Issue No. 15

Discover the Drome, Nyons - the last Provencal frontier, Charente-Maritime, Burgundy, Paris gastronomy, Nice, secret Provence, recipes, a whole lot more. It's the next best thing to being in France...

Discover the Drome, Nyons - the last Provencal frontier, Charente-Maritime, Burgundy, Paris gastronomy, Nice, secret Provence, recipes, a whole lot more. It's the next best thing to being in France...

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Summer is served in this issue - it's time to kick back and enjoy the best of France.

You'll find loads of gorgeous destination pieces including Provence with a focus on the

Drome department - the part that's not well known, as well as the secret bits of Provence

by two locals who share their favourite places. We look at Paris, Burgundy and the

Vendée, the sensational Samoens in the French Alps and the Jazz Festival at Marciac.

There are practical guides for expats and those who dream of moving to France, plus

some fabulous recipes, and a focus on gastronomy in Nice and Paris, There's also "Your

Photos" and a whole lot more.

Don't forget to enter our competitions - we've got some wonderful books to give away as

well as some award winning, delicious rosé wine, just perfect for those summer days and

a taste of France.

If you like this issue please share it with your friends - it's completely free, and always

will be,

Bisous from France



Barbara Pasquet James is

a US lifestyle editor,

speaker and urban

explorer who writes about

food fashion and culture,

from Paris. She helped

launch, write and edit USA

Today’s City Guide To

Paris and her photo blog

is at: FocusOnParis.com.

Justine Halifax is a multi

award-winning writer hand

journalist. She writes for the

Birmingham Mail,

Birmingham Post and

Sunday Mercury both in

print and online. Recent

journalism awards include

winning Midlands Feature

Writer of the Year 2014.

Peter Jones is a writer

and photographer. He

presents a weekly travel

and food show at

Puritans Radio in the


Sara Neumeier is a New

York food stylist who

shares a summer home in

the Dordogne with her

parents. She and her

recipes are featured in the

memoir Beginning French

by Les Américains.

Rupert Parker is a writer,


cameraman & TV

Producer. Read about his

latest adventures on his

website Planet Appetite

& follow him on Twitter


Lucy Pitts is a writer and

Deputy Editor of The

Good Life France. She is

a professional copywriter

who runs Strood Copy.

She divides her time

between France and the


Editor: Janine Marsh contact editor (at) the goodlifefrance.com

Deputy Editor: Lucy Pitts

Advertising: Mark sales (at) thegoodlifefrance.com

Digital support: Umbrella Web Solutions


P. 26

P. 30

P. 18


8 The Other Provence – Drome

Lucy Pitts discovers a romantic and

unspoiled region of lavender fields and


14 Nyons the last Provencal


Lucy Pitts explores the dramatic beauty

of a little known town in Provence

18 The Secrets of Provence

Susana Iwase Hanson and Jeanny

Cronk reveal the most beautiful secret

destinations of Provence

26 Nice – a gastronomic paradise

Janine Marsh gets greedy in Nice but

shares her favourite restaurants with


30 Va va voom to the Vendée

Lucy Pitts takes her kids to the Vendée

and finds a pocket of France that’s a

hidden gem

36 Outdoor Adventures in Samoens

Rupert Parker goes up up and away in

the French Alps

P. 42

42 Paris Photo Montage

Paris in gorgeous photos

48 The Rules of Boules

Mary Neumeier reflects on the French

national game

52 Zoom in on Burgundy

Janine Marsh on what makes Burgundy

so utterly special

58 Le Nord!

Justine Halifax visits the far north of

France and finds its perfect for the

whole family

64 Jazz in Marciac

Peter Jones goes jazzy in the southern

French town, plus the best of the jazz

fests in France

70 Learning French at 50+

Keith Van-Sickle reveals his top tips for

learning French

72 The best chomping grounds in


Barbara Pasquet-James checks out the

finest restaurants in the city

78 Two tales of a city

Jemma Hélène explores Antibes and

discovers a tale from World War II

82 Pilgrimage to the Somme

Doug Goodman visits the Somme to

honour a lost relative


P 52

62 A page from the history of


Susan Cahill looks at the legacy of King

Henri IV in Paris

68 Your Photos

The most popular photos on The Good

Life France Facebook page shared with

you here.

84 - 86 GIVE AWAYS

Fab books to read this summer and

some delish rosé wine to win

P. 90

P. 112

Life in France

88 I spy with my Expat Eye

Keith Van-Sickle goes to the butchers

and finds it’s an experience!

90 The Good Life in the Gers

Janine Marsh talks to an artist with a

penchant for chickens, plus a look at

some dream homes in the area

94 The Good Life in Riberac

Janine Marsh meets a couple who run

gites and a cake business in the lovely

Dordogne, plus a look at dream homes

in the area

116 My Good Life in France

100 Ask The Experts

101 Pension legislation

Plus a savings question answered

104 Banking for expats

106 Tips for moving to France


108 Bonnes Vacances

Catherine Berry on the pitfalls of

planning a perfect picnic

110 Omelette a la Mere Poulard

The famous Normandy dish revealed by

Mary Pochez

111 Tarte au citron

Sara Neumeier shares an easy peasy

lemon squeasy tart recipe

112 Moules Marinières

Chef Spence’s delish Normandy recipe

If you love the south of France and the romantic call of the lavender fields, a visit to

the Drôme will reveal an unspoiled region that will truly delight says Lucy Pitts...

Drôme is one of the two most southerly

departments of the Rhône Alpes region,

with the Ardèche to the west and to the

south and east, the Vaucluse and the

Hautes Alpes departments.

Drôme is a department of contrasts and if

you’ve spent time travelling the steep and

craggy roads of the Ardèche gorges, then

the flat plains of Provencal Drôme in the

south makes for a dramatic change. High,

winding and mountainous roads and heady

views suddenly transform into long, flat,

straight roads and you cannot escape the

smell of the Mediterranean and the feel of


from Orange and headed east.

There’s an instant sense of calm as you

leave the traffic and bustle of the Rhône

behind you. Mont Ventoux and the Alpes

are faintly visible in the distance and in

summer the sight of mile after mile of

perfectly neat rows of lavender is

completely glorious.

Avoiding the motorway which runs north to

south, I peeled off the main road about an

hour south of Valence (the capital of the

department) and a little over half an hour

A deserted village

From the flat fields rise sporadic pinnacles;

ancient villages clinging on like giant mole

hills dot the landscape. Valaurie is a quiet

medieval village keeping guard across the

vineyards and lavender fields along with its

neighbour Roussas. Both cling to a hill side

under the watch of their respective

chateaux. Both are unbelievably quiet and

hopelessly pretty with a distinct medieval


In Roussas I decided to climb to the top to

explore the chateau which is not far from

an enormous church (enormous for the

size of the village). Roussas boasts a

population of about 350 all of whom were

notably absent on the day of my visit. I

wound my way around narrow cobbled

streets, up steps, around fortifications and

walls, and up more steps, catching

glimpses of the vineyards and lavender

fields below. There’s a flower tour you can

do around the village to discover different

roses and Mediterranean flowers, the

village specialises in honey plus a special

goats cheese called Foujou. I picked a

handful of small ripe figs, that were

bursting out of their skins with flavour and

ate them on a wall looking back out over

Drôme below. I didn’t see a single person.

I did reach the 12th century chateau which

sadly was all locked up, so I carried on my

meander around the narrow streets of the

village, discovering pretty little houses and

courtyards, stocking up on figs and

enjoying the warm September sunshine. By

the time I got back to my car, I’d been in

Roussas for some time and still not seen a

soul. This is a different side to the Provence

most of us know, as yet unspoilt by an

endless stream of tourists and I was almost

relieved to see a car in the distance.

Lavender, truffles and wine

The Domaine de Grangeneuve is a short

drive through the country from Roussas.

The family who own it have been here for

the last 50 years having returned from

Algeria. Back then the “domaine” consisted

of a derelict farm building, an over grown

plot of woodland and the remains of a

Roman villa.

Today they grow Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault

and Mourvedre for their reds and Viognier,

Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache for

their whites and are part of the AOC

Grignan Les Adhemar. Their wines are soft,

elegant and balanced and this is a

beautiful spot to get to grips with a

landscape that in addition to lavender and

wine, is famous for truffles, olives and

wonderful local produce.

Their philosophy at Grangenwuve is to be

the best possible and as you enter the

main farm courtyard, there’s a beautiful

vaulted cellar filled with oak barrels and

vintage wines of the estate. You can

discover the region in a variety of ways

from here: there are two hiking trails and

an electric bike route. They offer wine

tasting, wine workshops or a day in the

vineyards and winery. You can also enjoy

cookery and gourmand workshops or

discover local truffles – all washed down

with a fine wine of course! They also do a

fabulous picnic hamper bursting with local

products which they’ll bring to you at one

of their picnic tables and the focus here is

very much on the gourmand. After all, as

owner Henri Bour told me, “wine is a noble


A night at the mill

Drop back down and out of the clutches of

the Mistral, to the flat fields surrounding

Valaurie and head to Le Moulin de

Valaurie. This rather beautifully restored

mill sits about a mile or so from the village

and has views of it across the sunflower

fields. Arrive at dusk to watch the sun

slowly dropping behind Valaurie.

Le Moulin de Valaurie is a 3-star restaurant

and hotel and is utterly charming. It’s

managed to hold on to its rural past but

feels elegant and chic too. It’s the perfect

place to relax, unwind and refuel before you

head deeper into the delights of Drôme.


For details of Domaine de Grangeneuve

and Le Moulin de Valaurie visit:



For more information about Drôme visit:


Transport to Drôme: Valence has a TGV

station and it’s possible to get trains from

the UK or Paris: tgv.uk.voyages-sncf.com

Although valence has an airport, most

flights are to Lyon or Grenoble.

The Last Provencal Frontier


Lucy Pitts explores the dramatic beauty

of this little known part of Provence

Who doesn’t love a good French market?

It’s such a thoroughly sensual and

deliciously medieval experience, with

people stacking their produce high and

squeezing their stalls into any available

space, even if they’re clinging to the edge

of a roundabout. The market in Nyons is no

exception and it’s just one of the reasons

to visit this remote little town in Drôme, in

the south of the Rhône Alpes region.

Head east, off the beaten track

Nyons is some way off the beaten track to

the east of Valence in the north and

Avignon to the south. It feels like the last

town before the frontier and it sort of is, as

its position nestled in the Pre Alpes

foothills means there are no significant

towns beyond it for some time.

This region is famed for its olives, lavender,

fruit trees and sunflowers and as you drive

east from the Rhône, long, wide, straight,

flat roads take you through the olive groves.

There are giant terracotta olives just in case

you were in any doubt and all the time, you

can see the rugged rise of the mountains in

the hazy distance. Eventually, as the

mountains draw you gradually nearer, you

bear right and as the road starts to gently

undulate and bend, you know that you’re

nearly in Nyons.

A holiday feel

Nyons dates back to before the 5th

century and you’re welcomed by a large

open square surrounded by covered

arcades, plane and palm trees and

pavement cafés and bars. It feels

Mediterranean and in the evening the trees

are lit up, and there’s a holiday feel with

helmetless moped riders buzzing about

and old French cars that smell like they’re

belching out 2 stroke (if anyone else

remembers that smell). Because of its

position tucked right into the foot of the

hills, you’re sheltered from the Mistral and

in September it’s still warm enough to eat

lunch and dinner outside.

A climb to the top

The Thursday market starts before the sun

has crept fully into the streets. The market

seeps out from the square into the veins of

the town, including out through the Saint

Jacques gate (the only gate in the

defensive wall), into the medieval Place des

Arcades and on through a series of narrow

streets. North of the main square is the

Place Josesph Buffaven and to the side of

that you’ll notice a set of intriguing steps

and a first floor corridor looking over the

square. If you’re waiting for the market to

get into full swing, now is the time to


This part is the Rues des Grand Forts and

the old quarter that takes you up above the

town. Tiny cobbled roads, just wide enough

for a horse or a walker, take you slowly

higher and higher and you feel like you’ve

entered a secret world of picturesque but

miniature houses and streets. You catch

views across the hills in one direction as

the sun climbs and glimpses of the

scurrying shoppers at the market in the

other. You’ll also stumble across the Tour

Randonne. This 13th century chapel with its

ornamental bell tower is quite a surprise.

Back in the town and the market has

erupted into life. Nougat, apricots, roasting

chickens, olives and lavender draw you in.

The school in Nyons is right next to the

square, making the smells and sounds of

market day, part of their weekly education.

It’s no wonder this fabulous market

tradition survives.

Lavender and Romans

Nyons has a vibrant economy and apart

from olives and fruit, lavender is also a key

player. There’s a beautiful Roman bridge on

the edge of the town and just before that,

there’s a lavender distillery, the Distillerie

Bleu Provence. It’s a great opportunity to

learn more about the harvesting, distilling

process and the quality of the essential oils.

If you’re lucky enough to get a tour with the

owner, Philippe Soguel, you’ll get a rare

insight into the passion that drives lavender

production in this area and the search for

more efficient and more ecologically sound

methods of harvesting and processing. You

can also try some of their ice cream

including geranium, lavender and thyme

flavours, all of which are delicious..

Explore and enjoy

There are all sorts of reasons to linger

here. Nyons is famed for its black olives

and is an olive “appellation contrôlé”

area. You can discover the olive groves

on foot as part of the “Sentiers de

l’Olivier” and there’s also a “Jardin des

Arômes” to explore with 300 different

species of fragrant plants. Or just hire a

bike and take to the vineyards.

Nyons is a wonderful mixture of sensual

colours and flavours, history and nature.

It feels very special tucked away at the

foot of the hills and you won’t want to

leave Although it’s bustling, it feels

strangely calm and welcoming and

you're sure to want to stay as long as

you can.


Nyon Tourism: www.paysdenyons


For a tour of the lavender distillery visit:


For places to stay:

Hotel Colombet is ideally placed in

Nyons centre, not far from the tourist

office with tables and dinning

overlooking the square. www.


Transport to Drôme:

Valence has a TGV station and it’s

possible to get trains from the UK or

Paris: uk.voyages-sncf.com

Although valence has an airport, most

flights are to Lyon or Grenoble.

The Secrets of


Susana Iwase Hanson and Jeanny Cronk,

locals of Provence share their favourite,

secret places

The Var is a departement that includes Provence. It stretches from the rugged

mountains of the Verdon to the glamorous beaches of St Tropez and is within

touching distance of Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles and Cannes encompassing

different landscapes and touristic experiences. The non-coastal areas (Centre et

Haut Var) were plain, agricultural terrain until only a few decades ago and this is

reflected in the authentic architecture of the little villages built into the hillsides.

Locals Susana Iwase Hanson and Jeany Cronkselect their favourite five

destinations to visit in this beautiful area...


Bauduen at the Lac du Verdon

The great nature reserve around the Lac St

Croix is a visitors' paradise. The landscape

resembles that of the great nature parks of

North America, complete with a huge

Canyon filled with lagoon green water

called “Les Gorges du Verdon” between St

Moustiers Marie and Castellan. There are

endless walking, boating and sporting

possibilities in the area and it’s well worth a

trip, especially during the hotter period

when it feels a little more fresh and less

crowded rather than down by the coast.

Make for picturesque Bauduen, a village

by the lakeshore with its back built into the

rock. There is a little pebble beach perfect

for kids and you can hire pedaloes and

paddleboards. Take a dip in the crystal

clear waters of the Lac, which is actually a

drinking water reserve. You can also hire a

sailboat if you're feeling more energetic.

A few crèperies and cafés line the lakeshore,

but we recommend you head up to

the Café Du Midi which has a small but

lovely menu and perfect views of the lake.

