Issue No. 12

Sensational cities to tiny villages, food and wine, culture and heritage. Champagne, an aristocratic saffron grower, Anger, Montparnasse, Morzeine, Carol Drinkwater shares her passion for France. Gorgeous photos and fabulous features will transport you to the heart of France in this brilliant, free magazine...

Sensational cities to tiny villages, food and wine, culture and heritage. Champagne, an aristocratic saffron grower, Anger, Montparnasse, Morzeine, Carol Drinkwater shares her passion for France. Gorgeous photos and fabulous features will transport you to the heart of France in this brilliant, free magazine...

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And much, much more

With<br />

love<br />

from<br />

France<br />

Bonjour and bienvenue to the Autumn issue of The Good Life France Magazine.<br />

At this time of the year thoughts turn to the pleasures of autumn and cooler nights<br />

enjoyed with a chocolat chaud. It's also a good time to start looking for your dream home<br />

in France, I always think if you see it in the winter and still love it, it's got to be a<br />

contender! To help you discover the best of what's on offer around France, we'll be<br />

bringing you top tips about the places we visit - a little inspiration is good for the soul!<br />

In this issue you'll discover the stunning Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the largest private<br />

residence in France and location for the filming of bonkbuster TV series "Versailles" -<br />

Downton Abbey eat your heart out!<br />

We bring you five lush places to take an autumn break with a vineyard theme, and chat<br />

to author and actress Carol Drinkwater about what makes her love France. We visit<br />

Auvergne, Paris, Angers in the Loire Valley, Langres in Champagne and three gorgeous<br />

towns off the beaten track in Dordogne.<br />

Discover the flavours of Provence and check out the lovely autumnal recipes in this issue<br />

from blackberry muffins to rice pudding with saffron and a simply irresistible apple pie.<br />

For expats and wannabe expats there's tons of great information on finance, property<br />

and how to get a Carte de Residente in France.<br />

There are links you can click for additional information throughout to enhance your<br />

reading pleasure in this jam packed issue and yes - we do even have a recipe for jam!<br />

With best wishes and bisous from France<br />

Janine<br />


Our Contributors<br />

Karen Booth-Burns is our queen of French cuisine. A<br />

freelance food and travel writer, recipe developer and<br />

food stylist with a passion for local, seasonal<br />

ingredients. She has an award winning blog and runs<br />

a seasonal cookery school in SW France:<br />

lavenderandlovage<br />

Carol Drinkwater is a multi award-winning actress<br />

who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot<br />

in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and<br />

Small. She is the author of twenty-one books, both<br />

fiction and non-fiction, and has achieved bestselling<br />

status, over a million copies sold worldwide with her<br />

quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south<br />

of France.<br />

Peter Jones is our regular columnist. A writer and<br />

photographer with a French mother and a Welsh<br />

father, he brings a fresh insight to the world of travel<br />

writing. He is a freelance writer for newspapers and<br />

magazines.<br />

www.jonesphotos.co.uk<br />

Dr Terry Marsh is a regular contributor to The Good<br />

Life France. He has written extensively for<br />

magazines and produced guidebooks for walkers in<br />

the French Pyrenees and the French Alps. He runs<br />

the France travel websites - francediscovered &<br />

lovefrenchfood<br />

Linda Matthieu is a regular contributor to The Good<br />

Life France. She's an American photographer living in<br />

France with her French husband. and is the Author of<br />

Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide.<br />

lindamathieu.com<br />

Duncan JD Smith is a historian and photographer.<br />

Since 2003 he has been exploring European cities<br />

and publishing his findings in the ground breaking<br />

‘Only In’ Guides. Visit www.onlyinguides.com for more<br />

details.<br />

Editor: Janine Marsh<br />

Deputy Editor: Lucy Pitts<br />

Editorial Assistant: Sandra Davis<br />

Creative Designer: Mark Allen<br />

Technical Support: Umbrella Web Solutions

Page 32<br />

Page 10<br />

Above: Chateau Vaux-le-<br />

Vicomte; right above, cycling in<br />

Champagne in Autumn; right<br />

Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris<br />

Page 46<br />


10 Chateau de Vaux-le-<br />

Vicomte<br />

A story of betrayal, passion and love at this<br />

magnificent castle.<br />

18 A passion for France<br />

We chat to Carol Drinkwater about her<br />

favourite French things.<br />

24 5 fabulous autumn visits<br />

With a vineyard theme - utterly glorious...<br />

32 Secret part of Champagne<br />

The Haut-Marne department...<br />

42 Saffron Spice and all things nice<br />

Susan Hunting meets a couple who grow<br />

saffron in France.<br />

46 The Magic of Montparnasse<br />

<strong>No</strong>t as touristy as some Paris districts<br />

Duncan Smith says it has a lot to offer.<br />

52 A long weekend in Auvergne<br />

Peter Jones visits the Volcanic region.<br />

58 Mini break to Angers<br />

Terry Marsh finds a Loire Valley gem.

Page 76<br />

Page 64 Page 72<br />

Features continued<br />

64 The flavours of Provence<br />

A feast for your eyes - and your taste buds.<br />

68 All in a good Causse<br />

Discover three sensational villages in the<br />

Dordogne.<br />

72 Interview with a Francophile<br />

A new series in which we find out what<br />

makes France so loved...<br />

76 A week in Morzine<br />

Lucy Pitts discovers there's more to<br />

Morzine than snow!<br />

82 The incredible Cave of Pont d’Arc<br />

Linda Matthieu finds the extraordinary<br />

replica cave is as good as the real thing.<br />

Regular<br />

8 Events in Autumn<br />

86 French Tongue Twisters<br />

Improve your French with these tricky<br />

phrases!<br />

88 5 Minute French Lesson<br />

5 easy expressions that will help you pass<br />

for French.<br />

92 The Good Life in… The French Alps<br />

Expats in Morzine share their story...<br />

106 The Good Life in… The Auvergne<br />

Expats in Auvergne share their story...<br />

118 My Good Life in France<br />

It's La Rentree!

Page 24<br />

Page 117<br />

Page 9<br />

Ask the Experts<br />

Your chance to ask questions about life in<br />

France - finance, property, tips and lots<br />

more.<br />

96 Top Tips for a move to France<br />

100 Currency Exchange – what does it<br />

mean to you?<br />

102 What is a Carte de Resident –<br />

and how do I get one<br />

104 Property Guide<br />

Contests<br />

84-85 4 fab books to win<br />

86 Win a 6 month French language<br />

course<br />

Gastronomy<br />

1<strong>12</strong> Autumn apple & pear filo parcel<br />

114 Coquille St Jacques with a truffle<br />

and Sauternes sauce<br />

115 Baked Saffron Pudding<br />

116 Blackberry jam<br />

117 Blackberry muffins<br />

Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram<br />

New content daily on our website!

19 September -2 October France Gourmet<br />

Week known as “Tous Au Restaurant”. All<br />

over France restaurants will offer a buy one<br />

meal, get one free menu. Search on the<br />

website for participating restaurants:<br />

tousaurestaurant<br />

23-25 September Fete de la Gastronomie.<br />

Every corner of France will come alive with<br />

events to celebrate its UNESCO-listed<br />

‘world intangible heritage’ status. From<br />

grand-scale concerts to local sing-a-longs,<br />

Michelin-star set menus to small village<br />

Nuit Blanche<br />

It’ll be all white on the<br />

night<br />

1 October Nuit Blanche Paris. See Paris in<br />

an entirely new light. From 7pm until 7am<br />

hundreds of museums, galleries, cinemas<br />

and even swimming pools open their doors<br />

for free for a night-time celebration of art<br />

and culture. Performances, light<br />

installations, concerts and exhibitions will<br />

be held across Paris, across the city and if<br />

you stay awake till dawn, many town halls<br />

provide breakfast! www.paris.fr<br />

La Rochelle Rocks to the<br />

banquets, the country will celebrate one of<br />

its most popular claims to fame. economie.<br />

gouv.fr<br />

17 and 18 September Journées<br />

Européennes du Patrimoine/European<br />

Heritage Days. Across France hundreds of<br />

historical buildings, famous monuments,<br />

Government sites and places of interest –<br />

some of which are normally closed to the<br />

public, open their doors and welcome in<br />

visitors. journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr<br />

Credit Paris Tourist Office Amellie Dupont<br />

La<br />

Rochelle<br />

Rythm<br />

1-9 October Jazz Entre les Deux Tours La<br />

Rochelle, Poitou-Charentes. The two<br />

famous towers that guard the old port of<br />

this most picturesque port town have given<br />

their name to this popular musical fete.<br />

International and local musicians play in<br />

venues around the city in a mix of free and<br />

paid concerts. www.jazzentrelesdeuxtours.<br />

fr<br />

2 October Fete du Gateau Basque. Legend<br />

says that the famous Gâteau Basque has<br />

its origins in the village of Cambo-les-Bains<br />

in Pyrénées-Atlantiques so the village

8 October Retour des Alpages, Annecy,<br />

Rhône-Alpes. When Autumn returns, the<br />

cattle who spend the summer enjoying the<br />

alpine pastures are led back to the bottom<br />

of the valley for winter as its warmer than<br />

at the top. This transhumance is celebrated<br />

in the charming, historic city of Annecy<br />

every year on the second Saturday in<br />

October when cattle are paraded through<br />

the streets and there are artisans,<br />

craftspeople, local producers and<br />

traditional bands ready to herald and<br />

celebrate the changing of the seasons.<br />

www.lac-annecy.com<br />

8-9 October Fete de la Crevette in Honfleur.<br />

The lovely port town of <strong>No</strong>rmandy<br />

celebrates the crevette grise each year with<br />

a festival. Expect to sing-a-long to sea<br />

shanties, eat plenty of shrimp and fish and<br />

cheer on the contestants in a shrimp<br />

peeling contest! www.ot-honfleur.fr<br />

10-16 October La Semaine du Goût. Across<br />

France – a celebration of French cuisine<br />

and a chance to learn more about the food<br />

we eat. www.legout.com<br />

Get fired up at a pepper<br />

festival<br />

29-30 October Fête du Piment, Espelette,<br />

Pyrénées-Atlantiques. The piment<br />

d’Espelette pepper is celebrated in the<br />

Pyrénées-Atlantiques in a town called<br />

Espelette. There’s a blessing of the pepper<br />

harvest and a food market plus lots of<br />

restaurants serve special dishes in honour<br />

of the pepper of course. The festival dates<br />

back to the mid 1600’s and it’s a lot of fiery<br />

Esplette<br />

Honfleur<br />

Credit Janine Redman<br />

1 <strong>No</strong>vember National Holiday La Toussaint/<br />

All Saints’ Day. All over France pots of<br />

chrysanthemums are placed on graves as<br />

loved ones who have passed on are<br />

remembered.<br />

11 <strong>No</strong>vember National Holiday Armistice<br />

1918. Commemorative services will be held<br />

all over France in honour of those who lost<br />

their lives at war.<br />

Credit Shauna Jenkins Tomlin<br />

17 <strong>No</strong>vember Beaujolais <strong>No</strong>uveau day. The<br />

new season’s wine arrives on the third<br />

Thursday of <strong>No</strong>vember each year, the<br />

festivities start at midnight on Wednesday<br />

for this serious drinking event. See what’s<br />

on in Beaujolais: Beaujolais <strong>No</strong>uveau Fetes<br />

Many Christmas markets start in <strong>No</strong>vember<br />

and we’ll be bringing you lots of info in the<br />

next issue The Good Life France.<br />

Please note that events are subject to change - please verify details on the events websites.

The ravishing Chateau<br />

de Vaux-le-Vicomte

© Beatrice Lecuyer-Bibal<br />

The Chateau de Vaux-Le-Vicomte is one of those places that looks<br />

utterly gorgeous in photos but when you view it for real looks even<br />

better says Janine Marsh as she takes a day trip from Paris....<br />

You may have seen it recently and not<br />

even realised. If you’re a fan of the TV<br />

series “Versailles”, the raunchy bonkbuster<br />

serial about the shenanigans of the<br />

Royals and aristos of Louis XIV’s court,<br />

then it may surprise you to know that<br />

much of the filming took place at the<br />

Chateau de Vaux-Le-Vicomte – not at the<br />

Chateau of Versailles. The producers of the<br />

“Versailles” have really done their<br />

homework on the look of the day, from the<br />

shoes, dresses and hairstyles to the<br />

furnishings and architecture. Whilst the<br />

Chateau of Versailles may seem an<br />

obvious choice as the location for filming,<br />

in fact, the décor there is largely 18th<br />

century, a hundred years too late for the<br />

authentic look sought. Vaux-Le-Vicomte<br />

though, has retained its 17th century<br />

beauty, and, as the prototype and<br />

inspiration for the later Chateau de<br />

Versailles – it was the perfect place to film.<br />

Scene from "Versailles" at<br />

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte<br />

Above: The chateau on a<br />

winter's day; below:<br />

filming "Versailles" at<br />


The history of Vaux-le-<br />

Vicomte<br />

This is a chateau with an exquisite and<br />

electrifying heritage. A tale of passion,<br />

betrayal, corruption and despair which<br />

shaped the history of France was played<br />

out here. You feel it in the kitchens with<br />

their gleaming copper pans, in the<br />

beautifully furnished rooms with their<br />

paintings and tapestries and gilded this<br />

and that, in the gardens which look as they<br />

did when Le <strong>No</strong>tre, the king's favourite<br />

gardener designed them. There is an echo<br />

of the past here and you can't avoid it.<br />

Enter those grand gates, climb the<br />

imposing staircase, and remember that<br />

there, in 1661 stood the owner, a man called<br />

Nicolas Fouquet. He was waiting to<br />

welcome his King to the newly built<br />

chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte. It was 17 August,<br />

a hot, sultry night. Fouquet had served<br />

Louis XIV well and loyally as his minister of<br />

finances, and that night he hoped to wow<br />

him by entertaining him in great style.<br />

Fouquet had invested a small fortune in<br />

the design and building of the chateau,<br />

bringing together three greats from French<br />

history, Le Brun the painter, Le Vau the<br />

architect and Le <strong>No</strong>tre the gardener. To the<br />

onlooker it wasn’t just fabulous, it was<br />

dizzying in its beauty.<br />

The chateau and gardens had taken 20<br />

years to create. The night the King came, it<br />

wasn’t quite finished. Painters of ceilings<br />

and walls downed tools, masons carving<br />

statues swept up and made everything<br />

look as good as it could and got out of the<br />

way before the King arrived. Even<br />

unfinished, the result was ravishing.<br />

The King’s carriage swept into the<br />

courtyard, he alighted and stood at the<br />

bottom of the stairs looking up at Fouquet,<br />

the minister was proud of his achievement,<br />

quite possibly the most beautiful castle in<br />

all of France. Hours later, the fate of the<br />

minister and the chateau was sealed by a<br />

jealous King. Never again would anyone<br />

stand higher than Louis XIV or have a<br />

chateau more beautiful than his.<br />

The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte has<br />

appeared in some 80 films including Marie<br />

Antoinete, Moonraker and The Man With The<br />

Iron mask, who incidentally was imprisoned<br />

alongside Fouquet

Instead of staying the night in the bedroom<br />

designed especially for him, with a view of a giant<br />

crown in a lake, which he was supposed to see upon<br />

waking next morning, the king cut short his visit. He<br />

travelled to his own chateau of Fontainebleau, a<br />

journey of three hours by horse and carriage.<br />

Resentful of Fouquet's opulent display of wealth,<br />

incensed by being left at the bottom of the stairs,<br />

prey to the whispers of those who sought to remove<br />

Fouquet from his position of trusted advisor, the<br />

young King had his minister arrested just two weeks<br />

later on 5 September 1661.<br />

Louis had everything in the Chateau removed and<br />

taken to Versailles – the furniture, paintings,<br />

tapestries, ornaments, beds and even the orange<br />

trees in their pots in the garden. He also took Le<br />

Brun and Le <strong>No</strong>tre and commanded them to help<br />

him turn Versailles, then a glorified hunting lodge,<br />

into the incredible monument we see today.<br />

A show trial took place, with accusations of<br />

Fouquet's having swindled his royal master to build<br />

his chateau. The allegations were backed up by<br />

crooked witnesses and fake paperwork fuelled by<br />

jealous ministers who wanted the King’s allegiance<br />

for themselves. Fouquet, having supported the King<br />

through thick and thin was exiled. It wasn’t enough<br />

for Louis, he recalled Fouquet and had him<br />

imprisoned until he died in 1680.<br />

Vaux le Vicomte went to sleep and from that day no<br />

King every slept there, though it was designed to be<br />

fit for royalty.<br />

The Chateau today - biggest privately owned<br />

home in France<br />

The painters who had put away their<br />

brushes out of sight of the party guests<br />

never returned. Some of the walls of Vauxle-Vicomte<br />

remain unpainted (you’ll see<br />

this in the apartment of the King’s<br />

chamber). There are plain plaster cherubs<br />

and nudes in some rooms lacking the<br />

colour of the finished pieces in other rooms.<br />

Two major ceilings have temporary<br />

paintings, added in 1875 to cover their<br />

bareness. Some statues are not quite as<br />

elegant as others - stand with your back to<br />

the Chateau looking at the grand entrance,<br />

and you’ll see some statues have square<br />

heads, the sculptor hadn’t finished them.<br />

In 1875 the chateau was bought by the<br />

ancestors of the de Vogüé family who now<br />

live in the chateau. It is the largest privately<br />

owned home in France.

