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March 2012 - Issue 8


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150 flamingos Cancer survivor die in big freeze offers English help p4-5

NINE restaurants in the region have been awarded Michelin’s coveted Bib Gourmand for the first time. The accolade, for restaurants offering exceptional value for money with menus at no more than €29, is named after Bibendum, “the Michelin Man”. It is represented in the famous guide by his head, in red. The Aude has four new venues (giving it five in total): La Table du Château in Bizanet, La Table du Curé in Cucugnan and L’Odalisque and Tantine et Tonton in Limoux. The Lozère has two new Bib Gourmands (making a total of seven): Domaine de Barrès in Langogne and Balme in Villefort. The PyréneesOrientales (six in total) gains: La Garriane in Perpignan, Le Relais de Sceaury in Rasiguères and La Table de Cuisine in Saint-André. The Garde and Hérault have no new names, but have five and ten Bib Gourmand restaurants respectively. Chef Christopher Roussat of L’Odalisque said he creates gastronomic cuisine at an affordable price by having a small team (that limits social charges) and seeking the best products at the best prices. “Good, high quality products are not necessarily more expensive than bad ones - on the contrary. I also use small local suppliers who deliver to my door every day in small quantities so I don’t need to have big stocks.” Despite his name he has no ‘Anglo-Saxon’ ancestry.

Photo: © Georges BARTOLI/MAXPPP

Region has nine new ‘bib’ awards


Wind turbines tower over the village of Fitou in the Corbières. Residents of Laurens fear they may soon have a similar installation on their doorstep

Anger at wind farm plan for vineyards PLANS for a wind farm in one of the region’s most beautiful and unspoiled landscapes have infuriated residents. The controversial plan has been earmarked for a site in the commune of Laurens, north of Béziers in the winemaking area of Faugères, and there are fears locally that the turbines could devastate agriculture and wine tourism in the area. France is an enthusiastic supporter of nuclear power (it boasts 59 active nuclear

The plateau at Laurens, where the wind turbines would be built

reactors), but the recent leaning towards wind power may lie in EU commitments to green pressure groups and

renewable energy. The EU’s September 2001 directive on the subject confirms that the promotion of electricity from

renewable energy sources (RES) is a high priority, for reasons including the security and diversification of energy

supply, environmental protection, and social and economic cohesion. The 1997 White Paper set a target of 12% of gross inland energy consumption from renewables by 2010. In 2004 this was enlarged to an objective of 21%, which helps to explain France’s enthusiasm for wind power. It is in this context that plans for a new parc éolien in the heart of the Faugères appellation contrôlée area have been discussed, debated Î Continued on page 2

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2 News PAGES

Contact us With a story, email: languedoc@ (please include a daytime contact number) With a subscription or advert query call: From France: 0800 91 77 56 (freephone) From UK: 0844 256 9881 (4p per minute) or by email: sales@ Languedoc Pages is published by: English Language Media Sarl, Le Vedra, 38 rue Grimaldi, 98000 Monaco. Directrice de la publication: Sarah Smith. Printed at Nice-M Matin, 214 Route de Grenoble, 06290 Nice Cedex 3. Environmental policy Languedoc Pages is printed on recycled newspaper, using a printing company which adheres to stringent regulations to reduce pollution. Mensuel Depôt légal – a parution ISSN: 2224-977X CPPAP: 1013 I 91061

Winegrowers fear plan for wind farm will ruin tourism Continued from front page and, in some quarters, fiercely contested. The project is being driven by French comlooks at the pany Poweo. Plans have been drawn up for controversial five 126-metre éoliennes, on a plateau known plan for five as Le Causse, with the support of the mairie of Laurens, led by mayor François Anglade. He wind believes a clean source of energy could be of huge benefit to organic winegrowers. turbines in A public enquiry was carried out into the the heart plan last year, and a decision early this year the rejected it, but residents are worried the projFaugères ect could still be approved by the Préfecture. Amongst the most vociferous opponents are vineyards the winemakers of Faugères, an AOC made up


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of seven attractive villages featuring traditional, stone-built houses and wine cellars, surrounded by vine-covered hills, unique schist soil and the garrigue scrubland that is common to this part of Languedoc. About 20 kilometres north of Béziers, Faugères is one of Languedoc’s more prestigious appellations, and some of its 44 independent winegrowers say they are not prepared to let their vineyard views be spoiled. The president of the appellation, Nathalie Caumette, is herself a wine producer at the Domaine de l’Ancienne Mercerie in Autignac. She said: “Planting these turbines in the heart of our AOC zone would be detrimental not only to our remarkable, protected landscape, but also to the image of the wines of Faugères. “It’s unacceptable. This project only serves the financial interests of the promoter.” Although the planned turbines would not be sited on land currently used for growing vines, Mme Caumette insists that their construction would harm the local wine industry. “Wine is intrinsically linked to a terroir, a specific place, and people have to be able to see this place, they want to visit it. That’s what an AOC is; it’s not an immaterial concept.” She believes the project would have a negative effect on tourism too: “No-one will want to come and spend a week’s holiday on a winetasting break if there are wind turbines here.” Equally opposed to the scheme is SaintGeniès-de-Fontedit estate agent Freddy Rueda, who joined forces with the local association Roquessels Patrimoine to circulate a petition, making residents aware of Poweo’s plans and collecting signatures of those not in favour. He said: “Tourists come here because of the beauty of our countryside; they like to buy property, enjoy the wines, and dine out. “If this project goes ahead, tourists will no longer want to come here, which will mean less money coming into local businesses, and as far as Laurens is concerned, the property market will plummet immediately: who wants to buy a house overlooked by éoliennes?”

March 2012



Languedoc Pages

A typical vineyard landscape in Faugeres

If this project goes ahead, tourists will no longer want to come here, which will means the property market will plummet Freddy Rueda Estate agent

Turbines ‘not worst VALERIE Tabaries and her husband Dominique Ibanez are owner-producers at the Domaine de Roquemale, in Villeveyrac: they already live in the shadow of wind turbines. Valerie said: “The wind farm of Aumelas is situated just above our vineyard. There are 23 turbines, which as I understand it provide power for about 80,000 households. “These turbines don’t cause us any problems. They are practically silent, and I most certainly prefer them to high tension power lines, although we weren’t consulted about this matter when they were first installed, nor when the wind farm was enlarged five years ago.” Jean-Michel Mege is the owner of Domaine de la Reynardière in Saint-Geniès de Fontedit (within the Faugères AOC area). He said: “I

don’t think our syndicat (winegrowers’ body) should spend money opposing this project. I’m not bothered by the idea of a wind farm and I don’t find wind turbines ugly: I’d rather see them than the 200,000-volt power lines that we already have, running from Autignac to Saint-Geniès. “In an ideal world we’d have nothing, but we have to generate power somehow, and turbines are better than a nuclear power station. What bothers me more is the plan to put three hectares of solar panels in Caussiniojouls, because that takes up land that could otherwise be used as vineyard.” Françoise Ollier is a winegrower at Domaine Ollier-Taillefer, in Fos (one of the villages in the Faugères appellation area). She is highly

News 3

March 2012 Photo: Georges BARTOLI/MAXPPP

Languedoc Pages

A public enquiry was held in 2011, drawing comment from many quarters and coverage in local press. The enquiry came to an end in the early December 2011, and in mid-January this year, the commissaire enquêteur (the person appointed to examine the dossier) returned an avis défavorable (an unfavourable verdict). The next step in the process is for the Préfecture to examine the file and cast their decision; this has to happen within two months of the declaration of the commissaire enquêteur, so according to Mme Caumette, more news can be expected in mid-March. An article in regional newspaper Midi Libre quotes Charlène Boudal, director of the Faugères AOC, as saying that despite their apparent victory, both her organisation and Roquessels Patrimoine “must remain vigilant while we wait for the Prefecture’s decision”. If the Préfecture backs the project, Mme Caumette confirms she will do everything she can to continue to oppose it. She said the next step would be an appeal – a recours gracieux – against the ruling. Contacted by Languedoc Pages, the mayor of Laurens, François Anglade, said: “I was born in the village of Laurens and I actually have mixed feelings about this project. “I can understand the concerns of those who say they don’t want to see wind turbines here, but I don’t think it’s a visual catastrophe, and I


and right, a site in the Corbières, where wind turbines have already been installed. Below, residents make their feelings known at the public enquiry into the project

don’t agree with those who say that if the wind farm is built, our winegrowers will no longer be able to sell their wines; I actually see a positive connection between wind power and, for example, organic winegrowing. “The upside is that the wind farm would be a source of clean, renewable energy, and for the commune and the property owners on whose land it would be built, there would be financial benefits. We will have to see what happens, once the Préfet’s decision is known; the antiéoliennes group can appeal, if necessary. “I imagine that the affair will end up in the Tribunal Administratif, where each side will state their views. You know, in France, these things can take a very long time...”

scenario’ concerned: “Of course we are opposed to the wind farm project in the commune of Laurens, whose only purpose would be to enable France to achieve its quota of renewable energy sources, but at the cost of defiguring one of our country’s most beautiful landscapes. The site is on a magnificent chalk plateau, where there are no vines grown, because the soil does not correspond to AOC Faugères norms, but which is almost in the centre of the AOC zone. “The turbines would be visible from all points, and it would be a disaster for tourism. “We have discovered plans for many other projects in neighbouring areas: in Fouzilhon, Vailhan and St-Nazaire-de-Ladarez, each time in an AOC zone. Our local politicians have been blinded by false promises.”

