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December 2017 – February 2018 Issue 32

uercy Local The

The Region’s FREE magazine in English

The Winter Edition Inside – Brulhois, Beads & Bears Wine-tasting, Woodcock & Winter Hygge Puy L’Évêque & Lalbenque


Pour la Protection de la Nature


Why not treat yourself to some pampering this winter!

Hotel, Restaurant and Spa. In the heart of the region and close to you. Do you know about our ‘Déjeuner Détente’? From Monday to Friday, including one hour access to our wonderful Spa and lunch. Onwards 39€ (see our website for more details). Looking for a special Christmas or Valentines’ Day gift? Why not ask us for a Gift Voucher. Hotel & SPA Le Moulin de Moissac*** 1 Promenade Sancert - 82 200 Moissac Tel : + 33 5 63 32 88 88 - Fax : + 33 5 63 32 02 08 E-Mail: hotel@lemoulindemoissac.com www.lemoulindemoissac.com Hotel & Spa le Moulin de Moissac

PISCINES • Conception et realisation de piscines • Spas, Sauna, Hamman

BÂTIMENT GÉNÉRAL • Restauration de bâtiments • Constructions de bâtiments • Assainissement et recuperation d’eau • Amènagements extérieurs

TENNIS • Réalisation et renovation


Paret Neuve 82150 Roquecor Tél: 05 63 95 22 21 Fax: 05 63 95 27 14 quercy.bleu@wanadoo.fr Quercy Bleu quercybleu


We are back around to our winter edition – welcome! This year we’ve included a ‘big end-of-year’ quiz. A chance for us to find our very own ‘super-reader’. For the prize we’ve a lovely basket of goodies all donated by this year’s advertisers and contributors. More details of this great prize will appear on all the various ‘social-media’ platforms during December. I do hope you’ll give the quiz a try! In this edition we’ve plenty of wine, including some details about ‘winetasting in the dark’ with the Caves de Brulhois. A very novel idea! Then there’s chocolate for the sweet-toothed, and beautiful glass-beads for the creative. We go on a bear-hunt in the Pyrenees and visit the lovely towns of Puy L’Évéque and Lalbenque. We’ve tried, really hard, to put something in this edition for everyone. This remains a magazine that is driven by what people do and want to tell us about. If you think this should include you – please get in touch for next year. The next edition will be out for the start of March. In the meantime you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram or via our website. As always we ask you to please support our advertisers whenever possible.


Happy Christmas and New Year to all.

www.quercylocal.com Email: thequercylocal@gmail.com


CONTENTS End of Year Quiz The Gourmet Bird The Hippe Hymn New Year Concerts Windowsill Herb Gardens Club Jardinage de Lauzerte La Vida Verda Chocolate and Pear Tart Master Chocolatiers Am Dram – Montaigu de Quercy Insurance – Winter Risks A trip to the Pyrenees Brown Bears Anglican Church - Cahors ‘It started with a kiss’ – Medical News Major Tax Reforms in France Caves de Brulhois Wine Tasting Tips Wines from the South New Year Resolutions Theatre Sans Parole Coping with Christmas Well-Being – money saving vouchers Ooooh Beads Puy L’Évêque French Page – Jour de Foire Lalbenque Truffles Green Bathroom Shelf Christmas What’s On Flaugnac Christmas Market


p.6 p.8 p.10 p.12 p.14 p.16 p.18 p.20 p.22 p.26 p.28 p.30 p.32 p.34 p.38 p.41 p.42 p.44 p.48 p.52 p.54 p.60 p.65 p.68 p.70 p.74 p.75 p.77 p.78 p.80 p.82


From our website you can – Subscribe to receive the magazine directly to your home, read the magazines on line, sign up for our newsletter, add your business to our free on-line directory and find our advertising rates. You can also follow us on twitter @QuercyLocal or ‘like’ us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/quercy.local or Instagram – thequercylocal

Emergency numbers Medical Help/SAMU 15 Out of hours Doctor 3966 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

116 000

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 in their 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 Gráficas Piquer. French admin. Valérie Rousseau.


Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


The BIG 2017

end of year QUIZ A chance for our regular and thorough readers to celebrate being true ‘Quercy Locals’. Here are 10 questions, the answers can all be found in this year’s editions. Time to have a look back through them all. Remember that they can all still be read on line. You then simply visit our website and find our ‘competitions’ page and enter the answers there. www.quercylocal.com We have a wonderful basket to give away full of gifts from many of our contributors and advertisers. The basket is being put together during December and its picture will appear on our website and facebook page during that month. The closing date for the quiz is the 31st Dec. 2017. After this date all the correct entries will be put in a hat and a winner will be drawn. Q.1 The name of the world’s most expensive cheese – made with donkey milk? Q.2 What cheese did Luci suggest as a stuffing for an Easter leg of lamb? Q.3 Which is the 3rd most numerous beef cow in France? Q.4 In which song will you find lyrics suggesting ‘snorting bullocks and farting goats’? Q.5 The name of the local boy, turned test pilot, and who was killed in 1911? Q.6  Which village was used as a ‘dry run’ for the atrocity enacted shortly afterwards at Oradour-sur-Glane during WW2? Q.7 Which restaurant derives its name from the poker term for a hand with three cards of the same value? Q.8  Name the lady that connects Marcel Proust to a village on the side of the River Lot. Q.9  For the insured risk of ‘storm damage’ to apply in France how fast the wind must be blowing at the time of the event? Q.10  What was the name of the gardener’s daughter at Château de Nérac whose romance (legend suggests) with Henry 1V of France led to a tragedy and then later the naming of one of the Cuvées at Château du Frandat? • We can only deliver the basket to a winner within our region, so if you are entering from the UK or elsewhere then please can you make sure you can nominate someone that can accept the basket at the start of 2018. • After the closing dates we will put the answers on the website’s competition page. • Editor’s decision is final. Here are some of the generous donors of gifts for our ‘prize basket’: Vignerons du Brulhois www.vigneronsdubrulhois.com, Auberge du Brelan www.aubergedubrelan.com, E’mane www.emane.fr, Les Jardins d’Auléry Les Jardins d’Aulery, L’Allee des Vignes www.alleedesvignes.com, Choco ô Lot Choc ô lot chocolaterie artisanale, Brewery Rapiette Brasserie Artisanale de Montcuq - La Rapiette, Monpez’art Montpez’art, Lavande du Quercy www.lavande-quercy.fr, The Furniture Room France The Furniture Room France, Boutique Anglaise www.alesinfrance.com, Garage Lopez et Fils www.renault.fr, Alpagas Vallée du Lot www.alpagasvalleedulot.com. The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Bi-­‐lingual architectural  practice   Planning,  design,  project  management   Full  architectural  services     Sean  Rawnsley  RIBA,  AA  dipl.   www.architectesud.fr  -­‐  info@architectesud.fr   Tél  :  05  82  81  10  21  -­‐  82330  Verfeil-­‐sur-­‐Seye     Membre  de  l’Ordre  des  Architectes  

Ironwood Motif Artist Blacksmith, Ferronnerie d’Art

In business in France since 2005, we create outstanding traditional and contemporary ironwork for indoors and outdoors. Pergolas, staircases, railings, handrails, balustrades, balconies, gates, sculptures, outdoor structures and more... simple or elaborate, intricate or uncomplicated, small or large, we can fabricate, forge and hand make ironwork customised to your needs.

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Take a look at our website and follow us on Ironwood Motif, Ferronnerie d’Art and on Instagram Ironwood Motif 46330, BLARS, 00 33 (0)5 65 30 53 99, www.ironwoodmotif.com SIRET: 481 198 638 00019 Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


The Gourmet Bird


he hunting season in France has kicked off again and once more we can hear the sound of guns being discharged and hounds baying in the distance. When walking in the normally deserted countryside we may well run across men dressed in an interesting combination of camouflage and bright day orange security clothing. One supposedly allows you to sneak up on unsuspecting quarry whilst the other stops you getting shot by your fellow hunters. There are over a million hunters in France making it a pastime that is deeply ingrained in French culture even though numbers have dropped by half over the last thirty years. Many French hunters are quite generalist in terms of the game they seek but there is one group of hunter that tends to be a little more specialized. The bécasse (woodcock in English) is one of the fastest and most challenging of game birds and some hunters hunt this bird to the exclusion of all others. With eyes on the side

of its head giving it three hundred and sixty degree vision and a tendency to break late, bagging a bécasse becomes a real reaction test. Despite the amount of skill required and a bag limit of just two birds per day French hunters still manage to shoot about 1.2 million birds per season. That may sound like an alarmingly high number but ornitologia. org has been monitoring the population since 1992 and there seems to be no dramatic drop in the bird count. The bécasse is a migratory bird, moving from its breeding grounds as far away as Russia to spend winters in Europe and as far north as Scotland. In medieval times, when bird migration was little understood, it was believed that these birds flew to the moon for the summer months. With their long beaks, of which the top half is flexible, combined with the unusual courting flights of the males at dusk they became ideal candidates for mythological status. There have also been occasional sightings of the female bird flying with one of her chicks held in her feet, which has deepened their mysterious reputation. It is just about impossible to hunt these birds without a reliable gun dog and bécasse hunters tend to favour English setters as their hunting companions. The bird has a sharp feather on the leading edge of each wing known locally as the ‘plume du peintre’ and a hunter will often wear these feathers tucked into his hat band as a trophy of his success. Tradition has it that when a good gun dog dies these feathers should be buried with the dog in recognition of his hunting achievements. Of course, this being France, there has to be a food connection here and the bécasse does not disappoint in this regard. They are highly sort after by connoisseurs of fine game. The most traditional recipe calls for the bird to be hung for a few days and then feathered and strung by its neck over an open fire. As the bird slowly rotates and begins to cook the intestines flow out and are captured on a piece of toast which is then served as a starter. That may sound a little unpalatable for those with more delicate foreign taste buds and the flavour is definitely strong but certainly not disagreeable. There

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


are plenty of other less dramatic ways to eat this bird including roasting wrapped in bacon or stuffed with foie gras. Alexandre Dumas, the famed author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, believed that the bird should always be eaten with a fork lest the delicious juice caused the diner to lose control and eat his fingers. It is rare to find bécasse on the menu but if you do I would definitely recommend you try it; just be careful not to touch the juice.

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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018



n Holland there is a famous hymn called ‘Spirit from above’. I loved singing it as a child because of its beautiful melody. Only years later did I find out that in the Dutch church we sang the song about three times too slow. The melody is actually a dance song from the early baroque era, a balletto. This is quite surprising as the Dutch protestant religion is famous for being stern, strict & sorrowful. On the other hand, I just checked my Dutch book of church hymns and the lyricist turns out to be a 20th century poet who was particularly active in the sixties. There you go. A hippie hymn. But what a hymn it is in the original language! Thank you Giovanni Gastoldi (1550-1622) for L’inamorato (‘the suitor’). The happy and bouncy ode to the god of love has a churchy vocabulary about it, so that may be why it attracted the Dutch church fathers’ attention. There is, for instance, a sentence that recurs at the end of each verse in a slightly different form: ‘Let’s give praise to such a Lord’Signore in Italian. In this case, ‘such a lord’ is not God of the heavens, but God of love. Amor. Before you continue to read, listen to the song. I found this exquisite version on Youtube: www.youtube. com/watch?v=rwRxJNqPvqk. Close your eyes and enjoy. Finished? Good, then the music-history lesson continues. Gastoldi was a sort of best selling artist in his day. He was tremendously popular in the Netherlands and apart from the 20th century hippie hymn mentioned above, his works were translated into Dutch even within his lifetime. The poetic idea of this brilliantly happy and energetic song is ‘Life is short, so let’s enjoy life, and to live is to love.’ Perfect. What more would you want than to hear these words pronounced in the most beautiful language in the world? Here we go. The lyrics are below. Now play a little. Read the words out loud, slowly, deliberately, in your best Italian. Even if you don’t speak Italian, just go for it and have fun. For an accent, think of Pavarotti speaking English. Italian is easy to pronounce. The r is rolled. And much unlike English, each vowel has the same pronunciation, always.

The syllables with the ridiculous surplus vowels below are the stressed syllables. L’inamorato A lieta viiita, Amor c’inviiita, Fa la la Chi gioir braaama,se di cor aaama, Donerà il cooore a un tal Signooore, Fa la la Or lieta homaaai, scacciando i guaaai, Fa la la Quanto ci reeesta, viviamo in feeesta E diam l’onooore a un tal Signooore, Fa la la Ne fuggir giooova, ch’egli ognun trooova, Fa la la Veloci ha l’aaali, e foco e straaali Dunque s’adooore un tal Signooore, Fa la la. Translation: To the happy life Love invites us. One who delights in desire, if he loves from the heart, Will give his heart to such a master. The hour of happines is

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here, driving out trouble. Whatever remains of our lives, we live it celebrating, Giving praise to such a master. Happiness is fleeting, as everybody finds. It is fast, and it has wings, fire and lightning bolts, So let’s give praise to such a master.


Now, this talk about a fun-loving, Italian ‘God of Love’ on the one hand and the stern religion of the Low Countries, on the other, does something to my brain. It reminds me of a calendar I once saw. It was similar to the (less than) inspiring calendars you find gracing the walls of some garages. Only in this calender the models remained dressed and were Italian men! The fascinating thing was that they were all Catholic Priests! For several years now, the Vatican has been issueing the ‘so-called’ Calendario Romano, also and popularly known as the “hot priest calendar”. All the models are genuine priests, photographed in the streets of Rome during the Holy Week. The Vatican insists that it is purely, I repeat PURELY intended to promote the city of Rome and the Vatican. To account for this, the line-up of extremely handsome young men ends with a few pages of insignificant morsels of historical information about the Vatican. Simpy turn to Google ‘priest calendar Rome’ and find out more. A lieta vita. Anke de Bruijn is a choir leader and vocal coach in the Cazals/ Gourdon region. She also organizes Singing Holidays for choristers from all over the world. www.ankevocal.com www.singingholidaysfrance.com

Présent dans le sud-ouest le temps de deux concerts, le compositeur argentin à la renommée internationale Martin PALMERI, sera lui-même au piano pour interpréter LA MISA TANGO en l’église ST Barthelemy le vendredi 8 Décembre à 20h30. Il sera accompagné par le quintet à cordes AD LIBITUM, formation d’amateurs et de professionnels de haut niveau et du bandonéoniste Jérémy BANNEREAU. La CHORALE DE CAHORS ainsi que la soliste Christelle GOUFFE complèteront cet ensemble placé sous la direction de Nathalie ACCAULT. Pour créer cette Messe Martin PALMERI a voulu utiliser les rythmes et les harmonies du Tango Nuevo tout en conservant la structure d’une messe traditionnelle : Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Bénédictus, Agnus Dei. Le bandonéon apporte une touche essentielle et inimitable à la composition. Le subtil mélange des voix entre le chœur et la soliste renforcent le caractère religieux de l’œuvre tout en lui donnant une ambiance joyeuse évocatrice de l’Amérique du Sud. La MISATANGO poursuit maintenant une carrière internationale puisqu’elle est interprétée dans le mon entier, de New York à Vienne et de Paris à Rabat en passant par la Pologne et les Pays-Bas. Martin PALMERI compte déjà dans le monde des compositeurs et il a reçu une médaille d’or pour ses compositions musicales. En première partie, AUTOUR DES QUATRE SAISONS de Martin PALMERI, composition orchestrale pour bandonéon quintette à cordes et piano, sera interprétée par le quintet AD LIBITUM avec Martin PALMERI au piano. Ce concert exceptionnel aura lieu le samedi 9 Décembre à 20h30 à Toulouse en l’église l’Eglise St Exupère située 6 rue Lamark 31400 Toulouse (chauffée pour l’occasion). Le prix des places est de 15e, gratuit pour les moins de 12 ans. Les billets sont en vente à l’office du tourisme, au Centre Culturel Leclerc et à l’entrée du concert.