The staff are friendly and kids can roam

around the boules square next to the

restaurant. The village is tiny with charming

stone houses, but has many cute and photo

worthy corners. If you’re making a day of it,

pop to the neighbouring artists village of

Moustiers-St-Marie where where you can

enjoy a culinary feast at Alain Ducasse’s

Bastide de Moustiers.

Boat Hire: location-bateau-verdon.fr

Restaurants: Café du Midi (booking

essential in high season):

+33 4 94 70 08 94 (mid range price)

Bastide de Moustiers (Moustiers St Marie,

booking essential): bastide-moustiers.com

(pricey, but nice)


At first glance Cotignac wows visitors with

its large limescale cliffs reminiscent of

ancient troglodyte living. Houses are

literally carved into the cliffs and anyone

can climb the steps that lead up to the old

cave dwellings for a 2 euros entry fee

during visiting season.

The village has 2,300 inhabitants and is

typically Provençale. The population

quadruples to over 10,000 in the summer

months when glroious sunshine, festivals,

markets and concerts lure visitors.

Our favourite restaurant, the Café du Cours,

on the Cours Gambetta, serves steak

tartare, tuna tataki, pastas, burgers, and

pizzas fresh out of the oven. Service is

always excellent and it's a great place to

people-watch especially on market day

(Tuesdays). Just a few doors down is the

Centre d'Art La Falaise where seasonal

exhibitions of regional artists can be seen.

Mirabeau Wine has a shop underneath

where you can sample award winning rosé

and buy beautifully selected locally

produced home wares.

More information about Cotignac www.


Tourist office: la-provence-verte.net/


Café du Cours, 23 Cours Gambetta

Mirabeau Wine Showroom: www.


3 Estagnol Beach, Bormes les Mimosas

Bormes les Mimosas is situated on the

stretch of coastline connecting Toulon and

St Tropez and is home to swanky villas and

Châteaux of the rich and famous plus

some of the best beaches in France. Our

favourite is Estagnol. The coastal road,

called Route de Léoube, which runs

between La Londe-les-Maures and

Bormes-les-Mimosas is spectacular –

you’ll spot huge and ancient cork tree

forets and vineyards that literally touch the


There are two famous beaches on this

stretch of road, both with private parking

(paid): Le Pellegrin and L’Estagnol. We

prefer Estagnol for it’s a beautiful bay with

clear waters, which are not too deep for

small children, lined by beautiful old pine

trees. It’s small and gets busy, so avoid

peak times or plan to arrive early or late.

“L’Estagnol” is the perfect beachside

Restaurant, not fancy like in St Tropez, but

good food including lots of choice for little

ones. It’s fun, colourful and efficient and

just behind the dunes of the beach.

Off-season it’s a great idea to walk the

coastal footpath that runs behind the

beaches through the dunes where you

breathe in the scent of sea salt and the

flora and fauna of this protected area. If

you’re not too sandy and tired, pop into

Château Léoube for a Rosé Tasting in an

extraordinarily beautiful setting.

Restaurant L’Estagnol (booking advised):


Château Léoube: www.chateauleoube.com



Tourtour is like a village in the sky, set on

top of a windy hill (elevation 900 meters)

with sweeping views all the way out to

Frejus and the Mediterranean with the

Mount St Victoire between.

The population is just under 500 but the

locals are a tight knit group who put on one

of the most amazing festivals known as the

Fête de l’Oeuf (egg Festival) around Easter

every year.

Tourtour is listed as one of the most

beautiful villages in France and is well

worth a visit. Take a walk through tiny

streets to admire the well-restored village

houses with their manicured gardens. The

restaurants serve simple yet freshly made

food which of course goes rather well with a

nice glass of chilled rosé. It’s about a 20

minutes’ drive from Cotignac, via either

Aups or Villecroze which, by the way, are

also both villages worth a detour should

time allow.

All the cafés and bars here serve casual

food (great frites at La Farigoulette) but

there is also the more distinguished “La

Table” restaurant with one Michelin star

where you will find dishes like sautéed Ray

or Guinea fowl. Prices here start at 28 euros

per person).

More information: Tourtour Tourist Office



St Maximin is a mid size town surrounded

by two impressive mountain ranges and

boasts the largest Basilica in Provence.

The cathedral is surrounded by a beautiful

cloister complex. The small, charming

roadsare lined with cafés and shops.

A fantastic food and local produce market

takes place every Wednesday, which

attracts stallholders from far and wide. The

Café de la Renaissance is situated in a

good spot with a raised terrace at the Place

Malherbe. The owner trained at a nearby

Michelin star restaurant and by all accounts

has transferred some of his skills to this

more relaxed setting.

Café de la Renaissance, 6, Place Malherbe


About the authors: Susana Iwase Hanson runs the popular Provence Living website and

Facebook Page. Jeany Cronk is co-founder of award-winning Mirabeau Wines; she writes

widely on the Southern French lifestyle and has been featured regularly in the international

press. Both live in Cotignac.

Nice is a city that honours it's gastronomic

heritage - it's one of only two cities in

France to do so. Lyon often called the

gastronomic capital of France, is the other


Lyon had better look out though because

Nice is catching up and if you ask a Nicois

they will of course assure you they haven't

just equalled but overtaken their

gastronomic rival.

Fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish and a strong

Italian influence - after all the border is just

20 minutes by car - make the sunny

cuisine of Nice full of flavour.

"People here are in love with good food

- it's in their DNA"

says Italian born Caterina who's now a

Nice local, what they call a ‘Nicoise de

coeur’. "In Nice there is respect for the

landscape, the geography, the season...we

learn how to cook with fresh produce when

it's available".

There are two big markets in Nice, the

famous Cours Saleya, a stone’s throw from

the Mediterranean Sea and the”local’s

market” at Liberation.

The market at Cours Saleya

Colourful stands of local Socca and

Pissaladière will tempt you to stop for a

nibble. Homemade jams, exotic spices,

local fish, organic honeys, juicy fruits, olive

oil, sea salt and lush vegetables will have

you inhaling the scents and flavours of

Nice. And all in the most perfect setting,

lined with gorgeous pastel coloured

buildings, thriving cafés and, glimpsed

through the arched entries to this square of

paradise, the blue waters of the sea.

Open Tuesday to Saturday 07.30 – 18.00;

Mondays are about antiques and Sundays

are reserved for the flower market.

Marche Liberation

The indoor market is a hub of activity as

locals throng to buy the freshest fish,

fabulous produce and just baked bread. A

couple of kilometres inland, it tends to be a

little cheaper here and much more homely

with a friendly little café where people stop

for a seriously wake-me-up coffee or a

Pastis before pushing on to complete their

shopping or take it home.

Opening hours Tuesday – Sunday 06.00-


Cuisine Nissarde

Taking advantage of the wonderful array of

produce, a number of restaurants which

specialise in the Nicois gastronomy have

been recognised for their special

contribution. It’s a way of creating flavours

and tastes that has taken centuries to

define and refine and no visit to the city is

complete without a taste. You’ll find the

‘cuisine Nissarde' label at around 16

restaurants and you can get details from

the tourist office.

Eat yourself to a standstill

Now I know what you expect of me so, of

course I’ve tried several restaurants on

your behalf in Nice and here are some of

my favourites:

A Buteghinna - lush lunch venue

Sophie, Marcelle and Evelyn have a deep

love of tradition and food. This led the

three friends to open a tiny restaurant in

old Nice back in 1992. They had no kitchen,

just a couple of electric hobs. They made

traditional foods and the locals loved it.

Over the years they've upgraded to a tiny

restaurant that seats 10 maximum indoors

and outdoor seating for about 20. They

also have a take-away counter and locals

stop by to pick up a snack like "maman

used to make".

Marcelle makes the desserts and believe

me, you want to leave room for something

sweet. Sophie makes the savoury food and

Evelyne serves and keeps everyone happy

with her beaming smile.

Blink as you pass their place, and you'll

miss it but you can’t avoid the delicious

smells that waft out the door. They don't

want their business to grow bigger, it isn’t

about making lots of money for them, it’s

about good food.

"If we grow too big, we may lose our

passion" says Marcelle. "This is home

cooking - it's personal". It's also absolutely

delicious. It's a Nice secret, one that the

locals know but most tourists don't notice

tucked away on a beautiful alley opinion

Old Nice. This is food like your grandma

cooked if you were born in the south of

France, Socca chips, tiny delicate pastries

filled with seasonal veg, tourte de blette, a

sweet tart made with, of all things – the

vegetable chard (it works by the way,


They cook everything fresh in the tiny

kitchen and only open for lunch. If you

want a true taste of Nice, a memory to

cherish and an absolutely amazing eating

experience accompanied with good

humour and a big smile then head to A

Buteghinna -which means in Nicois "the

little place" and don't forget to book your

table, it's very popular!

A Buteghinna 11 rue du marché

La Storia - the perfect location

Its location in the heart of old Nice makes

La Storia a popular venue pretty much all

year round. At No. 1 Cours Saleya it doesn’t

get much better than this. In its touristic

setting, service may not be speedy as it can

get very busy – everyone wants to sit in this

lovely corner of the market square. If you’re

in a rush, let the waiter know. Better still,

take your time, enjoy the sun, the scenery

and people watching while you indulge in

some tasty dishes which are not expensive.

Moules, pizza, pasta are pretty good and

with a 3 course menu at around 20 Euros –

it’s a bit of a steal.


Sentimi - will make you want to move

to Nice

Sentimi serves Italian influenced food and

it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s not

a touristy type place, this is where the

locals go because they know the food is

top notch and not at all expensive.

The courtyard setting with a huge olive tree

growing inside the restaurant is absolutely

lovely. The terrace seating on Place

Garibaldi couldn’t be nicer. The menu is

fabulous, I wanted to try absolutely

everything on it and found it really hard to

behave myself! I asked the waiter what the

speciality is and he recommended ottima a

type of pizza. One word. Memorable. Okay

more words – completely scrumptious. I’ve

been to Italy many times, my family are

from Milan and I have never had a better

pizza anywhere. Go here on an empty

stomach and make the most of it. I’d

recommend you make a booking, they do

speak English so if you don’t speak French,

not a problem. I could actually move to

Nice just so that I could go to this

restaurant more often.

Tip: Don’t leave without having the ice

cream – it’s icy heaven.

2-4 Place Garibaldi Facebook page:


Restaurant Influence - fabulous food

A relative newcomer to the Nice food scene

the restaurant has made an impact very

quickly thanks to the young chef’s truly

superb menu. A graduate of the Paul

Bocuse institute (the most revered chef in

France), everything is home made and has

a secret ingredient – passion. It must have

been very hard work to get this new eaterie

on the map but the locals love it and no

wonder, the chef’s deft touch and

innovative dishes are knock out. The menu

is not expensive but the food is of the

highest quality, tasty and delicious - you’ll

want to go back to time and time again

Influence-nice.fr 31 rue Bonaparte

Website Nice Tourism for more foodie


Va va voom to the Vendée

to visit an authentic and

very special part of France

Lucy Pitts and her three children discover the area

has oodles of of charm and loads to to do for families

There’s a little pocket of France which remains one of its hidden gems

says Lucy Pitts who has a home in the area. It hovers across four

departments, right on the cusp of where north meets south. The area

is well served by airports and motorways yet is still distinctly rural in

feel and as one local described it to me recently (as he apologised for

not speaking English), it’s still very French.

It’s a place where cuisses de grenuoilles

(frogs legs), escargot (snails) and

andouillette (a sausage not for the faint

hearted made of, amongst other things,

intestines and sometimes tripe) are still

very much in evidence on local lunch

menus. Shops shut for lunch, restaurants

have a habit of shutting for August, some

schools still close on a Wednesday and a

few of the locals speak in a heavy patois

(well my neighbour there does at least and

I wonder if I’ll ever understand him). It’s also

a place where one minute there are rolling

green hills and thick, lush woodland and

then in the blink of an eye, you’re driving

across burnt orange planes dodging the

melon stalls. Sunflowers morph into

vineyards, and huge lazy rivers transform

into a vast network of orderly canals

making up one of the largest marshlands in


The area sits neatly between La Rochelle,

Nantes and Poitiers across the

departments of the Vendée, the Deux

Sevres, the Charente and the Vienne. It’s

diverse, quirky, occasionally infuriating and

surprisingly lacking in tourists (well ok,

there’s a few but not compared to other


Almost in the centre of this quiet little

triangle is the renaissance market town of

Fontenay le Comte which stretches down

in a gloriously straight line from a lofty,

green square at the top of the town, across

the River Vendée and then up again. It’s a

little sleepy unless you arrive on market

day but if you head to the other end of

town and climb up to the Donjon des

Cimes there are amazing views across the

roof tops as well as huge enclosed nets up

in the trees for the kids to play on. It’s in

Fontenay that you first start to get a taste

of the south and it’s not a bad place to be

based to explore.

To the west of Fontenay by about an hour

you have the Atlantic coast with its seaside

towns, the Bay of Aiguillon (home to mud

flats, salt marshes and hundreds of

thousands of migratory birds) and Les

Sables d’Olonne. To the north lie the rolling

hills of the ‘bocage’ and the forest of

Mervent. 4,000 hectares of oak, chestnut

and beech surround a vast lake here, the

result of damming the 2 rivers that flow

through the forest (the Vendée and the

Mère). Ravines, panoramic views, fortified

villages, wildlife and 200km of walks are

the order of the day here and make

Mervent a spellbinding place.

Top left: Fort Boyard, just off La

Rochelle; far left: the Forst of Mervent,

left Fonteay; centre: roof tops of

Fontenay; above: Mervent

The landscape south of Fontenay is

dramatic in contrast; flat and hot with a

Mediterranean feel. Yet as you head south

east, it all changes again, and you find

yourself in the pretty and ingenious world

of the part of the Marais Poitevin known as

the Green Venice. With canal side towns,

ancient abbeys and intricate, arboreal

waterways, it was all created by man out of

what was once little more than a silty bay.

It’s not just the whirlwind of changes in

landscape that makes this little corner so

compelling. Dotted amongst the cornfields,

valleys and rivers there are all sorts of

interesting things going on. The world

famous Puy du Fou theme park for a start,

is to the north. Here you’ll find historical

enactments on a dramatic scale: Viking

boats rise out of the waters, fires stream

out of a moving chateau and huge birds of

prey swoop so close their feet almost

scratch your cheek. You know it’s not an

ordinary theme park when you’re warned

that dangerous animals are in amongst the

audience and not to eat while you’re

watching the show. And that’s before you

get to the gladiators!

Further south there’s the Indian Forest of

Adventures (tree top adventures taken to

the next level) and in a similar vein half an

hour north of Fontenay there’s the Parc

D’Adventure; high octane Go Ape at half

the price. There’s also a zoo at Mervent

where you can walk with some of the

animals, cycle riding in abundance, gentle

water sports or a spot of fishing.

Left: Futuroscope;

right: giant

elephant at the

Island of the


Nantes; below:

happy holiday


In Nantes, you have the Les Machines de

l’île, a fascinating experiment in the old

dockyards which will have you riding on a

12 metre high mechanical elephant or a 4

metre ant and sailing round on a merry go

round in a cranking, metal crustacean. The

vision of two artists, the concept is

described “as visualising a travel-throughtime

world at the crossroads of the

'imaginary worlds' of Jules Verne and the

mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci”.

And that undoubtedly captures the spirit of

your day here.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum and

just a couple of hour’s drive to the east is

Futuroscope, with all that is modern and

high tech. There’s a new water park too,

ancient abbeys perched on marooned little

islands and chateaux to explore in


But despite the dozen or more major

attractions in this area, it doesn’t feel busy.

You’ll get a table without booking at lunch

and your 2 hours will never be rushed.

You’ll find history hand in hand with

adventure, nature to suit every palate and

activities for every generation and speed.