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4 News

Languedoc Pages

Mayor to sue website selling Bugarach stones THE mayor of Bugarach has pledged to take anyone to court who tries to take unfair advantage of the village’s growing notoriety. Some believers in the theory that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world for December 21 this year claim the Aude village will be the only place spared on the coming Doomsday. It is attracting increasing interest, to the extent that house prices are said to be rising and there have even been requests to sell fast food on the day. Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord has taken it in good humour but a website claiming to sell

“authentic Pic de Bugarach stones” giving off “positive vibes”, at €150-€3,000 each, has proved too much. He plans to take the owners to court and has said he will sue anyone else exploiting the village in such a way. An adviser for the nearby Aude-en-Pyrénées area, Karine Dunhill, confirmed the growing buzz around the area. “We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls linked to this - people wanting information about the village, wanting to visit, looking to buy houses there or here in the valley. Because of what’s being said they want to get close to Bugarach.”

150 flamingos die THE unusually cold weather in the region last month killed about 150 flamingos along the Mediterranean coast, prompting a special rescue effort in the Aude. Winds of 90kph and sub-zero temperatures were too much for many of the iconic pink birds, who died from cold and exhaustion, or with their feet frozen in lagoons around the Gruissan area, near Narbonne. Once the salt marshes got a coating of ice they could no longer feed. Firefighters and rescue teams went to help them and nine freezing flamingos were taken back to the fire station, where eight were successfully nursed back to health on a diet of specially-sourced food. A corner of the fire station garage was given over to the birds, some of whom had to be suspended in custom-made slings while they recovered their strength. Elsewhere in Languedoc, some 300 flamingos, orginally from Chile and Cuba, live at the African Reserve in Sigean, where branches were used to create windbreaks and protect the birds. Extra precautions were also taken to protect the reserve’s 3,800 animals, with elephants, chimpanzees, rhinoceros, lions and giraffes kept inside.


Photo: Louise Hurren

Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord in Bugarach, which is predicted to survive the end of the world

March 2012

Bodies of about 20 pink flamingos, killed by the unseasonably

Ski resorts say €1m lawsuit is no problem


OPERATORS of ski facilities say that a damages award of €1 million to a woman injured in a ski accident is not likely to have an impact on them and their businesses. Alyette Beaufils was awarded damages 15 years after an accident on the slopes at Font-Romeu (PyrénéesOrientales) left her tetraplegic. Village mayor Jean-Louis Démelin had said all ski resorts could now be at risk of similar claims. He also questioned whether insurers would still insure them. However, Laurent Reynaud, head of Domaines Skiables de France, a union representing firms that run ski lifts and slopes in public private partnership, said: “I do not think there is any need to be afraid of this judgment. “Firstly it is still subject to appeal to the Cour de Cassation, and secondly it dates from 1997, and I think the judgment would go differently with an accident today. “Safety norms have been put into place, so it is now possible to say whether the piste met the correct standards or did not. If you were in conformity you are far less likely to be judged responsible.” Ms Beaufils, who was 23 at the time, slipped on ice on a green run and hit a rock. The payout, was ordered by the Montpellier appeal court, after a long legal battle by herself and her parents, who now care for her.

Languedoc Pages

News 5

March 2012

in big freeze

New routes for Frogbus AFTER celebrating its third birthday in 2011, the Britishowned and run Frogbus service has announced a new look and new routes. The €9 return fare from Perpignan to Girona airport is joined by a service that links the centres of both cities, with the aim of strengthening Catalan links. A more comprehensive timetable for the summer months is planned, along with links from Toulouse to Andorra and Andorra to Barcelona. Expansion of routes to Carcassonne, Biarritz, San Sebastian, Narbonne and Barcelona is also planned for 2012. More details available at

Pourcels’ big plans for city

cold weather, were removed from lagoons in the Gruissan area

High road toll sparks bid to find causes HIGH road accident death rates have prompted the launch of a bid to find the cause – with a survey of Languedoc-Roussillon citizens’ driving habits being one of the start points. The study was ordered by the Ministry of Transport after figures showed that the region had a significantly higher fatality rate than similar regions such as Loire-Atlantique. Languedoc-Roussillon and Hérault prefecture road safety coordinator Catherine Mallet said: “We want to know if bad driving is somehow genetic, or if road users are just a bit slack because the sun shines a lot in the south of France.” In 2011 there were 98

deaths on the road in Hérault (the first time the annual figure was less than 100), while 71 people were killed in road accidents in the Gard (a slight decrease, compared to 75 in 2010). Ms Mallet said they were looking for 60 volunteers in each department to take part in the study by being accompanied at the wheel by a psychologist for half a day. Researchers are looking for both people born in the region and also incomers who have relocated here. The results of the study will be compared to similar research being carried out in Loire-Atlantique. To contact the road safety department, call Ms Mallet on 04 67 61 60 60.

New water reserves found A SCIENTIST says that he has found valuable new water reserves beneath the Corbières mountains. Professor Henri Salvayre - a hydrology expert who formerly worked at the University of Perpignan - says the range has massive underground reservoirs of fresh water inside. Regional council environment spokesman Yves Pietrasanta said: “This is like

having an oil well of fresh water under our feet. “We will be starting new studies as soon as possible in order to begin using this valuable resource.” The Corbières mountain range stretches across the Aude and the northern part of the Pyrénées-Orientales, roughly from Perpignan to Carcassonne. The range is largely made up of limestone and shale.

THE Pourcel brothers are planning to extend their Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel in Montpellier. The restaurateurs, who have restaurants in cities throughout the world, are planning to extend their renowned restaurant and hotel Le Jardin de Sens, to create a larger hotel, increasing the number of guest rooms from 15 to 24. A new restaurant, called Yazhou, will offer brasseriestyle menus at around €25 a head. The Pourcel brothers are also planning an ambitious project for Montpellier’s Odysseum shopping centre, comprising a 55-room hotel, restaurant, super-size luxury swimming pool, as well as office space and shops. The project is still in the investment stage, and has a predicted opening in 2015.

Gangs ‘move in on cities’ A CONFIDENTIAL police report leaked to the Figaro newspaper claims nonFrench gangs are moving in to Montpellier, Nîmes and Perpignan. A recent shooting in central Montpellier is thought to be linked to gangs in the Marseille area, and Hell’s Angels gangs are reported to be active in the Gard and Pyrénées-Orientales. The report explains there is a division of territory in France, with the Hell’s Angels controlling the centre, Les Bandidos active in the border areas, and a gang known as the Outlaws active in the north west.

Arena shut by ice damage FREEZING temperatures followed by the thawing effect of milder weather resulted in the roman arena of Nîmes being closed to the public. City authorities noticed that some of the ancient structure was crumbling, due to the extreme weather conditions and the decision was taken to close the tourist attraction for safety reasons, during exploratory work.

Did you know?


Story behind the statue

ALMOST every town in the south of France has a street, square or school named after Jean Jaurès, and Montpellier is no exception ... but who was he? Auguste Marie Joseph Jean Léon Jaurès was born in Castres, in the department of Tarn, in 1859. He won a scholarship to Paris but returned to the MidiPyrénées region where he taught philosophy in Albi and lectured at the University of Toulouse. At 26 he was elected a Tarn deputy, beginning his career as a Socialist and labour activist by helping Albi glass workers set up a collectively-run factory. He encouraged local miners in their fight for better working conditions and at the end of the 1800s he joined other liberals, including Emile Zola, in their support for Jewish army captain Alfred Dreyfus, who had been wrongly convicted of spying (Dreyfus was ultimately pardoned). In 1904, Jaurès founded the daily newspaper L’Humanité, which is still published in France today) and encouraged the promo-

Place Jean Jaurès in Montpellier boasts this proud statue of the Socialist workers’ champion tion of regional languages such as Occitan and Basque. A fervent anti-militarist, he tried to promote understanding between France and Germany. In summer 1914, a few days before a conference aimed at preventing war, Jaurès was murdered in Paris by a

young French nationalist. Today, his remains lie in the Panthéon, and his memory lives on. Languedoc’s capital city Montpellier features a Place Jean Jaurès, as does Béziers; Carcassonne boasts a boulevard Jean Jaurès, while Nîmes has an avenue named after him.

