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Annual Subscription Costs: 34€ within France, 29€ 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 83 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine...

Happy New Year everyone! I know it’s a little late to be saying this in February....but it’s the first opportunity I’ve had as we didn’t print a January issue... I hope you are all in good health and are looking forward to the year ahead. So 2018 - I wonder what it will bring? For Rob and I, we will certainly be continuing with our fitness, and my goal for the year (apart from another triathlon!) is to complete a half marathon..fingers crossed this dreadful weather will change soon so I can get out and train! February is a quiet month but there are still things to get out for... there are clubs that meet for coffee and chatter, hobbies and crafts that need doing, restaurants offering dinner over candelight, pancake recipes to try and practice, local markets to visit, quiz nights, Franglais groups, garden projects to plan, holidays to book.... phew! I don’t think it will be quiet for long! Well, whatever you do this month, take care and enjoy yourselves and I’ll be back next month when things should start to feel a little more spring-like.

à plus, Sarah x

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 4 Getting Out & About 6 Clubs & Associations 10 Hobbies 12 Our Furry Friends 14 Health, Beauty & Fitness 15 Home & Garden 16 Communications 20 Where We Live22 Food & Drink 26 French Life 29 Take a Break 30 A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres 31 Motoring 32 Building & Renovation 33 Business & Finance 37 Property 41

This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petit Travaux (Builder) A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant & Auberge) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating)

41 2 33 27 38 36

continued... (Tree Surgery) 19 Argo carpentry 34 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 32 Bar de la Poste 7 Beau Jardin (Caring for your Garden) 18 Beaux Villages Immobilier 43 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 39 Bill McEvoy (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 36 Blevins Franks Financial Management 40 Camping Les Prairies du Lac 43 Cherry Picker Hire 35 Chris Bassett Construction 33 Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 36 Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) 6 CJ Electricité 34 Clare Lane (Agent Commercial) 41 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 34 Currencies Direct - Sue Cook 38 Darren Lawrence 33 David Watkins Chimney Sweep 34 Digger Hire 35 Down to Earth Pool Design 41 Ecopower Europe  41 Expat-radio 21 Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) 32 Hallmark Electricité 34 Helen Booth (deVere Group) 37 HMJ Maintenance 33 IMOCONSEIL France (Pierre Dessombs) 44 Inter Décor (Tiles & Bathrooms) 36 Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries 35 Jean-Luc Thierens (Excavation work) 35 Jeff’s Metalwork 33 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 32 Jon the Carpetman 17 Julian Dor-Vincent (Farrier) 14 KCR Service (Alarms and Security systems) 16 La Bohème Mervent (Bar & Restaurant) 7 La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) 17 Leggett Immobilier 42 Le Regal’on Bar & Restaurant 27 Line Dancing 15 Lloyds Motoculture Services (Garden machinery) 19 LPV Technology (Computer troubleshooting) 21 Mark Sabestini Renovation & Construction 33 Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) 34 ML Computers 21 Motor Parts Charente 32 M. Page Landscaping (Landscape Design & Construction) 17 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 32 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 17 OD Rénovation (stonemasonry) 33 Pamela Irving (Holistic therapist) 15 Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) 41 Restaurant des Canards 27 Robert Lupton Electrician 34 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 20 Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) 17 Sarah Berry Online (Website design) 21 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and Micro Station Installer) 35 Satellite TV 21 SDS79 Cleaning/Maintenance Services 16 Simon the Tiler 36 Smart Moves - Removal company 32 Smart Services (Home and Garden services) 16 Steve Coupland (Property Services) 36 Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 36 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 32 UPVC Double Glazing (Haynes Carpentry) 16 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9

© Sarah Berry 2018. 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. It is strongly advised to check details of published events with other sources before setting out on long journeys. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Sarah Berry, 3 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 et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: fevrier 2018 - Tirage: 4500 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 03 515 249 738

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 3

What’s On... Until 4 March - Marais Poitevin Photography Exhibition. By Pierre Viala, photographer and explorer of ‘The

Green Venice’. 10am to 5pm at the residence l’Angélique Orpéa, 43 rue de la Burgonce. Free entry. Info: 06 18 82 71 11 3 - The Bressuirais Running Trails 3 - 6 nations rugby - watch on the big screen At La Bohème,

Mervent. See advert on P.7 4 - Trail de l’Abbaye Celles sur Belle www.running79.e-monsite. com/pages/fiches-des-courses/trail-de-l-abbaye.html 4 – Men’s Volleyball National Championship

3pm Sports Complex Henri Barbusse, 1 rue Gustave Eiffel, Niort 11 – Record Fayre in Bressuire 10th Salon du Disque, exhibition with bar and food, free entry. 9am-6pm Salle des Fêtes de Bressuire in St Porchaire (11 rue de la Chapelle des Bois) 11 – Collectors Fayre in St Maixent l’Ecole 9am-6pm, Free entry, Hall Denfert (Impasse des Granges) 14 – Valentine’s picnic party in Bouin Valentines night Special - Picnic Party with 50’s and 60’s music by McKenZie. Salles de Fete, Bouin (79). Doors open 7pm. Bring your own picnic and drinks – fancy dress invited and prize for best outfit. Entry 10€, includes welcome drink. All the info at mckenzietrakks@hotmail. com or call 05 17 30 15 06 14 - VALENTINE’S NIGHT SOIREE at Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne. Live music, 4 course dinner. See advert on P.27 for info

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY THURSDAY PM - Quizwitch Quiz. At le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle from 8pm. 2.50€ p/p. Monies raised in aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Workshops. Personally trained by Annie Sloan to help you get the best from her paints and products. Please see EVERY OTHER THURSDAY - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds, 6.30pm (8/2 and 22/2) 1ST WEDS OF MONTH - Franglais Group at Café Bonbon, La Chapelle aux Lys, 3pm 2nd Tuesday of Month - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne, 8pm 3RD WEDS of month - Team Quiz. At Le Clemenceau Bar, Mouilleron-en-Pareds at 7.30pm, in aid of animal charities 3RD WEDS OF MONTH - Franglais Group at Pause! Café, L’Absie, 3pm Last FRIDAY of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue & Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2-5pm) Tel. 02 51 51 00 96

16 – Chinese New Year 16 - VALENTINE’S DANCE hosted by French Connection, at the Salle

des Fetes, Rue du champ de foire, Chantemerle (near the Chaudron bar). 8pm for 8.30pm start. Bring your own refreshments. Further Details and booking by email to Graham on 17&18 – Wedding Exhibition in Thouars Salon du mariage, Orangerie du Château Thouars, 10am-7pm with three parades scheduled for 11.30am, 3pm and 5.30pm 22 - franglais group at Bar Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-enPareds at 6.30pm 22 - Quiz Night at A La Bonne Vie, Le Beugnon. See advert on P.28 23 - Curry Night at La Bohème, Mervent. See advert on P.7 23-25– Salon Habitat in La Rochelle

3 days of exhibitions, 160 professionals, 10,000 visitors expected, two halls; one dedicated to the home and the other landscaping and garden. Espace Encan (Près de l’aquarium) Quai Louis Prunier 17033 La Rochelle

25 – National Dog Dancing Competition in MauzéThouarsais Salle des Fêtes - Place Saint Hilaire - 79150 Massais,

9am-4pm – Free entry

28 – Spiritual Group meeting Join our monthly group for

spiritual chat and to share experiences, no cost involved. For more info ring Trish on 05 49 07 20 94 or email

contact ‘The DSM’

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2018 2nd February Chandeleur (Fête des Crêpes) 13th February Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) 14th February Valentine’s Day (St Valentin) 4th March Grandmother’s Day (Grand-Mères) 1st April Easter Sunday (Pâques) 2nd April Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) 1st May Labour Day (Fête du Travail) 8th May Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire) 10th May Ascension Day (Ascension) 20th May Pentecost (Pentecôte) 21st May Pentecost (Lundi de Pentecôte) 27th May Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) 17th June Father’s Day (Fête des Pères) 21st June World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) 14th July National Day (Fête Nationale) 15th August Assumption of Mary (Assomption) 7th October Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grands-Pères) 31st October Halloween 1st November All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) 11th November Armistice Day (Armistice) 25th December Christmas Day (Noël)

(Dates in bold=Public holidays)

Call Sarah Berry on 05 49 70 26 21 Monday - Thursday: 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: Reel Fish & Chips 1st 2nd  7th & 21st 9th 16th

La Coudre Genneton Étusson Café des Sports, L’Absie Saint Martin de Sanzay

Tel: 06 04 14 23 94

FROM 6.30pm

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

La Vendée Chippy Weds : ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: Last of month Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

Re-opening at all venues from Friday 16 Feb

MR T’S FRITERIE Regular venues at:

• Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) • Beauvais-sur-Matha 17490 • La Chapelle 16140 • St Jean d’Angély 17400 Closed until 1st March. Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...FEBRuary 2018 LOCAL MARKETS Benet 85490 - and - La Châtaigneraie 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 (1st Tuesday in month) Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Vasles 79340 Wednesdays.... Parthenay 79200 - and - Celles-sur-Belle 79370 Ruffec 16700 Thursdays........ Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800 Gençay 86160 Friday............... Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500 Secondigny 79130 (pm)-and-St Aubin le Cloud (pm) Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 - and - Champdeniers 79220 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Ruffec 16700 Magné 79460 Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600 Mondays.........

COMING UP... 20-25th March – Festival Terri’Thouars Blues

21st March - The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Niort l’Acclameur. Tickets from 22nd March - Financial Seminar hosted by Blevins Franks at Domaine du Griffier, 10am. See advert on P.40 for details 23-25th March - Salon des Vins et Terroirs Orangerie du Château Thouars 24-25th March – Salon du Vin, de la Gastronomie et du Chocolate, Niort 13/14th April - Theatrivasles perform ‘Ladies Down Under’. Will follow Pearl, Jan, Shelly and Linda on a holiday they’ll never forget!

TOP HAT QUIZ & CURRY 1st: 5th: 12th: 14th:

Chef Boutonne Limalonges Theil Rabier Aigre


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

1st Sunday at 10.30am: Parish church at St. Leger de la Martinière, Melle. Followed by tea and coffee. 2nd Sunday at 11am: the home of Ann White, Jassay 4th Sunday at 11am: the Parish Church at Pompaire 79200 (rue du Baille Ayrault). Followed by tea and coffee, and a ‘bring and share’ lunch.

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: office. Further information from the Chaplaincy Office 05 49 97 04 21 or from John & Barbara Matthews 05 49 75 29 71. 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 Mike & Eva Willis on 05 17 34 11 50 or 07 82 22 31 15. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee are 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 welcomes you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. 1st and 3rd Sunday at 11am in St Hilaire de Voust, Vendée and 2nd and 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, DeuxSèvres and the other near Bournezeau, Vendée. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship & refreshments. Find out more by contacting Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). We welcome and embrace all Christians from all denominations and warmly invite you to join us. Following the service, coffee is served, and for those who wish to stay a little longer, we enjoy a light, bring and share lunch. Please see our website for details

FISH 4 CHIP & AUTHENTIC INDIAN MEALS Mon: Bar Tilleuls, Champniers Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square) Weds: Chef Boutonne (near Chateau) Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (Main square) Fri: Mansle (car park of Simply Supermarket) Reopening 26th February Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm FROM 7pm Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates




@The DSMagazine



YOU TUBE:  T he Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine INSTAGRAM: thedsm79 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 5

Getting Out & About

Donate your scrap metal for a good cause! NOUS COLLECTONS :

FEVRIER COLLECTE DE FERRAILLE les dont les profits soutiendront du projets de développement . canton de Grand Gapé au Togo Organisée par la section Togo canton de Thénezay du Comité de jumelage du






by Bernadine Smith

henezay area twinning association has recently twinned with Grand Gapé in Togo, West Africa, and has a huge project to provide wells supplying clean water to villages. During February we are collecting all types of scrap metal to raise funds, including: old cars (with carte grise if still in one piece) and agricultural machinery, batteries, copper, iron and ferrous metals, electrical appliances, radiators, saucepans, barrels and drums, empty paint pots, the list is endless.   Contact Jean-Michel Russeil on 06 08 91 82 45 to drop off your metal or to arrange collection.

Are your pockets and purses worn out from all that loose change? We are also collecting small coins, contact Bernadine on if you have loose change to donate or if you want to know more - the Deux-Sèvres has a long history of twinning with Togo, one of the least developed countries in Africa. Clear out your outbuildings (and pockets!) and help to provide villagers in Grand Gapé with clean, safe drinking water - their needs are as basic as that.  Thank you.



by Sandra Lane

he draw for our charity quilt took place at our Tannual dinner, which this year

was at La Petite Noisette, in Vernoux-en-Gâtine. There were lots of prizes and I think they were all well received.

