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June 2018 Issue 188
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I built my French Sex: the new house for €3,000 tool against materials included mosquitoes
Photo: André Morin
Vote Leave’s Lord Lawson applies for a carte de séjour
Paris is Paris ... it is not France
Hermione’s world tour
Expat Brexiteer says paperwork ‘tiresome, not serious’ by OLIVER ROWLAND
Full interview Page 4
Photo: Emma Hellowell
Photo: parliament.uk CC by 3.0
FORMER Vote Leave chairman Lord Lawson has told Connexion he has no regrets about Brexit despite living in France – and is applying for his carte de séjour. The former UK chancellor, who has lived in the Gers for several years, said he considers the extra paperwork to be among certain ‘tiresome rather than serious’ impacts which Brexit may have on expats like himself. However he is confident Britons in France will be able to continue their lives without significant disruption and that Brexit will benefit the UK as long as future governments make good use of it. This comes as the Interior Ministry has advised that Britons in France should apply for cartes de séjour now so as to minimise complications later on when it is expected that Britons will be obliged to have some form of card.
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Lord Lawson and Brexit 4 Plan for Hermione world tour 5 Anglophone doctor plea 7 Brittany’s ‘Easter Island’ statues 9 News in Brief 10-11
Comment 14-17 Simon Heffer / Nabila Ramdani 14 Paris is Paris - not France 15 Readers’ letters 16-17
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UK patients get NHS care in Calais hospital MORE than 60 English patients have had operations such as hip and knee replacements carried out in a French hospital after spending too long on NHS waiting lists. Calais CHU hospital has a contract with the NHS to offer non-urgent work with operations in a few days rather than many months, single-bed rooms and state-of-the-art resources in a modern hospital with English-speaking staff. Sitting just minutes from the Eurotunnel terminal, it is less than an hour from Dover and general affairs manager Pauline Richoux said they were keen to help more patients to fill beds which are under-utilised. “The hospital was built in 2012 and aimed to last for 30-40 years so it has extra capacity and when Kent NHS advertised for hospitals to offer their services we did so and won a contract in 2016, along with the hospital at Berck-sur-Mer. “To start with, little happened then this winter it snowballed and we had one or two patients in every day for consultations or operations as word spread.” With up to 55,000 non urgent but much-needed operations being cancelled by the NHS, the
hospital had 140 requests for treatment in one fortnight alone at the end of January. Calais CHU can provide elective care for specialities such as general surgery, orthopaedics, gynaecology, ENT, urology and pain management. Initial diagnosis is done by UK doctors and patients who know of the Calais link are sent to France for an initial consultation plus meeting the anaesthetist before returning for the operation. Patients pay their own transport costs. From start to finish it can be completed in a week but is most often done in a few weeks. Ms Richoux said: “Most of the operations we carry out are hip and knee replacements, bladder operations and stomach reduction. However, we do not offer open-heart surgery, neurosurgery, cataract repair or any work with children. We also do not offer plastic surgery as this is not covered by the NHS. “Our costs are met directly by the NHS with patients paying only a small extra for any special services such as internet.” Waiting times for hip replacements at William Harvey and Medway Maritime hospitals in Kent are more than 30 weeks
Flying river taxis on the Seine and Saône RISING on its hydrofoils while proved capable in the middle of scooting above the surface of both rivers’ heavy freight traffic the River Seine in Paris, new and the bateaux mouches. Tests in Saint-Tropez and on tests of the SeaBubbles ‘flying taxi’ have shown they can be Lake Geneva showed them off to prospective deep-pocketed effective in city river traffic. The boats had previously been buyers and the new model is all tested on the Seine with mayor but ready for production. Anne Hidalgo on board but river regulations meant speeds were limited to just 12-18kph and would not allow proper functioning that did not start until 50kph. Now a new version that needs just 12kph to rise on the wing- Sea Bubbles tests on the Saône at Lyon like hydrofoils has French insurance group Maif been developed by SeaBubbles creator Alain Thébault Hotspots • TV and he put €10million of funding into used several to test how they the electric boats which when travelled in traffic and against working give no noise, no pollution and no wake, which the current of flowing water. The SeaBubbles have already makes them ideal for an Uberbeen tested in Lyon on the River like river taxi or yacht tender Saône off the Confluence and service round the world.
but Ms Richoux said they could offer the operation in about four weeks from patients first speaking to their UK doctor. While private hip replacements in the UK can cost up to £17,000 if the patient is desperate, the Calais hospital works for a set NHS fee of £9,251. Ms Richoux – who used the English word ‘bladder’ when she forgot the French word – said the hospital had dozens of staff at all levels who spoke and were trained in English. The service is seen as helping the hospital balance its books and Ms Richoux said there was no impact in French patients’ needs as “English patients get no priority whatsoever and we have spare capacity”. The first patient to benefit from the deal, Tim Brierley, 56, had his gall bladder removed in 2016 and said it was a “totally stress-free experience” in Calais after a 10-month NHS wait. An NHS South Kent Coast spokesperson said its contract with Calais CHU gave greater patient choice, adding: “There is no reason why the contract should not continue after Brexit. We have a very good relationship with the French health service in Calais.”
News in brief Carpenters needed for 10,000 vacancies DESPITE jobless figures for the start of 2018 showing a fall and growth returning, some industries are not seeing the benefit as they cannot hire tradesmen. Joinery trades have been particularly badly hit with Pôle Emploi saying it has 10,000 unfilled jobs for menuisiers.
Mills and countryside open up for visits DISCOVER the countryside and its mills in the Journées du Patrimoine de Pays et des Moulins from June 16-17 with visits to forges, gorges, hydroelectric sites and watercourses across the country.
Cleaner beaches win more blue flags CLEAN bathing water has won 399 Pavillon Bleu blue flags for beaches in 186 communes (up from 390) plus another 107 flags for inland waterway sites.
Jobless fall costs jobs Memorial to slavery
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MOre than 4,000 jobs could go at Pôle Emploi in three years due to the drop in unemployment. France had 6,255,800 doing no work at all in the first quarter, down 1% from the end of 2017. Unions, however, say the workload has not fallen as more people are doing part-time work but are not paid enough to come off benefits.
A MEMORIAL to commemorate the end of slavery in France in 1848 and a foundation to work to end modern-day slavery are to be set up. The memorial at Paris Hôtel de la Marine will follow another in Nantes, the leading slaver port ahead of Bordeaux. No museum is planned in a bid to maintain focus on the one in Guadeloupe.
From here it is 1km straight down... Electricity bill was a The view from the Pic du Midi above Grand Tourmalet ski station extends over 300km of mountains from east to west
Photo: PvilleSteve CC by SA- 4.0
GIANT hammerhead worms which eat ordinary earthworms have invaded France. The worms, which can reach up to 40cm, have wormed their way into French gardens over 20 years from Asia but this went unnoticed until five years ago, when an amateur natural ist sent a photo to scientists.
“Findings strongly suggest the species present in Metropolitan France and overseas territories should be considered invasive alien species,” according to new research published in the scien tific journal PeerJ... “As scien tists, we were amazed these long and [in some cases] bright ly-coloured worms could escape the attention of scientists and authorities for such a long time.” There have been 111 record ed sightings since 1999, the study noted, and there are five different species. They are able to reproduce asexually and have no known predators. It is believed they were trans ported from Asia among con signments of tropical plants.
OFFICIALLY one of France’s darkest places, the Pic du Midi observatory opens to the first of its expected 120,000 visitors on June 1 and ties in its Dark Skies experience with an exhibition alongside its planetarium, Europe’s highest. With its view to the Massif Central, the site at Bigorre at 2,877m in the Pyrénées also opens a ‘bridge over the void’ that features a 12m pier over a 1,000m drop... fitted with a glass floor.
It is part of a facelift for the Pic du Midi that builds on its past as a scientific observatory – that remains in full use – and offers a new look at the world of science and discovery. The site was France’s first dark skies park, Réserve Internationale de Ciel Étoilé, and offers beautiful sunsets, clear skies above the clouds for star-gazing, and a sunrise breakfast for visitors who book a night’s stay.
Don’t panic: there’s plenty rosé for us all by KEN SEATON A headline in the leading finance newspaper Les Echos asked ‘Will there be enough rosé this summer?’ and sparked mild panic among tipplers and talk of rising prices... but wine producers in both Languedoc and Provence say that summer will still be rosy. Headlines with a question in them can usually be answered with ‘No’, and Languedoc Wines president Xavier de Volontat backed this, saying although world rosé consumption was up 31% and Provence production down 12% vignerons in Languedoc had no fears as they decided last year to increase rosé production for this year. Languedoc is the largest pro ducer and made 320million bottles last year, double
Giant worms invade France
Provençal production and three times that of the Loire, without forgetting areas like Alsace, Bordeaux, Champagne (includ ing bubbly), Jura and most of the south-west. France produces a third of the world’s rosé and one out of every three bottles of wine sold is rosé, making an average con sumption in France of 20 bot tles for every person. Mr de Volontat, who heads the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc and IGP Sud de France, said that after the spring frosts and sum mer drought they “anticipated the rise in demand. “Like other French wine regions, our area suffered from a smaller harvest, down 20%, but the production of AOC Languedoc rosé was up 23% in 2017 against 2016.
“The wine shortage Les Echos talks about is largely for Provence. Languedoc should be able to offset the drop in pro duction in Provence so France can continue to meet interna tional demand.” In Provence, wine producers’ president Alain Baccino of the CIVP told journalists that vignerons there had never talked of a shortage and had no fears as everything was still looking good for the season, helped by the fact it started late. He added: “I can tell you that now, at the start of the season, the cellars are full.” The Côtes de Provence AOC – where 90% of the vineyards make rosé – produced 780,000 hectolitres or 103m bottles of rosé in 2017 and became lead ing AOC region, making 34% of French AOC production.
Bordeaux wine giant loses ‘fake’ bottle case
BORDEAUX wine giant Pétrus at Pomerol has lost the latest round in a legal battle to stop two wine negociant brothers using the Pétrus name on their bottles. Bottles of Château Pétrus can sell for over €2,000 and its owners started a counterfeiting lawsuit against Stéphane and Jerôme Coureau after seeing a bottle labelled ‘Coureau & Coureau Pétrus Lambertini Major Burdegalensis 1208’. The brothers, who run CGM Vins in Saint Savin
near Blaye, Gironde, have sold the wine for seven years and registered it using the name of the first mayor of Bordeaux in 1208. It sells for €10. Château Pétrus said the name would confuse buyers but lost on appeal. It will now take the case to the highest court, Cour de Cassation. Stéphane Coureau said: “I don’t think anyone will confuse our wine with the great Pétrus. It is a very good wine even so. We use Champagne methods, buying in grapes from producers.”
shock... at €164.8million
READER Hilary Whitford got a shock when she opened a letter from EDF warning her that her next electricity bill was going to be large... at €164,800,260. Even worse, when Mrs Whit ford contacted EDF to com plain she was told that “Yes, the bill is correct” and that her adviser was there to help her organise a payment schedule. Speaking from her home in Puy-de-Dôme, Mrs Whitford said: “I was stunned, especially when he said I had to pay. “There was not even an apolo gy, even at the end of it all once I had persuaded them the bill was wrong no one apologised.” The letter was to advise Mrs Whitford that the money would not be taken out of her account straight away and that EDF was offering to set up a payment schedule. But, she said: “How was I
going to pay a bill like that; how could I even run up a bill the size of that? “Eventually he looked at it again but when he came back it was still not correct and he gave me the bill for last year... then the line cut off as my phone line is bad and I had to call a second adviser who was able to give me the proper sum, of €1,648.26.” A spokesman for EDF told Connexion Mrs Whitford had not been sent a bill but her advi sor had sent a warning that her next bill was going to be large... and “a typing error saw a series of extra zeroes added by mis take” in the letter. After we spoke to EDF Mrs Whitford received a letter from her advisor – in English – offer ing the much-awaited apology on behalf of EDF and offering a “goodwill gesture” of... €40. Mrs Whitford said: “Wow!”
Brexit 4 Brexit
‘I’m not worried about my carte de séjour application’ Photo: parliament.uk
LEADING Brexit campaigner Lord Lawson, who lives in Gers, south-west France, told Connexion in 2016 that leaving the EU would not affect Britons’ fundamental rights but might mean extra paperwork... He tells Oliver Rowland he is applying for his carte de séjour, which guarantees those rights
Lawyers previously advised you that our rights would be protected under the Vienna Convention of 1969 – we do not seem to have heard about that lately I’m not a lawyer myself so don’t know for sure, but there’s a huge body of legal opinion that thinks this is all covered by that. I know a number of lawyers who believe it [rights negotiations, cards...] to have all been unnecessary.
WE CAUGHT up with the former UK chancellor to ask his views on the progress of the Brexit negotiations so far and developments such as Etias – the EU visa-waiver plan which is expected to affect Britons from 2021 (see article, bottom of page). Are you worried about Etias? I’m not particularly familiar with it but as I live in France I’m not concerned. There may be a few bureaucratic hoops to be gone through which are tiresome but I don’t think it’s a serious problem. I know Americans who live for varying lengths of time in France and they find things perfectly tolerable. What do you think of the deal negotiated for expats? I don’t think the issue of Britons living in other EU countries is a major problem in the talks and I think it will be sorted out. The problem is trade, where EU negotiators want to punish the UK for leaving, not because most of them are anti-British, but to discourage others. They don’t intend to inflict punishment on UK citizens in France. The Irish border is a problem The border issue is being whipped up by Brussels and Dublin for political reasons. There was only a problem when the IRA were active militarily and saw border posts as useful targets. But they were defeated. Are you confident it will be settled?
rather than serious. I understand some people are worried about healthcare cover and hope it will be sorted out. Speaking as a Brit in France – and I’m not applying for French nationality – I am not worried.
Lord Lawson lives in south-west France Rights will be up in the air if there is no agreement I think the issue could be no trade deal. There will be agreement on expats and security. It’s not helped by the fact the current government is weak and is not doing a particularly good job. But that’s a fact of life. I think the most likely outcome is initially no trade deal, then after Britain is fully out of the EU and passions have cooled there will be agreement at a future date. I don’t think there would be a bilateral deal just with France as I don’t think EU law would allow it. It’s one of the problems with the EU and why it will be easier for the UK to do deals with countries around the world as it’s easier to negotiate with one country than with the EU where different member states have different views. People are encouraged to apply for cartes de séjour before Brexit, some have had problems and some are worried they will not cope with the paperwork or meet criteria on income or healthcare. Have you applied? Yes I’ve just started and don’t know how it will work out but am not particularly worried. It comes under the category of tiresome
There are concerns about free movement to live and work in other EU states People are inclined to worry when there’s change. The overriding priority of Brussels is an agreement on the economic front that’s not good for the UK economy; it’s not aiming at individuals. I don’t think they will succeed because unless we get a good trade deal we should not make any payments to the EU and the EU is worried at the hole in the budget when we leave. Was it all worth it? Yes, it will soon give benefits – not paying contributions etc. But it depends how the government of the day runs the country. There are things we’d like to do that we can’t now because we don’t have the autonomy. But that control can be used competently or not. If it is, I believe the UK will benefit increasingly over the years, if not, we’ll suffer. What about Britons wanting to come to France in the future? There have been Britons coming since well before the European Union or its predecessors and this is a mistake that the young especially make, as they weren’t born before the EU – to think the only reason they can travel as they wish on the continent is the EU, which is a historical nonsense. Read our 2016 Lord Lawson interview tinyurl.com/lawsonexpats
We must make it easy to secure rights LOOKING at problems people face when applying for cartes de séjour, an expert on expat issues says Britons need “urgent clarity from the Interior Ministry” on how to apply and for it to “empower local officials with knowledge, especially in areas with large British populations”. Dr Michaela Benson of Gold smiths, University of London, has researched the expat community for almost two decades and said issues with carte de séjour applications were a blast from the past. “It’s not surprising because people were having those problems even then… Then I rem em ber when [in 2004] they decided Britons didn’t need cartes any more...” Applying for a card before Brexit is officially recommended to be ‘in the system’ before the UK leaves the EU and it was agreed in the talks that holding a ‘permanent’ carte will allow for a simple exchange if another form of card becomes necessary as a ‘third-country’ citizen. Dr Ben son suspects in that case it will be one of the various cards already issued to non-EU citizens and that there may be no EU agreement on a harmonised ‘pre-Brexit UK expat’ card. For now, obtaining a card as an EU citizen remains the best bet. Dr Benson leads the BrExpats project (not to be confused with the similarly-named campaigners), which is looking at the situation of Britons in the EU. She has been interviewing Britons in the Lot and Toulouse and also recently co-authored a study on issues around implementing the rights deal (for more detail see tinyurl.com/rightsdealreport and brexitbritsabroad.com). The report was in partnership with the Migration Policy Insti tute who spoke to officials across Europe about preparations and concerns, including frustrations they have had at not knowing
No progress on expatriate votes or free movement OVER three months have passed since ‘Shindler’s Bill’ on expat voting rights received a second House of Commons reading and no progress is being made towards the hoped-for change in the law. The Overseas Elector’s Bill 2017-19 was a private member’s bill, but the government backed it, saying it was an opportunity to implement its manifesto promise to end the 15-year voting limit. However, it has not had a ‘money resolution’ – a formality authorising the possibility of spending public money on the bill’s aims, nor has a date been fixed for it to move to the next ‘committee stage’. “Nothing seems to be moving at the moment,” said Christopher Chantrey of the British Community Committee of France. He noted it was among bills flagged up in a recent Commons debate when the shadow leader of the House called it an “important bill which has not yet received its money resolution”, despite the fact this was usually done
“immediately after a second reading”. The delay means it is likely that should there be a referendum on the Brexit deal with the same franchise as the first one long-term expats will be excluded again. A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “When it gets to committee stage it is up to Parliament I’m afraid. I don’t believe it’s been held up, there’s just a large number of bills to be discussed and the Overseas Electors Bill was quite far down the list.” French-resident campaigners from British in Europe (BiE) will be joining a march in London on June 23 asking for a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final deal. This comes as the House of Lords voted for an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that the UK should stay in the wider EEA after Brexit – a solution which would safeguard most expat rights apart from EU election voting and without the need for a carte de séjour. There have been no significant advances in the Brexit negotiations as the
October deadline for completing a draft withdrawal agreement approaches. BiE continues to highlight remaining concerns, such as the lack of ‘onward’ free movement to live and work in other EU countries. Out of 1,121 Britons in France who took part in a BiE survey, half thought they would be personally affected by restrictions on their current free movement rights as EU citizens. BiE has also surveyed experiences of applying for cartes de séjour and is passing on findings to the EU Commission and Council and the Interior Ministry. One complication set to come in after Brexit which will affect second-home owners is the EU visa-waiver scheme Etias, which is now scheduled for 2021 (details in connexionfrance.com Brexit section). It will mean a €7 fee and an online application for permission to visit the Schengen Zone (including France). Among other details, people will have to declare criminal offences in the past 10
years (or 20 for terrorism). Permission will last three years and will allow stays of up to three months at a time in the Schengen Zone in any 180-day period (the usual limit for non-EU visitors). Validity is likely to be checked at the border by a passport scan. Britons living in France may need to show a carte de séjour at the border on returning from a holiday to prove exemption. n On June 11, parliament will debate a motion that a ‘no Brexit’ option must be included when UK MPs debate the deal n A decision is expected on June 19 after an appeal was made against the Amster dam case which seeks a European Court of Justice ruling on whether Britons’ EU citizenship may remain after Brexit. The Article 50 Challenge, arguing Brexit was not triggered properly, will have a High Court hearing on June 12 n The British Embassy has an outreach meeting on June 26 in Nîmes
how to reassure Britons. It also looks at practical difficulties for Britons securing rights, advising countries that they should ‘set barriers low’ for proof of legal residence. Those likely to struggle with formalities, it says, may include young people who have moved around doing seasonal work or have worked ‘informally’. Income requirements might also pose problems not only to older people on small pensions but also to young people who have been out of work, Dr Benson said. “There are people in some areas who are largely self-sufficient and where average incomes in the area are low and who have concerns as to whether they are even eligible.” There may also be future problems for those brought up here who never took French nationality and who may not realise the need for formalities. “We know that on the ground legal reassurances so far are not sufficient because people’s experiences often run counter to them. There is also a tendency for some people to say ‘British people have always moved and everything will be OK’, but it’s a broad-brush view based on stereotypical images, and naivety, assuming Europe is homogeneous with all the same migration rules and procedures.” She said the deal so far had given some reassurance to those with chronic health conditions who had faced ‘life or death’ fears. “A lot of Britons however have not had faith in the negotiations which explains the huge rise in nationality applications – also sometimes because they didn’t know about the carte de séjour option.” However, she said she had heard from people in “crossborder service industries” for whom the lack of onward movement rights in the deal for Britons is a “massive concern”.
Help build EU’s future
PRESIDENT Macron’s LREM party received more than the hoped-for 100,000 responses giving views on the EU in its La Grande Marche pour l’Europe door-to-door campaign. Meanwhile, there are new ways for people interested in the EU’s future to get involved. Groups seen flying EU flags and balloons may be part of a (non-political) Pulse of Europe monthly event, as part of a bid to get people together in support of the EU project, with the ethos that the EU needs reform but is vital (pulseofeurope.eu). Similarly, in line with Presi dent Macron’s call for debate on the EU this year, look for ‘Consultation citoyenne’ events (quelleestvotreeurope.fr) which pass views to the government.
World tour planned for 18th century replica Hermione The Hermione in the port of Nice and, left, crew member Corentin Macé
Photo: Ken Seaton
Photo: Oliver Rowland
PLANS are being made for a world tour for the Hermione, the magnificent replica 18th century frigate which returns home to Rochefort, CharenteMaritime, this month after a successful tour of the Mediterranean. Connexion learned of the plan when we visited the ship in Nice to find out more about life on board. Hermione is one of the world’s largest wooden sailing ships at 66m long in total, with a main mast topping off at 47m above the sea, 2.2km2 of sails and 25km of ropes. This month sees her visit Bordeaux from June 10-13 and then return home to Rochefort on June 17, at around 8.30, after which visits will be possible in port for the rest of the year. The original Hermione, also built in Rochefort, is best known for taking French soldier and aristocrat Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette to Boston, USA to help George Washington in the American War of Independence. In 2015 the replica ship recreated his voyage, its first major trip and this year’s cruise around Spain and North Africa to the Riviera and Corsica was its first long voyage since then. Apart from a few professional
Hermione’s voyages as they can fit in. They all receive training in Rochefort before taking part. Gabier Corentin Macé left a job as a tourism official to take part. He said: “It’s exceptional in terms of all the manoeuvres that have to be done, for example each time we have to hoist a
sailors, the crew – known as gabiers – are volunteers. This year they included people from across the globe in a partnership with the Organisation International de la Francophonie. The crew come from all walks of life and take part in as much or as little of the
one day you can say so!” He said differences with modern sailing ships include the fact there is there are far more sails and a much greater surface of sail. However while the Her mione is a faithful replica there are modern adaptations including electric motors to manoeu-
vre in port, and modern sanitary and kitchen facilities. For more about life on board the Hermione and the world tour project, as well as extra photos see the news and culture sections of our website connexionfrance.com
one who knows France
Photo: CDC - James Gathany
scientists are closing in on a method to reduce the mosquito populations as health authorities warn the tiger mosquito has spread to 42 departments, now reaching to the north of Paris. Genes of a bacteria that makes the female common mosquito sterile have been studied by a team from Montpellier university who have found the genetic mechanism behind it. This could open up a way to reduce the spread of mosquitoborne diseases such as dengue, zika and chikungunya. The bacteria, Wolbachia, is normal in mosquitoes and if an infected male mates with a non-infected female the eggs are sterile. However, eggs survive if the female is also infected so, after time, only infected insects remain. Tests in Asia, Latin America and Australia have seen infected males and females released to breed with wild mosquitoes. However, this will eventually lead to non-infected mosquitoes being replaced by infected ones. The bacteria is safe for humans but mosquitoes that carry it have a reduced ability to transmit dangerous viruses. Researchers at the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution (Mont pellier) published their results in Nature Communications. One
New weapon on way in war on mosquitoes
sail, as well as our life below deck. The atmosphere on board is all about sharing and helping each other out. “Everyone has to climb in the rigging – for example when we need to furl the sails [gather them in against the yardarms] though if you don’t feel like it
The common mosquito, left, and the tiger mosquito of the project leaders, Mathieu Sicard, told Connexion they had identified a protein that caused the sterility and shown that the bacteria had many variations that could be used to obtain a good weapon against one ‘focal’ mosquito population. “For instance, the bacteria in mosquitoes in Tunisia is different from that of mosquitoes in France and it will cause sterility if the two mate. “The problem now is to find a way to create many more infected males without releasing infected females at the same time, but this is not the topic of my present research.” The World Mosquito Program says 40% of the world’s population is at risk from dengue which sees 390m infections a year. Zika affects 84 countries and a case of chikungunya is confirmed every four minutes. The Montpellier researchers work was on the common mos-
quito but Wolbachia bacteria is also carried by the tiger mosquito and it is hoped this will give a new means of control. Climate change is helping the spread of tiger mosquitoes since they arrived in Alpes-Maritimes in 2004. They now cover all of the south to as far north as Alsace and Aisne and are in the UK. The national health authority La Direction Générale de la Santé said tiger mosquito numbers had doubled in the past two years in France, making it a “priority target for surveillance”. Authorities say if a tiger mosquito is found in your garden or home there is an 80% chance it was raised there or nearby. Res idents should empty containers holding water that can go stagnant, where females lay eggs. This includes gutters, toys and plant-pots – or fill these with sand to allow watering but leaving no standing water. Rainwater butts should be covered.
Mont St Michel, Normandy
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NL173 Connexion 129x170mm - June 2018
Two pilots who bought a plane to be able to save migrants in the Mediterranean say they were inspired by the work of the rescue charity group SOS-Mediterranée. We we speak to one of its founders, KLAUS VOGEL, on what else needs to be done to stop the deaths
Our team has saved 26,000 people... Europe must speak out and do more
Yann Levy / SOS MEDITERRANEE
by OLIVER ROWLAND INSPIRED by a sense of solidarity among seafarers, German merchant navy captain Klaus Vogel put his career on hold to help migrants at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean. With humanitarian and social aid worker Sophie Beau, from Marseille, he founded SOS Méditerranée which has saved more than 26,000 people. Awarded the Grand Vermeil medal – the city of Paris’s highest honour – he has written a book, Tous sont vivants (éditions les Arènes), on their rescue work on the ship, Aquarius. You were awarded the City of Paris medal and your book is with a French publisher – do you have other links with France? SOS Méditerranée was set up as a European organisation in 2015 then as national associations in different countries, including France, so it was a natural choice to go with a French publisher. We have organisers in France, including my co-founder, and a large number of citizens who support us. Also some of our team on the ship are French as well as other nationalities including German, Italian, Spanish and British. The City of Paris medal was for all of us. Why did you decide you had to do something? The most important reason was that the Italian government rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, abruptly ended in October/November 2014 and there was literally nobody any more to help. Italy had rescued 150,000 in one year. I met people, including co-founder Sophie Beau, and we decided to set up a European organisation and to raise money to hire a big, strong vessel. We wanted to be in the Mediterran ean, be witnesses and report the situation as it was, not just stand by. It must have been very difficult financially Yes, it is difficult and expensive; it
costs €11,000/a day but we have a lot of supporters in Italy and France and other countries, even beyond Europe, as so many people understand that people cannot be left to die at sea. Where are the people you rescue fleeing from? One rescue ship operates between the Libyan coast and Lampedusa, Sicily; most people are fleeing Libya, where many have migrated to from other areas, often seeking work. In Libya they are trapped and the situation there is terrible, especially for sub-Saharan people. They have no choice but to flee by sea, in dangerous and fragile boats, which means it’s an emergency from the start. Many have left countries like Som alia or places in West Africa where there are war zones or because there is hunger and no work where they live. Libya is hell for sub-Saharan people. Do they go to try to cross the sea? Some might come wanting to get to Europe, or to Libya looking for work. But in Libya they are tortured, imprisoned, abused and many of the women we rescue have been raped. Some are pregnant. It’s a horrible situation. Why have we seen rising numbers of migrants in recent years? It’s been happening since the start of the 2000s but alternative safe routes have since been closed. In the end the
only place seemingly open was Libya, since the government collapsed. But the situation there is unacceptable. Is it also due to Islamism? Among the people we rescue, half are Christian and half are Muslim. They have different backgrounds and it’s not easy for us to identify the reasons. We rescue them, have them on board a maximum two and a half days, we contact an Italian maritime rescue centre and take them to Sicily. What happens then? The Italian authorities provide first aid and shelter. Then they enter this European system of reception. Some continue to other countries but we don’t know about this in detail. But this is something Europe needs to deal with much more than now as it’s being left to the Italian government to manage and find solutions. The country where migrants arrive is supposed to deal with them… so Italy is affected disproportionately and it has strong anti-immigration and eurosceptic parties… Yes, the situation is becoming more difficult. European solidarity, on rescue and doing the necessary minimum of humanitarian aid to these people, is not working properly. Should France do more? As a humanitarian organisation active
in the Mediterranean, we cannot evaluate every country. Europe as a whole is lacking solidarity and cooperation is important. European governments have to find solutions that are supported by their communities.
migrants is aggressive, not humanitarian. People get scared and there is an increased risk of accidents in rescues with interference from the coastguard. Because they don’t treat people well, people try to escape and they drown.
The migrant crisis is not so much in the news now – are you still rescuing thousands of people? We still rescue sometimes thousands, sometimes hundreds of people. Num bers have decreased but that doesn’t mean there are no people fleeing. The humanitarian situation in Libya is getting worse. The medical condition of the people we rescue is much worse. It was terrible two years ago, and it has not improved.
Do you have situations where you cannot get to people on time? There are always cases where the rubber boats are already sinking when we get there and people are already drowning or have drowned and sometimes we’ve rescued a boat but in the bottom were people who had died before, which horrifies the survivors.
How do you identify where people need help? We are on search and rescue all the time, going up and down in the areas where rescues have happened before. Many cases are notified to us by Italian maritime rescue centres. We get a call and we search in that area and often find one, two or three boats. I should also mention that the situation has changed. When we started, there was no functioning Libyan coastguard and, while European governments have not supported civil rescue, they have supported the Libyan coastguards, so there are more units. This is increasing our difficulties as their manner of dealing with
Syrians attacked us in Aleppo, then Daesh... we had to flee KURDISH Syrian Beriban Jamal, 28, told Connexion how she fled Syrian attacks on the Kurdish minority in Aleppo to reach France. I was an English teacher. After my father lost his business and our home when Assad attacked we fled to our home village on the Turkish border but it was besieged by extremists. Kurds were persecuted and it made us easy prey for Daesh who attacked my town and killed hundreds of civilians in 2014. We fled into Turkey. There are more than three million Syrian refugees in Turkey working under terrible conditions, badly paid, with no international help and facing difficulty to pay bills or integrate.
With Islamists all around us, we decided to cross the sea to Europe and went to Izmir, on the Aegean coast. We agreed a price with a smuggler and my brother bought knock-off life jackets but my mother was afraid and got sick so we pulled out and ended up in Istanbul hoping to find a legal way. The French consulate was granting asylum visas, so I applied for my family, but it was almost impossible to get accepted without a host. I thought I would never find one but volunteers on Facebook responded and introduced me to an association to help. The consulate warned of problems with Turkish police who wanted to keep educated people and traders as
refugees to benefit from them and other workers to negotiate with the European Union. Indeed, police misspelt our names so we missed our flight. I booked again to reach France. Association volunteers include British, Dutch, Portuguese and French and they helped us settle everything with a host and start the asylum process. Having fantastic people around helped restore my faith in humanity. Since then I have been living in an isolated rural place and have been waiting for seven months to get the right to work or study. Every step is delayed until I get my refugee status. France has given a lot of people, including economic refugees and
political activists, a chance of a future. I volunteered at Translators Without Borders to help other refugees. In the future I would like to make documentaries about the persecuted Kurds. I know people who sailed by sea: some made it to Europe and others couldn’t; either they are stuck in Greek camps or went back to Turkey. This spring, attempts are starting again, especially after [Turkish leader] Erdoğan and Jihadist fighters attacked Afrin [Syria, near the Turkish border]. There can be no solution unless pol itical powers stop thinking of Syria as booty. Let what is left of Syria live in peace. A no-fly zone in Syria must be seriously and urgently applied.
Were you disappointed by British attitudes in the Brexit campaign? We are deeply disappointed by the reactions of all European governments. There is none which openly declared and supported the rescues. They were hiding one behind the other and too afraid of their rightwing politicians, who try to make people afraid of these people. There is no reason to be afraid of them. They are desperate and need help and support. They need the best possible solution either in Europe or in their country, but we cannot leave them to die at sea or in Libya. Are you still involved in rescues? No, I was the first rescue coordinator on Aquarius, and since then we have trained other coordinators. I’ve moved into a voluntary support position. Receiving the Paris medal must have been encouraging? It was a good moment, to feel the support of the city of Paris and the mayor and I am really happy about it. But what is needed is to work to change the situation so that people don’t need to flee and to develop alternative ways for people so they don’t need to risk their lives at sea. This work is for European governments and we hope they will finally find their way in that direction together with African governments, to improve the situation. They need to end this hopeless situation of people leaving in rubber boats that are so fragile they cannot even reach Sicily and without a way to return.
Dictionaries invent their own franglais
Chatbot, liker and rançongiciel are among new French words to join Le Petit Larousse Illustré and Le Petit Robert dictionaries for 2019. Grossophobie, marcheur, démocrature and Fiché S also make an appearance. PSG footballer Neymar and ISS astronaut Thomas Pesquet join as new personalities. Chatbot and liker are simple to work out but rançongiciel is ransomware, and grossophobie is prejudice against the over weight. Marcheur is a Macron supporter (from his party En Marche!) and démocrature is a democracy run like a dictatorship. Fiché S is a person on a file of possible security risks. Dining also created ‘new’ words with ristretto, pavlova and sauce barbecue as well as biérologie, beer tasting science.
8,000 more police to be recruited POLICE chiefs have launched a recruitment drive for 8,000 new officers over four years to cover retirements and the creation of the police du quotidien community police. Candidates must be aged 18-35 and French.
Eco Zad action targeting up to 50 sites by JANE HANKS
AS POLICE work to clear environmental protesters from the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport site near Nantes, groups at around 50 other sites are trying to stop projects as varied as a nuclear dump, wind farm, holiday complex and bypasses. Militant green protesters took over the Nantes airport site in 2009, calling it a Zone à Défendre (ZAD) – and are now being copied by other ‘zadiste’ protesters. After abandoning the airport plan, President Macron said he wanted to see no more ZADs in France but government figures revealed by Le Figaro show it fears 50 sites could be potential ZADs and that 12 could degenerate into violent confrontations as happened at the Sivens dam site in Tarn where a protestor was killed. There is particular tension over occupied sites at a planned nuclear dump in Bure, Meuse; a Center Parcs at Roybon, Isère; and the west Strasbourg motor way bypass. Officials are also wary of plans for ‘1,000-cow’ farms in Somme and Creuse, waste treatment plants in Loire and Alpes-deHaute-Provence, a huge electricity transformer in Aveyron, a wind farm in Aude, a mine
Gendarmes monitor the protest at Beynac bypass. The map above shows potential flashpoints across France waste dump in Creuse and a Toulouse shopping mall. However, not all sites are violent or involve illegally occupying land as at Nantes. Protesters against a €32million bypass through a Dordogne beauty spot, for example, have been given use of private land as a base. One zadiste there, Michel André, 77, said: “We are not violent. It is not a case of NIMBY as you say in English. “We just want to make sure a jewel in our region is not spoilt.” Paris University 8 geopolitics professor Philippe Subra, who has written a book about Nantes and Sivens ZADs, said some of
the groups were becoming more radical and resorting more regularly to illegal ways of campaigning to stop projects. He said the Notre-Dame-desLandes idea was original and simple, “to occupy land permanently, day and night to prevent any work going ahead. Its aim was to resist any attempt of evacuation, even with force.” They expected public backing as “images of Robocop style police, masked and in uniform fighting young, defenceless people does not look good” but they were also helped because local farmers and politicians against the scheme supported them.
In Dordogne, the bypass will go through a Unesco Biosphere Reserve and protesters – whose average age is 70 – set up Le Zad de Beynac. Mr André said “anyone, either for or against, can visit us, share a cup of coffee and hear our arguments”. However, Mr Subra says that, unlike in Dordogne, more people are willing to break the law to show the strength of their feeling: “With no real strong political party in opposition there is a radicalisation in the way people are protesting now and I think we will see actions becoming tougher.”
Anglophone doctor plea in Dordogne ENGLISH-speaking residents in the Dordogne have launched pleas for a new doctor as one of Eymet’s four GPs is soon to retire and he is one of only two who can speak English and the other is 73, and past retirement age. British expats are said to make up 10% of Eymet’s population and tourism raises this enormously each year with many visitors unable to speak French but able to speak English. Mayor Jérôme Betaille said he will “target the France Show in London in January” to lure a doctor to the south-west. Retiring GP Michel Séjourné said ads by the Maison Rurale de Santé and the mairie had failed as most doctors were in couples and needed work for the partner but he felt appeals to the UK could succeed as EU doctors looked to move before Brexit. Local resident Clin Bond said several people were trying to raise funds for an advert in the British Medical Journal but that costs could reach €3,500. It comes as a study found France has a record 226,000 doctors, up 10,000 from 2012. However many prefer salaried posts to being independent GPs.
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by Brian McCulloch BUYING locally produced food is popular, with polls regularly showing that up to 70% of French people support the idea even though many see it as costing more. But a journalist has tried it and found the opposite – she actually saved money. Seeing that many people want to buy local but do not know how, Le Figaro writer Mathilde Golla tackled the question head on, setting a target of living for 100 days without going into a hypermarket, supermarket, or food shop, including organic food shops. Instead, she shopped at markets, bought directly from producers and tried out fresh vegetable home delivery services usually run by co-operatives. Where she could Ms Golla bought locally, something she found possible even though she lived in one of the satellite towns of Paris. “The big surprise was that I saved money, averaging 10% less on household bills each week,” she told
AUSTRALIAN accents will be more common in Cherbourg soon as up to 150 Australian engineers arrive for training following a submarine contract. Australia is paying €35bn for the construction of 12 submarines between 2022 and 2050 and France is also training teams on how to maintain them. The top ‘Australia guy’ at French industrialists Naval Group, in charge of the project, Jean-Michel Billig, said: “We’ve a dozen years to get the Australians to understand and master our savoir-faire.”
€9,000-a-day ‘pay’ to be on reality TV
A REALITY TV show participant has revealed he was paid €27,000 for three days’ appearing on the TF1 island adventure programme Koh-Lanta. Under French law game show participants must have work contracts and cannot simply be viewed as volunteers. ‘Dylan,’ 23, from Luxembourg, was paid for being in one of the teams which had to ‘survive’ in an isolated location and complete challenges last year. He said the basic contract of €7-10,000 (irrespective of how long the contestant lasts in the show) was ‘not a fat lot’ – so he negotiated a higher rate. He was voted off after three days. As we went to press the latest season of the show was on hold after a contestant accused another of sexual assault.
Connexion. “Anyone who has tried to buy food from markets and local producers will know that prices are often higher than in supermarkets but I found that I saved because there was no temptation to buy ready-made meals. “I cooked more myself, and wasted less because things did not come in a packet which got lost in the back of the fridge. And, because I
cooked for myself, I also found I ended up eating out less.” Above all, she found considerable savings in buying locally-made household cleaning products, or making them herself, and using old tips such as substituting vinegar for anti-lime bathroom products. Liquid laundry soap can be made by shaving soap into small pieces and mixing it with water and good washing-up liquid can be made with a mixture of water, savon noir, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar. “The cleaning products were the huge surprise, and ingredients or locally-made products are becoming much easier to find,” she said. “Not only were they much cheaper but they often seemed to do the job better than the products I used to use.” Her main tip for anyone tempted to try this is to use social media networks. “Whenever I was tearing my hair out wondering how I could cope without something, I would ask the question online and someone would come up with a practical
solution. Obviously, being connected to other people who lived locally was a big help and I found my local contacts list grew fast.” She also found writing down tips, names, addresses and telephone numbers in a notebook helped when wanting to re-order, instead of starting from scratch each time, or having to scroll through her web history and emails. She detailed her experiences in a recent book 100 Jours Sans Supermarché, which contains a lot of good advice. She said the big disadvantage was that sourcing local products took more time than doing one big supermarket shop, and attempts to buy local cosmetics or make her own were not a success. However, she added: “Things have got much better since then. “Even though I stopped after 100 days, when I went back into supermarkets, I found I did not want to buy as much as before. Buying locally quickly became a way of life.” 100 Jours Sans Supermarché (Flammarion €18, French only)
New tasks for postal staff as letter use falls
La Poste is extending again the range of services that postal workers can carry out on their daily rounds as letter-use continues to fall. New initiatives include reading electricity meters, delivering medicines and even teaching computer skills or help with filing online tax declarations. One recent initiative, veiller sur mes parents (watch over my relatives) where the postman or woman checks on older or vulnerable family members, has proved particularly popular. For French tax residents the service allows for a credit d’impôt, with La Poste quoting a monthly fee of €39.90 for a visit once a week or €59.90 for two, reduced to €19.95 and €29.95 once the credit is factored in. A La Poste spokesperson said it does not have figures for how many people outside France use the service to look out for relatives in France but said “we do know it is popular and gaining ground in such cases”. Related services include the installation of panic buttons or arranging for a handyman to carry out small repairs. Unions say seven million paid-for services were carried
out in 2017 and they have been told that the number will have to rise to 34million by 2023. New tasks include teaching (mainly) elderly people how to use tablet computers for €30 or helping people fill out tax forms on the internet for €50. A service called Proxi course, will see shopping delivered to homes while Proxi data has delivery staff reading gas, electricity and water meters for utility companies, and Proxi vigie will signal potholes, complete with photographs to the mairie responsible for repairs. Some postworkers are also now qualified to carry out driving tests while in other areas they help run meals-on-wheels services or deliver medicines to homes. The initiatives reflect the government’s determination to keep the postal service alive as the number of traditional letters continues to free-fall due to the rise in email and other electronic communication. In 2017, the number of letters fell by 6.8%. However La Poste still made a profit of €851million thanks mainly to its parcel delivery service GeoPost and bank La Banque Postale.
The contribution to revenue from the new services was modest, which has led some to question if they will ever pay their way. Potentially more profitable is a bid by its CEO, Philippe Wahl, for La Banque Postale to take control of CNP Assurances, so taking the bank into the bigger league of joint bank and insurance firms. However CNP Assurances has as its majority shareholder the state institution Caisse des dépôts et consignations whose boss has not been sympathetic to the attempted poaching by La Poste, and who says taking a decision “is not a priority”. Another shareholder, the investment bank Natixis which is part of the large BPCE banking group, has said that its holding could be sold but only if the price is right. Meanwhile, the GeoPost service, which in France operates express delivery brands including Chronopost and DPD, has continued to expand thanks to the growth in online shopping. In France it notably has the contract to deliver for Amazon, and it also has branches in most European countries. More expansion is expected into Asia.
Opticians: ‘Cut-price glasses plan not feasible’ OPTICIANS say it is impossible to offer a choice of glasses at the capped prices proposed by the government as part of its promise to ensure good quality glasses are available to all and fully-reimbursed by social security and mutuelles by 2022. They say this is especially the case if they are to be French and offer anti-reflective coatings and
varifocal lenses. What is more it is planned to make glasses reimbursable only every two years instead of annually, meaning fewer may be sold. An agreement must be reached this month. Consumer body UFC-Que Choisir denied the claims, saying French glasses have an average mark up of 233% and are Europe’s costliest.
Buy directly from producers FIND help to buy locally with a range of websites to highlight local producers. Mathilde Golla suggests: n laruchequiditoui.fr – it has 860 sites where 5,000 producers deliver bread, milk, meat, fruit and veg for local pick-up of internet orders n lecomptoirlocal.fr delivers web orders of items like the above, plus beauty products, and prepared dishes to your home in 48 hours n AMAP Association pour le Maintien d’une Agriculture Paysanne where buyers offer baskets of fresh, often just-picked, products, for local pick-up across France n For meat, okadran.fr and poiscaille.fr for fish eaters n Paniers recettes groups such as Foodette or Quitoque that deliver fresh items for a meal that you make yourself Elsewhere, teravenue.com lists good local producers, as does acheteralasource.com and peche-maison.fr offers fish. Use locavore in web search for local suppliers and buy in-season cheaper tinyurl.com/pw62y9t
Seine booksellers ask for Unesco listing for the trade
Photo: Jebulon / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY - SA 3.0
Australians in Manche for sub training
Photo: ©Astrid di Crollalanza / Flammarion
I saved 10% in 100-day supermarket boycott
SECOND-HAND and antiquarian booksellers working on the banks of the Seine want their job to be listed by Unesco. The bouquinistes, who sell from green booths, have existed for centuries but say the tradition is under threat due to reduced sales and competition from souvenir sellers. The actual banks, including the booths, are already a Unesco world heritage site, but the booksellers, who number
around 200, want the trade itself to be placed on the separate ‘intangible’ list, which includes such traditions as ‘the French gastronomic meal’. The association which represents them says this would boost morale and protect the tradition. The LREM mayor of the 5e thinks it could attract tourists. The mairie is writing to the Culture Ministry about the first step: placing the trade on a national heritage list.
French egg logo on its way A NEW oeufs de France logo showing a map of France with eggs inside it will be launched in September. It will guarantee the eggs are from hens born and raised in France and that the eggs are laid and packed here. It comes after the scandal last year of certain imported eggs being found to have been contaminated with a pesticide, fipronil. French egg producers also recently pledged to make sure at least one in every two laying
hens in France is not kept in battery conditions by 2022. This follows pledges from supermarkets, which in turn were under pressure from rights groups such as L214. Sixty-eight per cent of laying hens are still kept in cages.
News in brief Bordeaux-London in 5 hours by train plan A PRIVATE rail company wants to launch a Bordeaux to London service with a trip time of less than five hours in 2020. Lisea, which built and maintains the Bordeaux-Tours TGV line, says the route would bypass Paris. The plan is to begin with a once-weekly trial leading to a daily return service.
Record fraud at CAF
A TOTAL of €291million in fraud was detected by the family allowance body Caisse des Allocations Familiales in 2017, relating to 45,100 cases, three times as many as in 2012. The national director says it is due to progress in detection with 35m checks carried out.
Patient-medic sex ban A DOCTOR has launched a petition calling for sexual relations between doctors and patients to be banned. The petition (atoute.org/n/ article366.html) seeks an addition to the doctors’ legally-enforceable professional code of conduct in view of the fact that many women claim doctors take advantage of them sexually.
