asked for a doggy bag before now, especially when we’ve had steak and there’s quite a bit left over. The restaurant has always been happy to provide one.” B.O. “It’s a way of life in the U.S. but living here, when a Chinese place didn’t get the concept, we were in shock.” A.G.

Letters 17

end of the food chain has suffered badly. If the bug/insect population drops, it follows that small mammals will have less to eat, with a knock-on effect for larger mammals and the raptors. Is it possible that the ‘agri-businesses’ have not noticed the environmental changes, or do they not care? MJ STREET, Deux-Sèvres

Now, that’s good service!

RE: the letter from Ray Stephens (March 2018) I also renewed my passport. I can’t beat his nine days (mine arrived after 11 days) but I can add a post-script. My cancelled passport wasn’t included with my new one and, as I had made travel plans using the old number, I foresaw difficulties if I didn’t have it. I posted a message asking if my old passport could be sent to me – and received an email response saying my old passport had been despatched and it duly arrived a day later. Ian Halliday, Cantal

...but not this Mrs Kleingeld’s comments on poor customer service in France (Letters, April 2018) are spot-on. In the two years since I came from UK, I have found it appalling, if not non-existent. Traders see it as no more than offering to sell you a full-price replacement for the faulty item. A Facebook member told of taking back a water pump, being given a replacement and watching as the assistant repacked the dud to put it back on the shelf. Is this why shops always want the box back? Stuart Patrick, Faye l’Abbesse.

... but this is! WHETHER to pay more for SP98 petrol or 95, has been settled for me. I bought a Peugeot 2008 1.2 Pure Tech from a main Peugeot dealer. The salesman suggested one fill-up with 98 to every four with 95, saying it was a good compromise between quality and cost. Sounds good to me. Nicolas Bell, Finistère

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

Holiday insurance so simple to sort out In 2010, we went to New Zealand and paid over £600, for insurance for worldwide travel for a year. A year ago we went on a cruise and had to have insurance, not wanting to pay such an amount again I spoke to my bank who advised me that health insurance is part of the Carte Bleu but only if you book your holiday with that card. Our bank manager told us a company called Mondial also did holiday insurance, so I

came home and phoned. We got a year-long insurance and did not have to go into our medical history for €267. Terms and conditions are also in English and the number you can call for assistance, should you need it, is a French number but you can speak in English to them. I did not have to give any information on our medical history at all and was told they insure people up to 86. Judith TORRINGTON, Troyes

Just plane thinking Looking at the profitability of an airport in isolation is short-sighted and destructive. The ONLY sensible viewpoint is to look at what it brings to the area it serves which may have no relation at all to any revenues it directly generates. An airport brings aircraft, aircraft bring tourism, tourists bring money! Aircraft also bring business and industry which also means money. I have worked in and around

the aviation industry since the 1960s and I have seen over and again business lost through the closure of airports. Brexit is going to hobble the UK airports’ position as hubs, with inevitable immigration and customs formalities and delays. Airlines and passengers will look to the mainland and this will be even more the case for freight. Richard Chandless Crêches-sur-Saône

Economic matters R. N. Thorpe’s article (March 2018) states productivity in France is higher than the UK and that the economy is growing faster. How to measure productivity? Output per worker? To measure the output of that worker, he or she has to be in employment. As for economic growth: from 2008-2017 the average GDP growth of France per

annum was 0.6% and the UK 1.1%. In 2017, France was 1.9% and the UK 1.8%. RN Thorpe states the NHS is underfunded. In 2017, the Commonwealth Fund judged the NHS the ‘best, safest and most affordable’ healthcare system of the top 11 in the world. As for a ‘deteriorating social fabric’, I can find no statistics. Maybe RN Thorpe has some. Matthew Watson, Isère

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Patients are footing more of their medical bills

“We changed to a hospitalisation-only policy. We found that, due to us both having heart conditions, we get all cardiovascular treatment paid 100%. The savings are significant compared to a full mutuelle policy.” T.L. “We only have hospital insurance... originally we had full top-up but found that lots of the drugs and treatments needed were not covered. Dentistry is a joke too and we go back to England for glasses.” L.B. “I debate with myself every year whether a mutuelle is worthwhile – if I understand the system, if you get something awful like cancer then the costs are covered by the State.” S.H. “We pay nothing ourselves (out of pocket), Sécu and a good mutuelle (and, no, it is not expensive) covers it all.” A.G.

Funny gendarme post warns of ‘disappearing indicators’

“It’s not extra ‘contrôle technique’ tests or speed limits that are needed but more tests for drivers and enforcement of the many rules and limits that are already there.” A.F. “It isn’t the indicators I find a problem but the complete lack of lane discipline at roundabouts. Quite often I have to brake to avoid an idiot who drives up the right-hand lane and is turning left at the third or fourth exit.” A.S. “If you see an indicator signal it merely means that bulb is OK, if you see a hand signal it only means that the window is open.” N.M. “90kph is not the problem, it’s lack of indication, tailgating and phone use. Crack down on these issues rather than dropping the already quite low speed limit on rural roads.” T.B.

Ex-minister demands halt to Linky meter roll-out

“It doesn’t even transmit over the air, it sends the info along the mains cables. Good luck even detecting that without some very sensitive equipment.” J.W. “Time for a full, fully independent study OR abandon them completely. Also they should NOT be compulsory. I was promised a similar meter by my water company several years ago. Strangely, they have NEVER turned up to fit it or have ever given an explanation as to why.” H.I. “Please explain – why are these meters creating so much health excitement in a nation which seems to have mobile phones grafted on to the ear of everyone under 40.” P.S. “Fortunately ours is on the pole outside our house, 10 metres away from the building.” N.D.

18 Practical

Q& A

The Connexion May 2018

What are residence rules for mixed nationality couples?

Readers’ questions answered

Send your queries about life here to Oliver Rowland by email to

Applying for an international driving permit I LIVE in France and drive here on a British licence. How can I obtain an Interna­tional Driving Permit so I can drive on a holiday out of the EU. T.G. Interna­tional Driving Permit (IDPs) are documents (lasting a year in the UK version) that you obtain to accompany your driving licence and thus meet requirements in certain non-EU countries – however obtaining one in your situation appears difficult. Luckily, relatively few countries insist on the permit for a holder of a UK licence. A list issued by the RAC of places where it is essential or recommended can be found here : https:// For example, one is not needed in America, where a UK licence on its own is acceptable for trips of up to three months. Places where one is vital, according to the RAC, include Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain,

licences would have to exchange them for a French one before applying for an IDP. If, on the other hand, you have a French or other valid EU licence and want a French IDP (which last three years), note that you can now only apply by post to Nantes and not at local prefectures and it is likely to take longer - so leave plenty of time if going somewhere where a permit is required. The ‘Inter­natio­nal Dri­ ver’s Document’ and ‘International Driver’s Licence’ available on the internet have no official status and are not IDPs. If you are going to one of the countries in the RAC’s list and plan to take your car or to hire one, we suggest seeking advice from one of its consulates. Note that people driving in France with a non-EU licence must have an IDP or a translation of their licence that has been ‘legalised’ in their home country or by a sworn translator in France.

Brazil, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, India, Indo­ nesia, Iraq and Iran, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, UAE and the Canberra area of Australia. It appears there is a Catch 22, however, as the DVLA said British IDPs cannot be issued to people who are not UK resident. This was confirmed to Connexion by the AA and RAC, the main UK bodies that issue IDPs. One reader said he obtains his permit from a post office on visits to the UK, however he has retained a UK address. France will not issue a French IDP to a holder of a UK licence, despite issuing them to holders of most other EU licences. The licences section at the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique at Nantes, which provides this service, said this is because the UK did not sign the November 8, 1968 Convention of Vienna. It said holders of British

Stores fail to display correct weight I HAVE very accurate digital scales and I find stores often do not display the correct net weight of food because, for example, the weight of the trays used for meat is included. Often the real price per gram of the food is more than shown. Who can I complain to? M.P. THE Institut National de la Consommation, which carried out a study on this issue last year, said that it is indeed common for products to weigh less than the amount marked on the label – although the difference is usually ‘modest’. For example, it found this to be prevalent with packets of flour but, on the other hand, it found sugar bags sometimes weighed more than shown. It states that

legally only a small margin of error is allowed, equivalent to 15g for an item weighing one kilogram. As you have found, the body says this is sometimes due to packaging being included in the weight, whereas it should be the actual net weight of the food that is shown. Including the packaging deliberately could amount to a deception under article L441-1 of the Code de la Consommation which bans deceiving or trying to deceive a shopper with regard to the quantity sold. As for whom you may complain to, the relevant body would be the official consumer protection body for your department, which will be called a DDPP or DDCSPP. You can find contact details here:

Must I change headlights on British car?

FIRSTLY, if you are bringing in a car to keep it in France and/or you are yourself a resident of France, you should legally be registering the car here with French plates rather than keeping it UK-registered.

Photo: Jaggery / CC-BY-SA 2.0

IS IT still necessary to change the headlights on a British-registered car for the contrôle technique in France? I.D.

The Le Pontet Contrôle Technique centre in Sarlat, Dordogne, which carries out the CT on British cars from time to time, said nothing has changed or is expected


to change this year. It said you have to change the headlights on a British car for it to pass the CT, furthermore you need to pass the CT before applying to register it with French plates. It said the only exception is certain models that are built with settings for both the UK and the continent. It can cost anywhere from around €100 to €3,000 depending on the make and model.

Does a survivor of a Pacs couple have right to any extra UK state pension?

I AM British and am interested in moving to France with my wife, who is of a different nationality. What are the rules on residence rights? M.D. CURRENTLY, as a British national, you benefit from EU automatic free movement rights to come and live in France. This is unconditional if you are working, whether employed or self-employed (as long as the activity is not just occasional), and you have no need to seek a work permit. Jobseekers have a right to stay at least six months and non-workers, that is early-retirees and state pensioners, can stay indefinitely though, in theory, this is on condition of having enough means so as not to be a burden on social welfare and being covered for healthcare (if

you have an S1 or you are accepted onto the state Puma system, usually involving an annual subscription payment, then this fulfils the latter requirement). After five years of legal residence, EU citizens acquire a right of permanent residence. EU citizens have the right to bring their spouse with them and there are no further conditions attached to the spouse’s residence if they are also from an EU country (or EEA or Switzerland). However if your wife is from a non-EU country she must apply (free of charge) for a carte de séjour ‘de membre de famille d’un citoyen de l’Union/EEE/Suisse’ within three months of arrival. This gives the same rights as your own. Documents required for the card include a copy of the marriage certificate and ones

proving your own legal residence status (such as work contract and/or bank statements). A civil partner or informal long-term partner of non-EU nationality may also be able to live with an EU citizen if they have evidence of living to­gether for more than a year (civil partner) or five years (other partner). If Brexit goes ahead as planned, this situation will remain until the end of the planned transition period in 2020. After that Britons are expected to be considered ‘third country’ citizens (as opposed to EU citizens) and the rules will be different. Then you would both apply for cartes de séjour and/or visas separately but prefectures will consider the two carte de séjour requests together for practical reasons. If one is refused, under some circumstances it may be possible for the person to request a temporary card for ‘vie privée et familiale’ with proof of marriage. If one of you came first and wished to bring the other over, rules on regroupement familial might apply (depending on circumstances) including having resided legally in France for at least 18 months, having a home of a sufficient size for your family and having, between you, income above a certain level.

How can you show clean criminal record? IN THE Brexit negotiations it has been agreed that countries can request criminal record checks. If they ask to see proof of lack of serious crimes committed, how do we obtain this? S.A. UNDER the current agreement, France would have the right to ask British residents to apply for a residence card proving their right to stay in the country under the Brexit treaty. As part of this, the draft wording says France would be entitled to ask to see if the person has a criminal record and for checks, including in the country of origin, if it deems necessary. The inclusion of this was at the request of the UK. The draft agreement says people who have already obtained a ‘permanent stay’ carte de séjour will not have to supply most of the paperwork that those without one will have to, such as utility bills and tax statements, work contracts, healthcare information etc. proving ‘legal and stable’ residence in France over a sustained period (because these are already

Does the state still offer to fund free French lessons for new arrivals to help them integrate?

required to obtain a ‘permanent stay’ card). However the agreement states that the criminal record aspect may also apply to this group. Campaigners for expats have objected to this as such cardholders have already essentially acquired a permanent residence right – and which the French Interior Ministry has said they intend to respect. We will have to wait, at least until the agreement is finalised, and probably well into the expected transition period after Brexit, before all the practical

Who can I complain to about my Cpam which has failed to replace a defective carte vitale?

details of formalities for Britons in France will be clear. However if it should become necessary for Britons in France to supply criminal record details as part of an application then this is likely to be what is referred to as a ‘Bulletin 3’, which shows the most serious offences. You can obtain an ‘extract’ of this free of charge, online via: cjn. You will need a scan of an identity document (such as passport or carte de séjour) and the ‘extract’ document will be sent to you in the post. Requesting the British equivalent (a process now known as ‘Subject Access’) can be done online for a £10 fee at: acro. You need scans of two forms of ID which between them show name, date of birth, current postal address and signature; for example passport plus a rental contract or utility bill. The EU and UK have said residence would only be refused to people deemed a ‘genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat’.

I have lost my sight in one eye. Do I have to report this in order to continue to drive?

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The Connexion May 2018

Make sense of

Small business and tax advice


LGBT prides and rights

AS THE first LGBT pride events of the year get under way, we take stock of the situation for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in France LIKE many capitals, Paris has a large LGBT pride event attracting thousands of participants and spectators – not so surprising, you may think; it is a cosmopolitan city with a long history of tolerance. What you may not know is that dozens of provincial towns have parades too, such as Angers and Grenoble on May 26 (see below for more details). France was not always so gay-friendly… A plaque at the corner of rue Montorgueil and rue Bachaumont in Paris commemorates the last men executed for homosexuality, burned to death at what is now place de l’Hôtel de Ville in 1750. Homosexuality was legalised in 1791 – 175 years before the UK – and France’s comparative tolerance was one reason Britons such as Oscar Wilde took refuge here. The Vichy regime then raised the gay age of consent to 21 before it was equalised with heterosexual people again in 1982. While France may have been more welcoming than the UK it was only in 1981 that it declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. A generally relaxed attitude among the public is also fairly recent and by no means universal, as seen in the large marches by the conservative ‘Manif pour tous’ against equal marriage rights in 2013. Many cities have LGBT associations, often sharing a centre where they organise events and hold drop-in sessions. Nice’s ( hosts over 20 events, ranging from rights

lon­ger essential to be ‘sterilised’ activism and support, to cul[ie. to have had certain operature, sport or social activities. tions including removal of tesCentre president, Erwann Le tes or ovaries] but the law still Hô said: “Unde­niably over the requires people to go to court. last 30 years we’ve seen pro“We should continue to call gress. From being outcasts in for the right to change your the post-war period, LGBT état civil [name, gender...] in a people have acquired a certain way that’s simple, fast and free, number of rights so some of us as it is in some parts of the are now well-integrated. world,” said Mr Le Hô. “We may cite legalisation in “So it’s a country that’s pro1982 and des­truc­tion of the gressed, but there’s still work to police files [that had been held be done. I think it will happen on homosexual people since because we’re on the right side the Second World War], the of history but we should Pacs in 1989, laws against remain vigilant, because we see homophobia most re­cently some countries closing in on [criminalising homophobic themselves, with more coninsults] in 2004 and the opening up of ‘mariage for all’ in the servative attitudes – trying to reintroduce anti-abortion laws Loi Taubira. There are still – so prothings to Our main image gress is not be done was drawn for irreversion family Connexion by ble.” The rights, but I hope­the artist Perry Taylor. practice of holding right to For more of pride use fertilihis work see ty parades, which are ments at the same [PMA, time festive and militant [with procréation médicalement banners and placards on rights assistée] will be opened up issues] dates from the Stonewall under Macron. riots in 1969, when LGBT peo“Now the main focus is trans ple in New York fought back people’s rights. Their issues were poorly-understood, inclu­ against a police raid on the ding within the LGBT commu- Stonewall Inn. A commemoranity, until 10 years ago. Now it’s tive parade was held in 1970 and the idea spread, with cities no longer an ‘emerging’ topic organising events in the sumbut a key part of the debate. mer including a parade, often “Trans people are part of our with floats pum­ping out music associative life, their demands on the back of flatbed trucks at are at the top of our demands, larger events. and I think the media’s treatIn France they started in Paris ment of the subject is a lot betin 1981, with several other cities ter than 15 years ago.” following in the 1990s. Mr Le The law is also evolving for Hô said: “Thirty years ago you this group, including making it could only live openly with simpler for trans people to your sexuality in Paris. change their first name plus “Since then we saw the emerless rigid rules on legal gender gence, in large towns, of associchange. For the latter it is no

Practical 19

ations that have opened LGBT centres and created prides. Especially since the 2010s what is interesting is to see prides in medium-sized towns like Laval [Pays-de-la-Loire], which has an LGBT centre that runs brilliantly, or Arras, which also has its pride and an association with year-round drop-in sessions. “There are still corners of France where it is difficult, but today you can’t just say if you live outside a city it’s difficult.” He said support from councils towards the associations is often good and mostly not dependent on their politics. “There again, the picture is more complex now. A few years ago it was essentially the left that supported us but today it’s less the case. In Nice [rightwing Les Répu­blicains] it works well, similarly in Bor­deaux, where Alain Juppé [LR] is mayor. Our voice is heard and councillors come to our events.” n Pride dates include – June 2: Lille, Le Mans, Caen, Bordeaux; June 9: Toulouse, Stras­bourg, Arras, Nantes; June 16: Rouen, Rennes, Lyon; June 30: Paris; July 7: Marseille; July 21: Mont­ pellier. Nice is still finalising its date (usually July or August). n See the June edition for more about Paris’ pride parade. n For further information see: (which campaigns against homophobia); (which promotes dialogue between LGBT people and parents, families and friends), (which helps young LGBT people who are rejected by their families) and national umbrella bodies and

Q: I hear there is a new ‘flat’ tax on investments – what is this? A: Previously income from capital-based sources, namely interest, dividends and capital gains on the sales of shares, was subject to the household progressive rate of income tax and social taxes. The government has implemented, starting from January 1, 2018, what is called a ‘flat tax’ on these investment incomes, as well as other gains such as from as Assurance Vie and Plan Epargne Logement etc. The flat tax – officially called Prélèvement Forfaitaire Unique (PFU) – consists of 12.8% of income tax plus social income taxes, which are now 17.2% (15.5% in 2016). The flat rate tax will apply automatically to all earnings from investments taken out from January 1, 2018. The intention is to provide greater transparency and simplicity, so the investor can anticipate the tax effects on their eventual investment income – and this may be the case in a number of situations and result in more capital being invested in France. But what about (local and foreign) investments taken out before 2018 – could the new system result in a higher income tax than would have been suffered under the previous system? In response to this, taxpayers can choose the previous ‘progressive’ income tax system if the investment was held prior to 2018 and should this option result in a more favourable taxation (on the household’s investment income) than the flat rate tax. The same rate of social taxes (17.2%) will apply under either option. As a general rule, the flat tax will be more advantageous for households whose marginal rate of income tax is below the 14% tax bracket. However, in many cases, the only way to anticipate this is to simulate the household’s tax results under both options. The flat rate system will apply automatically. However, if the progressive rate system is chosen it will exclude the flat rate system meaning you cannot choose the flat rate for some items and the progressive rate system for others.  Email your tax questions to This column was written by Olaf Muscat Baron who is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Accountants UK, a French expert comptable and an International tax advisor. He is the principal accountant of Fiscaly, an accountancy firm based in the Dordogne which serves individuals and businesses in or out of France. See or call 09 81 09 00 15

Euro Sense Pippa Maile from Currencies Direct, answers a reader question on currency exchange Q: I will soon be selling my house in France and would like to fix an exchange rate ahead of transferring the proceeds back to the UK. However, can you please tell me what happens if the buyer cannot get a mortgage and pulls out of the sale? A: Forward contracts allow you to fix an exchange rate up to a year ahead of needing to make a currency transfer and are one of the specialist transfer options offered by leading currency providers. Using a forward contract to secure the current exchange rate for a future transfer will ensure you know exactly how much you will receive from your property sale. It will also protect your funds from adverse movements in the currency market during the sale process. If the buyer pulls out or if there are unforeseen delays you have the option of prolonging the date of completion on a forward contract. When booking a forward contract, your currency provider will ask for a 10% deposit and you will only need to add to it if the market moves 5% higher than the rate you have booked over the duration of the contract. This is known as a margin call. There are some risks to rolling forward the date of completion on a contract because (in the worst-case scenario that the sale falls through completely) you may not find a new buyer for a long time. However, there are no penalties if you fail to complete on the contract. If reversing it incurs a loss to the currency firm due to movement in the exchange rate [because it will have bought the currency and kept it aside for you], they will often deduct that loss from your deposit and return the balance. If there is a profit due to market movements it will return your full deposit along with any profit. It might sound a little complicated but if you register with a leading currency provider, their transfer specialists will be able to talk you through the process and make it all very simple.  Email your currency queries to

For more information about making international money transfers with Currencies Direct visit the website or call +33 (0)4 22 32 62 40

20 Practical

The Connexion May 2018

What a difference a day makes... Constant changes especially when it’s only a half-day frustrating for parents Primary schools nationwide will open for either a four or a four-and-ahalf day week from this year’s rentrée in September and where you live will decide your child’s school week, as the final decision is made by your commune and not national authorities. Over the past few years the school week has changed several times as successive ministers introduced reforms aimed at creating a timetable better adapted to children. France has long holidays but, to compensate, children work more hours in a week than in other European countries. They work 24 hours in France, 19 in Finland, 15-20 depending on age in Germany and 21-25 depending on age in the UK. Other countries have five day weeks, with most schooling being done in the morning. Up until 2008, primary children went to school four-and-a-half days a week, and the half day was either a Wednes­ day or a Saturday morning. In 2008, a four-day week was introduced with school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. This changed again in 2013, with the 24 hours a week of school split between nine half days, with the ‘extra’ half day on Wednesday or Saturday. Academic work was mostly done in the mornings. At the same time, the government decided communes should also finance other cultural or sporting activities and offer them on the school premises. Called Temps d’Activité Périscolaire (TAPS), it was controversial from day one; loved by some, hated by others. TAPS were run with varying degrees of success: some children enjoyed a variety of new activities while others had something more like a glorified baby-sitting service. It depended on the finances, the personnel available and the willingness of the commune to set up the service. The educational argument was that children worked better in the mornings, and without a break in the week. When President Macron was elected,

Photo: Thomas Sanson


Bordeaux deputy mayor Emmanuelle Cuny said change ‘not money-driven’ he and his new education minister JeanMichel Blanquer decided to leave this controversial decision to communes – and of the 21,375 communes, 43.9% opted to revert to a four-day week at the rentrée 2017. Now, the remaining communes must decide for this year, after local consultation with teachers, parents and the education authorities. The Association des Maires de France (AMF) surveyed communes last autumn. Of the 30% which replied, 90% said they would go back to the four-day week. However, AMF general secretary Philippe Laurent said the final result was more likely to be 50/50. He said the four-and-a-half day week had worked well in his town, Sceaux: “Where communes have been able to put on a satisfactory programme of after-school activities, the parents are happy. In my town, we carried out a study and found that 40% of mothers had been able to go out to work on Wednesdays which was better for them. “It was a positive reform as it increased dialogue between teachers

and mairie. It is good communes are so closely involved in running schools. “In France we have systems in place which mean children can be looked after from 7.30 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening and we are pleased to be able to provide that service.” However, he felt giving communes the decision would show huge inequalities as communes which could afford to put on after-school activities would keep a four-and-a-half day week. In reality, many bigger and richer communes have already decided to revert to the four-day week. Lyon voted for four days, but will offer activities on Wednesdays, and 64% of parents in Lille voted for four days. Bordeaux consulted widely before deciding on a four-day week with 60% of the 6,000 replies from parents backing a four-day week as did 80% of conseils d’école, which are made up of councillors, teachers and parents. Emmanuelle Cuny, the city’s deputy mayor with responsibility for education, said: “The message we got from parents

was children showed more signs of fatigue on the four-and-a-half day week. There was less classroom time every day but they spent more time in school because of TAPS and as school finished earlier many had to stay in the garderie and then go to school on Wednesday. “Parents found it easier to organise childcare with the four-day week. ” She said organising the TAPS was expensive and a huge task. “I look after 103 schools and it was difficult to find people to run workshops because we could not offer a 35-hour contract and the hours did not easily fit in with other jobs. It cost €3million a year. “We will still run Wed­nes­day activities but even so we will make savings of between €1m-€1.4m. That, however, was not the reason for our decision. It was based on consultation and it was clear what parents and teachers wanted. “The government has not carried out any studies to show which system is better for children’s education so this was not a criteria. We have had many changes in the past few years and I hope we will now have a period of stability.” Claire Roux Moynihan is a teacher and parent. She works in a rural school at Marcillac-Saint-Quentin, Dordogne: “It is a subject where many people have different views. We have opted for the four-day week and our parents were 50/50 either way. “I think it is best for my five-year-old to have a break on a Wednesday, but it depends on age. I teach nine and 10year-olds and I got a lot more done with them with five consecutive mornings. Now we are always rushing to get through the syllabus. “As a teacher, I found the rhythm which worked best some years ago was school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thurs­ days, Fridays and Saturday mornings. “It did not suit families, but it was interesting that, perhaps surprisingly, Saturdays were always really calm in the classroom. “It would have been helpful if the education minister could have given a decision nationally as there are so many conflicting views on the subject.”

the constant tinkering with the school week has left many parents frustrated. Journalist Scheenagh Harrington, whose three children go to a Catholic school in the Tarn, was hit in an unusual way. “Our school kept its four-day week despite the change but that posed its own problems,” she said. The MJC activity centre they relied on stayed closed when schools opened on Wednesdays. “We suddenly had no childcare Wednesday mornings – we had to work and had no local family network to take up any childcare slack. “We were lucky. My husband and I are self-employed. We work from home and have understanding clients so we could juggle our hours. Had we still been in the jobs that brought us to France in the first place, things would have been much more difficult.” Her sentiment was echoed by reader Matt Evans. He said: “I’d prefer it if they just stuck to one schedule rather than constantly changing it. We just get our work life planned around our daughter’s school and they change it all again.” Heather Oakley, from Illeet-Vilaine, said that being a stay-at-home mother when her children were younger made life easier. “But I would have preferred a five-day week,” she said. “As school buses picked up at 8am and didn’t get the children home until 5.35pm, it was a long day!” She added: “With all the homework that they got, they needed Wednesday afternoons to get it done.” Send your opinion on this topic to

Success with succession often means choosing the simple option Money Matters

Robert Kent of Kentingtons explains. INHERITANCE and succession rules can be overwhelming as there are so many of them in France but I look for what gives the simplest outcome for clients. Lawyers may advise on what can be argued, meaning a long drawn-out court case will get the desired result, but a solution that is well tried and tested is usually the best option. When you are trying to straighten out your affairs, so that you can get on with life, do you want a solution that means that you or your spouse could have a protracted legal case in a foreign country? Most probably not. The problem is that not all lawyers think that way. A long legal case never did them any harm! Many people will say it is easier now, the new

EU law Brussels IV deals with everything; like a wonderful sprinkle of pixie dust. Yet some professionals will advise you that it will not work for UK nationals, because the UK did not sign the legislation and it does not apply to them... This is not true. It is based on where the individual lives and not nationality, thus it applies to so-called ‘third countries’, like the UK. But what is Brussels IV? Brussels IV essentially lets you choose the succession rules of the country of your nationality, not the country where you live. If, for example, you are a UK national, there are no succession rules in the UK, so this must be the simplest solution! Certainly, Brussels IV must not be discounted out of hand, as for some, (usually those with more complicated objectives) it is the best solution, whereas for others it can create unnecessary uncertainty. Why is there uncertainty? One of the big issues is that, if Brussels IV is based on residency, a French court is going to

have to deal with the laws of many different countries. French courts are very able and competent when it comes to French law, but it would not be unreasonable to argue that they may not be fully equipped to deal with the laws of the rest of the world. This gives the possibility of complications for the surviving spouse / beneficiaries. This is not necessary for those with simple situations; for example, those married with children from the same marriage. They could: n Simply change marriage regime, under French law (ultimately under international law) this ‘could’ be the simplest solution (depending on what the spouses’ wishes are, of course). Using a law that has been enshrined in French statute since 1966 (1526 of the French civil code) and used effectively over this time is far less risky than the use of a relatively new piece of legislation which relies on a French court referring to, and fully understanding, the laws of another country. n There are, of course, other solutions, such as

the tontine clause (clause d’accroissement) if all you want to do is cover the property. n Money can also be protected from succession rules, with the use of a French compliant assurance vie. French compliant, in this case, means that it must have a beneficiary clause, permit­ting assets to be paid directly to the beneficiaries outside of the estate, controlled by a fiscal representative. n There is also the possibility of leaving the life interest of assets, known as the usufruit, put in place using a simple French will. The point is that one, or a combination of these solutions, may provide the ideal solution, without the worry as to whether the EU law will be effective. One must also remember that Brussels IV only deals with successions rules. It does nothing whatsoever to mitigate inheritance tax, which can be as high as 60%. We often advise people that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, this means not simply sticking to Anglo-Saxon thinking, which is great in the UK, but often ineffective in France.

French living Food Wine Homes Gardens Interviews Events

top of the class Super seasonal recipes from a top Burgundy cookery school


+ Bayeux tapestry tales + Anaïs Nin’s passions + The coffee roasting queen + Adam Thorpe’s Cévennes

2 Bayeux tapestry

French Living I May 2018

Norman triumph forever fixed by stitches in time With the Bayeux Tapestry the subject of a mooted loan move to the UK, Samantha David examines the historic context of events depicted within its evocatively embroidered scenes Photos: Wikiemedia Commons; Myrabella


ssentially, the Battle of Hastings was all Edward the Confessor’s fault: in the years before his death he had not been clear about the succession and in 1066 the two leading pretenders to the English throne ended up thrashing it out in the countryside of Kent. As we all know, Harold lost and William won, which left the victorious new king from the other side of the Channel with a PR problem. How to convince his new subjects (particularly any resentful English lords) that he was their legitimate ruler? William the Conquerer’s half-brother Bishop Odo came up with a solution in the 1070s. The Normans would state their side of the story in a massive tapestry, around 70metres long and 50cms high; fifty or so embroidered cartoons reinforcing William’s authority, glory and legitimacy. And it would be made in England. The facts, from the Norman perspective, would be laid out in glorious colour for all to see. (Being embroidered rather than woven means that technically it is an embroidery rather than a tapestry, but perhaps at that time the term “embroidery” didn’t quite convey the scale of the work. In any case, it is almost always called a tapestry rather than an embroidery.) At that time in Europe, territory was still being fought over; every time a new ruler acquired a crown they would eye up the possibility of extending their power by invading someone else’s land. Life was short, brutal and uncertain. Monarchs could not be certain of having sons, or even of having any surviving children, so crowns were passed to named inheritors. These were often adult male relatives, but not always. Sometimes they were allies. So when Edward the Confessor acceded to the throne of England in 1043, he was already calculating who to name as his successor. In 1045 he married Edith, daughter of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex (the most powerful man in England at that time) but they never had children. Some historians speculate that his religious scruples precluded consummation of the union. They theorise that having spent decades of exile in Normandy, he had already promised the crown to William Duke of Normandy, so his marriage was purely to get the powerful Earl on side. There was never any intention to breed an hier. On the other hand, why would Edward not want his own son to inherit? Also, it

seems unlikely that Godwin, the most powerful man in England, would happily allow his daughter to form an unconsummated marriage of convenience. Surely he would have the eye on the throne for his grandson? But whichever way it went, Edward and Edith had no children, and the obvious heir became Edith’s brother, Harold Godwinson. Edward might easily have promised him the throne; he had made Harold Earl of East Anglia the same year he married Edith. There was also the lurking threat from Scandinavia and many of the English ruling classes were keen to avoid the crown falling into the hands of the Norwegians, who also had claims to the throne. Harold needed all the allies and supporters he could get. He especially needed the loyalty of strong young warriors who could ride out and repel invaders. So it is quite possible that he gifted the inheritance to his brother-in-law. And then he fell out with Godwin, his father-in-law. In 1051, Edward ordered his father-in-

Clockwise, from above: The sighting of Halley’s Comet as seen in the tapestry; the death of Harold; William the Conqueror enjoying a celebratory feast

law to raise troops and sack Dover in retaliation for a deadly brawl, but Godwin instead raised troops against the king, who called on support from the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria. For a time it looked like civil war, but Godwin’s supporters didn’t have an appetite for a civil war. They backed down and Godwin and his family were exiled, but within a year Godwin was back with a large armed force demanding that several Norman nobles be banished, and Edward had no choice but to capitulate.