I’ve visited this area in all seasons over the

years and I don’t travel light. As often as

not, I’m to be found to be travelling with

three small children, two huge dogs, a

couple of elderly parents and their small

dog with mental health issues It’s a region

therefore that has to satisfy everyone’s

many demands (including my not

infrequent need for solitude). And in all the

many times that I’ve visited, I don’t

remember it ever to have been found

lacking. Each trip, it offers up something

new and compelling, a different pace, a

different atmosphere or challenge.

With its Mediterranean micro climate and

laid back pace, this year I explored Green

Venice and the Marais Poitevin, La Rochelle

and then Futuroscope for the first time, and

once again, this little corner of France didn’t


Key places of interest:

Award wiinning and fabulous theme


Puy du Fou.com

One of the most popular theme parks

in France:


Indian Forest of Adventures:


Huge fun at the Parc d’Adventure:


Magnificent, mesmerising Mechanical

machines at Nantes:


Tourist Office:


Outdoor adventures in


Rupert Parker discovers the

sporting delights of this picturesque

alpine area...

Samoëns is a pretty “ville fleurie” in the

Haute-Savoie region in south-eastern

France. It sits in the Vallée du Giffre, in the

French Alps, and is only an hour by car

from Geneva. Long a winter skiing

destination, it’s also great in the summer

and I’m here to try out some of its many

activities. On offer is everything from river

rafting to paragliding and I’ve got 24 hours

in this lovely part of France to get a taste.

It’s a glorious sunny day and we start off

early with a mountain bike tour along the

Giffre River. This is where we’ll be rafting

later and I can’t help but notice that it’s

doing a very good impression of a raging

torrent, the result of the previous day’s rain.

We follow the river until it enters a narrow

steep-sided gorge, and then climb above it.

After another hour of easy climbing we turn

round and make our way back down to

lunch by the Lac aux Dames. There’s easy

kayaking here but I’m still worrying about

the white water.

After ploughing through a huge foie-gras

salad, probably not the wisest choice for

bouncing on the water, I get equipped.

Wetsuit, life jacket and helmet are all

essential and we are soon on our way to the

launch site with our inflatable dinghy. We

each get a paddle and our guide shows us

how to use them – there are four

commands – Paddle Forward, Paddle Back,

Stop and Get Down! The first three are

obvious but the last is an order to sink to

our knees and prepare for an imminent

collision. This is too much for one of us who

suddenly loses it: “I don’t want to be

responsible for killing you all” she screams.

We talk her round and soon we’re floating

down the river at great speed.

The trick is to wedge your feet in the gap

between the floor and sides of the boat so

you don’t get thrown out, but one guy is

soon in the water. Fortunately he doesn’t

lose his paddle and we manage to pull him

back in. As we approach the narrow gorge,

the guide pulls us into the shallows and

goes off to inspect. He declares it safe but

only if we work as team, not something

we’ve managed so far. It’s very narrow, the

water is flowing fast and we’re constantly

crashing into the rocks and spinning

round. We lose someone else in the water

but he’s quickly hauled back to safety and

we make it to the end of the ride without

further mishap.

As I climb onto the bank, every bone in my

body is aching. There’s more fun to come,

however, as we’re told that conditions are

perfect for para-gliding, but we must go

now. The women opt out, so it’s left to the

three men, all pretending to each other that

they’re not frightened. In fact, we’re not

going to be flying solo, the plan is for each

of to hang on to an experienced pilot in

what’s known as tandem flight.

We’re driven up the mountain to 1600m

with our flying companions and disguise

our fear by exchanging pleasantries.

Conditions are perfect, no wind, 100%

visibility and good thermals. They tell me it

can be cold in the air and ask if I need a

jacket, but I’m sweating in anticipation. I

ask my pilot Adrian how long he’s been

doing this and he says 15 years, although

he looks young to me. There’s no briefing,

no forms to sign, and we’re just told to

keep running until we lift off. We’re

harnessed together and I put on my

helmet, then told “go”.

I’m running downhill, worrying whether I’m

going too fast or too slow, but suddenly the

land falls away before me and I’m airborne.

We’re soon above the trees and, even

though I’m not good at heights, I realise

there’s nothing I can do, as the pilot is in

complete charge. We’re circling, trying to

find thermals, and climb higher, experiencing

some turbulence. I’m told there’s

nothing to worry about unless I start

feeling sick. Apparently, at this point, some

people experience severe nausea with the

expected results and it can’t be pleasant

cleaning up afterwards.

We keep spiralling upwards and I see one

of my friends way above me. The views are

tremendous down the valley and I begin to

feel I could stay up for ever. Indeed, in

conditions like this it’s normal to travel for

miles, harnessing the thermals to soar over

the mountains. After about 45 minutes, I

begin to hanker for solid ground and am

relieved to find we’re starting to descend.

On the way down, I’m offered the controls

Rupert has a bird's eye view of the valley

from his sky high position

but I politely decline - better to leave it to

the professionals.

As the valley floor comes nearer, there’s a

tractor mowing the grass dangerously

close to the landing site. Not to worry, my

pilot can land on a dime, but he does

instruct me to stand up immediately he

gives me the order. I see the freshly mown

grass rushing towards me, I’m worrying

about twisting my ankle, or smashing my

feet, and it looks like we’re going too fast.

He tells me to stand, I stay sitting and land

flat on my bottom, much to his disgust. I’m

just relieved to be down, glad to have

survived intact and pleased I’ve done

something I’ve always dreamt of.

Find information about Samoen's summer

activities: samoens.com

Hotel Les Glaciers makes a comfortable

base: hotel-les-glaciers-samoens.com

Pop in SUPER75 to get a 75% discount on sign up




Paris is the most visited Tourist destination in the world, it’s probably the most

photographed too! And yet, we never tire of seeing pictures of the beautiful city of light.

We're loving these pictures taken in Paris by photographer John Woods from Madison,

Wisconsin, US. He and wife Nancy say any time is good to take a photo in Paris but John

especially likes "getting up early and walking down to the Seine to capture Notre Dame,

the bridges across the river, the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Montmartre, the gardens,

the streets, the people, the monuments—really just about anywhere."



ight: Arc de


elow apero

hour -



Montmartre, the arty & fabulous

hill top village of Paris...


Left: the

arcades of

Place des






Recommended restaurant in Paris: Moulin

de la Gallette for its history, fab food and

friendly service. Website:


Recommended Hotel in the centre of Paris:

Hotel Marignan for its location just off the

Champs-Elysées, gorgeous rooms, friendly

staff and for making guests feel welcome

and brilliantly looked after.

Website: hotelmarignaneleseesparis.com

Top left: Window at

Notre Dame Cathedral;

Above: gargoyles of


More on Paris, just click to read:

Top ten Paris visits for first timers

5 Brilliant free museums in Paris

5 off the beaten track things to do in Paris,

including the house of a man who appears

in a Harry Potter story!

Rue Mouffetard - the oldest street in Paris

Marty Neumeier reveals how to make friends in France over a game of bo

Anton crouches, motionless. He cups a

scuffed metal ball in his right hand, his face

the picture of concentration. Seconds go

by. A minute. The other players are silent

as they wait for his throw. Then, without

moving the rest of his body so much as a

centimetre, he turns his hand over and flips

the ball into the air. It floats there as if the

law of gravity has been suspended. When

the ball comes down with a thud, it rolls to

within inches of the marker.

Robert shakes his head. “Boule devant,

boule d’argent.” A front ball is a money ball.

It can easily block opponents from getting

closer to the marker.

Friday night is boules night in the village.

The official name of boules is pétanque,

meaning “feet fixed.” There’s no difference

between pétanque and boules, but boules

is one syllable shorter, so in our book it

wins. The boules court is a flat, sandy patch

in back of the village salle des fêtes, the

town’s banquet hall. Mature trees surround

the court, and floodlights hang from the

trees to illuminate late games.

Anyone can show up and get on a team.

Regulars are Anton and Sophie, Robert and

Jeannine, Jean-Pierre and Josette, and Peter

and Christine. The four couples are usually

joined by Gilbert, Marco, and Baako, older

men who live nearby. Then there’s Aimée, a

sassy teenager who arrives by motorcycle

and cries “Oh, putain!” whenever she

misses a shot. But the de facto leader of

the group is Jean-Pierre. We’re not exactly

sure why this is. He’s short and shy with a

round belly held in place by a sleeveless

undershirt. Not the classic attributes of a

leader—but leader he is.

oules must have a pattern of lines that

distinguishes them from those of the other

players. In the village, players tell their

boules apart by the number of scratches

and the color of the rust.

I was delighted when Sara gave me a set of

boules for my birthday. Yet whenever I use

them I feel slightly embarrassed. The best

players have boules that are dark and

rough with age; mine are still as shiny as

silver dollars. When everyone’s boules are

thrown, mine stand out from the others,

usually somewhere outside the grouping. I

feel this is a metaphor.


The objective of the game is simple: To get

your boules closer to the marker ball, or

cochonnet, than those of your opponent.

(Cochonnet is French for “piglet,” named

for its smaller size; some are even pink.)

There are two sets of rules for achieving

the objective: the official rules and the

village rules.

For example, the official rules call for no

more than three players per team. In the

village, it’s come one, come all. If people

show up late, Jean-Pierre just sticks them

on a team and gives the other team a

couple of extra throws.

In the official rules, players are required to

toss their boules from within a perfect

circle drawn exactly 50 centimetres in

diameter. In the village, players throw from

behind a scuff mark made by Josette with

the heel of her shoe.

The official rules say that each player’s

Josette steps up to the line with a boule in

each hand. She’s the polar opposite of

Anton. Anton plays like a professional—

muscular, precise, strategic. Josette just

walks up to the line with a giggle and

tosses the ball. If the throw happens to be a

crucial one, she’ll stick out her tongue for

added accuracy. Surprisingly, Anton’s and

Josette’s styles seem to be equally


Josette’s first ball lands just to the side of

Anton’s.“Merde, pas la!” She throws her

arms up in disbelief. Her second ball is right

on target. It nudges Anton’s slightly to the

left, replacing it with her own and holding

the point for the team. She does a little

victory dance, chubby arms and legs flying

every which way. “Pas mal,” says Anton,

grudgingly. Next up is Baako. Baako and

Marco originally came from Italy, so they

speak a sort of “Fritalian.”

“Troppo fort!” says Marco, as he throws his

boule too hard, sending it past the

cochonnet. He mutters something

decidedly un-French, and casts his eyes

heavenward. Taking a deep breath, he goes

back to the line. His second ball falls short.

“Oh, la la. Maintenant troppo faible!” Too


Josette says that the ball probably hit a

caillou—a pebble. “Ce n’est pas de ta faute,”

she says, touching his arm. He seems

reassured to think the pebble may be at

fault.Peter goes next. He’s tall and thin

compared to the French, and looks more

like cricket bowler than a boules player.

He’s about to go into shooting mode.

Shooting is a strategy in which the player

throws the ball hard enough to knock an

opponent’s boule away from the

cochonnet, or the cochonnet away from an

opponent’s boule.

Just as Peter is about to throw, Robert

emits a barely audible clucking noise. Peter

stops in mid-windup. He puts his hands on

his hips, tilts his head, and stares at Robert.

Their running joke is that Peter turns

chicken whenever he throws. Robert looks

away and feigns innocence.

Peter winds up again, and Robert clucks

again. This time Peter follows through and

his boule misses Josette’s by a mile,

skittering off into the trees. Robert can’t

contain a guffaw.

On his second throw, Peter is ready for him,

and he knocks Josette’s boule off to the

right with an explosive crack, leaving the

cochonnet open.

Up comes Marco, a man so old that he

doesn’t actually walk. He simply rocks back

and forth while leaning forward. His

throwing style is a miracle of efficiency: he

stands ramrod straight under his sailor hat,

imagining the course of the boule; then he

opens his hand. The boule rolls down his

fingers, onto the ground, and continues to

the target as if pulled by a magnet.

This time it rolls right up to the cochonnet

and holds the point.

Jeannine is the last to go. Her throwing style

could be described as no style at all. Most

players lead with the back of the hand as

they lob the boule into the air, but Jeannine

just tosses it out there underhand.

Her boule lands short of Marco’s, then rolls

up close to it. So close, in fact, that all the

players rush up to see who has won the

round. Jean-Pierre stares at the two balls

and the cochonnet. He squints and rubs his

chin. He looks at Robert, who is walking

from one side to the other to get a better

view. Sophie says it’s Jeannine. Christine

thinks it’s Marco. Members of both teams

are down on their haunches to get a better

look at the situation. Opinions are running

about fifty-fifty. There’s no resolution in


Simple rules of boules

The game is played between two teams of 1, 2

or 3 players - singles or doubles.

To start a coin is generally tossed to decide

who begins the game and has the right to

place the cochonnet (the small ball - literally

piglet). You can also use an a stone or cork

from a bottle.

A circle is drawn by the winning team of the

coin toss. Players must not step outside while

throwing. The circle should be about 0.5m in

diameter. The cochonnet is tossed between

4m and 8m, or 6 to 10 paces from the circle in

any direction.

A player from the coin toss winning team

throws the first boule. The aim is to get it as

close as possible to the “cochonnet” without

touching it. Both feet must stay together on

the ground and within the circle while

throwing and until the boule has landed.

A player from the other team steps into the

circle and aims to throw a boule closer to the

cochonnet than their opponent, or to knock the

opponent’s boule away. You must throw within

1 minute of your turn starting.

More details on the rules of playing on The

“Attention!” I shout. I’m standing just

outside the group, waving my iPhone. On

the screen is the Pétanque-ometer, a clever

little app that David Stuart told me about.

You hold your phone over the cochonnet,

and the app draws concentric rings to

show precisely which ball is closest. I push

my way into the middle of the group.

“Regardez,” I say, lining up the phone with

the boules. The whole group leans in. They

look at the phone. They look at me.

Then Robert starts clucking. Low at first,

then louder. Soon everyone is imitating a

chicken. “Look at the screen,” I say, “It’s

Jeannine. Jeannine is closest!” The

clucking gives way to out-and-out


“Merci, monsieur iPhone,” says Robert. He

turns to the crowd: “Mesdames et

messieurs, c’est Steve Jobs!”

Aimée runs over to a lavender bush and

breaks off a length of stem. She runs back

and stretches it from the cochonnet to one

boule, and then to the other. She looks up

at Jean-Pierre.

“C’est Marco!” he cries. The players nod

their heads in agreement. Jean-Pierre looks

at me pityingly, and says I can throw out

the marker to start the next round.

“Allez, monsieur iPhone,” he says, handing

me the cochonnet.

Eileen and Sara beam from the sidelines.

We were in.

Marty Neumeier is the author of Beginning

French by Les Americains. Find out more at

his website: Beginning French

Zoom in on:


Janine Marsh visits Burgundy and

falls in love with its many charms

Photo: Dave Fenwick

Photo: Chateau Tanlay, Yonne

Burgundy has it all: glorious countryside, vineyards, amazing gastronomy, a

fabulous history, picturesque villages, awesome towns, the Burgundy Canal and

an incredible capital city – Dijon. There are also more chateaux in this region than

any other in France many of them available to the public as hotels with well

stocked wine cellars, gourmet restaurants and swimming pools.

Wine, chateaux, gastronomy!

Of the hundreds of reasons why you will

fall in love with Burgundy, or to give it its

French name Bourgogne, and be tempted

to visit again and again - these three stand

out for me: the wonderful wines - some of

the best in the world; the plethora of

delicious cheeses and the astonishingly

beautiful chateaux.

Not to mention the diversity of the local

landscape, the chance to stay in a fabulous

chateau, amazing heritage, picturesque

villages, the waterways, the peacefulness of

the countryside, amazing cycle routes, the

friendly people, delicious gastronomy and a

city that's quite simply extraordinary -


Dijon Capital of Bourgogne-


The Dukes of Burgundy were once more

powerful than the royal family of France.

