The Deux-Sevres Monthly Magazine July 2019 Issue

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Welcome! to Issue 99 of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

Big decisions! Shorts or trousers? Just a T-shirt? T-shirt and a jumper? T-shirt, shirt and jumper? It looks a beautiful day from inside, then once out there’s an unexpected nip in the air. Just as you think summer has truly arrived storm Miguel shows up and decimates the tomatoes. It was carnage when I went to the vegetable patch the morning after...broad beans everywhere. The fly screens are on the windows and blankets a distant memory. At night it’s like sleeping in a slow cooker, and the mosquitoes have been out in force, bleeding you dry. But then at three in the morning there’s a ‘ping’ on the phone as your Wi-Fi provider warns of a storm brewing. Anna rushes downstairs, yanking every available plug from their moorings. The cushions! The cushions are still outside on the sunloungers! Anna disappears into the darkness, I stay in bed hoping she doesn’t meet a wild boar en route. She returns informing me that the hatches have been battened and the washing taken in. We return to our slumber. At four o’clock the sound of torrential rain is heard outside, replacing the usual cacophony of grasshoppers and frogs. Why is it so loud? We’ve left the fly screens up and the windows are open! The only design flaw with my fly screens is that to get them in, you have to take one side of the windows off. I don’t know if you’ve tried to get a window back on its hinges at 4am with rain lashing into the bedroom...but it made for a fractious few minutes. July is upon us and hopefully it’s shorts and T-shirts all the way. Maybe the trunks will even make an appearance. Whatever you’ve got on this month we hope your plugs stay socketed, your cushions dry and you enjoy our July issue.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna

Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:


What’s On Getting Out & About Take a Break Clubs & Associations Hobbies Home & Garden Where We Live Communications Food & Drink A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Motoring Health, Beauty & Fitness Our Furry Friends Building & Renovation Business & Finance Property

This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) ARB French Property Ark 79 (Animal Charity Association) Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Beaux Villages Immobilier

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BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management Building & Renovation Services Cabinet Papin Immobilier Café Pause! (First anniversary celebrations) Café Rendez-Vous (Bar and Restaurant) Centre Régional - Résistance and Liberté Cherry Picker Hire Chez Lou (Upholstery and Furniture) Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) CJ Electricité Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Discover Yoga Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Futuroscope Green and Tidy (Gardening Services) Hallmark Electricité Helen Booth (deVere Group) Hiley Location (Groundworks) HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service House Contents Sale Inter Décor (Tiles and Bathrooms) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon the Carpetman Keith Banks Pool Services La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Lac (Restaurant and Bar) Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mad Hatter’s Wonderland Festival Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction MD Project Management Me and Mrs Jones (Property Cleaning and Services) Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) Mike Glover (Plasterer, Tiler, Renderer) ML Computers Motor Parts Charente Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Natalie Balderston (Translation services) Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Pinnacle Garden Care Plombier 85 (Plumbing, Heating, Sanitation) Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) Restaurant des Canards R J Coulson Building Services R J Coulson Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Satellite TV Saugé Vintage Tea Room SCP Louis Cagniart & Christel Roy Notaires Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removal company Smart Services (Home and Garden Services) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) The Charroux Memoir Prize 2019 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association The Lush Lawn Company This Month’s Advertisers Tony Wigmore (IT services) Town Renovations Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini (Translation Service)

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© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2019. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anna and Stephen Shaw accept 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 Anna and Stephen Shaw 2

Jaunasse, Louin, 79600 Tél: 05 49 64 21 98. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anna and Stephen Shaw. Crédits photos: Anna and Stephen Shaw, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: juillet 2019 - Tirage: 5000 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 3

What’s On... 3 - KOREAN ENSEMBLE ORMES in Azay-sur-Thouet at the Salle de Fêtes. For more information tel : 06 64 94 91 41 4-9 - FESTIVAL TERRE DE DANSES (FR). Shows and workshops of contemporary dance techniques – this year’s theme is ‘Living Together’. for more information. 4-13 - EUROCHESTRIES FESTIVAL (FR). The gathering of around 1000 young people (15-25 years old) from 37 different countries, united by the universal language of music, where festivals bring together symphony and string orchestras, choirs or music groups and individual musicians. for more information. 5-12 - VILLAGE FESTIVAL in Brioux-sur-Boutonne. Theatre, music, circus and other street arts. au.Village/ for more information. 6 - GENÇAY’S SUMMER FAYRE AND VIDE GRENIER BRADERIE. Animations and roving acts, a bouncy castle, a sheltered children’s sandpit, boules display, restauration, and more. Chez Christie’s open all day for cream teas and other refreshments. The ambience is always great! 6 - CONCERT OF CHORAL MUSIC at the Abbey of Saint-Savin (Vienne 86310), 5pm. Including Pergolesi Stabat Mater and music by Schubert, Mendelssohn and others. Free admission. 6 - CONCERT WITH ENGLISH GUITARIST RICHARD DURRANT at Javarzay church. More details on page 6. 6-7 - COULON FÊTE (FR). Entertainment including remotely controlled boats and cars, juggling workshops, wooden games, inflatables, sleigh ride, treasure hunt, craft market, magician, dance, music and food. Details on page 6. 6-7 - BOUILLEZ FESTIVAL (FR). Street artists, acrobats, musicians, circus acts, juggling and much more – around the village square and the château. Saturday 4pm-midnight, Sunday 11.45am to 8pm. www.// for more details. 7 - FARMER’S MARKET in Melle (Marché des Producteurs). Local and organic producers cooking meals on site. With entertainment, games, exhibitions and more. Begins at 10am-3pm. Free entry. 9 - LIVE MUSIC WITH SAMPHIRE at Restaurant des Canards, ChefBoutonne. See page 31 for more details. 10-20 - FLIP FESTIVAL in Parthenay. The town centre of Parthenay is once again converted into a giant ‘games’ board for this ten day festival of games. Daily from 2pm-8pm (and some mornings and evenings) there is so much to keep the kids entertained. For more information go to 12 - ON THE MOON AGAIN: Watch the Moon in Melle (FR). Café du Boulevard, Melle at 9pm-midnight. Presentation around the Apollo 11 mission, plus observation of the moon and sky. Participants can bring their own equipment. Free and open to everyone. 12-16 - ART EXHIBITION at Valdelaume - Val de l’Art at the Salle de Fêtes, Pioussay. Some thirty artists, from talented amateurs to

contact ‘The DSM’ Call Anna Shaw on 05 49 64 21 98 Monday - Thursday: 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

world-renowned professionals, all from within the commune, will be exhibiting their work. Visitors will have the opportunity to talk to some of the artists, take part in a range of creative workshops, watch small-screen film and listen to music of different genres. Admission is free, all are welcome. For more information Facebook:

14 - BASTILLE DAY. There will most certainly be something happening near you for this national celebration (possibly on Saturday 13th in some towns) – a perfect opportunity to celebrate and integrate with the locals. 17 & 31 - PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER MARKET in Coulon from 4.30-10.30pm. 19 - FARMER’S MARKET in Le Tallud (Marché des Producteurs). Local and organic producers cooking meals at their stands (bring your own plates and cutlery). With live music and fireworks. From 6pm – free entry. 20-21 - STOCK CAR RACING in Chiché (FR). Racing starts 5pm Saturday and 11am – 7.30pm on Sunday. 20-21 - INTERNATIONAL PAINTING FESTIVAL in Magné. For more information go to 21 - HORSE FESTIVAL in Mauléon from 9am-7pm. Rides in the morning (horses, carriages, pedestrian and bike), various equestrian events in the afternoon. Free entry. 21-7 AUGUST - CLASSICAL CONCERTS in Celles-sur-Belle. Les estivales d’ArtenetrA 2019. More information 23 - WELCOME OF ‘LA FRANCE EN COURANT’ in Melle. La France en Courant is the longest road relay race in France, where 15 teams, composed of eight runners compete for two weeks (13-27 July). Join the inhabitants of Melle in welcoming the runners during the afternoon, where there will also be lots of activities (bread making, demonstration of crafts, games, bouncy castle etc.). 25 - GUIDED TOUR OF THE NOMADS INTERNMENT CAMP near Thouars. A guided tour, by the Centre Regional Resistance and Liberté, of the former internment camp Montreuil Bellay. Between 1940 and 1946, 6,000-6,500 nomads (mostly gypsies) were interned in France. Duration 45 minutes. Free but booking recommended. for more details. 27 - LIVE STREET MUSIC WITH SIMON PELE at Café Rendez-Vous, L’Absie see page 31 for more information. 27-28 - LARGE FLEA MARKET in La Mothe-Saint-Héray. Forty-fifth edition of this huge Brocante. Second-hand and antique dealers meet from 9am-6pm in the halls and Place Clémenceau. *(FR) = French language

what’s COMING UP...

4 August - Fundraising Fête for Violet in Secondigny - see article of page 10. 11 August - First anniversary celebration at Café Pause, L’Absie. See page 10 for more information. 16-18 August - The Mad Hatter’s Wonderland Festival. For more information and headlining acts see page 7. 25-30 August - Lumières du Baroque 21 Edition at Abbaye de Celles-sur-Belle, 14 rue des Halles, Celles-sur-Belle. For complete programme and more information

La Vendée Chippy

MR T’S FRITERIE Regular venues at:

Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime

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: 05 46 01 54 65

Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN mornings

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Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) Ballans 17160 La Chapelle 16140 St Jean d’Angély 17400 Les Essards-Saintes 17250

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...July 2019 LOCAL MARKETS

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY MON & WED 2PM-6PM Duplicate Bridge at Civray. Lessons available free. Contact Marian Green: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: EVERY TUES AT 5PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Painting Workshops. Please see EVERY WEDs AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book Afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. EVERY WEDS - Franglais Bressuire 8-10pm in term time at the Centre Socio-culturelle. EVERY THURS AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs. EVERY THURS FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€. In aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY THURS - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on tel: 06 52 93 33 60. EVERY THURS - Franglais group in Montournais. Contact Penny Homewood 02 51 63 31 21 or EVERY FRI AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact Jane Trescothick: EVERY FRI 6PM-7.30PM - Line Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. Contact: or 05 49 10 37 80. EVERY SUN 2PM-5PM - Chats de Châtillon Adoption/Visiting afternoon. All other times tel: 06 85 63 55 94 EVERY OTHER THURS AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 2nd Tues of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 3RD WEDS of month AT 7.30PM - Team Quiz. At Le Clemenceau Bar, Mouilleron-en-Pareds, in aid of animal charities. 3RD WEDS OF MONTH AT 3PM Franglais Group at Café Pause!, L’Absie. Last FRI of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue and Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2pm-5pm) tel: 02 51 51 00 96.


Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 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) Civray 86400 (small food market) 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 and Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600


The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2019 14th July 15th August 6th October 31st October 1st November 11th November 25th December

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

Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grands-Pères) Halloween All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. www. or Carolyn Carter on 05 45 84 19 03. 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.

(Dates in bold=Public holidays)


TOP HAT QUIZ Nights 1: 4: 8: 10:

Limalonges Chef Boutonne Theil Rabier Aigre

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm

The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship hold meetings throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. Contact 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).

FISH 4 CHIP & AUTHENTIC INDIAN MEALS Mon: Charroux Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (main square) Weds: Chef Boutonne (near château) Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (main square) Fri: Ruffec (Baobab car park)

EMERGENCY NUMBERS: 15 17 18 12 113

SAMU (Medical Advice) Gendarmes (Police) Pompiers (Fire Service) European Emergency Drugs and Alcohol

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 5

Getting Out & About Chez Christie’s BEAUTIFUL GIFTS & CARDS

Masses of Quality Gifts for Family, Friends, The Home … or for You ! Stunning Cards for all Occasions !


Cream Teas, Cupcakes, Brownies, Bakewell Tart, Rich Fruit Cake …

Saturday 6th July ~ Gençay’s Summer Fayre & Vide Grenier FREE WIFI

Mon nouveau guitariste préféré… Richard Durrant se situe complètement en dehors des genres musicaux répertoriés. L’esprit de sa musique invite au particulier et au merveilleux. Tom Robinson BBC6 Radio 6 Music


--andavailable online Thousands of Books


A son écoute, on devine un homme qui aime la musique et la vie pareillement. Gramophone Magazine

6 juillet

Eglise Saint Chartier de Javarzay, Chef-Boutonne, Deux-Sèvres 20h30 - Tarif 10€ Gratuit pour les moins de 16ans Plus d’informations - Amanda Holmes

Siret: 47876969800018

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, July 2019

Pause for Patchwork Our ladies have again been very busy over the last few months. The charity quilt for last year raised a record 700€ and this was donated to the REVES charity. We are already well ahead on the quilt for this year and its going to be a winner. The photo (below) shows the progress so far. This year’s charity is Médicines sans Frontières and we are going all out to break our previous record and hopefully raise 1000€. Raffle tickets can be purchased from: Café Pause! - L'Absie Café Rendez-vous - L'Absie Café Bon Bon Le Chapelle-aux-Lys Le Clemenceau Café, Mouilleron-En-Pareds Tickets, as usual, are just 1€ each.


ow in it’s ninth year this vibrant annual event has become eagerly awaited. The Wonderland Festival provides an opportunity for locals and all those music fans from far and wide to enjoy fantastic professional musicians of many genres in a laid-back setting. The festival is family-run and self-funded, people of all ages come together to enjoy a weekend of music. The stages are situated within a walled garden along with great food and drink, real ale, cider and with any luck - some beautiful French sunshine! Camping is available for those booking weekend tickets, there is also the possibility to bring your camper van, alternatively you can book one of our nomad bell tents. Our headliners From The Jam (with Bruce Foxton) are massively popular, packing out large stadiums and big venues. Animals and Friends feature original members of that iconic 60’s band, still rocking out all those classic songs and The Rubettes with original members, who can resist hitting those high notes in Sugar Baby Love? Plus the amazing tribute band Clearwater Creedence Revival featuring an all star line-up. Complimenting these big bands we have a superb line up of pop, rock, gypsy-folk, indie, ska, you name it we have it! Choose from a large selection of tasty homemade dishes or call in at the BBQ for a pulled pork roll, burger or sausage. Liquid refreshment can be taken at one of the bars, serving real ale, cool lager, cider, Pimms and more. The festival kicks off at 12pm on Friday 10 August and will wind down on Sunday evening 12 August - ticket sales are capped to keep it chilled out, book soon to avoid disappointment. So, all in all this is a cool little country party set in the lovely French countryside, but not difficult to get to, being only ten minutes from the N10 Poitiers-Angouleme route. Ticket information is on the website: We hope to welcome you to our festival this August!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 7

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


lthough I’ve never hankered after an island lifestyle, there’s something special about visiting a small island on holiday; in fact we’ve just returned from a mini-break on Jersey in the Channel Islands where we explored from coast to coast in just a few days. So when I discovered that there is an interesting selection of îles along our coastline here in France, I decided to discover a little more about them. Starting with the Vendée coast, you can visit Noirmoutier-en-l’île and L’île d’Yeu. To experience the true spirit of Noirmoutier, you need to access the island via Le Gois, a cobblestone causeway over 4km in length (as opposed to driving over the modern bridge). You can either walk or drive along the Passage du Gois, but whichever way you choose, make sure that you check the tide table before you leave! It may sound obvious, but the sea really does rush in surprisingly quickly. We spent an amusing half-hour recently sitting in a café overlooking the Passage watching cars (and a few pedestrians!) completing last-minute crossings as the sea rapidly approached! (For peace of mind, there are nine balisesrefuges along Le Gois where you can escape the rising waters if you really do get caught Check the tide table before leaving your car to out). explore the island of Noirmoutier!

