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Annual Subscription Costs: 29,50€ within France, 18€ UK addresses. (Unfortunately the cheaper ‘printed papers’ rate cannot be applied to addresses within France, only when sending abroad) Full Name:.................................................................................................. Postal Address:........................................................................................... ................................................................................................................... Postcode:..................................... Country:............................................. Tel:.............................................................................................................. Email:.......................................................................................................... Please make cheques payable to SARAH BERRY.

Welcome! to Issue 42 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

We have a BUMPER issue for you this month! Something for the holidays - with lots of interesting articles, things to do, book reviews and advertising to find that important tradesman for jobs this Autumn. The centre pages highlight days out to the coast. These have been suggested as trips within a manageable distance from the centre of Deux-Sèvres. We have helped you along with a milage chart on P.30 so please refer to this if unsure of travelling times and remember to keep plenty of bottled water in the car for journeys in the heat. Trade Fair preparations are now in full swing for next month. It promises to be bigger and better than the last two years and if you are a business and haven’t yet reserved your stand, get in touch today - we have limited spaces left. Have a wonderful August with friends and family and take care in the sun :-)

à plus, Sarah

Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: website:

Emergency Numbers: 15 SAMU (Medical Advice) 17 Gendarmes (Police) 18 Pompiers (Fire Service)

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

Contents What’s On. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Getting Out & About 6 Le Coin Français 12 A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres 13 Hobbies 14 Clubs & Associations 18 Health, Beauty & Fitness 19 Our Furry Friends 23 Home & Garden 25 Spotlight On... 28 Take a Break 31 French Life 32 Communications 34 Food & Drink 36 Motoring 39 Building & Renovation 42 Business & Finance 47 Property 51

This Month’s Advertisers

79 Renovations ABORDimmo Ace Pneus (Tyre supplier & Fitter) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petit Travaux (Builder) A La Bonne Vie  Alan Pearce (Plumbing & Heating) Andrew Longman (Plumber) ARB French Property Tree Surgery Art de la Breche (Art Gallery) Atelier JM Toledo (Rug repairs & Cleaning) BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Bill McEvoy (Plumber / Heating Engineer) Blevins Franks Financial Management British Mobile Mechanic (John Purchase)

43 51 40 2 45 36 41 41 51 26 7 26 47 41 48 40

Café des Belles Fleurs Camping Les Prairies du Lac Canicloture (Hidden Fencing for Dogs) Centre Régional “Résistance & Liberté” Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Heating/Electrical/Plumbing) Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) CJ Electricité Cleaning Services by Karen Clean Sweep Chimney Services Currencies Direct - Sue Cook Cut 46 (Hair Salon) David Cropper (Stump Grinding & Jungle Busting) David Watkins Chimney Sweep DB électricité Double Glazing Installation with Haynes Carpentry Down to Earth Pool Design Duncan White - Agent Commerciale D.W. Cooper (Carpenter, Roofer, Mason) Ecopower (Solar Thermal Trading Company) Eirl Porge Couhe ULM Loisirs Électricien Anglais en France Emilie Baudrez (French Classes & Translation) Festival Vendée Country Music Fîete Littéraire Bilingue (Litfest) Franglais Deliveries French Wine Tours Futuroscope GAN Assurances Parthenay George Rayner Computers Give the Dog a Comb (Dog Grooming) Hallmark Electronique Holistic Therapy - Soul to Sole Homes in France Ian Parrington Wood Burning Stoves ICO Electricité Insink Plumbing Irving Location - Digger Hire Jeff’s Metalwork Jilly Rosenberg Mobile Hairdresser John Pate (Renovations) John Snee Groundworks Julia Hunt - Agent Commerciale Keith Banks (Swimming Pool Maintenance) La Deuxième Chance (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint supplier) Lawrence Associates (Renovations etc) Le Clémenceau Leggett Immobilier Mad Hatter’s Kitchen Menuiserie Fermeture Porge (PVC Windows and doors) Michael Glover Michael William Hairdressing ML Computers Motor Parts Charente MSS Construction Musée des Tumulus de Bougon Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Nathan Foster Building Services Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology) Pascale Matéo (French Tuition) Pastyfest & Garden Fete Plan 170 (Professional Scale Drawings) Polar Express (Frozen Foods) Premier Autos (Mechanic) Puy Rond Camping Residence Services 85 Restaurant des Canards Rob Berry Plastering Services Robert Walker Plomberie Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) Sacred Drum Healing Circle Sarah Berry Online - Graphic Design & Website Creation Sarl Down to Earth (Fosse Installations & Groundworks) Satellite TV Siddalls (Financial Advisors) Simon the Tiler Simply Homes & Gardens Steve Enderby Steve Robin (Plumber) Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) The Craft Cabin (Handmade Cards and Card-making items) The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Spectrum IFA Group - Amanda Johnson Tout Faire Materiaux (Building materials) Trisha Mobile Hairdresser Val Assist (Translation Services) Vata Beauty Venus Rose Yoga Yoga Vendée

38 32 23 9 44 46 7 46 26 44 49 20 26 44 46 43 51 52 43 46 15 46 11 9 8 40 37 56 39 35 23 46 22 54 27 46 41 44 45 20 43 43 52 51 26 45 38 52 38 42 43 20 35 40 43 8 39 45 22 11 8 44 38 40 7 51 36 45 41 34 21 35 44 35 50 44 26 41 41 11 8 40 49 45 20 11 21 19 21

© Sarah Berry 2014. 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 is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. <<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, Clkr, Shutterstock, GraphicStock et Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: août 2014 - Tirage: 5500 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 3

What’s On...

Every Friday - Quiz Night At Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne. Please see advert on P.36 for details. Monday 4th - 100th Anniversary since Great Britain joined the First World War. Weekend 8/9/10th - The Mad Hatter’s Music Festival At Caunay, 79190. Read all about it on P.7. Wednesday 13th - A Filling Station Talk by Rev Caroline Sackley “Heeding God’s Call” at 7.30pm. See advert on P.5. Friday 22nd - Bal Traditionnel Music event at Béceleuf with band ‘Red Checks’ performing. See advert on P.6 for details. Friday 22nd - Jazz Night Live jazz evening with Abtuse Sextet at A La Bonne Vie restaurant, Le Beugnon. See details on advert, P.36. Saturday 23rd - Big Vide Grenier/Brocante In Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay, organised by the Association ‘Tennis Loisirs Beaulieu Vouhe’. Further details on P.9. Saturday 23rd - Live Jazz Evening At Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. See advert on P. 38 for details. Weekend 23/24th - Festival of Country Music For details please see advert on P.9 or visit Weekend 29-31st - Binlingual Litfest A busy weekend event at St Clémentin 79150. See details on P.8. 30th August - Leisurely Walk & Picnic At Clussais-le-Pommeraie. Please see details on advert P.5 or call 05 49 27 22 83. Sunday 31st - Les Jardiniers du Poitou Annual Produce Show At Le Logis du Theil, St Aubin le Cloud. For information please contact via email:

What’s Coming Up...

5th September - Expat Camping Rally At Puy Rond Camping, Bressuire. For info, please see advert on P.7. 7th September - Pastyfest and Garden Fête At L’Hermitage, Puy de Serre. 11am - 5pm. See advert on P.8. 12th September - Live Music With AVee & Andy Em At Café des Belles Fleurs, Feniox. 20th September - ‘The DSM’ Anglo-French Trade Fair At Secondigny 79130 with Live music, Fish n chips, Jim’s Huskies and 70+ trade stands. Last few stands available, call Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 to reserve yours. 20th September - Book Sale At the old Salle, Linanzay. 10.30am-3.30pm. 28th September - Big Book Fayre and Arts & Crafts With Reel Fish and Chips at Paperback Jan’s, La Ferriere-enParthenay 79390. Call Jan on 06 08 30 73 29 for details.

August 2014 The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, hold English speaking monthly services. • • •

1st Sunday at 10.30am: At St Leger, near Melle. Followed by tea & coffee. 2nd Sunday at 11.00am: the home of Ann White, Jassay 4th Sunday at 10.30am: the Presbytery Rooms, rue de la Citadelle, Parthenay (opposite St Croix Church). Followed by tea & coffee, and a ‘bring and share’ lunch.

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information about location of churches and what else is happening near you, please take a look at our website or contact us by email: The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact 05 49 87 89 16 or email: ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month, on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee is served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share` lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship A warm welcome awaits you at our meetings in the Vendée on the 1st & 3rd Sunday in the month at 11am. We meet at The Barn, off the D960B between Pouzauges and Chantonnay. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship with refreshments. To find out more please contact Chris Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or Des Vine 05 49 74 18 27 or visit:

LOCAL MARKETS Mondays.........

Benet 85490 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140


Lezay 79120 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 Bressuire 79300

Wednesdays.... Parthenay 79200 Thursdays........ Sauzé-Vaussais 79190

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine Published by Sarah Berry La Bartière, 79130 SECONDIGNY ------Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: 4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800

Friday............... Thouars 79100 Melle 79500

Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200

Sundays............ Coulon 79510 Neuville-de-Poitou 86170


SATURDAY 30th AUGUST BRING YOUR OWN PICNIC BBQ FACILITIES AVAILABLE DRINKS & HOMEMADE CAKES TO BUY Registration at 10.30am at the Football Stadium behind the Salle des Fêtes 5€ adults, 2€ children A short performance by The Pommeraie Players at 2pm. A FUN DAY FOR ALL THE FAMILY

Open 6.30-9pm

Paperback Jan Books in English

Reel Fish & Chips August

Find me at these venues during August: 1st: Bar de la Paix, Thouars 79100. 11.30am - 2pm 1st: Tipsy Bar, Coulonges 79160. 4pm - 6pm 2nd: Café Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole 79400. 10am - 1pm 3rd: Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux 79160. 2pm - 4pm 6th: Café Cour de Miracle, Vouvant 85120. 2.30pm - 4.30pm 7th: Brasserie Vue du Chateau, Bressuire 79300. 11am - 1pm 7th: Pause! Café, L’Absie 79240. 2pm - 5pm (no exchanges) 8th: Jan’s Home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay 79390.11am - 1pm 8th & 9th:Mad Hatter’s Music Festival - afternoons 13th: Le Don Jon Bar, Moncontour 86330. 4pm - 6pm 27th: Jan’s Home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay 79390. 1pm - 6pm 28th: Le Relais des 2 Moulins, Clessé 79350. 4pm - 6pm 29th: Le P’tit Bar Boucard, Menigoute 79340. 4pm - 6pm 31st: Le Logis du Theil, St Aubin le Cloud - Garden Show For more info contact Jan on: 06 08 30 73 29 or email:

Fri 1st Weds 6th & 20th Fri 8th Sats 9th & 23rd Thurs 21st Fri 22nd

Bar Le Chap’s, La Chapelle Thireuil The Canteen, Etusson Bar Tabac PMU, Bouille-Loretz Bar Vue du Chateau, Bressuire Bar Tabac PMU, St Martin de Sanzay Quiz Night, Tigne

Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 -

Open 6.30-9pm (incl. Bank Holidays)

Mr T’s Friterie

With regular venues at: • • •

Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) Matha 17160 Gourville 16170

• •

St Hilaire de Villefranche


St Jean d’Angély 17400

See for details or call 06 02 22 44 74

Top Hat Quiz & Curry

From 7pm

Open 6 - 8pm

Dates & Venues for August:

4th: Limalonges 7th: Chef Boutonne 11th: Theil Rabier 13th: Aigre 21st: Champniers

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 - more info at

Fish 4 Chip Mondays: Tuesdays: Wednesdays: Thursdays: Fridays:

Bar Tilleuls, Champniers (near Civray) Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square) Chef Boutonne (near Chateau) Sauzé-Vaussais - Evening (Main square) Mansle (car park of Simply Supermarket)

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20 -

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2014 Friday 15th August............Assumption of Mary (Assomption) Sunday 5th October. .........Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grand-pères) Saturday 1st November.....All Saint’s Day (Toussaint) Tuesday 11th November....Armistace Day (Armistace) Thursday 25th December...Christmas Day (Noël) Dates in blue are celebration days, not public holidays

Open 6-8.30pm La Vendée Chippy Wednesdays: Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thursdays: Bar ‘La Rando’, Mervent Fridays: Bar ‘Au Bon Coin’, Thoursais Bouildroux + 2nd August: Le Clemenceau 85390 Mouilleron en Pareds Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 -

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 5

Getting Out & About

The Mini-Tour...

by Brian Whittington

The Abtuse Sextet was formed in late 2010. The members of the original band met in jazz workshops at the well-known ‘7 Arts Centre’ in Leeds in the UK. Some of the band had spent years playing in rock and pop bands but we were drawn together by a shared enthusiasm for a range of more complex and challenging music - particularly jazz and latin music, often with roots in the blues. Our early performances were in local Leeds venues and we still have a monthly gig at the Grove Inn in Leeds, a long-standing jazz venue. We now play in venues from Yorkshire to London. Three of the current line-up make their living through their musical expertise - one is a music therapist, one an expert in music production and technology, another is a full-time musician/performer. The others, an IT specialist, a businessman and an academic - play for the simple joy of it. Just before our Vendéen trip last year, we began working with our vocalist, Becca McSharry. She has added a new dimension to our repertoire and has been a big hit with audiences. The Vendée mini-tour started with a late night conversation over a bottle of wine (or two) and an invitation to band members to visit our house near La Chataigneraie for une petite vacance. “Bring your instruments” I said “and we’ll play a couple of gigs for fun”. This will be our third year in the Vendée and our third visit to A La Bonne Vie in Le Beugnon, where a full house has always made the trip worthwhile. (Fri 22nd August) We are also looking forward to our first gig at Café des Belles Fleurs Fenioux (Sat 23rd Aug). We will be playing a different set at each venue - more mellow on Friday, beat on Saturday suit different tastes. Come and see us either or both venues, we are only here once a year!


up to

Above: Playing at A La Bonne Vie last year (Brian Whittington is the saxophonist and band leader in the Abtuse sextet)

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

What Sort of Bird is That?

