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November 2018 Issue 193
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Exclusive interview: Former UK ambassador Lord Ricketts by OLIVER ROWLAND BritONS living in France are victims of Brexit, former UK ambassador Lord Ricketts has told Connexion, saying he strongly believes that leaving the EU is wrong. He spoke of the number of people facing lengthy delays to submit carte de séjour applications – a formality all British residents will have to do soon. Lord Ricketts, ambassador in Paris from 2012 to 2016, said France was not to blame. It is just “part of the unplanned damage of Brexit”. It comes as a British widow was served an order to leave after being refused a carte because she has relied on French benefits and is not self-sufficient. Self-employed people are also reporting problems if they cannot show they earn enough. A no-deal would be a “terrible outcome”, said Lord Ricketts, but if it happens he believes “settled, integrated Britons” would be protected because France will not want to “make life difficult for them”. He does not despair of a deal but urges Britons in France to clamour to the UK to
You must all clamour to the UK to protect pensions and healthcare
keep uprated pensions, exportable disability benefits and funded pensioners’ healthcare, which the UK has not prioritised. On November 6 France is debating a law giving the government powers to deal with the issues a no-deal would cause, including on Britons’ rights. It is reported to be planning a special website for Britons to apply for residency cards. è Full interview / Brexit updates Pages 4-5
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Income from speed radars to soar to €1bn INCOME from speeding fines in France has jumped 50% in three years, meaning the amount collected from camera penalties will exceed €1billion in 2019, official estimates show. The rise is due in part to the launch in July of the controversial 80kph speed limit cut (reduced from 90kph) on 400,000km of secondary roads. The €1bn is an increase of 50% in the amount brought in by fines compared to 2016 and does not include any extra charges imposed on unpaid fines. Officials insist that the new 80kph limit is intended to reduce the number of deaths with a target set of fewer than 2,000 road deaths by 2020. Figures for 2017 reveal 3,693 people were killed on French roads but this year’s July speed limit cut came in the middle of a four-month year-on-year dip in fatalities. Road deaths were down 15.5% in August (compared to August 2017) but rose 8.8% in September (compared to September 2017). The good weather bringing out more drivers is cited as a reason. Improving technology means automated cameras can now monitor vehicles’ speed on curved stretches of road. Nearly 500 motorists and 160 motorcyclists died in traffic collisions on bends in 2016, figures
from the l’Observatoire national de la sécurité routière (ONISR) show. It says the accidents are often caused by excessive or inappropriate speed. The Interior Ministry has announced an additional 248 autonomous radars will be deployed on winding roads, particularly in the mountains. These are in addition to the 3,275 fixed cameras in France, as well as mobile and temporary ones set up at roadworks. You can see the location of different types of cameras at the new government site: radars. securite-routiere.gouv.fr The increased number of cameras has not been well received by all, with a steep rise in vandalised cameras in the month the speed limit was cut. In addition, several mayors have now followed the lead of Jean-Bernard Dufourd, mayor of the Gironde village of Naujac-sur-Mer, who in May
Flood-zone building row after Aude deaths
QUESTIONS are being raised over the wisdom of building on flood-risk areas following the deadly floods in the Aude. Fourteen people died in October when flash floods caused by violent autumn storms devastated towns and villages around Carcassonne, leaving a trail of overturned cars, damaged roads and collapsed homes. In Trèbes, the river rose nearly 8 metres in a matter of hours, to reach its highest recorded point since 1891. But the weather phenomenon that caused the tragedy, known as “épisodes méditerranéens” or “orages cévenols”, is common. One of the properties flooded was a brand new multi-million-euro hospital that had been built in a flood zone. It was the latest in a series of
floods in recent years – the spring floods of 2016, and winter floods in early 2018, notably in and around Paris. Flooding accounts for some €533million worth of payouts every year. Official figures also reveal one in four French people (17 million) lives in an area prone to flooding, with 50% of all cities, towns and villages having builtup areas in flood-risk zones. Some areas are even more prone. In the Aude, 39% of residents live in flood-risk areas. Information of local flood risk can be found at the state site: www.georisques.gouv.fr An Interior Ministry spokesman suggested an initial first red alert about the Aude floods had come “too late”, and that orange alerts are used so frequently that people “no longer take notice” of them.
- but 61 departments on water alert DESPITE flooding in the southwest of France, water restrictions were in place in 61 departments – and more than half include ‘crise’ zones (the highest alert) – on October 21 as we went to press due to exceptionally low water levels. See the official site propluvia. developpement-durable.gouv.fr. Crise alert is defined as allowing only water for drinking, civil security and usage related to health. It comes as water levels in Lake Annecy in Haute Savoie had fallen to as low as 25cm in places and experts predict it could drop another 10cm before the situation improves.
issued a decree banning private companies from operating radar vehicles in the commune. Since then, six others including Lesparre (also Gironde) have followed suit, pre-empting a nationwide roll-out of private speed radar vehicle operators, which began operating in Normandy in April. Comparable figures in fine revenue from the UK, where it was confirmed last year that about half the country’s 2,838 fixed cameras were switched off, are only available from 2016 supposedly due to changes in the way the cash is collected. In 2016, a total of 1.97 million fixed penalty notices, bringing in an estimated £78.5m, were issued for speeding offences across England and Wales. This does not include temporary cameras which raise millions of pounds – one in roadworks in Kent raising nearly £300,000 in just four months this summer. Elsewhere, the French Ministry of Transport has published a report on the state of its most important road bridges. It reveals that 23 need repairs – and two (the Echinghen viaduct on the A16 near Boulogne, Pas-de-Calais and the Caronte viaduct on the A55 at Martigues, Bouches-du-Rhône) need very urgent work. Both very urgent ones are undergoing repairs.
First for France as wind turbine heads offshore WHILE there are more than 30 offshore windfarms in the UK, October saw the first sparks of French offshore electricity. France may be slow to join the sea-borne windfarm party but its first attempt is a cutting-edge one. The turbine, an hour off the coast of Le Croisic, Loire-Atlantique, is one of only eight in the world that is not permanently fixed but floats on a platform connected to the seabed by cables and anchors that can be moved whenever required. The floating platform eliminates depth restraints that mean fixed turbines can only operate in 40m of water. In another first – this time global – a farm of hydro turbines has been installed in the river Rhône near Lyon. The turbine farm will be operational by 2019 and over the next 18 years will produce one gigawatt-hour of renewable electricity per year, enough to provide all the electricity needs of 400 homes, and reduce CO2 emissions by 300 tonnes a year. The wind energy sector in France is growing rapidly. It currently employs more than 17,000 people and last year created four new jobs every day.
Hypnosis used for heart valve operation A PATIENT aged 88 has successfully had a heart operation under hypnosis instead of general anaesthetic, avoiding the risks and/or possible after-effects from drugs. Gérard Courtois underwent replacement of his aortic valve at the Lille CHU hospital while listening to a nurse trained in hypnotic techniques. She spoke in a soothing voice to get him to focus on “positive memories” of his travels. The hospital said this is ideal as it ensures the process is as harmless as possible, especially for such operations, which typically involve elderly people. The procedure did not involve open-heart surgery. Instead the two femoral arteries in the legs were opened and wires were inserted to the heart. Usually the patient is unconscious. Hypnosis is increasingly used in French hospitals – even for certain brain operations – but doctors say it is only suitable for procedures involving relatively moderate levels of pain and risk.
I found a GI brother - at 72! Most local tax bills
are lower but not all
by CLAIRE MCQUE A RETIRED American has told Connexion of the moving moment he and the French brother he never knew he had met for the first time – on Omaha Beach where their GI father landed on D-Day. The meeting came after a DNA test helped André Gantois, 72, end decades of searching since his mother told him as a child that his father was an US soldier. She died when he was 15 and he had wondered about his American family ever since. Allen Henderson, 64, a radio manager from South Carolina, said: “We stood on the beach with the dog tags that my father wore during the war. “To know that my father had come in during D-Day and fought through France and that we were standing at the same site... it was very emotional.” Mr Gantois, a retired postal worker, was born in Nancy and knew nothing about his father except that he had been an American soldier. He contacted the American embassy for information and his son and daughter-in-law trawled through military archives. But is was finally a DNA test with the Israeli website MyHeritage.com which revealed
Brothers André Gantois (left) and Allen Henderson a match – a brother in America. Their father Wilburn ‘Bill’ Henderson had met Mr Gantois’s mother when she was a member of the Resistance. Unaware she was pregnant, he returned the following year to the US where he later started a family. Mr Henderson said: “André had searched his whole life for his family. He said he would look in the mirror and ask ‘who do I look like?’, ‘where do I come from?’ “He had thought he would die never knowing who his father was. He was full of joy to find out. It was important for his
Regional tourism is now priority to stop overload TOURISM in France is set for another record year with the target of 90 million foreign visitors on course to be beaten but popular spots are now in danger of becoming overcrowded. In response the government wants to encourage tourists to opt for lesser-known destinations in the regions rather than Paris. Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne says Paris does not suffer yet from “excessive” numbers of tourists, as Venice and Barcelona do, but that it could happen if they do not plan ahead. Certain attractions are already under pressure. The Eiffel Tower has reached its limits in terms of numbers and the Louvre can no longer meet the demand for certain exhibitions. The Mont-SaintMichel in Normandy is also crowded at times. France is the world’s top tourist destination and is aiming for 100 million foreign tourists by 2020. This figure does not take into account French people who holiday within France. After a drop following the terrorist attacks in 2015, Paris in particular bounced back. It recorded a record 17.1 million hotel bookings in the first six months of this year. Americans were the most numerous foreign visitors, followed by British, Germans and Chinese. Meanwhile, holi-
day bookings in France for the end of the year are up, especially for Japanese and Italians (25% and 20%) and they are also up 10% for Indians, Chinese and Brazilians. Mr Lemoyne said however they do not just want “figures for the sake of figures”, and “sustainable tourism” is a new priority. Sources close to the government stressed to Connexion that no sites are currently considered to be saturated, however Paris, Versailles and the South-East in places such as Nice are in demand particularly as they are so well known abroad. The source said: “We want tourists to know that there are lots of other places where you can go to be near the sea, to enjoy heritage or go for walks, skiing etc. The regions need to do more to promote their territories and the state will be encouraging the local authorities. One way could also be creating new air links, with direct flights from foreign cities to our regional ones.” Bordeaux, Toulouse and Nantes are among those said to have expressed interest. Regions have been given a greater voice as several now have representatives on the board of Atout France, the state body which promotes France as a tourist destination.
‘Blablacar for flights’ A NEW French website is offering the flight equivalent of carpooling site blablacar.com - coavionnage. The start-up offers the chance to fly in a private plane at an affordable price. It aims to bring together those with pilot’s licences who want to reduce their costs and would-be passengers. Examples of prices on fr.wingly.io when we checked on October 12 included Paris - Marseille for €148 per passenger and Bordeaux - Ile d’Oléron for €62 each way. www.wingshare.fr and coavmi.com are similar.
family too.” The trip was Mr Henderson’s first to Europe and he hopes his brother will now travel to the US so he can show him the military cemetery in California where their father was buried in 1997, and Missouri, where ‘Bill’ grew up. Private DNA testing within France is tightly regulated with tests only being allowed with a court order for medical reasons. However, polls show most French people support legalising tests for genealogical. French bioethics laws are under revision and will be voted on next year.
MANY residents will have been pleased to see their annual taxe d’habitation bill drop this autumn – as promised by President Macron – but others have complained of increases. Social media posts talk of people being “taken for idiots” after taxpayers were faced with “paying more when the media keeps telling us it’s going down”. There are several reasons why some bills have gone up, despite promises of a 30% cut (to be followed by another in 2019 before full exemption) for most. Firstly, your bill might have risen slightly due to the annual revaluation of its calculation base, the theoretical rental value. Secondly, you might be one of an estimated 20% of households which earned too much in 2017 to benefit from the reduction. It applies only if your revenu fiscal de référence (shown on this year’s avis d’imposition) was less than €27,000 for a single person or €43,000 for a couple. It is also possible that some communes voted this year to remove certain optional tax reductions which can be applied across the board, or for those on low incomes or for people with disabilities. Finally, 5,680 communes
(about 15%) and 184 intercommunal bodies voted this year to put up the percentage rate that they apply to the ‘base’ value of your home, which in some cases was a steep enough hike to remove the benefit of the cut. The government promised to compensate local councils “to the euro” for any revenue lost from the tax reduction, but it has based its compensation payments on last year’s tax bills. That means any councils that increased bills this year will not get back all of the money they lost - because the cut for taxpayers (which does not apply to second homes) is 30% of this year’s bill. The plans to reduce – and ultimately axe – the tax, which is paid by people living in France on January 1 of the year, have been unpopular with mayors because it takes away part of their budget flexibility making them more dependent on central government grants instead. The Association des Mairies de France also said it was opposed to being put under a kind of “moral supervision” by the state after some tax bills were printed with notes clarifying that if the bill had gone up, it was due to the council raising the rates.
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Connexion spoke to Sir Peter Ricketts several times during his stint as ambassador to France (2012-2016). Now Lord Ricketts, he retains a keen interest in France and in Brexit, which seemed far off and unlikely when we met in 2013 and he said “if [we] ever did leave, there would be huge consequences in all sorts of areas, including for Britons abroad”. On leaving in 2016 he was optimistic that Prime Minister David Cameron could negotiate reforms to keep the UK in the EU, saying: “I don’t like the term Brexit because the idea is ‘non-Brexit’. We are working very hard with the French, who would much prefer we stay.” He spoke to Oliver Rowland on October 18, the day after an EU summit dinner which was previously meant to have been the deadline for a UK/EU exit agreement to be ready - but which left matters at an impasse with just a few weeks of negotiations left to fend off an exit with no deal.
LORD RICKETTS, speaking about the impasse in Brexit talks as a no-deal scenario seemed more possible than ever, said he was disappointed. “Overall the government were badly prepared and failed to get their act together. We’ve barely had a negotiation yet and have had no kind of plan to deal with Northern Ireland and no clear agreement about what the future relations would be due to divisions in the cabinet. “But I am not despairing and think we are more likely than not to reach a deal to get us into a transitional period so as to sort out the details during that, though I have every sympathy for Britons in France who are worried about the uncertainties. “A no-deal crash-out would be so bad for the UK, British citizens in Europe and all the EU countries that in the end
I think the rights of those who are settled and integrated will be protected in any scenario
I feel some settlement would be found but it may leave a lot of details very vague for the future.” Lord Ricketts said suggestions raised recently that the transition period could be extended beyond 2020 were useful. A great deal remained to be agreed, including the future trading relationship and police and anti-terror cooperation, he said. “It’s controversial in British politics but if it’s two or two and a half years to sort out all the details, that’s better. “It will make a smooth transition more likely and avoid huge difficulties and disruption to daily lives and supply chains and transport links.” He added that if the deal goes ahead he believes rights of Britons should be preserved, apart from those needing free movement to other EU states. However, problems would arise for those wanting to move in the future. “If we [the UK] decide not to give any privileges to EU citizens, EU countries won’t give any to British people. There we are in the unknown.” If there is no deal, Britons would be left dependent on the decisions of the countries where they live – France has said this may depend on how the UK acts towards the French. “That’s one of a million reasons why a no-deal would be a terrible outcome, because it would throw out the agreement reached to protect the rights of
Photo: Kalba Meadows of RIFT remaininfrance.org
No-deal would be ‘terrible’ – former ambassador
Britons from France join London march AROUND 500 British people in the EU and European citizens in the UK marched together representing “The Five Million” in the London People’s Vote march. They included 200 from Remain In France Together (RIFT) – and 1,000 other members asked to have their names on banners in support. RIFT campaigner Kalba Meadows said: “It was an extraordinary and uplifting day.” She said RIFT and other British in Europe groups will be back on November 5 for The Last Mile event (britishineurope.org/thelastmile). “We will deliver a letter to Downing Street to demand our rights be ringfenced and the withdrawal agreement strengthened to cover all our rights. We will follow that with a mass lobby of Parliament. The fight goes on,” she said. British in Europe spokeswoman Laura Shields said it is now clear that any Brexit, “whether a botched deal or, worse, no deal”, would be “very damaging, if not catastrophic” for Britons in the EU, which is “why it is essential we have a People’s Vote”. Campaigners are calling for Britons abroad to be allowed to vote if there is another referendum. If you can no longer vote, you can write to your last UK MP demanding your vote back (peoples-vote.uk/write_this_wrong), she said. “The key thing is to say that an option to remain must be included.” those already there. But my feeling is even if it happened the two sides would still say ‘we need French citizens here’ and ‘the British make a big contribution in France and we’re not going to tear up their rights and expel them all or make life difficult for them’. “I can’t promise it and there are unknowns but I think the rights of those who are settled and integrated –
will be protected in all scenarios. It’s other categories – like new arrivals – where the problems would be.” Asked to comment about the administrative difficulties Britons face in proving legal residency status, he said: “The French just haven’t had the structures. Up to now no one has been going for a carte de séjour because it wasn’t necessary, and suddenly tens of
Widow on benefits told to leave
A British widow has moved back to the UK after being ordered to leave France within 30 days. She had been living on French benefits so was not self-sufficient and was unable to prove her rights for a carte de séjour. The woman and her husband, who died in July, had lived in France for more than 15 years and applied for a carte from a prefecture in the south. Their main incomes were from French disability benefits and, in her husband’s case, the pension top-up benefit Aspa. The couple could not show sufficient income so as not to be a burden on the state. This applies in the first five years of residency as an EU citizen if EU laws are strictly applied. For those not working, France applies the levels of the RSA benefit to under-65s (€550 for a single childless person) and Aspa for older people (€833 for a single person, €1,294 for a couple). The woman, 59, appealed to the prefecture but was rejected and says she cannot face bringing court action. She said: “I have nowhere really to go. I would have fought to stay if my husband were still alive but for now I don’t have the heart for it.” Chairman of the British Community Committee (BCC) of France Christopher Chantrey said: “Our fear is there could be other cases, especially with the fall in the pound.” He said the Interior Ministry downplayed the possibility of expulsions at a recent meeting, saying it wanted to treat Britons well. He
added that it also raises issues of access to UK housing and healthcare. Connexion notes that this is the only confirmed case we know of and it involves residents whose main income was from benefits. In all cases, to minimise problems, we advise readers to ensure they are fully in the system of French healthcare and tax. Mr Chantrey said a no-deal scenario would be especially bad as the negotiated agreement to protect most of the rights of those who can show stable, legal residency, would be thrown into uncertainty. “All treaty rights – including S1s for healthcare – stop, unless there’s a unilateral move by the UK to continue to pay healthcare rights.” On November 6 a French draft law will be debated with the aim of empowering France to act by decree to deal with problems a no-deal would create, including the possibility of charging Britons for prestations (eg. pensioners’ healthcare) that currently receive UK funding if that stops. It says they will look at how the French in the UK are treated when it comes to rights of Britons in France. UK PM Theresa May last month repeated a commitment to protect the rights of EU nationals in a no-deal. Mr Chantrey said he was angered that some UK media had sought to blame France for the potential effects of a no-deal – such as Britons becoming illegal residents or losing the right to work – as they were
direct, predictable effects under EU law. He said officials were planning a new website for Britons to apply for residency cards after Brexit. In the case of a deal, these would be a new kind, possibly saying Britannique. “However, there is a new Interior Minister and civil servants have to persuade a new team to adopt previous ideas,” he said. “They intend you would give details online and the prefecture would invite you to come in only if necessary, or ask for additional documents, or contact you to get the card. “I think they would want something similar if no deal but there would be more unknowns.” The plan is that those who already have an EU residency card would be able to keep it for some time and then make a simple exchange – this is why it is advised to apply now. Some prefectures are processing applications well but the picture varies greatly. Another campaign group source said the ministry has again reminded all prefectures which documents are required after many reports of surplus requests. The ministry has also given assurances that Britons should no longer be turned down by prefectures, such as Bordeaux, as they “do not need cards”. Prefectures with long delays for appointments – Niort was issuing dates in 2020 – are introducing new systems to improve this. To avoid wasting time, officials ask you only take required documents (see tinyurl. com/ycfdp49d).
thousands are applying. It’s the same in the UK with the Home Office snowed under with applications for ‘settled status.’ The systems are overwhelmed by people trying to shore up their status – which is understandable. “This is just part of the unplanned damage that Brexit is doing. I deeply feel Brexit was the wrong thing to do and British citizens in France are one of the victims. “The French are not trying to be difficult and I sympathise with people in that plight and while I think in practice those already in France will be looked after, I understand why they want the best documents and proof of their residence and status. “This is one of the many uncertainties Brexit has thrown up and one reason it is better to have a deal. “I hope in the next few weeks somehow a way can be found to square the circle on things like Northern Ireland so we can come out with a deal and a longish transition period.” Asked why the UK has not released a ‘no-deal’ planning paper on expatriates’ rights, such as pension uprating, UK payments for pensioners’ healthcare (S1s) and the right to export disability benefits, he said: “I don’t know, but it could be they are just snowed under by all the technicalities a no-deal would throw up. “There are so many issues to be thought about and British people abroad are, I’m sure, on the list somewhere but clearly not at the top. “I think British people should be raising it with every channel they can to make sure the government are focusing on it. “Whenever I get the chance in the House of Lords, I will speak up for the rights of the British in Europe and remind the government but I’m only one small voice. Everyone’s got to keep clamouring for their cases to be thought about to make sure the government keeps them on their radar screen.”
Carte was refused due to low income
A READER from north west France who runs a gardening business as a micro-entrepreneur has been refused a carte de séjour because her income is too low. She asked to remain anonymous but told Connexion her income was reduced in recent years due to illness and she has survived on money from a charity. She now faces two problems: refusal on grounds of her low, irregular income, plus the fact that France does not treat financial help from charities as “real and stable” income for residency (more positively, such income is also not taxed and does not count against the right to benefits). She said: “I’ve enough in the bank but because France thinks charity money is a gift and not guaranteed, I fall short.” She claims officials are “making up rules as they go along” on what income is acceptable and is appealing, giving proof that her income is now higher.
If that fails she plans to apply to ec.europa.eu/solvit. She said she knows of Britons who are afraid of being told to leave France if they are turned down for cards. An expert from the Interior Ministry’s immigration section said there is no specific minimum income but prefectures must check if income of the self-employed is “regular, real, and lasting”. He said people may be asked to show, for example, registration with the chamber of commerce or trade, a social security body for the selfemployed, insurance, a professional lease, purchase invoices, sales or services contracts, turnover declarations or accounts books – whichever of these is most appropriate for the business type. Christopher Chantrey, of the charity British Community Committee, said some prefectures have used the level of France’s RSA income support benefit as a minimum requirement but that this is not the correct method.
More updates CAMPAIGNERS for Britons in France report that new S1 health forms include an end date at the expected date of Brexit, March 29, 2019. They suggest those who are covered under an S1 print off attestations of their rights from their spaces at ameli.fr as they said these currently show rights continuing after this (unless your S1 is up for annual renewal before then). FRENCH barrister Julien Fouchet has launched a movement called Pan European Citizens Solidarity (PECS) calling on all EU citizens, including Britons “to rise against Brexit”. Attendees at the London launch meeting included academics and UK and European politicians. He said: “Now is the time to act, before it is too late. It is our duty as European citizens to protect our British friends, our brothers and sisters who want to remain in the EU family. “We must protect Europe as a democratic, peaceful force in the world.” People can support it on Twitter at EU27Voices4remainUK (@EU27k) Mr Fouchet is also leading a legal bid on behalf of Britons in the EU, including rights campaigner Harry Shindler, 97, arguing that the Brexit negotiations are illegal because of the exclusion of many of long-term expatriates from the referendum vote. He is still awaiting a decision from the EU’s General Court. He has now launched a new challenge based on the fact that Britons in a French commune have been excluded from registering to vote in EU elections next year.
Photo: Audrey Dufer
Romantic novel about Brexit A Frenchwoman who lectures in education at York University and writes novels in her spare time has turned Brexit into a romantic comedy. Brexit Romance was inspired by Clémentine Beauvais’ friends, many of whom are continental/British couples. She said: “We were joking that it’s time to get married so the British ones can keep European citizenship. I think a few did get married who hadn’t intended to before.” The book features an eclectic cast, from a 17-year-old French opera singer and her communist singing teacher to a handsome young lord, and tells of a student who sets up an app business, organising marriages of convenience. When asked if she would marry a Briton to help him keep EU nationality, Dr Beauvais, 29, said: “No, I’m a marriage sceptic but if there was one good reason for it, it would be residency.” The book does not go into the technicalities of marriage and residency law but it explores issues of “what it means for young people in Britain to be stripped of a part of their identity” and tries to understand why some voted for it. “Many people expressed outrage about the vote, but I felt a lot of class judgment was passed. A novel lets you explore different views without giving credit to any one in particular – Europhile Londoners, anti-austerity people in Doncaster, rightwing Ukippers… I gave an overview.” Dr Beauvais moved from Paris to Britain 12 years ago and says she loves York, particularly its “tiny size”, which she prefers to big city life. She was surprised by Brexit but not as shocked as London friends because she had spoken to locals who planned to vote Leave. “I thought we should have seen it coming more than we did.” She said one problem was that many
Clémentine Beauvais and her novel people did not even vote “because they didn’t care that much”. “After the vote, I and my colleagues were mortified but some students seemed indifferent and asked ‘Oh, is it going to be a problem for you then? Will it change something?’. They didn’t mean anything bad, but hadn’t voted because they didn’t feel it affected them.” She thinks it is partly explained by the the fact that in France you often see EU flags on buildings and plaques about THE ECJ is to hear on November 27 a case originally launched in the Scottish courts which seeks to find out if the UK may call off article 50 unilaterally and stay in the EU unconditionally. This could be important in the case of any decision to stay after a ‘People’s Vote’. The legal team behind it hopes for a decision this year. THE BRITISH embassy has changed the contact method to get in touch about problems with carte de séjour application procedures at prefectures. Instead of the email address previously given, people should now use the online form: https://tinyurl.com/y7apmqo9 READER and dog lover Anna Thompson, who lives in the UK, wrote to say her friends and local dog clubs “are in shock” over UK government no-deal contingency guidance on pet travel. It said owners wanting to take pets to the EU may have to discuss preparations with an official vet at least four months before travel if the UK is an ‘unlisted’ third country when it leaves. “Anyone who has a dog is going to have major issues if there is no deal,” she said. This would put many off coming to France with their pets, she said, as requirements risk being much more complex than the current simple ones related to an EU pet passport. In other recent ‘no-deal’ contingency papers the UK said: n British drivers would need an international certificate of insurance from insurance providers (unless the EU and UK agreed to waive this before Brexit day). This may involve a small extra fee from the insurer. Drivers from the EU would require the same to travel in the UK.
Brexit News 5
funding help, so you understand benefits of EU membership, and you are taught in school that you are a French and an EU citizen - unlike in the UK. Dr Beauvais said the book – which she hopes will be translated into English – is doing well. “For French people it’s a funny subject because they’re not directly affected. They see Britain as an odd place anyway, full of crazy people, which makes wacky decisions. “But having lived here so long, one reason I was surprised by Brexit is because I don’t see it as somewhere that takes irrational decisions quickly and intensely and to me there was an aspect of tragedy, not just comedy, which most French people don’t get. “I got a poignant email from a British reader who cried at the end because the subject was so emotionally loaded. It’s a safer read for a French audience.” Dr Beauvais said attitudes of the French in the UK show a divide between those with a more expat mentality and those who are integrated, and between London and the regions. Many in the capital live in a French bubble and their reaction to Brexit is “utter incomprehension”, but the French in the provinces are more ambivalent. Dr Beauvais is applying for British citizenship because she has just met the conditions. “I wanted it as soon as I could because it was symbolically important to me. But when Brexit happened I didn’t like the idea that now I ‘had’ to do it, plus the fact the country had just done that. But I also want to be able to vote.” She said her identity is now “absolutely dual” and she has no intention of moving back. “Many times people have said ‘Do you not want to go home?’. But I am home. Home is here.”
n EU-licensed airlines would no longer be able to operate internal UK services and UK airlines could not operate ones inside the EU (eg. Nice to Paris). UK and EU-licensed airlines would lose an automatic right to operate services between the UK and EU and would need to seek individual permissions. The UK said it would give this to EU firms and hoped the EU would do the same. The paper said: “It would not be in the interest of any EU country or the UK to restrict the choice of destinations that could be served, though, if such permissions are not granted, there could be disruption to some flights.” The UK said it would seek a new multilateral agreement between the UK and the EU states, or bilateral ones with individual countries if that is not possible. For non-EU and non-UK airlines, the UK says it is putting in place arrangements with 17 countries which currently only have the right to fly to the UK due to its EU membership. The UK said it would retain EU passenger rights laws with regard to air passengers on flights leaving the UK. n The government advised people booking international train journeys such as with Eurostar to book flexible tickets with “insurance and ticket terms and conditions... sufficient to cover possible disruption” instead of the cheap fixed ones. The UK would need to make bilateral deals to keep trains running. n The UK would leave an agreement allowing coach operators to run occasional and regular services in other EU countries. If the UK rejoins as a third country this would apply to coach holidays and tours, not regular services. For more updates see Brexit section of connexionfrance.com
Britons are calling out to us – we must help them, insists senator A SENATOR representing French people abroad has spoken out for Britons in France at a parliamentary debate. Olivier Cadic, pictured right, sits on the French Senate’s Brexit commission and helped launch the3million, the campaign group that protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK. He told senators that Brexit had a major impact on those EU citizens – and on Britons in the EU, many of whom could not vote. “I’m not speaking about tomatoes, saucepans or vehicles, but children, women and men. They’re calling out to us,” he said. He asked Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau if she will ringfence the rights of Britons agreed so far in the negotiations, so they are protected in a “no deal”. She replied that they would make sure the “fate of the British is comparable to what we planned in the deal, as long as measures taken by the UK for our citizens are on the same footing”. France has 11 dedicated MPs and 12 senators to represent its expatriates throughout the world. The UK does not have any. Mr Cadic, who lives in Kent, said he believes the rights of the French in the UK and the British in France will be respected if there is no deal but disagrees with waiting to see what the UK does. He told Connexion: “If I was the president, I would say I can’t accept that people are left in this situation, so we must separate and guarantee their rights. It would be to our credit. “I proposed this to our Brexit commission, who accepted it. “I know it’s complicated and everyone’s nerves are frayed; I understand the politics. But if the British in France were reassured, that would be something at least. “People say ‘but what if it’s not reciprocated?’ but I say, no. If the British government behaved badly to the French citizens, that’s their business. It would be to their discredit, and that’s that.” Mr Cadic said he is aware of difficulties some people are experiencing with carte de séjour
applications and he worries for them all, but especially the elderly. He said he will raise the need for simple formalities when a no-deal bill is debated in the Senate this month. The bill spells out the need for measures to help the British who would otherwise technically become illegal residents because they lack non-EU citizen visas, residency cards and permissions to work. It also refers to the need to respect British qualifications obtained by French people abroad, and periods spent paying into a British pension by returning French expatriates. From the start, Mr Cadic saw the Northern Ireland border issue as insurmountable and he sees no solution other than reunification with Ireland. He said: “At this stage the only hope is that the British give up on Brexit because it’s in the country’s greater interest to stay in the EU. There’s nothing better.” He pointed out that Theresa May was once a Remainer and is losing political credibility by maintaining that the only option is to leave. “In politics you should commit to your ideas, you can’t do the opposite,” he said. “If she doesn’t believe in it, she must show the public that it’s not a good idea. “She should come back from Brussels and say ‘I’ve done my best but it’s not working. We’ll only lose out if we carry on. If necessary, we will hold another election and I will stand on a platform of Remain’.”
‘Don’t block lifetime votes’ SECOND world war veteran and campaigner for the rights of Britons in the EU Harry Shindler made a plea to the British Labour Party not to try to hold up the progress of a bill enfranchising all expatriates. He said that as the party’s longest-serving member he was ashamed that Labour members recently tried to stop the bill at a ‘money bill’ stage [a formality to ensure measures in a bill can be budgeted for]. He said voting for all expatriates, promised in the last two Conservative manifestos, was a “not a political issue” but an “elementary right”. On going to press the bill was under discussion by a committee of MPs, after an eight-month delay since it had a second reading debate in the House of Commons. The government had decided to support a private member’s bill on the topic rather than introduce its own, however such bills have limited opportunities for debate. It is not expected to finish all stages in time for any new referendum or snap election. British Community Committee of France chairman Christopher Chantrey said: “The ‘upskirting’ bill [penalising people who take indecent photographs of women] was originally a Private Member’s bill but Theresa May very soon backed it and it got real government support. That is what she should be doing to the Votes for Life Bill.”
News in brief
MPs want law change on gay blood donors MPs are looking at changing the law on giving blood to align the rules for gay and bi people with those for straight people. Heterosexuals must not have had sex that put them at increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases in the last four months (more than one partner, unprotected sex with a new partner, sex with someone with an STD or who had unprotected sex with someone else or whose sexual behaviour is unknown to you). Homo sexuals must declare they have not had sex for a year. The proposal has support but still needs to go for a full vote. Campaign group SOS Homo phobie said it would end a “stigmatisation” of those who have same-sex relations and that it should be behaviour – not orientation – that matters.
Recruitment drive for volunteer pompiers THE GOVERNMENT hopes to boost recruitment of volunteer pompiers with measures including better pensions and social
protection and a message that it can suit many kinds of people, not just “supermen”. They want to promote the jeunes sapeurs-pompiers, for 11-18-year-olds, and to encourage people to opt for the pompiers for the future universal national service. There are also plans to better protect firefighters by more deployment of police and gendarmes to back them up where necessary.
Best spring ever for ‘Macron coaches’ PASSENGERS travelling on long-distance coaches across France rose by 43% this spring compared to last year, figures for 2018’s second quarter show. The regular train strikes in the period are thought to be the reason why 2.4million people took “Macron coaches” (Flixbus, Ouibus, Isilines) so-called from a 2015 law on ways to boost the economy, including opening up the coach market, when Emmanuel Macron was economy minister. The coach companies saw profits rise by 40% in the best quarter for the sector since the 2015 changes.
Brittany wants ‘Euroregion’ link with Wales and Ireland
BRITTANY and Wales share Celtic cultural roots and have been creating closer links recently. The region’s vice president in charge of international affairs FOROUGH SALAMI-DADKHAH told Oliver Rowland they hope to build on this by forming a “Euroregion” between the two - and also now with Ireland. On a visit to Brittany earlier this year, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said he was in favour of the plan and Brexit has reinforced his wish for close cooperation. The links between Brittany and Wales are very ancient... There are special links between our territories – historic ones, due to our origins and culture. We share the same national anthem [the tune and similar meanings], called in Breton Bro gozh ma Zadoù [Old land of my fathers]. When there is a France/Wales rugby match, Bretons are moved because it’s their anthem – so they’re happy whichever side wins. There are also around 40 Breton communes twinned with Welsh towns. So, in 2005 we signed an institutional partnership agreement and we identified areas to work together, on culture, on school exchanges, on the environment. Every few years we add new projects – for example, last time it was renewable marine energies. We organise meet-ups between Breton and Welsh businesspeople and researchers. We act as a coordinator and assist, just as in the cultural sphere we help Welsh artists and bring them together with Breton partners. We make things easier, we support, and speed things up. For example, this summer the Welsh had a stand at a Breton business event and in October a Welsh delegation was invited to a marine energies event. Each time we have suitable events we invite the Welsh and help them get to know the right people. Does marine energy refer to wave power? Yes, in the port of Brest the region has made major investments to create infrastructure so companies can set up. And we try to make sure that the Welsh are aware and can invest. Whatever the sector, we make sure the Bretons and Welsh can talk and do business. The Interceltic Festival of Lorient is an annual highpoint - this year you had the Welsh First Minister there... Last year in January we organised a European convention in Rennes which we invited him to
and we asked the Orchestra of Brittany to play Bro gozh for the Welsh. At the same time we met the director of the festival – and we thought it would be great if Wales could be the festival’s “country of honour”. They agreed and it happened this year [August] and was a big success. So you already do a lot but the Euroregion idea would build on that further? It started in 2015. I said we have plenty of links already, why not create a Euroregion? This is something that’s clearly defined by EU laws – regions with common borders can create projects together and the regional authorities can discuss them together and both allocate money towards them. The member states must agree. For example, France must allow it. It’s already happened with Occitanie and a
then bring in Wales? The legalities of a Euroregion are rather precise, so whether it will technically be a Euroregion in the end or not, I can’t say for sure, but in the first instance we are looking to create a strong partnership with Ireland, as we have with Wales. Wales already has a partnership with Ireland, so then we can look to do things together, the three of us. Our legal services will work on the technicalities. What complicates things is we don’t know what kind of Brexit we’re going to get. What kinds of things would you want to do? It might involve culture or research, for example. But we’ve just started to look at this question of what projects we can do, as a group of three. The will is there, but at the moment it’s just at a discussion stage.
Contrary to what is happening internationally, here there is a lot of will to reinforce links
Forough Salami-Dadkhah Brittany vice president Spanish region with regard to building a hospital. I proposed it with Wales as the Channel can be considered, legallyspeaking, a common border. I thought it could be a strong symbol and especially interesting because Britain didn’t have any Euroregions, but Wales would have to get permission from the UK government. Wales said it would look into it but it wasn’t top priority at the time – then Brexit came along and the project seemed to move into the distance, as you need to be EU member states. Can it not work with a state that is at least in the Council of Europe [which has 47 members and is separate from the EU]? The main agreement must be between EU states, then you can bring in other regions. The Brexit vote was traumatic to our partners in Wales and after it they asked about our proposal again, to find out how we could work together. We said to ourselves, why not do something with Ireland and
Might marine co-operation be part of it? It’s a key subject for us. Due to Brexit there’s the question of the maritime corridors and borders between Ireland and the EU. It will be a very important battle for Brittany. The EU, for the moment, is suggesting that the links should be via the big ports like Rotterdam and does not take account of French ports like Cherbourg, Saint-Malo, Brest… If we are not in the corridor, it’s also a problem for our Euro region plan. If we are outside it, we would not be considered to have a border with Ireland. It’s also a question of economic interests and not ending up even more on the periphery than we are now. We will try to meet with the Irish to seek their support over this. Do you feel Brexit in general is going to cause problems? Yes, we were very sad about it, for the future of Europe. As for Brittany, the day after the vote we applied to the Conseil économique, social et environ-
nemental de Bretagne [independent consultative body] to measure the impact on our region. We identified four fields: firstly, fishing. Some of our fleets have 80% of their fishing in British zones, which poses a big problem for them. Secondly, in research and higher education our number one partners are the British. Our British friends are also very good at lobbying when we have joint projects – good at finding financing. Thirdly, there is an economic impact due to the fact we export a lot of agricultural products to the UK and with the value of the pound having fallen, and if there are import tariffs, this causes problems. On the other hand, countries like India or Australia that implanted themselves in the UK as an entry to the EU are looking for new openings. We’ve reinforced our links with Australia since the Brexit vote; they are coming to us to find out about opportunities. Finally, there is tourism and the British residents in France, many of whom are retired. When they see their money is weaker, they may have financial difficulties to continue to live here, in some cases. We met with British citizens in Brittany immediately after the vote and involved them in our study. All we hope is that the exit will be as gentle and light as possible and that, for Brittany, for the British residents here, and for Europe, things will go as painlessly as possible. Presumably it is more important than ever to maintain the friendship with Wales in such a context? Yes, and we will do as much as we can. We have also supported the department of Finistère, which is reinforcing its relationship with Cornwall. Contrary to what is happening internationally with Brexit, here in our territory there’s a lot of will to reinforce our links. Is that also because they share the Celtic heritage? I think that’s part of it. They have long-standing links and already do a lot of school exchanges and have plenty of economic links. However in October at Roscoff there was an event organised by the Morlaix Communauté intercommunal body where local and departmental councillors met with Cornish representatives on board Brittany Ferries’ ship Pont-Aven to put in place a formal partnership which will be even stronger than before. [the project is – coincidentally – called Brittany Connexion].
‘Montessori’ state schools
MONTESSORI teaching methods - said to nurture a child’s individuality and creativity - are increasingly being used in state schools. They are mostly limited to maternelle, but more teachers are experimenting with the methods, including providing physical learning materials and freedom to choose activities. So far there is no entirely Montessori state school – unlike some 200 expensive private hors contrat schools and a few sous contrat (subsidised) ones. However, some teachers are opting to follow courses in the methods and investing in special teaching materials. Association Public Montessori (public-montessori.fr), which fosters this, now has more than 1,000 members and has established support groups around the country where people can exchange ideas. It offers to loan materials, which can cost €10,000 per class. In France there is only the Institut Supérieur Maria Mon tessori in Val-de-Marne that offers a training approved by the Association Montessori International, the body founded by Maria Montessori, an Italian educational theorist who died in 1952.
Buffalo mozzarella in Brittany Loss of rural GP
‘puts lives at risk’
Farmer Marisa Thomas with one of her bufflonnes A GOAT farmer has spent seven years perfecting Brittany’s first buffalo mozzarella. Marisa Thomas from Chèvrerie de la Baie in Tréguennec now has 35 female buffaloes (bufflonnes) as well as her goats, which include rare breed animals called chèvre des fossés. She has called her cheese Mozza Breizh. She said: “The idea came to me bit by bit because customers asked for it. I did a little course but making it is far easier said than done. “Seven years later and without going to Italy and after lots of failed batches, and getting to know the milk of my buffaloes, I’ve found the right technique.” Buffalo milk is the traditional ingredient for mozzarella, although cheaper versions are found
outside Italy made from cows’ milk. She uses 55 litres of milk a day to make 10 kilos of cheese and has now bought a farm in Concarneau so she can expand. Later she plans to try making camembert and a burrata and she wants to open a shop at the farm early next year (for more information see chevrerie-delabaie.com). Surprisingly, despite centuries of cattle farming Brittany is not known for cheese and, like neighbouring Pays-de-la-Loire, boasts no prestigious AOP brands. However, it does have some quirky varieties such as tome de la mer, made with three seaweeds, perle noire - black, with squid ink - a green one with spirulina le galet céladon, and le menhir, a little grey knobbly cheese that looks like a standing stone.
A DORDOGNE resident has lodged a complaint against the local prefect after his 94-yearold mother’s doctor retired and has not been replaced. Francis Beausoleil says the state is “putting lives in danger” and “stopping equality of access to care for the vulnerable.” The other doctor in Sigoulès cannot take new patients. Mr Beausoleil says it is affecting elderly people’s ability to stay in their own homes. “We’re being fobbed off with measures that will only have an effect in 2023-2024,” he said, adding that there is no national doctor shortage and that the state should do more to ensure doctors are better spread out. The issue of “medical deserts”
is a perennial problem and the recent launch of telemedicine – where internet-based GP sessions are now reimbursed – is aimed at helping. Dr Jean-Paul Hamon, president of the private practice doctors’ body FMF, said it was the first time he had heard of a complaint against a prefecture. He said the problems are due to 25 years of poor decisions by ministers. He added that 11,000 doctors are working on after retirement age and 90% of rural sole practitioners will not be replaced, so people cannot expect a doctor in every village. It helps if several work together to serve a wider area. Nearby Saussignac mairie said there are plans for such a clinic in Sigoulès.
