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2 Pages What’s On

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95c | ISSUE 17 | DECEMBER 2012

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The cowboys who protect our regional heritage PAGE 7

Protestors pledge to halt rural golf plans

Attend a funeral without the travel Two Languedoc crematoria are pioneering an internet-based system that allows mourners to take part in memorial services without being physically present - and may be useful to expatriates. The new service, developed by the Paris-based firm Afterweb Venture, was first adopted in France by the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris – France’s largest cemetery and the second largest in Europe. The crematoria of Canet-enRoussillon (Pyrénées-Orientales) and Trèbes (Aude) are following, offering a service that allows clients to follow a funeral service from their home, on their own computer or iPad. Eric Fauveau of Afterweb Venture said: “Our service is aimed at people who cannot attend a funeral in person; perhaps due to mobility issues, illness, or simply because they are too far away and just cannot travel for the required period of time.” The procedure is simple: a remote-controlled camera is installed at the crematorium in question and films the funeral service which can then be viewed for up to 30 days online via a private website.  Turn to page 4


moNtpellIer’s cocktail king Page 3

RURAL residents are campaigning hard against plans to build new golf courses in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon countryside. Two projects in the Pyrénées-Orientales and the Aude look to have been scuppered by locals who claim they do not want to see their country landscape changed, while a third – also in the Aude – has been hit by a series of legal complications that have continued for five years. In the Pyrénées-Orientales department, the préfecture has moved to block plans for a golf course at Villeneuve-de-la-Raho, south of Perpignan. The project has not been approved because of water shortages and environmental concerns. A Facebook page (“Non au golf à Villeneuve de la Raho”) was created by an association called Agir pour Villeneuve, rallying those opposed to the project. Latest develop-

ments in the case are posted on the page. The page was set up by Villeneuve resident Thomas Emeriau, who said: “Our concerns are based on the fact that we live in an area where water is already in limited supply. “We are also keen to protect the area of some 500 hectares which was earmarked not just for a golf course but also for housing with it. “We mounted a petition and attracted around 500 signatures, and organised a demonstration in front of the préfecture of the PyrénéesOrientales.” Promoter Belin Promotion and the mairie of Villeneuve have until mid-December to appeal against the préfecture’s decision.  Turn to page 2

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December 2012

New tram route unveiled

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Contents News What’s On Feature Leisure Time

1-7 8-11 12-13, 24 14

Food and Pets 15 Directory 16-17 Home and Gardening 18-19 Property and Finance 20-23

Useful Numbers EMERGENCY NUMBERS 18: Emergencies: Calls the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers), but they deal with medical emergencies and are usually the first port of call in rural areas. 112: Emergency calls from your mobile: Be ready with your name and where you are calling from and do not hang up until told to do so. 17: Police (gendarmes) 119: Child abuse. 1616: Sea and lake rescue. 01 40 05 48 48: Anti-poison centre (Paris) 08 10 33 30 + your department number (eg 24 for the Dordogne): Gas & electricity emergencies UTILITIES FRANCE TELECOM Website in English: To report a fault online: (click on the UK flag). English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00 (from France); + 33 1 55 78 60 56 (outside France). ORANGE: English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00. SFR: 1023 (+ 33 6 10 00 10 23 from outside France). FREE: 1044. Bouygues: 1034. EDF: 24 hour breakdown line: 08 10 33 30 87; Helpline in English: 05 62 16 49 08; From outside France: + 33 5 62 16 49 08; Email: GOVERNMENT ORGANISATIONS CAISSE D’ALLOCATIONS FAMILIALES CAF:; Tel: 08 10 25 14 10. L’ASSURANCE MALADIE (AMELI, formerly known as CPAM – the health service):; Tel: 36 46 (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm) English spoken. URSSAF: English-language website: www.anglais. - Aude - 20 rue Saint Michel, BP 605, 11876 CARCASSONNE CEDEX 9, Tel: 04 68 11 24 00 | Gard - 6 rue du Cirque Romain, 30923 NIMES CEDEX 9, Tel: 04 66 36 48 00 | Hérault - Quartier de la Mosson, 35 rue La Haye, 34937 MONTPELLIER CEDEX 9, Tel: 08 20 00 34 35 | Lozère - Quartier des Carmes, BP 104, 48003 MENDE, Tel: 04 66 47 23 48 | Pyrénées-Orientales - 26 rue Petite la Monnaie, BP 59926, 66021 PERPIGNAN CEDEX 9, Tel: 04 68 35 75 00 PREFECTURE: Aude - 52 rue Jean Bringer, BP 836, 11012 CARCASSONNE CEDEX Tel: 04 68 10 27 01 | Gard - 10 avenue Feuchères, 30045 NIMES CEDEX 9 Tel: 04 66 36 40 40 | Hérault 34 place des Martyrs de la Résistance, 34062 MONTPELLIER CEDEX 2 Tel: 04 67 61 61 61 | Lozère - 2 rue de La

Rovère, 48000 MENDE Tel: 04 66 49 60 00 | Pyrénées-Orientales - 24 quai Sadi Carnot, 66951 PERPIGNAN CEDEX Tel: 04 68 51 66 66 OTHER HELP IN ENGLISH Counselling in France: for a qualified therapist near you or counselling over the telephone; SOS Help: similar to the Samaritans, listeners who are professionally trained; Tel 01 46 21 46 46; No Panic France: for help with anxiety disorders; Tel: 02 51 28 80 25; Alcoholics Anonymous: Aude Regular meetings are held (in French) in Carcassonne | Gard - Regular meetings are held (in French) in Nîmes, Alès and Cèze | Hérault - Regular meetings are held (in French) in Sète Agde Beziers, Bédarieux and Lodève. Montpellier: English-speaking group (closed) meets Thursdays at 18:45-20:15, doors open at 18:30. Ganges: English-speaking meeting (Willing to Grow Group), with meetings (closed) Tuesdays 18:30-20:00 in the Foyer des Jeunes, near the Schools on rue E. Gounelle, 34190 Ganges. | Pyrénées-Orientales Céret, Le Barcares-Village, Thuir, Vernet les Bains and Perpignan Cancer Support France: for advice and someone to talk to: National Office: email:; Tel: 05 45 89 30 05. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces (SSAFA): In France: 05 53 01 64 54. Email: france@ ssafa. AVF: help with French life; OTHER INFO Yellow Pages: Speaking clock: 3699. Weather: 08 92 68 02 + dept. number. Last incoming call on your phone: 3131, then ‘5’ if you wish to connect. BRITISH CONSULATE British Consulate Marseilles: 24 avenue du Prado, 13006 Marseilles. Open: 09:0012:00 and 14:00-17:00 Tel: 04 91 15 72 10 (after hours emergency call this number for answer phone emergency service) PUBLIC HOLIDAYS THIS MONTH December 25: Christmas Day

Languedoc Clubs and Associations Alliance Franco-Anglaise du Languedoc Roussillon Association aimed at assisting English speaking newcomers to integrate through conversation classes and social events. Contact Neil Todd: 04 67 37 99 52 Association Echanges Association offering cultural exchanges in French or English and bringing together various nationalities for meetings every two months. Social events for people in the area plus English lessons. The main activity for English speakers is a "pot luck" meal together for informal discussion and games and so on. Contact Emma Tikunova: 04 68 60 38 99 or 06 01 79 97 27

Appassionata Choir The Chorale Appassionata welcomes new members. We rehearse in the Salle Polyvalente at Bassan,from 19.45 to 22.00 every Tuesday. Membership is international amd we sing everything classical to jazz. Contact Rhona Goujon 04 67 36 05 83 ESKA English Speaking Kids Association A new non-profit association called ESKA - English Speaking Kids Association which has been set up in the region to bring together English-speaking children of various ages to enjoy different kinds of activities in English. All children of all nationalities are welcome to join in the activities accompanied by their parents or guardians. Meetings take place in LunelViel. 04 67 82 36 62

The fifth line is due to enter service in 2017 and means that an estimated 60% of the city population will live near tram After a year of studies, debate and 12 meetings open to the public, Montpellier Agglomération has officially announced the route for the city’s fifth tram line. The 20.5km route will link the communes of Lavérune, Saint-Jean-deVédas, Montpellier, Montferrier, Clapiers and Prades-le-Lez. Additionally, it will provide a link with the existing line 4 in the town centre, between Place Albert 1er and the

boulevard de l’Observatoire. Featuring 27 stops, line 5 is expected to be used by some 59,000 travellers on a daily basis, according to the Agglomération. The cost of the new line is e330million, of which e220million will be paid by the Agglomération. The remainder will be funded by the French government (e37millon), Languedoc-Roussillon’s regional council (e50million) and the Hérault depart-

ment (e23million). With the addition of the fifth line an estimated 60% of the population of the greater Montpellier area will be able to use the tramway. Studies regarding various options for the Montferrier to Prades-le-Lez section have been delayed, but work is still scheduled to start before the end of next year, and it is expected that the new tram line will start taking passengers in 2017.

Thomas Emeriau, secretary of the protest group Agir pour Villeneuve

Meanwhile, a luxury golf tourism project in Villardonnel (Aude) has yet to see the day, further to a series of legal proceedings which have dragged on since 2007, when company Landbridge Capital was granted the concession to develop the Domaine de Laroyale golf and spa resort. Situated over 300 hectares of land in the Cabardès area, near Carcassonne, the site earmarked for the Domaine de Laroyale has views across the Pyrenees. Plans for this luxury golf resort include around 600 holiday homes, a four-star hotel with gourmet restaurant, bar, health spa and conference centre, and an 18-hole golf course. However, it has been alleged that favouritism influenced the decision to grant Landbridge Capital the concession, and that procedures for calls for tender were not followed correctly. Most recently, courts in Montpellier have overthrown the previous decision of no case being found, and a new enquiry has been ordered. Contacted by Languedoc Pages, a former Landbridge Capital representative who declined to be named confirmed that the project had “met with some difficulty” and was, in his opinion, unlikely to go ahead.

Opposition to golf course plans From page 1 The préfecture said in a statement: “This project presents a number of difficulties, due on the one hand to environmental issues and on the other hand, to the conservation of our department’s water resources. It is difficult for the department to authorise the building of leisure facilities that consume large amounts of water.” Préfet René Bidal added: “For the sake of our future, it is key to establish priorities between the different uses of water within a department whose population continues to grow and where we must consider the potential impact of a lack of natural resources. “Given the current climate in France, in which we are being asked to limit the use of natural resources such as water, and this, under threat of European sanctions, I would remind everyone that the PyrénéesOrientales is not exempt from making this effort which is asked of everyone across the Rhône-Alpes basin area, on which our department depends.” Plans for yet another golf development in the Aude are being scuppered by locals loathe to see their country landscape blotted by a 240-hectare project that would 

include an 18-hole golf course and some 300 holiday homes. Located in the Montagne Noire area, the villagers of Fontiers-Cabardès (population 420) are up in arms – a protest group called Les Crocodiles du Cabardès has been formed. Local authorities turned down a first set of plans in late 2011, and revised proposals submitted this summer seem likely to meet the same fate because of concerns about the impact on the local environment, and water issues.

Languedoc Pages

December 2012

New owner for your local paper As of the end of this month, the Languedoc Pages will have a new publisher. English Language Media, which launched the Pages 18 months ago, has sold the title to the Solo Group of the UK. The firm plans a redesign and relaunch in spring 2013. Sarah Smith, director of ELM, said: “We are sad to part company with the paper, having seen it grow from launch to 24 pages, and we thank advertisers and readers for their support but we are also looking forward to seeing the new publishers’ plans put into action and the paper grow further.” We have written to all our subscribers – but if you subscribe and have not received a notice from us please contact our office on 0800 91 77 56 (free from a French landline.) ELM continues to be the publisher of The Connexion, France’s English-language newspaper. It also publishes more than 15 helpguides on the different practical issues of life in France. Topics include income tax, education, healthcare and inheritance law. For more details see

Insurance help for 2011 flood FLOODING in the Hérault in November 2011 has finally been recognised as a natural disaster by the French government - opening up the possibility for homeowners to claim back the damages from their insurer.

Hollande orders two local wines

April launch for cheap TGV A NEW low-cost TGV service from Montpellier to Paris will launch next April under the name Ouigo. The budget route aims to take out some of the frills of high-speed train travel, with tougher limits on luggage. The train will arrive at Marne la Vallée, a Paris suburb from which a connecting RER train is needed to reach the centre. There will be 20% more seats on board and no first class or buffet car. Tickets will start at e25 one way.

Montpellier’s low-cost taxi service Easy Take has folded. The concept, founded in Avignon and extended to Montpellier and Nîmes last year, offered a flat-fee service starting from e8 for a journey of up to 7km. However, Easy Take was roundly condemned by taxi drivers operating in the south of France, who felt that the service, based on a fee rather than a meter, was unfair competition. Contacted by Languedoc Pages, taxi driver and president of the Fédération des Exploitants Taxi de l’Hérault (FETH) André Garcia said: “They were stealing our clientele. Every profession has its rules and regulations which have to be

André Garcia Hérault taxi federation

A MAN aged 26 has been seriously injured in a head-on crash with a lorry. The crash took place between Villedaigne and Lézignan-Corbières in the Aude, when the Renault Megan in which he was front passenger crossed rapidly to the other side of the road. The lorry was travelling at 70kph at the moment of impact. Three other people in the car were injured and were taken to hospital. Police have opened an investigation and will be examining a possible technical failure.

