Issue No. 20

Inspiring, tempting and gorgeous, this issue is packed with destination features - Chartres with its gothic cathedral, the French Riviera, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, the Tarn region, Valence - gateway to the south and more. Mouth-watering recipes, plus useful guides for those dreaming of living in France...

Inspiring, tempting and gorgeous, this issue is packed with destination features - Chartres with its gothic cathedral, the French Riviera, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, the Tarn region, Valence - gateway to the south and more. Mouth-watering recipes, plus useful guides for those dreaming of living in France...

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and bienvenue to the Autumn issue of The Good Life France Magazine.

I don't know about you, but that photo on the front cover of this issue makes me long to

go to Paris and sip hot chocolate in the chilly air as leaves float from the tree lined


Escape with me to France in this issue and discover the Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau,

about as fairy-tale as a castle could possibly be and to Chartres, famous for its Cathedral

but where there's so much more to do. Discover the Tarn and its UNESCO listed

attractions and Valence, the gateway town to the south of France. Fall in love with the

French Riviera, Grasse, the perfume capital of France and be prepared to be lured to want

to put on your running shoes and join a bizarre marathon in the Medoc region - where

wine is served en route!

There are recipes galore for you to make your own taste of France dishes at home, useful

guides for expats or those dreaming and planning to move to France including a review

of property on the West Coast.

This issue is packed with fabulous features, gorgeous photos and tempting tales.

Bisous from France,




8 Le Weekend in Chartres

Famous for its UNESCO listed Cathedral,

but there’s much more to this ancient city.

16 Valence, the gateway to

the south of France

Lucy Pitts discovers a place of history,

fabulous restaurants and wonderful


22 Cassel, Favourite village

of the French 2018

Find out why this tiny hill top town was

voted the best loved village in France.

30 Grasse, the sweetest

smelling city in Europe

Kevin Pilley follows his nose in Provence.

38 Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau

This Renaissance jewel of the Loire Valley

is gleaming after a recent renovation and

we find there’s lots to do in and around the


46 My france: French Riviera

Guest photographer Renata Haidle reveals

what she loves about the French Riviera and

shares her favourite photos.

Features continued

54 UNESCO World heritage in

the Tarn

Rupert Parker visits the historic department

and discovers its UNESCO listed


62 The Medoc Marathon

The ultimate fun run lures Kevin Pilley to

don his running shoes and drink wine, all in

the name of research.

66 Soap story from


Judi Castille looks into the story of the

famous soap from the fat south of France.

70 Destination Samoens

Residents Morag and Andrew Ashworth tell


us why they love this part of France.

28 New Series: Le Petit


In this issue we discover the history Jean

Jaurès, you’ll see his name in almost every

town of France and yet most visitors have

no idea who he was and why he’s so


52 Your Photos

The most popular photos on our Facebook

page shared here.

68 Give Aways

Enter the draw to win fab books.

102 My Good Life in France

A look back at summer...

Expert Advice

76 Property on the West


There’s something for everyone along

France’s Atlantic coastline, from Brittany to

La Rochelle and Biarritz, we look at what’s

on offer…

82 French Insurance

Guide to the different types of insurance in


86 How to choose the right

Financial Advisor for you

Jennie Poate explains the types of financial

advisors there are in France and what each

can do for you.


90 Apple and Blackberry


92 Scrumptious Crepes


95 Tangy Onion-Tomato jam

97 Delicious Ratatouille

98 mouth-watering Poulet-


From April to October the big draw is the renowned Son et Lumières

which takes over the whole city with installations at 25 monuments -

it’s one of the biggest sound and light shows in the world, Janine

Marsh explores the ancient city...



The city of Chartres is in the department of

Eure-et-Loir, region Centre-Val de Loire, in

south west France.

It’s famous all over the world for its UNESCO

world heritage listed cathedral and no wonder,

it is an extraordinary and wondrous gothic

masterpiece, a major pilgrimage site to this

day. It is the reason why most people go to the

city but there are plenty of other attractions that

visitors will love in this town.

Just an hour from Paris by train, you’ll discover

the past in its cobbled rues.

There are great restaurants, it’s close to the

chateaux of the Loire, and hosts one of the

best light shows in the world – making this a

city break you should definitely pop on your

bucket list.

The Cathedral of Chartres

The Cathedral of course is no. 1 for any

visitor to Chartres, and rightly so. No matter

how many cathedrals or churches you might

have been to, this one sticks out for its

beautiful stained-glass windows, the

extraordinary, ancient crypt, effectively an

underground cathedral, and its mysterious

labyrinth, the biggest and oldest in the

world. It is the only medieval cathedral in

the world to escape war damage - unique.

The first cathedral was erected here in the

4th century, the oldest vestiges date back to

the 9th century, a time when Vikings were

invading England and founding Dublin,

Ireland and Charlemagne was crowned

emperor of Rome. In 876, French King

Charles the Bald gave the town of Chartres

a holy relic, said to be a piece of the veil

worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.

The fabric survived a fire but not the French

Revolution when it was cut into pieces and

dispersed. A few pieces were returned and

you can see them displayed in the chapel.

The main building of the cathedral was built

between 1194 and 1221. The crypt is one of

the longest in Europe at 200m long, and has

welcomed pilgrims from around the world for

a thousand years.

Without a doubt, whatever your beliefs, one

of the most extraordinary ways to visit the

crypt is at night, by candle light with a guide

who will share the history and secrets of this

incredible place. Seeing the frescoes on the

walls, the underground chambers by

flickering candle is very special. I don’t want

to spoil the surprise but when the singing

started, the hairs on the back of my neck

rose, it was a moving experience, and even

if you don’t speak French, a truly astonishing

way to experience the history of this

majestic cathedral. The tour, organised by

the tourist office, also includes a tour of the

Chartres light show.

Take a



that fli




candle lit vigil with a guide

g through the underground

ral and crypt holding candles

cker in the slight draft,

ws moving across the ancient

ed walls and statues of Mary:


The famous Labyrinth was built around the

year 1200 on the floor of the nave. It

attracts the esoteric, the curious and the

religious. It is a 261.5m long pilgrimage

walk and each Friday from 10am to 5pm,

from Lent until All Saints Day, the chairs

that normally cover it are moved off, leaving

it free for pilgrims and visitors to walk. Some

walk it slowly, others faster, some cross

themselves as they go, achieving a look of

beatification as they reach the centre. An

astounding 1.3 million pilgrims make their

way to Chartres each year.

The stained-glass windows are sparklingly

exceptional – 172 of them in total covering

an incredible 2,600sqm. Some of them date

back to the 12th century and you can’t help

but love the colours, especially “Chartres

blue” as it's known, a special blue used on

the oldest windows. For the people of that

day, this richness of colour and art must

have been one of the wonders of the world –

it still is. There’s even a tea named after it

“the Blue Tea of

Chartres”, a blend of

black and green tea,

citrus fruits and berries

in a specially designed

tea caddy – the perfect

souvenir! Find it at La

Brulerie Chartraine, tea

and coffee Shop: 5 rue

Noël Ballay. And while

you’re there, nip into the

Librairie L’Esperluette

bookshop at no 10,

where to your surprise

you’ll find the wall of a

Renaissance house hidden away at the

back of the shop, books piled around the

centuries old windows and door...

The Old town of


The best way to visit the ancient streets of

Chartres is on foot. A good place to start is

the tourist office which is in a Renaissance

building with some impressive wall carvings.

In the 13th century the then Bishop of

Chartres fell out with the count of Chartres.

The Bishop enclosed his part of the city

around the cathedral and today the place

where the entrances once were, are marked

in the road such as Porte d’Horloge, the

Clock Gate, which is in front of a

remarkable16th century 24-hour clock.

One of the most interesting buildings is the

13th century Miason Canoniale opposite the

cathedral. Look up and you’ll see ornate

carvings showing vines, fighting and

gambling followed by hell and dragons

breathing fire - a sobering message for

pilgrims of years gone by to warn them of

the dangers of drinking too much!

If you’re a fan of Renaissance buildings,

you’ll spot plenty in Chartres. You can

recognise them by their mushroom shape,

smaller at the bottom and spreading out

from the 1st floor, an attempt to save money

on taxes as owners paid according to how

much ground they took up.

You can take the little tourist train with an

audio guide to see the historic districts from

spring to autumn. Take a guided tour via the

tourist office or visit with a Greeter,

volunteers who are locals who love to share

their knowledge of the city they love.


Chartres Tourist Office

8 Rue de la Poissonnerie

Where to eat and drink

Locals love: Les Feuillantines is authentic

and friendly. The chef creates his own

house cocktail, the one I had was of

limoncello, sparkling local wine and a lemon

liqueur - deliciously decadent...

Tea and cake : La Molière, gorgeous

gardens in a historic home famous for its

17th century owner, a miser who inspired

the famous French playwright Molière to

write Le Misor based on the meanie's penny

pinching by commissioning a grand house

but scrimping on the brick work, hence when

you see it today, you may wonder why the

lovely local white stone first level is topped

with red brick - it was cheaper in the 17th


Wine and dine: Michelin starred Le Georges

restaurant, the Grand Monarque Hotel. A la

carte or tasting menu, the chef’s dishes are

innovative and truly delicious.

Snack - Maison Monarque in front of

cathedral serves a delicious brunch,

sandwiches, patisseries and macarons.

They also make “le Pèlerin” (the pilgrim). A

soft cake with an almond and fruit paste

marked on top with a design symbolising the

labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral.

Awesome aperitifs: L’Academie de la Bière,

rock music, buzzy with a feel good

atmosphere, it's hipster say the locals,

French for a cool, rocking place to go.

Bake my day: Head to Maison Ioos for

great breads and pastries. Don’t miss the

chance to munch on a Mentchikoff! A sweet

made of praline chocolate covered with

Swiss meringue! Close to the Cathedral at

2bis rue du Soleil d'Or

Ice ice baby: Ice cream heaven awaits at La

Chocolaterie, hand-made ice cream and


Market day: In the centre of Chartres you’ll

find the covered market on Place Billard

near the Cathedral. From 7am to 1pm

Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the

place buzzes as stalls piled high with

delicious local produce tempts the locals to

buy! On Wednesday evenings there’s an

organic market – don’t miss the bread stall,

it’s excellent!

Must-sees in Chartres

Chartres isn’t just home to the majestic

Cathedral, there are more than a dozen

churches in the town and close by dating to

between the 11th and 17th centuries (get

details from the tourist office).

The International Stained-Glass centre is

the only one of its kind in France. Next to

the Cathedral, housed in a listed monument

is the stained-glass museum, you can get

up close to ancient panels of stained glass,

join in workshops and discover the history of


Maison Picasiette, a little bit out of the

centre, but well worth the detour and fans of

Naieve Art will adore it. The house was

decorated with pieces of broken china

between 1930 and 1962 by Raymond

Isidore, an iron foundry worker. His decades

of laborious love are astonishingly bright

and vibrant, every inch of surface covered

and sparkling, like an enormous mosaic

jewel box.

Top tip: Pick up Le Pass from the tourist

office for 10 euros and get discounts and

saving at 50 of their partners including

shops, hotels, restaurants cultural and

tourist sites and more.

What to see nearby:

800-year-old Chateau de Maintenon, home

of Madame de Maintenon, the secret wife of

Louis XIV. Open all year with several

events, the most fabulous of which is the

Christmas event from end November to mid-

December with a performance involving 800

volunteers in costume who bring to life the

history of the castle and its inhabitants.

You can reach the chateau by train from



Far left: Maison Picasiette;

left: the elegant Chateau de

Maintenon, it belonged to

Madame de Maintenon, the

secret wife of Louis XIV. The

gardens are lovely and the

chateau is beautifully


The main events

There are loads of events year-round, of

course The Sound and Light show is the no.

1 but there’s also the quirky Henri IV

weekend each February. A celebration of

Henri IV, the only king to have been

crowned in Chartres, in 1594, sees

restaurants put on “poule au pot” menus,

plus wine tastings.