Hugely wealthy, they were patrons of the

arts and spent fortunes on making Dijon as

beautiful as possible. An enormous palace,

wide open squares, medieval streets with

gorgeous mansions – their legacy is there

on every corner.

Wander round Dijon town and soak up the

beauty of this historic town that bears so

many traces of its illustrious and very

prosperous past. Pop into a modern clothes

shop and discover an ancient well left over

from the 15th Century. Dip down an

alleyway and find a hidden medieval house

that looks like it was built yesterday.

The unique and free to enter Museum of

Burgundy Life in Dijon has an eclectic and

rather wonderful mix of objects from giant

snail sculptures to a clock in the shape of

the Eiffel Tower. The recreations of shops

and their contents from the 19th and early

20th Centuries are truly superb.

Dine out in Dijon

Rest your feet and people watch at Place

Francois Rude, encircled by cafés and bars

whose tables spill onto the pedestrianised

square. A lively place named after the

Dijon-born sculptor of “La Marseilleise”

which graces the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The locals call it Place du Bareuzai thanks

to the statue of a naked man treading

grapes; the name means ”red stockings”

(from bas rosé) which the winegrowers had

after crushing grapes with their feet.

There’s a huge choice of places to eat in

Dijon but I really love Les Oenophiles

restaurant for its 15th century pigeonnier,

17th century dining room, 100% home

cooked food and incredible tasting boeuf

bourguignon, the region’s signature dish.

A perfect Day in Dijon

My perfect day would start with a visit to

Dijon market lapping up the atmosphere,

followed by coffee in the square with a

nibble on a nonette, the local gingerbread

cake. Then I'd browse the second hand

book stalls, have lunch in the Place

Francois Rude and wander the shops and

museums in the afternoon. After which I

reckon it would be time for an apero at the

hipster houseboat Peniche Cancale and

then dinner at Les Oenophiles.

The Eiffel designed market

at Dijon

The beautiful covered market at Dijon was

designed by no less than the great Gustave

Eiffel, creator of the famous tower in Paris

who was born in this city.

Burgundians love their food and in this

market you will really see, smell and taste

the love that goes into preparing it. From

bread with little heart shaped ends to snail

cake, divine chocolate nibbles and

amazing cheese such as Epoisses

produced in a little village of the same

name - all washed down with locally

produced wine such as Chablis.

There is a café in the centre of the market

that simply oozes joie de vivre as happy

customers sit and chat… and eat.

Beaune the winetastic town

From Dijon you can take a train or tram to

Beaune for some serious wine tasting in

the home of the famous and really quite

magnificent Hospices de Beaune.

It’s a pretty town where they take their wine

seriously. When one of the locals

discovered that robbers had been

tunnelling from her wine cellar into the local

bank, she called the robbers “idiots” for

ignoring her wine collection which she felt

was far more worthy than the gold or

money in the bank!

The Hospices de Beaune was a cutting

edge hospital in the 1400s and incredibly

parts of it stayed open until the 1990s. It is

a fascinating place to visit with a fabulous

collection of paintings and THAT roof.

Useful Sites

Burgundy Tourism:


Chateaux in Burgundy:


Great activities for families

in Burgundy

Enjoy a picnic along the famous Burgundy

canal, better yet, take a fabulous cruise and

enjoy it in true style on a barge - I did it with

Captain Jason and Chef Dawn of the Barge

Saroche, one of my best ever holidays.

Cycle – there are 800 km of cycle routes

and 5 major routes. One of the most fun

and relaxing ways to see the area by bike is

with Headwater Holidays. They provide

bikes, ferry your luggage around, book you

into restaurants and hotels and make sure

you get to see the best of the region

without having to work hard at it.

A must-see is the Chateau of Guedelon,

Yonnne, a medieval castle being built in the

21st Century. (Open March – November)

Auxerre Tourist Office:


Don’t miss

Chateauneuf- en-Auxois is a fairy-tale

looking picture perfect hill top Burgundian

country town. It overlooks the Burgundy

Canal and is officially one of the “Plus

Beaux Villages de France”. A great place to

spend a relaxing day chilling out though

there is not a lot to do other than wander,

wonder and eat - the views alone are worth

the detour.

Auxerre: a recognised city of "art and

History" and one of the most beautiful

cities in France. The medieval architecture,

half-timbered houses and wiggly streets

are a window to the past. There are lots of

great restaurants and bars, museums and

tourist attractions plus the 1000 year old

majestic Abbey Saint-Germain.


The North of France, or Le Nord, is a region

that won't fail to delight your senses, no

matter what your age says Justine Halifax…

The area is brimming with character, history

and fun activities. Whether it's gastronomy,

the great outdoors, architecture or taking a

close look at the Great War battlefields

which drives your itinerary, you’ll certainly

not be disappointed when you pay this

fabulous area a visit.

My family spent three wonderful nights at a

magnificent property called Manoir du

Bolgaro at Morbeque, near Hazebrouck. It’s

an impressive, luxurious getaway, which I

highly recommend for a get together with

family or friends.

A manor house dating back to 1540, set on

a huge, beautiful, secluded swathe of land,

this amazing, three storey gite, steeped in

character, can sleep up to 12 people. Eager

to enjoy and soak up as much of this

atmospheric property as we could, we

chose to eat in most nights, but we

ventured out one night at an amazing

estaminet that was recommended by Eric

and Francoise, the lovely couple who run Le

Manoir du Bolgaro.

The Estaminet de la Longue Croix, just a 10

minute drive away, is a popular, cosy and

family friendly restaurant brimming with

historical and regional character. There are

old artefacts hanging from the ceiling and

they serve tasty regional fare here. You can

even play traditional Flemish wooden

games at your table - provided for your

enjoyment! I highly recommend you try the

roti porc and "The Welsh". The service was

fantastic, the restaurant was very

atmospheric and welcoming for families.

There were nice little touches for the

children - a glow stick bracelet with pudding

and place mats to colour in between meals.

But, be warned, this is so popular that

tables must be booked a couple of weeks

in advance so plan ahead before you travel.


There are many reminders of WW1,

including museums and a host of tourist

attractions. These include the famous

Cistercian abbey at Mont des Cats on

Flanders hill – where you can buy the beer

brewed by the monks who reside there to

this day; the towns of Bailleul, Cassel and

Bergues; the city of Lille, where there’s lots

to visit or you can just sit and soak up the

atmosphere; famous Flemish gardens of

Mont des Récollets, Cassel; les gigottos

automates for children in Esquelbecq –

and there’s also a small craft brewery here

that can be viewed by appointment called

Brasserie Thiriez.

In Dunkerque there’s the Museum of the

Port, which includes climbing on board a

couple of docked ships; UNESCO Listed

58-metre St Eloi belfry, and Mémorial du

Souvenir, where you can learn about WW2

Operation Dyanamo; for a trip to the

seaside you are close to Bray-Dunes; if you

want to simply enjoy the outdoors then

there’s the Avesnois regional nature park.

To find out more about Maroilles cheese

that the region is also famous for, take an

insightful tour at Ferme du Ponts des

Loups at Saint-Aubin, which includes

sampling its cheese-y delights before

buying some to take home.

The first known taste of Maroilles dates

back to the 7th century. It comes from the

village of the same name in the Avesnois,

Nord, where the abbey monks transformed

milk into in cheese. It's the only AOC

(appellation d'origine contrôlée - a

recognised mark of quality) from the Nord.

More than 4000 tons are eaten in France

each year!

If your family that loves the great outdoors

then Val Joly is the place to head for. Just

90 minutes from Lille, the family orientated

resort is nestled in a picturesque natural

park surrounding the largest lake north of

Paris. It boasts a host of kids activities

ranging from water sports, like windsurfing,

sailing, canoes, catamarans, electric and

pedal boats. There's a great tree climb

adventure; an equestrian centre where you

can take a pony ride, riding lessons or a full

day ride; trampolines; an aquarium;

archery; laser tag; mini golf; bike and

scooter hire; fishing; craft activities; or you

could simply enjoy local nature walks. Our

home while there was a cosy wooden

cottage, on the edge of the lake.


For more on Val Joly visit www.val-joly.com

Website for: Manoir du Bolgarno

Recommended restaurant: When staying at

Le Manoir du Bolgaro don't miss the

Estaminet de Longue Croix in Hondeghem.

Traditional Flemish Games: If you would

like to buy any local Flemish wooden

games, Justine recommends artisan

carpenter Philip Lefebvre at 76 Rue de la

Poissonerie in Saint Omer


A page from the history of France

Susan Cahill reveals the legacy of King Henri IV in Paris...

If you know Paris, you will have walked

over the Pont Neuf , the creation of King

Henri IV (1553 - 1610), visionary, lover,

pluralist, urban designer, and soldier, who

inherited the throne (1594) as the bloody

civil Wars of Religion between Catholics

and the “heretic” Protestants were still

raging. The fanatics hated him because he

was Protestant. A pragmatist, and disenchanted

to say the least with partisan

religions, Henri became a Catholic to calm

Catholic Paris. (There is no evidence that

he ever said, “Paris is worth a Mass.” as

some claim). He was crowned Rex

Christianissimus in Chartres.

Within a few years he had made Paris a city

of tolerance saying "Those who genuinely

follow their conscience are of my religion -

as for me, I belong to the faith of everyone

who is brave and true... We must be

brought to agreement by reason and

kindness, and not by strictness and

cruelty... “ The same year he undertook the

Pont Neuf (1598) he issued the Edict of

Nantes, granting tolerance and freedom of

worship to the Protestants.

Paris was still a war zone of filthy ruins after

decades of war. But Henri was determined

to transform it, “to make this city beautiful,

tranquil, to make it a whole world and a

wonder of the world.” (He adored beautiful

women, having had, according to myth

and/or history, 53 mistresses and many

bastards.) After opening the famous bridge

over the Ile de la Cite, between the Left and

Right Banks - some consider the view from

the Pont Neuf the most beautiful prospect

in Paris - he extended the Louvre, building

its Grande Galerie; designed the Orangerie;

the lovely Place Dauphine directly across

from the bronze horse on the bridge with

Henri in the saddle.


Far right:

Pont Neuf;

right the

leafy Place

des Vosges,

legacies of

Henry IV of


His most superb creation was the Place

des Vosges in the Marais. He envisioned a

large open public space surrounded by

handsome pavilions of red brick and

golden stone, with vendors in the arcades,

bordered by rows of lime trees, and framed

by the pavilions’ salons where literature,

sex, and music would entertain the rich

and royal. Henri ordered his royal square

coupleted in l8 months. The Place to this

day is still a dreamworld in the early

morning light; Sundays are festivals of

families, Parisians, and tourists looking for

brunch. In the l7th century, it was “the fun

part of town.”

But then a drop-out monk, another fanatic,

stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife

when Henri's carriage was stuck in traffic.

All Paris changed... "everyone began to wail

and cry, with women and girls tearing their

hair out.” Though Henri was reputedly a

garlicky man, not fond of the bath, he is

remembered in Paris “as a charmer, his

eyes full of sweetness... his whole mien

animated with an uncommon vivacity.” He

remains the most beloved king of France.

The up-dated story of his political marriage

to the much maligned Catholic Marguerite

Valois - (described by male historians as a

fat nymphomaniac) is fascinating. Her

medieval hotel still stands in the quiet

southern Marais, on the Seine. Her story is

as complicated and shocking as her

husband’s as well as the story of the St.

Bartholomew’s Day Massacre at the time

of their wedding which - miraculously - did

not kill them both. Margot hid Henri under

her bed and inside her closet while Catholic

royalty and their courtiers beheaded

thousands of Protestant wedding guests

and tossed their heads out the windows of

the Louvre...

Susan Cahill is the author of THE STREETS OF PARIS: A Guide to the City of Light Following in

the Footsteps of Famous Parisians Throughout History (St Martin’s Press, June, 2017). A

brilliant read which brings to life 22 dramatic stories of brilliant and passionate Parisian

characters in their physical settings, along the streets that tell the stories of their inspiration,

of how they became the icons that Paris - and history, and are still celebratde. Available from


Jazz in Marciac

© Francis Vernhet

Peter Jones waxes lyrical...

Tucked away in the small valleys of the Gers in south west France is the classic

bastide town of Marciac. It’s not huge, it has a population of around 1300. The

town is dominated by a central village square whose town hall is its main feature,

lined with shops and cafés.

But one thing makes Marciac unique

amongst the many bastide towns of France

and that is Jazz.

Back in 1978 a small group of friends led by

school teacher Jean-Louis Guilhaumon

started a small jazz festival. Nearly 40

years later, it has become one of the most

important jazz festivals in the world.

More than 250,000 people visit the

Marciac Jazz Festival and 65,000 attend

concerts in the Chapiteau (a huge

marquee) erected on the town’s rugby

pitch. It’s here that not just some, but

nearly all of the biggest names in Jazz have

played over those 40 years.

The highlight of the 2016 festival for many

people was a performance by the

legendary Ahmad Jamal. At 86 years old he

came out of retirement to play his only

concert in the world that year. What, I

asked, bought him to play his music in a

little bastide town in Gascony, “when Jean -

Louis asks, you say yes, he is a very special

man” he said, and smiled.

One time school teacher Jean-Louis

Guilhaumon is now mayor of Marciac and

President of the Marciac Jazz festival. He is

also Vice-President of the regional council

of the Midi-Pyrenees.

He is immensely proud that the college he

taught at, now has Jazz on the curriculum.

20 pupils from the area have gone on to be

professional musicians and the town has a

permanent concert venue, the very modern

500 seat L’Astrada , which hosts music,

theatre and dance throughout the year.

Music is everywhere when the festival is on.

Every bar, street corner and alleyway has

musicians playing their hearts out.

The square is one huge free festival, vibrant,

exciting and great for the trip jazz fan or not.

Over the years, luminaries such as Stan Getz,

Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone and Ray Charles

have played Marciac.

But Marciac is not just a town for the jazz

festival, it is worth visiting anytime in the year.

The Jazz Museum Les Territoires du Jazz is also

well worth a visit as are the local Armagnac

vineyards and those of Plaimont wine growers

where you can even sponsor a vine named after

a jazz musician!

Website: Les Teritoires du Jazz Museum

See next page for more

jazzy festivals in France...


Jazz in Marciac 2017 has a whole

raft of international names lined up

and this is one event that any

music and jazz lover will not want

to miss:

Norah Jones

George Benson

Herbie Hancock

Didier Lockwood

Manu Dibango

And many more of the world’s best

jazz musicians are set to thrill in

the sun from July 28 – August 15.

Details: jazzinmarciac.com

Practical stuff:

Reserve tickets before you go :


The tourist office has details for

accommodation in the area:


Around and about at the Marciac Jazz


The gorgeous Gers is famous for its stunning landscape but did you know that

it’s also one of the best wine making areas of France? It’s not just awesome

Armagnac that’s made here, but also sublime wines. The vines grow alongside

fields of bright sunflowers on steep hills, in natural valleys, in rolling, lush

countryside in soil that’s rich.

Wine buffs are calling the Gers “the new Bordeaux” and raving about the quality

of wine that’s being produced here.

Oenologist and wine writer Tom Fiorina from the US but now living in France, is

letting people in on the secret. He is running a tour in the Gers in which he’ll

take you to visit family-run vineyards and charming and authentic domains

where you’ll receive a warm welcome and a memorable tasting visit. You’ll learn

about the history of wine and production and it’s importance to the way of life

in the region known as Gascony.