Harold is crowned King

The tapestry shows the Saxons behind their wall of shields and the Normans on horseback

When Godwin died the following year his son Harold Godwinson took over the reins and as Edward increasingly occupied himself with the construction of Westminster Abbey, Harold took over much of the running of the country. In 1062, Harold marched west and drove off an invading force from Wales. In 1064, he was shipwrecked off the coast of Normandy and was either held or was the guest of William, Duke of Normandy. Did he willingly offer to give up the crown to William? Or was he coerced? Either way, he appears to have sworn to hand it over on Edward’s death. It is hard to see how such a buccaneering warrior would have willingly handed power to a foreigner, however. The

throne was within his grasp, why would he not want it? What is known is that once Edward died, the Norwegian King Magnus and his son Harald Hardrada claimed the throne, as did William, Duke of Normandy. So in January 1066, just to make things clear, Harold II was crowned at St Paul’s cathedral. In response, both Harald Hardrada and William raised troops and planned invasions. The first to arrive was Hardrada from Norway, allied with the Orkney Vikings and Harold’s own brother Tostig. They landed in the north of the country, and Harold’s allies, the Earls of Mercia and Northumberland, failed to defeat them, so Harold II was forced to march north to York to do the job himself. He fought the invaders at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and won; both Hardrada and Tostig were killed, leaving only William with a rival claim to the throne. Hearing the news, William invaded England using a fleet of ships to carry 5,000 troops, horses, arms and supplies over the Channel from France, all of it paid for by his brother Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux. While Harold and his exhausted Saxon army were marching south from York as fast as they could, William landed at Pevensey, marched to Hastings and began constructing a wooden fort, Once Harold arrived in Hastings, rather

Bayeux tapestry 3

May 2018 I French Living

What does the tapestry tell us about the UK’s relationship with France, asks Kathryn Hurlock from The Conversation


than wait for reinforcements, he decided to take the enemy by surprise. He used a tactic of making a wall of shields, which the Normans could not break through. However, rumours started to run through the troops that William had been killed, and the Saxons broke ranks believing the battle had been won. Harold was killed, probably not by an arrow through the eye, but by a Norman armed with a sword. The events shown on the tapestry show a slightly different slant. It starts with a picture showing Edward the Confessor sending Harold to see William, Duke of Normandy – but then in another scene, Harold is taken prisoner by Guy, Count of Ponthieu. Messages are exchanged and Harold is released to William who invites him to go on a campaign against Conan II, the Duke of Brittany. On the way, the tapestry shows the Norman army stuck in quicksand near Mont-St-Michel and Harold saving two Norman soldiers. Harold and William together defeat Conan and William honours Harold with arms and armour, and Harold takes an oath on religious relics. The title of the image is explicit about an oath being taken but there is no mention of the oath’s contents. The next image, back in England, shows Edward remonstrating with Harold, who is depicted in a submissive position, as if in disgrace. The next image is of events around a year later, when Edward was dying and bequeathed the crown to Harold. There is then a scene showing Harold’s coronation. At that point a shooting star appears, possibly Halley’s Comet. Is it an omen? Ghostly ships are also depicted and there is then a picture of the invaders reaching England, landing and preparing a feast.

There are then images of a house being burned by soldiers and a woman holding a boy’s hand asking for clemency. Messages are exchanged between the two armies as the Normans build a motte and bailey construction at Hastings to defend their position. William then makes a speech to his army. The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 14, 1066 less than three weeks after the Battle of Stamford Bridge, but this is not referred to in the tapestry, which just shows the Battle of Hastings, with the Saxons behind their wall of shields and the Normans on horseback. The pictures show both armies fighting bravely, and William raising his visor to show his troops that he is not dead. Harold’s brothers, Leofwine and Gyrth are shown as falling in battle, while Bishop Odo is shown brandishing a mace. Harold is shown dying of an arrow in his head and from a sword blow. The scene shows dismembered soldiers and blood everywhere, and the final scene shows unarmed English troops running away from the battlefield. The tapestry is not complete; it appears that the last part of it is missing, although it is assumed that the lost section contained only one more scene, possibly William’s coronation. What it might have been is open to speculation. But what is known is that the tapestry was displayed in Bishop Odo’s residence and then later donated to the cathedral of Bayeux. The tapestry is currently on show at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Normandy. However, in January this year, President Macron announced that it will be loaned to London’s British Museum in 2022 for public display. It will be the first time that the tapestry has left France in 950 years.

he Bayeux Tapestry was probably commissioned by Odo, bishop of Bayeux and half-brother of William the Conqueror, to commemorate the Norman victory at Hastings in October 1066. Odo figures prominently in the work – and in one scene (top) holds a club as he goes to fight for his brother. The tapestry also told a story that explained and justified the conquest. The scenes depicting King Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson, who took the throne as Harold II on Edward’s death in 1066, imply that Harold went back on a promise sworn on the relics of Bayeux cathedral to support William’s claim. Instead, he took the crown for himself. In the wake of the Battle of Hastings, a new country was formed. England had been linked to other parts of Europe – Scandinavia, in particular – for centuries, but this connection endured and created strong links between England and Normandy which were to last for several centuries. They usually had the same ruler – and the destruction of the Anglo-Saxon nobility and gifting of lands in England to William’s followers meant England and Normandy had the same aristocracy, too. The conquering Normans married Anglo-Saxon women – and when they later went on to conquer parts of Wales and Ireland, they intermarried there, too. The conquest had a long lasting impact on English, and indeed British and Irish, history. The great castles and vast cathedrals we associate with medieval England and enjoy visiting were part of the Norman legacy, as was a new tendency to look south to Europe, rather than to the north – as had been the case before, as settlers came to England from Scandinavia. Being continental in outlook was par for the course. Around 10,000 Norman French words entered the English language, changing the way the English people expressed themselves then – and still do. For example, the old Saxon words for livestock (sheep, swine, cow) were retained, but English took on the French way of talking about cooked meat (mutton, pork, beef). New laws, such as

the ending of slavery, were merged in the decades after 1066, and the Anglo-Norman kings reformed English law and governance, introducing many of the systems still in use today (like the Exchequer) which came from the continent. England and France more broadly were intimately connected throughout the 12th century as additional lands in France came under the control of the English king. More than half of England’s kings at this time were born in France, and many chose to be buried there, too. Richard the Lionheart, that great hero of medieval English history, actually spent less than six months in England, preferring his French lands. Normandy was lost in 1204, but in the 14th century the Hundred Years War resurrected English claims to rule in France. The upset caused by the loss of English lands in France contributed to the Peasants Revolt of 1381 as people were sick of paying for a war they were not winning. The final loss of the French lands in 1453 was one of the causes of the Wars of the Roses. At this point, Calais was all that the English crown could claim in France. So traumatic was its eventual loss in 1558 that Queen Mary claimed when she died, if someone chose to look they would find Calais written in her heart. Even Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader and Brexit campaigner, chose to wear a tie depicting the tapestry as a reminder of “the last time we were invaded and taken over”. That is just one take on the Bayeux tapestry. What it shows, beyond dispute, is a time when England and Normandy united under one ruler. And while that was undoubtedly a catastrophe for the native English of 1066, the Norman conquest formed the England that we recognise today and brought the country closer to French continental politics. At a time when Britain is moving away from Europe, it is interesting that President Macron has finally agreed to let the tapestry come to England – not as a reminder that once part of France conquered and ruled England, but that once the two countries shared a common history that defined many of the things we think of as English today.

Kathryn Hurlock is a Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, Manchester Metropolitan University

Photos: Wikimedia/Myrabella

Tapestry for the ages of Franco-British relations

4 Rencontre

French Living I May 2018

“It is very exciting. We are beginning to understand the science of coffee” Photos: Café Caron

Jane Hanks talks to award-winning coffee roaster (torréfactrice) Anne Caron about the bean-to-cup process, and why too few of us ever get to taste a really good cup of coffee


nne Caron is the first woman to be named Best Coffee Roaster in France. After the death of her father, Sylvain, she took over the Maison Caron which he had founded in 1974 at Châtillon, Hauts-de-Seine. She is passionate about her job, and says it is time we all knew a little bit more about what makes a good cup of coffee. What does the job of coffee roaster, torréfacteur (or torréfactrice for a woman) involve? There are several parts to the job. First, you have to select the beans, then roast them and then advise your customers about the best way to use that particular blend to make a good drink. We use a similar vocabulary to wine, talking about Grand Crus, body, descriptions for describing flavours, but it remains the poor relation, with less interest in it. However, it is fascinating and there are very many different elements involved and the way each stage is carried out is essential to the end product. Only 2% of coffee drunk in France is produced in a non-industrial way and once you have tasted that kind of coffee you will understand the difference. Everyone should try a really good coffee. There are 700 independent torréfacteurs spread around France, so you should be able to find one. It is more expensive, about twice as much, but the difference should be greater as the work that goes into it is far more than double. Where do you start? First you have to select your coffee beans and the plantations they come from. I visit mine twice a year. They are all at high altitude because that is where the best coffee grows. When the beans are picked it is important that only the ripe ones are selected – not under-ripe, and not over-ripe, but just perfect. Our coffee is hand-picked, but machine-picked can be satisfactory as long as only the ripe beans are picked. There are two beans in every fruit and

they have to be separated from the rest of the fruit. For this there are two methods: the more expensive humid method and the dry method. Both are as good if they are done well, but give different results. Where does your coffee come from? We use beans from four places for our signature coffee, the Café Caron. There are le Huehuetenango beans from Guatemala which bring strength and character. The trees grow in volcanic soil at more than 1,500 metres altitude. Le Moka Sidamo beans from Ethiopia bring a roundness to the taste, El Capitan from Nicaragua add a touch of acidity and we have beans from the Cerrado region of Brazil, where the beans ripen slowly and evenly and which give a good balance to the blend. We have other coffees, which come from just one plantation, for example from Colombia. What happens when the beans arrive in your premises? First we have to assess the quality of the beans and decide what we want to get out of them, whether we want our final blend to be fruity, acidic or strong and what balance we are aiming for. The temperature, the length of time, the intensity of the roasting – all are important factors. The darker the end result, the more robust the flavour and the lighter it is the more acidic it will be.

There are a huge range of parameters to take into account. We have identified between 800 and 1,500 factors which make up the coffee taste. It is extremely subtle. The world of coffee is full of magic and today we are beginning to understand what happens to the bean as it is being roasted. It is very exciting as more and more research is being done into the chemistry behind the different reactions, and we are beginning to understand the science of coffee.

Only 2% of coffee drunk in France is produced in a nonindustrial way Anne Caron

Why do you think there are so few women coffee roasters? Traditionally coffee roasting businesses were looked after by couples. The husband would look after the roasting and the women would do the selling. However, women make very good roasters. They are more subtle in their approach and question themselves more, constantly asking how they could do better. I have just taken on a woman from Le Havre and she is very good. I would love to see more women in the business. Do you drink coffee? Of course. It is my passion. I drink coffee up until 2pm every day, but no later, otherwise I would drink too much. I never buy a coffee in a bistrot. Even good coffee can be ruined by using the wrong machine to make it in, and sadly, most often either the coffee or the machine tends to be bad. If you have to add sugar to your coffee

to get over the bitterness, then, that is not a good coffee. You do a lot of work to help the producer. Do you think we pay enough for our coffee? Producers are not paid enough for the work they do. I admire the work that the fairtrade labels do, but they do not guarantee a top quality coffee, so instead we have decided to put in place a scheme each year to help our own producers. Guatemala is a very poor country and there we have financed a school in the province of Jalapa in an area where there is very little education available for children. We have also put in an irrigation project in a coffee plantation to encourage farmers to stay with coffee and not to be tempted to grow more lucrative but less commendable crops. And in 2012 we built a medical unit close to the plantations. This year, we hope to help put in a co-operative sytem for coffee producers. Where do you sell your coffee? We sell a lot of our coffee direct to businesses selling coffee, we have a boutique in Paris and we sell via the internet. In our shop we also sell products flavoured with our coffee, such as chocolate and caramels. We also run workshops either for amateurs who want to know a little more about how to make a really good cup of coffee or for the increasing demand from professionals who want to learn how to become a professional barista.

Yann Tiersen Solo

Manic Street Preachers Elephant Sessions Rhiannon Giddens/Denez Prigent Catrin Finch - Seckou Keita et l’Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne

Calan • Soñj SOLO avec Le Vent du Nord et Du Temps Antan...


6 Gardens/Green news

French Living I May 2018

Gardens open for charity in 2018 As the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts gets set for another big year, founder Mick Moat spoke to Jane Hanks


Are you looking for gardens all over France? Yes. We cannot have too many gardens. The more we have, the more money we can raise for charities in France. We hope to be a national Association within four years, that is to say to have gardens in every department in France. At present we are particularly under represented in the east of the country with only one at present in Burgundy, for example.

Green news Tropics come to the Opal Coast With a temperature fixed between 26C and 29C, tropical fish, birds and butterflies as well as a huge waterfall, Tropicalia will be the largest tropical greenhouse in the world built under a single dome, says its creator Cédric Guérin. “The visitor will have a change of scenery that they will not see elsewhere,” he said. Highlights of the two-hectare site at Rang-du-Fliers near Berck in Nord-Pas de Calais, will include a tropical forest, a beach for skates and turtles, a touch pool, a huge basin for large Amazonian fish and a walking route more than 1km long. Intended as an innovative space for biodiversity and research, work begins in early 2019 with a budget of €50million.

Open in May

Saint-Amans-du-Pech, Tarn-et-Garonne Owner: Peter Aldous Mr Aldous says his garden has a lot of colour with sweeping herbaceous borders, with a wide variety of flowering plants and shrubs. There is also a picturesque pond, a summerhouse, chicken run, vegetable garden and an orchard. He says he hopes he will have a lot of visitors despite being the first one to open in the Tarn-et-Garonne. There will be tea and cakes on sale. Open: May 27 and June 3, 14.00-19.00

Open Gardens visitors can enjoy a look around the lovely jardin of Peter Aldous in Tarn-et-Garonne What commitment does it require from a garden owner? Usually people open just once a year, often on a Sunday. If they want to serve tea and coffee and cakes all the better to raise more money, but that is not a requirement. They do not have to give guided tours. We find that most visitors are happy to walk round on their own and then maybe ask questions to the gardener later. Often that involves asking how they have managed to grow such and such a plant, when they are having difficulties with it in their own garden, for example. Does your garden have to be in perfect condition on the day you open? No. We do not want people worrying that their garden must be pristine and that they have to get rid of every weed before they open the gates. We want our gardeners to be relaxed and enjoy the occasion. Gardens are there to be shared and enjoyed and not to be a study in science. How do you attract visitors to your garden? We send every garden a pack with leaflets, posters and direction signs and can help if you want to get in touch with the local press. This works well to attract Photo: Tropicalia

he Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts season 2018 starts in earnest this month with different gardens open every weekend across France. This is the association’s sixth year, encouraging garden owners of all nationalities to open up their gardens, big and small, to the public, to raise funds for charity. Last year they were able to hand out €23,500 to 11 chosen charities. €15,000 went to their main beneficiary, A Chacun son Everest, which runs courses in the Alps to help children and women who are in remission from cancer. Other charities include Quelque Chose en Plus, a centre for young people with a variety of disabilities, Réseau Bulle, which assists families and individuals affected by autism and Chiens Guides which trains and allocates guide dogs for the blind. Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year or pay €5 for a Day Pass which allows access to any of the gardens on the day of purchase. There is also the Anniversary card, which costs €35 and gives access to the privately owned gardens as well as a growing list of prestigious French gardens. The association started in 2013 when four British gardeners in the Creuse decided to open their gardens to see if they could raise money for charity, and the idea quickly caught on. Now the organisers are thrilled that 40% of the gardens are French owned, meaning it does not remain a purely British initiative. In 2018 Open Garden aims to have 200 gardens in 33 departments. However, President Mick Moat hopes that eventually there will be gardens all over France and he would love to welcome more gardens into the scheme. You do not need to have a perfectly maintained, stately home type garden: The minimum requirement is that there should be 30 minutes of interest. It can be a large garden to wander around or a small garden with a great variety of plants.

Tell your neighbours and friends who can spread the word and will often be happy to come along and support you

Sharing school dinners is a winner Among the winners at the 27th association of Eco-Mayors’ Eco Actions awards was a “solidarity resilience” prize presented to the mairie of the IXth arrondissement of Paris, for its redistribution of food surpluses from canteens to local charities. The Caisse des écoles entered into a partnership in spring 2017 with the association Le chaînon manquant (The missing link), which twice a week collects surplus food, produced by the central kitchen, from 90 professional partners in Ile-de-France. The association, which is now fully compliant with sanitary and food safety rules thanks to its refrigerated transport, has three electric vans, three employees and 150 volunteers. The main Eco-Actions prize was awarded to the town of Rosny-sous-Bois (SeineSaint-Denis), for the creation of a school eco-group at the Boutours nursery and

French visitors as they are very keen to look at gardens. If you know your local mayor, he or she may be able to help. A good way is to tell your neighbours and friends who can spread the word and who will often be happy to come along and support you, for what is a good cause. How many visitors are you likely to have? It can be anything from 25 to 80. They may well have already bought tickets via our website. If not, tickets are included in the pack. Garden owners tell us that at the end of an Open Day they are usually tired, but that it has been great to talk to people, that visitors are very appreciative and that it has been a positive experience. If anyone is interested in opening their garden please get in touch with Ronnie Ogier at If there is a group of at least six people who want more information, I will go anywhere in France to explain the scheme. Contact me on primary school. “One might fear that the lack of resources allocated to communities will weaken the effort, but the opposite is happening,” said Eco-Mayors president, Guy Geoffroy. Authorities combat eel traffickers Wearing bulletproof vests and night vision goggles and carrying automatic pistols, environmental police in Charente have been out in force tracking traffickers of elver (baby eels, otherwise known as glass eels), reported the Dépêche du Midi. “We’ve had threats, agents beaten up, forced blockades... and in one case last year, gunshots,” said Nicolas Surugue, director of the French Agency for Biodiversity in Nouvelle Aquitaine. “It’s organised gangs, therefore presents potential risks to our agents,” he added. The elver population has collapsed over the past 30 years and the eels sell for up

Also open in May Château de Mongenan (inset), Portets, Gironde; Owner: Florence Mothe. For one weekend, this garden, classified a Jardin Remarquable and open all year round for paid visits, welcomes Open Garden visitors. It is set in the grounds of an 18th century chateau. There is an ornamental garden with 200 different roses, an iris collection and vegetable garden plus fruit trees and medicinal herbs. Open May 12 and 13, 10-11.30; 14-18.00. 75, Rue de la Vieille Poste, Montpellier, Hérault. Owner Chantal Guiraud has been a passionate gardener for 38 years and has created a green oasis in an urban setting. She has designed it so the view from her house gives few indications she is surrounded by buildings. The garden is bursting with Mediterranean plants, many of them rare, as she loves to collect and experiment with new varieties. She has several flower beds, mostly with Mediterranean plants. Open Saturday May 5, 14-18.00. to €400 per kilo in France and as much as €2,000 on the Asian market. Last September, ten people in Nantes were convicted of elver poaching, three receiving prison terms. One defendant told police he had been out jogging at 3am. Minister urges biodiversity anger France’s Minister of Ecological Transition Nicolas Hulot gave an impassioned speech in French parliament calling for a “leap of indignation” to defend the planet’s fauna and flora, and deploring the fact that “nobody cares” about biodiversity. “30% fewer birds in a few years, 80% fewer insects in Europe, the last large white rhino male in North Africa has disappeared. It doesn’t cause me pain, not anger, but shame,” he told MPs, who responded with a standing ovation. “I just want to have a surge of outrage and reaction,” added Mr Hulot.

Gardening 7

Garden digest At the sharp end With its profile and popularity recently boosted by prominent foodies – Nigella Lawson gushingly called it ‘the caviar of the citrus world’ after a recent visit ‘Down under’, the tart-flavour Australian finger lime is the current on-trend ingredient. Citrus australasica has elongated, finger-shaped fruit varying from 6 to 12cm, and comes in shades of red, pink, yellow and green. They grow on a large, bushy and very thorny shrub whose evergreen leaves are dark green and elliptical in shape. Citrus caviar likes a soil rich in organic matter and needs a sunny, sheltered location. When growing in pots use a mixture of compost, garden soil and sand. Available from Jardiland and Gamm Vert. Heat seekers Among the winners at the Paysalia awards for garden innovation was a standalone cupboard from S20 Equipments with built-in heating, to quick-dry your soggy gardening clothes, gloves and boots. With its 1000W Eco programme it promises to dry your items in 90 minutes. See the range of driers, all made in the Vendée, at

Big design for a small space The newest addition to the Fermob range of stylish and hard-wearing garden furniture is aimed at those with limited space in which to sit and relax in comfort outside. The folding bistro table, which comes in a range of colours including bright red, honey and willow green, is not only practical and functional but can also be stowed away discreetly. With a steel frame and adjustable hooking system, the table can be attached to a balcony bar or wall-mounted. Price: €337 from

Photos David Austin roses; Cathy Thompson

Photo: Facebook/CitizenFarm

May 2018 I French Living

Pool resources

Live in the south of France and in the market for a new pool? Head to Salon Piscine, Spa & Jardin: Côté Var, a huge exhibition dedicated to swimming pools, spa and outdoor installations, from May 18-21. With 15,000 square metres of exhibition space and more than 100 regional, national and international exhibitors, the ‘village’ at Puget-sur-Argens will provide piscine inspiration, as well as outdoor design ideas. Another big pool salon will take place in Nice from September 14-17. www.niceorganisation. com has more details. For garden design inspiration in the Lyon area, visit the annual Salon Scènes de Jardin at Domaine de Lacroix-Laval. Landscape gardeners, horticulturists and nurseries, craftsmen, manufacturers and designers will proudly present new trends in the ‘art of living’ in the garden.

May arrives... smelling of roses From her Vosges garden, Cathy Thompson reveals her favourite varieties

French garden diary


ow many roses have you got in your garden? Please note that I do not mean hybrid teas and floribundas, but the real, old-fashioned sort and the species roses. If it is more than one, be cautioned that France might turn you into an addict. Here, roses don’t just scent the air... they positively reek of history. In May, the curtain is truly up on the rose season and the long-awaited flowers of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (inset) make an appearance. There is nothing comparable to the perfectly quartered shape of this rose – palest pink I can get any day, it’s the form that makes it exquisite. SDLM (as it is affectionately known) was not actually grown in Josephine Bonaparte’s famous rose garden at Malmaison, but her rose garden is definitely part of SDLM’s story. Josephine bought the estate in 1799 – cannily making her extravagant purchase when Napoleon was off campaigning in Egypt. She collected many plants internationally, including importing seed and plants from her native Martinique, but it is the roses for which she is best known. These often arrived by way of an English nurseryman, John Kennedy of London. One year she spent £2,600 with him and it was through him that the China roses, ‘Slater’s Crimson China’, ‘Parson’s Pink’ and ‘Hume’s Blush Tea-scented China’ arrived at Malmaison. And all this at the height of the Napoleonic wars! Unbelievably, there were even special arrangements made by the British and French admiralties for the safe passage of Kennedy and Hume’s Blush Teascented China to Malmaison during 1811. For this consignment (which included other plants), Josephine paid £700. Of course, the most important characteristic of these Chinese roses was that they were repeat-flowering, a feature unknown in the European roses of the time. They had been imported to

Europe in the eighteenth century, but it is highly likely that it was the fashionable trend set by Josephine at Malmaison which inspired French rose breeders to get busy with this new gene pool throughout the nineteenth century. Josephine had made France the home of the rose and new cultivars flooded onto the market.

The flowers are so solid when in bud that they turn to brown globes of misery in rainy weather

SDLM is a Bourbon rose, and so part of that valuable group of erratically repeat-flowering plants first found in a hedgerow on the Ile de Bourbon (now Ile de Réunion) as a natural hybrid between the old Autumn Damask and the recently imported China rose ‘Old Blush’. This group is important for gardeners who, like me, adore old-fashioned roses but are not so keen on the fact that they flower only once. David’s Austin’s lovely modern ‘old-fashioned’ varieties are superb, but I’m coming to realise that the Bourbons are far more tolerant of our hot summer sunshine. And, although tending to flower in flushes rather than continuously, some Bourbons such as Madame Isaac Péreire and Louise Odier are as reliably repeating as Austin’s best. This Bourbon characteristic is variable, however: SDLM has its best flowering in May, with another flush in late summer.

SDLM was bred and introduced by Beluze of Lyon in 1843, long after Josephine’s death in 1814. When he took the cut flowers to the city market they were sold in a trice, so much so that the plant seems to have turned his head a little. Initially reluctant to sell actual plants at all, he seems to have taken to stalking visitors to his nursery. It was reported that: ‘Beluze was so happy in the possession of this jewel [SDLM] that, whenever someone would enter his yard, he would place that person under the strictest surveillance, believing that otherwise the person would take many cuttings...’ In order to maximise flowering, SDLM needs pruning directly after the first flush and then (but only if necessary to restrict it a little) lightly in winter. It has one horrid flaw – it is a rose that ‘balls’ at the hint of a rain cloud. The flowers are so solid when in bud that they turn to brown globes of misery in rainy weather. Flowering at the same time as SDLM is a rose less romantically named, Blairii No 2 (pictured, above). Bred in 1845, this climbing rose is really lovely. Midpink with a darker centre and very thorny, vigorous stems, ensure that you prune quite hard just after the rose has flowered so that you don’t have to do so again in winter, removing the May flush of flowers as you do so. I know this to my cost: although another Bourbon, Blairii No. 2, sadly lacks the ‘remontant’ gene. MONTHLY TIPS Areas where bulbs have been naturalised in grass can safely be mown from the end of May. OVER TO YOU Give me your stories about the dreaded box blight and box tree caterpillar … how bad has it been and how do you cope? Have you tried a box replacement? I am trying yew and Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’. Email: Read Cathy’s garden blog at

8 The big interview Author Adam Thorpe was born in Paris but his first novel about rural England was a bestseller and now he lives in the Cévennes. He spoke to Jane Hanks about country life and the expat experience

French Living I May 2018

“The traditional rural way of life has thinned out”


dam Thorpe is a critically acclaimed writer. His first novel Ulverton, which is about the reality of harsh rural life through the ages in a fictional Berkshire village, was nominated for the Booker Prize and won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. It was described by writer John Fowles in The Guardian as “the most interesting novel I have read these last years… Suddenly English lives again”. Hilary Mantel has said of him that he is a writer’s writer: “There is no contemporary I admire more than Adam Thorpe.” His last novel, Missing Fay, was a Guardian and Sunday Times Book of the year in 2017. He has mostly written his eleven novels, poetry and short story collections and two non-fiction books from his home in the Cévennes. He has lived there for the past twenty-eight years with his wife and three children, who grew up and went to school in France. Three books are about being in France. No Telling is about a French schoolboy’s experience of May 68. The Standing Pool is a dark thriller about two Cambridge academics who take a sabbatical in a remote Languedoc farmhouse and their dreams of a rural paradise turn into a nightmare. His latest book, published this month, Notes from the Cévennes; Half a Lifetime in Provincial France, recounts his impressions of the land he has come to call home, written in his perceptive and poetic style. He talked to Connexion about his new book and love of the Cévennes: Why did you come to France and why the Cévennes? I took a sabbatical year to finish my first novel, Ulverton. I have to be political here, we had got fed up with Margaret Thatcher and it is a bit like now really, grim news after grim news. I was born in Paris and I think there was a native pull somewhere there because the first three years of my life were French. We had two very small boys, my daughter was not yet born, and we wanted a different experience in our early thirties. I knew the Cévennes from staying there with friends and I found it corresponded to the kind of wildness and remoteness that I was really looking for. I wanted to get somewhere where you couldn’t hear traffic in the background, or jets. A place full of birds and animals where I could look out and see nothing but the woods, forest, mountains. I finished the book in a matter of months in a very cold house, collecting wood and everything, but that was perfect for the novel really. I was experiencing all sorts of things I would not have

experienced back in England that were relevant to the rural past of England. In May, we made the decision not to go back. It could have been read as a foolish decision to leave both our jobs and carry on in this rather idealised life where we were fairly broke. We eventually bought a house from the advance for my following book as Ulverton did very well, unexpectedly. I’ve earned less since then so we have always lived slightly on the edge. What can you expect as a writer? It was the romantic life of a freelance writer. Now I’ve got a job teaching English in Nîmes art school and my wife Jo has a full time job teaching in a Nîmes lycée and we live in town during weekdays in term time, but our real home is the village I write about in the book. In your book you describe many of the local characters and often the hard lives they have lived and that rural life is not really the expat dream of living in the peace and quiet of a beautiful countryside. Do you think that is something many of us discover when we get here? Yes. Ulverton, which I was writing when I came here, is about shedding the English romance with the countryside, so in a way I felt I had walked into my novel with the stories and the sufferings and the tragedies you find in a rural village, but there are also the beautiful moments. We had moments of disbelief when we first came here in the sense of how could it be so beautiful. Imagine back in London diving into a crystal clear stream. The wildlife was extraordinary. There are wonderful places in England but it is a crowded countryside and I never felt I was sufficiently away from modern civilisation. I have never got bored with the Cévennes on a daily basis. Nature is always offering something.