Creature Corner The Snake (Le serpent)

Snakes in France here are about a dozen species of snakes in France but only two (or in the south, three) that are venomous - these are the vipers or adders. One species of grass snake is also venomous, but cannot physically get enough poison into a person to do any damage.


Snakes are often found near ponds and will swim quite readily (frogs form a major part of their diet). They also like cool, dark places (preferably infested with mice), as much as sunny spots. That's why finding them in laundries is not uncommon. Venomous vipers and adders can be identified most reliably by their slit shaped pupils; they are also usually less than 50cm long, grey or reddish brown with a black zigzag pattern down the back. They are quite venomous, but almost never fatal. If bitten by any snake, stay calm and get to a hospital. If possible photograph the snake, to help identification. Snakes are not normally aggressive, except in the breeding season (early spring). All species in France are protected.

Once on the island, make sure that you visit one of the many restaurants to sample the local produce including oysters, shellfish and ‘bonnotte’ potatoes seasoned with natural sea salt. To reach the Vendée’s second island, L’île d’Yeu, you can take the 30 minute ferry journey from La Barre-de-Monts, just south of Noirmoutier (available throughout the year). Alternatively, during the summer months, there are also regular crossings from the pretty harbour town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. It’s quite a small island, just ten by four kilometres, so life passes by at a leisurely pace. A friend of mine loves to visit the island for a day’s sea fishing; personally I prefer to hire a bike and explore the whole island in a day! If you’re planning an outing to one or both of the Vendéen islands, you might want to include visits to nearby Saint-Jean-de-Monts or Saint-Gilles-Croix-deVie, both pretty tourist destinations.

Look out for the second part of Karen’s article, the islands off the coast of Charente-Maritime, in next month’s ‘DSM’. Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

General information There are 3000 different species (five of flying snakes). They can’t chew food so have to swallow it whole with their flexible jaws, which allow them to eat prey bigger than their head! What they lack in eyelids and ears (they have internal ears), they make up for in teeth, some have over 200. The teeth aren’t used for chewing but they point backward to prevent prey from escaping the snake’s throat. Because the end of a snake’s tongue is forked, the two tips taste different amounts of chemicals. Essentially, a snake 'smells in stereo'. Some interesting elapine facts: • The Brahminy Blind Snake, or flowerpot snake, is the only snake species made up of solely females and, as such, does not need a mate to reproduce (Africa and Asia). • While humans have 24 ribs, some snakes can have more than 400. • A rattle snake will add a new ring to its rattle each time it sheds its skin.

Non-venomous snakes have round pupils and are usually longer than 50cm. One that exudes a pungent smelling substance is not venomous - it is a grass snake of some sort. Snakes found in south-west France Asp viper (vipère aspic), common adder (vipère péliade), smooth snake (coronelle lisse), Aesculapian snake (couleuvre d'Esculape) western whip snake (couleuvre verte et jaune), grass snake (couleuvre à collier), viperine snake (couleuvre vipérine).

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

An asp viper © wikicommons/B.Dupont

We’re all going on a summer holiday by Sue Burgess


ell, July’s here and the schools have broken up for two months of grandes vacances (the long summer holidays). The children sont en vacances (are on holidays). Some secondary school pupils are lucky enough to have three months off, as classes finish when the baccalauréat exams begin. A lot of French families partent en vacances (go away on holiday), often for three weeks. Family holidays are generally taken either in July or August, en juillet ou août but rarely across the two. French families like to spend their holidays à la mer, à la campagne or à la montagne (at the seaside, in the country or in the mountains). They don’t often go à l’étranger (abroad). According to recent research six French people out of ten go away on holiday. Four of these stay in France and two go abroad. Some families descendent dans un hôtel (stay in a hotel) whilst others font du camping (go camping) or ont une maison secondaire (have a holiday home). Many families partent en voiture (go by car). The last Saturday in July and the first Saturday in August as classed as noir (black) by Bison Fûté, the authority that keeps a watch on road transport. Traditionally there are huge bouchons and embouteillages (holdups and traffic jams) which are always announced on the TV news as a total number of kilometres of traffic jams. Let’s hope you don’t tomber en panne (break down). July holiday makers are known as juilletistes (sometimes written juillettistes) and August holiday makers are aoûtiens. The children generally have cahiers de vacances (holiday books which help them to revise their school work from the previous year, so that they haven’t forgotten everything when it’s time to go back to school (la rentrée). These cahiers de vacances can be found in supermarkets. For children from infant school to high school, some are general cahiers which revise all the subjects studied and others specialise in one. When their parents are at work, children can go to centre aeré (day centres) or even centre de vacances (holiday clubs) which could be colos/colonie de vacances (holiday clubs) or camps scouts (scout camps) or centre de loisirs (activity clubs) for horseriding, canoeing, and camping.

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: partir en vacances

................... to go on holiday

partir en weekend

.................... to go away for the weekend

partir en voiture prendre le train


to go by car

...................... to go by train

faire ses valises ........................... to pack réserver


retenir une chambre .................. monter une tente

to book to book a room

..................... to pitch a tent

se baigner .. ................................ to bathe / to swim prendre un bain de soleil ........... to sunbathe bronzer ...................................... to tan envoyer des cartes postales ........ to send postcards The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 9

Walking For Violet/Fundraising Fête


by Julie Tee

o support our friends, David and Suzette Jeapes, in raising funds for their granddaughter Violet (anything to get out of having to join him for the walk), we offered the use of our lakes and garden for a fundraising event… and it looks like it will be a fun affair. So pop it in your diary, Sunday 4 August 12-5pm.

Take a pause and indulge in tea or coffee and perhaps a slice of homemade cake. And of course, no fête would be complete without a traditional ice cream van (Vintage-ice). A raffle will take place at 3.30pm and there will be barbecued burgers or hot dogs from 4pm.

The 79’s Fishing Group meet regularly at our lakes for friendly competitions. They will do so on the 4th, and invite other anglers (whatever level of experience) to join them for this particular day. Even if you haven’t fished before, the more experienced anglers will be on hand to help novices (aged 10 upwards). Register by 26 July.

Come along, walk around our lakes, bring your four legged friend (on a lead) if you wish, meditate under the walnut tree - all we ask is that you pop something into the donation pot for Violet, after all, that’s what the day is all about. Please give generously - an anonymous benefactor will match every euro raised!

However, we aren’t just about fishing. We wanted to make sure there would be enough to keep everyone entertained, so a group of wonderful people have volunteered their time and talent in exchange for donations to Violet’s fund.

Would you like to have a stall at the event? Or offer your talent/service/time to help raise funds for Violet? I’d love to hear from you, please email me.

You can book in for a bit of therapy; reflexology with Pam Irving, massage with Kelly Knight and Deb Saunders, perhaps join Rebecca Novick’s yoga class, or have a reading by psychic medium, Lisa Pryke. There are limited slots, so register by 26 July. Have a browse and pick up something unique from one of the stallholders….. Berry Créatif Mosaics, Neal’s Yard Remedies, homemade Jewellery by Cindy, decorative plates, baby knits, handmade cards, patchwork and much more!

To register for fishing or a therapy, to offer to be part of the day, or find out more - email me at info@francefishinggites. com. The most up-to-date event information can be found at francefishinggites

For updates and information about the main fundraising event 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Tolkien tapestry update

Room 101



he Cité internationale de la tapisserie in Aubusson, France, has signed an agreement with the Tolkien Estate to create an exclusive series of thirteen tapestries and one carpet to be woven at Aubusson, over the course of four years. The creations will be based on the original illustrative works produced by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), who began painting and drawing as a child, and continued to do so all through his life.

The fifth tapestry, Rivendell, was presented in May, in the presence of the UK Ambassador Lord Llewellyn and Christopher and Baillie Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien’s son and his wife). A video of Christopher Tolkien telling his childhood story about the painting Rivendell can be seen at: com/watch?v=rQmh_Sfq88Y& The weavers heard this story and included a kind of homage in the weaving.

by Clive Greenwood

e all have our pet dislikes or hates, do we not? Look at the success of the BBC programme 'Room 101', which is intended to entertain and amuse but can touch on a serious point. My pet dislike is breaking news and its sister, streaming news. How often have you been watching a news channel which takes you to an empty room with an earnest reporter trying to engage your interest, the cameras focused on a row of empty chairs waiting for a clutch of people to arrive and tell you about a missing person, or about some failed football transfer bid? I recall all too well how a Sky news reporter was sent in 2000 to cover the release from prison of the former MP, Jonathan Aitken, scheduled for 9am, I was having breakfast. The reporter waited, chattering away about the case, untill he ran out of material. We waited, as the reporter adlibbed. About 9.15am a car draws up outside the Victorian prison gates. Aitken emerges, shakes hands with a warder and walks the few yards to the car. “How do you feel about being released, Mr Aitken?” Aitken ignores the reporter and gets in the car, which drives off. Reporter to camera, live: “I really don't know why my producer sent me down her today! It's a Bank Holiday and I could be home with my family.” Precisely. (I am pleased to say that this reporter remained with Sky to become one of their mainstays.) Then on 15 September 2017, once more as I was having my breakfast, the splendid Sophie Raworth was sent to Parsons Green station after the terrorist murder attempt. She stood in the road - having to be asked more than once by a policeman to move - as ambulances passed, carrying the injured to hospital. The facts that Raworth was able to tell us at the time could have been written on the back of a postage stamp, yet the BBC News lingered with her as she repeated herself interminably.

This is a photograph of the latest tapestry, Rivendell. (© The Tolkien Estate Ltd 1937. Collection Cité internationale de la tapisserie, Aubusson)

Tolkien Fact file • Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University from 1925 until 1959. He was also a tireless teacher, giving between 70 and 136 lectures a year even though his contract only called for 36. • To Tolkien, writing fantasy fiction was simply a hobby. • One of Tolkien's closest friends was fellow Oxford don C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia). • Tolkien was a veteran of WWI. He was present for some of the most bloody trench fighting of the war, including the Battle of the Somme. • Tolkien's academic writings were extremely popular among the Nazi elite, who were obsessed with recreating ancient Germanic civilization. But Tolkien was disgusted by Hitler and the Nazi party, and made no secret of the fact. He considered forbidding a German translation of The Hobbit after the German publisher, in accordance with Nazi law, asked him to certify that he was an 'Aryan'. Instead, he wrote a scathing letter asserting, among other things, his regret that he had no Jewish ancestors.

BREAKING NEWS (To be read in a Yorkshire accent) Why this obsession with breaking news? Something’s ‘appened but still it’s all confused. News’ounds floundering, smelling a scoop: “We’ll keep updating – just stay with US!” Babbling Joe Public tells us ‘is part, Which usually means ‘e wasn’t there But ‘eard a commotion way down t’street: “This neighbour’ood’s normally nice and quiet!” On social media see chatter spout, With jewky photos that tell you nowt. Outside Number 10, intrepidly brave, A daft reporter wielding a mike Shouts a question, just to be ‘eard, Knowing full well it’s plainly absurd To ‘ope the PM’ll give ‘ER views! Why this obsession with breaking news? The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 11

Charging at windmills


by Steve Shaw

riving around rural France there are many things that catch one's eye: a field of vibrant sunflowers, a distant château or maybe the numerous wind turbines with their mesmerising rotation and sychronised flashing lights. I wondered how I would react if I discovered they were erecting one next to our hamlet. Would I embrace the structure, the giver of clean renewable energy or would my inner NIMBY be released? Looking on the relevant website I was surprised to see the number of wind farms in our region 'planned', 'approved', 'under construction' and 'operational'. There was another category 'dismantled' but I couldn't find any of those. I decided to do some research about this controversial topic. Wind farms are becoming an increasingly important source of intermittent renewable energy and are used by many countries as part of a strategy to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Modern wind turbines usually have three blades which can reach speeds, at the tip, of over 200mph. History - Capturing the power of the wind is far from new technology. The ancient Egyptians used it to guide their boats on the Nile and throughout the centuries people have used windmills to pump and grind; they were used in Persia as far back as 200 B.C. Wind power first appeared in Europe during the middle ages. The first electricity-generating wind turbine was a battery charging machine installed in 1887 by Scottish academic James Blyth to light his holiday home in Marykirk, Scotland. Made with cloth sails and measuring ten metres tall, the turbine was used to provide electricity for not only his small cottage, but produced enough to share power with his neighbours. A few months later, the first automatically operated wind turbine was built in Cleveland, USA by Charles F. Brush. It was 18m tall, weighed four tons and powered a 12KW generator. Around the time of WWI, American windmill makers were producing 100,000 farm windmills each year, mostly for pumping water. In the autumn of 1941, the first megawatt-class wind turbine was synchronized to a utility grid in Vermont. The SmithPutman wind turbine only ran for 1,100 hours before suffering a critical failure. Where is the French connection I hear you ask? 'Eggbeater' turbines, or Darrieus turbines (patented in 1926) are vertical axis wind turbines, and were named after the French inventor, Georges Darrieus. They have good efficiency, but produce cyclical stress on the tower in strong wind, which contributes to poor reliability. Pros and cons - Wind turbines are generally inexpensive and are one of the lowest-priced renewable energy sources and as the technology improves, this will only reduce. The main cost is the installation process; however, the energy harvested will offset this, as well as provide virtually free energy for years. They provide a clean energy source, emitting no greenhouse gases and no waste product. Over 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide per year can be eliminated by using a one megawatt turbine instead of one megawatt of energy from a fossil fuel.

