Serge the llama becomes an internet sensation After being “liberated” from a local circus and taken for a night out in Bordeaux, Serge the llama has become an internet star! >> Page 4
Dordogne December 2013 - Issue #6
UK set to axe expat Winter Fuel Payments The Winter Fuel Payment, received by British pensioners living in France, will be scrapped from 2015. Under a new “temperature test”, France is now considered too hot to be eligible for the payment. mons earlier this year, Osborne explained how the government planned to get around paying the allowance to expat pensioners: “We will link the Winter Fuel Payment to a temperature test. People in hot countries will no longer get it; it is after all a payment for winter fuel. Paying out even more money to people from all nationalities who may have worked in this country years ago but no longer live here is not a fair use of the nation’s cash.” Whilst many would agree that those living in tropical climates should possibly not receive the WFP at the British taxpayer’s expense, those of us living in France may question whether it really is that “hot” here. After all, as this is being written in midNovember, much of France is covered by a carpet of snow! As details of the chancellor’s “temperature test”
NEWS - Baby found living in boot of car
Mechanics at a garage made the shocking discovery of what appeared to be a baby living in the boot of a woman’s car >> Page 3
FEATURE - The history of Santa Clause
We take a look at the origins of Santa Clause, where his traditional image came from and how the French celebrate Xmas >> Pages 12 & 13
NEWS - Asterix heads to Scotland
In his latest adventure, the indomitable Gaul heads north for an adventure in Scotland with the Picts >> Page 14
© 2006 - cap21photo (Flickr)
he British c h a n c e l l o r, George Osborne, has announced that pensioners living in “hot” countries will no longer receive the Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) from the winter of 2015. Until recently, only those who gained entitlement to the annual payment before they left the UK could claim it from abroad, but an EU ruling last year meant that anyone who is able to prove a “genuine and sufficient link to the UK” now qualifies for the WFP when they reach pension age. As claims flooded in from across Europe, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, was irate: “We will fight these ridiculous EU rules. It is ludicrous we could have to pay more pensioners living in hot countries,” he said at the time. In a statement to the Com-
INSIDE > > >
>> continued on page 6
A couple have won a landmark ruling against a wind farm which must now be taken down >> Page 9
Develop a habit that saves you money!
WHAT’S ON - Events in December
2 pages of events to enjoy this month from across the region. >> Pages 21-22
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2 ♦ IN THIS EDITION
his may be the sixth edition of our new Dordogne edition, but we have just printed the fiftieth edition of our Limousin edition. If I were playing cricket for England I would be raising my bat to the balcony at this point (and I’d also be England’s highest scorer, but let’s not dwell on The Ashes first Test calamity!!) There have been a few standing 8-counts along the way, if you’ll allow me to mix my metaphors, but we’ve stayed on our feet and I’m very proud of what we have achieved. It won’t be long until we are celebrating our 50th edition in the Dordogne!! ****** The British government chose an unwise time to unveil their “temperature test” which they have used as a reason not to award the Winter Fuel Payment to British pensioners living in France (see pages
1 and 6). As I was reading about how “hot” France was, the snow was falling in midNovember and my kids were in the garden making snowmen. I understand that times are tough and the government is on a spending squeeze, but it does not make sense to tell anyone who has lived through a winter in France, with the possible exception of parts of the south coast, that it is significantly warmer here than ‘back home’ in January. The savings are not even that significant: tens of millions from an overall WFP budget of a few billion! My politics may be changing as I get older, but I do think it would make more sense to means test the allowance in some way. What is the point of giving two hundred quid a year to Lord Sugar to help him keep Jack Frost from the door? There must be more pensioners living in the UK with sixfigure incomes than there are pensioners living abroad and claiming the WFP...? For me,
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
that would be a more sensible place to start, but then maybe that’s why I have a paper round and not a seat in parliament! I was watching my children playing in the snow and pelting each other with snowballs - fortunately their aim is not up to much yet! - and it made me nostalgic for my youth. I honestly now can’t remember the point at which snow stopped being the most exciting thing in the world and turned into a logistical pain in the proverbial. Snow used to be the perfect present: no school and unlimited fun. I would spend hours outside building, playing, throwing, kicking... nowadays my first thought is about de-icing the car! I also have a theory about the temperature of snow: I think snow gets colder as you get older. My eldest came in the other day after a mammoth session outside (she had practically cleared the lawn of snow and built her own mini version of the Terracotta Army). I suddenly realised just how long she had been out there and the bad parent alarm went off in my head - she was only wearing thin woollen gloves. I grabbed her hands to warm them up... and they were hot. Not just not cold, but actually hot! After 5 minutes of clearing the snow off my car my hands are freezing, but now that I think about it, we used to put an old pair of socks over our hands, head down the
park and spend all afternoon up to our elbows in snow. I don’t recall suffering frostbite at any point... Hmm, I’m worried I might sound like I’m auditioning for Grumpy Old Men. What the hell, I’ve just thought of another gripe! “I have a good idea, Daddy. Why don’t I ask Father Christmas for [insert expensive product from sparkly advert]?” Four years old and my daughter is already a willing victim of the marketing companies. Paint it pink and call it princess and she will want anything. OK, I’ll stop complaining now I promise. All that remains is for me to wish all of our readers a very Happy Christmas!! Until next month! Steve Martindale, Editor
INSIDE this edition 3-5 Local News 6-12 & 14 National News 12-13 Feature 15 French Life 16 Practical 17 Bilingual 18 Letters to the Editor 19-20 Directory 21 Games 22-24 What's On
CONTACT us Tel: 05.55.41.17.76 General: email@example.com Advertising (EN): firstname.lastname@example.org Publicité (FR): email@example.com Subscriptions: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Steve Martindale Write to: The Bugle Les Quatre Chemins 23150 St-Yrieix-les-Bois France
LOCAL NEWS ♦ 3
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
echanics at a garage in Te r r a s s o n made a horrific discovery this month when they were alerted to “bizarre noises, like moans” coming from the boot of a car they were working on. They opened it to discover a baby girl, who was naked, lying in her own excrement, dehydrated and feverish. More worryingly, the child's mother, who lives in the nearby village of Brignac-la-Plaine (Corrèze), did not initially see the problem. Guillaume Iguacel, the mechanic who found the girl, told news agency AFP that he was still reeling from the discovery. “We were deeply shocked because she didn't find this abnormal. We told her to remove the little girl [from the boot] and give her something to drink right away. I'm still having trouble sleeping, it was a horrifying sight,
seeing this little girl in her own excrement, not able to hold up her head, white as a sheet.” The girl was taken to hospital where doctors said she was suffering from delayed growth and mental problems. The baby's mother and her partner, who are both Portuguese, have been arrested and charged with child abuse and endangering a minor - crimes that could lead to a 10-year prison sentence if they are convicted. As more details of the case became apparent, it is now believed that the baby may have lived its entire life in the boot of the car. The mother allegedly told police that she had given birth in secret and hidden the baby’s existence from everyone, including her partner, the girl’s father. Speaking through his lawyer, the father denied any knowledge of the baby, claiming that until
he lost his job as a stonemason, he would regularly leave the house at 6am, not returning until 6pm, and does not hold a driving licence. He therefore claimed not to use the car. During a press conference, state prosecutor Jean-Pierre Laffite said: “The infant isn't the right size or weight for her age. She is suffering from significant developmental delays. It appears she was hidden from all points of view - family members, neighbours and the authorities - apparently since birth. It's a situation that defies belief.” The couple have 3 other children, aged between four and 10, who despite being described as happy and well looked after, have been taken into care. In Brignac-la-Plaine, a village of around 900 people, the couple's neighbours could not believe what had happened.
Marine Le Pen visits the Dordogne
s the recession in Europe has worsened in the last few years and times have become increasingly hard, far-right parties have been picking up support in many countries. France is no exception and one department in particular has proved a fertile area for right-wing thinking... the Dordogne. In the 2002 presidential elections, 12.2% of the Dordogne voted for the Front National (FN) - by 2012 this figure had risen to over 17%. With municipal and European elections on the horizon in 2014, the FN’s charismatic leader, Marine Le Pen, recently visited the department to rally her troops. It was the first time that a serving leader of the FN had visited the Dordogne, with Le Pen giving a press conference and meeting local FN politicians in Bergerac. The choice of Bergerac was significant as it is an area where the FN’s popularity has been steadily growing for 20 years, reaching record levels in some wine-producing villages near the city. As it turned out, the Louis Delluc hall chosen for the meeting was too small to hold the 600
people that arrived to hear what Marine Le Pen had to say. She did not disappoint the crowds, sticking to her core themes of exiting the euro, immigration and the rise of insecurity, telling them that “today we will create tremors across the Périgord, but particularly Bergerac”. On the anniversary of the death of France’s iconic leader, Charles de Gaulle, Le Pen took the opportunity to attack the centre-right UMP party who she accused of “betraying the vision of De Gaulle”. Marine Le Pen and her Front National party, now the third biggest party in French politics, have been making waves in recent years. Although the FN always enjoyed moderate support under her father, JeanMarie Le Pen, it was the twice-divorced lawyer that turned around the party’s fortunes when she took over the reins. Le Pen senior was a political firebrand, always outspoken, often accused of outright racism and even of Holocaust denial. Over the years he has complained about the number of black players in the French football team and called the Holocaust a mere “detail” in
World War II. Le Pen junior uses less inflammatory rhetoric than her father and, while still appealing to far-right voters, is also now attracting those closer to the centre of politics who are unhappy with the 2 main parties, the UMP and President Hollande’s Socialist Party. Her visit did not go without incident, with about 350 peaceful protesters displaying their opposition to what they called the racist, xenophobic and discriminatory policies of the FN. The small crowd had gathered under the banner “On mange tous des bananes” - “we all eat bananas” - a reference to French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who has been the victim of a series of racial slurs from the right-wing in recent months. These attacks include her appearance on the cover of the right-wing monthly, Minute, which compared France’s most prominent black politician to a monkey and a photo-montage posted by AnneSophie Leclere, a member of the FN, showing Taubira alongside a baby monkey which was posted on her Facebook page. ■
© France3 (screenshot)
Baby found living in boot of car
“They are just like everyone else, educated, no dirtier than you and me. At their house, which I have visited several times, it is the same. I can't believe it because we all thought, as did the family apparently, that they had three children, not four.
We would have seen her pregnancy!” None of the neighbours ever reported seeing a pram or even hearing a baby's cries. “Thinking about it, this summer, she did put covers over the back of the car, as you would to protect a child
from the sun,” said one neighbour. “Besides that, I've never seen a baby seat in the car, although I recall that in August the husband thoroughly washed the car with a Kärcher. I've been here three years and I've never seen him do that before.” ■
4 ♦ LOCAL NEWS
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
Serge the llama: internet sensation
s the rest of France protested about tax hikes, five youngsters in Bordeaux found an unusual way to lighten the nation’s mood this month: they stole a llama from a circus and took it for a night out. A member of a Franco-Italian circus, the llama, known by all as ‘Serge’, was earlier this month taken on a tram ride through Bordeaux in the early hours of the morning. Initially, the circus manager, John Beautour, made a complaint against the youngsters, who had just left a nearby nightclub and were drunk when they stole the llama. After Serge's tour, normal service was brought to a halt and several trams were evacuated. Transport officials were called and the llama was put back under lock and key; the five teenagers escaped, doubtless hoping to avoid the same fate. However, after a huge internet response, which resulted in Serge becoming an internet star in the process, Beautour
withdrew his complaint. “If there had been disruption as a result of the llama's escapade, I'd have had to cover my back, but, as it is, I take back my previous comments.” The five Bordelais youngsters had originally intended to steal a zebra, but, as Beautour explained, “zebras are difficult to manoeuvre”. Other circus animals were also released by the five youngsters although none managed to make a break for freedom. The singer Serge Lama, after whom this llama was named, was particularly amused by the events: “Well, you can't say I don't have young fans anymore,” he told Le Parisien. However, Serge the llama is also set to become a music sensation in his own right. The popular song “Papoutai” (“Daddy where are you?”) by Stromae has been adapted to “Oukilémonlama” (“Where's my llama gone?”). And with over 2 million views on YouTube, llama-mania won't be stopping anytime soon. ■ Amaryllis Barton
Dordogne family win €5 million lottery jackpot A family from the Dordogne, who wish to remain anonymous, have won a whopping €5 million on the French national lottery. The lucky ticket, which was bought from the Auberge des Tilleuls in Javerlhac, near Nontron, is the fourth biggest win ever in the Dordogne. It is believed that the family played the same numbers each week using birthdays. The largest ever jackpot won in the Dordogne remains the €11 million won in Mussidan last January. ■
Meningitis outbreak near Sarlat worries health officials Three cases of meningitis C have been reported in the Sarlat area in as many weeks, causing fears of a wider outbreak. The regional health authority (ARS) has launched an investigation to see if the cases are linked in any way. Two cases were reported within a week of each other - an eight-
month-old baby and a female council worker - adding to that of a 19-year-old diagnosed at the beginning of November. Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and the most common cause is a viral infection. Meningitis can be life-threatening due to the inflammation’s proximity to the brain. ■
Restos du Coeur charity launches winter campaign The charity Restos du Coeur has launched its winter campaign in the Dordogne and across the rest of France. The charity’s 66,000 volunteers will be serving food boxes until March from 2069 points across the country. Last year the association helped 960,000 people and served 130 million meals and it estimates that this year it will help over 1 million people. On a local level, there has also been a significant increase in demand for the charity. “We have gone from 1,695 adults registered to 2,207 in the space of 2 years,” explained Liberto Iguacel, the departmental head. Last year, 500 tonnes of food with a value of €650,000 were distributed across the department. ■
LOCAL NEWS ♦ 5
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
CSF fund-raising event a success!