School bus driver drink tests passed POLICE at Grazailles have been carrying out surprise breath tests on school bus drivers. Sixteen drivers were tested and all were negative. The buses were all also found to have obligatory seat belts. Easy Take tried to take on the existing Montpellier taxi monopoly with lower fares

They were stealing our clientele. Every profession has its rules and regulations which have to be respected

Head-on collision injures four

respected, and we simply want those rules to apply to everyone who carries out the same job. “As taxi drivers, we have to have a vehicle with a meter, driven by someone who holds a three-month training course diploma. These rules help ensure the quality of the service we provide, which is of course a benefit to the customer.” Easy Take was operated in Montpellier by David & Co, a company headed up by David Dos Santos.

He said: “Maybe we started out too big, with 20 vehicles and 24 staff. We based our operation on a market study which turned out to be inaccurate. “We’ve had to lay off all the staff working for us, which is heart-breaking, in the current climate. The drivers supported us right to the very end. Everyone has been paid.” Mr Dos Santos has been quoted in local press saying that he intends to launch a new project with another partner in the near future.

Two years’ prison for beauty thief A BEAUTY products and car thief has been sentenced to two years in prison. John Gibard, a repeat offender, pleaded guilty at a court in Carcassonne. He was arrested after his stolen car crashed. Police found a haul of stolen beauty products at his home from three robberies of cosmetic shops.

Montpellier cocktail king is best bar none

Sète-born Julien Escot is this year's winner of the Havana Club Grand Prix International, a bartending contest that draws entries from around the world. Thirty-seven-year-old Julien is the owner of Montpellier cocktail bar Papa Doblé. He grew up in Balaruc and spent 15 years perfecting his bartending skills working in luxury hotels and bars around the world, in Courchevel, Sydney, Toronto and SaintBarth, before opening Papa Doblé in July 2009. Founded in 1996, the Havana Club International Cocktail Grand Prix is held every two years in Havana, Cuba, the cocktail capital of the world. This year's event saw 40 finalists from 48 countries battle for the prize. After pre-qualifying in the French national competition in Paris, Julien joined other finalists in Havana for the final stage of the event where they were judged on their knowledge, mixing techniques, the quality of their drinks and their overall image. He said: “Competing in Havana was stressful, but I knew I was amongst the 10

Photo: Patrick Aufauvre

TWO Languedoc wines have been added to the wine list at the Elysée palace and could soon be served at official functions with President Hollande. Some 120 boxes of SaintBauzille de la Sylve white (2011) and red (2009) were shipped to Paris last month from the Domaine CalageResseguier. It is the first Languedoc wine to make it into the presidential collection. The white is a Rosemarinus, made of Roussanne, Grenache and Viognier varieties; the red a Fergauremax, which is 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache.

Low-cost taxi firm fails in bid to stop monopoly

News 3

Julien Escot beat cocktail-makers from all over the world to win the Havana Grand Prix finalists who had a good chance of winning. “We had to prepare a number of cocktails, using Havana rum as the base. I made a variation on the classic Daïquiri, which I called a West Indies, and an original creation of my own, called the Caribbean Julep.” Languedoc cocktail fans can taste these and other ultra-stylish drinks at the Papa Doblé bar (included in the 2011 Drinks International World's 50 Best Bars ranking) on Rue du Petit-Scel, in the heart of Montpellier’s historic Ecusson district.

Worried about the Euro debt crisis? Talk to Siddalls about how to structure your finances in these difficult times Simon Eveleigh, Regional Manager Tel: 04 42 12 42 75 Email: French finance in plain English Siddalls France SASU, Parc Innolin, 3 Rue du Golf, 33700 Mérignac - RCS BX 498 800 465. C.I.F. No E001669 auprès de ANACOFI-CIF association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers et Courtier d’Assurances, Catégorie B - ORIAS 07 027 475. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier et L 512-6 et 512-7 du Code des Assurances.

4 News

Languedoc Pages

THE first average speed camera in Languedoc-Roussillon, measuring a car’s speed over a longer stretch than a typical radar, has been installed on the D15 between Beaucaire and Fourques in the Gard. It was picked because it is an accident hotspot and the speed limit is 90kph. The road is used by almost 7,000 vehicles a day.

LOCALS in Saint-Félix-deMontceau in the Hérault have begun a campaign to raise funds to protect the ruins of the local abbey from erosion. An association has been set up to oversee the restoration work on the crumbling build-

ing and a funding target of e600,000 has been set which will enable the group to rebuild the abbey’s roof.

Remote-controlled camera sits at the back of the room

Web wakes could help expatriate mourners

A9 toll booth fraud uncovered

Protest over power cuts HOMEOWNERS demonstrated outside the regional headquarters of electricity distribution body ERDF to protest against sudden disconnections for late payers. The association Droit à l’Energie says eight million people in France struggle to pay their energy bills and authorities should be more sympathetic before taking away a family’s access to electricity this winter.

From page 1 Mourners not wishing to be “in shot” can sit in designated spaces where they will not be visible. While revolutionary for Languedoc, this service is already available in the United States and Canada, where distance can pose problems for scattered families. Its relevance for expat Brits in France is evident. Yves Guizard of Canet crematorium said: “We had been wanting to offer a service like this, and we had tried setting up a camera, without success. In our job, you can’t make mistakes. The challenges presented by legislation regarding what can be filmed and broadcast and IT issues meant that we gave up, until we met Afterweb Venture.” In Canet and Trèbes (which are operated by the same company), families pay e75 to have a funeral service filmed and put online, and for another e30 they can purchase a DVD. The cost is levied by the Paris service provider and the crematorium in question does not take a commission. 

Hérault thermal spa to be biggest in France Work has started on the new thermal bath complex at Balaruc-les-Bains (Hérault), which when completed in 2014 will be the largest and most modern site of its kind in France. The two existing sites are being remodelled at a cost of e69million; two years hence, an estimated 4,200 people will be able to be treated on a daily The complex at Balaruc-les-Bains is due for 2014 basis. The existing thermal bath complex built in several treatment centre currently welcomes around 44,000 vis- sections that can be opened according to visitor numbers and which will itors per season and employs 400 staff mean that staff can be employed all over a nine-month period. year-round instead of just nine When the works are finished, months out of 12. Balaruc will boast a state-of-the-art

Public get taste for Languedoc white Photo: Thermes de Balaruc-les-Bains

The boss of a road haulage company has been found guilty of cheating on motorway tolls 144 times. A court heard evidence of a truck drivers’ network that cheats on tolls by swapping tickets or buying and selling stolen bank cards. The 43-year-old entrepreneur was given a three-month suspended sentence after admitting 144 cases of fraud on motorways between Marseille and the Spanish border on the A9 and A61 motorways. He needed to save on “very high tolls”, he claimed, to pay social security contributions and keep his business afloat.

Photo: Eric Fauveau

Appeal launched to help save abbey

Photo: Zewan/Wikimedia

Average speed cameras arrive

December 2012

THE Languedoc is seeing an increase in demand from UK buyers for its “fashionable” white wines – despite until now being better known for its reds. On a recent study tour to the region, organised by industry body the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc, leading UK buyers hailed local whites as consumer-friendly and commercially attractive propositions for their lists. Oddbins says it is seeing growing demand from UK drinkers for the region’s whites, with Picpoul de Pinet proving one of the most fashionable at the moment. Bar and restaurant operator ETM Group told trade journal Harpers it sold out of 18 bottles of Picpoul de Pinet in 24 hours when it started offering it by the glass. Georges Ortola, owner of Château Notre Dame du Quatourze said Languedoc whites offer “the best quality in France” and cost considerably less than comparable wines from Bordeaux or Burgundy. Christine Molines, export manager at the CIVL, said producers had invested in temperature controls in their wineries, making it “easier to produce crisp, fresh whites” that are attractive to UK drinkers. Twenty years ago, 95% of production in the Languedoc was red wines – a figure that has now fallen to 80%.

Visitors marvel at New film takes a Frêche look tree of pyjamas

Did you know?

TWO years after his death on October 24, 2010, former Languedoc-Roussillon president Georges Frêche has been commemorated with a new television documentary film. Le Président was made in 2010 by French director Yves Jeuland and follows Georges Frêche in the run-up to the regional elections in the same year, when he triumphed. Frêche and his team of advisors were filmed for a six-month period in a variety of locations. A high-profile, controversial political figure, Frêche died of a heart attack aged 72. He served as president of the regional council of LanguedocRoussillon from 2004 until his death; prior to this he had been mayor of the Languedoc’s capital city Montpellier for 27 years. Georges Frêche leaned to the far left all his life, although for most of his political career he was officially a member of the French Socialist Party. Having

Le President followed Georges Frêche over six months in 2010 in the run-up to regional election

studied Roman Law at university, he was very taken with that epoch and as mayor undertook a series of massive civil construction projects designed to transplant a faux neo-classical heart into Montpellier - a city which is remarkable in France for having no Roman past at all. A huge, forceful character, he was prone to making rash statements, several of which saw him condemned for being racist. He complained for example about there being too many players in the French football team with North African backgrounds. He did however have a vision of Montpellier as a modern Arcadia, a paradise fit for the people. In a period of around 30 years, Georges Frêche steered Montpellier from being a sleepy backwater to being the fastest growing city in France, voted as being the one most French people would love to live in. The film Le Président is available to view via

The tree was set up in the grounds of the Domaine d’O Money may not grow on trees, but Montpellier residents were surprised to see a pyjama tree blooming in the grounds of the town’s Domaine d’O arts centre recently. The tree was part of a project master-minded by Jean Lambert-Wild, artist and director of the Centre Dramatique de Caen in northern France. Invited to Montpellier to

present a week-long series of events that included a conference, a show, performances and an exhibition, Jean LambertWild was given carte blanche. The pyjama tree was, according to the artist, part of his strategy “to encourage the art of conversation.” Domaine d'O visitors dressed in their nightwear were allowed free admission during the week’s performances.

Photo: X.DR

at the life of a local legend

Languedoc Pages

News 5

December 2012


Locals turn out to cheer racers in the 2008 Tour de France as it passed through Estagel in the Pyrénées-Orientales. Below: Gerry Patterson Photo:

Next year will see the 100th edition of the Tour de France, and to the delight of Languedoc cycling fans, the race will be coming through the region in early July. The city of Montpellier will welcome the peloton on Thursday July 4 when the riders will cycle from Aix-en-Provence, setting off the next day from Montpellier en route to Albi. The 2013 Tour will start on Saturday June 29 in Corsica, where the first three stages will be hosted, before coming to mainland France and finishing in Paris on the Champs Elysées on Sunday July 21. It will be the first Tour to be completed uniquely on French soil for 10 years. Canadian Gerry Patterson lives in Nîmes and runs Cycling Languedoc, a company offering tours and guided rides. He said: “Next year’s Tour de France will be very exciting, with a couple of epic mountain stages (one right on Languedoc’s doorstep), but the best part for me is that it will be running by my town in eastern Languedoc. “As an avid cyclist I make it a priority to start planning my Tour de France calendar months in advance. I always marvel at the awesome number of people who line the roads of the country for hours on end, just to catch a glimpse of their favourite riders. “Watching the Tour live really is a unique experience that anyone with even a fleeting interest in cycling should try at least once. “As someone who runs cycle tours in Languedoc, it’s obvious to me the impact the Tour has on business when it rolls through the

Watching the Tour live really is a unique experience. It’s obvious the impact the Tour has on business when it rolls through the region Gerry Patterson

region – I get last-minute requests for guided rides and I know that the cycling-friendly B&Bs get booked out way in advance of the Tour coming through.” Securing Montpellier’s role as both an arrival and departure stage is a feather in the cap for the city’s tourist office. Hélène Mandroux, mayor of Montpellier, said: “I’m delighted that Montpellier has been chosen as a ville étape (stage) for the 100th Tour de France. As well as being an occasion for Montpellier residents to celebrate, this event is an excellent tool for promoting tourism in the Montpellier area, and undoubtedly it will bring many visitors to our city, both from France and overseas, as it did in 2011. “The media coverage that will be given to Montpellier is also valuable as it gives the city visibility even further afield. The fact that Montpellier will be the end of the sixth stage and the start of the seventh means that business will most certainly be boosted, above and beyond what could be expected by the Tour simply passing through, and we are currently examining the possibility of hosting part of the Tour de France village in front of the town hall.” A spokesperson for Montpellier tourist board added: “By hosting the 2013 Tour de France, Montpellier and the surrounding area will be put in the spotlight. “The arrival of the peloton on July 4 and its departure the next day means that Montpellier will be mentioned in the media on many occasions. International TV coverage will ensure that the city is seen from afar by hundreds of thousands of viewers worldwide and, as in previous years, TV crews will no doubt film tourist-style reports from cities hosting the

UK Landlines*


FR Landlines*

No Line Rental Needed Tour, to add colour to their day-to-day coverage of the race.” As one might expect, the Tour de France has a positive effect on tourist numbers. Montpellier was a stage town on July 15, 2011, and according to information supplied by the city’s tourist office, their official website registered a 71% increase in visitors for that month, compared to July 2010, with the site’s What’s On page visited by twice as many people as in the same period the previous year (of a total of 58,000 page views, 16,000 were specifically for the Tour de France). The nationality and number of overseas visitors passing through the Montpellier tourist office suggests that the Tour does indeed have pulling power. In 2011, Dutch visitor numbers were up by 72% during the month that the Tour came to town, with increased numbers of queries from Spanish, Belgian, German, Italian, English and Australian visitors also noted.