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


New Year Concerts 2018 by the ORCHESTRE DU CENTRE PHILHARMONIQUE Director – Richard Beswick Soloist – Marie-Caroline Kfoury


he tradition of the New Year Concert in Vienna dates back to 1939. It was announced as an ‘Extraordinary Concert’, but has survived the test of time, never becoming ordinary! The tradition here in the South-West of France is rather less established, but for the fifth year in a row, the OCP, under the baton of its director Richard Beswick, will be giving New Year Concerts in the Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, and the Gers, and perhaps (not yet fixed) in Bergerac in the Dordogne. At the heart of these concerts are, as always, the amazing waltzes, polkas, and marches of in particular the great Johann Strauss the Younger, but also by other members of this prolific family, together with orchestral and lyric works by other composers – as is also the Viennese tradition. The salles in which we perform are perhaps less lavishly decorated than the Musikverein in Vienna, but the atmosphere is still electrifying, not only because of the sublime music, beautifully played, but due to the warmth of the public’s reception. We love performing this marvellous music – please come and share it with us.

Provisional dates and times of the concerts at the date of going to press are: 4 janvier : Verteuil, salle des fêtes, 20.30 5 janvier : Casteljaloux, salle de la Bartère, 20.30 6 janvier : Souillac, Palais des Congrès, 20.30 7 janvier : Prayssac, salle Maurice Faure, 15.00 19 janvier : Lauzun, 20.30 20 janvier : Pujols, salle du Palay, 16.00 21 janvier : Nogaro, salle d’animations, 16.00 Watch our website (http://www.ocp-verteuil.com) for changes and additional details, and look out for posters and flyer appearing during December. Please feel free to contact Martin Milnes on 06 79 83 51 04 or martin.milnes@nordnet.fr at any time for the latest info.

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local

SARL TOUBELMONT Your local professional contact with Environmental Warranties (Qualisol, Qualipac, Qualibois, Qualibat) A WELL-KNOWN LOCAL FIRM WITH A GREAT REPUTATION

SWIMMING POOLS Since 2004 TOUBELMONT has specialised in the quality design, construction and landscaping of swimming pools, spa and saunas. Supplying and fitting pool-liners, water-treatment equipment, automatic pool covers and heating solutions. We are happy to guide you to help you achieve your project, provide maintenance and an after-sales service. We offer you a professional, quality service with a ten-year guarantee. For more information or to make an appointment please contact us.

LANDSCAPING The creation and maintenance of landscaped areas. Including grass-cutting, turf laying (either real or synthetic).

BUILDING Restoration of stone buildings, including re-jointing. Drainage both new and renewal. Electrical and plumbing work either new or renewal. Heating: including renewable energy (Red Label), boilers, fuel, gas, wood, granules, heat pumps, air conditioning and solar.

Laveroque 82150 BELVEZE TĂŠl. 05 63 94 30 51- Port. 06 70 72 37 75 toubelmont.sarl@orange.fr www.sarl-toubelmont.fr


Herbs for Winter Hygge*


s the winter days turn cold, it’s comforting to make big steaming pots of hearty stew. You hopefully have a nice store of winter squashes and root vegetables, harvested from your pottager and tucked away in a dark cupboard, but what about fragrant herbs to add extra freshness and flavour? It’s lovely tripping along to your herb garden to pick big handfuls of chives, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme in the summer, but on a foggy, rainy day in winter, even the few yards from your door to a closeby kitchen garden can seem too far. With forward planning, you can dry your herbs throughout the summer, and you can freeze them too, but if you’d also like some tasty, fresh herbs for your warming winter broths, then you could create your own indoor herb garden. Of course, herbs grow best outside, in the ground. Fertile soil, enriched with regular applications of organic matter, provides the optimum environment, balancing good drainage and adequate water retention, and the plants thrive in full sun with high light levels. Growing plants in pots always involves a little extra work, and bringing the pots indoors adds a little more again. The trick, though, is to understand your plants’ requirements and then to meet those needs, and thus, with a bit of care and attention, you can nurture a beautiful garden in your wintery windowsill. Assuming you want something more ornamental than the standard plastic plant pots, your first task is to select suitable containers. While aesthetics are

Empress Wu

important, and you can choose your preferred material, terracotta, tin, plastic, ceramic etc., in whatever style and colour suits your style and decor, the crucial factor for a happy, healthy plant, is matching the size of the pot to the plant. Carefully lift each plant from their containers and observe their roots. If there’s still growing room, you can use an ornamental pot of a similar size. If a plant is pot bound (roots are cramped, filling up the entire pot) then you need to move up a pot size. If using a larger pot, it’s important to only increase the size slightly, to avoid overpotting. This stresses the plant, as too large a proportion of compost to roots results in excessive moisture around the root ball, reducing aeration and rendering your plant vulnerable to rot and soil-borne diseases. Symptoms of an overpotted plant are leaf discoloration (yellowing and browning), wilting, leaf loss and stunted growth. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often mistaken for lack of water, and the poor plant is then watered more! It’s especially important to avoid overpotting if you are repotting your plant after the growing season of spring and summer, as the reduced plant growth makes waterlogging even more of a problem. Pots should have good drainage with a suitable size and adequate number of holes in the bottom to allow for the escape of excess water. You can always drill extra holes to increase efficiency. One thing that latest research advises against, however, is crocking your pots. This goes against received wisdom, as we have been

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


advised for many years to line the bottom of our pots with stones and broken terracotta pots and crockery, which we were told encouraged water to pass through the compost and into the gaps in the coarse layer of crocs, out through the drainage holes. Soil scientists now advise though that rather than aiding drainage, crocking might actually hinder it. This is because water resists moving from finely textured material to coarser textures, so in spite of the gravitational pull downwards, the water resists crossing down from the finer layer, instead building up until saturation point (think of a sponge, taking in and retaining water until it is full, and only then releasing it). Equally important as choosing the right pot is choosing the right compost. For a gritty, well-drained potting compost that will yield good results, mix coarse grit or perlite into a loam based compost at a ratio of 25/75. Perlite is a porous volcanic material that aerates the soil, improving plant respiration, storing nutrients and moisture, while encouraging the drainage of excess water. To further enrich it, you can add a general-purpose fertiliser to encourage leafy growth, but avoid potassium-rich fertilisers, as they might encourage flowering, which is counterproductive to your culinary requirements. Prepare your plants by removing any dead or diseased leaves, and gently teasing out the roots. Fill your pots with your fresh compost, and plant your herbs, ensuring that the top of each root-ball is level with the surface of the compost. Firm the plants in and water them to settle any air pockets. Top up with compost if necessary, leaving approximately a one inch gap (depending on pot size) between the soil level and the top of the pot, to leave room for the water to soak in. Select your location. You need good light levels, ideally 6 - 8 hours of sun each day, so a south facing windowsill or counter is ideal. Be mindful of temperatures, however. Old Quercy stone houses can be drafty, and herbs tend to like temperatures between 15 - 21°C. For ongoing care, monitor moisture levels and water when necessary. Bear in mind that plants require less water during the winter, when weaker sunlight and colder temperatures result in less water loss through evaporation, and when plants require less water for cellular functions, as they are not in active growth. Soil dries out from the top first, so even when there is surface dryness, there may still be plenty of moisture in the lower depths of the soil. Well-developed root systems result in strong, healthy plants, and the best way to achieve this is by encouraging your plant to lay down roots into the depths of the pot in search of water. Therefore, be careful to not over water, and be sure to

let the soil dry out a little in between waterings. While there needs to be sufficient moisture, you don’t want the soil to be wet, aim for just slightly damp. Dip your finger a couple of inches into the soil, and when you find that it has dried out to a depth of approximately 2 inches (depending on the size of your pot) that’s when you should water. There is no need to feed plants during the winter months. It us useful, though, to rotate them occasionally, to achieve even exposure to sunlight and avoid them stretching towards the sun. Most herbs are suitable for container cultivation, so choose your kitchen favourites. Ones to consider are: basil (Ocimum basilicum), bay (Laurus nobilis), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), marjoram (Origanum vulgare), mint (Mentha spp.), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), sage (Salvia officinalis), French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). If you lament the end of summer each year and need to bolster yourself through the short but harsh Midi Pyrénées winters, then a pretty, fragrant mini herb garden could be just the thing. There’s something lovely about donning a chunky knit jumper and woolly socks and cosying up in front of a roaring fire with a hot mug of soup, but who wants to have to dash out into the soggy, damp garden to fetch the herbs? It’s not very Hygge* to have rain trickling down the back of your neck, so bring your garden inside! *hygge, is a Danish words meaning the ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures

John and Debbie (Le Jardin des Espiemonts) lejardindesespiemonts@gmail.com 05 63 64 68 76

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


CJL Organisers

Club de Jardinage de Lauzerte Celebrates “The Bug”

CJL Mascot - Winston

2017 Garden Show / Portes Ouvertes

Maison de Retraite Sensory Garden


Once again, the photographs say it all! Many thanks to friends of the club: Lauzerte Mairie, Lauzerte Primary School, and Lauzerte Maison de Retraite; to Madame Joséphine Chambon for opening the event; to all of the artisans, stallholders and judges; and to all our visitors who braved the rain – you know who you are!

Stallholder Stallholder

Our 2018 programme of events is growing fast and will be published in the next edition of The Quercy Local. A sneak peek reveals: a Q&A session; presentations on straw bale gardening, fungi, roses, pond habitat for wildlife and wildlife in our gardens; plant swaps; and our summer garden visits to name but a few. We are also planning our much-anticipated annual trip away and it is thought we might head for Chantilly in May. If you’d like to come along for next year’s ride, do contact our secretary Pam Westcott who will be delighted to hear from you. Tel: 05 63 94 19 25 or secretary@cjl82.fr Stallholder

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Squash competition! Garden produce competition

Tea time

PAYSAGES-BEAUVILLOIS Prizewinners Little lady bird

Bob, van Leeuwe Siret. 823 903 117 00013

Gardening, landscaping, tree felling & logging Entretien spaces verts et abattage bucheronnage

Paysages-beauvillois@outlook.fr Tel: 06 89 27 30 96 ‘Les-2-Lacs’, Beauville, 47470

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For – Grass Cutting, Strimming, Hedge /Tree Trimming, Log Cutting/Splitting, Power Washing, Window Cleaning, Painting/Sanding/Varnishing (Doors, Windows & Shutters). Pool and Gutter cleaning, General Maintenance and Labouring, Routine Property Checks, Airport Transfers & Pet/House Sitting Reasonable rates – please email Mark Walsh on: walshy8@hotmail.com M.W Garden Services & Residential Property Maintenance (47370) Siret 832 290 027 00016

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


La Vida Verda Pépinière Lauzerte has a new tree and plant nursery which is now stocked with trees, shrubs, hedging plants, conifers, perennials, grasses, climbers and rockery plants as well as selected fruit trees.

This new venture is the result of the hard work of Adrianus (Boy) Jochems and Patricia Mouton. Boy was born in the Netherlands (actually in Zundert – the center of Arboriculture) and has been growing plants for 15 years. His real passion is for collecting rare trees and shrubs. Patricia was born in Sint Niklaas in Belgium, she is a graduate of business psychology and interior design and her passion is collecting exotic plants. Boy and Patricia speak French, English and Dutch and are happy to help with advice and to discuss your gardening dilemmas. Whether you want to find a consider a complete garden plant package (their specialty), a gift, or simply to pick up a few bits and pieces to either start or complete your own garden then do pop along to see them both. You are welcome to go along and browse.

Opening hours - Monday to Saturday 8:30h-12:30h and 14:00h-18:00h

Boy and Patricia hope to see you soon!

La Vida Verda SARL, Lieu-dit Côte de Guillotes, 82110 Lauzerte 06 88 87 34 08 info@lavidaverda.com www.lavidaverda.com La Vida Verda


Siret: 514 571 157 000 15

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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Chocolate,Pear & Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate, Pear & Hazelnut Tart Ingredients For the pastry:

For the filling:

• 250g plain flour • 70g icing sugar • 125g soft unsalted butter • 1 egg

• 190g dark chocolate • 90g butter • 60g ground hazelnuts • 60g ground almonds • 120g caster sugar • 3 eggs • 2 pears You will need: • 24cm greased tart case

Method To make the pastry: In a bowl, mix together the flour and icing sugar. Add the softened butter and rub between your fingers until it’s like fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and stir together until combined and a dough is formed. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a size just bigger than the tart case. Using a rolling pin to help pick up the pastry, line the tart case. Place in the fridge to rest.

To make the filling: While the pastry is resting in the fridge, make the filling. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and gently heat until melted being careful not to get water into the chocolate. In a separate bowl mix the ground hazelnuts and ground almonds. Add the sugar and eggs then mix well. Pour in the melted chocolate and butter and combine well. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and pour in the filling mixture. Peel and core the two pears and cut into slices lengthways. Arrange the pear slices on the filling, pressing down slightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is cooked through. Serve when slightly cooled with crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

Le Caillau: Nestled in the heart of the Cahors vineyards you’ll find Le Caillau, a family run Restaurant, Café and Pottery Painting Atelier. In 2011, Caroline and Chas Sharp opened the doors of Le Caillau, a renovated 300 year old winery. Our aim is simple - to produce great quality, simple and tasty food. In our restaurant kitchen our small team creates dishes based on vegetables from our own kitchen garden and local seasonal produce, (with some more exotic ingredients thrown in for variety and a different flavour from traditional Quercy cuisine). Our Café and Pottery Painting Atelier is perfect for an afternoon getaway, whether you’re after a coffee and slice of homemade cake (lemon drizzle and coffee and walnut are some of our customers’ favourites), or you’re feeling artistic and decide to get creative by painting some pottery. Restaurant opening hours December 2017 Sunday & Monday: Lunch ~ Tuesday: Closed ~ Wednesday - Saturday: Lunch & dinner Lunch is served between 12pm - 2.30pm and dinner from 7pm For January, February and Christmas opening hours, please check the website. Le Caillau, 46700 Vire sur Lot. Telephone: 05 65 23 78 04 www.lecaillau.com facebook.com/lecaillau twitter.com/lecaillau Instagram.com/lecaillau Don’t forget to mention The Quercy Local when calling advertisers The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Well it’s nearly that time of year again (and if you really do need an excuse) that time when you’re almost duty bound to get out there and buy something sweet and preferably chocolatey!


e know chocolate is beneficial, it makes us feel good, it’s an energiser and most importantly of all, it tastes great. So whether you’re after a selection of hand-made chocolates bought as a special gift or simply to enjoy at home (shared or otherwise). With dark-evenings, cold nights and roaring fires, quite-honestly a chocolatey treat is totally justified. Or, perhaps you want the joy of a stunning dessert, something very special to finish off a celebration, a family lunch or (and let’s face it’s quite possible) to keep for yourself, curl up on the sofa and devour, portion by portion. Assuming you aren’t a potential candidate for The Great British Bake-Off, then you need to find yourself a very clever professional, one with chocolate-goodness running through his veins. So this is where Valérie (from our office) drew the short straw and nobly went to meet some chocolatemakers, looking for inspiration. She’d set her sights on two real ‘princes of sweetness’. Benoît Dannacher, a chocolatier in Montayral (Lot et Garonne), and JeanClaude Mecoen, from Moissac (Tarn et Garonne).

Bénédicte & Benoit, Choc Ô Lot


irstly to Montayral. If you’ve travelled past Montayral you may have noticed CHOC Ô LOT set back from the main road. After her visit Valérie’s advice is that, next time you’re passing – don’t pass – call in. The shop is open all year and as well as offering a wonderful array of chocolates, there are cakes, a tea room and in suitable weather a pretty outdoor terrace – and for when it’s very hot some wonderful, artisan-made, ice-creams. CHOC Ô LOT is the culmination of nearly a life’s work by Benoît Dannacher who grew up in nearby Fumel where his parents ran a patisserie shop. After a brief time as a draughtsman he returned to where he could fully use his creativity. He trained as a pastry chef and worked all over France perfecting his art. Then he returned to the Lot et Garonne to take over his parents’ shop. However, the dream was to combine chocolate and patisserie and so the idea was born, the premises located and with the support of his wife, Odile, and the now very popular CHOC Ô LOT was born.

Benoit explained that the secret to his quality chocolate is his cocoa. Benoît chooses an aromatic cocoa bean, produced ethically from within the world’s ‘cocoa belt’ which runs either side of the Equator. When these beans are sequentially roasted they release the strongest aromas and it’s this combined with Benoit’s expertise that produce a divine, mouthwatering result. Among the treats you can find here are cocoa-beans coated with chocolate (simply divine!), Home-made pralines, Séchouan pepper ganache, semi-cooked prunes (chocolate covered of course!) as well as many other tasty morsels. Combining local products, such as the prunes, is important to Benoît who also uses hazelnuts from Monflanquin. Clearly Valérie is suffering during her visit!