Adam Thorpe in the rolling Cévennes countryside that he now calls home

What makes me really angry is the use of chemicals in the countryside

So does living somewhere beautiful make a difference to the way you live your life? Yes, I think it does. I am not saying life has been perfect since I moved here. Not at all. I miss friends. I even miss London and going to the theatre there. Here it is much freer, but that is not to say it has been without difficulty. I am fluent but not bilingual so the language was a challenge. I didn’t feel at home at first, and we had to create home in a way, and that took a number of years. My three children are in London now and we go quite often. When I arrive I think, why did we leave London? But after three days I begin to miss the Cévennes, the smells, the light, the sense of being in the deep countryside and the pace of life. The Cévennes is one of the hidden secrets of France. We link it with Robert Louis Stevenson and Travels with a donkey – but I for one had to go and look on a map of France to know exactly where it is. Can you describe it to me? It is the beginning of the Massif Central and covers a huge area, and its very distinctive history is tied up with its wildness, as this is where people fled to from oppression. That is why in the Second World War it was so important as a Resistance area. It is the place where the Huguenots resisted persecution from the Catholics. It is very underpopulated. There is no major road passing through the Cévennes, because it would be hell to carve a major road right through. There is the National Park, the only one in France with people living in it. There is no major city and it has pretty impressive mountains. Has it changed much over the past 28 years? Yes. There is more Tarmac and more modern villas now and people have inter-

net and satellite TV, so it used to be easier to cut yourself off and a lot of the traditional rural way of life has thinned out. A lot of the huge houses are empty now. Yet many of the electricity wires have been removed as there is now more sensitivity to the beauty of the countryside. There have been ecological gains. The rivers are getting cleaner and there are vultures and wolves now. In Notes from the Cévennes, you talk about many of the controversial themes which are debated in rural France. Do you think the wolves should be protected? It is a question where I sit on the fence a bit. If you talk to a shepherd you can understand that it can be catastrophic for them, and if their way of life was to go it would change the whole nature of the Cévennes. On the other hand the green argument is that this is their natural home and wolves can be very beneficial. It is a very tricky question. Hunting is another big issue in rural France. What is your attitude towards the hunters? As I describe in the book, I have briefly hunted and I know it is extraordinarily thrilling. It is deep in us and when you are part of it, it changes your perception of the countryside around you. However, I feel it is a human indulgence and when I came here I was very anti-hunting. But now, I have just absorbed it. When we see signs there are hunters, we just walk in the other direction. You have to accept it is part of a rural life. What I don’t accept and the issue that makes me really angry and I think is far more dangerous is the use of chemicals in the countryside. At the end of the book I talk about global warming. When you live in the countryside, you are very conscious of the weather and its impact and you know the dangers of climate change.

You have French nationality and you live deep in the countryside. Will Brexit make a difference to you? If I did not have a French passport I would be extremely anxious and even angrier than I am. At present I am really deeply ashamed of my country. The immigration problem could have been sorted out within Europe. My personal history means I have always been a Europhile. My father was in WWII which made him a deep Francophile as he was greeted very warmly by the French, so my personal life is bound up in it. I have always loved France – my birthplace – since I was a kid. I find Brexit almost spiritually offensive. I am not sure that it will ever happen. I think it is an “impossibilisme” as the French say. Your most recent novel Missing Fay was set in contemporary Britain. Was that difficult when you no longer live there? In some ways it helps. When I go to England I am picking up everything new, and I can see some things I wouldn’t have noticed if I was living in England. I go to enormous efforts to make sure I don’t sound like an expat who hasn’t got it quite right because I am out of date. I am a perfectionist and I will study the way people speak. If I am on a train I might hear a conversation, and I will write it down so I can find out exactly how people talk. Many, many writers have written about living in France. Why did you decide to do so, when you already have plenty of subjects to write about? I write a column in the Times Literary Supplement about living in France, which is a great honour for me as it is a paper I have read and admired since I was a teenager. My editor at Bloomsbury Continuum said he liked reading them and asked me if I would like to make a book out of them. I had been thinking about it and so I said yes. I wrote new parts for the book and the aim was to give it a kind of coherence, but for it not to be a proper memoir. It is anecdotal and poetic. It is more about the feeling of being somewhere in all its myriad complexity and there is humour in it. It is risky writing about local people, of course, even when their names have been changed out of respect, but it is an affectionate look.

The SlowUp cycling event in June in Alsace highlights the joy of ‘gentle’

The steady rise of slow tourism in rural France

Book extract

Every edition we assess an aspect of the French zeitgeist. This month: the trend towards less frantic holidays, by Jane Hanks

In the village where Adam Thorpe lives (no name because he does not want it identified), people used to make their living by making Cévenol silk which was regarded as some of the finest in the world. The silkworms used to feed on white mulberry trees that still grow there. This is an extract from Chapter One of Notes from the Cévennes. “In April, our children would bring back silkworm eggs from school as part of an annual project. In the old days, these were wrapped in cloth sachets and tucked between the warm breasts or thighs of the woman of the house, despite posters warning Ne faites jamais l’incubation dans le corsage (never use a bodice for incubation). Tiny black worms appeared and, instantly gorging on fresh mulberry leaves, grew fat and translucently white, like a resplendently helmeted maggot, the heart beating visibly in the tail. At one point, we had around 80 tiny jaws working through the daily supply from the three old mulberries that still grace our terraced garden, their forms gnarled and swollen by centuries of pollarding. The sound is like the rustle of rain in a wood.”


T Adam Thorpe attending the Parisot Literary Festival, Tarn-etGaronne, in 2017

Photo: Paul Bray

What would you say it says about living in France? I think it is an honouring of a place. Life is short. A large part of it is spent in certain places so it is interesting to see how they affect you at every level. And I wanted to inform the reader of a particular place. It is also inevitably about being an immigrant, being a foreigner. I think it is appropriate at this period. I think the whole business of being an expat is very interesting and I have written about that in The Standing Pool. I think it is a big deal to leave your native land, to make a home somewhere, where your language is not spoken. If you do live in a foreign place and you do not stay in your own bubble it gives you insight. I think moving to new places is a very important aspect of being human. Notes from the Cévennes; Half a Lifetime in Provincial France by Adam Thorpe, published by Bloomsbury Continuum, May 3 2018. Hardback ISBN 978 1472 9512 98; Price £16.99

Photo: Christian Fleith/ADT 67

Trending 9

May 2018 I French Living

he way to holiday in 2018 is all about taking time to appreciate your surroundings and getting to know an area well rather than frenetically leafing through the tourist book and putting the kilometres in to see as much as possible in a very short time. The key word in French is Slowtourisme, and it is becoming increasingly popular and accessible in France, a country with ideal facilities to welcome people who want to take their time discovering a new part of the world, stress free and at a leisurely pace. Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, has created a series of free videos on YouTube to encourage and give tutorials for professionals in the industry to tailor their activities to this form of tourism. In the introduction, the tutor Guillaume Delacour, head of open air and mountain tourism for Atout France, explains that the movement began in Italy at the end of the 1980s with Slow Food. In the 1990’s the principles of sustainable development and ecological living became popular and holidaymakers began to change the way in which they took their holidays, so that Slow Tourism has now become a concept, which is highly marketable. Research shows that putting the brakes on living in the fast lane is a profound and international social movement. A study by market research company Ipsos found that eight out of 10 Europeans want to slow down and that 53% of those questioned in France say they want to take their time when they visit a country, a town or a region. Mr Delacour gives a definition of slow tourism: “Slow tourists take the time to discover places, rather than let the kilometres race by with their foot on the fast pedal. Instead they travel by bike, on foot, on horseback or by boat and have the time to meet other people.” 80% of France is rural. There are 8,500kms of navigable rivers and canals, 65,000 footpaths, 2,500 equestrian tourist centres and nearly 14,000 kms of cycle paths, making the country ideal for people who want to travel slowly. Claire Bourgeois, spokesperson for Tourisme et Territoires, the umbrella

organisation for Departmental Tourist Offices, says slow tourism has always existed but is now more fashionable: “You have always been able to bike, walk or rent a gîte and relax and do very little if that was your choice, but now there are definitely more and more people choosing this type of holiday. Cycling in particular is increasingly popular.” In fact, cycling tourism is one of the most dynamic sectors of French tourism. In Alsace it is particularly important. Laure Herrmann is responsible for communications at Alsace Destination Tourisme: “In Alsace we have 2,500km of cycle paths attracting sports and leisure cyclists. We have produced booklets, which give detailed circuits for anyone on holiday who wants to spend just a day cycling with places to explore, where to eat, hire bikes etc. “Every year we have an event in June called SlowUp and it has become the biggest event in the calendar. Last year 40,000 people took part, which is amazing. It is a

Cycling tourism is one of the most dynamic sectors of French tourism

really friendly event where people can cycle along the whole, or just a small part, of a 30km circuit through picture postcard villages and vineyards with activities for children along the way, and plenty of places to stop and drink and eat. The idea is to come and participate and enjoy the event at your own pace and without any competitive element. It is free and you don’t have to sign up in advance.” Boating; riding on horseback; visiting a national park and observing the flora and fauna; hiking; staying in an éco-gîte; eating local regional food in season; meeting local people by taking part in the tour of a city organised by a Greeter (who will guide you round their city free of charge); and visiting a vineyard and tasting wine – these are all ways to relax, unwind and enjoy the good things in life and be part of the Slow Tourism movement.

10 May What’s on

French Living I May 2018

All the fun of the strawberry fair

Strawberry festival, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, May 13

Photos:Vallee Dordogne

For strawberry lovers across France, May brings to market the first juicefilled fruits of the season. But in the pretty riverside village of Beaulieusur-Dordogne in Limousin, they take their fraises even more seriously – by dedicating every second Sunday in May to glorifying this blushing Fragaria. As well as producers selling their freshly-picked scarlet goodies, the annual Fête de la Fraise sees the creation of oversized puds for all to share – visitors can tuck into a special ‘strawberry tree’ – a 30metre long cake requiring about 200kg of strawberries, 150kg of cream and 60litres of whipped cream!

More May events European museum night, across France, May 19

The 14th edition of the after-hours event ‘Night at the museum’ is organised by the Ministry of Culture and forms part of the programme for the European Year for Cultural Heritage, set up by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Last year’s event attracted two million culture vultures to 1,200 participating museums and venues. This year there will be a European theme to their visual arts, music or literature events. nuitdesmusees.culturecommunication. Jazz sous les Pommiers, Coutances, May 5-12 Held every year in Coutances (Manche, Normandy) during Ascension week, the ‘Jazz under the apple trees’ festival has an idyllic setting – the medieval castle of Bricquebec surrounded by ramparts. The eclectic programme ranges from “New Orleans” jazz to electronic music, and it includes many street shows – eight days of music, with nearly 400 professional musicians, spread over seven stages.

Les Foulées du Gois, l’Ile de Noirmoutier, Vendée, May 6 The passage du Gois, a “road under the sea” measuring 4,150m was, for a long time, the only link between the island of Noirmoutier and the mainland. Twice a day the sea recoils and exposes a ribbon of paving stones and bitumen. During this window, more than 1,500 participants will join running races for children, men and women, while the famous “Race Against the Sea” brings together thirty elite international athletes in a foot-race against the rising tide. Cannes Film Festival, May 9-20 All eyes turn to the Croisette and the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès for this glitzy gathering of Hollywood stars and directors, the best of world cinema and France’s finest, all under the astute direction of festival boss Thierry Frémaux. The 2018 festival jury will be headed up by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, who succeeds Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Last year, he and his fellow jury members awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or (for best film) to the Swedish tragicomedy The Square. Coutellia knife festival, May 19-20 The knife-maker’s craft is taken very seriously in France, and much respected, with prestigious couteaux made by generations of artisans from Nontron in the Dordogne to Laguiole in Aveyron. The biggest gathering for professionals and enthusiasts alike is Coutellia in Thiers, Puy-de-Dôme (Auvergne), where 220 producers from 20 countries come to show off their skills and their finely-crafted cutlery. Forge demonstrations and even corkscrew manufacturing displays make it an artisan-lover’s paradise. French MotoGP, May 18-20 The French Motorcycle Grand Prix at the historic Le Mans circuit in Sarthe is an important part of the MotoGP World

Championship calendar. Up to 100,000 petrolheads catch the action, and enjoy off-track distractions such as concerts and an area to stock up on merchandise. Public road users beware, however – in and around last year’s event local police caught 1,400 drivers speeding! European Bandas festival, Condom, May 11-13 A banda is a walking band with big horns and loud drums that gets the atmosphere going at street parties. In Place Bossuet, Condom (Gers), an annual festival-comecompetition sees groups battle it out to claim the prize for top banda of the year. This lively weekend is for fun-seekers only, not shrinking violets! VitiLoire, Tours, May 27-28 This free event aimed at promoting the wines of the Loire Valley takes place in the heart of Tours. VitiLoire presents a village of producers and craftsmen, cooking demonstrations by top chefs, a market, vintage wine bars, large guinguettestyle tables, a wine bookshop, hiking or cycling tours through the vineyards plus workshops to discover 70 or so AOCs. Expect wine tastings aplenty! Taste Paris, May 17-20 About 20 of the capital’s top chefs set up tiny pop-up eateries amid the grandeur of the Grand Palais to showcase their culinary talents to visiting foodies and fellow food professionals. Have a nibble here and there – small portions are available – or push the boat out for a VIP table. Among the top names represented will be Christophe Michalak and Alain Ducasse. Cheese festival, Rocamadour, Lot, May 20 Dedicated exclusively to AOP farmhouse cheeses, this friendly fair highlights quality products and the know-how of local producers. And, of course, there is no

better way to accompany these tasty cheeses than with a few sips of Quercy wine, such as Cahors, Coteaux du Quercy or Vin de pays du Lot. The ideal bread to eat with your cheese is a nice loaf of local Croustilot, with its hazlenut taste. French Open tennis, Paris, May 27-June 10 Enjoy two weeks of world-class tennis in the French capital, at the only clay court grand slam event. The defending champions are Jelena Ostapenko and Rafael Nadal, and this year’s winner’s purse is up to a whopping €2.2million, with overall prize money climbing by 10% to €39.2m. You can buy tickets from the Roland Garros website, with single ticket prices quoted at €20, but you need to register before buying. Fête de la Bretagne, May 18-27 While this annual celebration of all things Breton encompasses tradition in a big way with its exhibitions, concerts, fest noz (parties) and more, it also tips its hat to modern Brittany, with hip-hop and electronic music shows. There are also trips out to sea and gastronomy events, and do not worry if you cannot get to Brittany itself – the Breton spirit will also be celebrated around the world, from Paris to Peking, New York to Le Havre. Special effects – Steal the scene! Paris, until August 19 The acceptable side of ‘fake news’ is celebrated at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, which makes reference to blockbusters, commercials and popular series, to reveal the special effects techniques used to make movie magic. The ‘studio’ shows how post-production transforms the image into multiple layers of visual effects, while creative visitors can even record their own productions, to watch their own trailer at the end of their tour of the exhibition.

The Connexion works with local tourist offices for the information on this page. Due to possible last-minute changes to programmes and event timing we recommend that you always check with individual organisers before making a trip.

What’s on/Cultural digest 11 Photos: Thierry Houyel

May 2018 I French Living

Cinema’s loss and wartime shots A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in art, music and film

1. Discreet charm of Stéphane Audran Actress Stéphane Audran, a popular and much garlanded figure in French cinema whose success ran from the 50s to the 80s, passed away on March 27, aged 85. “Her presence, her elegance and her inimitable voice remain and resonate,” wrote France’s Culture Minster Françoise Nyssen wrote on Twitter.


Audran starred in 23 of husband Claude Chabrol’s films, many of which centred around murder and infidelity (including Le Boucher and Les Noces Rouges). She was previously married to fellow actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. A later career highlight came in 1987’s Oscar-winning Danish film Babette’s Feast, in which she played, with pareddown elegance, the titular housekeeper. It is said to be the Pope’s favourite film. 2. 1968 and all that... On going to press, it remained unclear if President Macron would formally mark 50 years since the social unrest of May 1968 that almost toppled de Gaulle’s government. Macron had appeared keen back in October 2017 but has since played down any official line on that year’s events. Meanwhile, La Terrasse at Nanterre university, where it all kicked off, is the place to see a retrospective exhibition: 1968/2018 looks at the role of artists and their depiction of May 68 events, both then and ever since.

Photo: CDT48 DT

D-Day Festival Normandy, May 26–June 10 For the 12th time, the tourist offices around the D-Day landing beaches will be organising many events in tribute to the Allied soldiers whose sacrifices and heroism laid the groundwork for the liberation of France on June 6 1944. On the opening Saturday morning an international march for peace kicks off at 10am and will conclude at the church at SainteMère-Eglise at 5pm. There will be a book fair in the village all day, and an exhibition of military vehicles a week later, as well as the Liberation banquet in the village’s church square. Elsewhere, at Picauville, Isigny-sur-Mer, Arromanches-les-Bains, Utah beach/ Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Carentan-les-Marais and Bayeux there are countless exhibitions, concerts, dances, guided tours and processions. Plan your trip using the event’s website:

3. Unseen war photos to be shown 40 photographs censored in France during World War One are to go on display in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime. The images were held back from public viewing not only to preserve French military interests, but also because their dissemination could call into question domestic stability and public support for the national wartime cause.

Some of them reveal military secrets or say too much about equipment or strategy, while others show injured soldiers and badly maintained frontline graves. Banned images of the Great War, now showing at Historique de la Défense, 4, rue du Port, Rochefort until June 30; 4. Family matters André Boudou, father of Laeticia Hallyday, has hit back at criticism of his family after it was revealed that deceased singer Johnny Hallyday’s two children, David and Laura, had been disinherited in a will made under American law (this act is illegal in France). “If he had not met us, Johnny would have died in ruins, he would not have had the end of career he knew, nor the national homage that France paid him,” Mr Boudou told Libération. “When Laeticia met him, Johnny was a depressive artist, full of drugs, with debts of €23million.” 5. Sun’s out, controversy’s about Abdellatif Kechiche received criticism from his two lead actresses for his filming methods on 2013’s Palme d’Or winner, explicit lesbian drama Blue is the


Warmest Colour (Léa Seydoux called the experience ‘horrible’). The acclaimed director returns with a teen romance, Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno, which has already got some critics complaining about the lingering shots of young female cast members’ bodies. One of the actresses, however, defended the director. “It’s a film about desire, so we shouldn’t delude ourselves,” said Ophélie Bau (pictured above).

Transhumance, Lozère, May 27

The longstanding custom of farmers bringing their cattle up to pasture in May and taking them down again in September is called transhumance and it provides a really fun day out for those who love rural French tradition. This happy and colourful celebration sees the beloved beasts dolled up for the occasion with flowers and bells and the gathering

is the perfect opportunity to have a party and tasty local meal. At the Col de Bonnecombe in Lozère, the herd will be blessed from 11.30am, then after grazing and posing until 2.30pm, they make their way uphill before having their garlands removed and settling in for summer in their new home. Meanwhile human grazers can enjoy some aligot with their beef kebabs, cheese, dessert and a drink for just €18.

Photo: Georges Dangereux, ECPAD


12 Recipes

French Livi

Best in class

Marjorie Taylor runs a cookery school with her daughter in Burgundy. Here she explains their cookery philosophy and offers three recipes


have always loved feeding people and gathering others around the table. Although I come from a large family, where big holiday gatherings were a normal part of growing up, the food prepared was never really the focus. I certainly didn’t come from a long line of great cooks, and so I spent many years teaching myself. I’ve always been hugely inspired by the writings of Julia Child, M. F. K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, Madeleine Kamman, and Alice Waters, and essentially taught myself to cook following many of their recipes. I admired their passion and the way they described how to cook in detail, using the techniques required to prepare each recipe by hand. Of course, these women all happened to be Francophiles, and I’m sure it’s not by accident that I’ve always felt connected to French food in the same way that Kendall has been drawn toward France. One of my very favourite cookbooks is Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters. I have a very well-worn copy that I continue to read to this day. I especially love the passage: “Good cooking is in the very best sense a craft, involving the heart, head, and hands simultaneously. . . . Teach your hands, above all, to remember that you are preparing food, not culinary artwork, that is to be savoured and shared with others at your table... This is cooking.” OUR COOKING PHILOSOPHY Our goal at The Cook’s Atelier is to help guests become more confident cooks. We welcome a wide variety of cooking levels, from total novices to restaurant chefs, in our Atelier kitchen. Our cooking philosophy is simple: It’s all about using seasonal ingredients, mastering classic French techniques, and developing intuition in the kitchen. Rather than focusing strictly on classic Burgundian cuisine, our recipes are inspired by the bounty of the region, with seasonal vegetables and artisanal products always front and centre. Your cooking will only be as good as the quality of ingredients you use. No matter how gifted you might be in technique, the end result will never be quite as good if you don’t take the time to pay attention to the seasons, and to where you source your food. Living in Beaune, we are fortunate to be able to find our ingredients locally and quite affordably. France, for the most part, still puts a significant value in the pleasure of eating well and supporting small farmers and artisan producers. As the world gets more and more homogenized, we feel that traditions such as kitchen gardens, small farms, and charcuterie- and cheese-making, as well as artisanal baking should be protected. We do our best to help support these crafts by shopping locally

and sharing these traditions with our guests as well. We enjoy teaching our guests what to look for when buying artisanal products, and encourage them to support their own small, local food producers back home. We are big believers that less is more when it comes to good cooking, and when you use best-quality ingredients, even the simplest dish will shine. Like the French, we shop for food more frequently and in smaller quantities, planning a menu around what’s available. We have a knack for spotting authentic farmers at the

Your cooking will only be as good as the quality of your ingredients

market and enjoy engaging with them and learning about their stories. To us, a true artisan food producer is someone who is growing, harvesting, and producing food, rather than just selling it at the market. We gain immense satisfaction in knowing that we are supporting small farmers and eating clean food. It’s important to strive to buy fresh produce in season – not only does it taste better, it’s also healthier and generally more affordable. Having a strong grasp of classic cooking techniques and basic core principles – from how to hold a knife properly, to mastering classic sauces and stocks, to understanding how

to properly sear, sauté, roast, braise, season, and so on – is the key to becoming a better cook. We always teach our students how to first make things by hand, instead of using a food processor or stand mixer, so they really get a feel for the process. Not that we are against machines, but there’s no substitute for your hands in the kitchen. When making bread or pastry dough, for example, using your hands gives you a memory of exactly how the dough should feel, so the next time you make the recipe, you’ll know when to add more flour or when to stop kneading. We created this book as an extension of our French cooking school, providing an approachable and beautiful Cooking School section, to give in-depth instruction on classic French cooking techniques and recipes we feel every cook should know (see pages 332–91). As you practice and begin to master the fundamentals of French cooking, your confidence as a cook will improve, empowering you to develop your own style of cooking. As you become a better cook, part of the journey is to let go of just following a recipe. We feel it’s important for a good cook to begin with certain fundamental classic techniques and methods, and then, with some practice, start to hone in on their own intuition in the kitchen to make a recipe ultimately into their own. Cooking should be enjoyable, and in our minds, it’s difficult to be a good cook if you don’t take pleasure in the actual process – and in eating. As you gain more and more confidence, you will be able to adapt recipes, making adjustments here and there, depending on what’s available in your region. We hope that you view our recipes not as a rigid dicta, but as suggestive guides to help hone your cooking

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Fava Beans Lamb is at its very best in the spring, and we make this dish at least once a year in celebration of the season. Ingredients, serves 8-10 1 (2.7kg) whole bone-in leg of lamb 10 sprigs rosemary, plus more for garnish Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper Extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 8 cloves garlic, smashed 1 lemon, thinly sliced 1 small handful of fresh sage 6 cups fresh shelled fava beans (from 2.7kg in the pod)

The Cook’s Atelier by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini (Abrams, On Sale: 10 Apr 2018, £35.00). Photographs copyright © 2018 Anson Smart

Method 1. Remove the leg of lamb from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before roasting. Remove any fell, the papery membrane cover ing the leg of lamb, plus any thick sections of fat. Be sure to leave a thin layer of the fat, so the lamb doesn’t dry out while roasting. Pat the lamb dry. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). 2. Using kitchen twine, tie the roast to secure the meat for even roasting. Place the sprigs of rosemary under the twine. Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a lar of oliv until h Add th brown 6 to 8 m garlic a use a s minute Place t until a in the reache rare, ab tempe upon s on a w minut 4. Make t pot of bowl w beans until ju Immed into th and pr beans remov green beans. beans the oli pepper Serve t platter beans, with ro

In season 13

ing I May 2018

This bright-green soup can be made the day before you serve it, and is delicious served warm or cold. Ingredients, serves 6 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 large yellow onion, chopped 960ml Vegetable Stock 6 cups fresh shelled sweet peas (from 2.7 kg in the pod) 25g fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 13g fresh mint leaves Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper Two slices thick bacon, cut into lardons 60ml crème fraîche 2 tablespoons heavy cream 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives; Chive blossoms or pea shoots (optional) Method 1. In a large heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about five minutes. Add (480ml) of the vegetable stock and bring it to a boil. Add the peas and simmer gently, adjusting the heat as needed, until tender, about 5 minutes. 2. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, mint, and the remaining 480ml vegeta ble stock. In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth, then strain through a chinois. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 3. In a small sauté pan, cook the lardons over medium heat until crispy and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer them to the paper towel–lined plate to remove excess grease and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, heavy cream, and chives. 4. Divide the soup among bowls and top each with a spoonful of the crème fraîche mixture. Garnish with the lardons and chive blossoms, if using, and serve immediately.

Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality... French seasonal basket Fruit Strawberry, rhubarb Recipe: Rhubarb and strawberry shortbread

Rustic apricot tart At the market in Beaune, we have the most beautiful rose-coloured Bergeron apricots in the late spring and early summer. They are perfect for this tart, as they are sweet and delicate, yet still hold their shape well. Ingredients, serves 6 Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting Pâte Sucrée (sweet pastry, see right) 1 large egg yolk 3 tablespoons heavy cream 100g sugar, plus more for sprinkling Seeds of ½ vanilla bean ¼ teaspoon fleur de sel 910g Bergeron apricots Crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

En saison: What to put on your plate in May

Ingredients: 500g rhubarb, 30g sweet butter, 50g brown sugar, 400g strawberries. For the dough: 180g flour, 150g very cold semi-salted butter, 70g sugar, the rind of a lemon, one egg and a yolk.

For the Pâte Sucrée 187.5g unbleached all-purpose flour 50g sugar 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel 112.5 g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1 large egg yolk 40ml heavy cream

Method: Pâte Sucrée 1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter. Using your hands, gently toss to coat the butter in the flour mixture. Scoop the mixture in your hands and gently press the flour mixture and butter between your fingertips until the mixture looks grainy, with some small pieces of butter still visible. Work quickly to ensure the butter stays cold. 2. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and cream. Drizzle over the dough and use a fork to gently toss until incorporated. Continue working the dough, gently squeezing it between your fingertips until it comes together and there is no dry flour visible. Be careful not to overwork the dough. It’s ready as soon as you can squish the dough in one hand and it stays together. Freeze it for 15 to 20 minutes. Method 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the egg over the dough. Partially blind bake the tart shell, then remove and raise the oven temperature to 400°F (205°C). 2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla seeds, and salt. Set aside. 3. Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. If the apricots are small, cut them into quarters; if they’re large, cut them into eighths. Place the apricots in a large bowl, sprinkle with the sugar mixture, and gently toss until evenly coated. 4. Working quickly, arrange the apricot slices, tightly overlapping, on the bottom of the tart shell, forming a tight, compact circle. The apricots will shrink as they cook, so try to fit as much fruit in the tart shell as possible. Scrape any remaining sugar mixture left in the bowl over the apricots, then lightly sprinkle them with more sugar. Bake until the pastry is golden and the fruit is cooked through and slightly caramelized, 40 to 45 minutes. The finished tart should have a jamlike consistency, with a golden, flaky crust. The liquid will be bubbling. Let the tart cool to room temperature before serving and then dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche. The tart is best eaten the day it is made.

Peel the rhubarb and cut it into chunks. Cook it over low heat for 15 minutes in a saucepan with brown sugar and butter. Reduce the juice until almost caramel-like. Dice the butter. Combine flour, butter, zest and sugar. Rub quickly with fingertips until coarse sand is obtained. Beat the whole egg and the yolk with a fork and add to the dough. Put it into a ball, then put it in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spread the dough in circles on parchment paper. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Arrange rhubarb and strawberries atop the shortbread at the last minute. Images: Fotolia

arge roasting pan, heat a drizzle ve oil over medium-high heat hot but not smoking. he lamb and sear, turning, until ned and caramelized on all sides, minutes. Add the butter and and, as soon as the butter melts, spoon to baste the lamb for a few tes. the pan in the oven and roast a meat thermometer inserted thickest part of the meat es 130°F (55°C) for mediumabout 1 hour. The internal erature will rise to 145°F (63°C) standing. Let the leg of lamb rest warm cutting board for about 20 tes before carving. the fava beans: Bring a large salted water to a boil and fill a with ice and water. Add the fava to the boiling water and blanch ust tender, 3 to 5 minutes. diately plunge the fava beans he ice water to stop the cooking reserve their color. Once the fava are cool enough to handle, ve them, then pop off their pale skins to release the bright green . Discard the skins. Place the in a large bowl and drizzle with ive oil and season with salt and er. the lamb whole on a large r surrounded with the fava , lemon slices, and sage. Garnish osemary.

Sweet Pea Soup with Crispy Bacon and Herbed Cream

belongs to the cruciferous family – it is a root vegetable just like cabbage. There are several varieties, different colours, sizes and shapes: pink, white, reds, blacks (the black one is a winter vegetable), bi-colored with white collar, long, round, small, big... France is the leading European producer with 51,000 tonnes produced annually, just ahead of the Netherlands. The two main production regions are Pays de Loire and Ile-de-France. Radishes can be stored in the vegetable box for about a week, but the leaves must be cut and washed beforehand. They can be eaten with bread and butter to enjoy its spicy flavour or served sliced in salads with other crudités.

Fish, shellfish and crustaceans Conger, sea bream, haddock, herring, turbot, monkfish, halibut, mackerel, whiting, sardine, albacore tuna, crayfish, langoustine, scallops. Focus on: sardines Sardines belongs to the Clupeidae family, the same as herring or anchovies. They live in schools in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, from Norway to Senegal. In season from April to September, it is a summer fish par excellence. Sardines should be eaten as soon as possible after purchase (keep for two days in the refrigerator). Recipe: Sardine rillettes Ingredients: two sardines, one lemon, 100g fromage frais, two tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon strong mustard, a few sprigs of chives.

Vegetables Asparagus, garlic, chard, chestnuts, watercress, fine herbs (parsley, dill, chives, oregano, sage, coriander, tarragon), sorrel, peas, radishes, turnips, carrots, early leeks, young spinach shoots, early potatoes, purslane, artichoke, beans.

In a saucepan, place the sardines in a large volume of water with a small handful of coarse salt. Bring to the boil, turn off and let cool in water. Drain the fish, remove skin, bones and crumble the flesh into a large bowl. Add the fromage frais, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, olive oil and mustard. Season with salt and pepper, stirring with a fork. Add chopped chives.

