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March - April 2015 Issue 18

uercy Local The

The Region’s FREE magazine in English

Spring Issue including – Open Garden Scheme Cut Flower Gardening Quercy Lamb Grandparents Abroad & more

Opening Wednesday 4th March RESTAURANT



Le Caillau Quercy banner 2015 138x20.indd 1

See page 9 for details

05/02/2015 16:09


Pool design & construction

Traditional swimming-pools Liner – reinforced PVC Automatic water treatment Automatic cover – automatic cleaning Heat pump – Equipment - Chemicals


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elcome to issue 18 of ‘The Quercy Local’ magazine.

Welcome to the Spring Edition. By the time you are reading this there should be colour springing up all around and gardening will start in earnest. Keen gardeners, don’t miss the chance to get involved with the Open Garden Scheme, you will find more information on this on p.40. In this edition you can also find out all about one of the region’s treasures – Quercy Lamb and also there is news again from the vineyard, Domaine des Sangliers. After such a difficult time for Lisa and her family we are delighted she is continuing her column.We wish her and her family all the best.


Grandparents Abroad


Personal Taxation 2015


English Church Cahors


Panto – Montaigue de Quercy


Lauzerte – Heritage Renovations

There’s plenty of news and events from around the region and it’s clear that there’s lots going on during the next few months and this will no doubt build up a very hectic summer period. There’s art, drama, community groups and music to get involved with. Local businesses might be interested in becoming a sponsor of one of the annual, summer, music events ‘Boogie in Le Boulve’ – see p.27 for more details.


Boogie in Le Boulve – be a Sponsor!


Luzech – Language Group

We asked people to send us details of their experiences of being grandparents whilst living abroad. It was clear that some people feel greatly the pain of separation. You can read further about this on p.8. There’s also a chance on p.37 for readers to win a bottle of 1990 Armagnac.


The next edition of this magazine will be the early summer edition, available from the start of May. Email:



Pontcirq – Upstart Cafe


Lacour de Visa – ‘Familles Rurales’


Quercy Lamb


Cooking – Pain de Poisson


Marvellous Markets


Open Garden Scheme


Creating a Cut Flower Garden


Searching for Roman Roads



From our website you can – Subscribe to receive the magazine directly to your home, read the magazines on line, sign up for our newsletter and find our advertising rates. You can also follow us on twitter @QuercyLocal or ‘like’ us on Facebook –

BEAUTIFUL CHALK BASED PAINT Arriving very soon in 140 stunning colours, a paint for every project, very easy to use. Ideal for painting furniture, walls and so much more. For details on the range please call: Resa on 06 40 05 85 00 | |

ARBRESERVICES Matt Strawbridge Tree Surgeon Elagueur Arboriste

Tours 47340 Cassignas 05 53 95 80 27/ 06 45 25 65 58 SIRET NO. 5025222200004

The Quercy Local ISSN: 2116-0392. No part of this publication may be copied, used or reproduced without the written consent of the proprietor. No responsibility is accepted for any claim made by advertisers. All content accepted and printed in good faith. Please check that all advertisers are registered businesses in France or elsewhere in their relevant home country. The Quercy Local is owned and managed by A Atkinson (Las Razes, Touffailles, 82190): Siret: 518 460 605 00018. It’s produced by the Magazine Production Company, West Sussex, UK. Printed by Newman Thomson (UK). Distribution managers (47) - Lorraine & Pete Knowles; (46) and (82) Glenn Jackson. Regular contributors; Jeanne McCaul, Paola Westbeek, Angie Richards, John and Debbie Wilson and Lisa Stanton


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Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Sand, Gravel and Crushed Limestone – available from 3 sites (St Denis Catus, Cahors & Crayssac).

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Mick Bates – Monflanquin (47150) General Electrician

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G M Construction A skilled and loyal workforce of British & French tradesmen

All aspects of building projects both new and renovation, including project management, swimming pools & ground-works If you are looking for a British/French speaking builder operating in 46, 47, 82 & 24 Contact Greg:

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Grandparents Guilt, grieving and then just getting-on with it! We asked for readers’ thoughts about the ups and downs of being a grandparent abroad. A wide range of concerns were mentioned and nobody reported no concerns at all...


Let’s face it, the minute any of us became parents the guilt started. Should I let baby cry? Will the babysitter cope? Do I lend them the car? Now you’re living in France a new question surfaces – are you letting anybody down? After all, we’re not there to help with childcare, poorly tummies or boost numbers at school events. This assumes that in our British based lives we’d be living close enough to family do all this. But as Amanda (a reader with 3 grandchildren) suggests – if she was still living in the same country her children would have had the option to move closer and be helped. In many cases it’s possible to create such physical separations without moving abroad. Georgina (who left 4 grandchildren in the UK) points out that if you live in Scotland and your children in Cornwall you will have little physical closeness. Or, maybe it’s just that moving abroad feels so much more of a ‘leaving’ statement. What happens if you don’t make the move because of your children’s wishes and then they themselves move away? Simon very nearly did not make the move over when he retired early as his daughter was so unhappy at the prospect. Six months later she was offered and took a job in Rome, where she met and married an Italian. Maybe the real issue is who leaves who? If parents do the leaving is there more potential for feeling bad? Then there’s the guilt (Or, is it more sadness?) at missing out on all the grandchildren’s little (and not so little) growing steps. From first steps right though to cheering exam results. Children survive different types of relationship structures happily and accept the limitations that distance brings. Grandchildren with loving parents should not suffer just because their parents’ parents are not there. Elizabeth Cross of Quercy Counselling reminds us that “the amount of time spent with a child is less important to developing that The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

Missing Someone? Do Something Special... Celebrate Mothering Sunday – 15th March – with Morning Prayer at Terre Rouge Also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’, Pudding Pie Sunday’ and ‘Mid-Lent Sunday’, Mothering Sunday is always the middle (that is the 4th) Sunday in Lent. Traditionally, it was a day when children, usually daughters who had gone to work as domestic servants, were given a day off to visit their mother and family and return to their Mother Church – see p.21 for more information on the church and contact details. La Poule d’Or As if an excuse were needed – what about a special meal out, maybe on Mothering Sunday or any day that you feel you deserve a treat, somewhere extra special such as La Poule d’Or in Puymirol 05 53 95 29 00 Aromatherapy Or perhaps arrange an Aromatherapy treatment (or two) – call Mandy Kalantari in Moissac 05 63 04 48 60 and get something in the diary.

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• Restaurant serving fresh, seasonal food, all ‘fait maison’. • Our café with a selection of teas, coffee and homemade cakes every day. • Pottery painting atelier - come and paint your very own masterpiece. • Enjoy our traditional Afternoon Tea, Sunday 29th March. Reserve your place. LE CAILLAU 46700 VIRE SUR LOT TEL:05 65 23 78 04 WWW.LECAILLAU.COM FACEBOOK.COM/LECAILLAU


Le Caillau Quercy ad March 2015.indd 1

relationship than the quality of that time.” Elizabeth is also clear that “the feeling of guilt is optional. It can come with a recognition that there is a wish within it. A wish just for more time with those you love.” So maybe this is really more about the happiness we feel we are missing from our lives rather than what we truly believe we have taken away from others.


Grief may seem like a strong word but for some people being separated from family does feel like something to grieve over. In some cases people feel that the grieving process starts again each time family are met and left again. What is clear, from the people that contacted us, is that the greatest sadness arises where the level of grief is unequal. When one partner finds it so much harder to deal with the separation than the other. As grandchildren are born, one person may wish to return to a life in the UK whilst the other is now firmly settled here in France. Whilst there are possible compromises with time being spent in both places, this can be expensive and in some cases the settled partner simply does not want to re-build ties back in the UK. One of our readers (who wishes to remain nameless) tells how she is now left with a choice between her

Opening Wednesday 4th March 05/02/2015 16:07

marriage (and life in France) or helping out with her new grandchildren in the Midlands. Her husband has no interest in being back in the UK; and her daughter has recently had twin girls and she’s desperate to be back and involved. An extreme and sad example but one that highlights the choices some people face. If circumstances get very difficult and the degree of unhappiness is overwhelming then there are therapists and counsellors that help people deal with the problems this creates in their family lives. So how do people make it work and secure the best possible happiness from a situation that is not about to change?

Getting On With It

Technology is without a doubt your best friend here. Skype and Facetime are just two examples of how to keep in touch. We can now actually be shown the model robot that was crafted at playschool and see little changes in new-born babies. It allows grandchildren to remain familiar with your voice and remember what you look like! The people that seem to have most successfully embraced these technological opportunities are those that have made it into a family event. A regular and predictable part of their new life and one they can

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


look forward to and plan for. Fiona (a reader with a grandson in the UK) tells of how her husband spends all week working out which joke he is going to tell his young grandson on their regular Sunday morning Skype get together. Now that you have moved, your home in France can be part of an exciting and different world for visiting grandchildren. A chance to introduce them to many different foods, evenings eating-out late in the garden, busy weekend markets and bathing in the lakes and pools. Even if you only see your grandchildren for a couple of weeks in the summer, these can be the best and most memorable weeks of their year and ones that may go on to influence their future life choices. Their eyes will have been opened to different languages, the normality of travel and the fact that happy lives can be lived in so many different ways. In between time spent with your family, treat yourself and most importantly, if you have a partner that really misses absent family, treat them. Allow birthdays and special family days to be important and if there’s a celebration going on in the UK that you cannot be a part of, do something nice here and take a photograph of your day to send to your family – to show you were thinking of them. Living away from family has different results for everyone. Much of the success is dependent on how closely you all lived together in the UK. Most people seem to find a way of coping with the upset that the miles apart create. For a few it proves just too much and the only solution is to move back closer to often growing families. Soon we’ll be putting dates in our diaries as families book flights and ferries coming over for the warmth, croissants, magret, wines and of course the swimming. So starts another season of ‘hellos’ and goodbyes’ and making the very most of it all.

Traditional Afternoon Tea – Sunday 29th March, 3pm-6pm The ultimate treat has to be an afternoon tea at Le Caillau.

FULL AFTERNOON TEA: 14e per person - Home smoked salmon and dill mayonnaise finger sandwiches on granary bread - Cucumber finger sandwiches on white bread - 2 scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam - Selection of mini cakes and treats - Choice of teas CHAMPAGNE AFTERNOON TEA: 18e per person All of the above with a glass of Champagne MINI AFTERNOON TEA: 12e per person - 2 scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam - Selection of mini cakes and treats - Choice of teas Reserve your place by calling 05 65 23 78 04 or email

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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Quercy Counselling

February 2014

The Region’s

Quercy counselling offers English-speaking counselling and psychological services on all manner of issues. It’s based in Belveze and offers services face-to-face, via telephone and Skype.

16 September - October 2014 Issue

July - August 2014 Issue 15

May – June




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2014 Issue 14

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s FREE English Magazine Inside – Summ er Birds, Salad Summer Issue with – Seasonal - Music, Days, Moulin plus – Roma Art and Theatre Rouge & Local n Roads, Malbe with––Quercy Melons, Historical Rail-Lines, Stone-Carving plus Lavender Growe c Wine, with & Gardening Children Winter Issue Shake rs speare Ticket s & Inheritance One woman’s Tax... thrills motor-biking & drink Christmas food Tatin Tarte + a splendid e cinemas, mobil rs, Oyste Autumn Issue with – ning, bare-root garde Thermal Cures, Romans & more Biodynamic Wines, Walking Groups plus –

Author, Eamon O’Hara, Chef, Michel Trama & Winemaker, Philippe Lejeune

For more information please see the website:

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DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR! If you would like to get the next 5 copies of the magazine delivered directly to your home in France or another address in Europe then this is very simple to arrange. You can also arrange this for a friend or relative as a gift. You can either visit our website, and follow the link to ‘Subscribe’ and fill in the simple form with your address. Submit this and then you will very quickly receive an electronic invoice to cover the cost of postage and packing. The costs for getting 5 copies sent to you are – 15 euro for an address in France or 20 euro for elsewhere in Europe. Or, if you prefer, you can complete the form below and send this to us in the post: The Quercy Local, Las Razes, Touffailles, 82190 If you prefer to send a cheque, please make it payable to A. Atkinson Name.............................................................................................................. Email................................................................................................................ Tel. No............................................................................................................ Address (for delivery)............................................................................ ............................................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................................

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Place de le Croix – 82150 Roquecor General supplies, Bread, Newsagents, Postal Point We also stock a supply of British products and a great selection of wines from local producers

Local and convenient – a true village shop 05 63 95 25 78 / 06 82 84 56 30 (SARL Lacroixroc) Delphine and Jean Longueteau

Quercy Gite & Quercy Services Property Management, Maintenance & Holiday Rentals around Montcuq & Lauzerte. Project advice for renovations or rentals. Preparing estimates & finding tradesmen Overseeing, coordinating & monitoring projects. House, garden & pool maintenance Rental management – making income from your property. Marianne Charpentier Tél: 06 71 71 77 22

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Carpenter/Menuisier d’agencement Tous intérieurs, cuisines, salles de bains, 06 30 99 72 21 (82150) English spoken

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Reflexology Aromatherapy Reiki At your home or at my premises

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Emergency numbers Medical Help/SAMU 15 Police/Police Nationale (Gendarmerie) 17 Fire & Accident/Sapeurs Pompiers


SOS – All Services (calling from a mobile) 112 Child in Danger (child protection) 119 Missing Child

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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Annonce réalisée par la Caisse Régionale Crédit Agricole Mutuel Nord Midi-Pyrénées, société coopérative à capital variable, agréée en tant qu’établissement de crédit, immatriculée au RCS d’Albi sous le numéro 444 953 830, siège social au 219, avenue François Verdier 81000 ALBI. Société de courtage d’assurance immatriculée au Registre des Intermédiaires d’Assurance sous le numéro 07 019 259. Organisme prêteur, proposant des prêts habitat destinés au financement de biens immobiliers à acquérir, sous réserve d’acceptation de votre dossier de prêt immobilier. L’emprunteur dispose d’un délai de réflexion de 10 jours pour accepter l’offre de prêt. La réalisation de la vente est subordonnée à l’obtention du prêt. Si celui-ci n’est pas obtenu, le vendeur doit rembourser les sommes versées.

French Personal Taxation 2015 The French Finance Bill for 2015 became law on 29th December, 2014 and is a fairly uneventful affair with the principle measure being that more people, who are currently paying little tax, will become non-tax income payers this year. Detailed below is a brief summary of the new rates and bands: 1. INCOME TAX BANDS & RATES The nil rate band has been extended by over 50%, however, with the removal of the 5.5% rate band the 14% band has been lowered. As concerns the rest of the bands they have been increased by 0.5% to reflect the very low level of price increases. Per household part: 0%, Up to e9,690 e9,691 to e26,764 14% e26,765 to e71,754 30%, e71,755 to e151,956 41% e151.957 and over 45% Additional tax on high income For a single person: 3% of income between e250,000 and e500,000 4% of income over e500,000 For a couple: 3% of income between e500,000 and e1,000,000 4% of income over e1,000,000

Age Allowances & Thresholds For those over the age of 65, there is an extra tax-free allowance of e2,344 if total income does not exceed e14,710 and of e1,172, if total income is between e14,710 and e23,700. 2. SOCIAL TAXES (CSG etc.) There are no changes with bank interest and investment income taxed at 15.5%. All non-UK government service pensions, pre-state retirement age, pay 7.4% taxes. 3. WEALTH TAX BANDS & RATES Here too there are no changes, with Wealth Tax being imposed on total taxable assets that exceed e1,300,000 as at the 1st January each year:Band Rate % Up to e800,000 0.00 0.50 Between e800,001 and e1,300,000 Between e1,300,001 and e2,570,000 0.70 Between e2,570,001 and e5,000,000 1.00 Between e5,000,001 and e10,000,000 1.25 Above e10,000,000 1.50 The information contained is a summary of our understanding of some of the main changes. For most residents in France, careful financial planning can mitigate personal taxation, but, as ever, the key is to take independent advice from experts who are fully familiar with the most appropriate financial and tax planning strategies for one’s individual financial circumstances and objectives.

Peter Wakelin is Regional Manager of Siddalls France, Independent Financial Adviser, specialised in tax, inheritance, pension and investment planning for the British community. Telephone 05 56 34 75 51, Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


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Virtual Assistant – just what is one of these? Finally catching up with other parts of the world, businesses operating out of France are starting to embrace the idea of ‘virtual assistants’; not least because bolstering your business in this way avoids the expensive and potentially hazardous experience of employing permanent help. The ‘virtual assistant’ is a concept driven by the ease of modern communication-technology. It’s quite simply someone who provides just ‘as much’ or ‘as little’ help as you need. Based in their own office you don’t even need to meet, assistants can be based anywhere – even in a different county. So, for instance, if you only need help only two days a month with something like, producing reports, inputting data, sending out invoices, preparing presentations or help with a one-off project then finding someone to call on just when they are needed is a huge advantage. If you want business calls acknowledged quickly and efficiently whilst you are busy working/travelling then it can make sense to let someone handle these as opposed to operating from a mobile at the side of a road or airport terminal. A professional yet ‘virtual’ assistant can make absences (such as long holidays/hospitalisation) pass seamlessly

and ensure your business doesn’t suffer. Once these were difficult situations to cover but with today’s technology it’s very easy for someone else to pick up the reins of your business and provide simple and effective continuity. Virtual Assistants are usually highly experienced administrators with a life-time of working at business’ sharp edge, all of which can be brought to help you and benefit your business. Some key points to bear in mind when considering whether this is the route for you. • You only need to arrange the amount of help that suits your varying needs. • No permanent commitment to employment • Only pay for the help you really need • Highly experienced, self-employed, help available • No need to provide office facilities

The Quercy Local • November-February March-April 2015 2015 Please support Please support our advertisers our advertisers and telland them tellyou them sawyou their saw advert their in advert The Quercy in The Quercy Local Local  


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PROPERTIES FOR SALE IN TARN, TARN ET GARONNE, AVEYRON AND THE LOT. We are an English speaking agency based in the village of Caylus with many years of experience selling properties from full renovation projects to beautifully renovated stone houses and chateaux in this area of the Midi Pyrénées just north of Toulouse. We network in partnership with major UK Estate Agencies so we are able to provide a first class service to vendors. Anthony & Gillie Pearce AllezSouthWestFrance, Ave de Pere Huc 82160 Caylus 0563 250 956 / 0612 518 505

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Buying or selling, our expert local team would be delighted to speak to you e390,000 Ref: 10810

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• A warm and personal service whether you are a buyer or a seller • A local, dedicated sales team in Montaigu de Quercy • Properties from under e100k to e100 million • Country homes, building plots, townhouses, businesses and chateaux • Office-based bi-lingual point of contact and an expert legal liaison team • Help with finance, foreign exchange, moving and afterwards!

Call us on 0033 (0)5 56 71 36 59 Email us on Visit our website: Beaux Villages Immobilier, 45 rue des Frères Quéméré, 82150 Montaigu de Quercy The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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Joinery & Building Pre-purchase surveys Kitchens & Bathrooms Tél. : 05 53 36 64 42 Mail :

w w w. a s t r u c - r e n o v a t i o n s . c o m Regular van deliveries to and from the UK

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Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Around the Region The Association Equestre de Quercy

A PLACE TO COME A PLACE TO BELONG The English-speaking Church of Cahors in the Anglican Chaplaincy of Midi-Pyrénées & Aude invites you to worship with them at 10am every Sunday

The Association Equestre de Quercy was set up about eleven years ago and is an English style riding club that is based in the Quercy region. We aim to provide fun with instructional sessions, rides, clinics and social events for every level of rider and type of horse. Non riding members are also welcome. There is a wealth of experience within the club to help people and to point them in the right direction with issues such as negotiating the red tape involved with registrations and competitions. If you are interested or require further information regarding membership please contact Emma Alexander.

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

at Centre Paroissial, av. Jean Lurçat, Terre Rouge, Cahors For more information about our calendar of services, please see our website:

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English Church of Midi-Pyrénées & Aude

Update from the Cahors Congregation (please see our website for full contact information) The Season of Invitation – A Very Happy Easter to all our Readers You are most welcome to join us for services at the Englishspeaking Church of Cahors which is part of the Anglican Chaplaincy of Midi Pyrénées & Aude. Services are held at the Centre Paroissial, 75 av Jean Lurçat, Terre Rouge, Cahors at the times shown below. Our website address is

to a number of pensioners. Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, said (John 13:34): “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” During the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. This act has sometimes been followed literally in history as a good way for rulers to acknowledge that they have been there to serve their

Women’s World Day of Prayer Friday 6th March Do you know what I have done to you?” Join us on March 6 at 6.30pm at Terre Rouge for the 2015 worship celebration written by WDP Bahamas The Bahamas is a place of beauty. The beautiful colours gifted by nature are reflected in the worship service and the artwork. The islands give voice to the people of The Bahamas who invite the world to “come and be washed in God’s ever-flowing ocean of grace: to bask in the iridescent light of Christ’s love, and to be embraced by [God’s] Holy Spirit with the cooling tradewinds of transformation.” Mothering Sunday 15th March – Morning Prayer at Terre Rouge Also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’, Pudding Pie Sunday’ and ‘Mid-Lent Sunday’, Mothering Sunday is always the middle (that is the 4th) Sunday in Lent. Traditionally, it was a day when children, usually daughters who had gone to work as domestic servants, were given a day off to visit their mother and family and return to their Mother Church. Today children give presents, flowers, and home-made cards to their mothers on Mothering Sunday. The food associated with Mothering Sunday is the Simnel cake which is a fruit cake with two layers of almond paste, one on top and one in the middle. The cake is made with 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples (Judas is not included). Since the fasting of Lent could be given up on Mothering Sunday, everybody was able to enjoy a slice of Simnel cake! Palm Sunday 29th March – Holy Communion, Terre Rouge The most solemn week of the Christian year, Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter, and is the week during which Christians particularly remember the last week of Jesus’ life. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday which commemorates Christ’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd. A week later they were calling for Jesus to be crucified. In many churches, during Palm Sunday services, large palm branches are carried in processions or small hand-held pieces of palm are distributed. Please join us for the Palm Sunday Holy Communion Service at Terre Rouge at 10.00am. Maundy Thursday – 2nd April Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday and is marked in UK by the distribution of the Royal Maundy

subjects. Indeed, the custom of washing feet by the Sovereign was carried out in England until 1689 – although the feet were first washed by Yeoman of the Laundry before the Sovereign had to wash and kiss them! (No service) Good Friday – 3rd April The most important events in Christianity are the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. During Good Friday services Christians meditate on Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, recognising that this has enabled their sins to be forgiven by God and the gift of eternal life secured through their faith in Christ. The main service on Good Friday often takes place between midday and 3pm. In many churches it takes the form of a meditation based on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross, with hymns, prayers, and short sermons. It is traditional to eat Hot Cross Buns’ on Good Friday. These buns, with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours, have long been an Easter tradition. The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolises and reminds us of the crucifixion of Jesus. (No service at Terre Rouge) Easter Sunday – 5th April Because of the distances at Terre Rouge we are unable to celebrate Holy Saturday with a Light Vigil, and we do it at 8.30am on Easter Sunday, followed by Easter Day Holy Communion. This is the culmination of all of Lent and the day when Jesus rose again. The church at Terre Rouge is usually full – nearly 100 people, the hymns are joyous as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ – three days after he was crucified. We shall be holding an Easter Light Vigil at 8.30am and an Easter Day Holy Communion Service at 10.00am at Terre Rouge. Please join us – you will be most welcome! The services listed are sometimes changed – please consult our website or email the secretary, Gill Heyworth on

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015



at Montaigu de Quercy


hristmas and New Year festivities wouldn’t be the same without the traditional pantomime. Oh no it wouldn’t! La Troupe d’Acteurs du Quercy brought Montaigu’s Salle des Fetes alive in January with their rendition of Pinocchio. Oh yes they did! The hall was transformed to a super theatre by a terrific set. The Troupe’s adaptation of Carolo Callodi’s novel was a challenging production, five scene changes, song and dance routines and live puppet scenes enhanced the performance. It was also the first time the new lights had been used thanks to our sponsors Credit Agricole. The story tells of Gepetto, a traditional wood carver and toy maker who dreams of having a child of his own. Business is bad – children no longer want traditional toys and Gepetto’s only work is the odd repair job. Money is tight and stocks of wood are running low, but Gepetto decides to use his precious wood to make a boy puppet, much to Mrs Gepetto’s disgust. But then one evening, as he is working in his workshop, the magic begins. Whilst Gepetto wishes on a star for a real boy, Dilly, an apprentice Fairy (grade one), casts a spell on the puppet so it comes alive… However, the apprentice fairy’s spell is not 100% successful and the puppet has a rather mischievous streak. Pinocchio needs a conscience, so Dilly transforms a wooden cricket into Jemima, a walking talking conscience. Pinocchio can only become a real boy if he is good, honest and courageous. Then follows a series of adventures. Pinocchio, instead of going to school as instructed by Gepetto, is led astray by two “gentlemen of the road” and sold to Vesuvio, a Circus owner. A puppet who can move without strings! Who wouldn’t want to come and see that.

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

Distraught, Gepetto and Jemima set off in a boat to get Pinocchio back…. Meanwhile, Pinocchio discovers that circus life is not all he thought it would be. Whilst held captive by Vesuvio, he is rescued by Lampwick – a young rogue looking for adventure. Lampwick encourages Pinocchio to go with him to Adventure Island, a children’s playground of fun and free food. But the food is poisoned and turns children into donkeys. Pinocchio escapes again by swimming from the island but is then swallowed alive by a whale. There he is reunited with Gepetto and Jemima, who have also been swallowed by the whale. Pinocchio thinks up a cunning escape plan and he saves them all. On the beach, an emotional Gepetto, thinking his son has been drowned, grieves for Pinocchio. The spell is complete - thanks to his courage and honesty Pinocchio awakes as a real boy… Aaaaaah! Friday’s matinee performance was free for the local school children – over 170 children were highly vocal and entertained by the show. The Troupe’s next production will be Season’s Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd May starting at 8pm.

Want more information? Sarah Pegg: Tel: 05 53 49 19 51 Stephen Mercer: Tel: 05 65 35 69 91

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At the end of April, the OCP orchestra, soloists and choir will be giving a series of concerts with works including Vivaldi’s Gloria, Zadok the Priest by Handel and other baroque delights across Lot-etGaronne, the Dordogne and the Lot. Please see the OCP website for details!

Charity Shop for good causes – Beauville 47470 Open: Tues/Wed/Fri 2-4pm, Fri/Sun 10-12am Enquiries:

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015



A winner for heritage renovations and the environment

By Jeanne McCaul, Lauzerte


Photo credit – Gregory Orr

he Quercy village of Lauzerte is one of 54 French towns to have recently been awarded subsidies to the tune of 230 million euros, to be spent over 6 years (starting January 1st 2015) on municipal and private renovations. In practice it means that money will be available for the renovation of existing buildings – in particular run down or abandoned homes. In the case of housing, the grants will apply to the entire ‘Communauté de Communes’, while in the case of municipal renovations the subsidies will apply only to the town of Lauzerte. The aim is to renovate buildings in accordance with heritage requirements, while also upgrading them to modern standards. Lauzerte, one of the “plus beaux villages de France’ is the only town to have been chosen in the Midi Pyrénées department and was even congratulated for the quality of the application submitted. Some months ago three French government ministries: Housing, territorial equality and rural affairs, Decentralization and public affairs, and the Ministery of French overseas departments (Outre-Mer), jointly launched a call for proposals (AMI: ‘Appel à Manifestation d’Intérêt’) to benefit from these subsidies. Rural towns with less than 10 000 inhabitants, in all French departments, including those overseas, were eligible and 300 The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

applications were examined. The central idea is to limit new construction on agricultural land, while at the same time infusing new life into existing buildings, especially those considered part of the rural heritage or ‘patrimoine’, and attracting a new generation of inhabitants by providing up-to-date infrastructure and facilities. The project makes perfect sense. It is socially and environmentally sound. Instead of depleting arable land with unattractive ‘lotissements’, or social housing, better to replace the rats and stray cats presently inhabiting some neglected parts of town, with people. A number of issues needed to be addressed in the process. For instance: making some compromises between the need to preserve architectural heritage while also meeting modern living standards. Some owners simply do not have the means to renovate their properties, while others would be willing to make the investment required, provided they were then able to inhabit them comfortably, rent or sell them. As an example, the town of Lauzerte has plans to renovate some 100 abandoned or run-down houses in the historical medieval town. The architects of the ‘bâtiments de France’ – that often intimidating organization, set up to protect

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French architectural heritage – has formally agreed to allow for some buildings in Lauzerte to be demolished in order to create some open spaces for greenery between houses. Importantly, it has also formally agreed to allow much sought after terraces – albeit under the rooftops – in the town. The key issue in both cases will be to preserve the traditional alignment of the buildings, their facades and rooftops. The Mayor, Jean-Claude Giordana, is confident these dispositions will encourage repopulation of the town. Initially, Lauzerte will receive e241.000 to cover the cost of an in-depth study, over 3 years, of the different projects proposed. These include: • Ensuring the continued economic development of the town by, among others, creating a new zone for artisans and entrepreneurs. The area earmarked for this is on the Valence side of the town. The logic is that shops etc. open to the public will be grouped on the Montcuq side, while those not (in principle) open to the public, will be on the other side. • Improvement of housing via an OPAH: ‘Opération programmée d’amélioration de l’Habitat’ valid for the entire ‘communauté de communes’. • Increasing the town’s ‘functionality’ by creating and improving parking places, creating a

playground for children (possibly next to the Carmes church), creating a new state-ofthe-art primary school cafeteria opposite the school on the Place du Château, restoring the arcades that burnt down years ago on the upper town square in front of the tourist office and gift shop, creating a medical centre (possibly once the row of garages at the entry to the town on the Montcuq side have been demolished) to house doctors, nurses, a dentist, a physiotherapist… as well as various social services. • And, last but not least: reducing the number of hectares destined for building from 45 to 18. The good news is the growing awareness of just how important it is to keep a delicate, but healthy balance between the need for housing and development in a modern society on the one hand, while on the other preserving the unique architectural heritage of the Quercy, as well as the natural beauty of the environment, in many places still untouched and wild as it has been for centuries. In due course an announcement will be made, inviting the population to attend informative meetings and to participate in discussions and the process of decision making.

Heritage villages upgrade: an example By Jeanne McCaul, Lauzerte


efore and after. A quest for former youth and beauty. That is where many Quercy villages and country homes, farms and barns are going. Partly it is thanks to mayors and town councils with vision and goodwill, partly to new-comers to the region. Indeed, it is nice to think that perhaps our enthusiasm has contributed a little to the rediscovery by the French themselves of the treasures amongst them. Well, that and the increasing shortage of housing and the desire of many to move away from the daily stresses and strains of the cities. New residents may be from neighboring Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany, or across the channel from the UK, or from as far away as Australia, or North America and even South Africa. All have been drawn, not only to our sunny climate and blue skies, but in general to the attractive quality of life in South Western France. We have fallen under the charm of its landscapes, produce and people. We take pleasure and pride in renovating the gorgeous

limestone edifices that ooze history and we are keen to support local artisans, shops, activities and events as well as – hopefully! – sharing the responsibilities and work that are indispensible for keeping all of it alive and well.

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Mix it all together and a brand new venue “Aux Sarrazins du Faubourg” is a good example of what can be done. The “salon de thé” serves light meals with traditional Brittany style buckwheat “crêpes” as the essential ingredient, and afternoon teas with more “crêpes” – pancakes, Brittany style. The spotless, modern stainless steel kitchen, as well as the stylish contemporary decoration, are the manager, Annie Lafage’s choices, while the impeccable renovation of the interior and exterior of the building itself, all done with local materials and strictly respecting heritage rules, is the masterwork of Henri Bazeaud and his team of ‘B.H. Matériaux Anciens’, down below the town of Lauzerte. For many, his huge in- and outdoor warehouse of mainly second hand, but also new materials has become a household name. Since it opened in the spring of 2014, the “crêperie” has attracted many visitors, adding The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

to the existing range of congenial eating, drinking and socialising places for all tastes and budgets in the lower and upper towns of Lauzerte. In the lower town the restaurant of the Hôtel de Quercy is well known and is a member of the ‘Association des Restaurateurs du Tarn et Garonne’. It has been redecorated and the terrace completely renovated. The ‘Etna Restaurant Pizzeria’ , under a huge shady tree, and the ‘Restaurant Auberge des Carmes’, known for excellent veal, both take great care in making their terraces beautiful and welcoming and are open all year round. On the main square of the medieval upper town, the ‘Table des trois chevaliers’ re-opened a couple of years ago (closed in winter) after a name change and extensive renovations, giving it a lovely old tavern feel. The ‘Café du Commerce’ (also closed in winter), is especially popular for drinks and a chat during Saturday market in summer, while the ‘Café Musical Puits du Jour’ is open all year round and offers light meals as well as music and movie evenings. At the entrance to Lauzerte there are the ‘Hotel restaurant le Luzerta’ – known for its take away hamburgers – and the ‘Bar Auberge d’Aulery’, particularly popular at lunch time for its buffet and grilled meats. And beyond, there is the up-market ‘Hotel le Belvedère’ which also has a spectacular infinity pool and view over Lauzerte. What is true for Lauzerte goes for many other towns in the Quercy. The range of shops, restaurants and other services seems to grow, along with the influx of new residents of all generations. For centuries the unique topography of hills and valleys of the Quercy, and much of the surrounding land, has protected it from overpopulation and development. The narrow roads twist and turn, limiting traffic, while affording constant new discoveries, even for those who have been residents for many years. Hopefully, the secret of our beautiful and generous region will be revealed just enough, but not too much.

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Boogie in Le Boulve August 2015 BECOME A SPONSOR!


e Boulve is a sleepy village halfway between Prayssac and Montcuq. Each year the village comes to life for a very special evening in August. This year will be the fourth year we’ve had the open-air concert and picnic that we call ‘Boogie in Le Boulve’. We have two or three groups featuring high quality musicians, both English and French-speaking and, most importantly there’s music from different genres – Country, through easy Listening, to a little Rock n Roll or perhaps Jazz. The setting is the little square at the heart of Le Boulve and, in the shadow of the 13th century church and chateau, it is the perfect place to spend a summer evening with friends and family. The event is organised by our non-profit association Quercy Unplugged and, now that the event is becoming established the event, we plan to donate some of this year’s surplus to charity. We fund the evening by income from the ‘gate’ of course but it is vital that as much as possible our fixed costs are covered in advance by sponsorship. Without local sponsorship we run the risk of serious financial loss if the evening is

Photo credit: Tony Priestley

abandoned because of poor weather – yes the weather is unpredictable even in South West France. We do have local French sponsors but if you are Englishspeaking and have a service or business hereabouts you are more than welcome to get involved in helping and sponsoring us. Sponsorship starts from just 75 euros and it’s a perfect way to get in touch with potential customers. So many events just ask for sponsorship money but we want you to come and be involved – to make sure your spending brings results. The date for your diary is Friday 14th August. Please get in touch with me at or call 05 65 22 71 64 to make a reservation or to discuss the benefits of being a local sponsor. A bientot, Mike Jones

New Language group in Luzech “Hand in Hand” is a new language group which was formed last November at Luzech. The sessions are run by volunteer French and British native speakers who have a passion for languages. The principal objective of each session is the oral language, with the emphasis on enjoyment in a relaxed atmosphere. As well as developing language we aim to discover each other’s cultures. Our English speaking compatriots, for example, will be helped with everyday life in France. The concept of Hand in Hand is the inspiration of Katrine Meur de Soif and is supported by Rosemary Jackson, Jayne Carman and Marion Taylor. The last session before Christmas was held in the ‘Musée du Moulin’ at Luzech. Whilst sharing ‘un pot’ the groups met and chatted in both languages. It was a great opportunity for everyone to practice all that they had learnt and the success of this first term was a credit to the volunteers. Well done everyone!!! The response has been extremely encouraging and feedback has been very positive. The groups are small enough to enable everyone to take part in the group’s topics. Our French groups are full for the moment, but

we are looking for more English speaking people who wish to learn or improve their French. Sessions for the English speakers are on Monday evenings from 18h30. The annual cost is 10 euro which covers insurance and 2 euro per session to cover general costs. So come on English speakers whether you are British, Dutch or Danish come and see what we do, then just send an email to Jayne, Catherine, Rosemary or Marion at:

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Upstart café has locals talking In the village of Pontcirq, Irishman and local resident Eamon O’Hara has been at the forefront of establishing a new community café (café associatif), which is helping to energise the community, reconnecting local inhabitants and providing a platform for new projects and activities.

The official opening in April 2014. L to R - Aline, Eamon, Thierry Chatain (mayor of Pontcirq), Patrick, Tanya and Astrid.


ike many rural towns and villages across France, Pontcirq (46150) has seen its population decline sharply over the last century, and with this the commercial life of the village has effectively disappeared. Fifty years ago the village had a bakery, a shop and three cafés. Today, all of these are gone. Now, however, a small group of local inhabitants are trying to revive the fortunes of the village by creating a new hub to bring people together and rekindle a sense of community. In April 2014, Eamon, his wife Tanya, and three other local inhabitants (Aline Baumgartner, Astrid Charley Labou-che and Patrick Issosta) launched la Gariotte, the café associatif de Pontcirq. The aim was to provide a venue where local people and visitors could meet socially on a regular basis. “All of the founding members have moved to the commune in recent years and we all regretted the fact that there was nowhere in the village to socialise. Because of this, it was difficult to get to know people, our neighbours. We thought a café would be a good way to address this, as it would provide space where people could meet up regularly, for a chat, a drink, to eat something, and generally just spend time in each others company.” Recognising that there was unlikely to be sufficient demand for a commercially run business, the decision was taken to open a community-run café, which would depend mainly on local voluntary input and, in

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

turn, any profits or other benefits would be returned to the community. This approach had already proven successful in neighbouring Lherm, and in other rural areas that faced similar challenges. “We were fortunate in that the mayor of Pontcirq, Thierry Chatain, was very supportive, allowing us to use Foyer Rural, which already had all the facilities we needed for a café (bar, kitchen, toilets, etc..). Other local people also offered to help out, and our suppliers were very accommodating, giving us generous credit terms.” But despite this support, many people were sceptical. In a small, rural commune like Pontcirq, with a population of only 160 people, they just didn’t believe there would be sufficient interest. “We were very conscious of this scepticism but to be honest we didn’t worry too much about it. We had no real overheads, the risks were low, and we didn’t expect the place to be buzzing every night anyway. If ten or fifteen people showed up on a regular basis it would already be a success in our eyes.” “We officially opened on the 11 April 2014 and on the first night we had over 100 people, mostly from Pontcirq, but also from the neighbouring communes. We had hoped for 50, maybe even 60, but this took everyone by surprise. It was a great night; with local musicians, good food, and plenty of drink. It created a real buzz. I think the whole communes was on a high for a few weeks afterwards.” The real test would come in the following months, however, when the initial euphoria of the opening night subsided and the novelty wore off. “It was a great start, but we knew that we couldn’t just sit on our laurels, so we planned series of events over the first twelve months to encourage people to come along and give it a chance.” One year later... Now, one year on, La Gariotte has become a mainstay of the village, “From the beginning we decided to open twice per month, from 18h00 to 22h00 on the first and third Friday of each month. This has worked out quite well. It’s manageable in terms of the workload and its frequent enough to be somewhere people feel they can go regularly.”

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“Generally, on the first Friday of the month we try to organise some kind of special event or activity. So far we’ve had music evenings, a talk on renewable energy, a children’s art exhibition, a football tournament and lots of other activities. Some of these we will repeat again this year, as well as intro-ducing a few new ideas, such as event to celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick (20 March) and a concert in the church at Pontcirq (April 4).” An important aim of the café is, as much as possible, to support local and organic producers. This is reflected in the range of products on offer, which includes organic beers from the local Ratz Brewery, a selection of Cahors wine, Fair Trade coffee, local organic cheeses, and organic vegetables from

La Ferme de Pontcirq. The menu generally includes a choice of three or four options and everything is freshly prepared by the members. “Because we are an association, you have to be a member to frequent the café, but it’s open to eve-ryone and it’s just a matter of filling in a short membership form and paying a nominal e1.00 fee. What I love about this is that people really feel part of it; everyone chips in.” “So far we have around 200 members, of all ages and all nationalities: French, English, Dutch, Danish, Belgian, Scottish, Finnish, Irish, and ranging in age from toddlers up to octogenarians. Our members are mostly from Pontcirq, but also the surrounding communes and even further afield. Everybody is welcome at La Garrotte!” La Gariotte is open on the first and third Friday of the month from 18h00 to 22h00. For more information, contact:

Eamon O’Hara is the author of A French Renaissance? which recounts the story of his family’s move to the Lot in 2010. A French Renaissance? Is available on Amazon, or di-rectly from Eamon (contact:

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Venez pratiquer l’anglais avec des anglophones autour d’un verre!

Come and practise French with French people while having a drink! Second-hand book sale in aid of Poorpaws Dog Rescue and Cancer Research.

7 minutes en français : 7 minutes en anglais. Puis on change de table! Une façon agréable et ludique de pratiquer l’anglais et se faire des amis quelque soit votre niveau It’s a fun way to improve your French and make some friends.

Participation 5e (boisson non comprise) à régler le jour même Cahors -

Easter Saturday, 4th April 10 am - 3pm at Lesley’s Barn, Beliben (next to Sauzet, Lot). All books/dvds - 1 euro. Delicious home-made cakes. For more info or to donate books please contact Sue on 05 65 24 53 03 email:

Association ‘Familles Rurales’ in Lacour The main aim of the movement “Familles rurales” is to keep families in their rural environment, to develop social and local life. For more than 20 years, the Association of Lacour (82190) has arranged organised activities to benefit families, tourism, and the environment. The Association offers different regular and occasional activities all year round... Craft Activities: including sewing, lace work, creative workshops, basketwork – week-end or one-day courses. Cultural Activities: Including visits to concerts and the ballet often as group outings with transport (where we get preferential fees). We are always open to suggestions for events to add to our calendar. More regularly, the Association meets for a day or an evening around specific themes for games, classes, walks and of course the monthly cinema session. Others Activities: including, a weekly Tai Chi course, computing for beginners, first-aid training and the library. The Association also offers a service to help people with administrative or consumer questions. The Association is open to the Public: Tuesday, 10h to 12h, Wednesday, 14h to 17h orThursday, 14h to 17h or by appointment. Also, during summer in July and August, the Association welcomes you on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 14h30 to 18h30. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information! or The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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Galerie Histoires & Jardins 22 Bd des Thermes 06 83 15 33 59

«VERS ITHAQUE» 3 Artistes font halte à Saint Antonin Noble val 11 AVRIL / 10 MAI 2015 Jean Michel Cropsal - Artiste Plasticien France Noëlle Pellecer - Photographe Jonathan Danzon - Sculpteur

COMING EVENTS April 4th and 5th – Easter Open weekend at Chats du Quercy Cat Rescue Centre and Boutique L’aChat Curieux 27th June HOT MOGGIES – all day fun day in celebration of our 5th Anniversary at Chats du Quercy Cat Rescue Centre and Boutique L’aChat Curieux Tel : 05 63 94 73 97 Web : Boutique L’aChat Curieux, 82190 Miramont de Quercy

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Regional Eating & Drinking

Spring is in the air... Time to order lamb for Easter!


hen driving or hiking high on the ‘causses’ of our region, you may notice kilometers of dry stone walls stretching out among the Quercy oaks and juniper bushes. Many years ago, these walls were used to delineate landowners and served to keep sheep on their own property. Another unique feature is the presence of ‘gariottes’ or ‘cazelles’, conical shaped ‘huts’ built with dry stones, which served as shelters for shepherds. As far back as the 18th century the Quercy region was renowned for the quality of its lamb. There are very good reasons for this reputation; and, with the designation of the ‘Label Rouge’ in 1990 and IGP (‘Indication Géographique Protégée’) in 1996, the reputation and quality will be maintained. The climate is hot in summer, cold in winter and very dry. This has a direct effect on the breed of sheep which can adapt to these conditions. What better qualifications than traditional breeds of the ‘Midi Pyrénées’ region which have lived here for centuries. The primary breed is the ‘Caussenarde du Lot’, its distinguishing feature being the dark rings around the eyes. The other breed eligible for certification is the Lacaune, also well known for its high milk production, used for blue cheese such as Roquefort. Both these breeds (but more so the Lacaune) have been obtained from crossings, early in the 20th century, with other breeds from the region, to become more productive The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

and perfectly adapted to the climate and ‘terroir’. For example, their feet and legs are strong and high to walk easily on the stony ground and very steep slopes. They are strongly resistant to ticks, enabling them to graze close to the oaks, junipers and brush predominant on the ‘causses’. They are also calm and easy to manage for the shepherds. And, to top it, they are good mothers, protective of their young and capable of surviving in a harsh climate with poor quality feed. However, there are other factors which come into play before qualifying for certification. The physical region is strictly defined: the department of the Lot, parts of the Lot and Garonne, Tarn and Garonne, Aveyron and the Dordogne. This definition came into force during the 1980s, when there was an influx of sheep from Eastern Europe, lowering the quality of the meat and disappointing consumers. Having said this, 80% of the ewes are raised in the ‘Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy’, a protected area, unique for its flora and fauna. The farmers are inspected on an annual basis to ensure that environmental concerns are respected and their animals are healthy and treated correctly. Lambs must be milk fed by their mothers (‘élevé sous la mère’) for a minimum of 70 days. As they mature they are fed a complementary mix of cereals and other vegetable matter to reach an ideal weight of between 35 and 40kg and must be slaughtered before 5 months.

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There are also strict regulations surrounding the transportation and slaughtering to ensure healthy and humane practices. Carcass weights are verified (around 50% of original weight), the structure of the carcass is regulated, as is the amount of fat. In fact, only 1 in 3 lambs succeed in obtaining the much sought after label. Butchers have contracts to certify that they respect regulations in order to be supplied with ‘Label Rouge’ IGP labeled lamb. Pricing is such that the farmer can receive adequate premiums for the efforts needed to maintain such high quality and care. Each animal must be traceable, a guarantee to the consumer that the farmer stands behind his/her product and a panel of experts do annual tastings to ensure that the meat retains all of its specific qualities and flavors. A very important aspect is the environmental benefit provided by this industry. Grazing on the ‘causses’ combats rural desertification and keeps the land free of undesirable brush and weeds, while naturally fertilizing the soil. Keeping the land cleared of dry grass helps minimize forest fires. Sheep are the only possible animals capable of thriving in such harsh climate and poor soil; they honor our table and deserve recognition, complementing the other wonderful produce of this special region called the Quercy. In 1980 Alexis Pelissou, well known chef and author of the book « La truffe sur le soufflé » was in the forefront of the battle to keep foreign breeds of lamb out of the Quercy. One direct result was that Quercy lamb was the first French lamb to obtain a ‘Label Régional’ stamp of guaranteed quality, as early as 1983. This stamp was the forerunner of the ‘Label Rouge’ – the true guarantee for superior quality. As Philippe Bressac of the ‘Agneau Fermier du Quercy’ organization explains: “An IGP stamp refers to a geographic area – not to be confused with taste or quality, an AOC (Appéllation d’Origine Controlée’) stamp refers to the notion of ‘terroir’ which confers a specific taste to a product – again, separate from notions of quality. As for the reason why we speak of ‘agneau fermier’, this is our way of differentiating between lamb raised by farmers as opposed to industrialized production.” Hence, we end up with the full description of ‘Agneau fermier du Quercy, Label Rouge/IGP.’

In 1995, competing with 114 entries, Pelissou’s entry for Quercy lamb, also using other local produce, won him a gold medal at the ‘Première Coupe d’Europe des saveurs régionales’. It was quite an elaborate entry, composed of 4 variations of lamb dishes and using ingredients such as truffles. Here follows one of the 4 winning recipes – easy to make and tasty.

Light ‘d aube’ of la mb in Cahors red wine To serve 8: 1 kg leg of ‘Agneau fermier du Quercy’, Label Rouge/IGP 500gr onions 50gr pink Lautrec Label rouge/IGP garlic 700gr tomatoes 2 oranges 200gr rolled pork rind (‘couenne’) 3 liters Cahors AOC red wine ‘Bouquet garni’, salt and pepper Method: Debone the leg of lamb and cut into cubes of about 60g each. Arrange in a dish, preferably round, together with the chopped onions, garlic and tomatoes (skinned and seeded), juice from the oranges, ‘bouquet garni’ and ‘couenne’. Season, pour the wine over to cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Decant once the meat is cooked but still slightly firm. Put the sauce through a strainer, pressing through with a spoon to recuperate all the juices and vegetable pulp, which will bind the sauce. Return the meat to the sauce, decorate and serve. Frédéric Bacou, owner-chef of the ‘Hôtel Restaurant du Quercy’ in Lauzerte and president of the ‘Association des Restaurateurs du Tarn et Garonne’, proposes an unusual, somewhat exotic recipe:

Shoulder of la mb with a ‘confit’ of fruit and vegetables To serve 6 to 8: 1 good size (2kg or over) shoulder of lamb. Ask your butcher to debone it and remove excess fat, etc. 3 soup spoons duck fat Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


100gr hazelnuts 100gr almonds, blanched and sliced 150gr dry, ‘pruneaux d’Agen’, stones removed 150gr each of dried figs and dried apricots 2 soup spoons quality honey Method: Chop all the vegetables and fruit into cubes of 1cm. Mix together well. Season the inside of the meat with salt and pepper Melt the duck fat in a heavy skillet. Brown the meat on all sides, remove from skillet and set aside.

½ liter dry white wine ½ liter bouillon 200gr celeriac, peeled and rubbed with lemon to keep it from coloring 250gr fennel 200gr red onions 250gr carrots 4 garlic cloves coarse salt and pepper

Put fruit and vegetable mix into the skillet, cover with wine and bouillon and bring to the boil. Lay the meat on top of the mix and add honey. Cook in the oven, pre-heated to 180°C, for 90min. If needed, add bouillon. Check seasoning and serve. Of course, if all of this seems too much, remember that a classic roast of lamb, with garlic and rosemary, served pink with flageolets beans, remains unbeatable. Bon appétit! Photo credits – Agneau Fermier du QUERCY, Organisme de Défense et de Gestion



A few summers ago, I had a lovely fish terrine as an appetiser at Restaurant Le Cabri in Duras in the Lot-et-Garonne. It was one of the many memorable dishes I ate there. The terrine was served with a dollop of garlicky mayonnaise which gave it a refreshing ‘kick’. I never forgot that terrine. In fact, I kept thinking about making it myself yet didn’t dare fearing that it might not turn out quite as good. But because fears are made to be overcome I decided to be brave and try my luck at making it. It wasn’t even nine o’clock in the morning, but there I was, making a court bouillon and debating what kind of fish I would use, how much cream and how many eggs. Cooking from memory can be challenging. Especially if you’re trying to recreate something you positively adored. I decided to use a mix of three different fish in my terrine: salmon, cod and smoked mackerel. The mackerel’s deep, smoky flavour certainly helped to achieve the taste I so much remembered. I had a slice of the terrine for lunch, and I am happy to tell you that the very first bite transported me back to that summer evening at Le Cabri. I was absolutely thrilled with the results! When Hans, my husband, (who isn’t really fond of fish) came home later that evening, I presented him with a slice, poured him a glass of chilled white wine and told him to be open minded. Well, he really enjoyed it too! I thought I’d share this little titbit with you, just in case you might have any fish-haters around or aren’t that fond of fish yourself. I hope you’ll love it as much as we did.

Bon Appétit !

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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Pain de Poisson

The recipe makes about twelve slices and keeps for about three days. You’ll want to serve this delicate fish terrine with a salad, a lemon wedge and a spoonful of good, garlicky mayonnaise. Note: If desired, you may substitute equal quantities of other types of fish. Just make sure you include one smoked variety.

For the court bouillon: 950ml water 1 bay leaf Small handful of parsley Small packet of finely chopped soup vegetables (150g) Salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper 50ml dry white wine Juice of ½ a lemon Bring everything except the wine and lemon juice to the boil, immediately reduce the heat and allow to gently simmer in a closed pan for 15 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice and allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the bouillon. Taste and add more salt if needed. You’ll want the bouillon to be tangy and salty. Return to the pan.

For the pain de poisson: 400g cod fillet (frozen)

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Once your bouillon is ready, add the frozen fish fillets. Allow everything to come to the boil and immediately reduce the heat. Simmer the fish in a closed pan for 8 minutes. Remove the fish and flake in a large bowl. Flake the mackerel and add to the bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, chives, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the flaked fish and mix well. In the meantime, bring a full kettle of water to the boil. Line a cake tin with baking paper, place it in a large baking tray and pour the mixture into the lined cake tin. Place the tray in the oven and carefully (!) pour the boiling water in the baking tray (you will be baking the pain de poisson au bain marie). Cook for one hour and 15 minutes. You might want to cover the terrine with a sheet of foil 20-30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Carefully remove the cake tin from the bain marie and leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place in a sink of cold water and allow to cool for a further 20-30 minutes before refrigerating.

250g salmon fillet (frozen) 200g smoked mackerel 70g tomato puree 5 eggs Small bunch of chives, plus extra, to serve 200ml cream

Serve cold with a simple green salad, sliced lemon, a scattering of fresh chives and garlic mayonnaise.

Salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper

Delicious with a chilled Chablis or a dry, white Bergerac.

Paola Westbeek is a food, wine and travel writer with a good dose of joie de vivre. She is passionate about French cooking, old-fashioned chansons, Rembrandt and life. Paola is available for all kinds of recipe development and culinary advice. For more information visit or contact Paola at Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


By Lisa Stanton from – Domaine des Sangliers is an independent, organic vineyard located in the hills of picturesque Puy-l’Evêque, one of the best terroirs of the Lot valley. We produce organic AOC/AOP Cahors, Vin de Pays du Lot and Vin de France red and rosé wines, and apéritifs. Family run, we personally undertake every step of the wine making process, from pruning to corking, all on the estate. Our aim is to achieve the highest quality product, naturally and ethically produced, at fair prices. For further information please visit our website or find us on Facebook.

Marvellous Markets! By the time you read this, spring will be warming us up and filling us with the dream of summer and all its joys. The vineyard (fingers crossed) will be looking spick and span, with the vines pruned, stripped back and tied down onto their supporting wires, grass neatly mown and every second row ploughed, like a giant fruit filled zebra crossing. Although, as I write this, I am still madly pruning, and really need to get my skates on! Once the vineyard is prepared for the growing season, I head back to the local markets with our wine stall. In January and February, I only attend one market a week so that I have time to prune the vines (all 23 thousand of them, all by hand, and mostly, all by myself!). This increases in spring, and by the summer it can be anything up to 6 a week!

Market Culture

Market culture has endured in France whilst it has been dying out or even lost in parts of the UK, and other countries. Here the markets are not just a Christmas novelty or a temporary revival, inspired by a fashionable nostalgia for our grandparents’ era. Many locals still do their main grocery shopping at the markets, as it has been done for generations. Most of my neighbours go to two markets a week, the local towns on a Tuesday (Puy l’Evêque) and the neighbouring one on a Friday (Prayssac). Working friends go early, retired friends arrive in time for coffee, and busy mums often turn up just when we’re thinking of packing up. You may be surprised at the wide selection of foods available too; just to give you an example, at Prayssac you can find a large selection of organic produce, farm cheeses, home-grown honey, walnut oil from a local farm, an Italian specialist (Paul, who happens to be English!), Portuguese items, African and Asian delicacies, farm fresh roasted chickens and ducks (and roast potatoes!), spices, coffee, a specialist tea stall, home-made cakes, saffron, lavender, The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

goat’s milk soap (yes, this is allowed in the food market, although you wouldn’t want to eat it!) and, well, you get the idea (and there’s wine too, of course)!

Quality of Life in France

Market culture is a very attractive part of the French lifestyle. It provides a meeting point as well as a trading one. Everybody in the village/town knows each other (or at least “of” each other), people catch up with news, swap stories, they notice if a regular is missing and someone will check on them. Generations mingle, chat and put the world to rights. Life slows down, people laugh, joke, sympathise and empathise. Some come into town together, some shop for those who can’t make it for one reason or another. In short, the market is the life of the town.

Restaurant Tips?

Perusing the market is a great way to choose a local restaurant; watch the chefs selecting their produce for the day’s lunches, and guess the menu du jour. The cafés within walking distance are bustling, with all the morning coffee & croissant trade, followed by the delicious, value-formoney lunches, which remain one of the great pleasures of living in this area.

Season’s Changes

Once the summer season arrives the market evolves a little; year-rounders tend to come earlier, avoiding tourists and heat; the number of stalls swells, with local specialties, extra seasonal produce, barbe a papa (candy floss, which literally translates as daddy’s beard) and a variety of other delights. If you’re lucky there might be a musician playing next to his hat, an impromptu art gallery, or a stall of school children selling cakes. Larger towns often also have a monthly foire – a larger market, often non-food, and with stalls selling perfect gift items and, of course, treats to buy yourself that you just can’t live without! Some towns are lucky enough to have a covered market, safe from the weather in winter and in the shade in the summer.

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Restaurant or Marché Gourmand?

In the summer evenings you can find marchés gourmands – this is a market that you go to for dinner, just choose what you want to eat, watch it being cooked, buy your bottle of wine, sit at one of the provided tables with friends… and eat! A totally different experience to a restaurant, and not to be missed.

The Traders

A friendly lot (with the odd exception!), happy to help by keeping an eye out whilst you fetch change, or lending a bit of brute force to persuade a stuck umbrella to open. Many are producers and not just re-sellers. They focus on quality, rightly proud of their product and happy to let you taste, explain the secrets of their production and to answer your questions. Nothing ever tastes quite so good as food you know the origins of. The price for a stall is very reasonable, and the council’s efficient employees have miraculously and effectively erased every trace of the morning’s activities by early afternoon.

