Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 100

CLASS

A WIN!

FAMILY

COOKERY

£3.99

AUGUST 2017

A R N F Y E 25 C A G E R N S I
A
R
N
F
Y
E
25
C
A
G
E
R
N
S
I
V
I
L
2017 A R N F Y E 25 C A G E R N S I

FOR THE LIFE YOU’ VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF

completefrance.com

FOR THE LIFE YOU’ VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF completefrance.com Home cooking in Charente How an expat
FOR THE LIFE YOU’ VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF completefrance.com Home cooking in Charente How an expat

Home cooking in Charente

How an expat food stylist found the perfect house for her cookery school
How an expat food stylist
found the perfect house
for her cookery school
DÉJÀ-VIEW Popular French TV programmes and why you should be watching them
DÉJÀ-VIEW
Popular French TV
programmes and
why you should
be watching them
RENTING A PROPERTY What do you need to know?
RENTING
A PROPERTY
What do you
need to
know?
Issue 316 August 2017 £3.99 A VIEW OF VERCORS Rural life in the mountains with
Issue 316 August 2017 £3.99
A VIEW OF VERCORS
Rural life in the mountains with the bonus of big cities nearby

REAL LIFE PROPERTY PLACES ADVICE LIFESTYLE LANGUAGE INSIDER INFO

© IVONNEW/THINKSTOCK;

FELINDA/DREAMSTIME

“A crusty baguette and some French cheese – so simple yet one of my favourite
“A crusty baguette and some French cheese
– so simple yet one of my favourite
meals, especially for summer picnics”
one of my favourite meals, especially for summer picnics” I really wish I was one of

I really wish I was one of those people who confidently throws ingredients together, effortlessly producing a dish that is not only edible but also delicious. The end

result doesn’t even have to be that complicated, as it’s often the simplest of meals that offer the greatest enjoyment, and yet I’m just not very good at going ‘off-piste’ with my cooking. Improving my skills in the kitchen has been on my to-do list for longer than I care to admit, but after interviewing food writer and stylist Louise Pickford for this month’s issue, I’m feeling particularly inspired. It’s hard not to be, when she spoke so enthusiastically about creating dishes using the fresh ingredients that she picks up at her local market in Angoulême, and grows in her own garden. She now runs a cookery school from her home in Charente, where she shares her passion and enthusiasm for cooking with

those keen to improve their culinary repertoires. It’s certainly given me some food for thought – turn to page 54 to find out more. I think I’m going to take Julia Child’s advice from her autobiography My Life in France: “Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” I might have to buy the bag that staff writer Catriona found this month as a reminder too (p11). Food is such an integral part of French culture and just one of the many things that make France so special. For Nia Jenkins Hafsia, it’s the wonderful weather and health benefits she enjoys in Dordogne (p30), while for Caryl and Jan Panman, it’s being able to make their own wine in Aude (p46). What would it be for you? Do get in touch and let us know.

What would it be for you? Do get in touch and let us know. Vicky Leigh,

Vicky Leigh, Editor

you? Do get in touch and let us know. Vicky Leigh, Editor ClaireWinterton Writes Channel hopping,
you? Do get in touch and let us know. Vicky Leigh, Editor ClaireWinterton Writes Channel hopping,
you? Do get in touch and let us know. Vicky Leigh, Editor ClaireWinterton Writes Channel hopping,
you? Do get in touch and let us know. Vicky Leigh, Editor ClaireWinterton Writes Channel hopping,
ClaireWinterton
ClaireWinterton

Writes Channel hopping, page 36 Best way to learn French: Lessons with a good teacher are essential, but then you have to use what you’ve learnt in real life. Moving to a small village was the best way to make French friends and get talking.

was the best way to make French friends and get talking. Dominic Rippon Writes A life

Dominic Rippon

Writes A life in the vines, page 46 Favourite French wine: Good red burgundys like Volnay and Gevrey- Chambertin really excite me, but as I can rarely afford these, I’m always looking out for interesting, less pricey pinot noirs.

Susie Hunting
Susie Hunting

Writes Soap star, page 30 Best thing about living in Dordogne: There are so many, but I do love the sense of continuity here. Sunflowers and wheat are grown much as they were hundreds of years ago, as are people’s vegetable gardens.

Enjoy Living France every month in your format of choice: SUBSCRIBE to either the print
Enjoy Living France every month in your format of choice: SUBSCRIBE to either the print
Enjoy Living France
every month in your
format of choice:
SUBSCRIBE to either the print
edition or digital edition, or take the
full package and enjoy print and
digital together. Visit
www.subscriptionsave.co.uk/LF
SAVE £1
BUY a single copy and have it
delivered direct to your door
Visit www.buyamag.co.uk
and offer use code
L32VF
DOWNLOAD Living France
to your device, available onApple
Newsstand, Google Play, Kindle Fire
available onApple Newsstand, Google Play, Kindle Fire FOR THE LIFE YOU’ VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF Living

FOR THE

LIFE YOU’ VE

ALWAYS

DREAMED

OF

Living France, Cumberland House, Oriel Road, Cheltenham, GL50 1BB. Tel: 01242 216050. Email editorial@livingfrance.com completefrance.com

EDITORIAL Group Editor: Karen Tait (07753 811905 / karen.tait@archant.co.uk) Editor: Vicky Leigh (01242 216086 / vicky.leigh@archant.co.uk) Assistant Editor: Stephanie Sheldrake (01242 216008 / stephanie.sheldrake@archant.co.uk) Staff Writer: Catriona Burns (01242 216096 / catriona.burns@archant.co.uk) Editorial Designer: Jamie Elvin Digital Editor: Emma Rawle (01242 216091 / emma.rawle@archant.co.uk)

ADVERTISING Archant Specialist Sales Director: Sue Crwys-Williams 01242 265896 / susan.crwys-williams@archant.co.uk Display:

Advertising Manager: Stuart Ogden Stephanie Ingram, Daniella O’Sullivan, Callum Preece Tel: 01242 264750 Classified:

Advertising Manager: Emma Kestin Amelia Olive, Danielle May 01242 216099 / classified@livingfrance.com

CUSTOMER SERVICE Subscription enquiries 00 44 (0)1858 438840 livingfrance@subscription.co.uk All other enquiries Sarah Gough: 01242 264785 / sarah.gough@archant.co.uk

ARCHANT Archant Lifestyle Commercial Director: Peter Timperley Events Director: Debbie MacLeod Head of Subscriptions and Loyalty: Lisa Foster Subscriptions and Loyalty Team Manager: Paul Upton Printed by William Gibbons, Willenhall

Manager: Paul Upton Printed by William Gibbons, Willenhall facebook.com/ livingfrancemagazine pinterest.com/

facebook.com/

livingfrancemagazine

pinterest.com/

instagram.com/

twitter.com/

livingfrance

livingfrance

LivingFrance

livingfrance livingfrance LivingFrance Living France is published by Archant Community Media

Living France is published by Archant Community Media Limited (company number 19300) and printed by William Gibbons. Archant Community Media Limited is a leading family-owned community media company based at Prospect House, Rouen Road Norwich NR1 1RE. The Company is active in the fields of newspaper and magazine publishing, contracting printing, marketing, internet communications and television.

Reproduction of any material, in whole or in part, is strictly forbidden without the prior written consent of the publisher. All material is sent at the owner’s risk and, while every care is taken, Archant Community Media Limited will not accept liability for loss or damage.

Living France and its journalists are committed to the abiding by the Society of Editors Code of Practice. If you have a complaint which can not be resolved by the editor please contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), c/o Halton House, 20-23 Holborn, London, EC1 2JD, or via complaints@ipso.co.uk. More information about IPSO and its regulations can be found at www.ipso.co.uk.

AUGUST 2017

ISSUE 316

20 Vercors
20 Vercors

Discover the benefits of rural life in the mountains with the bonus of big cities within easy reach

20 WIN! 30 A family cookery class on page 54 46 THE ESSENTIALS Renting in
20
WIN!
30
A family cookery
class on
page 54
46
THE ESSENTIALS
Renting in
76 New kids
82 Splashing out
70
France
on the block
Your guide to the rules
and regulations of renting
a French property
The legal process of
buying a new-build
property in France
Make the most of the
summer weather with our
pick of homes with pools
84 Route map
72 Renting in
78 Hide and seek
France: vocabulary
Essential vocabulary
and phrases to help you
learn the language
How to find your new
French home with help
from a property finder
All the routes to France in
one place to help you
plan your journey
across the Channel
80 Property and
86 Property
74 Q&A: Ask
currency news
directory
the experts
Our experts give their advice
on wills, French mortgages
and house surveys
The latest from the French
property market, plus
a currency update
A guide to the
buying process, plus
properties for sale
and to let in France

26 Ask the agent

Monique Clément shares her inside knowledge of the property market in and around the Vercors

27 On the market

Our selection of properties for sale across the Vercors to suit all budgets

28 A local’s view

Swapping city living in London for a cycling business in St-Jean-en-Royans

29 Fact file

The essential information and key contacts you’ll need for a life in the Vercors

and key contacts you’ll need for a life in the Vercors 40 A tale of two

40 A tale of two cities

From Reims to Aix-en-Provence, we explore six French towns twinned with British cities

30 Soap star

How a Welsh opera singer became an award-winning soap maker in Dordogne

36
36

Channel hopping

Why watching your favourite TV shows in French offers so much more than entertainment

46 A life in the vines

Wine expert Dominic Rippon raises a toast to a globetrotting couple at their vineyard in Languedoc

This month Louise Pickford and Ian Wallace’s Charente home © Ian Wallace COVER STORIES
This month Louise Pickford and
Ian Wallace’s Charente home
© Ian Wallace
COVER STORIES

6 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

16

54

54 Home cooking
54 Home cooking

Food stylist Louise Pickford combines business and pleasure as she opens her own cookery school in Charente

60 Gardening

It’s all about plums this month, plus an Open Garden in Brittany’s Finistère

62 Flavours of France

James Martin’s recipe for John Dory with clams and courgettes, and a closer look at the syrah grape

JOIN OUR MAGAZINE CLUB! Turn to page 64 for details
JOIN OUR
MAGAZINE
CLUB!
Turn to page 64
for details
65 Language news
65
Language news

We review the latest language books, apps and websites

66 Five-minute French

Test your French with our puzzles

FREE French-English dictionary bookmark when you subscribe Turn to page 52
FREE
French-English
dictionary bookmark
when you subscribe
Turn to page 52

dictionary bookmark when you subscribe Turn to page 52 8 August in France The latest news

8 August in France

The latest news from France plus the events taking place this month

14 Postbag

Your views of life in France

16 Our dream home

Won over by traditional features, digital editor Emma Rawle chooses a farmhouse in Normandy

18 Your photos

We share your snaps of France

98 Out of touch

She might be a bit behind the times in rural France but Gillian Harvey wouldn’t have it any other way

p16 p40 p12 p54 p20 p30 p46
p16
p40
p12
p54
p20
p30
p46

WE ALSO PUBLISH

Expert advice Wealth tax Inheritance rules Buying & timeline Brexit currency THE BIGGEST AND BEST
Expert advice
Wealth tax
Inheritance
rules
Buying
& timeline
Brexit
currency
THE BIGGEST AND BEST UK GUIDE TO FRENCH PROPERTY
Issue 317 | July 2017 | £3.99
FRENCH
FRENCH
25
years
of French
PROPERTY
property
advice
SOUTH OF FRANCE
FAMILY
PROPERTY NEWS
FUN
Affordable property
options in the sun
❝ We’ve all played
a part in building
our business
Create your
home dream
With our essential guide
to sympathetic renovation
200+PROPERTIESFORSALEINSIDE
The biggest and best UK guide
to buying a French property, with
expert legal and financial advice.
completefrance.com ● francepropertyshop.com
BUYING GUIDES ● REAL LIFE STORIES ● LOCATION FEATURES ● LEGAL & FINANCE
Charente-Maritime €147,150
Dordogne €490,000
Côte-d'Or €295,000
FRANCE
Britain and North America’s
biggest-selling magazine
covering everything about French
culture, travel and food & wine.
NEWS

8 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

© ROBERTHARDING / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

© ROBERTHARDING / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO For a laid-back summer’s day out, take a meander around

For a laid-back summer’s day out, take a meander around the sleepy villages of the Pays d’Auge in Calvados. This land of apple orchards, stud farms and agricultural pastures is dotted with pretty villages, such as Pierrefitte-en-Auge (pictured), with its historic half-timbered thatched cottages. And if you fancy travelling back in time, don’t miss the Médiévales festival at nearby Crèvecœur- en-Auge (6-13 August) where you can feast in a medieval tavern and see jousting competitions. calvados-tourisme.co.uk Read on to find out what else is happening in France this month.

WHAT’S NEW

News & events

The stories from France that have been making headlines, plus the latest reviews, travel news and dates for your diary, by Catriona Burns

travel news and dates for your diary, by Catriona Burns France’s favourite village The Alsatian village
travel news and dates for your diary, by Catriona Burns France’s favourite village The Alsatian village

France’s favourite village

The Alsatian village of Kaysersberg has been named as this year’s ‘Village préféré des Français’ by viewers of the popular France 2 programme. More than 2.4 million viewers tuned in to see the show on 13 June when, for the first time in the programme’s six- year history, viewers voted live for their favourite French village. Kaysersberg was followed by St-Valery-sur-Somme (Somme) and La Roque-Gageac (Dordogne) which were awarded second and third place respectively. It is the second time that

Open talks

a village in the department of Haut- Rhin has won the title – Eguisheim was crowned the winner back in 2013. Close to a thousand people turned up on Kaysersberg’s village square when the result was announced. If past winners are anything to go by, the village has a lot to celebrate. Last year’s winner, Rochefort-en-Terre in Morbihan has reported a 60% increase in tourists since it won in June 2016. It’s hoped that the same boost will be seen in Kaysersberg where 2,700 people live. Félicitations to them all!

PAY AS YOU GO

The introduction of the pay-as-you-earn tax system has been postponed until 1 January 2019. The PAYE system that covers various types of income was originally planned for January 2018 but it has been put back by Macron’s government by one year to test and evaluate the system. The new system will replace the current payment on account arrangement where taxpayers make payments on account in the current year in respect of the last year’s income.

in the current year in respect of the last year’s income. BEST IN EUROPE Le Havre

BEST IN EUROPE

Le Havre in Normandy is among the top 10 European destinations in 2017 according to Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe guide. The travel guide put the port city in tenth place, praising its

“eye-catching modern architecture.” The guide also heralds Le Havre as “one of the best places to be this summer” largely due to the city’s 500th anniversary; a five-month-long celebration that ends on 8 October. It also praised the city’s accessible location, saying it was a “great base for exploring other parts of Normandy, from the famed D-Day beaches to the picturesque cliffs of Étretat”.

base for exploring other parts of Normandy, from the famed D-Day beaches to the picturesque cliffs
D-Day beaches to the picturesque cliffs of Étretat”. The European Union has said pledged to allow

The European Union has said

pledged to allow the public to

be a priority in the first months.

the negotiating documents that

Brexit talks cannot be in secret, announcing that it will make all

see what is being discussed every step of the way.

Talks started on 19 June and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator,

are to be made public,” he said. To see the documents visit:

negotiating documents available

Documents to be published

Michel Barnier said he intends

ec.europa.eu/commission/

on a public website.

include those relating to the

to maintain a level of openness

publications/article-

Calling for “maximum

commission’s position on EU

throughout. “We’re prepared to

50-negotiations-

transparency”, the EU has

citizens’ rights, which are likely to

have great transparency on all

united-kingdom_en

10 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

© FOTOLIA; LUDOVIC MAISANT

Leather book bag, £73 by KrukruStudioBooks, etsy.com Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Leather book bag, £73 by
KrukruStudioBooks, etsy.com
Talk about killing two birds with one
stone. This handmade leather book
bag more than satisfies my penchant
for a pretty hardback, plus it adds to
my burgeoning bag collection nicely.
Tucked under my arm as a quirky
clutch or swung across my shoulder,
my new favourite sac à main will
liven up any old outfit instantly.
I think Julia would approve, too.

any old outfit instantly. I think Julia would approve, too. Riviera on Sky Atlantic and Now

Riviera on Sky Atlantic and Now TV. Ever wondered what it’s like to be filthy rich and living the high life on the French Riviera? Sky Atlantic’s new 10-part drama suggests it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Exposing a darker side to the Riviera’s glitz and glamour, this series is one of dramatic explosions, fast car chases, lies and designer gowns, while the sun-soaked south of France appears as gorgeous as ever. Catch it on Thursday nights at 9pm.