Cutback on medicine brands
PATIENTS who refuse a generic medicine in place of a branded one from January 2020 will only be reimbursed based on the price of the generic, according to next year’s social security budget bill. The rule will apply unless there is a medical justification for it to be waived, for example, if the generic contains an ingredient to which the patient is allergic. Generics cost 40% less on average and the government says money saved can be put to better use, such as for buying innovative medicines to treat childhood cancers. Currently, the only penalty for refusing a generic is you must pay upfront for it and thus do not obtain le tiers payant.
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Country life ‘ideal’ but...
ONE in four French people (81%) think country living is the “ideal life”, a new survey shows. This is despite 46% saying the top factor they link to it is “socio-economic difficulties”. Those who actually live in the country cited “quality of life” and only 5% wanted to move. All agreed that rural-dwellers were the most “abandoned” for public services. With the lack of jobs and transport, this puts many off moving to the country. The poll of 1,000-plus people, run by the association Familles Rurales, says more use of technology for teleworking and telemedicine could help.
Tasty ‘chicken’ is meat-free
MEAT-eaters across France are being challenged to try a new “chicken” product that has been developed by a fictitious company and contains no meat. With 800 million chickens a year killed for meat in France, animal rights group L214 is running tastings to disprove the belief that meat-free food is “tasteless”. The first was in Lille and many thought it was meat.
‘Made in France’ costs more but boosts sales “MADE in France” is no longer just a political slogan – it is now an important marketing boost for businesses and more and more firms are using it. Customers are saying the higher prices charged are worth it for the better quality and perceived boost to the economy. Fabienne Delahaye, president of the annual Made in France (MIF) trade show, said: “People who buy items labelled ‘MIF’ realise that, although a supermarket ticket says you can buy three pairs of pants made in Bangladesh for €7, the real price is much higher. “People know there is an environmental, human and employment cost when you buy something so cheaply which has come from the other side of the world.” This is reflected in the annual MIF trade show, which takes place in Paris’s Porte de Versailles exhibition centre this month (November 10 and 12). The show started in 2012 with 85 companies and 15,000 visitors but this year boasts 450 companies selling goods to an expected 60,000 people. The “poster child” of the “Made in France” movement remains Le Slip Français, the men’s underpants line made
Pyrénées could become a local climate refuge TEMPERATURES in the Pyrénées could rise more than 7C by the end of the century, according to new predictions published by climate scientists. In a worst-case scenario the cross-border research project revealed temperatures would increase by between 4.3C and 7.1C. In the best-case scenario – even if ambitious global targets set by the Paris Accord are met – they will rise by 1.6 - 3.5C Samuel Morin, director of the Centre d’Etudes de la Neige and a member of the research team, told Connexion: “We cannot predict how humanity will change its greenhouse gas emissions in the 21st century. “So we looked at so-called ‘optimistic’ scenarios, of massive reductions in emissions, which limit global warming to
around 2C by the end of the century, compared to the pre-industrial period in the 19th century, and more ‘pessimistic’ or ‘realistic’ scenarios. “The increase in temperature will have direct or indirect consequences for multiple sectors and ecosystems. “Now work needs to be continued to better measure the impacts.” He added: “Even with a sharp increase, air temperature will generally remain below that of the plain, and mountains could play a role as a climatic refuge for those who live in surrounding plains. “This is already been observed in the case of heatwaves, with an increase in the number of nights that people spend in the mountains.”
Quotas set for Mont Blanc THE NUMBER of climbers scaling Mont Blanc next year will be subject to strict quotas in an attempt to cut deaths and trouble on the 4,810m peak. Starting from the summer of 2019, a daily maximum of 214 climbers will be allowed to tackle the Royal Route. It was decided after a meeting between mountain police, the French mountaineering federation and guide associations. Those who try to make the climb without a permit face fines of €135. The decision is a step up from rules in place this
climbing season, in which police began requiring aspiring climbers to have a reservation booked at one of the refuges on the route. Sixteen climbers died while attempting to scale Mont Blanc this summer, with the hot weather increasing the risk of avalanches and rockfalls as glaciers melted. Officials said the number of climbers has led to tensions on the route, with some unprepared for the climb, or unfamiliar with how to behave on a mountain.
The Made in France label is increasingly being regarded as a mark of quality, but France is way behind Germany when it comes to this type of marketing model completely with French-made material in French factories. Pants sell for €29 each, or €100 for a pack of four. T-shirts are also expensive: the cheapest men’s short-sleeve cotton ones on the site cost €65. Ms Delahaye told Connexion that businesses selling MIF goods were entitled to charge high prices for quality goods. “Marketing also is expensive but entirely justified,” she said. “When someone buys German, they think they are getting quality because the Germans have marketed that way for years – even though experience shows it is not always the case. France needs to catch up. “After all, when people buy designer jeans made in Vietnam for €150, they are not paying for quality but because they have
been seduced by marketing.” One of the first companies to benefit from government backing of the MIF label was the Japanese carmaker Toyota. In 1998 it opened a giant factory near Valenciennes, where it makes the super-mini Yaris, the first car to get the official Origine France Garantie label. Toyota spokeswoman Magalie Delforterie said: “We have to prove every year that at least 50% of the value of the car comes directly from France. “The steel rolls which come in at the start of the production line are made locally in France and we make our own parts like bumpers and dashboards. “It is important to us as it shows how closely we are integrated into the local economy.” A study commissioned from the research organisation IFOP
by the MIF Expo and Crédit Agricole bank in 2016 found that 70% of people were in favour of buying products with a MIF label instead of similar products made elsewhere. They said they believed in the higher quality associated with the label and also wanted to boost the economy. When cost was added to the equation, 65% admitted that they looked at the price of MIF goods before deciding whether to purchase or not. The study also showed that 69% of people who said they wanted to buy Made in France products were already doing so without realising it. This was especially true with food and household goods, where prices for locally made items were often the same or lower than imported ones.
News 9 Anger as plan to increase paternity leave is put on hold EQUALITY campaigners have condemned moves to delay extending paternity leave. Congé Parentégalité and Pour une Parentalité féministe (PA.F) launched a joint petition demanding the extension of paternity leave (congepaternite. wesign.it/fr), saying it is “a major lever for equality between women and men”. Under the plans, new fathers would be entitled to five days off immediately after the birth of a child as well as three weeks’ leave. Currently, new mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave, eight of which are mandatory, while new fathers have three days off, and can take an extra 11 days. It is the second petition in support of extended paternity leave in less than a year. One launched in November 2017 was signed more than 58,000 times. In January 2017, a think tank urged the government to oblige fathers to take paid paternity leave of six weeks.
More co-op stores open up to offer savings and quality by SAMANTHA DAVID Co-operative stores are taking off in France, with around 20 shops now operating across the country. Prices are lower than in standard supermarkets, in return for members doing work in the shops, and the products are more local and producers are paid more. To shop at one of the stores, consumers usually have to buy a share in the co-operative and then volunteer to work there for around three hours a month. They help with tasks such as staffing the till, stacking shelves, cleaning, or compiling the accounts. All decisions about the running of a co-operative shop – from choosing suppliers to sourcing products and hiring staff – are taken collectively. In most cases, shops concentrate on healthier options such as organic produce and groceries from small local producers. Gilles Caillaud, co-founder of Scopéli, a co-operative supermarket in Nantes, said: “People are fed-up with industrially produced food full of noxious elements. We don’t try to knock our wholesale suppliers’ prices down but instead we demand the best quality.” Despite paying high prices to
A customer (and therefore member) browses the shelves at the Scopéli co-operative shop in Nantes suppliers, bills are on average 10% to 30% lower at the till. Gérard Noël, one of Scopéli’s 1,500 members, said: “We don’t have much buying power but as we grow it will increase. “As we grow, we will need to find work so that all members can do their three hours a month. “We’re considering establishing a kitchen garden, which would provide work as well as
produce to sell in the shop, and we’ve also started a creche where members can leave their children (under their responsibility) while they work or shop.” Shares in Scopéli cost €10 each, and members are asked to buy between one and five shares according to their means. They also have to join the association (for €10 per year) that was set up in March 2016 to establish the co-op and open
the store. Mr Caillaud said: “The supermarket opened in July 2017, so we’re new but we are carrying out renovations and will open definitively once our 600m2 supermarket is ready in early 2019. “There are no limits. “The co-operative store in Paris has 6,000 members and there’s one in New York which has 17,000, so we’ve a way to go yet.”
Mitterrand tops president poll
Non-payers to be named and shamed
François Mitterrand has topped a list of the French public’s “best” presidents, in a poll to mark the 60th anniversary of the Fifth Republic. With Charles de Gaulle exempt, as he typically comes out top of any kind of similar list, Mr Mitterrand polled 31%, to beat Jacques Chirac (26%), and Nicolas Sarkozy (14%).
THE government and press are to name and shame businesses that fail to pay suppliers promptly and properly. MPs voted to adopt an amendment authorising the publication in local press and on a government website of the names of businesses found to have defaulted on payments to suppliers. Firms will also be fined €150 for every day their name appears on the list.
Fines for dog owners who do not clean up Dog owners who do not clean up their pets’ droppings on the street could now be fined as much as €200 per offence in one commune in NouvelleAquitaine. According to the mayor of Brive-la-Gaillarde, the commune picks up 30 tonnes of dog mess per year, at a cost of €100,000. The new fines are intended to prompt owners to clean up after their pets.
Sugary drinks tax ‘has instant impact’ The tax on sugary fizzy drinks that has been in place in France since July 1 is already having a positive effect on the amount of sugar found in the drinks, an MP has said. La République en Marche MP Olivier Véran, who helped to introduce the new tax, said some manufacturers have taken notice, and have reduced the amount of sugar in their drinks recipes accordingly.
Homeowner sets traps for burglars POLICE called to a botched burglary in Côtes-d’Armor were surprised to discover the property was surrounded by homemade explosives intended to deter and catch criminals. The reclusive 71-year-old homeowner of Yvignac-laTour, near Dinan, had set the traps around his property, and put up signs saying “Beware, traps”, with images of skulls on the exterior walls.
‘All women should have IVF access’ MEDICALLY-assisted reproduction should be extended to all women and the anonymity of sperm donors should be lifted in certain cases, the French national ethics committee has reiterated. The committee is also in favour of allowing women to freeze embryos for future use, if the woman in question is within a certain age range.
State pledges €40m more for forgotten fighters THE FRENCH government has promised an extra €40million over four years to help the Harki community in France in a new move aimed at healing some of the wounds left by the war in Algeria. The Harkis were native Muslim Algerians who fought alongside the French army and who were regarded as traitors in Algeria and fled massacres in the run up to and after independence. Guerrillas had started fighting for the independence of Algeria from France in 1954, using terror tactics, and the Harkis were formed and trained by the army as civil defence units. They were never fully integrated into the army, and when General de Gaulle became president and suddenly withdrew France from Algeria in 1962, the Harkis were disarmed, and left without protection. Revenge attacks, including public executions and mutilations led to an estimated 10,000 deaths between March and November 1962. An estimated 150,000 Harkis and their families packed up and made their way to France, with some French army officers bending regulations to ensure transport. Mainly poor farmers from the interior, few spoke good French or were educated. Little provision was made for them and initially they were housed in crowded camps, or sent to work in isolated logging units where integration with the rest of the French population was difficult. A revolt by the “second generation”, in the mid 1970s, including a march on Paris, brought their plight to public attention and there has been greater effort to improve their situation. The government said the €40million will be divided between improving the pensions of 2,000 Harkis, and setting up a fund to help the children of Harkis who qualify for state aid because of their low
Photo: Gasmi Aissa
10 News in brief
wages, or who are unemployed. In another gesture, 12 members of the Harki community were decorated with the Légion d’Honneur, and the state set up a historic research unit to document the Harki story, and to provide resources which will be included in schools. While welcomed by many Harki associations, others, rejected the measures, with the Comté nationale de liaison des Harkis (CNLH), being particularly outspoken. Spokesman Mohamed Bardi said the measures were just “smoke” and the association will continue its plan to take France to the European Court of Human Rights for its treatment of Harkis. The association has calculated the cost of full reparation at €40billion for the Harkis and their descendants. Committee member, Gasmi Aissa (pictured), told Connexion that Harkis wanted official recognition from the state. “The French state has recognised its role in the deportation of our Jewish co-citizens from France in the Second World War, and recognised the genocide of the Armenians,” he said. “The least it
can do in our eyes is to recognise its role in the massacres of the Harkis in Algeria and their shameful treatment in France.” Mr Aissa arrived in France with his family as a 10 year old in 1962 and spent three months in a tent with three other families in the Rivesaltes camp. One of his brothers contracted tuberculosis while there, resulting in years of medical treatment. The family was then moved to a military camp at Bias, in Haute-Garonne, where they and other Harkis were effectively isolated from the rest of the town, with a separate school and curfew in place. As a 20 year old, he was one of the leaders of the group which revolted against the system, taking administrators hostage and burning down the school. The camp was closed shortly afterwards. “It still makes me angry that France, the country my father believed in and fought for, should separate us and treat us like the South Africans treated blacks,” Mr Aissa said. “Conditions were not fit for human beings in a free country.” CNLH’s arguments were backed by the Conseil d’Etat, which in early October ruled that the son of a Harki, who has not been named, was entitled to €15,000 compensation for moral and material losses endured by his treatment at Rivesaltes and then at Bias. When he started his judicial battle in 2014, he claimed €1million but legal experts say the ruling, which sets a precedent for lower courts to follow, will open the way for many more claims. Mr Aissa said he hoped the words of recognition for the Harkis, made by President Chirac and every president since, will translate into action from the government. “When we see action and not just words, the Harki community will finally be more at peace,” he said.
Ryanair opens two new French bases
Baguettes could be protected by Unesco
Pet owners warned over online scam
Bad behaviour app ‘is unneighbourly’
Most people prefer cremation to burial
Casino to remove E171 from shelves
Low-cost airline Ryanair is to open new bases in Bordeaux and one in Marseille as part of its 2019 schedule, opening up 27 new flight routes. It estimates they will serve a total of 3.5 million customers annually within the next three to four years, with flights to Manchester and Dublin among those initially scheduled.
Baguettes could soon be recognised as an official part of France’s cultural heritage by Unesco, as a bakery group plans to present its case. If successful, French baking and pâtisserie would be recognised as “intangible cultural heritage”, and recorded on the prestigious Intangible World Heritage List.
Pet owners are being warned of a scam involving a Facebook page. The Gendarmerie said anyone who posted details of a missing pet online, especially on Facebook page Pet Alert!, is at risk as fraudsters have contacted owners claiming to have found their pets and demanded cash for their pets’ return.
A smartphone app from the Mairie of Paris allows residents to report problems around the city, despite criticism that it is encouraging “denunciation” behaviour. Users can describe a problem, the location, and even send a photo using the app, but critics have said it could affect neighbour relations.
A majority of French people would prefer to be cremated, a poll has found. Almost two-thirds (63%) said they would choose the option over burial, compared to just over half (51%) in 2015 – and many do not even want a service, according to a survey for funeral agency les Services Funéraires de la Ville de Paris.
Supermarket group Casino is to remove the additive titanium dioxide, or E171, from all of its products by the end of this year. E171 is a whitening additive often used in toothpaste and other cosmetics, food products and medicines. The additive, which is still legal to use, has been linked to cancer.
Villager uncovers ancient chateau at bottom of garden A resident in Corrèze has dug up the remains of a medieval chateau while gardening at home. Florent Cornaton, who lives in the historic village of Treignac, was cutting some overgrown vegetation at the end of his garden when he realised the greenery was covering up a very old wall. He continued to investigate, eventually uncovering evidence of battlements, arrow slits, and “a very beautiful building”. The chateau’s remains have been dated to about the year 1000. Daniel Borzeix, a local historian and editor of a book about the chateau, said:
Hermione set to lure millions to Normandy in 2019
“We believed that the chateau did exist, but we were never able to verify it. “What is important is that people are going to be able to own this heritage. When you speak about chateaux to children or adults, it always
makes them dream.” Now, Mr Cornaton and local history lovers are working on raising the remains from the mud to make it a real historical destination. An exterior wall and a tower are visible so far.
REPLICA 18th-century frigate Hermione has drawn 700,000 people to the quaysides of the main Mediterranean ports this year - and next year it will be heading for Normandy, the D-Day beaches and Rouen for its 2019 tour. The ship will call in at Cherbourg, Ouistreham, Saint-Nazaire/Nantes and Rouen in a tour that coincides with the 75th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings. Dieppe, Le Havre and Caudebec-enCaux are also in talks to be host ports. Hermione is one of the world’s largest wooden sailing ships – 66m long, with a main mast topping off at 47m above the sea, 2.2km2 of sails and 25km of ropes – and will be a key tourist attraction on the Normandy coast. It has been visited by millions since it took its first sea voyage, across the Atlantic in 2015, to commemorate the original Hermione taking the Marquis de Lafayette to Boston to help George Washington in the American War of Independence. Both the original and the replica were built in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime.
News in brief 11
Photo: Maxpixel / CC0
EU standardises filling station labels with added biofuel rating Petrol SP95 SP98
Fuel labelling at petrol stations changed in October in line with European Union rules to standardise pumps. Under the EU directive, pumps in all member states must be labelled with letters and numbers relating to the type of fuel and the amount of biofuel it contains to help consumers make the right choice for their vehicles throughout Europe. As well as member states, EEA nations, and also Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey will change their labels. Initially, the new labels will run alongside existing ones, to avoid confusion. Names for different fuels have been shortened and a set of symbols
Hunt reform call after cyclist death
Campaigners have demanded reforms to hunting laws after a British mountain biker was shot dead in the French Alps. Marc Sutton (above), 34, a restaurant worker who moved to France from Wales four years ago, was cycling in bright clothing on a path near Montriond, Haute-Savoie, when a 22-year-old hunter shot him. Campaigners are now calling for tougher rules on hunting, including removal of “lifelong” permits, and making Sunday a no-hunting day. Since June there have been four fatalities and 25 injuries from hunting. The mayor of Montriond imposed a temporary ban on hunting.
Homeowners urged to help hedgehogs Homeowners and gardeners are being encouraged to make their gardens hedgehogfriendly to prevent the animals’ extinction and to encourage them to eat garden pests. Aspas urges residents to create small holes – around 10-13cm across – at the bottom of garden fences and walls to allow hedgehogs to get in and out.
introduced. “Unleaded 95” and “Unleaded 98” have been replaced by the letter “E” surrounded by a circular border, followed by a “5” for 5% biofuel or “10” for 10%, while “superéthanol” has become “E85”. Diesel – which, for the first time, became more expensive than petrol at 20% of filling stations in France in October – is now identified by the letter “B” in a square border, with a choice of B7 or B10 (indicating 7% or 10% biodiesel). The new symbols, as well as being on the pumps, will be visible next to the fuel filler cap of all new vehicles, as well as in the owner’s manual and at car dealerships. It is not clear what will happen in the UK after the country leaves the European Union, but vehicles
Bordeaux’s director of tourism has condemned restaurants in the region that do not sell local wine, and demanded they pay as much attention to their wine lists as their food. Nicolas Martin launched a social media campaign after discovering that Bordeaux wines were not sold in as many as 20% of restaurants in the wine region that is probably the most famous in the world.
Farmers and hunters in the French Pyrenees have tried to move two female bears towards the Spanish side of the border using “scare tactics”. About 100 shepherds, along with farmers, hunters, and local government members from the Ossau valley, HautesPyrénées, tried to move away two female brown bears that had just been released.
Marchers demand ‘justice for women’ Hundreds of people took to the streets of several cities across France to demand “justice for women” and more support from the government in
December Your practical Q&A
produced in EU nations for the UK market will carry the labels as standard. To comply with the new regulations, the labels should have been in place at petrol stations from October 12, but some service stations in France said they were unaware of the changes until close to the deadline. Others said that they were still waiting to receive the new labels as the deadline passed. Backing the new regulations, a consortium of organisations representing European vehicle manufacturers and the refining and fuel supply sectors said: “The label is a visual tool to help consumers verify they correctly select the appropriate fuel for their vehicle. “Drivers only need to match the label of their vehicle with the corresponding label on the fuel pump.”
Farmers using scare tactics on bears
Students in Montpellier are addressing the issue of elderly loneliness and benefiting from cheaper rent in an exchange that is permitting young people to live in elderly care homes. One student of music therapy said: “The project interested me on a human level. I knew that this could bring something to the residents – and to me also. I speak to [the older people] a lot – some of them really need to talk.”
Local wines off the menu in Bordeaux
Student digs in elderly care homes
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the fight against domestic violence. Men, children, and couples joined the crowd, and many carried placards bearing “machismo kills” slogan and signs with images of women killed by their husbands.
Christelle is named world’s best pâtissier pastry chef Christelle Brua has become the first woman to be named the World’s Best Restaurant Pastry Chef by the prestigious Les Grandes Tables du Monde association. Ms Brua, head chef pâtissier at three-Michelin-starred Pré Catelan in Paris, won with an apple sugar soufflé, with caramel, cider and popping candy ice cream.
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Elton John in France on ‘farewell’ tour
Tests for prototype Hyperloop capsule
Elton John is to visit Paris, Bordeaux, Lille and Nîmes as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in 2019. Tickets for the Bordeaux show on June 22, ranging from €78.50 to €254.50, went on sale on October 17. The 71-yearold British star has called the forthcoming tour his “farewell”. He is set to play 300 concerts across five continents over three years.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (TT) has unveiled the first real-life passenger capsule for its vacuum tube transport system, ahead of its move to Toulouse for testing. Hyperloop TT is one of the companies working on development of the technology, which was first brought to public attention by Elon Musk. The controversial Tesla billionaire first suggested the idea in 2012 and coined the name “hyperloop”. He has since moved on from the project and allowed other companies to develop it instead. The hyperloop system would see passenger capsules – in a similar shape to bullet trains – propelled at speeds of up to 1,200kph, but more likely 600kph, through low-pressure tubes, levitated by electromagnets.
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One death in millions helps unite villages This year is the centenary of the end of WW1 and the sacrifice of one soldier just three weeks before the Armistice has created an unforeseen bond between Bray-sur-Somme in northern France and Old Coulsdon in south London. Connexion writer Sally Ann Voak, who lives in Old Coulsdon, explains
GENEALOGIST Carole Skinner and her neighbour Sally Ann Voak, pictured [right to left] were planning a First World War exhibition when they discovered a historical link between their village of Old Coulsdon and Bray-sur-Somme. Sally said: “Carole was researching the life stories of the 41 men whose names are engraved on our war memorial when she found that 12 Old Coulsdon soldiers are buried in France. “With the help of the team at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, we learned that one of the 12, Major Frederick Barberry Bennett, was laid to rest in the Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery on the outskirts of the village of Bray, which is similar to Old Coulsdon with a thriving community spirit, and strong history of wartime heroism.” Before the war, Maj Bennett worked in the City of London as a stockbroker and lived with his family in a comfortable detached house surrounded by rolling chalk downs and wooded valleys. He was called up in 1914 and died on October 22, 1918, aged 38, in a field hospital near Bray after being wounded and gassed in the battle of Le Cateau-Cambrésis. “Sadly, like many others, he was killed during the final days of the war,” said Sally. “He had already fought in one heavy conflict near Bray and had been made up to acting lieutenant colonel just before the disastrous Cateau battle in which over 600 men of the Royal Artillery were killed.” Carole discovered pre-war pictures of Fred and his wife Ethel, including a wedding picture, and Sally said: “Fred’s story and those wonderful black and white photographs touched our hearts. We wanted to know more
Our French friends keep wartime history alive
Bob Bennett admires the pupils’ display on the First World War
Julia and Bob Bennett, in centre
Major Fred Bennett died just weeks before the Armistice
about his life – and death.” Their researches uncovered fascinating insights into the life of the 6ft soldier, one of the 9.7million military personnel and 10million civilians who died in the Great War. “We started by contacting Fred’s granddaughter Penny Bennett, who now lives in Australia, then, through her, his great-nephew Bob Bennett, whose home is in Horsham, Sussex. “Bob had never visited Maj Bennett’s
grave or our own village memorial but had already begun to investigate the life of his ancestor so was keen to share any information we might find.” Carole dug into army records: “Fred’s first overseas expedition was in October 1917. At the end of the war, he served in some of the bloodiest conflicts – he was awarded the Victory and British medals and, like many others, he was an unsung hero.” She and Sally decided to make Maj
“In March, the village was taken by the Germans, who used it as a base for provisions and communication. “Before they arrived, older folk, children and women were evacuated towards Amiens to leave nothing for the enemy. Roads and houses were destroyed in the ensuing bombardment and Bray was finally retaken by the Australians on August 24. “Once the armistice was signed, we had to feed people and animals who were starving. The countryside, including Bronfay Farm opposite the cemetery, was planted with root vegetables, especially sugar beet. “It sounds brutal but had to be done
quickly to save lives. Many workers had been killed or wounded, so the government brought in labour from Belgium to help. Some Bray residents are descended from those workers.” Old Coulsdon (population 5,200), formerly in Surrey, is in the London Borough of Croydon and is the southernmost village of the capital. Its surrounds are now built up for more than 5,000 residents but the centre has not changed for centuries, with its 1,000-year old church of St John the Evangelist, village pond, and 16th and 17th century buildings. The war dead are buried in local churchyards. Some gave their lives
Left: Youngsters and families in Old Coulsdon put together this poster on the Christmas truce football games in 1914. Pictured wtih Bray local councillor Jean-Michel Battut (left) churches, libraries and community Bennett the focus of the Old groups are sharing WW1 art, songs, Coulsdon commemorative exhibition. and exhibits as part of both villages’ They contacted Bray local councillor commemoration events. and war historian Jean-Michel Battut. “Carole has made a short film about “Jean-Michel said the French Maj Bennett, to be shown in Bray and villagers were also arranging an Old Coulsdon during November. exhibition, a parade, and other events “A group of our schoolchildren have and were interested in swapping ideas made a recording of The Anthem for with us Brits,” said Sally. Peace, which will be played in the From that initial link, the friendship church at Bray on November 11, and between the villagers in France and England has blossomed: “Our schools, others have produced drawings of cornflowers (France’s commemorative flower), and poppies.” Older students at Oasis Academy, Old Coulsdon, created a series of (during the world wars) while at near- dramatic panels depicting the British troops which are now hanging in by RAF Kenley. As in France, the schools in Bray. One panel features a graves are cared for by the Common Christmas Eve football match played wealth War Graves Commission. in 1914 during the short truce During the First World War, the old between Allied and German forces. Guards barracks (now a housing Bray historian Mr Battut said of the development) was a centre for army truce: “There are many stories of units, nursing corps, equipment and football matches in no man’s land up horses before they went to the Front. and down the Front, including near A nearby church was a Red Cross the Somme villages of Cappy, hospital and soldiers with shell shock Dompierre and Fricourt. went to the old Cane Hill Hospital. “Details are scant because officers Many residents have photos and stopped keeping records after they letters from relatives who gave their received an edict from military HQ lives in both world wars and the park saying this fraternisation with the has recently been dedicated to the enemy should not take place.” fallen of the First World War.
Two very different wars for Bray and Old Coulsdon WITH its cobbled streets, its 12th century church, flowers and surrounding fast-flowing streams and tranquil ponds, Bray-sur-Somme (population 1,700) is a haven for tourists and anglers. But its six cemeteries and history of destruction are a sad reminder of World War One. Retired teacher Jean-Michel Battut, a municipal councillor, is an expert on the occupation and liberation of Bray. He said: “When the war started, we French had to fight but the Allies and soldiers from the Commonwealth like Major Bennett came to our aid voluntarily. We will never forget this.” Mr Battut said 1918 was decisive:
Bob Bennett, grandson of Fred’s brother George, visited Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery with his wife Julia. It is one of six war cemeteries near Bray-surSomme and Bob, 61, said:
across Channel Western Front walk shows we “I learned more about the First World War in one weekend in Bray than in school history lessons. “My grandfather died in 1977 but, before our trip, I knew little about Fred’s army service. Anyone who has a relative who perished in the Great
War should go to where they fought and chat to people in tourist offices, bars and libraries. They all have stories to tell. “After being at Fred’s graveside with friends from Old Coulsdon, JeanMichel Battut gave a tour of the Somme,
including Pozières and Lochnagar memorials. “It is comforting that my great uncle is buried in a peaceful place where the memory of the allies’ sacrifice is kept alive.”
holding banner, are joined by friends behind Maj Bennett’s grave at Bronfray Farm
A life of service, a loving marriage... and a grave in rural France FRED Bennett, born in June 1880 at Upton Park, Essex, was one of five children and went to school in Orpington before moving with his family as a teenager to Croydon. He and two of his brothers worked at the London Stock Exchange. He married Ethel Violet Day in April 1910 and the couple lived in a detached Edwardian house with their two children: son Denis (an RAF pilot during the Second World War who received the Distinguished Flying Cross) and daughter Avis. Fred served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Force in his 20s so when he was called up for military duty in August 1914, he was swiftly promoted. In February 1915, he received his commission in the 2nd Welsh Brigade Royal Field Artillery. Like other officers, Fred was moved between battalions, and at the time of his death was with C Battery, 84th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, to support infantry division actions. The Brigade took part in the battles of Vimy Ridge, Messines, and the counter-offensive of August 1918. War diaries show that Fred was first wounded on December 13, 1917 during intense shelling, then recovered and went back to the Front. In mid-October 1918, all batteries moved into Le Cateau to support an attack by the 4th Army. Fred was gassed and wounded on October 16, then taken to No 37 Casualty Clearing
by NICK JENKINS
MY WIFE Fiona and I have long nursed a dream of an epic hike along the length of the old Western Front and this year, a century on from the end of the First World War, we went for it. Both 64 and retired and living in Dordogne and Yorkshire, we had no idea if it was possible when we set off from Nieuwpoort-Bad on the Belgian coast to walk to the Swiss border. There is no waymarked Western Front walking path, or guidebook, we carried everything on our backs... and Fiona is waiting for a hip replacement. Her orthopaedic surgeon had advised her to keep walking, for the exercise, but she had not dared say just how far she was intending to walk. Partly because we did not know how far she would be able to go. Now, we know exactly how far. Six weeks to the hour after we set off, we passed the 1,000km mark and arrived at Kilometre Zero: the Swiss frontier. We had walked the entire way – refusing a tempting offer of a lift in a Vosges mountains thunderstorm – and had slept in 43 beds in 44 nights. So what made us – I am a cognitive hypnotherapist and retired journalist and Fiona a retired librarian and music teacher – think of doing it? For me, it was visits to battlefields such as the Somme and Ypres when our daughters were small. We thought then of trying to walk the whole line of the trenches. People thought we were mad but we were determined to prove them wrong. All four of our grandfathers were in uniform during the First World War, and one of Fiona’s grandmothers was a nurse in the Edinburgh War Hospital. Fiona said: “My grandmother’s experiences turned her into a lifelong pacifist – probably one reason why her husband worked in civil defence during the Second World War, rather than something military. “So our walk was definitely not a ‘celebration’ of war. It was about remembrance and commemorating those who died. If we were celebrating
Nick and Fiona Jenkins walked 1,000km in six weeks, despite a bad hip anything, it was the coming of peace 100 years ago, ending the appalling slaughter.” Near Ieper, in Belgium - or Ypres as it was then known - we found the grave of Fiona’s aunt’s grandfather, a Durham miner, artilleryman and father of three, who was killed at 42. We left a bouquet and among the hundreds of thousands of graves, this was a moment to focus on the individual loss that would have been felt by families all over the world. As we walked, we kept a blog and encouraged followers to donate to the War Child charity, as children were and are the innocent victims of war. Most of the physical signs of war are gone but we were surprised at how much can still be seen: concrete bunkers, shell craters and trenches in the darkness of a pine wood... even unexploded shells that are still being turned up by farmers and placed at the roadside for collection. Fiona said: “In Britain we tend to think of the First World War as our war, but one thing became very clear:
this was really France and Belgium’s war. It was on their land, and they were fighting for their way of life. “This was brought home to us especially in Verdun. British tourists tend to go to the Somme and Ypres as that’s where many British soldiers fought, but the scale of French loss at Verdun was enormous. “The ossuary at Douaumont holds the bones of 130,000 unidentified soldiers, the cemetery in front contains the graves of more than 16,000 men, and the pinewoods all around hide the remains of 80,000 who have never been found. It is impossible to take all that in. “We learned we could never take peace for granted. This was supposed to be the war that ended all wars. We mustn’t let it happen again.” n Walking The Line – Two Oldies (And One Dodgy Hip) Tackle The Entire Western Front, by Nick and Fiona Jenkins (Wetsocks Books), tells the full story of the walk and is available from Amazon.
Ethel and Fred Bennett’s wedding Station, where he died on October 22. His resting place is among the 525 graves of Bronfay Farm cemetery, in the last row. Ethel chose the simple inscription “Faithful until Death” for his white Portland stone headstone. In 1918 the Front was just a few yards from the farm but today fertile fields surround the cemetery. Remains and artefacts are still discovered in the area and every recovered soldier, regardless of nationality, receives a proper burial. Ethel died in 1952 at the age of 70. She never remarried.
Commemoration events Old Coulsdon will have the WW1 Centenary Exhibition from November 5-10, with exhibits and pictures from Bray-sur-Somme, flags, music, poetry and messages of friendship.
cannot take peace for granted
Bray-sur-Somme has its Exposition Grande Guerre 14-18 from October 19-21 that covers the war. It has a special section on Major Bennett and the link with Old Coulsdon.
Fiona Jenkins lays a bouquet on the grave of her aunt’s grandfather, who died near Ypres, aged 42
Simon Heffer, the renowned political commentator and historian, turns his gaze to French politics
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. She is a regular columnist in The Connexion.
Simon Heffer is also a columnist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs
Focus on human tragedy of war, not the grim statistics EVERY single person who was militarily involved in World War I is now dead. That is some 65 million people, including 10 million who were killed at the time. France’s sacrifice was particularly enormous: 1.4 million soldiers fell during the conflict – an average of almost 900 a day. The worst slaughter took place on French battlefields such as the Somme and Verdun – names that to this day signify the futility of war. More than 1 million lost their lives or were wounded during both horrific confrontations. The figures are as stark as they are chilling, but it is right that they are highlighted as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the 1914-18 fighting on November 11. We need to do more than that, however. When an event is no longer in living memory, there is a danger that its true impact will disappear into myth. Heads are bowed at commemorative gatherings that have been planned for years, stock clichés are reeled out, and there is a woeful disconnect with what really happened. The way to prevent glib recollections on this year’s Armistice Day is very simple. Beyond the grim statistics, all of us should focus on a few of the individual stories of those who were mobilised. Look far enough down your own family tree and you will learn about ordinary lives being plunged into lethal chaos. If there is nobody close to you, spend a bit of time researching the easily available war records of those with whom you have no blood ties, who perished in normally tranquil and beautiful parts of rural France. This might range from a famous war poet – Wilfred Owen or Edward Thomas – to those whose history is sparsely archived: maybe one of the thousands of Algerian or Indian infantrymen killed in action while serving far away from home with front line units from the colonies. The final World War I survivor who could tell her own story was Florence Green, who joined Britain’s Women’s Royal Air Force in September 1918. She died in 2012, aged 110. In France, Pierre Picault was the last poilu – the affectionate slang word for the “hairy” Great War French fighters. He breathed his last in 2008 in Bou, the village in the northern Loiret department where he had been born 109 years earlier. One of the best places to learn
about such individuals in France is the Great War Museum (le Musée de la Grande Guerre). It was inaugurated on Armistice Day 2011, and is situated in Meaux, in the Marne countryside, where hugely significant battles were fought at both the beginning and end of the war. Cemeteries surround the purpose-built museum, while inside nearly 50,000 objects and documents help illustrate personal stories. They trace the history of France from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, into the industrialised carnage that characterised 1914-18. Fittingly, there is no attempt at Meaux to celebrate victory. The period is instead presented as a terrifying prelude to the absolute Look far disaster of the enough Second World War. down your The illusion of triumph against own family the Germans tree and you was, within a will learn little over two decades, wiped about out by yet ordinary another invasion, this time lives being followed by plunged into capitulation, Occupation and lethal chaos alliance with the Nazis. Marshal Philippe Pétain – the “Lion” of the Battle of Verdun in 1916 who was reduced to a wretched collaborator leading the wartime Vichy regime in the 1940s – personified a nation’s shame. Despite such ignominy, France and her allies, including Britain, will this month concentrate on those who, in the main shared an unquestioning loyalty – to their country, their leaders, their God, and perhaps solely to what they considered best for their families’ futures. This is what comes over when you read the most moving documents from the time – personal letters. Beyond any sense of patriotism, or other ideology, the majority of participants were simply caught up in an appalling human tragedy. Whatever our own backgrounds, our politics, or our faith, this is what we should really be thinking about on Armistice Day 2018 – and in the years to come.
hen travelling around France it is hard not to be struck by the quality of its memorials to the dead of the Great War. A hundred years on – and we mark the centenary of the Armistice on 11 November – these often elaborate sculptures still make an eloquent statement of the sheer grief a nation felt at its suffering in those four years. France lost nearly 1.4million men in the conflict. Of the total deaths among the entente powers, the British Empire accounted for 16%, France for 25%. Almost 4.3% of the entire French population was killed in the war; Britain lost 2.2%. Britain had a volunteer army until 1916, when the scale of destruction on the Western Front forced the introduction of conscription. In France, every man was called up from the moment the Germans attacked. It is easy to understand why: the motherland itself was under assault. For the British it was a case of going abroad to join an ally in the defence of Belgium; for the French, it was about securing the continuation of their nation. Not only was every man required to serve: women were enlisted for work in munitions factories and on the land, long before anything on such a scale happened in Britain. The British were slow to adjust to what came to be called ‘total war’. The French had no choice. Only a small part of the northeast of the country was occupied between 1914 and 1918; but that part was devastated and depopulated – and, to this day, the scars of the shell-holes and the dugouts, and the undulations of the trenches, are visible on the landscape. Each year burial parties from the French and British armed forces hold military funerals for soldiers discovered when fields are ploughed in the countryside around Verdun and Cambrai; and they will continue to do so for years yet. The French fought with such ferocity and determination because saving their homeland from the Germans was not an abstract consideration. In 1871 two parts of France – Alsace and Lorraine – had been taken by Germany after France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Those areas had been steadily Germanified. Germany never ceased after 1871 to regard France as a natural enemy, and almost its entire military strategy had been focused on dealing with France again if the need, or the excuse, arose. No-one had quite imagined the duration and the extent of the carnage that would result if such an engagement happened. When it did, and when France with the aid of her allies defeated Germany, it was in no mood for olive branches. Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister in 1918, dominated the ensuing peace conference at Versailles. He felt he had every right to do so, as so much of the war had been fought on French soil, and he spent
Britain cannot comprehend scale of French suffering in World War One
months brushing aside criticisms of his policies and aims from the other participants – the British, the Americans and the Italians – who thought an inherently unstable Germany would be made only more, not less, dangerous by undergoing a severe punishment.
Of the total deaths among the entente powers, the British Empire accounted for 16%, France for 25%. Almost 4.3% of the entire French population was killed in the war; Britain lost 2.2% The demand to return Alsace and Lorraine was predictable and supported by the allies. They were less enthusiastic about the scale of reparations, which they saw as unrealistic and crippling. However, Clemenceau had a trump card, in pressing his policies, that he was not the most hard-line French statesman in his attitudes to Germany; the president, Raymond Poincaré, took an ever sterner view, and saw Clemenceau as something of a moderate. The two men detested each other. When the German delegation travelled to Versailles in 1919, Clemenceau ordered that their train be slowed down as it went through the former battlefields, so they would have time to see the destruction their aggression had caused. Clemenceau endured an assassination attempt in February 1919 – shot in the back – that emphasised the divided nature of France.
By now a sworn enemy, too, of Lloyd George, the British prime minister, and Woodrow Wilson, the American president, Clemenceau’s negotiating style became indiscernible from the tantrum. Germany was duly not just defeated but, in the peace terms imposed on it, humiliated. There was no doubt it was the aggressor and had been mistaken in thinking the French would be easy pickings; but in historical terms, Versailles was nowhere near the end of the problem. The humiliation of Versailles gave rise to extremism among German nationalists, out of which within a few years arose the demagogue Hitler, and the Nazi party. Part of its ideology was that the people it called “the November criminals” – the collection of politicians and soldiers who ran a Kaiserless country, and who had agreed to the capitulation at Versailles – had betrayed Germany; and the stain of that betrayal could, in their view, only be wiped clean by the reassertion of German nationalism and power. The rest, as they say, is history. The rampant expansionism that went with that obsession led to the Second World War, and France being invaded again in 1940. The heavily armed Germans, with their Panzers and Blitzkrieg, never sought to dig themselves in and fight a war like the Great War: they swept into a demoralised and divided country and their rule only exacerbated those divisions. The country was literally divided, between occupiers and Vichy; and despite decades of rhetoric since the occupation ended in 1944, about unifying a France of résistants and collabos, the divisions that stemmed from Clemenceau’s and Poincaré’s determination to crush Germany have never entirely gone. When France remembers its hecatomb of dead on November 11 it, too, will be no abstract exercise. The effects of the war fought by the glorious dead are, like the shellholes, still visible in France today. One hundred years is a very short time in history.
How do you solve a problem like teaching languages in France?
A recent report into language education in France suggests options for improvement, including teaching subjects like history in English. We speak to one of the report’s authors, UK-born journalist Alex Taylor FRANCE could learn a lot about language education from other European countries such as Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands. That is one of the findings of an official report into language education in France published just after the start of the school year, which was co-authored by English journalist and polyglot Alex Taylor. “The aim is to boost the level of pupils in English, and also in a second foreign language,” the government said when the report was published shortly after a Europe-wide survey. France ranked 15th out of 16 countries for teaching a main foreign language, and 12th for second foreign languages taught at school. Euronews journalist Mr Taylor, who came to France in 1981 and is known for presenting multi-lingual news show Continentales on France 3 between 1990 and 1994, was drafted on to the report team as an “interested outsider”. The report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Education, recommended children should be taught second languages earlier to take advantage of the learning abilities of younger brains. It also suggested immersion lessons in which subjects such as geography were taught in another language; making use of popular culture – such as cartoons and TV programmes – to pique children’s interest; and even reshaping classroom layouts. Mr Taylor told Connexion he gave up an early career as a teacher in France because of what he considered to be “negative teaching methods”. “My job was, basically, to knock marks off from 20 for errors. A mark here for a grammar mistake, half a mark there for a spelling error,” he said. He said this systemic mark-docking attitude promoted a culture of failure rather than one of success. “How many French people have you talked to who say they are afraid to speak English to you?” he asked. “Or who say to you ‘My English isn’t very good’?” Teaching methods have improved since he moved into journalism, he said, but mainstream education still has a long way to go if language teaching in France is to catch up with other nations. He was
How many French people have you talked to, who say they are afraid to speak English to you?