upporters of Cancer Support France in Saint-Pardouxla-Rivière (24479) turned out in force for a grand dinner dance on Friday 8th November. The venue was the highly renowned Hôtel de France, with a live band to dance them through into the wee small hours of Saturday. Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière is a pretty little Dordogne town with a big heart, close to the Haute-Vienne and Charente borders. The “rivière” here is the Dronne. Back in springtime, a local expat, Linda Kelly, came up with an idea for a fun and fund-raising soirée to create some cash for charity. Linda was saddened to see so many friends stricken by cancer and wanted to do something practical to help. “Maybe it’s to do with the age we are but so many people we know have been victims of cancer. Sometimes we have even lost them to cancer. I just feel I’ve been so lucky, I’d like to be able to give something back,” explained Linda. With only the vaguest plan in her head at this stage, Linda went to a charity auction held at La Charrue near VieuxMareuil. She had heard that a band gig was being auctioned and decided that was a good place to start. Linda came away with a big smile and the promise of an evening’s gig. Unfortunately it turned out that due to a previous engagement the band she’d “bought” were unable to play on the set date. They did, however, recommend Oui-3, whose lead sing-
er, Colleen, had suffered from cancer. Linda approached the group and they agreed to provide the music for the event. Linda then met up with Heather Swan, an experienced CSF fund-raiser. Heather explained how she was part of a little offshoot from the Ribérac branch of Cancer Support France, doing fund-raising closer to home in Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière. Heather outlined what CSF does. “CSF aims to give practical support, encouragement, non-medical advice and information to cancer sufferers and their families. Sometimes all that people need is just a sympathetic listener at the end of a phone line, maybe just a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes it’s something more practical. The difference between CSF and the French La Ligue contre le cancer is that CSF is for anglophones. All CSF’s support activity is done in English. It’s ideal for Dutch, German and Danish patients too, who are often more comfortable with English than French. Nationality doesn’t matter.” CSF has recently struck a partnership with La Ligue contre le cancer to be able to use their literature translated into English to help close that frightening communication gap for anglophones. Heather also told Linda how her local branch of CSF raised €4,000 last year and funded a “douche au lit” for the hospital at Soyaux where many local cancer sufferers are treated in the new clinical centre near Angoulême. This astonishing piece of equipment enables a sick person,
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who is not well enough to use the ordinary shower facilities, to take a refreshing, comforting and morale-boosting shower in bed! CSF plans to continue to provide more equipment for essential care and comforts for cancer patients in the New Year. Whilst provided by CSF, this equipment is intended, of course, to serve all patients, not just English speakers. Having learned all this, Linda got cracking. She went down to the Hôtel de France on Saint-Pardoux’s main street and spoke to Bamby and Béatrice, the Cibot sisters who run the hotel. They were fired with enthusiasm and designed a 5-course dinner at a price to enable Linda to make a generous donation to CSF. With a Hôtel de France dinner in prospect, tickets went fast and all 75 covers sold out within days. Another local lady, Jenny Hinchcliffe, who is a CSFtrained active listener suggested a bourriche-style raffle. When Linda and Heather explained their aims to ten prominent local businesses, they all proved very generous and provided superbly attractive goods and highly valuable
services, including hairdos, nails, fine dining, jewellery, flower arranging, a visit to see retired police horses followed up by a cream tea, toiletries… the list goes on. Well-wishers offered wines, spirits and lots of other original and desirable prizes. On Friday afternoon, a gang of French and British volunteers turned up to lend a hand to help set up and dress up the Hôtel de France. That evening, the crowd of French and British guests,
including Maurice Combeau, mayor of Saint-Pardoux, tucked into a wonderful dinner, serenaded by Oui-3. Hardly had the stunning dessert been cleared away when the band really got the bopping going, playing the dancers’ favourites from the 1960s to today. It was the early hours of Saturday before the happy and exhausted party broke up. A quick totting-up of the tickets, bourriche, cash pledges and a heroic spon-
sored shave showed a whopping donation to CSF funds of €2,000. “I can’t believe it,” said Linda. “So much money for such a good cause, and so much fun, too. We are so grateful to all those who contributed and all those who bought tickets. We may never meet the people who use the equipment we are funding but that’s not important. It’s good just to know that we are able to do something to help.” ■ Brian Hinchcliffe
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6 ♦ NATIONAL NEWS
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
Winter Fuel Payments to be removed emerged, it would appear that pensioners living in France may be justifiably angry at the decision to label this country “hot”. Under the test, the WFP will be withdrawn from pensioners living in countries where the average winter temperature is considered higher than the warmest area of the UK - the south-west of England. This seems like a fair test, but the government’s own data suggests that under this rule, pensioners living in France would qualify. An examination of the raw data used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which was provided by the University of East Anglia, shows clearly that the average winter temperature of France and Corsica is 5.08°C, while the south-west of England is 5.6°C. When pressed, the DWP later admitted that it had included France’s overseas departments (départements d’outre-mer DOMs). These far-flung places, inhabited by roughly 30 UK pensioners, include tropical islands such as Guadeloupe, Martinique and La Réunion as well as French Guyana in South America, where average annual temperatures are in the mid-20s. By adding these locations, the average temperature of “France” nudges above that of Cornwall. Brian Cave, of Pensioners Debout and www.votes-for-expatbrits.com, said: “It’s clear that the DWP added in the DOMs figures for France, because the university did not include them. I find that scientifically dishonest and a corruption of the figures to suit their ends. Spain has the largest number of WFP claimants with France next, and they made sure those two countries were removed.” The government defended its use of the data on the grounds that the DOMs are considered part of France - and therefore the EU - and that British pensioners
© 2006 - Richard Slessor (WikiCommons)
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living there can claim the WFP. An e-petition protesting against the new “temperature test” has so far gathered over 14,000 signatures (http://epetitions.direct. gov.uk/petitions/52121). As the petition has more than 10,000 signatures, it received an official government response: The Government remains committed to protecting key support for older people for the life of this Parliament, in line with Coalition Agreement. Winter Fuel Payments are noncontributory and were originally introduced to give older people in the UK the reassurance they can keep warm during cold weather. However, following a European Court judgment, Winter Fuel Payments are now also made to eligible people living outside the UK in another European Economic Area (EEA) Member State and Switzerland. To help return to the original
policy intention, the Government intends to bring in an eligibility criterion, effective from winter 2015/16, based on country of residence with Winter Fuel Payments going only to eligible people living in EEA countries with colder climates. The latest available statistics show that Britain paid about £3.1 million in Winter Fuel Payments to expats in France in the winter of 2011-12, the largest amount after Spain where almost £6 million was paid out. Both figures are small when compared to the estimated total cost to the government of £2 billion. Rubbing salt into the wound, figures have emerged showing that hundreds of MPs have together claimed a total of £200,000 on expenses to pay their energy bills, with some politicians claiming up to £6,000 each for gas and electricity in their second homes. ■
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FN protests disrupt Remembrance Day The 11th of November is a day of remembrance in France as in Britain, yet it is a day President Hollande will surely want to forget this year. 70 protestors were arrested as the president made his annual speech in Paris and calls were made for Hollande to resign. Armistice celebrations at the Elysée Palace were brought to a halt as protestors, many of whom were far-right activists, booed the president, citing the eco tax, rising levels of unemployment and the malaise of the French economy as their major concerns. Cries of “socialist dictator” and “we don't want your law” could be heard as the protestors tussled with police.