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Using this source or energy can also generate jobs and income. Farmers or landowners in rural areas can allow the construction of wind turbines on their land to gain extra income in the form of rent, while still being able to use the land. Additionally, there are an ever-growing number of jobs available in turbine manufacturing, maintenance, and installation. However, wind turbines can be very large, reaching over 140m tall, with blades 55m long, and people often complain about their visual impact. Some argue that their presence not only ruins the visual appeal of rural landscapes, but also the blades cause intrusive noise. One of the arguments against wind turbines includes the effect on wildlife. Thousands of birds, including rare species, have been killed by the blades. Although in the bigger picture, for every bird killed by a wind turbine a much higher proportion are killed by cats and buildings. In comparison, conventional coal-fired generators contribute significantly more to bird mortality, by incineration when caught in updrafts of smoke stacks and by poisoning from emissions’ byproducts. Energy harnessed by wind turbines is intermittent. Its availability is based on whether the wind is blowing, not whether electricity is needed. Turbines can be placed on ridges to maximize the access to wind, but this also limits the locations where they can be placed and increases their visual impact on the landscape. Furthermore, active wind sites that are good for turbines are often in rural or remote areas, so it is necessary to construct longer transmission lines to transport the generated electricity to cities. The runners and riders - But which countries have the highest capacity of wind energy in the world? China is the world leader, with over a third of the world’s capacity. It also boasts the world’s largest onshore windfarm, five times larger than its nearest rival. The US is in second place with 96.4GW, Germany has the highest capacity in Europe - 59.3GW, then India - 35GW. Spain is a strong performer - 23GW and the UK is the third European country, with a total capacity of just over 20.7GW (particularly noteworthy in offshore wind). France is the seventh highest of wind energy countries by capacity (15.3GW). It is currently moving away from nuclear power, which previously delivered 75% of the country’s energy needs, and will fill the gap by increasing its renewable budget to 71bn € for the period 2019-2028. This will allow it to triple its onshore wind capacity by 2030. However, hostility to wind energy is strong, as much of the population consider the turbines to be ugly and noisy. France has the second largest wind potential in Europe. This is due to its large land area and extensive agricultural landscape where turbines may be located more readily, as well as access to considerable offshore resources. Under its commitment to the EU renewable energy directive of 2009, France has a target of producing 23% of its total energy needs from renewable energy by 2020. So whatever your feelings towards these giants on the landscape, it looks as though they are here to stay.

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1. Athletic field event (6) 4. One who is playfully mischievous (6) 8. Glad; full of joy and pleasure (5) 9. Solicit votes from (7) 10. A public dance hall for dancing to recorded music (5) 11. The early part of night (7) 12. Draw a sword from a scabbard (9) 15. A place of complete bliss, delight and peace (7) 16. A shade of brown with a tinge of red (5) 17. A public toilet in a military area (7) 18. Occurance; something that happens at a given place and time (5) 19. A felt hat that is round and hard with a narrow brim (6) 20. Soft and mild (6)

Down: 2. A typeface with letters slanting upward to the right (6) 3. NASA spaceflight centre in Florida (4-9) 5. A state of extreme happiness (7-6) 6. Not being in a specified place (6) 7. Speeded up in a vehicle (11) 13. The Barber of Seville in Mozart’s opera (6) 14. Yorkshire term – an alleyway, or passage (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

Brain Gym

Down 1. Splice a preparation for exceptional result? (7) 2. Predict gold will be found before carpet is turned over? (5) 3. Grass about newspaperman? (4) 4. Pan king taken out of occupation? (3) 5. Lose this order and you will get enemies. (8) 6. Ban on anger causes a storm? (7) 7. Sounds like couplings are essentially yellow? (5) 12. Option on ant’s partner’s interior design? (5) 13. Tin struck in audio arrangement for performance? (8) 15. Represent harbour for Charles, for example? (7) 18. Sponged the French article, then taking time out, made an engraving? (7) 19. Replacing cold with hot, latest arrival (not new!) became a poet? (5) 21. Cow with broken rib leading into Rangers’ home? (5) 22. Among the leaders of army manoeuvres in Devon. (4) 24. Playground’s kit includes a slide. (3)

Identify the country and capital city from the flags below (a point for each):











The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 13

Answers on P.43 and our website:

Across 1. Pirate captain having argument after boxing practice? (7) 5. OU exchange providing pastime for familiar husband? (5) 8. A couple below par in Southsea Glee Club setting? (5) 9. Sleek arrangement of cabinet for leaders of Tory rebels for one hovering? (7) 10. Cross with inscription for at home theology lessons? (1. 1. 1. 1.) 11. Mad liars rise to be leaders, in the main? (8) 14. It is kind of dancer to do a turn for a friend? (3) 16. Relative offering help with cash flow problem? (5) 17. Upturned shelter to expose slipper? (3) 19. The Queen is in the Tweed! Release the hounds! (8) 20. Equipment and energy needed to be a high flyer? (4) With thanks to M.Morris 23. Wizards seen by miler running with two poles? (7) 25. 19 Across seen on Planet H? (5) 26. First to repair a yarn on new textile. (5) 27. Listed building with topical vote put into action? (7)

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.

Arts, crafts and bickies! by Vronni Ward


e are a group of chums who meet up in Secondigny every Friday to do some painting, drawing, crafting and nattering over a cup of coffee and some chocolate biscuits! We would very much like to welcome new members.

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, Jim: 00 44 79 60 16 83 30 or Janet: 05 46 26 90 85. Email: publicinfo.swfrance@aa-€ or visit for details of English-speaking meetings.

We invite other, more experienced, artists to our classes to help us develop our skills or try something completely new. We have tried watercolours with Grace McKee and Bix Nash, jewellery making with Freddie Main and pottery with Colin Underhay.

French Lessons for English Speakers

Some of our own members lead classes and have covered topics such as painting a seascape, painting eggs for Easter and life drawing/painting. We often pick a favourite artist and have a go at replicating one of their works. Each term we complete a collaborate art work, where everyone paints a segment always great fun, as we find ourselves falling over each other trying to match each piece. We also go out and paint/ draw in the open air; annually we go for a smashing, gutbusting tea at Château Jarno and we participate in the international art competition in Magné, where we paint and indulge in a picnic lunch. This is totally delightful on summer days in France.

Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), 4 Place Leopold Bergeon, 79150 Argenton-les-Vallées Classes: beginners or intermediate. Private lessons on demand. Contact: The Jean David Art Group meets every Tuesday at Scillé (79), and Thursdays at Jean’s studio near Chef Boutonne (79). Classes cater for all media and all levels of students - beginners most welcome! For details, please visit www. or phone Jean on 06 52 93 33 60.


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


All this for an annual subscription of 12€ plus 2€ a session, including unlimited coffee and bickies. Bargain!

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.

If you would like a bit of fun on a Friday morning or are an artist/ craftsperson who would like to give a paid demonstration, please do come along and meet us or contact Jane at trescothick.

CLE (Charente Limousine Exchange). We organise trips exploring the region, lunches, quizzes and boules games for some light hearted fun. Forums on French tax and other relevant issues provide crucial membership support. President: Dave Brown 05 49 87 05 85 or


WANT TO PLAY CRIBBAGE? Whether you are experienced, a novice, or want to learn how to play, everyone is welcome. We are a group of friendly players who meet the last Friday evening of every month in La Chapelle Thireuil. Contact Sally on 05 49 76 15 30 Royal Air Forces Association Sud-Ouest France Email:

Our RAFA Roast will be held on Sunday 11 August at 4pm at the Château du Petit Marais, 17400 SAINT-JULIEN-DE-L’ESCAP. This year, we have decided to have spitroasted legs of lamb with several delicious entrées, cheeses and dessert – all for 20€ (children under 16 are free). So, come along, bring your family and friends for a fun-filled event, helping us to raise funds to support RAF veterans and their families here in SW France. Campers and caravans are welcome – just let us know in advance. Deadline for bookings is Monday 29 July. Any questions? Just give us a call on 05 46 95 38 89.

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

by Carol Andrews - Secretary CSDS


ust an update on what we have been up to recently. We are now affiliated to Cancer Support France. However, you can still reach us on 06 40 77 27 35 or by visiting www. and following the link. We now have a Vice President to help our President Denise, her name is Vinny Galloway. We are also looking to recruit new members, people who don’t necessarily want to get involved with clients but feel they have other skills to offer e.g. help with IT, organising events, cake making, fundraising etc. It wouldn’t be a regular commitment, more of an if-and-when-needed arrangement. If you would like to help, please get in touch. Last but by no means least, a huge thank you to the following, the owners of Auberge du Noyer, Montjean, for their donation following a very successful quiz night, Café Pause, L’Absie for continuing to keep our collection box on the bar and also to Emma of ARK 79 for her fundraising efforts, we really appreciate all you do!


by Eric Edwards



s I begin writing it is 5 June, the day originally planned for D-Day in 1944 but, as many will be aware, the invasion was cancelled for 24 hours because the weather conditions were unsuitable. Like many of you, I watched the BBC’s coverage of the ceremonies and entertainment from Southsea Common celebrating the amphibious invasion unprecedented in size and logistics before or since. The Veterans of this event, feted on the day, were for me the highlight of the celebrations because their modesty at interview was overwhelming. Many people will understand the significance of achieving the bridgehead on the beaches but the following 85 days, known as The Battle of Normandy, is not such common knowledge and was one of the bloodiest periods, day for day, of WWII in Europe. The Veterans we saw on parade at Southsea would have been the spearhead in the ensuing actions from the landing beaches and, looking at the statistics, their chances of surviving this battle let alone the remainder of the war were slim indeed. The German army, commanded by Field Marshall Irwin Rommel, were well equipped and dug in after four years of occupation and their tanks were far superior to the lighter tanks used by the Allies. In the days immediately after the disembarkation, the battles for key cities were costly; Saint-Lô and Cherbourg for the US Army in the west and Caen for the British and Canadians in the east but it is fact that for each of the 85 days the Allies fought without respite. The US Army, under the command of General Bradley, were fighting north to Cherbourg, an important port for the logistical re-supply of the invasion. Progress was gruelling through fields mined and defended by machine gun nests and hedgerows of between 10-16 feet high. Caen was also costly both in terms of military and civilian casualties because after several failed attempts to take the city with ground forces, a mass air bombardment was ordered resulting in inevitable death and destruction. These initial targets achieved, the Allies began an arduous and hard won encircling manoeuvre, surrounding the German Army in a pocket to the west of Falaise and Argentan. Finally, after months of ordering the German Army to stand and fight, Hitler gave permission for them to retreat from the Falaise pocket to the River Seine in the east but the gap between Falaise and Argentan was becoming narrower as the Allies joined the circle so the retreating German Army had to run the gauntlet suffering many casualties in this killing zone. Approximately 40,000 Germans escaped, living to fight on in Holland and other theatres; recriminations ensued after because both the US Generals Bradley and Patton wanted to close the Falaise gap much earlier but Montgomery erred on the side of caution for fear of the Allies firing upon one another in the confusion. The Battle of Normandy resulted in the deaths of more than 36,000 Allied soldiers and about 50,000 German soldiers. Fighting also took its toll on the Normandy Region resulting in the deaths of 20,000 civilians and 300,000 more made homeless. Normandy became known as the sacrificial lamb to liberate France.

by John Blair


In early May, under the musical directorship of Aidan Fairlie (who brought together all the elements of our production), we performed the Musicals Spectacular. He also supported the 32 strong Keynotes Choir’s performance by singing solos, duets and group songs. It wasn’t a ‘one man’ show though! A major singing and choreographic contribution was made by Margaret Round, the Keynotes’ leader, and Linda Fairlie almost wore her fingers out because she had to learn, practice and perform no less than 168 pages of music on the piano!

There was also a great support group selling tickets, designing the publicity and programme, gaining sponsorship, sorting out props, setting up and operating lighting, etc. Too many names to mention individually but every one of them deserve our thanks, the show couldn’t have gone ahead without all their efforts. Thank you everyone. All performances were a sell out, so sorry if you failed to obtain tickets. You missed a great show.

Singing in Luçon

On the 10 May Aidan, Margaret, Linda and the Keynotes Choir took part in a completely different performance when we sang at the Luçon Cathedral with the Choraline Choir from La Châtaigneraie. The Rotary Club organised this event and hundreds of euros were raised for charity.

Dancing on Oléron

In June the Keynotes Choir and the Out of Kilter Scottish Dancing Group went to the Île d’Oléron to perform in three different towns on the island during this year’s annual Music Festival. This was a return visit after our successful visit last year. I’ll report on this event in my next article.

The Art Scene

A number of our members have entered the Art Festival which is held at Magné each year. This is an excellent event which has been held for several years and well worth a visit. Perhaps we might see you there? It is on 21 and 22 July this year. If you would like more information on any of the Reaction groups please look at our website: or email me at:

Best wishes, John

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 15

Hobbies A writer’s place


by Alison Morton

ometimes the dining room table is the only available space for writing, but if you want to shut the front door behind you and ‘go to work’, there are many other options…

Your garden - Why not head outside? Be ruthless about potentially distracting family members or neighbours who may be looking for a good chat. Or cats. When you get hungry, thirsty or need to use the loo, all you have to do is walk back inside. Library - You will be surrounded by endless shelves of inspiration; moreover, libraries often have quiet study rooms or work spaces. Librarians, Wi-Fi and other resources are instantly to hand for tricky research questions. Coffee shop/cafés - The classic writer’s haunt for a reason; caffeine is a great aid to productivity and cafés and coffee shops offer snacks, meals and cake to keep you energised. Find a table near a socket and preferably in a corner or against a wall out of the way of other customers. If you’re there more than an hour talk nicely to the owner and order regularly. Public park - Parks offer space to get fresh air and keep up with your work. Consider bringing your own chair, cushion or blanket since picnic table seats can be hard after a while. Oh, and take a drink with you. Museum/botanical gardens/zoo - Probably more useful if your writing relates to the museum’s theme as you can claim you are doing research. Sitting amongst paintings, sculptures, plants or fish can offer a brain refresh as well as peace and quiet. Shopping centres - Yes, they can be noisy, but goodness, all the characters in the world are there in front of you to include in your book. Sit in the food court with your laptop or pen and notebook. Eating chips is allowed. Some centres also offer free Wi-Fi. Bus or railway stations (or even the airport) - Most public transport hubs have seats of varying comfort. Take an inflatable pillow if you know they are hard. If you’re meeting a flight, go early and take your laptop. Side note: I always write on flights and train journeys and in departure lounges when waiting would otherwise seem interminable. In your caravan or camping-car - Ideal if you are able to keep your caravan or camper on your property. Run a cable out from the house so you have power for a heater, kettle and to charge your devices. Hotels - Some writers find a modest hotel locally where they are completely quiet and away from their household, daily distractions, pets and family. They don’t even need to make the bed! Food, at least breakfast, is on tap as is Wi-Fi. Perfect for a push to get the word count up. Writing retreats - Similar to hotels, but often in a writing community/writing centre where problems can be discussed, information exchanged and inspiration found, especially meeting up with other writers in the evenings. A writing shed - Humble or grandiose, it’s separate from the house. Essentials include a desk, comfortable chair and heater. Running electricity out there means you don’t have to break in order to charge your laptop. Me? I write in a converted basement office that has a door I can close at night.