Côte de Provence 2016. Produced in Provence, this rosé won silver at the International Wine
Côte de Provence 2016.
Produced in Provence, this rosé
won silver at the International
Wine Challenge and is available
in Aldi for just £5.99.

SCHOOL TIME

Primary schools in France have been given the option of introducing a four- day week instead of the current four and a half days. The minister for education, Jean-Michel Blanquer has revived the debate on school routines since taking office in May, saying that there was a need to spread the children’s time at school on both a weekly and annual basis. But rather than enforcing a new policy, Macron’s administration wants to give local communes the flexibility to choose which timetable suits them best. The current plan is to experiment with

suits them best. The current plan is to experiment with the school schedules towards the end

the school schedules towards the end of 2017 and then give schools the choice of implementing the changes by 2018 if they so wish. If adopted, it would be the third change to France’s school system in less than 10 years.

change to France’s school system in less than 10 years. Michelin’s Les Plus Beaux Villages de
change to France’s school system in less than 10 years. Michelin’s Les Plus Beaux Villages de

Michelin’s Les Plus Beaux Villages de France map for your summer road trip. You might not make it to all 156 of France’s most beautiful villages that are listed, but it would certainly be fun trying to tick off as many as possible. We have 10 copies of Michelin’s Les Plus Beaux Villages de France map to give away. For a chance to win visit completefrance.com/ competitions

The closing date for entries is 6 August 2017. Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, €6.95.

WIN!
WIN!
Get rid of homework. Too stressful. Could be done at school if really necessary. Carole
Get rid of homework.
Too stressful. Could
be done at school
if really necessary.
Carole Moody
School is practise for work, and four
days will cause parents problems
with childcare. Not everyone
has grandparents to babysit.
Lorraine Turnbull

Turning over a new leaf

Europe’s first ‘e-Tree’ has been unveiled at a ceremony in Nevers in the Nièvre department. The solar tree has giant square leaves that convert sunlight into electricity

and allows passers-by to charge their phones, browse the internet or simply enjoy the shade. It also supplies water and street lighting. The structure, developed by

WEBSITE OF THE MONTH It’s impossible to look at Lavender and Lovage’s Instagram page and
WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
It’s impossible to look at Lavender and Lovage’s Instagram
page and not feel hungry. Mouth-watering images of
blue cheese and saucisson would make any Francophile
hungry for their favourite French food. Thankfully you
can hop on over to the website where Karen Burns-
Booth shares her kitchen tips and recipes from her
home in south-west France. Fingers crossed my attempt
at her confetti funfetti cake will turn out just as pretty!
lavenderandlovage.com
cake will turn out just as pretty! lavenderandlovage.com French-Israeli start-up Sologic, is inspired by the acacia

French-Israeli start-up Sologic, is inspired by the acacia tree that is found in the Israeli desert and the African savannah.

WHAT’S NEW

Dates for your diary ✗
Dates for your diary

Make the most of everything France has to offer in August, with our round-up of key events, festivals and travel news

with our round-up of key events, festivals and travel news Since 1666, the Festival St-Louis brings
with our round-up of key events, festivals and travel news Since 1666, the Festival St-Louis brings

Since 1666, the Festival St-Louis brings the Mediterranean town of Sète in Hérault to life every summer. Taking place this year from 17-22 August, the festival attracts thousands of visitors and locals who line the banks of the Le Cadre Royal to watch the famous water jousting tournaments, a tradition that is rooted in local culture. Cheer on your

Musical Menton

favourite from the riverside or snag a seat at one of the waterfront cafés and

take in the festivities with a glass of wine. There’s plenty of entertainment away from the water too with a plethora of shows and impromptu performances around the town’s streets and squares.

tourisme-sete.com/fetes-de-la-saint-

louis-sete.html

tourisme-sete.com/fetes-de-la-saint- louis-sete.html Before summer slips away, treat yourself to a classical

Before summer slips away, treat yourself to a classical open-air music concert, such as the Menton Festival de Musique that takes place on the French Riviera. The festival has been going since 1950, making it one of

France’s oldest classical music events and one of Europe’s most prestigious. Performances take place on the Baroque square outside Basilique St-Michel in the Old Town, where classical musicians delight crowds. This year, the event

invites top classical music artists to its stage from 28 July to 13 August with performances from cellist Edgar Moreau and violinist Renaud Capuçon. See the full progamme online. festival-musique -menton.fr

CELTIC CONNECTION It’s Scotland’s year at the Festival Interceltique from 4-13 August. The annual celebration

CELTIC CONNECTION

It’s Scotland’s year at the Festival Interceltique from 4-13 August. The annual celebration of Celtic music, dancing, food and drink attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the port of Lorient in southern Brittany. A performance from Scottish singer Amy McDonald is sure to be a highlight, as is the grand parade of the Celtic nations featuring more than 3,000 musicians and pipe bands from around the world, including the USA, Canada and Australia. festival-interceltique.bzh

12 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

© PHOTOGRAPHE SUIVI DE TOURISME SÈTE; JACQUES MULLER; ELLA CHAZAL; MICHEL JAMONEAU

Pulling the strings
Pulling the strings

Puppet shows have come a long way from wooden figures on a string, as the MIMA Festival des Arts de la Marionnette proves. Held in the medieval town of Mirepoix in Ariège from 3-6 August, this year’s festival

has an animal theme that is explored through puppet performances, musical evenings, workshops and dance events. Tickets are available online from 1 July. A family pass costs €36. mima.artsdelamarionnette.com

DANCE OFF
DANCE OFF

More than 60,000 people are expected to descend on the town of Châteauroux in Indre-et- Loire from 7-19 August for its annual dance festival, known as DARC.

Dancing enthusiasts can tap their feet to a range of different dance disciplines, which include jazz, tango, salsa, flamenco and even hip hop, at one of the workshops

run by internationally acclaimed professionals. Other attractions include concerts for all ages and dance shows. Sure to get the whole family moving! danses-darc.com

Travel news

Travel news QUIET ROADS Paris is to test out new road surfaces in an effort to

QUIET ROADS

Paris is to test out new road surfaces in an effort to reduce the city’s traffic noise and heat. The project will experiment with three paving systems that have sound, thermal and water- retaining properties to help make the city both quieter and cooler. It’s hoped that the new initiative could cut noise pollution in the city by 50%.

initiative could cut noise pollution in the city by 50%. FLY CHEAPER Air France is on
initiative could cut noise pollution in the city by 50%. FLY CHEAPER Air France is on

FLY CHEAPER

Air France is on track to roll out

a new low-cost airline with flights due

to start this winter. Aimed at millennial travellers, the brand is Air France’s attempt to compete with low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair, providing routes to countries such as Italy, Spain and Turkey. The start-up is currently working under the name of Boost but Air France says it will unveil a new name this summer.

but Air France says it will unveil a new name this summer. NAME CHANGE France’s famous
but Air France says it will unveil a new name this summer. NAME CHANGE France’s famous

NAME CHANGE

France’s famous high-speed train network will be rebranded from TGV to inOui, while the RER will now go by the name of ‘train’. The inOui brand was rolled out on the Paris to Bordeaux route from 2 July and the new look will

be introduced across all services by 2020.

A major reason for the rebranding is that

SNCF wants to strengthen its products in the face of growing competition from low-cost flights, budget coach services and long-distance car-sharing. The company hopes the refresh will help attract some 15 million passengers to the rail service by 2020.

some 15 million passengers to the rail service by 2020. SUMMER FLIGHTS Flybe has launched new
some 15 million passengers to the rail service by 2020. SUMMER FLIGHTS Flybe has launched new

SUMMER FLIGHTS

Flybe has launched new summer routes to France. The seasonal flights operate each weekend until 3 September as part of the airline’s 2017 summer schedule. Flights operate from Aberdeen, Belfast City, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle. Most of the services are new flights to popular destinations including Avignon, Bergerac Dordogne, Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle, Limoges, Nantes and Perpignan-Rivesaltes, Rennes and Toulon-Hyères.

WHAT’S NEW

WHAT’S NEW Y o u r comments We love hearing from you, so why not write

Your comments

We love hearing from you, so why not write us a letter, send us an email, or join in on Facebook or Twitter?

THIS MONTH’S STAR LETTER I would like to share my tip with you for British
THIS MONTH’S
STAR LETTER
I would like to share my tip with you for British
WINS
STAR
expats making the move to France. Like a lot
LETTER
of expats, my wife and I had only a tenuous
grasp of French when we arrived in France (and
that’s being generous). But, how to make French
friends without speaking their language?
Of course we took classes in French and studied our
grammar, but the real key was finding language partners.
A language partner is someone who is trying to learn
your language while you are trying to learn theirs. They
will be very patient with you as you make mistakes
because they are probably making the same ones. For
that reason it is important to find someone whose level
in English is about the same as your level in French.
It works best to focus on one language at a time –
having a conversation in French for a while and then
switching to English.
I found that meeting once or twice a week, for an
hour or so, really accelerated my learning. And, even
better, most of my language partners became friends,
helping me to integrate into my local community.
How to find a partner? I’ve found them in different
ways – inquiring at a local language school, at the tourist
office, at the butcher’s (yes, really!). There is also a
website you can use called mylanguageexchange.com.
Keith Van Sickle
Provence
The writer of our Star
Letter this issue wins a
garlic and ginger grater
set. These attractive
handmade ceramic graters
are gift-boxed and include
a garlic peeler and brush.
gingerandgarlicgrater.co.uk

Follow us on Twitter @LivingFrance

My wife and I were a little surprised to see Living France perpetuate the linguistic error commonly made by the English in Ian Moore’s column in the July edition – in the subtitle, the illustration and the text! It is not Madame la Maire, but Madame le Maire; it being the word not the person who has the gender. Thus Madame le Maire was once un bébé, who grew into une personne. Apart from that little slip, we are getting a lot out of your magazine, as usual. Martin and Jane Evans Haute-Loire and Cambridge

Thanks for writing to us, Martin and Jane, as this grammatical point caused us some deliberation when we printed the article. You are absolutely right that Madame le Maire is grammatically correct, but Madame la Maire is becoming increasingly common. In fact, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is quoted as saying “Appelez-moi Madame la Maire”. We would love to hear from other readers who can share their experiences of how a female mayor is addressed in France. – Ed

LaFermeDeTroisCoins @PerigordLife Dave Flitcroft Went to the Labyrinthe Géant in Guéret yesterday – great way
LaFermeDeTroisCoins @PerigordLife
Dave Flitcroft
Went to the Labyrinthe Géant in Guéret
yesterday – great way to lose the kids
for a couple of hours!
@Artfrombikeshed
Back from an early ride out
before it gets too hot! 34ºC now.
facebook.com/livingfrancemagazine
Emma Spain
Monika Danielak
This is a photo I took at a bike race in the
Feeling happy that I decided to open
a B&B in the Périgord. Happy guests all
enjoying the weather. Beers and wine
chilling for their return. La belle vie!
Fantastic place (La Roque-
Gageac) – we have been lucky
every time we have visited and
found the brocante going on.
Vallée du Sulon in Ste-Tréphine, following our
Alice
long stay in Brittany. Glenys
Ellis, Bolton
our Alice long stay in Brittany. Glenys Ellis, Bolton If you have something you’d like to

If you have something you’d like to share, from anecdotes to holiday snaps, drop us a line at letters@livingfrance.com or write to The Letters Editor, Living France, Cumberland House, Oriel Road, Cheltenham, GL50 1BB. We reserve the right to edit your letters. Sign up to our newsletters at completefrance.com

14 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

WHAT’S NEW THIS MONTH’S DREAM HOME MARKET
WHAT’S NEW
THIS MONTH’S
DREAM HOME
MARKET
WHAT’S NEW THIS MONTH’S DREAM HOME MARKET ON THE FOR €293,000 I love the idea that
ON THE FOR €293,000
ON THE
FOR
€293,000
THIS MONTH’S DREAM HOME MARKET ON THE FOR €293,000 I love the idea that a house

I love the idea that a house has a history

and a previous use, especially if that former

– says digital editor Emma Rawle

life is still evident”

– says digital editor Emma Rawle life is still evident” I seem to find myself attracted

I seem to find myself attracted to properties that have had a former life. Whether it’s a converted school, chapel or watermill, I love the idea that a house has a history

and a previous use, especially if that former life is still evident. So it is perhaps no surprise that this sympathetically renovated cider barn in Orne in Normandy caught my eye. Its former life as a cider barn is apparent from the large doors, stone walls, exposed wooden struts and beams, yet it has been

16 Living France August 2017

lovingly transformed into a comfortable three-bedroom home by its previous owners. Even the original cider press is still there, housed in an open barn adjoining the house that is currently used as a bar and games room. The other advantage of buying a converted barn is the space it offers. Not only does the house have three bedrooms but there is also a two-bedroom gîte, plus two outbuildings that could be converted into extra accommodation. The property is in a good location for

holidaymakers, being only a 90-minute drive from the ferry port at Caen, and with the attractions of Mont-St-Michel and the D-Day beaches within easy reach. Although only five minutes from the medieval town of Domfront, this converted barn would be my rural retreat with two acres of land and no near neighbours. However, as the house is so easy to get to from the UK I don’t imagine it will be long before my diary is booked up with friends and family coming to stay! ahouseinnormandy.com

will be long before my diary is booked up with friends and family coming to stay!

completefrance.com

Find

with dream

Allez your

home

Français

Find with dream Allez your home Français P9539MS NR LYON / RHÔNE-ALPES (01) A stunning C19th

P9539MS NR LYON / RHÔNE-ALPES (01)

A stunning C19th château with 15 bedrooms. Character features including stained glass windows. Set within an area of 3.4 hectares of green park & woodland.

Price 1,500,000 €

hectares of green park & woodland. Price 1,500,000 € D9584AFD MANCHE (50) Extraordinary renovated luxury Priory
hectares of green park & woodland. Price 1,500,000 € D9584AFD MANCHE (50) Extraordinary renovated luxury Priory

D9584AFD MANCHE (50)

Extraordinary renovated luxury Priory (origins back to 1189) in the heart of Normandy, with indoor pool, gite and 6 acres of land.

Price 997,500 €

indoor pool, gite and 6 acres of land. Price 997,500 € P9840AFD SAINT-LÔ (50) A pretty

P9840AFD SAINT-LÔ (50)

A pretty XV Century Medieval Castle (9 beds) with

many original features including a moat, and resident black swans.

Price 880,000 €

a moat, and resident black swans. Price 880,000 € R9731 CONFOLENS (16) Impressive Manor House finished

R9731 CONFOLENS (16)

Impressive Manor House finished to an exceptional standard. 6 en-suite bedrooms & set in 13 acres of attractive grounds.

Price 698,250 €

set in 13 acres of attractive grounds. Price 698,250 € D9829AFD CALVADOS (14) Magnificent Manoir with

D9829AFD CALVADOS (14)

Magnificent Manoir with detached gite, lake and elegant gardens just 30 minutes from Normandy beaches. 4 bedroom former presbytery + barn turned into luxury apartments.

Price 449,925 €

+ barn turned into luxury apartments. Price 449,925 € P9569AFD CALVADOS (14) A superb 17th century
+ barn turned into luxury apartments. Price 449,925 € P9569AFD CALVADOS (14) A superb 17th century

P9569AFD CALVADOS (14)

A superb 17th century farm transformed into a successful gite complex. 4 self-catering stone cottages, plus the main house with 6 en-suite bedrooms, (21 beds in total). Outstanding business potential.

Price 679,250 €

in total). Outstanding business potential. Price 679,250 € P9586AFD NR PÉZENAS (34) Superb modern property with

P9586AFD NR PÉZENAS (34)

Superb modern property with 4 beds, pool & outstanding views, easily managed garden. With exquisite attention to detail, this outstanding property is immaculately presented.