Members of the Front National (FN) were confirmed among the protestors. Later in the day, Marine Le Pen, leader of the FN condemned what she termed the “arbitrary arrests” of many protestors. Le Pen had little support, however. Over 1,300,000 French people lost their lives in the First World War and politicians were quick to condemn the actions of the protestors. “Today on the Champs-Elysées, several dozen individuals linked to the far right ... did not want to respect this moment of contemplation and gathering,” commented Interior Minister Manuel Valls. ■ Amaryllis Barton
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NATIONAL NEWS ♦ 7
8 ♦ NATIONAL NEWS
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
Mass protests against planned eco-tax
© Screenshot - ER_Bretagne (YouTube)
he aptly named place de la Résistance in Quimper, Brittany was this month the centre of public violence, protest and revolt in what is becoming a winter of discontent for President Hollande. Around 15,000 workers from farming and fishing unions bearing red and white Breton flags came together to protest against the newly imposed eco-tax. Minister of Finance Jean-Marc Ayrault had predicted a “spiral of violence” when the highly unpopular tax was introduced, but even he could not have predicted the historic response to the measure. The eco-tax is set to be imposed on all HGVs weighing over 3.5 tonnes. Such vehicles will be equipped with an onboard computer which will calculate the amount of eco-tax payable to state coffers. The aim is reduce the carbon footprint of freight transport on French roads, specifically on a 15,000km road network identified by transport ministers. Of course, this tax is just one more nail in the coffin for the French economy; France has paid an extra 30 billion euros in taxes this year alone. The government had hoped to take the sting out of the tax by delaying its introduction until January 2014. Once again, however, Hollande, who now has the lowest popularity ratings since records began, misjudged the public response. To make matters worse, even Hollande's ex-partner and mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal, voiced support for the protestors. The promised delay did not deter protestors from launching stones and flowerpots at police, or even from starting fires and setting up barricades at eco-tax boundaries. Police responded with tear gas and water hoses in the latest episodes of protest which are taking a bitter turn against government policies; in October a protestor's hand was torn off by a police tear gas canister. One Breton protestor, a chicken farmer from Rosporden, claimed he was taking
part in such violent protests because he had “nothing left to lose”. “It's up to us to take the initiative now,” he said, since increasing travel costs could put him, and others like him, out of a job. “If I fall, I won't be alone,” he concluded. And indeed the violence spread to surrounding areas as other regions became aware of the tax's implications. In Lanrodec (Côtes-d'Armor), on the road linking Saint-Brieuc to
Brest, protestors marked the historical relevance of their anger by wearing red caps, which originally were the symbol of the protests against Louis XIV tax hikes in the 17th century. The protestors set fire to the eco-tax boundaries, setting alight bins and car tyres in an attempt to melt the structures' supports. Further north in Avesnessur-Helpe, a fire at an eco-tax boundary put a Route Natio-
nale out of action. In addition, over 45 speed cameras were damaged across the north-west of France. As the violence escalated, the leaders of the protest claimed they were “ready to talk” with Ayrault, who spoke of the need for a “dialogue” with protestors; Ayrault even offered a “future pact with the Breton region”. Significantly, however, this meeting was held with the region's prefect, Patrick Stro-
zda; no member of the government was actually present. Protestors claim the tax will be Hollande's “cemetery”, while government ministers hastily assured the public the problem is one of communication. Even though the tax has been “suspended for the time being”, with Le Monde saying its application will be postponed until next summer, public discontent is set to stay. ■ Amaryllis Barton
Commentary - What does this mean for France? November has been a month of reckoning for France and for French politics. The country has been named the “sick man of Europe” by commentators across the continent in the wake of the downgrading of the French economy from AA+ to AA by Standard and Poor's. In itself, this downgrading is likely to have little effect; two years ago, France was downgraded from AAA rating, as Britain has been. However, France's latest move to AA is a damning indictment of Hollande's leadership: in a statement, the credit ratings agency directly attributed the downgrade to Hollande's taxation reforms. Hollande was elected on a tidal wave of opposition to austerity, but as a result of the demands of the EU deficit reduction commission, Hollande has been forced to re-think. With cabbages blocking roads at the end of October, red-bonneted protestors taking to the street in November, and, to add insult to injury, Hollande's ex-partner coming out against him, the president's political capital couldn't be lower. Thus, with several successive u-turns in a month, Hollande really has nowhere left to turn. Whilst the eco-tax riots are hugely concerning from a political perspective, they represent just one of the poorly conceived taxation measures Hollande has attempted to introduce. At the other end of the spectrum, there is the 75% tax on incomes above 1 million euros. Although receiving popular support (89% of Le Figaro readers were in favour of it), this tax has had little effect other than to infuriate French football clubs. Hollande has essentially found himself introducing either popular but ineffective taxes, or implementing potentially useful taxes which are immensely unpopular. It seems the president can do nothing right. The eco-tax would have brought in approximately €1 billion which will now have to be found elsewhere. In addition, the government wasted around 800 million euros on equipment to implement the eco-tax. French taxpayers will have to dig deep to find this money as taxes are imposed in other less controversial ways. It will be all Hollande can do to stop “revolt turning into revolution”, suggests Marine Le Pen, who is arguably one of the few winners from this turbulent affair. ■ Amaryllis Barton
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n what could prove to be a landmark ruling, a Belgian couple living in northern France have won a legal battle to have 10 wind turbines taken down because they spoil the “bucolic and rustic” view from their home. In a judgement which could have widespread implication across Europe, Erik and Ingrid Wallecan successfully argued that the 100-metre-high structures were ruining their quality of life. Judges in Montpellier ruled that the turbines’ location blighted the countryside, causing the “total disfigurement of a bucolic and rustic landscape”. Besides “spoiling the view”, they noted both the “groaning and whistling” and “unsightliness of white and red flashing lights”. The owners of the wind farm, La Compagnie du Vent (The Wind Company), a subsidiary of the energy giant GDF Suez, have been ordered to pay the Wallecans €37,500 in damages and to remove the wind farm within four months or face a fine of €500 per day per turbine. La Compagnie du Vent said it would appeal the judgement. Erik Wallecan, a retired vet bought the Château de Flers in the Pas-de-Calais department in 1996 with his wife Ingrid. At the time, the château was run down and the couple spent a decade restoring the listed building and 42 acres of land to its former glory. They also transformed part of the building into a guesthouse. In 2007, they were horrified to discover that their view had been blighted by the construction of 10 wind turbines. “The first evening when we arrived in the château after their construction, it was a firework display; we wondered where
these lights were coming from. We were not even aware that these (wind) projects existed,” Mrs Wallecan told Le Monde. “Every day we have to suffer the visual and noise pollution. I can see the turbines from everywhere in the castle, from every room,” added Mr Wallecan. “People are often too scared to take action and suffer in silence,” said Philippe Bodereau, Mr Wallecan’s lawyer. “Today we are saying non: justice has been done and this shows all those who suffer wind farms with a sense of powerlessness that the fight is not vain, that one can have one’s life respected - one’s right to peace.” The couple's victory has not been welcomed by everyone locally, however, with Jean-Luc Faÿ, mayor of a group of villages including the château, saying that each turbine represented €12,000 a year for the community. This money, he said, has helped to fund a new swimming pool and sports hall, but that “due to two people, there is a knife under the throat of an area of 6,700 inhabitants”. Supporters of wind farms have said opponents are exaggerating the impact of turbines and are opposed to progress. “We accept the presence of telephone emitters, electricity lines and pylons, water towers, grain silos,” the Federation of Wind Energy said. “Some windmills have now been classified as historic monuments... Why not one day wind turbines as well?” There have been a number of high-profile protests against planned wind farms in recent years as the government pushes on with plans to reduce its dependence on nuclear power and shift towards renew-
Commuters find novel way to learn English
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any bored commuters try to put a positive spin on their lengthy journey in and out of work each day by claiming, “I don't mind, it's a bit of me time” or “It's great, I get to read so much more these days”. To those of us who no longer take the 05:53 into Waterloo every morning this often sounds like the kind of statement that would make even a government spin doctor blush! A group of French commuters, however, are signing up to a novel way of filling their time on the rails travelling to and from Paris, with English lessons taking the place of texting,
snoozing and snoring in specially created “classrooms” on SNCF carriages. The scheme, which is currently being piloted on two test routes, is aimed at regular commuters travelling to and from the capital who want to make better use of the “dead” time while on the train. “It’s much more constructive than having a weekly two-hour lesson,” said businessman Jérôme, who has signed up for 40 lessons at a cost of €690. “Doing it four times a week means I will be learning a lot of new vocabulary that I can put to use as soon as I get to the office,” he told Europe 1 radio. Committed commuters try their best to ignore the passing scenery and their snoring compatriots as they take their classes in small groups of three sat around a table with their teacher. Despite being a practical use of time, public lessons do have one drawback: “Sometimes you get a bit scared of sounding like an idiot in front of all the other travellers,” admitted one student. The courses are run by SpeakWrite English-language school and come in two options: an intensive “Locomotion” course of forty 45-minute classes, and the more relaxed “On Track”, comprised of thirty 60-minute sessions. ■
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Couple in wind farm victory I
able energy sources. France has pledged to triple its number of wind turbines by 2020; there are currently 4,000 turbines spread across 1,127 sites. In August, a French court banned a local council from erecting turbines near the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey in Normandy, after Unesco warned their construction could cost France’s most visited provincial tourist site its World Heritage status.
A plan to build a vast offshore wind farm within view of several Normandy D-Day beaches has also been condemned as “an insult to the memory of the thousands who died there”. In 2012, angry villagers from Ferrières-Poussarou, in the Hérault department of southwestern France, held their mayor hostage for a day and a night after learning of his plans to build 10 new turbines in their commune. ■
10 ♦ NATIONAL NEWS
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German firm guilty over faulty implants
court in the southern city of Toulon has ruled that TUV Rheinland, the safety standards firm which certified sub-standard breast implants sold by French company PIP, had “neglected its duties of checking and vigilance” and ordered it to pay compensation to victims. Six implant distributors and 1,700 women had sued TUV Rheinland for €50 million, arguing that anything but a cursory inspection would have uncovered the problems with the implants. Following their victory, the plaintiffs in the civil case will be given an initial payment of €3,000 per victim which the court estimated should cover the costs of surgery to have the implants removed. Individual medical and financial assessments will now be conducted on each plaintiff which could result in further compensation payouts. Only when these assessments are finished will TUV Rheinland know the exact sum to it will be liable for. The company said it was “shocked” by the decision and is appealing the ruling. A number of French and British women were among the plaintiffs, although it is thought the majority came from South America. The legal action against TUV Rheinland is the women’s only chance of financial compensation as PIP is no longer solvent. Following the most recent ruling, it is expected that the door is now open to many more compensation claims against the German company. PIP, which at the height of its powers was the world's third biggest supplier of breast implants, is accused of cutting costs for over a decade by using an illegal concoction of industrial and agricultural silicone not fit for use on humans. At around €5 per litre, it was seven times cheaper than medicalgrade silicone - a costcutting measure that saved the company millions of euros per year. The scandal emerged after surgeons warned authorities there was an abnormally high rupture rate among PIP implants. Gendarmes searching the business in southern France then found cans of industrial silicone in a
van. Soon afterwards, the company was closed and its products taken off the market. When Mr Mas was finally arrested, he denied that the implants posed any health risks, calling the women who complained “fragile people, or people who are doing this for money”. An estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries are believed to have received the implants, which are twice as likely to rupture as other brands - more than 4,000 women have reported ruptures. In France, the health ministry has advised all 30,000 women with implants to remove them and is footing the bill. In Britain, of the 47,000 women who received the implants, only those those issued by NHS doctors are being replaced for free. Previously, the then Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, told private clinics that they had a moral obligation to do the same. PIP's founder JeanClaude Mas is on trial for “aggravated fraud” in a separate case, along with 4 of his former senior
staff. It is one of the biggest court cases in French legal history - over 5,000 victims have joined the action against the former French cosmetic implant manufacturer, and are being represented by about 300 lawyers. A ruling on the case is expected in December. Jan Spivey, a British woman who received PIP implants as part of reconstructive surgery following breast cancer in 2002, told the BBC she was
“delighted” with the ruling. “Of course TUV has some responsibility and should be held to account. They're the organisation that gives the CE certification for safety, and that was what my surgeon relied on when he gave the implants to me. Anybody that gives safety certification for a product that is going to make women very sick does have responsibility.” During the trial, the court heard that a PIP em-
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ployee in charge of quality control had only a cooking diploma; another in charge of the lab had previously trained as a pastry chef. Lawyers for TUV Rhein-
land had argued that it was never the German firm's job to check the@ actual implants, and their task was only to inspect the manufacturing process. ■
France's cosmetics and plastic surgery industry is among the biggest in Europe. An estimated 21,000 breast augmentations are carried out each year and between 400,000 and 500,000 women in France currently have breast implants - the most popular cosmetic operation after liposuction and anti-wrinkle procedures. A study in 2009 found that although French women are the slimmest in western Europe, they also have the biggest complexes about their bodies and the toughest standards on weight.
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France through to World Cup
rance will join England at next year's World Cup in Rio de Janeiro following their dramatic win against the Ukraine in a playoff match. Beating the Ukraine 3-0 in Paris, France became the first European team in history to overturn a 2-0 first-leg play-off deficit. “It's the magic of football!” said manager Didier Deschamps. “Four days ago we were very bad but the players responded well. It was important for French football to be in Brazil. When we've got the ingredients we can do great things.” Coming into the match knowing that only a near-perfect display would do, the 1998 World Cup champions and 2006 runners-up, had plenty of pressure on their shoulders. Almost 90 per cent of respondents to a poll in Le Parisien had expected France to crash out of qualifying. But ninety minutes later, the country was celebrating as two goals from Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho either side of a controversial Karim Benzema goal earned France a thrilling victory that will live long in the memory. Ukrainian supporters will argue that Benzema's goal was scored from an offside position, and it was. French supporters will say that justice was done, pointing to the goal that was disallowed a few minutes earlier when the Real Madrid striker looked to be onside.
