Spring 2022

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Discover Paris in the spring, Caen in Normandy and its marvellous markets plus Yvoire, a picturesque village on the edge of Lake Geneva in Haute-Savoie. Explore Saint-Omer, a historic city in the far north that's full of secrets and treasures, and Evian, where Frankenstein's monster stayed! Head with us to Metz in Lorraine to find out about its incredible past, La Couvertoirade, one of the prettiest villages in France, and the UNESCO heritage of Avignon. Guides, gorgeous photos, what's new in France, the best tours and delicious recipes from the legendary Le Nôtre bakery in Paris - and more.

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The

Good Life France

ISSUE Nọ 29

Paris

in the spring

Spotlight

on the UNESCO

sites of Avignon

Le weekend:

in Metz

Saint-Omer,

the secret gem of

northern France

Discover Evian,

La Couvertoirade,

Yvoire and more...

Unmissable

Provence

- the must see sites

Discover

historic Caen

Magazine

Iconic cake

& croissant

recipes from the

legendary

Lenôtre's of Paris

120 pages

of inspirational

features and

gorgeous photos


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Bienvenue

Bonjour and bienvenue to The Good Life France magazine

Spring 2022 issue, and I’m absolutely delighted to be back

with the magazine after a little break and with travel opening

up again. I’ve been busy behind the scenes with a new book

out this year (Toujours la France!) and we’ve moved the

magazine onto a new whizzy platform and our new designer

Philippa has made it look even more beautiful than ever I hope

you’ll agree.

I know many of you will be dreaming of, and planning to visit

France, so I hope that you will find this edition inspirational and

the cause of daydreams!

Before I get started – a massive thank you to all the sponsors

who’ve made this issue possible, you’ll spot their adverts

throughout and I promise you this, they are the best!

This issue is going to seriously tempt your taste buds with the

most delicious pastry recipes from the famous Le Nôtre bakery

in Paris. And talking of Paris – our gorgeous photos of the City

of Love and Light in the spring will definitely make you want to

come and sit under a Parisian cherry tree.

Explore the wonderful, historic city of Metz in Alsace in the

north-east, the mouth-watering markets of Caen in Normandy

and the extraordinary town of Saint-Omer in the north of

France, which has so many ancient and secret places it is

mind-boggling. Discover the lost monuments of Paris, stunning

alpine Evian, Avignon astounding UNESCO listed sites,

unmissable Provence – and much more.

I hope I’ve tempted you to flip every page of this issue, so I’ll

let you go now, and enjoy the fabulous articles and stunning

photos.

Don’t forget to subscribe – it’s free (see page 4) and share this

issue with your friends – that’s free too! You can download the

magazine, and even print it if you prefer!

Bisous from France,

Janine

Follow us @frenchjanine

On Twitter, Instagram &

Facebook

Janine Marsh

Editor

The Good Life France | 3


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Contributors

Amy McPherson is a London

based travel writer and regular

contributor to The Good Life

France whose work has been

featured in many international

publications. When not on

assignment, she loves a day spent

riding her bike or running along the

river Thames, or relaxing with her

cat on her lap.

Sue Aran is a writer, photographer,

and tour guide living in the Gers

department of southwest France.

She is the owner of French Country

Adventures, which provides

personally-guided, small-group,

slow travel tours into Gascony,

the Pays Basque, Provence and

beyond.

Keith Van Sickle is a writer who

splits his time between California

and Provence. He is the author

of An Insider’s Guide to Provence,

One Sip at a Time: Learning to

Live in Provence and Are

We French Yet? Keith & Val’s

Adventures in Provence. Read

more at Life in Provence.

The Good Life France Magazine

Front Cover: By renowned Paris photographer Saul Aggo.

Find more of his gorgeous photos on Instagram: saaggo and at

saaggophoto.com

Editor-in-chief: Janine Marsh

Editorial assistant: Trudy Watkins

Press enquiries: editor (at) the Good Life France.com

Advertising: sales (at) the Good Life France.com

Digital support: websitesthatwork.com

Layout design: Philippa French littlefrogdesign.co.uk

Issue 29 Spring 2022, released March 2022

4 | The Good Life France


CONTENTS

The Good Life France Magazine

No. 29/Spring 2022

ON THE COVER

8 Paris in the spring

Is there anything dreamier than

the city of love in the spring?

We don’t think so…

16 Marvellous markets and

Janine Marsh heads for Caen

and discovers the historic city

has markets to drool over.

36

24 Hidden France: Jewel

of the north

With its wonderful architecture,

incredible wildlife and vibrant

town centre, Saint-Omer is

simply wonderful.

36 Le Weekend in Metz

Just 80 minutes from Paris by

train, Moselle’s main city has

something for everyone.

48 UNESCO listed Avignon

The sunny city in Provence is

home to a treasure trove of

historic buildings.

48

74 Unmissable Provence

Need inspiration for a visit

to the south of France?

Keith van Sickle shares some

of the top sights.

The Good Life France | 5


60

DISCOVER

42 Plus Beau Village

One of the best preserved

Templar Knights villages in

France, La Couvertoirade is a

great place to visit.

56 Lost Monuments of Paris

Sue Aran uncovers the stories

behind some of Paris’ most

beautiful lost buildings.

60 Spotlight on Evian

The tranquil city where

Frankenstein once stayed!

66 Active by Nature

Amy McPherson finds beauty

and adventure in unspoiled

Vercors in south-east France.

89 French Canals

Author David Jefferson cruises

the mighty river Rhône.

94

PHOTO SPECIALS

94 Your Photos

Featuring the most beautiful

photos shared on our Facebook

page.

70 The Pearl of Lake Geneva

Photo Essay of the gorgeous

medieval village of Yvoire in

Haute-Savoie.

REGULARS

78 What’s New

New series – all the news and

events you need for your next

trip to France.

78

84 Tours de France

The very best of France for

tours and holidays.

6 | The Good Life France


92 Language

New series –

5 Minute French Lesson.

118 Last word

Life in rural France.

36

GUIDES

98 Central France

A look at the property scene in

Auvergne, Burgundy, Centre

and Limousin.

103 What is a French Vie

Assurance?

The experts explain how it all

works and what it means.

BON APPÉTIT

The famous Le Nôtre boulangerie

in Paris shares scrumptious recipes…

104 Croissant

Make France’s favourite pastry

like a pro.

108 Chocolate croissant

Be inspired to make this

irresistible treat.

24

112 Brioche pudding

Utterly, butterly scrumptious

brioche.

114 French Almond cake

This sweet treat is sure to

become a favourite home bake.

116 Pain d’épices des Gâtines

Delicious and oh so moreish

spice cake.

112

4 Subscribe to The Good Life

France Magazine

Everything you want to know

about France and more

The Good Life France | 7


8 | The Good Life France


PARIS

in the spring

“When spring comes to Paris, the humblest mortal

alive must feel that he dwells in paradise”

– Henry Miller

Champs de Mars © Nathalie Geffroy

Paris is undoubtedly a year-round city, but

there is something about the spring that’s

special. Paris in the spring is a cliché but

like the best of clichés, it’s also a tangible

experience.

The air is soft and warm, the sun’s rays filter

through the cherry blossom and light up

bunches of pink and purple wisteria festooning

fences, climbing over shop windows and

doorways. The trees that line boulevards and

avenues burst into life; boules games resume

in the parks. Favourite city spots start to fill up

with people flinging off their coats and settling

in to watch the world go by from the terraces

of their favourite cafés from Montmartre to

Montparnasse. Families stroll in the parks,

The Good Life France | 9


Basilica of Sacré-Coeur at sunset

the pleasure boats float on the Seine beneath

the bridges and alongside famous landmarks,

the Eiffel Tower, the Conciergerie, the Musée

d’Orsée.

When the spring rain falls, people say, oh but

the chestnut trees smell better in the rain. The

sun rises a little earlier each morning, twilight

arrives a little later each night and the sunsets

glow every shade of rosiness from pale salmon

to burned-orange, turning the Basilica of

Sacre-Coeur from pure white to blush pink.

At the flower market in the shadow of the

great Cathedral of Notre-Dame, old ladies

wander through the Belle Epoque kiosks

choosing pots of flowers to decorate their

windowsills and balconies with daffodils, lily

of the valley, miniature roses and geraniums.

The sellers at the market rediscover their

dormant joie de vivre, their fingers no longer

turning purple-blue with the cold, and in rue

Mouffetard, the fruit sellers lay out bunches

https://www.cognac-no22.com/

10 | The Good Life France


of asparagus and sweet strawberries tempting

buyers to enjoy the taste of spring.

The public parks and secret gardens burst

into colour as flowerbeds bloom, and

strollers take a break on the famous green

chairs. Puppet shows, guignol, return and

in the Luxembourg Gardens, starry-eyed

children sail wooden boats across the Grand

Basin. Close by, flowers flourish in great

pots around the Medici fountain which

was commissioned by Marie de Medici,

Queen of France, in about 1630.

The bouquinistes open their book boxes

along the Seine and bring out their

piles of posters and books. The sun

shines through stained glass windows

of churches casting a kaleidoscope of

colours inside the cool interiors.

The famous green chairs you see in Paris parks were originally commissioned by

the Paris Senate, Sénat, and are known as SENAT chairs. They first appeared

in the Luxembourg gardens, and though you can’t buy SENAT chairs (they are

exclusive to Paris), you can buy similar – Luxembourg chairs!

The Good Life France | 11


Twilight in rue Saint-Dominique © Nathalie Geffroy

Pavement cafe in spring © Nathalie Geffroy

https://jackdawjourneys.com/

12 | The Good Life France


Paris flower market © Nathalie Geffroy

The Good Life France | 13


Parc Clichy-Batignolles – Martin Luther King, 17th arrondissement

© Nathalie Geffroy

The cherry blossom blooms around mid-

April in Paris and several parks and gardens

have rows of them including Parc Clichy-

Batignolles – Martin Luther King, 17th

arrondissement and Place Marcel Aymé.

It’s just off Rue Norvins in Montmartre,

where you’ll find a statue of Dutilleul AKA

‘The Walker through the Walls.’ Bookworms

will enjoy the cherry blossom tree in front

of Shakespeare & Co. book shop near the

Cathedral of Notre Dame. Parc Monceau,

and Jardins des Plantes are also lovely.

And if you’re a wisteria fan, head to Au

Vieux Paris d’Arcole restaurant in rue

Channoinesse, a stone’s throw from Notre

Dame to enjoy the spring blooms that

drape across the front. The wisteria here

was planted in 1946 and has its own special

license to grow large!

Rue Mouffetard one of the oldest streets in Paris where there has been a market since the Middle Ages.

Photos by Nathalie Geffroy, Paris photographer extraordinaire, find more of her stunning

photographs at : Instagram/nathparis and at nathparis.net

14 | The Good Life France


Au Vieux Paris d'Arcole © Nathalie Geffroy

The Good Life France | 15


Caen La Mer:

Markets, monuments,

museums and memorials

16 | The Good Life France


Think of Caen and most likely the things that pop into your mind will include William

the Conqueror, whose power base was here, and Caen Memorial.

Caen is the biggest city in, as well as the capital of, lower Normandy. It’s a town

with a vibrant vibe, history, grand architecture, a fantastic foodie culture and a real

community spirit – it’s all about the markets.

There is a market every day of the week here but the two big ones are on Friday and

Sunday mornings…

The Market of

Saint-Sauveur

The Friday morning market in Place Saint-

Sauveur is a stone’s throw from the famous

Abbaye aux Hommes, built as a penance

by William the Conqueror. The Pope

excommunicated the then Duke of Normandy

for marrying his cousin Matilda of Flanders

in 1053, but he was forgiven by founding the

Abbey in 1063, whilst Matilda founded the

nearby Abbaye aux Dames in about 1060.

Both buildings, each to the side of the castle

of Caen, were paid for with booty stolen

from England. And both Matilda and William

were interred in their abbeys. Marble

plaques mark the spots, though William’s

now only contains a single thigh bone, the

rest of his bones were scattered during the

French Revolution.

The Good Life France | 17


Early on a sunny Friday morning, I explored

the market which spills out of Place Saint-

Sauveur the oldest square in the city and into

the roads around. It’s probably the oldest

market in Caen too. Though the date for when

it started isn’t known, the market is mentioned

in documents from the time of Richard II,

William the conqueror’s grandfather.

About 250 traders are here, selling everything

foodie and almost everything else. Local

honey, butter, cider, calvados (apple brandy),

garlic and even ginger, saffron and yuzus

grown less than an hour from the city.

Of course, Norman cheeses are there in

abundance - Camembert, affectionately

known as God’s feet by the locals, Pont-

L’Evêque, Livarot and Neufchâtel. I stopped in

my tracks at the sight of chocolate bread and

a delicious spread of tarts and cakes. “Would

you like to try” the stall holder asked me,

smiling as I sighed with happiness – it tastes

divine. An elderly lady nodded approvingly

and told me that she never buys any food at a

supermarket, only this market and the Sunday

morning ‘big one.’

In the square, shoppers pulling trolleys and

carrying baskets and bags are watched over

by a statue of a no-doubt approving Louis XIV

dressed as a Roman Emperor. A voracious

gourmand, he was said to eat up to 300

oysters in a single sitting. With that in mind I

followed my nose to the fish market where the

freshest of scallops, which are emblematic of

Caen, sea snails, bulots, fish and all manner of

shellfish were arrayed. A group of infants on

a school trip to learn about food passed me

18 | The Good Life France


y chatting about the incredible display and

laughing at a stall called ‘Standouille’, a play

on words in French ‘c’est un andouille’ which

sells an impressive range of sausages.

Tripe of course is also sold at the market, Tripe

à la mode de Caen is the traditional dish of

the city, and they’re very proud of it here. And

it if floats your boat, pop to Boucherie Sabot

in Boulevard des Alliés near the 14th century

Tour Leroy. Sabots is Normandy’s most

famous, multi-award winning, third-generation

family producers of Tripe.

It’s an impressively beautiful, irresistibly

scrumptious market – enough to make me

want to move to Caen!

At the other end of the marketplace, the

vast ramparts of Caen Castle are imposing

The Good Life France | 19


20 | The Good Life France


and majestic, one of the largest medieval

enclosures in Europe, built in around 1060.

Though the castle lies in ruins, there are

wonderful views from the top and there are

two excellent museums – the Musée des

Beaux Arts and the fascinating Musée de

Normandie which explores the history of the

Norman people, within the enclosure.

Marché du Dimanche

Saint Pierre

The most important market in the region takes

place on Sunday morning market at the port

de Plaisance in Caen. Along the quay of the

bassin Saint-Pierre, on Place Courtonne and

Quai Vandeuvre, you’ll find a whopping 400+

traders selling pretty much everything. There’s

a mind-boggling array of local products

straight from the farm, olives from Provence

and goods from all around France, artisan and

craft goods, clothes, homeware and more.

Families amble, browse and buy, stopping to

look out over the port at the boats bobbing

up and down, their anchors clanging gently,

while birds hover waiting for titbits. Keen cooks

buy the freshest produce for the all-important

Sunday meal, and baskets are filled with food

for the week ahead.