Price 298,000 €

property is immaculately presented. Price 298,000 € P9645 TURENNE (19) Character house with 4 beds, plus
property is immaculately presented. Price 298,000 € P9645 TURENNE (19) Character house with 4 beds, plus

P9645 TURENNE (19)

Character house with 4 beds, plus 2nd house (5 chambre d’hotes rooms), & shop (rental income

600 / month). Lying in the shadow of the Château

in Turenne.

Price 495,850 €

in the shadow of the Château in Turenne. Price 495,850 € R9807 SAINT MATHIEU (87) Beautiful

R9807 SAINT MATHIEU (87)

Beautiful 16th Century Manor House restored to retain many original features and is full of charm and character, set in parkland grounds of 9400m².

Price 296,800 €

set in parkland grounds of 9400m². Price 296,800 € P9795E LOSTANGES (19) An attractive 3 bed

P9795E LOSTANGES (19)

An attractive 3 bed character property wanting some TLC to bring alive again. Village situation. Easily managed gardens. Exclusive mandat!

R9769 VILLARS (24)

Attractive barn conversion 2 beds on the edge of a village with amenities. The perfect ‘lock up and leave’ holiday home.

P9823E SIONIAC (19)

A large building plot of 7,870m² with previous CU

& panoramic views to the south west. Significantly

reduced price.

Price 159,000 € Price 140,000 € Price 26,500 €
Price 159,000 €
Price 140,000 €
Price 26,500 €
Price 159,000 € Price 140,000 € Price 26,500 € WWW.ALLEZ-FRANCAIS.COM | TEL: 00 33 553 56

WWW.ALLEZ-FRANCAIS.COM

|

TEL: 00 33 553 56 09 35 or 00 33 555 28 46 40

|

Established 15 years (2002-2017)

E-MAIL: CONTACT@ALLEZ-FRANCAIS.COM

WHAT’S NEW Email us your photos of France (with captions) to pictures@livingfrance.com See these and

WHAT’S NEW Email us your photos of France (with captions) to pictures@livingfrance.com See these and
WHAT’S NEW
Email us your photos of
France (with captions) to
pictures@livingfrance.com
See these and lots more on our
Instagram account @livingfrance
WINNER
of our Facebook cover
photo competition. To
submit a photo, follow us on
Facebook facebook.com/
livingfrancemagazine
Honfleur Mark Brouard
Flowers in Conques Nicola Rooney
the sea at St-Malo Louis Chavasse Thompson
son Euan running in
My
Tusson, Charente Polly Little
Aubeterre-sur-Dronne Andrew Kemp
FOR everything FRANCE there’s COMPLETE FRANCE
FOR
everything
FRANCE
there’s
COMPLETE
FRANCE
FOR everything FRANCE there’s COMPLETE FRANCE LIVING COMMUNITY FORUM HOLIDAYS & TRAVEL PROPERTY LANGUAGE
FOR everything FRANCE there’s COMPLETE FRANCE LIVING COMMUNITY FORUM HOLIDAYS & TRAVEL PROPERTY LANGUAGE
LIVING COMMUNITY FORUM HOLIDAYS & TRAVEL PROPERTY LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
LIVING
COMMUNITY FORUM
HOLIDAYS & TRAVEL
PROPERTY
LANGUAGE AND
CULTURE

Explore the best travel destinations in France

CULTURE Explore the best travel destinations in France Find news, offers, information and advice on all

Find news, offers, information and advice on all aspects of taking a holiday across the Channel

www.completefrance.com

Find news, offers, information and advice on all aspects of taking a holiday across the Channel
Find news, offers, information and advice on all aspects of taking a holiday across the Channel

WHERE TO LIVE

Vercors
Vercors

Pont-en-Royans overlooking La Bourne river

20 Living France August 2017
20 Living France August 2017
completefrance.com
completefrance.com
completefrance.com For lovers of sport, nature and history, the Vercors is the place to be,
completefrance.com
completefrance.com

For lovers of sport, nature and history, the Vercors is the place to be, especially if you also want the benefit of big cities nearby, as Kate McNally discovers

T here’s a little break in the French Alps where the northern massif gives way to the southern mountain range that is home to some of the

most breathtaking landscapes in Europe. Approaching from any direction (Die, Grenoble, Valence) across the low-lying plains that surround this limestone massif, it’s impossible not to look up and feel the mystical pull of the Vercors mountains looming ever larger as you progress upwards and inwards along roads clinging to the rocky cliff face. There is a definite feeling of leaving civilisation behind and entering the wild.

of leaving civilisation behind and entering the wild. Vercors AT A GLANCE 26 Ask the agent
Vercors AT A GLANCE
Vercors
AT A
GLANCE

26

Ask the agent Expert property advice

27

Properties

A

round-up of homes for sale

28

Case study

A

local expat tells her story

29

Fact file Useful info and contacts

August 2017 Living France 21

OPENING SPREAD © JACQUES84250/THINKSTOCK; THESE PAGES @ SERGE CAILLAULT; THOMAS HYTTE/ VERCORS TOURISME; KATE MCNALLY; PHOTOSORIN.COM/VERCORSTOURISME

WHERE TO LIVE

KATE MCNALLY; PHOTOSORIN.COM/VERCORSTOURISME WHERE TO LIVE Vercors du Vercors Musée de la Résistance Grotte de
Vercors du Vercors Musée de la Résistance Grotte de Choranche
Vercors
du Vercors
Musée de la Résistance
Grotte de Choranche

HISTORY LESSON

At the end of the 19th century, many young Italian men crossed the border, seeking employment and

a better life. Many from the Alpine

areas of Italy found work in the Vercors as woodcutters. Missing their pasta and with meat in short supply, they created their own style of ravioli,

filled instead with local cheese and parsley. The recipe was introduced to the locals, and today, la raviole

is an emblematic food of the area,

together with walnuts. Later, due to the fresh mountain air, the region became known for climatic healing, notably for sufferers of asthma, tuberculosis and other lung-related maladies. Following the Second World War, many children from bomb-hit towns and cities were sent here for restorative care. The Second World War marked the history of the Vercors massif. The geographical make-up of the region renders the Vercors a natural fortress, with the lower pre-Alps plains encircling the high mountain cliffs like a belt. Add to this the dense forests and hidden caves, and the massif was the ideal place for the young partisans of the French Resistance to regroup and train, ready to defend the free south from the Nazis. The story of the maquisards, as they were known, and the tragedy that ensued in June 1944, when Nazi forces penetrated the fortress in gliders and slaughtered injured fighters as well as the inhabitants of Vassieux, is superbly recounted at both the museum and memorial of the Resistance in Vassieux.

THE BEST OF BOTH DEPARTMENTS

The Vercors straddles two departments on an approximate north-south axis, with the upper half in Isère, the lower

half in Drôme, and groups together seven territories. There are no main towns in the region, rather a network of villages which, between them, provide the necessary services for the 52,000 inhabitants. A principal access route to the Vercors from the west is via the village of Pont- en-Royans, where the road bifurcates to

take you to the Quatre Montagnes area via the wonderful, if slightly scary, Gorges de la Bourne, or down towards the territory of Royans-Drôme where the roads open out to reveal wide pretty prairies against a dramatic mountain backdrop. A key access point through the ages, Pont-en-Royans has a fascinating history and is home to some remarkable houses built suspended out over the river on the rock face, which was a way of providing increased accommodation in the village in the busy 19th century.

The Vercors is perfect for walking and cycling

A NATURAL ADVENTURE

The area has a rich natural heritage, including gorges, canyons, caves, freshwater rivers, pretty valleys, lush plateaux prairies and forests galore, plus of course the imposing central massif, all of which are home to diverse flora and

fauna and several rare species of birds and fish. As well as being designated a regional nature park in 1970, the Vercors also contains France’s largest nature reserve, which stretches across 17,000 hectares protecting a large pine forest and more than 700 species of flora. But don’t be fooled by this picture of wilderness and conservation. This is no quiet, rural outback. In fact, the area has

a busy annual social and cultural agenda

– and not just for the many tourists who

flock there in winter and summer. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy a varied events programme and an endless choice of sporting activities. And should they want more, Valence and Grenoble are both just 50 minutes away by car. Tilly Cresswell, who has lived in this part of France with her family since 2000, says it was the lure of the “great outdoors adventure” that first brought them to the Vercors. “My husband was a keen climber,” Tilly explains. “He discovered the area by chance on a caving holiday and wanted to return for the climbing. We fell in love with the area and eventually followed our hearts here. It’s ideal for outdoor types, though you have to be up for an adventure as we get all the seasons here, including beautiful summers but also cold winters with lots of snow.”

Mémorial de la Résistance in Vassieux The MORE ONLINE Our complete guide to the Auvergne-
Mémorial de la Résistance in Vassieux
The
MORE
ONLINE
Our complete guide to the Auvergne-
Rhône-Alpes region
completefrance.com/regions-of-france

22 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

Skiing in Autrans Villard-de-Lans ski resort
Skiing in Autrans
Villard-de-Lans ski resort

village’s first mechanised ski lift and the creation of its ice hockey team, Les Ours. When three villages in the region hosted events for the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics, the Vercors’ reputation for winter sports was sealed, enhanced ever since by the international success of local sportsmen and women. Today, the Vercors is a popular family ski destination and also has a biathlon centre where many of France’s international biathletes train.

ECONOMY OF THE VERCORS

Despite the mountainous terrain, the Vercors has long been linked to the peripheral low-lying areas thanks to the many passes that traverse the region facilitating access, either on foot or horseback. The rivers also provided a means for transporting goods in the past, and regular big markets known as foires brought farmers and tradespeople together at key crossing points to exchange their wares. Towards the end of the 19th century, roads were built, bringing the Vercors into the modern era and greater economic development. Agricultural production gathered pace (hay, livestock, cheese and butter), mills popped up along the river producing flour and walnut oil, while greater exploitation of the region’s forests opened up new markets. Easier access also heralded the start of the tourist trade, which revolutionised the social and economic world of the Vertacomiriens (inhabitants of the Vercors) during the 20th century. Many people were attracted by the area’s beauty, others by the health benefits of the pure mountain air, and later, many more still by the incredible array of sporting and outdoor activities that developed.

array of sporting and outdoor activities that developed. SPORT, SPORT AND MORE SPORT Inevitably, the region’s

SPORT, SPORT AND MORE SPORT

Inevitably, the region’s natural riches are a major draw for sports lovers who come in all seasons to practise an incredibly diverse range of activities – skiing (downhill and cross-country), horse riding, cycling, hiking, climbing, canyoning, potholing, paragliding, and there’s even a golf course up on the plateau! Extreme sports are also catered for (wingsuit flying, downhill mountain biking on the ski slopes in spring/summer) and the huge cliff face at Presles attracts advanced climbers from all over the world. In the early 20th century, the Vercors started to make a name for itself as a destination for winter sports, and in 1931 the world ski championship was held in the village of Villard-de-Lans. The same year marked the inauguration of the

One of the most magnificent roads in the Alps, Combe Laval is carved into the
One of the most magnificent roads in the
Alps, Combe Laval is carved into the cliff

© THOMAS HYTTE/VERCORS TOURISME; SANTOSHA57/FOTOLIA

WHERE TO LIVE

Vercors
Vercors
TOURISME; SANTOSHA57/FOTOLIA WHERE TO LIVE Vercors There is a definite feeling of leaving civilisation behind
There is a definite feeling of leaving civilisation behind and entering the wild Today, much
There is a definite feeling of
leaving civilisation behind
and entering the wild
Today, much of
the economy is driven
by tourism. With an
advantageous climate,
influenced by the
mountains, the ocean and
the Mediterranean south,
the Vercors attracts
visitors for around three
QUALITY OF LIFE
CAPITAL IDEAS GRENOBLE Known as the ‘capital of the Alps’ due to its size and
CAPITAL IDEAS
GRENOBLE
Known as the ‘capital of the Alps’
due to its size and proximity to
the mountains, Isère’s capital
Grenoble (pictured above) is also
an important centre for learning
and scientific research with its
large university, which dates back
to 1339. The journey by train from
Paris to Grenoble takes three hours,
and on an average weekday there
are 26 trains per day running
between the capital and Grenoble.
VALENCE
Valence is the capital of the Drôme
department and is often referred
to as ‘the gateway to the south of
France’. As the local saying goes,
À Valence le Midi commence (in
Valence the Midi begins), which
pays tribute to the city’s southern
culture. The high-speed TGV line
connects Paris to Valence in just
two hours 11 minutes.

quarters of the year. For anyone with language skills or experience in the hospitality trade, it should be possible to find work. Another potential source of employment for expats moving to the area with building and carpentry skills could be in chalet construction – many new builds in the Vercors are wooden chalets. Away from tourism, the area has numerous artisan producers, self- employed independents and some creative artists. Many inhabitants have different jobs for the different seasons. “A local goat farmer we know makes cheese in summer and clears the snow from the roads in winter,” says Tilly. “People living here are quite innovative, you don’t get stuck in one role – it certainly expands your horizons.” Similarly, Laurent and Mélanie Baras, based close to Villard-de-Lans, run complementary activities around their love of horses. Laurent runs a riding stable, while Mélanie has a successful organic cosmetics range (Perle de Jument) using milk from the mares they breed. She had no previous experience in cosmetics but they needed a second revenue source and she saw the potential.

Laurent and Mélanie Baras are typical of people going or returning to the area, who choose to give up city living in favour of downsizing for a better quality of life. As Tilly explains, it’s not just the clean air and outdoor activities – many local people have opted for the ‘retour à la terre’ lifestyle, embracing healthy eating, simple living and a cooperative approach. Tilly and her husband Dorian run a restaurant, Le Dragon Vert in Presles, serving organic, home-made food. She says many of the locals helped them to decorate the restaurant when they started. “They didn’t want anything in return,” she says. “They know we will do the same for them whenever they need help.” Meanwhile property in the area is still relatively well priced in comparison to the surrounding urban areas, but prices are being pushed up as the roads improve, thus attracting the commuter market for nearby big towns. Tilly and Dorian’s home is typical of local farmhouses, and came with three barns, one of which they have converted into a gîte. “We bought our stone farmhouse almost 20 years ago when property here was that much cheaper,” says Tilly. “When people ask us now what we paid for it, they are quite envious!”

TURN OVER For an estate agent’s view plus a selection of properties for sale
TURN OVER
For an estate agent’s view plus
a selection of properties for sale
For an estate agent’s view plus a selection of properties for sale 24 Living France August

24 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

HEALTHCARE IN FRANCE What are your options?
HEALTHCARE IN FRANCE
What are your options?
HEALTHCARE IN FRANCE What are your options? Contact us now for more information, or see our

Contact us now for more information, or see our website for full details

www.exclusivehealthcare.com

Email: enquiries@exclusivehealthcare.com

ALL

ENQUIRIES

+33 (0) 494 403 145

ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM
ALL ENQUIRIES +33 (0) 494 403 145 IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM

IN THE HEART OF THE VERCORS, PROPERTY DATING FROM 1773 WITH ORIGINAL FEATURES

With its steep, winding roads and numerous conservation areas and places of outstanding natural beauty, the Vercors offers the perfect compromise between mountains and easy access to motorways, airports, TGV and ski resorts.

The property comprises : a maison de maître with living space of 340m2, 2 outbuildings (245m2 and 130m2) which could be renovated into gites, or used to house your favourite animals! Fishing lake and park.

The maison de maître comprises a fitted kitchen, a living room with large authentic fireplace, 4 bedrooms, each with ensuite. There is another floor of 170m2 which could be converted to provide 4 further bedrooms. A large terrace with two majestic stones staircases, inside and outside.

This is an ideal spot for lovers of nature and sport alike.