Two-goal star Mamadou Sakho insisted he was no hero after his brace helped to send France to the World Cup finals. “There's pure happiness and we've written a page in French football history with this,” the 23-year-old said. “A lot of people didn't believe in us but there were also plenty who did. I don't see myself as a hero; the team was the hero in this one. I'd never previously scored a double in my career! We're going
Brangelina Nouveau voted world’s best rosé
in English and “fully dressed as an Englishman” if les Bleus won. Sure enough, he turned up for work the next day sporting “British” and a comedy accent. MP Philippe Gosselin came to the French National Assembly wearing flip-flops as he had promised and Cyril Hanouna, host of the French TV show Touche pas à mon poste! (Don't touch my television!) dyed his hair blond. No one came close to
France, especially compared with positive steps made in smaller, weaker countries such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece, “makes it ever more obvious that France is Europe’s real problem”. ■
© 2006 - cap21photo (Flickr)
Château Miraval Rosé 2012, the wine produced by Hollywood’s first couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, has been voted the world’s best rosé. The wine, cultivated at the couple’s 1,200-acre vineyard at their estate in Provence, was ranked 84th in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year and is the first rosé to ever make the top 100. According to the magazine, the rosé is both “refined and elegant, offering pure and concentrated flavours of dried red berry, tangerine and melon. The focused finish features flint and spice notes, with a hint of cream”. When the first bottles of Château Miraval went on sale earlier this year, all of the 6,000 bottles that were released sold out within an impressive five hours. ■
French economy downgraded again
to Brazil and we have to take on board the lessons from all of our matches, not just this one.” So unlikely was it that France would be boarding the plane to Brazil, a number of celebrities had made rash promises, although to their credit, most of them followed through. Antoine de Caunes, the host of the French TV show Le Grand Journal on Canal +, announced live on air that he would present his show
France has been hit by a second downgrade by ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) in two years, this time down to AA from AA+. S&P directly attacked Hollande’s economic policies, questioning the socialist government’s capacity to repair the country’s stuttering economy. The agency noted that “high unemployment is weakening support for further significant fiscal and structural policy measures”. Unemployment is currently around 11%, with 3.29 million people out of work, an all-time high. Holger Schmieding, chief economist in London for the German bank Berenberg, said the lack of progress in
Paris cafés favour the beautiful
Former waitresses at a restaurant run by Thierry and Gilbert Costes have confirmed what many have long suspected: that trendy Parisian restaurants have a policy of seating “ugly” people out of sight and moving the “beautiful” diners to the front of the restaurant. The Costes group run a number of establishments across the capital including Georges, in the Pompidou Centre, and Café Marly, overlooking the Louvre.
“The good-looking ones are led to the good places, where they can be easily seen,” the waitresses told Le Canard enchaîné, an investigative and satirical weekly. “As for the non good-looking ones, it is imperative that they be dispatched to the corners of the room.” They also claimed that failing to obey these rules would result in reprimands such as: “What are these ugly mugs doing at this table? Everyone can see them when they come in. It’s very bad for our image.” ■
Man jailed over fake wines
A man has been jailed at a court in Bordeaux for selling
Doria Tillier, Le Grand Journal's weather forecaster, however, who promised she would present the following day's forecast “à poil” - naked - if the team won! Viewers were initially disappointed to discover that the following day's forecast was presented from the town of “Poil” in central France, although there did follow a longdistance shot of the presenter running across a field wearing nothing but her boots and a smile! ■
fake bottles of Mouton Rothschild wine on eBay. The scam, involving bottles which featured labels that “were very likely forged in China”, was exposed thanks to a Europe-wide investigation by specialist officers working for six different police forces. It is the latest in a long line of recent convictions for wine fraud, and according to unofficial industry estimates quoted by Sud Ouest newspaper, counterfeit wine accounts for some 20 per cent of all international sales. Also in November, Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundy winemaker and famed forgery hunter, estimated that 80 per cent of auctioned wines allegedly coming from Burgundy’s most prestigious domains, including his own, are fakes. ■
Hollande's popularity at record low
After hitting a record low approval rating of 26% in October, President François Hollande's popularity has plunged to new depths this month, with just 15% of the public supporting the Socialist leader. The poll, conducted for the Huffington Post and i>TELE, asked how respondents judged Hollande's actions as president. The results were damning: just three per cent of respondents to the survey said they had a very positive opinion, while 12 per cent said it was positive. Seventy-six per cent said they had a somewhat negative or very negative opinion; 9 per cent would not comment. The poll put unemployment at the top of their concerns (36%), well ahead of taxes (13%) and immigration (9%). ■
12 ♦ FEATURE
France’s Festive traditions Present giving
French children traditionally leave their shoes in front of the fireplace on la veille de Noël (Christmas Eve) before they go to bed. Père Noël (Father Christmas) visits them while they sleep and if they have been good leaves presents in and around the shoes. In northern and eastern France, there is a parallel tradition which celebrates Saint Nicolas on December 6th (see the story of St Nicholas opposite for more details). Adults traditionally wait until le jour de l’ An (New Year’s Day) to exchange gifts, although, increasingly, families are exchanging gifts on Christmas Day.
Festive traditions An important aspect of Christmas in France is the Nativité (Nativity) with its crèche (manger) and santons (figurines). The latter are often hand-made and passed down through the generations. Mistletoe is hung above the door and is considered to bring for good fortune. Note that it does not have the ‘kissing’ connotations of other countries! The sapin de Noël (Christmas tree) is not as important in France as, for example, in the UK, but it does still form part of the Christmas celebrations. Christmas trees are decorated a few days before Christmas and Père Noël will often leave sweets and treats on its branches in addition to the present in the children’s shoes. Unique to Lyon is the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights), where every house in the city will place a candle in their windows, producing a spectacular effect. The celebration usually lasts four days, culminating on the 8th December.
The most important Christmas event in France is la Messe de minuit (midnight Mass) followed by the eating of a meal known as the réveillon de Noël (from the verb réveiller, to ‘wake up’ or ‘revive’). Although fewer and fewer French attend midnight Mass, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families. The réveillon represents a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth and is one of the most important meals of the year. Traditionally the réveillon is a family affair and the meal is eaten immediately after midnight Mass at home or in a restaurant. The meal varies from region to region, but typically will involve seafood, followed by a cooked bird and the traditional bûche de Noël (Yule log). This cake is made from chocolate and chestnuts and represents the log burned from Christmas Eve until Epiphany in parts of France. The log-burning is itself based on an ancient pagan Gaul tradition of burning a log for the duration of the winter solstice.
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From Saint Nic Christmas - the
n looking for the historical roots of Santa Claus and Father Christmas, we must travel far back into the past. The modern incarnation of the benevolent Christmas-time present-giver is a combination of many different legends and mythical creatures. In fact, although very similar, Father Christmas and Santa Claus developed independently of one another into two very different legends and only in recent years have they become increasingly interchangeable. The basis for the modern day Father Christmas and Santa Claus lies in the story of Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna, a city located in what is now Turkey. Nicholas lived in the 4th century A.D. and was reputedly a very rich and generous man. There are a number of legends associated with Nicholas that resulted in his beatification (elevation to sainthood) and Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. One grisly legend (skip this paragraph if you are squeamish!) describes how a famine struck an island and an evil butcher tricked three young children into his shop where he butchered them and pickled them in a barrel, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas was visiting the island at the time, to help care for the hungry and saw through the butcher’s horrific crime. Using the power of prayer, Saint Nicholas is then believed to have resurrected the three boys from the barrel, a miracle that has contributed to his image as a lover of children. The most famous legend associated with Saint Nicholas involved a poor man with three daughters. Not having enough money, the man could not afford the dowries that would be required to marry his daughters off. The daughters were set to remain unmarried and condemned to work in the local brothel. Upon hearing of their plight, Saint Nicholas visited the man’s house under cover of darkness and, wishing to remain anonymous, threw three pouches filled with gold coins through the window - one dowry for each of the three daughters. Variations of this legend have Saint Nicholas visiting three separate times, as each daughter came of age, and on finding the window locked on one occasion, he is fabled to have dropped the pouch of coins down the chimney. This legend contributed to his image as a benevolent and secret gift-giver and is the basis for the modern traditions in which Father Christmas delivers presents down the chimney. Based on the stories of his help for the poor, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of, amongst other things, pawnbrokers; the three gold balls traditionally hung outside a pawnshop symbolize the three sacks of gold. The Orthodox Church later raised Saint Nicholas, miracle worker, to a position of great esteem. It was in his honour that Russia’s oldest church, for example, was built. For its part, the Roman Catholic Church honoured Saint Nicholas as one who helped children and the poor and Saint Nicholas also became the patron saint of children.
Saint-Sylvestre - 1st January
Santa Claus as depicted by Nast in illustratio
French New Year is celebrated with a feast called the réveillon de SaintSylvestre. On New Year’s Day friends and family exchange good wishes and sometimes gifts. The president also uses Saint-Sylvestre to make his annual address to the nation.
Epiphanie - 6th January The final celebration of the festive season in France is Épiphanie (Epiphany) on the 6th January. The tradition on this day revolves around the eating of a special cake known as the galette des Rois (literally ‘cake of the kings’). A small figurine or fève is placed inside the cake. The cake is cut into pieces and distributed by a child, known as le petit roi, or l’enfant soleil. Whoever receives the piece of the cake with the gift inside is declared King or Queen for the day and gets to choose a partner.
An 1886 image of the Germanic god Odin Saint Nicholas died on 6th December 330 A.D. and this date has become his feast day. Across much of Europe, this is the day when children receive anonymous gifts, a bigger day than Christmas Day. The most prominent incarnation of Saint Nicholas in this gift-giving respect is the Sinterklaas of Holland and Belgium. In the days leading up to Sinterklaasavond (the
evening of 5th December), children will leave a shoe in front of the fire containing a carrot or some straw for Sinterklaas’ horse. In return, the children will wake to find a small gift in their shoes, often speculoos biscuits or a bag of chocolate coins. On the evening of the 5th, or the morning of the 6th, children will find their shoes surrounded by presents. Whilst Sinterklaas clearly derives from Saint Nicholas and his feast-day of 6th December, he differs from the earlier portrayals of Saint Nicholas in a number of ways, not least in his flying white horse. These differences are usually explained as a result of the legends of Saint Nicholas being fused in the medieval period in mainland Europe with those of the former pagan god Wodan (the Norse Odin, who did possess a flying horse). Santa Claus Sinterklaas was brought to New York in the 17th century by the Dutch settlers that founded New Am-
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cholas to Father history of Santa advertising campaign in the 1930’s, but the myth that Coca-Cola invented Santa Claus is not true. However, they did help cement this modern image of him in the public’s mind. Father Christmas Although the names Father Christmas and Santa Claus are virtually interchangeable these days, Father Christmas has his roots elsewhere. Modern day Father Christmas first appeared in a 15th century carol as Sir Christmas. He was subsequently known and Old Christmas and Captain Christmas. The most significant difference is that he was a Yuletide, or Christmas, visitor and not a present-giver. In the 19th century Father Christmas benefited from the general Victorian revival of Christmas traditions and famously made an appearance in Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ as Christmas Present. From the late 1800s, as cultural exchanges with America increased, Father Christmas took on more and more of the characteristics of Santa Claus, both in terms of his actions (he adopted some reindeer and started giving gifts) and his appearance as a large, bearded man in a red suit. Santa’s Helpers In all the myths surrounding Sinterklaas, Santa Claus and Father Christmas, he always has his helpers. The Norse god Odin had two huge, black ravens that kept him informed of what was going on and some say these form the basis of Santa’s helpers. Saint Nicholas is said to have liberated an Ethiopian boy named Peter from slavery and the boy was said to have been so grateful he decided to stay with Saint Nicholas as a helper. Another story has Saint Nicholas rescuing three Moorish boys from execution for a crime they didn’t commit. These stories almost certainly explain the origins of Sinterklaas’ helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). He is represented as a boy with a blackened face, said to be due to the fact that he climbs down chimneys helping Sinterklaas. Zwarte Piet is understandably a controversial figure in these times due to the fact that he has his roots in slavery and has been described as a “racialised tradition”. Children will often ‘black up’ their faces to portray him, another custom which people are finding increasingly distasteful. Historically, there has only ever been one Zwarte Piet. Following the liberation of Holland in the Second World War, however, the Canadians were organising Sinterklaas celebrations in the newly liberated country and, not fully understanding the traditions, they decided that multiple Zwarte Piets would be more fun. This seemed to stick and these days Sinterklaas has one Zwarte Piet for each of his tasks, much like Santa’s elves.