Journalist Alex Taylor
particularly impressed by methods at a collège in Haute-Savoie, which took language learning into other classes and subjects. He said he was in a geography class in which a pupil explained a complex aspect of geology in “perfect English, without an accent”. He said the method worked in part because it prompted pupils to pay attention in class. “It was slow to get going,” he said of the initiative, “but after a few years, results are very noticeable.” Homeowners nearby have definitely noticed a change. One unexpected side effect, he said, was that house prices in the catchment area have risen some 20% in four years as parents look to get their children into the school. Mr Taylor acknowledged teachers’ concerns about teaching subjects such as history, maths and science in English. “We are all supposed to be able to teach a language to our pupils from the CP but many teachers don’t have the skills to do this,” one teacher told Le Figaro. “An entire lesson in English is unfeasible.” But Mr Taylor said: “That’s why the report has recommended teachers spend some time working abroad.” One of the key takeaways was the idea of using popular English-language cartoons to engage children’s interest. “We know perfectly well that if our Scandinavian neighbours are so good at English, it is because they watch films in the film’s original language,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said in an interview with RMC radio after the report was published, adding that state TV would be encouraged to follow suit for children’s programmes. Mr Taylor said, however, that studies
They said it … We must look forward. I’m going down to It was harder in 1958 Ryugu! Nothing can than it is today stop me now Emmanuel Macron
The president tells pensioners at a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1958 Constitution that life is better now than 60 years ago
The Franco-German robot sent out a tweet as it descended to an asteroid from a Japanese probe
have shown that passive watching of programmes in their original languages (VO, or VM) did not help children comprehend any better. Instead, he said, cartoons and technologies such as online streaming services broadcasting shows in original languages could be used as learning aids by engaging and maintaining pupils’ interest. He cited one instance in which a student told him following an English class he had described as “difficult to follow, even for me”: “I’m going to learn more English by watching Netflix than I did in that lesson.” Mr Taylor said he believed early access to learning a language was the most important takeaway from his involvement with the report. Children in France are introduced to the basics of English from the age of six, but teachers often lack language training and are far from fluent. Mr Taylor said it was vital to introduce languages as early as possible to take advantage of children’s developing brains. He said: “Young children have the ability to learn every sound they need to speak any language. That ability is lost by the time they get to collège.” He said the report’s authors visited a nursery in a relatively deprived town in Germany, where staff regularly introduced nursery rhymes and songs in a range of different languages. “Young children learn differently to older children,” he said. “Those who learn a language younger don’t have an accent. From the age of about 11, you use a different part of your brain to learn a language. “I speak French with an accent, and I have never been able to get rid of it, despite living here for nearly 40 years because I learned French after I was 11.”
Aren’t you ashamed? Ashamed of your laziness? Ashamed of your bigotry? I hope the country will not forgive you François Ruffin
La France Insoumise MP reacts angrily after a law for better inclusion for disabled students was voted down
What women wear is not up for debate Samantha David says that women should be able to dress how they want, when they want
The discussion about women’s rights to cover their faces in France rumbles on. The law states that it is illegal for anyone to cover their face in public with a mask, helmet, balaclava, niqab or other veil. The burqa is also banned if it covers the face. Islamic headscarves are banned from French schools and government buildings by a separate law prohibiting visible religious symbols including crosses, turbans, and kippahs (brimless hat worn by some Jewish men). Compared to the British approach, which is more tolerant, the French policy seems draconian. Examples of heavy-handed policing of Muslim women (a woman on the beach in Nice being forced to remove her outer clothing by armed police officers in August 2016; a veiled woman being dragged screaming into a police vehicle in Toulouse in April 2018) do not improve the general picture. In 2010, American Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf said he was personally opposed to the face veil, but that it is nevertheless a legitimate choice for Muslim women. He wrote that on a trip to
Women, however they are dressed, aren’t responsible for the criminal behaviour of certain men
France he reflected how odd it was that “to unveil a woman for all to gape at is civilised but for her to cover up to ward off gazes is a crime”. He added: “While the French Prime
Photo: David Martyn Hunt / CC BY 2.0
Minister [François Fillon at that time] sees no problem exposing in public places a woman’s glorious nakedness, he is oddly and rabidly disturbed by allowing others to cover it up. “The sooner secular nations learn to allow people of faith to live their lives in peace, the sooner peace will flourish.” Read that again. There’s a problem. Where is the woman’s decision in that? Who is doing the exposing in this paragraph? An invisible man? And for what purpose? In order that she may be gazed at. Sorry, but a woman’s body isn’t merely sexual. Most women in France do not choose to wear shorts in order to attract the male gaze, and they don’t wear a floorlength frock to avoid it. They wear what seems practical and appropriate at the time. Shorts when it is hot, evening dress when it’s a formal party, headscarf when painting the ceiling, jeans because they’re comfortable. Feeling obliged to cover up in order to avoid being gazed at is nonsense. Men don’t do it, why should women? It is the same deal as saying women should cover up to avoid being whistled at, harassed, stalked, up-skirted or even worse. Women, however they are dressed, aren’t responsible for the criminal behaviour of certain men. I’m glad schoolgirls in France are protected from pressures to cover their hair, I’m glad that women’s faces can’t be covered up in public, and I welcome the new Loi Schiappa, establishing €90 on-the-spot fines for sex pests on the street. Because the problem isn’t what women wear, it’s what men read into it.
I had prepared myself as if I was doing KohLanta. I thought I would have to survive a hostile environment
We have become the system’s spare wheel. And since we’re the last link in the chain, we have to go
An unnamed firefighter
The comedian recounts preparations to star her first ever film after 30 years which has been directed by the notoriously difficult Jean-Pierre Mocky
The officer describes the anger among the rank and file over rising violence after a colleague in Val-de-Marne was killed by a man he was trying to rescue
Christmas gifts Your carte de séjour applications
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THE REASON that many people have trouble acquiring a carte de séjour is that they are unable to communicate in French with the fonctionnaires. However, I would not sit for up to six hours waiting. When the final Brexit agreement is agreed either there will be no need for a card or they will be readily available. After five years residency there is no pressing need for a card, provided people can meet the French paperwork requirements such as tax statements etc. A carte will never streamline any future card. Cavan JACKSON by email A senior Interior Ministry official told Connexion the ministry hopes that after Brexit those with cards as EU citizens would not have to get a new card but if they do, the process would be simplified. This could be compared to the rules for renewing a permanent carte after 10 years, which involve reduced paperwork. The official said France plans to respect the residency rights of those with cards (and those able to show the same legal, continuous residency with documents) even if there is no deal. However, whatever happens, Britons will ultimately need a card of some form. Piles of paperwork alone will not be practical proof when they are “third country citizens”. The best course remains to obtain a card as soon as possible, especially as there are already delays at some prefectures.
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CONGRATULATIONS on an excellent Brexit helpguide. I would like to tell of our experience of obtaining a carte in the Vendée (La Roche-sur-Yon). In the feedback section, comments for our area were negative, whereas our experience was not. We applied by lettre recommandée avec avis de réception (LRAR) and 10 days later received application forms partially filled in with our details, a proposed meeting date and a list (different to the government one) of supporting documents. The meeting took 30 minutes and three weeks later we received a message saying we could collect our cards. Based on this, we suggest that it helps to make an initial application in writing and send it LRAR so you have proof and obtain a written reply; take all documents asked for, even if some are different from the “official” list; if applying as a couple, ensure each dossier contains all of the documents and is well-organised. Barry and Lyn TATE Vendée
It is good to hear that things have improved in the Vendée. We agree it may minimise problems if you check in advance what documents your prefecture expects, though it is disappointing some are still asking for superfluous documents according to the Interior Ministry. This is especially true as the question then arises as to whether they expect items in English, such as a birth certificate, to be translated, at significant cost.
ARE any other British people in France willing but unable to pursue dual citizenship purely for financial reasons? I live on a pension of €1,000 a month and cannot afford having the necessary family birth, death, divorce and marriage certificates translated into French at prices quoted by accredited translators. I would take some small comfort in knowing I am not alone. Lyn Preston Côtes d’Armor We doubt you are alone. The cost can indeed be high, especially if your prefecture insists on multiple documents related to your parents, such as birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates (unlike French birth certificates, UK ones do not have all the major subsequent events noted on them). However we suggest checking with your prefecture for its precise requirements as some consider that just UK birth certificates are sufficient. BASED on emails exchanged with the prefecture of the Dordogne, there is no way of knowing when its rendezvous system will open up again, short of checking its site everyday! What recourse have we got if despite trying we cannot get one? I think this issue should be raised with the UK and French authorities. I know people who had no problem getting appointments in Lot-et-Garonne but Dordogne seems different. Jacky Chater Dordogne The prefecture did not offer a solution when we contacted it but previously told British community representatives later dates will open mid-month. The Interior Ministry and embassy are aware of issues at a number of prefectures. You can tell the embassy of your issues at tinyurl.com/ y7apmqo9. WE RECEIVED our 10-year cartes in seven weeks. The process took 15 minutes in Gap and they called when the card was ready. They volunteered to send
Cost of living in France
RE. the reader query about the cost of living in France – a key point is income source. Anyone whose income is sterling-based should be aware of instability due to currency fluctuations. How you find France depends on where and how you live. Cities are more expensive than small villages. If you intend to carry on eating “English”, with lots of imported food, then this will cost more than if you eat “French”. Eating out costs as much as you want to pay. We find insurances (eg. house and car) considerably cheaperhere. Assuming that you have a right to the healthcare system, you will pay 30% of any primary care (GP/physio, etc.) but hospital treatment is free. Top-
up medical insurance is a fraction of that in England. You probably will want to do work to your house and French builders are not cheap. This is because of the huge amount they have to pay in ‘social charges’ (think NIC++++). Do not fall into the trap of thinking English builders (there are many in France) will be cheaper - they operate under the same tax regime with the same obligation to provide (expensive) insurance-backed guarantees. Everything else is mixed. Paint in France, for example, is expensive and of inferior quality. We cost whatever we are looking for in both countries and then opt for the better deal. Mary Kennedy, by email
it to the sub-prefecture in Briançon and save us a 200km round trip. The staff were helpful. On a practical note, can the card be used as a form of ID, dispensing with the need to carry a passport when leaving home? Can it be used within the Schengen zone too? Ian Shedden Hautes-Alpes Yes, it is valid in France (as is a French driving licence – the key factors are a photo and the fact it was issued by the state). However you should not travel in other Schengen countries without a passport. A European Commission spokeswoman said that only a passport or a national ID card is acceptable for this (or in the case of nonEU citizens, a passport and their visa and/ or residency card). A residency document on its own is not enough. YOUR ongoing advice about cards is sound and all living in France should renew or apply for one. Lord Lawson will, just like anyone else, have to wait in line and have his fingerprints recorded. We have just renewed ours. I do not consider the demands for specific information too onerous and as for proving where and how long we have lived in France, our mairie provided a text in five minutes. Readers who get hot under the collar should remember we live in another country and they make their own rules. Chris Eatough Nièvre WE LOVE our home and life here among French friends. We were aghast at the propaganda that surrounded the Brexit referendum and astonished by the result. However, with a little belt-tightening we intend to remain here for the long term. With all the uncertainty, and with Connexion’s advice, we applied so as to be ahead of what may become a scramble. We received letters stating we have no need for cards as our right to be here under EU law is unchanged. It states that cards were abandoned in 2003. David Serpell Gironde While EU citizens have not been obliged to have cards since the early 2000s, they are an optional right. The embassy now recommends obtaining one, as do French Interior Ministry officials in communication with Connexion. This is to prove you are in continuous, legal residency and – hopefully – beat the rush that is likely when it becomes obligatory for Britons to have a card.
SNCF attitude is not fine To get a rail ticket from a machine at my local station I have 15 steps to perform. Most people cope ... or did, that is, until July, when the machine was out of order. This had happened before and there was no problem: you got a ticket on the train and, normally, the machine would be repaired in a day or two. This time, the machine was not repaired and still is not. My sister got on a train recently and, as it was starting to move, sat down to get her rail card and the €2 fare out of her handbag. At that moment, three inspectors appeared and told her she had to pay a €50 fine – and refused to accept any discussion or explanation.
I believe in public transport. I have always praised SNCF and compared it favourably with the rail service in Britain, but this is no way to treat passengers. Is it going to be compulsory to buy everything on a smartphone in future? How many older and poorer people will be excluded from travelling? Or has SNCF found it is easier to recoup losses by making it impossible to buy a ticket and then imposing enormous fines on anyone without one? Meanwhile, with no ticket machine and no mobile phone, I run the risk of being fined €50 or €100 every time I want to make the journey to Angers. Sandy Morris, Maine-et-Loire
Navigating the minefield of financial planning in France more details on back page..
The Connexion letters pages are
Beware car buying sites Recently I decided to sell the right-hand drive car that I brought to France 10 years ago. The common rule in France is vehicles for sale must have a new contrôle technique. My vehicle failed so I could only sell it for parts. Then I saw an ad for a company promising to buy any car, no matter its state. Problem solved. I filled in their online questionnaire, making sure to add that it was a right-hand drive car with French registration and was told it was worth up to €1,900. I arrived at the due time and location for a viewing to confirm the online valuation, which I knew was too high. Well over an hour later they said that in view of the fact it was a right-hand drive vehicle and they had nothing to compare it to, they would have to review the internet offer. Their new offer was €23. Needless to say, I didn’t sell it to them. Phillip Cameron, by email
Hey, Orange, cut the trees
In Germany, Holland or UK, telephone engineers routinely trim interfering tree branches, as do EDF, at no cost to the consumer. In France each neighbour has to trim their own branches before Orange will repair a fallen broadband line. Ours has been down for six months. Our neighbours are friendly and helpful – but what of a poor resident who cannot afford to hire a cherry picker and contractor? Orange should take responsibility and trim branches in each region throughout the country. Steve Sanford Vaucluse
Language matters Online licence failure in every subject
THE October edition of Connexion includes a report to the Ministry of Education recommending teaching certain subjects in English (Teach maths in English to improve L’anglais). I fear the worst! As a retired language teacher, I regularly taught my adult learners diverse matters in English, the subject they came to me to learn, and the overall results were good. And there lies the difference. My partner’s granddaughter, whose English is very good and who attends a well-respected school, recently had a geography lesson in English. But from the lesson in question, she learned nothing, the teacher’s
Letter of the month
English being practically incomprehensible. I, too, went to a highly reputed grammar school. But the French teachers taught limited French language and neither of them had been to France. Thank goodness they never had to teach any other subject to us. In France, English language teachers do not have sufficient mastery of their subject to go beyond the confines of teaching in their immediate curriculum. Knowledge of English among teachers of other disciplines is no better. If the experiment is pushed too far, pupils will end up learning neither geography nor English! Stephen Burrough Charente
Stephen Burrough wins the Connexion letter of the month and a copy of the Connexion Puzzle Book. Please include your name and address in any correspondence; we can withhold it on request. The Editor’s decision is final.
Write to: The Connexion, Patio Palace, 41 avenue Hector Otto, 98000 Monaco or email email@example.com
Speed isn’t everything
Driving from Auch to Condom, at 80kph, I glanced in my rear view mirror to see the massive radiator grille of a heavy goods vehicle filling the mirror. The HGV was obviously in a hurry; I increased speed, to no effect. The HGV kept roaring up closer and closer. Finally, I pulled over and let it thunder past. The new limit is well-intentioned but is only part of the solution to the road death-toll. A massive re-education programme is needed, addressing dangerous overtaking, tailgating, motorcycle awareness and not using a mobile phone while driving. I see media reports that an accident was caused by fog or ice. This is ridiculous. Accidents are frequently caused by a failure to adjust speed to take road conditions into account. Every motorist should spare a thought for emergency services who are obliged to assist at horrific accident scenes. A driving licence is a privilege, not a right – we should all strive to achieve best possible standards when we use the roads. The aims is to get from A to B safely, without endangering others. Why is it that people are courteous and patient in supermarket queues yet there is so much aggression on our roads? Peter Bradley, Gers
You said it … Homeowners in France urged to help protect hedgehogs “I have one that visits every night to eat the cat food and cat biscuits I leave out.” L.D. “I have a family group of about five in my garden... they are always stealing the cats’ food (which I don’t mind at all).” K.O’C. “The roads still remain the greatest problem with mortality as hedgehogs are nocturnal and wander on to highways where even on rural roads drivers hurtle along and make no attempt to avoid them.” A.F. “If there is one thing that breaks my heart, it’s seeing hedgehogs squashed in the road - and in France there are hundreds.” K.C.
The move from issuing permis de conduire at the prefecture to a centralised online system has created an impossible situation. I applied last October. My UK licence was due to expire in December as I reached the age of 70. By late November I had received nothing. My UK licence was renewed. It took just 14 days from the DVLA. In mid March this year I was given an “attestation”. I was informed that if I wanted parts C and D, I needed a medical certificate. This I did and was confirmed as fully healthy. I was also asked for and returned my new UK driving licence to them. In May, I
finally received my French licence, which had a spelling mistake in my name. But I was informed in writing that my application for parts C and D were refused. I could reapply. In the meantime, I just want a correctly spelt one. You cannot talk to anyone. There is no phone number. They do not answer emails. They do not acknowledge receipt of anything. The system is not fit for purpose. It is inefficient and non responsive. Surely I am not the only one to be impacted by this highly inefficient system. Kenneth Calam-Hale, Hautes-Pyrénées
Send bill to Leave Lord I suggest Brian Cloughley sends an invoice for the cost of translating documents (Readers’ cartes de séjour experiences, Letters, October edition) to Lord Lawson, the person responsible for heading the Conservatives leaving the EU. Lord Lawson not only led the campaign to leave, but he also lives in France and has applied for a carte de séjour. I am certain he would welcome Mr Cloughley’s bill. Whether he will send any money is another question. Lord Lawson has commuted to the UK for many years. He travels to London to sit in the House of Lords and returns to Toulouse on a Friday evening. I do not know Lord Lawson’s address, but I am certain if Mr Cloughley sends his bill to the House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW, the Lord will receive it. I have lived here for more than 15 years and now cannot vote in the UK. I am wondering if the same applies to Lords. Tony Francis, Gers Editor’s note: Lords are not subject to the 15-year rule and can vote for the entirety of their lives no matter where in the world they live
Summer furniture woe I placed an order with Gamm Vert for six garden chairs and a table with a lazy Susan in June. I received the chairs in June. The table came in early July, but the fixings to the base were missing, as was the lazy Susan. After many emails and expen-
sive calls, I still do not have the missing items. Every communication I have had states they will be with me shortly. More than 15 weeks later, I still do not have them and summer is over. Never again will I make this mistake! Pauline Martin, Dordogne
Airport car hire warning I hired a car from Green Motion at Stansted Airport and returned it on time, undamaged. The inspector pointed out a tiny scratch on the wing mirror and said it was chargeable. He then claimed that there was a dent on one wheel-arch. I argued, to no avail and had to go to catch a flight. £346.65 was taken from my credit card. Fortunately, I had car hire excess insurance and would advise people who travel to the UK and hire a car to buy such insurance (it costs about £36) – and to avoid Green Motion! Peter West, by email Green Motion replies: Mr West was given the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the vehicle’s condition prior to hire. While the team here appreciates that it is unfortunate that his vehicle suffered damage while it was in his custody, they are confident that the correct processes were adhered to and that Mr West was charged the appropriate amount. Green Motion proactively encourages customers to take their time when inspecting a vehicle and has produced YouTube video guides about how to do this and what to be on the lookout for. Connexion would like to know other readers’ experience with hiring cars in the UK? Do you feel you have been penalised unfairly?
Go by the sun
Re. the debate on clock changes – why cannot the basis of “time” start with midday being when the sun is at its zenith overhead? Surely it would be more practical to have no time changes and stick to the basis of solar time? Christopher Ley-Wilson Lot
You can debate and comment on articles either at our website: www.connexionfrance.com or via our facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheConnexion Here is a selection of recent popular subjects and readers’ comments...
Urgent action needed to reduce ports chaos in no-deal Brexit “If France actually wants to have a tourist industry with the UK, then it needs to wake up and smell the coffee.” D.C. “Simplest way to deal with this is for port authorities that handle sailings between the EU and the UK to close all the ports for a few days.” H.I. “It’s a two-way process. I realise the UK is not exactly efficient, but the EU has a big role to play, it can’t pretend nothing is happening.” A.S. “We are being robbed and led over a cliff edge by a bunch of greedy ambitious and arrogant politicians, on the flimsiest of pretexts and in the face of mounting opposition.” J.A.
‘We must ensure Britons can stay in France’ – minister “If the pound keeps falling, those of us that exist on our UK state pensions will not survive.” C.R. “Some of us may not meet the criteria to obtain cartes de séjour or apply for French nationality. It all still hinges on how the UK will treat EU citizens in UK.” V.A. “We know Americans, Australians and many other non-EU citizens living near us so please ignore any scaremongering stories.” A.L. “We have lived in France for 18 years, we have children and grandchildren here but had no vote because we have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years. This is not democracy.” M.W.
Speed camera fines in France to bring in €1billion in 2019 “The reduction of speed limits and the introduction of more speed cameras has nothing to do with safety.” A.K. “Down here in the anarchic south they’re either painted out, shot through, or have a wheelie bin placed over them.” B.S. “Unless you break the law, you have nothing to pay. So wise motorists have no money ‘extracted’ from their pockets. You could use the same argument for every law which results in somebody paying a fine.” A.F. “If people stuck to the limits, then no money could be extracted for speeding fines.” S.H.
Can my unused insurance be refunded for part of the year?
Readers’ questions answered
Send your queries about life here to Oliver Rowland by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
renewal date (échéance) and the insurer should reimburse you for any part of the premiums paid relating to the unused period after you cancelled. Once your car is sold, the contract is suspended the day afterwards, at midnight. However, if you do nothing, then it will only officially end in six months. If you want to cancel the policy according to the proper procedures, you need to tell the insurer by recorded delivery letter with receipt slip (lettre recommandée avec avis de reception) and the cancellation should then take effect 10 days after the letter is sent. A model letter can be found at tinyurl.com/ycbj72ae. In the letter you should declare the car has been sold, and include your full name and address, the number of your insurance contract, date of sale and the make and number of the car. You should attach a photocopy of the Certificat de cession form which has to be filled out by seller and buyer when a car is sold.
Why do prefectures need fingerprints? WHY DO some prefectures require fingerprints when you apply for a carte de séjour? Mine did not. K.M. NORMALLY this is a routine part of the process, at least if it is the first time that you apply for a card, the Interior Ministry says. To be clear about this, we
are not talking about you having to press your fingers on an ink pad - it simply involves putting your fingers under a small scanner on the desktop and it takes a few seconds. A spokesman for the ministry department dealing with foreign people, the DGEF, said: “This is an obligation, motivated by the
wish to fight against fraud and to avoid non-EU citizens passing themselves off as Europeans, who benefit from more advantageous rules than non-EU citizens. “The problem often arises with people from Georgia, Russians and people from the Balkans, and taking fingerprints helps us to outwit the fraudsters.”
Where does term cerfa come from?
WHY are some official forms in France called “cerfa”? J.D. A “cerfa” is any official form for carrying out an administrative procedure, which is in a format that is fixed by a decree. It was originally the acronym for the French state body that drew up and registered such documents, which was called Centre d’enregistrement et de révision des formulaires administratifs (its job is now
done by an interministerial body with an even longer name). Each cerfa has an official five-figure number, sometimes plus two figures for the specific version. To add to the complication, some cerfas are named with another number as well. For example, this year’s main income declaration tax form 2042 (for declaring 2017 income) was cerfa no. 10330*22 whereas the previous one was cerfa no. 10330*21.
What is the Journal Officiel? CONNEXION sometimes mentions the Journal Officiel – what is this and who publishes it? B.M.
THE JOURNAL Officiel de la République Française, or JO, is a daily French government publication that lists all the new national laws and decrees, as well as senior government job vacancies, and legal notices such as changes of name and acquisition of French nationality (some publications with personal information require permission to access them). Since 2016 it is only online at official legal information site Légifrance (you can consult it at legifrance.gouv.fr/initRechJO.do) Before that it had existed in both paper and online formats since 2004. It is published by the Direction de l’information légale et administrative (Dila), a service of the Prime Minister’s office, every day apart from Mondays, except if the previous day was a bank holiday. Its offices are at rue Desaix in south-west Paris. The most important aspect of the JO is that new laws are not operative until they have been published in it. This is because laws must be made public if they are to apply. Unless the law in question mentions a later date, it applies from the day after publication. However, any articles in a law that mention the need for additional decrees to put them into practice do not apply until the decree has itself been published in the JO. Another role of the JO is publicising parliamentary debates, but the full verbatim of these is hosted at the sites of the respective bodies at www.assemblee-nationale.fr (click Dans l’hémicycle > Comptes rendus des séances) or senat.fr (Travaux parlementaires > Comptes rendus des débats). The JO ser-
FUTURE QUESTIONS - SEND IN YOURS...
An insurance vignette on a car, showing the period of cover says that none is payable. Is this correct? R.B.
MY CAR insurance starts on November 1 each year. I sold my car on August 7 and have not bought another car. I cancelled my car insurance and asked the insurers for a refund of the September and October months of the policy but the insurance company
NO, this is not correct. If you have sold your car and do not plan to replace it or you simply want to change insurers for a new car, you are within your rights to cancel your existing policy before its
Must dog wear muzzle on train? DOES my dog have to be muzzled if we are travelling on the train? G.S.
The JO used to be a printed newspaper vice also publishes information about non-profit-making associations. Historically, new laws were announced by a town crier, known as tambour de ville (town drum) from the fact that he or she banged a drum. The first newspaper to carry official notices was then the Gazette de France, from 1762. The Journal Officiel dates from 1868 and has had the monopoly on publishing new laws since 1870. It should not be confused with a bulletin officiel, which provides updates from certain ministries, of which the best-known is the Finance Ministry one, mostly about taxes. This was called Bulletin Officiel des Impôts (BOI) until 2012 and since then (more accurately but less snappy) Bulletin Officiel des Finances Publiques-Impôts (BOFiP-Impôts).
A shop refused to allow me to pay in small change - what does the law say about this?
ACCORDING to the SNCF’s own rules, yes, dogs should be muzzled on trains unless they are little dogs travelling in a bag (!) or a sealed case. An exception is made for guide dogs. You may be interested to know that you are supposed to buy a ticket for your dog – for a small one in a case on your knees or at your feet, this is €7, or for larger dogs (which should travel at your feet), the price is half a person’s second class ticket. Guide dogs go free. Otherwise the only legal restrictions concern “dangerous dogs” - those of “type 1” may not travel on public transport at all, whereas “type 2” breeds may do so with a muzzle and lead. The former includes non-pedigree dogs similar to pitbulls, mastiffs or tosas, and the second includes pedigree Rottweilers, tosas, Staffordshire terriers and American Staffordshire terriers.
Is there a top-up ombudsman? IS THERE an ombudsman for health mutuelles? Mine is refusing to pay for a second stay in hospital. GT THERE are various médiateurs for the insurance industry. Your mutuelle should tell you which one is relevant if you ask them. Otherwise you can enquire from Médiation Assurance on 01 53 21 50 36.
I’m waiting for a French driving licence (my current one has expired). Is my insurance valid?
Are there reductions for senior citizens? WE WANT to retire to France but would like to know: does France give reductions for “seniors” who live there? If so, would we be included if we are not French? L.D.
company on the Riviera offers a reduced-fare card for over65s on proof of identity and age, but if you live in the area and are below the income tax threshold, then travel is free.
YES, there are various reductions for older people in France and you do not have to be French to benefit. Some (notably those from commercial organisations) are even available to non-residents if they spend enough time in France to benefit. Here are some examples:
n Some towns have special cards for reductions on cultural and leisure activities. For example, in Lyon and Nice there are free cards for over-65s or over-55s, respectively, who live in those areas. However, many cultural activities (eg. cinemas) also offer reduced prices simply on proof of age.
n The SNCF’s Carte Sénior+ gives 25% off train fares in second class and up to 40% in first class. Reductions rise to 50% on local TER trains at off-peak times. The card costs €60/year but more than pays for itself if you use French trains often. n Air France and its low-cost subsidiary Hop! offer a reduction card priced €59/year for those aged over 65, with up to 30% off flights within France. n Local transport companies offer reduced prices for older people. For example, the Lignes d’Azur bus and tram
How big are school classes on average in France? I have heard they are smaller than in the UK
n There are various tax reductions or exemptions for resident older people with modest incomes, including an income tax allowance for over65s, exemption from taxe d’habitation for over-60s and a reduction on taxe foncière for over-65s or exemption for the over-75s (the latter may also be available to non-residents if they request it). n Certain health benefits for those in the French health system are age-related, such as free flu vaccines for the over65s or mammograms for women aged 50+.
Does household insurance cover us for removal of a wasps’ nest? What if the wasps come back?
To receive the next issue at home... subscribe at www.connexionfrance.com by November 12
Make sense of
The French bidet
Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider, UK Telecom, answers your queries
Q. My broadband is slower than my neighbour’s, particularly having a weaker wifi signal. We use the same supplier. What can I do?
Seen as amusing and mystifyingly foreign by many Brits, the bidet also went out of fashion in France but is making a comeback BIDETS are rare in British homes but almost all French bathrooms had them until around 30 years ago - as they still do in Italy. They did not disappear completely but they became seen as ringard - old-fashioned and undesirable - partly due to lack of space in homes and the increasing popularity of showers. In 1970, 95% of French bathrooms had one, but by 1993 the figure had dropped to just 42%. French humorist Vincent Lagaf ’, in a 1989 novelty song, seemed to echo the prevailing view when he sang that “il est beau le lavabo… il est laid le bidet” (the washbasin is beautiful, the bidet is ugly). There is also a (somewhat rare) bidet-related insult raclure de bidet (bidet scrapings), and the similar rinçure de bidet (bidet rinsings), meaning something that is worthless. According to academic JeanPierre Goubert, the poor bidet suffers from “a whole heritage of shame and opprobrium”. Notably because bidets were especially associated with brothels, before they were closed down in 1946. The women would use them to wash their private parts - and some women who had affairs also tried to avoid pregnancy that way. Chevalier du bidet was a term for a pimp. After the war, such associations seem to have reduced as they became almost universal – before going out of fashion. More recently, however, some manufacturers say bidets are
becoming seen as a posh, chic accessory, perhaps precisely because you need space to accommodate one, and maybe even because of their perceived uselessness. Some French people are unsure what to do with them so much so that one site, for Paris bathroom company Jacob Delafon, offers tongue-in-cheek suggestions for what to do with yours. They range from using it as a plant container to a stool or a candle stand. Other people are said to fill it with bathroom accessories such as brushes and hairdryers. French furniture-makers are responsible for inventing this piece of bathroom equipment, around the start of the 18th century, though it has since taken off around the world. An early reference is in the house-
woods such as mahogany or rosewood, with a porcelain bowl, and were mounted on feet. They would have been kept in the bedroom, rather than a dedicated salle de bain. They were especially used by women, so they were referred to by such euphemisms as confiant des dames (the ladies’ confidant) or ami intime (intimate friend). First enjoyed by aristocrats, they became widely used in the 19th century, by which time they looked like modern ones: a fixed installation in porcelain. In contemporary models they are often wall-mounted and may come in a variety of designer shapes. The functioning varies from the basic – you just put a plug in and fill it from the taps and use your hand to wash yourself – to those with a jet that you position yourself over. In the latter case, as Our main image long as the jet is was drawn for strong enough, it Connexion by should be sufficient artist Perry Taylor. on its own. For more of You can sit on the his work see bidet (or hover slightwww.perrytaylor.fr ly above it) to use it in either direction. Though, without “drawing a picture”, it is somehold expenses of Madame de times recommended that you Pompadour, who had a bidet in seat yourself with those parts of beech wood with carved sides yourself you want to rinse closin 1751. est to the tap end. Generally Bidet comes from an old word for a small, stocky pony, such as speaking, it is said that facing the taps gives you more control. was ridden by post riders, If you are wearing trousers, because you straddle it as if you may need to take them off mounting one. or at least take one leg out. In France they are not You should take care not to generally used on their own for turn on the flow too fast and cleaning your posterior after for models with a hot tap - it is using the loo, but for an likely to be best to turn on the optional additional wash for extra cleanliness and/or at other cold first and increase the flow of hot gently to avoid scalding times as part of a daily personal hygiene routine for cleaning the yourself. It is advisable to test the water first with your hand. nether regions generally. After finishing, you dry yourThe earliest models were not self with paper or a towel, run plumbed in. They were in fine
some water to rinse the bidet – and then wash your hands in the sink. More ambitious versions (especially those from Japan, where bidets are popular) even include such sophisticated additions as electricallycontrolled, push-button jets (in which case you stop the jet by either taking your finger off a Laver button or pressing a separate Stop one), warm air to dry you (in which case there may be a Sécher button to set it off) or an in-built deodoriser. There are also variants such as toilets with a bidet jet built in and the bidet escamotable (literally, retractable) which is on rollers and can be moved out of the way when not in use (such as under the sink). If you are on a budget or lack space there is the bidet sur pieds, a plastic bidet on legs that you fill with water and which is not plumbed in. Despite being an item that some people have in the bathroom but do not use, others extol them as more hygienic than just wiping yourself. Some say they are ecological – if you incorporate partial washing of yourself into your routine, you can take fewer showers or baths, thus using less water. You might also use fewer toilet paper sheets. They are said to be especially convenient for elderly or disabled people and for those who suffer from piles. Many also point to the bidet’s versatility: some use them to wash their feet, or even their hair! Others wash their pets in it and some use it as a baby bath, though this is not recommended if you are also using it in the traditional way. If in doubt, remind babysitters not to use it that way, one website helpfully suggests.
A. If your neighbour’s property is close to yours, there is no obvious reason. Assuming the speed test results for both are the same, here is what to check. Make sure your modem is in the best location. Do not put it in a kitchen where white goods and microwaves disrupt the wifi. Also try to avoid locations close to TVs, mirrors, DECT cordless phones, baby alarms and remote surveillance equipment as all these can degrade your wifi signal. Keep in mind that thick stone and brick walls, as well as metal partitions, all disturb wifi signals, which will normally reach 50-100m. If possible, choose a central point in your house and locate the modem at least 1m above the floor. Modems such as SFR’s give the
strongest signal if they are positioned vertically. If you need to access the service a long distance away from the modem, perhaps in a gite, a wifi extender should be considered. These are available from most electrical outlets. If none of these improves the signal, it may be that the wifi channel you are using is congested with many nearby modems using the same one. All modems have multiple channels to choose from but are normally factory pre-set using one or two from the range. Your supplier can check this for you remotely while you are on the phone and, if necessary, move you to a less busy channel. Do remember that connecting your devices using the ethernet cable will always give a faster speed, but many can be connected only using wifi. Each one that is connected will reduce some of the speed, so disconnect those not being used if speed becomes an issue.
See uktelecom.net for more information on services in France. T: UK +44 1483 477 100 T: from France 0805 631 632
Euro Sense Shaun Dash from Currencies Direct, answers a reader question on currency exchange Q: My partner and I plan to buy a ski chalet in 2019. We have the funds ready now but are not going to be able to make the purchase until spring. Is the exchange rate likely to weaken? A: The key driver of the GBP/EUR exchange rate is currently Brexit, and with the exit deadline fast approaching we can expect further currency volatility in the months ahead. Whether the GBP/EUR exchange rate rises or falls over the next few months will depend on how negotiations progress. If it looks like the UK will be leaving the EU with a deal the pound could rally but if a no-deal outcome appears more likely the prospect of yet more uncertainty will probably send sterling lower. If you would like to get the best return for your currency transfer it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest news, so you might want to consider opening an account with a leading currency provider. It is free to open one and they will send you regular exchange rate updates straight to your inbox. Their currency experts will also be on hand to talk through your requirements and the different services they offer. For example, if you are concerned the GBP/EUR exchange rate could weaken you may want to look into using a forward contract to fix the exchange rate for up to a year. While this means you would miss out if the exchange rate suddenly strengthened, you would be protected if it fell and you would know exactly how much your transfer is going to be worth. You could also set rate alerts so you get instant updates when exchange rates rise or fall to specific levels. Good luck with your chalet purchase, and remember, if you need to move funds to France to cover the costs of your ski trips a currency provider can help make your money go further with fee-free transfers and excellent exchange rates. Email your currency queries to email@example.com
For more information about making international money transfers with Currencies Direct visit the website www.currenciesdirect.com/france or call +33 (0)4 22 32 62 40
The fight against teenage addiction Consumption of tobacco and alcohol by the young is going down but it remains significant and France is among the worst in Europe for regular cannabis smoking. Jane Hanks travelled to Bordeaux to talk to government addictions chief DR CATHERINE BERNARD about what needs to be done.
Photo: Jane Hanks
smoked it in the hippy 60s and 70s.
Efforts to reduce addiction are being increased, Dr Bernard says WE must change attitudes, says Dr Catherine Bernard, who is responsible for health at Mildeca, the government agency which draws up strategies to combat addictive behaviour. It must not be accepted as normal behaviour for young people to be smoking in front of schools, drinking regularly and smoking cannabis. She spoke to Connexion ahead of November, designated as a Mois sans Tabac (tobacco-free month), one of the government’s campaigns. Why is it important to do more to reduce these behaviours at a young age? The younger children start smoking or drinking, the more dangerous it is for the development of their brain because it does not reach maturity until 25. Connections are still forming and can easily be destroyed. Teenagers will always experiment, but the later the better and even better if they do not. I do not advocate prohibition and there is no need to worry if it is just occasional but regular use of any of these substances for teenagers is dangerous to health.
We must not be overdramatic, but at the same time we must not allow these practices to be seen as commonplace and usual. Smoking a joint once at a party is not the same at 12, 14, 16 or at 18. If you are going to smoke it from time to time, for example, far better to start at 35 than as a teenager. Some individuals are more vulnerable than others to addiction and this can be linked to emotional and physical health. If they are not socially confident or have asthma, they are more at risk.
Parents often feel isolated but there is plenty of help
Dr Catherine Bernard Government addictions chief
Is cannabis a more serious problem than tobacco or drinking? We should not just concentrate on cannabis but on all of these practices as a whole. Smoking is very serious and can start in collège. We know that children usually start so as to fit in with their friends. Studies have shown that the first time they try they usually find it disgusting and they have to overcome that to continue, but it quickly becomes addictive. Illnesses related to smoking are the first cause of death among young people. Also it is very rare that someone who tries cannabis does so if they are not a smoker. The younger people start with all these substances, the more dependent they become. Why are the figures for cannabis high in France? We do not really know why this figure is higher than in other European countries. There are many factors. One thing to point out is that cannabis is much stronger now because of the way it is grown so the THC levels are higher than when their grandparents
What can parents do? I think parents should discuss these issues with their children, be open with them and make them aware of the risks. If they have tried cannabis at a party, ask them what effect it had. If they drink, make it clear that getting drunk every weekend is not a good idea; that it can damage their health, lead to a car accident or to them having sex they will regret afterwards. It is better to be able to talk about this before a bad event than afterwards, not in an accusatory tone but a benevolent one. You would not let your fouryear-old ride a bike on his own before he had tried with stabilisers. It is exactly the same kind of situation, accompanying your child through new experiences. However it is more difficult to talk to a teenager... Yes, it is not necessarily easy when they will not listen. It is easier if you start early on to build a good relationship where you can talk with your children. You do not have to be an expert to explain basic risks and the fact that many practices are illegal, such as buying tobacco or alcohol underage. And even if you smoke, it does not mean you cannot advise your children not to do so; you can explain how difficult it is to give up. When should a parent worry their child has gone beyond experimentation? If you suspect his or her consumption is frequent and there is a change in behaviour and your child starts missing school, has few friends, loses motivation, is aggressive, and school marks go down dramatically. What should a parent do in this situation? First talk to the child. It is never too late. If that does not work,
then perhaps ask someone your child gets on with to talk to them. You can talk to your GP. There are also help centres and helplines which give free advice. If you do not speak French, why not ring an NHS line? There are also Consultations Jeunes Consommateurs centres which you can call to make an appointment. They are free and you or your child can go alone or together. Parents often feel isolated but there is help. What about the state’s role? Everyone knows who the cannabis smokers are outside the lycée gates but nothing gets done This worries me. It shows a lack of awareness in our society of the gravity of the problem. The government’s latest programme against addictions will try to redress this kind of situation. A school could make the outside space a non-smoking area in consultation with the council. They could ask the municipal police to enforce it. A number of councils have now signed up to work with us to find solutions. Another problem is tobacconists selling to under-16s. We have introduced health awareness into their training programme so they realise how important it is not to sell to young people. We must make young people aware of the risks.
For help contact:
Drogues Info Service 08 00 23 13 13 8.00-2.00 7/7 free from landline; Ecoute Cannabis 09 80 98 09 40 8.00-2 7/7 free from landline; Alcool Info Service 09 80 98 09 30 8.00-2.00 7/7 free from landline; Tabac Info Service 39 89 Mon–Sat 8.00-20.00 €0.15/min; Consultations Jeunes Consommateurs drogues.gouv. fr/etre-aide/ou-trouver-laide/consultations-jeunes-consommateurs For counselling in English: http://counsellinginfrance.com
17-year-olds drinking and smoking less A QUARTER of 17-year-olds smoke at least one cigarette a day and 8.4% drink 10 times a month or more, according to the latest figures. Seven per cent smoke cannabis regularly, the ESCAPAD 2017 official survey of drug, tobacco and alcohol consumption shows. The latest figures are the lowest since 2010 but the report says efforts at reduction should not be relaxed. The average age for trying tobacco is 14.4. For cannabis, 39.1% have tried it, the lowest ever, with 15 being the average age when they tried it first. Most were given it by friends and twice as many boys as girls smoke it regularly. One in six had never had alcohol but half had drunk five or more glasses at least once in the last month. Some 6.8% had taken something illegal other than cannabis, such as ecstasy, speed, crack, LSD, heroin, magic mushrooms or glue. Boys were found to be more likely to experiment than girls and young people in southern regions were more likely to have tried cannabis than in the north (with the exception of Brittany). Corsica, Brittany and Normandy have the most smokers. School attendance is relevant: 57% of those who had left school smoke regularly, compared to 47.3% of apprentices and 22% of those in school. Cannabis is used regularly by 21.1% who have left education, compared to 6% of those at lycée. The survey canvassed 46,000 young people in an anonymous questionnaire at their Journée d’Appel, the day young French nationals have to spend with the army.
How are you married? And I’m not talking about church... Money Matters
Robert Kent of Kentingtons explains. www.kentingtons.com When I ask people how they are married, they look at me perplexed. My favourite reply is still “in a church!”. When talking about marriage, in this instance, I mean the marriage regime. In France and many parts of the world, the legal marriage regime, or marriage contract, dictates how the estate of the couple is dealt with in death (and in life), so it becomes important for financial planning. Marriage regimes are under the control of international law, specifically the Hague Convention. The UK did not sign this particular convention, so the British do not have marriage regimes, hence the perplexed and humorous replies to my questions.
