Page 1

THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome to Issue 10 of ‘The DeuxSèvres Monthly’ magazine. Well, can you actually believe it? Christmas is just around the corner and we are all busily preparing in one way or another. For us, Christmas will be en France with my parents. It will be lovely to spend some time with them... eating, drinking and laughing..well that’s what we usually do best! If you are visiting others, either in France or abroad, please take care on your journey, but of course most of all, have a WONDERFUL time! Thank you for your ongoing support this year and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. or Tel: 05 49 70 26 21.


Annual Subscription. If you would like to receive a copy of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’magazine by post each month, please complete this form and send to La Bartière, 79130 Secondigny. Please enclose a cheque to cover postage for the year.

24€ within France, 16€ to addresses in UK. (Unfortunately the cheaper ‘printed papers’ rate cannot be applied to addresses within France, only when sending abroad)

Full Name: Postal Address: Postcode:


Tel: Email: Please make cheques payable to SARAH BERRY.

Emergency Numbers: 15 SAMU, Medical 17 Gendarmes, Police 18 Pompiers, Fire

112 European emergency 113 Drugs and alcohol

© Sarah Berry 2011. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Sarah Berry accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with are a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere.

CONTENTS What’s On.............................................................................4 Take a break........................................................................9 Our Furry Friends..............................................................10 Health, Beauty & Fitness..................................................11 The Great Outdoors...........................................................13 French Life, Food & Drink................................................14 French Adventures............................................................19 Getting Out & About..........................................................20 Communications.................................................................26 Building & Renovation.......................................................27 Business, Finance & Property..........................................32 THIS MONTH’S ADVERTISERS A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant).............................................. 16 Absolu Paint Stripping Services (Tony Sparks)................. 31 Ace Pneus (Tyre Supplier & Fitter)................................... 21 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC D/Glazing)..... 2 Agence2Immobilier (Estate Agent).................................... 35 A.I.P. (Estate Agent)........................................................... 34 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder)............................................. 31 Alain Miot (Saw mill)........................................................... 27 Allez Francais (Estate Agent)............................................. 34 Allianz (Insurances) ........................................................... 33 Amanda Holmes (Yoga Classes)......................................... 11 Andrew Longman (Plumber)............................................... 29 Andy Melling (Artisan Joiner / Cabinet Maker)................. 28 An English Nursery in France (Garden Centre)...................14 Blevins Franks Financial Management Ltd........................ 32 Boulangerie Patisserie l’Angelique..................................... 18 Brian Fox (Computer Support)........................................... 27 Café des Belles Fleurs........................................................ 16 Cafe Cour du Miracle........................................................... 14 Carol’s Cakes....................................................................... 18 Christies (English Book Shop and Tea Room).................... 22 David Normanton (Handyman)............................................ 29 David Watkins (Chimney Sweep)........................................ 29 Dean Smalley (Cleaning & Gardening Services)................ 14 Eco Entrepot (Discount store & Building materials).......... 2 Energie-79........................................................................... 29 English (Online Business Directory)............... 7 French Connection (Band).................................................. 2 Garage Planchet (Renault)................................................... 21 Gentle Touch Hair & Beauty............................................... 12 Hair by Janet (Hairdresser and Avon Sales)..................... 11 Hallmark Electronique (Electricians & Sat. Engineers).... 30 Imprimerie Jadault (Printer)................................................ 3 Indulgence Beauty............................................................... 12 Insink Plumbing.................................................................... 29 Jeregarde (Guided Tours)................................................... 22 Julie’s Cleaning Services..................................................... 32 La Joie de Vivre (Gift Shop & Tea Room).......................... 24 Le Dragon (Bar/Snack)........................................................ 36 La Folie (Herbs & Spices)................................................... 16 Leggett Immobilier (Estate Agent)..................................... 35 Le Logis (Pig breeders)....................................................... 17 Le Puy Remorques (Trailer Hire & Sales)......................... 21 Loulesbelles (Second hand clothing).................................. 22 Madhatters Kitchen............................................................. 14 MS Electrique (Electrician)................................................. 30 Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances........................................ 23 Nathan Foster Building Services........................................ 31 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology)............................ 11 Philip Irving (Mini Digger hire)............................................ 30 Philip Wellman (Plumbing Service & Maintenance)............ 28 Plombiere Anglais en France (Plumber)............................. 28 Poitou Property Services.................................................... 32 Premier Autos - Mike Lane (Mechanic)............................. 20 QPR Building Services........................................................ 27 RDK Roofing & Building Services....................................... 29 Red White & Blue (English groceries)................................ 16 Richard Owen (aka The Fosse Man)................................... 30 Rob Berry (Plasterer).......................................................... 29 Robert Gough Terrassement (Mini Digger and Driver)...... 29 Robert Walker Plomberie (Plumbing, Heating, Air con)..... 28 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering)........... 26 R.S.M. Distribution............................................................... 22 Sandy G (Hairdresser)......................................................... 11 Sarah Berry Online (Website Designer)............................. 27 sarl Down to Earth (Groundwork & Construction)............. 30 Siddalls (Financial Advisors)............................................... 33 13 Steve Enderby...................................................................... 30 Sue Burgess (French Courses & Translation..................... 8 The English Mechanic - Tony Eyre.................................... 20 Total Renovation Services (Michael Dominey).................. 30 Tracy Corrie (Nail Artist)................................................... 12

<<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tél: 05 49 70 26 21. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Sarah Berry. Crédits photos: Sarah Berry et Impression: Imprimerie Jadault, 46 rue du BocageBP405, 79306 Courlay Cedex. Dépôt légal: Decembre 2011 - Tirage: 5 000 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

page 3


What’s On....December 2011 1st, 2nd & 3rd December: Reaction Theatre performances ‘Inspector Drake and the Perfekt Crime’. 2nd & 3rd December - Telethon 2011. Look around your local area to find a way of joining in the fund-raising and have fun! 2nd December - Christmas Market. At the Tipsy bar, Coulonges-sur-L'Autize 79160 4pm - 7pm. English groceries, books, gifts & cards, jewellery, clothes & accessories, teddy bears and soft furnishings. Carol singing, mulled wine & mince pies! Tel. 0549 95 92 76 3rd Dec - Christmas Fair & Ellerymay Flower workshop At The Mini Market, Luché sur Brioux. 3rd December: Telethon second-hand book & toy sale. At Salle de Fêtes, Tillou from 9am to 12pm with tea, coffee, and games for the children. (See P.5 for more details). 4th December - TERVES Christmas market At the Salles des Fêtes from 11am-6pm. Lots of stall holders, refreshments available. 8th December - Conference on French Inheritance Law and more At the Abbaye Royale, St.Jean d’Angely at 3.30pm ALLIANZ Finance Conseil conference on French Inheritance Law and Health Cover for foreigners. A Notary will also be present. (See advert on P.33 for more details). 9th, 10th & 11th December - La Magie de Noël At La Mothe Saint-Héray. See 10th & 11th December - Marché de Noel Christmas market held at la Commanderie, St Marc la Lande. Open: 2pm-7pm on Sat 10th and 10am-6pm on Sun 11th. 11th December - Christmas market At Sainte Hermine (85210) from 9am. 14th December - Foire de Noël At The Mad Hatter’s Kitchen from 3pm. (See info on P.5). 15th December - Christmas Dinner & Quiz. Benoist et Isabelle are hosting a 3 course  English Christmas Dinner and Quiz starting 7:30pm at the Chaudron in Chantemerle, 18euros p/person. Bookings: 05 49 74 24 69 15th December - Parthenay Carol Service A carol service in French & English from 7pm at Sainte Croix Church, rue de la Citadelle, Parthenay. Mince pies and mulled wine available after the service. Contact John: 05 49 75 29 71 17th December - Live music night at Mad Hatters Kitchen. Angie Palmer performs. See advert on P.14 for more info. 17th December - Live music with Nigel Skinner. At Cafe des Belles Fleurs. (See advert on P.16) 17th & 18th December - Marché de Noêl, Cerizay A superb atmosphere with entertainment, food, drink, artificial snow, Santa, as well as many stalls selling gifts and various crafts, wines, foods etc. and an art exhibition. 18th December - Marché de Noël, Gençay All day event in the centre of Gençay, 87 19th December: Mini Christmas Market At Cafe des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. (See advert on P.16) 21st December - Carols, carols, carols! At the church, Bazoges en Pareds from 6.30pm. 31st December: New Yearʼs Eve Party At Cafe des Belles Fleurs. (See advert on P.16) 31st December: New Yearʼs Eve Party At Le Dragon, Vernoux-en-Gatine. (See back page) 31st December: New Yearʼs Eve Party At Mad Hatter’s Kitchen. (See advert on P.19.) 31st December: New Yearʼs Eve with French Connection At Salle Jean Desnoues, Chantemerle, 79320. Bring your own food & drink. Music from 8pm. Tickets Only. Price:15€. Please call 02 51 50 75 59 or 02 51 50 76 12 (See advert on P.2) Thank you to

Markets in Deux-Sèvres. Monday - Lencloitre (1st Monday in month) Tuesday - Lezay, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize Wednesday - Parthenay Thursday - Sauzé Vaussais, Niort Friday - Thouars, Melle Saturday - Chef Boutonne, Airvault, Niort

Paperback Jan Books in English 1st Dec: Bar Le Palais, St Aubin le Cloud. 14h-17h 2nd Dec: Bar de la Paix, Thouars 12h-14h 2nd Dec: Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-L’Autize 16h-18h 3rd Dec: The Mini Market, Luché sur Brioux. 15h-17h. 4th Dec: Christmas Market, Terves. 11h-18h. 5th Dec: Le Dragon bar, Vernoux-en-Gatine. 14h-17h 7th Dec: Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant. 14h-16.30h 8th Dec: Pause! Cafe, L’Absie. 14h-17h 9th Dec: Jan’s home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay, 11h-16h. 10th Dec: Cafe Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole. 10h-14h. 12th Dec: St Martins Bar & Restaurant, Brux. 11h-14h 14th Dec: Le Trois Marie, Airvault. 10h-13h 29th Dec: Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant. 14h-17h For more info contact Jan on: 06 08 30 73 29 or email:

La Vendee Chippy Traditional Fish & Chips in France! **Last Dates for 2011.... Wednesdays (Dec 7th only) Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges.18h-20hr Fridays (Dec 1st & 8th only) Bar ‘Au Bon Coin’, Thoursais Bouildroux. 18h-20hr. Back February 2012. Dates TBC. For more info please email: La Vendee Chippy would like to thank everyone who donated to this yearʼs Poppy Appeal. 120€ raised. Church Services Anglican Church, Parthenay. Services, usually Communion, in English on 4th Sunday of each month at 10.30am at 11 rue de la Citadelle, Parthenay. Plenty of parking but not easy to find!  There is a map on the Chaplaincy web site  Please join us for a bring and share lunch after the service. All Saints Vendée, Puy de Serre. Services 2nd & 4th Sunday of the month. Escoval, La Bonne Dame, Ranton. Church service in English 3rd Sunday of every month at 11.30am. Join us for a bring and share lunch after the service.