6 What’s On

Languedoc Pages


March 2012






Photo: © Julien Thomazo

Get Involved!

March 1-4 Home exhibition Salon de l’habitat, Montpellier showground (Parc des Expositions), 10.00-19.00 – Get advice from specialists on building or renovating your house, heating and environment, household goods including kitchens and bathrooms, furniture and decoration, spas and swimming pools and more. Prices: €4-6.50 for adults and FREE for under 12s. Call 04 67 17 67 17 or


March 10 Romeo and Juliet, Salle Zinga Zanga,19.30 – The classic Shakespeare tale deals with love, death and a feud between two families. Using costumes from different eras, choreographer Thierry Malandain has brought the production right up to date, yet managed to convey a timeless feel.The music is considered one of the greatest works of Hector Berlioz, and the dancers are from the Ballet Biarritz. Price: €27.60. Book with or with

The thriving boules group of the University of the Third Age

Share your skills and learn something new some local French groups. “I thought it would be a good idea to see if there were other English speakers nearby who also felt that some things were passing them by, and who might like to join me, whilst not in any way precluding participation in local activities.” An initial meeting in summer 2010 drew almost 100 aspiring members, and U3APO now boasts a membership of over 200 which includes more than half a dozen nationalities (including French and British) from an area stretching from the Spanish border to Perpignan. An annual fee of €10 per person allows members to take part in as many of the 30 interest or activity groups as they wish (responsibility is shared, with individuals taking turns to host, lead or organise group activities. Membership runs from June 1 to May 31; for details of how to join, see


Alès CIRCUS March 27-28 Circus Pinder, Le Champ de Foire – Circus Pinder’s latest show, Les animaux sont rois (The Animals are Kings) features lions and tigers with the tamer Frédéric Edelstein, exotic animals (zebras, llamas ...), clowns and many other performers. Prices: €13-45. Check the website for times. You can also visit the zoo for €1. Call 06 31 48 84 69 or visit

Photo: © Cirque Pinder

University of the Third Age (Pyrénées-Orientales) Founded by local residents Jane and Harry Lorraine, the University of the Third Age (Pyrénées-Orientales) group (U3APO for short) is aimed at English speakers, predominantly those aged 60 and upwards. Based on the U3A UK Trust’s principles, the association’s aim is to encourage retired residents of this part of the south of France to enjoy a social, intellectual and active life. Jane explains: “Cycling and walking focus on physical health; activities of a more cerebral nature such as reading, language study and local history encourage learning, and the many specialised classes such as cookery, photography and painting enable those with expert talents to share their skills. “I started U3APO in 2010, when I realised that my French, although adequate for day-to-day living, did not allow me to participate fully in

Photo: © Olivier_Houeix


Méjannes-les-Alès CONCERT

World flocks to carnival The final event each year is the Nuit de la Blanquette, when the area's famous sparkling white wine (Blanquette de Limoux) is consumed and the straw figure of Sa Majesté Carnaval is burned at the stake. Held on the second Sunday before Easter (this year, March 25) in Limoux’s main square, starting at 10pm, this ancient ritual demands that masked figures from one of the local bandes dance around the pyre. After the “guy” has been judged and condemned, he is burned on the bonfire. For details of parade times and other festivities planned around Carnaval, contact the Limoux tourist office on 04 68 31 11 82 or visit

Promote your community event, send details to:

Photos: © Olivier Audouy

LIMOUX continues to celebrate this month as the town’s carnival, the world’s longest carnival celebration, draws to a close. Participants from all over the world will gather in Languedoc on Saturday, March 10, when they will share the unique magic of the Carnavals du Monde (world carnival). Limoux’s carnival celebrations consist of a series of parades held on Saturdays and Sundays, in which some 30 guilds (known as bandes) of masked and costumed participants make their way through the town, singing and joking in Occitan. Local, regional or national figures (politicians are a favourite choice) are often the butt of the barbs.

March 30-31 Festival del la Meuh Folle, Parc des Expositions, 20.00 – Fans of electro, rock, funk and more will find plenty to entertain them at this music festival. As well as the main acts (check the website for the line-up) there will be dancers, beat-boxers, jugglers and fire-eaters, and a market of local produce. Camping is available on Saturday night. Prices: Pass 1 evening €17 in advance or €20 on the day. Pass 2 evenings €18 in advance or €30 on the day. Call 06 50 13 02 27 email or go to

Languedoc Pages

What’s On 7

March 2012





March 1 Voca People, L'Espace Boitaclous, Méga Castillet, 20.30. Full of energy and bursting with fun, this international hit show features more than 70 a cappella and beat box versions of the songs you and your whole family will love, including favorites from Madonna, Queen and even Mozart! No instruments, no sound effects – just eight incredible talents. Check them out on Youtube for a taste of what to expect. Price: €39. Call 04 68 34 07 48 or visit to book.

Pyrénées-Orientales Lozère

Photo: © OlivierHoueix




March 21Lucifer, L’amour Sorcier, Bolero,Théâtre de Mende, 20.30 – This ballet features three sublime creations. Lucifer is an Archangel who decides to break the law when he visits earth. In L’amour Sorcier, you will discover the superstitious world of Andalusian gypsies, and in Bolero, 12 dancers will perform to the powerful orchestral music of Maurice Ravel. Prices: €12 for adults and €8 for under 12s. Call 04 66 94 00 23 or email,

March 27-28 Hans Was Heiri,Théâtre de l'Archipel, 20.30 – Like two magicians, Zimmermann and de Perrot reveal the secrets of objects, bodies and sounds. They are driven to make the impossible possible and to explain the inexplicable. Five other circus artists and dancers join them in this innovative show. Go to for ticket prices and to book. Call 04 68 62 62 00/04 68 51 64 40 or email

Perpignan CIRCUS

Photo: © C.RaynaudDeLage

Pick of the rest in Languedoc

Carcassonne MUSIC March 15 Duo violoncellepiano, Carcassonne Auditorium, 20.30 - Christophe Sirodeau (piano) and Alexandre Dmitriev (cello) will perform two sonatas (composed by Charles Valentin Alkan and Sergueï Rachmaninov) and Arlequins en rouge et blanc, a work composed as a tribute to the painter Raoul Dufy. Price: €16 for adults and €8 for young ones. Call 04 68 25 33 13 or email

Herault, Montpellier, FAMILY March 1-4 Creativa craft show, Montpellier showground (Parc des Expositions), 10.00-19.00 – Be inspired to get creative with fabric, scrapbooking, pearls and accessories, polymer dough, home decoration, arts and more.There will be 100 exhibitors and activities for the children on Saturday and Sunday. Prices: €4-€6.50 for adults and FREE for under 12s. Call 04 67 17 67 17 or visit or email Gard, Notre-Dame-de-la-Rouvière, FESTIVAL March 3 La fête de la Roubière, 19.00-01.00 – Twelve varieties of beers will be available for you to try at this beer festival, and there

also will be a giant sauerkraut with meat. The evening will be punctuated by music (rock, reggae, jazz) and a firework display. Call 06 84 73 72 31 or email Lozère, Mende, CARNIVAL March 10 Mende Carnival, town centre, starts 14.30 – The theme of this year’s carnival is the scarecrow and the re-awakening of the garden in springtime. It doesn’t take too much imagination or money to dress yourself up for the afternoon, so come along and dance to the rhythms of the bands playing music.The Carnival will start at 14.30 in the town-centre. Call 04 66 94 00 23 or email

8 Holiday lettings

Languedoc Page

Make extra income by letting out your home to tourists

Simon Pearce says they do not have a garden but the outside space with this sun terrace is a big selling point

France is the most popular tourist destination in the world and letting your house for a few weeks in the holidays can be an excellent way to earn extra income. Here we outline some of the practical issues involved and highlight one Normandy couple’s success at renting to holiday-makers A HOLIDAY let is the letting of a furnished house or apartment to tourists for a short, fixed period. It may be carried out by an individual owner dealing directly with clients or via intermediaries such as travel firms, lettings specialist companies or estate agents. Often by the week, fortnight or month it must not be for more than three months (90 days). Anyone planning to offer accommodation to the public must declare this to the mairie. This declaration usually contains basic information such as the number of rooms and beds offered and a provisional estimate of rental periods. The owner can also seek to have the property classified by national tourism agency Atout France, which involves an inspection and an award of a rating of one to five stars. A holiday let must be adequately furnished and equipped for daily life with a minimum of a bed, wardrobe, table and chairs and cooking equipment such as a hob, fridge and shelves or cupboard, heating (where necessary) and tableware. Providing linen and towels is optional. The owner is free to set the price, but it is a good idea to see what comparable properties are available, and at what price.