When Henri IV got sick, he declared “If God

allows me to live, I will make sure that there

is not a single labourer in my kingdom who

does not have the means to enjoy a boiled

chicken on Sundays”. It’s still a popular dish

more than 400 years later!

There are also wine events, music, stained

glass and medieval festivals as well as flea

markets, art and craft events and a grand

Christmas market.

Practical information

Chartres is perfectly doable as a day trip

from Paris with the train taking from 59

minutes. Chartres station is very close to

the Cathedral.

Getting around in Chartres is easy - you

can walk to most of the sites in Chartres,

hire a bike, or jump on the free shuttle bus

(Monday to Saturday), or the Flilibus

network (MyBus Chartres app gives you all

the bus timetables, schedules and status).

There's plenty of choice for hotels and

B&Bs in Chartres. If you're looking for

luxury then you won't do better than to

splash out at Le Grand Monarque - pure

indulgence and utterly lovely. By the way,

you may see the name Grand Monarque

everywhere in France, it refers to Louis


Eure-et-Loir Tourism: www.tourism28.com

Spotlight on:


The Gateway to

the south of


Valence, the gateway city to the

south of France, a place of history,

fabulous restaurants and wonderful

architecture as Lucy Pitts discovers

Just an hour south of Lyon, Valence is a beautiful and

surprising city. It’s known as the gateway to the south of

France and from Paris, you can be there in a couple of

hours on the TGV which steams its way through and on

south to Montpellier and beyond.

Perched on the banks of the Rhône River, a stone’s throw

from the Ardèche, Valence is a city of narrow cobbled

streets, parks, canals, the regal Champ de Mars, a

marina, and a diverse mixture of architecture. It has

history, culture and cuisine in abundance and all basking

in the reach of the Vercours Mountains and the Pre Alpes.

In the footsteps of pilgrims and


The TGV station is about 10km out of the centre but the

city’s Gare de Valence Ville is a beautiful 19th century

structure which brings you right into the heart of the city

(or sends you off on its many tendrils to explore the

region). From here walk straight down Avenue Pierre

Sémard and it will being you out into the grand Esplanade

du Champ Du Mars.

You find yourself wondering why

you don’t know more about this

elegant city

This 3-hectare site has lime trees, lawns

and fountains and the romantic Kiosk de

Peynet. With views across to the Vercours

and Ardèche mountains and the old ruins of

Castle Crussol, it’s a captivating start and

has access to one of the city’s eight parks,

the Jouvet Park. With the impressive line of

19th century façades bordering the Champ

du Mars you find yourself wondering why

you don’t know more about this elegant city.

From the wide Boulevard du Général de

Gaulle head into the narrow back streets

where you’ll find a melting pot of architecture

and intriguing pockets of interest.

This city was on the pilgrims’ trail and the

cathedral (built and rebuilt in the 11th, 17th

and 19th centuries) has a special ambulatory

for pilgrims and monument to Pope

Pius VI, who died in Valence. Then there’s

the Maison des Têtes, a 16th century house

built on the cusp of the transition from Gothic

to Renaissance and covered in sculpted

heads representing wind, wealth and time,

as well as theology, law and medicine. And

there’s the Pendentif which, built in 1548,

broke new architectural ground with its

spherical triangles.

In fact, almost every twist and turn in the

narrow streets of Valence reveals something

intriguing, from narrow steps in the city walls

to art galleries (the city has an impressive

collection) to three Michelin starred

restaurants. There’s even an Armenian

centre here and the different architecture

seems to sway gently through the centuries.

A bite of Valance

Valence has food and the gourmand at its

heart. In every boulangerie you’ll find a local

speciality: the Suisse and the Pogne. The

Suisse is shaped and decorated as a Swiss

soldier in honour of Pope Pius’ guards, it's a

sort of orange blossom flavoured brioche

while the Pogne is a rounded brioche.

The very best place to try these is the

Boulangerie Nivon, a short stroll from the

station and where they’ve been serving

these delights to commuters since 1856.

They're possibly the best in the city and the

bakers’ passion is palpable, (or should I say


In every restaurant, you’ll come across

another speciality, their tiny Raviole du

Dauphiné, made of white cheese and

parsley. Then there’s Anne Sophie Pic and

her family. An award winning, third

generation chef, she has followed in her

grandfather’s footsteps by winning 3

Michelin stars. Their influence is felt

everywhere and of course, they’re not the

only Michelin starred chefs in the city or the


A weekend for the


And then of course there’s the annual Fête

de la Gastronomie at the end of September.

At this time of year, the weather’s still balmy

and the city throws its doors open to

embrace all the flavours of the region as

well as the cuisine of the world.

Centred on the Place des Clercs but

spreading out through the city, you can

enjoy local celebrity chefs preparing their

favourite dishes, markets, musico –

gastronomic (yes cooking to the rhythm of

the DJ), workshops and a tour of 8 of the

city’s historical monuments who host fine

food tastings. The streets are filled with

music and teasingly delightful aromas and

lots of the restaurants embrace the festival

spirit with special offers and dishes.

Each year the festival celebrates a specific

theme that encourages “the reflection and

discovery of French Gastronomy” and in

2015, the festival saw some 2 million

visitors. If you love France and you love

food, it’s a little slice of the idyllic.

Linger a little longer

Valence feels sophisticated and elegant, yet

quiet and very personal. There are regular

markets here on Tuesdays, Thursdays,

Fridays and Saturdays and other cultural

events going on throughout the year. In July

there’s a large and free music festival on the

Champ Du Mars and of course, there’s the

many places to visit beyond the city and in

the surrounding Drôme. Valence is Lyon’s

beautiful but shy cousin and a city that you

should take the time to get to know much


More information



Details for Fête de la Gastronomie at:


Where to stay:Les Négociants is in the

centre of the city, a few steps from the

station and almost next door to the

Boulangerie Nivon. It has a quirky and fun

feel and is a great place to explore from.


Cassel Village prefere de





of the



Approach the town of Cassel

from the flat countryside, fields

of wheat swaying in a light

breeze in summer, car winding

its way helter-skelter-like, up

and around the mountain of

Cassel until you suddenly

reach the cobbled roads that

lead into the small town with

big views at the top of the

famous hill of French Flanders.

Janine Marsh explores the

newly award-winning favourite

town of the French 2018

View over the countryside around


Favourite garden of the French in Cassel

An essential stop when you visit Cassel has

to be the multi award winning garden known

as the Jardins de Mont des Récollets. This

rather unusual garden is famous in France,

in fact it was voted favourite garden of the

French in 2013 and has an unusual history.

Owner and gardener extraordinaire

Emmanuel de Quillacq took over what was

his grandfather’s farm, in 1986. Having

always worked in an office, he developed an

overwhelming passion for the glorious

countryside and the town of Cassels. After

studying at the famous Versailles school of

gardening, he devoted his life and every

working day to turning the once neglected

farmland into a fabulous garden that visitors

fall head over heels for.

You enter via an alley of apple trees to

discover a grand “room” of topiary, of

hydrangeas, roses, wild meadow flowers.

These “rooms” in the garden are of all

different styles but flow effortlessly, one to

the other. You can’t help but think it looks a

bit like something out of a Breughel painting.

“It’s Flemish renaissance” says Emmanuel,

“that’s what inspired me and drives the

design, over time the style has slowly


The view from the garden over the

surrounding countryside is breath-takingly

beautiful. “When I first saw this place, it

reminded me of Breughel’s painting the

Hunters in the Snow” says the green

fingered Emmanuel, and if you see the

painting, you’ll see what he means. “It’s like

a window on nature here, framing a different

view every single day.” Indeed, there are

windows cut into hedges all over the place

offering a different perspective on the

landscape. It’s said that on a clear day you

can see the English coast from here and the

Belfry of Bruges!

This is a spectacular garden to visit,

peaceful, lush and beautiful. You can also

take a break at the little café which is full of

charm – as well as artefacts of yesteryear.

Lunch is of the traditional Flemish style,

made with local products and fruit from the

garden and is open daily through July and

August, at other times by appointment for


Cassel – favourite village of the French 2018

Those gorgeous gardens are not the only

winners around here. The town itself took

the first prize in the hugely popular “Le

village préféré des Français” contest in

2018. When much-loved TV host Stéphane

Bern announced that Cassel had beaten

much more famous rivals to the title,

including Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy

and Roussillon in Provence, the locals were

more than delighted. You may never have

heard of this place but taking this title

almost guarantees that Cassel is about to

get a lot more well-known.

The charm of Cassel lies in the fact that it is

typically Flemish, that it has outstanding

views over the beautiful countryside, friendly

folk, the gardens of Mont des Récollets and

a strong sense of the authentic and of the

past. It’s been likened to something out of a

story from Père Castor, beloved stories for

children originating in the early 20th century

with a fairy-tale, folklore vibe.

It’s a small town with an excellent museum

with a good collection of paintings and

regular temporary exhibitions.

It’s a nice place in which to take an amble.

Enjoy the views from the ramparts, the

castle having long gone, or from the gardens

at the highest point of Mont Cassel, 176m

up, where you’ll find a windmill on the site of

the former castle. You can drive to the top

but its much more fun to climb the quirky

Alpine stairs. While you’re there, you should

definitely take a break at the enchanting

Estaminet Kasteelhof, a Flemish word for a

tavern. It’s actually the restaurant of

Emmanuel de Quillacq of the Jardins de

Mont des Récollets and reflects his love for

tradition and Flanders with a fabulous rustic

menu, local beers, home made lemonades

and wonderful traditional décor. The terrace

has stunning views and inside is

atmospheric and fun. There’s also a little

shop where you can buy local products (8

Rue Saint-Nicolas).

Don’t miss the Musée de Flandre which has

a beautiful 16th Renaissance façade. It’s

home to a rich collection of paintings, prints

and sculptures and presents the history of

French Flanders.

Photo: Remy Catelain

Enjoy the ambiance of Cassel

There are plenty of charming cafés and

restaurants to lure you.

Locals love: Kasteelhof (above) and Le

Kerelshof II at the heart of the Grand Place.

It gets very lively at the weekends and is

friendly, fun with a great range of beers and

a decent menu of local foods and

specialities from carbonnade (beef stew with

ale and brown sugar) to potjevleesch (cold

meats in aspic) and sugar pie!

Take a break: Café aux Trois Moulins, like

something out of Maigret story. It’s great for

a coffee, beer and robust plates of food like

steak frites, friendly staff and very good

value. 50 Grand'Place

Wine and dine: Fenetre sur la Cour, this

Michelin starred restaurant offers a fabulous

menu at a non-Michelin price. With a 2-

course lunch menu starting at Euros 23.50

or Chef Jean-Luc Paulhan’s 5 course choice

with 3 wines at just €62.50 in beautiful

surroundings. 5 Rue du Marechal Foch

Local specialities and artisans

At La Ferme des Templiers, you’ll be

tempted by Le Boulet de Cassel, a local

mimolette made with milk from a local breed

of cow, the Rouge Flamande.

Ferme des Récollets is run by the Beun

family, and you’ll receive a warm welcome

before you fall in love with their cheeses

which are mostly made from goats milk.

Try the new local brew Bière du Reuze,

named after the famous giants of the area

You can buy local products in the town at

shops in the town at 2 rue Bollaert and 32

Grand Place as well as at the Estaminet


More info: https://www.coeurdeflandre.fr/


Le Petit History:

Jean Jaurès

New Series

He was famous for his eloquent speeches,

for standing up for workers’ rights and as

one of the founding members and leader of

the French Socialist Party, the forerunner to

France’s Socialist Party. He also founded

the socialist newspaper L'Humanité, still

sold today.

On a Friday evening July 31, 1914, a 29-yearold

French nationalist by the name of Raoul

Villain arrived at the Café du Croissant

(which is still there) at 146 Rue Montmartre,

Paris. He pulled a pistol from his pocket

and fired two shots at a diner, striking his

target twice in the head. The hits were fatal

for Jean Jaurès, the victim, dining with the

editor of L'Humanité.