Panda is huge draw
THE POPULARITY of baby panda Yuan Meng is set to boost visitor numbers to Beauval Zoo to up to two million this year, from 1.45m in 2017. The zoo, in Loir-et-Cher, is already more popular that the area’s other main attraction, the Château de Chambord (920,000 visitors in 2017). Tourist chiefs say the panda brings in visitors who go on to also visit sites like the château.
Jeans ban for boules
PETANQUE players have been banned from wearing jeans. However, their governing body said it only relates to national championships and qualifying rounds. It says the move is in preparation of a bid for boules to be included in the Olympics.
Cornish saint to join Brittany’s ‘Easter Island’ statue collection A GIANT statue of Cornwall’s patron saint will be on display at events in Brittany this month before coming to rest as the 100th addition to ‘Breton Easter Island’, La Vallée des Saints. A towering 3.7m tall, the statue of Saint Piran is being seen as a gesture of Celtic solidarity. Carved out of Cornish granite, it will rest on a plinth of Brittany granite which will add another metre to its height. The saint will have a disc of Irish granite around his neck representing the mill-wheel which Irish Pagans supposedly placed round his neck before throwing him in the sea (legend says it floated, miraculously). One of its sculptors is Stéphane Rouget, originally from Brittany but based in Cornwall, the other is David Paton, who is Cornish. Mr Rouget said: “For a long time I have thought it would be nice to work on something at the Vallée des Saints. I was working in a quarry in
La Vallée des Saints, pictured here, will soon welcome St Piran (right) as its latest addition
Photo: Kergourlay / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY - SA 4.0
Cornwall, when the artist-in-residence mentioned that they wanted something in Cornish granite and were planning to send a gréement (a old-fashioned sailing ship) to fetch it. I contacted them and the deal was done in a week.” The two sculptors spent ten
months on the statue, much longer than the month in openair workshops on site allowed for most of the valley saints. “We wanted to involve people so we did most of the work on Saturdays when people could visit and ask questions,” Mr Rouget said.
He says the technique for sculpting in granite is very different than that for work in limestone. “With limestone you let the mallet do the work. With granite that doesn’t work; you have to put a lot of force into it.” Titanium steel chisels are used. “Granite has its own
Legal action over Lyme disease Franco-British centre in jeopardy AROUND 300 people are taking legal action against health authorities alleging they have not been able to access healthcare for Lyme disease due to what they claim are faulty diagnostic methods. Although relatively rare, Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, which can easily bite adults and children if they are disturbed in humid forests, woods, or undergrowth. The first sign is often an expanding red rash around the bite about a week afterwards. There may also be fever, headache and tiredness. Joint pain and severe headaches may follow months or even years later. In France the first line of diagnosis is a blood test called the Elisa test. Only if this gives a positive result is it backed up by a further test, the Western Blot. One of those taking legal action told website allodocteurs.fr she had not had a
positive result in the first test, but did in the second (her doctor had agreed to do both). The complainants’ lawyer Julien Fouray is demanding that his clients receive care and compensation, saying that lack of diagnosis or late diagnoses has caused them unnecessary suffering. Connexion reader, Sally Barnes, told us last year how she developed symptoms after being bitten in the Lucq-de-Béarn area in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in summer 2016. At first she said she had a ‘classic really vivid bullseye mark’, and a doctor in Mauritius where she lives treated her with a course of doxycycline, identifying the disease on sight alone. How ever she developed fatigue and aches a year later in summer 2017. People going walking in forests are advised to wear skin-covering clothes and closed shoes to avoid being bitten.
Thinking of buying or selling?
A PROJECT to build a €15million ‘Centre of Franco-British Relations’ at Ouistreham, Calvados, is on hold after the mayor was found guilty of forgery. The centre was the idea of mayor Romain Bail (Les Républicains) and funding had been budgeted for via 40% for the Normandy region, 15% for the department, 25% for the Caen-la-Mer urban community and the remainder, just under €3million, for the mairie. At a council meeting in September 2017 Mr Bail showed an email to the mairie which appeared to come from a British charity, Normandy Memorial Trust, offering £2.5m, an amount which would have given the green light to the scheme, unlocking the funds from the other sources. However the offer has since been denied by the UK trust, and the email was
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found to have been written on a private computer belonging to the mayor. The project has now been suspended following an administrative court decision (the court will consider further in coming weeks). Mr Bail is appealing a criminal conviction for forgery, which includes a oneyear suspended sentence and a €5,000 fine. He claims he was at a festival on the day he is alleged to have written the email and that his computer must have been hacked. The centre was to have 2,500m2 of space near to the Sword Normandy Landing beach and was to tell the history of France/UK relations with exhibition space, teachings rooms, an auditorium and restaurant. It was set to open in time for the 75th anniversary of the landings next year.
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problems and rewards. It is not as expensive as white marble yet has the same property for the sculptor of allowing rough surfaces to be next to smooth or even highly polished surfaces, which allows you to express yourself in a different way.” Saint Piran is said to have taught the Cornish how to smelt tin, bringing prosperity. Work on La Vallée des Saints, at Carnoët, Côtes d’Armor started 10 years ago, and the aim is to have granite statues of 1,000 Brittany saints. Most of the statues are placed high on a hill and can be seen from far away. It opened to the public as a free attraction in 2012 and a million people have visited. It aims to boost the economy of central Brittany and promote the use of granite as an architectural stone, through training masons and sculptors. Most commercial granite carving for buildings has been lost in France and the UK due to price competition from
Thur 21st June 10.00 - 12.00
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10 News in brief
Late-flight travellers miss out on billions AIRLINE passengers could be missing out on billions of euros in delay compensation after a survey found just 15% of those affected knew their EU rights. Delay payouts are worth up to €600 each per flight under directive EC 261 but the claims website AirHelp said 13million travellers were delayed annually and up to 85% did not know their full rights. Travellers in France should keep proof of boarding after an appeal court ruling – tinyurl.com/y85pjzl3
France sued over france.com website A FRENCHMAN living in the US is suing the French government over the use of the France.com domain name, saying it had violated “the Amer
Photos: EPV / Thomas Garnier
A SECOND museum in the Pyrénées-Orientales has been found to have fake artworks. Two Augustin Hanicotte artworks in a Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud exhibition in Perpignan were said to be fakes. It follows news that 60% of paintings at the Musée Terrus in Elne (Languedoc-Roussillon) are forgeries. Police are investigating a possible wide scale fraud.
Marie-Antoinette’s ‘farm’ house open ENTIRELY restored over three years, the ‘rustic house’ where MarieAntoinette played farm life in a rural hamlet so as to escape the royal court has been opened to the public in the grounds of the Château de Versailles. The house and Hameau de la Reine are not as she created them, as they were remodelled for Napoleon’s second wife, but they kept her spiral tower and vegetable garden. Up to seven million visitors a year are expected to see where she taught her children about nature.
Queen’s House has been restored ican right of intellectual property” by seizing the name from him in 2016 to use on the main French tourism website. Jean-René Frydman had bought the name in 1994 for his US travel website and used it, he says, with backing from the French tourist office. He now says he is losing tourism business with no web address.
Pilots buy plane to help save migrants
TWO French pilots have bought and equipped a plane in a bid to improve the search and rescue of migrants on boats in the Mediterranean sea. The plane gives 100 times the view of ship-based rescuers. The commercial pilots have
based the plane in Malta after spending €130,000 on their Pilotes Volontaires agency. It is used to coordinate help in the 150km x 50km search zone. They were inspired by rescue group SOS-Mediterranée. See our interview on Page 6
Memorials set up for Simone Veil ONE year after her death, communes from Dordogne in the south-west to Meurthe-etMoselle in the north-east are honouring Simone Veil, the former resistance fighter, health minister and president of the European Parliament, who died in June 2017. In Paris, the Europe Metro station has been renamed Europe-Simone Veil. Later this year she will be laid to rest in the Panthéon.
Toulouse scientists to check out Mars A NEW geological study of the planet Mars using a seismograph carried into space by Nasa’s InSight lander will be controlled by Toulouse scientists. They will use it to check the thickness of the surface crust and whether it has a solid or liquid core. The probe is due to touch down in November this year.
One in six TGVs late in 2017... a record MORE than 16million TGV passengers were delayed last years with one in six trains late, the highest number on record. SNCF said only 40% of passengers claimed compensation.
Buy a baguette for someone needy BAKERIES are being encouraged to allow customers in Nice to buy a baguette or other product to leave on account for someone less fortunate, in the same way that the café suspen-
du scheme allows people to buy coffee. Charity Op du Coeur wants boulangeries to participate in solidarity with the less well-off.
Ski resorts ‘farm’ snow for next season AS skiers take to the snows on lower pistes in Val d’Isère in June for the first time, several resorts are covering snow fields with insulating blankets... to guarantee some cover for the start of next winter’s season. Alpine resorts saw 9m of snow over winter and some, such as Val Thorens, Savoie, are ‘snowfarming’ snow to create an area of 3,500m2 at a cost of about €15,000. It will allow
Sale silence on Macron photo Photo: Mme Soazig de la MOISSONNIERE
Second museum has fake artworks
them to prepare cross-country trails and some ski runs.
Beware ‘road map’ dodge by thieves GENDARMES have warned shoppers to hide their PIN number if using credit cards in supermarkets after a rash of thefts in which thieves memorise card details at the tills and then steal the card from victims as they load their cars. They brandish a map to distract them and obscure vision as an accomplice steals the card.
France footprint reveals global glutton IF ALL humanity lived in the same way as France it would need 2.9 Earths to meet demand for natural resources. Pressure group Global Foot print Network calculated countries’ ecological footprint and it found France ‘ran out’ of its own natural resources on May 5... a day earlier than in 2017.
29,000 plus miss out on naked art visit
PRESIDENT Macron’s official portrait was controversial when issued as it did not meet usual styles and was a different size – but whether it matched sales of predecessors Hollande or Sarkozy has proved impossible to discover. Questions to his office, the prime minister’s office and the official seller, Documen tation Française, all drew a blank... just like in Creuse where mayors turned the photo against the wall claiming Mr Macron had failed to help a local car parts factory.
NAKED art lovers enjoyed an “incredible” visit to the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art gallery in Paris when it opened specially for a naturist group. Just 161 naked visitors were allowed in but 30,000 names were on the waiting list in a sign of naturism’s growth in France. This month sees the first Journée Parisienne du Naturisme with a picnic in the Bois de Vincennes on June 24.
Minister puts Apple stores off limits fears that school trips to Apple stores were just disguised marketing tools have led to the education minister banning the trips in the name of “public service neutrality”. Apple’s website said the trips let pupils “use Apple products to invoke their imagination”.
Lost painting found under thick varnish
News in brief 11
The Connexion A LOST painting by JeanHonoré Fragonard has been found by an art historian, hidden under 1.5mm of varnish. Called L’Oiseau Chéri, the find was identified by Carole Blumenfeld, a specialist in the work of Marguerite Gérard under whose name the painting had been sold. Gérard was Fragonard’s sister-in-law. Now fully restored, the work is currently on display in the Fragonard museum in Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes.
n Mutuelles have refused n Nationality dossier: me top-up insurance – I Help! Father’s certificate am over-75. What can I do? name has spelling error
Dump the plastic call to shoppers in Paris
n How can I stop pyrale du buis caterpillars damaging my plants?
Speed trap cars are banned in commune A MAYOR has banned newstyle privatised speed-trap cars from his commune in a call for more funding for the police. Although the cars have only just started tests in Normandy, Jean-Bernard Dufourd, of Naujac-sur-Mer, Gironde, used the Code de la Route to ban them as it prohibits any screen within the driver’s view that is not a driving aid.
Chef creates vegan foie gras with nuts FRENCH Michelin-starred chef Alexis Gauthier has creat-
Your practical Q&A
n With the launch of PAYE n Where are the new in France from 2019 how unmarked cars with speed will it work with pension cameras now operating? schemes based in the UK?
Carcassonne artwork draws critics and vandals VANDALS tried to rip off part of an artwork on the walls of Carcassonne after protests that artist Felice Varini’s giant yellow circles disfigured the Unesco World Heritage site. The work, titled Cercles concentriques excentriques (Eccentric concentric circles) was created for the 20th anniversary of Unesco classification to publicise the city. Covering much of the western walls, Varini’s visual trickery can only be viewed properly from one point, directly in front of the Porte d’Aude – the pedestrian gate used by residents – and the view from all other points ed a ‘humane’ vegan alternative to foie gras that he is offering in his Soho, London, restaurant at ‘faux gras’. Made with walnuts, mushrooms, lentils, shallots and beetroots, it comes as he prepares to offer an eight-course vegan menu this summer.
shows just fragmented yellow segments. A petition for it to be removed received 2,475 signatures and the vandalism has been repaired. The Centre des Monuments Nationaux, which controls the site, said there was no question of it being taken down early and that it had been “created in conjunction with our conservation services and will not damage the walls”. Exhibition curator Marie-Caroline AllairmeMatte said Mr Varini did not wish to comment but she said the work was appreciated by many people who felt it gave the city a new feel.
the final cost must be expressly agreed beforehand between the garage and customer, with no further charges allowed. The Cour de Cassation senior appeal court ruled that a €3,200 final bill to fix an oil leak was unfair as the garage had repaired other problems without the owner’s consent.
were better pollinators and harder workers than the normal honey bees. Franck Mariambourg created start-up Osmia near Agen, Lot-et-Garonne to offer bees to orchard owners in spring. He calls mason bees ‘super pollinators as they are covered in hair that helps transport more pollen to help plants fruit.
bees to boost pollination after a start-up said its mason bees
POLICE clocked an 86-yearold driver at nearly twice the speed limit after other motorists reported her ignoring red lights and driving at speed. Police who stopped her after she did 160kph in a 90kph zone were told she was “in a hurry to get home”. She was also caught on several speed cameras as she drove from Landes, to Sarlat, Dordogne.
Car repair costs must be agreed in advance Start-up’s busier bees Driver, 86, 'in hurry' A SIMPLE job to fix an oil leak in demand for farms as she hits 160kph in a car has led to a far-reachFRUIT farmers are renting ing appeal court ruling saying that any mechanical work and
Des res lighthouse with pool for sale at €1.5m
Hugo receives his doctorate at 17
WITH a view out over the Morbihan coast to Lorient and Quiberon bay, the 25m Kerbel lighthouse in Riantec is for sale as a house and lantern-room studio that will definitely not be overlooked. Said to be the only lighthouse in Europe with a living area in the lantern room, the property gives 125m2 of space with four bedrooms (one in the 20m2 lantern room), a pool and sauna. For sale at €1.56million (fees included) through Demeures Marines, the buildings have been entirely renovated and were previously for rent as studio gîte de luxe in the tower for €600/night and the whole property for up to €2,950/week.
AN ESSONNE teenager has become one of the youngest people in the world to be awarded a doctorate... and is studying for a second. Hugo Sbai, 17, from Orsay, studied using a method devised by his two aunts, both Oxford PhDs, and received his doctorate in computing from the University of Lille.
French workers will build German car GERMAN firm Mercedes is to make its first vehicle in France after the Daimler plant in Moselle was chosen to make its new electric car. The factory at Hambach makes the Smart car and Mercedes will secure 800 jobs in a €500m investment.
n What’s best way to get internet connection on boat?
PLUS... Private schools
Costs and standards in fee-paying education
Simple summer food Seasonal ingredients at their best
Photo: Anson Smart
SHOPPERS have been asked to join a protest against excess plastic packaging in supermarkets by buying items, stripping off packaging and dumping it in the shop before leaving. Called Opération Plastic Attack, it uses the social media hashtag RidiculousPackaging and is organising targeted events in Paris with others planned across France.
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Kiwi romance writer plots a happy ending in Provence
Life for a long-distance expatriate in France, such as for New Zealander Rosie Richards, can be challenging. No flying visits home for the weekend and friends and family cannot simply “pop over” for a catch-up. “It’s daunting. It’s such a long way for visits and it is expensive. That is obviously a downside,” says Ms Richards. However, she admits that some of the feelings of isolation felt by a lot of expats are tempered because of her choice of work. “Working as a writer, you isolate yourself anyway – it is a solitary job and I’m okay with that. But I do miss friends and family.” Some friends have already come over to see her in Vence and her daughter, an artist, visited for a couple of weeks at Christmas. “She is doing a Masters in fine arts, and loves working with stone, so I knew she would love it here. We walked a lot in the old town. “We are known as a nation of travellers and adventurers,” says Ms Richards about her compatriots’ itchy feet and desire to experience life in other countries. “At home, whenever some major story breaks in the world, you can almost guarantee there’ll be a Kiwi involved somehow, ready to provide their take on it. “And we punch above our weight in a lot of arenas, if you go on success vs population numbers. Possibly in fiction writing as well as sports. “It’s hard not to be proud of being a New Zealander.”
Rosie Richards’ books are romances and she just loves walking the back streets in Vence noticed a tent for the ambulance service so I took advantage and asked how they would manage a train crash. “A very nice guy said to come along for a ride, so I rocked up to the ambulance station, went out for a night shift with the crew and absolutely fell in love with the job. “It was like I’d found what I was meant to be doing my entire life. So I trained and became a paramedic. “It’s a job like no other and was the perfect antidote to solitary writing, with full-on people and situations.” These days ambulances are behind her, so solitary writing takes place every morning (often in bed on her laptop, she confides wryly) in her tranquil top-floor flat in historic Vence, high in the hills behind Nice. Just 18 months after upping sticks from Auckland, New Zealand – she moved there after the devastating Christchurch earthquakes in 2011 – she is realising, and loving, her longheld vision of a life in France. “It has always been a dream and the earthquakes made me realise a dream
will only stay a dream unless you do something about it.” A life-long Francophile, she took an interest in the language from a young age. “My mother started teaching me French phrases when I was five. They still stick in my head, even though I would never use them today.” She studied French in high school, and despite ‘life taking over for a while’, she always had a burning ambition to speak French well. “It’s the most beautiful language in the world.” Her goal? “I want to be able to open my mouth and not have somebody speak English back to me.” She has plenty of chance to brush up her skills in Vence, spending as much time as she can with French people, joining a marche nordique club to walk to Col de Vence (one of the Cote d’Azur’s famous passes for cyclists), chatting and picking up phrases. “I was with two women the other day – they spoke English to me and I spoke French to them and we corrected each other. They are just so kind and keen to help me.”
Photo: Wkipedia Egghead06
France under the long white cloud THERE are no exact statistics for the numbers of New Zealanders in France. Their Paris embassy does not keep figures and France’s embassy in Wellington could only say about 220 people had visas. The Kiwis who live here continue a deep and rich shared history between the countries, best illustrated by the many Kiwi rugby players in France’s Top 14, among the world’s best-paid players. In New Zealand, too, there is an intriguing Francophile link. The small town of Akaroa – billed as ‘the most French town in New Zealand’ – is in the South Island’s Canterbury region. In 1838, Le Havre whaler, Jean-François Langlois saw Akaroa as a town to service whaling ships and bought the peninsula for families to set up a French colony. By the time they arrived two years later the Akaroa chiefs had done a deal with the New Zealand governor, who declared sovereignty over the whole of New Zealand. In spite of this, the arrivistes stayed on, and Akaroa is New Zealand’s only French settlement. The French legacy is seen in its street names and lovely colonial cottages as well as the Festival Français d’Akaroa and shops such as La Boucherie.
New Zealand is a long way if you miss family
France lures people from many countries and we will meet some of them in this occasional series. Writer ROSIE RICHARDS is first – and talks of her long love affair with her new home town to Justin Postlethwaite It is a crisp, sun-kissed morning in Vence, above the Riviera, and New Zealander Rosie Richards – better known as Alison Roberts, bestselling author of medical romance (category fiction) novels for publishers Harlequin – is talking romance over a cup of tea. Not her own love life but her success in France: “I actually sell more books here than any other country in the world,” she says with a broad grin. “I’m not sure why the French love romantic fiction so much. Maybe France is just the most romantic nation in the world?” Her success is remarkable. She shifts, as industry experts say, ‘serious units’. She is writing her 86th book (she writes around five a year) with many translated into 26 languages. “I don’t tend to study royalty statements but I remember noticing the print run of one book was for 60,000 copies.” Her titles include The Doctor’s Wife for Keeps, A Life-Saving Reunion and The Surrogate’s Unexpected Miracle. One is also in a Japanese Manga version: “You know you’ve made it when you get a Manga book!” ‘Category fiction’ are novels often read in one sitting and Rosie’s ‘niche’ is stories involving paramedics – a field she knows well as she was one (she was also married to a doctor). It was her writing that, 20 years ago, pushed her to become a paramedic. “I was writing a book, my fourth or fifth I think, and it had a train crash in it. I attended a research expo and
French place names are still found in Akaroa
romance gives you. And I like that. Her life in Provence is all about getThat’s the magic – things can get as ting involved. “I don’t want to be in grim as you want but there’s got to be France watching the French people hope,” she says, before adding, with a live: I want to be part of it.” glint in her eye: “If you want to read She takes lessons, reads as much totally miserable endings, read a French as she can and listens to podnewspaper or a Booker prize winner.” casts in French. “It’s hard work and The toughest part is to keep the frustrating to not be able to say what I writing fresh with new ideas. want, but I’m getting better. It’s such a Her time in Villefranche-sur-Mer long process, especially as you get inspired her to set some of The Baby older, but I am determined.” Who Saved Christmas in Her efforts are paying nearby millionaire’s off – she recently gave playground, Cap Ferrat, an interview with Nice and life in Vence is Matin entirely in French. inspiring further ideas. But it comes after three I don’t want “I’m working on a proyears’ work, starting ject which isn’t a categowith a month’s language to be in France ry romance, but a longer immersion course in book set in Vence. Villefranche-sur-Mer. watching “I want to capture how One bus trip took in French people I feel about the place.” Vence and it was a coup Still in the planning de foudre – love at first live: I want to stages, this will be a sight. be part of it standalone novel, but “Walking down these a romance. “Because medieval streets, it felt Rosie Richards still I enjoy them and it’s like I had lived here in a writer what I’m good at I supprevious life.” pose, and in a longer Vence, she says, is like book I can do a lot more with other a living museum – and she cites Eze characters.” and La Colle sur-Loup as other She does not give details away but it favourite places to wander. will be about Scottish girls who inherMaking a living as a writer is not it a house in Vence. “A lot of the chareasy. “When you go into a bookshop, acters will be French but the book will just 15% of the authors whose books be from my perspective of a foreigner you see will make a living from them, getting used to the culture. and out of that 15%, the vast majority “Any character is an amalgam of will be romance authors.” people you know. But I would be very One myth she can at least partially careful not to feature people directly; disprove is that only women read it: that’s an invasion of people’s lives.” “Oddly enough, the only fan letters I It is clear she feels at home in Vence. have got have been from men.” “The thing that captured me first is a She is also keen to defend ‘category sense of peace, which I only found in fiction’ against snobbery. “The people one other place in the world – the most passionate about how awful it is, island of Iona in the Hebrides. are generally people who have never “Then there’s the climate, the colpicked one up or read one.” When it comes to writing technique, ours and the sense of history and the language – everything comes together happy endings are obligatory and she to create something very special.” said: “That is one promise a category
Real Lives / Practical 13
Amour is in the air for couples Social agency who found new love in France has mission to support artists by GILLIAN HARVEY
Going through a break-up or bereavement is difficult wherever you live. But moving to a new place with your partner only to find yourself single is particularly challenging. Moving abroad can put pressure on relationships with “problems amplified as couples try to integrate,” said Christine Haworth-Staines, a Toulouse psychologist and expat advisor. Far from family and perhaps in remote areas, expats who become single may find it hard to know where to start when ready to expand their social circle or find someone new. Suzanne Masters, 49, turned to the internet when she found herself single in 2013. Having moved over at 22 in 1991, she split with partner, Gareth, 22 years later, although the couple – who have four children together – remain amicable. She said: “I actually bought a book called Osez les rencontres sur internet (Dare to try internet dating) to help get started.” First try was with well-known French site Meetic: “It was OK, but you had to pay to actually connect with anyone.” So she tried free site Badoo: “You start with images of people. If you’re interested you look at their profile. Before meeting my current partner, Christophe, 52, I met one other person, but we didn’t click. “One reason I was interested in Christophe is he seemed one of the few looking for love, rather than a bit of fun!” They chatted online, swapping stories about their beloved horses. “After a few days, I had a weekend without the children, so I asked if he wanted to meet for a coffee. He lives 30 minutes away, so we met for a coffee around lunchtime.” Having never met in person, she was amazed: “I felt comfortable as soon as I walked in.” Now, four years on, they live with each other on a part-time basis. “I have a flat in Yonne, and I stay there with the kids. He has a house in the country and I live with him part of the time. At weekends, we all go to his house.” Her children have a good relationship with Christophe – teasing him on his English – and Suzanne gets on well with his 19-year-old daughter and
by SAMANTHA DAVID
New love for Christophe and Suzanne, Monique and Leslie, below left, and Keith and Andreia
extended family in La Rochelle. For Leslie Graves, 68, the move to France was to be the start of a new life with wife, Jean. They bought a property in Haute-Vienne with a lake in 2000, to run fishing holidays. But, just months before the move, Jean was taken ill and died two months later. Some friends and family felt Leslie should stay in the UK where he had support, but he carried on with the move. “I’d sold the house and I wanted to carry on our dream. I felt as if I had to do it for the both of us.” Arriving in 2001 with their youngest son Lee, 20, Leslie worked to clear the lake and set up the business. Two years later, when Lee returned to the UK for work and travel, Leslie was living alone. “I was lonely sometimes but I had lots of friends around me; we used to meet up fairly regularly.” It was through his friends he
found love, with Monique, 51, the twin sister of his friend’s wife. “We met when I collected items for a friend from her family home. Monique had taken a liking to me. “I arranged a barbecue with friends and invited her family and we got on famously.” Monique who is a nurse worked in Paris and after a long-distance relationship for a year they moved in together in 2004 when she transferred to Limoges hospital. Eight years on, they married at the mairie. Leslie said: “For me, continuing to socialise was important. Don’t isolate yourself, get out and about; friends will introduce you to new people. “Or go online – a friend of mine died a few years ago and his widow has recently found love on a dating site.” Keith Greenhead arrived in Haute-Vienne in 2007 with wife, Hilary, planning a long,
Dating sites in France Meetic.fr Search using specific criteria; it has a ‘shuffle’ option. Free, but many features paid-for. MeeticAffinity.fr targets older members
Badoo.fr Scroll photos of potential matches with basic information, then connect and chat with those who wish to get to know you.
Edarling.fr Helps users using an algorithm and personality test. It suggests seven matches a day but photos need a paid membership.
Expatdatingfrance.com Aimed at expats, it is free initially, with a fee to chat. Tries to avoid spam and the cultural gulf on French sites.
happy retirement. “We moved near a large lake, as I’m a keen yachtsman, as well as golfer.” Hilary died in 2013 from emphysema, leaving Keith, whose grown-up children are in the UK, bereft. “I didn’t really think I’d meet anyone else. I just tried to carry on with my life as best I could.” A friend introduced another friend, Andreia, when she visited from her home in Brazil. “It was literally love at first sight.” Andreia spoke only a little English, so an online translation site helped them chat and, four months later, she returned to France for good, bringing children Giovanna, now 19, and Alinne, 13, who have settled in well to their new life. They married last autumn. Keith said: “Before, I was alone; I had time on my hands. Now I’ve got other people to consider. I never imagined a few years ago I’d have such a full life in the future!” It seems, for those who wish to find love in France, or elsewhere, nurturing and expanding social networks is crucial. “Having a social network is very important,” agreed psychologist Christine. “This is not unique to expatriate life; so, the message is that things can work out just as well in an adopted country, it really comes down to the individual”.
he has an exhibition of figurative paintings at the Life Drawing gallery, Montmartre, from June 2-8. Ben is married to Mollie, who is a ceramicist and said: “To register with the MDA we both had to send in large dossiers with photographs of our work, and details of where we’ve exhibited and what we’ve sold. “Mollie’s work is original oneoff pieces but for whatever reason, she was told to register as an ‘artisan micro-entrepreneur’.” Ben is registered with the MDA for his earnings from selling paintings, and also as a micro-entrepreneur for his earnings as an art teacher. “If you earn under around €4,500 doing related work, you can declare it via MDA but once it’s more, you have to register as a micro-entrepreneur. “It’s not too complicated once you’re up and running, but can
DESPITE its name, La Maison des Artistes is not a bar, a studio or a gallery about the history of the great masters... it is the social security organisation that works on behalf of artists. Think Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne or Gauguin and you think of great French artists who died penniless... today La Maison des Artistes (MDA) works to prevent that. It collects social security, pension and healthcare contributions from freelance graphic and modern artists, and/or from their employers. That includes people who paint, draw, produce models of original designs for textiles, paper, table sets, engravings, sculptures, wallpaper, mural textiles, graphics and original ceramics, or works on brass. MDA works with Agessa, the social security organisation which does the same for writers, illustrators, composers, filmmakers, musicians making recordings (as opposed to live performers) and photographers. They combine in La Sécurité Sociale des Artistes Auteurs régime to give people working in these fields access to payments from the family support Ben Brotherton found the set-up complex fund Caf, health with MDA but says benefits can be better fund Cpam and be a bit of a headache setting it pension fund Carsat in the all up because it’s so complex.” same way as salaried workers Ben’s social charges are paid in the ‘régime général’. quarterly, based on the previBut, just as no two artworks ous year’s earnings in the case are identical, there is no ‘one size fits all’ grouping in the cat- of the MDA and based on his last three months’ earning for egories used by La Maison des the micro-entrepreneur scheme. Artists/Agessa and artists also “The contributions are the often sign up to become same and the money goes to micro-entrepreneurs (the new the same place in the end, but name for auto-entrepreneurs) the advantage of being regisfor some of the work they do. tered via the MDA is that you This is because the definiget slightly better benefits. tions of exactly who falls into “For example, you get an each category – and where to ‘indemnité journalière’ which pay social security cotisations are complex. (See secu-artistes- you don’t get if registered as an auto-entrepreneur.” auteurs.fr – in French) He also notes that registering Making an original one-off with the MDA means you have pot for example, could be an to contribute to a pension topactivity covered by MDA/ up scheme via IRCEC, the Agessa, but producing a series social security agency dealing of identical pots, even if to an with complementary pensions. original design, is not. “It’s an added expense at the It can be complex but the beginning, but in the long run MDA gives advice on what to I think it’s advantageous and do, as award-winning British gives you a better pension artist Ben Brotherton found out for his work in Paris, where when you do finally retire.”
14 Comment Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning
French-Algerian journalist who specialises in French politics and the Arab world. Her articles feature in the French national press as well as internationally. She is a regular columnist in The Connexion.
Brexit gives Macron chance to strengthen bond with Germany THERE was more than a hint of confidence in the words of President Macron when he received the Charlemagne Prize ‘in recognition of his vision of a new Europe’. His acceptance speech made him sound every inch like an international statesman who wants to lead the European Union during hugely turbulent times. With Britain on the verge of leaving the bloc, and far-Right nationalism making gains in countries such as Italy and Hungary, Mr Macron used the ceremony in Aachen to outline his long-term goals. He praised the EU for maintaining a “miraculous” period of peace, and called for continuing unity to solve problems at home and abroad. What he did not do, however, was push himself as the politician to take personal command, instead projecting the historic Paris-Berlin axis as the key. “Certain people say Germany is selfish and does not want to reform Europe, I say this is false,” Mr Macron insisted. Restating his objective for a “much more ambitious European budget” Mr Macron spoke of “a more integrated Eurozone”. He also stressed Europe was at a “historic moment” in time as it stood up to the policies of President Trump, especially over the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Climate Change Accord. Just as significant was an interview Mr Macron gave to German broadcasters in which he stated: “Europe is in charge of guaranteeing the multicultural order that we created at the end of World War II, which today is sometimes being shaken.” Now This fits in with the historical progression of the Mr Macron European project when, after a disastrous series of conflicts, Germany and France decided to bury the hatchet is being once and for all in 1945. Their determination to stop fightlikened ing manifested itself in President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signing the Elysée Treaty in to an 1963, so as to promote friendship between ‘hereditary early-years enemies’. Britain has, of course, had a massive influence on the Blair – an development of the bloc too. It was the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher herself election who sent Lord Cockfield to Brussels to produce a coherent winner programme for the completion of the Single European intent on Market, which allowed freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and people. widespread Thatcher was more commonly viewed as a Eurosceptic, reform however, so never won the Charlemagne Prize, which is named after the Emperor Charlemagne and has been awarded every year since 1950 ‘for work done in the service of European unification’. But successors including Labour PM Tony Blair did, as did Winston Churchill before all of them. Now Mr Macron is being likened to an early-years Blair – an election winner intent on widespread reform. “With Emmanuel Macron, a dynamic young politician has entered the European stage, for whom European integration and the common currency are a clear course,” is how one close EU colleague put it. That she was Angela Merkel says everything. In fact, it was the German Chancellor who presented Mr Macron with his gong in Germany. The pair have pledged to agree a roadmap for the future of the EU by the time of a summit this month. Yes there are differences – the Germans do not share France’s enthusiasm for an EU banking union, for example – but there is enough agreement in the general message. Which is that the revived Franco-German alliance will be at the forefront of all new initiatives aimed at determining the future powers and structures of the EU, with near neighbours including the exiting UK reduced to bystanders.
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t is a traditional ruse of political leaders whose honeymoon is over, and who are finding their countries not quite so easy to govern as they had imagined when campaigning, to shift the focus from domestic to international policies. With students and trade unionists ganging up on him, Jean-Luc Mélenchon calling for a new popular front to take him on, and crime so out of control in some cities that he has claimed France has lost the war on drug trafficking, Emmanuel Macron has redoubled his attempt to paint himself as a global player. In recent weeks he has been to the White House and St Petersburg; he busies himself incessantly on European questions; and is now trying to broker a settlement in Libya to give that country something approaching stable governance. This creates an impression of frenzied activity, and reassures the French that their country still matters. However, the true results of M Macron’s global grandstanding are less obvious. He was an aspirational player in international statesmanship from the start, raising eyebrows by asking Donald Trump to France’s Bastille Day celebrations last year. The briefing was that the new French president would be Mr Trump’s bridge not just to Europe, but to a civilized world that mostly believed American politics was giving off a distinctly unpleasant odour. It was as if M Macron alone possessed the genius required to interpret Mr Trump and house-train him. It was not to be. Politics is a dirty business, and although M Macron himself has been known to dip his hands in the mud – ask his former patron François Hollande – he is an amateur compared with Mr Trump. The American president has two priorities far superior to doing favours for M Macron, or any other international leader who wishes to aggrandize him or herself by jumping on the American bandwagon: securing his own position and, closely related to that, doing enough for the Americans who voted for him to make them want to vote for him, and his party, again. Mr Trump, in recently repudiating the nuclear deal with Iran, could not care less that M Macron (like other Europeans) deplores this upset. M Macron was useful to Mr Trump last year in that he gave him the image of international acceptability: don’t forget that another of M Macron’s new best friends, Angela Merkel, more or less warned Mr Trump at the time of his election that the rest of the world would be watching him to see how he behaved. M Macron is very much part of a world order of centrist, liberal poli-
Hanging out with the world’s bad boys is no good for France
tics in which he seeks pre-eminence: it clearly amuses him that he can hang out with the bad boys, especially when this bad boy is such a big boy too. Mr Trump has moved on; a poll shows most French voters fear M Macron is “too aligned” with his American confrère. That is far from the truth: M Macron’s policies and style are nothing like Mr Trump’s, but it shows that he has been damaged by his avaricious association with him. Therefore M Macron has turned his attention to other matters, notably his determination to achieve reform of the eurozone, not least by unifying its banking system. This finds no favour with the Germans,
Politics is a dirty business and Macron is an amateur compared with Trump...
whose coalition parties cannot agree among themselves on the question; and M Macron’s enthusiasm for the EU is not only an increasingly minority sport in his own country, but is rapidly going out of favour around the continent. Frau Merkel, like a doting mother, metaphorically pats him on the head whenever he outlines his various visionary schemes for Europe, but then rapidly changes subject. Clever enough to realize he is being patronized, M Macron is presumably biding his time until Frau Merkel leaves the European stage, when he will regard it as his rightful place to take over the moral leadership of the EU. The institution may, though,
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look very different by then. M Macron needs to put less idealism, and more cynicism, into his political calculations, both at home and abroad. Like centrists all over Europe he has argued for deeper integration – and, indeed he is right. If the euro is not to be a disaster there needs to be not just a unified banking system, but unified systems of taxation and public spending and a pooling of sovereign debt. That has always looked unlikely, because it means the final eradication of economic and therefore of most political sovereignty. But the great Macron plan for Europe now looks as though it will be derailed by Italy, where the new government appears to have a mandate from the people to put a large bomb under the whole European project, starting with the single currency. Equally, Hungary is leading a rebellion on freedom of movement and Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, has formed a new party that promises to repudiate its euro debt and dares Brussels to do its worst in response. When one looks at French popular attitudes in recent weeks, and recalls that half the electorate did not support M Macron in the election, a distinct turn in French public opinion could happen at any moment and, indeed, may already be under way. M Macron seems to make the mistake of thinking that his election last year was because the French public shared his idealism, never better expressed than on the world stage. He was elected because the favourite was crippled by a financial scandal, the socialist party evaporated, and Marine Le Pen remains a minority taste. He would be well advised to remember that, for it is only by operating with more circumspection and less bravura that he will command the respect of his peers abroad – and actually achieve anything at all.
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MOST cheminots are far from privileged, says retired ticket inspector Gilles Carré from Limoux, Occitanie. President Macron wants to match future SNCF employees’ conditions to the private sector as he dislikes ‘special regimes’ ... but any advantages compensate for a difficult lifestyle says Mr Carré, who ended his career training other inspectors. Mr Carré lived in Normandy then but worked on TGVs from Paris Montparnasse to destinations such as Toulouse, Brest or Nantes. He typically went to work in Paris every other day, regularly overnighting away from home in hotels or special hostels for cheminots. “I worked shifts, which could start at any time of the day, it could just as easily be 5.30 or 22.00, a day train or night. As I was at the end of my career I worked almost exclusively on TGVs; otherwise, a conductor works on all kinds of train. “Sometimes I would do one return trip, or one-and-a-half, adding up to a day of sevenand-a-half or eight hours, and when you added in time to get to the train and to welcome passengers it could be 11
hours, with a break in the middle away from home.” The working week ranged from three to six days with two variable days of rest, including no more than 14 Sundays a year. “Every day the hours were different, I could never join clubs or do a team sport. “Meals were often a sandwich in the train when you got the chance and family life was difficult. And for a salary which was not extravagant.” He worked 32-36 hours/week, with public holidays and 28 days of paid holiday. His pay was €2,600 net a month (plus a one-off annual sum of around €1,560). His pension is €1,500. He said a friend who is a retired British policeman told him British public sector pensions were better. “Out of my salary a quarter was variable elements, like bonuses and compensation for night or Sunday working, which did not count towards my pension. “A private sector worker ends up with a pension of about 80% of his salary, but for us it was only around 60%.” Many cheminots take other jobs after retirement to compensate. When he retired in
late 2007 drivers were retiring at 50 and the other workers at 55; since then it has risen to ages 52-3 and 57-8 (although senior management often work much longer). “I had colleagues who wanted to work longer, but couldn’t as management wanted to replace them with a young person on half the pay; apart from jobs needing experience, where they wanted to hold on to them. “Right-wing media only cite the example of drivers, but it’s not honest. They had up to 30% more salary and left earlier [a TGV driver at the end of their career earns €3,500-4,000 net/month with bonuses].” This was originally due to the hardship of the driver’s job in the days of steam. “My fatherin-law did it, in the cold, in the wind and smoke… it was very difficult. He came home black from the smoke.” People join SNCF as it is stable, safe from lay-offs with early retirement and a ‘life that’s a little bit different’ – so they are fighting to keep the benefits for future workers. They strike because “you never obtain good results by negotiation alone: you have to fight. “Unions want these jobs to maintain specific characteristics which go together with specific conditions of work. They’re half-right. If you have hard work conditions it’s normal to keep certain advantages. “For example, I worked standing up in wobbly trains, and now have a slipped disc, and for much less pay than
drivers who are in sitting in comfortable, air-conditioned cabins. If there are privileged people, it would be them. “In their defence, they have enormous responsibility. A TGV can hold more than 800 people and they are responsible for their safety in a train going 350kph. It justifies a good salary, but not early retirement. “As a ticket inspector I had to deal with accidents, assaults, attempted murders, baby deliveries, fights, drunk people… “It was dangerous. One time a man got out a big .357 Magnum revolver... So we had a difficult job, but without the same advantages.” One perk is a special medical regime, including paid-for doctors’ appointments (only while in work) and a one-off €1,000 for hearing aids. Unlike private sector workers, there is no subsidised top-up health policy. Subsidised (not free) housing exists but he never had it. A cheminot also has free travel for life; but second class, apart from management. Spouses get 16 free trips a year. “But 90% of cheminots never take the train! When they’re on holiday they’re sick of seeing trains. Plus on top of that there are strikes and people don’t necessarily live near a station. “I’d give my free travel back like a shot for a better pension.” For the future, Mr Carré said salaries and retirement ages should be reviewed to be fairer between cheminots. SNCF also has far too many cadres (managers) at 60% of staff.
Why pride marches are still needed today
LA MARCHE des Fiertés is in its 41st year. It is always the last Saturday of June because it marks the anniversary of the Stonewall [Inn] riots in San Francisco in June 1969 [when the LGBT community fought back against police repression, with the first marches held in 1970 in commemoration]. It’s very important to us to remember where and why the marches were born. It’s at the same time festive and campaigning and these aspects complement each other. Apart from the symbolic aspect of remembering our history, by enshrining certain demands in the official campaign goals of the march we help to make sure they are on the political agenda. It is affirming. We take ownership of the public space, we stake our claim to be who we are, we challenge gender stereotypes, and we march for those who, in certain countries, do not have such a right. Whether you’re LGBT or an ally, each person finds their reason to join in. We stand for respect for inclusivity and diver-
Paris’s LGBT Pride – La Marche des Fiertés – is one of the capital’s biggest open-air events (see Page 10, French Living) but why are such marches still relevant? We spoke to Clémence Zamora Cruz, spokeswoman for organisers Inter-LGBT.
‘What’s so good about the march is it’s inclusive, whether you’re in a suit and tie or with feathers on your head’ sity. This year’s demands will include the right to fertility treatments, changes in family laws [so there is a presumption of a parental relationship when a couple is bringing children up, regardless of their sex or whose the child is biologically] so LGBT people do not have to adopt their own children, and the right to legal gender change based on self-identification. We will continue to demand an end to persecution of LGBT people in the world. We work closely with the police to ensure
safety. As LGBT people we’re a target for reactionary movements and we still see in daily life that – despite some legal advances – people are assaulted just for being, or being perceived to be, LGBT. It won’t stop us and we will continue to take to the streets. There’s still a lot of educational work to be done to combat discrimination and violence. Some people criticise prides because some participants dress extravagantly, and say they are giving the wrong image, but it’s the wrong way of looking at it. We’re not there to give a certain image, just to be visible. Even in our own ranks some people make such remarks, but they’re based in conformity to straight, cisgender conventions, which we are opposed to. It’s very divisive to suggest there are ‘good LGBT people’ who conform and ‘bad’ ones who don’t. What’s precisely so good about the march is it’s inclusive, whether you’re in a suit and tie or with feathers on your head. In fact we must fight hardest for the right of those who are more ‘extravagant’ because the march is for them a way to express themselves, a release, a way of pushing boundaries and challenging society’s stereotypes, sometimes even making fun of ourselves.
by NICK INMAN “Paris is France and France is Paris,” remarked a journalist on a recent BBC radio discussion on 1968. Forget the rest of the country, she meant: it’s what happens in Paris that counts. Later, she claimed she was being ironic but it is an equivalence you hear a lot outside France: if you know what’s happening in the capital then you’ve got the country sussed. International reporters often get taken in by “capitalism”. They live and work in Paris and come to believe, like generations of writers and artists before them, that it’s the only place to be. Everywhere else is so much duller and the gossip there doesn’t matter. They may make the occasional day-trip into the provinces to gather local charm and colour but basically they, along with many native Parisians, think everywhere south of the Seine is “additional France”: good for holidays but where nothing serious ever happens. And so the doings of melting pot, pressure-cooker Paris are endlessly raked over as if the city were “hyper-typically French”. This distorts reality. The regions’ great diversity and intrinsic dignity is ignored; the world gets the impression of a homogenous Gallic culture and identity; the history that is told is distinctly “Paris-o-centric”. No one is saying Paris is not a wonderful place or that, as home to the institutions of gov ernment, media and culture it is not the fulcrum of French power, prestige and civilisation ... it’s just Paris needs to be put in its place; put into context, lose a little self-importance. The Paris region covers a mere 2% of the surface area of France and while it is densely populated it still has only 18% of the population. In no way is it a typical, let alone archetypal, French community. It is very much a northern city geographically and, it could be said, spiritually remote from half the country. Southwest France is closer to Madrid than to Paris. To the inhabitants of the Midi, Paris is the capital of the Franks and of the langue d’oil (as opposed to the langue d’oc) that only became capital of the kingdom of France through conquest
Despite the world’s focus on Paris, the capital and surrounding region covers just 2% of the land area of France and has just 18% of the population
and often dictatorship. To be truly the centre of the nation, it would have to move a couple of hundred kilometres due south and rebuilt. (That would make a nice project for a president who is truly committed to the devolution of power.) The important point many Parisians (by birth or adoption) miss – and it should be a source of humility – is that their city cannot be understood as a standalone unit, somehow self-contained and aloof in a territory of second-class provincials. Paris depends for every advantage it enjoys on its symbiotic relationship with the greater France, including the overseas territories.
Photo: REVIVALthedigest CC BY-SA 2.0
Much has been made of cheminots’ privileges as the government targets railworkers and their pensions in reforms to transform the SNCF; but, as unions reply with strikes running throughout June, reader GILLES CARRE, a retired ticket inspector, says the reality is not so simple
Photo: ESA EarthObservation
I am a retired rail worker... and Paris is Paris – it is not France I do not feel at all privileged
All roads lead to Paris... but there they lead to the regions Tribute – the best food, drink, craftwork, performing arts etc – is sent to Paris to be shown to the rest of the world; but Paris should not forget that in this sense it is just a shop display for the less celebrated places of authentic France. Paris cannot speak for France or be used as a representative example of things French. Instead, it should be seen for what it is: a beautiful collection of regal and imperial monuments; a cosmopolitan melting pot; an eclectic boarding house occupied by millionaires, students, immigrants, creative types and members of the nation’s various elites. Paris may be the international symbol for the country it presides over but it should not be used as the basis for exaggeration or extrapolation. No one – least of all residents of the city, including foreign correspondents – should ever confuse a symbol with reality.