CHRISTMAS VOCAB Advent l’Avent angel un ange candle une chandelle Christmas Noël Christmas card une carte de Noël Christmas carol un noël, un chant de Noël Christmas Day le jour de Noël Christmas Eve dinner le réveillon de Noël Christmas Eve la veille de Noël Christmas party la fête de Noël Christmas present un petit noël, un cadeau de Noël Christmas tree le sapin / l’arbre de Noël Epiphany, Twelfth Night la fête des Rois Father Christmas le père Noël figurine in a Nativity un santon game un jouet manger la crèche Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! midnight Mass la Messe de minuit mistletoe le gui New Year’s Day le jour de l’An New Year’s Eve la Saint-Sylvestre New Year’s Eve dinner le réveillon du Nouvel An present un cadeau reindeer un renne ribbon un ruban sleigh un traîneau snow la neige snowball une boule de neige snowman un bonhomme de neige stuffed animal une peluche toy un jouet white Christmas Noël sous la neige Yule log la bûche de Noël
Festive Joke!! A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. “But why?” they asked, as they moved off. “Because if there’s one thing I can’t stand,” he said, “it’s chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”
Douce nuit - Silent Night
ons for the poem ‘A Night Before Christmas’ sterdam (later to become New York). Over the years, a more secular version of Saint Nicholas emerged: the day of celebration was moved to Christmas; the imagery changed; the reindeer replaced the horse. In general, the traditions became much less religious and more secular. This Dutch-American incarnation of Saint Nicholas achieved his fully Americanised form in the 1823 poem, A Visit From Saint Nicholas, by writer Clement Clarke Moore, a poem more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas. In this poem, the eight reindeer (presumably an evolution of the eight-legged horse ridden by the Norse god Odin) were given their names. Moore describes the saint not as a bishop in a red cape, as in Holland, but as a fat man dressed in fur, driving his reindeer sleigh. Illustrating Moore’s poem in the 1860s, Thomas Nast used the colloquial Dutch ‘Santa Claus’ rather than the formal ‘St Nicholas’ and dressed him in a belted jacket and furry cap. This is the image of Santa Claus that has endured. Coca-Cola did use the image created by Nast in an
Douce nuit is the French version of Silent Night and is sung to the same tune. The English translation given below is the literal translation of the lyrics of the French version, which are quite different to those of Silent Night.
Modern-day Sinterklaas with his helper Zwarte Piet There is also a darker side to the Christmas tradition. “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake”. Zwarte Piet carries a sack that is full of sweets for the ‘good’ children, but also a bunch of willow branches that are supposedly used to beat the ‘bad’ children! If they have been especially bad, they will be put into the bag and taken back to Spain, where Sinterklaas spends the rest of the year! In France this character is known as Père Fouettard and traditionally dispenses coal/ floggings to the naughty children while Saint Nicolas gives gifts to the well-behaved. ■
Douce nuit, sainte nuit ! Dans les cieux ! L’astre luit. Le mystère annoncé s’accomplit. Cet enfant sur la paille endormit, C’est l’amour infini, C’est l’amour infini !
Sweet night, holy night! In the heavens the star shines. The foretold mystery comes true. This child sleeping on the hay, Is infinite love, Is infinite love!
Festive wordsearch hint!! If you are struggling with this month’s Festive Wordsearch on page 21 (clues are in English, answers are in French), then the vocab list above might help. A lot of the harder words are included and this list should help you complete the quiz. Alternatively, if you think your French is up to it, try without - no peeking!!
14 ♦ NATIONAL NEWS
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
Asterix the Gaul heads to Scotland in latest adventure
n the latest adventure featuring Asterix and Obelix, the indomitable Gaul is heading to Scotland for the first time. November saw the publication of five million copies of Asterix and the Picts, the 35th book in a series that started in 1959. Asterix and the Picts, released in 15 countries and 23 languages, including Scots and Gaelic, is the first of the series not written and illustrated by at least one of the series' creators, Alberto Uderzo and René Goscinny - it is the work of writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad. Goscinny died in 1977 and Uderzo, who is now 86, took over
the writing after his death before retiring 2 years ago. Although the story is based on real history, referring to the early Celtic people who inhabited ancient Scotland, as you might expect from the series, stereotypes abound with malt whisky, bagpipes, red hair and the Loch Ness Monster all taking centre stage. The book begins with a typically French scene as our heroes are searching for oysters on the beach when they find a tattooed, red-headed hulk frozen in a block of ice. He turns out to be Mac Oloch, a pict who has floated from “faraway” Scotland. As the local women take a shine
to the red-haired arrival, the men of the village are keen to help him get home. And so Asterix and Obelix accompany Mac Oloch up north to win back his loved one, Camomilla, from the wicked Mac Abbeh and of course also fight off the inevitable Roman invasion. Since the first adventure was published in 1959, 352 million copies have been sold, 130 million of them in France, and the series has been published in 110 languages and dialects. The release of the book coincides with the ongoing independence debate in Scotland ahead of next year's referendum, something that has not gone un-
noticed. “We are animated by an endorsement from such a prestigious character, but, as ever, we would have to check that he is registered to vote,” the “Yes Scotland” campaign said in a statement. For his part, new writer JeanYves Ferri has laughed off suggestions that Asterix is throwing his weight behind Scottish independence: “I went to Scotland to show the idea to the Scots. They were happy we thought about them and asked me 'Why Scotland?' And in particular they thought it was because of this referendum, when in fact not at all,” he told Reuters TV. ■
Mystery behind the Alderney ghost pig
he mystery of the “ghost pig of Alderney” may have been solved with the revelation that the beast could have swum across to the tiny Channel Island from mainland France. Tess Woodnutt, a farm owner on the island, said she first became aware of the boar in September, when she was on holiday and received a call from a fellow islander saying one of her 40 pigs had escaped. Her son Jake immediately went to the farm and soon established no pigs were missing and, after tracking the boar to a nearby farm, he managed to catch it on camera. “We put out some food and I hid
in a trailer and it came in to feed,” he said. “There’s no doubt it was a wild boar.” The 150kg mustachioed black animal only makes fleeting appearances at dusk leading locals to name it the “Ghost Pig”. Although many initially believed that the boar was an iron age pig, a cross-breed that has been historically farmed on the island, experts now believe this theory to be wrong. “Iron age pigs are a cross between a wild boar and a Tamworth,” explained Alan Woodnutt. “They look a bit like a wild boar but this animal was not the progeny of an iron age pig.” Steve Shaw, who was Alderney harbour
master for 25 years, said he did not believe it would be possible for a wild boar to get to the island by boat without the crew noticing, and he had never heard of a wild boar being found on any vessel. With Alderney lying only 11km off the coast of Normandy, where there are large numbers of sangliers, most now agree that the boar must have swum across from France. Boar are competent swimmers and will take to the water to escape if they feel threatened. Duty Inspector Kieran McGrath from Guernsey Police said islanders should contact them if they spotted the animal and
© 2012 - Cephas (WikiCommons)
should not approach it themselves, as any wild boar could be dangerous when cornered. ■
Mulled wine and tasty Christmas nibbles With the cold nights and Christmas just round the corner I thought I would share this wonderful mulled wine recipe with you, ideal if you have friends or family over for the festive period. A mulled wine recipe on its own just didn’t seem right, so I added a couple of recipes for some tasty pre-dinner nibbles.
Mulled wine 1 Bottle of red wine 1-2 Cinnamon sticks 5g Root ginger 5g Candied orange peel 7 Green cardamoms 12 Whole cloves 80g Demerara sugar 1 Orange, sliced For an extra kick add a dash of rum, vodka or cognac to finish (optional) Method 1. Put all the ingredients into a pan and heat until hot but not boiling, simmer gently for ten minutes, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. 2. Remove from the heat and leave for an hour or so to infuse. (Alternatively, you can make it the day before and leave it to infuse overnight.) 3. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean saucepan and heat gently. 4. Place a slice of the orange in your heatproof glass or cup, pour over the mulled wine and serve. 5. Add a dash of vodka, rum or cognac for that extra kick.
Parmesan and black pepper popcorn with Parma ham and sage A surprisingly tasty take on the traditional caramel or salty popcorn which has become a firm family favourite.
1 x 85g Packet of microwave popcorn 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated ½ tsp Coarsely ground black pepper 100g Parma ham, finely sliced 5-6 Sage leaves, finely sliced Method 1. Cook the popcorn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then remove any kernels that didn’t pop. 2. Mix all the ingredients through the warm popcorn and serve.
Smoked bacon rolypolies
For this recipe you can either make the pastry yourself or use pre-made pastry from the supermarket.
Recipe provided by Brett from Le Moulin du Breuil (23140 Pionnat) www.lemoulindubreuil.com - 05 55 80 37 70 For the pastry 250g Plain flour, plus extra for dusting 3 tsp Baking powder ½ tsp Salt 75g Unsalted butter, diced and cold, plus another 25g 200-250ml Semi-skimmed milk For the filling 250g smoked bacon lardons, finely sliced 1 Medium sized onion, finely diced 100g Cream cheese 100g Cheddar or Gruyère cheese, grated ½ Bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 Clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ gas mark 4 2. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, then rub in the 75g cold diced butter using your hands. 3. Add the milk gradually while mixing until just combined. Turn out the dough on to a floured surface and roll into a rectangle 1cm thick. 4. Melt the remaining 25g of butter in a saucepan. Brush the dough with the melted butter, spread the smoked lardons on top of the dough, leaving a 2cm edge on
one of the long sides of the dough. 5. Mix the onions, cheese, parsley and garlic together, spread evenly over the dough and lardons. 6. Brush the bare edge of the dough with water, and then roll into a spiral, sealing the edge brushed with water to the body of the roll. Wrap the roll in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. 7. Cut the roll into slices and place spiral side up on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden in colour.
FRENCH LIFE ♦ 15
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
In the garden - jobs for December
ho on earth knows what to do in the garden in December? The gardening magazines are full of lovely images, but the reality is much less romantic, in general! So much depends on your soil, the position of the garden, the trees in it, the altitude, the weather and of course... how much time you have available during daylight hours (so much less at this time of year for those of us who work). I wouldn't presume to give you any hard and fast pieces of advice, so the following are suggestions, which you can take or leave. Grass When to stop mowing depends so very much on the weather. Some years the grass carries on growing right the way through the winter, and other years it stops. Be prudent about mowing and, if you must, choose a dry afternoon and make sure the mower blade is set on a high setting or else you are liable to pull clumps out and end
by Michelle Pierce
up with a shorn, muddy patch! Leave some areas on the fringes of your garden longer, to shelter the littler members of the wildlife world. Garden waste A healthy garden naturally produces a lot of 'waste': mowings, weeds, leaves, unwanted seedlings, clumps which need dividing up every few years, old potting compost, etc., etc. Though I hate to admit it in public, I'm a terrible one for leaving clumps of prunings & weeds in untidy piles 'to be collected later', which can stretch rather a long time! In the meantime, things can find these piles a great place to hibernate, thus forcing me to wait until the hibernation period is over. My resolution this year is to move any such piles into places where they won't be problematic. Then the hedgehogs and other charmers can sleep in safety. Be prudent also about lighting bonfires where the material has hung around for a while, for the same reason. Most other things can go on the compost heap, and if it's not ready for use, this is a good
time of year to turn the heap. This speeds up decomposition and helps reactivate it. There should be a good layer of veg plants (tomatoes, courgettes, etc.) and annuals from the flower borders. Don't forget to add some chicken manure from your hens, or a kindly neighbour. This is really quite concentrated, so a little goes a long way - ideal for those of us with a bad back who don't fancy humping barrow loads of horse manure around. Protect the soil surface In advance of it getting cold, protect the soil with a layer of mulch, bracken, compost or manure. You can also just prune down perennials to about a foot high, and put the stems directly around the base of the plants. This gives a habitat to invertebrates and insects, and helps insulate the plants from the effect of cold. It can, of course, be composted in the late spring, when the weather has warmed up. Brambles These are such lovely rogues;
beautiful flowers, fruit, great for wildlife, but like all their ilk, they need to be controlled, and the winter is a good time to stop new canes touching the ground and rooting to form new plants. The new roots are quite fragile, and can be pulled up easily by hand, so just mosey on out into the garden with a pair of good gardening gloves and see where they are encroaching. Same with other members of the rubus family, and perennial weeds like nettles. Cut these back and put them on the compost heap (without the roots, of course). Weeding So far, round here, it has been really quite warm and humid, so the new crop of weed seedling are germinating and growing like crazy. Save yourself some work by hoeing them out small, or stifling them with a good mulch. Otherwise they'll have the advantage over you come the spring. If the weed seeds are germinating, then why not some veg seeds? Give it a go but be ready to whip a fleece over them. Cool loving species such
as mustards and oriental greens have sprouted for me in the last 2 weeks. Soon, more typical winter weather should arrive, leaving gardeners to admire the winter flowering shrubs, those with good stem colour, interesting leaves or good berries. These include hollies, willows and dogwoods, amongst others. Recently I went to a friend's house on a pouring wet Saturday afternoon and was just entranced by her garden - full of shrubs and trees of the most marvellous colours - buttery yellows of gingko biloba, fuchsia pinks of spindle, persian ironwoods... the list went on and on, against a backdrop of greens. Definitely made me green with jealousy, too! My New Year's resolution is to have more of these marvels in my own garden!!! Remember, if you can't find anything of interest in your garden over the winter, then something needs changing! Good gardening! ■
Just how charitable are charities...? Regular environment contributor, Arthur Smith from Harlequin Developments, considers why we are so squeamish about eating insects. He also looks at the response to the recent tragedy in the Philippines and asks what it says about today's charitable organisations.
ith an upcoming visit to Asia to look forward to, my thoughts have turned to the cuisine we’ll be reacquainted with. For a long time I’ve kept an open mind about eating insects, mainly because billions of people around the world have been eating them for a very, very long time. In fact, it pops up on a regular basis on news programmes that the future of protein for mankind is insects. It set me thinking about how funny it is which foods we recoil from. For example, we eat crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, but aren't they just fancy bugs? As I understand it, insects and crustaceans belong to the same group of creatures: arthropods. Something to bear in mind when you’re tucking into your seafood platters on Christmas Eve! ******** It seems to happen every year, nearly always at Christmas, that yet another natural disaster strikes somewhere in the world, at a time when we hope that things will be a bit more peaceful. To make matters worse, it is usually in areas that are the worst equipped to handle it.