What really surprised me about this market

was the dizzying amount of street food

stands. Great steaming bowls of aromatic

noodles and cauldrons of prawns and shellfish,

irresistible Brittany style galettes, succulent

roasting chickens, even vegan.

Where to eat out:

Caen is a foodie’s paradise and the local

restaurant chefs are often to be seen at the

city’s markets. You’ll find heaps of choice

when it comes to eating out, these are just a

few of my favourites:

L’Aromate, 9 Rue Gémare, 14000 Caen.

laromate-caen.fr

Superb menu and it’s all about the ingredients

– the freshest fish and vegetables and chef.

The staff are friendly, the ambiance is great –

you simply can’t go wrong here.

The Good Life France | 21


https://www.sophiesgreatwartours.com/

https://parischanson.fr/

22 | The Good Life France


L’Okara, 24 Rue Froide, 14000 Caen.

lokara.fr

Welcoming organic and ethical vegetable

restaurant that’s perfect for vegetarian and

vegan dining.

Une Cuillére a Carrée, 22 Rue de Bernières,

14000 Caen. unecuillerecarree.fr

A real favourite with the locals for its refined

and delicious menu.

Le Pt’tit B 15 Rue du Vaugueux, 14000

Caen. leptitb.fr

In an ancient building in the medieval district,

in a picture postcard pretty street, in the

shadow of the great castle ramparts with a

superb menu and delicious cocktails – an

absolute winner.

Bouef and Cow, 6 Boulevard des Alliés.

boeufandcow.com

Elegant and welcoming setting overlooking

the beautiful church of Saint-Pierre and

serving Normandy’s finest burgers and meaty

dishes.

La Ferme de Billy, 29 bis, 31 Rue de l’Eglise,

14980 Rots. ferme-de-billy.com/en

A 15-minute drive from Caen city centre

brings you to the glorious apple-growing

countryside of Normandy – and a traditional

cider farm. The Ferme de Billy’s weekend

brunch and Thursday/Friday lunch buffet is

the best I have ever been to. A huge choice

of local products, beautifully cooked and

presented. Afterwards take a walk around the

estate with its 13th century chapel. A must if

you’re in Caen.

Where to stay

I stayed at the 3* Hotel Des Quatrans,

17 rue Gémare, 14000 Caen.

hotel-des-quatrans.com It’s in a tranquil spot

but just steps from the city centre, ideal as a

base to visit Caen and the wider area.

Go Trade is a European

project which since 2017

has worked with English

and French partners to

support and preserve the role that traditional

markets play in daily life. Find our more at:

gotrade-markets.eu

Details of markets and what to see and do in

Caen: caenlamer-tourisme.com

Did you know: Caen is one of

those tongue-twister words

non-French find really hard

to say. Some say it like ‘con’

which in French means idiot

(or worse). It’s more like

‘Carn’ –pronounce the ‘n’ but

emphasise the ‘r’!

The Good Life France | 23


Marché St-Omer©Office de tourisme de la Région de Saint-Omer

Saint-Omer –

quintessential

northern France

24 | The Good Life France


Why head to the south of France when the north has so much to offer? I get it. It’s what almost

everyone does. “It’s wall to wall sunshine in the south” they say. “There are beaches. The food is

fabulous. The map says follow this route for a whole day.”

But take it from me, stop off in the north of France and you’ll find out why that habit of heading

south needs to change. Discover a part of France that’s truly authentic, where the food is

sensational, the countryside is idyllic and the seaside is glorious. There are historic towns

and cities, battlefield and remembrance sites, world-class museums, gorgeous little villages,

spectacular countryside with great cycling and hiking routes, water sports and some activities

that are unique. And if that sounds tempting – then I know just the place for you… Saint-Omer is

an absolute jewel of the north of France.

The Good Life France | 25


26 | The Good Life France

https://www.dfds.com/en


Saint-Omer

Saint-Omer in the Pas-de-Calais department

is just 30 minutes from Calais by car and

2.5 hours from Paris by car or train. It is

a town that has an extraordinary history

spanning millennia. The Romans set up shop

here. Thomas Becket AKA Saint Thomas

of Canterbury, took refuge there. Three of

America’s Founding Fathers studied at the

Jesuit Chapel. Saint-Omer is the symbolic

home of the British Royal Air Force and

it’s where Douglas Bader, hero of the RAF

in WWII was shot down, escaped from his

captors and was sheltered in the town.

And surrounding Saint-Omer is some of the

most bucolic countryside in France, with

shades of the Dordogne.

Visit the town

Start your visit at Place du Maréchal Foch

in the centre of the town. It’s lined with

gourmet food shops and cafés that are

perfect for sitting outside and watching the

life of the town go on. Behind the theatre

which dominates this ancient square, is Guy

Delalleau’s delicious boulangerie/patisserie –

his cakes are like small works of art and taste

as good as they look – it’s not to be missed.

Around the squares are cobbled streets with

300 year old merchants houses and majestic

manors, a place that lures artists to capture

the topsy-turvy Flemish style. The River Aa

runs through the town and makes for a pretty

walk and if you happen to be there in the last

week in July, you’ll be able to join in the fun of

the annual nautical procession, a carnival of

floats on water!

Park your car (there are several free car parks)

and pick up a map from the tourist office

which is in a tranquil green area behind the

Cathedral and where you can sit on Paris style

park chairs at the café and listen to those

mellow bells ring. And if you go on Saturday

morning, you’ll find one of the best markets in

the region. Saint-Omer is a place to wander,

and discover it’s many secrets…

The Good Life France | 27


Saint-Omer Cathedral © A-S Flament

Notre Dame

The former Cathedral of Notre Dame is a

stunning, flamboyant 13th century Gothic

church and inside is even more impressive.

It houses the tomb of Saint Omer, medieval

funeral slabs, a several centuries old statue of

Christ and a collection of paintings including

The Descent from The Cross by Rubens. There

are several ornate marble side chapels inside

one of which hangs an RAF regimental flag, a

reminder that the aerodrome at Longuenesse

on the outskirts of Saint-Omer is the spiritual

home of the RAF, the successor to the Royal

Flying Corps who had their HQ here during

WWI. The Cathedral also houses a mindboggling

astronomical clock dating to 1588,

one of the oldest in France, and a vast 300

year-old 115-pipe organ, a listed historic

monument, which if you are lucky enough

to hear played, will leave you with a lasting

memory.

Saint-Omer Cathedral, to the left Louis XIV's doors under the astronomical clock

28 | The Good Life France


Palais de Cathédrale

Around the great Cathedral are beautiful

mansion houses including the Palais de la

Cathédrale at 12 Rue Henri Dupuis. Owner

Jean-Luc Montois has spent the last few

years restoring it to look as it did two hundred

years ago when it was lived in by a local

merchant. Although Jean-Luc lives there, he

has opened it to the public and to enter is

like stepping back in time, an extraordinary,

exquisite home that is filled with wonderful

treasures that he has collected for many

decades. It’s so extraordinary in fact, that

we’ll bring you a whole article about it in the

next issue of the magazine. Book a tour via

Saint-Omer tourist office

A sumptious Theatre

The locals affectionally call the exquisite

domed building which dominates the Place

du Marechal Foch - Le Moulin à café, the

coffee grinder. Completed in 1840 on the

site of the former 14th century Alderman’s

Hall, it became the Town Hall complete

with an opulent Italian-style theatre which

gave the local bigwigs bragging rights. The

theatre closed in 1973 and for 45 years was

hidden from sight. In 2018, after restoration,

it reopened to the public, complete with the

original stage machinery. In its day it attracted

some of the most well-known performers of

the time including Edith Piaf and Luis Mariano.

Under an ornate ceiling, the circular operastyle

theatre has three balconies and private

boxes. Book tickets via labacarolle.org

Ancient Library

From the outside, the municipal library in

Saint-Omer does little to tempt, a modern

building of the sort found in every town in

every country. But – go inside, head to the first

floor and discover the wood-panelled former

Jesuit Chapel library filled with thousands

of ancient books some of which date to the

Palais de la Cathedrale entrance

Shakespeare First folio © Y CADART

7th century. Their collection includes a first

volume Gutenberg Bible, less than 50 of the

original 180 copies thought to be printed have

survived. Not long ago, an eagle-eyed librarian

dusting the shelves spotted a Shakespeare first

Folio. Those two books alone are worth some

$50million.

The Good Life France | 29


Saint-Omer theatre

https://perigourmet.com/

30 | The Good Life France


The Jesuit Chapel

Next door to the library, the Jesuit Chapel

was built from 1615 to 1640 by Jean du Blocq

(1583-1656), a Jesuit architect who also

designed the Cathedral of Luxembourg. He

was inspired by Gesù, the Jesuit church in

Rome, combined with Gothic style. It’s here

that Founding Fathers Charles Carroll, signer

of the Declaration of Independence, Daniel

Carroll, one of the Constitution’s two authors,

and John Carroll who became America’s first

Catholic Bishop and founder of Georgetown

University, spent many years studying. It’s now

used as a performance and cultural venue,

though is currently undergoing a restoration.

Abbey of Saint-Bertin

By the neo-classical train station of Saint-

Omer, one of the most beautiful in France

and a listed historic monument, you’ll find

the remains of Saint Bertin’s Abbey. Sadly

destroyed during the French Revolution, it was

at this location on the edge of the marsh that

a Swiss monk called Omer, sent to become

Bishop of nearby Thérouanne in 637, founded

an abbey in what was known then as Sitiu. It

became the Abbey of Saint Bertin, named

after one of Omer’s helpers, while the town

that grew up around it became Saint-Omer.

The abbey was expanded over the years and

was updated to the Gothic style now evident

in the ruins.

It was here in 1165 that Thomas Beckett who

became a Saint, sought refuge from Henry

II. The abbey became so important that a

prince’s quarters was built for visiting Kings

and Queens. Francis 1 came here on his way

to the Field of the Cloth of Gold Summit with

Henry VIII in nearby Guînes. Historians believe

that Anne Boleyn may also have been there

in the retinue of Queen Claude, wife of King

France, though no one knows if she met Henry

VIII at this time. Coincidentially, it was from

Saint-Omer that Henry VIII later sought a

swordsman to lop off poor Anne’s head.

Louis XIV also came here in 1677 when Saint-

Omer, which had been under Spanish rule,

was taken back by the French. He visited the

floating islands of the marshes that surround

the town, famous even then. In fact he was

so impressed he returned three years later

with the entire royal family and the court

and stayed at the Governor’s Hotel at the

spot where the Sandelin Museum now is. The

people of Saint-Omer marked his first visit

with an inscription on the grand doors to the

Cathedral, which is still there. Louis rewarded

the town by having his engineer Vauban

reinforce the rampart walls which now encircle

a beautiful park.

The Good Life France | 31


Sandelin Museum by Jean-Pol Grandmont

Musée Sandelin

The museum contains works by Flemish, Dutch and French masters, tapestries, plus a wonderful

collection of ceramics and a fascinating clay pipe collection which pays homage to the towns

past as an important producer of pipes and pottery.

After you’ve enjoyed the many attractions of the town, nip to the countryside on its

doorstep and discover the Clairmarais, the UNESCO listed biosphere marshland

where you can take a boat ride and discover the wildlife, unusual residences and

much, much more...

2CVs at Belle Echapees

32 | The Good Life France


The Audomarois

Marshlands

Hire a boat or take a guided ride in traditional

wooden bacoves along tree-lined canals

buzzing with bird life, where migrating herons

stop off and the postman delivers post by

boat, the only area in France with such a

service to homes which sit on floating islands

in the marshes. This 15 square mile network

of canals and farmland is unique in France

and a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve. It

was started by monks in 638. They diverted

the River Aa, divided the land into plots and

farmed the land. Today a few dozen market

gardeners continue to work the plots. It is

the cauliflower capital of France with some

5million grown each year.

Visit the Maison du Marais, less than 10

minutes on foot from the centre of Saint-

Omer. It’s dedicated to the history of the

marshes, features exhibits, an educational

garden, and boat tours of the marshes.

lamaisondumarais.com/en

Marshland activities

Meet the last of the Saint-Omer boat

makers: In a wooden shed on the edge of the

marsh, a team of enthusiasts make up the

last Audomarois shipyard in existence. Take a

fascinating guided tour, and discover how this

family business continues to hand-make the

traditional wooden boats of the marshes using

500 year-old plans and wood that is up to 100

years old.

You can also hire a boat here:

lesfaiseursdebateaux.fr

Explore in style: Hire a 2CV, VW camper van

or vintage electric bikes for a day, half-day or

weekend. les-belles-echappees.com

Beer: While you’re at their office, nip to the

brewery on the grounds of an extraordinary

Abbey. Founded by Saint Bernard de

Clairvaux in the 12th century, the once

monumental Monastery of Clairmairais was

yet another victim of the French Revolution

The Good Life France | 33


Laurent Delafosse Abbaye de Clairmarais brewery

and now just ruins remain. There was a

brewery on the grounds until 1790 and it’s

here that Laurent Delafosse now brews his

fabulous beers. abbayedeclairmarais.fr

True beer lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to

the Brasserie Goudale in nearby Arques,

a branch of the Brasserie de Saint-Omer

company, a hugely successful brewery

started by the legendary André Pecque AKA

the ‘King of Beer’. Some of his best known

brews include La Goudale (Old English for

good ale), Saint-Omer and Le Panaché.

Brasserie-goudale.com

Rando Rail: Pedal a 4-person kart on an old

railway line through leafy woods and across

fields on a 10km ride. www.rando-rail.com

Close by

La Coupole is an unmissable visit just 7km

from Saint-Omer. Beneath a 72 metres

wide, five-and-a-half metres thick, 55,000

tonne concrete dome, Hitler had a secret V2

rocket base built. A strike to the entrance put

paid to its aim to churn out bomb-carrying

Clairmarais

34 | The Good Life France


ockets. Today it is a fascinating and

haunting historical and scientific museum.

You get goosebumps when you walk into

the chilly and chilling 20 metre high tunnels

where the V2 rockets were prepared for

launch. This former bunker is also the home

of the most advanced planetarium in the

world. With a unique 15m wide screen with

10K resolution, the seats are interactive with

audience response technology and the 3D

films (D-Day Normandy, 1944; Explore and

Voyager which make you feel as if you’re

in space with astronauts) are nothing short

of utterly incredible. I promise you I gasped

out loud and ducked when rocks from Mars

came hurtling towards my head!

lacouple-france.com

Vintage train ride: in nearby Arques, hop on

a steam train or vintage train and explore

the gorgeous countryside in style on the Aa

Valley tourist railway. cftva62.com

Day at the seaside: Saint-Omer is around

one hour from the glorious beaches of

the Opal Coast including Wimereux with

its Belle Epoque villas, Audresselles an

authentic little fishing village and historic

Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Where to eat

Traditional: La Baguernette on the edge of

the marshes, and next to the embarkation

point for a boat trip. Their speciality is suckling

pig cooked in milk for eight hours in a woodfired

oven. They also serve local favourite beer

tart, utterly irresistible. labaguernette.fr/en

Upmarket: La Bacôve, opened by Top Chef

winner Camille Delcroix. Refined, innovative

and seriously scrumptious food in a beautiful

setting. You can expect something with

cauliflower on the menu soon as the chef

will in 2022 be inducted into the Saint-Omer

Confrérie du Chou Fleur (Brotherhood of

Cauliflower). restaurant-bacove.com

Tourist office: tourisme-saintomer.com

The Good Life France | 35


Le Weekend

Metz, Lorraine

Janine Marsh explores the historic city

of light where a dragon once lived…

36 | The Good Life France

Place Saint-Louis © Arnaud Hussenot


“Anyone been to Metz?” I asked in my local bar in the

Seven Valleys, Pas de Calais. There was silence. Even

in France, Metz is not well known and if you’re from

outside of France you might not even have heard of it.