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Opposition grows over road speed reduction by Brian McCullOCh
IN THE face of protests involving tens of thousands of cars and motorbikes across France, a leading safety campaigner has vigorously defended the government plan to reduce speed limits on secondary roads from 90 to 80kph from July 1. Prof Claude Got, a retired surgeon who specialised in accident injuries and a former government advisor on safety, says it will reduce the death toll – which stood at 3,693 in 2017 – and save 400 lives. Drivers’ groups do not agree. Led by 40 Millions d’Automobilistes, they say accidents are caused by driver behaviour, not speed. They point to the UK, which has a 97kph speed limit and where 1,720 people died on roads in 2017. The Sénat is opposed to a blanket reduction and instead wants departments to use accident history to decide local limits. However, President Macron and Prime
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Minister Edouard Philippe stand firm, saying the cut will be reviewed after two years. It comes as the first speed trap cars run by private companies took to the roads in Normandy in April, a move which further angered driving groups who say that, as with the 80kph speed limit, it will serve only to increase state revenue from fines. Prof Got said research showed 400 lives could be saved with an 80kph limit as it gave more time to react to unexpected situations, shorter braking distances and more chance of recovering control. It was a misconception that rural trips would take much longer. “Drivers spend more time on the road in urban areas due è Turn to Page 2
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New columnist Nabila Ramdani
Summer of misery won’t stop Macron’s ‘Maggie Moment’
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Both Simon Heffer and Nabila Ramdani (Summer of misery won’t stop Macron’s “Maggie Moment”, May 2018), seem agreed that concessions enjoyed by French railway workers and attempts to defend them are unreasonable. They believe that what needs to happen is for the French organised labour movement to be smashed so France can become like the neo-liberal paradise across the Channel. They seem to feel the perks enjoyed by workers who’ve devoted a life to public service are unjust but have no problem with the massive rewards given to mediocrities in the financial sector who nearly helped the world economy into its grave. I look at Britain and see a country that helps a few people get rich while impoverishing the lives of the rest. This has largely come about because Thatcherism destroyed the trade union movement. No doubt Mr Macron hopes that the French will not have learned the lessons. Steve Gelfer, Vienne See also: Rail worker interview Page 15
In response to Connexion’s recent debate on SPA animals on its Facebook page, ‘rescued’ is my favourite breed of dog. I currently have six, five of which came from SPA24. They arrive lost and frightened. It takes time to settle them in. You have to earn their trust and respect – and then the magic moment arrives when they realise they are staying. They all react differently, but happiness exudes from them. I had one who danced she was so excited, she was depressed when she came; another put his head on my shoulder and relaxed – he was considered dominant and dangerous. Hagrid cried he was so happy, sounds daft but it really isn’t, they know when they are loved wanted and safe and each has a different way of showing it, I believe that rescue dogs make loyal and loving friends and after 26 over the years I have yet to find a bad one. Jim Stephenson, by email
I AM a French reader of The Connexion. Thank you for a high-quality newspaper. One point to make on the article Make sense: of French boules games (Connexion, April 2018). A “triplette” is not a set of three boules but “three players against three, with two boules each. There is also “doublette”, for two players against two, with three boules each. Daniel FOURCADE, by email Editor’s note: Thank you for the feedback! We have double checked and triplette may refer both to your definition and to a set of three boules
Another holiday insurance deal I read Judith Torrington’s letter (Connexion, May) with interest as I had looked for decent, affordable holiday insurance for some time. I have a Credit Agricole (Britline) account with a gold card. This comes with (among other things) fully comprehensive travel insurance from Mastercard and costs €126pa. No medical history is required and no questions asked (even for a 72 year old!). Like Ms Torrington’s company, you must use the card to book the trip but it is cheaper than the Mondial one she mentions. The Britline phone line is manned by English-speakers. John Costello, Normandy
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Hospital praise More letters online
Due to space constraints we can only publish a selection of the correspondence we receive from readers on these pages. You can find more letters online at the Comment section of connexionfrance.com
Easy to spot birds of a feather Re: your articles on wild birds (Birdwatching from the comfort of home, Connexion Online, May 18), we have seen many different species at our feeder this year. We moved to the countryside a couple of years ago and noticed many more than in the more built up area where we used to live. Hawfinches; blue, coal, great and long-tailed tits; siskins; brambling; greenfinches; chaffinches; goldfinch; hoopoes; sparrowhawk; red kite; buzzards; kestrels; jays; several types of woodpecker. Plus all the ‘normal’ blackbirds, robins, and magpies. It has been great to sit and watch all the birds coming and going. The number of birds has now gone down as nesting season arrives and more ‘natural’ food becomes available, but we still get a lot tits feeding and occasional finches. David Hill, Haute Garonne During the winter we had regular – three times a day – visits from the following birds: Great tits, blue tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, hawfinches (the very first time here), bramblings and the in-and-out flights of the starlings. The occasional cirl bunting could also be seen. The crows have ousted the magpies. Now it’s spring we have seen the arrival of hoopoes, swal-
lows, a pair of blackbirds, a couple of pied wagtails and still the starlings arrive. There are noticeably fewer sparrows in the hedgerows. But our black redstarts are always here, though slightly reduced in number. And we have our little owl in the barn. There’s always a lot going on... Janina Chapman, Charente
I’d like to comment on the high standard of medical care in France. On a visit to my local hospital, it was discovered that my heart rate was abnormally low. As it was rush hour I was taken by helicopter to the heart unit in Poitiers. Three days later I was home with a pacemaker fitted. In addition, our GP is the best we have ever had. We seldom wait for a day or two for an appointment. Either I have abnormalX xxxxxxx xxxbeen xxx xx ly lucky or this is the norm. Xxxxxxx, by email Roger KIRKUS, Vienne
Disservice done A warning... I bought a STIHL Brush cutter from Leroy Merlin in Perpignan but it did not work. I took it back to the shop and after waiting an hour, was told all they could offer was a repair taking at least two weeks. We were told it was STIHL and Leroy Merlin policy to offer a repair rather than a replacement or refund. Because our French is by no means perfect we had to leave with no resolution. Out of principle I was not prepared to accept a repair to an item that had never been used. David Llewellyn Pyrénées-Orientales
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IN YOUR article Bayeux Tapestry: history stitched in time (Connexion, May) you stated that Harold and William thrashed it out in the Kent countryside. The battle of Hastings was in East Sussex. I am originally from Hastings and lived in Battle Road – and my name is a coincidence. Norman King, by email
I wish to raise attention regarding internet suppliers in France and start a campaign for better customer services. My connection is often disrupted by a sign saying ‘Network change detected’ and my neighbours are also losing their telephone service through their Orange box. When I contacted Orange’s English-speaking department, I was advised to take a screen shot whenever my internet stopped, and to ask my neighbour to contact them via mobile phone. Have others had a similar experience? Bob Adcock, by email
France is not UK, so get used to it Correspondence in your columns leads me to comment on the naivety of Britons who live in France and complain about how life is here. France will never be the same as Britain – the French are different, have developed differently, and run to a different drumbeat. Customer service has not developed in the same way; at the so-called Accueil counter there’s little of the nambypamby British ‘service with a smile/the customer is always right’ approach. One learns to be pleasantly persistent and nothing happens before a handshake and bonjour. I came to France not only for its beauty, but for the general civility and chutzpah of the people; the French learn elements of philosophy at an early age and are confident and
Letter of the month
capable of speaking out and expect us to be the same. We sometimes struggle to escape the Nanny State that has crept into the UK through political correctness; I think there’s more freedom here. I have to say I raise my hat to the sheer brass-neck of French driving and parking! It has been mentioned that the French drink too much and should have minimum alcohol prices. In case it has gone unnoticed, wine is a worldclass industry here. I came to live in a wine region with modest prices and enjoy drinking it, like many of the French. That’s why they have it and they will not be chuffed at the proposal. This is a different country; one has to adapt. I actually enjoy it… Nicholas Simpson by email
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Billed for not using phone
Re: a reader’s letter about SFR overseas mobile phone charges. I too have been erroneously charged for using my phone outside the EU zone. When I’m in Senegal I only use my SFR phone whenever I have access to wifi. For calls and texts I have another phone with a Senegalese SIM card. After two weeks I received a text from SFR to say I’d reached my plafond despite not using my phone! All the calls/
You said it … Carcassonne’s massive circle art upsets locals (see page 11)
“It’s not permanent, so what’s the fuss? It’s not even as if the place was accurately restored in the first place.” S.C. “How can they call that art? I’m flabbergasted! To do that to such a beautiful place is unbelievable.” A.F. “Ridiculous. I think it’s a bit like the Emperors clothes, you are supposed to be an idiot if you can’t see the art.” T.B. “Great idea. I love it. It’s a temporary installation so what’s the problem.” A.B. “Though it is not permanent, it should not have been done in the first thought. It is encouraging graffiti and anti-social behaviour for ancient buildings in France.” L.B-A. “Stupid idea, does not fit the image.” P.P-N.
data I was supposed to have made and used were all made on the same day, the day they texted me! I was charged 77€ instead of the usual 12€. Does SFR charge the maximum it can before informing you that you’ve reached the limit? I suggest others in this situation contact SFR Complaints service, and if that doesn’t succeed they write to their mediator. Andree Roberts-Keen by email
Target speed limit zones The proposed 80kph speed limit on secondary roads is just plain daft if it is more than just a money-raising scheme. Why not use some imagination and incentivise it. Impose the reduced speed limit in the worst areas and review every three or four years. As the problem areas are likely to be the more highly populated, this scheme could leave the majority of the country unaffected allowing a significant budget saving. David Homewood by email
ATM scam I RECENTLY drew some cash from a bank cash dispenser. A young woman rushed ahead of me and stood at the ATM. As I stood, a young man approached holding a map and started to tell me in French his car had broken down and he wanted to get to Montpellier. I told him I could not help and he walked away. Another young man was now at the ATM and the woman was standing to one side. They said I should use the machine. As the retrait screen came up the young man reached past me and retrieved his card from the ‘cash out’ slot, saying that he thought the machine was broken, pushing the €300 button, then hitting 03 on the key board. The screen went blank. The man put his arm round me and repeated the machine was broken and he and the girl walked away with me as I returned to the car. It was only when I got in the car that I thought ‘this is a scam’ and sure enough it was. €300 down the tubes. Bob Wilson Pyrénées-Orientales
w w w. b l e v i n s f r a n k s . c o m
They said it … If abattoirs had windows more people would be vegetarian Brigitte Bardot and Rémi Gaillard
Animal rights activist star and video maker reveal horror video from Gard slaughterhouse in call for abattoir video surveillance
The disappearance of earthworms is just as worrying as the melting of the icecaps Hubert Reeves
Astrophysicist and ecologist interview on his artificial intelligence report
Do we want to be vassals who obey the US? We need to look at how to give Europe financial tools so that it is independent of the US Bruno Le Maire
Economy minister attacks Donald Trump’s ban on Iran contacts
Photo: Infos Grand Lac CC BY-SA 4.0
Tax-efficient wealth management solutions for expatriates
Photo: Humanité et Biodiversité CC0
RE: YOUR article Must I change headlights on British car? (Connexion, May) I brought my motorcycle to France and had to change the headlamps and the speedometer to one with just km/hr. My daughter brought her right-hand drive car to France soon afterwards and had merely to stick beam converters on to her headlamps to pass the CT for initial registration and all subsequent controls. It seems the answer to the question depends on what authority and/or garage you ask. Ian Halliday, Cantal
It’s like we were in the world’s largest restaurant. Some went for meat, some fish, some were vegetarian Khadja Nin
Singer speaks of Cannes film jury decision
A driverless car does not drink or fall asleep at the wheel but that does not mean we will have no more accidents Flavien Neuvy
Car expert explains government’s acceptance of driverless cars at same time it is shown test car ‘chose’ not to avoid killing pedestrian
You can debate and comment on articles we carry on our website: www.connexionfrance.com or via our facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheConnexion Here is a selection of recent popular subjects and readers’ comments...
Lords vote to keep Britons’ free movement rights
“Staying in the wider EEA would be contrary to what the UK voted for in the referendum where’s the democracy in that?” J.H. “European Courts of Human Rights guarantees my life here in France, not the UK government.” P.J. “It is a sad fact that the only people who seem to understand the complexity and dangers of Brexit are the unelected House of Lords.” A.S. “If the House of Commons can overturn anything the Lords vote for, what is the point of the House of Lords? This just seems like an exercise of no power, and a total waste of time.” P.G. “It just goes to show what people living abroad really mean to those who rule the UK.” E.R. “If you want to have all the rights of a French person then get a French passport. P.P.
Public sector worker strike causes industry chaos
“It is like England in the 60’s and 70’s. Bon Courage, Monsieur Macron.” M.P. “The problem is that previous labour governments, in France have succumbed to union pressure, in order that they get public votes at election time. The French think they can bring governments down by striking, unfortunately they are yesterdays tactics.” G.S. “Unions were created to protect workers from exploitation by employers. In France they have become the tool of the socialist party to bring the country to a halt whenever there is a president from the centre or right. This is now the government employees versus the voting public, who want to see a fairer job market for all.” J.H. “No strikes unless 60% of members agree.” P.C.
Warning as tick season enters full swing
“Our one cat that goes wandering has already come back with two large ticks. Our older dog no longer goes out much but has twice nearly died from tick fever.” J.H-T. “We learnt the hard way about babesiosis being carried by ticks, our dog died after visiting Gironde despite extensive veterinary treatment.” S.L. “The first I knew that our last spaniel had ticks was when I saw something attached to my youngest daughter’s ear. I tried to brush it off and it was stuck. Dog had picked them up from a hedgehog I think.” P.M. “In parts of the Morbihan coastal areas the ticks carry a protozoan parasite called Babesia which can cause a severe haemolytic anaemia with red urine.” M.B.
As a state official, may a notaire refuse certain work?
Readers’ questions answered
Send your queries about life here to Oliver Rowland by email to email@example.com
May I inherit part of partner’s pension? MY PACS (French civil partnership) partner died recently. We had lived together in the UK and now France. When I contacted the UK pensions office to notify them of my partner’s death they told me as we were not married, I would not be entitled to part of my partner’s pension. Is that correct? J.M. YOU do not say if your partner was same sex or not but the UK’s position with regard to the Pacs is more straightforward in the former situation since the UK has an equivalent (the Civil Partnership). We checked with the DWP who did not say they rule out the possibility of
your obtaining something in the case of an opposite sex Pacs but equally it could not confirm it is possible. They said you would have to contact them to discuss whether it could be treated as valid in the UK. However a DWP spokesman said where a person is in a same sex Pacs, recognised under French law, they may potentially be able to inherit UK state pension from their late partner as long as he or she had reached his or her UK state pension age. However the UK’s rules relating to what can be inherited depend on the individual’s and late partner’s circumstances. The new ‘single tier’ state pension which applies to
people who reached state pension age on or after April 6, 2016, is based on an individual’s own National Insurance record. In general for those to whom this applies it will not be possible (as it was under the system that existed before this date) for a person to increase their state pension or qualify for a state pension based on their spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance record – however there are some transition rules to tide over the change. To understand how specific circumstances affect what you may be able to inherit, the DWP said you should visit the following site: gov.uk/state-pensionthrough-partner
Free movement rights in Schengen Zone WHAT will happen after Brexit to my EU right to move freely in the Schengen Zone. A.L. IT DEPENDS what you mean by the right to move freely. The ‘deal’ agreed so far only protects the automatic right to live/work in the state in which you are already established (campaigners for the rights of
Britons in the EU are contesting this). That is not to say it would be impossible for Britons to move to another EU country or work in one, but the right would not be automatic. Britons would have to apply to a new country for the right to live there and (barring any special rules agreed in future talks) be subject to stricter criteria
applied to ordinary ‘third country’ (non-EU) citizens. As to moving freely in the sense of visiting other Schengen Zone countries without border controls or visas, a third-country citizen living legally in a Schengen Zone country (with a residence permit) may visit another country of the zone for up to 90 days in any 180 day period.
Will state still pay for language course? IS FREE French language training paid for by the government still available to Britons who wish to live here permanently? A.O. THIS issue came up several years ago when free training was opened up to all newcomers to France (dependent on availability of places). It followed a complaint by an Irishwoman to the Halde rights body (later replaced by the Défenseur des droits) as she had been refused 100 hours of paidfor training due to it being restricted to immigrants from non-EU countries. The body coordinating the training was l’Acsé, whose responsibilities have now been taken over by OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration). OFII still offers
up to 100 hours of paid-for training aimed at acquiring the EU’s A2 (intermediate) level in reading and writing on the basis of people taking a test to check their level. The following page has information on this, as well as a possible 50-hour top-up to oral level B1, aimed notably at people applying for French nationality (which requires this level) and who already have level A2: tinyurl.com/OFII-French However, the government department in charge of immigration procedures said OFII training is only available to third country citizens who have signed a Contrat d’Intégration Républicaine (including a pledge to support Republican values). This includes, for example, those applying for long-term residence cards on grounds
FUTURE QUESTIONS - SEND IN YOURS...
such as family links in France, who are required to attain level A2 in French. A spokesman said EU citizens, who do not need to meet language requirements to obtain residence permits (nor do family members joining them from anywhere in the world) are not eligible for OFII funding but may ask the same providers about training (www.tinyurl.com/ lang-train or in Paris defi-metiers.fr/carto/ linguistique). One provider told Con nexion EU citizens would have to pay for training unless sent via Pôle Emploi because better French may help them find a job. In other cases possible sources of subsidies may include local councils, employers and (for workers) Foncecif (moncepmonfongecif.fr).
Nationality dossier hit a snag: father’s birth certificate has his name spelt differently to mine
CAN a notaire refuse work? I have been told of a case where a notaire would not deal with settling the estate of a family member who had died because he thought it was not worthwhile due to the low value involved. Someone else I know asked a notaire to draw up a will for her estate which includes a house in Romania but the notaire refused saying it would be complicated and not worth it for him. H. T. HONORARY avocat Gerard Barron from Boulognesur-Mer said that, although a notaire is on the one hand a state official, he or she is also a member of a profession libérale and may refuse to act in certain circumstances. These include where he or she considers the work requested requires particular knowledge which they may be lacking, where the instructions conflict with the notaire’s personal beliefs, where there is a risk of a conflict of interest or more generally where the
Poor service from Cpam: what to do MY WIFE returned her Carte Vitale last summer to our Cpam health authority because it would not update but we are still waiting for a replacement and just keep getting vague promises. How can we complain? J.P. THE BEST avenue may be to contact the conciliateur, an impartial service which acts as a mediator between a Cpam and a user (every Cpam has such a mediator). You should first have made a written complaint to the Cpam. If you are not satisfied with the response – or do not obtain one – you may apply to the concili ateur at the address of your Cpam addressing the letter to M. le conciliateur. It may also be possible to do this by email or by speaking to someone on the phone or at a face-to-face meeting; your Cpam should be able to advise about this. You should receive a letter of acknowledgement and the service may advise on other possible avenues and deadlines. You can also find more information including a model letter by visiting ameli. fr and clicking Droits et démarches > Réclamation, conciliation...
Several mutuelles have refused me top-up insurance as I am over-75. What can I do?
notaire considers it would not be in the best interests of the client or the notaire to be involved in a particular matter. Included in the latter category would be a refusal to act where the notaire’s office is unable to deal properly with new instructions because of the existing pressure of work. One might assume notaires could also be tempted to refuse to deal with low-value estates due to the fact that most of the tasks related to this work are billed at an official set percentage rate of the estate. However Mr Barron said a refusal should not be based on discriminatory grounds and in principle should not be motivated by the size of the fee, although it may be hard to prove unless the notaire clearly stated so. If that was the case one could refer the matter to the president of local professional body the chambre départementale des notaires who can appoint a member to investigate as an issue of professional conduct. He added: “With regard to the Romanian house, if the notaire felt it was beyond his level of competence, he was right to refuse the instructions but for a simple will I don’t see what the problem could be.” Under the latest EU regulations, French law would apply to the whole estate, including the Romanian house, if someone is a resident in France, or otherwise they may choose the law of their nationality. However, if the person wanted the notaire to also take responsibility for dealing with the future succession after the person’s death, then that would at that point require liaison with a Romanian notaire for the transfer of the property to the heir/s. Mr Barron said: “The Romanian system is similar to the French and a notaire there would definitely have to be involved but most of them can speak and write in French. “If the notaire here does not want to be involved with drafting the will then there is nothing to prevent the person from writing her own will by hand, to be signed and dated, clearly stating her wishes.”
I have lost sight in one eye – can I continue to drive? AS A result of a cataract operation I have lost the sight in one eye. My doctor says that, as I now have near perfect vision in the other eye, I am able to continue to drive. Do I have to inform anyone of this change? K.F.
IN THE event of certain serious changes in health condition which might potentially be deemed incompatible with driving you are required to voluntarily undergo an examination from a doctor approved (agrée) by the prefecture (this cannot be your own GP) and they will decide if you may continue to drive. The same applies where the condition may not necessitate a ban but which may mean having a licence with a limited validity period or making certain adaptations to the car. An exhaustive list of conditions potentially concerned
Where are unmarked cars with speed cameras operating and will I know if I am flashed?
can be found (in French) here: tinyurl.com/ health-driving They may include, for example, epilepsy, diabetes, cardio-vascular problems – and a number of conditions affecting sight. Where this situation may apply, it is advisable to contact the local prefecture to check requirements and obtain a list of doctors. Form Cerfa number 14880*01 has to be completed and taken to the appointment (you can find it with a search at service-public.fr). It is true that the loss of the sight in one eye is not necessarily deemed a bar to driving as long as the sight in the other eye is good (this may include use of glasses or lenses, if appropriate). Please note, however, that the list of conditions states at point 2.1.1 that a sudden loss of sight in one eye requires someone to stop driving for at least six months.
What can be done to stop pyrale du buis caterpillars damaging my plants?
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Make sense of
Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider, UK Telecom, answers your queries
The new contrôle technique
Q. I have put so much information onto my mobile that I am worried about what would happen if I lost it or had it stolen. Do you have any recommendations?
Anyone driving a car in France should be aware of the contrôle technique (CT) – France’s ‘MOT test’ – but recent changes mean the next time you put your car in for the test it will be subject to tougher rules and likely to cost more THE CONTROLE technique has had a revamp, linked to new European standards aimed at improving road safety across the EU. While the goal is to cut deaths on the roads due to faulty vehicles, the impact for car drivers is likely to be increased costs and more chances of your vehicle failing. There is also a new tougher category of fault which means the car cannot be used after midnight on the day of the test if it has not been repaired. Which cars must go through a contrôle technique? Any car that is four years old or more is subject to a CT every two years. The first one needs to be done during the six months before the 4th anniversary of the car’s mise en circulation (date when it was authorised to be used on the road). No reminder is sent so it is up to your initiative to organise this. It can be carried out at any approved CT centre in France: if in doubt see utac-otc.com and insert your postcode under Trouver le centre de Contrôle Technique le plus proche de chez vous. Like the British MOT test the contrôle involves the checking
of a number of mechanical points for roadworthiness, including whether the brakes and headlights work, that the tyres are not too worn, seats and belts are in working order, the car is not too noisy or polluting etc. At the end, the centre will issue a paper called a procès-verbal de contrôle, indicating the date, the car’s kilometrage and whether any faults were found. It will also place a stamp on the car’s registration document and will put a vignette (sticker) on the windscreen indicating the expiry date of the contrôle’s validity.
without a valid contrôle technique by the date required to have one there is a €135 fine and the police can require a test to be done within seven days.
What has changed? The number of items that have to be checked has increased from 123 to 132 which means the test takes longer and costs more. It now takes around three-quarters of an hour rather than half an hour and on average costs €80 (up from €65). Several of the points checked relate to the brakes and tyres while another, for example, relates to the condition of the windscreen wipers. Also new is that a Our main image contre-visite is now, in was drawn for most cases, paid-for Connexion by (around €15) whereas artist Perry Taylor. it was often previously free of charge. For more of Another important his work see www.perrytaylor.fr change is that there is a new category of fault that needs immediate action, whereas formerly if faults were Where faults are found found requiring obligatory correquiring obligatory correcrection drivers had two months tion, you must have the car repaired and bring it back for a to have them repaired. Under the latest rules, faults contre-visite at which just these may be either ‘minor’ – with issues will be re-checked. no obligation to repair – It is not possible to sell a car ‘major’, requiring a contre-visite that is more than four years old to a member of the public with- in two months or ‘critical’ meaning you must have them out it having had a recent conrepaired immediately and the trôle technique (within the last car cannot be used on the road six months) and, if a contre-visafter midnight of that day if it ite was required, it must have is not repaired. been completed or the date to The latter could include for do so must not have elapsed. example, leaking brake fluid, It is possible to sell a newer car without a contrôle technique very worn, smooth tyres or a crack in the windscreen or a car of any age if selling to obscuring the driver’s vision. a professional. In such a case a specific stickIf you are found to be driving
er will be placed on the windscreen until the required repairs have been carried out. Avoiding problems The biggest headache is likely to be the new ‘critical’ fault finding, so the best way to avoid it is to have the car serviced regularly and, in the case of any obvious problems, have them repaired before you take the car for a contrôle technique. Some basic points to check would include: that the stop lights work, the tyres are not obviously heavily worn, that the brakes are working well, that no liquids are leaking out, that doors close properly and that your exhaust is not wobbly and liable to fall off. No contrôle technique for classic cars or motorbikes Designated classic cars (registered as véhicule de collection) older than 1960 do not need a contrôle technique (newer ones need one every five years); nor do motorbikes and scooters, quad bikes or other light vehicles which can be driven without a licence, or caravans. Other countries’ versions Under the latest EU rules, you may register an imported car in France if it has had a similar test in another EU country as long as it was done less than six months before and any required repairs have been carried out (or it is still within the period for doing them). Tests carried out in non-EU countries are not valid. Once a car has been registered with French plates it is not possible to do another foreign test in the future.
A. We keep a lot of valuable information on our mobile phones these days so there has been a big rise in the need to protect the information from improper use. Firstly, let’s look at help locating a lost phone... The Android Device Manager will recognise all smartphones and tablets which you have connected to its service so you can locate them on Google Maps. Visit this link (you need a Googlemail account): https:// goo.gl/eeMBQf Another useful site is: tinyurl. com/lost-phone-find Here you will find details of apps that allow you to protect and trace your phone such as Where’s My Droid for Android phones (Apple has one called localiser mon iPhone). There are third party apps from the Apple Store that also help so before your phone is lost or sto-
len take time to check them out. If it is stolen you will want to lock your iPhone or iPad and possibly delete data and remove credit card data from it. If it has been stolen it will be important to prevent fraudulent use. If you do not have a passcode the thief could have blocked the phone from connecting to networks and all your data will be exposed. Changing email account passwords will prevent a thief from reading your emails or sending emails. Change online banking and other important passwords to avoid identity or financial theft. Here are some helpful articles that enable you to set up more precautions: How to set up my iPhone: tinyurl.com/iphoneHTSU Tips to Improve iPhone Security: tinyurl.com/7TIIPS Set a Passcode on iPhones: tinyurl.com/SPCII Set up Touch ID: tinyurl.com/ SUTID These guides do not require any special skills or knowledge but can save a lot of heartache if the worst happens.
See uktelecom.net for more information on services in France. T: UK +44 1483 477 100 T: from France 0805 631 632
Euro Sense Shaun Dash from Currencies Direct, answers a reader question on currency exchange Q. With a year left to go until the UK leaves the EU, is the GBP/EUR exchange rate likely to experience more Brexit-related movement? A. Brexit uncertainty has rippled across the currency market since the UK voted to leave. The upheaval inspired by the process has driven considerable movement in the GBP/EUR exchange rate in particular, going from trading around €1.30 immediately before the referendum to lows of €1.07 at certain flashpoints. Some analysts went so far as to predict parity between the pairing in late 2016. While GBP/EUR appears to have stabilised a little over the last six months, trading within a range of €1.13 to €1.15, there is likely to be further volatility ahead as negotiations over the UK/EU future relationship finally get underway. The focal point of these negotiations will undoubtedly be the shape of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Theresa May has called for an ‘ambitious’ agreement with close trading links; if that seems to be on the cards, with a positive tone to the talks, it could see sterling make headway towards recouping some of its Brexit-related losses. That could also prompt a more hawkish outlook from the Bank of England which may give policymakers the confidence to accelerate the path of interest rate rises over the coming year, something that could also lend support to the pound. Whatever the outcome of talks you can be sure that Brexit is likely to remain a significant catalyst of GBP/EUR exchange rate movement over the next 12 months and beyond. If you are concerned about it we suggest you stay on top of the latest developments with the support of a leading currency broker. With regular market updates and a range of transfer options, they will help you secure a good rate and make your money go further. Email your currency queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about making international money transfers with Currencies Direct visit the website www.currenciesdirect.com/france or call +33 (0)4 22 32 62 40
20 Family / Money
At the start of the 2019 school year, education becomes compulsory for children from the age of three. But what will they learn? Jane Hanks finds out
From September 2019, it will be obligatory for all three year olds to be educated. For the majority this will mean going to an école maternelle, although home schooling will be permitted. This is not the huge change it first appears as 97% of children already attend école maternelle but President Emmanuel Macron said making it obligatory was important to allow everyone the same chance to have a good start in education. This will mean children in France start school earlier than those in any other European country. Many others provide optional pre-school education, but for most, compulsory education starts at five or six, or four in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Cyprus. Teachers’ unions and parents’ associations accept the move, but are worried the government will not provide the necessary resources to improve schooling for the very young. But what do children do all day in maternelle? Connexion spoke to Ghislaine Merly who has been teaching young children in a rural school at Marcillac-Saint-Quentin, Dordogne, for the past 15 years. She, like all her colleagues, is a qualified teacher who can teach at all levels of primary school, including the four maternelle classes: Toute Petite Section (age 2-3), Petite Section (3-4), Moyenne Section and Grande Section (4-5). This year she is teaching GS together with the first year of école élémentaire, CP (age 5-6). Another teacher has a class with the other maternelle sections. All maternelle classes have an assistant to help them, known as an ATSEM (Agent Territorial Spécialisé Des Ecoles Maternelles). They help with workshops, prepare activities, take children to the toilet and work under the guidance of the teacher. Mrs Merly described a typical day, similar but not identical in all schools: “Our main aim is to make sure school is
Photo: Commune du Val d’Ajol / CC BY 2.0
What happens at école maternelle?
School trips are an important part of the learning process in maternelle as enjoyable as possible for the children and that they are in an environment which makes them want to learn. “To begin the day there is a 20-30 minute welcome period when children are allowed to play and parents can come into the classroom to make the transition from home to school easier. “After that the morning, which is three hours long, is divided into periods of 20 minutes for the youngest and 30 minutes for GS, as any longer and they loose interest. “We start with activities such as playdough or painting with a maximum of six for each workshop. “Then we talk about the date, the season, whether it is anyone’s birthday, etc, to work on the notions of time at the level appropriate for each age. “After that there are a series of different activities and the children pass from one to the other as their session ends. These can be artistic, motricity activities, singing, listening to stories, we go to the salle des fêtes and do activities like running, jumping, throwing, and we have a period when they can choose from a variety of trays which are set out with different games for individual activities to encourage autonomy. “Our activities are related to learning to read, write and mathematics later on. For example, they will learn the differ-
ence between straight lines and curves for writing. We might ask children to stand straight and take a photo and show them they have made an ‘I’. “They will then make that form with playdough, with paint, with building bricks and so on with other letters. We will give them games with tweezers to pick up small objects and explain we are making their hands strong so they can write more easily later. “Language is very important and we read stories and then discuss them. “During the morning there is one playtime. Then there is lunch and afterwards a siesta for the youngest, which lasts from around 13.30-15.15. At that time GS will do other activities, maybe science. After the siesta there are gentle activities until it is home time.” Staff and pupils at Marcillac-SaintQuentin, have just moved into a new building and have introduced the flexible seating method, with different areas in the classroom and even some bouncy balls to sit on so the children do not have to sit in the same place all day. Mrs Merly welcomes the government’s decision: “Maternelle is very important. Many children do not have parents who read them bedtime stories and as it has been shown that vocabulary is crucial for success in school later on. It is important that all children have access
to learning language early.” When we asked readers for their experiences of école maternelle, the majority said it had been good for their children, though there was concern that school so young would not suit everybody, especially those with conditions such as autism. Suzanne Clarke, from the Charente, came to France 20 years ago when her four children were under six: “We were the only English family but the school was fantastic and understanding about the siesta as my son was a poor sleeper. “It was very good for their language and they were fluent in six months. It meant they learnt to be in a social situation early and as my husband and I were working on our farm it meant we were happy as we knew the children were safe.” Michaela Brennan, from Carcassonne, sent her daughter to school in September 2017 just after her third birthday. She says she thinks she is better off at school than at home: “My sister in the UK cannot understand sending children to school so young but I think Caitline is learning far more than if she was with me. “She is learning to be with other kids and loves having new friends. She eats in the canteen and tries different foods that she would say ‘no’ to at home. “Before she went, she could understand French but would not speak. After two to three weeks she did. She has been on wonderful trips including the cinema, a zoo and picking apples in an orchard. “The siesta has not been a problem because she is a big sleeper, but children who don’t want to sleep do not have to and can play quietly in another room. “She has even started learning to write her own name. And when she comes home from school we have lots to talk about.” A government spokesperson told Connexion there were no plans to increase teacher numbers at present, despite concerns over class sizes, but it should not be necessary as numbers of children at school are set to decrease significantly over the next three years. She also said a law would have to be passed to make schooling at three obligatory, but it was very unlikely to be opposed as schooling at a young age is already socially acceptable in France.
Free dental checks extended to age 24 YOUNG people in France are now entitled to one free dental health check every three years from age 6 to 24. Up to now, free checks have been available for children aged between six and 18, but have now been extended to include France’s 1.5million people aged 18 to 24, who will receive a free voucher, valid for a year, to cover the cost of a check-up. We would love to hear from you... Families who move to France with young children often worry that their children may find it hard to find work when that time arrives, particularly if they live in a rural area. We’d like to tell the stories of some of those ‘children’ who are now working and how they found a job. Send your story to email@example.com
Daily grammar and arithmetic lessons
FIFTEEN minutes of mental arithmetic and daily dictation and grammar lessons are part of new government guidelines to teachers aimed at improving pupils’ falling academic levels. Education minister JeanMichel Blanquer’s desire to ‘get back to basics’ also includes studying 5-10 books a year and learning times tables by heart. The 130-page booklet of instructions is aimed primarily at primary school teaching.
Ensure you are insured to fly drone AS INCREASING numbers of people buy flying drones for leisure use, insurers have warned of the risks they face if the drone accidently damages another person’s property. The Fédération française de l’assurance advises drone fanatics to ensure that their multi-risk home insurance includes aeromodelling cover, which would indemnify them for any damages caused if their drone crashes and damages property belonging to a third party.
Pay flat rate tax or none at all... which would you prefer? Money Matters
Robert Kent of Kentingtons explains. www.kentingtons.com We have, for a long time, had the option of fixed rates of tax on investment income in France, known as PFL or prélèvement forfaitaire libératoire, or the choice of having the income taxed at income tax scale rates. These flat rates may be applied to certain kinds of savings; such as savings accounts, life insurance bonds (known as assurance vie) and some dividends. Under the first budget of President Macron’s new government, this has been “simplified” (his words not mine). Fixed rates have now been altered (or extended, depending on your point of view). The headline on its release was that the new flat tax rate would be 30%! Simple or simply
horrific? It begs the question: does PFL now stand for Punitive Financial Liability? The good news is that the actual tax rate for the prélèvement forfaitaire unique is 12.8%, not 30%; the remainder coming from social charges, which are now 17.2% (... and as any French national will comment, there is nothing at all ‘social’ about them). Is this better or worse? It really depends on your situation but for many it will even out, it may make little or even no difference. If we look at the rates previously applied to assurance vie investments, these started at 35%, reducing to 7.5% after eight years. So switching to the new 12.8% tax rate looks like a 5.3% increase for the long-term investor. Again, it very much depends on the income situation. Take a couple who draw an income of, let’s say, €60,000 from an assurance vie and it is their only income, the taxable income on this may be very much less than the sum withdrawn. Much of any withdrawal is “deemed” as return of your capital and not taxed. It may be that the
taxable income is just €20,000. The marginal tax rate on this for a couple would be 0% as they do not pay tax below €27,530, including the allowance called the décote. So, as you have a choice, why pick tax at source? This is where a bit of financial planning, foreseeing when and how you take income, can have a significant impact on how much tax you pay. Of course, people with other significant income may be pushed into the higher bands and so 12.8% starts to look good, especially at the higher end, but even against 20%, as it produces a significant saving. Is it as simple as Mr Macron claimed? Let’s just say that I view it as a missed opportunity, as unnecessary complications remain: With relation to assurance vies – those with below €150,000, for an individual, or €300,000, for a couple, must (there seems to be no choice) continue on the old system, thus 35%, 15% and 7.5%. Those with above €300,000 who invested prior to September 2017 also continue on the old system but only for funds added before that date. If
the policyholders add money after September, then that gets assessed under the new system. Are the investment companies who are going to have to manage and explain this mess happy that Mr Macron was so kind as to make life simple for them? C’est simplifié à la Française! This is a typical French way of ‘simplifying’ things but it is still possible to pay low tax in France. You can see why I see it as a missed opportunity to actually make it simple. For new investors, the new fixed rate means nothing to fear, as it is actually simple (if you invest €150,000 / €300,000) as the 12.8% is an easy choice. Of course, how you pay social charges is different and they can be avoided / delayed, depending on another set of overly complicated rules, but this is not an article about social charges, so I will not cover the topic here. This is where some illustrations / projections of expected income are essential when planning income and how and where you take it; avoiding any kind of fix!
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FRANCE’S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER
+ Musical events for all + One-pot supper dishes + Tale of the pink pomme + Brittany sketchbook + David Lebovitz talks
A CULTURAL GIANT How André Malraux went from bac failure to being buried in the Panthéon
2 Musical France
French Living I June 2018
Streets and theatres alive with the sound of music France is a very musical country, with a rich lineage of composers and performers. It also provides countless opportunities to enjoy live shows. Samantha David reveals her favourites
Photos: Arthur Viguier; Metzner
usic occupies a special place in France whether it is folk, classical or pop, and many styles are associated with specific regions. The troubadours of Toulouse; the Burgundian school of music, the chansons of Poitou, the valse musette of Paris, Basque and Breton folk music, Corsica’s own brand of traditional music, Carpentras (Vaucluse) where the first French opera was produced... the list is endless. The Fête de la Musique on June 21 will be a wonderful opportunity to discover local musicians and their music, and France being France, the festivities will inevitably be extended across the following weekend...
Toulouse was for centuries the centre of the romantic courtly lyric poetry written and performed by troubadours to the accompaniment of a lyre. In 1323, seven wealthy citizens, who later became known as the ‘seven troubadours’ despite not being musicians or performers themselves, created a poetry competition. It was open to troubadours, and minstrels from anywhere, but they had to write in the langue d’Oc (Occitan) rather than the langue d’oïl which was used in Paris. They called themselves the Compagnie du Gai Savoir (The Company of Gay Learning) and the prize they offered was a golden violet, which was duly awarded at the contest held in May the following year. Over time various other flowers were added to the prize list, and in 1694 the organisers changed their name to the Académie des Jeux Floraux. The academy was disbanded during the Revolution but was re-established in 1806 and in 1895 entrants were allowed to write in either Occitan or French. Victor Hugo won in 1820 (at the tender age of 17) and François-René de Chateaubriand won in 1821. The competition is still in existence today, although chanson takes second place to literature. Toulouse, however, boasts a positive rainbow of music festivals, concerts and other events including the flamenco festival in March, the Rio Loco festival from June 14 to 17 (this year highlighting the Cuban rumba), the Siestes Electroniques from June 27 to July 1), the Tango postale festival from June 29 to July 8, and throughout July and August the city throbs with music. The Toulouse d’été festival takes place all over town; 50 events covering every conceivable style of music, classical, jazz, world music, rock, folk, chanson, etc...
many of them free. (See toulouserete.org for the full programme.). In September, Piano aux Jacobins, France’s largest piano festival takes place at the Jacobin Monastery (see pianojacobins.com) and in October the city’s impressive collection of organs comes to life with Festival Toulouse les Orgues (toulouse-les-orgues.org). But it is not just festivals. The third weekend of September Toulouse attracts around 65 guitar-makers from all over France for the Salon de la Lutherie. Guitarmakers also come from as far afield as India and Chile. The events diary in Toulouse is also crammed with concerts and courses, music lessons and open mic events, dances and balls, shows and exhibitions.
Traditional folk music in Brittany is deep rooted in history and alive and kicking today, as witnessed by the Interceltique festival in Lorient, Morbihan in south Brittany. One of France’s largest music
Clockwise, from above: Jazz in Vienne looks stunning at sunset; Pipers parade at the Interceltique festival in Lorient, Brittany; Also in Brittany, a musician plays a biniou, a small, indigenous bagpipe
Wherever you go you will find connections to France’s musical heritage
festivals, it has been going for nearly half a century and this year is expected to attract around 700,000 visitors between August 3 and August 12. This year, the special guest country is Wales (Manic Street Preachers are playing), and it will be a great chance to discover many of the instruments and music forms unique to Celtic music. Kan ha Diskan is a call and response type of vocal music, which often accompanies dance music. A lead singer, a kaner sings a phrase which is then repeated by the diskaner with slight changes. A kan ha diskan can last anywhere from five to 20 minutes and are often performed at a fest-noz or ‘night-party’. Kantikoù are vocal hymns accompanied by instruments including the Celtic harp, pipes and organ. Gwerzioù and sonioù are laments and ballads which are often performed a cappella by a solo singer, and often recount tragic events like murders, wars and, of course, lost love. Chants de Marins are shanties about shipwrecks, drowning and life at sea, often accompanied by the fiddle and/or accordion. With its extensive coastline and seafaring traditions, these songs can be heard all over Brittany, not just at festivals, although of course there is also a shanty festival. (In Paimpol, every two years; the next one is August 2-4 2019.) Traditional instruments include the Celtic harp, which has been common in
Brittany since the Middle Ages, the violon (which can be either a fiddle or a violin) and a six key clarinet called a treujenn-gaol – which means ‘cabbage stalk’. Guitars, wooden flutes and accordions are also popular as are two types of indigenous bagpipes; the veuze and the smaller biniou which is often played alongside the bombarde. The bombarde dates back to the 15th century and is a curious instrument; loud and often quite raucous, it has the advantage of being heard from a mile off, even above the noise of a large outdoors dance. Since the 1970s there has been a very vigorous folk revival in Brittany and now there are bands which mix all sorts of other musical styles, but especially pop and rock, to produce updated music which still reflects the history and tradition of Breton folk music.
The accordion music associated with the Parisian bal musette contributed hugely to the popularity of the film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, and is often used by filmmakers to set a scene in Paris even before a character arrives there. It only developed in the 1880s, however, when a wave of workers from Auvergne arrived in Paris and opened their own cafés and bars where customers danced the bourrée to music played on a bagpipe called a musette and a often a hurdy-
Musical France 3
June 2018 I French Living
Photos: OT Paris/Amelie Dupont; D. Reebmann
Photo: Jack Fossard
Diverse offerings, from country to classical There is such an eclectic range of festivals and concerts to enjoy that music lovers are spoilt for choice in France
gurdy. The style was taken up by Italian Parisians who played the accordion and who introduced the waltz and the polka to the repertoire. By the end of the 19th century three types of bal musette had evolved; the Auvergne-style bals des familles, the Italian-style bals musette populaires and the bals de barrière which were regarded as very dodgy indeed. The French upper crust were fascinated, however, and used to go slumming hoping for excitement and even scandal. Bal musettes were popular because the dances were easier to learn, took less space and were often more intimate, more sensual. Dances like the tango-musette, the paso-musette and the valse-musette developed, all of them simpler forms of their classic versions. An original dance also appeared: the java. Entrance was usually free but dancers had to buy dance tokens from the bar which were collected during the dance. After the Second World War, bals musettes fell out of fashion but were soon revived and are now enjoying increased popularity all across France. Today, Paris Bal organises regular dances with live music, some on a péniche (Parisian river boat). Most of the dancers are locals, but tourists are beginning to discover the pleasures of the bal musette too, partly because it’s so authentically French.
France has produced a long list of world-class musicians and composers, and the country is dotted with their homes and birthplaces, so visiting them would take you to almost every part of the ‘hexagon’. Honfleur is the birthplace of Erik Satie, the idiosyncratic but hugely influential composer of the Gymnopédies. The museum there, Les Maisons Satie,
in the house where he was born and raised, is suitably quirky, full of amusing artworks explaining the various moods of his work. It is as witty and interesting for those who know nothing about him as it is for his fans, giving an insight into his chaotic lifestyle, complicated emotional state, and intellectual courage; almost no-one else has ever succeeded at overturning all rules on writing music and still produced such memorable composition. One of the best-loved rooms contains a white piano which automatically plays some of Satie’s most popular works.