© Beatrice Lecuer-Bibal<br />

Above: The grand<br />

entrance hall; right,<br />

detail on shutter; below:<br />

dining room; right one of<br />

the sumptuously<br />

decorated rooms

Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte<br />

Today<br />

Video tells history of the chaeau in under<br />

4 minutes with beautiful imagery<br />

The de Vogüé family have over the past 150<br />

years, devoted themselves to restoring and<br />

maintaining the chateau, forging ties with<br />

universities and schools. They bought<br />

furniture and ornaments of the right period,<br />

piece by piece and returned the garden to its<br />

original design. Their aim is to make sure<br />

Vaux-le-Vicomte's legacy is protected for<br />

future generations to enjoy.<br />

Despite its grandeur and captivating beauty,<br />

this place is nevertheless still a home.<br />

Alexander de Vogüé, son of the Count and<br />

Countess who live there, and often spotted<br />

wandering around, recalls playing here as a<br />

child, hurrying to hide his toys behind the<br />

curtains before chateau visitors arrived.<br />

These days his parents live in a wing of the<br />

chateau, and, with 300,000 visitors a year<br />

things are run more professionally.<br />

Vaux-le-Vicomte today retains an air of the<br />

past. In winter fires are lit to warm the<br />

rooms. At Christmas this stunning palace<br />

comes alive with magnificent decorations,<br />

festive rides, snow and seasonal music, and,<br />

by the way, the gift shop is superb, the<br />

Countess personally chooses all the<br />

merchandise.<br />

Look out for squirrels, a nod to the past<br />

and Fouquet. His name means squirrel in<br />

French and he had the furry red creature<br />

depicted in paintings on the walls, ceilings<br />

and shutters over the grand windows<br />

(below right).<br />

Rent a costume from the chateau shop, it's<br />

just 3 euros for kids and adults, dress up<br />

like a King or Queen as you wander the<br />

rooms and grounds.<br />

Go on a Saturday night in summer months<br />

and enjoy the spellbinding sight of 2000<br />

candles in the gardens and some of the<br />

rooms.<br />

Seeing the chateau in the mellow candle<br />

light really makes the place feel special,<br />

and sends shivers down your spine at the<br />

thought that this is just how it would have<br />

looked that fateful summer's night in 1661...

© Beatrice Lecuyer-Bibal<br />

Out in the gardens you can’t help but be awed by the cleverness of Le <strong>No</strong>tre's design.<br />

Head gardener Patrick Borgeot explains that everything was designed for viewing<br />

pleasure from different parts of the garden and chateau. Hidden canals, topiary designs<br />

that look different from the top of the steps than they do from the bottom of the steps.<br />

There are follies, statues, fountains, ornamental planting, even a waterfall. The gardens<br />

are exquisite and if you don’t want to miss anything, you can rent a buggy to get round it<br />

all, which is also a lot of fun.<br />

As you stand in the garden looking up at the chateau with its wedding cake style dome<br />

and its marvellous symmetry you can understand that the compelling splendour of this<br />

place would drive a King insane with jealousy – it really is breath-takingly beautiful.<br />

How to get there<br />

It’s an easy visit from Paris. From Gare de l’Est,<br />

take a train to Verneuil l'Etang and there is a<br />

shuttle bus service to and from the station.<br />

(<strong>No</strong>te: do check return times for the train,<br />

especially on weekends)<br />

The Chateau is open daily (including bank<br />

holidays) from April 1 to <strong>No</strong>vember 2, 2016 (but<br />

check the website in case of exceptional<br />

closings) and weekends all year round.<br />

There is a restaurant on site as well as picnic<br />

areas and on Saturday nights a bar and<br />

restaurant are available for candlelit soirees –<br />

Champagne and macarons in the gardens of this<br />

fabulous palace – yes please!<br />

Website: www.vaux-le-vicomte

Fontaine de Vaucluse Provence, credit Bjorn Stumer<br />

"Long lunches where<br />

children do not have to<br />

sit still and not make a<br />

Multi-award winning actress and best-selling author Carol Drinkwater talks<br />

to Janine Marsh about her passion for France...<br />

Where was your first visit to France?<br />

It is hard to remember now. I think it must<br />

have been when I was about ten and<br />

travelled with my parents to “the<br />

Continent” for a holiday. We were on a<br />

coach tour en route for Italy. Along the way<br />

we made many stops over several days in<br />

France, including Paris, Lyon, the French<br />

Riviera. I remember whizzing through the<br />

Alps and how afraid my mother was that<br />

the driver would miss one of the hairpin<br />

bends and we would go flying off the<br />

narrow mountain road. I remember the<br />

stunning scenery, so dramatic, in the<br />

mountains; the long lunches where<br />

children did not have to sit still and not<br />

make a sound; I remember church bells<br />

tolling; I remember descending towards the<br />

glistening Mediterranean sea for the first<br />

time. We had climbed so high into the Alps<br />

and from my child’s eye, it was all to give us<br />

that first long-distance glimpse, that<br />

astounding perspective on where land slips<br />

beneath turquoise water. The white Belle<br />

Epoque villas like giant sugar cubes; the<br />

yachts; the cries of families playing in the<br />

sea; the wash of waves. Monte Carlo where,<br />

my mother told me, a Prince and Princess<br />

lived in a palace on a cliff-top looking out to<br />

sea. It was all magical.

What are your favourite places in<br />

France and why?<br />

I love Paris and the Cote d’Azur, but I also<br />

love the area around Biarritz down<br />

towards Spain along the Atlantic coast.<br />

Still, Paris and the Cote d’Azur get my<br />

vote. Paris, for the very obvious reasons<br />

that it is one of the greatest and most<br />

beautiful cities in the world. Its choice of<br />

art exhibitions and cinema is probably<br />

only matched by New York. I am not a city<br />

person, or no longer, but I am always<br />

excited when I arrive back in Paris<br />

because I know that for several days I will<br />

be running from one place to another, and<br />

there will be so much to see, friends to<br />

meet and talk with.<br />

There is a very deep-rooted support of the<br />

arts in France and nowhere is it more<br />

apparent than in Paris. Quality of life<br />

matters; freedom of speech is a<br />

fundamental here; respect for the<br />

individual and each individual’s belief,<br />

sexuality, lifestyle. France is a republic,<br />

and that is also deeply rooted within the<br />

national psyche.<br />

What do you think makes France a<br />

great place to visit?<br />

Looking at everywhere in the world I have<br />

visited or lived, there is nowhere else, in<br />

my opinion, that has the balance so well<br />

distributed. It means that sometimes one<br />

is caught up in an air traffic control strike<br />

or such but the point is the French<br />

understand that to take away the right to<br />

voice an opinion, takes away the voice of<br />

the individual. Freedom of speech.<br />

Democracy.<br />

Family values matter here. An excellent<br />

education system and almost entirely free<br />

or very affordable.<br />

"Freedom of speech...<br />

balance... democracy...<br />

support of the arts...<br />

excellent education<br />

Along with the United States, but at far less<br />

cost, there is a terrific health care system. If<br />

I am going to get sick – please not – but if<br />

so, I want it to be here where I know I will be<br />

cared for, expertly and swiftly.<br />

Excellent newspapers with intelligent<br />

broadsheet journalism; superb food; a vast<br />

choice of landscapes: skiing, thousands of<br />

kilometres of coastline with the gentle lap<br />

of the Mediterranean or the surfers’<br />

paradise along the Atlantic. Wild coasts,<br />

elegant resorts.<br />

There are always opportunities for children<br />

and for the young if you are travelling as a<br />

family.<br />

A deep and rich history to explore, to plunge<br />

yourself within.

La Place Du Marché de La Grande Epicerie de Paris, copyright DR<br />

Credit Mairie de Biartiz /Laurent Garcia<br />

left Biarritz; above the<br />

market place, Bon Marché,<br />

below Bruno Oger at<br />

Bristot des Anges<br />

What's your favourite restaurant?<br />

We love to cook so we don’t eat out a<br />

great deal except in Paris. And we don’t<br />

do upscale expensive restaurants. We<br />

prefer something a little simpler.<br />

The Bon Marché store in Paris is my<br />

favourite place to shop when I am in the<br />

capital and they have a wonderful food<br />

hall.<br />

Le Gorille Blanc is a traditional bistro<br />

with a lively atmosphere and very good<br />

food (4, impasse Guéménée). Chez René,<br />

14 Boulevard Saint-Germain is an old<br />

favourite of ours. It is lively, very<br />

Parisian, fine food and great<br />

atmosphere.<br />

In the south of France, close to the<br />

village of Le Cannet, the Michelinstarred<br />

chef Bruno Oger has opened an<br />

upmarket gastronomic restaurant and<br />

alongside it the more modest Bistrot des<br />

Anges. We eat there from time to time<br />

and send all our cottage guests there,<br />

and they are always very happy.

Where do you live in France and what do you love most about it?<br />

We are very fortunate. We have two homes. Our Olive Farm, the inspiration for many of<br />

my books, overlooks the Bay of Cannes and the Mediterranean. It is twenty minutes from<br />

Nice airport so terrific for all our travelling yet it is tucked away and we can live a rural<br />

idyll when there. I do most of my writing at the Olive Farm having built myself a big<br />

studio entirely separate from the rest of house. Actually, it is a garage and stables<br />

conversion. The farm has a pool so I can exercise in between daily writing bouts and, of<br />

course, the climate is wonderful. The grounds cover almost four hectares so working the<br />

land is a relaxation and an imperative. We have over 300 olive trees and produce organic<br />

olive oil with an AOC label. We also have a small cottage at the foot of the grounds which<br />

we rent out for holiday lets.<br />

Our other home is outside Paris, on the edge of the Champagne region. I call this place<br />

the Mad Old Chateau. It is a thirteenth-century property with walls as thick as the<br />

average car is long. Here is the real bucolic existence where we keep a couple of sheep<br />

and take long country walks at the weekends when there. We are twenty minutes to the<br />

first of the champagne estates and an hour’s drive to Paris. How bad is that?<br />

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award winning actress who remains best<br />

known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series,<br />

All Creatures Great and Small. She is a best-selling author of 21<br />

books,including her quartet of memoirs set on her Olive Farm.<br />

Twitter: @Carol4OliveFarm; website: www.caroldrinkwater.com;<br />

Win a copy of Carol's latest book The Forgotten Summer - see page 84<br />

Do you dream of living in Provence?<br />

Mediterranean sunshine and rolling<br />

vineyards, lavender fields and sunflowers. A<br />

region where the movie star glamour of the<br />

Riviera meets a landscape unchanged since<br />

the days of Cezanne and Van Gogh. But<br />

there's so much more to this region than just<br />

sunshine and scenery. There are wonderful<br />

street markets in medieval towns, with fruit<br />

so fresh and colours so vibrant that the<br />

produce seems to want to leap straight onto<br />

the plate. There are the sensational wines of<br />

the Côtes du Rhône, the Ventoux, the<br />

Luberon and Bandol. And there are<br />

sophisticated cultural centres such as Aixen-Provence<br />

and Avignon. It's a region that<br />

just keeps on surprising, and it's not as<br />

expensize as you might think. Provence local<br />

property expert Trevor Smith shares three<br />

top picks:<br />

A totally authentic village property in the<br />

heart of the beautiful Luberon Natural<br />

Park. Just a few kilometers from the<br />

spectacular village of Gordes. Think<br />

cobbled streets, lavender fields, olive<br />

groves. Price €210,000<br />

Click here for more details

The picture postcard Provencal mas.<br />

A stunning five-bedroom property<br />

with pool, surrounded by olive<br />

groves and vineyards near the<br />

famous Mont Ventoux and the<br />

delightful villages of Caromb and<br />

Le Barroux. Price €760,000<br />

Click to read more details about this<br />

sensational house<br />

In an unspoiled Provencal Village between the<br />

bustling market town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and<br />

the spectacular Fontaine de Vaucluse lies this<br />

very spacious four-bedroom stone property,<br />

brimming with character and offering huge<br />

terrace with breathtaking views of the Provence<br />

countryside. Price 399,000€<br />

Click here for more details

By France holiday expert Karen Slater of J'Adore La France

Champagne<br />

Bubbles, vineyards,<br />

bubbles, chateaux,<br />

Champagne is a wonderful place to spend a few autumnal days : a visit<br />

to the ever impressive city of Reims with its magnificent Cathedral<br />

followed by some champagne tasting at Maison Mumm or the Grande<br />

Maison de Champagne Taittinger or to Veuve Clicquot. A drive or stroll<br />

along the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, just 15 miles from Reims, is<br />

a must. It is here in Epernay you will find the famous Maison de<br />

Champagne Moët & Chandon. The colours of the rolling hillsides<br />

surrounding the vineyards are breath-taking in the autumn.

Bordeaux<br />

St-Emilion - sun-fired,<br />

medieval, wine-tastic<br />

perfection...<br />

Half the city of Bordeaux is a World Heritage Site. The centre of Bordeaux, flanked by its<br />

three boulevards is a hive of activity with the focal point being Place de la Comedie with<br />

the imposing and architecturally stunning Grand Theatre with its incredible façade. The<br />

huge square, Esplanades Quinconces is host to statues of local Philosophers such as<br />

Montaigne and Montesquieu. Along the riverfront is the bridge of Pont de Pierre from<br />

where the view of the buildings with their arches and thin chimney stacks is very<br />

impressive on an autumnal day. A visit to the famous vineyards of Bordeaux is easy to<br />

do from the city centre; including St Emilion, whose town is built like an amphitheatre. St<br />

Emilion is one vineyard and town not to miss when staying in Bordeaux.

Credit Alain Doire/Bourgogne Tourisme<br />

Burgundy<br />

The most famous wine<br />

auction in the world, the<br />

hospices de Beaune wine<br />

auction takes place during<br />

the weekend 18,19,20<br />

<strong>No</strong>vember<br />

Beaune is in the centre of Burgundy and is known as the capital<br />

of Burgundy wines. The pretty, medieval town is surrounded by<br />

the Cote d’Or vineyards. It is renowned for its annual wine<br />

auction which takes place on the 3rd Sunday in <strong>No</strong>vember at the<br />

15th century Hotel-Dieu museum. The Route des Grands Crus,<br />

known as the ‘Champs-Elysées’ of Burgundy is well worth a visit.<br />

Chateau du Clos de Vougeot is an architectural and cultural<br />

splendour, an absolute must for true wine fans, and a wonderful<br />

place to visit in the autumnal sunshine.

Credit Allanah Hagan<br />

Paris<br />

Clos de Montmartre, the Paris vineyard<br />

The Paris vineyard harvest is<br />

celebrated 5-9 October in<br />

Montmartre - it's huge fun!<br />

In Paris there are so many beautiful parks and gardens in which to take an<br />

autumnal stroll. Take the famous Jardin des Tuilieries located between the<br />

Louvre and Place de la Concorde - the park was opened to the public in the 17th<br />

century; it has terraces and a central vista which runs down the Grand Axe<br />

through circular and hexagonal ponds. The gardens are dotted with beautiful<br />

statues. Jardin du Luxembourg is a true family park with is merry-go-round,<br />

pony rides, ice cream sellers, puppet shows and more. Parc des Buttes-<br />

Chaumont is a hidden gem, located in the 19th arroundissement, it is one of<br />

Paris’ most magical spots. Paris is also home to a vineyard, tucked away in<br />

Montmartre! If you are staying in Paris for a few days it would be worth taking a<br />

mini cruise along the Seine to Giverny to see the wonderful Monet gardens.

Loire Valley<br />

Credit B. Quintard - CRT Centre-Val de Loire<br />

A glass of Loire Valley<br />

red on an autumn night -<br />

irresistible!<br />

The Loire Valley is an exceptional place to visit in the Autumn; chateaux<br />

looming out of the early morning mist surrounded by miles of countryside<br />

and vineyards. And as the Loire is home to some of the best wines in<br />

France such as Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Saumur, a visit to the vineyards<br />

and wine cellars will make your trip extra special. The grapes are normally<br />

picked between September and October and many chateaux including<br />

Chinon, Chombard, Chenonceau and Chateau de Langeais along with the<br />

Gardens of Villandry are all located close to wine domains. Combining a<br />

wine and chateau tour is a great way to give you a real taste of this<br />

beautiful region.

The Secret part of<br />

the Champagne<br />

Region<br />

The Haut-Marne department of<br />

Champagne is not as famous as its sister<br />

department the Marne, home to Reims and<br />

Epernay. It is though, a beautiful part of the<br />

region and there’s lots to discover here and<br />

fall in love with - not least the fact that this<br />

place is like one huge gorgeous garden.<br />

Close to the border with Burgundy it makes<br />

for a great stopping off point but is a<br />

deliciously pretty destination in its own<br />

right.<br />


Take Langres, it’s one of the oldest towns<br />

in France and there are plenty of traces of<br />

its illustrious past and those who lived<br />

here. The ramparts that have encircled this<br />

walled town are the longest in Europe and<br />

a wander round them (just under 3km) will<br />

reveal that there are seven towers with look<br />

out platforms as well as six gates into the<br />

town. One of the entrances dates back to<br />

Roman occupation and the “new gate” was<br />

built in the 16th century and shows the<br />

townsfolk certainly had a sense of humour<br />

since it features a carving of two naked<br />

men with their hands tied behind their<br />

backs... A warning message to unwelcome<br />

visitors 500 years ago!<br />

Take a promenade around these ramparts<br />

and you’ll get fabulous views over the<br />

Marne Valley as you listen to the birds<br />

singing and watch the impressive free<br />

funicular going up and down, carrying<br />

visitors between the top of the town and the<br />

bottom. You can also go into some of the<br />

towers where you’ll find exhibitions and in<br />

one of them, on the way up, a sculpture that<br />

illustrates the sense of humour of the<br />

original builders, a man bending over with<br />

his trousers down, a medieval mooner –<br />

meant to make the soldiers smile.