Visit Vouvant this month and enter a fantasy world of colourful birds, created from the imagination of artist Mich Mao. The 32 whimsical birds are made from scrap metal, including recycled automobile parts, and re-born as playful characters. They are nesting this summer in gardens, along the ramparts and in the river of this medieval village designated as a petite cité de caractère, a plus beau village de France, a village fleurie, a village des peintres, and also nominated as one of France’s favourite villages for 2014. Maps to the birds, which follow the circuitous route of the painters’ studios, and the location of 12 artists’ studios are available in the Tourist Information Office and in various village businesses. Ask also for the “Painters Passport” and get signatures from eight artists in their studios to enter a competition to win a painting. In addition to the birds of Mich Mao, other exhibits available in Vouvant in August and September are: • Works by sculptor, Pierre Augustin Marboeuf and painter, Jacques Astoule until Sunday 24th August in the nef Thédolin. • “Painting in the Streets,” an invitational and juried competition, Sunday 10th August. • Works by painter, JeanMarie Monnier, “Van Mo” begins Wednesday 27th August - Sunday 14th September in the nef Théodolin. Opening: 29th August at 6pm, public invited. Also, Sundays in August, tour the artists’ studios by horse and carriage, leaving from the church at 4pm and 5pm. So visit Vouvant, enjoy its beauty and be delightfully entertained by its birds.

Music Workshops this Summer

by Anne Dessens

The uniqueness of our workshops is several fold. First of all we have an excellent lineup of professional and well-known professors for each instrument, notably Patricia Ouvrard for vocal techniques and Alain Debiossat for the advanced jazz ensemble, without forgetting JunLuc Ouvrard, for guitar Above: Florent Chardevel in an MAO workshop rock and MAO, Jean-Michel Antolin for harmony arrangements and jazz guitar, Toto Terny for drums just to name a few. Secondly, we offer an all-inclusive package which is quite affordable at Le Vignaud, an enclosed domain with full accommodation, so people who are not based locally (or those who are!) can relax and focus on the music throughout the week. Finally, we offer a nightly Jam session or boeuf as the French prefer to call it, where it’s open mic night and everyone has the opportunity to perform favourites and standards in all sorts of styles with other musicians.  While the workshops are mainly in French, there are fewer language barriers with music.  There are several Anglophones available for any further explanations, namely myself, an American who has been living in France for the past 20 years in Coulonges-sur-l’Autize. We have workshops available this August. On 18th-22nd, there will be three workshops going on at the same time: advanced jazz vocals, MAO (digital sound recording/mastering) and advanced jazz ensemble. Our workshops are an excellent opportunity for musicians to meet other musicians. To find out more, visit our website: or find us on Facebook:

8, 9 & 10th


It’s all go at Mad Hatter’s Kitchen as we prepare our fourth summer music and food festival. Starting on Friday and Saturday afternoons with free entry until 6pm, we have classic cars, motorbikes and vintage bicycles, trade stalls, bar with Dorset REAL ALE, and CIDER! A BBQ and roast pork, cream teas and ice creams, bouncy castle, and bungee trampoline - plus live acoustic music from local artists. At 6pm the bands start the evening’s entertainment. We have 5 bands playing each night, you can buy an entrance only ticket for 10€. Or, if you like, there is a 25€ pp ticket which includes a lovely buffet. Our special offer is for a two-night ticket for 40€ pp. We have camping weekend tickets available at 35€ pp which also includes a BBQ meal.

Photo: Pamela Jayne Photography

The Association ‘Ateliers Musicaux de l’Autize’ has been presenting in Neuil-sur-l’Autize for the past seven years. We run workshops which are open to both amateurs (with a decent level) and semiprofessional (or completely professional) musicians.

On Sunday we have an afternoon session of music from local bands, free entry. A BBQ meal with wine will be available for 15€. Bands performing are: • Lamuzguele (alt swing) • Polly and the Billet Doux (gypsy rock) • Alexis Charrier and Norman John (pop rock) • Mazo Mc Abbe and the Zombie Orchestra (alt swing circus) • The Brian Mc Combe band (Trad irish) • Moley and the Crooks (blues/rock) • Heavy Billie (bluegrass/rock) • Stoney River Band (country) • Acid Fish (rock) • Kate stone (acoustic guitar and vocals) Lots more info on the website email: ~ Tel: 05 49 27 67 29 Please let us know you are coming!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 7

Celebrate Summer with a Visit to the LitFest . . . a Unique Event Now is the time to reserve your place at the 2nd bilingual LitFest (Fête Littéraire Bilingue), a unique event in France taking place in the historic village of St Clémentin (10 minutes North of Bressuire) 29th, 30th & 31st August. There are 60 events. The FULL programme for each day can be downloaded from Reading events are FREE but there is a charge for workshops. For writers there are six workshops covering creative writing, historical novels and poetry. There are two academic workshops: the legacy of Sylvia Plath and the influences of three major literary figures, Lawrence, Hughes and Plath. On Friday the 29th, Blake Morrison will be reading from his biographies, novels and poetry. Michèle Roberts will be reading her sensuous prose and Leigh Russell will entertain you with excerpts from her acclaimed Geraldine Steele whodunits. For light relief meet Terry & Monica Darlington and Jim the Whippet (the crew of the Phyllis May). Hear how this threesome crossed the channel in a long boat and find out about their latest adventures. To keep you going The Copper Kettle Teashop is open daily and Chez Didier is open all day and evening. The festival bookshop will be open from 9am - 5pm and all authors will be available to sign copies and talk about their work with you. For reservations contact

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Fellow Bargain Hunters... Don’t miss out on the ‘Grand Brocante/ Vide-Grenier’ in Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay on Saturday 23rd August. Taking place in the pleasant setting of the sports ground, grassy and bordered by trees, only 10 minutes from Parthenay, you will discover many curious and original objects, ranging from home furnishings to leisure. With a total of 150 stands you are bound to see something you want! Various activities such as a dog agility demonstration will complement the day, you can benefit from the presence of local food producers, and there will also be food on site. To reserve a stand, contact the number on the poster (P.6) before 10th August. We look forward to seeing you!

Next month we

Spotlight On Thouars ....

Deadline: 15th August 2014 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 9

News from the Pays de Gâtine!

Photo contest 2014

by Elizabeth Draper

Interested in Photography?

Following the local elections in March, 16 English speakers were elected to 82 communes in Pays de Gatine. The newly elected councillors were invited to the offices of Pays de Gâtine on Thursday 19th June for an introduction by Mr Ronan Cesbron, the director, to the various levels of the French system of government of which the communes form the grassroots. Each commune elects a number of councillors in proportion to the number of people in the commune and with the increasing number of other members of the European Community now living permanently in France, it was felt that they should be represented. Julia Salvat, who works for the of Pays de Gâtine in the Accueil des populations Nord‐Européennes and is also a councillor for La Ferrière, was there to help us with the more difficult aspects of translation. My journey started at the vin d’honneur in La Chapelle Thireuil early in the New Year when I was invited to stand for election. As I had not registered to vote, I had to prove I was over 18 (not a problem!), had paid all my taxes, had not lost my right to live in my home country and finally there was a police check. Then I could join the other candidates to decide on our manifesto. Finally the great day arrived, Sunday 23rd March. I played my part during a voting session by being put in charge of the ballot box with the French candidates who were given the more onerous tasks of checking Carte d’identité and the electoral lists. As a second vote was not needed, we could proceed to the next stage, electing the mayor and deputies a week later. To my great surprise and no little consternation I was informed that as the oldest member of the group it was up to me - la doyenne- to preside over the voting.

Over the Water

by Joelle Henstridge

There is a photography contest, open to all and organised by the Associations, Comité d’Animation et de Développement de l’Office de Tourisme du Pays de SainteHermine and Histoire et Patrimoine du Canton de Sainte-Hermine which is currently running until 31st October 2014. This year’s theme: ‘Over the water’. This is an opportunity to explore streams, rivers, canals and bridges in the Vendée and the Deux-Sèvres. Capture images of the aquatic environment (only fresh water please!) and express your interest in the rural heritage (bridges , mills, fountains etc.) that are in relation to this natural element. Let your imagination wander and lead us to the extraordinary! Photography Workshops During the Autumn, a series of photography workshops have been organised by the Tourist Office of Sainte-Hermine for young people aged 11 to 15 years old. Hosted by Emilie Chataigner and fellow photographers, these will be running: Saturday 27th September, Saturday 11th October and Saturday, 25th October 2014 (10am to 4pm). Information and registration details can be found at the Tourist Office in Sainte-Hermine, 35 route de Sainte-Hermine Nantes 85210. Tel. Email:

The council meets regularly and we are all assigned specific areas and organisations. How am I coping? Not too badly I hope! I have been made very welcome by the group and find that I can understand most of the discussions but have been instructed to always interrupt and ask for clarification if I am not sure about anything. I am really looking forward to contributing more as the term of office progresses and am available in the commune to assist English-speakers who need help; if I cannot help directly I will probably know a person who can. Contact: For details of councillors in Pays de Gâtine contact: julia.salvat@

Awards and Exhibition 7-9th, 11th and 15/16th November 2014 at the Salle municipal, La Chapelle- Thémer (3pm to 7pm).

H o wz at!

Maille Cricket Club are pleased to announce their new sponsor for 2014: Blevins Franks International tax and wealth management. They have kindly donated a generous sum to help purchase new kit and playing equipment for this and future seasons. Maille Cricket Club was founded five years ago by some passionate ex-pats who yearned for the sound of leather on Willow. It is open for players of all standards. The focus is on fun, (though winning a game is worth the effort!) we play a mixture of games against other French teams, touring sides and competitive inter club games. We are always on the lookout for new players and supporters and the new sponsorship deal allows the club to provide a good environment for us to enjoy ourselves.

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Further details of our location, fixtures and contact details can be found on our website:

Above: Bradely Warden of Blevins Franks presenting to the team

Les Grandes Vacances by Sue Burgess In the news all through the month of August, les grandes vacances (the long holidays) have often been at the centre of debates about education. In the beginning, school holidays fitted in with the main catholic holidays except for the grandes vacances which were linked to agricultural activities.

In fact, right from 1231, Pope Grégoire II gave holidays for farming work. These holidays were not supposed to be more than a month long and were called vendanges (harvest). During the 14th century, les congés scolaires (school holidays) began to cut into the school term. In 1800, the holidays began on the 5th August and finished on the 20th September. These holidays corresponded to the help that the children had to give during the wine harvest (vendanges) and crop harvest (moisson). Napoleon III gave 5 extra days for Easter in 1860. School holiday dates were harmonised under the Third Republic in 1939. The 10 weeks of summer holidays were the wish of the country populations. In 1950, 49% of the French population still carried out a rural profession. The crop and wine harvests went from August to the end of September and a lot of help was needed including that of teenagers. However, the setting up of congés payés (paid holidays) in 1936 turned the school holiday calendar upside down. From 1955, with the relative wealth which went with les trente glorieuses (the thirty years of economic growth between 1945 and 1975), many families went on holiday immediately after the 1st July, upsetting the end of the school year (la fin de l’année scolaire) which was between the 1st and the 15th July. From 1960, the date of going back to school (la rentrée) was brought forward to the 16th September and the start of the grandes vacances was fixed at the 28th June. Children under 12 were allowed extra days off between the 15th and the 30th September, if their presence on the farm was needed. Under the impulsion of different teaching movements, les grandes vacances have become les vacances d’été (the summer holidays) and have been shortened by two weeks. The November half term holiday has been extended to 10 days and there are also two two-week holiday periods in FebruaryMarch and April-May. The extra days for September have disappeared from the school calendar. Vocabulaire / Vocabulary Les grandes vacances...............

the long holidays

Les vacances d’été....................

the summer holidays

Les congés payés......................

paid holidays

La moisson...............................

crop harvest

La récolte..................................

harvest (fruit, vegetables)

Les vendanges..........................

grape harvest


to harvest the grapes


to reap to harvest


to harvest / to pick / to gather

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 11

Le Coin Français Il n’est Chabichou que du Poitou par Monique Pasquier

La saison du printemps annonce, jusqu’à l’automne, les meilleures périodes pour déguster du fromage de chèvre. Ce fromage dont une légende dit qu’il serait apparu vers 732 quand Charles Martel repoussa les Sarrasins à Poitiers. Certains d’entre eux ne repartirent pas dans leur pays mais s’installèrent avec famille et troupeaux de chèvres dans la région. Ainsi le nom de «chabi» viendrait du mot «cheblis» qui veut dire chèvre en arabe. Mais ce n’est qu’une légende car, à l’âge préhistorique, des dessins ainsi que des os de chèvres ont été retrouvés dans la région, datant de +3000 ans av. J.-C., prouvant que notre région était déjà, depuis longtemps, un territoire où les chèvres étaient présentes.

Chausson Poitevin Ingrédients: • 1 pâte feuilletée • 200 g de chèvre • 2 échalotes • 20 g de beurre • 2 c.à s. de crème fraîche • 2 œufs • 1 gousse d’ail • quelques brins de ciboule • poivre • dorure = 1 jaune d’œuf • 4 bettes (ou blettes) 1. Laver les bettes, hacher grossièrement la partie verte (utiliser la partie blanche dans une autre recette) 2. Égoutter et émietter le chèvre 3. Faire colorer l’échalote dans le beurre, y ajouter les feuilles de bettes et cuire doucement 4. Incorporer le fromage de chèvre, la crème fraîche et la gousse d’ail écrasée, mélanger bien 5. Battre les œufs entiers, les ajouter au mélange bette-chèvre, hors du feu ajouter le poivre et la ciboule 6. Étaler la pâte feuilletée, découper plusieurs ronds de 15 cm de diamètre, garnir chaque rond d’une cuillère à soupe de farce, plier en deux et coller les bords en pinçant la pâte. 7. Laisser reposer 20 minutes au frigo 8. Badigeonner les chaussons de jaune d’œuf délayé dans un peu d’eau 9. Cuire dans le four chaud 210°C pendant 20 minutes 10. Déguster chaud ou tiède avec une bonne salade de votre jardin

ARTICLES.... Nous sommes toujours à la recherche de nouveaux articles à publier pour les éditions futures. Avezvous une expérience à partager? Quoi qu’il en soit, que ce soit long ou court, nous aimerions vous lire.