What’s coming up... 1st January 2012...New Year’s Day!

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2011 (remaining): • Sunday 25 December: Christmas Day (Noël)

Contact Sarah Berry on Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: page 4


The Mad Hatters Kitchen’s Foire de Noël In aid of two charities, CANCER Support DeuxSèvres and ATCP Chidren of Tchernobyl, it will be held on December 14th from 3pm. FREE ENTRY. There will be quality stalls selling Christmas gifts, Tombola and raffle, teas and cakes, mulled wine and mince pies and carols. Come and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Stalls available from 5€. Book for Supper, two courses, 10€. A percentage of which will go to the Charities. Le logis, le Breuillac, Caunay. Telephone: 05 49 27 67 29


On the 2nd and 3rd December, there will be the french Telethon but what is it? by Emilie Terral The Telethon is a TV program set on France Television to earn a maximum amount of money in 2 days. It is similar to ‘Children in Need’ or ‘Comic Relief’ hosted in the UK.

Congratulations to this month’s competition winner, Leslie Macdougall, 79120 A typically French Noël! For a chance to see your photograph on the front cover of our magazine (5000 copies!) - please enter our monthly photo competition. Entry is free and limited to one photograph per month. Please see for further details.

Now the AFM helps research these illnesses but also for the work to cure all rare genetic diseases. In 25 years, lots of diseases have been fought because the research has been successful, but unfortunately that concerns only a few considering that there are between 6000 and 8000 different rare diseases touching about 25 million European people...

How can you help? The easiest way is to call 3637 and donate your money... But this Telethon wants to be more efficient. Everywhere in France, in your village or in the nearest one, all the associations (not only charity associations) organize different events. That can be a sports competition, a walk, a sale, a lunch or a meal... You will certainly receive some information in your post box about what happens in your area. It’s a good way to go out, meet new people and share a good moment for a good cause!

Don’t forget your calendar! The calendar, in aid of ‘Open Door’ and ‘Against Breast Cancer’, priced at 10€ is now available at Open Door, Civray; local markets; La Grande Gallerie, Civray and online  through ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine. Please support us to support these charities. Profits made from the sale of this calendar will be donated to: Association La Porte Ouverte, ʻOpen Doorʼ and AGAINST BREAST CANCER 1121258.

The Telethon has been existing for 25 years and helps the association called AFM (Association Française contre les Myopathies) which is an association that helps people suffering neurological genetic diseases.

Reg. Charity no

Love Films?

In Tillou (between Melle and Chef-Boutonne), the school parents’ association organize a second-hand toys and books sale. There will be books for all ages, in French and English. That happens at the salle de fêtes of the village on 3rd December from 9am to 12pm with tea, coffee, kids games... But this is just an example, you can find some events on the official website but because it's difficult for them to list every event, the best way is to look in your post box!

If you love a trip to the cinema, films are shown in English at Parthenay Cinema. For more information or to be kept up to date with screenings, email ...And don’t forget your popcorn!

If you are new to the area, ‘The Pays de Gâtine's guide for newcomers’ may be a useful read. For information, advice and contacts, go to

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 5

THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY CRAFT CAFE CREATIF If you knit, crochet or sew and want to meet like-minded people; if you also have a fondness for an afternoon cuppa, cake and a chat, then join us at Le Dragon at Vernoux-en-Gatine for our monthly craft cafe and have some fun sharing tips and know-how. English and French speaking welcome! For more information or to sign up please email or telephone Jennie on 05 49 94 22 27. You can also visit me at

Running Club... What will your New years resolution be for 2012? Lose a few pounds? tone up? keep fit? Train for a marathon? You can do all of these with our new running club for all abilities. A friendly supportive club looking for members. Email Kelly for more details on

Association Meridien Green We are an Anglo- French group which was founded in 2001 for mutual understanding of each other's language and culture. We meet twice weekly in the Salle des Associations in St Coutant, 79120. The best way to find out more is to visit our website or contact Maureen Dalby 0549299450. The name of our group comes from the fact that St Coutant is on the Greenwich Meridian!

Anyone for Cricket?

La Roche-sur-Yon Cricket Club is alive, well, bowling, batting and fielding - and looking for new blood! We play friendly matches against sides from Maille, Ile de Re, Saumur, Nantes, and a couple of clubs from Brittany. We also host visiting sides from the UK. Young or old, male or female, experienced or novice: all are welcome. We provide all the kit and the basic training if necessary; you provide the enthusiasm. If you would like to know more, please contact: Lynne Illingworth, Secretary, LRsYCC Email: ~ Website:

2nd Sunday Motorcycle Club has a new club website! Check it out: If you would like to attend our coffee mornings please contact us via the website........ New members always welcome! Christmas Party on 11th December at Mar Nicolleau's home @ 3pm. Please find details on our website.

New Language Group... A young-at-heart French couple would like to start a FRENCH-ENGLISH group in or around the area of Mauléon, to be able to practice their language and meet new people. Both French and English of all ages are welcome! If you would like to know more, please contact Isabelle by email: Les Amis Solitaires We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet regularly for coffee mornings, lunches and the occasional visit.  Our activities centre around SauzéVaussais, Civray and more recently Confolens. During the past few months we have started meeting for coffee in L'Absie for people living around Secondigny, Parthenay and Coulonges. This is on the 1st Tuesday monthly at Le Bistro from 11am. Why not join  us? More details from Nigel 02 51 51 48 13.

Would you like a speaker for your group or association?   Peter Hoskins, author of In the Steps of the Black Prince, the Road to Poitiers 1355-1356, would be happy to give talks on the Black Prince or the Battle of Poitiers.  He can be contacted at

association? Are you part of a club or an us! Please share the details with

Amendements to Issue 9: Tracing Your Family History.

If you were interested to read the article ‘History Repeating Itself’ in November’s issue, and tried to contact the writer, please note that there was an error with the contact email address. If you would like to contact Karin Meek, please use:

Footnote to 'Operation Scenery. 16/17th November 1943' Issue 9 November 2011. In my article concerning the Lysander operation at Perigne, I gave the names of the two bulls brought by Adolphe Fournier to help  extricate  the stricken plane stuck in the mud, as Papillon and Fridolin. I have since been corrected that in fact they were called Julot and Fridolin.

After trying to assist Robin Hooper, Adolphe Fournier was again commanded to assist the Germans the next day to pull out of the mud a German lorry that had got bogged down trying to recover the wreck of the Lysander. When I wrote the article I was unaware that 'Fridolin' was a term that had replaced 'Boche' as a put-down term in continental French during World War 2, and was in common usage during the occupation by the Germans from 1941 to 1945. It was for this very reason that Adolphe Fournier changed the name of 'Fridolin' to 'Papillon' to avoid any embarrassment when he later was forced to assist the Germans. For the next 48 hours the farmer was held for interrogation by the Germans in Niort about his participation with the British pilot and the Resistance men but convinced them that the 'terrorists' forced him at gun point to bring his bullocks. Finally believing the story they let him go. I would like to thank the daughter of Adolphe Fournier, Madame Monique Trillaud for her kind assistance in gaining further information on Operation Scenery. Tony Barrett. page 6


The French Noël

by Sue Burgess In France, the way in which Christmas is celebrated differs from one region to another. Even the name of Father Christmas varies: le père Noël, Homme Noël, Bonhomme Noël, Saint Nicolas... The French like cribs. In the south, figurines called santons are made out of clay. The word «santon» means «little saint». Most houses have a crib and a christmas tree. In the last few years it has become fashionable to put lights and decorations in the garden. In Alsace and other regions of the North, St Nicolas is celebrated on the 6th December and children receive presents three weeks before Father Christmas comes down the chimney. In Lyon on the 8th of December for «La Fête des Lumières» people put lanterns on their window ledges. The origin of this festival comes from the inauguration of the statue of the Virgin Mary on the Fourvière hill in 1852. Recently the festivities have developed into a real festival of amazing light shows. The tradition of Christmas markets at which anything and everything connected with Christmas is sold, comes from Alsace, where, in the XIVth century, they were called «marché de St Nicolas». Later, with the arrival of protestantism in some areas, the markets were renamed «Christkindlmarkt». Children can write, telephone or send an email to Father Christmas who will bring presents on the night of the 24th December. He doesn't leave them in stockings but in shoes, bags or boxes left out in front of the fireplace or near the Christmas tree. In certain regions, adults prefer to exchange their presents for New Year. Christmas dinner means that all the family can get together for a large meal. Generally eaten on Christmas Eve, the «réveillon» is a rich meal with several courses. Foie gras, smoked salmon, oysters, caviar or lobster, a turkey with chestnuts, or other meat. The meal is finished off with a «bûche» - a cake in the shape of a roll or log, decorated with almond paste or meringue shapes and figurines, which represents the large wooden log that was traditionally left burning all night long in the fire to protect the house from lightning. The area of Provence is known for the 13 desserts which represent Christ and his apostles. Catholic families go to midnight mass although this is often no longer at midnight. Presents are exchanged before or after the meal according to the family tradition. The 26th December is a normal working day in France. The 31st December is the Saint Sylvestre and the French often go out to the restaurant or to the salle de fêtes of the village for the «réveillon», New Year's Eve meal which goes on into the early hours of New Year's Day. The custom is to send New Year greetings cards rather than Christmas cards. Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Noël................................... Christmas

Chanter des noëls.................

To sing Christmas carols

La veille de Noël...............

Christmas Eve

Les noëls..............................