Focus on: radishes Fresh, light and crunchy, the radish

For our artisan cheese pick for May, see page 15

14 Food

French Living I May 2018

All hail the givers of our daily bread


he baguette, the universal food of France, is celebrated this month at the Fête du Pain, May 14-20. The festival is held every year, throughout the country, to coincide with Saint Honoré’s Day on May 16, the day the patron saint of bakers is celebrated. The baguette is a symbol of France along with the Tour Eiffel, wine, cheese and the beret, and bakers are asking Unesco to award it the Intangible Cultural Heritage label, alongside foods such as pizzas from Naples. Backing the move, President Macron said: “The baguette is envied around the world. We must preserve its excellence and our expertise, and it is for this reason it should be heritage-listed.” The baguette is still first choice for customers at the boulangerie, bought by 12 million across the country every day. A study carried out for members of the baking profession found that for 60% of consumers, their favourite loaf is still the baguette. Bread is still eaten at all the main meals of the day, but mainly at lunch and dinner and increasingly in sandwiches, often bought ready-made. The baguette shape is unique and there are many different stories claiming to explain its origins. Some say that Napole-

Every little detail is important in getting it right and it is remarkably complex Djibril Bodian, Award-winning baker

on ordered a bread that could be carried easily by his soldiers. Others claim that the first long breads were introduced by a Viennese baker, August Zang, who founded a bakery in Paris in 1839, called la Boulangerie Viennoise. The bread, which used brewer’s yeast instead of sourdough and included milk in the recipe, became very fashionable, but was only accessible to the rich. In the 1920s, this version went as rules were introduced for bakers, which meant they could not start work before 4am so they needed a bread that was quick to make – a long

starts at 2am and finishes at 2pm, or later. “People may have the idea that making baguettes every day could become boring, but not at all. Every little detail is important in getting it right and it is remarkably complex. So there is always something new to learn, a different way of doing things. There is a lot of observation: why is it like this today, and how can I make it like that tomorrow? “You have to adapt to the weather so use different timings in summer than winter, for example. You have to have a lot of patience. You must not rush the processes. If you begin to think you’ve mastered the skill and relax just a little bit, you will soon find your baguettes are not as good as they were.” He says his contribution is only one part of the process: “Every element is crucial. You need a good miller who will provide consistently good flour. Your oven needs to be working perfectly so that you can maintain the temperature you want. I can have the best technique in the world but if the basic ingredients are not good, the baguette won’t be either.” A good baguette, he says, is one that has plenty of holes in the crumb, which means it is light and airy, and with a crust, which is not too thick. His baguettes weigh 300g, more than most and a deliberate decision to get, what is for him, a better balance between crust and crumb. Slow processes at every stage are necessary for a good result. It can take between eight and twenty-four hours to make a baguette, depending on the baker. This is the method Djibril Bodian uses every day: “At 8pm the bakers on the evening shift mix the flour and water together and leave it overnight. When I arrive at 2am, I add the salt and yeast and knead the mixture. I then leave it to rise for two hours and during the first hour I fold it in on itself every twenty minutes, so three times. The dough then goes into a cold storage chamber, between 5°C and 10°C, where it stays until it is needed. “We cook it in batches so that there is always fresh bread to buy during the day. When I bring the dough out I leave it to come up to room temperature for around 10 to 20 minutes, I then divide it, form it, and leave for another 10 minutes before putting it in the oven at 260°C for twenty minutes.” Long proving and long cooking makes a bread which is much better for you than quick baked, white, soft industrial baguettes he says: “I explain to the public that for those people who do not have an actual allergy to glutens, many of the digestive problems other people associate with gluten are related to the way in which bread is made, rather than the flour itself.” He says baguettes are by far the most popular bread he sells: “The baguette is also beginning to gain in popularity in other countries, like China and Japan. I think there are more and more people who want to become bakers and learn the trade and the baguette has a long future ahead of it.” The Fête du Pain runs from May 1420, while the Concours National de la Meilleure Baguette de Tradition Française takes place May 13, 14 and 15 at a stand in front of Notre-Dame cathedral, Paris. Find other events on

Bread photo: Christophe Bellière

12million people buy a baguette every day. Jane Hanks looks at this national institution and meets an awardwinning Paris baker

and thin bread, like the Viennese one, suited the regulations. They left the milk out to make it cheaper but as that meant it no longer kept as fresh for long, customers had to come back daily for more. Another explanation is that at the end of the 19th century employers were getting fed up with violent brawls among their workers which ended in serious injury –because the knife everyone carried to cut their bread was used in fights. So the Mairie in Paris introduced the baguette which could be divided up by hand, without need for a metal blade. There seems to be no definitive explanation but what perhaps makes it popular is that it is practical. It is easy to carry and easy to break into suitably sized pieces and adaptable for use in sandwiches, to be dipped into the bol au café at breakfast and served in baskets at meals in restaurants. It is best suited to town dwellers, as you do need to make regular visits to a nearby bakery if you want to eat fresh bread – it is particularly popular in Paris. Even if there are strict rules for bakery

Djibril Bodian at his bakery Le Grenier à Pain in Paris. The baker has twice won the coveted prize for the best traditional baguette in France

opening times – they are not allowed to open seven days a week – there are no regulations for the size and weight of a baguette. Traditionally it is 50cm long. In some areas of France it weighs 250g, but in others the baguette is 200g and the flute is 250g. However, if a baguette is sold as traditionnel in a bakery, it must adhere to regulations set out in 1993 which only allow four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast to be used with no additives, other than a miniscule amount of soya flour or malt. Despite just four ingredients bakers say that a baguette is never the same from one bakery to the other, and despite its simple appearance, it is surprisingly difficult to produce the perfect baguette.

A master baker’s top tips

Djibril Bodian has twice won the Concours National de la Meilleure Baguette de Tradition Française (National Competition for the Best Traditional Baguette) held during the Fête du Pain, but says he is still working on improving his product. He produces a thousand a day during the week and 1,600 at the weekends for the bakery Le Grenier à Pain in the 18th arrondissement in Paris. His working day

Wine and Cheese 15 Photos: Frederik Vandaele/Wikipedia; Pixabay

May 2018 I French Living

Photo: Seine-Maritime Tourisme

Photo: Homer Ectus/Wikipedia


he invention of Le Caramel de Pommes Dieppois, a delicious spread in a jar, made from three Normandy ingredient (apples, sugar and butter) has breathed new life into an association which makes employment of people with disabilities a priority, and which was struggling to continue after the recession of 2008. The idea came from a Dieppe chocolatier, Jean-Pierre Roussel who sold a chocolate with an apple and caramel filling in his shop. He helped out as a volunteer at the Ateliers d’Etran at Martin-Eglise near Dieppe which has several different activities and gives employment to around 200 handicapped people. When he saw times were hard he developed his recipe and after a year the soft apple spread with hints of caramel was ready to hit the shops. “We started with a small copper pan and did everything by hand,” says Isabelle Lemaitre, who supervises the project. “But very quickly customers found it so hard to resist they were coming back for more and there was a crescendo. Our original 16kg capacity pan has now been replaced by one which takes 142kg. Last year we sold more than 20,000 pots and every year demand is increasing.” When asked if Le Caramel de Pommes Dieppois is anything like Nutella, the answer is a definite no. “It is completely unique and there is nothing you can compare it with,” says Mrs Lemaitre. “It is somewhere between a purée and a caramel. It uses local ingredients. Apples, brown sugar from local beet and butter, both salty and non-salty, combined in a secret recipe I cannot tell you about. There are three flavours on sale; natural, salted butter and cinnamon. You can eat it on bread or it is really good with brioche and you can also cook with it as it goes very well with white meat or scallops.” A team of nine makes the spread; two supervisors and seven who have disabilities or handicaps and would have found it difficult to find work elsewhere. They are working on other recipes with apple purée as a base. For those with a sweet tooth there is candyfloss, liquorice or marshmallow and for the more sophisticated, ginger and calvados, poppy and tonka bean and carrot, cumin and coriander. You can visit the workshop either by ringing direct or via the Normandy Tourist Office which organises monthly tours.

Produced from the milk of the Salers cows in Auvergne, Saint-Nectaire is a semi-soft, AOP (since 1995) cheese that has a mushroom nose and a complex taste with distinct hazlenut and spicy notes. It takes an average of 15 litres of milk to make a Saint-Nectaire round, which weighs an average of 1.7kg and measures around 21cm wide. Back in the 17th century the cheese – which is aged on rye straw – was so well regarded that it even made it to the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, who was said to be a big fan of the fromage. To buy Saint-Nectaire in situ from an artisan cheesemaker today, head for the grassy, volcanic land of Pays des MontsDore, where there are 20 or so ‘affineurs’ who mature the cheese.

Local speciality: Méert waffles Photo: Pâtisserie Meert / Jean-Philippe Metsers

Meet the producers

Artisan cheese of the month: Saint-Nectaire

Martine Aubry, the mayor of Lille, offers all of her visitors some Méert waffles, such is their sweet, symbolic standing in the city. To visit to Chez Méert in Old Lille – all gilded counters and painted ceilings – is to go back in time. But it is the waffles, filled with a divine Madagascar vanilla butter, that take you to another place!

Can I avoid fraudulently labelled wine?

The buyer has few tricks of his own to prevent AOP rip-offs, says Jonathan Hesford A year in the vineyard


arch saw yet another wine négociant prosecuted for wine fraud. The company Raphaël Michel, alleged to be France’s number one trader of bulk wine, is believed to have been convicted of selling Vin de France as the AOPs Côtes-duRhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It was reported that up to 450,000hl, the equivalent of 65 million bottles, have been sold fraudulently over a period of three years, which coincidentally corresponded to a 400% increase in the share price. See our April edition for more on this. Raphaël Michel is a major supplier of wine to UK supermarkets under a number of different labels as well as having a large market in China. They import wines from Chile, Argentina, Australia and South Africa as well as buying from over 1,000 different growers in France. Négociants are companies which buy grapes, juice and wine from multiple sources, including caves cooperatives and independent estates, to blend and perhaps modify, before either being sold in bag-in-box or bottle under their own label or that of the customer, for example a supermarket own-brand. Wine may also pass in bulk through the hands of several négociants before being bottled. No matter who the wines are bought

The whole French wine market is based on the relative desirability of the AOPs, from Margaux to Muscadet

from or how the wines are blended, they must always be kept in their separate Appellations d’Origine Protégées (AOPs). A paper trail going back to the vineyard of origin, follows the wine through its journey. That paper trail is monitored by the Douanes (customs officials) and can be verified by audits of the physical stocks of wine and sales records. That paper trail can be very complicated which is why it can take years before the douanes have enough evidence to intervene. The whole French wine market is based on the relative desirability of the AOPs, from Margaux and Châteauneuf-du-Pape to Corbières and Muscadet. Beneath the AOPs are the regional wines bearing an Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP), which used to be called Vin de Pays. At the bottom of the hierarchy is Vin de France (VDF) which can be made from grapes from anywhere in France with few quality regulations or controls. Because consumers are willing to pay significantly more for a prestigious or well-known AOP than a lesser one or an IGP, there is always the temptation to fraudulently blend or redesignate wine up the prestige tree. Wine traders know that very few consumers would be able to tell if their Châteauneuf had been cut with 10% of some IGP Grenache, for example. It’s also true that the AOP is no guarantee of absolute quality. There are plenty of mediocre Saint Emilion and Bourgogne wines out there that could be improved by the skilful addition of some ripe Merlot or Syrah from further south. It is said that this practice has been going on for centuries, before AOPs became official. As well as cutting prestige wines with cheaper ones – the most common type of wine fraud – some traders are bold enough to simply rebrand batches of cheap wine as something more desirable. So while the consumer may not necessarily be getting a worse bottle of wine when négociants illegally blend in “less-

er” wines, they are not getting what they think they are buying and the négociants is getting paid more than they normally would. Perhaps more importantly for the wine trade, these forms of fraud undermine consumer confidence in France’s wine regulations and AOPs, which can damage sales of honestly labelled wines. In nearly every case of fraud that I can remember, it has been a négociant which has been found guilty. In France, the distinction between a négociant and a récoltant is quite distinct. A récoltant grows, makes and bottles their own wine and cannot by law buy in grapes or wine from other sources. So their ability to blend fraudulently is limited to their own vineyards. So how do we spot a récoltant wine from a négociant wine? Unfortunately, there are few rules to stop a négociant labelling their wine “Chateau Whatever” or “Domaine Blabla”. Those properties don’t even need to exist. Even the words “mise en bouteille au chateau” don’t tell you anything other than where the wine was finally bottled. However, the tax capsule, which covers the top of the bottle (pictured, inset), will either have the words “récoltant” or “négociant”, or just R or N for short. Négociants sometimes use a capsule saying “Eleveur” or “E” implying that they have aged the wine in their cellars. So inspecting the top of the bottle is just as important as, if not more than, knowing the name of the AOP when trying to chose a good and authentic wine. It is also worth noting that independent wine shops or cavistes are far more likely to know the true source of the wines they sell than a supermarket, who tend to be the victims of this kind of fraud. Jonathan Hesford has a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University, New Zealand and is the owner, vigneron and winemaker of Domaine Treloar in the Roussillon – visit

16 Interiors

French Living I May 2018

Effortlessly chic in a particulier style As a former fashion PR and now a successful homeware designer, Pierre Sauvage knows all about cool interiors. Here he talks about his Rive Gauche apartment, his career change and shares some tips for creating a stylish home

What made you decide to switch directions and launch a career in designer homeware and decoration? I felt I had done everything in the world of press and public relations. I loved working for Dior and for Castelbajac, and, after that, for agencies, but I wanted to work for myself, to put my energies into developing a collection and expanding a business. There was only one brand for whom I could imagine shaping the future, and

Photos: Vincent Thibert


his is a love story. It began three years ago, when Pierre Sauvage first set eyes on this apartment on the piano nobile of an eighteenth-century mansion in the heart of the Rive Gauche (Left Bank). He knew then that it would be hard to resist: “We were living in the same neighbourhood, in an apartment in a typical Haussmannian building which I had decorated in a very comfortable nineteenth-century style. But here I was seduced by the magnificence of the rooms, the light that flooded them, the extraordinary quietness of the place, and the unique feeling of being in a chateau in the center of Paris.” With ceilings just over 18 feet (nearly 5½ metres) high and rooms that, while small in number, were vast in size, Sauvage retained the original layout, while counterbalancing it with bold floor coverings: “The panelling is listed and the architecture is classic, so I put the focus on rugs and mixed and matched textures and fabrics, like David Hicks did in the 1970s.” For the walls he chose a palette of blue and green, while the drapes are in plain colours to give a lift to the overall feel. The same passion for bringing different styles face to face is evident in his choice of paintings and objects, with huge canvases by contemporary artists such as William Monk and Guillaume Bresson rubbing shoulders with more rustic provincial and sometimes almost ethnic craftwork, including baskets, ceramics, and glass, in a profusion that Sauvage describes as “creating surprises and sometimes generating an exuberance of which Parisians so often – and mistakenly – deprive themselves.” A word to the wise.

that was Casa Lopez. It wasn’t just that I was already familiar with it, since I had handled its media relations over a long period, but I also loved the style of its owner, Bernard Magniant. Eventually, in October 2014, he agreed to allow me to buy it. Since then I have set out to give it a higher global profile as a designer homeware brand, while at the same time keeping its prices relatively affordable. There has always been a lightness of touch about Casa Lopez, a relaxed approach to decoration and interior design, and you can see this in its ranges of boldly patterned rugs – put one of these down in a room and it changes the whole atmosphere How would you describe the Casa Lopez style? The style is vibrant and Mediterranean, and all our ranges feature a combination of the rustic and the sophisticated, of materials that are simple and noble. Our rugs may be woven in a combination of jute and wool, for instance, while some of our furniture items, like the low Spanish sideboards made especially for us in woven cane, have extraordinarily

intricate decoration. The Casa Lopez style is perhaps best encapsulated in our tableware. Provençal Terre Mêlée services and dishes decorated with reworkings of sixteenth century Andalusian designs create the kind of vivid and colourful table settings that my guests enjoy. I attach huge importance to the notion

Buy the book

From Effortless Style: Casa Lopez, by Pierre Sauvage and Fabienne Reybaud, Flammarion 2018. Photography by Vincent Thibert.

of comfort. Everything must be both visual and tactile, with sofas that are welcoming to sit on and textiles that are soft to the touch. Being able to feel comfortable in your own home is absolutely fundamental. Even when I lived in tiny apartments, I always had normal-sized furniture. There is nothing worse than small things in small spaces: it makes everything seem smaller. And a garden, or even a balcony, is still an excellent way of keeping the outside world at bay and opening up new vistas. Would you say that your art de vivre is typically French? I don’t know about that! All I know is that my passion for bold floor coverings and drapes has more to do with British and American styles in decoration. But at the same time my fascination with the product, my obsession with detail, both in the table settings and the menus of the dinners I give, seems to me very French! The way we entertain nowadays is different from the last century. French couples used to be given a dinner service and a trousseau of linen when they got married, which would last them for the rest of their lives. Now that our lives are so different and we have so many more products to choose from, we tend to mix dishes with different patterns instead of having a single service. And young couples can no longer be bothered with cleaning silver for the table, so it is disappearing, which is a shame. Contemporary decoration reflects contemporary fashion: people mix and match designer and antique pieces with more inexpensive items. The most important thing is to respect the spirit of your living space while at the same time having fun with it. This is what I have set out to do in Paris, in Normandy, and in the Lubéron. Interview by Fabienne Reybaud. Next issue, Pierre on how he created idyllic rustic chic in Normandy and Provence.

Get the look Don’t reside in a big Parisian apartment? Fear not – just steal the style with some astute high street purchases... Prices and availability correct at time of going to press. Put your feet up This Hampton ‘flame orange’ pouffe in sumptuous touchable velvet lends some fiery contrast to beige neutrality in your lounge. £129, Leaning light This Titouan floor lamp designed by Emmanuel Gallina and available from La Redoute, features a base and stem in matt black metal and perfectly blends artisanal and contemporary design. Its rounded lines bring softness while the lampshade, woven from bamboo and covered with sheets of rice paper, diffuses a soft, subdued and warm light: €599, Looking for the third dimension? Wooden panels are very elegant but not all dining rooms and lounges boast the height of Pierre’s apartment. So try a modern twist, with a fun 3D wood wall from Model shown: Lagos, from €82 per square metre.

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18 Puzzles

French Living I May 2018

Bilingual cryptic crossword


1 Remembered about having to pick up newspaper boss (11) 7 Tool found in sack (3) 9 Bitterly regret besieging old northern city (5) 10 Welsh footballer about to make a speech marked by complexity (9) 11 Tense with uncontrollable anger at girl cut short by Corneille for example (9) 12 Strange sounding bird’s nest (5) 13 City poet’s pastoral poem (7) 15 Sailors obtaining wine regularly for nothing in Dieppe (4) 18 Counter bishop’s cutting remark (4) 20 Draw from a pamphlet in speech (7) 23 Bishop stopping to look at a greenhouse in Tours (5) 24 Work taking time when Rene’s ploughing (9) 26 Lucien’s using arsenic from the east inside until it goes off (9) 27 Managed to get into church displaying Louis XIV’s skull (5) 28 The price paid for services of French fairy (3) 29 Extremely French to find old soldiers joining workers in race (11)

1 Raise it uncertainly after start of really uncommon occurrences (8) 2 Guilty French sailor stabs husband and wife (8) 3 Gabin’s slow with books in general (5) 4 A Christian recluse before taking power they say (7) 5 Henri’s pull with coach (7) 6 Peculiarly French part played by Mark probes depression (9) 7 Gaspard’s plough found by soldiers in river (6) 8 Number of the Spanish flat (6) 14 Where Marvin Gaye heard it from a fruit producer (9) 16 Absurd behaviour with mother returning for husband of Amaline’s friend (8) 17 Most difficult to produce new form of steps without support (8) 19 Gangster caught in explosion caused by stabilising material (7) 20 French referee in area almost catches what Suárez did to Ivanović after a bit of ribbing (7) 21 Famous poem appears after drugs are found on queen’s skiff in Calais (6) 22 Celeste’s right over road turning by it near the centre of Brest (6) 25 Head of Chemistry at length introduced to a French pawnbroker (5)

Q: Jarre married which British actress in 1978?

2 Brandade de _____, a rich Mediterranean dish of whipped salt cod and olive oil (5)

9 Bordure rigide for a painting (5)

3 Salad with tuna or anchovies from Mediterranean resort (7)

11 A sob rather than a tear (7) 13 Résidus d’origine végétale: ______ vert (6) 15 Perpetrator of a cambriolage (6) 18 Economie de quelque chose (7) 19 Un adverbe qui définit une période de temps (4) 22 Could be a life saver: _____ antivenimeux (5)

4 “Si 50 millions de personnes disent une ______, c’est quand même une ______” – Anatole France (6) 5 Geographical and quality certification abbreviation for wine and other products (1,1,1) 6 Diacritic under the letter ‘c’ to signify it’s to be pronounced as ‘s’ (7) 7 Evénement imprévu (8) 12 Keep these in your list of contacts (8) 14 Grief or sadness (7)

24 Slice of pain or jambon (7)

16 City and administrative capital of Centre-Val de Loire region (7)

25 Way of life favouring a return to nature, which might include vegetari anism and the shedding of clothes (9)

17 Make one’s will (6) 20 Habitation d’une colonie d’abeilles (5) 21 Most people have five of these; some even have six (4) 23 Single distinct element of speech or writing (3)

3 Did you know?

2. Moral man WHICH 19th-century American author and humorist, who was described by William Faulkner as ‘the father of American literature’, described France as follows: “France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country”?

1 Limb, qui va de l’épaule au poignet (4)

8 Fruit comestible à la chair et à la peau jaune (7)

On September 19, 1783, little more than three months after the first public demonstration of a hot-air balloon, the Aérostat Réveillon took its first passengers in a basket in front of a crowd at the royal palace in Versailles, before King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes, covered two miles (3km), and the balloon reached a height of about 460metres before landing safely..

Q: We know the Montgolfier brothers invented the hot-air balloon, but who were their first passengers?

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Lyon-born electronic music pioneer, Jean-Michel Jarre’s December 1976 album Oxygène sold 15million copies (by 2004 he had sold an estimated 80m albums in total); and his concerts dominate lists of biggest-ever audiences. These are known for their spectacular visuals. The biggest shows attracted a one million strong audience for a Bastille Day show in Place de la Concorde in 1979 and 3.5million to a gig in Moscow in 1997.

2 Highest mountain in France (4,5)

10 Peaked cap such as worn by a gendarme (4)

Photo: Wikimedia

1 Musical behemoth

by John Foley

Note all answers are words or names associated with France Across Down

Photo: Miemo

Answers are in French and English Across

Fun French facts

French-themed crossword

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Puzzles 19

May 2018 I French Living

Guess the region...

France has 13 regions, some recently formed by combining previous ones. Every issue we pick a spot, all you need to do is work out which region it is in...

Clue: Pass me a hankie, please...

Test your knowledge of France with our Connexion quiz

18 In July 2010 at the French National Athletics Championships in Valence, sprinter Christophe Lemaitre became the first white European to officially achieve what sporting feat?


Which oil company from Aquitaine whose name was a three-letter acronym for French Gasoline and Lubricants, was merged into the multinational concern which became ‘Total’ in 2003?

12 Which English playwright’s first major success was the 1936 romantic comedy French Without Tears, set in an intensive language school in a villa in the south of France?


Name the unfinished novel by concentration camp victim Irène Némirovsky, published only in 2004, and made into a film starring Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts in 2015.

13 What French currency was replaced in 1794 by the decimal franc? It was made up of 20 sous, each of which was in turn made up of 12 deniers.


What is the most obvious British equivalent of the French organisation known as the Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse (FUAJ)?

14 First exhibited at the Paris Observatory in 1851, physicist Léon Foucault’s famous ‘pendulum’ was intended to demonstrate and prove what natural phenomenon as simply as possible?

19 Which of the five ‘mother’ sauces of French cuisine is an emulsion of egg yolk, butter and lemon juice or white wine, and takes its name from that of a fellow EU member country? 20 What is the name of the fanatically determined inspector of police who remorselessly tracks down Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables?




11 Which département of southwestern France takes its name from the huge estuary formed by the junction of the rivers Garonne and Dordogne?

Guess the region The Textile and Fashion Museum in Cholet, Maineet-Loire, Pays de la Loire region. It is housed in an old bleaching factory. The red handkerchief is the town’s symbol.

17 What is the English name of the 1886 musical suite by Camille Saint Saëns which includes movements called Poules et coqs, Aquarium and Personnages à longues oreilles?

Quiz 1 Sur le Pont d’Avignon, 2 Temeraire, 3 Neymar, 4 Grand Marnier, 5 Elf, 6Suite Française, 7 YHA (Youth Hostels Assoc.), 8 Rue de Rivoli, 9 Va Va Voom, 10 Confiture, 11 Gironde, 12 Terence Rattigan, 13 Livre, 14 The rotation of the earth, 15 Idéfix, 16 Bocage, 17 The Carnival of the Animals, 18 Run 100m under 10 secs, 19 Hollandaise, 20Javert.

10 What nine-letter French word is used in English to lend a little upmarket glamour to a product which is essentially a stewed fruit preserve – or, in other words, jam?

Anagram: Givenchy

4 Which orange-flavoured Cognac liqueur created in 1880 and most familiar in its ‘Cordon Rouge’ edition, is typically used as an alternative to Cointreau in Sidecar and Margarita cocktails?

16 What French name is given to the dense hedgerow countryside, typical of lower Normandy, which made fighting in the immediate aftermath of D-Day in June 1944 such an arduous affair?

What alliterative term encapsulating vigour and excitement became closely associated in the UK with footballer Thierry Henry, after he used it in a series of Renault Clio TV adverts?

Bilingual cryptic crossword Across: 1 Recollected, 7 Axe, 9 Rouen, 10 Elaborate, 11 Tragedian, 12 Eyrie, 13 Eclogue, 15 Rien, 18 Barb, 20 Attract, 23 Serre, 24 Labourage, 26 Utilisant, 27 Crâne, 28 Fée, 29 Extrêmement.

What is the name of the footballer who moved to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for a world record fee of nearly £200 million?


Down: 1 Rarities, 2 Coupable, 3 Lente, 4 Eremite, 5 Trainer, 6 Drôlement, 7 Araire, 8 Eleven, 14 Grapevine, 16 Camarade, 17 Steepest, 19 Ballast, 20 Arbitre, 21 Esquif, 22 Droite, 25 Uncle.


15 In the comic book stories of Astérix, what is the original French name of the small dog who accompanies Obélix everywhere, and who is called Dogmatix in the English versions?

French-themed crossword Across: 2 Mont Blanc, 8 abricot, 9 cadre, 10 képi, 11 sanglot, 13 déchet, 15 voleur, 18 épargne, 19 lors, 22 sérum, 24 tranche, 25 naturisme.

What was the French name of the British ship-of-the-line which fought at Trafalgar and which can be seen in a famous painting by J.M.W. Turner, on its way to the breaker’s yard in 1838?

Take the first letter from the answers to the questions indicated below and rearrange the letters to spell out the name of a French fashion brand. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their surname. Questions 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 15, 19

8 Which famous Parisian thoroughfare runs along the north side of the Louvre as far as the Place de la Concorde, and takes its name from a 1797 battle won in Italy by Napoleon?

Down: 1 bras, 2 morue, 3 Niçoise, 4 bêtise, 5 AOC, 6 cédille, 7 aventure, 12 adresses, 14 chagrin, 16 Orléans, 17 tester, 20 ruche, 21 sens, 23 mot.


Try our quiz

Fun French facts 1 Charlotte Rampling. 2 Mark Twain 3 A sheep, a duck and a rooster.

1 ‘On y danse, on y danse’ (‘People dance there, people dance’) is the second line of which very well-known traditional French song?

20 Reviews French films A critical eye on the latest ciné releases Jeune Femme Dir: Léonor Serraille; 97 mins

French Living I May 2018 The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse, Mantle, £20 ISBN: 978-1-5098-0683-6 ALL THE horrors of the Wars of Religion come to life in the opening pages of this, the first in a centuries spanning trilogy by Labyrinth author Kate Mosse. A history lesson on the wars which raged in the latter part of the 16th century, a confusing prologue in southern Africa, the nightmare of the Inquisition in Toulouse and then a bad dream in Carcassonne sketch the tale ahead. But, initially at least, it is a very rough sketch and quite confusing... with tantalising glimpses of the story of bookseller’s daughter Minou Joubert and Huguenot convert Piet Reydon. A love story of a Catholic, a Protestant and a price-

less relic as they try to unravel the secret of the mysterious Château de Puivert, this book revels in tangled loyalties and the threat of betrayal. Nineteen year-old Minou is opening her father’s bookshop when she finds a letter addressed to her by her given name of Marguerite lying on the doormat. The letter inside has just five words: “She knows that you live”. Piet is at confession when he realises that soldiers are also in the church and are hunting him. As the bells chime the hour he makes a break for the door and escapes into the maze of Carcassonne streets. There is terror in the Midi streets...

Editor’s choice

Books - The 20 minute review

Connexion journalists read the latest French releases. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time France 2018, Rick Steves, Avalon Travel, $25.99 ISBN: 978-1-63121-668-8

DESPITE not benefitting from ‘big film’ distribution, this debut by Léonor Seraille earned the young filmmaker the Best First Film prize at Cannes in 2017. Jeune Femme is a comedy centred on thirty-year-old Paula, played with oodles of charm and energy by Laetitia Dosch, who is back in the capital after living abroad and a relationship break-up. Broke Paula’s life is chaotic: from her relationships with men to her attempts to find work – babysitting for a bourgeois family or starting a new job as a saleswoman in a lingerie shop bar. Whatever she tries, she does so with life-affirming gusto that others sometimes cannot cope with: “I knew you were a pain, Paula, I just didn’t realise how much,” says an exasperated flatmate at one point, before showing her the door. The film is free-flowing and aimless, just like the topsy-turvy life of the likeable Paula – who surely symbolises an untethered generation of thirty-somethings in France. It also invites the viewer to be, just like her, intensely ‘in the moment’. Thank goodness for her one constant and calming companion: an impossibly fluffy white cat, Muchaca, which she has ‘catnapped’.

Also out: Gaston Lagaffe One of France’s best loved comic strip characters, a lazy office junior, comes to the big screen in a live-action slapstick.

LEADING travel writer Rick Steves has done much to tell Americans how best to enjoy Europe. This updated version of his France guide is a dense companion chockfull of information on his pick of the places to visit, eat and sleep. Incredibly detailed, it gives useful tips on where to go and when, with handy local maps – but not how long it will take to drive between sights and that can sometimes decide which ones to visit. The map of “top destinations” in his overview contains a startling omission… Paris, Alps, Burgundy, Lyon, Provence, Riviera, Brittany, Normandy, Dordogne – but no Bordeaux. Perhaps Mr Steves prefers Burgundy, but despite having a TGV train link that puts Paris just two hours away, Bordeaux is only mentioned in a two-page entry on St-Emilion. He may have mislaid the ‘B’ page from his notebook as he has no Bayonne, Biarritz, Basques or the beaches that run for dozens of miles up the Atlantic coast. Elsewhere, however, it is hard to fault his dedication to saving the visitor from over-spending and finding the best ways to enjoy life almost like a local. There are fewer photos than in other guidebooks, but that’s what the internet is for and the information here is invaluable.

I Love You Too Much, Alicia Drake, Picador, £14.99 ISBN: 978-1-5098-4892-8 THIS is a Paris seen from an insider’s viewpoint, a young boy unhappy with himself and the world; ignored but all-seeing. Unloved in his mother’s new relationship and with a father who lives to work – and criticise Paul’s schoolwork – he is being brought up by the family maid. Unloved and overfed. Paul has a different view on life, he is coming into his teens in what seems like an unchanging city but where everything is falling apart round him… especially with the arrival of a new ‘sister’. Meeting his first friend, Scarlett, his feelings start to shift but she has a hunger for excitement, even danger, leaving Paul with his loneliness, the stench of abuse and a fear of what will come. The writing alone pulls you along as well as Paul’s quirky take on life but this is not a fun read. Extraordinary but dark.