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local

THE QUERCY LOCAL • 23 Jean-Paul, Jean-Claude & Pierre, La Maison Mecoen

New recipes! They’re always being developed including, some delicious spreads such as caramel, lemon and almond (something for absolutely everyone). Benoît’s own creativity knows no bounds, he’s constantly experimenting, but he and Odile also encourage their colleague Bénédicte to do just the same, making this quite the best place to visit for treats. Tuesday is gourmand day – see if you can resist.


ow to Moissac and La Maison Mecoen. It’s an institution! There cannot be many people in-and-around Moissasc that haven’t had at least one treat from one of the Mecoen shops. It’s virtually impossible to go into their shops without weakening and leaving with one. For six generations, the Mecoen family have been sweetening the world around them. Currently, it is Jean-Claude’s turn and he has not let the tradition slip. This profession is in his blood, he’s been fascinated by the world of patisserie since he was ten years old.

A little history! France owes the arrival of chocolate within its borders to Louis XIV. There had been some previous smuggling, over the Pyrenees, of this beguiling but little understood commodity. But, it was not until the King’s marriage in 1660 to the Spanish Princes, Maria Theresa, that Louis XIV was given the authorisation, by the Spanish King, to use cocoabeans to produce chocolate. This new delight soon became a favourite at the French Court. The wedding took place in Saint-Jean de Luz and this signalled the arrival of many a chocolatier to the Basque Coast. The nearby port of Bayonne soon became the capital of chocolate, receiving the beans and producing chocolate for the rest of France.

In 1995, after he and his wife had been running a patisserie shop in Montauban, Jean-Claude returned to Moissac to take over his parent’s patisserie shop on rue Jean Moura. At this time a second family shop was opened, this time a boulangerie on Bd Camille Delthil a shop that, anyone living locally knows, is always busy! In 2003 a tea room was opened close to the Abbey. A simply adorable place, to linger, relax and of course sample the many delights. This little haven was

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


designed by Jean-Claude’s sister, Marie-Christine and is run by his daughter Christelle. Then working back at La Maison Mecoen there’s Pierre, Jean-Claude’s son and manager and their pastry-chef Jean-Paul. This team are advancing and experimenting to create further delights. Jean-Claude really knows the meaning of running a family-business. The window of La Maison Mecoen’s offers so many temptations, amongst them the rejuvenating, orangecakes to tempt weary pilgrims passing on Les Chemins de Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Then there are traditional breads made with local cereals, indeed,

most ingredients are sourced locally and sustainably. If you haven’t visited this stylish, antique filled little shop – please put it on your to-do list. But it’s the chocolate we’re after and the Mecoen chocolate specialities do not fail to delight with among others a ‘three-chocolate cake’, a ‘chocolate-crème brûlée’ cake, a ‘chocolate-banana cake’, and the very special ‘chocolate Ancones’ which are named after a cocoa-bean (the ‘Premier Crû’ bean harvested from the plantation’s first growth in Santo Domingo) and which brings together the heady mix of chocolate, raspberry purée and nuts! I think we need say no more! Now, back to looking forward to Christmas, Mecoen’s are preparing at least three special Christmas logs including, a ‘three-chocolate’ one, a ‘chocolate and raspberry’ one and a mysterious ‘orange-chocolate’ log where the delicious chocolate will be trapped inside an orange purée. It’s was a tough job Valérie; but someone had to do it! Maybe sometimes we overthink things, maybe we get carried away seeking gifts that are original, unique, stylish even clever when really Christmas is about sharing beautiful bounty – where better to start than in one of these two ‘sweet’ places. Enjoy some real, hand-made exquisiteness! Visited by Valérie Rousseau

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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


La Troupe D’Acteurs Du Quercy “Return to Talbot Manor”


n September Montaigu de Quercy’s Salle de Fêtes was turned into a creepy country house somewhere on Dartmoor and the audience were involved in the action, as a coach party, stranded in a life-threatening thunderstorm. The evening involved a short scene setting leading up to the murder of Liberty Talbot, the American (inherited) owner of Talbot Manor. The audience, in teams of 6, had to unravel the rather complicated plot, with numerous red herrings to identify the murderer, the motive and how the murder had been committed. The actors performed in the ‘round’ with well-drawn characters and they remained in character – even under a barrage of questions from the audience teams. The questions led to some good improvisation from the cast, as they had no way of knowing in advance what the audience would ask them. Initially this caused a lot of nerves but they really got into the improvisation and it was very well done. The fun of the evening was that the audience were involved in the action and the questions they asked led to some hilarious situations. The maid Ruby came in for a battering. Her character was rather hysterical, so all

questions made her more and more excitable, at one point she was offered a tranquilliser by another cast member- Truscott. She then ‘choked’ on the large pill and Truscott had to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre to save her- all unscripted and unrehearsed – it brought the house down. Two minutes later, the maid left the Salle de Fêtes overcome by the level of questioning. All the actors gave good performances and the audiences really enjoyed themselves. Learning acting skills is difficult and all the cast benefitted from the informal setting to become more confident and comfortable with an audience. The lighting and sound effects added to this. Our Technicians going overboard (to great effect) on thunder and lightning every time the ‘West Wing’ was mentioned. The Saturday was a sell out and the meal provided by Troupe member Viv Woffinden was excellent as always. The troupe is always grateful for all the help it gets from front of house, catering, backstage and of course all those involved with staging the play, as well as Montaigu Commune for their continuing support. Next production – Montaigu’s annual bilingual Pantomime “Babes in the Wood” directed by Tony Wade. In this version of the classic tale, the evil uncle tries to get rid of the babes but his plans are thwarted by the appearance of Robin Hood and his Merry Men (and woman). Lots of singing, dancing, Behind You’s and Oh no it isn’t! Guaranteed family fun. Put the dates in your diary: Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th January 2018. If you want to help with the production in any capacity, back stage, front of house Technical (sound, light, set design, props, costumes) or acting, directing, music or dance. Contact us or come to our rehearsals at the Salle de Fête in Montaigu de Quercy any Monday or Thursday evenings, 7.30pm until 9.30pm. We are always pleased to see new faces. Contact: latroupeboxoffice@gmail. com www.la-troupe.org Tel: 05 63 05 18 99

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


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Siret No 48495504200011 Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


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Maartje Schlepers has lived in the Lot since April 2014 and is happy to answer your insurance related questions.

Q. Are there things that French insurers require us to do during winter and especially if we leave our house empty over the winter period? A. Every year, a number of claims occur due to low temperatures and weather-related events. Frost can easily lead to severe water damage when pipes fracture and water escapes into the house causing (amongst other things) wooden parquets floors to be ruined, walls and ceilings to become damp, house-hold contents to spoil and in the worst-case scenario – electrical problems causing damage to equipment and even fire. To avoid winter damage to your property, you are strongly recommended not to leave your premises unheated, especially if it’s not occupied for long periods. Another good preventive measure is to drain down the heating system entirely and/or add antifreeze to the system, sanitary appliances and water pipes – reducing the risk of damage. Many insurance companies also request that the main-water supply is turned off when you leave the property for a number of days. This may vary from one company to another so do check your insurance policy’s general conditions. But there is more to consider. If you are away during winter and you didn’t turn off the main-water supply and a problem ensues, then your water supplier might surprise you with an enormous bill for water. This expense is not generally covered on a household policy. It’s therefore important to know the requirements and conditions set by your insurance company to allow you to take preventive measures to avoid damage and unpleasant financial surprises. Requirements may vary slightly so please check your own policy wording. If you fail to take preventive measures, many insurance companies will apply penalties to a claim. Other seasonal acts of nature such as a big storms or

lightning strikes can also lead to property damage. But it’s more difficult to take preventive measures apart from unplugging electrical appliances, fastening away outdoor furniture and anything that could be blown about, securing windows, doors and shutters and then waiting until it’s all over. If your property is damaged in a storm you should know that ‘storm damage’ only applies if the winds exceed 100 km/hour. The local weather stations or your Mairie can generally provide you with this confirmation. It’s therefore, important to make sure that trees, especially those surrounding your property (and your neighbours’ property) are well managed and in good condition. A collapsing tree may cause great damage and if the wind speed did not exceed 100 km/hour there is no insurance cover applicable. If your tree goes through your neighbour’s roof (at less than 100 km/ hour) you will have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket. And lastly and divergent to the cold-issue of frost and freezing there’s another increased risk in winter time – fire damage! As a matter of prevention and protection most insurance companies oblige people to have their chimneys swept at least once or twice a year and at least once during the heating season. It is important to have this done by a professional chimney sweeper and then you can safely sit back and relax with a nice glass of wine and watch the flames of your log fire. Maartje Schlepers, Assurances Benoit, La Plégade, 46150 Pontcirq, Tel Office 0972468223 (Mon to Thurs) Email: expat@agence.generali.fr Orias 07005354 - 15005887

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Peddling, Picnics & Perhaps a Pyrenean Bear Hunt When you live in this region of France it’s easy to think you don’t need a holiday. We are, after all, already there! However, everyone needs a break – even from somewhere as lovely as the Quercy.

Saint Lary Soulan


eriodically, we try to sneak-a-peek at places that are easy to visit from here. No queuing at airports, no travel insurance, no luggage limits, simply pick your moment and go. Importantly, for us, if we’re going to visit, we need places that welcome Mimi, the smallest, hairiest and four-legged member of the family. With all this in mind we headed, at the end of September, to the Pyrenees (determined to find a bear) we put all we’d need in the back of the car and set off south. On a clear-day the Pyrenees can be admired from many a Quercy garden, they can look very close. No motorways, just a straight run down through the rolling Gascony countryside, through Auch and on to our destination, Saint Lary Soulan 65170. Three hours door-to-door and with plenty of places for lunch along the way. Saint Lary’s surrounded by stunning scenery, it’s easy to access and just large enough to offer a few places to eat and drink and with plenty of accommodation (without any notions of grandeur) for the outdoor-loving visitors it attracts. We discovered people from all-overthe-world, crossing in both place and time, in this pretty village.

We stayed centrally, at a hotel called Les Arches (www.hotel-les-arches.com) which was a great base, friendly, clean, comfortable and with easy parking. The lovely breakfasts were greatly appreciated (especially by Mimi who is partial to a little ham and cheese to start her day). The attraction for Robert was the cycling – he loves to pit himself against mountain passes and on this trip he enjoyed three, the Cols de Louron-Azet and d’Aspin and the Hourquette d’Ancizan. Staying in the heart of the village and cycling from the hotel each morning worked well. An early attack on the mountains meant he could be back before lunch and then we’d time to explore on four-wheels rather than two, a lot safer for bear hunting! The small (but quite impressive) supermarket was clearly designed for people looking for ‘food on the go’ and we found great picnic provisions there. Three ‘exploring routes’ we’d recommend are. Firstly, the route up to the pretty little village of Aulon high in the Vallée du Lavedan. It was lambing time and so the hillside meadows were full of lambs enjoying the sun on their backs. The architecture in these valleys is defensive and prepared for heavy winter snow. The

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


roads are narrow and the hairpin-bends sharp. Once in Aulon there’s a wonderful small restaurant called Auberge les Arylelets (www. auberge-les-aryelets. pas.nu). We ate on the small hillside terrace and the great food was presented with real style. It would be hard to imagine a more peaceful and idyllic location. Word of advice – do book – it is a long way to go to be disappointed and there are no places available for a plan B! Secondly, we’d recommend travelling through the Vallée d’Aure to the Réserve Naturelle du Néouvelle. A long, winding road with huge mountains looming in all directions. You do wonder how a road is going to continue through all these steep slopes and lofty summits. The Réserve houses lakes; crystal clear, cold and absolutely stunning. These lakes form part of an impressive hydro-electric system run by EDF; which leave the landscape unharmed and the region beautifully managed. Huge dams stand silently and all life above and below thrives from this thoughtful meeting of man and nature. Along the road up to the Réserve, settled in grassy paddocks stand old shepherds’ huts. These are often converted for modern-day visitors but appeared empty, shuttered and incredibly idyllic. We picnicked

by a stream, reminding me of being in the Yorkshire Dales as a child. Peace, perfect peace, no obvious sign of human-life, wild flowers enjoying a late flurry fed by the season’s kindness and running-water the clearest you can imagine. However, no-matter-what any Yorkshireman tells you, the Dales don’t offer the sort of upward view of mountain peaks and that sense of scale that makes you feel really very insignificant. I tried and watched along the forest edges but I never saw a bear. Word of advice – take some camping chairs the landscape is stunning but hard! Then thirdly, there’s The Rioumajou Valley, accessed from a narrow road very close to the village. This is a real must for walkers and nature lovers. Again there’s discreet and interesting work to harness the power of the often abundant (and I guess occasionally dramatic) water flow. This trail has long since been a route for shepherds and their flocks, a pilgrim route to Spain and a home for chamois goats, golden eagles and bearded vultures. It’s possible to get quite a long way up the route by car and then park easily to enjoy the wonderful surroundings, flowing stream, picnic tables and then pick from of a selection of different hiking routes to allow you to continue into the wild and enjoy all it has to offer. Maybe even the odd bear! Word of advice – take your camera – you will not want to forget. Each afternoon we skilfully avoided cows, with large horns and eerie sounding bells, wandering on mountain roads. We’d return to the village for a ‘glass of wine’ and a fondue supper. We never worked out why the evening recital, broadcast to the village, of ‘tunes played on cow bells’ included in its repertoire Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, I’ve tried to find its link to the Pyrenees but failed. We must go back and maybe find out more and maybe find a bear. A Atkinson

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


So we didn’t find a bear on our trip to the mountains but we’ve read about them and we’re ready for next time!



rown bears had been prevalent in the Pyrenees (and the rest of Europe and Asia) for more than 600,000 years until the 20th century. In the 1900s, some 150 bears roamed the habitat in the Pyrenees. By the 1940s, they were France’s last remaining bear population. The scientific name for the brown bear in the Pyrenees is Ursus Arctos. Bear hunting and the desire (and need) to protect farming livestock sounded the death knell for this native bear population. By 1954 just 70 were dispersed across two main habitats in the west (Pyrenees Atlantiques and Hautes Pyrenees) and in the centre around Arieges and in the south of Haute Garonne. It took until the 1970s before the campaign started against the inevitable extinction of brown bears from the Pyrenees. The French Government finally introduced a plan to protect the Pyrenean Bear in the 1980s, but it was too little too late. The last Pyrenean Bear disappeared from the central Pyrenees in the early 1990s, leaving just 7 Pyrenean Bears in the west of the mountain range. The number was no longer enough to sustain the native Pyrenean Bear by itself. Local campaigners and the French Government swung into action. With financial aid and support from the European Union, they introduced a programme to protect and stimulate the Pyrenean Bear population. Three brown bears of the same species as the native Pyrenean Bear were captured in Slovenia and released in the Pyrenees. Initially, they adapted well to the Pyrenean habitat and several bear cubs were born. However, the population would not flourish as hoped. The bears were spread too few and far between. There weren’t enough female bears. And the risk of degeneration was too great. So, in 2005, the French Government redoubled its conservation efforts. Within the year, four new female bears and one male, again from Slovenia, were released into the Pyrenees. There are now some 20 bears roaming the Pyrenees, with conservationists keeping a watchful eye on the population. Some 150 people are now employed in the conservation of the Pyrenean Bear population.

Although the conservation effort was taken forward with a groundswell of support from local environmental activists, the programme was not entirely without opposition. Many anti-bear campaigners resisted the move to re-establish the Pyrenean bear, erecting “Non a l’Ours!” banners across the region, largely in farming areas.

Bear habits and habitats Bears have an expansive range. Female bears will roam across some 100 square kilometres, while male bears will roam between 500 and 1,000 square kilometres. They will traverse forests, valleys and mountain peaks to find food, shelter, breeding ground and perfect spots to hibernate. The bear goes into hibernation in November and emerges from its den in March, although it will emerge from its den during hibernation to catch some rays or top up on its reserves if there’s food about. The bear prefers to hibernate in rocky caves. While the bear’s diet is 70 per cent herbivorous, the bear is an omnivore and it will eat what it can find easily as and when it finds it. Its diet is as varied as the habitat and time of year dictates; and includes everything from raspberries, blackberries and grass to insects, and wild and domestic animals – dead or alive.