If you are not competitive you will not succeed. Be prepared for your tenants to try to negotiate prices, especially in the low season or if they are staying for long periods. Why Consider Holiday Letting? The number of British people

owning property abroad has more than doubled over the last decade and has brought an increase in those wanting to let out homes, whether their main residences or a holiday home, for part of the year. Letting your property while it is not in use can be a good source of income. Houses or flats that are rented out for short holiday periods (locations saisonnières or locations de vacances) rather than the longer agreements

are called a meublé de tourisme. A small house let as a location saisonnière can rent out for around €350 to more than €1,000 week, depending on season, amenities and location, while a chateau may bring in several thousand a week. Many British people have bought homes in beautiful areas that are sought after for holiday lets. It must be remembered that letting out your home as a holiday rental requires a certain amount of effort and planning. Also, you must be available to welcome guests, to make sure their stay goes well and to deal with their departure. If you are unable to do this you have the choice of either using an agency or making an appropriate arrangement with a friend or a neighbour. The whole procedure is not to be taken lightly. Insurance You should check your insurance policy to ensure it covers full or partial occupation of your home by ten-

ants, and, in particular, that you are covered for any accidental damage or injury they may suffer and for which you could be liable. Some policies do not cover the owner’s liability to third parties, or include it only as an option. This cover (called the garantie recours du locataire contre le propriétaire) deals with your personal legal liability as property owner to cover material or immaterial damage caused to your tenants and guests. Material damage might include, for example, injury caused by a tile falling off the roof. Immaterial damage could include compensation for loss of earnings resulting from hospitalisation. This cover provides protection if the tenant sues you and should also cover your legal costs. Minor damage done by a tenant (smoke damage, stains, breakages, etc) is not insurable and is paid for out of the guarantee deposit. Other obligations of the owner The owner must hand over the

property in a state matching the description provided at the time of the reservation and without serious defects or nuisances that have not been disclosed. Equipment must be serviceable and maintained to a good standard. Private swimming pools must have a safety barrier, protective cover or alarm, conforming to officially prescribed norms. Failure on any of these points lays the owner open to legal proceedings. To ensure that everything goes smoothly and to avoid complaints you should pay special attention to the following points: „ Make sure the property, both inside and outside, and everything

You should check your insurance to ensure it covers full or partial occupation

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Holiday lettings 9

March 2012

July and August rentals pay for rest of the year SIMON PEARCE has been letting his mother’s second home in Le Boulou (PyrénéesOrientales) to holidaymakers since 2005 and says that it brings in around €6,000 a year – enough to cover the costs of maintaining the house all year round. “She generally uses the house in May/June and again in October, but the rest of the time we let it out as a holiday home and we’re usually fully booked for July and August.” Simon says that it is important to be on the spot to welcome people when they arrive and let them know that he is only 15 minutes away by car, if they have any queries. “It’s important to make sure they know how everything works. And I think having good outdoor space is important. We don’t have a garden as such but we do have a really big sun terrace where people can eat outside, and of course that’s a selling point.” He also thinks offering good quality furnishings and fittings is important. “It goes without saying that people expect to find the place absolutely clean and ready when they arrive – a change-over takes around five hours if you do it properly – but people do also expect a home-from-home. “They want proper beds, a washing machine, tumble drier, television and wifi.” It might be expensive, paying for wifi all year round, but Simon says you have to take the long view. “You have to invest and do it properly.” The other thing which is vital, he says, is location. “We’re brilliantly located here. We’re in it is clean, tidy and in proper working order. Lack of cleanliness is the most common source of complaint. Consider having the house professionally cleaned before your first let. Indoors, check for any mould and make sure the fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, shower and work surfaces are spotless. If you provide bed linen make sure it is clean. Cut the grass and check the pH and chlorine levels in the swimming pool. „ If you employ help to clean the home, do the gardening, or provide other services, remember that French law requires you to pay certain social security costs for them. To simplify this there is a system known as the chèque emploi service universel (cesu). This enables you to buy vouchers to cover this liability. (See our helpguide on Employing people at home). „ Provide a map or directions with the description of the premises. Print your telephone number at the top so tenants can contact you if they are lost or to let you know their

These points are especially important if you are hoping for repeat business or recommendations by word of mouth


Simon Pearce says that having a swimming pool involves a lot of extra work only 20 minutes from the Mediterranean, ditto from Perpignan and just an hour and a half from Barcelona. “In the winter we’re less than two hours from the ski slopes. And the countryside in this area is stunning.” When it comes to a swimming pool he says that it is probably true that a swimming spool makes holiday letting easier. “But the expense, not just of the installation, but of the maintenance and upkeep of a pool, would force us to raise our prices. It’s a lot of work, maintaining a pool. Someone has to attend to a pool at least two to three times a week to stop them going milky or green. They go green really fast.”

estimated time of arrival. If it is a mobile number, make sure it is turned on and available when they are likely to call. „ In your description, explain any nuisances or problems, for example nearby noisy roads or junctions, farmyards, motorways, train tracks or building sites. „ Pay attention to minor details. Make the property attractive and comfortable, for example with curtains at the windows and paintings on the walls. A vase of fresh flowers is better than a dried bouquet and a welcoming bottle of wine always pleases. Consider leaving out some

books, DVDs, a games console etc. „ The law no longer allows owners to ban guests’ pets. However, some people may be allergic to cat or dog hair and you should make sure the property is cleaned thoroughly after pets have stayed. Keep an eye out for fleas, ants, spiders or other vermin and leave available products to deal with them if they are around. You are within your rights to make an extra charge and/or to increase the deposit if guests wish to bring pets. „ Unless there are mosquito nets, explain any need to close shutters in evenings to avoid mosquitoes and provide insect-repelling equipment

Letting out your French home to tourists helpguide Get detailed and easy-tto-u understand information including a draft letting contract in English and French - in our new 2012 Letting out your French home to tourists helpguide. It is on sale now, by download or print version, for €5 (+P&P) at or call 0800 91 77 56.

if necessary. „ Explain domestic equipment. Show your guests how to use the oven, the heating or air conditioning and any electrical equipment. Leave manuals available. Explaining things thoroughly at the start will make guests feel welcome and may prevent you having to return to the property during their stay. „ Provide details of local tradesmen and shops. Leave notes on emergency services (doctors, plumbers etc) and check that they will be working during the let period. „ Provide enough storage space. Check that there are enough wardrobes and drawers, especially in the bedroom, kitchen and living room. Bedroom storage areas should be clean and empty. „ Make sure there is enough cutlery and other kitchen utensils, such as a corkscrew, a cheese grater, kitchen knives and cooking pots. You may wish to invest in some new but inexpensive white or matching crockery. „ Leave enough time to clean between guests. If guests arrive before their contracted arrival time and you are not quite ready, invite them to leave their luggage in a corner and suggest a local place of interest they could visit until the prearranged time. „ Make arrangements for return of the deposit and agree a departure time with the guests. Make sure you are there to check the inventory and look for any damage, and to take back the keys and hand back the deposit. Guests with a long journey ahead may leave the night before or very early in the morning and the checks might have to be made after their departure. In this case make arrangements to repay the deposit when you have made the necessary checks. If you do not refund the whole deposit because of a breakage or missing property, send a letter with the details. Bear in mind that all these points are especially important if you are hoping for repeat business or recommendations by word of mouth.

Essential tips to be successful at letting Make sure your property is attractive, correctly equipped and furnished and in a sought-after location Declare to your mairie that you intend to undertake holiday lettings Ensure that your insurance policy and your financing arrangements with the bank will not be infringed Decide on a daily rental, the level of advance payment and the deposit you will require Decide whether you will find tenants and manage the lettings yourself or if you will use an agency or a friend or neighbour If you are not using an agent, prepare a form of letting contract (which may be in English for English-speaking tenants) and advertise for guests Prepare an inventory (in French if you are letting to French people) Make an initial contact with the customer, usually by phone or email Exchange contracts by post and take an advance payment Meet the tenants and hand over the key. Take the remaining payment, have them sign the inventory and show them over the premises After the stay, check the premises and inventory and give back the deposit if all is in order. Otherwise make a deduction for any damage Declare the income in your next income tax declaration

email - website - tel: 0844 232 8583 from UK only 04 67 49 17 94 from France

One of our best selling properties with private pool

Beautiful French homes for that perfect family holiday

South France Holiday Villas is a friendly, personal-touch company specialising in finding you the right holiday villa, cottage or apartment for your holiday to the Languedoc and Provence. We only rent out properties which one of our team has personally vetted so we can ensure a pleasant experience for all our clients.