Vous pouvez appeler Sarah au 05 49 70 26 21 pour proposer des idées ou les envoyer par courriel à: 12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Unique en France... Fête Littéraire bilingue de St Clémentin 79150 Chers Amis Français, venez à St Clémentin le 30, 31 août. Rencontrez l’historienne Isabelle Soulard, le conteur Michel Cordeboeuf et des écrivains locaux. Dimanche Armelle Dutruc, chargée d’études documentaires aux archives départementales de Niort, présente la vie et les œuvres de Marie-Madeleine Davy (1903-1998), une femme remarquable de Paris et Saint-Clémentin. Marie-Madeleine Davy était philosophe et maître de recherches au CNRS. Pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, elle fut un membre très actif de deux réseaux de Résistance. Dans les années soixante, elle s’engagea avec ardeur dans le développement culturel de sa région et créa à Saint-Clémentin la maison Simone Weil pour y organiser des cours, des conférences littéraires et philosophiques pour des étudiants venus de toutes contrées. Charles Juliet, écrivain et poète, prix Goncourt 2013 de poésie pour l’ensemble de son œuvre ; il poursuit depuis 1957 l’écriture de son journal, dont le tome VII, Apaisement, paru en 2013, continue d’explorer sa réflexion sur la connaissance de soi  ; il est l’auteur d’une œuvre diversifiée qui comporte des recueils de poèmes, des essais sur des peintres comme Cézanne et Bram Van Velde, des entretiens avec des peintres et écrivains majeurs du XXème siècle, des pièces de théâtre et des récits autobiographiques dont L’année de l’éveil (1989) et Lambeaux (1995). Arts Métiss vous proposent Les Diseuses, un atelier sur Shakespeare et des lectures en anglais et en français. Télécharger le programme Réservations:

Astuces ménagères:

Nettoyer un canapé en cuir: utiliser simplement du lait de toilette. Nettoyer la grille du barbecue: frotter avec du papier journal, ensuite laver. Nettoyer une tache de stylo feutre: tamponner avec un linge imbibé d’eau savonneuse puis avec un autre linge imbibé d’alcool à 90°. Rincer. Laver.

par Monique Pasquier

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres LA FORÊT-SUR-SÈVRE The commune of La Forêt-SurSèvre is situated on the edge of the River Sèvre Nantaise, at the crossroads of the Niort–Cholet and Bressuire–Fontenay-le-Comte axes. The inhabitants of the commune are called the Forésiens and Forésiennes. Since 1972 “La Grande Forêt” has been made up of a re-grouping of La Forêt-Sur-Sèvre with Montigny, La Ronde and Saint Marsault. A VOIR / MUST SEE The château of La Forêt-sur-Sèvre is a private property and cannot be visited except sometimes on Heritage weekend in September. It is situated on one of the two islands bordered by the Sèvre Nantaise river which makes up its moat. The water in the moat is controlled by a system of lock gates and the château is in fact quite well known for its hydraulic system. The first château was built in 1370 by René Jousseaume, Lord of La Forêt. In 1440 it passed into the hands of the family of Beaumont Bressuire. In 1614 the domain was bought by du Plessis-Mornay, ‘The Huguenot Pope’, and friend and counselor of Henri IV. He restored the château which had suffered during the Wars of Religion. The building was a prison for the Blues and then the Whites during the Vendée Wars. It was destroyed by fire but Mr de la Maquillé began to rebuild it. It belonged to la Rochejaquelein until 1855 and then to the Count of Rohan-Chabot who completed the restoration. The 16th century buildings were modified during the 19th century restoration and only three towers and two buildings remain from that period.

by Sue Burgess

FORS Fors is situated 16km South of Niort. The name of the village has been the same since 1243. Its origins are certainly gallo-roman (ex-foris «outside» the city). At that period there were eleven smallholdings making up little hamlets (for example La Nouzière, La Chamerie). There has been a fortress since 1099. Three main families have reigned over Fors: Les Vivonne until 1494, Les Poussard  1494-1663 and then Les Maboul from 1686 - 1776. Anne Poussard was the first mistress of François I. He had a château built for her to replace the fortress. The château was 30 metres long and 30 metres wide and had a facade 10 metres high. At her death, Jean, her son, became Lord of Fors. Between 1663 and 1686 a legal proceeding was carried out in order to establish who had blood rights to the castle. Following this, Anne Catheu (who died aged 91) and Louis Maboul were the first to rule over Fors. Jacques Maboul, the brother of Louis, was nominated bishop of Arles in 1708. In 1686, Louis II Maboul inherited the château and had a lot of work done before 1716. He kept the main architecture and added slate roofs and a wide avenue which was 1km long. He bought approximately 30 houses around the chateau and had them destroyed so that he could plant avenues of chestnut trees. At that time the perimeter of the chateau went right up to where the church is today. Louis died in 1721. In 1725, Anne Marie Louise Maboul, the daughter of Louis, married Jean Emmanuel de Crussol. After the death of the last members of the Crussol family, at the beginning of the 19th century, the chateau belonged to two families. Philippe Xavier de la Rochebrochard inherited it, but in 1815, after the fall of Napoleon I when the Bourbons came back into power, he preferred to destroy it rather than to give it back. The ruins were bought by Mr Arnault, who gave them to Mr Robelin in 1884. Robelin used the ruins to build his house (opposite today’s Town Hall). Several houses were built using the stones from the chateau and a lot of stone was stolen. A VOIR / MUST SEE Fors Church which hosted one of the «Nuit Romane» evenings in July this year. (Photo right).

LES FOSSES Above: The château at La Foret-sur-Sevre. Top: Sign on entering village. Photos: Brian Preece.

LES FORGES Les Forges is a small commune in the Pays Ménigoutais near to Vasles, Ménigoute, Sanxay and Benassay. The nearest large town is Poitiers (86) which is situated 29.12km North as the crow flies. The inhabitants of Les Forges are known as les Forgeais and les Forgeaises and there are 124 of them. The commune has a surface area of 11 km2. The Château des Forges is surrounded by a domain of 180 hectares on which a 110 hectare golf course has been made. The Golf and Country club offers the possibility to play on three 9 hole courses which can be combined. The Forges golf club is the only 27 hole course in Deux-Sèvres and can be played all year round. There is a restaurant and the three different courses offer a variety of course type and different levels of difficulty.

Les Fosses is part of the Val de Boutonne which is close to Villiersen-Bois, Saint-Romans-des-Champs, Juscorps, Marigny and Chizé. There are over 400 inhabitants known as the Fosséens and the Fosséennes. Les Fosses is 19.6km South West of Niort. A VOIR / MUST SEE • A strange tree formation known as la baignoire à Mélusine (Mélusine’s bath tub) • St Radegonde Church It is no good looking for the small church of Les Fosses (included on the extra list of Historic monuments in 1926) in the centre of the village; it is nearby at the place called des Cures des Fosses, near Vauballier. Generally churches are close to the village houses. Some however are further away as is the case here.

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month...

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Hobbies More from local writer Alison Morton.... Please see back issues of ‘The DSM’ if you would like to see previous articles.

Why do you write?

Ever thought about exactly why you write? This is not an airy-fairy question as it can affect what you produce in those hours at your desk.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write in one or two sentences your reason for writing. Just saying “I just have to” really isn’t enough. If you know what you want from your writing, why you write, your writing will be tighter and more focused. If you’re not clear now, it will come back to haunt you later in your writing life especially when faced with choices which could mean pursuing one part of your goal but at the expense of neglecting another. Some reasons I’ve heard from other writers: I write because I don’t really know how not to write. Making stories is something that is so intrinsically part of who and what I am, that I can hardly imagine what it would be like not to do it. Also, writing is a fabulous excuse to not do the dishes and the laundry.  Liesel Schwarz, steampunk author I write to explore how I feel about the things that trouble me and to tell stories to entertain. Ann Cleeves, Shetland series I write because I must and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Simple. I also work hard at it and believe it will come out right. Adrian Magson, thriller writer I write because I love to read; because I fell in love with the written word as a child and I’m still head-over-heels… I hope I’ll be part of the reader-writer nexus long after I’m dead and that my words will give as much pleasure as I have taken from others. Angus Donald, historical writer

YOUR Book Reviews

Thank you to readers Nigel Carty and Angela Wood, for sending us their book reviews. It’s always lovely to read during a summer break and maybe one of these titles will take your fancy. ‘The Last Weekend’ by Blake Morrison Ian’s old university friends Ollie and Daisy phone up out of the blue to ask him and wife Em to a cottage in Suffolk for the last weekend in August. Ollie was always smart, sporting and is now a successful lawyer. Daisy has her own PR consultancy. They are the sorts of friends that taunt with postcards from exotic places telling you just how well their life is going. Ian is a primary school teacher and Em, whose job is now more important than Ian’s, works with disadvantaged children. Ian tells the story of the bank holiday weekend over four days. The characters are well-observed but reveal as much, if not more, about the narrator himself. He is the type of guy who feels guilty even when he’s innocent. Over dinner, Ollie reminds Ian of the bet they made some twenty years earlier - sporting challenges. Ian would rather forget the whole thing but is sucked in by his friend. Each day brings a new challenge. In the meantime old issues are hauled up from their history. The stakes get higher and higher with devastating and unexpected consequences. Blake Morrison weaves a tale from the very ordinary everyday events of the weekend into a totally believable conclusion. You feel as though you were there. Available also on DVD starring Rupert Penry-Jones and Shaun Evans. Blake Morrison is also part of this year’s Litfest in St Clémentin at the end of this month.

I write because I have been telling myself stories of one sort or another almost from birth. It’s a deep part of who I am. Elizabeth Chadwick, historical writer I write because it’s my family business - and also because it’s the best way I know to make a living. Victoria Lamb, historical writer I have perceived myself as being a writer from when I was a little girl and always had something I was burning to say. These days I just say it at more length. Trisha Ashley, women’s fiction writer I began writing in the mid nineties for practical reasons. I’d sustained a serious wrist injury that ended my career as a probation officer. For me, writing on a computer was physiotherapy following surgery but also to keep my mind occupied. I was bored at home and far too young to be retired. At the time I had no aspirations to become a professional crime writer. It was years later when that thought occurred. These days, I write because I must. Mari Hannah, crime writer And the master, Stephen King… I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do. And me? The story was just bursting to get out and was triggered by seeing a rubbishy film at the local multiplex. ‘I could do better than that,’ I whispered to my husband in the dark. ‘So why don’t you?’ And why I carry on? I just can’t leave it alone…

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‘Birds Without Wings’ by Louis de Bernières My Father was always incredulous that we were never taught World War history at school. Quite apart from the fact that when I was at school the Wars were still too recent to be classed as history, I am certain that we would have been taught the sanitised version of dates, battles and political manoeuvring: this beautifully crafted book has taught me so much more. It is a story epic in its proportions, but intimate in its detail, a story of love in all its forms. However, it is also a testament to how inhuman man can be to his fellows; descriptions of suffering in the trenches of Gallipoli, enforced repatriations of Christians and Muslims and nefarious atrocities are graphic and shocking. It is not a book for the faint-hearted or squeamish. It is a book I would never have read of my own volition; a friend urged me to read it and kindly sent me a copy, I am forever grateful to him. Louis de Bernières’ skill as a story-teller is superb. He made me weep, he made me smile, but above all, I emerged richer in knowledge about this episode in world history and about a region of Asia of which I knew nothing. I feel sure that my dear old Dad would have approved.

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Combined Services Support Group by Terri Laverick (CSSG) During August nearly all Reaction activities will stop: no rehearsals, no singing and no productions. So I thought I would tell you more about our successes in July.

The Reaction Theatre Group

I am not sure if you are aware, but articles for magazines have to be written early for publishing. This article has to be with the editor on or before the 15th of the month. Keep up with me here. This means that I often have to write up an event before it takes place and spend quite some time with my fingers crossed - metaphorically.

On 1st July, Tony Murdoch, who had directed the Calendar Girls play, and Vernon Bouch, the treasurer, presented a cheque for 10,000€ to the mayor of Secondigny, Monsieur Jean-Paul Dufour. As I have said in many monthly articles, the monies will be shared equally between Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in the UK and the French cancer research organisation ‘Fondation de France’.

Last month I mentioned our ‘Race Night’, and hoped that the evening would have been as successful as I anticipated. I was wrong! The event was far more enjoyable. Even though the races were on film, people were desperate for their chosen horse to win. Even though I picked two winning horses, my lasting memory will be watching others have so much fun. This is an event which we must, in fact we will, run again.

A final thank you to all our sponsors and to everyone of you who bought a calendar for such a great cause.

By the time you read this we shall have had our Summer Garden Fair. I trust that those of you who attended had a great day, and that all our hard work and planning managed to raise funds for our nominated charities for that event; SSAFA France and the local Pompiers.

The occasion was covered by ‘La Nouvelle Republique’ and in her article the reporter finished with the comment “Ah! English humour! Another calendar is not expected, but you never know with this, a little crazy, group”.


Another reporter from the same paper covered the Keynotes concert in Amailloux where we performed with our French friends from Fenery, La Bie qui chante, led by Camille Belliard. The newspaper headlines read “A REMARKABLE PRESENTATION OF TWO CHOIRS”. The event was held at the church of Saint Etienne, Amailloux at the initiative of the committee for the celebrations of the town, the two Gatinaise choirs, “La Bie qui chante” and the “Keynotes”, gave a remarkable concert. The reporter went on to say “Keynotes, the English choir from Secondigny, presented their repertoire of rock, pop, folk and traditional songs. Part of this exchange included a French song interpreted with a scrumptious accent, so British”. At the end of the concert both choirs, totalling sixty singers, united under the direction of Camille Belliard and Maggie Round, the choirs singing in unison, both Amazing Grace, in English and La Mer, in French. The performance was punctuated by the thunderous applause of a delighted public and we received a standing ovation. We have now established a great relationship with the French choir and will be singing together again in the future, probably at Christmas.