The stories we’ve all seen on the television reports coming from the Philippines are truly heartbreaking. Images have been all over the news channels showing towns and cities torn into tiny pieces. They seem to appear with alarming regularity and once the fury of nature has been and gone, what's left could come from almost anywhere. Once again in November, the world was faced with a human catastrophe of epic proportions. Helplessly, we watch the harrowing TV footage, wondering if there is anything we can do, or contribute, to aid the rescue operation. Times may be tough, but here in France we are fortunate to live in a prosperous country, blessed by relatively benign weather. Our storms are tiny compared with those in Asia; it is little surprise that two-thirds of the estimated 1.3 million people killed by natural disasters in the first decade of this century lived on the Asian continent. Inevitably, the initial reaction of many people is to want to help in some way and send money to one of the charities working on the ground in terrible circumstances, bringing relief to the injured, homeless and starving.
Yet, as the multi-billion-pound aid industry appeals for more and more money, I increasingly think that with the desire of these giant organisations to display their logos in front of the world's massed media, they can sometimes do more harm than good. We have already seen examples of charities exaggerating the number of deaths and the gravity of disasters while raising money. Personally, it makes me question the approach of the aid industry, where the big players increasingly resemble corporate giants. These charities try to follow in the steps of Mother Teresa while their senior executives pocket six-figure salaries and preside over slick publicity machines. The truth is that this has become a highly competitive sector; why else, after all, are the charities so desperate to be first on the scene and get their names into news reports? With so many aid groups fighting to help the same people, there are inevitably logistical problems like bottlenecks at key entry points which overall hamper relief efforts. Incredibly, the locals, who are usually the people best placed to know what is needed on the ground, often get elbowed aside by the big global organisations. Also, crucially, very few in the relief industry admit how little money trickles down to those most in need - one expert suggested ten pence in every pound donated! After the recent disaster in Haiti, the country's prime minister said 40% of
aid received went on supporting those doling out donations. So what can we do to make sure those in need, such as the survivors of the typhoon in the Philippines, get proper help? Personally, I would only give money to an organisation whose core activity is emergency work, which doesn’t spend huge sums on fund-raising, which doesn’t overpay its executives, and which is open about the difficulties of delivery. Médecins Sans Frontières is one such body, it even limits fund-raising when it has raised enough after disasters. ******** Is it me, or are the Christmas decorations going up earlier here in France? I saw the first lights going up in early November this year, and I’m sure it was later last year. Methinks we need to keep an eye on this, it could be the start of Christmas creeping into November, and that’s just plain wrong! That’s about it for another year, they each seem to pass faster than the previous one. All that remains is to wish you and yours all that you would wish for yourself, and hope that 2014 brings you all that you hope for. ■ Arthur Smith Harlequin Developments www.harlequindevelopments.com Tel: 05.55.68.67.56 Mob: 06.06.60.46.97
16 ♦ PRACTICAL
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
Legal representation in France Lawyer Prune CALONNE explains the French legal system and gives you practical tips on how to ensure you get the best representation in France.
n “avocat” is a solicitor with a right of audience. He or she meets clients, gives legal advice, drafts contracts and letters (final notice), prepares cases for trials and pleads before French Courts and Tribunals. The French civil procedure code states that parties MUST be represented when the case is tried before the “Tribunal de Grande Instance”, (TGI - the French equivalent of the High Court for civil law matters) and the Court of Appeal. You have to seek representation amongst lawyers who are enrolled on the Bar Council list (“Ordre des Avocats”) at the local TGI. To find a lawyer, call the “Ordre des Avocats” who will inform you which local lawyers speak English. In theory and in accordance with this set of rules, you do not have to be represented by an “avocat” in any other procedure. However as a general practitioner, I would recommend that you seek legal help if you are involved in ANY lawsuit in France and even before any litigation is initiated, when you feel things are not quite right. The best lawsuit is a lawsuit that is avoided. Clients can pick the lawyer they wish. If you are involved in a lawsuit before the local TGI or Court of Appeal, the lawyer that you choose, if not enrolled at the Bar before the court where the case is tried, will have to take an “avocat postulant”, which is a lawyer who is enrolled at the Bar of the place where the lawsuit is taking place. Therefore you will have to pay
the main lawyer to handle your case and another as a spokesperson linking the Court to your main lawyer and vice versa. The latter will charge a lump sum (around €600/700 before the TGI, a bit more for the appeal procedure as it is more complex). To choose the right lawyer, I would advise you to ask friends and acquaintances if they can recommend anyone. If you know an English-speaking lawyer in France, keep them and they will decide if an “avocat postulant” is needed. If you do not know of any English-speaking lawyers, call the local Bar Council (“Ordre des Avocats”). Picking the lawyer that offers the cheapest rate can be tempting but beware of hidden extras not included in the price. The best way to find a competent English-speaking French lawyer you get along with (and putting aside the fear of the costs) is to call him or her and ask whether they speak English and what their fees are. If you are satisfied with their language skills and you made good contact on the phone ask for an appointment. If by the end of the appointment you are happy, you have found the right lawyer. If you are not satisfied, just ask to pay for the appointment and carry on looking. You have to be at ease because of what is at stake. Fees are freely fixed by the “avocat”. Discussing this with your lawyer is not a problem. Legal ethics state that lawyers’ fees may vary according to several criteria, such as the complexity of the case,
financial situation of the client, time spent on the case, etc. Note that the “no win no fee” rule does not apply in this country. If the case is lost, fees will be requested. If the ruling is to your advantage and sums are awarded, the “avocat” can ask for a retainer and a percentage of the amount. If you are reluctant to get legal advice or ask for representation because of not knowing how much it will cost, ask for a fees agreement to be signed beforehand. A percentage of lawyers’ fees may be covered by your home insurance. With this type of insurance, legal protection is often included. You should check that you have taken that option first. In this hypothesis, like in any other situation, you are FREE to choose the lawyer you wish. The insurance company CANNOT oblige you to choose a lawyer that they have agreements with, even if they tell you otherwise.
However, if the legal protection through the insurance covers some of the lawyers’ fees, it is likely that you will be asked for an additional amount. Lump sums paid by insurance policies are limited to a few hundred euros and are not enough to pay for your lawyer’s work. • Ethics demands that a fees agreement is signed if legal protection is used. • Legal protection only covers legal fees in case of a lawsuit. • One exception to this rule, divorce procedures! • It does not function for legal advice or for contract drafting.
are at ease with your lawyer. To achieve this, looking around is important and seems normal to British nationals. Please remember that counselling and representing Englishspeaking clients in France takes time, energy, dedication, language, legal skills and experience. Legal services are indeed services but with potentially significant consequences for you and your family so please think it through.
If your income is below a certain threshold, you may be entitled to legal aid (“aide juridictionnelle”).
For more information, please contact: Prune CALONNE, Avocat, 117 Route d’Albi, 31200 Toulouse Phone: 0033 (0)5 34 30 51 33 Email: scpcalonneadouedugast@ hotmail.fr
Finally, I have noticed a cultural difference between the French and the British. As mentioned previously, it is paramount that you
My firm can arrange appointments in CAHORS at our correspondent’s offices. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more details.
Tax Tips for French Residents
ith the e v e r changing worldwide economy, fluctuating stock markets and interest rates, it is not easy to keep track of what is happening and its effect on your money. However, there is one thing that it is certain – we all have to pay tax. The French taxation system is different to what you may be used to in the UK and there are some important facts to know if you are resident in France and, therefore, liable for French taxes. Siddalls have put together a quick guide to French tax to help you keep your tax liability to a minimum.
Tax tips for UK expatriates tax resident in France 1. On becoming French tax resident it is your responsibility to make yourself known to the tax authorities and to declare fully your income, capital gains and wealth. Once you have made your first tax return your local tax office will automatically send you a declaration in future years. 2. Take advantage of French tax free bank accounts for immediate access deposit funds. The main accounts are the Livret A (maximum holding €22,950 per person) and the Livret de Développement Durable (maximum hold-
ing €12,000 per person).
sets passing to children.
3. Take steps to place long-term investment funds in tax efficient structures to keep taxable income to a minimum. “Unsheltered” investment income is liable to income tax and “social taxes” and may also be liable to healthcare contributions, if you do not qualify for free access to the French system.
5. “Do as the French do”. They take active and sensible steps to avoid unnecessary taxation. Seek advice from a qualified financial adviser, fully authorised in France, who will have access to a range of solutions and products tailored to your specific circumstances and needs.
4. French inheritance tax may not be as bad as you fear. The allowances for assets passing to children may be lower than the UK but so are the rates. There are ways of reducing, and possibly removing, any liability to French inheritance tax on as-
Peter Wakelin is Regional Manager of Siddalls France, Independent Financial Adviser, specialised in tax, inheritance, pension and investment planning for the British community in the Limousin since 1996. Telephone 05 56 34 75 51 - Email email@example.com www. siddalls.fr
BILINGUAL ♦ 17
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
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Other services offered include: help with notaires, arranging new utilities (electricity etc), locating tradesmen, liaison with French administration etc. I can also be your French contact in France when you are away!
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Dreaming of a white Christmas
or many of us, snow is synonymous with Christmas. Songs, movies and Christmas cards all present images of a “white Christmas”, with a perfect carpet of snow on the ground. This is no different in the UK, where it is fair to say that we are obsessed with the idea of a “white Christmas” - in fact huge amounts of money are bet every year on whether or not it will snow on 25th December. For most parts of the United Kingdom, Christmas is right at the beginning of the period when it is likely to snow. Looking at history, the coldest weather is more likely to occur between January and March than in December. On average snow
falls on five days in December, compared to 7.6 days in January, 6.8 days in February and 6 days in March. White Christmases were more frequent in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially before the change of calendar in 1752 which effectively brought Christmas day forward by 12 days. Climate change has also brought higher average temperatures over land and sea and this generally means that there is less chance of a white Christmas today. So what exactly is a white Christmas? For many people, it means a complete covering of snow falling between midnight and midday on 25th December. However, the definition used most widely, notably by those
placing and taking bets, is for a single snowflake (perhaps among a mixed shower of rain and snow) to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25th December at a number of specified locations. Consequently, even 30cm of snow on the ground at Christmas is not considered as a white Christmas unless fresh snow falls on Christmas Day. Despite cold weather in the weeks before Christmas last year, 2012 was not a white Christmas in the UK. The last official white Christmas was 2010, but there is still time to place a bet for 2013. At the time of writing, Ladbrokes are offering odds of 5/1 for a white Christmas in London or Cardiff, 4/1 in Belfast and 7/2 in Edinburgh. ■
The Bugle thanks French teacher, Sophie Arsac, for the translation of this month's bilingual article on a topical aspect of FrancoBritish culture.
Bilingual Crossword Clues in English - answers in French
our beaucoup d’entre nous, la neige est synonyme de Noël. Les chants, les films, les cartes de vœux… tous offrent l’image d’un «Noël blanc», avec son tapis de neige qui recouvre parfaitement le sol. Il en va ainsi au Royaume-Uni où il faut bien avouer que nous sommes obnubilés par cette idée de «Noël blanc». Estce qu’il neigera le 25 décembre? Les paris vont bon train et de très importantes sommes d’argent sont mises en jeu chaque année. Sur la plus grande partie du territoire au Royaume-Uni, le jour de Noël coïncide quasiment avec l’arrivée de la neige car, si nous considérons le passé, le froid ne s’installe pas en décembre mais plutôt entre janvier et mars. La moyenne des jours de neige est de
cinq en décembre tandis qu’elle est de 7, 6 en janvier, 6.8 en février et 6 en mars. Les Noëls blancs étaient plus fréquents aux 18ème et 19ème siècles, notamment avant 1752. En effet, depuis le changement de calendrier, Noël est célébré douze jours plus tôt. Le changement climatique a également entraîné la hausse de la moyenne des températures sur terre et sur mer, ce qui amenuise désormais les chances d’avoir un Noël blanc. Alors qu’appelle t’on exactement un «Noël blanc» ? Certains pensent qu’il suffit que la neige du 25 décembre tombe entre minuit et midi et recouvre le sol. Cependant, une définition est plus répandue, notamment dans le milieu des bookmakers: il suffit
d’observer un seul flocon de neige, lors d’une pluie neigeuse par exemple, au cours des 24 heures que dure le 25 décembre et à partir de l’un des postes d’observation répartis sur le territoire. Noël est alors déclaré «blanc». Ce qui n’est pas le cas même si la neige recouvre le sol sur 30 cm mais qu’elle n’est pas tombée le jour même. Malgré les semaines de froid qui précédèrent le 25 décembre au Royaume-Uni, 2012 n’eut pas de Noël blanc dont la dernière apparition officielle date de 2010. Il est encore temps de faire un pari pour 2013. A l’heure où j’écris, la société de paris Ladbrokes a fixé des cotes de 5/1 pour Londres ou Cardiff, 4/1 pour Belfast et 7/2 pour Edimbourg. ■
5. Donkey (3) 6. Insect (7) 8. Feather (5) 9. April (5) 11. Minutes (7) 14. Wharfs (5) 15. Useful (5) 17. Shoulders (7) 18. Friend (3)
1. Uncle (5) 2. Years (3) 3. Napkin (9) 4. Tin (5) 7. Ambitious (9) 10. Wall (3) 12. Wasp (5) 13. Lead (5) 16. Sea (3)
Bilingual crossword solution can be found on page 21
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18 ♦ LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Legality of speed cameras? Steve Hudson Eymet By Email Dear Sir,
have just finished reading the November issue of your newspaper. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the read, it being informative, wonderfully balanced and well put together. It got me thinking about a matter that has infuriated me for years which is Front Facing Speed Cameras, as covered on page 4 (Twoway mobile speed cameras unveiled). Firstly, can I say I have no qualms regarding the traditional cameras which photograph the rear of a speeding vehicle but to photograph the front of an approaching vehicle to my mind contravenes the Human Rights Act. This may seem heavy handed but to quote from the act “Human rights are conceived as universal (the same for everyone)”.
These rights may exist in local, regional, national and international law. The key wording here is “the same for everyone”. This arguably can be construed as a law exempting one group from prosecution cannot be used to prosecute another group (the law should be balanced and fair, which I believe is an extract from somewhere in the act). Briefly with this in mind, Front Facing Cameras identify an offending vehicle by taking a photograph of the front number plate (or indeed the driver to confirm identification of the offender). A car (lorry or bus) must, by law, display a front number plate. A motorcycle, by the same law, does not have to display similar identification (also the rider and passenger have to wear a helmet, obscuring their features). There is no way that the same camera used to prosecute the driver of a car, etc. can be used to prosecute a motorcyclist. Hence the law is not balanced. There is of course the argument that
the cameras used in these new cars can be swivelled to catch the rear number plate of a speeding motorcycle but I have severe concerns that this facility is feasible, for many reasons. Just as a matter of interest, my concerns were aroused by a mobile camera in Lincolnshire where it was used on a motorway to photograph oncoming vehicles. The operator mentioned to me that motorcyclists would speed through often tens of miles an hour over the limit but were never prosecuted. Please do not think for one moment that I advocate speeding or any form of driving that falls below a reasonable standard and I am playing devil's advocate in writing this, it is just the unfairness of this system that concerns me and I await to see if anyone challenges this type of camera on these grounds. Regards,
Steve Hudson, Eymet
SEASONS GREETINGS TO ALL READERS OF THE BUGLE!! SUDOKU - EASY
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
IT Postbox - your computer questions answered With the help of Phil Monaghan from Mayday computer services, we are pleased to bring you the IT Postbox. If you have any computer-related questions you would like answered, send them in to email@example.com and our resident expert will do his best to get them answered. Hello Phil, I have a Toshiba laptop [Windows XP] which now has a vertical thin bright blue line 6cm in on the left side of my laptop screen with a 6cm thick vertical line [lighter in colour] attached to it, which can also be seen when online. Can these lines be removed or is my laptop screen on its way out? Kind regards Gillian Blades This is a classic sign of the display malfunctioning. However, it may stay like this for quite a long time before deteriorating further. I have also known situations where the problem has gone away! The cost of repair, around 150€, may get you thinking about investing in a new laptop. Hope that helps Gillian! My wife wants a tablet computer for Christmas but I’m confused as there are so many to choose from. Anon This is a huge subject and the choice of tablet should be driven by requirement first and price second. Establish what the user will want to do and create a list. Then check to see where any chosen product is positioned against the list. There are many cheaper tablets hitting the market and care should be taken in choosing in this area as poor performance can be the reason for lower pricing. The majority of Apps (applications) are designed for either Android or IOS. Android is the system used by Samsung, Kindle, Asus, for example, and IOS is used by Apple. In either case the choice and
quality of Apps is similar. The difference comes with how the different systems allow you to configure applications and presentation. Android is very open whereas IOS is quite regimented but both work very well in their own way for the user. I am moving into the area soon and will eventually order a broadband service. Can I use a 3G dongle in the meantime? A person in the Orange shop was very keen to sell me one of these and said that it can be used anywhere. Anon I think that Orange sales assistants must be on mega
commission for selling 3G dongles !!!! 3G dongles work by connecting to the mobile phone network and converting the signal into an internet connection for your computer. And so, the first thing you need to know is whether your new home has a 3G signal. Mobile phones display the network name and signal to which they are connected. E.g. Orange has the following connections available: Orange 3G, Orange E, and Orange F (Orange users may also see Connect F when out of range of an Orange service). If you can’t receive the 3G signal then life will be slow! Connection speeds below 3G are similar to speeds for dial-up. ■
Mayday computer services
Operating system support Application support Network support System security pc • mac • network Virus and Malware removal Call for friendly no-obligation assessment and advice Haute-Vienne & surrounding areas 05 55 68 47 33 06 82 26 31 54 siret 500 443 536 00015
SUDOKU - MEDIUM
The solutions to this month’s sudokus can be found on page 21
Phil Monaghan - firstname.lastname@example.org
SUDOKU - HARD
DIRECTORY ♦ 19
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
Your indispensable guide to finding local businesses & artisans Accommodation
Please mention The Bugle when responding to adverts
Animals & Pets
Self-catering gîte in the Limousin Sleeps 6-8 Prices from €250/week
05 55 41 17 76 Le Mécanique Anglais
The Linden House
30 years’ experience
Cats and Dogs Boarding Kennels
Purpose built kennels - dept 16. 45 years animal care experience. Fully insured and vet approved. Individual kennels plus family pens. Walking off lead twice daily.
Your advert here
Michael and Wendy Aldrich
05 45 66 14 62 Siret: 494 030 919 00018
05 55 41 17 76
05 55 41 17 76
Your advert here Building Services
Covering 24/16/87 - I can come to you
TEL: 05 53 62 50 46 www.masterplans.eu SIREN: 514 423 532
The English Mechanic
Please mention The Bugle when responding to adverts
Renovating your French property? New build? Dossiers prepared Permis de Construire Déclarations Préalables
Tel: 05 53 52 36 05 email@example.com www.latuspeter-architecturaldrawings-24.com SIRET: 493 770 358 00015
● All Makes & Models ● Repairs ● Servicing ● CT’s
● Specialist in: Vehicle Diagnostics and Auto Electrics
Architectural DRAWING SERVICE
We offer a comprehensive Architectural Drawing Service for your projects.
Supplying all the necessary drawings, elevations & photo realisations for your application. We also offer a floor plan service. Dossiers compiled for: ● Certificat d'urbanisme ● Déclaration préalable ● Permis de construire
05 55 80 72 83 / 06 33 07 29 72 firstname.lastname@example.org siret: 790 016 984 00011
For more information on advertising in the Bugle Business Directory, give us a call or send us an email: email@example.com
05 55 41 17 76
“SolarVenti”- the solar solution to damp and humidity
simple solar energy system that runs on its own, even when you are not there! – And provides a free heat supplement in winter. The Solarventi air panel was invented more than 20 years ago by Hans Jørgen Christensen, from Aidt Miljø, with the backing of the Danish government. He wanted to use the sun’s energy for airing and ventilation of the thousands of holiday homes on the West coast of Jutland, - houses that were left empty and unheated for long periods - houses with damp problems, mould and bad odours - houses that left their owners with discomfort, lots of work and expense. He wanted a system that would be safe, simple, without the need for radiators, water and/ or mains electricity. Slowly but surely, the first Solarventi
model came together. How it works The principle behind Solarventi is simple: a small, builtin, solar cell powers a 12V fan that is connected to an air vent, a control unit and an on/ off switch. Whenever the sun shines, the air in the solar panel is heated and the fan, receiving power from the solar cell, introduces warm, dry air into your home at the rate of 20 to 100 cubic metres per hour. The initial models were more than capable of keeping the cottages dry (and ventilated), even with the limited sunshine hours available in Denmark during the winter season. Since that time, the technology has really come along in leaps and bounds. Now, more than 20 years later, the 3rd and 4th
generation Solarventi have exceeded all expectations. In Southern Europe, Solarventi is not only used for ventilation/dehumidification purposes; with far more winter sunshine hours, it also provides a substantial heating supplement. Several technical and governmental studies show that incoming air temperature can be increased by as much as 40°C. A DIY Solution? The installation process is very straightforward and should only take two or three hours. All that is needed is a drill, hammer and chisel to make a hole in the wall. Roof installations are also possible. In fact, the Solarventi was originally designed to be a DIY product in Scandinavia it still is. There are no electrical or
water connections and it can be safely left running, even when the property is empty. Solarventi requires no maintenance - if the property is unoccupied during the hot summer months, then it can be left running at low speeds for ventilation and dehumidification purposes or simply switched off. With a range of panel sizes, and the option for wall or roof mounting, Solarventi is suitable for all types of buildings, caravans or even boats!! Following the patenting of its design in 2001, Solarventi has only recently been actively commercialized. Over the last six years, Solarventi units have been installed in more than 24 countries and demand is increasing rapidly. From Greenland to Australia, Solarventi is finally getting the recognition it deserves. ■
SOLARVENTI - Available in the Dordogne From Harlequin Developments Tel: 05 55 68 67 56 Mobile: 06 06 60 46 97
20 ♦ DIRECTORY
Building Services General
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
05 55 41 17 76
Food & Drink
Your advert here
Harlequin Developments are a Distributor and Installer for Solarventi, solar dehumidifying and water heating products, as well as a range of other renewable energies
firstname.lastname@example.org www.harlequindevelopments.com SIRET: 494.501.067.00016
Building Services Electricians BARWICK ÉLECTRICITÉ SHAUN BARWICK QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN
Available for all types of electrical work Small jobs, new builds, renovations, rewires Consuel assistance and certification service available Fully insured with 10 year workmanship guarantee Based near Châlus (87230) Covering departments 24 and 87
Tel: 09 72 35 74 73
Email: email@example.com Siret: 794 282 368 00016
Parking For Limoges Airport
05 55 41 17 76
Harlequin Developments All aspects of renovation and refurbishment, big or small, undertaken.