Luxurious interiors!

New for 2012 is a range of stunning new properties on Garrigae spa resorts. We have a wide range of properties to suit all budgets and requirements and if you can't find something you want, just let us know exactly what you are looking for and we'll do the searching for you! We have local resort representatives so we are on hand

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should you require any assistance during your stay in our area. Owing to demand, we are looking for quality properties to offer our clients - there is no cost to the owner to advertise with us. Please contact us and we can help you to maximize your rental property’s potential.

10 Food

Languedoc Pages

Time to make your own hot cross buns


After winning the first BBC MasterChef in 1990 JOAN BUNTING was soon writing a food column and doing local radio for the BBC. Now the former teacher has retired and moved permanently to her home in France but she is still keen to tell readers about good food THERE is a long European tradition of making special sweet, and often elaborate, breads to celebrate Easter. In Croatia the form of the Easter bread dolls, like a latticed tadpole, makes it obvious that yeast baking at this time of years is a fertility symbol, a sign of new life and revival. Indeed the very word Easter comes from the name Eostre – the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility. In France children are told that when the church bells are silent for the three days before Easter Sunday it is because the bells have flown to Rome to see the Pope. When they hear them ringing again it means they have flown back bringing Easter eggs French Easter breads usually come in a ring shape, like la couronne de Pâques, a

brioche-style dough that is plaited then formed into a circle, glazed and decorated with sugar eggs. In Alsace of course there is always the lovely kugelhopf. Said to have been brought to France from Austria by Marie Antoinette and not strictly limited to Easter, it seems to fit the season particularly well. The first Easter we spent in our French home my mother was quite upset that hot cross buns were completely unknown and insisted on making some. When the baker, who had given us the yeast, arrived Mum and I took out a plate of warm buns and distributed them to all assembled round his van. That was 20 years ago and I have kept up the tradition ever since, though unfortunately neither Mum nor the baker are with us now.

Hot Cross Buns


Photo:© hazel proudlove -

Walnut-sized piece of fresh yeast (some supermarkets stock this in the chilled section) 250ml warm milk 450g strong plain flour (farine pour pain) 120g caster sugar (sucre poudre) Pinch salt 1 tsp mixed spice (If this is difficult to find, add instead extra cinammon and some nutmeg) 1 tsp cinnamon (cannelle) 2 eggs, beaten 60g butter, melted 60g raisins 60g chopped mixed peel (écorce du citron) Pastry for crosses; 1 tbsp softened butter 2 tbsp flour 1 tsp cold water Glaze: 2 tbsp milk mixed with 1 tbsp sugar and heated until the sugar dissolves

March 2012

METHOD Cream the yeast with a tsp of the sugar until it goes liquid Sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Make a well in centre. Pour warmed milk onto yeast, add butter and eggs. Pour into the well, cover bowl and leave in warm place until liquid is covered in bubbles. Using your fingers, or an electric mixer, blend flour into the liquid. Once incorporated mixture will still be quite soft. Turn out on to a well-floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. Don't worry if it seems very sticky at first. Return to clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic film.

A collection of restaurants

Leave in a warm place until almost doubled in bulk. Turn on to a floured board. Knead lightly, incorporating dried fruit. Preheat the oven to 230°C. Divide the dough into 16 equal sized pieces and shape into buns. Put these on greased and floured baking sheets, cover and leave to rise until the buns are again doubled in bulk. Rub butter into the flour and mix with water. Roll out thinly and cut into thin strips. Trim to 5cm long. Press on to risen buns in the form of a cross. Brush with the glaze then bake in oven for 15 minutes or until well risen and brown. Brush again with glaze.

in Languedoc

To advertise your restaurant with us call 0800 91 77 56


Be prepared to avoid boarding blues YOU CAN plan ahead for holiday care for your pet but that is not the case with unexpected events such as hospital stays, family emergencies or funerals. The best course is to ask friends and neighbours for recommendations but do not forget to ask your local vet. There is an advantage in boarding your animal with an establishment registered with your vet – especially if the pet has an ongoing condition. Should they need treatment while you are away, the practice will already be familiar with the animal’s needs. If you opt to search online, look for pension chiens/chats/ chevaux (boarding kennels, cattery, equine boarding) – and also remember to check our directory pages (pages 12-13) for English-speaking services, too. Where possible, schedule a visit to the establishment in

Boarding a pet can be stressful for all involved, especially if it has to be done unexpectedly. It pays to find someone you feel confident with before you need them, says SAMANTHA BRICK advance of a booking. There is an argument to turn up without notice in order to get a true sense of how the establishment operates. However, while there are advantages in this method, there is always the risk of it being closed. A reputable owner should be more than happy to give you a tour of their premises. Do not forget to check that they are insured and registered with a SIRET number. Ask about busy periods – eg: how far in advance do you need to book for Christmas, or other holidays.

This column is sponsored by

Pet Care

If you are boarding more than one pet, can they board together. Where and how often are animals exercised? Also look at the other animals boarding – do they seem happy, well cared for? Do not be afraid to ask for email updates, most owners will happily inform you on your animal’s well-being while they are in their care. It is in your interest to give the boarding establishment as much information as possible about the daily routine and habits of your pet. Wet or dry food? Treats? Or perhaps you feed your animal once a day.

If your pet follows a specific diet you might even prefer to provide your own food. This helps them stay as close to their routine as possible. Any recent or ongoing medical conditions or recurring illnesses? Be sure to provide a written outline of any prescribed medication. Remember to indicate if an animal is about to go, or is in, season (en chaleur). Many establishments will try to accommodate your animal and house them accordingly. Animal boarding establishments in France cannot by law accept your animal without a valid passport (carnet de santé) confirming your pet’s vaccinations. If you will be travelling on a regular basis you should ensure that annual vaccinations are kept up to date. The specific vaccinations required can vary according to where you live – check locally. You

may also be asked to give your animal a flea, tick and worming treatment up to a week before they arrive too. It must also be identified by a tattoo or a microchip. Familiarise yourself with check-in and check-out times; daily tariffs also vary with each establishment. If sending your pet off to kennels does not appeal then there are other options. In France there is an estab-

lished profession of garde d’animaux (pet sitter). There are two options – your pet goes to live with someone in their home or someone moves in while you’re away and cares for your pet in situ. An internet search will provide a list of local contacts.

Tel. 06 58 01 82 76 Web. Email.

Business 11

March 2012

ANNETTE MORRIS has lived in Languedoc for almost four years. She works as a freelance internet marketing consultant and website developer, helping businesses optimise their online presence. Annette co-runs and the Languedoc group of the Survive France network. Last year she started Languedoc Jelly, designed to promote the co-working concept to expats and English-speakers in France. In this regular column she shares her tips for the business community and would welcome readers’ questions and feedback.

FINANCE Answered by

UK residence rules Although we have been living in our property in France for five years, we spend several months each year at our home in the UK. We have heard about HMR&C’s review of the residence rules and are not sure how this might affect us. Will it affect the pension transfer we are considering under QROPS? T.T. AGAINST a background of recent high-profile tax cases, HMR&C announced last year that it was to carry out a review of the residence rules, ostensibly to remove some of the uncertainty which has resulted from the rules being a collection of guidelines and official practices, rather than enshrined in law. Unfortunately, the proposed new rules mean that many who previously had no cause for concern might in the future be “caught” and find it much more difficult to avoid ongoing UK tax liabilities. The good news is that HMR&C has decided to defer the introduction of the new rules until April 6, 2013, but this should not be met with too large a sigh of relief – it is still important to keep records of periods spent in the UK, France and elsewhere, because tax residence for the year 2013-2014 (from April 6, 2013) will for many depend to a large degree on their visits during 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The proposals are too complex to go into in depth here (apart from to say that in some circumstances spending fewer than 45 or even 10 days in the UK in a tax year could result in UK tax residence), but it would seem sensible to take advice before you decide on your travel plans for the next year or so. However, the use of the phrase “several months” suggests you might already be potentially resident in both France and the UK, and I would recommend that you seek advice urgently in order to check. HMR&C has also been consulting the financial services sector on the subject of QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) – the rules by which UK pensions can be “exported” by those who have left the UK – and the new rules could be introduced from April 6, after a short but busy consultation period. The objective has been to crack down even further on the “pension-busting” schemes, but ensuring that individuals can still benefit from bona fide schemes and take much more control over how their hard-earned pension money is invested, and, of increasing importance these days, to avoid leaving their pension capital in employer schemes with substantial deficits. You have to be non-UK resident, or be in the process of becoming non-UK resident, to use QROPS schemes, so you should check carefully before proceeding. Since one of the proposed changes involves reporting to HMR&C for 10 years from the transfer date (instead of the current five years of non-residence), you will be under scrutiny for much longer. However, the long-term benefits of QROPS are still very substantial, especially: „ the ability to invest in a manner much better suited to your circumstances; „ being able to continue to generate the same levels of income for the surviving spouse; „ the existence of a capital sum to transfer to beneficiaries after death, often with significant reductions in tax liability. It would appear best to wait until the outcome is known (and your own tax status is checked) before proceeding. Your adviser should be able to help you with this and suggest which jurisdiction is most appropriate in your circumstances, as this aspect is also likely to change as a result of HMR&C’s consultation process.