Prix 760,000€
Prix
760,000€

Contact : Monique Clément | Immoroyans.com | clement.monique@free.fr

Missed out on an interesting article? Price per issue, including P&P: • UK £4.50 •
Missed out on an
interesting article?
Price per issue, including P&P:
• UK £4.50 • Europe £5.50 • RoW £6.50
For a full list of back issues available
+44 (0)1858 438788
£6.50 For a full list of back issues available +44 (0)1858 438788 completefrance.com August 2017 Living

WHERE TO LIVE

Vercors
Vercors
Monique Clément of Immoroyans tells us why the Vercors is a hidden gem for British
Monique Clément of Immoroyans tells
us why the Vercors is a hidden gem for
British buyers looking for a French home
HOW MUCH WOULD YOU EXPECT TO PAY FOR: A three-bed town house? €90,000 A detached
HOW
MUCH WOULD
YOU EXPECT TO PAY FOR:
A three-bed town house?
€90,000
A
detached property
in good condition?
€180,000
A
renovation project?
€80,000 to buy and then
€100,000 to renovate.
NOTAIRES FIGURES
VERCORS MASSIF
€267,400
Average house price
€2,320/m 2
Average apartment price
DRÔME
€185,000
Average house price
€1,350/m 2
Average apartment price
ISÈRE
€206,700
Average house price
€2,080/m 2
Average apartment price
Source: Notaires de France

How much are the cheapest and most expensive properties that you have for sale in the Vercors? The cheapest property we have for sale is on the market for €45,000; the most expensive is €760,000.

Can you tell us about the local

architecture of the area? The architecture is different depending on whether you are on the plain or in the mountains. On the plain, it is characterized

by farms with walnut dryers (this area is known for its AOC Grenoble walnuts). These dryers are usually built in stone or wooden planks on the ground floor. In the mountains, the houses are also in stone but the roofs are steeper and they have lauze stairs (made from flat stones found in the region). The thinking behind stairs like this was to have easy access to the roof so that residents could get rid of snow after big storms.

Do you have many British buyers? We have a few foreign clients, especially English and Dutch. I remember one English couple particularly well. I sold a house and three gîtes to them seven years ago (turn to page 28 to read their interview). The property was in a poor condition but this brave English couple renovated the entire property and made it into a marvel where they could welcome cyclists from all over the world and help them discover the Vercors by bike. Their success is really remarkable.

Mountain chalet You’ll have no neighbours around you in this four- bedroom home but the village of La Chapelle-en- Vercors is closeby. Set on 1,860m² of land, the property has wooden furnishings and low sloping ceilings; typical of the mountain chalet style. It also boasts magnificent mountain views.

ON THE MARKET

€149,000
€149,000

What kind of budget does your typical British buyer have? It varies; usually between €120,000 and €200,000. What is important to remember is that a beautiful house in the Vercors costs the same price as a studio in London.

What do you think British buyers tend to want to buy? The English are very fond of old stone houses which have ‘soul’. They’re not too concerned about whether the property has good insualtion or not beause many don’t live here during the winter.

What’s the most unusual request that you’ve had from a client?

I had clients who wanted to buy a

property with space where they could land their small plane – they were aviation enthusiasts. However, it was difficult to meet all of their criteria. So I sold them a house on the edge of the local aero club and they are delighted with their purchase.

What is the property market like in the Vercors at the moment ? There has been a long period of calm but over the past eight months or so, it feels like the market has been bouncing back. Interest rates are at their lowest and threatening to rise, so people are encouraged to invest now rather than remain a tenant.

What are your predictions for the property market in the Vercors?

I am quite optimistic about the future of our property market because the Vercors

is really a region that has many assets. The prices are not as low as in the centre of France but they are much more accessible than in the south. Therefore we are a good middle ground for buyers who do not have

a very big budget but who still want to be in

a dynamic and sunny area that is close to the mountains.

What’s the best thing about living in the Vercors? The Vercors is ideal for lovers of nature and sport activities. I think living in the Vercors is a good way to maintain your youth! immoroyans.com

in the Vercors is a good way to maintain your youth! immoroyans.com 26 Living France August

26 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

Vercors
Vercors

WHERE TO LIVE

If you’re looking for a location that’s rural yet not remote, with amenities and adventure on the doorstep, you’ll find a home to suit in Vercors

€169,000 1 This three-bedroom property is located in the commune of St-André-en-Royans. It comprises an
€169,000
1 This three-bedroom property
is located in the commune of
St-André-en-Royans. It comprises
an open-plan kitchen, several
outbuildings and an attic that could
be converted. A south-facing terrace
is ideal for taking in the mountainous
views and 300m² of adjoining land.
Contact: Immoroyans
immoroyans.com
€210,000
€210,000

2 Dating from the 19th century, this stone-built house already has five

bedrooms but offers plenty of potential for further expansion in the form of a convertible attic space and outbuildings. Located in the village of Oriol-en-Royans, it is just 50 minutes from Grenoble and 35 minutes from the nearest ski resorts. Contact: Sextant Properties sextantproperties.com

€367,500
€367,500

3 Located close to ski resorts and cycling routes, this villa near the

village of Corps would suit lovers of the great outdoors. The 280m² of living space includes six bedrooms, a modern kitchen and a dining room with a woodburner. Tastefully decorated, it would be perfect as a chambres d’hôtes. Contact: Leggett Immobilier leggettfrance.com

€410,000
€410,000

4 With nine bedrooms and five bathrooms, this villa in the commune of La Chapelle-

en-Vercors also has potential as a chambres d’hôtes. Built in the 1950s, the property is spread across three floors. This home is situated in a quiet area with 5,000m² of land, and the little balcony is the perfect place to appreciate the property’s scenic surroundings. Contact: 3G Immo Consultant

3gimmobilier.com

completefrance.com

€890,000 5 This seven-bedroom home in Lans-en-Vercors has been tastefully decorated in a fresh, modern
€890,000
5 This seven-bedroom home in
Lans-en-Vercors has been tastefully
decorated in a fresh, modern style, while
the external wood finish is sympathetic
to its mountainous surroundings. The
property comprises five bathrooms,
five toilets, a cellar and ample parking
space within its 2,396m² of land.
Contact: Belles Demeures
bellesdemeures.com
€1,490,000
€1,490,000

6 Set in 90 hectares of land in the foothills of the Vercors, this six-bedroom house

has a large living and dining area, while the vaulted salon opens out to a terrace that boasts sweeping views of the surrounding hills. It’s a pricier option, but you do also get a wine cellar, horse stables and a heated swimming pool for your money. Contact: My French House my-french-house.com

August 2017 Living France 27

TURN OVER for an expat’s view of St-Jean-en-Royans plus our fact file
TURN OVER for an expat’s view of St-Jean-en-Royans plus our fact file

WHERE TO LIVE

Vercors
Vercors

After leaving a stressful London life behind, Teresa Harte enjoys running a cycling holiday company

How did you come to settle in St-Jean-en-Royans? Roger, my late husband, finished the last two years of his international cycling career with a French team called Vélo Club Romanais Peageois, based in Romans-sur- Isère, back in 1989 and immediately fell in love with the area. I joined him in 1990 and having borrowed an old shopping bike from the directeur sportif of his team, set off to explore the region while he was out training. I felt liberated and couldn’t get enough of the quiet, pothole-free roads and I found the huge diversity of terrain so exciting. We considered staying in France after he finished his contract, but at the age of 24 I felt I needed to get back to London and ‘get a real job’. It wasn’t until 2007 that we decided to move to France having had enough of the stresses of London life.

What attracted you to the Vercors? We knew it was an undiscovered gem for cyclists with its spectacular landscape, routes, quiet roads and clement climate.

Did you find it easy to find a property? We set our sights on St-Jean-en-Royans as we had some good Australian friends who spent three months every year there. We contacted Monique Clément (see our interview on page 26), a local estate agent in St-Jean and set a date to view some properties. The property we bought was the second property we viewed and the moment I visited the former wood mill, I knew I would be very happy to live here.

former wood mill, I knew I would be very happy to live here. Teresa Harte (

Teresa Harte (second from left) with the Vélo Vercors team, who organise tours for cyclists of all levels

28 Living France August 2017

for cyclists of all levels 28 Living France August 2017 The fact that the property had

The fact that the property had three gîtes was a bonus and gave us the idea to set up a specialist cycling holiday base. Over the years we’ve added B&B rooms, an outside barn for guests to relax and eat, and designed a wonderful garden and potager.

What led you to set up Vélo Vercors? As an ex-international rider with 13 years of riding in Europe and representing GB as a top amateur, Roger knew what makes a great cycling holiday. He was also passionate about the Vercors and wanted to make it a cycling destination for cyclists from all around the world. I had the marketing and PR skills (prior to moving to France I was marketing manager at Virgin Records), so we complemented each other very well. However, there was no strategic plan and Vélo Vercors was born out of an organic process, year-on-year continually renovating the old wood mill, converting the caves into B&B rooms and continually addressing the needs of our guests. The 10th anniversary of Vélo Vercors is in 2018 and we have achieved our goal of making the Vercors a ‘destination’ for cyclists.

Describe your local landscape – what makes it so enjoyable to cycle there? The Vercors is home to some of the most impressive roads in France with spectacular scenery from soaring limestone cliffs, vertiginous drops to the

valleys below, gorges, canyons, rivers and grassy plateaux. Within a very short distance, the terrain changes from Alpine cols, to the rolling hills of the Drôme, to the flatter Isère valley roads, and the choice of routes is huge. Roads are very quiet with only local traffic, no potholes and a smooth tarmac finish. The Tour de France has visited the region on numerous occasions and there are many local cycling events to enjoy.

What do you most enjoy about living in the Vercors? There are so many things I love about this area: the spectacular scenery, the tranquil roads, the weather, the fact that it’s a working French region inhabited by mainly French nationals. I love the fact that our friends meet up to make things like wild boar sausages and pâté.

Is there a special place in the Vercors that you particularly like to visit? Any bike ride in the Vercors is special but the descent down the Combe Laval gorge is spectacular and exhilarating and it was my husband’s favourite. In his memory, the community of St-Jean-en-Royans have erected a bench in a beautiful spot where former guests can stop to pause for a little while and remember him, so it’s even more special now. velovercors.com

stop to pause for a little while and remember him, so it’s even more special now.

completefrance.com

Vercors Department: The Vercors takes its name from the Massif south of Grenoble and spans
Vercors
Department:
The Vercors takes its name from the Massif south
of Grenoble and spans two departments – Drôme
and Isère. This area of outstanding natural beauty
is one of France’s regional nature parks set upon a
limestone plateau covering 330,000 acres.
Drôme and Isère
Region: Auvergne-
Rhône-Alpes
Capital: Valence
(Drôme), Grenoble
(Isère)
POPULATION
EDUCATION
LOCAL BANKS
GETTING THERE
Isère: 1,235,387 (2013)
Drôme: 494,712 (2013)
Source: insee.fr
School term dates
Vercors is in Zone A
education.gouv.fr
BNP Paribas
By plane: The nearest
12
Place Paul Mistral
38000
Grenoble
Tel: 00 33 (0)8 20 82 00 01
CLIMATE
League table of schools
(Drôme)
linternaute.com/ville/lycee/
HSBC
airports are Grenoble (58km) and
Lyon (110km).
By train: Nearest stations are
Grenoble and Valence.
By car: Approx. 40 mins from
It can be very cold on the
high plateaux during winter.
8
Place de la République
drome/departement-26
26000
Valence
Tel: 00 33 (0)8 10 24 68 10
Grenoble (Isère):
Average min temp: 6.30C
Average max temp: 16.20C
Average annual rainfall: 934.3mm
Annual sunny days: 88
League table of schools (Isère)
linternaute.com/ville/lycee/isere/
Valence or Grenoble in the north,
and 45 minutes from Die in the
south. Six hours from Paris, three
hours from Marseille.
departement-38
HEALTHCARE AND
SOCIAL SECURITY
GETTING AROUND
CPAM de l’Isère
Métrovélo (metrovelo.
PROPERTY
2
Rue des Alliés
Montélimar (Drôme):
Average min temp: 9.20C
Average max temp: 18.50C
Average annual rainfall:
Chambre des notaires
de la Drôme – Alixan
Tel: 00 33 (0)4 75 60 06 11
chambre.drome@notaires.fr
38045
Grenoble
CPAM de La Drôme
Avenue du Président Herriot
fr) offers bikes for hire from 32
rental stations around the city of
Grenoble for €3 per day.
Libélo (velo-libelo.fr) has bikes for
hire at 20 stations across Valence
905.3mm
chambre-26.notaires.fr
26000
Valence
from €1 per day.
Annual sunny days: 111.25
Chambre des notaires de l’Isère
– Seyssins
Tel: 00 33 (0)4 76 48 13 47
chambre.isere@notaires.fr
URSSAF Drôme
Place de Dunkerque
Actibus operates shuttle buses
between Grenoble airport and
EXPAT GROUPS
26000
Valence
the city’s bus station. actibus.com
Open House (Grenoble)
English-speaking cultural
association in Grenoble. Activities
include coffee mornings,
children’s parties, summer picnics
and barbecues, excursions, etc.
openhousegrenoble.com
chambre-38.notaires.fr
URSSAF Grenoble
The Citéa bus network operates
1
Rue des Alliés
across Valence. citea.info
38000
Grenoble
WORK AND
BUSINESS
CARSAT (Caisse d’assurance
OPPORTUNITIES
Chambre de Commerce et
d’Industrie (CCI) Grenoble
grenoble.cci.fr
retraite et de la santé au travail)
Rhône-Alpes
The OùRA! contactless travel
card enables users to travel on
the train and bus network across
Drôme and Isère. oura.com
Alliance Française Grenoble
afgrenoble.org
27
Rue André Maginot
USEFUL WEBSITES
Accueil des Villes Françaises
Grenoble
avf.asso.fr/fr/grenoble
Accueil des Villes Françaises
Drôme
avf.asso.fr/fr/valence
Chambre de Commerce et
d’Industrie (CCI) Drôme
drome.cci.fr
HOSPITALS
isere-tourisme.com
Les Hôpitaux Drôme
en.auvergnerhonealpes-
Nord
Two locations: Romans-sur-Isère
and St-Vallier
tourisme.com
ladrometourisme.com
Pôle Emploi – Grenoble
1 rue d’Armenie
vercors-drome.com
vercors.fr
38000
Grenoble
Speleo Vercors
An English-speaking club
specialising in Vercors caving
speleo-vercors.org
Pôle Emploi – Valence
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire
Grenoble Alpes
Avenue Maquis du Grésivaudan
333 avenue Victor Hugo
38700
La Tronche
26000
Valence
chu-grenoble.fr
Conseil départemental
(for education, transport,
environment, sport)
isere.fr; ladrome.fr

FACT FILE

WHERE TO LIVE

completefrance.com

August 2017 Living France 29

environment, sport) isere.fr; ladrome.fr FACT FILE WHERE TO LIVE completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 29
environment, sport) isere.fr; ladrome.fr FACT FILE WHERE TO LIVE completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 29

LIFESTYLE

30 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

Falling in love with a Frenchman brought Welsh entrepreneur Nia Jenkins Hafsia to Dordogne where

Falling in love with a Frenchman brought Welsh entrepreneur Nia Jenkins Hafsia to Dordogne where she runs a successful handmade soap and skincare business, as Susie Hunting finds out

N ia Jenkins Hafsia has been passionate about handmade skincare products since she was a teenager, having suffered

with bad skin and asthma. Her desire to formulate a natural solution to skincare problems drove the Welsh entrepreneur to open her first shop formulating natural perfumes nearly 25 years ago. And it wasn’t just her skincare business that was set to blossom: Nia met her husband Karim through their love of natural soap and his terrible allergies to any synthetic perfumes. “He came into my shop, with all those aromas, and didn’t choke to death. That day I gained a new client and a new love,” remembers Nia. The couple decided to move to south- west France together where Nia loved the temperate unpolluted climate. “As you know, in Wales it rains twice a year – both times for six months – so when we came here with the wonderful weather, and short winters, it completely changed my health,” says Nia, who turns 60 this year.