Happy writing! Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon and in paper format at events. 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

YOUR Book Reviews Warm thanks go to Vronni Ward for sharing her book reviews with us.

If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to: Audible Books I am an avid radio listener here in France; Radio 4 being my channel of choice as I adore the Archers and Women’s Hour. So, when the Internet starts going on the blink, I am at a loss. This encouraged me to give Amazon Audible a go. I downloaded the App and was given three free book credits to start. I went back to some old favourites that we used to play years ago on our family holidays, driving to the south of France with all the children:

JUST WILLIAM by Richmal Crompton

And read by the fabulous Martin Jarvis For adults and children alike this book is just so hilarious. I find the stories act as an instant pick-me-up as William gets into no end of scrapes with his friends... The Outlaws. A great portrait of a boy set in 1920s England and a mirror of the class system.

ROUND THE HORNE The complete Julian and Sandy - Bona Sketches by Barry Took and Marty Feldman Read by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams These comedy sketches, when broadcast by the BBC in the 1960s, drew an audience of 15 million listeners. In 1995, The Guardian placed it in their list of the five greatest shows. The camp pair, Julian and Sandy, present scenarios that are full of gay innuendo all wrapped up in clever word juggling. It swept away decades of homophobia and censorship.

THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS The BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation

Starring Kris Marshall and Katherine Jakeways These world famous diaries are an absolute gem. Samuel Pepys was 26 when he started his diary in 1660. They record his innermost thoughts and are fascinating as a historical document and account of the human condition. Life, lust, marriage, working, drinking, down to what they wore and what they ate are all presented. The description of the Great Fire of London and the frozen river Thames are incredibly moving. These diaries are as fresh and interesting now as they were all those years ago. So, summing up, I am an audible convert. What makes these three audible books great is not only genius writing but the wonderful actors’ voices interpreting them.

by James Luxford

The Charroux Memoir Prize 2019


This month summer gets into full swing as we review dark superheroes, musical fantasies, and talking pets!

Release dates are nationwide in France.

Take a Break - SOLUTIONs

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 (31 July) A sequel to the animated hit which sees a family dog (voiced by Patton Oswalt) struggle to protect his owners’ new child. Just as charming as the original, this sequel is more fragmented than its predecessor, broken into short skits rather than one flowing plot line. However, the laughs come thick and fast, which should be enough to satisfy younger viewers (and some older ones too). There’s also a chance to witness Harrison Ford in his first voice role as a gruff farm dog (a role he’s oddly suited to!).

Easy Crossword: Across: 1. discus 4. rascal 8. happy 9. canvass 10. disco 11. evening 12. unsheathe 15. nirvana 16. sepia 17. latrine 18. event 19. bowler 20. gentle Down: 2. italic 3. Cape Canaveral 5. seventh heaven 6. absent 7. accelerated 13. Figaro 14. ginnel

DIEGO MARADONA (31 July) The genius of Argentinian football is examined by the director of documentaries Amy and Senna. Charting his sporting highs and personal lows, this is an artistic and polished tribute to one of the most mesmerising talents in ‘the beautiful game’. Certain aspects of Maradona’s life are glossed over (particularly his difficult relationship with his son), which makes you wonder how much of a hand the film’s subject has had in tailoring his own story. However, as a testament to troubled greatness this is a fascinating watch.

The competition closes 15 August, with an announcement of the winners in October 2019. You can find out more at www. or contact

Toughie Crossword: Theme: Birds of prey Across: 1. Sparrow 5. hobby 8. eagle 9. kestrel 10. INRI 11. admirals 14. lap 16. uncle 17. eel 19. harriers 20. kite 23. merlins 25. marsh 26. rayon 27. indexed Down: 1. special 2. augur 3. reed 4. wok 5. hostiles 6. barrage 7. yolks 12. decor 13. audition 15. portray 18. leeched 19. Homer 21. Ibrox 22. amid 24. ski

YESTERDAY (3 July) What if you woke up one day and were the only person who remembered The Beatles existed? That’s the novel idea behind Danny Boyle’s new film, about a singer songwriter who becomes the biggest star in the world simply because he’s the only one who remembers the Fab Four’s songs. It’s a sweet romantic comedy, even if it doesn’t really do much with the initial idea. It also offers a charismatic new star in lead actor Himesh Patel, who has a lot of chemistry with his on-screen love interest, Lily James (Cinderella).

The two judges live locally, and both are established authors. Susie Kelly is known for her humorous writing about France and Kenya, with titles such as A perfect Circle, Best Foot Forward and In Foreign Fields - how not to move to France. Gordon Simms won the Biscuit Prize (2012) with his poetry anthology Uphill to the Sea and has written several plays including Stop Press and Zero Contract. Both Judges are looking forward to reading and judging the submissions for the competition, and they wish everybody who enters the best of luck. The judges Susie Kelly and Gordon Simms

Score grader: 0 - 5 They weren’t easy 6 - 10 Very good 11 - 15 Wow! 16 - 18 Legend!! 19 - 20 We are not worthy!!!

BRIGHTBURN (Out Now) A horror film that re-imagines the superhero origin story, where a couple begin to suspect their young son may have powers that he is using for evil. An interesting premise leads to an exciting, gory horror film that subverts both the superhero and horror genres. Elizabeth Banks stands out as the boy’s mother, fighting between maternal instinct and sheer terror at what her son is becoming. It doesn’t quite live up to the potential of its set-up, but is still twice as engaging as most horror movies out there.

by Kate Rose

emoir is the central theme of the new literary prize launched by the Charroux Literary Festival team earlier this year. The competition is for entries in poetry or prose. There are cash prizes for the winners and runners up in each category, and a celebration event planned for the autumn.

Brain Gym: a. New Zealand - Wellington b. Moldova - Chisinau c. Gambia - Banjul d. Panama - Panama City e. El Salvador - San Salvador f. Kiribati - Tarawa g. Bosnia and Herzegovina - Sarajevo h. Luxembourg - Luxembourg City i. Malawi - Lilongwe j. Deux-Sèvres - Niort



look for screenings in ‘VO’ or ‘VOST’ Bressuire Le Fauteuil Rouge: CineChef, Chef-Boutonne: email: Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie: L’échiquier at Pouzauges: Melle cinema: Niort CGR cinema: Niort Moulin du Roc: Parthenay Cinema: and find others at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 17

Vultures in France Life and lifestyle - Part 6

by Howard Needs

here?” However, the Egyptian vulture plays its own, important role in nature’s clean-up squad, stripping the carcass very thoroughly of every remaining bit of meat after the black vultures have finished. The Egyptian vulture is the only vulture present in France that migrates, spending the winter farther south. The fourth species of vulture found in France is the bearded vulture (gypaète barbu), named for the feathers hanging at the sides of its beak. Its adult plumage is mostly brown, turning to grey as the bird ages. The head and belly are lighter and often tinted orange. The eye is surrounded by a red circle, whose evolutionary purpose is unknown to me. The bearded vulture constructs its nest on the cliffs and crags of the river valleys of the south of France. It is last in the chain of carrion consumption. This bird arrives at the scene some days after the others and, at its ease, cracks and opens the bones for the marrow. It also eats bones up to 30cm long, digesting them with its strong stomach acids. It will break larger bones by dropping them from a height onto rocks. It is a threatened species and is present in only small numbers in France.


here are four species of vulture in France, each having its own niche as scavenger and carrion eater.

The griffon vulture (vautour fauve in French) is light brown or fawn in colour, with a white ruff and a somewhat bald, lightly feathered neck finishing (as necks do) in a head covered in soft, white feathers that look more like fur. Griffon vultures are big, with a wing span of 2.6-2.8m and a weight of about 10kg. They live peaceably in colonies and are not migratory. They mate in December and lay a single egg at the beginning of the following year on a nest of twigs, in a protected hollow high up on the rock face. The eggs hatch at 54 days. At four months, the young take to the air. They can live for 50 years in their natural surroundings. Griffon vultures are, in general, the first of the four species to reach a carcass and start eating, since their preferred diet is the soft parts. Harder muscle and tendons are left to the black vultures. The black vulture (vautour moine) is darker and, to my eyes, more menacing looking than the griffon. It has a uniformly dark brown, almost black plumage, with a fully feathered neck and a rather bald head - hence its name in French (the monk vulture). Like that of the griffon, its beak is turned down at the tip, and it has evolved to tear the tougher flesh from a carcass after the griffon has eaten the softer parts. Black vultures usually live in small groups, sometimes mixing with a griffon colony, but they nest in isolated trees, namely large pines. They weigh somewhat less than the griffon but have a slightly larger wing span, reaching almost 3m. The Egyptian vulture (vautour percnoptère) is a smaller bird, weighing 2-2.5kg and having a wing span of 1.60-1.70m, and it has a shorter lifespan of 30 years. More colourful than the previous two, with a black and white body and a yellow/orange face, it is also less impressive. My first reaction when I saw one in the vulture enclosure at the zoo at Doué la Fontaine was, “What’s that doing

These carrion-eating birds are dependant on the death of another animal for food, and their bodies and mode of living have evolved to accommodate this. They need to travel great distances and stay in the air for hours searching for cadavers. Active flying uses too much energy, particularly for a bird that has no dependable food source, and so gliding and soaring have become their mode of locomotion. Powered flight, i.e. the flapping of wings, is seldom used and seems to be an emergency measure. In a single day, they will leave their nests and glide tens or sometimes hundreds of kilometres in search of food. Their gliding speed varies from a sedate 20-30kph to 60-70kph when in a hurry.

In the air, the classical posture is wings wide out, flat and still, and head neatly folded back towards the body. At times, a bird with fully extended head can be seen looking directly down to the ground or at something to the side. Always the head is kept parallel to the ground (and sometimes the tail as well), even when the body and wings are tilted in a banking turn. The bird’s wing tips turn up or down according to the needs of their flight, rather like those of an aircraft. These birds can go weeks without food, and they gorge when they find it. Mostly they search for food in groups, because if a cadaver is found then it is likely to be of some size – for example, a sheep or wild boar. Nothing will be wasted. The griffon vulture opens up the body and eats the various soft parts. Then the black vulture consumes the tougher portions of the soft tissue. Next, the Egyptian vulture picks the last bits off the carcass, leaving the bones for the bearded vulture to break open or digest whole. There is not much nutrition in the bones, so there are fewer bearded vultures. As for the speed with which this happens, we learned about this from a hotel manager whose father had been out hunting with a friend and had brought two deer back to their car. They loaded one into the boot, leaving the other lying on the ground nearby, and went off to have something to eat. They returned to find the carcass on the ground stripped to the bare bones. Howard’s photos at Bioparc Doué-la-Fontaine are of a Black Vulture (top left), a Griffon Vulture (bottom left) and an Egyptian Vulture (right).

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Understan din g a Dre ss Ma kin g Patter n Par t 1 - The Patter n Envelop e to read and understand am frequently asked to explain how ing pattern envelope. If sew all the information printed on a , the ability to understand you want to make your own clothing l. The envelope gives you and locate the information is essentia small space, so lets take a a huge amount of information in a closer look!


Th e envelope fro nt:

will show you what size range and figu aimed at. Some patterns come in a re type the pattern is some in just one, so look carefully. Awide range of sizes, and come up very small in comparison tovintage pattern size will a pattern that takes this into’s sizes, so select American pattern online then don’t If you are buying an forget each size is two down from a UK size. • will indicate if the pattern desi gn is fabric. Making a knit pattern in wov for a woven or a knit as woven fabric has no stretch and en fabric will not work up much too small. Making a wovenyour garment will end a mistake as knit fabric stretches and pattern in knit is also the garment will end up too big. • shows the difficulty level of a patt ern; is for a beginner or advanced sewer. letting you know if it • has the pattern company nam e and number. Handy in today’s digital age the style name or see how other people have tackled it as you can search and and gather some great advice online. • has illustrations or technical sketches and the different style options available.