Expand your contacts and boost your trade As an increasing number of people relocate to the Languedoc, the number of micro enterprises and small businesses in the region rises, and like many other locations in France, business owners in the Pyrénées-Orientales are faced with serious commercial challenges. WITH a large percentage of second homes and holiday resorts along the coastline, many businesses enjoy a short period of intense activity, followed by a significant lull during the longer winter months. A new group of business owners, based in and around

On average, over 65% of all new business is gained through word of mouth and positive recommendation

Perpignan, recognise that the potential benefits of networking are vast. A business group originally started in 2008 called FAB P-O (French Anglo Business in the Pyrénées-Orientales) has

been rekindled for 2012 under a new identity – “FAB Networks”. With the appointment of a new president and a core working group, FAB Networks is launching a new website this spring and a support network that is open to all nationalities. Their enthusiasm is infectious. „ Good for business, Good for you On average, over 65% of all new business is gained through word of mouth and positive recommendation. People like to refer business to those they know, like and trust. It sounds obvious, but just by expanding your contacts you are also raising your own business profile; if people know what you do, you are more likely to be considered as a supplier. „ Support goes both ways People generally like to help each other, and many members of FAB Networks are willing to impart their expertise and advice to others they know. Group members find that the help passed to them, formally or informally, exceeds any time investment incurred in joining the networking group in the first place. And it is not just about generating sales leads and referrals. How much time have you wasted trying to find the right person or business to solve a problem for you? Getting to know reliable contacts will help you find what

Photo: © Yuri Arcurs -

Languedoc Pages

Networking can open up a range of new opportunities you need and who can be trusted with your own time and money. „ You don’t know what you don’t know You never know when a contact will present you with new opportunities. Joining a group of like-minded individuals can open up a whole array of possibilities. Internet networking and online interaction has an increasingly vital role for most businesses, but face-to-face networking offers a much better chance of meeting people you may want to spend time with. Even if the initial purpose was for business, the opportunity to develop new friendships can be particularly beneficial for expats.

„ You get out what you put in Like many free groups or events, free does not mean “of no value”. It means all participants bring value to the group and maintain the momentum. Members of FAB Networks agree it is not easy doing business in the P-O, but the area has huge potential. They would like to increase referrals between businesses and find ways to prolong the tourist season. In a global recession, a free business support group like FAB Networks is a valuable resource. And with the 45minute TGV journey from Barcelona to Perpignan set to be ready by 2013, a whole new range of possibilities may be on the horizon.

Dates for the diary FAB Networks Jelly co-working and networking lunch is on March 13. FAB Networks is an official association registered in France and free to join. Email your enquiry to or call Secretary Anna Walmsley 06 59 48 87 86.

To contact Annette Morris, call 07 86 14 16 39 or email

12 Directory

Languedoc Pages



PAGES English-speaking firms near you Directory adverts are available in 3 sizes and in colour or black and white.


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

04 68 96 40 80 Email: Website: Boutique cat and dog hotel

Home from Home 3km from Beziers.

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


PETER JOHNSON SARL Business & Financial Services French taxation specialists (25 years experience)

Mobile: 06 21 04 89 37 Office: 04 93 29 34 32 Email: Siret n° 479 554 784 RCS Grasse


ARCHITECTE SUD Bi-lingual architect SW France: feasibility studies, ecological design, renovation, planning, project management.

Tel: 05 63 56 39 11 Email: Web: SIRET N°: 41976643100011

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


Artisan Developments Fully project managed property renovations. Comprehensive building, planning & design services. Languedoc Roussillion

Tel: 04 67 25 29 38 - Mob: 06 73 17 02 73 Email: or

Web: or


BUILDER/CARPENTER/PLUMBER Renovation / repairs - References supplied Established 30 years- 10 in France

Tel: +33 (0) 4 68 20 29 91 Mob: +33 (0) 6 07 27 37 56 E mail: Siret no : 44383409800016


€225HT €339HT

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



Tel. 06 72 42 07 04 - 04 68 37 97 83 DEPT 66 Siret: 494 683 931 00021

General Builder Established 2011 in the Aude Can manufacture shutters, doors, stairs windows and kitchens Tel: +33 (0) 4 68 78 72 51 Mobile +33 (0) 6 19 95 87 50 10 Email:


Don’t waste your time with amateurs We design professional websites, highly Google-ranked, that sell.

Tel: 04 67 38 17 64 Email: Website: Siret: 450 096 193 00021

- Regions covered: All


French Without Tears

One to One Language Course. Tuition with Accomodation Tel: 06 78 15 19 29 Siret: 521701474 - Ad No. 17685

Need some help? High-quality translating, language and intercultural training at reasonable prices Connecting Cultures

Tel: 0033 (0) 4 67 82 36 62




47mm x 75mm

(31-45 words)

call 0800 91 77 56




€150HT €225HT

Light Purple

47mm x 50mm


Dark Purple



Light Green

(16-30 words)


Dark Green


HOW TO BOOK AN ADVERT Choose the size of your advert from the examples on the left. You can have a black and white advert; or you can choose a colour from the list below. Finally, you can choose to have rounded corners to the box to help make your advert stand out (See right). Then, when you have made your choice, Light Blue

} } }

€75HT €114HT

Find registered tradespeople quickly and easily

Dark Blue

47mm x 25mm


For your security, we check that the French businesses in this section are officially registered with the authorities

Choose from these colours:


(1-15 words)

March 2012











PERPIGNAN Translating, interpreting, hand-holding Distance tuition by MSN/Skype Homestay language courses Workshops +33 (0)4 68 38 91 69 ESTATE AGENTS

HOUSES ON INTERNET Do you want to sell your house quickly? Our fee is only 2.5% Find out how on: WWW. HOUSESONINTERNET.COM

Tel: 05 55 65 12 19 ELECTRICIANS


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

Justin Harrison, Central heating Engineer/Plumber and David Hodgskin, Electrician Full renovations / repairs in Aude 06 65 06 05 74 06 33 38 87 38

FRENCH INSURANCE IN ENGLISH For people who live in / own property in France Straight-forward, honest advice on the best house, car, life & health insurance policies for you Over 15 years experience in French insurance markets English, Dutch & German spoken. Philippe Schreinemachers Tel: 05 62 29 20 00 Email: RCS Auch B479 400 657 - Regions: All France

The Spectrum IFA Group Regulated, qualified and experienced advisers providing independent financial advice. Investments, retirement, inheritance planning, Insurance, mortgages. Mail: for your nearest adviser. With care, you prosper. Ad No. 16706

We offer a friendly and personal touch service through our in-depth knowledge of all properties and local areas. Property Management Services available.