A rich musical heritage
The theme from Carmen, composed by Georges Bizet, is amongst the best-known tunes in the world, and he, along with musicians such as Hector Berlioz, Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns and Claude Debussy, are household names. French cabaret stars like Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett became mainstream stars, as did stars of French chanson: Juliette Greco, Mireille Mathieu, Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, and Charles Aznavour. Serge Gainsborough worked in styles ranging from jazz through disco to hip hop. In the 60s, the French style yé-yé evolved, bringing new stars into the spotlight including Johnny Hallyday, Eddy Mitchell, France Gall, and Sylvie Vartan. French musicians including David Guetta have always been amongst the world’s leaders when it comes to electronic music and French pop and rock stars are too numerous to mention, so wherever you go you will always find connections to France’s musical heritage.
he Fête de la Musique on June 21 is only one reason to celebrate this month. The summer music festival season kicks off in style with the massive hard rock Hellfest in Clisson (2224 June), and Jazz à Vienne (28 June-July 13) amongst the biggest offerings – and very fine both these events will be. Some local festivals are just one-day events, others have grown into weekend jamborees, and yet others stretch over several weeks. Some are free, some are paying. Many consist of a series of concerts in venues all over town, and others are fullon events where you go and camp out for the duration. If sleeping under canvas doesn’t appeal however, and you do it far enough in advance, you can always book a room in the area. To avoid parking woes, either book somewhere within walking distance or ensure that you can get a lift. The other option is to take a camper van (or hire one) as most festivals have dedicated parking areas for them. If you have never been camping at a festival, however, why not try it this June? It is an experience not to be missed and who knows – you might just like it. Take plenty of mosquito repellent, sunscreen, loo roll, clothes for whatever the weather might do, wellies as well as flip-flops, and prepare to relax and get dusty! The Festival Solidays (June 2224) at Paris-Longchamp features 80 concerts packed into one weekend. The music on offer ranges from David Guetta to Daddy Reggae Sound Truck – and the whole thing is in support of AIDS charities, making it virtuous and feel-good as well as a whole lot of fun. On the same weekend, the Country Festival at Thomas Ranch (22-24 June) near Angers is as quirky as they get. There will be a second-hand Western saddle sale, a mechanical bucking bull, line dancing, country music concerts, motorbike rides, riding displays, and a homage to Johnny. (Hallyday of course! Who else?) Dress code = a cowboy hat and chaps. Trad en Fête (June 8-10) in La ChapelleNaude (Saône-et-Loire) has been running for 36 years offering traditional French folk
music and dancing. It is small, the crowd is only around 1,000 people and most of them are musicians and dancers, so you will not be swamped by crowds. There will be concerts and dances, of course, but also workshops where you can see how traditional instruments are made, dance classes, open mic sessions until late into the night, as well as food stalls and a bar. The festival aims to shun single-use plastics in favour of more green alternatives. The Festival de Jazz Manouche (June 1517) offers free concerts in the Salle Polyvalente in Zillisheim (Alsace, inset) along with a bar, food stalls and stands in the village square. You can buy a Spanish guitar from the person who made it, practice your playing, join in with the impromptu sessions, dance and go to the free concerts held throughout the weekend. This is not a ticketed event so accommodation is up to you. Find a room locally or book into a campsite. Whichever way it goes, this is the place to discover the musical gypsy in your soul. If camping is not your style and you prefer to cherry-pick your favourite artists, try the festival in Nîmes (June 17-July 22). It is in fact a series of massive concerts by headline acts, staged in the 3,000 yearold Roman arena which graces the centre of the city. (Take a cushion because the seats are the very same stone benches used by Roman spectators.) This year the lineup includes Simple Minds, Texas, Marilyn Manson, Julien Clerc, I AM, Lenny Kravitz, Jamiroquai, Indochine, Sting, and Norah Jones, amongst others. For something less exalted and altogether more quirky, try the Europavox Festival in Clermont-Ferrand (June 28-July 1st) which features all kinds of different music – 50 different bands from 20 European countries, as a way of highlighting music from all over Europe. The largest venue holds 6,000 people which means the scale remains human and some events are free. 80% of the acts come from outside France, and for many of them, it’s their first performance in France, which makes the atmosphere redolent of Eurovision but without the glitz. Who knows what you might end up listening to? Whatever happens, it will be a blast.
French Living I June 2018
“It still excites me to know that I am making people happy and healthy” from a huge mix of cultures. Things are beginning to change here though. Has the UK’s bad reputation ever made it difficult to get clients? No, not at all and most of my clients are French. Some of them are not used to having a chef à domicile, a home chef, and are intrigued by it. Recently, I cooked for the local mayor. He wanted to know what he had to do. In fact it is very straightforward. I sent him a choice of menu, which I made sure was not too far out of the norm. I gave him three choices for each course and he chose the most classic, for example Tarte Tatin for dessert rather than Parfait. Both he and the guests were very taken with the meal and the mayor has asked if I am available for a village event later on in the year.
llie Timberlake is an Anglo-Jamaican chef who was trained in the UK but has worked in France for the past 25 years. She works as a “home” chef catering for private and business clients, for events such as weddings and also runs cooking courses. She is based in Burgundy in the village of Accolay, Yonne. She says that cooking in France is a real pleasure: “I really love it. There are so many aspects. Each meal I create is different and even if I write down a recipe, there is always something that means it is never quite the same. “After all this time working as a chef, it still excites me to know that I am making people happy and healthy through my food. Trying new ingredients and dishes, creating cooking, sharing and tasting, is the most wonderful part of my daily life.” Why did you come to France? When I left school I didn’t know exactly what to do; but I wanted to do something in the arts, like photography. But my mother said that was not a proper job and I liked cooking so why not do that? She was a typical Jamaican mother and she actually did nearly all the cooking but I loved watching her, so I applied to catering college in Sheffield and got my chef ’s diploma. In my last year I did a three-month internship in France and loved it and that made me want to go back later. After college I worked in Bath and then in Edinburgh, but I wanted to travel so I looked in The Lady magazine and there was an advert to work on barges in France. It was a big change because on the boats you are alone in the kitchen and have to do everything; planning, buying, cooking, preparing veg and it was for 14 passengers and six crew so that was 20 people each time. So it was a huge learning curve. In college we had been taught to allow 250g of meat per person, but I soon learnt that was far too much, especially as there were three other courses. I stayed there for three seasons and it was a fabulous and a different way to see France. I then went back to the UK to do business
How would you describe your style of cooking? At catering college we were taught classic French cooking and I like to take that but make it lighter and use local ingredients with a touch of the Mediterranean such as using olive oil. I add a few little touches from my Jamaican background. I like using the Pimento berry (also called allspice), which is used for everything in Jamaica, not just for eating, but it is also added to rum and used for medicinal purposes. I always have a few berries added in with my pepper and I like serving it with foie gras. The food I make is described as fresh, yet rustic and comforting yet, vibrant.
studies in Oxford with the idea of running my own hotel or restaurant one day. But I kept getting pulled back to the boats and France. I still do work for them from time to time. On one of your visits back you met your husband and that means you are now based in Burgundy, and run your own business. What are the advantages of cooking in France? One good thing about being here is that eating is still seen as important. The French take time to eat and we as Brits can learn from them. We all have busy schedules, here too, but the French will always stop for a proper leisurely lunch. For a chef, it is a luxury, to have clients who take their food seriously. Another aspect I love is being able to use local ingredients and to get to know my suppliers. I go to the local markets, and I have a chicken man and a pork man and they will really try to do their best for me. Before Christmas, I wanted two capons, but everyone said it was too early in the season. So I went to my supplier in the
market and he said come up to my farm and we’ll see what we can do. He found two, which were a bit smaller than they would have been later on but it was perfect. I have a wedding later this year and will need goats cheese in quantity so I have spoken to the cheese stall in the market and they will make sure there will be enough for me when I need it. I feel blessed to be in a place where I have that contact and all the ingredients I need are here.
The food I make is described as fresh, yet rustic and comforting yet vibrant Ollie Timberlake
French trained chefs in the UK are in high demand because of the gastronomic reputation of France. However, the French still think the British are lousy in the kitchen. Is that fair? No, and I don’t know why there is still that bad reputation when I think of all those wonderful restaurants and chefs I love in the UK, like Ottolenghi and the River Café. You can still maybe get a better deal here with really good food at low prices such as the Les Routiers basic menus, but then again, I have friends who have told me that they eat really good pub meals in the UK which are not expensive. England is in fact so far ahead, and benefitting
What do you particularly enjoy cooking at the moment? I am making a lot of bread right now. I am always trying to find the ultimate bread, which will suit everyone, even gluten free. I think I have found one using maize flour. The difficulty is to make sure it is not gooey, but I have managed to get a result which is a lovely soft roll. I use sourdough and I always have a culture on the go. When I am catering I always take some for the staff, so they have something to eat before we start work; bread is such a feelgood thing. Do you have a signature dish? Not really. But the one people do ask for a second time is a dish where I roast a piece of salmon with oil and fennel on a very low temperature for a long time and it has a wonderful texture and taste. You often cook at the nearby Le Château de Mailly and the owner Marion Smit has said that if you had a restaurant you would have several Michelin stars by now. Would you like to have your own restaurant? Not really because the way I work now gives me freedom. A restaurant ties you down and I really enjoy creating meals to suit the client. A Michelin star is a great idea, but hey! I love doing what I do. ollietimberlake.co
Photos: Emma Hellowell
Jane Hanks talks to successful home chef Ollie Timberlake about her path to a life in Burgundy, how UK chefs’ reputation is changing and why France is food heaven
6 Gardens/Green news
French Living I June 2018
Make a beeline for these gardens As the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts gets into swing for the summer, Jane Hanks picks four to visit in June
Le Jardin de June, Rouge, Mirepoix, Ariège Owner June Williamson Le Jardin de June, with magnificent views of the Pyrénées is built on a slope with heavy clay soil but over the twenty years June Williamson has been working on it she has found ways to get the best out of her garden and to keep it as environmentally friendly as possible. There is now a profusion of trees, shrubs, roses, grasses and hardy plants. However, when she started there was no garden except for a few trees and it was a holiday home she visited only for about six weeks a year. This inspired her to create a dry garden as plants had to survive for a long time without any attention. Mrs Williamson says it is not a true Mediterranean garden as most dry gardens are, because there are severe frosts and more rainfall, so that it has been a long journey of discovery and experi-
Green news Solar energy goes through the roof A Nantes company is bringing together people who want to install solar panels on their roofs but cannot afford them, with others who have some money aside and want to invest in renewable energy. CoWatt launched in September 2017, and has already got 30 projects under way. “We are convinced that energy transition will be made with the citizens,” said co-founder Julien Bouron. “Setting up a [solar energy] project and investing seems difficult for many. We want to show that by removing technical and legal obstacles, everyone can access them.” The company’s operation across Pays de la Loire makes it possible to pool administrative costs, which would be too heavy
Also open in June Château de Queille, Saint-Quentin-la-Tour, Ariège; Owner: Rachel Lethbridge The château is hidden in the woods above Mirepoix on a rocky outcrop. Owner Rachel Lethbridge says the very high walls of the château are a feature as they are covered in climbing and rambling roses which should be in bloom when the gardens are open. The English style terraces are full of perennials, shrubs, grasses and bulbs and these lead down to a meadow and woodland walk by the river Touyre. Open: June 2 and 3 14-18.00
There could not be a more apt time to visit Le Jardin de June in Ariège; inset: The enormous pond at Les Hirondelles in Gard mentation. The clay soil, though heavy to work does have the advantage that it is full of nutrients and retains moisture at depth during the very hot weather. Mrs Williamson says she has now found the perennial plants which thrive: “Some of them are so happy that they self-seed which means that thousands of seedlings need weeding out! I do not water the garden except for the pots or the odd plant which I have planted too late in the season. I believe that we should all be gardening in tandem with the environment and nature.” She says her garden is not 100% organic but close: “I spray annually against processionary caterpillars and I use one small handheld bottle of Roundup per season for the constant fight against dandelions and Convolvulus. I mulch every spring with the dry grasses I cut up with a shredder and also use grass cuttings.” To encourage bees she aims for a long flowering season from January until the end of November but she says she notices that despite her efforts she has observed Photo: Tropicalia
here will be gardens open in many parts of France in June as part of the Open Gardens/ Jardins Ouverts scheme which encourages gardeners of all nationalities to open up their gardens, big and small to the public, to raise funds for charity. Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year or pay €5 for a Day Pass which allows access to any of the gardens on the day of purchase. There is also the Anniversary card, which costs €35 and gives access to privately owned gardens as well as a growing list of prestigious French gardens, which usually charge an entrance fee but are offering Open Garden members free entry with the card. This is the association’s sixth year. It began when four British gardeners in the Creuse decided to open their gardens to see if they could raise money for charity, and the idea quickly caught on. President Mick Moat is thrilled that 40% of gardens are French owned, meaning it does not remain a purely British initiative, In 2018, Open Gardens aims to have 200 gardens in 33 departments. Last year they were able to hand over €23,500 to eleven chosen French charities. www.opengardens.eu
It is very wildlife friendly with roe deer and masses of dragonflies
to bear for individuals or small businesses. The company also intends to reinvest its profits in information initiatives. Major plans for shifting sands At the surfer’s paradise of Lacanau (Gironde), experts predict that the coastline will retreat 65metres by 2040 and 165metres by 2100 due to erosion – and local authorities have identified two possible remedies to protect the town. The first is the creation of a huge dyke along the seafront, although this would need constant upkeep. The second option, which is splitting local opinion even at early discussion stages, is to remove the 1,200 homes and 100 businesses currently within the danger zone and rebuild them elsewhere in the town. ‘Relocalisation’ on this scale would be a first in the world – there are no laws in place for its implementation or funding.
Les Hirondelles, Moussac, Gard; Owners: Jackie and Len Deakin There is lots to see in this garden which owner Jackie Deakin says is very English in character. “Half is a perennial meadow with mown footpaths, there is an enormous pond with water lilies which should be in flower, a big herbaceous border with rose arch, an orchard, potager and fledgling woodland and alpine gardens. “It is very wildlife friendly with visiting roe deer and masses of dragonflies over the pond. We have a family of kingfishers and last year watched the adults teaching the young to feed. There is about an hour’s visit.” Mrs Deakin is also a botanic illustrator and some of her works will be on sale, a percentage going to Open Gardens Open June 17 14-21.00
Treichazeix, Saint-Michel-de-Veisse, Creuse. Owners: Margaret and Tony Grainger Margaret Grainger loves painting and has designed her garden to provide inspiration for her art and there are plenty of seats and shaded areas from which visitors are invited to paint, if they so wish. She says it is a cottage garden with plants “so close together they can talk to each other”, and that it is “all very colourful.” Her pride and joy is the Crambe Grandiflora or Flowering Sea Kale, which she brought with her from the UK when they moved 13 years ago. “It is quite amazing”, she says. “It has cabbage-like leaves but out of this grows a long stem up to 1.8m high with frondy white flowers which have a vanilla scent which perfumes the whole garden.” It should be in flower end of May, beginning of June. There will be light refreshments, a book and a cuttings stall with all proceeds to Open Gardens. Open June 17 10-17.30
PR moves for endangered species brands? From giraffes and tigers on cereals and sweet packets to major French brands such as Peugeot and Lacoste whose logos depict animals (lion, crocodile), cartoonised images of wild animals are everywhere you look in French supermarkets. Now market researchers at the CNRS, France’s national scientific research centre, say firms should be doing more to protect the very species that they ‘exploit’. Valéry Pothain, an ecologist and CNRS researcher, said that, by showering us with images of animals, companies trick the shopper into believing that the species are still flourishing, when in many cases the opposite is true. His idea is that the firms pay a ‘royalty’ to protect the species. This spring, Lacoste has launched a collection of polo shirts with its crocodile logo replaced by 10 endangered species, including rhinoceros, lemur and turtle.
Action required on light pollution The Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative jurisdiction, has condemned the government for its inaction in the fight against light pollution, demanding that Nicolas Hulot, Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition, issues new measures ‘within a period of nine months’. 2010’s Grenelle II law set out measures against light pollution, but orders specifying their implementation have never been made public, which prompted environmental associations to refer the matter to the Conseil d’Etat. “It is now urgent to move from intention to action so that these objectives are finally met,” said a spokesman. Night light pollution, or photopollution, disrupts the biological clock, increasing the risk of cancer, diabetes and depression, as well as disrupting ecosystems.
that the bee population seems to be declining, which she says is very worrying. The lower hillside is left as a wild area for wild flowers and there are six species of orchid. She has recently added raised beds for vegetables and her challenge is to water them minimally by using heavy mulching with either straw or grass cuttings. Open June 2 and 3 14-18.00
Gardening 7 Photos Pixabay; Cathy Thompson
June 2018 I French Living
Sowing a biennial trinity for June
From her Vosges garden, Cathy Thompson reveals her seasonal plant tips
Garden digest Outdoor cooking in style As temperatures warm up in France, so does the fight for your barbecue euros. If you are seeking a modern, stylish alternative to the traditional coals and grill approach, the French-designed VeryCook range catches the eye. Originated in the culinary capital of Lyon in 2011, the company’s aim was to create unashamedly modern products that are easy to use, innovative and available in a range of bright colours. Gas planchas come with laminated or enamelled stainless steel plates while barbecue grills and pizza ovens can be added. Trolleys and covers are sold separately. The company can also personalise your plancha with a hot stamp! From €349, www.verycook.com. Copper load of this It is time for shiny steel to take a back seat in the garden, according to gardening gurus. The big trend for garden accessories such as planters and pots this summer – as both a colour and a material – is muted copper, especially with a weathered look that takes on a natural bluish hue. Also available in some garden centres are copper bands to protect plant bases from snails and other pests, as well as copper plant labels.
Plastic fantastic If you have neither the space nor the need for a full-size greenhouse but your plants, vegetables or seedlings require warmth and protection from pests, this leanto plastic shelter provides an excellent alternative. Easy to assemble, it fits snugly against the side of your property or shed. and measures 200x100x215cm. Price: €89 from www.jardideco.fr.
French garden diary
Among the more outré tips for summer 2018 outdoor living in the UK is the use of outdoor rugs to create a homely feel around the patio table or cluster of rattan chairs. This seems at odds with unpredictable weather, but it makes perfect sense in drier, warm parts of France. The addition of soft colours and fabric to your outdoor space can also include hammocks and ‘sails’ for shade. Sober, elegant greys and beiges are good, while geometric patterns bring a touch of fun. To be on the safe side, and to save the hassle of taking the rug in every night, you could always try a polypropylene one. www.maisonsdumonde. com
epetition gets a bad rap these days... but how can anyone arrive at near perfection without it? A garden in which a shape, colour or pattern is repeated is a million times more satisfying that one in which various disparate elements are dotted about. It will be ‘easy on the eye’... Of course, repeating things in the garden involves buying more than one plant and that can be costly. So I’ll share a small memory... never was my French garden so lovely (or so restful) as the third season after I arrived. The previous year, I had decided to quickly ‘colour my garden’ and focused on growing a large number of biennials (plants which flower once, set seed and die). I prefer biennials to annuals, since they gift you the aura of a well-established herbaceous border, rather than a bedded out scheme. Choices – well, purples, lime greens, bronzes and pinks are my favourite colours for a June garden, so I went with my colour palette instincts. My chosen were Hesperis matronalis, Angelica sylvestris and Salvia sclarea. All grown from seed for the price of three packets – and round about now, in June, is the time to start thinking ahead to next year, since these plants will shortly start ripening seed. It is worth noting that the best time for you to sow seed is often when the plant chooses to do it naturally –seeds are genetically adapted to make the most of the seasonal conditions in which they ripen. From now until late summer, biennial sowing is top of my agenda. The Dame’s Violet (Hesperis matronalis) is a fabulous plant. The broad rosettes of mid-green leaves add a satisfying touch of solidity to any border and in June it takes off with pyramids of white or purple flowers, a little like old-fashioned ‘honesty’ (Lunaria annua), but without the papery, coinlike seed pods – and more ‘full on’ in flower power! There’s nothing to beat Angelica sylvestris for adding a bit of drama to a border
– at well over 1.5m tall, with imposing umbels of lime green in May/June, the flower and form look perfect with the frothier Dame’s Violet. And they readily self-sow, even on my clay (although the traditional plant of kitchens, Angelica archangelica, is more reluctant). There is a greater choice of angelica these days. Try Angelica gigas, with deep purple stems and flowers. Or a luscious A. sylvestris selection called ‘Ebony’, with
Purples, lime greens, bronzes and pinks are my favourites for June, so I went with my palette instincts
almost black leaves and pink flowers. Angelica belongs to the Umbellifer (carrot) family and is a good example of a plant that relies on the freshest seed sown at the right time of year for maximum germination. It may be worth buying one plant and sowing your own fresh seed. Talking of carrots, there are now some rather fabulous versions of the wild carrot (Daucus carota) about, well worth inclusion in a wilder herbaceous border – try ‘Purple Kisses’. It is fairly easily grown from seed sown in late summer, when it will germinate immediately. Seed suppliers of this subtle but captivating biennial include Sarah Raven and Seedaholic. Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) was the last of my biennial trinity and, with the angelica, the one that has stood the self-sowing test of time. It does not smell too nice close up, but plant it where the sun can shine through pur-
ple-pink bracts in the evening and you are a believer none the less. To add my touch of bronze I purchased bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’). This delightful, feathery foliage plant is a thug at putting itself where it is not wanted. And so hard to remove – although you could try one of those little tools for whipping out dandelions. But I must have a very forgiving nature, since I know the hassle has been worth it when I see the way it showcases pink roses or peonies. My pedigree rose of the month is... ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’ is also known as ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ in English, but the French name is much more fun, albeit a tad racy. And it perfectly describes the delicate but vital rosywhite tones of this rose, the same colour of which Renoir was so fond. ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’ belongs to the old group of Alba roses, cultivated in European gardens from the fourteenth century. These tall shrub roses with pretty bluegrey foliage do not really need pruning – and are sometimes considered unsightly after they’ve completed their June flourish. To my mind that’s a little silly. They are crying out for companionship with one of the late-flowering Clematis viticella, starry-flowered little clematis that can be pruned hard back every February, making them excellent shrub friends. MONTHLY TIPS Areas where bulbs have been naturalised in grass can safely be mown from the end of May. OVER TO YOU Give me your stories about the dreaded box blight and box tree caterpillar... how bad has it been and how do you cope? Have you tried a box replacement? I am trying yew and Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’. You can send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Cathy’s garden blog at gardendreamingatchatillon.wordpress.com
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8 The big interview Photos: Ed Anderson
After moving to Paris from California, David Lebovitz has become one of France’s most popular bloggers. He tells Jane Hanks how it all happened...
French Living I June 2018
A moveable feaster
man sits in a chambre de bonne apartment, overlooking the Paris skyline with the Tour Eiffel in his sight and taps into his computer. He has just finished cooking in his tiny kitchen with a temperamental oven, pans left to cool on the windowsill, and a work surface only just big enough for three bowls at a time. He is David Lebovitz and he has just arrived from America where he had worked in restaurants from the age of 16 and ended up as a top pastry chef working in the prestigious Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. In his garret, he is creating one of the first and now one of the most famous and most followed food blogs across the globe. Since those first recipes posted on line he has been able to move out of his garret existence and into an apartment with a real kitchen. He tells the story of the ups and downs of that move in his latest, witty book L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home. How and why did you get involved in writing a blog? I had just written my first cook book, Room for Dessert, and I thought it would be good to use this new medium, the internet, to communicate with readers. I often think people find it frustrating when they try out a recipe, and so I wanted to be able to answer their questions. I wanted to make people happy cooking my recipes. Friends said I was wasting my time, as it was a new idea back in 1999. It started as a website and later when technology changed, around the time I came to Paris in 2004, it turned into a blog. People ask me now, how do you write a successful blog and I tell them it is not instant, you have to work at it. For around six years I was writing with just one or two comments a week. It took a long time before people caught on. In your blog you share your enthusiasm with the reader and cover many different subjects, from Jerusalem Bagels to Bonnat chocolates, made in Voiron, near Grenoble, and filled with Chartreuse liqueur and you reveal the best places to eat and shop in Paris. The photos are enticing but a great deal of the success of your blog must be because of the way you write, which draws the reader in. Have you always loved writing, just as you have always loved cooking? Not at all. I had a writer who helped me with my first two recipe books and I learnt a lot from him. What I feel is that every recipe is a story and it is the story that makes one person’s recipe for a chocolate cake different from another person’s. What makes me different I think from other bloggers is that I like to be conversational. I carry that over into my books and My Paris Kitchen, for example, is not just a list of recipes but also the story of my life in Paris.
You are an American living in Paris. Do you think there is still a romance associated with that idea? People from all over the world are really fascinated by Paris. There are a number of people blogging about it but a lot of them do not stay here long term. There is the romantic side, but there is also the business of getting on and living here and I like writing about that stuff, not just the romance. French people say they like my blog because it is not stereotypical, it is real France. How long did it take you to really know Paris? It took me around ten years to feel I was really at home here. First it was more like being a tourist, enjoying buying croissants and drinking coffee in a café. But really living here is a challenge. It is unlike any other place. So when you have been struggling to get paperwork done and the bureaucrat signs and stamps a paper, you say, yes, I did that, I’m beginning to be French. I was in a taxi today and the driver was complaining about this and that and I understood what he was talking about and joined in and felt French in that way. However, I want people to know I am American. However integrated you are,
However integrated you are, you are still an American living in Paris
you are still an American living in Paris. Do Americans have a good image in Paris? Yes, I think so. Vendors always tell me that the Americans are appreciated because they are so polite. We always say sorry and excuse me. And we are naturally happy all the time. We are hard wired to be happy. As a Brit, I feel it was quite an adventure to cross the Channel to live here. But you have come from much further away and it was a much bigger step to take. So why did you come? I did it at a point in my life when I had been working in a restaurant for many years and it had become too physically demanding so I wanted a change and I started writing. I have now written eight books. French cooking had always been the basis of my life and in California we have a Mediterranean type climate and use similar ingredients like garlic. So part of coming here was the fantasy of living in Paris and part was the culinary culture. Did it live up to your expectations? Yes, because of the accessibility to great ingredients with so many markets and
food shops. For example, there are five bakeries a block away from my apartment. And no, at first, because it was at a period when the food quality had dipped in France and there was a risk that the country was actually in danger of losing its culinary culture. I saw burgers taking over from jambon-beurre baguettes. In California, where we were influenced by French country cooking you never bought anything without knowing the farmer who grew or produced it. My restaurant Chez Panisse was at the forefront of getting French and Italian country cooking into the US. San Francisco was particularly special in this way. I knew the people who started making their own chocolate from beans in the bean to bar movement. When I came to Paris it was ‘Where are the farmers?’ Has France lost its cooking culture? No, the country realised in time that changes had to be made and the “fait maison” label was introduced in restaurants and bakers were only allowed to be called boulangeries if they made their bread on the premises. Now there are young chefs who are making sure they only use local and seasonal produce. But it is hard to say what French cuisine is now. Young chefs in Paris are doing great things and are influenced by world cooking. There is now a gin distillery in Paris. Globalisation has affected all countries. Is your style of cooking French? I would say it is French ingredient inspired cooking. Tonight, for example, I am cooking asparagus with eggs mimosa, with ingredients I was able to buy from the market this morning. For dessert we will have chocolates made by a wonderful chocolate maker I have discovered in the Alps. I love going to the market. I love being inspired by what I find there. I do not
Trending 9 Photo: Christian Fleith/ADT 67
June 2018 I French Living
Youngsters at écolo crèches learn about green issues from a very early age
Go green? The earlier the better in these crèches Every edition we assess an aspect of the French zeitgeist. This month: the trend for ecologically sound childcare, by Jane Hanks
H make fancy things. It is home-based cooking, but I like building up the flavours. For example, as we speak my shallots are in a marinade with herbs for the sauce I am making for tonight. I like vegetables. I know the people in the market now and the advantage of staying in the same place for a long time is that you get to know where you can find anything you might want. People at home might imagine that a food blogger has a dream kitchen, but it wasn’t like that for you at the beginning. Can you describe your first kitchen in Paris? It was in a maid’s room on the top floor and it was not built to have a kitchen, so the cooking area was tiny. There was a fridge and an oven which did not work very well and a tiny work surface. I often had to mix my ice cream in the bedroom or put things out on the window sill. However, you do not need a lot of stuff to cook well. You need a couple of good saucepans, you do not need fifteen; a good knife; a good chopping board; a big dish for making casseroles, and I think a dishwasher is essential, to keep up with all the washing up. It is not difficult to make good food on a crummy cooker. What you do need is good ingredients. Your latest book L’Appart is not about cooking but about the trials and tribulations of buying and renovating an apartment in Paris. I did manage to cook in a tiny kitchen, but after my first years doing that and working hard to get my blog known, I eventually wanted a good kitchen and my own place.
In the book I talk about how difficult it was first to find my apartment, and then how renovating was a huge challenge, and did not go as expected. I said tu to the builders and made them cakes. I should have called them Monsieur, not Bill. My partner warned me that was not the way to go about it in France, but I didn’t listen. I was later told that Americans have a reputation for being gullible and so I paid for not listening to advice from my French friends. There is a social structure. They killed the King, but the King is not dead. You have to be the boss, the chef – and though I am good at being a chef in the kitchen I found I am not good at being the “chef” directing renovation works. I wrote it to be amusing. It was hard, but that is life. And now you are in your own apartment, do you feel at home in Paris? Going through the process of buying and renovating made me understand France better and why I am here. I feel I belong now I have gone through this. I love writing and cooking. There is the dream and the romance, but you have to work hard to live here just as anywhere else. So what makes Paris and France so special for you? Above all the food culture. The fact that people talk about food and it is important to them. That you ask someone where they come from and they will talk about their regional dishes. If there weren’t so many verbs in the language, France would be perfect! www.davidlebovitz.com L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home. Hardback. Published by Crown, ISBN-10: 0804188386, price €21.20.
David Lebovitz out and about in his adopted Paris, exploring new restaurants and his favourite markets for produce and recipe ideas
appy Babies in Caen, Calvados is one of a growing number of crèches, which believes you can never be too young to learn to be green. It is part of the Léa et Léo group of crèches found all over France which are working towards gaining an Ecolo Crèche Label, awarded when the crèche has shown it has taken significant steps to be more ecological in its practices over a period of several months. There are 32 full-time places at Happy Babies, which has a staff of 11 to cater for babies of two-and-a-half months up to six years. Linda Prevel is the Director and she is convinced young children can learn very early on how to be green: “When they wash their hands, for example, we explain they must use less water. They help us choose, and put, what goes where in each recycling bin. I also believe it is much better for their health to be in an environment with fewer chemical products.” The crèche has made changes in several areas. “They all seem like simple things but they take time to assimilate before they become part of daily life,” says Mrs Prevel. “For example, we turn down the heating before we leave in the evening, we turn off unnecessary lights, we use more organic and local food in our menus, we scrutinise the labels on toys before we buy them to make sure they are eco-friendly and we make our own cleaning products. “It is also important that the whole team are involved and we are lucky that our staff is very motivated. Their well-being is important too and we offer employees free yoga lessons.” The Ecolo Crèche label was founded in 2013 by Claire Escriva who worked in ecotoxicology, studying the effects of chemicals and pollutants in industry and who turned her attention to crèches when she had children. There are 100 crèches with the label and around 200 others working to earn one, out of 12,000 in France, but spokesperson for Ecolo Crèches, Antoinette Rouverand says numbers are growing: “It is moving slowly but surely. Every day we have more and more interest in our movement. There are many advantages. In some of the crèches there has not been one case of bronchiolitis during the winter which is
rare and shows the environment is healthier. There is also less absenteeism from staff due to less illness and better morale because they are working together to make their crèche a better place to be. “Children are able to be more creative by finding their own amusements and playing with big cardboard boxes which they love, as well as with ready-made toys. Where possible there is a garden and maybe they can fetch eggs from a henhouse.” Any crèche can earn the label, be it municipal, private or associative. The staff must decide they want to take part, and then choose one of eight themes to work on and prove that after a year they have made improvements: “It could be better recycling,” says Mrs Rouverand. “Or a reduction in the use of energy and water, changes in the food provided with a higher percentage of local and organic products, a reduction in the use of cleaning products with chemicals or the introduction of different types of activity and
Parents are happy to see that their crèche is working towards the écolo label
games, so that less plastic is used and they use home-made playdough instead of buying it. A crèche does not have to be completely “green” to earn the label as we understand it takes time and commitment to make changes.” Very few parents have the luxury to choose a crèche and have to opt for the one where they can get a place. However, the association has found that parents are always very happy to see that their crèche is working towards the écolo label, or already has it. The association hopes that parents in crèches which do not have the label will start to persuade staff that they should start working towards one. The label is also attracting government interest. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot visited an Ecolo Crèche at Aulnaysous-Bois, Ile-de-France, in March.
10 June What’s on
French Living I June 2018
A retro bike ride in chateau country Anjou Vélo Vintage festival, Saumur, June 22-24
Dig out your tweed flatcap or pencil skirt, trim that moustache and enter the spirit of yesteryear from the comfort/discomfort of an old bike. The annual Vélo Vintage festival based in Saumur is primarily a low-key, gentle cycling event through the marvellous Anjou landscape, and has routes ranging from 30 to 120kilometres to suit all levels of fitness and speed. Beyond bikes, it is a celebration of all things vintage, with stalls selling vinyl, live music, local traditional specialities and a glass of fizzy Saumur wine. A great day out for friends and family: book a bike and register now. www.anjou-velo-vintage.com Photos: Anjou Velo Vintage/ Gerald Angibaud
More June events Annecy International Animation Film Festival, June 11-16
This year, the Annecy International Animation Film Festival received over 3,070 films (short and feature films, TV and commissioned films and graduation films) from all over the world, and from them more than 200 have been shortlisted to take part in the official selection. While filmmakers and animators are here in a professional capacity, to find funding, meet musical composers, etc, the public can attend screening events, including sneak previews of shorts and features. See website for details. www.annecy.org Château de Quintin gastronomy festival, Brittany, June 2-3 For food-loving residents or visitors to Brittany, this gourmet meeting in the magnificent setting of the Château de Quintin, Côtes-d’Armor, is a must-visit. There will be 27 great local chefs on hand to provide tips and recipe demonstrations, cookery workshops, cooking competitions, food photography exhibition, a market, wine bar and restaurant. Expect plenty of tasting opportunities! http://gastronomiequintin.blogspot.fr
Medieval festival, Provins, June 9-10 The Unesco World Heritage site in Seineet-Marne has held one of the biggest medieval festivals in Europe since 1984, inviting you on an unforgettable journey to the Middle Ages. Enjoy all aspects of olde worlde France, from full-scale historical re-enactments to camps set up at the foot of the ramparts, plus dancers and jugglers. There are also craftsmen selling art objects, fabrics, spices, jewellery, costumes and musical instruments. Great family fun, with games for children, as well as music and great food. www.provins-medieval.com Cabourg Film Festival, June 13-17 Dedicated to films in the pure romantic genre as well as those with elements of romanticism, the annual Cabourg film festival in Normandy is the place to be to set hearts a-fluttering. Prize winners are given a statuette of a pair of intertwined golden swans, which are specially crafted by La Monnaie de Paris. Now in its 32nd year, the festival lays on public viewings in both indoor and outdoor locations of full-length and short films. This year’s jury is headed up by director André Téchiné. www.festival-cabourg.com National Archaeology Days, across France, June 15-17 Some of the secrets of the past and France’s hidden riches are being revealed around the country, with many towns opening special archaeology ‘villages’ to publicise several different sites at once. Last year’s weekend of events saw 155,000 people dig into the past by attending 1,567 events. https://journees-archeologie.fr French Grand Prix, June 21-24 Formula One returns to France after a 10-year hiatus with Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet, near Bandol in the Var, hosting the race. The track can trace its F1 origins back to the early 1970s, when it held the
first of its 14 French Grands Prix. Since being awarded the 2018 race, numerous modifications have been made to both the circuit and its setting to ensure a suitably stern challenge for the drivers – who are expected to reach a top speed of 344 km/h on the Mistral straight – and an equally thrilling spectacle for race fans. www.gpfrance.com/en La Fête de la Musique, around France, June 21 Every year since 1982, each year on summer solstice day, musicians (both amateur and professional) and music-lovers have taken to the streets, public gardens and courtyards of France to play music of all genres and traditions in the annual celebration of sound. It is organised by the Culture Ministry to make concerts accessible to all, with events taking place all day and night. In 2017, 120 countries around the world joined in. fetedelamusique.culturecommunication. gouv.fr Les Nuits de Nacre accordeon festival, Tulle, June 29–July 1 No instrument sounds quite as evocatively, quintessentially French as the accordion, which is perhaps why the people of Tulle in Limousin celebrate the splendour of the squeeze-box every year. This is the 30th anniversary edition, with musical performances everywhere imaginable around town, from streets to terraces, cafes to public squares, marquees to concert halls and theatres. The event attracts a wider repertoire of performers than you might imagine, with rock, jazz and world music represented. www.accordeon.org Delacroix (1798–1863) at the Louvre, Paris, until July 23 Eugène Delacroix’s July Revolution depiction, Liberty Leading the People, is among the Louvre’s – indeed France’s – best known paintings, but a new exhibition seeks to brings many more of the French artist’s oeuvre to public attention. 180 pieces are on display, ranging from
the young artist’s big hits at the salons of the 1820s to his final, lesser-known pieces. Delacroix’s last full retrospective exhibition in Paris dates back to 1963, the centenary year of his death – meaning this is a rare chance to see so many pieces by the French Romantic artist in one place. www.louvre.fr LGBT Pride, Paris, June 30 Both festive and militant, la Marche des Fiertés is one of the capital’s biggest openair events and France’s largest and oldest pride march. Everyone is welcome to join in – there is no hard-and-fast distinction between marchers and spectators – and it is claimed that over half a million take part. It will start at 14.00 in central Paris and it ends with a free concert. It also ties in with two weeks of cultural events in the capital called La Quinzaine des Fiertés. www.inter-lgbt.org/marche-des-fiertes Les Nuits de Fourvière, Lyon, until July 28 Since 1946, Les Nuits de Fourvière has been bringing together the disciplines of theatre, music, dance, opera, circus and cinema every summer, and this year will see 60 performances in the spectacular Gallo-Roman theatres of Fourvière. Among this year’s performers are pop singer Etienne Daho (June 11), Phoenix (June 13) and Massive Attack, (July 2). www.nuitsdefourviere.com Painting the races, Domaine de Chantilly, until October 14 One for horse lovers! Domaine de Chantilly will host its first exhibition devoted to the birth and the development of horse racing art. Some 70 artworks (paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and films) will illustrate the way the sport was used as a barometer of modernity, in both England and France, from the late 18th to the late 19th century. The exhibition revolves around three major artists: George Stubbs, Théodore Géricault, and Edgar Degas. www.domainedechantilly.com/en
The Connexion works with local tourist offices for the information on this page. Due to possible last-minute changes to programmes and event timing we recommend that you always check with individual organisers before making a trip.
What’s on/Cultural digest 11
June 2018 I French Living Photos: www.lesalondelapatisserie.fr
Private concerts and Cannes hits A round-up of news, and those creating ‘le buzz’ in art, music and film
Photo: Screenshot, FranceTV.info
1. A very private concert In Normandy, 87-year-old opera lover André Junement received a home visit to remember when his beloved Rouen Symphony Orchestra played an exclusive concert at his retirement home. The idea for the concert came from violinist Héléna Chesneau who, after noticing that André did not attend the
tion and despite suffering from a sore throat, she reduced the programme’s ‘coaches’ to tears with her rendition of Harry Styles’ hit Sign of the Times. The student was meant to be at school during the final week of the competition but told Télé-Loisirs that her friends brought notes for her instead. “They came to the semi-final,” she said, “and brought all of my school work. I am lucky to have them!” 4. East is best East Asian films were the toast of Cannes film festival this year, with Japanese drama Shoplifters the surprise winner of the Palme d’Or for best feature. However, two other films were the talk of the Croisette. South Korean drama Burning, which topped Cannes 2018’s magazine, Screen’s jury grid with an all-time record score of 3.8 out of 4, while Franco-Argentine bad-boy Gaspar Noe’s Climax had critics at once marvelling and recoiling at his deranged depiction of drug-fuelled dancing.
2. Eco story takes first prize The inaugural Ecology Novel Prize, awarded to a French-language novel that, through its story, contributes to raising awareness of ecological issues, has been won by Emmanuelle Pagano for her book Saufs riverains about man’s relationship with water. The book, second in a trilogy, describes the flooding of the Salagou valley in the Hérault, where the author’s grandfather owned two small vineyards that are now totally under water. “By creating this apolitical and transgenerational prize, our aim was to highlight a rich literary genre and a new way of approaching ecological issues,” said Lucile Schmid, co-founder of the Association behind the literary prize.
Salon de la Pâtisserie, Porte de Versailles, Paris, June 15-17 The pâtisserie industry brings in a mouth-watering one billion euros every year in France, such is the universal appeal of lovingly crafted cakes and pastries from local bakers and chefs. The Salon de la Pâtisserie is a major event for both creators and devourers, a place to showcase the talents of artisan cake makers and flavours from every French terroir. As well as providing amateurs and professionals a place to share knowledge and recipe innovations, it also allows members of the public, including children, to get their hands dirty by creating their own pastries. And needless to say, there are ample opportunities to sample the sweet delights made on site. The event’s honorary president is iconic macaron maestro Pierre Hermé, who inspired a whole new generation of sweet and savoury craftsmen and has helped turn pâtisserie into an art form. www.lesalondelapatisserie.fr Photo: Lionel Barbe
3. First female winner of The Voice 17-year-old singer Maëlle has become the first female winner of TF1’s primetime singing talent show The Voice. She is also the youngest ever winner. The schoolgirl from Tournus, Saône-etLoire (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), was the only girl remaining in the competi-
5. Sardou exits the stage French singing stalwart Michel Sardou signed off in tears at the end of his last ever concert, held at La Seine Musicale Photo: MichelSardou.com
orchestra’s January performances, decided to organise a special show for the loyal fan and his companions at the Les roses des sables retirement home. Mr Junement has been a member of Rouen Opera House since he was seven years old, and called the theatre his “second home”.
(Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris) to round off an 81-date farewell tour. Clearly overcome with emotion, the singer’s farewell did not go exactly according to plan. When singing curtain-closer Les lacs du Connemara, he forgot the words, before stopping his band and apologising to the crowd: “Can you believe it? I’ve sung that song a thousand times and I forget the words in my last concert.”
Carmignac Foundation, Porquerolles, from June 2
Set in a Provençal mas amid a forest on the stunning island of Porquerolles, Var, the Carmignac contemporary art foundation opens its doors to the public in June. Created by French investment banker Edouard Carmignac, the new space will feature contemporary works of art from his own collection – with a focus on American art from the 60s to the 80s
including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, along with Gerhard Richter and Willem de Kooning – plus temporary exhibitions, plus a lively cultural programme. Outside, a 15 hectare garden designed by landscape gardener Louis Benech is inhabited by a series of works inspired by the locale. The Carmignac Foundation also sponsors an annual photojournalism award. www.fondationcarmignac.com
One-pot culinary perfect For his latest book, top French chef Stéphane Reynaud has conjured easy-to-prepare, tasty dishes that require just one knife and one pot
oing back to basics, with just the best ingredients lovingly put together in a single pot, with minimal fiddly preparation, not only saves on the washing up, but keeps all the flavour locked in. The inspiration for Stéphane Reynaud is obvious – to makes delicious food accessible to everyone – and his book is dedicated to “those friends who don’t know how to cook, as well as those who do”. Stéphane spoke to The Connexion about his own food journey and inspiration: What is your earliest food memory? My earliest food memory is when my grandmother was cooking a potato galette with eggs and onions, which I loved. I remember asking my mother whether I could have a bite of hers and she said yes and gave me a big smile. I remember it particularly because I knew if I had asked anybody else the same question the answer would have been a big no! Coming from a family of Ardèche butchers and pig farmers, what dishes marked your childhood? I remember waking up to the smell of my grandmother’s cooking. She would cook lunch before going to work and leave the pot in the corner of the fireplace. The smells were so great, and I remember every dish; the day I would wake to the smell of Pot au feu, the day of Blanquette, and of Boeuf Bourguignon.... Everything was always perfectly cooked for lunchtime and it is these dishes that marked my childhood and are still firm favourites today! What role did food and cooking play when you were growing up? Food is essential to my life. For me, the best moment of the day is sitting around a table and sharing food and drink with friends and family. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a slice of cheese with bread and a glass of wine is the equivalent of a three-star Michelin meal if you are surrounded by the people you love. Did you always want to be a chef? I wanted to open my own restaurant when I was 15 years old – a bistro. I love the spirit of that kind of restaurant; generous food, a good mix of different people, and a lot of fun. To open your own restaurant, you have to manage and be passionate about your cuisine, so becoming a chef was an obvious choice. Who or what is your greatest culinary inspiration? My greatest inspiration is family food that heralds from the countryside. Food which reflects the seasons. Simple, everyday food, which is made up of easy ingredients that don’t break the bank.
Your previous books were about terrine, roasts, tripe and barbecues. Can we expect a vegetarian book anytime soon? Why not! I love vegetables; I wait in anticipation for asparagus in spring, good tomatoes at the end of summer, nice pumpkin in autumn, and the best potatoes in winter. Vegetables represent the changing of the seasons and I love that.
With my new book I wanted to show that it doesn’t take time to prepare food for six people
What is your ultimate three-course meal, your last meal on earth? Green salad with shallots dressing; Côte de Boeuf with Béarnaise sauce and fries; a big, big, big plate of cheese; and a bottle of Hermitage of Domaine de Jean Louis Chave. Where did your inspiration comes from for your latest book about one pot dishes? A fear of washing up? With my new book I wanted to show that it doesn’t take time to prepare food for six people. With One Knife, One Pot, One Dish you spend less than 30 minutes in your kitchen and then simply leave the pot in the oven. This way you have time for the aperitif. You can spend time with your friends drinking wine rather than disappearing into the kitchen!
Which current trends in cooking/ dining in France are you keen on? I like that at the moment restaurant menus are actually a reflection of what the chef wants to cook. They are cooking from seasonal produce and the menu changes every day depending on what food is available and of good quality. The second trend is sharer plates, where you can taste a variety of dishes. And because it’s tapas, it’s not too expensive either! And which ones are you less keen on? I’m not a fan of restaurants which have a menu packed full of different cuisines from all around the world. Those menus lack personality. A mix of Franco, Italian, Thai... argh! Does French cuisine still lead the world, in your opinion? It’s difficult today to speak about French cuisine – I think it’s easier to speak about French tradition. The world has changed it’s way of eating as well. French cuisine still holds the basis of the traditional French way of cooking but I think it’s best to speak about a chef ’s own cuisine. We shouldn’t care if a chef is French or Italian. They are chefs in their own right and they make their own cuisine. What are the five key characteristics for any chef? The five key ingredients for me are to love people, to be open to the world, to respect the products and the seasons, to have a great team, and to be generous. What is your current favourite restaurant? The next restaurant I eat at... there are so many great restaurants out there!
Chicken with lemon and peas
One Pot, One Knife, One Dish: Simple French Cooking at Home by Stephane Reynaud (Murdoch Books, £20). Photography by Marie Pierre Morel
Ingredients, serves 4 1 bunch of thin green asparagus 2 onions 2 lemons 500 g fresh peas 1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 stems lemongrass 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (mixed dried herbs) Fine sea salt 1 baking dish and a chopping board Preparation time: 15 minutes
Method 1. Prehea 2. Cut th the on withou peas. 3. Arran dish, b onion and se oven f 4. Take t out th aspara chicke for 15
In season 13
ng I June 2018
at the oven to 160°C. he asparagus into lengths and nions and lemons into wedges, ut peeling them. Shell the
nge the chicken pieces in the brush with olive oil, add the ns, lemongrass, lemons, herbs eason with salt. Cook in the for 45 minutes. the dish out of the oven, take he chicken pieces, add the agus and peas, return the en to the dish and bake again minutes.