After The Winter, Guadalupe Nettel, MacLehose, £14.99 ISBN: 978-0-85705-510-1 NEUROSES and passions collide as shy Mexican woman Cecilia moves to Paris to study literature and meets obsessive Cuban Claudio, a dark, misogynistic character that should be instantly unlikeable but is not. Cecilia is fascinated by funerals and French literature – the former, since discovering a grave in her grandmother’s yard, the latter from the bequest of a library near her home. She is the type of woman who buys a bicycle to get round Paris and then takes it on the RER and who is delighted when she takes a flat with a view over Père Lachaise graveyard. She meets sickly young Tom and he persuades her that the dead are part of us, living on inside us. She is left in despair when he moves away. Then Cecilia and Claudio meet by chance and it is a whirlwind of emotion and phobias as their natures collide and drive them on.

Minced, Marinated and Murdered, Noël Balen and Vanessa Barrot Le French Book, $16.95 ISBN: 978-193947-467-4 A MURDER mystery and mouth-watering trip to the bouchons of Lyon as food writer Laure Grenadier visits the foodie capital for a magazine article. A snapshot of a past age is given on the opening page as the cook is chopping up rutabagas – the good old swede or Scottish turnip – to feed the troops and using a vegetable that vanished from French kitchens in the post-war years as people were tired of it. Then straight into the modern day, where a chef has dumped traditional butter-rich recipes for oil and is repaid with an intruder’s rolling pin to the back of the head. Laure is shocked. The chef was a close friend and she was due to visit him… and she is naturally curious, so does some detective work of her own. But the murder and the second that follows – yet another on Laure’s list – soon after are mere background here, where the food is the key. Tantalising menus and a diet regime to treat gourmands for obesity and even a recipe that will put all the weight back on… wonderful. In its way, this is a foodie’s guide to Lyon: some of the best names and addresses – a real taste of the city and a real flavour of its lifestyle. With a murder mystery thrown in for spice.

Sound a right note with these musical phrases Language notes Next month, France’s musicians, both amateur and professional, will be entertaining the crowds with street performances, impromptu gigs and concert hall shows for the annual Fête de la musique (June 21). To celebrate the occasion, here we present some useful French idioms that evoke hearing, musicality or instruments to make their point. Do keep an ear out for them (être a l’écoute) – perhaps some will be music to your ears (musique à vos oreilles)... When talking in everyday conversation you might strive to hit the right note – trouver le ton juste or be as clear as a bell – parfaitement clair (perfectly clear). You might get it wrong and simply repeat yourself, like a broken record (comme un disque rayé). If you have a big ego, beware – you may get accused of marching to the beat of your

You might strive to hit the right note

own drum – the French say “marcher de son propre pas” (to walk at your own pace). Even worse, do not blow your own trumpet – chanter ses propres louanges – you will literally be singing your own praises and will have to face the music (affronter les consequences, or face the consequences). If you are not happy about something, be careful not to make a song and dance about it – faire toute un histoire. And if you change your tune, the phrase someone might accuse you of is changer de refrain /changer son fusil d’épaule – a musical metaphor dating from the end of the 19th century, meaning to change the shoulder on which your rifle sits. The more modest might be happy to play second fiddle to another person – this is translated as jouer les seconds rôles à côté de quelqu’un (play the second role alongside someone) and on a literal musical note, you might play something by ear – jouer a l’oreille.

Shopping/Did you know? 21

May 2018 I French Living

Photo: Babolat


New products, designs and ideas from around France

Fromage in the frame

PRESIDENT Charles de Gaulle may have once declared it impossible to govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese, but he might have found life a little more simple had he been able to consult one of these encyclopedic cheese posters on his Elysée wall. The number of cheeses the country produces might have risen to over 1,000 but this cunningly devised and meticulously plotted wheel-spoke chart simplifies understanding of the major cheese types, lists those which benefit from the prestigious label of excellence and geographical origin AOP (appellation d’origine protégée) label, and provides tips on the best French wines (or cider!) to accompany them. The poster, coloured in shades of pale olive for a fits-anywhere neutrality, measures 70x50cm and costs €39. It is one of a series of designs by La Majorette à Moustache, a company that creates witty or topical visual posters pertaining to French life and culture. Others available include a timeline of Les Bleus football shirts and Vaches de France (cows of France).

Flower power

Time to get fruity

combining sweet savoir-faire with the finest ingredients since 1969, Alpes-deHaute-Provence family confiseur François Doucet was awarded the prestigious Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivante in 2017. The ethos of keeping things local means that 75% of the ripe fruit they use to create delicate confit fruits come from France while 50% of nuts for their chocolate-covered almond ‘olives’ are grown in Provence. Among the biggest sellers are these sticky and flavourful aromatic pâtes de fruits (€14).

Le Creuset cookware is best known for being solid and simple in its appearance – efficient in the oven yet elegant when placed on the dinner table. Now the makers of the enamelled casserole dishes (Le Creuset items are cast individually in sand moulds, then finished and hand-inspected by French craftsmen) have teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Jean Sulpice to create the ‘Relief Fleurs’ range, adding some decorative texture and a little flourish. The cast iron casserole (price €279), which can also be used as a sauté pan on the hob, is adorned with embossed flowers on the lid and base and features a stylish textured matte white finish. This new range also includes a mug (€15) and cafetière (€59).

A moveable literary feast

WHY bother packing half a dozen paperbacks in your suitcase this summer break when you can fit 8,000 onto a connected Bookeen Saga e-reader? This elegant reading companion, available in a range of colours, has a soft but strong silicone cover that remembers the last page you read. It runs on one charge for weeks at a time, is adaptable for left-handers and its FrontLight technology gives clarity and comfort for the eyes, day or night, beach or bed. It comes with pre-loaded e-books while new or favourite titles can be purchased via the Bookeen e-bookstore. RRP: €139.90.

Stretching natural gut to make tennis strings at the Babolat factory

Natural gut tennis strings were a French invention Did you know?


awn Tennis was invented by a Welshman, Major Walter Wingfield in 1873, but the all important tennis racket strings were invented in France in 1875. Up until then, the Babolat company, based in Lyon, used natural gut to make strings for musical instruments and as casings for cooked meats. However, when they were approached by sports equipment inventor, Englishman George Bussey, to turn their skills to the world of sport, they jumped at the challenge and became the first to produce strings for tennis rackets. Now they are the number one world supplier of strings as well as number one for balls in France and rackets in Europe, the USA and Japan. Synthetic strings are made on their premises at Corbas, Lyon and natural gut strings are made at Ploërmel in Brittany. There is a factory producing stringing machines in Besançon. Babolat are the official stringers, rackets and ball suppliers at Roland Garros which starts this month on May 27 – they use up to 46km of strings in their workshop during one tournament. The company quickly cornered the market in tennis strings as the game grew rapidly in popularity. In the 1920s Suzanne Lenglen, the very first female tennis star, used their strings and so did the so-called Musketeers – Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri

Cochet and René Lacoste – who won the Davis Cup for France. It has remained a family affair. Eric Babolat is the present CEO and is the great-great-grandson of founder Pierre Babolat. In 1925, his son, Albert Babolat, developed the VS natural gut string which became their benchmark product and is still sold today. In 1955 Pierre’s grandson, Paul, developed the first Babolat synthetic string. A second generation Pierre Babolat created the first tennis racket frame and Eric Babolat, who became head of the family company in 1998, has further diversified to introduce tennis balls and shoes to their range plus the first digitally connected racket. 25% of top players use Babolat strings. The world record for the fastest service was by Andy Roddick in 2004 using Babolat strings and was 249km/h (155mph.) One racket uses 12metres of string and the company says that 50% of a racket’s performance is down to the strings and the rest is due to the frame. Most players now use synthetic strings, but the company still produce them out of gut, which comes from cows, and contrary to popular belief has never been from cats. Several stages are needed to create the string. First, 42mm wide bands are cut from the 40-60metre long intestines. They are then stretched, stripped of the gut’s internal layer made of transverse cells to keep only the lengthwise cells for elasticity. Seven strips are then twisted together to make a string. They go through seven chemical baths to tan, whiten and clean the material before being dried and tested. Only the best get through the strict quality control.

22 History: Anaïs Nin

French Living I May 2018

Paris and passion: the life and erotic Anaïs Nin was in the vanguard of female erotic fiction writers. Samantha David meets the author Paul Herron, who offers a glimpse into her wild life in Paris and complex tangle of relationships


naïs Nin (1903-1977) is perhaps most famous for her affair with Henry Miller, but her affair with Paris was arguably more significant. Born in France, she spent much of her childhood in the United States, only returning to Paris in 1924 a year after her first marriage, to banker Hugh Parker Guiler. At first, according to biographer Paul Herron, she loathed it. “She found France and Paris in particular, dirty, immoral, old, decrepit and horrible. It took her years to lose that puritanical attitude instilled by her mother and a New York childhood.” Bit by bit, as her husband pursued his banking career, Nin’s writing brought her into contact with the city’s flourishing creative community. She took flamenco lessons, published a critique of DH Lawrence, and became fascinated by psychoanalysis, studying with René Allendy and Otto Rank – both of whom became her lovers. In her extensive diaries, she says she first came across erotic literature in Paris, devouring “French paperbacks” until she had a “degree in erotic law”. Her novel Henry and June, based on her 1931-1934 diaries, detailed her passionate affair with Henry Miller, along with her desire for personal and sexual liberation. “The fact is, Paris had transformed her,” says Paul Herron. “By the time she met Miller, she was tinder just waiting for a flame.” The book was made into a film in 1990 (Henry and June, directed by Philip Kaufman) which cemented her reputation as a sexually liberated diarist and erotic writer. June Miller, Henry’s wife at that time, was portrayed as fatally attractive to both Anaïs and Henry; an irresistible, cunning, erotic, femme fatale. Although the diaries do not make it clear whether Nin and June Miller’s affair was sexual or not, they detail an intimate, passionate friendship during which Nin showered June with money, jewellery, and clothes. In the film, the relationships are portrayed as a love-triangle, Nin sleeping with both Henry and June. Her novel House of Incest, published in 1936 contains allusions to a brief sexual relationship she had with her father in 1933. She later alleged that he had sexually abused her as a child, and wrote more extensively about incest. Her husband remained devoted to her throughout all these dramas, and at the outbreak of World War Two, the couple moved back to the United States. There, her relationships with writers including Henry Miller, John Steinbeck, Antonin Artaud, Gore Vidal, and Lawrence Durrell continued. In 1944 she published a collection of short stories entitled Under a Glass Bell and with

Miller and some of her other friends, almost as a joke, embarked on a series of erotic narratives which were eventually published as Delta of Venus, Little Birds and Auletris.

The Paris effect Her experiences in Paris had shaped her approach to writing as well as to life. “Even now, attitudes to sex are very different in France and in the US,” notes Paul Herron. “But back then the contrast was huge, and in Paris she found herself in a society which was liberal and accepting of erotic love. Even today, Americans are blinded to quite a lot of literature because of their attitudes to sex. “She always longed to move back to France, but never found a practical way to do so. She did return for a visit in 1958, and fell in love with the city all over again. She was on her way back from the World Fair in Brussels, ostensibly in Paris to market her books, but in reality she was there to look up old friends.” Her life in the United States was, by that time, famously complicated. In 1947, she had met a young actor (16 years her junior) called Rupert Pole and started an affair with him. In 1955, despite still being married to Hugh Guiler she had married her lover, and was living with him in California while Guiler was still in New York apparently unaware of his wife’s double life. Later, Nin called this period a ‘bicoastal trapeze’ detailing how she had prescriptions and cheque books in the names of both Anaïs Pole and Anaïs Guiler, keeping separate handbags for California and New York. Eventually, in 1966, she had her marriage to Pole annulled due to complications arising from being claimed as a dependent on both men’s tax forms. She continued living with Pole until her death in 1977, however, apparently without sacrificing one iota of Guilder’s goodwill. No wonder she could not find any practical way to relocate to Paris. But her life there continues to fascinate people, many of whom retrace her steps around the City of Love. “It has changed since Nin’s time,” says Paul Herron. “It is no longer the artistic centre of the world. Café society no longer exists in the same way, but there are still traces of it, and social attitudes are still much more open in France than in the US.” Paul Herron is an expert on Anaïs Nin, and the founder of Sky Blue Press. He has interviewed people who knew her, including her agent Gunther Stuhlmann, and scholars who have studied her. He is the author of Anaïs Nin, A Book of Mirrors. “I first discovered her when I saw Henry and June at the cinema. I had no

Above and inset: Anaïs Nin in New York in the 70s; Nin attends a book signing in Berkeley, California in 1946

I had no idea these were real people and I was swept into a magical world. I knew I had to visit Paris Paul Herron, Anaïs Nin biographer

idea these were real people and I was swept into a magical world. I just started reading everything about them and I knew I had to visit Paris. My French wasn’t good back then but I knew something special was going to happen. We stayed in a Parisian flophouse which reminded me of scenes in the Tropic of Cancer, it was so full of ambiance and stories. It wasn’t a tourist trap, it was just a really tacky place.” So he tracked down every address; the house where Nin was born, the cafes and bars she frequented, and he took the train out to Louveciennes on the edge of Paris to see the house she lived in with Guiler from 1931-1935. “I asked people for directions, but non-one had heard of her, so someone took me to meet the town’s historian, which is how I got to know Jacques Laÿ who had written a book about her.”

Architecture 23

May 2018 I French Living

Photos: Pixabay; Arnaud Lemaire/Wikimedia Commons

ic times of Anaïs Nin

God’s hostel still raises a glass for good causes Photos: Paul Herron; Wikipedia; Main portrait: Elsa Dorfman

Clockwise, from top: Paul Herron with Nin’s brother Joaquín Nin-Culmell at her former home in Paris; Nin dressed to impress; the well-received film version of Henry and June Laÿ sold Paul Herron a copy of his book and then took him to see her empty, run-down house. “At that time it was being used by squatters and drug users, because the owners refused to sell it but couldn’t afford to do it up. Various people in the town wanted to pull it down because it was lowering the tone.” In the late 90s someone finally bought the house from the owner and restored it and then it was sold to the actor Jean-Hugues Anglade and in 2003, on what would have been Nin’s 100th birthday, Herron and Laÿ were invited to visit the house and see the interior. It is still privately owned. Herron had not finished following Nin’s tracks, however, and next he met Sharon Spencer, a close friend of Anaïs Nin, who had written an erotic novel called Dance of the Ariadnes.

“I offered to publish it, and she asked if Nin’s brother, Joaquín Nin-Culmell, would write a preface, which is how I got to know him. I was living in Michigan and he lived in Berkeley, California so in the end we met and spent an afternoon with him. He was very affable. Showed me all the family pictures and mementos.” And finally, he met Britt Arenander, who had translated Nin’s book and become interested in her as a writer. “She lived in Paris, so she had been able to do a huge amount of research and put all this information together about her time in France. So I edited and published that book in 2012: Anaïs Nin’s Lost World (in English). It’s the book I wish I had written about Anaïs Nin’s Paris.” Anaïs Nin, A Book of Mirrors by Paul Herron;

Emily Commander visits Beaune in Burgundy, where the town’s historic almshouse plays host to an annual charity wine auction Secret history of buildings


ne of the most prestigious wine auctions in the world takes place every year on the third Sunday in November in Beaune, Burgundy. Organised by Christie’s, it attracts fine wine connoisseurs with big budgets looking to buy grands crus and premiers crus, and the amounts raised act as an international barometer for that year’s vintage. Surprisingly, though, its goal is not to make private profit, but to raise money for a 500-year-old charitable foundation known as Les Hospices de Beaune. The Beaune Hospices were originally a charitable almshouse, founded in 1443 by the Chancellor of Burgundy, Nicolas Rolin, as a hospital for the poor. The original building, called the Hôtel-Dieu, with its colourful roof tiles, is now a museum, with patient services located in state-ofthe-art modern facilities on the same site. Since 1457, the property has also included 60 acres of vineyards, originally donated by Guillemette Levernier, which to this day produce the wines sold in auction in the great hall of the Hôtel-Dieu. When Rolin founded the Hospices, Burgundy was ruled by Duke Philip the Good, and the Hundred Years’ War was drawing to its bloody end. Bands of marauders were still roaming the country, committing massacres, and leaving the population poor and starving in their wake. It was to cater for the people of Beaune, left destitute and ravaged by the plague, that Rolin and his wife founded the hospital, in conjunction with which they established the religious order called Les sœurs hospitalières de Beaune (The hospitable sisters of Beaune). From

the day after its completion until the 1970s, when they were transferred to modern accommodation, the Hospices welcomed the sick, elderly, orphaned, destitute, and pregnant mothers about to give birth. It is thought that the Hospices were designed by Flemish architect, Jacques Wiscrère, and the historical record shows that a mixture of Flemish and French masons, painters and glass cutters worked on the project. The Hôtel-Dieu consists of two buildings, each two storeys high, ranged around a stone courtyard. The wings originally contained offices, the kitchen and the apothecary, run by the nuns, whilst the central section housed patients and the religious order. The interior of the 15th century buildings illustrate Rolin’s belief in the healing power of beautiful objects. They contain one of the finest European collections of panel paintings, and a world-renowned polyptych altarpiece from Dutch master Rogier Van der Weyden, entitled The Last Judgement. It transpires that Rolin and Levernier left their most enduring legacy for the poor in the form of the vineyards attached to the Hospices, 50 hectares of which are given over to Pinot Noir grapes and 10 to Chardonnay. Twenty-two winemakers produce its world famous wines, which account for 85% of the bottles sold in the annual auction (a record €13.5million in 2017), and the proceeds are used to improve the hospital’s equipment and to preserve the historic buildings. It was a model that took hold in the region, with similar institutions being established in the surrounding villages of Meursault, Pommard and Nolay, forever linking the business of producing fine wine with philanthropy in local culture.

24 The big picture

French Living I May 2018

Striking a pose for changing fashions Photos Peter Knapp

1960s fashion snapper Peter Knapp changed fashion photography, as a new exhibition reveals. By Jane Hanks


n exhibition of the works of one of the most revolutionary fashion photographers of his time, Peter Knapp, is on show at the Cité de la Mode et du Design in Paris up until June 10. He was working at a time when fashion was beginning to reflect what was happening on the street, rather than solely in the rarefied atmosphere of the haute couturiers where their designs were destined for the very rich. Peter Knapp’s images reflect the feeling of emancipation, daring and creativity at that period, the two decades spanning 1960–1970. His images are full of movement and imagination and marked the world of fashion photography. He worked as Artistic Director of Elle from 1959 to 1966 and 1974 to 1978. He also worked for Vogue, Stern and The Sunday Times and made documentaries for Dim Dam Dom, a cult TV magazine programme for women in the sixties. In the Exhibition, Dancing in the Street, Peter Knapp et la mode 1960-1970, more than a hundred of his photographs are on display. One of the two exhibition curators is Audrey Hoareau, who is also the co-founder of The Red Eye, an association which promotes and defends photography in all aspects: “The importance of his work was that he was there at a key moment in the history of fashion, and in history itself. “There was a new freedom in all its sense and a turning point for creation, with the arrival of trousers, shorter skirts and ready-to-wear clothes. “He was an enormous influence on the photography of his time. He immortalised Yves Saint Laurent’s most ground-breaking collections, he was there at the beginning of Thierry Mugler’s career and he had an unfailing friendship with André Courrèges.

“He was one of the most important links between two worlds: fashion and photography.” She says he is, above all, an artist: “Photography is just one of the ways he expresses himself. As well as his photos, his drawings are sumptuous. A visitor to the exhibition will see photographs which have come out of the studio, and which show that real life has suddenly become interesting. “The exhibition is a breath of fresh air, a homage to women, and to a modern woman with greater freedom. There is an undeniable joy and freshness in his photographs.”

Clockwise, from above: Rita Scherrer for Elle, 1969; Jean Shrimpton, 1963; For Marie-Claire, 1972; inset: Peter Knapp today

Peter Knapp was born in 1931 at Bäretswil, Switzerland. He studied painting and graphic art before discovering the world of photography. In 1951 he moved to Paris and began his career there. He has always said that the most important element for him is to create an image. In a recent interview with France Culture Radio, he said “I see no difference between a painting and a photograph.” He also said in the interview that he fell into fashion by default and it was not just the clothes which interested him: “In fashion, the way clothes are worn is as important as the clothes that are shown.” For him the movement and the expression on the models face and the setting were all part of the picture – something that was new at the time. When asked if

it gave him pleasure to visit the exhibition showing his early work he said: “I always find it difficult to accept what I am working on at the present time, the results correspond rarely to my imagination, so to see the images I created 60 years earlier, yes, it gives a certain satisfaction.” The exhibition is on until June 10. Open every day 12-18.00, entry €5. A book, Dancing in the Street. Peter Knapp et la mode has been produced for the exhibition and it is the first time the photographer has agreed to create a book dedicated entirely to fashion. There are more than 200 photographs taken between 1956-1999 with more than 150 images which have never been published before. Book published by Editions du Chêne, price €45.

The Connexion May 2018

ME AND MY OPERATION: Double knee replacement

Ops were done quickly but recovery is slow and painful The inside stories of readers who have had operations in France – and how they found the health service, by Gillian Harvey Former nurse Lesley Giffey, 64, dreamed of moving to France for 30 years. However, it was not until 2016 that husband Bernard also fell in love with the country and the couple made the move to Thiviers, north Dordogne in 2016, before settling in Montpon-Ménestérol in February 2017. Initial symptoms I’d had pain in my knees for a couple of years, and thought I’d probably need to have them replaced at some point. I had seen a consultant in the UK who felt that cortisol injections might help but, unfortunately, they didn’t work. Examination In March 2017, I visited my GP to see whether I could see a specialist. She referred me to the surgeon in the May and, after a series of tests, he agreed a knee replacement would be a good solution – and I was delighted that he was happy to do both knees at the same time. He booked me in for the end of the following month, and I left with a series of prescriptions for various preparatory tests, including a urinary test, bloods, X-rays, including a full dental X-ray and check-up, a heart echo-cardiogram and a scan on the arteries in my neck! Operation I was admitted to Libourne hospital in Gironde the night before my operation. I had to shower with an iodine solution before bed, and again in the morning, after which I was taken down to theatre. The operation was under general anaesthetic, which was a relief. Sometimes they are carried out under epidural, but I think because I was having two knees done they decided it was the best course of action. On waking, I was pain-free as they had given me morphine on a pump, which I could top up myself. After-care The next day, I was encouraged to get up and walk with the use of a frame. It felt strange, as if I was walking on someone


Dr Olivier Fernez Bertaud, orthopaedic surgeon, Clinique Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Paris

Are double-knee replacements common? Knee replacements are usually carried out one at a time as there are fewer risks and recovery is more straightforward, with patients able to support themselves on their non-operated side during recovery.

means that at the end of the operation a mixture of anaesthetic and analgesic is injected to aid pain relief and recovery. Usually patients are only hospitalised for two or three days.

What is usual in terms of anaesthetic? The choice of anaesthetic technique is made during the pre-operative visit with the anaesthetist. 80% of these operations are carried out under local-regional anaesthetic, together with sedation. Where this is not possible, general anaesthetic will be offered.

What follow-up treatment is usually carried out? Physiotherapy takes place from the day after the operation, although patients will use crutches for the first 10 days to prevent falls. The patient then has outpatient physiotherapy at home or at a rehabilitation centre, usually four times a week for three weeks, and then less frequently until the second month after the operation. Patients usually resume normal activity at three months.

How long does the operation last? The operation for a single knee replacement usually lasts an hour. We use a rapid recovery protocol, which

Complications Algodystrophy chronic pain is a very rare complication. I have never seen it in 20 years of doing this procedure.

NEXT MONTH: We look at a mastectomy operation in France A nurse visited and administered pain relief and blood thinners, and eventually took out my stitches.

else’s legs – it still does at times, but I think you get used to the sensation eventually. Over time, you progress from walking with a frame, to crutches, to a single crutch and now – eight months on – I am walking normally. I stayed in hospital two weeks – longer than the usual six days, due to a possible kidney stone – and then went to convalescence for a further week. I then left, still in considerable pain, which is unusual for a knee replacement.

Problems Unfortunately, as well as experiencing severe pain, my left leg refused to bend properly. When I went for my post op consultation four weeks on, my doctor was concerned. At my next visit, a further four weeks on, he admitted me immediately and carried out a procedure where they bend your knee under anaesthetic. Unfortunately, I had developed adhesions – where different bits of tissue heal together. I was in for a week after the procedure and still only attained 50% movement. I’d also experienced pain long after most patients have healed and was eventually diagnosed with algodystrophy – a rare chronic pain condition. My surgeon told me it could take two years to go – and I was on strong painkillers for a while. The pain has faded and now I manage with ibuprofen. Nine months on, I still have physio twice a week and my knee is bending a lot better.


French drivers prefer to buy French cars This is true

It is not unusual for domestic car makers to dominate in their own market but France is unusual in just how dominant French firms are...with not one foreign car in the 2017 top 10 list. In fact the first ‘non-French’ car is the VW Polo at No13. In the UK, four of the top 10 cars were German and one was Japanese, although the Nissan Qashqai is built in the UK. The French top 13 list, with

In this regular column we look at the ‘truths’ that everyone ‘knows’ about France the bestsellers first, comprises Ren­ault Clio, Peugeot 208, Peugeot 3008, Citroën C3, Renault Cap­tur, Peugeot 2008, Peugeot 308, Dacia Sandero, Renault Még­ane, Renault Scénic, Citroën C4 Picasso, Renault Twingo and VW Polo. Even though the No8 Dacia San­dero was built in Romania

by the Ren­ault subsidiary all the others were built in France. Or maybe not – researchers at Inovev found the Clio was ‘essentially’ made in Turkey; like the 208 and C3 in Slovakia, the Twingo in Slovenia and the C4 Picasso, Mégane and Cap­ tur in Spain... The No3 seller, the Peugeot 3008 is, however, all made in France like the 2008 and 308. The 3008 is the No2 mostmanufactured car in the country with 212,487 models made. The most-manufactured car in

2017 was the Toyota Yaris, with 233,652 made in Hauts-deFrance (31,418 sold in France). European buyers also buy French. Last year VW took 24.6% of Euro­pean sales but Renault and PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) were next with combined sales of 21.7%. Buyers recognise the cars are good, making it easier to be patriotic. There is also a national dealer network with top back-up plus reactive manufacturers providing work for nearly half a million people.

Practical 21

Annual offer gives cheaper rail travel WORKERS, the self-employed, unemployed and retired French people can benefit from an SNCF offer of a once-a-year cheap ticket with 25% off the full fare for them and, if travelling together, their families. Despite existing since 1932, the billet de congé annuel is not well known. It is available for trips of more than 200km and, at current prices, can save up to €200 on a return ticket. Aimed at reducing the cost of an annual holiday, the ticket gives a 25% reduction for second-class travel in a TGV, TER or Intercités using the Loisir tariff. Users can cut ticket costs

by 50% by using certain offpeak trains in période bleu, an advantage that is also available to holders of the Senior+, Jeune, Week-end and Enfant+ card-holders. The price also drops to 50% if the traveller pays for the journey using a chèque vacances, obtained through an employer or comité d’entreprise. Travellers intending to use the billet de congé annuel must get a form online ( yamadjmn – for employed people only, it must be countersigned by the employer) or at a station (for the retired, self-employed or unemployed).

New data rules start

NEW European rules on data privacy are coming in to give people more control over personal data and mean businesses must get clear consent in asking for and storing information – and erase it if asked. Called GDPR (or RGPD in France), the rules come in to force on May 25 and are aimed at large businesses that store and process customer information, eg for new marketing campaigns. Small businesses using client databases for marketing should get client consents to continue and should encrypt data to stay safe in security breaches. Staff data should also be protected.

First-time buyers sign up for 35-year mortgages

MORTGAGES of more than the normal 25 years are being offered to home-buyers and 30% of all loans in early 2018 were for periods of from 25-30 years – with one bank offering a loan of 35 years. With interest rates averaging 1.49% for 20-year loans, the offer of a 35-year mortgage from a Crédit Mutuel offshoot is interesting first-time buyers looking to buy a property they could not normally afford. However, the costs are sub-

stantial and finance information site Cbanque did the calculations for a buyer who could repay €750 month. They could get a 25-year loan at 1.7% and afford to borrow €171,000. Over the term, this would cost €53,900 in interest and insurance. Taking a 30-year 2.03% loan lets them borrow an extra €16,000 at an overall cost of €82,600... while a 35-year loan at 2.55% gives €5,200 more budget but costs €122,300.

‘Occasional’ péage plan

DRIVERS and bikers who use autoroutes only occasionally or at holiday times can sign up for a péage pass to allow them to use reserved lanes and no-stop lanes to avoid delays. Occasional-use Liber-t télépéage passes see users pay a usage charge for the months in which they are used – varying from €1.60 to €2 – and the toll. This is paid direct from bank accounts. Passes work on all France’s motorways and are available from Vinci Autoroute (Temps libre), APRR/AREA (Balade), Bip&Go (A la carte) and Easytrip (Pass). Vinci has no activation charge but the others charge €10 or €11. However, all bar Balade come with a €10 charge for ‘non-usage’ payable if not used for 15 months (Vinci) or 13 months.

Nuisance caller system set to be turned on its head NUISANCE marketing calls could be ended at a stroke with an MP’s plan for people to sign up to receive calls rather than the present system where they sign up to not have them. Pierre Cordier, Ardennes, has proposed a law saying firms could only call people who had agreed to take calls – as is the case for emails and texts. Firms who ignore this would face

fines of up to €300,000 against the present-day €75,000. It would replace Bloctel which, despite three million people signing up, has failed to significantly reduce calls. The government said last year that 150 businesses had been investigated after 400,000 complaints and 50 had been prosecuted, with half of them receiving the maximum €75,000 fine.


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

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English accountancy firm offers French tax service Filing tax returns in France can be done professionally with help from English speaking accountancy and tax firm Fiscaly.

this is both challenging and complicated to use – incorrect returns lead to questions from your tax office or even tax controls. In essence, we remove the stress and uncertainty in preparing and filing your returns for you.”

FRANCE-based Fiscaly, a professional accountancy and tax firm, assists expats with their legal obligation to submit French tax returns. Continuing on from the previous years, the French tax administration requires that tax households, with earnings exceeding 15000€ (as reported on their 2016 tax bill), to submit an electronic tax return (ie filing over the internet). Fiscaly’s founder Olaf Muscat Baron FCCA UK and French Expert-comptable, said: “The French tax administration website provides for internet return submission, but experience has shown that

The benefits of using Fiscaly’s services include: 1. We’re a fully bilingual firm. Fiscaly will work with you directly in English so that you do not have to deal with the complicated French tax definitions and rules, or with the tax administration. 2. Questions in English. We will use an easy and straightforward questionnaire in English, to help you provide it with the information needed to prepare your return. 3. Experienced staff. We are tax professionals with over 11 years of experience in French income tax and wealth tax matters.

