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July 2018 Issue 189

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5 EU judges will now hear case to stop Brexit P7

‘This is only way left’: French lawyer fighting for expats

Green jobs boost for rural France


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Farmer and sculptor’s idea inspires new energy projects

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HUNDREDS of community-based energy projects are breathing new life into rural communes across France, creating locally-made renewable energy as well as jobs and the satisfaction of investing locally and well. Whether it is wind turbines, a solar farm, a methanation or hydroelectric plant, the DIY projects are bringing in money, jobs and new residents. They are also helping to slow down depopulation in their areas. One such project is France’s first 100% community-owned wind farm, at Béganne near Redon in Brittany. Its finance head David Laurent said: “We have created 16 jobs in a fragile economic zone. “It’s too much to say we counter depopulation but we created jobs where there were few, brought in workers from outside areas and we help Redon’s economy.” Marc Mossalgue of the energy advisory group Energie Partagée, which helped the Béganne team raise the €12million it needed, said all such projects boost their areas. “It helps against depopulation. Not because it brings in new residents so much but because it gives a positive image, changes

people’s views and builds a community spirit. “We carried out a study with [energy agency] Ademe looking at wind farm projects which had councils who got involved and ones without. Those who were involved saw three times as much investment coming in as those who did not, from €5million to €15m. That is all new money into the area.” Energie Partagée now has 273 projects across France and they all spring from a simple idea in 2003 by sculptor Michel Leclercq and local farmer Jean-Bernard Mabilais who thought of a wind farm financed and run by the community in Pays de Redon. Their four turbines at Béganne sparked a revolution in 2014 in supplying power for 6,250 people with its 18MWh/year output fed into the EDF grid. Mr Laurent said this is then used locally as ‘little electrons take the shortest path’ and power Béganne’s needs. About 1,000 locals invested an average of è Turn to Page 2 Photo: Alan Gelati



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FRANCE is basking in the renewed confidence of foreign investors, with 1,298 companies opening offices or other facilities in the country last year. The boom helped create or maintain 33,489 jobs with many in the prized manufacturing and research and development categories. One of the largest is a €300million investment by Japan’s Toyota in its Yaris factory at Onnaing near Valenciennes. International development agency Business France says its research found the improved business environment, growing economy, highly trained workforce and an awareness of company law changes by the Macron government have all added to the attractiveness factor. The report was welcome after first quarter statistics in 2018 set off alarm bells as France’s rate of economic growth slowed while unemployment rose. National statistics agency, Insee found jobless numbers up 0.2% to 2.6m, or 8.9% of the active population after a 0.7% drop in the previous quarter. At the same time growth figures showed just a 0.2% rise in gross domestic product, lower than forecast and way below the 0.7% growth at the end of 2017. “It’s too early to be alarmed but it’s fair to say that a lot of the excitement about economic growth in France and the Eurozone as a whole has fizzled out as quickly as it appeared,” Chris Williamson, economist at

Experts for Expats in France

€300m deal for Toyota’s Yaris plant at Valenciennes IHS Markit data, told Connexion. Many felt solid numbers from the Purchasing Manager Index, (PMI) gave a better picture of what was happening compared to GDP figures. “The rate of growth being signalled in the PMI surveys in the second quarter remains reasonably solid, just not as exciting in the way it was late last year. If this rate of growth persists then the economy will continue to grow at roughly its trend rate.” Ludovic Martin, economist at Crédit Agricole, remained positive about France’s economy. “There were additional oneoff charges in the first quarter

Foreign firms rate France as second only to Germany as the most attractive business destination

especially with taxes, broadly green taxes and tobacco, which were an additional slow down, compared to other countries. “They will not be repeated so I am confident the first quarter was a blip and am confident the EU and France will continue recovery in the coming years.” On the jobless figures, he said the exceptionally high fall in the last quarter of 2017, meant there had to be a “correction” in the first quarter of this year. “The trend is still for a gradual and slow fall in the unemployment rate and I do not see that this will change.” Employment Minister Muriel Pénicaud said the results were a warning light, but added that she saw the overall picture as looking good, with a “dynamic” picture for new job creation. Foreign firms rate France as second only to Germany as the most attractive European business destination. It is rated 33% with Germany on 45% and the UK on 29%. In 2016 France was rated just 23%. Other than Toyota, other projects include a €120m wind turbine blade plant in Normandy by US firm General Electric and Dutch company Plukon’s €20m for the Duc poultry business. Research and development investments include US firm Zen­Desk recruiting 50 software engineers in Montpellier and the German pharmaceutical company Sartorius employing 200 new workers in France.

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€1,800 in the project and, with help from Energie Partagée, raised €12million. Its success has now inspired projects nearby, at Sévé­rac-Guenrouët and at Avessac (Loire-Atlantique) and the project group, now called Energies Citoyennes en Pays de Vilaine, is working with them. Mr Laurent said: “We work to help others locally here, across France and in Europe. “Our problems are mirrored elsewhere and our•answers • Hotspots TV can help others, whether on funding, regulations or even winning over local opposition.” He added: “Our history in this area is of working together so it started with local supporters and while there were quite a few people against the project, there are far fewer now and especially so for new projects. “Even with our local support we could not persuade the banks and we had to go outside France but that has all changed. “We get unheard-of cooperation from banks who now see real businesses for the future.”

They have been helped by the opening of the finance market since the 2015 energy transition law as France starts to pull back its deficit on leaders Germany and Denmark. It now has over 10,000 wind turbines with maximum power of 13.5GW and 8GW of solar panels. Energie Partagée’s early expertise makes it a market leader in work on community projects. Mr Mossalgue said: “Projects we back must be citizen-based, anchored in the community and non-speculative but must also be able to produce energy. “They include wind, roof and on-ground solar, methanation and hydro and go from as small as a solar site in Aubais, near Nîmes, set up by anti-shale gas activists to power 150 homes. “They can take up to 10 years to come to life, with wind power taking longer than solar, especially rooftop panels.” Meanwhile, the first investors at Béganne may, depending on how they vote to spend profits, see the first pay-out on investment next year. Money has so far gone back into development.


RAIL strikes are set to hit the first weekend of the summer holidays as the CGT union has said it will target the weekend of the first grand départ on Friday July 6 and Saturday July 7. With support for strike action falling to below 10% on June 22 and 23, the union gave official notice of more strike action. The other leading union, SudRail, has not so far revealed its plans, apart from saying that it wants to “redynamise” its members. It has long demanded an all-out strike. The largest union, CFDT said it would not strike during the summer. Experts said it was impossible to say if the holiday weekend would be significantly disturbed but union members may be more inclined to walk out after a court ruled that SNCF must pay them for scheduled days off after strike days. Although 43.8% of drivers joined the last strike day, SNCF was still able to insure that nine out of 10 scheduled TGV trains took to the rails.

The Connexion

July 2018


News 3

IT MAY BE 120 years old next year but the world’s oldest surviving cinema, Cinéma Eden Théâtre at La Ciotat on the Côte d’Azur, is still showing films and attracting audiences, with 25,000 in its red seats last year. It showed its first films – a selection by the pioneering Lumière brothers – to a paying public on March 21, 1899 and is now an icon of independent cinema in France. With three cinema groups accounting for 52% of the national market (82% in Paris), independent cinemas are under pressure as films make most money in the first weeks of release, when independents cannot get them, and with no money to modernise they feel old-fashioned. However, Les Lumières de l’Eden association volunteers are determined to keep the Eden alive. Despite a €7million renovation, it is not a commercial cinema but an arts cinema for independent producers that regularly has top industry names to public events. President

Photo: Patrick Gaudin / CC BY 2.0


Photo: edencinemalaciotat.com

World’s oldest cinema is still alive and flickering

Michel Cornille said: “In an age where images are central, when you come in this building and know the birth of the moving picture was here in this place, there is an immense emotion. It has a soul. You can feel its history.” Although the Eden is the last survivor it was not the first cinema: “The first showing of a moving picture was

The birth of the moving picture was here in this place. It has a soul Michel Cornille, Eden Théâtre

in La Ciotat, but not at the Eden. It was at the home of the Lumière brothers, Louis and Auguste, who are regarded as the inventors of cinema. “The first showing of a film to a private audience was to 150 guests at their home on September 21, 1895. “The first time the public paid to see a film was again by the Lumières - in Paris on December 28, 1895. The building it was shown in no longer exists. There were other cinemas across the world at that period but none are still standing.” The association has a poster from the first Eden performance, advertising 19 films on March 21, 1899. The building was built in 1889, the

Court backs ‘voluntary work for benefits’ idea PEOPLE on France’s most common welfare benefit, the revenu de solidarité active RSA, may be required by their department to do ‘voluntary’ work after a ruling by the country’s highest administrative court. However, the Conseil d’Etat said only people with a ‘personalised’ contract with the department would be affected and the work must be designed to improve their chances of getting a job while not hindering them from looking for work. The ruling came after HautRhin department decided in 2016 that anyone receiving RSA would have to volunteer to work seven hours a week or face having the benefit withdrawn. It has since changed its system so that from September last year, claimants are now simply ‘encouraged’ to enter into con-

tracts to agree to do voluntary work, and it says that 800 people have done so, with “positive results for all.” The department coun­ cil in Alsace told Connexion: “We are very happy with this decision. “Through this policy we are opening the way for a new politics of solidarity so everyone can find their place in society.” RSA is the most common benefit in France, with 2.5 million recipients, and it raises the minimum disposable monthly income for a single person to €550 or €943 for a lone parent with one child. Many of those receiving RSA are workers in low-paid jobs, and the ruling came as welfare benefits moved into the political spotlight after President Macron’s office released an ‘informal’ video of a discussion

Wildlife in danger

FRANCE has 180,000 wildlife species in danger due to pesticide use with birds, bats and salmon numbers down drastically. The Observatoire National de la Biodiversité said the losses were no longer “science fiction” and were accelerating. Birds are down 30% since 1989 and we now see fewer sparrows. Since 2005, general species have fallen after off-setting a 30% loss of farm birds. Bats are down 38% due to less flying insects. Fish such as salmon have lost 70% of river volume.

he had at the Elysée with his close advisors. In it, the president complains that under the existing system the poor, and people who become poor, are given ‘crazy money’ pognon de dingue in benefits but still remain poor. In total, some seven million people receive benefits of one kind or another in the country, about 11% of the population. The government denied media reports that it was looking to cut €7 billion from social security budgets from 2021, but Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said it was looking at ways to reorganise the system to make it more efficient. She said some of the benefits (and there are dozens) were too complex to claim and administer and did little to help recipients move out of poverty.

LGBT care on way

FRANCE could get its first homosexual care home after an LGBT home project won the Silver­ Eco prize for best collective housing initiative. Former care home chief Stéphane Sauvé came up with the idea after discovering gay residents often had to “go back in the closet” once in a home. He is looking at sites for a Maison de la Diversité. Paris mairie’s Grey­ Pride Bienvenue initiative is aimed at the million LGBT seniors in France and wants to create 16 LGBT care homes.

The renovated Eden Théâtre is just as it was when it opened as a cinema in 1899

same year the Eiffel Tower was completed, and called the Eden Théâtre as the word cinema did not exist. It continued with theatre, music-hall and films until the Second World War but faced rising TV competition and then, in 1982, its director died in a robbery. It closed for nearly 30 years. The building had been central to the town’s cultural life – “half of La Ciotat met the other half of La Ciotat at the Eden-Théâtre. It was a place where all ages and all social classes would come” – and people were disappointed to see it crumble into disrepair. Renovation funds via Marseille’s year as European Capital of Culture helped it re-open on October 9, 2013,

as a replica of the original cinema. It draws audiences from far and wide with guests such as Anna Karina, the muse of Jean-Luc Godard, and Marcel Pagnol’s grandson, Nicolas. Mr Cornille added: “The importance is to make sure our cinema continues to be a meeting place for discussion and we try to keep this alive. “La Ciotat people have a special relationship with cinema. Many are cinéphiles, film buffs, and support what we do here. “We do not show the blockbusters, but we encourage film innovation with many up and coming, and inventive producers. Cinema was born here and it keeps on growing here.”

Brexit 4 News


A FRENCH lawyer’s case challenging the basis of the Brexit negotiations is to be heard in front of five judges on July 5 in what he has described as a last-ditch chance to maintain Britons’ EU citizenship. Julien Fouchet from Bordeaux is bringing the case on behalf of 13 British expats living in the EU, four of whom are in France. The EU’s General Court has increased the number of judges for the hearing from the usual panel of three to five, a sign that the case is being viewed as significant. The hearing is based on the idea that the Brexit negotiations are illegal under EU law because they follow a referendum that was discriminatory as it excluded long-term British expats living in other EU countries. By excluding long-term expats the UK was, in effect, punishing them for exercising their right of free movement, breaking EU principles of equal treatment of citizens. After 15 years living out of the UK British expats lose the right to vote in UK national elections and this was also the case for the June 2016 referendum on EU membership. Mr Fouchet argues that as the referendum was discriminatory, the EU should not be in talks with the UK. He hopes that a decision cancelling the negotiations could come before the UK leaves and believes it would halt the process unless the UK holds a new vote including long-term expats in the EU. He said: “There’s a huge risk for British firms and firms that want to invest in the UK, for citizens and their freedom of movement and to run businesses… it’s a catastrophe. I hope the judges take account of all this because the negotiations are not just a preparatory matter, as the other side claims, but the trigger of an irreversible process.” Other cases challenging aspects of Brexit have hit legal obstacles and been delayed. ‘People’s Vote’ campaigners have also been pres­sing for what would in effect be another referendum, with most aiming at a choice including ‘no Brexit’ (see photo box above). However the UK government says there will not be another vote, nor is the final vote on the exit deal promised to British


Thousands march for People’s Vote

Photo: Catherine Bearder MEP

Five EU judges are to hear case challenging Brexit vote

“THERESA May can’t keep ignoring us” said expat rights campaigner Debbie Williams. She estimated “twice as many” marched in London calling for a “People’s Vote” on the deal as marched against Brexit in March 2017, including many people who came from France. “There was more anger and frustration this time, because the deadline is getting closer,” she said.

MPs expected to include a choice to reject the deal and remain. Little progress has been announced in the negotiations for several months, raising the threat of a ‘no deal’ exit once again as arose last autumn when there were doubts as to whether ‘sufficient progress’ had been made to move on with the talks. A crucial EU summit is to be held on June 28-29, this will be the last before October by which point everything is meant to be concluded if the UK is not to leave without a deal on March 29, 2019. Mr Fouchet said: “Our case is the last legal hope, apart from political hopes, of Britons remaining EU citizens. Once the UK has left it will be too late.” Judges at London’s High Court rejected the so-called ‘Article 50 Challenge’ [which sought to prove that Article 50 was not triggered properly with a clear decision to leave by MPs] as “hopeless” (an appeal has been lodged) and in the Amsterdam case [seeking a ruling that Britons’ EU citizen-

ship may survive Brexit] appeal judges have said a lower court’s decision to refer a question to the European Court of Justice had merit but the issue must wait until the outcome of the negotiations is known. A third case in the Scottish courts, seeking to ask the ECJ if Britain may cancel Brexit unilaterally, was rejected as ‘hypothetical’ as the UK had said it would leave with or without a deal. Mr Fouchet, whose clients include expat votes campaigner Harry Shindler, 96, from Italy, added: “There is no deal as yet and, if there is no deal, there’s an enormous risk that all Britons will lose their EU citizenship and so this case must continue and win as it will be the only way of preserving Britons’ rights. If there is no solution for the Irish border we are heading for ‘no deal’.” British barrister Jolyon Maugham, who backed the Amsterdam case, said the most likely avenue now will probably be to reintroduce a case in the Amsterdam District Court once the UK and EU confirm they have a final deal on citizens’ rights.

The Connexion

July 2018

France ‘should do more to prepare’ COUNTRIES like France should do more to work out procedures for Britons after Brexit, says EU Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt. “Most member states have not started the process and many have not yet determined the procedures. We will remain very vigilant,” he said in a speech. It came as UK Home Secre­tary Sajid Javid said the UK is working on a simple online application for EU citizens in the UK, which should be running by the autumn and he is not aware of other countries doing the same. It is planned that people would only be asked to prove identity and that they live in the UK and to declare criminal convictions. Mr Javid said refusal would only be for “a very good reason” and criminal record checks would be about “serious and persistent criminality”. Meanwhile the British ambassador to France told Connexion he would encourage Britons in France to apply for a carte de séjour, a step which can be done now, before any post-Brexit requirements are finalised. Campaign group for Britons in the EU British in Europe (BiE) said that, while they welcome interest from the UK on citizens’ rights, the display of concern is misplaced. Chairwoman Jane Golding said it was because of British demands concerning registration of EU citizens in the UK that Britons in the EU are likely to have to apply for a new status and the right to stay – what the UK calls ‘settled status’ – as opposed to just having to confirm their entitlement to rights already acquired. It was also at Britain’s insistence that the deal says states can ask for criminal-

ity declarations and checks. EU citizens in the UK are dissatisfied with a £65 fee per adult and £32.50 per child for the paperwork (though it will be free for those who have an EU permanent residency card). The Brexit negotiations have become bogged down over the Irish border, with the UK refusing the EU’s suggestion of Nor­ thern Ireland alone remaining in ‘regulatory alignment’ with the EU (concerning movement of goods). The solution is notably rejected by the DUP. With a summit of EU leaders set to take place on going to press, it is unclear how headway will be made before October when the EU has said a final deal should be in place. Former European Council presi­dent Herman Van Rompuy has said the deal may be finalised in late autumn, “at the last moment, with your [the UK’s] back against the wall, the abyss in front of you and a knife under your throat.” The Withdrawal Bill, which details how EU laws may be incorporated into UK national law, has been signed off with none of the amendments the Lords had hoped to add, including staying in the wider Euro­ pean Econo­ mic Area. This, among other issues would have protected Britons’ automatic right to live and work in France. An amendment giving MPs power to decide what to do if there is ‘no deal’ also failed. In early June, BiE campaigners spoke to a British MPs’ select committee on Brexit, urging it to tell the government to put ‘onward’ free movement back on the negotiating table. This relates to the lifetime right to live and work across the EU.

Changes for second-home owners In Limbo Too goes on sale

BREXIT raises many questions for second-home owners, who are not included under the agreed ‘exit deal’ as this is restricted to people actually living abroad. UK residents with second homes in France will face extra hurdles unless the UK agrees, for example, to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) which is not expected to happen. Depending on the exact nature of the future agreement it could be necessary to apply for a short-term stay visa (a sticker in your passport) for any temporary visit to France. However, we believe this is unlikely considering the large France/UK tourist trade. What is likely is that Britons visiting France after Brexit (and any transition period) will be subject to the EU’s new ETIAS ‘visa waiver’ scheme. This launches in 2021 and will require an online application for prior approval to

A NEW not-for-profit book of testimonies of British people living in other EU countries about how Brexit is affecting their lives is now available. In Limbo Too (€10.50 at amazon.fr) includes some accounts from Connexion readers and follows a similar In Limbo book published last year about the experiences of EU27 citizens living in the UK. The new book is a partnership between In Limbo - Our Brexit Testi monies and campaign group for Britons in other EU countries Brexpats - Hear Our Voice. Any profits will be used for future projects and campaigning with no profit to individuals. The organisers are now raising funds to

distribute and market the book around the EU as widly as possible (tinyurl.com/yc3t8rfl). Editor Debbie Williams said: “We need to get our voices out there. We’ll send it to as many politicians that need to read it as we can. It’s important people tell their stories because real people are affected and that’s missing from this debate. It’s also a testimony to how wonderful it is when people all over the EU work together.”

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visit the EU and will include a €7 fee. It may be checked at the border with a passport scan. Permission to visit will last three years and will allow up to three months at a time in the Schengen Zone in any 180-day period (the usual limit for non-EU visitors). The visits can be repeated within the three year timeframe without a second application and can be to a mixture of EU countries. Under the present system for EU citizens it is possible to stay almost half the year in France as long as the EU visitor has health cover and sufficient funds to cover the trip. A European Commission source told Connexion there is no specific limit on the time during which an EU visitor may use an EHIC as long as their stay is ‘temporary’. However once Britons are non-EU citizens both the EHIC and formality-free visits are expected to end. Our Brexit helpguide (see below) has more details on this.


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News in brief Fireworks will return to Nice Promenade

Nice will hold a fireworks display on the Promenade des Anglais to mark the Fête Nationale for the first time since the Bastille Day terror attack in 2016 that killed 86. The event, planned for 2019, will not however be held on July 14 but July 15 as a sign of respect for victims’ families.

Mushroom bonanza for warm wet spring RAIN and warm weather have meant a bonus for mushroom hunters with normal edible autumn fungi such as cèpes or Amanite des Césars being found in June. In Saint-JulienMolin-Molette, Loire, a football-sized vesse-de-loup puffball was found that weighed 2kg!

Obstacle course is D-day reminder VISITORS to a D-Day museum in Normandy can get a taste of the training soldiers did prior to the 1944 invasion with an obstacle course. Normandy Victory Museum in Catz, Manche, says its course gets young people interested “in a way that seeing dummy soldiers does not”.

Royal wine sales soar but not at vineyard WHITE Burgundy wine drunk at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding sold out within hours after fans discovered the couple chose Olivier Le­flaive’s Les Sétilles Bour­gogne Blanc from Puligny-Montrachet, Côte-d’Or. UK merchant Lay & Wheeler sold its last 810 bottles of the 2016 chardonnay and said it could have sold four times that. Olivier Leflaive said he was pleased they chose his wine but it had been a ‘moral recompense” rather than financial as vineyard sales had not risen.

Gold hoard found as house is demolished DEMOLITION workers have found a hoard of gold coins in a house in Brittany, 600 of which were hidden in a brass First World War shell casing. Dating from 1870 and Bel­ gian king Léopold II, the coins are worth €200,000. The fortune will be split between the site owner and the workers.

Anti-drone eagle attacks five-year-old AIR force chiefs are rethinking their use of golden eagles to stop possible drone attacks on security sites after one eagle attacked a girl at a picnic in the Pyrénées and clawed her back. The bird can down drones quickly in a terror attack but dived on the five-year-old, who had a top tied round her waist, as she played with other children at col d’Osquich.

July 2018

Radars will flash at 80kph even if the signs still say 90

SPEED limits on more than one million kilometres of road will be cut from 90kph to 80kph on July 1 but while many signs have not yet been changed drivers still face fines as radars have been updated and will send fines no matter what the sign says. Motorists in Seine-et-Marne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Eure, Doubs and Vendée need to be aware as they have the most fixed radars affected, ranging from 40 in Vendée to 47 in Seine-et-Marne. Dor­dogne, Manche, Aveyron, Char­­ente-Maritime and Ille-etaine have the most roads Vil­ changing to the new limit, with 10,971km in Dordogne down to 8,561km in Ille-et-Vil­aine. The changes aim to reduce the road toll and save 400 lives on roads with no central divider. More than 1,870 fixed radars have been recalibrated – about half the total – but with 20,000 signs to be changed it is far from certain that all will be done. The government says they should be masked if wrong but are only there as a reminder as the ‘default’ limit is now 80kph. Local councils are supposed

Not all signs will be replaced but radars will still issue fines to change signs and be repaid by the government but, with many senators and departments challenging the law, Julien Vick, director of roadsign makers’ federation Syndi­cat des Equipe­ ments de la Route said councils “had been slow in ordering”. In Limousin, Corrèze, Creuze and Haute-Vienne departments have dragged their heels with Creuse saying it will not change any signs as a protest against the limit, which it said would “contribute to our isolation”. GPS firm TomTom carried

MP demands opt-in system to ban firms making cold calls

an mp is demanding an opt-in system for cold calls to homes meaning firms would only be able to contact people who have expressly agreed to receive calls saying the existing opt-out system with Bloctel is a failure. Ardennes MP Pierre Cordier said that, despite 3.5million people registering with Bloctel to block 7.4m numbers, people were still being harassed with calls at all hours. His proposal to change the law was backed in committee and now goes forward for a vote on proposals that include turning the Bloctel system on its head... from an opt-out to an opt-in system. Opt-in systems are used in 11 other EU countries, including Germany. He added that call firms should also have a separate number so people can recognise them as canvassing calls. Mr

News 5


Photo: Céréales Killer

The Connexion

Cordier said: “There is no real will on the part of telephone operators to make Bloctel work. “Our citizens are entitled to peace and quiet.” Feedback from readers who have signed up to Bloctel is that it is time-consuming and over-complicated to use – and ineffective at stopping calls. Reader Sian Foster said “it made no difference” while Barry Moffat said he is still getting “8-10 calls a day” and may cancel his landline. Renée Schouten Janssen does not “answer the phone unless a number from the Nether­lands, Belgium or the UK is shown”. John Goodall sent complaints for 300 numbers and while calls slowed it was a “complex and crazy” system with individual complaints for each number. Carolyn Bailey said Bloctel needed too much information.

Recoup ‘seized’ flight items AIR passengers at Paris Charles de Gaulle are now able to recover objects seized at security that they could not take on the flight. The airport and La Poste are testing a service called Tripperty that gives travellers the choice of depositing objects or sending them on. One in eight passengers has to dump banned articles such as perfume, wine or a knife. Now they can be sent on at a cost of €15 in France or €20 for Europe or you can pick them up on your return within 21 days for €10. Non recovered items are given to charity.

out checks for Autoplus magazine and found that 466,000km of main road would switch to the 80kph limit along with 571,000 of smaller local roads. With rural areas most affected it reinforced claims there was no thought of the countryside as Paris has no 80kph roads and just 13km in Hauts-de-Seine, 11km in Seine-Saint-Denis and 6km in Val-de-Marne. Autoplus says the change will boost fines revenue by €335m but this will be added to the €1.01billion taken in fines from


fixed radars in 2017... as part of total road fines of €1.97bn. Fears of sky-high costs have been calmed as the national ‘default’ speed limit is indicated by the black diagonal on white sign, not the 90kph sign which is often seen as a reminder at autoroute or expressway exits. This means a €6-12m bill with each panel costing €80 plus fitting. Half of existing signs were near the end of their working lives, so were due to be replaced. Mr Vick said the 20,000 figure was deceptive as numbers varied – Brittany, for example, has just 700. He added that a two-man team could fit 10 signs a day. Calls by senators for the limits to be introduced only on dangerous roads were rejected by the government which said a national limit was simpler; although the measure is to be reviewed in two years’ time. Similarly, calls to retain 90kph on long straight roads with clear visibility were met with the results of a safety study that showed that 20% of them had 55% of road deaths. ‘Attack on freedom’ – P15

La Poste tests end of Dordogne’s daily post La Poste is looking at ending daily deliveries while staff do other work, such as helping older people on com­puters or completing tax forms, say postal workers in the Dordogne. The CGT postal union claims customers are grouped in categories such as those receiving repeat deliveries of newspapers, getting mail daily and others every two days or once a week. It was reacting to a letter from a villager in Lachaud, Hautefort, who said its postbox was taken away, with La Poste telling him it was rarely used (très faible et sporadique) and “did not justify a daily visit from the postman”. The man saw it as the first step to ending daily rounds. La Poste denies such ‘categorising’ happens. It says it has a public service mission that means staff will pass each day if there are deliveries to be made. With less mail being sent, post staff do jobs such as checking on or helping old people at home. Meanwhile, sports paper a­ zon L’Equipe is to use Am­ Prime for Paris deliveries.

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Mont St Michel, Normandy

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6 News

The Connexion


July 2018

Work starts on hyperloop test track near Toulouse

same as for a TGV line but operating costs will be much lower, partly due to the tube having solar panels on the top to produce electricity. Its site at Francazal airfield on the outskirts of Toulouse will see a 300m test track built on the ground by autumn to be used for air-lock tests. A year later, a 900m track on 6m concrete pylons should be ready for full-scale tests using passenger cabins being built by Spanish firm Carbures. Individual 20m long steel tubes, with a 4m diameter and weighing 65 tonnes,

will be transported by road from Spain to the site. Toulouse metropolitan authority has made the site available for the ‘bargain price’ of €600,000 on condition that a research and development centre is also built. It is arranging removal of pollutants and paying for part of it. As an aeronautics hub, Toulouse sees the technology as similar and capable of attracting jobs and researchers. Meanwhile, the Canadian firm TransPod is also set to build a halfscale test track for a similar system in

Haute-Vienne, starting in autumn. It also uses pods shooting through depressurised tubes and describes its system as being driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. Thierry Boitier of TransPod spoke to Connexion and said: “We aim to be running tests in Haute-Vienne by next year on a 1km section, which will be extended to 3km, soon after. “Limoges famously does not have a TGV link with Paris or with Toulouse, which is why local authorities are so interested in alternatives.”

The half-scale system will be made of 2m steel tubes and will not be used by passengers. Its purpose will be to perfect the motorisation and to check acceleration and speed. Studies show the TransPod system should also cost the same or slightly less than TGV lines to build. The company said it hopes future commercial services of its system will be able to transport passengers at speeds of up to 1,200kph, just below the speed of sound. “Every test we have done so far shows that it is practicable and it will open up new transport opportunities which do not at present exist,” Mr Boitier said. However, hyperloop is not the first time France has been at the centre of levitation technology research. In the early 1970s an air-cushion hovertrain called Aérotrain was developed in France using jet engine propulsion. Sections of a test track viaduct can still be seen north of Orléans. Work was abandoned on the idea after the SNCF developed plans for the rival TGV instead. If HyperloopTT’s French tests go well, it could be on track to build the first commercial hyperloop track to open in 2020 in the United Arab Emirates between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Urgent calls for new emergency number MINISTERS want to simplify the emergency number system after a woman died when her call was shunted around and not handled properly. France uses 13 emergency numbers and Naomi Musenga’s death in Strasbourg has rekindled debate on why it has so many and the time wasted. Ms Musenga was in agony with stomach pains and dialled 17 for police, was then transferred to 18 for the pompiers who passed her onto 15 and the Samu emergency medical service where the operator advised her to call the all-hours SOS Médecins doctor service. She died several hours later after Samu took her to hospital. The sapeur-pompier federation has called for a reform. Its president Eric Faure says it is “too simple to blame individual faults, we must question the way the system works”. He said previously that the system for people needing help was like “picking Loto numbers”. Now, the pompiers want a sin-

Photo: David Crochet CC BY-SA 3.0

CONSTRUCTION has started on the first test track in Europe for Tesla tycoon Elon Musk’s idea for a vacuum tube transport system, the hyperloop. US firm Hyperloop Trans­ portation Technolo­gies is building the track at an old military airbase near Toulouse. Its system will see electric-powered passenger pods levitated by electromagnets and gliding at high speeds through low-pressure tubes (where much of the air has been sucked out). Mr Musk floated the idea of pods shooting through depressurised tubes in 2012 and named them hyperloops. However, he decided to leave the idea for other firms to develop (although he recently started the amusingly-named Boring Company which aims to construct underground versions). HyperloopTT says it was the first to develop the idea and quotes speeds of 1,000kph, with times of 30 minutes on a possible future 381-mile journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco. However, CEO Dirk Ahlborn recently told La Tribune French newspaper that he now expects operational speeds to be around 400-500kph. Mr Ahlborn said the price of installing a line is expected to be around the

The HyperloopTT system that will be tested at the Toulouse Francazal site will see electromagnetic -powered pods travelling at airline speeds through the distinctive low-pressure tubes

Photo: Hyperloop



Urgent medical aid 116 117 On-call doctors, in Police or gendarmerie certain departments Sapeur-pompiers 119 Child abuse Relay for the deaf 191 Air emergency 196 Maritime emergency or hard of hearing 115 Samu social, to help 197 Kidnapped child 3624 SOS Médecins, the homeless 116 000 missing children 24-hour medical care Europe-wide emergency number, used from mobile phones, that is answered by Pompiers or Samu


gle number to be used, 112. Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said she had held talks with the interior ministry on simplifying the system between pompiers – the normal first port of call as they are all paramedics – and Samu but found disadvantages. She said “a single number is easier to remember” but delayed urgent health care as it took “several stages to reach a doctor” resulting in lost time. She said, plans would be put forward before summer after looking at systems in other countries such as 999 in the UK

and 911 in the US. Several countries, including Germany, Denmark, Spain, and Por­tu­gal use the Europe-wide 112 – also the number for mobile phones. If you call 112 in France your call is picked up by pompiers or Samu, depending on the dep­ artment the call is made in. Pompiers deal with 20 million calls a year (64% have dialled 18, 36% 112). They say a single number would see calls answered in 15 seconds, with 30 seconds to get details and then the person is transferred to the right service within a minute.

Nutty cheese a winner

NON-MILK cheese from Auvergne has won a national award and a half-share of a €30,000 prize in an organic and vegan ‘new’ foods competition. Caroline Poinas and Lucie de Ribier run Frawmagerie in Clermont-Ferrand and have developed 13 products that are based on cashew or almond nuts and sunflower seeds. Their cheeses, made using fermented probiotic juice, have names like Crawttin de cajou or Bleuffant des volcans – however MPs want such ‘copy’ names banned by law.

Frawmagerie’s Bleuffant des volcans is made with cashew nuts

Councillors keen for base revenue test THIRTEEN departments want to start a system of ‘basic revenue’ payments to see if it cuts administration. Called revenue de base, it is not a universal revenue but a fusion of existing benefits that are unclaimed by a third of beneficiaries due to complexity. It would pay from €461 to €725. If approved, tests would involve a sample of 20,000 people in Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Dordogne, Gers, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Ille-et-Vilaine, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Nièvre and Seine-Saint-Denis.

Plastic waste dumped in shop protest

A RECENT one-day operation saw environmental campaigners stripping the plastic from their supermarket shopping and leaving it at the stores in protest at excess packaging. From Strasbourg to Quimper and Le Mans to Hyères customers put purchases into reusable containers before dumping the packaging in trolleys. Called Plastic Attack, the global campaign aims to highlight plastic pollution saying 8million tonnes ends up in oceans each year. It is asking stores to cut plastic use. Carre­ four said its own-label products would be compliant by 2025.

The Connexion

July 2018


by JANE HANKS TOUR de France organisers say they will not be getting rid of the traditional ‘podium girls’ for this year’s event, which starts at Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile on July 7. They were denying widespread reports that the women would be absent after Paris mairie said it did not want to see hostesses on the podium at the finishing line on the Champs-Elysées on July 29. It followed controversy last year when Belgian cyclist Jan Bakelants had to apologise for sexist remarks about the hostesses (he said he always had a condom with him in case he met up with some) and a report on French TV where women working in the race’s publicity caravane said that sexual harassment was common. Tour promoters, Amaury Sport Organ­ isation, told Connexion: “Director Christian Prudhomme has already told the media, there will be hostess girls on the Tour de France podiums, just as men are present on the podiums for women’s races.” The hostesses are employed by Tour sponsors but none replied to our request for an interview. The Spanish Tour de la Vuelta now uses stewards and hostesses and Australia’s Tour Down Under has junior cyclists on stage. Formula 1 stopped using ‘grid girls’ this year and it comes four years after Miss

Photo: © ASO / Alex Broadway

Tour de France to keep its ‘podium girls’ despite critics

Racer Fabio Aru with hostesses after his 2017 win at La Planche des Belles Filles World banned bikinis. Doubts started over the podium girls when Paris mairie wrote to Tour organisers and Sports Minister Laura Flessel asking that they be replaced by young sports champions so that “a stereotypical image of women” would no longer be presented to the world. Ms Flessel, a former Olympic fencing champion, replied saying she found “nothing sexist” about the podium girls. Paris deputy mayor with responsibility for equality, Hélène Bidard, said she regretted the Tour organisers’ decision for 2018. “One day everyone will understand this type of ceremony is old fashioned and it is

more interesting to have young sports- people on the podium. I am confident it will be banned eventually but the fight for equality between the sexes is a long one.” This year’s Tour features 176 riders in 22 teams racing 3,329km in a route that misses Central France. From Vendée it heads to Brittany, Roubaix in Hauts-de-France, then nées Savoie across to Occitanie, the Pyré­ and Pays Basque before the Paris final leg. Four-time winner Chris Froome is back after his historic treble of the Tour, Vuelta and Italian Giro but other riders, Tour icon Bernard Hinault and Mr Prudhomme have criticised him over a drug test anomaly.

News 7

One pair of free glasses every two years for everyone FREE glasses, dental prostheses and hearing aids will be available to almost everyone in France in a big change of social policy. President Macron said the first deals had just been signed and there would be full implementation by 2021. With millions rejecting optical, auditory and dental care due to costs, he told insurance companies his entry-level options would be free for all, regardless of income, as long as they had a mutuelle. He called it a “social investment” to help those unable to afford easily-available remedies. Low reimbursements – for example, just €75.25 on the usual €500 crown – left too many people with too much left to pay (reste à charge), meaning 4.7million gave up on dental prosthetics and 2.1m on hearing aids. “This means the possibility of smiling, seeing, hearing, sometimes eating normally; our fellow citizens due to costs are deprived of these prostheses.” Health Minister Agnès Buzyn has signed two industry agree-

ments on optical and auditory aids with a third on dental care to be signed at the end of June. The new plan, ‘Reste à charge 0%’, splits basic costs between the state reimbursement system and mutuelles for the 95% of people with such cover. Any special options are paid for but the bill will be lower than the €4.4billion people pay today. Opticians, dentists and audiologists will get higher health service payments for preventive services and in return will cut basic prosthetic tariffs, while retaining a full cost service. Opticians will offer 17 models of frames for under €30 plus anti-scratch lenses. New glasses will be available every two years. The average €850 reste à charge for hearing aids (after mutuelle payment) will be cut by €200 in 2019, then €250 to reach zero by 2021. All types of aids will be covered. In dental care, crowns and bridges will be tackled first, in 2020, with entry-level options having ceramic crowns for front teeth and metal at the back.

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8 News

The Connexion


A FIVE-year programme that will see the number of wolves in France grow by 40% to 500 has been blasted by farmers – as well as by groups campaigning for the animals’ protection. The government’s Wolf Plan outlines efforts to ensure the survival of the species, which returned after being wiped out in the 1930s, while also considering its impact on livestock. France is currently home to an estimated 360 wolves, with Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot’s scheme planning for 500 by 2023. The proposal will allow controlled culling to keep numbers at 500 and includes financial aid to help farmers protect livestock via deterrents such as herding dogs, electric fencing and 3m-high fences. However, satisfying both wildlife groups and the farming community, who have seen attacks on livestock soar in recent years, has been difficult. Sheep farmers’ Fédération Nat­ionale Ovine has long called for the government to ensure the safety of their animals from wolves, and criticised the plan, saying it “once again ignores the voice of the rural community”. Last year alone, it said, some 12,000 livestock were killed in 3,000 separate wolf attacks with problems particularly acute in the Alps and Pyrénées regions. Meanwhile, damages paid out to farmers rose to €3.5million in 2016, the latest year with accurate figures, a rise of 60% over three years.

Photo: R Blackbourn

Wolf numbers to increase to 500

Government proposals are targeting a 40% increase in wolf numbers in France by 2023 That is a worry for Matthew Bentley, a British expat who has been farming sheep in Burgundy’s Morvan for 12 years. “The day we get wolf attacks in Morvan is the day we’ll be forced to stop sheep farming. It’s as simple as that. “I like the thought of having wolves in France – they are beautiful animals – but we don’t

have enough space for livestock and wolves to co-exist.” He also called out the government’s “hypocrisy” in committing to safeguard wolf numbers: “As farmers we are constantly told by authorities to improve standards of animal welfare, so to hear the government is effectively championing a brutal livestock killer is pretty galling.”

The day we get wolf attacks in Morvan is the day we’ll be forced to stop sheep farming Matthew Bentley sheep farmer

Wildlife groups have decried a proposed cull of 10% to 12% of the wolf population each year to keep it within the 500-animal target. Hunters in France would be allowed to shoot 40 wolves this year, the same as in 2017. The plan also gives farmers the right to kill wolves in defence of livestock. Madline Reynaud, of wildlife group Aspas, said: “We’re not happy at all, both about the number of wolves that will be culled, and the circumstances in which they can be killed. We will fight both proposals.” She added the government’s 500-animal target fell short of guaranteeing “the viability of the species in the long term”. The government’s 2018-2023 strategy is the latest in a long line of measures since 1996 to to balance conservation efforts with agricultural concerns.

France’s first official wolf hunters formed in 9th century WOLVES disappeared in France in the 1930s, some 900 years after the royal office of the Luparii — wolf-catchers — was created in France. Active hunting and improved technology such as rifles in the 19th century, plus the use of poisons, caused France’s wolf population to collapse until they were officially declared extinct in the country in the inter-war years. But, in the 1990s, the animals began to reappear, crossing the Alps from Italy. The first confirmed

sightings were in the Mercantour Park, in the Alpes-Maritimes, in 1992. In the decades that have followed, wolves have spread deep into France, with unconfirmed sightings as far northwest as Côtes-d’Armor in Brittany in 2017. Such reports – even if the nearest confirmed sightings to Brittany are in the Loiret and Indre departments – delight environmentalists, who see the predators’ presence as a sign of wider ecological health. However farmers - especially in

the Alps, Jura, the Vosges, the Massif Central (home to France’s biggest sheep breeders) and the Pyrénées - regard the animals as a threat. Wolves are classed as a protected species under the Berne Convention, which France signed up to in 1989. Their population in France is around 360, compared to 2,000 in Spain, but the plan to let numbers increase to about 500 (see above) will mean they will be roughly back to the same numbers as in 1900.