Nia and Karim moved to Bergerac in Dordogne and Nia launched her new soap business, ‘Passion Savon’, in 2005 producing natural, high-quality soaps and other skincare products. For three years Nia had a shop in Bergerac’s Old Town where she sold her products. “Although I had an atelier there of about 50m 2 that was fine for making the soap, the house was lost in the countryside and it was impossible to have a soap boutique there. The costs of the rent and rates in Bergerac were huge, so we decided to start looking for another premises, where we could have our home, the atelier and a soap boutique all in the same location,” says Nia. The couple began searching for a suitable property that would tick all of these boxes, and they were lucky enough to find the old Moulin de Bourgnac nearby, as Nia explains. “We had both always wanted to live in a mill and the association with water fitted wonderfully with the manufacture of soap.”

with water fitted wonderfully with the manufacture of soap.” completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 31
with water fitted wonderfully with the manufacture of soap.” completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 31
with water fitted wonderfully with the manufacture of soap.” completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 31

LIFESTYLE

Each bar of Nia’s 100g soap is cut from 9kg blocks. She uses a ‘cold
Each bar of Nia’s 100g soap is
cut from 9kg blocks. She uses a
‘cold process’ of saponification as
opposed to the hot process used
for most commercial soaps, as it
keeps the ingredients ‘fresh’ and
more therapeutic. Extra-virgin
olive oil from Andalucía, argan
oil, almond butter and the Grand
Cru shea butter are put with pure
essential oils, natural spring water,
fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers,
perfumes, herbs and botanicals.
“There is a huge difference
between the hot and cold process.
Using the hot process, for me, is
ridiculous – you have nothing left
when you ‘cook’ something. So
many people are using chemical-
based products such as shower
gels, shampoos, bubble baths full
of sodium sulphate; a disaster for
the skin and harmful to the earth.
Whereas, when our soaps
are washed away there is
nothing in them that is
harmful,” explains Nia.
there is nothing in them that is harmful,” explains Nia. The atelier took a year to

The atelier took a year to build, and was built by a local craftsman who works only with wood, so all the nails and screws are also made of wood. “It is very well insulated so we have an ambient temperature of between 20 and 28°C during the year, which is perfect for the saponification of our ‘cold process’ natural soap.” Nia has developed over 80 soaps and other skincare products which she sells in her boutique and around the world through her website. She uses plant- based, nourishing ingredients – with gentle infusions of herbs and oils and unique blends of pure essential oils – to create skincare products which are free from parabens, petrochemicals,

products which are free from parabens, petrochemicals, 32 Living France August 2017 sulphates and synthetic

32 Living France August 2017

parabens, petrochemicals, 32 Living France August 2017 sulphates and synthetic fragrances and colours. Nia does not
parabens, petrochemicals, 32 Living France August 2017 sulphates and synthetic fragrances and colours. Nia does not

sulphates and synthetic fragrances and colours. Nia does not claim any medical benefits, but her clients swear by her products that help with skin complaints such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. Nia admits that she would have struggled to set up the business without the help of her French husband Karim. “I am lucky to be married to a very clever Frenchman who is aware of all the rules and regulations, and is able to take control of the administrative side of the business, i.e the bank, accountants, taxes, insurance, etc. Otherwise, to be honest, it would have been very daunting for me,” says Nia. “Even now when I see how what we pay in taxes is more than half of what we earn, it’s hard, so I am very fortunate that I am so passionate about the business.”

completefrance.com

Because everything is made by hand, every time I cut a new soap it’s very
Because everything is made
by hand, every time I cut a
new soap it’s very exciting.
Each one is unique. I am
still learning every day.
I never get bored

NATURE’S WAY

Nia uses natural French clays, minerals and spices as colouring for the soaps – turmeric for yellow, paprika for orange, sandalwood for purple, spinach and nettles for green. She uses cocoa powder to create chocolate-brown, bamboo charcoal for a black, and pink Himalayan salt or poppy seeds for exfoliating. “We use vanilla seeds, chocolate, champagne and local Bordeaux wine which is a lovely reflection of the area,” says Nia. She also strives to use local produce where possible. “We use locally produced hazelnut and walnut oil, hemp oil, strawberries, kiwis and tomatoes, which all give the soap textures and aroma,” she says. “We use carrot oil to enhance the effect of raw carrots full of beta-carotene for the complexion, pureed cucumber, fresh mint, basil and fenugreek.” Dried flowers including cornflower petals, calendula, marigold, jasmine and rose

are used for decoration, many of which she grows in her garden. At 18, Nia went to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff to study opera, piano and flute. A mezzo- soprano, she sang at eisteddfods before deciding to start the soap-making venture. Has her musical background helped her with putting together all these ‘notes’, a bit like an orchestra where each different instrument and sound magically combines to produce a harmonious wonderful creation? She laughs. “It’s a good analogy Maybe, but as an aromatherapist, you understand which essential oils go together. These oils have base, middle and top notes like a perfume and, like people, they work better together. They don’t like being alone.” Nia reveals that after 30 years of making soap, she has been able to perfect her formulations and recipes. “Beauty products in France are strictly regulated and have to be certified by a chartered chemist. Each soap may contain 25 ingredients, when you count the colours, the essential oils, the fruits, vegetables, the botanicals, the flowers. You must show the percentage of each one and the supplier. A small company like mine has to do it, but so does L’Oréal, etc. It’s the law. For the consumer it’s a safety precaution,” she explains.

the consumer it’s a safety precaution,” she explains. Top left: Nia and Karim making soap in
Top left: Nia and Karim making soap in their workshop Above: The Moulin de Bourgnac
Top left: Nia and Karim making soap in their workshop
Above: The Moulin de Bourgnac in Dordogne
Below: Some of the soaps look like works of art
Bourgnac in Dordogne Below: Some of the soaps look like works of art completefrance.com August 2017

LIFESTYLE

COVETED AWARD

This dedication to quality, attention to detail and Nia’s unlimited imagination earned her the prestigious and much-coveted French Maître Artisan d’Art designation in 2015. “Receiving the award has certainly boosted the business,” she says. “Karim says that I am the only soap maker in France to have it, which is funny as I am Welsh. They usually give it to the French.” Nia’s passion for exploring essential oils has its roots in her teenage years. “I had chronic acne as a teenager. No treatments worked, and then I discovered aromatherapy just by chance. I’d go for tea on a Sunday with my aunt. She was a herbalist and when I started reading her books, I was hooked. She loved picking wild flowers and plants to make tisanes and infusions. Then

a local chemist, who was ahead of his time

regarding alternative medicine, gave me three essential oils: lavender, lemon and eucalyptus,” she remembers. Inspired, Nia researched and read everything available at that time until she started making simple products based on natural oils. “I made one soap, one balm and one cleanser. By then I had progressed to buying at least 30 essential oils,” says Nia, who made the products for friends and family before word got round and people started asking her to sell to them. “My father had

terrible arthritis; he was a prolific writer and had painful bunions on his finger joints. So

I made a blend of eight anti-inflammatory,

analgesic essential oils. After a few months

analgesic essential oils. After a few months Above: The atelier took a year to build Below
Above: The atelier took a year to build Below (left to right): Karim and Nia
Above: The atelier took a year to build
Below (left to right): Karim and Nia at
Savonnerie Passion Savon; people flock to
the free demonstrations that Nia gives every
Saturday afternoon to learn about the magic
of soap making
Saturday afternoon to learn about the magic of soap making he could use his fingers again

he could use his fingers again and it became a

huge seller in Wales. I’m still selling it today.” When Nia looks to the future, she still sees herself creating new recipes for skincare products. “My first little company in Wales 30 years ago was making 12 products which I ran from my kitchen. I will always be doing this.

I absolutely love it. There is always something

new to discover. It’s only my imagination that limits me and I have a very good imagination.” Every Saturday, Nia holds a soap-making demonstration at the atelier, which has been a

big success. “People love seeing the soap being made. I think of our product as more than just soap; more a truly unique skincare experience but I also like to make it look and smell as beautiful as possible,” she says. “Because everything is made by hand, every time I cut

a new soap it’s very exciting. It’s never the

same. The design is always different which means when you buy one, it’s unique. I am still learning every day. I never get bored.”

passion-savon.fr

I am still learning every day. I never get bored.” passion-savon.fr 34 Living France August 2017

34 Living France August 2017

I am still learning every day. I never get bored.” passion-savon.fr 34 Living France August 2017
I am still learning every day. I never get bored.” passion-savon.fr 34 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from
LES MERLES By REB
LES MERLES
By REB
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac
LES MERLES By REB Villas for sale 3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac

Villas for sale

3 - 4 bedrooms, 140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town.

140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town . Development under Dutch supervision Golf
140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town . Development under Dutch supervision Golf
140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town . Development under Dutch supervision Golf
140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town . Development under Dutch supervision Golf
140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town . Development under Dutch supervision Golf
140m2 15 minutes from Bergerac Airport and the old town . Development under Dutch supervision Golf

Development under Dutch supervision Golf course and swimming pool Gastronomic restaurant South facing gardens

Maintenance

Hospitality

Finance

Rental

For more information:

lesmerlesbyreb.com or call +31 (0)20 330 1654

© M6

LIFESTYLE the world you haven’t delved you into of French shows TV, out how yet
LIFESTYLE
the world
you
haven’t
delved
you into
of French shows
TV,
out how yet helps
your favourite
Claire
Winterton
they can improve your language skills
discover
and If finds

W e spend over eight years of our lives on average glued to the box, so there’s no doubt it’s a popular pastime and

part of our national identity. But when we move abroad, language and cultural differences make it difficult to tune into local TV. It can feel like too much effort when you don’t know which programmes to watch or who anyone is, but it’s a fun way to experience ‘real’ life. Plus, it helps with making small talk when you’re chatting to the neighbours. Just like in Britain, popular TV shows are common topics of conversation in France and it’s great to know what they’re talking about – even if you don’t understand every word. Knowing that last year’s winner of Le Meilleur Pâtissier (France’s version of The Great British Bake Off) was Australian-born, Paris-living Chelsea Wilson will earn you big brownie points with cake-loving locals.

SPEAKING IN TONGUES

But can watching your favourite shows actually help you learn the language? According to the blog ‘10 best French TV series to learn French’, from the website FluentU.com, watching en français is “guaranteed to be useful, regardless of your level of proficiency. Let’s face it – French isn’t an easy language to learn for the beginner, especially because of its pronunciation and complex grammar rules. By watching French TV shows we

can pick up the pronunciation and increase our vocabulary as well.” But, beginner speakers of French, beware. Founder of FrenchToday.com, Camille Chevalier-Karfis, fears that, for people with a low level, watching TV can be a frustrating way to study the language as they won’t understand anything. “I believe most students should ‘enjoy’ TV in French, and may pick out a word or two, hear the accents, and simply enjoy the process, rather than use it as a tool for learning,” she said. However, she recommends it for more advanced speakers. “They can learn a lot of new vocabulary this way, hear lots of different accents, have fun – and it’s free! If you are an advanced speaker of French, I’d recommend watching the same show over and over until you understand everything. Watch without the subtitles, pause, repeat, write it down and then learn the new vocabulary and expressions. TV can be a great learning tool if you go the extra mile and actually study with it.”

learning tool if you go the extra mile and actually study with it.” 36 Living France

36 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

I watch French programmes with I watch French programmes English subtitles Twitter poll @LivingFrance We
I watch French
programmes with
I watch French
programmes
English subtitles
Twitter poll @LivingFrance
We asked our followers…
Do you watch French
TV or do you stick to
English shows?
I watch
I watch French
English
versions of English

programmes programmes

Despite having to rely on English subtitles, these French series have hooked British viewers Spin,
Despite having to rely
on English subtitles,
these French series have
hooked British viewers
Spin, More4 – Called Les
Hommes de l’ombre in France,
this political thriller sees cabinet
members clamouring for power
following the assassination of
the French president.
The Disappearance, BBC Four
– Lyon-based thriller about a
missing teen, called Disparue
in French.
Spiral, BBC Four – Murder
investigation series set in Paris,
called Engrenages in French.
Versailles, BBC2 – Set during
the construction of the Palace
of Versailles during the reign of
Louis XIV, it was mainly filmed
in English, with French actors
relegated to supporting roles.
The Returned, More4 –
American remake of the French
supernatural TV series Les
Revenants. The first season won
an International Emmy for Best
Drama Series in 2013.
START WATCHING FRENCH
PROGRAMMES BEFORE YOU MOVE

Virgin Media has expanded its international TV offering in the UK with the launch of three new countries on its Worldbox app, and France is one of them. French Bouquet includes four channels offering a range of programmes covering news and culture, and there’s also a cartoon channel for children.

CULTURE CLUB

There are also cultural benefits of watching French TV – and not just culture with a capital C, according to Gaëlle Planchenault, Associate Professor in the Department of French at Simon Fraser University. “When I mention the ‘cultural’ aspect of the language, I do not only refer to arts, literature, history, or other cultural

artifacts that are often attached to French,” she explains. “To me, culture is also a part of the language itself, what makes it tick, what makes it alive. A language is more than the fixed forms in textbooks; it is constantly evolving. Manners of speaking say a lot about speakers – their background, the context of communication as well as their moods or the nature of the relationship. Knowing all this makes learning a language truly exciting. When we watch TV, we are exposed to naturalistic ways of speaking that are often totally different from the French spoken inside the classroom.” So what would Gaëlle recommend as

a good TV programme to get us started? “The recent TV series Dix Pour Cent is

a good way to familiarise yourself with French programmes,” she says. “It was

very successful in France and was held as an example of good quality television. It

is also humorous, fast-paced and features

well-known French actors.” If you’re looking for something a little more familiar, read on for our suggestions of programmes you might recognise.

on for our suggestions of programmes you might recognise. If you like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares ,

If you like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you will love Cauchemar en Cuisine, M6

Michelin-starred chef Philippe Etchebest takes a less expletive-ridden approach to helping troubled restaurateurs than his fiery counterpart Gordon Ramsay, but he’s not shy to point out their mistakes in his bid to steer them away from bankruptcy.

If you like The Great British Bake Off, you will love Le Meilleur Pâtissier, M6

Regular viewers of GBBO will immediately feel at home with the theme tune and opening credits of the French version. Le Meilleur Pâtissier follows a similar format to the British one, with one presenter, currently Julia Vignali, and two judges – Michelin-starred chef Cyril Lignac and food blogger Mercotte. The challenges are very similar to GBBO, but for the show- stopper (épreuve créative), a distinguished guest is invited to help judge.

If you like Location, Location, Location, you will love Recherche Appartement Ou Maison, M6 The
If you like Location, Location,
Location, you
will love Recherche
Appartement Ou Maison, M6
The Phil and Kirstie of
French property
programmes, Stéphane
house-hunters to find
Plaza guides
their dream
their
home within
budget. Although the
clearly
the star
of
charming Stéphane is
the Paris and
the show, he only deals with
St-Tropez regions.
He has a
team of other
regional estate agents to help property
seekers elsewhere
around France.

LIFESTYLE

Bee, BBC Two Cousu Main, M6 – The Great British Sewing Un 4 M6 –
Bee, BBC Two
Cousu Main, M6 – The
Great British Sewing
Un
4
M6 – Come
Dîner Presque Parfait,
Dine With Me, Channel
TF1
Big Brother, Channel
5
Secret Story,
Amanda
4
Lamb, Channel
Maison à Vendre, M6 – Selling Houses with
Top Chef, M6
– MasterChef:
The Professionals,
BBC Two
La
Voix, TF1
ITV
The Voice:
Plus Belle
The Voice,

WE ASKED YOU: WHICH FRENCH TV PROGRAMMES DO YOU WATCH?

Carol Patton Cornsilk I love Midi en France on France 3. You get to see and learn about all parts of the country.

3. You get to see and learn about all parts of the country. Kelly Dawe I

Kelly Dawe I loved watching The Disappearance on BBC Four last year, and the film Paris, Je t’aime is brilliant!

Karen Rough Danse Avec Les Stars on TF1 French Strictly Come Dancing!

JJ Read We love Cherif which we found last year on TV5 Monde. I am doing my best to not rely solely on the English subtitles too.

If you like Strictly Come Dancing, you will love Danse Avec Les Stars, TF1

Just like in the British version, famous faces in France take to the dance floor with professional dancers to strut their stuff in

a variety of different dances. It’s a good

“who’s who” of French celebrity (or not really celeb, just like the British version) and if you love Strictly’s camp blend of sequins, sparkles and spins, you won’t be disappointed here.