Langres was the birthplace of Denis Diderot,<br />

a famous French philosopher who is<br />

honoured with plenty of references in his<br />

home town – a statue, plaques, a square,<br />

college and in one of the towers on the<br />

ramparts, an exhibition of his achievements.<br />

This town is comfortable with its ancient<br />

buildings of honey coloured stone mellowed<br />

by centuries of sunlight. Shutters of pale<br />

green and grey compliment the buildings,<br />

colourful bunting in the main street gives a<br />

festive air. What makes this place stand out<br />

for me is the authenticity of its streets and<br />

buildings, there’s even a “brulerie” - an<br />

ancient French word for a café, which came<br />

before the arrival of the brasserie.<br />

Pick up a leaflet from the tourist office for a<br />

self-guided walk or book a walk with a guide.

What to see close to Langres<br />

Chateau de Pailly<br />

Langres today is a sleepy sort of a town<br />

where people are friendly and say hello to<br />

strangers – it wasn’t always so. The original<br />

Chateau de Pailly which was built in the<br />

11th century was destroyed by the people of<br />

Langres in retaliation for the Burgundian<br />

owner’s support of the English in the 100<br />

years war.<br />

English guide Toni who volunteers at the<br />

Chateau is happy to show visitors round<br />

the “new” chateau which was rebuilt in the<br />

1400s by the de Saulx family. It has a<br />

fascinating history though the facts are a<br />

little sketchy on account of the documents<br />

about this lovely stone castle being<br />

destroyed in a fire in Langres in 1892.<br />

Useless fact fans will appreciate knowing<br />

that one time owner Gaspard de Saulx,<br />

known for his excessive persecution of<br />

Protestants in France appeared in British<br />

TV series Doctor Who. Well, not him, actor<br />

André Morell played him in the 1966 serial<br />

“The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve” in<br />

which Gaspard played a role. Sadly, if<br />

you’re keen to watch – no known footage<br />

of the serial featuring William Hartnell as<br />

the Doctor, and Peter Purves as his able<br />

assistant, is available.<br />

It was Gaspard de Saulx who also gave the<br />

castle its Renaissance upgrade making it<br />

one of the finest examples of its kind in<br />


Gaspard de Saulx (1509–<br />

1575) was featured in a<br />

During the French Revolution, the façade of<br />

the castle was defaced, later it was used as<br />

a school for local children and then in the<br />

1950s the family who owned it but didn’t<br />

really rate it that much sold it to an<br />

insurance company who left it to rot as they<br />

just wanted the land that came with it. By<br />

the time the state stepped in, the chateau<br />

was in a terrible state.<br />

ornately painted ceiling and carved fire<br />

places and a life-sized portrait of a rather<br />

stern looking Gaspard staring at you.<br />

The gardens are being restored and are<br />

lovely to wander in and this chateau is<br />

embracing its resurrection with lots of<br />

events in the summer.<br />

It has these days found love from local<br />

volunteers and that’s essential because the<br />

funds are just not there to restore it. One of<br />

them, Georgette, remembers visiting the<br />

chapel there in the 1950s but says that the<br />

key has been lost, the stairs have rotted<br />

and no one has been in there for at least 50<br />

years. I tried to persuade them to fetch me<br />

a ladder but they wouldn’t!<br />

Inside, the castle sometimes resembles a<br />

mysterious medieval building site. Slowly<br />

the volunteers are bringing it back to life<br />

but it's a huge job. One of the rooms is<br />

complete - and completely stunning.<br />

Popping on plastic sliperettes to protect the<br />

ancient wooden floor (and polish it at the<br />

same time) you enter a vast room with<br />

Website: Chateau de Pailly

Gorgeous Gardens of Cohons<br />

Close by is Cohons, the only commune in<br />

France to boast two classified 'Jardins<br />

Remarquables'.<br />

The Jardin de Silière is attached to a<br />

rather lovely 17th century mansion. The<br />

owner will tell you that the people of<br />

Langres used to come to this area to pick<br />

grapes including Denis Diderot’s father!<br />

The garden is of a formal style with<br />

fountains, statues and ponds – it’s very<br />

romantic, beautiful and tranquil.<br />

By contrast the second garden in the<br />

town, the Jardin de Vergentière is rustic,<br />

vibrant and was noisy when I went there,<br />

the sun was shining and a pond full of<br />

frogs were clearly loving it and croaking<br />

for all they were worth.<br />

You’ll also come across the giant snails of<br />

Cohons, where the enormous stone<br />

escargots will keep the whole family<br />

occupied climbing up for the views and<br />

running down again!<br />

Top of the.....<br />

snail ma!

The design of the Jardin de Silière is<br />

attributed to France’s most famous<br />

gardener Le <strong>No</strong>tre (he designed the<br />

gardens of Versailles and Vaux-le-<br />

Vicomte, see page 10).<br />

Above : Jardin de<br />

Silière, classic<br />

design; below left,<br />

a giant "escargot"<br />

you can cilmb,<br />

reminiscent of an<br />

Egyptian pyramid;<br />

below at the Jardin<br />

de Vergentièr

Tufière de Rolampont<br />

For something completely different<br />

and really quite sensational, Tufiere<br />

de Rolampont will fit the bill. The<br />

area is a living, thriving ecosystem<br />

which is thousands of years old, a<br />

series of terraces and pools that<br />

owes its existence to the presence<br />

of bubbling water and limestone<br />

formation. On a hot day it feels a<br />

bit like trekking through a jungle<br />

but the sight of that blue water and<br />

extraordinary rock formation is<br />

unlike anything I’ve ever seen and<br />

really quite other-wordly, ethereally<br />

beautiful.<br />

Chateauvillain - a<br />

historic town with a<br />

sense of humour<br />

History buffs will love the little town<br />

of Chateauvillain with its chateau<br />

ruins, incredibly well-preserved<br />

medieval wash house and beautiful<br />

winding streets of old houses and<br />

buildings. One of the friendliest<br />

towns I’ve ever been to – everyone<br />

says hello here!

Far left: the Villain of Chateauvillain!; right,<br />

above, below: at the extraordinary Tufière de<br />

Rolamport, crazy rock formations and incredible<br />

waterfallswith drafonlies flitting above<br />


Wine and Gastronomy<br />

This is not typical Champagne country as<br />

in bubbles, but the wine here is superb and<br />

you’ll find plenty of places to stop and<br />

taste, like the Domaine des Rubis in<br />

Bugnières run by two brothers who make<br />

fruit based wine. They produce sparkling,<br />

red, white and rosé plus Ratafia, an aperitif<br />

that packs a powerful punch. While you're<br />

there, pop across the road to the lovely<br />

vintage style café Estaminet Maison-<br />

Bertin.<br />

light bun with a delicious aroma.<br />

This area is definitely off the beaten tourist<br />

track, a beautiful, natural part of<br />

Champagne filled with picturesque<br />

villages, old castles and beautiful gardens…<br />

Another great place to taste is Muid<br />

Montsaugeonnais in Vaux Sous Aubginy.<br />

The vines were re-planted here in 1989<br />

after being left to dwindle. 600 local<br />

people bought into the scheme to replant<br />

and raised about 2 million euros. They<br />

bought 13 hectares of land and planted<br />

6000 vines per hectare and the wine they<br />

produce serves the local communes and is<br />

starting to make waves.<br />

Try the "Diderot", "Petit Langres"<br />

"Treasure" and "Rochers Lingons" -<br />

delicious chocolates made in Langres.<br />

Don’t miss the scrummy "Brioche du<br />

Pailly", it’s made with pure butter according<br />

to an age old recipe handed down from<br />

generation to generation, the result is a

How to get there:<br />

One of the easiest ways to get to the<br />

heart of the region is by train: Eurostar to<br />

Paris - Gare du <strong>No</strong>rd, then Gare de l’Est<br />

to Langres ( a little over 2.5 hours) Book<br />

at uk.voyages-sncf.com the UK's leading<br />

rail ticket agency and European rail<br />

expert.<br />

The area is best visited on wheels as<br />

public transport is not available to all<br />

areas.<br />

Where to eat:<br />

Auberge de la Fontaine in Villiers-sur-<br />

Suize – a lovely restaurant and terraced<br />

eating area where the food is authentic<br />

and the service is friendly. They also<br />

have a hotel where they’ll knock 10% off<br />

the bill if you’re on the pilgrim trail.<br />

Where to stay<br />

Push the boat out and spend at least<br />

one night at the stunning Hotel le<br />

Source Bleue. Made famous by French<br />

singer Charles Trenet who used to<br />

holiday here (he also sung “La Mer”).<br />

This hotel has a fabulous restaurant,<br />

beautifully luxurious rooms (or a<br />

gorgeous stone house or luxury gypsy<br />

caravans) and a garden that delivers<br />

absolute wow factor with its blue waters<br />

of the source of a spring - the "source<br />

bleue".<br />

Relax in style at the Clos Eugénie B&B in<br />

Culmont-Chalindrey, 11km from Langres.<br />

This beautiful old manor house has<br />

been exquisitely renovated and has<br />

gorgeous gardens – I’d go back there in<br />

a flash!<br />

See the tourist office website for a great<br />

choice of places to stay and things to do<br />

in the area:<br />


Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Derived from the dried stigmas of the<br />

saffron crocus, it takes anything from 70,000 to 250,000 flowers to make one pound of<br />

saffron. The flowers have to be individually handpicked in the autumn when fully open.<br />

Fortunately, only a little needs to be added to a dish to lend it colour and aroma and it's<br />

the safranal, a volatile oil, which gives saffron much of its distinctive aroma that explodes<br />

when cooked.<br />

Saffron was grown in France for many years but the plants suffered from phylloxera<br />

which also destroyed many vineyards in the 19th century. It is though, making a come<br />

back, and at around £75.00 (US$100) for 1 gram (roughly 150 hand picked flowers), it’s a<br />

lucrative, if manually demanding, plant to cultivate and pick. Which is good news for the<br />

handful of canny entrepreneurs who are taking a leap of faith and investing time and<br />

money into reviving the lost art of saffron production in south west France.<br />

Four years ago, Countess Alexandra Simonoff-Arpels (she prefers just plain old<br />

Alexandra) and her husband Eric started a saffron farm in Verteillac, Dordogne, also<br />

known as the Perigord region.<br />

“We were watching a documentary on saffron growing in Iran, and having thought about<br />

a venture which would give Alexandra a means to fulfil her dream of working with the<br />

land and producing luxury gourmet products, we thought, we can do that , let's take the<br />

chance to invest in saffron, ‘’ explains Eric.<br />

They left behind their lives in Paris though, Parisian by birth, Eric, who says he was<br />

‘adopted’ by the Périgord, still works there part time.

Records detailing the<br />

use of saffron go back to<br />

ancient Egypt and Rome<br />

where it was used as a<br />

dye, in perfumes, and as<br />

a drug, as well as for<br />

culinary purposes. It<br />

reached China in the 7th<br />

century and spread<br />

through Europe in the<br />

Middle Ages. The town<br />

of Saffron Walden,<br />

where it was once<br />

grown commercially,<br />

takes its name from the<br />

plant. <strong>No</strong>w, however,<br />

most saffron is imported<br />

from Iran and Spain<br />

which is recognized as<br />

producing the best<br />

quality.<br />

‘’We came up with the name L’Or des<br />

Anges (angel’s gold) because the Romans<br />

dubbed saffron ‘red gold’ and, with my love<br />

of wine,’’ says Alexandra, ‘’I knew that<br />

vintners have a poetic expression for the<br />

percentage of alcohol that is given off<br />

during the fermentation process. They call<br />

it ‘the angel’s share’ in the belief that the<br />

guardian angels, when a bit squiffy, will<br />

look over them and give a good vintage.<br />

It's quite romantic.''<br />

Jam Packed luxury<br />

Saffron has long been a key ingredient in<br />

Mediterrannean cuisine and in addition to<br />

selling the pure spice, Alex uses it in her<br />

range of homemade jams. These luxury<br />

confitures are created in her state of the<br />

art atelier, based on closely guarded family<br />

recipes from her maternal grandmother.<br />

‘’I have a passion for jam,’’ says Alexandra,<br />

‘’and I always work with 2 kgs of fruit, no<br />

more, as I want to make it à l'ancienne<br />

without pectin, just citron, the traditional<br />

way. Sometimes with a base of pear and<br />

apple, I add a little orange and lemon or<br />

dried sultanas, apricots, dates, plum, pruno,<br />

raisin de currant, walnuts, figs, and of<br />

course, some of our lovely saffron.’’<br />

France is rightly known for its gourmandism,<br />

with each region promoting its unique<br />

specialities. The Périgord Vert is no<br />

exception with a diverse cultural heritage,<br />

fantastic cuisine, lovely rolling countryside<br />

and beautiful scenery.<br />

‘‘We value le terroir and a focus on the<br />

traditional local seasonal produce. I buy all<br />

my ingredients from local markets, I don’t<br />

add pectin, gelling agents or preservatives,<br />

and I cook with copper saucepans, this<br />

gives a unique taste of traditional jam,’’<br />

Alexandra tells me.

There is an ancient Greek<br />

story that goes… Krokos, a<br />

mortal youth and<br />

companion of the<br />

messenger god, Hermes<br />

were practicing their discus<br />

throwing when Hermes<br />

accidentally hit Krokos on<br />

the head, fatally wounding<br />

him. On the very spot where<br />

he was felled, a beautiful<br />

purple flower sprang up, the<br />

Crocus sativus, or saffron<br />

crocus. Three drops of<br />

blood from Krokos’s head<br />

fell on the flower, from<br />

which three vivid crimson<br />

stigmas grew.<br />

As a connoisseur, everything that<br />

Alexandra makes is luxurious and quite<br />

fancy. Her repertoire of jams reflects a love<br />

of French literature as shown in her new<br />

range of haute couture Confiture des<br />

Anges such as the highly decadent<br />

Memoires de Vignes. I can only reveal that<br />

it involves burning off the alcohol from a<br />

bottle of Monbazillac wine, a lot of stirring,<br />

adding sugar, saffron and gold.<br />

The farm with its walls of sandstone and<br />

lauze roofs called Le Repaire near<br />

Verteillac, has been in Alexandra’s family<br />

for three hundred years. Set back off the<br />

beaten track in an ancient Périgordine<br />

hamlet, she watched as her grandparents<br />

grew every vegetable and fruit possible in<br />

their potager and crucially learnt about<br />

respect for the land which left a deep and<br />

lasting impression on Alexandra.<br />

Four years after it was started, L’Or des<br />

Anges is making waves. The safranière is<br />

thriving and this year the couple have<br />

diversified and planted 1,200 truffle oak<br />

saplings and the power and prestige of the<br />

mighty truffle is as much as saffron.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t content with selling just one high end<br />

product, the Simonoff-Arpels are truly<br />

pushing the boat out in terms of producing<br />

authentic quality products from the<br />

produce of the land that they love and<br />

respect.<br />

Find out more at: lordesanges.com<br />

See Alex's delicious saffron rice pudding<br />

and scallop recipes on pages: 114-115

Poverty can be a positive thing for the city explorer. Whilst researching my book “Only in<br />

Paris”, a limited budget forced me to abandon dreams of living in Montmartre in favour of<br />

its Left Bank counterpart, Montparnasse. Any thoughts of having compromised culturally<br />

were quickly dispelled, however, when on my first day I happened upon the Cemetery of<br />

Montparnasse.<br />

Every bit as interesting as Montmartre’s<br />

burial ground, the Cemetery of<br />

Montparnasse contains its own share of<br />

big name burials and uniquely is home to a<br />

17th century windmill from when the area<br />

was arable land. The writers Baudelaire and<br />

Maupassant are here, and the philosophers<br />

Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.<br />

Serge Gainsbourg, the enfant terrible of<br />

French popular music, is a more recent<br />

arrival, with a grave that is usually adorned<br />

with cigarette packets.<br />

Of particular interest is the memorial<br />

marking the grave of French explorer Jules<br />

Dumont d’Urville. In 1820, whilst serving in<br />

the French navy, Dumont joined a survey<br />

ship in the Mediterranean. It was there<br />

during a visit to the Greek island of Milo<br />

that he saw and sketched a newlyexcavated<br />

Classical statue. Realising it was<br />

something very special, Dumont urged his<br />

captain to purchase the statue. When the<br />

idea was rejected, Dumont showed his<br />

sketches to the French ambassador in<br />

Constantinople, from where a vessel was<br />

immediately dispatched and the statue<br />

secured.<br />

For his part in acquiring what became<br />

known as the Venus de Milo, Dumont was<br />

awarded the Légion d’Honneur and<br />

promoted to Lieutenant. The statue is today<br />

one of the most popular exhibits in the<br />

Louvre and its likeness is carved on<br />

Dumont’s grave.