I am very pleased to report that the total money raised for our chosen charity, Association Rêves, for sick children, was 736€. This is double the amount that we raised last year! I would like to mention a couple of ladies here that spent a lot of time distributing and selling a fantastic number of tickets, they are Charmian McDermid and Nicola Hancock. Also special thanks to Hazel Parker who headed up the team of ladies that made the blocks and did the collating and final binding. As a group we are looking forward to this coming year with workshops and of course the planning of next year’s charity quilt. We have been a closed group for some time, but have a few spaces available if anyone would like to join us. You do not need to have done patchwork before, just have an interest in learning. In the first instance you can contact me on 05 49 32 23 50 and I can give you details.

Have you LIKED us on Facebook?

We post regular updates, things to do and promote special offers on our page, so why not pop over and say “Hello”! 6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018



s part of Les Arts du Vent (Festival of Wind) that will take place on July 22nd 2018 in the gardens of the Royal Abbey of Celles-sur-Belle (79), the association ‘Pour du Vent’ organises a competition to create the best object of air and wind. This event will discover the different areas related to air and wind (science and technology, energy, arts, culture, sport, philosophy and religion, ...). The contest is open to all and participation is free. It is about inventing and creating a decorative object. Something musical, kinetic, mechanical, humorous, or playful that relates to the air and wind theme. To participate in this contest is to dive into a pot of creativity! There are four categories of participants within this competition: • • • •

La Chandeleur 2nd February celebrates

the Fête la Chandeleur (or Fête des Crêpes). Today it evokes the custom of pancakes, but this fête is linked to the light, and officially to the ‘Purification of the Virgin’.

artists and professional artisans communities (associations, schools) individual adults individual children (up to 16 years old)

For your creation to be accepted, the theme of air and wind must be seen. All applications must to be sent by email before the 30th June 2018 to: pourduvent@ The public will judge the winners in each category. For further information: Association For wind 6, Rue du Puits 79500 MELLE Tel: 05 49 29 38 66 or 06 76 23 15 88 Email: Find pictures of the 2016 wind festival (held in Chef-Boutonne) and download the contest rules and application forms on The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 7



n January last year the association Les Amis du Chateau discussed the possibility of raising the Saltire, the Scottish flag, at the Chateau of Cherveux.

“What is the Scottish connection?” you may ask. The chateau was built in 1470 by Robert Cunningham, a Scottish soldier who had spent all of his adult life in France, and was Captain of the Garde Ecossaise. He had been bodyguard to Charles VII and then Louis XI, and in fact, had saved Louis XI’s life when an assassin tried to kill him. For this he was rewarded by being given the funds to build the Chateau of Cherveux. Francois Redien, the present joint owner of the chateau, has often thought of flying the Scottish flag at the chateau and so, with the help of Les Amis du Chateau’s President, Jim Hutchison, (himself a Scot), Secretary Bernard Mollard and Nadine Cantin, decided that St. Andrew’s day would be an ideal time to raise the Flag. Jim contacted the Scottish Government in Holyrood, Edinburgh, telling them of the Scottish chateau in Deux-Sèvres and our plans for the flag raising. He received a very enthusiastic reply and was assured that a representative would be delighted to carry out the ceremony. Bernard and Jim were also actively involved in assisting the village of Cherveux in a twinning with the Scottish village of Kilmaurs, which has centuries of ties with the Cunningham clan, and had hoped the twinning and the flag raising could happen together. Unfortunately the twinning was postponed due to financial restrictions in East Ayrshire council. The representative for the Scottish Government who arrived was Frank Strang, Deputy-director of European Affairs. He was the perfect man for the job - superbly enthusiastic, dressed of course in a kilt, bilingual and even brought his own bagpipes. His first job was to visit Madame le Maire, Marie-Pierre Missioux and the councillors. Then to the chateau where Frank was introduced to French authorities and shown round the chateau by Francois Redien.

As the band of Cherveux a number of kilted Scots and French dancer, Aubret, danced ‘Highland accompanied by piper Anderson.

played arrived Fanny Laddie’ Gavin

After Bernard Mollard announced the start of the ceremony, and Francois Redien welcomed everyone to the chateau, two of the hundred children present from the school of Cherveux presented the Scottish flag to be unveiled. Frank Strang, the Scottish Government representative, raised the saltire as piper Gavin Anderson played ‘Flower of Scotland’ and Jim explained how it had come to be the Scottish Anthem. After which, Cherveux school choir sang the Marsellaise. The flag blew proudly above the ramparts of the old chateau and it was a dream come true for Francois Redien and his Scottish friend Jim Hutchison. The festivities continued in the Salle de Fête with a ‘vin d’honneur’ and Mme Missioux presented Frank with a gift from the commune. Frank played a number of tunes on his pipes while Fanny Aubret did some more Highland dancing. Lunch was then taken at the chateau. After the event, Frank Strang and Francois Redien visited Chateau Pont Jarno, which has been beautifully renovated since 2014 by Scottish couple Debbie and Colin McIsaac. The night was danced away to the Scottish country dancing of Tony and Maureen Murdoch and their dance group, and many French friends who were only too happy to try a few steps. Needless to say, Frank Strang played the pipes as well. Chateau de Cherveux is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays 3pm to 6pm from April to October. Ticket price: Adult: 8.00€ Child: 4€ Groups over 10 people: 6€/adult -3€ /child Tel: +33 6 43 46 98 23 ~

Photos: top left: Chateau de Cherveux © Chateau de Cherveux; top middle: Jim Hutchison, Mme Missiou, Frank Strang and François Redien © Ian Welsby; top right: Scottish flag flies over the ramparts ©Jules Polak; above left: Frank Strang playing the bagpipes © Ian Welsby; above right: Fanny Aubret dances ‘Highland Laddie’ © Ian Welsby

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Bad Weather


ow can you talk about the bad weather in very descriptive terms? Here are some expressions to help you talk about the bad weather (le mauvais temps). Dull weather temps gris) by(le Sue Burgess the rain, (la pluie) and the fog (le brouillard). When the weather is bad Il fait un temps de chien / Il fait un temps à ne pas mettre un chien dehors - the weather is awful. We can also speak about rotten weather, un temps pourri or un sale temps. If it is raining a lot, it’s raining cats and dogs – il tombe des cordes/ il pleut à verse. If you stay out in the rain you will get soaking wet. Une personne qui reste sous la pluie se mouille. In familiar language you can say on se fait tremper.  If there is thick fog you can say that it’s un brouillard à couper au couteau or a pea-souper – une purée de pois When it’s very cold then its un froid de canard. The expression probably comes from the fact that duck hunting season is in the winter. Il fait un froid polaire. And the familiar expression “Ça caille!” is also used for a very cold spell - if it gets really cold it could freeze – il gèle and then we could find patches of black ice verglas on the roads. Snow might fall il neige/la neige tombe and there could be hail la grêle. Storms les orages can be frequent. Thunder rolls ça tonne and there is lightning il y a des éclairs Winter is a time for high winds des vents forts/des tempêtes and the wind whistles and howls le vent siffle et le vent hurle. The rain soaks the ground and runs into the gutters. La pluie inonde le sol et coule dans le caniveau. It beats on the window panes elle bat les vitres. The wind turns the weather vane. Le vent fait tourner la girouette.

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: Il fait frais............................... It’s chilly Il fait froid .............................. It’s cold Il fait du vent .........................

It’s windy

Il y a de la pluie/il pleut.......... It’s raining

Il y a du brouillard................... It’s foggy Le brouillard se dissipe ........... the fog’s lifting Il y a des éclaircies .................

there are breaks in the clouds

Le ciel est voilé ....................... the sky is cloudy

Take a Break - SOLUTION

It’s cloudy

Easy Crossword: Across: 1. arson 3. rifle 7. tapas 8. audit 9. shift 10. pastime 11. detention 14. suggest 15. skirt 16. aslan 17. mango 18. retch 19. talon Down: 1. apathy 2. staff sergeant 4. fruit cocktail 5. enigma 12. bursar 13. dragon

Le temps est nuageux.............

Toughie Crossword: Across: 1. maroon 4. russet 8. led 9. therm 11. tan 12. tortoise shell 15. very 16. zero 20. wander offside 21. ich 23. steal 24. ken 25. sienna 26. indigo Down: 1. muleta 2. red 3. outdoor person 5. unmasked felon 6. sot 7. tingle 10. easy 13. raven 14. emoji 17. swains 18. rose 19. lean to 22. hue 24. koi

Il y a du crachin ...................... It’s spitting

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 9

Clubs & Associations ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are now a number of English-speaking meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the South West of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership and A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation or institution. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Telephone: Angela: 05 49 87 79 09, Roger: 05 55 76 22 65 or Nancy: 02 54 24 09 74. Email: publicinfo.swfrance@aa-€ or visit for details of English-speaking meetings.

AL-ANON Support Group

Do you wish the Drinking Would Stop? Are you troubled by someone’s drinking? If so we can help. There is now an English-speaking Al-Anon meeting every Wednesday @ 2.30pm in the meeting room behind Civray Mairie. Just turn up or ring Angela on 05 49 87 79 09.


A British style band, who meet each Tuesday at 8pm, at the Salle de la Cendille, Limalonges (just 1km from the N10). All levels welcome. Call Penny on 06 38 78 99 92 or visit our website

Acceuil des Villes Françaises A French association dedicated to welcoming newcomers, from across France & abroad, to their new environment; helping them to integrate, speak French and feel ‘at home’ through social events and activities. CLE (Charente Limousine Exchange) is a non-profit organisation for exchange of news, views and information. We work to protect member’s best interests, run social activities, events and clubs, helping members to make new ex-patriate and French friends. Barry Leech 05 49 87 19 85

MERIDIEN GREEN ASSOCIATION We are a cross cultural association who aim for closer integration of the inhabitants of St Coutant 79120 and surrounding areas. Free weekly language classes on Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons. For all our events visit

The Phoenix Chorale An English speaking choir. We sing 3 or 4 concerts of seasonal and classical music, often including readings and poetry. Based near Charroux (86), we are always looking for new members. If interested, call 05 45 89 14 84 or 05 49 48 29 68.


with a friendly group of French and English speakers. Each Wednesday at 7.30pm at the Salle des Fêtes, Veluché 79600. Call Christian for more details: 05 49 63 04 78


Come and join us. Learn at your own pace within a mixed group of English and French speaking people, in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Every Thursday 8pm-9.30pm. Contact Penny 02 51 63 31 21 or Ray 02 51 61 28 69. 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Freemasonry In France There are English-speaking lodges here in France. One such lodge, based in Cognac, meets six times a year. If interested in joining, please contact David Brieger:

Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

Aims to improve the lives of people affected by Cancer in the Deux-Sèvres. Contact June Searchfield on 05 49 64 59 96 or visit THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION LINAZAY, POITOU-CHARENTES BRANCH

Please visit the branch website:

ThouarStMed’Arts - Association that aims to bring together people from the historic town of Thouars (Quartier Saint Médard) for a new development of artistic activity. Exhibitions, galleries, brocantes, creators, cultural events etc. Visit the website: RAFA provides direct, practical support, comradeship and friendship to all serving and former RAF personnel and their loved ones. Contact RAFA Sud-Ouest France email: or Tel Website Short URL:

Franglais at Bressuire

Why not come and practise your French with a friendly and convivial group of French and English speakers? Each Wednesday evening (8-10pm) at the Centre Socio-Culturel in Bressuire. Phone Jan for further details 05 49 65 60 34.