The British do, however, have a “deemed” marriage regime and it is important to know what this is, or people unwittingly create problems for themselves and/or their spouses. Your marriage regime is not, in fact, dictated by your nationality or even where you got married (those married in Vegas by Elvis can relax), but is based on where your deemed first marital home was. The generally accepted rule is that this is where you spent your first two years after the marriage (for couples who have moved around a lot this can get complicated). This means that, for most British people, it is the UK and they are considered, by the French, to be married under the regime of séparation de biens or separate estates. It is worth noting that marriage regimes can change by themselves, after a certain period of time spent in France, known as mutabilité automatique. Sometimes having a regime of separate estates is suitable - usually where there are children from a former marriage, as any other regime can get in the way. For the majority, however, this does not work
well at all and can cause significant issues for the survivor, such as losing control over their home and assets, which is rarely the desired outcome. The good news is that you can change your marriage regime and expatriates can do this simply and cheaply. Note, however, that the simple option is a “one time only” deal. If your change is in error, it gets more complicated and a lot more expensive to correct it, so it is worth ensuring that any changes are right. A common error, for example, is where those with children from former marriages have changed their regime to one of communauté universelle on the advice of friends and neighbours and have then realised that while this might suit their nonprofessional advisers, it is a nightmare for them. Another common error is where the notaire has not understood the couple were living in France and changed the regime only partially, potentially leaving the survivor with a complicated mess. What marriage regime you should have is dictated by your family situation: whether there are children from former
marriages, what the objectives are for the estate, any businesses owned and by whom (this is for the protection of certain assets from creditors) and what any future plans might be. A marriage regime change is not for everybody and there are other solutions. However, even if you are using other solutions, it is absolutely vital that your marriage regime, whether deemed or by contract, does not conflict with these other plans, or it may negate them and cause a mess. Knowing your position is essential before considering any kind of planning. There are other reasons for changing your marriage regime. In most cases it makes sense to set up any investments, such as an assurance vie, in joint names (where there are no children from former marriages involved) and so a marriage regime change may be essential before starting such investments. People are all different when it comes to what they are comfortable with and what their objectives are, so a tailored approach to succession planning is essential.
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a vine romance
Patricia Atkinson on 25 years in the Dordogne
2 Around France in wine
French Living I November 2018
Explore rural France with a wine themed mini-break As vignerons across France reap this year’s grape harvest. Samantha David selects some of her favourite wine regions to explore on holiday. There is something for all wine lovers...
Photos: Beaune Tourisme/Chateau de Pommard; Domaine Alain Geoffrey
ne of the delights of France is its wine, and as a major wine producer, there are vignerons all over the country doing magic with grapes and producing more wines than most of us will ever taste. In fact, there is so much wine, it can be hard to know what’s what, and where it comes from. But even if your interest in wine is fleeting, these regions are wonderful places to explore. We look at a selection of wine regions from the north of the country. Look out for another article in the spring, exploring some more wine-producing regions!
Being so close to Germany, wines from Alsace are different from other French wines. They are mainly fragrant dry or fruity white wines with a pale colour, in the German tradition. Some of the best-known are Riesling, Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer. Alsace vineyards are situated on the lower eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains in the Rhine Valley between Strasbourg and Mulhouse. Strasbourg is one of France’s most beautiful cities; the historic centre (La Petite France) on the Grande Ile is surrounded by the Ill river and the Canal du FauxRempart meaning that with its half-timbered houses, cobbled streets and multiple bridges over the water, it is often compared to Venice. The Hospice of Strasbourg claims to own the oldest bottle of wine on the planet dating from 1472, which you can see on a free visit to their wine cellars. Get details and a map from the tourist office (it can be tricky to find) and while you’re there, ask about a day tour to the Alsace vineyards, or even better, about the Route des Vins d’Alsace (www.routedes-vins-alsace.com). In 2019, June 2 is ‘Slow Up’ day when cars are banned from the route, turning it over to walkers, roller skaters, and cyclists and all the wine cellars offer free tastings. And if that’s too energetic, how about a Segway tour? If you happen to be in the region in October, and fancy grape-picking, check out the ‘Vendangeur d’un jour’ (‘Grape-Picker for a Day’) scheme. But before setting off, do visit a winstub, a traditional bar serving Alsace wines, and more fun than the modern, international, trendy winebars springing up all over town. Mulhouse is a thriving industrial city, with less aesthetic charm than other cities in the region like Colmar. It is, however, well worth the visit for its museums. Train-spotters will want to relocate and move into the Cité du Train, Europe’s largest railway museum. Petrolheads will
be in similar ecstasy over the Cité de l’Automobile, which contains 400 vehicles including two of only six Bugatti Royale’s extant in the world.
North of Lyon, the narrow strip of land on the eastern slopes of the hills running south-east from Dijon are home to the wines of Bourgogne, or Burgundy. Burgundy is particularly associated with dry red wines made from pinot noir grapes, which can be laid down for 20-30 years. It does, however, also produce whites made from chardonnay grapes as well as wines (including whites and sparkling wines) made from other grape varieties (‘cépages’). Look out for 2003, said to be an exceptionally good year. The heart of the wine-making region is Beaune, where every autumn wines are sold for charity in the historic Hospices de Beaune. One of the high points of the annual calendar, it takes place on 16-18 November this year. In fact, the sales only actually take place on the Sunday; the rest of the weekend being taken up with tastings, tours of wine cellars, large meals, music and dancing. Tickets should be booked in advance, all details are on www. beaune-tourisme.fr. All year round, you can visit the Hospices on the same ticket as the art museum and the Musée du Vin de Bourgogne, which explains the history
Above and inset: vineyards at Château de Pommard in beautiful Beaune wine country, Burgundy; a spiral detail from the corkscrew museum at Domaine Alain Geoffroy near Chablis, also in Burdundy
Even if your interest in wine is fleeting, these regions are wonderful places to explore
of Burgundy’s vineyards (which have Unesco heritage status) and includes an ‘aroma room’ as well as exhibitions and a quiz for all the family. Halfway between Dijon and Beaune is Nuits-St-Georges, famous for its red wines. So much so that 97% of its production is red, but it does also make white and sparkling wines (Crémants de Bourgogne) and the Imaginarium gives a really good introduction into exactly how the wines are made. The visit starts with a 40 minute film, and then visitors explore a hands-on interactive exhibition before enjoying a wine tasting. Dijon is, of course, the French capital of mustard, and the beautiful, grey, stone historic centre (a Unesco heritage site) is jam-packed with shops selling all kinds of different flavours, along with local vinegars, jams, flavoured oils, biscuits and other foodie delights. Follow the well-marked, circular ‘Parcours de la Chouette’ walk, which takes in 22 different things to see. (Look up so you don’t miss the amazing coloured roof tiles, and use a paper map from the tourist office rather than the app as network/wifi isn’t always available.) The Dijon International Gastronomy Fair is a major event in France, attracting around 200,000 people annually. This year it takes place from 1-11 November, with 600 stands, cookery demonstrations, tastings, and a mini-farm amongst the attractions. The guest of honour is Italy. More details from www.foirededijon.com The vineyards of Burgundy are so close at hand that you can cycle to some of them, the Chambertin domaine, for example, is only 15kms (nine miles) outside Dijon. The tourist office offers maps and tickets for independent souls, and
good-value guided tours for those who prefer their day planned in advance. The city is also packed with winebars and cellars offering tastings, making it a delight for anyone interested in wine. Move northwards to Chablis, 20km east of Auxerre, to taste flinty whites made from Chardonnay grapes grown in a cooler climate. It is a lively and prosperous town with a bustling Sunday market. Halfway between Auxerre and Chablis is the Domaine Alain Geoffroy, where you can not only visit the domaine and taste the wines, but you can also visit their Wine and Corkscrew museum. A particularly interesting visit for wine lovers.
Wines are produced along the Loire river valley, from the Muscadet region near Nantes to the Sancerre and PouillyFumé regions south-east of Orléans, taking in Anjou, and Chinon. It is known for producing dry whites that go perfectly with fish and seafood, rosés, ‘vin gris’ (a very pale rosé) and a few pale reds. It is also the second largest producer of sparkling wines in France outside Champagne; the best known of which are probably Vouvray and Saumur. The Loire valley stretches halfway across the country from the Atlantic Coast right into the centre of France, and is usually sub-divided into regions; the ‘Pays Nantais’, ‘Anjou’, Saumur’, ‘Touraine’, and ‘Centre-Loire’. For the energetic, La Loire à Vélo stretches 900kms along cycle paths and quiet country lanes along the Loire Valley from Cuffy in the Cher département all the way west to Saint-Brevin-les-Pins where the Loire flows into the Atlantic. It is part of Eurovélo 6, the 3,600km
Around France in wine 3 Photos: JB Laissard; Agne 27
Photo: C.Fleith ADT
November 2018 I French Living
From grape to glass: Beaujolais Nouveau First cab off the wine rank this autumn in France will be the Beaujolais Nouveau. Samantha David explores the origins and party traditions around this fruity youngster
I EU-funded cycle route that connects the Atlantic to the Black Sea. A million cyclists pedal along sections of La Loire à Vélo every year, enjoying the fabulous chateaux, the wine-tastings, and the scenery flanking the hills. The route is plentifully provided with around 600 cycle shops (sales, hires and repairs), cycle parks, hotels, guesthouses youth hostels, restaurants, bars and cafés, and runs through Orléans, Blois, Amboise, Tours, Saumur, Angers and Nantes, all attractions in their own right. In Blois, visit the Maison du Vin opposite the chateau. It is run by an association regrouping all the ‘vignerons’ of the Loir-et-Cher so it’s a great place to find out more about vineyards to visit. They also offer tastings, have wines for sale and run short introductory sessions to understanding wine-making, and learning how to taste wine like a pro. Amboise is extraordinary. The very beautiful Château d’Amboise which dominates the town’s half-timbered, medieval centre, was once home to the French royal court; Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life there, and died 500 metres away, in a manor house in Clos Lucé; Joan of Arc passed through the town in 1429 on her way to Orléans; and Mary Queen of Scots spent much of her early life in France there (she lived in France from 1548 when she was only six until 1561 when she returned to Scotland). So as well as being surrounded by wine-makers, the town is also packed with fascinating history.
The city of Tours has many attractions, and the Touraine Wine Museum (in the cellars of the 13th century Saint-Julien Abbey) is perhaps one of the smaller
ones. It is, however, well worth a visit before striking out to explore the wine domaines in the region. It has information about local wine-making history, a display of costumes belonging to wine brotherhoods of Touraine along with collections of ceramics, glass, and silverware. Place Plumereau in the medieval district, Vieux Tours, contains a good selection of bars and pubs where you can relax with a glass of local wine. A curiosity is a huge cedar tree in the garden of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, said to have been planted by Napoleon. In the same garden, check out the alcove containing Fritz the elephant, who escaped from the Barnum and Bailey circus during their stay in Tours in 1902, and was duly shot and stuffed. The town of Saumur boasts a wide variety of wine-related activities, including a tour of the vineyards in a horse-drawn cart, and their Maison des Vins d’Anjou et de Saumur. The ‘Secret des Papilles’ (The Secret of Taste Buds) is a centre offering short courses designed to teach tourists (whether already knowledgeable or not) more about the local wines. They run fun guided tours (three hours or all day) explaining everything from the effect the soil and climate has on wine, right through to wine-making vocabulary and what to look out for when tasting it. They also run lamp-lit evening tours, and all of them include wine-tasting at the end. Angers is a great gateway to Anjou, famous for its rosé. The city is an attraction in itself. For wine lovers however, the Château de Brissac, in BrissacQuincé, just south of Angers, is possibly even more attractive as they offer a wine tasting at the end of the guided tour. (They also offer B&B at the hefty price of €390 per night.)
Above: Exploring Mittelbergheim’s vineyards by bike on a section of the Alsace wine route
n the Beaujolais wine producing region, just to the south of Burgundy, it was traditional to make a young wine. a vin de l’année to drink at the end of the same year. In fact between 1937 and 1951, it could only be sold after December 15th of the year in which it was made, but the date was changed to November 15 in 1951. Selling a new wine very soon after the harvest was good for cash-flow, and with the right marketing it was an excellent way of clearing a lot of vin ordinaire at a good profit. And so the idea of having a race was born; who could be the first to get the Beaujolais Nouveau to Paris? By the 1970s this had become a national event, and by the 1980s had expanded across Europe until by the end of the century, people worldwide were racing to get this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau into their glasses as soon as possible after November 15th. These days the wine is shipped in advance and ‘released’ on the third Thursday of November. Beaujolais Day this year will be on November 15. A light red wine made from hand-harvested, Gamay black grapes, Beaujolais Nouveau sometimes is not actually very good, and is often served chilled, but accounts for around 25% (ie 27.5 million cases) of all Beaujolais produced annually. Intended for quaffing rather than sipping, having been bottled so young, it is not a wine that improves with age so there is no point in laying it down. Some people do, however, collect the labels, which are often highly decorative. The success of Beaujolais Nouveau has been copied by other regions who now also make vin primeur like the Gaillac AOC from near Toulouse. In Italy they
make vino novello and in Spain, vino joven and in the US, ‘nouveau wine’. If you happen to be in the area during the last two weeks of November, try and catch one of the 120-odd Beaujolais Nouveau in the region. Probably the best known is ‘Les Sarmentelles’ in Beaujeu, the region’s capital. It starts the evening before Beaujolais Day and lasts for five whole days. There is obviously a lot of local cuisine on offer as well as wine, a wine-tasting competition in which contestants taste each of the 12 kinds of Beaujolais produced in order to win their own weight in Beaujolais-Villages. A torchlit parade and fireworks at midnight (when the new wine is released) herald the start of an entire night of drinking and dancing until dawn. Beaujolais Nouveau is made using carbonic maceration, which is what gives it a lighter taste, but other ‘non-nouveau’ Beaujolais wines are made from Gamay grapes, which are low in tannins, using traditional methods which offer a range of other flavours. The majority of wines made in the region are red, although 1% of the production is white wine made from Chardonnay grapes. Although the Beaujolais wine producing region spreads over the region of Bourgogne (Burgundy) as well as the Rhône département north of Lyon, it is sufficiently different in character to be considered separately from Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is possibly a little less popular in France than it used to be, but is still a fun drink for November. It is not supposed to be taken too seriously, and is perhaps approached in the same spirit as people now drink rosé-and-grapefruit – which has seen its popularity soar in recent years, particularly in summer.
French Living I November 2018
‘People smile when they see a sad building, dressed up as if for a party’ Jane Hanks meets a lighting expert who brings Lyon to life for the Fête des Lumières
church and look at it in a new way. I tried to show its mysterious side and worked a great deal with lights which give a warm glow and shadows. For thousands of years, we relied on fires to give us light, rather than artificial light and these provoked shadows which we still relate to today. For me, shadow is as important as light when creating a show.
very year, for four nights in early December, over 2 million people visit Lyon for the Fête des Lumières, when a variety of different artists light up buildings, streets and parks with over 50 light installations which create a magical atmosphere. One of the lighting designers is 59 year old Daniel Knipper, who has been creating light shows all over France and the world since the 1980s. He told Jane Hanks what effect he wished to create for the public: “I want to open people’s eyes to see the building I am lighting in a new way. When people are walking in a town they look down at their feet or at their smartphone and I want people to break out of the bubble they live in, look up and see new horizons. I use lighting, rather than video which means I don’t impose an image on a building, but I reveal what is there in the building itself, and each one has its own story. I work with methods which come from the theatre and I use spotlights, with different colours and different qualities and I work with shadow as well as with light. The architecture of the building is very important. I have worked a great deal with Strasbourg cathedral (pictured, inset) and the building itself has a lot of things to recount and to light it up is to reveal its stories such as its relationship with the people who built it.” How did you become a lighting designer? I was working in theatre lighting and then I was asked to do a son-et-lumière for Strasbourg cathedral, which I continued to do for more than 20 years and where I learnt a great deal about my work. People were also very important. If I had not met Henri Alekan, the cinema photographer who in his later career concentrated on lighting buildings, and studied his books such as Des lumières et des ombres, I would not be doing what I am today. How do you start working on a project? First I need to study the building and decide what would suit it and imagine what it will look like lit up. I have to go to the site several times to understand it. I have to consider whether it is a two-minute show with lights or is it one which will require changing lights throughout an evening? I can use up to 600 spotlights for one show and I have to work out where to place each one for the best effect and which colours to choose and what quality of light I need. Sometimes you cannot put the lights where you want because it
What are your inspirations? I take a great deal from great painters, like Georges de La Tour for example, Van Gogh, Miró. The painters are very important for me. Do you always work with historic buildings? Sometimes I work with modern buildings. For example, I did a project with students in a professional lycée and their building was modern and not very interesting. So I tried to come up with a theme that would work and used the paintings of Mondrian as he was someone who used simple ideas and simple, strong colours. It was an extraordinary experience because the students loved this new way of studying as we had to work in the evening up to ten o’clock and it was fantastic to introduce them to an artist. It had an effect on the people who lived in the area as you could see them smiling when they walked past this sad, grey building, dressed up as if for a party.
might be in the way of the public or there is something else in the way, so there are always challenges. I also have to work out how the public will approach the building and see it. In the theatre there is a relationship between the audience and the stage. In light shows the relationship is between the public and the building, so where they are in relation to it and how they approach it is very important. What is the next step after you have worked out the initial idea? It has to be planned on paper and that can take up to a month with visits to and from the site and working on the techniques to turn the ideas into practise. Then it takes about a week to set it up. It is different from video which is created in a studio. A light show is created around the building. Are you present for all the projections of your shows? Yes, because it is important for me to see the reaction of the public and to talk with them to see what they are feeling. What kind of things do people say? They can say lots of things. I can give you an example. I worked in a small village, La Chaise-Dieu in the centre of France and there is a music festival in September
Daniel Knipper gets to grips with his lighting gear; Below: examples of his work in Quito, Ecuador and, inset, Strasbourg Cathedral
In light shows, the relationship is between the public and the building Daniel Knipper
and I was asked to light the Abbey, which is in the centre of the village. I went into a shop opposite to buy something and the shopkeeper thanked me for what I had done. I asked him why, and he said that he had worked in the shop for thirty years. He said he went there in the morning and left in the evening but this was the first time he had ever really looked at the Abbey which had always been right in front of him. What type of projects do you take part in? They vary. For example, in August I was at La Fiesta de la Luz at Quito, Ecuador (right), organised in collaboration with the Lyon light festival. I was invited to work on two projects. One was to work with a video producer on the exterior of a building, and another was to work on the interior of a country church built in wood. The idea was for the local inhabitants to be able to rediscover their
What do you like working on? Each project has its own interest, but I like working on projects which advance my art. Recently I worked on a project with video producers and I am keen to work in this way because we have different ways of working. They focus on the front of the building and I work from the angles and together we can combine two methods of creation to come up with a new creative form of expression. There is a lot to discover still in this job and it does not stop evolving. The importance of the Fête des Lumières in Lyon is that many different creators work together and we learn from each other. It is always difficult to come up with something new and we always try to create something that takes us out of our comfort zone, so there is always an element of danger. What is the joy of working in this job? It is the reaction of the people who see your show. I did the lighting for a music festival in Alsace and it satisfied me when the members of the orchestra said the lighting made them feel good. But on top of that, it also made them feel the power and the sense of the building they were playing in. www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr Dec 6-9 2018 www.danielknipper.com
The Funny Side of life in France ISBN : 978-2-9548552-2-6 - Les Editions Anglo-Gascon
‘Le Selle Gascon’
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Funny prints, books & greeting cards about all things ‘French’
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6 Gardens/Green news
French Living I November 2018
Gascony garden is palm paradise Jane Hanks visits the Palmeraie du Sarthou, where even in November the exotic arbres provide compelling viewing
Photos: Palmeraie du Sarthou
here are fewer gardens to visit in November, but one which is well worth a visit and is open all November is the Palmeraie du Sarthou, close to Bétous in the Gers. There you can discover exotic vegetation including palms, banana plants, bamboo, barbary figs, agaves, sugar cane, papyrus, lotus but also, in the same place the local plants of the Gers, including wild orchids, three hundred year old oak trees, willows, and a conservation orchard planted with local varieties of fruit trees, mostly apples. The first palms were planted in 1980 when a local couple, Marie-Christine and Daniel Fort bought a house with a garden. Daniel Fort was a trained horticulturist and he loved the palms he saw growing in the grand houses in Gascony. He could not afford to buy a mature tree and so he collected seeds and through trial and error soon had a collection of young palms, which began to reseed themselves. He continued his day job, but at the same time introduced new plants and developed a nursery with exotic plants he sold to professional gardeners. All was either grown from seed, or from very small plants. Then in 2000 the couple decided to open to the public. In 2006 they were awarded the Jardin Remarquable label. They are both retired now but continue to run the garden themselves with no outside help. A mammoth task, but one they approach with great energy and enthusiasm and a love for the plants they nurture. 2.5 hectares is devoted to the exotic garden and there is a further six hectares where you can walk and discover local fauna and flora. “When visitors arrive, they tell us that they immediately have the impression that they are in a completely new world,” says MarieChristine Fort, “because you go directly into the palm garden. They say they feel as if they are in Asia or somewhere else far away.” You walk through avenues of palm, bamboo, banana plants and lakes with lotus flowers and as the planting is dense you feel you are in a small, tropical forest. The remarkable feature is that the Gers
The palm tree paradise in Gers was created by Marie-Christine and Daniel Fort (inset) in 1980 climate is harsh with temperatures that can go down to -20 in winter and snow: “People don’t realise that many palms come from cold parts of the world, and though they are exotic, they are not all tropical,” says Mrs Fort. “We don’t have to protect our plants in winter because we have chosen varieties which resist the cold. Our main palm is the Trachycarpus fortunei or Chinese Windmill Palm, which comes from the foothills of the Himalayas and it prefers the cold to the heat. Our visitors are very surprised when I show them photos of the palms in the snow. “Other palms come from Mexico, Morocco and Central America. We have around five varieties which can survive temperatures of between -15 and -20 degrees. We have two varieties of banana tree which die back in the cold, but survive because the roots do not freeze. “Most bamboo survive the cold and we even have varieties which can survive -30. Isn’t it good news that you can have
Isn’t it good news that you can have an exotic garden even in the cold? MarieChristine Fort
to this waste problem will be economic,” said the 52-year-old actor at the machine’s unveiling in Antibes. The next step, he said, is to manufacture a larger machine that would be transportable to a polluted area. Photo: Georges Biard/Wkiemedia
Green news Playing a lead role in recycling French actor and environmental activist Samuel Le Bihan (pictured, right) has unveiled a prototype machine which he claims is capable of transforming a kilo of plastic, via a distillation process, into 500 grams of diesel in just one hour. Named Chrysalis, the machine was invented and developed over three years by Christopher Costes, a technician at the Earthwake association which the actor founded in order to help recycle plastic polluting oceans in Africa. “The goal of the association is to develop technologies to re-use plastic waste and stimulate collection, and therefore to recycle waste to create an economy, because in my opinion the real solution
City boosts its eco-credentials Niort in Deux-Sèvres (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) has become just the 11th French city to be awarded a third star for its ‘Ecoclean City’ label, awarded by the Association des Villes pour la Propreté Urbain. The reward for its 49 street cleaners – who studied which streets should be cleaned every day, every week or every quarter – comes thanks to a range of measures using sustainable development, including waste sorting, electric or hybrid cleaning vehicles and wastewater recycling. The city hopes to gain its fourth star in
an exotic garden even in the cold?” She says that the garden often looks at its best in the winter: “The winter light with a light frost in the morning and a hint of mist is often more romantic than in summer and the clarity in the autumn and spring is also magnificent.” But there is a shadow hanging over palm trees in southern Europe as they, like box are threatened with imported pests. There are two which destroy palms; one is the Paysandisia archon (Palm moth) from South America and the second is the red palm weevil from Asia (see Beetle Mania, right). Mrs Fort says that so far they have not been infested but the disease is present in the south of France: “I think we have not been touched because all our plants have been cultivated here and we have never bought palm trees from outside. It is a terrible thing and I urge people to be very careful when they are tempted to buy cheap trees which have come from Italy or Spain, as they may already be infected.” The couple sell young plants and seeds 2019 – this can be attained by involving the local community more in its approach to sustainability. No butts, this is more than a token gesture Since last June, the Leclerc supermarket in Quimperlé, Finistère, has been recycling all the cigarette butts collected on site. They are sent to Bourg-Blanc near Brest where the MéGO factory gives them a second life, at a cost of €8.70 per kilo. The plant is the only complete cigarette butt recycling company in France and it receives between 30,000 and 50,000 cigarette butts every day. The hypermarket, which produces 970 tonnes of waste per year, including 72kg of fag ends, is constantly looking for “solutions to reduce this mass”, explained Nicolas Simon, its quality manager. After being sorted, the butts are ground down and all chemicals and tar removed.
to visitors from their small nursery. It used to be bigger when they sold to specialist nurseries, but she says they can no longer compete with big chain store prices. However, she says planting from seed is an option: “I would say it is not difficult. It is just like planting any other seed, though you must not forget it. Palms make good friends, but only if you nurture them. It takes between 14 and 15 years for a Trachycarpus fortunei palm to reach maturity and start producing its own seeds and it will then be between 2 and 2.5m high. “When schools come I show the pupils how to plant a seed. I find that the children have lost the notion of nature even those who have lived in the countryside and many have never put their hands in the soil. I also teach them how to see and listen to nature. It is difficult at first because they are used to being surrounded by noise but I am very proud when there is silence and the children are listening to the birds. We are very proud when these children come back with their parents to show them where they have been.” After the visit to the exotic garden which includes tropical plants growing in greenhouses you can then walk amongst the local vegetation in a six hectare area, including their orchard and a mosaic of 135 Lagerstroemia they planted three years ago in whites, purples and pinks. Mrs Fort says they have not used chemicals in the area for forty years and the results are positive: “In that time a number of indigenous plants have come back, including a wide variety of orchids, poppies and hyacinths and animals such as salamanders and newts. It means that in forty years nature can clean itself up and that is wonderful.” Mrs Fort says they have several British visitors and often she does a guided visit in English, with, she says a strong Gascony accent and she appreciates help from anyone in the group who speaks good French: “I love to do this and we often have tea at the end and all is done with plenty of laughter and conviviality, so do not hesitate to get in touch.” Open November every day except Thursday 14.00-18.00. www.palmeraiesarthou.com The material then passes through four water treatments before being dried, heated and compressed to solidify it. This material is then used to make ashtrays and street bins – or, in the case of the Leclerc store, shopping trolley tokens. Department ‘en Gard’ against road rubbish Transport authorities in the Gard have installed signs on departmental roads to encourage motorists to stop throwing their waste out of their cars. Vincent Tourreau of the roads maintenance team said: “You can’t imagine what you can find in ditches. Sometimes my teams find tyres or refrigerators. Of the awareness-raising campaign, the vice-president in charge of infrastructure and travel, Martin Delord, said the message to road users is simple: “Roads are not dustbins! People can wait until they have a bin to throw away their rubbish.”
Photos: Cathy Thompson
November 2018 I French Living
How to be ‘water-wise’ in winter
Grower’s digest Spoil a sparrow this winter Among the most vulnerable in some of France’s cooler regions in winter are small birds, which is why it is so important to set up bird feeders (mangeoire) in your garden. This model, called the Mont Blanc, is actually made of recycled plastic despite looking like wood. It will not rot, it is resistant to predators and UV rays, and therefore does not discolour. You can easily fill the feeder simply by lifting the roof. Grease blocks can be placed on both sides in the easy-to-open holders. Price: €89.99 from www.vivara.fr
Photos: Didier Descouans; Bioassays
Beetle mania This grim-looking critter can be the bane of palm-tree owners (see opposite). The palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) is known as the Charançon rouge des palmiers in France and grows to 2-4cm in length. The larvae can excavate holes in the palm tree trunk up to a metre long, which weakens and eventually kills it. One Connexion team member reports successfully combating it with the use of Bioassays’ ‘pitfall trap’ (pictured, below) which attracts the beetle with pheromones – she snared 45 in one month. Price €10.50 from www.bioassays.fr
Do your bit by helping to save water in the garden, writes Cathy Thompson
Social media app Instagram is a brilliant way to enjoy other people’s gardens in France, with everyone from chateau visitors to chambre d’hôtes owners posting seasonal snaps of their gardens (users can search using the hashtag #jardins). This month’s pick features some wonderfully contrasting reds and greys snapped at Domaine de Chaumont in the Loire by weloirefamily
French garden diary
have real objections to watering plants continually on many counts: the water table is already low in this part of France; it costs too much money; and I feel a huge amount of guilt watering a ‘mere’ garden when there are children on the planet who don’t have enough fresh, clean water to drink. There are three classic ways to avoid excessive watering: only grow plants that tolerate dry conditions, mulch your soil to conserve the moisture already in it and water only when necessary. I’m not going to even think about cacti and succulents in what follows – their drought-resistance is already well-known and I can’t grow them outside during my garden’s winter! If you are shopping for plants and find yourself attracted to an unknown specimen in a garden centre, looking carefully at the foliage can give you fantastic clues as to its drought-tolerance. Since the two categories of leaf type I mention below occur in Mediterranean regions, cold mountain areas and windy coastlines, there should be something for every French garden. The most obvious clue is grey and hairy/ felted foliage. All grey-leaved plants have hairs over the surface of the leaf (sometimes, as in the delicious Lotus berthelotii, these are so tiny as to be almost invisible to the naked eye). These hairs reflect heat and also trap moisture in the region of the leaf surface, helping to reduce transpiration, or the plant’s loss of water through its leaves. All of those much-loved greys – lavenders, cotton lavender, artemesias and salvias – are therefore highly drought-resistant (if not always cold-resistant). The second class of plant that is auto-
Attract more wildlife to your garden with high quality food, feeders, nest boxes, plants and more!
matically recognisable as ‘water-wise’ is the vast group that has narrow, evergreen leaves. Think all of the pines and junipers. The grey or blue foliage of the prostrate types of juniper make particularly fine groundcover in hot, dry gardens – coupled with small pines such as Pinus mugo (from the European mountains) you have quite a flashy planting scheme. If you think hard, there is another surprise class of plant that belongs in this group – grasses! These are my ‘go-to’ drought-beaters here in Lorraine. Treat yourself to a few next spring: steely grey Helictotrichon, the bronzes, greens, greys, yellows and stripes of Miscanthus and Calamagrostis, or the pinky-fawn plumes of Stipa. November is a great time for planting trees and shrubs – avoid planting grasses until the spring. While the ground is relatively warm and moist the roots will get a head start on 2019 and have built up some strength to face a new season of (we imagine) more sun and drought. November is also a good time to be
November is great for planting trees and shrubs – avoid grasses until spring
planning drought-beating mulches for 2019. Leafmould is a fabulous mulch if you have deciduous trees. Create a wire cage in an out of the way corner of the
garden and pile your leaves into it, to stop them blowing about while they rot down. As to watering, my advice is about eight litres per tree or shrub, once a week – you have to get the new plant to look after itself, rather than become dependent on you and your hose or watering can. TREES Liquidambar styraciflua, American Sweet Gum for its wonderful autumn colour. Lagerstroemia indica, Crape Myrtle, for its vase shape and purple, blue summer blooms. Vitex agnus-castus, for late summer spikes of blue. Cercis siliquastrum, the Judas tree, for the pink flowers direct from bare bark in spring. Ginkgo biloba, for its leaf shape and autumn colours. SHRUBS I’m in love with blue flowers and so I’d include Indigofera heterantha, Perovskia atriplicifolia and Caryopteris x clandonensis. Try also the smoke bushes, or Cotinus coggygria – though luscious purple-leaved forms such as ‘Grace’ or ‘Royal Purple’ tolerate dry conditions less than the green forms. Tip for the month Don’t forget to get those tulips into the ground. If mulching, make sure that borders are tidied and tulips planted in advance of putting down that cosy winter blanket. OVER TO YOU What were your experiences of this summer’s drought? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 Big interview
French Living I November 2018
A vintage 25-year French affair
Circumstances meant that Patricia Atkinson’s brand new life in France offered anything but rest and relaxation. But as she tells Jane Hanks, the pioneering Dordogne winemaker has no regrets
wenty-five years ago a Channel 4 documentary, French Affair traced the story of four British families who came to make a new life in the Dordogne. Many people still remember Patricia Atkinson from that programme; the woman who came to France with no French and no knowledge of wine. But when her husband fell ill and had to go back to the UK, she found herself alone, having to make the wine her husband had wanted to make, and doing it so successfully that eventually her wines were given a Coup de Coeur in the Hachette wine guide. She became the first woman and the first non-French member to sit on the Bergerac Appellation board. Her story inspired many of us who had that dream of moving to rural France. She is now retired. Patricia Atkinson lives in a house built in the warm stone of the Périgord, with a wonderful view over the Dordogne valley. She is surrounded by her carefully tended vines which she still owns but she has sold her own name and the name of her wine Clos d’Yvigne to her local co-operative and apart from assisting in the blending and approving the wines her name is given to, leaves the hard work to them. There is a quiet beauty in this serene setting in the ancient village of Gageacet-Rouillac near Bergerac, and it is difficult to think how challenging it was for her at first. The first harvest failed, but she just had to keep on going. She tells her story in her book The Ripening Sun. Just how hard was it? Well there were days when everything seemed impossible. Paradoxically, I often felt worse when I had just achieved something. I can remember one incident when I had just received a big UK order and the lorry came to pick up the wine at six in the morning. It was pouring with rain and I had to carry all the boxes of wine to the front of the house and they were getting wet and what a mess it was. When the lorry arrived it hadn’t got a fork lift and I had to lift all the boxes up to the driver and it was still pouring with rain. I walked back to the house and my arms were aching and I just sat down at the table and I cried and thought I just can’t do this. But of course I had done it, and I’d got the order. It was physically really hard to make your wine. Perhaps we don’t realise that when we open a bottle? Yes it was and I did everything. It is very hard going up and down ladders with very heavy pipes and shifting tons of grape skins and rolling barrels and there was also a lot of work outside which I had never done before, like driving tractors and putting equipment on the back of tractors. The positive side of that is I have never been as fit as I was then and never so driven. Because at a given moment I realised that what I was doing was really interesting. When I started I just had to do it, because my husband had gone back and we had no money to pay the electricity bill. And let me say that even then the bank gave me a loan on the amount of wine I was proposing to make so I could
Can you give me an example? Gilles Cholet, whose house I bought and who sold me his vines when he retired, was so helpful. If he heard my tractor making strange noises he would come. Once the spraying tank fell off the back and I could see him running across and I was thinking ‘Oh my God, my God, what am I going to do?’ and he immediately helped me put it together again. How many people would do that? It is dangerous, it is hard work but he helped me. When I broke my leg and had to lie in bed for six weeks for it to mend Michel, the cantonnier (roadmender) and Gilles both came up to see me and said they would spray my vines and they never asked for a centime, they just did it. It is still true today. If they think anything is wrong they will come to help me. Do you think the rural life has changed here in thirty years? Oh yes. When I first came here every house had a pig and chickens and a little potager. Everybody lived from what they grew and raised and that has gone. There isn’t a pig and there isn’t a chicken in this village. Avian flu got rid of the chickens because there was so much paperwork and many of the paysans couldn’t read and write and so they just thought no, they were not going to do this. Quite a few of those people I knew when I first came here, have died now and I miss them. Their sons and daughters don’t work the vines. However, it is good that everybody is better off. Not everybody had hot water and electricity when I moved here.
pay that bill. I mean how extraordinary is that? All these people did all those wonderful things to help me. I mean, I came along and I might have been going to steal their market, though I didn’t, but they didn’t know that and yet they went out of their way to help me. Were you actually the first woman and the first foreigner to be on the appellation board? Yes, I was and I am very proud of that. It was terrifying but as it happens I have got a good nose, and I just had to trust my own judgement. Generally speaking, if you put your nose in a glass and it smells nice it will be good. When was the moment that you thought ‘I am not doing this because I have to, but because I want to’? I can tell you exactly when that was. I’m driving along on a tractor chopping up wood between the vines that I have pulled off earlier, and as I drive along I see two little blobs which look like clear nail varnish on a leaf and I stop the tractor and I think this is evidence of the grape worm which can destroy the vines. First I feel outraged that the worm is on my vines and then I suddenly realise that
I feel very privileged. I have got a beautiful house and I look out of the window every day and think, I am so lucky.
I recognised the problem and it was at that moment I thought, wonderful, fascinating. That was a turning point for me. When you came were you coming to live the French dream? Oh yes, I was not coming to make wine. I had a completely different idea, you know lying around and reading books and going to the market and enjoying the sun as lots of us like to do. Do you think you would have been happy doing that? The person I am today would say no, but who knows if things had been different. What are the advantages of living in a French rural village? Great communality, great kindness. I know I keep using that phrase, generosity of spirit. But it is true. There has not been anybody who hasn’t been kind and generous.
Do you think it is true that many of us don’t realise just how hard rural life is and when we come here to live the dream we are a bit naïve? Yes, that is right. We think of the television programme The Good Life, but that is just middle class people and it is just not like that. People here were doing it to live. I certainly was naïve. We had the idea that it would be nice to have a bottle of wine with your name on it, but now I know what a lot of hard work there is just to do that. And I am sure the newcomers who arrive today are like we were and they have got a lot to learn. What do you think you do learn when you come over here? You have to interact with the people in whose lives you have just dumped yourself. You certainly have to learn French. You can get by I guess, but if you don’t speak French you miss out on the richness of life here. How did you learn French? I started with a dictionary and I was reading Marcel Pagnol’s Souvenir d’Enfances and it took me four hours to read the first paragraph. And then I was quickly overtaken by events when I had to get on the tractor. So when you have to learn, you do. I might have made lots and lots of mistakes but I probably learnt to speak much more quickly than I would have done if I had had lessons.
Big interview/Trending 9 Photo: Myoken/Virtual Escape
November 2018 I French Living
Needs must. Can I just say for anyone who may be reading this article and doesn’t speak French, and is feeling depressed about it that it doesn’t matter if you are making mistakes. The point is to make yourself understood and the very fact that you are trying will mean that those people you are speaking to will love you for it. Is the wine industry still healthy? I think the wine industry is changing. It used to be the first exporter to the UK, but now it is not. The best fine wines will always come from here, but the middle range have been overtaken by miles by other countries. Some of the rules need to be changed. Here you cannot irrigate your vines at all. In the 2003 drought the vines were shrinking. In Australia they can water their vines and that is sensible. I do think there are fewer vines here than when I arrived. There are three types of people who grow vines. There are those who farm vines and who sell to the co-operative and who are paid by the ton. Wine maker number 2 is Gilles who used to own some of my vines and he would start the basic wine-making process and sell it to a merchant and then there are people like me who do everything including bottling and selling and do their best to produce a good wine so they can sell it. There are so many silly rules and people in the third category should be exempt from these.
Do you miss the wine making? I miss it and I don’t miss it. I don’t miss getting up at three in the morning and when I think about it I am so glad I am not going up and down the vines with my tractor, I am so glad I am not going up and down ladders with equipment. I miss it in a romantic way but not really. Do you think we are right to follow a dream to live in France? People who decide to do it are really adventurous. It is not for the faint hearted, because you have setbacks just as you always do in life. Life in France will not always be wonderful and rosy because life isn’t like that. But what you do get from living in France is the generosity of the people and the incredible beauty. It is an amalgam of everything. You have to jump in and if you do so you will only get good things back. What has living in France meant to you? I would say it has been the most wonderful experience. OK, it was hard emotionally, physically and professionally. Of course, I didn’t know anything about wine-making or tractors or anything related to that so I learnt a lot very quickly but in terms of that profession and my life here I feel very privileged. I have got a beautiful house and I look out of the window every day and think, I am so lucky. The Ripening Sun is published by Arrow
Above and below: Patricia grafting in the vines when she was still a wine-maker, which she says she only misses in a romantic way now that she is retired; Opposite: Patricia pictured today
Now get out of that: how escape games broke out Every edition we assess an emerging aspect of French zeitgeist. This month: clue-finding immersive experiences, by Jane Hanks
etting locked into a room for an hour and working out the clues to escape is a game which has become very popular throughout France in a very short period of time. The first Escape Game in France was HintHunt which opened in Paris in 2013 and has seen more than 500,000 players pass through its doors. It now has eight rooms in which teams of three to five players can play one of four games. You can choose between freeing a wrongly convicted man of murder, find a submarine lost in the ocean, navigate a pirate ship in search of treasure or find a fortune hidden in a Japanese apartment. The French use the English name as the French, Jeu d’Evasion Grandeur Nature is a bit of a mouthful. The room in which you play is decorated in the style of the universe in which your game takes place. It is full of objects either in full view or hidden and there are different types of clue. You may have to decode an alphabet or find a number or put objects together to find a solution. These games are designed to be played in a team with everyone working together to solve the puzzle. A game-master will follow your progress via a video link, and can give you hints if he or she sees you are struggling. Teams do not always manage to resolve the enigma, but of course they are allowed to escape from this fantasy world. The concept began in Japan and Hong Kong around 2005 and was influenced by video games, but an Escape Game does not work with screens. You play with tangible objects. The leader in France is Escape Yourself, which has Games Rooms in 22 cities and plans more for 2019. It opened its first one in Tours in February 2015 and its success has allowed it to rapidly expand. Spokesperson for the company, Bertille Debiais, says she thinks the team element is key to its popularity: “I think people are looking for an activity they can do together. Many have played video games but it is often a solitary activity and this gives the chance to play together.” She says most players are aged between 25 and 40, though they have games suita-
ble for all ages, and opportunities for families during the school holidays. There are different levels of games and the hardest ones are so difficult that only around 30% succeed. It is not a cheap pastime with prices at Escape Yourself at €20 an hour per person in a team of four, during off peak. Their new line is a virtual escape game, called Nautilus (pictured). The players are given a lightweight computer which they carry on their back plus a virtual reality headset and controllers. The game lasts 40 minutes. Mrs Debiais thinks this type of game will certainly be developed: “With Escape Yourself, we wanted to offer our players a new kind of experience. Now, with virtual reality, the players can become immersed in universes which are difficult to reproduce in terms of physical décor.” Another area where escape games are developing is in tourism. Escape Yourself has created games linked to historic sites such as the Château d’Amboise, Indre-etLoire and Abbaye de Fontevraud, Maineet-Loire, where the players have to find a
People are looking for an activity they can do together. Playing video games is a solitary activity Bertille Debiais, Escape Yourself
sceptre belonging to Richard the Lionheart. There is even an Escape Game Spirits at a Cognac producer at Ségonzac. In Sarlat, Dordogne, Alexandre Garland has developed a game based on the history of Sarlat in a 15th century tower. He started two years ago: “All this summer we were fully booked. I think people love the idea because it is one of the rare moments when they can be with their friends or family in a space where all their concentration is on playing a game together. escapegame-sarlat.com; www.escapeyourself. fr; hinthunt.fr; www.escapegamefrance.fr
10 November What’s on
French Living I November 2018
The world’s masterchefs take on chocolate Salon du Chocolat, Paris Porte de Versailles, November 1 – 4
Photos: Salon du Chocolat
The humble cacao bean is elevated to gastronomical heights in this five day exhibition that brings over 700 chocolatey exhibitors from five continents to the French capital. Promoting guilt-free indulgence from producers and growers to chocolatiers, pastry chefs and confectioners, this year’s focus is on enhancing flavour while adopting a greener conscience. Patissiers will work towards aligning chocolate’s exquisite flavour with the health benefits of cacao as a ‘raw’ food. Highlights include the final of the International World Chocolate Masters (look out for futuristic displays of confectionery on November 2), innovations in the world of patisserie, cooking demonstrations, ‘elle’ spaces celebrating women in the world of the chocolate industry as well as workshops for kids in the ‘chocosphere’ and a daily fashion show displaying outfits made from – you guessed it – chocolate. www.salon-du-chocolat.com
More November events Jazzdor à Strasbourg, November 9 – 23
Strasbourg’s seminal jazz festival brings the incredible diversity of the genre to the city and the region. Catch top musicians from around the globe performing at fifteen different venues in this festival that has been woven into Strasbourg’s cultural fabric for over twenty years. The 33rd edition of the festival boasts a stellar line up, featuring John Scofield, the David Murray Infinity Quartet and Parisian double bassist Claude Tchamitchian. www.jazzdor.com Documentary Film Month throughout France, November 1 – 30 During this month a whopping total of 3,300 documentary film screenings and events take place in all regions of France and around the world. Now in its 19th year, the documentary film festival sees more than 500 filmmakers tour France alongside their films, hosting speeches and debates. This year notable directors
Christophe Loizillon, Georgi Lazarevski and Stéphane Mercurio will between them visit every region to discuss their work. An in-depth programme categorises showings by genre; visit the site to find a screening in your area: www.moisdudoc.com The Route du Rhum, Saint Malo, November 4 Rum is without a doubt Guadeloupe’s most famous export and this transAtlantic sailing race is a testament to the fact. Gather with the crowds to watch a record number of 122 boats set sail from the Quai Saint Vincent and Quai Saint Louis, travelling a total of 3,542 miles to the French Caribbean island. 40 years on from the first Route du Rhum won by Mike Birch on a canary yellow trimaran, this acclaimed event takes place once every four years, so do not miss it. www.routedurhum.com Les Sarmentelles de Beaujeu, November 14 – 18 This year marks thirty years of celebrating the world’s favourite nouveau red and oenophiles will rejoice at round the clock dégustations of the season’s first Beaujolais. The programme includes gastronomic tasting menus serving Beaujolais-infused dishes, musical performances, markets and tasting evenings in vaulted cellars accompanied, of course, by a glass of the good stuff. Look out for the torch-lit parade and Prestige evening on Wednesday and the family day on Sunday. www.sarmentelles.com/en Bordeaux S.O Good festival, November 16 – 18. The Bordeaux area is, of course, famed for its wonderful array of fine wines. The foodie scene in this South West region is also thriving, benefiting from its proximity to the rich terroir of the Gers, fresh seafood along the coast and its speciality: the sponge-like canelé.