Transport, Removals & Storage
Gifts & Crafts
Cheaper parking for all types of vehicles Book now!!
Catering for you in the Dordogne
05 55 03 37 96
Specialising in home-made pastries: Sausage rolls, Pasties - Cornish, Cheese & Onion, Steak & Stilton, Vegetarian & Chicken. Eccles cakes. Scones made to order. All prepared and baked daily on the premises you cannot get fresher! Bacon, cheese, bread, tea bags & tinned produce all in stock. Find me at your local market: • Tue - Le Bugue • Thu - Eymet • Fri - Le Buisson • Sat - Villereal • Sun - Issigeac
Handmade, fully interlocking, multi-layered 3D puzzles from just €9. Keyrings €2 plus other unique gift ideas. Customisation and personalisation possible. Postal delivery options across France.
05 53 74 01 91 or 06 01 31 07 47
Les Bregères, 23150 St-Martial-le-Mont firstname.lastname@example.org
www.karenskitchen24.com email: email@example.com
The Dordogne Chippy
3D Puzzle Maker
Tel: 05.55.80.29.88 WWW.CARDBUBBLE.COM
Traditional Fish & Chips in a town near you All venues are in the evening between 6pm & 8.30 pm (except Villereal which is at Lunch time) Tuesday: Monsegur or Tremolat Wednesday: Issigeac Thursday: Eymet Friday: Lauzun Saturday: Villereal (Lunch time) See our website for full details:
www.thedordognechippy.com 05 53 74 01 91 or 06 30 02 46 67 siret: 444 925 630 00014
Please mention The Bugle when responding to adverts
BUY YOUR BRITISH GREETINGS CARDS ONLINE! QUALITY CARDS AT UK PRICES! E: ANGI@CARDBUBBLE.COM FREE DELIVERY ON ALL ORDERS OVER €10 WORLDWIDE siret: 751 978 917 00019
Your advert here
Also all aspects of house finishing, painting, decorating, floors, dry lining, plastering & insulating
Tel: 06.32.32.64.54 siret: 512 614 306 00011
Your advert here
aka The Shed
32,000ft2 of great products incl. British Groceries, DIY, Housewares, Furniture, Clothing, Toiletries plus loads more!!
05 55 41 17 76
Man & Van Transport Genuine/Reliable/Honest Local + Europe + UK runs Goods In Transit Insurance 14m3 capacity 4.2m load length French Spoken
05 55 33 21 59 Based southern 87, Oradour-sur-Vayres
www.frenchvanman.eu Siret 530 213 644 00012
05 55 41 17 76
Specialist in carpet, upholstery and car interior cleaning
05 55 41 17 76
05 55 68 74 73 Open every day except Monday See our main ad - pg 6
anxious? stressed? feeling down? call us up!
01 46 21 46 46 3 - 11pm daily Confidential & Non-profit
Your advert here 05 55 41 17 76
Advertising in The Bugle Business Directory Advertising your business couldn’t be easier. Text only, boxed listings are available in our Business Directory from just €13.50/month. Alternatively, why not spotlight your business with an Advertorial, available from 1/6 Page (€50 HT) up to Full Page (€300 HT). Both Directory Adverts and Advertorials represent a cost effective way to put your brand in front of more than 20,000 pairs of eyes each month!!
For more information on any of our advertising options, please feel free to give us a call on 05 55 41 17 76 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
6-Month Contract €108
Small b&w Directory Ad
Large b&w Directory Ad
Small Colour Directory Ad
Large Colour Directory Ad
€144 €162 €216
12-Month Contract €162
Directory Advertising is available either in black and white or colour, and in either small (30 words max) or large (45 words max) format. Directory adverts may only contain text - no logos, images or artwork are allowed. The minimum contract length is 6 months. Advertising is payable on publication. All prices are HT.
Large Directory Ad 46mm x 71mm (Actual Size) 45 words max Small Directory Ad 46mm x 46mm (Actual Size)
30 words max
LANGUAGE & GAMES ♦ 21
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
Festive Bilingual Wordsearch Try to find the Christmas-themed French words in the letter grid below. Clues are in English, but those without obvious translations have been left in French in italics (for hints, see the wordlist on the centre pages).
apples candle Christmas Christmas carol Christmas Eve Christmas tree enfant soleil Epiphany Father Christmas
Festival of Lights Fête des Rois fève galette des Rois game manger midnight Mass mistletoe New Year’s day
Père Fouettard present Réveillon ribbon santon snow stuffed animal toy yule log
GREETINGS TO ALL OUR READERS!!
Christmas Tree Maze Can you help the dizzy elf find his way down from the Christmas tree before he falls off?
Futuroscope Ticket Giveaway Winners!! To celebrate our recent 4th birthday, The Bugle gave away three pairs of tickets to Futuroscope Theme Park. All we asked in return was that you sent us in your favourite joke (extra marks were awarded for a seasonal theme!) The jokes that made us laugh the most won the tickets and here they are!!
Did you hear about the dyslexic devil worshipper? He sold his soul to SANTA ! Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? You do all the work and some fat guy in a suit gets all the credit!
Q: Do you know the origin of the tradition of the fairy being on the top of the Christmas tree ? A: It was Christmas Eve in the Grotto. Father Christmas was in a foul mood because one of the reindeer had gone lame, one of the runners on the sleigh was broken, half the presents had not arrived and some of the elves were trying to organise a strike. On top of this, he thought he was coming down with the flu. Then the fairy came in holding the Christmas tree, her arm outstretched. “What shall I do with this ?” she asked...
22 ♦ WHAT’S ON
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013
in December Bergerac Bio Fair 6th-8th December This year’s Bio Fair in Bergerac will take place in the salle Anatole France from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th December. This annual event showcases the many and varied bio products of the Dordogne and surrounding departments, with over 70 stands, conferences, workshops and exhibitions. Open Friday 14h-22h, Saturday 10h-20h and Sunday 10h-19h. Entry is €1 on Friday and €2.50 on Saturday and Sunday. Free for Under 15s. For more information visit: foirebiobergerac.canalblog.com
Périgueux Christmas Village & Ice Rink 30th November - 4th January Ice Skating on the Place Bugeaud From 30th November Mon, Tue, Thu 17h-19h Fri 17h-21h Wed & Sat 9h30-12h & 13h30-19h Sun 13h30-19h From 21st December Mon-Thu & Sat 10h-12h30 & 14h-19h30 Fri 10-12h30 & 14h-21h Sun 14h-19h30 Closes at 18h on Tue 24th & 31st Dec Closed Xmas & New Year’s Day €5/ hour (€4/ hour concessions)
Christmas Village 15 chalets will be installed around the Place Bugeaud selling sweet & savoury treats, mulled wine, hot chestnuts, decorative items, jewellery and Christmas gifts, including 2 chalets offering specialities from Saint Petersburg. Open 12h-19h (Wed & Sat 10h-19h) From 21st December Open every day from 10h-19h Open late on Fridays til 21h. Closes at 18h on Tue 24th & 31st Dec Closed Xmas & New Year’s Day There are lots of fun activities organised for children over the Christmas period – visit www.perigueux.fr for details.
WHAT’S ON ♦ 23
DECEMBER 2013 ○ THE BUGLE ○ www.thebugle.eu
Marché de Noël Sunday 8th December Abjat-sur-Bandiat Come and join us at the Capitolet in Abjatsur-Bandiat (24) for this year’s Christmas Market from 10h-18h. We have BBQ, cakes, sandwiches, refreshments, tombola and most important of all Père Noël, who will be handing out sweets throughout the day. ALL the proceeds will be going to Bansang Hospital Gambia, as last year, and information about the hospital can be found on our website www.bangsanghospitalappeal.org We have had another amazing year of fundraising and raised a phenomenal 7323 euros for our hospital. I would like to thank all of those who have given their time and encouragement to help me to make this possible. Our Plant Sale was absolutely brilliant even though it must have been one of the coldest wettest days in May (!) and we had fantastic support at the Vide-Greniers and Horse Racing evenings which we have organised throughout the year. All this wouldn’t have been possible without your generosity so I thank you on behalf of Bansang and wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Linda Nicholson
Phoenix appeal for JACK – up to 11 year-old Miniature Pinscher Cross - seeks a home! You should never judge a book by its cover, so they say, and it couldn't be more true when it comes to Jack! If you like your dogs small and sweet, to overlook this one would be to miss out. Jack is funny, affectionate and healthy and would make a loving companion. Jack is good with dogs, OK with cats (may chase them outdoors), chipped (250268731006247), vaccinated and neutered. Jack's foster mum is Jackie in Thiviers, Dordogne, and you can contact her on 05 53 52 06 23 or email Jackie.Axford@gmail.com Please someone give this quirky little fella, who can't help the way he looks, the chance he deserves. Check out our ADOPTION PAGE at www.phoenixasso.com or FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/ PhoenixAssociationFrance for other Phoenix animals available for adoption.
Christmas Present Fun with Police Horses Sunday 15th December The Brantôme Police Horses are always a children’s favourite visit and well-loved by adults, too. Visitors get to meet the horses close up and learn their horsey stories. The horses themselves are magnificent. Each one has his or her individual service record which tells how they came to be in France, where they worked in the UK, what they did during their service and the special circumstances leading to them being stood down from front-line duty. Visitors also find out what could have befallen these wonderful creatures if it were not for Roland and Alison Phillips. These unique stables are the fruit of the couple’s own work. They founded the stables especially to house expolice horses, and their own story, too, is worth the telling. The stables are in a beautifully restored farm complex just outside the village of St-Pancrace, about 10 km from lovely, historic Brantôme. In summer visitors are regaled with traditional English cream teas after the visit to the horses and in winter there is an extra special treat this month: “A Christmas Present Afternoon” on December 15th from 2p.m. It’s going to festive and lots of fun! As you would expect Santa will be there, arriving, of course by horse-drawn carriage! As well as meeting the Roland retells the horse’s story to young visitors horses there will be a Christmas Market with stalls for last-minute present ideas. There are special, extra fun treats for children, with games and all kinds of things to do. For grown-ups, there’s a raffle with great prizes to be won, mulled wine and hot food all afternoon. The horses, of course will be wearing their best Christmas outfits and looking forward to lots of new faces. The horses have their own web-site - www.brantomepolicehorses.com - which tells visitors how to find them, so you can be present yourself on the 15th!
Carol Services in December Chaplaincy of Aquitaine Sunday 8th Limeuil 18h Tuesday 10th Doudrac (47) 18h30 Wednesday 11th Eymet 18h Thursday 12th Saussignac 18h Friday 13th Ribérac 18h Sunday 15th Chancelade 16h Sunday 15th Sainte-Nathalène 17h Friday 20th Sorges 18h For more information visit www.churchinaquitaine.org/events
Beynac Le Fleix Les Eyzies Ste-Alvère
Beaumont du Périgord Bergerac Brantôme Cénac-et-Saint-Julien Lanouaille Le Bugue Mareuil Neuvic Ribérac Salignac Eyvigues Trémolat Villefranche-de-Lonchat
Wednesday Bergerac Hautefort Jumilhac-le-Grand La Tour Blanche Montpon-Ménestérol Montignac Périgueux Piégut Pluviers
Razac Sarlat Siorac-en-Périgord Vélines Domme Excideuil Eymet La Coquille Lalinde Monpazier St Astier St-Julien-de-Lampon Terrasson
Bergerac Lalinde La Roche Chalais Le Bugue Montignac Mussidan Neuvic Nontron Périgueux Razac Sarlat St Aulaye Thiviers Verteillac Villefranche du Périgord
Bergerac Brantôme Cubjac Le Buisson Ribérac Sarlat Sigoulès Vergt
Agonac Beaumont du Périgord Belvès
Bergerac Couze St Front Daglan Issigeac Pontours Pressignac-Vicq Rouffignac Sarlat Sorges St Cyprien St Génies St Pardoux la Rivière
24 ♦ WHAT’S ON
www.thebugle.eu ○ THE BUGLE ○ DECEMBER 2013