4. Double Taxation Treaties Experts. We’ll ensure that you benefit from the treaty provisions in relation to your income tax and wealth tax situation in France. 5. French government-approved, professional tax software. We guarantee that that your returns and estimates are prepared accurately, and submitted securely over the internet using advanced tax software. Note that this is an entirely independent process to completing tax forms on the site and therefore more reliable and secure. 6. Keeping you in control. You get to see and approve your return and its results before we file for you. Olaf said: “Once we have your OK, we’ll submit your return on your behalf and provide you with a filing ticket as confirmation of the submission. You don’t have to deal with the post or the tax office!” 7. You’ll know what to pay – or what you’ll

get back. Fiscaly will provide an estimate of the expected taxes so you know your tax liability or what tax rebates should be due to you, well in advance. You can compare this with the tax assessment you will receive later in the summer – should there be a difference, Fiscaly can represent you to resolve this with your tax office. 8. Maximising tax efficiently. At your request (and following the tax season) we can review your financial situation to see what tax credits you may be entitled to or advise on how to better structure your assets and income in France Please feel welcome to contact us by email on: or call 09 81 09 00 15 Visit us on: to learn more about us.

Olaf Muscat Baron founded Fiscaly

The Connexion May 2018



Directory 23

Independent broker can provide all your insurance requirements The dedicated Englishspeaking department at Asttral Insurance was established16 years ago as the founding team realised that support in English was not generally available in France. Nick Chubb, who has been with Asttral during this time, explains that the company now offers a wide range of bespoke cover and expert assistance to English-speaking clients. “We understand the specific insurance concerns and requirements of the expatriate community here in France,” he says. Nick also believes that market knowledge

is the key to Asttral’s reputation. “By taking into account the best mix of price and suitability requirements, we can source the most appropriate cover. Asttral provides a choice of insurers and quotes through one point of contact, allowing clients to make comparisons without going far and wide to differing insurers for quotes and service.” In effect, the company keeps things simple by allowing all of its customers’ insurance needs to be meet under one roof: health, car, house and travel cover/professional liability. Another strength is Asttral’s independence. “Because we are independent we are able to source the most appropriate cover,” adds Nick. “This means looking not just at price but to best match customers’ requirements. We shop around on customers’ behalf, so they can make informed choices – thereby maximising quality and price. Essentially

we offer unbiased expertise.” Clear explanations of what each form of cover entails is another Asttral hallmark. “We provide an explanation on each of the quotes,” says Nick. “For example, we explain that 100% health cover does not necessarily mean that all medical costs are covered. Such cover may in any event be suitable for a customer’s needs but we ensure they understand the meaning behind it.” The Admin team have many years of experience between them and pride themselves in their customer service and swift turnaround times. All clients benefit from ongoing service, advice and help relating to the policies they have taken out via Asttral. Nick concludes. “If you are unfortunate enough to have to make a claim, we are here to support you. We do not just leave you to try and work your way through the Christine Haworth-Staines UK Chartered Psychologist

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complexities of the French system at what could be a time of maximum stress. “Claims are handled in English by Asttral’s designated claims handler who works as an intermediary between the client and the insurer collating all the necessary documentation and providing advice and guidance.”

The new way to buy & sell property in France Join Us Today

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Tel: 05 61 07 16 84

24 Directory


The Connexion May 2018


How to effortlessly keep your pool clean all summer A pool is an asset for making the most of the hot summer, but keeping its surface free from flies, wasps, leaves and fluff is a never-ending story. But help is at hand: on Jan’s site you can watch a stunning video that shows the PoolGobbler attracting all debris into its filter bag. IT IS hard to imagine how the PoolGobbler, such an apparently simple piece of equipment, can keep a whole pool surface free from floating debris, automatically and without any human intervention. It seems unbelievable, but on pools of up to 12 x 6 metres, its effective design means the entire pool area remains spotless. Jan van Gils introduced the PoolGobbler into the French market after coming across it in South Africa, where it has been marketed for over 15 years. Ten years ago he installed the product in his pool and now believes he could not do without it. But how does it work? “The secret to the PoolGobbler is a clever use of fluid dynamics,” said Jan. “Using the force of the water


returning into the pool from the filtration pump, it connects to one of the inlet jets where its design considerably increases the speed of the water flow. The high speed of the water then causes a pulling effect on the surface and, as a result, the circular flow that is created takes all floating debris to the PoolGobbler where it is caught in its filter bag.” Unlike many other pool appliances, the PoolGobbler is completely unobtrusive and positions itself neatly against the wall so it is possible to swim at all times. It also does not need any kind of electricity or cables, and is easy to install. Maintenance is also easy – just empty the filter bag when full. Jan’s company, Pure-Piscines, sells the patented product in France, and beyond,


Regulated Insurance Broker Independent not tied to one company, best price & quality

Working with selected insurers to find the best policy for your needs at competitive rates

Email: Tel: 04 68 32 41 20 Web: Siret No: 411 673 106 00018

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For information and quotes in English contact Penny at G.S.A.R. 05 53 40 15 71




Please call Peter and Lawrence On: 05 56 28 94 64 Web:

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French & UK Mortgages

Accountants and Tax Advisors Paris & London offices Services offered in France and UK Tax Returns n Accounts n Business setup n Payroll n VAT

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Advice on all aspects of living in France, buying/selling, French administration, income tax, etc... Competent, experienced. Contact me now for your free consultation.

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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! French registered, English owned company

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through his website, which also features a movie of the PoolGobbler at work and comments from users. To order online, visit the website or send a letter with a French cheque (€59.95 for the PoolGobbler, plus €9.95 for an extra set of five filter bags and €6.50 for postage) to: Pure-Piscines (Jan van Gils), Le Bourg, 46700, Sérignac. Anyone who is not satisfied will get their money back. Pool professionals interested in selling the PoolGobbler, and those looking for more information, should contact Jan directly.

Electric Underfloor Heating Kits Extensions and New Build Tiles, Wood/Laminate Floors Insulation Boards Contact for Quotation

Tel: 06 27 66 33 74

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Fuel saving, efficient, wi-fi connected INSTALLERS also wanted Full training, support

Just Kitchens A complete service from planning to installation

Suppliers of German kitchens by Häcker And English Kitchens and furniture by Neptune Plus a range of work surfaces and appliances Visit our website: Or call for a chat: All of France with showrooms in the South West

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

The Connexion May 2018



Directory 25

Choose the right heating system for your home

Installing a wood fired heating system can reduce your annual fuel bills considerably says Michael Swan of Enershop which specialises in bespoke renewable energy heating systems

Due to the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels, people are now looking for more energy-efficient and cost-effective methods of heating their homes. A wood-fired system is the obvious choice, either as a stand-alone system or in combination with other heat sources. There are many different types of woodfired systems available and Enershop discusses each client’s needs to ensure they have made the right choice for their property and lifestyle. Whether a log or


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For further information please call Mick or Helen on Tel: UK 0333 022 0359 Fr: 07 68 64 22 54


pellet-fired boiler, there is a model to suit every property. Boiler stoves are aesthetically pleasing and are usually located in the main living area. Whether a traditional or contemporary style, all the boiler stoves supplied by Enershop incorporate the latest stove technology. Log gasification and pellet boilers must be housed in an outbuilding or uninhabited, well-ventilated room. Michael said: “Gasification boilers produce large amounts of heat at high efficiencies, which is stored in an accumulation tank. They have a burn cycle of between four to six hours depending upon the wood, so are easily managed. “Pellet boilers are programmable and are easy to use and control with automatic fuel feeding and ignition.” Enershop also has a range of combination boilers which can use both logs and pellets – offering the best of both worlds.





Company Regn No: UK 5186435 TVA / VAT No: UK 864 7217 04

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

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Tel: 0044 1738 633220

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Gateway International for more information

+33 (0)6 77 75 97 14 or +44 (0) 1483 808686

The eVolution 26 wood boiler stove is an impressive feature as well as providing heating and domestic hot water.


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A wide range of quality indoor furniture and sofas supplied and delivered direct to your French property saving you time and money. Full installation of all furniture Delivery from just £99 Tel 06 46 49 73 45

Love French Interiors French Reproduction Furniture. Hand crafted from Mahogany. Wide choice of finish options. Full customisation possible. Bespoke Design service available. Delivery throughout France.

Bar Member Contact: Anglo French Removals Tel: +44 (0) 1622 690 653

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Tel: +44 (0) 1304 822 844


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1800 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 Dinan, Brittany

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 Telephone 02 33 37 49 19 Emergency 02 33 38 41 32 Fax 02 33 38 44 16

Sure Sweeps Formally HETAS, & NACS registered Fully Insured - No Mess Competitive Rates 02 14 15 58 52

Steve Hayward Carpentry, masonry, plastering, kitchens, replacement windows and doors Tel. 02 31 09 26 54 Siret 48423125300010

Loft conversations / installation. Plaster-boarding. Brick & blockwork. Lime & traditional pointing. Rendering. Tiling & wood treatments Tel: 02 96 83 97 49 / Mob: 06 58 04 51 46

Siret 51442634500013 - Covering Depts 22, 35, 56

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Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasion, Christmas, Hand-made and Open - From e1.00 Hand Written Service Available

Tel: 02 97 60 27 21 Siret: 538 583 60000019

Pete's Roofing Covering the Gard

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

04 66 72 75 84

Clean Burn - Fire Visible Boiler versions available Deliveries all over France Prices on our website Lowest Prices Guaranteed

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Wood-fired systems can source domestic hot water, central and underfloor heating and can also heat a swimming pool. Michael said: “We have a demonstration system at our property comprising of a log gasification boiler with solar thermal panels linked to an accumulation tank. Both the gasification boiler and solar thermal panels work effectively at different times of the year, so complement each other perfectly.” Enershop holds the QualiBois and QualiSol accreditation so its systems are eligible for credit d’impots. For more information, contact Enershop or visit the website, where there is a link to the company’s Facebook page which is updated regularly.

Siret No: 50066265500017

Multi-Service - Builders

English TV in your French Home

Everything from repairs and maintenance to complete A-Z renovation and decoration. References – Professional – Reliable

Karl - 06 04 45 63 57 / Paul - 06 34 95 19 71

Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy

Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice



02 97 27 58 50

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

Contact Anthony Main 0033 (0)4 30 34 17 90 email: Siret 4846 8735 500012

26 Directory

05 SOUTH west

The Connexion May 2018


Act now if you are thinking of selling your French home Adrian and Jacqui Bunn who run ARB French Property, the site which specialises in the marketing of private for sale homes, believe now is a good time for those thinking of selling their French home to act. Adrian explains “Spring is a very active time in the property market, in addition, this year the market is very buoyant, meaning we have many eager, good quality ready to proceed buyers, looking for their new full time or holiday residence in France. Sellers shouldn’t hesitate, they could already be missing out on potential buyers. Whether your home is already on the market or you are thinking about selling, now is the best time to start.”

ARB specialise in finding English speaking buyers for English speaking sellers, helping them to buy and sell privately. “In addition to the active British property market, the numbers of British buyers have been swelled by recent Brexit talks. Many British buyers now feel they have a 2 year window of opportunity and are in the market with money to spend. They are often cash buyers, so are in a strong position to move quickly. The combination of these factors has seen a marked increase in full time movers, meaning more clients with higher budgets are buying.” ARB’s marketing strategy makes sure every property is seen on all the UK leading web sites non-stop. As Jacqui comments: “Our commitment to our sellers is to make sure their home gets the very best marketing we can provide. To help us achieve this we advertise every property on leading UK property websites, not just sometimes, but

all the time, without exception. And in addition, to make sure our sellers’ homes really do stand out, we use services such as Premium Placements and a floorplan. We also include a visit to photograph and floorplan. This combined with the savings a private sale brings and the benefit of being UK based, means we are extremely well placed to find your buyer.” Adrian concludes: “We are frequently contacted by sellers that have been trying to sell their home for several months. We find they are disappointed by the lack of proactive advertising carried out by their current agents and are very encouraged to hear about ARB’s approach of not compromising on either the quality or the quantity of the marketing of their home.” In summary, if you are selling or thinking of selling your French home, now is the time to contact Adrian and Jacqui at ARB French Property.

Ironwood Motif

Wrought Iron Work Handrails Gates Railings Pergolas Stairs l


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British trained & qualified tree surgeon All tree work undertaken.

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

Plaster The Lot

Jardins du Périgord

Qualified English Artisan

Plastering, Pointing, Crepi, Tiling, Plasterboard, Insulation, Painting Call: 05 65 10 76 90 Email:

Siret 81115002800017


Inside & Outside l Made to Measure l Dept 46 Tel: 05 65 30 53 99 Email: Web: Siret 48119863800019

Electrician Friendly, Experienced, UK Qualified, French Registered Rewires, Installation, Fault Finding Tel 07 83 05 29 43 Email

+44 (0)1803 469367 / /

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

- Design - Creation - Garden management

High quality work by qualified gardeners


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 Siret: 53068838100017 Regions Covered: 46, 19

Hundreds of practical questions answered in Connexion helpguides. Order print / downloads at

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



Swimming Pool Leak Detection and Repair 04 68 26 61 22

design : parkes architecture SARL Architects & Designers Dossiers for Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables Interior & Landscape Design Ordre des Architectes No. 1867

Tel: 05 53 09 33 45 Fax : 05 53 09 36 12

Sky In France

Les Amis Des Chats

The Cats Inn

E: W: Depts: 16,19,24,33,87

promotes sterilisation to improve the well-being of stray and pet cats in the rural villages of SW France.

The Fixer

Long established professional here to assist you with ALL your French admin, tax or business issues. 06.46253087

ROBERT JONES ELECTRICITE Fully insured, registered electrician. Rewires, renovation, new builds, heating and A/C. Dépt. 47 Tél. 06 81 98 43 22 Email.

ELECTRICIAN Experienced & French Registered.

Property Management Services * Property Check * Property Maintenance * Garden Services * Change Over * Design & Styling + 33 (0)5 45 82 55 93 / + 33 (0)7 70 76 58 89 /

Bob Freeman

Satellite and aerial systems installed and repaired. UK boxes available. Senior Sky engineer 05 53 06 08 65 484 432 323 00018 - Regions Covered: 24, 47, 33


Satellite Internet - Sonos Audio (systems) BBC iPlayer - Netflix - IPTV - VPN T: 06 80 55 06 09 E: W: Region: South West Siret: 4526 2188 1000 39

Available for all types of electrical work. Insured and guaranteed. Areas: 16,17,24,47

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

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to help run our charity shops and events. Donations are also gratefully received at Les amis des chats, 82150 Roquecor. See how you can support us by visiting Registered charity no: W821000447

For gift ideas see our shop at



Tel: 05 46 86 07 61 Email:

Info: 05 63 33 12 76

Siret No. 49376573200015


Sky, Freesat & French TV Supplied & Fully Installed



Paul the Plasterer City & Guilds Qualified

Internal plastering and boarding External pointing and rendering Tel: 06 48 56 22 83 Email:

Hopkins Renovations General building work. 22 years building experience in France. Full Assurance Décennale, near Monflanquin

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

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

Tel. 05 65 34 09 91

Working dept: south 19, 46 DORDOGNE SERVICES

All Gardening Work - Cutting Strimming - Hedge Trimming Clearance - Property Services Depts - 24,46,47 Tel: Bob & Tracy 06 42 82 44 96 Email: siret : 48293447800017


Chats du Quercy Cat rescue and Rehoming Charity

Where each cat recieves the best possible care and attention from the day it is admitted to the moment of its adoption. Please call to make an appointment on

05 63 94 73 97


Call Alcoholics Anonymous.0820 200 257 Siret : 49197537100015

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The Connexion May 2018



Directory 27

The best way to furnish your property in France Furniture for France has many years’ experience of supplying high quality furniture to its customers FURNITURE for France is now in its fifteenth year of supplying quality furniture to properties in France.

New French inspired oak furniture designs being introduced for 2018

The company specialises in providing clients with a customised service that offers good quality UK-sourced furniture without the hassle of arranging delivery and ordering furniture in the UK. Furniture for France works with its customers all the way from the initial enquiry through to installing the furniture in their homes Offering advice on all aspects of a customer’s order, such as sofa coverings, wood finishes and delivery schedules, ensures they are kept informed every step of the way. “With 15 years’ experience and thousands of deliveries under our belts throughout France, we have encountered almost everything and put that to good use when advising and helping customers find the right furniture for their property in France,” said the company’s managing director Brian Muir. The delivery service offered includes room


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France,” said Mr Muir. Throughout 2017 sofas continued to be the best-selling individual item for the company. Loose-covered designs are always top of the list with the introduction of more complex fabric patterns and colours allowing customers to custom cover the sofa of their choice. “This process can take some Stylish Highcleare fixed cover sofa design time to work through, but as the product has a life introduce great ranges of furniture for expectancy of over 15 years, it pays to get it delivery to our customers in France without right,” said Mr Muir. Furniture for France compromising on quality or service.” makes deliveries as far afield as Geneva and Nice, as well as locally to customers in the 06 46 49 73 45 Dordogne, the Lot, Charente and Limousin. Mr Muir added: “We will continue to

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by room installation of all furniture ordered, this includes assembly of all oak beds and wardrobes as these come in sections for ease of access to difficult staircases. All other items are solid, no assembly pieces. Our deliveries are timed to the hour on the agreed date of delivery. The Furniture for France face book page will keep you up to date with all the latest news. Six new ranges of oak have recently been introduced, including traditional styles in a rustic finish. With competitively priced solid oak furniture it is no wonder Furniture for France had its best ever year in 2017. In addition to the new oak furniture a choice of 12 different paint colours are now available on all pine furniture. Wood samples can also be sent out to customers if required. “With delivery costs starting at just £59 for any quantity of furniture, there really isn’t a better or easier way to furnish a property in

EMERGENCY NUMBERS u 18: Emergencies: This number connects to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) but they deal with medical emergencies and should be the first port of call in life-threatening situations u 15: Samu (for other urgent medical call-outs) u 17: Police / Gendarmes u 112: Universal European Emergency Services number - works from all phones including mobiles u 114: Emergency calls (hearing assisted) u 115: Emergency Shelter u 119: Reporting child abuse u 196: Sea and lake rescue u 197: Terror/kidnapping hotline u 01 40 05 48 48: Anti-poison centre u 09 726 750 + your department number e.g. 24 for the Dordogne): Gas & electricity emergencies u 3237: (0.35/min) Outside hours GP and pharmacy information (also available on TELECOMS u ORANGE Website in English: com/en/home. To report a fault online: English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00 u SFR: 1023 (+ 33 6 10 00 10 23 from outside France) u FREE: 1044 u BOUYGUES: New client: 3106 Forfait & Bbox: 1064 (+33 660 614 614) Forfait bloqué: 1022 (+33 664 00 20 20) Client à la Carte: 1034 (+33 668 634 634) Gas & electricity emergencies u EDF: 24 hour breakdown line: 09 726 750 + your department number (eg 24 for the Dordogne)

Helpline in English: 09 69 36 63 83 (those calling from abroad may use 0033 17 17 30 101) Email: GAS u Gas leaks: 01 43 35 40 87 WATER u Generale des Eaux Web: Online form links users to the office dealing with their area u Ondeo Suez-Environnement Web: homepage Tel: 01 58 18 50 00 EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES u British Embassy (Paris): 01 44 51 31 00 u Bordeaux consulate: 05 57 22 21 10 u Marseille consulate: 04 91 15 72 10 u UK passport advice + 44 (0) 300 222 0000 (calls cost up to 12p/min from a UK landline - see French operators for exact cost) Monday - Friday: 8:00 - 20:00, Weekends: 9:00 - 17:30 OTHER EMBASSIES u Irish, Paris: 01 44 17 67 00 u US, Paris: 01 43 12 22 22 u Canadian, Paris: 01 44 43 29 00 u Australian, Paris: 01 40 59 33 00 u NZ, Paris: 01 45 01 43 43 u South African, Paris: 01 53 59 23 23 OFFICIAL AGENCIES u 3939 ALLO SERVICE PUBLIC: 3939 (+33 1 73 60 39 39 from outside France). Calling hours: 8:30 - 18:00 u CAF:; Tel: 08 10 25 14 10. u CPAM (state healthcare): English-speaking helpline: 08 11 36 36 46 Calling hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30 - 17:30 u URSSAF: 3957 + department number

u CLEISS: Social security advice when moving between countries: 01 45 26 33 41 Monday, Wednesday and Friday : 9:00 -12:30 Tuesday & Thursday : 14:00 -17:00 Some advisers speak English. OTHER HELP IN ENGLISH u Counselling in France: for a qualified therapist near you or counselling over the telephone; u Alcoholics Anonymous: regular meetings are held (some are in English) across the country. For a list of local English-language groups see: u SOS Help: similar to the Samaritans, listeners who are professionally trained; Tel 01 46 21 46 46 (open 3:00-23:00 daily); u CANCER SUPPORT FRANCE: for advice and someone to talk to. Tel: 0800 240 200 or email u English Speaking Cancer Association (Geneva-based): offering cancer support in Geneva, Vaud and French border areas. Tel: +41 (0) 22 791 63 05 or email info or u Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces (SSAFA): 0800 731 4880. Email: u BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT NETWORK: for those grieving for a loved one and needing to talk Tel: 04 94 84 64 89 / 06 32 35 31 24 or email (7:00 - 23:00) u THE BRITISH CHARITABLE FUND: provides financial help to British residents in France. Tel: 01 47 59 07 69 (10:00 - 17:00) u Alzheimer: English help group at France Alzheimer: 0800 97 20 97

You can see more events and post your own at

Buy a book for a great cause. The Phoenix Book Fair takes place on April 28 at the Salle Municipale in Campsegret 24140 (between Bergerac and Périgueux). The Phoenix Book Fair is a bi-annual event held in spring and autumn and there are usually more than 20,000 books available to purchase, priced from just €1. CDs and DVDs are also available to buy and there is a tombola and bric-a-brac stalls. All proceeds from the Book Fair go to Phoenix Association to continue their work in saving, caring for and re-homing abandoned, abused and unwanted animals. The amazing Phoenix catering team serve the best ever home-made cakes, scones and other delicious delicacies, scrumptious savouries and perfect pastries. Doors open at 09.30 (08.30 for people with limited mobility) and close at 15.00. Children and dogs are welcome and entrance and parking is free. More information, including how to donate books (on the day is preferred) can be found at

Mézin (Lot-et-Garonne). All books cost €1. For further information, please contact Lynne Johnstone at

A book sale in aid of Médecins sans Frontières will take place on Saturday May 5 from 10.00 to 17.00 and on Sunday May 6 from 10.00 to 13.00 at Salle Associatif,

Charitable cyclists can do their bit for cancer charity too: this year’s annual cycle ride for Cancer Support France will take place from May 19-31.

Looking for an evening a little out of the ordinary? After a very successful concert near Uzès, the organiser CSF (Cancer Support France) Provence Gard has decided to put on a concert at Théâtre des 2 Mondes, 71 Cours Taulignan, Vaison la Romaine (Vaucluse) on May 6 at 15.30. The theme of the concert is life throughout the ‘seasons’ of childhood, youth, maturity and old age. CSF Provence Gard is a charitable organisation which provides accompaniment, help and support to any person in Provence Gard touched by cancer and preferring to be helped in English. The entrance fee of €25 includes a champagne apéritif. Proceeds will go to CSF Provence Gard. Reservations can be made with the theatre on 07 83 37 97 66 or via the website:

The route will be ‘Entre Deux Mers’ from the Atlantic to Mediterranean coast. Taking place over two weeks (less two rest days), it is free to participate and you can register for one or several sections of the route. You will meet some lovely people along the way and have great fun whilst helping to support an amazing charity. Choose one or several of the stages: May 19 Royan - Blaye May 20 Blaye - Bordeaux May 21 * rest day * May 22 Bordeaux - La Réole May 23 La Réole - Agen May 24 Agen - Montech May 25 Montech - Toulouse May 26 Toulouse - Castelnaudary May 27 Castelnaudary - Carcassonne May 28 * rest day * May 29 Carcassonne - Le Somail May 30 Le Somail - Agde May 31 Agde - Marseillan Routes are low-level and suitable for inexperienced cyclists. You will need a VTT/ mountain-bike and a cycle helmet. For further information email Register at www.eventbrite. com/e/cycleforlife-2018-tickets-39542508708

Back by popular demand there will be a huge Bring and Buy of English books at 12 rue des Ecoles, Aussillon (Tarn), on Sunday May 27 between 14.00 and 17.00. You donate your unwanted books and they are then sold again for only €1 each, with all the money raised split between the ASA Dog Refuge at Aussillon and Le Chat Protégé at Marican. Organisers say they already have about 1,000 books, all in good, clean condition. Please phone Chris on 06 21 37 60 01 for more details, especially if you are able to deliver books in advance. Note that local regulations do not permit the buying or selling of French books. Freemasons looking to practise their craft can contact the Anglo/French lodge which meets in Agen once a month. Contact Mike Dowsett Tel.No. 05 63 94 52 25 or email at All are welcome to Sunday mass, in English, at The Irish Chaplaincy, located at the beautifully restored Irish College, now the Centre Culturel Irlandais (5 Rue des Irlandais in the 5th arrondissement in Paris). Starts at 11.30, tea and coffee served.

Fans of Tom Stoppard should not miss Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, presented in English by the English Theatre Company at Théâtre des Sept Chandelles, Place de la Libération, 65700 Maubourguet (Hautes-Pyrénées). The play focuses on the misadventures of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as they drift in and out of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. They are a blend of Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise: Rosencrantz is amiable, simple-minded and takes things at face value, while Guildenstern is a cleverclogs who worries about consequences. Together they get up to all kinds of antics without ever really knowing what is going on around them. Performances on Friday May 11 and Saturday May 12 at 18.00. Tickets are €10 (€5 for under 12s). Email reservations to: or telephone Ruth at the box office on 05 62 67 12 99. For more information, visit Organisers are looking for British artists to take part in an Art & Craft fair (250sqm) in Trébeurden, Brittany (22560). Email or phone 06 71 83 50 08 for more details.

28 Directory


The Connexion May 2018


Top tractor and machinery deals delivered to France Cowling Agriculture prides itself on friendly advice and excellent aftersales service – and all at competitive prices With 20 years of experience, Cowling Agriculture supplies tractors and machinery to smallholders and farmers in the UK and Europe. The company keeps 80 to 100 tractors in stock, both new and used, along with a comprehensive range of machinery. It also has a well-equipped workshop and proficient staff who service and repair used tractors and machinery. It specialises in putting together tractor and machinery packages for first-time tractor owners. Kim Cowling from the company said: “We take the time to listen to customers’ requirements so that we can

supply a competitively priced and suitable package. We are often able to supply tractors and machinery to customers in France for a much lower price than they could source them locally. We pride ourselves on our friendly advice and excellent aftersales service.” Cowling Agriculture has been a dealer for the Landlegend range of tractors – which Kim says are the best value and most popular compact tractor on the market – for more than 10 years. “The Landlegend 25hp tractor provides a very good spec for a very good price,” she said. “It is £5,395. It can easily be fitted with a 4in1 loader and backhoe, making it ideal for farmers, smallholders, self-builders and equestrian yards. Our second-hand tractors start from around £2,500 and come fully serviced, checked over and with a minimum of six months warranty. We can team these

up with toppers, chain harrows, logsplitters or rotovators.” For customers in France wanting to see the tractors and machinery in action, the company can put them in touch with one of its many existing tractor owners. Kim said: “We have 50-plus Landlegend tractors working in France, plus many other used tractors and individual machinery items. We have many customers who come back to us to add new machinery.” The company regularly has deliveries covering the UK, Ireland and France and the driver is able to fully demonstrate the tractors and machinery on arrival. It keeps machinery for all seasons and often runs special seasonal offers. The stock list can be viewed on the website.

Taking the paperwork and pain out of a left-hand drive vehicle purchase At Gary Automobiles near Lyon, convenience and quality are assured for customers buying a left-hand drive car ARE YOU looking to buy a left-hand drive vehicle for your new life in France? Gary Automobiles is an English-owned motor dealer based just outside of Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes, specialising in the supply of quality new and pre-owned, left-hand drive, French registered vehicles to expats moving to France. The company has been operating in France since July 1 2003 and customers only ever deal with Gary personally. Convenience for the customer is a key element in the company’s ethos, which is why Gary Automobiles now has the facility to register your vehicle in your name at

their premises – meaning there is need to worry about translation and paperwork issues. Gary will issue your new carte grise directly from his office and can even arrange your French motor insurance and transfer your no claims bonus. “I remember how hard it was to understand the French paperwork and red tape when I made the move over to France in 2001. I am happy to assist fellow expats and take that burden away,” says Gary. Reassuringly, they are fully French registered company with Siret / Siren / and TVA numbers and only supply vehicles with European specifications. For customers wishing to stay over and

visit the area (easyJet and Ryanair fly into nearby airports), Gary can come to collect you from the airport or train station, as well as arrange reservations or advise on local Lyonnais hotels. Another part of the service offered by Gary Automobiles is that they do not put people under pressure to make a purchase. They understand the logistics of moving abroad, so if they have a suitable vehicle in stock they we will keep it until you are ready to collect – with no time limitations. Part exchange with your right hand drive vehicle is also available, while the company

also provides a car sourcing service – meaning if they do not have the vehicle you want in stock, they will find it for you. For further recommendation, here are some previous customer comments: “Gary Automobiles made the whole process as painless as possible.” Colin Edwards “I have used Gary Automobiles to source and deliver a new car in France. Since I don’t speak French it was a delight to deal with Gary himself.” Tom Wall “Gary’s personal and English-speaking service has been really helpful and taken the hassle out of buying and keeping a car in France.” James Greig Gary Automobiles EURL Telephone: 0033 4 74 43 89 51 Mobile: 0033 6 84 85 04 61 Email:

Gary at his office near Lyon

Complete solution to fosse septique problems There’s little worse than a smelly or blocked fosse septique, but there is a simple, ecological and costeffective treatment, say Eco-tabs Europe founders Shelly and Tim Burns-O’Regan WITH costly emptying charges and the potential to smell or get blocked, fosse septiques can be a homeowner’s nightmare. But an innovative product now exists which not only takes away the need to empty your fosse, but also removes odours and reduces blockages. Eco-tabs are purely bacterial-based, not a combination of enzymes like many competitive products. They help to increase overall system efficiency, reduce costly maintenance and eliminate the need for

toxic chemicals and special handling procedures. The tablets work by oxygenating the water in the fosse, removing hydrogen sulfide odours, preventing corrosion, and initiating aerobic biological breakdown of organic sludge, including oils and grease. Store bought products that are enzyme based liquify the solids for them to reform later. So you will still need to pump out your tank. Eco-tabs degrade the solids and remove those pesky odours. Company founders Shelly and Tim BurnsO’Regan say: “Our company is founded on the core belief that eco-friendly, non-toxic waste treatment products have become a necessity in today’s environmentally sensitive and fragile ecosystem. We also provide excellent customer service and follow up as fed back from our customers.” An eco-tabs Clean out Pack starts at 66€ ( exc TVA, p+p) for a standard 3000 litre

tank compared to the cost of a pump out truck ranging from 125€ up to 400€, this is a no-brainer. “Simply flush a tablet down the toilet each month to maintain a healthy fosse septique. Or, as an alternative to pumping out, use two tabs and one bag of our Shock powder and watch the magic. “Not only do the tabs oxygenate the water, which removes the odours, the sludge is eaten away by the bacteria. The result: a clean fosse which does not need to be pumped out… all that remains is water.” Eco-tabs are compatible for old septic tanks right through to the new microstation systems. To ensure that you are only buying the products necessary for your tank, we offer a Personalised Treatment Plan which will recommend the ideal products for you. Visit: and click on the link for a Personalised Treatment Plan.