Money raised for charities by the Get together Association.


has a list of all the extra trimmings (‘no make your garment e.g. how many butttions’) you need to zip needs to be etc. It is always a goo ons, how long your sewing thread at the same time as yourd idea to buy your a good colour match. Tip – If you can’ fabric as you want t quite get the right shade – better lighter than darker! has the fabric quantity guide: this lets you know exactly how much fabric, lining and interfac These guides are usually generous soing fabric you need. budget lay out your pattern pieces if you are on a tight at home to see how much less fabric you can get away with .

ba c k :

This becomes a little more technical, and you will need your glasses! of the garment, the style view back the you show • may ty of pattern pieces. quanti the name or number and and any essential style ption • has a brief garment descri and fit information e.g. ‘the trouser front has a fly front opening’ - you may be put off the pattern at this point! le for • will also be provide you with the fabric types suitab this design. waist, • has a very brief size chart, this may be the bust, ng Selecti fit. to ed intend is size n patter each or hip that s Alway effort. and time much the wrong size can waste so have a tape measure to hand. Just because you usually take a size 12 on the high street does not mean that a size 12 garment, made from a pattern, will fit you.

pe T h e e n ve lo

by Nicola Chadwick

If you have an envelope you don’t understand tak me have a look for you on e a picture and let my blog If anyone has any old dre would be happy to collec ss making patterns they no longer want, I t and send them to a cha that runs dress making cou rity organisation rses for young families. gratefully received. They are always Nicola

by Martin Hughes

ome forty of us, French and British gathered in the mairie in Vasles as the final scene of the unforgettable commemoration event took place. After a warm welcome from the Cultural Conseiller, Richard and Bernie Smith compèred the proceedings bilingually, reminding us of the cooperation between the commune and all the team involved with the production. Special mention should again be made of Vaughan Wells, who conceived the commemoration performance, and Richard who produced it. The president then presented cheques for 203€ each to the local veterans association [UNC], Croix-Rouge, The Royal British Legion and BLESMA. Afterwards we all enjoyed a vin d’honneur, bringing down the final curtain. Photo: Martin presenting the cheque to the Croix-Rouge with the UNC representative in the background

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 19

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers

Now is the time to: • • • • •

‘Hot July brings cooling showers, apricots and gillyflowers’ Sarah Taylor Coleridge


his is a fabulous time in the garden with everything flowering and growing on at the same time. It’s difficult to know what to do outside first!

Gertrude Jekyll, my favourite rose, is flowering her socks off and the perfume is wonderful. She is a beautiful soft, delicate pink colour and in a border right next to the front door, so she’s the first thing I see outside each morning. The Asiatic poppies are at their best with the red petals contrasting with the black centres. I’ll collect the seed this year so I can sow them around the garden.

• • • • •

It has been by far the best year (by my standards anyway!) for peonies; each one I have seen, seems to be bigger, have more flowers and is producing stronger perfume. I have a red one, a pink one and the Bowl of Beauty, which has pink petals and a white fluffy centre. I think there are ten flower heads on it at the moment. The hostas are growing well, especially the blue leaved varieties, which tend to be more slug/snail resistant than some of the greener ones. I must keep an eye on them during really hot spells when the leaves are easily scorched. The largest hedychium has put on a lot of growth and the leaves are beginning to unfurl now; I think they will need repotting at the end of this year. I have been trying to fill any gaps in the beds with small perennial plants such as penstemons and hardy geraniums, these will easily bulk up and provide more colour too.

• • • •

The phlomis (Jerusalem sage) has become enormous and it copes very well with the dry flower bed it is growing in. It flowers right until the first frosts. The flowers are brilliant yellow and quite strange to look at. They grow in whorls around the stem and there are several on each. The foliage is soft and downy and a light grey in colour; each flower is like a miniature snap dragon, and there are many flowers on the plant - the insects love it!

• •

If the weather stays very dry, set the mower blades to a higher cut so the grass doesn’t get scalped and avoid using high nitrogen fertilisers which help plants to produce more green growth. Make sure all trees, especially those that have only been in the ground for a year or so, are well watered and fed. Cut hardy geraniums right back to ground level so that they produce a new flush of flowers later in the year. They are brilliant plants, but can become leggy. Liquid feed container plants regularly, as they soon use up the fertilizer in the potting compost. Deadhead roses and look out for black spot on leaves. If the leaves are infected already, remove and burn them. Don’t put them on the compost heap. This treatment will not stop the disease altogether, as once plants are infected the spores are difficult to get rid of. There are lots of fungicides available which will control the spread, but if you are trying to be eco-friendly these may not be for you. If you haven’t divided your irises already there is still time to do so. Don’t forget to plant the divided rhizomes on the surface of light, sandy or even gravelly soil. Tie in new growth on sweet peas, removing excess tendril growth to conserve plant energy. Keep picking the flowers and more will be produced. Mulch to retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Take semi-ripe cuttings (about 10-15cm) of lavender, thyme, rosemary and sage from stems of this seasons growth. Still keep a look out for red lily beetle larvae, usually contained in the black squashy blobs on the leaves. Clematis, honeysuckle, roses and laurel, all need regular watering to prevent the development of powdery mildew in dry weather. My comfrey plants have powdery mildew at the moment, it is common in dry weather. I have been searching for an eco-friendly treatment for it, and found a recipe that uses one tablespoon of baking powder to half a teaspoon of liquid soap or horticultural oil. Add to a gallon of water and use as a spray on the lower leaves of the plant. The advice suggested testing it first to make sure it doesn’t burn the plants. I’ll try it and let you know if it works! Prune out fruited canes of summer raspberries and cut back side shoots of redcurrants, gooseberries and whitecurrants. Prune weigela that has finished flowering, to strong side shoots. Cut back lupins and delphiniums when they have finished flowering. Remove side shoots from standard plants such as fuchsia and hibiscus. Tidy up alchemilla molllis as it will be very floppy by now. This will revive the plant and it will produce new growth and flowers. Remove flowers from coleus plants to encourage new, colourful leaf growth.

Deadhead roses (bottom left picture) and look out for black spot. Cut back hardy geraniums (bottom right) for a fresh flush of flowers.

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Tie in sweet peas (above left) and remove tendrils. Plant French marigolds (centre picture) to attract pollinators. A good year for peonies (right).

• • • • •

Fuchsia cuttings taken a few weeks ago will have rooted by now and if roots have appeared at the drainage holes of their current pot they are definitely ready to pot on. Only use a pot a couple of sizes larger as the roots don’t develop well if it is too large. Cuttings can be taken from many tender plants now, including osteospermum, helichrysum and pelargoniums. Pinks, dianthus and carnations can be propagated now by layering. Choose a non-flowering stem near the base of the plant, strip off the leaves except for those about 10cm from the tip. Make an angled cut just below this, don’t cut all the way through the stem. Bury this in the earth next to the parent plant or push into a pot containing a mixture of sand and compost. New roots will have formed in about five weeks, then it can be separated. Plant up a hanging basket with nasturtiums. They are colourful and will flower right through until the first frosts. They are also great to plant at the base of bean poles in the veg patch as they will attract the blackfly away from your precious bean crop. An added bonus, nasturtium leaves and flowers are edible. Deadhead plants in hanging baskets for a continuing display and feed well. Dig up tulip bulbs to store and dry ready for next autumn. Sow spring cabbage, turnips, chicory, fennel and oriental vegetables. Remove excess side shoots and leaves that may be shading fruit on grapevines. Inspect tomato and potato plants every week for any signs of

• • • • • •

blight. Bordelaise mixture, which is a copper based fungicide, is widely used here as a treatment for this. Tomatoes suffer from ‘blossom end rot’. The skins can split when water levels fluctuate. Water consistently. Thin out the top fruit on fruit trees and the overall harvest will be of better quality. Prune cherry and plum trees after fruiting. Remove weak or crossing branches and thin out slightly to allow air to circulate. Treat woolly aphids on apples by scrubbing off the white coating with a brush.

Lift spring planted garlic as soon as the leaves turn yellow. Leave the bulbs to dry in the sun or in a dry, well ventilated place. Place netting over vegetable crops to prevent pigeons having a free feast. Lift first early potatoes by the end of the month, when second earlies will become ready for harvesting. If you have a pond, remove spent flowers and foliage from aquatic and marginal plants to keep the water fresh and to stop debris accumulating. Plant French marigolds to attract hoverflies which are useful pollinators in the garden. Butterflies enjoy the nectar from lots of garden plants including, buddleia, verbena, nepeta, lavender, sedums, hyssop, and eupatorium. Planting some of these will ensure that butterflies will always be attracted to your garden.

Enjoy whatever you are doing in the garden…….don’t forget the hat and some sunscreen on those gloriously hot days…….and drink lots of cooling liquids.

Greenfingers The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 21

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Small colour Advert from 35,17€ ttc per month

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 23

Where We Live...



Laguiole (AOC) This unpasteurised cows milk cheese, pronounced ‘lahyull’, is like many things in life: It gets better with age! Named after the village in the © wikicommons/Jesmade Aubrac mountains, in the Midi-Pyrénées, it was traditionally made in shepherds’ huts, or burons. As time went by, preparation practices and know-how handed down by one generation to the next improved and Laguiole became famous as a unique cheese that ages well. According to local history, Laguiole was first made at a monastery where the monks taught their production methods to the buronniers. During that time it was necessary to make a cheese that would last so people, including pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela, could nourish themselves with a quality product year-round. The monks made a kind of bread and cheese-based soup to feed travellers who showed up at the monastery gates asking for ‘something’ (aliquid in Latin) to eat. Aliquid became aliquot and then aligot in the Occitan language. In the 19th century, potatoes replaced the bread, resulting in the dish we know today - aligot. Production reached its peak in the early 20th century, when the summer migration of herds and herdspeople lasted just 142 days, from May 25 to October 13. A cow produced only 50kg of cheese. Not only did the cows of the Aubrac give a maximum of three to four litres of milk per day, but cheese production was also limited to the period of migration. Despite that, 1200 buronniers would produce 770 tonnes of high-quality Laguiole each summer. Laguiole has a thick, greyish-orange and natural rind, beneath which lies a firm but supple, straw-coloured interior. The aromatic, rich and creamy texture of the inside straight away melts in the mouth, unveiling a sharp yet slightly sour flavour. By the late 1950s, just 55 burons were still active, making a mere 25 tonnes of cheese per year. In 1960, however, a group of young farmers set up the Jeune Montagne co-operative to revive production and allow small farmers to make a profit by helping them establish themselves, update their equipment and replenish their livestock. Today it is the main producer of Laguiole cheese (two farm producers also make AOP Laguiole cheese) and production is back up to 700 tonnes a year. Just a year after the co-operative was formed, Laguiole was granted AOC status, crowning the efforts of the co-op and the producers’ association and boosting the fortunes of an entire region. Laguiole cheese had been saved.

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Ianthe Roper Kisses, massages, wine and song! Ianthe Roper has sung in choirs, both large and small, for most of her life and it was something she wanted to carry on doing when she moved to France in 2003. Little did she realise the culture shock that lay in wait...


ess than six months after her arrival, she saw a poster for a concert given by the Deux-Sèvres Chamber Choir in a local church at Brioux-surBoutonne, so she went along and was encouraged to find she knew quite a few of the pieces sung by the choir. Even better for Ianthe, the programme mentioned the choir was looking for new singers, so she contacted the conductor and, after an audition that was fairly informal and friendly, she was accepted. “I imagined the Deux-Sèvres choir would be much like those I had sung with in the UK, where practices were weekly and fairly intensive. You turned up and after a quick ‘hello’, you got on with the singing. Any chat was saved for the pub afterwards. Often there was barely enough time to practice all the pieces for the next concert, so some performances were more like a singthrough, noses in our copies rather than watching the conductor. How often were we told off for that!” By contrast, Ianthe’s first rehearsals with the choir (www.choeurdechambre79. fr) came as quite a culture shock. “The choir only rehearses twice a month – one Wednesday evening and one Saturday. Very few French people learn to read music, so learning new pieces can be time-consuming. But I was impressed by how quickly the choir could sing from memory, something we rarely did in the UK.

by Mick Austin

“The pace is also very different. For the first half-hour of rehearsal everyone greets everyone else with the customary ‘bise’. That’s followed by a thorough warm-up, which can involve massaging each other (great after a day in the garden!), stretching and exercises that combine both voice and movement. Finally, we get down to singing. “Then there’s the eating and drinking. After an hour or so singing, there is a ‘pause’ during which food is offered round. The Saturday rehearsals also include a meal break, which lasts at least an hour and a half. Snacking is not something the French do. Everyone brings along a starter, main course or dessert, usually homecooked. Those who can’t cook (and there aren’t many) bring the cheese. Everything is shared. “Being English, I used to wait politely until somebody offered me something but I quickly learned that if I didn’t want to starve I just had to dive in and help myself to whatever I liked. As this is France, there is also wine on the table. No wonder that in the rehearsal immediately following a meal break concentration sometimes seems to be lacking.” The concert in the Brioux church had been what Ianthe considered to be a typical choir programme - mostly sacred music performed in front of the altar. She was soon to discover that was by no means the only way the choir performed. While many of its concerts are in churches, others are in public halls, châteaux, or even outdoors. “Soon after I joined, the choir started work on a programme of ‘bucolic’ songs celebrating nature, the seasons and drinking wine – this is France, after all. The programme was performed in gardens, where we would sometimes lurk behind bushes and trees and surprise passers-by. Or by the riverside in competition with the ducks, or even wandering along the street.” Ianthe readily confesses that her initial reaction was one of some discomfort. “This wasn’t ‘proper’ choral singing! For me, memorising music wasn’t easy and I found navigating round a rose garden while reading from a score just a little hazardous. Our conductor, Anne Koppe, is always tolerant of those who can’t do without the music. But it was inconvenient having to carry folders of paper around during our more nomadic concerts and eventually I came to realise that a bit of memory training was well worth the effort. How liberating it was being able to sing without having my nose in the copy. “The choir members are not (bar one or two exceptions) professional musicians, but we are still encouraged to improve our vocal technique. A small subsidy is available for individual lessons

with a local singing teacher and, over the years, I have benefitted greatly from that opportunity. The teacher works closely with the choir and group workshops are sometimes organised during rehearsal time. These can produce remarkable results. We may not have great voices individually, but together the sound is pretty impressive. Also, there are no ‘prima donnas’ – we are all equals, which was not always the case in UK choirs I’d sung with in the past!” When Ianthe arrived in France she had what she calls ‘passable French’ as she’d studied it at school and could happily get by in shops and restaurants. But following the conductor’s directions was more challenging and it was to take her years to get her head around French musical terms. “Why do they have to be so different from the English? But what I missed out on most was being able to follow the good-humoured banter that is a regular part of rehearsals. My fellow singers did their best to make me feel included by explaining what was happening, but I was very much the outsider struggling to keep up.” In 2010, the choir was invited to sing in the grounds of a château in the north of Deux-Sèvres. “We imagined ourselves strolling around the manicured gardens of an elegant stately home, so we had quite a shock when we found the château in question was in fact a ruined medieval fortress which appeared to be home to a hippie colony! “We performed the programme with our usual enthusiasm, but the people around us didn’t seem to take much notice. In fact, there was a soup competition being held there and everyone was busy producing weird concoctions in makeshift kitchens, surrounded by clouds of flies. Given the somewhat dubious hygiene, we weren’t too keen to sample the final results! “We did, however, eventually get to perform in a genuine Renaissance château. The château at Oiron used to host an annual summer music event and we’ve taken part on several occasions. There you could wander round the grounds and inside the château and see and hear a myriad of different groups performing classical, rock, jazz, country and much more. The château also has its surprises, though. It’s a museum of modern art and we would find ourselves singing in rooms with camel skeletons, pitchforks stuck in the walls and strange coats of arms made from tailor’s dummies and bits of shopping trolley!” Ianthe moved to France 16 years ago. For many years she’d dreamed of running her own business and affordable property prices here gave her the idea of running her own training/personal development centre as in the UK she’d worked as a trainer and

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 25

...A look at what makes France so special

management consultant. But, as often happens, things didn’t work out exactly as planned so instead she ended up with a large house that she rented out to holidaymakers, particularly extended families and groups of friends. That, combined with some work teaching English to the French, would keep her more or less afloat financially until she was eligible for a UK pension.