The Art Scene

The Art Scene has finished its regular Friday morning programme but will be having a number of plein air events throughout August. If interested give me a call or send an email. Some of us, lead by Sue Daniels, are however preparing a huge painting for the WW1 Commemoration to be held in the Museum in Parthenay later this year. Information on Reaction Theatre membership, Reaction Theatre and Keynotes performances past and future and The Art Scene meetings and projects can be seen on or contact me for more information.

Have a great summer, John Blair. (05 49 63 23 50)

We have been asked many times if you need to have been a member of Her Majesty’s forces to join us. The answer is an unequivocal NO! Anyone can join us, we simply get together to raise money for Military Charities which are registered in France. We have sent more than 1500€ to SSAFA France since we became a group. Our only request is that you help either by giving a little time to assist at our events, or to donate items for raffles / tombolas, or even by making the occasional cake. Alternatively, simply come along to an event so we can prise some coins from you for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Our next Member’s Meeting will be on 6th September 2014, in the Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux as usual. Breakfast is at 10.00am followed by the meeting at 11.00am. If you would like to join us please email us at:

LOOKING FOR A LIBRARY? …Then come to Lorigne on a Saturday between 2pm and 5pm. The English library in Lorigne has been established for over 16 years and is still going strong. Now that the Open Door Library in Civray has closed you may be looking for a new source of English books. We have thousands of English books available and you can take as many as you want for up to three months. Your choice of books is supplemented by the regular visits of the Deux-Sèvres bibliobus which supplies a variety of new titles every few months. Total charges at Lorigne are only 2€ a year. You can find us 3kms from SauzéVaussais on the Chef Boutonne road. Turn up the hill opposite the church and you’ll find us behind the school on the right hand side. Come through the school yard and we are tucked away in the school canteen, behind the wall. So, if you need a good book to relax in the sun, come along to Lorigne library where you can grab an armful of books and enjoy a feast of words.

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100 Years On....

by Rob Berry

I’m not a historian or even a writer, but having spent half my life in the Army, I have a keen interest in most things military. Whilst I know a bit about the Second World War and events since, I’m quite ignorant to the facts of the First World War (WW1). I always thought that the bones of WW1 was a four year war between England and Germany, set in France, which the English won with a bit of help from Australia and the US – how wrong I was! Over the next few magazine issues I hope to put some meat on the bones and show that WW1 truly was a world war. In the years leading up to WW1 the world looked very different than today. The industrialised empires of the west dominated the world. Africa was under European control and the territories of the imperial empires of Britain and France comprised a quarter of the world. In 1904-5, the empires of Russia and Japan were at war over strategic rights in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea. Unexpectedly, expansionist Japan, which embraced western industrialization, defeated Russia in the first great war of the 20th century. In 1911, under the thumb of the west, the Chinese Qing Dynasty was overthrown leaving China in chaos and an era of lawlessness ensued. Peace in Europe was preserved by a shifting balance of alliances made between its major powers. Germany, under Emperor Wilhelm II1 and Austria-Hungary, under Charles I and VI2 formed one camp known as the ‘Central Powers’. This alliance was augmented in October 1914 by the Ottoman Empire (by then a power in name only) whose intention was to regain territories lost in the First Balkan war in 1912-13. The other camp was made up of Britain, under King George V, the republic of France under Premiere Viviani and Russia under Tsar Nicholas II (the ‘Allied Powers’). Notably, Wilhelm II was the oldest grandson of Queen Victoria and 2nd cousin to Tsar Nicholas II, and his 1st cousin was King George V. In the early 20th century, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece and Serbia gained independence from the Ottoman Empire and formed the Balkan League. In October 1912, in the first of two Balkan wars, the League defeated the Ottoman Empire taking most of its possessions in the Balkans. In the second war (June 1913) Bulgaria, unhappy with Serbia and Greece3, attacked them. The offensive was repelled and the armies of Serbia and Greece counter-attacked. Romania and the Ottoman Empire also attacked and Bulgaria lost most of its gains from the first war. Following this, Austria-Hungary was alarmed by the great increase in Serbia’s territory, its growing influence over Slavic peoples in the region and the threat to Austria-Hungary’s control of the Northern Balkans. Austria was also at odds with Russia over their rival attempts to dominate the region. Militaristic Germany shared these concerns especially as Serbia was allied to Russia. On 28th June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the AustroHungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, Serbia, by a Yugoslav nationalist

European alliances during the 1914-18 war. Neutral countries in yellow, Central powers in pink, Allied or Entente powers in green.

(Gavrilo Princip). The political objective of the assassination was to force the south slav provinces of Austria-Hungary to break off to be combined into a Yugoslavia. The July Crisis ensued and following much diplomatic manoeuvring between the major powers, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. This ultimatum, designed to weaken Serbia as a threat to Austria-Hungary’s control of the northern Balkans, was partially rejected and on 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Later that day Austrian ships bombarded Belgrade. On 30th July 1914, Nicholas II ordered mobilisation to protect his borders with Austria-Hungary. The German Ambassador to Paris then delivered an ultimatum to Premier Viviani that if Russia did not demobilise, Germany would attack France. France was also to renounce its alliance with Russia or face German attack. Wilhelm then signed orders for German mobilisation and preparations were made to enter Luxembourg and Belgium in build up for an invasion of France. Wilhelm believed that England, France and Russia, knowing that Germany had to support Austria-Hungary because of their alliance, had agreed among themselves to use the Austo-Serb conflict as an excuse to wage war on Germany. Russian mobilisation continued and on 1st August 1914, Germany declared war on Russia and invaded Luxembourg. On 2 August 1914, King Albert of Belgium refused to allow German troops free passage through Belgium on the way to France as this would violate Belgium’s neutrality. On 3rd August 1914, Germany declared war on France and then declared war and invaded Belgium the next day. Britain, unable to remain neutral if France and Russia (their allies) were invaded, issued an ultimatum to Germany to go no further with the violation of Belgium’s neutrality4. On 4th August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. At the outbreak of war, Wilhelm is reported to have said, “To think that George and Nicky should have played me false! If my grandmother had been alive, she would never have allowed it.”

. German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia . Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary In the original document for the Balkans league, Serbia promised Bulgaria most of Macedonia. But after the war, Serbia and Greece revealed their plan to keep part of the promised territory 4 . The Treaty of London of 1839 1 2


Photo: The Outbreak of the First World War, 1914. Crowds outside Buckingham Palace cheer King George, Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales (who can just be seen on the balcony) following the Declaration of War in August 1914. Wikimedia Commons.

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Clubs & Associations

Looking for Partnerships with English Speakers... My name is Miss Cornuault and I am an English teacher in the MFR of St Loup sur Thouet and Bressuire. My students are specialised in farming and environment. As they don’t like the English language very much, I would like to establish a partnership with farmers and English speakers to show them that learning the language is not as boring as they think.

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I would also like to visit farms and organise some meetings during “tea-times”. We are going to Ireland in April and some of my young people are not as excited as I hoped they would be, and I’d really like to open their minds to another culture and for them to meet new people.

Could you help me, please? You can call me at the MFR of Bressuire: 05 49 74 09 64 or at St Loup: 05 49 64 60 46

Health, Beauty & Fitness Abbey teaching at Venus Rose Yoga Sanctuary situated at the foot of The Mélusine Tour in Vouvant.

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Kahil Gibran

Yoga Yoga and the Art of Being in the Flow... SECRETS This beautiful meditation in movement sequence based on the Surya Namaskara is, in essence, an adoration of the light. A symbol of selfillumination and a pathway to the Divine...

This sacred dance is practised in the spirit of devotion with our awareness turned always inwards to the heart, as only the heart can know the truth... To view the sacred dance Surya Namaskara see our YouTube Channel: YogaDeva TV And dance your way to Grace... Namaskar...

The Venus Rose Yoga RETREAT WEEKEND ‘The Surya Experience’ Experience the true magic of enlightenment with Vedanta Wisdom amidst the enchanting natural beauty of Vouvant in La Vendée, renowned for being one of the prettiest villages in France... Experience the mystical power of the most important and profound meditation at the heart of the Vedas... Achieve the attainment of ‘yoga’, the union with your Divine nature... And discover the miracle of who you really are... This experience will change your life forever...

Weekend Retreats now running in Vouvant For August, September and October 2014. Saturday 11am - 1pm and 3pm - 5pm Sunday 10am - 12pm and 2pm - 4pm Charming Chambres D’hotes from 38€ (Special Rates May Apply) For more information on dates and availability contact us by email: or telephone 06 35 15 60 60

Namaste... Private and Group Classes running weekly at The Yoga Sanctuary. For your FREE introductory session please call Abbey on 06 35 15 60 60

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Feed Your Hair.. At this time of year many of us think about diets, whether it is eating less to aim for the trimmed body or we over indulge a little with friends and family. We do all take notice of our body shape but our hair can give us a real clue as to how beneficial our diet really is. We all know our own hair and when it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel quite right, diet can be one aspect to think about. Just like every other part of your body, the cells that support healthy hair depend upon a balanced diet and there are a few essential parts to focus on when thinking about hair. Vitamin A is essential for healthy hair as it is needed to make sebum. This is the oily substance made by sebaceous glands under the scalp which provides a natural conditioner for a healthy head of hair. A lack of sebum can result in an itchy scalp and dryness in the hair. Iron Low iron levels can also affect your locks as hair is fed by blood. If the level of iron in the body is insufficient, the hair follicles and the roots are not fed effectively. A lack of iron can cause increased hair breakage and hair loss. Vitamin C is also essential to ensure the capillaries supporting the hair are kept strong by the production of collagen. A good intake of vitamin C is an essential part in the growth of hair. Water If your hair is feeling dry it could be a simple sign of dehydration. Water makes up around 20% of each individual hair and hair can be supple and shiny with the correct amount of hydration. As well as drinking more water, consider adding more water-rich foods into your diet like cucumbers, berries, melon and lettuce. Adding a simple supplement to your diet such as sea kelp can be really beneficial to your hair, although it is vital to check with your doctor before commencing any health supplements. When thinking about how your diet affects you hair the theory is simple, what goes in can show in the health of hair. If you feel that your hair is lacking in something, take a look at your diet and with the help of your stylist you can often identify what may be causing you a problem. A simple change or the addition of something new could be all that is needed.

Michael William Hairdressing Tel. 05 49 07 11 48

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The Eyes Have It

by Claire Jones

Ever looked at someone and been totally fixated on their brows? As you try hard to look into their eyes whilst you natter over a cup of coffee (or, in my case with my friends, a glass of vino tinto) your attention moves, more times than you are comfortable with, to your companion’s eyebrows. Our brows frame our face and should draw people’s gaze to our eyes and add a look of youthful vigour. Sadly, this is not always the case. Over plucked, over tinted or straggly brows are distracting, drawing the attention away from the windows of our soul. Imagine sitting across a candlelit table with the person of your dreams, having dressed to kill with carefully applied lippy and eye makeup and yet the object of your desire fails to lock eyes with you. Disconcerting and somewhat disappointing for you but what could be at the root of this? Well, to be fair, it could be a host of issues but, if you follow these simple tips, it most certainly won’t be because of a brow issue. As we age, brows thin, become sparse and lose their colour. Years of constant waxing and plucking also take their toll with the end result being lack-lustre arches. As a therapist I see this a lot. Some brows can be rescued by careful tinting and leaving the hair to re-establish itself before reshaping to suit the face shape of the client. I love colouring my hair, often changing the depth of colour, as do a number of my clients. With this in mind, matching brows to your new ‘do’ is essential. Platinum blonde hair does not work with dark brown or black brows and vice versa. If you have a radical change in hair colour planned, talk to your therapist and ensure that you manage to correspond brows and barnet. Recently, brow transplants (for cases of irreversible eyebrow hair loss) have been developed, along with eyebrow extensions, where individual hairs are applied to the brow. If that seems a little over much then grab a make-up brow box and carefully feather in colour using small strokes with the supplied brush to strengthen your natural arch. Whatever you decide to do, follow your natural arch, you were born with that arch for a reason; it suits your face shape. Work with it to recreate your own unique, God given, brow arch to return the focus to your all important peepers.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 21

First Aid Course Premier Secours

18 or 112

by Sarah Berry

I was lucky enough to attend the Prévention et Secours Civiques 1 (Cert PSC1) on Saturday 5th July, organised by SDIS79 and ex British Fire Officer, John Hoyland.

A fixed telephone line can be traced almost immediately. The system recalls the owner of the property, the full address and a location map for the emergency staff to determine your location and to send the necessary help.

The course was mostly in French language and lasted a full day with practical hands-on training throughout. John was on hand to repeat steps and information in English, if required. Letitia, the course trainer, spoke clearly, slowly and was easily understandable.

In summary... I thoroughly enjoyed the course and am very thankful I had the opportunity to refresh my First Aid skills. The Sapeurs/ Pompiers do an amazing job, but with such a vast area to cover, if First aid can be performed at the scene before they arrive it could save someone’s life. I’m confident that I would now know what to do, should this need arise.

We covered the following First Aid topics: • • • • • • •

Protection - observing dangers Alerting the Emergency Services Looking after victims of discomfort/unease How to deal with burns, cuts, foreign objects Helping victims in immediate danger Cardiac arrest Using a defibrilator

I’ve lived here for six years, and I especially found it useful to clarify who to call and when, as this advice in the past has been a little fuzzy. In England, we know to dial 999. Here, in case of emergency, call 18 or 112. The Sapeurs-Pompiers officer on duty will connect you to an interpreter if necessary, so speak in English, then wait (please do not hang up), and you will be connected to a three-way conference call so you can explain the situation clearly in your language. If emergency action is not required, but you require medical advice, call 15. The doctor on call will help you, and will speak to the patient if necessary. They will offer you advice on your next step. If you are in an emergency situation and call 18, you WILL NEED to give your location. I hadn’t really considered this before the course. So, be aware of your surroundings... try to remember what road you are using, or which town you are heading to, and from where. John and Letitia explained how difficult it can be to identify a location when the caller uses a mobile phone and they don’t know exactly where they are. So, if you have a Smart phone, please download an app to give your location and keep it on your home screen. I’ve done just that, an app named ‘SOS My Location’. It took 5 minutes and it gives me the address of where I am, a location map and GPS coordinates.. and it is free. There are many others available from the App Stores, ‘My Current Address: Location Finder’, ‘Where Am I Now?’, ‘Current Location’, ‘Where Am I – GPS 3 in 1’ are just a few.