July 2018

New giant forest to give Paris ‘green lungs’ PARIS could soon gain a new “green lung” as plans to plant a forest up to four times the size of New York’s Central Park 30km to the northwest of the city gain momentum. Much of the 1,300 hectare site covering the plain of PierrelayeBessancourt is currently used as a fly tip. It is bordered by roads and fringed by urban development. Farmers used sludge from Paris’s sewers for years to fertilise the fields, leading to a buildup of pollutants, including heavy metals. It meant market gardening had to be banned in the area in 2000. Now a syndicate of 10 local authorities, called SMAPP, is

pushing though a €85million plan to plant a million trees and create a bio-diverse space out of the polluted wasteland. If all goes to plan the first trees should be planted in 2019. “The area faces major ecological problems” said Bernard Tailly, the president of SMAPP. “Thanks to this project it will be opened again to new uses and to the public. “The future forest will be open to leisure activities and the preservation of bio-diversity.” Naturalists have long identified the area as a “missing link” between other protected sites around Paris and see the future forest playing an important role in the environment.

158-year-old amusement park reopens after facelift A POPULAR tourist attraction in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris that dates back to the time of Emperor Napoleon III has reopened after an eight-month, €60million revamp. It is the first time the Jardin d’Acclimatation amusement park, which opened in 1860, has been restored – and it is hoped it will attract 3million visitors a year moving forward. Many historical attractions at the 158-year-old park have

entranced visitors young and old for more than a century such as the 1900 carousel, the enchanted river, the little train, the destorting mirrors and the educational farm and remain operational. In total the park boasts 40 attractions, 17 of which are new including several roller-coasters. It aims to position itself as the third amusement park in the greater Paris area, behind Parc Astérix and Disneyland Paris.

‘Rethink national service’ STUDENT groups have called on President Emmanuel Macron to rethink plans for mandatory national service for up to 800,000 18 - to 21-year-olds. The associations say the proposals are full of “inconsistencies” and condemn the “binding” nature of the government’s universal national service project as well as its “demagogic” logic. The calls came after a committee appointed by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe submitted its proposals, which were a campaign promise of President Macron. Under the plans, students aged between 15 and 18 would have to complete a month’s service. This could be followed by a further three to six months of voluntary service before the age of 25. On completing stages of the course, young people could be entitled to certain privileges, such as lower costs for a driving licence.

The Connexion

The Connexion May 2018 connexionfrance.com

July 2018

News connexio 9

Message in a Saint-Emilion bottle Frog chorus African art could be heading ‘home’ Linky faces court may cost challenge from €150,000

Alzheimer drugs halted

FOUR Alzheimer drugs costing the health service €90million a year will no longer be reim­ bursed as the ministry moves to stop them being prescribed due to harmful side effects, which include falls and broken bones. Savings on Aricept, Ebixa, Ex­­ el­on, Reminyl and generics will go to Alzheimer care services.

Photo: © Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac / Cyril Zannettacci

JUDGES have ordered a couple to pay €30,000 in damages and fill in a pond after neighbours’ complaints about noisy frogs... but doing so makes them liable to a €150,000 fine and two years’ jail for damaging protect­ ed species in the pond. Michel and Annie Pecheras at Grignols, St Astier, Dordogne, have battled the case for six years and will now appeal to the Bordeaux court for a solution – while green campaigners want to take it to the European Court. The pond has been on the property for more than 100 years and a petition to save it has drawn 138,000 names.

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

Funeral home’s dark humour on lighters

A JOKE cigarette lighter has won a Riviera funeral home The ‘zone Afrique’ at Musée du quai Branly is a spectacular unexpected fame for its display grim FRANCE is looking for ways to allow the restitution of African art­ works from its museums and pub­ lic spaces after President Macron said on a visit to Burkina Faso that he wants action in five years. It is said 90% of African art is not in Africa and Mr Macron wants “temporary or permanent restitu­ tion of African heritage to Africa”. It is a turnaround as France has denied restitution since 1566 and says that once works are in a muse­ um they became public property.

message ‘You Thanks... Museums like smoke? the Louvre and see you Musée dusoon!’ quai Branly-Jacques Pompes Funèbres des Chirac have full displays ofOliviers African Nice said the lighters a art.inUnesco director Audreywere Azou­ to staff and notsaying advertising laygift added pressure young – butquestioned a tweet highlighting people why worksthe had was retweeted tens of notmessage been returned, with thoughts thousands of times. “more on ethics than statutes” and looking at boosting African identi­ ty 4.5m and tourist value. are illiterate in Now a cultural committee is to France, says writer look at ways of proceeding, includ­ of people cannot ingMILLIONS ways for French artworks to go basic or even onread display in instructions African museums.

WEARING the robes of the Saint-Emilion Jurade, Sting was guest of honour at the grand cru Château Monlot as it inaugurated new facilities after five years of improvements. He was initiated into the brotherhood by leader AROUND 300 peopleHubert are tak­ de Bouärd (pictured). is ing joint legal action Sting opposing flanked by wife Trudie Styler the installation of new Linky and Château Monlot owner electricity meters by Enedis. Zhao Wei.Pierre Hurmic, who is Lawyer He thanked the to Jurade with an leading the case be heard in acoustic of Message said: in a deauxversion Bor­ in September, Bottle, saying his passions in life “The key argument is whether were Trudie, andthem wine.on Enedis can music impose The original de Saintpeople withoutJurade a choice. Emilion founded have by King “Most was households per­ John (known from fectly‘Lackland’ good, modern electricity the Robin Hood tales) 1199, meters which work butinare told when Aquitaine under by Enedis they was have to have English control. granted local these new metersIt whether they notables jurats, legal and like it or called not and, as electricity political rights they consumers, payand to do so.”ran the town supervised producThe and Linky meters have drawn tion of fine from winesvarious – its marque opposition sourc­ àes.feu du vinetier Some say the (vintner’s meters, which end the need for a physical reading, collect too much pri­ road information, signs with a former CGT vate and transmit union leaderOthers saying say in aelectrobook it to Enedis. that illiteracy is still from widespread magnetic radiation trans­ despite decades of work mission interferes with sleep, nationally and problems. it being declared causing health a Mr government in 2013.I Hurmic priority said: “Legally, Thierry Lepaonon says Osons see the challenge thein grounds Vaincre l’Illettrisme! some of people not havingthat a choice, of the the 4.5m illiterates tell peobeing best solution. ple theyarehave ‘forgotten “We asking for anglasses’ emer­ if theyinterdict have to read a menu. gency which is risky as

Photo: ©Anne Lanta

Historian jailed for D-Day dog tag thefts

300 in Bordeaux

it forces the court to make a decision, but if we do not the courts will put it back in order to get more information, and it will drag on for years.” Bordeaux Green councillor Mr Hurmic says Linky, which Enedis says lets it adjust supply to meet demand, does not give brand)information was stampedtoonconsum­ the useful barrels. merchants had ers suchEnglish as in Euros or kW/hr. priority buy it the wines. “Using to Linky will be impos­ It lasted until the Revolution, sible to get a clear picture of before the modern version was how much this or that appliance revived winegrowers costs to by run. The meter in has all 1948data as a wine brotherhood that but the consumer is which servesto as look ambassadors not allowed at it, only for the wine andimmense aims to proEnedis. It is an waste mote authenticity quality. of what could be aand good oppor­ It also tunity toorganises drasticallyspring reduceand con­ sumption in France.” Having 300 complainants to Tram protest the casedrivers means each will pay €49 to be involved and he said over death verdict most saw it a worthwhile risk. TRAM in Nice walked Enedisdrivers has been asked for a out on strike aftercase. hearing an comment on the ex-colleague driver had been Recent Linky protests have givenaa300-strong six-monthhuman suspended seen chain jailan term forvillage manslaughter. in Isère while in Bor­ He had been accused after an deaux hundreds of bright Linky elderly shoe-boxes man died when thebuilt green were driver braked into a wall thensuddenly. kicked down.

MPs ignore Macron pledge on glyphosate FRENCH MPs have voted against calls for a law to ban glyphosate weedkiller despite President Macron’s pledge last November to ban its use in France within three years. In a move to help farmers the MPs rejected an amendment setting a deadline to end gly­ pho­ sate use if no alternative was found in three years. Glyphosate has been said to be carcinogenic and MEPs in the European Parlia­ ment last autumn voted to renew its licence for only five years rather than the 15 years wanted by the agro-chemical industry. The latest vote came as EU countries agreed to ban three neonicotinoid pesticides from 2019 as research showed Europe lost 80% of its insects in three decades, with neonicotinoids particularly harmful to bees, which are vital pollinators. Beekeepers in Dordogne have revealed that they have lost 3,000 hives and millions of bees this year with huge mortality after fields were sprayed. Intensive farming practices have been increasingly blamed for ill-effects in the human pop­ ulation and glyphosate – a nonselective herbicide that kills most plants – makes up a quar­ ter of herbicides sold globally. But Landes cereal and medic­

inal herb farmer Nic­olas Jaquet, who has 60% of his farm in organic farming, said: “Glypho­ sate is essential in parts of my farm as there is no alternative. “Yes, I can hoe the fields and I do, but glyphosate leaves no residue so is ideal to clear a field of weeds and give the crop a chance to grow or to dry a crop before harvest. “In addition, European farm­ ing is much more precise in its usage... if we ban glyphosate in Europe it will make no differ­ ence as there is a much greater usage in food imports from the US, Canada and South America. “That is a major problem.” Suzanne Dalle, of Greenpeace, said it sent a bad signal that if there was no alternative sub­ stance farmers could continue to use glyphosate in the future. “We are finding traces of glyphosate everywhere in our environment because it is so heavily used in mass farm food production. This must stop.” A group of rural farmers in Réseau CIVAM say changing

farming practices can lead to the end of glyphosate use or a serious cut in the amount. They point to crop rotation as a way to keep down weeds and say farmers should have several options and not just herbicide. Farmer and MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who led proposals for the new agriculture law, said he had spoken to President Macron and he would keep his pledge of a ban in three years. France’s No1 farming union, FNSEA, blocked the ChampsElysées with a protest last year and has said it will reduce glyphosate usage from its pres­ ent 8,000 tonnes a year. It is used mainly to kill weeds in corn, rape, cereals, peas and potato crops and has seen much scientific debate. WHO’s Inter­ national Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said it was “probably carcin­ogen­ic” but the European Food Safety Auth­or­ ity (EFSA) said it was “unlikely”. Both studies have been chal­ lenged as the IARC report edit­ ed out non-carcinogenic find­ ings and the EFSA report had text from studies paid for by a glyphosate maker, Monsanto. The domestic version Round­up has not been banned but some products containing it have been. Home use of glysophate is banned from January 1, 2019.

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Presidential palace ‘set to sell souvenirs’

Rise of ‘vapes’ linked to decline in smoking

THE Elysée Palace has trademarked the Elysee name, and is set to sell souvenirs to raise money for renovations. Profits from the sale of the range – a first for the Elysée, – would go towards €100million of renovation work at the palace, including plumbing, electricity systems, carpets, fire safety measures, and paintwork.

A recently announced drop in the number of smokers is due to the rise in electronic cigarettes, or “vapes”, rather than anti-smoking health measures, a study suggests. The report, which came out days after the health ministry said higher prices and plain packaging were responsible for falling numbers, said: “Vaping appears to be a more important factor than other public health movements against smoking.”

One lucky lottery player has defied mind-boggling odds to claim a €1million My Million lottery jackpot for the second time in 18 months. Mathematicians estimate the odds against winning the prize twice were one in 16 trillion – but an unnamed punter in Haute-Savoie last month did just that, after bagging the jackpot for the first time in November 2016.

MPs will debate law to end ‘wild rodeos’ bikers and quad-bike riders who take part in dangerous street races known as ‘rodéos sauvages’ could face jail sentences and big fines if a bill to be debated in Parliament in July passes into law. Almost 8,700 such disturbances were recorded in towns and cities in 2017, while more than 6,600 took place in rural areas, authorities have said.

Doctors fought over patient during op TWO doctors could be struck off after getting into a physical fight while their patient was asleep on the operating table. The surgeon and anaesthetist face disciplinary procedures following an altercation during an operation in a clinic in Calvados, in which a bottle of antiseptic was thrown.

Louvre art museum tickets scam revealed Tourist tickets to the Louvre art museum in Paris are being used up to seven times, losing the museum up to €1m, a TV investigation has claimed. Agents were filmed by hidden camera buying €15 tickets and giving them to a group of tourists – then reclaiming them from the group as they exited before reusing the same tickets with other groups later.

M-way carpool lanes monitored by camera

PUPILS could be wearing uniforms to a primary school next autumn after a vote of parents backed proposals by 62% in Provins, Seine-et-Marne. Mayor Olivier Lavenka had put forward a design of the town’s coat of arms on polo shirts with black trousers or skirts plus a sky blue v-necked jumper or sweatshirt.

Cameras have been installed on the A86 motorway around Paris to monitor vehicles using the carpool lane as part of a pilot programme that, if successful, will be rolled out across the whole of the Ile-de-France. They will monitor how many people are in carpool lane cars. Car occupancy is estimated at just 1.1 people per car in Ile-de-France and authorities blame the regular traffic jams on the volume of cars.

Copies of Les Fables de la Fontaine, with illustrations by acclaimed comic-book artist Joann Sfar, were handed to all 10 and 11 year-old pupils. It is a move intended to “strengthen the taste for reading” in children as they leave primary school for the summer holidays before going to collège.

All 800,000 pupils in CM2 classes across France have been given a free book from the Min­istry of Education as part of the second ‘A Book for the Holidays’ scheme.

health ministry said CBD was authorised as it had a minimal 0.2% level of the psychoactive component. Shops in Lille, Besançon and Paris started selling cannabid­

In the vote, 376 of the 609 families approved the plan for children to wear the uniform to the six schools involved, although it will not be obligatory. School councils will get the ultimate say but there have already been doubts from parent union FCPE who fear encouraging uniformity among the pupils while others

TENANTS who left rooms full of rubbish when they moved out of a house in a northern France town got a taste of their own medicine when their ex-landlord collected all the rubbish and ‘returned it to sender’ and dumped it outside their new house. Thomas Ravaux said the tenants had skipped out without paying 14 months of back rent and he found rubble, furniture, toys, bags and white goods piled in the house in Rozoy-sur-Serre (Aisne, Hauts-de-France). He hired a tipper lorry and his Facebook video of his ‘revenge’ has been viewed more than three-quarters of a million times. His old tenants had to take the rubbish to the dump.

Photo: © Ludovic Letot

iol which is said to offer similar effects to normal cannabis, but with no mind-altering effect. CBD is supposed to have relaxing effects but no advertising of this is allowed.

MPs vote law to ban mobiles in schools SMARTPHONES are banned in schools by law from the next rentrée after MPs voted to beef up the educational code. The code has banned phone use in schools since 2010 and the vote by the majority LREM was attacked by MPs on both left and right as a waste of time.

Half of France’s 25m plastic bottles wasted damage sales of its brand, which is made at Cour-Cheverny, just a few kilometres from the chateau. Chateau director Jean d’Haussonville attacked the move saying the Americans were ‘stealing’ part of French heritage. He added that the name was already used on products ranging from coffins to asparagus and smoked salmon to water.

fear the €145 cost. The mairie has worked to ease the impact of the cost for larger families and will pay half the bill from the second child and offer spread repayments over three, six or 10 times. Mr Lavenka said he hoped that having the uniform would help halt the spread of designer clothing for some children.

Landlord takes revenge as tenants leave mess

‘Legal cannabis’ Pupils given free book product goes on sale A LEGAL form of cannabis has ‘to boost reading’ gone on sale in France after the

Chambord v Chambord as chateau faces drink ban

THE Loire’s iconic Château de Chambord could be banned from using its own name on wines it is making after the US makers of a cocktail liqueur with the same name launched a law suit in Paris. Brown Forman, the owners of Chambord liqueur and makers of Jack Daniels whiskey, say allowing the chateau to use the name would

July 2018

Parents vote 62% to bring back school uniforms

Photo: Thomas Ravaux

Lottery player scoops second €1m jackpot

The Connexion

connexionfrance.com Photo: Ville de Provins

10 News in brief

MORE than half the 25million plastic bottles France uses each day are not recycled and much of the dumped rubbish is ending up in the Mediterranean. A study showed just 49% of bottles were recycled. WWF campaigners said the Med was heavily polluted with 1.25million plastic fragments per square kilometre. It contains

7% of the world’s microplastics but just 1% of the world’s seas.

Sausage maker Noa eyes world title MORE than 12,000 visitors enjoyed the first world saucisson championships in Vanosc, Ardèche for the Mondial Rabelais. Sausage makers from as far as Brazil and Australia took part with the youngest being Noa Olivennes, 10, from Paris.

Goya and Van Gogh take art to provinces WORKS by Goya and Van Gogh will be among nearly 500 pieces to go on show in provincial museums in a move to bring in more visitors. The move to end cultural dead zones is a €6million plan by the government.

Hiker dies after eating poison plant in salad A HIKER has died after eating deadly wolfsbane (aconite) he gathered walking in the Canigou Massif and later mixed in a

salad thinking it was an edible plant called couscouil. The 74-year-old died shortly after eating at home in Perpignan and his 75-year-old wife was hospitalised with vomiting and nausea. Police said specialist advice was vital before eating plants picked wild.

Google and Carrefour lead on direct sales GOOGLE has joined Carrefour supermarkets with a new direct shopping service using the US firm’s voice assistant on Home speakers and Android phones. Shoppers pick orders up from a Carrefour store. It is the first roll-out of direct shopping outside the US.

Paris cafes in Unesco heritage list move PARIS cafes hope to be added to Unesco’s “intangible cultural heritage” list as “places of cul­tural cross-fertilisation, freedom and the art of living”. Paris mairie backs the move. It follows similar bids for bag­uettes and bouquiniste book stalls.

MORE video patient consultations could be on the way in areas with poor medical coverage after Assurance Maladie and main health unions agreed a deal for full normal refund of costs of appointments. More use of special video-call cabins would allow remote access to GPs and specialists and the cabins may have equipment for some tests to be done.

New mosquito-borne virus reaches France A VIRUS that attacks the nervous system of humans has been confirmed in mosquitoes in southwest France. A case of the Usutu virus was identified in a patient from Montpellier who went to hospital with facial paralysis. It originated in Africa and is carried by the Culex mosquito.

French youth back rise in price of booze NINE out of 10 young people (aged 18-24) in France say they would support a rise in alcohol prices in a bid to improve public health, according to a poll. The survey – which shows

Tributes have been paid to David Daniels, the 72-year-old retired British businessman shot dead outside his home in Charente. James Wannell, 67, who had known Mr Daniels, for several years, told Connexion: “He was AngloAmerican and very well appreciated in the local village, especially for the work he had done in restoring his property, and garnered some genuine affection and respect from local people. “He was a part of the fabric of people who stand out a bit in the country from the international community and wasn’t one of those aloof Parisians or aloof Londoners who are totally disinterested in local life.” Edon mayor Patrice Petit said Mr Daniels, who had lived in the village for more 54% approval for a price increase across all ages – comes as the cancer charity LLNCC reports that heavy drinking is linked to many cancers.

World Cup jerrycan fuel ban overturned CHARENTE prefecture has backed down over its ban on sales of petrol in jerrycans during the 2018 World Cup after widespread criticism. The temporary ban was introduced a few days before the tournament in Russia began and was intended to curb football-related violence. However it upset residents who needed petrol for lawnmowers and motorcyclists in off-road events in which fuel is needed between races.

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Police outside the house after Mr Daniels was shot than 20 years “loved classic cars and raced each year at the Circuit des Remparts in Angoulême”. He added: “He was a man I knew very well, a man much appreciated in the commune where he had lived for a long time.” Two men, tenant farmer

Clean Seine for 2024 Games to cost €1bn

City rivers are not known for swimming, but Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has promised the Seine will be clean enough to bathe in by 2024, in a project set to cost €1billion. The promise comes as the capital gears up to host the Olympic Games in 2024, during which certain triathlon and swimming competitions are set to be held in the city’s river.

‘Don’t call me Manu’: Macron corrects boy Emmanuel Macron chided a student telling him to “call me Mr President” after the teenager addressed the head of state as ‘Manu’ (short for Emmanuel) at

Photo: Isabelle D’Hulst - OT Coeur de Flandre

Hauts-de-France village named France’s No1

RYANAIR has launched a new air link between north-west France and south-east England with twice-weekly flights from Brest to Southend, where it is setting up a new base with three planes. The airline said the new base should not be taken as a ‘vote of confidence’ in the future of aviation in the UK. A 50-minute service links Southend to Liverpool Street in London and will access Crossrail in 2019.

under” with requests after the TV show and expects many more visitors to the town, the former capital of Flandre maritimes and destination of seven Roman roads. It sits on top of a 176m hill that gives a view for miles. Cassel, which succeeds Alsace town Kaysersberg, has a museum of art, a Flanders museum, an old working windmill, and a historic Jesuit college. It also has 23 estaminets or little Flemish bars, one for every 100 inhabitants.

SNCF is to appeal against a court ruling ordering it to pay workers for any scheduled days off that fell on strike days during the current dispute. The tribunal de grande instance de Bobigny ruled that the ongoing protest against planned reforms, which has seen staff walk out for two days out of every five, should be treated as 18 separate strikes, rather than the single strike.

I built my French Sex: the new house for €3,000 tool against materials included mosquitoes P39



Paris is Paris ... it is not France


Hermione’s world tour

by OLIVER ROWLAND FORMER Vote Leave chairman Lord Lawson has told Connexion he has no regrets about Brexit despite living in France – and is applying for his carte de séjour. The former UK chancellor, who has lived in the Gers for several years, said he considers the extra paperwork to be among certain ‘tiresome rather than serious’ impacts which Brexit may have on expats like himself. However he is confident Britons in France will be able to continue their lives without significant disruption and that Brexit will benefit the UK as long as future governments make good use of it. This comes as the Interior Ministry has advised that Britons in France should apply for cartes de séjour now so as to minimise complications later on when it is expected that Britons will be obliged to have some form of card. Full interview Page 4


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an event at a World War II memorial in Mont Valérien (Hauts-de-Seine). The president told the 15-year-old: “You are here, at an official ceremony, and you must behave properly.” Simon Heffer: Comment, Page 14

The French are very generous when it comes to giving to charity, a poll has shown, with over 90% giving not just money but also gifts, food, clothes and volunteering time. Some do not even realise how generous they are. A survey by Odoxa, for the prize fund group Leetchi and news source France Bleu, found that on average, French people give €246 each year in money and other donations per person to charities, associations and foundations.

June 2018 Issue 188

Vote Leave’s Lord Lawson applies for a carte de séjour

Pascal Moreau, 48, and his father, Jean Moreau, 85, were arrested shortly after the fatal shooting. The older man has been charged with “murder committed with premeditation or ambush”, and remanded into custody, where he will undergo psychiatric tests.

SNCF ordered to pay strikers for days off Cassel in Hauts-de-France has been voted Le Village Préféré des Français in the annual TV contest, broadcast by channel France 2. The village of just 2,300 residents – about a dozen kilometres from the Belgian border – beat 13 others to become the first commune from Hauts-de-France to win, as previous winners had been from just three regions: Occitanie, Brittany and Grand Est. The Flanders tourist office was “snowed

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Video doctor service refund for patients

Tributes to Briton shot dead in quiet village

Photo: Emma Hellowell

WITH hedgehog numbers falling across France, an animal welfare group has urged gardeners and drivers to avoid killing them as they eat slugs and insect pests. The SFEPM said cars are the biggest menace, with up to 48,500 a year killed on roads in Alsace alone, but gardeners using pesticides, insecticides and slug pellets can also threaten the animals’ habitats.

News in brief 11


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Plea to gardeners: save our hedgehogs

July 2018

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A CULTURAL GIANT How André Malraux went from bac failure to being buried in the Panthéon

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12 History

The Connexion


Canny, cross-dressing brother of Sun King steps out of shadows

TV series was right – there was more to Philippe, Duke of Orléans, than historians once believed Dr Jonathan Spangler tells Scheenagh Harrington Spangler, senior lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University and editor-in-chief of The Court Historian. He said: “In terms of supporting his older brother morally, and displaying a good sense of military strategy and taste, the depiction is spot on. “Although Louis XIV was unquestionably the senior brother, he and Philippe did often act as a pair – they were raised together, both with the firm knowledge and confidence of their royal status.

For centuries, he was just known as the buffoon: the cross-dresser, the sexually deviant brother of the glorious Sun King

Historian Dr Jonathan Spangler

“Many of the sources of the period, however, do make Philippe out to be a bit more priggish and selfish, and certainly more rigidly pious, at least in his younger days, so I think the character has been made more likeable. In 1658, the teenage Philippe came within touching distance of the throne when Louis almost died with what was later believed to be typhoid. Dr Spangler said: “Philippe had to be ready to rule in case Louis, or his son the Dauphin died. But he was in an impossible situation, because although

he was expected to act princely, if he showed too many signs of independence or ambition, he could be seen as a threat.” It is impossible to know how hard Philippe had to work to step out of his brother’s shadow, but it seems he was wellliked in general. “Most sources for the period are either written by courtiers, diplomats or politicians, and much that was printed for the public’s consumption was official propaganda,” said Dr Spangler. “But we have reports of Philippe travelling in the countryside distributing coins, and being loudly cheered. “He was popular with women at court, though diplomats seemed to view him as a caricature – lots of make-up, ribbons, high-heel shoes.” When it came to the battlefield, he grabbed his chance to succeed on his own terms, and the jealousy depicted in the TV version of Versailles once again appears to be rooted in truth. Dr Spangler said: “Philippe was never again given a command after Cassel in 1677.” Forced to hang up his sword, Philippe turned his focus to revamping his residences, notably the Palais Royal and his country retreat, Château de Saint-Cloud, whose Grand Cascade still stands to this day. Dr Spangler said: “As he got older, Philippe became more popular with the people of Paris because he continued the royal family’s patronage of the theatre at the Palais Royal, while Louis XIV focused on piety and on Versailles, never deigning to visit Paris at all. “By the time Philippe died, the focus was on Louis XIV’s grandsons as the royals of the future, and he was forgotten.” His legacy as a patron of the

Photo: Pierre_Mignard,_Musée_des_Beaux-Arts_de_Bordeaux

THE FINAL series of the lavish period drama Versailles, currently showing on BBC Two after been screened in France on Canal Plus, offers a glimpse at the antics of bed-hopping, power-hungry French monarch Louis XIV – but also shows the life of his younger brother, Philippe Duke of Orléans. Brought to life in the FrancoCanadian series by Welsh actor Alexander Vlahos, Philippe is portrayed as a scheming, sexually voracious and ambitious member of his brother’s court. Born in 1640, Philippe was the second son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, and inherited the title of ‘fils de France’, while his elder brother Louis became dauphin. He was raised at court in a claustrophobic atmosphere, thanks to his mother, who was regent until Louis came of age and, in 1648, was the one who placed the crown on his brother’s head at the coronation. Philippe was soon flexing his own political muscles and grew into a more-than adept leader, distinguishing himself in the 1677 Battle of Cassel against William III, Prince of Orange. Years later, he championed the arts, supporting the likes of Molière and assembling an internationally important art collection. He died on 9 June, 1701, following a stroke. The previous evening he had argued with, and dined alongside, his brother. Upon hearing of Philippe’s death, Louis is reported to have said: “I cannot believe I will never see my brother again”. While Versailles the series does not pretend to be anything more than sumptuous, soapy, entertainment, it does reflect history – and Philippe’s story is worth bringing out from under the Sun King’s glare. Researchers behind the series did their homework when it came to portraying Philippe, according to Dr Jonathan

July 2018

arts may have been degraded by time, said Dr Spangler, but it has been successfully revived. “For centuries, he was just known as the buffoon: the cross-dresser, the sexually deviant brother of the glorious Sun King. Biographers from the earlier part of the 20th century described him as weak, vicious, petty, depraved, sad, an embarrassment. “Only in the later 20th century have they started to look beyond the façade of the homosexual caricature, to see him as an astute businessman.” The family managed to survive arguably the most turbulent period in French history, as Dr Spangler said: “Their Paris residence, the Palais Royal, became an important meeting place for dissenters in the years leading up to the French Revolution, when Louis-Philippe, fifth duc d’Orléans voted in favour of executing the King.

“His son, Louis-Philippe, the sixth duc d’Orléans, continued to lead the liberal branch of the monarchical party after the Restoration of 1815, and was brought to power as ‘King of the French’ in the July Revolution of 1830.” Philippe has become known as the ‘grandfather of Europe’ as, thanks to a series of dazzling marriages made for his daughters, his bloodline entered the royal families of Austria and Spain, before spreading to all the Catholic dynasties of Europe. When the main line of the Bourbons became extinct in 1883, the rightful heirs to the throne in France became the house of Orléans, and while his descendants have spread far and wide, the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, excluded foreign branches of the House of Orléans from ascending the throne, ensuring only descendants from the France-based

line could ever rule. The current claimant is 84-year-old Henri d’Orléans, Count of Paris, Duke of France, who is regarded by French royalists as the rightful heir of Henri de Bourbon, Count of Chambord, and the last patrilineal descendant of King Louis XIII. His heir is Prince Jean of Orléans, Duke of Vendôme. It would be interesting to know if Philippe would have been mortified by the ruffled feathers when in 1984, a then 50-year-old Henri divorced his first wife, Duchess Marie Thérèse of Württemberg, and married Micaëla Anna María Cousiño y Quiñones de León a few months later – without the formal consent of his father. It took years for the family tensions to subside but, in 1991, eight years before his death, the old Count of Paris reinstated Henri to the position of heir apparent and the title of Count of Clermont.

Bringing Philippe to life was so much fun! Did you do any research before taking on the role of Philippe? I did very little! I had what the showrunners outlined and took it from there. I’m not from that school of acting where burying oneself in a history book is going to inform my acting. For me, the script is the bible – doing lots of research into Philippe didn’t add anything.

Vlahos, left, as Philippe, alongside George Blagden, who stars as Louis XIV

Alexander Vlahos as Philippe, Duke of Orleans in Canal Plus series Versailles. Left, a portrait of the royal he plays.

Was there a lot of pressure to be historically accurate? Of course, there’s a lot of pressure to be accurate. But that again doesn’t fall necessarily under the acting remit.

You hope that every department, especially the writing and directing have done their homework. The joy with Philippe is that so very few books are written about him that I almost, especially in season one, got free reign to make bold choices and hope that the audiences bought it. Thankfully they did! How much fun was he to play, given his exploits, in and out of court? So much fun! But, also incredibly draining. Philippe has matured a considerable amount over the 30 hours of drama. It’s been one of the

best parts and best jobs I’ve ever had. To what extent did the costumes and sets help your performance? It certainly helps. It gives you the platform to go off and concentrate on the words. It sets the emotion. Did playing Philippe leave a lasting impression, and given the chance, would you consider a return to Versailles? Versailles, Philippe and France are now buried a long long place away, in the best possible sense. I’ve loved him but now it’s time to move on...

July 2018

Heavy horses’ hooves stop rot disease and save vineyard


French Life 13

Photos: Brian McCulloch

The Connexion

Slowly but surely, horses are being brought in to work France’s vineyards. In the Bordeaux region, organic Château le Puy has been using its own horses since 2000. It opened its doors to Brian McCulloch, who discovered the advantages of horsepower over machines after by the chateau, the others were WHEN Château le Puy started using bought by the estate. horses it was driven by necessity and The vineyard now has 55 of its total they have helped save the vineyard, 100 hectares dedicated to wine prowhich has been producing wine withduction and the horses work 12 of out a break since 1610. The horse’s careful footwork gives Anne Sophie Lebrun precise control over the plough as she avoids the vines those hectares, the areas which are In the 1980s, vines began to suffer will work for 10 years, the harness and meaning the plot used for its most “Not every horse is used for every most susceptible to soil compaction. from black rot, a fungal disease that is tack €1,800, and tools €2,300. Annual expensive wine is sprayed by hand. task, for the ridging you need old Rather than living in stables, they one of the deadly maladies de bois. food bills, if they are left on pasture Other plots have two horse-cultivated experienced horses because if you are live all year in a pasture on one of the For years the accepted treatment was are €250 with another €300 for the vet rows, followed by one left grassy not very careful you cut through the plots where vines were uprooted as spraying with an arsenic-based fungiand another €120 for extras. where a tractor is used. the property moved to a permaculture vine, while for the cultivating a young cide but this is now banned and was It all looks fairly reasonable comMost of the sprays are plant-based, strong horse, full of vigour is ideal,” model. Unlike many of the riding not acceptable to Château le Puyand pared to a €70,000 tractor, burning with horsetail, willow bark, camomile horses seen in fields in winter, they do said Mr Langlais. its organic permaculture practices. four litres of diesel an hour and with a and nettles featuring, and are boiled Usually they work for three hours in not have covers in winter either, being Black rot thrives in wet and humid 15 year working life, but the big difup and prepared in place. the morning, then are unhitched but robust enough not to need them. conditions and when agronomist ference is that the tractor works much Mr Rambaurg said: “The horse is with the collar harnesses left on at And they spend most of their time, Claude Bourguignon was called in to faster and is more versatile. trained to pull the weight, not to look when they are not grazing, in a wood- lunch, and then another three hours advise he said tractors were to blame. Mr Langlais summed up: “As far as after vines – it is the humans who do in the afternoon. The vineyard in the we are concerned, the use of horses that. There is a bit of physical effort After work they are small Côtes de Francs has been a great success. for the human, too; you have to be in brushed, fed and appellation sits at 140m “Our big problem is finding people good shape.” looked after for an in the highest spot in to work with them in the vines, not This physical outdoors lifestyle is hour by their meneur Gironde department, very different for a man who switched the horses themselves. There has to be or meneuse. and has just 60cm of a communication between man a from being an ébéniste cabinet-maker. Being herd anilight red-brown clay soil Mr Rambaurg took courses at agricul- horse or it just does not work. mals, horses have sitting on limestone “If you come back in five years, I am tural college and there are dozen or so their own social bedrock. sure you will see more than four horswith horse care on their curriculum, dynamics, which Mr Bourguignon, one and some specialise in draught horses. es here at Château le Puy.” caused heartbreak of the first scientists to The question of how much more it when a horse, bred at warn that modern agricosts to use horses rather than a tracthe chateau, was cultural methods were The real reason roses taken away for a year tor, remains hazy. Mr Langlais says devastating microthe estate estimates they are 30% more are planted beside vines to be taught how to bacteria in soils, traced expensive than a tractor, but Mr pull. When she the problem to excesMANY vineyards have roses planted Rambaurg said a detailed breakdown returned she was sive standing water in at the end of vine rows and it is often for the 2016 vintage showed they cost rejected and killed the vines, caused mainly said this was to keep horses straight, 35 centimes per bottle, not much by the others. by the compaction of because the horses would want to more than a tractor. Old tools, are used the clay due to tractors avoid the thorns. Mr Rambaurg Just the thud of hooves and the rattle of equipment in the vines “In any case,” Mr Langlais added or, occasionally, new driving in the same ruts laughed at the idea: “If these horses “here, we had no choice because of tools made as copies of the old, ed glade with an ancient stone circle between the vines. see a rose bush they eat it!” the soil and the black rot.” although meneur Eric Rambaurg is and two dolmens, dating from 3000 “The problem was not so much the But the roses do serve a function. Costs vary from season to season working on inventing a horse-drawn weight of the tractors – a horse weighs years BC. They get black spot and other fungal and place to place but, broadly speakMr Langlais said: “Having the horses version of a tractor tool, a fouilleuse, pretty much the same as a tractor, but diseases quicker than vines and so ing, a trained horse costs €5,000 and used to work the deep soil while leavis a celebration of life which we practhat tractors always had to drive over show when a spray is needed. ing the surface untouched. tise through our methods and seeing the same place,” said Harold Langlais, They are hitched to new harnesses, them here, where humans have been the chateaux commercial director. with metal frames, to transmit the living for 5,000 years, at least, is spe“With a horse, it never puts its hoof horse’s power and allow it to pull the cial. They could choose any spot in in exactly the same place. We were a 50kg load of the tool. bit sceptical but we started using hors- the pasture or the wood, but they preSeeing the horses at work – when fer to be here.” es, initially hiring in teams, and the Connexion visited they were using a The horses walk down to a small, black rot problem disappeared. From Canadian cultivator to work the soil 2000 we started using our own teams.” spring-fed reservoir to drink. and get rid of grass – you sense their While working their six-hour days, Now the vineyard has four horses, great power. they are fed supplementary rations of two Percheron breed, one Auxois and One is struck too by the lack of grain concentrates to replace the caloone Breton. It also has two meneurs, noise. The thud of hooves, scraping ries and lack of grazing. When it Eric Rambaurg and Pierre Lheureux, rains, the horses stay in the pasture, as and rattling of the implements and and one meneuse, Anne Sophie gentle commands are a far cry from Lebrun, who look after the horses and it quickly becomes too slippery for the roar of a diesel tractor. them to work. drive them as they pull the tools Many of the old tools are being used They are used on specific tasks: the through the vines. by horses for the first time as oxen ridging of the soil around the vines in Eric and Anne Sophie have been were the traditional draft animals in with the chateau for many years, while autumn, carassonage, and de-ridging most French vineyards. in spring, and the cultivation of the Pierre has just started work there. However, the chateau has not found soil between the rows and vines in the Two of the horses are owned by Mr a way to use the horses for spraying, spring and summer. Rambaurg but live at and are looked Château le Puy horses like to spend time in the wood at the stone circle

14 Comment Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning

French-Algerian journalist who specialises in French politics and the Arab world. Her articles feature in the French national press as well as internationally. She is a regular columnist in The Connexion.

Time to increase French election spending to stop corruption charade EVEN the most pernickety scrutiniser of French politics would be hard pressed to get excited about the latest corruption scandal swirling around Emmanuel Macron. In early June, an evidence bundle was handed to Paris prosecutors alleging that the President’s election accounts were less than regular. It was claimed that En Marche! (On the Move!) – the liberal, centrist movement that propelled Mr Macron to power – broke electoral campaigning spending rules. More specifically, 75% reductions were obtained on the hire of venues, and there were similar discounts from service providers who helped EM! get their candidate into the Elysée Palace in May last year. Two theatres used for rallies were owned by a friend of Mr Macron too, suggesting favouritism, so compounding the “offence” of trying to save money. The statutory deduction limit is 20 per cent, so there is a prima facie case to be heard. An endless legal process is inevitable thanks to the complaint by the Republican Front For Intervention Against Corruption (or FRICC, a play on fric, French slang for money). If this action against Macron goes the distance, then it will be 2022 at the earliest that he can be summoned to court, because that is when he could lose his presidential immunity from prosecution. More likely it will be 2027, when – as is currently a good bet – Macron becomes the first head of state since Jacques Chirac to complete two terms. In this respect, Macron’s placement in judicial limbo means he is going through an experience familiar to pretty much every single politician who runs for high office in France. It is a damning indictment of modern France that an obsession with trivial irregularities means that serious malpractice often goes unchecked or – at best – is left to fester within the scandalously slow legal system. When measly punishments are eventually handed down by judges, everybody has lost interest. Stringent spending levels, along with other strict election laws, are from another age, ensuring that almost everyone becomes a suspected criminal before long, whatever their motivations. Financial limits need to be raised as soon as possible. As it stands, no individual is allowed to donate more than €4,600 to a campaign, for example, and only sums up to €150 can be

The Connexion


in cash. This is based on the justified expectation that multi-millionaires will back their candidates with huge amounts and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they still do – often with large payments of unregulated liquide in brown envelopes. Such claims are being made in the case against one-term conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is fighting charges that he accepted around €50m in cash from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. This is almost three times the €16.8m threshold allowed in the first round of voting in a presidential election, and well over twice the €22.5m permitted in the second round. The Paris home Sarkozy shares with his third wife, the former supermodel and pop singer Carla Bruni, was raided by the fraud squad within days of him It is a damning losing his own indictment of immunity from modern France prosecution a full six years that obsession ago. Yet, astonishingly, he still with trivial remains free to irregularities do what he means serious likes, including malpractice standing for president. often goes This is exactly unchecked or what Sarkozy’s former prime – at best – is minister, left to fester François Fillon, within the did while charged with scandalously corruption, slow legal along with his British-born system wife Penelope. The couple are accused of setting up fake jobs so as to siphon off money from the public purse. Like Sarkozy, they deny all the allegations aimed at them. Chirac, another Gaullist and onetime mentor to both Sarkozy and Fillon, was 79-years-old before a Paris court finally convicted him of corruption in 2011. By this time, he was long retired. Macron was largely elected as an antidote to the excesses of France’s rotten political establishment, so any kind of enquiry will dent his so-far spotless reputation. He too refutes doing anything wrong and – like so many others in the country – is as keen for the spending rules to be clarified, and indeed reformed. For the sake of democracy in France, such a move cannot come soon enough.