“My initial alarm was quickly dispelled when I realised that over the years my French had become good enough to follow committee proceedings and join in the discussions. Now I have a much better understanding of how the choir is run and I have a say in its future activities. Best of all, during rehearsals I am no longer sitting on the sidelines but can join in with the banter.”

“Running a holiday business meant I was often busy at weekends, especially in summer when many of the choir’s concerts took place. Consequently, my attendance was patchy in the early years. What didn’t help was that I lived in the very south of Deux-Sèvres and had over an hour’s drive to get to rehearsals. Anne, the conductor, was very understanding and would let me take part in concerts even if I’d missed rehearsals. And I was very touched by the enthusiastic greetings I got when I did eventually turn up and the comments about how pleased they were that I was singing with them. It made me feel the extra effort was worthwhile.”

This year the choir started work on a new project, one Ianthe admits is probably their most ambitious to date. It is a fully staged version of the baroque opera Dido and Aeneas by the British composer Henry Purcell, in collaboration with professional soloists and a small group of instrumentalists. “I admit I had my doubts when Anne, our conductor, first suggested the idea. I argued that we are a chamber choir specialising in unaccompanied choral music, not an opera chorus that spends most of its time standing in the background while the soloists take the limelight.”

In 2016, Ianthe decided to put her house on the market. She had been doing holiday rentals for more than 12 years and it had developed into quite a successful business. But she was now a pensioner and felt the time had come to hand over to somebody younger and fitter. Within a few weeks she had a buyer, so began the search for a new home. “I knew exactly what I wanted. Somewhere close to my work and leisure activities, with space for my family of cats and dogs but easy to maintain. Eventually I found the perfect property, still in the Deux-Sèvres but an hour north of my first French home.

But any misgivings she had soon vanished when they started rehearsals. “The choir plays a major part in the proceedings and is very much an equal partner with the soloists. During the opera we are courtiers, witches and sailors in quick succession and the choir is entering into these roles with its customary enthusiasm. I also realised that the choir’s ability to memorise music is a real advantage, as we can quickly abandon our scores and get into character. Anne is sensibly taking things slowly. The performances, which will be given in various locations in Deux-Sèvres, will not take place until the second half of 2020. In the meantime, we continue to give regular concerts of more conventional choral music.”

She moved into her new house in Pamplie in February 2017 and found herself less than 15 minutes away from the choir’s regular rehearsal venues. “Being right on the doorstep - and with no gîte to run – I now had no excuse for being late for choir practice! I had a big house-warming party in May when it was warm enough to use the garden and invited everyone I knew, English and French. Almost half the choir came and live music was provided by one of our previous members who is now part of a very talented band. My choir colleagues also sang and processed round the garden in what looked a bit like a house blessing ceremony. I felt I had well and truly arrived!” Ianthe still had a full teaching schedule but found herself with more work when early last year she was elected to the choir’s committee. “I must have scratched my head at the wrong moment during the AGM. Even more alarmingly, I was appointed ‘tresorière adjointe’ (deputy treasurer) despite my protestations that I was useless at maths. I then found myself not only participating fully in the choir’s activities, but also helping to run it.

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The Dido and Aeneas project has also given Ianthe another new responsibility, that of language coach. “This is not the first time the choir has sung in English and many members speak the language well. But this is 17th century poetry, which is not easy at the best of times. I’m regularly asked to explain the meaning of certain words and am beginning to discover the limits of my own knowledge. For instance, what exactly is a ‘bower’? * This autumn, work starts on staging the production. “We don’t yet know what the stage director has in mind, but some interesting ideas are starting to float around. Dido and Aeneas was originally performed with dances between each act and our production might include some traditional French dances. No doubt there will be other French touches to this very English work. The project is turning out to be a real fusion of English and French cultures and will hopefully include the best of both.” So is the choir becoming more ‘English’ or is it that Ianthe has become more ‘French’? “I think it’s a bit of both. One thing is for sure, though. Since I joined the Deux-Sèvres Chamber Choir I have lost my prejudices about what ‘proper’ choral singing is. “The French have a real talent for combining different art forms: Music with movement, spoken word and visual effects. And I’ve learned how enriching this can be. No longer do I think ‘Oh no, I can’t do this!’ Instead, I see each new project as an opportunity to try something new, even if at times it takes me out of my comfort zone. Shared experiences create bonds and many of my fellow singers are now close friends. I have greatly improved my French into the bargain. “Our conductor, Anne, thinks very highly of English choral singing and would be delighted if more British expats joined the choir. At the moment we only have vacancies for tenors and basses, but if there are any experienced choristers out there who are tempted to share the experience, they would be very welcome. “Singing in a French choir is a great way to integrate, develop skills, make new friends and – above all – have a lot of fun!” * Note: In this instance, a bower is an arbour or a shady recess.


On this month

by Anna Shaw

July 24, 1802: French playwright and novelist Alexandre Dumas was born in Villiers-Cotterêts, France. He adopted his surname from his grandmother, a former Haitian slave. His works include The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers and they have been translated into more than 100 languages and adapted for numerous films. Dumas rose to the rank of general in Napoleon’s army at the age of 31 – the highest rank of any black man in a European army. He fell out with Napoleon over his Egypt campaign and was jailed for almost two years and died shortly after his release, in 1870, in Puys, France. July 19, 1834: French impressionist painter Edgar Degas was born in Paris. Best known for his paintings of dancers in motion. At the age of 36, Degas began experiencing visual problems, which worsened throughout his life. July 10, 1871: French author Marcel Proust was born near Paris. “Happiness,” he wrote in The Past Recaptured, “is beneficial for the Degas - self portrait body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” July 6, 1885: Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) gives the first successful anti-rabies inoculation to Joseph Meister, a nine-year-old boy who had been bitten by an infected dog. The success of the vaccine brings Pasteur immediate fame and begins an international fundraising campaign to build the Pasteur Institute in Paris. July 8, 1943: During the Nazi occupation of France, Resistance leader Jean Moulin died following his arrest and subsequent torture by the Gestapo. He had been sent by the Allies into France in 1942 to unite the fledgling Underground movement. In June of 1943, he was arrested in Lyon, tortured for eleven days but betrayed no one. He died aboard a train while being transferred to a concentration camp. July 2, 1990: Disgruntled farmers had already disrupted day one of the Tour de France by scattering branches, straw bales and diesel oil along the route. On day four of the Tour (Poitiers to Nantes) on hearing that the farmers were planing trouble in the village of Sainte-Gemme, according to legend, a young teenager was so appalled by their protest he jumped on his 50cc bike just outside the village and invited the peloton to follow him on the back roads, bypassing the blockage. So, for a surreal 32km the Tour was led by a teenager on a scooter. July 25, 2000: An Air France Concorde crashes soon after taking off from Charles De Gaulle airport, plunging to the ground near a hotel in Gonesse. A huge fireball killed the nine crew members, 96 passengers and four people on the ground. An investigation revealed that the plane that had taken off just before Concorde, had dropped a piece of metal on to the runway. When the Concorde ran over it, its tyre was shredded and thrown into one of the engines and fuel tanks, causing the fire.

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 gîte business at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 27

Communications The best and least expensive PC upgrade you can get


ast month I advised that the support for Windows 7 was ending in the first quarter of 2020, unless you have an enterprise version. Since then I have upgraded a couple of customers to Windows 10, one desktop PC was about three years old and had seemed quite slow to the customer concerned, so I recommended adding the new type of hard disk drive that does not have any mechanics in it. These are called ‘solid state disks’ (SSD) and the price for these has dropped to a very affordable level. In the case above the PC already had a 500GB hard disk drive, but the customer concerned was using a little less than 20% of the drive capacity at around 85GB. So instead of wiping their existing hard disk drive, I advised that they purchase a 120GB SSD. The cost of this was less than 25€ from, a great French website for all sorts of things including tech stuff, white goods, TVs mobile phones, clothes et al. Prices are similar at and This meant that I simply had to install the new hard disk and load it with Windows 10 and the programs that they used, such as Word, Google Chrome and their antivirus of course. Once I had finished loading these items, I reconnected their existing hard disk drive and enabled them to use this as the ‘data’ drive with their documents, pictures, music and videos on it, rather than transfer them to the smaller drive I had just fitted. The result was beyond their expectations. The PC seemed to have been rejuvenated! It was very fast to boot up and very quick to load their programs. I believe that they will get at least another three years of use from this PC. I think that many of my customers would benefit from an upgrade like this, whether it is a desktop or laptop PC, the whole job took less than two hours and the good news is that you can still get a free version of Windows 10. On a laptop PC it is unlikely that you can fit two hard disks in them, most are designed for one, so, it may be necessary to get an SSD that has a greater capacity, say a 240GB. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised as the price was only 32€. However, I did need to spend a little longer moving their data from their old mechanical hard disk drive to the new SSD, so the task took two and a half hours but the result was once again like giving the four year old laptop a new lease of life. It became, I would say possibly three times quicker overall. The other major benefit on a laptop PC is the fact that because the solid state disks do not have any motors in them, they use significantly less power making the battery life much longer. The benefits of having a drive without mechanical parts means that they are more reliable, faster and use considerably less power, oh and lighter as well. If your PC is over two years old, even if it is running Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 and you still have a mechanical drive, you should seriously consider this upgrade.

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by Ross Hendry

Should you decide to upgrade, make sure you look for a decent brand, I chose a Samsung Evo model for my desktop upgrade (as their mechanical hard drives were very reliable when they made them), but other good brands are SanDisk, Toshiba, Western Digital, Crucial and Kingston. There are many Chinese variants available and I am sure they are OK as well, and in some cases less expensive than the brands I have mentioned, but I do not have any experience with these drives so I cannot recommend them, this does not mean that they are not worth trying, I just prefer to trust my data to something I know. Do ensure when you are looking to check the speed of the drives, especially the transfer rates, you want them to be as high as possible at above 500MB/s read and 400MB/s write, the higher the better. If you have ever loaded a PC with Windows, or Linux then this upgrade is well within your capabilities, if not I am sure that your PC technician will be able to provide this service for you, why not ask them for a quotation. If you do decide to have a go yourself and would like any further information, please do not hesitate to email or telephone me for advice, I do not charge for telephone or email support of this kind. In any event good luck with the upgrade.

Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 44 years experience in communications, computer technology and direct marketing. (see advert below).

Letter from Blighty (June)

Dear Frankie


aster, Ascension Day, two bank holidays (not complaining but why two such holidays within the space of three weeks?), the Chelsea Flower Show and the 75th D-Day anniversary celebrations are all now safely behind us. Summer is here and that’s official. That said, after a very dry and sometimes warm spring, we have suddenly at last acquired a spell of prolonged and badly needed rain (hurrah!), accompanied by some pretty cool and unsummery temperatures and breezes. Have a thought for those who are taking their holidays in the UK at this time. It reminds me forcibly of childhood holidays many years ago ‘enjoying a dip’ in the icy waters of the North Sea at Whitby while my parents, swathed in rugs and scarves, urged us children ever onwards from a sedentary position on the beach. The rather glum atmosphere produced by the weather is worsened by the continuing unresolved cloud of Brexit still hanging over the country. We have acquired a stay of execution till 31 October but most of that time will be taken up by the current search for a new Leader of the Conservative party and successor to Theresa May. There now follows a bizarre procedure involving the whittling down of ten candidates to two by Tory MPs and then the 160,000 members of the Tory party deciding between the two ‘winners’. What a weird way to appoint a new Prime Minister. The rest of us just stand around and hope that someone sensible emerges, apparently by the end of July. As usual, I have been combing the newspapers in the last month for items which you may have missed or which tweaked my funny bone. Here are my findings for this month. An 80 mile wide cloud of ladybirds was seen flying over southern California. The Leicestershire WI, who have been supplying a local hospice with cakes for 40 years, has been told it must stop, unless its members register their kitchens as food outlets. A painting of Haystacks by Monet has been sold for £86.5 million, a record for an impressionist painting. A variety of Elm, resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, has been developed and was launched by Dame Judi Dench at Chelsea. The Spice Girls (sans Posh) are on tour again. A baby, called Sabie, born after only 23 weeks, weighed only 8.6oz (a world record). Nicknamed ‘Tiny but Mighty’ by nursing staff, Sabie, now weighing five pounds, has gone home safely. Rabbit Awareness Week began on the first of June. Those who have died during the month include Ken Kercheval (aged 83), who starred as Cliff Barnes and JR’s arch enemy in Dallas. Judith Kerr (aged 93), the children’s author and illustrator, most famous for The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Niki Lauda (aged 70), world champion racing driver, who survived a horrendous crash in 1976 and yet went on to regain the Formula 1 title. Bob Hawke (aged 89), charismatic Prime Minister of Australia from 1983-91 and well known for his love of beer, women and cricket. Freddie Starr (aged 76), the gifted but unpredictable comic who ‘was a true clown and could sing like Elvis’. The infamous headline in the Sun claiming that ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’ was wholly untrue. Do you remember the days of the telegram where the skill was to keep the price per word down by being creatively brief? The two most famous examples are (a) the exchange between a foreign editor and an idle correspondent, ‘Why unnews?’. ‘Unnews good news’. ‘Unnews unjob’. And (b) Robert Benchley’s cable to his editor at the New Yorker on arrival in Venice, `Streets full of water. Please advise’. Those were the days! Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 29