Garden of the Observatory or Garden of Great Explorers<br />

Avenue de l’Observatoire by the Boulevard de<br />

Montparnasse.<br />

So it is elsewhere in Montparnasse. For all<br />

the well-known wonders of Montmartre,<br />

there are equally interesting ones in<br />

Montparnasse – and usually without the<br />

tourist throng.<br />

along the Boulevard du Montparnasse is<br />

Discover Arty<br />

Montparnasse<br />

A walk along the nearby Boulevard du<br />

Montparnasse is a case in point. Many of<br />

the artists attracted by the easy-going<br />

village life of Montmartre in the 1860s<br />

relocated to Montparnasse after the First<br />

World War, drawn by the area’s cafés,<br />

cabarets and art schools.<br />

Modigliani, for example, once hawked his<br />

paintings from table to table at the<br />

venerable café Le Dôme, which overlooks<br />

what is now Place Pablo Picasso. Just<br />

around the corner at 14 Rue de la Grande<br />

Chaumière is a private art school that has<br />

scarcely changed in a century. Further

Most of Montparnasse is in the 14th<br />

Arrondissement (district) of Paris. The<br />

Jardin de Luxembourg lies on the<br />

border in the 6th Arrdondissement<br />

La Coupole, an Art Deco café-cumrestaurant<br />

with it's columns painted by<br />

artists including Chagall. Further still on<br />

Avenue du Maine is the artists’ colony Cité<br />

des Arts in a leafy, cobblestoned cul-de-sac.<br />

Here 30 artists’ studios were constructed<br />

using material salvaged from the Exposition<br />

Universelle de Paris de 1900. One of them<br />

was rented by Russian painter Marie<br />

Vassilieff, who ran a canteen for impoverished<br />

painters there, the studios are still in<br />

use today.

Win a copy of Onl<br />

brilliant book of s<br />

Left and right: streets<br />

in Montparnasse, a<br />

wealth of hidden<br />

beauty; below left the<br />

famous Moulin de la<br />

Vierge; below: the roof<br />

top public garden<br />

Atlantique which<br />

covers the Gare<br />

Montparnasse<br />

Roof top garden<br />

Montparnasse station<br />

A little to the south is the Gare Montparnasse, where the German military command<br />

relinquished Paris in 1944 (celebrated in a superb museum), and which today is home to<br />

the rooftop Jardin Atlantique.<br />

Further less well-known treasures lie beyond, including what is perhaps the city’s most<br />

extraordinary church. The Église <strong>No</strong>tre-Dame-du-Travail at 59 Rue Vercingétorix appears<br />

unexceptional until one enters it. Built in 1901 and clearly influenced by the work of<br />

Gustave Eiffel, its nave is supported on a visible iron framework, installed it is said to<br />

make factory workers in the congregation feel at home! More likely the success of the<br />

Eiffel Tower had set a constructional trend.<br />

This tour of Montparnasse finishes farther along the street with the Moulin de la Vierge<br />

at number 105. Surprisingly for such a regular-looking street, this tiny bakery is an<br />

astonishing Belle Époque jewel, with mirrored walls and a glorious painted ceiling. The<br />

Pain au Raisins are excellent and if you ask nicely the baker might let you peek at the<br />

century-old cast iron oven in the cellar.<br />

My time in Montparnasse reiterated a valuable lesson in city travelling. By getting off the<br />

beaten track a more intimate experience can often be had – and in so doing a more<br />

indelible memory taken away.

y in Paris, Duncan Smith's<br />

ecret Paris page 84<br />

Living in Paris<br />

Montparnasse is on the edge of 6th, 7th, 14th<br />

and 15th arrondissements. The area is wellknown<br />

for its cinemas and theatres on the<br />

Boulevard du Montparnasse and La Gaité. There<br />

are great shops in Boulevard Raspail and Rue de<br />

Rennes with Beau Marché just 10 minutes away.<br />

There are three regular street markets in the<br />

area: Marché Raspail, the most glamorous and<br />

expensive on the Left Bank, where celebrities<br />

shop. Marché Edgar Quinet across the street<br />

from the Cementery of Montparnasse, an<br />

excellent market. Marché Port Royal/Val de<br />

Grace - said to be the friendliest market in the<br />

city! Paris property expert Dominique Petit<br />

picks three stunning properties for sale:<br />

€364,000<br />

click here for more info<br />

In the centre of<br />

lovely Montmartre<br />

over-looking a<br />

famous square with a<br />

village vibe. Close to<br />

all the shops, cafes<br />

and restaurants -<br />

welcome to Paris!<br />

In the Latin Quarter:<br />

At the heart of the<br />

lively Mouffetard<br />

neighbourhood (5th),<br />

famous for its market.<br />

Recently renovated<br />

with great rooftop<br />

views.<br />

€468,000<br />

click here for more info<br />

€848,000<br />

click here for more info<br />

Paris 4th - Ile de la Cite<br />

island: Superbly<br />

located on the Quai aux<br />

Fleurs, overlooking the<br />

Seine and just behind<br />

<strong>No</strong>tre-Dame Cathedral.<br />

It doesn't get much<br />

better than this!

Auvergne is a region of natural beauty and dramatic landscapes, located midway<br />

between Paris and the Mediterranean, anchored in the centre of France by the<br />

Massif Central and almost 100 volcanoes.<br />

From the stark Monts du Cantal in Salers and the Puy Mary area, to the lush green<br />

fields and gardens of Vichy, Auvergne is a very diverse region.<br />

The Hills Are Alive<br />

Clermont Ferrand is a great city to base<br />

yourself as from here you can explore the<br />

region or just relax and unwind.<br />

The famous and thankfully dormant<br />

Volcano Puy–de-Dome is just 6 miles<br />

away; at 1,465m high it is the largest<br />

though not the tallest in this chain of<br />

volcanoes. Within half an hour of arriving in<br />

the Auvergne, I was at the top of it. While<br />

some brave souls grabbed pitons, those<br />

metal poles that help to anchor climbers,<br />

and tied ropes round their waists, ready to<br />

shimmy up the side, I went up on the train.<br />

The views from the top are sensational.<br />

You overlook many of the extinct volcano<br />

craters that the area is famous for, the<br />

summit dominated by a massive<br />

telecommunications antennae that sits<br />

alongside a Roman Temple.<br />

City Life<br />

Back down in the city I based myself in the<br />

Hotel Mecure in the corner of the Place de<br />

Jaude, Clermont’s largest square. It’s a<br />

pleasant place to sit in the evening with a<br />

glass or two of wine and watch the world<br />

go by. From here everything is within<br />

walking distance, though there is a fairly<br />

new and exciting Translohr tram system<br />

which is great fun.<br />

Clermont is a dark city architecturally and<br />

has many stunning buildings which are<br />

nearly all built out of black Volvic rock,<br />

giving it a very distinctive look.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w whilst I would have been happy to<br />

stay and explore the lanes and shops, and<br />

the many wine cellars that run under the<br />

city there was a lot more to see. So next<br />

morning my hire car and me headed a short<br />

distance north to the town of Riom.

Mountain Towns<br />

Riom is an historic town with 16 listed<br />

monuments and a further 57 registered<br />

monuments. There are many beautiful old<br />

houses with internal courtyards and a<br />

famous clock tower with <strong>12</strong>8 steps to the<br />

top from where the views are fabulous and<br />

worth the effort of climbing and having<br />

your chest thump like a drum. The Saturday<br />

morning market is very pretty and watching<br />

everyone go about their business is a great<br />

way to get a feel for this pretty town.<br />

The local wine is Saint-Pourcain, made<br />

from grapes grown in one of the oldest<br />

vineyards in France. And, it would have<br />

been plain wrong not to have visited a<br />

vineyard whilst there. A wine tasting is a<br />

must and I visited Domaine Grosbot-<br />

Barbara where the guide gave a long and<br />

passionate explanation of his craft, though<br />

eventually he did open several bottles. -<br />

delicious!<br />

Credit: Callips, Wikipedia<br />

Moulins and the Museum of Ballet<br />

If someone had told me before I went to<br />

the Auvergne that one of my favourite<br />

moments would be a visit to a museum of<br />

ballet costumes I would have laughed. But<br />

the next morning I visited the National<br />

Centre for Stage Costumes which is based<br />

in a former Cavalry barracks in the town of<br />

Moulins. It is the home of over 10,000 set<br />

costumes from the Opera National de<br />

Paris and the Comedie Francais and<br />

features many outfits created by France’s<br />

top designers and the way in which they<br />

are displayed is truly stunning.<br />

Fans of Rudolf Nuryev the great dancer<br />

(who died in France) will love the exhibition<br />

of the costumes he danced in as well as<br />

many of his personal effects.

Crédit: Comité Régional de Développement Touristique d'Auvergne BEROUJON-Pascale<br />

Vichy<br />

<strong>No</strong> visit to this area is complete without<br />

taking in the lovely spa town of Vichy. The<br />

spa tradition was introduced by the<br />

Romans as well as at nearby Bourbon<br />

l’Archambault and Mont-Dore, a tradition<br />

that continues to delight 2000 years later.<br />

Next morning I was in the nearby town of<br />

Thiers. More than 60% of all the kitchen<br />

knives used in France are made here and I<br />

was not only able to visit a factory to watch<br />

them being made but was able to make my<br />

own.<br />

Gastronomy for gourmets<br />

Auvergne has many delights to please<br />

foodies. Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d’Ambert,<br />

Cantal, Salers and Auvergne Blue Cheese<br />

are some of the famous cheeses sold in all<br />

the markets or you can buy direct from a<br />

cave. On top of these specialities, you<br />

have the top quality ‘charcuterie’, cured<br />

meats, sausages, and a local andouillette<br />

(though you need to be a fan of tripe to<br />

enjoy that one). Don’t leave without trying<br />

the traditional petit salé made with green<br />

lentils from Le Puy or stuffed cabbages, or<br />

truffade potato cakes. In autumn wild<br />

mushrooms are used in many dishes –<br />

guaranteed to titillate your taste buds.<br />

The Auvergne is a real treat, a trip here<br />

leaves you revitalised and re-energised<br />

and there’s nowhere else quite like it.<br />

Auvergne Tourist office website<br />

Read more about Auvergne<br />

Expat in Auvergne story Page 106

How to get to Clermont<br />

Ferrand<br />

By Air: The airport at Clermont Ferrand<br />

is served well by Paris airports.<br />

By Train: 3 hours 15 minutes from Paris<br />

Bercy station. Details: UKVoyagesSNCF<br />

Where to stay<br />

Mecure Clermont Ferrand. This brand<br />

new hotel is excellent and in a really<br />

great location in the town centre.<br />

Le Clos de Bourgogn, Moulins. 4 Star old<br />

world excellence with Michelin starred<br />

restaurant, sensational.<br />

Hotel Les Nations. Vichy. Central<br />

location. classic functional French Hotel<br />

Where to eat<br />

Les Kancres, Clermont Ferrand: a proper<br />

little bistro<br />

La Gourmandine, Clermont Ferrand:<br />

sensational classic French food in super<br />

modern city centre setting.<br />

Brasserie Le Lutucre, Vichy: a proper<br />

French brasserie, great meat dishes. (3<br />

Rue de Paris)<br />

Chez La Mere Depalle, Thiers: great<br />

lunch - one of the best meals I have had<br />

in France.<br />

Home Buyers Auvergne<br />

Auvergne is a region where authenticity is<br />

truly preserved. Here is where you will<br />

discover old houses and traditional farm<br />

cottages in stunning scenery.<br />

There's easy access to major towns and lots<br />

of social activities. At the same time you will<br />

live your life at a relaxed pace, with greater<br />

time for well-being.<br />

Auvergne is a remote region of natural<br />

wonders with a strong cultural legacy that<br />

can be found in the architecture, cuisine, and<br />

dialect. It is home to beautiful medieval<br />

villages, magnificent frescoed Romanesque<br />

churches and castles of the Bourbon Lords.<br />

Auvergne local property expert Alison<br />

Brettell's top picks:<br />

€66,000<br />

Three bedroomed stone built detached<br />

house in need of renovation, with separate<br />

appartment and outbuildings located on the<br />

edge of a lovely village.<br />

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€198,000<br />

€450,000<br />

Elegant mansion and an<br />

independent house,<br />

surrounded by 4.5 hectares of<br />

park. Currently run as a<br />

successful B&B and gîte<br />

business. Quiet and peaceful.<br />

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Beautifully renovated three bedroomed stone<br />

house and mini-camping with swimming pool<br />

is situated on the edge of a small village in a<br />

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Click here for more details

Terry Marsh takes a short break to<br />

discover the delights of Angers in the<br />

Loire valley...<br />

I never feel as if I've arrived in France until<br />

my first lunch, usually outdoors, in some<br />

unpretentious but highly popular eatery<br />

where the plat du jour or a simple galette is<br />

just what you need. It’s a moment of<br />

pleasure, when I realise that I’ve stopped<br />

travelling, and have arrived and start to<br />

tune my ears from English to French.<br />

It's symbolic and I almost don’t care what<br />

the plat du jour might be; it’s the transition<br />

from home life to the French way of doing<br />

things. For me, lunch in France is a<br />

benchmark, the starting line; and so it was<br />

at the Restaurant du Mail in the glorious<br />

Jardin du Mail in Angers.<br />

A Vibrant City<br />

This buzzing city of more than 150,000<br />

souls is highly regarded as urban friendly,<br />

full of fun, lively with festivals and street<br />

theatre, and worthy of its accolade as one<br />

of the greenest cities in France. It also has a<br />

multi-era legacy of stunning architecture; a<br />

history that saw it as the pre-Revolution<br />

capital of Anjou province, and a modernday<br />

trade in Anjou wines and liqueurs,<br />

notably Cointreau and Menthe Pastille.<br />

Easily accessible from the UK, the city<br />

evolved at the confluence of three rivers,<br />

the Mayenne, the Sarthe, and the Loir (Le<br />

Loir), all coming from the north and flowing<br />

south to the Loire (La Loire). The short<br />

distance (just 7 miles) between the Loire<br />

and the confluence of Le Loir, the Mayenne<br />

and the Sarthe, make the Maine river one of<br />

the shortest in France.<br />

The heart of Angers lies on the south side<br />

of the Maine, and here you will find many of<br />

the city’s finest monuments and treasures.<br />

Angers is remarkably compact, and two<br />

pedestrian days will give you a fascinating<br />

taste of everything that Angers has to

offer. But three or more days would<br />

allow a relaxed and in-depth<br />

approach...languid lunches and lazy<br />

evenings.<br />

It's also an excellent base for touring<br />

the area around, close to Blois and<br />

the Chateaux of the Loire.<br />

Located in the Val de Loire (a World<br />

Heritage Site), and the Loire-Anjou-<br />

Touraine regional natural park,<br />

Angers enjoys a vibrant cultural life,<br />

bolstered by its universities and<br />

museums.<br />

The Old Town<br />

The old centre, dating from medieval<br />

times, is still dominated by the<br />

massive chateau of the<br />

Plantagenets, and home of the<br />

astounding Apocalypse Tapestry.<br />

It is the largest medieval tapestry<br />

ensemble in the world.

Above: Hopital St Jean exhibition room; right:<br />

above and below views of Le Chant du Monde<br />

The Famous Tapestries of Angers<br />

The chateau, with its 17 duo-tone towers, is<br />

a great place to start, one of the best<br />

preserved fortresses of its era in France.<br />

Housed in a purpose-built gallery, the<br />

tapestry is one of the oldest in France, it<br />

has survived from the 14th century, second<br />

only to the Bayeux Tapestry. It was<br />

commissioned for Duke Louis I of Anjou,<br />

and probably made in Paris over a period<br />

of ten years.<br />

It is, without doubt, a splendid example of<br />

tapestry work, but, if I’m being honest, I<br />

believe it is outdone in terms of splendour<br />

by the modern version, Le Chant du Monde,<br />

a series of ten tapestries that represent the<br />

crowning achievement of artist Jean Lurçat<br />

(1892-1966) housed on the north side of the<br />

river, in the Hopital Saint-Jean, itself a<br />

masterpiece of Plantagenet Gothic<br />

architecture.<br />

Le Chant du Monde is both a poetic and<br />

symbolic vision of the world in which the<br />

artists defines Man’s place within the<br />

universe.<br />

City Life<br />

The centre of mainstream action focuses<br />

on place du Ralliement, dominatedby the<br />

splendid façade of its Grand Theatre, and<br />

flanked by shops and restaurants. Nearby<br />

the cathedral, dedicated to St-Maurice,<br />

contains superb stained glass windows<br />

reminiscent of those at Chartres, and is<br />

another example of Gothic architecture<br />

bestowed by the Plantagenet dynasty.