Tel: 04 67 49 17 94 Email:

Keysitting Property Services We look after your home in your absence Providing an extensive range of services for your complete peace of mind

Project Management GARDENS & POOLS DICK FOWLER CONSTRUCTION Pool design and build Also other house renovation and construction works Email: Phone: 06 70 91 12 17 Ad No. 18691


Exclusive Healthcare

Ad No. 17780


Holiday Villa Rental in the Languedoc & Provence

Your Helping Hand to the French Health System

of any works, repairs, renovations, extensions

UZES 00 33 (0) 6 78 47 37 58 Ad No. 15493

BBC-ITV-Sky For all your UK Tv and Radio solutions

Skydigi - based in Languedoc 04 68 87 18 30 Ad No. 19225


ALPACA WOOL and KNITWEAR Knitting Yarns, Accessories, Fleeces For Spinning email: Siret 529 235 053

+33 (0) 4 94 40 31 45


Perfect Property Management Quality House & Swimming Pool Management in the Languedoc

Tel: +33 (0) 4 99 57 05 89 Mobile: +33 (0) 6 68 89 23 30 Web: Email: Siret: 51215779300013

Book now for the April issue - copy deadline March 5 call freephone in France 0800 91 77 56 / from UK 0844 256 9881 (4p/min)

Languedoc Pages

Directory 13

March 2012


Pre-checked and approved holiday properties You never know quite what to expect when you rent a holiday home for the first time, but Juliana Forte and her team take all that worry away by personally checking every single rental property that her holiday company has to offer SOUTH France Holiday Villas was started by Juliana Forte with the aim of providing a friendly, efficient service to clients looking for that perfect holiday property in the Languedoc or Provence. Right from the start Juliana was determined to only rent out properties which either she or one of her team had personally visited in order to ensure that there are no hidden problems with the properties booked by her clients. “It’s the only way to make sure there are no nasty surprises when clients arrive at their holiday property - you

definitely don’t want to find that it is next to a nightclub or a motorway,” said Juliana. “It means I travel a lot, especially as we offer properties in Provence, but as my children are now older, it is the perfect time for me to spend time expanding our area.” Juliana has been in the Languedoc for ten years, having moved here with her whole family in 2002, and her son now works in the business too. “He is a huge benefit as he is completely bilingual having spent nine years in French schooling,” she said.

“South France Holiday Villas offers a wide range of properties to suit all budgets. We don’t just have villas with private pools, but also cottages and apartments, either with a shared pool or near the beach, or traditional village houses for clients to experience real southern French village life,” said Juliana. Juliana now has a great team of people working with her, both in the UK and in the Languedoc, who all work hard so clients get the best service possible. “We put a lot of effort into each enquiry and make very specific searches,” said Juliana. “So if a customer doesn’t see their ideal property straight away on our website, they should contact us so we can do the searching on their behalf.” She added: “Once a client has booked a property the service doesn’t end here as we have representatives in the area

should they need any assistance during their stay.” Brand new this year is a range of stunning properties on first class spa resorts by Garrigae, which have on-site pools, spas, restaurants and bars. “People need to book fast as there are early booking discounts for most property types.” For property owners, the company provides an efficient changeover service within the Languedoc and is also able to offer security visits, translations, emergency assistance and contacts for tradespeople and artisans. Due to demand South France Holiday Villas is looking for more quality properties to offer clients. “There is no cost to advertise with us so people should get in touch so that we can help them maximize their rental property’s potential.” 04 67 49 17 94

Juliana and her team carry out tailormade searches for customers so they can find the perfect holiday home

Quality building work and carpentry solutions From maintenance to renovation and furniture creation, if your property is in the Aude then James Gordon Roe can help you with any aspect of building or carpentry work HAVING spent the last 25 years in the building industry and also as a professional carpenter, James Gordon Roe understands all aspects of the building trade and how to manage a project from the start through to completion. He has now been established in the Aude for ten years and during that time has built up a good reputation for providing everything from maintenance to

renovation and conversions. “We also have a 1.5 tonne mini-digger available for excavation work,” said James. If you live in the Aude, or whether your second home is based in the Aude and you live elsewhere, and need building or renovation work to be carried out on your property, James can handle the whole process for you. “We understand that having building work on your property can make for a stressful time, especially if you don’t speak the language or if it’s a secondary home,” said James. “By sourcing all materials and offering weekly emails, with photos so you can keep up with progress of the building works, we try to make the process as stress free for clients as possible.” James’s expertise does not stop at prop-

erty exteriors, another area where he is skilled to help clients improve their home is on the inside. As a professional carpenter he can create a wide range of items for any room in the house and his company regularly manufactures shutters, doors, windows, bookshelves, stairs and kitchens to clients’ specifications. Another aspect to James’s company is the maintenance service that he offers. Properties are always in need of upkeep and James knows how to solve the problems homeowners are sometimes unsure of how to fix. So whether you need to eliminate rot in the railings or have a door that needs hanging, James and his team can do the work and source all the materials too where necessary. To discuss your building and

How to optimise your French connection As a professional interpreter and translator, Victoria OrangeSibra came to realise that intercultural understanding was vital to getting the right message across in a different language. Her company, Connecting Cultures, now in its tenth year, provides a wide range of personal- and businessorientated services from helping families settle smoothly into a new life in France to advising multi-cultural business teams on how to best communicate WHEN families relocate to France they often find it more challenging than expected says Victoria Orange-Sibra. A different language, school system and culture can lead to isolation, confusion and sometimes can result in a return home or continual flitting between two countries. However, Connecting Culture’s inter-

cultural training can help people to understand France better and settle in more quickly. “There are people of all nationalities coming to France and they need to know how to live here on a personal and social level, in a work environment or as part of an international team,” said Victoria, who says the family is just as important as the person work-

ing even though this is often overlooked. “If the partner, who is sometimes called the ‘trailing spouse’, is not happy then more often than not the expat mission fails. Connecting Cultures can help people in many different ways, from finding schools to establishing a network of English speakers and teaching French,” added Victoria. In terms of the company’s business focus, Victoria has found that her services are being required more and more locally. Up until the last two to three years she was travelling around the world providing intercultural training, but has found that as globalisation increases she can base herself in Montpellier most of the time where she lives. The company’s expertise in cross-


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James Gordon Roe provides building and carpentry services in the Aude carpentry needs call or email James and he can provide you with advice and a very competitive quote. cultural team building has meant that many international companies now use Victoria’s skills to optimise results. “If you are working for an international company and the team is made up of, say, German, Spanish, American and Chinese employees it can be very enriching or a complete disaster - and often it ends up in a disaster if they haven’t been trained on how to communicate and understand cultural differences,” said Victoria. “This training would help raise awareness of differences, highlight similarities and set up a way of working that will mean the team will be successful. “It is beneficial to invest a little bit of time to make living and working here easier and happier. In terms of families, if a businessman realises his wife is contented and making friends, usually it means the family is happier and a successful relocation results.”

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14 Home and Garden

Languedoc Pages

March 2012

Creating a focal point D I Y t i p s key to garden balance


Replacing a toilet is a quick and easy job Photo:Petr Kurgan -

If your garden needs sprucing up, simple art and decoration techniques can work wonders. And you don’t need intricate items and designs, as REBECCA LAWN finds.

Photo: © Pix by Marti -

Simple changes can have a dramatic effect on the feel of your garden While you will need practical lighting for entranceways and paths, you can also create a certain mood in your garden with decorative lighting. One way of doing this is through pots which have lighting in them. “There are red pots that fade to orange and yellow, or solar-panelled ones with a black panel near-

8 The

by which gets sun during the day to power it at night. “Two or three on a patio changes the atmosphere of the garden.” For a romantic look, try candle-lit lanterns; or, for entertaining, strings of coloured lights can set a relaxed outdoor atmosphere. To create a beautiful garden

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SOMETIMES, giving your garden a new look can be as easy as the right plant in the right place. Gary McArthur, who runs Kingdom Vegetal garden centre and landscaping business in Boulogne-sur-Gesse ( suggested a monkey puzzle, saying: “They are one of those plants that highlight themselves, just with some shingle around.” Other options, especially for southern gardens, are a hardy palm such as a butia, an olive tree or topiary. “They can all be a feature in their own right – one plant surrounded by some gravel or stones can be very striking.”

with next to no fuss, there are a few things you can put in place quickly and cheaply. “Look at getting an irrigation system, as that’s also better for plants. The prices have come down a lot in the past few years and they’re very easy to install,” Gary says. One of the main things to remember is your location – choose plants that naturally grow well in your area. Ground cover planting can also make gardens easier to care for as they cover weeds and hold in water; also look at adding herbs, mulches, gravels and bark chippings. For the ground, it is best to combine a few different materials, rather than sticking with just the one. Once you have the main features in place, you can have fun adding garden ornaments or creating different moods. And there is a lot of choice from wooden windchimes to spinners placed in the ground which turn and reflect the light. You could also opt for wind sculptures, or glass bubbles designed to look like soap bubbles, which can be placed in the shrubbery or rockery, hung on branches or used as tea-lights. Not forgetting stone bird or animal ornaments, freestanding weathervanes and sun-catchers. A favourite in many gardens is the water feature, with many varieties of fountains and waterfalls to choose from. If you want a sense of unity between your home and garden, go for similar colours or fabrics to indoors. When adding a piece to your garden, the main thing to think about is the overall impression it gives. Gary says: “Scale is very important – you can quickly destroy a garden by putting in something too small or big. “As for a feature or focal point, you create one for two reasons: to draw people to it or to take people’s attention away from what you don’t want them to look at!”