En saison: What to put on your plate in June Because the French never eat strawberries in winter and even different types of goat’s cheese have seasonality...
Roast beef à la provençal Ingredients, serves 4 2 garlic cloves 1 French shallot 1 bunch basil 4 biscotte toasts Salt and pepper 1 kg piece of roasting beef 80 g butter 600 g tomatoes, a mixture of varieties 1 baking dish 1 chopping board 1 food processor Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes Resting time: 10 minutes
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. 2. Peel the garlic and shallot, pick the leaves from the basil. Process them all roughly with the biscottes. 3. Season with salt and pepper. Rub the beef with the butter and brown on all sides in a flameproof baking dish over high heat. 4. Arrange the tomatoes around the beef and scatter with the Provençal crumb mixture. 5. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, then leave to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place by the oven before serving.
French seasonal basket Fruit Apricot, blackcurrant, melon, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, plum, rhubarb and wild strawberry.
Note: If you do not have a flameproof baking dish that can be used on the stove top, skip the browning step.
Veggie lentils Ingredients, serves 4 3 French shallots 2 garlic cloves 2 carrots 1 zucchini (courgette) 3 ripe tomatoes 200 g blue-green Puy lentils 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley 750 ml vegetable stock 50 g pitted green olives 50 g pitted dry black olives 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée) Salt and pepper 1 flameproof casserole dish 1 chopping board Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 20 minutes
Method 1. Peel and finely slice the shallots and garlic. Peel and cut the carrots into cubes. Cut the zucchini and tomatoes into cubes. Rinse the lentils. Chop the parsley. 2. Put all of the ingredients in a flameproof casserole dish, pour in the vegetable stock and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Focus on: apricots The apricot is a fruit of the sun par excellence – thanks to its colour, its velvety, orange skin stained with red, its soft and juicy flesh and its slightly acidulous taste, it is so reminiscent of summer. And also because it needs plenty of sun to ripen well: in France, it is mainly grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône-Alpes regions. When the season ends in mid-August, it will be time to get freezing your fruit – apricots can be used to decorate and give texture to tagines; or turn them into jam to provide a succulent substitute before sunny days are here again. Buying tip: Do not rely simply upon an apricot’s beautiful colour: it does not guarantee maturity. It is the fragrance and suppleness of the fruit that should guide you. After harvesting, it loses a little acidity each day but matures little, so it must be chosen already ripe. Vegetables Artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, beetroot, chard, carrot, celery, cauliflower, new cabbage, cucumber, courgette, spinach, fennel, green bean, aromatic herbs, lettuce, bay leaf, turnip, onion,
garlic, leek, green peas, snow peas, sweet peppers, potato, radish. Recipe: Ratatouille Nicoise
Ingredients: 600g red and yellow peppers, 1.2kg long butter courgettes, 1.2kg aubergines, 400g white onions, 1.2kg ripe tomatoes, 30g garlic, 10 basil leaves, 250cl olive oil, 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, flat parsley stalk, celery leaves), salt and freshly ground pepper. Rinse the vegetables, peel the garlic cloves, onions and prepare the vegetables: cut the ends of the courgettes, aubergines, destem the peppers, wash them, dice them into 2 to 3 cm cubes. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, brown the vegetables separately, drain them in a colander and pour them into a casserole dish. Peel and seed the tomatoes, crush them and add them to the vegetables. Add seasoning: salt, ground pepper, bouquet garni and crushed garlic cloves. Cover with parchment paper and a lid. Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes in the oven at 120-150°. At the end of cooking, before serving, add the chopped basil.
Fish, shellfish and crustaceans Pike, horse mackerel, gilthead bream, haddock, pollock, swordfish, herring, lobster, langoustine, whiting, John Dory, sardines, mussels, crab.
g time: One hour
Focus on: John Dory (Saint-Pierre) Delicate and tasty, this fish is a favourite among seafood lovers. When buying, its skin should be shiny and glossy, its eyes prominent, and its flesh firm. Cook it simply wrapped in parchment with a drizzle olive oil. For our artisan cheese pick for June, see page 15
French Living I June 2018
Mystery of the pink-tinged pomme Photo: Phototheque Pomme du Limousin
Jane Hanks reveals the production methods and ideal recipes for the famed Limousin ‘Golden’, a prize pick among French apples
olden Delicious apples grown in the Limousin are the only apples in France to have the prestigious Appellation d’Origine Protégée, AOP label. They are grown by 200 producers in 2,300 hectares of orchards in an area covering 100 communes in Corrèze, Creuse, North Dordogne and Haute-Vienne. They are picked by 5,000 seasonal workers every year in mid-September to October but keep well and can be found in the shops from November to September. Apples are the favourite fruit in France accounting for 19.5% of the market, ahead of bananas at 13.3% and oranges at 13.2% and the favourite variety is Golden Delicious, accounting for 28% of sales, with Gala and Royal Gala next at 22%. Golden Delicious arrived from the USA in the fifties and are grown throughout France, but they produce the best fruit in the orchards of the Limousin, which are at an altitude of between 300 and 500 metres high. The geographic situation and climate with sunny days and cold nights seems to suit the variety, and it was soon observed that the apples in the region were particularly delicious, sweet and crunchy. In 2005 the French government awarded them the label AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) which was a French label existing before the European label,
Like a wine which depends on terroir, our apples owe their special characteristics to where they grow Patrice Blanchet, apple producer
AOP, which it was awarded in 2007. Patrice Blanchet is an apple producer at Coussac-Bonneval in the Haute-Vienne. He has 25,000 trees on ten hectares, which he says is an average size for an orchard. He says Golden Delicious in his region are special: “Like a wine which depends on its terroir, our apples owe their special characteristics to where they grow.” A notable feature of the Pommes du Limousin is a reddish pink tinge on one side of the apple. “This is down to nature and we
have no control over it”, says Mr Blanchet. “It appears when there is a sufficient difference between the night and daytime temperature. If it is around 14° in the day and then drops to around 1° at night, the next morning you will see the pink tinge, which is there as if by magic. In some years it is more pronounced than others – it purely depends on the weather.” The heaviest work load for Mr Blanchet is during the harvest which lasts about three weeks in September and October. Thirty extra workers are employed and all the apples are picked by hand. The apples are sent to a local co-operative which deals with apples from around 50 producers. The next job is to clear away the leaves and to fold back the nets which cover the trees for some of the year. They protect the fruit from hailstorms which can ruin a crop in minutes. Pruning takes place from December to March and needs great skill to keep the best fruiting branches and to maintain the tree at a manageable height. March, when the buds appear, is important and the farmer has to be on the lookout for disease. In April, the trees are in flower – it is an important time for pollination. In the past beekeepers brought their hives to Mr Blanchet’s orchards but now he is building up his own stock to keep all year round on the premises. He says he needs three hives to each hectare and that the bees are of vital importance. Without them, there would be no fruit: “Looking after bees is a specialist activity so I hire local beekeepers to look after them, but they are my hives. If they are in good health that is an indication to me that the surrounding environment is as well.” April is also a crucial month because late frosts can destroy the crop. In 2012 his trees only produced 30 tonnes of bad quality apples out of an expected harvest of 300 tonnes because the flowers were killed by frost. This year he says a late cold spell at the end of February was welcome because it will mean the blossom will be late with less chance of a repeat of 2012.
The pink tinge on the Limousin apple owes everything to the local climate; Inset: apple grower Patrice Blanchet; Below: Local chef Charles Martel is a big ‘Golden’ user
In May the nets are put back on the trees. Extra workers are brought in in June and July to help select the best potential apples and discard any that are small, deformed or crowding others. August is the wait and see month, and then comes harvest time. “A great deal of my job is about observation in the orchard to check on the health of the trees. We are often criticised for using too many pesticides and people often associate our apples with chemicals. “However, I cannot stress strongly enough that since I started working in apple orchards in 1988, things have changed massively. Now we do everything we can to preserve our trees using alternative methods and we will only spray if absolutely necessary and if there is disease we can control in no other way. Every day I have deer and pheasants on my land, and it is a pleasure to see them as this shows we are looking after the environment.” He uses many different methods: “I have planted hedges to provide a habitat for the insects like ladybirds and shield bugs we want to attract because they will help us control unwanted pests. We clear away leaves in the autumn so that the fungus, apple scab, which is one of our worst enemies, is less likely to develop in the rotting leaves. “We use a light spray to prevent a kind of moth which lays eggs in the fruit from mating so their caterpillars do not eat the fruit. It is very difficult to keep the balance, but we try. The public can meet producers in many of our orchards and we will happily explain how we look after our trees. “It is a very satisfying job when you see the apples as your end result. You are working with nature and in nature and there is always something to learn.”
The ideal ingredient
A local chef, Charles Martel uses the local fruit for many of his recipes which he serves up at the Auberge de Concèze, Corrèze. He also cooks for the village school, which has just 20 pupils, and on
the day I spoke to him he had made the children an apple tart: “Chefs like to work with Golden Delicious because they are very easy to use in the kitchen,” says Mr Martel. “They are good both raw and cooked, have a regularity in their flavour and a good sugar balance. They are very adaptable and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. “They work well in an apple tart and the one I made today had slices of apple arranged on a bed of apple purée mixed with powdered almonds and flavoured with vanilla. “My favourite apple desert is very simple. Quarter the apples. Sauté them in butter and then cover with brown sugar, called in France la Vergeoise or sucre cassonade belge and which is the type of brown sugar you can find more easily in the UK and comes from beet rather than sugar cane. Serve with vanilla ice cream. I also use the apples in a local desert eaten through the winter which is like a cherry clafoutis but with apples and is called a Flognarde.” Mr Martel also uses apples in savoury dishes. One of his favourites is a dish with pheasant. “Cook the pheasant with the apples in a pan. The legs will take around 35 to 40 minutes and the breast a shorter time. Deglaze the pan with some Armagnac and add a small amount of cream if you like. Serve with shredded cooked cabbage with thin slices of uncooked apple scattered over the top. Simple and good.” The Auberge de Concèze and Patrice Blanchet’s orchard are both on the Route de la Pomme du Limousin AOP which suggests places to stop and taste apples used in local restaurant menus and in July and August there are free visits to orchards and fruit co-operatives every Thursday. Booking is necessary by telephone on 05 55 73 31 51 or online at the website www.pomme-limousin.org. On August 2 there will be a 10km walk plus visits to orchards, a lecture on the history and geology of the area and buffet with regional specialities and Pommes du Limousin (cost €5 for adults).
After harvesting the fruit, winemakers use additives to adjust the taste of their juice
ébastien and Olivier Royer produce organic snails, not just for the table, but also for the bathroom! “We started our cosmetic range about five years ago, because we both noticed that as a result of handling snails all the time our hands were so smooth,” explains Sébastien. “So we investigated and found that the mucus from snails actually contains collagen, elastin and all sorts of other elements which regenerate the skin.” Maison Royer snail farm, in Saint-Paulen-Pareds in Vendée, originally established by Sébastien and Olivier’s father, now produces 12 tonnes of organic escargots per year, supplying 150 restaurants, as well as their cosmetic range. They sell products via their website as well as through their own farm shop. “People love to visit the farm and see the snails, especially children. Who didn’t play with snails as a child?” The farm is open all year round for visits. The baby snails, a million of them, are born in January and live outside in 4,200 square metres of netted fields, eating leafy greens until August when they are ready to be eaten. Edible products include potatoes stuffed with snails and herbs, wafers stuffed with snails, snail eggs, snail tarts, snail terrine, snails in stock, classic escargots in their shells as well as snail sauce. The organic cosmetics range includes various creams for the face, body, hands and feet, soap, shampoo, and make-up remover. “It took us some time, more than a year, to develop our own method of collecting the snail mucus,” says Sébastien. “We use a kind of rolling carpet which tickles the snails for about 30 seconds at a time making them produce mucus which we can then collect from the carpet. It’s a very gentle method which doesn’t harm the snails.” The Royer range of snail cosmetics is now available in pharmacies and organic health food stores all over France, and Sébastien says it is selling well, as interest in natural products is increasing all the time. “The website also works well, and people can buy both escargots and cosmetics online.” Working in a family business is great. As brothers we obviously get on well together; we complement each other. We plan to extend our buildings so that we can expand the business and we’re partners with the Puy de Fou theme park, which is nearby so that’s working very well for us, too.”
Crafted in the Pays de Gex, in the Monts du Jura massif near the Swiss border, this is a tasty blue cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is also sold as Bleu du Haut-Jura or Bleu de Septmoncel. The cheese’s blue veins come from the mould injected (Penicillium glaucum). Before sale, it is kept in a humid, cool cellar for at least three weeks. In general, maturing continues over a longer period of two to three months. Bleu de Gex has a light hazelnut and mushroom flavour, a smooth texture and is slightly crumbly. To buy Bleu de Gex in situ from an artisan cheesemaker today, head to Fromagerie Seignemartin, where they also produce Comté, Abondance and Gruyère.
Local speciality: Lautrec pink garlic Photo: www.labellevie.com
Meet the producers
Artisan cheese of the month: Bleu de Gex
A speciality from the village of Lautrec in Tarn department, l’ail rose (pink garlic) is a Label Rouge product with a sweet and subtle taste and long storage time thanks to a slow drying process. Join local producers for a weekend of fun and tastings of pink garlic dishes on the weekend of August 3-4.
What really goes into a bottle of wine?
Many wines contain more than just the latest grape harvest, says Jonathan Hesford A year in the vineyard
have seen a number of articles in the press and on social media about additives in wine and how producers should declare everything that has been used. While wine is a pretty natural product made just from the fermentation of grapes, there are various things that are added to wines to improve them, alter them or make them more stable. Many of those additives do not end up in the bottle but are used in the process, usually to remove something else. So let’s look at what might have been added. First of all we have sulphites. I have written about these in the past. Essentially potassium metabisulphite is dissolved in water to create sulphur dioxide, which when added to wine will make it immune to bacterial spoilage and resistant to oxidation. These are very real risks to wine and why sulphites have been added for hundreds of years. Winemakers may want to adjust their juice to make it more balanced. This includes adding water to dilute the sugar (and therefore reduce alcohol content). The addition of water is prohibited in France but permitted in the New World. Tartaric acid can be added to make the
Many of the measures are taken to create easy-drinking wines and to get the wine onto the shelf in as short a time as possible
wines more refreshing and crisp. Adding sugar (called chaptelisation in French) will increase the alcohol content and weight of the wine, while acidity can be reduced by adding calcium or potassium carbonate. Acid, sugar and de-acidification are all permitted but are controlled by regulations and restricted to those vintages and regions that require it. Enzymes may be added to extract more colour, reduce protein content or extract more juice during pressing. To ferment the wine, yeast is usually added alongside nutrients such as di-ammonium phosphate and thiamine. Sometimes malolactic fermentation, to convert malic acid to lactic acid is achieved by adding a laboratory-bred bacteria. The second set of additives are those which are designed to remove things from the wine. Known as fining agents, they are mainly used for two reasons. The removal of tannins to make wines softer and smoother, ideal for early-drinking, is done by adding a protein, such as gelatine, casein, milk, egg-white or isinglass (made from fish stomach). The fining agent attaches itself to the tannins and forms a sediment which can be filtered out. On the other hand, wines which have proteins in them (possibly as a result of adding a fining agent) can turn cloudy over time or if subjected to heat. Therefore most commercial wineries will remove protein by adding a fine clay called Bentonite or tannin powder, which again is filtered out. Another visual problem, particularly in white wines, is the formation of crystals of potassium tartrate, which resemble bits of coarse sand. To prevent this, wineries may either chill the wine and add some potassium tartrate to seed the precipitation of crystals in the tank before filtering or add mannoproteins to the wine to prevent precipitation at all. Traditional barrel-aging on lees for
several months in cold cellars reduces or removes the need for fining agents, protein stabilisation and tartrate crystal stabilisation. When faults arise due to mouldy grapes, unclean equipment or poor fermentation they can be removed by the addition of chemicals such as copper sulphate, wood tannin, activated carbon or ascorbic acid. Carbon is also used to make Rosé and white wine look paler. Many lower-priced red wines are given an oaky aroma and taste by adding oak powder or chips for a certain amount of time. This may be during or after fermentation and replaces the costly and laborious task of ageing the wine in oak barrels. A lot of popular brands of wine have some sugar added to them before bottling to make them taste more fruity. This could be in the form of grape concentrate or simply glucose. None of these additives are necessary in an ideal world, although many winemakers would argue that making wine without adding any sulphur dioxide is asking for trouble. The lower the quality of grapes being used, the more things are needed to adjust the wine. Many of the measures discussed above are taken to create easy-drinking wines that do not risk putting off consumers with visible sediments, crystals or haze and to get the wine onto the shelf in as short a time as possible. Therefore they are more likely to be used in cheaper, mass-produced wines. Traditional methods, using grapes of uniformly high quality, avoids the need for most additives. Jonathan Hesford has a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University, New Zealand and is the owner, vigneron and winemaker of Domaine Treloar in the Roussillon – visit www.domainetreloar.com.
Wine and Cheese 15
June 2018 I French Living
French Living I June 2018
The stylish art of French family living For her new book, Siham Mazouz met French families in their stylish homes. Here she presents two favourites.
outdoors,” confides Ilaria. So she carefully added elements that would remind her of a vacation home: the woven pendant light over the dining space, storage baskets, and plants add a Mediterranean feel to her Scandinavian furniture and accessories. The kitchen got a major design lift. Ilaria worked with local craftsmen to create a modern kitchen, open to the living space, without the constraints of smelly odours diffusing into the living area. Jérôme, a native of Lyon—a region known for its love of good food—enjoys cooking, so the couple opted for a sliding glass and wooden door that allows a visual flow but inhibits the smells and fumes of cooking food. The kitchen cabinet structures are generic, from a major Swedish retailer, but Ilaria had the façades custom made in an exotic wood called frake from West Africa; she loved the texture so much that she decided to keep them unfinished. Her countertops are Corian, an easy material to clean and maintain. The divider between the living room and the entryway is also made from frake wood, keeping consistency. Ilaria masterfully mixes Scandinavian pieces with a Mediterranean flair. She recently updated the upholstery of a vintage chair to embrace the urban jungle trend and give the interior an “exterior” feel. (The French spend a lot of time outdoors, and a garden is usually seen as an extra outdoor room of the house). The TV, an eyesore according to Ilaria, can easily be hidden behind the rolling plant when not in use.
essica and Vincent live in the beautiful city of Bordeaux with twoyear-old daughter Olympe. They moved two years ago, after living in a small village near Montpellier. When Jessica was pregnant, she felt the need to go back home where she grew up and her family still lives. “It was important for me to get closer to my family for support as a new mom, and to raise my daughter in my native region,” confides Jessica. Jessica owns a successful interior design company, BOH, which caters to the hospitality industry. She’s also in the process of creating an event rental business. For her new apartment in Bordeaux, she completely changed the décor from the vintage industrial style of her loft in the Montpellier area. “Each home calls for its own style,” says Jessica, who feels that the current flat (right), inundated with natural light, needed a more contemporary look and vibe. “Because we have so much light, I wanted to add colour accents and gradually added pieces that inspired me.” There is no formal recipe in the way Jessica decorates her home. In contrast to her job, where decorating a hotel or a bed and breakfast is dictated by clients’ requirements and stricter rules of interior design, decorating her own home was more a labour of love for Jessica. She kept a few pieces from the old house, like the industrial-style dining table, but added flea finds and contemporary elements. Jessica and Vincent travel a lot around the globe, and they love to bring back treasures from their trips to Bali, India or Gabon to decorate their space. These curated elements, from mixed and matched eras and locations, bring an authenticity to the interior. Jessica mentions that she despises total look interiors. While she is the decorator and makes decisions about the décor, Vincent validates or vetoes her choices. “I mostly agree, but sometimes, I have to veto it. I have to stop Jessica when we go to flea markets, for example, because she wants to buy everything on impulse, especially vintage chairs.” Vincent’s favourite room in the house is their living room, where the family spends most of their time. He also cherishes the collection of tribal masks they brought back from a market in Libreville, Gabon. Jessica is very attached to her artwork: she used to manage the gallery collection of a contemporary art museum, so art holds a special place in her heart. When asked what piece in her interior she couldn’t be separated from, she replies: “If there was a fire and I had to save something,
Get the look Why not take inspiration from Jessica and Vincent, Ilaria and Jérôme, and source similarly chic home deco items on the French high street. Prices and availability are correct at time of going to press.
I’d grab my wall art. No, scratch that! I’d run to my closet to get my grandmother’s collection of vintage ball gowns. This is irreplaceable!” Aix marks the spot Ilaria, her husband Jérôme, and their two sons, Thomas and Tristan, left Paris three years ago to move to the South of France. Ilaria was originally from Milan, and after thirteen years in Paris, she and Jérôme were thrilled at the prospect of life in sunny Provence; but finding a home (left) in the coveted city of Aix-enProvence was no joke. Eighteen months of intense searching led them to a 1970s home located near the Parc Jourdan. At first, the 1,290-square-foot property seemed outdated and charmless, having
Buy the book
Photographs by Siham Mazouz from How the French Live, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.
never been remodelled since its 1969 construction. But Ilaria saw a huge potential: the natural light and the patio and garden the house featured. The family embarked on a two-month remodelling, during which Ilaria connected with local craftsmen to renovate the space: walls were taken down to allow a free flow of natural light, electricity and plumbing were updated to code, and the original parquet was sanded three times to give it a modern look. Ilaria worked extensively on letting the natural light in and opened up the space to allow a more natural flow between the indoors and outdoors. In the living areas, which receive lots of light, she chose to canvas the walls in white and then progressively added touches of colour. In the darker areas, like the hallway and the private rooms, she chose a darker colour palette: a deep petroleum-blue paint punctuates the space as a parti pris for the lack of natural light. In her decorating, Ilaria worked with the furniture and accessories she already had. She didn’t want to acquire a lot of new things. “I wanted the house to feel like a vacation home, where pieces can be moved within the interior throughout the seasons, and also moved indoors and
Totally tropical If the full house plant and plant-print chair combination is too much for your taste, opt for a tropical detail with this jungle-inspired Cacatoes cushion, €17.99 from www.maisonsdumonde.com Light lunch With over 36,000 lamps and shades to choose from, Luminaire is ideal for adding a modern flourish to your dining room, at all prices. This Soberbia design is by Johan Carpner. €1,187 from www.luminaire.fr Trolley service Far from being a naff remnant from yesteryear, drinks trolleys are back in vogue. Ideal for handy access at apéro time! This Wadiga bamboo model measures 55x32x 62.50cm. €80.24 from www. laredoute.com
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French Living I June 2018
Bilingual cryptic crossword
Answers are in French and English Across
1 Girl finding timid people stuck in a situation of great difficulty? Just the opposite (8)
1 Row after mechanical engineer gets a job in Lille (6)
5 French spice found in exotic recipe (6)
2 I meet fellow packing containers with French penknives (6)
9 Amelie’s sympathies ultimately lie with an objective embraced by the principal political party in South Africa (8)
by John Foley
Note all answers are words or names associated with France Across Down
3 Napoleon’s equal as general surprisingly ignoring knight (6)
2 Les _________, a fantasy comedy in which a 12th-century knight and his servant time travel to the 1990s (9) 7 Marchand de viande (7) 8 Monkfish, once known as the poor man’s lobster! (5)
1 First light (4) 2 La _____, sometime slang for the guillotine (5) 3 Roche sédimentaire ou métamorphique qui se débite en feuillets (7) 4 Marine or terrestrial reptile with a bony or leathery shell (6)
10 Expresses sorrow for loss of ancient city during WW1 conflict (6)
4 Affecting a limited area close to a midlands city when Villa play West Brom for instance (5,5)
11 A couple of enticements getting one of Falstaff ’s recruits to weaken (8)
6 Continue to get small profit from investments (8)
12 Fantastic for Le Floch to get information on Italy’s foremost gangster (6)
7 My queen describing doctor in correct French (8)
12 Take food, drink, etc, into the stomach via the throat (6)
14 Somewhat inferior way to describe a young footballer with prodigious talent (6-4)
8 Determined to get Rose playing an instrument (8)
14 Signe graphique sur une lettre (6)
8 Rule or system of rules established by an authority and applicable to its people (3)
18 Provoke outstanding bishop in charge after former partner (10)
13 One supporting you in speech in foreign court before becoming a seamstress in Paris (10)
17 Part of the national motto – decreed under the Third Republic (7)
11 Poisson cuit avec du vin et des oignons (8)
19 Stealthily or noiselessly – à pas de ____ (4)
13 Nuts often thinly sliced for baking or added to fish, meat or salads (7)
22 Fat on a piece of chopped bacon in Nice (6) 23 Clemence’s dry cleaning is demanding immediate attention (8) 24 Arrest revolutionary French philosopher (6)
22 Tidy up – mettre en _____ (5)
16 Story involving lawyer getting upset about republican exhibiting stinginess in Lens (8)
23 A vide-_______ is similar to a car boot sale (7)
17 Means of support for Religious Education Society provided by our church (8)
26 Emile’s to bring mother back before Rene returns (6)
19 American fellow finished exhausted (4,2) 20 Key in ‘City Market’ (6)
27 Through which the unseen fellow may see people he upset (8)
21 Fifty trapped in terrible siege in French church (6)
Fun French facts Photos: Vincent de Groot
THE intermittent fountain of Fontestorbes in Ariège is a rare natural phenomenon and popular tourist hotspot – a stop-start river source. From July to October water cascades out of the cave for 36 minutes and 36 seconds, then stops for 32 . minutes and 30 seconds. Q: What does the name Fontestorbes mean?
24 French ‘servant’ – term in English for a comedy role on stage, typically for a pert or saucy lady’s maid (9)
3 Germ warfare
5 Nonsense or silliness (7) 6 If grise a shrimp, if rose a prawn (8)
15 Louis XIV’s esteemed Minister of Finances, Jean-Baptiste _______ (7) 16 Person who looks after sheep (6) 18 Terre entourée d’eau (3) 20 Manufacturing établissement (5) 21 Artist and designer Romain de Tirtoff whose pseudonym derives from his initials (4)
PASTEURISED milk is not hugely popular in France – which is slightly odd, given its inventor is one of the country’s best-known scientists. Louis Pasteur was born in 1822, in Dole, in the Jura. He discovered that microbes were responsible for souring alcohol and came up with the process of pasteurisation, where bacteria is destroyed by heating and then cooling the beverages. Q: The scientist also developed the first vaccines for five major diseases. What are they?
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Outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a small octagonal brass plate called Point Zero, by which all distances to and from the French capital are measured. Q: Which of the towns in the world with 100,000+ inhabitants is the farthest from Paris?
10 Singularité (7)
15 Sell lace pants with those in France (6-2)
25 Recently introduced to a food shop reportedly in India’s capital (3,5)
1 Top marker
9 Department in the Occitanie region whose capital is Auch (4)
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June 2018 I French Living
Guess the region...
France has 13 regions, some recently formed by combining previous ones. Every issue we pick a spot, all you need to do is work out which region it is in...
Clue: Let the neighbours in through the back door...
Test your knowledge of France with our Connexion quiz
What is the name of the famous lighthouse with a French name on the southern tip of Jersey, which might bring to mind a popular 1980s winner of the Grand National steeplechase?
6 Which French soldier who gave the ‘Fire!’ command to the firing squad at his own execution in December 1815, was called by Napoleon ‘Le Brave des Braves’? 7
What general name for sweet or savoury appetizers comes from the fact that they were originally made in small adjacent ovens as a by-product of the cookery of the main meal?
17 Named in honour of an 18th century French physicist and symbolised by the letter C, what is the derived SI unit of electrical charge?
11 What was the title of the UK No.2 dance hit single from March 1997, which began with the spoken words, “Mesdames, Messieurs, le disk jockey Sash! est de retour…”?
18 Dr. René Emile Belloq is the charming but villainous French rival of the main character in which all-time favourite 1981 Hollywood adventure movie?
12 Which French national sporting hero was known as ‘Le Blaireau’ (‘The Badger’) as he often wore a headband which made him look like a (badger-hair) shaving brush? 13 Created in the early 1600s, a 56-acre public park on the Boulevard St.Michel in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, shares its name with which of France’s neighbouring countries?
The French construction company GTM Entrepose (now VINCI) was a major partner in which Anglo Welsh engineering project, completed in June 1996 after four years of work?
20 Born in 1972 in Montreal, Canada, who was the last French player to win the French Open women’s singles title, defeating Conchita Martinez in the final in 2000?
10 In July 2017, the EU supported a French government ban on the ride-hailing service software app of which often controversial San Francisco-based company?
Guess the region Rue Porte Dijeaux in Bordeaux, Nouvelle Aquitaine. it was built by Michel Voisin between 1748 and 1753. Photo: OT Bordeaux/Nicolas Duffaure
Aquaculturist Tony Berthelot installed a refrigerated vending machine in his shop on the Atlantic Ile de Ré in 2017, to dispense what fresh local delicacy 24 hours a day?
Quiz 1 Puss-in-boots, 2 Nîmes, 3 E-mail, 4 Oysters, 5 La Corbière, 6 (Marshal) Michel Ney, 7 Petits fours (‘small ovens’), 8 AZERTY, 9 Marion Cotillard, 10 Uber, 11 Encore une Fois, 12 Bernard Hinault, 13 (Jardin du) Luxembourg, 14 Bollinger (‘Bolly’), 15 Saône, 16 Impasse, 17 Coulomb, 18 Raiders of the Lost Ark, 19 Second Severn Crossing, 20 Mary Pierce.
16 What French word meaning a roadblock or ‘dead end’ is often used in English to describe a deadlocked bargaining situation?
What communications marvel was once designated ‘le courriel’ by the Académie Française, even though the average Frenchman is still as likely to refer to it by its English name?
Which future Oscar-winning actress starred opposite Russell Crowe as irresistible Provençale café owner Fanny Chenal, in the 2006 film version of Peter Mayle’s novel A Good Year?
15 Which major French river rises in the Vosges mountains and flows south through Mâcon before gently merging with the Rhône at Lyon?
Bilingual cryptic crossword Across: 1 Michelle, 5 Epicer, 9 Tendance, 10 Mourns, 11 Enfeeble, 12 Génial, 14 Second-best, 18 Exacerbate, 22 Lardon, 23 Pressing, 24 Sartre, 25 New Delhi, 26 Amener, 27 Peephole.
14 The product of which independent Champagne house is often fondly referred to in the UK by an abbreviated name, and has played brief cameos in James Bond films since 1973?
Down: 1 Métier, 2 Canifs, 3 Égaler, 4 Local derby, 6 Proceeds, 7 Corriger, 8 Resolute, 13 Couturière, 15 Celles-là, 16 Ladrerie, 17 Resource, 19 Used up, 20 Rialto, 21 Église.
Which city in the south of France is dominated by a Roman arena used today for bullfights and concerts, built nearly 2000 years ago when the place was called Colonia Nemausus?
Take the first letter from the answers to the questions indicated below and rearrange the letters to spell out the name of a town in southeastern France. When a person is the answer, use the first letter of their surname. Questions 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 16, 18
8 To a typist, what is the French language equivalent of the QWERTY keyboard layout, so called because of the first six keys on the top row of letters?
French-themed crossword Across: 2 Visiteurs, 7 boucher, 8 lotte, 9 Gers, 10 unicité, 12 avaler, 14 accent, 17 égalité, 19 loup, 22 ordre, 23 grenier, 24 soubrette.
Try our quiz
Down: 1 aube, 2 veuve, 3 schiste, 4 tortue, 5 sottise, 6 crevette, 8 loi, 11 matelote, 13 amandes, 15 Colbert, 16 berger, 18 île, 20 usine, 21 Erte.
A staple of British pantomime, how is the fairy tale figure characterised in the 17th century by Charles Perrault as ‘Le Chat Botté’, known in the English speaking world?
Fun French facts 1 Dunedin in New Zealand is 19,064kms from Paris. 2 The water source’s name comes from the Latin phrase fons turbatus, meaning ‘enraged fountain’ 3 Anthrax, rabies, cholera, TB and smallpox
20 Reviews French films A critical eye on the latest ciné releases I Got Life! (Aurore)
French Living I June 2018 The Spider Network, David Enrich, £9.99; ISBN: 978-0-7535-5751-8 THE sub-title for this is ‘The wild story of a maths genius and one of the greatest scams in financial history’ which, until a few years ago, would have been an astonishing once-in-a-lifetime event... but now seems curiously commonplace. No matter, the book itself – after much scenesetting of the over-the-top lifestyles of scruple-free traders – is a thriller on the Libor bank interest rate scandal where complicity rivals duplicity in earning top billing. Happily, though, at least one of those involved has a conscience. He still gets 14 years’ jail, though; he’s the fall guy. The author’s name – Enrich – pretty much sums
up the book but the writer is a respected Wall Street Journal business reporter and spent many months speaking to the leading players and, while their colourful lives are memorable, what hits deeply home is the dysfunctional nature of the banks involved and their lack of integrity. The cast of characters include a Frenchman nicknamed Gollum and a former Kazakh chicken farmer known as Derka-Derka; the list of offences encompassed 18 finance houses and three dozen people across four continents... This will not help you sleep at night... especially if you have a pension, a mortgage or a bank loan.
Books – The 20 minute review
We read recent releases with a link to France. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time
Dir: Blandine Lenoir; 89 mins
MENOPAUSE and attitudes to middleaged women are still somewhat taboo themes in French society as a whole, let alone in French cinema. So Blandine Lenoir’s uplifting new comedy-drama – which shows Agnès Jaoui’s Aurore battling life’s downs and embracing the ups after turning 50, has much to commend it for its subject matter alone. Equally pertinent to the times is the subplot of discrimination at the hands of a sexist boss suffered by Aurore, a divorced waitress in small-town France with grown-up children. He thinks she is past working front of house, so hides her behind the bar – the cruelty depicted in a few short scenes is brilliantly done. The potential for romance spring eternal for the amusing Aurora, however, and when she contrives to have a former crush, now a silver fox doctor, administer her own daughter’s pregnancy scan, a hot date (with operatic overtones!) follows... Some might find the film’s set-ups a little contrived and the laughs a little forced but this is a very enjoyable, feel-good film for and about women, which at its core believes that “life begins at 50” is a choice, an opportunity to be embraced.
Also out: My Golden Days Out on DVD is Arnaud Desplechin’s excellent My Golden Days, starring the ever-brilliant Mathieu Amalric as an anthropologist whose riveting, three key stages of life we view in flashback.
Her Mother’s Secret, Rosanna Ley, Quercus, £7.99; ISBN: 978-1-78648-342-3
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, Macmillan Collector’s Library, £9.99; ISBN: 978-15098-4288-9
Flamingo Boy, Michael Morpurgo, £12.99; ISBN: 978-0-00-813463-1
WHAT could be better as the summer approaches than a sun-soaked escape to Belle-Ile-en-Mer in Brittany for this intriguing tale of Colette and her mum Thea’s family secret... Perhaps the secret should have stayed buried but Colette is drawn back to the island of her birth from Cornwall as she learns her mother is ill and she is the only family she has left. But, once back, she finds that much is as it was, much that has been unsaid is still unsaid and there is still much suspicion and pain. The island itself is enchanting and is working its charms, reviving some of the magic and meeting Henri, her father’s fisherman friend, her eyes start to brim and she is swept back to more care-free days but also to memories of fights with her mother; the fight between her mother and her father... the last time she saw him alive. Others have secrets, too. Whether it is Mathilde, who once employed Thea as an au-pair, or her daughter Elodie who becomes fast friends with Colette... plus there is Etienne, a writer whose mother has died – he is home on the island to tidy her affairs and sell the house. Too many secrets and too many stories almost forgotten, but Colette, Elodie and Etienne have much to find out.
MORE than 160 years after it was written, Madame Bovary has a shocking relevance today in a world dominated by petty celebrity romances, unreasonable aspirations and doubtful ambition. Romantic escapism turns Emma Bovary’s head, puffs up her vain and selfish views and fuels her belief that her husband is more than dull, he is a failure; but, no, the grass is not always greener. Her passionate affairs, the search for her romantic ideal, scandalised France when written, but looking back today it is the sensual writing that attracts and makes this worth reading. This beautifully crafted edition of the classic Flaubert tale is cloth-bound, with gilt edges and a ribbon bookmark that make its pocket- size perfect for a book to carry on all occasions, something to dip into. Something to savour.
WHAT a find in this little gem of a book. Aimed at children aged nine and over, it grabs the attention with an amusing tale of an old man, his horse and a kind policeman and then sweeps the reader off to the south of France and Vincent van Gogh with mosquitoes and the wild winds of the Camargue. Plus, of course, the flamingos “their stick-like legs seems to be wading backwards through the water and yet, impossibly, they were moving forward”. They have a secret guardian, Renzo, who cares and helps cure any that fall sick or are injured. He has found Vincent collapsed on the road and, caring for him too, takes him home to a farm in the marshes where he hears a tale of history. Renzo was once the Flamingo Boy during the war before the Germans arrived and shattered the people’s peace and also the lives of the flamingos. He is autistic and this is a wonderful step into a mind that is different from others, unique within its thoughts but innocent. He meets Kezia, a Romany girl who helps her parents run a carousel, and Renzo loves to ride on it until it is torn apart by a storm. He wants to cure it and we discover that not all Germans are Nazis and even in wartime there is room for the simple bond of a desire to make something right.
Walking in the Dordogne, Janette Norton and others, Cicerone, £14.95; ISBN: 978-1-85284-843-9 WITH 35 walks based around Bergerac, Lalinde, Sarlat and Souillac, this book comes at a perfect moment for readers as it allows time for some of the walks before the tourist season makes travelling less fun. It may be a bit of a disappointment for readers in the northern half of Périgord as all the walks are in the south and Lot, but it is worth the drive and the routes are simple half or whole day trails roughly along the trace of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers and up into their hills The original book was written in 2004 and although it has been updated and has extra walks, it is not clear how thorough this was, but much has been revised. Even so, the wealth of detail and handy signposting of must-see sights make this worthwhile.
The French use food in everyday expressions Language notes
iven the French obsession for food, food-related idioms are commonplace when expressing situations that are going well or badly in everyday life. Certain items are used in expressions of annoyance, such as ‘La moutarde me/lui monte au nez’. Literally this is ‘the mustard is getting up my/his nose’ and refers to getting wound up into a state of anger. A situation can easily ‘tourner au vinaigre’ (turn to vinegar, or turn sour) if it is getting worse. And to put a third vinaigrette ingredient to linguistic use, you can say ‘mettre de l’huile sur le feu’ – put oil on the fire, i.e. to make a situation worse. Too much to do and too little time? ‘Avoir du pain sur la planche’ is the phrase to use (‘too much bread on the board). And if things are really tough and you have run
A situation can easily ‘tourner au vinaigre’
out of money, or food, then ‘c’est la fin des haricots’ – translated as ‘it’s the end of the beans’. Traditionally, beans were the last items to be eaten, so once gone, the cupboard was bare. If someone joins in a conversation without being invited to do so – the equivalent of ‘sticking one’s oar in’ – they are said to ‘ramener sa fraise’ (to ‘bring back one’s strawberry’, refering simply to their head). To stick their nose in might be another translation – you can also use ‘mettre son grain de sel’ for this. (Put your grain of salt in). To say something is tricky or hard going, use ‘ce n’est pas de la tarte’ – ‘this is not cake’ – the inverse use of the English phrase ‘this is a piece of cake’. Talking of cake, if you want to accuse someone of ‘having their cake and eating it’, the phrase to use is ‘vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre’ – this means ‘to want the butter and the money from [selling] the butter’.
Shopping/Did you know? 21
June 2018 I French Living
The Minister for Education at first refused Julie Victoire Daubié her degree, for fear of ridicule
New products, designs and ideas from around France
Riding a legend
ICONIC French manufacturer Peugeot has launched a new range of ‘Legend’ bicycles, inspired by the styling of the brand’s iconic models. Intended for all the family, the collection combines the look and feel of retro bikes with comfort and reliability – and affordability. The design of the frames and the timeless black and white chequered detail bring to mind the legendary Peugeot bicycles built during a history stretching back over 130 years. Designed first and foremost for urban use, the collection is made up of four different styles: Fixie, Urban, Road and City. The Junior collection offers a stylish introduction to cycling for children aged two to six. Available in white, orange or green, the Legend LC01 D7 retails at €499, while the Fixie Urban costs €599. Lightweight and robust children’s bikes, with an aluminium frame and V-Brakes to ensure maximum safety, from €179. https://cycles.peugeot.fr
Diffusing flower power
Huile meet again
pERFUME house Sevessence has launched its first consumer collection of diffusers for the home. The Fine Home Fragrances are already available in 15ml and 100ml sprays and are made exclusively from raw natural plant extracts enriched with essential oils. The collection, which is all-natural and organic, was created by the company’s ‘Nose’, Jean-Charles Sommerard, is fully French-made, and distributed in pharmacies, parapharmacies, stores and department stores as well as the online shops and the website. 30ml costs €19,50. www.sevessence.com
When, in Summer 2014, a shepherd in a lost valley at Prato di Giovellina in the foothills of Corsica’s Monte Cinto massif, revealed that endemic varieties of olive trees had been planted by his ancestors, the time was right to launch a new olive oil in the Château NasicA domaine. The success of the new generation of oils since has been remarkable – not only is it used by some of the top chefs in France, but its has an AOP label and is found in some of the finest épiceries in Paris. €13 for a 25cl bottle. www. chateaunasica.com
The butterfly jewel effect
INSPIRED by nature and visits to Latin America by its founder Magalie Maxit, Aponi is an eco-friendly jewellery brand with a unique nature preservation ethos. Endangered butterflies from farms governed by CITES (International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Peru live their natural cycle before they fall to the ground and are collected. They are then sold to ensure the financing of the farms, before innovative preservation techniques maintain the butterfly’s colourful wings – which are then used to produce a range of necklaces, rings and bracelets. www.my-aponi.fr
This was the first French woman to get a degree Did you know?
he first woman to get the baccalauréat and then a degree in France was Julie Victoire Daubié, born in Lorraine in 1824. She had to fight hard to persuade the education authorities to take her seriously and she did it in a positive effort to improve conditions for women. She was born at the Manufacture Royale at Bains-les-Bains, which was an ironworks, and is now open to the public as an industrial heritage site. Her father was the accountant and she was the last born in a family of eight children. At that time, the company was at the height of its success, with 500 employees. However, times were changing and she witnessed the suffering of the workers, and above all women, as the industry began to decline. At the age of twelve she was already indignant about the conditions of the employees. She told the owner of the factory, Joseph Chavane in 1836: “Because it is Christmas and the birth of Christ among the poor, I would like to say to the Manager, that sugar and coffee once a year, does not stop the workers from being hungry the rest of the time.” In August 1844, she passed a teaching certificate, the only diploma available to women, and taught children in the industrial heartlands of the Vosges
and the Black Forest. She also studied Greek and Latin with one of her brothers who was a monk and then applied to be a candidate for the bac. Though there was no law forbidding women to apply, she was refused on the grounds of her sex. Luckily she had an influential industrialist from Lyon on her side, François Barthélémy Arlès-Dufour, and after several more attempts her application was finally accepted. On August 16, 1861 she sat the exam with a jury of ten men. At that time each member of the jury showed whether the candidate had passed, failed or whether he abstained by a system of balls. She obtained six red balls (pass), three white balls (abstention) and one black ball (fail). However, the Minister of Education refused to grant the certificate at first, for fear of ridicule, and it was only some time later that he was persuaded to sign the document after further pressure from Mr Arlès-Dufour, who asked Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoléon III, to intervene on her behalf. Women were not allowed to attend university lectures, but could sit the exams and on October 28 1871, Julie Victoire Daubié was the first woman to be awarded a degree. She worked as a journalist and wrote a book, La Femme Pauvre (The Poor Woman). She died aged 50, before finishing the thesis for her doctorate. However, girls had to wait until 1924 for equality in secondary education – this was the year the baccalauréat was made identical for girls and boys.
Photo: Pierre Petit — Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand, Paris
QUOI DE NEUF?
22 History: André Malraux
French Living I June 2018
The remarkable life of a French cul
ndré Malraux was born at the dawn of the 20th century (1901), left school at 17 without passing his bac, and never enrolled for any further education. Despite this he became one of France’s most respected intellectuals; a famous author, an explorer, and a leading politician. His achievements were so legion that in 1996, twenty years after his death in 1976, his ashes were transferred to the Panthéon in honour of his legacy. From childhood he was withdrawn and painfully shy, suffering from a variety of tics which some biographers have taken to indicate that he had Tourette Syndrome. He had a vast appetite for all types of adventure however, and hero-worshiped figures such as Lawrence of Arabia, Victor Hugo and Michelangelo; men who excelled in a variety of ways, who were intellectuals as well as adventurers. So when he dropped out of school, he continued reading, watching films, going to plays, concerts and exhibitions, constantly expanding his knowledge of contemporary culture. Alone, he studied modern and classical art, visited museums and frequented arts’ haunts. He got a job with a publisher and in 1920 he published his first book, Lunes en Papier. He also devoured the writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, transfixed by Neitzsche’s theory that the world is in continuous turmoil. He particularly aspired to be an ‘Übermensch’ – a heroic, exalted man who created great works of art and whose will alone would allow him to triumph over anything. In 1921 he went to Florence and Venice with translator and writer Clara Goldschmidt, whom he married upon their return to France. Funded by Clara’s substantial inherited income, they then travelled to Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Tunisia and Sicily. In 1923, his wife’s fortune was lost after a series of bad investments, and his travels came to a temporary end. Broke and grounded, Malraux gazed enviously at one of his favourite role models; Lawrence of Arabia (Colonel TE Lawrence). His reputation in France was, and still is, that of a trouble-making guerrilla who wreaked havoc in Syria during the Arab Revolt. But Malraux saw him as an ‘Übermensch’; an intellectual, romantic, enigmatic warrior and hero. Lawrence had made his name excavating the ruins of Carchemish in the Aleppo Valley in Syria: Malraux would go to Cambodia. So he and Clara went off to explore ruins in what was then the French Protectorate of Cambodia. They plunged into the jungle seeking archaeological artefacts to sell to European art collectors and museums but upon their return
Photos: Roger Pic, Bibliothèque nationale de France; Eric Molina
André Malraux did not pass his bac, yet went on to become one of the most important cultural figures in French history, writes Samantha David Malraux was arrested by the Cambodian police for removing a bas-relief from the Banteay Srei temple. Clara worked tirelessly for his release, but he remained in prison until 1924, and the experience resulted in a lifelong commitment to anti-colonialism. Finally back in France, he sold off a batch of paintings in order to fund another journey with Clara to Singapore, Saigon and Bangkok. In 1925, he returned to France and founded L’Indochine, a publication championing Vietnamese independence, wrote La Voie Royale based on his Cambodian experiences, and followed that with La Condition Humaine’ He worked as the artistic director at Editions Gallimard, published several more novels set abroad and continued travelling: Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Arabia, Persia, Japan, the US, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Yemen and Russia. He often implied that he had been to China during the 20s and had had a hand in fomenting the uprising in 1927 which led to civil war, but in fact visited the country for the first time in 1931. His daughter Florence was born in 1933, but his marriage with Clara was faltering. He started an affair with arguably the most famous female author in Paris at that time, Josette Clotis, and by 1936 he and Clara had formally separated. Malraux declared that he had only married Clara for her money, and for her part, Clara retorted that he was so withdrawn and aloof that despite their marriage she felt she’d never known him.