Win a 35cl bottle of 1990 Armagnac – delivered to your home in France is one of the leading retailers of South-West Products on-line, with an extensive array of Armagnac, wines, and local products; including a huge selection of Grands Armagnacs with access to up to 30 producers. To try to win this ‘true taste of the South-West’ visit the retailer’s website and discover the name of their village. Then email this detail (before 31st May) to with your name and address. A winner will be drawn on 31st May. Only those over 18 years of age may enter. Vin Adour & Fantaisies are specialist at mailing valuable bottles, using their Air-Pack postage system – so the prize will arrive safely at your door. Good Luck! Always drink responsibly

Take Your Basket (or buy one there!)

So, if you are living or holidaying in France and are looking for a way to integrate or improve your French, or you’re just bored or lonely, find a market and become a regular –it’s a lovely feeling to have your vegetables sold to you by someone who not only knows your name, but remembers that you like the yellow tomatoes. If you want to talk about wine (or anything else for that matter!), come and see me! And if it rains? Go anyway! You’ll be part of a smaller but elite group, exchanging understanding smiles with one another, before racing to the café to dry out.

Thank You

Lastly, a thank you to all those who noticed that I was missing from the last two editions, and for all the kind wishes sent to us during such a difficult time. Visitors are welcome to the property. We are open from June to September, from 2pm to 7pm. Wednesday and Sunday by appointment. Other dates and times by prior arrangement. A variety of tours of the vineyard and wine tastings are available year round. Learn about the organic wine making process, the basics of wine tasting, or just enjoy trying some new wines or aperitifs. Group and corporate bookings are welcome (musical entertainment/catering can also be arranged). Purchases can be made directly from the cellar door. Children welcome. Disabled access. Always drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation; pregnant women are advised not to consume alcohol; don’t drink and drive.

Domaine des Sangliers – Les Sarrades – 46700 – Puy-l’Evêque Kim-Louis & Lisa Stanton – 06 04 03 34 12


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The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


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Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Open Gardens Michael Moat, President of the Association explains its beginnings and amazing start and looks for people to now get involved.


pen Gardens/Jardins Ouverts is modelled loosely on the UK’s National Garden Scheme Yellow Book project, which started in 1927 and now has over 3,800 gardens. During this time, it has raised over £42 million for charities. Similar schemes exist in many countries and yet when my garden was “finished” (insofar as any garden is finished), I wasn’t able to find an equivalent in France. Consequently, in 2013, four British garden owners, all based in the Creuse, ran a pilot to determine whether there was the potential to develop an Open Garden scheme in France. The gardens were open the last Sunday in June, attracted over 50 visitors and raised 300e which was donated to a French charity called ‘A Chacun son Everest’, an organisation founded by Dr Christine Janin, the first French woman to summit Everest. This charity organises activities for children with, or in remission from cancer or leukaemia. For more information see The follow-up meeting wholeheartedly supported the idea of developing the theme of Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts and an association was formed in January 2014. Our target for 2014 was to have 12 gardens and to raise 1,000e for the same charity. In the event, 28 gardens took part and the opening hours were extended to the whole weekend of 28/29 June. The variety of gardens was wide and included features such as ponds and lakes, wild flower areas, raised bed horticulture, gardens on the banks of the Gartempe and 2 châteaux. The gardens were dispersed throughout 4 départements, the Creuse (23), the Haute Vienne (87), the Corrèze (19) and the Vienne (86) and were 25% French owned and 75% British owned. The weekend was very well supported, despite appalling weather; 422 visitors (40% French/60% British) paid 5e to visit as many gardens as they wished throughout the weekend and one stalwart couple managed to “bag” 16 gardens. Some gardens had refreshments and/or plants for sale, which boosted the income to over 3 times our anticipated target. 3,051e was the final tally, of which 2,500e was sent to ‘A Chacun son Everest’, the balance being withheld to help with the expenses for 2015. The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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It is worth mentioning that we have already developed a very rewarding relationship with the charity, an example being the receipt of a handwritten letter by Dr Janin, thanking us for our donation and congratulating us on the success of our venture. Plans for 2015 are underway and we are continuing to expand: over 50 gardens have already been signed up in 10 départements {the additional ones being the Indre (36), the Dordogne (24), the Charente (16), Gers (32) and the Lot-et-Garonne (47)}. Our target is to have a minimum of 60 gardens on offer and we are well on track to exceed this. There will be 3 principle opening days: 8 March, 10 May & 12 July, thus availing visitors of the opportunity of seeing a far wider variety of plants at their best. Garden owners can open at other times and these will be publicised on our website. There will be no entrance ticket in 2015, this is being replaced by a membership card which will cost 10e and allow access to any of the gardens throughout the year. Many private gardens and estates charge between 4e - 6e per person, so we feel this is good value. For casual visitors, a day pass of 5e will be available. Up to now, gardens have been inspected by members of the small conseil. As the scheme grows, this is simply unsustainable: firstly on a practical basis, we cannot continue to cover gardens which are increasingly distant; and secondly, we need local people with local knowledge to a) find gardens and b) have or find the necessary local contacts to publicise the scheme. Our proposed method of addressing this is to find local area co-ordinators who will act to recruit gardens and to help publicise the scheme. The conseil will offer every possible means of support and this will include, for example, publicity at a

national level, writing reports for them to submit to local papers and the printing of colour leaflets colour flyers. We have managed to recruit 10 area coordinators, one of whom offered to be the co-ordinator for the entire Dordogne département! Two recent boosts to our progress include :– The British Ambassador and his wife have written to say that that they will do what they can to support our ambitions and are happy to be associated with our project in whatever way seems convenient. Furthermore, they wish it to be known that members of Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts are welcome to view the garden of the Embassy on the Saturday of the Journée du Patrimoine in 2015 on Saturday 19th September. Secondly, a landscape designer, based in Paris, has offered to be a co-ordinator for the Ile de France. An area which, although only two thirds the surface area of the Limousin, covers 8 départements and has 12 million people, 18% of the total population of France. The success or failure of Open Gardens depends on 2 main factors: firstly increased and more targeted publicity. We could have the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Les Tuileries & Giverny on our books but if no-one knows about them, our project will fold. Secondly, we cannot continue to develop the project without the help of area co-ordinators. However, there is every reason to be optimistic; it is so encouraging to witness that the spirit of voluntaryism is alive and well and the willingness, joy and enthusiasm with which people are adopting these responsibilities is testament to this. It is wonderful to contemplate the possibility that France may one day have its own Yellow Book and we seek any and every opportunity to help to achieve this goal. To get involved contact – Mick Moat: 05 55 63 43 12

Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


Creating a Cut Flower Garden


s well as filling our gardens with beautiful plants, it’s also nice to fill our homes with fresh flowers. A splash of colour, a delicate fragrance – whether you’re heralding the end of winter and welcoming the spring with cheerful narcissi and tulips or brightening up the autumn with the sage aromas of Perovskia atriplicifolia, what a lovely luxury it is to freshen up your house with flowers. Birthdays, anniversaries, or just to say “I love you” – who doesn’t love flowers? Beautiful bouquets don’t have to be a rare luxury though. Creating your own cut flower garden is surprisingly simple and, with carefully chosen plants, you will be able to both fill your home and produce home-grown gifts all year round. While some people select flowers from their borders, I think it’s nice to create a separate cut flower bed, filled with plants grown specifically for harvesting. It seems such a shame to me to rob the borders of their blooms, when instead you can take a practical, regimented approach to cultivating a specific cut flower bed, just as you would any other crop. This reconciles me to the act of cutting a bloom in its pride rather than leaving it in the ground. You wouldn’t bemoan the removal of a cabbage or a cauliflower, and my practical, potager-loving approach to gardening can accept this far more readily than pillaging the herbaceous border. The first thing to do is choose the location. As the majority of cut flower varieties are sun-loving, and most of these plants have medium to long stems, a sunny, sheltered spot is best. Size and shape of the bed can of course be bespoke, according to your requirements, but, as a general rule, a 3 x 6 foot bed is good. This will provide sufficient room for plants whilst enabling easy access to all areas for sowing, weeding and harvesting. Make it longer if you require more space, but don’t be tempted to make it wider, as you’ll struggle to reach the middle areas. Do the usual preparations of stripping any turf and removing grass roots and weeds before enriching the soil by adding organic matter such as compost, leaf mould or well rotted manure. Nice soil structure, with good drainage and plenty of nutrients are what we want, so dig it in before planting, and continue to improve it each year with annual applications of your preferred organic matter. Don’t overdo it though – soil too rich in nitrogen will produce lots of foliage but not many flowers Then comes the fun part: select your plants. These can be any combination of annuals and perennials (and of course, bulbs, shrubs and trees can be harvested as well). Make your choices based on preferred colours and scents, opting for plants with long bloom times and adequate stem The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

lengths (nothing too short). For year-round productivity, bear in mind the different bloom times and select a few varieties from each of spring, late spring/early summer, summer, late summer/ autumn and winter bloomers. Wait until after the last frosts before sowing and/or planting outside. Early sowing can, of course, be done under glass in a greenhouse or windowsill. If buying plants, try to purchase ones that have been either grown outside or have been hardened off sufficiently, for increased hardiness and greater chances of survival. Plant in rows, one variety per row, allowing sufficient space for the spread of the plant, and placing taller plants at the back of the bed so they don’t throw the smaller ones into shade. Once in, water plants as required and stake taller plants as needed. Cut stems regularly and remove any faded blooms – this will encourage plants to keep blooming frequently and for as longs as possible. Harvest flowers at an appropriate stage of development. Flowers that have multiple buds on each stem (such as Dianthus) should have at least one bud showing some colour and one bud starting to open. If you cut them too early, while they’re still tightly closed, they won’t open in the vase. However, individually stemmed flowers (such as Dahlias and Zinnias) should be cut when fully open. When it comes to prolonging the life of your blooms, it’s all about water and nutrients. Harvest plants in the early morning before the day warms up to achieve greater longevity for your flowers. As the day progresses and temperatures rise, transpiration rates increase, the plants lose water and lose rigidity, but the cool night air and morning dew have an optimum effect on the plants’ hydration, so morning-picked plants have stems full of water and are erect and rigid. Take a bucket of water with

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you and plunge the stems immediately after cutting. This will prevent air bubbles from entering the stem, which would inhibit water absorption. Before arranging the flowers, make an angled cut on the stems (some people like to do this underwater to be really through about avoiding air pockets). The angled cut increases the available surface area for water absorption. It also ensures that, with the stem resting on a point, the cut surface of the stem is fully exposed to the water. Make sure that your blade is sharp, as a dull instrument can cause crushing and damage to the stem, which again would inhibit water uptake. Use secateurs, not household scissors, which have a gauge set for paper and will crush the bulkier material of the flower stems. Re-cut the stems every couple of days, as you change the water. Take off an additional half inch/inch, again at an angle, removing any discoloured or decayed material. To reduce the risk of bacteria and fungi, make sure your vase is scrupulously clean. Remove any leaves that will be under the water line, as these would quickly rot. To add nutrients to your water you could either buy a commercial product or make your own plant food, with a combination of carbohydrate, acidifier and biocide. Simply take one litre of water and add the following three ingredients: one table spoon of sugar, for nourishment, two table spoons of lemon or lime juice, for the correct ph level, and half a teaspoon of bleach, to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. Keep water levels topped up and replace the water regularly – every two or three days, or when the water is cloudy (which indicates bacteria in the water), replenishing the plant food as well. When positioning your flowers, place them away from drafts and direct sunlight. Also keep them away from bowls of fruit, as the fruits emit ethylene gas, which will cause buds to remain closed, petals to have a poor colour, and cause premature wilting of the blooms. Likewise, flowers that are spent should be discarded immediately as they will also emit ethylene.

The following is a selection of plants to cover the different bloom times throughout the year. Have fun selecting a few from each and experimenting with your own cut flower garden! Spring flowering

Anemones Clematis Montana Hyacinthus Muscari (grape hyacinth) Narcissus (daffodil) Tulipa (tulip) Viburnum x burwoodii

Late Spring/early Summer

Allium Ammi majus Aquilegia vulgaris (granny’s bonnets) Cerinthe major var. Purpurascens Gypsophila paniculata Hydrangea paniculata Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea) Nigella damascene (love-in-a-mist) Paeonia (peony) Papaver oreintale (oriental poppy) Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian buttercup) Syringa vulgaris (lilac)


Agapanthus Astrantia major Calendula officinalis (pot marigold) Centaurea cyanus (cornflower) Cosmos Dahlia Dianthus (pinks, sweet William, carnation) Echinacea Purpurea (purple coneflower)

Echinops (globe thistle) Gerbera jamesonii (gerbera daisy) Helianthus (sunflower) Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea) Nicotiana alata (tobacco plant) Lilium (lily) Phlox paniculata Rosa (rose) Rudbeckia fulgida var. sulivantii (blackeyed Susan) Zinnia

Late Summer/Autumn Aster Cleome (spider flower) Crocosmia (montbretia) Dahlia Freesias Helenium Nicotiana sylvestris Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage) Sedum spectabile Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican sunflower)


Callicarpa bodinieri var.giraldii “Profusion” Hedera helix (ivy) Helleborus Galanthus (snowdrop) Narcissus “February Gold” (daffodil) Hamamelis (witch hazel) Sarcococca (Christmas box) Viburnum x bodnatense “Dawn” Viburnum tinus

John and Debbie (Le Jardin des Espiemonts), 05 63 64 68 76, Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


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The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


SEARCHING FOR ROMAN ROADS CHEMIN DE LAVANDE We had the idea to search for Roman roads when we finished the archaeological dig at the Roman Villa of Massels. We knew where the first part of our search should be because of the proximity of the Villa to the known Roman road running roughly parallel with the D656 in Lacardeyre only 500 metres from the villa, marked on modern IGN maps and used by walkers.

The most intriguing information which triggered our decision to try and survey Roman roads in the region is on the Peutinger Map. The original is in the National Library in Vienna and further information can be found on Wikipedia. Our interest was the information concerning the lines drawn between Agen (Aginnum),Villeneuve sur Lot (Excissum) and Cahors (Bibona). In between Excissum and Bibona is the name Diolindum. The arguments for where this site is situated has been argued over by historians for several hundred years. So with this in mind, we decided that if we could find the roads, these ought to lead to Diolindum. As we quickly found out going on a ‘treasure’ hunt was not going to be easy! The main possibilities under dispute are Lalinde, Dordogne and Duravel, Lot. The distances marked on the Peutinger map are in leagues and we discovered that these can vary in metres depending on whether they were Gaulois leagues called lieues (24002450 metres) or Roman (2200-2225m). There is a book written by Tholin (1895) in French called Itineraire d’Antonin which is a study of the whole of France giving all the distances marked on the Peutinger map (www. The distances we have calculated indicated on the Peutinger map do not match actual distances on modern maps – they add up to too many between Villeneuve sur Lot and Cahors. There were few roads at that time and no flood controls, which would have meant elongated routes from one place to another. This could mean that the route to Duravel went via a longer route, adding up to the distance on the map. When Lalinde comes into the equation this is confusing because why go all that way up north only to then turn The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

back to head south east to Cahors? As our territory is full of hills and valleys, with abundant streams and rivers (which most likely have changed course) we have quite a search to do which may take several years (if we find it at all!) We hope that readers may be intrigued enough to do a desktop search as well.

As already reported in previous issues of the Quercy Local, we decided to follow the Roman road near the D656 towards Agen, turn and work our way back, to then continue northwards and see where it went. It was while checking Napoleonic maps that we discovered the references to Queen Brunehaut/Bourniquel/Bruniquel. This is when we decided to name the main Roman road involved in our search as the ‘Na Bruniquel’, adopting the name from the archives which gave it that name during the medieval period. Whether or not this Queen actually had renovation work done on our road or not, it was definitely believed that she had when the maps were drawn up.

At the same time a second group which includes some of our members were researching the area to the

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north of Villeneuve sur Lot and have now traced the possible route of the Roman Road (Via Peyrigne) all the way to the area just south of Perigueux. This year both groups will endeavour to trace the same road south from Villeneuve sur Lot to Agen and see if we can find out where it crossed the River Garonne (continuing south towards the Pyrenees). When everything we want to do in the Aquitaine is fully written down and reported we will turn our attention to the areas towards the north east of the Lot/Lot & Garonne/Tarn & Garonne with the resurrection of the hunt for Diolindum. This will include the Roman road from Cahors to Perigueux, anything heading from modern day Eysses-Villeneuve sur Lot (Excissum) to Duravel and Cahors, as well as the possibility of a south/north road from Couloussac, already reported in a previous issue of Quercy Local. There are many other Roman roads in the region – including the Clermontoise, and Aquitania – but as far as we know, they have not been walked on to prove what routes they took and their antiquity. This line drawing from the CAG46 shows the suggested routes of the Roman Roads heading across our departments from Cahors, which will give everyone an idea of the territory that needs investigated. This survey is probably going to continue for years due to the sheer enormity of the terrain that needs covered – a good reason to make sure that our efforts have been properly recorded as we are unlike to finish....

tracks shown on the old maps when we have been able to trace evidence of them on the ground, sometimes walking round in circles. The more we have discovered the more questions we have than answers. In the end I think all we will be able to do is report exactly what we have found and leave the answers to the researchers of the future who may have the technical expertise to find exact dating proof without digging holes all over the various departments. During the times when the weather was too bad to walk, we have worked at home researching the archives, information scattered on the gallica website (Bibliotheque National Francais) and several French members of the AA47, SAHV, INRAP Cahors, DRAC/ SRA Bordeaux have been extremely supportive passing on ideas, links to documentation and anything they have found while researching for their own projects. We therefore have a good collection of photos of archives from Agen and Eysses, photocopies of pamphlets and reports written over the last fifty years, as well as information we have gleaned for ourselves concerning the Lot & Garonne/Dordogne/Lot/Tarn & Garonne departments.

We have used google maps, google earth, flashearth, geoportail, and from the departmental archives, the Napoleonic, 1870s cantonale, Cassini, Etat Major and our own aerial photographs.

Despite all the information found on the maps and archives, together with our walks, our certainty that the road we are following was built by the Romans has diminished bit by bit. We are more unsure now than at the beginning and feel more and more that perhaps our road could be older, though parts further on appear to more recent, perhaps links were made between older roads during the medieval period. We have walked the Published March, May, July, September and November each year

The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


does cause headaches because of moving boundaries and new tarmac roads replacing and straightening the old ones without leaving any traces. Although we have managed to learn a fair amount of what the countryside looked like two hundred years ago, we have been disappointed that there hasn’t been much written evidence available for earlier periods. This can be explained by the 100 years war, Wars of Religion and the French revolution when a massive amount of information was destroyed and lost forever. In the next article: Things to look out for when looking for traces of a Roman (Ancient) Track or Road... Miramont de Quercy The online Napoleonic and 19ths Century maps

have proved informative because details anyone interested 05they 63give 94us 65 57 / If06 30 is64 79 43in doing desktop research at of the roads at that time, and not the massive quantity home– as a backup to our walks please get in touch check opening hours of tarmac roads we have now. Comparing the two with Angie Richards by email The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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The Quercy Local • March-April 2015


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The Quercy Local • March-April 2015

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The Quercy Local Spring Issue March-April 2015  

A free regional magazine for the ‘English Speakers’ of the Quercy region of S W France – covering the Lot, Lot et Garonne and Tarn et Garonn...

The Quercy Local Spring Issue March-April 2015  

A free regional magazine for the ‘English Speakers’ of the Quercy region of S W France – covering the Lot, Lot et Garonne and Tarn et Garonn...