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Above: Hands on training

The SDIS79 will be repeating this course next year and I would strongly recommend attending to refresh techniques learnt years ago. They had definitely changed since my course in 1986!

My French isn’t good enough... Please don’t let any language barriers stop you attending this course. The SDIS79 work with John to provide these courses and he is on hand throughout the day to clarify anything you may not understand. You will learn phrases and vocabulary during the day that could help save a life, so a course with some French language is very beneficial.

Our Furry Friends Summertime

by Nigel Franks, NALA

Is it just me? But I always mentally sing that word. Unfortunately, for the associations for the protection of animals, the living isn’t easy. We get hit with a multiple whammy as a result of a number of factors coming into play. Pauses and takes a deep breath: •

• • •

the French have a reputation as the European Champions for the number of animals abandoned for the holidays. Some people who don’t want to pay for someone to look after their pet just abandon them. Others finally realise that, just like last year, they’re never going to be able to give away those lovely kittens... the town halls operate for shorter hours and/or with less staff, so there may be less competent people to deal with strays amongst those people going on holiday are the associations’ volunteers and foster families, so we have less manpower and less space for housing animals as people are going away on holiday they’re thinking about sun, sea and sand (is there a fourth “s” that I’ve forgotten about?) rather than looking for an animal to adopt.

So although we enjoy the summer we do breathe a hearty sigh of relief when things finally get back to normal. In an effort to make things a tiny bit more manageable, next year we’re subsidising sterilisation of cats. We give 20% of the cost of the operation up to a maximum of 20€ for a female and 10€ for a male. If you’re interested contact us via subventions.nala@mail. com. All you have to do is send us a quote (un devis) from a vet and we’ll reply confirming the amount of the subsidy. As prices can vary considerably, it’s often worthwhile contacting more than one vet for the quote. Once the operation has been carried out, you just have to send us a copy of the bill (la facture) and we’ll send you a cheque for the subsidy. In the meantime, if you’re thinking ahead to the cold winter months and wish to get your own purry, furry, personal lap warmer before the rush, have a look at our website:

Capucine (shown below), currently residing with a foster

family, is a 2009 model with one careful lady owner. Recently chipped, sterilised and vaccinated she is looking for the quiet life in a new home without children.


LILO is a four and a half year old female English Setter. This pretty lady was brought into the pound together with STITCH, the male English Setter also presently for adoption and it would be lovely if they could be rehomed together but.......!!!! LILO is a little shy at first, but once she gets to know you, very affectionate and cuddly. She seems to understand some basic commands and although she hasn’t been fully assessed yet, seems good with other dogs. LILO has been micro-chipped, primo-vaccinated including rabies so she has a passport and has been treated for worms, fleas and ticks. Unfortunately, when she arrived at the pound she came into season so it wasn’t possible to sterilise her, but she will be operated on very soon.

Contact ‘The DSM’ magazine... Call Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 or email:

An adoption fee of 180€ will be asked for towards her veterinary costs to date and Orfée will conduct a home visit prior to adoption. If you would like more information about LILO or any of our other Dogs for Adoption please contact: MARY - 05 49 50 69 41 - CAROLINE - 05 45 96 02 79 -

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 23

........and more kittens! These gorgeous kitts and mum cat are looking for a home. If you’re interested in adopting any of them please contact Jan at for further information. The kittens are currently nr Limalonges, Dept. 79. For more details and more kittens, please go to the Hope website,

Thinking about placing an ad? Why not take advantage of our Special Packages for New Advertisers? Call Sarah for more details: 05 49 70 26 21

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Home & Garden


I love July and August - fields and fields full of lovely sunflowers, all with their faces turned towards the sun. Here in France they are called ‘Tournesol’ (turn to the sun). So this month, instead of reminding you of all the jobs waiting in the garden, I’m going to be a sun worshipper and talk about sunflowers. The sunflower (Helianthus annus) is native to the Americas where the Incas worshipped it as a symbol of the sun god. In the 16th century gold figures of sunflowers were found in temples in the Andes mountains and in past times native American Indians would put bowls of sunflower seeds on the graves of their dead. These days it is the flower officially listed to celebrate the 3rd Wedding Anniversary. Apart from the fact that sunflowers are so beautiful to look at, they are also special because they can grow very, very tall - ‘Russian Giant’ can reach 10 ft, while on the other side of the coin another variety, ‘Big Smile’, only grows to about 12 inches. Also, even though they are still called sunflowers it is now possible to obtain varieties in different tones of yellow through to orangey-red. If you save seeds from this year’s flowers you can have your own plants ready to plant out next summer: in spring, plant one seed per small pot of multi-purpose compost; water well and cover with a *home made ‘cloche’ to keep the emerging seedling warm and humid. This can then be planted outside after the last frosts. At the end of summer, when the flowers have died, you will be left with lots of sunflower seeds, bearing in mind that each sunflower head can contain more than 1,000 seeds. You might prefer to leave them for the birds but you can hull them and eat them yourself they are very good for you, providing dietary fibre, natural oils, B-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. No wonder birds love them! It’s common to use sunflower seeds as a healthy snack but they can also be used as a garnish on salads or as an additional ingredient in other dishes or in bread. The seeds are also pressed to make sunflower oil, which, being high in Vitamin E and low in saturated fat is fine for cooking and frying. Sunflower oil is also used in cosmetics and is said to be very good for the skin, being easily absorbed by warm, damp skin after a bath or shower. It is also good for massage, a diluting base in aromatherapy, or for adding to the bath water for a nice relaxing soak after a hard gardening session.

*Home made cloches can be made from small plastic bottles with the bases cut off - just stand them, cut-surface down and with the lid left on, on the soil, in a plant pot. You can remove the lid occasionally if it becomes too humid inside. Alternatively, use a plastic bag with 3 or 4 ice-lolly sticks to support the bag and secure round the pot with an elastic band.

Banana Sunflower Cookies * 3 bananas * 1/2 cup sunflower oil * 1/2 cup granulated sugar * 2 cups flour * 1 cup sunflower seeds * 1 tbsp baking powder * 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Cream together bananas, oil & sugar. In a separate bowl mix the flour with the seeds, baking powder & baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Mix well then chill in fridge for 30 mins. Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture onto oiled baking sheets, about 2” apart. Bake for 10 mins or until the edges are golden brown. These cookies freeze well, but outside the freezer it’s best to store them in a container with a loose-fitting lid because they might become soggy.

Bon Appétit!

So now, to finish, here is a quick recipe using sunflower seeds, something to munch on during tea break down at the veggie plot:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 25

Don’t forget our deadline:

of the month.


1. 2.

If your chopping board is a bit wiffy with garlic & onions etc. wash with clear water & wipe dry, squeeze lemon juice onto it, then shake on bicarbonate of soda. Rub the soda into the lemon and the board, leave for an hour or more then rinse with clear water.. voila nasty niff gone! If you have accidentally burnt a pan black, wipe it with a wet cloth and while it’s still wet, rub salt into the burned bits. Leave overnight and the following morning poor boiling water into the pan then heat slowly for a few minutes. Turn off the heat & leave to soak. It makes it easier to clean away the burnt bits. Thanks to Jan for YOU have any others? Please send them in if so - we could probably write a book! Email:

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 27

Spotlight On...

Coastal Days Out

La Rochelle Port

W hether you’re after a family day out, a romantic break, a heritage trip or even a gastronomic weekend, France’s

Atlantic coast is packed with possibilities. And the Deux-Sèvres department is an ideal starting point for visits to either the Vendée or Charente-Maritime coastline. Here we give you a tiny taste of what’s in store just a short drive away. Make the most of the sunshine, get out there and enjoy!

The Vendée Coast The 250kms of coastline includes 140kms of stunning, fine-sand

beaches, so no wonder it’s the top tourist destination on France’s Atlantic coast. It welcomes around five million visitors every year (87% of them French) and the majority head straight for the beach. From Port de Collet in the north to Pointe l’Aiguillon in the south, the choice is vast. In the north, head for La Barre-de-Monts, Notre-Dame de Monts and especially St-Jeande-Monts to recharge your batteries. The kids will love the latter, with its gently sloping beaches and numerous safety patrols. Grownups love it too, with its golf courses, fishing trips and thalassotherapy (soft water spa treatments). Equally tempting are the bike rides along coastal paths or trails running deep into the surrounding countryside. On the Côte de Lumière (the Coast of Light) you’ll find a dozen great beaches, one after another, each protected by dunes and pine trees. Drop in at St-Hilaire-de-Riez, good for swimming or for fishing from the beach, and then via the Sion coastal road to the chic St-Gilles-Croixde-Vie, with a harbour that’s a popular destination for sardine fishing. Brétignolles-sur-Mer is next on the journey south. There’s a familyfriendly

by Mick Austin

beach at La Parée, where young and old alike can explore the rock pools at low tide, but this area is really home to those who love to ride the Atlantic waves and the wild, rocky coast at La Sauzaie is home to surfers. The coast is just as splendid in the Vendée Plein Sud, particularly Jard-sur-Mer. Better known for its attractive harbour than for its beaches, it has a variety of watersports on its magnificent bay and 7kms of beach. One of the most popular beaches along this stretch is at Les Conches, with its golden sands, dunes and pine forests. You’ll find surfers there almost all year round and the beach also draws sea anglers and cockle-hunters. A word of warning if you have granny with you. Although not always an official site, some beach areas are popular with those holidaymakers looking for an all-over tan! Sun, sea and sand are also the big appeal of La Tranch-sur-Mer, with the longest south-facing beach in the department. Families love the 12kms of sand and the watersports. The same goes for La Faute-sur-Mer and its sand dunes and pine and oak forests. In the heart of the Baie de l’Aiguillon, it’s famous for oysters and bouchot mussels grown on ropes strung from wooden poles in the sea.

The Charente-Maritime Coast

If you’re after a feeling of space and untamed natural beauty then one of the most spectacular parts of the Poitou-Charente is the Côte Sauvage (the wild coast). It stretches from the point at La Tremblade south to La Palmyre, north of Royan and, apart from its fine beaches, it is dominated by the huge pine and oak forest of La Fôret de la Coubre. It’s excellent for walking, biking and horse riding and marked pathways lead you through the forest and down to beaches that are a magnet for surfers. Climb to the top of the Courbre lighthouse on the tip of the Arvert Peninsular for spectacular views over both coast and countryside. Châtelaillon-Plage, between La Rochelle and Rochefort, looks over the islands of Ré, Aix and Oléron and has around 4km of sandy beaches and is known for its Belle Epoque architecture. It has a Handiplage award for catering for the disabled, including amphibious wheelchairs. Another wheelchair-friendly beach resort is St Georges-de-Didonne, south of Royan. There’s a long promenade and the walk along the cliff-tops gives you breathtaking views. Check out the Parc de l’Estuaire for its forest walks and interactive museum.

Gironde Estuary Five sandy bays, fabulous leisure facilities and more than 2600 hours of sunshine a year combine to make Royan one of the most popular seaside resorts on the Atlantic coast. Discover some

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Oysters on Ile d’Oleron

Plage des Soux, Ile d’Yeau

Cycling in the Fôret de la Coubre, Cote Sauvage of its architectural gems with a self-guided audio tour from the tourist office, where one highlight is the concrete church of Notre Dame, built to resemble a ship. Both Royan and neighbouring StGeorges-de-Didonne carry the coveted Family-Plus label for their family-friendly facilities.

and arsenal. Step back in time at the Corderie Royale (royal rope factory), which was once the longest factory in Europe and is now an interactive museum. And visit the Hermione boatyard to see the building of the replica 18th Century frigate before it sets off for a 3800-mile trans-Atlantic trip in 2015. (Don’t forget to book!)

The nearby zoo of Palmyre is one of Europe’s largest and today is the most popular private zoo in France. It covers 40 acres and is home to more than 1500 species of every shape and size – from hippos and elephants to cheetahs and pandas.


There are spectacular views from the Cordouan lighthouse at the mouth of the estuary. It’s France’s oldest lighthouse (started in 1584 and finished in 1611) and stands on a rocky island 11km off Royan and can be reached by boat at low tide. Farther into the estuary from Royan is the fishing village of Meschers-sur-Gironde, where you can take a guided tour of cave houses hollowed out of the cliffs. Nearby Talmont-sur-Gironde is another must-see. It’s one of France’s Most Beautiful Villages with its cliff-top Romanesque church and narrow streets of whitewashed houses, dotted with craft shops.

Fancy Somewhere Bigger?

As seaside resorts go, Les Sables-d’Olonne is at the top of its game. Home to the legendary Vendée Globe solo roundthe-world yacht race, the place is sailing mad. Thousands of yachts line the local marinas, but the resort is also home to dinghy sailing and these colourful boats bring an added atmosphere for holidaymakers basking in the sunshine on Le Grande Plage. It’s one of the Vendée’ safest beaches and is just a few strides away from all the facilities you’d expect. A fishing village in the Middle Ages, La Rochelle is famous today for its old port, guarded by medieval twin towers. Pick up a town guide from the tourist office in the colourful Gabut district beside the harbour. Once a collection of old fishermens’ huts, the brightly painted clapboard buildings now house shops and cafes. Step on board the ships of the Maritime Museum and visit the aquarium – opposite the tourist office and one of Europe’s largest with 12,000 marine animals. Easy to explore on foot, La Rochelle also operates a bike hire scheme with 160km of designated cycle tracks, accessible to everyone thanks to a fleet of 350 yellow municipal bikes, or Yélos. There’s also an electric boat service between the old harbour and the library. Okay, so it’s not quite on the coast, but tucked inside a loop of the Charente river some 20km inland Rochefort has been heavily influenced by the sea. It was a quiet fishing village until 1666 when ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV ordered the building of a royal dockyard

Ile de Niormoutier

At just 20km long and 7km at its widest point, this small sandy island packs plenty of magic into its tiny frame. Nature, culture, beaches, watersports and great local produce all go into making it a cracking place to visit. There’s the unforgettable Passage du Gois, a 4.5km-long cobble paved causeway connecting the island to Beauvoir-sur-Mer which attracts thousands of visitors to see the incoming and outgoing tides cover up and then reveal Le Gois. With 50km of beaches to choose from, you’re sure to find your perfect one. Chill out, collect shellfish, stroll along quiet sand dunes or get the pulse racing with windsurfing, kayaking and land sailing. Several beaches have water wheelchairs (tiralos) for disabled visitors.