If so, join a group of like-minded friendly modellers who meet on a monthly basis to visit member’s layouts and swap information. If you are interested please contact Gerry Riley for more information on 05 49 63 34 01. The Jean David Art Group meets every Tuesday, 11am - 3pm at Fenioux (79). Jean’s classes cater for all media and all levels of students beginners most welcome! For details, please visit or phone Jean on 06 52 93 33 60. Melleran Chanteurs – Amateur singing group meeting every Monday 6.45pm in Melleran Salle des Fetes. French & English members, singing in many languages. New voices always welcomed, particularly tenor and bass. For more information contact Maggie Geal 05 49 07 11 69

Bridge Players Wanted

A small, friendly bridge group are looking for new players in the Parthenay area. We are friendly and informal and we are keen to welcome all levels of players. Contact Richard Knight via email or 05 49 69 18 65


A vibrant group based in Vasles (79340) offering quality theatre productions. New members always welcome. Contact, find us on Facebook or email:




by Eric Edwards


t will not have escaped your notice that 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, a catastrophe that would eventually determine the turbulent political history of the 20th century and an almost unrelenting state of war within Europe and the rest of the world in one theatre or another. WWI precipitated many other occurrences that would shape the map of the world in the coming century. The Russian revolution of 1917, the liberation of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire by the British in 1918 and the declaration of independence of many eastern European countries with the dissolution of the Austro Hungarian Empire in 1918 would be the cause of conflict, some of which continue to this day. Regardless of the political causes and consequences of war, our concern in the Royal British Legion is the cost in human suffering at a personal and family level. Many people of my generation will have memories of grandparents who were involved in WWI. If you have such memories and would like your story told here in the coming months, please contact me on the Branch website. To begin this series, I would like to air a theory that, generally speaking, those men who did come back from action in WWI were extremely reluctant to tell of their experiences. As a child, I spent a great deal of time with my maternal grandfather and knew him until he died when I was 21 years old. As I grew older in the 1950s, my awareness of war was far in advance of any pre-adolescent today and my curiosity demanded satisfaction but all I ever got from him were stories of barrack life in the Coldstream Guards and his RSM’s tangible dislike for him; he never once mentioned life in the trenches. Even when I became a Serviceman, he would not discuss his experiences in WW1 and it wasn’t until after he died, I wrote to the Brigade of Guards to identify a medal we found in a box along with his War and Victory medals. The response was a revelation; in addition to his Service Record showing that he had served at the front in France from 1916 - 1919 were two citations for, “Conspicuous gallantry” for the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal. I was the first person in the family to know of this, he hadn’t even told my grandmother, and I think his silence was probably a way of protecting us from the unimaginable conditions and horrors of combat in the trenches of The Great War. More than six million British Servicemen shared such hardships yet there appears to have been a general unwillingness to volunteer stories of their experiences. One wonders where these men found their courage and stoicism and if, faced with the same circumstances, we could rise to the occasion. Clubs & Associations Submission Guidelines Wordcount: Title of entry+ 40 words (max. incl contact details). Logos can be supplied and will be added if space allows.

Adverts meeting the above specifications can be added free of charge, and will be rotated on a monthly basis to allow


by Tim Fitzgerald

t’s nearly a month into 2018 (how did that happen?) and already the new year’s resolutions are wearing thin. ‘Dry January’ is starting to see a few little squalls punctuated by the odd downpour, ‘going for a run every day’ is being thwarted by real downpours and ‘cutting out chocolate’ is going to get started as soon as all the Christmas chocolate has been eaten (or until about Easter).

© Theatrivasles 2017

There is however one resolution you can still save… ‘I will go to more Theatre and moreover, renew/start my membership of TheatriVasles!’ It’s not one with a snappy title but it is very worthwhile. For just 10€ per year, you will be part of a growing and vibrant theatre group, kept up-to-date with what’s going on, given a free drink at every performance and be supporting the arts. What’s not to like? To join or to get involved, please do contact us at – we’d love to hear from you. So, it’s the new year and a chance to look ahead to our next production ‘Ladies Down Under’ by Amanda Whittington (in association with Nick Hern books). This is the follow up to ‘Ladies’ Day’, which we put on last spring. ‘Ladies’ Day’ introduced you to Jan, Pearl, Shelly and Linda; four fish packers from Hull who took a punt at Royal Ascot and won big. In the process they learned that there was a quite a lot they didn’t know about each other and just as much they didn’t know about themselves! ‘Ladies Down Under’ follows the next stage in their journey as they take their winnings on a trip of a lifetime. They are in for one great adventure, meeting some quite colourful and some very colourful characters along the way. We are delighted to announce the same casting for the four Ladies who are desperate to bring their characters to life once more, having done so to great acclaim last year. Performances are at 8pm on Friday 13th April and Saturday 14th April 2018. We can’t wait to see you then!

Visit or find us on Facebook

everyone to participate. To guarantee the advert is printed each month, a small fee of 54€ per annum will be requested. How to SUBMIT your entry: 1) Complete the short form on ‘Submit Article’ page of our website (under the ‘Content’ menu) or 2) Simply email the details to us: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 11

Hobbies Writer’s Resolutions? I think not!


by Alison Morton

o, I’m not making writing resolutions for 2018. Like those about dieting, they usually fall out of the window by the second month. In our heart of hearts, we know that in order to lose weight effectively and permanently we need an equally effective and permanent change in our eating habits.

What do we need to change about our writing habits? • •

• •

• •

Have your vision and write your story; do not let anybody put you off your project. Decide to write for at least half an hour each day. If you can write for an hour or two, even better. Don’t plunge into 9 to 5 immediately, every day. You’ll burn out, or suddenly become Bettina-No-Mates. Be kind to yourself. Writing is work as well as art. If you can’t think of what words to write next, just write anything. You can delete or edit it later. And you don’t need to be at your desk with serene music drifting across a sun-dappled patio. Try it in airport lounges, on trains, in hotel rooms or in the car. Use the ‘downtime’ of cooking, car-washing, gardening or feeding the hens to rehearse scenes in your head. Make heroic characters or complete slimeballs and every type in between – don’t be afraid to create as full a range of characters as you want to and as complex as you want. Not all police are alcoholic depressives, not all ordinary people are upright citizens and not all heroes/heroines are ‘on duty’ 24/7. Have confidence in creating your book’s world, whether beautiful or grim, but be logical and do your research. Little irritates readers more when facts are incorrect. The bonus is that you may become an expert in a new field! Buy a pocket notebook and jot things down as they occur to you, when you see something striking or overhear an interesting conversation. And love it when your work is a success – don’t do the overmodest reserved thing. A mumbled ‘thank you’ or ‘it was nothing’ is not gracious. Your friends, colleagues and even your relations want to celebrate with you. You’re slighting their praise and interest in your work if you brush them off.

Attitude… • • •

Be nice to other writers and exchange information and ideas freely with them, support them with promotion and cheer them up when they need it. Be polite to others in the writing and publishing field. Nobody is right or wrong – there are always options and the power to choose. Appreciate your readers, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and reviewers; they can take your book a long way. Be especially nice to anybody that takes the time and trouble to review your book. If you disagree with their review, DO NOT argue with them; it’s only one person, it’s a subjective opinion and word will get around, making you ‘untouchable’ by other reviewers and bloggers. Just move on. And use your experience to help newcomers. Remember how others helped you in your early days?

Happy writing! Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon. Her sixth novel, RETALIO is now out.

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to Beryl Brennan and Vronni Ward for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain As a change from Cornwell, Gerritsen, Grisham and Connolly, Diane Chamberlain has not worked in forensics or as a crime reporter but as a medical social worker. She is therefore well experienced in the complexities of human relationships – between sexes, families, communities. She writes in the style of Jodi Picoult, examining a modern day phenomenon – think Grenfell Tower – and how the characters deal with the aftermath. Through it all runs the mysterious Jen – who is she? Why does Andy think he’s seen her before? Why does Keith think he’s seen grey roots to her dark hair? Why has she never told Maggie she is Keith’s girlfriend? Why does she not talk of her past? Each chapter is a character in the story, written in the first person, giving the reader insight into their fears, desires, loves and lies. A compelling read.

by Beryl Brennan

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult I don’t say this lightly but THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ! Everyone should read this. Yes, I know, I love Jodi Picoult but she has surpassed herself in this novel. This book will never leave me. The story grabs you from the start. Ruth Jefferson is the widowed mother of one teenage son, Edison. She is a highly trained Midwife with more than twenty years experience. While doing a check-up on a new born baby, Ruth notices the mother and father glaring at her. She also notices a tattoo on the father’s arm. It’s a tattoo of a Confederate flag. Only a few minutes later, Ruth is told by her supervisor that she’s been reassigned and she’s not to touch the baby. She finds out that the parents are white supremacists and they don’t want, Ruth, who is African-American, anywhere near their baby. The next day at the hospital Ruth happens to be alone in the hospital nursery when the baby goes into cardiac distress. Ruth has no idea what to do. Does she obey the orders she’s been given? Or should she intervene to help the baby who’s clearly in need of help? This book is thought-provoking, completely riveting and humbling. I learnt so much about myself from this book. So many things come to the surface: racism, white privilege, the sad reality that sometimes hate has the power to colour someone’s entire world and the feeling of not belonging, anywhere, no matter how hard you work to prove yourself. by Vronni Ward


by James Luxford

It’s Oscar month, and here’s our take on a whole host of awards favourites! STRONGER (7th February) Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the real life story of Jeff Bauman, whose bravery during the Boston Bombings of 2013 made him a public figure and an unexpected hero. An unrelenting portrayal of the horrors people like Bauman have faced, the film also features a cast that encapsulate the kind of bravery that it takes to come back from such an event. The story falls into formula a few too many times, but as a tribute to real life heroism it’s a solid drama. LADY BIRD (18th February) A wonderful coming-of-age story from first time director Greta Gerwig. Saoirse Ronan is electric as Lady Bird, an eccentric young woman dealing with the end of high school, dating, and clashes with her mother (the equally excellent Laurie Metcalf). It’s not as showy as most awards films, which is what makes this story so engrossing. Thanks to superb performances and an amazing script, we’re treated to a story of teenage life that is both endearing and real.

Les Ami Solitaires


es Amis Solitaire (LAS) was formed around 2005 to provide contact and friendship for single people living on their own in France.

The group enables single people to meet together and enjoy the company of others. For anyone feeling lonely this could offer a whole new lease of life. Members gather for coffee every second and fourth Thursday of the month at The Lemon Tree, Sauzé Vaussais. These are always lively affairs, with plenty of banter and much laughter. No one gets ‘left out’, or made to feel on their own, new members are soon made to feel relaxed and part of the group.

THE SHAPE OF WATER (21st February) Surreal is probably an apt way to describe this new film from director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak). Sally Hawkins plays a mute janitor in a 1950’s government facility who falls for a mysterious creature (Doug Jones) being held by the authorities. It’s a strange premise, but one that makes for a sweeping, beautiful love story. Hawkins is sensational without saying a word, while the weird aesthetics make for an oddly traditional tale of finding someone who understands you. An offbeat classic.

Twice a month lunches are taken at local restaurants in and around the area and in the summer months several picnics and barbecues are organised and held in member’s gardens. These are well attended and allow the members to come together to enjoy lovely weather, delicious food and good company in a relaxed atmosphere.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (28th February) A front runner for many of the trophies this awards season, Call My Be Your Name more than lives up to the hype surrounding it. Set in the 1980’s, Timothee Chalamet plays an American teenager living in Italy for the summer with his family. His life changes when he meets his Oliver (Armie Hammer), a graduate student working with his father. The relationship that ensues makes for an entrancing tale of first loves, growing up, and almost inevitable heart break. The incredible Italian vistas are complimented by two stars at the top of their game, resulting in a dreamy, engrossing drama that will stay with you for a long time.

For the longer trips we often arrange a car share and donate a few euros to the driver.

Release dates are nationwide in France.

Also during the summer, visits are organised to places of interest. In the past, these have included a day trip to the flower show at St. Jean-Cole in the Dordogne, a visit to Cognac and a boat trip along the Charente, a visit to Coulon, the ‘Green Venice’ with a boat trip through the narrow man-made waterways, ten-pin bowling and a visit to Chauvigny to watch the Les Geants du Ciel.

If you would like to come along and meet us, please contact Gwen Shepherd on 05 17 34 10 23 or by email:

Are you a bit of a Bookworm?

FILMS IN ENGLISH.....look for screenings in ‘VO’ or ‘VOST’ Bressuire Le Fauteuil Rouge: CineChef, Chef-Boutonne: email: L’échiquier at Pouzauges: Melle cinema: Niort CGR cinema: Niort Moulin du Roc: Parthenay Cinema: and find others at

If you are an avid reader and would like to share your book reviews with us, we would love to publish them! Please send to us by email:

Reviews should be 150-200 words long.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 13

Our Furry Friends 52 207,20€ DONATED

Thanks to our wonderful team of innovative, dedicated and happy volunteers, our amazing customers and supporters, our humble little Rainbow Shop has grown! We are thrilled and proud to announce that up to now in our current financial year, The Rainbow Association Charity Shop has donated the grand sum of.......52,207.20€ to animals in need. That includes the trapping and sterilisation of many cats that ultimately were re-homed or released.  It’s an unbelievable result that we could not have achieved without you.  Many thanks to you all and here’s to a magnificent 2018!

Janet Allfree, President


STARCK is a two-year cross, weighing 15kg. He is a lovely dog who unfortunately, when we found him in the street, had been the target of some recent animal cruelty. We don’t know anything more about him or his past, but he does get along well with other dogs like him. He is waiting for one thing, to find his family for life, to be loved and pampered. So if you have a little room for him and want to show him that there is love and kindness, please come and meet him!