Take the tour of Gers fabulous vineyards with Tom Fiorina, French Country

Adventures: July 28-30, 2017. Click here for details and more insider tours of

Gascony at: French Country Adventures

Jazz in Juan-les-Pins, Antibess

The cultural heart of the Cote d’Azur is a

place to sit and watch the world go by. It’s

also where you’ll enjoy a jazz festival in

what must be one of the most lush

settings in the world. Cannes is in the

background, the Mediterranean Sea

glistens in the sun, the scent of pine trees

fills the air . The longest running of

European jazz festivals islegendary.

jazzajuan.com read our review

Jazz in Normandy

In late spring the apples trees vibrate to the

sound of music as Coutances, in the

department of Manche turns from a sleepy

medieval market town to a thronging jazz

town. Punching way above its weight, the

eight-day festival spills out of marquees,

social halls, bars and church buildings on

to streets thronged with music lovers. 50

plus concerts, presenting a kaleidoscope

of jazz styles, from Dixieland and boogiewoogie

to avant-garde: read our review


Jazz in Nice

Nice is home to one of the oldest jazz

festivals in Europe. It opened in 1948 and

headlining the bill was one Louis

Armstrong and his All Stars. Held annually

in July, in the height of the summer sun, it’s

a mellow, fun and fabulous festival that

takes place in the centre of the sunny city

with up to 9000 spaces for jazz fans over 5

nights of music and mayhem.


Jazz in Paris

Seven weekends of jazz events in the

lovely Parc Floral make for a music lovers

dream come true. This event has become

ever more popular since it was founded in

1994 and now attracts more than 100,000

spectators. From mid June to the end of

July, the city hums and Parisians flock to

the park to enjoy jazz in the open air. You

pay to enter the park, the concerts are free.

Take a picnic and chill – it’s a great way to

feel like a local and experience authentic

Paris. parisjazzfestival.fr


Every weekend, we invite you to share your photos on Facebook - it's a great way for

everyone to see "real" France and be inspired by real travellers snapping pics as they

go. Every week there are utterly gorgeous photos being shared and here we share the

most popular of each month. Share your favourite photos with us on Facebook - the

most "liked" will appear in the next issue of The Good Life France Magazine...

MARCH: The Eiffel Tower

looking blooming lovely in

spring. Posted on her

birthday, 31 March this

photo stole the show. With

almost 6000 likes and

more than 2000 shares

reaching more than

200,000 people on

Facebook - this lovely photo

by Kenny Emptage was our

March winner!

APRIL: This colourful

photo of the Roman

amphitheatre in Arles,

south of France made

thousands of people

long to go there. 3000

likes on Facebook

made Jenny Lloyd our

April photo of the

month winner.

MAY: The gorgeous Cathedral of

Reims in Champagne, 2,800 likes on

Facebook for Margaret Fleming's

beautiful photo.

Join us on Facebook

and like and share

your favourite photos

of France...

Keith Van-Sickle reveals his top

tips for learning French...

Research shows that learning a second

language offers proven benefits for intelligence,

memory and concentration, plus

lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Learning French can be challenging but fun

- and it makes trips to France that much

more rewarding. Here’s how I learned

French in my 50s:

Build a Foundation

You need some rudimentary knowledge to

get started, like the fundamentals of

grammar and pronunciation. So take a

beginner’s course - you can easily find one

online or at a local college or community

center. Start by building that foundation.

Talk Talk Talk

It is fascinating to talk to French people in

their own language. By far the best way to

learn a new language is to speak it. But who

wants to talk to a newbie who can barely

string three words together?

The answer is – another newbie. A

language partner.

Websites, like mylanguageexchange.com,

help you find French speakers who want to

learn English. Find someone whose level is

the same as yours. This other person faces

the same challenges you do, so they will be

patient as you struggle with French as they

know exactly what you are going through.

You are helping them and they are helping

you. I found Skype calls once or twice a

week really accelerated my learning. I do

them for about an hour at a time, the first

half in French and the second in English.

Pro tip: Video calls are better than voice,

especially when you need to pantomime

(and you will.)

Listen, Too

When you are first learning French and

someone speaks to you, the words can

kind of run together. You need to “tune

your ear” so you can distinguish individual

words. The way to do this is by listening to

a lot of it.

Happily, there are French-language

podcasts on just about any subject. You

like cooking, history, sports? There is a

podcast for you.

Listen to these podcasts as you walk the

dog or work in the garden. At first it will be

a blur, but slowly your brain will adapt and

you’ll be able to hear the different words.

That’s a big step to learning French.

You Don’t Have to be Perfect

No one likes to make mistakes, so there is

a natural tendency to avoid talking until

you are really good. But that creates a kind

of Catch-22 because you need to talk in

order to get really good. Stop worrying and

learn to laugh at yourself.

People appreciate it when you make an

effort to speak their language. I have found

that French people smile and encourage

me when I try to speak French. It shows

respect for their culture. Who doesn’t

appreciate that?

Sometimes when you make a

mistake, you get a funny story out of


French and English share a lot of words,

like nation and pause. If I don’t know a

word in French I sometimes fake it by

using the English word with a French

accent. It usually works, but not always.

I once served some French friends a

cheese with edible ash on it. I announced

it in French as a cheese with ash. My

friends, shocked, explained that this meant

hashish. Oops.

Anticipate a Few Ups and Downs

Language learning is a funny thing – it

happens in spurts. You seem to make no

progress at all, sometimes for weeks, and

suddenly you take a big leap forward. So

don’t be discouraged when you feel like

you are working hard and not getting

anywhere. And enjoy the leaps when they


Have Fun!

This is going to take a while and you need

to have fun to stick with it. So find ways to

enjoy the language as you are learning.

Take a trip to France to try out your new

skills. Watch French movies. Go to a

French restaurant and chat with the


I subscribe to a US newspaper and a

French one. I look for stories that both

papers have covered and read them in

English and then in French (I read English

first because that helps me understand

what the story is about.) It can be

fascinating to see two perspectives on the

same subject.

After following this approach, I can now

hold meaningful conversations in my

second language. I have friends in France

and even read French books. It still

surprises me because I was terrible with

languages as a kid.

Parlez-vous français? You can do it!

Keith Van-Sickle is the author of One Sip at

a Time: Learning to live in Provence, a

charming book about starting a new life in


Available from Amazon

Barbara Pasquet-James a writer who lives in Paris, is no

stranger to the temptations of the city's restaurant scene but

even she was impressed by just how good it can be when she

Paris is indisputably one of the best food

cities in the world. Its marvelous markets

and shops touting eye-popping droolinducing

produce, pastries, chocolates and

more, are fodder for thousands of food

blogs, and there are enough neo bistros

and restaurants to keep food reviewers

busy for a lifetime just revisiting old

chomping grounds.

So imagine being contacted by insatiable

foodie friends from California, with whom

you’ve shared many a stellar meal,

announcing that they are returning to Paris

not for the shopping, not museums or

monuments, but for four days of “extreme

fooding” - a marathon of restaurants they’d

been dreaming about for ages, and they’d

love it if you (and in my case, French hubby

as well) would join them?

My mission, which I cheerily chose to

accept, was to snag reservations at some

of the hardest-to-get tables in town on

relatively short notice. There would be eight

fantastic restaurants in four days: lunches

and dinners. We would eat and drink our

way round the city.

Juggling bookings at sought-after Paris

eateries can be a challenge: most are open

on certain days only. Others just for dinner

and incredibly, starred players are closed

on weekends. But I was both pistonnée

(food writer/guest eater at chefs’ tables)

and very persistent.

Our only restriction: no fish or shellfish for

one in our party. We were afraid this would

prove to be an obstacle at places with fixed

tasting menus but happily, it wasn’t.

Alain Passard alum David Toutain reboots a

conceptual menu daily. Labor intensive and

well-thought out, Toutain’s inventive menus

induce reverie in his faithful, many of whom

migrated with him from Agapé Substance in

Saint-Germain. Give him a root vegetable and

he’s a magician: sweet potato gnocchi, celeriac

tagliatelle with white alba truffle. Toutain’s

signature smoked eel with black sesame and

green apple left us speechless. Throughout, the

term “neo-Nordic” kept springing to mind as

many of the courses would have been just as

much at home in a forest as on our plates.

Dessert of cauliflower coconut vanilla cream

with a chef’s surprise of quince chips and white

chocolate ice cream by Jacques Genin was

followed by fire-roasted figs with mascarpone

and root vegetables “churros” with chocolate

and smoked salt. A stunning start.

David Toutain (multi-course tasting menu); 29

Rue Surcouf 75007 Paris

Wednesday Lunch

Wednesday Dinner

Scoring a table at Frenchie on short notice

imparts an enormous sense of

accomplishment. Yet its laid-back location on a

narrow backstreet in the Sentier garment

district makes one wonder what all the

international fuss is about. It’s about the food,

the wine, and terrific service. Nantes native

Gregory Marchand hit it right by offering

gorgeous seasonal farm-to-table fare paired

with just as gorgeous wines. An unpretentious

cave à vins and Frenchie’s To Go followed,

along with gourmet food shops, and now, just a

visit to Frenchie, especially if combined with

nearby market street rue Montorgueil, is a

gourmet experience. Our multi-faceted meal

included perfect duck breast, pumpkin ravioli

packages that exploded with flavor and

crunchy Brussels sprouts topped with

crumbled cheese. Frenchie’s signature maplesyrup-glazed

scones with bacon from the

chalkboard next door put in an appearance and

amused our geueles. Fabuleux.

Frenchie (multi-course tasting menu); 5 Rue du

Nil 75002 Paris

Under the Les Halles canopy a modern

Michelin-starred French bistro-brasserie

signed Alain Ducasse is open every day of

the week. A view of the ancient Church of

Saint-Eustache and modern graffiticovered

walls are a backdrop to French

classics such as boudins, oysters, foie

gras, beef tartare, duck and snails that

share a simple carte alongside ricottaspinach

ravioli, smoked salmon, salads

and oven-fresh soufflés, a specialty.

Kicking off with a coupe de champagne we

tried two raw fish starters: sea bream in

citrus fruit shavings, black pepper and

basil, and sea bass with carrot, fresh lime

and ginger. Spectacular. This was followed

by the copious house salad (romaine,

shaved radish, fennel, carrot, beets.

cucumber dressed in a tart yogurt mint

vinaigrette), all forerunners of two sky-high

soufflés - one cheese, the other in-season

Thursday Lunch asparagus - both exploding with flavor and

obscenely generous.

Wines were expertly paired with each course. By the time dessert arrived - pistachiolaced

salted butter caramel soufflé, we almost stood up to applaid. But we were too full.

Champeaux Brasserie Bar & Lounge; Forum des Halles La Canopée 75001 Paris

Since the opening of this superstar starred

neo-bistro on a street behind Bastille, chef

Bertrand Grébaut has never looked back. A

relaxed decor belies top talent in the kitchen.

Grébaut’s menu of pure seasonal ingredients

complements a wine list of carefully selected

small producers who avoid additives. All of

the dishes were beautifully presented.

Synergies of flavors and textures were

showcased: white asparagus with an oyster

sauce gribiche; pork tenderloin with slivered

radishes; steamed cod with pickled turnips

and yuzu sauce. A dessert, every French

schoolchild’s fave, riz au lait vanille, creamy

rice pudding tanged up with a passion fruit

coulis, arrived with an old favorite, a deconstructed

Mont Blanc of sweetened feta with

its familiar chestnut cream “spaghetti,”

making this meal a knockout, just as we’d

hoped it would be. Next.

Septime (multi-course tasting menu);80 Rue

de Charonne 75011 Paris

Friday Lunch

(multi-course tasting menu) Book

well in advance

Verjus is the happy outgrowth of The Hidden Kitchen,

exquisite dinner parties once hosted by Laura Adrian

and Braden Perkins in a private Paris apartment.The

view is of a theater reminiscent of New Orleans’ old

French Quarter and below, in a small intimate room,

is their wine bar with its ever-changing chalkboard. I’d

not dined at Verjus before because we’d fill up on the

apéro plates downstairs - pork belly with sesame

seeds, indescribable Parmesan “churros,” duck

terrine maison with pistachios - and felt no need to

go upstairs for the nine-course extravaganza.

However on this night, oysters from Utah Beach with

rhubarb, gougères dusted with seaweed and salt,

perfectly roasted pork, foie gras with walnuts and a

jaw-dropping beet tarte tatin, plus more, kept us

happy all the way to dessert: caramelized Jerusalem

artichoke ice cream with apple and cinnamon. We

vowed to return.

Verjus (multi-course tasting menu);52 Rue de

Richelieu 75001 Paris

Book well in advance

Friday Dinner


Being escorted through the opulent Hotel Peninsula then

seated in LiLi’s spacious dining room felt like we’d arrived

on a Hollywood film set. This gastro Chinese temple was our

choice for Saturday lunch, not so much for a change from

French cuisine, but to sample their reputed authentic

gourmet Cantonese dim sum, and more. Excited, we went for

the Menu Dim Sum: steamed lobster dumplings with

asparagus, Shanghai-style steamed pork raviolis, chicken

and eggplant dumplings with XO sauce, pan-fried minced

pork dumplings with bok choy, each deliciously succulent

and elegantly presented. But, as the saying goes, “Chinese

food goes right through you,” we decided to loosen our belts

and go for some mains: Peking-style duck, wok-fried

Brittany blue lobster with ginger and spring onions, braised

French beef with fried ginger and, to wash it down, martinis

with lemon twists which, beautifully cleansed our palates

between courses. Dessert? Not this time. Dinner would be in

a few hours.

LiLi at the Hotel Peninsula; 19 Avenue Kléber 75016 Paris;

Note: The Lobby Restaurant at the Hotel Peninsula has a 48

Euro 2 course lunch/dinner menu that's very good.

Saturday lunch

Our last stop after such a raffinée experience at

lunch, standing-room-only wine-bar-tapas bar

L’Avant Comptoir seemed a natural choice for

dinner. Loyal fans of chef Yves Camdeborde

since his La Régélade days in the far-flung 14th

way back when, we’d followed him to Saint-

Germain-des-Prés. First-timers here are always

astounded when they see the ceiling, a forest of

banners with photos of dozens of small plates.

An impressive selection of wines, sausages, and

an enormous hunk of salt-studded butter

dominates the zinc counter with its country

loaves cut into chunks, still warm, mustard,

cornichons, and fleur de sel for the taking. We

joined the throng and ordered away: crunchy

calamari and crunchier fried chicken with house

fries and sauce gribiche; fried cheese; waffles

topped with an artichoke cream and Bayonne

ham; foie gras with piquillo kebabs; caramelized

pork belly; sautéed cèpe mushrooms with garlic.

We did it. Bordeaux and dry rosé by the glass

and endless toasts with total strangers, and it

was over.

L’Avant Comptoir; 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon

75006 Paris

Saturday Dinner

By Jemma Hélène

Finally I did something I’d wanted to do all


There’s a lone bench at the end of l’Ilette

peninsula, a stub of land that juts into the

Mediterranean near Antibes’ rampart walls.

The bench faces the bay, looking onto the

old town, or if you peer over your right

shoulder when seated there, the Cap

d’Antibes. Smack in the centre of that view

lies our summertime home, Bellevue.

Below the bench the sea rolls onto the

rocks. Next door is an upscale beach

restaurant – but this, you could say, is a

new addition.

The bench itself is unremarkable, an

unforgiving union of two cement slabs.

Behind it stands a tall shard of limestone

with a copper plaque that has gone green

with age. What I wanted to do that summer

was quite simple: to read a particular book

sitting on that bench near that monument.

So there I sat, water bottle beside me, book

in my lap.

Being the height of the Côte d’Azur’s

season, the sun scorched in its late

morning sky. As I tried to enjoy the

experience I’d longed to savour, I only

wanted to dive into the neighbouring

restaurant and continue reading under an

umbrella, cold drink in hand. But I couldn’t

do that. They’d suffered here on l’Ilette

peninsula. I should, too.

I squinted through sunglasses as the sun

bounced off the pages. Duel of Wits by

Peter Churchill. I’d found a beaten-up copy

through a community college in Indiana.