Ile d’Yeu

Known for years as the first tuna fishing port of the Atlantic coast, the island still has an active fishing industry landing sea bass, monkfish and turbot, plus many different kinds of shellfish. Discover its long, sandy beaches and dunes, a wild coast with cliffs and sandy coves, marsh and bocage countryside and houses with low tiled roofs and colourful shutters.

Ile de Ré

Take the toll bridge to the place known as The White Island for the quality of its light and whitewashed houses. Follow a network of trails by bike or on horseback and check out the Vauban ramparts of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, where you might even spot one of the famous donkeys in trousers! At the far end of the island, climb 257 steps to the top of the Phare des Baleines for a panoramic view of the coast, and then take a trip through the salt marshes in a family-size canoe.

Ile d’Oléron

France’s second largest island (after Corsica) is linked to the mainland by a toll-free bridge. Enjoy a laid-back lifestyle, 25 sandy beaches, watersports galore, horse riding and bike hire. Climb the Chassiron lighthouse or visit the citadel of Le Château-d’Oléron and the Marais au Oiseaux bird reserve before taking a guided tour of an oyster farm to find out why Marennes-Oléron oysters are considered the best in France. Around 45% of French oyster production comes from the island and the Seudre estuary on the mainland opposite. Try the delicious fresh fish and shellfish landed daily at La Cotinière. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 29


Département Info:

Vendée: dépt. 85 Charente-Maritime: dépt. 17 Deux-Sèvres: dépt. 79 Ile de Noirmoutier: Vendée Ile de Yeu: Vendée Ile d’Aix: Charente-Maritime Ile Madame: Charente-Maritime Ile d’Oleron: Charente-Maritime Ile de Ré: Charente-Maritime Airports to support these coastlines: Charente-Maritime & Vendée: Aéroport de La Rochelle Vendée: Aéroport de Nantes Atlantique Charente-Maritime: Aéroport international Angoulême-Cognac Marshes of Ile Madame

Are we there yet, Dad? All the places mentioned are within comfortable reach of the Deux-Sèvres for a day out or short break. With the help of Google Maps, here are average distances and travel times from Niort. Some of the quicker routes will have tolls. Destination

Old Château-on Ile d’Yeu

Ile de Ré

Le Château-d’Oléron

Ile d’Aix

Just 200 people live on this tiny, traffic-free island that’s only 3km long and 600 metres at its widest point. Its shores are only accessible by boat from the Pointe de Fouras, near Rochefort. Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last days on French soil here in 1815 and you can visit the house where he surrendered to the English. Visit the Mother of Pearl House (La Maison de Nacre) to discover the island’s only craft industry.

Ile Madame

Cross the causeway from Port-des-Barques at low tide to this even smaller island of just 75 hectares – but check the tides before you set off! It’s an ideal spot for ramblers, bike riders and seashore fishermen and has an aquaculture farm breeding fish and shellfish. Photos: La Rochelle: Wikimedia Commons, William Scott; Ile d’Oleron: Wikimedia Commons Peter Gugerell; Plage des Soux: Wikimedia Commons Clément Bucco-Lechat; Foret de la Coubre: Wikimedia Commons Cobbler17; Ile Madame: Wikimedia Commons Salix; Ile de Ré: Wikimedia Commons Gcottenc; Fortresse d’Oleron: Wikimedia Commons William Scott.

Mick Austin is a freelance journalist based in the Pays-de-la-Loire. He has had his work published in several expat magazines and newspapers and has also written the Mayenne Tourist Board’s only English-language brochure. He also runs a gîte business at 30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


Travel time

La Rochelle


1hr 10min



1hr 15mins

Ile d’Oléron


1hr 30mins




Ile de Niormoutier



Ile d’Yeu (La Barre-de-Monts)



Les Sables d’Olonne




First port of call for accommodation, places to eat etc: Tourist Offices: • La Rochelle: 2 Quai Georges Simenon, Le Gabut, 17025 La Rochelle Cedex 01. Tel: 05 46 41 14 68. Website: • Rochefort Avenue Sadi Carnot, 17300 Rochefort. Tel: 05 46 99 08 60. Website: • Les Sables d’Olonne: 1 promenade Joffre, 85100 Les Sables d’Olonne. Tel: 01 51 96 85 85. Website: • Ile de Ré: • Ile d’Yeu: • Ile de Niormoutier: • Ile d’Oléron: • Ile d’Aix: loffice-de-tourisme-de-lile-daix Others: • Hermione boatyard: • Royal rope factory: • Donkeys in Trousers (Les Anes en Culotte): • Island cruises (Croisières Inter Iles):

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across: 8. Fruit of an oak tree (5) 9. A stipulated condition (7) 10. Lead an orchestra (7) 11. Quick and energetic (5) 12. A borough of New York city (7) 13. 1000 grams (4) 15. Lacking civility or good manners (4) 17. A region of central France (8) 21. High body temperature (5) 22. Rainy season in Southern Asia (7) 24. Rich and superior in quality (7) 25. Urgently required (5)

DSM Toughie Crossword Across: 1. Tories lead slightly different teaching given time on fundamental state principles (12) 7. Rearrangement of letters from a curious relative coming before morning (7) 9. One of a literary trio has to be converted (5) 10. Level of indication of emotion, so they say (4) 11. After three, hat put on by leading church figures (8) 12. Race following vehicle is a beauty (6) 14. Turned round on port as quickly as possible (6) 17. Treading very uncomfortably on sloping ground (8) 19. Nearly round figure of zero value (4) 22. At first, Indians denied any honours of state (5) 23. Lit up rare reconstruction of plug! (7) 24. Came last! Your moderates may be weakening (12)


Down: 1. Rub on body powder (4) 2. Third largest island in the world (6) 3. Having or bringing misfortune (7) 4. A lack of emotion or enthusiasm (6) 5. Uncertainty (5) 6. Female swim-wear (6) 7. The act of confining prisoners to their cells (8) 12. Without shoes on (8) 14. To co-operate secretly, conspire (7) 16. Eat greedily (6) 18. Prison or hospital resident (6) 19. Having a surface free from roughness (6) 20. Intense sorrow (5) 23. African river (4)

Down: 1. Cunning workmanship? (5) 2. Put together with most expensive to form close family (7) 3. Civil action may follow taking the high ground ahead of time (4) 4. Bizarrely rein in art form. That’s pants! (7) 5. Hero taking temperature; unhappily not this one (5) 6. Ousted roughly just when getting accustomed (4,2) 8. Put forward point for debate? (4) 12. Commonly use this to estimate small measure? (6) 13. Knight soon in a pickle, evoking prayers (7) 15. Ivor in different ending for short story (7) 16. Small, irksome, with two wings, but is good for a loft-house (4) 18. Warning given by light metal component (5) 20. What hens do all over the street is a piece of cake (5) 21. State repeatedly. That’s` completely mad (4)

With thanks to M.Morris

Monthly quiz by Roland Scott...... how many can you get?

1) Whose first novel, when published in 1811, was credited as being written ”by a lady”?

9) Who set a World Land Speed record of 633.468 mph in 1983?

2) What was the first film with “synchronised dialogue” sequences (talkie)?

10) Which bridge is the UK’s longest single span suspension bridge?

3) Which English football team play their home matches at Ashton Gate?

11) Which series of 12 books, written by Arthur Ransome in the 1930’s includes the titles “Winter Holiday”, “ Pigeon Post” and “Secret Water” ?

4) Who was Bob Monkhouse’s assistant on the Golden Shot? 5) Which American civil rights activist died April 4th 1968? 6) Which politician, now retired, was Defence Secretary 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor 1974 to 1978?

12) Who, from 1514 to 1530, was Henry VIII’s Chancellor and Archbishop of York?

7) Who wrote “The Naked Ape” ?

Finally, for an extra point, assuming you have 12 correct answers what is the connection between your answers or parts thereof?

8) Which American actor starred in ‘7’ with Brad Pitt and ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ with Kevin Costner?

Find the answers on our website:

Copyright RJS 2014

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 31

French Life of wine (or two). Half an hour later it all changed! Thierry knocked at the door to tell us that with a storm due within the hour he was going to deliver 140 bales of straw straight away. What started as a relaxing evening ended in a mad panic trying to stack the straw in the barn in the ever increasing downpour. Looking at the diary for the next few weeks it looks as though we will be busy continuing to prepare fresh produce for the freezer and some more lambs and chickens heading for the abattoir.

Life on the Farm Wow, where has the month gone? It seems only a few days since we wrote the last instalment! The month has flown by and has given us many different types of weather - from today’s temperature at about 35˚C, we have heard of people lighting the wood burners because it has been so cold and miserable. Apparently the year so far has produced about 25% more rain than the previous year. This year Jenny has been really busy on the veggie garden and it has paid dividends. We have managed a full plot (eventually) and we have invested in a ‘Mantis’ which is a mini rotovator/ cultivator making it easier to weed and hoe between the rows. We have planted cabbages, sprouts, sweetcorn, more potatoes, celery, celeriac, broad beans, runner beans, yellow beans, haricot beans, spinach, radish, lettuce, lots of tomatoes, courgettes of all shapes and sizes, squash and cucumber. We have also tried sweet potatoes this year. After a very slow start they are now in the ground in the poly-tunnel and growing well. We have also planted some in the garden to see if they grow as well. To combat the prolific quail egg production we have now set our third batch in the incubator, the previous batch produced 15. Jenny has also pickled some as nibbles to go with the very important aperos. We have also had a busy time on the animal front. New additions include quail, another batch of meat chickens, more rabbits - they are so cute when they are small. We will be collecting the next batch of turkeys this weekend to cover the bookings we have for Christmas and also some spares. These are a mixture of bronze and black traditional breed turkeys. We are also increasing the number of geese that we will have available for Christmas this year with the addition of some white Embden geese. We are keeping some of the Embden geese on for next year’s breeding stock. The two Berkshire pigs (Stout and Porter or Snout and Porker as Jenny called them) are heading for the abattoir in a few days time. We are looking forward to tasting the meat from a breed we have not had before. We will also be taking delivery of some middle white/berkshire weaners in the next few days. We decided to break the habit of having a Chasse picnic this year, so it didn’t become an annual event. But - it was a pleasant surprise when Francis, the head honcho in the chasse, asked if he could buy a pig. A couple of weeks later Francis and his wife visited and by the time they left we had agreed that the”picnic” would be held here and that we were cooking the pig and providing the rest of the food but Francis would provide the wine - I know which I would prefer to be doing! The update on Zealy and Beano (the two rabbits) is that they both produced seven kits each, all of which have survived and are chasing round the hutches like mad things. Each year we buy our straw from our neighbouring farmer and this year we have been lucky to be have been able to get barley straw. We had been expecting the delivery but when I returned home in the evening after a hard day working with a friend, I was quite happy to see that the straw had not been delivered. So a nice shower was called for and afterwards we sat down to enjoy a glass 32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Photo Above: If anyone wants to take on Jenny for the ‘biggest pumpkin’ competition, she already has a bit of a head start!

Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine before the nights start to draw in. See you next month for more Life on the farm. Peter & Jenny Sebborn. Breeders of pigs, lambs and poultry. La Gauteliere, 79220 Pamplie. Tel: 05 49 28 38 57

Our Journey to a



by Louise Read & David Hammond

Photos from left to right: Louise & David; Etang Fourreau as it was; Etang Fourreau as it looks now.


e are Louise and David who, like most people, had been working in a variety of jobs to pay the mortgage and bills. Since setting up home together in the mid 90s we’d fallen in love not only with each other, but with gardening; the joy of the feeling warm soil in our hands and the delight of pulling something we could eat out of it. Over time, we learned more and started to grow as much of our own fruit and vegetables as we could from our suburban garden, then introducing chickens for eggs and, if I’m honest, also for the pleasure of watching them wandering around! Gardening, cooking and a few little forays with crafting began to make us much more aware of our impact on the environment so recycling, re-purposing and reducing became part of our way of being. We were having a great time, doing “our bit” for the planet, but at the same time starting to realise that if we wanted to do more, we’d need to make some pretty radical changes. So the dreaming started; long conversations, normally beginning with “what if…..” gave us a framework for what we wanted to be doing and where in the world we might be doing it - it took us a while to make France and the Poitou-Charentes our final choice. We also tried to be realistic about what we were capable of taking on. We became horribly aware that our DIY skill set was incredibly limited; neither of us were very practical, yes, we’d done a bit of decorating and made a raised bed or two, but beyond that we were pretty much clueless. Our enthusiasm though was sky-high, constantly fuelled by a diet of TV programmes like River Cottage, Grand Designs - we thought we could take on anything! In 2011 we decided to bite the bullet and get on with it, so we put our house in the UK on the market. We’d agreed early on that we wouldn’t look for our new place in France for fear of falling in love with something and not being able to go for it. Our plan was to finalise the sale, put all our stuff into storage and move ourselves and our cats in with David’s parents, then go find the right house and land. We arrived in France for a two week holiday in September 2012 armed with a shortlist of 20 houses we wanted to view that met our criteria – it had to have two acres of land, be big enough to be

a chambre d’hote at some point in the future and be beautiful! Not much to ask you’d think, but after 20 viewings we were feeling somewhat disillusioned. We’d seen houses that were capable of being beautiful but not in our lifetime or budget, others with so much land that we’d have needed megaphones to find each other in the garden, and some that were just plain awful - not like the pictures at all! On the morning before we were due to go back, we thought we’d take one more look at the agents’ websites to see if there was anything we might have overlooked - and there it was, a beautiful house, with a great kitchen, partially renovated, big enough to be a B&B and although it didn’t have quite enough land we thought it was worth a look. A quick phone call and we were on our way to Boussais for a hastily arranged viewing. As we turned the corner, we fell in love with the way the house looked and hoped desperately that we wouldn’t be disappointed again. As we got out of the car we saw the lake, it was vast and peaceful, the setting was perfect, a heron flew over the lake and our hearts lifted - it felt like it was meant to be. A quick walk through the house confirmed it was everything we wanted, but there was that little problem of the land - we couldn’t fulfil our primary ambitions of “make a garden worth visiting” and “become self-sustaining” with only one acre. We explained to the agent and drove quickly away, feeling a bit sad, but aware that buying anything less than perfect would only leave us becoming frustrated in the future. Later that evening, resigned to going back with nothing sorted out, we got a phone call from the agent; the vendor would sell us another adjoining acre of land, and even better it would be on the lakeside! We offered on the spot, it was agreed in 30 minutes everything being well, we should be able to move in by Christmas!