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Photo: Lufkens/Flickr

Hope for tourism boost as region takes starring role in 2013 Tour

6 National News Trial brings new hope for Parkinson’s cure RESEARCHERS may have made a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease with a gene therapy that is injected directly into the brain of sufferers. Fifteen patients (12 in France and three in the UK) received injections of a modified virus that stimulated production of dopamine, a natural substance that is known to help control movement. French team leader Professor Stéphane Palfi, a neurosurgeon at Henri-Mondor Hospital in Créteil and a researcher at CEA/ Inserm, Paris, said that early results showed that the treatment was “well tolerated” and produced “encouraging results, especially at higher doses”.

VAT rise will make life more costly in 2014 MOST everyday products and services are expected to cost a little more as of 2014 after the government unveiled plans to raise VAT. Under the plans, the basic rate of VAT will rise from 19.6% to 20%, expected to bring in about e3.3billion in extra tax a year. Tax on goods and services at the intermediary rate of 7% will rise to 10% (generating e3.8 billion), including restaurant meals and hotel or campsite stays, transport, home help, cinema, museum visits, home renovation work and non-reimbursable medicines. The lowest 5.5% rate, on essentials like food and energy, will be slightly dropped, to 5% - a measure meant to help less well-off families, who spend the largest proportion of their incomes on these.

Psychiatrist faces jail for releasing killer A PSYCHIATRIST has been accused by a Marseille court of being responsible for the death of an 83-year-old man after releasing a schizophrenic patient from a secure hospital. The doctor, Danièle Canarelli, faces up to five years in prison and a e75,000 fine if found guilty of manslaughter. She had allowed her long-term patient, Joël Gaillard, to leave the Edouard-

Languedoc Pages

Metro bans ‘inclusive’ poster for its politics AN anti-Islamophobia poster campaign has been banned from Paris’s public transport system because of its political and religious connotations. The publicity arm of the bus and Metro authority RATP banned three posters (one of which is shown right) by the Collectif Contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF). The CCIF has made public a letter explaining RATP’s conclusion that the appearance of symbols like the veil, payots (side curls worn by Orthodox Jews) and crucifixes alongside the phrase “We (too) are the nation” plus the French flag was politically charged. One of the posters of the “We (too) are the nation” campaign is a reworking of the Tennis Court Oath (pictured inset right) painting by Jacques-Louis David (depicting a key meeting in the run-up to the French Revolution), redesigned to give a more diverse range of religious and ethnic identities to the figures involved. Toulouse hospital in Marseille on interim release - although his family said he risked further violence if allowed to return home. Days later, in March 2004, he attacked 83-year-old Germain Trabuc in Gap (Hautes-Alpes) with an axe, killing him.

No CFE property tax for auto-entrepreneurs AUTO-ENTREPRENEURS have been given a reprieve from paying the business tax cotisation foncière des entreprises (CFE) for 2012. The tax, which replaced taxe professionnelle is based on the value of your premises (in auto-entrepreneurs’ case this is often their home) and could be unrealistically high for many of these small businesses. Now more time has been given to analyse how they should be taxed.

Teenager’s ‘Come Back Sarkozy’ ode is hit A TEENAGER’s song pleading for Nicolas Sarkozy to return to politics in France has passed one million views on YouTube in a month. Josh Stanley, 16, from Monaco, has recorded a song begging Sarkozy to return and save France from François Hollande. The song also refers to “taxes that are sinking us” and Peugeot and Renault which have “broken”. Josh who was born in Monaco to a British father and German mother, has made previous songs from his bedroom, including one called The Good Life about his life, and won “Idées jeunes 2012” - a competition held by the Monegasque education authorities for people aged 15-25.

Young computer genius tagged for phone virus

Photo: Photopqr/Le Courrier Picard/Frédéric Douchet

December 2012

A 20-YEAR-OLD from Amiens, Picardy, who created a virus that infected at least 17,000 smartphones is to be electronically tagged for six months. Dylan Caron, who dropped out of school at 15, said he did it to prove he is “as good as people with diplomas”. He made software which is free to download to Android phones but which, unknown to users, sent premium rate texts from their phone. He then recuperated small payments from the texts. He is said to have made about e4,000, which he used to buy IT equipment and computer games. His victims are thought to have lost around €500,000. Passing judgment, the judge remarked that “for a first try at committing a crime it was a masterstroke”.

Operations postponed as surgeons strike

MANY operating theatres have been shut due to a surgeons’ strike over perceived threats to their freedom and pay. Several medical unions took part, including hospital surgeons’ union Bloc, although the three largest doctors’ unions, which recently came to an agreement over fees with the health minister, were not involved. The campaigners are opposed to the recent agreement placing new limits on doctors’ rights to charge fees higher than the basic state tariffs (called dépassements d’honoraires) – for example Bloc thinks surgeons should be able to charge more than was agreed.

Algerian remembrance date set for March 19 FRANCE has set March 19 as a day of remembrance for the victims of the Algerian war. The move ends years of disagreement over what to do about the 1954-62 war, with March 19 marking what some see as France’s defeat with the signing of the Evian accord to end the fighting. Right-wing senators voted against the move, saying the date would stir up old hatreds. Thousands of North African-born French citizens known as ‘pieds noirs’ were repatriated to France after March 19. It is thought that 80,000 Harkis, Muslim soldiers who had fought for France, were killed after the war ended.

Authorities investigate ‘big cat’ sightings AUTHORITIES are investigating a rash of big cat sightings in the south of France. A spokesman for the prefecture of the Alpes-de-Haute-

Provence said: “We are studying all hypotheses, including that of a big cat and that of a black panther.” The national office for hunting and wild animals has set up a trap near a village where the beast was spotted, but hunters have been ordered not to shoot it. Several sightings have been reported over a few months: the cat has been spotted drinking from a swimming pool, crossing a road and sleeping in a bush. Footprints of 10cm diameter have been discovered in the hills near the village of Oraison.

Long-term ill prescribed sport for treatment SPORT on prescription is being trialled in Strasbourg, where doctors are prescribing diabetics, the chronically ill and obese and those with heart problems a new diet of swimming, rowing, Nordic walking or cycling. The project, a pilot for France, is being run with the city, the Alsace health agency, the local Assurance Maladie, the prefecture and education authority. Fifty volunteer doctors will prescribe exercise for their patients under the “Sport-santé sur Ordonnance” scheme. The prescription will allow patients to visit special trainers and get a coupon for a free enrolment for an activity.

Mixed reaction for Hollande press briefing PRESIDENT Hollande’s first twoand-a-half hour speech and press conference since his election six months ago reinforced his image of a statesman but failed to address key voter concerns, critics say. During the recent conference, which was billed as an opportunity to educate the public on issues, Hollande defended his policies, including VAT rises and budget caps, in front of 400 journalists at the Elysée Palace.

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News 7

December 2012

Cowboys fight to protect heritage Voluntary work and a focus on tourism are some of the steps being taken to ensure that the Camargue way of life continues, a rancher tells SAMANTHA DAVID RANCHER Jean-Elie Agnel spends increasing amounts of time sitting in business meetings wearing a suit instead of riding round the pastures looking after his cattle. “Life in the Camargue is changing,â€? he says. “You have to keep the books straight, take care of publicity, all that kind of thing. “It’s a complicated life. Property and land in the Camargue is really expensive and it’s quite a closed world. “There’s more and more competition which pushes prices down and new regulations make life difficult. Getting insurance is expensive and difficult and the insurance companies insist on expensive security measures.â€? The Camargue, the small delta area at the mouth of the RhĂ´ne, has always been remote, and life there has always been hard. The marshy water and the isolation in the winter, the stultifying heat and the enormous mosquitoes in the summer, the shortage of grazing, the wind which sweeps across the marshes -­ it’s not a welcoming geographical environment. But among the fishing communities, the rice-growers and the salt-makers, there have always been cattle herders - the French cowboys, manadiers in their broad brimmed hats, astride their sturdy white horses. “The passion isn’t really horses,â€? says Mr Agnel. “It’s bulls. That’s what it’s all about. We venerate them, we really love them. It’s not the Spanish tradition of la mise Ă morte - we don’t kill them or hurt them, but we love to play with them.â€? Born in Le Cailar, a little village in the heart of the Camargue, he and his brother were brought up in this tradition. Their parents were amateurs, fans of everything to do with white horses and black bulls, and the two boys dreamed all their lives of having a manade of their own. They bought a ranch two years ago in the Petite Camargue (Gard 30), and run it together with Jean-Elie’s wife Maria. Very few manadiers can make a living from raising bullocks for the Course Camarguaise, and the Agnel brothers are no exception. Alongside their cattle breeding, they have 100 if you count all the calves, they also produce beef and work in tourism. “We have five gites on site, and a large meeting room which we can use for weddings, receptions, birthdays and other events. We can provide catering and entertainments like gypsy music and dancing. We also offer hacking and rides in horse drawn carts,â€? he says, “and days on the ranch.â€? He feels that tourism gives manadiers a chance to share their unique culture, pass it on and keep it alive. But he also admits that without it, many manades would find it hard to make ends meet. “Almost all of us have to do something along-

Jean-Elie Agnel leads his gardians through the streets. Many work in separate businesses to fund ranches which have turned to tourism side raising bullocks: growing cereal, producing honey or charcuterie.â€? The Course Camarguaise is the most complex and formalised of the games played locally with bullocks and draws large crowds of aficionados who get to know all the bullocks and the men who try to hook the coloured tassels off their horns. “All manadiers dream of breeding a bullock that’s intelligent enough to understand the game, lively enough to enjoy it, and has the personality to please the crowd,â€? says Jean-Elie. “A bullock which is strong and fast and good-looking too. A bull like that becomes famous and everyone wants to see him. That’s how you make your name.â€? There are also other, less formalised, games involving riding skills - snatching a proffered orange off a plate at a full gallop for example, or swapping from one horse to another at a full gallop. Plus the traditional way of herding bulls to an arena involving a group of riders galloping just ahead of a herd of bullocks. The fun is undeniable, but it is also dangerous. Every year there are injuries, and deaths are not rare. In July 2011, a 25-year-old man was killed by a bullock in Vergèze (Gard 30) when, like so many other young men, he decided to cross the barriers and run with the bulls. He was tossed into the air by a bull, fell badly and died later that day in hospital. In May this year a bullock managed to get behind a crowd barrier in Quissac (Gard 30) and injured seven people including two girls (both aged eight) and a boy aged 10. In Lunel (HĂŠrault 34) last July, six adults were wounded, one woman very seriously after a bullock panicked and ended up on the wrong side of the barriers. This is why insurance companies are

demanding higher premiums and more safety measures, but the dangers inherent in playing with bullocks do not deter the gardians - the (mostly) unpaid cowboys who work the ranches as a labour of love. The majority of them have jobs which are nothing to do with horses or bulls. They need to, because maintaining and equipping horses is expensive. But once they have finished the


Sunny Airport

day job, then it is on with the chaps, the cowboy boots and the broad brimmed hats. “Without them, running a manade would be very difficult,� admits Jean-Elie. “The majority of them aren’t paid. They do it for the love of it. They own their own horses, usually two or three of them, and they come and help just for the passion of it. It’s a passion. I can’t explain it. It just is this passion, this life.�


European routes



STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH Manade: Camargue cattle ranch Manadier/manadière: Camargue cattle rancher Gardian: Camargue cowboy or cowgirl, mounted on a white horse, usually wearing a Stetson, chaps, a brightly-coloured shirt and a leather waistcoat. Amateur: Person who loves the Camargue traditions surrounding bulls and horses. Abrivado: A pack of mounted gardians riding in a close-packed v-shape, leading bullocks to an arena at a full gallop. Bandido: The mounted

Grabbing an orange at full gallop

gardians lead the bulls back to their pasture after the Course Camarguaise. Course Camarguaise: A game played in an arena during which men (rasateurs) try to snatch a series of tassels off the horns of bullocks using only a small hook. Ferrade: Branding young horses and cattle before turning them loose in the Camargue. Trident: Long wooden pole with blunt metal points on the tip, used by gardians to herd cattle.