Nowadays Jaurès is best remembered for

his anti-militarism and attempts to avert the

outbreak of the First World War.

Wherever you go in France you’re sure to

come across a Place Jean Jaurès, a rue Jean

Jaurès, Avenue Jean Jaurès, schools and

even metro stations of that name – Paris

and Lyon.

Every French school child will learn about

Jean Jaurès, he is one of the most wellknown

figures of French history, though he

is hardly known outside his home country.

Who was Jean Jaurès

Born 1859 in the Tarn region, Jean Jaurès

became one of the most celebrated figures

of French history, a social thinker, anti-war

campaigner and politician. A man who has

left his mark on French culture.

“Never, for forty years, has Europe been in a

more threatening and more tragic

situation," he warned in the spring of 1914.

He had been trying to force governments to

find a path other than war by organising

workers strikes in Europe. It didn’t please


His assassination brought the strike

actions to an end. Just hours later, Germany

declared war on Russia and two days later

on France. By August 4 when Jaurès was

buried, all the major powers of Europe were

officially at war.

Jean Jaurès final resting place is in the

Pantheon, Paris.


The sweetest smelling city in


Kevin Pilley follows his nose in Provence

I had my own “Nose”.

All to myself.

Grasse, the perfume capital of

France, the most fragrant place on

earth... Kevin Pilley takes a tour

with his "nose"...

The town didn’t always smell this nice. It

used to stink,” my Nose told me. “It was a

leather tanning town and the stench was

unbearable. The first fragrance produced

was for designer gloves. Rose water to

mask the ghastly smell. Catherine de Medici

endorsed them. And Grasse quickly

became the perfume capital of the world.”

I was being shown round “The Galimand

Studio des Fragrances” in the Route de

Cannes. My Nose was a perfume expert

and professional petro-chemist. “Every

perfume has its own unique composition

made from one hundred and forty-seven

notes,” my private Nose said.

“Each perfume has the peak, the heart and

the base or, fond note. The job of professional

noses is to create a harmonious

formula. When you visit Grasse you must be

prepared to be seduced.”

For four hundred heady years, the tiny

village in the foothills of the Alps-Maritimes

above the French Mediterranean coast has

been the centre of the international perfume

industry. “Chanel No.5” was invented there

in 1922. It was the first perfume to use

synthetic materials - aldehyde. But, every

year twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine are

still harvested from the surrounding

countryside and used by the local

“fumeries”. There is also a weekly market in

the Genoa-inspired square, a rose festival in

May and a jasmine festival in August. And

the perfumeries are busier than ever.

My “perfumerie” crawl moved on to the

museum on the third floor of the yellowwalled

“Fragonard” factory where I was

given a new Nose who invited me to take a

deep breath. “You are standing in the most

fragrant place on earth,” my Nose informed

me. “You can smell the whole world from

here. The finest smells the earth can


"You are standing in the most

fragrant place on earth"

My nose swooned and reeled off the

aromas. “Turkish roses picked at dawn,

Egyptian orange blossom, lavender from the

plateaux of Haute Provence, local petal-less

wild mimosa, Madagascan ylang-ylang,

Californian lemons, Calabrian bergamot,

Israeli grapefruit, Indian Ocean vanilla,

Russian coriander, Somalian frankincense,

Sri Lankan sandalwood, Philipinno cloves,

Japanese ginger, Kenyan cedar, Italian iris,

Guatemalan cardamom, South African


I couldn’t hold my breath any longer. The spiel

was highly concentrated, and I was starting to

hyperventilate. But my Nose asked me to

muster one more inhalation. She wanted to

educate my nostrils. Her nose told her I didn’t

know my “Intuition” from my “Knowing”. Or, my

“Youth Dew” from my “Brut”.

“If you want to smell the world you need only to

come to the French Riviera. We can now

simulate the world’s most arousing animal

musk. Did you know ambergris is a substance

secreted by the digestive system of sperm

whales? And castor is produced by beaver


There was a lot of talk about modern, high-tech

techniques and meeting the qualitative and

quantitative expectations of the modern

marketplace and making human beings smell

desirable in an ecologically desirable way.

Having finished the maceration rooms and

proud of myself for finding out that ylang-ylang

comes from a tree belonging to the custard

apple family, my next stop was “The

International Museum of Perfumery”.

It’s a glassy modern makeover of an

eighteenth-century hotel and crammed with

perfume-making paraphernalia, “olfactive

stations”, “essence fountains” and “vapour

trails”, telling the same story of distillation,

absorption, supercritical carbon dioxide

volatile solvents and how it’s become

possible to smell like Beyonce and Lady


Feeling sufficiently up on molecular science,

I read the walls for some more background.

Using donkey-drawn carts, the earliest

French “parfumiers” carried their primitive

and very crude distilling vats into the

mountains around Grasse, gathered wild

flowers and extracted scents on the spot in

the open air by steaming the plants in large

copper cauldrons. The still had been

introduced from Arabia and an Italian monk,

Mauritius Frangipani, had discovered that

perfumes can be preserved in alcohol.

In 1759, using skills learnt from the pomade

(hair ointment) makers of Montpellier, the

people of Grasse began supplying Parisian

scent-makers with their raw materials.

Business grew and soon Grasse was

producing iris, hyacinth and rose scented

soaps in special containers. Antoine Chiris

founded one of the first perfumeries in the

town at the end of the century. There are

now three times more artificial, man-made

fragrances on the market than natural ones.

Approximately six thousand essential oils

are used by the cosmetic industry.

Today, the Grasse perfume industry

employs a workforce of several thousand.

The global cosmetic industry is thought to be

worth $72.7 billion. Four factories in Grasse

are open to the public and guided tours

explain the series of washing, filtration,

purification, evaporation and impregnation

which constitutes the highly involved and

painstaking production process. All this is

overseen by one expert who is affectionately

known as “The Chief Nose” or “Le


“La Musee International de la Perfumerie”,

which opened in 1989, has a collection of

antique amphorae and stoppered bottles

from famous manufactures like Lalique and

Baccarat. Also exhibited is Marie

Antoinette’s travel case and “chatelaines” –

private perfume bottles on chains.

In 1990, one bottle of “Bouchon Mures”, an

electric blue flagon by Lalique, fetched a

staggering £38,000 at auction.

Fine scents are like fine wines. But the

bottle is almost as important as what is

inside. Many, like Ernst Beaux’s Chanel

No.5 bottle, have become design classics.

The story of perfume contains a few

surprises. Russian astronauts went into

space with phials full of perfume and

essential oils to remind them of home. From

its earliest documented use perfume has

put man in touch with the heavens. The

word “perfume” derives from the Latin “per

fumum” meaning “through smoke”, The

ancient Greeks and Egyptians burnt

aromatic substances in their temples to

placate the gods and mask the smell of

burning flesh during human sacrifices.

As Christianity spread perfume was frowned

upon as a vanity until it was revived by the

Crusaders returning from the Middle-East.

In Tudor times, Europeans sprinkled

pleasant-smelling love-in-the-mist seeds

into their hair to prevent lice.

Perfumes fall into three basic categories –

floral, orientals and oceanics. The top

sellers include Chanel’s “Chanel No. 5”

which Marilyn Monroe wore (“and nothing

else”), “Gucci’s “Envy”, Givenchy’s

“Organza”, and Calvin Klein’s “Obsession”.

Paris perfume makers Lubin make Black

Jade, said to be based on a perfume

recipe loved by Marie-Antoinette,

entrusted to a friend, passed down

through the centuries...

Grasse is especially known for

its fragrant May rose, the pale

pink flower that blooms in May,

and jasmine. Both flowers are at

the heart of more than a few

famous fragrances, including

Chanel’s star, No. 5.

A Multi-billion dollar industry - not

to be sniffed at

Today’s perfume industry is very profitable.

It's predicted that the US perfume market

alone will exceed sales of 7 billion dollars in

by 2020. Multinationals now control the

major perfume houses. Paris-based

“L’Oreal” , founded in 1907 by chemist

Eugene Schueler who invented the world’s

first synthetic hair dye, has a portfolio of

twenty-one leading brands including

“Lancome“,” “Giorgio Armani”( acquired in

1980 and including “Mania”, “Acqua di Gio”

and Armani Pour Homme“), “Ralph Lauren”,

“Cacharel” and “Lancome” (bought in 1964)

perfumes and fragrances.

Someone once worked out that more than

eighty-five of its products are bought every

second - every day. Which is a stat not to

be sniffed at.

Along the Boulevard Victor Hugo in the

“Molinard” (depuis 1849) workshop, I

achieved my lifelong ambition of creating my

own fragrance. A smell that is uniquely me.

One day soon I hope to create a whole

range of smells. That will turn heads.

I learned the art of alchemy and seduction

and was allowed to indulge in my mad

professor fantasy in order to create my own

toilet water. Using pipettes, I concocted my

own personalized scent and received a

“diploma l’eleve”, certifying that I had

attended the “tarinology” workshop and

graduated as a “trainee nose” from one of

Grasse’s highly-respected perfume schools.

I am now qualified to boast that I know what

it takes to smell well.

I haven’t named my scent yet. But I have

dedicated it to Giorgio Armani who once said

“For those who live with style

and elegance, dressing is a

ritual. The final act in that

ritual is fragrance.”

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau

Like "a faceted diamond set in the Indre

bathing in the river like princely creature".

Honoré de Balzac

On a hot summer’s night, after dinner at the

lovely Hotel Le Grand Monarque, in the bijou

town of Azay-le-Rideau I decided to stroll

through the pretty little streets and take a

peek at the famed Chateau through its

ornate iron gates, ahead of a day time visit

scheduled for the next day. Imagine my

surprise to discover that at 10pm the gates

were open, and visitors were welcomed in

for free to wander the fragrant gardens and

ooh and ah at the sight of the fairy-tale castle

lit up against a twilight sky, its reflection

shimmering in the moat, perfectly still except

for ripples caused by a dipping dragonfly, a

lazy fish or an amorous frog looking for

company. A full moon hovered over the

castle, a glowing homage to its beauty as the

silhouette of small bats flitted through the

beams of the moon. The scent of lavender

was heady. It was like a dream chateau

come to life…

History of Azay-le-Rideau

Standing on an island in the middle of the

Indre River, the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

was built combining the latest technical

innovations from Italy and the art of French


In around 1510, Gilles Berthelot, Finance

Minister of King Louis XII and Mayor of

nearby Tours, became owner of the ruins of

a fortress in Azay-le-Rideau. He had plans

drawn up for a château, putting his wife

Philippe (in those days, a name for both men

and women) in charge of the construction. By

1515, the year Francois I came to the throne,

the Renaissance influence was in full flow.

Philippe proved to be an excellent project

manager, ordering slate from Anjou, ensuring

masons, carpenters and workmen were on

site at the right time.

Photo Terry Webb

photo: Terry Webb

Gilles paid homage to King Francois and his

wife Queen Claude by having their initials

carved on the walls. Flattery did no good,

the proud owners never had time to enjoy

their home. A general investigation ordered

by Francis I revealed embezzlement.

Berthelot fled, abandoning his wife Philippe

and his château, he died in 1529. Francis I

seized the unfinished Château and gave it

to one of his loyal followers. In places you

can see carvings begun and doomed to

never to be finished, it adds to the romance.

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau


The Chateau today is under state ownership

and it is one of the absolute jewels of the

Loire Valley. Incredibly pretty inside and out,

the river that surrounds it reflects its beauty

in a thousand ripples.

Recent renovations (completed in 2017)

revealed some of the chateau’s secrets, for

instance the practice of bulrush matting for

the walls. The tradition was spotted by an

eagle-eyed historian in a 16th century

tapestry of a man getting dressed. You’ll

now see this in the bedroom that was

Philippe’s. In her day, it wasn’t just a place

to sleep but to live, she would receive

visitors there, eat and work in the room, so

keeping it warm in winter and cool in

summer was essential and the wall

coverings helped as did raising the bed off

the floor on a platform. It was also believed

that the smell of the reeds expelled bad

moods and cleansed the air!