Living alongside the bear With the bear population being re-established, preserved and protected, farmers and local people are

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


taking measures to ensure man and bear kind can live side by side. There are some 621,300 sheep living on the Pyrenean pastures during the summer and between 10,000 and 20,000 of those are lost each year. Around 300 of those are lost to bear attacks. As part of the package of measures introduced by the French Government to protect the native bear population, without disrupting the way of life in the Pyrenees sheep farmers are compensated for any loss to their flock as a result of bear attacks. Measures have also been taken to minimise the potential for attack on flocks when out to pasture; these include ensuring a Shepherd provides constant surveillance over a flock, Patou dogs being used to protect the sheep and electric fences being used wherever possible. These measures not only protect against the bear but against fox and loose dogs too. Protecting the culture of sheep farming in the mountains has been a major priority for the government, not only because of the importance of meat, milk and cheese production but also for the importance of its employment to the mountain economy. Sheep farming is also an important part of maintaining the mountain landscape. Vital statistics: How to recognise a Pyrenean Bear Yes, we know, it’s the only bear in the Pyrenees. This aside, in the extremely rare event that you come across a bear while on your travels and adventures, the brown bear almost always roams alone and usually at night. Generally seen on all fours, the bear holds its head down, it has furry, rounded ears and a hump on the back around the shoulders. The Pyrenean brown bear measures between 1.70m and 2m standing and between 0.80m and 1.1m on all fours. The difference in weight between male and female is considerable with a male bear weighing it at 300kg, while a female weighs in at just 90kg. If you do spot a bear during the daytime, its colour can range from beige to dark brown. The Pyrenean Brown Bear can live for up to 25 years in the wild habitat.

Bear tracks & other bear signs A bear print has five pads & claws. The front paw print will be short and wide (the traces of its pads and claws are usually quite faint). The back paw print is longer and thinner. It will resemble a human footprint, because like humans, the bear walks on the flat of its foot. Keep an eye out for clumps of fur on hedges, bushes and trees; and for upturned rocks, under which the bear is looking for insects and other grub.

What to do if you spot a bear While the Pyrenean bear shares the same domain as people, the bear will do all it can to avoid human

contact. The bear has good eyesight, excellent hearing and sense of smell. It will hear or smell you before it spots you and will look to avoid crossing paths with you. However, as with all large wild animals, if taken by surprise it can pose a threat to you. So, to avoid a surprise encounter, follow this advice: • Never attempt to come into close contact (less than 50m) with a bear • Never follow the bear tracks if you come across them. • Keep all dogs close by. If left to roam, they could take a bear by surprise and the bear’s instinct will be to attack the dog (and you if you put yourself in the middle of it). • In the unlikely event that you do cross paths with a bear in its habitat in the Pyrenees: • Calmly make your presence known by moving or talking calmly, slowly and quietly • Slowly distance yourself from the bear, avoiding the path the bear is most likely to take in his flight from the encounter • Never, ever run The bear may rise onto its hind paws. This is not an act of aggression. He is curious and is seeking to identify the smells to understand what potential danger is around him/her.

The Pyrenean Bear’s reproductive cycle The Pyrenean bear will start reproducing at the age of 4 and usually mates between May and June. The female will give birth to up to 3 bears the following winter. She looks after them for 18 months before leaving them to their own devices. A bear cub weighs just 300g at birth and remains extremely vulnerable, with one in two bears not making it beyond their first 12 months.

The bear: an integral part of the Pyrenean consciousness Although the bear is a solitary creature and is afraid of humans, the Pyrenean bear is part of local legend and consciousness. The bear is found in local literature, fairy tales, myths and stories, as well as being a regular part of village festivities and souvenir shops. The Pyrenean Bear is often commemorated in local architecture and landscaping, with statues and sculptures marking the significance of the bear population. Many geographic areas and features are named after the bear, recognising the bear’s historical paths across the Pyrenees (Pas De L’Ours, Coumeille de l’Ours, Tute de l’Ours, etc). From an article by Cristina Chapman. Christina has a house that can be rented in the Pyrenees. www.skiwalkcyclepyrenees.com

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Anglican Chaplaincy of Midi-Pyrénées & Aude Update from the Cahors Congregation

For detailed information visit our website: www.churchinmidipa.org All services are held at Centre Paroissial, 75 av J Lurçat, Terre Rouge, 46000 Cahors Advent & Christmas “But the angel said to them, do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) Advent Sunday Terre Rouge, December 3 at 10am – This day marks the beginning of the Church Year. Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Nine Lessons & Carols services this year will be in Cahors, Castelfranc and Bétaille as well as a bi-lingual Ecumenical service where all the churches get together. These services have readings and carols in French and English. Refreshments after the service include mulled wine, mince pies and many other seasonal delights. Bétaille, Eglise St Georges – Sunday 3 Dec@ 15.30pm Castelfranc, Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption – Friday 8 Dec @ 19.00pm Ecumenical service – Sacré Coeur, Cahors – Sun 10 Dec @ 15.00pm Cahors Terre Rouge – Sun 17 Dec @ 10.00pm Christmas Eve – Terre Rouge, Dec 24 at 10am – This is a Holy Communion Service. Christmas Day – Terre Rouge, Dec 25 at 10am – This is a Holy Communion service, the Revd June Hutchinson will preside at both services. The Twelve Days of Christmas and Epiphany – December 25 to January 6 This period is called Christmastide or the Twelve Days of Christmas. Epiphany, meaning an ap-pearance, a showing forth, is the season when Jesus Christ is shown to be the light of the world. Epiphany symbolises the universality of God’s love, the universality of Christ’s saving mission: He is not just for the good, the faithful, the believers; He is for all people, for the sinners, the wicked, the unbelievers. In UK it is the time to take down all the Christmas decorations for another year. In past times Epiphany used to be marked by a candlelight feast and drinking of a medieval wassail called Lamb’s Wool. Three Kings Cake was eaten in honour of the three kings, one slice being set aside “for God”. In France it is time to eat Galette du Roi with a decorated bean hidden in it. The person who gets the slice with the bean or fève in it is the King or Queen of the day and gets to choose a consort. To mark Epiphany, there will be a service at Terre Rouge at 10am on Jan 6, 2018. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – January 18-25, 2018 “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power” (Exodus 15:6) During this week, situated between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Christians come together to pray for their unity, and congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services.

The theme for the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, ‘Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power’, is taken from the book of Exodus 15:6. The resources for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the churches of the Caribbean by an ecumenical team of women and men under the leadership of His Grace Kenneth Richards, Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, the Antilles Episcopal Conference, together with Mr. Gerard Granado, General Secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches. For the song after the proclamation of the Word, the Caribbean writing group suggests the hymn The Right Hand of God. Reflecting the song of Miriam and Moses in praise of the liberating action of God in the Book of Exodus, it is associated with the ecumenical movement in the Caribbean, as the Churches work together to overcome the social chal-lenges facing the people of the region. An Ecumenical Service for Christian Unity will be held on January 19, 2018 at 18h30 in Sacré Coeur, Cahors. Candlemas – Terre Rouge, Jan 28 at 10h – commemorating the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of her son Jesus. It also marks the ritual presentation of baby Jesus to God in the Temple at Jerusalem. This is also the day when all the Church’s candles for the year are blessed. Each time there are five Sundays in a month – four times a year – there is an evening service at 3pm at Terre Rouge in addition to the morning service at 10am. This quarter, the Morning Prayer will be replaced by a Holy Communion service. Shrove Tuesday – February 13 It is the first Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and it officially ends the season of Epiphany and is the vigil for starting of the Lent. The name is derived from the word “shrive”, which means to con-fess and receive absolution. The English tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs as possible before Ash Wednesday began. In France, the consumption of all fats and fatty foods on this day coined the name “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras. (No service). Ash Wednesday – February 14 Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar open-ing Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’. This years’ service will be at 11h in Mauroux church followed by Lenten lunch of soup and cheese at the Salle de Fêtes. Women’s World Day of Prayer Friday, March 2 This is a global ecumenical movement led by Christian women who welcome you to join in prayer and action for peace and justice. You may also wish to join us on March 2 at 18h30 at Terre Rouge for the 2017 worship celebration service written this year by the Christian women of Suriname and the subject is caring for God’s very good creation - an extremely relevant topic now as the sea lev-els are rising and fish are being poisoned either by chemicals in rivers or plastic micro particles in the sea.

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local

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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


AS THE SONG SAID. “IT STARTED WITH A KISS...” Then there is medical news and then there is no medical news. ...and ends with a sneeze!


er enigmatic smile is known to millions around the world and she has been kissed millions of times. This is the face behind First Aid mannequin ‘Resus Annie’. However, behind her peaceful expression lies a story shrouded in rumours of tragedy. For the beautiful face used as a model for medical workers learning how to give the ‘kiss of life’ is also known as ‘L’inconnue de la Seine’ or ‘the unknown woman from the Seine’. According to popular myth, at the end of the 19th century a young girl’s lifeless body was pulled from Paris’s Quai du Louvre, or as it is called now the Quai Francois Mitterrand. It was presumed she had committed suicide as there was no sign of violence promoting stories suggesting it was a case of unrequited love that prompted her death. No one came forward to identify her so a plaster mask of her face was made that actually hung outside a shop. Her delicate beauty became popular with artists and writers who fabricated stories about the cause of her suicide. In time her face became the object of other masks and ornamental curios. Generations later she was still inspiring those fascinated by her mysterious story and a practical and life-saving use was found for her fair visage. Laerda Medical, a company who are pioneers in making resuscitation aids out of soft plastic, produced their ‘Rescue Annie’...and finally she received as many kisses as any young woman would wish for. So a kiss can take your breath away and be as good for you as a glass of wine ...perhaps? However, a study that was recently published showed that four glasses of wine a week improves your memory followed by another study suggesting a single glass of wine raises the risk factor of breast cancer. So should we take health advice with a shrug and wait for the next study to be published. Neither study contradicts the other, they merely paint a wider picture. It seems that hardly a period goes by without apparently conflicting health advice, for example Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Even now this is treated with caution by a certain generation of family physicians, who prefer (sometimes) to experiment with natural remedies. But new research from Harvard University suggests that women can avoid all the troublesome symptoms because HRT will not hasten their deaths after all.

Alcohol consumption itself may also be due a review. Drinking in pregnancy, which many Doctors thought of as a crime only a month ago, now appears to be acceptable in moderation and may also lower the risk of diabetes. The report’s author Professor Jayne Tolstrup of the University of Southern Denmark warned “I have been asked whether I should recommend drink. Of course not. Alcohol is connected to more than 50 conditions and diseases. If you want to make any recommendations, you should look at everything”. I agree with her. Most scientists see every new piece of research in the context of what has gone on before it. If we are to make well informed decisions about our life style and eating habits we need to do the same. That means ignoring black and white reporting of alleged breakthroughs in the more excitable parts of the media. Also try to remember your body needs a balance and moderation. Do not veer from one quick fix to another, or one food trend to the next throwing out all the traditions along the way. Public health is like private health, novelty diets and faddy remedies do not work for long. Common sense and regular exercise usually do. Yes, we can be forgiven for seeing the fickleness of science, with advice blowing one way and then another, but scientists see this as an essential part of the process. Wider studies need to be considered and this broad approach is the key rather than focusing on one report. In line with this broader approach and in these days of supposed ‘fake news’ I am constantly reminded of articles in the press which announce another breakthrough in cancer treatment yet with no apparent change in survival rates for some cancers. On further reading of these papers in the peer reviewed journals you see that what is reported is that new drugs certainly seem to make changes to the biological

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


makeup of cancer cells. However, these do not necessarily translate as being of benefit to the patient. Also, we seem to add increasingly to the list of cancers being demonstrated in patients but again with no apparent changes to the survival rate. This is mainly because we have now become more skilled in diagnosing cancerous cell changes in patients which will never develop into life threatening cancers. So, we see these statistics coming up of an increase in the number of diagnosed early cancers but with little change in survival rates. The winds of advice from ‘specialists and scientists’ are not really changing. The science is merely changing course now and then and finally settling on a direction that gradually reaches a much better truth ...but can a scientist cure a sneeze? An online magazine for the deaf has revealed how differently the sneeze is in deaf people. It is observed that deaf people do not make the ‘achoo’ sound when they sneeze while hearing people do this all of the time. Nor is ‘achoo’ universal. It is what English speakers say. The French sneeze ‘atchoum’. In Japan, it is hakasham and in the Phillipines, they say ‘ha-ching’. Inserting words into sneezes – and our responses such as ‘bless you’ – are cultural habits we pick up along the way. For deaf people, a sneeze is what it is, something that just happens. Professor Bernie Woll at University College London says we can modify the noises but we cannot stop it. Part of the clue is why, when we hear our voice on a recording it is so different from how we hear our own voice. This is because we hear our own voice from the base of the skull. We do not hear ourselves speak by having the sound come out of our mouth and it turns left and right and enters our ears! Or perhaps you have heard that before? By John Usher Davis, a Quercy resident, is an Intensive Care specialist, John served in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines providing forward operating facilities in war zones and at sea. After 18 years John went on to manage highly specialised Intensive Care Units and Special Care Baby Units within the UK and abroad. John has completed an MBA at the University of Exeter and a MA from Kings College London in Medical Ethics and Medical Law. www.usherdavis.com


You know that it is important to make your own and your family’s health a priority but your busy schedule and commitments can make it difficult to plan and organise healthcare yourself. The growing complexity and specialism of medicine also means that it may not be possible to obtain the best treatment through your medical practitioner or health insurance company. When you need quality health management it is reassuring to know that there is a simple and convenient way to obtain access to top specialists, the best facilities and the most suitable treatments. UsherDavis International Health Management ensure you receive not just the best care but the most appropriate care. info@usherdavis.com | +44(0)7970655790 www.usherdavis.com


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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Major tax reforms in France. How do they affect you? 2018 will see the introduction of some interesting tax cuts for investment assets and income, including assurance-vie policies. Wealth tax is being completely reformed, making France more attractive for wealthy investors.

Talk to the people who know

05 56 34 75 51

bordeaux@blevinsfranks.com www.blevinsfranks.com

Find out how you can make the most of these tax reforms. Blevins Franks specialises in reducing tax on invested capital, pensions, wealth and inheritance.


INTERNATIONAL TAX ADVICE • INVESTMENTS • ESTATE PLANNING • PENSIONS Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided overseas, via the Insurance Mediation Directive from Malta, the regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as “Conseil en Investissements Financiers” and “Courtiers d’Assurance” Category B (register can be consulted on www.orias.fr). Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: Parc Innolin, 3 Rue du Golf, CS 60073, 33701 Mérignac – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA).

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


MAJOR TAX REFORMS IN FRANCE A new 30% flat tax rate will be introduced for investment income from January 2018, and a new version of wealth tax will only apply to real estate, lowering tax bills for many expatriates in France. As part of his election campaign, President Emmanuel Macron promised various tax reforms, particularly on how investment assets and income are taxed. The aim is to encourage people to save more by simplifying taxation on financial income as well as aid business growth. The draft French budget for 2018 was presented to Parliament on 27th September 2017. A balancing act of tax and spending cuts, it includes the promised tax reforms. The budget will now work its way through parliament before being approved at the end of the year, so changes are possible. The main measure affecting expatriates in France are summarised below. Flat tax on investment income Investment income is currently taxed at the scale rates of income tax, but from 1st January 2018 it will become liable to one fixed rate of 30%. This 30% rate includes both income tax (12.8%) and social charges (17.2%). It will only apply to investment policies over e150,000 (per person, so e300,000 for a joint policy), whether in an assurance-vie or not. Lower income households can continue to opt for the progressive income tax rates, so that they do not have to pay more tax under new system. Assurance-vie Note that for assurance-vie, the new system will apply to all policies set up on or after 27th September 2017, but the 30% flat rate system will not start to be applied to withdrawals until 1st January 2018. This is because the French Constitution states that 70 days have to elapse between the budget being proposed to parliament and it being approved. While most of the reforms were expected, this early date for assurance-vie was a surprise. However, the flat rate can actually be more beneficial for individuals with a higher marginal rate of tax. If your assurance-vie policy was set up before 27th September, the old fixed rate system is still available, as is the ability to elect to use the scaled tax system.