Metz is in the north-east of France, in the

Moselle department. It is the capital of the

region formerly known as Lorraine, now

joined up with Champagne, Ardennes and

Alsace and called Grand Est.

Metz is one of France’s oldest cities with a

history going back some 3,000 years and

the fact that it is rather under the tourism

radar is astonishing. Close to Luxembourg

and Germany, it is a superbly gastronomic

city. It is historic, architecturally glorious,

home to arguably France’s oldest church -

the basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains

which began life in the 4th century, and

a Cathedral which has one of the largest

expanses of stained glass windows in the

world. There are magnificent museums

including a branch of the Pompidou, the

city is surrounded by glorious, mountainous

countryside – and yet, it’s less than an hour

and a half from Paris.

48 hours in Metz

Metz is steeped in history and character.

It’s a city of architectural contrasts, with

a medieval district, classical 18th century

architecture in the Place d’Armes and Palais

de Justice, the enormous neo-Romanesque

train station built by the Germans at the

start of the 20th century, and a modern side

too including the extraordinary Pompidou

centre behind the station.

It’s a compact city that’s easy to discover on

foot, but if you want to take it easy there's a

free hop-on-hop off navette bus, and there

are loads of cosy café’s and funky bars to

tempt you to stop awhile.

The must-sees

The great Gothic cathedral of Metz

In medieval days, Metz was a mecca for

artists and the Cathedral St Etienne, the

third highest nave in France, beautifully

illustrates the skill of stone masons and

artisans of the day. Made from golden local

Jaumont stone it has stood for more than

800 years (built between 1220-1522). The

vast stained glass windows (69,920 sq ft)

have earned it the nickname ‘God’s Lantern’.

The windows here range from medieval

masterpieces by Hermann de Münster and

Thiébauld de Lixheim to striking modern

panes by Jacques Villon and Marc Chagall.

During WWII windows were removed and

stored in crates, sent to Château de Dissay,

near Poitiers. This didn’t save them however,

they were discovered and sent to Germany.

Miraculously they were found in a salt mine

and returned to their home after the war.

At night the cathedral is illuminated and is

one of the reasons the city is known as the

Ville Lumières.

Museums

Housed in an old Carmelite convent, Le

Musée de la Cour contains three museums.

The Musée Archaeologique has one of

the most important collections of Gallo-

Romain archaeology in France including

ancient baths preserved in situ. The Musée

d’Architecture showcases Romanesque

and Gothic pieces. And the Musée des

Beaux Arts includes works by a range of

prominent artists including Delacroix,

Corot and Sargent.

The Good Life France | 37


Cathedral of Saint-Etienne (1)

https://chateau-masburel.com/

38 | The Good Life France


Train station of Metz © Philippe Gisselbrecht

Pompidou Centre

A regional branch of Paris’s Pompidou

Centre opened in Metz in 2010. The

avante-garde building, which is highlighted

by an undulating roof, houses an extensive

collection of modern art. The 77-meter

high spire is a nod to the year 1977, when

the Paris Center Pompidou opened.

Modern and contemporary art exhibitions

are regularly updated. The centre has a

café and a very nice restaurant with a

terraced area.

The Graoully – Metz’s dragon

The legend goes that a terrible dragon named

the Graoully terrorised the people of Metz

until the city’s first Bishop, Saint Clement,

drowned it. It’s said that the Bishop led the

dragon from its lair, along a narrow road to

the River Seille, warning onlookers “Taisonsnous/keep

quiet, don’t wake the monster.’

Stroll along the pretty cobbled street of what

is now called rue Taison, and look up, away

from the many boutiques and cafés, and

you’ll spot the Graoully, hanging over you!

The Imperial Quarter

Between 1902 and 1914, the Imperial

Quarter around the train station was built

to strict Germanic town planning principals.

Originally called Neue Stadt (new city)

the area has some of the best preserved

examples of German Empire urbanism,

especially the luxurious villas on Avenue

Foch and the remarkable train station.

Don’t miss

Porte des Allemands and the ramparts:

The old city gate (Gate of the Germans)

and a miniature fortified medieval castle

spans the river Seille. The ramparts once

formed a 5.5km enclosure enclosure

punctuated by 12 gates and 76 towers.

You can follow the ramparts path along the

river Moselle.

The Good Life France | 39


Port de plaisance ©Philippe Gisselbrecht

Head to the Quai des Régates and take an

electric boat tour– you can even combine

it with wine tasting or aperitifs. And take a

break in the park at Metz Marina, Port de

Plaisance.

Les Halles: The U-shaped covered market

on Place Jean-Paul II has a superb range of

food including a shop selling local Mirabelle

(plum) brandy. Take a break at the market

bistro L’Assiette du Marché or pick up

something delicious like fuseau lorrain, a soft

garlic sausage that’s a regional specialty

from Chez Mauricette opposite.

The squares: in the heart of Metz,

renovated squares such as the Place de

Chambre (nicknamed the gourmet square

of Metz), the Place d’Armes (the medieval

Place Saint-Louis, and the Place de la

République offer a place to relax. Place

Jeanne d’Arc is just perfect for summer

drinks and dining

https://sommailier.com/TheGoodLifeFrance/

40 | The Good Life France


Where to eat

El Theatris in Place de la Comédie on the

Petit Saulcy island in the centre of Metz serves

gastronomic food with an emphasis on local,

seasonal products. One of the dining rooms is

the former office of the Marquis de La Fayette,

French aristocrat and American Revolution

War hero. He was appointed commander of the

French army at Metz in 1791.

Head out of the city to Sarreguemines

(around an hour by car) for a Michelin star

feast created by Chef Stephan Schneider at

the gorgeous 4* hotel Auberge Saint-Walfrid:

stwalfrid.fr

Where to stay

4* MGallery La Citadelle Hotel in a former

16th century military building for its superb

décor and fabulous view over cathedral from

some rooms. 5 Av. Ney, 57000 Metz

Info

Trains to Metz run from Gare de l’Est, Paris

and take from 83 minutes.

tourisme-metz.com

Summer garden in the Place de la Comédie © Philippe Gisselbrecht-Ville de Metz

Did you know?

Metz is pronounced Mess which is

not a grammar thing – it’s unique

to Metz. In fact, says Vivienne

Rudd from Metz tourist office, even

most Messins (people of Metz)

don’t know why it’s pronounced this

way. Metz was called Divodorum

Médiomatricorum in Gallo-

Roman – a bit of a mouthful

and horrendous for inscribers

of the day. In the 5th century, it

was shortened to Mettis then to

Mets, Mèz, Mès, Metz and Mess in

the 14th century. A recent article

suggests that 17th century French

printers wanted to use the German

“ß” symbol to represent the

double “s”, but didn’t have one, so

replaced it with something that

looked (a bit) like it: “tz”, but the

old pronunciation stuck... why?

Because it’s easier to say!

The Good Life France | 41


Plus

© TripUSAFrance

42 | The Good Life France


Beaux Village de France:

La Couvertoirade

La Couvertoirade may be one

of the prettiest places in France

that you never heard of says

Janine Marsh...

The Good Life France | 43


© TripUSAFrance © TripUSAFrance

Deep in the heart of the Aveyron

department, southeast France, the little

village of La Couvertoirade provides a

glimpse into a long-gone past. It is one of

the best preserved Templar Knights villages

in France, and it’s a classified plus beaux

village – officially one of the prettiest villages

in France…

La Couvertoirade is located in territory

known as the Causses and Cevennes, a

UNESCO classified World Heritage site,

listed for its ‘agro-pastoral cultural landscape

of the Mediterranean’. It’s a rather dry

description of a stunningly beautiful area

of France with exquisite countryside where

villages in the valleys look as though they

have been hung on the sides of the hills

like baubles on a Christmas tree. The area

touches on four departments: Aveyron and

Lozère in the Midi-Pyrénées region, and

Gard and Herault in Languedoc-Roussillon.

La Couvertoirade looks out over the Larzac

plateau, a land of fertile valleys and villages

which seem to grow out of the rocks. In the

12th century, this area was considered the

private fiefdom of the crusading Knights

Templar and later the Knights Hospitaller. And

in La Couvertoirade you’ll find the only castle

built by the Knights Templar in France.

There’s plenty to see and fall in love with as

you wander the narrow cobbled alleyways

lined with ancient houses. The atmospheric

14th century church of Saint Christophe

is reached by steps cut into the rock. The

14th century Windmill of Le Rédounel is the

only restored windmill in Aveyron, from its

hilly position you have fabulous views over

the village. The wonderfully well preserved

Templar castle was built at the end of the 12th

century and last updated in the 15th century.

It sit atop a rocky spur, dominating the town

with its imposing high walls.

44 | The Good Life France


© TripUSAFrance

“It’s so extraordinary that when you walk

around the medieval ramparts, you know that

these walls are original. It’s easy to imagine

that the Knights Templar and generations of

people since have walked here and looked out

at the astonishing views for hundreds of years”

says Julia Girard-Gervois of TripUSAFrance.

“It never ceases to amaze me just how

absolutely gorgeous this village is with its

cobbled streets, beautiful grey stone houses

and flowers and vines everywhere. It’s been

likened to a miniature Carcassonne and it

really is incredibly pretty.”

Just an hour’s drive from the city of

Montpellier and close to the beautiful village

of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, La Couvertoirade

has an epic history. “This is no museum town

though” says Julia “it’s brimming with history

and vibrant with artisans, potters, wool

spinners and more. It’s not hard to imagine it

how it was in the days of the Templars. There’s

even a communal bread oven at the windmill

which has been restored and once a week you

can taste bread and other local specialities.”

This little village certainly lives up to its Plus

Beaux Village award…

The Good Life France | 45


The Knights Templar

The Knights Templar was a military

organisation of devout Christians founded

in 1118. They originally formed with the

aim of protecting pilgrims journeying

to the Holy Land and in 1129, they were

endorsed by Bernard of Clairvaux, a

prominent French abbot who became

a saint, Ten years later Pope Innocent II

© TripUSAFrance gave the Templars special rights including

exemption from paying taxes and only

answering to the authority of the Pope.

Members swore an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Templars became a

wealthy and influential group with a network of banks which lent money to royal families

and the aristocracy. They owned a sizeable fleet of ships and land, built numerous castles

and became a powerful army. Almost 200 years after they began, the Templars were

dissolved by Pope Clement V and some of their assets were passed to the Hospitalier

Knights. Mystery surrounds the history of the Templars and continues to fascinate to

this day. In the 18th century the Freemasons revived some of their symbols, rituals and

traditions. Some believe that the Templars are still in existence and they were a key part

of Dan Brown’s popular book The Da Vinci Code…

https://tripusafrance.com/

46 | The Good Life France


3 Must-sees in Aveyron

Aveyron is a land that echoes with the past. Every densely wooded gorge and valley, every

ancient bastide town and every winding road seems to whisper of the footsteps of pilgrims

making their way south, of Romans and rebellious Gauls or of Knights Templars, thundering

across the plateaux. It’s a place where you’ll find picture-postcard-pretty medieval villages,

historic towns, rolling valleys and vast canyons where rivers roam and forests reach to the

sky. Here you’ll find authentic markets, ancient churches clinging to rocky cliffs and divine

cathedrals with soaring towers. There are ancient castles and museums galore, it’s a land that’s

rich in natural beauty, as well as cultural and spiritual. We picked just 3 of the many must-sees

in Aveyron:

Conques This is a village with an inescapably

spiritual feel, with its towering masterclass in

Romanesque engineering and architecture

(the Abbey of St. Foy) and the very tangible

memory of the weary feet of pilgrims, shuffling

along the well-worn streets. The village has

a genuine sense of hushed reverence with

its medieval walls, slate roof tops, forgotten

gates, time worn 11th century fountains,

narrow, cobbled streets and views that

leave you in stunned and silent awe and

contemplation. Read more about Conques

Belcastel

Conques

Belcastel The village is well deserving of

its “plus beaux villages de France” status

because, yet again, here is a place in the

Aveyron that is shockingly beautiful, with the

gentle tumble of water from the River Aveyron

in the background and its steep, cobbled

streets leading up to the castle. If you’ve got

the time, have lunch at the Vieux Pont (a

Michelin star restaurant in the village) and

then walk off your indulgences with the climb

(and it really is a climb) up to the castle.

Rodez

Rodez which is certified as a “grand site Midi

Pyrénées and “pays d’art et d’histoire” is a

city which, like so many in France really seems

to enjoy mixing the old and the new whether

that’s in terms of art, architecture, gastronomy

or culture. A small city which clings to the

last of the mountains of the Massif Central

and dozes quietly 600 metres above sea

level. It was originally two cities and is ever so

slightly disjointed, with two city squares and a

heady combination of gothic and renaissance

architecture, hand in hand with the ultramodern

Musée Soulages. Read more about

Belcastel and Rodez.

The Good Life France | 47


UNESCO spotlight:

Avignon, Provence

Aerial view of Avignon ©ProductAir

48 | The Good Life France


The Good Life France | 49


For many, the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Avignon in Provence is

the well-known French children’s song about dancing on a bridge in the city:

“sur le pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse, l’on y danse”. But did you know that the 12th

century bridge is UNESCO listed? And it’s not the only UNESCO-listed site in this

medieval city…

The UNESCO-listed sites of Avignon

Palais des Papes and the

Place du Palais

From 1309 to 1377 Avignon was the seat of

seven successive Catholic Popes beginning

with Clement V, a Frenchman. Unrest in

Rome and politics played a part in the

decision to move papal power to Provence.

Of course the Popes had to have somewhere

suitable to live. The monumental Palais des

Papes, the Popes’ Palace, was built between

1335 to 1352 and over the years there were

more modifications. Jean Froissart, a 14th

century chronicler and writer who visited

Avignon, described it as “the most beautiful

and strongest house in the world” and it

housed Europe’s largest library at the time. It

wasn’t cheap to build, costing 400,000 Livres

(the French currency at the time), six times

what Pope Clement VI spent when he bought

the city of Avignon from Johanna, Countess

of Provence, in 1348 – the city was only

reclaimed by France in 1793.

Set in the immense Place du Palais, the palace

is as big as five cathedrals with a whopping

15,000 m² of floor space (three times the size

of the White House in Washington DC). It is

the biggest Gothic palace in the world.

When the Papal court was moved back to

Rome, dissident cardinals in Avignon “elected”

50 | The Good Life France


two more Popes to reign in France, it split

the church for 39 years, but in the end Rome

was the victor. The Popes Palace in Avignon

became a residence for visiting dignitaries

and fell into disrepair. During the French

Revolution it became a prison and then

was turned into a barracks for Napoleon’s

soldiers. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that

the magnificence of the building was once

again recognised and it became a public

museum in 1906.