Inside the Grande Halle Gourmande of this gastronomic event, the region’s artisans, producers and winemakers display their goods, while balls and banquets take place inside the magnificent Palais de la Bourse. Enjoy foodie-themed walking tours of the city and tastings of the typical éclades (mussels), cèpes and caviar d’Aquitaine. www.bordeauxsogood.fr Three Continents Film Festival, Nantes, November 20 – 27 Created in 1979 by world travellers Philippe et Alain Jalladeau, this renowned film festival brings stories from across Africa, Asia and Latin America to Nantes’ silver screens. Over 80 diverse film and documentary showings will delight curious cinema-goers in picture houses around the city. From Argentinian New Wave to Nigerian Bollywood and Taiwanese retrospectives, each film carries its own unique cultural identity. www.3continents.com/en Gastronomades, Angoulême, November 23 – 25 A weekend dedicated to the art of good eating awaits at this foodie festival. With a focus on farm to fork consuming, the freshest produce from Charente and Aquitaine are used in tastings, cooking lessons demos and displays of gastronomic cuisine. www.gastronomades.fr Lighting of the Armagnac, Eauze, November 25 – December 3 Samuel Johnson’s words “he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy” ring true, if we consider that Dumas’ protagonist d’Artagnan hailed from France’s brandy-producing region. Known as the ‘flamme d’Armagnac’ this three month travelling celebration sees villages throughout Gascony ‘festoient’ the distilling of a new vintage. For eight days, Eauze’s Château de Millet hosts the alembic (brandy still). There are visits to distilleries, tastings of France’s oldest brandy, gourmet Gascon
dinners and plenty of brulôt – coffee served with brandy and spices. www.grand-armagnac.com Sunset Concerts in Botanical Gardens, Bordeaux, until November 30 Every night from Wednesday to Sunday until the end of November, the Bordelais head to the beautiful surrounds of Bordeaux’s botanical gardens for an evening of jazz, swing, blues or world music as the sun goes down. Hosted by the Caillou restaurant, these diverse musical evenings take place either on the terrace or in the club’s cosy interior. www.lecaillou-bordeaux.com Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: History of a town, Beaune, until February 9 Dotted around this lively town, the expo draws upon resources from its museums and archives to reflect on the evolution of Burgundy’s veritable wine capital. Visit the iconic Gothic hospital Musée de l’Hôtel-Dieu to explore the link between Beaune’s religious heritage and wine, head to the Musée des Beaux Arts to learn about Beaune’s ambitious future projects and take a peek at 15th century tapestries ‘de la Vie de la Vierge,’ while displays across the town’s districts (Blanches-Fleurs, Bretonnière, SaintJacques) focus more closely on their individual histories. www.beaune.fr Japonismes 2018, Paris, until February 2019 Japan’s revered art scenes, both contemporary and traditional, have long seduced arts enthusiasts with minimal aesthetic and nature-inspired designs. Now a little piece of Japan’s ikigai comes to Paris, as an extraordinary array of exhibitions and performances. Japanese film screenings, culinary events and kabuki (traditional Japanese theatre) form part of the eight-month gala that heralds 160 years of Franco-Japanese relations. www.japonismes.org
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
November 2018 I French Living
Big jaws are the biggest draw
A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life
1 Photos: © Florent Drillon / Paris Photo
Tyrannosaurus Rex, the second most complete skeleton in the world, were seen by over 200,000 visitors, including many excited children. Such was the ancient animal’s popular appeal that the museum decided to extend its run until November 4.
Photos: © Delphine Diallo - Fisheye Gallery
3. It’s nice up north So the popular notion goes in France, people in the north are the most friendly, which explains why a host of show business stars including singer Alain Souchon and actors Dany Boon and Line Renaud have contributed to a new album entitled Les gens du Nord, in celebration of the region’s often-mocked people. Featuring covers of great standards of regional popular song and paying tribute to a “public that is warmer than elsewhere”, according to Souchon, the album was launched on the eve of the Lille Braderie, the giant annual brocante. Some revenue from the 15-track album will go to Ch’ti Fonds, a humanitarian
4. Another brush with fame At Eternity’s Gate, a much anticipated new film depicting Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s final years in France (Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône and Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d’Oise, where he died aged 37 in 1890), has received favourable reviews at its Venice Film Festival premiere – most notably for Willem Dafoe’s depiction of the troubled painter. Directed by American Julian Schnabel, who made the critical triumph The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and co-written with Frenchman JeanClaude Carrière, the film is deliberately ‘impressionistic’ as opposed to traditionally biographical, with selected moments and incidents in Van Gogh’s life recreated to reveal his state of mind – and especially his addiction to the nature he loved to paint. Oscar Isaac plays Van Gogh’s friend and rival Gauguin. Out November 16.
4 5. Masterpiece to be renovated Restoration of one of France’s most impressive artworks, the 1516 Isenheim altarpiece (called a retable in French) by German painter Matthias Grünewald, has been relaunched. The 3.30x5.90m altarpiece is currently not viewable by the public at the Unterlinden Museum, a former Dominican convent in Colmar (Haut-Rhin in Grand Est). Efforts to restore the colours of the Gothic masterpiece were halted in 2011 when experts said work was damaging the painting. Now, thanks to a €1.2m restoration fund from government donations, the museum itself and private funding, work will resume. “The altarpiece is now very dirty, both in its shutters and in its sculptures. This restoration aims to better preserve it and restore it to its former glory,” explained Blandine Chavanne, co-chair of the project’s steering committee.
Exhibition: Picasso and the Spanish Masters, Carrières de Lumières, Les Baux-de-Provence, until January 6 In a no less than spectacular combination of traditional art and digital media, a century of Spanish painting is projected onto the enormous walls of this former quarry. A moving musical score accompanies the art; walking through the limestone caves is an immersive sensory experience which enhances
the sheer power of the artwork. The spectator is truly enveloped in the world of the Spanish masters. Divided into two parts, the first celebrates Goya’s pastoral scenes, Rusiñol’s enchanted gardens and Sorolla, “master of light”. Picasso’s inestimable oeuvre takes over in the second half, displaying his Cubist, blue and rose periods. An ode to creativity and art’s emotional force. www.carrieres-lumieres.com/fr/picasso-etmaitres-espagnols
Photo: © Wikimedia/Joergens.nl
Photos: © Succession Picasso 2018
Paris Photo, Grand Palais, November 8 - 11 Since the inception of daguerreotype in the 19th century, France’s reputation as a photography pioneer finds no better expression than in this annual exhibition. The largest international exhibition showcasing solely the photographic medium, this year’s Paris Photo displays the work of 200 exhibitors from around the world. Expect solo and duo shows in the galleries, large-format and installation works as well as films in the mk2 cinema room. A curated space ‘Curiosa’ explores photography relating the theme of gender and the erotic body while visitors can view JP Morgan Chase’s private photography collection. The jam-packed programme of events includes book launches, signing sessions, lectures and interactive talks with the artists. Look out for exhibitions at the Petit Palais, Jeu de Paume, Fondation Cartier and Palais de Tokyo. www.parisphoto.com
2. Culture Pass test phase France’s “Culture Pass” scheme, which will see young French people receive €500 each to spend on cultural activities such as tickets to the cinema, a concert, theatre production or cultural books in the year after they turn 18, is being trialled this autumn. Some 10,000 teenagers in five departments (Bas-Rhin, Guyana, Hérault, Finistère and Seine-Saint-Denis) were being recruited as Connexion went to press. There will be capped limits on using the money to spend on content providers such as Netflix, Spotify, CanalPlay and Amazon, while only €100 can be spent on items such as CDs, books and DVDs.
and cultural charity working in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.
Photo: © Marten van Dijl_Naturalis-Biodiversity-Centre
1. Do you think he saw us? One of the more unheralded museum successes of the summer in Paris, despite the scorching temperatures and lack of air conditioning in the main exhibition room, was the show dedicated to a dinosaur nicknamed ‘Trix’ at the city’s Natural History Museum. The 67 million-year-old remains of a
French Living I N
Charcuterie made easy Miranda Ballard talks about her new book on how to enjoy, serve and cook with cured meats and also presents two favourite recipes
hat do I look for/ ask for when I’m shopping? I took a course with the Guild of Fine Foods in London, and there I learned a good test for texture. If you shut your eye and lightly press on your eyelid, that’s the texture under your finger that you’re looking for with cured meat. It needs to be soft and have some give. If you’re buying a whole stick or joint of cured meat, it’s likely you’re spending a good bit of money, so don’t be timid. Ask the person at the counter if you can have a latex glove or a bit of clingfilm/plastic wrap and if you can prod the outside; they should let you. If it’s softer than your eyeball and really ‘gives’ it might be tainted or have been stored at too warm a temperature – not good. If it’s really solid under your finger, it might be old or overaged and it will be very chewy and hard – not good either. If you’re buying it ready-sliced, the producer should have picked up on any problems before slicing and wrapping it so it’s a safe-bet. As I have said, good cured meat doesn’t come cheaply – because of the cost of manufacture, care and skilled labour that goes into making it. That means you shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask questions, nor to ask to taste a small piece if they’re slicing it fresh for you. It won’t cost the shop much at all to give you a little sample, and they should see that as a good investment. Of course, don’t be cheeky and ask to try them all, at least not without buying something! Create a perfect charcuterie board It is the French we have to thank for the word ‘charcuterie’, as pork products are so important to them that pigs get their own specialist butcher. A few years ago, I cycled through Western France, through some incredible wine regions. I ate Pain au Raisin until around 11 am, when I moved onto cheeses, and, after parking up my bicycle around 5 pm, would eat cured meats, rillettes and pâtés (and drink a lot of wine...). It was no surprise that although I cycled about 50 miles a day, I still
Good cured meat doesn’t come cheaply – because of the cost of manufacture, care and skilled labour
managed to put on weight! But completely, utterly worth it, too. Here are some ideas for the perfect charcuterie board. There is a wide variety of hams (jambon) in France. Some are raw and air-cured (jambon cru), and others are smoked or cooked. Look for regional varieties marked Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which ensures products are genuine. The most ubiquitous PGI ham is Jambon sec – a dry-cured ham made from pigs that meet a minimum weight, and which has been drycured for at least three months. Hams in this category include those produced in the Ardennes, Auvergne, Bayonne, Lacaune, Najac and Savoie regions. Jambon sec supérieur is a variation that comes from pigs raised and butchered by traditional methods, such as Bigorre Ham from free-range Gascony black pigs raised in the Pyrénées mountains. Jambon de Bayonne is a particular speciality of the Pays Basque region in southwest France and is prized for its rich, nutty flavour. It comes from pigs that enjoy a ‘clean’ diet, which includes chestnuts, acorns and beechnuts. The hind leg meat is salted (with local Salies-de-Béarn salt), then air-dried and matured for up to 10 months. Jambon d’Ardennes is produced in northeastern France and has long been renowned the world over for its texture and very mild, slightly sweet flavour. This is not to be confused with Ardenne Ham, which is salted
and air-dried for several months and has a fine, dry texture. This ham is produced in Belgium. Saucisson sec is a dry-cured sausage. Much like Italian Salami, it uses neck and shoulder muscle, minced/ground and comminuted with seasoning and spices, usually fresh garlic, black peppercorns and sea salt. It is hand-tied and cured for 30 days. Don’t forget the pâté The most famous pâté is foie gras, which is cooked and minced/ground fattened goose liver, seasoned, chilled and topped with melted butter (which seals the cooked meat underneath and extends the shelf-life). Concerns about animal-cruelty surround the controversial production of fois gras, so I would opt for a good chicken liver pâté, which makes an excellent alternative. Pâté is usually served as a spread to go on crisp Melba toasts, or try potted rillettes (right). These are similar to pâté but they are slow-cooked, are not puréed and don’t traditionally contain liver. Their texture is rougher, more like shredded meat, and they are often spooned, rather than spread, onto a slice of crusty baguette. The technique and method can be used with other meats like beef and game. Terrines (or pâtés au terrine) are similar to pâtés but made with more coarsely chopped ingredients, baked in a loaf mould, sliced and served cold or at room temperature, in slices.
Tarte au saucisson sec with caramelised red onion, brie and tarragon pastry Serves 2 Ingredients 1 red onion, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons runny honey 100g butter (at room temperature) 220g plain/all-purpose flour a big pinch of sea salt a big pinch of dried tarragon 200g Brie, sliced 7–8 slices saucisson sec (about 60g) 100ml crème fraîche/ sour cream freshly ground black pepper dressed salad leaves/greens, to serve tart pan or baking sheet, greased
Extract and recipes from Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard, published by Ryland, Peters and Small, 2018. Photographs by Steve Painter
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Put the onion in an ovenproof dish, drizzle over the honey and stir to mix. Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until caramelized. Meanwhile, to make the pastry base, rub the butter and flour together in
a bow then a about mix to mixtu pastry a flou 2. Use th the pa gently sides to a g have a sure y ping d 3. Prick with a on its minu the pa caram 4. Put th the on crème top. A 5. Bake furthe dresse ice-co
Food notes 13
wl with your fingers until crumbly, add the salt and tarragon. Add t 1 tablespoon cold water and o make a dough, but don’t let the ure get too soggy. Gather the y into a ball, then turn it out onto ur-dusted surface and roll out. he rolling pin to help you transfer astry to the prepared tart pan and y press it into the base and up the of the pan (or transfer the pastry greased baking sheet if you don’t a suitable tart pan – just make you fold in the edges so the topdoesn’t leak out during cooking). the base of the pastry all over a fork, then bake the pastry base s own in the preheated oven for 5 utes. Arrange the brie slices over astry base, then sprinkle the melized onions over the top. he slices of saucisson sec over nions, then add little blobs of e fraîche/sour cream around the Add a sprinkling of pepper. in the preheated oven for a er 20–25 minutes. Serve with ed salad leaves/greens and an old glass of wine or cider
Photo: MGM Resorts International
How this monster mash defined a culinary legend
In our new series providing a sideways look of French food, we look at a late chef ’s most celebrated creation
Pork rillettes Ingredients, serves 2 200g pork belly (rindless), trimmed and diced 1 tablespoon sea salt 30g/2 tablespoons butter 1 garlic clove, finely chopped a small pinch of ground mace 1 bay leaf a pinch of freshly chopped or dried parsley 50ml dry white wine 150ml chicken stock sea salt and freshly ground black pepper freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly chopped parsley, to serve (optional) Melba Toast, to serve: Two slices white or wholemeal/whole-wheat bread sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Melba toast method (makes 16 pieces) 1. Preheat the grill to medium. 2. Cut the top crust off each slice of bread. Lightly toast the bread on both sides, either under the preheated grill/broiler or using a toaster on a low setting. 3. Remove from the grill/broiler or toaster and slice horizontally through the middle of each slice of toast to halve the thickness, then cut each slice diagonally both ways to make four triangles. You should now have 16 triangles. 4. Lay the triangles on a baking sheet with the untoasted sides facing up, sprinkle salt and pepper over the top and then pop them under the preheated grill for 1–2 minutes, until the tops are toasted. Serve immediately. Method 1. Put the pork belly in a non-metallic container and sprinkle the salt over the top. Massage the salt into the meat, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 1–2 hours. Rinse and dry the pork cubes – the salt should have already drawn some of the moisture out of the pork belly, but you don’t want to draw out too much because you’re going to slowcook it, which will benefit from keeping the fat. 2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat (you’re going to need a saucepan with a lid), then add the pork belly, garlic, mace, bay leaf and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, to slightly brown the pork and coat it in the seasoning, then add the white wine and increase the heat to high for 1–2 minutes to reduce the wine. Pour in the chicken stock. 3. Turn the heat down to very low and put the lid on the pan. Leave it cooking gently for 75mins. At this stage, press one of the cubes of pork with a fork and if it starts to fall apart, it’s had long enough. However, it’s likely that it’ll need a little longer. If the mixture is starting to dry out and stick to the bottom of the pan, just add another splash of chicken stock – about 50 ml. Replace the lid and leave to cook gently for another 20–30 minutes, until the meat is falling apart. 4. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Discard the bay leaf. The best way to shred the pork is with your fingers, so let it cool enough to touch, then pull it apart with your fingers and mix it really well. If you have a large piece of fat on its own, you can remove it, but the fat should have mostly melted. 5. Transfer the pork to a container or two ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour so that the mixture can set. 6. I recommend bringing it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving – the texture of shredded meat is best at room temperature and it allows the flavour to come through really well. Feel free to add a squeeze of lemon juice before serving, an extra crack of black pepper and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley, if you like.
t appears to be a requirement in French culinary circles that every top chef ’s creative life be conveniently distilled into one single, stopthe-clocks dish that they have either invented, made their own or willingly allied themselves to. When Paul Bocuse, the King of Lyon and daddy of all modern French chefs, passed away in January 2018 aged 91, in amongst the glittering obituaries were frequent references to his eye-wateringly luxurious 1975 creation, the truffle soup ‘VGE’. It was named after the President, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, for whom this unctuous mélange of chicken, mushroom, truffle and foie gras was created. Over time, this golden pastry-topped bowl of ‘super soup’ came to define the finesse and elegance of Bocuse’s menus. As for others: fellow haute cuisine behemoth Alain Ducasse is closely linked with
simple layered vegetables in a procelain ‘cookpot’, while Helène Darroze’s signature dish is her black rice and squid ink risotto; the more contrary, philosophically-minded Pierre Gagnaire said he has not yet created the dish of which he is most proud. Recently, another top chef with a worldwide reputation, Joël Robuchon, died aged 73, provoking much sadness in the industry. But this time, despite a 32 Michelin-starred string of restaurants and enormous influence at the high end of French cuisine, it was one of his impossibly simple recipes that had obituary writers salivating over their keyboards. The Robuchon pomme purée (mashed potatoes) contains what you might use (spuds, salt, pepper, whole milk, butter) when preparing bangers and mash at home. But with one difference: artery-menacing levels of butter to elevate it to the required levels of majesty. Some say the potato-butter ratio is 2:1; while one chef who worked for him said there was more butter than potato. Naughty, but nice... and what a way to sign off!
Stylish pepper pot is grist to the mill for Peugeot It may come as a surprise that the Peugeot manufacturing name was associated with salt and pepper mills (1842) long before the company turned its attention to automobiles. The company today sells an extensive array of condiment dispensers, with styles to suit all tastes, from bright-coloured, traditional models to sleeker, more contemporary looks such as their ABS soft-touch range of Onyx electronic mills, from €47. fr.peugeot-saveurs.com
Lignac’s new snack raises the chocolate bar bar Rodez-born chef and pâtisserie genius Cyril Lignac is well known to fans of TV cookery shows – he is a judge on Le Meilleur Pâtissier. He is also a popular purveyor of finely crafted sweet goods, both online and at five Parisian outlets. Now he has turned his sweet skills to high-end chocolate snack bars – choose from crunchy biscuit and soft salted butter caramel or nougat and roasted peanuts. Not cheap at €4 each but a Twix this ain’t. From www.gourmand-croquant.com
French Living I November 2018
Nut job: secrets of an AOP noix man Photos: Bernard Cianca
Autumn means walnut harvest, so Jane Hanks spoke to a Grenoble producer to learn what goes into producing high quality noix
ow is the time to eat walnuts as the harvest has just finished in most parts of France, with the last nuts collected at the beginning
of November. France is the biggest producer of walnuts in Europe, and the second exporter in the world, with the main region centred around Grenoble in the AuvergneRhône-Alpes and the second region in the Aquitaine. There are two areas with an Appellation d’Origine Protégée: one is the AOP, Noix du Périgord given in 2002 for the Corrèze and the Dordogne, and the second is the Noix de Grenoble, which this year celebrates 80 years as an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, AOC (the prestigious French label for an AOP, which is the European term and was only introduced in 1992) and an AOP. The Noix de Grenoble is grown along the Isère valley and covers three departments: the Drôme, Savoie and Isère and 261 communes with around 7,000 hectares of orchards. Walnuts have been grown in the region for centuries, but became the main crop at the end of the 19th century when both silk and wine production were largely wiped out by disease. Two Americans living in Grenoble started exporting them to their home country and so very early on, local walnuts gained an international reputation. The industry was well organised and for-
You will find that imported nuts are bland, while French walnuts have far more flavour
ward thinking and applied for an AOC when the label had only just been introduced and was, at that time only applied to wine. The Noix de Grenoble has to be grown in the delimited area to gain the AOP label, but it must also be more than 28mm long and sold in its shell. Smaller ones and damaged ones have to be sold for less money, and may be transformed into walnut oil or patisseries. The prized Noix de Grenoble is sold to be eaten as a kernel freshly cracked from its outer casing.
The walnut farmer
Christian Nagearaffe is a walnut producer at Montmiral, Drôme and has 40 hectares of trees. Each hectare has between 80 and 100 trees on it. He originally made his living from making goat’s cheese, but gradually built up his stock of mature trees by adding to ones he inherited from his parents until, in 2008, he was able to earn enough from walnuts to stop farming goats. “The difficulty in starting up is that trees take up to between 12 and 15 years to come to full maturity and produce a decent quantity of fruit”, he says. “However, I now have a good range of trees and planted the last ones in 2012.” Three varieties are grown in the region; the Parisienne, which is almost oblong in shape with a white flesh; the Mayette, which is rounder and has a fine and delicate taste; and the Franquette, which is grown by Mr Nagearaffe and has a strong, aromatic flavour. He says the French varieties are superior to the cheaper ones you can buy in the supermarket and which have been most likely imported from the USA and Chile. “If you compare the two, you will find that the imported nuts are bland in taste, while the French walnuts have far more flavour with a slight, bitter note. They are sold as high quality walnuts.” He says the advantage of buying them in their shells is that they are then naturally conserved: “A walnut is unlike other fruits in that it can keep for up to two years in its own shell. If the nuts are sold as kernels they are fragile and have most likely lost some of their nutritional qualities, because the fine protective skin between the kernel and the shell is easily damaged when it is cracked open.” Besides producing a fruit with a long shelf life there are other advantages to growing nuts: “They are self-pollinating, so we do not need to bring in bees. There
Above: Walnuts harvested at Christian Nagearaffe’s farm in Drôme; which are collected by a special machine to keep manpower costs down Inset: a walnut can keep for up to two years in its shell
is a flower and a long catkin which liberates its pollen to fertilise the flower, from which the nut develops. There are very few predators and I can use organic products to treat the two insects which cause problems, which work well and means I do not have to use chemicals. “At harvest time we need to employ far fewer seasonal workers than for other fruits, like peaches and apples, because after waiting for the walnuts to fall naturally to the ground, we are able to collect them using a special machine. We use the machines about three times during the two to four week harvest period. I have to take on just four or five employees.”
Ready for sale
After the harvest, the walnuts are washed and then dried before being sold on. Most of these processes take place on individual farms. A very small proportion of nuts are sold straight from the tree just after harvest. They are slightly more bitter in taste and have a softer consistency. They do not keep for long, unlike those which are dried. It is a food which is seeing an increase in popularity as its many health virtues are now recognised by a widespread public. It is rich in magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and fibre content and contains unsaturated fatty acids,
omega 3 and omega 6, with no cholesterol so it is good for the heart. It also contains several vitamins and very little salt. Consumption of walnuts has gone up by 15% in the last ten years. Farmers have no difficulty in selling their crops, though Mr Nagearaffe says production is unlikely to increase massively in his area: “It is difficult to start as a new producer because you have to wait for several years to see a return for your investment, and there is a lack of new land to plant on.” He sells his walnuts to traders who sell on to specialist food shops and supermarkets where they are more expensive because of their higher quality. More than 50% of Noix de Grenoble are exported to other European countries; Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. Mr Nagearaffe says 2018 is a good year as their region escaped the worst of the drought and there was enough rain to provide a decent crop with a reasonable quantity of good sized nuts. He is happy to have become a walnut farmer: “The trees are beautiful and are part of our heritage. They can produce nuts for at least 30 years, longer than other fruit trees and are passed on from one generation to the next.” www.aoc-noixdegrenoble.com
Wine and Cheese 15 Photos: Pixabay
November 2018 I French Living
arisian cheese lovers Julien Carotenuto and Franco Picciuolo could not find good buffalo mozzarella in France, so they make it themselves. “My grandfather came from Campania, and he wouldn’t eat the stuff they sell in the supermarkets here,” says Julien Carotenuto. “The problem is transport. A couple of hours is ok, but any longer and you have to refrigerate it, and you should never chill mozzarella. It spoils the taste. You should just eat it fresh, within 36-48 hours of it being made. In the shops in Campania, they sell ‘today’s mozzarella’ but you can’t buy that in France, not even in Paris.” ‘Mozzarella di Bufala Campana’ is protected by EU legislation on protected origins, PDO, so can only be made in Campania. But buffalo mozzarella can be made anywhere, as long as you can find buffalo milk of course. “We have a supplier in the Auvergne,” says Julien. “It took time to find them, because we wanted raw milk not pasteurised, but their buffalo milk is top quality.” It takes five litres of buffalo milk to make a kilo of cheese whereas it takes eight litres of cow’s milk. Buffalo milk is richer than cow’s milk, has a higher percentage of solids and higher levels of fats, minerals and protein. Cow’s milk mozzarella is usually used for cooking, ie pizzas and gratins, rather than buffalo mozzarella which is perfect served with beef tomatoes and fresh basil. Water buffalo have been used as a draught animal in Italy since at least 10th century, valued for their strength and the size of their hooves, which do not sink too far into mud so they can be used in badly drained terrains. There are references to buffalo cheese being made in Italy as early as the 12th century, but the production of buffalo mozzarella only became widespread in the late 18th century. Julien Carotenuto and Franco Picciuolo have a cheese shop in Paris’s 11th arrondissement, where they make their mozzarella by hand. “In the beginning, customers were hesitant,” says Julien. “They were used to buying mozza in a plastic package from the chilled cabinet, and we sell it at ambient temperature. But we soon won them over and now they appreciate the taste. It’s best eaten just the way it is, as soon as you get home, with fresh bread.”
Meet the producers
Artisan cheese of the month: Vieux-Lille
A close relative of the equally very whiffy Maroilles cow’s milk cheese made in the Nord-Pas de Calais region in North East France, Vieux-Lille is also known as Gris de Lille because of its greyish colour. Twice salted and rindless, with a slight ammonia smell, its taste is more pronounced, more salty and even a little spicy. It takes up to six months to mature. Whilst its strong taste is an acquired one, it has wide-reaching appeal – one story goes that Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev loved it so much when visiting the region in 1960, that he ordered a batch to be delivered back to Moscow.
Local speciality: Baeckeoffe
Meaning ‘baker’s oven’ in traditional Alsatian dialect, this hearty winter casserole is made using pork, beef, potatoes, onions , carrot and leeks plus juniper berries and local wine. It was traditionally slow-cooked in the village boulanger’s bread oven on a Sunday morning and then collected after the church service. Available to buy ready to reheat from www.bienmanger.com
Everything about Champagne production, from hand-picking the grapes to the ageing process, contributes to its price tag
We all love fizzy, but why all the fuss? Jonathan Hesford goes back to bubbly basics to explain how Champagne is created A year in the vineyard
he most famous wine region and style in France is undoubtedly Champagne. It is the first choice for celebrating weddings, sporting events, New Year and business successes. How it achieved this status is described in plenty of books and magazine articles. Its history contains colourful characters like Dom Pérignon and Madame Clicquot, stories about the British marketing the attractiveness of wines which underwent secondary fermentation in barrels during shipping and then developing bottles strong enough to withstand the pressure, and the business acumen of Germans who founded the houses of Krug, Deutz and Mumm. However, in this article I want to write about how Champagne is made and what gives it its (arguably) unique qualities. Champagne is grown in the coolest and northernmost vineyards in France from three grape varieties, only one of which, Chardonnay, is a white grape. Three quarters of the vineyards are planted in Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier. Each variety contributes its own charac-
There is a world of difference between a mass-produced, entry-level wine from one of the big houses to a Prestige Cuvée
ter to the finished wine. Pinot noir provides structure, Pinot Meunier gives fruitiness and Chardonnay is supposedly responsible for its elegance. All the grapes are picked by hand and gently pressed as whole bunches so as not to release any colour from the skins of the red grapes. This pressing is often carried out in the individual villages before the juice is transported to wineries in Reims and Epernay. Unlike other French regions, there are few grower-producers and most of the wine is made from juice bought from the individual farmers. The base wine made from the fermented juice is high in acid and pretty austere, so pity the master blenders employed by the Champagne houses to taste and decide the blends which will form the various cuvées. Nonvintage Champagne is blended with older reserve wines from previous vintages to try to maintain a house style. This moderates the widely different vintage conditions in such a northern region. Vintage Champagne is only made in years which produce impressive base wines. Champagne may be blended from just Chardonnay, called Blanc de Blancs, or just the red grapes, called Blanc de Noirs, but most is made from all three varieties, sometimes as a rosé by adding a bit of base red wine. In order to make the wine fizzy, it needs to be refermented in bottles, sealed with a crown-cork (beer-bottle top), by adding a “liqueur de tirage” (sugar and yeast). The bottles are then stored for several months as the yeast undergoes autolysis, producing the sweaty, biscuit-like aromas and flavours loved by Champagne aficionados. Nonvintage Champagne must be aged for 15 months but Vintage Champagne can be aged for several years. Once the wines have matured, the yeast has to be settled gradually by
“Remuage” and then disgorged by placing the neck of the bottle in freezing brine, removing the cap and popping the frozen plug of yeast out. The bottle is topped up with a “Liqueur d’Expedition” made of reserve wine and cane sugar and resealed with the characteristic mushroom-shaped cork, held in by wire. The amount of sugar is known as the dosage and accounts for the sweetness of the finished product. These are labelled from Extra Brut through to Sec to Doux. So we can see that the process required to make Champagne, from the precarious climate, the hand picking and gentle pressing, the master-blending and the years of bottle-ageing all add to the cost of production. However, many other sparkling wines are made using similar methods but cannot command the prices of Champagne. From a taste perspective, there is a world of difference between a mass-produced, entry-level wine from one of the big houses to a Prestige Cuvée from one of the top producers or a Grand Cru from a small grower-producer. While few people have enjoyed the pleasures of a perfectly aged Vintage Champagne, millions have drunk the popular brands, often without appreciating what makes Champagne special. In my next article I would like to write about the flavours and aromas of the different types and brands of Champagne and compare them to the competitors – Prosecco, Cava, Limoux and numerous regional Crémants – as well as the industrial, tank-fermented fizz on sale for under €3. 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 www.domainetreloar.com.
French Living I November 2018
Author Josephine Ryan discovers the ways in which an antiques expert homeowner has created a classic style
ranck Delmarcelle’s antiques shop, Galerie Et Caetera, which opened in 1998, is on rue de Poitou in the Marais. The shop’s opening hours are restricted, or you can visit by appointment. This isn’t an affectation, for Franck has his fingers in many other pies, perhaps entertaining a customer at his home or doing what all dealers do best – getting out there and sourcing more pieces for his shop and home. Franck is to antiques what Christian Lacroix is to fashion – there are no concepts, just an emotional response to the visual world; a mixing and matching of styles and objects. He is also a skilled interior decorator, always in demand and forever being asked by hip glossies to supply props for fashion shoots. Franck’s partner in life is Laurent Dombrowicz, a well-known and well-respected figure in the world of fashion. Like many in the city, they rent their apartment. One of ten in a building that’s part 18th century, part 19th, at about 120 square metres it’s large by Parisian standards. Even though they don’t own their home and have lived there for a relatively short time, the couple have transformed the interior with their distinctive style. The hall is the first of seven rooms, each one leading off the next, all of them spacious. The black and white tiled floor continues into the kitchen and is repeated in the bathroom. The hall is large enough to hold substantial pieces of furniture, including a classic 18th-century embroidered sofa, which still has a price tag attached (has it just arrived from the shop or is it on its way out to a buyer?). It’s almost hidden from view though, piled high with motorcycle helmets, catwalk outfits, lots of black coats and even more black boots on the floor. The couple’s aesthetic is catholic in every sense. Both bizarre and beautiful, the decorative objects in the apartment range from a Patagonian taxidermied hare, collections of mercury glass, concrete toadstools, a desk lamp made from a girl’s ribcage, stuffed birds on perches and a gilded tole sacred heart. Stuffed creatures and religious iconography feature throughout. For Franck and Laurent, taxidermy is not in any way macabre, rather it allows the beauty of birds and animals to be appreciated after death. Similarly, their love of iconography is not to do with personal religious beliefs but their appreciation of the art and emotion of the craftsmen who made the pieces.
Get the look With clever French high street and online buys, you can recreate some of Franck and Laurent’s antique chic at home. Prices and availability correct at time of going to press. There is an eclectic mix of styles of furniture in the first main room, a studycum-guest room, including a rustic table, an ornate painted baroque desk, two Louis XV chairs and a lit de repos with a metal frame over the top made by Franck. In the more pareddown dining room, a custom-built glazed unit spans the length and height of one wall. Made from reclaimed materials with accents of gold leaf and lit with strands of fairy lights, it houses even more unusual collections that merge into a harmonious but disparate whole – from pieces of coral, shells, butterflies and a giant cockroach carapace to a child’s model Citroën from the 1950s that conceals an iPod dock on permanent shuffle and more iconography and stuffed animals. Books, magazines and CDs are stored in the cupboards at the bottom. The blue painted walls create an aura of calm refinement and are the perfect backdrop for the 18th-century Swedish dining table and chairs. A severe but exquisite late 17th-century Flemish wooden reliquary of St Anthony atop a
Above: Balustrading has been converted into a pair of table lamps, positioned at either end of the salon table. Inset: The blue of the dining room is the perfect backdrop to the gilt-and-black framed pictures and mirrors displayed tightly around the fireplace
Extracted from Essentially French by Josephine Ryan with photography by Claire Richardson (published by Ryland, Peters and Small).
very simple 19th-century table presides over the room. There is a distinctly Belgian look to the next room – the salon; no great surprise when you discover that Laurent was born in Belgium. The walls are painted a confident shade of brown-grey, and beautiful terracotta hexagonal tiles cover the floor. The roughly hewn shutters are made from reclaimed scaffolding boards, a brave contrast to the chic upholstered sofas, while the use of garden statuary indoors makes a confident statement. The collections of objets morts continue in this room, the highlights being a stuffed porcupine with vicious spines and a rare Pacific turtle. Clever use has been made of space in the compact bedroom. The panelling behind the bed appears purely decorative but, in fact, it conceals cupboards in which all the paraphernalia of the chambre is hidden. Apart from the bed, the only other piece of furniture is a cane seat spanning the width of the window wall, which is fitted with more salvaged shutters. The room is uncluttered and unadorned, perfect for sleeping. Although most of us would not want to leave this magical apartment, whenever they can Franck and Laurent visit their maison de vacances in Lessay, Picardy. Close by is the chambre d’hôte they are renovating, which promises to be as successful as all the other properties they have touched with their unique vision. Their collection of objets morts is sure to grow and fill the shelves here. Guests should expect the unexpected...
‘Gilty’ pleasures A gold-framed mirror lends some classical elegance and contrasts nicely with baby blue wall paint. CDiscount sells lots of low priced mirrors for around €40, such as this Vendôme model. www.cdiscount.com Console yourself A washed out wood look is perfect for recreating the muted vintage feel. This Sandra console costs €199 from online retailer www.pierimport.fr Subtle shades In case you do not have a spare balustrade from which to craft yourself a chunky table lamp, head to La Redoute for this vintage-effect ‘Agnès’ model in beige. Price €37.90 from www.laredoute.fr
Photos: Claire Richardson
Give your home a vintage French feel
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French Living I November 2018
Bilingual cryptic crossword
by Parolles Answers are in French and English Across
1 Members of the family after money to make woollen cloth (8)
1 Beowulf ’s first weapon discovered in ancient burial mound (6)
5 Pack good French ham in Metz (6)
2 American novelist seen in French hood (6)
9 Spotting French soldiers getting exercise gear ruined (8)
3 Turn into small evil-tempered dwarf (6)
10 Article by writer on grand Malaysian island (6)
4 What sugar is for a pastry chef in Manchester and Marseille (10)
11 Equip French sloop essentially with acceptable handle attached to the rudder (8)
6 Laurent Bénier’s to develop into Epinal’s top manager surprisingly (8)
12 The most recent stay around the outskirts of Toulouse (6)
7 Those on them are desperate to finish putting on smiles (4-4)
14 Pay attention to textbook by Lior Suchard for instance (4,6)
8 Piece shown up by a Conservative as worthless (8)
18 Hum French song about knight and queen (10)
13 Reads rave review about current French opponent (10)
22 Foucault’s slim volume’s conclusion on a South African political party taken in by the French (6)
15 Assessing French lawyer overwhelmed by stress (8)
23 Try at first to find Montaigne perhaps (8)
16 Angina treated in good Italian violinist (8)
24 Friendly French accountant held in Peru’s capital on the way back (6)
17 Standing today beside the eastern end of Charlemagne’s defensive fortification (8)
25 Antoine’s to contest stupid changes to the centre of Hyères (8)
19 A small portion to show the quality is ultimately enough (6)
26 Watch over Rex having to slave away in Lyon (6)
20 A stretcher carried on poles is rubbish (6)
27 Earliest of showjumpers are here possibly to practise beforehand (8)
21 English writer with a forbidding appearance reportedly (6)
by John Foley All answers are words or names associated with France Across
2 Collection of laws established under Napoleon (4,5)
1 Department in Occitanie region whose prefecture is Carcassonne (4)
2 Imaginary tale (5)
Catherine _______, actress, singer, film producer and at one time the official face of national symbol of liberty Marianne (7)
3 English port just across la Manche (7) 4 Cheese made from goat’s milk (6)
9 A fatale one is to be avoided (5)
5 Bright or lively (3)
10 To have “la bouche grande ouverte de surprise” (4)
6 Flat fish known in English as dab (7)
11 In most bathrooms there’s a hot one and a cold one (7) 13 Fait de remettre quelque chose en place (6)
16 Montmartre-born painter best known for his cityscapes (7)
18 Activity involving mental or physical effort in order to achieve a result (7)
17 Small region which with Champagne Ardenne and Lorraine is now part of the new Grand Est (6)
19 Cooked in an oven or over an open fire (4) 22 Du nez (5) 24 Garlic sauce (7) 25 Stage and screen actor and director Jean _________, whose career spanned more than five decades until his death in October 2017 (9)
Q: In which French city is the LU factory that makes them?
21 Bleu/jaune combination (4) 23 Large area of water – sometimes called an étang (3)
What is the name of the untouched Limousin ‘memorial’ village where 642 residents were murdered by a German Waffen-SS company in 1944? Following the war, President De Gaulle ordered that the village remain in the same condition as the day of the massacre, so that it serves as a memorial.
3 Name change
Q: WHICH city’s historic old town (vieille ville) had its name changed to Cité Plantagenêt to reflect the impact of the Plantaganêt dynasty upon its history?
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The ‘petit beurre’ (little butter) biscuit which is familiar to many taking their goûter (afternoon teatime snack and drink) is not merely something to nibble on. It also serves as a calendar– it has 52 teeth (indents around the edge) like the number of weeks in a year, 24 holes for the 24 hours in a day... and it measures seven centimetres, like the seven days of the week.
20 Élément caractéristique – of someone or something (5)
Like our quiz?
Photo: Photo: Selbymay
1 Biscuit date
12 Tissu de coton d’ameublement (8) 14 Take leave colloquially – au _______ (7)
15 Personne qui écrit des ouvrages (6)
Fun French facts
7 One-night stand – ________ d’un soir (8)
People Places History Language Food & wine Culture Traditions + more
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November 2018 I French Living
Guess the region...
Clue: Look at that lacework!
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...
Test your knowledge of France with our Connexion quiz
12 What French dance involving four couples performing in square formation emerged from a 17th century parade ground manoeuvre, and appears briefly in a work by Lewis Carroll?
Known as ‘LG’ for short, what traditionally enormous book compiled by Prosper Montagné and first published in 1938, is widely regarded as the reference bible of French cuisine?
13 The British call them frog’s legs, but what more precise word - for part of the leg - are the French likely to use when referring to the renowned amphibian delicacy?
What town on the north coast of Brittany is famous for its twin-towered cathedral named, like the town itself, after a 6th century Welsh bishop and saint known as Paul Aurelian?
14 How are Philaminte, Armande and Belise, three ladies dedicated to the pursuit of learning, collectively characterised in the French title of a 1672 satirical play by Molière?
18 Voted France’s second most culturally significant personality after de Gaulle in a Le Monde poll a year after her 1987 suicide, singer and actress Dalida was born in which country in 1933? 19 The title role in which 2001 hit French movie was originally written for English actress Emily Watson, who had to be replaced because of other scheduled filming commitments? 20 A circumflex accent is a reliable indicator that what other letter, immediately following the accented vowel, has disappeared from the word over time?
In which classic 1955 Hollywood movie set in Cannes did young French actress Brigitte Auber play Danielle Foussard, the teenage cat-burglar referred to in the film’s title?
11 Which supermarket chain is symbolised by a musketeer logo and runs different category stores called Hyper, Super, Express and Contac’ depending on size and location?
17 Which French tennis player reached the semi-finals of the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2012?
10 What is the British equivalent of what in France are called Jeanettes? Typically, they are female and between eight and 12 years of age.
Guess the region La Roque Alric, part of the Dentelles de Montmirail chain of mountains in Vaucluse, Region Sud. They get their name from dentelles, referring to lace, due to the eroded nature of the rock faces. Photo: Fotolia/Lamax
A fortress in which city, once known as ‘the old key to France’, has a wall punctuated by 17 massive towers, and constitutes a very different defensive proposition to other Loire chateaux?
16 What name, from the portrait on the obverse side, originally applied to French 20-franc gold coins first minted in 1803, which remained in circulation throughout the 19th century?
Quiz 1 Lens, 2 Tourism, 3 Belle and Sebastian, 4 Angers, 5 To Catch A Thief, 6 Larousse Gastronomique, 7 Saint-Pol-de-Léon, 8 Ubisoft, 9 Limestone, 10 Brownies, 11 Intermarché, 12 Quadrille, 13 Cuisses (thighs), 14 Les Femmes savantes, 15 Lalique, 16 Napoleons, 17 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 18 Egypt, 19 Amélie, 20 S (for example forêt).
The Grands Causses are harsh uplands with spectacular deep river gorges in the southern Massif Central, that owe their appearance to what type of rock?
Anagram: (Jacques) Anquetil
Which Scottish pop group founded in Glasgow in 1996 was named after a 1960s French TV series about a boy and his Pyrenean Mountain dog, based on a book by actress Cécile Aubry?
Bilingual cryptic crossword Across: 1 Buckskin, 5 Jambon, 9 Repérage, 10 Penang, 11 Outiller, 12 Latest, 14 Mind reader, 18 Chantonner, 22 Élance, 23 Essayist, 24 Amical, 25 Disputer, 26 Trimer, 27 Rehearse.
15 Which company long associated with Art Nouveau glassware – including perfume bottles for many different brands - started producing its own fragrances in 1994?
Down: 1 Barrow, 2 Capote, 3 Stroll, 4 Ingrédient, 6 Aménager, 7 Beam-ends, 8 Nugatory, 13 Adversaire, 15 Accédant, 16 Paganini, 17 Stockade, 19 Sample, 20 Litter, 21 Sterne.
Established in 1987 and superseding Maison de la France in 2009, Atout France aids the development of what industry, in which France has long been a world leader?
What is the name of the highly successful Brittany-based computer software company whose Assassin’s Creed series of games has sold over 100 million copies worldwide?
French-themed crossword Across: 2 Code Civil, 8 Deneuve, 9 femme, 10 béer, 11 robinet, 13 repose, 15 auteur, 18 travail, 19 rôti, 22 nasal, 24 aillade, 25 Rochefort.
Take the first letter from the answers to the questions indicated below and rearrange the letters to spell out the surname of a French sporting hero. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their surname. Questions 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19
Down: 1 Aude, 2 conte, 3 Douvres, 4 chèvre, 5 vif, 6 limande, 7 aventure, 12 cretonne, 14 plaisir, 16 Utrillo, 17 Alsace, 20 trait, 21 vert, 23 lac.
In which town in northern France did England beat Wales 2-1 at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in a group match at the 2016 UEFA European Championships?
Fun French facts 1 Nantes. 2 Oradour-sur-Glane 3 Le Mans.
Try our quiz
20 Reviews French films A critical eye on the latest ciné releases The Nun
French Living I November 2018 Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, Siegfried Sassoon, Faber & Faber, £12.99 ISBN: 978-0-571348121 SIEGFRIED Sassoon “had more or less made up his mind to die” at the beginning of this book but word of his “personal grievance against the Germans” had obviously reached higher command because he is whisked away from “all possibility of dying a murky death in the mine craters” on the first page. Soon, he is in a classroom along with “a splendid sample of the Fourth Army which began the Somme Battle a couple of months afterwards” and learning the finer points of a bayonet attack where “If you don’t kill him, he’ll kill you.” This is history in the raw and soon Sassoon is back in a dug-out where “everything felt fateful and final”
and he has just written a farewell letter “with a premonition that it would be posted” [as any were of soldiers who died]. His reckless bravery earns him a medal and a wound taking him home for sick leave, where he receives a letter telling him many of his friends have been killed or badly wounded in an attack. He tells people he “wouldn’t have missed this War for anything” but knows it had been “a mercy” when it brought him home. The power of the writing is such that the reader is at Sassoon’s shoulder every step of the way, every time over the top, every terrifying moment. Astonishing.
Books – The 20 minute review
We read recent releases with a link to France. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time
Jacques Rivette; 140 mins
Using as its source material a novel by Enlightenment bigwig and Encyclopedia pioneer Denis Diderot, Jacques Rivette’s film about an oppressed num was initially banned by the French Ministry of Information upon its completion in 1966. Only in May 1967, following media protests, did it escape notoriety and secure a full release. The controversy comes from the subject matter: an attack on religious orthodoxy in 18th century France, oppression and allusion to carnal pleasures (though this is hardly a Ken Russell-style romp). A young girl, Suzanne, played with aplomb by New Wave stalwart Anna Karina, is coerced into a life as a nun against her will, in order to protect her mother’s reputation. Despite creating a bond with the Mother Superior – who is supportive despite knowing that the girl is not cut out for monastery life – Suzanne struggles to cope. Following two personal tragedies for Suzanne, another nun makes it her business to persecute the young nun, which further takes it toll. Whilst she is taking on the church authorities via a lawyer, she is transferred to another monastery, which presents an entirely different set of upheavals and challenges. This strange and compelling gem from the Rivette oeuvre is out now, remastered for DVD.
Also out: Normandie Nue Full Monty/Calendar Girls clone with François Cluzet as a Normandy farmer/ mayor who needs to convince villagers to strip off in protest at low meat prices.
Cracking the Egyptian Code, Andrew Robinson, Thames and Hudson, £9.99 ISBN: 978-0-500-29417-8 UNLESS you live in Figeac, Lot, where there is a marvellous tribute to him, you may never have heard of Jean-François Champollion, the “penurious, brilliant and arrogant young Frenchman” who founded Egyptology and cracked the hieroglyphic code. This tells of a child of the Revolution, born to an Isère bookseller and the illiterate daughter of a thriving weaver. It also tells of his almost as brilliant brother, who was his first teacher. It tells of much more than the cracking of a hieroglyphic code: of his uncanny knack with languages, his hatred of school – and a warning from his brother that “time lost is irreparable”, his strong support for Napoleon and his life in exile during the White Terror, his uncompromising views, and the ease with which he made enemies. He was a controversial genius but his work uncovering and forcing understanding of many hitherto unknown sources created a new science and gave a new view of Egypt. Despite mocking English polymath Thomas Young’s work, there is little doubt it was a vital tool for Champollion in cracking the code and this literary detective work lays it out simply.
Lullaby, Leïla Slimani, Faber & Faber, £8.99 ISBN: 978-0-571-33754-5 IT IS AN effort to get past the first page of this, with its horrific description of a baby battered to death, a baby sister fighting for life and a woman with slashed wrists and a knife in her throat. But you must, to find out why. Neighbours crowd round the ambulance, they cry as they will soon pick up their children from school and the horror of what has happened will be ever present. Once past the opening pages, this begins to take on the feel of an express train. The tale starts slowly as Paul and Myriam look for a nanny but starts to pick up speed with a constant buzz of information on them and the new carer, Louise, and their very different lifestyles and backgrounds. The translation by Sam Taylor is superb as there is no point where you feel the pace has slowed so you can put it down. Beautiful flowing language and slyly wonderful phrasing say much with little; but Louise’s foibles, her obsessions, her desires overcome any sense of calm. The train hurtles on to the end.
Stick Together, Sophie Hénaff, Maclehose Press, £14.99 ISBN: 978-0-85705-580-4 YOU NEED to be determined to get past the first few pages as there’s little logic as we are introduced to the black sheep with police badges in Anne Capestan’s squad. They investigate cold cases but, for some reason, are sent a warm one. Possibly too hot as it’s a top BRI anti-gang squad officer. Worse, it’s her ex-father-in-law. Even worse, she must break the news to her ex. The killer had given a warning and one of the squad remembered a similar warning given in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. A third soon follows. A sense of the absurd; humour as black as the coffee and a wit that is often missing from ‘Anglo-Saxon’ crime writing... by this time, of course, you cannot put the book down.
Schlumpf, Arnoud and Ard op de Weegh, Veloce £35 ISBN: 978-1-787113-09-1
YOU may have heard part of the story of the car-obsessed Schlumpf brothers who built a fabulous collection of cars, especially Bugattis in Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin. And all in secret. No one knew except Hans and Fritz Schlumpf. That is, until a strike at their textile factory when workers broke in to a wing of the mill to discover hundreds of the most beautiful cars ever produced. For years the phrase Schlumpf affair stood for a classic exploitation of capitalist brothers buying cars while doing down their workers; but, prompted by Bugatti fans to dig deeper, father and son Ard and Arnoud op Weegh spent years investigating and found unpublished documents to reveal the truth. When the workers lost their jobs then found the opulent museum they were outraged, but the book details that Fritz Schlump had agreed a deal to sell a large part of the collection to British collector, Tom Wheatcroft of Donington Park, to fund workers three months’ pay but was blocked by the French government. However, this tale is relatively short and the illustrated book is padded with features on many cars from the present-day Cité de l’Automobile collection at Mulhouse. This is an acquired taste.
Never let people make a pigeon out of you Language notes
recent hold-up by a gang of cigarette robbers (braqueurs) at a Marseille Lidl backfired badly, when nearby shoppers and passers-by turned on the fag nickers and handed out their own justice to at least one of the ‘light-fingers’. The braquage (robbery) by the gang of voleurs (thieves) was a literal case of ‘daylight robbery’ (‘c’est de l’arnaque’) but where else can you use crime-related phrases, albeit in less menacing or dramatic circumstances? We begin, as ever in France, with affairs of the stomach. Hungry or thirsty? Could you ‘murder a steak’ or ‘murder a cup of tea’? These are simply translated as ‘Je tuerais pour un steack’ or ‘Je tuerais pour une tasse de thé’ (I would kill for…). Similarly, if you are ‘dying of thirst’ you can say ‘je
Dying of thirst? Say ‘je meurs de soif’
meurs de soif’. In a more general sense, use ‘avoir très envie de...’ means to really want something. While we might say ‘I’m dying for the loo’, it is hard to imagine any self-respecting French person being quite so uncouth in public! If you have been ‘robbed blind’, ie. ripped off, you might use a conjugation of the phrase ‘se faire plumer’ (literally ‘to be plucked of one’s feathers’), se faire escroquer or se faire pigeonner (to be taken for a pigeon). The latter phrase is thought to originate from the duplicitous deeds of 16th century pigeonnier-owning seigneurs, who duped potential future wives and their families by adding false boulins (spaces for pigeon nests), thus indicating they had more pigeons, and therefore more wealth, than was actually the case. If you need help dealing with any kind of criminal activity, best call les policiers (police officers) otherwise known as les flics, les keufs, les poulets or les schmitts.
Shopping/Did you know? 21
November 2018 I French Living
A 1930 Peugeot 201, with crank handle hole
New products, designs and ideas from around France
The heart of glassware
The st-just glassblowing company began life thanks to a royal decree by Charles X back in 1826 and since 1921 it has been part of the huge SaintGobain group of companies, which was itself created by the Sun King in 1665. St-Just, based in what is now St-Just-Saint-Rambert in the Loire department, was the first glassblower to flatten glass after blowing for architectural use and today it is one of the most esteemed suppliers in Europe of glass and stained-glass for historic buildings. For example, it has supplied glass to the Palace of Versailles. However, now you can add a little of its classy glass to your own little palace thanks to a new range of handblown, long-necked Bohème bottles and vases that are as much works of art as they are ornaments. Each piece is unique and created by a master glassblower to provide a contemporary twist on coloured glass. Between 15 and 20 cm in width, they range from 70-90cm high, with prices from €542. www.verrosaique.com
Sweet Christmas countdown TREAT yourself or a loved one during the Christmas run-up to a daily chocolate treat from a leading French chocolatier. ‘Parisian Nights’ is an elegant advent calendar composed of various refined delicacies including dark and milk chocolates, mendiants, hazelnut and almond options, plus caramels including the company’s famous salted butter caramel ‘C.B.S’, raspberry, fruit pastes and chocolate marshmallows. Originally set up by Henri Le Roux in Douarnenez in Finistère, Maison Le Roux’s chocolates are today created by Julien Gouzien. Priced €38, the calendar is available from November 17 both online and at various outlets including Paris and Quiberon. www.chocolatleroux.com
Drink to Delamotte THE SISTER, more affordable Champagne to the Salon brand of fizz, Delamotte is made using grapes grown in the chalky soils of villages Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Oger (Marne). Its Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Chardonnay is easy on the sugar dosage (see page 15 for our Champagne guide). Described as ‘heady but not heavy’, it is the ideal bubbly to serve at your festive (great with oysters) or New Year’s parties. €42 from all good cavistes. www.salondelamotte.com
Hot desking, French-style personalise your home office or hallway with this tailor-made, solid oak bureau, part of a custom collection from 100% Made in France brand Junddo. Made using wood from French forests, the desk comes complete with metal legs (71cm high) in a colour of your choosing – black, white or red. The neat trick with Junddo is that for optimal comfort and integration of the furniture in your room, all orders are bespoke according to your space/usage requirements. Model shown is Rio (the chair is not from Junddo), available at 100-170cm long and from 40-100cm deep, priced €434. https://junddo.com
Why do Peugeots have a ‘0’ in their name? Did you know?
he names of Peugeot cars are distinctive by the 0 in the middle of the name of nearly every car they produce; so we have the Peugeot 104, the Peugeot 202, the Peugeot 305, the Peugeot 908... Legend has it that the 0 was introduced because in early cars the name of the model was positioned around the crank handle hole, which became the O in the name. This explanation has been widely publicised, but according to Hervé Charpentier, curator of the Aventure Peugeot Museum, situated next to the company’s most important car manufacturing sites at Sochaux, Doubs in Eastern France, it is not true. “This is a story that was invented in the 1930s,” says Mr Charpentier. “The 0 was, in fact, introduced to act as a connecting ring between the first number, which represents the size of the vehicle and the third number which represents the generation of car in that series. So a 201 is smaller than a 301 and a 201 is older than a 204. However, the Peugeot designers thought that the hole for the crank handle was ugly and to mask it they moved the name of the car to straddle and include the round shaped hole.”
The first car to have a name using this system was the Peugeot 201, which was produced from 1929-1937, and it was then that the company patented this method of naming its vehicles. In 1963, Porsche presented a new car to the Frankfurt Motor Show called the 901. Peugeot protested, saying that only their cars had the right to a name with a central 0. Porsche had already produced 82 901s and anyone who finds one now is the owner of a very rare and valuable collectors’ item. Porsche renamed their sports car the 911. The Aventure Peugeot Museum celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It tells the history of Peugeot, which began in 1810 when two brothers decided to transform a flour mill into a forge so they could make steel. With this new material they could make good quality tools and household items, such as pepper mills, irons and even sewing machines. Later another member of the Peugeot family, Armand, went to Leeds, where he saw some of the first bicycles and on his return persuaded the company Peugeot Frères to start making them. In 1895, he developed the first patent for a petrol motor and started making cars. As well as the museum you can also, by reservation only, visit the car manufacturing plant next door, which is the biggest and the oldest in France.
Photo: Xabi Rome-Hérault/Wikipedia
QUOI DE NEUF?
French Living I November 2018
Eleanor of Aquitaine: a life given to love and leadership
leanor of Aquitaine (11221204) lived to be 82 years old, which at that time was remarkable in itself, but what she did with her life was even more remarkable. A wealthy and powerful women in her own right, she first married King Louis VII of France and had two daughters but eight weeks after she got that marriage annulled, she married another cousin, 11 years her junior, King Henry II of England, with whom she had five sons and three more daughters. Three of her sons became kings (Henry the Young King, Richard the Lionheart, and King John), and two of her daughters became queens (Queen Eleanor of Castile, and Queen Joan of Sicily); she led countless armies into battle, went on crusades; was a noted patron of the arts; was imprisoned for 16 years for inciting rebellion against her second husband; outlived all her children except John and Eleanor, and finally, in her late 70s, took the veil. The precise dates are uncertain (but accurate to within one to two years) but the main facts of her life are indisputable. Her true personality is less clear and although it is commonly agreed that she was probably very beautiful, no-one even knows if she was blonde or brunette. Born into a rich, powerful family, Eleanor became the Duchess of Aquitaine upon the death of her father in 1137, meaning that at the age of 13, she was not only fabulously rich, but was the nominal ruler of a massive part of south-western and central France. She was in serious danger of being kidnapped and forcibly married for her inheritance. Within weeks, she married the 17 year-old son of her guardian, King Louis VI of France, who died later that same year, leaving the throne to Eleanor’s new husband, who then became King Louis VII. Between them, the two teenagers ruled an area covering most of what is today modern France. The marriage started off well. Eleanor was lively, beautiful and fun. Perhaps too lively for her era. She accompanied Louis on a long and perilous journey across Europe and the Middle East as part of the Second Crusade 1945-1949). There were battles, kidnap attempts, long journeys on horseback, by foot and boat; they repeatedly escaped death by inches; they were even briefly imprisoned, but by the time their disastrous journey was over the marriage had broken down. Finally back in France, Eleanor applied to the Pope for an annulment on the
grounds that as distant cousins she and Louis were too closely related. She ruled a vast area, she was incredibly wealthy; her husband refused to consider an annulment, and the Pope convinced her to try again. The result was the conception of their second daughter, but after the birth the need for a son overrode her wealth, and in 1152 Louis VII agreed to end the marriage. Eleanor’s two daughters remained with their father, but Eleanor retained her lands and her fortune, making her yet again extremely vulnerable to being kidnapped and forcibly married. Within two months she had married another cousin, Henry II, Duke of Normandy (and heir to the throne of England). She was 28, at the height of her beauty and physical strength. Two years later, in 1154, Henry II was crowned king of England and once again she was the queen of a mighty realm. The couple had eight children together over the next 13 years, during which time Henry also fathered several other children with his numerous mistresses. Politically, the times were tumultuous; territory in Europe was still being literally fought over, international allegiances being made and broken, thrones disputed... life itself was uncertain. By 1166, Eleanor and Henry’s marriage was falling apart. He was flaunting Rosamund Clifford at court, and in 1167 Eleanor packed up her personal possessions and moved back to France. In 1168, in Poitiers, then the capital of Aquitaine, she established her own court, independent of any other authority. She was 44, and finally in charge of her own lands. In 1173, however, her disgruntled son Henry launched a revolt against his father, and Eleanor encouraged him. Her sons Richard and Geoffrey (who had been living with their mother) joined in and might even have encouraged the lords of the south to join in. Whatever the precise details, she publicly supported the revolt against her own husband. Reluctantly he arrested her, and in 1174 took her back to England and imprisoned her. Henry’s mistress Rosamund died in 1176, and some said Eleanor was responsible. In 1183, Eleanor’s son Henry again rebelled against his father, aided and abetted by his brother Geoffrey, but was again vanquished, and a few months later he died of dysentery. Henry II claimed that his inherited lands in Normandy reverted to his mother, but the king of France, who by that time was Philip II (ie the son of Eleanor’s first husband with his third wife) said the lands belonged to young Henry’s widow, who just happened to be his half-sister.
Photos: Vintage Design Pics; Cantreau
The noblewoman led a long, extraordinarily eventful life of achievement, writes Jane Hanks
Inset: Known for her strength and beauty, the stature of Eleanor of Aquitaine was rare in a medieval man’s world; inset, her tomb alongside husband Henry at Fontevraud
Eleanor was lively, beautiful and fun. Perhaps too lively for her era
Eleanor was summoned to Normandy to sort it out. It was a slackening of her imprisonment, but not the end of it. A custodian dogged her every footstep. But over the next few years Eleanor travelled with her husband and was associated with his government of the realm. She was 65 when she was finally freed upon the death of her husband in 1189. Her son, Richard the Lionheart, inherited the throne and for a large part of his reign while he was abroad quelling the French, taking part in the crusades, or being held prisoner for ransom, she unofficially ruled England. In 1199, when Eleanor was around 76, her son John succeeded his brother to the throne. She was far from taking a back seat, however. In order to cement a truce between France and England, a marriage was arranged between the heir to the French throne and one of Eleanor’s granddaughters (from her daughter Eleanor who was queen of Castile). So she set off to Spain to choose a bride for her first husband’s grandson. On the way she was captured and held ransom. She paid her way out, arrived in Spain, selected her granddaughter Blanche as the bride and in 1200 set off to England, travelling by easy stages. It was too much for her, however. She was tired, ill and dispirited.
Photo: Fontevraud Abbey; Siren-Com
Photos: Lieu de Mémoire_JM Demars
Local history 23
November 2018 I French Living
The Protestant temple in the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon
Village imbued with spirit of charity and resistance From Huguenots to Jews, the village of Chambon-sur-Lignon has a centuries-old record of aiding the oppressed, writes Jane Hanks Secret history of buildings
L She never made it back to England. Blanche continued without her and Eleanor stayed in France. The struggle over territory continued. Her grandson Arthur (Geoffrey’s son) was John’s rival for the throne of England and Philip II was John’s confirmed enemy. In 1201, war broke out between Philip and John, Arthur tried to capture Eleanor and take control of her lands, her son John galloped to her rescue and captured Arthur, who was, after all, her grandson... Eleanor had spent her life embroiled in politics and power-broking, travelling, ruling over courts, and bearing children. It was enough. Her health was failing and she was tired. She retired to Fontevraud Abbey, where her second husband Henry II of England, and her son Richard the Lionheart, were entombed, and took the veil. She died there in 1204, and was entombed beside them. Her legacy was immense, says Laurent Védrine, the director of the Musée d’Aquitaine. “She was responsible for a major rapprochement between England, France and Aquitaine. Wine was a major export from Bordeaux to England, which led to all kinds of economic, artistic and
cultural exchanges. England also had links with Porto, another wine exporting city, and therefore links were formed between Bordeaux and Porto.” Alabaster was imported from England to Aquitaine, and the museum has a collection of alabaster artefacts dating from the period. There is no museum dedicated to Eleanor of Aquitaine, mainly because so little remains in terms of her belongings. There is no jewellery, no clothes or books, no furniture, ornaments of glassware. There is a vase in the Paris Louvre, which she gave to her first husband as a wedding present. It is made of rock crystal covered with a finely-worked, filigree gold mounting. It is the only existing item which she once owned or touched. The Abbaye Royale at Fontevraud still contains the intricately carved tombstones of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England, and Richard the Lionheart, along with other family members, but the abbey has been through so many changes, including being used as a prison from 1804-1963, that there is no trace of their mortal remains.
Above and inset: Mortal remains of Eleanor of Aquitaine do not remain at the Fontevraud; the only remaining physical relic that she once owned is a glass vase given to her husband. It is now on display at the Louvre
e Chambon-sur-Lignon in the Haute-Loire is the only village in France to have received the honorary title ‘Righteous Among The Nations’ from the state of Israel, which gives the title to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. From 1939–1944, the 20,000 inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and other surrounding villages, hamlets and farms on the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon hid and looked after a total of around 3,500 refugees, of which about a thousand were Jews. There is no record of anyone ever denouncing a neighbour in what has been called le miracle de silence. The area has a long history of sheltering persecuted communities. The Plateau Vivarais-Lignon, half in the Haute-Loire and half in the Ardèche departments, is at 1,000m and is an isolated, sparsely populated, mountainous area with plenty of woodland and has always been a good place to hide. In the 16th century, priests from Switzerland came to the area with their new Protestant beliefs and a strong Huguenot community developed. The remote area was spared many of the worst massacres and the Protestants remained strong, even after the Edict of Nantes in 1685 which outlawed their religion. Huguenots fleeing from other areas were welcomed there. To this day the region is still referred to as La Montagne Protestante, there are several protestant churches and nearby Le Mazet-Saint-Voy has been called the most protestant village in France. This spirit of resistance and welcome continued throughout the centuries. In
1902, the train arrived and with it tourists and also poor children from the cities, who were sent by charities such as Oeuvre des Enfants à la Montagne for holidays where they could breathe the fresh air and enjoy the open spaces. When the war began, the local priests urged the residents to take in refugees. There were not only Jews, but also Germans and Austrians fleeing the Nazi regime, Spaniards escaping civil war and French opponents to the Vichy regime. In particular, two protestant priests, Edouard Theis and André Trocmé and his wife Magda who were all pacifists, made a stand against anti-Semitism and rallied local people to hide refugees in attics, barns, hotels and cellars across the plateau. It is thought the collective memory of religious persecution during the Huguenot period made them particularly sympathetic to the plight of the Jews. The local population took in people who came to them through word of mouth, or who were sent by humanitarian organisations. After liberation, most of the refugees went back to their homes, though some still come to the village to thank the locals for what they did to save them. There is now a Lieu de Mémoire (inset) which was opened in 2013 and which has a growing number of visitors, keen to hear the stories of this brave community. Nathan Roumezi from the museum says it took a long time for the village to recognise this extraordinary courage: “At the end of the war the local people did not speak much about it. They were simple folk and for them what they did was a natural action, and not extraordinary.” He says the tradition of welcome continues to this day: “There are around 25 refugee families living on the plateau, mostly from Eritrea and the Congo.” www.memoireduchambon.com
24 The big picture
French Living I November 2018
Postie’s ideal palace has the X-facteur Photos: E. Georges
A French postman’s stonework story is set to find a new audience, says Samantha David
he ‘Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval’ (‘Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace’) in Hauterives, Drôme, is arguably the most extraordinary construction in France. A mishmash of turrets, stairways, terraces, balconies, hidden doorways and windows, the entire structure covered in hand-made fantastical sculpture, you need several visits to take it all in. There are real and imaginary animals, fruit and flowers, huge exotic gods, fairies, foreign scenes and decorative motifs, and there are maxims and mottos everywhere you look. The Facteur had things to say, and he quite literally set them in stone. Hundreds of his thoughts decorate the palace; they are carved from stone, are picked out in pebbles and shells, are daubed on the stone in white paint. “This is art, this is a dream, this is energy,” he wrote. “Let any man more obstinate than me get to work.” Born in 1836, Ferdinand Cheval’s mother died when he was 11, and he left school the following year. His father died shortly afterwards leaving him in the care of his maternal uncle. In 1858, at the age of 22, he married Rosalie Revol, and almost simultaneously disappeared for six years, ostensibly to find a job – but there is no record of what happened to him during that period apart from a brief mention of him as an apprentice baker in Valence. He returned to his wife in Hauterives in 1863, and the following year his first son was born, only to die a year later. A second son was born in 1866 but a year later, Ferdinand Cheval left the village again, this time to become a postman. When his wife died, he sent his son Cyril to live with relatives. It was only in 1878 that he returned to Hauterives again, as the postman. On his 18km daily rounds, he met his second wife, Claire Richaud and the year after they got married, at the age
of 43 he started building. The story goes that in 1879 he was inspired, by finding a particularly interesting stone on his rounds, to build a fountain and simply never stopped. For 33 years he collected stones on his rounds and used them to build a fantasy. He used picture postcards for inspiration, constructing marvellous foreign wonders he knew he would never see himself, and using them as a monument to express his own philosophy of life. He retired in 1896 at the age of 60, but continued building and by 1905, people had started to talk about his amazing palace and when an article about it appeared in a national magazine, La Vie Illustrée people suddenly wanted to see what he was doing. Two years later, there were so many visitors that Facteur Cheval had to employ someone to show them round. The palace was
Postman Ferdinand Cheval’s Hauterives creation took 33 years of dedication to complete
finally finished in 1912, when he was 76. For most people that would be enough. But not for the obstinate postman. Two years later, perhaps because his wife died, or perhaps because he had been told he could not be buried in his palace, he began work on a tomb in Hauterives cemetery, calling it Le Tombeau du silence et du repos sans fin (The Tomb of Silence and Rest without End). It took 10 years to build, and was in the same extraordinary, richly-decorated style as his palace. He finished it in 1922, just two years before he died at the age of 88. It is an extraordinary tale of perseverance and creativity in the face of personal tragedy. Facteur Cheval was not lucky when it came to family life. Orphaned as a child, he outlived both his wives and both his children. His daughter Alice, born the same year he started building his palace, died in 1894 when she was 15. Her loss was a bitter blow to her parents. His son Cyril (from his first marriage) died in 1912, and his second wife died
in 1914. Facteur Cheval left his palace to Cyril’s two daughters. For many years it was almost totally abandoned, people saying that it was just a monument to madness. Many visitors simply came to laugh and scoff at it. But in 1969 it was protected as a historical monument, and in 1983 it was restored. By 1994 ownership of it had passed into the hands of the local council, who now manage it. Over the years, it has become seen as an outstanding example of ‘art naïf’ and receives thousands of visitors per year. The garden in which it stands has been extended to include a new exhibition space and evening concerts are held in the summer months. Facteur Cheval’s story has become so well known, that it has been turned into a feature film, ‘Facteur Cheval’ directed by Nils Tavernier, which is coming out this November in France. Whether or not it is well-received, one thing is certain: it will make Facteur Cheval’s palace even better known than it is now.
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ME AND MY OPERATION: Grommets / aérateurs trans-tympaniques (ATT)
Son is much happier since grommets fixed his hearing The inside story of readers who have had operations in France – and how they found the health service, by Gillian Harvey Mark and Karen Slee came to live in France in 2011 with son Lewis, then two, as they had enjoyed many happy holidays here since Mark’s parents moved in 2001. They moved to Haute-Vienne after Mark’s building business began to struggle as a result of the economic climate and the family took the opportunity to live in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and give themselves a new start. Mark is now a self-employed builder, and Karen looks after Lewis and his five-year-old sister Letisha. Here is Karen’s story: Initial symptoms Although Lewis was generally healthy, he suffered a lot from sore throats. We also noticed that he did not always hear very well – for example, if we were talking to him from the next room. We took him for a GP appointment and were told to take him to an ear, nose and throat specialist (ORL - oto-rhino-laryngologiste) in Limoges. The specialist examined Lewis and told us that he was suffering from “glue ear” – a
FACTS ON EAR grommets
Dr Sébastien Wartelle, is ENT (ORL) specialist at the Clinique Marcel Sembat in Boulogne-Billancourt
Why are grommets used? Grommets are used to treat recurrent acute ear infections, or glue ear (where the middle ear fills with glue-like fluid instead of air). This is mainly found in children. Grommets may be called yoyos in French (or officially drains or aérateurs transtympaniques). Sometimes, the adenoids are also removed during the procedure. There are several types. Some are in place for a short time, falling out naturally after around nine months; others remain in place for at least two years and must be removed by a doctor. How do they work? Grommets provide ventilation, aerating the area behind the eardrum. They do not act as drains to evacuate liquid outward, but as an aerator to facilitate ventilation, evacuating liquid
through the eustachian tube in the middle ear. How long does the procedure to insert grommets take? The procedure is fast, simple and immediately effective. It takes place under general anaesthetic on a day-patient basis. The actual insertion takes around five minutes per ear. Are there any risks? Immediately after the procedure, it is common for discharge to be expelled from the ears through the aerator. Other complications include clogging of the aerator and premature expulsion of the grommet, leading to the initial problem recurring. In rare cases, the eardrum may be perforated, requiring an additional surgical procedure.
NEXT MONTH: Brain tumour – pituitary gland condition where excess fluid builds up in the middle ear canal and affects hearing. Although this can often clear up on its own, as Lewis’s symptoms had been going on for some time, the specialist told us that he would need to have grommets – small temporary tubes placed in the ear that help to keep the eardrum open and drain any fluid away. At the hospital A couple of months later, Lewis was booked in for the operation at the specialist children’s hospital in Limoges. As the operation was a day procedure, we arrived in the morning and were taken to a room where Lewis was able to change into a hospital gown. He was anxious, but the staff were excellent at calming him down. When they wheeled him off for his surgery, I felt quite panicky. Even though I knew it was a straightforward procedure, it was performed under general anaesthetic. Like most mums, I was terribly worried about the whole thing.
Lewis Slee was amazed after ear op
The operation Lewis was placed under general anaesthetic to enable the surgeon to insert
the grommets – tiny tubes – into the ear drum. The operation took less than an hour and although Lewis was a little sick when he came round from the anaesthetic, we were home by tea-time. Looking back, it was a very straightforward procedure and care was excellent. Aftercare It was amazing to see the change in Lewis after the grommets were inserted. He was amazed at how much he could hear – commenting on birdsong and other noises he had been unable to pick up beforehand. He had to wear special earplugs and a headband when swimming, but other than that did not need any special treatment. We had follow-up appointments at our local hospital every few months to check that the grommets were in place and doing their job. The grommets are eventually expelled naturally from the body within 12-18 months of the procedure, and usually no other aftercare is required. For Lewis, both grommets were expelled within 18 months, and he has been fine ever since. His hearing is perfect and he is a much happier boy.
Most French people can ski... to some extent This is false WITH the Alps to the east of France, Pyrénées to the west, Massif Central in between and Corsica to the south, it is obvious France is a ski nation. Each year, millions of people head to the mountains, and winter sports tourism accounts for 18% of the world’s most visited country’s total annual tourism income – a total of €9billion in 2018. In all, 100,000 seasonal jobs are created every year to cope
In this column we look at the ‘truths’ everyone ‘knows’ about France with the influx of visitors seeking snow, sun and après-ski at some 350 dedicated ski resorts. There is no denying skiing is big business. Even the winter school holidays are staggered to extend the ski season. The country is divided into three educational zones, each with different dates for their February and spring breaks in
a move to control the annual rush to the slopes. But a survey by social researchers Crédoc said only 8% of people go skiing at least every other year including 40% of managers who go on winter holidays at least once every two years, compared to 9% of workers. Just 13% of the population are skiers – 17% of whom say it is one of their top three sports. It was the seventh most popular sporting activity in 2017, after hiking, swimming, rugby, football, cycling and tennis.
According to the latest figures from Statista, Germany has more skiers – 14.6million take part each year, compared to the 8.5million in France. In percentage terms, the Swiss are the most active skiers, with 37%, ahead of Austria with 36%, then Norway and Finland with 25% and 24% respectively. The Fédération Française de Ski has 950 ski clubs and 130,000 skiers – of whom 48,000 are serious sports skiers and 82,000 are leisure skiers.
More funds for green prime after cash ran out THE GOVERNMENT has increased the budget allocated to a state bonus scheme for scrapping a polluting car to buy a cleaner car by 47% for next year, after the agency paying it ‘ran out of money’ this year. Some €570million is allocated for paying the prime à la conversion in 2019, up from 2018’s €388million. However those hoping to benefit may wish to make their purchases this year so as to benefit from current rules as it is expected that the government will toughen the criteria meaning certain models that are eligible this year may cease to be. The amount of the bonuses should stay the same. Thousands of drivers, many from low-income households, were left waiting for months this year after payments reportedly ground to a halt in May after far more people than predicted applied for the bonus, which had been revamped to be available to more people than the former prime à la casse. The previous version was only for scrapping a diesel car and only for purchase of new cars, whereas the new one is for scrapping either diesel or petrol cars and it includes purchase of second-hand cars (as well as electric scooters and motorbikes). Also whereas the former bonus was subject to means-testing the new one is available to all, though at different levels depending on whether your household is eligible to pay tax or not. The agency charged with paying it reportedly ran out of money due to demand: 170,000 had applied by mid-September,
far above the target of 100,000 in 2018. In some cases it was garages, which can advance the money as a deduction from the price, who were left waiting – in other cases it was individuals who had applied for the cash. Ministry figures showed 70% of those applying would have been eligible for a €2,000 bonus for those with no taxable income and would have made up the bulk of the people waiting. Reports said some had taken loans to make up shortfalls. Two-thirds of applicants were buying a second-hand car. The government insisted everyone with a valid dossier would be paid and on writing €86million had been released with promises to pay outstanding bonuses as soon as possible. To benefit people can either scrap a petrol car dating from before 1997 or a diesel car dating from (for non taxpayers) before 2006 of (for taxpayers) from before 2001. They must buy a car (or two or three-wheeler or quad bike) that has low emissions, either electric or if not electric then with emissions of (in 2018) less than 130gCO2/km and with a Crit’Air label of 1 or 2. As for the bonus (which cannot be more than the vehicle is worth) for a car or van it is up to €1,000 for taxpayers or €2,000 for non taxpayers, or in both cases €2,500 for an electric vehicle. For bikes the amounts are respectively €100 or €1,100 depending on tax status. Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said drivers would make an immediate saving as new cars used up to a third less fuel than a 20-year-old one.
Go online for tyre deals Photo: A.Viazemsky CC0
NEW tyres are pricey so it is good to find a way to cut costs, especially for drivers in mountain areas who may need to buy winter tyres. Several websites have a wide range for all budgets and vehicles and many have partner garages to fit purchases. Allopneus.com is one of the biggest and it says the garages get the advantage of a possible new client, even if the money made from tyre fitting is low. It and others also offer a home service in some areas where a van will come to you to change your tyres. Allo pneus say this costs ‘from €14.90’ per tyre. One reader said: “I recently
changed my Mini’s tyres at the Feu Vert chain. At €61.90 each, with €15.90 fitting each, it was €330.80 including the insurance I foolishly took. “There was no saving to be made by buying them online on Feu Vert’s site. “Online, with free delivery, they were €59.80 on Allopneus and €56.88 at Pneus Online while 123pneus.fr had the same tyres for €57.10.” The cost of fitting of the tyres at partner garages varies from around €12 to €30 per tyre. The reader added that overall there are savings to be made if you shop around, and you also get the chance to take your time to choose the ideal tyres.
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
P25 North France
Tel Codes 01 - 03
P25 South East France Tel Code 04
P26 South West France Tel Code 05
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 www.hars.co.uk, email email@example.com or call us on 00 44 1635 48724.
The Connexion November 2018
ALL OF FRANCE
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 Christine Haworth-Staines UK Chartered Psychologist
Psychology & Counselling From private practice in Toulouse & Mielan Or via Skype
Start a Business
INTERNATIONAL PETS & LIVE ANIMALS
World Wide Pet Relocator Ministry approved
A totally professional website for your gite business for only £395
Contact: 05.62.67.09.17 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.counsellorandpsychologist.com
Gary Automobiles EURL Telephone: 0033 4 74 43 89 51 Mobile: 0033 6 84 85 04 61 Email: email@example.com www.gary-automobiles.com
FRENCH CONVERSATION VIA SKYPE Friendly individual French tuition with English speaking French lady
www.french-tuition-online.com firstname.lastname@example.org 04 68 58 33 42 / 06 24 52 00 37
COUNSELLING IN FRANCE
All are qualified, work with a professional code of ethics and assure confidentiality.
Sworn Translations &
HOUSES ON INTERNET
Sell your property to a worldwide audience using our global network. Our fees are the lowest in France, our results are the best. WWW. HOUSESONINTERNET.COM
Tel: +31 (0)6 41 20 73 69
Help with the French System
Tel: 01 48 62 87 25 CDG Paris Tel: 02 33 38 41 32 Normandy www.goldenwaypets.com
Paperwork, Phone calls Translation, Interpreting
Please contact Hilary Decaumont 00 33 (0) 2 33 59 17 07
YEW TREE HORSE TRANSPORT
International pet Animal transport
QUALIFIED ENGLISH FRENCH TRANSLATOR
Tel; +44 (0)1952 460607 Mobile; +44 (0)7802 355795 www.horsetransport.uk.net Deliveries all France
Chartered Institute of Linguists Associate (not sworn translator)
Friendly, experienced, reliable - Competitive rates
+33 645 587 956 | email@example.com www.nc-languages.com
ARBFRENCHPROPERTY.COM The new way to buy & sell property in France Join Us Today
Free floor plan included
www.arbfrenchproperty.com firstname.lastname@example.org TEL: 0044 (0) 1803 469367
Cedric Mitchell Architecte Bilingual French registered architect offers full or partial architectural service, Permis de Construire applications undertaken.
Tel: 00377 93 25 42 68 France Tel: 0044(0) 1243 773166 UK Mobile: 07703 525050 email@example.com www.about-architects.com R.I.B.A. / ORDRE DES ARCHITECTES (Provence - Alpes - Cote d’Azur)
For French-themed gift ideas
see our shop at connexionfrance.com
BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT NETWORK
Are you grieving for a loved one and needing to talk? We support the bereaved and terminally ill, face to face in the Var, and by telephone elsewhere in France.
www.bsnvar.org firstname.lastname@example.org 04 94 84 64 89 between 07:00 and 23:00 06 32 35 31 24
French without Fear Language in Languedoc
One-to-one tuition, professional teacher, Oxford degree, self-catering accommodation
email@example.com www.cours-a-cucugnan.com Tel: 06 78 15 19 29
Certified translations as required by CAF, Prefecture, Courts, Notaires (Births, Adoptions, Marriages, Deaths – Divorces – Wills – Companies House documents…)
Contact: 06 88 59 91 90 firstname.lastname@example.org
MASTER FRENCH IN TWO WEEKS
Friendly Sorbonne Teacher, specialised beginners
Fun caring efficient - Mediterranean village email@example.com www.myfrenchschool.net Tel: 06 85 14 04 65
Gary at his office near Lyon
French Properties Direct Buy, sell or rent your French property privately
Therapy and coaching in English Face-to-face, webcam, online, telephone, workshops, self-help, courses, residential retreats.
No. 61195004 – 61195001 Offices CDG Airport Paris Offices and Kennels Normandy
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
BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER If you are selling your French home our knowledgeable local team would be delighted to meet you as soon as possible.
n Free estimation A dedicated contact working as part of a team n Award-winning marketing n Thousands of registered buyers Freephone from France: 08 05 69 23 23 firstname.lastname@example.org www.beauxvillages.com n
No estate agency fees to pay us by either buyer or seller and a friendly and professional service Tel: +33 (0)6 71 61 09 26 www.frenchpropertiesdirect.com email@example.com
Claim confusion? Have you had difficulty understanding assessors? Our Lloyd’s household insurance claims are handled entirely in English and can even be settled in £ Sterling. Penny at GSAR Insurance Brokers
firstname.lastname@example.org 05 53 40 15 71
SwissLife Ins urance British staff only Since 1898, we have specialised in top-up health, home, car insurance and private banking. Please call Peter and Lawrence On: 05 56 28 94 64 Web: swisslife-health-insurance.fr email@example.com
FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATES & CLIENT SERVICE 05 53 06 36 70
PIONEER FRANCE Hundreds of practical questions are answered in Connexion helpguides Order downloads at
ALL OF FRANCE
The Connexion November 2018
Is your Top Up health insurance up for renewal? Prior to your health insurance contract in France renewing for a further year always take the time to compare prices and to look for better cover.