Policies held for more than eight years will continue to benefit from the e4,600 Prélévement Libératoire allowance (e9,200 for married couples/ PACS partners). Your assurance-vie policy will no longer be subject to wealth tax (see below). There are no changes to the succession tax treatment of assurance-vie. Wealth tax From 1st January 2018, wealth tax will be abolished and a new real estate tax will be applicable. Savings and investments, including assurance-vie policies, will be exempt from this tax. If you own or are thinking of buying investment property, it may be worth considering moving the funds into capital investments instead. The current threshold of e1,300,000 will stay in place; the wealth tax scaled rates will apply to property, and main homes will still enjoy the 30% abatement. The 75% limit will also continue to apply. Social charges Social charge for all forms of income are increasing by 1.7%, as follows: -E  mployment/self-employment income from 8% to 9.7% - Pension income from 7.4% to 9.1% - Investment income (including rental income) from to 15.5% 17.2% Taxe d’habitation This property tax, currently paid by most French households, will only apply to the 20% with the highest incomes. Not yet approved Remember that all these reforms still need to be debated and approved by parliament, and so changes are possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss how these reforms affect you personally. The tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Peter Wakelin, Regional Manager of Blevins Franks France part of the Blevins Franks Group the leading international tax and wealth management advisers to UK nationals living in Europe, with decades of experience advising British expatriates moving to and living in France. Telephone 05 56 34 75 51 ~ bordeaux@blevinsfranks.fr ~ www.blevinsfranks.com All information in this article is based on Blevins Franks’ understanding of legislation and taxation practice at the time of writing; this may change in the future. It should not be construed as providing personalised taxation, investment or pension advice. You should take personalised advice for your circumstances. Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018

Brulhois wine producers Linking history and modernity

FROM BLACK WINE Black Wine – a history of men and passion The Brulhois wines have existed since Gallo-Roman times. In the 16th Century the vineyards started to export their Black Wines to Northern Europe via the Garonne and the port of Bordeaux. The vineyards’ soil is rich in iron-oxide and its positon between the Oceanic and Mediterranean influences strengthens the Brulhois wine’s unique character. The wines, just like the Brulhois people, share both passion and character.

The Brulhois wine-makers The wine-cellars of Donzac and Layrac were created at the end of the 1950s and then merged in 2002 to create ‘Les Vignerons du Brulhois’. Then by combining their savoir-faire and resources, the growers worked hard to obtain the recognition of ‘Appellation d’Origine Protégée BRULHOIS.’ Today, two oenologists are responsible for the wine making combining their know-how and modern technology.

A diversity of grapes Brulhois grapes are abouriou, tannat, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and fer servadou grapes. These varieties, linking Brulhois to some of Europe’s largest wine producing regions, contribute to the wine’s complexity, full-bodied and generous red wine, fine and fresh rosés. The white wines are given a powerful aroma and freshness from the sauvignon and gros manseng grapes.

Environmental Protection The Brulhois producers are committed to growing grapes sustainably: Domaine Bel Casse is organic certified; Château Grand Chêne and Terressence vineyard are awarded with High Environmental Value label. By using these production methods the wine producers undertake to leave the vineyards, for future generations, just as they found them.

Grain d’Amour an unusual rosé Produced from black muscat, Grain d’Amour is a very original semi-sweet rosé wine, wellbalanced between sweetness and freshness with peaches, roses and litchee aromas. Join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/graindamour

La Cave de Donzac, 3458, avenue du Brulhois, 82340 DONZAC 05 63 39 91 92, info@vigneronsdubrulhois.com Cellier du Brulhois, RN 21, 47390 LAYRAC 05 53 87 01 65, goulens@vigneronsdubrulhois.com


Wine Tasting – in the dark The Brulhois producers have created a ‘dark’ tasting room and they organise tastings of red, white and rosé wines in total darkness. This type of wine-tasting, unique in France, is open to adventurous wine enthusiasts. Why wine-tasting in the dark? It’s a unique sensory experience, normally our experiences involve all our senses. Wine tasting uses the three fundamental senses of sight, smell and taste. If we can briefly suppress one of our senses, we notice, not only the importance of that sense, but also that our other senses are heightened. We are more sensitive to what we are smelling and tasting when we cannot see the food or drink that we are tasting. This tasting is original and fun! Tastings can be arranged by appointment at the Cellier du Brulhois, Layrac

Christmas at Brulhois 16th & 17th December 2017 • Open day with tastings of wines and regional products. • Demonstrations of festive food preparation. • Tasting of old vintages. • Advice about food and wine pairings. • A great chance to find out more about wine growing and sample some great wines at the Cellier de Brulhois, Layrac. You will be able to taste these great celebration wines, Terressence, Vin Noir, Château Grand Chêne or Domaine Bel Casse for the reds; Château grand Chêne rosé; Ba. Ba. dry or sweet white and Grain d’Amour!


Welcome to Tasting The Lot

and 2018!!

A very Happy Christmas and New Year to all Quercy Local readers. Overall, for most of us in the Quercy, it has been a wonderful year. The weather, holiday visitors, new friendships and life in the Quercy, has been wonderful and sadly for some in the wine trade, disastrous (the frost!). The visitors to the Tasting The Lot table have been so enthusiastic that this year has just whizzed by. Every wine tasting has been a flurry of enthusiastic visitors, loving the weather, the food, the wine and happily the company too. 2018 is going to be a busy year for Tasting The Lot, new wine tasting venues, new wines, tours and tastings all to be discovered. If you would like to know more please email or check out the website or facebook for details. Food and wine tasting our way around the Quercy in 2017 has been wonderful so I decided to round up the year with a selection of some of the questions repeatedly asked this year.

choose combinations you find particularly pleasing. Many wine styles evolved to complement the cuisine of the region, and so this is a good starting point for finding a food and wine combination. Have fun, be brave and experiment. Many excellent combinations have been discovered this way.

The principal reason for food and wine matching is to enhance the overall experience of a dish or meal by pairing it with a wine that will complement it. Think about strawberries and cream, how when combined they are more delicious than when eaten separately, even though they are tasty foods individually. Does it matter what wine is served with a particular food or dish? First of all it is important to take into account personal taste. If a particular combination pleases you then it is the right choice for you. What should I think about when matching wine with food? Remember it is a matter of personal taste, so The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Also, this year I have been trying to teach novice wine tasters on the art of wine tasting. Everybody (winemakers, tasters, novices and connoisseurs) have a different technique to their particular wine tasting technique. We try to follow a few easy guidelines.

GUIDE TO FOOD AND WINE MATCHING Is there such a thing as a safe bet food and wine pairing? Some food and wine combinations work so well that they are truly marriages made in heaven. For example: Asparagus Sauvignon Blanc Christmas Pudding Liqueur Muscat Consommé Fino Sherry Foie Gras Sauternes/ Montbazillac Fruits de Mers Muscadet Goat’s Cheese Sancerre Oysters Champagne Parma Ham & Melon Pinot Grigio Roast Lamb Red Bordeaux Roast Pork Beaujolais Roquefort Sauternes / Montbazillac Stilton Port Strawberries & Cream Sweet Vouvray Sushi German Riesling Kabinett Are there foods that are impossible to match with wine? Listed below are foods which are very difficult or impossible to match well with wine. In these instances, all you can do is find the best possible match, or better still limit the amount of that particular food. For example, horseradish spoils the flavour of wine so take a small serving rather than great dollops of horseradish sauce with your Roast Beef. Artichokes Lemon/Lime Capers Olives Chilli Spinach Chocolate Tomatoes Eggs Truffles Fennel Vinaigrette Horseradish Yoghurt

To achieve the best match it is necessary to analyse the basic components in both the wine and the food. The principal is to try to balance them so that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other. The main elements to consider are: • Weight • Flavour Intensity and Characteristic • Acidity • Salt • Tannin • Sweetness Weight – try to match the weight of the food with the weight of the wine. Rich, heavyweight foods, like red meat casseroles need full-bodied wines. Normally it is powerful red wines that are the favoured choice but it is the weight of the wine, not the colour or flavour, which is the most important consideration. Hence a full-bodied white wine is usually a better match with meat than a light-styled Red wine. Lightweight food like poultry and fish are complemented by more delicate wines. Whilst a White wine is the instinctive choice light, low-tannin Reds also work. Flavour Intensity and Character – flavour intensity, although similar to weight, is not the same thing. A big bowl of boiled pasta or potatoes without a dressing or sauce is heavy in weight but light in flavour. As opposed to red or green bell peppers which are lightweight but very flavoursome. The same goes for wines; the Riesling variety makes lightweight, intensely flavoured wines whilst Chardonnay makes heavy (full-bodied) wines that are lightly flavoured. Quite often it is not the dish’s main ingredient that is the dominant flavour. In a creamy chicken curry the sauce will be heavier and fuller flavoured than the chicken. In this instance you need to match the wine to the sauce. The flavour characteristics of some foods and wines are very similar and consequently they make good combinations:

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


• Fruit-based desserts can be matched with the “grapey” flavour of the Muscat variety. • Spicy dishes can be matched with Gewürztraminer, a variety often described as spicy. (Spicy wines may have white or black pepper, cloves, ginger, allspice aromas and flavours for example.) • Cream or butter sauces go well with wines that have been fermented in new oak barrels. Oak imparts vanilla-scented, buttery, creamy flavours to the wine. • Delicately flavoured wines like Italian Whites and Muscadet complement shellfish and seafood. Acidity – food and wine can both have acidity. Tomatoes, citrus and green apples are high-acid foods. Certain grape varieties naturally produce high-acid wines, Muscadet for example. Wines from cool climates will have more acidity than those from hot climates. When vinegar or lemon juice is used as a condiment you will need to find a high-acid wine to complement it. A classic example is Champagne served with smoked salmon and a squeeze of lemon. High-acid wines are also used to cleanse the palate when eating oily food. Even without the lemon, smoked salmon is made more palatable when the Champagne cuts through the natural oiliness of the fish. In Italy where many dishes are made with lots of olive oil you will find the majority of their Red wines have noticeable acidity and so compliment the regional dishes perfectly. The wines’ acidity matches the acid characteristic also found in the tomatoes whilst cutting through the olive oil. Salt – salt is not a flavour you will find in wine. Salty foods are enhanced and balanced by a hint of sweetness, Parma Ham and Melon is a classic example. The same thing can be achieved with wine; Sauternes, a very sweet dessert wine from the Bordeaux region, is a famous match with our beautiful salty, Roquefort cheese. It is unusual to want a sweet wine with a main course and because salt clashes with tannin (it makes tannin seem more bitter) in this instance it would be better to select a low-tannin wine. Salt works with acidity, an example of this would be salty nibbles served with Champagne before a meal. For a dry wine to work with salty food it should have low tannins and noticeable acidity. It is easier to find White wines with these characteristics than Reds, but there are some Red wines to fit the bill, Beaujolais is a perfect example. Tannin – tannins cause your gums to pucker and dry when you drink wine. They are usually detected in Red wines because tannin comes from the grape

skins and stalks and they are not used in white winemaking. Wines made from different grape varieties vary enormously in tannin content, some varieties being naturally low in tannins and others high. Cabernet Sauvignon has very thick skins and so makes very deeply coloured, high-tannin wines. Wine tannins are attracted to fatty proteins (your saliva is full of protein molecules and this is why your gums pucker and dry when drinking tannic wines). Lamb is a good example of a food with a high-fatty protein content which when eaten coats the mouth with fat. If you then drink a tannic red wine the tannin molecules attach themselves to the protein molecules and strip them from your mouth, leaving it feeling refreshed and cleansed and ready for the next mouthful. Sweetness – sweet foods make dry wines seem over-acidic and tart. The general rule of thumb is to serve a wine at least as sweet as or sweeter than the food being served. Many sweet wines have a good level of acidity, Sauternes and Côteaux du Layons are good examples. This makes them a very good match for rich foods like pâté. The acidity will cut through the fat in the pâté and the wine’s sweetness will complement the richness of this food. As mentioned previously, sweetness also balances salt and so sweet wines are classic companions of blue cheeses e.g. Port with Stilton. There are lots of wonderful wines in our region and the surrounding areas. Try something new this Christmas and New Year, we are so lucky to have it all on our doorstep. Please do get in contact if you would like to know more about personalised wine tastings in our wonderful region. See you in 2018 The wonderful Samantha Ledwith from Gîte Fleurieu has been commissioned by me to design my new logo. I hope you love it as much as I do. 2018 will I hope be a flurry of food and wine tastings in gîtes and villas all over the Lot Valley encouraging visitors and locals to try our wonderful wines and foods of the regions. Many of my recipes that I use throughout the year are being compiled into a book, called Tasting The Lot, which we hope will be ready before April 2018.

Happy harvesting!

Luci Cox


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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


The view from the vineyard of Domaine du Pech to the small town of Sainte-Colombe-en-Brulhois. Ludovic Bonelle explains about the work in his vineyard.

Are they finally leaving the shadow of Bordeaux? By Michael Røder and Michael Frank


he Buzet area, formerly Côtes de Buzet, may not be well-known throughout Europe. But its red wines, in particular, can be of high quality and their classic style fits perfectly with French cuisine. After our recent visit, here we offer an introduction to the area, the wine growing cooperative and a bit more details about a couple of the area’s best growers.

History The Buzet area is in southwest France between the cities of Agen and Marmande along the southern bank of the river Garonne which flows all the way to the mighty and famous Bordeaux and beyond into the Atlantic Ocean. Small vineyards and large châteaux are spread out in a beautiful hilly-landscape of fields and forests; with small villages popping up, mushroom like, on hilltops. The area has, for a long time, been in the shadow of the Bordeaux wine-region. However, this hasn’t always been the case! Vine cultivation started here 2 centuries BC, during the Roman occupation. Later, the wines were transported down the river and actually sold as Bordeaux wine. In the 19th century phylloxera ravaged the vineyards, and the farmers in Buzet decided to make changes and

re-planted with local, and then unknown, grapes such as Bouchalès, Mérille and Malbec. However, this was a disaster. The quality of the wines fell dramatically and the sales with it. So a wine-cooperative was formed in the 20th century, and gradually the well-known Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot were planted, to correspond with soil analyses done around the locality. Since then, the quality of the wine has steadily increased, and in 1973 the area received the quality mark Appellation Origine Controlée (AOC). The area is relatively small with a total of 1800 hectares. The red wines from the area are based on these re-planted grapes, with occasionally a little Malbec. Dry white wines are also under the same appellation and based on the Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes. By no means least – small quantities of quality rosé wine are also made.

The cooperative Buzet is dominated by the appellation’s cooperative, ‘Les Vignerons de Buzet’ which produces the majority of the wine from the appellation. The cooperative has been a pioneer in raising the quality and

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


increasing the understanding of the wines. It still stands as the dominant regional producer accounting for approximately 95% of the wine production, involving a total of 281 growers. Undoubtedly, it’s easier for individual growers to produce wine under the umbrella of a cooperative. There are advantages relating to both the production equipment and the advice that can be shared among members. Whist visiting the cooperative we tasted some of their wines along with some produced independently such as, Château de Gueyze and Domaine de la Sébastiane. This cooperative can be found at 56, Avenue des Côtesde-Buzet, 47160 Buzet-sur-Baïse and is worth a visit.

The independent wine growers Only 14 vineyards in Buzet are independent. Among these are some very interesting producers. The two we visited and discuss here demonstrate some of Buzet’s greatest strengths, but in very different ways.