Centuries of pigeons roosting on the roof

had left the famously white castle a rather

dull grey – not any more. Artisans and

craftsmen have repaired and restored the

chateau to glory using authentic methods,

creating a new path which goes all around

the castle and giving it a whole new lease of


The turrets, moat and cobbled sentry walk

are token gestures towards the look of a

fortress because this is in reality a dream

home of the 16th century – and no one

would mind it today either! The staircase

was incredibly innovative for its day, inside

(a novelty then), running centrally through

the chateau and giving fabulous views at

every level.

The rooms are exquisitely furnished and

decorated with tapestries and paintings and

the most extraordinary artworks. Automatons

bring the castle to life, whirling figures,

twirling cake stands, swishing curtains – it’s

all very fairy-tale like and perfectly suits this

most romantic and elegant of chateaux.

From early July to end August – the chateau

is lit up at night for evening visits.


What to see in Azay-le-


Take the time to discover the town while

you’re there - it’s charming and authentic

and there are some lovely shops and


Don’t miss – the Thé Salon with its gorgeous

artisan cakes (top left) at 23 Rue nationale.

Stroll down rue de Balzac, the road which

leads to the gates of the chateau, it's lined

with galleries, boutiques and cafés and is

very pretty.

Relax in the secret garden in front of the

chateau, filled with seasonal flowers and


Enjoy the wine... this is an area of

magnificent vineyards producing Touraine

A very small part

of a very large

collection at

Musée Maurice


wines including dry whites, sweet wines,

reds, rosés and sparkling wines. Follow the

Loire Valley wine route and explore the

vineyards and domaines along the counrtry

lanes of this lush region. There's evidence

that vines have been grown here since

Gallo-Roman times and the wines of

Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau reflect the

centuries of savoire-faire.

Don't forget to sample the delicious

Touraine cheeses such as Sainte-Maure de

Touraine, a tangy goats cheese that's

perfect with the regional wines!

Just outside the centre of Azay-le-Rideau in

Marnay you'll find the quirky and fascinating

Musée Maurice Dufresne, the latter an

obsessive collector of things. Set on an

island, it holds an authentic and amazing

collection of ancient vehicles, cars, bicycles,

planes, trucks, motorbikes, tractors,

agricultural or military machinery, vintage

posters and peculiar objects - including a

mobile guilotine. With more than 3000

pieces, allow a minimum of 2-3 hours to see

it all. There's also a restaurant on site which

is popular for lunch, so book your slot on

arrival if you can.

Also close by is the Chateau de l'Islette, a bit

of a hidden gem and not on the main tourist

route. Still lived in, the pretty Renaissance

chateau is known locally as the little sister of

the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau. Here, the

great Rodin conducted his stormy love affair

with fellow artist Claude Camille, it's

charming, authentic and has lovely gardens,

perfect for a picnic or a boat ride on the

small lake.

Hotel: Grand Monarque a former 18th

century post house in the centre of Azay-le-

Rideau is charming; lovely restaurant too.

Take a tour with Val de Loire Travel

Tourist office: www.touraineloirevalley.com;


Renata Haidle

I love the tiny medieval villages, with

their warm, worn stone walls covered

with abundant, beautiful blooms. I love

the bright, vivid colours of Vieille Nice

and Villefranche-sur-mer, and their lively

atmosphere of a perpetual holiday. The

powdery blue shutters, the Cypress

trees, the sound of cicadas at night, the

blue of the Mediterranean, the red

geraniums in flower boxes, the scent of

jasmine as well as the briny sea. I love

the narrow alleys of Èze and La Turbie,

where you feel like you're lost in a

fairytale. I love Vence, Cagnes-sur-Mer,

and Saint-Paul-de-Vence for their

artistic heritage, the names of so many

famous artists that once called these

places home still alive in the locals'

hearts and minds, and still inspiring

visitors decade after decade. And cliché

of clichés but oh so true, I love the

people, their culture, their beautiful,

enviable joie de vivre, and their

impeccable style that shows in

everything they do.

One of my favourite

restaurants is Au Vieux Four

in tiny Gourdon, where I had

a scrumptious risotto

piémontais with roast

chicken, followed by a

chocolate gâteau with mango

sorbet for dessert. It was one

of the best meals I had in the

south of France, also made

memorable by the fact that it

was preceded by a strenuous,

steep, two hour-long

hike up the mountain, all the

way from Pont-du-Loup to


I love the unpretentious Loco Loco in

Villefranche-sur-mer. Last year, after

having a delicious seafood salad there,

I wanted to pay with a credit card,

unaware of the fact that they only took

cash - which I didn't have. Jean Pierre,

the waiter (and co-owner, but I didn't

know that at the time), graciously

directed me to the nearest cash

machine (which wasn't really that

near), trusting that I'd go back and pay

him, which I did, of course. It felt good

to see him again upon return to

Villefranche-sur-mer one year later,

although I only saw him briefly in the

narrow alley outside the restaurant. I

didn't talk to him but posted this story

on Instagram with a photo of him, and

was surprised in the most pleasant

way when a young girl left a comment

saying, "That man is my father!" Isn't it

lovely how we're all connected

somehow in this digital age!

The beautiful Negresco Hotel, which is

utterly deserving of its great reputation, is

undoubtedly the most beautiful hotel I've

had the good fortune to stay in. Not only is

the Art Deco architecture breathtaking, but

everything inside is curated with the utmost

attention to detail. The interior decor

elements are impeccably chosen to create

a space that is luxurious yet welcoming

and warm. There are countless wonderful

antique furnishings and decorative objects

throughout, and the art collection gracing

the walls is worthy of a small museum. An

experience not to be missed, for sure!

Renata Haidle is a Billings, Montanabased

travel, architecture, and fine art

photographer. She travels to Europe

regularly, mainly to France and

England, where she photographs

beautiful architecture and snippets of

everyday life. Her travel photos have

been featured in numerous

publications and exhibitions. You can

find her at: www.renatahaidle.com


Every weekend, we invite

you to share your photos

on Facebook - it's a great

way for everyone to see

"real" France and be

inspired by real travellers

snapping pics as they go.

Every week there are

utterly gorgeous photos

being shared and here we

showcase the most popular

of each month. Share your

favourite photos with us on

Facebook - the most "liked"

will appear in the next issue

of The Good Life France


Sunset over Carcassonne by

Lisa Felmingham, most

popular photo in July

The colourful town of Dinan,

Brittany by David Jurivcevich,

most popular photo in August!

The Chateau of Versailles through

its gilded gate, by Jerri Freeman,

most popular photo in September

Join us on Facebook and like

and share your favourite photos

of France...

UNESCO world heritage

In Tarn

The historic department of Tarn is awash with

UNESCO listed attractions, Rupert Parker



heritage in the Tarn

Tarn, in the Occitanie region, is one of those

places in France that confuses people. They

automatically think of the wild Gorges des Tarn

which are in Lozère, some 140kms to the North

West of Albi, Tarn’s capital. The River Tarn flows

through both but there the comparison ends. The

département has a landscape of green hills, lush

vineyards, medieval Bastide villages and some

notable UNESCO World Heritage sites.


I start in the capital Albi, around an hour west of

Toulouse. From my room in the Mercure Cité

Episcopale Hôtel, overlooking the River Tarn, there’s a

picture postcard view of the city, dominated by the

fortress-like Sainte-Cécile Cathedral. It glows red in

the early morning, a monstrous mountain of brick,

erected from 1282 to 1392, as a powerful show of

strength, after the Cathar revolt was finally quashed.

Bishop Bernard de Castanet didn’t just build this

cathedral, he also started a vicious inquisition

accusing many prominent townspeople of heresy.

I cross the Tarn into the city by the 11th century Pont

Vieux and make my way up to this Fortress of God.

Up close, it’s even more intimidating, a brick bunker,

with windows nothing but slits, topped with the

highest brick tower in Europe, rising to 78m. It’s part

of the UNESCO rated Episcopal City which also

includes Bishop Bernard’s own stronghold, the Palais

de la Berbie plus the palace’s riverside gardens, the

Saint Salvi church and the Pont Vieux.

After the Gothic gauntness of its exterior, the inside of

the Cathedral comes as something of a pleasant

surprise. The vault is covered in richly colourful

frescoes, the largest example of Italian Renaissance

painting in France. At the back is an enormous

depiction of the Last Judgement, four stories high and

taking up the entire width of the building.

It was painted by Flemish artists between

1474 and 1480 and the reptilian demons,

torturing sad souls for eternity, are a stern

reminder of the wages of sin. It’s missing

its central section, knocked through to give

access to a more recent chapel at the base

of the bell tower. Sadly, that means that

God, the judge of the Last Judgement, is no

longer to be seen.

At the other end, surrounding the choir is a

Gothic rood screen, carved out of

limestone, housing dozens of statues in

niches. By the central doorway, you can

make out Adam trying to cover himself,

facing Eve, striking her model’s pose.

Before the Counter Reformation, access to

this part of the church was only available to

the clergy, keeping out the common people

who could only hear, but not see, the

celebration of mass.

Son of Albi - Toulouse-


Albi’s most famous son is the painter Henri

de Toulouse-Lautrec and the house where

he was born in 1864 still exists, although

it’s closed to the public. What you can see

is an almost complete collection of his

works in the Palais de la Berbie, next to the

Cathedral.When he died in 1901 of

alcoholism and syphilis, nobody was

interested in his paintings and they

struggled to find a home. Fortunately one

of his cousins was Mayor of Albi at the time

and the Toulouse Lautrec museum opened

in 1922.

"Toulouse-Lautrec probably

influenced Van Gogh and

Picasso was a great admirer"

Lautrec had bone disease, probably a result

of inbreeding in his family, and broke his

right thigh bone when he fell off a chair

when he was 13. Recuperating in the

Pyrenees, he tripped and broke the other

thigh bone and both never completely

healed. He started drawing and painting

during long periods of convalescence and

went to Paris to study with Bonnat and

Cormon. During this time, he had his first

encounter with a prostitute and started

painting the low life of Montmartre.

What surprises in the museum is that he

really was an accomplished painter although

he never seems to have settled on a style.

You can detect expressionist, impressionist,

classical, even chiaroscuro in the 240

canvases on display. He probably influenced

Van Gogh and Picasso was a great admirer.

Towards the end of his life, in 1891, he taught

himself lithography and made the 31 Moulin

Rouge posters for which he’s justly famous.

Yvette Gilbert,

raunchy cabaret

singer of the Belle

Epoque and

favourite subject

for Toulouse-


The other UNESCO listed attraction in Albi is

the parchment Mappa Mundi, dating from

the 8th century, and one of the oldest

representations of the world. It belonged to

Albi cathedral and you can see a facsimile in

the Treasury with information panels

explaining the content and the history.

I’m privileged to be shown the original,

now kept in the Pierre-Amalric Library

and only brought out on special

occasions. As well as being exceptionally

delicate, its surprisingly small, the size of

an exercise book. It represents the world

in the form of a horseshoe, centred

around the Mediterranean, orientated to

the East and features some fifty names of

cities, regions, rivers, seas and winds. I

can just make out the shape of Europe

and even India is represented, although

it’s not as close as they thought.


Around 45 minutes south of Albi is the city

of Castres, which developed around the

Benedictine abbey of Saint Benoît, founded

in AD 647. Don’t miss the Saturday morning

market which fills the whole of Place Jean

Jaurès. From Quai des Jacobins there's a

striking view of the medieval multi-storey

tanners' and dyers' houses lining the River

Agout, known as the Venice of Languedoc

All have basements, opening directly onto

the river where animal skins were cleansed

and rinsed and then put in tanks full of lime.