When the book arrived in Toronto, I packed

it away for our summer in Antibes.

Flipping the pages brought forth the

familiar, musty-paper smell of my youth. It

beckoned me into a bygone world.

Churchill dedicated his work to Arnaud –

code name for Captain Alec Rabinowitch, a

radio operator who died in his pursuits.

These writings, the author explained,

covered four secret missions into wartime

France. He’d entered twice by submarine

and twice by parachute between July 1941

and April 1943.

I skipped to the biographical index at the

back – anything to avoid the hard work of

the inside pages in that blazing light. I

recognized some names from my research:

Julien (Captain I Newman) – captured and


Louis of Antibes – Did I recognize this

name? Or was it “Antibes” that sprang

from the page? – captured and died on an

evacuation march from a concentration


Matthieu (Captain Edward Zeff) – captured

and survived.

Taylor, Lt-Cdr “Buck” – commanded his

own submarine. Survived.

Vigerie, Baron d’Astier de la – never


They were characters in a story I’d found

online, translated into French. Across a

wide ocean, with Toronto’s thermometer

lingering well below freezing, it had read

like a thriller. A British submarine, the H.M.

S. Unbroken, had entered the Baie de la

Salis – the very bay beneath me – one

night in April 1942. In charge of the

operation was the book’s author, a member

of the British Special Operations Executive.

Churchill rowed ashore in the pitch night

and climbed steps that led up l’Ilette

peninsula – landing there, right there, on

the ground beneath my bench. If someone

had lingered that night on the terrace of our

Bellevue, they would’ve witnessed the

landing in its moving shadows.

Churchill’s mission was to deliver two radio

sets and two radio operators (Matthieu and

Julien) to the home of Dr Elie Lévy, a

kingpin of Antibes’ Résistance movement

who lived three blocks inland on Avenue

Foch. Under the cover of night, Churchill

navigated the streets alone, locating Lévy’s

house before returning for his colleagues

and supplies. Then, already clutched by

adrenaline, the secret agent ran into Lévy

himself on l’Ilette peninsula. With him was

Baron d’Astier de la Vigerie, a diplomat

who became a last-minute addition to

Churchill’s passenger roster as the

submarine departed the bay beneath


So that’s what I would recreate: a living

history of Antibes through the allegorical

eyes of Bellevue. All summer long, Antibes

revealed herself to me on two levels, past

and present. Plaques, monuments and

street signs – timeworn tributes that had

faded into everyday life over the years we’d

been coming here – shared their stories.

And there, mounted above a lighting shop

three blocks up Avenue Foch, the trunk

road I’d taken more than a hundred times,

was an unassuming marble plaque: Here

lived Dr. Elie Victor Amedee Lévy, Captain;

arrested May 4, 1942; died in deportation to

Auschwitz; hero and martyr of the

Résistance; died for France.

That was the story I wanted to read in

English, right there on l’Ilette peninsula. A

fat drop of sweat ran down my calf and

deposited itself on my ankle. Skimming

was the only way. I flipped to the book’s

midsection and hunched over its yellowed

pages. A breeze kicked up. Instant airconditioning.

I was doing the right thing.

Some would say I’d been behaving oddly

all summer. I biked around town with one

eye on the road and the other scouring

second-floor facades of buildings where

plaques might appear. Friends began

calling me a history-buff. Really? History

was never, ever my thing. It always seemed

a jumble of useless dates and wars –

except, of course, when my grandmother

told vibrant stories about the wagon train

bringing my ancestors from Pennsylvania

to Iowa.

History only mattered to me when there

was a story behind it. History was

interesting only when it was alive.

The story endured.

As I continued to read on l’Ilette peninsula,

I realized I’d forgotten the story’s details –

even important ones. I’d forgotten, for

instance, how Churchill’s surprise

encounter with Lévy had begun.

On that dark night in April 1942, while they

huddled in the darkness of their

clandestine work, Lévy launched a

question to Churchill – before even

bothering to introduce the diplomat

loitering alongside them.

Where, the doctor wondered, were the

faked baptismal certificates for his two

daughters? Churchill had promised these

papers so that Lévy, a Jew, could avoid

having his house – purchased in his

daughters’ names – confiscated by the


My cheeks were burning. The water bottle

was almost dry. I’d continue reading

elsewhere. But before leaving that eventful

site, I lingered before the copper-green

plaque. It was written in English and

French, but as with so many translations,

the two halves offered different


\the monument commemorated the

landing of the H.M.S. Unbroken submarine,

under Captain Peter Churchill, on April 21,

1942, and all those who took part in the

operation. It was presented to Major

Camille Rayon (another major Résistance

player) by Lieutenant-Commander C.W.

Buck Taylor (who steered the submarine

that night) on May 23, 1992.

The last line caught my eye. It spanned the

centerline of the plaque, occupying both

the English and French sides, and

protruded from the stone’s face:

En hommage au Docteur ELIE LEVY

(LOUIS) qui dirigea cette operation, et

mourut en Déportation

directed this operation and died in


I’d learned the story of the H.M.S. Unbroken

through the eyes of Peter Churchill, a

British secret service agent. But the

collective memory of the local people

filtered through a different lens. It was Lévy,

an Antibois, who was the heart of this

mission, not Churchill.

There’s a whole other world occupying the

sunny Côte d’Azur. It lives invisibly

alongside the sandy beaches and glitzy

shops. And it’s breathing, shallowly,

appearing only to those who seek it.

Jemma Hélène is the author of French

Lessons Blog: www.frenchlessonsblog.com

In tribute to Dr Elie Lévy (Louis), who

A family pilgrimage to the

Somme by Doug Goodman

In September 1916 High Wood in Picardy

was a vision of tree stumps and mud – a

deathly landscape. It was here on the

morning of 15 September that a boy

soldier from Wandsworth, London fell in

the battle to take the Wood. Bertram Alec

Reader – known as Alec – was the eldest of

5 children. In the summer of 1915, at the

age of 17, he made a trip to Somerset

House, London, and joined the 15th

Battalion London Regiment, Prince of

Wales’ Own, Civil Service Rifles (CSR).

Having passed the medical inspection he

left as Private B. A. Reader 3623. In March

1916 Alec sailed for France.

All of Alec’s letters home survive and his

story has been pieced together by his

nephew Roger Goodman who, along with

his brother Doug, traced Alec’s life on the

Somme. After making all their research

available to historians through the archives

at The Imperial War Museum, Alec's story

has featured in several books. Through one

of these books contact was made by the

son of a private soldier, Vern Wilkinson,

who served alongside Alec. He had read a

book featuring Alec and remembered

seeing the name in his father's wartime

diary. Alec's family had always known the

time and place where he died but not how.

In his diary Vern wrote:

‘We were happy when we knew definitely

what time the ‘kick off’ was, uncertainty

made one nervous and irritable. We

attempted a little breakfast in the early

hours but the jam tasted of paraffin so we

gave it up. A substantial rum ration

however soon satisfied us, there was

actually some rum to spare as some of the

lads would not participate as they wished

to have all their senses about them when

the great time came. Others were quite

merry and personally I had consumed

plenty... At last ‘zero’ came (6.20am) and

the guns that had quietened towards the

dawn broke out with a terrible clatter as

they put down one of the terrible barrages

that made advancing much easier for the

infantry. We clambered over the top of the

parapet and were immediately met with a

murderous machine gun fire, some of my

pals falling at once...


The Somme is about 90

minutes drive from Calais and

DFDS Seaways has daily

crossings from Dover.

The Historial de la Grande


Albert Museum

Beaumont Hamel memorial


Commonwealth War Graves


Photos: far left: Doug Goodman; centre left:

family photo shows Alec Reader; top: Doug

and family members lay a weath at Thiepval;

left: Alec Reader with pals.

...Young Reader fell at the side of me with a

groan and blood rushed from a wound in

the head. I just turned to glance at him and

could see that death was instantaneous

and so passed that cheerful spirited lad to

whom everything was ‘very cosy.’’

Alec’s story is a poignant one as he was

waiting to return to England. Those who

had joined as underage (18 was the

minimum age for joining up) could be

reclaimed by their parents and had the

choice of being repatriated. However, Alec’s

father’s request was delayed due to

administrative issues and before Alec

could return home the Battle of Flers-

Courcelette began. Alec was buried near

the north-west corner of High Wood but

due to continued fighting the details of the

place of burial was lost and Alec is listed as

one of the missing of the Somme; his name

appears on the Thiepval monument.

On the morning of 15 September 2016, 100

years to the day he died, Alec’s family and

two researchers made a pilgrimage to High

Wood where they laid a wreath on the 47th

(London) Division Memorial. They held a

private ceremony before joining a memorial

service at the Thiepval monument where

three generations of the Goodman family,

Doug, his nephew Paul and great-nephew

Charles laid a wreath on behalf of Alec’s

family. "This ‘cheerful spirited lad, to whom

everything was very cosy’ will never be

forgotten and his short life will continue to

be remembered for generations to come"

said Doug Goodman.

High Wood as returned to its natural state

and it's estimated that the remains of

several thousand British and German

troops are still there as the area was never

cleared of munitions. In total around 8000

deaths occurred in the square km. of private

wood during the Somme Battle that lasted

from July to November 1916. High Wood was

the scene of the last cavalry charge and the

first tank attack.


But you are in France Madame by

Catherine Berry

Catherine Berry, her husband and three

children unzipped and discarded their

comfortable Australian lifestyle and

slipped on life in the country of haute

couture. On arrival, there was no

celebrity designer waiting ready to pin

and fit their new life to them. So, they

threw it on and wore it loosely, tightly,

uncomfortably, any old how—until they

learned for themselves how to trim,

hem and stitch à la française. This book

is testament to the joyous, but not

always easy, journey that they took

along the way.

Read our review


Uncorked by Paul Shore

Celebrating the “uncorking” of a few

tightly held traditions that are near

and dear to hearts of the locals of the

Cote d’Azur and Provence. Like being

taught to play pétanque (boules)

under the clandestine cover of

darkness; drinking pastis before

noon; navigating narrow village

roads at top driving speed. Shore

also “uncorks” personal awakenings

about the value of following roadsless-travelled

and making time to

smell-the-roses, as we cultivate

friendships and traditions. And,

through exposure to the life of artist

Marc Chagall, Shore reflects on the

challenges that all newcomers face

to gain acceptance in a foreign land.

Read our review


See over the page for more great give aways

including some delish rose wine!

Chateau for Sale by Carrie Parker

Can someone really be in love with

two people at the same time? Kate

thinks so when she falls for Nick.

But inevitably she has to choose.

Escaping to Nick’s château in

southern France seems like the

answer. The betrayal of her beloved

husband, Alastair, leaves Kate

racked with guilt, but things are

only going to get worse. She neveer

imagined how fiercely loyal

Alastair’s best friend, Richard,

would prove to be, nor the dire

consequences of his loyalty.

Instead of the new start that she’d

hoped for, Kate’s life at the château

descends into a nightmare, taking

her to the brink of despair,and

when you’re desperate you’ll do


Read our review

Leonardo da Vinci: The Amboise

Connection by Pamela Shields

A fascinating book about one of

the greatest men who ever lived. he

lived in the Loire Valley as the

guest of a king at the end of his life.

He was a tourist attraction then,

and still is. The book is full of

interesting facts and anecdotes

about Leonardo's time in the

Chateau de Clos Lucé in Amboise -

a must read for all Da Vinci fans

and visitors to this lovely part of


Read our review

French for Divorce by Carys Evans

British Catherine and French Jacques live

the good life in France until Jacques starts

fraternising with a colleague and Catherine

realises all is not equal in love and war.

Facing her own personal Brexit, Catherine

becomes a character in her very own

surreal adventures, to the backdrop of chic

restaurants, chalets and chateaux. The

couple’s colourful allies of French

gendarmes, champagne-guzzling best

friends, improbable lovers and a charmingly

chauvinistic father-in-law accompany them

down their road to disunion or reunification

in a country that gives infidelity the

Presidential seal of approval.

Read our review


Winetastic give away of award winning delicious rosé

wine from MIRABEAU Provence

Our wine making friends at Mirabeau in

Provence are feeling generous! They have

two cases of 6 bottles of their award

winning Classic rosé to give away. With

its delectable raspberry pink hues and

intense aromas, expressive red berry fruit

remain the essence of this delectable

rose'. Mirabeau Classic has a beautiful

concentration, with strawberry and

raspberry flavours taking centre stage,

balanced by fresh acidity and leading to a

sumptuous finish with notes of redcurrant.

A perfect aperitif for an alfresco

moment, it’s also great with flavoursome

food, or drink it as they do in Provence,

anytime and with almost anything! Just

click on their website & subscribe to their

newsletter to go in the draw:

Two winners will each win a case of 6 bottles of Classic.

Just nip onto Mirabeau’s website here & sign up to their newsletter to enter the contest

which will end 30 June 2017.

Legendary actress Brigitte Bardot led fashion revolutions

throughout her career; this retrospective includes BB’s

comments on her iconic style in a rare, intimate interview.

Brigitte Bardot is a style icon whose legacy has undeniably

shaped the face of fashion as we know it. In photographs

that capture her attending prestigious receptions or on

glamorous visits to the United States, in fashion shoots

and on film sets, this volume illustrates all the key looks

that BB wore and brought to the international spotlight as

she invented and edited her own highly imitated style.

With personal comments on the photos, Bardot explains

the context of the often vanguard fashions she wore,

making headlines wherever she went. A must for BB and

fashion fans...

Draw ends: 28 July 2017

And it always will be...

A French town without a baker - it's

unthinkable - everyone would move away!

A butcher is almost as important to French

village life as a baker. The butcher sells the

usual roasts and chops and chickens, as

well as a variety of prepared foods.

My wife Val and I live part of the year in St.-

Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town

between Arles and Avignon. We love going

to our favorite butcher shop, a place that

has been serving the good people of St.-

Rémy for decades. It's run by a husband

and wife who take great care in the quality

of their products and service. When you

order a piece of meat, the butcher will ask

you how you plan to prepare it. Then he will

slice off any extra fat, trim around the bone

and cut it into the size you want. If you

want hamburger, he will take a piece of

beef, run it through his grinder and form it

for you. Burger by burger.

The butcher takes the time to chat with

every customer - waiting in line is like

having a free French lesson. How is the

family? Are your bunions bothering you?

How will you prepare the stew? For how

many people? Do you salt your food? This

usually prompts a general discussion on

salt. It’s like watching a French sitcom.

Sometimes the phone rings and the

butcher answers it – it’s usually an order for

a big meal. This leads to a long discussion

between the person on the phone and the

butcher and his wife. How many people do

they need to feed? What spices will they

use? Should they pick it up at 11:00? No,

maybe 12:00. No, 11:00 would be better.

Okay, they’ll come at 12:00.

Once we went to the butcher to get a gigot

d'agneau (leg of lamb.) We were having

some friends over and figured a gigot

would be easy to make in advance and

would feed a large group.

We explained what we wanted. For how

many people, the butcher asked. Ah, the

gigot in my cabinet is not large enough for

your dinner for ten, he said.

So off he went to the back to get a larger

one. He appeared two minutes later

carrying the entire back half of a lamb. Oh,

my. But at least the wool had been


This doesn’t happen where we live in


He prepared the meat deftly and then

came the cooking discussion. How were

we preparing it? Our marinade met with

his approval, but under no circumstances

were we to use a temperature higher

than 180 degrees Celsius. The butcher

looked at us gravely to make sure we

understood this important point.

And did we want the bones he had just

removed? We should place them next to

the lamb, cover them with some olive oil

and butter, and add a full head of garlic,

herbes de Provence, and salt. It would

make a nice jus for the meat. This kind

of advice is common in France.