Well worth seeking out, for their novelty<br />

value if nothing else are the splendid wood<br />

carvings on the timber-framed Maison<br />

d’Adam at place Saint-Croix, a listed<br />

building that dates from the 16th century.<br />

Nearby, at 38 rue St-Laud, the frontage of<br />

Le Boléro, formerly a café and concert hall<br />

known as ‘Alcazar’ and dating from 1892,<br />

displays the effigies of two young ladies,<br />

the oldest examples of art nouveau in<br />

Angers.<br />

You can get a map from the tourist office<br />

that will suggest an historic route around<br />

the city centre, which extends on both<br />

sides of the river, and this is ideally to be<br />

planned over two or more days rather than<br />

in haste.<br />

But there is merit, too, in allowing<br />

serendipity and curiosity to be your guide.<br />

Above: street views of<br />

Angers old town; Right<br />

below, the oh so cool bar at<br />

Cointreau.<br />

There is also a fairly easy circuit, suited to<br />

visitors with children or less-abled people,<br />

and marked by bronze plaques inserted<br />

into the pavement.<br />

Slightly out on a limb, the Jardin du Mail<br />

was originally created in the 17th century,<br />

but later redesigned, in 1859, to be more<br />

typically a French garden. The Jardin des<br />

Plantes, however, still has the atmosphere<br />

of a small British park, with ponds and a<br />

little animal park as well as a children’s play<br />

area...a great place to have a family picnic in<br />

delightful surroundings.<br />

Angers has culture, heritage and<br />

architecture in considerable abundance,<br />

and is well worth making the journey to<br />


Further information<br />

Tourist information office, 7 place<br />

Kennedy, (near the chateau).<br />

angersloiretourisme<br />

CITY PASS: If you are planning on a<br />

few days, then consider buying a City<br />

Pass (€14 for 24 hours, up to €29 for 72<br />

hours, available from the tourist office).<br />

Getting to Angers<br />

Car: Angers is accessible by car from<br />

the Caen ferry port at Ouistreham in<br />

around 3 hours of driving.<br />

Rail: Voyages-SNCF operate a rail<br />

service from Paris (Gare Montparnasse)<br />

to Angers in around 1hour 40 minutes<br />

uk.voyagessncf<br />

Air: British Airways fly direct to Angers<br />

from London City (www.ba.com) in little<br />

over 1 hour for less than £100 return<br />

fare.<br />

BritishAirways/Angers<br />

Somewhere to stay<br />

There are a number of excellent hotels<br />

in Angers, but the Best Western Hotel<br />

Anjou is ideally placed from which to<br />

explore the city as is the Mercure Foch<br />

Hotel.<br />

Somewhere to eat<br />

There's no lack of choice here but the<br />

restaurant Chez Remi is fabulous.<br />

Friendly, loved by the local and<br />

amazing desserts!<br />

5 rue des 2 Haies<br />

Somewhere to drink<br />

There are plenty of bars but for<br />

something a little different, take a tour<br />

at thee Cointreau factory where they<br />

have a cool tasting bar (Carrefour<br />

Moliere, Bd des Bretonnieres.)

Credit: Ann Schmidt<br />

Flavours of<br />

Provence Expert Emily Durand says feast your eyes and your taste buds...<br />

The cuisine of France is rightly famous, in<br />

fact the “gastronomic meal of the French”<br />

is UNESCO listed as part of the “intangible<br />

cultural heritage of humanity.”<br />

In France there is a way to savour, to mix<br />

and match, there is an art to eating and<br />

drinking, everything flows together making<br />

food much more than just a time to eat. It is<br />

a cultural event, artistic, pleasurable and<br />

indulgent, inspiring you to partake in a<br />

harmony of senses that please more than<br />

just your palate.<br />

To fully grasp all that Provence can offer,<br />

ideally you should spend a week to nine<br />

days here to enjoy a true taste of sunny<br />

southern France. You will have time to go<br />

as far south as the Mediterranean, as far<br />

west as the Camargue, as far east as the<br />

Luberon and as far north as the Ventoux/<br />

Cotes-du-Rhone region. These four areas of<br />

Provence not only complete the true<br />

gourmet Provence experience but also<br />

allow travellers to immerse themselves into<br />

the different cultural and historical<br />

elements of this sunny southern region.<br />

For foodies, or even just the curious at<br />

heart, Provence is the ideal location for<br />

exploring flavours and culinary delights. It<br />

is the Garden of Eden which has supplied<br />

the locals for centuries. Treasures such as<br />

mushrooms, truffles, thyme, rosemary and<br />

wild fennel, asparagus and lavender<br />

abound here.

In Paris, during the<br />

50’s, sophisticated<br />

dinner parties<br />

always had<br />

something “truffle”.<br />

If what you served<br />

lacked truffle, you<br />

sure wouldn’t tell<br />

your friends the<br />

truth for fear of<br />

being “out” of the<br />

“in” crowd.<br />

Left: Aigues-Mortes, Camargue;<br />

below left: hrbes de Provence;<br />

above: melons from Cavaillon<br />

Region – Camargue<br />

Start with what is known as the “cowboy<br />

culture” in Provence. White Camargue<br />

horses, bulls, flamingoes, rice fields and<br />

salt marshes are all situated where the<br />

Rhone River splits before flowing into the<br />

Mediterranean, this is the fascinating<br />

region known as Camargue.<br />

Getting up close with producers and locals<br />

to discover more about the land and<br />

agricultural practices which are unique in<br />

the world is important in a foodie tour and<br />

brings connection to the product itself.<br />

From a sea shell found only in the marshes<br />

(la telline) to the raising of bull and the salt<br />

marshes lining the Mediterranean,<br />

Camargue is one of the world’s most<br />

intriguing agricultural centers.<br />

Region – Mediterranean<br />

The “real” Provence region does not extend<br />

all the way to the French Rivera (Cannes/<br />

Nice area) but it does include Marseille and<br />

Cassis. A foodie trip to Provence would<br />

never be complete without Bouillabaisse - a<br />

fish stew with a unique broth flavored with<br />

saffron. Many chefs and restaurants have<br />

the authentic recipe (“authentic” being<br />

sometimes unique to the chef cooking). I<br />

enjoy taking my guests to a small family<br />

run restaurant in in Cassis for this<br />

experience.<br />

Region – The Luberon<br />

Welcome to my hometown, Cavaillon, the<br />

melon capital of Provence. Melons were<br />

introduced from Italy and to give you an<br />

idea of just how luxurious this fruit was<br />

considered to be, Alexandre Dumas<br />

donated 300 of his published works to<br />

Cavaillon public library in exchange for <strong>12</strong><br />

melons a year!<br />

The Luberon is also a prime area for truffle<br />

growing. <strong>No</strong> culinary trip to Provence would<br />

be complete without an educational and<br />

mouth-watering truffle hunting and tasting<br />


Region – The Ventoux<br />

If you follow the Tour de France you'll have<br />

heard of Ventoux. The cyclists have<br />

wonderful views of orchards full of cherry,<br />

apricot and olive trees and lovely vineyards<br />

along this picturesque route.<br />

Exploring olive oil mills is a delicious<br />

education for your taste buds. Wine too<br />

should be explored in depth in this region -<br />

home of renowned names such as Cotes<br />

du Ventoux, Cotes du Rhone, Seguret and<br />

Vacqueras. The best way to explore the<br />

wines from Provence is by connecting with<br />

the growers and embracing their love story<br />

with the land - the flavours are enhanced<br />

and wine tasting takes on a new<br />

dimension. You don’t have to be a “wine<br />

drinker” to appreciate wine tasting. It’s an<br />

exploratory experience with your senses.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t a region but a culinary<br />

delight on its own – Avignon<br />

The gourmet, high-end produce, indoor<br />

market Les Halles in Avignon is the cherry<br />

on the cake. At the end of a foodie tour in<br />

Provence you will be able to synthesize all<br />

your culinary adventures at this market.

Just some of the culinary adventures that can be experienced in Provence:<br />

When to do a gourmet tour in Provence?<br />

June for the still lush countryside and cherries, peaches, apricots, strawberries and<br />

melons at the markets (also fewer tourists and less hot than July/August)<br />

September for all you have in June but add a grape stomp and grape harvest adventure<br />

Summer truffles from May until September<br />

Winter truffles from <strong>No</strong>vember to March<br />

Mushroom hunting in October and <strong>No</strong>vember

The Causse de Gramat is the northernmost<br />

of the Causses of Quercy, the vibrant,<br />

shimmering limestone country between<br />

the Lot and the Dordogne.<br />

Quercy was a province of pre-Napoleonic<br />

France and has a history of repeated<br />

invasion from Roman times. During the<br />

Hundred Years’ War the region was<br />

claimed both by France and England,<br />

eventually being ceded to England, an<br />

insecure arrangement that lasted only a<br />

short time.<br />

For many today, however, the great delight<br />

of the Gramat Causse is Rocamadour itself,<br />

but surrounding this multi-tiered, cliffhanging<br />

pilgrimage site is a vast expanse<br />

of undulating countryside populated by<br />

black-eyed sheep and rusty coloured<br />

cattle, and patrolled by black kites,<br />

buzzards and green woodpeckers.<br />

There are three villages regarded among<br />

the most beautiful in France: Carennac,<br />

Loubressac and Autoire. Together they<br />

make a lovely tour from Rocamadour,<br />

based around lunch in Loubressac. <strong>No</strong>ne<br />

of the villages need consume more than an<br />

hour or so, but the relaxed pace of life,<br />

warm colours, the heady scent of thyme<br />

drifting in from the Causse, and general<br />

ambience have a captivating charm that<br />

can persuade you to linger.<br />


Carennac, a short drive from Rocamadour,<br />

sits on a rocky terrace overlooking the left<br />

bank of the Dordogne.There is a pleasing<br />

ensemble of tiled houses and turreted<br />

mansions focused on its old priory, once the<br />

home base of the writer François de<br />

Salignac de la Mothe-Fénélon, a French<br />

Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian,<br />

poet and writer, better known simply as<br />

François Fénélon. The site was occupied in<br />

the Gallo-Roman period and throughout the<br />

early Middle Ages, but it was the abbey of<br />

Cluny, which founded a priory here in 1047,<br />

that sealed the destiny of the place.<br />

Many of the stone-built houses boast<br />

mullioned windows and date from the 16th<br />

century, imbuing the village with<br />

Renaissance elegance and Quercy charm.<br />

A number of the houses have watch towers<br />

or exterior staircases, and collectively<br />

display a patchwork of steeply sloping<br />

brown-tiled roofs. Much older than these, is<br />

the church of St-Pierre, a Romanesque<br />

structure with a fine tympanum that dates<br />

from the <strong>12</strong>th century. This is a very pleasing<br />

place to explore, and a leaflet (€0.50)<br />

available from the tourist office located in<br />

the former apartments of the Deans gives a<br />

detailed survey of the village and its<br />

buildings of note.


Feel free to challenge me, but there is no<br />

more delicious goat’s cheese than<br />

Rocamadour Fermier, made at the Ferme<br />

Cazal in Loubressac, and served with warm<br />

honey. Have lunch in the Restaurant Lou<br />

Cantou in Loubressac, with a view reaching<br />

out across the stunning Causse de Gramat,<br />

and finish your meal with the cheese; you’ll<br />

see what I mean.<br />

To be fair, there are a number of farms<br />

producing Rocamadour goat’s cheese, and<br />

they are all delicious.<br />

The charming village of Loubressac<br />

commands a heart-warming view of the<br />

lush Dordogne and Bave valleys, its narrow<br />

and sinuous village lanes converging on a<br />

shady square that the Romanesque church<br />

of St-Jean-Baptiste dominates. The<br />

medieval houses, topped with antique tiles,<br />

turn golden coloured in the evening sun<br />

and encourage you to linger and explore;<br />

many have decorative balconies and<br />

painted shutters. And yet, compact as it is,<br />

the village has a surpriisng number of<br />

delightful twists and turns.<br />

To add to its charm, Loubressac has twice<br />

been awarded the accolade of the finest<br />

‘village fleuri’ in the Midi-Pyrenees. It is the<br />

sort of village that evokes another time,<br />

another place, and a bygone era where<br />

everything seems to be at peace – even<br />

though it wasn’t always. Visiting walkers<br />

will find that a number of trails radiate from<br />

the village centre into verdant countryside.<br />

Anyone seeking away-from-it-all-ness will<br />

find it here.


I had something of a duel with the wine<br />

merchant in Autoire, and lost, to the tune of<br />

six bottles of Marcillac, six rosé, and three<br />

bottles of Gaillac bubbly – we can’t call it<br />

champagne! To be honest, I was all T-eed<br />

up earlier for a similar dual in Loubressac,<br />

but it was lunchtime, and even wine sellers<br />

have to eat...for three hours apparently!<br />

Autoire has gathered its heritage of pigeon<br />

lofts, brown tiled roofs and country manor<br />

houses in the hollow of a cirque on the<br />

limestone plateau between Figeac and<br />

Gramat over centuries; yet it remains small<br />

enough not even to register on some<br />

tourist maps. The village takes its name<br />

from the mountain stream that gushes<br />

down from the Causse de Gramat plateau<br />

in a series of waterfalls that are a delight to<br />

visit, just outside the village.<br />

Under several baronages, in the 14th<br />

century Autoire became one of the vassal<br />

dependencies of the viscountcy of<br />

Turenne.<br />

Even so, the protection the village needed<br />

when the English arrived, confident and alldefeating<br />

from their conquest of Haut<br />

Quercy, was not forthcoming, and Autoire<br />

saw more than its fair share of destruction<br />

during the Hundred Years War. In the 16th<br />

century, the Calvinists laid waste to the<br />

village, and peace did not return until 1588.<br />

Today, the village is serene and peaceful, a<br />

perfect walking base for the GR480 and<br />

eight other walking trails, with plenty of<br />

scope for mountain biking and fishing.<br />


Tourist information: Vallée de la<br />

Dordogne, www.vallee-dordogne.com<br />

If planning on having lunch in<br />

Loubressac, it might be wise to make a<br />

reservation: www.loucantou.com

Interview with a Francophile<br />

Travel writer and author Antony<br />

Mason reveals his favourite French<br />

towns and places to visit...<br />

Where was your first visit to France?<br />

Paris, or Maisons-Lafitte to be more<br />

precise. I was born in the UK but christened<br />

in the Anglican Church of Maisons-Lafitte,<br />

because my father was in the navy and<br />

was stationed at NATO, when its<br />

headquarters were just outside Paris. OK,<br />

so I don’t remember anything about it, but<br />

my parents retained a special admiration<br />

for France from that time, I think, and<br />

passed it on to me. When I was aged about<br />

10 (i.e. in about 1964), we went caravanning<br />

in Brittany. Baguettes seemed fabulously<br />

exotic back then – and I am convinced they<br />

really were much better than they are<br />

today: fatter, more crusty, more oily and<br />

luscious. To walk into a boulangerie before<br />

breakfast was to enter a different world of<br />

smells and skills and quality. We went to<br />

the Fête des Filets Bleus at Concarneau<br />

where I was enchanted by the Breton hats<br />

and sensed the sustaining power of living<br />

folklore tradition. I still treasure the pottery<br />

that we bought at Quimper.<br />

What are your two favourite places in<br />

France and why?<br />

Paris. What it is about Paris?<br />

I immediately feel more alive there. Maybe<br />

it’s because Parisians live life on the<br />

streets – they have to because their<br />

apartments are all so tiny. My Parisian<br />

friends are endlessly challenging: art,<br />

music, food, literature. They like to take me<br />

to out-of-the-way places – such the Maison<br />

de Balzac, or the room where Van Gogh<br />

died in Auvers-sur-Oise.<br />

Ile de Ré. My family have had a holiday<br />

house there since 1998. It is of course,<br />

famously beautiful, with its little white<br />

villages garlanded with hollyhocks and<br />

their wonderful markets, the cycle paths,<br />

the salt marshes and the oyster farms, and<br />

the silvery Atlantic light and the beaches.<br />

Simple timeless pleasures – almost the<br />

France of my childhood memories…

Above left: Quimper, Brittany;<br />

above Paris; above right: Ile de<br />

Re; below: wine from St Emilion<br />

What do you think makes France a great<br />

place to visit?<br />

Since my childhood, the whole world has<br />

become rather more homogenised – but<br />

France still does enough that is different to<br />

bring back that old excitement of being<br />

abroad. The food is excellent: the quality of<br />

produce in the supermarkets alone is<br />

astonishing, but the best fun is to be had in<br />

seeking out the little, artisan producers and<br />

the restaurants where the great traditions<br />

of la cuisine française still hold firm. In<br />

wine, they have clung on to the concept of<br />

terroir, so every region has is own, unique<br />

expression, usually at little cost. There is<br />

such variety in France, and just about every<br />

place has historic, cultural depth waiting to<br />

be unearthed.