Born June 2017

Maximus was found abandoned as a young kitten along with his brother and sister. This affectionate and playful boy has now been in foster care for most of his life and deserves to find a very special home of his own. With his beautiful tabby markings and mesmerising eyes, that shouldn’t be too hard should it?

There is an adoption fee of 160€ which covers his ID, first vaccinations, castration, worm and tick treatments. ​ If you would like to know more or to meet Starck, please contact Caroline MORGAN by email: orfeeinenglish3@gmail. com or on: 06 16 32 11 80.

The Assocation Orfee Contact Caroline: 05 45 96 02 79 or by email: Visit the website:

We know that Maximus is fine to be living with other cats and, because of his loving nature and affectionate ways we think he would be fine to live with children of any age and possibly even dogs. As a Phoenix cat he has been vaccinated, microchipped, castrated and regularly treated for worms, fleas and ticks. In other words he is good to could it be to you? Maximus is in dept. 33 near Monsegur so if you would like to meet him or for further information please contact:Craig and Nadia Rea: or phone Jenny on: 05 53 89 59 35 / 07 81 27 86 51 ECOLE DU CHAT LIBRE DE POITIERS 1 Place de Fontevrault, 86000 POITIERS (answerphone) Facebook: ecole-du-chat-libre-de-Poitiers

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Hope Shop 79 have MOVED! th OPENING Tuesday 6 February at 8 rue d’aunis, 79120 Saint Soline

Health, Beauty & Fitness These diseases are the heat in the body that has nowhere to go. Normally the heat would be grounded into the earth… There was a book published in 2014 by a chap called Clinton Ober and Dr Stephen T. Sinatra. It is called ‘Earthing’. Dr Sinatra is a cardiologist with forty years experience in treating, preventing and reversing heart disease. These men have proved scientifically that the earth’s energy has a significant effect on our health. We have lost our electrical roots, the earth serves as our primordial antiinflammatory protection.

by Pamela Irving

Why our Feet are so Important and why we need to Reconnect to the Earth


nce upon a time, our feet were very happy. They were bare and they walked on the grass, the soil and the sand. They wrapped themselves around rocks and were very pliable, much like our hands. We covered them in animal skin and walked in our moccasins, they loved that. When we had bare feet we did not fall over much because our feet were ‘magnetised’ to the earth. If you look at the foot map, each part of the foot corresponds with each part of the body, the nerve endings in our feet are directly linked to our nervous system which begins in our spine.

If you want to know more you can find many lectures by Clinton Ober and Dr Sinatra on YouTube about earthing or grounding. I have a link on my website ( called ‘Groundology’ where you are able to buy a bracelet that allows you to connect to the arth while you are in the house. This is a really good idea if you use a computer a lot or watch television often. As we are facing an electrical device we are taking in radiation and bringing unnecessary heat into the body. In the summer, go out on the grass, walk in the sea and you will find that you have more energy and are healthier. It only takes 40 minutes a day to keep the feet so very, very happy! On a lighter note, if you drum with an animal skin, you also connect to the earth this way too…thus my drum circles. In the spring I intend to hold small ‘Introduction to Reflexology’ workshops at my home in Chanteloup (dept 79). If you wish to be put on my list of participants please get in touch by email: Happy reconnecting! Pamela x

The sun is a positive force upon our body and the earth is a negative force on our body. The heart is an electrical organ. The forces of positive and negative are the forces that make our heart start up our engines and move as a life force in physical motion. We are given our battery power by the earth and the sun.. Over 50 years ago we decided to put our feet in shoes that had plastic on the bottom. This was something that made the feet very unhappy, they no longer had a bountiful supply of negative energy coming through the foot as in the past. The earth has a ‘cooling’ effect on our body (yin) and the sun warms our body (yang). Since the feet were given plastic shoes we are finding that more and more of us are walking with a stick, we are tired, and we are having inFLAMmatory (Flame-clue is in the word) diseases such as heart disease, cancer, alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Fitness Clubs: Line Dancing

Want some gentle exercise? Want to keep your mind active? Come along and try out our line dance classes held at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux every Friday evening 6pm-7.30pm. Beginners welcome. For more info contact

Pure Fitness Exercise to music classes - every Wednesday 7pm-8pm Salle des Fêtes, L’Absie 79240 For more info contact


Facebook group ‘British Cyclists in France (BCIF)’ is an online group for British cyclists to share information, events, ask advice and post photos etc. Why not join, make contacts and arrange rides with other local cyclists?


Interested in playing walking football around the Dampierre sur Boutonne area? We really need more players of any level (and age) to join us for fun, competition and above all, the health benefits! Call Ted Sellwood on or email

We are a netball team in Vasles (79340). We meet every Monday 6-7pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles for training with our qualified English coach. It’s fun and a great way to keep fit, so come along or contact:

Tai Chi in Bressuire and Le Breuil Barret

Each Tuesday evening (7pm-9pm) at the Centre SocioCulturel in Bressuire. Each Friday afternoon (3pm-4.30pm) at the Salle Communale in Le Breuil Barret. Simply turn up in loose, comfortable clothing and flat soled footwear. Phone Terry on 05 49 65 60 34 or visit: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 15

Home & Garden



16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

ARE YOU A BUSINESS BASED IN NORTH DEUX-SEVRES? Readers are looking for tradespeople in this area... Please get in touch if you’d like to place an advert.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 17

Love your

garden by Greenfingers


very happy new year to everyone and enjoyable gardening throughout 2018.

After a cold, windy and very wet Christmas, it’s a joy to see buds beginning to form on the hydrangeas, the clematis and the shrubs, reassuring us that growth is reasserting itself in the garden and spring must be on its way! The frosts of November and December will have provided a ‘proper’ period of dormancy for perennials and fruit trees, and they will usually produce more fruit and flowers as a result. I have found that following our past, more usual very mild autumn and winters, that the peach, quince and pear trees have produced fewer fruits, whereas the frosty autumn of 2016 was followed by an abundant harvest. If you have used voile to protect plants, leave it in place until the danger of frost has passed. It’s a pity to see lovely new buds being scorched by an unexpected cold spell…particularly on camellias. Green spikes of green are evident on the daffodils and irises and I’m hoping to see shoots appearing on the erythroniums (Dog tooth violets) that I planted earlier. The cyclamen have been producing blooms all winter long and are gradually going to seed; the seedheads curve down towards the soil, almost planting themselves. Hellebores are very reliable in flower beds and pots, and most varieties readily set seed; trim off any old, tatty and diseased foliage to keep them looking tidy. They make a good display alongside heathers, irises, wall flowers and pansies. If you have received an amaryllis, (Hippeastrum) bulb for Christmas, rehydrate the roots (not the whole bulb) for 24 hours before potting up. Fill a pot with compost, sit the bulb on the top and water well; the bulb will pull itself down into the compost naturally. After flowering, if you want it to flower again next year, the bulb will need a period of cold for three or four weeks from the end of summer to early autumn. Placing the potted bulb outside for this time will be enough. Trim off all old flower stems, but

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

allow the leaves and the bulb to dry off, then replant in fresh moist compost, bringing the pot indoors before the first frosts.

Now is the time to:

Remove all dead stems and leaves from around perennials. At the same time, apply granulated fertilizer to the beds to give plants a good kick start to growing. Spread a layer of new compost on the top to aid soil structure and prevent compaction. Divide congested clumps of perennials by digging up the whole plant and, using a spade, cutting it into smaller pieces, each piece making a new plant which should be put into the ground or a pot as soon as possible. When camellias have finished flowering, remove the old, brown blooms and mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and promote next years flowers. Prune late flowering clematis at the end of the month. These include, clematis viticella, clematis texensis and clematis tangutica. Use secateurs to cut each stem at the base, about 30 cms above the ground, just above a pair of buds, these will become this years flowering shoots and the plant will produce more blooms as a result. If the clematis has lots of stems, cut back to different heights so that the plant will spread out further. Prune mahonia once it has finished flowering by removing spent flower stems at their bases; overlong shoots can also be trimmed back now. Prune roses to promote strong healthy young flowering stems and remove any suckers at ground level. Apple and pear trees, and gooseberry, redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes can all be pruned now too. Cut ornamental grasses right back to their base as it becomes too difficult to separate new growth from old later on. Trim off dead fronds from ferns to make way for the fresh growth that will unfurl in the spring. Spread mulch around the crowns but do not smother…this helps to keep moisture in the soil. Trim old leaves from epimediums to reveal the flowers beneath.

Trim back side shoots of wisteria and campsis to two or three buds. Sweet peas can be sown in tall pots in the greenhouse or in a cold frame. Trim back the foliage on those previously sown in the autumn. Hardy annuals can be sown under cover now and dormant begonia tubers can be placed in trays of potting compost to start into growth. The knobbly part of the begonia is the top…some pink shoots may already be visible, and the flat part should be touching the compost. Buy seed potatoes as soon as possible. Chit the tubers by placing them ‘eye’ end up in seed trays or eggs boxes and leaving them in a cool dry place. The ‘eye’ is like a small dent in the potato…..there may be several of them. Cover the crown of rhubarb with a bucket or a large pot and early sweeter stems will be produced. Broad beans, onions, garlic, cabbage and leeks can be sown under cover and lemon trees in pots can be repotted now or be mulched with new compost in their old pots. Hang net bags containing eggshells in peach, apricot and nectarine trees to deter peach leaf curl, (it does work!) Hedge plants, shrubs, trees and roses can continue to be planted now; bare root plants should be soaked before planting. Weed flower beds and mulch well to deter weed regrowth. Put up nesting boxes for birds and continue providing food sources for them; the supermarkets have quite a good range now.

Whatever you do this month in the garden, enjoy the slightly longer light levels, the fresh air and the knowledge that real spring warmth will soon be with us.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 19

Communications Mobile Telephone Speeds, Reception and the Internet by Ross Hendry

Where would we be without mobile telephone technology and where will it take us in the future?


he truth is that since the 1980s when the analogue mobile telephones were launched, this first generation (1G), provided us with voice only communications. The maximum speed of 1G was 2.4 Kbps - remember no data or text, just voice communications.

In Finland in 1991, 2G was launched; this second generation using GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) took the network from analogue to digital. It introduced call and text encryption and added limited data services such as SMS and picture messaging and MMS. This improved the data rates to 56 - 114 kbps. Before the 3G networks were introduced in 1998, 2G evolved with new more efficient packet switching called 2.5G and 2.75G, followed tripling the capacity. The third generation (3G) gave us far faster data speeds enabling practical video calling and the mobile internet. The maximum speed of 3G is approx 2 Mbps for non-moving devices and 384 Kbps for moving ones. High Speed Packet Access improved on the packet switching of 2G and as it evolved it was possible to achieve data rates of 42 Mbps. 4G, the fourth generation evolution of the mobile telephone network, our Current Standard (released in 2008) permits us to have quite practical mobile internet services, HD mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D TV and interactive gaming services. The maximum speed for 4G is 1 Gbps for stationary or walking speeds or 100 Mbps for moving devices. 5G, the fifth generation, is under development and is expected to be launched in Europe in 2020. Not too much is known about the standards as yet and different suppliers in different countries will have different solutions to providing the blisteringly fast speeds that will be necessary. The bare minimum speed requirements for 5G – Download 20 Gbps (2.5 GBps); Upload 10 Gbps (1,25 GBps), incredibly fast, practical speeds will be more like Download 100 Mbps (12.5 MBps) and Upload 50 Mbps (6.25 MBps). The implications of this are staggering because the speeds being delivered by the airways are faster than possible for many rural clients using their fixed line telephone to receive the internet. Then there are those who are so far from a telephone exchange

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

that they have to resort to satellite or microwave communications to receive their internet services. I believe that it is now practical to have internet via the mobile telephone network if you have a good mobile telephone signal. Furthermore it is looking less expensive than a fixed line service. I know that in the countryside there are many customers that do not have good mobile telephone signals. This is usually because of their geography, they are in a dip or shadow as far as the mobile telephone signal is concerned and so cannot reliably receive a strong signal. I am pleased to say that the cost of improving your mobile telephone service has dropped quite considerably of late. It is practical to buy a mobile telephone booster kit from £50.00. Mobile telephone boosters amplify the signals sent and received by placing an aerial on top of your home that captures a weak signal and transfers this to an amplifier that boosts the signal; this is then broadcast around your property from another aerial placed centrally in your home. Once set-up it is normal for mobile users to experience maximum signal strength to the cellular network. The systems are relatively easy to fit and assuming that you are able to access a practical place on the roof of your home to capture the local, albeit weak signal, (perhaps attaching it to your existing TV aerial or satellite dish support) and should not take more than 30 minutes to install. Using the systems should be no different to using your mobile telephone anywhere else. So where can you find these systems? Use Google to search for ‘mobile telephone signal booster’ or ‘cell phone signal booster/ amplifier’. My advice is to get a professional to install the system for you as they can advise you of any legal issues. In the UK, OFcom warn users that using an unlicensed signal amplifier could be illegal and fines can be considerable. There are many suppliers available online and prices start at around 60€. I have customers that enjoy improved mobile signals in their home and have spent the £50 and others that have spent over £250. Finally, to see if you have 3G or 4G available in your area, there are four main suppliers in France: Bouygues,, Orange and SFR. You can do a fairly good search using this website:

I do hope this has been helpful and that you are able to find what you need from your internet searches. I am confident that your communications/IT support individual will be able to advise you. Give them a ring and have much improved mobile telephone communications around your home from now on. 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).