The ground floor was occupied by the

workers with the masters living above. On

the top two floors were the drying sheds,

with shuttered openings protecting the

hides from the sun during summer and from

the frost during winter. Under the roof, the

“soleiller”, or second drying shed was left

wide open to let the air and light in.

The Bishop's Palace is now the town hall

and has immaculately laid out gardens by

Le Notre, a famous 17th century landscape

gardener who also laid out the gardens at

Versailles. It’s also home to the Goya

museum, dedicated to Spanish artists, and

contains a handful of works by the master

himself. Don’t miss their Picasso, the "Bust

of Man Writing", on loan from the Picasso


Royal School-Abbey of


Half an hour south west from here is the

Bastide village of Sorèze. The Benedictine

abbey became a Royal Military School under

Louis XVI, then a college for the rich and

famous and only closed in 1991.

The main attraction here are the UNESCO

World Heritage tapestries of the master

weavers of Aubusson. It was a monk, Dom

Robert, from the nearby Abbey of En Calcat,

who revived the tradition in the early

twentieth century.

In the new museum, located in the Abbey

School, there are 60 stunning examples of

his tapestries, featuring motifs inspired by

nature, plus sketches and paintings. Other

works by the Aubusson weavers are also

featured and there’s an exhibit outlining the

process of creating a tapestry.

Les Cammazes

In the southwestern end of the Tarn, in the

Black Mountains, is the tiny village of Les

Cammazes. It’s an unlikely UNESCO site

but its claim to fame is the Rigole

de la Montagne, or Mountain Channel,

which supplies water to the Canal du Midi.

It was built in 1666 by engineer Pierre-Paul

Riquet and later modified to pass under the

mountain through a vault designed and

built by Vauban twenty years later. This

122m underground aqueduct has been

recently restored and is open to the public.

It’s not for the faint of heart as the pathway

is dark and narrow, but armed with a torch,

it’s a unique experience.

Useful Information

Tarn Tourisme: information on the region.

Albi Tourisme: information about the city.

Castres Tourisme: information about the



Mercure Cité Episcopale Hotel overlooks

the river in Albi.

Hotel Abbaye Ecole de Sorèze is inside

the Abbey.

Villa de Mazamet luxury B&B, Mazamet


Restaurant Le Lautrec has regional fare

opposite the painter’s birthplace in Albi.

La Table du Sommelier offers local wine

pairings with each course in Albi.

La Part des Anges has a Michelin Bib

Gourmand in Castres.

Les Collets Rouges is a stylish

establishment inside Sorèze Abbey.

Le Salon de Vauban serves home grown

produce in Les Cammazes.

The ultimate Fun Run

Kevin Pilley is lured to put on his

running shoes and drink wine for one of

the most unique marathons in the world

Photo © Yves Mainguy/AMCM

Photo © Yves Mainguy/AMCM

The Medoc


There comes to every person the realization

that they are not as young or athletic as they

once were. It came to me in Bordeaux. When I

was overtaken by Obi-Wan Kenobi and lapped

by Darth Vader. Even a Dalek overtook me.

Going uphill, only Jabba the Hutt was slower.

There are several ways to see the famous

vineyards of Bordeaux and Medoc. You can go

by car, by bicycle or do them on horseback.

You can see them by hot air balloon or boat.

And even by all-terrain vehicle. Or you can be

chased through them by the Incredible Hulk.

Every year, the world's largest fine winegrowing

region which produces more than

800 million bottles of wine every year, stages

Le Marathon du Médoc - a 42.195-kilometre

"fun run" which takes in 55 vineyards and

passes 50 chateaux.

The course runs through famous winegrowing

towns such as Saint-Estèphe,

Leyssac, Marbuzet, Saint-Julien-Beychevelle

and Le Pouyalet, home of Château Mouton

Rothschild which, with Lafite and Latour, is

one of the region's three Grand Crus classés


Photo © Yves Mainguy/AMCM

Each year, this unique race and sporting

challenge has a different theme. From

“Carnivals of the World” to this year’s theme


I didn’t run or even amble in the race. I didn’t

want to be humiliated by Carmen Miranda.

And I'm too old for a monokini. And I have a

feather allergy. I ran in the “Science Fiction”

theme race.

Le Marathon is a resolutely convivial run. It's a

good-time race.

"It's all about taking on liquid and making

friends," winked a RoboCop. He wagged a

finger. "But not too much wine!" A health

certificate (physical rather than mental) is

required to enter the race.

"It's hectare after hectare of

hospitality out there"

Photo © Yves Mainguy/AMCM

"It sums up l'esprit du Medoc" Jean-Yves

Saint-Céran of the PR department said as

we stood at the starting line in Pauillac,

beside the Gironde estuary.

"On this day we celebrate health, sport and

joie de vivre."

A Wookiee in shorts offered me a wine

cork to chew on. "To keep up my energy

levels," he explained.

Les Bouchons de Bordeaux are delicious

almond sweets made to look like wine

bottle corks.

"You should try and eat three corks a day

to keep the cramp away," a passing

Romulan smiled. "C'est l'Aquitaine way."

I limbered up among a sea of Ewoks. You

could tell the serious runners from the fun

runners. The elite runners weren't wearing

Batman suits or Superman capes. "It's

hectare after hectare of hospitality out

there. The friendliness is almost

unbearable," said a gentleman dressed as

a Borg.

I was surrounded by tentacles and green

faces, Timelords and Jedi. "This run's about

your tastebuds. Not your lungs and legs,"

said a Joker.

From start to finish, degustation stations, or

"les postes sauvages," offer local

specialties such as "grenier medocain"

(flattened paunch of pig) and Bayonne ham.

People hold out cheese to you as well as

ice cream cornets. Whereas most

spectators at marathons encourage you

with cries of "Keep it going" or "Allez!

Allez!" in Médoc they just say, "Paté?


At the time of the marathon, a roadside

sign of cow does not mean you are

approaching a cattle grid or crossing.

It means: "Warning! Complimentary

gourmet barbecued entrecôte steak ahead

washed down with a rather nice local rosé."

There are 29 wine tasting stops en route.

Local producers pitch tables by the

roadside to tempt you with their wonderful

wares. The Cap Ferret oyster stands were

my downfall and the sponge stations

offering the local "Lillet" fruit liqueur made

in Podensac.

Before I got to the "Vers St-Julien" signpost,

my face was the colour of Merlot and I felt I

had aged 20 years.

I started walking like Frankenstein within a

half a mile of the start. Not because of

cramp. But because of gout. I began to

hallucinate when four Godzillas bounded

past me pursued by Bilbo Biggins.

Fortunately, for a while I found myself in the

slipstream of R2-D2 and Willy Wonka. I

remember being passed by Dumbledore. Or

was it Gandalf? And a number of Buffies

and Brainiacs.

Then came real humiliation. When you are

overtaken by a Yoda in a pram, you know

your athletics career is over. Or never really

started. It was a pity. My training had gone

well. The roadwork had been put in. For three

months, I had gone to as many cheese and

wine parties as I could. I had miles of cheese

strips under my belt.

After a short nap among the vines, I followed

the smell of gastronomy back into Pauillac to

see the victor cross the line and win himself

roughly 80 bottles of wine - his body weight

in wine.

Every competitor gets a T-shirt, a knapsack

and, at my race, an optional handshake from

and photo opportunity with King Kong. A

Klingon appeared beside me and blurted out,

"Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!"

Photos © Yves Mainguy/AMCM

He bore his teeth, crinkled the frown lines on

his cheese-grater forehead and handed me a

post-race digestif.

"Today is a nice day to die!" Obi-Wan Kenobi

collapsed nearby. "Un vignoble effort, mon

ami," a voice said.

It came from the direction of Aslan. Although

it may have been Conan the Barbarian.

Or Gollum.

Only in France…

For further information:

Medoc Marathon takes place each

September, you can run or join a walking

route: www.marathondumedoc.com

If you want to register for next year's race:




Hotel Continental

A Soap story from


In 1688 Louis IV passed the Edict Of Colbert allowing the

use of Savon de Marseille label for olive oil soaps. By 1924

there were 132 soap makers, but by 1950 there was an

explosion of petrol-based soaps and the olive oil soaps went

out of fashion. Now there are just five savonneries who can

claim the true title Soap de Marseille and they have a

certification mark to prove it too – a small square soap block

with the Union des Professionals du Savon de Marseille

stated clearly on their packaging. Without that, the soap is

in effect – a fake. Judi Castille investigates...

Genuine Marseille soap is made by

artisans with the provenance, passion and

long-standing tradition in their blood to lay

claim to makers of genuine Marseilles

soap. A bar that contains 72% olive oil –

and once tried, you will always be loyal to

its soapy concoction.

Fer a Cheval, Marius Fabre, Savonnerie du

Midi, Le Serail and Pre de Provence

produce the ever popular green olive oil

soap bars. To earn the classification of

Marseille soap, it has to fulfil certain

criteria. It must be made in Marseille, in a

cauldron, have plant-based oils and be

fragrance free, no dyes, no preservatives.

Any chemicals, additives or mention of

allergens and you’ll just have an ordinary

soap. Many soap makers buy flaked soap,

soften the flakes through rollers and add

perfumes and colourants. The genuine

article is hard, homogenous. Its angular

imperfectness wears down slowly, the

special soapy lather lasts for about six

weeks even with daily use.

Using it for the first time was a revelation -

good for skin and for hair. My skin felt

clean, but not dry and it left my hair soft.

The area around Marseille provides all the

ingredients – olives, salt from the

Camargue and from the port, palm,

groundnut and whale oil to stabilize the

soap. Olive oil on its own produces a

sloppy soap, the other oils enable the soap

to clean, not break but still dissolve in

water. There's a five-step soap making

process and the genuine bars must have a

minimum olive oil content of 72%.

Using antique machinery, the soaps pass

through several stages. First there is

empatage, pasting all the ingredients

together in large cauldrons, like a witch’s

brew, until homogenous. The second stage,

cuisson et lavage, is the process of cooking

the soap and then washing out the salts. A

taste test is made, physically with the

tongue, and if too much “sting”, more water

is washed through. Washing removes

glycerol and fatty acids, leaving soap


Like boiled treacle, the soap is poured into

cooling vats to sit for 48 hours. It’s then

sliced into strips and put into miniature

blocks and cut using wire or traditional

soap cutting machines. The bars are then

stacked on wooden shelves to dry. They

range from 1000g to 100g blocks. For

Marius Fabre, Le Mistral wind passing

through the drying room allows the soaps

to dry slowly to avoid splitting. Their soaps

are cut and scraped to create a crisp edged

soap. The final touch is estampillage –

stamping the soaps with their trademark

names and proudly advertising the 72%

olive oil content. Marius Fabre hand stamp

their soaps before cutting. Le Serail use an

old stamping machine with four plates that

emboss and give the soap a softer shape

as the machine squeezes the soap in the

process. Once stamped, the soaps are

simply packaged, nothing fussy.

As with many artisan skills, it takes a long

apprenticeship to learn how to make soap.

Family run Marius Fabre was founded in

1900. Secrets kept and passed down the

generations. Le Serail was founded in 1949,

by Vincent Boetto. His grandson continues

the business. Producing soap is a passion

and not about time saving. It is the process

of creating, getting close to the product,

using your hands, the physicality of the

process that deems these soaps worthy of

their status. A commercial soap can be

made in just four hours, packed and

shipped within the day.

Marseille soap takes weeks, space is at a

premium, and because of this the price is

higher. But you will have an authentic

product and a supporting role in keeping

these traditions going and soft skin to boot.

Give A

Click here to

enter the draw

Win a copy of best selling food writer

Trish Deseine's lovely hard book of

recipes inspired by the Grand Epicerie

de Paris—the famous gourmet food

shop in the upscale Bon Marché

department store.

Trish shares her twist on both traditional

French classics and dishes with a

distinctly British flavour: from smoked

magret of duck to pear tarte tatin, and

from Welsh rarebit to Guinness cake.