Life back in France
In 1936 and 1937, Malraux went to Spain, joined the forces fighting the fascist regime, and used his experiences in his novel L’Espoir, which was made into a film in 1938. He joined up at the outbreak of the Second World War, and was almost immediately taken prisoner in France and sent to work on a French farm. Aided by his half-brother Roland, he managed to escape from the farm in 1940, the same year that Josette Clotis gave birth to his son Pierre-Gauthier. As André Malraux was still married, Roland officially recognised the child so that he could be given the name Malraux. Back in the free zone, André Malraux settled in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin (PACA) with Josette and the baby. They moved to Corrèze (Limousin) in 1943, where their second son Vincent, was born and at the end of March 1944, after much prevarication and shilly-shallying, he joined the French Resistance. He was not a fighter. Even in Spain he had never learned to shoot straight, and many in the Resistance agreed with the Spanish officer who declared he should
Above and inset: André Malraux in 1974, two years before his death. In 1996 his ashes were moved to the Panthéon; The Banteay Srei temple in Cambodia, from where Malraux pinched a bas-relief
He used his time to nurture all the arts in France. He moved against torture, against colonialism, against repression Pierre Coureux, President of Amitiés Internationale André Malraux
either be disciplined, sent home or shot. His stories were exaggerated; his exploits vainglorious; his contribution mainly exaggeration, misinformation and self-glorification. In late 1944, Josette died in an accident at a train station, but her death does not appear to have knocked him far off course. He continued producing fiction, including many tales of his own derring-do during the war, claiming for example to have been in the Resistance since 1940. In 1945, he was awarded a DSO along with a handsome collection of French decorations, and then he moved in with pianist Madeleine Malraux, his half-brother Roland’s widow, her son Alain (i.e. his nephew) and his own two sons by Josette. (As a member of the Resistance, Roland had been arrested by the Gestapo and died only two months previously in Germany.) Clara and her daughter were still living in Paris. Malraux finally divorced her in 1947 and married Madeleine the following year. After the war, Malraux attached himself to General de Gaulle, organising propaganda until 1953 when De Gaulle fell out
Local history 23
June 2018 I French Living
Photos: INA; Bibliothèque nationale de France
Malraux delivers his speech honouring Jean Moulin at the Panthéon in 1964
The speech that gave France back its pride
ndré Malraux is particularly remembered for the speech he gave when resistance fighter Jean Moulin’s remains were moved to the Panthéon in 1964. It centred on De Gaulle’s achievement in keeping France together during the Nazi occupation, and in reconstructing France after the Liberation. It also lauded the role of the Resistance during the war. Jean Moulin, he said, was the man who united the disparate groups into a cohesive whole. If it was easy for the Resistance to blow up a bridge, it was also easy for the Nazis to repair it, he explained. But bit by bit the Resistance realised that once the groups were working together, it was just as easy to blow up 200 bridges, and much more difficult for the Nazis to repair them all at once. And that was Jean Moulin’s role; uniting the efforts of individual groups. Ignoring the various politics of each regional group or each leader was vital to the effort. Personal beliefs had to be sublimated to the overarching aim of France’s survival. That sublimation of the self for the good of the country, he said, was at the heart of ‘Gaullisme’. He then went on to describe in the most emotional terms Jean Moulin’s patriotism, his knowlof power. Malraux then kept a low political profile, travelling to Greece, Egypt, Iran, New York, Italy and Switzerland. In 1958, when De Gaulle came back to power, he took up the post of Minister of Information and Culture, and this was when he really made his mark on France, according to Pierre Coureux, President of the association Amitiés Internationales André Malraux. “He used his time to nurture all the arts in France. He moved against torture in Algeria, against colonialism, against repression and also supported post war cultural development.” Malraux never lost his passion for artists and the arts, and saw them as essential in the rebuilding of France; the only way to restore national identity and pride. “He made ideas important, thinking and creating. He wanted to reform life, put humanist values at the centre of post-war life in France.” He initiated the Maisons de la Culture, across the country, centres
Photos: Marc Robert/Musée de Sarlat; Mathieu Anglada
Place de la Liberté before the clean up and restoration
edge of precisely what awaited those arrested by the Gestapo, and his eventual arrest and gruesome torture. Malraux used all his literary skills to paint an emotional picture of Jean Moulin as the head of the French Resistance, which was slightly overblown. He then conjured up a heart-warming, eye-glistening image of legions of loyal French citizens working faithfully for the Resistance, despite the threat of Nazi atrocities, living in the shadows, risking everything for the sake of the country, completely glossing over the multiple instances of French collaboration and betrayal. In 1964, nobody was interested in looking at history through a clear lens. He used the speech to re-write French history, spin it into a glorious tale of derring-do, massive courage, and victory wrested from the hands of the devil by French peasants and beggars armed with bazookas. The speech was rapturously received, giving as it did, pride back to the French people, many of whom were secretly all too aware of the truth. But here was a government Minister glorifying the French response to the Occupation. It took many years before France was able to look at its history more clearly and the country is still coming to terms with its role in the Second World War.
André Malraux pictured in 1933
which contain libraries, exhibition and performance spaces, as well as teaching facilities with the idea that culture should be within everyone’s grasp. “Culture was his religion,” says Pierre Coureux. “He was given a tiny budget but he managed to reconstruct France’s cultural life, make people proud of their country.” The Loi Malraux (1962) identified historic city centres and protected them from redevelopment. It also introduced tax breaks to financially help reconstruction of these city centres, which is perhaps one reason why today tourists love France and the beautiful architectural heritage which makes so many of its towns tourist-magnets. Malraux was also one of the first politicians to understand that cultural exchange is a powerful political and diplomatic tool. Lending French artworks to other countries demonstrates the breadth and richness of French culture; a lesson that President Macron is still putting into action with his loan of the Bayeux Tapestries to the UK.
Malraux saved Sarlat but left locals stone-faced In a new series featuring rural time travel, Jane Hanks looks at key events in the history of one of Dordogne’s most popular spots Secret history of villages
ver two million tourists visit Sarlat, Dordogne every year to enjoy the warm stone of its medieval buildings. It has the highest concentration of classified buildings per square metre of any town in Europe. However, this would not have been possible without the Loi Malraux passed in 1962, which was designed to preserve France’s architectural heritage at a time when town centres throughout the country were falling into disrepair and demolition and rebuilding was the fashion. Sarlat was the inspiration for these regulations that would change many of France’s historic centres. However, the transformation was difficult for its residents at the time, who were forced to undergo building works whether they wanted them or not. Culture Minister André Malraux was already aware of the exceptional quality of buildings in Sarlat, and 42 had already been classed as historic monuments, before his law came in. However, at that time, the ancient buildings were in disrepair. Hardly any had bathrooms or toilets and few had running water. The heavy stone lauzetiled roofs were damaged and extremely dangerous and many windows had been blocked up for tax purposes. The population, around 1,300, was nearly twice today’s figure. Malraux said his new law had two aims: “to conserve our architectural heritage and improve living and working conditions.” It was not just the façades that were to be upgraded, but also the streets themselves and the buildings’ interiors. Standards used were those applied to new council houses, HLMs, which meant
each household was to have a bathroom, electricity and running water. A third of the cost of the restoration was paid by the state and owners could get a low-cost loan at 5% over 20 to 30 years for the rest. Work in Sarlat began in 1964, at around the same time as the law was also applied to Lyon, Avignon, Troyes and Le Marais in Paris. However, not everyone was happy. Many of those living in the town centre were elderly and their families had lived there for generations. They had to move out during the works and not all of them returned, not adjusting to the change even though rentals were kept at the council housing rates of the time. In a TV documentary, one elderly resident was asked whether she would be happy to have a bathroom at last: “Ah, we don’t need a bathroom. We’re too old. We won’t know how to use it. We don’t understand what it is.” Another man, whose father and grandfather had lived there before him, was not at all pleased he had to move out during the works: “I want to stay in my home”, he said. Some people complained they were not kept informed properly, but the works were obligatory and if you lived in an area designated as a secteur sauvegardé, you were required as an owner to restore your building. Not everyone could afford it and some had to leave for good. It was an enormous upheaval as buildings were restored, and streets repaved after lighting was installed. In the first five to six years work on 40 buildings was completed, and the restoration project continued into the early 1970s. Social life was boosted with the creation of lodgings, shops and public spaces and tourism increased as word spread about the new found beauty of Sarlat (pictured today, inset).
24 The big picture
French Living I June 2018
A passion for brushstrokes in Brittany Samantha David meets the artist who has brought his favourite corners of Brittany to the canvas
retagne Aquarelles, also published in English as Brittany Sketchbook is a glorious collection of watercolours accompanied by evocative texts which conjure up the various aspects of Brittany. Fabrice Moireau painted the pictures between June and September last year on a series of six 10-day trips to various parts of Brittany, an area he knows well from his childhood. “I was born in Blois and spent many happy holidays in Brittany, but I didn’t know all of it and when I started this book I was amazed at the variety of scenery I discovered.” He says he has been painting since before he can remember. “I sketch in fact, and only paint in watercolours because I love the colours, I need them, I relish them.” He always wanted to be an artist. “I drew like a maniac at three years-old and I never stopped. So it was always art for me, I always had top marks in art at school, and when I left school I studied art in Orléans and then went to study in Paris when I was just 18.” Very modest, he says he doesn’t see himself as an artist because he paints work which has been commissioned by a publisher. “People says it’s quite rare to earn your living from your art, but when people say I’m an artist I laugh because I produce commercial images. I have to produce what my editors sell, I produce books on classic subjects. So I’m not completely free to follow my own artistic path.” The watercolours in Bretagne Aquarelles/Brittany Sketchbook capture well-loved seaside images: the sea crashing against the rocks; a lighthouse standing tall; a yacht tossed on foamy waves, boats drawn up on the sand, as well as scenes from inland: peaceful farmland; half-timbered townhouses; a
sleepy church, moss-covered stones; tranquil hamlets and villages. Reading it really is like touring Brittany without moving from the sofa. M Moireau finds it hard to choose which region in France he prefers painting most. “France is very big, and extremely diverse, and its shape means it touches different worlds at its frontiers; Spain, Italy, Germany, etc and if you count le Centre, the Alps, and Paris that makes 5-6 universes at least, so it’s impossible to choose.
Scenes from Brittany (top to bottom): the beach and rocky inlet at Le Guerzido; Abbaye de Beauport near Paimpol; and fishermen at work
“Brittany is a favourite because of my childhood memories, but the Périgord is also fabulous, I love the area around Sarlat with all those stone houses. And Provence is also wonderful, as everyone knows. Who can say which region is the best? They’re all wonderful. Normandy is sublime also. I was born near the châteaux of the Loire Valley which is also stunning and my memories of it are very fond.” His other great love is Paris. “I won a place at art school and off I went full of hope. I remember stepping out of the train and in that minute thinking ‘this is it, this is my city, the place I belong’. I was fascinated by it. I knew that Paris
was made for me, I knew I would meet my future there, meet much more varied people, make new friends, develop my full personality there...” So it is no surprise that his next project is a very large book all about Paris. “It’s an enormous project. There will be around 400 watercolours in total, painted in all the various parts of Paris even including some of the closer suburbs. “I’ve started it and still have quite a lot more to do. I’m enjoying it tremendously because of course it means spending time in that magical city. I’m very excited about it – I think the book is going to be fabulous.”
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The Connexion June 2018
ME AND MY OPERATION: Mastectomy
Breast cancer returned just after we moved to France When Sue Caroll, 57, moved to the Creuse in 2010 with husband Jim, 62, she was in remission from breast cancer. However, the cancer returned in 2014. Series by Gillian Harvey Initial symptoms I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast in 2006, after which I’d had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and 18 months of Herceptin. I was formally discharged from the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in 2011. However, in 2014, I noticed changes in my left breast – it was hard to the touch, and the nipple had become inverted. Examination I made an appointment for a mammogram, which identified a potential mass. Medical staff then carried out a biopsy on both sides, due to my history and symptoms, after which I was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. I was told to find a gynaecologist to oversee my treatment. As I hadn’t yet received my Carte Vitale, I panicked. Thankfully, I rang Cancer Support France who calmed me down and even provided a translator to support me. Treatment The consultant at the hospital in Limoges told me that I’d need a mastectomy and removal of lymph-nodes on my right breast and a lumpectomy on my left. However, before the procedure I was advised to have chemotherapy to shrink the tumour on the left side. A tiny metal chip was injected into my breast to help attract the chemotherapy, and I went through six rounds of treatment over five months. Operation Once chemotherapy had finished, I was booked in for a lumpectomy and mastectomy. On the day of my operation, I was admitted at lunchtime and in surgery just a few hours later. The operation itself took
FACTS ON A MASTECTOMY
Dr Betty Lauratet, Gynaecologist/Obstetrician, Clinique Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
When might a mastectomy, rather than a lumpectomy, be performed? Lumpectomy is a less-invasive treatment for breast cancer; it should always be carried out with radiotherapy to avoid relapse. A mastectomy might be recommended for certain types of cancer. Mastectomy might also be the chosen course of action if the patient cannot undergo radiotherapy for health reasons, has already undergone a lumpectomy with radiotherapy, or if chemotherapy has had no effect. Mastectomies are also offered to women with the BRCA gene mutation. How long does the procedure take? A mastectomy operation lasts between one and two hours. It depends on the size of the breast and whether additional exploration is carried out. What happens afterwards? Recovery is straightforward. A patient is usually up and about within 48 hours.
The length of time in hospital is usually between three and five days, after which the patient can return home. The dressing is changed every 48 hours by a nurse, until no longer necessary. When is reconstruction offered? Immediate breast reconstruction is sometimes offered: for example, with a small lesion, less than 1cm, together with negative lymph nodes, if the surgery is preventative or if radiotherapy has already been administered. However, with some cancers, or if the nodes are affected, it may be necessary to carry out reconstruction later. Are there any side-effects? Some patients refuse reconstruction and as such have an altered body image. There is also the risk of scarring. Some patients suffer swelling of the arms, tingling sensations in the arm, or limited movement after lymph nodes have been removed.
NEXT MONTH: We look at a fused disc back operation in France about two hours, and I woke attached to a morphine drip, as well as three drains: two on my right side and one on my left. Aftercare The drains on the left side were taken off the following day, but those on the right stayed in for five days. After two days, I was taken off a morphine drip, but my pain was managed superbly. Unfortunately, I developed a problem with my arm, which became hard to the touch. A scan to check for blockages came back clear and so I was given regular massages to improve my circulation. A week after the operation, I was discharged. Before leaving hospital, I was given gel dressings to apply on my front and back, held on with a kind of “boob tube” dressing. I also had two weeks of daily blood-thinning injections and a blood test every five days for a month. After six weeks, I saw my surgeon. One thing that surprised me was I wasn’t offered physio, which was standard in the UK. But I remembered exercises from last
time... and started doing them in hospital! Further treatment Two months after the operation I began having daily radiotherapy on my left breast. This went on for six weeks, during which I’d see a doctor every week, and the consultant once a month. After my treatment finished, I was told I would be monitored regularly. For the following two years, I saw a specialist (either the gynaecologist, the oncologist or radiologist) every four months and then my appointments became six-monthly. I was also prescribed Létrozole – an anti-oestrogen drug – for five years. Reconstruction I hope to undergo reconstruction but have been advised to lose 15kg beforehand. I’m seeing a dietician for support and advice. Cancer Support France supports English-speaking cancer sufferers and their families in France. See cancersupportfrance.org
France has 258 varieties of cheese This is false THERE is debate about the exact number General de Gaulle used when he asked “How do you govern a country with 258 varieties of cheese?” but it is a fine illustration of the complexity of la France profonde. Whether it was 258, 300 or 365 does not blur the sense of identity people take from local cheese: made by local people, using local breeds and using skills passed down through generations. Cheese and wine
In this regular column we look at the ‘truths’ that everyone ‘knows’ about France help create a national French identity but they also pinpoint local differences or terroir – and at least 258, 300 or 365 of them. So, it may be a surprise to find that France has just 45 varieties of AOP cheese... but it also totals an amazing 1,200 other cheeses made up of 40 different types, according to
the dairy federation Cniel. Surprisingly, with the great rise in the number of cheeses since de Gaulle spoke in 1962, cheeses are still disappearing from market; more than 50 have gone in the last 30 years. The Association Fromages de Terroirs says it is due to “galloping standardisation” with just 7% of all cheeses still made with raw lait cru and nearly half of all AOC cheeses made with pasteurised milk. It decries a loss of taste and fears industrial cheeses will take
over as they use pasteurised milk and are cheaper. Take the example of Camembert, until this year only unpasteurised milk was allowed in ‘Camembert de Normandie AOP’ but dairy giants’ got round this by labelling their pasteurised version ‘Made in Normandy’. Now the Inra standards body says pasteurised milk can also be used in AOP Camembert... so the cheaper version is at risk of killing off the half-dozen surviving artisan cheesemakers.
Data protection beefed up, firms must act now EUROPEAN citizens should now be better protected from data misuse as new rules come into force giving them more control of their data and making businesses liable for keeping the data secure. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR – RGPD in France) applies to all firms, irrespective of size, that process citizens’ data such as name, address, email, bank details, photo, health, religion or other identity information. Its main target is ‘large-scale’ processing by big firms and aims to give EU residents control, allowing them to access any data held and the right ‘to be forgotten’ (ie data removed) – and for firms to ensure data is stored only as long as relevant. However, small businesses must also abide by the regulation, although those who hold limited personal data have little to do, other than keep the data secure, especially if sensitive, and weed out old contacts. Those with mailing lists, especially if bought in or taken over from a previous business, should be getting in touch with
people listed to get unambiguous consent to the use of their data with reasons for using it. Changes came into force on May 25 after a two-year ‘grace’ period. Many data users have been asking for ‘clear consent’ from clients to use emails, etc and saying why it is being used. Parental consent is also needed for the data of under-16s. Asking permission is now mandatory and data should be encrypted for protection. If there is a breach clients must be informed within 72 hours. Brexit will not effect the need for UK firms to comply as the UK government has said it will mirror the GDPR post-Brexit. Fines for non-compliance can reach up to €20million or 4% of turnover. In France the CNIL information watchdog is responsible for policing. Its president, Isabelle FalquePierrotin, said compliance was easy and added that no guillotine would fall on businesses working to comply. The law firm Pinsent Masons and insurer Hiscox has written a guide to the changes for small firms – tinyurl.com/ycfkas3b
Free app scans food label and gives a health rating MORE than 1.7million people in France have downloaded an iPhone and Android app that scans food products’ barcodes and gives a health rating. Called Yuka, it was developed by François Martin and others at yuka.io after an opinion poll said 80% of people found food labels unreadable. Based on Nutri-score government five-colour ratings and OpenFoodFacts database, it uses marks out of 100, giving 60% for nutritional quality, 30% for additives and 10% for organic. Yuka is free. It raises income through a nutrition plan and donations.
Beekeepers find new way to beat killer Asian hornet BEEKEEPERS are continuing to fight back against Asian hornets, frelons asiatiques, that destroy valuable hives. New weapons include innovative traps and even farmyard hens. They have created a coneshaped mesh trap baited with honey and wax from the bottom of the hive to attract and trap queen hornets and workers, who kill their bees. In Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, a beekeeper also found that hens snapped up hornets hovering outside hives to catch bees and he has now moved 70 of his hives on to a farm. Asian hornets are smaller than European hornets and have yellow legs. Their nests are only measure about 3cm at this time of year and are difficult to spot even in light foliage. These grow to rugby-ball size over summer with up to 8,000
hornets and several queens. By this time they have killed or stressed the bees. Householders who spot a nest on their property are probably best advised to call in a pest control agent and pay about €100-€180 to get rid of it safely. You can also call your mairie but although prefects have been given authority to destroy nests they have no obligation to pay for the destruction. Some honey-producing areas like Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes or Alpes-Maritimes have organised services and some towns, such as Caen, will also take on the task but there is no national rule and, as yet, no law. Some towns also offer simple traps. Briton Robert Moon, a French-licensed pest control officer in Cher, said a beer-bait trap attracts hornets but, as it has yeast, does not attract bees.
Use these pages to find English-speaking tradespeople and firms across France. For your security, we check that all French businesses listed in this section are registered. The listings are arranged geographically by the 5 landline telephone zones of France. P23 All of France All Tel Codes
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The start of summer is an important time to be marketing your home for sale Even with the terrible weather we have had for the earlier part of the year, June sees the start of summer and with it the most important time of year for anyone wanting to sell a house in France. Your property is looking its best and buyers are here in their greatest numbers. The dream of a house in France is never more tempting than when the weather is warm and long lazy lunches in the sun are a reality. French Properties Direct can help vendors who want to sell their properties privately make the most of this opportunity. In addition to saving you and the buyer the hefty cost of estate agency commission, they can help you create an advert for your property which will appear on the highest ranking international property portals and social media platforms. They also create a brochure which you or your buyers can print and keep for reference. They help with text
and photo editing and screen all enquiries before forwarding them to you to minimise nuisance e-mails. Sue Adams, the company’s founder, explains, “buyers plan their viewing trips carefully. Time is valuable to them and they use the internet to research properties they want to visit very carefully. We have found they value our services because we are able to put them in direct contact with the owner of a property they are interested in. As a
consequence they can find out so much more than if they were talking to an estate agent, who is, after all, a middle-man. We believe this makes a property we are advertising much more likely to make it to the serious buyer’s short list for their viewing trip.” If you are trying to sell your house in France, or are thinking about it, get in touch with Sue at French Properties Direct. For a small fixed fee the company will create your internet adverts and brochures, including text and photograph editing if you wish, post your adverts on the highest ranking international property portals, and use social media and targeted e-mail marketing to maintain your advert’s visibility. They have a help desk to assist you if you get stuck at any stage and regularly send you topical updates about the marketplace. Most importantly, when you sell there is no further fee or commission for either you or your buyer to pay them.
To find out more speak to Sue on +33 (0)6 71 61 09 26 Or e-mail her at email@example.com www.frenchpropertiesdirect.com
The Connexion June 2018
ALL OF FRANCE
The language is a castle for exploring, not for attacking !! “And one-to-one courses are an excellent method to try.” So says Claire Campbell, a professional teacher with an Oxford degree and years of experience in language teaching. The castle idea is suggested by the fortress of Quéribus, which looks down on the picturesque village of Cucugnan, where she welcomes students of all ages to take language courses of a week or two, for one person or two, as required. Leafing through her Visitors Book gives an excellent impression of what people have gained from her courses. The latest page includes the following: “It was with great trepidation that I e-mailed Claire re booking this course. I had tried so many other methods. In a class situation I had been reluctant to speak out and consequently so much passed over my head. “Claire was inspirational. She seemed to sense my level of competence and stretched me while at the same time she put me at my
ease and gave me space to make mistakes without judgment or embarrassment, and all the while making it fun. Claire’s enthusiasm and knowledge is catching, so I have been inspired to continue working at home through the stories and the exercises suggested by her . “I loved my little apartment on the top floor and made it my home. Cucugnan is a delight, even in winter, and my hike up to Quéribus was brilliant. “I am sure my French has improved during this week. Rules which were foggy now
become clearer and I feel so much more confident. It has been a wonderful enlivening experience.” Other reviews, to be found on Tripadvisor or on her own website, also mention increasing confidence. According to Claire, confidence is the key. So many people have had discouraging experiences, either at school or at classes in France. Too many learners have come away convinced that French is too difficult, and that they are incompetent . “Well, it isn’t and they aren’t !!!” “If the language is a castle, then the long walk up should be enjoyable, with new vistas opening up as you go, and a wonderful view from the top,” she says. The little apartment referred to is the accommodation included in the course-price. It has a kitchen , but the village also has three restaurants, a famous bakery, and excellent local wineries. Altogether, a week with Claire is a pleasant holiday as well as language course. Christine Haworth-Staines UK Chartered Psychologist
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Contact: 06 88 59 91 90 firstname.lastname@example.org
French Properties Direct Buy or sell a French property privately. No estate agency fees to pay……. www.frenchpropertiesdirect.com email@example.com
HOUSES ON INTERNET Sell your property to a worldwide audience using our global network. Our fees are the lowest in France, our results are the best. WWW. HOUSESONINTERNET.COM
Planning a trip? Don’t forget TRAVEL INSURANCE
Tel: +31 (0)6 41 20 73 69
Pre-existing medical conditions cover option
Penny at GSAR Brokers
The new way to buy & sell property in France Join Us Today
Free floor plan included
www.arbfrenchproperty.com firstname.lastname@example.org TEL: 0044 (0) 1803 469367
BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER If you are selling your French home our knowledgeable local team would be delighted to meet you as soon as possible.
n Free estimation A dedicated contact working as part of a team n Award-winning marketing n Thousands of registered buyers Freephone from France: 08 05 69 23 23 email@example.com www.beauxvillages.com n
firstname.lastname@example.org 05 53 40 15 71
SwissLife Insurance British staff only Since 1898, we have specialised in top-up health, home, car insurance and private banking. Please call Peter and Lawrence On: 05 56 28 94 64 Web: swisslife-health-insurance.fr email@example.com
FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATES & CLIENT SERVICE 05 53 06 36 70
PIONEER FRANCE Hundreds of practical questions are answered in Connexion helpguides Order downloads at
ALL OF FRANCE
The Connexion June 2018
Complete solution to fosse septique problems There’s little worse than a smelly or blocked fosse septique, but there is a simple, ecological and costeffective treatment, say Eco-tabs Europe founders Shelly and Tim Burns-O’Regan WITH costly emptying charges and the potential to smell or get blocked, fosse septiques can be a homeowner’s nightmare. But an innovative product now exists which not only takes away the need to empty your fosse, but also removes odours and reduces blockages. Eco-tabs are purely bacterial-based, not a combination of enzymes like many competitive products. They help to increase overall system efficiency, reduce costly maintenance and eliminate the need for
toxic chemicals and special handling procedures. The tablets work by oxygenating the water in the fosse, removing hydrogen sulfide odours, preventing corrosion, and initiating aerobic biological breakdown of organic sludge, including oils and grease. Store bought products that are enzyme based liquify the solids for them to reform later. So you will still need to pump out your tank. Eco-tabs degrade the solids and remove those pesky odours. Company founders Shelly and Tim BurnsO’Regan say: “Our company is founded on the core belief that eco-friendly, non-toxic waste treatment products have become a necessity in today’s environmentally sensitive and fragile ecosystem. We also provide excellent customer service and follow up as fed back from our customers.” An eco-tabs Clean out Pack starts at 66€ ( exc TVA, p+p) for a standard 3000 litre
tank compared to the cost of a pump out truck ranging from 125€ up to 400€, this is a no-brainer. “Simply flush a tablet down the toilet each month to maintain a healthy fosse septique. Or, as an alternative to pumping out, use two tabs and one bag of our Shock powder and watch the magic. “Not only do the tabs oxygenate the water, which removes the odours, the sludge is eaten away by the bacteria. The result: a clean fosse which does not need to be pumped out… all that remains is water.” Eco-tabs are compatible for old septic tanks right through to the new microstation systems. To ensure that you are only buying the products necessary for your tank, we offer a Personalised Treatment Plan which will recommend the ideal products for you. Visit: www.eco-tabs.biz and click on the link for a Personalised Treatment Plan.
Eco-tabs are 100% ecological and mean you don’t need to pump out your fosse For more information, visit the website or contact Tim on +33 (0)6 35 96 95 12 www.eco-tabs.biz firstname.lastname@example.org
Heslop & Platt
TOP PRICE FOR VINYL RECORDS
Solicitors & French
Tel: 05 63 94 08 91 Mobile: 06 83 32 65 15
Dedicated English speaking agency staffed by native English speakers
• • • • • •
Insurance Health insurance Pensions & Investments Life assurance Banking & lending Business insurance
Tel: 05 61 07 16 84 email@example.com www.axa-in-france.fr
For Daily updates see connexionfrance.com
ASTTRAL sa INSURANCE BROKERS
Regulated Insurance Broker Independent not tied to one company, best price & quality We can meet all your insurance needs Health (top up or private), House, Car, Business / Commercial Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 04 68 32 41 20 Web: www.asttral.com Siret No: 411 673 106 00018
French & UK Mortgages House Purchases, Capital Raising, Renovations, Remortgages, Bridging Loans, BTL. +44 (0)1189076586 +33 (0)7 80 00 62 97 +44 (0)7990934612 bluebaymortgages.co.uk email@example.com
Accountants and Tax Advisors Paris & London offices Services offered in France and UK Tax Returns n Accounts n Business setup n Payroll n VAT
Paris Tel: +33 142931842 London Tel: +44 845 680 1638 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Providing quality, professional and efficient French legal advice in English Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930
Stop cleaning your pool yourself PoolGobbler Pro automatically removes all flies, wasps and leaves from your pool surface.
or call 0565 319623
INDEPENDENT BROKERS Working with selected insurers to find the best policy for your needs at competitive rates MOTOR, HOUSE, MEDICAL
Exclusive Healthcare Your Helping Hand to the French Health System
+33 (0) 4 94 40 31 45
For information and quotes in English contact Penny at G.S.A.R. 05 53 40 15 71
Jean-Marie LECOMTE ST HILAIRE DU HARCOUET - 50600
HOME - CAR - HEALTH We insure UK registered cars for up to 12 months
(call Angeline) - 02 33 49 12 34 email@example.com
Hundreds of practical questions are answered in Connexion helpguides Order print / downloads at connexionfrance.com
Advice on all aspects of living in France, buying/selling, French administration, income tax, etc... Competent, experienced. Contact me now for your free consultation.
Rachel THOMAS-BONNET LLB Hons +33 (0)6 62 78 39 77 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit me at
or email@example.com 82120 Marsac
Bespoke renewable energy heating systems including solar, wood /pellet , ASHP, UFH ... More information on our website.
Tel : 07 67 04 07 53 firstname.lastname@example.org
Specialists in supplying quality New and Pre-owned French registered vehicles We buy LHD/RHD vehicles Part-exchanges welcome Unlike UK LHD specialists we handle all the paperwork and re-register the vehicle in your name at our premises! French registered, English owned company
Tel 0033 (0)4 74 43 89 51 or 0033 (0)6 84 85 04 61 email@example.com
Cars, motorhomes and vans wanted Both LHD and RHD.
Also part-exchange. Collection in the UK or France. Polite service. Please email, text or telephone and we will call you back.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel +33 (0) 6 88 07 20 36 +44 (0) 7473 293494
Fuel saving, efficient, wi-fi connected INSTALLERS also wanted Full training, support www.ecopowereurope.com email@example.com
Just Kitchens A complete service from planning to installation
Suppliers of German kitchens by Häcker And English Kitchens and furniture by Neptune Plus a range of work surfaces and appliances Visit our website: www.justkitchens.fr Or call for a chat: 05.62.58.03.64 All of France with showrooms in the South West
FOSSE SEPTIQUE TREATMENT An ecological alternative to a pump out www.eco-tabs.biz
SSAFA FRANCE The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association
Help available for ex-servicemen and their families living in France Email: France@ssafa.org.uk France-wide answer service Tel: 05 53 24 92 38 The national charity helping serving and ex-Service men, women and their families, in need Registered Charity No. 210760. Est 1885
Electric Underfloor Heating Kits Extensions and New Build Tiles, Wood/Laminate Floors Insulation Boards Contact for Quotation firstname.lastname@example.org www.chaleurosol.fr
Movers - Shippers - Storers
Full and Part Loads throughout Europe Tel +44 (0)23 8065 2630 Email email@example.com www.cranburys.co.uk
Tel: 06 27 66 33 74
Regions: All France - Siret: 502962772
SkyInFrance Latest Sky & Freesat decoders supplied & installed Sky subscriptions available without UK address.
Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.com Siret - 48003796900015
FRANCE & UK COLLECTION Delivery and Removals Full or Part Loads
REALISTIC PRICES Call Steve: 05 49 97 11 25 firstname.lastname@example.org Siret: 50323244900010A
The Connexion June 2018
The best way to furnish your property in France Furniture for France has many years’ experience of supplying high quality furniture to its customers FURNITURE for France is now in its fifteenth year of supplying quality furniture to properties in France.
New French inspired oak furniture designs being introduced for 2018
Light Haulage Ltd. UK-France-UK Man with a van service Reliable, ex-police Fully insured, competitive rates
For further information please call Mick or Helen on Tel: UK 0333 022 0359 Fr: 07 68 64 22 54 www.milenlighthaulage.co.uk email@example.com
REFLEX MOODYS LTD SALISBURY
REMOVALS UK - FRANCE - UK • Weekly Service • Full & Part Loads • Container Storage • BAR Members • On-line Quotation • Estimates in France
00 44 1722 414350 firstname.lastname@example.org www.reflexmoodys.com Company Regn No: UK 5186435 TVA / VAT No: UK 864 7217 04
George White European Transport Special rates to S/W France 13.6m/45ft trailer - Full/Part loads Removals/ materials/vehicles Owner driver. RHA member
Tel: +44 (0)7768 867 360 Fax: +44 (0)1773 570 090 Fr Mobile: +33 (0)6 23 03 85 59 www.georgewhiteeuropean.co.uk
CHEAP PARCELS TO FRANCE One simple price up to 25Kg Delivery in 3 - 4 working days The savvy expat’s favourite service!
Tel: 0044 1738 633220 www.pharosparcel.com
Need Urgent Documents Delivered? Need a Full/Part Load? For all your Courier & Transport Needs
Gateway International for more information
+33 (0)6 77 75 97 14 or +44 (0) 1483 808686 email@example.com www.gatewayinternational.co.uk
The company specialises in providing clients with a customised service that offers good quality UK-sourced furniture without the hassle of arranging delivery and ordering furniture in the UK. Furniture for France works with its customers all the way from the initial enquiry through to installing the furniture in their homes Offering advice on all aspects of a customer’s order, such as sofa coverings, wood finishes and delivery schedules, ensures they are kept informed every step of the way. “With 15 years’ experience and thousands of deliveries under our belts throughout France, we have encountered almost everything and put that to good use when advising and helping customers find the right furniture for their property in France,” said the company’s managing director Brian Muir. The delivery service offered includes room
by room installation of all furniture ordered, this includes assembly of all oak beds and wardrobes as these come in sections for ease of access to difficult staircases. All other items are solid, no assembly pieces. Our deliveries are timed to the hour on the agreed date of delivery. The Furniture for France face book page will keep you up to date with all the latest news. Six new ranges of oak have recently been introduced, including traditional styles in a rustic finish. With competitively priced solid oak furniture it is no wonder Furniture for France had its best ever year in 2017. In addition to the new oak furniture a choice of 12 different paint colours are now available on all pine furniture. Wood samples can also be sent out to customers if required. “With delivery costs starting at just £59 for any quantity of furniture, there really isn’t a better or easier way to furnish a property in
REMOVALS - STORAGE GENERAL TRANSPORT EXPRESS SERVICE 1 CUBIC METRE TO FULL TRAILER LOADS DEDICATED EXPRESS LOADS WAREHOUSE DROP OFF SERVICE SINGLE BOX / PART LOAD SPECIALIST SERVICE
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT : MURRAY HARPER EUROPEAN 0034 952793422 EMAIL INFO@MURRAYHARPER.COM WWW.MURRAYHARPER.COM
Moving to or from France? Weekly services to & from France
Full or part loads, 4 wks free storage, 35 Years experience Bar Member Contact: Anglo French Removals Tel: +44 (0) 1622 690 653
A wide range of quality indoor furniture and sofas supplied and delivered direct to your French property saving you time and money. Full installation of all furniture Delivery from just £99 Tel 06 46 49 73 45 firstname.lastname@example.org www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk
Love French Interiors
Wide choice of finish options. Full customisation possible.
Bespoke Design service available. Delivery throughout France.
0044 (0) 20 3474 0092
WOODBURNERS Ash Grove Stoves Supplier of Hunter - Parkway
5 Star accommodation for Dogs/Cats l l l l l
Underfloor heated kennels Qualified staff Top Quality food and exercise Only 45 minutes south of Caen Convenient Ferry Access
www.goldenwaypets.com Telephone 02 33 37 49 19 Emergency 02 33 38 41 32 Fax 02 33 38 44 16
Sure Sweeps Formally HETAS, & NACS registered Fully Insured - No Mess Competitive Rates 02 14 15 58 52 email@example.com
Steve Hayward Carpentry, masonry, plastering, kitchens, replacement windows and doors
www.mesnilrenovation.com Tel. 02 31 09 26 54 Siret 48423125300010
Loft conversations / installation. Plaster-boarding. Brick & blockwork. Lime & traditional pointing. Rendering. Tiling & wood treatments Tel: 02 96 83 97 49 / Mob: 06 58 04 51 46 firstname.lastname@example.org
Siret 51442634500013 - Covering Depts 22, 35, 56
Tel: 00 44 (0) 1392 861579 www.ashgrovestoves.com email@example.com
Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasion, Christmas, Hand-made and Open - From €1.00 Hand Written Service Available
Tel: 02 97 60 27 21 firstname.lastname@example.org
www.englishcardsinfrance.net Siret: 538 583 60000019
Pete's Roofing Covering the Gard
All types of roofs renewed / repaired Velux roof windows - Guttering
04 66 72 75 84
Clean Burn - Fire Visible Boiler versions available Deliveries all over France Prices on our website Lowest Prices Guaranteed
see our shop at connexionfrance.com
Chenil Les Mille Calins
For unique and frenchthemed gift ideas
1800 British clients trust us 02 96 87 21 21 email@example.com Dinan, Brittany
Hand crafted from Mahogany.
SELF STORAGE DOVER
Tel: +44 (0) 1304 822 844
English registered cars House insurance - Health cover
French Reproduction Furniture.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.anglofrenchremovals.co.uk
Convenient, Flexible, Secure Working with your Movers 24/7 Access
Furniture for France
SPAIN - UK - FRANCE SERVICE
PROFESSIONAL EXPORT PACKING
France,” said Mr Muir. Throughout 2017 sofas continued to be the best-selling individual item for the company. Loose-covered designs are always top of the list with the introduction of more complex fabric patterns and colours allowing customers to custom cover the sofa of their choice. “This process can take some Stylish Highcleare fixed cover sofa design time to work through, but as the product has a life expectancy of introduce great ranges of furniture for over 15 years, it pays to get it right,” said Mr delivery to our customers in France without Muir. Furniture for France makes deliveries compromising on quality or service.” as far afield as Geneva and Nice, as well as locally to customers in the Dordogne, the 06 46 49 73 45 Lot, Charente and Limousin. email@example.com Mr Muir added: “We will continue to www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk
Siret No: 50066265500017
Multi-Service - Builders
English TV in your French Home
Everything from repairs and maintenance to complete A-Z renovation and decoration. References – Professional – Reliable
Karl - 06 04 45 63 57 / Paul - 06 34 95 19 71
Professional installations in Brittany & Normandy
Mail-order throughout France Free, friendly, helpful advice
AUDE & HERAULT
02 97 27 58 50 www.tvbrittany.com
Need someone to help with property maintenance problems, home improvements, renovations, Exteriors, Gardens & Pools.
Contact Anthony Main 0033 (0)4 30 34 17 90 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.midibuilder.com Siret 4846 8735 500012
05 SOUTH west
The Connexion June 2018
Taking the paperwork and pain out of a left-hand drive vehicle purchase At Gary Automobiles near Lyon, convenience and quality are assured for customers buying a left-hand drive car ARE YOU looking to buy a left-hand drive vehicle for your new life in France? Gary Automobiles is an English-owned motor dealer based just outside of Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes, specialising in the supply of quality new and pre-owned, left-hand drive, French registered vehicles to expats moving to France. The company has been operating in France since July 1 2003 and customers only ever deal with Gary personally. Convenience for the customer is a key element in the company’s ethos, which is why Gary Automobiles now has the facility to register your vehicle in your name at
their premises – meaning there is need to worry about translation and paperwork issues. Gary will issue your new carte grise directly from his office and can even arrange your French motor insurance and transfer your no claims bonus. “I remember how hard it was to understand the French paperwork and red tape when I made the move over to France in 2001. I am happy to assist fellow expats and take that burden away,” says Gary. Reassuringly, they are fully French registered company with Siret / Siren / and TVA numbers and only supply vehicles with European specifications. For customers wishing to stay over and
visit the area (easyJet and Ryanair fly into nearby airports), Gary can come to collect you from the airport or train station, as well as arrange reservations or advise on local Lyonnais hotels. Another part of the service offered by Gary Automobiles is that they do not put people under pressure to make a purchase. They understand the logistics of moving abroad, so if they have a suitable vehicle in stock they we will keep it until you are ready to collect – with no time limitations. Part exchange with your right hand drive vehicle is also available, while the company
Wrought Iron Work Handrails Gates Railings Pergolas Stairs l
Inside & Outside l Made to Measure l Dept 46 Tel: 05 65 30 53 99 Email: email@example.com Web: www.ironwoodmotif.com
Aude / Herault Gary Alderson
Electrician Friendly, Experienced, UK Qualified, French Registered Rewires, Installation, Fault Finding Tel 07 83 05 29 43 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Plaster The Lot Qualified English Artisan
Plastering, Pointing, Crepi, Tiling, Plasterboard, Insulation, Painting Call: 05 65 10 76 90 Email: email@example.com
also provides a car sourcing service – meaning if they do not have the vehicle you want in stock, they will find it for you. For further recommendation, here are some previous customer comments: “Gary Automobiles made the whole process as painless as possible.” Colin Edwards “I have used Gary Automobiles to source and deliver a new car in France. Since I don’t speak French it was a delight to deal with Gary himself.” Tom Wall “Gary’s personal and English-speaking service has been really helpful and taken the hassle out of buying and keeping a car in France.” James Greig Gary Automobiles EURL Telephone: 0033 4 74 43 89 51 Mobile: 0033 6 84 85 04 61 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gary-automobiles.com
DEMPSEY TREE SURGERY CONTRACTORS British trained & qualified tree surgeon All tree work undertaken.
Tel: 05 45 65 96 86 Mob: 06 61 90 04 92 email@example.com www.dempseytreesurgery.com Working in dept: 16, 17, 24, 87 Siret: 48930027700014
Jardins du Périgord - Design - Creation - Garden management
High quality work by qualified gardeners
Gary at his office near Lyon
PHOENIX ANIMAL RESCUE
If you are thinking of giving an animal a home, please consider adopting. We have many cats and dogs looking for loving homes. Please visit us at:
www.phoenixasso.com www.facebook.com/ PhoenixAssociationFrance
www.plasterthelot.com Siret: 53068838100017 Regions Covered: 46, 19
Hundreds of practical questions answered in Connexion helpguides. Order print / downloads at connexionfrance.com
Luxury Cattery - Cales near Lalinde - Very Spacious - Lots of Love and Attention Tel: Paula 05 53 24 14 42 www.thecatsinncattery.com paulaL24150@aol.com Siret No.520 980 269 00010
THE DORDOGNE CATTERY
PENSION POUR CHATS NEAR SARLAT, OPEN-AIR, INSULATED AND HEATED CONTACT PETER Maslen 05 53 31 95 88 / 06 86 94 85 78 firstname.lastname@example.org www.dordognecattery.com
Swimming Pool Leak Detection and Repair www.fuitedetection.fr 04 68 26 61 22
design : parkes architecture SARL Architects & Designers Dossiers for Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables Interior & Landscape Design Ordre des Architectes No. 1867
Tel: 05 53 09 33 45 Fax : 05 53 09 36 12
Sky In France
Les Amis Des Chats
The Cats Inn
E: email@example.com W: www.parkesarchitecture.com Depts: 16,19,24,33,87
promotes sterilisation to improve the well-being of stray and pet cats in the rural villages of SW France.
Long established professional here to assist you with ALL your French admin, tax or business issues. 06.46253087 www.corporateandlegal.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Property Management Services * Property Check * Property Maintenance * Garden Services * Change Over * Design & Styling + 33 (0)5 45 82 55 93 / + 33 (0)7 70 76 58 89 www.gapdm.com / email@example.com
Bob Freeman Satellite and aerial systems installed and repaired. UK boxes available. Senior Sky engineer 05 53 06 08 65 firstname.lastname@example.org www.digitalsatellites.fr
ROBERT JONES ELECTRICITE Fully insured, registered electrician. Rewires, renovation, new builds, heating and A/C. Dépt. 47 Tél. 06 81 98 43 22 Email. email@example.com www.agenelec.com
ELECTRICIAN Experienced & French Registered.
484 432 323 00018 - Regions Covered: 24, 47, 33
CCTV CAMERAS WiFi NETWORKS BRITISH SATELLITE TV
Satellite Internet - Sonos Audio (systems) BBC iPlayer - Netflix - IPTV - VPN T: 06 80 55 06 09 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: Euroinstallations.com Region: South West Siret: 4526 2188 1000 39
Available for all types of electrical work. Insured and guaranteed. Areas: 16,17,24,47
Office: 05 63 59 85 16 www.skyinfrance.co.uk Please see our main advert in the Connexion
For Daily updates see connexionfrance.com
to help run our charity shops and events. Donations are also gratefully received at Les amis des chats, 82150 Roquecor. See how you can support us by visiting www-les-amis-des-chats.com Registered charity no: W821000447
For gift ideas
see our shop at connexionfrance.com CHURCHES
ANGLICAN CHURCH IN THE TARN Every Sunday: 11 am at BRENS CHURCH, GAILLAC
Tel: 05 46 86 07 61 Email: email@example.com
Info: 05 63 33 12 76 www.churchinmidipa.org
Siret No. 49376573200015
Sky, Freesat & French TV
Supplied & Fully Installed
WE NEED VOLUNTEERS
HEALTH AND COUNSELLING
Paul the Plasterer City & Guilds Qualified
Plastering, boarding, external pointing, painting and decoration Tel: 06 48 56 22 83 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopkins Renovations General building work. 22 years building experience in France. Full Assurance Décennale, near Monflanquin
05 53 36 34 59/ 06 08 71 53 49 email@example.com www.hopkinsrenovations.com Siret number: 417 916 574 00011
GARDEN SERVICES Creation, Garden Maintenance, Tree Surgery, Felling Property Services
Tel. 05 65 34 09 91
Working dept: south 19, 46
firstname.lastname@example.org DORDOGNE SERVICES
All Gardening Work - Cutting Strimming - Hedge Trimming Clearance - Property Services Depts - 24,46,47 Tel: Bob & Tracy 06 42 82 44 96 Email: email@example.com siret : 48293447800017
Chats du Quercy Cat rescue and Rehoming Charity
Where each cat recieves the best possible care and attention from the day it is admitted to the moment of its adoption. Please call to make an appointment on
05 63 94 73 97 www.chatsduquercy.fr
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS SOUTH OF FRANCE Is Alcohol Costing You More Than Money?