If you like Britain’s Got Talent, you will love La France A Un Incroyable Talent, M6

Former Newcastle United footballer David Ginola presents this French version of BGT, where the weird and wonderful aim to entertain the audience and impress the four judges. Last year’s winners were 19-year-old Juliette and her adopted dog Charlie who wowed and charmed with their enchanting routine.

If you like The Great Interior Design Challenge, you will love D&CO, M6

D&Co is different to GIDC as it involves

a homeowner redecorating two or three

rooms of their house with the help of qualified designers and artisans, but it will appeal to interior design fans. At the end of the programme, the rest of the family discovers the two-day transformation.

The TV licence in France (la redevance audiovisuelle) is payable with the taxe d’habitation. The
The TV licence in France (la
redevance audiovisuelle) is payable
with the taxe d’habitation. The fee
for 2016 was €137 and the cost is
subject to an annual index-
linked increase.

If you like soap operas, you will love Plus Belle La Vie, France 3

Set in the beautiful coastal city of Marseille, this serial drama follows the lives of residents in fictional neighbourhood, Mistral. The humour may be hard to follow for beginner French speakers, but the idyllic setting makes it very easy to watch.

but the idyllic setting makes it very easy to watch. Gaëlle Planchenault’s books include Voices in

Gaëlle Planchenault’s books include Voices in the Media: Performing French Linguistic Otherness and Doing dialects in dialogues: Regional, social and ethnic variation in fiction

Camille Chevalier-Karfis is the founder of FrenchToday.com, French audiobooks for all levels recorded at several speeds and levels of enunciation

38 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

© SOPHIE SPITERI; R. CINTAS

WHERE TO LIVE

Twin towns
Twin towns

© SOPHIE SPITERI; R. CINTAS WHERE TO LIVE Twin towns Finding out more about your town

Finding out more about your town or village’s French twin is a good way to make links before you make the move across the Channel, says Catriona Burns

40 Living France August 2017

I f you’re about to embark on a new life in France, finding out more about your town or village’s French twin is a good way of establishing links across the Channel, in a place that already has a

connection with where you live. The tradition of town twinning became established after the Second World War with the intention of creating a bond between two communities. The aim was to broaden an understanding of another country’s culture and is beneficial on many levels – from establishing local commerce and industry links to helping schoolchildren learn from new experiences. At first glance you might not think that Dijon has much in common with York, or Reims with Folkestone, but towns like these have enjoyed links for years, and these cultural connections could help pave the way for a smooth move to France. Here we explore six French towns and cities with British twins.

completefrance.com

“If you’re born in Aix, nowhere else will do,” said Paul Cézanne of his hometown.
“If you’re born in Aix, nowhere else will do,” said Paul Cézanne of his hometown.

“If you’re born in Aix, nowhere else will do,” said Paul Cézanne of his hometown.

“If you’re born in Aix, nowhere else will do,” said Paul Cézanne of his hometown.

If you decide to move to Aix-en-Provence,

you will probably feel the same way. Close to the Mediterranean Sea and with an average of 300 days of sunshine

a year, Aix-en-Provence is ideal for those

who want to enjoy the sun-soaked way of life that is associated with the south of France, without compromising on any conveniences available in the town. Aix has many shops, bars and cafés and museums to enjoy, but activities more commonly associated with country living are readily accessible, too. Swimming in the sea, exploring nearby lavender fields or skiing in the Southern Alps located two hours away get you swiftly back to nature. Aix-en-Provence is not only comparable in size to its UK twin city, Bath, but also in its style and popular attractions – both are well known for their historic thermal baths. As in the UK, these are perennially

popular with visitors to the town but also with locals who like to be good to themselves. There are countless more opportunities to treat yourself at the city’s boutique shops and at the markets too. The daily market on Place Richelme in the Old Town sells everything from antique books to flowers and delicious sun- ripened produce. Similar again to Bath, Aix-en-Provence is a university town, oozing in culture and elegance. This is no more evident than on the stately avenue of Cours Mirabeau that’s lined with plane trees, 18th-century town houses and bourgeois cafés. Locals and visitors alike arrive at any time of day to enjoy a spot of people watching here, whether it’s for a morning coffee and a read of the paper, or a glass of rosé at dusk when the pavements come alive with the sound of locals as they chat and unwind after a day in the sun. bath-aix-twinning.org.uk

and unwind after a day in the sun. bath-aix-twinning.org.uk Above : The elegant Cours Mirabeau in

Above: The elegant Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence

Below: Mont Ste-Victoire is a local scene Cézanne painted many times

FACT FILE Region: Average house price: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Department: €467,000 Average apartment price:
FACT FILE
Region:
Average house price:
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Department:
€467,000
Average apartment price:
Bouches-du-Rhône
€3,620/m 2

© DREAMSTIME; VILLE DE DIJON

WHERE TO LIVE

Twin towns
Twin towns
© DREAMSTIME; VILLE DE DIJON WHERE TO LIVE Twin towns Set at the northern tip of

Set at the northern tip of the crystal-clear Lac d’Annecy and surrounded by snow- capped mountains, the capital of Haute- Savoie is a natural beauty. With such a stunning back garden to play in, it’s no surprise that Anneciéns don’t spend much time inside, preferring to throw themselves into an array of outdoor pursuits. As one of the world’s top 10 destinations for paragliding, Annecy’s skies are usually dotted with one or two thrill-seekers swooping through the fresh mountain air. If you want to stay more grounded, join locals around the protected cycling piste along the lake’s western side; one of France’s most popular voies vertes. Whether you’re part of the rollerblading, walking or cycling troop you’ll be rewarded with the same stunning backdrop of sparkling azure waters bordered by majestic mountain peaks.

For ski-keen residents, Annecy is well placed for accessing the cross-country slopes. Semnoz is 18km south, La Clusaz 32km east and Le Grand Bornand is 34km north-east. So if you choose to live in Annecy, a trip to the slopes would no longer be a little luxury but a way of life. If locals aren’t hiking in the hills, they’re enjoying Annecy’s other main attraction – strolling through the Old Town. A warren of arcaded streets lined with pastel-coloured houses from the 16th century, this is where locals enjoy a most idyllic day-to-day life: crossing flower-covered bridges to buy the morning paper, sitting outside a café to gaze at the towering mountains, stocking up on local Savoyard specialities at the market or tucking into a heart-warming dish of raclette at a family-run bistro. cheltenhamtwinning.wordpress.com

FACT FILE Region: Average house price: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes €351,400 Department: Average apartment price:
FACT FILE
Region:
Average house price:
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
€351,400
Department:
Average apartment price:
Haute-Savoie
€3,230/m 2

42 Living France August 2017

Above: Houses border the azure waters of Lac d’Annecy Below: Boulogne-sur-Mer Opposite: Dijon’s bustling city centre

the azure waters of Lac d’Annecy Below : Boulogne-sur-Mer Opposite : Dijon’s bustling city centre completefrance.com
the azure waters of Lac d’Annecy Below : Boulogne-sur-Mer Opposite : Dijon’s bustling city centre completefrance.com
the azure waters of Lac d’Annecy Below : Boulogne-sur-Mer Opposite : Dijon’s bustling city centre completefrance.com
the azure waters of Lac d’Annecy Below : Boulogne-sur-Mer Opposite : Dijon’s bustling city centre completefrance.com

completefrance.com

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER FOLKESTONE Many people thinking of moving to France want to live by the sea.

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER

FOLKESTONE

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER FOLKESTONE Many people thinking of moving to France want to live by the sea. While

Many people thinking of moving to France want to live by the sea. While you might first think of the Mediterranean waters in the south or the Atlantic waves in the west, the seaside towns in northern France certainly have plenty to offer too. And there’s the added bonus of their location just a short hop across the Channel from the UK. Situated just half an hour from Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer is France’s largest fishing port, and as the tourist office states, the town has “always lived to the rhythm of fishing”. If you’re an early riser, you can join other locals for a sunrise walk along the wind-whipped harbour where you will see the town’s fishermen bringing in their catch which they sell daily at Quayside Gambetta. Locals here have first pick from a varied selection of seafood including crab, lobster, langoustines and mussels before they are transported all over Europe. You can pick up other foodie delights at the open-air market on Place Dalton. Taking place every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am-12pm, the market is crammed full of stalls selling everything from fruits and vegetables to flowers, fresh herbs, home- made bread and locally made butter. The sun-drenched south of France it is not, but Boulogne-sur-Mer is endearingly authentic. Plus, it has rainy days sorted in the form of Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer; one of Europe’s premier aquariums. Little ones will love the touch tank where they can stroke sting rays or better still, take them out to explore the rock pools at the beach. Set on the Opal Coast, Boulogne-sur-Mer has no shortage of long, sandy beaches where the familiar cry of seagulls, fresh salty sea air and crashing waves will make you feel right at home.

FACT FILE Region: Hauts-de- France Department: Pas-de-Calais Average house price: €120,000 Average apartment
FACT FILE
Region:
Hauts-de-
France
Department:
Pas-de-Calais
Average house price:
€120,000
Average apartment price:
€1,190/m 2
price: €120,000 Average apartment price: €1,190/m 2 If you’ve ever wished that you could live in

price: €120,000 Average apartment price: €1,190/m 2 If you’ve ever wished that you could live in

If you’ve ever wished that you could live in a bygone era, a move to Dijon may be the closest you can get. Surrounded by villages where time seems to stand still, ancient vineyards and golden sunflower fields, Burgundy’s capital is cocooned by vestiges of the past. Like in its twin city of York, there is a feeling that history is around every corner: along the medieval streets lined with Renaissance-style buildings, half-timbered homes and in the city’s world-famous museums that house paintings and sculptures from Dijon’s golden age during the 14th and 15th centuries. Acclaimed for its collection of classical art, Dijon now has some contemporary art and design to its name, as well as old favourites such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée Rude. Dijon is served by a sleek tram system but locals still favour getting about on foot as much of the city is pedestrianised. On your walkabouts, you can opt to get your heart racing even more by climbing the 316 steps of the Tour Philippe le Bon in the Palais des Ducs where, from the top of the tower you will be rewarded with

panoramic city views – a great time-out activity and a perfect way to show off Dijon to visiting guests. Of course, many people know Dijon for its mustard, but there is much more to the city’s wining and dining scene, and locals here enjoy indulging in rich and hearty cuisine that the region is famed for. Place de la Libération, a square bordered by 15th-century buildings and enlivened by buskers and tinkling water fountains, is a popular spot for enjoying a pre-dinner apéritif with friends . It’s this spirit of getting together that still has New York native, Alex Miles so besotted with the city, after moving here in 1995. “Dijon is the pulsating heart of France,” he says. “It’s full of love, understanding, good food and good people. It’s easy to get together with people here,” he tells me, in reference to the city’s café culture. “Everybody here just seems to get along. There’s a great mix of people in the community.” Alex now runs private cooking classes in the city where people come from all over the world to cook, eat and enjoy food. It would seem that there’s no better place for it.

FACT FILE Region: Average house price: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté €195,000 Department: Average apartment price:
FACT FILE
Region:
Average house price:
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
€195,000
Department:
Average apartment price:
Côte-d’Or
€1,830/m 2

WHERE TO LIVE

Twin towns
Twin towns
WHERE TO LIVE Twin towns Reims is best known as the capital of the Champagne wine-producing
WHERE TO LIVE Twin towns Reims is best known as the capital of the Champagne wine-producing

Reims is best known as the capital of the Champagne wine-producing region, but living in this city among some of France’s most famous vineyards would give you many more reasons to celebrate. Having been restored after both world wars, Reims is rich in Art Deco architecture, giving its pedestrian boulevards, bars and cafés a decadent style. Its 13th-century Notre-Dame cathedral, where French monarchs were coronated for over a thousand years, is its crowning glory. Inside, stained-glass windows designed by Marc Chagall add to the cathedral’s dramatic effect. A lot of Brits visit Reims to stock up on bottles of bubbly, but it was a university year abroad that originally brought Rachel Tremblay from Cheshire to the city. While there, she met a French champagne producer who she later married. “Needless to say, I never left!” laughs Rachel. Now working with her family-in-law’s boutique champagne house, Wafflart-Briet, making

and drinking the sparkling wine is a big part of her new life in France. “That’s the absolute best part about living here – the champagne!” she exclaims. “We drink a lot of it!” It’s clear that Rachel loves living in her champagne bubble as she says:

“One of my favourite things to do is have a champagne picnic in the vineyards. We also love going to visit Reims’s food market at the Boulingrin market hall and we often go to the Parc de Champagne. Our twin baby girls absolutely love it,” she says. Another main attraction of Reims is its accessible location, with Paris being just one hour away by train that passes Reims’s sun-dappled vineyards on the way. The vineyards belong to some of the famous champagne houses, all of which offer cellar tours. The tours are well worth a visit but the sparkling joie de vivre is best enjoyed by the glass on on the central Place Drouet- d’Erlon. Fringed with cafés, restaurants and joyful residents, it’s the perfect place to toast la belle vie!

FACT FILE Region: Average house price: Grand-Est €206,000 Department: Average apartment price: Marne €1,900/m 2
FACT FILE
Region:
Average house price:
Grand-Est
€206,000
Department:
Average apartment price:
Marne
€1,900/m 2

44 Living France August 2017

Above: A light show at the Église Notre-Dame-la-Grande in Poitiers Below: One of many champagne vineyards in Reims

completefrance.com

© SOUTHTOWNBOY/ THINKSTOCK; S. LAVAL / OFFICE DE TOURISME DE POITIERS

MORE ONLINE A complete list of twin towns in the UK and France completefrance.com/ language-culture/twin-towns
MORE
ONLINE
A complete list of twin towns
in the UK and France
completefrance.com/
language-culture/twin-towns
HISTORY OF
TWIN TOWNS
The concept of town
twinning was introduced just
after the end of the Second
World War with the aim of
bringing Europeans closer
together and promoting
cross-border projects.
In January 1951, local
mayors of Europe came
together in Geneva to found
the Conseil des Communes
et Régions d’Europe (which
became the Council of
Municipalities and Regions
in 1984). They realised that
European countries could
overcome their difficulties
by uniting, subsequently
introducing the notion of
a ‘Europe of citizens’ and
creating the notion of
jumelages (twinning).
France’s unique
geographical positioning
(sharing borders with seven
European neighbours) meant
that it was able to spearhead
the twinning movement
on both a European and
international level that still
continues today.
FACT FILE Region: Nouvelle- Aquitaine Department: Vienne Average house price: €153,800 Average apartment price:
FACT FILE
Region:
Nouvelle-
Aquitaine
Department:
Vienne
Average house price:
€153,800
Average apartment price:
€1,470/m 2
town’s 90,386 residents. Having such a youthful population has compelled Poitiers to move with the
town’s 90,386 residents. Having such
a youthful population has compelled
Poitiers to move with the times while
still conserving its old-world charm and
a

Poitiers in west-central France is an effortless mix of old and new. The city is home to a cluster of Romanesque churches, the most popular being the Église Notre- Dame-la-Grande. Built in the 11th and 12th centuries, the church boasts a magnificently ornate facade depicting saints and scenes from the Bible. Set on the market square in the town’s old town, it offers a scenic setting for church-goers, while a colourful light show during Christmastime and summer evenings brings everyone together. Poitiers has the second oldest university in France after Paris (it was established in 1432) and students account for 25% of the

lively nightlife is enjoyed by all. Cafés, restaurants and bars are busy all year. One of the main attractions for the young at heart is the high-tech Futuroscope theme park that lies 10km to the north of Poitiers. Dedicated to the moving picture with both 3D and 4D screens, it is a guaranteed hit with any teenagers that may be making the move to France with you! poitiers.fr/c 70_215 Northampton.html

the move to France with you! poitiers.fr/c 70_215 Northampton.html completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 45

© DOMINIC RIPPON; RIVES-BLANQUES ESTATE

LIFESTYLE

© DOMINIC RIPPON; RIVES-BLANQUES ESTATE LIFESTYLE Globetrotting couple Caryl and Jan Panman made a new life
© DOMINIC RIPPON; RIVES-BLANQUES ESTATE LIFESTYLE Globetrotting couple Caryl and Jan Panman made a new life
© DOMINIC RIPPON; RIVES-BLANQUES ESTATE LIFESTYLE Globetrotting couple Caryl and Jan Panman made a new life