Join us next month to see how our journey continues... For further information please email: or visit our website: Also on Facebook at

Do you have a Business to promote? Call us Today - Great Rates! 05 49 70 26 21 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 33

Communications How to Extend the Life of Your Laptop Battery

If you travel extensively and require longer battery times the best suggestion is to buy an additional battery, and keep it charged to 70% - 80% for normal use, and just fully charge it before you go away.

Since the release of Windows 8 and the ability to use touchscreen technology, many of my customers are preferring laptops to desktop personal computers. Laptops may be less expensive now than buying a new desktop set-up and have the convenience of portability and Wi-Fi.

Reducing the programs and services running on your PC to the minimum, or exchanging the hard disk drive to one of the newer solid state drives are also techniques that will save battery time. (Unlike the traditional hard disk drives the solid state drives do not have any moving parts, so there is no motor needed to get the device running before you extract any data).

These new laptops and tablets use the latest battery technology such as Lithium-ion and Lithium-polymer. Understanding these and learning how to get the best from each of them has some major benefits both on the financial and usability fronts.

For long-term storage, manufacturers recommend a 40% charge. This allows for some self-discharge while still retaining sufficient charge to keep the protection circuit active.

by Ross Hendry

Lithium Batteries have a life cycle of between 500 and 2,000 charges depending on the type and usage. Most Lithium batteries do age - even if not in use! This starts after about 300 charges and reduces the capacity slowly. On a poorer quality battery you may find the battery charge duration down to 70% of its original capacity at this stage. Unlike previous types of battery, Lithium batteries do not suffer from memory effect and do not need maintenance - usually in the form of a full discharge. They also have a very low self discharge rate, less than half of Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. The only other real drawback is that they require precision charging circuits that prevent over charging, however this is normally fully catered for by the device manufacturer and not normally a concern of the user. It is therefore imperative that you only use the manufacturer’s charging device, NEVER try a charger from another device unless you are certain that they are totally compatible. So what is the best way to get the most out of your batteries? In the case of a laptop, I recommend that you do not use the laptop with the charging lead permanently attached. Sure, keep it close and allow your PC to tell you when it needs to be plugged in, this is normally when there is around 14% of charge left. Plug in your charger and keep an eye on it, I would recommend that you unplug the charger at around 80% most of the time. However, if you are planning a long trip, you should charge up to 100% as this will give you the longest charge when you are travelling. It is a question of balance, normally we need the battery to last as long as we can in terms of its product life, this means not fully charging the battery. From time to time it is necessary for use to fully charge the battery because we anticipate being away from a source of mains power, under these circumstances we need to fully charge the battery to get the longest life for that charge. Doing this is quite acceptable but due to the characteristics of Lithium-ion/ polymer consistently doing this will reduce the battery’s overall life.

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Here are some top tips on how to charge Li-ion batteries (courtesy of where you may learn more on looking after your batteries.

Simple Guidelines for Charging Lithium-based Batteries •

• • • • • •

A portable device should be turned off while charging. This allows the battery to reach the threshold voltage unhindered and reflects the correct saturation current responsible to terminate the charge. A parasitic load confuses the charger. Charge at a moderate temperature. Do not charge below freezing. Lithium-ion does not need to be fully charged; a partial charge is better. Chargers use different methods for “ready” indication. The light signal may not always indicate a full charge. Discontinue using charger and/or battery if the battery gets excessively warm. Before prolonged storage, apply some charge to bring the pack to about half charge. Over-discharged batteries can be “boosted” to life again. Discard pack if the voltage does not rise to a normal level within a minute while on boost.

Please remember this information holds true for all Lithium Ion batteries, including those in your mobile telephone, Camera, ipod/ Pad or tablet computer etc. Finally, you may download a great free utility program to help care for your battery and perhaps extend its runtime and life, here is the link Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (See advert below).

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of the month.

What would you like to see in future issues?

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

Orange helpline

09 69 36 39 00

EDF International Customer Service

05 62 16 49 08

CLEISS (Social security advice between countries)

01 45 26 33 41

Funeral Information (AFIF)

01 45 44 90 03 or

Passport Advice

0044 208 082 4729 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 35

Food & Drink French Village Diaries

by Jacqueline Brown

One of my favourite ways to spend a morning at this time of year is to wander around our local market. It really seems to come alive in the summer; there are more people, more colours and more smells too. The coffee man might be there all year round, but the warm summer air carries the freshly ground coffee scent, that mingles with the fragrance from the melon and strawberry lady a few stalls down and the cooked paella just outside the covered market halle makes me hungry. Melons are always on my shopping list, carefully selected by the stallholder to be perfectly ripe for the day I want to eat them. She seemed delighted to think her locally grown melons were travelling to the UK for our family party, but when we also bought her pink garlic to take with us she boasted that lots of her garlic is already sold in the UK. The lady from the Languedoc always has a colourful display of enormous tomatoes, dark cherries, apricots and peaches, ripe, fragrant and sold with a smile. Another summer staple for us is moules, always purchased from the same producer inside the covered market halle. Her ready cleaned moules are delicious and a regular Friday night feast, served with homemade chips and walnut bread. Moules and walnut bread may not be a traditional French pairing, but trust me it works. The perfect apero can be found from the saucisson seller, three different flavours for 10€, but with so much choice I find it difficult to decide. There is no problem choosing dessert though as we all enjoy the Tourteau, a local cake made from goat cheese and one of only a few traditionally French cheesecakes.

A friend in the village, who is a food expert, assures me that the best andouille sausage in the area is to be found in the indoor halle. The Andouille de Verrines is made and sold by the vendor who, without fail, always has the largest queue at his stall, which is a good sign of quality. I’ve got as far as looking at it through the glass sided counter, but at 13.50€ a kilo for tripe sausage, it may be the best around but I’ve not plucked up enough courage to try it just yet. I still miss the goat cheese lady who only sold one homemade cheese in young (soft), medium and mature (hard) varieties. She was smiley, friendly and liked to practise her English as she delicately wrapped the cheeses in greaseproof paper. I still see her at the market, but with a basket over her arm, shopping not selling anymore. Having wandered and browsed and sniffed and watched, I head to the café for a coffee and bit more people watching. Last week a couple with holiday tans and a camping car caught my eye. In their basket was a huge selection of cheese and bottle of port and I felt like asking if I could join them on their holiday. For recipes please email me at

or visit

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The Belt of Orion Wines of Chantonnay

by John Sherwin

You don’t really expect serendipity to strike on the Paris metro at 9.20 on a Tuesday morning coming into Ecole Militaire. Well, you don’t expect serendipity to strike anywhere at anytime, that’s the whole notion – but just grasp the weirdness of you hanging off one metro strap and a guy you’re sure you know from somewhere, sometime, who doesn’t belong in this scenario, hanging off another metro strap about two metres away. Then it hits you. “Philippe! What the hell are you doing here?” He recognises me and says this is my stop and I say it’s mine too so we both say let’s go have a coffee. He’s toting a case of clinking bottles and a homely Vendée smile, and as we emerge from our warren the Paris air seems kind and the sky blue. He’s in town with samples of his wine to sell to selected restaurateurs, but for now we take our coffee and talk of the Vendée, of Chantonnay, and of his vineyard just outside that town, for it is M. Orion, proud owner of La Barbinière. In 1978, Philippe started with a couple of hectares and a young family. Over time, the couple of hectares became thirty and one son became an expert in growing grapes, the other an expert in making something of them. Philippe and sons, Vincent and Alban Orion were in business – a real family business, with all the pride that brings. The current 30 hectares of La Barbinière benefit from a variety of soil forms so the most appropriate plots are used for any particular grape variety. In addition, the oceanic climate provides the highest average temperatures for the whole of the Loire Valley. They produce a complete range of wines: •

Wine Vocabulary... rouge red blanc white clair light foncé dark pâle pale profond deep La clarté Clarity brillant brilliant brumeux misty clair clear cristallin crystal-clear opaque opaque un reflet glint terne dull trouble muddy acerbe tart acide acidic aigre sour aigu sharp amer bitter doux sweet frais fresh fruité fruity un goût taste

moelleux sugary une note hint plat flat rond mild rude harsh salé salty une saveur flavor sec dry sucré sweet des bulles bubbles des dépôts sediment ambré amber brun brown carmin crimson cuivré coppery doré golden jaunâtre yellowish orangé orangey paille straw pourpre scarlet rose saumon - salmon pink rubis ruby verdâtre greenish violacé purplish

Useful verbs... avaler to swallow boire to drink cracher to spit out

• •

• •

The ‘Silex’ white is a well-balanced blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay with aromas of white fruits: will go nicely with seafood or goats’ cheese. The ‘Silex’ rosé is nicely sharp with aromas of red fruits: a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cab Sav: lovely summer aperitif, and great with salads or white meat. The ‘Silex’ red is a blend of Pinot, Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon, and Gamay: complex nose of blackcurrant, black cherry, with smokey and caramelised notes: a treat with game or red meat. ‘La Douée’ is a wonderful dessert wine, 100% Chenin Blanc, with aromas of mango, citrus, and mint: classic matching with foie gras or most desserts. Their ‘Méthode Traditionnelle’ is a mix of Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir: really lovely, light and fresh, with a mix of white and red fruits – it’s bubbly, so match it with anything!

The vines are carefully nurtured under the shrewd eyes of Alban; the wines are meticulously crafted by the exigent Vincent; the whole is overseen by the patrician eminence grise, Philippe, my erstwhile fellow boulevardier. What better guarantee of quality can there be but these three stars of the belt of Orion? Go to for online info - but nothing beats going there in person. If you’d like to visit this and other vineyards in the Vendée, see the ad on this page.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours. Tel: 02 51 66 13 05 ~ E:

incliner to tilt (the glass) siroter to sip voir to see

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Motoring Sceptic to Electric

by Helen Tait-Wright

People who know me, and regular readers of this column will know that I am a confirmed petrol head, and so, understandably slightly sceptical about electric cars, which don’t seem to tick any of the classic petrol head boxes ....... or do they? On a recent trip to the UK, I was lucky enough to find out for myself, and drive a Tesla Model S. The Model S is the second car from the Tesla marque, the first being the Roadster which was based on a Lotus Elise. The all new Model S is a big car, but it is good looking and has bags of presence on the road. It fits into the “luxury saloon” market sector, and is already making its mark in the worldwide market with 37,000 examples sold in 18 months. Underneath the conventional looking exterior, this car is definitely not conventional. In reality it doesn’t need the elegant bonnet to cover the engine compartment because there is no engine, so instead you get more luggage space to bring the total to an amazing 1795 litres of storage. It has plenty of room to carry 5 adults and this can be extended to include a further 2 children with the addition of rear jump seats. In the drivers seat, you have a conventional steering wheel and brake and accelerator pedals, but the majority of functions are controlled from a centrally mounted 17 inch touchscreen. And, it is very roomy inside as there is no transmission tunnel to get in the way.  I drove the most powerful of the battery options, the 85kWh Performance pack, which gives a claimed 416bhp, similar to my Jaguar XKR.  So, how did it compare? Well, the acceleration in the Tesla is mind blowing. And instant. Like nothing I have ever experienced. I would imagine it’s a bit like being catapaulted - stationary - then whoosh! 0- 60in 4.2 seconds. With the battery pack low down in the car, a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution and a flat under tray, the car really does corner like it is on rails. Body roll is minimal and in the hands of the Tesla engineer we hurtled round the lanes of East Anglia with great assurance and no loss of roadholding. I was a little more cautious, as it really feels quite wrong to be able to corner at those sorts of speeds in a road car, and a big one at that.

Contact Helen at

The ride is quite hard compared to a family saloon, but I prefer it that way. In short, to drive, it was totally stunning. But there is the ever present issue of battery life and charging. (A little technical note here - the car uses a KERS type system similar to an F1 car, to harvest energy as you drive. All very clever.) The range of the battery in the car I drove is quoted as 312 miles, which is pretty good - again comparable to the range I get from a tank of petrol in my XKR. Back at base after the drive we looked at the availability of charging points throughout Europe, including Tesla’s own supercharger network, and it is much better than I thought. We calculated that a trip from East Anglia to the Deux Sevres would only take around 40 minutes longer in total in the Tesla than the same trip in the XKR, to allow for charging time, but I would save around 200 Euros in fuel costs. Impressive stuff. There is much more I could add, but the confines of this article do not allow, so I would urge you to check out the Tesla website ....

This could be the shape of the future!