30 BUS Services at the Airport : Shuttle bus to BÊziers and Agde/Cap d’Agde running on each departing and arriving flight. Parking : 30 minutes free, 1 day of parking offered per week paid. Free Wifi Zone.



8 What’s On

December 2012

Photo: ©


Languedoc Pages



Until December 28 Hivernales de Montpellier – Montpellier lights up with a traditional market, local crafts, guided tour of the town with mulled wine and parades for children. It all takes place on the Place de la Comédie, the historic centre of Montpellier.






Photo: © Communication Ville d’Agde : L. Uroz


Cap d’Agde OUT AND ABOUT December 31 – It is an annual tradition at the naturist resort in Cap d’Agde to go for a dip in the sea on New Year’s Eve. Each year, hundreds of bathers flock to the beach for a daring (some might say foolhardy) last dip of the year. The temperature is often below zero, but these brave souls will plunge into the icy waters nonetheless. Meet at Le Horizon bar at 12.30.

FESTIVAL December 9 Olive Festival – A great gourmet day out against the picturesque backdrop of the Gard village of Corconne. The spotlight will be on olive growers and their olive and oil production, attended by a large number of exhibitors. There is a regional and craft market and the best regional produce: wines, pork products, honey and jams - also sculptures, pottery, books, live music and children’s events. Call 04 66 77 32 57.

Photo: © lunamarina -

December 1-9 Salon des Antiquaires – Antiques fair in Nîmes with all elements of furniture and art from the 16th to 19th centuries, including some beautiful Provençal furniture, art deco, silver and jewellery, pottery and china. Open daily 10.00-19.00. Entry e7.

Photo: ©

Photo: ©


December 23 Traditional spectacle of fireworks and lasers projected against the impressive cathedral in Mende. Starts 17.30.

Lozère Mende FAMILY

Languedoc Pages


What’s On 9

December 2012




Perpignan CIRCUS

Photo: © Art Photo Picture -

December 6-8 Ten Chi – A spectacular display of Japanese dance with beautiful choreography. Théâtre de Nîmes, 20.00. Call 04 66 36 65 00. It is also on December 9 at 15.00.


Photo: © Theatre de Nîmes



From December 5 Crèche traditionnelle de Noël – An impressive Nativity scene at Argelès-sur-Mer with beautiful figurines made from glass, porcelain, wax and wood. Open daily at the mairie, free.

December 12-16 Slava’s Snowshow – A winter wonderland at the Théâtre de l’Archipel in Perpignan featuring Russian clown and mime artist Slava Polunin and a host of characters. Impressive stunts and circus acts for all the family to enjoy.



From December 6 – The medieval city of Carcassonne offers a magical setting for visitors this Christmas, with lights everywhere and lots of street events, concerts and surprises. A big wheel and other funfair attractions will keep children amused, as will the big open-air ice rink.

December 7 Corrida du Boeuf Gelé – Saint Ambroix in the Gard hosts this annual running event for all ages and abilities. Whether it is just a few metres or the full 7.5km circuit, running, jogging or walking, all are welcome to take part on the day. Call the tourist office on 04 66 24 33 36 or see

Carcassonne OUT AND ABOUT

Saint-Ambroix SPORT

Christmas markets

December 1 – Aubais, Boisset-et-Gaujac, Canet, Canet en Roussillon, Creissan, Fournès, Garons, Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, Lagrasse, Lespignan, Lézan, Mauguio, Néffiès, Saint-Christol, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, Villedubert

9 – Alet-les-Bains, Alénya, Bagard, Bages, Bizanet, Capestang, Conques-sur-Orbiel, Durban-Corbières, Gallician, JonquièresSaint-Vincent, Lunel-Viel, Mons, Saillagouse, Saint-Chinian, Vendargues, Villelongue-de-laSalanque, Villeneuve-la-Rivière

2 – Adissan, Aiguèze, Aubais, Bezouce, Boisset-et-Gaujac, Camplong, Canet en Roussillon, Capendu, Fontcouverte, Gallician, Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, Lagrasse, Lespignan, Lunas, Nages-et-Solorgues, Néffiès, Palaja, Rochefort-du-Gard, Sabran, Saint-Jean-deMaruéjols-et-Avéjan, Saint-Marcel sur Aude, Taurinya, Tourbes, Tuchan, Villedubert, Villeneuve-Minervois, Villesequelande, Vézénobres

15 – Aigues-Vives, Alzonne, Boucoiran-etNozières, Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, Lattes, Sigean, Ventenac-en-Minervois

8 – Alénya, Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, Mons, Méjannes-le-Clap, Saillagouse, Saint-Couatd'Aude, Sérignan

16 – Alzonne, Barjac, Brugairolles, Gallician, Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, Lattes, Pomérols, Saint-Gervasy, Sainte Anastasie 22 – Aniane, Jonquières-Saint-Vincent, Sainte-Cécile-d'Andorge, Tautavel 23 – Aniane, Gallician, Jonquières-SaintVincent, Tautavel

Photo: © Mikael Damkier -

10 What’s On

Languedoc Pages

December 2012

Get Involved!

noticeboard BritsNîmes celebrates 10 years of helping expats BritsNîmes is a group which organises various social and cultural activities. The aim is to help members to get to know the area and make new friends within the expat and local communities. The group grew rapidly over a short space of time, and now has around 300 members. The association has members from a wide range of nationalites (Dutch, Danish, German and Australian for example) and, of course British, American and French, from students to retired people. Some of the French members have worked abroad and want to continue the link to the English culture. For new arrivals to the region, BritsNîmes is a great starting point. People can join when they arrive in the area, meeting people who may

have already experienced certain difficulties or situations. There is a simple rule for joining: if you speak and understand English well enough then you can join in with the fun. People can go to a few events before joining. Robin Boxall founded the group 10 years ago. It has six or seven regular meetings during the months of September to June. They take place in Uzès, Nîmes and other parts of the Gard department. Regular events include activities such as walking, handicrafts, coffee mornings; restaurant and pub nights. The group also organises a Christmas lunch. The annual cost for a single member is e16.50 and for a family e23. You can find out more at or call 06 84 98 48 97.

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Languedoc Pages

What’s On 11

December 2012

What’s On in the capital

Photo: dalbera/Flickr

Two wine rendezvous this month

Walk with dinosaurs FAMILY

December 19-23 – After touring more than 200 cities worldwide and being seen by seven million spectators, the extraordinary Walking With Dinosaurs spectacle is back in Paris at Bercy. Worldrenowned designers have worked with scientists to create 20 life-sized dinosaurs including the terrible Tyrannosaurus Rex. This is a stunning family show with great special effects. Opening times vary according to day. Entry from e30 to e60. See



December 3 – French singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sébastien Tellier plays one night at the Casino de Paris (which is a concert venue, not a casino) from 19.30. Tickets range from e55 to e199 from the usual outlets. 16 rue Clichy, 9e. Photo: Sweetsofa/Flickr

Festive fun in the city of light


Show has all things nautical EXHIBITION

Star Wars toy display EXHIBITION nation year after year. This year Dior will take pride of place at Printemps while Galeries Lafayette is joined by Louis Vuitton to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its giant dome. Hundreds of streets will have special illuminations – but for the best photo head to the foot of the Champs-Elysées and take a snap of the beautiful avenue bathed in light with the Arc de Triomphe at the top. Christmas markets abound – two of the biggest are at the ChampsElysées and La Défense, selling

Christmas treats, vin chaud, decorations, gifts and warm food. At La Défense, you will find no less than 350 chalets offering a multitude of gifts, handcrafted objects, gourmet food and plenty of decorative ideas. Santa will be there every day for a photo with the children. Open daily 10.00-18.00. Then head over to the square at the front of the Hôtel de Ville and get your skates on. Rentals cost e5 – and the 1,300m2 open-air rink is open daily until 22.00 from December 18 until March.

Paris stage for Cirque du Soleil Photo: Bytemarks/Flickr

December 8-16 – Porte de Versailles transforms into a nautical dream for this major boat show that draws more than 250,000 visitors annually with exhibits, demonstrations and events. The show, called Nautic, aims to appeal to as wide an audience as possible with something for every age and every taste. Some 30 different sectors will be represented including sailing and watersports activities, major races and events, river tourism and sailing equipment. Almost 800 boats will be on show including 200 brand new designs. Open daily 10.00-19.00. Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles. Entry e15. For full details, see

All month – December is a great time to visit Paris, as the city is bathed in sparkling Christmas lights, elaborate window displays, markets and outdoor ice skating rinks. Starting with the window displays, the place to head to is Boulevard Haussmann where Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette do battle each year for the most spectacular show. Top designers and stylists are invited to participate in the creation of the set design and the figures, which outdo each other in magic and imagi-

Photo: bibi95/Flickr

Sébastien Tellier

Photo: simononly/Flickr

December 8-9 – Twenty of the finest organic winemakers in France will be showing off their work for the third year running at Vignerons en Seine. It takes place on the Melody Blues barge, moored next to the Pont de Tolbiac near Bercy Village. Entry is e6 including a souvenir glass. Open 10.0019.00. Meanwhile, from December 14-16, the Maxim’s barge at the Pont de Suffren, near the Eiffel Tower, puts on its annual Salon des Grands Vignobles showcasing fine wines and foie gras. Booking is essential. See


Until December 2 – The Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring show, Alegria, spends a week in Paris this winter. The show’s themes are many: power and the handing down of power over time, the evolution from ancient monarchies to modern democracies and old age and youth. Kings’ fools, minstrels, beggars, old aristocrats and children make up the cast along with clowns. Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy, 20.00 plus some matinée performances. Tickets from e36 to e78.

Until March – The Star Wars Toys exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs on the Rue de Rivoli retraces 35 years of the history of the toys and products derived from George Lucas’s popular space series. Everything from games and toys to comics and other unusual products is on display – 400 items in total. Open Tuesday-Sunday 11.00-18.00, late night on Thursday. Entry e9.50.

Top French horse show SPORT

December 1-9 – The Salon du Cheval is the annual rendezvous for horse fans and features prestigious international equestrian competitions, including the Gucci Paris Masters. It is the biggest horse show in France, with more than 400 exhibitors. Parc des Expositions, Paris Nord Villepinte, on the RER B towards Charles de Gaulle airport. Daily from 10.00. Tickets from e14 to e18.

12 Practical

Languedoc Pages

From the very start, buying a home in France is a different process to that of the UK. It is highly regulated to offer security for buyer and seller, writes OLIVER ROWLAND BUYING a home in France is a two-stage process, with the first legally-binding step usually being a compromis de vente. When an offer has been accepted (usually verbally) both parties will typically arrange to meet with a notaire to sign this important presale contract. The compromis is similar in most respects to the final acte de vente (sale contract) signed about three months afterwards. The main difference is that the compromis has a sevenday “cooling off ” period, when the buyer can pull out without explanation. (In the case of commercial properties this is not always

automatically the case). If the buyer pulls out after this, the deposit, paid at the signing stage, is lost, compensating the seller. Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov set the bar high for this in 2010, when he lost his e39 million deposit after pulling out of buying a Côte d’Azur villa for e390 million. It is theoretically possible for individuals to complete the compromis stage between themselves without a notaire (by using a model contract), but “it’s the best way to get things wrong,” said an English-speaking notaire from Rennes, Olivier Jammet.

Photo: © Jörg Hackemann -

Sign first, ask questions later when buying a French home

In any case, the acte de vente must involve a notaire and using one from the start will cost you no more, he said. Typically the content of the compromis goes into the final act, so it is not to be taken lightly. It is also legal for the compromis stage to be organised by the estate agent selling the home, though if this is proposed you are not obliged to accept. Typically the parties will meet at the seller’s notaires. A notaire is a state official and is meant to be impartial, however buyers also have the right to involve a notaire of their own choice, if they wish to have the extra reassurance of a lawyer who is unambiguously on “their” side and can double check the compromis to make sure it contains nothing prejudicial to them and contains all the clauses that may benefit them. Where two notaires are involved there are arrangements to share fees and it is at no extra cost to the buyer.