Twenty-five rooms in the palace are open

to visitors including the former Indulgence

Window where the Pope gave blessings to

the crowds below, the grand formal rooms

which held banquets and ceremonies,

the Treasury, the private chapels and

apartments with priceless frescoes.

Petit Palais

The palace is surrounded by other

monuments including the former residence

of Bishops, known as the Petit Palais. It’s not

actually that petit and covers an impressive

3000 m² with two inner courtyards. It was

rebuilt in the 15th century on the site of a

former palace built to house Archbishop

Julien de la Rovère who later became Pope

Jules II. It’s now a museum with an extensive

collection of artworks of the Middle Ages

and the Renaissance including works by

Botticelli and Carpaccio.

Notre-Dame des Doms

Cathedral

Next to the Palais des Papes is the

Cathedral of Notre Dame des Doms,

which was built in 1150 in the Provençal

Romanesque style and predates the Papal

complex. Gothic style chapels were added

between the 14th and 17th centuries. Atop

the cathedral’s bell tower, a 20-foot gilded

statue of the Virgin Mary presides over the

surroundings.

©F Olliver

© Empreintes Dailleur

The Good Life France | 51


Rocher des Doms Gardens

A short walk from the cathedral you’ll find

the Rocher des Doms park. From its peak you

have panoramic views of the Rhone river. It’s

a beautiful park, centred around a pond which

is home to swans and other waterfowl, and

offers a green refuge from the summer heat to

tourists and locals alike.

Clos de la Vigne

Within the Rocher des Doms park the Clos de

la Vigne is the only AOC intramural vineyard

in France on a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The small parcel of vines features 12 grape

varieties for red and white wines. Grapes

are harvested by hand, and in 2021 the first

bottles of matured wine were auctioned

for charity. The vineyard overlooks the river

Rhone and the famous Saint-Bénézet bridge,

the town’s emblem and yet another UNESCO

listed monument in Avignon…

© Sylvie Villeger

https://www.ophorus.com/

52 | The Good Life France


© Jill Converyr

Saint-Bénézet bridge – the

Pont d’Avignon

The building of the bridge of Avignon was

begun in 1175 after a 10 year-old shepherd

from the Ardèche named Bénézet (which

means ‘Little Benoit’) claimed to have been

told by God to build a bridge along the

waterfront in Avignon. Legend has it that, after

walking to Avignon, accompanied by an angel

disguised as a pilgrim, he was challenged by

the Bishop’s provost to carry an impossibly

large block of stone to the water’s edge. It

was so large, it was said that thirty strong men

couldn’t move it. The tale goes that aided

by angels bathed in golden light, he hoisted

the stone onto his shoulder and laid it as the

foundation stone for the Bridge. Overcome

by this miraculous feat, benefactors supplied

sufficient funds. It took ten years to complete

the bridge. Bénézet’s feat was declared a

miracle, though he died without seeing it

completed, he died in 1184. Pilgrims flocked

to see the bridge whose fame spread far and

wide, and the shepherd became the patron

saint of bridge builders.

Originally almost a kilometre long, the bridge

had 22 arches. It was built at a point of the

river where the force of water was so strong,

even Roman engineers were deterred from

building there. Today, only four arches remain,

the bridge having been poor maintained,

reconstructed several times and finally swept

away by floods, it collapsed in the 17th century

and it’s said that King Louis XIV was one of the

last people to walk across it.

On the bridge the little stone Chapel of Saint-

Bénézet where the saint was originally buried,

was rebuilt in 1414 after the “War of the

Catalonians”. The Saint’s remains are now in

the nearby 14th century Gothic church of Saint-

Didier, built during the time of the Popes in Avignon.

The ramparts of Avignon

The old city of Avignon is encircled by

ramparts. They are 4.3km long and were

The Good Life France | 53


https://yourprivateprovence.com/

https://yourprivatechauffeurprovence.com/private-chauffeur/

54 | The Good Life France


uilt to protect the city from the assaults

by gangs of marauding mercenaries. Work

began in 1355 during the Papacy of Pope

Innocent VI and were completed in 1370

under the reign of Pope Urban V. The

entrance of the Avignon Bridge provides

access onto the ramparts, and to the Rocher

des Doms Gardens. The views over the city

and the Rhône River are breath-taking.

“Very few medieval cities in Provence have

intact ramparts today because they were

sometimes demolished by kings to weaken

the power of the local community for

instance Louis XIV ordered the demolition of

Orange’s fortifications in 1660, which makes

Avignon’s ramparts all the more special. And

sometimes they were just taken by the locals

to use for building materials.” says Emily

Durand of Your Private Provence.

But don’t go thinking Avignon is a museum

town – it’s a vibrant city with lots of

beautiful squares where you can sit and

watch the world go by at superb bars

and restaurants. There are more than a

dozen museums and year-round festivals.

You’ll find fabulous markets (don’t miss

Les Halles), and it’s the perfect place to

wander with picturesque streets lined with

magnificent architectural gems.

Recommended tour:

Heritage sites and

lavender tour

Where to eat out in

Avignon as recommended

by the locals

Top things to do in Avignon

yourprivateprovence.com/escortedtravel-perks/provence-heritage-sites-tour

thegoodlifefrance.com/10-greatrestaurants-and-bars-in-avignonprovence/

thegoodlifefrance.com/top-ten-things-tosee-in-avignon/

Palais of the Papes when it was used as a barracks

Inside Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes

The Good Life France | 55


56 | The Good Life France


Lost Monuments

of Paris

Sue Aran explores the history of two of Paris’s lost palaces…

Paris is a city of contrasts – light and dark, old and new, past and present. Erased from the

memories of most Parisians, however, are two buildings: the Palais du Trocadéro and the Palais

Bardo. These ephemeral constructions of grandeur were richly imagined for the Paris World

Fairs Expositions Universelle. Paris hosted seven world fairs beginning in 1855 and ending in

1937. Visitors flocked from around the world and in 1900, Paris broke records with more than 50

million visitors and 83,000 exhibitors at that year’s Fair.

Palais du Trocadéro

The Palais du Trocadéro was built

for the Exposition Universelle of

1878 by architect Gabriel Davioud.

He was a colleague of Georges-

Eugène “Baron” Haussmann, the

urban planner who was responsible

for the spectacular renovation of

Paris during the reign of Napoléon

III in the mid-19th century. Davioud

designed most of the Parisian

street furniture we see today,

including the benches, lamp-posts,

signposts, fences, balustrades,

kiosks, pavilions, bandstands,

monuments and fountains, the

most recognizable of which is the landmark

fountain at Place Saint-Michel.

The Palais du Trocadéro was built on the hill

of Chaillot, across the Seine from the Eiffel

Tower in the 16th arrondissement. The Palais

was named in honour of the 1823 Battle

of Trocadéro in which the fortified Isla del

Trocadero in Spain was captured by French

forces under the leadership of the Duc

d’Angoulême, the son of Charles X. Davioud

conceived the elaborate palace as a pastiche

of Byzantine and Moorish architecture where

meetings of international organizations

could be held during the fair. There was a

large concert hall flanked by two 76-meter

(249-foot) towers. The hall contained a large

Palais de ChaillotPalais du Trocadero, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, the first

large organ to be installed in a concert hall

in France. It is still in use at the Auditorium

Maurice Ravel in Lyon. The building proved

unpopular, but the cost expended in its

construction delayed its replacement for

nearly 50 years, and the central building was

finally demolished in 1937.

It was replaced by the Palais de Chaillot

for the International Exhibition of Arts and

Techniques held in 1937. The wings of the

Palais du Trocadéro were reused for the

Chaillot building. It’s now home to four cultural

institutions: the City of Architecture and

Heritage, the National Maritime Museum, the

The Good Life France | 57


Musée de l'Homme and Chaillot – National

Dance Theater. Often left out of tourist

itineraries, the Palais de Chaillot is worth

visiting for the magnificent architecture as well

as the extraordinary museums. Plus there is a

wonderful view over the Eiffel Tower and the

Champs du de Mars from the Esplanade des

Libertés et des Droits de l'Homme, between

the two wings. And there are several places

to eat including the Café de l'Homme, at the

back of the back of the Musée de l'Homme,

one of the favourite spots for Parisians in

summer with a terrace overlooking the tower

opened in 2020.

The space between the palais and the Seine

is set with gardens, designed by Jean-Charles

Alphand, and an array of fountains. Within

its gardens, two large animal statues stood

– a rhinoceros and an elephant, which were

removed and stored during the demolition of

the old palace, and have been located next to

the entrance of the Musée d’Orsay since 1986.

Saint-Michel Fountain

https://frenchcountryadventures.com/

58 | The Good Life France


Clockwise: Palais du Bardo, vintage postcard, Public Domain

Head of the Statue of Liberty on display in Paris at the World Fair 1878 Source

Album de la Statue de la Liberté, Public Domain

Aerial view of the Exposition Universelle of 1878, public domain

The head of the Statue of Liberty was also

showcased in the garden until it was packed

in one of 214 wooden crates for shipment to

the United States. The Statue of Liberty was

designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste

Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. It was

given by the people of France to the United

States and dedicated in situ in 1886. There are

more than 100 replicas of the iconic statue

including more than 30 in France!

Palais du Bardo

The Palais du Bardo, built for the Exposition

Universelle of 1867 in the 14th arrondissement

at Parc Montsouris, was designed by the

French architect, Alfred Chapon. The original

Bardo Palace was the 13th-century royal

residence of the Hafsid family, located in

the suburbs of Tunis. It was one of the most

important museums of the Mediterranean

basin, tracing the history of Tunisia over

several millennia. Chapon carefully recreated

a reduced-scale replica of the Bardo Palace

in Tunisia in pure Moorish style. Six statues of

lions flanked the staircase of honor that led to

a brilliantly green-tiled, colonnaded courtyard

evoking A Thousand and One Nights. The Bey

of Tunis rested here during his visits to the expo

in a private bed chamber with an adjoining

harem room.

After the expo, the City of Paris bought

the Palais and commissioned a redesign

by Gabriel Davioud. It accommodated

housing for the staff of the astronomical

and meteorological Observatoire de Paris,

installed on its premises in 1876. In 1974 the

building had deteriorated to such an extent

that its occupants were evacuated. A fire

destroyed it completely in 1991.

Most buildings of the Expositions Universelle

were meant to be temporary and only a few

vestiges remain, most famously the Eiffel Tower

(1889), the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and

the Alexandre III Bridge (1900), the Palais de la

Porte Dorée (1931) and the Palais de Chaillot

and Palais de Tokyo (1937). But you’ll find

drawings, paintings and maps of all the buildings

created at the Musée Carnavalet museum.

Sue Aran lives in the Gers department of

southwest France where she runs French Country

Adventures which provides private, personallyguided,

small-group food & wine adventures into

Gascony, the Pays Basque, Tarn and beyond…

The Good Life France | 59


60 | The Good Life France Evian Funicular: © P.Leroy.Semaphor


Spotlight on: EVIAN

MAP

The spa town of Evian-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Haute-Savoie has played

host to a glittering list of guests spanning royalty, celebrities and notables over the course

of two centuries. In fact, it was so popular that even Frankenstein holidayed here…

Left: © Evian Ville Top right: Palais Lumiere © Evian Ville Middle right: Lausanne © Hotel R Evian Resort Bottom: Wine slopes Lausanne © Hotel R Evian Resort

The Good Life France | 61


The history of Evian

The curative virtues of the water in Evian were

first discovered in the late eighteenth century

by a French aristocrat. The Marquis de Lessert,

whilst out walking in the town in 1789, took a

drink from a natural spring. He was much taken

with it pronouncing it to be ‘easy to drink’. It

started a trend and an enterprising local started

to sell bottles of it. People were wowed by the

water’s qualities. If it was good enough to drink,

it was certainly good enough to bathe in. The

first “Hydropathetic Establishment” (thermal

spa) opened in 1826. Hotels, restaurants, and a

casino followed, keen to cash in on the visitors

who flocked to the town.

What to see in Evian

From the hotel it’s a downhill stroll and

twenty minute uphill cardio-vascularly

challenging hike back to the town of Evianles

Bains. It’s a surprisingly culturally rich town

with a medieval hospital and a thirteenth

century church. The Belle Epoque stye is

obvious with a lake front 1878-built casino

and a theatre with a neo-classical façade

which was built in 1885, the 1900-built Palais

Lumiere, and the 1826-built Cachat Pump

Room (which is being restored). The funicular

railway was completed in 1907. At the Cachat

Source, Sainte Catherine’s Fountain, built in

1903, the locals fill up their bottles with free,

magnesium-rich, sand-bank filtered water.

A French count fleeing from the French

Revolution, suffering from gallstones was said

to be cured by drinking the water from this

source daily. It flows year round at a constant

temperature of 11.6°C.

Tranquil.

Sans gaz.

62 | The Good Life France


Lac Leman

Lac Leman (Lake Geneva in English) is the

largest lake in western Europe. It gets its name

from either the Greek for ‘lake’s port’ or the

Celtic word ‘limos’, referring to the local fertile

mud. It’s just a 30-minute ferry crossing from

Evian to Lausanne from where you can easily

visit the Swiss Riviera and the steep-sided

UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyards on the

shores of the lake. If you do, stop for a tasting

of the local Chasselas wines. The Domaine

Bovard in Cully is one of the best, their Buxus

Sauvignon Blanc is superb. In the 12 th century,

Cistercian monks created miles of walls and

terraces using French stones across the lake to

support the terraces. So, there are, arguably,

two French sides of Lake Geneva. The monks

also planted the original vine rootstock.

Lunch at Tout un Monde Restaurant in Lavaux

and you’ll enjoy a view down most of the 104

mile perimeter, croissant-shaped, 25-mile long

Evian Resort golf course © Hotel R Evian Resort

by 11-mile wide lake which is fed by forty-two

rivers. From the terrace you see Evian, the

Bernese Alps, Mont Pelerin, the Savoie and

Valais mountains, Montreux and Vevey. While

digesting your char, féra, perch fillets and lake

shrimps you can watch the yachts and swanky

boats as you relish the fabulous view.

Frankenstein connection

Everyone sleeps well at the Hotel Royal.

All except Mrs Frankenstein. She and her

husband honeymooned there, before she was

strangled. In Mary Shelley’s dark tale, Victor

Frankenstein, the creator of the monster,

agrees to create a mate for him. Destroying it

before completion, the monster vows ‘I will be

with you on your wedding night.’ On the day

Victor married Elisabeth, the monster breaks

into the bridal suite at the Hotel Royal and

strangles the new bride.

The Good Life France | 63


https://www.tv5mondeplus.com/?xtor=CS5-70-%5BEUR_Trafic%5D-%5Bthegoodlife_

france%5D-%5B300x250%5D-

https://www.aveyron.tours/

64 | The Good Life France


The 467-acre 150 room hotel opened in 1909

in honour of King Edward VII who died before

he could schmooze there and blag some luxury.

The hotel was allowed to keep its royal status.

The Jean-Albert Hebrard-designed “white

steam ship anchored in the hills” sits above Lac

Leman. One of the first spa palace hotels, the

hotel has always been a magnet for the rich

and famous. The spa’s relaxation lounge is the

Aga Khan III’s old apartment. They still have

the original chandelier in storage. The Royal

was the holiday choice for sultans, maharajahs,

shahs, and other royalty as well as celebrities

and statesmen. Just 45 minutes from Les

Portes du Soleil, Europe’s largest ski area, it

hosted the 2003 G8 summit.

Frankenstein’s monster would never have

made a spa therapist. But he could have been

mistaken for a customer. Or health tourist.

He had the gait of one. Frankenstein walked

like he had a metabolic disorder or a urinary

ailment. Or maybe he was just getting used to

the very scanty, hardly-there and rather tight

briefs the spa staff make you wear.

By Kevin Pllley and Janine Marsh

Website: Evian Tourist Office

tourism.evian-tourisme.com

Top: © Evian Ville

Bottom: Lake © P.Leroy.Semaphor

The Good Life France | 65


Vercors:

Active by

Nature

66 | The Good Life France


AMY McPHERSON

finds beauty and adventure in unspoiled territory

Before I went, I had no idea where Vercors

was, but I did know it was famous for its

outdoor activities. A two hour car journey

from Lyon Airport brought me to a small

range of pre-Alps mountains that straddles

the departments of Isère and Drome in southeastern

France. As we turned off the dusty

highway into the valley, I was greeted by a

heavenly view. The hills were a crisp lime

green and the sky a brilliant blue. Vercors

makes a great first impression.

I came here seeking an adventure. Vercors, a

utopia for outdoors enthusiast, was ready to

indulge me.

Hiking in Hauts Plateaux

Nature Reserve

One of the great things about hiking is that all

you need is a good solid pair of shoes. It is so

easy to simply walk into nature and feel miles

away from civilisation. Being a mountainous

region, Vercors has plenty of hiking options

on offer.

In the Hauts Plateaux Nature Reserve, the

largest land-based metropolitan reserve in

France, there are no roads or houses, apart

from refuge huts providing shelter for hikers.

The 17,000 hectares of wild land with its

forests of oaks, beeches, firs, spruce, pines

is home to much wildlife including marmots,

black grouse, Alpine ibex, vultures and

golden eagles.

Paths that crisscross the reserve are rocky with

limestone which has been sculpted by water

and weather, covered with pine needles and

tree roots, lined with mountain flora. The moist

undergrowth of the forest is full of ferns, fungi

and fabulous fauna. I spotted Lady’s Slipper

orchids, Edelweiss, Gentians, as well as the

rare scabiosa columbaria ‘Vercors’ in various

shades of purple. Other than the crunch of

my footsteps, the only other sounds were the

whistle of the wind and the rustle of leaves. So

quiet, not even the birds stirred. The air was

fresh, the surrounding nature energising, and

the sound of silence meditating.

Gentle cycling along

ViaVercors

No respectable ‘outdoor destination’ would

be without the offer of some great cycling.

The Good Life France | 67


Grotte de Choranche in the heart of Vercors, is full of mysterious beauty

Here in Vercors, while the lycra-wearers rule the

spectacular balcony roads that are dramatically

carved onto the rock face with breath-taking

views of gorges beyond, cliffs above and alpine

meadows below, there is an alternative leisure

option to exploring on two wheels.

‘Don’t worry’ guide Olivier from Velectrip,

which specialises in nature sports, assured

a group of us keen to explore the area. ‘We

don’t have to wear lycra!’

ViaVercors is a network of designated cycling

routes that cuts through the valley floors

connecting all the main towns in Vercors. The

mostly flat routes took us from farmland to

villages, along running streams and quiet

back roads.

A bike tour is a great way to explore the

many villages of Vercors and visit the local

craftspeople and farmers. Other than forest

and nature, Vercors is also well known for

its agriculture. We stopped at the Ferme du

Pic Saint Michel, where Marion and Yannick

Rochas have 60 chamois alpine breed goats.

After much petting and cooing the goats who

seemed more than happy at the attention, we

sampled goats cheese of different stages of

maturity direct from the farmer’s hands.

‘Many people say they don’t like goats cheese,’

Olivier said as he stuffed a cube of the one

week old cheese into his mouth. ‘That’s because

they’ve never really tried it directly from the farm.

‘You cannot get this from the supermarkets.’

Of course, a day on the bike also means guiltfree

sampling of great regional cuisine from

many of the cafés and restaurants conveniently

en route. They’re all listed in the ViaVercors

map which you can get from the tourist office,

or you can book a guided tour.

The best part? I was pedalling an e-bike,

which are readily available for hire at local

bike shops. It meant the ride was relaxing and

I could take it easy and enjoy the views.

Trying out the sport of

biathlon

Biathlon is a sport that requires the agility of

a cross country skier and the sharp aim of a

sniper. It was never on my radar as a holiday

activity. Yet, when you find yourself among

champions as I did unexpectedly it seemed a

shame not to give it a go.

68 | The Good Life France


‘Actually, many of the French Nordic sport

champions comes from Vercors’ said Loïs

Habert. He and his wife Marie Dorin, both

ex-national biathletes, and cross-country

skier Robin Duvillard manage ZeCamp

Hotel in Corrençon-en-Vercors, which offers

a selection of sports and wellness holiday

activity options. It is the perfect place to try

biathlon.

‘Shooting a rifle is all about the breathing,’

Loïs said just before he pulled the trigger and

downed one of the targets. I tried to replicate,

concentrating with all my energy and

managing to hit three out of five targets.

For the ski part of the biathlon, it being

summer we ‘ski’d’ on roller skis. It’s not that

easy, and not like roller skating, and though I’d

seen school groups make it look easy as they

rolled up and down the streets of Villard-de-

Lans, the town where I was based, I retreated

to the hotel for a session of yoga.

On top of the world in

Vercors

All around Vercors, the sight of silvery

mountain peaks like limestone fingers reaching

to the sky is never far away. If you want to get

closer to them then a spot of rock climbing is

a popular pastime here. I couldn’t resist and

joined mountain guide Jehan-Roland Guillot.

As he strapped ropes and hooks onto each of

us in our intrepid group of climbers he assured

us we would be on top of the world soon. I

pulled on a helmet and looked up. The sun was

streaking through the vertical silhouette of the

so-called Three Maidens – Les Trois Pucelles,

a set of limestone formation above the valley

of Grenoble 1456 meters above sea level. It

looked daunting. It looked impossible.

‘Don’t worry, winked Jean-Roland ‘I’m good

with beginners!’

Two hours later, we had hiked past the 90-metre

springboard used during the 1968 Winter

Olympic Games at Grenoble, picked our way

through patches of coniferous trees, abseiled

down a rock wall like James Bond, climbed the

jagged edges of the cliffs to the top, and finally

reached the gap between the rocks. A rope,

stretched tight between the peaks of the rocks,

was our way across. Tentatively I hooked my

clips onto the rope, inched towards the edge. It

was a steep drop to the ground, I gulped.

‘Trust the rope, trust yourself, there is nothing to

be afraid of. Just let go’ encouraged Jehan.

In my line of sight, the city of Grenoble spread

before like walnut butter, covering the basin

and towards the edges of the mountains. It was

a beautifully clear day and the peak of Mount

Blanc was just visible in the distance. Adrenaline

kicked in. It felt like I was at the top of the world.

I breathed it all in and let go.

For nature, beauty, adventure and sheer joie

de vivre – Vercors is hard to beat.

For more information:

inspiration-vercors.com

isere-tourisme.com

The Good Life France | 69


Yvoire

Church of Saint Pancrace

70 | The Good Life France


, Haute-Savoie

Yvoire, in Haute-Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-

Alpes region, was founded in 1306 when

Amédée V, Count of Savoy began fortifying

the former fishing village. It’s officially one

of the most beautiful villages in France (Plus

Beaux Villages de France). Sitting of the

shores of the grand Lake Geneva, known

as Lac Leman in French, it’s nicknamed the

“pearl of Lake Geneva.” The colourful

streets are beautifully floral with geraniums

and wisteria have won it numerous and

prestigious distinctions and the Garden of

the Five Senses featuring 1500 varieties

of plants makes for a sensory walk

accompanied by bird song and the sound of

a tinkling stream.

The Good Life France | 71


72 | The Good Life France


14th century Chateau d’Yvoire

Artists have long flocked to the village and

photographer Jerome Palacios from Mougins

in the south of France loves to capture it’s

medieval beauty. His partner Manuella

Houssais says“ Yvoire is full of history with

its 14th century castle, ramparts, fortified

gates and beautiful medieval houses. Strolling

through the streets, discovering the labyrinth

of the Jardin des Cinq Sens which offers

a green escape in the heart of the village,

browsing the quaint shops and sampling the

delicious restaurants are some of the many

pleasures to be found here…”

In the heart of the village, be sure to visit the

Jardin des Cinq Sens. Classified as a Remarkable

Garden by the Ministry of Culture, this little

paradise of greenery invites you to a poetic

discovery of plants thanks to your 5 senses.

See more of France on Jerome’s Instagram

Instagram.com/jeromepalcios

Photographs © Jerome Palacios

The Good Life France | 73


10

fabulous

things to do

in Provence

In an area famous for so many things, like beautiful lavender fields, charming hilltop

villages, and delicious food, it’s hard to pick favourites. We asked local author Keith van

Sickle for his top ten Provence things to do…

Les Carrières des Lumières, Baux-de-Provence

Magic in a Mountain

Imagine this: you enter a giant cavern with

sheer, 30-foot-high walls. Huge images start

to appear on one wall, then another, then on

the floor. You realize that they are paintings by

a great artist like van Gogh or Cézanne. The

images pulse and swirl, full of life and color,

their movements choreographed to beautiful

music. This is the Carrières de Lumières, the

world’s most magical sound and light show,

and a different artist is featured each year. It’s

so popular that copies are popping up all over

the world, but none matches the original. You

really do have to see it to believe it!

Picnic in the Sky

The Cedar Forest sits far above the Luberon

Valley, higher even than the nearby hilltop

village of Bonnieux. As you take the winding

road up to the forest, there’s a secret spot off

to the side

where you

can picnic

under a tree

and enjoy an

unparalleled

view across

the valley.

74 | The Good Life France


Les Calanques, Peter Jones

Cassis, Nick Meersman

France’s Fjords

East of Marseille, tall cliffs plunge down to the sea, with craggy inlets here and there. These

calanques are like mini fjords, the grey stone contrasting with the deep blue waters of the

Mediterranean where you see sailboats anchored, their passengers sunning on tiny beaches.

If you’re feeling energetic you can hike to the calanques, but I recommend taking one of the

regular boat rides that depart from the pretty little port town of Cassis, then you can see the

calanques in two hours or less. Be sure to try some seafood at one of the restaurants along

Cassis’s waterfront.

Walk Through

a Rainbow

A century ago, ochre was

mined in Roussillon and

used as pigment in paint.

The ochre quarries are

abandoned now but there’s

a well-marked walking trail

through them. Follow it

and admire the brilliantlycoloured

hillsides—you’ll

see red, purple, orange,

and yellow. The town of

Roussillon is a nice place to

enjoy lunch or coffee, and

all the buildings are painted

in various ochre shades.

Nearby and less crowded is

the Colorado Provençal, with

its own abandoned ochre

quarries that are more rustic

than Roussillon’s but equally

beautiful.

Roussillon

The Good Life France | 75


Les Baux-de-Provence

Bike to Hell and Back

The Alpilles Mountains are full of biking

routes with fabulous views, that range from

easy to moderately difficult. Our favourite

ride is to puff our way from St-Rémy up to

the Val d’Enfer (Hell Valley.) It’s full of rugged

boulders and rocky outcroppings and there’s

a spot where you can look straight across

to the mountaintop fortress of Les Bauxde-Provence.

The best part of the ride is

coasting back!

Hike to the Top of

the World

La Caume is one of the highest points of the

Alpilles Mountains and is surprisingly easy

to reach on foot. Rather than starting at the

bottom, you can drive to a big parking lot

that’s part of the way up and join the trail

there. It’s paved and well-marked and not

too steep, and the view from La Caume is

terrific—to the north you can see the Rhône

Valley and to the south the view goes all the

way to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Outdoor Markets

One of the glories of Provence is its outdoor

markets, full of wonderful sights, smells, and

tastes. You can sample cheeses, drool over

roast chickens, and chat with the olive vendor,

find perfect souvenirs, then relax in a café.

You can’t visit Provence without going to its

markets – every town and village has its own.

My favorite, of course, is St-Rémy’s.

market Provence

76 | The Good Life France


Pont du Gard

The Stunning Roman Aqueduct

The Pont du Gard was built over 2,000 years ago, to bring water to the city of Nîmes. It is so

big that Roman engineers had to build it on three levels, each with its own set of arches. The

aqueduct crosses over the Gard River and is as tall as the top of the Statue of Liberty’s torch!

For extra fun you can rent a kayak and float under it.

Birth of a River

Imagine that you

are walking on a

path next to a river,

going upstream.

You look up and

see that you are

coming to a high

cliff. You wonder

how the river gets

past it – maybe it

goes around? Then

you get to the cliff

Fontaine de Vaucluse

and you realize the

river is coming out of the ground, just bursting

forth. You’re at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, one of

the largest springs in the world, and so deep

that even Jacques Cousteau couldn’t reach

the bottom.

A River of Sheep

Every year, thousands of sheep march

through the streets of St-Rémy,

accompanied by musicians, shepherds,

sheepdogs, and the occasional goat. It’s

like a river of sheep flowing through town!

Afterwards there are sheepdog trials. This is

a fun event for the whole family. It’s all part

of the annual transhumance festival that

commemorates the days when sheep used

to walk to higher pastures to escape the

summer heat.

Keith and Val Van Sickle live part of the year in

St-Rémy-de-Provence and have traveled widely

throughout the region. Keith is the author of An

Insider’s Guide to Provence (read our review).

The Good Life France | 77


What’s

New?

Roundup of openings and major events

In 2021:

Paris saw the opening of the historic Hôtel

de la Marine, the spectacular Bourse de

Commerce | Collection Pinault and the rebirth

of La Samaritaine Department Store.

A brand new modern art museum housed in

the former stables of the 12th century Royal

Abbey of Fontevraud in the Loire was opened.

It showcases the private collection (some

900 objects from paintings to sculptures and

antiques) of Martine and Léon Cligman.

In the south of France, the long awaited Frank

Gehry tower, the crown jewel of the LUMA

Foundation in Arles was completed. And in

Narbonne, the Musée Narbo Via designed

by Norman Foster, who also designed the

world famous Millau Viaduct, opened in May.

Featuring a wall of 760 antique stones, the

museum brings together over 1,000 antiquities

aimed to show the Narbonne’s Roman past

when it was known as Narbo Martius.

78 | The Good Life France


© Bassin de Lumieres, Bordeaux -5

In 2022:

February 2022 – January 2023:

In Bordeaux, the Bassins de Lumières,

the largest digital art centre in the world,

house in 4 huge basins of the former WWII

submarine base will feature “Venice and its

Masters,” and another show dedicated to

Spanish painter Sorolla.

bassins-lumieres.com

Plage Dieppe Plage Dieppe © B. Collier

12 March – 19 August: 2022 marks the

80th anniversary of the Raid, and with it

the occasion to pay tribute to the Canadian

soldiers who fought there, many of whom

gave their lives fighting for freedom. The

ceremonies, commemorations and festivities

will take on an international dimension and will

feature parades, festivals, military displays,

exhibitions and fireworks throughout the year.

junobeach.org

The Good Life France | 79


23 April – 1 May: International Kite Festival, Berck, Pas-de-Calais. cerf-volant-berck.com

6 April – 25 July: The Louvre Lens, the first regional annex of the Louvre Museum in Paris,

will mark its 10th anniversary with two major exhibits: Rome from April 6 to July 25, 2022,

and Hieroglyphics from September 28, 2022 to January 16, 2023. Lens, which is in Northern

France, is easily accessible from Paris in a little over 1 hour by high-speed train.

louvrelens.fr

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80 | The Good Life France


Cite Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin ©AAABAgence d'Architecture Anthony Béchu

6 May: Burgundy’s beautiful capital city,

Dijon, will open the Cite Internationale de

la Gastronomie et du Vin on the site of the

former historic Hotel-Dieu breathing new

life into 15th and 18th century buildings and

creating new spaces. The new landmark

destination, a ten-year project, The

International City of Gastronomy & Wine is

at the starting point of the region’s famous

Wine Route which runs from Dijon to Macon

via Beaune. Among the highlights will be a

gastronomy and wine cultural and training

centre, new shops and restaurants, cookery

classes and wine tasting sessions, a fourstar

hotel and a 13-screen cinema complex.

citedelagastronomie-dijon.fr

https://www.rhonewineholidays.com/

The Good Life France | 81


26 May – 16 October: Amiens Hortillonnages Arts and Gardens Festival takes place on a

network of medieval waterways and islands in the shadow of the city’s great Gothic Cathedral.

artetjardins-hdf.com

Grotte Cosquer replica at La Villa Méditerranée ©Kléber Rossillon

Penguin painting replica Grotte Cosquer

June: Marseille sees a major new

opening of a replica of the remarkable

underwater prehistoric cave known as

the Grotte Cosquer. Hosted at La Villa

Méditerranée, an ultra-contemporary

building on the old harbour, it will provide

an immersive and interactive experience

as you discover the original cave’s 500

cave paintings depicting marine animals

like penguins plus seals and what seems

to be jellyfish, and mammals that

roamed in that era. The original cave

was lived in as early as 33,000 years

ago, the actual cave is located in the

mini-fjords between Cassis and Marseille

known as the Calanques, specifically in

Triperie Calanque, near Cape Morgiou.

grotte-cosquer.com

82 | The Good Life France


30 June-3 July: Le Mans Classic returns

after a four-year absence. Expect 600 racing

cars on the track in this classic day and night

race. Plus 8,500 classic cars displayed in the

specially designed enclosures.

lemansclassic.com

1-24 July: Tour de France starting in

Copenhagen, Denmark and finishing in the

Champs-Elysees Paris.

letour.fr

24-31 July: The Woman’s Tour de France

returns after an absence of more than 30

years. Start on the day of the final stage 21 of

the Men’s Tour. 1028km eight-day race will

take in back to back mountain stages as well

as gravel sectors, flat stages and more. Starting

at the Eiffel Tower and ending atop La Planche

des Belles Filles in the Vosges mountains.

letourfemmes.fr

Spring: Fans of Serge Gainsbourg will rejoice

to know that France’s first cultural institution

dedicated to the songwriter Serge Gainsbourg

will open Mason Gainsbourg including a

museum, bookstore and Le Gainsbarre, a

hybrid space that hosts a café during the day

and a piano bar by night.

maisongainsbourg.fr

The ‘Seine à Vélo’ cycle route, launched in

2021, which follows the River Seine from Paris

to Le Havre and Deauville in Normandy, has

been named as one of the best places to

explore in 2022 by National Geographic! The

270-mile Paris-to-the-sea path passes through

some of the region’s most beautiful and famous

sites, including Giverny – home to Claude

Monet’s house and garden, Château-Gaillard

at Les Andelys, Jumièges and picture-perfect

Honfleur. It also goes through Rouen which was

awarded UNESCO gastronomic status in 2021!

laseineavelo.com

Carriage of Le Grand Tour train

In 2023:

Puy du Fou, the award winning, world’s

most incredible theme park, launches the

world’s longest show on ‘Le Grand Tour’, a

6-day spectacular Grand Tour of France on

France’s first private rail company. The train

takes a 4000km journey across France on

an authentic and luxurious Belle Epoque

train taking in some of the greatest sights

including Champagne and Burgundy, Avignon

in Provence, the castles of the Loire Valley,

wonderful Lake Annecy and the Arcachon

Basin. Find out more: legrandtour.com

All information contained here is correct at

the time of publication, but we recommend

you check with the individual venues for

the latest updates, as dates may remain

subject to change and events may need to

be cancelled or postponed in line with the

health situation in France.

The Good Life France | 83


Luxury cruises, CroisiEurope © Gregory Gerault.

Tours de France

We’ve got one thing on our mind – taking a tour or a holiday in fabulous France.

Wandering cobbled streets, cruising on the Mediterranean or

French rivers, discovering gorgeous little villages and historic towns and cities,

visiting memorial sites, indulging in the gastronomic delights or

learning to cook with a chef, visiting the markets, staying in a castle or

a luxury farmhouse in the most beautiful location…

Check out our favourite tours and stays for 2022

84 | The Good Life France


delivering truly unforgettable immersive

historical travel experiences. Every tour is

bespoke and tailored to your needs.

Sophiesgreatwartours.com

Tours for those who love the authentic

Discover the real southern France – from

captivating Carcassonne to magical

Montpellier, or the best of Provence and the

lavender fields, Normandy, Bordeaux and

Dordogne. On these luxury, small group tours

you’ll get to be a temporary local and indulge in

the best gastronomy, discover the beauty and

culture of France... tripusafrance.com

The best cruises of France

CroisiEurope is the number one cruise

company in Europe though they also operate

worldwide. In France they offer superb river,

canal, Mediterranean, regional and themed

cruises. As you’d expect from a French

company, their food and wine is the best –

and it’s inclusive, so once you’re on board,

all you have to do is relax, be pampered, and

enjoy the breath-taking scenery and fabulous

excursions. croisieurope.co.uk

Outstanding Rhône Valley Wine Tours

The Rhône Valley is the ultimate wine lovers

destination. And there’s no better way to

discover this beautiful area of Provence and

its vineyards than with a three day tour with

a local expert guide. This is a unique chance

to experience the real Provence. You’ll meet

local wine makers, visit the grand domaines

and famous estates. And of course, to taste

the very best wines and cuisine to match.

rhonewineholidays.com

Battlefield tours and memorial tourism

Sophie’s Great War Tours is a family-run

specialist tour operator, creating exceptional

WW1 & WW2 battlefield tours across France,

Belgium and the Netherlands. Their guides

are experts in history and hospitality,

Les Braves Monument, Omaha Beach

The Good Life France | 85


Foodie tour of Dordogne

Fabulous Food Tours of Dordogne

Unique and utterly scrumptious gastronomic day tours of Dordogne. You’ll be transported by

2CV through the glorious Dordogne landscape to visit the most amazing foodie destinations

and taste local specialities including truffles, caviar and wine. Visit castles, breath-takingly

pretty villages, vineyards, churches, manors and mills. perigourmet.com

Year round themed and bespoke small

group tours of Provence

Small group tours and customized travelling

to give you memories to last a lifetime.

Discover the best of Provence: Lavender tours,

truffle, grape harvest, and bespoke tours as

well as chauffeur services for day trips or a

lot longer. Emily Durand’s Private Provence

tours are unique, exclusive and truly fabulous.

yourprivateprovence.com

Gascony, the Basque country, Provence

and southern France

Nourish your soul and unleash your spirit of

adventure in Gascony. You’ll experience the

famous food, wine and Armagnac of the

region and discover where to find the best

antique shops and flea markets, the most

beautiful villages and magnificent chateaux.

Lavender fields, Provence

86 | The Good Life France


Vineyard in the Rhône Valley Villefranche-sur-Mer Gascony countryside

From one day to week long tours that are

customised for you. There are also tours of

Provence, southern France and the Basque

country. frenchcountryadventures.com

Day trips and tour packages all over

France, plus brilliant shore excursions

Ophorus Tours are a French family run

business with huge experience of running

small group tours all over France as well as

shore excursions. There is a huge choice

of tours from fun and informative guided

walking city tours to very carefully crafted

multi regional packages, wine tasting, cycling

and more. Their aim is to show you France as

they believe it should be shown – authentic,

colourful and friendly. www.ophorus.com

Spring and autumn small group tours

of Provence

Custom tours of Provence for small groups.

Jackdaw Journeys tours are designed for

those who wish to immerse themselves in

the culture of Provence. Cooking classes,

markets, antiquing, gastronomy and wine – it’s

all about discovering authentic Provence and

the French Riviera. You’ll make memories to

cherish forever. jackdawjourneys.com

Stunning B&B near Bergerac,

Chateau Masburel

With honey-toned stone walls and sage-

green shutters, the 18th Chateau de

Masburel wine domaine and B&B, has a

timeless, unhurried feel to it. It’s a working

winery producing award winning wines. Close

to Bergerac, Saint-Emilion and ten minutes

from the bastide town of Sainte-Foy-la-

Grande on the banks of the River Dordogne

in the Gironde. it’s the perfect base to

explore the area and enjoy a relaxing break.

Chateau-masburel.com

Culture & cookery tours in Provence

Cooking classes with chefs in their homes

where you’ll cook “authentic French dishes,

no frou frou” says host Martine Bertin-

Peterson. You’ll shop at the enchanting

street markets with chefs and dine at the

most scrumptious restaurants in beautiful

towns of Provence on this fully escorted

delicious and cultural trip of a lifetime.

goutetvoyage.com

Cognac no. 22 – luxury farmhouse in

Charente-Maritime

A 19th century traditional farmhouse with

a luxurious pool is in a tranquil village

surrounded by vineyards and fields of summer

sunflowers. Close to the Charente River and

the market towns of Rouillac and Matha, this

gorgeous holiday rental is ideally situated for

trips to the historic towns of Cognac, St Jean

d ‘Angely, Saintes and Angoulême and the

Atlantic Coast beaches. Cognac-no22.com

The Good Life France | 87


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88 | The Good Life France


Cruising the Rhône

France is criss-crossed by a network of 100 canals and rivers totalling thousands of miles.

David Jefferson’s book Through the French Canals features the main waterways of France

and in this extract, he explores the mighty river Rhône, the second longest in France and the

Saône river…

The Rhône

The Rhône is fed by several navigable

canalised rivers including, to the north of

Lyon, the Saône with the Petite Saône and

the southern arm of the Canal du Rhône

au Rhin and, just a few kilometres from the

Mediterranean, the Petite Rhône and the

Rhône à Séte Canal. This will be of interest to

anyone considering moving their boat down to

the Mediterranean by the waterways because

ultimately the choice is limited to navigating

the Rhône or a seaward passage down the

Bay of Biscay and taking the Canal des Deux

Mers. The Rhône is the more popular choice.

Particularly for smaller craft, the Rhône

comes as something of a challenge after days

spent progressing at a leisurely walking pace

along the Bourgogne or Bourbonnais routes,

stopping for lunch and mooring up in the early

evening near a promising restaurant. In the

space of a few days, the skipper is suddenly

having to cope with a strong current and pay

some attention to the weather as the boat

is piloted down the broad waters of the fastmoving

Rhône, sweeping her towards the giant

locks that are a feature of the waterway. The

rivers that feed into the Rhône are peaceful

enough during the summer months. There is

little current to cope with on the Saône, which

is particularly popular with those who choose

to charter boats on the French waterways.

Those who are bringing their boats through

The Good Life France | 89


Sète

France to the Mediterranean

from the Strasbourg region

or from Germany may

well be motoring along the

southern arm of the Canal

du Rhône au Rhin and

experiencing mile after mile

of spectacular scenery along

the Doubs valley.

At the Mediterranean end

of the Rhône, the skipper

has the choice of either

continuing almost to the end

and branching off at Port-

St-Louis or joining the Petit

Rhône which enables a boat

to transfer to the Rhône

à Séte Canal and motor

through the Camargue

to reach a more westerly

Mediterranean port.

Saône: St-Jean-de-Losne

to Lyon

Yachts bound for the Mediterranean by way of

the northern waterways will eventually reach

the important junction at

St-Jean-de-Losne. On the

way there, some will have

sampled the considerable

attractions of the Canal de

Bourgogne, others will have

chosen the Marne route

through the Champagne

region. Boats passagemaking

from Strasbourg

and the north-east will have

emerged from the Canal du

Rhône au Rhin and others

may have experienced

the delights of the Petite

Saône. Only those who have

taken the most westerly

Bourbonnais route will miss

St-Jean-de-Losne, meeting

the Saône 57km downriver

at Chalon-sur-Saône.

Having arrived at St-Jean-de-Losne, via the

various routes from the north, west or east,

crews should anticipate a marked contrast in

their surroundings once through the first of the

Saône’s massive locks (Seurre). The channel

widens from a modest 12–15m in the Petite

Saône to a minimum of 40m and at times the

90 | The Good Life France


© David Jefferson

river is 200m across from one bank to the

other. There are numerous shoals, shallows

and manmade submerged training walls to be

avoided, with red and green channel buoys

much in evidence.

Watch out for the dérivations on the Saône.

These are canal sections bypassing parts

of the river that are no longer navigable.

Sometimes a portion of what is being

bypassed can be navigated and provides

a peaceful night’s stop free from the wash

of passing barges. There is still commercial

traffic on the Saône, with pushing tugs

connected to several dumb

barges creating considerable

wash as they speed by at

15kn. When considering the

day’s passage, the crew will

appreciate an itinerary that

makes provision for a quiet

berth for the night, undisturbed

by the wash of passing traffic.

During the season, there is

little current unless, due to

exceptional weather conditions,

the water level is markedly

heightened with local flooding.

If navigating the river early or

late in the year, and you are

concerned about the height/

current, contact direction

interrégionale Rhône-Saône.

Between St-Jean-de-Losne and Lyon, much of

the countryside is rich meadowland dotted with

farmhouses with their distinctive red tiled roofs

associated with the south of France. Arriving in

Mâcon brings you into a famous wine-growing

area. Then the scenery changes to woodland

and cliffs. All along the route, there are plenty

of stopping places including ports de plaisance

in most of the riverside towns. With only 5 locks

to cope with a very modest fall, you can reckon

on 20–25 hours to cover the 170km to Lyon,

unless you are tempted to dawdle awhile and

perhaps explore a short length of the beautiful

Doubs river.

Through the French Canals by David Jefferson is

published by Adlard Coles and out now:

Bloomsbury.com

The Good Life France | 91


C’est la vie:

Learn French

French is a Romance language, meaning it

comes from what is known as Vulgar Latin

(spoken Latin as opposed to literary Latin).

French evolved, influenced by Gallic, Anglo-

Norman and regional languages of what is

now modern France over hundreds of years to

become the modern French we know today.

English is a Germanic language that’s heavily

influenced by Romance languages, such as

300 years of French being the official language

of England thanks to William the Conqueror!

French tongue twisters

You’re actually already au fait with quite a

lot of French vocabulary say the experts at

Newsdle, the news-based learning app – it’s

just that the way the words are pronounced

can be very different. Avant-garde, bureau,

cabaret, detour… they’re the same in both

English and French, as are thousands of words.

The more you think about it, the more you

realise that often it’s a matter of pronunciation

(and speed of talking) that differentiates

LINK https://www.newsdle.com/

92 | The Good Life France


French from English. Had déjà vu lately? In

a restaurant or café, you may start the meal

with an aperitif, perhaps Champagne, and you

may find pâté or omelette is served and end

with soufflé or mousse for dessert.

When it comes to tongue twisters –

virelangues – it gets a little more challenging

but you’re sure to recognise some of the words

in these examples:

Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elles

sèches, archi-sèches?

Are the Archduchess’ socks dry, very dry?

Or how about this tongue twister that’s full of

words that sound the same, but are written

differently, known as homophones:

Si six scies scient six cyprès, six cents scies

scient six cent cyprès

If six saws saw six cypresses, six hundred saws

saw six hundred cypresses

And this one is perfect for practicing your ‘on’s

and ‘en’s and ‘ou’s and ‘ue’s:

‘Tonton, ton thé t’a-t-il ôté ta toux’ disait la

tortue au tatou. ‘Mais pas du tout’, dit le tatou.

‘Je tousse tant que l’on m’entend de Tahiti à

Tombouctou.’

‘Uncle, your tea has cured your cough,’ said

the tortoise to the armadillo. ‘Not at all,’ said

the armadillo. ‘I cough so much that you can

hear me from Tahiti to Timbuktu.’

Practice your French language reading

and speaking skills and learn more about

France with Newsdle’s fun and easy to use

news-based app – and get 25% off, just

pop in the goodlife25

newsdle.com

https://www.goutetvoyage.com/

The Good Life France | 93


Your Photos

Every weekend we invite you to share your photos on Facebook – it’s a great way for

everyone to “see” real France and be inspired by real travellers snapping pics as they go.

Every week there are utterly gorgeous photos being shared, and here we showcase just a

few of the most popular. Share your favourite photos with us on Facebook, the most ‘liked’

will appear in the next issue of the The Good Life France Magazine

Salers, Cantal by Barbara Pasquet James

The department of Cantal in the

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is a rather

secret place. A land of lakes and rivers,

volcanoes, forests and mountains. There

are peaceful villages, medieval towns and

cities in this agricultural area. And it’s

famous for its delicious cheese.

94 | The Good Life France


Paris in the spring by Yvonne Rodriguez

Wisteria blooms in paris usually in May and at

Aux Vieux Paris d’Arcole restaurant (The building

was competed in 1512) the wisteria was planted in

1946 and has its own special licence to grow big!

https://www.facebook.com/goodlifefrance/

Join us on Facebook and

like and share your favourite

photos of France...

The Good Life France | 95


96 | The Good Life France

info@leggett.fr

https://www.frenchestateagents.com/

https://www.frenchestateagents.com/french-property-for-sale/view/A07741/

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Brantome, Dordogne by Ian Walls

Brantôme is pretty enough to be pictured on the lid

of a chocolate box. The most well-known attraction

of the town is the magnificent Benedictine Abbey.

The original was built by Charlemagne in the 8th

century. Rebuilt in the 11th century, it is now the

location of town hall and art museum.

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The Good Life France | 97


Auxerre

Central France

Benefitting from historically low mortgage rates and with a wide choice of

properties to choose from, it’s no wonder that so many home buyers are looking at

the spectacular value that Central France offers says Leggett Immobillier’s Area

Co-ordinator Kevin Andrews.

98 | The Good Life France


We have more than our fair share of glorious

châteaux, sumptuous country estates and

swanky ski chalets and you will find some of

the lowest priced, best value, property

in France.

Much of this area is rural France at its best.

With unspoiled views, peaceful towns and

villages, where “local produce” means that the

person selling the fruit and veg probably dug it

up or picked it that morning.

Ignoring the newly created map of France,

we’re labelling central France as the four

traditional regions of Centre, Limousin,

Auvergne and Burgundy. Each of them has a

very different landscape and “feel” but all share

the common traits of beautiful countryside,

friendly locals, historic towns and great value.

Centre

Centre is renowned for having the most

beautiful collection of historic châteaux in

the world. Scattered along the lovely river

Loire they seem to dominate the landscape

and provide a stunning backdrop to the

countryside. The popular towns of Orléans and

Tours are welcoming, pretty and packed full of

historic buildings. Buy a house within striking

distance of either and you’ll never be short of

something to do on a rainy day.

The Good Life France | 99


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100 | The Good Life France


Limousin

Limousin has been my home for many years. I

moved across with my family and we saw our

quality of life sky-rocket. We are surrounded

by clean air, open spaces and delicious food.

The region is best known to holidaymakers

for its outdoor pursuits, thanks to the

proliferation of rivers that flow through

the area, as well as numerous springs and

lakes. Cycling, sailing, canoeing, kayaking

and fishing are very popular such as at

Lac Vassivière, a man-made lake of 1000

hectares where you can swim and do all

manner of water sports as well enjoy walking

trails and boat rides to a central island with a

sculpture park, café and museum. Summers

here are long and hot.

This is the least populated region in mainland

France, though that doesn’t mean there’s

not plenty to do year-round. A roll-out of

high speed fibre optic in Limousin as well

as Government support for the area to

be rejuvenated as a potential tech centre

has seen both second and permanent

home status rocket in the last two years.

The properties available here are simply

remarkable value for money. The average

house price in my department – Haute

Vienne, which is home to the city of Limoges,

is €121,500 while in the neighbouring Creuse

they are just €80,000!

Burgundy

Burgundy is the place to explore if you like

vineyards, rolling hills and exceptional food.

The locals are proud of the wide choice of

incredible wine they can choose from – much

of it from little known vineyards, off the beaten

track. Local agent knowledge about where to

live is the key here as it’s such a diverse area.

Without that expertise you could miss out on

discovering the most popular villages, where to

get the best wine and which markets offer the

freshest produce. If you enjoy the finer things

in life you’ll love Burgundy.

e Puy en Velay

Burgundy

Auvergne

Limousin cattle

Auvergne has the most dramatic landscape

of all the regions. It’s a land of dormant

volcanoes, hulking mountain ranges and

bustling towns and cities. If you like the

outdoor life then this region has to be on your

shortlist. Hiking, biking, skiing, snow-boarding

and jumping off the side of a mountain in a

wing suit are just some of the madcap things

on offer. And, if you like being close to a ski-lift

but find the prices in the Alps or Pyrénées a

little heady then take a look in the Auvergne.

Mont Dore ski resort at the foot of Puy de

Sancy is ideal for beginners, intermediates

and families. The resort has a connection to

Besse ski resort. A Spa town with traditional

restaurants, shops, ice skating rink, bowling

alley, casino and cinema. Equally as busy with

summer activities and music festivals. It’s ideal

for permanent residence, a holiday home or

just a rental investment with almost all year

round rental potential.”

The average house price in the Puy de Dome

is just €160,000.

Find out more properties in the Auvergne

The Good Life France | 101


Beacon Global Wealth Management

Standing out, amongst the best

UK and French financial advice

Tax and investment advice

Inheritance advice

Reviewing https://beaconglobalwealth.com/

pension arrangements

It’s simple...

We care about you and your money

Our vision is to build a long term strategy

to take care of your financial requirements

for your life in France.

Please contact

Our UK office 0044 33 3241 6966

enquiries@bgwealthmanagement.net

https://beaconglobalwealth.com/

102 | The Good Life France


What is a

French Assurance Vie

We talk to Paul Flintham, an International Financial

Advisor at Beacon Global Wealth about the

Assurance Vie…

Well, literally translated it means Life

Insurance, but actually it’s quite different

from the life insurance policy you might be

used to in say the UK. An Assurance Vie

is essentially a life insurance wrapper that

holds investments. It’s available to French tax

residents, including foreign nationals living

in France and as well as offering inheritance

advantages, it’s one of the most versatile and

efficient tax structures in France.

Key points of an Assurance Vie (AV)

Tax: Investments held within the wrapper are

not subject to capital gains tax or income

tax while the funds stay inside the policy and

no withdrawals are made. You can withdraw

capital tax-free, only the growth element of

any withdrawal is subject to tax. You must

declare the growth every year you on your

annual tax form, but no tax is paid unless you

make a withdrawal. Even then the tax is only

paid on the ‘growth’ part and after 8 years,

there is an income-tax-free allowance of

€4,600 per person (Social Tax is still payable).

An AV may also be held in joint names,

meaning an allowance of €9,200 per couple

(tax is paid by couples in France).

Inheritance: Assets within an Assurance Vie

may be dispersed as you wish on death, and

there are tax advantages for beneficiaries.

If you open the AV before you reach 70,

beneficiaries of an AV have an (extra)

allowance of up to €152,500 each before

tax. Compared to €1594 which is the normal

allowance for non-relatives (this also includes

unmarried partners in France). If you open the

A.V. after you’re 70, the allowance drops to

€30,500 per person.

Currency: International AV versions can

hold different currencies, which is useful if the

foreign exchange rate isn’t favourable, and

you have assets in different currencies.

If you are tax resident in France and hold

PEPS or ISA’s, you will have to declare the

accounts and amounts on your French tax

return. If you opened an AV your tax would be

deferred until you take a withdrawal.

This is a simple view of how an Assurance Vie

works but for many people this is an excellent

investment vehicle for tax savings and for

inheritance planning.

If you’d like to find out more or have questions

about how to maximise your investments,

contact Beacon Global Wealth for an

obligation free consultation at:

enquiries@bgwealthmanagement.net

beaconglobalwealth.com

The information on this page is intended as an introduction only

and is not designed to offer solutions or advice. Beacon Global

Wealth Management can accept no responsibility whatsoever for

losses incurred by acting on the information on this page.

Beacon Global Wealth Management are members of Nexus

Global (IFA Network). Nexus Global EU is a division of Blacktower

Financial Management (Cyprus) Limited (BFMCL) and Blacktower

Insurance Agents & Advisors Ltd (BIAAL). Beacon Global Wealth

Management is an Appointed Representative of BFMCL which

is licensed and regulated by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange

Commission (CySEC) - Licence No. 386/20. Beacon Global

Wealth Management is an Appointed Representative of BIAAL

which is licensed and regulated by the Insurance Companies

Control Service (ICCS) - Licence No. 5101

The Good Life France | 103


Croissants

104 | The Good Life France

Photo: © Caroline Faccioli


If you’ve ever sighed over a photo of croissants and

wished you could make them at home – then read on…

A Makes 12–15 (1¼ lb./600 g dough)

Active time: 1 hour

Chilling time: 4–5 hours (preferably

overnight)

Rising time: 4 hours

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Storage: Up to 2 months in the

freezer in a sealed bag

(see Chef’s Notes)

EQUIPMENT

Instant-read thermometer

Stand mixer fitted with the dough hook

2 silicone baking mats (or parchment paper)

Rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment

paper

INGREDIENTS

Water dough

1⁄3 oz. (10 g) fresh yeast (see Chef’s Notes)

1 tbsp (15 ml) lukewarm water

2 tbsp (25 g) sugar

1½ tsp (7 g) fine salt

1 tbsp (20 g) butter

¼ cup (60 ml) water

¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk +

1 tbsp for the sugar and salt

2 cups (9 oz./250 g) bread flour

For laminating

1 stick + 1 tbsp (4½ oz./130 g) butter, at room

temperature

1 egg, lightly beaten

METHOD

1. To prepare the water dough, dissolve the

yeast in the lukewarm water in a small

bowl. In a separate bowl, stir the sugar

and salt into the 1 tbsp milk until dissolved.

2. Heat the 1 tbsp (20 g) butter in a small

saucepan with the water and milk,

until the butter has melted and the

temperature reaches 86°F (30°C).

3. Sift the flour into the bowl of the stand

mixer. Beat in the sugar/salt/milk mixture

on low speed, then the warm butter/milk

mixture. Finally, mix in the dissolved yeast.

4. Continue kneading until the dough is

smooth, comes away from the sides of the

bowl, and is just warm to the touch (about

1 minute).

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and

let the dough rise at room temperature,

ideally around 77°F/25°C, until doubled

in volume (about 1 hour).

6. Dust a shallow baking dish with flour

and press out the dough over the base.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate

for 2–3 hours.

7. To laminate the dough, remove the butter

from the refrigerator about 30 minutes

ahead, so it will be easier to work with.

Place between the two silicone baking

mats or two sheets of parchment paper,

then beat with a rolling pin to make the

butter as malleable as the dough. Cut into

2 equal pieces, wrap 1 piece, and return it

to the refrigerator.

8. On a lightly floured surface, roll the

dough into a rectangle three times as

long as it is wide.

9. Cut the butter into small pieces. Dot

these evenly over the bottom two-thirds

of the dough: the butter should be slightly

softer than the dough at this point. Fold

the top third of the dough down over the

butter and the bottom third up. Give the

The Good Life France | 105


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106 | The Good Life France


folded dough a quarter turn and roll into a

rectangle again. Fold in thirds as before.

Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least

2 hours, or, for best results, overnight.

10. When ready to proceed, remove the

remaining butter from the refrigerator and

leave it at room temperature for about

30 minutes. Beat with a rolling pin until

malleable, as described in step 7, and

repeat the rolling and folding instructions

(steps 8–9) with the chilled dough and

butter. After giving the dough a quarter

turn, in the same direction as before, roll

it into a rectangle measuring about 8 × 10

in. (20 × 25 cm). Cover with plastic wrap

and chill for 1 hour.

11. To form the croissants, roll the dough into

a rectangle measuring 6 × 17½ in. (15 ×

45 cm), with a thickness of about 1⁄8 in.

(3 mm). Cut into 12–15 triangles with a

narrower, 2–3-in. (6–7.5-cm) base.

12. Roll up each triangle from the base

to the tip. Place on the baking sheet,

leaving space between each one. The

croissants can now be frozen, if desired

(see Chef’s Notes).

13. Brush the croissants with beaten egg to

prevent them drying out while rising. Let

rise for about 2 hours in a warm place

(about 82°F/28°C), until doubled in

volume. Toward the end of the rising

time, preheat the oven to 400°F

(200°C/Gas Mark 6).

14. Brush the croissants with the

remaining beaten egg; brush lightly

so as not to deflate them. Bake for

15 minutes until deep golden brown.

If necessary, rotate the baking sheet

toward the end of the baking time

so they brown evenly. Cool on a

wire rack.

Chef’s Notes

• Croissants are traditionally made using

fresh yeast, as it gives the best results. If

fresh yeast is unavailable, you can substitute

2¼ tsp (7 g) active dry yeast or 1½ tsp (5 g)

instant yeast. Instant yeast must be mixed

directly into the flour before any liquid is

added, rather than dissolved in the water,

which can be omitted.

• If freezing, place the unbaked croissants

on the baking sheet in the freezer until

solid, then place them in a freezer bag,

seal, and return to the freezer. Let them

thaw overnight in the refrigerator, on a

baking sheet lined with parchment paper,

then proceed with steps 13 and 14.

Extracted from French

Pastries and Desserts

by Lenôtre: 200 Classic

Recipes Revised and Updated

(Flammarion, 2021).

The Good Life France | 107


Chocolate

Croissants

108 | The Good Life France

Photo: © Caroline Faccioli


Makes 15

Active time: 10 minutes +

making the croissant dough

Rising time: 2 hours

Cooking time: 18 minutes

for each baking sheet

Storage: Up to 2 months in

the freezer (unbaked),

in a sealed freezer bag

EQUIPMENT

Instant-read thermometer

Stand mixer fitted with the dough hook

2 silicone baking mats (optional)

2 rimmed baking sheets lined with

parchment paper

INGREDIENTS

Water dough

1⁄3 oz. (10 g) fresh yeast (see Chef’s Notes)

1 tbsp (15 ml) lukewarm water

2 tbsp (25 g) sugar

1½ tsp (7 g) fine salt

1 tbsp (20 g) butter

¼ cup (60 ml) water

¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk +

1 tbsp for the sugar and salt

2 ¾ cups (9 oz./250 g) bread flour

For laminating

1 stick + 1 tbsp (4½ oz./130 g) butter

Chocolate filling

30 pain au chocolat sticks, weighing 1⁄6 oz. (5

g) each, or 15 sticks weighing 1⁄3 oz. (10 g) each

(see Chef’s Notes)

1 egg, lightly beaten

METHOD

1. To prepare the water dough, dissolve the

yeast in the lukewarm water in a small

bowl. In a separate bowl, stir the sugar

and salt into the 1 tbsp milk until dissolved.

2. Heat the 1 tbsp (20 g) butter in a small

saucepan with the water and milk,

until the butter has melted and the

temperature reaches 86°F (30°C).

3. Sift the flour into the bowl of the stand

mixer. Beat in the sugar/salt/milk mixture

on low speed, then the warm butter/milk

mixture. Finally, mix in the dissolved yeast.

4. Continue kneading until the dough is

smooth, comes away from the sides of the

bowl, and is just warm to the touch (about

1 minute).

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and

let the dough rise at room temperature,

ideally around 77°F/25°C, until doubled

in volume (about 1 hour).

6. Dust a shallow baking dish with flour

and press out the dough over the base.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate

for 2–3 hours.

7. To laminate the dough, remove the butter

from the refrigerator about 30 minutes

ahead, so it will be easier to work with.

Place between the two silicone baking

mats or two sheets of parchment paper,

then beat with a rolling pin to make the

butter as malleable as the dough. Cut into

2 equal pieces, wrap 1 piece, and return it

to the refrigerator.

8. On a lightly floured surface, roll the

dough into a rectangle three times as

long as it is wide.

9. Cut the butter into small pieces. Dot

these evenly over the bottom two-thirds

of the dough: the butter should be slightly

softer than the dough at this point. Fold

the top third of the dough down over the

butter and the bottom third up. Give the

folded dough a quarter turn and roll into a

rectangle again. Fold in thirds as before.

Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least

2 hours, or, for best results, overnight.

10. When ready to proceed, remove the

The Good Life France | 109


110 | The Good Life France

https://thegoodlifefrance.com/


emaining butter from the refrigerator and

leave it at room temperature for about

30 minutes. Beat with a rolling pin until

malleable, as described in step 7, and

repeat the rolling and folding instructions

(steps 8–9) with the chilled dough and

butter. After giving the dough a quarter

turn, in the same direction as before, roll

it into a rectangle measuring about 8 × 10

in. (20 × 25 cm). Cover with plastic wrap

and chill for 1 hour.

11. Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring

35 × 6 in. (90 × 15 cm), with a thickness of

about 1⁄8 in. (3 mm), and cut into 15 equalsized

smaller rectangles.

12. Place 1 large or 2 small chocolate sticks

near the base of each rectangle and roll

up the dough around the sticks to enclose

them. Divide the croissants between the

baking sheets, seam side down, leaving

space between each one. The tops

can be scored using a bread knife for a

decorative effect. The croissants can now

be frozen, if desired (see Chef’s Notes).

13. Brush the croissants with a little beaten

egg to prevent them from drying out while

rising. Let rise at room temperature for

about 2 hours, until doubled in volume.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat

the oven to 400°F (200°C/Gas Mark 6).

14. Lightly brush the tops of one sheet of

croissants with half the remaining beaten

egg, taking care not to deflate the dough.

Place immediately in the oven and bake

for 18 minutes, until deep golden brown.

If the croissants are browning too quickly,

reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C/Gas

Mark 4). Rotate the baking sheet toward

the end of the baking time, if necessary,

so they brown evenly. Brush the tops of

the second sheet of croissants with the

remaining beaten egg and bake in the

same way.

15. Cool the croissants on a wire rack.

Chef’s Notes

• Croissants are traditionally made using

fresh yeast, as it gives the best results. If

fresh yeast is unavailable, you can substitute

2¼ tsp (7 g) active dry yeast or 1¼ tsp (3.5

g) instant yeast. Instant yeast must be mixed

directly into the flour before any liquid is

added, rather than dissolved in the water,

which can be omitted.

• If pain au chocolat sticks are unavailable in

stores, they can be purchased online from

various suppliers.

• If freezing, place the unbaked croissants on

the baking sheet in the freezer until solid,

then place them in a freezer bag, seal,

and return to the freezer. Let them thaw

overnight in the refrigerator, on a baking

sheet lined with parchment paper, then

proceed with steps 4−6.

https://perrytaylor.fr/en/

Extracted from French Pastries and Desserts by

Lenôtre: 200 Classic Recipes Revised and Updated

(Flammarion, 2021).

The Good Life France | 111


Pudding Royal

Brioche

Bread Pudding

112 | The Good Life France

Photo: © Caroline Faccioli


Makes 2 desserts, each

serving 6

Active time: 15 minutes

Infusing time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

EQUIPMENT

2 × 9-in. (23-cm) round porcelain baking

dishes, 1½ in. (4 cm) deep

Electric hand beater

Large baking pan for the bain-marie

INGREDIENTS

For the baking dishes

3 tbsp (1¾ oz./50 g) butter

2 tbsp (25 g) sugar

Custard

3 cups (750 ml) whole milk

1 Bourbon Madagascar vanilla bean,

split lengthwise

5 eggs (1 cup/250 g)

8 egg yolks (scant 2⁄3 cup/160 g)

1½ cups (10½ oz./300 g) Sugar

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C/Gas

Mark 3). Grease the baking dishes with

the butter, then sprinkle with the sugar

until coated.

2. To prepare the custard, pour the milk into

a saucepan. Scrape in the vanilla seeds

and add the bean.

3. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the

heat. Cover and let infuse for 10 minutes.

Remove the bean.

4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar

together for 1 minute until frothy. Slowly

whisk in the warm milk on low speed.

5. To assemble the bread pudding, cut the

brioche into approximately ¾-in. (1.5-cm)

slices. If necessary, chop the dried and

candied fruit into smaller pieces, removing

any pits.

6. Line the bases of the baking dishes with

brioche slices, packing them tightly

together. Spoon the fruit over the brioche

slices. Cut the remaining brioche into

cubes, then scatter them over the fruit in a

single layer.

7. Divide the custard between the dishes.

Place them in the baking pan and pour

in enough hot water to come halfway up

the sides of the dishes. Carefully transfer

to the oven and bake for 50 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil if the tops

brown too quickly. Remove from the oven

and let cool.

8. Serve at room temperature or chilled, with

vanilla custard sauce, chocolate sauce, or

apricot or raspberry fruit coulis.

To assemble

9 oz. (250 g) leftover day-old brioche

10½ oz. (300 g) assorted dried and candied

fruit (such as golden raisins, currants,

candied cherries)

To serve

Vanilla custard sauce, chocolate sauce or

apricot or raspberry coulis

Extracted from French Pastries and Desserts by

Lenôtre: 200 Classic Recipes Revised and Updated

(Flammarion, 2021).

The Good Life France | 113


Pain De Gênes

French

Almond Cake

114 | The Good Life France

Photo: © Caroline Faccioli


Makes 2 cakes, each

serving 6

Active time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Storage: Up to 4 days in the

refrigerator or 3 months

in the freezer, wrapped

airtight

EQUIPMENT

2 × 7-in. (18-cm) round cake pans

2 × 7-in. (18-cm) rounds of parchment paper

Stand mixer fitted with the paddle beater

INGREDIENTS

7 tbsp (3½ oz./100 g) butter + more for the

pans

2⁄3 cup (1¾ oz./50 g) sliced almonds

13¼ oz. (375 g) marzipan, roughly chopped

6 eggs (1¼ cups/280 g)

1½ tbsp (15 g) AP flour

1½ tbsp (15 g) potato starch

1 tsp (5 ml) Grand Marnier

1 tsp (5 ml) aged rum

Extracted from French

Pastries and Desserts

by Lenôtre: 200 Classic

Recipes Revised and

Updated (Flammarion,

2021).

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/Gas

Mark 6). Grease the pans with butter

and line the bases with the rounds of

parchment paper to prevent the cakes,

which are fragile, from sticking. Press the

sliced almonds around the sides of the

pans, removing any that do not stick.

2. Beat the marzipan on slow speed in the

bowl of the stand mixer until malleable

and smooth.

3. Add the eggs, one by one, and beat for

5 minutes on medium speed after each

addition. Scrape down the sides of the

bowl as needed. The mixture should be

light and airy.

4. Sift the flour and potato starch into

a bowl.

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan until

foaming. Remove from the heat. Whisk

in about one-quarter of the marzipan

mixture, then the Grand Marnier and rum.

6. Gently fold the flour and potato starch

into the marzipan mixture in the bowl.

Slowly pour in the butter mixture and fold

it in using a spatula.

7. Divide the batter between the pans, filling

them three-quarters full.

8. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the

oven temperature to 350°F (180°C/Gas

Mark 4) and bake for an additional 20

minutes, until the cakes are golden and

the tip of a knife inserted into the center

comes out clean.

9. Let the cakes cool completely in the

pans before carefully inverting them onto

flat serving plates, with the parchment

paper uppermost. Carefully peel off the

parchment paper.

Chef’s Notes

• These cakes can be served with chocolate

sauce or vanilla custard sauce, or with a

fresh fruit coulis. They are also delicious on

their own, with a cup of tea.

The Good Life France | 115


Pain D’épices Des Gâtines

Lenôtre Gâtines

Spice Cake

116 | The Good Life France

Photo: © Caroline Faccioli


Makes 2 cakes, each serving 8

Active time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1½ hours

Cooling time: 1 hour

Resting time: Up to 3 days

(optional, see Chef’s Notes)

Storage: Up to 12 weeks in the refrigerator or

6 months in the freezer

EQUIPMENT

2 × 12-in. (30-cm) loaf pans

Microplane grater

Stand mixer fitted with the paddle beater

INGREDIENTS

1 stick + 2 tbsp (5¼ oz./150 g) butter, diced +

more for the pans

12⁄3 cups (400 ml) water

1 cup + 3 tbsp (14 oz./400 g) golden honey

1¼ cups (9 oz./250 g) sugar

2 oranges

1 lemon

1 cup (3½ oz./100 g) sliced almonds

3½ tbsp (50 ml) anise syrup or 1 tbsp anise

seeds (see Chef’s Notes)

Generous 4¾ cups (1 lb. 3 oz./550 g) whole

wheat flour or 5 cups (1 lb. 3 oz./550 g)

rye flour

¼ cup (1½ oz./45 g) baking powder

Decoration (optional)

Candied orange peel, cut into thin strips the

same length as the width of the cakes

Finely grated orange zest

Extracted from French Pastries

and Desserts by Lenôtre: 200

Classic Recipes Revised and

Updated (Flammarion, 2021).

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/

Gas Mark 6). Lightly grease the loaf pans

with butter and line them with enough

parchment paper to leave an overhang.

2. Heat the water in a saucepan. Stir in the

honey and sugar until dissolved. Add the

butter and stir until it has melted.

3. Wash and dry the oranges and lemon.

Remove the peel in quarters from one

orange and cut it into small dice. Zest the

other orange and the lemon, preferably

using a Microplane grater, as the zest needs

to be very fine. Place the diced peel and

zest in a mixing bowl and add the almonds

and anise syrup or seeds. Stir to combine.

4. Sift the flour and baking powder into

the bowl of the stand mixer. With the

mixer running on low speed, gradually

incorporate the first mixture. Sprinkle in

the citrus peel/almond/anise mixture and

beat until combined.

5. Divide the batter between the pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the

temperature to 340°F (170°C/Gas Mark

3) and bake for an additional 1 hour, or

until the tip of a knife pushed into the

center of each cake comes out clean. If

the cakes brown too quickly, cover them

with aluminum foil.

6. Cool the cakes in the pans for at least 1

hour, before serving. If possible, let them

rest overnight or up to 3 days, still in

their pans (see Chef’s Notes). If wished,

decorate the tops of the cakes with strips

of candied orange peel and sprinkle over

finely grated zest before serving.

Chef’s Notes

• There is no need to grind the anise seeds, as

they will disintegrate as the cake bakes.

• Although the spice cakes can be eaten 1

hour after being removed from the oven,

they will be easier to slice and their flavors

will have had time to develop if they are

stored in their pans for 2–3 days.

The Good Life France | 117


Our local bar is the sort of place where everyone has an opinion about absolutely

everything, and they love to complain. The goings on at the Champs-Elysées

Palace are spoken of as if we are all on first name terms with the President, the

Prime Minister and the various political agencies – of which are there are many in

France. If you didn’t know better, you might well believe that many of the villagers

spent the week in Paris moonlighting as eavesdropping staff in governmental

offices. According to just about everyone, Monsieur Macron isn’t nearly as

interesting as some of his previous incumbents, Monsieur Sarkozy for instance

had everyone going due to his aversion to cheese. And Monsieur Hollande was a

constant source of fascination and complaint thanks to his many girlfriends and

predilection for riding through Paris on the back of a small motorbike.

There actually was a poll held in France quite recently about what French people

complain about most and it probably comes as no surprise to find out it was – the

government. I’m sure it is the same everywhere.

Complaining, loudly, is a very French thing. For the last I don’t know how many

years, immediately after meeting Jean-Claude and sharing a kiss on the cheeks

and saying bonjour, the first words out of his mouth will always be complaints

about the weather, it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too foggy, too frosty.

Born in London, I am not generally a loud complainer. We Brits tend to sigh loudly

and mumble insults under our breath “pushing in up there, did you see that?” we’ll

say, but we won’t confront the push-inner.

In France though, if you don’t learn to complain, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

For the French, it’s not just about letting those negative feelings out, it’s about

connecting with your tribe, bonding.

With all that’s going on in the world, I count my blessings every day and rarely find

anything to complain about for myself. But, in the interests of fitting in, now, if

anyone complains here, I simply nod and say “oui, oui, I know, I agree.”

Truly I am starting to feel French…

Janine

Last

Word

Janine Marsh lives in France with her husband and 72 animals. Her latest book,

Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France, is out in spring 2022 on

Amazon and all good book shops

118 | The Good Life France


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info@leggett.fr

The Good Life France | 119


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