If you are in a rush and go to a French

butcher be preapred to be there for at

least a half an hour. But if you do, the

food will be delicious and the floorshow

can’t be beat...

Keith Van Sickle is the author of One Sip

at a time: Learning to live in Provence

The Good Life in ....

the gers

When British artist Perry Taylor and his

Dutch wife Caroline moved to rural

Gascony, south west France, one of the

things they were really looking forward to,

apart from the gorgeous countryside,

fabulous cuisine and wines and laidback

lifestyle… was keeping chickens.

“We live in a 250 year-old farmhouse and

in the past it’s been home to cows, pigs,

rabbits and various animals. We keep just

chickens though. Having them around

makes for a homely feeling, bringing the

courtyard and garden to life. We started

with the Light Sussex and over time we've

had a real hotchpotch of blacks, greys,

browns and speckled egg layers. They’re

always on the look-out for something to

eat, they follow you around, especially

when working in the garden, waiting for

some grub or worm to be thrown to them”.”

says Caroline.

Not only do the couple enjoy the eggs from

the chickens but there are other benefits

too - Perry, an artist, found that the

chickens were a rich source of inspiration

for his quirky drawings.

“There’s Queeny – she’s really bossy and

Cinderella, she’s at the bottom of the

pecking order… they all have different

personalities and we love them all. Little

Cilla Black became a favourite when she

and Floppy (light Sussex) were the sole

survivors of a fox's visit. They became

inseparable, so when Floppy died, we got a

new batch of different breeds. Cilla

immediately went from underdog to queen

bitch and pecked them all into order, except

a white one that looks like Floppy. These

two firm friends now take the highest perch

in the coop, along with Rusty, a cockerel”.

Top right: Perry and Caroline; above:

"Jeu de Poules"; right: black chicks

Perry loves to sit and observe the

chickens going about their daily lives

and sometimes that creates the basis

for a drawing idea.

Caroline says “We were once playing

boules and when we threw the 'pois', a

couple of chickens came running after

it, probably thinking it was food. Perry’s

drawing 'Jeu de Poules’ came from this”.

Perry recalls seeing four chickens and

Rusty the cockerel all cleaning

themselves under their wings and tails

and for one magic moment, none of

their heads were visible, which gave rise

to his painting titled ‘Headless


Caroline explains how another favourite

came about “Our neighbour has black

Gascon chickens. One day one got

loose and came over to inspect our

Light Sussex. Perry wondered what

would come out if they bred. His 'Black

chicks' drawing was the result”!

Over the last few years Perry has become

quite a celebrity in Gascony as his witty

and whimsical paintings have truly

captured the charm and authentic spirit of

French rural life.

Popular in France, Britain and with

Francophiles around the world, his first

book ‘Petites Gasconneries’ featuring

some of his most popular chicken

drawings was a sell-out. His just published

new book ‘Bon Moments’ went the same


Perry says of his birds “their curiosity and

mannerisms are fun to watch and when

they get used to you, they like to be in your

company. Ours like nothing more than

nestling down or preening right next to us,

which really does give us a feeling of wellbeing.”

Not many people have a chicken as a muse

but for artist Perry Taylor it works well!

Website: perrytaylor.fr


Local property agent Julia Grange says "Gers is often described as the Tuscany of France;

others have compared it to Devon. It is a very rural, agricultural area, with fresh, clean air

as there is no polluting industry. It produces some excellent wines such as Madiran

(scientifically proven to be the best red wine for your health), and is world-famous for its

Armagnac. There are lots of pretty bastide towns, one of which, Larressingle, is known as

a mini-Carcassonne. I live in the west of the Gers. From here I can be surfing or swimming

on the Atlantic coast in 1h30, winter skiing in Cauterets in 1h30, and in Spain in 2h.

There are lots of walking groups and cycling groups and for sports fans, rugby is very

popular here. There are also several golf courses. In summer, the world famous Jazz

festival in Marciac is very popular with many big-name stars appearing. The nearest

airport with UK links is Tarbes-Lourdes (Ryanair), but there is also Toulouse, Bordeaux

and Biarritz." There are a few of Julia's top property picks for the Gers:

This village home in Fusterouau is renovated

and with its small garden would be an ideal

second home. Only 8km to the popular

market village of Aignan and 133km to

Toulouse airport.

Click here for more details


A beautiful 5-bedroom home in Maupas, ready

to move into. South-facing to capture the sun,

with views of the Pyrenees, 5 minutes to the

nearest shops, and less than 2h to the airports

of Toulouse and Bordeaux

Click here for more details


€874 500

Set in a lovely location in Couloume

Mondebat, a beautiful big property with

business potential. 3 Stables, separate gite

and 13 ha of land with fabulous bviews to the


Click here for more details

Click here to see Julia's portfolio of gorgeous properties in the Gers

The Good life in...


We talk to British expat Linda James who with her Husband Alex runs Le Pommier

gites and a cake making business in Riberac, Dordogne department, Aquitaine,

south west France.

What inspired you to move to


I originally came here on holidays with my

family in the 1980s as my cousin and her

husband moved here with their three

children. I fell in love with the sunny

weather, the stunning countryside, being

able to swim in rivers and lakes, the

beautiful villages, markets, fêtes and the


Although my cousins moved back to the

UK for a short while, they couldn’t keep

away and returned to France. There are

now four generations of our family here as

my aunt moved over just before us. She

was 91 a couple of weeks ago! We

searched a much wider area for our

property but decided we might as well be

close enough to pop round for coffee, or

meet up at the market. And after some

property viewings further down in the

Dordogne, we decided we liked it better


Tell us about your gites and cake


Our property consists of a three bedroom

house, one bedroom apartment and two

bedroom gite. The gite is popular through

the whole season as its a comfy space for

couples as well as the families who come in

the school holidays. The house is bright

and spacious with a new bathroom that

gets the response ‘wow!’ from guest. The

large stone terrace overlooking the pool

and garden and countryside are perfect for

aperos and the spectacular sunsets we get.

We’ve also launched a cake business. The

idea started when I made cupcakes for a

wedding last year, then a café in Ribérac

needed cakes to serve with tea and coffee.

Coffee and Walnut cake is really popular.

We have several walnut trees and shelling

them is a time-consuming process so I

often do it in the evening while watching

telly! I’m beginning to take orders for

Tell us about your house

The buildings are 18th century farm

workers cottages linked by a large barn,

forming an L-shape. We have a lovely

stone well attached to our house and the

grounds are made up of pretty gardens, a

small orchard and a bigger garden with

swimming pool and walnut trees. It’s

typical for the area.

We found it via an estate agent on our

High Street in Portishead that listed

Leggett Immobilier properties. They set

us up with viewings.

My dream was to run gites but it felt like

the timing wasn’t right when I first

started looking so I went back to my job.

It got to the stage where I felt I could

couldn’t stand waiting any longer so I

gave in my notice and left at Christmas in

2013. We jumped in our campervan in the

February and I said “we’re not coming

home until we find our house in France”.

Penny (our agent at Leggett Immobilier)

took us to see six properties a day, then

persuaded us to see one we had thought

was too small.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we

walked into the gite and I said “I think

this it!” That was mid-February. We

moved in at the beginning of June. We

also found a house 10 minutes away in

village square for my in-laws.

We had our first gite guests less than two

weeks after we moved in!

We didn’t have to do major work as it

was beautifully renovated with lovely old

beams but we updated bathrooms and

wood burners and gave everything a

fresh coat of paint and generally

redecorated. We replaced a wooden

terrace with a grand stone one. Our

French neighbour calls it the Acropolis!

How have you found running a business

in France?

It was challenging at first as we didn’t know

how to get set up as non-retirees, we had to

have a business to get into the health system

for instance. There is a local online network

called the Dronne Valley Network, The

Franco British Chamber of Commerce and

Industry advertised their services through it,

and we went to see them. They guided us

through the set up process. They also do a

monthly informal social gathering for people

to exchange experiences and information.

What tip would you give anyone

following in your footsteps?

This is a difficult one! We took a leap of faith

really – and underestimated how much

money we’d spend getting everything sorted,

and how challenging it would be to earn

enough money. We know a couple of people

who’ve managed to retain jobs in the UK–

they work remotely from here and go back

once a month for face to face meetings. A

reliable income helps enormously.

What do you love about your area?

We’re living in beautiful countryside and have

plenty of places to visit within a short

distance. The people are friendly and there’s

lots going on – vide-greniers and brocante

markets, music, art exhibitions. We absolutely

love the fact that we can be outside more

because the weather is so good... and having

a swimming pool!

Sharing our lovely space with holiday guests

is a real bonus and we love to make new

friends. The quiet roads and lack of traffic is


Website: Le Pommier Gites, Riberac



See over for what to see/do in Riberac and

fabulous properties in the area...

5 things to see around Riberac

1. Brantome (above)

One of the most visited towns in the area thanks to its gorgeous good looks. A stunning

abbey, a riverside setting that looks like a painting come to life and a pretty town that's

perfect for wandering and sitting at a cafe watching the world go by. The Abbey’s Church

belfry, built into the rock, is said to be the oldest in France dating to the 11th century.

Tip: Behind the Abbey are caves which go back to the 8th century and one of them

contains a depiction of the “Last Judgement” from the 15th century – well worth a look.

2. Aubeterre sur Dronne

A beautiful village with a spectacular monolithic church carved out of the rock. Do the

tour because you can only appreciate it from the inside. The village is arranged around a

lovely square with shops and restaurants but do explore the roads around the square to

discover the second church and other businesses. At the bottom of the hill there is a

sandy beach and river swimming.

3. Riberac

Have a wander around to

discover a variety of small

shops, café/bars and

restaurants. The Office de

Tourisme has plenty of

local information. On

Friday Riberac hosts the

biggest market in the area.

4. Verteillac

A village with cafes and

restaurants, but if

you’re here on the first

Sunday of the month

there is a large

Brocante (antique)


5. Perigueux

A city with a maze of

medieval lanes lined with

shops opening into squares

with restaurants. The

cathedral is stunning (walk

down to the river for the

best view) and is illuminated

after dark.


We talk to Penny Armstrong, the local agent who helped Linda and Alex James to find

their ideal property in Riberac: "Having bought our property here over 30 years ago, I

know the region well. The Dronne Valley has so much to offer. Stunning scenery,

tranquility, plenty of outdoor activities, yet not isolated, with beautiful towns and villages

close by. In this area communities mingle together, French, British and many other

nationalities in a friendly and helpful way..."


Charming 2 bedroomed character cottage set

in the heart of Montagrier, a beautiful village,

walking distance to bar, restaurant and

epicerie with "depot de pain". Tucked away

and offering large covered terrace leading to

plunge pool and garden.

Click here for more details

Situated on the outskirts of Riberac, this is a

lovely Perigordine house with four bedrooms and

two covered terraces. The family sized

accommodation is light, airy and spacious. It has

a summer house in the garden. Garaging for

three cars, tool-shed and workshop. A generous

sized property, all in excellent order. Recently

reduced from €328,600 to €235,400.

Click here for more details



This property has been lovingly cared for and is

spacious light and airy. With 4 bedrooms, 3

bathrooms, a 2 bedroomed gite, garage, large

shed, pool and wonderful views it has a great deal

to offer in versatile accommodation. Close

proximity to Riberac with all amenities yet set in

lovely countryside, this property is HIGHLY

RECOMMENDED. Recently reduced from

€315,000 to €285,000

Click here for more details

Click here to see Penny's portfolio of fabulous properties in Riberac

ask the experts

If you have a question about finance, law, currency, banking, property, satellite

services or any other aspect of living in France, you can email it to us here and we'll

put it to our panel of experts and try to help you.

Question: I've been told that there have been changes to Pension legislation that

might affect British expats in France - can you explain what it's all


Answer: from Jennie Poate at Beacon Global Wealth

In 2017 there have been a raft of changes

to the international pension scene, forcing

financial advisers to dramatically rethink

the way they plan for their clients.

One hugely significant change affecting

the Qualifying Recognised Overseas

Pension Schemes (QROPS)* market came

in April. HM Revenue & Customs updated

its list of these international pension

products after a temporary suspension.

The result was that nine countries fell off of

HMRC’s list completely when it was


The suspension followed a shock

announcement by UK chancellor Philip

Hammond to impose a 25% charge on

pension transfers outside of the EAA** if

the ‘QROPS’ destination is not the same

country in which the retiree is living.

This list is due to be suspended and

republished in June 2017.

To be clear, this does not affect (currently)

those who live and have their pensions in

the EAA. So for those living and paying tax

in France who have a pension in the UK,

you will remain unaffected.

For those planning to live and pay tax in

France going forward there is currently no

change. One would assume that the UK will

be part of the EAA in some shape or form

going forward but of course we can only

deal with the here and now.

This makes uncertain times for those

looking to move their UK pensions into

something more international and flexible.

Beacon Global Wealth Management are

treating these concerns seriously, and as

with all of our advice we obtain full

information from the client and the pension

scheme before providing any advice which

as a minimum comes in two stages.

See over for more info and * **

We only use jurisdictions for pension

transfers that are within HMRC regulation

and in the best interest of the client to

move their pension with a full explanation

of the options, advantages and


The current pension regulation still

provides a marvellous opportunity for

people to take control of their funds inside

their pensions and have more flexibility for

income and cash.

It’s quite a complex subject but to try and

explain it without taking up too much

space, currently with UK providers, the only

option is to have an annuity. These are

based on interest rates and longevity, the

former being very low.

Once you have exchanged your pension

pot for an annuity you can’t change your

mind and it is fixed for life. Nowadays

people want more flexibility and choice

which would include the choice of when to

take income, how much and for how long

and to pass the residual balance to their

loved ones.

Please do contact me if you’d like

obligation free information or just a chat.

Question: I have about £100,000 lump sum from my pension in the UK. When I

move to France I wonder if there is a savings account or vehicle that I can put my

money in that will pay me interest?

Answer: Jennie Poate Beacon Global Wealth

As a UK tax resident, you can draw 25%

PCLS or Pension Commencement Lump

sum tax free.

However as a French resident you have an

obligation to declare the income and pay

tax on it. There are several ways this can be

taxed but the usual is that a 7.5% fixed rate

tax would be levied plus a now new 7.1%

CSG or ‘social charge. So if you move to

France before you effect the drawdown, on

that basis, already £14,600 is payable in

tax. There are other ways this can be paid

so check with your accountant or adviser

as to the best route.

It would be prudent to keep some funds in

an ‘emergency’ account running alongside

your current account so that if for instance

the boiler breaks down you have instant

access to funds.

* A Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, or QROPS, is an overseas pension scheme

that meets certain requirements set by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A QROPS

must have a beneficial owner and trustees, and it can receive transfers of UK Pension Benefits.

**The European Economic Area (EEA) is the area in which the Agreement on the EEA provides for

the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European Single Market, as

well as the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area. The EEA was established

on 1 January 1994 upon entry into force of the EEA Agreement. There is more to it than this but

with the current issue of Brexit ongoing we’ll have to see if there is any change for the UK or not.

There are several tax free bank deposit

accounts; the nearest equivalent being a

cash ISA. The interest rate is a government

set rate currently (June 2017) 0.75%. There

are two types of account and you can hold

them both:

Livret A:

in which you can place a maximum of

€22,950 per person plus accrued interest

Livret de Développement Durable:

In which you can place a maximum

€12,000 per person plus accrued interest.

All banks and the post office offer them.

They aren’t spectacular at giving you

interest but keeping a level of available

cash is always a good idea.

With the remainder of the cash, there are

several things to consider. Do you want

income? If so how much? Do you want a

nest egg?

If you are investing more than €30,000

and are under the age of 70, then the

following option could be considered: A

‘Contrats d’Assurance Vie’ or life

investment policy.

The short version of what is means, is that

it is an open ended investment policy that

can potentially hold multi-currencies and

different types of investment according to

need and the level of risk you want to want

to take.