What is the compromis? It is a multi-page contract naming the location and nature of the property and the identities of buyer and seller and noting that they agree respectively to buy from and sell to each other. It includes all the conditions of the sale including any clauses suspensives, which cancel the sale if not fulfilled, and it names a date by which the signature of the acte de vente must take place (though this can be altered later if necessary, on agreement between the parties). This date is the one when the parties could legally take action to force completion. The contract should take into account all relevant factors, like the marital situation of the parties (and type of marriage contract), how the purchase will be financed, if the home is currently rented to tenants etc. (Note that there is also a version called the promesse de vente, used in the Paris area, which involves some legal differences, notably that


No Tooways about it - this is fast broadband Telecommunications expert John Sidwell draws on his years of experience in the industry to deliver the most efficient services to customers across France JOHN Sidwell’s long-established company Big Dish Satellite has been in business for more than twenty years, with over half of that time spent in France. Originally working in north Wales, John moved to the Limousin in 1996, and since then has supplied the Dordogne, and the rest of the country, with his services and expertise in satellite television and broadband. “When I was in Wales I specialised in French television,” said John. “So making the move was fairly easy.” Big Dish Satellite is the longest established business of its kind in France and, thanks to a thriving mail order service and online shop, can

boast thousands of happy customers from every department in the country. Some years ago, John introduced factsheets, ‘How To’ guides and DIY products to his website, demystifying the more technical aspects of satellite television. John began working in satellite broadband more than four years ago. When the new generation Tooway service started in June last year, he immediately got involved with a UK based provider, Tooway Direct. Tooway is a fast and reliable satellite broadband service that is available throughout Europe. Big Dish Satellite has all the

Tooway equipment in stock at its offices in the Limousin, so delivery is very quick. “I have the system here myself,” said John, “so many clients come along for a demonstration and take a kit home with them.” Tooway is designed as a DIY system, which fits in perfectly with John's philosophy of encouraging enthusiastic handymen – although he does offer an installation service if needed. “All you need is a drill, a spanner and the ability to follow instructions in English,” said John. “I’m always at the end of a phone to sort out any problems.” “When a customer rings up, I tell them about the service, direct them to the website - if they are able to access it - and send out the parts

John Sidwell works with broadband provider Tooway Direct to supply a fast and reliable internet connection

immediately. My record from enquiry to installation is two days.” Tooway broadband can be installed in any home in France, and offers affordable rates and packages to all users - from those who check their email once a day, to internet junkies

and business users. For more information on Tooway visit the Big Dish Satellite website. 05 55 78 72 98

Practical 13

December 2012 understood all important elements of the compromis, though he or she does not have to go through it line by line. Where he or she is English-speaking – as many French notaires are – the notaire may provide English explanations. If so, it will be noted in the acte de vente that this was done. Otherwise a sworn translator may attend to translate the notaire’s words. The notaire must summarise the content of the document and answer all of the buyer’s questions. The buyer will have received a draft copy of the proposed compromis before the meeting so as to consider questions or changes. Mr Jammet said that, as these are long documents, it is rarely practical for all of it to be translated, though the buyer could have this done at their own expense if they wished. However he added that the notaire should make themselves available to answer questions “before, during and after” the meeting.

Withdrawal by the buyer Only the buyer has a legal right to withdraw and this runs for seven days starting from the day after he or she has these are long documents, received a signed copy of the compromis. If it is rarely practical for all of it attending the office to The diagnostics The seller must sign this will be the day to be translated, however the inform the buyer after the meeting. If the of the condition of process is done by post, notaire should be available to the home by prothe buyer will sign and viding legallysend back a copy, then answer questions required diagnoswait for it to be returned tics. These are certo them, at which point tificates drawn up the retraction period after checks by a professional diagnostiqueur. runs from the day it is presented at their home This is to help the buyer in their decision on (eg. by international recommended post). whether to go through with the sale and in The seven days are calendar days and expire assessing if the home is worth the asking price. at midnight on the last day, but if the last one These include: falls on a Sunday or bank holiday then the n Natural and technological risks – is the limit is prolonged for an extra day. property in a zone at risk of earthquakes or The decision to retract is by recommended flooding etc? post with reception slip and the buyer is in time if they send it back on the seventh day. n Energy performance – this includes the Mr Jammet said there is sometimes a clause award of a letter from A (good) to G (bad) in the compromis saying the buyer will cover indicating the property's energy-efficiency. the notaire’s fees of around e200 in this case. n Floor space in square metres (called the However where this is not included the notaire Loi Carrez diagnostic) – usually only for flats. accepts not to receive payment if the sale does n Infestation by termites – required in not go ahead. risk zones.

where the buyer pulls out after the cooling-off period they only lose their deposit, whereas with the compromis the seller could also take legal action to force the buyer to complete). What if the buyer is abroad and cannot attend to sign? There are several options for the compromis stage. Mr Jammet said: “For the compromis it is easy to organise a proxy signature, for example

by a clerk of the notaire; or the compromis can be sent by post to Britain and returned by post.” However he added that given the importance of the matter it is always best for all parties to be present in person if possible. For the acte, however, both parties usually attend, although it is possible, but complicated to make other arrangements at this stage. What if the buyer speaks little French? The notaire must make sure the buyer has

Buying a home in France - the helpguide The Connexion has a helpguide written in partnership with the Conseils des notaires de France - the publishing arm of France's national notaires group. You can order a printed copy from our website for e9.50 Visit or call 0800 91 77 56 if you have any problems and we will send you a printed version

The dépôt de garantie A deposit will be agreed between the parties and mentioned in the draft compromis, which should be handed over by cheque on the day of signing it. This is usually 10% in Paris but often 5% in other parts of France, though legallyspeaking none is obligatory (unless the notaire negotiated the sale of the home). The buyer should make sure their bank account contains sufficient funds as the notaire is entitled to bank it immediately. If they withdraw, it should be refunded within 21 days. Photo: pandore -

Clauses suspensives A variety of clauses may be inserted, meaning that the contract ends if they are not fulfilled. A common one is the requirement that the buyer should have a formal offer of a loan from a bank by a certain date. Mr Jammet said it would also be possible to insert one saying “on condition I sell my home in the UK”, however he said this would only apply if a buyer had already been found (but later dropped out), not if the home was merely on the market. As

n Lead – concerns properties built before 1949. Notably examines if there is any lead paint in a degraded state (eg. with flakes coming off). n Gas/electricity – checking the safety of installations: for homes 15 years old or more. n Asbestos – check on its presence and condition in homes built before July 1, 1997. For the more technical ones the seller may wish to seek expert advice as to the seriousness and potential cost of rectifying any problems. Notaires will also be aware of any local problems, Mr Jammet said. “For example in Brittany there are often problems with fungus – there is no obligatory check, so we will recommend the buyer has one done. In Paris the risk is quarrying – holes under the building... so we would run checks.”

14 Leisure Time

Languedoc Pages

December 2012

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What’s in a word?



2. Magasin specialising in stationery (9) 8. Teatime equivalent of cafetière (7) 9. Toile de tissu for jeans manufacture, whose name derives from the capital of the Gard department (5) 10. Crainte or inquiétude (4) 11. Formerly part of a franc, now of a euro (7) 13. Purchases in a bazar, hypermarché etc (6) 15. Heraldic and precious metal – or cash (6) 18. Lemon _______ or verveine, whose leaves are often used for a refreshing tisane (7) 20. Sweet food made by les abeilles (4) 23. Stew of beef braised in wine, garlic, vegetables and herbes de Provence (5) 24. Soft fruits rouges produced by a plant of the rose family (7) 25. Eleventh month of the Republican Calendar (9)

1. Mediterranean port and resort known as the Venice of Languedoc (4) 2. In its masculine form it is used for heating, in its feminine for frying (5) 3. Classic Godard film, _______ le Fou, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo (7) 4. In music, un intervalle de trois degrés (6) 5. Paris-born sculptor best known for works such as Le Penseur and L’homme qui marche (5) 6. Synonym for neigeux (7) 7. Léon ________, a founder of the Third Republic, who escaped from the siege of Paris in a balloon and briefly became prime minister (8) 12. Alcoholic drink from the Basse-Normandie region (8) 14. River which rises in the Cévennes and flows into the Mediterranean near Agde (7) 16. Arthur _______, restless young poet whom Victor Hugo once described as ‘an infant Shakespeare’ (7) 17. “Une femme sans ______ est une femme sans avenir”; Coco Chanel (6) 19. Young mind attending an établissement scolaire (5) 21. Action d’un oiseau qui s’envole (5) 22. Describes someone with big bones (4)

The France quiz

by Paul Masters

bougie banned from manufacturing in a number of cities and towns throughout Europe. Bougie became synonymous with candle and eventually replaced the Latin word in France, it also took on a second meaning in modern French. Les bougies can also be found under the bonnet of your car - they are your spark plugs. (Belgian Jean J. Lenoir is credited with their invention). The rise of the oil industry, and the subsequent use of paraffin-wax candles led to the disappearance of beeswax, and thankfully tallow, during the last century. However, the invention of the internal combustion engine has given a new lease of life to the town's name. So as you decorate your home over Christmas you can spare a thought for the north African town that lent its name to your bougie wonderland.


 1 ROGUE trader Jérôme Kerviel lost his appeal against a prison sentence. How much of Société Générale's money did he lose (and now has to pay back)?  2 How many Bond girls have been French (including Bond-girl and villain Sophie Marceau, pictured above)?  3 WHICH artist is responsible for the biggest-selling album in France?  4 WHO wrote the Hunchback of NotreDame (French title Notre-Dame de Paris)?

 5 THE first Frenchman in space (also the first Western European) Jean-Loup Chrétien escaped the atmosphere in which year?  6 "WE say time is a great teacher, unfortunately it kills all its students." Which French classical composer coined this gem?  7 THE Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the USA - who raised the funds for the pedestal on which she stands? (Clue: He named journalism's most famous prizes).  8 How many former French presidents are still alive?


CROSSWORD ANSWERS. Across 2 papeterie; 8 théière; 9 denim; 10 peur; 11 centime; 13 achats; 15 argent; 18 verbena; 20 miel; 23 daube; 24 fraises; 25 Thermidor Down 1 Sète; 2 poêle; 3 Pierrot; 4 tierce; 5 Rodin; 6 enneigé; 7 Gambetta; 12 Calvados; 14 Hérault; 16 Rimbaud; 17 parfum; 19 élève; 21 essor; 22 ossu FRANCE QUIZ ANSWERS: 1. e4.9billion; 2. Nine; 3. Celine Dion (D'eux 1995). Victor Hugo; 5. 1982; 6. Berlioz; 7. Joseph Pulitzer 8.Three (Chirac, Sarkozy and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing)



Photo: Andrey Lunin/Wikimedia

BATHED in sunshine on the south coast of the Mediterranean Sea lies a city which has the distinction of bearing three names. The official name on Algerian maps is Béjaia, but many of the inhabitants speak the Berber language, and use the name Bgayet. For Europeans, however, the city is known as Bougie. The city's current fortunes are based on an oil pipeline running from Hassi Messaoud, deep in the Sahara desert, but the name of Bougie was widespread centuries before the petrochemical industry began. Long before oil, gas and electricity were used to power our homes, Bougie exported beeswax to Europe. Much of it was exported to Genoa, where it was used in the manufacture of fine candles for the wealthy and the Church. The poor had to make do with tallow candles, made from the fat of cows or sheep, and which had the distinct disadvantage of giving off a really awful smell. So awful in fact, that the chandlers or candlemakers were

by John Foley

Languedoc Pages

Food and Pets 15

December 2012

Oysters: the real raw deal

Marinated oysters with Sauterne wine sauce ingredients

 1 kg rock oysters, opened and kept chilled  150 ml Sauterne wine  4 large egg whites  25 ml white wine vinegar  a pinch of salt For the wine sauce:  250 ml light fish stock  150 ml Sauterne wine  150 ml double cream  salt and pepper For the garnish:  1 tbsp butter  1 small plum tomato, quartered  1 button mushroom, quartered  sprigs of chervil  large handful of tarragon sprig tops

Photo: Rivière/Photocuisine


To prepare oysters: n Rinse and brush them n Put a tea towel over your left hand (if you are righthanded), and hold an oyster in it with the pointed end towards you and the flatter side on top. n Insert the knife three-

quarters along the right-hand side (starting from the point) then cut towards yourself with a side-to-side motion to cut the muscle that holds the shell halves together, then twist it to open the shell. For the best flavour do not eat oysters straight away: tip out the water inside – la première eau – and leave the oysters to one side for about a quarter to half an hour before eating them. Most oysters in France are huîtres creuses – rounded oysters – as opposed to the other variety (plates – flat). The Atlantic coast in the Marennes/Oléron area is especially famous for them. They come in different size calibres, from 5 (the smallest) to 0, with descriptions indicating how full and fleshy they are (spéciales are the meatiest), or whether they were finished off in special maturing beds – de claires. Oysters should be kept in the bottom of the fridge, for no more than a week.

Serves: 4 Preparation: 15-20 minutes Cooking: 25-30 minutes

English-speakers may be unsure about the Christmas delicacy of oysters but, as France is Europe’s top producer, it is time to lose the inhibitions and get cracking the traditional way to eat oysters during Christmas and New Year in France is raw. You need minimal equipment to prepare them, though it is worth investing in an oyster knife to avoid struggling or slipping while opening them. These have a rounded handle for a firm grip and a small, firm, triangular blade. Otherwise, use any small, sharp, knife, holding it so as to work just with the tip. You need a tray to put the oysters on and simple accompaniments such as lemon juice or wine vinegar with chopped shallots, plus crusty bread and butter – then you are ready to go.