Ever mindful of the home chef’s tight

schedule, the recipes—divided into

appetizers, soups, and salads; main and

side dishes; and desserts—are quick

and easy to prepare. . Each recipe is

accompanied by tips and a suggested

drink pairing.

Click here to enter the draw which

ends on October 18, 2018


Win a copy of Catherine de Courcy's tale

of the Cathars of France in the 13th


Click here to

enter the

History and drama fans will really enjoy

this terrific blend of fact and fiction.

Montségur is a novel that’s about bravery,

love, faith and passion. Catherine de

Courcy’s descriptive writing brings alive

the struggles faced by the Cathars every

day from the Roman church and the

inquisitors. The history of the high Middle

Ages has been integrated well into the

novel, using details of well researched,

documented historical figures, adding

depth to the saga. There are twists and

turns, details about the Cathar beliefs and

practices and about a dramatic period of

history in France that continues to

fascinate to this day.

Click here to enter the draw which ends

on November 10, 2018



Morag and Andrew Ashworth from Scotland fell in love with

Samoëns, an alpine town, famous for its skiing, in the Haute

Savoie. They have a rental holiday home, The Lodge, there

and tell us why this part of the French alps is the perfect place

for both winter and summer fun…

What makes Samoëns a really great

place for a summer holiday?

Beautiful landscapes with stunning

waterfalls and summer pastures, plus

there’s so much to do for all ages and

levels of fitness with activities from rafting

to parapenting to road and mountain

biking. It’s like living in a large playground!

The village is beautiful and authentic with

wonderful botanic gardens and lovely town


What makes Samoëns a really great

place for a ski break?

For beginners and learners, Samoëns 1600

offers an ideal base, with a nice variety of

green and blue runs to challenge you as

you progress, and a great kids area. The

rest of Samoëns, Morillon and Les Carroz

offer mainly intermediate skiing with fast

blues and red’s, although at the top of

Samoëns there are some tough blacks and

great off piste.

The “green” Marvel run in Morillon is often

portrayed as one of the world’s most

picturesque ski runs (after heavy snow fall

there’s nowhere prettier), and it’s a 4-5km

cruise down to Morillon 1100.

The Flaine bowl is one of the premier ski

areas in France and has a great snow

record due to the “Mont Blanc effect”. There

are views of Mont Blanc from Tete de Saix,

en route to Flaine, and from Flaines Les

Grandes Plantiers.

Samoëns is a historic town, with a traffic

free centre, the streets are full of gourmet

food shops providing mouth watering

locally made cheeses, bread, cakes and

produce. The weekly market is one of the

best in the region. It's a great place to visit

- year-round.

and across the top of sheer limestone cliffs,

eventually arriving in Sixt which is a small

ski area in its own right.

Ski season this year runs from Saturday,

December 15 to Monday, April 22, 2019.

Tell us about The Lodge

Flaine’s pistes are superb and there is

plenty of scope for off-piste skiing. There is

also an enormous variety of skiing.

The Serpentine piste is tremendous, a

favourite with ski instructors on their day

off, it is wide, fast and rolling. Lucifer lives

up to its name with unexpected

depressions interrupting your beautiful

carving. Diamiant Noir is a black off piste

couloir – definitely not for the faint hearted.

One of the most picturesque runs in Flaine

is Mephisto Superieure, with awesome

views across the Mont Blanc massive -

Mont Blanc is the big one in the middle!

From the top of Flaine you can also access

Cascades, this runs for 14km by waterfalls

The Lodge at Samoëns is an incredibly

beautiful and spacious chalet, which

comprises of contemporary split-level

living for families and groups in a luxury,

fully equipped home from home with

comfortable furnishings and a wood

burning stove. There are three south facing

balconies and the mountain views are

stunning, sitting out here, or lying on the

loungers just contemplating the majestic

scenery is a fabulous experience.

We benefit from Samoëns’ low-lying Alpine

climate - when it’s ski time up at Samoëns

1600, down in the town it can be 23°C! The

house is set in a large extremely private

garden with such amazing scenery it’s like

wandering through a photo album. We’ve

gone for cosy, comfy and stylish and there

are 5 bedrooms, loads of garage space and

storage – essential for all that ski


What is the winter season like in


Many people think the winter season is just

for downhill skiing but there’s so much

more on offer. We love to try cross country

skiing which is great for fitness and for the

incredible views from the top of the Col de

Joux plan; or traverse the valley by the river.

Tailor-made snowshoe adven-tures can be

organised and are a real escape from daily

life and a chance to discover utterly

magical, Narnia-like land-scapes.

Snowshoe walks make snowy winter terrain

accessible to anyone and everyone.

Whether you take a half or full day to

conquer a summit, stroll through the woods,

or build an igloo as a family, there’s an

excursion to suit your needs.

A very different après-ski experience can be

a snow shoe walk through snowy forests

with nothing but the moon and flickering

flame of your handheld torch to guide you,

enjoy the quiet, calm of the mountain after

dark as you make your way to Ludo’s

Yurts – traditional Mongolian roundhouses.

There you will enjoy a traditional meal in a

cosy, friendly environment.

Where to rent equipment

We tend to use Xtreme Glisses which is

efficiently run by Francois, who has a

fabulous team. It’s extremely close to the

Grand Massif Express Gondola, by the

roundabout near to the Bridge over the river.

As part of the ski rental package, you are

provided with overnight storage for your

skis and boots, this is a huge benefit as

there is no need to haul all of your gear

back to The Lodge. A good alternative is Jay

Sports Ski Loc which is a great ski shop

with rental, run by Thierry Jay. They have

three shops, two in the town and a third on

the Samoëns 1600 plateau.

Best places to eat out in Samoëns

Au Relais Septimontain: The food is great,

especially the Tartiflette but leave enough

room for their desserts, the crème brulee is


8 M des Monts: With husband in the

kitchen and wife running the show in the

restaurant, the whole experience is perfect.

Lovely local organic wines and products -

just make sure you leave room for a

gorgeous desert!

Best Mountain Restaurants

Lou Caboens: A lovely varied menu and

Cedric is the perfect host. Lou Caboens is a

sun trap and provides one of the best

terraces in the Grand Massif. This is also

one of the best places for après-ski.

The Igloo – Morillon: Wonderful outside

deck. It is situated at the top of the Bergin chair

lift or can be accessed via the Marvel piste.

They serve great food, the Pila is fabulous, it’s a

similar dish to Tartiflette.

Both restaurants open year round. A great

day out in summer is to take the lifts to

Morillon 1100 on to Igloo, take a hike before

lunch and after walk to Morillon 1100 (1.5-2


Best Village Bars

La Reposette: Great atmosphere, great food

and drink, great people and comfy vouches

by the fireplace, just a short drive from

Samoëns centre. It’s no wonder it’s so

popular with both tourists and locals alike –

it's the perfect après-ski meeting place.

Vin sur Vin: Marco’s wine bar is an ideal

little bar in summer and winter and a great

favourite with the locals. Enjoy a glass from

a vast selection of local and international

wines, accompanied by a plate of Italian

antipasti, snacks or a menu.

What are your must-see places in


Cirque Fer à Cheval: Walking past the

immense cliffs and imposing waterfalls of

the spectacular Cirque Fer à Cheval is

almost unreal it’s so beautiful. Continue all

the way to the back of the cirque and you

will find yourself at the end of the world (Le

Bout du Monde)! You can also enjoy a great

lunch in beautiful surroundings at the

Restaurant du Fer a Cheval.

The cirque is unique, a horseshoe of

limestone mountains rising to 3000m from

the valley floor with huge waterfalls

cascading down rock faces. Plenty of great

walking, from easy to extreme, all marked

clearly. The easy walks are along the valley

floor, although a favourite (but tougher

walk) is up to Chalet du Boret (only in

summer). Simple food at the chalet is a


The Botanic Garden: This alpine botanic

garden was created in 1906 by Marie-

Louise Cognacq-Jaÿ who founded La

Samaritaine department store in Paris. It is

an exceptional garden classified "Jardin

Remarquable". Carved out of the southfacing

side of the mountain, overlooking

the village, La Jaÿsinia covers an area of 3.7

hectares on steeply-sloping terrain (there is

a difference of 80 metres between the top

and the bottom of the garden). It is the only

botanic garden of its kind in the Alps, with

5000 varieties of mountain flowers from all

5 continents, as well as a laboratory where

wide-ranging research is carried out.

Walking the narrow path winding its way up

the mountainside passing waterfalls and

fountains before reaching the ruins of the

12th century Tornalta castle and a 13th

century chapel is a wonderful experience.

The higher you go, the more panoramic the

view of the small town below.


France’s Atlantic coastline offers

something for everyone, from Brittany’s

wild and rugged Finistère to the chic

beach towns around La Rochelle, to

surfing meccas around Biarritz. Liz

Rowlinson asks the experts at Leggett

Immobillier to pick five tempting places

for you to consider...

Starting in the north, where Brittany juts far

out into the Atlantic, the western coast of

France offers a diverse choice of seaside

towns. Whether the wild coastlines of

Brittany and the Vendée, the sandy beaches

of the Charente-Maritime, with chic resorts

beloved of the Paris set, or the forest and

dune-backed beaches of Aquitaine there’s

just about everything. At the southern end

things change again with the surfing spots of

the Basque coast and a Spanish flavour to

beach life.

Whether you're after an apartment in chi-chi

Biarritz, or a simple little granite cottage in

Brittany, there are homes to suit budgets

from €100,000 to €1 million.

Prices inevitably go up closer to the

coastline, wherever you are, but if you're

prepared to drive 10 minutes inland, you will

get more for your money. However, balance

this with the convenience of walking to the

beach or the seafront restaurants - if you

want to rent out your home these sort of

homes will usually be in greater demand.

Enjoy a tour down the Atlantic coast, starting

in northern Brittany...



A pretty little town located north of St. Brieuc

and south of the beautiful historic port of

Paimpol. As the name suggests, St. Quay is

all about the sea. It retains all the charm of a

Breton fishing port, with a very modern

deep-water 24-hour marina that is home to a

scallop fleet but also from where cruises can

be taken out into the Bay of St. Brieuc, a

sheltered stretch of water popular for

regattas. There are also lovely beaches, and

north of the town, hidden coves around the

highest cliffs in Brittany - the Pointe de

Plouha. In the town there are tennis courts,

shops, hotels, fish restaurants and


best of what Brittany has to offer - the clean

beaches, pretty coastline and harbour - and

buyers (including Parisians) that have a

slightly higher budget and are willing to pay

to be near a particularly pretty bit of coast,”

says Lisa Greene, head of Leggett’s Brittany

network. She says the mainly French buyers

tend to buy apartments in the town, rather

than houses outside. You’ll pay around

€150,000 for a one-bed apartment or

€190,000 for a two-bed compact house or

fisherman's cottage.

“This area appeals to people who like the



This charming fishing town is the most

westerly on the Crozon peninsula. It's a

beautifully rugged coastal area of towering

cliffs and rocks with coves and sandy

beaches, gently sloping hills, and ancient

megalithic sites. It's a wild and remote piece

of Brittany so you really need a car - and the

nearest ferry is Roscoff 96km away. But it’s

a favourite among French holiday makers

as well as visitors from across Europe who

come for the water sports - boating, sailing,

fishing - but also those in love with the outdoors.

Artists and writers also love the light and

colours, and the town has an artists' quarter

with over 20 galleries. In the town there’s a

great fishing port, marina, many fish

restaurants, crepéries and a sandy beach.

So what do people buy? “There are lots of

types of properties for sale in this region

from ruins to fancy modern villas, beautiful

character properties and everything in

between,” says local agent, Clara Bay.

Expect to pay €100,000 for a 50m2

apartment in the town, or for a threebedroom

house in the surrounding Crozon

area, from around €125,000.