Globetrotting couple Caryl and Jan Panman made a new life for themselves as winemakers in western Languedoc. Dominic Rippon tells their story

46 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

T here’s nowhere quite like Limoux on an early spring afternoon, as vineyards disappear into
T here’s nowhere quite
like Limoux on an early
spring afternoon, as
vineyards disappear into
forested hills, framed by

At that time, Jan worked in international finance, so the Panmans enjoyed the glamorous lifestyle of urban globetrotters, taking them from Portugal to Asia via South America and, finally, Ireland. When they began their search for the perfect vineyard, they found land in Burgundy prohibitively expensive, so they looked further south, in Languedoc- Roussillon. The vineyards of Limoux, in western Languedoc, have been lauded by Jancis Robinson MW as France’s “most interesting chardonnay vineyards outside Burgundy”, so it seemed an obvious place to look. The couple had always planned to study viticulture before buying their vines, but an opportunity quickly arose that was too good to miss: Eric Vialade, a renowned local vigneron, needed to sell his 20 hectares of vineyards but was keen to stay on as winemaker at the estate. “So we decided to learn on the job,” says Jan. “We slept with the UC Davis Handbook of Viticulture and Enology on our bedside table.”

the towering snow-capped Pyrénées in the near distance. You can almost catch the scent of newly waxed skis and simmering cheese in the wind. Between the famous peaks of Canigou and St- Barthélemy nestles the smaller Pic des Rives-Blanques, after which Anglo-Dutch couple Caryl and Jan Panman decided to name their wine estate. “Our first harvest, in 2001, definitely felt the easiest,” Jan remembers, “because we simply weren’t aware of all the things that could go wrong!” Neither Caryl nor Jan had any training as winemakers, but they had long dreamed of owning their own wine estate in France. It all began years earlier with family holidays in Burgundy, when they imagined a life making delicious wines from the golden chardonnay grapes.

making delicious wines from the golden chardonnay grapes. Above: Caryl and Jan Panman Below: The Rives-Blanques
Above: Caryl and Jan Panman Below: The Rives-Blanques estate
Above: Caryl and Jan Panman
Below: The Rives-Blanques estate
ATYPICAL EXPATS The Rives-Blanques estate is situated at an unusual climatic crossroads: a meeting point

ATYPICAL EXPATS

The Rives-Blanques estate is situated at an unusual climatic crossroads: a meeting point of Atlantic, Mediterranean and mountain influences, with such a unique blend of flora and fauna that it has been classified as a Natura 2000 European Nature Protection Area. Wild boar and deer trot between the rows of vines, where wild orchids often grow. The endangered horseshoe bat also thrives in these hills, which reach an altitude of more than 300 metres. But despite the natural beauty of the area, Jan explains that this was not what attracted them to this part of France. “It was all about the wine for us,” he insists. “Our ambition was quite simply to make the best wines that we could. This was never a vanity project.” So instead of taking on a grand old château that needed renovation, they bought a more modest farmhouse with vineyards and a fully functioning winery. As the winemaking bug took hold, they built new cellars and a tasting room with magnificent views of the vineyards. “It’s been 16 years now,” Caryl says, walking between rows of beautifully pruned vines, inspecting the nascent shoots, “and I can’t imagine how we ever lived our life differently.” She has fond memories of the early days,

LIFESTYLE

FOR THOSE THINKING OF BECOMING WINEMAKERS IN FRANCE:

“Before we bought Rives-Blanques 17 years ago, I spoke at length to Patricia Atkinson (author of The Ripening Sun) who had done the same several years earlier, to pick her brains. “You’d have to be mad,” she said. We talked for over an hour and then she said, “Well, yes, go for it! If you’re mad enough, that is.” And that’s the advice we give to everyone now. But don’t underestimate the challenges. This is not a job for the faint-hearted:

every year we’ve had friends who have been wiped out by hail, or frost, or torrential rain during the harvest, and we have this awful, nagging knowledge that one day that may happen to us too. Good vines are essential to good wines, but that’s only the beginning; nature listens to no one. Once you’ve managed the miracle of making your wine, you still have to sell it. This was the biggest surprise of them all. There’s a global market saturated with wine out there and nobody is waiting for yours. You need to be dedicated to selling your product. And the other big surprise:

whatever you think the vineyard is

going to cost you, double it. In fact, treble it. And let’s not even talk about l’administration française. And so, having said all that, I could never advise anyone to do what we have done; that would be irresponsible.

And yet

the biggest surprise of

all, looking back over 17 years, is that I never realised how much we would want to make our vineyard shine. I simply cannot imagine that we ever did anything else. So if I have one real regret, it’s that we didn’t start this earlier.

So, when push comes to shove, I would have to give Patricia Atkinson’s advice. It’s actually irresponsible to dissuade anyone from doing this they’re mad enough.”

if

Above: The estate’s white wines Right: View of the Pyrénées at twilight

finding her neighbours both helpful and welcoming. One of the first winemakers the couple met was Jean-Louis Denois, himself an outsider – originally from Champagne – with a fearsome reputation. “He’s probably the appellation’s best winemaker,” Caryl declares humbly. “Jean-Louis gave us lots of good advice when we arrived. “One of the biggest challenges,” Caryl admits, shooting a reminiscent grin towards Jan, “was for us to learn to work together as a couple. We had differences of opinion which led to lots of bickering over the grape-sorting table.” Trouble also came from further afield when they first registered the name ‘Rives-Blanques.’ Caryl recalls the evening when an ominous dark envelope with a Spanish postmark appeared on the doorstep. It contained a letter from a spirits producer called Rives, based near Seville, threatening legal action for trademark infringement. Caryl and Jan immediately drove to Barcelona, took a plane to Seville and camped outside the Rives headquarters, hoping to diffuse the situation. Although an amicable arrangement was eventually reached, Caryl still keeps an empty bottle of Rives gin on a shelf in the tasting room, to remind her of how stressful the experience was.

completefrance.com

in the tasting room, to remind her of how stressful the experience was. completefrance.com 48 Living

48 Living France August 2017

The Rives-Blanques estate is situated at an unusual climatic crossroads BATTLE FOR RECOGNITION When the

The Rives-Blanques estate is situated at an unusual climatic crossroads

estate is situated at an unusual climatic crossroads BATTLE FOR RECOGNITION When the Panmans arrived in

BATTLE FOR

RECOGNITION

When the Panmans arrived in Limoux, the potential of its vineyards was clear, although it would be years before the wine press showed commensurate interest. The local speciality blanquette de Limoux, made from the white mauzac grape, is believed to be the world’s first bottle-fermented sparkling wine – pipping champagne to the post by about a century. For the first few years, the couple made only two wines: a blanquette de Limoux and a white vin de pays d’Oc. Caryl recalls how small they felt on their first visit to the giant wine fair Vinisud, with a tiny booth in a remote corner of the exhibition hall. Until then, sales had been modest, but as luck would have it, they received a visit from an influential Belgian wine critic, who gave their vin de pays a dazzling review, boosting their profile. Jan and Caryl agree that the biggest surprise has been the amount of energy they’ve dedicated to sales and marketing – “more than half of our time,” Jan estimates. Wine production is a fiercely competitive business, so the Panmans quickly discovered that it isn’t enough simply to make the best wine; you also need to promote it successfully.

Above: Caryl and Jan’s son Jan-Ailbe Below: Hand-harvested grapes MORE ONLINE Learn more about running
Above: Caryl and Jan’s son Jan-Ailbe
Below: Hand-harvested grapes
MORE
ONLINE
Learn more about running
a business in France
completefrance.com/living-in-france/
running-a-business

Fortunately, the dynamic pair were well used to travelling and found they enjoyed selling the fruits of their own production. “There aren’t many professions that allow you to make your own product, sell it, and talk to the people who consume it,” says Caryl. “It’s a real thrill to hear from a bride that our Blanquette helped to make her wedding day special.” As Jan and Caryl’s confidence grew, so did their range of wines, which now includes three delicate sparkling wines, five oak-aged still Limoux whites and an unusual late-harvest sweet wine, made from chenin blanc and mauzac grapes – wonderfully named Lagremas d’Aur, which means “tears of gold” in the local Occitan language. One of their still Limoux whites, a delicious single varietal mauzac called Cuvée Occitania, has been selected by KLM and Air France for the group’s transcontinental in-flight wine list. “We often get calls from passengers who’ve enjoyed the wine,” Caryl says proudly. But the majority of press accolades gravitate towards the estate’s Cuvée de l’Odyssée Chardonnay, a mineral-scented buttery white that bears an alluring resemblance to much pricier bottles from Burgundy.

bears an alluring resemblance to much pricier bottles from Burgundy. completefrance.com August 2017 Living France 49

LIFESTYLE

The Rives-Blanques cellars There’s no absolute truth in winemaking
The Rives-Blanques cellars
There’s no absolute
truth in winemaking
cellars There’s no absolute truth in winemaking Caryl and Jan at work among their vines ONWARDS

Caryl and Jan at work among their vines

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

transition for Château Rives-Blanques, as it will be the last harvest overseen by winemaker Eric Vialade. Caryl and Jan’s son Jan-Ailbe, who has worked at the estate for six years under Eric’s instruction, is taking over the reins from the veteran vigneron. After completing a master’s degree in Spanish and Chinese, Jan-Ailbe worked as a language teacher, before returning to Limoux in 2011 to train as a winemaker. He worked in the vineyards with Eric by day, studying by correspondence for the UC Davis winemaking diploma by night – a gruelling regime which bore fruit in 2015 when Jan-Ailbe earned his wings as a fully qualified winemaker. Even before finishing his studies, Jan- Ailbe had begun to make his mark on the Rives-Blanques vineyards, working with Eric to improve the estate’s ecological credentials, with a philosophy that stops just short of being fully organic. Although a formal, international education in viticulture brings a new perspective to winemaking at Rives-Blanques, for now at least, Jan-Ailbe describes his plans in simple terms: to continue his parents’ legacy by making the best possible wines from what are perhaps France’s most beautiful mountain vineyards. rives-blanques.com

most beautiful mountain vineyards. rives-blanques.com As the 20th anniversary of Château Rives-Blanques

As the 20th anniversary of Château Rives-Blanques approaches, Caryl and Jan don’t appear tempted to retire just yet. Equally, though, there’s a feeling of contentment with things just as they are. “We’re firmly committed to small-scale independent winemaking,” Jan says, decisively. “We’re not interested in buying grapes to increase our production, as many others have done; as long as we can continue to make better wines each year with the vines we have, then we’ll be happy.” The Panmans recently employed the renowned Cousinié company, based in Narbonne, to undertake a

– – Harvesting the mauzac grapes
Harvesting the mauzac grapes

complete analysis of their vineyards’ soils, which confirmed what they already knew:

they have “a spectacular terroir for white wines”. If they ever chose to plant red grapes, the experts concluded, pinot noir

the grape responsible for red burgundy

would be the obvious choice. On this

score, the couple appear divided, with Caryl keener than Jan to experiment with the grape, although they agree that it’s important to keep trying new things. “There’s no absolute truth in winemaking,” adds Jan. The 2017 vintage represents an important

50 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

À LA MAISON

I have a sense of déjà-vu when speaking to Louise Pickford. For the second time in as many months, I’m talking to someone who had been living in Australia

for a number of years, then decided to move closer to family in the UK and chose France as the ideal location, mostly for the weather. And there’s a reason Louise herself is familiar too. Regular readers may recognise food writer and stylist Louise’s name, and might even have recreated some of her recipes in their own kitchen – she became Living France’s food columnist in 2015 after taking over from Mary Cadogan. The two women have worked together and been

good friends for many years, and in fact Louise and her husband Ian Wallace, a food and lifestyle photographer, have Mary to thank for finding Charente. “We didn’t really know many parts of France but had spent some time around Bordeaux and Toulouse, so that was the sort of area we were thinking of,” says Louise. “We didn’t know Charente at all but we decided to visit Mary while we were over in France and thought how lovely it was. Thanks to her we discovered Angoulême, and she introduced us to a few of the local restaurants she and her husband had been going to. That’s what inspired us to move to this area.” And move they did in 2013, initially renting a gîte near Confolens for six weeks before finding a property to rent just outside of Angoulême. Louise and Ian worked with Mary for the first 12 months, styling and photographing food, before Mary then retired, leaving a gap which Louise stepped in to fill. “When Mary finished there was a gap in the market for food tours and cookery classes in the area, so it all sort of fell into place,” says Louise. “It was something I could do and it gave us more control over how we spent our work time. That’s also how I came to start writing the food column for Living France.”

WORDS: VICKY LEIGH We found this house and we couldn’t let it get away” WHO:
WORDS: VICKY LEIGH
We found this house and
we couldn’t let it get away”
WHO:
WHERE:
WHY:
STYLE:
Food writer and stylist
Louise Pickford and her
husband Ian Wallace, a food
and lifestyle photographer
Aignes-et-
A home for Louise
and Ian that can also
be used as a cookery
school and studio
Barn conversion
Puypéroux,
with potential
Charente,
for further
Nouvelle-Aquitaine
development

54 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

“We wanted to make sure we had a house that felt really light and bright,
“We
wanted to
make sure we had
a house that felt really
light and bright, and
the previous owner
had added lots of
windows and
doors”

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS © IAN WALLACE

À LA MAISON

BUSINESS AND PLEASURE

While they were renting, Louise had been keeping an eye out for a suitable property to buy, and last year she found one that fulfilled most of their search criteria. “We had a three-year lease on the rental property but we were only there for six months in the end, because we found this one and couldn’t let it get away,” says Louise. “It was an old barn conversion and it had already been renovated by an English lady to a very high standard. Coming from Australia we wanted to make sure we had a house that felt really light and bright. The previous owner had added lots of windows and doors, and that’s what really attracted us to this one. It’s very quiet and peaceful too.” The couple could also see how the property could be adapted and improved to make it work for their business. The big windows and large open-plan rooms meant it worked well for photo shoots, and they have already partially converted an outbuilding into a studio. Louise has also now launched Come Cook in France, opening her home to others who share a passion for food by running cookery courses in her kitchen. “Luckily we have a really large kitchen, and Ian is very handy – he’s created two large islands, one for me to demonstrate from and another one on wheels which can comfortably accommodate up to eight people on a course,” says Louise. “The kitchen already had a Range with two ovens and we’ve bought another one with six burners and an oven, which is enough for what I’m doing at the moment. I’ve found that cookers are cheaper here than they are in the UK. I haven’t had to buy too much equipment yet as I’ve already got a lot after cooking for so long, but I probably will as time goes on.”

56 Living France August 2017

will as time goes on.” 56 Living France August 2017 Above : The old barn conversion
will as time goes on.” 56 Living France August 2017 Above : The old barn conversion

Above: The old barn conversion had already been renovated by the previous owner Left: Louise and Ian were drawn to the feeling of light and space inside the house Below: Guests enjoy making use of the pool during breaks from the kitchen

Opposite above: Louise and her ‘Cook Club’ guests around one of the large islands Ian made Opposite below: Louise and Ian also offer food styling workshops

“Luckily we have a really large kitchen, and Ian is very handy – he’s created
“Luckily
we have a really
large kitchen, and Ian
is very handy – he’s created
two large islands, one for me to
demonstrate from and another
one on wheels which can
comfortably accommodate
up to eight people on
a course”

HOME COOKING

The monthly ‘Cook Club’, a four- hour, hands-on cooking course covering a wide variety of different cuisines, has already started, and has attracted other expats in the local area. “The classes are held in English at the moment as my French isn’t good enough, but we’re both having lessons and

it would be lovely if I could offer

lessons to the French as well at some point,” says Louise. “Anybody

is

of nationalities so far. It’s as much about having a nice cooking experience as it is about learning or improving skills. We really do want to immerse ourselves as much as we possibly can in French culture, and as I’m also offering family days I think it would be really nice to get French children interested in cooking too.” A full-day family course begins with

a cooking class for the parents while the

children enjoy themselves in the grounds and make the most of the swimming pool (with adult supervision), then after lunch it’s the kids’ turn to have some fun in the kitchen while the parents relax outside. And as Louise says, she’s the one who has to clean up afterwards! The ‘Cook and Dine’ course includes an afternoon of cooking before everyone then sits down to enjoy the fruits of their labours in the evening – with a glass or two of locally produced wine, of course.