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Building & Renovation Small B/W advert only 30â&#x201A;Ź

Thinking about placing an ad? Why not take advantage of our Special Packages for New Advertisers? Call Sarah for more details: 05 49 70 26 21

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Business & Finance TAXE FONCIERE AND TAXE D’HABITATION You must hate me by now! All I talk about is insurances or tax!! After income tax in May, here comes the taxes everybody dislikes and the ones I get more questions on, especially on how to reduce or avoid it! I will try to explain them both using figures for single and couples but amounts are different with children. Those figures are what we call revenue fiscal de reference and you can find it on your income tax form (the one you receive in September).

Taxe Fonciere Who pays it?

The taxe fonciere is payable by the owner of the property whether he lives in it or not. The property must be a built one, meaning not a mobile home or caravan unless it is fixed to the ground by concrete! Farm buildings can be exempt.

How is it calculated?

The taxe fonciere is established in the commune where it is situated, so you could receive two taxe fonciere if your property is spread over 2 communes! Prices vary depending on the commune as well. It is established for the entire year depending on the situation of the property on the 1st of January of that year. If you have increased the size of that property, those modifications will only be taken into account from the 1st of January the year after. You receive the taxe fonciere mid-September and it is payable before mid-October. You can opt for monthly payments. If you sell your property during the year, the notaire will ask the new owner to pay you back the amount corresponding to the number of months in that year that he owns it. It is calculated using the annual cadastral income (theoretical annual rental income of the property) to which they apply a 50% discount. To this amount, they apply a percentage of tax and this percentage is voted by the commune, the inter-commune and the department each year. So, depending where your property is, the tax can be lower or higher in accordance with who has been elected!

How is it calculated?

It is calculated using the theoretical rental income of the property to which they apply a discount (only if it is your main residence). This discount depends on how many children or dependents you have under your roof and your revenues. To this rental income, they apply a % of tax that has been voted by the Commune and the Inter-commune. You receive the taxe d’habitation in midOctober and it has to be paid before mid-November. You can pay it monthly. The taxe d’Habitation includes the “Contribution à Audiovisuel Public” (TV licence).


You can be exempt if you: • receive benefits from ASPA, ASI or AAH. • are over 60 years old and earn less than 10633€ as a single or 16311€ as a couple. • are a widow and earn less than 10633€. You have nothing to do as it is linked to your income tax form. You can benefit from a discount (capping) if your revenue is lower than 25 005€ as a single or 35 445€ as a couple. The capping is equal to 3.44% of your revenue which has been subjected to a reduction. This reduction is 5215 for a single and 8231 for a couple. For example: You earn as a couple (2 parts on your tax form) 30 000€. Then the calculation is 30 000 - 8231 = 21769 x 3.44% = 748.85€. So the maximum taxe d’habitation will be this amount. If your taxe d’habitation is lower than that, then no discount! But if it is more, it gets reduced to 748.85€ This is calculated automatically when you fill in your income tax form. This reduction is only applied if it is your main residence and if you don’t pay the wealth tax.


As usual, do not hesitate to contact me for any further information on the above subject but also if you want a free quote on insurances or information on Inheritance law, investment and savings.

And check out our web site where you can find all my previous articles under the page “practical information”:


This is what you are all waiting for! The following can be exempt from paying the taxe fonciere: • The people who benefit from: ASPA, AAH and ASI (benefits for older people with no money and disabled people). • People over 75 years old who earn less than 10 633€ as a single • or 16 311€ as a couple. And if you are not subject to ISF (wealth tax). • If you are between 65 and 75 years old and meet the above criteria, you are entitled to 100€ discount. As a couple, only one of you has to have reached the necessary age.

Taxe d’Habitation Who pays it?

It is payable by the person who lives in the property on the 1st of January of that year whether this person is the owner, lodger or is living in it freely. The property must be furnished enough to be habitable. So if nobody lives in it but there is furniture in it, the owner has to pay the taxe d’habitation. If you are selling the property and it is empty, you can ask the Maire of your commune to come and witness the fact that it is empty. He will give you a letter signed proving the property was empty on 1st of January so you can become exempt. When you sell the property, it is your responsibility to pay it (as you lived in it on 1st of January) so if you own or lived in the property of the 1st of January, you must pay the entire tax for that year even if you sell it or move out 2 months later.

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec Contact Isabelle Want: Tel: 05 45 31 01 61 Mob: 06 17 30 39 11 Email:

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Get the Most out of Living in France by Bradley Warden, Partner, Blevins Franks

There are many attractions and advantages to living in France. However, there are some drawbacks too, such as unfamiliar local bureaucracy and a complex, expensive and frequently changing tax regime. To get the best out of living here, your financial planning should be specifically set up to work well and provide advantages in France, while taking your family’s situation into account. You need to understand how the various French taxes impact you – social charges, wealth tax and the succession tax rules can be an unwelcome surprise for British nationals, not to mention succession law – and how you can use the rules to your advantage. Establish what the best savings and investment strategy is for you now, and look at how all the options for your pension funds would work in France, from a general and tax perspective. Consider also capital gains tax on selling your UK assets and if you can avoid it. The sooner you get your financial planning sorted, the sooner you can get on with enjoying your life in France. The Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France has been written to provide UK nationals with the key information they need regarding tax and wealth management in France. It is useful whether you are at the planning stages of moving here, are a new arrival or have been living here a while, or if you own a holiday home here. It is

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also useful for those returning to the UK. The new, Edition 7 is now available. It has 26 chapters covering a range of topics, including: • • • • • • • • • •

Purchasing French property French residence Income tax and social charges Capital gains tax Wealth tax Succession tax and law Assurance Vie and French taxation Pensions and QROPS Shedding UK residence Avoiding UK capital gains tax

Blevins Franks has been providing specialist advice to British expatriates for decades. The Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France is based on our vast experience and deep understanding of expatriates’ financial planning needs. To obtain a copy of the book please contact me on 05 49 75 07 24 or bradley.warden@ We also have a stand (indoor stand no. 37) at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’s Anglo-French Trade Fair at Secondigny on 20th September. You are welcome to come along and have a chat about the financial side of living in France and ask any questions you may have, as well as register your interest in the Living in France book. I look forward to seeing you there.

Let’s talk SAILING….

Ahoy there Captain! Ok, I’ll admit - I am no sailor and we are a little landlocked here in the Deux-Sèvres. However, there are many opportunities for yachting enthusiasts and professionals, having the coast not so very far away at La Rochelle. The team, here at Currencies Direct France, are really excited to announce the arrival of our brand new HORIZONS product, which is aimed exclusively at the yachting industry. The Horizons brand has been developed after many months of research by Cossette Cutrara, who is a Business Development Exectutive based in our French office in Nice. For so many people involved in the yachting industry the need to be able to move money from country to country is paramount - and often time sensitive. For example, if you are off on a six month trip you need to be able to ensure all those home based commitments, such as mortgage payments, regular bills etc are covered. That is why we have developed Horizons, to provide that valuable service. It is not just aimed at the crew members but all the other subsidiary industries that all play a part in making sure a trip goes well - such as yacht maintenance, brokerage, crew recruitment and training etc.. So if you, or anyone you know, is involved in the Yachting industry in anyway then please do get in contact to find out a little bit more about how Currencies Direct can make sure your international money transfers are plain sailing and that life is a breeze (I write my own material you know!). For more information on Horizons feel free to contact myself on 06 89 99 28 89 or via email at or you can contact Cossette directly. Cosette’s number is 04 22 32 62 41 and her email is As always , if you have any questions about any of the products and services we offer – or would like to get a free, no obligation rate quote for your next transfer then please do get in contact. See you next month!

Ask Amanda

by Sue Cook

“I have been working in France for several years and feel I should now be looking at long term plans and pensions, but don’t know where to start. Can you help me?”

There are many people who, like myself, have come to France to work. Once your business is established it is sensible to start to think about your longer term financial goals: At what age would I like to retire or reduce the number of hours I am working?

? ? ? ? ?

What UK pension can I expect to receive bearing in mind I am no longer paying National Insurance contributions? What can I do with any private UK pension pots I have from my time working in the UK? How much income do I think I will need once I retire in France? What can I do to maximise my income and minimise my tax when I retire?

A free financial consultation will allow us to cover all of the above questions and look at options based on your personal circumstances, which will allow you to best plan ahead. Several small decisions now can make a great difference to your future quality of life. There are no consulting fees for providing you with advice or ongoing service. Our Client Charter outlines how we work and what you can expect from us. Please do not hesitate to ask for a copy of this. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide. With Care, You Prosper. Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Lausanne, Paris, Cote d’Azur, Barcelona, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Madrid, Mallorca, Rome. «The Spectrum IFA Group » is a registered trademark, exclusive rights to use in France granted to TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 «Société de Courtage d’assurances» R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 - «Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers»

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 49

Popular French Savings & Investments Bank Accounts

by David Hardy

French banks offer various savings accounts from an instant access Compte sur Livret to a fixed term Compte à Terme, offering better interest rates over a fixed period. For French residents, there are also various tax-free bank deposit accounts. The most common are the Livret A and the Livret de Développement Durable (LDD). The maximum deposit per person is €22,950 for the Livret A and €12,000 for the LDD. The general conditions of the accounts are the same and are regulated by the government. Interest is free of all taxation and the annual interest rate is currently 1.25%. Rates are generally reviewed on a six-monthly basis.

These investments provide two clear advantages, however, in that the amount that is declared for Wealth Tax is the initial investment amount (or the current value, if lower) and a Bon de Capitalisation can be gifted during your lifetime or left on death, which could be useful if the aim is to pass on a ‘family portfolio’. David Hardy is Regional Manager of Siddalls France, Independent Financial Adviser, specialised in tax, inheritance, pension and investment planning for the British community in the PoitouCharentes since 1996.

David Hardy, Siddalls France Tel: 05 56 34 75 51 ~ Email:

The Livret d’Epargne Populaire (LEP) offers an interest rate of 1.75% for savings limited to deposits of €7,700 each. To qualify, you must prove, via a tax certificate, that your reference income for anything that is means tested revenu fiscal de référence is below certain modest thresholds for the previous year. Should your income exceed the thresholds then the LEP must be closed. The Plan d’Epargne Logement (PEL) is a savings plan over a minimum of four years, aimed at saving for house purchase and home improvement. Whilst you are saving the interest earned (currently 2.5% for new accounts) is free of income tax but will be subject to social taxes.

Share Dealing

You can hold a share dealing account at your bank, a stockbroker, or on the internet. The normal safe custody account is called a Compte Titres. A share is an action and a Government or Corporate Bond is an obligation. Most people deal in shares through a specific form of investment called a Plan d’Epargne en Actions or PEA. This account allows you to hold and deal in French and European shares and provides considerable tax advantages ON CONDITION THAT no withdrawals are made for the first five years. Taxes may be applicable depending on when the withdrawal is made. Please see our information on our website.

Life Assurance Investment

A very popular form of investment for French residents is the Contrat d’ Assurance Vie, a Life Assurance Investment Bond (investments with a Life Assurance company). Their popularity is principally because of the significant inheritance advantages offered, as well as beneficial tax treatment for any growth and/or income generated. To benefit from the investment’s preferential tax treatment the insurance company provides the ‘wrapper’, allowing the investor to choose from a list of funds the investments to be held within it. For larger sums (generally €500,000+), a discretionary investment manager can be appointed to run a bespoke portfolio. All French insurance companies also offer access to their Fonds en Euros. The insurance company invests as they see fit whilst offering a guarantee that the investment cannot drop in value and must go up by a certain amount each year. At the end of each year they calculate how much they have made and distribute the investors’ shares of the ‘profits’ as interest. These investments are obliged to be very conservative, due to the level of guarantees offered and are only making, therefore, about 3% a year at present, due to low interest rates.

CONTRIBUTIONS... We are always looking for new articles for consideration in future issues.

An alternative to the Contrat d’Assurance Vie is a Bon de Capitalisation, Capital Redemption Bond.

Do you have an experience to share? Are you a tradesman with a Top Tip? or perhaps an avid reader who would like to contribute a book review? Whatever it may be, either long or short, we would love to hear from you.

The basic contract terms are the same for both policies, as is the income and social tax treatment. However, Bons de Capitalisation carry no inheritance advantages and the value of the policy on death forms part of your estate.

You can call Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 with any ideas, or send them on an email to: info@thedeuxsevresmonthlyfr

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Small Colour advert, only 34€

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 51

Back in the Market!

by Joanna Leggett

The first half of 2014 has seen a marked increase in the number of buyers back in the marketplace! Our latest statistics record an overall increase in sales of 35 percent since the beginning of the year, and our pipeline of ‘offers accepted’ and ‘contracts exchanged’ has also doubled! But while there are more sales and more people looking for their perfect ‘Place in the Sun’ prices are not increasing in the same manner. What we’ve determined is that prices appear to have ‘bottomed out’ - with no dramatic falls nor rises - but rather ‘steady as she goes’ giving some longer term certainty and security to the marketplace. We believe increased demand is partly due to improved consumer confidence in the UK economy and property market (something not necessarily shared by all other European countries!), coupled with continuing low interest rates allowing French property to be financed both cheaply and relatively easily compared to previous years. UK buyers already make up around a quarter of all ‘non-resident’ house purchases here, and our prices (especially when compared to southern England) make Deux-Sèvres the ideal location to buy. We’re well served with three airports providing cheap flights to the UK, the TGV and road links to the cross channel ferries - with similar sunshine hours to the Med, without the high prices of the South of France nor distance to travel, making Deux-Sèvres the ideal location for a lifestyle or holiday home. When you add into this heady mix the perennial desire of British buyers to have a home in France where the weather, culture and lifestyle are in direct contrast to the stress of everyday living in the UK, we’re the most easily accessed ‘destination of choice’! The overall falls in property prices we have seen in the past few years now provide extreme value for money and many buyers are commenting they see this as a ‘real window of opportunity’ to buy into the French lifestyle. Here, in Deux-Sèvres, prices are, we believe, realistic - well presented, well priced homes are selling far more quickly than in previous years. If you’re thinking of selling, or even joining our team, now could be the time to talk to us!

Above: Place de la Breche, Niort. Photo: Sarah Berry

Joanna Leggett is Marketing Director at Leggett Immobilier.

You can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - August 2014  

English Language Magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - August 2014  

English Language Magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas