Issue No. 18

Inspiring and insightful features, stunning photographs and brilliant reporting on French travel, culture, gastronomy, life in France and a whole lot more...

Inspiring and insightful features, stunning photographs and brilliant reporting on French travel, culture, gastronomy, life in France and a whole lot more...

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Bonjour!<br />

Welcome to the Spring issue of The Good Life France Magazine.<br />

Provence lovers are in for a treat as we reveal the top ten visits from gorgeous<br />

towns to the best bike rides and a whole lot more.<br />

Spend Le Weekend is stunning Sarlat, when you arrive in the old town it's almost<br />

like you've stepped through a time tunnel to the past. Old buildings, cobbled<br />

streets and an air of timelessness make this pickled in the past town one of the<br />

most special in France. Take the train to Champagne in our Du Pain, Du Vin, Du<br />

Train feature and make tracks not just for the effervescent towns of Reims and<br />

Epernay but some of the smaller villages en route.<br />

Paris, Aveyron and lovely Lille are featured and we take a look at the best tours<br />

for 20<strong>18</strong> from luxury car and wine tours to authentic <strong>No</strong>rmandy, Provence,<br />

Alsace and more tours.<br />

Cake recipes you'll love, useful guides and a whole lot more await, so enjoy a<br />

great read, there are lots of links to more information, the joy of a digital<br />

magazine!<br />

If you like The Good Life France Magazine, please feel free to pass the details on<br />

to your friends and family - it's always good to share nice things right?<br />

Bisous from France,<br />


contributors<br />

Antoine Collas is a marketing specialist and entrepreneur who<br />

runs Instagram agency HapTagmedia.com. He's also a brilliant<br />

photographer who loves to capture images of his home town<br />

Paris and is our valued guest photographer for this issue.<br />

Michael Cranmer is an award-winning freelance travel writer<br />

and photographer. He spends most of the winter up<br />

mountains writing about his primary passion - skiing, but also<br />

manages to sample less strenuous outings.<br />

Lucy Pitts is a copy writer who runs www.stroodcopy.com.<br />

She's also Deputy Editor of The Good Life France Magazine.<br />

She divides her time between the UK and France where she<br />

has a home in the the Vendée area, known as the Green<br />

Venice of France.<br />

Paola Westbeek is a food journalist with an absolute passion<br />

for French cuisine and wine. She loves creating delicious<br />

recipes with joie de vivre. You'll find her at ladoucevie.eu and<br />

on YouTube at La Douce Vie Food Channel and more of her<br />

fabulous recipes at The French Life<br />

Editor: Janine Marsh contact editor (at) the goodlifefrance.com<br />

Deputy Editor: Lucy Pitts<br />

Assistant: Sandra Davis<br />

Advertising: sales (at) thegoodlifefrance.com<br />

Digital support: Umbrella Web Solutions<br />

Artistic support: Kumiko at KumikoChesworth.myportfolio.com<br />

Front Cover image: Antoine Collas

contents<br />

Features<br />

8 Provence - ten of the best<br />

places to visit<br />

Local expert and expat Emily Durand<br />

shares her top ten in lovely Provence -<br />

simply irresistible.<br />

24 Lovely Lille<br />

Discover culture and charm by the bucket<br />

load in the northern city.<br />

32 Destination<br />

Gastronomique<br />

The little hilltop town of Montreuil-sur-Mer<br />

in the far north is a foodie's delight.<br />

36 du pain, du vin, du train to<br />

Champagne<br />

Just 45 minutes from Paris, Reims the<br />

capital of Champagne awaits. Take the<br />

"bubbles line" for effervescent fun.<br />

44 Aveyron & millau<br />

Lucy Pitts discovers the beauty of<br />

mysterious Aveyron.<br />

54 le weekend in... sarlat<br />

Step back in time and find a pickled in the

Features continued<br />

60 postcard from paris<br />

Guest photographer Antoine Collas reveals<br />

his favourite places in Paris.<br />

64 10 brilliant tours in 20<strong>18</strong><br />

Luxurious, authentic and truly special tours<br />

in France.<br />

70 skiing in the french<br />

cottian alps<br />

Michael Cranmer visits a little known part<br />

of the French Alps and finds ski paradise.<br />

Regular<br />

68 your photos<br />

The most popular photos shared by our<br />

lovely readers on the TGLF Facebook page.<br />

92 DIrectory of services<br />

94 My Good Life in France<br />

The sometimes strange French laws that<br />

make me think I'll never really get France.

Expats<br />

76 La Belle Vie<br />

Joanna Leggett talks about life in France<br />

and how to fit in.<br />

80 Introducing OFX<br />

We've teamed up with the award winning<br />

foreign exchange agency to help you<br />

manage your currency needs effectively.<br />

83 How expats can benefit<br />

from finanical advice<br />

Jennie Poate walks you through how to<br />

avoid a taxing time in France<br />

Gastronomy<br />

86 FInanciers<br />

Mardi Michaels' recipe for the classic little<br />

French cakes is simple and delish.<br />

88 NOnettes<br />

Paola Westbeek's recipe for the "little<br />

Nuns" is a winner!

Ten of the best visits<br />

in Provence

It’s impossible to spend just one week in Provence and think you’ve<br />

experienced it fully, but what if you only have a week? Emily Durand<br />

of Your Private Provence has created a one-week itinerary taking in ten<br />

of the most iconic and beautiful towns and locations in Provence...

The region of Provence is vast,<br />

stretching from the border of Italy<br />

and the Mediterranean Sea to the<br />

Rhone.<br />

It’s a region that is famous for its<br />

diverse landscapes, from the Alps<br />

and lush plains of the Camargue to<br />

the vibrant lavender fields, olive<br />

groves and rolling vineyards of the<br />

Luberon where the landscape is<br />

ever changing according to the<br />

seasons. The history, particular to<br />

each region and town, transcends<br />

centuries, millennia even. The<br />

Greeks, the Romans, 19th-century<br />

modernization, the scars of World<br />

War II, the mysterious legends and<br />

local heroes provide you with<br />

secrets and stories that bring to life<br />

the past.

In 1309, Pope Clement V, former<br />

Archbishop of Bordeaux, relocated the<br />

papacy to the town of Avignon where it<br />

remained until 1376 when it returned to<br />

Rome. Châteauneuf-du-Pape literally<br />

translates to "The Pope's new castle"<br />

as it was the location of the summer<br />

residence of Popes in France. They had<br />

vines planted there and to this day the<br />

55 vineyards in the area produce some<br />

of the finest wines.<br />

Read about the Palais des Papes here<br />

1<br />

Chateauneuf-du-Pape – a historic wine region<br />

Exploring the landscapes lining the Rhone<br />

River takes you back to a time before the<br />

Romans arrived, when the Greeks<br />

established trading posts and vineyards<br />

along the banks.<br />

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the perfect place to<br />

start your exploration of the renowned<br />

vineyards of Provence.<br />

Take a leisurely walk in a sea of rolling hills<br />

lined with vines as a wine grower explains<br />

the secrets of making wine, both past and<br />

present. Taste wine in an ancient cellar and<br />

buy a bottle to enjoy with your gourmet<br />

picnic in the vineyard. You don’t have to be<br />

a knowledgeable wine connoisseur to<br />

appreciate your day in Chateauneuf-du-<br />

Pape - the stories go beyond the wine.<br />

Be sure to explore the area 30 minutes east<br />

of Chateauneuf-du-Pape for other cru wines<br />

and discover charming villages such as<br />

Seguret, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes<br />

de Venise.

2<br />

Venasque – one of the most beautiful villages<br />

In Provence there are eight villages officially<br />

classified as “Most Beautiful Villages of<br />

France”: Lourmarin, Ansouis, Gordes,<br />

Menerbes, Roussillon, Seguret, Venasque<br />

and Les Baux de Provence. This standard is<br />

obtained only if the village meets the<br />

stringent requirements laid out by the<br />

association.<br />

Venasque often seems to be overlooked by<br />

visitors to Provence. Perhaps it’s because<br />

of its location, perched high on a steep ridge<br />

and tucked away on the other side of the<br />

canyon from its rival gorgeous Gordes. The<br />

unique treasures in this tiny village set up<br />

high on a crag, where it almost feels as if<br />

you’re on a ship that has set-sail, are<br />

endless. Perhaps your favourite will be the<br />

“Place de la Fontaine” where you can<br />

marvel at the beautiful fountain with its cast<br />

iron masks spewing water.

To meet Plus Beaux Villages<br />

classification, there's a raft of<br />

criteria to be met, including that<br />

a town must not have more<br />

than 2000 inhabitants and have<br />

at least two protected sites or<br />

monuments and of course,<br />

must be outstandingly beautiful.<br />

Just 154 villages in the whole<br />

of France make the coveted list<br />

of officially prettiest villages of<br />

France<br />

It’s amazing to think that villagers still fetched<br />

water from here until 1960, when finally running<br />

water reached the village homes!<br />

Or your highlight might be the story behind a<br />

painting in the church that the village had to fight<br />

to get back from the Louvre. The 6th-century<br />

baptistery and the “capital of cherries” are two<br />

more reasons why Venasque is a top place to<br />

visit in Provence.

3 Gordes<br />

- the heart of Provence<br />

If there is one place on the bucket list of<br />

most visitors to Provence, it has to be<br />

Gordes. It’s almost like going to Paris and<br />

seeing the Eiffel Tour, it is the iconic<br />

Provencal village.<br />

The best way for your first experience of<br />

Gordes is from afar at the lookout point,<br />

because once you are in the village, your<br />

perspective is completely different, and you<br />

simply can’t appreciate the grandeur upon<br />

which you stand.<br />

Exploring the nooks and crannies and<br />

hidden secrets of this picturesque hill top<br />

town will enchant you. Cobblestone streets,<br />

a majestic 16th century chateau and mellow,<br />

yellow stoned houses make this the town<br />

the poster boy for Provence.<br />

Take time to view the lower fountain where<br />

400 shoemakers worked until the 19th<br />

century, when an earthquake deviated the<br />

underground water sources and ruined their<br />

businesses. Go underground and discover<br />

the Caves of Saint Firmin where dedication<br />

and hard work by a local family unveiled<br />

silos, vats and an olive mill - 7 floors under<br />

the main house!<br />

The environs of Gordes are truly marvellous,<br />

such as the Cistercian architecture of the<br />

Abbey de Senanque where the monks<br />

harvest lavender from the fields that<br />

surround it. Relax in the dry-stone huts,<br />

known as bories, that pepper the landscape<br />

and offer respite from the sun for those who<br />

choose to hike one of the many glorious<br />


4<br />

Cassis<br />

- The fishing village<br />

“Charlemagne’s Crown” is to be found in<br />

captivating Cassis - the coronet shaped cliff<br />

hovers over the harbour offering protection.<br />

The coloured facades and wooden fishing<br />

boats bobbing on the turquoise waters of<br />

the Mediterranean Sea are like the jewels in<br />

the crown. With this spectacular setting<br />

before you while you indulge in heavenly<br />

Bouillabaisse, you will understand the words<br />

of the 19th century writer Frederic Mistral<br />

“He who has seen Paris and who has not<br />

seen Cassis, has seen nothing at all!”<br />

The white wine from Cassis is considered a<br />

cru (the best) and was one of the first to be<br />

classified as AOP (Protected Appellation<br />

Origin). For perfect relaxation, sit at a café<br />

sipping white wine and then relax on the<br />

beach. Cassis has many benches for<br />

wanderers to rest, so if you didn't bring your<br />

swimsuit, you can still chill and watch the<br />

world go by.<br />

The morning market is on Wednesdays and<br />

Saturdays and if you stay overnight, wake<br />

up early to see the fisherman arrive to sell<br />

their catch of the day. A drive up to the top<br />

of Cap Canaille, the highest coastal cliff in<br />

France - and one of the highest in Europe, is<br />

one more highlight you won't want to miss:<br />

you’ll have the most spectacular view of the<br />

Mediterranean coastline.

Photo: Tim Prosser<br />

5<br />

Goult to Roussillon - the best ride ever!<br />

The real charm of Provence is that there is<br />

so much more to it than picturesque<br />

villages. Cave dwellings, dry-stone huts,<br />

prehistoric vestiges, natural wonders and<br />

hidden chapels are all a part of the<br />

discovery.<br />

The next best thing about Provence is that<br />

you can choose the way you want to<br />

discover. By bike, by foot, by classic 2CV or<br />

even by scooter, Provence caters to every<br />

type of wanderer. One of the best routes for<br />

a casual bike ride is from Goult to<br />

Roussillon passing through Joucas and the<br />

winery Chateau Blanc.<br />

Stop to take a walking tour of Roussillon one<br />

of the most popular villages in the Luberon.<br />

The views over the rugged rocks, plenty of<br />

pretty cafés, quirky boutiques and 15 art<br />

galleries are a magnet for tourists.<br />

Afterwards carry on your ride down the hill to<br />

the Roman-built bridge, Le Pont Julien. This<br />

area is home to the world’s largest ochre<br />

deposit and the hues of red and orange<br />

contrasted with the green vines and<br />

Provencal blue sun make this a bike ride to<br />


Photo: Julie Whitmarsh

6<br />

South<br />

Luberon - from Lourmarin to Ansouis<br />

It’s funny how natural barriers tend to create<br />

distinct regions. Such is the case for the<br />

Luberon Mountain Chain. The official<br />

Luberon region includes both the north and<br />

south side, but there are two personalities to<br />

explore: the north: Luberon Coeur de<br />

Provence, and the south: Côté Sud<br />

Luberon.<br />

Lourmarin and Ansouis are on the list of<br />

"Most Beautiful Village". I recommend both<br />

villages with stops in Vaugines and Cucuron<br />

in-between. If you happen to be here during<br />

the first part of May, you’ll have your very<br />

own red carpet laid out for you as the<br />

poppies are in full bloom.<br />

You can also contemplate the Provence of<br />

“Jean de La Florette” the beautiful book by<br />

Marcel Pagnol, on a walk near Vaugines. In<br />

more recent times, some of the loveliest<br />

scenes in “A Good Year” starring Russell<br />

Crowe were filmed in Cucuron. The<br />

ambiance of the south doesn’t stop here<br />

though. You can also go truffle hunting, taste<br />

olive oil, buy wine and visit castles.

<strong>No</strong>stradamus described Menerbes as being like a big ship drifting on a<br />

sea of vineyards and orchards...<br />

7<br />

Menerbes<br />

– the “floating” village<br />

Allow yourself time to be swept away by the<br />

quiet beauty of Menerbes. Like Gordes, on<br />

the other side of the Luberon valley,<br />

Menerbes is labelled “Most Beautiful<br />

Village”, but you’ll discover a very different<br />

kind of soul.<br />

The legacy of the famous artists who settled<br />

in the village - Picasso, Dora Maar, Nicolas<br />

de Stël, Jane Eakin and Joe Downing to<br />

name a few – have left their mark. <strong>No</strong>t to<br />

mention the late, great Peter Mayle who<br />

lived there and featured the town in many of<br />

his novels.<br />

As you walk the cobblestone and narrow<br />

lanes passing houses from the 15th, 17th<br />

and <strong>18</strong>th centuries, you won’t be distracted<br />

by postcards and lavender sachets for sale.<br />

The mass of tourists tend to stay in Gordes<br />

and Roussillon so Menerbes is an ideal spot<br />

for lunch and a peaceful stroll through a<br />

typical Provencal village. There are two<br />

bakeries in the village and a general store.<br />

Just enough to pick up some snacks for a<br />

light lunch you can enjoy perched on a<br />

bench in the shade at the top of the village in<br />

front of the 16th century church Saint Luc.

8<br />

Calanques<br />

- natural wonders<br />

If you’re feeling energetic and want to<br />

explore off-the-beaten-path, you can rent a<br />

kayak from Port Pin in Cassis. This way<br />

you’ll really appreciate the beauty of one of<br />

France’s most breath-taking landscapes -<br />

Les Calanques. These limestones creeks<br />

are sometimes referred to as the French<br />

Fjords.<br />

If you prefer to stay on land, a trek from Port<br />

Pin to the En-Vau Calanque is easily<br />

accessible for the adventurous hiker and<br />

reveals dreamy turquoise waters in a hidden<br />

cove - paradise guaranteed. You can also<br />

opt for a classic boat ride from the port of<br />

Cassis that offers views of 3, 5 or 7<br />

Calanques.<br />

Should you be traveling with a small group,<br />

opt for a private boat excursion which will<br />

get you up closer to the beaches and<br />

provide you with scuba gear for some<br />

underwater exploration. Don’t leave<br />

Provence without a little aqua adventure.

9<br />

Vaison-la-Romaine<br />

- Authentic High Vaucluse<br />

Region<br />

More and more people are becoming aware<br />

of the area referred to as Haute (high)<br />

Vaucluse. This region retains an authentic<br />

atmosphere with its less touristy villages.<br />

Here, the mountain atmosphere adds a<br />

touch of Alpine air that opens up the senses<br />

to the lavender, truffles, wine, saffron and<br />

fruit trees. Vaison-la-Romaine is a lively<br />

town with two weekly markets as well as a<br />

lovely Provencal square lined with cafés for<br />

resting tired feet.<br />

It’s also a paradise for Roman history buffs<br />

with open-air museums featuring a 1st<br />

century BC antique theater and one of the<br />

largest Roman villa vestiges in France. Don’t<br />

leave Vaison before crossing the Roman<br />

bridge to explore the Medieval City, Haute<br />

Ville. Should you be feeling in the mood for<br />

a little climb, wend your way to the top<br />

where the Counts of Toulouse built their<br />

castle. The view is worth the effort!

10<br />

Aix-en-Provence - Provencal city living<br />

Provence has a lot of villages, valleys,<br />

vineyards and orchards. The slow life in the<br />

breath-taking countryside is what attracts<br />

many to the area, but sometimes you might<br />

feel like a little urban action. Aix-en-<br />

Provence is the perfect city for a hit of<br />

European cosmopolitan flair.<br />

People watching on the famous Cours<br />

Mirabeau, under the shade of ancient plane<br />

trees with a glass of rosé can keep you<br />

entertained for hours as you rest from your<br />

market shopping: Tuesdays, Thursdays,<br />

and Saturdays for both the food and flower<br />

market. Then meander up to the Cathedral<br />

to see the baptistery - Aix’s oldest existing<br />

building which incredibly dates back to the<br />

year 500.<br />

On your way, you may find yourself stopping<br />

to taste the irresistible flavours of France.<br />

My personal favourites are madeleines,<br />

choux pastries, and Puyicard chocolate -<br />

simply divine!<br />

Art lovers can retrace the steps and visit the<br />

studio of the great Cezanne who captured<br />

its beauty and light in his paintings.<br />

Historians can see archaeological digs<br />

taking place. There is really is something for<br />

everyone in Aix.

Your Private Provence runs tours in Provence<br />

including a small group tour in which you visit all<br />

these top ten spots - and more - in September, an<br />

optimal time of the year for exploring the best of<br />

Provence.<br />

More information at www.yourprivateprovence.com

Lill<br />

Bucket loads of<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthern Franc

e<br />

charm and culture in<br />

e<br />

Lille is known for its cultural allure - it was European City of Culture in<br />

2004 and has never looked back. Old Lille’s architecture is stunning, a bit<br />

like a miniature Paris but with a dash of Flemish influence. Janine Marsh<br />

explores Lille's delights...

LILLE At a Glance<br />

Vieux Lille, the old town, is vibrant,<br />

exuberant and flamboyant. 17th century<br />

buildings, cobble stone streets, intimate<br />

courtyards, elegant squares and a thriving<br />

café culture. It's a bit like a miniature Paris<br />

but easier to discover and has a great vibe<br />

thanks to a young population.<br />

Lille is one of the top gastronomic cities in<br />

France with a plethora of restaurants. It’s<br />

also one of the most cultural and artistic<br />

cities in the country after being elected<br />

European Capital of Culture in 2004, which<br />

has led to it becoming the arty party capital<br />

of France. It’s a friendly city, ask directions<br />

and you’re likely to be personally led to your<br />

destination!<br />

Culture Vultures<br />

There are more than a dozen museums in<br />

Lille. Don’t miss the Palais des Beaux Arts<br />

which is said to hold the second richest<br />

collection of art in France after the Louvre in<br />

Paris, much of it acquired during Napoleon’s<br />

looting sprees during battle.<br />

Browse the second hand book market<br />

(Tuesday to Sunday 13.00-19.00) in the 17th<br />

century Vieille Bourse (former stock<br />

exchange), a Flemish Renaissance marvel<br />

of gargoyles and garlands.<br />

Modern art lovers will fall head over heels for<br />

TriPostal, an art venue in a former post<br />

office and Gare St Sauveur, a cultural centre<br />

in a former frieght station.

Getting Around and about<br />

Walking: Old Lille is a compact city and the<br />

best way to discover it is on foot! Be aware<br />

there are lots of cobble stone rues.<br />

Public transport: Bus, tram and metro, in<br />

fact the world’s first driverless trains were<br />

introduced here in 1983. Buy a book of<br />

tickets, 24 hour or evening pass for just a<br />

few Euros to use on all three modes of<br />

transport.<br />

There are two rail stations: Lille Flandres<br />

for Paris and local services and Lille Europe<br />

for international and fast trains round<br />

France. Lille Flandres station used to be the<br />

old Gare du <strong>No</strong>rd Paris. It was dismantled to<br />

make way for a new, bigger station and reerected<br />

stone by stone in Lille.<br />

Bike: Lille is a cycle friendly city where<br />

motorists are used to wobbly wheeled<br />

tourists. Hire a public bike from V'Lille<br />

Shopping<br />

Shops are closed on Sundays, and many on<br />

Monday morning. Rue de Bethune is good<br />

for high street style, Vieux Lille for luxury and<br />

high end goods (including Louis Vuitton and<br />

Hermès), Rue Royale for jewellery, bags,<br />

and accessories.<br />

Inside Track<br />

Hop on the tram or metro to nearby Roubaix<br />

and visit the art deco La Piscine museum in<br />

a converted public swimming pool - it has<br />

real wow factor (read more about it here).<br />

Everyone loves a French street market and<br />

Lille has several. Try Wazemmes Sunday<br />

market, one of the largest in France. A<br />

colourful, lively affair where you can furnish<br />

your house, wardrobe or pantry. You’re likely<br />

to hear accordion music here and witness<br />

spontaneous outbreaks of dancing – the<br />

Lillois (people of Lille) love to dance!

Where to Eat<br />

There are loads of restaurants in Lille from<br />

haute cuisine to local specialities…<br />

Fancy a snack: The best chips (a local<br />

speciality) in town can be found at:<br />

l’Express – eat in or take away.<br />

50 Place de la Gare<br />

Locals love: The bars and cafés of Place<br />

des Oignons such as Estaminet Au Vieux<br />

de la Vieille, with handwritten menus in<br />

children’s’ exercise books.<br />

2-4 Rue des Vieux Murs<br />

Wine and dine: Barbue d’Anvers, candles<br />

on book shelves, vintage décor in a<br />

gorgeous old building. A place to linger and<br />

enjoy delectable dishes of the region like<br />

carbonnade flamande (stew with beer and<br />

brown sugar), mussels cooked in white wine<br />

and a cheese platter that includes the local<br />

stinky, delicious Maroilles cheese<br />

1 bis rue Ste Etienne.<br />

Best Bars<br />

There are hundreds of bars in Lille…<br />

Quirky: Peekaboo (92 rue de l'Hôpital<br />

Militaire) is fun and friendly. Food is served<br />

lunchtimes, Tuesday to Saturday. Great<br />

ambience, décor, beers and cocktails.<br />

Splash out: The only Champagne Bar in<br />

Lille, located in a converted <strong>18</strong>th Century<br />

Convent that’s now the Couvent des<br />

Minimes Hotel and bar. (17 Quai du Wault)<br />

Popular with the locals: La Capsule: great<br />

selection of beers and friendly staff who are<br />

happy to advise on what beer to try, one of<br />

the best bars in town (25 Rue Trois<br />

Mollettes).<br />

Learn about beer: At Vivat Factory they’ll<br />

explain how and where beers are made and<br />

have a great beer tasting menu. appreciate<br />

its beauty.<br />

Place Gilleson

Above left: Grand<br />

Place, Lille; above:<br />

Champagne bar<br />

Couvent des Minimies<br />

Mussel power<br />

in Lille<br />

At the annual Lille<br />

Braderie, a giant flea<br />

market, it's traditional<br />

for restaurants to pile<br />

up empty mussel<br />

shells - the biggest<br />

pile is judged at the<br />

end of the 33 hour<br />

flea market marathon<br />

and the restaurant<br />

with the biggest pile<br />

claims the win!

Take home a taste of Lille<br />

Best chocolate and sweets: Meert has<br />

been delighting customers since 1761. Pop<br />

in to buy cakes, chocolate and the famous,<br />

sweet, flat waffles of the north - loved by the<br />

locals, royalty, General De Gaulle and<br />

Buffalo Bill! There's also a charming tea<br />

room where the hot chocolate wows.<br />

27 Rue Esquermoise<br />

Best cheese: Philippe Olivier is a legendary<br />

affineur (someone who matures cheese to<br />

perfection) in France; this is THE place to go<br />

for the best fromage ever.<br />

3 Rue du Cure Saint-Etienne<br />

Best boulangerie: Baker Alex Crouquet<br />

admits he is “fou de pain” - crazy about<br />

bread. His yeast mix is so important to him,<br />

he not only talks to it, he takes it on holiday<br />

with him! The bread is amazing – take a loaf<br />

home and savour the memory of your trip.<br />

66, rue Esquermoise<br />

Vieux Boulogne cheese at Philippe Olivier,<br />

officially the smelliest cheese in the world!<br />

Practical Info<br />

How to get there: Travel from central<br />

London to Lille by Eurostar in around<br />

1 hour 28 minutes. Details: Oui.SNCF<br />

Trains from Paris take 50 minutes.<br />

Website for Tourist Office: Lille Tourism

Montreuil-sur-Mer<br />

The little town in northern France that’s making<br />

gastronomic waves

Montreuil-sur-Mer sits atop a hill, encircled<br />

by ancient ramparts. Its medieval buildings<br />

and cobble stone streets have long attracted<br />

tourists including Laurence Sterne<br />

whilst writing his famous book “A Sentimental<br />

Journey”, Napoleon Bonaparte and<br />

the town’s favourite - Victor Hugo. The<br />

famous French playwright based his book<br />

Les Miserables on people he met and sights<br />

he saw in the town when visiting in <strong>18</strong>37.<br />

These days savvy Brits nip across the<br />

Channel to soak up the authentic French<br />

ambiance on their doorstep. They’re drawn<br />

not just to the town’s good looks but to the<br />

Saturday morning market, the terraced<br />

bistros, Michelin star restaurants and<br />

gourmet food shops.<br />

Montreuil-sur-Mer is special when it comes<br />

to gastronomy and that gave expat Brit Tim<br />

Matthews who runs the gorgeous Maison 76<br />

B&B in the town, the idea to create the label<br />

Destination Gastronomique. He and his<br />

business partner Michael Bennett joined<br />

with the town’s legendary chef, Alexandre<br />

Gaulthier who runs the famous La<br />

Grenouillère hotel and 2 Michelin Star<br />

restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil.<br />

The historic little village sits on the edge of<br />

Montreuil-sur-Mer and attracts guests from<br />

around the world to indulge at the<br />

internationally renowned La Grenouillère.<br />

Together they launched the Destination<br />

Gastronomique website to showcase<br />

excellence in local products and restaurants.<br />

The joining criteria is strictly regulated, only<br />

the best of the best, and the team have held<br />

several food and wine events to great<br />

acclaim.<br />

Their next event will be held on Sunday 6<br />

May, a “Symphony for the Senses“. A wine<br />

and food event combined with a flea market,<br />

live music and vintage cars in a day long<br />

celebration of all things French and fine. It<br />

will take place in the squares of Montreuilsur-Mer<br />

and the surrounding streets – all are<br />


Photo © Michael Bennett<br />

Programme of events<br />

Place General de Gaulle: Join in a<br />

fabulous wine tasting experience and<br />

indulge in snacks in the big main square of<br />

the town featuring produce from some of<br />

the best restaurants and gourmet food<br />

shops from the town including the<br />

renowned Boulangerie Gremont. Don’t<br />

miss a taste of one of their Jean Valjean<br />

bread loaves – a nod to Victor Hugo, and<br />

utterly delicious.<br />

6 May 20<strong>18</strong><br />

Montreuil-sur-Mer<br />

A Symphony for the Senses<br />

Cheese shop Caseus will also be present,<br />

they have become a tourist destination in<br />

their own right thanks to the simply<br />

awesome cheeses in store. And<br />

restaurants Le Caveau and Clos des<br />

Capucins will be on hand to tempt your<br />

taste buds.<br />

Place Darnetal: Vegetarian cookery<br />

demonstrations alongside local market<br />

gardeners supported by the boulangeries,<br />

chocolatiers and restaurants that line this<br />

pretty square.<br />

In the surrounding cobbled streets, the<br />

shops of rue d’Herambault and the rue des<br />

Cordonniers will especially open their<br />

doors from 10h-<strong>18</strong>h to visitors - with plenty<br />

of stop offs for refreshments.<br />

Place Gambetta: a chance to admire and<br />

assembly of vintage cars<br />

Musical entertainment from Gipsy Jazz to<br />

Rock and Pop will take place in the<br />

atmospheric Rue de Clape en Bas… and<br />

there will also be a braderie, a traditional<br />

French flea market!<br />

Finally, the town’s restaurants will be open<br />

for a long, lazy, scrumptious lunch.<br />

Photos: top left: Cave de Montreuil,<br />

sensational wine shop; top middle: Caseus<br />

cheese shop; top right: Tim Matthews and<br />

chef Alexandre Gaulthier of La Grenouillère

to<br />


There’s nothing quite like the pop of a Champagne bottle to make<br />

you feel festive.<br />

With Reims, the capital of Champagne, just 45 minutes from Paris by<br />

train it’s the perfect day trip location but even more so for a sparkling<br />

weekend break. From Reims you can travel around the Champagne<br />

countryside on the "Bubbles Line". You really don’t need a car to get<br />

around and that means that you can also enjoy a glass or two without<br />

having to worry about being over the limit says Janine Marsh

Reims<br />

The city of Kings has treasures above, and below, ground.<br />

Reims train station is in the centre of town<br />

making it easy to walk to all the sites and<br />

there are many. UNESCO heritage sites<br />

abound here, perhaps the most well-known<br />

is the iconic Cathedral of <strong>No</strong>tre Dame.<br />

33 Kings were crowned in Reims from 816<br />

to <strong>18</strong>25 including Charles VII in 1429,<br />

accompanied by Joan of Arc. It comes as a<br />

shock to many visitors to discover that many<br />

of the sculptures featured on its façade are<br />

copies or casts. Damaged badly by<br />

bombing in World War I, the Cathedral was<br />

rebuilt. It says much about the integrity of<br />

the work carried out that this Cathedral is<br />

still considered one of the finest examples<br />

of Gothic architecture in the world. Statues<br />

of 63 kings, 3m high and weighing 6 tonnes<br />

each adorn the façade. It’s no less<br />

impressive inside where stained-glass<br />

windows dating to the 13th century vie for<br />

attention along-side the magnificent stainedglass<br />

windows designed by Marc Chagall.<br />

Next door, visit the Palais du Tau, the former<br />

Bishops’ Palace, and residence of Kings<br />

whilst awaiting coronation, is now a museum<br />

dedicated to the Cathedral. The St Remi<br />

Basilica which was mostly built in the 12th<br />

century is named after the Bishop of Reims<br />

who baptised Clovis, the King of the Franks<br />

in 496.<br />

Even older is the Roman legacy, the huge<br />

Port de Mars which stands majestically at<br />

the end of a busy road, it is quite simply<br />

astonishing.<br />

A huge area of Champagne itself has<br />

UNESCO status, including Reims, granted<br />

in 2015 in recognition of its Paysages de<br />


You can't go to Reims and not try<br />

Champagne - you're spoiled for choice.<br />

The city is built on top of miles of secret<br />

passages that contain millions of bottles of<br />

Champagne. Nicholas Ruinart started the<br />

trend for maturing Champagne in the<br />

chalky caves, the digging out of which was<br />

begun in the Gallo Roman period. There<br />

are several big Champagne makers<br />

including Mumm, Ruinart, Veuve Cliquot,<br />

Taittinger, Lanson and Drappier, who<br />

make the biggest bottles of Champagne<br />

known as a Melchizedekis. they hold 400<br />

glasses of bubbles!<br />

If you want to try Champagne from smaller<br />

producers and artisans head to the<br />

Champagne Treasures Boutique, where<br />

you can take a tasting - with more than<br />

160 different cuvées each week, you're<br />

sure to find one you absolutely love.<br />

When you’ve had your fill of history, take a<br />

break in one of the many restaurants and<br />

bars - one of the best reasons to visit.<br />

Locals love: Café du Palais is a 4th<br />

generation family run restaurant that has<br />

been pleasing the punters since 1930.<br />

Dishes on the menu pair perfectly with<br />

bubbles. 3 course menu €39.00 includes a<br />

glass of Champagne (14, Place Myron<br />

Herrick).<br />

Wine and dine: The Brasserie Excelsior<br />

near the train station has oodles of old<br />

school glamour, think chandeliers and<br />

banquettes and a style reminiscent of the<br />

Roaring Twenties. 2 course lunch menu<br />

from €28.50 (96 place Drouet d’Erlon).<br />

Make Tracks in Champagne<br />

From Reims, the capital of Champagne<br />

the region, you can take the train direct to<br />

Epernay the capital of Champagne the<br />

drink. But why not see a bit more of this<br />

glorious region and stop off en route...<br />

(see over)<br />

Champagne<br />

Champagne the drink, can only be called<br />

Champagne if it is produced from designated<br />

vineyards on the chalkland south of Reims.<br />

Other regions may produce sparkling wine<br />

but they can't call it Champagne.<br />

Vines have been cultivated on the steep<br />

slopes of the Marne since at least Roman<br />

times. It was the Romans who dug under<br />

Reims for chalk almost 2000 years ago,<br />

creating underground passages which have<br />

become the grandest cellars in the world,<br />

holding millions of bottles of Champagne,<br />

maturing in perfect conditions.<br />

Champagne is the world’s favourite festive<br />

drink - Cole Porter must be one of the few<br />

people who don't get a kick from it!<br />

Serve it chilled in a tall flute and never, say<br />

the experts, a coupe, those shallow round<br />

glasses allegedly modelled on the breast of<br />

Marie-Antoinette, or Madame Pompadour –<br />

depending on who you believe. Whatever, I<br />

think you should use whichever glass you<br />

like!<br />

Visit a Champagne House<br />

in Reims<br />

Enjoy a Champagne tasting either above or<br />

below ground via Champagne-Booking.com.<br />

They list cellar visits and Champagne tasting<br />

sessions including free tastings, with the<br />

famous domaines and with artisan<br />

producers. They can even tell you where to<br />

book a sabrage session (opening a<br />

Champagne bottle with a sword) in front of<br />

the Cathedral of <strong>No</strong>tre Dame, as well as<br />

master classes and a whole lot more.

Ligne des Bulles, the Bubbles Line<br />

The TER (regional train) line between<br />

Epernay and Reims is called by some<br />

locals: Ligne des Bulles, the Line of the<br />

Bubbles. It makes stops at several villages<br />

in the woodlands and vineyards of the area,<br />

a great way to get to see some of the small<br />

Champagne towns and meet producers at<br />

their vineyards. Here are three of the best:<br />

Rilly-la-Montagne is a charming village,<br />

one of the oldest in the area; here history<br />

and tradition are closely entwined. At the<br />

town hall pick up a copy of a walking guide<br />

of the town and vineyards. Don't miss the<br />

12th century church with its carved choir<br />

stall illustrating the stages of wine<br />

production. There are about 60 Champagne<br />

producers in the town and several offer<br />

cellar tours and tastings. Stop off for a<br />

special lunch at the splendid Chateau de<br />

Rilly, full on glamour amongst the vineyards.<br />

Ay whose motto is “the city that sparkles” is<br />

a lively sort of place. It’s said that King Henri<br />

IV of France loved the wines from here and<br />

owned his own wine press in Ay. Apparently,<br />

it was kept in the half-timbered house behind<br />

St Brice’s Church. Ay was already wellknown<br />

in the Gallo Roman period for the<br />

wines produced here. Around 40 producers<br />

are based in Ay and several offer cellar tours<br />

and tastings. Pop to the town hall to pick up<br />

a leaflet about the town (in English). There<br />

are several restaurants, mainly bistro style<br />

one of the most popular being the Rotisserie<br />

Henri IV named in honour of the town’s most<br />

famous fan.<br />

Avenay-Val-d’Or, just 7km from Epernay is<br />

sleepy and tranquil. There’s a 13th-16th<br />

century church and several Champagne<br />

houses to visit. From here it’s about a 20-<br />

minute walk to the tiny village of Mutigny<br />

from where you will get a wonderful view of<br />

the Montagne of Reims.

Moët et Chandon<br />

cellar entrance!<br />

The railway line from Paris reached<br />

Epernay in <strong>18</strong>49 and trade in<br />

Champagne boomed which led to the<br />

naming of the Avenue de Champagne.<br />

Previously known as rue Royale, and<br />

Fauborg du Commerce, it was renamed<br />

in 1925 and now receives almost half a<br />

million visitors each year<br />

Epernay<br />

The train station is in the centre of<br />

Epernay so you don't have to walk far to<br />

reach the sites, including the worldfamous<br />

Avenue de Champagne. Here<br />

you can't help but ogle at the famous<br />

names and beautiful buildings that line<br />

this long road. Underneath it are 110km<br />

of cellars filled with bottles maturing<br />

slowly, watched carefully by experts.<br />

The first Champagne house opened on<br />

the avenue in 1729, it belonged to Nicolas<br />

Ruinart. As with Reims, taking a cellar<br />

visit is practically the law in this<br />

effervescent little town and few can resist<br />

the allure of Moët et Chandon who moved<br />

to the Avenue in 1743.<br />

Take a tour with greeters.com, an<br />

initiative in which local people, passionate<br />

about the area where they live, share<br />

their local knowledge with visitors, it’s free<br />

of charge and you’ll get a real insider’s<br />

view of Epernay.

Hautvillers Champagne Prayer:<br />

Give me health for a long time,<br />

Work, not too often,<br />

Love, from time to time,<br />

But Champagne all the time!<br />

Tasting the Stars in Hautvillers<br />

5km north of Epernay is the place where legend<br />

has it, the story of Champagne bubbles began –<br />

Hautvillers.<br />

Dom Perignon was a French Benedictine monk<br />

who served at the Abbey of Hautvillers. He<br />

worked in the Abbey cellars for almost 50 years<br />

and much of his time was spent improving the<br />

methods for the maturation of wines, the<br />

blending of different grapes, corking the bottles<br />

and the pruning of vines to improve the grape<br />

quality. Apparently he actually spent much of his<br />

time trying to rid the wine of bubbles! He is<br />

though, the person we associate most with the<br />

invention of Champagne, and the legend that he<br />

cried “Brothers, come quick, I am tasting the<br />

stars” has stuck, in no small part thanks to<br />

brilliant French marketing.<br />

There’s no train station in Hautvillers but you<br />

can hire a bike (including electric bike) from<br />

Epernay Tourist Office, the ride takes around 30<br />

minutes: www.tourisme-hautvillers.com<br />

Information<br />

For train information see the OuiSNCF<br />

website where you can book tickets to<br />

Champagne. For travel direct in<br />

Champagne on the local trains, buying<br />

tickets at the station is fine.<br />

Oui.SNCF<br />

For more information on the region and<br />

its attractions see<br />

www.reims-tourism.com<br />

www.ot-epernay.com<br />

www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.<br />

com<br />


Aveyron<br />

A taste of yesterday, a hint of tomorrow<br />

says Lucy Pitts

© D.Viet / CRT Midi-Pyrénées<br />

Aveyron echoes with the past. Every<br />

densely wooded gorge and valley, every<br />

ancient bastide town and every winding<br />

road seems to whisper of pilgrims making<br />

their weary way south, of Romans and<br />

rebellious Gauls or of Knights Templars,<br />

thundering across the plateaux.<br />

Part of the Massif Central but also the<br />

northern most part of the Midi-Pyrénées, as<br />

a department Aveyron has an earthiness, a<br />

simplicity and a quiet but wild ruggedness<br />

that’s hard to find elsewhere. Forests and<br />

vineyards cling to steep ravines, medieval<br />

villages poke their heads out of leafy<br />

canopies in the hills and rivers dotted with<br />

old mills and forges laze their way through<br />

cool musty valleys.<br />

landscape and you just have to take your<br />

time here and absorb.<br />

walk on the wild side<br />

The plateaux of the Aubrac to the north east<br />

of the region are vast, forlornly beautiful and<br />

represent the Aveyron at its most untamed.<br />

It feels wild and unconquered here with a<br />

haunting beauty to its bleakness and you<br />

can roam for hours in solitary delight<br />

interrupted by nothing more than mountain<br />

shelters (Burons) and the occasional Aubrac<br />

cow. It’s definitely the place to start if you<br />

want to imbibe the very soul of the region<br />

and it also harbours one of the ancient<br />

pilgrim trails that cuts across France.<br />

<strong>No</strong> one seems to be in a rush here and the<br />

region’s cuisine remains deeply connected<br />

with its past and its terrain. It’s all about the

3 star taste of the Aubrac plateaux<br />

It’s hard to imagine how it must have felt to<br />

the tired travellers as they bowed their<br />

heads into the wind and pushed on to the<br />

south. But, if you have the time, follow in<br />

their footsteps a while across and down<br />

from the lofty plateaux. You'll cross through<br />

the pretty hillside villages and into the thick<br />

and craggy relief of forests of chestnut, pine<br />

and oak. Gradually you will be drawn on to<br />

the beautiful haven of Conques.<br />

But if you can’t travel the trail and don’t want<br />

to meander alone, join one of the “Aubrac<br />

Rando” guided walking tours. They leave<br />

from the village of Laguiole and this way,<br />

you'll get a real sense of these hills.<br />

www.rando-aubrac.co<br />

It’s an area which was also the childhood<br />

home of Michel Bras (the only three star<br />

Michelin - chef in the region) who says that<br />

he takes much of his inspiration from the<br />

2,000 local varieties of flora and fauna that<br />

you’ll find here.<br />

His restaurants is just 10 minutes outside<br />

the village of Aubrac, and hovers like a<br />

floating beacon of luxury, indulgence and all<br />

that is modern, with glass walls giving way to<br />

dramatic views over the valley to Laguiole.<br />

You’ll find that the dishes served here are as<br />

much about art and poetry as they are about<br />

the terrain with the emphasis on edible<br />

flowers, herbs, beauty and all that’s in<br />

season. There’s a hotel here too but you will<br />

need to book.<br />


A sip of the new generation<br />

Wandering down from Conques and the<br />

Aubrac, it’s an easy and logical journey on to<br />

the now regenerated, up and coming wine<br />

growing region and appellation of Marcillac.<br />

It’s a relatively unknown appellation which has<br />

risen from the ashes of the almost extinct wine<br />

production that the monks from Conques and<br />

the wealthy merchants of Rodez enjoyed<br />

many centuries ago.<br />

Renowned for its reddish soil, if you look<br />

carefully you can still see the overgrown and<br />

forgotten vines of the past. And steeply<br />

terraced vineyards now cling to either side of<br />

the valley in a south facing arch, bordered to<br />

the north by the forests, producing spicy and<br />

rustic reds (as well as some rosés)<br />

predominantly from the Fer Servadou<br />

(Mansois) grape and they slip down very<br />

comfortably with earthy local cuisine.<br />

© P. Thebault<br />

There’s a vastly updated cooperative here at<br />

the Vignerons du Vallon with an excellent<br />

visitor centre a short distance from Rodez<br />

which showcases the history and production<br />

of Marcillac. But better still in the summer<br />

months, the local village of Valady is a<br />

wonderfully indulgent way to relax, unwind<br />

and experience local wine and cuisine at their<br />

weekly Saturday fete.<br />


Far right, Aubrac; mid top; the market<br />

at Villedranche-de-Rouergue; below far<br />

left: the Cathedral at Rodez; below<br />

Street in Villefranche-de-Rouergue<br />

assault on your senses in<br />

Villefranche-de-Rouergue<br />

Before you head on further south, allow<br />

yourself yet another indulgence and head<br />

west over the rolling hills to Villefranchede-Rouergue,<br />

one of the region’s five 13th<br />

century “new concept” bastide towns with<br />

a distinctly southern feel. From the<br />

rawness of the Aubrac and the deep<br />

gorges and ravines cut by the rivers<br />

Aveyron and Dordou, arriving in the<br />

evening to the grid style streets, tall<br />

timbered merchant’s houses and<br />

limestone arcades has a refreshing feel to<br />

it. But come morning, particularly on<br />

market day (Thursday) the town explodes<br />

into a melting pot of colours, scents,<br />

sounds and irresistibly tasty treats.<br />

One of the best in Aveyron, the body of<br />

the market fills the main square (Place<br />

<strong>No</strong>tre Dame) but spills out in every<br />

direction showcasing fruit, veg, spices,<br />

sticky sweets, warm breads and<br />

patisseries, herbs, flowers, meats slow<br />

turning on the spit and vast pans of<br />

steaming shell fish, all teasing and<br />

tempting you into the many backstreets.<br />

When you’re ready, escape down to the<br />

calm of the esplanade near the riverbank<br />

where you can cool off in the sleepy<br />

shade of a plane tree before continuing on<br />

your journey south.

© T.Lambelin<br />

A glimpse of the future at<br />

the Millau Viaduct<br />

The river and gorges of the Tarn are well<br />

known enough and undoubtedly it’s worth<br />

losing yourself for a while here in what is the<br />

deepest canyon in France, while you<br />

recover from the excesses of Villefranche.<br />

But this really is a place where the vastness<br />

of nature meets the enormity of human<br />

creation and if the Pont du Gard transports<br />

you back to the time of the Romans, I’m not<br />

quite sure where <strong>No</strong>rman Foster’s Millau<br />

Viaduct will take you.<br />

Higher than the Eiffel Tower, 270 metres<br />

above the ground, it is the highest road<br />

bridge deck and the longest suspension<br />

bridge in the world, straddling the Tarn valley<br />

and has been described as one of the<br />

greatest engineering achievements of all<br />

time.<br />

Don’t rush the experience, it’s one of those<br />

places that you just have to reflect on for a<br />

while. <strong>No</strong>rth of the bridge is a service station<br />

area created out of old farm buildings with a<br />

great viewing platform which is best enjoyed<br />

at dawn or dusk.

The service station is also dedicated to local<br />

produce and includes an eatery run by<br />

Michel Bras’ brother where you can sample<br />

his unique “capuchins”, a pancake style<br />

cone filled a choice of gastronomic delights.<br />

But for me, the only way to really savour this<br />

spectacular vision of the future is to head to<br />

nearby Creissels, between April and<br />

October, and just slow things down for a<br />

while with a boat trip. It’s a wonderful way to<br />

enjoy the Tarn, its wild life and pretty river<br />

bank villages like the well-known Peyre (one<br />

of the “most beautiful villages of France”),<br />

but the real pleasure is that you also slip<br />

quietly under the huge, shimmering viaduct.<br />

You can’t rush the Aveyron. You must stop<br />

and try its earthy cheeses and local dishes;<br />

its Aligot and Flaune, its Roquefort and its<br />

Pérail. You must listen to its memories and<br />

think about all who’ve gone before you. And<br />

you must explore and soak up its earthy,<br />

wholesome soul.<br />

www.millau-viaduc-tourisme.co.uk<br />


Stop off in Milau<br />

for a bite...<br />

Close to that awesome bridge (and<br />

providing a surreal backdrop) is the ancient<br />

town of Millau, home to a rich history and<br />

beautiful architecture, Roman pottery and<br />

fine leather glove making. It's a pretty town<br />

and also a good place to stop off to enjoy a<br />

leisurely bite to eat and enjoy the stunning<br />

scenery of Aveyron.<br />

A great place to start on this culinary trail is<br />

at the unassuming looking Restaurant<br />

Capion. Tucked away very close to the heart<br />

of the city, you’ll find a good mix of<br />

traditional, local recipes and ingredients<br />

including Roquefort and Aligot, combined<br />

with more international ideas. They also<br />

offer a very reasonably priced express menu<br />

for lunch during the week which includes<br />

three courses and a ¼ of wine for just<br />

€16.50. It has a simple and modern feel and<br />

the dishes are a treat for the eye.<br />

www.restaurant-capion.fr<br />

For something a little more modern try the<br />

Restaurant Estanco. The chef here<br />

describes his cuisine as inspired by the ‘near<br />

and far’ of his travels. He specialises in fish<br />

and seafood dishes and combines<br />

everything from Creole to classic French<br />

with lots of colour and spice.<br />

www.estanco.fr<br />

Based around the idea of a tea room (hence<br />

it’s known as Cake’t), this small but<br />

welcoming restaurant serves a very<br />

reasonably priced lunch and is a real delight.<br />

The husband and wife team make charming<br />

hosts, explaining their dishes, which often<br />

include fabulous soups and fresh bread, in<br />

detail and with a great deal of pride. Or if<br />

you have time or space for nothing more,<br />

why not just catch your breath for a while<br />

and enjoy a slice of their cake in the<br />

sunshine of southern France.

Roquefort cheese, can only be called Roquefort<br />

if its matured in the caves of Rouquefort-sur-<br />

Soulzon as it has been for 1000 years<br />

Whilst it may look humble from the outside,<br />

Au Jeu De Paume is set in a beautifully<br />

restored old building with an open fire,<br />

beamed ceilings and a lovely terraced<br />

courtyard. You can enjoy all the local<br />

specialities here and watch the larger meat<br />

cuts being cooked on an open grill. It’s<br />

thoroughly atmospheric and their two or<br />

three course ‘formule’ start at just €12-15.<br />

www.aujeudepaume-millau.com<br />

Finally, if you fancy getting away from the<br />

hustle and bustle of Millau, then why not take<br />

a 7 km detour to the beautiful village of<br />

Peyre. The only restaurant in the village, it<br />

sits above the river with great views across<br />

the countryside and you can see the Millau<br />

viaduct in the distance too. It’s reasonably<br />

basic fodder but good quality, good value for<br />

money and with a welcoming feel.<br />


Janine Marsh visits the<br />

pickled in the past town of<br />

Sarlat in the Dordogne, the<br />

perfect weekend destination.<br />

Photo: Patricia Bruce

in<br />

Sarlat<br />

You just can’t help but fall in love when you<br />

visit the ancient town of Sarlat. The medieval<br />

buildings, fabulous market and gourmet food<br />

shops are so enticing. The cobbled streets<br />

lure you on to discover winding alleyways,<br />

steep stairways and their treasures. It's a<br />

town where restaurants serve the most<br />

delicious of local dishes with pride and flair.<br />

You can easily spend a weekend or much<br />

longer here enjoying the ambiance, the food<br />

and the sights. And you’ll always yearn to<br />

return…<br />

Time warp town<br />

Visiting Sarlat is like stepping into the past.<br />

You’ll discover a friendly town that’s full of<br />

surprises and intoxicatingly pretty. It has the<br />

look of a gorgeous film set but this is a living,<br />

working town that just happens to be<br />

incredibly ancient and quite extraordinarily<br />

pretty.<br />

Of course all this is bound to have mass<br />

appeal and Sarlat gets very busy in the<br />

summer months. Go outside of July and<br />

August though and it’s much quieter and life<br />

goes on pretty much as it has done for<br />

centuries here in the heart of Dordogne.<br />

It’s a town that has a long and colourful<br />

history. For ten years from 1360 it was an<br />

English garrison town and even before that it<br />

was well known thanks to a monk who<br />

became Bishop of Sarlat and was made a<br />

Saint after it was said he could cure lepers<br />

and raised his father from the dead. St<br />

Sarcedos died in AD250 and the Cathedral in<br />

Sarlat is dedicated to him.<br />

He’s not the only one to have performed<br />

miracles here. In 1147 Saint Bernard passed<br />

through Sarlat and cured the sick with loaves<br />

he’d blessed. The event is commemorated<br />

by the 12th century tower of Saint-Bernard,<br />

known as the Lanterne des Morts (lantern of<br />

the dead). You’ll see this dark and peculiar<br />

building behind the cathedral.<br />

Much of the architecture is from the 15th to<br />

the 17th century and the Renaissance<br />

influence is strong. That it is so unchanged is<br />

due to the fact that for some time, the town<br />

was cut off.

Sarlat – sleeping beauty<br />

of Dordogne<br />

In the mid <strong>18</strong>00’s Sarlat pretty much went to<br />

sleep due to the lack of good roads to the<br />

town. People moved away, houses were left<br />

empty, Sarlat became run down and was on<br />

its way to falling into ruin. In fact it wasn’t<br />

until the second half of the 20th century that<br />

people began to realise just how special<br />

Sarlat is.<br />

In 1958 the then Minister of Culture, Andre<br />

Malraux, who had lived in Sarlat for a while,<br />

pushed through a law for the protection and<br />

restoration of old buildings and old areas of<br />

towns. The law mentioned Sarlat as an<br />

example and soon after, work began to<br />

restore the once neglected streets and<br />

buildings to their former glory. Sarlat has<br />

never looked back and is now one of the<br />

jewels of Dordogne.<br />

If the weather is good take the glass lift to<br />

the top of what was the tower of the church<br />

of Ste-Marie. You’ll be rewarded with<br />

outstanding views over the rooftops of<br />

Sarlat. The deconsecrated building, which<br />

was started in 1367, was turned into an<br />

arms store after the French Revolution and<br />

since then has been a series of shops and<br />

was even used by the post office. <strong>No</strong>w<br />

redesigned by famous French architect Jean<br />

<strong>No</strong>uvel, it makes for a fantastic covered<br />

market. The Saturday morning market is<br />

simply outstanding.<br />

A muddle of medieval streets impress, and<br />

in rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau you’ll spot<br />

the 17th century Chapelle des Penitents<br />

Blanc where the poor people of Sarlat once<br />

worshipped.<br />

Book a one hour guided tour (in English) at<br />

the tourist office which is in a 16th century<br />

former mansion in Place de la Liberté. It’s an<br />

excellent way to discover more about the<br />

secrets and sites of Sarlat.

One of the best times to see Sarlat is as the<br />

sun is setting when the buildings seem to<br />

glow, but even when its raining it’s still<br />

incredibly beautiful.<br />

Don’t miss<br />

The Place du Marché des Oies, where a<br />

goose market was once held and now home<br />

to three life size bronze geese – the perfect<br />

selfie spot. The square is surrounded by<br />

superb old houses and shops. Just around<br />

the corner in in rue des Consuls is a<br />

gorgeous 14th century house, Hotel Plamon<br />

which once belonged to cloth merchants.<br />

Sarlat for gastronomes<br />

The Saturday market spreads through the<br />

cobbled streets. Stalls piled with local,<br />

seasonal produce – walnuts, garlic, cheeses<br />

and charcuterie, fruit and veg and artisan<br />

made bread, it really is irresistible. A daily<br />

market is held in the former church of Ste-<br />

Marie where St Bernard once preached and<br />

where the doors are big enough for a giant<br />

to pass through. A night market takes place<br />

throughout the year on Thursdays.<br />

Specialist markets for truffles and foie gras<br />

are held. And if you’re thinking that’s a lot of<br />

markets – well that’s because this place is a<br />

food lovers destination extraordinaire.<br />

The squares and tiny streets are lined with<br />

gourmet food shops selling all manner of<br />

deliciousness. Restaurants galore tempt on<br />

every corner.

Locals Love: Le Bistrot de l’Octroi, 111,<br />

Avenue de Selves, it has a cosy<br />

atmosphere, friendly service and a menu<br />

that favours local and seasonal produce.<br />

2-course lunch menu from €14.50 and a<br />

special house menu of the best of the area<br />

such as cepes, duck and goose and<br />

desserts such as crème brulee featuring<br />

local walnuts.<br />

Wine and dine: Le Presidial in a 16th<br />

century building in the heart of Sarlat just<br />

behind the market. On a sunny day the<br />

terrace is perfect to enjoy al fresco dining,<br />

inside is elegant and utterly charming,<br />

there’s even a balcony area for those very<br />

special occasions. Old school,<br />

unpretentious, refined dining at its best,<br />

local specialities, and dishes with flair. A<br />

great menu that’s also great value €19.50<br />

for 3 course lunch menu (take it from me,<br />

it’s a bargain). 6 rue Landry (book in<br />

advance if you can, this place is very<br />

popular).<br />

Major Annual Events<br />

With an all year-round calendar of events,<br />

there’s plenty going on in Sarlat. Art, film<br />

and theatre, sports and heritage and of<br />

course food with truffle, foie gras, culinary<br />

academie and the Fete de la Gastronomie.<br />

Details: www.sarlat-tourisme.com<br />

Practical Information<br />

By train: Paris to Sarlat via Bordeaux takes<br />

from 4 hours 53 minutes.<br />

Website for tourist office:<br />


Postcard from Paris in the spring<br />

Antoine Collas, a Paris photographer shares his favourite photos of the city of light in the<br />

spring. Originally from Aix-en-Provence he now lives in Paris and never tires of taking<br />

photos of the ever changing scenery. His favourite location is along the Seine River which<br />

he says "never looks the same"...

Montmartre is magical<br />

and one of the best place<br />

for photographers.<br />

Featured in "Midnight in<br />

Paris" the pretty cobbled<br />

streets, old buildings and<br />

street artists make for<br />

one of the best places to<br />

take a stroll. Take a<br />

break at La Halte du<br />

Sacre Coeur restaurant,<br />

bar and tea room (45<br />

Rue Custine) for<br />

authentic food, great<br />

service, good value and<br />

popular with the locals.<br />

The carousel (in French it's<br />

called manège) by the Eiffel<br />

Tower, it's the perfect<br />

location for a photo of<br />

Paris's Grand Dame and it's<br />

really popular with local<br />

children, wedding couples<br />

and tourists.

Paris is ever changing. There<br />

are the ancient streets and<br />

buildings as well as new and<br />

innovative architecture like<br />

the Louis Vuitton art<br />

foundation designed by<br />

Frank Gehry. The landscape<br />

is alive....<br />

Head to Le Marais<br />

neighbourhood and enjoy<br />

coffee or a hot chocolate<br />

early on a Saturday or<br />

Sunday morning before the<br />

city starts to be active. You'll<br />

feel like a local and really<br />

understand the vibe of Paris...<br />

a big city but with the feel of<br />

a village at times.<br />

See more of Antoine's<br />

photographs on<br />

Instagram @<br />


10 brilliant tours in France<br />

in 20<strong>18</strong><br />

Travel like a local!<br />

We've picked ten fabulous tours in France where the experience is built around what YOU<br />

want to see and do.<br />

Small Group tours<br />

Each and every private tour is different and they are all small group tours.<br />

Enjoy the trip of a lifetime<br />

There’s no shoving to get on and off the bus on these tours, no rushing from one<br />

monument to another with no time to truly appreciate the history and the beauty.<br />

Whether you’re a lover of chateaux, culture, gourmet cuisine, wonderful wines, gorgeous<br />

countryside, the prettiest villages – these are tours that are full of thrills and wonder.

culture & gastronomy<br />

Gers - Gascony<br />

Gorgeous<br />

Gascony<br />

Tours<br />

culture & cookery in<br />

provence<br />

Culture &<br />

Gastronomy<br />

Tours<br />

<strong>No</strong>urish your soul and unleash your spirit<br />

of adventure in Gascony. With tour guide<br />

Sue Aran, you'll experience the famous<br />

food, wine and Amagnac of the region.<br />

You'll discover where to find the best<br />

antique shops and flea markets, the most<br />

beautiful villages and magnificent<br />

chateaux. From one day to week long<br />

tours that are customised for you.<br />

Cooking classes with chefs in their homes<br />

where you'll cook "authentic French<br />

dishes, no frou frou or crazy foam" says<br />

tour guide Martine Bertin-Peterson. You'll<br />

shop at the enchanting street markets<br />

with chefs and dine at the most<br />

scrumptious restaurants in the beautiful<br />

towns of Provence on this fully escorted<br />

trip of a life time.<br />

MORE<br />

wine & gastronomy<br />

loire valley<br />

Wine &<br />

Gastronomy<br />

Tours<br />

MORE<br />

provence lavender<br />

tours<br />

Lavender &<br />

Cultural<br />

Tours<br />

On this tour you’re accompanied by your<br />

very own private in-house chef, gourmet<br />

dining catered to your personal taste.<br />

There are visits to the most stunning<br />

vineyards and you'll indulge in the very<br />

best Loire Valley wines. You’ll learn how<br />

to do a wine tasting like the professionals<br />

and meet some of the region’s most<br />

interesting producers with charming hosts<br />

Kimberley and Walter Eagleton.<br />

MORE<br />

Small group fully escorted tours or day<br />

trips in Provence with local expat Emily<br />

Durand. You'll get to experience the<br />

glorious lavender fields and the most<br />

picturesque towns like St Remy de<br />

Provence and gorgeous Gordes.<br />

Indulge in scrumptious Mediterranean<br />

cuisine and fine wines and experience<br />

Provence in all its summer glory.<br />


south of france<br />

summer<br />

normandy in summer<br />

The real<br />

south of<br />

France Tours<br />

<strong>No</strong>rmandy<br />

like a local<br />

Tours<br />

Discover real southern France from<br />

captivating Carcassonne to magical<br />

Montpellier and the best of Provence.<br />

Tours lasting 7 days or 9 days in which<br />

you'll get to be a temporary local and<br />

indulge in the best Occitanie and<br />

Provence has to offer from gastronomy to<br />

culture and then some. This is a tour for<br />

those who love the authentic.<br />

Discover the best of <strong>No</strong>rmandy: history,<br />

gastronomy, beaches and the most<br />

beautiful monuments from Mont St Michel<br />

to Monet's Garden at Giverny and historic<br />

sites. You'll explore the places most<br />

visitors miss with local guides Julia and<br />

Stephane. This is a tour that's anything<br />

but average, you'll feel like you're visiting<br />

<strong>No</strong>rmandy with friends.<br />

MORE<br />

Porsche, alsace,<br />

champagne, Paris<br />

Luxury<br />

Car & wine<br />

Tours<br />

MORE<br />

provence in autumn<br />

Provence<br />

like a local<br />

Tour<br />

The Porsche, Alsace, Champagne and<br />

Paris luxury trip will take you from<br />

Stuttgart to France and two of the most<br />

famous wine regions of France –<br />

Champagne and Alsace, then to Paris.<br />

This luxury trip includes 5-star hotels,<br />

Michelin starred dining & Champagne in<br />

Reims. Best of all you will have the<br />

opportunity to drive a Porsche GTS 911<br />

on the unlimited speed Autobahn!<br />

MORE<br />

This really is a special trip. The best of<br />

Provence – the sights, the villages, the<br />

culture. You'll be immersed into the<br />

authentic Provencal lifestyle and culure<br />

from playing petanque, tasting the most<br />

amazing wines and enjoying sensational<br />

meals. Visit the very best of Provence,<br />

Cassis, Gordes, Aix-enProvence and<br />

many more of the most beautiful towns -<br />

and get to know them like a local.<br />


ordeaux in october<br />

christmas in alsace<br />

Bordeaux<br />

wine<br />

tour<br />

Magical<br />

Christmas<br />

Tour<br />

Bordeaux in the fall, the perfect time to<br />

visit as the grapes are picked, the wines<br />

are in production and there's an air of<br />

celebration. This tour introduces you to<br />

the legendary wines of the region,<br />

accompanied by a renowned wine expert<br />

with private wine tastings in the most<br />

amazing locations from chateaux to<br />

vineyards. Exquisite food with your own<br />

chef and Chateau accommodation.<br />

MORE<br />

It doesn't get much more festive than this:<br />

visit Alsace and the capital of Christmas -<br />

Strasbourg. Explore charming Colmar with<br />

its famous Christmas market and the<br />

exquisite fairy tale towns of Riquewihr and<br />

Ribeauville which twinkle at this time of<br />

year. Discover wine towns like<br />

Kayserberg, so pretty it looks like<br />

something out of a Disney movie, Enjoy<br />

gourmet meals, fabulous accommodation<br />



Every weekend, we invite you to share your photos on Facebook - it's a great way for<br />

everyone to see "real" France and be inspired by real travellers snapping pics as they go.<br />

Every week there are utterly gorgeous photos being shared and here we showcase the<br />

most popular of each month. Share your favourite photos with us on Facebook - the most<br />

"liked" will appear in the next issue of The Good Life France Magazine...<br />

Pretty in Spring, Paris by @saagoo on Instagram

Chateauneuf in<br />

Burgundy on a<br />

rainy late spring<br />

morning. It's<br />

officially one of<br />

the prettiest<br />

villages in France,<br />

& it's well worth a<br />

visit (close to<br />

Beaune & Dijon).<br />

By Don Knipfer<br />

Join us on Facebook<br />

and like and share<br />

your favourite photos<br />

of France...<br />

The colours of Nice<br />

- bright<br />

bougainvillea<br />

flowers tumbling<br />

over balconies in<br />

the sun...<br />

by Sudarshan<br />


Borderline<br />

Skiing<br />

Michael Cranmer skidaddles to an as yet hardly<br />

known skiers paradise - the French Cottian Alps<br />

Maybe you’ve skied the ‘Big’Uns’: The Three Valleys, Tignes/Val d’Isère, Paradiski.<br />

With eyes (and credit card) watering, you’ve paid the price for access to those<br />

endless kilometres. But - and here’s the rub - how many of the pistes you paid to<br />

use have you actually been on? My guess is only a fraction.<br />

So, time for a reality check. Quality v Quantity.<br />

Remember the old adage, big is not always better? We all want more for our money<br />

whilst not compromising on quality. In the course of my job I get to ski a vast range of<br />

resorts and countries and here’s my Top Tip for a mid-price, but definitely not mid-quality,<br />

resort that has got pretty much all you could want.<br />

Where? Where? Answer: Montgènevre.<br />


<strong>No</strong>w some of you will have heard of it, but<br />

I’m guessing most won’t. It’s way down<br />

south, technically the French Cottian Alps.<br />

Think Briançon. But there’s a twist. It’s slapbang<br />

on the Italian border, perched beside<br />

an ancient high pass, now an important<br />

Route National. (This is beginning to sound<br />

like estate-agent’s speak for a mansion<br />

yards away from a motorway – “easy<br />

access to transport links”). Heavy lorries do<br />

go past all hours of the day and night, but<br />

you’d never know it because they’re<br />

underground in a tunnel built for the 2006<br />

Winter Olympics in Turin.<br />

That’s another bit of info to perk your ears<br />

up. Turin Airport is only 1 hour and 20<br />

minutes away…half the time it takes to get<br />

from Geneva to the Big’Uns.<br />

So far so good.

The snowy mountains of<br />

Montgènevre<br />

Its location on the pass means huge<br />

dumps of snow scooped up as<br />

precipitation in the south and north give<br />

the area an enviable snow record.<br />

What about the mountains? The village is<br />

at 1,850m, the top lift 2,630m. The skiing<br />

divides into three sectors. First off the<br />

south-facing Le Chalvet, two lifts whizzing<br />

you up from the centre of the village. Pack<br />

a camera as the views over the Ecrins<br />

National Park and Briançon are stunners.<br />

Open reds, easily ridden by competent<br />

intermediates swoop joyfully down to<br />

midpoint. Where better for my invariable<br />

11.00 hot chocolate stop than Les<br />

Terraces? The clue is in the name, a wide<br />

sunny affair with comfy sofas dotted<br />

around…easy to sink into, not so easy to<br />

get out of.<br />

TopTip: have a Café Gourmand. A perfect<br />

Italian espresso with not one, not two, but<br />

five! yummy, tasty sides. Lie back in the sun<br />

and reflect on your excellent choice.<br />

Later in the morning the sun will have<br />

warmed the opposing side of the valley.<br />

Head for Les Gondrans with its very<br />

different vibe. Up past the nursery slopes<br />

through trees to wide higher runs peaking<br />

at L’Observatoire, one of a ring of old<br />

tactical military forts. There are choices<br />

from here, each guaranteed to raise a smile.<br />

Blues, reds, and endless off-piste delights.<br />

If you feel fit, try a top-to-bottom nonstopper<br />

and earn yourself boasting rights in<br />

Le Graal, Montgènevre’s après ski<br />


Endless off piste<br />

delights await the<br />

skier who is lucky<br />

enough to discover<br />

Mongenevre<br />

Chilled out L'Aigle<br />

Moving on. The third sector, L’Aigle, is<br />

dramatically different to the others. A long<br />

and slow chair transports you over terrain<br />

untouched by humans but imprinted hither<br />

and thither with the tracks of foxes and<br />

alpine hares. It’s a great ride in sunny<br />

weather, but not recommended if there’s a<br />

wind blowing. Consequently, you might<br />

find yourself the only occupant of the<br />

meandering red Souréou linking with the<br />

black Les Rhodos further down. Both are<br />

achievable by confident intermediates…in<br />

the right conditions.<br />

Most accommodation is on the sunny<br />

south-facing side of the valley, centred<br />

around ancient streets and alleys, with an<br />

obligatory old church and spire. It’s<br />

definitely not party-central. think tranquil,<br />

relaxed and chilled out. Bars and<br />

restaurants sit shoulder-to-shoulder along<br />

what could easily be the sea-front, except<br />

its snow. The last few years have seen the<br />

development of some swish familyorientated<br />

upmarket apartments, each with<br />

shops, swimming pool, sauna, and ski hire,<br />

close to the slopes.<br />

I stayed in the Le Hameau des Airelles,<br />

only 16 steps from my front door to the ski<br />

lift. A few more steps down was Le Chalet<br />

des Gourmandises, the morning essential<br />

stop for fresh, warm croissants. Across the<br />

road, Intersport provided top-of-the-range<br />

skis and boots.<br />

Love thy Neighbour<br />

Here’s where I reveal Montgènevre’s next door<br />

neighbour… Claviere in Italy!

So close they’re practically semi-detached.<br />

Like all good neighbours they get along<br />

famously, swopping recipes, intermarrying,<br />

sharing mountains and slopes. Yes, they’ve<br />

had past disagreements, but that’s all<br />

forgotten now.<br />

Skiing the Milky Way<br />

And, beyond little Claviere, is the Via<br />

Lattea –The Milky Way – 400km of pistes<br />

and the resorts of Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulx,<br />

San Sicario, and Cesana. You can choose<br />

to stay within a local sector, or buy a lift<br />

pass for all. Top Tip: find your ski legs in<br />

Montgenevre, then venture further afield.<br />

It’s entirely viable to ‘do’ the Milky Way in a<br />

day, but remember: Quality v Quantity.<br />

Time for some cross-border action. There’s<br />

no queueing for Passport Control, but it is a<br />

bit of a slog. After a hold-your-nerve schuss<br />

down a blue trying to keep some speed, the<br />

run flattens out into a walk as you realise<br />

you’re in Italy. Fantastico! Even more<br />

fantastic is the name of the sector, Monti<br />

de la Luna. It was here I had one of the<br />

most memorable runs of my life, not on a<br />

steep black, or some narrow couloir, but a<br />

simple green.<br />

From the Colla Bercia 2293m to Cesana<br />

1360m, piste #90 (numbers not names in<br />

Italy) meandered down a farm track<br />

overhung with branches heavy with snow,<br />

forming an ice-tunnel, dappled shadows<br />

contrasting with shafts of piercing sunlight.<br />

I slowly snow-ploughed the more to prolong<br />

my enjoyment of the moment, the place,<br />

and my senses. I don’t believe it could ever<br />

be that perfect again.<br />

To finish, back at the top lift, the rickety old<br />

hostel Baita della Luna served awful<br />

burgers, but wonderful homemade Zuppa<br />

de Ceci con bruschetta (Chickpea soup with<br />

bruscetta)<br />

It’s the simple things that stay.<br />

Michael Cranmer was a guest of<br />

Montgènevre Tourist Office, www.<br />

montgenevre.com<br />

He stayed at Le Hameau des Airelles<br />

courtesy of Zenith Holidays, www.<br />


Photo: J'adore la France

La<br />

Belle<br />

Vie<br />

Joanna Leggett, director of<br />

marketing and public relations at<br />

Leggett Immobillier explains the best<br />

ways to integrate into French life,<br />

beginning with the importance of<br />

learning the language and adapting to<br />

the culture<br />

Every now and again, as I travel through<br />

France, I have to stop and pinch myself. I<br />

am actually living my dream! All the<br />

magical places I'd read about for so many<br />

years are passing by my window.<br />

France seduces your senses:<br />

The warmth of the sun on your back; smells<br />

of fresh bread and coffee from the local<br />

boulangerie; the scent of flowers – you only<br />

have to sniff lavender oil to recall the fields<br />

that turn the south of France purple.<br />

The countryside is peaceful, from the<br />

verdant landscape, where luscious vines<br />

spill over their supports, to the coastal<br />

resorts and pretty fishing villages.<br />

And the French certainly know how to eat<br />

well: oysters and fresh fish from the coast;<br />

truffles from the Dordogne; salt-marsh lamb,<br />

tender Limousin beef, and of course, the<br />

cheeses.<br />

Am I waxing lyrical? Mais oui, bien sûr.<br />

Living in France means much more than<br />

indulging your olfactory senses. It's not an<br />

extended summer holiday, and it will take<br />

some time to adapt to your new life. There<br />

will be ups and downs – but, to my mind, it<br />

cannot be bettered. So how should we adapt<br />

to life in France? In my opinion, the two<br />

basics are language and culture.<br />


First, you must try to learn French.<br />

Communication really is key. In the UK we<br />

wouldn't expect to switch languages to<br />

converse with a new neighbour. The French<br />

are extremely courteous and polite. You<br />

need to be able to converse so that you can<br />

be courteous in return. At first you may find<br />

your language skills limited to the needs for<br />

materials for the travaux (renovations) on<br />

your house, and the weather; however, it<br />

won't be long before you want to discuss the<br />

matters of the day and to make friends.

Language classes, French radio and<br />

television will help in your quest to settle<br />

here. My school-French was pretty rusty, so<br />

I went to language classes when I first<br />

arrived. We listen to French radio in the car<br />

and watch the actualités (news) on French<br />

TV – though we do turn over to British TV<br />

for Downton! Your 'O' level French might<br />

need brushing up: language does change<br />

over the years, and what you learned at<br />

school is not necessarily the French you<br />

need today.<br />

Many of the French will speak a little<br />

English, and shop staff often go out of their<br />

way to help foreigners. The local tax office<br />

might even have someone who speaks<br />

English to help you 'arrange your affairs',<br />

and the EDF electricity board have an<br />

English-speaking helpline. However, this<br />

isn't enough to make you truly happy in your<br />

new environment. You must mix with French<br />

people whenever you can. Perhaps you can<br />

join the 'Comité des Fêtes' in your village.<br />

Help out in your community as often as<br />

possible; it will be noted and appreciated –<br />

and your French will improve enormously.<br />


The culture in France is subtly different to<br />

UK culture. The French have a different way<br />

of doing things: they think differently and<br />

have different values; they prioritise<br />

differently and live quite differently. For<br />

example, you have to get used to the long<br />

lunch hours, when banks and shops close.

The Cost of living and<br />

every day life<br />

Many expats fail to realise that they must<br />

still deal with the everyday chores, hassles<br />

and problems life brings anywhere.<br />

You may wonder how much everyday life is<br />

going to cost. This depends: what may<br />

seem a perfectly reasonable standard of<br />

living for one person could be inconceivable<br />

to another. Talk to people who live<br />

in your target area to get an idea of their<br />

monthly outgoings. Ask your estate agent<br />

for details of rates, but don't forget to<br />

account for electricity, heating, telephone<br />

and food costs.<br />

Many people use wood-burning stoves for<br />

heating. In autumn, your woodsman will<br />

arrive on his tractor to deliver the cubic<br />

metres of logs you ordered. You then get to<br />

stack them. The delivery can be hilarious:<br />

while the woodsman is being charming to<br />

you, he could well be shouting profanities to<br />

his apprentice as he fails to negotiate<br />

backing into a tight driveway.<br />

Then there is the paperwork: be prepared.<br />

You will amass a dossier of essential<br />

papers. You'll need birth and marriage<br />

certificates and, although current EU law<br />

says this is not required, you may have to<br />

get them officially translated. Keep all your<br />

paperwork to hand and go with the flow.<br />

While administrative red tape might seem<br />

infuriating at times, remember the French<br />

find it infuriating too. As an outsider, you<br />

must adapt to local ways; do not expect<br />

local ways to adapt to you.<br />

Time is measured by the seasons. People<br />

greet each other in the street; they talk<br />

about the mushrooms they found in the<br />

woods. They watch for the cranes to fly over<br />

and discuss the return of summer. I would<br />

not live anywhere else.<br />

See www.leggett-immo.com for thousands<br />

of properties and advice for finding your<br />

dream home in France...

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Plan ahead to<br />

avoid a<br />

possibly<br />

taxing time<br />

in France<br />

For those contemplating the purchase of a<br />

second home in France, or a complete<br />

move, the advantages from a tax<br />

perspective may represent fantastic value.<br />

Jennie Poate, Head of Operations, France<br />

for Beacon Global Wealth Management<br />

explains…<br />

There always seem to be horror stories<br />

doing the rounds about tax in France. But if<br />

you're planning to move here as a retiree or<br />

early retiree and already have some (or all)<br />

of your income stream planned, then you<br />

could well be surprised.<br />

For example: if you're married, you are<br />

taxed as a household and will have two taxfree<br />

allowances added together before<br />

income tax becomes payable. This is<br />

certainly handy if, like most people, one of<br />

you has a higher income than the other. All<br />

pensions receive an abatement or<br />

allowance of 10% before tax is payable –<br />

every little helps.<br />

As an individual in the UK you would pay<br />

40% tax above the £43,300 threshold.<br />

Even as an individual in France you wono't<br />

reach this height until above €70,000. So<br />

even higher earners can pay less tax.<br />

The rates for income tax are:<br />

Income<br />

Tax Rate<br />

Up to €9,807 0%<br />

Between €9,807 - €27,086 14%<br />

Between €27,086 - €72,617 30%<br />

Between €72,617 - €153,783 41%<br />

Above €153,783 45%<br />

As an example, suppose two adults have a<br />

joint income of €40,000. Tax liability is<br />

worked out on the basis that each has<br />

€20,000. The first €9807 of each person is<br />

zero rated, tax is charged at 14% on the<br />

remainder.<br />

There are also exemptions, discounts and<br />

reductions available – it can seem like a<br />

highly complex formula when you’re trying to<br />

fill in the paperwork and work out what’s<br />

what. Getting qualified tax advice can save<br />

you money, time and heartache (not to<br />

mention a headache).<br />

Nexus Global is a division within Blacktower Financial Management (International) Limited (BFMI). All<br />

approved individual members of Nexus Global are Appointed Representatives of BFMI. BFMI is licensed and<br />

regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and bound by their rules under licence number<br />

FSC00805B. The information in this article is intended as an introduction only and is not designed to offer<br />

solutions or advice. Beacon Global Wealth Management can accept no responsibility whatsoever for losses<br />

incurred by acting on this information.

Planning ahead is always a good idea<br />

You shouldn't just research the area or<br />

house you want to buy; you should also<br />

have a clear idea of how much income you<br />

need to live on in France, and how much of<br />

it will be taxed.<br />

Jennie is happy to answer any queries you<br />

may have. She and her team would be<br />

delighted to help you plan your move to<br />

France and offer a free, no obligation, initial<br />

consultation in order to discuss your<br />

requirements.<br />

You also want to make sure that any<br />

savings you have are taxed as little as<br />

possible. The start of this planning from a<br />

financial point of view should begin before<br />

you move to France.<br />

Using a financial adviser with in-depth<br />

knowledge of both the UK and French<br />

systems from a tax, pension and investment<br />

point of view could save you money as well<br />

as a big tax bill later on.<br />

Although there is a lot of information on the<br />

Internet about taxes in France. It’s often<br />

outdated at best and at worst downright<br />

wrong. Having something bespoke and<br />

tailored to your needs and wishes will ease<br />

your financial transition into your new life.<br />

Jennie can be contacted at:<br />

jennie@bgwealthmanagement.net<br />

www.beaconglobalwealth.com for<br />


In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for th<br />

Mardi Michels.<br />

From the prolific blogger behind eat. live. travel. write comes<br />

and Francophiles of all ages. Forget the fuss and bring simpl<br />

kitchen with Mardi Michels as your guide. In her first book, M<br />

have to be complicated. The result is an elegant, approachab<br />

for young chefs and their families. From savory dishes like O<br />

Frites to sweet treats like Profiteroles, Madeleines or Crème<br />

classics here. With helpful timetables to plan out baking pro<br />

involved in cooking, this book breaks down any preconceive<br />

or too difficult for kids to master. With Mardi's warm, empow<br />

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

Financiers<br />

Financiers are an excellent handheld after-school snack. Essentially a tea cake<br />

made with a touch of almond meal, these are a little more substantial than<br />

madeleines. They come in various shapes, including rectangles and ovals, and here<br />

we’re using a mini muffin pan because they’re easy to find and many people have<br />

them in the kitchen already.<br />

Makes 24 cakes<br />

Prep time: 15 minutes<br />

Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes<br />


Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan<br />

1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter 4 large<br />

egg whites<br />

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar<br />

1/2 cup (50 g) almond meal<br />

1/3 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour<br />

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt Icing sugar,<br />

for sprinkling<br />

Option: Raspberry financiers.<br />

Just before you bake the financiers, cut<br />

12 raspberries in half and place one<br />

half, cut side down, on top of each<br />

financier. Press down gently.<br />

e Whole Family to Make and Enjoy by<br />

a new cookbook for parents, children<br />

e, delicious French dishes to your home<br />

ardi shows that French food doesn't<br />

le cookbook featuring recipes tailored<br />

melettes, Croque-Monsieurs or Steak<br />

Brûlée, readers will find many French<br />

jects, and tips on how to get kids<br />

d notion that French cuisine is too fancy<br />

ering and encouraging instructions, kids<br />

y of the week.<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). If you are<br />

using a nonstick mini muffin pan you may not need<br />

to butter them, but otherwise generously butter the<br />

cups of the pan.<br />

2. Melt the butter either in a small pot on the<br />

stovetop over medium heat or in a microwave-safe<br />

bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute. Set<br />

aside to cool.<br />

3. Beat the egg whites until frothy with handheld<br />

electric beaters on high speed, 1 to 2 minutes.<br />

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar,<br />

almond meal, flour and salt.<br />

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold them<br />

in gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.<br />

6. Add the cooled, melted butter to the batter and<br />

use a rubber spatula to gently mix until the butter is<br />

completely incorporated.<br />

7. Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin<br />

pan. You can do this with a 11/2-tablespoon cookie<br />

scoop or a small spoon. Fill each cup almost to the<br />

top.<br />

8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the center is<br />

slightly puffed and the edges are golden and<br />

slightly crispy and coming away from the pan.<br />

There may be cracks in the tops. That’s totally<br />

okay!<br />

9. Remove the financiers from the muffin pan<br />

immediately and allow to cool on wire racks.<br />

10. Once they have cooled completely, sprinkle<br />

them with icing sugar to serve. These are best<br />

eaten the day they are made, although they can<br />

keep for a couple of days in an airtight container at<br />

room temperature.<br />

Pre order Mardi's fabulous cook book at: Eat.<br />

Live. Travel.Write


When the urge to get into the kitchen and make something sweet hits Paola Westbeek,<br />

nonnettes are a favourite. They're a specialty of Dijon in Burgundy. The name means<br />

‘little nuns’ and the cakes find their origins in the Middle Ages...

Orange <strong>No</strong>nettes with Grand Marnier<br />

Makes 12<br />

Ingredients:<br />

150ml water<br />

80g butter<br />

200ml honey<br />

50g light brown sugar<br />

1 tbsp pain d’épices spices<br />

2 tbsps Grand Marnier<br />

<strong>18</strong>0g whole wheat flour<br />

100g all-purpose flour<br />

1 tbsp baking powder<br />

Zest of 1 organic orange<br />

6 tsps marmalade<br />

3 tbsps freshly squeezed orange juice<br />

80g icing sugar<br />

Paola Westbeek is a food,<br />

wine and travel journalist.<br />

For more of her recipes,<br />

visit ladoucevie.eu,<br />

thefrenchlife.org and her<br />

YouTube channel,<br />

LaDouceVieFood<br />

Instructions<br />

Heat water, butter, honey and sugar, just until butter is melted. Remove from the heat and<br />

stir in the spices and Grand Marnier.<br />

In a large bowl whisk the flours and baking powder.<br />

Add the orange zest and stir to combine. Pour in the syrup (it should still be fairly hot). Stir<br />

until combined.<br />

Flour and butter a 12-hole muffin tin. Divide the batter over the holes.<br />

Chill for half an hour.<br />

Preheat the oven to 200°C.<br />

Using a teaspoon, make a little well in the centre of the batter and fill with half a tsp of<br />

marmalade.<br />

Bake the nonnettes for 20 minutes. The nonnettes should be tender and spring back when<br />

pressed.<br />

Allow to cool completely before unmoulding. Place the nonnettes on a rack, making sure<br />

there is a sheet of tin foil underneath it.<br />

Make a thin glaze by whisking the orange juice into the icing sugar. Drizzle over the<br />

nonnettes and leave to set.

My Good Life in France<br />

Sometimes I get France. And sometimes I don’t. Take the law for<br />

instance.<br />

In my local café in which the locals gather to gossip, a recent topic of<br />

debate was about the misfortunes of a baker who owns a boulangerie<br />

near Troyes in the Champagne region. He decided to open his<br />

boulangerie 7 days a week in the summer of 2017 in order to serve the<br />

needs of the many tourists who flocked to the area. All well and good<br />

you might think, but non. Someone, who is not owning up to it, reported<br />

him for contravening a local decree that prevents anyone working 7 days<br />

a week, even if it is their own business and they choose to do so. The<br />

labour union that was tasked with enforcing the law was apparently<br />

reluctant to do so, especially as the baker was supported by the local<br />

Mayor and residents. They asked other local business owners if they<br />

agreed that the baker should be fined. Astoundingly, the result was yes,<br />

and the baker was fined €3000. So far, he has refused to cough up.<br />

You might think that strange enough but there’s more. I have a plastic<br />

pig in my garden, don’t ask, I don’t know why I bought it but plastic<br />

animals are popular in my part of France, so it doesn’t look as odd as<br />

you might think! I told Annie the café owner, about my plastic cochon<br />

and said I was going to call it Napoleon. “Ah non” she said, “You can’t do<br />

that, it’s against the law”. And, it’s true. It’s illegal to call a pig Napoleon<br />

in France, maybe even a plastic one.<br />

There are plenty of strange laws in France I’ve since discovered. Did you<br />

know for instance it’s illegal to kiss at a train station in France? Or that<br />

there is a centuries old law that requires all French citizens keep a<br />

haystack handy, in case the King passes by and needs hay for his horse.<br />

Stranger still, it is legal in France to marry a dead person with the<br />

permission of the President and if you have a good reason to do so.<br />

I still have much to learn about France it seems and some of it is very<br />

strange!<br />

Bisous, bisous<br />


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