 Combine the oysters and 150 ml of the Sauterne wine in a bowl, cover and chill until ready to serve.  Prepare the sauce by reducing the fish stock by half in a saucepan before adding 150 ml of Sauterne wine.  Reduce again by half, then add the double cream.  Bring to the boil and reduce over a moderate heat until you have a thick coating consistency.  Adjust the seasoning to taste and keep warm to one side.  Fill a large saucepan with boiling

water and stir through the white wine vinegar.  Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl until they form stiff peaks.  Form large quenelles of egg white and poach them, turning occasionally until firm yet springy to the touch.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.  Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the plum tomato and mushroom

quarters briefly, seasoning as you do.  Arrange the oysters in the centre of serving plates and carefully pour the sauce around them.  Sit a quenelle of poached egg white on top and top with a quartered plum tomato and piece of mushroom.  Arrange the tarragon tops around the sauce at intervals before garnishing the top of the poached egg white with a sprig of chervil.  Serve immediately.

Good will to all men, and their friends Pets prefer a quiet time during the festive season which brings extra dangers around the house says SAMANTHA DAVID Everyone loves Christmas but it is a time of year which poses special dangers to pets. Obviously animals should never be given as presents. Even if the household is ready and willing to take on a pet, wrapping an animal up in a box is cruel. Introducing an animal (especially a baby one) into a household full of flashing decorations, noisy crackers, party-poppers, tipsy visitors and over-excited children is not a good start. If you have decided to give a pet (and a responsible adult has agreed to spend the necessary number of years looking after it) just provide a photograph of them on Christmas Day, and collect it from its former home in the New Year when life has calmed down and there is time for house-training etc. For furry friends already resident

Pet Care in your house, try to see Christmas through their eyes. They still need regular food, clean water and (for dogs) walks. So if you are staying out late, or overnight, or all day long, plan ahead. If necessary search online for garde d'animaux and find a professional cat feeder/dog walker for around 10-15 euros per visit. (If you don't know them, ask for a photocopy of their carte d'identité before handing over the house keys.) Even during the season of goodwill, pets still need a quiet retreat in which to sleep, so try and provide

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quiet spaces for them. It is a rare animal which seriously wants to dress up as a fairy or pretend to be a reindeer, so try to protect them from over-excited toddlers. Teach children to leave sleeping animals alone. There are specific Christmas dangers too. Poinsettia, holly, ivy and mistletoe are all toxic, so keep them out of reach. Wire Christmas trees securely in place so that they will not fall over if your young cat climbs into them, or your dog wags overenthusiastically. Do not use glass ornaments which can fall off, smash and cut pets' feet. Ensure that tinsel is out of reach and that electric wires are taped down or run underneath carpets to stop animals chewing through them or tripping over them. Keep antifreeze locked away and clean up any spills immediately. Cats love

Photo: © B.Stefanov -

the taste of anti-freeze but even the smallest amount will kill them. If your cat walks through a small puddle of anti-freeze on the drive or in the garage and later licks its paws, it will very probably die. Christmas foods are full of ingredients which are toxic to animals. The major danger is chocolate (the darker the more dangerYou are more ous) which is poisonous to likely to enjoy these costumes both cats and dogs. So never leave boxes of chocolates where than your pets your dog can find them and never, ever allow anyone to give your animals chocolate. Unless you have a pet toothbrush (yes, they do exist) do not allow anyone to feed pets anything containing sugar. Remember that turkey bones can cause choking, and that onions, garlic and grapes are all toxic to animals. If you want to spoil your pets, it is best to buy proper pet treats rather than feed them titbits or scraps.

Tel. 06 58 01 82 76 Web. Email.

16 Directory

Languedoc Pages

December 2012

Advertise here all year from just e75HT Call free on 0800 91 77 56 or email


English-speaking firms near you For your security, we check that the French businesses in this section are officially registered with the authorities

Find registered tradespeople quickly and easily  By advertising in our directory you get the chance to run advertorials (the articles you see on these pages). We are currently offering these at a two for one price, so two x 1/4 page advertorials, maximum 400 words plus photo, costs just e200HT. A minimum two month break between publishing applies and the second advertorial is a repeat of the first. If you wish to change the second there is a e25 fee together with a e15 fee if you want us to provide a photo.

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Languedoc Pages

Directory 17

December 2012


Plumber and electrician make successful team If you are looking for quality heating, plumbing and electrician services, the joint forces of Justin Harrison and David Hodgskin could be just what you need JUSTIN Harrison is a central heating engineer and plumber and has been trading in France for eight years, in partnership with his bilingual wife Nathalie. Serving customers in and around Carcassonne, they provide a range of services, from fixing a dripping tap to installing a full central heating system. Before moving to France from the UK, Justin trained with British Gas and then became a self-employed CORGI registered engineer. As the business expanded, Justin found Justin (pictured) installs solar hot water he was being asked more and more if he cylinders, which can reduce fuel bills could recommend an electrician, so when

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he got to know local qualified electrician David Hodgskin, they embarked on what has proved to be a very successful collaboration. “Since they have joined forces business has been better than ever,” said Nathalie. The team now offer a full heating, plumbing and electrician service, and because David is also an RHS qualified landscaper - including masonry, decking and tiling work - they also take on basic renovation projects. The pair have over 20 years experience in their respective fields. And with advances in technology, both Justin and Dave have

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expanded their businesses, offering many eco-friendly electrical and heating options. “I install energy efficient underfloor heating and feel that the benefits are substantial,” said David. “Not only is it comfortable and easy to use, it is safe and economical to run compared to traditional systems. “It can cost as little as 20 cents per day and will offer you an ambience heat. It also has a great design as the heating system is unseen.” “The advancement in heating technology is exciting too,” added Justin. “I can install solar hot water and condensing boilers that reduce carbon dioxide emissions, helping the environment and reducing fuel bills. “Condensing boilers are highly efficient and have much lower fuel and running

costs than conventional models. “The possibility of getting a tax credit or reduction makes this option even more appealing; if you install two different types of eligible installation at the same time, you could benefit from a 40% rebate.” For more information on the services that Justin, Nathalie and David offer, you can visit their websites or contact them directly.

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18 DIY

Languedoc Pages

2012 Helpguide to Death in France


The Connexion has published a newly-revised 12-page guide to the formalities surrounding a death in France. Having the procedures to hand can help alleviate some of the stress at this traumatic time. The guide explains, in straightforward language, what forms and certificates are needed, how to find a funeral director and what to look for on their quote, cremation and burial in France, repatriation of a body to the UK, inheritance and bank accounts. The guide also includes a page of actual reader questions and answers.

Published October 1, 2012


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December 2012

Hedgehogs are a friend in the battle against slugs

Nature can rest, not you December is a light month in the garden. It is time to pick any remaining brassicas, including brussels sprouts in the vegetable plot, they do not keep well if you just leave them, and choose a mild day to lift your parsnips too. If you have a sheltered, sunny spot in the vegetable garden with rich, well-drained soil, you could try planting some early broad beans this month. If all goes well, you will have your first harvest as early as May. Either plant directly into the earth or germinate in the greenhouse first. You will have to watch out for frost, and keep cloches, polytunnels or fleece to hand in case temperatures plunge. Take cuttings of currant and gooseberry bushes by simply cutting off a good-looking length about 30 cm long and pushing it halfway into the ground. Check any pots that you are planning to leave outside all winter, move them into the shelter of the house and swathe them in bubble wrap against the frost. Use more bubble wrap in the greenhouse if you have one. Think about encouraging wildlife in your garden. Bird feeders and drinkers need to be placed out of feline reach and regularly replenished. (Especially on cold days when the water will freeze solid.) This will encourage birds into the garden, and apart from being lovely to watch, they can help keep pests down. Birds eat all sorts of insects and garden pests like slugs. If you really want to make a bird sanctuary, this is also a good time to position nesting boxes but again, think about scheming cats. You can either buy the boxes in DIY shops or make your own. (They make an ideal project to do with children.) To feed your birds, let some plants form seed heads, and sow some areas of the garden with indigenous plants. Hanging up a dried sunflower head will also keep birds happy through the winter. An undisturbed woodpile can provide shelter for insecteating toads or even a hedgehog. Both will happily eat lots of garden pests. If you have any piles of leaves in the garden, remember that they might also be sheltering a hedgehog. Choose a dry day to go through the garden looking for decorative thistle heads, pine cones and nicely-shaped twigs which can be spray-painted gold and red. If you do not have a holly bush, perhaps a walk through the local woods might be a good idea? Do not forget that ivy adds a good green splash to Christmas decorations. Finally do not forget to check all your gardening equipment (including electrical items), seed stocks and books. Clean the lawn mover and run an oily cloth over the blades to prevent rust. Also check over hand tools and store them clean and oiled. Go through your gardening diary and note what you might need for next season's garden projects.

Languedoc Pages

Home and Garden 19

December 2012

Gardening Find the best brocante Facts

deals - and no early starts

Sponsored by

Must Christmas always surprise? Photo: © st-fotograf -

The antiques trade is finding a new life online through sites that spot bargains on your behalf

Santa should surprise children, not homeowners GIVEN we know exactly when Christmas is going to show up, and how frequently, it is surprising how reluctant people are to make a few tiny, permanent, adjustments in their home to accommodate the annual festival. Outdoors, rather than attempting to use temporary fastenings, it is better to position proper metal loops and hooks discreetly and leave them in place all year. Indoors, careful rearranging of furniture can allow you to drill holes for decorations that can be covered over for the rest of the year. Choose a dry day to install fastenings and hooks for outdoor decorations; a hook on the front door for a wreath, wiring for Christmas lights, a base for an outside Christmas tree, for example. If you have to run power through an external door, instead of attempting to jam the cable under the door, drill a small hole through the frame, remove the plug, run the wire through the hole and then put the plug back on. (Use mastic to block any draughts.) Getting the Christmas tree to stand up can be a challenge. Even if it is cut, planting it in a bucket of tightly-packed, moist, compost or earth will stop the needles falling off. Otherwise, take a large solid board and mount two or three large shelf brackets on it. (Mismatched old ones are fine.) Then screw or wire the tree to the brackets. If your household includes children or other pets, wiring the tree in place will help it withstand climbing, claws and giddy playtime collisions. Drill discreet holes and fill them with rawl plugs at skirting board level, or behind pictures and furniture where they will not be noticed when things go back into position. Then use screw-in hoops which can either be left in place all year or unscrewed in the New Year. This works best if the tree is in a corner. Do not forget to buy a selection of plug boards, adapters and cable covers to keep pets and children safe. If you have animals which might chew cables, spray them with répulsif from pet shops. Homemade Christmas presents have a new fashionable cachet this year and anyone with DIY skills, especially carpentry, can shine. It is easy enough to make little boxes; lacquer them if your skills are up to it and the box is made of hardwood, or paint and decorate them with collage if you need to hide filler and plywood. Think carefully about what might go in the box (photos, jewellery, fishing hooks, tea bags, CDs, letters, etc) before deciding on the size. Keep children busy making pomanders to hang up near a fireplace, kitchen stove or radiator. To make one, run a piece of ribbon around an orange so it divides it into four parts. Use dressmaking pins to keep the ribbon in place, and leave the long ends to hang it up by. Then fill in the four exposed quarters of orange peel with cloves. Large wool needles are useful for making the holes for each clove. These pomanders smell marvellous and make good presents. specialises in children's furniture and restoration to order by Oliver Rowland IF YOU are looking to give your home an authentic, personalised French touch an online brocante (antiques and secondhand goods) site could be the solution. Whether you are after classic “Lotus” design cups or bowls, a Henkel “apple motif ” pitcher, a cast-iron bed or perhaps a rocking-chair, a growing selection of sites offer to take the effort out of bargain hunting. Instead of going to marchés aux puces (fleamarkets) or vide-greniers (car-boot sales) yourself, these firms do it for you and put a choice selection online. Most of them also tidy them up and make sure they are in good working order. is especially known for children’s furniture and specialises in restoring pieces for customers. Its items are not necessarily cheap but are full of character. For example, e360 for a distinctive olive-green 1950s bedroom cabinet/chest of drawers or e170 for a 1950s desk and chair set in red formica and stainless steel. Founder Lisa Guillot said she has been in business for three years. “Online selling of brocante took off about four

It's as if they can visit 10 brocante sales at once and they don't need to rush around

Online brocante founder Stéphanie Rottée

years ago. It’s linked to the fashion for vintage. "My clients like the fact that for a price not much more than those in the big furniture chains they can order very good quality, robust wooden furniture in the colours they want. "They know they’ll have something individual that they’re not going to see all over the place. People might email saying ‘I’m after a chest of drawers in red and black’ – and I send photos of furniture I’ve got in but not done up yet and I decorate it to order. I also work to match what they have at home. “I find families often want to mix old and new – they might have a cot and changing table by a well-known baby products brand – then have a retro chest of drawers.” The styles of Another site,, the 50s and specialises in items from the 1950s to 70s are the 1970s. Founder Stéphanie Rottée said: speciality of the site www. “Coming to my site means my customers madamelabroc. don’t have to get up at 7.00 to go and look at car boot sales in the rain – not com everyone likes that kind of thing or has the time. I bring together lots and lots of objects, so it’s as if they can visit 10 brocante sales at once and they don’t need to rush around." “I also have delivery solutions so they don’t need to have a car to transport their

stuff. There’s a transporter who does the whole of France and also abroad including the UK, and a little one for the Paris region.” Her items range from a pair of big “Lotus” breakfast cups at e10 to an old bathroom cabinet in off-white wood, with a decorative glass front (e110) or vintage-material cushions for e15 each. aims especially at value for money, said owner Emmanuelle Cleyn. For this reason her largest items can only be delivered in Paris and the surrounding area (for e20) as she is still looking for a good-value national transporter. They can also be collected. However postal delivery is possible for boxes up to 1.2m, she said. “My items are mostly from the 1930s to today,” she said. “I am very careful that the prices are competitive. I created my site as an alternative to Ikea and based my prices on them.” A cast-iron child’s bed - or a seat if one side is lowered - priced e120, would just fit the postal box size. Lovers of kitsch might especially like to check out where you can pick up old Eiffel Tower glass salt shakers for e30 or snow globe desk calendars from e6. Other brocante sites include:

20 Property

Languedoc Pages

December 2012

Houses for sale across France

Buying or selling a property? 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.