Replacing a toilet should not take too much time THE toilet is probably one of the most used fixtures in the house so it is no surprise it sometimes needs to be replaced. Putting in a new one is relatively simple and should take no more than a day to do. These instructions are for the kind where the tank is separate to the bowl. Turn off the water, then flush the toilet until the tank is empty. Hold the trip-lever down to make sure all the water runs out. Soak up any water in both tank and bowl – make sure both completely empty. Using a large adjustable spanner, remove the nuts that connect the toilet tank to the water supply then remove the bolts holding it to the wall. It should then easily come away from the wall and you can lift it clear of the bowl. To remove the toilet bowl, remove bolts that hold it to the floor. If need be, loosen bowl by gently rocking it back and forth to break the seal with the floor, then simply lift and remove. Be careful not to tip the bowl too much in case water is still inside. Block the sewer pipe connection with rags to stop gases getting out and debris getting in the pipe. Install new toilet: Thoroughly clean the area round the toilet, removing any old sealant on the floor. This is also a good time to check over the water and sewer pipes and to do any necessary repairs or replacements. Once prepared, temporarily put the toilet seat unit in the desired position on the floor over the evacuation pipe and check the level. If necessary, make it level by strategically placing non-rusting metal washers. Then install a new pair of hold-down bolts, it is important to use purpose made bolts, make sure they are both equal distance from the wall. Installing the bowl and tank is really just a case of following the removal instructions in reverse. Seal the new bowl to the sewer pipe with ready-made wax toilet ring gasket, make sure it is at room temperature and the flat face is placed against the bowl. Make sure you remove the rags from the pipe and gently lower bowl onto it. Once in place seal around the edge of the bowl’s base with plumbers’ putty. Temporarily tighten the nuts with your hands. To install the tank, fit the rubber washer between the tank and bowl, bevel side out. Gently lower the tank onto the back of the bowl. Place mounting bolts and fix snugly. Connect the water supply to the tank’s inlet valve. Turn on the water and check that the tank fills correctly and that there are no leaks. If there are small leaks it could just be a case of tightening bolts. Once sure that all is functional tighten the hold-down bolts on the bowl with a spanner, fit the trim caps and smooth excess sealant. Test flush the toilet, checking for leaks on the floor this time and if all is OK your installation is complete.


0800 91 77 56 (FREE FROM FRANCE)

Languedoc Pages

Property 15

March 2012

Houses for sale in and around Languedoc

LegalNotes Answered by

Photo: © Robert Kneschke -

Buying or selling a property in or around Languedoc? We can help. Our website carries details of more than 14,000 homes for sale across France. We also feature properties for sale in this dedicated section of the paper each month. To find out more about any particular property, go to and enter the ref: code shown under the property. For sellers, the adverts are also displayed



Lunas, Hérault A stone mazet in the countryside, with about 60m² of living space on 2296m² of land, good condition. Includes a workshop, wooden chalet, outside shower and toilet and a terrace.

Bram, Aude Elegant village house with grand entrance and staircase. Lounge, dining room and kitchen with marble fireplaces. Back kitchen with service stairs to other floors. Wine cellar, garage, pigeonnier. ENERGY RATING = Not given

I was reading the small print of competition rules in a magazine running a competition and it said the firm had appointed a huissier. I know this means a bailiff, but why appoint a bailiff to help run a competition? IN THE case of competitions run by the media, appointing a huissier is one of the legal requirements, which are fairly onerous (which is why the small print is usually long and complicated). The rules of the competition and a copy of any documents being sent to the public must be lodged with this official, who checks that they are in order. The name of the huissier must also feature in the regulations. If a media or publishing company breaks any of the rules, it may be found guilty of a criminal offence of running a “prohibited lottery”. Another important rule is that the competition must cost nothing to enter. For example, a newspaper cannot ask people to buy a copy of the publication to take part. Even having to pay for a stamp or phone call can, in theory, be questionable, so the rules should state such expenses will be reimbursed on request. The entry form must also be separate from any purchase order for goods or services. The regulations must state the prizes to be won and their value, in decreasing order of value, and must say that a copy of the rules will be sent free to anyone on request. Anyone affected by a breach in these laws can complain to the local fraud office for the area in which the company running the competition is based. This office, which is called (depending on the area) DDPP or DDCSPP, will investigate and may initiate legal action.

REF: 28632



Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales Beautiful stone arches directly open onto a charming patio, fireplace, kitchen, a very large master bedroom with a private dressing room, bathroom, and 3 other good size bedrooms.

Nîmes, Gard Village stone house fully restored with living room, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge, kitchen, barn (ready for conversion if required). Garden with swimming pool . ENERGY RATING = Not given

REF: PR102

Why should a bailiff run a competition?

New Consumption and Emission Chart - e.g. Energy rating C & F refers to C for Consumption and F for Emissions


REF: 5196vm

Winning money should not cost you anything

across a range of popular English-language websites and are seen by thousands of potential buyers EVERY day. Our 3+3 package costs just €200TTC and gives you three months online advertising as well as a print advert in three editions of The Languedoc Pages. Our 6+6 package is best value at €330TTC and provides the same, but for six months via each channel. Contact us on 0800 91 77 56 (freephone in France) or email

REF: FMP03102011



Bédarieux, Hérault Restored 5 bedroom farmhouse with heated pool in spectacular setting with stream and mountain views. Ground floor: large open-plan space dining room with French door.

Céret, Pyrénées Orientales Spacious property with 3 bedrooms in the main house, a 2 bedroomed apartment and a 1 bedroomed apartment. Swim-ming pool with 3 large terraces and stunning views

REF: IFPC21537


REF: 2695




More details on all these properties - and how to contact the seller directly - can be found in the property for sale section of Simply enter the code under each home to find out more The adverts above cost from just €200TTC for three months of web advertising and three months of print advertising in the Languedoc Pages. Let our distribution get you a sale. Contact our sales team on 0800 91 77 56 (freephone in France) or email

16 People

Languedoc Pages

March 2012

Cancer survivor offers support WHEN former solicitor Penny Parkinson and her husband Frank moved to Caixas in the PyrénéesOrientales at the end of 2000, they had heard good things about the French health service: little did they know that they would be making so much use of it. “I was shocked to discover in 2006, at the age of 52, that I had breast cancer, but I can confirm that the health system here certainly does work,” said Penny. “I hope, by relating my experience, to reassure others unfortunate enough to find themselves in a similar position. “The kindness shown to me by staff at the hospitals and clinics could not have been better. “However, the experience left me feeling some support in English could have been helpful. “In 2008 I became aware of a French-registered charity called Cancer Support France, which provides telephone and other support to English-speakers living in France who are affected by cancer. “By chance, a new association was being established, called Cancer Support France – Sud de France, to cover the Aude, Ariège and Pyrénées-Orientales; I am now the vice-president of this group and co-ordinate volunteers from the Pyrénées-Orientales.” Penny said: “There are over 40 members in the PyrénéesOrientales, of whom 22 have com-

LOUISE HURREN talks to Penny Parkinson, whose own battle with breast cancer inspired her to support other English-speaking cancer patients in the Pyrénées-Orientales pleted the training course, which is obligatory before a member can give support to clients. “Trained members, of which I am one, are called Active Volunteers. My role is an organisational one; I arrange the ongoing training for our AVs, as well as that of new members. We have a helpline which covers the three departments, but increasingly I have direct contact with clients via phone or e-mail. “If they are seeking information, I usually handle that myself, but if a client needs language or other support, then I find an AV with the necessary skills. I attend meetings in the P-O with other volun-

I had wonderful treatment and this allows me to give something back. Helping with CSF is a form of healing for me

tary groups who provide a similar service, such as La Ligue Contre le Cancer, and as an AV myself, I have clients I give support.” Asked what her involvement brings in the way of personal satisfaction, Penny reflects: “I had wonderful treatment, and this allows me to give something back; helping with CSF is also a form of healing for me.” She fondly recalls a significant moment: “Back in 2009, we were all working hard and beginning to wonder whether our efforts were leading anywhere. “We were running a raffle at a Christmas market and I was approached by a lady who asked, ‘Are you the cancer person? I want you to know what a huge support your organisation has been to our family. We don’t need you but we know you are there when and if we do,’ and she gave me €10.” In 2012, CSF Sud is working to raise awareness in specific areas. Readers interested in joining CSF Sud or wanting more information can call Penny on 04 68 38 81 28 or email There is also a forum at

Breast cancer survivor Penny Parkinson is now a Cancer Support volunteer

Languedoc Pages - March 2012