It has great tax advantages for the

policyholder as well as inheritance benefits.

There is no limit to how much you can

place in one of these vehicles but they

usually require a minimum of £20,000 -

£30,000 and some offer the opportunity

for monthly contributions.

They are often considered an 8 year policy

as the tax benefits ramp up at that stage

but they are generally open ended. Some

companies have a penalty clause for early


Want to know more? Then please do

contact me for more information, there’s no


Jennie Poate can be

contacted at:

jennie @


Beacon Global Wealth website:


See next page for more questions

The information on these pages is intended only as an introduction only and is not designed to

offer solutions or advice. Beacon Global Wealth Management can accept no responsibility

whatsoever for losses incurred by acting on the information on thiese pages.

The financial advisers trading under Beacon Wealth Management are members of Nexus Global

(IFA Network). Nexus Global is a division within Blacktower Financial Management

(International) Limited (BFMI).All approved individual members of Nexus Global are Appointed

Representatives of BFMI. BFMI is licenced and regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services

Commission and bound by their rules under licence number FSC00805B

ask the experts


I am an American living half the year in France and the other half in Hawaii. It is not a

bad gig.

I have struggled with my bank account in France. I can access it when in France, but

cannot in the states. It makes it very difficult to verify transfers, bill payments, etc. I

would love to know if anyone else has had better luck.

Also, a comparison of fees would be helpful and services offered. Since I couldn't access

my account from the states, I had no idea my internet bill was not being paid until a

guest said there was no internet connection.

I would find it helpful to know which banks offer an English speaking department or one

that regularly services expats. Online banking in English would be a dream come true.

Is there any way Credit Agricole Britline can help non UK clients?


Britline Credit Agricole (English language banking for expats in France)

Some banks may “switch off” the online

banking facilities they provide if you are

classed as a non-resident. This may not

always make sense as being a non –

resident is usually when you need this type

of access more than ever . The bank may

decide to do this for security reasons to

protect your account but unfortunately this

can backfire if you are due to receive

electronic statements or simply want to

follow your account.

It is possible to find English speaking

banking services and some banks provide

a website in English. Often these are very

limited and online banking is still not

available in English. Other services

available are English speaking telephone

based teams, for example CA Atlantique

Vendée, Anjou-Maine and Aquitaine.

Sometimes English speaking advisors can

be found in branches eg CA Charente


Up to now the service that provides

everything under one roof from banking,

insurance, mortgage and savings to a

bespoke International Payments Service for

currency exchange, with a team of 40

bilingual and bicultural advisors, is us at CA


At CA Britline we have also developed an

app ‘My Britline’ which enables you to have

online banking facilities in English.

If you are fiscally resident in France, the UK

or Ireland, you may be eligible for a CA

Britline account. However if you are a US

resident we would advise you to contact a

"Direct" service of CA, such as www.


Website for CA Britline:


Dreaming of moving to France?

Top Tips to help you make the move...

Have you been considering a move to

France but don’t know where to start? We

talk to the experts at Renestance who help

English-speakers to settle in France about

their key tips to help you make a smooth


Dream vividly but not wildly

What are you hoping to find? Blue skies,

time to travel, better social life, lots of

wine? Be specific about how you imagine

your future life in France.

Is part of you expecting life in France to be

better in every way? Be careful of

unrealistic expectations and issues that

follow you wherever you go.

What do the people you’re moving with

dream of? Are your visions compatible?

Measure twice, cut once

Explore the areas that interest you – try to

do some reconnaissance trips.

Match your nesting place to your timeline.

Do you plan to live there year-round

indefinitely, do a two-year sabbatical, or

just stay for summers? If you’re rebuilding

your nest in France permanently, visit

during low season and under the rain, if

possible. Also consider renting before


Mind your money

Find the best way to exchange currency

and move money across borders.

Expect hurdles setting up your French bank

account (especially if American) – you’ll

need a proof of address in France and a

thick dossier of papers.

Understand the tax implications of earning

and investing money in France.

Find out how your retirement savings will

be impacted by your move.

Get your affairs in order at home

What will you do with your home? Do you

need to plan for trips back to manage


Do you have family or work-related issues

at home that will require your presence?

Go electronic

Even if you keep an address back home,

you’ll need to access all accounts,

statements and records from France.Make

sure you have internet connected in your

new home ASAP.

Choose a provider with free calls to mobiles

and fixed lines back home.

Skype and Facetime are great to see AND

hear them, but it does require good


Arm yourself for administrative


Are you allowed to work or run a business

in France? Do you already have a job here?

If not, will you find a job you’re qualified for?

Can you work remotely for a non-French


If moving with children, make sure you

know grade level equivalencies, school

start dates (not January as in AUS/NZ!),

and entrance requirements.

Obtain sufficient health coverage in France

(visas for non-EU nationals require it) and

bring your medical records and

prescriptions if you have ongoing issues.

Parlez français

Yes, everyone’s innate language ability is


Yes, you’ve heard about people living in

France for 20 years and getting by with

only English.

But your experience will be more enriching

the more comfortable you are with the

language. And no, there is no easy app or

trick to becoming fluent in French - it takes

hundreds of hours of practice listening,

speaking and reading - but one day you

will succeed!

Make friends with the natives…or


Meet and talk to as many people as

possible, even if it’s hard for you. You never

know what you might have in common

with someone, or who will introduce you to

your next best friend. Don’t expect the

French to seek you out and include you in

their social circles right away. They

probably had friends before you arrived

and tend to build friendships at a more

cautious pace.

Pursue your passions and interests. What

better way to find like-minded people and

become part of your community, all while

doing what you love?

Don’t exclude expats for fear of speaking

too much English or not integrating with

locals. Not only are expats a wealth of

information when you’re settling in, but

they are often your bridge to meeting

French locals.

Expect to panic

Even if you’ve lived abroad before, are not

crossing several time zones, nor making a

radical change in your lifestyle (just

married, retiring, starting a business…), the

sheer volume of unknowns and differences

will likely overwhelm you at some point.

You will constantly confront cultural

differences. Things take more time to get

done. People are not as smiley/friendly and

aren’t afraid to contradict you. If you’re

coming from outside Europe, everything is

smaller in France. Basically, it can seem like

nothing is easy!

You are no longer in a place where you

master the environment. It can be quite

humbling to be ‘the foreigner.’

Trust yourself

If you’ve followed the tips above, you know

this isn’t just a poorly-planned whim. Have

faith in your vision and your preparation.

Give it time. ‘There’s no place like home,’

and it’s natural to wonder when/if you’ll

ever feel at home in France. One day you

will, and you’ll know because you went

home and found it doesn’t really feel like it

anymore. Then you’ll look forward to going

home to your nest in France.

Renestance can assist you during each

step of the way. Whether you're thinking

about moving, in the planning phase, or

have been in France for a while now and

could use some help with administrative

matters, visit www.renestance.com for more


Get a monthly recap by signing up for our

free newsletter!

Omelette a la Mère Poulard

Mère Poulard at Mont St Michel makes the most legendary omelette in France. It’s

cooked over an open fire, in a copper pan with a very long handle. Although her recipe is

a well-kept secret, many French chefs claim to know it and there is a plethora of

theories: no whites, whites whipped separately, adding crème fraiche, Normandy butter,

etc etc. But no one really knows! So if you visit Mont Saint Michel, and can afford a €35

omelette, it’s a historic experience.

American Mary Pochez who runs cookery classes at the stunning 18th century Château

de la Barbée in the Loire, shares her take on this classic recipe.

Ingredients for one large omelette

4 eggs

12 cl of crème fraiche

Salt and pepper

40 gr of butter

Optional: Mushrooms, cheese and lardons

1. In a bowl, crack open 2 eggs. Add the

yolks of 2 more, leaving 2 whites aside.

Whip the eggs on low speed for 5 minutes

and add the crème fraiche, beating for

another 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

2. Whip the 2 other whites into soft peaks

and fold gently into the rest of the eggs.

3. Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan and

pour egg mixture into the hot pan*. Cook

slowly for about 5 minutes, the surface

should be slightly liquid still – then fold in


Serve immediately while it’s still hot, with a

green salad and/or fried potatoes.

*If you want to add cheese, sprinkle on top

while cooking.

** Fry mushrooms and lardons and

sprinkled on top before folding

Find more recipes and details for Mary's fabulous cookery courses: www.lavieduchateau.


Eeasy, peasy, lemon squeezy Tarte au Citron...

A lush recipe from Sara Neumeier, inspired by her neighbour Christine in France.

It’s perfect for summer with just five ingredients and no baking!

To adjust the level of sweetness, you can add or subtract from the amount of condensed

milk—it’s pretty fool proof.

Ingredients: Serves 8

8 ounces gingersnap cookies, finely ground

5 ounces unsalted butter, melted

16 ounces mascarpone cheese

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 3 to 4 lemons, depending on desired tartness

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (about half a 14-ounce can)

1. In a medium bowl combine gingersnap crumbs and melted butter. Press evenly into

the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart tin. Set aside.

2. Using a hand-held or standing mixer on low, combine remaining ingredients until

smooth. Pour into reserved crust, smoothing top with a spatula. Refrigerate at least 4

hours or overnight before serving.

That’s it!

Bon appetit!

Sara Neumeier is a New York food stylist who shares a summer cottage in the Dordogne

with her parents.

She and her recipes are featured in the memoir Beginning French by Les Américains


Marini res

Chef Spencer Richards from Normandy

Cooking Days gives a lesson on how to

make the most perfect Moules Marinieres...

Moules Marinières, that oh-so-French dish

that we all love – did you know though that

if you add cream to the stock, it’s called

Moules Normandie?!

So let’s start with a few basics. You will find

great moules at markets in France as well

as in shops. You should be able to find

them at supermarkets and fishmongers in

most towns around the world. They come

in different sizes, personally I prefer the

smallest ones, I find them sweeter and a

stronger colour than the big ones. It takes

longer to eat them, but what’s the hurry?

You have a delicious bottle of chilled

Chablis to drink them with, right?

I like to buy them in the morning and leave

them in cold water for the day to give them

a final wash. You should discard any that

are broken and any open ones should

close when you tap them, if they don’t

chuck them away – they’re dead. Then cut

or pull off any rope (beards) left attached to

the shell.

You can cook the mussels in batches if you

only have small pans, but remember to

retain the stock for each batch.

"Always use the shells as pincers

to eat the next one with"

You'll need

A large pot with a lid (or a moules pot)

500g of fresh mussels in the shell per


1 Large Onion

1 Head of Celery

2 or more Cloves of Garlic

Bouquet Garni

Butter or Olive Oil

½ litre of water

1 glass of Dry White Wine


Optional Extras: Cream; apple juiceor still

Cider orCalvados (apple brandy)

1. Rough dice the onion and celery and

sweat them in your biggest pot with some

olive oil (or butter).

2. Add the garlic and sweat the mix some

more (you do not want to caramelise or

colour any of this).

3. Add the water and a pinch of salt and

the wine (check it’s up to standard first).

4. Add the bouquet Garni. Let it all come up

to the boil and then add the mussels.

Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or

until they have all opened. (Discard any

that didn’t open during the cooking


Serve in bowls, cover with stock, sprinkle

some fresh parsley over and eat with fresh

baguette and good friends.

To give your moules dish a Normandy

twist, add a splash of flat (not fizzy) cider or

better still Calvados ( apple juice for those

on a detox) and then a couple of tablespoons

of cream. Always use heavy or

double as single will split.

La Vie du Chateau - brilliant

cooking classes in an 18th century

chateau in the Loire Valley.

Learn to make classic French

dishes, English language cookery

lessons that are fabulous and fun

in a unique & gorgeous setting in

an all inclusive holiday.

Click to read more about it

Website: Lavieduchateau.com

Hidden Veggie Pop up

restaurant in Haute Vienne at

Saint Laurent-sur-Gorre, close to


Enjoy a delicious flavour-popping

vegetarian (or vegan) homecooked

dish in the home of a local

in a fun and authentic


Click to read more about it

Normandy Cooking Days - learn

to cook with a British chef in

Normandy close to Mont St Michel.

On this one day course you'll shop

at the markets, create classic,

scrumptious Norman dishes &

learn about the famous

gastronomy of Normandy

Click to read more about it

Website: Normandycookingdays.


Cookies Campers - the ultimate

glampervan holiday in the south

of France. Hire a luxury

campervan & enjoy the freedom

of the open road and the glorious

outdoors. Go where you want,

when you want & stop off where

you like in the sunny south.

Click to read more about it

Website: Cookies-campers.com

Experience (My) France tours of

Aveyron. Veronique, a local, will

show you this little known part of

France in all its stunning glory.

Medieval villages, flowery

meadows, forested gorges &

vineyards that cling to the sides of

steep hills. This is a part of

France to be savoured...

Click to read more about it

Website: experiencemyfrance.

Expat Dating France

If you're looking to make new

friends in France or perhaps to

find someone to share the good

life with, Expat Dating in France

may just be the thing. Set up by

an expat who herself found it

hard to make friends, it's a great

way to meet like-minded people

Click to read more about it

Website: Expatdatingfrance.com

Artistic Gourmet Adventures

Holiday in France that inspire

Tours that show you real France

with an itinerary that's perfect for

you and that won't rush you on and

off a bus with hundreds of others.

Have an adventure of a lifetime

with one of these fabulous, luxury


Click here to read more about it



Paris Chanson

If you love French music, culture,

history and fun facts then click

onto Radio Paris Chanson,

English language radio for

Francophiles everywhere. They

play the "golden age" of music,

share loads of great facts and


Click here to read more about it

Website: radioparischanson.com

Tours du Tarn - cycling holidays.

Offering some of the best cycling

terrain in France, this brand new

centre based company is opening

up the Tarn for all levels of riders.

Training breaks, guided, selfguided,

beginners, weekends &

longer fabulous cycling holidays

in a stunning location.

Click here to read more about it

Website: Tarncyclingholidays.

The Happpy Hamlet

Discover a stunning retreat in a

centuries old farm-hamlet in

southwest France, Tarn et

Garronne. The perfect get-away

with lush accommodation,

fabulous food and wine & loads of

activities from music and art to

yoga & well-being and more.

Click here to read more about it

Website: Thehappyhamlet.com

It's been a crazy few months for me and things have been quite topsy

turvy at home. The reason is - I wrote a book, and it got published. I've got

to tell you it's quite surreal to walk into a branch of WHSmith in the UK

and see your name on the shelf! I have been taking selfies surreptitously,

grinning like a fool next to book "my" shelves in Waterstones. It's even in

Shakespeare & Co. one of my favourite book shops in Paris (and it's in

WHSmith at 148 Rue de Rivoli Paris, opposite the Tuileries Gardens!).

Okay that is the shameless plug almost over with - except if you'd like to

buy it, "My Good Life in France", my story of how I came to France by

accident, gave up my dream job for love and acquired 60 animals and an

understanding of the culture of my adopted country and a whole lot more,

is out in the UK (Australia 1 July and Us soon) and on Amazon


My animals of course have not noticed any of this furore going on. To

them I am simply the maid, cleaner, cuddler and mad woman who gets up

early every morning to feed, water, walk and love them.

"Do you need grounding now you're a famous author" asked my sister, I

think she was joking. Anyway the answer is no, not really, not when I have

to clean out chicken coops after I've just been interviewed by the Daily

Express. Not when I have to worm the cats, after I've just done a live radio

show. Not when I have to clear up after two orphaned baby chickens who

had to live in the house for three weeks as they needed some special TLC

just as I'm about to be interviewed by Woman's Own Magazine.

Writing a book is a dream come true for me and I thank you all because

everyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter, who visits my website,

who reads this magazine - you've been my inspiration.

Thank you.

Bisous from France,

Janine xx

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