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.

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

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For sellers, the adverts are also displayed across a range of popular English-speaking websites and are seen by thousands of potential buyers EVERY day. Our 3+3 package costs just 200TTC and gives you three months online

Simply enter the code under each home to find out more Properties in LANGUEDOC



Ref: 5232vm

Energy rating = d & e

Energy rating = C & B

REF: 2224

Energy rating = e & f

Ref: W458

Energy rating = d & c

Energy rating = d & b

REF: E835

Energy rating = C & A

Ref: 5572vm

Malras, Aude Five bedroom house comprises living room/dining room, fully-fitted kitchen, three bathrooms, pool and garden. Energy rating = C & D

Ref: 700093



Lodève, Hérault Six bedroom house comprises living room, kitchen, bathroom, shower room, large garden and swimming pool.

w, Aude Three bedroom house comprises of open plan living, kitchen, bathroom, shower room, conservatory, terrace, garden and garage.

Lauraguel, Aude Four bedroom villa consists of two large reception rooms, kitchen, conservatory, gardens, garage and swimming pool.

Energy rating = c & d

Ref: 700724

Energy rating = c

REF: 700027




Capendu, Aude Four bedroom villa consists of living room, kitchen, bathroom, double garage, summer kitchen and swimming pool.

Lodève, Hérault Three bedroom villa comprises living room, kitchen, three bathrooms, garage, garden and heated swimming pool.

Nages-et-Solorgues, Gard Three bedroom villa consists of living room, kitchen, two bathrooms and garden.

Ref: 110154664

Energy rating = c & d

Ref: LAR-491

Energy rating = d & b

REF: 481v




Nages-et-Solorgues, Gard Five bedroom villa and apartment includes swimming pool.

Cazouls-lès-Béziers, Hérault Nine bedroom classic French Bourgeois house consists of French garden, courtyard, garage and swimming pool.

Carcassonne, Aude Four bedroom house consists of living room with kitchen, bathroom, double garage, terrace, swimming pool and garden.

REF: 475v

Energy rating = c & c

Ref: 342431473

Energy rating = D & E




Energy rating = d & c

Lodève, Hérault Three bedroom house consists of living room, kitchen/dining room, two shower rooms and detached garden.

Beaucaire, Gard Three bedroom villa set on 1,000m2 of land comprises lounge, kitchen, bathroom, office, storage room and utility room.

Capendu, Aude Four bedroom house comprises living room, dining room, kitchen, garage and garden.

Ref: 340631322




Energy rating = d & e

Cessenon-sur-Orb, Olargues Two bedroom house consists of living room, kitchen, bathroom and small roof terrace.

Uzès, Gard Two bedroom house set on 3,561m2 of land comprises living room, kitchen, bathroom, terrace and large garden.

Uzès, Gard Three bedroom house consists of living room, open kitchen, bathroom, workshop and garage.

Ref: 2231




Ref: 110154709

Energy rating = E & C

Quillan, Aude Three bedroom fully renovated house comprises lounge, fitted kitchen, shower room and store room.

Saint-Gilles, Gard Two bedroom apartment comprises living/dining room/ kitchen, bathroom and garage.

Ref: K428

Ref: G815

Quillan, Aude Three bedroom semi-detached house comprises sitting room, kitchen, shower room and workshop.



Ref: Y533


Remoulins, Gard Two bedroom town house comprises living room, open kitchen, shower room and bathroom.

Bédarieux, Hérault Two bedroom house comprising living room/dining room, kitchen, bathroom, shower room and garage.

Energy rating = e & f

Ref: 110154179

Energy rating = c

Energy rating = C

Energy rating = D & B

Energy rating = C&A

The adverts above cost from just 200TTC for three months of web advertising and three months of print advertising.

Let our distribution get you a sale. Contact our sales team on 0800 91 77 56 (freephone in France) or email

Languedoc Pages

Business and Legal 21

December 2012


annette morris has lived in Languedoc for over 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.

Answered by

Take time now to get ready for year ahead

Residency not just a question of days Photo: © pressmaster -

Four vital questions determine residency in France We own a property in France and avoid being resident by making make sure that we only spend about five months a year here. We also spend four months in the UK (in our other property) and for the rest of the year, we travel around other parts of Europe. We have been told we should be completing French income tax returns but we do not understand why as we not living in France for at least half of the year.

Planning is the key – getting ideas straightened out is easier when you have plenty time than when up against it

During the month of December many companies will take a break of some kind. Enquiries generally slow down as social events and the holiday spirit take over – but this is also a great time to take stock and analyse your business year In salaried positions it is customary to have an end of year review with your boss. If you are self-employed will you give yourself the same consideration? It is not easy to be brutally honest with one’s self, so how would you go about appraising your own performance? Do not be so hard on yourself that it might put a negative light on the whole business year, but list the items that you feel you overlooked, forgot or did not have time to achieve. Then list the things that you have accomplished, gained or developed over the past 12 months. Even doing a self appraisal, it is good to end on a positive note. Do you feel you merit a bonus? Could you benefit from additional training? In the quieter times it is good to sit back and enjoy the down time, but not everyone can afford to sit back too long. Take this opportunity to focus on your business plan for the year ahead. Look back at 2012 and what worked best for you; which initiatives proved most helpful, the people or organisations that were the most supportive or most beneficial.

Taking the time to analyse these aspects will prove invaluable for 2013 and help you decide how you approach your next working calendar. Be honest about your business needs for the year ahead, it may be a new premises, to

ness. Work at least three months in advance. Do you need fliers, business cards or new signage? If you have been using the web to promote your business do you have a strategy? Social media marketing can be an excellent vehicle but requires a solid, measurable and consistent plan. In addition, it is crucial for you to have a clear understanding of how and why social media can be useful for reaching your business goals.

Taking the time to analyse these aspects will prove invaluable for 2013 and how you approach your next working calendar

use a co-working space, a faster computer, some new software, a training course or more travel. (When forecasting your costs it can be healthy to assume a 10% increase just in case!) Then review your income pattern over the past year. Calculate which months are occupied with sales or delivery and those that will be available for marketing, research or admin. Time passes quickly when you are busy and last-minute promotions can be risky so think about key dates and plan some “events” that could be beneficial to your busi-

Social media marketing is not just using Facebook or setting up a Twitter account. n Research which social media channels are most appropriate to your audience.

New social media channels are opening all the time, and some will suit your needs better than others. n Take time to listen to existing messages, from competitors and consumers alike. n Choose your tools – to improve your efficiency it is worth setting up scheduling and monitoring accounts like Tweetdeck, Buffer or Google Alerts n Time your activity – promotions at different days and times may affect how positively your efforts are received. n Content is King – select your sources carefully and compile a list of useful topics to fall back on in case you are busy or short of inspiration. n Be flexible and prepared – how will you respond to a complaint, obscene remark or a compliment? Remain consistent and be clear in your own social media voice. Online marketing is changing. Seeking advice or investing in training may mean a considerable saving in the long run.

Useful Websites

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

When anyone has interests in various countries, it is often found they satisfy the internal criteria for residence of more than one country. Understandably, this can be confusing. In France, you only have to satisfy one of the following four conditions and you will be resident in France: n France is your “home”: If you have property in France and another country, but the latter is not available for your personal use (for example, it is rented to tenants), then France is your home. n France is your “centre of economic interest”: Generally, this means where your income is paid from. In addition to pension, salaries, etc., this can include bank interest and other investment income. n France is your place of “habitual abode”: The law makes no reference to the number of days you spend here and people are caught out, believing that if they do not spend at least 183 days in France, they can decide they are not resident. This is not so and your place of “habitual abode” is, simply, where you spend most time. n Nationality: If your residency has not been established by the above points, then it will be your nationality that determines your residence, however, this is very rare. As a French resident, you must complete an annual income tax return and declare all worldwide income and gains (even if the income is ultimately taxable in another country). In addition, depending upon the value of your assets, you may also need to complete a wealth tax return. There are Double Taxation Treaties (DTTs) existing between France and all the EU states (plus many other countries). This is very important for anyone with interests in more than one country as a DTT sets out the rules that apply in determining which country has the right to tax your income and assets, to avoid double taxation. Inheritance taxes should also not be overlooked. French residents are domiciled in France for inheritance purposes and your worldwide estate becomes taxable here, where the tax rates depend on your relationship to your beneficiaries. In summary, French residency is a fact and not a choice. Therefore, it is important to seek professional advice on your own situation, as it is our experience that “one size does not fit all”. With good advice, actions can be taken to mitigate your personal taxes, as well as the potential French inheritance tax bills for your heirs.

22 Property

Languedoc Pages

December 2012





Montigny, Manche, Normandy One bedroom house to renovate consists of living room, kitchen, bathroom, shed, workshop, garage and garden.

Baud, Morbihan, Brittany One bedroom house comprises kitchen, small shower room, loft, storage room, garden and garage.

Paule, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany Two bedroom cottage consists of open plan living room, corner kitchen, shower room and small private garden.

Ref: 14025D

Energy rating = F & F

Ref: ZXC00107

Energy rating = G & D

Ref: 3270




Pont-d'Ouilly, Calvados, Normandy Two bedroom house consists of living room, kitchen, bathroom, conservatory, garage and outbuildings.

Guern, Morbihan, Brittany Two bedroom renovated house consists of lounge, open plan kitchen/dining area, new bathroom, garage and large garden.

Jumilhac-le-Grand,Dordogne Two bedroom semi-detached house has been completely rebuilt and decorated upstairs to expose original features.

Ref: XJN02780

Energy rating = F & F

Ref: 700325

Energy rating = E

Ref: 700937




Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house consists of living room, kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, garage and garden.

Saint-Nicolas-du-Tertre, Morbihan, Brittany Three bedroom house set on an acre of land comprises living/ kitchen room, shower room, conservatory and outbuildings.

Belvès, Dordogne Two bedroom restored house with garden to the back and outbuildings.

Ref: 14135D

Energy rating = e & f

Ref: 83003139610

Energy rating = e & f

Ref: 3434




Courson, Calvados, Normandy Three bedroom house comprises lounge, kitchen/eating area, workshop/garage and outbuilding.

Near Le Buisson-de-Cadouin, Dordogne Four bedroom house consists of courtyard, garage and outbuildings.

Châteauneuf-du-Faou, Finistère, Brittany Three bedroom house set on 1/4 acre of land comprises country kitchen, living room, dining room, family bathroom, two stone outbuildings and barn.

Ref: 700646

Energy rating = G

Ref: 3214

Energy rating = E & E

Ref: 3259




Saint-Nicolas-du-Pélem, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany Four bedroom house consists of lounge/dining room, kitchen, two bathrooms, conservatory, summer kitchen and garage.

Sourdeval, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house set on 0.68 acre of land consists of lounge, kitchen/ dining area, bathroom, shower room and small utility room.

Pordic, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany Three bedroom house set on 400m2 of land consists of living room, large kitchen, bathroom and conservatory.

Ref: PLM01657

Energy rating = e & f

Ref: MNB01599

Energy rating = C & D

Ref: PLM01681




Near La Tour-Blanche, Dordogne Two bedroom house comprises sitting room, kitchen/ breakfast room, bathroom, shower room, garden, barn, swimming pool and pool house.

Saint-Nicolas-des-Eaux, Morbihan, Brittany Four bedroom house consists of living room, fitted kitchen with vaulted ceiling, breakfast room, bathroom, garden and outbuildings.

Eymet, Dordogne This three bedroom detached bungalow comprises living/dining room, kitchen, bathroom, utility room, garage, garden and luxurious swimming pool.

Ref: IFPC22783

Energy rating = F & B

Ref: ZXC00103

Energy rating = e & d

Ref: AQU-496




Evriguet, Morbihan, Brittany Three bedroom stone house comprises three reception rooms, kitchen, bathroom and gardens.

Eymet, Dordogne Five bedroom house comprises living/dining room, semi-open kitchen, bathroom, separate WC, garage, workshop, swimming pool and house.