Vendee, pays de la Loire

This popular modern seaside resort in the

northern Vendée is located at the corner of

the ‘Côte de Lumière’ between Notre-Damede-Monts

and St. Hilaire de Riez. It’s a

fantastic stretch of coastline blessed with

beautiful beaches and 2,300 hours of annual

sun, so little different from the climate of

southern France. Split in two by a long

plantation of pine trees, stretching from

north to south along the coast, the centreville

lies to the east of the cordon, while the

seafront forms a lively centre to the west.

The recently restored seafront offers a

network of footpaths and cycle tracks.




Whilst the pathways between the sea, sand

dunes and forest are great to explore by

foot, bicycle, rollerblade, horse or even by

sand-yacht, there are traditional nautical

activities and a superb golf course 300

metres from a 15km long sandy beach and

700-hectare forest with trails. The laid-back

town with such a choice of activities attracts

both retirees seeking a full-time base and

families seeking a second home. “Expect to

pay around €200,000 for a two-bedroom

home, €300,000 for a thatched-roof home in

the marshes or €450,000 for something

close to the sea, or with more prestige,”

says Anne-Sophie Gaultier, local agent.

Sitting in the hub of the sun-drenched Bay of

Biscay, the historic old port of La Rochelle

should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s

known as the sunniest town of the southwest

of France, and it's true, thanks to the

region’s microclimate.

This buzzy capital of Charente-Maritime is a

university town and yachting centre. It is a

great place for both relaxing, or exploring

this fantastic area.

“Choose between having a drink or a meal

in the historical old port or the market

square, wander the streets admiring the

many architectural styles or join in one of the

many local festivals,” suggests Elinor

Murless, local agent

For nature fans, a base around La Rochelle

is ideal to explore the marshlands of the

“green Venice of France” by flat-bottomed

boat, the Vendée’s long sandy beaches,or,

right on your doorstep, the chic summer

playground of Ile de Ré with its traditional

little villages. The beaches and many nature

reserves are only 15 minutes away. This

area attracts Parisians and French buyers

from other parts of the north but also golfers

- there are two good courses nearby, and

also international second-home owners.

Flights to La Rochelle serve 11 UK regions

whilst Poitiers and Bordeaux offer even

more flight options. You can get an

apartment in the old harbour with change

from €180,000, or a four-bedroom

townhouse from €530,000. Buyers can get

better value looking a little inland, or further

down the coast - 20 minutes from La

Rochelle, in Yves, and very close to the

popular seaside resort of Chatelaillon-Plage,

its possible to find properties that are

cheaper than in La Rochelle.




The Basque surfing town of Biarritz oozes

glamour, ever since Coco Chanel created

her first fashion show there. Located near

the Spanish border, Biarritz sits on one of

the best stretches of surfing beaches in

Europe - but there’s so much more too. The

narrow streets of the former spa town are full

of pretty shops and superb restaurants, then

there’s the famous art-deco casino on the

Grande Plage where grand palatial hotels

remind us of its illustrious history - it was a

favourite haunt of various European royals -

but there are also fashionable nightclubs

that draw top DJs. If putting is more your

thing than partying, there are also ten golf

courses within 50km.

But Biarritz is an excellent base for exploring

the Pays Basque, from its beautiful beaches

to the inland landscape of green and

wooded hills and mountains, and with

property prices relatively high in the town

itself, many buyers may opt to be

somewhere accessible, says local agent

Mathilde de St. Martin. It’s a highly

cosmopolitan resort that is very fashionable

with the French but also famous globally.

“You can expect to pay €300,000 for a 50m2

property with a nice view - even a studio

apartment will be at least €130,000,” she

says. Many British buyers prefer to go inland

20 minutes where they find that the prices

plunge to €3,000 per m2.


The Experts guide to

French Insurance

French Home and Contents


Protecting your property, whether it’s a

secondary home, main home or rented out

on a short term, holiday or long term basis,

is vital for peace of mind and also includes

something very important: Public liability


What is Public liability cover?

Public liability cover is included in your

Home and Contents insurance with many

insurers. As a rule the cover is against a

claim for damage caused by the

policyholder to a third party or their


As mentioned above the level of cover

varies according to the type of property

being insured. For example the level of

cover offered on a second home covers

damage caused by the property to a third

party. Cover for a main home extends to

damages caused by the policyholder or a

member of their family to a third party.

For a property you may be renting out for

short holiday periods Public Liability would

continue as long as those staying at the

property were there no longer than 3

consecutive months. For a longer term the

tenant would need to subscribe to their own

Public Liability policy.

Levels of cover

When choosing the level of cover for your

property make sure you have the basics

included such as storm, hail, snow, fire and

water damage to mention a few. You may

then want to add other options depending

on the use of your property to your

insurance such as a swimming pool pack,

garden furniture pack or gîte cover if you run

this type of business. Don’t forget if you do

have a gite talk to your Mairie to make sure

you are registered correctly as if not even if

you are insured for your gite the insurance

will not cover you in the event of a claim.

Make sure you have measured all your

rooms as well as outbuildings correctly

when setting up your cover as in the event

of a claim this is the type of element that is

very important if a pay out is made.

If you build an extension or change the use

of one of your rooms think about calling the

insurer or CA Britline if the insurance is set

up with us, and check that the changes are

reflected in your policy.

French Vehicle Cover

If your residence in France is your main

home the chances are you will have at least

one car. Whether you have opted to bring

your right hand drive car over with you or

have purchased a left-hand drive, insurance

is obligatory.

If your vehicle is on UK number plates, visit

your nearest prefecture to find out the

process of changing to French plates. The

process varies in the amount of time it takes

depending on the make, model, age and

country of origin of your vehicle. During this

process your vehicle must be insured. Some

UK insurers, if you have just moved over to

France, may allow the insurance to continue

for a set amount of time. If not, when taking

out a French insurance policy make sure the

insurer knows you are in the process of

changing registration and find out how long

they will insure you for whilst you are still on

your English plates.

If your residence in France is a holiday

home and you have your car in the garage

back home in the UK, do not make the

mistake of thinking if it’s locked away and

not in use no insurance is needed. For

public liability purposes, the car must remain

insured so you might want to change the

level of insurance so a minimum level of

cover is still in place.

Car cover is very similar in France to what's

provided in the UK. You will find ‘Third Party

only’, ‘Third Party Fire and Theft’ and ‘Fully

Comp’ equivalents along with a range of

extras and options that can be included. Via

CA Britline the basics of driver protection,

public liability and legal assistance are

included within each type of cover. Other

options such as Homestart breakdown

cover, glass damage and zero excess

amongst others can also be set up at the

outset or during the life of the contract.

You may also have other types of vehicles

at you property you wish to cover. Ride on

lawn mowers, scooters, motorbikes and

boats can all be catered for to keep all

insurances under one roof.

Legal Protection Cover

If you are resident on a permanent basis in

France Legal Protection is an inexpensive

insurance cover giving you access to a team

of French legal experts in the event of

private, consumer and labour disputes.

Some Home and Contents policies may

have limited Legal Protection cover included

however if you wish to have complete cover

a stand-alone contract is the best option. If

you're a UK resident, in some cases the

cover can be taken out, however it will apply

strictly to French litigation only.

Health Cover: Holidays in

France /Residing at your

Secondary residence

It is very important to apply for an EHIC card

before you leave for your holidays abroad

whether travelling to France or another

European country. The card covers you up

to 90 consecutive days for any medical

treatment you may need when away. If you

pay for any treatment, keep your receipts

and proofs of treatment for a reclaim on your

return home. For more information, to apply

for or renew an EHIC card consult the NHS


Health Cover: French Residents

Once resident in France you will need to

contact your local CPAM: Caisse Primaire

d’Assurance Maladie to find out if you will

automatically be covered by the French

social security system for a certain percentage

of your medical costs. If you are

covered you will be provided with an attestation

and then a Carte Vitale, which you

have to present at all medical appointments,

hospitals and chemists. You may

wish to take out Top-Up Health insurance to

cover the costs not reimbursed by CPAM.

Depending on your needs, age and budget

you will find a Top-Up cover to suit you.

If you find out you are not covered by the

CPAM you may need 100% Private Health

cover. This can be obtained through CA

Britline as is the case for Top-Up cover.

How to choose the

right adviser...

for you

Did you know that there are different type of financial advisers?

When you search for a financial adviser, how can you be assured that they are

right for you? In principle there are three categories of adviser:

Tied – Restricted - Independent

Tied Advisers:

In France there are insurance company

agents working almost in every town - they

typically represent just one company, AXA

for example. They will offer you only the

products of that company and will be limited

to “French only” products. They are unlikely

to have a specialisation in UK or international

pensions or investments. Typically,

any product will only be in euros rather than

a choice of currency. The person you deal

with is known as a ‘courtier’ or a broker,

they are usually trained in knowing only

their products and will ‘sell’ those they think

are appropriate for you. They don’t

generally look at other areas of financial


You certainly need a French bank account

when you are living in France and products

like a Livret “A” can be useful for your liquid

cash - up to certain limits. But, you may

wish not to tie yourself into products or

accounts that might have a limited

investment selection or which do not work in

other countries outside of France.

Some savings vehicles the UK has such as

ISAs are not available in France, similarly

there are French savings and bank products

that are not available outside of France.

These companies - whether banks or

insurance companies may offer a limited

range of investments and savings and funds

and some may be tied to just one company.

Restricted Advisers:

A restricted adviser is limited as to who and

what they recommend. In the case of the

popular (and essential in good investment

and tax planning in France) Assurance Vie

investments for example, they may only

offer one or two alternatives as well as a

limited range of investment funds for you to

invest in.

There may be charges for this type of

product and there could be restrictions on

how much you can withdraw in the early

years, thereby limiting your flexibility.

There is of course nothing wrong with this,

but you may be ‘limiting’ your advice and

missing out on a wider market approach

and a significant range of investments and

investment companies which ultimately

may be more suitable for you.

These advisers may not have the

experience or opportunity to look at other

areas for financial planning for you.

Independent Advisers:

This is an adviser who can offer you advice

rather than product placement. Known as a

‘conseiller’ in France. They are highly

trained and will not ‘sell’ you anything.

Independent advisers aim to plan and

collect information on all of your financial

assets and provide a full report across

areas such as inheritance/estate planning,

pensions and investment.

They will search the whole marketplace for

a product that is appropriate for you and

consider your needs and wishes to achieve

the best outcome.

In France this can mean for instance that

you will have a choice of a number of

assurance vie products, a portfolio can be

tailored to your specific needs and

requirements and you are not limited to any

particular Assurance Vie product.

Everyone’s needs are slightly different - you

might be moving across different countries

in Europe or moving to Europe from another

jurisdiction. Having an adviser who

understands your needs may be fluid, can

certainly be an advantage.

On the investment side, you will have

access to a wide selection of funds, tailored

to your aims and your individual risk profiles.

An independent advisor should meet with

you regularly to ensure your choices are the

best for any given time.

This also applies to your pension investments

where you don’t have a “one size fits

all solution“.

Every client’s needs are individual and

family/personal financial requirements are

personal to that individual.

When you’re searching for an adviser, look

for flexibility in approach, independence in

selecting providers and in your investment



Given the choice, you might have to pay a

little more for a highly trained independent

adviser, but you will get good service,

regular contact and may have far better

value for money in the long run.



The financial advisers trading under Beacon

Wealth Management are members of Nexus

Global (IFA Network). Nexus Global is a

division within Blacktower Financial

Management (International) Limited (BFMI).

All approved individual members of Nexus

Global are Appointed Representatives of BFMI.

BFMI is licensed and regulated by the

Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and

bound by their rules under licence number


And the information on these pages is

intended as an introduction only and is not

designed to offer solutions or advice. Beacon

Global Wealth Management can accept no

responsibility whatsoever for losses incurred

by acting on the information on these pages.

y P





Clafoutis is one of the most versatile French desserts and finds its origins in the Limousin,

a lush, green region situated in the heart of the Massif Central. If you’ve never made or

tasted clafoutis before, think of it as a ‘custardy’ type of cake. It doesn’t call for that much

flour, so there isn’t much of a crumb to the dessert. I guess you can also compare it to a

crustless quiche.

Besides the original cherry clafoutis, I have made clafoutis with strawberries, blueberries,

plums, apricots and even vegetables for a savoury variation (perfect for lunch with a

green salad) and a glass of wine. This autumnal variation calls for apples. For a tart

touch, I added a small handful of plump blackberries.

Apple and



Serves 4-6


400g apples (I used Granny Smith)

125g blackberries

250g crème fraîche

50ml whole milk

Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

3 eggs

100g all-purpose flour

60g fine sugar

1 tbsp brown rum

Powdered sugar, to serve


aola Westbeek

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a

rectangular baking dish of approx. 26 x 18.5cm

with butter. Peel, core and chop the apples.

Spread them over the baking dish together with

the blackberries. In a large bowl, whisk the crème

fraîche, milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk

the eggs, flour, sugar and rum. Add this mixture

to the cream, eggs and vanilla and whisk well.

Pour the custard over the fruit and bake the

clafoutis for 35-40 minutes. Delicious warm or

cold. You can dust it with powdered sugar or

serve with ice cream for a more decadent


Paola Westbeek is a food, wine and travel

journalist. For more of her recipes, visit

ladoucevie.eu, thefrenchlife.org and her

YouTube channel, LaDouceVieFood

In 1896, legend has it that a

dropped alcohol on hot panc

he served them anyway and

dessert, the wily Chef said h

however, asked that the nam

name was Suzette.

Others attribute the creation

Henri Charpentier served as

the ingredients are somewh

Grand Marnier but Curacao

The mystery could end there

dessert for Suzanne Reiche

Nobody will ever truly know

Crèpes Suzette

young pastry chef called Henri Charpentier, working at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo,

akes he was preparing for the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII. Unable to salvage them,

luckily for him, the dish was a great success. When the prince asked him the name of this

e had invented it especially for the Prince and would call the pancake after him. The Prince

e of the young woman who was dining with him be given the honour. And you guessed it: her

of crepes Suzette to the legendary Auguste Escoffier, creator of the Peach Melba, under whom

an apprentice. The recipe is even included in Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire, released in 1903. But

at different: the orange juice is replaced with mandarin juice and doesn’t mention the classic


, but some stories also mention Joseph Marivaux, a restaurant owner in Paris who invented the

nberg, an actress at the French Comedy, whose stage name was Suzette.

for sure the origin of this dish, but one thing that never changes – the delight is in the tasting!

See over page for recipe

Crèpes Suzette

Ingredients for 8-12 crêpes (I serve 2 per person)

120 grams of flour

1 heaped teaspoon of sugar

a pinch of salt

33 cl of milk

3 eggs


1 untreated orange, with peel

1/4 cup of sugar

10 cl of Cognac

20 cl of Grand Marnier

25 grams of butter


Mix with beaters the following ingredients: flour, sugar a big pinch of salt, milk and the 3

eggs. The batter needs to be quite liquid to get nice thin crepes.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a crèpe pan and when heated pour out the excess. (you may

need to slightly re-oil the pan after a few crèpes). Evenly spread a very thin layer of batter

in pan. When slightly browned on one side, turn over and then take out quickly as you do

not want crèpes to become crispy. Stack them on a plate.


Slice orange peel very thinly, using only the orange part of the peel (the white part is not


In a pan, put orange peel, butter, sugar, orange juice, 10 cl of cognac and 10 cl of Grand

Marnier. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 30 minutes. The alcohol will evaporate

and it will become syrupy.

Dip each crèpe into orange syrup and turn to coat each side. Fold into quarters and place

in a serving dish that you can keep warm in oven.

When ready to serve pour the remaining sauce (hot) over crèpes. Then heat the other 10 cl

of Grand Marnier in a pan, pour over crèpes and light with a match to flambé them in front

of your guests. This is nice plated and served with a scoop of vanilla icecream

Recipe by Mary Pochez, at La Vie du Château, all inclusive culinary holidays in an

18th century chateau in the Pays de la Loir, France

Onion-Tomato Jam

Ingredients (makes about 2 cups)

2 cups red or yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 pounds plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 tsp good quality olive oil

2 TBS lemon juice

1/2 cup honey

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp smoked paprika

Warm the olive oil in a small pot over medium/high heat and

then add the onions, shallots, and salt. Use a wooden spoon

to throughly coat the onions and shallots with oil and turn the

flame down to low. Let the mixture soften for about 10

minutes and then caramelize for another 15-20 minutes,

stirring often. Transfer the onion mixture to a large pot and

add the tomatoes, lemon juice, honey, ground pepper and

smoked paprika. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 40-50

minutes, stirring often, until the mixture has reduced and is

translucent and thickened to a jammy texture with very little

liquid. Jam may be prepared up to 2 days in advance. You

will have more than needed for the tart so consider freezing

half and saving it for another time.

Recipes by Martine Bertin-Peterson at

Gout et Voyage, Gourmet Tours of Provence.

Ratatouille Tart

Ingredients (serve 4 as a main course, 6 as a


1/2 -3/4 cup of onion-tomato jam

Pâte brisé for a 9” tart or pre-packaged pie dough

1 small eggplant, skin on & sliced into 1/4 inch thick


1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds

1 medium yellow squash, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds

2-3 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds

2 roasted red or yellow peppers, sliced into thin strips

Pre-heat the oven to 425 F. (215 C.) Place the pâte

brisé or pie dough in a 9” deep dish pie pan, prick

the bottom in several spots and bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 400 F (200 C.) When

the tart shell has cooled slightly, spread the oniontomato

jam evenly on the bottom. Create circles and

layers of zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and

tomato, sprinkling 1/2 of the fresh oregano and

seasoning with salt and pepper between layers. Add

the roasted pepper strips to the top layer. Bake for

25 minutes, uncovered and then cover with

aluminum foil for another 20 minutes. Remove the

tart from the oven and sprinkle with crumbled goat

cheese and remaining fresh oregano. Serve hot or

allow to cool to room temperature.

Serve with a crusty peasant loaf or baguette and a

chilled rose or crisp white wine. Refrigerate any


Poulet - Roti

Serves 4

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: about 1 1/2 hours


2–3 cups roughly chopped assorted root

vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes)

2 medium (12 oz/350 g total) yellow onions,

thickly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small lemons, grate the zest of one and

use both for the chicken

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 whole chicken (3 lb/1.5 kg)

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but smashed

A few sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 cup (57 g) salted butter, at room


1–2 teaspoons dried Herbes de Provence or

dried thyme

Freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup (57 g) salted butter, melted

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but smashed

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C).

2. Scatter the chopped vegetables in a roasting pan with the olive oil.

Add the lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper to the vegetables and, using your hands, mix

until all the vegetables are coated. Make sure the vegetables are sitting evenly on the

bottom of the roasting pan.

3. Pat the cavity of the bird dry using a paper towel.

4. Cut both the lemons in quarters and place them in the cavity of the bird with the

smashed garlic and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. If all the lemon quarters don’t fit, you can

pop them in the pan with the vegetables, just don’t forget to take them out when you are

serving the chicken.

5. Cut about half of the butter into small pieces and place them under the skin of the bird.

To do this, start at the cavity end of the chicken and slide one or two fingers between the

meat and the skin. Work slowly, separating the skin from the meat as far as you can reach.

Squish the butter pieces slightly and fit them under the skin as best you can.

6. Spread the remainder of the butter over the outside of the skin. The easiest way to do

this is with your hands. Season the bird with the Herbes de Provence or dried thyme and a

touch of pepper.

7. Place the bird directly on the vegetables in the roasting pan and place in the oven for 20

minutes, until the skin starts to brown nicely.

To smash a garlic clove, place it on a cutting board and place a large knife that's wider than the

garlic clove flat on top of the garlic with the blade facing away from you. Press down hard until the

garlic clove splits. Voila! you've smashed it. This is also an easy way to peel garlic

8. Add the smashed garlic to the melted butter

and place this over very low heat on the

stovetop. You will use this to baste the chicken

while it’s roasting.

9. Turn down the oven to 400˚F (200˚C) and

roast the chicken for 60 to 70 minutes more, or

until a meat thermometer inserted into the high

part of the thigh registers 165˚F (74˚C). Normally

you can count on about 20 minutes’ cook time

per pound (454 g) of chicken but to be absolutely

sure, a meat thermometer is the way to go!


Kids might be squeamish about

touching raw chicken (especially when

it comes to placing the lemons, garlic

and herbs in the cavity and the butter

under and over the skin). The more

they see you doing tasks like this,

though, the more normal (and less

gruesome) it will appear. In the

meantime, get them busy chopping the

vegetables and mixing in the oil and

seasoning in the roasting pan.

10. While the bird is cooking, baste it every 20

minutes or so with the melted butter and

smashed garlic. This will season the bird even


11. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from

the oven (leave the vegetables in the roasting

pan), place it on a cutting board (preferably one

that has a drain ridge to catch any juices), cover

it loosely with aluminium foil and allow it to rest

for about 10 minutes before you carve it.

12. Give the vegetables a good stir and place the

roasting pan back in the oven until you are ready

to serve the meal. If the vegetables are not

crispy enough, you can set the broiler to high

(around 400˚F/200˚C, if your broiler has a

temperature display) and broil them for about 5

minutes but do keep an eye on them as they

might burn.

In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes

for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy by Mardi

Michels. From the prolific blogger behind eat. live. travel.

write comes a new cookbook for parents, children and

Francophiles of all ages. Fuss free, simple, delicious

French dishes with Mardi Michels as your guide. From

savory dishes like Omelettes, Croque-Monsieurs or

Steak Frites to sweet treats like Profiteroles, Madeleines

or Crème Brûlée, readers will find many French classics

here. With helpful timetables to plan out baking projects,

and tips on how to get kids involved in cooking, this book

breaks down any preconceived notion that French

cuisine is too fancy or too difficult for kids to master. With

Mardi's warm, empowering and encouraging instructions,

kids of all ages will be begging to help out in the kitchen

every day of the week.

My Good Life in France....

This year’s summer was extraordinary in the far north of France, pas-de-

Calais. In the south I’ve heard my region referred to as “the north pole of

France” – but not this year. We had a late sunny spring which turned into an

early sunny summer. While the rest of France suffered from rain and storms,

the tip of France basked in record heatwaves. It was so nice, we even took

our coats off! Seriously, this year, the north was the new south.

Every day on my walks with my three dogs, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Bruno and

Churchill, through the village, the main topic of conversation was the

weather. I’d learned long ago not to respond with “je suis chaud” which

literally means I’m hot but is taken to mean “I’m sexy”, you have to say “J’ai

chaud”. Mostly people said “it’s too hot to work” watching us render the

walls, paint shutters (one day it was so hot the paint bubbled as I applied it),

lay tons of gravel and replace the roofs on two outbuildings.

We finished just in time to join in the end of summer harvest party at the

Town Hall. Called a ducasse, this sort of party has been held for centuries in

small rural villages. Whole familes attend these events from babies in

pushchairs to wizzened and bent over ancient great-grandparents.

We were told to be there for 7.30pm. The wine was flowing and it meant

there was lots of time for welcome-to-the-party-kisses-on-cheeks and lots

of chat so that everyone was ready when the starters arrived just after 10pm.

The DJ-with-a-muffly-voice (he does all the local parties and no one can

understand a word he says) played lots of Johnny Halliday music which got

everyone up dancing and waving their arms in the air. Well everyone except

the tables nearest the doors, they were taken by the village oldies, mamies

and papies in their 80's and 90's who wouldn't miss this annual event for

anything, for some of them it's the 97th party they've attended! They left by

midnight but the rest of us partied on until well into the next day.

The morning after the night before, the village returned to its usual trainquil

and silent self, save for the wild birds gathering in hordes in the trees getting

ready to take off as fall approaches.

Welcome to autumn...

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