Annual Subscription Costs: 34€ within France, 29€ 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.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 21

Where We Live...

A land fit for gian


This is a soft, triple-cream, pasteurised cow’s milk cheese that is produced all year round as an industriel cheese in the Normandy and Burgundy regions of France and is at its very best between April and October. It was first created in 1890 by the Dubec family, near Forgesles-Eaux, Seine-Maritime, under the names Excelsior or Délice des Gourmets. Cheese-maker Henri Androuët renamed it Brillat-Savarin in the 1930s as an homage to the renowned French gourmet and food writer Jean-Antheime Brillat-Savarin. Brillat-Savarin is often considered the father of low-carbohydrate diet as he considered sugar and white flour to cause obesity and suggested protein-rich ingredients instead and recommended the consumption of cheese at every meal. He was once quoted as saying: “A meal without cheese – it’s like a beautiful girl who misses an eye.” Triple-crème and double-crème cheeses are popular because of their subtle, creamy flavour and are made by adding cream to the milk during production. Triple-crème has a minimum fat content of 75%, whereas double-crème contains between 60-74% fat. Since these kind of cheeses don’t have any particularly strong flavours, they are often used in the production of other cheeses, like Trois-Epis (covered with cumin seeds), Cannelle (Cinnamon), Gargantua à la feuille de sauge (sage leaves) and Soleil (covered with raisins and sultanas). Uncooked and unpressed, Brillat-Savarin generally doesn’t have a rind, or if it does it’s just a soft one of white mould. The inside is soft and sweet with perhaps a little sourness and any smell is quite faint, possibly of mushrooms. It tastes like a heavenly mixture of butter and stiffly whipped cream, quite similar to clotted cream. It has been described as “Dairylea for grown-ups” and “what Dairylea tastes like in heaven.” Sinfully rich! It comes in the form of a flat disc about 13cms in diameter and around 4cms thick, weighing around 500gms and it is aged for between three and five weeks. Any longer than that and it starts to develop a more pronounced taste of butter, salt and cream with those hints of mushroom, truffles and nuts and some orange marks can appear on the crust. It is also available as a fresh (non-affiné) cheese that resembles a rich cream cheese. Brillat-Savarin is a real all-rounder. Excellent as part of a cheeseboard, or in pieces as a salad garnish, it also makes a great dessert served with fresh fruit like strawberries and peaches. It’s also quite yummy in a crusty baguette. It pairs equally well with champagne, a red St Emilion, light and fruity white wines or even a pale ale. © wiki commons/BastienM

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018



Tony Verhulst & Sofie Goetghebeur

A ban on keeping elephants in circuses is currently sweeping through Europe where, at the last count, there are more than 100 of the gentle giants. Relocating those elephants back to their country of origin is not always a realistic option, but creating a safe haven for them is. However, there has not been a sanctuary for elephants in Europe... until now.


here are countless reasons why someone might decide to start a new life in France, but one of the most unusual has got be be through a love of elephants. For Belgian couple Tony Verhulst and Sofie Goetghebeur it has long been an ambition to create a retirement home for elephants in Europe. On May 26, 2016, their dream became a reality. That was the day they completed the sale of almost 29 hectares (72 acres) of land in St Nicolas Courbefy, Bussière Galant, in the Limousin. It sits right on the edge of the Parc Naturel Régional Perigord Limousin and they have the possibility to acquire even more land in the future. Now, as 2018 gets under way, they are ever-closer to giving their first elephants a place in which to enjoy their old age. “We had a vision of creating a haven for elephants to retire and to help the resocialisation and rehabilitation of captive-kept elephants while also providing

by Mick Austin


Photos; main: Tony with Jarunee in Thailand, 2011; above: Tony and Sofie at the Elephant Haven, Limousin 2016 © Tony Verhulst information and research into their complex needs and behaviours,” says Tony. “We are passionate about all animals and nature and we want to share that passion. We are devoted to providing a place for elephants to enjoy their old age. “Sofie and I each have more than 20 years experience working in Belgian zoos – where we met each other – and where we also did a lot of worldwide networking. I started working at the Antwerp zoo in 1993 and began caring for elephants full-time in 2001. I also have international experience with elephants through my work in Thailand, where I worked for three months as a mahout with a blind elephant. I’ve also worked in the UK and the Netherlands. Sofie also started at the zoo in Antwerp in 1993 and has experience in the care of birds, small monkeys, okapi, marine mammals, gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees coming from an animal centre and, of course, elephants.” When the couple first realised there was no sanctuary for elephants in Europe, they decided to try and do something about it. “We talked to colleagues, friends, lawyers, accountants and visited sanctuaries in the USA and Thailand before deciding to start up EHEES {Elephant Haven, European Elephant Sanctuary} in 2012,” says Tony. “It began as a non-profit organisation in Belgium and we launched our plans for the haven at the PAWS summit {Performing Animal Welfare Society, a sanctuary for elephants, bears and tigers} in California in April 2012.” The couple made a ‘wish list’ of what elephants need and like and started to look for suitable land in Belgium. But they soon realised there was very little land available, or what there was turned out to be far too expensive. So they started looking for other destinations for Elephant Haven and France came up in their searches every time. “But France is big, so we had to give it some serious thought,” says Sofie. “What’s important for the elephants? Water, edible trees and trees for shade, hay etc, etc. So that ruled out the likes of the Pyrenees, Normandy, Vosges and the Alps. The more you go south the drier it is, there are less edible trees like olive and pine and less water. So not

the Côte d’Azur... Elephants drink around 100-150 litres of water and eat around 100kg of food a day. Most of it is hay, or in summer fresh grass and branches. Only 10% of their diet is fruit or vegetables.” After three years of networking and searching for land – including regular visits to France from Belgium – they found what they were looking for in the Limousin. ”It is amazing,” says Sofie. “A great place for elephants. There’s lots of space, lots of water, hay and very good edible trees like willow, chestnut and birch.” It was then decision time. Either they stay at their jobs at the zoo or quit everything and leave Belgium. “For me it was not an easy decision to leave my elephants, who I had been taking care of for more than 15 years,” says Tony, “or for Sofie to leave her beloved chimps and okapis. But it was the right decision. Elephants in Europe needed a sanctuary!” They left their jobs, family and friends in Belgium, packed their trunks and moved to France in September 2014. “France got to know the project and we got to know France,” says Tony. “This is not an easy place to start a project. The administration is complicated and takes time. But, understandably, this is a big adventure for France because there is no similar project here or anywhere else in Europe. “There was lots of interest when people found out about Elephant Haven. We met people who gave us great advice and other people who thought it was a stupid idea and that we were both crazy. We also had people who said the whole project was a con. “Fortunately, we have had so much support from family, friends, colleagues and neighbours we have met over the years. Everyone helps with the project now. Elephant Haven can advance bit by bit. Everyone wants to see that first elephant here as soon as possible.” After three years of administrative work with the French government, including both Tony and Sofie having to pass various exams, they finally received the news they had been waiting so long for – the ‘autorisation d’ouverture’ to allow them to receive the first The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 23

...A look at what makes France so special

three elephants. Then began the start of phase one of the project, a barn for a maximum of three elephants with four-hectares (10 acres) of outside enclosure. That barn is a conversion from an existing open stable and it has to be closed and insulated. It needs windows and doors, ventilation and heating, a care-givers area with a toilet, kitchen and dressing room and an inside structure suitable for elephants. There will be sandboxes (where the elephants can sleep on a soft surface against a pile of sand so the ‘elderly ladies’ can get up more more easily) and a corridor that will connect all the boxes. That will be needed whenever a new elephant is introduced. Thanks to help from supporters, businesses and organisations worldwide, they have started putting up the first four hectares of elephant fence around the adjacent paddock. If things go to plan, this year should see the first elephants begin their retirement at St Nicolas Courbefy. “Elephant Haven wants to help as many elephants as we can, with the best possible care and conditions,” says Tony. “Our focus will be on elephants from circuses, but we will also be open to those in zoos if a zoo was to close or run out of space.” Tony and Sofie have to get approval to receive human visitors and for them a walking path and lookout platform will be built so the elephants are never disturbed. Then begins construction of a second barn for five elephants, an education centre where adults and children can learn more about elephants and the sanctuary and a multipurpose area that could be rented out for workshops. Different elephant living quarters will be built to take into account that Asian and African elephants may need to be kept separate. Asian and African elephants live separate lives, of course, but if, for example, an Asian and an African elephant have been living together for years and have formed a bond, Elephant Haven would most likely choose not to interfere and allow the animals to continue their lives together. “We can’t do everything ourselves, of course,” says Sofie. “Many volunteers are helping with translations, working in the field, cleaning up the land, helping in the vegetable garden which will supplement the elephant’s diet. Even in the cold and rain of winter, people are coming to help. What a blessing to have the support of all those kind people. They are the building stones of this massive project.”

Photo top: the vast landscape that will become the elephants’ home; left top to bottom: Tony and Sofie starting work on the fencing; working with volunteers at the Elephant Haven © Tony Verhulst

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

by Mick Austin

On this month February 5, 1878: Andre Citroen – later referred to as the Henry Ford of France for developing his country’s first massproduced automobiles – is born in Paris. Citroen revolutionised the European auto industry by making vehicles that were affordable to the masses. February 9, 1942: The ocean liner SS Normandie catches fire and sinks in New York harbour during its conversion to an Allied troop ship. Built in France in the early 1930s and regarded by many as the most elegant ocean liner ever, it was the first major liner to cross the Atlantic in less than four days. After the American entry to Word War Two, it was commandeered for the war effort and renamed the USS Lafayette. Just days before it was due to go into service, a welder accidentally set fire to a pile of lifejackets. On-board fire systems had been disabled during the ship’s conversion and the New York Fire Department’s hoses wouldn’t fit the ship’s French fittings. It was later towed to New Jersey and scrapped.

Want to help? Elephant Haven is a non-profit organisation that depends on donations and sponsorships. Add up things like food, water, medicines, barn heating and care-keeper costs and the bill can be between €50,000 and €100,000 per year to look after just one elephant. Equally as important as cash are the volunteers. While they will have no direct contact with the elephants, there are plenty of other jobs that need doing: administration concerning animal, staff and financial issues, working in the vegetable garden, general maintenance, communication, fund-raising etc. If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation, email or visit www. Elephant Haven is not able to receive unannounced visitors. {Elephant Haven is a non-profit association of public interest and issues tax receipts. Elephant Haven est une association 1901 reconnue d’intérêt général, et délivre des reçus fiscaux.}

Do you have an interesting story to share? We’d love to know more... please feel free to contact us with a brief outline of your French Adventure.

Lafayette (AP-53) after catching fire at New York harbor, 1942

February 3, 1953: French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau publishes his most famous and lasting work, The Silent World. Explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, scientist, author... his list of achievements is legendary. Scores of TV documentaries – many aboard his famous ship Calypso – made him a household name. In 1943, with the help of engineer Emile Gagnan, Cousteau designed the aqua-lung, the world’s first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba). Cousteau died in 1997.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau 1972

© wikicommons/Peters,Hans,Anefo.

February 10, 1970: An avalanche crashes down on the ski resort of Val d’Isere, killing 42 people, mostly young skiers. Thirty-nine people inside an hotel lost their lives as snow crashed through the large windows, giving them little time to escape. Outside, the snow – 100 metres deep in some places – pushed cars off the road and blocked access to the hotel. French President Georges Pompidou declared it a national tragedy and authorities ordered evacuations of other resorts in the area. It proved a wise move as other avalanches followed and the same Val d’Isere hotel was hit again two days later.