Residential courses are available too, with accommodation provided at The Courtyard at Sainte Catherine, a gîte and chambres d’hôtes run by Louise’s friends Stephanie and Charlie May. Yet more familiar names – the

couple were featured in the Autumn 2015 issue of Living France when they shared the story of how they renovated their property to set up a holiday accommodation business. Louise and Ian met the Mays when they stayed at The Courtyard themselves after first moving to France. “There was a gap of three or four weeks between moving out of the gîte and into the rental property, and luckily Steph had some space and was happy to accept our dogs,” explains Louise. “We clicked immediately – we have a lot of shared interests and both love food. She’s a great cook, and obviously if I’m running cooking courses I need to know that my guests are staying somewhere where the food is really good. It’s got to be fairly representative of me, and Steph’s cooking style is very similar to mine.” For the first couple of years, Louise intends to see how well it works having the courses and the accommodation for her guests in two separate places (The Courtyard is about 35 minutes away from Louise’s home), but the ultimate aim is to have a property where they can also offer on-site accommodation.

welcome though and we’ve had a mix

also offer on-site accommodation. welcome though and we’ve had a mix completefrance.com August 2017 Living France
also offer on-site accommodation. welcome though and we’ve had a mix completefrance.com August 2017 Living France

À LA MAISON

This page: Home-grown tomatoes, foraged elderflower and strawberries from the market

Opposite clockwise from top: Cake making is always popular with children on family cooking days; everyone sits down together in the garden to enjoy the food they’ve made; Louise’s apricot tart

to enjoy the food they’ve made; Louise’s apricot tart “That’s what I really like about living

“That’s what I really like about living here – the amount of really good produce”

SEASONAL AND SIMPLE

While their home provides the ideal setting for the cookery classes and photo shoots, the abundance of fresh local produce provides the perfect ingredients to work with. Louise and Ian have their own potager and grow as much as they can – they currently have tomatoes, peas, beans, raspberries and potatoes, and the tomatoes are doing particularly well. “This is very much about using fantastic French produce to cook whatever I think makes the most of the ingredients,” says Louise. “That’s what I really like about living here – the amount of really good produce, and the amount of foraging. You see French people out in the fields at all times of the year making the most of what’s available, and that’s what’s really lovely and inspiring. I’m obsessed with seasonal cooking, but in my job I’m usually doing the opposite – I’m always working four or five months ahead of the seasons, and consequently have to buy produce that looks good for photo shoots but

58 Living France August 2017

“I went to the market this morning and bought some strawberries, and I can’t remember
“I went to the
market this morning
and bought some
strawberries, and I can’t
remember the last time
I had a strawberry that
tasted so much like a
strawberry should
taste”

doesn’t really taste of anything. It’s great to be here and be able to buy produce that both looks and tastes great. I went to the market this morning and bought some strawberries, and I can’t remember the last time I had a strawberry that tasted so much like a strawberry should taste. It’s all about seasonality and simplicity – cooking simple dishes with the best quality ingredients.” With 25 years’ experience as a food writer and stylist, Louise has made dishes from around the world and as a result is happy to be flexible about the food she makes during the courses, depending on what the participants are keen to do. “I’m still to find out if people want to come and cook traditional French food,” says Louise. “I’m flexible but would still rather push forward the notion that as long as the ingredients are local, and therefore they’re French and fabulous, there’s no reason you can’t cook something and add a bit of spice to it.”

completefrance.com

A family afternoon for four at Come Cook in France The afternoon will run from
A family afternoon for four
at Come Cook in France
The afternoon will run from 2pm-5pm, and
will include a tea made by the children for
the whole family to enjoy. Date to be
arranged directly with Louise. Visit
completefrance.com/competitions
for full details and to enter.

APPETITE FOR LIFE

While Louise’s courses look set to enhance the culinary repertoires of her guests, she and Ian are very much enjoying the taste they’ve developed for life in France. “I’m looking out of my window and it’s so tranquil and beautiful,” says Louise. “Our French isn’t good enough to have an in-depth conversation but we can communicate with our neighbours and everybody has been incredibly helpful and friendly. We’re very settled here and I don’t think either of us would move back to the UK out of choice. I think the only reason we’d move is to be somewhere slightly less rural, or perhaps closer to the coast. My favourite ingredient is fish and I find the seafood in France particularly good. I bought some fresh scallops from the market this morning and they’re so shiny, they look like they’re still in the sea.” And with that she’s heading back into the kitchen to prepare for the next course, and I’m left feeling rather hungry and wishing I was there too.

left feeling rather hungry and wishing I was there too. comecookinfrance.com thecourtyard.fr completefrance.com

comecookinfrance.com

thecourtyard.fr

© MARIUSZBLACH/THINKSTOCK

À LA MAISON

In the garden

ARE YOU A KEEN GARDENER? Email us at editorial@livingfrance.com
ARE YOU A KEEN
GARDENER?
Email us at
editorial@livingfrance.com

sensations Sweet

With summer in full swing, Sue Bradley samples plums ahead of choosing a cultivar to grow in her garden and makes sure she keeps her pots well watered

in her garden and makes sure she keeps her pots well watered L ife is sweet

L ife is sweet when there’s a plum tree growing in the garden and August is the perfect time to seek out and taste lots of different

cultivars ready to choose some to plant later in the year. The French are well known for their love of this delicious fruit, both in fresh and dried forms, prizing them for their flavour and nutritional and dietary fibre content. Popular ways to use them include tarts, clafoutis, cakes and breads, along with a variety of savoury dishes. Pruneaux d’Agen, grown around the towns of Agen and Villeneuve-sur-Lot, are seen as the best in the world. Its cultivating and drying traditions date back to the 12th century, when the monks of the Abbaye de Clairac in the Lot valley returned from their third crusade and were inspired to graft Damas plums from Syria onto local varieties. This produced a fine-skinned fruit, known as Prune d’Ente, well suited to the soil and climate of south-west France.

Generally the plum is one of the easiest fruits to grow and many cultivars are self-fertile, which means it’s not necessary to have another tree nearby. If space is in short supply, select cultivars grown on dwarfing rootstocks that can easily be trained against walls or cultivated as space- saving spindles. Plums like a sheltered spot, usually in full sunshine and certainly not in a frost pocket, but there are some that will thrive in cooler conditions. These include Belle de Louvain, a large and oval-shaped cultivar that can even cope with north- facing walls. It has a relatively dry flesh, which makes it great for cooking in pastry or cake mixes that shouldn’t get too wet. Later-flowering types include Marjorie’s Seedling, a purple plum with good resistance to disease. One of the biggest problems from growing fruit is harvesting, especially if it all comes at once. Sweet-tasting Jefferson’s plums are ready in September but don’t ripen all at once, which means it’s possible to stagger picking them.

Other forms of plums include the mirabelle, with its small and sweet cherry- sized yellow fruit that can be eaten fresh or used in cooking, particularly in jams and liqueurs, and rich and spicy-flavoured damsons – also known as the Damascene plum due to its Syrian origins – which are usually eaten cooked rather than fresh. They do well in colder climates. A close relative of the plum is the greengage, the sweet flesh of which can be enjoyed straight off the tree or in dishes. It thrives in cooler climates as long as there is a sunny aspect. Among the most popular cultivars is Reine Claude de Bavay, which originated in Belgium in the latter half of the 19th century and is easier to grow than some other gages. The cheapest way to buy plum trees is to get them as bare-rooted specimens to plant over the winter months, although make sure the ground is not frozen when they go in. Containerised plants have a wider planting window, but remember that any put in during the summer will need a lot of watering.

THINGS TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTH

 
   

1

If the days are hot, don’t skimp on watering. Plants in pots,

2 Deadhead

perennials and

3 Once raspberries have fruited, cut out any spent canes. Keep an eye

4 Sow green manures, such as Phacelia tanacetifolia. In a

hanging baskets and new plantings especially need a daily shower.

repeat-flowering roses to prolong displays.

on strawberry runners and transfer any that have rooted in the soil into pots.

few weeks these can be dug into the soil to improve its fertility.

60 Living France August 2017

completefrance.com

OPEN GARDENS: Finistère Bryan Carrick explains why he and his wife Jackie decided to move

OPEN GARDENS: Finistère

Bryan Carrick explains why he and his wife Jackie decided to move to Brittany to develop the garden of their dreams

D E R N A S G • J N A E R P D
D
E
R
N
A
S
G
J
N
A
E
R
P
D
O
I
N
S
S
T
O
R
U
E
V
J N A E R P D O I N • S S T O R

“Opening our garden gives us focus and pushes us to keep making improvements”

three main areas: the main garden, a production area (fruit and veg) and a bonsai display area. All three areas are north-facing on a gentle slope, but are well protected by a forest on two sides and trees on the third side. The climate here is generally mild, albeit very damp and wet in winter and spring, with very few frosts. Summers are warm and can be hot at times, while autumns are cooler and damp. This allows us to grow plants that would not have survived in Norfolk. The basic structure and hard landscaping were the first jobs to set the tone of a parkland-style garden. Trees that spent many years in pots in the UK were released from their constrictive prisons and dug in. Lots of ‘specimen’

trees and shrubs were ordered and planted to give them time to ‘get their feet in’. The production area needed more thought because of the slope. Four raised beds were built into the slope to give relatively backache-free gardening. These beds allow us to control the overzealous slugs to some degree, but the slugs do hamper what we can grow. Nonetheless, onions, garlic, peas, carrots, squash and mangetout are grown with some success. The majority of the grass is cut high, but very short grass paths are cut to meander through and help guide you around the garden. By keeping the grass long, it takes the pressure off having to keep cutting it if wet, which is not recommended on the slope, even with a tractor. This all makes for an interesting and

visual picture, particularly when admiring the many azaleas, hydrangeas and specimen trees now growing in the garden. In spring, the long grass areas have naturalised daffodils that take centre stage after the crocuses have put on their display in the short grass. In other areas, bluebells, both natural and planted, finish off the springtime offerings. Nothing is wasted in the garden and all the earth spoil from digging has been turned into a large round raised iris bed with a wind feature depicting swallows. After four years we felt ready to consider opening our garden, as this gives us focus and pushes us to keep making improvements. We joined the Jardins Ouverts scheme, and our garden was opened throughout the summer of 2016. Winter projects are now very much on our minds which we hope will include a slate quarry garden, planting of 2,000 daffodil bulbs, and a laburnum walkway. Opening our garden again has been a dream come true for both of us. opengardens.eu

I n 2012 we left behind our Norfolk home and garden where we had lived for 20 years for a new life in Brittany, a part of France we loved visiting. We were a little sad to leave the garden, but it could not be improved further without digging it up and starting again. So, we made the decision to move to France, downsize the house but upgrade the garden. Four months after arriving in Brittany we moved into our Finistère property in the Monts d’Arrée hills in the small Breton village of St-Cadou. The house, built in 1906, is a small picturesque Breton longère, but the land offered with it (1.2ha) was enough space to fulfil our dreams of a big garden and a small arboretum. Having lived in the driest part of the UK for many years and then moving to, perhaps, the wettest part of France was one of the first things that required our attention – well, apart form the super- sized slugs in the garden – as it required a somewhat different approach. Our garden is divided into

it required a somewhat different approach. Our garden is divided into completefrance.com August 2017 Living France
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known
À LA MAISON Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known

À LA MAISON

Flavours of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES
Flavours of France
WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after
of France WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES “Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after

“Also known as Saint Peter’s fish, after the patron saint of fishermen, John Dory is a beautiful fish. This was the first dish I cooked on the show, and no sooner had I finished and walked away to wash my hands than some eager French people huddled around the pan and started to dive in. A vote of confidence, if ever I saw one!” - JAMES MARTIN

French people huddled around the pan and started to dive in. A vote of confidence, if

WHOLE JOHN DORY WITH CLAMS & COURGETTES

 

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

METHOD

INGREDIENTS METHOD

2 courgettes, thickly sliced

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

2 heritage tomatoes, thickly sliced

2 Arrange the courgettes and tomatoes over the base of a roasting tin. Slot the shallot slices in between the

2 shallots, thinly sliced

courgettes and tomatoes.

 

1 x 1kg John Dory, gutted and fins removed

3 Season with salt and pepper.

4 Season the John Dory with salt and pepper, place on top

50ml olive oil

of the vegetables and drizzle with half the olive oil. Pour

375ml dry white wine

the white wine over and scatter with the basil leaves.

 

15 basil leaves

Cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

Recipe and photograph taken from James Martin’s French Adventure (Quadrille, £20.00). Photography

300g clams, washed

Carefully lift off the foil and add the clams, then cover

handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

again and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the clams open up (discard any that remain closed).

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 Remove from the oven, scatter over the parsley leaves and

add a final drizzle of olive oil.

 

by Peter Cassidy.

 
 

ON THE MENU NEXT MONTH: ICED BLACKBERRY SOUFFLÉS

 
   
   
WHAT TO DRINK This month, Richard Hemming examines the syrah grape variety One of France’s

WHAT TO DRINK

This month, Richard Hemming examines the syrah grape variety

One of France’s greatest vinous exports, syrah is far better known by its other name: shiraz. Whatever is written on the label, it’s the same variety in the bottle. However, there is an implication about style: most wine labelled shiraz tends to be full-bodied, ripe and jammy, while syrah is a more fragrant and restrained style, often characterised by a piquant spiciness. Climate is the key to the difference. While typical shiraz from Australia tends to come from hot regions, the heartland of syrah in France is cooler, by viticultural standards: the northern Rhône valley. Running between Vienne and Valence, this region only produces 5% of the valley’s wine, but it specialises in syrah.

Typically, they are deep coloured with fresh bramble fruit flavours, medium body and complex flavours ranging from savoury spice to pepper to charred meat. The most sought- after appellations such as Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie rarely cost less than £25, but there are some bargains to be had (see my recommendations below). Syrah is also often used as a blending variety with grenache and others to make Côtes-du-Rhône reds – though it is usually in the minority. You can also find syrah used to make rosé. Also, look out for syrah-viognier blends, where up to 10% of the white grape viognier is blended in – a most unusual innovation, based on the recipe for Côte-Rôtie.

Domaine de Montval, Syrah 2015 PGI Pays du Gard (£8.99 Majestic Wine) The Gard department is one of the three main parts of the Languedoc, where swathes of vineyards produce reliably good-value wine from dozens of different varieties. Despite the relatively warm origins, this syrah from Domaine de Montval has surprising delicacy. Full of black pepper, floral fragrance and juicy blackberry fruit – and comes with a hefty discount when you buy six!

fruit – and comes with a hefty discount when you buy six! Michel et Stéphane Ogier,

Michel et Stéphane Ogier, La Rosine Syrah 2014 PGI Collines Rhodaniennes (£14.60 Lay & Wheeler) Just opposite Côte-Rôtie (one of the Rhône valley’s top appellations) are hillsides known as the Collines Rhodaniennes. The Romans prized these vines, yet they remain largely undiscovered today. Thankfully, producers such as the Ogiers are making wines that prove the region’s potential, with pristine black fruit and a wonderful savoury meaty character. If this had Côte-Rôtie on the label, it would cost twice the price.

Côte-Rôtie on the label, it would cost twice the price. Delas, Domaine des Grands Chemins 2014

Delas, Domaine des Grands Chemins 2014 Crozes-Hermitage (£19 The Wine Society) Delas is one of my favourite Rhône producers, and this Crozes- Hermitage is an absolute stonker. It comes from their own organic domaine within a large appellation area that takes its name from the prestigious hill of Hermitage. This example is rich and smoky, with typical black peppercorn spice on the finish and chewy tannin that will support bottle maturation for up to a decade.

with typical black peppercorn spice on the finish and chewy tannin that will support bottle maturation