Call Alcoholics Anonymous.0820 200 257
www.aa-riviera.org Siret : 49197537100015
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS South West France Have you a problem? www.aafrance.net Or Call Shepperd 06.74.95.19.66 Angela 05.49.87.79.09
The Connexion June 2018
AXA Insurance in France from a dedicated English speaking agency - Don’t get lost in translation Agence AXA International is a dedicated English speaking AXA agency in France. The agency is staffed with a multi-skilled, native English speaking team, with years of experience in French, British and Irish insurance and banking between them As native English speakers we are able to make sure our clients understand the differences between foreign and French insurance. Our claims are handled in-house at the agency and we are there at the end of the phone if our clients need to make a claim. We offer a wide range of insurance from
traditional domestic insurances like house insurance, including second/holiday home, chambre d’hôtes, gites, mobile home, car insurance (including temporary cover for cars with foreign registration), classic cars, motorbikes, camping cars and touring caravans. If you need health insurance cover then we have a very comprehensive range of solutions for you starting with a simple hospital cover, EHIC top up insurance, right up to the award winning AXA PPP International Health care policy. This is a fantastic solution that provides worldwide cover and is especially interesting if you are not entitled to any refund from the French social security system. Once we’ve protected your belongings, we haven’t forgotten about protecting you! Our range extends to funeral plans, long term care plan, life assurance, pensions, assurance
vie/investments and income protection. Whatever your need is, we can personalise a solution for you. If you are a business client then we can offer tailor-made solutions to protect not only your business, but to protect you and your future. With over 30 years’ experience in banking, our team is happy to offer help and advice on AXA Banque products including our free bank account (conditions apply, please ask), and the fantastic Oligo account which offers many benefits which includes a cashback on your AXA insurance premiums paid through the account, interest paid on credit balances plus much, much more. If you are looking to buy a French property we can help you to finance the purchase. Our aim is to help you understand your insurance, in a language you understand, so that nothing is lost in translation.
FREE ACCOMMODATION OFFERED BY ELDERLY COUPLE SEEKING COMPANION and possible little home help (Other help kept plus femme de menage)
Own bedroom, shower, etc. MUST have car and drive, expenses paid. Would suit widow French/English looking for rent-free accommodation In Aude (dpt11) 40kms from Carcassonne Tel: +33 (0) 4 68 79 73 49 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for English speaking ASTRONOMERS
Preferable central France.
DOG GROOMER GRADIGNAN NEAR BORDEAUX
new Brexit and Britons in France helpguide out June 21, 2018
PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED 15 YEARS EXPERIENCE CALL DYAN OR EMAIL
Tel: 0044 (0) 775 6413 777 email@example.com
What’s next and what to expect with interviews, analysis, reader stories and an overview of the practical issues.
www.facebook.com/perigordjazz Telephone: 05 53 29 91 92 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-order at connexionfrance.com
JAZZ TRIO comprising singer (George Shearing/ Syd Lawrence) guitars and bass
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY UK resident living in SW area seeks person for joint vehicles sales venture (Cars and light commercials). Should have mechanical and sales knowledge. SAMATAN, LOMBEZ, GERS AREA. Email FULL DETAILS IN FIRST INSTANCE. email@example.com
Useful telephone numbers EMERGENCY NUMBERS u 18: Emergencies: This number connects to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) but they deal with medical emergencies and should be the first port of call in life-threatening situations u 15: Samu (for other urgent medical call-outs) u 17: Police / Gendarmes u 112: Universal European Emergency Services number - from all phones including mobiles u 114: Emergency calls (hearing assisted) u 115: Emergency Shelter u 119: Reporting child abuse u 196: Sea and lake rescue u 197: Terror/kidnapping hotline u 01 40 05 48 48: Anti-poison centre u 09 726 750 + your department number e.g. 24 for the Dordogne): Gas & electricity emergencies u 3237: (0.35/min) Outside hours GP and pharmacy information (also available on www.3237.fr) TELECOMS u ORANGE Website in English: www.orange. com/en/home. To report a fault online: www.1013.fr English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00 u SFR: 1023 (+ 33 6 10 00 10 23 from outside France) u FREE: 1044 u BOUYGUES: New client: 3106 Forfait & Bbox: 1064 (+33 660 614 614) Forfait bloqué: 1022 (+33 664 00 20 20) Client à la Carte: 1034 (+33 668 634 634) Gas & electricity emergencies u EDF: 24 hour breakdown line: 09 726 750 + your department number (eg 24 for the Dordogne) Helpline in English: 09 69 36 63 83 (those calling from abroad may use 0033 17 17 30 101)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org GAS u Gas leaks: 01 43 35 40 87 WATER u Generale des Eaux Web: www.service-client.veoliaeau.fr Online form links users to the office dealing with their area u Ondeo Suez-Environnement Web: www.suez-environnement.com/en/ homepage Tel: 01 58 18 50 00 EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES u British Embassy (Paris): 01 44 51 31 00 uBordeaux consulate: 05 57 22 21 10 uMarseille consulate: 04 91 15 72 10 uUK passport advice + 44 (0) 300 222 0000 (calls cost up to 12p/min from a UK landline see French operators for exact cost) Mon - Fri: 8:00 - 20:00, Weekends: 9:00 - 17:30 OTHER EMBASSIES u Irish, Paris: 01 44 17 67 00 uUS, Paris: 01 43 12 22 22 uCanadian, Paris: 01 44 43 29 00 uAustralian, Paris: 01 40 59 33 00 uNZ, Paris: 01 45 01 43 43 uSouth African, Paris: 01 53 59 23 23 OFFICIAL AGENCIES u 3939 ALLO SERVICE PUBLIC: 3939 (+33 1 73 60 39 39 from outside France). Calling hours: 8:30 - 18:00 www.service-public.fr/ u CAF: www.caf.fr; Tel: 08 10 25 14 10. u CPAM (state healthcare): www.ameli.fr English-speaking helpline: 08 11 36 36 46 Calling hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30 - 17:30 u URSSAF: 3957 + department number u CLEISS: Social security advice when moving between countries: 01 45 26 33 41. Mon, Wed & Friday : 9:00 -12:30, Tues & Thurs : 14:00 -17:00, Some advisers speak English.
You can see more events and post your own at connexionfrance.com/community/events
metres along the road opposite the church. They also have a large Book Barn, open during coffee time, where you will find hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs starting at 50cts each for books. See www.facebook.com/BertricBureeChurch for more information.
Worshippers are invited to Anglican church services held every Sunday in Bertric Burée, Dordogne (above). The first Sunday in the month sees a Service of the Word at 10.30, followed by Evensong at 18.00 during the summer. The second Sunday each month sees Holy Communion at 10.30 followed by a Bring and Share Lunch, while on the third Sunday there is a Family Service at 10.30. On the fourth Sunday, Holy Communion takes place at 10.30, then afterwards you are invited to join organisers for coffee following the service, in the Upper Room, 25
Contact us on 00 33 (0)5 61 07 16 84 email@example.com or visit our website www.axa-in-france.fr
Eyes down! The Upper Room in Bertric-Burée is also the venue for a Wine and Bingo evening on Friday June 1 at 19.30. €5 buys you one packet of 15 games and an evening full of fun, with a bottle of wine to be won for each game. Someone has to win all those bottles of wine, and it could be you! Wine, beer and soda available for purchase throughout the evening. To reserve a place, please email Kathy Carter at: firstname.lastname@example.org Freemasons looking to practise their craft can contact the Anglo/French lodge which meets in Agen once a month. Contact Mike Dowsett Tel: 05 63 94 52 25 or email at email@example.com All are welcome to Sunday mass, in English, at The Irish Chaplaincy, located at the beautifully restored Irish College, now the Centre Culturel Irlandais (5 Rue des Irlan-
dais in the 5th arrondissement in Paris). Starts at 11.30, tea and coffee served. www.irishchaplaincyparis.fr Organisers are looking for British artists to take part in an Art & Craft fair (250sqm) in Trébeurden, Brittany (22560). Email TrebArtCraft@gmail.com or call 06 71 83 50 08 for more details. The British Association of Monaco’s annual Queen’s Birthday cocktail event will take place, as usual, in the Salon Bellevue of the Café de Paris, Square du Casino, MonteCarlo on Wednesday, June 13 from 19.0020.30 and this year will feature musical entertainment by international duo Paul Spicer and Matt Firth, accompanied by Stuart Barham. www.bam-monaco.org Members and supporters of The Liberal Democrats are invited to The Summer Social and Barbeque, to be held at Bois Raymond, Saint-Amant-de-Nouère in Charente on June 30, from 15.00 to 21.00. The event will feature a barbeque (€12), drinks, crafts and other stalls plus a guest speaker. The weekend also sees the Fête des Sarabandes in the nearby village, so there is
plenty to do and see in the area if you want a weekend away. Organisers invite you to come and meet like-minded people who are concerned about Brexit, and to enjoy the local wines and Pineau des Charentes from the village vineyard owners, who will be selling their products. Contact Trevor Stables: 05 45 70 73 13; email Divor1987@gmail.com The Church of England Chaplaincy of Hérault is part of the worldwide community that is the Church of England. All Saints Hérault is a mixed group of different ages, backgrounds and traditions, who meet in the Chapel of the Église protestante unie de France in the village of Saint-Pargoire, 10 km north east of Pézenas. Church Life focuses around the service of Holy Communion on the second Sunday of the month at 10.30. Refreshments are served after the service, providing an opportunity to chat and make friends. They extend a warm welcome to all Christian people to join them at their services and church events, especially those new to their “parish”. To find out more, please visit: http://heraultenglishchurch.fr; send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +33 (0)6 60 24 54 57.
The ski resort of Chamonix, Mont Blanc, is gearing up for its first summer family festival, called CHAMFEST June 15-17, at Les Planards Amusement Park. Organised by a Brit, local tour operator Jo Saw, the weekend features live music, comedy, kids’ fun activities (Peppa Pig is visiting every day!), fancy dress, local food, wine and crafts. It will also celebrate Chamonix’s history, art deco architecture, amazing scenery and, most of all, its welcoming local people. Sunday June 17 is fancy dress day, so Jo and helpers will be wearing 1920s gear to celebrate Chamonix’s status as the most elegant ski resort in France, and its hosting of the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924 – accompanied by Electro Swing music. Family day ticket €55; www.chamfest.fr
The Connexion June 2018
How to effortlessly keep your pool clean all summer A pool is an asset for making the most of the hot summer, but keeping its surface free from flies, wasps, leaves and fluff is a never-ending story. But help is at hand: on Jan’s site you can watch a stunning video that shows the PoolGobbler attracting all debris into its filter bag. IT IS hard to imagine how the PoolGobbler, such an apparently simple piece of equipment, can keep a whole pool surface free from floating debris, automatically and without any human intervention. It seems unbelievable, but on pools of up to 12 x 6 metres, its effective design means the entire pool area remains spotless. Jan van Gils introduced the PoolGobbler into the French market after coming across it in South Africa, where it has been marketed for over 15 years. Ten years ago he installed the product in his pool and now believes he could not do without it. But how does it work? “The secret to the PoolGobbler is a clever use of fluid dynamics,” said Jan. “Using the force of the water
returning into the pool from the filtration pump, it connects to one of the inlet jets where its design considerably increases the speed of the water flow. The high speed of the water then causes a pulling effect on the surface and, as a result, the circular flow that is created takes all floating debris to the PoolGobbler where it is caught in its filter bag.” Unlike many other pool appliances, the PoolGobbler is completely unobtrusive and positions itself neatly against the wall so it is possible to swim at all times. It also does not need any kind of electricity or cables, and is easy to install. Maintenance is also easy – just empty the filter bag when full. Jan’s company, Pure-Piscines, sells the patented product in France, and beyond,
through his website, which also features a movie of the PoolGobbler at work and comments from users. To order online, visit the website or send a letter with a French cheque (€59.95 for the PoolGobbler, plus €9.95 for an extra set of five filter bags and €6.50 for postage) to: Pure-Piscines (Jan van Gils), Le Bourg, 46700, Sérignac. Anyone who is not satisfied will get their money back. Pool professionals interested in selling the PoolGobbler, and those looking for more information, should contact Jan directly. 05 65 31 96 23 email@example.com www.pure-piscines.com
The PoolGobbler will keep pools of up to 12 x 6 metres spotless and debris free
Choose the right heating system for your home
Installing a wood fired heating system can reduce your annual fuel bills considerably says Michael Swan of Enershop which specialises in bespoke renewable energy heating systems
Due to the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels, people are now looking for more energy-efficient and cost-effective methods of heating their homes. A wood-fired system is the obvious choice, either as a stand-alone system or in combination with other heat sources. There are many different types of woodfired systems available and Enershop discusses each client’s needs to ensure they have made the right choice for their property and lifestyle. Whether a log or
pellet-fired boiler, there is a model to suit every property. Boiler stoves are aesthetically pleasing and are usually located in the main living area. Whether a traditional or contemporary style, all the boiler stoves supplied by Enershop incorporate the latest stove technology. Log gasification and pellet boilers must be housed in an outbuilding or uninhabited, well-ventilated room. Michael said: “Gasification boilers produce large amounts of heat at high efficiencies, which is stored in an accumulation tank. They have a burn cycle of between four to six hours depending upon the wood, so are easily managed. “Pellet boilers are programmable and are easy to use and control with automatic fuel feeding and ignition.” Enershop also has a range of combination boilers which can use both logs and pellets – offering the best of both worlds.
Wood-fired systems can source domestic hot water, central and underfloor heating and can also heat a swimming pool. Michael said: “We have a demonstration system at our property comprising of a log gasification boiler with solar thermal panels linked to an accumulation tank. Both the gasification boiler and solar thermal panels work effectively at different times of the year, so complement each other perfectly.” Enershop holds the QualiBois and QualiSol accreditation so its systems are eligible for credit d’impots. For more information, contact Enershop or visit the website, where there is a link to the company’s Facebook page which is updated regularly. 07 67 04 07 53 firstname.lastname@example.org www.enershop.eu
The eVolution 26 wood boiler stove is an impressive feature as well as providing heating and domestic hot water.
Act now if you are thinking of selling your French home Adrian and Jacqui Bunn who run ARB French Property, the site which specialises in the marketing of private for sale homes, believe now is a good time for those thinking of selling their French home to act.
Adrian explains “Summer is a very active time in the property market, in addition, this year the market is very buoyant, meaning we have many eager, good quality ready to proceed buyers, looking for their new full time or holiday residence in France. Sellers shouldn’t hesitate, they could already be missing out on potential buyers. Whether your home is already on the market or you are thinking about selling, now is the best time to start.”
ARB specialise in finding English speaking buyers for English speaking sellers, helping them to buy and sell privately. “In addition to the active British property market, the numbers of British buyers have been swelled by recent Brexit talks. Many British buyers now feel they have a 2 year window of opportunity and in the market with money to spend. They are often cash buyers, so are in a strong position to move quickly. The combination of these factors has seen a marked increase in full time movers, meaning more clients with higher budgets are buying.” ARB’s marketing strategy makes sure every property is seen on all the UK leading web sites non-stop. As Jacqui comments “Our commitment to our sellers is to make sure their home gets the very best marketing we can provide. To help us achieve this, we advertise every property on leading UK property websites, not just sometimes, but
all the time, without exception. On top of this, to make sure our sellers’ homes really do stand out, we use services such as Premium Placements and a floorplan. We also include a visit to photograph and floorplan. This combined with the savings a private sale brings and the benefit of being UK based, means we are extremely well placed to find your buyer.” Adrian concludes: “We are frequently contacted by sellers that have been trying to sell their home for several months. We find they are disappointed by the lack of proactive advertising carried out by their current agents and are very encouraged to hear about ARB’s approach of not compromising on either the quality or the quantity of the marketing of their home.” In summary, if you are selling or thinking of selling your French home, now is the time to contact Adrian and Jacqui at ARB French Property.
Top tractor and machinery deals delivered to France Cowling Agriculture prides itself on friendly advice and excellent aftersales service – and all at competitive prices With 20 years of experience, Cowling Agriculture supplies tractors and machinery to smallholders and farmers in the UK and Europe. The company keeps 80 to 100 tractors in stock, both new and used, along with a comprehensive range of machinery. It also has a well-equipped workshop and proficient staff who service and repair used tractors and machinery. It specialises in putting together tractor and machinery packages for first-time tractor owners. Kim Cowling from the company said: “We take the time to listen to customers’ requirements so that we can supply a
competitively priced and suitable package. We are often able to supply tractors and machinery to customers in France for a much lower price than they could source them locally. We pride ourselves on our friendly advice and excellent aftersales service.” Cowling Agriculture has been a dealer for the Landlegend range of tractors – which Kim says are the best value and most popular compact tractor on the market – for more than 10 years. “The Landlegend 25hp tractor provides a very good spec for a very good price,” she said. “It is £5,395. It can easily be fitted with a 4in1 loader and backhoe, making it ideal for farmers, smallholders, self-builders and equestrian yards. Our second-hand tractors start from around £2,500 and come fully serviced, checked over and with a minimum of six months warranty. We can team these up with toppers, chain harrows, logsplitters or
rotovators etc.” For customers in France wanting to see the tractors and machinery in action, the company can put them in touch with one of its many existing tractor owners. Kim said: “We have 50-plus Landlegend tractors working in France, plus many other used tractors and individual machinery items. We have many customers who come back to us to add new machinery.” The company regularly has deliveries covering the UK, Ireland and France and the driver is able to fully demonstrate the tractors and machinery on arrival. It keeps machinery for all seasons and often runs special seasonal offers. The stock list can be viewed on the website. www.cowlingagri.com www.landlegend.co.uk + 44 1458 269210
+44 (0)1803 469367 / email@example.com / www.arbfrenchproperty.com
The Connexion June 2018
Box clever and even arrange for UK purchases to be delivered to you Watson European are expanding their current service of removals and storage to include the delivery of packing materials to your door. Andrea Watson, the proprietor of Watson European, explains. “Many customers find it difficult to locate suitable packaging material for their removals. Being based in the UK means that Watson European are able to source a wide variety of boxes in quantities to suit a client’s individual needs.” From full home removals to the individual pieces of furniture, Andrea’s team have the trade contacts to supply boxes, wrapping material and tape to ensure your belongings can be transported in perfect condition. With weekly services to France the Watson
European team can deliver the packaging to your door and collect the filled packages at a time to suit you ready for direct delivery to the UK. Andrea continues: “We also cater for those not in any particular hurry to move into their new home in France or who want to put affairs in order first by offering up to 60 days’ free UK based storage. Many clients take advantage of this offer. “Also due to the increased demand we have been experiencing, Watson European has invested in yet more specialised equipment to transport vehicles, home removals and even plant and machinery. With Brexit looming ever closer people are taking advantage of our services, both those establishing themselves in France or returning to the UK. “We also offer a delivery service to our regular customers in France when they wish to make purchases in the UK. Where
our customers order online from different suppliers in the UK we take delivery of the items and can store them for up to 60 days without charge. Once all the different orders / packages have arrived, our team delivers to the customer’s door in France.” With Watson European, you can rest assured that your belongings – and your stress levels – will be looked after. Andrea concludes: “For us it’s the small things that make the big difference. Moving home is often a stressful experience where the best-laid plans can go astray. Many of our clients remark on how having our friendly staff available at the end of phone is one of the most reassuring aspects of our service. Being there to deal with the smallest of detail is what our job is all about, whether you require relocation services, partial house removals of pre-packed items or a complete packing and delivery service of a full home.”
Watson European can deliver items safely to your door with great service www.watsoneuropean.co.uk Tel: Andy +44 (0) 7876 504 547 Dave +44 (0) 7515 722 772 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Houses on Internet : A Global Property Network Houses on Internet – Global Property Services (hereafter referred to as “HOI-GPS”) is the internet/marketing company that helps people sell their French property to buyers worldwide. Richard Kroon, founder and director of the company: “The last couple of months we have seen a huge increase in viewings and sales. Most of the buyers don’t live in France, which is why our worldwide advertising is so important. Our marketing efforts are definitely paying off and guarantee a worldwide exposure of your property to buyers wherever they live.” Last year HOI-GPS has sold to people from 11 different countries, like France, Australia, Belgium, Holland, United Kingdom,
Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Denmark. The actual work all starts with the presentation of a property. If that’s not good enough, all other marketing efforts are useless. Our photographers usually take 150 to 200 photos of a house and in addition copy any good (summer) photos our clients may have themselves. About 50 to 60 of those photos are selected, enhanced and presented on the dedicated website we make for each property in English, French and Dutch. The texts don’t just describe the house, garden and outbuildings, but information about shopping, schools, airports and leisure is given too. When the website for the house is online, we first connect it to our main HOI-GPS websites which attract over 135,000 visitors from 40+ countries each month. Most of these people find us through Google and additional Google advertising. To reach an even larger audience, a
summary of the presentation of the house is also placed on several other leading property websites. These adverts are also connected to the dedicated website of the house, making it all one big global property network. As the property market has become a global one, a prospective buyer can be at the other end of the world while the owner is in bed sleeping. With our approach, the buyer does not have to wait and can see the entire property whenever he wants, at the moment he is interested in it. For more information on HOI-GPS or to market your property through them, visit their website. Houses on Internet – Global Property Services 0031 (0)6 41 20 73 69 www.housesoninternet.com
Maximise your house sale proceeds Pioneer France ensures sellers receive the best currency rates possible for the transfer of their house sale proceeds
“It is shame when house sellers who have tried so hard to achieve the best price for their house then relinquish an unnecessary chunk of these funds by using old fashioned, expensive banking methods to repatriate their money back into sterling, dollars or whatever”, says Harris Raphael, Managing partner of France-based Pioneer France. “The seller often relinquishes thousands which could have been so easily avoided
had they used a specialist Foreign exchange broker. Our historic data shows that the average loss is around €3,500”, comments Harris. Historic data shows that sellers are much less likely than buyers to use the services of such a specialist. Harris believes that this is primarily because the profile of a typical seller is usually older than that of a buyer, with sellers more likely to have traditionally used a bank for their transfers, while being reluctant about using ‘newer methods’. “I understand this completely, especially when it concerns one’s major asset!”, says Harris “However, Pioneer France’s foreign exchange brokerage has been operating for over 35 years, is one of the world’s largest, trading over €13billion on behalf of over 20,000 clients a year, in over 80 currencies. “ It is also one of the very few that is fully authorised and regulated by the FCA, with the right of establishment in France”.
“As such, our brokerage can provide our clients with security of funds and can give expert currency exchange guidance to aid our client’s decision making, which the banks are not licensed to do”, advises Harris. Pioneer France was recently voted number one for foreign exchange rates and service, so contact Harris and his team to find out more about saving thousands. 05 53 07 06 27 email@example.com www.pioneerfrance.com
The Pioneer France FX team, from left: Harris, Simon, Tanya, Zoe, James and Steven
HARS help up-and-coming athlete The Hearing Aid Repair Shop (HARS) helps people of all ages, by expertly repairing their hearing aids. The day after Boxing Day we helped a young athlete by repairing her hearing aid so she could study for an important German GCSE mock exam at the start of the spring term. A member of Berkshire’s Newbury Athletic Club, Charlotte Payne has earned numerous accolades for her sporting achievements and was runner up at the Young Deaf Sports Personality of the Year in November 2016. Charlotte’s mum, Denise, said, “We turned up in the snow with my daughter’s hearing aid which had died over Christmas. We were met with a smile by the wonderful
team at HARS who helped us out on the spot. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and won’t go anywhere else from now on.” Charlotte competes in the throwing events – discus and hammer. In 2016, Charlotte was UK National Champion and UK No. 1 in Under 15 Discus and UK No. 3 in Under 15 Hammer. Last year Charlotte moved into Under 17 category and became UK No. 1 in Under 17 Hammer 4kg, UK No. 3 in Under 17 Discus, South England Under 17 Hammer Champion and championship record holder. She was also a silver medallist in hammer at the School Games and a bronze medallist in Under 17 Discus at the English Schools Championships.
As well as all that, Charlotte has been the best UK deaf female thrower in hammer, discus and shot put, for all age groups, for the past 2 years. Denise said, “Charlotte is now the youngest in her age group and has yet another year at this level to improve on her amazing achievements.” This year Charlotte has set her sights on being No. 1 in the UK in hammer and discus, representing the UK in the Under 18 European Championships in Hungary in August and competing in the School Games and Schools Track & Field International. Denise said, “Hopefully Charlotte will have a busy summer, competing in various national and international events, if she can
successfully win all the necessary qualifying events beforehand. She’s capable, so it’s definitely on the cards. Fingers crossed! You rarely find a thrower who does both hammer and discus to a high standard, so Charlotte will probably have to decide between them. It’s going to be a tough choice to pick which one.” The HARS team wish Charlotte all the best with her studies and athletic aspirations over the coming years. We hope to be watching her compete at major championships in the future. If, like Charlotte, you need your hearing aids repaired you can send them to us for a free, no obligation quote. For more details go to www.hars.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 00 44 1635 48724.
Join Bel Air Homes - 80 % Commission Paid Bel Air Homes is a fully French registered and insured LOW COST estate agency. We are a member of FNAIM ( Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier ), the national association of estate agents, and we offer our clients a full bilingual estate agency service in English, or French. We are regularly ask by vendors in many parts of France if Bel Air Homes can market their properties for them, because our sales commission is just 2.5 % including VAT, which is perceived to be a real advantage given that other agencies charge much higher rates of commission, typically between 5% and 10 %, with an average of 8% being added to the asking price. Though vendors will not have to pay the agency commission, it comes out of the buyer’s budget, which could reduce the size of the offer that the buyer is able to make on their property, and therefore the amount that they receive from a sale ‘net vendeur’. Potential buyers from the UK, France, other countries in Europe and across the globe also ask us if we have properties for sale in other regions of France. They too appreciate the good value that a LOW COST estate agency can offer them. We therefore believe that the opportunity now exists to expand Bel Air Homes with the help of experienced property professionals who can help us develop a network of independent agents to meet the demand from vendors and buyers seeking to take advantage of our low rate of of sales commission, and our high level of customer service.
Visit the Bel Air Homes website for more information concerning this exciting opportunity
Join us to sing Messiah for our anniversary
A choir is looking for British singers to create an Anglo-French event with a performance of Handel’s Messiah in December for its 40th anniversary in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire. Chorale Contrepoint has nearly 50 members, singing church music and works by French composers SaintSaëns, Fauré and Charpentier, and also by Brahms and Mozart. Secretary Helen Davey said choirmaster Christian Foulonneau felt Handel, with his associations with the UK, would be perfect for such an event. “I am making contact with as many British groups as possible, as we would love people to join us.” A meeting has been organised on June 17 and anyone who has sung the
Exciting changes for Aquitaine pastoral care
Hard work pays off for festival organisers MORE than a dozen volunteers are preparing for July’s Inter national Guitar Festival in Puy l’Evêque, Lot, and are starting to see the benefits of their hard work over the past two years. Artists are getting in touch keen to perform in the medieval village which cascades down towards the River Lot. This year will include FrancoIsraeli guitarist Liat Cohen; Australian Stephanie Jones, Egyptian Joseph Tawadros, a virtuoso on the oud Arabic stringed instrument; French and American guitar duo the Jellyfish Brothers, and Ballaké Sissoko, a Mali kora player. Susan Harrison, who has lived in the area for 19 years, is responsible for international
See also Page 27 for Community events relations at Le Temps des Guitares festival. She was asked by artistic directors Cécile Cardinot and Olivier Bensa, who are well-known guitarists, to get involved as she had previously worked in marketing. As well as the concerts at 21.00 there are activities for both children and adults: “There are guitar lessons, a guitar maker demonstrating his craft and, as we are in the Cahors wine area, we link music and wine with a different wine-maker each evening. It’s a wonderful atmosphere.” As a classical guitar festival it has no electric guitars, “but the music is very varied, from all round the world”. Ms Harrison says being involved “is a wonderful experience, especially as it is something that is being done to a very high standard.” Book at local tourist offices or via letempsdesguitares.com
Messiah before can attend that and then once-a-month Sunday rehearsals, in September, October and November. Anyone who has not sung it before can join rehearsals on Tuesday evenings and one Sunday a month. Mrs Davey said she had never sung in a choir before she retired to France and members gave a lot of support. “I love it. It is so good on so many levels. For your health, because you have to learn to breathe correctly; for your morale as when you sing, you concentrate solely on that and other worries are set aside; you make new friends and the music is uplifting.” If interested, contact Mrs Davey at email@example.com www.contrepoint-saumur.com
Bishop Robert celebrated Charlotte Sullivan’s ordination
When Charlotte Sullivan came to France 20 years ago she had no idea she would one day become a Church of England vicar but she is now the priest for Bordeaux and aims to expand the congregation. Ordained in Bordeaux Chap elle de l’Assomption by Bishop Robert, the Rev Sullivan said she came to her faith in her 30s while living in France and knew she wanted to work in the church. Then, in her 40s, she had the time to follow her vocation: “Some training can be done online but I also had to go to the UK for residential courses and summer school over a three-year period, which was hard to fit in with a job as well. She is excited about her new role. “There are services on Sundays, of course, but there is also plenty to do in the week; Bible study groups, extra worship to organise, funerals, weddings and baptisms to arrange and parishioners to visit. “It is wonderful because it is
Rev Charlotte Sullivan so varied. I never know exactly what the day will bring. It depends what emails I receive when I open up my computer.” She tells people in Aquitaine chaplaincy she is there to help: “Even though someone may not come to church regularly or does not live in Bordeaux, I or a congregation member would be happy to visit someone poorly in hospital, for example, as people come here to be treated for serious conditions from other areas and it can be comforting to have an English-speaking visitor.” Aquitaine has the European diocese’s greatest number of
churches as 14 offer English services. At the same ceremony in Bordeaux, Tony Lomas was made Area Dean of the new South-West with the Vendée deanery. He had been a chaplain in Aquitaine for two years after being a vicar in a Gloucester shire parish but now has 41 churches in an area from the Pyrénées to the Loire Valley. It means he drives 3,000km a month but adds: “This is not necessarily a disadvantage as I do not have to rush from one service to another and if I take a Sunday service in an outlying parish I tend to stay on and we often have a meal together. I spend more time with people. “Secondly, we are here for a congregation who are not necessarily Church of England but may be Baptists, Methodists or from churches in Germany, Belgium, South Africa, Amer ica or Australia. I find this hugely exciting and so vibrant.” www.churchinaquitaine.org
10,000 books wanting readers DESPITE being in existence for 25 years and having 10,000 books, volunteers at the English Library in Montaigu-de-Quercy, Tarn-et-Garonne, say it is still not well enough known and they want more members. Treasurer Frances Rimmer said the library was self-funded with books from the British community and it has a range for all tastes: “There are the lat-
est best sellers and a range of non-fiction including travel, life in France, history, biographies, gardening and sport, to name but a few. There are also CDs and talking books.” Started in 1993 when a few English-speaking people got together on Saturday mornings for a coffee, this led to a book swap and eventually the group was offered space in the mairie
Have your group featured
The Connexion regularly features news and events from community groups all over France. We would be pleased to publicise your association (non-commercial) – it’s a great way to bring in new members and it is free! You can submit events via connexionfrance.com/Community To have your association/ group featured email details to firstname.lastname@example.org
and, as more books were donated, had to re-locate to larger and larger premises. Now it has ground-floor offices which it shares with the International Club, which started with book-swap people in the early nineties who wanted to broaden their horizons and follow further interests. Mrs Rimmer said running costs were minimal so lifetime membership is just €5, and the library’s honesty policy has worked for 25 years. Simple procedures allow people who have to travel a long way not to have to come too often. “As well as the opportunity for a good read, there is also a selection of English greeting cards in aid of a dog rescue
Library volunteers are ready to welcome new members charity. There is a notice board for small ads and a box for used stamps which go to a charity for the blind. We would be delighted to welcome new members. It’s a great library.”
The library is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays at set times. Find out more from Mrs Rimmer on rouzet82@ gmail.com or Ann Goles worthy on email@example.com
32 Property / Money
Investment funds give viager a win-win option Seller ‘delighted’ with decision
A NEW type of viager property sale now exists and could revive the industry as it gives a full cash sum to owners, solid prospects of profit for investors and the opening up of a stifled market for in-demand older properties. Viager, where a person sells their home for a reduced price in exchange for the right to live in it until they die, makes up just 1% of property sales each year – about 4,000-5,000 sales, mostly in Ile-de-France and the sunny south where property prices are high. France has 16million over-65s and the new Viager Mutualisé can give many a cash lift to allow them to live more comfortably by taking money out of their home, while giving buyers the security of a rising property price. Traditional viager has key drawbacks. One is that few people like the idea of betting on an old person dying early so they can have the property before having paid the full price. Another is buyers’ fear of buying from someone who, with increasing life expectancy, does not die ‘when’ expected, making any sale costly or even financially ruinous. This is called the ‘Calment risk’ after France’s oldest person, Jeanne Calment, who lived to the ripe old age of 122, more than 30 years after selling her house in viager to her notaire, who died before she did and had paid more than twice the property’s value. For the homeowner looking to sell, there is, in addition to the thought
With rising prices, Paris viagers are in demand that someone wants them to die quickly, the fear that they will not be paid the full price for their property. Viager mutualisé could end these concerns and make viager more attractive allowing older people to use the money as they see fit, whether for holidays, a carer or gifts to family. Eric Guillaume, of Virage-Viager, is a pioneer of Le Viager Mutualisé where investment funds are put together to invest large sums – of around €50-€100million – that will buy hundreds of properties and mutualise or ‘spread’ the risks.
OPTING for viager mutualisé has given Dr Paulette Amat money, saved her expenses and allowed her to enjoy her retirement... with two cruises this year. She is delighted with her decision: “I did it in 2017 after reading about it and getting it checked by my finance lawyer and a notaire. Both said it was ‘fantastic’ but I took about nine months to decide. Other viager options were not right. “My flat is in the 8th arrondissement in Paris and I had a visit from an architect to check it was okay and that I wasn’t an old lady losing her marbles and breeding 50 cats! “I am only 76 so I received 54% of the value of the flat as payment for the nue-propriété. On top, I save money as monthly charges were €1,500 per quarter and are now €1,100; plus I have no taxe foncière and it seems taxe d’habitation will go too. “The new owners use property managers who act much faster than by using the syndic. I needed a plumber and their one arrived in three hours, it would take three days via the syndic. “I can use the money as I wish. When I die I have no children so bequests would be ‘indirect’ and face 60% tax. Doing it now in assurance vie is half that and I can enjoy my cruise holidays.”
Buying 500 properties means that one person living longer than expected is balanced by others who die early – and, from past evidence, can give an average return of 4-5% for the fund. Mr Guillaume said sellers also gained as they were paid the whole discounted price in one transaction so could use it as they wished. Previously aimed at pension funds and similar, it was now possible for individuals to get involved as they can invest in a type of assurance vie that is part of a property investment fund. In traditional viager, the home is
sold for a reduced sum to cover the time the seller will continue to live in it. Based on insurers’ mortality tables, it starts at a 30% discount, about 40% for a seller in their 80s and 50% for a seller in their 70s. The buyer pays this sum in two parts: a lump sum called the bouquet and the remainder split into monthly rente that is paid until the seller dies. Many sellers aim to get a high rente and a lower bouquet but sellers have a real fear that a buyer will stop paying the rente. Mr Guillaume said this was a disaster for old people as their only
life in france less taxing
France: 0810 23 84 23 - UK: 08451 23 84 23 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
recourse was legal action and they “do not want to start costly legal action in their late 80s or early 90s”. By making a single payment, viager mutualisé ended this concern. Mr Guillaume said: “With these funds we can buy 400 properties at about €100,000 each, for example, all different and in all parts of France, not just Paris and the south. “Investors buy properties that will grow in value, so the area needs to be popular; that means they will look at Sarlat or Ribérac in the Dordogne but probably not Périgueux, and possibly Bordeaux but not a smaller town. “Once the funds have been raised we will choose sellers of properties that meet the investment strategy of the fund. So, if it wants to recover 80% of its investment in 15 years it needs to find sellers who are aged 80 and over. “We have an agency, Soluvia, where people who are interested in selling this way can register their interest. “The seller has a buyer who is solvent, not interested in living in the home and who will take on much of the financial responsibility for the property. The seller has just rental charges and taxe d’habitation to pay as taxe foncière, major renovation and energy efficiency works, and property insurance are paid by the buyer. “Sellers also get a tax benefit: as they are selling their main home there is no tax to pay on the bouquet and no income tax to pay on the rente.”
Money / Tax page
Safeguard future payments from UK private pension I AM in my 30s and worked for 10 years in the UK before moving to France, during which time I paid into a private pension scheme through my employer. Do I need to do anything to safeguard my future pension payments due from this contribution? L.H. IT IS not uncommon for some UK pension schemes to be set up with a charge for regular contributions. The issue here is that if you cease the regular contributions then the regular charge continues and so, evidently the value of your contract decreases over time. So the first thing to do is to check with your pension provider to see whether these regular charges are being made despite the contract not receiving contributions. If they are, it may be wise to look to change to another type of pension contract which is established more on the basis of single one-off premiums and which, therefore, does not have the inherent regular charge based on contributions being made. However you would need to check that the costs of transferring to any new scheme would not be greater than those you would suffer on the current contract over its remaining life.
Transferring between AV policies WE HAVE been in France for 16 years. We have an assurance vie in Luxembourg and another in the UK. The UK policy now contains practically nothing. Both have been set up for at least 10 years. We need to close the Luxembourg account (which has sizeable fees) and use at least half of the value to purchase a house. Can we transfer the balance to our British AV and what tax implications would there be? Would QNUPS be a better way to go? R.L. LIFE assurance contracts are individual so, if you want to ‘transfer’ one, you effectively have to sell one contract then re-invest in the other contract, incurring the costs as applicable. As to the fiscal consequence of reinvesting, since the issue is treated as a sale and re-investment, the sale would incur income tax and the social charges that would be due on any gain
Practical: Money 33
Plan to end small taxes (and a big one)
Send your financial queries to
Hugh MacDonald at
email@example.com inherent in the sale of the Luxembourg contract, the amounts of which would depend on your levels of other taxable income. A QNUPS – Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme – less well-known than the similarly-named QROPs (technically now just ROPS), is an overseas pension scheme in which cash and assets that are not eligible for UK tax relief can be contributed. While extra amounts can be freely added over and above UK pension limits, the contract still requires an initial transfer of a pension, so it is not possible to simply create one and add ordinary funds. Whether you could or should do this, would need to be discussed with an adviser.
Tax implications of property gift THE DONATION of nue-propriété of a parent’s home to a child appears at face value to be an attractive tax-efficient inheritance option as long as the donor lives 15 years. But what are the capital gains tax implications? I.H. IF, after the death of the donor (parent), the child decides to sell the property but has never lived in it and it has never been their primary residence the sale is liable to capital gains tax on any increase in its value. There is no gift/inheritance tax as long as the value of the share of the house given is beneath the allowance of €100,000. If the value is over this then gift/inheritance tax will be due at the prevailing rates in function of the value of the gift. There is a 15-year period after which the allowances are once again available. The child will be liable to capital gains tax on their share of the property when this is subsequently sold. The tax is based on gain: the sale value less the value in the document making the donation (factoring in certain abatements). So yes, if the increase in the property value between the donation and the eventual sale dates
The Connexion welcomes queries and publishes a selection with answers every edition. However, please note that we cannot enter into correspondence on money topics. Queries may be edited for length and style. Due to the sensitive nature of topics we do not publish full names or addresses on these pages.
is high, the capital gain can be high. You should also consider the legal costs involved in making a donation. Bearing in mind, however, that potentially such a donation might enable the child to benefit from two sets of €100,000 gift/inheritance allowances from each parent twice over it could be worth the effort if you accept the costs and the child accepts the eventual capital gains tax liability.
Declaring UK rental income I WOULD like to clarify a point about declaring UK rental income on my French income declaration for 2017 income. I understand that UK rental income is not taxable in France but France takes it into account. I expect to benefit from a 30% allowance on the income from France. Should I declare the UK income gross or with deduction of the expenses that were allowed in my UK self-assessment form? Also is it possible to find the tax forms in English? I consider myself pretty fluent but the forms are so technical it would be interesting to see exact translations. G.B. FIRSTLY no, the French tax forms are not available in English, unfortunately. As for the UK rental income, if the amount is under €15,000 and you wish to take advantage of the micro-foncier system which offers a set expenses abatement of 30% then you should declare the gross income earned from the UK rental property. This income should be declared on the 2047 and 2042 forms. It is not necessary to fill out the form 2044, which is for rental incomes over the micro threshold and/or for which you are claiming ‘real’ expenses, for which you have retained proof (invoices etc).
The information on these pages is of a general nature. You should not act or refrain from acting on it without taking professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted in respect of these articles. These articles are intended only as a general guide. Nothing herein constitutes actual financial advice.
THE PUBLIC accounts minister says he want to ‘remove France’s little taxes, bit by bit’. Gérald Darmanin will be asking the Prime Minister to allocate at least €200million in the 2019 budget to start axeing numerous small levies, such as a flour tax paid by millers that brings in around €58m/year, he told France Info. The government has also agreed not to create any new taxes that raise less than €150m a year. The minister also said that the state’s plan to write off the SNCF’s debt will be financed by savings and not extra tax. In May President Macron announced he wants to remove the ‘exit tax’ on businesspeople who emigrate from France, as of next year. It was brought in under Nicolas Sarkozy and is on ‘latent capital gains’ on companies at the date of exit. It aims to stop businesspeople moving to countries such as Belgium to sell their companies with no capital gains tax payable. Mr Macron says it puts entrepreneurs off from starting businesses in France. n ALL main homes are to be made exempt from the taxe d’habitation – but second-home owners will still pay it, say ministers. Initially it is ending for 80% of main households, phased in over three years: a 30% cut in 2018, 65% in 2019 and exemption in 2020. It will then end for other main homes from 2021. Eligibility for the first cuts is based on taxable income, for example, couples with less than €43,000 (you can check whether it applies to you at tinyurl.com/taxedhabcut). If you benefit this year, this autumn’s statement for the tax will have a note showing how much the ‘remainder’ of the bill would have been. It means if you are charged more then it is due to new council rate rises. The tax is one of the main sources of funding for councils and the government has promised to compensate them ‘to the euro’. However even keeping it on second homes, there is a hole of some €7.5bn that has not been budgeted for. Some mayors raised their 2018 tax rate to get extra funds while they can. Ministers promised spending cuts and a report on other options was presented in May. It suggests a possible transfer of funds from the taxe foncière property tax or a transfer of national taxes such as from fuel tax, VAT or CSG social charge.
Are you ready for PAS? ANYONE with income that will be subject to the new ‘at source’ income tax - Prélèvement à la Source (PAS) - should look out for details of the rates that will apply to them from January 2019. This mainly applies to French work and French pension income. Those declaring online will see the rate (and have the option to make certain modifications) as soon as they declare this year. Take care to claim any income deductions you are entitled to on 2017 income when you make your declaration as this may help lower the rate. For more about PAS see our 2018 French Income Tax guide, available at connexionfrance.com
Making your life in france less taxing * The Kentingtons service is exclusive to individuals with a minimum of €250,000 in financial assets. Kentingtons SARL, RCS 500 163 282 DRAGUIGNAN, Conseil en Investissement Financier (CIF) –Conseil en Gestion de Patrimoine Certifié (CGPC), Catégorie B, référence sous le numéro F000116, association agréée par l’Autorité des marchés Financiers, conforme article L.541-4 du Code Monétaire et Financier, Assurance Responsabilité Civile et professionnelle conforme à l’article L.541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier. ORIAS 08038951 Garantie Financière et Assurance Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 512-6 et 512-7 du Code des Assurances. Head Office: Z.A. les Esparrus, 83690, VILLECROZE
34 Practical: Money
Get ahead – and plan for your coming tax year This column is by Bill Blevins of Blevins Franks financial advice group (www.blevinsfranks.com). He has decades of experience advising expatriates in France and co-authored the Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France French residents have just had the pleasure of completing and submitting their household income tax returns for 2017 income. Working out how much tax we owe can be a bit of an eye-opener, so this is a good time to review your tax planning to see if you can improve the situation for next year’s return. There are some key aspects to consider: n There have been a number of tax reforms in France over recent years – are you up-to-date with the latest tax legislation? n Are you taking advantage of the various opportunities that the French tax regime offers to save tax? Explore ways that you can lower both your income tax liabilities and inheritance tax liabilities for heirs. n Are you sure your tax planning is fully compliant in France and that you are paying tax in the right country? Cross-border tax planning can be confusing but in today’s world of automatic exchange of information make sure you are getting it right. Income tax and the 2018 reforms Income tax for 2017 (payable in 2018) covers a range of income, including employment, pensions, rental and investment income. The progressive rates of income tax range from 14% for income over €9,807 to 45% for income over €153,783.
There is an additional tax on ‘high income’ – 3% for a single person with income between €250,000 and €500,000 per part (nothing is due from a family) and 4% for income exceeding €500,000 per part for an individual, 3% for a family (unless exceeding €1million per part). As always, additional social charges will be payable later in the year. The current rates for these are 9.7% for employment income; 9.1% for pension income (unless exempt) and 17.2% for investment income – all 1.7% higher than last year. For 2018 income, though, we will move from former President Hollande’s income tax system (where he had scrapped fixed rates of tax for investment income to start taxing it as general income), to the new system introduced by President Macron at the start of this year. A new 30% flat rate of tax will now apply to investment income. This prélèvement forfaitaire unique (PFU) applies to interest earnings, dividends and capital gains from the sales of shares and securities. It includes both income tax (12.8%) and social charges (17.2%), so for higher earners could prove a significant tax saving. Those with lower income would pay more tax under this new PFU, but households in lowincome brackets keep the option for progressive income tax rates and avoid paying more tax. When it comes to capital gains, the 50% and 65% tax reliefs for owning shares for a number of years is no longer available under the flat tax system. It now only applies if you opt for the income tax rates and only for shares bought prior to 2018. Likewise, the 40% deduction for dividends has been abolished, and is now only available to those who elect to apply the scale rates instead of
flat tax. The 30% flat tax also applies to investment policies. This includes assurance-vie contracts set up after September 27, 2017. If the premium of your policy is less than €150,000 (€300,000 for joint policies), you can choose whether to pay tax at 30% or the scale rates of income tax, whatever works best for you. Note, though, that if the policy is unapproved for French tax purposes, eg. an Isle of Man or Channel Islands policy, the scale rates will always apply. The prélévement libératoire system remains in place, so assurance-vie policies held for more than eight years benefit from a €4,600 allowance (€9,200 married/PACS couples). Wealth tax reform 2018 also introduced a second significant reform that affects investments. The old wealth tax Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune (ISF) has been abolished and replaced by a new wealth tax Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilière (IFI). This IFI only applies to real estate assets, so all your savings and investments, including assurance-vie policies, are no longer subject to this tax unless they relate to certain holdings in property.
Reviewing your tax planning It is worth exploring the various ways you can hold your investment capital to see how you can take full advantage of these tax reforms. For example, if you are deciding between investing in property or shares, consider both the wealth tax reforms and how rental income is taxed compared to investment income. Using specialist tax and wealth management advice here can find the solution that works best, both for you today and your heirs in the future.
Pension income There are no significant changes to the taxation of pension income in France, other than social charges have increased from 7.4% to 9.1%. As usual, you can avoid these charges completely if you are not affiliated to the French healthcare system or if you hold Form S1. If you are resident in France your UK pension income is taxed only in France, at the normal income tax scale rates, with a 10% allowance on gross pension income (max €3,752 per household). There is one exception – UK government service pensions remain taxable in the UK. They are not taxed in France but still count towards your annual income for the purposes of calculating your tax rate, so must be included on your French tax return. Pension lump sums are fully taxable in France as income (with an exception for “accidents of life”). So taking a lump sum can be expensive – unless you meet certain conditions. If you can take your whole pension fund as one lump sum, and the pension contributions were deducted from your or your employers’ taxable income, then you may be able to benefit from a low tax rate of 7.5%. This could enable you to invest your pension savings in more tax-efficient arrangements in France. But you need to be careful when making such big pension decisions, as getting it wrong can affect your retirement financial security, so take professional, regulated advice. n Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.
Riviera Lifeline provides support to Var and Alpes-Maritimes residents
Riviera Lifeline is a recently-established non-profit, nondenominational organization operating on the Cote d’Azur. We are a team of over 50 volunteers who help seniors across the region in many ways to continue their independent lives. Life can become challenging with advancing years and our aim is to relieve the stress and worry often experienced by seniors in our community, especially those living on a low income. Our services include: - assistance in the home - organizing transport
- links to other organizations - help with understanding French administration - meal delivery service …. and much more We also offer financial grants in the following categories: - home essentials - computer and technology - financial aid All applicants are asked to complete a Financial Assessment and we will make a home visit to all those who ask for our help so that each application can be assessed and any actions can be tailored to the needs of the individual. A typical recipieant of our services will be a permanent resident of the Var (83) or the Alpes Maritimes (06), over the age of 60 and living independently, either as a tenant or
home-owner, or on a low income. Our volunteers are people in our community from all walks of life who have time to visit seniors in their own homes, to lend a sympathetic ear, and to offer companionship. This can be a very rewarding experience and an hour or two of our time can make such a difference. Besides offering help, we always need more volunteers. So, if you would like to join us, please visit our website and tell us about yourself and the volunteering opportunities that might interest you.
To find out more about Riviera Lifeline, visit our website: rivieralifeline.org Contact us by phone: +33(0)489 82 68 51 Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bereavement Support Network, do you need someone to talk to? For most of us, losing someone will be the most devastating and distressing experience we will have to face and can be frightening and overwhelming. We know this can be even more difficult when living in a foreign country, separated from family and friends and living in a different culture and system. We are a group of committed, trained, English speaking volunteers based in the Var who support the bereaved or the terminally ill and/or their carers throughout France. We have all experienced the loss of someone very close and can empathise what others are going through.
As expats, we understand the difficulties of dealing with unfamiliar bureaucracy in another language which, when grieving, can seem even more daunting. We find that a common source of added worry and concern are practical issues including how to deal with the formalities following a death in France. We can support you through this time of loss, help you through the pain and loneliness and provide advice on how and from where to seek practical support. We will support anyone, no matter for whom they are grieving including pets, the only limitation is that they are English speakers. There is no fee for our time and support and all conversations and meetings are held in the strictest confidence. We listen because we know that you need to talk about your loss, your fears and concerns. Sometimes, family and friends are not enough. We help you to gain a deeper understanding of your feelings, thoughts and
behaviour at this stressful time. We listen because we know it is normal that sometimes you need to express feelings of anger or guilt, helplessness and anxiety. We listen and offer our time and a safe environment for as long as you need. Please, if you feel we can help, take the time now to contact the Bereavement Support Network. We can arrange straight away for you to either meet or speak on the telephone to someone who will support you through these difficult times. If you feel you could help as a volunteer, please get in touch. Volunteers are given training and need to attend monthly meetings at our head office in Flayosc. Our contacts: Telephone Sandra (07:00 to 23:00) 04 94 84 64 89 or 06 32 35 31 24 By email at email@example.com For more information, see www.bsnvar.org
Chamber of commerce benefits by BRIAN MCCULLOCH
ONE of the surprising aspects of starting a business in France is, for many people, the compulsory registration with a ‘chamber’ such as a Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie (CCI) or de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (CMA). Broadly speaking, registration is needed at the CCI for businesses which sell things, the CMA for those who make things or offer trades and certain services and the Chambre d’Agriculture for anyone who grows things to sell. Registration is with Urssaf for those in the professions libérales. Anyone who tries to set up a stall at a French town market, will find that an inscription number from the CCI is required. In terms of business set-up, these chambers are called the centre de formalités des entreprises (see this link for more: tinyurl.com/which-CFE). Each has its specifics but it is the CCI which probably plays the largest role in French political life, with the notables, usually from large businesses who sit on the departmental CCI boards, often being the same people who are prominent in local political parties. Officially the CCI is now a ‘one stop shop’ for those thinking of setting up a ‘selling’ business, and promises to help with all the steps of dealing with the other government departments. As with many French institutions variations happen both at regional and departmental level so the experience
with one CCI might be very different to the experience at another. Signing up is usually accompanied by fees to register the business with the registre du commerces et des sociétés, a register of business information held by the local tribunal de commerce (see here for more: tinyurl.com/registercost). This is now compulsory even for those on the micro-entreprise status, formerly known as auto-entreprise, though they are dispensed from the registration fee. The level of fees varies with the status of your business, and many CCIs offer at this point a paid for service, usually around €70, to help you through the administrative formalities. The chamber will also liaise with the bodies collecting for compulsory health insurance and Urssaf, which oversees the collection of social security charges and some taxes such as Contribution Sociale Généralisée and Contribution au Remboursement de la Dette Sociale. With most businesses these social cotisations, established by complicated calculations based on percentages of your business activity are fixed and involve certain minimums, whether the business is making money or not (in theory only micro-entreprise companies escape this rule). The health bodies and Urssaf are quick to launch recovery procedures if payments are not made on time. So one of the benefits of joining a chamber is that it puts you in the French social security system and you get officially registered and allocated a Kbis registration certificate, including your Siren
number identifying the firm. Another big function of the chambers is training. For example, CCIs almost all offer a training course for new businesses, typically five days for around €450, covering the basics of French company law, administration and taxation, as well as business basics such as how to calculate a profitable margin (for those starting artisan businesses, whose chamber is the CMA, a €260 set-up course of at least 30 hours is obligatory). One big advantage is that on completion you obtain a certificate of competence, which opens the door to business loans from local banks. Links between local banks, often co-operatives with strong local links, and CCIs are, usually strong and friendly. The CCIs can also help with exports – in spite of attempts at rationalisation there are still numerous official export promotion bodies in France and the CCIs are among them. Through their links export guarantees, foreign banking, and other services are available. Apart from set-up training for new businesses, in theory chambers offer other training opportunities covering such topics as accounting, buying, selling, basic and advanced computer training, telecoms and administration and language courses, including sometimes French as a foreign language. Having said which it is often difficult for the self-employed to access such training, with work-related opportunities being on the whole more accessible to salaried employees (see more, right).
Need a small repair? Looking for a little job? Think of a Lulu!
your neighbourhood.” The association takes a 21% commission from the Lulu’s income in return for its help with set-up and finding work and has over 400 Lulus and more than 50 employees. The Lulus can do as much or as little work as they like (and are free to do other, non ‘Lulu’ work as well if they wish). “Some people work nearly full time, others have regular jobs – one morning a week doing gardening or housework, for example, and others just do a bit when they feel like it. That’s what makes our community rich,” said Ms Desmoulins. The scheme (luludansmarue. org) has 11 sites where people can get information on being or hiring a Lulu, open 11.30 to 19.30, six days a week.
FOR years it has been difficult for self-employed people to access training in spite of them having to pay into a training fund. Contributions towards training are added to the social cotisations every year but trying to get training in return is difficult. In fact Connexion could not find any self-employed workers who had obtained training using their contributions. A request to the Work Ministry for contacts also drew a blank. Having said which the government appears to be making efforts to help the self-employed have access to similar training schemes as salaried workers – but it will be 2019 before these are effective. This revolves around a new website moncompteactivite.gouv.fr which is meant to provide a place where workers, salaried and independent, can access their rights. For the self-employed, their 2018 contributions to the training fund will only be registered in 2019 so, if all goes to plan, it is from then that they can benefit. The first step using the site would be to find a course which meets your needs. They may be offered by public bodies associated with the chambers as well as by private firms. The site will include the chance to search for courses open to the self-employed but at present if you click to find one (Je recherche une formation) the Tra
With expert advice, France can actually be a tax-efficient place to live. Much depends on how you hold your investments and assets. Blevins Franks has in-depth knowledge of the local tax regime and how to use it to your advantage. Our French tax specialists can advise you on tax planning solutions, to lower tax for yourself and your heirs.
vailleur Indépendant choice is not yet working. Once a course is found, you will have to create a dossier giving details of the training, why it is needed and its cost and send it to a funding body. Under the existing system of work skills training the Fonds d’Assurance Formation are the main ones. The Work Ministry has not yet clarified who the funding bodies will be under the new system. If the dossier is accepted, the worker can do a course, possibly having to pay for it upfront themselves then be reimbursed by the funding body. A spokeswoman for the Work Ministry confirmed that independent workers will be able to access their training rights through the website from spring 2019 if they paid training fund contributions in 2018. She said self-employed people who pay income tax are also entitled to a tax credit for training (crédit d’impôt pour la formation des dirigeants d’entreprise) equal to the hours of training (up to a maximum of 40 a year) multiplied by the Smic minimum wage hourly gross rate, eg. €9.88 x 40 = €395.20. It is claimed as a deduction at the point of paying income tax on the business revenue for the year when the training was done and it is only available to those declaring under the réel tax regime, so not micro-entreprises.
Talk to the people who know
0 805 112 163 (N0 Vert) firstname.lastname@example.org www.blevinsfranks.com
INTERNATIONAL TAX ADVICE • INVESTMENTS • ESTATE PLANNING • PENSIONS
offering services like feeding pets, watering plants, housework, or tutoring. With its local focus, Lulu aims to encourage a ‘human dimension’ in daily life. Communi cations director Pauline Des moulins, said: “People are afraid of talking to their neighbours and we want to change that.” It became clear that the idea could interest others such as retired people, students, even employees wanting to earn a bit extra. Ms Desmoulins said: “Retired people can often find themselves socially isolated once they stop work. They are often active, fit and skilled but with nothing to do all day. “Lots enjoy helping other people. It isn’t just a way of earning money, it’s a way of getting to know others living in
Training for the self-employed
Concerned about your tax position in France?
by SAMANTHA DAVID A scheme which, through street kiosks, matches long-term unemployed people with people in their neighbourhood who need one-off or regular small jobs doing – such as home repairs, some gardening, ironing or babysitting – is proving a hit and is starting to expand. The association Lulu Dans Ma Rue mainly operates in Paris, but has now also opened in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine. While it is still focussed on Paris and its suburbs for now, it says it gets many requests to open elsewhere which it is seriously considering. Founder Charles-Edouard Vincent was inspired by working with the charity Emmaus, which employs homeless people to repair and re-sell donated goods. He realised a typical job was often an impossible dream for people who had been out of work for much of their lives. The ideal solution for them would be work in which they could choose their hours and activities – and Lulu Dans Ma Rue offers just that. The scheme finds them local jobs which pay €10 - €25 per hour, and also helps them navigate the micro-entrepreneur regime so they can start community-minded businesses
Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided overseas, via the Insurance Mediation Directive from Malta, the regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as 'Conseil en Investissements Financiers' and 'Courtiers d’Assurance' Category B (register can be consulted on www.orias.fr). Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA).
I AM A self-employed carpenter and from time to time my work takes me a fair distance from home, whether to visit a timber merchant to buy materials or to carry out work on a client’s property. In these cases, nipping home for lunch becomes impossible. However, I have heard that I can eat at a local restaurant and claim the meal as an allowable expense for tax purposes. How does it work? A.L.
A: IF YOU are self-employed and pay income tax on your profits (either on a BIC or BNC régime) it is possible to deduct meal expenses from your taxable work income. However this only applies if you declare for tax under the régime réel (or régime de la déclaration contrôlée for liberal professionals) and not one of the micro regimes. Firstly the meal must genuinely be work-related, whether that is a business lunch to meet new clients or a meal taken in a break. It does not extend to spouses or partners and it should not be food prepared by yourself (nor
are any meals you prepare at home considered to be deductible expenses). The meal out should usually be justified by the distance between home and where you are working. Commuting to a neighbouring village, for example, does not really prohibit returning home for lunch; however there is flexibility depending on the kind of work you do, where you work and your working hours. You should note that you can only claim for costs exceeding that of a meal at home, currently estimated at a flat rate of €4.80, including tax. The figure is reviewed at the start of each year to reflect average consumer prices. There is a cap on how much the food bill can come to as well – €18.60 – so in reality the amount deducted per meal cannot be more than €13.80 (€18.60 - €4.80). If you do end up spending more, you will need a good reason for it – for example, lack of cheaper dining options in the immediate vicinity. To make a claim you must keep your bill as proof.
Small business and tax advice Q: I have heard that the French government is introducing a PAYE tax system next year. What’s prompted the change? J.N. A: You are correct. The French government has for some years been considering changing from payment on account to a Pay-As-You-Earn system (Prélèvement à la Source, or PAS) for collecting income tax. France is the only EU country with a payment on account system. This is a very large reform and hence there has been a lot of hesitation. I hope to cover the repercussions of this change in future articles but let us start by understanding what has motivated the reform. Up until this year (2018), if a household had income tax to pay in the previous year’s assessment, then a payment on account for the following year would also be requested. A balancing adjustment would then be requested or refunded once the annual avis d’impôt was established. The payments on account could be made monthly or, more commonly, in three instalments. A disadvantage of this system is that taxpayers whose financial circumstances change have to wait until the next avis is issued before the tax adjustment can be made. In certain cases this could penalise a household which is due to pay less tax, such as after a divorce, birth or death that has affected the foyer fiscal. There are two other factors that have motivated this change. One is that France is technically a ‘year behind’ on collecting its income taxes. (Although, given that taxpayers do currently pay on account, this is not completely true.) Secondly, as the vast majority of taxpayers in France are employees, a PAYE system should make household budgeting a little easier. The monthly pay cheque would effectively show taxpayers their ‘disposable income’ (i.e. after all taxes have been paid). This could be true to some extent if the government succeeds in removing the taxe d’habitation – but, as we all know, there remain a number of other taxes, including VAT (TVA). Email your tax questions to email@example.com This column was written by Olaf Muscat Baron who is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Accountants UK, a French expert comptable and an International tax advisor. He is the principal accountant of Fiscaly, an accountancy firm based in the Dordogne which serves individuals and businesses in or out of France. See www.fiscaly.fr or call 09 81 09 00 15
June 2018 Photo: © Fonderie des Cyclopes
Beautiful bronzework from the Fonderie des Cyclopes in Merignac
CRAFTS in focus
Strength and artistic sensibility are prerequisites for any fondeur d’art
Bronze casters show mettle in a physically tough craft by EMILY COMMANDER
THE fondeur d’art, or bronze caster, uses moulds to shape bronze into objects, sculptures, jewellery, or other artworks. Bronze is an alloy made from approximately 85% copper, 12% tin and some lead, depending on the foundry. It is the caster who melts and pours the metal into moulds, sometimes working in close conjunction with a sculptor, at other times working alone. There are three principal methods for casting bronze: lost wax casting, using a mould made of wax that melts away in the kiln; sand casting, using a system of sand moulds and frames known as flasks; and centrifugal casting. Recently, the trend has been away from sand casting and towards lost wax casting, a technique that has changed very little since the Renaissance. Making the mould for the bronze is where the caster’s artistic sensibilities come into play: they have to be able to imagine and then create an image in its negative form. The moulding process goes through many stages and patience as well as vision is required to see it through. Once the metal has been cast, the bronze workers must create the desired patina, which can involve using layers of chemi-
Photo: © Fonderie des Cyclopes
Meals out can be tax deductible
connexionfrance.com Photo: © Fonderie des Cyclopes
36 PRACTICAL: Work
Filling the mould with molten bronze requires care and a keen eye for volume cals to give a sense of depth. As well as a strong artistic sensibility, anyone wanting to become a bronze caster needs to have an affinity for working with metal and a good eye for volume. They also need to be fit: this can be physical work. There are approximately 300 bronze casters active in France, and many of them trained in metalwork at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, or l’Ecole Boulle, both of which are in Paris. For interested young people there are a number of lycées which specialise in metalwork across the country.
One such is the Lycée Polyvalent Anguier in Ile-deFrance, where it is possible to study for a one-year Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) mouleur noyauteur: cuivre et bronze and learn the techniques of moulding bronze and copper into various forms. Other available CAPs take two years and require a specialism in bronze, for example bronzier option ciseleur en bronze; bronzier option monteur en bronze; and bronzier option tourneur sur bronze. For those with an interest in jewellery, the Institut de
Bijouterie de Saumur offers a CAP des métiers d’art, fondeur d’art. For adults wishing to learn how to make metal jewellery, or improve existing skills, there are courses available in workshops across France. For the complete amateur, or anyone wishing to dip their toe in the water before enrolling on a training course, the Atelier des Savoir-Faire in Ravilloles in Franche-Comté offers short initiations in bronzework. For a professional training course consult the Institut des Métiers d’Art directory, which has full listings.
The fonderie that is breaking the mould
FREDERIC Michel of the Fonderie des Cyclopes in Mérignac in the Gironde, trained in metalwork at school, and began his career working for other people. “Casting is one skill,” he explains, “but bronze casting for works of art is quite another. I had to discover it for myself.” Having to start again from scratch is common for artisanal bronze casters because training courses are invariably orientated towards commercial, rather than artistic, applications. “To acquire artistic metal casting skills you have to be passionate about them, and they require patience.” When Mr Michel and his business partner established their foundry 20 years ago, they entered a trade which guarded its secrets jealously. “I think, in France, master craftsmen are worried about their knowledge being stolen,” he explained, “but all this means is that time is wasted on re-inventing the wheel,
and know-how risks being lost entirely.” The Fonderie des Cyclopes has consciously adopted a different approach. They have trained cohorts of people each year since 1997 and, rather than losing clients, they believe they have gained in reputation as a result. Their students range from teenagers through to a 61-year-old looking for a new craft in retirement. Bronze casting may have an artistic aim, but it is very physical work. The metal pieces are often heavy and require several people and various supports to carry them. The staff of the Fonderie des Cyclopes are proof, however, that gender is no barrier: about half of them are female. For Mr Michel, all the heavy lifting is worth it the moment the artwork comes out of its mould: “I can never wait to see what’s underneath,” he enthuses. Casting bronze sculptures is a lifelong learning experience. “We only do one-
offs,” he says, “and each piece brings a different challenge. A little bit of know-how is acquired each time.” Even so, craftsmen cannot afford to go into a project blind. Materials are pricey, and with objects on such a grand scale, mistakes are expensive. To avoid this, works of art are often produced in close collaboration with the artist, making it a “proximity-based craft”. The Fonderie des Cyclopes has a little artist’s studio next door to the workshop, where more far-flung clients can take up residence for the duration of their project. What advice can Mr Michel offer to those wishing to take up this craft? “Start working with metals,” he says. “By all means, undertake training, but remember that, if you want to follow the artistic route, you need to take your time. “Spend some years taking pleasure in creating beautiful, unique objects.”
Photo: © Karine Lhémon
Rue Cujas features typical Toulouse architecture Photo: © Chloé Sabatier - Office de tourisme de Toulouse
Toulouse is known as the Pink City, la ville rose, taking its name from the bricks in its buildings, which glow pink as the sun sets on a summer’s day. Brick has been the main building material here since Roman times. Sited on the valley floor of the Garonne estuary, Toulouse has no stone, but plenty of clay, and as this contains less iron oxide than the clay in northern France, the bricks are closer in colour to pink than red. There is a sense of uniformity in the architecture of central Toulouse: elegant streets with three or four-storey buildings in brick with iron work and balconies and built on a street plan which has changed little in 2,000 years, since the Romans. If you look closer, however, you will spot the telltale signs that allow you to date the buildings and show that there has actually been considerable reconstruction. Marie France Ceruti, a guide with the tourist office, knows the architecture intimately: “At first glance, the buildings look similar but you can easily have a 14th-century one sitting next to an 18th-century one, sitting next to a 16th-century one.” The colour of the brick is one clue. “In the 19th-century chalk was added to the clay to make a paler brick,” said Mrs Ceruti. “There were two reasons for this. At the time there wasn’t sufficient lighting at night and so local regulations stipulated that buildings had to be coloured white to give greater luminosity. One way of doing this was to use a paler brick. “The other reason was to imitate the stone used in Paris to create the Haussmann style, which was fashionable. In the 20th century, it reverted to a darker tone.” The size of the windows is another clue. “There was a period in the 18th century when very high windows were a sign of prestige, and buildings dating from that time can have tall narrow windows, with an arch in glass at the top. “It was soon realised that this meant the rooms were expensive to heat and so the practice ceased in the 19th century.” Ironwork gives more clues as many façades have balconies: “However, not the earlier ones”, said Mrs Ceruti. “Buildings before the 19th century only have ironwork on the first floor and these are not balconies but protection grills over the windows. “It was not until cast iron was invented that actual balconies became fashionable and can be seen on all three or four floors. “There is another detail, which you can see on some buildings. They are lambrequins, decorative structures at the top of windows introduced for a specific reason. “Toulouse is known as a windy city. Exterior shutters can cause an awful lot of noise if they are loose in the wind and bang and clatter open and shut so in some houses the shutters were moved inside. “This created a new problem as in the hot summers the interior shutters could not be closed to keep out the light without closing the windows
Photo: © Didier Descouens
By JANE HANKS
Photo: © Chloé Sabatier - Office de tourisme de Toulouse
Look closely to see the many different styles of la ville rose Architecture of France... Toulouse
Property Watch in
REGIONAL CAPITAL: Poitiers DEPARTMENTS: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne MAIN CITIES: La Rochelle, Niort, Angoulême, Châtellerault, Saintes, Rochefort, Royan IF GOOD weather is what you are after, the PoitouCharentes region is second only to Provence for sunshine. Holidaymakers converge on the coast around Ile-de-Ré and the historic port of La Rochelle. The latter benefits from good transport links, with TGV connections to Paris in 2hr30 and flights to a number of UK cities. Those wishing to escape the crowds should set their sights on the Charente department, although Cognac is a popular pilgrimage for fans of the liqueur. Its distilleries bring brandy-lovers from across the globe, but the town’s attractive riverside and historic centre make it much more than a one-trick pony. The region’s capital, Poitiers, effortlessly juggles old with new. Its picturesque medieval centre belies a superb public transport network linking the major axes of the city and providing an alternative to car use. There is a slower pace of life in the Deux-Sèvres, meanwhile, where the canals of the Marais-Poitevin can be explored at leisure on flat-bottomed ‘barques’ or by canoe. House prices average €1,543/m² across the region but expect to pay a lot more in Charente-Maritime. Ars-en-Ré, on the Ile-de-Ré, sees an average of €4,196/m², for example, peaking at €5,993/m². Some 60% of properties here are second homes. Deux-Sèvres is the cheapest department – property prices here average around €108,000. This compares to €177,800 in Charente-Maritime. In Poitiers expect to pay an average of €1,260/m².
What your money buys Under €70,000
Left, one of the wooden structured buildings in Toulouse dating back to before the city’s ‘Great Fire’ in 1463. Right, a Haussmann-style building from the 19th century wooden structures which pre-date the fire. Toulouse bricks are thinner and longer than a traditional British brick. Their average size is 40cm long, 26.5cm wide and 5cm high. This compares with the size of a UK modern brick which is 21.5cm long, 10.2cm wide and 6.5cm high. The largest buildings, such as the Basilique Saint-Sernin, needed thick walls, so a gap between two thin brick walls was filled with rocks from the river to make them stronger. Originally, bricks were made beside the construction site but the kilns sent many buildings up in smoke so the briqueteries were moved out of town. Toulouse still has industrial brick factories in the suburbs. The city was at its wealthiest during the Renaissance due to its production of the pastel plant, Isatis tinctoria (woad), the leaves of which give an indelible blue dye. Toulouse became the most important producer in Europe as its plants gave the strongest colour. As a result, Buildings, on wealthy merchants could afford Rue Vélane, are enough land to build houses mainly brick around a courtyard. Many examples which can still be seen through archways as you walk the streets in the centre. You can visit some, one example being Hôtel d’Assézat which houses the Bemberg collection of art by Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. The tourist office offers guided visits throughout the year (some tours are in English) toulouse-tourisme.com/visites-guidees
first, and with 35C temperatures that became unbearable. “So a blind made of straw was hung over the open windows. They were not very attractive and, when they were folded up, they were hidden behind a lambrequin. These decorative structures can be seen in other parts of France, but they are used in Toulouse for this unique reason.” Though brick is the main building material, stone and wood played their part. As far back as Roman times, stone was shipped down the Garonne from quarries in the Pyrénées, 70km away. It was more expensive so its use was limited to structural features around doors and windows, and for prestigious buildings. Wood was also widely used until the mid-15th century, when it was forbidden in town centre buildings because of fires. In 1463, fire fanned by the local vent d’autan destroyed two thirds of the city but you can still see at least 250 buildings with
Cute 2 bedroom village house near the beautiful riverside town of L’Isle-Jourdain. This could be the perfect holiday home, in the heart of the Vienne, in a small village with bar. The house benefits from mains drainage and double glazing. €35,500 Ref: 77002EED86
Fantastic 2 bedroom house with large garden and lovely views of the river and countryside. Needing no work to move into, this house is situated on the edge of the popular village of Gouex, which has a bar, a baker, and a municipal outdoor swimming pool. €66,000 Ref: 53909DD86
More than €100,000
Charming cottage in attractive village with garden and out building. This is a real bargain! Situated in the centre the village with its bakery/shop and bar. Liglet is only about 5 mins from La Trimouille, where there is a selection of shops and other facilities. €104,500 Ref: 37258SC86
Pretty 3 bedroom country cottage plus house to renovate, set in beautiful private gardens. Within walking distance of the village and amenities. Potential to create a gorgeous family country home, or a comfortable home with separate gîte in Brux. €119,900 Ref: 75586FWE86
Properties available through Leggett Immobilier www.frenchestateagents.com Tel: 05 53 56 62 54
Next month: We look at Burgundy
Your questions answered
Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query
Q: WHAT will be required in the way of documentation for the sale of a maison secondaire that we had constructed in 2003 on a greenfield site. Obviously, there is no previous selling history of a house from an agent immobilier, just the land. C.L. A: Your title to the property is for the land which you bought and on which you built the house. There is never a title deed simply for a house. The original title deed (acte de vente or acte authentique) will be stored in the archives of the notaire who dealt with your purchase. You should have been given an official copy of the deed once the registration formalities at the local French Land Registry were completed. However, in our experience owners do not always receive this. If you instruct the same notaire to deal with the sale as who dealt with your land purchase, they will simply retrieve the title deed from their archives. If you instruct a different notaire, they can request it from the previous one.
The notaire will also need copies of the planning documentation for the house which you have built, including the permis de construire, déclaration d’achèvement des travaux et de conformité, arrêté ou attestation de non-opposition à la déclaration de conformité, or, if the house was completed before October 1, 2007, a separate declaration of completion and a certificate of conformity with planning. Assuming the construction was completed more than 10 years ago you will not need details of the construction insurance and structural guarantee for the works. As you are selling a second home, you may be liable to pay capital gains tax in France on the sale proceeds. You will need original receipts for the construction work to calculate what costs can be allowed as deductions from the gross gain. These must be addressed to you, show the property address and be issued by a builder registered in France.
Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930 www.heslop-platt.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: LAST week my neighbour began what he envisages to be a three-month project converting his garage into an extra bedroom. He has been working late into the evening on it, and at weekends, and the noise is dreadful. Are there rules restricting the hours when he can do noisy work? G.S A: YOU will need to visit your mairie (or look at their website) for a full list of hours during which noisy work is prohibited – it varies from place to place. As a rule of thumb, your neighbour should be putting down the drill on Sundays and bank holidays, and not starting before 08.00 on weekdays. The time that he/
she is allowed to continue work until usually varies between 18-22.00. On Saturdays you can expect this period to be shorter. If, after a friendly chat with your neighbour about the problem, the noise persists, you should notify the mairie. This should be done in writing, requesting the intervention of the mayor or a representative, whose duty it is to help maintain the peace. You can also take advantage of their mediation services or, if the problem becomes so severe, ask the police to look into it. Noisy work carried out at night could be considered a tapage nocturne (breach of the peace), which is punishable by a fixed fine of €68.
Tel: 05 61 57 90 86 www.brightavocats.com email@example.com If you have a legal query send it to firstname.lastname@example.org We select questions for answer every edition
New Hilton hotel in Metz has old-style house at top METZ is no stranger to distinctive architecture. Its towering Gothic cathedral sits sideby-side striking modern constructions, including the Arsenal concert hall and the Centre Pompidou-Metz museum of modern art, which was famously inspired by a Chinese hat. However, the latest addition to its portfolio could be the bravest yet – a monolithic, monochromatic building topped by an 18th-century traditional Alsatian home. It is the surreal vision of internationally acclaimed designer Philippe Starck and will serve as a 14-storey hotel for Hilton’s exclusive ‘Curio Collection’. The collection is made up of close to 50 hotels singled out for their individuality, of which 20 are either already open or under construction in Europe. Starck’s plans are certainly eye-catching. The house at the top will feature a roof terrace and garden populated by local trees, both of which will offer breathtaking views over the Lorraine capital. It will also accommodate a restaurant and bar, while below it 119 guest rooms and suites, a fitness centre and range of private meeting rooms complete the hotel’s high-end offering. Starck insists that, for all the “‘out-of-scale’ phantasmagoric architecture”, the Maison Heler Metz, as the hotel is to be named, was ultimately inspired by the city and its environs. “It’s a play on uprooted roots, a symbolic construction of the
An artist’s impression of the new Starck-designed hotel Lorraine region,” he says. For Metz mayor Dominique Gros, the project also serves as a strong reminder of the city’s ongoing redevelopment. The hotel will be sited on Metz’s former freight station in a new neighbourhood dedicated to culture, housing and business and close to the city’s main sights, including the Centre Pompidou-Metz, the Muse shopping centre and the Congress Centre. Mr Gros said: “Metz is going
through a revival. The opening of the Centre Pompidou-Metz and the wider Quartier de l’Amphithéâtre redevelopment is attracting investment and drawing household names such as Philippe Starck. “It’s great to see projects of this calibre come to Metz and there are exciting times ahead for the city.” A spokesperson for Hilton confirmed construction has already started on the hotel, which is due to open in 2020.
Residents face fines if they do not clear brush PEOPLE who live in areas at risk from wildfires face hefty fines if they fail to clear trees and brush from land surrounding their property. Anyone living within 200m of a wood or forest is required to clear 50m around buildings and work sites to limit the spread of fire, which last July destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of forest in France. Prefectures put up notices of at-risk areas but these include Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur regions and the departments of Ardèche and Drôme, where mayors can potentially double the cleared perimeter to 100m. The measures should allow firefighters to tackle any outbreaks bette. Non-compliance could see fines of up to €30/m² for the area of uncleared land, although mairies will notify owners of action needed. They then have a month to complete the work, after which if it is not done the mairie can arrange for it to be carried out by a contractor at the resident’s expense. Failure to clear land round your property can also invalidate your house insurance in the event of damage by wildfire, or reduce the amount of compensation paid out. Other preventative action that residents must take includes regular pruning and disposing of garden waste, fallen leaves and pine needles.
Work starts at Versailles to save royal chapel from collapse URGENT restoration is underway on the Royal Chapel at Versailles amid fears that the “precarious state” of its roof could compromise sacred art inside. The repairs are expected to cost €16million and will continue until 2020, taking in also the chapel’s exterior sculpted decor and stained-glass windows. The last large-scale works on the building were carried out more than 40 years ago. This time, restoration will be broken down into two stages: the first focusing on emergency repairs to the roof structure, slates, cladding, statues and upper stainedglass windows, while subsequent work will concentrate on lower parts of the building. The project will be carried out using traditional techniques, providing a valuable opportunity to train a new generation in ancestral skills such as gilding, stonemasonry and glazing. The Royal Chapel was originally completed in 1710, at the end of Louis XIV’s reign. The quality of its decor has seen the chapel hailed as one of the finest examples of sacred art. Restoration is being made possible due to financial support from the
The Royal Chapel before being covered in scaffolding for renovation work
Photo: château de Versailles, T. Garnier
Photo: 2018 Curio
38 PRACTICAL: Property
Fondation Philanthropia and construction company Saint-Gobain, whose own history is closely entwined with the palace. It was Louis XIV who created the company in
1665 to manufacture mirrors and glass for Versailles. A palace spokesperson said visitors can still enter the chapel while work is underway, but only on guided tours.
Apiarists need to make a beeline for the mairie Move slowly to the...
Summer months are a hive of activity
Beginners are advised to start with just three to four hives
The Connexion is following the progress of David and Teresa Clay this year as they move their B&B in Gascony towards self-sufficiency step by step. Tell us about your experiences via news@ connexionfrance.com
total self-sufficiency is unattainable for most of us; it takes an enormous amount of skill, time and energy. On the other hand, anyone can move in that general direction. As we head towards summer, the buzzing of bees inspires dreams of making honey at home
Photo: Christel Bonnafoux
KEEPING bees has many benefits – they pollinate gardens, dramatically increasing yields, as well as producing honey, beeswax and royal jelly. In France this work ethic has earned them the nickname of ‘God’s little servants’. Before installing a beehive, ask at the mairie about local regulations – some communes have strict rules about how close to neighbouring property and roads you can site a hive. Next, consider enrolling on a beekeeping course (stage apiculture). Although the general principles are straightforward, the devil is often in the detail; if bees are unhappy, they will decamp. You need to know what you are doing. The Union Nationale de l’Apiculture Française (www. unaf-apiculture.info) runs twice-yearly courses for beginners, priced €150. Many local associations and clubs
also offer courses, which will put you in touch with other beekeepers in your area. You will need to make an online declaration to the Direction des Services Vétérinaires when you set up your hive, and then annually between September 1 and December 31. It is also worth getting advice about civil liability insurance.
WHILE keeping bees is not an immediate priority for the Clays, David says “it’s one of the things that we’d very much like to do at some stage. “We’ve got so much else to do to lay the foundations for self-sufficiency first. And it’d make sense to wait for the trees in the orchard to fill out before putting a hive or two in there. The bees will be more covered then – they like a bit of shade. “We’re fortunate in that there are quite a few apiarists living near us, including a chap who runs a course in beekeeping. “In the meantime, we’re doing everything we can to attract bees to the garden. We have areas of long grass and let wild flowers grow, and we’ve got a hedge most of the way around the garden, which is full of flowering shrubs. As summer gets under way, their garden is burgeoning. “It’s as much as we can do to keep up with harvesting (peas, broad
When it comes to purchasing equipment (protective clothing, hives, bee smoker, jars, etc), get local advice about buying second-hand. It could be tempting to save money by adopting a ‘found’ swarm of bees rather than buying one, but this might be a mistake as it is impossible to know the age of the queen bee or the general health of a found swarm. As a begin ner, it is often
better to buy a swarm (around €60) from an experienced beekeeper who will advise you on their care. Find one by searching online for ‘vente d’essaims d’abeilles’. Beehives (ruches) cost around €150 and should be sited at least one metre apart, preferably facing south and in a sheltered spot. Make sure branches cannot tap on the hive in the wind, as
beans), general maintenance (tying in tomatoes) and keeping on top of weeds,” says David. “Canes for climbing beans have been put up and are being clothed by foliage – you can understand how Jack and the beanstalk came about. By now, all the fruit trees have flowered too and their fruit is visibly developing.” While it may be another month or so before this can be picked, another crop is keeping the Clays busy. Green walnuts are traditionally harvested on the feast of Saint John (June 24) in their area. They can be made into jam, thanks to a recipe the Clays found in a book by a local author. Unfortunately last year’s results were not altogether successful. “It was absolutely vile,” says David, “very astringent. We’ve saved some of the syrup though and think it might be a good flavouring for ice cream this year.” They will also be making soap for the summer’s B&B guests. “This is not a particularly self-sufficient practice as we need to buy in the oil and lye, but we will be experimenting with using our homegrown herbs for scent and dandelions for their colour.” this can frighten the bees. You can keep up to 10 productive beehives without having to declare them; empty hives or those used for producing swarms do not count. Once you have 11 or more productive hives, they should be declared for tax purposes via the micro-bénéfice agricole scheme. It is advised to start with three to four hives.
I built my house for €3,000 (all materials included)!
“THERE’S not much in the way of comfort,” confesses Chloé Dequeker of her home in Ars, a small village in the Creuse, south-east of Guéret. However, costing just €3,000 and built almost single-handedly within a year, it hardly seems the point. Measuring 80m², the ecohouse is Ms Dequeker’s third construction project, and was completed in 2003 when she was age 30. Before that she had renovated one wooden and one stone building, so already had a fair idea of the work that a sustainable self-build entails. “I’d done my fair share of stone arches,” she quips, “so in comparison a permaculture house seemed relatively easy!” She employed a natural building technique called cordwood for the walls, which sees short pieces of debarked trees laid crosswise and fixed in place with a mortar of lime and sawdust. Cement, she explains, would be too unforgiving against wood that swells with humidity. Wood shavings in the middle act as insulation. The entire house is partially-buried on the grounds of her three-hectare fruit tree nursery, with a central oak pillar supporting 14 beams, atop which
Photo: Chloe Dequeker
by SARAH HENSHAW
The cordwood house was made from naturally felled timber sits a green roof of wood, vines, straw insulation and a watertight plastic lining. The latter used up half of her €3,000 budget (this membrane was also the only part of the house which has needed repair work in the intervening years), with the remaining €1,500 spent on floor tiles, electrics and other fittings and fixtures. By choosing to build in timber, Ms Dequeker effectively benefited from free material – all the wood was recycled from trees that had fallen down in storms, on or around her land.
Labour costs were also zero as she did the project, including ground preparation and digging, under her own steam, with occasional input from volunteers in the latter stages. She said: “One day I invited all the people from the LETS group [Local Exchange Trading System – a community-based mutual aid network whereby people can exchange goods and services without the need for money] and 34 showed up – a combination of adults and children. They helped strip bark off the wood – a long job that I was
happy to have a hand with. “The kids were thrilled to be able to dig their hands into the wood shavings and carry things around.” The house was completed within 12 months, including a burner Ms Dequeker created herself to heat the building, using wood shavings collected from her local carpenter. She credits her unorthodox upbringing with giving her the gumption to see the project through. One of six children born to an English mother and half-Polish/half-Flemish father, both potters, Ms Dequeker spent her primary years travelling the world before the family settled in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. She says: “This alternative lifestyle meant I was independent from a very young age. “We could never afford to hire professionals to do construction, mechanical or electrical jobs for us. We had to figure it all out ourselves. I left my family when I was 13, so my skills since then have been learned the hard way.” This tenacity came in handy four years after the house was finished, when the village maire declared it contravened planning laws and would have to be pulled down. Ms Dequeker explains: “I was
in an interesting situation. “A woman who worked for the local building inspector had given me the go-ahead originally. She was a family friend and had advised that although I shouldn’t really be building on this plot, as long as nobody could see it she thought it might be okay. “She was nice – but naive too. I built the house assuming she knew what she was talking about. When the mairie got involved I spent two years trying to fight for the house to remain, and won in the end. “However, it was a worrying time and the compromise we reached was quite delicate.” Ms Dequeker has little patience with French planning laws – indeed, planning of any sort. “I live in a seven-sided house by happy accident rather than design. I would never have planned it like this – it would have been too complicated. “However, when I was digging I hit granite and it was that which ultimately determined the shape of the house. “In my experience, if you can build ecologically without being confined to a plan, then the finished building will likely make much more sense. It’s near impossible to predict all the obstacles that might come
your way on a building project, so giving yourself the flexibility to adapt and modify ideas makes life much easier.” Not that Ms Dequeker has ever been one for an easy life. She split her time on the build with developing her real “passion” – a nursery now numbering almost a thousand different types of fruit trees. Alongside the common apples, pears, peaches etc, she is intent on reviving ancient and nurturing wild varieties, including from such far-flung places as the forests of Kazakhstan. The physical toil is rewarded by a genuine excitement for the science and sustainability of it all. “It’s amazing,” she enthuses, “that we’re discovering only now in the planet’s evolution how plants and trees communicate with (and help) each other.” She plans to spend more time with her trees thanks to her latest self-build idea – a hut in the heart of the nursery in order to free up the cordwood building for workshops and grafting. You can visit Chloe’s flourishing nursery at open days throughout the year. The next one takes place on August 5. Her website, jardins-depeyreladas.dequeker.com, has more information and you can buy fruit trees directly.
The Back Page
400-years of friendship makes Nice a very British city NICE would not be Nice without the British, said the city’s mayor Christian Estrosi on the occasion of an official visit by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. La Prom’ – the iconic palm-lined seafront which is bidding for Unesco World Heritage status – is the most obvious reminder of this AngloNiçois relationship, but not by far the only one. Speaking at the Musée Masséna on the Promenade, Mr Estrosi said: “Welcome home... I know no city in the world that is so British without ever having been under British rule.” He made the prince an honorary citizen of Nice saying he should consider himself “a Niçois among the Niçois”. Well-to-do Britons got a taste for spending winters in Nice in the 1760s and after the Revolution and Napo leonic wars they returned following the restoration in 1814. Many had homes along today’s rue de France and avenue de la Californie or the Carré d’Or district (now behind the Negresco Hotel). But what was lacking, they felt, was a promenade where they could have healthy walks admiring the scenery and inhaling sea air. In 1822 Anglican vicar Lewis Way
Photo supplied by Métropole Nice Côte d’Axur
Not for nothing is the most famous street in Nice called La Promenade des Anglais. As its mayor and Prince Charles pointed out during a royal visit, the links between the city and the British go back centuries, reports Oliver Rowland.
Prince Charles lays flowers on a memorial launched a fundraiser among the British to pay for a 2m-wide promenade along a seafront stretch facing the Carré d’Or. The ‘Coast Road’ was finished two years later and locals baptised it Camin dei Inglés (Path of the English, in Niçois). The then mayor renamed it in 1844 and enlarged and extended it. Mr Estrosi said the name recalled “a long friendship, and gratitude – long because the first Briton of whom history tells came to live here at the start of the 17th century, though he was doubtless not the most respectable subject of the crown… a reformed pirate, a certain Peter Easton, who once he had made his fortune in the Atlantic came to share it with the Niçois. There were many more after him, and more respectable.” Among them was Tobias Smollett, a
Scottish doctor and writer, who wrote an account of his stay in Nice published in 1768, which Mr Estrosi said was “the first tourist tribute to Nice”. Queen Victoria, who stayed five years running (1895-1899) after previous stays in Menton, Cannes, Grasse and Hyères, helped to put it on the map and a palatial hotel was built for her in 1897 with lawn tennis and croquet, called the Excelsior Régina. It is still (now flats) a landmark in the Cimiez district to the north of the centre and has a large statue of the queen in front of it. History recalls the interest of the Niçois for her large entourage, including Indian servants and Scots with bagpipes and kilts. A teashop in the hills at Falicon, where she used to take tea – bringing with her an Indian servant to prepare it - is called Au Thé de la Reine. She often
travelled around the area in a carriage pulled by a donkey called Jacquot and is remembered as generous - it is said she gave a girl a gold coin for flowers (her statue represents girls offering her flowers). As she lay ill in her last days, in January 1901, she said: “If only I were at Nice, I should recover.” Generations of royals have visited ever since, Mr Estrosi said, adding that the homage Prince Charles paid to the victims of the 2016 Nice terror attack – laying flowers on a memorial – “is a proof of the continuing strength of this link and went straight to our hearts”. He added: “Without the British of yesterday Nice would perhaps not be the large beautiful city it is today, its heritage would perhaps not be as dazzling, its renown, linked to the greatness of the British Empire, would no doubt be much less. “Without the British, today and tomorrow so numerous, so present, so involved in the life of our city, Nice would not completely be Nice.” Prince Charles spoke of “the shared experience and deep affection that bind us”. He said he had been honoured to meet some of those – families of victims and emergency workers – “whose lives were so cruelly ravaged by the barbarous attack, committed on the Promenade des Anglais”. He added: “Certainly this corner of France has always been loved by the British, including by my ancestors – my great, great, great grandmother came nine times to the Côte d’Azur in
her last years and Nice became one of her favourite places… On one of her last visits she wrote in her journal: “Alas! My last charming drive in this paradise of nature, which I grieve to leave, as I get more attached to it every year. I shall mind returning to the sunless north, but I am so grateful for all I have enjoyed here. “I can understand only too well Queen Victoria’s deep affection for this very special part of France... we will take with us such special memories and like so many of our countrymen who come every year, will leave determined to return before too long.” Among the guests were a doctor and nurse couple, who helped the injured and dying in 2016 and were traumatised by having to choose which to treat, giving priority to children. Dr Daniel Navarro told Connexion: “The prince and duchess showed humanity, goodwill and sincerity. “The duchess spoke to us from the heart. It was important to us because we have to rebuild after the atrocity.” Nathalie Navarro said: “We’re both having therapy and when we saw them so full of kindness, it was extraordinary to see their love, respect and empathy, even though no Britons were killed; though it was the Prome nade des Anglais, so it’s part of your history... “We’re all attached to Franco-British friendship on the Riviera – how could we not be when we have such a beautiful place as the Promenade des Anglais.”
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