Christmas carols

Le cadeau..........................

Present / Gift

Le vin chaud........................

Mulled Wine

Faire un cadeau..................

To give a gift

Le traineau............................


Les cotillons.......................

party novelties (hats, blowers etc)

La Saint Sylvestre .................

31st December

Le sapin..............................

Christmas Tree

Le Nouvel An.......................

The New Year

La guirlande électrique.......

Fairy lights

Le jour de l'an.......................

New Year’s Day

Le Père Noël.......................

Father Christmas

Les fêtes de fin d'année.........

the end of year festivities

La crèche ...........................

Crib / Nativity scene

Le marché de Noël..............

Christmas Market

Le santon............................

Figurine for a crib page 7


Pause! Cafe L’Absie...Now open for Business! We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support on our opening day. We had a huge turnout and were kept busy all day serving your favourite varieties of teas and coffees, along with hot and cold sandwiches, jacket potatoes and cakes. A special thank you to Sarah Berry from ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine for our website design and magazine support, Ross Hendry for setting up our free WIFI connection and Paperbook Jan for her help on the day. Jan will be with us again on the 8th December 2pm-5pm with her books, along with Jo with her lovely Phoenix card collection. So if you are looking for a place to relax, enjoy a bacon sandwich or a light lunch with a cappuccino, latte, or a cup of tea, visit us at 21 Rue de la Poste, right in the middle of L’Absie. We are open all day from 9am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-5pm on Saturday. We also offer takeaway for any food or drink purchased, why not try a jacket potato with cheddar cheese and beans or a baguette to take out? The next time you call in please ask us for a Pause! Loyalty card for hot drinks. Visit our website at or ʻlikeʼ us on Facebook for further information.

A Cracking Sum raised!

Maraisthon 2012 The 3rd Maraisthon will take place in Coulon on Sunday 17 June 2012. Come and run the Original French Ecological Marathon, at the heart of our unspoilt green paradise. 40 entry numbers will be randomly drawn for prizes of: Gold ingots, boxed prestige Champagne, Dinners in starred restaurants. Exhibition Village near the river, focussing on Green Issues, Sustainable Development and Ecology. The Marais Poitevin Marathon. Register now on

How would you like to share your ideas for the Millennium Celebrations 2012? Mr Giraud from the Millennium Committee would like to give a short presentation of the activities that have been planned for 2012 and would love to hear from anyone with ideas  as to how we can make the most of the year ahead.   8th December 2011 at 14h30 in the Pays de Gâtine offices, Parthenay.   Please confirm if you would like to attend by contacting Julia Salvat on

Help is available...

On 4th & 5th November, hundreds of bibliophiles flocked to the Salle de Fêtes at Clussias la Pommeraie 79800 to benefit from the thousands of new & nearly near books on offer at the Hope Association 1€ book sale. Dozens of Hope volunteers turned out to help and several other animal associations were represented, including the Niort SPA and Orfee. Over the two days, over 8000€ was raised which is a truly wonderful result and Hope thanks everyone who came to help and all those who came from far and wide to buy books. This will ensure that Hope can continue to help animal associations in the region in the fight against animal abandonment and cruelty.

by Julia Salvat

Radio Gâtine and the Pays de Gâtine have been working together to inform the public on the role of the Pays and what grants are available when you have a project. These could cover: Tourism, cultural activites, setting up a company, or just knowing what I do here in the office to help you integrate into local life.  The French texts have been translated into English and recorded.    Visit the website page here: index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=340 to find some of the recordings. (Some are not yet on line but will be shortly).   I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert Pearson for his very professional help when recording.

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 8


Easy Christmas Quiz! 1. What Christmas Ballet is the most famous of all? • Rudolph's Surprise • The Nutcracker • Mr. and Mrs. Claus • Frosty Goes to New York 2. Where was Mommy kissing Santa Claus? • On the Corner • In the Bedroom • Under the Mistletoe • In a Dark Alley 3. Who wrote the song "Here Comes Santa Claus"? • Michael Jackson • Gene Autry • Persy Douglas • Leroy Jones 4. What does Alvin want for Christmas? • An iPod • A Bottle of Rum • A Hula Hoop • A New Car 5. What should little children leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve? • Cookies and Milk • A Bottle of Wine • Chewing Gum • Chedder Cheese

6. What is Frosty the Snowman's nose made of? • A Carrot • A Potato • A Button • A Rock 7. Who is Ebenezer? • The Milk Man • The 23rd President • The Scrooge • Mrs. Claus's Secret Friend 8. What color is the Grinch? • Green • Blue • White • Black 9. Which reindeer's name starts with a "B"? • Bart • Burt • Bodog • Blitzen 10. Which reindeer does not belong below? • Dancer • Comet • Roger • Dasher

Take a festive crossword break.... Down: 2. Rudolph, Dancer, Prancer etc. (9) 3. French for Christmas (4) 4. Baby Jesus’ bed (4) 5. Christmas tree decoration (6) 10. Another of 2 down (5) 11. Front door decoration (6) 13. What people do too much of at Christmas (3) 16. Stuffing ingredient (4) 17. Christmas present labels (4)

Across: 8. Red oats treated in same way as seasonal fare on an open fire (7) 9. Ethereal being held in strange light (5) 10. Goes on the cake when it’s icing beforehand (5) 11. Urge to change song to get Christmas cocktails (7) 12. See 13. 13. Spot unsure saint in a pickle, finding what tree-dweller does seasonally (6,2,4) 16. Odd hippy meeting Ena leads to happy revelation (8) 19. Sign off to perform carols (4) 22. Was our queen of reversal what the angel did about the birth? (7) 23. One’s best often comes out when entertaining (5) 24. Applaud the spirit of Christmas? (5) 25. Good man is ahead, later coming round, but too small yet to be seasonal guide? (7)

Down: Toughie Christmas Crossword! 1. Sounds like gifts have a certain bearing? (8) 2. Aim for time to mix with great (6) 3. Celebrity bodies? (5) 4. Arrival of a man from Scandinavia in TV mix-up (6) 5. Upset more Europeans going into stable places for animal food (7) 6. Churn up soil and go to build native northern dwellings (6) 7. Northern mammals found when article missing from lakes (4) 14. Sap rises, enveloping unusual agent for festivals (8) 15. Those who go after second drinks? (8) 17. Tragic kings I turned upside down in Jerusalem home (6) 18. Freshest points over mixed stew (6) 20. Accumulated cold drops in hanging state (6) 21. Indian eg. can follow once a mix-up is made (5) 22. The truth is a fellow can go before a bit of play (4) With thanks to M.Morris

Please see website: for answers

DSM Easy Christmas Crossword!

Across: 1. Christmas butter (6) 6. Christmas tree type (3) 7. The Three Kings were this (4-3) 8. There was no room here for Joseph (3) 9. Chocolate filled Christmas calendar (6) 12. What children are on Christmas Eve (7) 14. 7 across followed this (4) 15. Silent Christmas carol (5) 18. When you ____ upon a star (4) 19. Another Christmas tree decoration (5) 20. Christmas train (5-7)

page 9


Our Furry Friends... There was an Italian, a Dutchwoman and a Brit... sounds like it's going to be a weak joke, but we hope that we're not as we run Nos Amis Les Animaux 85480 (NALA 85480). We started in September 2010 to re-home abandoned/lost/unwanted cats and dogs. We don't have a refuge, but rely on foster families to look after the animals until they are adopted. This way the animals are socialised and we get a good insight into their character and foibles. There is an inexhaustible supply of unwanted animals, so we always need new foster families. If you're interested please contact us via our bi-lingual site There you can also find details of the animals that we have for adoption. When animals are adopted we have them “chipped” and vaccinated and either sterilised or with a commitment to having them sterilised if they are too young when adopted. As people are prepared to give away animals for free, we have to keep our prices low. Thanks to some generous vets who donate their time, our price for a chipped, vaccinated and sterilised animal is less than people would pay if they had it done at their own vet. Even so we make a loss on every animal that passes through our hands, so if you're feeling generous or can help with fund-raising please contact us or any of the animal rescue organisations, as we all need your help.



Button & Sissy (featured in the June issue) - have been adopted by an English couple and now run around freely with their other dogs. Button can be a bit noisy at times but they are sure it's just happiness and enthusiasm for life.

Sissy particularly likes to play ball and will throw it back to you for more. It's wonderful that both these little dogs have been able to stay together and that's the way it will always be.  They are much loved.   None of the re-homings would be possible without the dedication and hard work of people who care about animals. We are very grateful to The Deux-Sèvres Monthly for continuing to support us in our effort to re-home animals in need. Hope Assoc Tel: 05 49 27 26 20 or email:

We also want to change things so that less animals are abandoned. We have prepared a letter to the Conseil General that is being signed by the other animal rescue organisations in the Vendée, asking for a more humane policy based on the correct application of the current legislation. Many towns don't have a procedure for treating injured stray animals, automatic euthanasia after 10 days in the town kennels is widespread and many animals are offered for sale/given away without being chipped or tattooed. These practices are in contravention of current law, but the authorities seem to turn a blind eye. We also have a petition to the minister responsible for animal welfare on our site, please sign it and encourage other people to sign it too.

Just for Fun.... Our adorable furry friends... Please send us your pictures and any comments to be featured here. Send your entry via email to: This is Micky, he’s been with me a year now and I rescued him from a farm of 13 cats and kittens. He’s so much fun and a little devil, even when he wakes me at 4 am!