Lingreville, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house set on 0.75 acre of land comprises living room, fitted kitchen/ dining room, bathroom, shower room and detached garage.

REF: 700570

Energy rating = D

Ref: 71500

Energy rating = D

REF: 700923




Callac, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany Two bedroom house comprises private courtyard, gatehouse entrance, workshop, two stone buildings and large barn with three horse boxes.

La Roche-Chalais, Dordogne Three bedroom modern bungalow comprises large lounge, kitchen/dining room, two shower rooms, office, cellar, double garage and garden.

Rauville-la-Place, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house set on 3.63 hectares of land includes outbuildings.

Ref: 700413

Energy rating = F

Ref: 700872

Energy rating = D

REF: 700219




Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-deReilhac, Dordogne Three bedroom house comprises living room, open kitchen, bathroom, garage, garden and swimming pool.

Saint-Romphaire, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house set on 3 acres of land comprises fitted kitchen, dining room, bathroom, shower room and outbuildings.

Bourg-du-Bost, Dordogne Large building spilt into three bedroom house and two bedroom house includes two garages and walled garden.

Ref: V5914

Energy rating = D & A

REF: 700511

Energy rating = d

Ref: 700565




Near Bergerac, Dordogne Four bedroom detached house includes living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, shower room, study, integral garage, and swimming pool.

Roullours, Calvados, Normandy Two bedroom and one bedroom house with outbuildings set on 37 acres of land.

Quimper, Finistère, Brittany Six bedroom house comprises living room, open kitchen, bathroom, en suite, separate toilet, back kitchen, garage and garden.

Ref: IFPC22356

Energy rating = E & F

REF: 700497

Energy rating = E

Ref: IFPC22720

Energy rating = G & F

Energy rating = E

Energy rating = F & C

Energy rating = g & g

Energy rating = e & f

Energy rating = e & c

Energy rating = D

Energy rating = G

Energy rating = b

Energy rating = C & B

Languedoc Pages

Property and Finance 23

December 2012



Jeremy Cook, chief economist at foreign exchange company, World First, talks about the Euro and other currencies.

Crasville, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house and three bedroom guest wing with separate access includes garden and outbuildings. REF: 700944

Sponsored by Energy rating = C

Photo: © crimson -

Vimoutiers, Orne, Normandy Four bedroom house and two bedroom cottage currently run as a very successful B&B and Gîte business.

Answered by +44 20 7801 1050 Recession on Continent is likely to extend into the mid-part of 2013


Legal Notes

Inheritance rules cause problems Photo: © gcpics -

REF: IFPC22612

Currency Notes

Energy rating = e & f

395,000 Bohal, Morbihan, Brittany Two detached restored stone houses and outbuildings set on 6 acres of land with private fishing lake. Ref: 83003135486

Energy rating = f & d

Making a simple declaration can ease problems

432,500 Near Saint-Pois, Manche, Normandy Three bedroom house and one bedroom gîte set on 4.5 hectares of land. REF: BNO-637

Energy rating = E & c

449,000 Near Beynac, Dordogne Four bedroom house set on 7 hectares of land consists of lounge/dining room, kitchen, shower room, separate WC, terrace, conservatory and outbuilding. Ref: FPBC3260C

Energy rating = e & b

465,000 Le Bugue, Dordogne Four bedroom farmhouse and one bedroom guest house includes well maintained garden and swimming pool. Ref: FPBC1510L

Energy rating = D & D

473,000 Juilley, Manche, Normandy Four bedroom house and two bedroom cottage set on 9443m2 of land.

Ref: 14075D

Energy rating = C & B

499,000 Near Lalinde, Dordogne A restored three bedroom stone Manoir and four bedroom guest house set on one hectare of land with barn, garage, swimming pool and pool house. Ref: FPBS2338M

Energy rating = E & C

535,600 Etrépagny, Eure, Normandy Four bedroom Old Mill house consists of living room, kitchen, two bathrooms, shower room, wine cellar, garden, small storage building and small house. REF: 83003151870

Energy rating = e & c

670,000 Falaise, Calvados, Normandy Five bedroom house comprises drawing room, dining room, kitchen, three bathrooms, showroom, two en suites, large dressing room, two basements and double garage. REF: IFPC22227

Energy rating = D & D

Making early plans may give stability Recent suggestions that the Eurozone looks like it is finally beginning to climb out of its debt hole are greatly overstated. With Greece, Spain, Italy and all the rest still nowhere near the point of return, the fact is that a recession on the Continent is likely to extend into the mid-part of 2013. Unfortunately debt and GDP levels are only going one way: the wrong way, and this has clear implications for anyone who is looking to transfer money in or out of France as the euro continues to struggle as a consequence. To the south, Spain has continued to dither on requesting funds, and this in itself has caused problems. From a political point of view the Spanish prime minister has very little to gain from applying for an ECB bailout, but his reticence leaves him open to the accusation he has wilfully harmed the Spanish economy’s prospects, thus causing further market pressures, while the cost to the taxpayer and the size of the bailout increases. In Madrid’s corridors of power, the hope must therefore be that Spain eventually gets a bailout, after being told There is no clear to have one following total European political gridlock – path ahead as to i.e. a scenario that can be how much euros blamed on everyone else. The market reaction to a junking will be worth of the Spanish sovereign Jeremy Cook bonds will only lead to more bailout chatter but, at the time of writing, nothing has been agreed and the pressure continues to mount on the Eurozone countries and the single currency itself. Such problems in struggling Eurozone countries like Spain and Greece have caused the euro value to fluctuate fairly dramatically this year, and 2013 is not looking like it is going to be stable either. This will obviously present problems for anyone who needs to make international currency transfers and some careful forward planning is advisable. For French expats, it has been a challenging period and unfortunately there is no clear path ahead as to how much euros will be worth in the long term. There are ways of fixing exchange rates in advance to take volatility out of the equation and with the continuing economic uncertainty in the Eurozone, this is the kind of step those looking for financial confidence might want to pursue sooner rather than later.

For more information about making international money transfers with World First visit the website or call +44 20 7801 1050

INHERITANCE is an issue that troubles clients as the French have a “reserve heir” system where offspring, generally, cannot be disinherited. One child can claim one half of his deceased parents’ estates, two children one third each and three or more can get their hands on 75% divided equally. The balance – the disposable quota – is generally free to be left to whoever you want. This can cause trouble: principally over what the surviving spouse can have (who is a reserve heir only in the absence of others, but still has rights, especially regarding the home), whether an ungrateful child can be disinherited and, in second marriages, where there are children from earlier relationships and the present one. Do these rules affect British citizens who have holiday homes in France or those who live here permanently? The answer to the last question is: Yes, quite a lot actually. Your French real estate, – land and anything built on it – must devolve according to French law even if you have never set foot in France. Your personal estate will also do so if you are “permanently or habitually” resident here. Your executors will have to deal with your affairs through two different legal systems. UK affairs will devolve according to UK law and French ones, or some of them, to French law. That is why the EU brought in new rules – which the UK, Ireland and Denmark have not signed up to – which mean those who have their final habitual residence in a signatory country can nominate which legal system will govern their estate’s devolution. An English person living in France can say the laws of England and Wales are to determine who is to inherit from him rather than the reserve heir rules briefly outlined above. How and when can it be done? Firstly, make a simple declaration (a professio juris) in your will saying you want your estate administered according to the laws of England and Wales (or wherever). This can be done immediately. However, the new rules do not come into force until August 17, 2015, and you must survive until after that date. Be aware that local inheritance tax laws still apply. In France, as in the UK, surviving spouses inheriting from their spouse pay no inheritance tax. But if you leave your estate to your children, each can have only e100,000 before tax starts at 5% increasing to 40%. Non-family are taxed at 60% with no reliefs. Step-children are taxed similarly unless you have adopted them. In France a Frenchman can adopt a “child” of any age, but UK nationals can only do so up to the age of 18, in line with the UK adoption age. France has two kinds of adoption: adoption simple, where it is done for inheritance tax and the “child” remains the offspring of the natural parents. In Adoption pleinière on the other hand the child and natural parents cease to have any legal relationship. Under adoption simple the child can inherit, and on a reduced tax basis, from four parents. It is possible for a reserve heir to renounce their entitlement by signing a document to that effect in the presence of two notaries before or after the death of the parent.

24 People

Languedoc Pages

December 2012

Beekeeper school is hive of activity People of all ages and backgrounds are signing up to learn how to help save bees. RAY CLANCY found out more As more and more people become concerned about the dwindling number of bees in the countryside a new “school” has been set up to help those wishing to have their own hives. The non-profit-making association, Lo Brusc d’Olt et d’Urugne, in Banassac, Lozère, also offers people the chance to adopt a hive and to have their own personalised jars of honey. Since it opened in April, dozens of people have begun taking regular courses with the aim of being able to look after their own hives. They begin by making regular visits to some of the association’s hives in three locations at Banassac and La Canourgue. The lessons start with how to find the best location for a hive, the best bees to keep, types of hives and bees available and the cycle of looking after bees and collecting their honey. Local vet Vincent Métral, who has a diploma in beekeeping, and Vincent Flechier, the director of BienManger, an online delicatessen, decided to set up the association because of the numbers of people in the area asking about beekeeping. “We found that lots of people expressed an interest in learning about beekeeping but there was no structure for them to do so. The aim is to help people who are passionate about bees to learn how to manage a hive,” said Mr Métral. “I have been fascinated by bees for a long time and I have hives at home. So the idea for the school came out of this passion. Members of the association can learn all about beekeeping and the goal is that within two years they should be capable of looking after hives at their own home,” he added. He has been surprised by the sheer range and numbers of people already signing up for the courses. “The whole of the population is represented. We have young people, retired people, men, women, another vet and they are all passionate about bees.” Everyone involved also wants to save bees. Figures show that the honey bee is in danger in France, mostly due to the amount of pesticides in the environment but also from disease. Mr Métral also pointed out that it is not just honey that is endangered as bees play a vital role

The beekeeping school in Banassac, Lozère, offers regular courses on how to look after hives – and has caught the interest of the local media in the biodiversity of the countryside and all kinds of farmers rely on them to pollinate their crops. “The survival of 80% of vegetable species in the world depend on bees. The bee is the best pollinator on the planet. A bee pollinates 65% of our food. Also a huge number of wild plants are safeguarded by bees. Having your own hive can help protect the bees, that is why people are so interested in learning,” added Mr Métral. The association is also encouraging schoolchildren to learn about bees and honey and they have been arranging a number of visits for young people to find out how a hive works and taste the honey. People can also adopt a bee hive. A hive with 30,000 bees is e160 and half a hive is e85. The hive is marked with the sponsor’s name and each one will have a page on the association’s website so that the owner can watch the progress of the bees. Each September when the honey is harvested the owners get eight or 16 jars of honey with personalised labels.


The modern way to sell a French property

In spite of the ongoing economic crisis, Houses on Internet has seen its best ever sales this year, and its website sell your house in France is therefore become much more complex and old Houses on Internet has is visited by over 115,000 people from crucial.” school advertising simply does not do made use of the latest For more than four years, Houses on all over the world every month. the job anymore. online advertising “Reaching today’s buyers simply Internet has been successful in selling Today’s buyers do not have time to cannot be done without a top ranking visit the region of their choice regularly French properties to people from all techniques to record its over the world, including most parts of on Google,” said Richard. to go window shopping, and will not best ever year of sales The Houses on Internet websites Europe, the Americas, Australia, Africa have time to drive through the counhave had a page one ranking for more and Asia. WHEN it comes to the property mar- tryside all day to spot houses. than a year now - something that few “We would never have achieved These country roads have now been ket, things used to be so simple. these results if we had not fully used all other companies can lay claim to. replaced with a digital highway - othA house in France could be pur“Maintaining this level is hard work, erwise known as the internet - and for the possibilities the internet has to chased and enjoyed for a number of but definitely worth it,” added Richard. over 98% of property buyers, this is the offer,” said Richard. years - either permanently or just for “It requires constant knowledge of only medium they use when searching the holidays. the latest techniques, frequent updates Then, when an owner decided it was for their dream house. of the websites and a lot of Google “And there are other things that time to sell, they would put up a sign advertising. have changed,” said Richard Kroon, and ask the local agent to hang up a “For example, our online adverts director of Houses on Internet. “No photo of the house in his window. Reaching today's buyers were shown over 3.1 million times last Prospective buyers who happened to longer are there just the 'traditional' month buyers, like the French, British, pass by showed their interest, and simply cannot be done on over 10,000 websites worldwide. Belgians, or Dutch. often it was soon sold, allowing the without a top ranking “This means that anyone looking for “Today's market is truly a global owner to move on. But times have on Google French property - whether far away or one, with over 25 nationalities buying. changed. living in the next village - is just one A worldwide coverage when trying to The French property market has

Company founder Richard Kroon

click away from viewing your house.” Visit the website now to get your house online, as this is the time prospective buyers will be planning their early spring viewing trips. 05 55 65 12 19

The Languedoc Pages - December 2012  

The Languedoc Pages, Languedoc’s English-language monthly newspaper