Food & Drink How Liquids Can Liquidate You


he French have many inventions to their name. I could cite frivolities such as the creation of aspirin in 1853 by Charles Gerhardt, the tuberculosis vaccine by Calmette and Guérin in 1921, or inflatable tyres for cars by Edouard Michelin in 1895. But let’s get serious. I’m talking the bra by Herminie Cadolle in 1889, the little black dress by Coco Chanel in the 1920s, the bikini by Louis Réard in 1946, and of course the fixed price lunch by who-knows-who, whoknows-when. The help yourself buffet, the specials of the day, cheese, dessert, all for around 12-13€. Including… wine. Now I’m not suggesting for a second that the wine you get with such a meal is anything more than a washer-downer, a little pick-me-up in the middle of what might be a tedious day. It probably tastes familiar as it comes from the same box you buy at the local supermarket. No. The subject of my rant today is the kind of wine you get from a wine list, the dreaded carte des vins, in a restaurant you book for a special occasion, and more specifically the cost of such wine. I want to help you avoid places that are taking the mick and espouse those with honest pricing. I assume that all the grown-ups reading this understand that most cafés, brasseries and restaurants make most of their profit from liquids. Let’s start by getting water out of the way. Don’t buy bottled water because the waiter asked you nicely. Ask for a pichet d’eau which comes straight from the tap, won’t cost you anything, and won’t kill you. Beer is also a milk cow if you see what I mean. If you are attended to by a proper sommelier/ère, make full use of him or her. He/she knows the wine list a million times better than you, so shut the book and ask for advice. Local wines not only go with local dishes but will be cheaper. Don’t hover a finger over the Bordeaux section of the list if you’re in Alsace and eating sauerkraut; your wine waiter will on the one hand be dying slowly inside while on the other be willing you, ‘Spock-like’, to trust his advice. Do so. That’s my advice. Tell him what you’re going to be eating (actually he should know already) and look up at him, trusting as a child. He will give you several options at different prices. (Bear in mind he will already have your measure, having clocked your, clothing and footwear. Never underestimate footwear.) The prices of the same or similar wines can vary markedly from restaurant to restaurant. Let me explain why. The two key factors are where the restaurateur bought the wine, and what the French grandly call the ‘coefficient’, otherwise known as the mark-up. The most cost-efficient way for the patron to buy bottles is direct from the producer from whom he will get a ‘professional’ price, i.e. even cheaper than if you or I pitched up at the vineyard wallet in hand. All well and good, but it’s not difficult to see that demand can far exceed supply. To take an extreme example, if said patron wants a few Romanée-Conti to round out the eye-watering, jaw-dropping end of his

list, he’s not going to get it from the producer unless he’s on their very exclusive allocation. So, he has to go to the secondary market: private individuals who are looking to sell off part of their cellar, a caviste, or wine auction. All of these significantly increase the base cost. Then apply the coefficient. This is not just a case of ‘think of a number’ while rubbing your hands gleefully. Given that liquids make your profit, and you can’t make a profit without customers, you have to set a coefficient that covers your costs-plus-profit and doesn’t scare your potential clientele. Not an easy balancing act. To quote Pierre Vila Palleja, a restaurateur at the Petit Sommelier in Paris: “I recently had a table of six connoisseurs who drank several bottles. At the end of the meal one of them said to me ‘we always eat well chez vous, the service was perfect, we got great advice and the glassware was spot on. Just one fly in the ointment – the wines were a bit expensive’. I replied ‘so, you were happy with everything, your reception, service, glassware? Well all that has to be paid for. My staff are on full-time contracts and I pay them more than the average. And good glassware costs money’”.1 This strikes me as a quintessentially haughty Parisian retort, but you can see his point. But at the end of the day, don’t feel too hard done by. Most of my American clients find the wine list prices here less than they would have to pay at a wine shop back home, let alone at a restaurant. That’s gotta be one of the reasons you’re here, right? The final liquid: coffee. I never understood why this is never, but never, included in the set lunch. Now I’ve had it explained to me. It goes like this. A portion of coffee needed to make an espresso is six grams, a kilo packet of Café Gilbert can be bought for under 10€ at a wholesaler. If you sell a cup for 2€ you’ve covered your costs after just five cups, with a total profit of over 300€ per kilo of coffee. Never again will I dis the profession of barista. Wine type of the month Yes, after eight years of writing these pieces I’ve decided on a nouveauté. The wine world is nothing if not conservative. It’s kind of a dare. I introduce a type of wine you might not have tried and, well, encourage you to have a go. So, welcome with open arms and minds Jurançon Moelleux. Jurançon is an area in the deep south-west near to Pau. Moelleux on a label always refers to a sweet wine. Search it out at your local supermarket or caviste and try with a crème brulée, pineapple, or, yummiest of all, mango. ________________________ 1 From ‘La Revue du Vin de France’, May 2019

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or

Nice shoes!

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

by John Sherwin

Cherry picking


by Jacqueline Brown

here is nothing quite as unpleasant as water dripping down your neck as you reach into the leaves on a cherry tree, picking the ripe fruit in the rain, knowing if you don’t it will rot and be wasted. While cherry season might be one of my favourite times of the year, cherry picking in the rain most certainly isn’t on my list of top ten experiences. I was so hopeful for the harvest this year, there seemed to be plenty of fruits, there had been enough rain to ensure they were a good size and at last the sun was out to ripen them. I checked on the Friday, not quite ready, more unsettled weather on the Saturday and by Sunday, disaster, the warm, damp conditions meant they had begun to rot. The next few days saw me picking what I could, come rain or shine, my fingers getting stickier and more stained by the day. Then began the ritual of washing, stoning, halving and oven-drying them, my trusty cherry stoner clinging on valiantly despite the fatigued plastic, decorating my kitchen with specks of cherry juice. I’m happy with the jewel-like dried cherries I’ve squirreled away to enjoy on my cereal over winter and thankfully, that was just the first tree, surely, we are now due enough sunshine to ensure the harvest of the other trees will be warm not wet. I don’t often get fed up with the weather, accepting that we don’t live in Provence, so can’t really expect wall to wall sunshine in April and May, but we are now approaching summer and the steely grey skies, hurricane winds and heavy rains have no place in my summer. As an avid bookworm, my reading location of choice should by now be my reclining garden chair, in a shady spot under the walnut tree, when in fact I’m still to be found curled into the armchair, with a

fleecy blanket over my legs. The weeds however seem to be happy; the grass grows by the day and there are not enough hours to keep the garden and veggie plot under control, even with Ed home from uni to help me out. Like the fruit on my trees, I need some sunshine and soon. Comfort food, usually only necessary in the cold, dark days of winter, is still a regular in my kitchen, where salads and light meals have normally taken over by now. I’ve found myself giving in to the cravings for the rich and creamy almost-meat-free risotto (a homemade bone stock will always form part of my risotto recipe) and spicy vegetable stews with beans and piment d’Espelette, sourced from our recent Pyrenean adventure. I have, however, drawn the line at Tartiflette, as I have my seasonal standards to maintain. I’m dreaming of days when all meals contain freshly picked produce and are eaten in a shady spot in the garden and our chilled apéros are served in the sun every evening. They can’t be far off now, can they? Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 31

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres

by Sue Burgess



by Sue Burgess

n the north of the Deux-Sèvres, the commune of Saint-Généroux is crossed by a tributary of the river Loire, the Thouet. The town is situated at the crossroads of the D145 and the D147, six kilometres north of Airvault and 12 kilometres south-east of Thouars. The D121 passes by the commune on its western side. In 2017, the commune was given the two flowers label (deux fleurs) by the Conseil National des Villes et Villages Fleuris of France. The church of Saint-Généroux has been classified as a historical monument since 1846. It is one of the oldest of the Poitou region and dates from the 10th century. Along with the church at Tourtenay, it is the only one in the region to have architectural features dating from the 9th century. There was certainly a church here before the 10th century. The church is an old priory of the abbey of Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes. The sanctuary was probably built on the site of the tomb of the monk Generosus who later was to become Saint Généroux. His saint’s day is celebrated on 16 July. Generosus was Roman by birth. The reasons why he left Italy are unknown. He certainly wanted, in his search for solitude, to find a peace and quiet that his native land no longer enjoyed, having been ruined by Barbarian invasions. The reputation of Saint Hilaire, attracted Generosus to the Poitou and he joined Léonégisile, another foreigner who had come to the Poitou with the desire to find the perfection described in the Gospels. Guided by this pious leader, Generosus became a monk. When Léonégisile died, the community was entrusted to Generosus. In a village close to the abbey, Generosus founded, during the 5th century, a priory whose church became the parish church which later took the name of Saint Généroux in the 16th century. The body of Saint Généroux was buried in the church and remained here until the church was profaned and pillaged. The relics and decorations were dispersed. The church, which was fortified, was the only one in the area to escape the ravages of the Normans against whom the inhabitants of the village defended themselves courageously. According to tradition and legend, Saint Généroux, left the monastery at Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes and took refuge on the banks of the Thouet in order to be able to devote his life to prayer and meditation. His virtue attracted disciples and then the miracles accomplished around his tomb brought people to the area. This settlement is said to be the origin of the town. The church was altered in the 12th century and restored in the 19th (rebuilding of the belltower wall between 1892 and 1893). The church of Saint-Généroux is a precious example of PreRomanesque architecture based on a simple plan with a single nave separated from the sanctuary by a wall of three arches. The capitals of the choir date from the medieval period and are equally rare. The building is bare and the only decoration is the sequencing and order of the stones. The ruins of the old convent can be seen around the church.

Main photo: the Roman bridge at Saint-Généroux. Inset photo: the view of the church from the bridge.

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There is a Roman bridge over the river Thouet. It was constructed by the monks of Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes during the 12th and 13th centuries. It is composed of five arches. Two of them allow pedestrians to stand to one side to let traffic pass. The bridge is 126m long and is covered with an 80m long paved roadway which makes it remarkable. The bridge has been listed as a historical monument since December 1926. Famous families of the town and a bit of history: • It is possible that Guyart de Noirtaire, who was assassinated in 1332, was the Lord of Noirtaire en Saint-Généroux, but there is no written evidence to confirm this theory. His assassination was provoked by Louis de Thouars and Jean de la Forest. The latter was a squire and landowner and Lord of Sainte Verge. • On 6 September 1383, De Chausseroye Payen, a knight and Lord of Airvault, married Marguerite de la Porte, Lady of Breuil-de-Geay (near Saint-Varent). At that time the Breuil de Saint-Généroux belonged to Moncontour and consequently to the castle of Saumur. Payen served in the king’s army. • In 1569 the only important road was three kilometres away and went from Irais to Douron. It was the road from Airvault to Moncontour, which was the scene of a bloody battle. • In 1638, François Brion, a doctor of medicine and Lord of Noirtaire en Saint-Généroux brought money to the town. • In 1664, under the feudal system, more than 30 inhabitants of the parish declared their goods and wealth to Artus Gouffier, the Duke of Rouannais, Baron of Gonnord, Moncontour and Cursay, Lord of Oiron, Saint-Généroux and other places. • 1782 Saint-Généroux personnified the little feudal town ruled by several lords and had a population which grew from century to century and was almost as big as Saint-Jouin. • In 1790, Saint-Généroux, which had been for centuries part of the Duchy of Anjou, became a commune of the Deux-Sèvres. La Fontaine d’Argentine The name comes from the Celtic argento which refers to a deposit of silver. A pump was set up at one of the springs and according to the inhabitants the water was always fresh and never dried up. The pump was made in wrought iron and there is a lion’s head sculpted on it. The washhouse is situated on the banks of the Thouet near the Roman bridge on private land. Le Château des Granges The Château des Granges gets its name from the Des Granges Cathus family. Jean Cathus, Lord of Granges, Capitain of Talmont, fought in Italy under Louis II de la Trémouille, Viscount of Thouars, Prince of Talmont, who died in the battle of Pavie, in 1525.

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


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 33

Health, Beauty & Fitness

Everyday Yoga for Everyone by Rebecca Novick

Yoga and Social Intelligence



OF THE MONTH Pure Fitness

Exercise to music classes - every Wednesday 7.30pm-8.30pm Salle des Fêtes, Vernoux-en-Gâtine 79240 For more info contact

hile much has been said about the health benefits of yoga, there has been less attention given to yoga’s social aspect, an area that is now being given some serious study. A few years ago, a study by Queen’s University, Ontario, showed that activities such as yoga can positively impact people with social anxiety disorders, to ‘literally change the way people perceive the world’. The research demonstrated that people who do yoga regularly view the environment in a less threatening and less negative way. Yoga activates a key feature of our nervous system, what Dr. Stephen Porges calls our ‘social engagement system’, through its effect of informing and transmitting signals of safety, trust, and relaxation. So, by attuning us more to our own bodies, yoga, even if done alone, can help us to more skillfully interpret and demonstrate social signals to develop a more connected and coherent orientation of self and others. Doing yoga in a group offers greater benefits still, since these effects are further actualized and reinforced by the group, serving as a grounding template for our interactions throughout the day. During periods of leisure our ancestors gathered together to eat, play and relax - to share a common experience of calm and trust. Group yoga harnesses the essential mechanisms of such activities on our nervous systems. Moving our bodies together in a shared space, incorporating breathwork and posture can improve our social intelligence and help us to feel more connected to the people in our lives. Yoga, therefore, not only helps to build a bridge between the body and the mind, but also between ourselves and others. Classes held on Tuesdays at 12pm and Fridays at 10:30am.

Respect yourself, explore yourself.


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 bigtsellwood@

PSYCHIC MEDIUM Training and working with the soul spirit in different aspects of connecting to the other side. For more information contact Lisa at: or 07 70 20 25 83 34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on

Our Furry Friends HOPE ASSOCIATION helping animals in need


cafe • bric à brac • books • DVDs & CDs • clothes • furniture

17 Route de Civray 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

Open every Thursday & 1st Sunday of each month, from 10am to 4 pm • Good quality donations of clothes, books and bric-à-brac are always welcome •

Ziggy Ziggy is a one-year-old who weighs about twenty pounds, and loves the company of humans (long hours on his own would not suit him). He loves to play with other dogs, but not cats! Ziggy will be happy being the only family pet, but will love meeting friends to play or walk with. A perfect dog for a sporty family. To adopt: 180€ (identified, vaccinated with passport - rabies, castrated, dewormed, and anti-tick treated). He has his certificate of good health.

The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43 or by email:

Skipper Available for foster or adoption, Skipper is just under six-months-old. She is a pointer x, so will probably be about 25kg when she grows up. Pointers are even-tempered, affectionate, smart and energetic, so she would like a family who can give her plenty of exercise and a nice big garden to run around in.

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: Visit the website: 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 ANNA SHAW.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 35

Building & Renovation


Location de mini-pelle Travaux Publics Installer and supplier of micro-stations. Micro-station and installation starting from 6000 Euros All Types of Groundworks Undertaken

Covering Bressuire and Surrounding Areas

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019



1 Day 130€, 2 Days 220€, 7 Days 700€ 12 Mtr Cherry Picker 110€ per day Laser Level 30€ per day Wacker Plate 60kg 20€ per day 3 inch petrol water pump 30€ per day Concrete Breaker Digger Attachment Available Digger & Driver Available Phone FR: 06 10 43 96 16 UK : 07753822265 Email : Siret : 840 226 666 00013

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 37

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 39

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Business & Finance

Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey

Engage your audience with your Facebook posts


ave you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? The idea is to keep promoting your business on Facebook to a minimum posting non-promotional content 80% of the time and keeping promotional content to 20%. It has been proven that this ratio keeps your audience more engaged. Here are some types of posts you might like to try for your business: • Inspirational quote or quote linked to your business • Top tip linked to what you do e.g. video tip • Ask a question. This doesn’t have to be linked to your business. Nothing too controversial! • Did you know…? • Promote a competition you are running for your business • Promote your blog • Photos of your products • Something personal e.g. funny story, images of pets etc. • Video/Facebook ‘live’ • Promote other people’s content - there might be an interesting article or funny story you would like to share • Podcasts • Quizzes • Infographics • Call to action

Post at the best time - There has been lots of research done into when it’s best to post on Facebook. The general consensus of

opinion is to post either early morning or at night, particularly around 8pm. I guess this makes sense as most people work during the day, so are checking their Facebook before they go and then again once they’re home, relaxing. Weekends are a good time too, when people generally have more time to browse. If you want to find out exactly what time your followers are online, take a look at your posts within the Facebook Insights area. This is a bit limited as it only shows you information from the previous 90 days. Information is given for each of your posts, under Reach and Engagement. Reach - measures how many people have seen your post. It’s a good way to see how well your business, product or name is getting out there and into people’s newsfeed, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will act on it or engage with it. However, it is a good way to measure the success of your posts when you are first growing your business. Engagement - is defined by Facebook as including all clicks to read more on your post, likes and shares and of course any comments. If your post has a high reach, it doesn’t mean it will have high engagement. It’s all down to how interesting and compelling your post is and how it pulls in your target audience. The more people that engage with your posts the more likely their friends will see your post too. Using Facebook for your business is obviously a good place to advertise your business or an event you are going to, but it is so much more than that. It’s about building good relationships with your followers, showing your human side as well as your business side and also having a bit of fun.

Contact Cindy Mobey Tel: 05 45 31 13 86 ~ Email:


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 41



his was one of President Macron’s promises during the presidential election and for once, a politician is good to his word! You might have noticed that in the French health system, 100% cover does not actually mean 100% of the cost covered, but 100% of the price set by the French health system. This means that a lot of French people can not afford to go to the dentist or get hearing aids. Between 25-30% of people who got a quote for crowns, glasses or hearing aids did not go through with it due to cost. For that reason, M Macron has come up with a reform called réforme 100% santé. So, how will it work for you? What this reform means and when it will happen? It concerns three aspects of the health system: teeth, glasses and hearing aids and the law will come into force in January 2022. However, it will be done gradually over the next three years. The changes will be implemented by all three entities concerned: the French health system, the top-up insurance company and the medical professionals. So, everybody makes an effort but as you will see below, for some more than others! How will it work for dentistry? It depends on the material, the type of work and the tooth. It only concerns dental prosthesis or crowns. It will apply to all teeth, but if it is a molar, the material must be metal instead of ceramic. Currently the price set by the health system for a crown is 107.5€, in 2020 it will be increased to 120€. In 2018, professionals had no cap on their charges (excuse the pun), in 2019 the maximum price is 530€ and in 2020 it will be 500€. If you have 100% dentistry cover today, your top-up will reimburse you 30% of 107.5€ (32.25€). In 2020 the reimbursement will be 416€ (30% of 120€ + 380€ [500€-120€]). How will it work for optometry? Same here, it will depend on the type of glasses you want (frame and lens). There are two types, class A and B. Class A will be fully reimbursed in 2020. But you can choose frames at class B and lenses at class A or vice versa. There are so many types of glasses that it would be too lengthy for me to explain! How will it work for hearing aids? As above, it depends on the equipment you have, so don’t expect the latest super hearing aid! The price set by the health system today is 300€ per ear, in 2020 it will be increased to 350€, in 2021 it will be 400€. In 2018, professionals had no cap on their charges,

this year the maximum price is 1300€, in 2020 1100€ and in 2021 it will be 950€. If you have a 100% cover today for hearing aids, your top-up insurance will reimburse you 30% of 300€ (90€). In 2021 the reimbursement will be 670€ (30% of 400€ + 550€ [950€-400€]). What obligations/innovations? With this law, there are a few obligations for professionals: they must give you more than one quote on their work and one of these quotes must be 100% reimbursed. So, for a hearing aid, they are obliged to have one that fits the criteria for 100% reimbursement; authorisation for glasses shops to renew the optician’s prescription within five years and do an eye test themselves invoiced at 10€ max; the level of cover for top-up insurance companies must be standardised with an example of reimbursement in € instead of percentages; creation of a quality questionnaire for glasses and hearing aid shops; and the establishment of a body in charge of checking that this new law is respected by medical professionals and insurance companies! As if! Conclusion: This new law is mainly being implemented for people who could not afford to have the work done, so don’t expect best quality crowns, glasses or hearing aids - but still, better than nothing. Also please note that the effort here will be mainly done by top-up insurances which apparently have agreed not to increase their premium by too much! Which gives me the opportunity to tell you that Allianz do a very good top-up. With most top-up health insurance, the covers are based on levels (level 1 to 6 for example) which means that if you want the best hospital cover, you will also pay for the best dental and optical cover. With Allianz, you can pick and choose what you want which makes it cheaper! And remember to check out our website en for all my previous articles (‘practical information’) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt Don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc.

No Orias: 07004255

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:

Useful English Language Numbers... Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

06 40 77 27 35

French State health insurance advice line

08 11 36 36 46

Orange helpline

09 69 36 39 00

EDF International Customer Service

05 62 16 49 08

CLEISS (Social security advice between countries)

01 45 26 33 41

Funeral Information (AFIF)

01 45 44 90 03 or

Passport Advice

0044 300 222 0000

SOS Helpline English speaking service (affiliated to the Samaritans)

01 46 21 46 46 (daily 3pm-11pm)

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019

Ask Amanda


by Amanda Johnson

i Amanda, I missed your recent Tour de Finance event - could you let me know what subjects were covered please? Sorry you missed the Tour de Finance at Château de Nieuil in the Charente. It was a great event and the feedback we received was extremely positive. In addition to Sue Cook from Currencies Direct, and myself, our guest speakers were Richard Brown, from investment management firm Tilney, and George Forsyth, from Prudential International, whilst Christopher Tagg, Spectrum’s Business Development Director, answered questions from our audience. Some of the Questions asked: Q: Should we wait until after Brexit before taking advice on tax planning and investments? Depending on individual circumstances, there is often little or no merit in waiting. Most companies regulated here in France and French tax compliant investments will not be affected by Brexit. People who have invested since 2016 have already enjoyed valuable capital growth and tax efficiency. Any concerns on currency or exchange rate direction can be taken into account in planning recommendations. Q: Common reporting standards - what do we need to do as French residents? It is important to declare all bank accounts and other reportable assets held outside of France. Failure to make full disclosure on your tax return carries some stiff penalties. Q: QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) - do you think this option will be available longer term? Whilst there are still transfer opportunities available to French residents

holding UK pensions, it is worth remembering that in 2017 the UK government introduced a 25% tax on UK pension transfers for anyone living outside Europe. The same might apply to European residents following Brexit. Linked to either Brexit or ongoing UK pension reform, current pension transfer opportunities are unlikely to be around longer term. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our roadshow events or speak to me directly, please call or email me and I will be glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations. Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail: 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.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 43

How are your savings protected? W hen you’ve worked hard to build up your savings, it is important to understand what level of protection you will receive in the event the financial institution is in difficulties and unable to repay your money.

Under an EU directive, each EU country provides a bank deposit guarantee of 100,000€. Should a bank fail, your national scheme (Fonds de Garantie des Dépôts et de Résolution (FGDR) in France) will refund your savings, up to the 100,000€ limit. Bank accounts in the UK are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the limit is currently £85,000. Savings above these limits could be lost. You may receive additional funds following any distribution of assets as part of the insolvency process, but this would depend on the bank’s situation at the time. Compensation is per depositor, so couples with joint accounts have 200,000€ protected (£170,000 in the UK). The guarantee is per banking group, not per bank account or per bank – some banks with different names form part of the same group, so be careful. Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for higher protection for temporary high balances.

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

on Isle of Man and £100 million in a five-year period in Jersey and Guernsey. Many savers with larger cash deposits have spread them out over different banks. Others have opted to move capital into arrangements which provide a higher level of investor protection than banks can offer. For example, if you have an investment bond issued by a Luxembourg regulated insurance company, your investment assets are protected should the company fail. Luxembourg provides robust protection for life assurance policy holders. Under its investor protection regime, all clients’ assets must be held by an independent custodian bank, which is required to ring-fence clients’ securities (investment funds, shares, bonds etc.) so they are off its balance sheet. If the bank fails, these securities remain in segregated client accounts. One hundred percent of the policyholder’s securities are therefore protected. This does not include cash deposits. You should always ensure you have adequate diversification across different investment assets. This reduces risk and increases the potential for improved returns. Your investment decisions should be based around your personal objectives, circumstances and risk profile. Take personalised, regulated advice on asset protection and a suitable taxefficient investment approach for you in France.

Banks in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are not covered by the UK scheme. Instead you would need to rely on their local guarantee schemes, which offer lower levels of protection.

All information contained is based on our understanding of legislation and practice, in the UK and overseas, at the time of writing; this may change in the future.

In all three jurisdictions the compensation is £50,000 per individual. Compensation payments are capped at £200,000 for a 10-year period

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

Making sure your money is in the right place At Blevins Franks, we provide a range of integrated financial services to give you peace of mind about your long-term financial security. Our investment recommendations are based around your aims and risk tolerance, and designed to be tax-efficient and meet your estate planning wishes. We also advise on your pension options to establish the best solution for you.

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24

And with our regular reviews, you will know your capital is well looked after. To find out how we can help you, speak to your local Blevins Franks advisers.


I N T E R N AT ION A L TA X A DV IC E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S TAT E PL A N N I NG • PE NSIONS Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided outside the UK, via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of trusts and companies. 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: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – 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). Blevins Franks Tax Limited provides taxation advice; its advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFFM.

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019



OF THE MONTH The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019| 45



he holiday season seemed to suddenly arrive this year – perhaps because ‘spring’ lasted into almost the middle of June! Now it’s time to enjoy the beauty of Deux-Sèvres to the max with long hot sunny summer days, lovely towns, villages, wonderful places to explore, super food capped off with beautiful evenings to savour and digest and make plans! Should your plans include finding a holiday home, something without the need for massive amounts of work to provide a real escape, then we’ve three perfect little gems and each provides the opportunity to just ‘lock up and leave’ making them ideal. L’Absie is an hour’s drive from the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast and is centred around the remains of a medieval abbey once patronised by Eleanor of Aquitaine. Close by are numerous places to explore including Pescalis at Moncoutant, one of Europe’s largest fishing centres. You’ll be able to easily access the amenities of L’Absie from our first gem which is within walking distance of everything (Leggett ref: 99945, photo left). Beautifully renovated with double glazing and electric heating, there’s a generous kitchen and salon with two double bedrooms and bathroom upstairs – directly outside there’s a small area perfect for a table and chairs, while a larger garden is just one minute’s walk away. Perfect for holidays or full-time living - 82,500€.

For the absolute bargain price of 36,000€ our second gem is in Argenton-l’Église (Leggett ref: 100044, photo right) just 31km from Saumur and all the Loire valley has to offer. This friendly riverside village is popular with fishermen and walkers, with everything needed for day-today living quite literally at your doorstep. Generous living spaces in this two bedroom townhouse include a large kitchen and salon, the loft is enormous, outside there’s a small courtyard – just large enough for a table and chairs. The perfect lock up and leave or even to rent out! In Pressigny (Leggett ref: 100581) this pretty and beautifully situated cottage will have you at ‘hello!’. Overlooking luscious countryside, the lovely entrance hall opens into the salon. There’s room to eat in the pretty kitchen and two bedrooms and a bathroom are also on this level. Upstairs to the third bedroom and an enormous attic – with space for more! There’s a barn, an enclosed garden at the front with a large separate parcel of land just 30 metres from the house. Did I mention it has central heating, double glazing and has been beautifully maintained – you’ll never want to leave especially with an asking price of just 89,900€, and it’s not far from the medieval town of Parthenay. Who’d want to lock up and leave any of these? Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at



€115,000 HAI

Ref 101189PBE79 Well-maintained villa with private garden, garage and separate 1-bed studio. DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller


€267,500 HAI

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST Buying or selling a property? Contact us now!


€172,800 HAI


€158,050 HAI


€82,500 HAI

Ref 101454ME79 Detached 4-bed house on 2002m² of land with outbuildings and open views. DPE F - agency fees included : 10 % TTC to be paid by the buyer


€98,945 HAI

Ref 100923DTH79 Large detached house in

Ref 100305NHA79 Renovated 4-bed house with

Ref 100348TLO79 Lovely 4-bed farmhouse with

Ref 101536NHA79 Deceptively spacious property

peaceful hamlet with 2-bed gite and in-ground pool.

enclosed garden, summer kitchen and jacuzzi.

garden, well, outbuildings, pond and 2ha of land.

of 3 beds plus apartment, large attic and garage.

DPE D - agency fees included : 7 % TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE D - agency fees to be paid by the seller

DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller

DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller

Be a part of our award winning team If becoming an independent property sales agent interests you, contact Head of Recruitment Lorraine Deuré:

05 53 60 82 77 -

+33 (0)5 53 56 88 48 - - 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, July 2019