Mick Austin is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Paysde-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 runs a gite business at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 25

Food & Drink Down in the Dumps


it moody? Nearer 1 than 10 on a scale of 1 to 10? Well, it is February after all and you have failed on all those ridiculous NY resolutions haven’t you? You haven’t? Don’t believe you. Sorry, didn’t mean to be harsh, just take a seat, relax. What’s that? I can’t hear you through the blubbering. Oh yes, I understand. Quite normal to have a cheeky Marlboro when your Nicorette runs out, and hang-gliding was never really going to be your thing, was it? Let’s start all over again with a February resolution. Has to be something simple and doable. Hmm, why not have a wine-tasting session with your mates? Not, I emphasise, a wine-glugging session, but a wine-tasting event when you will all evaluate and discuss a range of wines. How? OK, here’s how. First consider the environment (and I’m not talking recyclage): the setting should be neither too light nor too sombre, the better to evaluate the colour of the wine. The number of participants should be no more than ten. If you don’t have ten mates there are websites that can help. You’ll need a long table with a white tablecloth. Vessels to spit into (you are tasting, not glugging) – champagne bucket type things are fine. Nibbles, if you really think necessary, should be confined to almost-stale cubes of white bread. Glasses should be narrower at the top than at the bottom – call them fluted if you must. Bottles of water so you can rinse both mouth and glass, expelling into the spittoons. Volvic is best – and no, I’m not joking, and yes, other brands are available – as most neutral in taste. What to taste? Please avoid the ‘bring a bottle’ approach. This risks a host of disparate wines where comparison becomes meaningless, and the tasters kick around like adolescents at a railway station. Far better for you, as host, to buy a range of wines (with financial contributions from participants). This range should provide you with a ‘theme’, and the possibilities are pretty much infinite. Choose from wine types (dry white, fruity red, sweet etc etc), grape variety (chardonnay vs chenin vs riesling etc), region (Bordeaux, Burgundy etc etc etc) – whatever, but keep a theme. Wines that can be meaningfully compared and contrasted. Seven or so, no more than ten.

by John Sherwin

Wines should be served at the right temperature. This is not nitpicking pedantry: I would go so far as to say it will make or break the evening. Whites served too cold will be dumb (ie aromas and flavours will be largely absent) and reds served too warm will be flabby (ie aromas and flavours will be too disperse). Around 12 – 13C for whites, 15 – 16C for reds. A wine thermometer might seem a step too far, but it does help. The tasting process itself has three phases – eyes, nose and mouth. Tilt the glass away from you and look at the colour against a white background (hence the white tablecloth). At this point you’re looking for a clear liquid with no cloudiness. Think how you would describe the colour. Admire the colour – this is an aesthetic exercise after all, and it took Nature and men a lot of time and effort to put it there. Then swirl the glass to aerate the wine (think of releasing lots of merry molecules) and take a good sniff – not with your nose hovering above the glass, but right in. Are you smelling fruits, flowers, undergrowth, leather, tobacco? Taste – take a good mouthful and work it around your mouth. Notice how your senses of smell and taste are now working together (taste itself will only give you the sensations of sweetness and/or acidity and/or bitterness – saltiness too, but this is rarely if ever present in wine). This whole process should be done silently, with concentration – you’re not necking lager at the rugby club. What food might it match? Spit or swallow. And what now? Up to this point you have been using primeval, feral senses – the ones that your ancestors used to save their lives or to smell out and hunt for food. Fast forward a few millennia and lo! we have language. Now the intellect comes into play. Words can be as tricky to track down as the critters our prehistoric brothers pursued. Don’t forget, you’re in good company. Try and come up with your own shared vocabulary. No need to bother with the airy-fairy language you see in the ‘lifestyle’ sections of newspapers, but on the other hand don’t leave it at ‘that’s nice’ or ‘oh, I don’t like that’. Why is it nice? Why don’t you like it? When you have to start a sentence with ‘because’, then other, more interesting words will come. If you think this ability to assess and describe is a function of education, think again. My best mate, Benoit, has the finest palate I know. Many a time we have cracked open a bottle over a simple meal and discussed for hours (literally) its merits and demerits. He’s retired now but has a part-time job down the déchetterie, the local dump. And he’s a happy man.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or 26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018



by Jacqueline Brown

seem to have only one thing on my mind at the moment, and it’s not a particularly healthy thing at a time when most people are making and sticking to New Year resolutions; it’s cake. Everywhere I turn cake seems to be there, taunting me to eat it, but then the beginning of the French year is full of cake-eating customs, so I have decided to embrace them. The opening of our village café has given us the perfect opportunity to sit with our French friends, and alongside improving our language skills we are sharing with each other our customs and traditions too. As many of these involve food, I think it’s one of my favourite things about life in France. Having shared shortbread and mince pies before Christmas, the French were curious about our Christmas cake, so in January one was duly procured, talked about and tasted. We got the French to feel the weight of it first, which produced lots of raised eyebrows and exclamations of ‘what is in it?’ This led us to explain our three-tier wedding cake and the tradition of keeping a tier for a christening cake, and the assurance of its longevity. I think they thought we were all a bit fruit cake at this point, but they valiantly tried it and exclaimed it to be very good – in small, Frenchsized portions, bien sûr. No sooner had we wiped up the cake crumbs, conversation had moved on to the galette des rois, the French cake eaten in January around the Epiphany. This can be either a brioche crown decorated with glacé fruit jewels or a puff pastry tart filled with frangipane, but always contains a porcelain figurine hidden inside. The finder of this fève gets to wear the golden crown and be king for a day. There was much discussion (heated debate) as to whether the brioche galette is better than the frangipane one, but no conclusion was reached and I’m certainly happy to eat them both. It is common to serve the galette des rois with a glass of cider. Coincidently, another local French speciality cake that is also served with cider, and is traditionally eaten for celebrations and events including weddings, christenings and retirements, is the Torteau Fromager, a baked cheesecake made in the Lezay area of south Deux-Sèvres. I was lucky enough to take a tour around the patisserie Baubeau where the tourteaux are made, and as part of the visit tasting slices were offered and enjoyed. It is an unusual looking cake that rises to a blackened dome when it cooks, thanks to the egg whites that are beaten before being folded into the batter, by hand. I’d be interested to know if any of you in the north of the Deux-Sèvres have eaten it as we were told they no longer make the trip to the Parthenay market, as sales just weren’t good enough in those foreign parts to warrant travelling the distance. It really is French regional speciality at it’s best. Email: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 27

The Frugal French Pantry Fantastic food on a budget...


by Amanda Wren-Grimwood

s the weather in February is still cold, what is better than warming yourself up with a delicious potato dish. Full of vitamins and minerals and fat free, the humble spud is a great frugal food. Here are four easy recipes that can be adapted for vegetarians and can easily be main meals with the addition of salad or vegetables.

Baked Eggs in Potatoes with Bacon

Cheese & Onion Potato Cakes

Quick Parmentier Potatoes

Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes

This dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Make it vegetarian by adding a few fried mushrooms or peppers instead of the lardons.

These are perfect for using leftover potatoes. Make it a bubble and squeak cake by adding leftover veg too.

No peeling - just a quick side dish that is delicious all year round.

Potatoes with their insides removed and mixed with meat or veg to make a complete meal.

Ingredients for 4:

Ingredients for 4:

Ingredients for 4:

Ingredients for 4:

• • •

• • • • • •

2 baking potatoes about 250 g each 4 small eggs 100 g smoked bacon lardons 2 tbsp grated cheese seasoning 2 tbsp oil

• • • • • • • •

350 g cooked, cold potato 1/2 onion, chopped 1 clove of garlic, crushed 100 g grated cheese such as Cheddar 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1 egg 1 tbsp of oil for frying

4 medium potatoes, cut into 2 cm cubes 2 sliced onions 2 crushed cloves of garlic Sprig of rosemary or other fresh or dried herbs Oil for frying

• • • • • • • • •

Instructions: 1.



4. 5.

Fork the potatoes all over and brush with the oil then bake at 200˚C for 40 minutes to 1 hour until soft. Slice in half length-ways and scrape out most of the insides for later use (freeze for use in Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes. Fry the lardons over a medium heat in their own fat and then drain on kitchen paper. Divide the bacon between the potato shells and crack in an egg to each. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake at 180˚C for about 10 minutes until the eggs are set.

Instructions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


Fry the onion in a little oil until softened and add the garlic for a minute. Combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Use an 8cm pastry cutter to make four cakes. Chill on greaseproof paper for 30 mins, if possible, to firm up. Fry the cakes in the remaining oil for a few minutes on one side. Carefully turn for a few more minutes. When the potatoes are almost ready, add in the onion mixture to warm through.

Amanda lives in La Chapelle St Etienne and is the writer behind the food blog where she posts new recipes weekly.

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Instructions: 1.

2. 3.


5. 6.

Put chopped potatoes in a microwavable bowl and add boiling water from the kettle. Cook in the microwave for 10 minutes on full power until tender. While the potatoes are cooking heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until golden. Add the garlic and fry for a minute and then transfer the onion mixture to a bowl. Add more oil, heat and then add the drained potatoes. Turn the potatoes until coloured, adding chopped rosemary.

4 baking potatoes 1 tbsp oil 1 chopped onion 2 crushed cloves of garlic 4 tbsp creme fraiche 200 g smoked bacon lardons 100 g grated cheese and 50 g for garnish (I used Emmental) 2 tbsp chopped chives and 2 tbsp for garnish Seasoning

Instructions: 1. 2.



5. 6.

Prick the potatoes and cook in the microwave for 15 minutes turning once. Heat the oven to 200 C and brush the potatoes with oil before baking for 15 minutes. Make the filling by frying the bacon and onions together then add the garlic for 1 minute. Split the potatoes and scrape out most of the filling then combine with the onion, garlic, bacon, cheese and creme fraiche. Season as required then fill the potato shells on an oven tray. Top with the extra cheese and chives and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.

French Life by Sue Burgess


n Monday 11th December 2017, I attended the Information meeting in Civray concerning Brexit. The meeting, organised by the British Embassy Paris was led by Minister and Ambassador of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to UNESCO, Matthew Lodge, and his colleagues, Pamela Degan and Emily Farrow. Firstly, Mr Lodge introduced himself and started the meeting by giving a brief history of Brexit and then spoke mostly about items covered in the joint paper recently issued. I thought Mr Lodge gave the impression of being interested and honest - although restricted by the framework of what is and what is not agreed by Theresa May and the EU. He said that trust was important and reiterated that it was the Government’s role to “make the best” of the referendum results and for the Embassy and the Civil Services to implement the Government’s objectives. He continued to add that the Labour Party would not ask to reverse the decision even if elected, and that Brexit is going to happen. The 15 page document representing the Prime Minister’s agreement with the EU (the document mentioned above) explained things. He implied that it was easy to understand the progress that has been made despite Emily Thornbury (Labour) saying that she did not understand it on ‘Politics Today’. He also said that the role of the press is to ‘inform and influence’ but that often they only do the latter, which I took to be a warning to be careful of what we believe and to be sure of our sources. Residency For those of us legally resident here at present and up to the day of Brexit (29/03/19), Mr Lodge confirmed that we will retain our personal rights (there are still one or two things that need some negotiation). This will definitely include health cover for all of us whether we rely on S1 or not. Pension rights are confirmed too, as are incremental rises. For those currently working in France and paying into the French system, they will of course also have rights under that system. Regarding applications for French Nationality, Mr Lodge would not advise it - although this was purely on the grounds that it would not be something that an Embassy official would advocate anyway. He said taking French Nationality was a personal choice and decision. France and UK accept double nationality so there is no need to give up your UK passport if you become French (contrary to in Spain where ex-pats taking Spanish nationality will have to choose). Following on from the joint paper issued Friday 8th December, it should not be necessary for anyone to go down the nationality road as we should all have our existing rights safeguarded. People might want to take nationality in order to safeguard their jobs / careers or to safeguard voting rights in France after Brexit. Anyone in France who takes nationality would not have any problem relocating to the UK later as one can retain their British nationality and therefore the right to live in the UK. Carte de Séjour (CdS) Mr Lodge said that application for a carte de séjour is also a personal choice as they are not required at present - but having one in the future would provide easy evidence of status and legal position before Brexit. The 5 year residency rule does not apply for CdS. You can apply before you have been here 5 years. He said the Embassy did not have a streamlined system in place or a help page in English on how to go about obtaining the CdS, but thought it would be a good idea to set one up. However, he also pointed out that the UK expected EU applicants there to apply in English, so it was not unreasonable for France to ask us to apply in French. It’s wise to note here that the Embassy is available to put pressure on any prefectures that may be awkward about issuing Carte de Séjours to people who want one (providing their file is