July 2018

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


f you want to be president of France it’s wise to grasp not just the historical facts of 1789, but what the French Revolution actually meant. It was supposed to signal the end of the oppression of the French masses – the peasantry – by the aristocracy. The revolutionaries underlined their point by decapitating the king – the epitome of the old social structure – and his wife, who famously (and allegedly) said, when told people were starving for want of bread, “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – let them eat cake. This is the month when the French celebrate the anniversary of the start of that bloodbath, 229 years ago. There have been unsuccessful flirtations with monarchy since – starting with Napoleon – and one need only look at the Carnet du Jour in Le Figaro to see what a significant role various ducs, marquis, comtes, vicomtes and barons still play in French society. But disturb the notions of fraternité and égalité, and all hell breaks loose – as President Macron discovered when rebuking a 15-year old lout who had the temerity to address him as “Manu” [short for Emmanuel] and not “Monsieur le Président”. It hobbled Sarko, Manu’s predecessor but one, when he told an unfortunate who had heckled him “casse-toi, pauvre con!” – a polite translation of which, given this is a family newspaper, might be “please leave the room, you person of restricted means and intellect”. But Manu either missed that, or won’t be told, or thinks he is above learning such a lesson from the King of Bling.


ost heads of state would have taken with the rations an uncouth youth addressing them coarsely: but Manu clearly felt this act of insolence and effrontery challenged his status and authority (which, as all parents know, is what 15-year-old boys do), and had to fight back. Arguments common to all political and social cultures are raised here. One should respect the office even if one does not respect the man, for example; young people today are abominably brought up and lack respect; but respect must be earned and does not come as a right. For Manu-watchers, however, this was just another indication of how ridiculously grand he has become since taking office: the ancien régime style press conferences at Versailles, for example, or the announcement just after his humiliation of the lout that he wants a new swimming pool at the Fort de Brégançon, his summer residence, which his predecessors since de Gaulle have detested. At least it will provide work for a few of France’s three million unemployed, otherwise unimpressed by this splashing out of scarce state funds. Similarly he has given some work to the Limoges ceramics industry, ordering an alleged €500,000 worth of Sèvres porcelain (900 dinner plates and 300 side plates, as one does). If Manu is determined to act the aristo, then he might recall another French phrase: Noblesse oblige. Had he just ignored the silly boy, or simply nodded in response to his greeting, no damage would have been done. Instead, Manu

Keep your head, Manu; you are the president, not the king has made himself an international laughing stock, and the boy, we are told, went into hiding because of the mockery from his school-friends. Manu did not just tell him to learn some manners; he also told him to get a degree and feed himself before starting a revolution (the youth had caused further offence by singing a line from the Internationale, the anthem of the Socialist party to which Manu belonged before he ratted on it). He then tried to justify his entirely de trop reaction to this boy’s ignorance by pointing to the context of the occasion: it was June 18, the 78th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s appel from London to the French people to keep resisting the Nazi invader: and the incident took place at Mont Valérien fort, scene of numerous executions of résistants. The boy should have known better than to act up at a ceremony marking such a solemn thing, any more than an English youth should act disrespectfully at the Cenotaph; but Manu showed his lack of experience, and his underlying insecurity, in drawing attention to something that everyone would

One should respect the office even if one does not respect the man. This was just another indication of how ridiculously grand he has become since taking office

otherwise instantly have forgotten, and creating a public relations disaster. What would the man of June 18, General de Gaulle, have done? An icy stare at most, one suspects – but then de Gaulle, apparently unlike Manu, did not lack self-confidence. He had a well-based idea of his own dignity, and would have regarded the joshing of the racaille as beneath his notice or his contempt. But then de Gaulle had a genuine, and not ersatz, idea of the monarchical. He had also served his country for decades as a soldier, fought in the Great War, started a resistance movement from nothing, re-invented France, effectively founded two republics and restored the country’s self-esteem after the most traumatic and turbulent passage in its modern history. Compared with him, Manu is hardly off the starting grid


ollowing the vulgarity of Sarko and the incompetence of Flanby, Manu undermines the French presidency in a different way: by making it a vehicle for his own ego and thirst for status. He should be careful. France already has three pretenders to its vacant throne – the Orléanistes, the Bourbons and the Bonapartistes – and so if the people decide, because of the magniloquent behaviour of their president, they would rather revert to a constitutional monarchy – an idea with which de Gaulle flirted – there are options. Meanwhile, Manu calls opponents of his labour reforms “slackers” and complains about the social security bill. He is right on both counts, but probably shouldn’t say so: the most recent poll shows that more think he’s doing a bad job (41%) than a good one (40%). He gives the impression of being a small step from telling them to eat cake, and we know where that ends.

The Connexion

July 2018

Comment 15


Eco activist Yannick Jadot savaged the government for failing to ban glyphosate and buckling under to the agro-chemical lobby but such direct challenges are normal for a man who led Greenpeace campaigns against nuclear arms. The Europe Ecologie MEP tells Samantha David of the need for a green society that makes everyday life better As an economy student in Paris, Yannick Jadot was an active member of numerous environmental groups then, after university, worked for various foreign NGOs spending several years in Burkina Faso and Bangladesh. From 2002-2008 he was a gung-ho campaign director at Greenpeace, and hit the headlines when he sailed an inflatable zodiac into the Ile Longue nuclear submarine base, near Brest, to protest against the French nuclear arms programme, which Greenpeace said was illegal under the Non-Proliferation Treaty which France had signed. “Oh yes, that was mad,” he says with a laugh. “And they took me to court you know, for spying, threatening the interests of the State... as if that was possible, just a few of us wobbling about on an inflatable, with dozens of journalists along!” He also made headlines when energy giant EDF hacked his computer at Greenpeace to spy on its campaigns (the case went to court in 2011 and some EDF staff were found guilty). It would be tempting to ask about all his adventures but they could fill a book, so I got to the point... What, in his opinion, is the biggest single ecological problem threatening the planet at the moment: climate change? pollution? intensive farming? pesticides? single-use plastics?

Photo: Eric Coquelin CC BY-SA 4.0

Ecologists don’t stop where profit begins, we keep going

People need to be engaged with good news, rather than turned off with bad news all the time Yannick Jadot

“Of course they are all linked, but the culmination of them all is climate change, which is the most urgent. “Tackling air pollution, changing our agricultural systems, banning the use of pesticides... for the good of the environment as well as because of their harmful effect on human health, protecting our biodiversity and the earth’s atmosphere... all of these are important, but climate change is the leading thing and all these other issues have to be resolved in order to deal with it.” As an MEP, a lot of his energy goes into informing people, raising public awareness and pushing politicians into action. “There are things already in place, like the Paris Climate

Agreement, discussions on energy production, public transport, intensive farming. So we have to raise awareness of what’s in place and ensure it is respected.” The European Parliament voted to cut plastic bag use and the Com­mis­ sion is cracking down on single-use plastics with plans for a ban by 2021 on 10 single-use items such as straws, cotton bud sticks and cutlery that make up 70% of marine litter. It also demands states recover 90% of plastic bottles while making producers fund waste management and clean-ups. “The use of plastic is linked to the use of fossil fuels and the pollution of our bodies. It damages environments including the oceans and the country-

side, and in very deprived countries with no structures for rubbish collection it’s catastrophic. “I’ve seen it first hand. Rubbish is just burned, or more usually, dumped. “There are plastic bags everywhere, in the sand, in the trees, and in the earth. You try to plant something and the ground is full of plastic. Beaches, too, are covered in plastic.” All this needs urgent attention, and all mainstream political parties have environmental policies as it touches on almost every conceivable issue; unemployment, immigration, durable fisheries and agriculture, the fight against genetically modified products, energy production, housing stock renovation, societal questions. “The trouble is that their action tends to stop where financial interests start but ecologists, from street activists to MEPs, we don’t stop where profit begins, we go all the way. “That’s our role. To push everyone, to raise awareness and to force governing political parties to make good on their election promises.” He goes further and wants to see European societies completely restructured. “Take energy transition; we want to transition to using renewable energy sources, produced locally by small local companies rather than by energy giants like EDF. “The Green Party has a conception of a green society that is very different from the one we have now.” Which is why he sees Greens as natural partners with left-wingers and socialists. “I’m an ecologist before I’m a socialist, but it’s true they are very close, but even left-wing politicians do anti-environmental things. “Ecologists are outside the old questions of left and right-wing politics. Nuclear power, intensive agriculture, ecologically damaging waste disposal; all of that was set up by both left and right politicians.” He concedes the left tends to be more pro-Europe and pro-environment than the right but in France the left is in disarray; fractured, divided and lacking clear leadership.

“Since Hollande betrayed his promises, failed to stand up to globalisation and didn’t help working people, he lost the public’s trust. So now we have to reconstruct the left with the objective of governing, but we can’t just offer the same again. Voters need new hope for the future.” He says the three preoccupations in Brussels right now are: n Is the EU aiming to be a mini globalised free-market, even if it results in destroying the environment? “I am pro-European but do not want the EU to remove regulatory and regulation-based governance in favour of completely liberal free marketeering.” n How can we make the EU immediately useful to Europeans? “We have to deal with healthcare, ecological transition, public transport, and energy. We have to create jobs right across the territory, and re-give a sense of Europe.” n Immigration. “We need a common vision, we need solidarity across the EU bloc. The lack of it was a factor in Brexit, we see the effects at the polls in Italy, in Hungary. “Across the EU, people are against ‘the other’. This absence of solidarity is a crisis for us all. It’s not simple but we need a communal answer.” It might sound like an impossible dream but Mr Jadot is upbeat. “A good society already exists, there are already exciting research projects, there are institutions, regions, cooperatives and projects which are moving in the right direction, inventing new ways of supporting solidarity and respecting the ecology, respecting the dignity of everyone. “That exists already, and our role as politicians is to reduce the barriers against it, and give space to that good society. We know we have to change the development model but the new one is already there, we just have to put it at the heart of policy. “We have to spotlight what is working well rather than just pointing out the disasters. People need to be engaged with good news rather than turned off with bad news all the time.”

Drivers see 90kph to 80 speed cut as a limit to their freedom Speed limits on some main roads will be cut from 90kph to 80 from July 1 but sociologist HERVE MARCHAL fears drivers will take it as an attack on their personal freedom and not as a worthwhile move to save 400 road deaths a year DIJON Université de Bougogne professor Hervé Marchal, author of Un sociologue au volant [A Sociologist behind the wheel], looks at plans to change 20,000 90kph speed signs round France. You have said that people see sudden changes in motoring rules such as this 10kph speed reduction as an intrusion. Can you explain? The car is part of our everyday living space, a place where we develop ways of being, routines. The body settles down and relaxes. We experience it as an intimate, subjective sphere. The interior of the car is a place where we want to decide what we do – a place where we

The plans would also toughen penalties for people who used their mobiles while committing another offence. Do you think the French are usually sensible about phone use, or is it the same and people see themselves as in a private space where

Attempts are made to encourage less car use in favour of public transport. Will people struggle to give up the freedom of the car? Well you can be ‘free’ on a bike, as well. But it’s going to be difficult because towns continue to spread out towards rural areas so

Photo: Signature Urrugne

offences. Can these be seen in the same light? Yes, because we always have the feeling these things are trying to limit our freedom. In the car it’s a precious moment when we take time out to think about ourselves and our lives.

they can do what they like? There comes a point where we do have to re­mem­ber that, even if we are in a personal space, we are in the middle of collective mobility and we have to remind people, that for each of us our freedom has its limits. It ends at the freedom of the other to move around as well. If we are on the phone and not paying attention we can hold up traffic around us, or things can end up badly sometimes. It is up to the legislator to act in that case, but there’s always this tension between defending personal freedom and the collective logic.

feel in control – it’s ‘my space’. The government will take stock of the reduction after two years. If it is poorly accepted, will they go back? I don’t know if they will or not, but the individual sees things from his or her own individual point of view and has difficulty in seeing the collective logic of it and decisions are taken at the collective level. The political communication could be improved. There were also measures including anti-ignition breathalysers or devices to monitor speeding in cars of drivers who have committed certain

the car is by far the most practical means of transport. People don’t have the choice, because to go to work, to the creche or school, to the supermarket, see friends… in areas outside town centres, you drive because you can’t do otherwise. We see a dualism, a split between dense town centres where it’s easy to take the tram, a bike or walk, and other areas. More could be done to improve transport links to outlying areas and make the way our territory is organised more coherent.

important; all the more a space where I decide what I do there.

What impact do you see from technologies such as self-driving cars? The more technology we have in the car the more eco-friendly they are becoming. Also the more the car becomes intelligent I think we will take even more pleasure from being in it because we’ll be able to do what we like – work or think about other things. It’ll become all the more

Would you like to add anything? In debates often those who use their cars are judged negatively, but first we should consider why people are often obliged to use the car, and how we live in our car; how we inhabit it. Once we’ve understood it we could consider how we can also make public transport more liveable.

The safety measures included ones on pedestrians’ safety. Do you think people in their cars are sufficiently aware of them? Drivers do not always respect crossings… It’s widespread that people often think they have the right of way over pedestrians and cyclists and they don’t pay enough attention to the rules. I think it’s more noticeable in the south of France but it’s everywhere.

16 Letters

They said it … If I am only with my daughters, I feel useful for them but useless for society Marlène Schiappa

France’s Secretary of State for Equality comments on being a working mother

A place will always be set for you at the family table The family of Maëlys de Araujo

A heartbreaking message at the funeral of the eight-year-old girl, whose remains were found in a remote ravine five months after she disappeared during a family celebration

We always had the feeling of being on the right side of history. Five years later, it is true (...) and I am very happy Vincent Boileau-Autin

Vincent speaks of life after he and Bruno Boileau-Autin became the first same-sex couple to marry in France in 2013

It’s better to have a crooked tie and straight-thinking than the other way round François Hollande

The former President fights back at those who criticised his appearance when he was in office

This is the first time that a Tyrannosaurus has laid its feet on French soil Paleontologist Bruno David

The dinosaur expert at the unveiling of a 67million-year-old fossilised T-Rex, which has gone on display at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris

To quote Eva Colas [Miss Corsica 2017], you can parade in a bathing suit and be a feminist” Sylvie Tellier

Lawyer and former Miss France, who is now director of Miss France and Miss Europe Organisation, responds to suggestions the pageant should follow the lead of Miss America and end the swimsuit parade

We have not received a request from SOS Méditerranée, for a simple reason, that to go to France takes several days at sea Nathalie Loiseau

France’s Minister for European Affairs explains why the country did not respond when a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean with 600 migrants on board was refused entry to both Italy and Malta

Our system treats well, but prevents badly Emmanuel Macron

The President unveils plans to reform social security and improve healthcare


The Connexion

The moneymen and Brexit I support the Leave vote as I believe it was a mistake joining the EEC in the first place and it would be an even greater mistake to remain in what has evolved into the EU. In the short term my wife, who is French, and I have suffered financially because our pensions are paid in the UK. But the current poor exchange rate is not the fault of the leave vote. It is the decision of faceless money men and I cannot help thinking this is to manipulate the outcome of the exit discussions in their favour. Be in no doubt the benefits of working from London and enjoying the open borders of the EU is the priority for these people and the UK comes second. We chose to leave the UK and are lucky to be able to vote for up to 15 years after we left. John S Cole, by email How does the authority for Brexit differ from that of

Stamp duty Does anyone have experience in getting rid of collections of GB stamps? French philatelists are not interested them, or related coins. I have about a metre cube of such items going back to 1840. Thinking they might well end up like Guy Fawkes after my final ‘removal’ makes me sad. Stephen Burrough, Charente

Letter mystery

I READ Jonathan Hesford’s article on wine labels – then looked at one on my Côtes-du-Rhône AoP wine box and have to ask – what does BC mean? Vivienne Kincaid, by email Jonathan Hesford replies: I have not seen this before but, after research, I believe it is the brand name of the capsule manufacturer.

Volkswagen which was responsible for selling cars that cheated emissions tests? One recalls President Donald Trump saying, “The Germans are very dishonest people,” or words to this effect. Has it not been much more dishonest for the United Kingdom to have mis-sold our country? It is really quite shocking. The British public have been duped. A gigantic fraud has been foisted upon them. This, surely, is the ‘Mother of all Mis-selling’? Allan MIDDLETON, Vienne I am a UK pensioner resident in France, with sisters in the UK. I also suffer from a chronic blood cancer so it is difficult to get travel insurance. My previous EHIC stated I can use it for healthcare in the UK. But the one I obtained recently says I cannot. As a pensioner, my EHIC is issued by the UK. Renewing it

this time was difficult. You cannot do it online as you are not allowed to enter an overseas address. I telephoned, was passed from one department to another and then back again, and eventually got to renew the card, but no mention was made of the change in rules. I was told I have a right to free healthcare in the UK as I am a UK pensioner and British citizen, but I have failed to get an answer on what documents I need to prove my entitlement. This only applies to pensioners. Previously, living in Spain in early 2000, my EHIC was issued by Spain. I have a French carte vitale but cannot get a French EHIC. I do not know if this will change when I obtain French citizenship. It seems to me that the UK is in a permanent state of chaos over Brexit. A pity for people like me who have to live with this mismanagement. Cecilia Johnston, by email

Country has right to honour its war dead I was shocked to read the article Wartime Tragedy Still Resonates (May edition). While Dr Blakemore did a good job of explaining the different experiences of France and the UK in the last war, I was embarrassed at his conclusion that perhaps it was time for the French ‘to take a new approach’ to their festivals of remembrance. Why should they? Perhaps a country that suffered in this way twice in 20 years needs these festivals of remembrance in order to come to terms with suffering the horror of occupation. Dr Blakemore can have no idea of the horrors of not knowing who you can trust around you, why a member of your family has disappeared

under the Nazi Night and Fog arrests, or seeing a loved one, or rather a shadow of a loved one, eventually return from a concentration camp. Marian Sweet, Hertfordshire Dr Blakemore replies I am mystified that I should have given this impression, as I argued the French had suffered in a very different and personal way and “can therefore be excused for making more of the end of the war than Britain”. The concluding question was posed because of the misgivings of French politicians, not my own. My wife and I attend all our local commemoration events and join in the traditional refrain “mort pour la France”.

July 2018

French shrug off bad service In 2015 I took out a no-contract direct debit with SFR to pay €15 per month for 5gb of WiFi for my mobile. Two years later, I gave two months’ notice of my intention to cancel. SFR continued to try to take payment after October, even though there was no contract and I was not using the SIM card. They threatened to send in debt collectors in December, when we were on holiday in the UK. In the circumstances I sent a cheque for payment. It took us contacting a mediator for SFR to cancel the account. But even that was disappointing as they did not contact us after we sent the details of our final contact with SFR. I spoke to two French friends about it and they both had the same attitude. Their advice was to pay up and forget it as they will do nothing. The French accept bad customer service, so what chance do we have? Judith Torrington, Troyes

I am shocked at mark-up on glasses

I read the item in June’ concerning the mark-up by opticians for quality glasses in France. We have friends who are French residents who paid €1,400 and €1,800 respectively for non designer glasses! My daughter, who until recently held a management position at a UK optician chain, gives me to understand that the manufacturing costs of both frames and lenses is no more than £25 for both. The maximum cost for both designer frames and lenses would be no more than £400 and often they have two pairs for the price of one on promotion. It would seem French opticians are seeking to maintain a licence to print money. Roy Roberts, by email

EU must find way to €700 scam warning solve refugee crisis for all gîte owners

In your interview with Klaus Vogel (We saved 26,000 people... Europe must do more, June 2018 ) you asked “why have we seen rising numbers of migrants in recent years”? One of the reasons is because of people like Klaus Vogel. The results of an act of kindness are not always as one might imagine, and those attempting to secure safe passage for those in peril at sea are encouraging overcrowded boats. The sad truth is that millions of people want “a better life” and you cannot blame people for trying, but the West cannot provide homes for everybody. Many people have had enough of the perceived injustices of the needs of indigenous

Europeans playing second fiddle to those of migrants from very foreign lands. The inability of the British Government to tackle immigration is one of the main reasons that country is leaving the EU. Brussels and Strasbourg have refused to listen, and now they are paying the price. I respect Mr Vogel, but maybe his energies could be better placed. I fully understand the motivation to assist these people but more needs to be done to stop them getting onto the sea in the first place and in the long-term to effect change in their homelands so the desire to leave is reduced. Name and address withheld on request

WE OWN a gîte in France and recently received a letter at our address in the UK that appeared to come from a French agency dealing with the registration of gîtes/holiday accommodation for disabled persons. It stated that under new legislation it was necessary to register holiday homes in order to receive a ‘licence’ to operate. The fee was €700 and the licence was valid for 10 years. The letter was well designed, very formal and gave details of extensive fines if you failed to register within a given time limit following receipt of the letter. It was not untypical of the sort of letter sent out by tax authorities. We made further enquiries

with our local mayor and he was already aware of this letter – and explained it was a scam. I can understand how English people could be tricked as dealing with French authorities is often far from easy. This letter came in as hardcopy to our UK address – and the British are often worried about doing anything that could bring the full force of the French tax and other authorities on their heads. It is also possible to find news of recent new legislation appertaining to disability matters and holiday accommodation on French websites dealing with these matters. John Hindhaugh, Indre

The Connexion

July 2018

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Limits do not cut pollution CRIT’AIR stickers, and the reduction of the speed limit on rural roads to 80kph, are actually increasing pollution. When they operate at below 35% full power diesels are notoriously inefficient. Governments worldwide are increasingly reducing speed limits in the mistaken belief this reduces pollution, when, in fact, it means vehicles are now made to operate in their least efficient envelope –and so are actually increasing pollution. Diesels become the bad boys, and the countryside will be subject to more pollution. Pollution control has not been properly researched or thought through. Put simply – you have been conned. Ron Farnfield, France

Stonewall is Gay Pride The article on pride marches (June 2018) is an eloquent affirmation of why, 49 years after Stonewall, it is imperative the LGBT community honours that heritage. I should point out, however, the Stonewall Rebellion did not happen in San Francisco, but in Greenwich Village in New York City on June 28, 1969. Since Stonewall we have marched to celebrate the fact that, on that day, we shouted NO to discrimination and YES to gay pride to signal an end to discrimination. That is why there is a Gay Pride Day: to celebrate what we did then and what we have achieved – even in the face of continued discrimination – and to affirm that for us every day should be a Gay Pride Day. Dr Byrne Fone, Dordogne

Letters 17


Specialists in cross-border estate planning.

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

Lord Lawson fails Hypocrisy unbound... to calm my fears

Lord Lawson’s contention that Britons living in Europe have nothing to worry about when the UK leaves the EU shows the same complacency and arrogance we heard so often from the Brexiteers during the referendum campaign. Is there any doubt that Europeans will, in future, welcome us with open arms? Why shouldn’t they – except for the fact that we voted to exclude most of them from living and working in Britain. Lord Lawson seems unaware of how much easier membership of the EU has made it for people to live, work, own property and start businesses in EU Member States. Let us hope generations of young people will not now be excluded from those benefits. Perhaps even more startling is an admission that the UK’s future outside the EU depends solely on a future government’s ability to exploit the possible benefits. Could anyone who has witnessed the shambles of the Brexit negotiations have confidence in that? The UK sacrificed its political status in Europe, along with free trading rights with 90 countries on the off chance “something better will turn up”. It seems like the politics of Mr Micawber to me. CBI head Paul Drechsler, stated there is zero evidence of the wonderful trading opportunities for Britain to explore outside of the EU. We should cross our fingers and hope he is wrong. Philip Clews, St Eloy-les-Tuileries

Letter of the month

philip clews 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 news@connexionfrance.com

UK needs its EU allies

With the 52-48 Brexit result, few people in government or business had any idea of what it would mean. Those resident outside UK had and have a far better perspective but were not allowed to vote. The campaign was based on exaggeration and lies. One widely understood plus is the need to reform the EU’s bureaucracy, regulations, immigrants etc. Better for UK to help fix this inside rather than outside the “club”? The Brexit ramifications remain too vast to discuss in detail. Nothing of what we have learnt over the past two years was ever explained prior to the vote, which merely covered immigration and healthcare benefits. Zero about citizen’s rights. The UK is a magnet for immigration. It created a build-up of resentment and the notion the UK was being run by Brussels. Brexit says, “we are fed up and we want our country back”. That is naïve. The UK is a small island and does not have the skills, education and manufacturing base. Up to now this is compensated by EU membership. The UK’s flaws are not as a result of the EU, totally the opposite. The UK is not strong enough to face up to US and China etc. It needs to hold onto its allies and friends. Hugh Mitford Raymond, Alpes-Maritimes

You said it …

I have had to strictly ration my ‘you couldn’t write it moments’ over the disaster that is Brexit and the handling of same by May’s government. However, my award certainly goes to Lord Lawson’s “I’m not worried about my carte de séjour application”. The hypocrisy, ignorance and arrogance is breathtaking.

Of course Lord Lawson is not worried about Brexit. He has his wealth to protect him. As to his response to ‘Was it all worth it?’, little detail of the benefits and hedging his bets! And no, Lord Lawson you and your ilk will not suffer, as ever it is ordinary people who will. Julia Higginbotham Lot-et-Garonne

Of course, all will be well post-Brexit for Nigel Lawson with his wealth and privilege. He was part of the Tory establishment whose “greed is good” financial policies contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. His views on climate change help to ensure we are bequeathing an uncertain environmental future to generations to come. He is helping to deprive those future generation of young British people of the adventure of being able to travel freely, work, live and love in the most attractive cultural melange in the world. John Wood, Lot-et-Garonne Congratulations on the Lawson scoop. What hypocrites these Brexiteers can be! I don’t see him standing in line at his nearest prefecture in the early morning with his phone bills for the past five years. Talking of which, can anyone explain why someone who has

lived in France for 19 years, paid income tax and taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation all that time, has to prove he is a genuine resident? Or even put himself through the exhausting procedure described recently by one of your own journalists? Bob Evans, Ain

I am delighted that Lord Lawson has taken the advice of the Ministère de l’Intérieur, the British Embassy, the British Community Committee of France and the British in Europe, as well as that expressed in The Connexion, to get a carte de séjour. He considers the paperwork to be among the ‘tiresome rather than serious’ impacts which Brexit will have on people living in France. As a retired MP, his pension is paid for by the British taxpayer but many more people do not have such a luxury and, with the UK pension the least generous in Europe, also now have to pay for translations of documents to obtain their cartes de séjour plus trips to the prefecture. For them, exchange rate stability is vital. Lord Lawson is ‘confident Britons in France will be able to continue their lives without significant disruption’. Those who come out with this are woefully unaware of the truth of the situation. Claire Godfrey, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Lord Lawson obviously subscribes to the “It’ll be alright on the night” school of thought. He clearly does not believe in his own utterances, however, otherwise why apply for a carte de séjour?

Surely if he was that sure of what comes out of his own mouth he would not see the need? After all he clearly hasn’t applied for one before, after his many years of living in France. Peter Duff, Vienne

Specialist not supermarket Never buy refrigerators, cookers, dishwashers or garden machinery from a supermarket! They’re only after your money and generally have no back up for spares or repairs Buy instead from an independent outlet or a specialist chain. They have the knowledge and experience to keep your equipment working. It might sound like a bargain at the supermarket but in the long run it will cost you more! Graham Baldwin, Gers

No scan do with passport

On arriving at Marseille airport on a flight from Italy I joined a queue to pass through an automated control for holders of biometric passports. But my passport was rejected. Not being prepared to re-queue, I presented my passport to a policeman who scanned it and let me through. When I asked why he could scan it but the automated control couldn’t, all he could say was that he didn’t think the automated control could read British passports! On another subject, a couple of months ago my wife and I took our French granddaughter from Paris to London on holiday. Her mum – our daughter – had filled in an Autorisation de sortie du territoire (AST). At the French frontier control the officer refused to believe the document was an original. The policeman was convinced it was a photocopy, which could be easily falsified. It took the assurance of our granddaughter (who is eight), the production of her return ticket and the common sense of a colleague to convince him. Peter Vass, Montpellier

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...

President Macron’s 2020 vision includes free glasses as he unveils plans for full reimbursement in two years

Homeowner in French town takes revenge on bad tenants (See page 10 for more on this story)

French MPs ponder new law to stop cold calls (See page 5 for more on this story)

“That would be very significant since glasses are expensive in France. Also in Belgium.” S.H. “They are also expensive in the UK. Actually, the frames are very expensive and the lenses cheap.” P.M. “Given the cost of recent prescription varifocal glasses and sunglasses, even with a good mutuelle, it’s something to look forward to.” T.B. “Need to sort out French teeth. My mutuelle pays not a lot for dental care but two pairs of glasses a year.” R.M. “I wish we had the same in the US.” N.B.

“I take my hat off to him, too often bad tenants leave landlords well out of pocket when they trash the properties, don’t pay the rent and then leave all their rubbish.” R.W. “Pity the council didn’t then charge them for littering and again for the removal.” I.S. “This is why I wouldn’t dare risk renting my house to French people, it’s all too common that they don’t pay the rent once they move in, as the law protects them.” P.G. “I’ve sent this to my managing agents... I really want to do this.” S.M.

“Waste of time! I did when it first came out, its made no difference. With my phones I can see the number calling, so if I don’t recognise it I ignore it.” S.F. “You couldn’t just go on the Bloctel site and give a number. You had to give ALL these details (date, time, who it was, etc.). Filling out a Bloctel report took more time than it was worth.” M.D. “Bloctel has been completely ineffective. It’s got to the point I don’t answer the phone any more. If it’s someone I know they know to leave a message.” A.W.

Campaigners say Lawson hypocritical and out of touch “In applying for a carte de séjour all he is doing is applying for an ID card that confirms his right to live in the EU. The UK should have an equivalent and it should be compulsory for every immigrant within the UK to have one.” A.K. “Quelle surprise. Of course we’re not happy. The hypocrite.” K.H. “Lord Lawson is not only a hypocrite but also guilty of telling many falsehoods about the EU and the realities of our rights as EU citizens in his numerous appearances on the BBC.” J.H. “Remainers are going to be disappointed when we leave the EU and so very little changes.” R.V.

18 Practical

Readers’ questions answered

Send your queries about life here to Oliver Rowland by email to news@connexionfrance.com

Mutuelles refused cover on age grounds SEVERAL mutuelles have refused me top-up health insurance as I am over75. What can I do? G.B. IT MAY seem discriminatory, but it is not illegal for top-up health insurers to refuse to insure someone on the grounds of their advancing age. Some top-up contracts also have clauses ending the cover after a certain age, such as 65 or 75 (they can only do so if the contract clearly states this), or in other cases reducing the level of cover. However that does not mean that it is impossible to obtain good mutuelle top-up cover in older age, you just need to find a suitable firm and policy: we would suggest looking for

one marketed as being une mutuelle sénior. Suitable ones include ones with a garantie viagère – that is to say it covers you for life, however long you live. Ones marketed as being solidaires are also likely to be suitable, avoiding any reduction in advantages linked to age. Some firms offer policies specifically for people living in Ehpads (nursing homes). You might like to try a search on lesfurets.com (a popular French policy comparison site, which has signed up to a government good practice charter on online commerce). When choosing a mutuelle look at the guarantees it covers, for example does it have good cover for

dépassements d’honoraires (the part above and beyond the standard state fee) by specialists like cardiologists, or for glasses or dental prostheses? For hospitalisation it is preferable to have a policy with no limit on the length of stay that is covered by the policy. Older people who struggle financially to pay for a topup policy may find they are eligible for ACS (Aide à l’acquisition d’une couverture maladie complémentaire) that helps those on lower incomes (less than €11,894/ year for a single person) pay for cover. You apply via your Cpam. Those on the lowest incomes may instead obtain the CMU-C, a status which replaces the need for such a policy.

Firm told me I need a work permit A FIRM has refused to renew my work contract unless I obtain a carte de séjour or work permit due to Brexit (I am British) – can it do this? T.J. UP UNTIL the date when Britain actually leaves the EU (March 2019) – and probably until the end of any transitional period (this will be the end of 2020 assuming all is finalised as planned) – Britons in France remain full EU citizens, with all associated rights, and are entitled to be treated as such. In other words they cannot be obliged to have a carte de séjour (although it is highly recommended to apply for one as soon as possible so as to consolidate your rights before Brexit) and certainly are not required to hold a work permit to work in France. The latter is a formality which only applies to third country (non-EU) citizens.

If you have evidence that the non-renewal was motivated by the fact you are British you may be able to take action for discrimination. Consider applying to the Défenseur des droits (defenseurdesdroits. fr), a watchdog on discrimination matters who may be able to investigate and advise you further on your rights and options. One option would be to report the matter to a prud’hommes work tribunal who can look at passing a ruling annulling the employer’s decision and compensating you. It is also possible to make a criminal complaint of discrimination to the police or in writing to the procureur de la République at the tribunal de grande instance. Note that you can also obtain free legal advice at maisons de justice et du droit. The British consular network is another possible source of help.

Birth certificate problem for nationality MY APPLICATION for French nationality has been held up because my father’s birth certificate has his last name spelled with one letter difference to the spelling on mine. It is because he changed the way he spelt his surname during his lifetime. The prefecture wanted an ‘attestation de concordance du consulat’ but the British Embassy said they do not do this. What can I do? V.S. Honorary avocat Gerard Barron from

Boulogne-sur-Mer said consular services are not generally able to assist with this situation. He advised approaching the UK General Register Office (www.gro.gov.uk) to obtain a modified birth certificate for your father (they will be a charge for this), giving his name as shown on your certificate and noting that the name was formerly spelt differently (such as ‘Robert, formerly known as Roberts’). Note that for a nationality application you will need to have this certificate translated by a sworn translator.

July 2018

What natural remedies help against harmful caterpillars? I HAVE had a problem with pyrale du buis caterpillars as they attacked several hedges in my garden. Are there any natural methods I can use against them? V.T. THIS moth Cydalima perspectalis, pyrale du buis in French, and its caterpillars came to Europe from Asia accidentally around 10 years ago and can cause widespread problems to gardens – especially as they eat box hedge, which is notably used in traditional jardins à la française. The 4cm green caterpillars can eat their way through the leaves of a box hedge or topiary work in a day and kill a large garden in a week, often leaving the desiccated wood covered in webbing. The caterpillars go into their pupal stage over winter and hatch into moths in spring and summer. Young caterpillars are greenish-yellow with black heads, while older ones also have thick black and thin white stripes along the body.

Photo: Didier Descouens Wikimedia Commons CC by SA 4.0

Q& A

The Connexion


The first thing that is recommended to do is to buy a specialised pheromone trap – piège à pyrale du buis. You can find them online or at garden centres. They use female pheromones to attract male moths and have a dual function in that they get rid of some male moths and stop them reproducing, but also the numbers caught in the trap give an indication of how big a problem there is in your garden in any given year. Traps should be set up from April to October, suspended in or

near to your box shrubs. They do not use any noxious chemical substances. If necessary then you can buy chemical sprays to use in the case of infestation but otherwise an effective natural remedy is to soak rhubarb leaves (not stalks) in water (500g in three litres) and then spray that liquid onto the plants. If you add liquid savon noire and colza oil it can make it more effective and help the substance stick to the leaves.

Will Brexit affect time I can spend in France? WE HAVE homes in the UK and France and enjoy being able to move between the two. As retirement approaches we would like to spend most of the year in France but will Brexit effect how much time we can spend there and will we need visas? Will it help if we apply for a carte de séjour? B.I. Firstly nothing is yet 100% certain relating to Brexit as the exit agreement currently being negotiated has not been finalised and ‘signed off ’, nor have any points been agreed about the nature of the future UK/EU ‘relationship’. If your long-term wish is to be full-time residents of France then it is very likely to be simpler to move over before Brexit (March 2019) or at least before the end of the planned transitional period at the end of 2020. After that then you would probably face tougher ‘third country citizen’ requirements in order to have permission to live full-time in France, which would

probably include a visa application. Carte de séjour applications only concern full-time residents in France so not you at this stage. If you decide not to establish yourselves as residents, then as a third country citizen who is visiting it is expected that you would be restricted to visits of no more than three months in any 180-day period after Brexit. Third country visitors to France will also, by 2021, have to apply online for prior permission to visit under a scheme known as ‘Etias.’ An Etias permission to visit the EU will cost €7 and last three years or until expiry of the passport registered when the applicant obtained it, according to the latest proposals. We cover these topics extensively in our new Brexit and Britons in France helpguide available at our website connexionfrance.com or in selected newsagents across France, priced €12.50 (plus P&P).

Where are unmarked camera cars in use? I READ that there are private, unmarked cars with onboard speed radars in use in France. Where are they in use and are there warning signs? Will you know if you are ‘flashed’? D.T. FOR the time being they are only operating in Eure, Normandy; although they are set to be rolled out nationwide next year. The drivers work for private com-

panies and can only operate in designated stretches of road, usually in areas with a history of accidents. However, the government says that from time to time they will also operate along popular main traffic routes in a bid to encourage people generally to drive more prudently. The cars will be on the roads for a least six hours a day, compared to the average of 1hr 15mins currently for police-driven vehicles. They will

be obliged to drive near to the maximum permitted speed and should not go slowly to try to ‘catch’ people speeding to overtake them. You will only know you have been flashed when you receive a fine notice in the post and there will be no warning signs saying they are operating in a given area. There will be a 10kph leeway for speeds so drivers slightly exceeding the limit should not be concerned.

The Connexion

July 2018

Make sense of

Talking Point

French private schools

Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider, UK Telecom, answers your queries Q: We live on a boat on the Canal du Midi for several months each year. What is the most cost-efficient way to get an internet service for use while on the boat? I can get unlimited wifi hotspot from my US mobile carrier but it is very expensive.

Image: perrytaylor.fr

Private schooling is increasingly popular in France but bears little resemblance to the UK PRIVATE schooling is more common in France than the UK but most ‘private’ French schools are in fact heavily state-subsidised and far more affordable than their British counterparts. An estimated 17% of children are schooled privately in France but most go to sous contrat schools. These schools follow a national curriculum and, even if they have a religious ethos (many are Catholic), they must avoid overt ‘proselytism’ and not select on religious grounds. They are different to the much smaller number of ‘completely private’ – hors contrat - schools which include ‘international schools’ offering teaching in English and studies for the International Bacca­lauréat. At the International School of Nice, for example, fees depending on age (not including meals, afterschool activities or boarding) range from €11,000 to €18,000 a year. On the other hand sous contrat school fees are often around €1,000/year or less (but can vary from as little as €20/month to as much as €1,000 (but including boarding fees) at prestigious schools with a lot of extra support staff not paid by the state and smart new facilities. Sous contrat teachers are paid by the state and councils provide grants towards other running costs. Fees go towards the maintenance of buildings and ‘extras’ like religious instruction or anything else that is above and

and class size can vary greatly but both are often larger in cities as opposed to rural areas. However private schools typically have a stronger sense of a school community, he said, with parents invited to play an active role, whether sitting on the school council or on the parents’ association or volunteering to help with outings. “Private schools make a lot of use of volunteers because they can’t call on council workers,” he said. “As a parents’ association we think this strong involvement of parents is really important as they are the primary educators of their child.” Catholic schools also seek to transmit ‘Bible values’, he said, adding: “Learning about religious culture is important, because Our main image both France and the was drawn for UK are traditionally Connexion by artist Perry Taylor. Christian.” An element of ‘pastoral’ For more of guidance is also often his work see part of the appeal. www.perrytaylor.fr He said fees vary according to the ‘educational project’, location, facilities on offer etc. For ‘educational project’ appeals to his children’s primary school in them. “One school may have a Yvelines he pays €1,000/year, reputation for looking after chilplus meals (which are more costdren with educational difficully than in the state sector as they ties, another might have an are not state-subsidised). Some excellent academic level and be have sliding scales according to suited to gifted children… It’s important for each family to find means. “It’s a trend which is becoming the school that is the best more common because if we match.” want to be open to all there He said there is a meeting shouldn’t be financial barriers.” between the parents and child He denied that private schools and the headteacher to assess if exclude the poorest, saying it is a the school is the right ‘fit’. question of priorities. Contrary to assumptions, class However, the leader of private sizes are not necessarily smaller sector teacher’s union SNEPthan in the state system; school beyond what is standard. For the teachers there are pros and cons. Although they are paid by the state they do not have the status of fonctionnaires like state school teachers. They have less job security and may face more pressure to volunteer for out-of-school activities but they are not subject to being sent for an obligatory stint in a ‘difficult’ area far from home. Private schools are not subject to catchment areas. A prospective parent may make an appointment to visit or take part in an open day. According to Gilles Demarquet, incoming chairman of the private Catholic schools’ parents association Apel, parents often choose a school because its

Practical 19


UNSA, Franck Pecot said the main reason parents opt for private schooling is l’entre-soi, or the expectation that their children will be among others from a similar background. In other cases a private school is simply the closest school, especially in rural areas like the middle of Brittany or Auvergne. Religion as a reason for choosing the sector is of decreasing importance, he added, and many schools are now mostly ‘Catholic in name’. “Fifty years ago there were still a lot of priests and nuns teaching but since 1992 all teachers have to have teaching diplomas and it’s no longer the case.” An element of actual catechism [instruction in beliefs as opposed to ‘religious culture’] is most commonly found in the primary sector, he said. He said the way schools select is becoming more transparent, especially as lycée applications are going to be done via the same online system as in the state sector. “We’ll be able to get a better overview, and it will filter down to collège next. We won’t have this opaque system where we didn’t know who was going where and why.” He said a selective aspect is most noticeable in cities, where there is heavy demand. As for hors contrat schools he said they are a ‘minuscule’ part of the system and often very small. They include proselytising religious schools. Others such as the Montessori schools have a special educational approach that appeals to parents because they believe “their child needs something different, that breaks the mould”.

A: Installing services on a boat is problematic. Telecom companies will not be able to install a fixed line onto a boat and even if you wanted to use a satellite service it would not work because the dish would keep moving into and out of alignment with the satellite. To add to this the main satellite companies have removed the option to suspend their services. Both require you to sign up for a 12-month contract so on that basis alone they are doubly unsuitable. This leaves you with finding a good mobile solution. You do not say what your US company charges, but in France there are several competitors and a wide range of products and prices.

Mobile ‘hotspots’ are very popular as they enable many devices to be connected at the same time and they are simple to set up and can be topped up remotely as well. There are services provided by the main French companies such as Orange as well as by specialists for the Englishspeaking community making use of the Orange mobile network and accepting top-up payments from any internationally recognised credit or debit card. You can find offers at €70 or less for your hotspot, with 1GB of data that is valid for 90 days and with the option to purchase additional credit from 500Mb to 100GB. To give a rough idea, to work out your needs, you can do 40 hours of surfing ordinary websites for 1GB, but the same is used up by one hour of listening to internet radio. An hour of watching YouTube could use up around 1.8GB but downloading a high-definition film would use around 4.5GB. We can only suggest you shop around and compare prices with what you can get from the US company.

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 wife and I live in France but are planning to spend the summer with our son and his family in the UK. We will want to move money across from France (euros to sterling) to cover our needs - what is the best solution? A: BBQs, Wimbledon, drizzle… English summertime has a lot to recommend it. Opening an account with a leading currency provider will give you a quick and easy way to access funds on the move during your time in the UK as you can make fast, free transfers at any time of day or night. You just pick the currency you want to buy and where you want it sent, whether its your own bank account in the UK if you still have one or your son’s, for example, then transfer your funds to the company, which will do the rest. As well as helping you secure a better exchange rate for your transfers than you would be given through a bank, it will also be moved fee-free. As many banks charge a fee of £10 to £40 per transfer, using a free service leaves you with more cash to spend on holiday treats. If you made 10 money transfers to the UK during your eight weeks away, for example, and your bank charged £20 per transfer, you could save £200 – think of how many Mr Whippy icecreams £200 could buy! This is also a much more cost-effective option than using your French bank card in the UK or getting travel money from a Bureau de Change. A good currency exchange specialist will also aim to make it as easy as possible to make currency transfers on the go with the option of using a mobile app to move money in a couple of clicks.  Email your currency queries to news@connexionfrance.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

20 Practical


The Connexion

July 2018

Learning French is a challenge, but vital by JANE HANKS

Learning French can be one of the biggest challenges related to a move to France but there are lots of ways of taking lessons – at local clubs, with a private teacher, online or with one of the many recognised bodies like the Alliance Française and online CNED. There are also officially recognised exams which can be useful – even vital – for proving your proficiency when you look for work. What you choose depends on your aim, your budget and the amount of time you can devote but there should be something for everyone. In some cases, you can get financial assistance either, in theory, from the training fund every employee and self-employed person pays into or from Pôle Emploi if it can be shown that it will help you find work. If a teacher comes to your home to give you lessons in French you can earn tax credits equal to 50% of what you pay them a year. This comes under emploi à domicile rules and you will need proof that they are registered to be employed, for example from CESU, the organisation which governs the employment of people in the home. If you are looking for formal, structured lessons with or without a diploma at the end there is a list of government approved teaching centres which have earned the label Qualité Français Langue Etrangère (qualitefle.fr/en). These include Alliance Française, which is the biggest organisation teaching French as a foreign language. Most offer classes for all levels, in groups or individual, intensive or once a week. Prices are set by the individual school. For example, Alliance Française, Normandie offers a course for general French, six to 10 hours a week with a maximum of 14 in a class at €360 for 30 hours of lessons. On the other side of the country, at the Alaji school in Metz, where there is a choice varying between intensive and once-a-week courses for either general French or leading to one of the government approved exams, it costs €308 for an intensive 28-hour a week course. You can also find approved centres on the Agence de Promotion du

Rosie and Phil Hawes arrived in France three years ago with son Cameron and when Rosie started online French lessons to get a proper qualification she found the work involved for the grade she wanted was harder than expected

Your views

Did you learn French through organised lessons? Were they helpful... any tips to pass on to others? Let us know via news@ connexionfrance.com Français Langue Etrangère site (fle.fr) This site also gives a comprehensive description of the different exams you can take to prove your level of French. They are graded in accordance with the Council of Europe’s Framework of Reference for Languages which go from A1 (where you can understand and use everyday expressions and interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly) up to C2 (you can understand virtually everything heard or read with ease and can express yourself spontaneously, fluently and precisely). These are the main diplomas: DILF Diplôme Initial de Langue Française DELF Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française and DALF Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française These are internationally recognised and valid for life. They are accredited by the Department of Education and only for non-French citizens. DCL Diplôme de Compétence en Langue, is delivered by the education ministry. This professional national diploma is specifically for adults in the economic world.

TCF Test de Connaissance du Français is a general proficiency test for nonFrench speakers, who, for professional or personal reasons, wish to obtain quick, simple, reliable certification of their knowledge in French. TEF Test d’Evaluation de Français is the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s test which is recognised by the French national educational system. To apply for French nationality you need a certificate showing you have a B1 level. This can be a DELF level B1 or other exam which is regarded as equivalent (though no definitive list is available for this). In addition the TCF and TEF both have approved tests designed specifically for nationality applications. A cheaper option is to take lessons via a local association, and you should be able to find details at your mairie. Connexion reader Kelly Dawe, 41, says she highly recommends learning French with the association Accueil des Villes Françaises (avf.asso.fr) which is present in more than 300 towns to welcome any newcomers, whether French or foreign.

The courses cost the annual membership AVF fee, just €23. Mrs Dawe arrived in France 18 months ago when her husband had to move with his job and part of the package included free French lessons in a language school for her. However, she soon found work herself and the lessons were no longer convenient so she started a course with AVF. “I last studied GCSE French 25 years ago, so my level was not great. These lessons have been brilliant and have really helped my language skills. “There are only three of us and the lessons are very much student-led, focusing on the help we need. “Sometimes we work on tenses or sometimes on conversation. In fact, I find them more useful than the language school because there we were 20 with varying abilities and they lacked the personal touch.” She says that the other activities laid on by the AVF like art and cooking lessons are a plus and mean there is also a good social life and the chance to meet people. Another option is an online course you can do at home in your own time. The CNED (Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance) is a pub-

lic body giving online education and has courses for both general and professional French which can prepare you for the DELF and DALF exams. You can take a 45 minute online test to evaluate your current level to help decide which course would be best for you (cned.fr). Rosie Hawes, 51, from Balledent, Haute-Vienne, wants a qualification to help her get a job teaching English in schools and for her own satisfaction. She has GCSE French and started to revise her language skills with son Cameron before moving three years ago. Once here she had lessons with a private teacher and then signed up with the CNED, because it has lessons to prepare students for DELF exams. She paid €139 for six months: “I did the free evaluation test and came out as B1/B2 and as I wanted to stretch myself I opted for the B2 level. “I had not appreciated the huge difference between B1 and B2 and found it to be much too difficult. However, I did not want to waste my money so I write down all the lessons, do as much as I can and will come back to it when I am ready.” Instead she has started the free version of another online website, Lawless French, and has found it much more accessible, especially as explanations are in English. However, it does not lead to the exams so she will pay for a new three month CNED course and hopes to sit for a B1 DELF exam in the autumn. “My advice would be to make sure you choose the right level and go for easier rather than harder. I lost a lot of confidence and I could easily have given up if it wasn’t for the support of family and friends. “But it is definitely worth persevering. It has made a difference to my French and being able to speak, read and write it makes life much easier. “A year ago I didn’t even have the confidence to phone to make a doctor’s appointment. Now I can help friends fill in forms and go with them to business appointments to help translate. “At our village fête there used to be a table set aside for the English; now they mix us up because they know our French is good enough to join in the conversation.”

Capital gains: where one plus one equals too many tax offices Money Matters

Robert Kent of Kentingtons explains. www.kentingtons.com When it comes to selling a property, and you know that the sale price will be greater than what you paid for it, one of the immediate concerns might be to know how much the tax office is going to take. Even when just based in your own country, this can get complicated but the minute things are international, involving more than one tax office, things can get yet more… exciting! Let’s take, for example, a British citizen, living in France, selling their second home (maybe a former main home) in the UK. The last update to the UK / France tax treaty agreed that UK property could be taxed where the owner lives, thus in this case France. So, this surely means just simply knowing the

French rules for capital gains tax (la plus-value immobilière) on selling property. Indeed, this is a good place to start. The sale is free of capital gains tax after 22 years of ownership and free of social charges after 30 years. The rate is 19% tax plus 17.2% social charges with various offsets / allowances / expenses to be considered. An extra tax is also payable beyond €50,000 of taxable gain – which varies between 2% and 6%. But what about the UK tax authorities? The property is built upon and fixed to UK soil, so do they not have a say? The answer is more a no / yes / sort of (isn’t it great when life is simple?) Prior to 2014, the UK did not apply capital gains tax to non-UK residents. However, from 2014, the UK does apply capital gains tax, but only from 2014. If a value from the date the law changed cannot be proven, then a calculation is applied called Time Apportionment Relief (am I losing you yet?)

Just as a little aside (as if it’s not already got complicated enough), if you move back to the UK within five years, the HMRC will assess you again, but on the basis that you never actually left, so on the full gain. Evidently, the sale of a UK property, while living in France needs a little planning, but what about if the property in the UK was your principal private residence? In the UK, there are rules giving you time to sell it as your primary residence and so thus not assessable to capital gains tax. There is good news and bad news on this. The good news is that the French do have similar rules (under 150 U of the French tax code). You essentially get a year to sell the property, which may be extended to two years during poor market conditions. There are other rules such as that the property must remain empty (although this may now be relaxed in certain cases) and must be on the market at the point of moving. The bad news is that these rules apply only

where the property is situated in France. It is clear in the law, yet we have seen that local tax offices seem to be somewhat confused, so we have seen this point ignored. Interestingly, if there is a French property being sold and the owner is resident in the UK, the French fisc taxes it first and then HMRC reassesses it with a credit for any French tax paid. There is no exemption for being a main home, if this was the case. What to do next with so much complexity and uncertainty? Our mantra is always to deal with certainty as far as possible, so that means selling the UK property before moving to France or vice versa, makes a lot of sense. We would probably be a lot happier without one tax office working out how they can take our money, let alone two. If it is, as we say in the UK a ‘fait accompli’, then some quality guidance is a must, to calculate how to minimise any taxation.

French living Food Wine Homes Gardens Interviews Events

fine and dandy Meet the Paris cycle club keeping vintage velocipedes on the move


+ Stargazing and camping + Take a gastro tour de France + From author to pig farmer + Lyon’s silkmakers

2 Astronomy

French Living I July 2018

You do not have to go to the moon and back to brush up on your astronomy. Nick Inman gets to grips with the galaxy from the comfort of a Gascon farm


rance’s rolling countryside offers many fine views but the most spectacular of them all only appears after dark. Away from the bright lights of big cities, it is possible to step into the garden on any cloudless night and survey a tapestry of twinkling stars set against the inky blackness of space. The great thing about star-gazing is that you do not have to make any special preparations. Simply stand still for a few minutes, let your eyes grow accustomed to the lower light level and watch the night sky slowly open up its treasures. If you wish, star charts, apps and websites can provide useful navigational tools to help you sort your Ursa Minors from Orions, while a pair of binoculars will make things clearer still.

Celestial guide

However, it is far easier to understand what is going on in the night sky if you have someone experienced to show you around. And celestial guides don’t come

better than those at the Ferme des Etoiles holiday centre in deepest Gascony, a go-to region for armies of amateur star-gazers who are lured by the generally good weather and low light pollution. Based near Fleurance in the Gers department, Ferme des Etoiles stands alone on a ridge looking south to the Pyrénées and has made big business out of all these budding Brian Coxes. It comprises a traditional farmhouse set within four hectares of parkland and offers activities, holidays and training courses all geared around the what-can-be-intimidating topics of astronomy and aeronautics. Its objective? To make the sky above us accessible and understandable. “We aspire to use the science of the universe as a tool for awakening and reflection,” its website reads, “allowing everyone to form their own opinion of the world and the great questions of our time.”


Ferme des Etoiles is a beautiful place

Above: Stars twinkle far above the sci-filooking astrobulles which serve as sleep quarters for guests at Ferme des Etoiles; inset: Peering through giant binoculars

Everyone gets a chance to peer at the Andromeda galaxy through the largest pair of binoculars in France

between sunrise and sunset, but naturally comes into its own under the cover of darkness when all attention turns skywards. More than 3,000 stars are visible to the naked eye from here, and visitors are primed for the pitch black by watching a projection of the forthcoming night in one of the few private planetariums in France. The space seats up to 40 people and is named after the popular French Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves. It opened in 2013 and offers a total immersion experience, allowing the audience a glimpse not just of the skies of southern France, but as far afield as those above Rio and the North Pole too.

Biggest binoculars

Base knowledge covered, it’s then time to gather on a sloping lawn to watch the daylight disappear. A knowledgeable guide (English speaking) is on hand with a laser torch to point out everything from the astronomical obvious to more obscure secrets of the Milky Way. What’s more, everyone gets a chance to peer at the Andromeda galaxy through the largest pair of binoculars in France, before climbing a step ladder to look through the lens of a 620mm telescope trained still deeper into space. Be warned: all that stargazing can seriously mess with your mind! For a start, the ordinary ways of measuring distance

no longer apply. There are so many kilometres between the stars that you soon run out of noughts. If there are any other inhabited planets, I learn, it will take us 40,000 Earth years to reach the nearest of them at the fastest speed of which we are currently capable. For this reason, stargazing can be described as a form of time travel. What we see through our telescope is old light; light that left its source millions of years ago. That twinkling star may not even exist any more. That’s why astronomy, says Bruno Monflier, a guide at the farm, necessarily covers far more than scientific observation. “It is a response to the famous great questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? It explains how the universe was formed, how we were made and how we are connected to the stars.”

‘Igloo’ accommodation

There’s opportunity to ponder these deeper philosophical questions still further over dinner (Ferme des Etoiles has a restaurant specialising in hearty local cuisine) or from the comfort of your own bed later. Up to 15 people can be accommodated in guest rooms in the old farmhouse, but it’s the igloo-like astrobulles in the garden that prove the real overnight draw here – rigid tents of tubular white steel, covered with taut plastic and fitted

Photos: Ferme des Etoiles

Holidaying with the stars

Astronomy 3

July 2018 I French Living

Further information

La Ferme des Etoiles is open from April through to November but you will have to take your chance with the weather; you cannot cancel or postpone your visit at the last minute if clouds obscure the sky. For more information visit fermedesetoiles.com. Meanwhile, the Festival d’Astronomie de Fleurance takes place annually in August and includes a “science marathon”: 12 lectures back-to-back over 12 hours. Truly, not for the faint-hearted (or the less-than-fluent in French…). See more at festival-astronomie.fr. Below: The Gascon farmhouse serves as accommodation for up to 15 guests, as well as incorporating a large dining room; Star signs in and around Ferme des Etoiles: (l-r) shooting stars, the speed of light and the Milky Way

Constellation prizes Can’t make it to the Ferme des Etoiles? Fear not, France is full of other great attractions from which to explore the glories of our galaxy:

Cité de l’Espace

Discover the history of space exploration, in Toulouse’s popular interactive exhibition centre. Highlights include full-scale models of the Ariane 5 rocket. en.cite-espace.com


Kids will love this theme park approach to all things inter-planetary, based near Poitiers. Space-related rides and exhibitions sit alongside a planetarium. en.futuroscope.com

L’Observatoire de Paris Founded in 1667, this is the largest astronomy centre in France with 30% of all French astronomers working in its five laboratories and institute. obspm.fr Astrofarm

Astrofarm in Charente is an adult-only astronomy centre boasting a fully equipped observatory and B&B accommodation. The courses and holidays cater for everyone from complete beginners to space whizzes. astrofarmfrance.com

Things looking up for summer sky viewings

With a glimpse of Venus, a partial solar eclipse and meteor showers, there is lots to see this year, says Samantha David


targazing is best done in places with low light pollution, and if possible even above low cloud cover – which is why planetariums tend to be built on mountain peaks. Not all of them are at altitude, however; most large cities in France have an observatory including Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse. The Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre (accessible by cable car from the tiny Pyrenean village of La Mongie, pictured above) is one of the oldest in Europe and has fabulous views of the sky. (It also has a small museum and a café.) Take warm jumpers because it’s chilly at night, even in the summer. It is not necessary, however, to find an observatory in order to enjoy the night sky. The view will be good anywhere which is away from heavy urban street lighting. France’s national parks are ideal. Plan to sit outside for a couple of hours to let your eyes adjust to the night sky, and then you’ll see more of the celestial show. Parks where you can picnic late at night are ideal. To work out what you’re seeing, check out the website of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle which has a wonderful page explaining exactly what you can see from France, and the page is also in English. (nuit.mnhn.fr/fr/ ressources/observer-ciel) On July 15, around sunset look up at the moon and if it’s a clear night you’ll see a slim waxing crescent hanging low in the sky. Look just to the left of it and you’ll see an incredibly bright planet, so close that it will almost look like a ball being tossed into a lunar cup. That planet is Venus. On July 27 at 8.30pm there will be a total lunar eclipse, the second this year, following the spectacular eclipse of the Blue Moon back on January 31. It will be the smallest full moon of the year because the moon will be at its furthest from the earth in July, and the moon will travel though the darkest part of the earth’s shadow meaning it could be a particularly deep eclipse.

On the same date, Mars will appear to glide very close to the moon. Look up and if you image the moon being at the centre of a clock face, you’ll see Mars at somewhere between 4 and 5 o’clock. The Red Planet will look like a super bright orange star. Mars doesn’t orbit round the earth in a smooth circle but gets nearer and further over time. This year, it will be especially close to the earth; it hasn’t been this close since 2003, and it won’t be this close again until 2035. Using even a domestic telescope it will be possible to see all kinds of features on the planet’s surface including white polar caps and dark volcanic plains. If you miss these dates, however, or they happen to be cloudy nights, keep an eye open for events linked to Les Nuits des Etoiles on August 3,4 and 5. There will be talks, classes, and stargazing evenings all over France that weekend. Find out more on the website of the Association Française d’Astronomie (AFA) – www.afastronomie.fr/les-nuits-des-etoiles On August 11, look out for a partial solar eclipse just before sunset. As it’s not a full eclipse it may not be very noticeable from France, especially if it’s a cloudy day, but given a clear sky it will be visible with the naked eye. The following two nights (August 1213) will be equally interesting, as it will be possible to see intense Perseid meteor showers (inset) of up to 60 shooting stars an hour. Viewing conditions should be excellent too, as the sky will be dark and moonless. Perseids got their name from the constellation Perseus, because they seem to come from there. Meteors are actually pieces of comet debris heating up as they enter the atmosphere and burn up in a streak of light as they travel across the sky at 59km per second. When they are in space, they are called meteoroids, but when they reach the earth’s atmosphere, they’re called meteors. Very occasionally a meteor doesn’t burn up completely and lands somewhere, when it is then called a meteorite. Most Perseid meteors are about the size of a grain of sand.

Photos: Alain Sallez (picdumidi.org), David Romeuf (Université Lyon); Brocken Inaglory

with round porthole windows. Dotted around the park, these curious, hemispherical structures wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a Hollywood sci-fi flick. Aesthetics aside, they complement the space theme by letting exhausted astronomers hit the sack without eschewing the heavens: lie back and you can still enjoy the light show. Now that’s what I call a room with a view.

4 Rencontre

French Living I July 2018

‘You need to love beautiful things and to like the old, traditional ways’ Lyon was once the silk capital of Europe and in the mid-19th century, three quarters of local industry was related to creating material from silk. Now, there are only a few weaving manufacturers left and just two workshops which transform and decorate the basic, woven, white silk material. Cyril Genet is the descendant of a local silk decorating family and he explained the ancient techniques he practices in L’Atelier de Soierie, which is open for the public to visit. What do you produce at the Atelier de Soierie? Our family business started in 1890 and is dedicated to the printing and colouring of silk, the last step in the long silk process. We mainly produce scarves, shawls and ties and specialise in the reproduction of art for museums and art foundations around the world. We have more than 100,000 designs which represent all the artistic periods from classic to contemporary, from Monet to Picasso. We have been silk colourists in my family on my father’s side since my great, great grandfather and we are one of the last workshops in France to carry out silkscreen painting by hand. Why did Lyon become the centre of the silk trade in France? It was mainly down to François 1er (1494-1547) who rather liked Lyon and gave the town sole rights to receive raw silk thread as it arrived in the country from the Far East, firstly via the Silk Road. At one time more than 50% of the city’s workforce was in the industry. It was important up to the 20th century but declined with the introduction of synthetic materials. Did the silk always come from the Far East? Silk was also produced in France, from the 16th century onwards and there were silk worm farms in Provence, Ardèche and the Cévennes up to just after the First World War. But they never managed to produce enough silk for the country and farms were often destroyed by disease and, of course, you need enough mulberry trees. These are not native to France and were brought into the country by early botanists. You also need the right climate which should never be too cold and a particular altitude, so it never really succeeded. Now the big three countries producing silk thread are China, India and Brazil.

Photos: Atelier de Soierie

Jane Hanks talks to Lyon silk-maker Cyril Genet about the city’s heritage in the print industry and the skills required to make luxury goods What are the techniques you use to colour and decorate silk? There are three. The first is sérigraphie, which was developed in Lyon in the 1920’s and is also called printing à la Lyonnaise. It is called silk-screen printing in English, which I think is due to the fact that the material stretched across the wooden frame was originally silk, rather than because it was used first on silk. The method consists of layering up the image colour by colour squeezing the ink through the screen except in the areas made impermeable by a blocking stencil. There is a great deal of preparation in creating the stencils and also the colours. We receive the basic pigments and then mix them to get the shades we want. We must make a stencil for each colour and usually we use around 10 to 15. I think the most we have ever used here is 22. Once all that is in place it takes about two hours to make each scarf, with a resting time of seven to eight minutes as each colour dries. Sometimes that can be up to 30 minutes if the weather is humid. It must be very difficult to get each screen with its stencil in exactly the right place. We have special tables with wedges to position each screen which helps. But it is a very meticulous process. I think in screen printing the most difficult thing is to get the colours right. It is a very specific technique which you have to learn and master and this is what makes any craft so interesting. There is a lot of satisfaction in creating a screen print as little by little an image appears from the colours you apply. What is the second process? This creates the most luxurious and most expensive material which is usually used for shawls and drapes rather than the smaller squares we screen print for scarves. It, too was invented in Lyon at the end of the 19th century and is applied to an exclusive fabric called refined velvet or silk velvet, which is only woven in our city. We create patterns or take patterns from the many designs in our archives and then weave silk velvet using a local weaving company. They send us the woven pieces in black and white: black for the silk background and white for the velvet raised patterns. We then choose the colours and paint them with liquid dies using paintbrushes or cotton buds. This kind of material is often sought after by big Haute Couture fashion houses. It creates a luxury article; the cheapest

Cyril Genet and some of his silk creations; Inset: a pattern designed to celebrate Lyon’s Festival of Lights

This kind of material is often sought after by big Haute Couture fashion houses Cyril Genet

shawls we sell cost €130 and go up to €800, whereas a silk scarf costs from €50 up. And the third method? This is the oldest technique which came from India in the 18th and 19th centuries. It consists of carved wooden blocks which are placed on to the material. I think this is the most difficult and most artistic. You need to know exactly how and where to place each design and it requires a very steady hand. Eight hours of sleep, no coffee and no aperitifs for this one! Some of the oldest print-blocks were engraved by hand over 200 years ago. The ones we mainly use are in our own family collection but sometimes we borrow or even buy others from other silk families in the area. How did you learn your craft? There is nowhere to go and learn these

techniques. Most of it is done in-house. There are three of us who are designer decorators in our workshop. It is the same with all traditional jobs, you have to learn the particular skills related to that craft, in the place where it is carried out. Silk colouring and decoration has been in your family for many generations; what qualities do you need to be able to continue the tradition? You don’t necessarily inherit all the right qualities, but first you have to really want to do it. Then you need above all patience and discipline and to have a love of beautiful things and like the old, traditional ways. Many of my friends say that I have a beautiful job, but that it is ringard, old-fashioned. I think though that I have a joli métier, a great job. L’Atelier de Soierie is open from Monday to Saturday www.atelierdesoierie.com

6 Gardens/Green news

French Living I July 2018

Colourful day out for a good cause July is prime time for garden visits under the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts scheme. Jane Hanks picks four


2, Rue Catherine Daniellou, Saint-Guen, Guerlédan, Côtes-d’Armor; Owner : Jacqueline Bertho Jacqueline Bertho is married to a Breton, is a local councillor and has worked hard to get her commune involved in a community open garden weekend. “There is a lot to see. The oldest gardeners are a French couple in their eighties who have a magnificent garden in a beautiful setting. They have lots of flowers and perennials and an enormous vegetable garden. It is rather hidden away so this is a wonderful chance to see it.” She says she has been amazed by the response. “We run a gardens competition in the commune and my fellow councillor who organises it was happy to help me out and contact people who had been in the competition. There will be three ticket sales points, including my garden, where you will be given a list of the other gardens, plus directions. I hope visitors may be tempted to come on both afternoons so they can benefit from all the gardens.”

Green news Museum honours ecology activist A ‘natural museum’ dedicated to JeanMarie Pelt, the celebrated biologist, botanist and ecology pioneer from Metz, has been inaugurated in Ogy-MontoyFlanville, east of the Grand Est city. Spread over four hectares, the ‘museum’ boasts nine themed gardens, chickens, geese, 120 species of plants, a two-kilometre trail of heritage vegetables, medicinal plants, and a beehive school. There are also allotments for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, and a grocery store for the sale of produce. A trained pharmacist with ecologically militant convictions and a scientific background, Jean-Marie Pelt travelled extensively around the world to carry out plant

Jacqueline Bertho’s garden, one of 10 open in Guerlédan; inset: A career change led to Gerald Chambord’s Charente garden

It is the kind of project President Mick Moat wants to encourage so that visitors can really benefit from seeing several gardens on the same day. Mrs Bertho says it has been hard work but that Mick Moat has been very helpful and encouraging and she hopes they will be able to raise a lot of money. Her own garden has plenty of interest in it. “It is unusual”, she says, “because there is a mix of styles. My husband has always dreamt of living in Provence and he started planting in 2000-2002 and added water features. I arrived in 2008 and added my passion for an English country garden, so together we have created a Mediterranean garden with herbaceous borders.” The climate in Brittany is usually kind to gardeners and allows this varied planting, though this year has been a challenge: “For the first time in five years we had heavy frosts and then three months of solid rain did not help as the plants did not like sitting in the damp. However, they are reviving now. My garden is not Photo: www.facebook.com/museenaturelJMP

here will be gardens open every weekend in July plus on Wednesday 4 and Friday 6 throughout France as part of the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts scheme which encourages gardeners of all nationalities to open up their gardens, big and small to the public, to raise funds for charity. Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year or pay €5 for a Day Pass which allows access to any of the gardens on the day of purchase. There is also the Anniversary card, which costs €35 and gives access to privately owned gardens as well as a growing list of prestigious French gardens, which usually charge an entrance fee but are offering Open Garden members free entry with the card. This is the association’s sixth year. In 2018, Open Gardens aims to have 200 gardens in 33 departments. Last year they were able to hand over €23,500 to eleven chosen French charities. www.opengardens.eu Around ten gardens will be open at the same time in Guerlédan, Côtes-d’Armor. One of them is:

My garden is not enormous but it is well filled and has won prizes

research, before becoming a writer and radio broadcaster. He was a fervent opponent of GM crops, and died in December 2015. Eco-tourism tests in Calanques In May, eco-tourism professionals gathered in Marseille to test and evaluate a youth-focused eco-tourism package in the Calanques National Park. The five-night trip focused on the discovery of the park through multi-sport activities, in order to shed a different light on the park’s conservation activities, as well as on the history and culture of the Calanques (narrow, steep-walled inlets). Partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund, DestiMED brings together 13 marine and coastal protected areas to develop, manage and collectively promote ecotourism throughout the Mediterranean region.

Also open in July Cousteilles Hautes, Montcléra, Lot Owners: Carmel MacIntyre, Peter Beglan This hilltop garden has been carefully landscaped to create a sweeping foreground to the spectacular views. It is only seven years old but is already well established. Grasses and dry planting surround the pool and pond; there is a circular rose garden and a long herbaceous border, fading from hot colours to pastels. This means there is plenty of colour in July with salvias, helenium and canna. Open July 7 and 8, 11-18.00

Les Jardins du Coq, Montignac-le-Coq, Charente; Owner: Gerald Chambord Gerald Chambord always knew that one day he would create a garden, and a career change in his forties meant that in 2012 he could start on his dream, which has resulted in a garden he opens to the public for six months of the year, and on one day, for Open Gardens. He says it is simple and personal, and reflects his love of the natural world and cannot be categorised under any particular style. There are three parts; themed rose gardens dedicated to countries he has visited and people he has met; a wild garden and lavender field, with around 1,000 plants which will be in flower in July; and a lake and woodland area. New this year is a Green Museum, which he says is both a herbarium and a cabinet of curiosities. On the walls there are dried and pressed examples of the plants growing in the local area and a different theme in each room. Entry to the museum is €3. Open July 4, 10-12.00 and 14-18.00

Guidellou, Saint-Cadou, Sizun, Finistère Owners: Jackie and Bryan Carrick Jackie and Bryan Carrick’s garden was a cow field in 2012 but is now a mature garden with masses of variety and plenty of interest. It is on a north facing slope, located in the Monts d’Arrée hills and is divided into three areas, with newly planted trees, shrubs and flower beds in the main garden. There is also a potager and fruit trees area and a bonsai display garden, which is always very popular. This year they are developing a woodland garden, using the woods behind them to create an area for shade-loving plants. They are keen to share their gardening experiences with visitors and this year think keen fellow gardeners will be interested to see a new mulch from the Royal Horticultural Society they have had shipped over from the UK. They hope it will cut down weeding, last in the garden for two years, and not attract slugs. Open July 28 and 29, 14-18.00

Mont Blanc pollution claim Fourteen residents in the Arve valley, Haute-Savoie, have filed a court appeal in Grenoble, claiming that authorities have not done enough to combat air pollution. The valley is one of the most polluted areas in France thanks to the 550,000 trucks that pass through the Mont-Blanc tunnel every year. The claimants’ lawyer François Lafforgue says links between poor health and pollution are easily proven. “We already have general studies”, he told France Infos. “Plus various testimonies of those who experienced respiratory difficulties after moving to the Arve valley, and others during pollution peaks”. The local gendarmerie has registered more than 540 complaints from people requesting an investigation into various sources of pollution, with victims seeking up to €100,000 in compensation.

MP makes party switches The former Minister of Ecology Delphine Batho and Députée in Deux-Sèvres has quit the Socialist Party (PS) to become the head of Génération Ecologie, the environmentally-focused political movement created in 1991. She succeeds Yves Piétrasanta. “I aimed to make the PS an environmentalist and feminist force, she told Le Monde. “But another conservative path has been chosen.” “I want ecology no longer to be seen as an auxiliary or marginal force. Ecology is the historical issue of this century,” added Ms Batho. “Ecology is everywhere in society, but it is nowhere in the political landscape.” PS First Secretary Olivier Faure said he was “surprised” by Batho’s decision. “She is leaving at precisely the ecological turning point of the Socialists.”

enormous, about 1,000m² but it is well filled and has won prizes and there are a lot of different things to see.” Open June 30 and July 1, 14.00-18.00

Gardening 7 Photos Cathy Thompson

Photo: OT Paris/Marc Bertrand

July 2018 I French Living

Hooray for the helenium in July

From her Vosges garden, Cathy Thompson reveals her seasonal plant tips

Gardens digest Secateurs in the city Without wishing to wish away the long summer days, some readers might wish to start planning trips in September. The annual autumnal parks festival in Paris (Fête des jardins et de l’agriculture urbaine) offers many places to visit. A total of 40 sites are open to visitors including Parc Monceau (8th arrondissement), Parc Georges Brassens (15th, above), Parc de Bercy (12th) and offer rich programmes to raise awareness of environmental and ecological issues. Free activities include guided tours, games, gardening workshops, concerts, and walks... something for all tastes. www.parisinfo.com A picture in pastel Given that ultra-violet is the ‘colour of 2018’ as designated by the colour experts at Pantone (number 18-3838, to be precise), why not give your garden a sprinkle of pale purple perfection. The obvious candidates are lavender, rosemary and basil, but Scabiosa columbaria Butterfly Blue or the very elegant Arum Picasso – can be set off beautifully with a coat of eggshell paint on your fencing or pots. Keep cool and shine bright

This 3x2metre rectangular ‘sail’ shade has a double function. During the day, it is ideal for creating a corner of shade in your garden or on your balcony. Then at sunset after charging all day, its 100 LEDs light up to offer you a starry sky for six hours at a time. The 180 g/m² polyester fabric is waterproof and UV resistant and the canopy is is ultra resistant to wind thanks to reinforcements at the ends and on each side of the fabric. Price: €79.90 from Castorama

French garden diary

The big seep

Heading off on your holidays this month? Stave off the dread of dead plants upon your return with an automatique watering system. There are many options available, including: microporous ceramic watering cones (cônes d’arrosage) which fix to an inverted bottle and are entirely autonomous; multi-pot watering systems, which require the water-filled vessel to be at least 75cm higher than the pots; water-retaining gels made of cellulose that slowly transform into water while in the soil (up to 30 days autonomy); and low-pressure micro-irrigation systems running from the garden tap. Other traditional hosepipe (tuyaux)-based solutions are available.


hose early mornings in a July garden when the daisies hover amongst the flowering grasses: the vision of a Shasta daisy seems heaven-sent to cool you down when you can take no more of this month’s heat. Leucanthemum x superbum is just a glorified and taller relation of the common meadow daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, and as tolerant of anything I can do to it. And you should see what I do! When I am moving it around the garden to stick in gaps in the odd corner here and there, I have left it lying, soilless, in the sun for hours and hours while I dug and worked – and still the rhizomes take. Completely unfussy about soil, it may not be the most exotic of plants, but it’s a keeper for its reliability and freshness in flower. It also responds well to the so-called ‘Chelsea chop’, named for the late May cutback (around the time of the famous show) that we can administer to plants inclined to get too tall and leggy. Cut plants back by up to a half and they bloom later on bushier, more compact mounds of foliage. The Shasta daisies grow so well here that I need to add some more (perhaps more interesting) cultivars to the single nameless white I already possess. I think ‘Banana Cream’ in pale yellow would be similarly fresh, while the much more spidery double blooms of ‘Christine Hagemann’, with elegantly down swept outer petals, might look very classy. And there’s ‘T.E. Killin’ (awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit): also a double, but with the central ring of petals shorter and prettily fringed around the central brown eye. If you look beyond European grassland to the plains and prairies of the United States, there are plenty of other fresh daisies to grow – and almost all are ideal for hot dry gardens and resistant to the lunching habits of local fauna. In Europe they have been hybridised extensively by German growers and made popular in the prairie plantings innovated by Dutch designer, Piet

Oudolf. If you go for his ‘New Perennial’ style, with grasses and these daisies in broad swathes, maintenance is easy. Go over the top with a strimmer and then a rotary mower in very early spring, leave the debris to mulch the plants, feed if you like, and perhaps carefully use a spot-on weed killer from time to time. Hey presto – the ‘meadow’ grows up again to give pleasure for another year! There are two other daisy stars in this

How did breeders ever arrive at the rich reds of ‘Tomato Soup’ or startling orange of ‘Tangerine Dream?

planting style: Echinacea and Helenium. Echinacea you may know as a herbal remedy that is supposed to boost the immune system and aid recovery from colds and the flu. In fact, the North American plains Indians, who first used the roots of Echinacea, believed it to be an overall pain medication – useful against sore throats and headaches. When you first put them in the ground they need careful watering before the long taproot is properly established, but afterwards that taproot provides a great insurance policy against drought. The best garden cultivar of the purple coneflower, a rather swell version of the wild plant, is probably Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’. I also grow a lovely white form, ‘White Swan’, which is more refined but just as tough at heart. If, like me, you are attracted by the down swept petals of the Echinaceas, you are bound to fall hard for the ethe-

real beauty of Echinacea pallida, in which that characteristic is magnified and exalted in thin, spidery, pinky-purple petals – the last word in elegance. E. paradoxa, in yellow, is similarly attractive for its arty profile. And there is an ever-increasing plethora of cultivar colour. How did breeders ever arrive at the rich reds of ‘Tomato Soup’ or the startling orange of ‘Tangerine Dream’? After the Echinaceas, my favourites in this style of planting are the Heleniums: although growing to 1.5m, they rarely need staking. There are three old German standbys in this department. The best has got to be ‘Moerheim Beauty’ in deep coppery orange, for colour, flower-power and good manners in the garden. To vary the palette we have the bright orange of ‘Waltraut’ and the vibrant copper yellow of ‘Wyndley’. My newest addition, tall ‘Dunkle Pracht’, is a satisfyingly rich mix of dark coppers and lighter oranges. With ornamental grasses (Miscanthus, Deschampsia and Stipa, for example) and the hazy purples of another grassland plant from the cold steppe of Russia, Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), you have the makings of a low maintenance, delightfully colourful, late summer garden. MONTHLY TIPS If the summer sun becomes too hot for leafy vegetables such as cabbages, perpetual spinach and chard, you can always copy growers in the steamy south of the US and erect temporary shade tunnels over crops that are suffering. Cut yourself appropriate lengths of greenhouse shading and install it on bamboo canes, so that it hovers over the foliage and keeps off the worst of the heat. OVER TO YOU I’ve talked about prairie style plantings – do you have a favourite planting style and why is it appropriate in your garden? And do let me know if you can add any favourite daisies to my wish list! You can send me an email at: editorial@connexionfrance.com.

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visit www.vivara.fr

Proud to support Open gardens/Jardins ouverts

8 The big interview Jacqueline Yallop lived the French rural dream rearing pigs then wrote a book about it. The author told Jane Hanks about how her porcine passion changed the way she looked at both farming and food


any people dream of growing their own food when they come to rural France and some even raise their own meat. Author Jacqueline Yallop took the plunge with her husband, Ed, and bought two piglets and the book she wrote as a result, Big Pig, Little Pig, comes out in paperback this month. It is a searingly honest account of what it is really like to look after pigs and come face to face with the reality of killing them for their meat. Jacqueline Yallop is a writer with three novels to her name and she currently teaches creative writing at the University of Aberystwyth. She and her husband Ed bought a house near Drulhe in the Aveyron twelve years ago, which was at first a holiday home. They mulled over the idea of raising pigs for a long time and when the opportunity arose for them both to work as freelance writers, something they could do away from the UK, they were able at last to go out and buy two piglets, just weaned, from a local man who farms an ancient, hardy breed of pig called the Gascon Noir, or Noir de Bigorre. They had never had any experience of raising livestock, never lived on a farm, never kept animals other than their dog, Mo, and chickens, but, “we had done all the research and knew that if we didn’t do it then, we might never do it,” says Jacqueline. “Our aim was not to become fully self-sufficient, because that would have been too ambitious, but we did want to explore what it is like to raise our own meat and what that changes in regard to our perception of eating meat.” She says that practically it was not as difficult as you might think: “There is so much information either in books or on the internet that you can easily find out what to do. As long as they are fed and housed properly they are easy to look after. We spent a lot of time with them, but that was our choice and we really enjoyed it. It never became a chore but was a real pleasure.” Because the aim was to raise them for their meat, the couple decided not to give them names and referred to them as Big Pig and Little Pig to tell them apart. They did not want them to become pets, but very quickly, they could not help liking these animals which had become part of their daily life: “They changed a lot while they were with us. They were about the size of small dogs when they arrived and were very curious about the world around them. They grew into big, solid, heavy pigs, really big beasts. “The Gascon Noir is a very beautiful breed and they were aesthetically pleasing

French Living I July 2018

“It is important to know the animal has had a good life”

to look at and just nice to have around.” The new pig farmers soon found that the common adage that pigs are intelligent is true: “They were very bright, very quick to learn. ‘They developed their own characters and provided us with plenty of amusement.” The couple spent hours sitting with the pigs and observing them. They found that Little Pig was the introvert and Big Pig the extrovert. They played games with them. One was pear chase, when Jacqueline Yallop stood at the top of a slope with a bucket of windfall pears and hurled them into the enclosure in all directions so that the pigs ran after them and had to hunt them down. Long after the bucket was empty, she watched them enjoying the search. In the long, hot, summer days they hosed them down, playing with the water on their skin. Little Pig in particular loved it and their owners are sure that when he opened his mouth to catch the water he was laughing with joy. When Little Pig became ill, they rushed to the vet and had to learn how to administer an antibiotic injection to save him. They had a glut of courgettes, but the pigs did not like them raw, so another job was to cook them up, as they adored the resulting green mush. Accepting the inevitable All along the shadow of the future killing lies over them. How will it be possible to slaughter an animal you have come to love? “In the end, we had bought them for their meat”, says Jacqueline Yallop, “and

Jacqueline Yallop in the pig pen at her French home in Drulhe, Aveyron; inset: a tickle for one of her smiling porcine charges

You are killing something the size of a man and it is a big undertaking

there was no option as it would have been impossible to have kept the very big animals they had become. “It is, though, a substantial leap for people like us who have not been brought up on a farm to make the change from working to keep them alive to slaughtering them. It was a process which was very thought provoking and not taken lightly. Afterwards, even though it was hard I was not sorry to have done it.” The couple had decided long before the deed was done, that they would do it in the most humane way possible and so chose to do it themselves, on their own land. This is allowed, if the meat is to be for your own consumption and not sold. They bought a stun gun, to prevent the pigs from feeling pain and a killing knife which Ed Yallop pushed into the skin at the base of the neck, just above the breastbone. He had read up about it extensively and practised the necessary moves and the couple watched an animal die in front of them for the first time. “It leaves a deep impression. You are killing something the size of a man and it is a big undertaking. It was also physically exhausting and we came to understand why whole communities used to come together to kill the pig. “It is in winter when days are short and you do not have much daylight to butcher it afterwards. When you open up the pig it is very difficult to know exactly what is what, and where to make the cuts. It was a huge learning experience but it turned out well. Our main concern was that it was humane.” Big Pig was the first to be killed. It is too big a job to slaughter and then butcher two pigs on one day. The plan was to kill Little Pig a few days later, but it was just before Christmas when family were

arriving and Little Pig was lonely, and kept escaping despite the fully charged electric fence. Having a 170kg pig wandering around the garden with guests soon to arrive was not an option and as time was running out, the couple had to take him to the abattoir rather than kill him themselves. A difficult decision, but they felt, an unavoidable one. I wondered if at any time the experience might have made her want to be a vegetarian: “I can understand that some people might come to that conclusion but in fact the experience confirmed what I had thought all along. If you are going to eat meat, it is important to know that the animal has had a good life. It is better to eat less meat and to value it and not regard it as something cheap to be consumed that you find on a supermarket shelf. “I know now how to value meat because I know how much has gone into producing it, both from the part of the producer and from the animal itself. It really confirmed a direction I was already heading towards. I must also say that the meat we got was fantastic and worth all the effort.” She says pork is regarded as a cheap meat and though most people are now aware of free-range chickens, fewer think about pig factory farming: “Now I have realised just how fabulous pigs are it is particularly hard for me to think about them being kept in poor conditions and so I am careful about the meat I buy.” The experience helped the couple integrate in their village: “Pigs were kept by most families in the not very distant past and so there was a certain nostalgia for that and people were pleased to see our

Trending 9

July 2018 I French Living A warm welcome from Izmir awaits at the Café des Chats in Paris

pigs. They would come to see them and it was always a talking point and they gave us plenty of advice. The local people were fantastic and we were very grateful for all their help.” It also showed them how hard the traditional rural way of life used to be: “It really does bring it home in a physical sense, that not all that long ago farming life was tough. We tend to romanticise it quite a lot, but it was in fact hard. It is still an agricultural area here, but things have obviously changed. For one thing you don’t see pigs in every farm.” She thinks if you have the dream to live the rural life, it is worth the doing: “All you can do is learn from it. You may decide in the end that you would prefer to have the freedom to go away when you want to without being tied to the house by animals but hopefully you will have had the pleasure of being with the animals and afterwards, you really appreciate the food on your plate.” In the book the tale of their pigs is interwoven with the rural and social history of pigs in both the UK and France and shows the fascination humans have always had for this endearing creature. Social history has always been a fascination for Jacqueline Yallop. She has a PhD in nineteenth century literature and culture, and has worked as a museum curator in Manchester and Sheffield. In France she finds plenty of inspiration for her writing. One of her novels, Obedience was inspired by the closing of the convent in her village, which dis-

rupted the settled life there. It is about a once-bustling convent in the South of France which in its last days only houses three elderly nuns. One of them recalls her life during the war and her secret love affair with a young Nazi soldier, and the novel explores the themes of what is right and wrong in love. She is currently working on a new novel set in wartime France. “I think there are many reasons why France is a good place for British authors to write. You can have the space and time here to put pen to paper. I, personally have been fascinated by the impact the Second World War had on small villages in France and I think that because I was not brought up here, I have a certain distance from the events which gives you an objectivity and allows creative possibilities. If I had always lived here the stories I find fascinating, might not have appeared out of the ordinary and interesting.” After the pig experience, and a period living full time in France, she started working at Aberystwyth University and so spends most of term time in Wales. She says there are advantages to having homes in both countries: “I think I am very fortunate because Wales too is very beautiful and rural. It rains a lot though so if I want some sunshine I can come to France. I gain a lot from both places and can have the best of both worlds and it works very well for me. Big Pig, Little Pig, A Year on a Smallholding in South-West France by Jacqueline Yallop, Penguin paperback €9.99 ISBN 978-0-241-97715-6

Relax over a coffee and cake... with feline friends Every edition we assess an aspect of the French zeitgeist. This month: the trend for cafés full of feline friends, by Jane Hanks


T Jacqueline’s pig rearing gave her a much greater appreciation for both the animals and the food on her plate

he latest trend in cafés will appeal if you love a cuddle with a cat as you can now enjoy a drink, a snack or a meal in one of the many Neko Cafés or Café des Chats springing up in towns all over France. The first opened in Paris in 2013, but now they are to be found in Marseille, Nice, Avignon, Narbonne, Perpignan, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes to name but a few. The concept originated in the Far East in the nineties in Taiwan. It became popular very quickly, especially with Japanese tourists and soon there were Neko cafés in Japan. Neko is Japanese for cat. In both Korea and Japan there are now sheep, meerkat, racoon, rabbit, dog, owl and even snake cafés. The first Café des Chats to open in France is so popular customers sometimes have to queue outside to get a place. Its owner is Margaux Gandelon, who told Connexion she opened her restaurant to combine her two passions, her love of animals and cooking: “I had heard of the Neko cafés in the Far East but there I think they have a different approach where the animals are seen as objects and you pay per hour of your visit. I wanted a place which operates like a normal restaurant, but where there are cats and you can enjoy their company.” Her cats come from animal welfare associations to whom she also gives a part of her profits. At any one time she has between 12 and 13 cats: “It is the associations who choose the cats who come to me because they can observe them and pick the ones which get on well with other cats and with people as that is very important. “The cats live in the restaurant but have rooms where the public cannot go, one with their litter and one just for them. Of course they cannot go in the cooking area and we have regular hygiene checks. “The cats have 150m² of space available to them and plenty of high places to climb to and perch on. They stay here at night and we can check if there is a problem with surveillance cameras. If ever we have a cat which is not happy in this environment we find a family to adopt it and let it move on.”

She says she has many different kinds of clients: “They are all animal lovers of course and are of all ages. Some live in the city after a life in the country and miss having pets. We have lots of visitors from abroad who have left their cats at home. “However, we can never guarantee that you will be able to have a cat on your lap when you are here. They lead their own lives and we tell clients that it is important not to wake them up if they are sleeping and that they must never feed them.” The advantage for the clients she says is that the animal’s presence creates a special kind of atmosphere which is relaxing. The Maison d’Elise in Nantes has five cats, but these are special ones as they are Maine Coon and bigger than most domestic cats. Elise Jeantet has always been passionate about this race and though she had never been in the catering business before, she took the plunge and opened the Maison

Enjoy an organic tea or coffee, sit in a comfortable chair and read a book with a cat by your side, purring contentedly

d’Elise in 2015, after hearing about the Café des Chats in Paris. She says she has loved the experience: “Maine Coon are very special because they are dog-like cats who are devoted to their owners and they are calm, so ideal for this kind of venture. “They come home with me in the evening, but are happy to be back in their second home during the day. “You can come to my café and enjoy an organic tea or coffee accompanied by a home-made cake, sit in a comfortable chair and read a book with a cat by your side, purring contentedly, which will make you feel good too.”

10 July What’s on

French Living I July 2018

In Brittany they party like it’s 1399 Josselin Medieval Festival, July 14

Photos: LAMOUREUX Alexandre

The small and perfectly formed Breton town of Josselin (Morbihan) is perfectly set up for a medieval festival, with its castle (still lived in by members of the legendary Rohan family) and half-timbered houses providing an authentic olde-world backdrop for some dressing-up antics and historically accurate role-play. There is something to tickle the armour of all family members, from parades and jousting to archery and bird shows. There are also horsemen, fencers, troubadours, jugglers and acrobats and more to entertain. First-timers should head to the Gothic Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier – climb up to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views over the area. www.medieval-josselin.com

More July events Linen Festival, July 6-8

Pyrotechnic arts festival, Cannes, throughout July and August Watch firework magicians work wonders with a series of choreographed spectacles at 10pm in the bay of Cannes. Creativity, technology and high precision combine for an audio-visual feast. Shows on the 400-metre waterfront, are enjoyed by 200,000 spectators every evening, massed all along the Croisette. Taking place on July 14,21,29 and August 7,15 and 24. Get there early, not only for a parking spot but to get a good view. www.festival-pyrotechnique-cannes.com Festival d’Avignon, July 6-24 The historic Vaucluse city’s streets and buildings are transformed into sets and stages, as an estimated 130,000 people enjoy all kind of performances – from comedy and theatre to contemporary art shows. Strongly recommended to all performing arts lovers, this is one of France’s most enjoyable and eclectic festivals. www.festival-avignon.com/en

Renamed for 2018 as the Festival of Linen and Artistic Fibre, this homage to all things linen sees over 30 sites across Normandy (centred round Le BourgDun) put on displays, fashion shows, factory visits and other events. For just €10 visitors can get a weekend pass. Download a PDF containing details of all events for this 37th running of the festival from the website. www.festivaldulin.org Tour de France, July 7-29 One of the most famous sporting events in the world was first held in 1903. Now it features the world’s best cyclists in a three-week race and more than 10million spectators behind the barriers watching the race. This year it sets off from the island of Noirmoutier in Vendée and takes in locations such as Quimper, Chartres and Carcassonne. (See our culinary Tour de France on page 14.) www.letour.fr

Francofolies, La Rochelle, July 11-15 Among France’s best loved rock, pop and chanson festivals, Francofolies has been going since 1985, with new artists always among the priority bookings. With the stunning port and its towers as a backdrop, the location could not be more spectacular, while the line up each year is always top-notch. Among the performers in 2018 will be Véronique Sanson and Charlotte Gainsbourg. www.francofolies.fr Days of the Rose, Doué la Fontaine, Maine-et-Loire, July 13-16 Doué la Fontaine is a hotbed of rose growing – some seven million blooms are cultivated here each year and since 1959, local rose gardeners have organised a presentation of their floral triumphs in a troglodyte underground gallery next to the town’ ancient stone arena. The shiny rocks make a perfect backdrop to showcase the beautifully presented blooms. www.journeesdelarose.com/

Bastille Day, nationwide, July 14 The French national holiday is celebrated in style across the country. Formal, official festivities take place in Paris, with a military parade from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde – passing through the Champs-Elysées. Fireworks will also light up the night sky in most towns and cities, and there will be concerts and celebrations. The day after Bastille Day the World Cup final takes place – will France be playing? Nice Jazz Festival, July 16-21 Nice is one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe (this year marks its 70th anniversary), and has become one of the most important international cultural events on the Côte d’Azur. The festival features a range of wellknown artists from jazz and other genres, this year including Aloe Blacc, Kyle Eastwood Quintet, Jack Johnson, Gregory Porter and Massive Attack. www.nicejazzfestival.fr/en Rodin and Dance, Paris until July 22 A last chance to see one of the hit art shows of the year at the Musée Rodin in Paris. The sculptor’s fascination with dance was borne out by his encounters with leading dancers of the time, such as Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, and the dancers of the Cambodian royal ballet. Looking at Rodin’s research and experimentation into the subject, the exhibition examines the links between the artists and brings together more than 50 works of the artistic body frozen in time. www.musee-rodin.fr The Rose Empire, Lens, until July 23 With scenography designed by Christian Lacroix, the Louvre-Lens Museum presents the very first retrospective in continental Europe dedicated to the magnificent art of the Qajar dynasty, the glorious sovereigns who ruled Iran from 1786 to 1925. This overview brings together paintings, drawings, jewellery, enamels, photographs and ceremonial weapons. www.louvrelens.fr

Les Nuits de Fourvière, Lyon, until July 28 Since 1946, Les Nuits de Fourvière has been bringing together the disciplines of theatre, music, dance, opera, circus and cinema every summer, and this year will see 60 performances in the spectacular Gallo-Roman theatres of Fourvière. www.nuitsdefourviere.com Rencontres d’Arles, until September 24 The charming Bouches-du-Rhône city comes alive with photography as more than 60 exhibitions spring up. The works of art are created by home-grown and international artists, with both classic and up-and-coming, contemporary snappers’ works on display. www.rencontres-arles.com Diego Giacometti at Musée Picasso, until November 3 The exhibition Diego Giacometti at the Picasso Museum is an opportunity to explore the genesis of the commission given to the Swiss sculptor – younger brother of the better known Alberto Giacometti – for the inauguration of the Picasso National Museum in 1985. The 50 collected pieces, composed of chairs, benches, lights and tables, were created exclusively for the Hotel Salé, a fine building to visit in its own right. www.museepicassoparis.fr Painting the races, Domaine de Chantilly, until October 14 One for horse lovers! Domaine de Chantilly will host its first exhibition devoted to the birth and the development of horse racing art. Some 70 artworks (paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and films) will illustrate the way the sport was used as a barometer of modernity, in both England and France, from the late 18th to the late 19th century. The exhibition revolves around three major artists: George Stubbs, Théodore Géricault, and Edgar Degas. www.domainedechantilly.com/en

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 When art does not depict real life A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in French cultural life 1. Romy with a view A fictionalised account of actress Romy Schneider has been slammed by her daughter, Sarah Biasini. 3 days in Quiberon depicts Schneider convalescing following a split from her husband in 1981. A journalist from German magazine Stern interviews her during her stay.

the village on June 10 1944, when 642 villages and passers by were executed. Das Reich soldiers were said to be looking for a Nazi believed captured by local resistance forces. The extraordinary village has remained just as it was left that day, as a memorial to the murdered.


3. Bretons not amused by reappearance of Bécassine When a new family-friendly film called Bécassine came out at the end of June, there was one region of France where it was not especially welcomed: Brittany. The reason? The titular character, from an early 20th century comic strip, is a Breton housemaid depicted as simple-minded and backward. In the film, she heads to Paris and is the butt of many jokes and much ridicule – in one scene, she is not even able to use a telephone. One Breton independence group called for film-goers to boycott the comedy, saying the film was ‘an insult to all Breton women’. “We are not asking for the film to be banned, but we are calling on the whole of Brittany society to boycott it so that Parisian producers can think about it next time,” said Ewan

“The film contains multiple insinuations and innuendos that are totally misleading,” said Biasini, referring to the references to alcohol misuse. “She was just at a thalasso, not a detox centre. I want people to stop making money from lies.” Vienna-born Schneider held French and German citizenship, and was one of Europe’s leading actresses, and remains a revered cinematic figure in France. She died in 1982 aged 43. The Franco-Iranian director of 3 days in Quiberon, Emily Atef, said that while she used some parts of the Stern interview as source material, she wrote other aspects. “I needed that freedom from real events to reach the character’s truth,” she said in the film’s press release.

Photo: Christophe Grémiot

Equestria horse festival, July 24–29 In keeping with its long-standing equestrian traditions (the national stud here was created by Napoleon in 1806), the city of Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées, lays on its annual festival for horse lovers. The originality of Equestria lies in the fact that it is not merely a horse show but a friendly, family festival, dedicated to equestrian art in all its forms. More than 300 horses and nearly 500 equestrian and artistic performers rub shoulders during the day in the festival ‘village’, where visitors can browse and buy horse riding equipment, saddlery, arts and crafts, jewellery and equestrian gifts. Every evening the gala La Nuit des Créations brings a new meaning the word horseplay, as the world’s leading equestrian performers put on dazzling displays of man and beast in perfect harmony. www.festivalequestria.com

2. Oradour survivor’s notes published The memoirs of a survivor of the Nazi massacre in the village of Oradour-surGlane in Haute-Vienne have been published for the first time in full, after Mathieu Borie’s son gave his permission. However, some have called the stonemason’s testimony – written in school notebooks a few weeks after he escaped from a firebombed building – ‘questionable’, with the village’s former mayor, Raymond Frugier, refusing to write the book’s preface. He believes some of the diary notes, including the assertion that the village was hiding resistance fighters, cannot be confirmed without further hard evidence. Only six people escaped the razing of


Photo: TwoWings, edit by Calibas

Photo: Prokino Filmverleih GmbH

Photos: Facebook/Equestria

July 2018 I French Living

Thébaud from Dispac’h, a collective that is “independentist, anti-capitalist, feminist, ecologist and internationalist”. Although Bécassine was one of the first ever female protagonists in BD (bande dessinnée) she did not even have a mouth. She is still widely available in doll form and featured on an official La Poste stamp in 2005, marking the centenary since her first appearance in the girl’s magazine La Semaine de Suzette.

La Roque-D’Anthéron Piano festival, until August 18 As settings for piano concerts go, the foliage-shrouded stage at Château de Florans in La Roque-d’Anthéron, Bouches-duRhône, is among the most eye-catching in France... and the acoustics are great, too. Set in the heart of the grounds, surrounded by 365 plane trees and centu-

ries-old sequoias, the clearing is transformed into an oasis where summer evenings come alive for the international piano festival – now in its 38th year. The eclectic roster of music includes classical, contemporary, jazz and electronic and all types of artists, with emerging talents performing alongside the greatest international piano players. There are a series of free concerts in the village, notably four on August 15. www.festival-piano.com

Comic strip: DR


12 Recipes

French Liv

The season of abundan Cookery school owner Marjorie Taylor reveals what makes a foodie summer in Burgundy and presents two sun-kissed seasonal recipes


ummertime in Burgundy is a season of abundance. The cool, rainy spring gives way to hot, sunny days and balmy evenings. The rolling farmland surrounding Beaune is lush and green, dotted with sunflower fields, and the vineyards are full of grapes awaiting harvest. The market is at its busiest, full of vendors and shoppers, and the surrounding village marchés aux puces (flea markets) are bustling. The market overflows with fresh produce: plump eggplants, striped green zucchini and yellow pattypan squash, speckled lemon cucumbers, fennel and green onions, bunches of peppery roquette, and all different varieties of basil. There are piles of red- and yellow-stemmed Swiss chard, crisp heads of lettuce, fragrant Charentais melons, sweet peaches, and rose-tinged white nectarines. We buy perfectly ripe berries – redcurrants, blackberries, white and red raspberries, blueberries, and wild woodland strawberries – to make into fruit tarts, and bouquets of sunflowers and daisies for the shop. We eagerly await the arrival of heirloom tomatoes, grown in every colour and shape imaginable. They are so flavourful that you need little more than a sprinkle of fleur de sel and a drizzle of good French olive oil to make them into a meal. Summer meals aren’t cooked so much as they are assembled: composed salads, chilled soups, grilled meats, and vegetables find their place at our table. Desserts are simple and based around fresh fruit. We take advantage of the warm weather by eating outdoors as much as possible. Though Burgundy is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in the summertime, we enjoy drinking dry, pale rosé from the South of France. Summer is the busiest season of the year for us. When we’re not shopping at the market, teaching classes, or working in the potager, we are preserving the summer’s bounty, allowing us to savor the flavours of summer all year long. Sunflower picnic In the height of summer, when Burgundy’s sunflower fields begin to bloom in mid-July, we all carve out one special day on a weekend to make an annual journey. We pack a lunch and a few bottles of rosé in Madeleine, our quirky, but iconic vintage Citroën 2CV and quintessential picnic car, and head out to find the perfect spot in the sunflower fields. Picnicking is the ultimate French pastime and the French take their picnics very seriously. They’ll find any and every excuse to pack a blanket, a baguette, some cheese, and a bottle of wine to enjoy outdoors when the weather warms up and the sun is shining bright. And so, we join in, too, and have happily embraced this intentional outing. Our

picnic menu is always simple, emphasizing the abundance of summer, and is easy to transport. It’s become a memorable and much-anticipated tradition. SUPPER IN THE VINES Living in Burgundy, everything is connected to wine, as the town of Beaune is quite literally surrounded by vines. To celebrate the long days of summer, we’ve often thought about how beautiful a dinner in the vineyards could be. So, we hatched a plan to throw a sunset barbecue in a vineyard for thirty of our closest friends. We soon realized, however, that hosting a supper amidst the vines in Burgundy is not quite that simple.

We eagerly await the arrival of heirloom tomatoes, grown in every colour

These small parcels of land are privately owned and highly prized, and the idea of throwing a dinner in one of these noble vignobles (vineyards) is not something anyone would usually think to do. But we kept envisioning this beautiful vineyard dinner in our minds, and contacted a few winemaker friends to present the idea. After scouting the possible options, a Grand Cru vineyard coowned by a very good friend of ours and Jean-Nicolas Méo of Domaine Méo-Camuzet, was the vineyard of choice. Somehow, we convinced

both of them to let us proceed with our far-fetched plan. Over the years, we’ve gotten comfortable with organizing and hosting large dinner parties. But it took quite a bit of planning to orchestrate a dinner of this magnitude outside the comfort of our atelier, not to mention without a kitchen. We managed to pull it off, though, with the help of a few willing friends. We began the preparation several days before the party, and made sure to create a menu including some items that could be prepared ahead of time. The day of the event, we rented a big truck and loaded long wooden tables and Tolix chairs from the shop. We packed countless boxes of our tableware, French linens, candles, and all the necessary items we would need to prepare a dinner for thirty onsite. There were buckets of fresh market flowers from Madame Loichet and cases and cases of wine. We set up a makeshift grill, made out of an old steel barrel, just down the vineyard road. As the sun set, we lit the candles and the guests began to arrive. We offered them chilled glasses of bubbly and, as they mingled, we set to work preparing our simple menu. We served each course with one of Jean-Nicolas’s wines, and the main course was paired with wine from the very vineyard where the dinner party was held. In true French fashion, the guests lingered well into the night, enjoying wine and conversation by candlelight. We look back on this very special, and probably once-ina-lifetime summertime evening, and have to laugh. As well prepared as we were, even down to the smallest of details, neither of us took into consideration just how long the party would go on, and that we would have to pack everything up by moonlight.

Chilled Zucchini Soup This chilled summer zucchini soup becomes light and velvety, thanks to the addition of butter and a little cream. It can be served hot or cold, but we prefer it cold with a tiny dollop of savoury whipped cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped garden chives and lemon zest to brighten the flavours. This soup is best served on the day you make it. We enjoy serving this soup as an amuse-bouche in vintage glassware..

The Cook’s Atelier: Recipes, Techniques, and Stories from Our French Cooking School by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini (Abrams, £35.00). Photographs by Anson Smart

and th salt an the zuc minute raise th bring i reduci the zuc 15 min bouqu

Ingredients, serves 6-8 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2½ pounds (1.2 kg) zucchini, cut into very thin rounds 1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay) Fleur de sel and black pepper 960ml vegetable stock 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream Finely chopped fresh chives Pinch of lemon zest Fruity extra-virgin olive oil

2. Fill a b date a and wa the sou until sm a chino Stir in the col the bo stirring chilled then st heavy balloon ½ cup holds s

Method 1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini

3. Divide bowls glasses the sav with th with o

In season 13

ving I July 2018

he bouquet garni, season with nd pepper, and sauté until cchini starts to soften, about 2 tes. Add the vegetable stock, he heat to medium-high, and it to a simmer. Simmer gently, ing the heat, as needed, until cchini is very tender, about nutes. Remove and discard the uet garni.

bowl large enough to accomm 2-quart (2-L) container with ice ater. Working in batches, ladle up into a blender and puree it mooth. Strain the soup through ois into a 2-quart (2-L) container. the lemon juice to help preserve lour. Place the container inside owl of ice water and let it cool, ng occasionally, until completely d. Taste and season as needed, tir in ½ cup (120 ml) of the cream. In a large bowl, use a on whisk to beat the remaining p (120 ml) of heavy cream until it soft peaks. Set aside.

e the soup among six to eight (or six to eight small vintage s) and top each with a dollop of voury whipped cream. Sprinkle he chives and lemon zest, drizzle olive oil, and serve immediately.

Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, Pan bagnat is made by slicing a boule (a rustic round loaf of bread common in France) in half and layering it with a green salad dressed in Anchovy Vinaigrette, boiled eggs, seared tuna, capers, and tomatoes. Ingredients, serves 8 120ml fruity extra-virgin olive oil, preferably French, plus more for drizzling 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3 cloves garlic, smashed Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper 4 (115g-140g) sushi-grade tuna steaks, 4 cm thick Handful of green beans, ends trimmed 1 small bunch of radishes 1 cup (155 g) pitted Niçoise olives 60ml Anchovy Vinaigrette (4 salted anchovy fillets, 6 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil, preferably French and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, black pepper) 8 small or 2 large country boules, or rustic round loaves of bread Handful of mesclun or baby lettuce 4 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into ½-inch- (12-mm-) thick rounds 4 large hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges ¼ cup (30 g) salt-packed capers, rinsed Handful of fresh basil leaves Method 1. In a gratin dish large enough to hold the tuna steaks in a single layer, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Place the tuna steaks in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 1 hour. 2. Blanch and shock the green beans to preserve their colour and drain on a clean kitchen towel. Thinly slice the radishes lengthwise using a stainless-steel vegetable peeler. 3. Heat a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove the tuna steaks from the marinade and place them directly in the pan. Sear, flipping once, until browned on the outside but still rare on the inside, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer them to a cutting board and cut into thin slices. 4. In a large bowl, combine the green beans, radishes, and olives. Drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette, and gently stir to evenly coat. 5. Slice the boules in half horizontally. Drizzle both insides with a little olive oil. Layer the mesclun, tomatoes, tuna, eggs, and green bean mixture on the bottom slices of bread and top with the capers and basil. Season with salt and pepper, finish with the sandwich tops, and serve.

En saison: What to put on your plate in July Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality... French seasonal basket Fruit Apricot, blackcurrant, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, melon, tomato blackberry, blueberry, nectarine, plum watermelon, peach, pear, apple. In focus: nectarine Nectarines appeared in France in the 1970s. Originally believed to have been grown in China, the fruit comes from a natural mutation of peach – from which it differs by the nature of the skin: the peach is fluffy while the nectarine is smooth. Its name is said to come from its delicate flavour resembling nectar. As with peaches, there are yellow nectarines and white nectarines, so choose fruits that are fragrant, soft to the touch and blemish-free. The label “Pêche de nos régions” – formerly “Pêche d’ici” – which covers both peaches and nectarines, guarantees the origin of the fruit (South-East France). Nectarines should preferably be kept out of the refrigerator because the cold taints their taste.

A seasonal recipe: courgette rolls with fresh goat cheese and basil Ingredients: 2 courgettes, 200g fresh goat cheese, 1/2 bunch basil, 100 g pitted green olives, 50g dried tomatoes, 6 tablespoons olive oil. Wash the courgettes and slice them with the skin lengthwise into strips about 4mm thick. Brush a baking tray with olive oil, add the courgette, salt and cook for 15 minutes in the oven at 180°C. Mix the olives, dried tomatoes and basil, add the olive oil and fresh goat cheese, pepper. Spread the courgette strips with this mixture and roll them up. Serve chilled with basil leaves.

Fish, shellfish and crustaceans Sea bream, haddock, lobster, Norway lobster, pollock, mackerel, whiting, red mullet, John Dory, sardine, albacore tuna, crab, mussels (from mid-July).

Images: Fotolia


Niçoise Pan Bagnat


Artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, chard, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, courgette, spinach, fennel, beans, green beans, lettuce, lentil, corn, mesclun, onion, sorrel, leek, peas, pepper, potato, radish.

Focus on: crabs There are approximately 4,000 varieties of crab. The name crab includes several species of the crustacean family, some of which are edible. Marine crabs have the characteristic of being decapods (five pairs of legs). Among the most consumed species in France are the brown crab (the largest), the spider crab (with a very fine flesh similar to that of lobster), the velvet crab (smaller but with a particularly tasty flesh) and the green crab used mainly in soups. For our artisan cheese pick, see page 15

14 Food

French Living I July 2018

Take a gastronomic Tour de France This July’s Tour de France heads across the top and bottom of France. Jane Hanks tracks their route with her culinary hat on

Martine Bridier, spokesperson for Food and Wine Tourism in the area suggests a typical meal from the region could be: Green Puy Lentil salad Quenelles with Nantua Sauce Cheese plate: Beaufort, Reblochon, Saint-Nectaire, Picodon, Cantal. Fruit from Vallée du Rhône orchards. The Quenelles Sauce Nantua are one of the specialities from Lyon, which calls itself the World City of Gastronomy. The quenelles are made with pike and the classic béchamel sauce, named after the town of Nantua in the Ain, is flavoured with crayfish. That should give the cyclists enough energy to continue on to Carcassonne, where the traditional dish on offer is cassoulet. The key to its success is to cook it for a long time, at least four hours. The main ingredients are white beans, grown locally. Traditionally these are cooked with goose or duck confit, pork shank, chunky Toulouse sausages, herbs, garlic and nutmeg. The dish is named after its traditional cooking pot, the cassou.

Photos: Terre Côte Basques; J.L Chauveau; S.Bourcier_Vendee_Expansion; Jessica Spengler


s this year’s Tour de France wends its way around the country we take a look at the gastronomic delights of the regions it passes through. This year it is very nearly 100% French with only a tiny 15km detour into Spain. Le Grand Départ is on July 7 on the Ile de Noirmoutier in the Vendée, where the most expensive potatoes in the world are grown. These are the small, round Bonnotte potatoes which chefs seek out for their subtle chestnut flavour. The production of this old variety was relaunched in 1995, and a year later it was put up for auction, as a marketing gimmick, at the Hôtel Drouot, which specialises in art collections. 5 kilos sold for 15,000 francs or €2,286 euros – €457 euros a kilo. The cyclist could savour these pricey potatoes together with the emblematic white bean, the Mogette which is traditionally served with butter and can be eaten with the Jambon de Vendée. Unlike many other hams it is pressed, which makes it rectangular in shape and as a result the drying stage is short. It is cured with salt, and flavoured with a wine based eau de vie, cinnamon, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Préfou is the local aperitif. It is a flattened dough which was originally used to make use of the otherwise empty bread oven as it was coming up to temperature. It is served with butter and rubbed with garlic. The name comes from préfour, pre-oven. Brioche is the other speciality which comes from the Vendée bakeries. It has been eaten in the region since the Middle Ages. It is typically sweet and flavoured with eau de vie and/or orange flower water and plaited in form. There is a tradition a bride would be offered an enormous brioche weighing up to 30 kilos. For protein, the 250km coastline provides plenty of seafood, with sardines from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, which were the first wild fish to be awarded the Label Rouge, which marks it as superior to other comparable products. Monkfish, turbot, hake, whiting, sole, lobsters, crabs, oysters and mussels are among some of the highly prized catches. All of this can be enjoyed with the wines of the area which are mostly grown in the South of the department, and there are five distinct terroirs: Brem-sur-Mer, Chantonnay, Mareuil-sur-Lay, Pissotte and Vix which make up the Fiefs Vendéens which have had an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 2011. Cider and seafood in Brittany Brittany is associated above all with pancakes and cider. But the region would like to make it clear that these are not its only specialities and that here too riders can boost their protein levels with seafood. As well as oysters and mussels there are unusual foody treats from the sea: Huile de homard from the Ile de Groix is made

using lobster, grape seed oil and herbs and spices; smoked scallops caught in the bay off Saint-Brieuc; the only farmed abalone shell fish in Europe; and from the rivers come the biggest production of trout in France and a Brittany caviar, the orange coloured trout eggs. The traditional meat dish is Kig ha farz, the Breton version of pot-au-feu. It is made up of pork cooked with vegetables and served with a farz, a buckwheat-based dough cooked in a cloth bag. There is a strong tradition of market gardening, with of course onions, but also artichokes, cauliflowers, potatoes and carrots grown in sand. The desserts are calorie-laden, so good for sporty cyclists. There’s the famous Kouign-amann which is made with a butter and sugar rich pastry, and le Far Breton, a simple but basic recipe with flour, eggs, milk, butter and sugar, which often has plums in it. However, pancakes will do for both savoury and sweet courses, and each crêperie has its special recipe depending on quantities of eggs, milk and flour which can either be buckwheat or wheat and the thickness it is cooked. In Lower Brittany both wheat and buckwheat pancakes are called crêpe, but in Higher Brittany those made with buckwheat are savoury and called galettes. Brittany is the second biggest producer of cider after Normandy. It is often served in big earthenware cups. It will be a quick tour through the Centre Val de Loire region with a stage ending at Chartres and the Dreux to Amiens stage. This region is known for its cheeses such as the soft, creamy Feuille de Dreux, recognised by the chestnut leaf which was originally placed to stop cheeses from sticking together. There is also the Chartres pie, which is made with game

This year’s tour de France route map and culinary treats available en route with clockwise, from top left: sardines from Vendée, an Alpine fondue; Puy lentils from Auvergne; and red peppers from Basque country

and the Tours Nougat cake made with apricots and candied fruit. A quick stop in the Hauts de France with the Arras to Roubaix stage (July 15). Local specialities in Arras are andouillette sausages, chicken cooked in beer, moules-frites, the emblematic dish eaten at the annual huge flea market in Lille and mint flavoured sweets known as Les Bêtises de Cambrai. The cyclists will spend some time in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which has a gastronomic reputation for both its wines and its food, in particular cheese for which it has nearly half the AOP cheeses in France, including Reblochon and Beaufort. There are Puy lentils, the famous Bresse chicken, the top producer of mineral water including Volvic and Evian. Wines include Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône and the Vins de Savoie. Dishes with altitude The cyclists will pass through the mountains of Savoie and Haute-Savoie where the food is simple, but satisfying after a days sport, be it skiing, climbing or cycling and nearly always featuring cheese. There could be a Fondue Savoyarde – the recipe given on the Savoie-Mont Blanc tourism web site uses four cheeses; Comté, Etivaz, Beaufort and Abondance and white, sparkling wine from Ayse. There is a pasta dish, with a rich Beaufort cheese and crème fraiche sauce and the local tiny squared shaped pasta called crozets. Tartiflette with potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions, potatoes served with Abondance cheese and white wine, baked in the oven; and if you want to get away from cheese, the Savoyard sausages called diots. The local dessert is le gateau de Savoie, a quite plain cake with 200g sugar, 75g flour, 75g cornflour, one lemon and butter.

Pyrenees and Basque country The Pyrenees have their own mountain traditional recipes, to feed people up to keep out the cold. One is garbure; a soup which is a meal in itself made with a base of cabbage and potatoes, but with any other vegetable in season. Pork shanks, duck confit and ham are also added. The dish comes from Bigorre and is eaten both in summer and winter. As for the cassoulet, the longer it cooks, the better it is, and traditionally it was sometimes left to simmer for several days. The local dessert is the Gâteau à la Broche which is served at local festivities and which is made by layering the mixture of flour, eggs, butter, rum and vanilla little by little onto a horizontal and conical mould which is turned and cooked on a spit. They range from 10 to 65cm in height and weigh from 5 to 150kg. At Lourdes there is also La Touradisse, a cornmeal and milk dough made in copper pot, and stirred with a wooden pallet. It was the traditional evening bread but can be eaten as a dessert by frying the dough in butter sprinkled with brown sugar, then flambéed with rum. The last stop before Paris is the Basque country, which has not seen the Tour de France pass by since 2006. There the local people will be keen to serve up the ttoro, a traditional fish soup, made with what is in the nets that day. It used to be made on the boat by the fisherman. A similar dish is the marmitako, a fish stew with tuna as its base. The Piment d’Espelette, is only grown in a small area in the Basque country and the chilli peppers which decorate the outside of houses as they are left to dry in red strings are used in a Piperade made by frying the Espelette with onion and then mixed with tomatoes to produce a sauce. This is in turn used as a base for a veal stew called l’axoa. The local cheese is tangy and made from ewe’s milk and this can be accompanied by a glass of Basque cider which prides itself on being different from other ciders with very little fizz as no carbon dioxide is added. It loses most of its sugar and so is dry and a little bitter. To finish a typical Basque meal, you could have the Gâteau Basque, an almond pastry tart filled with a cream filling or cherry jam.

Wine and Cheese 15 Photos: Jonathan Hesford

July 2018 I French Living

Photo: Seine-Maritime Tourisme

Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons


e Jardin de l’Avenir, in SainteGemmes-sur-Loire (Maine-etLoire) was started in 1974 by the Petiteau family who, very unusually for the time, firmly believed in organic farming. Eschewing modern chemicals, they built up a market garden where people could pick their own fruit and vegetables all year round. The farm is still family-sized and family-orientated although since Jérôme Petiteau retired in 2006 it has been run by associate managers Loïc de Barmon, who deals with the farm, and Julien Tardy who manages the shop. “In 1974, when the Petiteau family started, only those considered nutters farmed organically,” says Loïc de Barmon. “But now, it’s a growing market. Every year, more and more people want organic produce, and people love the pick-your-own experience because it’s a more personal way of consuming. “It’s a rare experience these days, to go into a field, choose a marrow, pick it, take it home, cook it and eat it. But it’s wonderful because when you pick it yourself, you know it’s fresh, it’s was picked ripe. People like to know where their food comes from and who grew it.” He says that around 30% of their customers are families who want to show their children how fruit and vegetables are grown. It is not only educational but it encourages children to eat fruit and vegetables. “It’s so much better than trying to make kids eat frozen spinach!” he says. Most of their other customers are young retired people with the time and money to cook properly, who remember the taste of fresh produce from the past, and want this quality again. People don’t damage the crops, he says. “They are very respectful, perhaps because it’s an organic farm. Of course they eat a bit, that’s part of the pleasure and part of the experience, but sometimes children can’t resist gobbling strawberries, so we do a little bit of policing!” For customers without the time or energy to pick their own, all the produce is also available in the farm shop, along with a wide selection of other organic groceries. “You could do your entire week’s shop in there!” The shop and the pick-yourown garden are open all year round. To find a pick-your-own near you, try searching online for “ferme cueillette” plus the number of your département.

A small goat’s cheese with an average weight of 35grams, Rocamadour was formerly called Cabécou de Rocamadour, and has had an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 1996. Today, it is produced in the Causses du Quercy from unpasteurised whole goat’s milk, and can either be enjoyed while it is young – just 12-15 days sometimes, and eaten on hot toast with a drizzle of honey or saffron syrup – or left to mature and firm up. In which case, it is best eaten during the cheese course with red wine. There are about 30 producers in the Lot region around the village of Rocamadour where you can buy ‘at the gate’. Among the subtle flavours to look out for when tasting: juniper and hawthorn that local goats munch on.

Local speciality: Bêtise de Cambrai Photo: Bernard Leprêtre

Meet the producers

Artisan cheese of the month: Rocamadour

A bêtise is a silly mistake, and accidentally is exactly how this boiled sweet from Nord town of Cambrai was supposedly created by the son of a confectioner. Originally just made with a mint flavour, the range has expanded to include caramel and fruit flavours.

How will climate change affect wine?

It is not a mere question of hotter climes and stronger wines, says Jonathan Hesford A year in the vineyard


ost of us now accept that our climate is getting warmer, caused by human activities of one kind or another. What effect has this had on vineyards and wine and what does the future hold? I have read several articles in the mainstream media that suggest the increase in alcohol levels in wines is down to global warming. Harvest records show that since the 1980s, grapes have been ripening earlier in most wine regions of the world. However, going further back we see similar cycles in medieval times, before global warming. There are studies published which support and deny the effect of climate change on grape harvest dates. While there is some connection, it is not as clear-cut as we might imagine. Alcohol levels are determined primarily by the sugar content of the grapes at harvest. The riper the grapes, the more sugar and therefore the more potential alcohol during the fermentation. Grape ripening is increased by higher temperatures. The main factor is the

While climate change is one factor, consumer preference is the probably the biggest reason for higher alcohol wines

total number of degree-days during the growing season. So an increase in average temperatures will give higher sugar levels in the grapes, all things being equal. However, all things are not equal. In particular, vignerons have the choice of when to pick. So they could pick grapes earlier to avoid higher sugar levels. The yield of the vine, measured in kilograms per vine or hectolitres per hectare, also affects ripening because if the vine has fewer bunches to ripen, it can do so more easily. Growers can prune the vines in winter to produce fewer bunches of grapes, or drop bunches in summer to speed up ripening of the remaining bunches. Vines require water to photosynthesise and respire. If the vine lacks water, it will slow down its rate of respiration – very dry conditions can actually slow down ripening. So drought and heat can cancel each other out when it comes to ripeness. Vignerons who irrigate can avoid drought and advance ripening but note that irrigation is prohibited in France for AOP wines. So there are things that the vigneron can do to increase or decrease ripening, irrespective of climate. As grapes ripen, not only do they gain sugar, they lose acidity and more importantly, the skins lose their astringent and bitter tannins and replace them with fruitier, more rounded tannins. This is most important in red wines because the skins are included in the ferment, to extract colour and tannin. Therefore picking early or increasing yields can reduce alcohol levels but it can produce red wines which taste unripe and green, with unpleasantly astringent tannins as well as lacking colour and body. Unripe white wines would have

higher acidity and less body too. In the last 30 years, there has been a big move towards smooth, fruity red wines. In order to achieve smooth tannins, the skins of the grapes need to be very ripe or the wines need to be cellared for many years in bottle. Most consumers don’t want to wait years for their wines to mature. They want them smooth and drinkable while they are still young and fruity. Prominent wine critics, notably Robert Parker in the USA, have lavished praise on big, smooth, rich red wines. Wines which matched that style were given high scores and could raise their prices enormously and sell more quickly. Wine competitions will often award the best medals to wines with smooth tannins and big fruit flavours too. There have been many techniques designed to produce such wines across all price brackets. The first is to leave the grapes hanging in the vineyard longer so the skins become soft and lose any bitterness. New fungicides have reduced the risk of grapes rotting when left to hang into October and changes in climate which reduce harvest rains also permit this practice. So while climate change is one factor in increasing ripening, consumer preference, partly driven by influential critics, for big, ripe wines that can be enjoyed without long cellaring, is probably the biggest reason for higher alcohol wines on the market. 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.

16 Homes

French Living I July 2018

Comfort, nostalgia and all mod cons In her new book about Parisian interiors, Catherine Synave visits stylish homes in both vibrant and tranquil neighbourhoods, and finds an eclectic array of homes imbued with nostalgia or embracing bright modernism.


idden away in Paris are quiet, little-known byways, where apparently undistinguished facades conceal enchanting apartments. They seem to exist out of time, like an oasis of parkland amid the clamour of the city. The creak of an old staircase, the worn exposed beams of a former studio, the uneven glass of ancient windowpanes, and weathered oak floorboards extending into the kitchen all seem to remind us of familiar places filled with happy memories. The buildings of Paris have an inimitable allure. Their facades create the distinctive Parisian cityscape; their stone takes on a golden hue as evening falls; their tall windows are fronted by lacy balconies; their slate roofs gleam a soft gray beneath the shifting sky. The apartments that lie behind those walls – some imposing, some quite modest – reveal a distinctively Parisian way of life. Some have retained their historic splendour, a testimony to the heritage of the stately world of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some are filled with treasures from the past, while others are the setting for contemporary designs. They may be showplaces for collections, furnishings, and decorative objects patiently amassed from the auction houses and galleries that abound in the city. Many designers live in neighbourhoods traditionally frequented by artists and writers, and their apartments reflect a distinctive talent and savoir faire. Elsewhere, an unassuming doorway leads to a vast loft, a skilfully reconfigured space that conveys a taste for restraint and simplicity. Other dwellings are suffused with a sense of nostalgia, tranquil havens that recall times gone by. Feel-good homes The pale pastels that cover these walls and floors have an undeniable appeal – soft shades of blue, lavender, pale green, and yellows so light as to be almost indiscernible. The wallpapers – whether original or reproductions – feature floral motifs in delicate little patterns suited to the interior of a country house. The modest furnishings blend discreetly into the subdued decor. Some articles are tributes to bygone artisanal skills –handcrafted pieces, polished on innumerable occasions, that have acquired the patina of time. Other pieces have been passed down from generation to generation: soft sofas piled with worn cushions, lamps bedecked with prisms, armoires whose paint is worn by the passage of time. Other furnishings might hail from a château or from a cinema, making their own contri-

bution to our dreams and flights of fancy. Cotton, linen, muslin, and lace – fabrics play an essential role with their faded hues. Silks are often richly embroidered, and the old velvets that cover the windows and seats are exquisitely light and soft. Treasured objects, new and old, mingle together unselfconsciously, making their own statements. Some are found at a flea market or thrift store; others are bought during travels further afield. They respond to a very real yearning for memories of happy moments from the past, diffusing a certain sense of nostalgia that pervades rooms perfumed with flowers, whatever the season. Featured property: Near the Pont d’Alma A few steps away from the Seine, Michelle Joubert – an interior designer who divides her time between Paris and Venice – has reimagined the conventions of a Haussmann-era building. She colour-washed the walls in pale ochre, selected the furniture and accessories with no preconceived ideas, and took her time finding the right place for each of them. A careful blend of genres and styles gives the living room (top) a timeless appeal. The room’s large scale accommodates an imposing vitrine arranged to suggest a cabinet of curiosities, capacious Italian and English armchairs, a sculptor’s modelling base deployed as a coffee table, a monumental head, and a giant clam shell. In the background, the curtain in a small adjacent room can be glimpsed. Elsewhere in the living room, facing the vitrine in a flawlessly symmetrical arrangement, the mirror’s frame and trumeau (far right) are painted a subtle off-white that elegantly complements the grey mantelpiece. And the kitchen(above right) has been modernized from top to bottom, with matte black paint that contrasts with the gleaming tile splashback.

Get the look Steal the Parisian style of interior designer Michelle Joubert’s apartment with these French high street buys. Prices and availability correct at time of going to press. Sofa so good Michelle goes for English and Italian fauteuils (armchairs) but a French one from La Redoute is just as comfy and chic. This oversized, off-white one is called Neo Chiquito and at time of going to press was 20% off online (€760.90) www.laredoute.fr Don’t bust the bank Reproduction busts in plaster are a cheap alternative to original stone works, with companies such as Décorer avec Art selling a range of figures from Apollo (right, 15x55cm, €125) to Alexander the Great to Venus de Milo. decorarconarte.com

From A Home in Paris, Flammarion 2018. Photography by Guillaume de Laubier

Splashback chic Dark splashback kitchen tiles (carrelage mural) lend urban cool to your cuisine. These Parisien Noir ones mimic métro tiles (7.5x15cm), price €20.50 per sqm. www.parquetcarrelage.com

18 Puzzles

French Living I July 2018

Bilingual cryptic crossword

by Parolles Answers are in French and English Across


1 Struggle to find anything discarded as useless by earl (6)

1 Poem mostly involving gangster discovered in Agate’s living room (5)

4 Feel for Marcel’s friend getting through (6)

2 Stops to collect mother’s ashes (7)

8 Convey a false impression about hesitation to look into Prince Philippe’s pencil box (7)

3 Elodie’s first born, Anne, regularly seen with government head (7-2)

9 Cleric describing distinctive quality associated with European sea bream in Nice (7)

5 Astonish American with confusing mass of information (5)

11 Strike fear into a close friend going around the outskirts of Islamabad (10)

6 It provides elementary protection on both sides of the Channel (7)

12 Close by Shakespeare’s first small house (4)

7 Reportedly studied section covering protection provided by Chairman Mao’s supporters (3,6)

13 Tight-fisted person from American rock band back touring Iceland (5) 14 You, I hear, abandoning worried adulterer in a state of readiness for imminent crisis (3,5) 16 Benefit from a hobby for example (8) 18 Conceals writing fluid on board ship (5) 20 Trust French queen after endless muddle? (4) 21 Instructs the single knight in revolt (10) 23 The Duke of Burgundy’s to leave Lear raging over a young girl needing no introduction (7) 24 French lorries with containers carrying oxygen seen on motorway (7) 25 Chance to meet oddly neglected heir of English artist (6) 26 French shrew for example found in lake (6)

10 A highly improbable account in Cendrillon for instance (5,4) 13 Begging doctor to ring new social worker (9) 15 Surprisingly denigrates Rex absent from show (9) 17 Crush Parisian race riots before tranquillity for the most part returns (7) 19 French solicitor’s affected manner seen in brief letter (7) 21 The Spanish girl becomes Monet’s pupil (5)



22 French nun’s refusal starts to niggle naughty emperor (5)

French-themed crossword


by John Foley Note all answers are words or names associated with France Across


2 Former professional road racer and five time winner of the Tour de France, Eddy ______ (6)

1 Type of crème known in English as custard (8)

6 Heavenly term of affection (4) 7 Weight equivalent to 2.2046226 pounds avoirdupois – abbreviated (4)

4 Jean _____, 16th-century diplomat and scholar after whom the tobacco plant and a particular chemical of the plant is named (5)

10 Structure such as Eiffel built (4)

5 Hard of hearing (5)

11 Magasin specialising in stationery (9)

9 ... which could be a result of this condition (5)

13 The other side of west (3)

12 Pungent unpasteurized cows-milk cheese, ________ de Bourgogne, from a village in the Côte-d’Or (8)

20 Eatery serving all day - less formal than a restaurant (9) 22 Meat from a young vache (4) 23 Hard-working, diligent, even devoted (6)

Q: By what name is a bra known in French?

BARTHELEMY Thimonnier opened a sewing factory in 1830 on the Rue de Sèvres in Paris, which employed his invention – the sewing machine. Within a year, his business was destroyed by irate tailors, who trashed 80 machines. He never saw his invention gain popularity. Q: Can you name the American who did?

18 Greedy or grasping (5)

25 Useful adverb for indicating un degré élévé (4) 26 In Tintin, a favourite word in Capitaine Haddock’s insult vocabulary, for example: ‘______ de porc-épic mal embouché!’ (6)

21 Continuation – ce qui vient après (5)

3 Diesel power

HAVE you ever wondered why the French championed the diesel engine for so long? It may be, in small part, because it was invented in Paris in the 1890s, by Rudolf Diesel, the son of Bavarian immigrants. Q: What is the name of the anti-pollution car-sticker scheme in place across several French cities?

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FRENCH woman Herminie Cadolle invented the modern bra while in self-imposed exile in Argentinian capital Buenos Aires. In 1887, she opened a shop and created a two-piece lingerie set called le bien-être. The lower part was a corset for the waist and the upper supported the breasts by means of shoulder straps. She returned to France two years later and opened a second store. She exhibited her lingerie at the Great Exposition of 1900. Within five years, the upper half of her invention was being sold separately.

17 ‘La ______ est une des rares choses qui ne font pas douter de Dieu’ – Jean Anouilh (6) 19 Linge utilisé pour couvrir la table du repas (5)

24 Personne facile à tromper (4)

Needle point

15 Capital of the Pas-de-Calais noted for its production of fine tapestries (5)

Photo: CC0 Creative Commons_ txr555_pixabay

16 Established 1845, this is the French equivalent of the RSPCA (1,1,1)

1 A bra is born

3 To see this is to be très en colère (5)

8 Capital of the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region (6)

14 Artist of Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (5)

Fun French facts

2 Word also used in English for an area in which a person has special ability or skill (6)

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Puzzles 19

July 2018 I French Living

Guess the region...

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

Clue: Waterway to cut the mustard...

Test your knowledge of France with our Connexion quiz

Former French Republican politician Michel Barnier was appointed to what role within the European Union in December 2016?


Cultivated in order to complement the local Mediterranean cuisine, between half and two thirds of all wine produced in the vineyards of Provence is of what general type?

Photo: CC0 Creative Commons_ TorstenBraun_pixabay


13 What ancient German city on the river Moselle, much coveted by France during the 17th and 18th centuries, is known by the name of Trèves in French?

19 Which red-haired actress appeared in seven films directed by Claude Chabrol, beginning in 1978 with Violette Nozière in which she played the title role?

Photo: CC0 Creative Commons _reginasphotos_pixabay

14 What type of backless shoe with a closed toe, sounds like a type of domesticated animal but is actually a French word, which has its origins in a Latin term for ‘deep red’?

20 East Levenshulme in south-central Manchester once bore the name of which famous French diplomat, who is supposed to have been briefly exiled there after the French Revolution?




One of the most famous 20th century poems in the English language, who created the work which contains the words, “Et O ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la coupole!”

18 Sarah Cracknell is the lead singer in  which London pop trio, who in 1990 named themselves after one of France’s most successful football clubs, but without the hyphen in the name?

/ Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Tourisme


12 What is the name of the Franco Ukrainian women’s activist group famous for topless public protests, whose leader Inna Shevchenko is said to have inspired the ‘Marianne’ image in 2013?

Guess the region The canal at Châteauneuf-en-Auxois in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The village features one of the last remaining examples of 14th century Burgundian military architecture. The village overlooks the road from Dijon, home of mustard, and Autun. Photo: Alain Doire

What is the usual two-word English name for the fungal grape infection Botrytis cinerea which imparts a distinctive flavour to Sauternes wines from the Bordeaux region?

Quiz 1 @ (ampersand/ at), 2 Decathlon, 3 Newfoundland, 4 I Saw Her Standing There, 5 Noble rot, 6 T.S.Eliot (in The Waste Land), 7 Chief Brexit negotiator, 8 Rosé, 9 (La Reine) Margot, 10 Adolf Hitler, 11 A black tulip – Le Tulipe Noire, 12 Femen, 13 Trier, 14 Mule, 15 Belfries/ bell towers, 16 Albert Uderzo, 17 Corsican criminal gangs, 18 Saint Etienne, 19 Isabelle Huppert, 20 Talleyrand.


17 What kind of entrepreneurial organisations are the Unione Corse the Brise de Mer and the Famille Jean Jé Colonna?

Anagram: Munster

Which Lennon & McCartney composition was performed in 1964 by Johnny Hallyday under the title ‘Quand je l’ai vue devant moi’?

Bilingual cryptic crossword Across: 1 Scrape, 4 Palper, 8 Plumier, 9 Daurade, 11 Intimidate, 12 Shut, 13 Miser, 14 Red alert, 16 Interest, 18 Sinks, 20 Fier, 21 Enlightens, 23 Laisser, 24 Camions, 25 Turner, 26 Mégère.


11 In the title of an 1850 novel by Alexandre Dumas, the Dutch city of Haarlem offers a 100,000 florin prize to anybody who is able to grow what, specifically?

16 Name the legendary cartoonist of Italian descent who retired in 2011, having provided pictures for the Astérix stories for years after the death in 1977 of his collaborator René Goscinny.

Down: 1 Salon, 2 Remains, 3 Premier-né, 5 Amaze, 6 Parasol, 7 Red Guards, 10 Fairy tale, 13 Mendicant, 15 Designate, 17 Ecraser, 19 Notaire, 21 Elève, 22 Nonne.

What is the English name of the island in the Atlantic known in one of the official languages of the country to which it belongs as ‘Terre-Neuve’?

10 Who was pictured in a famous photograph taken on the front terrace of the Palais de Chaillot on June 6th 1940, with the Eiffel Tower in the immediate background?

15 Twenty three examples of what type of historic building in northernmost France were added in 2005 to a list of 33 similar structures in Belgium, in the name of a Unesco World Heritage Site?

French-themed crossword


By what diminutive name is Margaret of Valois, wife of Henri of Navarre, known in the title of a 1994 French film in which she was played by Isabelle Adjani?

Across: Merckx, 6 ange, 7 kilo, 8 Toulon, 10 tour, 11 papeterie, 13 est, 14 Manet, 16 SPA, 20 brasserie, 22 veau, 23 assidu, 24 dupe, 25 très, 26 espèce.

Already an Olympic silver medallist, in what track and field event did Parisian Kévin Mayer become world champion in London in August 2017?

Take the first letter from the answers to the questions indicated below and rearrange the letters to spell out the name of a cheese from eastern France. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their surname. Questions 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 16, 18


Down: 1 anglaise, 2 métier, 3 rouge, 4 Nicot, 5 sourd, 9 otite, 12 époisses, 15 Arras, 17 beauté, 18 avide, 19 nappe, 21 suite.


Try our quiz

Fun French facts 1 A soutien-gorge. 2 Isaac Singer 3 Crit’Air.

1 What keyboard symbol has seen vastly increased use in the last 20 years and is known in French as ‘l’arobase’?

20 Reviews French films A critical eye on the latest ciné releases L’Amant Double Dir: François Ozon; 110 mins

French Living I July 2018 The Long Spring, Laurence Rose, Bloomsbury Natural History, £16.99 ISBN: 978-1-4729-3667-7 PASSING through Spain, France, the UK and on to Scandinavia and the Arctic, the writer follows spring as it arrives to waken Europe for a fresh year ahead. Two billion birds follow his route from Ceuta in North Africa and he arrives with the storks in southern Spain and their music and others fill his ears. In France it is Messiaen’s Le Merle Bleu, which he wrote on the Côte Vermeille after hearing birdsong. Heading to the Camargue and its flamingos the writer hears the high-pitched call of a penduline tit and then the deep tones of a bittern. When the white Camargue horses spot him they run off, their hooves making the same booming sound as the bittern.

A young marsh harrier is quartering the shore vegetation but it is missing flight feathers, the result of a shotgun blast... later, a buzzard is spotted and it, too, has flight feathers shot away. Just 15% of the Camargue is protected from hunters. North to Brittany and some wading birds, probably egrets; but no, they are sacred ibises from the region’s feral population. Suddenly, he spots a bluethroat, one of the African migrants, and then some swallows that had possibly travelled from the Camargue at the same time as he did. You do not need to be a bird-lover to enjoy this, it is enough simply to have eyes to read and to watch.

Editor’s choice

Books – The 20 minute review

Connexion journalists read the latest French releases. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time Paris à Table, Eugène Briffault, Oxford University Press, £14.99 ISBN: 978-019-084203-1 SUCH is his mastery of the film director’s art that Ozon has effortlessly waltzed around genres throughout his career. From musical comedy (8 Women) to Hitchcockian thriller (Frantz) and slapstick (Potiche), his touch is measured no matter what the subject or style. L’Amant Double is another typically assured outing, this time an erotic psycho-thriller starring Marine Vacth, who last worked with Ozon in Young and Beautiful (2013). Here, she plays Chloé, a 25-year-old woman receiving psychological counselling for an undiagnosed stomach complaint. As she reveals her inner most thoughts, she and her therapist (Jérémie Renier) fall for each other. The twist comes when she sees another therapist outside another building – it seems her own therapist has a twin or a doppelgänger (Renier excels in his dual role). Naturally, Chloé begins an affair with the second shrink too, even though he has a nasty side to him, and this is where the real trouble begins. Stylish, well acted and tense, a little lacking in plausibility (though this can easily be overlooked), this is a super thriller for a Saturday night in. Also out: Custody The observational style of filming lends gritty realism to Xavier Legrand’s devastating debut feature about an abusive marriage and bitter child custody battle.

WHETHER you call the midday meal lunch or dinner may reveal something of your origins in the UK, but “in France”, 19th century journalist M. Briffault tells us “the principal meal of the day has, historically, been called ‘dinner’, or déjeuner.” This is a fascinating and amusing book... where else would you find that a lack of spinach in his diet caused Louis XVIII to have a room full of the Royal Guard arrested? Or that Charlemagne “wanted feats performed before any nourishment was taken”? Or follow the progression of dinner’s timing from midday to the evening’s more formal meal? Even the origins of meatless days in the week, when fish would be served, get full mention as Briffault looks at the food and eating habits of Paris, its nobles, its merchants and the clergy. He discovers the original ‘brunch’ when he discusses the déjeuner dînatoire but here it is translated as ‘breakfast buffet’ that while “no longer a breakfast; it still was not a dinner”. For this brunch, diners would sit down to table at around one o’clock and there was only one service, with all the food on display. It lasted until nightfall...

Crossbill Guides Dordogne, David Simpson, Crossbill Guides, €28.95 ISBN: 978-949-1648137

ALTHOUGH Dordogne is a place apart and this guide aims to cover the birds, wild flowers and other wildlife to be found there, it is also a pretty good reference for other regions of France. Wherever there are wild landscapes with limestone-dominated hills, diverse woodlands and hay meadows, the wildlife will be essentially similar and the wildlife experiences will be just as stimulating. The writer sees it almost as a step back in time with a rich flora and fauna that seem to be in retreat in many other areas. This is not a simple “what’s that red butterfly” guide; there is a mine of information on geology, landscape and history to help build a body of knowledge that is the basis for enjoying the countryside, any countryside. However, it also includes 21 routes that give excellent spotting opportunities. Capable of being dipped into for casual reading, its route section is a detailed work that will reward following its advice.

The Way of St James France GR65, Alison Raju, Cicerone, £14.95 ISBN: 978-1-85284-876-7 WALKING the Chemin de Saint-Jacques is a start anywhere affair (often your own front door) but in France the walk proper starts from Paris, Vézelay, Arles or Puy-en-Velay. The latter route is the best-documented and this guide contributes to that. It covers to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port with appendices as far as Roncesvalles and Irun – the Spanish section is in a separate book. This is the third edition of the guide, released this year, and the publishers say there have been major changes. It is both light and dense, weighing 236g but filled with geographic and historic points to ease the way. Maps are not detailed but routes have too much... “Turn L along D110 for 1km then fork R uphill”. This risks swapping the pleasure of the walk with fear of an error.

The Bridesmaid’s Daughter, Nyna Giles, September Publishing, £9.99 ISBN: 9781-910463-512 THIS is a troubling story as we discover how a woman who was Grace Kelly’s best friend and a bridesmaid at her fairytale wedding to Prince Rainier could end up in a homeless shelter. But homeless does not mean alone and Nyna Giles, the daughter of the title, has made sure her mother Carolyn Reybold wanted for little: not a hair on her head out of place, dressed usually in white, but she is wracked with doubts and fears. It is dedicated to “anyone suffering in silence, in the hope that you may find your voice” and Ms Giles tells of the tumble into mental illness that saw her mother keep her at home, convinced she was ill, and unable to allow her to have any degree of a separate life. Reading a little like a novel following the lives of mother and daughter, there is no denying the glamour of Grace and Carolyn’s lives as models in New York, and then Grace’s life in Monaco. But Nyna is trying to find out where her mother turned from confident, glamorous and in-demand to become a lonely person spurning social contact. She could not find out anything from her mother when she was alive and makes a strong plea for more screenings for postnatal depression to help others.

Get the shades on for these sunshine phrases Language notes With summer’s arrival in France comes the inevitable, obligatory conversational topic switch to just how hot it is (depending upon where you reside, of course). One thing we would hope that everyone can avoid this year is a canicule (heat wave) which can become very serious in France, with implications far beyond hosepipe (tuyau or tuyau d’arrosage) bans. But instead of a simple ‘il fait chaud’ (it’s hot) or ‘on crève de chaud’ (the heat is killing us) you can describe blazing sunshine or a sweltering sun as ‘un soleil de plomb’ – literally meaning ‘a lead sun’. While in English we might use ‘leaden skies’ to described the sky’s colour, in France the ‘lead’ refers here to the density of the heat. (Similarly, the French might describe someone who is always sedentary as having a ‘cul de plomb’ or ‘lead backside’.)

Describe blazing sun as ‘un soleil de plomb’

A couplet that tallies with the English one ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”, is “Ciel rouge le soir laisse bon espoir; Ciel rouge le matin, pluie en chemin. This is translated as ‘Red sky at night offers hope; red sky in the morning means rain on the way”. One old farmer’s saying to perhaps avoid, given that it seems to have dubious meteorological evidence to support it, is: “Le soleil du matin ne dure pas tout le jour” – “The morning sun doesn’t last all day long”. Next month, you could find a suitable occasion to roll out a favourite French idiom when describing the joys of a sunkissed August: “Chaleur d’août, c’est du bien partout” – “In the August heat, everything is fine”. However, should the summer not turn out to be quite as sun-kissed as you had hoped, you can always complain of un été pourri (a rotten summer).

Shopping/Did you know? 21

July 2018 I French Living

Photo: monochrome-watches.com


New products, designs and ideas from around France

Parma chameleons

violet production was a major employer in the Toulouse area during the 19th century and to keep this heritage alive various products derived from the pale purple flower – from perfume to essential oils – have been put to good use by the Jardin d’Elen workshop since since 1993. Boss Hélène Vié works with 40 local artisans and oversees violets being grown in greenhouses in order to protect the heritage of the species. Such is the popularity of its soft-scented goods that the flower has grown to become a symbol of the city, also known for its pink brick buildings. As well as goodies tasting of violet, from sweets to liqueurs and even mustard, you can also buy pampering treats for the bathroom, from fabric softener to bubble bath, body lotions to soaps, as well as nicely embroidered towels. Explore the online boutique to discover the full range of violet-related items. www.lamaisondelaviolette.com

Digital leash keeps pets close Juiced in time

KEEPING a close eye on your wandering dog or cat, especially in rural France, is not always easy. So this new Invoxia ‘digital leash’ – a discreet GPS tracker attached to the animal’s collar that sends updates on your pet’s whereabouts to your phone (up to every three minutes depending on your data network) – is a brilliant French idea. You can set up “virtual fence” areas in your application and receive notifications when your pet enters or leaves them. The battery, chargeable via a USB cable, lasts for up to six months and it informs the user when power is getting low. Price €99. www.invoxia.com

FOUNDED in 1856, Elixia is an independent family business and is the oldest artisanal limonaderie in France. Its lemonades are handmade from a recipe unchanged since 1856, with water from the Jura massif. The classic range is created using pure cane sugar while the organic range is made with agave syrup. All drinks are made without artificial colourings, flavours or preservative. New flavours for 2018 include ginger, elderflower and peppermint. Price: €1.90 for 33cl or €3.50 for 75cl, available online and in supermarkets and épiceries. www.elixia.fr

A passion for male grooming

Armed with years of experience in the worlds of beauty, make-up and healthcare for women, sisters Karine and Stéphanie Coccellato decided to turn their attention to pampering men. ‘After all, who loves men more than women,’ says Karine with smile. They have just launched the Archiman range of 100% Made in France cleansers, hydrating creams and gels, each of which is painstakingly created without blacklisted harmful ingredients (none of them are tested on animals but only on their friends, they tell us!). Moisturising face gel (50cl) costs €39. Free delivery to mainland France on orders over €60. https://archiman.fr/en

The 2018 large edition of the Cartier Santos collection with elements modelled on the 1904 original – yours for €6,600

The first ever wrist watch was a French invention Did you know?


he wristwatch was most likely invented in France, though there are several contenders for the title. Cartier, the French jewellers say they were the first to create the modern wristwatch in 1904. Louis Cartier, founder of the luxury brand, was friends with the Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer, Alberto SantosDumont, who spent most of his adult life in Paris. In 1901, Alberto Santos-Dumont told Louis Cartier that it was extremely difficult to read the time from a pocket watch, because he needed both hands to fly. After some research, Cartier came up with “the first modern watch worn on the wrist”, as it says on the company’s website. There is still a range of watches called the Collection Santos de Cartier. However, another clock-maker, Swiss brand Girard-Perregaux is said to have started producing wristwatches in large quantities for the German military as early as the 1880s, again because pocket watches were impractical, especially if you were carrying and using weapons. These were watches for men, but for women it seems there were earlier versions, as timepieces could be worn as pieces of jewellery and were set into bracelets for the wrist or even for the arm. This has led another Swiss company

to claim it created the first wristwatch. Breguet is now based in Switzerland but was founded in France by a brilliant horologist, Abraham-Louis Breguet. The company says that documents held in Paris “prove beyond any doubt that, in response to a commission from the Queen of Naples, June 8, 1810, Breguet conceived and made the first wristwatch ever known, the Breguet watch number 2639.” The watch no longer exists and there are no drawings but the company still pays homage to its founder, who created: “a timepiece of unprecedented construction and extraordinary refinement, namely an exceptionally thin, oval repeater watch with complications, mounted on a wristlet of hair and gold thread.” There are two further documents which show that a watch number 2639 was sent for repair in 1849 and then later in 1855. No trace of the watch has ever been found but the company sells a range of ladies watches it calls the Reine de Naples (Queen of Naples). The entry in the Guinness Book of World Records says the First Wristwatch was none of the above, but was one made by Swiss watch maker, Patek Philippe in 1868. The entry says it was made for a woman, Countess Koscowicz of Hungary and was intended to be worn as a piece of decorative jewellery and that this was the first true wristwatch in the modern sense. It goes on to say that men continued to prefer pocket watches as they were felt to be more masculine, and only began to wear them later because they were more practical.

22 History: Marie-Antoine Carême

French Living I July 2018

France’s first celebrity chef: how Car Despite a traumatic childhood which saw him abandoned aged nine, Marie-Antoine Carême went on to become a totemic figure in French cuisine. Samantha David gets a taste for his remarkable story


arie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) was arguably the world’s first celebrity chef; he made Napoleon’s wedding cake, cooked for the Prince Regent at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the Romanov family in St Petersburg and according to legend, created fantastic soufflés flecked with real gold for the Rothschild family in Paris. His talents in the kitchen, however, were almost outshone by his talent for self-promotion and marketing. Famous amongst the rich for his culinary creations, he became well known amongst the middle classes for his cookbooks. His childhood was traumatic. Born in Paris, his family fled the French Revolution but left him behind. He was only nine. Telling the tale later, he recounted that his father had refused to take him along, saying, “You’re old enough to fend for yourself.” Off they went, leaving him on the streets, and Carême never saw any of them again. He is then reputed to have been taken in by a family and to have worked in a Parisian chophouse until, aged 13, he was apprenticed to Sylvain Bailly, a wellknown pâtissier (pastry chef) in a fashionable neighbourhood. He used his time there to learn to read and write, and studied architecture, using pictures of tombs and cathedrals as inspiration for the fantastical pastry structures he made to go in the window of the shop. These became increasingly complex and beautiful until he started receiving personal orders for them from rich people wanting an impressive centrepiece for their diner parties. He subsequently opened his own pastry shop, the ‘Pâtisserie de la rue de la Paix’, which stayed open until 1813. Hard facts are difficult to establish about Carême, however, partly because his books do not contain any personal information, partly because many official records of the time were destroyed in fires at the Hôtel de Ville during the Prussian bombardment of 1871, and partly because his daughter Marie destroyed all his papers after his death. “This one fact tells us a lot about him,” says Ian Kelly, the author of a biography of Carême (Cooking for Kings, published by Short Books Ltd and available on Amazon), who also appeared in a play based on the biography. “She was his only surviving child as far as we know, but she destroyed everything; dispersed his belongings and money. He was rich, there was plenty of money around, but after the cholera epidemic she gave him a pauper’s funeral and he was buried in an unmarked grave. So we can guess that his relationship with her must have been disastrously bad.” Kelly’s impression of Carême is that he was febrile and restive and uncomfortable

in his own skin. “But that’s only an impression from what he achieved, which was extraordinary and must have taken a massive amount of work, and from the reactions of his contemporaries. Many of the true facts about his life are obscured; even his birth date is approximate. We know, however, that he did not invent caramel, but he did have two wives. Whether that was due to death, divorce or desertion, it’s impossible to say.” Carême contributed to his own fame by including a portrait of himself in every book, and although he wasn’t shy of claiming inventions for his own, he was also constantly inventing new techniques. Using a nozzle and a piping bag to make decorative meringues, perfecting the cream puff, melting and moulding sugar like glass. He is credited with inventing millefeuilles, strawberries Romanoff, and Charlotte Russe. He seems, however, not to have made himself popular in Britain. “The impression is of a difficult man. The British records relating to his time in the UK have survived and from those we know he was unpopular in the royal household. But he was a celebrity chef earning ten times what everyone else was paid. He was very ambitious, hard-working, very keen that his work should be recognised as an art form.” Kelly points out that Carême was multi-talented. He was a fine graphic artist and illustrated the books himself, his dishes were always beautifully-presented, and his celebrated pièces montées (giant architectural constructions made of various edible ingredients including choux pastry, marzipan, and spun sugar were very aesthetic as well as impressive. “He was the first chef to get rich and famous writing books about food. He coined the phrase, ‘you can try this at home’.” His books were not really ‘how-tos’, they were glimpses of another world, at the lives of the rich and famous. They were aspirational, lifestyle books. “Carême connected glamour royalty and wealth to fine dining and his books gave people access to that.”

Pâtisserie pages

His first book, published in 1815, was called Le Pâtissier Royal Parisien which gave a good idea of the contents, and why it appealed so immediately to the general public. He followed it with Le Pâtissier Pittoresque, which included 128 illustrations. His book Le Maître d’Hôtel Français compared old and new styles of cooking and gave recipes for menus to serve during each of the four seasons. His final book, a vast encyclopaedia, not only gave hundreds of recipes but instructions for laying out kitchens, sourcing ingredients, menus, table plans, and serving suggestions. L’Art de la Cuisine

Above and inset: Marie-Antoine Carême was ambitious, hard-working and even invented the chef’s white hat

He was the first chef to get rich and famous writing books about food. He coined the phrase ‘you can try this at home’ Ian Kelly, Carême biographer

Française was to be published in five volumes but he only completed three of them before his death. He had kitchens built right beside dining rooms instead of having them miles away. He was keen on using new technologies, keeping up to date in fashion and art and he put all that on the table. At that time in France all the dishes arrived on the table at once, but in Russia they were served one at a time, and he introduced this style of eating to France. It is possible to see this change in his books, in the later ones, he publishes menus in the order they should be served. He invented the white chef ’s hat, and vol-au-vents amongst a host of other innovations. But it was publishing that really extended his influence. In 1804 Napoleon funded Talleyrand’s purchase of the Château de Valençay as a place to hold diplomatic meetings, and when Talleyrand moved there he took Carême with him and set him a test: create an entire year’s worth of menus with no repetitions, using only seasonal produce. Of course, Carême passed the test with flying colours.

A sorcerer or sauces

Until that period, meat had mainly been cooked with the aim of disguising the stale, and often rank, smell of it. But Carême, using the finest ingredients, developed a whole range of sauces which he categorised into four main types:

Local history 23

July 2018 I French Living

Some of Carême’s extravagant and sumptuous dessert designs. He is said to have been inspired by cathedrals and tombs which he had studied; Inset: Ian Kelly’s book on the chef Sauce Allemande is a white sauce thickened with cream and egg yolks, and seasoned with lemon. It was renamed ‘sauce blond’ by Auguste Escoffier at the outbreak of the First World War. It accompanies eggs, fish, and chicken. Sauce Béchamel (named after Louis de Béchamel, the Marquis of Nointel) is made from a white roux of butter and flour thinned out with milk. It is the basis for many other sauces including sauce Mornay, white wine sauce, tarragon sauce and the humble cheese sauce we use today with macaroni or cauliflower. It is used to make croque-monsieur, lasagne, moussaka and vol-au-vents. Sauce Espagnole is made from a brown roux of butter and flour thinned out with a brown meat stock flavoured with tomatoes, or mushrooms, or even a ‘mirepoix’ – tiny cubes of onion, carrot, celery, herbs and spices, and sometimes ham or bacon. The sauce is the basis for all types of gravy to be served with meat. Sauce velouté (velvet) is made by making a stock and enriching it at the end by adding crème fraîche and egg, or sometimes even a roux. It is used to make various soups including cream or asparagus soup. He produced refined flavours using herbs and vege-

tables, and had a wide variety of dishes at his fingertips. His cuisine changed everything, particularly after he went, with Talleyrand, to the Congress of Vienna. International leaders from across the continent were treated to dishes they had never before tasted, and to a style of cookery that was more magnificent and complicated than had previously been seen, and went home converted. It’s not too much to say that Carême changed cuisines across Europe. After the fall of Napoleon, Carême went to London where he worked for the Prince Regent (later to become George IV). Later on he went to Russia, where he was employed by Tsar Alexander 1st, but he stayed such a short time that he never in fact cooked for the royal family themselves. He also worked for Emperor Francis I of Austria. On his return to Paris he became chef to the banker James Rothschild. He died in Paris at the age of 48 and is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery. The cause of death is uncertain. Perhaps a lung problem caused by inhaling fumes from charcoal in the kitchens, or a dental infection. His skull, gruesomely enough, is preserved in the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, and displays evidence of dental decay which was a professional hazard of being a pastry cook at that time.

The cake-maker’s sweet art continues on campus TRAINEE pâtissiers at the Barbezieux campus of the Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat in Charente, are continuing Carême’s tradition of art and architecture-inspired recipes by making gâteaux inspired by the oil and acrylic paintings of Clare Avery, an AngloFranco artist who lives near Barbezieux. She had an exhibition in December and it is after seeing it that Myriam Maillet from the training campus, put the idea to the students. The results were stunning confections, all decorated to be similar to the paintings. Two identical gâteaux were made by each of the four students and their trainer, with one being shown and eaten with Clare Avery, and the other put on show at the campus open day. “I never imagined

that my paintings could inspire such wonderful treats,” said Clare. “The decorations were wonderful and for me when each one was cut open and the different layers inside were revealed it was very exciting.” The students, most of whom are nearing the end of five years training, were equally enthusiastic. “The colours and textures in the paintings were wonderful and I tried to express some of the feelings I got from them as I worked,” said Eva Rouquette who chose a large oil painting called Honeybow II as her inspiration. Her gâteau had a honey and biscuit base, lychee cream, a green tea, cherry Fanny Cottard in flower and rose petal bavaroise front of a painting with a raspberry colis. called ‘Equinox’ Brian McCulloch


rême rose to the top

Miracles and swords bring a million visitors

Jane Hanks is a regular visitor to Rocamadour but each time the perched village yields ever more secrets from its rich history Secret history of villages


ilgrims have been visiting Rocamadour in the Lot for over a thousand years and the dramatic village with its sanctuary and chateau built up against and on the cliffs, now attracts over a million tourists a year, as well as modern day pilgrims. I have visited it many times and at every turn there are more secrets and legends to discover. To get to the sanctuary at the heart of Rocamadour you first have to climb the 216 steps of the Great Stairway which have been climbed by pilgrims, often on their knees for hundreds of years. It seems always to have been regarded as a sacred place. There is a cave with prehistoric wall paintings, which specialists say show it was a pre-christian sanctuary. It is known for certain that pilgrims started coming here to pray to the Virgin Mary before the year 1,000AD. Then in 1166, a perfectly conserved body was discovered under the Chapel of the Virgin, and when it was placed near the altar, miracles started happening. It was decided this meant it was the body of the hermit, Saint Amadour, after whom the village is named. There is a theory that Amadour was in fact the biblical character, Zacchaeus, who fled to France to escape persecution and lived out his days in solitude in Rocamadour. The miracles attracted growing numbers of pilgrims and at times there could be up to 30,000 from all over Europe. Among them were Kings, the first of whom was Henry II of England, followed later by Philip VI and Louis XI of France.

In the Chapelle de Notre-Dame, one of the seven chapels in the sanctuary, you can still see the simple, 12th century wooden statue, known as the Black Virgin, the Notre Dame de Rocamadour who was called on by the sick, by prisoners and even by sailors out at sea to save them. In 1172 a book, the Livre des Miracles, was written to tell the tales of some of these miracles. Hanging from the roof of the chapel are models of boats that were saved from shipwreck as well as the cloche miraculeuse, an 8th century cast-iron bell which is said to ring out whenever there is a miracle. Rocamadour also has a legendary sword, said to have belonged to the valiant knight, Roland, nephew of Charlemagne. As he lay dying from battle wounds he called upon the Archangel Michael to help him throw it so no-one could use it after his death. It landed several hundred kilometres away in the cliff at Rocamadour, where you can still see it, embedded in the cliff. (The sword features in the epic poem La Chanson de Roland). At the top of the cliff is the chateau, where the monks have always lived. It has its own secret passageway, not open to tourists but my husband, Simon was invited into it after playing a concert there: “From the sacristy we were led through a door hidden in the panelling which took us up into the roof space of the Basilique SaintSauveur. “We walked across it to another door that entered into the cliff where there were stairs cut out of the rock. There were faults in the rock that gave you amazing vistas of Rocamadour before we entered the chateau at the top.”

24 The big picture

French Living I July 2018

Vélocipédia dandies are still on a roll Photos Geraldine Gaudy

A fun-loving cycling association keeps the tradition of dandy horses alive and well, writes Samantha David


he name ‘vélocipéde’ was probably coined in 1817 by Karl von Drais in French to describe what is now known as a ‘dandy horse’: a seat fixed to a cross bar on a cycle without pedals which the rider moves by pushing their feet against the ground. But today, the name (from the Latin velox = swift and ped = foot) describes front-runners of the modern bicycle, built mainly from wood with some metal parts, with pedals attached to the front wheel. These were manufactured from the 1860s before bicycle chains and gears made it possible to make the pedals operate the back wheel. The best known model was the ‘Penny Farthing’, developed to have a massive front wheel so that the machine would move further, and therefore faster, with each turn of the pedals. By the late 1880s pneumatic tyres had been invented and front wheels had shrunk. Bikes were easier, safer and more comfortable to ride than the old velocipedes and the design made it possible for women as well as men to ride them. But for a few fans, the lure of the velocipede has never dimmed. Guy Gaudy from the association ParisVélocipédia says the appeal is pure fun. He and a group of other ‘vélocipédistes’ are so keen that in 2015 they decided to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the invention of the velocipede by recreating the velocipede ride from Paris to Avignon – the world’s first cycle race – in 1865. Twenty-one riders finally assembled, dressed in costume, with their original velocipedes. They came from France, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Japan and the UK, solely for the fun of it. “It was a bit mad, and a great challenge. 864kms divided into 14 stages. Riding

these machines is really hard work, even on modern roads,” says Guy Gaudy. “They weigh 25-30 kilos and have no gears or brakes. It takes twice as much energy to pedal a velocipede as a new bike, the top speed it 15km and the wheels are basically cart wheels so there is a lot of resistance to rolling.” Wearing vintage clothes was all part of the fun, although Gaudy says they did not wear them for the whole ride. “We did the majority of it in sports clothes, and just wore costumes for the departure and the arrival.” All the velocipedes they ride are original models, rather than modern reconstruc-

Above: Riders from the ParisVélocipédia roll through the French capital; setting off from Nancy in May 2017 (inset)

tions. “Some of the very old models are too fragile to use, but most of our machines date from the 1870s so they are quite solid.” He explains that riders came from all sorts of different groups and associations including the International Veteran Cycle Association. “No-one thought we’d actually do it, but we did and that has given rise to all sorts of other ideas.” In May 2017 they rode from Nancy to Karlsruhe on dandy horses, and in December 2017 they rode from Paris to Versailles. The only disagreeable part of the process is doing the paperwork, he says. “Sorting logistics, obtaining permissions, booking accommodation, catering, authorisations, arranging the departure and the arrival,

etc. But it has to be done and the results are worth it. We work with local mairies, explaining our plan, saying we’ll be passing through their communes..” In April 2018 they held a parade of dandy horses in the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris, and in May they held an all-day event in Paris starting with a parade in the Jardin du Pré Catelan, taking in a ride through the city before holding races and then a grand dinner to round off the day. In 2019 they are planning to ride from Paris to Rouen and anyone who loves old cycles is welcome to join in. (See velocipedistes.com for information.) The association already includes an English rider. “All that’s required is passion. It’s just the joy of recreating these iconic old races, stepping up the challenge!”

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July 2018

ME AND MY OPERATION: Fused discs / Arthrodèse lombaire

I fell off a ladder in my 30s and still feel it 40 years later The inside story of readers who have had operations in France – and how they found the health service, by Gillian Harvey A fall from a ladder in 1983 led Karen Knapton, now 72, from Seyches in Lot-et-Garonne to develop back and neck problems many years later. Having had four operations in the UK to remedy her problems, she retired to France in 2006 hoping she would be able to enjoy her retirement in good health. Initial symptoms Over the years, I’d had several operations in the UK due to arthritis and problems developed after a fall I’d had in my 30s. My operations in the UK included having part of my clavicle taken off, as well as a procedure to remove discs to decompress the nerves; the last of my procedures in the UK took place in 2005. I’d always dreamed of moving to France for a better quality of life so when I turned 60 I retired from my job as a superintendent registrar and moved to a house in Seyches on my own. A year later my husband, Martin, was also able to retire from his job as a manufacturing manager and joined me. When I moved to France, I was physically able. I used to hike 12km at the weekend with one of my neighbours, and I also started golfing lessons with the hope I’d be able to join Martin – an avid golfer – on the course. However, after six lessons, I started getting severe neck and back pain. Examination I was already seeing a specialist for my arthritis, and she sent me to see surgeons in Bordeaux. After a series of scans and X-rays, several problems with my spine were identified. Since then, I’ve had two vertebrae fused in my neck, in 2009; three in my back in 2013 and, in 2015, had another two discs fused. Operation My last back operation took place in 2015 in Bordeaux. I was asked to go in the day before at 3pm and was seen by the surgeon and the anaesthetist the night before. On the day of the operation, I had to shower in an iodine solution before chang-


Dr Steffen Queinnec, orthopaedic surgeon in Clinic Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in Paris

When might a surgeon decide to fuse discs in the back? The main reason for fusing a vertebral segment is back pain due to degenerative disc disease. We might also operate due to loss of height – adding an intersomatic box to restore the height of the disc. Finally, instability can also be a reason for this kind of procedure. How does it help the patient? The fusion gives the patient stability and decreases back pain. How long does the operation usually take? Usually, about one hour to one hour 30 minutes for one segment. But the time is not the main goal, sometimes, it can

take much more time until you get the feeling it’s perfect. How long does a patient usually stay in hospital? About three to five days, depending on the patient’s health and age. What aftercare is needed? Patients usually undergo physiotherapy and will also receive care from a nurse. When can a patient expect to regain full mobility? A patient who needs fusion always has bad mobility, and not only because of the segment operated on. They will also need physiotherapy and will need to improve fitness to increase mobility.

NEXT MONTH: Tonsillectomy (Tonsillectomie / Amygdalectomie)

Karen Knapton knows health system ing into a surgical gown. I was then taken down to the surgical block. The operation itself took about an hour and a half, and I was kept in the recovery area afterwards for about two hours before being brought back to my room. The following day, the physiotherapist gave me a boned back-support to wear all the time, except when sleeping. After putting this on, he encouraged me to stand up and move around. I was advised to use the back support until my follow-up appointment with the surgeon two months later.

Aftercare Although the pain from the operation itself was minimal, I was a little disappointed to find that the original pain in my back remained. However, it was explained that because I’d had trapped nerves, they can take a year or more to repair themselves. After a four-day stay in hospital, during which I received excellent care, I was offered three weeks in a convalescent facility. However, I chose to go home where my husband could care for me; preferring to be in familiar surroundings. At home, a nurse visited every day to inject a blood-thinning treatment to prevent clots. She changed my dressings every other day and eventually took the stitches out. After two months, I had a follow-up with my surgeon, who was pleased with my progress, and then another a year from the initial operation. I was also prescribed physio to strengthen my muscles and help to take the pressure off my back. While the operation was a success, I experienced further back pain due to a hip problem; I had a hip replacement in 2016. Clearly, I’m no stranger to the healthcare system in France; and I’ve always been impressed by the care I’ve received.


Only tourists eat snails and frogs legs today This is false

We can still call the French Froggies as, while not everyone’s favourite dish, frogs legs are still eaten in quantity as is the other intrinsically French dish, snails. Both depend on imports to meet demand. Cuisses de grenouilles first became popular in the 16th century when the frogs were hunted in the wild. In the 1970s this was made illegal because of diminishing numbers. Farming them is hard and

In this column we look at the ‘truths’ everyone ‘knows’ about France since 2010 just two frog farms have been set up. France imports 800tonnes of fresh legs from Turkey and 4,000 frozen ones from Indonesia. It is their No1 customer, alarming ecologists with the Natural History Museum in Paris warning that 99% of those sold in supermarkets are not labelled accurately as to the species, with many

Practical 21


taken indiscriminately from the wild in Asia every year. If you want to taste cuisses in all their forms, try Rainettes, which opened in Paris last year as the first frogs legs bar. The name is a colloquial term for frogs in French. As for snails or escargots The French eat 16,000 tonnes a year – 424million snails – more per person than anywhere else. It started in the Renaissance with the wealthy; Burgundy wine producers then sent them to Paris where the poor would

preserve them for when other meat was scarce. First collected in the wild, it was not until the 70s that snail farms began. There are now about 300. Two-thirds of consumption is at Christmas with Burgundy and Alsace leading the way. Leading prepared-snail producer Française de Gastron­ omie turns 110million snails into foodie treats a year, and is experimenting with Escargot Bites in a pastry shell. Snails have health benefits, being rich in proteins and minerals.

E-bikes may need cover RIDERS of electric bikes may need to have insurance from next year under proposals by the European Commission to revise the Motor Insurance Directive to bring it up to date. The European Court of Justice ruled that e-bikes and Segways came under the directive, meaning anyone using one without third-party insurance could be breaking the law.

Countries could exempt these vehicles from accident compensation funds for victims. The proposal is one of several put forward and also calls for minimum third-party cover for driverless cars and any vehicle for transport. The FIM mot­or­ bike sports body challenged this as it includes racing bikes and cars and says cover should be for vehicles ‘in traffic’.

Pay Metro by smartphone

PAYING the metro, RER or bus by smartphone will be a reality in Ile-de-France from this autumn as transport bosses experiment with paperless tickets. With five million paper tickets checked each year, RATP, SNCF and Ile-de-France Mobilités want to move to using a smartphone version of the Pass Navigo, downloading a ‘carnet’ of tickets when needed and using the phone on the ticket machine (borne). The aim is to have the system open to all users by summer 2019.


Check museum free days

Photo: Skeeze CC0 / Pixabay

The Connexion

Many readers will have visitors to stay this summer and be keen to show them local attractions but perhaps fearing the cost... however, remember that many towns and cities have free-entrance days at museums. Often this is the first Sunday in the month (check first as some museums opt out in summer). Tourist office websites can help, with the en.parisinfo. com site having a page ‘Free museums and monuments in Paris’. Popular sites are included, such as Musée d’Orsay and Pompidou Centre, and it also

gives ideas for walks, festivals, cultural events, sport and for children. Normandy lists free visits on Calvados-tourisme. com under ‘Visites gratuites en Calvados en Normandie’. Buying a pass can be useful and a €37.50 pass in Bordeaux gives unlimited access to seven museums for a year for two people (bordeaux.fr) while in Dordogne a PassVisItPérigord saves 20% on entry fees for 12 top sites (visites-en-perigord.com). On the Riviera, buying the Côte d’Azur Card gives free entry to more than 100 activities, such as an underwater snorkel trail in Fréjus.

More security for e-letters

REGISTERED letters are a part of bureaucracy in France to ensure important mail arrives. An online electronic version gives the benefit of security, the option of being delivered by the postman or via email, and is much cheaper and quicker than paper. The lettre recommandée électronique will be standardised from the start of next year and, known as the LRE eIDAS, will have more security with the identity of sender and recipient being verified at the time of sending and of receipt. LREs are sent mainly by businesses with private individuals being the main recipients, as for rental agreements, contracts etc. They are also used by individuals to formally end contracts.

€6,000 electric bonus stays drivers buying new electric cars will continue to benefit from a special bonus for the next four years as the government bids to increase sales from the present 31,000 a year to 150,000 by the year 2022. State support for households buying an electric vehicle comes in the form of a bonus that reduces the price by €6,000 and the government has promised to maintain this ben-

efit at a “significant level” and publicise it fully until 2022. It is also investing in fitting recharging stations or bornes and says there will be 100,000 across the country by 2022, up from the present 22,000 in 7,242 sites to power the 115,000 vehicles on the road. Progress in battery technology has halved costs giving extra range, averaging 250km, with an 80% recharge in 30 minutes.


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

P26 Classifieds

P27 Community


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

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 info@enershop.eu www.enershop.eu

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

The Connexion July 2018


Maximise your house sale proceeds Pioneer France ensures sellers receive the best currency rates possible for the transfer of their house sale proceeds

“It is shame when house sellers who have tried so hard to achieve the best price for their house then relinquish an unnecessary chunk of these funds by using old fashioned, expensive banking methods to repatriate their money back into sterling, dollars or whatever”, says Harris Raphael, Managing partner of France-based Pioneer France. “The seller often relinquishes thousands which could have been so easily avoided

had they used a specialist Foreign exchange broker. Our historic data shows that the average loss is around €3,500”, comments Harris. Historic data shows that sellers are much less likely than buyers to use the services of such a specialist. Harris believes that this is primarily because the profile of a typical seller is usually older than that of a buyer, with sellers more likely to have traditionally used a bank for their transfers, while being reluctant about using ‘newer methods’. “I understand this completely, especially when it concerns one’s major asset!”, says Harris “However, Pioneer France’s foreign exchange brokerage has been operating for over 35 years, is one of the world’s largest, trading over €13billion on behalf of over 20,000 clients a year, in over 80 currencies. “ It is also one of the very few that is fully authorised and regulated by the FCA, with the right of establishment in France”.



“As such, our brokerage can provide our clients with security of funds and can give expert currency exchange guidance to aid our client’s decision making, which the banks are not licensed to do”, advises Harris. Pioneer France was recently voted number one for foreign exchange rates and service, so contact Harris and his team to find out more about saving thousands. 05 53 07 06 27 info@pioneerfrance.com www.pioneerfrance.com

The Pioneer France FX team, from left: Harris, Simon, Tanya, Zoe, James and Steven Christine Haworth-Staines UK Chartered Psychologist

Psychology & Counselling From private practice in Toulouse & Mielan Or via Skype

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Tel; +44 (0)1952 460607 Mobile; +44 (0)7802 355795 www.horsetransport.uk.net Deliveries all France

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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 cedricm@about-architects.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 info@bsnvar.org 04 94 84 64 89 between 07:00 and 23:00 06 32 35 31 24

Planning a trip?

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French Properties Direct Buy or sell a French property privately. No estate agency fees to pay…….

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Directory 23

French without Fear Language in Languedoc

One-to-one tuition, professional teacher, Oxford degree, self-catering accommodation

campbellclaire53@yahoo.fr 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…)

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Friendly Sorbonne Teacher, specialised beginners

Fun caring efficient - Mediterranean village myfrenchschool@gmail.com www.myfrenchschool.net Tel: 06 85 14 04 65

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 enquiries@beauxvillages.com www.beauxvillages.com n

Pre-existing medical conditions cover option Penny at GSAR Brokers

pennym.gsar@wanadoo.fr 05 53 40 15 71

SwissLife Insurance 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 agence.bordeaux.theatre@swisslife.fr






PIONEER FRANCE Hundreds of practical questions are answered in Connexion helpguides Order downloads at


24 Directory



The Connexion July 2018


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

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

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

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

Heslop & Platt


Agence International

Solicitors & French

Tel: 05 63 94 08 91 Mobile: 06 83 32 65 15

Dedicated English speaking agency staffed by native English speakers

Law specialists


• • • • • •

Insurance Health insurance Pensions & Investments Life assurance Banking & lending Business insurance

Tel: 05 61 07 16 84 agence.international@axa.fr www.axa-in-france.fr

For Daily updates see



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: nchubb@asttral.com Tel: 04 68 32 41 20 Web: www.asttral.com Siret No: 411 673 106 00018

French & UK Mortgages House Purchases, Capital Raising, Renovations, Remortgages, Bridging Loans, BTL. +44 (0)1189076586 +33 (0)7 80 00 62 97 +44 (0)7990934612 bluebaymortgages.co.uk info@bluebaymortgages.co.uk


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

Paris Tel: +33 142931842 London Tel: +44 845 680 1638 Email: info@nle-accounting.com

Providing quality, professional and efficient French legal advice in English Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930

Stop cleaning your pool yourself PoolGobbler Pro automatically removes all flies, wasps and leaves from your pool surface.


or call 0565 319623



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

Exclusive Healthcare

or sue.davage@wanadoo.fr 82120 Marsac

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

Tel 0033 (0)4 74 43 89 51 or 0033 (0)6 84 85 04 61 gary.automobiles@wanadoo.fr



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


Cars, motorhomes and vans wanted




HOME - CAR - HEALTH We insure UK registered cars for up to 12 months


(call Angeline) - 02 33 49 12 34 agence.lecomte@axa.fr

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Gary at his office near Lyon

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Also part-exchange. Collection in the UK or France. Polite service. Please email, text or telephone and we will call you back.

sunnyskycars@gmail.com or Tel +33 (0) 6 88 07 20 36 +44 (0) 7473 293494

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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: All of France with showrooms in the South West

FOSSE SEPTIQUE TREATMENT An ecological alternative to a pump out www.eco-tabs.biz


SSAFA FRANCE The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association

Help available for ex-servicemen and their families living in France Email: France@ssafa.org.uk France-wide answer service Tel: 05 53 24 92 38 The national charity helping serving and ex-Service men, women and their families, in need Registered Charity No. 210760. Est 1885

Electric Underfloor Heating Kits Extensions and New Build Tiles, Wood/Laminate Floors Insulation Boards Contact for Quotation info@chaleurosol.fr www.chaleurosol.fr


Movers - Shippers - Storers

Full and Part Loads throughout Europe Tel +44 (0)23 8065 2630 Email moving@cranburys.co.uk www.cranburys.co.uk

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

Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.com Siret - 48003796900015

FRANCE & UK COLLECTION Delivery and Removals Full or Part Loads

REALISTIC PRICES Call Steve: 05 49 97 11 25 stephen.short@wanadoo.fr Siret: 50323244900010A

The Connexion July 2018




Directory 25

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


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 info@milenlighthaulage.co.uk


REMOVALS UK - FRANCE - UK • Weekly Service • Full & Part Loads • Container Storage • BAR Members • On-line Quotation • Estimates in France

00 44 1722 414350 info@reflexmoodys.com www.reflexmoodys.com Company Regn No: UK 5186435 TVA / VAT No: UK 864 7217 04

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

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CHEAP PARCELS TO FRANCE One simple price up to 25Kg Delivery in 3 - 4 working days The savvy expat’s favourite service!

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Need Urgent Documents Delivered? Need a Full/Part Load? For all your Courier & Transport Needs


Gateway International for more information

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

through his website, which also features a movie of the PoolGobbler at work and comments from users. To order online, visit the website or send a letter with a French cheque (€59.95 for the PoolGobbler, plus €9.95 for an extra set of five filter bags and €6.50 for postage) to: Pure-Piscines (Jan van Gils), Le Bourg, 46700, Sérignac. Anyone who is not satisfied will get their money back. Pool professionals interested in selling the PoolGobbler, and those looking for more information, should contact Jan directly. 05 65 31 96 23 info@pure-piscines.com www.pure-piscines.com



Moving to or from 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

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

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Wide choice of finish options. Full customisation possible.

Bespoke Design service available. Delivery throughout France.


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Chenil Les Mille Calins English Run

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

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

www.goldenwaypets.com Telephone 02 33 37 49 19 Emergency 02 33 38 41 32 Fax 02 33 38 44 16

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

Steve Hayward Carpentry, masonry, plastering, kitchens, replacement windows and doors

www.mesnilrenovation.com Tel. 02 31 09 26 54 Siret 48423125300010

Premier Renovations WOODBURNERS Ash Grove Stoves Supplier of Hunter - Parkway


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 adrian.lenabaker@hotmail.fr

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Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasion, Christmas, Hand-made and Open - From €1.00 Hand Written Service Available

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Pete's Roofing Covering the Gard

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

04 66 72 75 84


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


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1800 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 contact@angloagence.com Dinan, Brittany

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Email: info@anglofrenchmail.com www.anglofrenchremovals.co.uk

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Furniture for France



The PoolGobbler will keep pools of up to 12 x 6 metres spotless and debris free

Siret No: 50066265500017

Multi-Service - Builders

English TV in your French Home

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

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

Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy

longden888@lycos.com www.roofingbuildingservices.com

Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice



02 97 27 58 50 www.tvbrittany.com

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: anthonymain.fr@gmail.com

www.midibuilder.com Siret 4846 8735 500012

26 Directory

05 SOUTH west


The Connexion July 2018


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

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

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

Plaster The Lot Qualified English Artisan

Plastering, Pointing, Crepi, Tiling, Plasterboard, Insulation, Painting Call: 05 65 10 76 90 Email: plasterthelot@yahoo.com


Aude / Herault Gary Alderson

+44 (0)1803 469367 / info@arbfrenchproperty.com / www.arbfrenchproperty.com

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High quality work by qualified gardeners


Siret: 53068838100017 Regions Covered: 46, 19

Electrician Friendly, Experienced, UK Qualified, French Registered Rewires, Installation, Fault Finding Tel 07 83 05 29 43 Email alderson.gary@orange.fr

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The Cats Inn

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

www.fuitedetection.fr 04 68 26 61 22

The Fixer

Long established professional here to assist you with ALL your French admin, tax or business issues. 06.46253087 www.corporateandlegal.org mailthefixer@gmail.com



design : parkes architecture SARL Architects & Designers Dossiers for Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables Interior & Landscape Design

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

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CONTACT PETER Maslen 05 53 31 95 88 / 06 86 94 85 78 peter.maslen@wanadoo.fr www.dordognecattery.com

Swimming Pool Leak Detection and Repair

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:


Siret 81115002800017

Hundreds of practical questions answered in Connexion helpguides


Bob Freeman ROBERT JONES ELECTRICITE Fully insured, registered electrician. Rewires, renovation, new builds, heating and A/C. Dépt. 47 Tél. 06 81 98 43 22 Email. info@agenelec.com www.agenelec.com

ELECTRICIAN Experienced & French Registered. Available for all types of electrical work. Insured and guaranteed. Areas: 16,17,24,47

Tel: 05 46 86 07 61 Email: trevor.miell@btopenworld.com

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


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

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


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

For gift ideas

see our shop at connexionfrance.com CHURCHES

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Office: 05 63 59 85 16

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City & Guilds Qualified

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Creation, Garden Maintenance, Tree Surgery, Felling Property Services

Sky, Freesat & French TV

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Info: 05 63 33 12 76 www.churchinmidipa.org

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DEMPSEY TREE SURGERY CONTRACTORS British trained & qualified tree surgeon All tree work undertaken.

Tel: 05 45 65 96 86 Mob: 06 61 90 04 92 enquiries@dempseytreesurgery.com www.dempseytreesurgery.com Working in dept: 16, 17, 24, 87 Siret: 48930027700014


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


Call Alcoholics Anonymous.0820 200 257

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ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS South West France Have you a problem? www.aafrance.net Or Call Shepperd Angela

The Connexion July 2018




Directory 27

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

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Looking for English speaking ASTRONOMERS Preferable central France.

Community events

All are welcome to Sunday mass, in English, at The Irish Chaplaincy, located at the

in Bordeaux area to socialise and practise English/French with. I am friendly, love reading, going to movies, horse-riding and would love to practise English with like-minded people.

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Organisers are looking for British artists to take part in an Art & Craft fair (250m2) in Trébeurden, Brittany (22560). Email TrebArtCraft@gmail.com or call 06 71 83 50 08 for more details.


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Worshippers are invited to Anglican church services held every Sunday in Bertric Burée, Dordogne. The first Sunday in the month sees a Service of the Word at 10.30, followed by Evensong at 18.00 during the summer. The second Sunday each month sees Holy Communion at 10.30 followed by a Bring and Share Lunch, while on the third Sunday there is a Family Service at 10.30. On the fourth Sunday, Holy Communion takes place at 10.30, then afterwards you are invited to join organisers for coffee following the service, in the Upper Room, 25 metres along the road opposite the church. They also have a large Book Barn, open during coffee time, where you will find hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs starting at 50cts each for books. See www.facebook.com/BertricBureeChurch for more information.


What’s next and what to expect

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Useful telephone numbers EMERGENCY NUMBERS u 18: Emergencies: This number connects to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) but they deal with medical emergencies and should be the first port of call in life-threatening situations u 15: Samu (for other urgent medical call-outs) u 17: Police / Gendarmes u 112: Universal European Emergency Services number - 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 0033 17 17 30 101) Email: simpleenergywithedf@edf.fr

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 wCONSULATES u British 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 u Irish, Paris: 01 44 17 67 00 uUS, Paris: 01 43 12 22 22 uCanadian, Paris: 01 44 43 29 00 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.service-public.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.

You can see more events and post your own at connexionfrance.com/community/events

beautifully restored Irish College, now the Centre Culturel Irlandais (5 Rue des Irlandais in the 5th arrondissement in Paris). Starts at 11.30, tea and coffee served. www.irishchaplaincyparis.fr The Church of England Chaplaincy of Hérault is part of the worldwide community that is the Church of England. All Saints Hérault is a mixed group of different ages, backgrounds and traditions, who meet in the Chapel of the Église protestante unie de France in the village of Saint-Pargoire, 10 km north east of Pézenas. Church Life focuses around the service of Holy Communion on the second Sunday of the month at 10.30. Refreshments are served after the service, providing an opportunity to chat and make friends. They extend a warm welcome to all Christian people to join them at their services and church events, especially those new to their “parish”. To find out more, please visit: http://heraultenglishchurch.fr; send an email to achstp@gmail.com or telephone +33 (0)6 60 24 54 57. During the summer, the church of Valette at Lougratte near Castillonnès (Lot-etGaronne), which was beautifully restored

by local volunteers, hosts a weekly series of exhibitions of paintings, photography, sculpture and ceramics. The opening exhibition is of botanical watercolours by Sue Walters (member of Assn. Les Artistes Pourpres AP) The exhibition is open from July 6-12 and from 10.00-18.00 each day with the artist in attendance. The opening is on Friday July 6 from 18.00 and all are welcome. See www.artaquitaine.com for more. Opera buffs will not want to miss Andrew Field’s presentation of “Les Variations de la vie d’un Baryton” at l’Eglise de St Hilaire, Sarrazac, Dordogne on July 15 at 13.00. Baritone Andrew promises to delight with songs from opera both comedic and dramatic. Explanations come from Patricia Lebrun, while an English translation will be provided. Entry costs €10. For information and reservations, call 06 16 83 53 74 Since its foundation in 1993, the youth orchestra from St Petersburg has regularly toured Europe and joined with local choirs to produce the ‘MUSICHORALES’. This year sees the festival return to its birthplace of La Rochefoucauld, Charente.

The choir, L’Air de Rien, under the direction of their Chef de Choeur, Jean-Louis Charrier, is organising the festival which will also include up to 150 choristers from other choirs. Les Cordes d’Argent, which features Russian instruments, will be giving two concerts, one in Buissières-Boffy during the week beginning July 15 and the festival ends with concerts of choristers and the orchestra at 21.00 on Wednesday 18 and Thursday July 19 in the church in La Rochefoucauld, and finally in Angoulême cathedral at 20.30 on Friday July 20. For information please visit www.musichorales.net There will be a “Swinging in the Rain” concert by Les Mirabelles ladies choir at the church in St-Colomb de Lauzun, Lotet-Garonne. 19.30 on August 6. Free entry. The Gensac Summer Music Festival enters its 31st year of performances. Artistic Director Scott Sandmeier has gathered musicians of international renown for an exceptional program of “Grand Concerts” and “Concerts Découvertes.” Several villages in Gironde will open their churches to present the highly ac-

claimed “Concerts Découvertes”: Lapouyade on July 27 at 21h; Rauzan on July 28 at 21.00; Gensac on July 29 at 18.00; and Montagne St Martin Church on July 31 at 20.30. The “Grands Concerts” present a brilliant program of musical jewels with soloists Clara Pouvreau and Pierre Hamel. Concerts in Ste Croix du Mont Church, Friday August 3 at 21.00 and Gensac Church, Sunday August 5 at 18.00, followed by the chance to meet the musicians during a convivial cocktail reception in the gardens. Orchestre de Chambre de la Gironde, www.ocg.gensac.fr; Contact Norma Jarman: ocg@free.fr; 05 57 47 46 67 and 06 83 30 14 35.

28 Directory



The Connexion July 2018


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 info@hars.co.uk or call us on 00 44 1635 48724.

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 info@eco-tabs.biz

AXA Insurance in France from a dedicated English speaking agency - Don’t get lost in translation Agence AXA International is a dedicated English speaking AXA agency in France. The agency is staffed with a multi-skilled, native English speaking team, with years of experience in French, British and Irish insurance and banking between them As native English speakers we are able to make sure our clients understand the differences between foreign and French insurance. Our claims are handled in-house at the agency and we are there at the end of the phone if our clients need to make a claim. We offer a wide range of insurance from

traditional domestic insurances like house insurance, including second/holiday home, chambre d’hôtes, gites, mobile home, car insurance (including temporary cover for cars with foreign registration), classic cars, motorbikes, camping cars and touring caravans. If you need health insurance cover then we have a very comprehensive range of solutions for you starting with a simple hospital cover, EHIC top up insurance, right up to the award winning AXA PPP International Health care policy. This is a fantastic solution that provides worldwide cover and is especially interesting if you are not entitled to any refund from the French social security system. Once we’ve protected your belongings, we haven’t forgotten about protecting you! Our range extends to funeral plans, long term care plan, life assurance, pensions, assurance

vie/investments and income protection. Whatever your need is, we can personalise a solution for you. If you are a business client then we can offer tailor-made solutions to protect not only your business, but to protect you and your future. With over 30 years’ experience in banking, our team is happy to offer help and advice on AXA Banque products including our free bank account (conditions apply, please ask), and the fantastic Oligo account which offers many benefits which includes a cashback on your AXA insurance premiums paid through the account, interest paid on credit balances plus much, much more. If you are looking to buy a French property we can help you to finance the purchase. Our aim is to help you understand your insurance, in a language you understand, so that nothing is lost in translation.

Contact us on 00 33 (0)5 61 07 16 84 agence.international@axa.fr or visit our website www.axa-in-france.fr

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.”

Watson European can deliver items safely to your door with great service www.watsoneuropean.co.uk Tel: Andy +44 (0) 7876 504 547 Dave +44 (0) 7515 722 772 Email: enquiry@watsoneuropean.co.uk

INSURANCE (1) Protecting what’s yours

INSURANCE (1) Protecting what’s yours


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(1) Non life insurance provided by Pacifica for property and belongings held in France, life insurance provided by Predica for residents in France only. Companies regulated by the insurance code, subsidiaries of Credit Agricole Insurances. The events guaranteed and the conditions figure in the contract. The insurance contracts and their options are provided by PACIFICA, the insurance company, subsidiary of Crédit Agricole SA. PACIFICA: Company regulated by the «Code des Assurances». Limited company with a consolidated capital of 252,432,825€ untied funds. Head office: 8-10 boulevard de Vaugirard - 75724 Paris cedex 15.352 358 865 RCS Paris. The events guaranteed and the conditons figure in the contract. (2) A loan is a commitment and must be repaid. Check your ability to repay the loan before making the commitment. *Free access by internet (excluding fees charged by your own service provider) Local costs apply when phoning within France from a fixed line. Check with your service provider when calling from abroad.

ONE STOP SOLUTION www.britline.com*

CA Britline is a branch of the Caisse Régionale de Crédit Agricole Mutuel de Normandie - Head Office: 15, esplanade Brillaud-de-Laujardière - CS 25014 - 14050 CAEN CEDEX 4 Cooperative company with variable capital, registered as a credit company - 478 834 930 RCS Caen - Insurance brokerage company registered under matricule Nr 07 022 868. CA Britline is a member of the Guaranteed Fund for deposits, the Guarantee of Investors warranties, and Guaranteed Fund for investors. CA Britline is controlled by L’Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution: 61 rue Taitbout - 75436 Paris Cedex 09.

The Connexion

July 2018

So much more than a library! KNOWN as the ‘friendly lib­ rary,’ La Souterraine English Lib­rary and Information Centre, in Creuse, is keen to make new friends as many member families have returned to the UK. Founded in 2009, it is more than a library and members and volunteers take part in numerous activities.

Co-president John Essom said: “We are also a social community and as many of us have been here for several years we have between us a wealth of local knowledge and an understanding of how the French system works. “Our cafe has free Wifi and there are activity groups including French classes, walking, singing, camera club and

an art group which only started in January last year but which has produced some stunning work. We also put on events, including quizzes and get togethers such as a paper plane race and, soon, we will take on the local pétanque team.” Fellow co-president, Steve Chicken feels the library plays an important social role and members say “the information on offer helps deal with the day to day practicalities of living in France.” Based in a 15th century building that belongs to the mairie, the library has around 3,000 fiction and non-fiction books, and DVDs. Membership is €24 a year per household and group activities charge a small fee per session. Mr Essom said one aim was to foster integration in the community and some French classes were oversubscribed. “There is quite a buzz in our café and we have French locals dropping in from time to time.” lasouterraineenglishlibrary.fr

Legion has wide coverage and a wide range of services

Mike Hood carries the flag at a ceremony at Montsauche-les-Settons is asked to carry the British flag and everyA CHANCE chat while picking up a one comes up and shakes his hand, even neighbour’s child from school led to Sylvie François Hollande when he was president.” Hood discovering Lyon Liberation Branch Mrs Hood wants more people to know of the Royal British Legion, where she is the Legion is present in an area from Lyon now the welfare officer. into Bourgogne and Franche-Comté and it “We had just moved here 10 years ago supports any present and former members and a man overheard me, realised I was of the Armed Forces and British and asked if I would their dependants. do a translation for him. He See also Page 27 Lyon branch is also lookwas from the Anciens Com­ for Community events ing for new members as battants’ association. I discovnumbers are falling and they wish to conered honouring the dead from the Second tinue welfare work as well as taking part in World War is still taken very seriously. the many commemorations in an area “Since then my husband, Mike and I which saw a great deal of action and where have been to many of the ceremonies and the Resistance was strong. have learnt an awful lot about local history “I would like to reach out to people who and got to know local people. Often Mike

Every picture tells a story... find a way to tell your own

DRAWING pads, pencils and tablets are linking a global sketching community that has just extended into Languedoc. A new chapter of Urban Sketchers Languedoc has been set up by Annette Morris and its events have seen people come together to share experience and encourage others to make more of their landscape. Sketching sessions are free and anyone can join in, whether a first timer or with some experience. Internet marketing consultant Annette said: “I am passionate about sketching and I decided to set this up as I think many people are much more confident about sitting in an outdoor public place and drawing if they can do so in a group,. “Urban Sketchers Languedoc is part of a global initiative called Urban Sketchers and there are groups all over the world. There were only four official ‘chapters’ in France and

Sketches are individual and spontaneous and tell a story they are further north so I wanted to create one here. “Just a short while ago we were accepted to join the worldwide network which is really exciting. Our group is a bit unusual as we are not based in a city and as we are far more rural than urban, I created it

Have your group featured

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 via connexionfrance.com/Community To have your association/ group featured email details to news@connexionfrance.com

Community 31


for the whole region and we host meet-ups in different towns and villages. “We are a truly mixed, international group with French, Dutch, Canadian, Belgian, Hun­garian, Australian, British ... anyone who wants to draw. “It is a bilingual group, so also great for anyone who wants to improve their French. “I like to make it a social occasion so we start off with coffee and then often have lunch together. It is a good way of exchanging ideas about sketching and finding out what techniques other people use.” Some people have not drawn

since school and others are professionals, but there is no pressure: “Sketching is a spontaneous activity. It is like telling a story by drawing. Everyone has their own version. “It is amazing to see how we can all interpret the same subject in so many different ways.” After an event, sketchers are encouraged to share photos of their sketches on the group’s Facebook page. The idea for Urban Sketchers began in 2007 in Seattle when journalist and illustrator Gab­ riel Campanario created an online forum for sketchers who draw on location, not from photos or memory. Ms Morris is keen to see new people join in: “It has grown over winter. Often there are between 20 and 30 of us, fewer if the weather is bad. “It’s fun and I have met some lovely people and come to think of it I have never met an unhappy sketcher!.” Meet-ups are monthly, on the first Wednesday, with Lagrasse, Aude, on July 4 and Roque­ brun, Hérault on August 1. There is a special meet in Béziers, Hérault, on July 21 for the 60th global Sketchcrawl. Find the Languedoc sketchers by searching Facebook for Sketch Languedoc

may not know we exist and who may need our help. It may be an ex-serviceman or woman has lost their partner and is lonely and we can call in for a chat or talk on the phone. If someone is in financial difficulties, there are funds available and I can help with the application paperwork.” “Most members are in their late 70s now and we need fresher blood.” Besides the welfare work, there are also fund-raising events such as the Poppy Appeal. Memorial events are a way to get involved in the community. “We as British residents are very welcome; they appreciate the fact that we participate.” Email the branch at LyonLiberation. Secretary@RBL.Community

Town marks Scots link to its history

Bagpipes, tartan, kilts and Highland Games take over Cher town Aubigny-sur-Nère, each year around July 14 to celebrate the town’s special relationship with Scotland. More than 100 volunteers help organise the Fêtes Franco Ecossaises which draws 30,000 visitors from all over the world and looks back to a time when Aubigny-sur-Nère was Scottish. Deputy mayor François Gresset said: “We celebrate the friendship between Scotland and France that goes back to the Hundred Years War, when France was fighting England, and five thousand Scots came to help King Charles VI who had just been defeated at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. “They were followed by a further 10,000 men and were led by John Stuart of Darnley.

“When Louis VII came to the throne he thanked the Scots by giving Stuart the town. The Stuarts kept it until 1672 when there were no more heirs.” The Fêtes started in 1990 and are becoming more popular. Its twin town, Had­dington, East Lothian, also sends its pipe band to play with the Aubigny pipe band which started in 1993. “There is plenty of Scottish music, games, a market, a huge feast, where of course haggis is on the menu and on Sunday clans gather in their tartans and parade through town. “We have had very important Scottish families come here, including the head of the Ramsay clan. It is important to continue to mark the links.” This year’s event is on July 13-15. www.aubigny.net


French bank account only demands are illegal

Xxxxx Mark Zuckerberg and Nicolas Lemonnier

Jogger’s litter selfies led to global scheme JOGGER Nicolas Lem­onnier thought little of picking up rubbish from the roadside while on a run but posting a photo on Facebook of him doing so has led to a global litter scheme. The Nantes osteopath said: “People immediately reacted to the photo and things took off!” He formed a Facebook group, Run Eco Team, with members posting selfies with rubbish... then Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg got in touch and posted a film on his own page and the number of people joining the scheme rocketed to 50,000 in 103 countries. There is now also a Run Eco Team app for members to log their efforts. Nicolas, 35, later joined Mark Zuckerberg for a litter run in Palo Alto, California. “He is a nice guy. Everything was very relaxed and natural.” That run might not be his last with a globally known figure as President Macron’s officials said he was interested in joining him on a collection run when he has time to do so. All that is needed are rubber gloves in a light bag and a second bag for the litter.

FRENCH consumer fraud agency the DGCCRF has warned firms it is illegal to refuse payments in euros from bank accounts in other EU countries, including the UK, under the SEPA agreement. This means, for example, UK residents with French holiday homes should not need a French bank account to pay French utility bills and instead can pay from a UK account... if their UK bank allows it. If done through a normal account, costs should be no more than a local transfer (plus currency exchange fees if appropriate) and the money should be paid in 1-2 days. The DGCCRF alert came after complaints from consumers who had tried to set up payments and standing orders and been refused unless they paid from a French bank. UK banks confirm they process payments to SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area) – which includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechten­ stein, Norway, Switzerland, Monaco and San Marino – however, their approach is

inconsistent, and some restrict activity to certain accounts and impose charges. It is not clear what impact Brexit may have but the European Payments Council has said UK banks have indicated they would like to remain inside SEPA. The launch of SEPA in 2014 standardised bank account IBANs and BIC codes, meaning cross-border transactions should be more convenient. The European Central Bank said consumers only need one bank account. From this, they can effect transfers and direct debit payments in euro around the euro area as easily as making national payments. “They could pay rent for children studying abroad, pay for a holiday home or pay for services provided by European companies (mobile telephone services, insurance, utilities). “If you live, work or study outside your home country you no longer need one account at home and another abroad.” In practice and with the extra exchange rate implications, the European Payments Council said UK banks make a com-

mercial decision on what services to offer clients. This means UK customers can face problems when they try to set up a payment. We asked leading banks for clarification: Barclays allows direct debits from a basic account and said other payments could be done online or by smartphone. HSBC said customers needed a euro HCA (HSBC Currency Account) from which they can set up SEPA Direct Debits. Lloyds Bank customers can pay French utilities using an international standing order from a Lloyds international current account, but not SEPA direct debits (which are also not available with Halifax or Bank of Scotland current accounts). Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland personal current account customers cannot set up an international standing order but can make and receive individual international payments. Royal Bank of Scotland current account holders can set up standing orders in euros and direct debits in euros.

The Connexion

AIRLINE travellers with large pets will, if they are allowed to travel with them, have to put them in the hold as they are not allowed in the cabin, which may mean they will go through the baggage X-ray scanner like all luggage. However, some passengers fear X-rays endanger the animals’ health and have asked airports and the civil aviation authority for information. The French civil aviation authority DGAC’s technical section (STAC) looked at French and European Union rules plus X-ray scanner documentation and said humans and animals would need to go through a baggage scanner 250 times to reach the maximum human exposure level. It concludes there is no risk to the health of an animal that passes through a scanner. Scanner firm HTDS agrees, saying dosimeter tests found 200 trips through a scanner gave 0.60mSv when the human safe level is 1mSv/year and unsafe exposure starts above 500mSv. Some airlines do not allow animals to travel in the hold – or in the cabin – and, similarly, some airports allow passengers to walk their animals through a scanner, as humans do, but others only offer a journey through a baggage scanner.

Making your

life in france less taxing


July 2018

Pets face trip in X-ray scanner to travel in hold

Photo: Santamarcanda CC BY-SA 4.0

32 Practical

France: 0810 23 84 23 - UK: 08451 23 84 23 - Email: info@kentingtons.com

The Connexion

July 2018

The Connexion

Money / Tax page



Paying impôts can help avoid paying capital gains tax I have lived in France for four years full-time and I am now about to sell my house. However, I have been told that I will be charged capital gains tax on the sale. Surely this is not correct? Can you advise? J.P. If you have submitted tax declarations to the tax office for at least two complete tax years of the four that you have been in France, then there is no tax due on the sale of your home since the sale of principal private residences is exempt from capital gains tax. The issue here seems to be more one of being able to show that you were resident in France and that your home was here so as to be able to benefit from the exemption. This contrasts with some people who have been here for a while but have not submitted income tax declarations. This means that the tax office does not know that the person is in France, nor that France is where they are fiscal residents, nor that they actually had a home here. In these circumstances, the tax office would not class the property being sold as a main home and so would not apply the capital gain exemption.

Allowance is for direct family When a childless person wants to leave money to a nephew or niece am I right in thinking that, although there is no special allowance on death, there is a special taxfree allowance of €31,865 for a lifetime gift – at least within France? However, I don’t know if any British gift tax would then apply if the donor lived in France and the nephew lived in Britain? M.R. You are correct that there is a tax reduction on death called an abattement fiscal for gifts between uncle/aunts and nieces/nephews, but it is of €7,967. Those who are of further family degrees than the immediate niece/nephew to the uncle/ aunt have a tax reduction of €1,595. As for the tax-free allowance of €31,865 for lifetime gifts or cash only, this is only for children, grand-children or great grandchildren, but the donor has to be under 80 to make use of this allowance. It is not allowed for anyone else,

Low-rate loans to ease renovations

Send your financial queries to

Hugh MacDonald at

news@connexionfrance.com such as uncle/aunts and nieces/nephews. If the donor is in France, this gift has to be notarised (registered through a notaire), but since in the UK it is the estate that pays any tax, not the beneficiary, the UK beneficiary should not be liable for any tax.

Pay fiscal debts with a stamp I HAVE received an email from the Direction des Finances about buying un timbre fiscal. What is this for? Why do I need it? P.E. When debts are due to the tax office, they can, in addition to being paid in the normal way by cheque or bank transfer, be paid by using fiscal stamps, the ‘timbre fiscal’. These stamps can be paper or electronic and can be used for anything that is due to the tax office such as for driving licences, boat licences, foreign resident cards or some court proceedings. They are available from the tax office, so, for example, instead of including a cheque for a passport renewal, one can enclose a fiscal stamp.

Do RSI payments help pension? We moved to France in 2011 and have had a B&B since 2012 as a micro-entreprise, paying cotisations to the RSI. We anticipate retiring next year and closing the business after eight years of cotisations. Can we expect a small pension from them? Also do you know if our healthcare would revert to Cpam but be funded by the UK? A.T. The RSI, today called the Sécurité Sociale pour les Indépendants, is not necessarily the pension organisation – it is usually the one dealing with social security. To benefit from a pension, you would need to

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

have contributed to an organisation (a caisse) such as CIPAV, the Caisse Interprofessionnelle de Prévoyance et d’Assurance Vieillesse des Professions Libérales. The rules to benefit from a pension in France are complicated and vary according to your activity prior to retirement, and the caisse to which you contributed. In your situation, the best way to know what and how much you may be entitled to is to contact your pension caisse. With regard to your question about reverting to UK-funded French healthcare, this is something that you will need to apply for if you have not done so already, through the E121/S1 system. Whether Cpam will revert you automatically or not, we have no way of knowing, so the best thing to do is to write to them next year to tell them of your retirement and request the transfer (if you have already registered through the E121/ S1), and if you have not already registered, then you will need to apply to the Department of Work and Pensions for your E121/S1 and register. Otherwise you will have to pay for French healthcare under the normal rules.

PAYE on pensions is a no-go With the introduction of the new pay-as-you-go (PAYE) tax scheme in France from the beginning of 2019, how does the scheme intend to collect taxes from pension schemes based in the UK? G.A. The PAYE scheme here in France only works with organisations that are capable of paying the French taxes that are collected to the tax office. Accordingly, the scheme does not operate for UK income sources. The tax office will probably instead place people on the monthly tax payment system but, from what we have seen so far, this is not being applied in a blanket manner to all foreigners so whether it will apply at all remains to be seen.

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.

anyone planning home improvements such as a garden workshop, new kitchen or rewiring a house can get a loan for up to €75,000 with lower-than-normal interest rates through a prêt travaux or crédit travaux. This is a personal loan (prêt personnel) but is directly linked to the work being done and cannot be used for any other project as the lender asks for receipts and invoices matching the loan. Other personal loans can be used in any way the borrower wishes, the only restriction is to repay the loan in the timeframe agreed. In the prêt travaux the loan is granted on condition of being used for a project and may be called a crédit affecté travaux as the money is allocated for the project. The lender demands estimates before the loan is agreed and this assurance that the work will be done allows a reduced interest rate, as does a short repayment term. In a personal loan, once the loan is agreed the money is paid into the borrower’s account and even if the work is not done the loan must be repaid. For a prêt travaux the loan is not triggered if the project does not go ahead and, in such a case, there is nothing to repay. Some banks restrict the level of personal loans – sometimes to just €8,000 – but a prêt travaux can cover works up to €75,000. A more expensive project may be eligible for a prêt immobilier. Work to improve energy efficiency may be eligible for the 0% éco-prêt à taux zéro that is available until the end of 2018 for projects worth up to €30,000. There is no earnings limit for this.

Insurance cover is key for new Nickel card

INSURANCE is one of the key attractions of the new Nickel Chrome premium bank card just launched by Compte Nickel, the ‘simple account’ that is opened and run through tabac tobacconists. Aimed at people who travel regularly and want a low-cost card, it gives travel, winter sports, death, online shopping and personal effects cover as well as free payment for services. It costs €30 a year on top of the €20 Compte Nickel charge.

Fix your tax errors

TAXPAYERS who receive their tax demand avis d’impôt and spot they have made a mistake in their online declaration are able to now amend it in their espace particulier page at impots.gouv.fr Virtually all information can be changed apart from your address and marital status. The service is open from July 1 to December 18, 2018.

Online pirates ahoy!

VICTIMS of online bank card fraud can report it on a new web platform, called Perceval, to avoid a visit to the commissariat de police. This is not for stolen cards but for cases where card details have been pirated. See tinyurl.com/Cx-Perceval

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

34 Practical: Money


The Connexion

July 2018

Tax considerations of owning property in France 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 It is always important to understand the tax implications when buying property, particularly where a foreign tax regime is involved and/or you have liabilities in more than one country. You should be particularly careful with a second (effectively investment) property that will not be regarded as your principal private residence, as you generally lose the main home reliefs and may have other tax considerations. Here we look at three key property taxes you need to be aware of in France (there are also local taxes such as the taxe d’habitation and foncière), whether you are resident or non-resident. Wealth tax This formed part of President Macron’s tax reforms for 2018. Wealth tax as we knew it – Impôt sur la Fortune (ISF) which applied to your household’s total wealth – was repealed and replaced by a new real estate wealth tax – Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilière (IFI). This was good news for savers and investors, since bank accounts and capital investments are no longer liable, but property investors may feel hard done by. Individuals resident in France are taxed on the value of their worldwide real estate assets as at January 1 each year. This includes all residences – though the value of a main home can be reduced by 30% for wealth tax purposes – holi-

day homes and investment properties, whether owned directly or indirectly. This is based on the property wealth of the whole household (note, unmarried couples living together are treated as one household for this purpose). Non-residents are liable on French real estate, including any rights over property in France. However, you only need to pay wealth tax if your total taxable property assets are worth €1.3million or more. There is an €800,000 tax-free allowance, and rates start at 0.5% for assets between €800,000 and €1.3million, rising progressively to 1.5% for assets over €10million.

Capital gains tax We all hope our property will grow nicely in value, but how much tax will we have to pay when we come to sell? French residents pay capital gains tax on worldwide property, including shares in property-holding companies, at 19%, plus surtaxes, plus 17.2% social charges. The maximum total rate is 42.2%. There are no surtaxes for gains under €50,000, but after that they rise progressively from 2% to 6% for gains over €260,000. Capital gains tax is reduced for the length of time you have owned the property, starting from the sixth year of ownership, with full exemption after 22 years. Social charges are also reduced after five years, but you have to wait 30 years to escape the charges completely and the reduction is weighted towards the last seven years. For residents, your main home is exempt from capital gains tax in France, provided it is your habitual and actual residence at the time of sale. You would need to be fully integrated into the French tax system to benefit. There can be a 12-month breathing space if you meet certain

conditions. Note, however, that a 2017 constitutional court decision ruled that if the taxpayer leaves France and becomes tax resident elsewhere, the exemption does not apply and the gain is taxable in full. So, if you are leaving France, you will want to do your best to find a buyer and conclude the sale before you leave. EU or EEA citizens who were formerly resident in France but move abroad (such as Britons moving back to the UK) are also entitled to an exemption on the gain made on the sale of one French property after they leave, under certain conditions, as long as they were formerly fiscally resident in France for at least two years. Note that this may no longer apply after Brexit or the Brexit transition period. Having rented the property out is not a bar to benefiting but if the sale is after December 31 of the year five years after the year when you left, it must have been available for your use since at least January 1 of the year before the year of the sale. The exemption is limited to €150,000 of the net gain, and it is only available once. This could apply for example to a Briton who leaves France and becomes established as a UK resident but keeps their former French main home as a holiday home or rental property. If you are in receipt of a state pension or have a disability card, you may be exempt from capital gains tax on the sale of real estate if your taxable income was below a certain level in the previous two tax years and you had no wealth tax liability. Finally, a property other than your main home may also be exempt from capital gains tax if you use the proceeds to buy a main home for yourself, not having owned one in the preceding four years. Non-residents selling French property are fully liable to French capital gains tax. UK residents may also have to pay tax in the

UK, though tax paid in France is offset against that due in the UK. The 17.2% social charges that are also due in France cannot be offset against the UK tax. Income tax If you are renting out a French property, the net income will be taxed at the scale rates of income tax, currently ranging from 14% (for income over €9,807) to 45% (income over €153,784). Additionally you will pay 17.2% social charges. There are optional schemes (rent thresholds allowing) which give fixed expense allowances. for example 30% for unfurnished property. Note that the 30% fixed rate of tax (including both tax and social charges) introduced this year for investment income does not apply to rental income. If you are thinking about buying investment property, it is worth first weighing up the tax implications compared to capital investments, particularly since the 2018 tax reforms favour savings and investments in shares, bonds, assurance-vie etc. There are other issues to take into account besides tax. For example, will you have enough diversification among your investment assets and enough liquid assets should you need to release cash relatively quickly? Take the time to look at all the various factors, and have a chat with a professional financial adviser, to establish what is best for you. There may be ways to lower your tax liabilities which you are not aware of. 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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The Connexion


Work 35


Appreciating cultural differences is key at work French and British businesses do not operate in the same way – as any Briton who has worked for a French company will tell you. It means meetings can easily turn into a minefield of misunderstandings due to cultural differences. Hélène Fages who left a career in international banking to run workshops on understanding these differences, including for the British Embassy in Paris, likens the topic to an iceberg. “The tip represents obvious differences such as food, clothes, architecture etc. “The hidden part is much bigger and represents the aspects you have to work at to discover,” she said. “You can put them into seven broad headings for business: modes of communication, relation to hierarchy, to risk, to time, to space, to rules and modes of thinking.” The importance of understanding this to businesses who work in both cultures is clear. In fact consultant Guy Bondonneau, from WCT CrossCultural, said understanding key differences is vital for anyone planning to work in or with a French firm: “France and Britain are very close geographically but there are enormous divergences in the way they operate in business. “A lot of people think they can continue with their own culture, but if you do not know the way things work and do not fully understand the message the person in front of you is trying to convey, you could end up with problems.” He said meetings are a good way of illustrating differences:

Photo: Free-Photos_CC0_pixabay


Understanding the basic ‘codes’ of the office in France is important to a successful career

A decision may have been taken but you may have missed it Guy Bondonneau

“Firstly, there is the attitude towards time. In the UK, a 10am meeting will start at 10am. In France, meetings do not start on time, because there will be general chat first and some people may arrive late. It is best to arrive on time but do not be surprised if it does not get off to a prompt start”. Greetings are important. “If there are not too many people, it is best to do as the French do and go round the table and

shake hands with all those present. It is worth the effort to make contact with everyone individually.” Addressing others at the meeting is generally more formal in French companies, he added. “Hierarchy is more rigid and the boss is almost seen as God. The vous form is de rigueur. It is a way of keeping your distance and showing who is in charge.” But Ms Fages said business norms are changing: “Every

company and individual is different and things change. “Tu” and first names are becoming acceptable, so there you must listen and discover the hierarchy rules in the place where you are.” Mr Bondonneau added that any agenda should be seen as a guide rather than a rigid list to get through. “Meetings are a place for discussion. Debate and confrontation are acceptable

son may say, ‘I agree with you up to a point ...’. “A British person will know that what he really means is, ‘I don’t agree at all’, while anyone else would be forgiven for understanding that they were not far from agreement. Each country has its own communication codes.” A major part of the cultural workshops that Ms Fages runs deal with asking questions: “I ask people to look at themselves and their expectations. “In France, for example, feedback is much more likely to be direct and could even be negative while in the UK criticism will be more cautious.” Another point to remember is that in general the French work to live, while in the UK there is a tendency towards the American live to work model. Relationships at work are, however, seen as important and building networks during a lunch break is a good way to make contacts. So what is the best way to work with cultural differences? “You do not have to change everything about the way you work – but you need to understand the differences and incorporate the foreign culture into your own,” she added.

Is property a wise investment for French residents?

Advantages of learning office ‘rules’

for both sides to understand Claire Milner has worked in what the other person really the Paris branch of an American means, even when you can speak software company since 2012 the other language well.” and recently attended one of the She says she now understands courses on cultural differences that the cultural differences are run by Hélène Fages. deeply ingrained. She says she wishes she had “After the course, two coltaken part earlier as she found leagues were due to have a work sometimes frustrating meeting with a French client. I because of these differences but talked to them about what I had now hopes she can look at them learnt. “French clients often in a different way. want an enormous amount of She has found that these difdetail, far more than my compaferences can be significant: ny is used to giving. “For example,” she said, “The Both the “This can lead to tensions in a French tend to be much less meeting, but knowing that this is willing to take business risks French and the way the client works meant so it takes a lot longer for any project to be accepted and they British tend to both sides came out thinking they had had a constructive seem to want 100% agreement talk in code meeting.” from everyone concerned She has this advice: “If you can, before moving forward. Claire Milner do a course on cultural differ“That can be very frustrating ences. If not, come with an open and you can easily take it permind and read as many books as you can. sonally and feel you might be losing your The best thing is to keep on learning and touch, when in fact it is because the keep a sense of humour. There is no bad and approach is different.” good, it is just different. She says communication is not only about “There can be great benefit appreciating speaking good French: “Both the French our differences and realising how they comand British tend to talk in code, but we use plement each other.” different codes, so it is difficult sometimes

in France. “To be frank and honest is good. However to persuade someone in France you must build up your argument carefully before you present a fact. In the UK we tend to produce a fact and then give a reason.” Ms Fages added: “For many French people it is acceptable to interrupt a speaker, while for many British people it goes against their code of conduct because they think it is rude. “Rather than get annoyed at this seemingly impolite behaviour, Britons should ask themselves what are the positive aspects of interrupting. “There is no need to imitate French behaviour but try to accept its contribution to the meeting. Likewise, the French person must not think that the British person is uninterested in the debate, just because he does not leap in with his ideas.” Watch out, too, for meetings that do not end with a clear decision. Mr Bondonneau said: “A decision may have been taken but you may have missed it. Communication is subtle and you need to read between the lines. “In the UK, we must remember that people tend to talk in code. For example a British per-

There are many tax implications to think about when buying property, especially investment property – the new French real estate wealth tax, capital gains tax, income tax on rentals etc. And when is the best time to buy and sell?

Talk to the people who know

0 805 112 163 (N0 Vert) france@blevinsfranks.com www.blevinsfranks.com

Blevins Franks can help you weigh up the tax costs compared to capital investments and recommend personalised tax and estate planning solutions.


INTERNATIONAL TAX ADVICE • INVESTMENTS • ESTATE PLANNING • PENSIONS 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.

Avoid driving into fine double trouble SELF-employed people and owners of small businesses without employees could find themselves in double trouble if they have a company car and are caught speeding or receive a fine for a traffic offence. This is due to a law change in 2017 aimed at preventing company car drivers dodging fines – and penalty point losses – for offences committed while driving for professional reasons. Before the change, the company would receive the fine and could pay it instead of the driver who committed the offence. However, the law now requires companies to identify by registered mail any drivers caught speeding or committing other motoring offences within 45 days. The fine is then passed on to the driver for payment. Failure to identify the driver within the allotted time can result in a €750 fine plus the price of the original ticket for the company. However, there are cases when a sole trader may have bought a car in his company name and thus be the offending driver and also the company asked to identify the driver.

The President of the Fédération of Auto-Entrepreneurs, Grégoire Leclercq, said this is most likely when someone has taken advantage of the law which allows some business owners to claim back VAT on the purchase of a car, bought in the company name. This applies to those who charge VAT and have a turnover of between €33,000 and €70,000. Then the same person could receive the fine for the offence and a further €750 fine if they, as company owner, do not notify the authorities that they (the same person) were the driver who committed the offence. There is a way to avoid this... a sole trader can request that the registration certificate of any affected vehicle is altered so that it is in their personal name (personne physique) and not their company name (personne morale). These amendments can be made online at the website of the Agence National des Titres Sécurisés, (immatriculation. ants.gouv.fr) under the heading “je souhaite faire une autre demande.” (I wish to make another request).

The Connexion


July 2018

Left, one of restorer Chantal Jean’s contemporary works, which are for sale. Right, Ms Jean in her workshop in Rocamadour, in Lot-et-Garonne

CRAFTS in focus

Delicacy, intricacy and a love of nature are key to the work of a stainedglass window restorer

Methodical manner needed to restore stained-glass art

Small business and tax advice How will the new French ‘PAYE’ rate be calculated? My last article spoke about the major reform with the launch of Prélèvement à la Source (PAS) – a French form of PAYE starting next year. The basic principle of this is that employers in France will be asked to deduct and pay across the PAS from their employees’ pay. The idea being that the net amount an employee receives will be their disposable income, or income available for their own use and that there will be no further taxes to pay on it. So what will be the basis of this calculation? Unlike the British system which applies a PAYE deduction according to the person’s tax bracket, the French system will instead use the previous year’s assessment as the basis. Therefore, this year’s 2018 assessment on your 2017 earnings will be the basis to determine the PAS rates for 2019. We anticipate that the 2018 avis (income tax bill) will show the percentage rates that will be used for the PAS in 2019. However, the PAS system has an added complexity in that in France people are taxed as households and not as individuals as is the system in the UK. Therefore, there could be three to four rates to choose from, one for either spouse and one for the household. In the case of an employee, the tax office will inform the employer of the rate to use and the employee can either use this rate, the one of the household or a neutral one. Most readers of this article are not French employees and are perhaps instead in receipt of a foreign pension – so the question is how will PAS apply in such a case? As France cannot oblige the source country of an expat pension to pay the source tax, the PAS will be based on their previous declaration and the amount will be deducted by direct debit from their French bank account. This is similar to the current ‘on account’ payment system under which tax payments are made by monthly or quarterly payments. Next month we discuss potential issues with the implementation of this system and the so called année blanche (no tax year!). This column was written by Olaf Muscat Baron who is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Accountants UK, a French expert comptable and an International tax advisor. He is the principal accountant of Fiscaly, an accountancy firm based in the Dordogne which serves individuals and businesses in or out of France. See www.fiscaly.fr or call 09 81 09 00 15

Chantal Jean with one of her latest restoration jobs – a stained-glass window that she will work on for about a month by JANE HANKS France has more stained glass windows than any country in the world, which means there are opportunities for stained glass experts to work on restoration projects as well as modern creations. At present there are 450 businesses with 1,100 maître verriers or vitraillistes and around 80% of their work is in restoration. Their skills are recognised around the world. Chantal Jean has her workshop in the oldest house in Rocamadour, Lot, close to the sanctuary and its seven chapels and has taken care of all the recent stained glass restoration work at the site. She is now working on a 19th-century window with a figure of Christ and says it will take about a month to complete. “I keep as much of the original as possible, and if there is a break I prefer to patch it up rather than replace it with a new piece of glass. “It is conservation work in the strictest sense of the term. “Most of the stained glass I restore dates from the 19th century as, in general, works will last for around 150 years before they need attention.” The stained-glass craftsper-

son has to master many skills. First, he or she must make measurements, and tracings and then make an exact drawing of the final image. The shape for each piece of glass can then be cut out and used as a template for cutting the glass, using a diamond or tungsten carbide implement. It is a delicate job. The craftsperson taps on the glass with a special hammer to release the required shape and uses pincers to trim it. In churches the faces, hands and feet of biblical characters are often in clear glass with the details painted on to them with a paint made from metallic oxides fired in a kiln at 630°C so the colour will penetrate into the glass. Then, the whole piece has to be constructed using lead, but also other metals to reinforce junctions and the application of a special mastic. Ms Jean says it is a very fulfilling craft because there are so many different skills: “You have to be methodical, precise, know the techniques, have a sense of the ethics of restoration and a respect for the work before your eyes. “You also have to be able to draw and have a sense of design. A sense of colour, too,

but that is very personal and everyone has their own vision of what they think works.” As well as restoration she creates windows and light fittings for private clients: “This is my creative work and I would say it is my recreation after the rigorous restoration work.” Prices for her stained glass work start from €1,000/m². There is a two-year CAP which can be full-time or parttime. You can then go on to do a Brevet des Métiers d’Art, BMA (two years), or a FCIL, Formation Complémentaire d’Initiative Locale (one year), both equivalent level to the Bac and after that a two-year Diplôme Des Métiers d’Art, DMA. Professional qualifications can be taken once working; CQP, Certificat de Qualification Professionnelle. For adults there is a one-year CAP course run by GRETA, at Chartres. Ms Jean is an example of someone who made a successful career change. She used to work in the luxury hotel world but gave that up at the age of 38: “It is difficult to describe why but there was a moment, in my mind, when I had this fixation that I had to become a stained glass craftswoman. It was a very deep conviction.”

She says she has always drawn and that she has always had a fascination for the multitude of colours that are reflected in glass. “I don’t know why, but I have always been attracted to stained glass. I did a sixmonth course for adults at a school in the Alpes-de-HauteProvence, which no longer exists. That was 25 years ago.” She was looking for premises to work from when, by chance, the mayor of Rocamadour said he wanted to do something with the oldest house in the famous historic village, which was empty and was falling into disrepair. He offered it to her for a rent of €260 a month and, as the house opposite was also for sale as a home, it seemed that fate was on her side. “It was hard at first. Not everyone was jumping at the chance to buy stained glass and for three years, I was not sure I had made the right decision but now I know I have. I have continued to do additional training courses, as six months is not long to learn a craft. “I am passionate about it and love every minute, but I would say that anyone who wants to have a career in stained glass must have a deep and profound desire to do so.”

Photos: Jane Hanks


The Connexion

July 2018

Photos: Jane Hanks

Dry stone huts were not used by shepherds, nor the Gauls... Architecture of France... Dry-stone wall huts

Looking up into the roof of the Cabane du Mazut

Dry stone huts expert Jean-Marc Caron in front of Cabane du Mazut, a Monument Historique lively place. Mr Caron said: “This shows that these buildings were constructed for agricultural use in the 19th century. They vary according to the building ability, tastes and wealth of each family. Some put up a crude structure. Where there are wider entrances with a lintel in wood, it is evident there was more building knowledge used in the construction and perhaps a builder was employed to help. But mostly it would have been families building their own shelter in any way they could.” In 1994-1995 CERAV employed Mr Caron to study his area. He found 400 stone huts in that first year and many more since. He has studied the local plans from 1836, which show the huts present at the time, calling them cabanes. He deduced that those he has found in other places and which are not marked on the plans must have been built later. He says it is impossible for any of them to be ancient structures: “I have seen companies taking tourists on guided tours of these, as they called them, ‘Gallic sites’ but that is completely false. “You would need iron picks and crowbars to build the shelters and they would not have survived that long as the structures are fragile, easily destroyed by weather extremes and invasive vegetation over the centuries. “We can already see many of the structures here falling into ruin. Another myth

Property Watch in


REGIONAL CAPITAL: Dijon DEPARTMENTS: Côte-d’Or, Nièvre, Saône-et-Loire, Yonne MAIN CITIES: Dijon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Nevers, Auxerre, Beaune, Mâcon, Montceau-les-Mines, Prémery Dijon, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is the capital of the historical Burgundy region, one of France’s principal winemaking areas. As well as its vineyards, it is known for its traditional mustard, rich gastronomy (think Boeuf Bourguignon and garlic snails) and building styles ranging from Gothic to Art Deco. The area is crossed by a network of canals and studded with imposing chateaux. Ancient Burgundy now makes up half of the BourgogneFranche-Comté region following the redrawing of the map of France a few years ago. The region is bordered by the river Loire, in the west, and by the Franche-Comté and Champagne areas in the east – and ranges from rolling agricultural land in the northwestern Yonne department to the golden, vineyardladen hills of the Côte-d’Or, and the foothills of the Jura in the east with the Saône-et-Loire department. Not surprisingly, property prices are at their highest in historic Dijon, a city of 150,000 inhabitants just over an hour-and-ahalf from Paris by TGV, where houses can command prices of €2,410/m2. The average property price is €226,000, noticeably higher than the regional average of €181,632. Meanwhile, in Côte-d’Or, house prices are about €1,650/m2,


TAKE a drive into the French countryside and, in many areas, you will see small dry stone wall huts. They are found in locations where the local stone is on or very close to the surface and breaks off in layers thus making it easy to build with. You will find huts, abandoned and in ruins, for example, in Burgundy, Provence, Languedoc, the Lot, the Dordogne, Brittany and the Alps. They are typically thought of as small and round but actually come in a huge range of styles. Common explanations are that they are shepherd’s shelters and ancient constructions called bories. But a group of professional and amateur ethnologists and archaeologists has uncovered the truth behind these buildings - and debunked many myths surrounding them. The Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur l’Architecture Vernaculaire (CERAV) was formed in 1978 to study the vernacular architecture heritage handed down by past generations and, in particular, dry stone structures. One of its researchers is JeanMarc Caron, who has been walking the hills around Daglan, Dordogne, for 20 years, photographing an area particularly rich in stone huts. To understand why they were built, Mr Caron took me on a trip into the past in a landscape which has changed dramatically. Today you have to fight your way through brambles and woodland, but 200 years ago this area was cleared and seeing the beginning of huge social change as a result of the French Revolution. Ordinary people, who had worked for local lords, were allocated their own plots of land and began to cultivate them. Around Daglan, in particular, they grew vines. The land was covered in stone, which they had to clear. They had to walk some distance to their fields and they stayed all day so they wanted shelter from the rain, sun, and cold. They had plenty of stone so they began to construct cabanes en pierre seche. They are everywhere – in every field there is some sort of structure in various states of conservation. It must have been a

Property 37


is the name borie. My grandmother used to tell me about her visits to her family cabane as she called it. The term borie means a small property and was applied to stone huts later on. “I do not think they were used by shepherds, either, as they needed a mobile shelter and would be more likely to use a small caravan on wheels. For me cabanes en pierre seche are shelters built by agricultural workers in the 19th century. “Their use in this area died out with the rural exodus, the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century which destroyed the vines and then World War I when there were no more men to cultivate the land. Since then they have been deserted.” What is astonishing is the variety of styles. One such as the Cabane du Mazut has been classified a Monument Historique and is large and square with a fireplace and what would have been a citerne, a water tank, to collect rainwater as there was no other source of water. Others are tiny and are built into the dry stone walls, also constructed when peasants became landowners to define the boundaries of each plot. Looking up into the roofs from inside it is fascinating to see how they were constructed in ever decreasing circles to meet at the apex. In some places there are huge piles of stones, which would have been constructed to clear the land. They are not piled up haphazardly but built carefully in layers so as to take up the least space possible. Mr Caron said what fascinates him is that some local people can remember hearing their grandparents talking about them. Conserving them for the future is not easy because they are on private land and not many landowners are interested in taking the time to renovate them: “The ideal thing would be to make sure that some examples are kept and repaired but it is not easy to achieve. It is why I take as many photographs as possible as a way of preserving the proof of their existence.” Mr Caron is happy to show his local dry stone huts to anyone who contacts him on jean-marc.caron@pierre-seche.com. He has a website, pierre-seche.com, and the CERAV website, with articles in English, and details of occasional dry stone wall courses is www.pierreseche.com

and fall as low as €810/m2 in the less popular Nièvre, €1,110 in Saône-et-Loire and €1,030 in the heavily agricultural Yonne, which is sparsely populated despite bordering Ile-de-France.

What your money buys Under €250,000

Renovated cottage with large stone barns and pretty garden. An excellent find at this price! A charming semi-detached house in a village situation, within walking distance of the river and 7 minutes from Joigny and the station with regular trains to Paris. €147,000 Ref: 85514ELI89

Charming renovated character 4-bed house in the beautiful village of Créot, with vineyard views. Located in the heart of the famous Burgundy region (GevreyChambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée) recognized by UNESCO for its climate. €199,000 Ref: 78078SCT71

More than €250,000

4 bed house in a haven of peace with swimming pool and Jacuzzi, about 20 minutes from Dijon. With grounds of 4,600m2 in Tarsul, this is a house suitable for families, lovers of nature and city dwellers with Paris just 1 hour 40 minutes away by TGV. €288,000 Ref: 77083SCT21

15-bed 19th-century ‘castle’, a B&B business in a cosy spa town. This is a unique opportunity! Reluctant sale due to retirement, this could be a rewarding investment in Saint-Honoré-les-Bains. All quality wequipment is included with existing contacts and business. €549,000 Ref: 31487JNP58

Properties available through Leggett Immobilier www.frenchestateagents.com Tel: 05 53 56 62 54

Next month: We look at Aquitaine

38 Property

LegalNotes Property market expected connexionfrance.com

Your questions answered

Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query

Q: We are both divorced and not remarried and live and pay tax in the UK. We bought a second home in France in 1997, ‘en indivision’. I have two children and my partner a son from the previous marriages. She wants to help her son buy UK property so I plan to buy her half share of the French house. Should I do this after 2019 to avoid CGT and the 22-year rule? As outright owner, should I add a codicil to my UK will to ensure only my children inherit? What French or UK taxes do I face and are there other drawbacks? J.G. A: Firstly, (and generally) if you are divorced, and not remarried, your new partner has no automatic inheritance right if not left an interest in a will. Interestingly, too, a UK divorce automatically revokes a gift to an ex-spouse in an old will, but not in France. Buying out your partner is sensible. Your children inherit directly from you, maxi­ mising French inheritance tax allowances of €100,000 per child from a parent. Inheriting from a step parent, would mean 60% tax after a €1,594 allowance.

On the timing, CGT here is in two parts: tax of 19%, exempt after 22 years of ownership, and social charges of 17.2%, exempt after 30 years. The European Court said social charges do not apply to non-French residents, but they are applied anyway and although individuals can go to court to try to recover them, this is costly and uncertain, takes time and even if successful, you may not recover your full legal fees. Receipted renovations by French-registered trades can reduce the gain and a default 15% is taken off after five years for general upgrades. Original notaire fees and buying costs are also deducted, or a default 7.5%. The notaires.fr online CGT calculator (simulateur) has costs for varied sale dates. If you do buy, there will be new notaire fees of 7-8%. Your will may need spec­ial­ ist advice. If you are unmarried, intestacy laws leave the estate to your children, which may be easier than an English will’s practical and tax hurdles. You may be better without a will, unless it is carefully drafted.

Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930  www.heslop-platt.co.uk contact@heslop-platt.co.uk

Q: WE want to install a small Jacuzzi or hot tub in our garden. Can you tell me the rules and does it need a safety cover? G.S. A: IN MOST cases the rules are light, but depend on where you live and the type of spa. Ask the mairie about the plan local d’urbanisme which details restrictions. If you want to use the spa all year round you may need mairie approval but in most cases, you do not need to complete a déclaration préalable de travaux. This is, however, needed if the spa is set or partly set into the ground, if it cannot be dismantled or transported, if it has a water surface of 10m² or more or if it is less than 3m from your property boundary.

If it is covered by a shelter with a height of more than 1.8m then you may need a permis de construire. If you need to make a déclaration préalable or get a permis de construire you will also be liable for the taxe d’aménagement, a one-off tax on new construction. Also ask the mairie about any changes to your taxe d’habitation. You also need to make sure that the electricity supply for the water heater and pump is fitted properly. Spas are treated in the same way as swimming pools and if it is set partially or fully into the ground you will need security features, like a cover, shelter, barrier or alarm, but the majority of spa pools are covered anyway to retain the heat.

Tel: 05 61 57 90 86  www.brightavocats.com contact@brightavocats.com If you have a legal query send it to news@connexionfrance.com We select questions for answer every edition

The Connexion

July 2018

to cool after a record 2017

Notaires expect the property market in France to stabilise this year, after a record 12 months of sales for older properties (those over five years old, referred to as ancien). In the 12 months to January 2018, notaires signed off on 969,000 property transactions. A month later – the latest for which figures are available – that year-on-year figure had dropped slightly to 965,000. Both figures remain well above the 834,000 transactions recorded at the last peak in 2012 and are much higher than the low of 564,000 in 2009. Notaires de France say the reasons for the increased volume of sales are well known – low mortgage rates, longer loan terms, targeted tax incentives, overall reasonable prices outside Paris and a larger stock of transferable properties. However, the early 2018 figures show transactions fell slightly – suggesting the peak of those wanting to take advantage of the favourable conditions had been reached – and 42% of banks reported a fall in the mortgage applications. Notaires are now predicting a ‘soft landing’, suggesting more reasonable volumes for 2018 with prices, generally, steady. Intriguingly, there has been a rise in the number of over-60s buyers in the past 10 years. In 2017 these ‘seniors’ made up 17.8% of all property purchases, compared to 13% in 2007. This has been linked to longer life expectancy and the baby boom generation’s growing age, as their proportion of the overall population rises. Nice notaire Laurent Rose pointed to “an ageing population, longer life spans, and

In 2017 ‘senior’ (over-60s) buyers made up 17.8% of all property purchases, compared to 13% in 2007

people remaining economically active longer, but there is also a corresponding drop in the numbers of young buyers, with under-25s buying a quarter fewer properties. “Slight changes effect this market very rapidly: a difference of €50 a month, for example, can be huge when you are starting out, and with uncertainty on the level of government aid for young buyers they are buying less. Parents and grandparents also have less spare cash to help them out.” The over-60s buy more flats than houses and made up more than a fifth (21.6%) of apartment purchases in 2017. One point to note for older buyers is that mortgage insurance is often a ‘brake’ on property purchases, with premiums costing up to double what a younger borrower would pay. Year on year, average property prices continued to rise: +3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter of 2016. The figure was +3.3% for the year leading up to the third quarter. The rise was most noticeable in older flats (+4.5%) where the trend remained better than in houses (+2.6%). Increases vary enormously across the country with the highest for older houses being

Bordeaux (above) was a 2017 property hotspot, as house prices rose 14.1%, but in Nice (below) house prices fell 3.6%

in major urban centres. The biggest rise in the last quarter of 2017 from the previous year was in Bordeaux (+14.1%), followed by Saint-Nazaire (+12.3%) and Nantes (+11.1%). In Lyon and Marseille prices remained stable – while Nice was the exception as prices fell by 3.6%. Prices for older flats were stable or rising. Bordeaux once again saw the biggest hike (+16%), with €3,930 the average price per square metre. In Nantes, Annecy, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse, prices rose between 5% and 8%, while they were relatively stable in Grenoble, Dijon, Nice, Mont­ pellier and Tours. Prices for flats fell 4% in Saint-Etienne.

Where prices rose sharply as demand outstripped supply, it was a seller’s market, and they benefited from low bank interest rates (for buyers) in 2017. At the end of May the expected trend, based on pre-contracts throughout mainland France, was for prices to continue to rise, but less sharply than in 2017. This will be around +4% per year for flats and +2.2% for older houses. At the same time, the proportion bought by the under 40s has dropped by -1.5% for those below the age of 30 and -2.8% for 30-39 year olds. This last age group makes up almost one in three of all buyers.

The Connexion

July 2018

the document, is everyone sees the relevant pages at the same time and it is easier to follow, rather than each person searching through pages of a paper document to find the right clause. “We then need two signatures which are made on a tablet, rather than having to sign each page. The facility to sign at the same time with each party seeing what is happening in different offices will also make life considerably easier for clients. “It is also possible, and I have already done this in my office, for a client in London who has given procuration for a signing in a notaire’s office in France, to watch the procedure and comment, if he wishes, from his lawyer’s office in the UK.” In future, cross-country signings may be possible, but this is still a long way off, as the main issue in using technology is security and legislation, and involves lengthy negotiations. Within France all digital acts are stored in a central data bank, MICEN, which has two buildings in Aix-en-Provence

Photo: Ryan Adams / CC BY 2.0

Now, you can sign on the dotted line... electronically More than two-thirds of legal transactions are now signed electronically at notaires’ offices in France and the first to be signed this way à distance, when the two different parties are not in the same office, have already been carried out. At present some 2,000 notaires’ offices are equipped with video-conferencing equipment to make it possible for someone in Nice to sign to buy a house in Lille without the need to be there in person – but long-distance dealing is set to become increasingly available throughout the country over the coming months. The president of the digital and technology commission for the Conseil Supérieur du Notariat, Maître Jean-Michel Boisset, from Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse, Calvados, told Connexion the aim is to make transactions more transparent. Electronic signing is available for all kinds of acts, whether it be a divorce or a property purchase. “The advantage when we use an electronic signature, and a computer screen to see

Property 39


Some 2,000 notaires across France have conferencing equipment allowing clients to handle legal processes remotely and a back-up in Paris, which Maître Boisset says is run using the highest security procedures. These documents will be stored digitally for 75 years before being archived. Maître Boisset says when you sign a document at a notaire’s office you will be sent a copy by email, which you can download, but that at present you should still be given a paper copy of the act at a later date when it has been fully authorised. He believes there will always be some need for paper in lawyers’ offices. In March 2017 France’s notaires set up a central website, notaviz.notaires.fr which carries up-to-date information (French only). This includes the processes required in legal services including buying and selling, renting, inheritance, divorcing and adopting so you

already have information when you go to see your notaire and can understand and get more out of your meeting. Notaires de France are also developing their own ‘blockchain’ which is a way of securing data, as each added block is resistant to data modification. This would allow a document to be circulated electronically between different parties, for example a bank, a notaire and a client in the knowledge it has not been tampered with. Maître Boisset says the notaire will never be replaced by technology: “Notaires continue to question how they will work with artificial intelligence and are convinced that the human relationship with a notaire should remain central to all transactions, but that technology will give more transparency and speed.”

Move to simplify and overhaul housing law comes under attack A MOVE to transform labyrinthine housing, planning and building rules to allow “more construction that is better and cheaper” has come under fire for including ‘council house’ sales and weaker guarantees on housing provision. The Loi Elan – Evolution du Logement, de l’Aménagement et du Numérique – is a wideranging bid to update building regulations but it is being seen on some sides as changing the French social housing model which provides 4.5million homes for 10million people. The 2018 finance law is cutting €1.5billion from social housing budgets by 2020, and these organisations are being told to sell up to 800,000 properties to fund the building of 2.4million new homes. Left-wing MPs have opposed it saying it is like “an open bar” where speculators will squeeze out people who need homes and that social housing in sought-after areas will end. Since 2000 the obligation for communes with too little social housing to work towards providing 25% of ‘council’ homes has resulted in the construction of 500,000 homes even in some of the most exclusive areas and is seen as helping improve the social ‘mix’ and boost mobility. Elsewhere, the bill – that would also ease ways to turn

offices into housing, bring in residential leases and carry out energy retrofits – includes changes to the Construction Code that would sweep away disabled access standards. Today all residential properties of more than four floors must offer 100% of flats with disabled access but the new law would reduce this to 10% to lessen costs for builders. The 90% remaining must be ‘easily converted’ to full access by fitting new doorways and a shower instead of a bath... but costs would be paid by the tenant or, in the case of social housing, the landlord. Another section would end the need for architects to compete over social housing projects and the architects profession has called it a step back in time that would “re-create the schemes and the problems we are nowadays trying to fix”. One highly publicised measure, creating a short ‘mobility lease’ of from one to 10 months rather than the present minimum 12, is attracting strong criticism over the risk of making tenants’ status more precarious and the temptation for some landlords to resort to it systematically. However, proposals to end the Loi littoral ban on new housing in coastal areas were all but rejected.


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The Connexion

July 2018

by JAMES HARRINGTON ALL Black legend Dan Carter says he thought nothing could match winning the Rugby World Cup in 2015... but that was until he won France’s Top 14 championship with Racing 92. The double-world champion, threetime Super Rugby winner, and leading points scorer in international and Super Rugby history has just called time on the French stage of his playing career after two-and-a-half seasons in Paris where his contract made him the first €1million-a-year-player. He said: “After winning a World Cup in 2015, I thought nothing would get close to that feeling. “But to play in Barcelona in the Top 14 final in 2016, in front of 100,000 people, to help Racing win their first Top 14 title since 1990, was special. “Being down to 14 men after 18 minutes and to be able to fight through and win that title was a real highlight.” Carter kicked five penalties in a man-of-the-match performance at the Nou Camp after teammate Maxime Machenaud had been sent off for a dangerous tackle. It was the New Zealander’s second Top 14 crown. He had won a first by default during an injury-shortened stint with Perpignan in 2008/09. He was already the game’s biggest draw when he joined the Catalan side, but played just five games before a ruptured Achilles ended his role

Photo: © Racing 92

Dan Carter’s déjà-vu with Top 14 rugby win

Dan Carter hit new heights playing for Racing 92 in the club’s title-winning campaign. That taste of France had made him realise he wanted more: “I saw what it was like to live in France. I knew I wanted to return and play for more than six months. “Although I didn’t play a lot of games with Perpignan, I realised how much the Bouclier de Brennus [Top 14 trophy] means to people – to the supporters, to the players. I wanted to play in the Top 14 again, and also I had aspirations of playing

in the European Championship.” Carter and Racing were a perfect match. As well as winning the Top 14 title, they reached two European finals on his watch, losing to English side Saracens in 2016 and Irish province Leinster earlier this year – a match he was forced to watch from the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury the day before. He and his family – he married former New Zealand hockey star Honor Carter in 2010 and the couple have

two children – have discovered the joys of France beyond the pitches of the Top 14. “I love the country and how beautiful it is. The monuments, the cathedrals, the museums – the architecture, in particular. “Driving around Paris, you’ll often pinch yourself that you live in this beautiful city; surrounded by these buildings that are older than modern New Zealand. “The west coast is completely different to northern areas. Then you go down to the Mediterranean. It’s just an incredible country to experience travelling through and living in.” It surprised him just how much there is to see in just one European country. “I thought we’d be travelling through Europe on a spare weekend, or during holidays, but you spend all your time going to different parts of France. We’ve been here for two-anda-half years and travelled a lot through France, but there’s so much we haven’t seen.” One part of the southeast was a particular favourite. “We fell in love with Provence, around the Lubéron. “It’s a beautiful part of France. Both off-seasons we spent a bit of time down there, unwinding.” Adapting to the French way of life was straightforward because the Carter children were so young. “Our children were only two-and-ahalf, and six months when we arrived,

so it’s not like we were taking them away from friends or school. “My wife always knew that we’d return to New Zealand one day so she enjoyed it for the experience that it was. I’m sure there’ll be lots of things about Paris and France that she’ll miss and we’ll both miss now we’ve left.” But there was one minor sticking point – the language. Carter admitted to “giving up all my excuses for not speaking French as well as I probably should”, when discussing his attempts to break the language barrier. He had done brief post-match interviews in French, and taken part in an online video tongue-twister challenge with fellow All Black and now-retired Pau player Conrad Smith, but said: “To be honest, I’m still not all that comfortable speaking French, even though I can speak a very little bit and understand a bit. “We spoke English at home, and there were seven other Kiwis at the club so you weren’t forced to speak French all day, every day.” Now, the French adventure is over, and his focus is on the next and likely final stage of his playing career; a twoyear deal in Japan with Kobe Steelers. “I hadn’t thought too much about it before – I was focusing so much on finishing the season with Racing – but now it’s been a few weeks since we’ve finished, I’ve started to think a little bit about Japan and I’m pretty excited.”

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Profile for English Language Media Sarl

The Connexion 189 - July 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper

The Connexion 189 - July 2018  

France's English-Language Newspaper