The <strong>12</strong>th century cathedral in the centre of the<br />

old city was the model for later versions notably<br />

Chartres and <strong>No</strong>tre Dame in Paris.<br />

Do you have a secret place to share?<br />

On the cycle route coming into St-Martinde-Ré<br />

from the west, along the coast (from<br />

the direction of La Couarde, Loix, and Arsen-Ré)<br />

a series of enterprising oyster farms<br />

have set up open-air pop-up restaurants<br />

where you can eat fresh seafood with a<br />

glass or two of Ile de Ré wine overlooking<br />

the sea – perfect for a long and lazy and<br />

very informal lunch.<br />

Where would you live in France if it could be<br />

anywhere and what sort of house would you<br />

choose?<br />

Laon, in the department of Aisne,<br />

fascinates me, and recently, as I wandered<br />

the streets filled with grand and beautiful<br />

18th and 19th-century townhouse mansions,<br />

I fantasized that this is the sort of spot I’d<br />

like to hole up in for a few years, absorbing<br />

its history as a former bishop’s seat and a<br />

military town, and its views out over the<br />

landscape of Picardy from its high ramparts,<br />

and contemplating what role this kind of<br />

proud historic place can play in modern<br />

France.<br />

Antony Mason is the author of some 80<br />

books on travel, history, art and… well,<br />

basically whatever people ask him to do.<br />


LAON – A Great Place to Live<br />

Laon, known as "La Montagne Couronnée"<br />

with it's old, medieval city high on a rock<br />

crowned by a cathedral and over-looking<br />

the newer low town. Located in the Aisne<br />

department in Picardie it is close to the<br />

border of Champagne (Reims is less than<br />

an hour away). Almost unknown outside of<br />

France, this beautiful town has a<br />

population of circa 30,000.<br />

The lower town is a mix of residential and<br />

commercial property and has a thriving city<br />

centre with wide boulevards of shops, bars,<br />

restaurants and hotels. The fortified city<br />

retains small streets of private housing.<br />

This is one of the wealthier parts of France<br />

but house prices are comparatively low<br />

even in a small market. A 6 bedroom<br />

house to modernise in the old city can be<br />

bought for less than €90,000 and a 3<br />

bedroom house for around €<strong>12</strong>0,000,<br />

while a 1 bedroom apartment in the lower<br />

town is less than €40,000.<br />

With a history going back over 3000 years,<br />

its location between the great wine areas<br />

(Champagne & Burgundy) and the beaches<br />

of the Opal Coast in the north, plus a good<br />

climate combined with being a beautiful<br />

city, Laon is a great place to live!<br />

Local property expert Tim Sage shares 3<br />

top picks in the area:<br />

Price €529,000<br />

Beautiful, fully restored 19th century<br />

manoir located in the village of Marle,<br />

in the Aisne.<br />

Click here for more details<br />

Price €392,200<br />

Price €414,000<br />

Exquisite 18th century Maison de Maître,<br />

fully restored and tastefully decorated<br />

Click here for more details<br />

Marne - Must be seen! Beautifully renovated<br />

stone house giving a 2/3 bedroom family<br />

home lying between Reims and Epernay.<br />

Click here for more details

Photo: Morzine Tourist Office/Giles Lansard<br />

it's not all about th<br />

A week in Morzine...<br />

There's a whole lot of fresh air and fun in<br />

the mountains says Lucy Pitts

e snow

Photo: Morzine Tourist Office/Jarry Tripelon<br />

The Portes du Soleil area is one of the<br />

largest ski areas in the world. It includes<br />

thirteen resorts (both Swiss and French)<br />

and roughly 650 km of marked ski and<br />

snowboard runs. There are fourteen valleys<br />

and nearly all of the runs are connected.<br />

With a back drop of Mont Blanc and not far<br />

from Lake Geneva, it’s not hard to believe<br />

there is skiing, snowboarding and other<br />

winter sports here for every possible level<br />

and ability, from the black run “The Wall” to<br />

the nursery.<br />

But there’s more to a snowy sojourn in this<br />

mountain paradise as I found out when I<br />

went to learn French in between ski<br />

sessions.<br />

How often have you promised yourself that<br />

this is the year you will learn or improve<br />

your French? And then somehow never<br />

quite got round to it? Perhaps just not sure<br />

how to begin or was it just time that you<br />

ran out of?<br />

Good news for would be French<br />

speakers<br />

Well the good news is that you can actually<br />

make it happen in a way that is easy,<br />

memorable and dare I say fun? Yes fun!<br />

Because there’s a French language school<br />

in a little town called Morzine and after a<br />

week with them, you’ll not just be talking in<br />

French, you may even be thinking in French<br />

and you’ll have had a fantastic alpine<br />

holiday too, packed with memories and<br />

fresh mountain air.<br />

Morzine is a delightful mountain town in<br />

the Haute Savoie region of the Rhones<br />

Alpes about an hour from Geneva and<br />

tucked away in a part of the Alps known as<br />

the Portes du Soleil. Strict planning rules<br />

mean traditional wooden chalets and shops<br />

in the centre of the town have kept a<br />

distinctly alpine style and charm. And<br />

whatever your preferred holiday pleasure,<br />

this is a great place to be based.

Let’s start with improving<br />

your French<br />

Even if you’ve visited Morzine before, you<br />

may not have noticed the busy little Alpine<br />

French School tucked just off the main<br />

road not far from the tourist office. It comes<br />

equipped with a super friendly team of<br />

teachers and staff who can and do speak<br />

English if you need them to and the<br />

atmosphere when you enter is instantly<br />

relaxed and welcoming. There’s a handful<br />

of well-equipped classrooms, a multimedia<br />

room and common room for you to take<br />

advantage of and a whole smorgasbord of<br />

classes and courses to choose from. I<br />

opted for an intensive week of 3 ½ hour<br />

classes at beginner’s level each afternoon.<br />

You’re allocated a class according to your<br />

ability before you arrive and there is<br />

nothing more reassuring as you sit down<br />

for your first lesson than realising that you<br />

are learning with people at roughly the<br />

same level as you.<br />

Our teacher Lucille spoke almost entirely<br />

in French throughout but it was clear and<br />

easy to understand and the format of the<br />

lessons had you talking in French<br />

straightaway. The lessons are a<br />

combination of theory and practical<br />

learning, with games, written French and<br />

lots of conversation.<br />

It’s a long time since I’ve been in a<br />

classroom, and my fellow pupils came from<br />

all walks of life. There was a young Swiss<br />

soldier and a Russian girl who’s been living<br />

in Australia. And then there was Anthony<br />

from the UK whose determination to get to<br />

grips with this language was nothing short<br />

of inspirational.<br />

I’m ever so slightly addicted to learning and<br />

it was great to be in a room full of fellow<br />

addicts all enthusiastically lapping up our<br />

“pronoms”, “passé composé” and<br />

“structure infinitives”. Long since forgotten<br />

French which we’d all learnt way back when<br />

came rushing back and our afternoon<br />

classes flew by. We were all speaking<br />

French with each other even after the class<br />

by the end of day one, not least as it was<br />

our only common language, and my<br />

confidence, which has taken more than a<br />

few knocks over the last two decades,<br />

came gradually flowing back.<br />

left: in the<br />

classroom;<br />

above Lucy<br />

enjoying<br />

afterschool<br />

skiing; right:<br />

gourmet fun in<br />

the alps<br />

Photo: Morzine Tourist Office/Jarry Tripelon

"Friendly French<br />

Scheme -<br />

participating<br />

shops and<br />

restaurants<br />

that help you to<br />

talk in French!<br />

And the great thing about the Alpine<br />

French School is that the learning and<br />

experience doesn’t end when class<br />

finishes. One of my fellow pupils was also<br />

enjoying one to one classes each morning<br />

and we both took advantage of the French<br />

conversation get together on a Monday<br />

night where local ex pats joined us. The<br />

school operates a “friendly french scheme”<br />

throughout the town. Just arm yourself<br />

with one of their cards which says just<br />

that, and participating shops and<br />

restaurants will help as you talk to them in<br />

French. It’s fantastic for the confidence.<br />

And… of course you don’t have to be a fan<br />

of winter sports to enjoy this stunning<br />

region. The Alpine French School offers a<br />

whole host of activities for you to combine<br />

with your French lessons throughout the<br />

year which include skiing, hiking, fishing,<br />

kayaking, horse-riding and even golf. So<br />

you can choose a holiday pleasure to suit<br />

you and then combine it with your French<br />

lessons.<br />

This is a great holiday for couples or solo<br />

travellers because of the different<br />

accommodation options. You can stay with<br />

a French family to really soak up the<br />

French lifestyle (and cuisine) or you can<br />

opt for the 4-star luxury hotel option, chalet<br />

accommodation or stay in an apartment.<br />

Morzine is a haven of bustling bars and<br />

restaurants (including Michelin starred<br />

restaurant L’Atelier in the three-star Hotel<br />

Le Samoyède) on and off the piste. Classes<br />

finish in the evening at about 6.15pm which<br />

is perfect timing for an early evening drink<br />

followed if you want by a meal. But if all the<br />

fresh air and mental agility has worn you<br />

out, or you’re keen to get back and<br />

complete the day’s homework (yes<br />

homework, but not too taxing), you can of<br />

course just head home and cater for<br />

yourself. The school's apartments are<br />

walking distance from the town centre and<br />

there are also plenty of buses.

Customising your holiday<br />

Your first port of call in arranging your<br />

holiday is deciding which of the French<br />

courses suits you best. and then you just<br />

pair up your lessons with one of the 13<br />

alpine activities on offer.<br />

Above:Morzine<br />

is great for<br />

families; below:<br />

this is a town<br />

with a sense of<br />

humour!<br />

Alternatively, just enjoy a “feet up and<br />

relax” holiday and visit the local pool, spa<br />

and steam room and enjoy the surrounding<br />

villages. There’s plenty to explore!<br />

However you choose to customise your<br />

holiday, one thing is for sure. You’ll be<br />

amazed at how much your French<br />

improves in just the space of a week. You’ll<br />

be talking it, reading it and maybe even<br />

dreaming in it and like many of the people<br />

that I met during my visit here, you’ll be<br />

planning your return trip very soon.<br />

You can find out more about the Alpine<br />

French School at alpinefrenchschool.com<br />

Read our The Good Life in Morzine expat<br />

story: Page 92 with hone seekers top tips.

The<br />

Incredible<br />

Cave of Pont<br />

D'Arc<br />

© Patrick Aventurier<br />

Linda Matthieu visits the biggest replica<br />

cave ever created and find it to be an<br />

awesome experience<br />

Imagine that you are a speleogist (one who studies caves) and you are in an area known<br />

for its many caves - in this case, the Ardeche Gorge. You climb the limestone cliffs, doing<br />

a little exploring, when suddenly, unexpectedly, you feel a waft of cool air coming from a<br />

small opening. You squirm through the small opening and into a narrow tunnel having to<br />

chisel your way through at some points until finally you reach an enormous cave.<br />

Casting the light of your flashlight around you are startled to see some ancient drawings<br />

on the cave walls - and it turns out that these drawings were done 30,000 years ago, the<br />

oldest in the world!<br />

This is what happened in 1994 when three<br />

French spelelogists did just that. The<br />

cavern is named after one of them, Jean-<br />

Marie Chauvet. Along with those fantastic<br />

drawings (there are over one hundred<br />

depicting horses, mammoths, bears and<br />

even rhinoceroses), there are handprints,<br />

abstract markings, fossilized remains, bear<br />

skulls and fire pits. There is also a set of a<br />

child's footprints left about a thousand<br />

years after the drawings were done and<br />

before a landslide occurred blocking the<br />

entrance and protecting the interior.<br />

The cave has been sealed off to prevent<br />

further damage from visitors, its walls and<br />

drawings are so delicate that they have to<br />

be protected. However a wonderful replica,<br />

the Caverne du Pont d'Arc, has been built,<br />

the largest cave replica ever. The art is<br />

reproduced in an underground environment<br />

in a circular building above ground with the<br />

same sensations of silence, darkness,<br />

temperature, humidity and acoustics as the<br />

real thing. Sculptors and painters, under the<br />

supervision of scientists, recreated each<br />

geological and artistic characteristic of the<br />

decorated Cave of Pont-d’Arc. It took four<br />

years to create, is wheelchair friendly and is<br />

estimated to have cost about 54 million<br />


© Patrick Aventurier<br />

Left: Details of horse drawings<br />

Above: The panel of the chasing lions<br />

Right: A very modern ancient cave<br />

You can only visit in small groups with a<br />

guide, with most tours done in French<br />

although there is an activated recording in a<br />

headset in many languages and the tour<br />

takes around 50 minutes. You quickly forget<br />

you are in a replica as you wander through<br />

the cave looking in wonder at the drawings<br />

and the bear skulls. The most monumental<br />

panel is of 36 lions, chasing down nearly 100<br />

mammoths, bison and rhinoceroses.<br />

It truly is fascinating.<br />

The grounds of the Cavern are well<br />

landscaped and there is food and drink<br />

available. The Galerie de l’Aurignacien<br />

museum gives some very interesting<br />

information on the cavern and life as it was<br />

32,000 years ago.<br />

You'll find this incredible cave and museum<br />

near the city of Pont d'Arc, a lively place filled<br />

with tourists, and just a few kilometres from<br />

the original cave and the famous gorge.<br />

Top tips:<br />

Reserve online before you go, the number<br />

of people able to enter is limited: Website<br />

cavernedupontdarc<br />

There is a free shuttle service from the<br />

bus station at Vallon Pont d'Arc.<br />

A visit to the Galerie de l’Aurignacien is<br />

unguided and takes about 45 minutes –<br />

you can visit this before or after the cave.


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The Forgotten summer by Carol Drinkwater<br />

The annual grape harvest at the Cambon family's<br />

magnificent vineyard is always a cause for celebration.<br />

But not this year. When an accident destroys the crop,<br />

leaving the estate facing ruin, Clarisse Cambon knows<br />

exactly who to blame - her daughter-in-law Jane. It's just<br />

the latest incident in a decades-long feud whose origin<br />

both women have concealed from Luc, who struggles to<br />

keep his wife and mother on speaking terms. But is Luc<br />

the saint he appears to be? When tragedy strikes, Jane is<br />

thrown into doubt. What secrets has her husband been<br />

keeping?<br />

Only in Paris by Duncan J Smith<br />

A comprehensive illustrated guide to more<br />

than 100 fascinating and unusual historical<br />

sites in one of Europe's great capital cities -<br />

quiet cloisters, eccentric museums, covered<br />

passageways, secret gardens,and unusual<br />

shops. From the Parisii tribe and Roman<br />

Lutetia to the 'Sun King' and Napoleon<br />

including sites such as The Pagoda cinema,<br />

the Museum of Magic, Foucault's pendulum,<br />

and a subterranean necropolis.


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Beginning French by Les Americains<br />

First they took French. Then they took leave of<br />

their senses. They bought a 400-year-old<br />

cottage in rural France from an ad on the<br />

Internet. Their “completely restored” farmhouse<br />

certainly looked charming, but the pool leaked,<br />

the walls cracked, and the electricity fizzled<br />

whenever they switched on the kettle. This is<br />

the wry and witty memoir of les Américains,<br />

Eileen and Marty, joined by their chef-daughter<br />

Sara. Their dream of being French leads them<br />

into uncharted territory where “oh la la” takes<br />

on a whole different meaning.<br />

Bon Moments by Perry Taylor<br />

Beautiful Indian ink drawings of life in rural<br />

France in the sunny southern region of<br />

Gascony. Perry's witty take on the daily<br />

goings on in this sunny part of France<br />

makes you smile and his whimsical<br />

drawings are perfect for coffee tables<br />

everywhere - but beware - your friends will<br />

want to "borrow" this beautiful book! Warm,<br />

wonderful and deliciously funny...

French Language Lesson -Tongue<br />

Twisters!<br />

Try saying this when you’ve had a glass of wine or Champagne:<br />

intergouvernementalisations (the plural of (intergouvernementalisation) or<br />

anticonstitutionnellement. At 27, 26 and 25 letters long, these are the longest words in<br />

the French language!<br />

Their meanings are pretty obvious to English speakers as well as French, since a<br />

surprisingly large number of English words and expressions are the same or very similar<br />

- since they’re of French origin. Thanks to William the Conqueror, French became the<br />

official language of England for 300 years. You’re actually already au fait with quite a lot<br />

of French vocabulary – it’s just that the way the words are pronounced can be very<br />

different.<br />

Fiance, tete-a-tete, entrepreneur – just three words off the top of my head that are the<br />

same in both languages. The more you think about it, the more you realise that often it’s<br />

a matter of pronunciation (and speed of talking) that differentiates French from English.<br />

Had a déjà vu lately? In a restaurant or café, you may start the meal with an aperitif,<br />

perhaps Champagne, and you may find, pâté or omelette is served and end with soufflé<br />

or mousse for dessert.<br />

Improve your French by practicing some of these rather challenging virelangues, tongue<br />

twisters:<br />

For those tricky ‘s’ and ‘ch’ sounds: Les chaussettes de l'archiduchesse sontelles<br />

sèches, archi-sèches? (Are the Archduchess’ socks dry, very dry?)<br />

How about this for a bit of a mouthful, this French tongue twister is full of words that<br />

sound the same but are written differently, known as homophones: Si six scies scient<br />

six cyprès, six cents scies scient six cent cyprès (If six saws saw six cypresses, six<br />

hundred saws saw six hundred cypresses<br />

And for those who find it hard to get the “on”s and “en”s and “ou”s and “ue”s: “Tonton,<br />

ton thé t'a-t-il ôté ta toux” disait la tortue au tatou. “Mais pas du tout”, dit le<br />

tatou. “Je tousse tant que l'on m'entend de Tahiti à Tombouctou.” ("Uncle, your tea<br />

has cured your cough," said the tortoise to the armadillo. "<strong>No</strong>t at all," said the armadillo. "I<br />

cough so much that you can hear me from Tahiti to Timbuktu.")<br />

If you’re struggling to get the words right, we’ve partnered with<br />

the fabulous Frantastique whose online French courses are<br />

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Géraldine Lepère of Comme Une Francaise French language and lifestyle<br />

shares her top tips to help you sound more French!<br />

Grammar and French lessons in books are useful, but I want to help you go the extra<br />

mile.<br />

In this video, I’ll cover some sentences that we French really use in everyday life. These<br />

are typically French expressions that you’ll hear in friendly conversations, in the streets<br />

and cafés. Use them and people will immediately think you’ve been living in France for<br />

years!<br />

Learn how to use expressions like "quoi de neuf" (what's up?), discover how to say the<br />

phrases property and know what kind of situation is appropriate and how to answer<br />

them!<br />

So, if you'd like to fit in and sound like you've really made an effort, which of course you<br />

have by watching my video - and speak French like the French do - enjoy the lesson:<br />

5 Easy Expressions that will help you pass for French!


Got a Question about life in France?<br />

The Good Life France is delighted to help readers who have questions about living<br />

in France – tax, property, currency, legal, healthcare and a whole lot more… if you<br />

have a question simply email: editor@thegoodlifefrance.com and we’ll see if we<br />

can get it answered for you.<br />

Euan McLachlan<br />

currency expert at<br />

FC Exchange<br />

Jennie Poate,<br />

Finance expert at<br />

Beacon Global<br />

Wealth<br />

Jo-Ann Howell<br />

Life in France expert<br />

at French Admin<br />

Solutions<br />

Tim Sage<br />

Property Expert<br />

Leggett Immobillier<br />

In this section:<br />

Helen Watts moved to the French Alps, to the lovely Morzine area where she started a<br />

language school and says "embrace the differences between your birth country and<br />

France"...<br />

Tim and Ingrid Bell moved to the Auvergne region with its lush countryside and volcanic<br />

scenery to open an auberge. Tim gives his top tips for anyone considering running a<br />

restaurant in France.<br />

Jo-Ann Howell examines the process for getting a Carte de Residente<br />

Jennie Poate gives her top financial tips to consider when moving to France<br />

Euan McLachlans shows how you can make your money work harder for you when you<br />

need French currency.<br />

Tim Sage looks at the sales process in France and says "tidy up" when your house is on<br />

the market!