INFORMATION MEETING complete). EU citizens are entitled to ask for one even though they are not needed. Points to note: • He was not able to tell us what the income threshold would be - ie. relevant to EU nationals, which we were told by a member of the audience is 9 000€ or 18 000€ for non EU members. He was very honest about admitting that he did not know and said he will find out. I would expect to find this information on the Embassy website later…. • Double taxation is not affected by Brexit as it is derived from a bilateral agreement not a EU directive. • The EHIC card will continue as it is up until Brexit. • Recognition of qualifications is a little vague - some will be, such as doctors and architects, but others, such as the legal profession will only be discussed as part of the Trade Negotiations. This is because of the difference in legal systems in the different countries. Qualified people working here now (legally) will be able to continue doing so. • Legal procedures started before Brexit will run their course according to pre Brexit legislation (such as on-going divorce of EU27/UK citizens). • Passport applications will remain the same, although the appearance of the passport would change to omit the inclusion of ‘European Citizen’. • The European Commission has not made any decisions about voting rights as yet. However, they are thinking about this subject but they have not had time to make a decision. • The UK Government is considering re-establishing voting rights for life for British people living abroad. They are committed to discussing this in Parliament before the next General Election in 2020. Voting rights in France are still to be discussed by the European Commission. (If you take French Nationality you will have voting rights here. A CdS does not confer voting rights – we can currently vote in French local elections and European elections because we are EU citizens). • The European Court of Justice will be competent to deal with citizens’ problems for 8 years after Brexit happens. • Driving Licences have not been mentioned and it is likely that they will be dealt with by each of the EU27 countries differently after Brexit as some things will come under National rather than European decisions. The following points are STILL TO BE DISCUSSED by the European Council (as of December 2017): • Ringfencing (i.e. safeguarding what has already been agreed) is not yet accomplished BUT the agreement is a recognised commitment and, providing it is ratified in December’s EU meeting, will be part of the Withdrawal Agreement. • Continuing freedom of movement for UK citizens – i.e. the ability to move to and work in EU27 countries other than the country of our residence – this was what the UK wanted in return for offering the permanent right to come back to the UK for an EU citizen who has been resident in the UK, but leaves the UK and then wants to come back again. • Future healthcare arrangements (e.g. EHIC for future travellers). • Professional qualifications – future recognition decisions, recognition of qualifications of non-residents, and equal treatment for professionals who are neither frontier workers nor resident. • The right to be joined by a future spouse or partner – i.e. a relationship formed after the Brexit date. • Continuing recognition of lawyers practising under home title. • Continuation of our existing rights to vote in EU and local elections. • Restitution of UK voting rights for all British citizens living outside the United Kingdom. • Free movement of capital after Brexit. This is intended as a report/summary of what was said at the meeting and is not intended to have any political slant. Please note that negotiations may have changed by the time you read this report.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 29

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1.  Malicious burning to destroy property (5) 3. A shoulder firearm (5) 7. A variety of appetizers, or snacks in Spanish cuisine (5) 8. An inspection of accounting procedures (5) 9. The time period during which you are at work (5) 10. Hobby (7) 11. School punishment (9) 14. Make a proposal, declare a plan for something (7) 15. A garment hanging from the waist (5) 16. The Lion of Narnia (5) 17. Large oval tropical fruit (5) 18. An involuntary spasm of ineffectual vomiting (5) 19. The claw of a bird of prey (5)

Down: 1. Lack of interest or enthusiasm (6) 2.  An army non-commissioned officer rank (5-8) 4. A desert of sliced and diced fruits (5-8) 5. A difficult problem (6) 6. The treatment of pain or disease using needletips (11) 12. The treasurer at a college or university (6) 13. Mythological creature (6)

Across: 1. Put ashore in wild place having broken oar in my French habitat (6) 4. Walrus settling down to eat apple (6) 8.  Went in front of those starting, losing exact directions (3) 9. A certain amount of heat generated by female living within the boundaries of Tottenham (5) 11. Whack! That’s what you get for lying about in the sun all day! (3) 12.  Hollies breaking up, needing to rest, then reforming. Just like a butterfly! (13) 15. Extremely backward, unknown vicar (4) 16. E ntered prize root vegetable and got nothing! (4) 20. Something careless strikers might do if they don’t hold their position on the line? (6, 7) 21. Photographic hack capturing me in Berlin (3) 23. K  nock off some tests, easy after learning initially (5) 24. L ivingstone eg., with a dolly bird for a mate? (3) 25. O  ne over the eight, drunk in South Africa? Finding some shade (6) 26. C  olour most of the sub-continent, then leave (6)

With thanks to M.Morris



30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Down: 1.  Thanks to a drug runner, matador gets his cape (6) 2. Socialist reportedly discovered in a book? (3) 3.  Shown-up poser; too round to be one getting plenty of fresh air and exercise? (7, 6) 5. Found lens defective; with new make was able to identify criminal (8, 5) 6. Helps others to contain drunk (3) 7. AI trade making a sensation out of a simple mix-up (6) 10. Street needing some work done on it? (4) 13. Presenter of country emissions losing his head, now flapping about in the Tower? (5) 14. One of those online facial expressions first seen on Eric Morecambe or John Inman? (5) 17. Country boys loading old wagon into ship (6) 18. Lines spoken on a flower? (4) 19. On late, broadcast as a little addition to the main part? (4-2) 22. Shade in some of those appearing here today (3) 24. Exotic swimmer coming up well after me (3)

Answers on P.9 and our website:

DSM Toughie Crossword

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres It is said that the monks of Parthenay-le-Vieux founded la Maladrerie in 1093, but this cannot be proved. The establishment received an income of 300 pounds during the 17th century. Little is known about the founding of the establishment, its statutes and the name of its benefactor, but it is known that people suffering from leprosy lived there in the 14th century. In 1391 Jean I, Archbishop of Parthenay, accused the lepers of poisoning the waters in the springs and the Maladrerie was closed. It was opened again once things calmed down but it was more austere and disorganised. The establishment managed as well as it could, sometimes threatened by the English, sometimes helped by generous people. That was how on 22 December 1398, Jehan Gaillard, vassal of Parthenay, gave the feodal rights to land and fruit. By 1416, there were no longer any lepers at Saint Catherine. The building became the home of a monk, who was given the title of Chaplain because he would serve the chapel of the sick. The earliest known chaplain, Guillaume Barrède, tried to make a profit from his lands by letting them for farming.



A voir / Must See by Sue Burgess

ituated on the road between Parthenay and Saint-Maixent, several documents make reference to the existence of the commune of Pompaire including Cassini’s map and the Napoleonic land registry. The spelling of the name ‘Pompaire’ has not changed much - Pompeyre, Pomperre and today Pompaire. The names of the commune’s roads tell the story of the history of the commune... The main avenue of the town centre (avenue de LAUZON) refers to the Lauzon family and in particular to Joachin De Lauzon who was born in 1699. He was lord of the Roulière (commune of La Chapelle Bertrand) and the Parish of Pompaire. He is buried in the church at Pompaire. La rue du Bailli Ayrault (right in the centre), honours the last bailiff of the Duke of Parthenay (1747-1789), appointed by King Louis XV and who held judiciary functions. He was nominated judge at the tribunal in Parthenay in 1780 and his nomination was renewed in 1792. Rue de la Dame Quivois: Dame Quivois owned the Logis de Chaumusson and was a benefactor of the church of Pompaire. There is another person who has played an important role in local history and this was Robert le Chouan (François-Augustin) who was born in Pompaire on the 25th July 1795 and died in Azay-sur-Thouet on the 31st December 1868. His family were in service for the De Lauzon family, François-Augustin continued this tradition by working one of the farms belonging to Mademoiselle De Lauzon which was situated in Saint-Pardoux. Robert le Chouan disliked Louis-Philippe and was an ardent partisan of the Duchess of Berry. He participated in the Chouannerie movement in the region. (movement opposing Royalists and Republicans). Pompaire town council is today made up of 19 town councillors including the mayor and four assistants. The council sends two representatives to the Communauté de Communes Parthenay-Gâtine. The Place du Bailli d’Ayrault brings together the church, the Croix Hosannière and the village war memorial (see photo, top of page). Le logis de Chaumusson is an old fortified manor house. It is privately owned today and not open for visits. La Maladrerie at the Northern side of the commune was the place where the poor and sick were cared for. It was also open for travellers. Nothing remains of this establishment today except for the name ‘Maladrerie’. The full name of the establishment was la maladrerie de Sainte-Catherine de Parthenay. There used to be a chapel, dedicated to Saint Catherine of Somport, several houses with no outbuildings, a cemetery, a well and large areas of land.

• The Rose Garden La Roseraie de Pompaire – the Rose Garden has over 400 varieties of roses - ancient, botanical and English roses. Surrounded by parkland with farmyard animals, the educational farm and the lake, you can come here to rest or to fish. The Rose Garden was created in 2013. The opening dates are not yet released for 2018 so check before visiting but on opening days, which are usually from June onwards, visits are between 10h and 12h and 14h and 19h. The farm is situated on the Parthenay – St Maixent road at La Merlatière. It is possible to picnic or even to have a barbecue and stay and camp. Cut roses are on sale. Rooted cuttings of ancient varieties of rose are on sale from October and it is possible to order grafted roses which come from Holland. • Croix hosannière (funeral monument) The funeral cross, made of granite, can be seen on the square near the church and was restored in 1999. The cross stood in the centre of the cemetery until 1923. The ‘éco-musée de la maison du Patrimoine’ is situated in the heart of the village just behind the church and houses a collection of agricultural machines from the 19th and the beginning of 20th century, as well as household objects and an important collection of photographs which show the history of the commune. The museum can be visited on the following Saturdays from 15h to 18h, 24 Feb 2018, 24 March 2018, 28 April 2018 and 16 June 2018 Tel: 05 49 64 51 39 ~ Email : • St Pierre’s Church The church of Pompaire depended on the Prior of Saint Paul of Parthenay who nominated the priest until the Revolution. In 1649 important repairs and renovations were carried out. The church had 2 chapels. One was dedicated to Mary and one to Saint Blaise. The structure of the church was consolidated for a second time in 1777. The cemetery used to lie around the church and was moved in 1923. A section of the cemetery was reserved for Protestants. The main altar has a 17th century wooden tabernacle. St Pierre is featured in a stained glass window in the choir. Other stained glass windows depict Saint Radegonde, St Joseph and Mary. There are several statues. The church has three bells which were blessed in 1873 and later replaced in 1925. There is a black and white war memorial listing the 34 men of the commune who died in the Great War.

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 31


32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Building & Renovation

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34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Small B/W Advert from 34€ per month

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OF THE MONTH 36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

Business & Finance Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey

New Year’s Resolutions to Transform

I •

• •

and Update your Small Business

don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions on a personal basis, but I do try and do it for my business, as I find it makes me review my business for the coming year and decide what I need to do more effectively. Here are a few general pointers… Get a new diary or journal for your various projects, so you can keep your meetings, training sessions and appointments up to date and also have a place to write down your ideas. Keep it with you at all times in case you get inspiration when you are out. Learn something new…choose something you enjoy or are interested in to learn in 2018. It might be related to your business, or something that you can do in your downtime. It’s important to do both to ensure you have a good work/ life balance. Do you have a media kit? If not, you might like to think about having one so you have all your promotional materials to hand. Rearrange your work space so that it’s a pleasant environment to work in and if you like to work with music, pull together a playlist of songs that you will enjoy working to.

Now onto the more business and practical side of running your business… • Manage your cash flow more effectively…try and build up some capital to invest back into your business and have a little in reserve for emergencies. • How often do you look at your digital presence? If you have a website, make sure that it is mobile-friendly and take some time to review and update your website content. Do you have an email marketing list? If you don’t, now is the time to think about creating one. If digital isn’t something you’ve done yet, it will be worth adding this to your resolution list. • Does your brand still say what you want it to about your business? If not, it might be worth you looking at rebranding. • Charge what you are worth – this is much easier said than done – I think we’re all guilty of underselling ourselves. Have a look at what other businesses charge who do the same as you and make sure you are on a par with them. • What about social media? All small businesses can benefit from social media…have a look at other similar businesses to yours – what do they use? Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter? Research what is best for you and go for it. • Do you have a business blog? This is something that can really help push your business and what you do…definitely something to think about. A blog can serve two purposes; 1) to help set you up as an expert in your field and 2) to show your human side, who you are and help your audience get to know you. These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you can think of many more. The next step is to put your resolutions into action… transform them into goals for your business and put them into your business plan for 2018. Then you have a record of what you want to do and you can work on how to achieve each one.


BUSINESS affaires - business achateur ( ) - buyer vendeur (m) - seller biens - assets chiffre d’affaire (m) - turnover créer une entreprise - to create a business les frais - fees l’impot - tax paiement (m) - payment chef (m) - boss association (à but non lucratif) (f) - non-profit organisation virement bancaire - bank transfer prendre rendez-vous - to make an appointment sous-traitant (m) - sub contractor formation (f) - training advertising - publicité location (f) - rental perte (f) - loss salaire (m) - salary démissionner - to resign

I hope you achieve all you wish for in 2018. Contact Cindy Mobey Tel: 05 45 31 13 86 ~ Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 37

Pound V Euro V Brexit by Sue Cook

Q> “The GPB/EUR exchange rate spent 2017 reacting to political news and Brexit developments, what impact are negotiations likely to have on the exchange rate in 2018”

A> While it wasn’t quite as dramatic as 2016, it was a volatile twelve months for the GBP/EUR pairing in 2017, with Pound movement being largely driven by political developments and their impact on Brexit negotiations.