Domaine du Pech Domaine du Pech stands-out as a producer of some of the best Buzet wines but also for producing these biodynamically. Since 2003 the Domaine has been leading the way, this is well before the current level of interest in biodynamic and natural wine production began. The famous wine writer Hugh Johnson spotted Domaine du Pech many years ago and recognised it as one of Buzet’s outstanding independent producers. Domaine du Pech enjoys a beautiful location on the slopes of the small, hilltop village of Sainte-Colombe-enBrulhois. The vineyard is run by Ludovic Bonnelle and Magali Tissot, who follows her father, Daniel Tissot. The vineyard has 17 hectares of vines, growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a single hectare of Sauvignon Blanc; so, the production of red wines dominates. The wine is produced without the addition of yeast or sulphites. The weeds in the vineyards are reduced, but not removed, to encourage the highest possible biodiversity. Ludovic believes that wine must make itself and that this process starts in the field; and that the more you interfere, the more you weaken the strength and life of the wine. This principle continues in the cellar, where the wine is not filtered or added to. The red cuvée ‘La Badinerie du Pech’ is matured in 600 litres French demi muids from Burgundy, which affects the wine less than the more commonly used 225 litre barriques. Many wine-lovers are cautious about this style of production, whilst for others it’s very popular. However, it’s the end result that counts, and it’s generally acknowledged that producing wines in this way leads to a wide variety of standards and both good and bad

Biodynamic grown vines on Domaine du Pech.

experiences. For example, a white biodynamic Meursault (Burgundy) which evolves without its well-known scent and flavour may disappoint many Burgundy lovers. Conversely, the smell and taste of biodynamic wines can prove amazingly vinous, fresh and clean. So, we asked Ludovic. How, with minimal intervention did he manage to achieve a stable and desirable quality? Ludovic explained that ‘it takes more time to produce good biodynamic wine. Some biodynamic producers are too busy releasing the wine to the consumer’. So, the wines from Domaine du Pech are older when they’re sold. Many growers sell their wines after 2 years, the wines from du Pech are usually ready to be bottled after 4 years. Ludovic’s top cuvée (currently on sale) La Badinerie 2008, was, unusually, bottled after 5 years. It’s a more expensive process that provides stability and quality, this is reflected in the price of 25 euros per bottle. What Ludovic aims for, in his wine, is purity, complexity and life. The latter is illustrated by the words ‘Attention - Vin Vivant’ written on the back of one of the Domaine’s cuvées. At the Domaine we tasted Jarnicoton 2015, made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Ludovic cheerfully calls this red cuvée ‘his rosé’. However, it is far from being confused with a rosé. Jarnicoton is the lightest of the red cuvées, with a nice, big, open-bouquet and with a fruity roundness. It will be a good companion for many a lighter lunch dish. The next red cuvée, Abusé du Pech 2012, is somewhat more complex and made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Nice and with a larger bouquet and with splendid notes of berries, such as black currant. It had a soft tannin finish and a good aftertaste.

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Ludovic Bonnelle presents his wines from Domaine du Pech in the cellar.

The beautiful main building of Chateau du Frandat dates back to the 16th century.

The red cuvée Badenerie du Pech 2008 is also made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes and is fairly dark in colour. The aroma is powerful and with a rare mixed character; including notes of violet, mushroom, and moist-earthy woodland. A rich, powerful taste suggesting prunes but which is rustic, complex and deep. There’s a long aftertaste and relatively mild tannins. With his white wines Ludovic is imaginative and is busy experimenting. Previously we’ve tasted his white Badenerie, which works well, but don’t expect the fresh fruitiness of a Sauvignon Blanc, with its characteristic bouquet of white flowers and elder. For this wine Ludovic uses a special malolactic fermentation and a rich, dry and complex wine results. A wine suited for accompanying distinctive cheeses, it’s devoid of

fruitiness with more of a fine dry sherry or Jura-wine style. A real character of its own! Surprisingly, Domaine du Pech didn’t have this wine when we visited. Ludovic believes that he should only make wine in accordance with the realities of any particular year. So we tried, instead the white QV 2014 based on Sauvignon Blanc, and fermented with direct contact with the grape skins; inspired by an Italian winegrower. It had a complex, impressive, large and fresh bouquet of elderflower which contrasted with the lightness of its taste. The wine can be recommended, for drinking with among other-things fresh goat cheese, grilled fish and light meats. In 2008, Ludovic’s only hectare of Sauvignon Blanc was used for the Soleil 2008 cuvée (which we tried), inspired by the wine-making principles in Maury, Languedoc, which means that the wine is matured and stored outdoors in large clear-glass containers with 7gs of residual sugar. The result has been very successful. It has a large, rich bouquet and a long aftertaste. A great wine that will accompany the highest gourmet.

Château du Frandat A little further south, almost to Nérac in the region of Gascony, we found the largest independent vineyard in Buzet with a total of 60 hectares, of which approximately 30 hectares are vines, the rest are currently plum and fruit trees. The property lies in both Buzet country and also in the Côtes de Gascogne (Armagnac). Here they produce both red and rosé wines, Armagnac and the special liqueur Floc de Gascogne.

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Mickaël le Biavant presents his wines at Chateau du Frandat.

Château du Frandat is also well-known for its high quality wines, with a somewhat more classical approach to production. The vineyard is owned by Laetitia and Mickaël Le Biavant. The current property is a beautiful, small château dating back to 1540. Laetitia’s parents, Patrice and Sabine Sterlin took over the vineyard in 1980. At that time, their wine was delivered to the cooperative as their production facilities were outdated. However, in the late 80s they decided to become independent producers and invested in brand new facilities. Laetitia and Mickaël have been in charge since 2008. For the last 10-15 years, Frandat has received several awards, including from the well-recognised Guide Hachette des Vins. Wine production on this land dates back to Napoleonic times. They do not make biodynamic or natural wine, however, Mickaël says that they are gradually introducing organic growing methods and environmentally friendly production techniques. For example, they’ve an area of weed production designed to simply supply natural nitrogen to the vines. Mickaël was originally trained in marketing for property businesses but is now, with great humility and the support of oenological consultants (from St. Emilion), totally committed to wine production. We were shown around the land with its well-maintained vines trained with the classic Double Guyot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines are planted in straight rows without weeds. A real contrast with the ‘wild’ natural vineyard at Domaine du Pech! Mickaël explains that (in pursuit of quality) they’re gradually introducing smaller steel tanks so that they

can better manage their different cuvées. They use (mainly French) 225 litre barriques, for their two top cuvées of ‘Majorat’ and ‘Fleurette’. The main aim is to have a consistent and stable product from year-to-year. At our tasting we tried wines priced at between 6 and 15 euros all representing very attractive purchases. Frandat’s rosé wine is dry and very agreeable an ideal aperitif for enjoying on a terrace or pared with lighter dishes. The first red cuvée we tried was Enchantement 2014, produced from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in a 1:1 blend. It’s a wine made from the younger vines. It’s fruity, pleasantly tuned, uncomplicated and with a medium fullness. Then secondly, Cuvée Frandat 2014, is also made with equal quantities of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but from slightly older vines and is stored for 24 months in steel tanks. It appears relatively dark, deeper and with more composite fruit notes of dark berries, it’s very agreeable and with a good texture and pleasant aftertaste. The third cuvée we tasted was Cuvée Majorat 2014. This is a great wine. It’s made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot from the highest vines on the property. The wine is stored for approximately 12 months in French barriques. The wine has a clear, ruby-red colour with a nice bouquet, notes of violet and red berries, plus a touch of vanilla. The taste is rich, harmoniously fruity, even black currant, and with a long aftertaste. The tannins are relatively soft and it has a good structure and balance. We believe that this cuvée will improve further with storage for another 3-5 years. The last cuvée for tasting was Fleurette, also from the 2014 harvest. The name of this cuvée (not produced every year) originates from a legend about a girl named Fleurette. She was the gardener’s daughter at the Château de Nérac, which is where King Henry IV grew up in the mid-16th century. According to the legend, Henry IV seduced Fleurette and then arranged to meet her, an appointment he did not attend. In great despair Fleurette threw herself into the river Baïse and drowned! This legend gave rise to the French expression ‘conter fleurette’, which means ‘flirting, courting’. This wine is made with 60% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. It’s matured for approximately 12 months in French and American barriques. The colour is ruby-red, and the bouquet is very fruity with notes of cherry and dark berries and a touch of vanilla. The taste is rich and fruity suggesting red and dark berries. It has a great texture with a good long aftertaste, and finishes with almost silky tannins, all without being overly influenced by the oak barrels. A lovely wine. However, whether it can be used successfully in the ‘conter fleurette’ context, remains to be proven!

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


New Year Resolutions Some people are full of rubbish. by Ian Gibbs (writer, trainer and coach – living in Spain)


know I’m probably preaching to the converted already, but it still never ceases to amaze me how many there are who talk (or write) out of the top of their hats. I’ve met investors who are poor, coaches whose lives are a mess and doctors who smoke two packets a week. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to listen to someone who actually does what they say – someone who puts their money where their mouth is. So instead of writing the usual stuff about New Year’s Resolutions and how to keep them, I’m going to tell you about mine. You see a couple of years ago I wrote a book about how to harness the power of perseverance which I subsequently used to lose 15kg followed by learn a language (Catalan) four times faster than normal – achieving in 5 months what usually talks two years. But as they say – you’re only as good as the last great thing you did. So now I’m looking at what persevering opportunities lie ahead in 2018. It’s not an easy choice. Here are my options: • Learn to record, edit and post videos. It could come in very useful. • Learn how to play the piano (from scratch). The next time I pass through Kings Cross St. Pancras, I want to be able to impress the crowds on one of those public pianos. • Get genuinely fit (Aerobic, muscular, flexibility and body composition). • Meet (network) 100 new people. • Learn to touch type (I’m told 60 wpm is quite respectable). • Train the dog. At the moment, I can’t get him to do anything and he constantly pulls when out for walkies (little rascal!) • Become a better speaker. I need to improve my presentation skills of my published books. • Read more. I have a backlog of recommended books that’s getting embarrassing. • Declutter my house. Let’s face it – it’s a mess. • Write a book. It’s time for another. Which one would you choose? Some might seem easier compared to others. When I talk about decluttering the house I mean getting rid of

a serious amount of clothes, kitchen junk, unloved toys and stuff in the storage room that hasn’t seen the light of day for years. About 100kg of stuff should give me breathing space again. Reading sounds easy, but I’ve about 20 books to get through including Steven Pinker’s ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ and Robert Greene’s ‘The 48 Laws of Power’, neither of which can be considered lightweights. For most, any one of these would seem like a perfectly respectable New Year’s Resolution. But if I’m to hold my head high as a master of perseverance, ‘respectable’ just isn’t enough. I need something more remarkable. So here you have it. My New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to do ALL of them. That’s right. 10 major persevering tasks while trying to keep down my day job and still have a family life to boot. And how am I going to do it? By applying the Sorites Principle or, in other words, by carrying out lots of small coordinated actions throughout the day, every day, for a whole year. And the way to do that is to set specific and measurable goals, identify and programs lots of small actions/activities, monitor progress and finally by making sure you stick to the plan by using every single psychological technique you can get your hands on. I may live to regret it, but if I want to demonstrate how powerfully effective the ‘little by little’ method can be then the only way to prove the pudding is to eat it. So wish me luck and if you fancy making your own resolutions then why not try doing it ‘little by little’, too? Speaking of puddings, from down here in Barcelona, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Good luck and Happy Persevering!

Ian’s brilliant book ‘The Sorites Principle: How to harness the power of perseverance’ can be bought as a download or paperback from Amazon – strongly recommended.

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


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A swash buckling adventure story full of fanciful love, dangerous sword fighting and complete with the chevaliers trusty steeds. Believe me we are all in training now! Here is Theatre Sans Paroles with their latest theatrical piece, which is being workshopped now. It is a story to warm hearts in February, spring time of 2018. Anything can happen with this theatre group, who use no words, but, incorporate physical theatre, music, mime and masks. This famous story is the base for our fourth performance and the classic story unfolds…. or does it? Will the wicked cardinal survive? …Will Louis X111 continue stuffing his face with patisserie? Will D’Artagnan marry the love of his life, Constance Bonnacieux? Will she swallow the poison and die? Or did she run off with the Gypsies last Wednesday? Theatre Sans Paroles is a theatre group based in Touffailles. We meet once a week at the Salles des Fêtes for a theatre workshop to share ideas, and improvise our work. We also make our own props and costumes, but mainly we enjoy the energy, the exchanges and the fun. We perform at Touffailles and have now been asked to perform in other venues, including Auvillar, Beauville, and at a small Cafe des Arts near Toulouse. Our performers are from different cultures including French, English, Scottish and Dutch and are from all walks of life. The workshops are held in French and in English every Wednesday evening at 19,30h. We are not age specific and anyone interested is welcome. If you want to have a great free evening out with an ‘aperitif gratuit’ and simply a hat to show appreciation at the door, watch out for our publicity at the end of January or ring Olwyn for further information. 0562390246.

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


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


Quercy Counselling English-speaking counselling and psychological services on all manner of issues. Based in Belveze, we offer services face-to-face, via telephone and Skype. For more information please see the website: www.quercycounselling.com Or contact Elizabeth Cross on +33(0)788279014 or quercycounselling@gmail.com

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Call to arrange a free estimate. Our motto is Small Profits, Quick Returns. Always top quality at a price you can afford! Matt Piper 06 72 56 73 77 or email mattsnipe@live.co.uk Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Festive Blues

The festive season is upon us and I know lots of people will be experiencing dread of some sort. Many of us are miles away from our families, and it can be the toughest part of the year. There are a myriad of other reasons why the ‘festive’ period is stressful. Many are in financial difficulty; some are suffering from grief and separation; others in strained relationships; undergoing medical treatment; feeling homesick or experiencing social anxiety… Some people just don’t like this time of year and they don’t know why! This could be because of a long forgotten memory stored in their subconscious – parents arguing, their dog dying or some other unhappy event. Our brains simply follow neural pathways already set-up, so even when something’s totally irrelevant in our life now, our brain repeats the same pattern until we actively do something to change and create new neural pathways. I wonder how many people reading this are feeling like this, dreading this time of year? I would imagine most people at some time in their life have felt lonely over Christmas. I have. Newly separated at the time, far from my parents I was dreading Christmas and

particularly New Year. Everyone was having fun or so it seemed to me. If you switch on the TV, all the adverts are showing happy families, grandparents playing with their grandchildren, people buying gifts, the dining table laden with all sorts of delights, even the dog’s having fun! I think what makes it worse is that everyone you know (and even strangers) is telling you how much you should be enjoying this time of year. Even if they’re at the end of their tether trying to get everything done, they’ll be telling you what a “misery you’re being”. You know you should be happy and having fun because that’s what’s expected. No one has to tell you that. But they do anyway. Here are a few tips to try and make the festive season more inviting: 1. Reach out. If you’re feeling really down about being alone at Christmas and can’t pull yourself out of it, reach out for help. Call a friend, family member, or a helpline. You don’t need to be alone. Last year I noticed a post someone had made on some English speaking forum explaining how lonely they felt. The

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


response was incredible and the couple were invited to goodness knows how many people’s homes. This is one of the advantages of living in our multicultural environment – we share similar experiences even if we’re here for many different reasons. 2. Give yourself the gift of self-compassion and give yourself permission to feel like this. If you want to have a little cry, then do. The more you fight against a feeling, the more it starts to dominate your thoughts. If you have the energy afterwards put on some fun music and dance. You’re never too old to dance! 3. Connect with the other ‘loners’ you know. You’ll be surprised how many feel the same and you can share the time together. 4. Make your home festive and have fun with the glitter. It doesn’t matter if no-one else sees it – you do. And quite frankly you’re the important one right now. There’s a saying: “Fake it until you make it.” 5. Volunteer in your local community. Not only will you feel great, you’ll help someone else feel loved. 6. Host an Online Christmas with those you love. Even twenty minutes of feeling involved will lift your spirits. Keep those feelings and focus on them to help you through this time. 7. Create a video card for those you love. It might require effort however once you start it could be fun. If you don’t have access to a video, you can even record one via Skype and send it that way.

Twilight GREAT GIFT IDEAS TO HELP TWILIGHT DOGS HOME The calendars are e8 each. The postage to France is: 1 calendar e2.75; 2 or 3 e3.70. To UK, 1 calendar e4.50; 2 or 3 e7. Ask about postage for 4 or over.

Tea-towels are e8 and same postage costs as calendars. We are selling a tea-towel and a calendar for e15 plus postage of e3.70 FR and e4.50 UK. With the book ‘Paws Before Bedtime’ we have an offer of a copy of the book plus a tea-towel for e25 incl. postage.

8. It’s the usual comment people make however it’s true: “Life really is too short for regrets”. 9. Avoid the urge to isolate yourself. You’re not a burden, these are your thoughts only. 10. And last but not least: “It’ll soon be over!” If you want to chat, I’m here… To find out more visit www.focus-hypnotherapy.com/ or www.irena-mariemakowska. com/ Irena-Marie works 1-2-1 with children aged seven upwards, adolescents and adults – as well as running group workshops for individuals and companies.