The Good Life in....<br />

The French Alps<br />

You might say, that having lived in the<br />

French Alps for the last 15 years that Helen<br />

Watts, director and teacher at the Alpine<br />

French School in Morzine is living the<br />

dream, but has it all been plain sailing and<br />

what’s expat life really like when you’re<br />

tucked away in the mountains?<br />

What inspired you to move to this little alpine<br />

town?<br />

I moved to Morzine in 2000 after studying<br />

French in Grenoble and falling in love with<br />

the Alps. I liked Morzine because of its<br />

year-round activity and the fact that it's a<br />

working town as well as a ski resort so<br />

unlike many resorts, it is as busy in the<br />

summer as it is in the winter. It is a very<br />

beautiful town with chalet-style<br />

architecture and none of the high rise<br />

buildings that have spoilt so many resorts.<br />

And there’s so much to do.<br />

Was it easy to find the home of your dreams?<br />

We wanted to build our own house so that<br />

we could design it exactly how we wanted.<br />

My husband loves property development<br />

so it was his project really and it is a lovely<br />

house. We built a traditional wooden chalet<br />

while I was pregnant with our son, Xavier<br />

and moved in soon after he was born.

Credit Morzine Tourist Office JB Bieuville<br />

Is there a big expat community where you are?<br />

Yes there are lots of expats here, I think<br />

this is the case in most Alpine areas of<br />

France. We both have French colleagues,<br />

French friends, locals and ones who have<br />

moved to the area like ourselves. Our<br />

children are also at school in France so we<br />

feel like we are part of the French<br />

community as well as the expat one.<br />

What’s been your biggest challenge when it<br />

comes to living in France?<br />

I'd say the biggest challenge to living here<br />

is getting to know the French administration<br />

system and understanding it.<br />

Although France is a neighbouring country<br />

to the UK, the taxation system is very<br />

different and culturally there are big<br />

differences too. But once you understand<br />

how the country works and accept the little<br />

particularities, it’s a great place to live.<br />

Also, of course there are things that you<br />

miss: friends, family, favourite British foods<br />

but luckily being only an hour from Geneva<br />

airport, we fly back regularly and friends<br />

and family come out to visit and make the<br />

most of the mountains at the same time.<br />

When I moved here, Morzine was a lot<br />

smaller than it is now so I found it very easy<br />

to make friends. I think if you have children<br />

in the schools and work with other people<br />

rather than from home then these two<br />

things make a big difference.<br />

Have you had any challenges in running your<br />

business in France?<br />

There are a lot of hoops to jump through<br />

when it comes to running a business. It’s<br />

complicated and the cost of employing staff<br />

is extremely high. But again once you<br />

understand this, you can concentrate on<br />

making your business work. I started<br />

teaching English and French and created a<br />

language school. It has grown steadily over<br />

the years and now we offer a wide range of<br />

courses for adults and juniors and it is<br />

lovely to have a growing business that<br />

helps people to learn languages and<br />

achieve their personal and professional<br />

goals. I am now in partnership with two<br />

French colleagues and we are always<br />

striving to grow the business and offer<br />

more variety and great courses.<br />

Have you found it easy to make friends here?

Credit Morzine Tourist Office JB Bieuville

So what would you do differently if you had<br />

the chance?<br />

I'm not sure I'd do anything differently<br />

really. Maybe I would have tried to buy<br />

property when the prices were lower in<br />

alpine resorts but I've had a great time<br />

living and working in Morzine and there is<br />

very little that I would change.<br />

Advice for anyone moving to France?<br />

This is quite an easy one ... you need to<br />

start learning French before you come to<br />

France. Then once you’re here, you need to<br />

make an investment of time to continue<br />

learning. It opens so many doors and helps<br />

you integrate properly. Also, accept that<br />

there are many differences between France<br />

and your home country, learn about these<br />

and embrace them…<br />

And bring some proper English tea with<br />

you as the French 'English Breakfast Tea'<br />

just isn't the same!<br />

Looking for a French Alps<br />

move?<br />

Morzine is a winter and summer resort<br />

offering skiing, watersports, road and<br />

mountain biking amongst a host of other<br />

outdoor activities.<br />

At just over an hour from Geneva Airport,<br />

it sits in the heart of the Portes du Soleil<br />

ski domain, where investment in the<br />

infrastructure is high.<br />

Here you'll find a varied blend of<br />

traditional chalets, oozing Savoyard<br />

charm, rubbing shoulders with chic<br />

apartments, village houses and new<br />

builds and there are a number of<br />

affordable properties available.<br />

Local property expert Nicky Wye's top<br />

Modernised four bedroomed chalet for<br />

sale in the Col de Corbier. Attention<br />

grabbing price reduced from<br />

€369,000 to €320,000<br />

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Imposing, high quality 5 bedroom/5<br />

bathroom spacious chalet with panoramic<br />

mountain views, near Morzine. Great as a<br />

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There’s always such a lot to think about<br />

when you’re moving to France – from<br />

packing boxes and making sure your<br />

favourite glasses don’t get broken when<br />

you’re loading them onto the removal lorry<br />

to getting your post redirected. Some<br />

things are easy to forget but are really<br />

important for ensuring a successful move<br />

when it comes to the financial side of<br />

things.<br />

For instance you should always inform the<br />

UK inspector of taxes at your local HMRC<br />

tax office that you are planning to move.<br />

You don’t have to do it in person, you<br />

simply fill in a form P85 (find and download<br />

it here: www.gov.uk). Doing this enables<br />

the UK tax office to clear up any<br />

outstanding issues before you move. For<br />

example if you are receiving UK property<br />

rental income you will also need to<br />

complete a ‘non-resident landlord<br />

declaration’. This will enable you to receive<br />

the income gross otherwise, if rented<br />

through an agency, they will be obliged to<br />

give you the net rent after tax at 20%.<br />

You should consider planning a strategy for<br />

your savings and income before you move.<br />

Some UK savings products just don’t work<br />

as well as you’d like them to when it comes<br />

to French taxation. For some savings<br />

products, it may be better to consider<br />

closing or changing them before you<br />

become French tax resident. ISAs for<br />

example are a tax free product in the UK<br />

but are subject to a number of taxes in<br />

France. Therefore if you require the cash or<br />

need income, it may be better to look at the<br />

French options available which could be<br />

more tax efficient than keeping the funds<br />

where they are. This should be done before<br />

leaving the UK tax regime and entering the<br />

French as then no taxes will be payable.<br />

Premium bonds are taxable in France so<br />

that big win, may not be so large after all.

What about pensions? Where are they?<br />

Can you access them yet? Review options<br />

with your adviser so that your pensions are<br />

in the best place ready for your move to<br />

France. Use a qualified authorised financial<br />

adviser who understands both the UK and<br />

French tax systems so that you can make<br />

an informed choice about your pension<br />

options. Arrange for a state pension<br />

forecast which will tell you how much you<br />

will receive and when. Pension income is<br />

often tax efficient in French terms<br />

compared with investment income which<br />

has a higher rate of ‘CSG’ or social charges.<br />

However some forms of investment bonds<br />

are incredibly tax inefficient especially if<br />

they are the offshore variety and really can<br />

be a ‘square peg’ in a round hole.<br />

When you’re assessing your income, don’t<br />

forget you may pay tax on it in France -<br />

reducing what you have to spend. A good<br />

adviser will be able to provide you with an<br />

estimate of tax payable and look at ways<br />

of minimising or reducing tax. Your estate<br />

agent can usually recommend someone<br />

English speaking who is local to you for tax<br />

purposes or your financial adviser can<br />

recommend someone to help based on<br />

your needs. Getting it right first time means<br />

that you won’t have to worry going forward.<br />

You may need to think about inheritance<br />

planning, doing this before you move can<br />

save considerable heartache (and<br />

headache) later. You may include all of your<br />

assets (property and cash) wherever they<br />

based. The notaire handling your house<br />

purchase may only look at how the<br />

property ownership should be structured,<br />

which of course might be only part of what<br />

you have.<br />

A good adviser will be able to review<br />

everything you have in place now and in<br />

the future (after the sale of your UK<br />

property for example). They should take<br />

into account your income needs and<br />

priorities, coupled with your inheritance<br />

wishes and come up with a plan that will<br />

help you start off on the right foot for tax<br />

purposes once you become resident in<br />

France.<br />

I’d advise you to use a competent tax<br />

adviser to prepare your first French tax<br />

return, especially if you don’t speak fluent<br />

French. Getting it right first time means no<br />

unpleasant surprises later on and allows<br />

you time to figure out how the system<br />

works. Your tax adviser can also liaise with<br />

your financial advisor concerning the<br />

timings for moving/closing some<br />

investments which can be crucial.<br />

Jennie Poate is a qualified financial adviser.<br />

She is happy to answer any queries you<br />

may have by telephone or email and she<br />

and her team would be delighted to help<br />

you plan your move to France.<br />

Jennie can be contacted at: •<br />

jennie@bgwealthmanagement.net<br />

The information on this page is intended as an introduction only and is not designed to offer<br />

solutions or advice. Beacon Global Wealth Management can accept no responsibility whatsoever<br />

for losses incurred by acting on the information on this page.<br />

The financial advisers trading under Beacon Wealth Management are members of Nexus Global (IFA<br />

Network). Nexus Global is a division within Blacktower Financial Management (International)<br />

Limited (BFMI). All approved individual members of Nexus Global are Appointed Representatives of<br />

BFMI. BFMI is licensed and regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and bound by<br />

their rules under licence number FSC00805B.


Currency exchange in its simplest is just that, exchanging one currency for another but<br />

there are different methods of doing this and which one is best for you will depend on<br />

what your specific requirement is.<br />

Euan Mclachlan at FC Exchange takes a look at British pounds into euros, and three<br />

different options of carrying out a currency exchange:<br />

Travel cash/Holiday money<br />

For most people their experience of currency exchange will come from needing cash in the<br />

local currency of their holiday destination. For many this transaction will have taken place<br />

on the high street at some bureau de change or other and the rate they received will most<br />

likely not have been given a great deal of consideration. <strong>No</strong>w however it is far easier to<br />

compare and make sure you are getting the most for your pounds. Online comparison<br />

sites provide the rates available from a number of providers with options to either pick up<br />

the currency or have it delivered to you. Make sure you take account of any delivery<br />

charges for your currency, particularly if it is a relatively small amount you are exchanging<br />

as a good rate of exchange can be negated by a delivery charge.<br />

Prepaid currency card<br />

Prepaid currency cards are not new by any stretch of the imagination but may still be an<br />

under-used but very viable option to carrying foreign currency. Currency cards provide<br />

people with the ability to carry a card in the local currency and avoid the risk of carrying<br />

cash. In addition and perhaps more importantly the exchange rate available on currency<br />

cards is likely to be better than that available when converting to travel money. For<br />

frequent travellers currency cards can be a good option as they can be topped up while<br />

away with many having an app for doing this. Currency cards are also available in multicurrencies<br />

which can prove invaluable for those travelling on business or who visit<br />

differing countries.<br />

Money transfer<br />

The final method of currency exchange that we will look at in this article is the one that is<br />

likely to be the most unfamiliar to most but is the one where the greatest savings can be<br />

made and that is international money transfer or overseas payments. This type of<br />

transaction is more usually carried out where people have a larger currency exchange<br />

requirement and quite often a greater interest in the country that the currency relates to.<br />

The default for many people making a foreign currency exchange of this sort is to use their<br />

bank but a better option is to use an authorised currency broker such as FC Exchange. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

only can a currency broker provide a better exchange rate they can also offer an improved<br />

level of service and different options to ensure that best possible rate of exchange is<br />

achieved.<br />

With all currency exchange requirements it is highly advisable to compare, be that online<br />

providers and comparison sites versus the high street offerings for holiday money or a<br />

currency broker versus a high street bank for an international payment. Taking some time<br />

to look into the options available can save you money and make the process easier.

What is a Carte de Resident – and how do I get one?<br />

For many people, the British vote to leave<br />

the EU was a shock, none more so than<br />

expats in France for whom the level of<br />

uncertainty over what comes next for them,<br />

is huge.<br />

Whilst MEPs in some EU countries openly<br />

support the idea of offering dual citizenship<br />

to residents, and facilitating the<br />

process, it seems unlikely that France will<br />

relax its stringent rules regarding the level<br />

of French language and cultural understanding<br />

currently required to qualify for<br />

naturalisation, leaving many wondering<br />

what they can do to protect their lives,<br />

homes and careers in France before it’s too<br />

late.<br />

But fear not, naturalisation is not the only<br />

option!<br />

The French carte de resident or carte<br />

resident longue durée UE, which is<br />

normally designed for 5+ year residents<br />

from non-EU countries, can also be<br />

obtained by British residents following<br />

application in person at your local<br />

Prefecture.<br />

Check with your prefecture before going in,<br />

as some have very specific instructions for<br />

example in Nice (PACA region) you must<br />

go to window Number 3, between 9 & 11.30.<br />

Like all French processes, applying for a<br />

card will mean lots of paperwork.<br />

When you apply for a Carte de Resident,<br />

you’ll need to take originals and copies of<br />

the following documentation:<br />

Your passport<br />

Recent proof of address (for example an<br />

EDF bill less than 3 months old or a recent<br />

rent receipt<br />

If you married in France, take your ‘Livret<br />

de famille’<br />

If you married abroad, take your marriage<br />

certificate – accompanied by a translated<br />

copy which must be conducted by a<br />

traducteur assermenté (certified translator)<br />

Your full birth certificate, showing parents’<br />

names – this must also be translated by a<br />

traducteur assermenté<br />

Proof of income<br />

Long term contract and last payslip,<br />

Or if self-employed take a recent extrait<br />

Kbis and your last company accounts or<br />

bilan<br />

Auto-entrepreneurs should take their<br />

‘facturier’ – a list of the invoices you have<br />

issued in the previous year, in date order,<br />

including value<br />

Proof of Pension Income<br />

Your last two years of ‘avis d’imposition’ –<br />

tax bill for your household<br />

Your application form will be completed by<br />

a prefecture employee with you present.<br />

And, here’s a real bonus – whilst the UK is<br />

still part of Europe, this card is delivered<br />

free of charge, and without a requirement<br />

for speaking French.<br />

by Jo-Ann Howell at French Admin<br />

Solutions who helps expats settle into life<br />

in France.<br />

Find lots more information for expats in<br />

France on The Good Life France website

Property Guide France<br />

It needn't be a puzzle says property expert and agent Tim<br />

Sage as he looks at the selling process<br />

For sellers in France there is both good<br />

and bad news resulting from the UK<br />

decision to leave the European Union.<br />

We’re not here to go into the rights, wrongs<br />

or otherwise of Brexit but let's start with<br />

the bad news.<br />

Over recent months, up to the end of June,<br />

most of France saw a market with roughly<br />

two homes for sale for every buyer<br />

available. The trend is now heading<br />

towards three for every buyer, as potential<br />

home seekers in France await the tangible<br />

results of Brexit. This is making the<br />

existing sellers market harder to compete<br />

in. How can you help yourself to be one of<br />

the lucky ones?<br />

That's where the good news comes in if<br />

you’re a Brit looking to move back to the<br />

UK. If your home has been on the market<br />

for a while, then the first step you can take<br />

is to reduce the asking price and here’s<br />

why.<br />

Towards the end of 2015 we saw the<br />

exchange rate between the euro and the<br />

pound at around 1.45 euros to the GBP<br />

while current levels (August 2016) are at<br />

around 1.18 euros to the GBP.