Major events in 2017 include the calling of a snap election by Theresa May (which helped the Pound strike last year’s high of €1.197), Sterling’s subsequent slump as the Tories lost their majority, and the start of Brexit negotiations, which placed persistent pressure on the GBP/EUR pairing over fears that talks were progressing too slowly. Ripples caused by these events are likely to have further consequences over the coming year as well. One of the main focal points will be Theresa May, and whether the embattled PM is able to cling to her position amid mounting pressure from within her own party. Last year there were a number of rumblings for a leadership contest, something that could have major consequences for Sterling and Brexit negotiations, especially if it leads to another general election and a possible return to power for Labour. Markets fear that an unstable government will undermine the UK’s position in negotiations, so any hints that May could be replaced are likely to weigh heavily on Sterling sentiment over the coming months. This will also tie into the pace of Brexit negotiations this year, with any suggestions that talks are progressing slower than markets would like having the potential to drag on the Pound.

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson

How often should I have a financial review?


here are no hard and fast rules regarding the frequency of a financial review. I believe, however, that there are several questions you can ask yourself, which may indicate that now is a good time to review your own situation: Have my personal circumstances changed since my last review? This can include firming up on plans for retirement, changes in your family situation, emerging health issues, a change in jobs or an inheritance. Any of these things could change what you need your money to do for you. Do I know how the investments I hold are performing?  Have you received a recent statement and are you aware of how your investments are performing compared to others? Reviewing your finances can reassure you that you are on track. Do I know the position of my current private pensions? There are options available to expats which are not open to British residents. These are not right for everyone and a professionally prepared analysis is required.

The area of talks under the most scrutiny this year is likely to be trade, with observers keen to learn what a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU will actually look like. Markets are also likely to pay a lot of attention to whether the UK will be able to secure a two-year transitional agreement, with analysts hoping that such a deal would help cushion the impact of leaving the EU for British businesses.

The answers to these questions may indicate that now is a good time to arrange a financial review. Sitting down with your adviser will enable them to ensure that any investments held are appropriate for your current situation and risk profile and that you are not over exposed in certain areas.

A brighter outlook for the UK’s post-Brexit future could also indirectly strengthen the Pound if it causes the Bank of England to reconsider its interest rate plans this year, with the Pound likely to surge as it did last September if the bank hints at a possible rate hike in 2018.

Your adviser can also tell you how your investments are performing against other types of investment available in the market. Couple this with an ability to advise you of any changes in rules and regulations and you can see that a financial review can provide tremendous peace of mind.

While it’s difficult to predict with 100% certainty how Brexit talks will progress this year and what impact they’ll have on the GBP/ EUR exchange rate, signing up to receive regular market updates from a leading currency broker and staying up-to-date with the latest currency news could help you make the most of your currency transfers over the coming months.

38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

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. The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated

to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

Mandat de Protection Future

by Isabelle Want


‘Mandat de Protection Future’ is a document that you can produce with your Notaire that basically lets you name someone to look after you and/ or your assets in case your mental health diminishes. It costs around 130€.

This document does not take away your rights or legal capacities, it just allows the person you name to act on your behalf and for your interests. If your mental state still allows it, the person you name must inform you of what he or she is doing on your behalf. The delegator is the person who needs to be helped. The representative is the person who helps and represents the delegator. The content of this document defines the object of the ‘mandat’, which can be either: • • •

the physical aspect of the delegator (health matters) the assets of the delegator (some or all the assets-financial aspect) or both

Note that the delegator can choose that their assets are looked after by one representative and their physical self/health by another. This mandate authorises the representative to proceed with some actions on the assets of the delegator. For example, sell his house or make some withdrawal on his investment. But any donation to someone, for instance giving the house, is forbidden or must be approved by a judge. This mandate can be done via a Notaire. The delegator gives a listing of all its assets to the Notaire. The Notaire will have the power to notify the judge if some actions taken by the representative are contrary to the benefit or interest of the delegator. Note that it is obligatory for parents on behalf of their children (disabled for instance) to be undertaken with a Notaire. It can be a contract established between the delegator and the representative without a Notaire. In this case, it must be dated and signed by the delegator and the representative. The delegator chooses in advance the extent of the power given to the representative. The delegator can establish his wishes regarding: • • •

The representative then goes to the Clerk of the local tribunal with the mandate and the medical certificate and the clerk will make the necessary paperwork for it to be actioned. As long as the mandate has not taken effect, the delegator can cancel it or modify it and the representative can renounce it. (In other words, you can still fall out with each other and change your mind if you still have your mind!) The mandate ceases when: • • • •

reestablishment of the mental capabilities of the delegator death of the delegator death of the representative, or loss of his or her mental capabilities revocation of the representative following a judge’s decision - for instance if proven the representative has abused his position

Well, Ok, this is not an article that will help me sell insurances or investment, but as a professional asset manager it is my duty to inform you of all possibilities available to you to prepare for the future. So it is worth thinking of while you still can! Don’t hesitate to contact me for any other subjects such as inheritance law, tax, savings, funeral cover or a quote on any insurances. And please check out our website for my previous articles on the ‘practical pages’ and to register to my Monthly Newsletter.

Facebook @Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterps.

His house and condition of housing To maintain relationship with a third party, parents or not His Leisure and Holidays

For certain important medical acts, the delegator can: • •

authorise the representative to consent on his behalf or just authorise the representative to be consulted but in this case the representative cannot decide on the behalf of the delegator

No Orias: 07004255

Starting date of the ‘mandat de protection future’ When the representative realises that the state of health of the delegator does not allow him or her to deal with their affairs. The representative has then to do the relevant procedure for the mandate to take effect. This realisation/observation is under the charge of the delegator and must be established by a doctor who is on a special list established by the procureur de la République (District Attorney) and this list of doctors is available at your local tribunal. The doctor delivers a medical certificate to ascertain the inaptitude of the delegator.

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec Contact Isabelle Want:

Tel: 05 45 31 01 61 Mob: 06 17 30 39 11

Email: Visit our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 39

Changes to French Taxation in 2018


he French tax reforms which were first announced in September came into effect on 1st January 2018.

Income tax rates There are no changes to French income tax rates for 2018 (payable on 2017 income). The income bands for each rate have, however, increased with inflation. So the nil rate band is now 9 807€ and the 45% top rate applies to income over 153 783€.

Social charges Social charges increase by 1.7% this year for all types of income. The rates for 2018 are: 9.7% for employment income; 9.1% for pension income and 17.2% for investment (including rental) income. Flat tax on investment income Investment income is now taxed at a fixed rate of 30%, regardless of the amount earned. This includes both income tax and social charges. This applies to investments over 150 000€ per individual (300 000€ for joint investments for married/PACS couples).  Households in low-income brackets keep the option for progressive income tax rates, in which case the abatements on dividend income and gains on share sales (for small and medium-sized companies) remain in place.

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

element relating to the top-up is subject to the new 30% tax. The allowance for policies held for over eight years stays in place for all policies (4 600€ for individuals, 9 200€ for married/PACS couples). Wealth tax From 1st January 2018, the scope of wealth tax is limited to real estate assets.   Any savings and investments, including assurance-vie policies, are now exempt from wealth tax. The previous threshold of €1,300,000 and 75% limitation stay in place and the scale rates of wealth tax remain the same as before. Other measures The limits for the micro-regimes for business income have increased significantly. Changes to the calculation of taxe d’habitation are being phased in gradually; from 2020 80% of households will be exempt from this tax. The main corporation tax rate will reduce from the current 33.33% to reach 25% by 2022. These reforms make this an excellent time to review your tax planning. Establish what the changes mean for you, and whether you need to consider re-structuring your assets so you can take full advantage. Seek personalised, specialist advice to ensure your tax planning is designed around your circumstances and objectives, and you are not paying any more tax than necessary.

Assurance-vie policies For assurance-vie, this new system applies to all policies set up on or after 27th September 2017, although the flat rate applies for withdrawals made in 2018.

Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice.

For policies set up before 27th September, the old fixed rate system is still available. For top-ups after this date, the proportion of the gain

Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

The Blevins Franks Spring Seminar Brexit, pensions, French tax reforms, the UK budget, estate planning, investing today… Our seminar covers all the financial issues facing expatriates in France today, whether you have recently arrived or have been living here a while. We will provide updates and explain how it all affects you.


Thu 22 Mar Domaine Du Griffier NIORT (79)

Registration 10 for 10.30am start, until 12 noon

book your seat now

05 49 75 07 24

Online booking is also available from our website


I N T E R N AT I O N A L TA X A DV I C E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S TAT E PL A N N I N G • PE N S I O N S Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided overseas, via the Insurance Mediation Directive from Malta, the regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as “Conseil en Investissements Financiers” and “Courtiers d’Assurance” Category B (register can be consulted on Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: Parc Innolin, 3 Rue du Golf, CS 60073, 33701 Mérignac – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA).

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018


‘The DSM’ Feedback...

I believe the ads to be very reasonable and this year will advertise again...I think it’s a great mag!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018 | 41

Time to Mint It!


by Joanna Leggett

he vibrant market town of Melle sits astride the old pilgrim route to St Jean de Compostela. Set between Poitiers and St Jean d’Angely it’s ideally placed to explore Deux-Sèvres and not far from the wonders of the Marais Poitevin. Long before pilgrims starting walking to Spain to collect ‘indulgences’ ensuring their places in heaven, Melle was renowned for its silver mines. Ore used to pay tribute to the Frankish kings – 8,000 pounds was sent annually to Paris helping to build St Denis Basilica! The town flourished and you can still see medieval houses and impressive Romanesque churches. Time moves on – today, as well as visits to the mine, tourist attractions include the church of Saint Hilaire (an UNESCO World Heritage site) - its ‘ecclesiastical juke box’ plays hymns and chants – and the Aboretum with many species of trees and roses! It’s a great place to live with its busy market, traditional restaurants and good shopping as well as the Lycée. We’ve picked three properties currently on the market to showcase this month. Firstly – a 3 bedroomed town property (Leggett ref: 82786, photo left) is on the market for a snip at 51 000€! This stone house boasts a small courtyard as well as garage. Although in need of renovation and modernisation, it has potential to become an impressive property in a sought after location close to all amenities – there’s potential to add more rooms in the loft as well as utilising the 2 room apartment behind the garage.

Also within walking distance of the town, a modern detached split-level home set in an elevated position (Leggett ref: 75041, photo right) is listed for 172 800€. This 5 bedroom home sits in a 2,500 m² plot and offers extremely comfortable living with French doors opening on to the garden from the sitting room and bedrooms. Naturally it’s double glazed, has roller shutters and oil fired central heating as well as garage and outbuildings. Just outside Melle is our last choice – a sympathetically renovated spacious family home (Leggett ref: 79353, photo left) with large bedrooms, vast lounge, well equipped kitchen and dining as well as room for an office. The beautiful verandah with its stove is a boon for cooler months! There’s also a separate apartment or gîte. In all there are 7 bedrooms – the property offers garages, workshop and swimming pool with terraces, all set in a beautiful large garden with fruit trees – the price? 267 500€!

Leggett Immobilier is one of the leading estate agents in France. You can access all our local property listings at



Ref: 83483 Deceptively large 3 bed stone home in a lovely quiet village. MESSE €88,000

Buying or selling?

10% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: E

Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

Ref: 82880 Attractive 3 bed farmhouse with outbuildings plus 4 horse boxes. VERNOUX EN GATINE €137,667

Ref: 83513 Perfect lock up and leave property with a double garage. CERIZAY €89,650

9% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: D

10% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: E

Ref: 83476 Character 4 bed farmhouse with garden. Close to all amenities. STE SOLINE €152,600 9% TTC agency fees included paid by buyer DPE: E

Ref: 83227 Great price for this pretty village cottage, walking distance to shops. LOUBILLE €55,000 12% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: E

Ref: 83542 3 bed 2 bath property in a riverside village close to Lac du Cebron. GOURGE €119,900 9% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: A

Starting a new life in France? Want a new career?

Leggett are always looking to recruit new sales agents, so if you are looking for a job in France, drop us a line. 00 800 2534 4388 +33 05 53 60 84 88

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2018

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine, February 2018  
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine, February 2018  

English language magazine for the French department of Deux-Sèvres (79) and surrounding areas.