Twilightdogshome www.twilightchiens.com orders to: twilightdogsbook@gmail.com


Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


A charity dedicated to the welfare of pet & stray cats

Help us to help them! The 2018 Calendar is available in our boutiques in Roquecor and Lauzerte. Les amis des chats wants to thank Jane Greenwood for the lovely illustrations as well as our sponsors. In addition, do not miss our Christmas Shops in our boutiques starting early December. Decorations and gifts will be for sale at very low prices!!

July-August 2017 Issue 30


uercy cal Local uercy Lo September-Novembe

r 2017 Issue



in English The Region’s FREE magazine Inside

The Region’s

FREE magazine

in English

Inside – Meet – a Hat Blocker & a Whisky Distiller Discover – Issigeac & Montpezat de Quercy Find – Places to Escape to! Plus – Summer Events, Galleries, Cherry Cake & Wine-Tasting

uercy Local May-June 2017


The Region’s

– Lily of the Valley, Pickled Garlic & Bovine Beauties Art, Artisans & Alpine Gardens Surviving a Stroke and win Tickets for Richard III

Inside – Alpacas Dunes & Cajarc Cupcakes Fig & Honey Bastides Beers, Books, & Bay Leaves


in English Shakespeare Open-air E France SEE PAGE 20 RT FRANC www.ad-tour.com by cancer in 2017 2-14 AUG R SUPPO touched CANCE e.org eaking people supportfranc for English-sp 82 Support

www.cancer 70 64 68 0800 240 200 41 Lot & Garonne: 06 90 03 National Helpline: & Lot: 06 35 www.quercylocal.com Dordogne Est





FREE magazine

in English

Issue 29


Your copy of The Quercy Local can be delivered to your home in France or elsewhere in Europe. 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.

For more information on forthcoming events, please visit Les amis des chats website www.les-amis-des-chats.com & our Facebook page.

Simply visit our website and follow the link to ‘Subscribe’ you can made the subscription immediately by using either a bank card or paypal. If you prefer to pay by cheque then simply forward a cheque (payable to A Atkinson) to Las Razes, Touffailles, 82190, France – do include the address that you want the magazines sending to. We will always start the subscription with the next edition to be published unless you email to ask us to start with the current one. The costs for getting 5 copies sent to you are currently – 20 euro for an address in France or 12 euro for elsewhere in Europe.

thequercylocal@gmail.com www.quercylocal.com The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


For all your joinery and internal renovation projects • Made to measure doors and windows in wood, aluminium and PVC • Traditional and electric rolling shutters • Bespoke staircases and joinery projects • Installation of kitchens and bathrooms • Electric gates and garage doors • Balconies, patios and other tiling projects

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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018



The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Treat Yourself for the New year & onwards...

5% OFF

If you do need a reason to spoil yourself then make this festive season and the start of a new year all the reason you need. A little pampering and ‘me time’ is what most of us need at most times of the year but right now, in the middle of winter, more than ever. We have some suggestions over the next couple of pages and importantly some great money-saving vouchers for you to use to kick start ‘feeling good’.

10% OFF

20% OFF

Celine Publier

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Ladies and Gents – Mobile Hairdresser

Let me come to you (20 km from Valence d’Agen) Cuts, Colours, Styling (including Weddings)

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Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Celine Publier Mobile Hairdresser (20km radius from Valence D’Agen)

Tel. 06 38 59 61 10 5% off any treatment before the end of February 2018. 1 discount per person, non-refundable, non-exchangeable and on presentation of this voucher

Wellness Centre In an old 17th Century house

Saisons Spa www.saisons-institut-de-beaute.fr 10% off any treatment (except hair removal) during January 2018 1 discount per person, non-refundable, non-exchangeable and on presentation of this voucher

Heated indoor pool, Spa, Relaxing room Beauty treatments & massage available

Entry 25e per 2 hour 15e when a massage is booked Towels and a soft drink included

www.moulindejouenery.fr 20% off each of 2 visits to the Spa (not incl. treatments) before the end of February 2018 Applies once per person, non-refundable, non-exchangeable and on presentation of this voucher

10% off full-facial treatment/face & head massage/foot reflexology up to the end of February 2018. Appointments between Mon – Sat Gift vouchers available 1 discount per person, non-refundable, non-exchangeable and on presentation of this voucher

Corinne Institut 127 avenue Pierre Sémard, 46000 CAHORS contact@corinne-institut.com www.corinne-institut.com 30% off any facial/body treatment or massage. Valid to the end of February 2018 1 discount per person, non-refundable, non-exchangeable and on presentation of this voucher

Have a great 2018!

Please reserve, space limited Le Moulin de Jouenery Lieu dit Jouenery Brassac 82190 Tel: 05 63 32 09 31 contact@moulindejouenery.fr

15 mins from Valence, Lauzerte and Moissac More info: moulindejouenery.fr

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local



Traditional Stonework ~ New and Restoration 82190 Fauroux ~ 06 40 20 68 94 ~ English spoken ~ angeregis@hotmail.fr

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~ Needle felted loveliness created on my trusty kitchen table amongst the chaos of my little toddler sized assistant ‘Emma’ and our lively young Boarder Terrier ‘Rosie’ ~ All carefully balanced between working part time, being a full-time toddler tamer and domestic goddess along with wrangling three ponies, Hamish, Peter and Daisy. ~ A lover of animals, the countryside, cake, tea, unnecessary amounts of stationary, the radio and bedtime ~ I post all my items worldwide. The UK, France and America being the most common – so if you want to receive something yourself or arrange a gift to go directly to someone dear, remember I pride myself in pretty packaging and making things feel special. ~ Why not have a peek in my little web-shop, please get in touch if you have any queries ~ Much love

Harriet x www.thisfeltedhouse.com You can also follow all of that goes on

This Felted House


Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


There cannot be many people who aren’t just a little bit excited about beads. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are jewellery fans. Somehow beads go beyond jewellery. There is something, particularly, with handmade beads, that’s primitive, communicative and wholesome. By A Atkinson


eads have been made for thousands of years and have been spiritual, curative, good-luck charms, currency and adornment. A handmade bead sends a message, from the heart of its maker to the person with it in their hand. They are, in every respect, personal. Virtually everyone will have had (at some stage in their life) a little box, hidden somewhere private, with a few beads in it. Maybe beads from a grandparent’s broken neckless, found on a pavement or from the bottom of a box of goodies from a jumble sale. Beads talk to that-part-of-us that just wants to keep a few beautiful things safe. So where is all this leading us? The answer to that is Ste. Alauzie (46170) and a deeply rural bliss. This is where Carol-Ann Smith van Blerk lives and works. A keen horsewoman she has a small family of horses just outside and a few cats in and around the fireplace, the studio and sunny terraces. Carol-Ann is very excited about beads. She always has been. We probably never know where these passions come from, maybe in Carol-Ann’s case it was time spent with colours and textures in textile mills in her homeland of South Africa. Then a life living amongst the colours of the Mediterranean in Spain and now the dense green of a wooded Lot valley all of these amazing influences are right there in Carol-Ann’s work. Why call a business Oooohbeads? Well, I understand it now (after visiting) and I defy anyone to see some of

Carol-Ann’s work and not find themselves, even under their breath, saying just-that ‘Ooooh beads’. Carol-Ann, creates the most beautiful beads from glass. This is known as lampworking and involves the heating up of differently coloured glass rods (largely from Italy) and melting them carefully over prepared mandrels, creating a glass bead with a suitable hole through it. Then the really clever bit, the adding on of other colours, all of which has to be done so very carefully. There is such a fine line between the hot workable glass and its cold, hard state. Then there’s the wait whilst the beads spend time in a digital kiln, ensuring that each and every one of them is annealed correctly. Each bead is a work of art in its own right. Some even have small pieces of silver adornments added. Some beads are single statement pieces and go on to be worn singly on either silver chains or chokers, dyed-silk ribbon or leather straps.

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Win a Valentines’ Heart Other beads form parts of small groups which are worn together, threaded onto silver, leather or silk, just like the single beads but with a completely different effect. You would never achieve these results if you did not simply-love, firstly, melting glass and secondly and critically, have a real eye for colours. Carol-Ann sells her beads, sometimes to other artists who include them in their work, adorning handbags or as part of other pieces of jewellery. But most of her work is sold directly to people simply wanting a piece or a few pieces of something beautiful. As well as supplying her beads, Carol-Ann also supplies the accessories for wearing the beads. That is, if you are not just planning on adding them to the precious box, hidden in your secret place. If you want to do more than look at, hold and wear your beads then you will be pleased to know that Carol-Ann’s plan is to start holding some studio days – days when you can find out much more and have go yourself. Be careful though these beads are addictive!

Win this lovely romantic glass heart right in time for Valentines’ Day. It’s threaded on a silk-dyed ribbon and was lovingly made by Carol-Ann. Simply email us by noon on the 9th of February with the name of your Valentine and where to send this to. We will draw all the entries out of a hat. Email to: thequercylocal@gmail.com

You can see more of Carol-Ann’s beads on www.oooohbeads.com. Ideal Christmas Presents! Ooooh Beads


Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018

Two Towns


A Tale of

A quick look at two towns on opposite sides of the Lot. Puy L’Évêque is in the heart of the Cahors wine growing region and Lalbenque is central to Quercy’s truffle production.


Today Puy L’Évêque is a bustling little town on the banks of the River Lot. The town rises steeply from the riverbank and for those on foot there are some very pretty walks up through the narrow streets to the main part of town where you’ll find great views of the valley below. Here is where you’ll find a popular weekly market every Tuesdays.

A little history Located at the opening of one of the narrowest isthmuses of the Lot Valley the town perches on a rocky promontory dominating the valley, on which are found the oldest buildings. However, there’s one exception:

the church of Saint-Sauveur which was constructed at a distance from the town on a hill offering it a dominant

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


FRANCK TONEL MAÎTRE ARTISAN PÂTISSIER – 30 years LE GÂTEAU AUX NOIX Artisan recipes dating from 1908




Loren and Pierre look forward to welcoming you to their lovely restaurant in the heart of Puy L’Évêque, deep in the Lot valley. Where you will find both local and refined dishes all accompanied by a large range of great wines.

and protected position. The rocky outcrop, formerly known as ‘pech’ or ‘puig’ in ancient Celtic gave its name to the village in the form of ‘Puy’. At the beginning of the 13th Century the town was taken by the Albigensians, led by Guillaume de Cardaillac, Bishop of Cahors, who joined it to his diocese. A Papal Decree confirmed this union in 1227 and the town took the name of Puy-l’Évéque. In view of its strategic position on the river, Puyl’Évêque was occupied several times during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). Then during the religious wars it was besieged and bombarded by, a future, Lieutenant of Henri IV. The town resisted and the siege was lifted in 1580.

Open All Year from Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm

24 Grand Rue, 46700 Puy L’Évêque Please reserve - 09 86 31 80 88 www.lemedieval-puyleveque.fr

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Behind the 13th Century Donjon, which is the last vestige of the Episcopal Palace, the town descends in terraces of superb medieval, ochre-coloured dwellings to the Quay where there was an active port. At the heart of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée ‘Cahors’ vineyards, Puy-L’Évêque is home to some grand estates and châteaux. The principle grape variety is Malbec the colour of which leads to its popular name black-wine. Rich in tannins and bouquet, this wine seduced the Russian Tsars and some of historical Heads of Europe. Cahors wine marries marvelously with the local cuisine: foie gras, cèpes, duck, walnut tart, truffles…. (If you like a walnut tart then we can strongly recommend those produced by Franck Tonel in the village. As part of essential research one was consumed, here in the office – a real artist at work). On the subject of food and wine, if you are in town and fancy something to eat, we can recommend the restaurant Le Médiéval (which can be found on the narrow one way road between the two levels of town), we’ve been and were impressed. Booking recommended. Then further up at the top of town there’s the very informal ‘Les Dodus en Ville’ – not wanting to miss a chance – we’ve tried that too! The tourist office can be contacted on: info@tourisme-lot-vignoble.com, www.tourisme-lot-vignoble.com Photo Credits - Tourist Office and Pascal B

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


PUY-L’ÉVÊQUE AND GUSTAVE EIFFEL The previously extremely industrious and notorious boatmen who’d worked the river to support their often ruthless family dynasties, saw their livelihoods start to decline in 1869 with the arrival of the railway. A bridge was been required, at Puy L’Évêque, to join the two sides of the river. The first attempt was a masonry bridge similar to the ones at Lacroze, Luzech and Douelle. However the huge floods of late October 1868 washed this away. So Gustave Eiffel who was becoming known for his metal constructions, such as the Eiffel Tower, was called upon to try and avoid a repeat of the disaster. So the bridge was built with metal beams with wire netting resting on masonry piles. When opening the line and bridge a great crowd gathered. The Mayor of Cahors came to welcome the first person arriving by train, in this case from Monsempron-Libos. In his memoires an old inhabitant of Puy-L’Évêque tells the story told by his parents that Gustave Eiffel was himself aboard for the inaugural trip. However, there are no known documents to confirm or disprove this testimony. The line was used for more than a century. The last ‘autorail’, which had replaced the steam trains in 1955 stopped running on 26th September 1971. First the river was redundant, then the train line and now the road network was to be king.

Away from the food and wine producers dominating the region, Puy L’Évêque is the home to a very interesting and important porcelain manufacturing business. In 1831 the Virebent brothers, sons of Toulouse’s chief architect, registered a patent that would revolutionise the manufacture and delivery of building facades and the business was born. Then in 1924 the family opened the ‘Porcelaine du Lot Virebent’ factory in Puy L’Évêque which produced electrical isolators, door handles, finger plates and porcelain bottle stoppers. With the rise of the use of plastic they had to change direction and move towards table-wear and decorative items. In the last decade or so ‘Virebent’ have been responsible for developing contemporary and innovative designs. They’ve collaborated with numerous artists (including Fabrice Hybert and Olivier Gagnere). They export their products to the United States, Northern Europe and Japan through specialist table-wear shops. Virebent Porcelain is officially an ‘Enterprise du Patrimoine Vivant’ (EPV) meaning a ‘Living Heritage Company’ meaning it utilises a combination of traditional craftsmanship and industrial excellence. You can find out more and shop on their on-line store at www.virebent.com

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018




e dernier mardi de chaque mois, la foire de Lalbenque était un évènement exceptionnel. A tel point que certains élèves de l’école primaire étaient dispensés de cours en ce jour faste. Dès les premières heures du matin les activités débutaient fiévreusement. Le village était investi dans sa totalité. La rue principale était le premier endroit ou l’on voyait s’agiter les commerces ambulants. Il n’y avait pas assez de place pour tout le monde. Les étals et autres étalages s’étiraient de la Bascule au Mercadiol. Toutes sortes de marchandises participaient au déballage : vêtements, chaussures, produits agricoles, bazar, en tout genre, pâtisseries, fruits et légumes, … Dès le matin la foule était nombreuse, mais l’aprèsmidi, c’était véritablement la cohue, et il était parfois difficile de se frayer un passage dans la rue principale. Outre l’effervescence de la Place, d’autres endroits abritaient certaines activités. Sur le Sol, se tenait le marché à la volaille, aux œufs, aux lapins, et la saison venue, celui des oies et des canards. Sur le Fajal, c’était le foirail rempli de bovins en tout genre d’un bout à l’autre. Les marchands revêtus d’une sorte de blouse noire, un carnet à la main, se pressaient auprès des propriétaires dans l’espoir de conclure une bonne affaire. Au Mercadiol, là aussi, régnait une intense activité avec le commerce des brebis. Des claies étaient installées afin d’accueillir de nombreux ovins. Plus tard, dans les années soixante, ce lieu fut un sacré marché aux veaux qui périclita lui aussi. Cependant, plusieurs pôles attiraient le monde. L’étable de Marcel Sudrès qui regorgeait d’animaux, le garage Vinches et chez Rey, marchand de matériaux et d’engrais. C’était le début de l’utilisation des engrais et autre produits nouveaux, dont la promotion se faisait de bouche à oreille. Le garage Vinches, qui était l’occasion de faire le plein de carburant et d’exécuter les réparations des voitures, tracteurs et vélomoteurs. L’auberge Fournié, tenue par Mme Birou, lieu stratégique au nord du village, affichait complet. Il va sans dire que les fourneaux étaient chauffés à blanc, et la grande salle de restaurant remplie comme un œuf. Les vastes bâtiments servaient de refuge aux bestiaux arrivés la veille. En bas du village, il en était de même avec l’hôtel du Lion d’Or, ou madame Messal assurait les repas des nombreux clients aidée par du personnel de renfort pour le coup de feu.