Top up health insurance contracts run for one year and are automatically renewed each year. There are two options to cancel a top up health insurance contract. The first is to send a letter of cancellation, by recorded delivery, which must be sent two months before the anniversary date of your contract. SwissLife’s Peter Musto explains the other means of cancelling. “The second option is by “loi Chatel”. Every year when it gets close to your anniversary date, your insurance company will send you a letter or an email
Agence International Dedicated English speaking agency staffed by native English speakers • • • • • •
Insurance Health insurance Pensions & Investments Life assurance Banking & lending Business insurance
Tel: 05 61 07 16 84 firstname.lastname@example.org www.axa-in-france.fr
For Daily updates see
ASTTRAL sa INSURANCE BROKERS
Regulated Insurance Broker Independent not tied to one company, best price & quality We can meet all your insurance needs Health (top up or private), House, Car, Business / Commercial Email: email@example.com Tel: 04 68 32 41 20 Web: www.asttral.com Siret No: 411 673 106 00018
French & UK Mortgages
House Purchases, Capital Raising, BTL, Renovations, Remortgages, Bridging Loans. +44 (0)1189076586 +33 (0)7 80 00 62 97 +44 (0)7990934612 bluebaymortgages.co.uk
Accountants and Tax Advisors Paris & London offices Services offered in France and UK Tax Returns Accounts Business setup n Payroll n VAT n
Paris Tel: +33 142931842 London Tel: +44 845 680 1638 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
called “Appel de Cotisation”. This is the renewal information about your health insurance contract. On the envelope you will have a date stamped by the post office; if it is by email the date will be on it. You have 20 days only from that date to cancel your contract. “A letter must be sent by recorded delivery in which you must mention that you wish to cancel your contract by loi chattel. Peter continues, “But don’t worry, we will do this for you and we will also pay for the recorded delivery”. Specialists in personal insurance, SwissLife is a leading provider of Top Up health insurance, home and car insurance, investments and private banking for expats living in France. Their experience and professionalism constitutes the foundation for their leading position in the market and over 2 million customers place their trust in SwissLife’s products and services. Based
in Bordeaux, Peter and colleague Lawrence are members of the only SwissLife agency in France to work with English speaking clients offering a wide range of Healthcare Insurance and General Insurance solutions backed by one of Europe’s leading Insurance providers. Peter says, “Our British staff pledges to work very hard to provide you with quality insurance and excellent service. We offer a fully flexible menu of healthcare insurance options so clients can use health insurance to their advantage. “Customers choose what suits them best. For example you can choose to have a higher level of cover for hospitalisation and less for dentistry, or the opposite. In addition there are no medical questionnaires, no age limits and the guaranties are effective immediately so why not check what we have to offer”. For more information contact either Peter or Lawrence; they will be delighted to help.
Heslop & Platt Solicitors & French Law specialists Providing quality, professional and efficient French legal advice in English Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930 email@example.com
Stop cleaning your pool yourself PoolGobbler Pro automatically removes all flies, wasps and leaves from your pool surface.
or call 0565 319623
Contact Lawrence or Peter at SwissLife for your healthcare insurance needs Tel: 05 56 28 94 64 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.swisslife-health-insurance.fr
SSAFA FRANCE The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association
Electric Underfloor Heating Kits Extensions and New Build Tiles, Wood/Laminate Floors Insulation Boards Contact for Quotation email@example.com www.chaleurosol.fr
for ex-servicemen and their families living in France
Regions: All France - Siret: 502962772
The national charity helping serving and ex-Service men, women and their families, in need Registered Charity No. 210760. Est 1885
Bespoke renewable energy heating systems including solar, wood /pellet , ASHP, UFH ... More information on our website.
Email: France@ssafa.org.uk France-wide answer service Tel: 05 53 24 92 38
Tel: 06 27 66 33 74
www.enershop.eu Tel : 07 67 04 07 53 firstname.lastname@example.org
INDEPENDENT BROKERS Working with selected insurers to find the best policy for your needs at competitive rates MOTOR, HOUSE, MEDICAL TRAVEL, BUSINESS
For information and quotes in English contact Penny at G.S.A.R. 05 53 40 15 71 email@example.com
Jean-Marie LECOMTE ST HILAIRE DU HARCOUET - 50600
HOME - CAR - HEALTH We insure UK registered cars for up to 12 months
(call Angeline) - 02 33 49 12 34 firstname.lastname@example.org
New! Brexit and Britons in France helpguide What’s next and what to expect with interviews, analysis, reader stories and an overview of the practical issues.
Order at connexionfrance.com
Digital Hearing Aids Need help with your (((hearing))) English Audiologist Tests and advice Visit http:// hearingaidsfrance.com
TOP PRICE FOR VINYL RECORDS Tel: 05 63 94 08 91 Mobile: 06 83 32 65 15
or email@example.com 82120 Marsac
Advice on all aspects of living in France, buying/selling, French administration, income tax, etc... Competent, experienced. Contact me now for your free consultation.
Rachel THOMAS-BONNET LLB Hons +33 (0)6 62 78 39 77 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit me at
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
Tel 0033 (0)4 74 43 89 51 or 0033 (0)6 84 85 04 61 email@example.com
Cars, motorhomes and vans wanted Both LHD and RHD.
ECOPELLET BOILERS Fuel saving, efficient, wi-fi connected INSTALLERS also wanted Full training, support www.ecopowereurope.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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: www.justkitchens.fr Or call for a chat: 05.62.58.03.64
Also part-exchange. Collection in the UK or France. Polite service. Please email, text or telephone and we will call you back.
All of France with showrooms in the South West
email@example.com or Tel +33 (0) 6 88 07 20 36 +44 (0) 7473 293494
FOSSE SEPTIQUE TREATMENT An ecological alternative to a pump out www.eco-tabs.biz
Touraine Property Services
Caretaking - Cleaning - Key holding Liaising with Artisans - Gite changeover Depts. 36, 37 & 41 firstname.lastname@example.org 07 71 78 75 17
Latest Sky & Freesat decoders supplied & installed Sky subscriptions available without UK address.
Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.com Siret - 48003796900015
The Connexion November 2018
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
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
Moving to or from France?
SELF STORAGE DOVER
CRANBURYS Movers - Shippers - Storers
Full and Part Loads throughout Europe Tel +44 (0)23 8065 2630 Email email@example.com www.cranburys.co.uk
Convenient, Flexible, Secure Working with your Movers 24/7 Access
Tel: +44 (0) 1304 822 844 firstname.lastname@example.org
www.doverstorage.co.uk All France
Weekly services to & from France
Full or part loads, 4 wks free storage, 35 Years experience Bar Member Contact: Anglo French Removals Tel: +44 (0) 1622 690 653
Delivery and Removals Full or Part Loads
REMOVALS - STORAGE GENERAL TRANSPORT EXPRESS SERVICE
Email: email@example.com www.anglofrenchremovals.co.uk
SPAIN - UK - FRANCE SERVICE
1 CUBIC METRE TO FULL TRAILER LOADS
Hundreds of practical questions are answered in Connexion helpguides
FRANCE & UK COLLECTION REALISTIC PRICES Call Steve: 05 49 97 11 25 firstname.lastname@example.org
DEDICATED EXPRESS LOADS
Light Haulage Ltd. UK-France-UK Man with a van service Reliable, ex-police Fully insured, competitive rates
For further information please call Mick or Helen on Tel: UK 0333 022 0359 Fr: 07 68 64 22 54 www.milenlighthaulage.co.uk email@example.com
REMOVALS UK - FRANCE - UK • Weekly Service • Full & Part Loads • Container Storage • BAR Members • On-line Quotation
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 www.georgewhiteeuropean.co.uk
Tel 06 46 49 73 45 firstname.lastname@example.org www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk
English TV in your French Home Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice
02 97 27 58 50 www.tvbrittany.com
English registered cars House insurance - Health cover 1800 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 email@example.com Dinan, Brittany
PROFESSIONAL EXPORT PACKING SERVICE
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT : MURRAY HARPER EUROPEAN 0034 952793422
WOODBURNERS Ash Grove Stoves Supplier of Hunter - Parkway
EMAIL INFO@MURRAYHARPER.COM WWW.MURRAYHARPER.COM
Need a Full/Part Load? For all your Courier & Transport Needs
Clean Burn - Fire Visible Boiler versions available Deliveries all over France Prices on our website Lowest Prices Guaranteed Tel: 00 44 (0) 1392 861579 www.ashgrovestoves.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Gateway International for more information
+33 (0)6 77 75 97 14 or +44 (0) 1483 808686 email@example.com www.gatewayinternational.co.uk
Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasion, Christmas, Hand-made and Open - From €1.00 Hand Written Service Available
Chenil Les Mille Calins English Run
Formally HETAS, & NACS registered Fully Insured - No Mess Competitive Rates 02 14 15 58 52 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
www.goldenwaypets.com Telephone 02 33 37 49 19 Emergency 02 33 38 41 32 Fax 02 33 38 44 16
Tel: 02 97 60 27 21 email@example.com
www.englishcardsinfrance.net Siret: 538 583 60000019
00 44 1722 414350
Company Regn No: UK 5186435
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
Order downloads at
SINGLE BOX / PART LOAD SPECIALIST
• Estimates in France
Furniture for France
WAREHOUSE DROP OFF SERVICE
Need Urgent Documents Delivered?
REFLEX MOODYS LTD SALISBURY
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 expectancy of introduce great ranges of furniture for over 15 years, it pays to get it right,” said Mr delivery to our customers in France without Muir. Furniture for France makes deliveries compromising on quality or service.” as far afield as Geneva and Nice, as well as locally to customers in the Dordogne, the 06 46 49 73 45 Lot, Charente and Limousin. firstname.lastname@example.org Mr Muir added: “We will continue to www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk
Love French Interiors
French Reproduction Furniture.
One simple price up to 25Kg
Hand crafted from Mahogany.
Delivery in 3 - 4 working days
Wide choice of finish options.
The savvy expat’s favourite service!
Tel: 0044 1738 633220 www.pharosparcel.com
Full customisation possible. Bespoke Design service available. Delivery throughout France. www.lovefrenchinteriors.com
0044 (0) 20 3474 0092
Carpentry, masonry, plastering, kitchens, replacement windows and doors
www.mesnilrenovation.com Tel. 02 31 09 26 54 Siret 48423125300010
Premier Renovations 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 email@example.com
Siret 51442634500013 - Covering Depts 22, 35, 56
Pete's Roofing Covering the Gard
All types of roofs renewed / repaired Velux roof windows - Guttering
04 66 72 75 84
firstname.lastname@example.org Siret No: 50066265500017
Multi-Service - Builders
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
05 SOUTH west
The Connexion November 2018
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
AUDE & HERAULT 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: email@example.com
www.midibuilder.com Siret 4846 8735 500012
Aude / Herault Gary Alderson
Electrician Friendly, Experienced, UK Qualified, French Registered Rewires, Installation, Fault Finding Tel 07 83 05 29 43 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Siret 81115002800017
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.
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. 07 67 04 07 53 email@example.com www.enershop.eu
THE DORDOGNE CATTERY
ELECTRICIAN Experienced & French Registered.
CONTACT PETER Maslen 05 53 31 95 88 / 06 86 94 85 78 firstname.lastname@example.org www.dordognecattery.com
Tel: 05 46 86 07 61 Email: email@example.com
PENSION POUR CHATS NEAR SARLAT, OPEN-AIR, INSULATED AND HEATED
Available for all types of electrical work. Insured and guaranteed. Areas: 16,17,24,47 Siret No. 49376573200015
design : parkes architecture SARL Architects & Designers Dossiers for Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables Interior & Landscape Design Tel: 05 53 09 33 45 Fax : 05 53 09 36 12
Creation, Garden Maintenance, Tree Surgery, Felling Property Services
Tel. 05 65 34 09 91
Working dept: south 19, 46
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.parkesarchitecture.com Depts: 16,19,24,33,87
All Gardening Work - Cutting Strimming - Hedge Trimming Clearance - Property Services Depts - 24,46,47 Tel: Bob & Tracy 06 42 82 44 96 Email: email@example.com siret : 48293447800017
DEMPSEY TREE SURGERY CONTRACTORS
Sky, Freesat & French TV
Supplied & Fully Installed
Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.co.uk Please see our main advert in the Connexion
British trained & qualified tree surgeon All tree work undertaken.
Paul the Plasterer City & Guilds Qualified
Plastering, boarding, external pointing, painting and decoration Tel: 06 48 56 22 83 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wrought Iron Work Handrails Gates Railings Pergolas Stairs l
Tel: 05 45 65 96 86 Mob: 06 61 90 04 92 email@example.com www.dempseytreesurgery.com Working in dept: 16, 17, 24, 87 Siret: 48930027700014
Jardins du Périgord - Design - Creation - Garden management
High quality work by qualified gardeners
Qualified English Artisan
Plastering, Pointing, Crepi, Tiling, Plasterboard, Insulation, Painting Call: 05 65 10 76 90 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.plasterthelot.com Siret: 53068838100017 Regions Covered: 46, 19
• Rural Broadband • UK & French TV Satellite & On-Demand
• CCTV & Alarms • WiFi Installation • Home Audio & Cinema
Tel 06 80 55 06 09 SW France email@example.com
Luxury Cattery - Cales near Lalinde - Very Spacious - Lots of Love and Attention Tel: Paula 05 53 24 14 42 www.thecatsinncattery.com paulaL24150@aol.com Siret No.520 980 269 00010
HEALTH AND COUNSELLING
Consultus Care and Nursing Short term positions available for live in carers in the UK
ROBERT JONES ELECTRICITE Fully insured, registered electrician. Rewires, renovation, new builds, heating and A/C. Dépt. 47 Tél. 06 81 98 43 22 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org www.agenelec.com
Email: email@example.com www.consultuscare.com CHARITY
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 www.chatsduquercy.fr
PHOENIX ANIMAL RESCUE
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:
www.phoenixasso.com www.facebook.com/ PhoenixAssociationFrance
Inside & Outside l Made to Measure l Dept 46 Tel: 05 65 30 53 99 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.ironwoodmotif.com
Plaster The Lot
The Cats Inn
484 432 323 00018 - Regions Covered: 24, 47, 33
04 68 26 61 22
Sky In France
Bob Freeman Satellite and aerial systems installed and repaired. UK boxes available. Senior Sky engineer 05 53 06 08 65 email@example.com www.digitalsatellites.fr
Make a difference to an elderly or vulnerable person’s life
Ordre des Architectes No. 1867
Swimming Pool Leak Detection and Repair
The eVolution 26 wood boiler stove is an impressive feature as well as providing heating and domestic hot water.
Property Management Services
Les Amis Des Chats promotes sterilisation to improve the well-being of stray and pet cats in the rural villages of SW France.
WE NEED VOLUNTEERS
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 www-les-amis-des-chats.com Registered charity no: W821000447
ANGLICAN CHURCH IN THE TARN
* Property Check * Property Maintenance * Garden Services * Change Over * Design & Styling
Every Sunday: 11 am at BRENS CHURCH, GAILLAC
+ 33 (0)5 45 82 55 93 / + 33 (0)7 70 76 58 89 www.gapdm.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Info: 05 63 33 12 76 www.churchinmidipa.org
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS SOUTH OF FRANCE Is Alcohol Costing You More Than Money?
Call Alcoholics Anonymous.0820 200 257
www.aa-riviera.org Siret : 49197537100015
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS South West France Have you a problem? www.aafrance.net Or Call Shepperd 06.74.95.19.66 Angela 05.49.87.79.09
For unique, French-themed gift ideas see our shop at connexionfrance.com jobs OFFERED
The Connexion November 2018
Useful telephone numbers
Hundreds of practical questions answered in Connexion helpguides Order print / downloads at connexionfrance.com
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 lifethreatening situations u 15: Samu (for other urgent medical callouts) u 17: Police / Gendarmes u 112: Universal European Emergency Services number - 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 www.3237.fr) TELECOMS u ORANGE Website in English: www. orange.com/en/home To report a fault online: www.1013.fr 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 00 33 9 69 36 63 83) Use this link to send an email: https://particulier.edf.fr/en/home/billing/ view-your-bill.html GAS u Gas leaks: 01 43 35 40 87 WATER u Generale des Eaux Web: www.service-client.veoliaeau.fr Online form links users to the office dealing with their area u Ondeo Suez-Environnement Web: www.suez-environnement.com/en/ homepage Tel: 01 58 18 50 00 EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES uBritish Embassy (Paris): 01 44 51 31 00 uBordeaux consulate: 05 57 22 21 10 uMarseille consulate: 04 91 15 72 10 uUK passport advice + 44 (0) 300 222 0000 (calls cost up to 12p/min from a UK landline - see French operators for exact cost) Mon - Fri: 8:00 - 20:00, Weekends: 9:00 - 17:30 OTHER EMBASSIES uIrish, Paris: 01 44 17 67 00 uUS, Paris: 01 43 12 22 22 uCanadian, Paris: 01 44 43 29 00
There are monthly Anglo-French lodge meetings for freemasons in Agen. All enquiries to Mike Dowsett, Tel: 05 63 94 52 25 or email email@example.com EuroMayenne is looking for amateur artists and craftspeople to exhibit their creations at their 24th annual Craft Fair, to be held on Sunday, October 28, 2018, 10.00 to 18.00, at Mayenne Exhibition Hall.
(Geneva-based): offering cancer support in Geneva, Vaud and French border areas. Tel: +41 (0) 22 791 63 05 or email info cancersupport.ch or www.cancersupport.ch u Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces (SSAFA): Tel: 0800 731 4880 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com (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) firstname.lastname@example.org u Alzheimer: English help group at France Alzheimer: 0800 97 20 97 www.francealzheimer.org OTHER INFO u AFIF (funerals info): 01 45 44 90 03 u Speaking clock: 3669. u Weather: 08 92 68 02 + dept. u Last incoming call: 3131, then ‘5’ if you wish to connect. u MasterCard Loss/Theft of card Calling from France: 09 69 39 92 91 / Calling from Abroad: +33 96 93 99 291 u Loss/Theft of chequebook Calling from France: 08 92 68 32 08 / Calling from Abroad: +33 89 26 83 208
You can see more events and post your own at connexionfrance.com/community/events Runners wishing to do their bit in the fight against cancer are invited to run all or part of the 11th Nice-Cannes marathon for charity on November 4. You can run alongside the team from Mimosa, which was set up as a “kitchentable charity” on the Riviera three years ago by a team of nine women. Mimosa will support you every step of the way – from training to motivation and they even do all the marathon admin for you too. Their aim this year is to double their presence and, most importantly, their fundraising to allow them to help even more people. You can choose to do the whole marathon, half or run as part of a relay team with sections available of less than 3kms. Register to run at www.mimosamatters. org and if you are unable to run but would like to make a donation, visit www.alvarum.com/mimosarunners2018
Starsky and Hutch are on an eco-mission and they need your help! Retired British fireman Martin ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson is cycling around France with his dog, Starsky, telling school pupils about how everyday awareness can help save the environment. He would like Connexion readers to get in touch if they would like him to visit a school near them. He pedals along in a recumbent bicycle, and on his way, he collects litter, organises clean-ups that he posts on Facebook, visits schools and creates YouTube clips. Thanks to the schools which got in touch after Connexion ran a story online, Mr Hutchinson says he has spent three hours in three schools. He will visit Châtenois, Langres, Dijon, Lyon and Nice. Readers wishing to contact him should do so via his Facebook page: www.facebook. com/martin.hutchinson.94
uAustralian, Paris: 01 40 59 33 00 uNZ, Paris: 01 45 01 43 43 uSouth 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 www.servicepublic.fr/ u CAF: www.caf.fr; Tel: 08 10 25 14 10 u CPAM (state healthcare): www.ameli.fr English-speaking helpline: 08 11 36 36 46 Calling hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30 - 17:30 u URSSAF: 3957 + department number u CLEISS: Social security advice when moving between countries: 01 45 26 33 41. Mon, Wed & Friday : 9:00 -12:30, Tues & Thurs : 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; www.counsellinginfrance.com u Alcoholics Anonymous: regular meetings are held (some are in English) across the country. For a list of local Englishlanguage groups see: www.alcoholicsanonymous.eu u SOS Help: similar to the Samaritans, listeners who are professionally trained; Tel 01 46 21 46 46 (open 3:00-23:00 daily); www.soshelpline.org u Cancer Support France: for advice and someone to talk to. Tel: 0800 240 200 or email email@example.com u English Speaking Cancer Association
2017 saw 90 exhibitors and over 3,000 visitors. For further details and booking forms, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 06 73 71 96 52; www.euromayenne.org/salon Animal lovers can do their bit for charity by attending the Elephant Haven’s Halloween weekend on October 27 and 28 (10:00 to 17:00) in Haute-Vienne, Limousin. While the haven still does not have any elephants (the construction of the elephant barn and fence is in progress), the weekend features stands, cakes, soup and music! Location: Elephant Haven 5, Rétabout, St Nicolas Courbefy, 87230 Bussière-Galant. www.elephanthaven.org Concerts to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War will be held on Saturday November 3 at 15:00 at the Salle Municipale, Saint-Mayeux, Côtes-d’Armor. La Chorale de St Mayeux (with some members of La Fanfare de Corlay), together with AIKB’s La Troupe Arlequin (Association Intégration Kreiz Breizh), will present a concert of music, poetry and readings from the First World War. Tea and cakes will be served in the interval. Entry fee is €2 with a voluntary contribution on leaving – all profits will go to charity. www.aikb.fr/whats-on.html
Calling folk music fans: Le Quetzal is an English-run Folk Club (+ rock, reggae and world) with open mike every first Sunday of each month from 19:00 till late. The venue is 18 rue des Augustins, Montauban. Home made Mexican food and drinks will be on offer, and the next session is on Sunday November 4. Tel: 05 63 66 15 34. Look sharp! CSF (Cancer Support France) Provence Gard, the charitable association offering help, support and accompaniment to any Anglophone person touched by cancer in Provence and Gard, is holding a spectacular Fashion Show as a fundraising event on Thursday November 8 at 16:00. The show will be held in the house of M. & Mme. Roux in Rocheferrand (30700, Saint-Siffret) who have again graciously opened their doors. Signs will be posted from the road Uzès-Saint-Siffret onwards to guide you to the destination. Fashions are in conjunction with ‘Bydebo’ and ‘Next Door’ boutiques in Uzès, with models accompanied on the piano by Reinout De Smet. A champagne “tea” will be served. Entrance fee including the tea is €20. To avoid disappointment, please register with Roger Ordish, Tel: 04 66 75 63 69 or email: email@example.com Website: http://csfprovencegard.com/ The English Theatre Group (pictured, top) based in the Gers department will be paying tribute in words and music to commemorate the centenary of the end of the
professional performance poet, contact anntonrice@aol. com. For this event, visit www. lasouterraineenglishlibrary.fr
First World War. Follow the personal story of Ben and Nellie’s wartime experiences and be prepared to join in with well-known songs and be moved by war poetry. Performances take place on November 9 (at Salle des Fêtes in Sainte-Dode) and November 10 at (Salle des Fêtes in Caillavet), both starting at 18:00. Tickets are €12 and include “rations” – a baked potato with chilli con carne served in a “mess tin” – plus a welcome drink. €6 for under 12s. There will be a bar. To secure tickets, contact Ruth on 05 62 67 12 99 or info@englishtheatrecompany32 If you enjoy poetry head to the library in La Souterraine, Creuse (10 Rue du Portail) on November 10 at 14:00 for a live show by performance poet Anthony Rice. His works provides an eclectic mix of life, love, work, play and laughs and is described as being “Poetry for those who think they don’t like poetry. Poetry for those who would like to write but don’t know how to start. Poetry for those who love poetry in all its forms.” Anthony, now a long-time resident in France, delivers his work with humour and while he presents his work in the English language many of his poems have been translated into French, so when necessary, he can use a translator who understands linguistic nuances. Anthony is available for further bookings and if you are a non-profit organisation, he and his wife Anne, who is also his manager, do not make a charge for their services. However, they will accept some help with diesel costs, depending on distance. If you are looking for an entertaining,
Get into the festive spirit at the Cancer Support France Nord Christmas Fayre, which will be held on Saturday November 24 from 10:0016:00 at Salle des Fêtes, Notre Dame du Touchet, Manche, Normandy. There will be a café selling bacon and sausage sandwiches and soup plus a bar, mulled wine, and many stalls selling goods from local artisans. For further details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: https://cancersupportfrance.org Calling all singers! The Variations Choir rehearses on Wednesday evenings at the Palais de Justice in Ribérac, Dordogne from 19:15 to 21:45. Their programme includes a concert ‘Magic Moments’ to be performed on 30th November in Villetoureix and they will start preparing for an Easter concert in April 2019 – the Brahms Requiem, to be sung in English. Contact Janetta on 09 65 23 29 30 or email@example.com for more information. Local English-speaking Christians invite you to hear again the Christmas story with traditional Christmas Carols and Bible readings at the church of St Hippolyte at Fontès (Hérault) on Sunday December 9 at 15:00, followed by mince pies and wine. http://heraultenglishchurch.fr Enjoy the festive build-up in Apremont, Vendée, at the Christmas artisan market on Saturday December 8 from 14:00 and Sunday December 9 from 10:30. It will be held in the centre of the village, around the shop Les Beaux Cadeaux and also in the very large hall at the rear of the restaurant Le Centre. All gifts will be handmade by registered artists and there will be only one stand of each craft, which organisers hope will make it more interesting for the public! There will be food and wine, music and carols plus a collection for the Telethon. If you would like to participate as a stall holder, or require more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connexion November 2018
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: www.eco-tabs.biz 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 www.eco-tabs.biz email@example.com
Suspend telephone and broadband services when you are away France has a very high number of second homes and holiday home owners do not want to pay all the year round for telephone and broadband services. Bob Elliott, a director at UK Telecom explains available options. Until May of 2018 Orange offered customers the ability to suspend their services but recently has stopped this. UK Telecom continues to offer the ability to suspend services to all customers, not just second home owners. There are two alternatives available. Firstly those customers on a Dégroupage Partiel service (where calls are carried over the line and broadband sits separately on it) can suspend their
broadband, but not their line rental, whilst those with the Dégroupage Total (where the telephone line’s voice service is deactivated, and calls over the broadband service) can suspend their broadband contract whilst incurring a charge of 5€/month as there is no line rental to pay. The period of suspension is limited to a maximum of 4 months in any 12 month period, but is very convenient as the suspension of both types of service are managed remotely. We also understand that owners are not always available to help visitors who may have problems connecting to the wifi or need other assistance. Customer care remains at the heart of all we do and we have we have responded to owners needs by providing a free insert for their property brochure that gives a direct line to our support team. In this way visitors can get immediate help without the owner being involved, something that is very helpful if they are not nearby!
There is an alternative to the usual broadband service if your requirements are infrequent. Our wifi ‘Hot Spot’ connects to the internet via the mobile network. It comprises a small box which allows up to 9 devices to connect to the internet at the same time. Obviously you do need to be in an area with a good mobile signal and you can check this by visiting the website: https://www.quechoisir.org/carte-interactivereseau-mobile-n21247/. Call us to find out more about these money saving offers.
BOB ELLIOTT, UKTelecom Ltd www.uktelecom.net firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)1483 477100 Free from France: 0805 631632
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 etc.” 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. www.cowlingagri.com www.landlegend.co.uk + 44 1458 269210
Private property for sale company reports record year ARB French Property are pleased to say that they have had their busiest year ever. So much for Brexit! ARB French Property is based in the UK and was created by husband and wife team Adrian and Jacqueline Bunn, as a low cost private for sale property marketing platform. Adrian says “We take a pro-active approach to finding buyers for our sellers. We email our extensive database with regular property listings, we ensure every home is seen on leading third-party sites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, French Property Links, A Place in the Sun and
more. We find most our buyers from the UK, France, Holland and Belgium. Our buying clients will be mostly cash or cash subject to sale, over 50, retired or contemplating retirement and looking to buy a property to enjoy with friends, family and grand-children. “Many sellers often ask Is Brexit having an effect? The simple answer is YES – mostly positive. This year we have seen a marked increase in full time movers from the UK – leaving because of Brexit. We call it the Brexit Exit! There is no flood of sellers going back to the UK, just the usual numbers for the usual reasons, such as family and health. Brexit has seen us move from 50/50 holiday home and full-time enquiries to 90% full time. This has a very positive effect. When buyers are searching for a full-time home budgets increase, and timescales shorten, so sellers are reporting negotiation is down”
Jacqui continues “We now need more stock throughout all areas of France. Whether you are new to market, feel your current marketing has stalled, are frustrated and simply want your home to have the attention it deserves, contact us. Our Platinum Plus service is our best-selling plan. It includes a visit by us to photograph your property, an extensive description and a floorplan. There is no commission to pay, saving buyers and sellers thousands. Plus, buyers like the idea of dealing directly with the seller, after all you know your home better than anyone” Give your home the attention it deserves - Call us or visit our web site for more details. +44 (0)1803 469367 email@example.com www.arbfrenchproperty.com
The Connexion November 2018
NEW CONNEXION HELPGUIDES - ORDER YOUR COPIES NOW! French inheritance Brexit and Britons Brexit and law 2018-2019 in France 2018 Britons FRANCE’S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER Hors serie
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Box clever and even arrange for UK purchases to be delivered to you Watson European are expanding their current service of removals and storage to include the delivery of packing materials to your door. Andrea Watson, the proprietor of Watson European, explains. “Many customers find it difficult to locate suitable packaging material for their removals. Being based in the UK means that Watson European are able to source a wide variety of boxes in quantities to suit a client’s individual needs.” From full home removals to the individual pieces of furniture, Andrea’s team have the trade contacts to supply boxes, wrapping material and tape to ensure your belongings can be transported in perfect condition. With weekly services to France the Watson
European team can deliver the packaging to your door and collect the filled packages at a time to suit you ready for direct delivery to the UK. Andrea continues: “We also cater for those not in any particular hurry to move into their new home in France or who want to put affairs in order first by offering up to 60 days’ free UK based storage. Many clients take advantage of this offer. “Also due to the increased demand we have been experiencing, Watson European has invested in yet more specialised equipment to transport vehicles, home removals and even plant and machinery. With Brexit looming ever closer people are taking advantage of our services, both those establishing themselves in France or returning to the UK. “We also offer a delivery service to our regular customers in France when they wish to make purchases in the UK. Where
our customers order online from different suppliers in the UK we take delivery of the items and can store them for up to 60 days without charge. Once all the different orders / packages have arrived, our team delivers to the customer’s door in France.” With Watson European, you can rest assured that your belongings – and your stress levels – will be looked after. Andrea concludes: “For us it’s the small things that make the big difference. Moving home is often a stressful experience where the best-laid plans can go astray. Many of our clients remark on how having our friendly staff available at the end of phone is one of the most reassuring aspects of our service. Being there to deal with the smallest of detail is what our job is all about, whether you require relocation services, partial house removals of pre-packed items or a complete packing and delivery service of a full home.”
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Girls’ lifesaver wins them US award by JANE HANKS
FOUR 13-year-old Parisian youngsters have won the highest award that a USA Girls Scout Cadette of their age can achieve, by teaching life-saving techniques to local children. Lily Petyt, Emily Chabalier, Vicky Fety-Pam and Simone Garvey are all USA Girls Scouts from Paris Cadette Troop 35 and were awarded the Girls Scout Silver Award. They decided to teach children the Heimlich manoeuvre as Simone had learned it when at school in the US and had used it to save her younger brother when she was the only one in the room to recognise he was choking. The technique is not well-known in France and Vicky said “Kids don’t know what to do if they see someone choking. All they would do is panic or maybe call an ambulance. We wanted to help.” Choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in the US and it takes just four minutes without air for brain damage to occur while choking. The girls first held Heimlich workshops in Paris and suburbs then created a video, interviewed medical experts, designed a website, produced pamphlets in both French and English, were interviewed on a children’s expat radio pro-
All winners and all potential lifesavers: Vicky Fety-Pam, Emily Chabalier, Lily Petyt and Simone Garvey Mrs Petyt says it lets American girls, succeed in any project they take up. gramme and raised money to finance Teachers have said when pupils look for who are often in French schools, keep the training materials which they have in touch with home culture: “I started work experience in 3ème they stand out donated to USA Girl Scouts in Paris. the troop because my daughter was in a Troop leader Kimberley Petyt is proud as they know how to work in a team, French school with no American delegate, write a CV and are organised.” of them: “It is really a cool thing they friends. We like to show the fun aspect, The USA Girl Scouts was created in won this award. It is quite hard to find learning songs and celebrating Thanks ways of working in the community here 1912 based on the UK Girl Guides and giving as well as promoting community there are groups all over the world. and this was a really great project.” service and giving back to society.” Paris branch has been running since She said the USA Girls Scouts were See the girls’ Heimlich video on their 1949 with 300 girl scouts in troops not just outdoor camping and hiking, site tinyurl.com/ya7v9hp8 and Paris throughout the capital. There are more though that had its place: “We focus on group at its site girlscoutsinparis.com/ than 100 adult volunteers. giving leadership skills and the tools to
Turning ‘bloopers’ Special play marks war date into charity funds
ANNUAL ‘wardrobe mistakes’ clothes sale Bloopers! is being held in the Gers this month and once again proceeds will go to epilepsy research in memory of an organiser’s son. The Bloopers! association, which raises some €3,000 for charity each year, is marking its 10th year. The idea originally came about when six friends were chatting about clothes shopping mistakes: they had all often been distracted by a great price or colour and had bought an item without trying it on only to discover it was a mistake - a blooper - when they looked in the mirror. They decided to sell unwanted clothes they had accumulated and it became a fixture in the November calendar. Over the years they have donated over €20,000 to charities such as Cancer Support France and Médecins Sans Frontières. Member Jackie Clarke said it is not a ‘jumble sale’. “The clothes are all in good
condition and we spend a whole day setting them out so they look good. There is always a rack of gorgeous, high-end clothes which we price individually. The rest are €1-€20. We also sell tea and cakes and we make sure the whole village knows about it.” Sadly in 2017, Caspar, the son of one organiser Letty Gaze, died aged 22, having suffered from epilepsy from a young age. Ms Clarke said it was a “terrible year” due to his loss and it had been an “obvious choice” to donate last year’s proceeds to research against the disease. “We are very proud of all the work we have done over the years but when it is personal it gives us an added reason to arrange all the bloopers ready for sale and bake the delicious cakes,” she said. The Bloopers! sale is at the Salle des Fêtes, Tillac on November 4 from 10-16.00, with proceeds to Caspar’s Memorial Fund.
Unique play will pay tribute to the soldiers of the First World War this month. Left to Right: Sandy Notman, Maurice Shorter, Nick Ashman, Dave Barney, Bill Kimber, Maggie Crane, Jon Wainwright, Nancy Shorter and Judy Notman A THEATRE group from the Gers is commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War with a unique, original play based on their families’ histories. The idea for their play came from one of their lighting technicians whose grandfather was killed at Passchendaele, said English Theatre Company president Philip Faiers. “He asked us if we could write something for the centenary. So we asked members if they had any stories from their grandparents and we have been able to weave all the tales together to make a narrative that runs for an hour. » The main thread is the tale of Ben, based on the technician’s grandfather, and his fiancée. As much is inevitably sad, the play is broken up with songs like Pack Up Your Troubles and the audience will have song sheets to join in. There are also poems and extracts fromWipers Times, which was the newspaper read by the troops for
some light relief (it was called Wipers because it was difficult to pronounce Ypres). One company member found a letter from his grandfather which alluded to the ‘Christmas truce’ when German and allied soldiers downed weapons and played football. The soldier wrote that he drank brandy, given to him by a German. After the play there will be a ‘mess supper’ of chilli con carne served in a mess tin. The British Legion will sell poppies and profits from the play will go to it. There will be two performances on November 9 at the Salle des Fêtes, Sainte-Dode and Novem ber 10 at the Salle des Fêtes, Caillavet, at 18.00. Tickets are €12 including food (book on 05 62 67 12 99. Details from info@englishtheatrecompany32 and englishtheatrecompany32.fr The company was founded in 2016 and has so far put on plays including A King’s Speech and Under Milk Wood.
Order by post for the Poppy Appeal Poppies for Remembrance are available in several regions and if there are none locally to you, you can order by post. The nine branches of the Royal British Legion in France, have several different locations in their area to pick up a poppy. They cover Paris, Bordeaux and the south-west, Somme, Lyon, Nice-Monaco, Nord/Pas-deCalais, Cannes-Provence, Linazay-Poitou-Charentes and Central Brittany. Most have websites accessed via rblfrance.org which either lists the locations or gives contact details for information. Two of the Poppy Appeal coordinators, Brenda Vockings and Commander Michael Healy, will organise to post poppies anywhere in France. You can contact them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
See also Page 27 for Community events Mrs Vockings is Bordeaux appeal organiser and said that in addition to posting paper poppies she could also supply anniversary poppy pins, car poppies and poppy bracelets. Donations can also be made online to the branch Justgiving crowdfunding site, found via the RBL France site. Cdr Healy, chairman of NiceMonaco branch, said poppies could be bought for personal use or several could be ordered to sell on. He added that nearly a 100 years on from the Royal British Legion’s creation the appeal was still vital to support personnel who had preserved peace in the 21st century. The Paris Branch was the first RBL branch and was founded a day before the Legion itself, founded on May 15, 1921.
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The Connexion regularly features news and events from community groups all over France. We would be pleased to publicise your association (non-commercial) – it’s a great way to bring in new members and it is free! You can submit events on our site connexionfrance. com/Community To have your association/ group featured, email us with the details to news@ connexionfrance.com
IT WAS the discovery that an old school friend had been confined to a wheelchair following a motorcycle accident that prompted Nice-based runner Antoine Carlotti to come up with Trail Pour Tous (trailpourtous.fr) Since completing their first challenge – the 2011 Nice HalfMarathon – Antoine and his friend Denis Campana, who is paraplegic, along with volunteers, have helped many wheelchair users take part in street and trail races in the Côte d’Azur and beyond. One parent of a disabled child told the group after the Trail Trophée de Joëlettes race in Tourrettes-sur-Loup at the end of September: “The smile on his face delighted us and will stay with us for the next year.” Another added: “Thank you for all this organisation! It is thanks to initiatives like yours we can better support a sometimes difficult daily life.” The group is on the lookout for more willing runners to take part in events. A spokesman said: “We are always looking for more volunteers: runners who want to experience another sensation, that of giving pleasure and having fun.”
Photo: Trail Pour Tous
Old friends running something special for disabled trail blazers
The Connexion November 2018
EU to get tougher on one-market, one-price NEW European rules to prevent geo-blocking charging more for identical goods and services bought on websites in different countries - are due to come into force at the start of December. They strengthen existing rules which were being ignored. A check by Connexion, using virtual private networks to disguise the country of origin, found significant price differences: n A week-long booking for a family car from Bordeaux airport was €150 more expensive via the Hertz.co.uk site compared to Hertz.fr. n A return booking from Poole to Cherbourg using Brittany Ferries cost €75 more on the French site than if it was made on the UK site. n A Marks & Spencer men’s white short-sleeve shirt suitable for the office was €11 more on the French site than on the UK site. In each case, the web pages were identical, except for the language and the prices. Companies were warned not to discriminate as early as 2014, when a study of 10,500 sites by the EU’s internal markets commission found widespread price differences. Websites also refused to allow customers to switch to other country sites to compare prices or to use credit cards from other EU countries to pay for goods. The new rules allow shoppers to switch to other-country sites of the company to compare prices, and allow them to pay by credit cards from any EU country. Companies will still be able to charge different prices for different markets, but cannot stop customers checking other-country sites for the
Different countries... different prices goods. This is based on the EU Single Market’s aim to let people “shop as a local”. Geo-blocking by luxury goods makers is often cited: distributors are prevented from selling products in different markets, which will be penalised. Exceptions will still be made for products such as TV programming and financial services and for e-books, where countries such as France have different tax and legal systems. The European Union updated member states on the rules at September’s ministerial meetings, and will follow up to ensure they are in force. Policing remains with nation states and there is no clear French authority for consumers to turn to, other than the DGCCRF fraud agency, which acts only in France. Consumer groups UFC-Que Choisir and the Institut National de la Consommation say they have done no work on this. The European Com mission said the European Consumer Centre, France (europe-consommateurs.eu) would help.
Notaires expand their online help ONE OF the first and most accurate sources of information on the property market is the Notaires de France website notaires.fr which carries useful statistics on sales prices and legal advice on the stages of a property purchase. While the vast bulk of the site is obviously in French, large parts have also been translated into English, with sections on housing and tax, family life, inheritance, business and community life. This is found on the notaires.fr/en site and the information includes a list of notaires offering free consultations over a cup of coffee on the first Saturday of the month in the Conseil du Coin. Unfortunately, relatively few notaires take part and you may not find one in your area. The French site has also been updated and rebuilt with much more information since the 2015 Macron law opened up the profession. It has several new sections that are modern and interactive. One, at notaviz.notaires.fr, gives help with starting various legal procedures such as property sales but also marriage regimes, starting a business and owning property abroad. Anyone looking to rent out property without using a rental agent can get help with the site bailmyself.notaires.fr that has a three-stage process with an interactive questionnaire (in French) that prepares a rental contract or bail. Inheritance can be a tricky situation in France but the monnotaire-masuccession.notaires.fr site has free tools to help estimate fees and decide on legal heirs, and a way to find a notaire directly. Notaires have up-to-date property prices at immobilier.notaires.fr with a section in English and statistics at immobilier.statistiques.notaires.fr. Elsewhere, those with a complaint can go to mediateur-notariat.notaires.fr for information.
life in france less taxing
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Do I have a choice of being taxed in the UK or France? I HAVE been living in France for eight years and have been taxed here for seven years. I have been told that I have the choice of being taxed in France or the UK. My husband died three years ago. I am getting my house ready to go on the market next year and move back to England. Can I now ask to be UK-taxed and, if not, how soon can I change my place of tax, and how long will it take? L.L.
FIRST point to clarify is that the country in which one is liable to taxation is a matter of fact, and not choice; choice has never been an option. In addition, there are double tax treaties which clearly state the rules that apply to the two countries – the one you have left and the one you have moved to – specifically in order to establish which of these has the right to apply taxation. Further to these, then, since you are residing in France, the French consider you to be a resident of France, and as such it is France that has the right to tax you on your worldwide income. Accordingly, you are liable to taxation in France since your husband died, and you will have to wait until you actually return to the UK to be taxed in the UK and not France. Remember that France has a residency rule that not only includes the time you spend in France but also having your home here and managing your affairs from the country. As to the time it takes to change, the answer is that it is immediate. Just write to the tax offices and tell France that you have left and tell the HMRC that you have arrived. However, as taxation is applied in arrears, and due to the split tax years with the UK year being April to April and France the calendar year, it will take a couple of years for you to actually cease dealing with France and deal only with the UK.
Cost of running pottery courses A FRIEND wants to set up pottery courses. She is a UK pensioner and thinks she should register as a micro-entrepreneur, but the courses require considerable materials and power usage. She would be charging around €100 for a four-day course. If she then has to pay tax and social charges, she will be out of pocket (especially if she cannot reclaim
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firstname.lastname@example.org expenses). Is there any alternative or should she just remain a recreational potter? N.J. WITHOUT details of the total expected income and the total likely expenses, it is not possible to say one way or another. However, as far as the micro-entrepreneur option is concerned, it is likely to cease to be advantageous if expenses exceed around 45%-50% of income. With full estimates to hand, a professional could look at the results of the different options, which would include the two income tax systems available to the micro-entrepreneur or a classic business on the réel taxation regime.
Law on being a ‘working retiree’ I HAVE just sold my French business to a UK company who wish to retain me to work for them at gastronomic fairs and farmers’ markets. As I am living in France, and would like to continue working casually as a retraitée active, what is the law governing me working in this capacity? S.O. AS IT is the French business that would be employing you, you would fall under French employment laws. As to how you work, this largely depends on your choices and the options that are available to you. If you work only for the company, then the only status you have available is that of an employee, so the company will register you as an employee and deduct the relevant social charges and income tax from your salary. If, on the other hand, you work for other organisations as well, you could set yourself up in self-employment, for example as a microentrepreneur, if your income is currently under €33,200/year. This is generally favourable in terms of taxation as long as your business expenses are less than 25% of the income. There is also the benefit of set
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.
Practical: Money 33
rates for social security payments, based on a percentage of gross income at rates that depend on whether your work would be classed as sales (12.8%) or a service (22%). The only word of caution would be if you are drawing a French pension, where one would advise checking with the provider first, as in some cases pension organisations do not allow people to draw a pension and still work in some capacity in the same activity as the one through which the pension contributions were made. As always, it is best to seek the advice of a suitably qualified professional.
Effect of donation-partage on CGT SOME time before a UK resident sells a holiday home in France they may have made a donation-partage to their children (a legal procedure, sharing property among one’s children in one’s lifetime; for example giving them a legal right to a house, while retaining lifetime use). In some scenarios this might later have been revoked. How does this affect French capital gains tax and social taxes when it is sold? W.O. IF THE donation-partage is still in force, it is the children who own the property and they will be taxed on capital gain from the date the donationpartage was made until the date of the sale. If the donation-partage is revoked, then the capital gain is from when the donation-partage was revoked until the date of the sale and would presumably be the liability of the parents. Whether the owners are the children or the parents, abatements will be allowed, which are (for CGT), 0% for years one to five, 6% per annum for years six to 21, and 4% for the 22nd year, and for social charges 0% for years one to five, 1.65% per annum for years six to 21, 1.6% for the 22nd year and 9% per annum for years 22 to 30.
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.
THE PROVISIONAL budget for 2019 will see some €6billion in tax savings for households, according to the government – or €3.5billion according to a financial think-tank which said that first figure did not take everything into account. The government says the cut (including some measures that were already expected) is unprecedented for 10 years, but it was questioned by OFCE, whose analysis factored in other items not included in the draft 2019 Finance Law. Some measures might still be tweaked or removed during parliamentary debates before the law is finalised in December. The good news for people’s budgets includes: n Confirmation of another lowering of taxe d’habitation for 80% of households, amounting to 65% off the normal bill in 2019. n Employers’ social charges will be annulled on overtime hours from September 2019, meaning workers end up with more in their pocket (extra €200/year for people on the minimum wage). n From January 15, those who usually obtain an income tax credit for paying for services in the home will be given an advance, representing 60% of the previous year’s tax credit, as a cash-flow boost. This will also extend to several other kinds of tax credit, including those relating to certain types of letting or giving to charity. n Some benefits will increase by more than usual, notably the Aspa pension top-up for pensioners on a low income, which will rise from a maximum €833/month for a single person to €868 on January 1, and the disability benefit AAH will rise from €860 to €900 at the end of the year. The prime d’activité, for workers on low incomes is also set for an unspecified increase. n Some 300,000 households which were affected by this year’s rise in the CSG social charge on pensions because their pension income was slightly above the threshold of €14,404 for a single person or €22,051 for a couple will in 2019 not be concerned by this, as a “goodwill gesture”. The bad news includes: n Tax credits for eco-friendly home improvements such as insulation will be lowered. n Housing benefit (aide personnalisée au logement), family allowance and French state pensions will increase in 2019 but by a lesser amount than usual and by less than inflation. n Tax on diesel is to increase by 6.5 centimes per litre, and tax on petrol by 2.9 centimes. n Fonctionnaires will have their basic salary frozen in 2019 (though rises linked to length of service will remain). n Workers’ cotisations towards the complementary part of pensions are to increase linked to the fusion of the Agirc and Arrco regimes (this was due to a decision made by the last government). Looking ahead, some help for parents of young children has been announced. The government says from 2020 it will maintain the complément de mode de garde (which helps pay for childcare) at its full rate until the child starts school, unlike now where it is halved after the child turns three.
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
Are you sure you are paying tax in the right place? This column is by Bill Blevins of Blevins Franks financial advice group (www.blevinsfranks.com). He has decades of experience advising expatriates in France and co-authored the Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France Regular readers of this column will know that I often talk about reviewing your tax planning for France, so that you can take advantage of the tax mitigation opportunities available here. However, the very first step, before you start re-organising your assets, is to make sure you understand the tax residence rules of both France and the UK (or wherever you have financial interests). You need to be certain which country you should be paying tax in, and on which assets. This is even more important with today’s greater global tax transparency through the ‘Common Reporting Standard’. With the next tranche of countries making their first ‘automatic exchange of information’ in September 2018, there are now 100 jurisdictions sharing information on taxpayers around the world. Paying tax in the wrong country can prove costly, including back taxes, interest, potential fines and even a tax investigation. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has just introduced tougher UK penalties for undeclared offshore income and gains. From October 1 – coinciding with the time HMRC receives its next wave of information from abroad – potential punishments include an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. Tax residency is more complex than people realise. It is not just about day counting; we often meet people who think they are resident in one
country when they actually meet the tax residency rules of another. Ignorance is usually no defence, so make sure you know where you stand. What makes you resident in France? Under the Code General des Impôts, individuals are deemed to be tax resident in France if at least one of the following four tests is fulfilled. 1.
France is your main residence – your foyer. This is the rule French authorities rely on most. Your foyer is defined as the place where your spouse/cohabiting partner and dependent children, but not parents or siblings – habitually live. For those who are single with no children, it is where most of your personal life is centred. Your foyer can be in France even if you spend much of your time out of the country.
France is your principal place of abode – your lieu séjour principal. This usually means you spend more than 183 days in France in a calendar year, but may also apply if you spend more days here than in any other single country.
Your principal activity is in France – for example, your occupation is in France or your main income arises here.
France is the ‘centre of your economic interests’ – where your most substantial assets are based (such as principal investments), where your assets are administrated or your business affairs are, or where you draw a larger part of your income.
If you meet any of the criteria, you are liable to pay French tax on your worldwide income, gains
and wealth. Remember: it is your responsibility to make yourself known to French tax authorities and fully declare all your income and wealth.
The relevance of timing France takes a ‘split-year’ approach. In the year of arrival, only income received after you arrive is liable to French income tax; if you leave, only income up to the date of departure is taxable here. Note, however, that French-source income is always liable to taxation in France, regardless of residency. For those who are leaving or arriving, you could avoid French tax by timing when you sell assets, but you must consider where you are tax resident at the time and what tax is due there. Take specialist cross-border tax advice to establish tax-efficient opportunities. What about UK tax residence? If you spend time in both countries or retain ties with the UK, you could be deemed resident in the UK for tax purposes without realising it. As well as France’s domestic rules, British expatriates should understand the UK’s ‘Statutory Residence Test’. 1.
Automatic overseas test: You are not resident in the UK if you spend less than 46 days there in a tax year and were not resident in any of the previous three tax years. However, if you were UK resident within the last three years, just 16 days back could trigger residency. Those who work overseas full-time and spend no more than 90 days in the UK per year will not be deemed UK resident. Automatic residence test: You are UK resident if you spend 183 days or more there
in the current tax year, if your only / main home is there or you work full-time there.
Sufficient ties test: Otherwise, whether or not you are UK resident for tax purposes depends on how many ties you have with the UK (family, work, accommodation) and how many days you spend there.
If you meet the domestic tax residency rules of both France and the UK in the same year, tie-breaker rules from the UK/France double tax treaty determine where you pay taxes. These look at where you have a permanent home, where your personal and economic interests are and where you have a habitual abode. Where residence still cannot be determined, it comes down to nationality. While you do not have a choice – you either are or are not resident under the rules – if you have flexibility, you can be careful with the number of days you spend in each country, and where you have assets and ties. If you want the freedom to stay in France in a post-Brexit world, for example, you may want to secure your residency here before the rules change in March 2019. Residency is a complex area for anyone with cross-border interests. For the best results, take specialist, personalised advice. Once you have peace of mind that your tax obligations are in order, you should move on to implement effective and compliant tax planning strategies to protect and grow your wealth, wherever you are resident. n Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.
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Anne’s winding road to bodybuilding success When 13-year-old Anne Amor moved with her parents to what is now Nouvelle-Aquitaine, she felt lost. “I didn’t know any French,” she said. “So I felt completely out of my depth when I started school.” Her parents Sharon and Peter, both 57, had decided to make the move after holidaying regularly in France. Both set up their own businesses once they arrived in 2005, with Sharon working as a hairdresser and Peter as an electrician. But Anne found it difficult to settle. It took several years to master the language. “I loved the idea of living in France,” she said. “But I found settling in really hard.” Despite her challenges, she obtained her BAC-L at lycée in 2012 before starting a university course in Poitiers with the ambition of becoming a translator. Two years on, however, she had a change of heart. “I just couldn’t imagine myself working as a translator,” she said. “It didn’t really suit me.” She enrolled on a BTS in tourism in 2014, and qualified two years later. But she still felt uncertain about her choice. Anne had recently joined a gym. Seeing her trainer interact with other gym members made her realise where her ambitions were. “I decided I wanted to train as a coach,” she said. “But I found out the cost was €6,000.” Although Anne’s parents were supportive, they told her she would have to raise the money herself. “They wanted to make sure that I was commit-
Growing up in France... A series of six interviews with people who moved here as children No1: Bodybuilder Anne Amor ted to my career. I had to work different jobs, including waitressing in fast-food restaurants and serving drinks in a sports club.” It was this determination that helped Anne through the recruitment process for her chosen course. “There were 100 applicants for 20 places. We had to do a physical test, a writing test and the interview.” After starting her course in 2014, an unfortunate experience on a physical exam set Anne on the path to her current success. “I had to perform at least five pull-ups,” she said, “but only managed to perform two correctly. I was given a chance to redo the test in February 2015; if I’d failed, I’d have had to repeat the year.” A friend told Anne about trainer Jérôme Petit, who ran the local gym Le Ranch de Sanxay. “I hadn’t even known about the gym,” she said, “so when I found out that Jérôme had coached two world champion bodybuilders, I
Anne Amor discovered her career of choice after a couple of false starts couldn’t believe my luck.” Anne began training with Jérôme, who put her on a high-protein diet with targeted workouts. “Gaining strength is 70% diet, 30% effort,” Anne said. “Jérôme told me to eat six high-protein meals a day and we worked out six days a week. When the test came around, I did nine pull-ups.” After passing the exam, Anne found herself missing her training sessions. “I got in touch with Jérôme again. I knew
Bees gave teacher idea for hive of connected activity
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Think you will pay too much tax in France? You may be surprised.
Hostabee monitors the ‘health’ of a beehive sold with its luxury Horizon luggage range for €250. Cédric Rosemont, chief executive of Axible (axible.io/en), says he hopes the price will eventually fall to make it affordable for all travellers: “The advantage of our system over a GPS locator is that it uses the Sigfox network, which means it uses little power, won’t need charging for six months and is small, only 10cm long, and fits easily into luggage. It uses an app to give information to the owner.” Sigfox is an international low-power network which connects objects to each other and was also developed in Toulouse. The most complex part of the development was to ensure it switched off during flights, in accordance with safety regulations. Mr Rosemont said: “We created complex algorithms to detect take-off and landing.” The company was founded in 2007, has 18 employees and turned over €2.5million in 2017. It hopes to quadruple that in three years. Mr Rosemont said: “We are developing a system now for ports and container boats so that companies can track goods they are exporting. A boat may not leave on the scheduled day, and with this information the company can inform clients and give a reason for late delivery.”
The French tax regime provides opportunities for tax efficient investing, and how you hold your assets can make a significant difference to how much tax you pay. Blevins Franks specialises in reducing tax on invested capital, pensions, wealth and inheritance, and has saved our clients a substantial amount of tax over the years. Contact us to find out how we can help you.
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CONNECtivity is a big buzzword in business - and now it is bees that are benefiting. Hostabee is the first connected device that can be put into a hive so keepers can look after their bees by checking temperature and humidity levels via an app (hostabee-site.firebaseapp.com). It is part of a growing market for connected objects that allow monitoring from a distance. Hostabee inventor Maxime Mularz, based in Aisne, said: “This connected product is not a gadget but something practical which can be of real assistance to beekeepers at a time when many are losing their hives to disease and invasions from Asian hornets. “Bees control their surrounding temperature at 33C in the summer, lower in winter, so any fluctuations show whether there is a problem. Certain fluctuations will mean the queen is starting to lay eggs, others will indicate a problem and so the beekeeper will be able to react accordingly. He will avoid unnecessary visits, but will know when it is urgent and may be able to save his hive before it is too late.” Former maths teacher Mr Mularz gave up his job to dedicate his time to the business he started three years ago after spotting the usefulness of introducing technology into an area which usually has no dealings with the digital world. He now employs five people. He sold 300 devices, currently priced at €96, last year and has 2,000 more in production - of which 1,800 have already been bought. He hopes to sell 300,000 in the next few years. “This is realistic as there are 1.2million hives in France and 15million in Europe, so I am only aiming to equip a very small percentage of those hives,” he said. Meanwhile, a Toulouse start-up has created a baggage tracker that does not use GPS. It was developed at the request of Louis Vuitton and is
that some of his clients did body-building and asked if he’d train me for competitions,” she said. Bodybuilding competitions have a range of categories, and Jérôme and Anne decided to enter her into the Bikini Body category. “I have a natural athlete’s body, so it’s the one that suits me best,” she said. “But I sometimes get a little jealous of the girls who build more muscle – they
look beautiful.” Anne’s first competition – the Natural Fitness show in Paris – took place in October 2016, just eight months later. “There were 40 competitors in my category, so when I came in the top 10, I was delighted,” she said. “I was nervous before I went on. But being on stage felt natural.” She came second and third in her next two competitions – but then faced her first serious disappointment at the MuscleMania competition in Paris in October 2017. “I didn’t place,” she said. “I was so disheartened.” Not wanting to finish the season on a low, Anne decided to enter another competition, the GP Heracles 2017 in Avignon, two weeks later. “This time I kept it really quiet,” she said. “And I couldn’t believe it when I came first!” Anne also took home the trophy for overall competition winner. “It was such a high,” she said. “And I hope to continue my success this season.” While training for the European Championship UFE in London in September, Anne was also working with Jérôme on a new product for shows. “We’ve been working with laboratories to create a tanning product for competitions called Centaure,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun, but hard work. It’s a really exciting time. We’re really happy about our new adventure.”
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 outside the UK, via the Insurance Mediation Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable 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 www.orias.fr). Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – 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). Blevins Franks Tax Limited provides taxation advice; its advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFFM.
36 PRACTICAL: Work
Co-working: it’s a money maker THEY have names such as atelier de fabrication (fablab), bricothèque, café associatif or relais Amap but these makerspaces or co-working places could create thousands of jobs - many in hard-hit rural areas. The government has revealed a €110million three-year plan, including €50million of private money, to create more such tiers lieux where people of different backgrounds and skills can meet, share and find ideas, and collaborate to build much-needed new businesses. Tiers lieux are areas between work and home and Patrick Levy-Waitz, head of Fondation Travailler Autrement, said co-working was a “citizen-led transformation of our attitudes to work responding to the isolation of rural sectors”. He led a study into tiers lieux and the government accepted it as a way to end the traditional subsidised model of providing workspace. Regions Minister Julien Denormandie said it would “deploy a flexible and effective way” to support co-working spaces and help them consolidate their activity. Speaking to Courrier des
Maires, the magazine for mayors and councillors, Mr Levy-Waitz said figures showed 40% of Ile-de-France residents were keen to move away. Many had business ideas that needed local authorities to recreate the kind of community working life they were used to – with no commuting – and to act as business accelerators. He said in his report they would bring “new ways of working where people who would not normally mix would meet... to create local businesses with short supply chains for a more sustainable economy”. Communes would need to cooperate and to give co-working spaces time to develop and support to avoid failure. Then, once running, they could back new ideas with shared experiences on training, new methods or reminders of business dangers. Some might encourage innovation, others will share knowledge and material, such as the “fablabs”, with equipment including milling machines (for shaping metals, wood and other solid materials) or 3D printers, while others may just offer a space for teleworking.
Small business and tax advice Foreign bank accounts WE ARE residents of France but keep a UK bank account that pays no interest. We know we have to declare our worldwide income to France, but are unsure about whether it is necessary to declare anything with regard to the UK bank account. WITH regard to foreign bank accounts there are two requirements: to declare any income from them (ie. interest) but also to declare the accounts themselves so the French authorities are aware of them. The official French government tax website (https://www.impots. gouv.fr) states that bank accounts held outside France are declared on the paper form 3916 or by selecting the ‘annexe’ section of the same name online. In previous years declarants have alternatively submitted a sheet of paper stating: account holders’ names, name of bank, its address, account number, nature (compte courant, compte épargne...) and date opened or closed (if applicable). The form is normally submitted annually. Whether the account pays interest is not significant. The actual wording on the 3916 says it concerns all accounts held abroad that ‘habitually receive deposits of investments, shares or cash’. It says you must declare each account opened, closed or used in the tax year. In practice it is safest to declare all foreign accounts. If you fail to declare an account you can rectify this until the avis d’imposition assessments are issued in the summer, either online or (if you declared by paper) by sending a corrected declaration. After this a Corriger ma déclaration service for online declarations opens via your personal space on the Impôts site – this is open until December 18 this year. If you declared on paper, you can make a réclamation telling the tax office about the omission. You can do this in a letter with the missing details, or if you have an account at the Impôts site, you can do it from your personal space. Email your tax questions to email@example.com This column is sponsored 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 www.fiscaly.fr or call 09 81 09 00 15
Full-time art of running a thriving florist’s shop
CRAFTS in focus
Florist Eric Délibie tells Jane Hanks about the work involved building a thriving business An artist’s eye and an in-depth knowledge of plants and flowers are not enough to be a fleuriste (florist) in France. You also need to know how to run a shop and have a sympathetic way with your clients, who often require your skills at key moments in life, such as a marriage or a funeral. Eric Délibie is a Maître Artisan Fleuriste, a high professional qualification, and has been a Meilleur Ouvrier de France since 1986. He runs a business (art-etfleurs.fr) in Sarlat, Dordogne, with 10 members of staff and supplies floral arrangements for events throughout the region, as well as selling bouquets from his shop and via Interflora. In 2016, he provided flowers for 137 weddings, 148 in 2017 and was already up to 138 in 2018 when I met him. He was so busy that he only had time to chat as he worked, finishing off an order for 15 arrangements for a funeral the following day. In between taking orders, directing his staff, plucking flowers from the brimming vases surrounding him, trimming them and placing them in just the right place in his arrangement, he explained how he got into the sector. “When I was a child I had two passions: one for flowers and one for animals. I now
have beautiful animals at home and work with flowers.” He did two professional bacs available at the time; a Bac Pro Production Floral and a Bac Pro Jardin Paysagiste et Espaces Verts, before being accepted by a prestigious school for florists, Piverdière in La Ménitré, Maine-et-Loire. He said he was one of 30 students picked out of 1,200 candidates: “I got on the course because I had two Bac Pros with good results and from Piverdière I gained a wellrespected diploma, the Brevet de Maîtrise Fleuriste.” He says he lives for his job. “I really do not see the time pass. I work all hours. “For example, last week I worked from 6.30am on Wednesday through to 11pm on Thursday, and yes, that was without sleeping. “There were weddings to do, which were planned, and funerals, which of course cannot be planned, and the work had to be done. “If you are good, there is plenty of work and for young people it is a good choice because in our region, at least, I know there is a good future. “There is work all year round, because there is always some event to celebrate with flowers – St Valentine’s, Mother’s Day... and at Christmas we do all the decorations for the town’s shop windows and the Christmas Market.” He said he loves weddings most of all: “It is fantastic creating large-scale decorations in beautiful settings like the local châteaux and churches. “We cater for small and big weddings. It can take three to 10 people three to eight days. It typically costs the client between €2,000 and €15,000, Delivering the flowers for a marriage is part of the job
Eric Délibie works on a floral arrangement for a funeral
Flowers for weddings can cost between €2,000 and €15,000 – though Mr Délibie has supplied one wedding with flowers that cost €45,000 though our record is €45,000 for flowers and plants for just one wedding. “It all has to be planned in advance so as to make sure we have all the flowers we need.” Generally, clients give him a price, the colours, preferred flowers, and a theme and he creates arrangements. “You need to be an artist and have a sensitivity for colour and have manual dexterity. There are some rules – and the golden rule is to use an odd number of varieties of flower in an arrangement. “You have to have a lot of patience because there is a lot of preparation involved. You have to be good with your clients. I am invited out a great deal and it is important to go and keep people happy. It is a noble profession where you deal with beautiful things.” The Fédération Française des Artisans Fleuristes (ffaf.fr) represents 30,000 florists and describes the job as buying, preparing and selling flowers. Florists typically earn between €1,000 and €3,500 a month, with an average net monthly income of €2,000. The Fédération recommends that although anyone wanting to work or set up a flower shop is not obliged by law to have
any professional training, it is much better to have a diploma. The basic qualification is a Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) Fleuriste, which can be studied for after collège (without the baccalauréat) and lasts two years. This is suitable to work in a flower shop, a specialist area of a supermarket or garden shop, or in a décor business. The CAP can be followed by a Brevet Professionnel (BP) Fleuriste which lasts another two years and teaches further technique and artistic styles and also concentrates on the commercial side so that someone with a BP can later run their own business. Another qualification is the Brevet de Maîtrise Fleuriste which is studied as a sandwich course and allows successful students to call themselves Maître Artisan. Students can also have a broader education in plants by studying for a Bac Pro Productions horticoles (horticulture), Bac Pro Aménagements paysagers (landscape gardening) or a Bac Pro Technicien conseil vente de produits de jardin, (technician specialising in sale of garden products), and then go on to specialise in floristry later, as Eric did.
City’s bijou ‘shop’ homes Architecture of France... By JANE Bordeaux HANKS Les échoppes BORDEAUX has many grand monumental buildings - but there are other more modest structures which are also part of the city’s unique character. These single-storey houses are unusual for a big city, where land prices mean high buildings are the norm. They are called échoppes and there are still streets which are predominantly made up of these small homes. Around 25,000 were constructed in the second half of the nineteenth century up until the First World War. Many of them have been renovated and can now fetch prices of well over €500,000. When they were built, however, they were for people of modest incomes, including hospital staff and the railway workers creating the new train lines and stations. They were destined for a new working urban population which had left the countryside for the city and were often built by employers for their new workforce. Their design was simple but they provided decent living accommodation. The front opened straight on to the street but the door was up some steps to be away from the roads below, which were often dirty and muddy as they were not tarmacked at the time. At the back there was a garden, which could be 50-100m². Philippe Prévost, director of Bordeaux Heritage Tourism, says the gardens had a practical purpose: “They were nearly always used as vegetable gardens and created a link between the old rural life and the new city life. Often a family would have chickens or even a pig.” There are two models. One is the échoppe simple with one window next to the front door, and the second is the échoppe double with a front door with a window on either side. Both were single-storey, but many had cellars which protected the living quarters from damp and could be used for storage. The échoppe simple had three rooms, with a bedroom at the front, a kitchen/living area at the back and a “blind” room sandwiched in between. A corridor ran down the side of these three rooms. The échoppe double had a central corridor with various arrangements of rooms coming off this. The toilet was originally separate, often at the end of the garden.
Bordeaux’s échoppes (see also below) are unusual in a city in having only one storey side Paris. The designated area is called the The houses were made of limestone. “This Port of the Moon, because the port of came from one of up to 1,000 quarries in Bordeaux was situated on a crescentthe Gironde that were being worked in shaped bend of the River Garonne. the 19th century,” said Mr Prévost. “The Bordeaux has been prosperous across the whole of the house was made out of stone, apart from some dividing walls which were centuries and has never been destroyed by war so it shows a unity in its architecture sometimes made in brick. It was dressed which has survived for more than two and often had very elaborate and fine centuries from the 18th century. Most of carving on the front.” it is in the classical and neo-classical style, The word échoppe comes originally from the word choppa dating back to medieval Occitan and Gascon languages to mean a shop (though there is an example as early as 1482 of the word being used in the accounts of the city treasurer with the spelling eschoppe). The term was used locally in the 16th and 17th centuries to describe buildings used by craftspeople who would live on the first floor and run their business and sell from the ground floor. Some échoppes have intricate details “It is likely that the English so that even the échoppes, which were built word shop is related”, Mr Prévost said. later on, were designed to fit in with the “Due to the trade between the UK and existing architecture. France at the time, many words were One of the best-known features is Place interchanged. de la Bourse, which took 20 years to build “In Bordeaux, the word choppa gradually in the 18th century. changed spelling and meaning to be used The city had been surrounded by walls for a dwelling place, rather than a shop.” for centuries and this represented the beginning of a modern Bordeaux, breaking These modest dwellings are just one out of its medieval traditions. of the architectural features in Bordeaux It was the idea of Intendant Claude which have made it a UNESCO heritage site. It is the most extensive urban environ- Boucher, who was in charge of the administration of the city from 1720 to 1743. ment in the world to be so honoured and He convinced the town’s aldermen and it has 347 listed buildings, more protected parliament to create the square and open buildings than any other French city outup the city walls. He employed Louis XVs top architect, Jacques Gabriel, to design the square and buildings, and work was completed by his son Ange-Jacques Gabriel from 1745 onwards. To make up the square, there are long and imposing buildings, the Hôtel des Fermes and the Hôtel de la Bourse, which run at an angle to the river and are separated by a central building. It was designed to be a royal square and originally there was a bronze statue of Louis XV, which was melted down after the revolution and briefly replaced by one of Napoleon. Since 1869, the central feature has been the Fountain of the Three Graces. When Victor Hugo saw it, he said: “This royal square is simply half of the Place Vendôme, situated on the edge of the water.” The whole of the edifice is now reflected in a vast shallow pool which was placed there when the quayside was renovated in 2004.
Property Watch in
Midi-Pyrénées South 09, 31, 32, 65
DEPARTMENTS: Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées MAIN CITIES: Foix, Pamiers, Saint-Girons, Toulouse, Saint-Gaudens, Muret, Auch, Condom, Mirande, Tarbes, Argelès-Gazost, Bagnères-de-Bigorre FRANCE’S fourth-largest city, Toulouse, dominates propertybuyers’ thinking as they seek out their ideal homes in this part of the world – and with good reason. The Pink City and its environs have everything anyone could wish for: high-quality amenities, plenty of job opportunities, strong transport links – but also the price tag that comes with it. There is more, much more, to the four southern departments of the old Midi-Pyrénées than its historic and largest city and regional capital, which is home to not one but two Unesco World Heritage Sites. Move out of the conurbation and into the countryside, and the landscape changes out of all urban recognition – the terracotta-brick jungle gives way to the sunny plains of the Lauragais, the gentle hills of the Comminges and the high mountains of the Pyrénées. There are the stunning valleys, mountains, lakes and rivers, plains and forests of the Ariège; the spas and ski resorts of the Hautes-Pyrénées as well as the fortified towns, castle villages, listed monuments of Gers. Property prices are, needless to say, highest in Toulouse, where the average – according to the Notaires de France – is €2,600/m2. The Pink City pushes up prices across the Haute-Garonne as a whole with the departmental average standing at €2,250/m2. Prices in neighbouring, mountainous Ariège dip to €1,060/ m2, while those in Hautes-Pyrénées and Gers, which both border sought-after Nouvelle-Aquitaine, are higher at €1,230/m2 and €1,200/m2 respectively.
What your money buys Under €250,000
Large 4-bed house overlooking the river and park in the heart of the village with garden and courtyard. Walking distance to shops and services, located in Cierp-Gaud close to skiing, cycling, rafting, lakes, walks and mountain bike routes, perfect for lovers of the outdoors. €142,000 Ref: 91077CMC31
Large 3-bed home within walking distance of bustling market town, located in Trie-sur-Baïse. A spacious family home or holiday home, with a large enclosed parkland garden and additional plot of land, situated at the end of a private drive, affording a high degree of privacy. €245,000 Ref: 92699YJR65
More than €290,000
A magnificent 6-bed renovated period house with large garden, pool and mountain view in Ariège. Built in 1926, this stylish property was fully renovated in 2007 and is in immaculate condition. With its south-facing aspect and large windows, this is a very light house. €299,600 Ref: 87995NPO09
Gorgeously renovated 7-room stone house in the heart of Fleurance with garden and pool. This beautiful family home has been tastefully renovated with top-quality fittings while maintaining its Gascon character. Located just one hour from Toulouse–Blagnac Airport. €378,420 Ref: 88734MCR32
Properties available through Leggett Immobilier www.frenchestateagents.com Tel: 05 53 56 62 54
Next month: We look at the Pays de la Loire
LegalNotes Property market holds steady Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query
A: I assume you live in France and note that your parents used the 2012 EU Succession Regulation to leave their respective share of the property where you all live to you alone, rather than to all four children. Using UK law does not affect the French inheritance tax position, an important consideration for many readers, and of concern to you, in terms of your wish to leave the property to your
niece and nephew. Sadly, however, your niece and nephew cannot avoid the 55% inheritance tax payable after a €7,967 tax-free allowance for each. The most obvious solution would be for you to return to the UK following the death of your parents. You can then leave your estate to your niece and nephew without the burden of French inheritance tax. An alternative, if convoluted, way would be to gift your share of the house to your parents while keeping the right to live there for the rest of your life. Your parents would then each need to make a new will – leaving the property to the sibling parent of your niece and nephew. The sibling benefits from a €100,000 inheritance tax allowance on the share from each parent. Your sibling can then, in turn, leave the house to your niece and nephew who would get the same tax-free allowance. However, you must survive 15 years from the gift date to avoid its value falling back on your estate.
Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930 www.heslop-platt.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
These pages take a look at the property market both in Paris and across the regions at the end of July 2018. The information is the most comprehensible available as it comes from the Notaires de France, who handle every purchase in France. Here the term ‘older’ homes refers to ones built more than five years ago.
A dip in the number of properties up for sale in recent months has prompted reports of a reversal of fortunes to the recovering French property market. But the Notaires de France insist there is no cause for concern, with figures up to the end of July 2018 showing 950,000 sales completed in 12 months. Overall, the trend remains positive with sales volumes in 2018 returning to levels last seen in the early 2000s, amid growing confidence in the strength of the economy. “The trend remains positive. Just because each new quarter no longer beats the previous one in terms of the number of sales, it does not mean the situation is weak,” the Notaires de France add. “A few years ago, the announcement of a volume of “only” 950,000 sales over a year would have caused collective euphoria.” In terms of prices, steady rises have continued with mid-market prices for older homes up 2.8% on average in the regions, a figure pulled up by the rise in flat prices (+3.3%) compared to houses (+2.5%). Pre-purchase agree-
Bordeaux Older flats up 19.8% in year
Photo: Stas Rozhkov / CC BY 2.0
Your questions answered
Q: I am 35 and disabled. I live with my parents and my mum is also disabled. Our incomes are intertwined, the three of us supporting the three of us. But I am one of four children and my parents used the EU Regulation, allowing UK law, to make their will. I inherit everything and, depending on circumstance, will pay virtually zero inheritance tax. My will, however, is harder as I have neither husband or children. There is no cash involved, just a property. I will leave it (my parents fully support this) to my niece and nephew. However, inheritance tax is around 55%. Are there ways to cut the bill as they would have to sell a place they love to pay the tax? H.G.
The cost of buying older property in Bordeaux is rising steeply
Overall, the trend remains positive with sales volumes in 2018 returning to levels last seen in the early 2000s
ments for November indicate a further increase year-on-year (3.9% for flats and 3.3% forhouses). The Notaires de France, however, say regional variations are likely to become
more noticeable in the future. Paris property prices rose 3% in the period from August to November 2018 alone, with the annual increase looking set to hold steady at a predicted 6%. In the wider Ile-de-France region, prices rose 2.5% in the same three month period, a year-on-year increase of 5%. This was boosted by the price of apartments (+5.6% average increase for apartments while houses in the region are expected to see annual increases of about 4%). Further afield, trends are, in general, in line with the national picture, with a 2.8% increase in the price of apartments and a 3.2% rise in the
price of houses compared to the same time in 2017. Here, prospective buyers will see the greatest regional fluctuations. In the larger cities, prices of apartments are expected to continue to rise by between 5% and 10% in Rennes, Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon – while remaining stable in Montpellier and Toulouse, and falling in Grenoble. With regard to houses, prices in and around Nantes, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lille are expected to continue rising. In Toulouse and Lyon, they are expected to stabilise. The Notaires’ market report adds that it is not only market conditions that are influencing property prices but also political decisions concerning the housing industry, as well as taxation and the potential impact of new ‘ELAN’ law. This is France’s Evolution of Housing, Planning and Digital Development Law, adopted by parliament on October 16. Its 80 or so regulatory measures will bring reforms to both the social housing sector and urban planning and development issues, as well as the revitalisation of city centres and high speed internet access. Further evidence of French property market stabilisation came from a Banque de France study for August 2018 which said that 85% of banks in France report the number of people taking out mortgages remains constant.
Prices can be up to 14% higher for greener homes
A: Pacs partners are subject, in principle, to the régime of séparation where each party retains ownership of whatever they bring into the partnership... if one owns a property they could evict the other in a fall-out. If they decide to buy a property together, this will be held in indivision which splits the home into two equal halves or in the proportions of what each party puts in to the purchase. They can opt for indivision at the time of the Pacs contract, meaning all
assets owned or bought subsequently are owned together – even if one partner has not paid in financially. Banks, however, can reclaim unpaid mortgage funds from either of the two parties to the purchase. Partners may also opt to add a tontine clause (pacte tontinier) which allows that, in the event of death, the surviving partner becomes sole owner with no need to “buy out” the deceased partner, and also means “reserved” heirs have no rights on the property. There is a tax advantage as the property, or other goods, are seen as being bequeathed by will and not subject to inheritance rights, although there is a fee of 5.09% for droits de mutation.
Tel: 05 61 57 90 86 www.brightavocats.com email@example.com If you have a legal query send it to firstname.lastname@example.org We select questions for answer every edition
inform potential buyers about the level of heat insulation and energy spending, and the type of work needed to upgrade heating efficiency in order to reduce energy consumption. Depending on the region, homes with an A or B energy efficiency classification (A being highest) sold for between 6% and 14% more than those with D classification. There are regional differences. For example, in Brittany houses with a C class energy rating sold for 7% more than homes with a D class rating. The same goes for Nouvelle Aquitaine, while the price difference in Auvergne was 4%.
Meanwhile apartments in Occitanie with an F or G class rating sold on average for 7% less than those with a D rating, all other things being equal. In Sud Région the differential is 10% and 6% in Pays de la Loire. Notaires de France said a low rating pulls down prices more than a good rating helps raise them, and that the markdown in price for low-rated properties varies, depending on when it was built. A class A, B or C rated property built between 1948 and 1969 represents 10% of sales, for example, compared to 60% of sales for properties built since 2011.
Q: MY partner and I are in a Pacs relationship and want to buy a property together. Can you tell us what the different régimes mean for ownership in our situation? A.L.
ENERGY efficiency is increasingly affecting property prices in France, with better performing homes attracting prices of up to 14% higher than average ones. Since January 1, 2011, any advertisement selling a flat or house should include the property’s energy and greenhouse gas classification. It is up to the seller to have a Diagnostic de Performance Energétique (DPE) survey carried out. The DPE is one of several diagnostics that sellers must provide, and gives a measure of the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of the property. It is intended to
THE DPE energy certificate is one of the diagnostics that a house seller must provide. All property adverts must show it and if an advert is for a copropriété, it must also show the average annual energy charges you might pay.
Value changes around the country, year on year Older houses
Mid-market price of houses in April-June 2018. The percentage shows the change compared to same period in 2017 Rouen €160,000 3.2%
Le Havre €177,900 4% Caen €211,700 0%
Brest €172,000 7.5%
Nantes €268,000 0.8% Angers €210,000 -5%
Tours €213,000 5.7%
Poitiers €157,400 1.6%
Bordeaux €320,000 6.7%
Lille €185,900 3.5%
Amiens €149,000 -6.3%
Reims €214,400 4.6%
Île-de-France €305,500 2.5%
Chartres €190,000 -10.8%
Orléans €186,600 -6.6% Châteauroux €117,000 8.6% Limoges €152,000 10%
Nîmes €196,400 0.6%
Montpellier €313,200 4.4%
Metz €187,000 -4.1%
Dijon €231,800 2.7%
Grenoble €287,600 -0.3%
Limoges €1,060 3%
Toulon €349,000 -0.6%
Bordeaux €4,260 19.8%
Haute-Corse €220,000 7.1%
Marseille/ Aix-en-Provence €307,000 2.3%
Corse-du-Sud €369,000 11.8%
3 months* 0.5% 1.1% 0.2%
1 year** 2.8% 4.1% 2.3%
3 months* 0.6% 1.1% 0.1%
1 year** 3.3% 4.8% 1.9%
Toulouse €2,570 -0.1%
* Variation between the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2018 (January-March and April-June) ** Variation over a year between the 2nd quarter of 2017 and the 2nd quarter of 2018
Nancy €1,770 -0.3% Strasbourg €2,620 5.5%
Montpellier €2,560 -0.7%
Dijon €1,930 3.8%
Besançon €1,650 6.6%
Lyon €3,840 8.5% Nice €3,660 0.6% Toulon €1,980 -2.9%
Grenoble €2,090 -4%
Haute-Corse €2,300 1.9% Corse-du-Sud €2,750 -9.7%
Marseille €2,250 -1.8%
*Predicted growth to November 30, 2018
houses 3 months* 0.4% 0.9% 0.3%
Saint-Étienne €850 -5.7%
Nîmes €1,580 5.9%
ClermontFerrand €1,700 2.6%
Metz €1,800 10.5%
Mulhouse €1,010 2%
-2% or more Between -2% and 2% More than 2%
variation in prices according to notaires-insee France
Limoges 136 000 -6,2%
Bayonne €2,690 0%
Orléans €1,900 1.7% Bourges €1,230 -6.2%
Poitiers €1,420 -3.9%
Lyon €324,300 4.6%
Reims €2,020 1.8%
Paris €9,300 7.1%
Tours €2,200 6.9%
Nantes €2,830 5.4%
-2% or more Between -2% and 2% More than 2%
Rouen €2,160 0.2%
Caen €1,840 -0.5%
Price evolution over a year
Lille €3,040 1.5%
Amiens €1,880 -4.4%
Rennes €2,560 5.6%
Nancy €175,600 -7.1%
Troyes €154,500 3%
Saint-Étienne €185,000 8.2%
Montauban €170,000 3.4% Toulouse €286,200 2.2%
Price evolution over a year
Mid-market price of flats by m2 in April-June 2018. The percentage shows the change compared to same period in 2017
1 year** 2.5% 2.5% 2.5%
Growth 3 months*
Growth 1 year*
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‘Alpilles were haven for our Aznavour’
Trenet helped Aznavour get his big showbiz break
by OLIVER ROWLAND Charles Aznavour saw his home near the Alpilles hills in Provence as a “haven of peace”, local mayor ALICE ROGGIERO (shown above with him) told Connexion. Aznavour, who has been described as ‘the French Sinatra’ and ‘the last of the greats of French chanson’, died at his home in Mouriès, Bouches-du-Rhône, aged 94, on October 1. MS ROGGIERO said the village was very proud of Mr Aznavour and sad at the news of his death, which came unexpectedly, in the night after he had been out to a local restaurant with friends. He had a house called l’Aigo Claro (clear water) for 30 years in the quartier des fontaines, just outside the village, where he would stay around once a month. He liked to contemplate the Alpilles, immortalised in paintings by Van Gogh who spent his last days in nearby SaintRémy-de-Provence. “He came here to rest, far from the hubbub, to recharge his batteries,” said Ms Roggiero. “He said it was his haven of peace. He loved his olive
trees, which he made oil from, the Alpilles, Provence... He could come and go without fuss, no one bothered him or took photos; people respected him.” She added: “He’d had a fall at home when he missed a step. He hurt his arm and cancelled a few concerts but seemed to have got over it and had just got back from a tour in Japan. He had been physically well, but died from a problem with the heart.” He was “reserved”, but would chat with locals and was well-liked, she said. “He used to call into the mairie to say hello – and we would talk of his tours and life in the village; he didn’t have a starry attitude.” Ms Roggiero said many people came to pay homage and leave bouquets outside his gates. “They came from all over, our restaurateurs said ‘oh là là there were so many people wanting to eat’.” The mairie is reflecting on how to pay homage to him in its own way, after the family funeral and a national ceremony. “We might organise something with his Armenian friends; have a special day. And we may name a street or square after him.” Members of France’s Armenian com
munity were among those who had visited. Mr Aznavour was born in Paris, the son of Armenian immigrants. Following a 1988 earthquake, he did charitable work for the country and acted as its ambassador to Switzerland (where he also had a home) and as a Unesco delegate. “He used to say he had two countries, France and Armenia; he was torn between them,” Ms Roggiero said. In a 70-year singing career from early days opening for Edith Piaf at the Moulin Rouge, he wrote 1,300 songs and sold 180million records, as well as acting in more than 60 films. Numerous musical greats performed with him or covered his songs, from Pavarotti and Domingo to Sinatra and Crosby, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. His hits in the English-speaking world included The Old-Fashioned Way and She, which topped UK charts in the 1970s. Some commentators mourned the end of an era for French chanson, characterised by stylish and original songs with an emphasis on the text, by such names as Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, Georges Brassens and Serge Gainsbourg,
Aznavour, with Charles Trenet (centre) and Jean Cocteau they must take him or he wouldn’t perform. We’ve a picture of Mr Trenet with the young Aznavour introducing him to Jean Cocteau [above].” A 1940s letter shown to Connexion says Aznavour and then singing partner Pierre Roche are “excellent, full of talent and write their pretty songs themselves” and that “it would be charming to have them [perform] all summer. You will see the success they will have,” Trenet said. Ms Pélissié added: “Often the public think it was Piaf, but she came into his life later. It’s our duty as people who like history to put the agenda straight. It’s important people know it was Trenet who took him under his wing and gave shelter and support.”
Aznavour got his first breaks thanks to another French singing legend – not Edith Piaf, who he sang with in the 1950s, but Charles Trenet, says an expert in French song. Patricia Pélissié, president of the Festival de la Chanson Française du Pays d’Aix, said the connection with the singer of La Mer is little-known, but is borne out with letters and photos. “He was very much unknown at that time, but the person who supported him and introduced him to celebrities – Jean Cocteau, Sacha Guitry and other famous intellectuals and artists of the time, was Trenet,” she said. “His first success was in Canada, and Trenet wrote a letter to a cabaret there saying
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