MAYDAY MES AMIS Mayday Mes Amis is a new association under the 1901 law which has been formed to help animals in need in l'Absie and the surrounding area. For more information please email: HOOF (Horse Orientated Open Forum) HOOF is open to anyone with an equine interest. You do not need to own a horse! We meet about once a month for talks, visits etc. Interested? Contact Jo Rowe on 05 49 64 22 67 or email:

Dean Smalley, L’Absie.

page 10


Health, Beauty & Fitness... ‘Easy Yoga’ What can Yoga do for me? As a form of exercise Yoga stretches and strengthens the body in a relaxed and gentle way, so it is ideal for those with specific back, shoulder and hip problems as well as all those daily aches and pains we all seem to get. But it is much more than simple exercise. Yoga combines physical exercise with deep breathing and relaxation so bringing a better understanding of how our own bodies and minds work. We rush around in our busy lives and forget who we truly are, but by doing simple postures, stretching and toning exercises, breathing and relaxation, Yoga helps you centre and find a balance and harmony in your life, cutting out the stress and alleviating pain. My classes are suitable for all levels as we all work within our own abilities. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be supple to start practicing Yoga! I always start with warm up exercises and end with a deep relaxation; all that is needed is a mat or blanket to lie on, loose clothing and an open mind. Classes are at my studio in Crézières near Chef Boutonne on Thursday and Friday mornings at 10am for 1½ hours. Other classes are on Tuesday at 10am in Charmé, which is on the route between Villefagnan and Aigre and Wednesday at 2.30pm in St Saviol near Civray. The new term starts on 10th January 2012. Feel free to call or email me if you have any questions. Tel: 05 49 07 12 12 or email: (Please see advert below)

page 11


~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 12


The Great Outdoors... The Amateur Gardener

by Vanda Lawrence Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe - it's that time of year again, when we fetch the decorations out of the loft and start preparing for Christmas. Why not make a wreath to decorate your front door? You will need: • Circular wire shape; shopbought or made using a wire coat hanger • Conifer branches, variegated ivy, pine cones, berries, small twigs • 1 orange; sliced and dried in the oven (approx 1 hr, medium oven) • Florist's wire or similar, raffia or sparkly ribbon • Artificial snow • Ribbon, small baubles, glitter if required 1. Weave wire shape with conifer and ivy as preferred 2. Cut thin twigs into approx 3" lengths and bind together in small bunches with raffia 3. Attach twigs, pine cones, berries etc to wreath with florist's wire 4. Attach dried orange slices as above using wire or sparkly ribbon 5. Spray with artificial snow if required As an alternative, how about some sparkly sprigs of holly hung on the door with lovely red ribbon? Get the children to brush the holly with glue then sprinkle with glitter simple but very effective.

nest in during Spring.

Don't forget the Mistletoe (or Viscum album, as this is the Amateur Gardener section!). This plant is actually a parasite which grows mostly on apple or poplar trees. Apparently they use the host tree as a means of obtaining minerals and nutrients from the ground while situated high up in the trees, photosynthesising. Although they may stunt the trees' growth the trees don't usually suffer too much. On the 'plus' side birds eat the berries in winter and some use the evergreen clumps to The tradition of kissing under a hanging bunch of mistletoe probably comes from the belief that it is a fertility symbol, because when it grows on deciduous trees it gives the impression of continuing life after all the leaves have fallen off during winter. Other visual signs of this supposed fertility are to be seen in the plant form: the forked branches, rounded angled leaves and fullbodied berries hinting at sex appeal. Historically, a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe cannot refuse to be kissed and if a couple in love exchange a kiss under the mistletoe it is seen as a promise to marry. However, if a girl remained unkissed she can expect not to marry the next year.

The Horses are Out!

Just an ordinary September morning, or so I thought. I rose leisurely, like any self respecting retired person, to let the dogs out, make coffee for husband Bill and me, which we usually have in bed to discuss the forthcoming day’s events. When I opened the front door, I was amazed to see our horses standing on the side lawn. They looked considerably bigger than when in the field from which they had plainly escaped, despite electric fencing. As I gazed around, I saw a scene of utter devastation. ‘Bill, the horses are out!’ I called up the stairs, whilst ushering the dogs back inside. Two of the patio chairs were on their sides, plant pots, ceramic and plastic, crushed beyond repair. In the covered area overlooking the garden and fields, a deck chair lay on its back, covered in muddy hoof prints. The container of the start of the walnut crop lay on the floor, the area covered in crushed shells and dark nut stains and, oh my goodness, what was this? A large robust plastic container and lid for the chicken feed lay mangled on the floor. Not a lot of the contents, pondeuse and crushed corn, remained. Corn, oh no, I groaned. But the horses still hadn’t moved. I met Bill at the door, and immediately he spotted that not one strawberry remained on our plants. More upturned flowers lay strewn on the front lawn, soil scattered everywhere. One bed had been thoroughly trashed, the heads of the flowers had mysteriously disappeared, leaving a sea of naked stalks. The bird table lay forlornly on its side crushed almost beyond recognition. All three lawn areas were covered with hoof imprints. I thought Bill might weep, as since the acquisition of a sit-on lawn mower, which he rides majestically like a king, the manicured grass has been his pride and joy. In the middle of one lawn lay two piles of you-know-what, but sadly not an egg to be seen. I picked up a head-collar, expecting the worse. Horses doing handstands and careering round, high on corn. But with heads bowed, utterly stuffed and exhausted, they meekly followed me into another well fenced paddock, glad to be back in the boring old field. Too much excitement for one night. Horses, who’d have ‘em? Written by Jenny Harris. Member of North Deux Sevres Writersʼ Circle.

I've given you a rest from too much gardening this month, but I will suggest that you have a supply of sand/grit/salt readily available to spread over paths/driveways on those 'slippery' days we are sure to get. Apart from that my friends, all that remains is to wish you all A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year. Cheers! page 13


Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

An English Nursery in France are now able to supply Greenhouses and Polytunnels, I can offer polytunnels from PREMIER, an English company with many years of using and building tunnels.  Greenhouses by HALLS and EDEN, two well known companies, and high quality cedar greenhouses by GROWHOUSE. For further information contact Mike Curtis on 05 46 33 66 17 or email:

French Life, Food & Drink... MOTHER-IN-LAWʼS CHOCOLATE CAKE This is the season of ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’, but for those who don’t like Christmas cake, here is a very tasty alternative. Lesley Tidman sent this recipe for the Cancer Support Deux Sèvres Favourite Recipe Book and over the past few days it has been tested and tested and tested until there is none left and we will just have to make another one! Prepare 1 x 20cms (8ins) cake tin and preheat oven to 160C, gas mark 3. Ingredients: 175g margarine or butter 175 self-raising flour (farine gateaux) 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 175g castor sugar (sucre en poudre) 2 tablespoons cocoa powder blended with 3 tablespoons warm water 3 large eggs Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy. Put into tin and smooth top. Bake for 40-45 minutes (testing with a skewer to ensure it is done). Remove from tin and leave to cool. When cold prepare icing. Ingredients: 60g butter 90g plain chocolate Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Spread over cake, allowing it to run over the sides. Testerʼs Tips Tip 1 - With the cold weather it is a good idea to soften the butter a little first – 10 seconds in the microwave should do it. Tip 2 – Ice the cake on a different plate to the eventual serving plate. We still need more recipes so if you have a favourite why not send it by e-mail to marked “recipe”. Don’t forget we will be at the Terves Christmas Fair on Sunday 4th December. Come and see us.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

If you would like any information about the work of Cancer Support Deux Sèvres, please contact June Searchfield on 05 49 64 59 96 or e-mail

page 14


Vive la Difference

by Gilly Hunt Recently I was invited by my neighbour to join her and her mother for lunch. Now this might seem like a lovely invitation and you may be wondering why I am writing about it here; well to earn my lunch I was to assist in the process of despatching and preparing a number of Geese for eating. My husband is now an expert in the despatching of animals, but I have to admit to being a novice when it comes to the “hands on” part. I fully understand the rationale behind “food to table” and was incredibly proud of myself when I actually managed to assist in the process of dipping the birds in a tub of boiling water before helping to strip the feathers. Some may be grimacing whilst reading this and I have to say a couple of years ago I would not have been able to participate, but we all have to learn to accept the way of life here and this is part of it. And I have to say the five course lunch afterwards certainly made up for any anguish I had felt in the morning.

Keenan’s Corner

by Keenan Dominey My 4th year in France was one of my most important; it was the year where I passed the ‘Brevet’ which is the equivalent of English GCSEs and I had to decide which school I wanted to apply for.

The most important part of this year was to prepare myself for the upcoming exams. The ‘Brevet des collèges’ is a three part exam Mathematics, French, and History, but during the year we have many more lessons including Technology, English, German/Spanish, and Sport. The teachers spend extra time with us just before the exam to make sure we are ready, and will go out of their way to make sure we have the best chance to succeed. I found it very hard at the age of 14 to decide what my future might be. (some are 13 and 15 years old depending on education history as children can jump a class or redouble). My sister picked a career in hotels and restaurants. There are four different classes after the 3ème; the most manual form of studies is the apprentiship in a “CAP” which takes two years to obtain. The following studies are the equivalent to English A levels, the slightly longer form to the “CAP” (three years instead of two) exists as manual study but it is prepared in school not in a company (except for a few weeks work experience), next is the “BAC PRO” (baccealeut professionnel), if you know what you want to do there is the “BAC TECHNOLOGIQUE” which is only theory but specialized in a sector, for instance communications or human resources and finally there’s the “BAC GENERAL” which is general studies.

On my walks with my dog in the last few weeks I have been amazed at the variety and size of toadstools and fungi that are around this year. I assume it is because of the unusually warm November we are having. I was surprised as well by some toadstools pushing their way up through our driveway as well. Oh well the joys of living in the countryside and at least I do not have to pick beer cans out of the front hedge in the morning! With winter approaching receiving mail becomes a bit more of an adventure. In England you can stay in your nice warm house and wait for your mail to pop through the letter box onto the mat, but in France you will now need to put on your coat and possibly wellington boots and trudge out in all weathers to your post box, which for most of us is attached to either our front gate or possibly built into a wall.

After a “CAP” or a “BAC PRO” students can go straight into their professional careers and don’t need to continue their studies. On the other hand, for all the other sections you need to continue for at least another two years to be able to work. I decided to do a “BAC STG” to make my way into accountancy. But before specializing everyone who is going into a BAC has to start with a “2nd general” which is the year where the school decides if you are good enough to progress into the next level. In France, fourteen year olds are allowed to pass their “BSR” (Brevet de securite routiere) which permits teenagers to ride 50cc motorbikes or scooters. This was very useful for me because it allowed me to be more independent as I live in the countryside. In the next article I will explain about the transfer from college to Lycée.

When I first arrived in France I loved the novelty of walking down the garden to the side gate and retrieving the mail, it somehow added to the excitement. However, one day I could not quite reach the letter in the box and as I did not have the key with me I decided I would try and put my hand into the box and see if I could reach it with the tips of my fingers. I pushed my fingers as far as I could through the slot, pushed a bit more and hey presto, my hand was around the letter, but unfortunately my hand by now was firmly in the letter box as well! I decided that standing in the road with my hand in the letter box would not be the best way to meet the neighbours, so knowing that no-one in the house would hear me, I gritted my teeth and pulled my hand out still valiantly holding on to my letter. The lesson from this is always to remember to take the key to the letter box! Vive la difference.

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 15


Spice up your cooking

by Nicola Hancock My family and I have been living in the Deux-Sèvres for almost seven years. Life here has been both interesting and happy, and an ideal place for the children to grow up. When we get together with our friends and talk about England, there is one thing we are all in agreement with and that is that we miss a 'good old curry'.  With our family and friends we have had many successful home cooked meals Indian style. The downside to self-help in this cuisine here in France, is accessing the spices and herbs locally.  It is time consuming and off-putting getting the special spices together and usually means driving some distance.  As a result of these frustrations and with much encouragement from our friends, I have looked around to source authentic Indian spices, and so set up La Folie - for herbs and spices.  These are sold in one euro packs, the weight ranging from 25g to 50g depending on the particular spice, which ensures the spices are always 'fresh and full of aroma' when they are used in cooking. I also stock gram flour, chapatti flour, naan breads and pappadums which all help to complete your meal. With Christmas fast approaching I now have some gift packs available with spices sold in groups of six, along with a handcrafted wooden display block and  coordinating recipes to make it easy and fun for the recipient of the present to prepare their Indian meal. I can arrange postage to both France and England if necessary for a small extra cost. I am at the Dragon Bar in Vernoux-en-Gatine the first Monday of every month or you can see my products and prices on my website (or please see advert below).

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 16


Recipes and ideas for Christmas

by Mark Addy

Steamed Apricot and Marmalade Pudding Ingredients: • 150 grams plain flour • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda • 150 grams unsalted butter • 110 grams unrefined dark muscovado sugar • 1 medium egg beaten • 175 ml full fat milk • 150 grams dried apricots, chopped • 150 grams of thick dark marmalade Method: 1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together. 2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk and flour a little at the time until fully incorporated then add the apricot and marmalade and beat until smooth. 3. Tip the mixture into a greased 2 pint (1.1litre) pudding basin and cover with foil securely. Steam for 1½ to 2 hours. 4. Alternatively divide into 8 individual moulds, cover and steam for approx 40mins. 5. Turn out and serve with custard. This makes a wonderful lighter alternative to Christmas pudding. (If possible use Billingtons sugar.) Onion Puree with Grenadine Ingredients: • 700gms of thinly sliced onion • 120 grams of butter • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt • 1 teaspoon of pepper • 160 grams of castor sugar • 7 tablespoons of sherry vinegar • 3 tablespoon of grenadine cordial or blackcurrant cordial • 250 ml red wine Method: 1. Heat the butter in a saucepan until it turns nut brown, be careful it does not blacken. Throw in the onions, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the sugar. 2. Cover the saucepan and allow to soften and brown gradually for at least 30 mins over a gentle heat. Keep an eye on them and stir from time to time with a wooden spatula. 3. Add the sherry vinegar, grenadine and red wine and cook for a further 30 mins uncovered, stirring regularly. This onion puree must be cooked VERY GENTLY.

Winter Winederland

by John Sherwin Some suggestions for prezzies... Books. ‘Wine for Dummies’ is not as dumb as it sounds. Written by two very sound people, one a Master of Wine, this is good for the amateur looking to expand horizons. For the coffee table, but still full of fact and opinion not to mention the obligatory atmospheric pics, ‘The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopaedia’ is my choice. ‘Which Wine Which Food’ is great. Slim, pocketable and full of suggestions which you can argue over from aperitifs to digestifs. Any wine book which is reissued annually is saying little new – are you really that interested in last year’s harvest? Thought not. Paraphernalia. So much stuff, so little time. Corkscrews don’t come better than ‘Laguiole’( The classic ‘waiter’s friend’ is a gift which will last a lifetime. Not for gizmo freaks. Glasses come in all shapes and sizes. The way to escape terminal confusion is to go with the only one you will ever need – the INAO tasting glass ( From champagne to port and all stops between, they are elegant yet inexpensive – at 15 quid for six, you won’t weep if you chip one or two. ...and some suggestions for drinks For a pick-me-up, Breakfast Egg Nog (from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book): one egg; ¼ curacao; ¾ brandy; ¼ milk. Shake well, strain into long tumbler. Grate nutmeg on top. For a cocktail, go native with a kir. Two thirds dry white wine (Bourgogne aligoté was the original choice, and it’s cheap), 1/3 crème de cassis. Less cassis is fine – your taste. A final word for chocaholics: Banyuls. A sweet (ie dessert) red wine, reminiscent of port with a caramel fruitiness, if that makes sense. This strong wine enjoys getting to grips with chocolate puds – always a notoriously difficult match.

Cheers, and Merry Christmas! John Sherwin. French Wine Tours Email:,

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

You can make an alternative version by adding some small pieces of prune or dried apricot to the onions at the same time as the sherry vinegar. Ideal served with terrines, pates, cold meats (especially ham) and strong cheeses. Serve cold. Will keep for up to a week in the fridge, alternatively it freezes very well.

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 17


All of a Stir.

by Helen Aurelius-Haddock As this piece goes to print, Christmas preparations will be well under way in most households, but no matter how hard we try, it seems that everything we need to do for the festive season gets crammed into a few short weeks. Little wonder then that some tasks get left to one side, and Christmas baking so often is one of these. Mince pies, Christmas cake and puddings are often the first victims to fall by the wayside. Of course, in the UK we had the option of nipping out to the local supermarket and grabbing these items off the shelves, throwing them in the trolley and breathing a silent sigh of relief that several hours in the kitchen had been saved. Not so here in France! Yes, the French do offer an exciting array of Christmas pâtisserie, such as the bûche de Noël and the Galette de Rois. Tasty as they are, it's just not the taste of home we associate with a British Christmas. One of the most challenging things for the British cook here it sourcing ingredients. It can be a treasure hunt in the supermarket as nuts, dried fruit and marzipan are often situated next to the fruit and vegetable section and not in with the cooking ingredients which can be confusing!

our cakes to adorn the tea time table without too much trouble. So, take a look at some of the links below for a few ideas and get cooking and have a wonderful Christmas! LINKS: Simmer and Stir Christmas Cake by Mary Cadogan. Vegetarian Mincemeat by Rose Elliot lifeandstyle/2005/nov/26/foodanddrink Vegetarian Christmas Pudding by Roopa Gulati. food/recipe/aid/536566

To read more culinary musings by Helen, visit:

Pâte d’amandes, or marzipan is sold in clear wrap and is often in blocks of white, pink and green stripes – it tastes the same, and can be used like normal marzipan. The range of dried fruits can vary greatly too – some places will sell glacé cherries, others not. Currants seem to be non existent and raisins and sultanas are all sold under the name of ‘raisins’ and the larger ones I tend to regard as sultanas. Angelica is a speciality to the Deux Sèvres, and is a cake ingredient of days long gone in the UK, but will add a beautiful green hue to the fruit mix of any cake. Mixed peel can often be bought at the local market and is of excellent quality. However, what the French offer really comes into its own in the selection for dried and glacé fruits. The range is wonderful, and will add a new dimension to your Christmas baking. Papaya, mango, pineapple, strawberry, pear, apple, banana, apricots, dates and prunes are regular produce on sale, both in the supermarket and the local weekly open air markets. Why not try out a mixture of these fruits? As long as you keep the weight equal to the recipe, the cake result will be unaffected. Suet of course is the one major ingredient that does not seem to be available anywhere, and is a vital component to both home-made mincemeat and Christmas pudding. The braver amongst us could go off to the local butcher and ask for some kidney fat and finely chop that for the recipe, as this is really all suet is. However, the most practical step is to use a vegetarian recipe for home made mincemeat and Christmas pudding, where an alternative fat will be used.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

Doubtless that most of you will have your own favourite Christmas cake recipe, but I am hooked on a quick superb-tasting recipe from Good Food. There is none of the creaming and slow adding of eggs. This is a melting method cake that is done mainly over the cooker with a saucepan, and is a real time saver. Thankfully icing sugar (sucre glace) is in plentiful supply, so we can all decorate

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 18


French Adventures... This month T-Anne Christie tells us about her “French Adventure”. It was a complete life change from Social Services in Dorset. Before that, I was a qualified dental nurse and Andrew was in the army for 14 years. We needed to work but wanted to do something challenging and different in France, that involved meeting people. We both love books and tea – so it was meant to be! We had to be in a rural French area and have a good mixture of customers (to make life interesting for us and them) and needed to ensure we’d be exposed to the French language to a large degree, for both practical and natural reasons. We moved in Spring 2004 after years of searching on and off for the right property in the right place, finally finding it in the small market town of Gençay, 25 mins south of Poitiers. The large ex-Quincaillerie (Ironmongers) had been empty for more than 2 years. The electrics and plumbing needed completely renewing and were carried out by local French artisans, but everything else we did ourselves with some help and support from my parents who were very enthusiastic. Everything took longer than anticipated though; a full 7 months of work before we opened but we wanted to put in the personal effort to make the place truly ‘ours’. Taking the easy route would have been quicker but it was our ‘baby’ and it had to be right. We always wanted Christie’s to be an extension of our home, not just a shop, for our own sakes as well as our customers’. We were to spend a lot of time every day here and we believe when you’re comfortable and love the place you work in, it makes visitors feel good too. People say how they appreciate the individuality of the place, that it’s invariably relaxing no matter how busy. So many customers have become friends, both to us and through us, it’s lovely. And the diversity of nationalities constantly amazes us. To begin with, we assumed it was normal here but were soon told that it’s not, and that this adds to the overall atmosphere, making Christie’s unique (their kind words, which convinced us we’d made the right decision to move here). Running our own business involved making decisions and multi-tasking: personally selecting books, beautiful cards and stylish gifts such as china mugs, placemat sets and jigsaws that appealed to us and were not found elsewhere here, creating displays, etc. plus baking cakes for the Tea Room and producing hand-made jewellery and cards. ‘A proper bookshop’ so many first-time visitors call us (they apparently expect a few bookcases in a corner and are pleasantly surprised). A number of English teachers, most of whom are French, visit regularly on a personal basis and also to buy books for their schools. Accompanying the wide choice of teas etc. in the Tea Room we offer a daily selection of delicious English homebaking, including Lemon Drizzle Cake, Fruit Scones and Brioche Bread Pudding. From September the Christmas Cake baking began in earnest for fulfilling customer orders and serving throughout December. We also welcome groups in the Tea Room by arrangement, including staff from our local Tax Office, French/English social clubs, local Rural Families Associations and folk from a nearby Retirement Home. This year has seen the launch of a Book Group - one with

a difference. Held on the 2nd Thursday of each month, from 3pm, it’s an informal, relaxed group of readers who talk about books they’ve enjoyed (and other things too!) There are no ‘set’ books – too much like homework – just personal choices, conversation and recommendations. It’s perfect for the Christie’s setting, with an interesting mix of nationalities making for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. There’s a wide variety of brand new books, around 700 at any time, but we don’t just stock, for example, some ‘Top 20’ or increasingly common Prize Lists. As with all other aspects of our business, we apply ourselves in deciding what to offer customers. Crime thrillers and general fiction of course, we’ve a charming selection for children and a strong showing on the War front. The ‘Language Corner’ attracts lots of attention too, with its various dictionaries, bilingual texts and grammar guides plus slang and idiom books. We always sort used books according to condition, etc. so there’s no ‘blanket’ price for any book – it’s fairer and our Return for Credit system operates similarly. Any book bought at Christie’s may be returned except for Bargain stock - the majority of which are 50 cents. Sometimes, it’s just that we have too many copies, or we feel they’re not good enough for the shelves; we’re very picky! We do take in books if they’re what we’re looking for, so if you need to make space ...If you’ve a large number to bring in please do call to arrange a mutually convenient time. We’re kept very busy when open, and also after hours when an awful lot of work is done (as any small business owner will I’m sure agree) so unfortunately we can’t make trips to view books in situ. Free WiFi is available throughout Christie’s and our secluded Internet area has workstations with all facilities. December means home-baked ‘Rich & Boozy’ Christmas Cake and mmm-Mince Pies are served every day in the Tea Room and we’re holding a free Christmas raffle again this year. Gençay’s Marché Avant Noël is on Sunday 18th - a great day out, wonderful Christmassy ambience and well worth the trip, with upwards of 80 stalls. We’ll be open all day from 8.30am! Our lives here in France have been eventful and certainly an experience, with some steep learning curves. We’re always busy, working hard and putting in long hours, and sometimes wish we had a little more spare time but we love what we do and are never bored. We meet a wonderful variety of people every single day which is great because Christie’s is our life and it’s a very sociable one. We live in a great place and can’t imagine living anywhere else – it’s where we belong. (Christieʼs advert can be seen on page 22.) If you would like to share your ‘French Adventure’ with us, please email your story for consideration to: For more information, please visit the Written Contributions page on our website: page 19


Getting Out & About... Your Business “Kangoo” Electric!

by Helen Tait-Wright I have touched on electric transport before in this column, in terms of road cars, but most English people will have been familiar with electric transport for business deliveries from any early age, in the form of the milk float. The electric motor gives essential quietness of operation, as the doorstep milk delivery frequently occurs in the early hours of the morning, but also compared with petrol or diesel engine vehicles, they are also very economical to operate under the constant “stop-start” conditions of the milk round, and directly emit virtually no pollutants into the atmosphere. There is also plenty of time for the batteries to charge when the float is not in use. Milk floats have been around since the 60’s, but now Renault have applied an electric motor to another vehicle also designed to appeal to business customers who care about the environment and who are looking for maximum carrying capacity. The Renault Kangoo Van ZE offers these customers lower maintenance and running costs, a smooth and noiseless driving experience, two wheelbases depending on your payload requirements, a quoted 170 km range and zero emissions. Auto Express found in their test that “the Kangoo provides impressive throttle response and can haul large loads.” Of course with a full load in the back, the range is sure to plummet. Still, Renault says its research shows 70% of van drivers cover less than 100 km in a day. Vans used for urban deliveries would most likely return to a depot overnight where they could be charged. Using a dedicated device like this will take 6 - 8 hours, but a normal socket can be used although this will take closer to 12 hours. The battery itself is leased from Renault, for a monthly charge varying between 72 and 125 Euros depending on your contract length and the number of km you do, but this also gives 24hr all inclusive breakdown cover. I am still dubious about the practicality of all electric motoring for an everyday car, but in this situation, it really does seem to make sense. Prices are quoted around 20,000 Euros HT, but I believe there are government subsidies available in France, so you and your business can make your New Year Resolution to join the green revolution!

page 20


The history of priority on French roads.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

By Len Riddell In 1926, at one time the priority rules were not from the right, since it was not formally established until the International Convention of 24 April 1926, that priority should always be given to a vehicle from the right. In 1925, in France, the Highway Code of 1925 was created to facilitate long-distance traffic, with a right of priority in favour of vehicles on the main roads, which were then the most important routes of the road network.  But experience showed that this rule led to problems of application, and accidents, because a car driver on a minor route did not always know which category of road that he would enter. In 1927, the decree April 12, 1927 solved this problem, denoting the rule of the priority from the right in formal terms: "The driver is required at junctions and crossroads, to give way to the driver that comes from the right "   Under the current priority to right system, priority is always given to traffic entering from the right, unless priority signage overrules this.   Priority from the right is the regime that applies in the absence of signalling. If no sign is found at an intersection or if there is a panel containing a black cross the driver must give way to any vehicle coming from a road on the right. If a sign is found at an intersection with an arrow, the driver will be given priority at the next intersection. Two features are included, one vertical and thick, representing the road where the driver travels, the other end and horizontal representing the non-priority road that will be crossed. The priority road sign has a diamond resting on the tip, yellow bordered in white, which is repeated approximately every 5 km. The nonpriority roads it crosses have a stop sign or give way sign. End of priority road (after this sign you have to give way to traffic from the right, unless directed otherwise)

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 21


Find the cheapest fuel prices in your area. This government website provides comparative prices on petrol and diesel in all areas of France. Go to: and simply click the department of your choice on the map (Deux-Sèvres = Dept. 79) and a list of fuel stations will come up, giving their location and current price.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

page 22


A-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.

by Sue Burgess

Ardin Ardin with its 1236 inhabitants is situated in the Canton of Coulonges sur l'Autize. Around the historic market town over 70 hamlets can be found. Ardin gets its name from Gallic and from Latin. The prefix «Ar» means «on» and the Gallic word «dunum» meant first «the hill» and then was later used to refer to a fortified village on a hill. The inhabitants of Ardin are known as Ardinois or Ardinoises.

Asnières en Poitou The small village of Asnières, which is part of the canton of Brioux-sur-Boutonne, lies along the river Boutonne in the heart of Aulnay Forest. The village borders the Charente Maritime. The commune is unusual in that it has no church. Asnières became known as Asnières-enPoitou in 1937 to mark its geographical situation. On the road to Compostelle, the village was at one time quite important with its commandery of the Knights Templars. After the revolution Asnières was the main town of the canton. Assais les Jumeaux The commune of Assais les Jumeaux came into existence on the 1st February 1973, the date at which the two communes of ASSAIS and Les JUMEAUX joined together to form one single commune.

À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The view from the river Autize • The old shop

Argenton Les Vallées The commune of Argenton Les Vallées was created on the 1st September 2006 from the reunification of the villages of Argenton Château, Boësse and Sanzay. The remains of the château where Philippe de Commynes (the author of King Louis XI's memoirs) lived and where King Louis XI stayed, can still be seen. The commune has many other notable buildings. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The ruins of the XIIIth century château of Sanzay – the castle is a listed historic monument. • The ancient Cadoret bridge – a listed monument • Saint Gilles church whose door is a listed monument. • The chapel of the Château of Argenton château has been a listed building since 1929. • There is also a notable windmill on the D759. • The Pont Cadoret Argenton l'église Before the revolution, Argenton-les-Deux-Églises was dependent on the royal officer of Saumur. The village was present on the markets of Anjou and Poitou. Known as Argentum during the Gallic Roman period, the commune appeared in the archives for the first time as Argentonles-deux-Églises. In the XVth century the manor of Argenton-l'église was attached to the viscountship of Thouars which belonged to the Amboise family. At the time of the French Revolution the village was also called Argenton-les-deuxRivières because it is crossed by the Argenton and the Thouet. Argenton-l'Église is built on a limestone plain in which the rivers have dug out deep valleys. In 1973, the former commune of Bagneux joined Argenton-l'Église. However, Bagneux remains attached to the canton of Thouars whereas Argentonl'Église is part of the canton of Argenton-les-Vallées. There were 1588 inhabitants in 2007.

Assais les Jumeaux is a predominantly rural commune made up of plains and woods. The commune was the site of the battle of Moncontour. The tumulus of the Motte de Puytaillé is the proof of a Gallic Roman site. The 17th century presbytery has a pretty well. The bell tower of the church dates from the 15th century. A roman monument – a lantern of the dead – can be seen. The Chauvière wood is situated on the commune and there are pathways for walking and rambling. At the time of the last census the population of the commune was 761. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • During the second world war, a French soldier was shot down from the top of the bell tower of the church at Jumeaux. His helmet, with a bullet hole in it, can still be seen today, hanging above the door of the church. Aubigné Aubigné is part of the canton of Chef Boutonne and is situated in the area between the Limousin and the Gâtine vendéenne at the South edge of Poitou. The Sandre flows through the commune. The name of Aubigné appears for the first time in an act in which, in 1081, Cadelon, the viscount of Aulnay, donated the church, the priory and pasture rights to the Clunisien abbey of Montierneuf in Poitiers. But the village is in fact probably a lot older since we know that the battle between Guillaume IV, the Duke of Poitiers and Aquitaine and Foulques le Réchin, the Angevin, led to the destruction of the town which used to be found at BourgSanglant. This village had certainly been implanted around a former roman villa. At this period, the area was covered by the Great Forest of Argenson which covered the area from Benon to Tusson and Boixe in Charente. Marie de Montbron, the lady of Chef Boutonne ordered the beginning of the clearing of the forest in 1455.

Please return to this section next month to see the continuation of ʻA-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.ʼ

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 23


Secondigny-en-Gâtine in history

In the year 1068, Jocelyn, Lord of Parthenay, who had created a line of defence surrounding the Gâtine, decided to create a village, ”Castum Secondignacum” already fitted with a castle with its Saint Pierre chapel on a mound surrounded by marshland. He asked the Bourgueil monks to build a church with three naves, which probably meant that this part of the Gâtine, not far from the source of the Thouet (Thouve), was already inhabited. This church, probably located on the old chapel, collapsed several times because of the near gap protecting the castle. Pieces of the east façade walls fell in, sweeping the steeple of the church away. It was rebuilt on the south transept by doubling the thickness of the walls and columns. In the year 1200, the Lords of Parthenay, financially supported by the English, fortified this new town by surrounding it with a high wall 362 metres long. It was reinforced with several towers and two high doors with drawbridges. No Lord ever lived in the castle located at number 27 in the present street of Vendée. The paths that led to Secondigny were so impracticable, mainly in winter, that the inhabitants lived in peace for several centuries and the impressive fortifications were of no use. After the “Hundred Years War”, France was relatively peaceful. Lords were able to fortify their fiefs and settle on their lands; the Vergne, the Braudière, the Mosnerie, the Caillerie, Montiboeuf and the Petitière being the main ones. The lands became more profitable and in 1579 the 140 acres lake stretching from Prévoireau to Chef du Pont was drained to recover meadows for cattle. The shares of land due to inheritance broke up the land into small shares. The hedges around small parcels replaced the ditches of the big fiefs.

local people and a Station was set up when the old road of the big pond was widened. This tramway stopped in 1939. In 1901 the dairy in Belle Fontaine was built and employed 18 dairy men. It produced butter that tasted of nuts and finally closed its doors in 1972. In 1927 the cemetery situated at the corner of the road to Saint Aubin was moved 500 metres further out of the village. Other dates: • 1927: Electric lighting. • 1932: Building of a hall with a market place on the ground floor. • 1950: Drinking water supply. • 1952: Traffic lights at the main crossroads. • 1954: Frécul School. • 1960: A new market place (later destroyed in 2003). • 1961: First apple exhibition. • 1968: Inauguration of the CEG Louis Merle. • 1976: Opening of the 2 acres of the Effres Lake, then its swimming pool in 1978. • 2006: Inauguration of Alauna. Written by: Association Histoire et Patrimoine de Secondigny en Gâtine

In the 18th century the Royal loads (taxes) became very difficult to bear for the local lords who gradually went into exile. As a result some lands were laid fallow and peasants suffered. Many small farmers survived by taking on secondary work in the forest or by using looms. During the French Revolution, although Secondigny bordered the Vendée Wars it remained comparatively quiet and of no interest to either side. Following the 1830 disorders, the State decided to build the roads drawn by Napoleon to dis-enclave the Vendée. For Secondigny, big changes came in 1845 with the building of the long straight roads with the help of the army from Champdeniers to Angers via Bressuire and La Roche to Parthenay via Secondigny. These new roads required a lot of stone and some came from local quarries such as the Bartière. Local fortifications suffered as the stone was used for these roads and the last remains of the south tower and the west door were used to pave the new roads into the village. At this time Secondigny extended outside of the old walls, first towards Parthenay and Chef du Pont and then towards Bressuire by creating the market place, the Town Hall and finally the first schools. The Cherbonneau school for girls was built in 1888. The building became a military hospital during the first world war, but was later demolished. Towards the end of the 19th century the population of Secondigny reached its peak of 2400 inhabitants. For this reason, three aisles were added to the church in 1899. During the 20th century this essentially rural population declined and in 1999 reached a low of 1774 inhabitants. It then slowly increased and in 2009 reached 2000 inhabitants. In 1900, in addition to the lengthening of the church, the TDS line (departmental tramway in the Deux-Sèvres or “Train which often ran off the metals”) was created for

Old postcard images from

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 24


Bread of Heaven.

© The original hymn “Bread of Heaven” was written, in Welsh (Cymraeg) and English versions, by the prolific 18th century farmer/hymn writer William Williams Pantycelyn (hollow of holly trees). “Pereryn wyf mewn anial dir ... I am a pilgrim in a foreign land”. It was one of over a thousand hymns. It reminds me of Ridley Scott’s film “Kingdom of Heaven” about the crusades. The life and death of Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, is a fascinating aspect of the film. Many of the crusaders, and almost all the Templars, were aggressive men using religion as an excuse for seeking wealth in a foreign land. Pilgrims they were not! They were commanded by the then pope to increase his and their coffers. In contrast Salahadin faithfully and reverently preserved Islamic and Christian monuments at Jerusalem, as did his descendants, with no charge demanded. Lusignan was a remarkably important ecclesiastical and political centre. There the Hugues family ruled for many years, dominating the region. They seemed eventually to have been ruined by the crusades. A famous son came to be known as Guillaume de Valence, Anglicized as William of Valence. Valence is a suburb of Couhé where a Cistercian abbey was founded on the River Dive (divine) by the same family. Its remains exist today and are due for major works. The monks were very economically important, being innovative farmers.

‘Contemporary France’ France fascinates and appalls in equal measure, and a recent book by Helen Drake, Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University, UK, explores its many facets. Containing over 30 illustrations and fact boxes, ‘Contemporary France’ covers core aspects of French life including culture, society, economy and politics. It asks questions about Frenchness, and looks beyond the government for answers. Its author, Helen Drake, draws on a lifetime of studying France, speaking French and teaching sceptical British students about both. Helen is currently conducting academic research into British entrepreneurs in the Poitou-Charentes region, and would be delighted to make some new contacts for this purpose. Helen herself can be contacted directly by email on Her book ʻContemporary Franceʼ can be purchased on Amazon, priced £20.99.

On my last trip to Wales I called at Tenby in Pembrokeshire. The county was known as “little England beyond Wales”; more properly it was “little Normandy”, though there was an important Flemish colony there also. On entering Tenby’s covered market I looked up to the inscribed stone panel above the door to find that the first market charter was granted by “William of Valence”. Yes, the very same. The Normans, largely restricted to the fertile littoral parts of Wales, were much more autonomous than in England. The “landsker” line in Pemrokeshire accurately divides the areas of indigenous Welsh and Anglo-Norman regions as shown by the place names. The same applies to the Gower Peninsula and the Vale of Glamorgan. The Normans developed their boroughs together with an alien feudal system and often intermarried with royal Welsh princesses. The most famous of these was Nest. On her Norman husband’s death she became the overall ruler in south Wales. Looking at an old map of Wales one sees that much of south-east Pembrokeshire was named Valence. Now we know why. In his 15th century war of independence, Owain Glyndŵr (Shakespeare’s Owen Glendower), “The Rod of God’s Anger” (a phrase coined by a contemporary bard) took great pleasure in sacking the areas under Anglo-Norman control, capturing many of their fortresses, and sending a huge proportion of immigrants scurrying back over Offa’s dyke, along with several Anglo-Norman armies. The famous Welsh archers largely were responsible having developed and perfected the longbow. It is why, for centuries they were conscripted by law into English armies. Today Wales welcomes all visitors with legendary hospitality, but please leave your arms and armour at the toll on the Severn Crossing. By the way, Guillaume de Valence met his end violently in south Wales, never to return to the Poitou-Charentes.

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 25


Communications... How to speed up your PC – Part 4

occur the next time you restart the computer?”

4. Running the Check Disk Utility The Check Disk utility program (chkdsk) is another program that Microsoft provides to help keep your system running well. It can scan your hard disk drive and repair problems, identify bad areas on the disk and sort out files and folders that have lost their structure or got crosslinked. Running Check Disk regularly is highly recommended, it can prevent problems by identifying bad areas on the disk or act as an early warning that the hard disk is about to fail.

On Windows Vista and Windows 7 “Windows can’t check the disk while it’s in use. Do you want to check for hard disk errors the next time you start your computer?”

Over time a hard disk will start to fail, most have a three year warranty and will probably last considerably longer. If when you run Check Disk regularly, it finds bad sectors, this would be the time to ensure that you have backed up your data, and plan to purchase a new one. The kind of event that can cause disk problems are numerous, for example : power surges or reductions, having to turn off a computer when it freezes without the Windows OS shutting down properly or indeed a severe bump to a running computer can all be culprits. Once one of these errors occurs it can by itself cause other problems that will have an impact on the performance of your Computer. The best way to run Check Disk is as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Open My Computer Right-click the hard drive you wish to check and left –click Properties Left-click the Tools tab and in the Error checking section left-click the Check Now button The Check Disk Local Disk (C:) dialogue box opens Place a tick in the box to the left of; Automatically fix file system errors and left-click Start If you are checking the C: disk as above you will receive a message as below On Windows XP “The disk check could not be performed because the check disk utility needs exclusive access to some windows files on the disk. These files can be accessed only by restarting windows. Do you want to schedule the check disk to

France Telecom English Customer Services:- 09 69 36 39 00 EDF (Electricity Provider) English Helpline: 05 62 16 49 08 or 08 10 12


For Windows XP Left-click the Yes button; for Vista and Windows 7 left-click Schedule disk check

Once you restart your PC the Check Disk process will start. The process will take from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the size of your hard disk drive, the bigger the disk, the longer the check will take. If you find that each time you run Check Disk you find errors, then at step 5. (Above) place a tick in the box to the left of; Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors instead of the option above, this type of Check Disk will take longer as it is trying to find failing sectors on the disk that contain data and copy them to sectors that are working correctly. If it is necessary to run this type of Check Disk more than a couple of times it is worth getting a specialist to check the hard drive for you. Next month I will show you how to scan your PC for viruses, spyware and adware as any or all of these may have a detrimental effect on the performance of your PC. Once again if you are having difficulties please give me a call or send me an email. TTFN, Ross Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. He operates from his home on the Deux-Sèvres/Vendée border adjacent L’Absie. (See advert below for more information).

Get iPlayer in France! Assign yourself a UK IP address by going to and you will be able to use BBC iPlayer to watch those TV programs you’ve missed. Not available for AppleMac.

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 26


Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

Useful English Language Numbers...

Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres: 05 49 64 59 96 French State health insurance advice line: 08 11 36 36 46 Elizabeth Finn Care (Grants and advice if in Financial need): 04 68 23 43 79 S.O.S Helpline: 09 69 36 39 00 Hertford British Hospital (English speaking Hospital for the Paris area): 01 46 39 22 22 EDF International Customer Service : 05 62 16 49 08 CLEISS (Social security advice between countries): 01 45 26 33 41 Association La Porte Ouverte (Open Door): 05 49 87 97 36 or British Embassy (Paris): 01 44 51 31 00 Funeral Information (AFIF): 01 45 44 90 03 or 06 08 24 42 71 Passport Advice: 0044 208 082 4729

Consulates: Bordeaux: 05 57 22 21 10 Lille: 03 20 12 82 72 Lyon: 04 72 27 81 70 Marseille: 04 91 15 72 10

Building & Renovation... Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert! Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 27


Top Seasonal Plumbing Tips

by Robert Walker *Boiler Servicing and Maintenance; with winter time upon us an annual boiler service is essential, to ensure your boiler is running at optimum efficiency. The engineer that carries out your service should be able to issue you with a printout showing the performance of your boiler. *Anti-freeze for heating systems; an anti-freeze product can be added to your heating system, this is especially useful for people with holiday homes or those travelling away from France for prolonged periods and saves having to drain your system down. *Heating Regulation; there are several ways to improve the efficiency of your heating system. A simple and effective solution is the installation of thermostatic radiator valves and programmable room thermostats, this being a cheaper option to improve your fuel consumption. Another option, though more expensive, would be to install a motorised mixing valve to regulate flow-and-return temperatures preventing your boiler from continuously cycling. The obvious tip of extra insulation, whenever you can, will also save euros spent on fuel. *Heat Calculations; if extending your heating system, replacing radiators or starting from scratch, always remember that room calculations for sizing radiators are vital as you do not want a little radiator that is practically too hot to touch. *Water Softeners; Although not a seasonal tip, this is something I am installing very frequently now. The water as you all know is extremely hard in this region, causing major problems with sanitary ware, hot water cylinders and other appliances. The installation of a water softener will prevent any calcium build up and the benefits of soft water are superb.

Artisans & Tradesmen..... Do you have any top tips you can share with our readers? If so, we would love to include them in this section! Please email to:

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

Please feel free to be in contact if you have any queries on any of my recommendations. Robert Walker Plomberie,, (Please see advert directly below).

page 28


Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 29


~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 30


Since we started to renovate our house 3 years ago, we have built up a collection of building/renovation terms in French & English. Here are some that may help you if you are doing similar works. There are French/English dictionaries available with many more building terms and words listed. brick................................. brique (f) breeze block.................... parpaing (m) glass brick....................... brique de verre (f) cement............................ ciment (m) chimney............................ cheminée (f) chimney cap..................... chapeau de cheminée (m) concrete........................... béton (m) damp-proof membrane.... couche isolant (f) deadline........................... délai (m) delivery date..................... délai de livraison (m) downpipe (guttering)......... tuyau de descente (m) expanding p/u foam filler... mousse expansive polyurethane (f) filler................................... enduit (m) framework......................... charpente (f) gable................................. pignon (m) gravel................................ gravillon (m), gravier (m) grout.................................. mortier (m) gutter................................. gouttiere (f) ladder................................ échelle (f) lime................................... chaux (f) metal rail............................ rail metallique (m) meter, electricity or water... compteur (m) partition wall...................... cloison (f) plaster............................... plâtre (m) plasterboard...................... plaque de plâtre (f) rafter.................................. chevron (m)

to refurbish...................... to render.......................... to renovate...................... roll................................... roof.................................. roof tile............................ RSJ................................. sand................................ sandblaster...................... sandstone........................ scaffolding....................... screed............................. setting agent.................... shovel.............................. skip.................................. skirting board................... staircase.......................... staple gun........................ steel................................. stone............................... tarpaulin.......................... trestle.............................. wall.................................. wheelbarrow.................... window............................ window sill.......................

remettre à neuf (v) enduire (v) rénover (v) rouleau (m) toit (m) tuile (f) poutre en fer (f) sable (m) sableuse (f) grès (m) échafaudage (m) chape (f) fixateur (m) pelle (f) benne (f) plinthe (f) escalier (m) agrafeuse (f) acier (m) pierre (f) bache (f) tréteau (m) mur (m) brouette (f) fenêtre (f) rebord de fenêtre (m)

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 31


Business, Finance & Property... New tax treatment of trusts in France by David Franks, Chief Executive, Blevins Franks. Many British people have, or would like to have, a trust for the various benefits they provide. While tax mitigation is often a key reason for setting up a trust they can also offer many other benefits for you and your family. The French authorities have however become wary of trusts in recent years, viewing them as a mechanism for tax avoidance. Legislation relating to trusts was introduced as part of the amended 2011 Finance Act which came into force on 30th July 2011. There is no distinction between different types of trusts so they are all treated the same (though overseas pension trusts are specifically exempt). Trustees now have to follow strict reporting requirements. They must report to the French authorities when a trust is set up, wound up or any changes are made, as well as the market value of the assets at 1st January each year. To discourage the creation of trusts by French residents, those set up from 31st July 2011 are subject to a flat tax rate of 60%.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

The other key changes affect wealth and succession taxes and many people will find their trust assets are now liable to these two taxes. Exactly how your trust will be taxed depends on what the assets are, where you (as the settlor) are resident, where your beneficiaries are resident and how long you have been in France. The situation varies depending on your circumstances so it is essential to seek personalised advice. At least income or gains on the underlying assets will continue to accumulate tax free – they are only taxable when distributed. The new rules are complex and rudimentary, and there are still many areas of uncertainty. If you are the settlor or beneficiary of a trust, or have been thinking of setting one up, you need to take professional advice from a firm like Blevins Franks to determine how the new legislation will affect you and if you can take any action to mitigate its impact. To keep in touch with the latest developments in the offshore world, check out the latest news on our website

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 page 32


Siddalls France.... Who are we? Siddalls France has been providing independent financial advice in France for fifteen years. We have a network of regional advisers across the country who can provide support and expert advice on many issues that may affect your personal finances. All of our advisers are fully conversant with both the French and UK Fiscal systems. How can we help you? Our consultants will be able to identify any problem areas that need to be addressed and suggest solutions in accordance with your personal requirements. We can provide you with assistance on: • Taxation - we can ensure that your affairs are structured to help minimise your taxes • The French inheritance system – strict French inheritance laws can be a nasty shock if proper advice is not sought • Pensions advice and managing money for your retirement - we can ensure that your pension arrangements work for you in France • Savings and investment –we can recommend a suitable strategy from a very wide range of investment and saving • Regulated advice in France and a local contact to ensure peace of mind and a close relationship Why Siddalls? Siddalls France is authorised and regulated by the French authorities. Our bilingual staff are there to provide up to date information and deliver British standards of trust, loyalty and a supportive on-going service. All of our consultants are salaried members of staff and receive regular training to ensure they keep up to date with the ever changing rules and regulations. All advice is in English, as technically difficult subject matter is usually best understood when it is presented in the language you are most comfortable with. Also, as our advisers are all British citizens resident in France, they understand the cultural issues you face, as well as the financial ones. Finally any initial meeting is without obligation and in the strictest of confidence. Next steps Siddalls provides a range of free Help Sheets that can be downloaded direct from our website For further information or should you have any other financial areas you wish to confidentially review, please contact your local adviser Mr David Hardy who works from our head office at Bordeaux. Parc Innolin, 3 Rue du Golf, 33700 MERIGNAC Call us on: 05 56 34 75 51 or email: David Hardy - Siddalls Adviser in Poitou-Charente David Hardy is the Regional Manager for the PoitouCharentes. He is there to provide support and upto-date information on any issues that may affect your finances when becoming a French resident. He is able to explain and identify problems in a language you will understand, identify any problem areas that need to be addressed and suggest personalised solutions. The things David does on a day-to-day basis include advising clients on tax, inheritance and investment planning. He helps his clients to integrate their finances in France so that they pay less tax on their savings, help them gain additional sources of income, if required, from such savings and ensure that their money is passed on according to their inheritance wishes.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert! page 33


Allez-Français Library. Initial offer consideration

by Peter Elias. As we have said before in this column, market conditions continue to be difficult. Given that scenario, it is sometimes surprising the reaction that we get when we call vendors with details of an offer on their property. Let’s face it, this is good news – we have received an offer from the clients who visited your property recently, and there are far more properties for sale than buyers. In this market, offers tend to be below the full asking price, but not always we have just agreed a sale at the full asking price of the property being made available for sale. Also within the first month – principally because the vendors took our advice about pricing! We appreciate that offers below the full asking price can disappoint and whilst you may have hoped for a higher offer, do bear in mind the following points: • It is not realistic to expect to recoup all of your costs (initial price +notaire’s fees +agency fees + improvements carried out), the French market does not work like that. • Similarly, you cannot price your house based upon what it is going to cost you to purchase a property back in the UK if you are returning there. • Additionally, adverse currency movements cannot be taken into account. Your property is in a marketplace priced in Euros, and the movement of the £ against this single currency cannot be used as a reason for rejecting an offer. • Cash buyers, as opposed to those requiring a mortgage loan, should be welcomed, and they will expect to negotiate a deal. They know that they are in a strong position. • The first offer received on a property is very often the best one achieved. As a property ‘ages’ on a portfolio, today’s buyers are aware of the length of time a property has been available, and the longer that period is, the higher the discount (price reduction) that they will seek becomes. This is the same for any product life cycle.

Advertise your private house sale here... From 10€ per month

We have many vendors who regret turning down their initial offer – the old adage that a crystal ball would be a wonderful thing is never more true than in property sales. We suggest to vendors that they should ask themselves one simple question – will you regret turning this offer down in say 3, 6 or perhaps 12 months time? If the answer is ‘maybe’ or ‘yes’, then talk to us about the offer and how we can make the maximum for you. If you are confident the answer is ‘no’ then we need to go back to the clients accordingly. For me, I find that in most instances, once someone has taken the decision to market their property, they want to sell as quickly as possible. They want to get on with the next phase of their lives. It is no use thinking about what may be, there are so many ‘what-ifs’ in life. If you have an offer on the table you have the opportunity move on, so don’t be afraid to take it. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial) Email: Tel: 05 49 27 01 22

page 34

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2011  

English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas in France.