If you hoped your home would get you<br />

200,000 euros, at last year’s rate you<br />

would have realised around 138,000 GBP<br />

but now that same price will generate about<br />

170,000GBP. Reducing your asking price<br />

by 10% will still give you around 152,000<br />

GBP at this rate.<br />

thinking negative thoughts.<br />

That's the financial side but what else can<br />

you do?It's not unheard of for homes to be<br />

sold without the buyer visiting but it is rare<br />

so the point of advertising your home for<br />

sale is not so much to sell it on the net or in<br />

a window but to get potential buyers<br />

through your door and make them go<br />

“WOW, I really want this home”.<br />

Make your house look its<br />

best<br />

When you sell, you first visior should be the<br />

agent who will be helping you with the sale.<br />

Make sure you have enough time to<br />

prepare your home for the photographic<br />

work they want to do. There is a limit to<br />

amount of editing an agent can do,<br />

changing grey skies to blue yes - but no<br />

amount of editing will remove that pile of<br />

dirty washing up or put away the laundry!<br />

De-cluttering really helps when it comes to<br />

photos, you can always put things away in<br />

boxes ready for your new home when you<br />

sell.<br />

The second set of visitors are the potential<br />

buyers themselves. <strong>No</strong>rmally your agent<br />

will be able to give at least a day’s notice<br />

and often more than that but there are<br />

times when they get a request for the same<br />

day or even within a couple of hours. Make<br />

sure your home is clean and tidy ready for<br />

the visit and don't forget the garden – grass<br />

cut and all looking good. As an agent, I<br />

frequently hear during my after visit chat<br />

with the buyers, “Could be nice but what a<br />

tip, they don't care do they”, and buyers find<br />

this offputting. They think, if your house<br />

isn’t tidy, then what else is wrong with it?<br />

Don’t give potential buyers any chance of<br />

So, the house is looking great and the<br />

garden is a riot of colour, the doorbell rings -<br />

the visitors have arrived. If you have a dog,<br />

put it outside even if its friendly. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

everyone loves animals and you want to<br />

make the first impression as good as you<br />

can.<br />

Put the dog out!<br />

There is a theory that the smell of freshly<br />

baked bread or cake and brewing coffee will<br />

enhance the viewing. I've no doubt it will but<br />

the smell of burnt bread or cheap coffee<br />

won't! Without sounding like an advert,<br />

Febreeze works not by covering unwanted<br />

smells but removing them (yes, proven) and<br />

leaving a fresh smell in the house.<br />

Personally I'm all for opening doors and<br />

windows for fresh air but there are times in<br />

the year when, in the agricultural parts of<br />

France, they're best left closed!<br />

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to<br />

contact The Good Life France or direct to

The good life<br />

The Auvergne<br />

Terry Marsh talks to a couple who've<br />

downsized their life in the UK and moved to<br />

France to run an Auberge

During the years of my doctoral research,<br />

rather than do combat with the university<br />

students for whom parking a car was<br />

looked on as a martial art involving an<br />

exquisite lack of spatial awareness, I opted<br />

for the less hazardous parking available<br />

through the good offices of the manager,<br />

Tim Bell, at the adjacent hotel. The<br />

Lancaster House Hotel is a 99-room, 4-star<br />

establishment, complete with its own<br />

restaurant and a bar menu that serves<br />

arguably the best fish and chips in<br />

Lancashire. Tim was manager here for<br />

more than a decade.<br />

Be that as it may, when, a while ago, I rang<br />

to speak to Tim, I was told he had gone to<br />

France. He’d moved lock, stock and barrel<br />

to the nether regions of the Auvergne and<br />

the Puy-de-Dôme; to a small and typically<br />

rural French village (Auzelles), on the rim of<br />

the Livradois Forez National Park, an area<br />

of pristine afforested countryside and with<br />

the wildlife to match. There, he and his<br />

partner Ingrid, had bought a 5-roomed<br />

auberge wherein they sought a revitalising<br />

richness in their life experience.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w that’s what I call downsizing...with a<br />

vengeance. Their destination, the Auberge<br />

de Chabanettes, has a long and colourful<br />

history, a familiar landmark in this part of<br />

rural France for over 150 years. In bygone<br />

years, it served as a butchers shop, an<br />

abattoir and a petrol station, but never lost<br />

the inherent purpose of all inns, to provide<br />

good food and lodging for travellers who<br />

pass through the region, as well as warm<br />

and welcoming place of refreshment for the<br />

local community. After a devastating fire in<br />

the 1980s, the Auberge was sadly left in<br />

ruin for many years until it was completely<br />

re-built and renovated in 2004.

I caught up with Tim and Ingrid just as the<br />

magnitude of what they’d done was<br />

dawning on them.<br />

An Auberge in the Auvergne<br />

Plans evolved, were re-shaped, re-born,<br />

rejected, re-invented, knocked about a bit,<br />

re-worked and either given up on, or<br />

applied with an eye to taste and quality<br />

that can only come from long years in the<br />

hotel service industry... and it shows. It<br />

almost goes without saying that whatever<br />

funds they had when the brainchild was<br />

born, were soon metamorphosed into<br />

bricks, mortar, furniture, bedding, linen and<br />

sundry other furnishings and tasteful bits.<br />

Never mind the bank balance; look at the<br />

auberge!<br />

Tim, in a moment of reflection told me: ‘It<br />

was always going to take something really<br />

quite special to tempt me away from the<br />

green, lush, dramatic land that I’ve been<br />

proud to call home for so long’.<br />

What did it for him was the relatively<br />

unknown volcanic region of France called<br />

the Auvergne. It may even have been me<br />

that told Tim about the Auvergne, as I’ve<br />

been coming here for years... then again it<br />

might be because Ingrid’s parents had<br />

recently retired to ‘nearby’ Languedoc, and<br />

after 20 years in the UK, for Ingrid the<br />

Auvergne was a case of finally going home.<br />

Either way, it was a new beginning.<br />

As is so often the case these days, English<br />

Tim and French Ingrid met by online dating,<br />

and I have to say...Tim did very well out of<br />

the digital coup de foudre. They now have a<br />

son, Lorenzo, who in a year or so should be<br />

good for dishwashing, and a short while<br />

after that, waiting on, preparing meals, and

generally managing the entire business<br />

while mum and dad sit by the river sipping<br />

the award-winning wines produced at<br />

Saint-Georges d’Ibry in the Languedoc.<br />

That is how these things work, isn’t it?<br />

A new life in France<br />

Each year, many people contemplate doing<br />

much the same, up-rooting and setting up<br />

home in France. In Ingrid, Tim has a French<br />

anchor, and that’s sure to make quite a<br />

difference, not least when it comes to the<br />

morass that is French bureaucracy.<br />

The reality is that there are hurdles to<br />

overcome, but all you need is the patience<br />

to overcome them; it’s no use complaining.<br />

You have to get stuck in, red tape can be<br />

quite appealing in a masochistic kind of<br />

way. The UK’s departure from the EU is<br />

certain to throw up yet more hurdles; c’est<br />

la vie. But when the dust settles, normality<br />

will resume, and the Auvergne can<br />

continue its rise in favour with Britain and<br />

the rest of Europe.<br />

I have to say that what they have achieved<br />

so far is awe-inspiring. The auberge is<br />

comfortable, welcoming and a peaceful<br />

place to retreat from the brouhaha of<br />

modern life. As a base from which to<br />

explore this part of the Auvergne it couldn’t<br />

be better, and it just goes to show what can<br />

be achieved with positive thinking.<br />

Tim’s final word on the matter: ‘For us, the<br />

Auvergne hasn’t just ticked every box. It’s<br />

blown us away in terms of what it can offer,<br />

and more importantly...what it can offer<br />

discerning tourists of the future’. But you<br />

don’t have to take Tim’s word for it; come<br />

and see for yourself.<br />

Auberge de Chabanettes<br />

See Tim's top tips for anyone thinking of<br />

running an Auberge in France next page...

Tips and picks for home buyers in the Auvergne see page 56

3 Granny Smith apples<br />

2 pears (we used conference)<br />

2 tablespoons dried cranberries<br />

3 tablesppons blanched almonds<br />

½ teaspoon all-spice<br />

1.5 tbs brown sugar<br />

Juice of 1 lemon<br />

60g butter<br />

10 slices filo pastry (30cm round)<br />

Icing sugar to garnish<br />

1. Peel apples and pears and cut into 1.5cm<br />

chunks. Roughly chop almonds and set<br />

aside with the fruit.<br />

2. Put brown sugar into frying pan with a<br />

couple of tablespoons of water to help it<br />

dissolve, cook until it is just turning to<br />

caramel.<br />

3. Add apples, pears, almonds &<br />

cranberries, cook over medium heat until<br />

the apple and pears are just soft and the<br />

almonds are golden brown; but be careful<br />

not to burn them! Remove from heat and<br />

leave to cool

4. Brush a filo leaf with melted<br />

butter, place another one on top<br />

and brush with butter. Divide the<br />

fruit mix into 5 equal portions, and<br />

place a portion of mix just off<br />

centre on the pastry. Fold in the<br />

sides to cover fruit, then roll/fold<br />

the pastry to form a parcel. Place<br />

on baking tray and repeat for the<br />

other 4 parcels.<br />

5. Cook in pre-heated oven at 160°<br />

C until golden brown (approx 30 to<br />

40 minutes)<br />

Dust with icing sugar just before<br />

serving. Lovely autumnal pudding,<br />

very quick to make and a great use<br />

of seasonal fruit. Cooking the<br />

almonds until golden brown brings<br />

out the flavour however they can<br />

burn very easily so you really need<br />

to keep an eye on them!<br />

You can of course vary the fruit you use, or the<br />

nuts pecans are also delicious with this. Lovely<br />

served with vanilla ice-cream, or créme fraîche or<br />

whipped cream.<br />

Advanced Preparation<br />

The parcels can be made up to a day in<br />

advance and kept in the fridge but<br />

should be cooked to order.<br />

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wonderful surroundings. Experience the reality of<br />

gourmet cooking. Top chefs and luxury<br />

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deep in the heart of the 'real' French countryside:

By Countess Alex<br />

Coquille St Jacques<br />

with a Truffle and<br />

Sauterne Sauce<br />

Ingredients<br />

3-4 large prepared scallops per person<br />

2 shallots<br />

l large wine glass of Sauterne (or any dessert wine )<br />

6-7 dessertspoons double cream<br />

60 g chopped truffle<br />

2 tablespoons butter<br />

Salt and white pepper<br />

Method<br />

1. Wash the scallops well in cold water. Dry with a kitchen towel. Remove the roe and put<br />

to one side. Peel and finely chop shallots. Fry with a little butter until golden brown. Add<br />

the wine and let it simmer for 1 minute then add the cream. Reduce by a third over a low<br />

heat and leave until needed.<br />

2. Take a heavy bottomed frying pan, slice scallops horizontally into 2 thinner discs. Melt<br />

the butter and sear the scallops on each side until golden brown. Add the chopped roe<br />

then take off the heat.<br />

3. Add the scallops to the prepared sauce with the finely chopped truffle and reheat<br />

gently for <strong>12</strong> minutes. Season. Sprinkle with a pinch of the pepper. Serve immediately.

Baked<br />

Saffron<br />

Pudding<br />

TITLE<br />

andra Simonoff-Arpels<br />

Ingredients<br />

5 eggs<br />

1 litre milk<br />

140g sugar<br />

2 sachets vanilla sugar<br />

1 vanilla pod or 1 tea spoon vanilla essence<br />

15 threads/strands saffron<br />

Method<br />

1. Infuse milk with the saffron threads at least half an hour before cooking. Add sugar and<br />

vanilla pod to the milk and bring to the boil. Remove vanilla pod, split and empty into the<br />

hot milk.<br />

2. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk. Pour boiled milk slowly over the beaten eggs and<br />

continue whisking. Pour mixture into an oven proof glass dish or 6 ramekins.<br />

3. Put into a cold oven. Cook for 20 mins at <strong>12</strong>0 C (Gas Mark 23); 10 mins at 180 C (Mark<br />

6) and 5 mins at 210 C (Gas mark 7)<br />

Serve with a glass of sweet white wine...

Karen Burns-Booth cre<br />

Ingredients<br />

450g of blackberries, fresh<br />

450g of white cane sugar<br />

1 lemon, juiced<br />

Setting points:<br />

Flake test: dip a large spoon into the pan of jam and<br />

scoop out a spoonful, hold the spoon horizontally<br />

over the pan of jam and allow the jam to<br />

drip……setting point has been reached when the jam<br />

forms a long drip, like webbed feet, and hangs<br />

without dropping from the spoon.<br />

Cold saucer test: place a saucer in the freezer; spoon<br />

a spoonful of jam onto the cold saucer, and push it<br />

with your finger, setting point has been reached<br />

when the jam wrinkles and sets.<br />

Temperature test: use a sugar thermometer and<br />

place the thermometer into a jug of boiling water just<br />

before testing for a set; lower the thermometer into<br />

the jam and setting point has been reached when the<br />

reading is 104.5C (220F)<br />

Method<br />

1 Place the blackberries and lemon juice in<br />

a large pan and simmer gently for about 15<br />

minutes until the fruit is soft<br />

2 Meanwhile, warm the sugar in a low oven.<br />

When the fruit is cooked, add the sugar and<br />

stir the sugar and fruit over a low heat until<br />

the sugar has dissolved<br />

3 Turn the heat up and bring the fruit and<br />

sugar to a boil, boil for 10–15 minutes until<br />

setting point has been reached (see setting<br />

point testing notes above)<br />

4 Once setting point has been reached,<br />

take the pan off the heat, spoon any scum<br />

off the top of the jam and leave to sit for<br />

about 10 minutes<br />

5 Ladle the hot jam into warm, sterile jam<br />

jars and seal immediately with a screw-top<br />

lid. Label once cold.

ates in the cuisine!<br />

Ingredients<br />

400g fresh or frozen blackeberries (well<br />

drained and defrosted if frozen)<br />

100g caster sugar<br />

100g melted butter<br />

300g self raising flour<br />

1 teaspoon baking powder<br />

2 large free-range eggs beaten with 150mls<br />

milk (or 150mls buttermilk)<br />

1 teaspoon vanilla extract<br />

Method<br />

1 Pre-heat oven to 160C/325F/Gas mark 3<br />

and line a <strong>12</strong> x hole bun/cake or muffin tray<br />

with paper cases. Mix the topping<br />

ingredients of sugar and spice together<br />

and set to one side.<br />

2 Place all of the ingredients, EXCEPT the<br />

blackberries and topping into a mixing<br />

bowl and mix until JUST blended, do NOT<br />

over mix.<br />

3 Add half of the blackberries and gently<br />

stir through the batter mixture.<br />

4 Spoon half of the mixture into the paper<br />

cases, scatter a few more blackberries on<br />

top of the mixture, then add the rest of the<br />

Topping<br />

4 tablespoons Demerara sugar<br />

1 teaspoon mixed spice (or a mixture<br />

of ground cinnamon and nutmeg)<br />

cake mixture. Scatter any remaining<br />

blackberries over the top and bake for 10 to<br />

<strong>12</strong> minutes or until the cakes have risen and<br />

are golden brown.<br />

5 Take them out of the oven and sprinkle<br />

over the sugar and spice mixture, whilst<br />

they are still hot and in the tin.<br />

6 As soon as they are cool enough to<br />

handle, after about 5 minutes, gently ease<br />

the cakes out of the tin and place them on<br />

a wire rack to cool completely.<br />

7 Suitable for freezing and are wonderful<br />

when heated and served with custard, as a<br />

hot pudding.

My<br />

Good<br />

Life<br />

in<br />

I love autumn in France, particularly in my<br />

part of the country, the Seven Valleys in the<br />

far north.<br />

This is a lush, verdant part of France,<br />

agricultural, forested and criss-crossed by<br />

streams and rivers. I love how the leaves on<br />

the trees change colour from the bright<br />

greens of summer to vibrant yellow and<br />

fiery red, and the hedgerows start to thin.<br />

Wild flowers put on a display of jewel like<br />

colours in the fields. Apples fall in the wind,<br />

the mornings are misty, the grass is glittery<br />

with dew.<br />

Everyone seems to have a spring in their<br />

step as they return to work and school after<br />

their long summer holiday. It still never<br />

ceases to amaze me how many businesses<br />

close for summer here in France, even<br />

restaurants, just when you think they<br />

would be busiest!<br />

In preparation for the winter my neighbours<br />

make jam and freeze boiled summer fruits<br />

and vegetables. They store produce from<br />

their gardens and fields, potatoes are<br />

hoarded in cellars, carrots stored in boxes<br />

of sand. Pumpkins start to be harvested<br />

and there is always a contest to see who<br />

grew the biggest in the village - one year a<br />

green fingered monsieur grew one so large<br />

no one could lift it and it had to be rolled<br />

into a tractor bucket to get it out of the<br />

garden. I bet they were eating pumpkin pie<br />

for months!<br />

They're not the only ones preparing for<br />

winter. Wild pigs and deer, even eagles start<br />

foraging seriously, and my adopted<br />

hedgehogs - there are five of them that<br />

regularly feed at the back door, will start to<br />

eat more ready for hibernating.<br />

It's a time for celebration of the harvest and<br />

every village will hold a party. Called a<br />

Ducasse or a Kermesse, the entire village is<br />

invited to join in with a meal, usually<br />

mussels and chips, accompanied by<br />

copious amounts of beer, wine or cider<br />

followed by dancing, often going on until<br />

the early hours of the morning. Even the<br />

dogs join in, howling at the surprising and<br />

unusual nocturnal noise in this normally<br />

tranquil countryside.<br />

My ducks, geese and chickens like autumn<br />

too, especially when I chuck the fallen<br />

apples into the pen! My three dogs love to<br />

run in the cooler weather at this time of the<br />

year - the fields of sweet corn and wheat<br />

have been cut and they race down the neat<br />

lines, searching for the grouse and<br />

pheasant that are so plentiful.<br />

Wishing you a Happy Autumn from me and<br />

my (gulp) 72 animals! xx

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