Les magasins ne désemplissaient pas. Lalbenque comptait alors, trois boulangeries, trois boucheries, six épiceries. Les cinq cafés aussi étaient débordés, plus pour se retrouver que pour boire, c’était aussi un lieu ou l’on scellait les affaires. Vendre un bœuf ou une vache ou même une brebis était un gros évènement, il fallait bien arroser ça. L’argent gagné était plus facilement dépensé ce jour là, et puis l’euphorie des rencontres et le bain de foule inhabituels rendaient les choses plus faciles. Evidemment il y avait moins de voiture qu’aujourd’hui, aussi le stationnement ne posait pas de problème particulier. Les jours de foire étaient l’occasion de longs moments de palabres. C’est là que les nouvelles se propageaient. Les habitants des villages voisins ne manquaient pas de se retrouver en ce jour privilégié. Il y avait tant de choses à se dire depuis un mois ! La pression retombait en fin d’après-midi. Les forains remballaient leur marchandise et pliaient les tréteaux, les commerçants remettaient un peu d’ordre dans leurs boutiques, et commençaient à établir le bilan. La foire a-t-elle était bonne ? Les derniers clients désertaient les cafés et dans les auberges la vaisselle était rangée. Il était temps de prendre un peu de repos, la journée avait été rude. Très rapidement tout se vide, plus rien, le grand calme, celui des jours habituels normaux. Mais le village venait de vivre encore un grand jour, les visiteurs sont repartis heureux et satisfaits. Une grande journée mensuelle pleine d’humanité, une de ces journées dont les anciens ont la nostalgie. Le village avait une âme. Ces antiques foires venaient du fond des âges, et on peut penser que depuis fort longtemps, Lalbenque fut un endroit de forte tradition. Recherches par Guy Messal

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Now to the second of our towns in the Lot – Lalbenque


Lalbenque lies south of the Lot, in the Regional Natural Park of Causses de Quercy. 46230. It is perhaps most famously known for its truffle harvests. Quercy’s very own ‘black gold’ The presence of many dolmens (single chamber tombs from as early as 4000 BC), ancient Roman routes and intriguing gariottes (ancient, dry-stone shepherd huts) give a hint to the region’s long history. The Causses de Quercy, is a limestone plateau, and due to the scarcity of water people, historically, people gathered to share this precious resource at places such as wash-houses, with their angled- stone ‘papillons’, wells and animal watering holes, remains which are found all over the area. The surrounding area is rich with hiking-trails and walks and exploring on foot is highly recommended. The pilgrim trail of Les Chemins de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, passes through the region and Lalbenque is the home to the organisation that brings together volunteers to repair and maintain this famous trail Mille mains à la pâte pour le chemin de Compostelle -GR65. We shall be returning to see more of what their activities during 2018. Close to the town you can find the Les Phospatières de Cloup D’Aural. These ‘phosphate pits’, are open aired and more than 25 metres deep. The phosphate was mined at the end of the 19th century. Today this area is a great resource for palaeontologists who

explore the chasm’s deposits for its contain unique fossils. Here there’s evidence of an evolving world from up to 160 million years ago. It’s possible to visit and explore this historical site, guided or otherwise, and full

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Le Bistronome Lalbenque Café, Restaurant, Wine Bar

Varied themed evenings and live entertainment Great food in a friendly and lively atmosphere Please see our Facebook page for updates

Lunch: Monday to Saturday Dinner: Thursday to Saturday 89 Rue du marché aux truffes 46230 Lalbenque 05 65 31 64 31 Le Bistronome Lalbenque Recommended by the Lonely Planet

details of this as well as the areas many hiking routes can be found on the tourist office website. Whilst in Lalbenque do try to visit the 15th century, Église Saint-Quirin de Lalbenque which houses a truly magnificent gilded alter-piece. Last December a wonderful bronze sculpture of a truffler and his faithful dog was erected on the steps to the Mairie. This wonderful work was created at the Parisian workshop of Elisabeth Cibot and weighed 135 kg. So it was rather an event getting him, ceremoniously, sat in place. This enigmatic elderly truffler is a lasting memorial to the part played by truffles in the economy and culture of the area. When in the town you will find a selection of shops and places to eat, we would recommend that you call in and see Juan from Le Bistronome, a great caférestaurant-wine bar in the middle of town and which has a great reputation for food and its warm welcome. Juan seems to know how to throw a party! There is an organisation dedicated to the history of this town, see www.lesamisdelalbenque.com Tourist Office: www.lalbenque.net Photo credit and thanks to – Tourist Office, Marie-Christine LAPEYRE, Mairie, Philippe PARIAT

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local



Photo Credit Jean-Daniel Sudres.Hemis.Corbis

Lalbenque is officially recognised as a Site Remarquable du Goût, a distinction awarded to places of outstanding food heritage. The town is synonymous with the highly sort after Quercy BlackTruffles, produced in the chalky soil lying under the dwarf oaks of the region. What is a truffle? It’s actually the fruiting body of a Subterranean Ascomycete Fungus, and are ectomycorrhizal fungi and this means that it is found close to and are dependent upon tree roots. Hungry yet? Most things associated with the growing of this ‘black gold’ remain a mystery including exactly how they form in the ground (making predicting a harvest very difficult) and importantly just where they may be found. It’s rarely talked about: the local saying is that ‘the more you talk about truffles, the fewer you’ll find’. To be a successful truffle hunter requires an enduring passion as you typically have to wait for around 15 years to discover if a young truffle oak will produce! Truffle hunters use trained dogs and pigs to locate their precious crop. Hunters will know when to look in relation to the weather conditions that are likely to encourage their growth. The trick is to make sure your pig doesn’t eat its own weight-in-gold whilst hunting. Dogs are less likely to eat what they find. If you haven’t tasted truffle then it’s probably going to taste like nothing you’ve tasted before. Many people consider it an acquired taste. The originality of their flavour, their bizarre nature and scarcity ensure that they remain a luxury product with prices that often reaches e1000 per kilo. Local restaurants offer ‘truffle’ menus during the season and so a trip to see your market and enjoy a truffle-influenced meal, really should be on your winter ‘to-do’ list.

Slightly further away but still deep in Truffle Country one of our favourite restaurants, ‘L’Allee des Vignes’ in Cajarc will be holding Black Truffle Melanosporum Cooking Classes and Tasting Menus, the dates are dependent on the availability of the key ingredient. See their advert on this page, go to their website and sign up for their newsletter. If you are truly interested in truffles – here’s a chance to learn from a real master and get to taste truffles at their finest. The truffle market in Lalbenque is held on Tuesdays (2pm) from early December to early March and is attended by people from all over France and beyond. Restaurants send their buyers to discreetly purchase the very best on offer. The Tourist Office will have more details including details of any walking tours they may be arranging on Tuesday mornings – a real chance to find out more about this secret crop.

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Don’t let Christmas destroy a forest Reduce present packing – use ‘eco’ gift wrap, or alternatives such as making your own from scrap paper, newspaper, pre-used gift-wrap and recycle-able brown paper. Great Christmas Trees can be made from old wood and broken branches – decorated to look completely festive. We’d love to see a picture!

The ‘Green’ Bathroom Shelf Previously, we’ve looked at home-made household-cleaning products, saving both money and the environment.


ow it’s home-made cosmetics. Design your own products, avoid chemical-additives as well as nasties such as parabens, silicone, and indeed all ‘..ols’, ‘..hydes’ or ‘..amines’. Declutter and refresh your bathroom shelves. Home-made is achievable, you don’t need a degree in chemistry and you’ll know that there’s been no testing on animals. Some popular ingredients... Honey, a great ally of nature, softens, moisturises (skin and hair), heals and is an antibiotic – Aloe Vera, moisturises too – Beeswax is a salve (for skin and hair). It’s also anti-inflammatory, healing and antibacterial – Baking soda, works as a deodorant, exfoliator, toothpaste, and also as a stabiliser when making products. (Don’t overuse on teeth and hair) – White Clay, deep cleanses and removes impurities. It is a re-mineraliser and detoxifier and makes a great toothpaste. Essential oils: there are many and all have different properties; antiseptics, bactericides, deodorants, scents, stimulants. Here are some of the most common: Lavender – Ylang-Ylang – Mint – Lemon – Tea Tree – Rosemary (acts as a preservative) – Thyme – Chamomile – Palma Rosa (much less well-known): antibacterial and fungicidal, used as a deodorant: 1 drop under each armpit each morning, mixed with a little vegetable oil – will protect you from odours… and so many others. Vegetable oils: cold pressed, organic and 100% pure and natural. Examples include – Coconut oil (protective) – Castor oil (strengthening) – Jojoba oil – Sesame

oil – Wheat Germ oil (anti-aging) – Sweet Almond Oil (soothing and healing). Then there’s also argan, shea, avocado, sunflower and even olive oil - you just have to choose. Any vegetable oil is nourishing thanks to its fatty acids which strengthen both skin and hair. Remember, that whether it’s for the skin, teeth or hair the most natural solution is the most effective. There are many recipes on the internet and specialist magazines. Simple rules to start with – • Keep your hands, utensils and work area clean. • Keep all your ingredients airtight and out of the light. • Homemade products are usually kept for a maximum of a month, so make small quantities. • For storage – glass or cosmetic container that’s been cleaned. Here are some simple products you can make: Soap: For skin, a bar or liquid pure soap, chosen to suit your skin. The classic Marseille soap is great but, for sensitive skin Aleppo soap is best. Both of these can also be used for hair. Or, grate pure soap and mix it with one or two drops of lavender oil, add to water to make a shower gel. Toothpaste: 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate, 3 tablespoons of white clay and 5 drops of the essential oil of mint or lemon. Wet a toothbrush and dab it into the prepared powder. Alternate the use of bicarbonate with a plant powder, such as iris, fennel, thyme and oregano. Hair: Shampoo (we’ve tested this in the office). Melt in a saucepan 50 g of surfactant (such as that derived from biodegradable coconut oil), 8g of boiled

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


water, 5g of vegetable butter (e.g. shea butter), 8g of vegetable powder (e.g nettle) 8g of vegetable oil (choose according to the needs of your scalp). Remove from the heat and add a few drops of an essential oil and a few drops of natural preservative (e.g grapefruit seed extract). Place the mixture in a silicone mould and let it harden in the refrigerator for several hours. The result is a solid shampoo. Or, try this simple ‘old-fashioned’ recipe: beat 2 egg yolks with 2 teaspoons of rum. Massage your skull with the mixture for a few minutes to cleanse your hair. Hair: Conditioner rinse your hair with a little applecider vinegar mixed with an infusion of rosemary for brunettes, chamomile for blondes, or hibiscus for chestnuts and redheads. Body Cream: can be prepared from 50 ml of mixed oils, 1 tablespoon of beeswax, 1 tablespoon of rose water or lavender water (homemade) and 10 drops of essential oil, this will nourish and feed your skin.

Alpagas Vallée du Lot We have a herd of over 60 alpacas and a farm shop stocked with a wide range of alpaca products. Come and have a look at our amazing alpacas and have a browse through the luxuriously soft alpaca products in our shop.

Cleansers: any vegetable oil applied to a tissue will moisturise skin and remove makeup, but you can also enhance this oil with marigolds petals which are infused for 2 weeks and then filtered. Or a cleansing milk can be made by mixing 100 ml of oil, 2 teaspoons of beeswax, 60 ml of flower-water, 2 teaspoons of glycerine and 20 drops essential oil. Make Up: It would be hard to do without any makeup completely so consider recipes based on beeswax and food colouring. An ‘edible’ blusher: Cinnamon powder + paprika powder + cocoa powder. Mascara: 2 teaspoons of coconut oil + 4 teaspoons of Aloe Vera gel, ½ teaspoon of beeswax + 1 to 2 capsules of activated charcoal for a black mascara, or cocoa for a brown mascara. You can even make a mascara with almonds by burning them completely, reducing them to powder + a few drops of castor oil and liquid honey. Lipstick: with 3 tablespoons of oil + 2 teaspoons of beeswax + 4 drops essential oil and powdered spices: cinnamon, paprika or beetroot (the same preparation, without the coloured spices, can be used to make a lip balm) Men: how about a return to a traditional, nondisposable razor and a good soap and brush? Quickly and cheaply you can prepare some great home-made products. The ingredients can be found on-line. Making your own means you can adapt your products to exactly suit your needs. We would love to hear about your results. by Valérie Rousseau

Dita & Willem Alblas Moudoulens 47140 Tremons GPS: 44.427031 0.875518 tel: 06 31 52 40 47 / 06 85 85 10 54 sunsetalpacastud@gmail.com www.alpagasvalleedulot.com Alpagas Vallée du Lot / Sunsetestate Alpaca Stud

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Crèche Grandeur Nature Weekend of 9th & 10th Dec & Sat 16th – 31st Dec 2pm – 6pm

Organised by L’association de sauvegarde du patrimoine Nazairien with a life-size crib and santons (painted, terracotta figures). St Nazaire de Valentane (82190) Eglise de Mongaudon - 06 30 26 68 34


Sat 16th Dec to TALES FOR YOUNG EARS from 10am . ears e littl for 12noon. Gentle musical tales , Read and directed by Hélène Julia. Free open to all who like to listen to stories. Lauzerte (82110) - Mediatheque Pierre Sourbié: 05 63 94 70 03


The Great Festive Evening Sat 9th Dec

A great evening with: dinner, stories, stories and songs. Torchlight walk through the village. During the afternoon a creative afternoon making decorations and torches, traditional games. Bouloc (82110), Salle des Fêtes Ass; Reservation: 05 63 95 74 25 The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local


Ice-Rink ~ Cahors

The 600m2 ice-rink will be open for 3 weeks, from Sat Dec 16, 2017 to Sun, Jan 7, 2018

Café & Restaurant

D’Family & Co

Emergency numbers

New Year’s Eve – Come andDoctor 3966 welcome in 2018 Out of hours Medical Help/SAMU 15

A great evening of celebration with a specially Police/Police Nationale (Gendarmerie) 17 prepared menu, music and dancing. Fire & Accident/Sapeurs Pompiers 18 Come and celebrate right in the SOS – All Services (calling from avillage! mobile) 112 heart of this lovely Booking Required Child in Danger (child protection) 119 Missing Child Restaurant D’Family & Co

116 000

Place de la Marie, 46700 Duravel 05 65 35 29 43

Open every day from 6am (closed Wed. evening)

A Christmas village will be set up around there rink with chalets to house local artisans. The will be entertainments arranged all day in association with the businesses of the town. ALLÉES FÉNELON, 46000 CAHORS

Villefranche du Périgord Christmas Market 9am - 5pm, Sat 23rd Dec

In La Place de la Halle, with Father Christmas. Artisan Stalls, Gift Ideas. Catering, Cake Sale. There will be a Gospel Concert, with ‘Gospel Divas’ at 11.30am, children’s entertainments from 10.30am. Organised by ‘Les Festifs‘Franchois’

Published March, May, July, September and December each year The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018


Forget Strasbourg, visit Flaugnac Christmas Markets are an old Nordic tradition. But they’re a growing favourite in France also. Strasbourg‘s Christmas Market is the event that all markets aspire to, it has over a million and a half visitors! Not to be out-done, the village of Flaugnac (46170) was the first place to start to hold a Christmas market. This year it’s their 21st anniversary. There’s was the first Christmas Market in the Lot and the (then) Midi-Pyrenees. There are festive market stalls where you can find everything related to Christmas, ideal for shopping and with plenty of activities for children (large and small). This event is hugely important to the village and is well worth supporting.

Sat. 9th (2pm -7pm) and Sun. 10th (10am – 7pm) Dec. 2017. Free Entry.

The Quercy Local • December 2017-February 2018 Please support our advertisers and tell them you saw their advert in The Quercy Local

Holiday home rentals in Quercy and surrounding areas since 1986 Quality proper�es of all types always sought - Free appraisal Benefit from Global marke�ng : Compe��ve commission Contact us for a no obliga�on discussion +44 1 46 03 02 00

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The Quercy Local Issue 32 Dec 2017 - Feb 2018  

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

The Quercy Local Issue 32 Dec 2017 - Feb 2018  

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