Eco-tabs are 100% ecological and mean you don’t need to pump out your fosse For more information, visit the website or contact Tim on +33 (0)6 35 96 95 12

HARS help up-and-coming athlete The Hearing Aid Repair Shop (HARS) helps people of all ages, by expertly repairing their hearing aids. The day after Boxing Day we helped a young athlete by repairing her hearing aid so she could study for an important German GCSE mock exam at the start of the spring term. A member of Berkshire’s Newbury Athletic Club, Charlotte Payne has earned numerous accolades for her sporting achievements and was runner up at the Young Deaf Sports Personality of the Year in November 2016. Charlotte’s mum, Denise, said, “We turned up in the snow with my daughter’s hearing aid which had died over Christmas. We were met with a smile by the wonderful

team at HARS who helped us out on the spot. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and won’t go anywhere else from now on.” Charlotte competes in the throwing events – discus and hammer. In 2016, Charlotte was UK National Champion and UK No. 1 in Under 15 Discus and UK No. 3 in Under 15 Hammer. Last year Charlotte moved into Under 17 category and became UK No. 1 in Under 17 Hammer 4kg, UK No. 3 in Under 17 Discus, South England Under 17 Hammer Champion and championship record holder. She was also a silver medallist in hammer at the School Games and a bronze medallist in Under 17 Discus at the English Schools Championships.

As well as all that, Charlotte has been the best UK deaf female thrower in hammer, discus and shot put, for all age groups, for the past 2 years. Denise said, “Charlotte is now the youngest in her age group and has yet another year at this level to improve on her amazing achievements.” This year Charlotte has set her sights on being No. 1 in the UK in hammer and discus, representing the UK in the Under 18 European Championships in Hungary in August and competing in the School Games and Schools Track & Field International. Denise said, “Hopefully Charlotte will have a busy summer, competing in various national and international events, if she can

successfully win all the necessary qualifying events beforehand. She’s capable, so it’s definitely on the cards. Fingers crossed! You rarely find a thrower who does both hammer and discus to a high standard, so Charlotte will probably have to decide between them. It’s going to be a tough choice to pick which one.” The HARS team wish Charlotte all the best with her studies and athletic aspirations over the coming years. We hope to be watching her compete at major championships in the future. If, like Charlotte, you need your hearing aids repaired you can send them to us for a free, no obligation quote. For more details go to, email or call us on 00 44 1635 48724.

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The Connexion May 2018

Community 31

Volunteers needed as Alzheimer’s support grows

British volunteers in Normandy and Dordogne are working with the national charity Association France Alzheimer (AFA) to help Englishspeakers who have or are caring for someone with dementia. A growing number of expats across France are having to learn to cope with Alzheimer’s and would be grateful for support. Terry Wright became involved two years ago in Orne, Normandy, after meeting the local AFA president and being told people needed help in their own language. She said: “We now have six cases where we have regular contact and others we talk to once in a while. “I can have six to eight enquiries in a month which do not come just from people in the Orne, but from neighbouring Manche and Mayenne. “Many of us came to France for the

Get in touch

Orne: Terry Wright 09 67 87 15 60 Dordogne: Chris Grasby 06 09 21 06 09 better lifestyle. Now we are all getting older and, sadly, there are cases of Alzheimer’s. It can be hard to cope, particularly in a foreign language.” Mrs Wright says the French system is very pro-active and fully accessible to English-speakers with a lot of services on offer. They want to ensure people know and understand the choices that are available. “We try to give useful information, and hold coffee mornings where people can talk and we have some activi-

ties like singing familiar old songs. We also put on fund raising so people can afford a translator to help them. “We always have a great deal of support from the local English-speaking community on these occasions. Many people know someone who is affected and are happy to join in.” She hopes to have premises soon in La Ferté-Macé, Orne for regular meetups and added. “It would be super to have more volunteers!” A support group in Dordogne has met for five years and has created the Réseau Anglophone network of English-speaking volunteers. Chris Grasby is a vice-president of AFA Dordogne and said: “We have two volunteers who can help in the north at Ribérac and Excideuil, and are recruiting volunteers elsewhere. “Both in Orne and in Dordogne we

have begun translation of the most important French guidance. We also give presentations to interested groups to give information on Alzheimer’s and associated diseases. “In Bergerac, as in Orne, we started as a drop-in centre for people to take part in activities and to understand how to navigate the complexities of the French care and support system. “Most importantly, working within an established French charity we have an incredible resource for exactly that. “And, of course, we are very happy to provide information to anyone in the rest of France who would like to set up a similar service.” Working with Association France Alzheimer has been important: “They have been very generous with support and have even given us a budget to help cover transport for home visits.

“They want to make sure people get the help they need, irrespective of whether they speak French or not. “If you want to help directly, it is useful to have a fairly good level of French so you can take part in their training courses and give the best advice and support.” He added: “In many cases people seem unable to accept they need help. Caring 24/7 for someone with dementia is incredibly demanding and tends to generate a sort of tunnel vision. “It is important to prepare for the possibility of dementia with a LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) for UK affairs and Tutelle or Mandat de protection future in France. Once a person has lost the ability to make a decision for themselves, it can be difficult to do so and the alternative may involve being made a ward of court.”

Who will do the donkey work now? CHANGES in government subsidy for an employment scheme have hit a donkey sanctuary hard and means it is looking for more volunteers to help keep the 350 animals in its care. Association Nationale des Amis des Anes, ADADA, is the largest association for donkeys in France, and is set to lose 10 employees from the sanctuary at Ambert, Puy-de-Dôme. President Marinette Panabière is worried about who will care for the donkeys: “We have depended on this and suddenly it has been taken away from us. It was a good scheme. “The young people enjoyed working here and most went on to a job elsewhere. We will be able to employ some people, but not as many and it will not be sufficient See also for all our donkeys. “I get calls from the Page 27 police or the public for more Community from all over asking for us to take in about events 10 donkeys a day, but I cannot accept any more at present. ” Mrs Panabière would welcome any volunteers to come and help, or donate as the sanctuary costs €5,000 a month. “There has never been as much need for a donkey sanctuary. People buy them for pets without realising they will live up to 40 years. “We would welcome any volunteers who can come and help. We used to have quite a few British members, but many have gone back to the UK.” Victorien Aalders lives a five-hour drive away near Carcassonne, Aude, but goes when she can to help. “There is a great deal people can do, even if they do not live nearby: adopt a donkey, help with publicity, help build fences, help raise money.” Find out more at

Only here for the beer and a laugh

A SUMMER theatre show and a lager in the interval was the inspiration for Toulouse Comedy Players, who offer câfé-theatre style productions each spring in the south-west. Founder Angela Blyth was already involved with Pibrac’s Secret Panto

Society when she had the idea for the group, which started in 2012, and is “continuing the quest to explore what makes us laugh”. Looking for people to join them or to work behind the scenes, the aim is to encourage those who have

always wanted to do something in the theatre but have never dared. The one-act plays – a spy spoof and panda dilemma – are on May 12-13 in Castelnau-de-Mont­miral, Tarn, and Pujaudran, Gers, on May 26 and 27.

Mayor’s honour for amateur historians’ book

THREE Britons – an artist, a teacher and a poet – have won a French award for a history of their village that revealed some fascinating stories. Artist Martin Salisbury and teacher wife Jenny won the award with poet Nick Smith and two French members of the local history society after two years of work on the bilingual history of St-Fort-sur-Gironde, about 80km north of Bordeaux. Mrs Salisbury says it began with a visit from Michèle Schönbeck (daughter of former mayor Maurice Chas­tang) and Madeleine Le Bars, president of the local historical society. “They had seen one of Martin’s books, L’Amical Café produced for an exhibition, and wanted him to help them pro-

Have your group featured in this page

The Connexion regularly features news and events from community groups all over France. We would be pleased to publicise your association (noncommercial) – it is a great way to bring in new members and it is free! You can submit events via To have your association or group featured in this page, email details to

duce a history of St-Fort-sur-Gironde. “After much sweat, blood and tears the book was finished. It has sold more than 200 copies. We are proud.” Jacky Quesson, mayor of St-Genis-deSaintonge, which includes St-Fort-surGironde, presented the historical society with a trophy for cultural achievement for the book. He praised the British community in front of a huge audience, saying: “Our friends have been faithful to our region and they have contributed to the life and vitality of the area.” The hardback book itself is beautifully designed with a collection of writings, poems, illustrations and both contemporary and old photos. Telling the village’s story in the form of an alphabet book, often with several entries for the same letter, it has texts in both English and French. One particularly moving story is of wartime mayor Maurice Chastang who rejected Vichy and joined the Resistance. Betrayed and deported to a concentration camp, he died on the ‘march of death’. His wife, Renée France Chas­tang, took his place as mayor from

The St Fort historians have done a superb job in producing the book 1944 to 1945... when women did not have the right to vote. Mrs Salisbury found it rewarding: “It was hard work and I spent sleepless nights worrying about whether I had got it right. It was fascinating and I met so many interesting people.” Some letters were a problem: “X was difficult, but many houses have iron x-shaped crosses on them to reinforce

walls against cracks in long, dry summers. Plus St-Fort is in the historic province of Saintonge and the original spelling was Xaintonge or Xainc­tonge. Its capital city was Xaints or Xainetes.” The book costs €25 and can be purchased from Marie Claude Harbonnier 05 46 49 95 03 (French) or by emailing (English).

32 Practical

having a local cinema is not something that many small communes can afford or support but in Centre-Val de Loire a touring cinema is bringing the latest titles to a circuit of 46 rural areas. Called Cinémobile, the cinema is folded out from an artic trailer that gives a salle of 80 to 100 comfortable seats in an air-conditioned room with Dolby sound. It can all be set up in about an hour and the lorry can be taken on all but the smallest of roads to reach isolated communes and create a new social activity. Once set up, the cinema theatre can be used 18 hours a day, staffing allowing. Last year it saw 62,000 viewers for 2,047 screenings of 123 films, including 14,500 children for 37 films shown as part of class lessons. From March 1 Ciné­mobile travels across Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Indre, Loir-et-Cher and Loiret with film fans paying €6.20 or €4.50 to see films such as Pentagon Papers and Belle et Sébastien 3. The Cinémobile is run by Ciclic (, a regional agency in Centre-Val de Loire that promotes culture and access to culture with Ciné­ mobile and online screenings. It is the only mobile cinema of its kind but groups such as Cinéma Solaire across France, Ciné Seine in Seine-Maritime and Ciné Garrigues in Gard and Hérault also take films to rural communes. It is thought that about 100 groups are setting up their cinéma itinérant in salles des fêtes or, in summer, holding open-air screenings.

May 2018

Save money by using a DIY garage CAR maintenance costs continue to rise year on year and with the new stricter Contrôle Technique starting on May 20 (131 points will be checked as opposed to 123 now) they are likely to rise again but there are ways to keep them in check. If you live in a big city, having your car serviced in a small rural town can result in savings of 30%, simply because labour costs per hour are lower. Many French car drivers make a point to have annual services scheduled for part of their holiday breaks. Within small towns there is not usually much difference between garages with a car company logo on it (most are family owned agencies) and ‘independent’ garages, which include franchise chains like Norauto. Of course, if your car is still under guarantee, it should only be serviced by a garage approved under the guarantee terms. Building a good relationship with one garage, in most cases, is worth more than small savings on an oil change. For those with some mechanical knowledge, self-garages are making a comeback with about 150 across the country where owners can work on their own vehicles. France has a long tradition, especially in rural areas, of people working on their own cars using the lifts, compressed air tools and

Photo: Joenomias/Pixabay CC0

Cinema truck takes films on the road to rural communes

The Connexion

Working at a DIY self-garage means no more lying in the driveway... which can be found with an online other professional tools in the local search. Clients pay by the hour, garage. Usually they knew the typically €25 an hour for the use of owner (or mécano) and no visible the lift and access to a professional cash changed hands. quality tool box (servante d’atelier) Today, however, most small rural and the compressed air system. garages are no longer in business, Just having the tools without the as the owners took retirement. lift brings the cost down to under No-one would take them over as €10 an hour. cheap petrol at supermarkets, the Usually there is a professional need for heavy investment in commechanic working on cars nearby puter diagnostic machines, called – but no guarantee they will be able la valise, and increased regulation to stop what they are doing to offer made rural one-person operations help and advice. no longer attractive. For a simple oil and filter change, But self-garages have returned, a client buying their own oil and helped with the ease of getting filters from a supermarket or car spare parts over the internet. parts shop, costing €30, will end up The modern version is found with a total bill of €55 if they use mainly in urban areas, and organthe lift and do the job in an hour. ised on a distinctly commercial This is roughly half the price of a footing. Most departments have at oil, filter and air-conditioning filter least one, often in the largest town,

Making your

life in france less taxing

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change at an agency garage. (Most car companies in France operate through a system of main concessions, often owned by large companies, and smaller agencies, the garages in smaller towns with the car brand on the front but usually family owned.) However, there is no guarantee you will get help with la valise to reset the car’s computer to reflect the oil change, although la valise should be part of the tools on offer. Other relatively simple maintenance tasks, like changing brake pads, are made much simpler by having professional tools, but are challenging to do for the first time, so anyone thinking of doing so at a self-garage should either take an experienced friend or establish beforehand that there will be someone with the time and experience to offer help. Self-garages should not be confused with the Garage Associatif, which are also increasingly present in France – although some combine the two functions – which are run by associations to help people on benefits. If you are receiving French benefits, you may qualify. They usually offer cut-price work carried out by retired mechanic members, or local garages under a deal with the association. The movement has even received backing from car manufacturers.

The Connexion May 2018 The Connexion


Money / Tax page

Must UK pension plans be declared in French tax return? WITH regard to my tax declaration, I have a Personal Pension Plan that I have with Standard Life UK. Do I have to include this on my 3916 form? C.S.

Tax credit for gifts to charity IN June 2017 I took part in a sponsored cycle ride on behalf of Cancer Support France and, as a result, I have a number of fiscal receipts in my name for some of the money that was donated. Which box do I need to declare these amounts in when I fill in my tax return for 2017? A.G. IF YOU were officially doing the ride on Cancer Support France’s behalf then this would be Cancer Support France’s money and in such a case you would not normally receive receipts in your name. However if you did a ride for which you collected money and you effectively gave this to CSF who treated it as a gift from you for which you received donation receipts, then it would be possible for you to claim a tax credit for this on this basis. To claim a tax credit for gifts to charities, insert the amount of the gift in form 2042 RICI, page one, box 7UF (ones for charities directly giving food, shelter and medicine to people in need go in 7UD).


Right to bank account

Send your financial queries to Hugh MacDonald at

If you have been paying ‘as you go’ under the libértatoire system then your income still needs to be declared so the tax office is aware of your overall income, and this is done on page one of the 2042C PRO. If you are set up as a ‘service’ worker, it would go in 5TB, or if you are considered a ‘liberal professional’ (micro-BNC income as opposed to micro-BIC) it goes in 5TE. If instead you opted for taxation under the usual bands after the micro allowance, income from services is inserted in 5KP and from liberal professions in 5HQ. Includes 10 pages of Hors serie / special publication from

Questions & Answers

French Income Tax

How to complete your

Impôt sur le revenu

declaration/s Deadlines Reductions Tax bands Pensions ISAs UK income Rental income

What’s new for 2018

Review of key forms plus an overview of online declaration

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NO, YOU do not need to include pensions – private or otherwise – on the 3916 form; the 3916 is for declaring the existence of foreign bank accounts and investments such as foreign assurance vie policies. Of course once you draw a pension from such a plan the income is declarable on the 2047 and 2042 income declaration forms.

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Need help completing your 2018 income tax declaration? Our 64-page helpguide is available in print or as a download, priced €12.50 (plus P&P) via the helpguide section of our website:

Who taxes UK state pension?

I STARTED a hypnotherapy practice last year, so this will be my first tax return. I am a set up as a micro-entrepreneur. Can you tell me how to declare this kind of income on the French tax form please? E.R.

LAST year our tax office said that we should have paid French tax on our UK state pension then claimed it back from the UK government. As we understand it, the UK state pension is not taxable in France. We would be grateful to receive your comments and any official references to laws which prove our UK pension is not taxable by France. T.H.

MICRO-ENTREPRENEUR income is declared differently depending on how you are set up to pay income tax, ie. whether you do so on the set prélèvement libératoire on a regular monthly or three-monthly basis or not (note that the right to do this is subject to specific income ceilings).

IT IS the other way around, in fact. UK state pension income is taxable by France and not the UK as long as you are resident in France (unlike ‘government’ pension income for retired civil servants, for example, where the opposite applies). These rules are set out in the Double Taxation

Declaring small business income

Practical: Money 33

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

Convention signed between the UK and France. If you have been paying UK tax it may be that you have not notified your change of tax residence to France to the UK authorities.

Excessive tax on new-build flat I AM a co-owner of a new-build flat. We received demands for excessive payments of taxe foncière despite the fact that the apartments are uninhabitable (certified by the police) and no completion certificates had been sent to the mairie. What are the rules relating to a first payment on a new property of this tax and what factors are taken into account in assessing the tax’s base level? M.S. WHILE there is an exemption on new-builds to taxe foncière, there is none to the removal of waste charge so you need to check your assessment is not for this. Otherwise, new-builds are exempt from taxe foncière for a period of two years after they become habitable, and in respect of this a form H1 needs to be deposited within 90 days of completion. For the value on which the tax is based, this is something that only the regional authorities can answer as while there are some common aspects, there are also some that are regional or local. Essentially the base is the valeur locative cadastrale, divided by two, to which a percentage rate voted by the mairie and departmental council is applied. This is a theoretical annual rental value and is based on factors relating to the property’s size plus how luxurious it is, the area, its view, if it is subject to noise, whether there is a lift… The values were assessed decades ago and are subject to an annual percentage increase voted by the government. New-builds are awarded a value similar to comparable nearby properties. A planned revision of the values has been underway for a few years now but is yet to be completed. To contest any assessment one should contact the authority which issued it, and in this case it would probably be best to make an appointment to ascertain the basis of the chargeable base level.

The information on these pages is of a general nature. You should not act or refrain from acting on it without taking professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted in respect of these articles. These articles are intended only as a general guide. Nothing herein constitutes actual financial advice.

A BRITISH reader reports that a Société Géné­ rale branch near her French holiday home no longer allows non-residents to open accounts. She asks if it applies to all French banks. Historically banks have had differing policies with regard to this. However a recent European directive, operative in France, states that residents of EU countries have a right to open a ‘basic’ bank account in other EU countries. A compte de base is not a savings account with interest but must have essential facilities including a payment card and, if possible, access to online banking. Banks may refuse for certain reasons, such as if you already have a French account or they suspect you of not respecting rules on money laundering. They should do so in writing and explaining the right to appeal to the Banque de France via a process called droit au compte. The BdF is able to oblige the bank, or an alternative bank, to open an account for you. Société Générale told us it follows the directive but that the specialist staff it has to open accounts for non-residents are not present in all branches.

Is new IFI tax simple?

WITH the move to a tax based only on real estate, fewer people should pay wealth tax this year and those that do should pay less – about half as much on average, according to the Finance Ministry. Having said which the new Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilière (IFI) is not as simple as might be expected. There are new complications related to certain shares in businesses that have to be assessed according to the proportion of their property assets (including ones invested in assurance vie). Also, while the government has slashed the items wealth tax may be levied on it has also removed some (non-property-related) items that could previously be deducted from taxable wealth. All those eligible will now have to declare at the same time as income tax, on new forms, and no difference will be made between people in ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ brackets for wealth tax, as previously. Connexion has a guide to the new IFI tax priced at €9.50 (+P&P for a printed version) available via the helpguide section of our website or call Nathalie on 06 40 55 71 63.

Pledge to end home tax

PRESIDENT Macron has pledged to end the taxe d’habitation for all households by the end of his presidency. This year around 80% of households will benefit from a first (one-third) reduction, leading to two-thirds in 2019 and full exemption in 2020. This does not apply to second homes.

Errors on income forms PEOPLE with incomes which would usually be pre-filled on their tax forms should check them extra carefully this year. Half a million have been sent out incompletely filled in, especially with regard to French pensions, due to a computer bug.

Making your life in france less taxing * The Kentingtons service is exclusive to individuals with a minimum of €250,000 in financial assets. Kentingtons SARL, RCS 500 163 282 DRAGUIGNAN, Conseil en Investissement Financier (CIF) –Conseil en Gestion de Patrimoine Certifié (CGPC), Catégorie B, référence sous le numéro F000116, association agréée par l’Autorité des marchés Financiers, conforme article L.541-4 du Code Monétaire et Financier, Assurance Responsabilité Civile et professionnelle conforme à l’article L.541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier. ORIAS 08038951 Garantie Financière et Assurance Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 512-6 et 512-7 du Code des Assurances. Head Office: Z.A. les Esparrus, 83690, VILLECROZE

34 Practical: Money

The Connexion May 2018

Dos and don’ts with UK pensions in France This column is by Bill Blevins of Blevins Franks financial advice group ( He has decades of experience advising expatriates in France and co-authored the Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France Today there is more freedom than ever for UK pensions. On the face of it, this is great news. Who does not want to have choice when it comes to accessing benefits that have been locked away for years? But this is not an easy climate for expatriates wanting to secure a prosperous retirement in France. Not only does Brexit bring much uncertainty, increased longevity means we potentially need to cover the cost of spending decades in retirement. There are cross-border tax considerations too. Understanding your options is the first step to establishing the best approach for you.

What can’t you do?

There are two key restrictions. First, you cannot transfer out of UK public sector schemes, such as civil service and NHS pensions. Second, you cannot access your pension under the age of 55. If you are offered opportunities to do so, unless it is under exceptional circumstances such as critical health issues, be extremely cautious. Not only could you risk losing everything to scams, you could face 55% UK tax penalties on funds transferred.

What can you do?

If you have a ‘defined contribution’ (also known as ‘money purchase’) pension, you can take the

entire fund as cash from the age of 55. This applies to personal or stakeholder pensions, many workplace pensions and Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs). Other options include taking cash sums whenever you want or arranging a regular income through ‘flexible drawdown’. In these cases, the remaining funds would stay invested until your pot emptied. Alternatively, you could exchange your funds for an annuity that provides a regular income for life. Britons in France have the additional option of transferring UK pensions to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). This can unlock more flexibility to pass pension benefits to chosen heirs (usually it is just your spouse), take income in euros or sterling, and protect funds from lifetime allowance penalties and future UK taxation. Those with a ‘defined benefit’ or ‘final salary’ employer pension can expect to receive a fixed proportion of salary – usually increasing each year with inflation – for the whole of retirement. While you cannot usually withdraw cash from these pensions, you can transfer to a defined contribution scheme or QROPS. Usually, the benefits of drawing a guaranteed income for life override the appeal of transferring. However, many of the sponsoring employers of final salary pensions are finding it harder to afford lifetime benefits amidst ultra-low interest rates and members’ increased life expectancy. Today’s unusually high ‘transfer values’ for cashing-in a final salary pensions reflect the difficulties of funding the promises made. Traditionally, transfer values would represent 20x the annual salary due at retirement but, in some cases, current payments are reaching as

high as 40x. In simple terms, this means that for a £30,000 final salary pension, a £600,000 payout would have increased to £1.2 million! Remember: transferring means forfeiting the right to draw a guaranteed income – that never runs out – for as long as you live in retirement. Take regulated pension advice to ensure you understand the full implications and do what is right for you.

unnecessary social charges. Transferring UK pensions to a QROPS based in the EU or EEA (European Economic Area) is tax-free but a 25% UK charge applies on transfers to QROPS outside the region (unless you are resident in that jurisdiction). Some speculate that this may be extended post-Brexit, so there could be a limited time to transfer without tax penalties.

UK and French tax considerations

What is right for you will depend on your unique circumstances and goals. While many expatriates benefit from transferring UK pensions to a QROPS or reinvesting in a tax-efficient ‘assurance-vie’, this will not suit everyone. Discuss your options with a professional adviser who is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to ensure the best outcome for you. They should also have cross-border experience to take the French and UK tax implications into account. Behavioural economists sometimes refer to ‘choice overload’: when confronted with too many options, we often take no action at all for fear of getting it wrong. While it is better to do nothing than do the wrong thing with your pension, with Brexit only a few months away, the window may be closing to take advantage of today’s opportunities. Take time now to review your options to secure longterm financial security in France.

Generally, every time you withdraw cash from your pension, 25% will be tax-free in the UK. For British residents, the remaining 75% is subject to UK income tax rates as is any pension income. The tax treatment is different for French residents. Only UK government service pensions remain taxable in the UK. Otherwise, lump sums and pension income taken by French residents attract French taxes, even if funds remain in Britain (exceptions can apply in extreme circumstances). French tax rates range from 14% for income over €9,807 to 45% above €153,783, with a 10% allowance on gross pension income (to €3,752). For lump sums, it is possible to limit French tax to a fixed rate of 7.5% with an uncapped 10% allowance. You will only be eligible if you have not already started drawing benefits from your pension and you take the entire fund in one go. Pension income and lump sums are also subject to annual social charges of 9.1% (previously 7.4%), unless you hold an EU Form S1 or do not have access to the French healthcare system. So if you are under the UK retirement age and wish to access your pension, it may be worth delaying joining the French healthcare system to prevent

What should you do?

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; individuals are advised to seek personalised advice.

The Connexion May 2018

Business 35

Cognac’s growing pains distil into vine war Sales are booming but success brings a whole raft of new dilemmas, writes Brian McCulloch

took advantage of a loophole in regulations which opened in 2016, and bought up unprofitable vineyards in the Loire region. They then pulled up the vines and planted the same acreage in the Cognac region, thus getting around strict quota rules set by the government and the BNIC. When it came to light, it unleashed a wasp’s nest of emotion. First, the sight of uprooted vines piled into a heap in the Loire and then set alight with used engine oil caused uproar. Then in the Cognac region, young vineyard owners, using the art of political theatre, mounted “commando” expeditions on the properties of those deemed responsible for the “outrage” and planted large signs proclaiming ‘Ici niche un vautour’ (a vulture nests here). Events finally

Talking Point Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider, UK Telecom, answers your queries Q: My broadband works well when I use my PC but when I want to work on my laptop or use my iPad it is much slower. It is even worse when we have visitors and several want to connect to the wi-fi. How can I improve this? A: There has been something of an explosion in the number of devices people wish to connect to their home wi-fi. Today, most households have six, four of which are linked via wi-fi, and the more devices that are connected the slower the wi-fi speed will be. When visitors arrive they are likely to want to connect to your wifi also to save using their data allowance, so some good housekeeping is advised. Connecting to the internet using an Ethernet cable will always be faster than using your wi-fi. Most modems enable four devices to be connected at the same time. Every connection using your wi-fi will slow it down so switch unused devices off when not in use. Also remember that your broadband is ‘contended’ meaning you share access to the

Last year, more factories opened in France than closed for the first time in many years. One of the most notable new buildings is a €100million conditioning, bottling and dispatch centre built by Hennessy at Pont Neuf, in Charente Maritime, just north of Cognac. Covering 30 hectares, the new factory meets the most recent ecological standards, using, for example, natural light where possible. Unusually for a bottling plant, it is very quiet, with working conditions and arrangements designed to cause as little environmental stress to the workers as possible. About 110 new jobs have been created and the investment by Hennessy (owned by the LVMH luxury goods conglomerate) reflects both the recent good times for Cognac and sends a signal to growers that it is okay for them to plant more.

Grapes of plenty, harvesting in the Cognac region

internet with nearby properties. At peak times the internet speed will slow everybody down and this, in turn, will affect the wi-fi signal. If you think that the wi-fi speed is very much slower than when using an Ethernet cable speak with your telecom company. It can undertake a quick remote test on your service to establish if the problem is caused by several nearby customers using the same wi-fi channel. Modems have up to 14 channels available but are generally factory pre-set to use three. If that is the case they can change to a less congested one remotely while you wait. This change will remain in place even if you disconnect your modem while you are away. You may also find you occasionally need to reboot your modem to overcome some problems and you should retain the change made. This involves disconnecting the modem from the power supply for 30 minutes. However if you have to reset your modem by pressing the small reset button you will lose the change to your wi-fi channel and you will have to ask for help changing back to the less congested channel.

See for more information on services in France. T: UK +44 1483 477 100  T: from France 0805 631 632

calmed down when the government promised to close the loophole and said the problem had been caused by the European Union not understanding the complexity of French grape growing. Officially the Business Plan Cognac, agreed in 2012 by the BNIC, calls for limited growth in vineyards from the 75,000 hectares currently in production. This compares with 110,000 hectares in the late 1980s when the last sustained boom took place and whose overproduction is blamed for the depth of the last bust. But the tension which caused the Loire loophole to be exploited is growing again as official figures show how well Cognac has recovered. The number of bottles exported rose 10% to 198 million, which in cash terms

Luncheon voucher use earns boss a warning A PARIS company boss received a nine-page reprimand from employment inspec­tors... because an employee had used a luncheon voucher on a Sunday. Tickets restaurant, Chèques restaurant, Chèque déjeuner and Chèque de table are only to be used to buy a meal or food for a meal on working days but the worker was not working. If they had they been working they should have used vouchers stating that they were at work on a Sunday or jour férié. Under the Code de Travail staff cannot eat at their desk or work post and firms that have more than 25 staff must offer luncheon vouchers or set up a canteen. The firm and staff split costs and all staff get the same value. For tax reasons it is rarely more than €10.42 and averages €7.50. Many lunchtime menus are priced to meet vouchers, with €12 a common price point. It is no surprise France has an eat-out lifestyle when so many people get vouchers but the rules are widely flouted. Many workers use them for shopping or to pay for meals out and shops and restaurants have little interest in refusing custom.

meant a rise of 14% to €3.15billion. Around 17,000 jobs depend on Cognac. Now the dispute is between growers and the négociants, who in Cognac both act as blenders, bottlers and sellers of finished Cognac, and as producers, buying raw wine for distilling, some already distilled eaux de vie to mature in oak barrels, and mature Cognac ready to be blended. Négociants want the acreage devoted to Cognac to increase, especially as the relatively poor harvest last year, hit by late frost in April, has meant they will have to dig into their precious reserves in 2020, when the matured Cognac from 2017 hits the market. Growers are more cautious, knowing vines planted this year will only produce

significant wine for distilling in five years and after distilling will only be sold as Cognac two or three years later. A lot can happen in eight years, with, for example no-one knowing how sales of spirits between the EU and UK will be affected by Brexit. Limited authorised planting has taken place, with 800 extra hectares planted in 2017, and 1,500 more expected this year. Another problem affecting the sector is the perennial one of how to boost consumption in France, which accounts for just 4% of Cognac sold and where the market is declining. Booming exports, especially to the US, where the drink gained popularity among rappers as an alternative to redneck whiskey have helped – but home support is still lacking.

Specialist pension solutions for UK expatriates in France Blevins Franks specialises in cross-border wealth management and can provide personalised, UK regulated pension advice, including QROPS. If you are thinking of transferring your pension out of the UK, you may wish to take action now in case the UK extends its 25% Overseas Transfer Charge post Brexit. We can help you with all your pension options, including the tax implications in France.

Talk to the people who know

0 805 112 163 (N0 Vert)



After many years of crisis, Cognac is doing well, very well. But a return to profits brings problems that would have seemed minor in the late 1990s, when bankruptcy threatened many family vineyards, diggers were pulling up vines, and the big four Cognac houses were laying people off instead of hiring. The key question is whether the authorities should allow more Cognac vines to be planted to increase production, given the eight-year timescale between planting and significant production. Members of the controlling Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) started the decision process last month. “It is a complex process, codified in the Business Plan Cognac, where négociants say how much they think they will sell and the growers examine the plan and see if they think it is feasible without driving down prices,” said Christophe Forget, vice-president of the BNIC. “It is still too early to say which side the coin will fall.” Matters were bought to a head when some opportunistic vineyard owners,

Old Cognac from a very quiet new factory

Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided overseas, via the Insurance Mediation Directive from Malta, the regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as 'Conseil en Investissements Financiers' and 'Courtiers d’Assurance' Category B (register can be consulted on Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: Parc Innolin, 3 Rue du Golf, CS 60073, 33701 Mérignac – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA).

36 Innovation

The Connexion May 2018

by JANE HANKS A FRENCH start-up claims to have invented the “computer of the future” which will turn any low-powered PC, old Mac or smartphone into a highend machine. The seemingly impossible is possible thanks to cloud computing, meaning key elements of the device, called Shadow, are online, says the Parisbased firm Blade. Blade’s marketing director Yannis Weinbach said: “Instead of having all the elements of a computer under your desk, they are stored in a secure data centre. It gives you the equivalent of a computer worth €1,500.” Shadow users access the service via the internet and cloud with an app (or using a small desktop box) on any smartphone, tablet or screen and any keyboard and mouse via a wired connection, Wifi or 4G. The technology then transmits a perfect image, up to 4K, to the user’s device.

Photo: Blade /

Give an old PC or Mac a new life as high-end cloud computer

Photo: Blade /

Shadow is aimed at gamers who can play anywhere on any device

Emmanuel Freund of Blade shows the tiny Shadow desktop box that links to the cloud Mr Weinbach said: “The advantage is that it gives total freedom of use. “You do not need to worry about the contents because we take care of those. If something goes wrong, we fix it. It will never be out of date as we constantly update different elements. “Within a couple of clicks you can get to any part of the computer you wish to use, whether to play a game, access files, or use software like Photoshop and you will be able to do

The advantage is it gives total freedom of use Yannis Weinbach, Blade

that on the device of your choice.” Launched in November, it has 18,000 people signed up so far in western Europe and California and hopes to spread throughout the US this year to reach 100,000 customers. The company wants to “free users from the constraints of physical PC hardware and give them what they want and need: access to a powerful, secure, top-of-the-line Windows 10 computer anytime, anywhere and on any device”. It needs a 15Mb/second internet connection, which will be a challenge for many in rural France, but Blade is testing a system using 5MB/second. Mr Weinbach says hackers will find it harder as they will have to first hack into the data centre, and then the individual’s computer. They cannot

guarantee protection from viruses, but will be able to fix problems within minutes of a call to their support unit. Available on a subscription-only basis at €29.95 a month, the offer is aimed at high-end users at present, especially gamers; it would be expensive for someone with basic needs. Within four years you would have paid the equivalent of a new €1,500 computer and still be paying, but would have had no running or repair costs, which Blade says is cheaper. Mr Weinbach said previous cloud computer services failed as the technology was not ready: Blade had created a system which works. “Our CEO, Emmanuel Freund got the idea in his previous job when he was working on a smartphone for older people and realised it was hard

to ensure the hardware would always be able to meet the software’s needs.” In 2015, he and his partner Acher Xriou opted to remove the hardware constraints and relocate powerful components to the cloud, to allow the client’s hardware to be minimal. Raising €3million from private investors, they showed the device in autumn 2016 and brought in €10m of funding. By June, 2017, they had 50 employees, 5,000 customers and a further €51m from investors. They now employ 100 people in France, producing a service for gamers who demand the highest quality. Mr Weinbach said: “Now we want to provide a service for users with more modest needs at a cheaper rate. “Our target is to replace all the computers in the world.”

The Liberal Democrats in France are Fighting for the Rights of Britons Living in France

Feeling Ignored and Abandoned by the Conservative Government and the Labour Party? Liberal Democrats in France are campaigning for your rights

The UK government has ignored UK citizens living abroad for too long. This culminated in the EU referendum when UK citizens were not considered or represented and many were barred from voting. The old argument that citizens abroad are not influenced by government policy in the UK has been blown out the water with the vote for BREXIT. This act of national suicide has meant that Britons living in France have already faced a cut in their standard of living and face continued uncertainty over their status and in particular their freedom of movement. The UK government has ignored Britons living abroad for such a long time because we can’t vote therefore we’re just not important in their eyes.

The LibDems in France are here to make sure no UK citizen living in France gets ignored.

Join the Liberal Democrats in France

(If registered with a French address you will automatically be allocated to the LibDems in France Local Party)

Furthermore, as the BREXIT negotiations have unfolded, EU citizens in the UK (3 million) face similar uncertainty and, most recently, the revelations about the WINDRUSH generation of Caribbean British Citizens in the UK gives no reassurance that the UK government will do anything other than ignore and abandon Britons living in France. The UK Home Secretary is quoted as saying that it is up to the French authorities to decide the fate of its residents! This is part of the deliberate policy of the Home Office to create a “hostile environment” as the basis for its duty of care for British citizens!

Donate to the Liberal Democrats

Informal polling suggests that Britons in France are worried about health & social benefits; residency rights & freedom of movement; income instability & uncertainty; and the security of our future generations. However, the over arching concern is the lack of continued direct representation.

People just like you are fighting to make the UK Parliament listen to us Our collective future is at the heart of a flourishing European Union Liberal – Democratic – Radical – Progressive Our Values – Britain at the heart of Europe Email: if you have any questions @libdemsinfrance


The LibDems in France are here to make sure no UK citizen gets ignored Our aim is to make your voice heard

The Liberal Democrats in France are actively campaigning: n n n n

To have a vote for life – Abolition of the 15 year cap on voting in UK General Elections and Referenda To be represented by dedicated MPs in the UK Parliament – Overseas Constituencies To stay in Europe Union – Stop BREXIT To have full European Citizenship rights – Including Freedom of Movement

The Liberal Democrats have a clear set of values, laid down in our constitution upon which our campaigns are based. The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, (Liberté, égalité, fraternité) and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We wish to make Europe a meaningful democracy with a sustainable economy, a liberal society, a technological powerhouse, protecting your human rights and a green environment. We have translated our words into positive actions by engaging with our Parliamentary Team who are working proactively on your behalf. Tom Brake MP & Baroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer have been designated as our European Champions and Lord Paul Tyler, our Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson is sponsoring our Votes for Life & Overseas Constituencies Campaigns. This article is based upon an interview with Paul Fisher who is Chair of LibDems in France. Paul has lived permanently in France for 8 years since retirement and owned property here for 30 years. He lives in the Corbieres.

Explore 37

Take the high-speed train to Spain to see Dali’s own museum

Photo: Talgo

The Connexion May 2018

The museum entrance is breathtaking

Mae West sofa is part of a stunning display

Jewellery on display in the Dali museum

There’s more to Figueres than bargain shopping malls and Salvador Dali, as Gillian Law discovers on a rail journey from Marseille Figueres in Girona, Catalonia, is well known for its most famous resident, the artist Salvador Dali … and equally popular for its shopping malls. It is one of the first towns across the border from France. The town attracts a lot of shoppers keen to pay Spanish prices for products that cost more on the French side of the border. The town is worth a visit – and not just for the bargains. There is an attractive tree-lined Ramblas square in the centre, a toy museum, and the spectacular and slightly bewildering museum that Salvador Dali put together himself, and lived in for some years. The museum started out in an abandoned theatre that had been badly burned during the Spanish Civil War, and later expanded into other buildings and courtyards. The exterior, decorated with giant white eggs on its roof, has a pattern of knotted loafs studding bright red walls behind a dramatic line of Cyprus trees. It stops you in your tracks to see such an outlandish building in what is

High-speed trains mean the SNCF/Renfe journey time from Paris to Barcelona takes 6hr19

otherwise a quaint little Spanish town. Inside, all you can do is wander and stare, impressed, amused and perhaps perplexed by the art and the building itself. Dali was insistent that there should be no signs or explanations, but that visitors should find their own meanings in the work. Highlights include Dali’s jewelled sculptures, the Mae West lips sofa and many optical illusions. The paintings also give an insight into how Dali’s work developed over the years. The museum is great for children as well as adults, with odd walkways and unexpected things to see at every turn. A Cadillac taxi in the entrance courtyard, for example, has a mannequin driver with a shark’s head, two mannequin passengers, and a lot of live snails inside. Put €1 in a machine and it begins to ‘rain’ inside the taxi. It costs €14 for adults, and €10 for children and seniors, with an extra €7 / €5 to see the jewels. The large toy museum on Figueres’ main Ramblas square will also keep children amused, although they are likely to be slightly horrified by what young people used to have to play with in ‘the olden days’. That costs €7, and €5.60 for concessions. Do visit the Hotel Duran, where Dali used to spend much of his time when he came into Figueres from his house in Cadaqués.

You can also see the outside of the house where he grew up, then eat in one of the many restaurants around the town. The food is good, and considerably cheaper than in France. Beware of late Spanish lunchtimes, though, and make sure you have a good breakfast to keep you going until it’s time to eat, usually 2 or 3pm. It is worth getting out into the local countryside, too, if you can – there are good vineyards in the region and there is plenty of shopping to be done, both in the town and outside. The Gran Jonquera mall, for example, is 20km from Figueres station but can be reached by bus. Getting to Figueres is easy from France if you use the TGV ‘en coopération’ service run by Spanish rail firm Renfe and SNCF. The service was set up five years ago, allowing fast train travel from Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille, as well as many towns in between, to Barcelona and Madrid. There are four services a day between France and Spain in winter, rising to seven in summer. Paris to Barcelona takes six hours and 19 minutes, and costs “from €39”, if booked ahead. At the time of writing, to book a trip for the following week would cost €153 in second class and €184 in first. The rail companies have each given

Dali’s favourite restaurant is still serving

over 10 trains to the service – doubledecked Euroduplex units than can travel at up to 320kph on the Barcelona to Paris and Toulouse routes, and single deck Renfe models that can reach 300kph. The project also involved working with infrastructure companies Adif, RFF and TP Ferro to make sure the high-speed service could operate smoothly. To date, more than 2.5million people have caught the train to and from Spain, and SNCF reports than 39% of those were French, 18% Spanish and 43% from elsewhere. The trains are clean and smart and the journey passes quickly. There’s a ‘cinema’ showing on each trip, with films shown on overhead screens and headset jacks in the seat, as on a plane. The films tend to be in Spanish or French, with subtitles in the other language. Likewise, train

Make sure you have a good breakfast to keep you going until it is time to eat, usually around 2pm or 3pm

companies make a point of their ‘bilingual’ staff, but it’s worth being aware that this means they speak French and Spanish. Some will speak English, and everyone is very friendly. Power points at each seat are a help on a long journey, there’s plenty of luggage storage, and the buffet car has a decent selection of food and drinks. There’s dedicated space for wheelchairs in both the trains and in the stations, and a service called Atendo in Spain and Acces Plus in France offers extra care, for no charge, for people with limited mobility whether permanent or temporary. Travelling by train might be slower than flying, but there’s no lengthy check-in period or wait for your luggage – and you can take three bags. The views of the French and Spanish countryside are spectacular and, of course, you arrive in the very heart of each city. Whether you go to Figueres, carry on to Barcelona or Madrid, or branch out and head into the countryside once you get there, high speed train is a great way to travel to and experience Spain. My train did, admittedly, stop for a while due to ‘technical difficulties’ on the way back to Marseille, but limped home in the end! Gillian Law travelled to Figueres courtesy of Renfe and SNCF


The Swiss city of Basel is so close to France that some of its suburbs are inside French borders. It is home to a range of museums, including the first publicly accessible art collection in Europe and one dedicated to 500 years of musical history


The German spa town dates to Roman times, and visitors have sought out the healing properties of the waters for centuries. It is home to Germany’s largest opera house, Festspielhaus.


See how the other half live in less than two square kilometres of glamorous principality on the Med coast – that, despite its small size, has room for a casino, a palace, an oceanography museum, and an F1 race, among other attractions.

Photo: Andrea Zinardi

Five more ‘worth-a-visit’ venues that are just outside France MONS

The site of the first battle fought by the British Army in World War I – and City Hall has a poignant plaque, but there’s more to the Belgian city than tragedy. The belfry at Saint Waltrude Collegiate Church is a World Heritage Site.


Three miles across into Italy, this pretty Riviera town with a river running through it was once the home of a tribe that resisted Roman rule. It has several Roman remains including a theatre.


Your questions answered

Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query

Q: I have read you can leave up to €159,000 to a registered disabled person whatever their relationship to the deceased and this will be tax free. Do you know if this would apply to an autistic grandchild resident in the UK? She does receive some kind of disability benefit in her own right plus 1-1 assistance in school. Does France include neurodevelopmental conditions in its definition of ‘disabled’ and what type of documentation would be needed? C.N. A: A ‘disabled beneficiary’ is entitled to an exemption of €159,325 from inheritance tax. The qualification requirements under Article 779 II of the French Tax Code (Code Général Des Impôts) are that the beneficiary must be either: Unable to pursue work under ordinary working conditions due to physical or mental disability; Or, if under 18, unable to obtain a qualification or apprenticeship of a normal level (due to their physical or mental disability). This requires supporting

statements from medical experts (eg a GP) and from the social worker to confirm the disability and the resulting inability to work. The French tax office will then need to approve this when the inheritance tax form (déclaration de succession) is submitted. Whether or not a person meets those conditions is case specific. This exemption is for any beneficiary who meets the above conditions, irrespective of whether they are a bloodline relation or not, and irrespective as to whether they are French resident or not, as long as the estate (or part of it) is taxable in France. The exemption applies to inheritance or lifetime gifts and can be added to other existing exemptions. So, a child entitled to the normal €100,000 free of inheritance tax would, if disabled, be entitled to €100,000 plus €159,325 (€259,325 tax free). A grandchild is entitled to only €1,594 tax free and then tax on a sliding scale from 5% to 45%.

Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930 

Q: Our flat has a large balcony and we would like to enclose it with a loggia to make an ‘outside room’ – what are the rules? F.M. A: You need parallel approvals – from the copropriété (owners’ group which runs the building,) and from the mairie’s town planning. Both are essential: do not start with one and not the other. Balconies are regarded as private space in most modern flat rules but structural changes, like your loggia, need copropriété approval, via a majority vote of owners at a general meeting. If other flats already have loggias then chances of ap­proval are probably high – but if you are the first, it may be an uphill battle, especially if some owners think a loggia will harm the block’s

look and exclusiveness, or spoil their own views. The mairie approval will follow dep­artmen­tal guidelines, as well as local bylaws on colours, materials, cleaning etc. In most areas, loggias of 5m² - 20m² need only a simple declaration of intent to do work, déclaration pré­alable de travaux, which will be either approved or not. If larger, you must apply for full planning permission, and a permis de construire. Again, if you are the first you may have a problem, if you are following others and in a similar style, it is easier. Once built, you must tell the tax office, as a loggia will likely increase the taxe foncière. It might also mean higher heating charges, if heating is communal.

Tel: 05 61 57 90 86  If you have a legal query send it to We select questions for answer every edition

The Connexion May 2018

Passport is a helping hand to boost energy efficiency THE hardest parts of doing work to improve energy efficiency is to decide the best way to start, the time-scale and to set a budget... plus getting the paperwork done for éco grants and tax rebates. Now a new project just started in two regions will see property owners get help from architects and energy experts to advise on insulation and other work and, in effect, reduce complications. Called Passeport Efficacité Energétique (P2E), it will cost €100 and give owners vital aid in what can be a minefield. Two years of tests showed that owners recognised that it speeded up projects with twothirds opting to do further work or research. Experts appointed by regional Agences Territoriale de la Rén­ ovation Energétique (ATRE) carry out a half-day evaluation of what needs to be done and they discuss costs with the owner, draw up a time-frame, within the budget and help with planning the work and the necessary paperwork.

Details are stored on computer in an agreed format, so owners, local authorities, architects and builders can access it. Until now, government aid for work has been a minefield with regular changes that vary from area to area, so the P2E gives owners someone ‘in the system’ working on their side. The aim is for homes to be rated BBC (Bâtiment Basse Consommation), meaning with an energy use of just 80kWh/ m2/year and could mean rec­ov­ ering the €100 outlay many times over with typical energy related rebates of 35% of cost. Unlike some schemes, where anyone signing up is inundated with calls from double-glazing and insulation sales staff at all hours of the day and night, the association running P2E, The Shift Project, promises not to sell on information. “The idea is to make it as easy as possible for people to improve energy efficiency,” said Jean-Noël Geist of the association. “So often people hear of incentives to use less energy but when they get round to

making enquiries it all gets very complicated. “We want to change that.” The scheme is starting a new phase in Angers Loire Métro­ pole and in Grand Est region, where local ATREs have signed up. Interested homeowners should contact the ATRE via details on regional websites. Mr Geist wants other areas to join soon, especially as regions are coming under pressure from the government to meet targets for energy efficiency. “We aim to be a collaborative organisation so the only way for us to work is if others want to work with us; we cannot impose our will,” he said. “Our trials have been very successful and we are in two regions with initially encouraging results, so we hope other regions will sign up too.” Some of France’s biggest companies such as Saint-Gobain, EDF and Schneider Electric have put their money and expertise into the P2E scheme, which should also help convince local authorities to sign up.

Bordeaux creates new Airbnb hit squad BORDEAUX mairie is stepping up its crackdown on Airbnb rentals with the creation of a special monitoring unit. On any given day there are around 8,000 Airbnb listings in Bordeaux and, mainly for small flats, the city has worked out they make up around 5% of the total available. Increased disruption from the rentals has already led to residents leaving some areas of the city centre. It comes as the city increased the tax on second homes in Bordeaux from 20% to 50% in a new bid to encourage owners to rent flats year-round and offer much-needed homes. Since March 1, city owners wanting to rent out via Airbnb or other online agencies, must register at the mairie. They can rent for no more than 120 days a year or be classed as tourism professionals and made to meet registration and other costs as for hotels.

Tastes differ, but cheap pallets can make an ideal DIY shed Photo:

38 PRACTICAL: Property

Move slowly to the...

Good life!


Continuing our series on becoming self-sufficient one step at a time, we look at one of the best-known features of most gardens... the shed As your garden progresses, the collection of garden tools and equipment inevitably expands, and sooner or later you need to look at the delicious possibility of building a garden shed. More than a mere tool store, a shed can also be a handy place to take a break or even brew a cuppa – they can be as large and fancy as you please. Up to a point. However, sheds with a ground area of more than 5m2 or higher than 12m tall may need a building permit and payment of a one-off ‘shed tax’ taxe d’aménagement. Councils vary, so if you hanker after a palatial shed, complete with sun lounger and mini fridge, it is best to consult the mairie before making a down payment as taxes can be high – with an 8m2 shed probably facing a one-off €250 payment. If your desires are more modest and 5m2 will suffice, there are no formalities unless you live in a protected or listed area, in which case you must inform the mairie of the proposed build before you begin. It is, of course, entirely possible, given that your bank balance is feeling healthy, to buy a brand new shed in kit form from

Sowing time for David Clay in Gers any of the large DIY or gardening chains, or you could get a local builder to make you one. But making one yourself is far more fun, and if you use second hand or recovered materials, it is greener too. Old pallets make wonderful construction modules as they are very solid. They are becoming sought-after, but you may find some at the déchetterie, or Emmaüs, or by asking around. Also keep your eyes open for scrap wood, old planks, shelves from wardrobes, etc. You may even find a sheet of corrugated iron or plastic on your travels, which you can use for roofing (but bear in mind rain noise if the shed is close to the house). The internet is awash with free plans for constructing a garden shed, and there are even how-to videos on YouTube. Why not have a go? There is nothing to lose and you could save a fortune.

EACH month we follow Connexion readers David and Teresa Clay in becoming self-sufficient at their B&B in Gascony.

FORAGING for elderflowers, David Clay said: “We steep them in water, add lemon juice and sugar so airborne yeasts ferment the sugar, to get a golden, sparkling, slight­ ly alcoholic but very refreshing drink.” It is an enormous hit with their French neighbours. “We also make elderflower cordial which gets used in ice creams and sorbets, but that’s much less fun!” The long grass near the hedge is now full of wild flowers which David and Teresa are picking. Mixed with cultivated flowers including rosemary, thyme and calendula they make a flower-scented syrup a bit like honey in colour, texture and flavour. It is another way of preserving spring flavours for use in the autumn and winter months. They are also hoping to harvest cherries. “We have two large trees, but in some years, late spring storms can knock all the blossom off them, diminishing the harvest. “However, we had a very bountiful crop last year, some of which we preserved in Armagnac, so one way or another cherries will be on the menu this month!” The herbs, thyme, savory, rosemary, sage and mint, are flowering, attracting bees and swallowtail butterflies – to the delight of visitors – and first peas and broad beans will be picked to be eaten fresh, or frozen. “It may seem a shame to freeze vegetables this fresh, but we know how welcome they will be during the winter.” The couple are sowing squashes and melons which will be fruiting by early August. “Once butternut squash is ripe, it can be left in the sun to cure for a few days and stored for months. We grate the flesh into a cake to serve for breakfast in our B&B.”

Classic Basque house hidden by 350 tonnes of renovations

Architecture of France... Pays Basque


Ortillopitz has small windows to the side and the main entrance is to the east. To the left is a traditional haystack to provide winter feed for the animals


PAYS Basque in the south-west has a very distinctive architecture, intrinsically linked with its culture and history. Etxe is the Basque word for house, and the etxe has always been at the heart of the local culture. Until the 17th century, surnames even came from the name of or the geographic situation of the house people lived in, for example Uhartea, which means between two rivers. Part of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the Pays Basque is made up of three historic provinces, Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule. Labourd, is the most highly populated and runs from the Pyrénées up the Atlantic coast with the towns Bayonne, Biarritz, Anglet, Hendaye and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Its inland village of Sare, in the Pyrén­éan foothills, has a house called Ortillopitz which has been restored to the way it was in the 17th century. Owner Jean-Elie Tapia had to remove 350 tonnes of partitions and additions, but underneath found the original features. Built in 1660, it is an authentic traditional Labourdine, Basque house and is open to the public from April to October (Details – Mr Tapia describes its distinctive features: “It has a roof with two identical pitched slopes. People think Basque roofs are typically asymmetrical but they are only like that if there have been additions. The tiles are usually clay. “The western side of the house has very few openings and thick stone walls, to protect from bad weather, which comes from the Atlantic. Windows and doors are on the protected, eastern side, which is halftimbered and contains the main entrance. “Houses were always rendered with lime to protect from humidity, and painted with limewash once a year to disinfect them

Property 39



The Connexion May 2018

and to make them cooler, as the white colour reflects the sun’s rays. “The wooden shutters were originally left bare and it was only after the Revolution owners began to use leftover paint from the ship-building industry to decorate wooden features. The colours used for ships were red, green and blue, which is why those were used and now they are the only ones allowed. People used to say the shutters were red because bull’s blood was used, but that is a myth.” All houses, town or farm, are similar and substantial due to the area’s particular history: “Before the Revolution, the Basque region was different from many others as the population did not pay taxes to local lords, only an annual sum to the king. “This meant they were able to keep the majority of their earnings for themselves. “So, it is a region with very few chateaux, but most of the houses are large, and owners have always taken great care of them.” The house sheltered the family, their animals and their activities. Only the sheep were kept in separate buildings near to their pasture land. Entering on the ground floor, the stables were on the left, with the horses, mules, two oxen for ploughing and two cows for milk separated from the rest of the house by a door. There was also the chai which was not for wine but for cider. Inside, Ortillopitz has large rooms and robust furniture along with a large fire and the traditional ‘piment’ peppers hanging in the smoke

“The majority of families made their own cider. It was the first place in France to make cider, before Brittany and Normandy and each sailor was entitled to two litres a day as it contained vitamin C which fought off scurvy when they were away at sea.” The first floor has a large kitchen and bedrooms: “Again Basque houses are unusual because families were wealthy enough to have separate rooms to sleep in. In other parts of the country there was only one room to live and sleep in. “There would usually be a bedroom for the grandparents, one for the parents, one for the children and perhaps one for any unmarried brothers or sisters. “Another unusual aspect was that the child who inherited the house was the one the parents thought was the most suitable, irrespective of age or sex. If it was a daughter she first had to show she could bear children, then she would be chosen to inherit and the marriage came after that. “Everything changed after the Revolution when the church insisted girls be married before pregnancy and they were no longer seen as equal for inheritance purposes.” The third floor attic was where the crops were stored, with maize most common. It is another Basque first as they were introduced to the new cereal when it came off the ships bringing it from the Americas. Houses in other parts of Pays Basque have the same history, but with slightly differing architectural features. Soule is farthest inland and walls are often made of pebbles and flint covered in lime rendering, with mostly slate roofs. Buildings are often rectangular with two stories, a middle door, two windows either side and three on the second floor. Barns may be attached as a T or L shape or elongating the house, depending on the terrain. Red is popular for wooden features but can also be grey blue, green or brown. Houses in Basse-Navarre, between Soule and La­bourd, are often stone, with no half-timbering. They are often very big and typically red and white.

Property Watch in

East of Région Sud 04, 05, 06

REGIONAL CAPITAL: Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur DEPARTMENTS: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-Maritimes MAIN TOWNS: Nice, Digne, Gap, Grasse, Forcalquier, Manosque, Barcelonnette, Briançon, Antibes, Cannes, Menton, Sisteron THIS, the eastern sector of Paca, combines the big-money allure of the Riviera and the simpler – and cheaper – lifestyle of the foothills of the Alps. On the coast, Nice can expect six hours of winter sunshine a day and the higher departments are not far behind, although there is a temperature difference with altitude and at night. Little wonder that with the quality of life on offer the coast pulls in most buyers with a large demand for holiday properties but the foothills have their own attractions with properties keenly sought for their extra size and lower prices. The Riviera has a vast range of different property styles from tiny flats to gigantic seafront villas and the higher departments offer the same variety but with a greater number of larger properties with ample grounds. However, many of the properties in the high country are poorly insulated as 66% of houses in Hautes-Alpes and 55% in Alpes-deHaute-Provence have poor energy performance ratings. Selling prices for properties reflect this with a mid-market price of €1,880/m² in Hautes-Alpes, €1,950/m² in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and €3,870/m² in Alpes-Maritimes. In the immediate area north of Nice – within about an hour of driving – detached houses or villas are selling well in the €450,000 to €500,000 range while on the coast prices are €550,000 to €600,000 for ordinary houses. In Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, however, houses average €270,000 and €320,000 in Hautes-Alpes. Ski stations are enjoying a bounce with people looking for year-round holidays. Snow this year was good but those in Hautes-Alpes and AlpesMaritimes benefit from year-round sun. Towns such as Auron, Ceillac en Queyras, Isola 2000, Pra-Loup and Vars have properties ranging from €2,500/m² to €3,000/m²,

What your money buys Under 200,000

Wooden 3 bedroom chalet just a stone’s throw away from the ski resort of La Moulière. Located in a calm and peaceful location with stunning views, garden, and private parking to the rear. A great location for summer and winter sporting activities.  145,000 Ref: 49547SJE06

Lovely 3 bedroom stone house with spectacular views in a calm and peaceful location. Sitting in the hills behind Nice with lots of character and set on a no through road, calm and tranquillity guaranteed! Plus there is a garden, terrace and BBQ area. 194,400 Ref: 80267SJE06

More than 390,000

A wonderful 3 bedroom house with garden, swimming pool, gîte and a lovely lake view. The property has direct access to tennis courts and woodland walks to the lake. In a tiny village in heart of Provence, close to the Lake of Sainte-Croix and the Verdon Gorge. 393,750 Ref: 81261GWI04

4 bed house on a 9200m2 plot, with 2 main houses linked by a covered veranda and swimming pool. Fully renovated house with outbuildings including a barn, cellars, stables and a car shed, with potential for a gîte or B&B. Right at the gates of the beautiful Méouge Canyon. 446,000 Ref: 82413BVA05

Properties available through Leggett Immobilier Tel: 05 53 56 62 54

Next month: We look at Poitou-Charentes

The Back Page

The Connexion May 2018

Unique Lot beach is full of dinosaur footprints There is a special beach in central France that is unlike any other anywhere in the world and it has revealed new information about life on Earth 150 million years ago. During the Jurassic period, sea covered much of what is now France. One of its shorelines was at Crayssac in the Lot, near Cahors. There was a tropical climate and the Earth was teeming with life, not just huge dinosaurs but also smaller reptiles including the flight-capable ‘winged lizard’ pterosaur. For the past 20 years palaeontologists have been revealing and studying thousands of their fossilised footprints captured in those muddy shores millions of years ago on what has been named the Plage aux Ptérosaures at Crayssac. The site, which has neither sand nor sea now, has recently been opened to the public for guided tours. Palaeontologist Jean-Michel Mazin whose interest in the subject means he continues to lead the research team despite being retired said: “It is a site of international importance because it shows how these creatures moved around and gives us a window on to their world. “For the first time we have understood that the pterosaurs did not move on land like a bird, on two feet, but also used the tips of their wings and so walked with four limbs touch-

Photo: Pierre Roller & Jean-Michel Mazin


A palaeontologist uncovers one of the 150million-year-old footprints

An artist’s impression of a pterosaur in Jurassic Lot ing the ground.” The biggest of them reached 10 or 12m, but the ones at Crayssac were similar to birds of today, from the size of a sparrow to that of a seagull. They shared the beach with crocodiles, turtles and small dinosaurs. Alexandre Itier, who manages the site, says it is a dream come true to work there: “There are thousands of footprints and we have discovered 40 different species. “The longest track is 20m long where a dinosaur was walking along the edge of the water. “We have found traces showing pterosaurs coming into land and even raindrops next to footprints showing that the animals were out in all

weathers. There is a layer 1.2 metres thick which covers around 10 hectares, so you can imagine all that there is to discover.” Mr Mazin says they have more than a century of work ahead: “We are keen to share our findings with the public. It is important that it becomes a tourist site because if a wide part of the population is interested in what we are doing, it will show politicians it is worth continuing our work and they will continue funding us.” The region has long been a wellknown area for fossil hunters, and the first footprints were found in, what was, a privately owned quarry 20 years ago by an amateur who alerted

the professionals. Virginie Seguin from Cahors Tourist Office says visitors come away amazed by what they see: “The visit takes place in the dark with spotlights used to show up the footprints. “Like most people when I first went I thought there was nothing much to see. Gradually, however, this whole world is revealed and the guides are real palaeontologists who are passionate about their work and explain the importance of what they are doing.” Plage aux Ptérosaures is open until November 4. Paying guided tours only (adults €8). Tel: 05 65 23 32 48. Visits last 90 minutes. In July and August there are tours in English.

Retired to France? Still using your UK based financial adviser? Talk to the people who know

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Profile for English Language Media Sarl

The Connexion 187 - May 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 187 - May 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper