Autumn 2022

Discover Aix, the ‘Little Paris’ of Provence, the historic region of Beaune, a land of wine and castles. Beautiful Bordeaux and Normandy. The stork villages of Alsace and the pickled-in-the-past, post-card pretty perched town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. Breath-taking Lavender fields in Provence, castles in the air in Dordogne. Exquisite Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice. Discover what’s new, the best tours, recipes, a language lesson, practical guides and much, much more…

Discover Aix, the ‘Little Paris’ of Provence, the historic region of Beaune, a land of wine and castles. Beautiful Bordeaux and Normandy. The stork villages of Alsace and the pickled-in-the-past, post-card pretty perched town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. Breath-taking Lavender fields in Provence, castles in the air in Dordogne. Exquisite Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice. Discover what’s new, the best tours, recipes, a language lesson, practical guides and much, much more…

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FREE<br />

The<br />

Good Life France<br />

ISSUE Nọ 31<br />

ISSN 2754-6799<br />

Magazine<br />

Discover<br />

Aix-en-Provence<br />

The sun-kissed<br />

southern beauty<br />

Delicious<br />

Dijon<br />

The new French<br />

capital of gastronomy<br />

French Riviera<br />


Villefranche-sur-Mer,<br />

Eze & Saint-Jean-<br />

Cap-Ferrat<br />


France<br />

Push the boat out<br />

in Bordeaux<br />

120 pages<br />

of inspirational<br />

features and<br />

gorgeous photos<br />

Pretty as a picture<br />

The Alabaster<br />

Coast, Normandy<br />

Delicious recipes<br />

to bring a taste of<br />

France to your home

Bienvenue<br />


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Room to Grow<br />

Bienvenue<br />

Bonjour and bienvenue to The Good Life France Magazine<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2022</strong> issue.<br />

This is a seriously fabulous issue and it’s just teeming with<br />

tempting French destinations, and its chock full of fabulous<br />

photos to inspire daydreams and bring France to you wherever<br />

you are.<br />

Discover Aix, the ‘Little Paris’ of Provence, one of the most<br />

colourful and gorgeous cities in France, and historic Beaune,<br />

a land of wine and castles. Push the boat out in beautiful<br />

Bordeaux, a bucket list destination for sure, and head to<br />

Normandy to explore its many charms – from the Alabaster<br />

Coast to Ouistreham, a little fishing village with a big history.<br />

See the stork villages of Alsace, sigh over the pickled-in-thepast,<br />

post-card pretty perched town of Saint-Guilhem-le-<br />

Desert where the villagers love to tell stories! Discover how<br />

Alexandre Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers, was in<br />

real life a total foodie, and there are some stunning recipes<br />

for those of you who also love French cuisine – including an<br />

irresistibly sscrumptious brioche and berry pudding. Lavender<br />

fields in Provence, castles in the air in Dordogne, exquisite<br />

Villefranche-sur-Mer and little villages of the French Riviera,<br />

the UNESCO-listed treasures of Nice, what’s new, practical<br />

guides and much, much more…<br />

Don’t forget to subscribe - the magazine is free (see page 4)<br />

and please share this issue with your friends - that’s free too!<br />

Wishing you a very happy autumn,<br />

Bisous from my little corner of rural northern France,<br />

Janine<br />

Janine Marsh<br />

Editor<br />

Follow us on Twitter,<br />

Instagram & Facebook<br />

Start your property search today!<br />

+33 (0)5 53 60 84 88 leggettfrance.com info@leggett.fr<br />

The Good Life France | 3

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The magazine is free to read, download and share<br />

Contributors<br />

8<br />


The Good Life France Magazine<br />

No. 31 <strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

ISSN 2754-6799<br />


8 Sun-kissed Aix-en-Provence<br />

Janine Marsh discovers the<br />

cultural and foodie side of this<br />

southern French beauty.<br />

14<br />

14 Bucket list France: Bordeaux<br />

Push the boat out in the “Pearl<br />

of Aquitaine”…<br />

Gillian Thornton is an<br />

award-winning travel<br />

writer and member<br />

of the British Guild<br />

of Travel Writers,<br />

specialising in French<br />

destinations, city stays,<br />

walking, cruising and<br />

lifestyle. Her favourite<br />

place? ‘Usually where I<br />

have just been!’<br />

Laurent Yung was<br />

born and raised in<br />

his 5-generation<br />

family vineyard in<br />

Bordeaux, France.<br />

He now runs, from<br />

San Diego, California,<br />

SomMailier.com, a<br />

fabulous and unique<br />

Wine Club 100%<br />

dedicated to French<br />

wines in the USA. He is<br />

passionate about wine,<br />

especially the small<br />

hard-to-find French<br />

wines.<br />

Sue Aran is a writer,<br />

photographer, and<br />

tour guide living in the<br />

Gers department of<br />

southwest France. She<br />

is the owner of French<br />

Country Adventures,<br />

which provides<br />

personally-guided,<br />

small-group, slow travel<br />

tours into Gascony, the<br />

Pays Basque, Provence<br />

and beyond.<br />

The Good Life France Magazine<br />

Front Cover: Montmartre, Paris by Wazim. Find more of his fabulous<br />

photos at: wazim-photos.com and on Instagram at wazou_75<br />

Editor-in-chief: Janine Marsh<br />

Editorial assistant: Trudy Watkins<br />

Jeremy Flint is an awardwinning<br />

professional<br />

photographer and writer<br />

specialising in travel,<br />

landscape and location<br />

photography. His work is<br />

published extensively in<br />

several magazines. He<br />

is a five-time finalist in<br />

Travel Photographer of<br />

the Year, Association of<br />

Photographers Discovery<br />

Award Winner and<br />

National Geographic<br />

Traveller Grand Prize<br />

Winner.<br />

Press enquiries: editor (at) the Good Life France.com<br />

Advertising: sales (at) the Good Life France.com<br />

Digital support: websitesthatwork.com<br />

Layout design: Philippa French littlefrogdesign.co.uk<br />

Kit Smyth is a<br />

retired chef with a<br />

passion for French<br />

cuisine. Originally<br />

from Australia, Kit is<br />

dedicated to exploring<br />

both old and new<br />

ingredients, techniques<br />

and styles, and<br />

developing recipes for<br />

home cooks, she also<br />

teaches these recipes<br />

online and in-person.<br />

Find out more at her<br />

website: TheBiteLine<br />

ISSN 2754-6799 Issue 31 <strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2022</strong>, released September <strong>2022</strong><br />

20<br />

20 Pretty as a picture in<br />

Normandy<br />

Gillian Thornton explores the<br />

Alabaster Coast.<br />

28 Delicious Dijon<br />

The new French capital of<br />

gastronomy.<br />

72 French Riviera chillout zones<br />

Villefranche-sur-Mer, Eze &<br />

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.<br />


34 Lavender fields forever!<br />

Jeremy Flint wanders the<br />

purple plains of Provence.<br />

40 Seaside getaway in Normandy<br />

Janine Marsh finds Ouistreham<br />

is the perfect weekend<br />

destination.<br />

44 British Normandy Memorial<br />

Gillian Thornton visits the<br />

latest remembrance site to<br />

open along the D-Day landing<br />

beaches.<br />

4 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 5

34<br />

50 Spotlight on:<br />

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert<br />

One of the prettiest villages in<br />

France was once home to a<br />

giant!<br />

54 Burgundy’s finest<br />

Nuns, film stars and UNESCOlisted<br />

vineyards in Beaune!<br />

118 Last word<br />

Life in rural France.<br />

GUIDES<br />

90 Car and Visa Insurance<br />

How to insure your foreign<br />

registered car in France, and<br />

medical insurance for visa<br />

applications.<br />

40<br />

50<br />

60 Castles in the Air<br />

Mike Zampa’s humorous tour of<br />

Dordogne’s perched chateaux.<br />

64 The stork villages of<br />

northern France<br />

Amy McPherson goes walkabout<br />

in Alsace.<br />

68 Musketeers and cookery books<br />

Sue Aran explores the foodie<br />

credentials of writer Alexandre<br />

Dumas.<br />

76 Nice treasures<br />

Jeanne Oliver explores the<br />

UNESCO-listed riches in the<br />

sunny city.<br />


84 Your Photos<br />

Featuring the most beautiful<br />

photos shared on our<br />

Facebook page.<br />


80 What’s New – la Rentrée<br />

All the news and events you<br />

need for your next trip to France.<br />

86 Tours de France<br />

The very best of France for your<br />

tours and holidays.<br />

88 French language lesson<br />

Faux amis – when French words<br />

aren’t what they seem!<br />

108 The Wine Expert: Champagne<br />

Find out how the fizz for<br />

its pizzaz!<br />

84<br />

112<br />

80<br />

95 Cut the cost of currency<br />

transfers<br />

The experts explain how to<br />

get the best return on your<br />

transfers.<br />

99 US Connected Persons<br />

Guide for US expats in France.<br />

103 The true south of France?<br />

Joanna Leggett explores the<br />

good life in the cities of Sète<br />

and Montpellier in Herault.<br />


111 Very more-ish brioche<br />

bread pudding<br />

A rich and creamy pudding with<br />

raspberries, white chocolate –<br />

yes please!<br />

112 Pain perdu with a bourbon<br />

toffee sauce<br />

This oven-baked pudding is a<br />

real winner.<br />

114 Cake salé<br />

Yes you can have your savoury<br />

cake and eat it for breakfast<br />

says Kit Smyth.<br />

116 French Chowder<br />

The French version of this thick<br />

soup is seriously tasty.<br />

4 Subscribe to The Good Life<br />

France Magazine<br />

Everything you want to know<br />

about France and more.<br />

6 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 7

What to do and see in Aix<br />

You’d be forgiven for thinking that in Aix all<br />

roads lead to the Cours Mirabeau and that life<br />

revolves around the hustle and bustle of this<br />

wide boulevard – it does. Once a toll road and<br />

a place for aristocrats and the rich to see and<br />

be seen, it now splits the inner city in two. The<br />

old town is on one side and the ‘newer’ 17th<br />

century Mazarin district on the other. There<br />

are restaurants, bars, galleries and shops<br />

galore. And on summer nights and Saturday<br />

mornings, market stalls are set up and the<br />

Cours teems with shoppers. It’s also home<br />

to a mossy fountain named unsurprisingly,<br />

Fontaine Mossue. Fed by thermal springs (the<br />

Romans built baths in Aix) on cold days steam<br />

swirls above its stone bowl.<br />

Sitting at a café with a glass of local rosé,<br />

enjoying a three hour dinner and watching<br />

the world go by on the Cours is one of life’s<br />

great pleasures. Paul Cezanne, Edith Piaf,<br />

Pablo Picasso, Jean Paul Sartre and many<br />

more have done just this. But don’t sit there<br />

for too long, there’s a lot to see in Aix.<br />

Aix-en-Provence<br />

Is it the gorgeous and colourful historic buildings? Or the many museums and<br />

galleries, the fabulous markets, the Cours Mirabeau with its fountains, the<br />

pretty squares and plane tree-lined avenues? Or the 300 days of sunshine and<br />

700 restaurants in an always bustling but not busy city surrounded by glorious<br />

countryside and vineyards? Aix (pronounced ‘X’) is a bit like a mini-Paris where the<br />

sun always shines says Janine Marsh…<br />

The old district<br />

8 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 9

The old district<br />

You’ll find a warren of cobbled streets,<br />

elegant squares and magnificent ancient<br />

buildings in the old district. There’s a lively<br />

daily market in Place Richelme, shaded by<br />

ancient plane trees, lined with cafés whose<br />

chairs and tables spill into the square,<br />

and stalls peddling local produce such as<br />

lavender, bread, cheese, mountains of the<br />

freshest vegetables, great tubs of sunflowers<br />

and curtains of garlic…<br />

In Place de l’Hotel de Ville you’ll find a<br />

Saturday morning flower market watched over<br />

by a 15th century astronomical clock featuring<br />

characters representing the four seasons.<br />

Locals say one year <strong>Autumn</strong> lasted 4 months<br />

when someone forgot to turn the key!<br />

In a city that is nicknamed ‘town of 1000<br />

fountains’, elegant Place d’Albertas stands out<br />

for its truly beautiful baroque buildings and<br />

central fountain. You can walk your socks off<br />

in Aix and never be bored.<br />

Cours Mirabeau was named in honour of Honoré-Gabriel Riquetti de Mirabeau an early leader in the<br />

French Revolutionist and who represented Aix at the Estates General assembly in 1789.<br />

The Mazarin District<br />

The Mazarin district is named after the<br />

Archbishop of Aix, Michel Mazarin, brother of<br />

Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister to Louis XIV.<br />

He commissioned the extension of the city’s<br />

boundaries in the 1600s. The buildings from<br />

this time are luxurious and majestic. Elsewhere<br />

there are traces of older buildings where<br />

you can spot ancient carvings above doors,<br />

religious statues on corners and the Maltese<br />

cross carved into walls.<br />

Arty Aix<br />

Aix’s most famous son is Paul Cezanne.<br />

Every morning at dawn, he would walk from<br />

his city apartment up the hill to his studio<br />

to paint. When he died in 1906, the studio<br />

was preserved and is now open to the public.<br />

The objects we see in his paintings are still<br />

there, the three skulls which are real, though<br />

no one knows who they are – anonymously<br />

immortalized. The statue of a cherub, the<br />

bottles and vases he loved to group together.<br />

His brushes and paints, his smock coat and<br />

hat and his Godin fire are all there. You really<br />

do get the feeling the artist has popped out to<br />

wander in his gorgeous garden or to look at his<br />

beloved Mont Saint-Victoire, the subject of so<br />

many of his paintings. (atelier-cezanne.com)<br />

You can find out more about Cezanne at the<br />

Caumont Art Centre, a corker of a museum<br />

in an 18th century mansion a stone’s throw<br />

from the Cours in the Mazarin District where<br />

they show a 20-minute film about the life of<br />

Cezanne that is surprisingly grown up and<br />

doesn’t sugar coat his story (neither modest<br />

nor particularly likeable by all accounts). The<br />

museum has a super exhibition of sculptures<br />

and paintings including by several great<br />

names such as Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and<br />

many more outstanding artists, plus stunningly<br />

preserved rooms.<br />

Don’t miss the ground floor café (you don’t<br />

need a ticket to enter) – it is gorgeous with<br />

glorious salons which feel as though nothing<br />

has changed in the last 300 years, and a<br />

No 38 the oldest private mansion on Cours Mirabeau, built before the street was even laid out –<br />

it’s impressive wooden door is flanked by two stop-you-in-your-tracks-to-admire muscular figures<br />

Cezanne's studio<br />

10 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 11

eautiful shady garden. This is one of the best<br />

kept secrets of the locals who love to pop in<br />

for a coffee, glass of wine, lunch or fabulous<br />

cake.<br />

Two notable museums in the Mazarin District<br />

are Musée Granet which has a superb<br />

collection of artworks including ten Cezanne<br />

paintings, and it’s second part Granet XXe,<br />

housed in a former 17th century chapel<br />

Fondation Vasarely exhibits the optical<br />

illusion art of Hungarian-French artist Victor<br />

Vasarely who chose Aix to showcase his art<br />

due to his admiration for Cezanne. Vasarely’s<br />

work is big, bold and incredible.<br />

Eat out<br />

Feast on oysters fresh from the coast in<br />

Marseille, just 30 km away, nibble on<br />

lavender infused goats cheese, enjoy<br />

delicious salads flavoured with local olive oil<br />

and tapenade and sigh over sweet almond<br />

Calisons, a local speciality said to have been<br />

invented for Queen Jeanne, the wife of Good<br />

King René, in 1457. They are said to be the<br />

shape of her eyes!<br />

The king of calisson makers in Aix is the Le<br />

Roy René who’ve been making them for more<br />

than 100 years and whose calisson gift boxes<br />

feature La Rotonde, a fountain landmark in<br />

Aix. You can visit their fabulous museum and<br />

confectionary where they make calissons<br />

in every flavour from natural – almond and<br />

melon to lavender, chocolate and pistachio.<br />

The Fromagerie du Passage is tucked away<br />

down a secret passage at No. 55 Cours<br />

Mirabeau. Head to the terrace bar for a cool<br />

breeze on a hot night and a perfectly chilled<br />

glass of something delicious to wash down<br />

your plancha of tasty Corsican meats and<br />

some of the best cheeses you’ll ever try.<br />

and an ever growing collection of art dotted<br />

around the vineyards including a monumental<br />

meditation bell created by Paul Matisse, son<br />

of Henri Matisse.<br />

Book a tour: Aix has so many secret<br />

places and so much to discover.<br />

Book a tour at the tourist office by<br />

La Rotonde fountain.<br />

aixenprovencetourisme.com<br />

How to get there: Trains from Paris<br />

take just 3 hours. The station is around<br />

25 minutes’ drive from the city, you<br />

can take a bus for a few euros or taxi<br />

(expect to pay around 50 Euros).<br />

Where to stay: Hotel Nègre Coste<br />

overlooking the Cours Mirabeau, in the<br />

centre of action but perfectly tranquil<br />

and with comfy rooms, a spa, friendly<br />

staff and a lovely restaurant downstairs.<br />

La Rotonda is the biggest fountain in Aix and a symbol of the city<br />

And for a countryside treat, head to<br />

Chateau la Coste a dreamy vineyard with a<br />

hotel and five restaurants about 20 minutes’<br />

drive from the city. It has three art galleries<br />

Chateau la Coste<br />

12 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 13


France:<br />

Bordeaux<br />

Janine Marsh explores Bordeauxfrom<br />

the city to the vineyards…<br />

Bordeaux is a truly great city – rich<br />

in history, architecture, culture and<br />

gastronomy. Beyond the city, the region<br />

of Bordeaux is famous for its wines and<br />

vineyards, many of which lie along the<br />

rivers which made Bordeaux great. The<br />

half-moon sweep of the river Garonne<br />

in the city made for an ideal port and<br />

the Romans built a great trading centre<br />

here. Centuries later, the English made it<br />

a central trading port, shipping out vast<br />

quantities of wood, wool and local wines.<br />

In the mid 1700s, the governor of Bordeaux,<br />

the Marquis de Tourny did for Bordeaux<br />

what Haussmann was later to do for Paris<br />

– he regenerated the city. He knocked<br />

down the crumbling medieval houses and<br />

commissioned elegant buildings that faced<br />

the river and that area is now the largest<br />

urban UNESCO-listed world heritage site,<br />

encompassing some 1810 hectares. The Port<br />

of the Moon has been regenerated and the<br />

former warehouses transformed into shops,<br />

bars and restaurants. The quaysides are busy<br />

with runners, cyclists and walkers drawn to<br />

admire the Miroir d’Eau, a water sculpture in<br />

front of the impressive Place de la Bourse.<br />

Bordeaux has continued to evolve and<br />

develop. The city is a mix of old and<br />

new, glamour and avant-garde, wine and<br />

water. There are futuristic trams, stellar<br />

restaurants, wine bars and an ever growing<br />

number of museums and art venues. For<br />

visitors to Bordeaux there is so much to see<br />

and do, it’s hard to know where to start.<br />

Bordeaux for wine lovers<br />

Push the boat out and take a river cruise to<br />

see more of Bordeaux and discover some<br />

of the finest vineyards in existence.<br />

CroisiEurope are a French family-owned<br />

cruise company who run 5, 6 and 7 day<br />

river cruises from the Port of the Moon<br />

14 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 15

dip their sails in salute: “baisse-voile”, which<br />

became Beychevelle.<br />

The UNESCO-listed Vauban-built Citadel of<br />

Blaye is a big surprise in that it’s almost a secret<br />

and yet this mini-Carcassonne is extraordinarily<br />

beautiful and well-preserved, dominating the<br />

pretty town below. It has its own vineyards,<br />

shops and restaurants but it’s the gorgeous<br />

historic buildings that steal the show.<br />

In Bourg, wine is stored beneath the city in a<br />

maze of caves. It was once a busy port town<br />

but is now a sleepy place with wonderful views<br />

from the top of the town. If you’re feeling fit<br />

you can climb the 500 steps of the King’s<br />

staircase, named for Louis XIV who stayed in<br />

the upper town as a child and apparently liked<br />

to sneak down the stairs to the old town below.<br />

Blaye<br />

and back. Cruise along the Garonne, the<br />

Dordogne and the Gironde, western Europe’s<br />

largest estuary. You’ll pass fishing huts on stilts,<br />

birds of prey floating on the breeze, castles<br />

and vineyards that sweep down to the water,<br />

and riverside towns where you can explore the<br />

best of the region.<br />

You’ll enjoy wine tastings on board and in<br />

renowned wine domaines (there are no worries<br />

about being a designated driver). You’ll visit<br />

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

and beautiful towns and be spoiled rotten with<br />

fabulous 3 and 4-course meals with excellent<br />

at lunch and dinner.<br />

I joined the 5-day cruise to get to know some<br />

of the highlights of the city and the region…<br />

Highlights of the cruise<br />

In the mornings the ship sails and in the<br />

afternoons there are excellent excursions<br />

(guides speak English and French). It’s a<br />

laidback cruise at a relaxed pace.<br />

Tour the vineyards of Bordeaux and enjoy the<br />

stunning landscape punctuated by chateaux,<br />

Bassins des Lumières<br />

mansions, and pretty villages. Enjoy wine<br />

tastings at a famous domaine in the Medoc<br />

and stop off at the chateau de Beychevelle<br />

where rumour has it they cut the grass with<br />

scissors – it’s certainly pristine in a sort of<br />

Zen meets French parterre way. Ogling the<br />

gorgeous 18th century mansion and snooping<br />

in the garden is very satisfying! It was once<br />

the home of the Duc d’Eperon, Grand admiral<br />

of France and ships passing the estate would<br />

Saint-Émilion is also on the itinerary and when<br />

you go there, you have to do a wine tasting<br />

– it’s practically the law! First at a chateau<br />

and then in the picturesque, cobbled village<br />

of Saint- Émilion. The vineyards (as well as 8<br />

municipalities of Saint- Émilion) were the first to<br />

be listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site<br />

as ‘a remarkable example of a historic winegrowing<br />

landscape which has survived intact’<br />

You’ll also spend a whole day in Bordeaux,<br />

with a guided tour or free time. It’s a really<br />

fabulous way to get to know both the city and<br />

the surrounding area.<br />

Find out more:<br />

Croisieuroperivercruises.com<br />

There’s also a 5-day Christmas and a 5-day<br />

New Year cruise of Bordeaux<br />

For culture lovers<br />

There are some 21 museums and art galleries<br />

with themes including history, architecture<br />

and fine arts. One of the most well-known is<br />

the extraordinary Cité du Vin – dedicated to<br />

wine and housed in a swirly topped building<br />

that resembles wine being poured in a glass.<br />

The latest venue to open is the absolutely<br />

stunning Bassins des Lumières. It is the<br />

Bourg<br />

Saint-Émilion<br />

16 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 17

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largest digital art centre in the world and<br />

is housed in a Former German submarine<br />

base built between 1940-1943 to house<br />

multiple U-boats. This vast concrete space,<br />

constructed from 600,000 cubic metres<br />

of concrete, now hosts extraordinary and<br />

spectacular immersive exhibitions.<br />

More on what to see in Bordeaux<br />

This is a city<br />

for walking and<br />

admiring. Explore<br />

the old town with its<br />

Grosse Cloche, 13th<br />

century gate, the<br />

Place du Parlement<br />

created in 1754<br />

by Tourny, Porte<br />

Cailhau constructed<br />

in the late 1490s<br />

and the masterpiece<br />

of the neo-classic<br />

Porte Cailhau<br />

rebuild, the Grand-<br />

Theatre, whose spectacular staircase was the<br />

model for the Opera Garnier in Paris.<br />

For food lovers<br />

Darwin: Cross to the right bank to experience<br />

Darwin. A former military barracks turned<br />

eco-rehabilitated area with street art,<br />

performances and great places to eat out.<br />

Locals love: Le Bordeaux restaurant is<br />

popular not just with visitors but with<br />

locals, it’s part of the city’s history in its<br />

oh-so-memorable location opposite the<br />

Grand-Theatre. The Bordelais (people of<br />

Bordeaux) grow up knowing this restaurant,<br />

celebrating good times with dishes made to<br />

perfection…<br />

More on where to eat out in Bordeaux<br />

Bucket list Hotel: InterContinental<br />

Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel presides over<br />

Place de la Comédie and is plush and<br />

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Stay here and you actually might not<br />

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Bordeaux’s temptations are simply too<br />

irresistible. Indulge in the spa which has<br />

one of the most unusual and stunning pools<br />

I’ve ever seen – like swimming in your front<br />

room, complete with curtains and paintings!<br />

There’s a Michelin Starred Gordon Ramsay<br />

restaurant, Le Pressoir d’Argent, named<br />

after a pure silver lobster press created by<br />

renowned Maison Christofle. They actually<br />

use it in the restaurant if you order lobster.<br />

And you can enjoy a glass of Bordeaux’s<br />

finest wines on the stunning roof top bar<br />

overlooking the famous opera house. Find<br />

out more and book at:<br />

bordeaux.intercontinental.com<br />


Europe’s largest river<br />

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2208066_ap180x267_offre_loire_canaux_the_good_life_france.indd 1 01/09/<strong>2022</strong> 15:32<br />

18 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 19

Painting by the sea<br />

Normandy’s Alabaster Coast had a big<br />

impact on the Impressionist painters. Gillian<br />

Thornton took a scenic coastal drive to find<br />

out why.<br />

For a very small place, Veules-les-Roses packs<br />

a pretty picturesque punch with its period<br />

cottages and ancient watermills, seaside villas<br />

and sandy beach. And there are more clues<br />

in the name. Nestled in the wooded valley of<br />

the Veules, France’s shortest river, the narrow<br />

streets are splashed with the colour of roses<br />

during the summer months.<br />

Victor Hugo was a big fan of the village, coming<br />

here regularly in the late 19th century. One<br />

hundred and fifty years later, Veules-les-Roses<br />

is still popular, a gem of the Alabaster Coast<br />

and the only community in the Seine-Maritime<br />

department of Normandy that is classified<br />

amongst the Plus Beaux Villages de France.<br />

Stretching from Le Tréport in the north to Le<br />

Havre in the south, the dramatic coastline<br />

of Seine-Maritime earns its name – the Côte<br />

d’Albâtre – from the towering white chalk cliffs<br />

that dominate the undulating shoreline. The<br />

Impressionists loved a chalk cliff so as a big<br />

fan of their work, I’ve come to see for myself<br />

the landscapes they loved.<br />

Heading down by car from Calais, I cross from<br />

the Hauts-de-France region into Normandy<br />

at Le Tréport on the Bresle estuary. Walk the<br />

bustling quayside, relax on the beach, and<br />

take the funicular up the chalk cliffs to enjoy<br />

sweeping views over coast and countryside.<br />

I’m no painter but already I can understand<br />

why artists are captivated by the big skies and<br />

ever-changing light here.<br />

Don’t leave Le Tréport without taking a minidetour<br />

to Eu, a small inland town of just 7,000<br />

residents. Eu’s chateau was a favourite home<br />

of France’s last king, Louis Philippe, and it’s<br />

here that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert<br />

stayed in 1843 for the signing of the first<br />

Entente Cordiale, a diplomatic agreement<br />

between France and Great Britain. Louis-<br />

Philippe lived his final years in exile in England<br />

after being forced to abdicate in 1848, but<br />

his beautifully restored Norman mansion still<br />

20 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 21

Le Treport<br />

Dieppe<br />

boasts exquisite parquet floors, a priceless art<br />

collection, and extensive gardens. Nor was<br />

Victoria the only English monarch to make<br />

her mark on Eu. William of Normandy married<br />

Matilda of Flanders here in the Cathedral<br />

of Notre Dame, some 15 years before they<br />

became King and Queen of England in 1066.<br />

Back on the coast road, I stop in the bustling<br />

fishing port of Dieppe with its deep water<br />

harbour protected by those signature white<br />

cliffs. France’s first ever seaside resort, Dieppe<br />

became popular with Parisians from 1822,<br />

attracting the attention of Impressionists<br />

such as Camille Pissaro who painted the inner<br />

harbour in 1902. Look out for reproductions of<br />

Impressionist paintings all along the Alabaster<br />

Coast in the exact places where the artists<br />

placed their easels.<br />

Today Dieppe is classified as a French Art<br />

and History Town so I stop to learn about<br />

its seafaring and trading traditions, as well<br />

as its Impressionist connections at the<br />

museum in the hilltop castle. Just west of<br />

Dieppe is Varengeville-sur-Mer and the<br />

12th century church of St Valery, renowned<br />

Chateau of Eu, rear garden<br />

for its coastal views and sailors’ cemetery.<br />

Master Impressionist Claude Monet painted<br />

the exterior of St Valery from many angles, but<br />

look inside too. The Tree of Jesse stained glass<br />

window is the work of Georges Braque who<br />

died in 1963 and is buried in the churchyard.<br />

Beyond Veules-les-Roses, bustling with visitors<br />

on market day, I find another Valery, the<br />

pretty port of St-Valery-en-Caux with its<br />

small harbour nestled between high chalk<br />

cliffs. Then it’s on to the fishing port of<br />

Fécamp. Hardy fishermen in centuries past<br />

set off from Fécamp and Dieppe to fish for<br />

cod off Newfoundland. Discover their story at<br />

the excellent Fisheries Museum, housed in a<br />

converted fish-smoking and packing building<br />

beside the harbour.<br />

There are circular views from the seventh floor<br />

roof terrace, including a tantalising glimpse<br />

of the extraordinary Benedictine Palace in<br />

the heart of the old town. Benedictine liqueur<br />

was reputedly created in the 16th century by a<br />

Benedictine monk named Dom Bernado Vincelli,<br />

using a secret mix of 27 plants and spices.<br />

22 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 23

Monet 'at work' in Etretat Gardens<br />

Misty Monet morning, Etretat<br />

The formula was lost in the French Revolution<br />

but in 1863, local wine merchant Alexandre<br />

Le Grand found the recipe, recreated the<br />

drink, and commissioned a flamboyant<br />

turreted mansion in its honour. A combination<br />

of museum and art gallery, it holds the<br />

distinction of being the world’s only distillery<br />

for Benedictine liqueur.<br />

Le Grand’s art collection spans sacred to<br />

modern art and is as eclectic as the building<br />

he commissioned.<br />

Every new coastal view reminds me why the<br />

Impressionist painters were so enamoured<br />

of Normandy’s light and landscape. But the<br />

place I most want to see with my own eyes<br />

is Etretat with its famous rock arch attached<br />

to the Aval cliff. I’m thrilled to catch a distant<br />

view over a sunset aperitif in the garden of<br />

the Domaine de Saint-Clair hotel just outside<br />

town, however I’m gutted next morning to<br />

wake to thick sea mist. Despite the June<br />

heatwave, Monet’s iconic subject is barely<br />

visible, even from the beach.<br />

But after my initial disappointment I console<br />

myself with the thought that Monet loved<br />

to capture changing weather conditions. If<br />

I look on this as a Moody Monet Moment,<br />

50 Shades of Grey suddenly takes on a very<br />

different connotation!<br />

As the sun burns off the morning mist, I head<br />

up to the Amont cliff to visit the magical<br />

Etretat Gardens, an extraordinary topiary<br />

garden which includes – no surprise here – a<br />

reproduction in wicker of Monet at work,<br />

complete with palette and easel.<br />

My final stop on the Alabaster Coast is<br />

somewhere I’ve never really wanted to go,<br />

but feel I really should. Le Havre. This busy<br />

commercial port at the mouth of the Seine<br />

was bombed to near oblivion during World<br />

War II, leaving 80,000 homeless, so little<br />

remains of the original town. It was also the<br />

accidental birthplace of Impressionism<br />

in 1872 when Claude Monet painted a<br />

shadowy picture entitled ‘Impression. Sunrise’,<br />

dubbed by a disparaging art critic<br />

as Impressionism.<br />

Thanks to the vision of celebrated<br />

architect August Perret and his team, Le<br />

Havre was rebuilt in the 1950s with broad<br />

avenues, public open spaces, and concrete<br />

apartment blocks. But despite the city’s<br />

UNESCO World Heritage status, I’ve never<br />

had any great desire to see it. Big mistake.<br />

The innovative period design turns out to<br />

be far more attractive than I imagined.<br />

Don’t miss the church of St Joseph, Perret’s<br />

masterpiece, nor the Perret Show Flat, full<br />

of 1950’s nostalgia.<br />

But the real treat for me is MuMa – the<br />

Museum of Modern Art André Malraux<br />

– which houses the second-largest<br />

Impressionist collection outside Paris.<br />

The young Monet was encouraged by<br />

established artist Eugène Boudin from<br />

nearby Honfleur, widely considered as<br />

the ‘master of skies’ for his seascapes with<br />

racing clouds and wide horizons. Boudin<br />

Eglise Saint-Joseph ®Ludovic Maisant<br />

24 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 25

Fecamp, Palais Benedictine<br />

never considered himself an Impressionist<br />

but he takes his rightful place here in Le<br />

Havre’s glorious quayside museum alongside<br />

Monet and his contemporaries.<br />

Thanks to those pioneer painters, art lovers<br />

all over the world have discovered the<br />

beauty of Normandy’s Alabaster Coast. See<br />

it with your own eyes however, and you might<br />

just find yourself reaching for the paintbox!<br />

Alabaster Coast<br />

Getting there<br />

Sail direct to Normandy with DFDS<br />

(Newhaven-Dieppe) and Brittany Ferries<br />

(Portsmouth to Le Havre and Caen-<br />

Ouistreham); take the short ferry crossing<br />

from Dover to Calais with DFDS or P&O; or<br />

the fast undersea rail route with Eurotunnel<br />

from Folkestone to Calais. Le Havre is just<br />

over 2 hours by train from Paris St Lazare.<br />

For visitor information, see<br />

seine-maritime-tourism.com<br />

26 | | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 27

DIJON<br />

the new French capital of gastronomy<br />

When presented with good food and wine,<br />

the French are apt to break out into song says<br />

Janine Marsh.<br />

Ban Bourguignon may sound like a robust<br />

chicken casserole flavoured with red wine but in<br />

fact it’s an anthem, a catchy ode that celebrates<br />

the French lifestyle. The words go ‘La – La la –<br />

La la la lère – La la – La la – La la la la la’. It’s<br />

a tuneful round of applause sung in honour of<br />

a superb dish or a sumptuous glass of vin, with<br />

hands raised above the head – twisting, turning<br />

and clapping in time to the rhythm.<br />

It’s said the song was born in a bar in Dijon<br />

in 1905, the capital of Burgundy, a part of<br />

France that has a reputation for the very best<br />

in French cuisine and wine.<br />

Well, the proof is in the pudding – and<br />

you’ll find it at the Cité International de la<br />

Gastronomie et du Vin in Dijon.<br />

It’s a bit of a mouthful, and it may sound<br />

rather a dry title but I promise you this<br />

landmark destination which opened in May<br />

<strong>2022</strong>, is anything but.<br />

UNESCO added the “Gastronomic meal<br />

of the French” to their Intangible Cultural<br />

Heritage list in 2010. The accolade recognises<br />

a thousand-year-old tradition of preparing<br />

good food that includes making everyday<br />

meals a celebration. The French Government<br />

decided to create a venue to showcase and<br />

promote French gastronomy and wine, and<br />

Dijon was chosen. It has form. UNESCOlisted<br />

vineyards, boeuf bourgignon, gougères<br />

– and in Dijon library there’s even a specialist<br />

collection of food books and menus, more<br />

than 30,000 of them.<br />

Homage to gastronomy<br />

The Cité de la Gastronomie et du Vin is on<br />

the site of an abandoned hospital built in<br />

1204 along the old Roman road – it has been<br />

a landmark for visitors for centuries and now<br />

is a landmark for gastronomy. The ancient<br />

buildings have been restored and rejuvenated<br />

and additional architecturally fabulous<br />

buildings created for this foodie city within a<br />

28 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 29

city. You’ll find a monumental exhibition space<br />

dedicated to the food and wine of France<br />

and around the world, with inventive and<br />

interactive displays, films, whimsical patisserie<br />

showcases, cakes that look like they were<br />

made for the land of the giants, team games<br />

involving virtual cooking sessions, rooms set<br />

out like dining rooms and kitchens and a<br />

former chapel dedicated to the UNESCOlisted<br />

“Climats” the winegrowing vineyards<br />

of Burgundy. Theatrical, flamboyant and<br />

fascinating.<br />

Did you know that at 12.30 each day – around<br />

50% of the entire French population will<br />

be sitting at a table to eat lunch?! You’ll<br />

certainly learn that the French are a nation of<br />

epicureans who know how to make a meal of<br />

it when it comes to cooking, and that French<br />

gastronomy truly deserves its UNESCO listing.<br />

And that’s not all you’ll find – not by a long<br />

way. In this grand homage to the culture of<br />

food – there’s more…<br />

Gastronomic village<br />

Themed stores that showcase the best<br />

of France including cheese, mustard,<br />

charcuterie, seafood, chocolate, bread,<br />

cakes and more can be found in this brand<br />

new gastro-village. Many of the shops have<br />

cooking stations, you choose your food<br />

inside, they’ll cook it for you there and then<br />

– and you can sit and enjoy it in a superb<br />

setting.<br />

There are pop-up bistros, the Experiential<br />

Kitchen holds masterclasses with guest chefs,<br />

cooking lessons, tasting sessions, cocktail<br />

workshops, ‘battle of the chef’ sessions and<br />

a fabulous rooftop terrace where barbecue<br />

classes are held.<br />

There are also pop up “Degustations” –<br />

tasting stalls. When I was there Thierry<br />

Marx’s team (yes THE Thierry Marx, the two<br />

Michelin Starred chef who is one of the most<br />

celebrated chefs in France) were there giving<br />

away samples of his divine breads and cakes.<br />

And when it comes to wine, the Cave de la<br />

Cité is in a league of its own. Three floors<br />

form a sort of ‘wine library’, 3000 bottles of<br />

wine, 250 of them sold by the glass. They<br />

range from a few Euros to a lot more when<br />

you descend to the Cave des Grand Crus.<br />

Here they have some of the most expensive<br />

wines in the world – up to a whopping 3000<br />

Euros a bottle – the sort of wines most of<br />

us will never be able to sip (unless we’re<br />

on Government expenses). For instance, I<br />

spotted a 2017 Musigny, a Burgundian red<br />

that will set you back up to 2000 euros a<br />

bottle, but here you can have a taste for a<br />

mere 65 Euros for a (small) glass.<br />

There’s also the Ferrandi Paris School of<br />

Culinary Arts, the Harvard of Gastronomy,<br />

where they teach lessons in English. There<br />

are fabulous tableware shops. And there’s a<br />

Centre of Heritage and Architecture called<br />

30 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 31

1204 which covers the history of Dijon over<br />

the centuries.<br />

A truly scrumptious tribute to glorious gallic<br />

gastronomy.<br />

Cite de la Gastronomie and du Vin<br />

How to get there: Trains from Paris to Dijon<br />

takes 1 hour 34 minutes.<br />

Where to eat: In a city in which gastronomy<br />

is revered, it’s hard to know where to go for<br />

a great meal, unless you have friends who<br />

are prepared to share their tips. I do – and<br />

now you do, beause I’m happy to tell you my<br />

favourite restaurant in Dijon. L’Essentiel is<br />

superb.<br />

Chef Richard Bernigaud creates seasonal<br />

dishes that are on another level on the<br />

tastebud scale. The portions are generous,<br />

the staff are friendly, the food is superb. I<br />

had melon gazpacho as a starter that I won’t<br />

forget in a hurry – zesty and zingy. The menu<br />

is created for the season and guaranteed to<br />

appeal to your inner glutton.<br />

L’Essentiel, 12 Rue Audra, 21000 Dijon<br />

Where to stay: Vertigo Hotel and Spa, a<br />

super designer style hotel in the heart of<br />

Dijon from where it’s a short walk to the<br />

Cité de la Gastronomie et du Vin via the<br />

gorgeous public park.<br />

Dijon tourist office<br />

32 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 33

A photo guide<br />

to lavender<br />

in Provence<br />

Uncover the beauty of Provence with<br />

Jeremy Flint’s guide to the best places to<br />

photograph the lavender fields in the region<br />

34 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 35

Nestled in a picturesque corner of the<br />

South of France that borders Italy and the<br />

Mediterranean sea, Provence is a truly<br />

delightful place that attracts visitors with its<br />

warm sunny climate, great gastronomy and<br />

scenic lavender fields. The lavender fields<br />

have become an icon of the area and are<br />

now a tourist attraction in their own right,<br />

drawing visitors from all corners of the globe.<br />

Every June and July, the region is ablaze with<br />

fragrant lavender fields where swathes of<br />

purple carpet the fields as far as the eye can<br />

see. The captivating beauty of the lavender<br />

fields makes Provence a photographer’s<br />

paradise and a popular region to visit during<br />

the summer.<br />

In this rural, idyllic region of diverse<br />

landscapes and stunning hilltop villages, the<br />

lavender fields take centre stage. Lavender<br />

has been an important crop for the people<br />

of Provence for centuries where much of<br />

the lavender is distilled for essential oil and<br />

fragrant water. The plants are also dried<br />

and added to scented objects such as soap,<br />

perfume, honey, tea, ice cream, scented<br />

packages and natural cosmetics.<br />

There are many wonderful locations to visit in<br />

Provence, this guide highlights the best places<br />

to see and capture the most impressive sights<br />

and the most spectacular lavender fields.<br />

The road from Valensole to Manosque<br />

provides some of the best photo viewing spots<br />

as many rows of lavender come into view.<br />

There are some wonderful scenes to shoot and<br />

the lavender farms of Lavandes Anglevin and<br />

Terraroma are great to visit too.<br />

Another great spot for capturing the<br />

blossoming lavender is along the road heading<br />

north-east from Valensole where an old stone<br />

building can be found. The structure looks<br />

great surrounded by the flowing lavender<br />

and mountains. Follow the road all the way<br />

to Puimoisson where during summer you will<br />

find even more lavender fields. The flowers in<br />

full bloom can be a magical spectacle and<br />

are incredible to witness, especially as the sun<br />

casts its rays on the scene and the play of light<br />

transforms the sea of purple.<br />

The Luberon<br />

Besides Valensole, you will find a variety of<br />

other attractive lavender fields in Provence.<br />

The Luberon Massif named after a mountain<br />

range that runs east-west between Cavaillon<br />

and Manosque is a Provencal patchwork of<br />

miles of fragrant lavender fields, hilltop villages,<br />

vineyards and ancient abbeys. The spectacular<br />

natural park covers some 600 square<br />

kilometres where the best lavender fields can<br />

be viewed from Avignon towards Gordes.<br />

Near Gordes the Abbaye Notre-Dame de<br />

Senanque offers an iconic lavender scene.<br />

Built in the 12th century, the Abbey is a<br />

sublime example of the region’s architecture<br />

set in a stunning woodland valley. The graceful<br />

Cistercian Abbey makes a magnificent<br />

backdrop to the lines of lavender grown and<br />

harvested by the resident monks. Aim to<br />

arrive morning or late in the day to avoid the<br />

crowds of tourists and combine your visit with<br />

a wonderful trip inside the abbey’s cloistered<br />

interior whilst marvelling at the incredible<br />

lavender that surround its grounds.<br />

Gordes itself makes for a fantastic scene<br />

as the spectacular hilltop village juts out of<br />

the white-rock face of the Vaucluse plateau.<br />

The medieval village is another of Provence’s<br />

quintessential sights that rears up high on the<br />

slopes with a labyrinth of winding roads and<br />

cobblestone paths at its core.<br />

Pays de Sault<br />

Directly north of the Luberon natural park, the<br />

Pays de Sault is a great place to see lavender<br />

without the crowds and heat of Valensole.<br />

Attractive villages and beehive shaped bories<br />

(traditional dry-stone structures) blend perfectly<br />

with the lavender fields. Nearby the area<br />

around Apt and the valley at the foot of Mount<br />

Ventoux offer colourful shades of purple.<br />

Verdon Gorge ©Kylie Russel<br />

Valensole<br />

Other sights<br />

The Plateau of Valensole<br />

Verdon Gorge<br />

Situated in the heart of Provence, the plateau<br />

of Valensole has picture-postcard views of<br />

lavender fields at every turn, providing some<br />

of the most beautiful landscapes in Haute<br />

Provence. It is simply the stuff of dreams and<br />

an area that has captured the imagination of<br />

artists and photographers for years. Situated<br />

at an altitude of 500 metres in the south of<br />

the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence between the<br />

Luberon and the gorgeous Gorge du Verdon,<br />

Valensole is dedicated to the cultivation of<br />

lavender. Rich in luxuriant lavender fields,<br />

their sight and smell is truly enchanting and<br />

worth exploring.<br />

Abbaye Notre Dame de Senanque © Tatiana Košťanová<br />

Mont Ventoux © Michel Bergier<br />

Beyond the lavender fields, other highlights of<br />

the region include the gorgeous gorges and<br />

canyons. Few sights match the impressive<br />

Gorges du Verdon, also known as the Grand<br />

Canyon of Europe with its jaw dropping<br />

beauty. Situated in the Verdon natural park,<br />

it is a haven for adventure seekers with its<br />

incredible views of the plunging gorge to<br />

the Verdon river snaking 600 metres below.<br />

Hikers, bikers and rock climbers seek out<br />

the best trails and craggy mountain peaks<br />

to summit whilst thrill seekers find solace<br />

canoeing on the water as birds of prey<br />

including vultures circle overhead.<br />

36 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 37

Lavender harvest Plateau de Valensole<br />

Valensole<br />

The town of Valensole is a great place to<br />

visit and makes an ideal base to explore the<br />

lavender fields. Its lively weekly market is<br />

packed with stalls selling local specialities<br />

including olive oil, honey and lavender. There<br />

is also a wonderful old fountain and array of<br />

shops, restaurants and cafés in the centre well<br />

worth visiting.<br />

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie<br />

Rougon and Moustiers-<br />

Sainte-Marie<br />

Don’t miss the spectacular hill-top villages<br />

synonymous with the area. The picturesqu<br />

hilltop village of Rougon offers charming<br />

buildings and commanding vistas of the<br />

Gorges du Verdon snaking off into the<br />

distance whilst Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is one<br />

of the region’s most beautiful villages, founded<br />

by monks,it dates back to the 5th century.<br />

Getting there<br />

The lavender fields of Provence are best<br />

explored by car as the locations are some<br />

distance apart. There is a fast TGV train<br />

from Paris to Avignon, and airports at<br />

Avignon, Nimes and Marseille from where<br />

you can hire a car. Or take a guided tour,<br />

recommended: Your Private Provence:<br />

small group tailored tours<br />

Your Private Chauffeur Provence:<br />

bespoke tours<br />

Ophorus for shore excursions, half-day<br />

and day trips<br />

38 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 39

Le weekend in:<br />


Ouistreham in the apple-growing department of Calvados in<br />

Normandy, is steeped in history and has a jolly seaside air to it.<br />

It’s a great place to stroll with a long promenade, a fabulous<br />

fish market and a charming town says Janine Marsh…<br />

Ouistreham’s Riva-Bella beach is a listed<br />

seaside resort known as the ‘Pearl of the Côte<br />

de Nacre’ (mother of pearl coast). It has an air<br />

of yesteryear with its endless stretch of sandy<br />

beaches along the English Channel, beautiful<br />

Belle Epoque and Art Deco villas, little<br />

wooden bathing cabins and gently sloping<br />

beach.<br />

Made popular by Parisians at the end of the<br />

19th century, with the train journey taking<br />

just 6 hours, it took its name from the first<br />

beautiful villa built there. In 1866 a Monsieur<br />

Longpré built a house at no. 53 rue Pasteur, he<br />

called it Belle Rive. When his friend, a painter,<br />

came to stay, he found the sunsets on the<br />

coast were as beautiful as those he had seen<br />

on his travels in Italy and he nicknamed the<br />

villa ‘Riva Bella’. Many more architecturally<br />

stunning houses were built here (if you play<br />

Sims World, you might spot a Ouistreham villa<br />

on the vacation home list!) and it reminds me<br />

of its glamorous neighbour Deauville though<br />

Ouistreham is smaller, more tranquil and less<br />

celebrated. It does though, like Deauville,<br />

have a casino. It’s a great base for visiting this<br />

area of Normandy and makes for an ideal<br />

weekend getaway.<br />

Ouistreham is a great place to stroll and<br />

take in the fresh air. The seaside walkway<br />

from Lion-sur-Mer to Hermanville-sur-Mer,<br />

follows the route of the Via Turonensi, part<br />

of the Santiago de Compostela. The walk is<br />

lined with many lovely houses dating from the<br />

Second Empire – the regime of Napoleon III,<br />

whose legacy is also present in the canal he<br />

commissioned which connects Caen marina<br />

to Ouistreham.<br />

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The Good Life France | 41

There are fabulous views from Ouistreham<br />

Lighthouse if you climb the 171 granite steps<br />

to the top. Look over Ouistreham’s bijou ferry<br />

port and on a clear day you can see as far as<br />

Mont-Saint-Michel. You’ll also have panoramic<br />

views over the coastline and historic Sword<br />

Beach, the most easterly of the D-Day landing<br />

beaches and the only beach where French<br />

forces took part on 6 June 1944, forces, led by<br />

Commando Philippe Keifer, took part on<br />

4 June 1944. .<br />

Traces of the past can be seen in many places<br />

in and around Ouistreham, with the famous<br />

Pegasus Bridge just 10 minutes away by car.<br />

Memorials abound, including one in honour<br />

of Piper Bill Millin, the soldier who landed on<br />

Sword Beach playing the bagpipes. Le Grand<br />

Bunker, a former German command post is<br />

now a fascinating museum and listed historic<br />

monument. The Musée du Debarquement no.<br />

4 (No. 4 Commando Museum) preserves the<br />

memory of the 1st Battalion of Naval Fusiliers,<br />

set up by Commander Philippe Kieffer which,<br />

incorporated in the British No 4 Commando,<br />

was the only French unit to take part in the<br />

Normandy landings. The Hillman Site was one<br />

of the biggest German command posts during<br />

WWII and in the summer months, ‘Friends of<br />

the Suffolk Regiment’ Association are on site<br />

to tell stories of the past.<br />

Take an audio guided tour called La Délicate<br />

– Ouistreham an unusual format as the guide<br />

is contained in an umbrella! The tour takes in<br />

the beaches and streets of Ouistreham and<br />

tells the history of the town through stories<br />

and memories of those who lived here. Or<br />

take a bike ride! There are several cycle routes<br />

including along the canal to Caen, and the<br />

route of the Vélo Francette which begins in La<br />

Rochelle and ends in Ouistreham.<br />

A daily fish market is held in Ouistreham.<br />

Friendly stall holders pile up the day's haul<br />

including the most delicious scallops – which<br />

this area is famous for. Enjoy the freshest fish<br />

dishes in the many restaurants and brasseries,<br />

washed down with local cider and finish with<br />

salted caramel. Try La Table d’Hôtes where<br />

Chef Yoann serves creative, seasonal dishes,<br />

or push the boat out at La Voile Blanche<br />

overlooking the sea.<br />

This is also a great area for nature lovers.<br />

To the east of Ouistreham Riva-Bella, is the<br />

Pointe du Siège and Orne estuary, the largest<br />

nature area in Calvados. Dunes, marshes, salt<br />

meadows and forests are home to many wild<br />

birds and seals.<br />

Info: Tourist office website<br />

How to get there: Caen ferry port is in<br />

Ouistreham (15km from Caen) and ferries<br />

run from/to Portsmouth. The nearest train<br />

station is Caen and buses run regularly<br />

between the two towns.<br />

42 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 43

British NORMANDY<br />


Gillian Thornton visits the latest remembrance site<br />

to open along the D-Day landing beaches<br />

Walking amongst the white stone columns<br />

of the British Normandy Memorial on a<br />

stunning blue-sky day, I can’t help feeling that<br />

my father would have thoroughly approved.<br />

In June 1944, the 20-year-old farmer’s son<br />

landed at Sword Beach as part of the D-Day<br />

landings that kick-started the liberation of<br />

France. He had never been out of England<br />

before and he wasn’t to see home again for<br />

nearly three years.<br />

They were difficult years but at least my father<br />

came back. He resumed his legal training,<br />

met my mum, and together they worked hard<br />

to build a future and a family together. Fast<br />

forward to my teens and we enjoyed many<br />

holiday road trips round France, but we never<br />

went to Normandy. Maybe there were just too<br />

many memories for a conscripted ex-soldier.<br />

But strolling around the tranquil cliff-top site<br />

at Ver-sur-Mer with its sweeping views over<br />

land and sea, I know my dad would have loved<br />

this stunningly beautiful commemoration<br />

of the comrades he left behind. He rarely<br />

showed emotion but my father was moved to<br />

44 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 45

tears by the television coverage of the 70th<br />

anniversary of D-Day in 2014. A month later,<br />

he slipped quietly away aged 90, perhaps to<br />

meet up with some of those who never caught<br />

the troop carrier home.<br />

For many years, families of Allied soldiers have<br />

been able to visit memorials, museums and<br />

beaches on the Normandy coastline in the<br />

footsteps of relatives who fought for freedom<br />

in Europe. But only now is there a memorial<br />

to the British soldiers who didn’t return from<br />

the conflict, a spot where relatives can see the<br />

names of lost family members inscribed for<br />

posterity.<br />

The campaign for the British Normandy<br />

Memorial began in 2015 when D-Day<br />

veteran George Batts, formerly of the Royal<br />

Engineers, pointed out to BBC broadcaster<br />

Nicholas Witchell that no national memorial<br />

in Normandy recorded the names of all those<br />

under British command who had died on<br />

D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.<br />

As a result, the Normandy Memorial Trust was<br />

established and the project began to move<br />

forward.<br />

In March 2017, the British government<br />

pledged £20 million towards the construction<br />

of the Memorial on farmland overlooking the<br />

shoreline codenamed Gold Beach. The site<br />

was formally inaugurated on 6 June 2019 in<br />

the presence of then British Prime Minster<br />

Theresa May and French President Emmanuel<br />

Macron, and construction work began soon<br />

afterwards. Despite delays due to the Covid<br />

pandemic, the Memorial was officially opened<br />

by video link by HRH The Prince of Wales on 6<br />

June 2021.<br />

Carved on 160 stone columns are the names<br />

of 22,442 individuals – British personnel<br />

and other nationalities serving British units<br />

– whose lives were lost in the Normandy<br />

campaign. Also included are members of the<br />

RAF who supported the mission, and secret<br />

agents and Special Forces personnel working<br />

behind enemy lines. Names are listed in<br />

chronological order of death, day-by-day, and<br />

grouped by branches of the armed forces. This<br />

huge undertaking was greatly aided by the<br />

Commonwealth War Graves Commission and<br />

supplemented by other military institutions<br />

and individuals.<br />

But you don’t need a family connection<br />

to enjoy a visit to this special place which<br />

is easily reached by car, midway between<br />

Bayeux and Caen. Buses also run from both<br />

towns, except on Sundays, stopping outside<br />

the Memorial gate. Admission is free with just<br />

a 3€ parking charge that goes towards the<br />

upkeep of the site. Visitors will find toilets at<br />

the entrance and a picnic area near the car<br />

park, but no visitor centre, no shop, no guides,<br />

and no cafe. Nothing that detracts from the<br />

tranquillity and beauty of the site. If you need<br />

snacks, the village shops are just five minutes’<br />

walk away.<br />

Access to the Memorial is via a level gravel<br />

path, suitable for wheelchairs and walking<br />

aids – expect an 8-10 minute walk from the<br />

car park. Along the way, stone information<br />

panels are carved with the story of the D-Day<br />

landings, English on one side, French on the<br />

other.<br />

As the Memorial came into view, my first<br />

thought was ‘Stonehenge beside the sea’, its<br />

uniform stone columns topped with a lattice<br />

of timber. The full beauty of the design doesn’t<br />

hit you until you get close and can see the<br />

layout, a rectangle criss-crossed by paths in<br />

the shape of a Union Jack, which flies on a<br />

tall flagpole at the centre beside the French<br />

tricolore.<br />

46 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 47

More flags fly on the grass between the<br />

columns and the natural meadow that<br />

overlooks the sea, ablaze with a Monet palette<br />

of wildflowers during my June visit. I stopped<br />

to take in the dramatic sculpture of three<br />

soldiers ‘running’ in from the beach, an iconic<br />

moment frozen in time that could so easily<br />

have shown my dad.<br />

Then I crossed the grass for a close up view<br />

of the five wrought iron panels designed<br />

by sculptor Charles Bergen, each one<br />

pointing towards a D-Day landing beach<br />

and illustrating key elements from the battle<br />

– the British soldiers at Sword beach to the<br />

east and here at Gold; the Canadian assault<br />

between the British beaches at Juno; and to<br />

the west, the American targets at Omaha<br />

and distant Utah. On such a clear day, the<br />

floating Mulberry harbours at neighbouring<br />

Arromanches were clearly visible, and<br />

beyond them, the headland of Pointe du Hoc<br />

pinpointed the beaches of Omaha and Utah,<br />

a unique and moving panorama.<br />

Turning my back on the waves that brought<br />

the Allied troops to France, I stopped by the<br />

tablet commemorating the many French<br />

civilians who also died in the summer of 1944<br />

in Normandy. And to read the stirring words<br />

spoken as the assault began – the D-Day<br />

broadcast by King George VI, the address by<br />

General de Gaulle on BBC Radio, and the<br />

speech by Sir Winston Churchill.<br />

This Memorial may be long overdue but it’s<br />

a fitting tribute to all those young men who<br />

sacrificed their futures in France. A real mustsee<br />

on this beautiful stretch of Calvados<br />

coastline.<br />

Further information from<br />

britishnormandymemorial.org<br />

For tourist information on Calvados, visit<br />

calvados-tourisme.co.uk<br />

For the best battlefield and memorial tours of<br />

Normandy see sophiesgreatwartours.com<br />

48 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 49

In the heart of the Hérault Gorges, in the Val de Gellone, just 40km from Montpellier,<br />

you’ll find, wedged into a narrow valley, the tiny medieval village of Saint-Guilhemle-Désert.<br />

Janine Marsh visits the fairy tale pretty town…<br />


Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert<br />

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is best approached<br />

from the winding road of the Grand Chemin<br />

Val de Gellone which gives you stupendous<br />

views of the town which sits atop a hill, and<br />

leave via the main street on the far side of the<br />

town, lined with boutiques, bistros and artisan<br />

workshops.<br />

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is a Plus Beaux<br />

Village de France (an official classification for<br />

the prettiest villages in France). In the centre,<br />

the main square is home to an imposing plane<br />

tree. Over 150 years old, it’s said to be the<br />

biggest plane tree in France. All around it,<br />

tables and chairs sprawl out from the cafés<br />

that line the square, the perfect place to sip<br />

chilled wine and nibble on olives as you listen<br />

to the cicadas sing.<br />

On one edge of the square sits the Abbey<br />

of Gellone, one of the oldest Romanesque<br />

churches in France and a UNESCO World<br />

Heritage Site on the Camino de Santiago<br />

(Way of St James) pilgrim route.<br />

The abbey was founded in 804 by Guilhem,<br />

Count of Toulouse. When he moved to this<br />

remote location, his cousin the great Emperor<br />

Charlemagne, gave him what was said to<br />

be a relic of the Holy Cross which made the<br />

abbey an important stop for pilgrims. The wellpreserved<br />

abbey has an air of serenity to it,<br />

and there is a small museum behind the cool<br />

cloisters.<br />

Guilhem made the town famous by defeating<br />

a giant who took up residence in the ruins of<br />

the town’s castle, accompanied by a magpie.<br />

The terrified locals asked Guilhem to help<br />

rid them of the giant. Guilhem dressed as a<br />

maid and, hiding his sword, set out to trick the<br />

beast. But he was recognised by the magpie<br />

who flew off to warn his mate. Sure of his<br />

superiority, the giant ignored the magpie and<br />

fought with the ‘maid’ who of course won, and<br />

Guilhem threw his opponent off a cliff. The<br />

locals claim that though many wild birds live in<br />

the area – no-one has ever seen a magpie in<br />

Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert since that day!<br />

Around the abbey a warren of narrow cobbled<br />

winding alleys spread up and down the hilly<br />

town. As you wander, you’ll pass the 12th<br />

century Tour des Prisons. Along the streets,<br />

water trickles from ancient fountains, some<br />

50 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 51

of them decorated with scallop shells, the<br />

pilgrims emblem, and picturesque ancient<br />

houses lean against each under their sunbaked<br />

tiled roofs.<br />

Despite the name, you won’t see a desert,<br />

the name comes from the fact that not many<br />

people lived there centuries ago. Today it<br />

gets rather more crowded, especially in peak<br />

summer months, though it barely has more<br />

than 250 permanent residents.<br />

Step back in time<br />

A stone’s throw from the village you’ll find<br />

another incredible monument – the medieval<br />

Pont du Diable which arches high above a<br />

steep gorge. Legend has it that yet again<br />

Guilhem was the hero. The bridge was taking<br />

so long to build that Guilhem did a deal<br />

with the devil who agreed to get the job<br />

done in return for the first soul to cross after<br />

completion. Guilhem sent a dog across and<br />

the devil, in a fit of pique tried to destroy the<br />

bridge and fell into the gorge below which<br />

became known as the Gouffre Noir (the black<br />

abyss). To this day, pilgrims and locals crossing<br />

the bridge throw a stone into the gorge – to<br />

keep the devil on the bottom!<br />

Embedded in the hills are the remains of a<br />

Visigoth fortress and an old mule path, trod for<br />

centuries by pilgrims and today part of a hike<br />

that begins at the edge of the village on the<br />

rue du Bout-du-Monde - the street of the end<br />

of the world. And you can take a detour to visit<br />

the ruins of the Giant’s castle, a very peaceful<br />

spot with fabulous views.<br />

Janine Marsh visited Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert<br />

whilst on a CroisiEurope Rhone River tour<br />

from Sète to Arles, which includes excursions<br />

of the most iconic destinations en route.<br />

Azincourt1415.com<br />

24 Rue Charles VI<br />

62310 Azincourt<br />

and discover the past at<br />

Azincourt 1415 historic centre<br />

52 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 53

Wine adventure in<br />

Janine Marsh traces the route of one of the most popular films ever made in France –<br />

to Beaune, wine country extraordinaire…<br />

BEAUNE<br />

If you’ve ever wondered where French people<br />

go on holiday in France, the simple answer<br />

is – all over the country, it’s got such a varied<br />

offering, there really is something to suit<br />

everyone. I can also tell you that many French<br />

people dream of visiting Beaune in Burgundy.<br />

For the wine, the glorious countryside, history<br />

and culture and for another reason that is<br />

largely unknown outside of France. Beaune<br />

stars in one of France’s most popular films:<br />

La Grande Vadrouille (vadrouille means to<br />

gad about or gallivant). It’s a comedy that<br />

follows the fortunes of some hapless British<br />

Airmen (including the moustachioed English<br />

actor Terry Thomas) dropped over Paris by<br />

parachute during World War II. They lose<br />

their way and are aided by a workman, the<br />

conductor of the Paris orchestra and a pretty<br />

Parisienne puppeteer. Eventually they escape<br />

to Burgundy where a nun from the famous<br />

Hospices de Beaune joins the gang. The film<br />

was released in 1966, and it’s said that the<br />

entire population of France over the age of 16<br />

have watched it at least once!<br />

Trace the footsteps of the film’s stars in the<br />

Côte d’Or department, and enroute discover<br />

the most authentic, beautiful and delicious<br />

parts of Beaune and its surroundings. This<br />

is an unspoiled area, perfect for a road trip,<br />

where the folk are friendly, the food is fabulous<br />

and the wine is exquisite – and there are many<br />

surprises…<br />

The Petite Vadrouille<br />

I joined a Petite Vadrouille tour which kicked<br />

off at the Hospices de Beaune, the famous<br />

former hospital for the poor in the heart of the<br />

city. Founded in 1443, nursing was provided by<br />

nuns called the Hospitalier Soeurs de Beaune.<br />

The tour included an exquisite dinner in the<br />

King’s Room, originally a bedroom created<br />

for Louis XIV. He visited the Hospital in 1658,<br />

Hospices de Beaune © Joux Agence RPEvents<br />

54 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 55

Hospices de Beaune<br />

Wine bike © C Lorch Agence RP Events<br />

The King's Room, Hospices de Beaune<br />

but didn’t sleep here, instead he headed to<br />

what is now the Hotel le Cep just around the<br />

corner. The “sisters” were there to join the party<br />

complete with authentic coifs – their famous<br />

wing-like headwear. In the film, it was here in<br />

the distinctive ancient hospital beds that the<br />

fugitive airmen hid in plain sight. The Hospices<br />

looks much as it did 600 years ago, a glittering<br />

tiled roof you can only see from the vast<br />

courtyard, gargoyles hanging from the historic<br />

wooden ceilings, stunning artworks, religious<br />

artefacts, an ancient kitchen and pharmacy.<br />

10km away, a major part of the film took<br />

place in the charming town of Meursault. The<br />

townsfolk are proud of the old fashioned fire<br />

engine that appeared in the film and it is now<br />

displayed in a showcase outside the chateaulike<br />

town hall!<br />

UNESCO-listed vineyards<br />

This whole area is in the heart of the<br />

UNESCO-listed vineyards of the Côte d’Or<br />

known as the Climats of Burgundy. The<br />

Climats are a series of 1247 plots of land that<br />

form a ribbon of vineyards which run about<br />

60km from the gastronomic city of Dijon to<br />

the south of Beaune, where there is a Maison<br />

des Climats exhibition centre.<br />

Alterpiece, Hospices de Beaune, The Last Judgement, Rogier van der Weyden circa 1450<br />

These vineyards are the legacy of a tradition<br />

of viticulture dating back as far as 2000<br />

years, small parcels of land shaped by man<br />

to grow vines and make wine that reflects<br />

that every parcel of land is unique. Some<br />

vineyards are just a few acres in size, others<br />

are considerably larger. Each vineyard is<br />

precisely defined and named. The names have<br />

Celtic, Gallic, Latin and German roots and<br />

record the influence of those who worked here<br />

and helped shape the landscape such as Les<br />

Casse-Têtes in Meursault which means ‘brain<br />

teaser’, indicating the hardness of the soil and<br />

the difficulty of planting vines here! One of<br />

the best known is the Clos de Vougeot, the<br />

headquarters of the Climats de Bourgogne<br />

and seat of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du<br />

Tastevin. Built in the 12th century by monks<br />

from the nearby Abbey of Cîteaux there is<br />

also a 16th century château where you can<br />

discover more about the Climats, wine and<br />

Burgundy, and enjoy a 5-wine tasting.<br />

Each plot is influenced by its own unique<br />

terroir – the French word that’s impossible to<br />

translate into English. It refers to the growing<br />

conditions - the soil, the grapes, the local<br />

climate, know-how, altitude, exposure to sun<br />

and rain, and local vegetation. This is an area<br />

that produces some of the best wines in the<br />

world with names like Montrachet, Romanée-<br />

Conti, Clos de Vougeot, Corton, Musigny,<br />

and Chambertin. And there are many cellars<br />

where you can stop for a tasting including<br />

56 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 57

La Petite Vadrouille@C Lorch Agence RPEvents<br />

some of the most prestigious domaines<br />

– Chateau de Meursault Chassagne-<br />

Montrachet, Le Chateau de Saint Aubin and<br />

Domaine Joillot Pommard. At Maison Olivier<br />

Leflaive you can even tour the vineyards by<br />

bike. Not just any old bike, a wine powered<br />

bike! Seating 12, sip the finest wines as you<br />

pedal!<br />

There’s no better way to appreciate this<br />

patchwork of vines than from the air. We took<br />

to the skies in a helicopter and got a birds eye<br />

view of the tapestry of vineyards, peppered<br />

with tiny stone huts, paths trod for thousands<br />

of years, stone walls, mills and castles. The<br />

countryside around is glorious and after<br />

the helicopter dropped us off in a vineyard<br />

for a picnic and wine tasting, we set off to<br />

discover the Cirque du Bout du Monde - the<br />

Circus at the end of the world. It’s a unique<br />

mountainous part of Burgundy, a classified<br />

site of outstanding natural beauty where you<br />

can stand under a 40 metre high waterfall,<br />

surrounded by vineyards.<br />

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen the film,<br />

a tour of Beaune and its surroundings is a soulsoaring<br />

experience.<br />

Domaine Lucien Muzard & Son, Santenay<br />

Tour details:<br />

lapetitevadrouilledebourgogne.com<br />

How to get there: Trains from Paris to<br />

Beaune via Dijon (TGV fast train) take around<br />

two hours.<br />

Where to stay: Hotel le Cep, a luxurious<br />

and charming hotel with a Michelin starred<br />

restaurant and a fabulous bar. Parts of it date<br />

to the 14th century and it has two listed 16th<br />

century courtyards.<br />

Beaune Tourist office<br />

Exceptional arts and<br />

crafts made in Provence<br />

L'AUGUSTE Provence<br />

create a unique artisanal<br />

collection of bags and<br />

accessories from exclusive<br />

watercolors to bring a little<br />

Provencal style into your<br />

life wherever you are.<br />

laugusteprovence.com<br />

58 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 59

Castles in the sky in<br />

the Dordogne Valley<br />

Beynac-Dordogne<br />

Roque Gageac<br />

Aim for the top and have a sense of<br />

humour when it comes to castles in<br />

Dordogne says Mike Zampa…<br />

We recently moved into our part-time home in<br />

France’s Dordogne Valley. Our village is called<br />

La Roque Gageac. We’re halfway up a steep<br />

hill above the glistening Dordogne River AKA<br />

the suburbs of this 13th-century town of 400<br />

people. Downtown is nestled at the foot of a<br />

sheer cliff hundreds of feet straight up.<br />

People like to be on top of things in Southwest<br />

France – or more precisely, on top of the<br />

world. At our house in California, heaven is<br />

a flat lot for the swimming pool. Here, only<br />

water sans gazeuse is flat. Everything else is<br />

built on perches.<br />

Historians say hilltop towns reflect the<br />

Dordogne’s brutish history. Marauders and<br />

invading armies convinced villagers that they<br />

should build above the fray. Far enough up<br />

and the pillagers would look for alternatives<br />

the rationale went.<br />

Fortunately for us, the strategy worked…<br />

sort of. Villagers were still terrorized through<br />

the Middle Ages. But their towns survived.<br />

What’s left are hamlets listed among the most<br />

beautiful in France. Breath-taking in every<br />

sense of the word.<br />

Here’s a list of top (pun intended) towns at<br />

altitude in the Dordogne, each more beautiful<br />

than the last. Their names are followed by their<br />

rating on our highly scientific high-o-meter.<br />

La Roque Gageac<br />

(Nosebleed high)<br />

The village dates to the 12th century<br />

when troglodytes lived in caves. It begins<br />

on the banks of the Dordogne then goes<br />

straight up. From the river, it’s a picture in a<br />

storybook. From the cavern-like fort etched<br />

out of a cliff face, it’s a nosebleed. Villagers<br />

retreated to the fort to escape Vikings with<br />

world domination issues. Today you can scale<br />

174 stairs to the fort. The staircase clings to<br />

the cliff. You would too if you saw a Viking.<br />

Beynac (uncomfortably high)<br />

Beynac is overshadowed by its castle rising<br />

hundreds of feet above the Dordogne. It’s<br />

within eyesight of its adversary, Castelnaud,<br />

just minutes up the river. Both fortresses<br />

were focal points of the Hundred Years<br />

War. To understand which country – France<br />

or Britain – controlled which castle, read<br />

a book. It’s too hard to explain here. You<br />

can reach the castle by climbing a twisting,<br />

cobblestone path flanked by dreamy stone<br />

cottages. What they don’t tell you is that<br />

you don’t need to walk up the steep path.<br />

There’s a road going up to a parking lot near<br />

the castle entrance. And they said there<br />

were no jokes coming out of the Hundred<br />

Years War.<br />

60 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 61

Castelnaud<br />

Castelnaud (Like Beynac<br />

only steeper)<br />

This restored castle is illuminated at night. You<br />

can see it from all over the Dordogne Valley.<br />

You can see the moon, too, though it’s not<br />

quite as high. Quaint cottages tumble down<br />

-figuratively speaking – the hillside below<br />

Castelnaud. There’s an impressive trebuchet,<br />

a catapult-like weapon that flung 400-pound<br />

boulders 40 meters. Scared the heck out<br />

of the enemy but took 60 minutes to load.<br />

During the other 59 minutes, there was hell<br />

to pay.<br />

Limeuil (Feral cats<br />

use handrails)<br />

Two natural phenomena define this<br />

gorgeous hilltop village. The first: the<br />

Dordogne and Vézère rivers converge<br />

here under two lovely arched bridges. The<br />

second: no two Frenchmen pronounce<br />

Limeuil the same way. Take the sharp<br />

vertical drop from the hilltop lookout past<br />

picturesque shops. It will take your mind off<br />

the fact you’re basically descending the<br />

face of the Chrysler Building.<br />

Trafic%5D-%5Bthegoodlife_france%5D-%5B300x-<br />

250%5D-<br />

Domme © Lori Shimizu Peterson<br />

View from Limeuil<br />

Domme (Don’t look down)<br />

This is a classic Bastide town. That means<br />

it was built behind a wall on a hilltop to<br />

discourage invaders. What a waste of<br />

time. The first invaders took one look at<br />

Domme and said: “No way I’m climbing<br />

that.” In addition to altitude, Domme has one<br />

other claim: the most beautiful view in the<br />

world. You can see miles of geometrically<br />

cultivated farmland from its Belvedere.<br />

There’s also a magnificent river view of<br />

the Dordogne making a hard left turn to<br />

neighboring Vitrac.<br />

In summary, Southwest France has peaks and<br />

a valley. It’s all beautiful, but the peaks will<br />

have you over the moon…quite literally.<br />

62 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 63

The STORKS<br />

of Alsace<br />

Amy McPherson strolls<br />

through the villages of<br />

Alsace in search of the<br />

famous storks…<br />

Eight AM. It was the first day of my multi-day<br />

walking journey along the wine route of Alsace<br />

and anticipation filled my heart. One of the<br />

smallest regions of France, Alsace is big on<br />

wonders, with many hilltop castles, tranquil<br />

forests and picture-book-pretty villages with<br />

restaurants that serve hearty Alsatian dishes<br />

paired with excellent local wines.<br />

As I left the already bustling cobbled streets<br />

of Eguisheim behind, I lost myself in the vast<br />

vineyards that carpet the surrounding hills.<br />

Over the next few days walking from one<br />

village to the next, I would find myself devoid<br />

of human contact, but not so alone that I was<br />

completely without company. Silently gliding<br />

with the wind above me, I saw the distinct long<br />

red beaks and the black-tipped wings of the<br />

famed white storks as they accompanied me<br />

on most of my journey.<br />

Storks of Alsace<br />

Visit Alsace in spring or summer and you’ll spot<br />

giant nests on rooftops, roadside poles and<br />

church towers in almost every village, town<br />

and city. This is home to storks which migrate<br />

each year from Africa to spend the warmer<br />

months in Europe and seem to particularly like<br />

Alsace’s natural environment.<br />

The storks are faithful, not only to their<br />

spouse, but to their dwelling, returning every<br />

year to the same nest after their laborious<br />

long distance journey. The male arrives first,<br />

ensuring the nest is of optimum condition<br />

before the female joins him. Their young carry<br />

the migratory instinct and begin their own<br />

journey back south in autumn. Amazingly,<br />

when the parents make their path back, they<br />

know exactly where to find their offspring.<br />

Eguisheim © Donald Druker<br />

Telling of time<br />

These birds have become somewhat of an<br />

oracle of the time of the year for farming<br />

activities, much like the groundhog of<br />

America. Stork abundance signifies a good<br />

year to come, the lack of storks means some<br />

hardship in living conditions.<br />

The locals are friendly to storks, many of the<br />

nests are formed on top of iron cages put there<br />

specially for the storks to move in. Perhaps it<br />

isn’t all for the storks though. If a stork decides<br />

to nest on top of a house, it is believed that<br />

good fortune (or a baby, if you wish for it) will<br />

come to those who live in this house.<br />

The obsession with storks doesn’t stop at<br />

encouraging nest-making. Throughout<br />

Alsace, storks feature as names of hotels<br />

and restaurants, mountain bike trails, walking<br />

tours and even a theme park dedicated to<br />

the storks.<br />

Walking from village to village in the spring,<br />

the sight of majestic storks appearing above<br />

the nests, perched high atop somewhere<br />

impossibly high, looking graceful and proud,<br />

was a constant feature.<br />

64 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 65

Bird of Peace<br />

Alsace has had a long association with its<br />

storks, known as störig in Alsatian, with a<br />

folktale dating back to 817. Louis the Pious,<br />

Emperor of the Carolingian Empire, wanted<br />

to divide his land among his three sons.<br />

Unfortunately, he was persuaded by his<br />

second wife to gift the full entitlement to her<br />

son only, which caused the other two sons to<br />

wage war against their father.<br />

The peaceful storks saw the devastation and<br />

bloodshed that followed. And with blood<br />

staining their beaks and feet as they surveyed<br />

the land, decided to dip the tip of their wings<br />

in black and lose their voice in mourning.<br />

Storks have remained silent ever since.<br />

Conservation of the<br />

white stork<br />

Mute from birth, storks communicate by body<br />

language and clapping their beaks. A fact<br />

that I learned at the NaturOparC, a stork<br />

sanctuary and wildlife education centre in the<br />

village of Hunawihr.<br />

In the 1970s, due to human expansion and<br />

loss of habitat, the stork population in Alsace<br />

hovered between extinction and survival until<br />

less than ten breeding pairs were sighted<br />

throughout the region. In 1983, a stork reintroduction<br />

programme was begun. One of<br />

the first repopulation centres was established<br />

in Cernay, whose 30 stork couples are often<br />

seen flying around the town centre along the<br />

river looking for food.<br />

Today, the region of Alsace is home to more<br />

than 600 couples.<br />

NaturOparC was part of this successful<br />

program, and continues to provide a safe,<br />

open sanctuary to storks that come to nest in<br />

the treetops. Other than the storks undergoing<br />

medical treatment, the birds are free to come<br />

and go as they please, and the fact that so<br />

many stay is a sign that the environment is<br />

ideal for them.<br />

Strategically built ladders and walkways<br />

allowed me to approach some of the nests at<br />

a safe distance (for the storks) and view them<br />

up close. Watching the storks relaxing in their<br />

nests, sleeping, preening, clapping their beaks<br />

– perhaps a couple in argument over whose<br />

turn it was to look after the baby – was a fairy<br />

tale moment, truly captivating.<br />

The wine bringers<br />

No visit to Alsace is complete without going<br />

to a few wine cellars for some tasting. And it is<br />

also of no surprise, that the storks have a beak<br />

in the wine business too.<br />

“Oh, there are plenty of storks this year,”<br />

chuckled the bartender at the Bléger winery<br />

in Saint-Hippolyte, a town famous for Alsace’s<br />

only red wine, Pinot Noir. “When there are<br />

plenty of storks in spring, you know we are<br />

going to have a good harvest in autumn.”<br />

Not only do the storks symbolise fertility,<br />

the Alsatian consider the storks to be the<br />

bringer of luck and wealth, and for the many<br />

winemakers of the region, they also bring a<br />

year of good harvest, meaning more wine for<br />

everyone.<br />

You can visit NaturOparC in Hunawihr as part<br />

of the Inntravel self-guided walking itinerary in<br />

Alsace. For more information visit:<br />

inntravel.co.uk<br />

66 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 67

Pantheon<br />

Alexandre Dumas –<br />

Musketeers and<br />

cookery books!<br />

Sue Aran investigates the cuisine<br />

credentials of France’s most famous<br />

novelist – Alexandre Dumas…<br />

Pantheon<br />

In 2002, for the bicentennial of Alexandre<br />

Dumas’ birth, then French President Jacques<br />

Chirac arranged a ceremony honouring the<br />

renowned author by transferring his ashes to<br />

the Panthéon, a mausoleum for France’s most<br />

distinguished citizens, in Paris. The most read<br />

French novelist in the world, Dumas’ remains<br />

were laid to rest alongside those of Victor<br />

Hugo and Émile Zola, his casket was carried<br />

through the street of Paris by Four Republican<br />

guards dressed as the 4 Musketeers<br />

Dumas, wrote in an amazing variety of<br />

genres – plays, essays, short stories, histories,<br />

historical novels, romances, crime stories and<br />

travel books. And he also wrote a cookbook:<br />

the 1,150-page, Le Grand Dictionaire de<br />

Cuisine, for he was not only a prolific writer,<br />

but a consummate gourmet, cook and bon<br />

vivant.<br />

Alexandre Dumas was born Dumas Davy<br />

de la Pailleterie in 1802 in Villars-Cotterêts,<br />

Picardy, France, to Marie-Louise Labouret<br />

and General Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la<br />

Pailleterie. Dumas’ nom de plume derives from<br />

his grandmother on his father’s side, Marie-<br />

Cosette Dumas, a Haitian slave, and his<br />

grandfather, the Marquis Alexandre-Antoine<br />

Davy de La Pailleterie.<br />

His father, Thomas-Alexandre, rose to the<br />

distinguished rank of general at the young<br />

age of 31 under Napoléon Bonaparte’s<br />

command, but died a few years later when<br />

Dumas was still a child. His mother, Marie-<br />

Louise, struggled to make ends meet and<br />

provide an education for her son using the<br />

few resources she had. The precocious<br />

Dumas’ young appetite lusted for literature<br />

and he read everything he could find, while<br />

his mother’s stories about his father’s bravery<br />

during Bonaparte’s campaigns fuelled his<br />

imagination. And, although poor, his paternal<br />

grandfather’s aristocratic lineage and his<br />

father’s illustrious reputation eventually<br />

helped him secure a place in school, and then,<br />

in 1822, at the age of 20, a position at the<br />

Palais Royal in Paris in the office of the Duc<br />

d’Orléans. In his spare time, while working<br />

for the Duc, Dumas began writing plays in a<br />

Romantic style similar to his contemporary<br />

(and later rival) Victor Hugo. They were so<br />

popular that he made enough money to quit<br />

his job and write full-time.<br />

In 1830, King of France Charles X was<br />

overthrown and the Duc d’Orléans became<br />

the ruler of France: King Louis-Philippe. By<br />

now Dumas was making good money and<br />

founded a writing studio with a willing cadre of<br />

assistants and collaborating writers. His novels<br />

including The Three Musketeers and The<br />

Count of Monte Cristo were so popular they<br />

were first translated into English, and then into<br />

68 | The Good Life France Château d'If Alexandre Dumas<br />

The Good Life France | 69

Château de Mont Cristo<br />

a hundred languages, and were eventually<br />

transformed into over 200 films. The books<br />

earned him enormous sums of money and<br />

enabled him to indulge his love of sumptuous<br />

living. He loved rich food and expensive<br />

wine and was said to have more than 40<br />

mistresses – despite being married. He was<br />

a man of tremendous energy and enormous<br />

self-esteem, described by peers as a giant,<br />

both in mind and body. Dumas boasted, “If I<br />

were locked in a room with five women, pens,<br />

paper, and a play to be written, by the end of<br />

an hour I would have finished the five acts and<br />

had the five women.”<br />

He also had a castle built which he called the<br />

Chateau de Monte-Cristo, and in the grounds<br />

a smaller castle which was his writing studio,<br />

which he called the Chateau d’If after the<br />

setting of The Count of Monte Cristo, a small<br />

fortress island in the Bay of Marseille. Here he<br />

hosted fabulous parties, serving up dishes he<br />

created. The castle is now open to the public,<br />

a legacy of Dumas’ fertile imagination.<br />

The idea of writing a cookbook had been in<br />

Dumas’ mind for years. He would begin it,<br />

he said, “…when I caught the first glimpse of<br />

death on the horizon.”<br />

In 1869 he retreated to Normandy with his<br />

cook. Six months later, his Grand Dictionnaire<br />

de Cuisine was finished. Of his book he said,<br />

“It will be read by wordily people and used<br />

by professionals. In cookery as in writing, all<br />

things are possible.” He called it his “pillow of<br />

my old age.:<br />

True to his vision, Dumas succumbed to a<br />

stroke in December 1870.<br />

Dumas’s epicurean tour of the alphabet,<br />

from absinthe to zest, is a treasure chest<br />

of hundreds of recipes, and reminiscences.<br />

Written without measurements, it is a master<br />

storyteller’s collection of consummate<br />

prose, worthy of being read as literature. Le<br />

Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine was published<br />

posthumously in 1873 and remained in print<br />

in its original form until the 1950s. In 1882 Le<br />

Petit Dictionnaire de Cuisine was published<br />

consisting of just Dumas’ recipes. In 2005,<br />

Alexandre Dumas’ Dictionary of Cuisine was<br />

edited, abridged and translated into English by<br />

Louis Colman.<br />

Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine is truly a<br />

monumental work. Not only amazing for its<br />

collection of old world recipes, stories and<br />

historical facts, it creates a cumulatively<br />

unique portrait of the man himself. Dumas<br />

avowed he would not eat pâté de foie gras<br />

because the ducks and geese “…are submitted<br />

to unheard of tortures worse than those<br />

suffered under the early Christians.”<br />

And his description of the perfect number<br />

of dinner guests within the parentheses<br />

of ancient history still holds true today: “…<br />

Varro, the learned librarian, tells us that the<br />

number of guests at a Roman dinner was<br />

ordinarily three or nine — as many as the<br />

Graces, no more than the Muses. Among the<br />

Greeks, there were sometimes seven diners,<br />

in honour of Pallas. The sterile number seven<br />

was consecrated to the goddess of wisdom,<br />

as a symbol of her virginity. But the Greeks<br />

especially liked the number six, because it<br />

is round. Plato favoured the number 28, in<br />

honour of Phoebe, who runs her course in 28<br />

days. The Emperor Verus wanted 12 guests<br />

at his table in honour of Jupiter, which takes<br />

12 years to revolve around the sun. Augustus,<br />

under whose reign women began to take their<br />

place in Roman society, habitually had 12 men<br />

https://frenchcountryadventures.com/<br />

Dumas had a metro station on line 2 named after him in 1970. There is also a<br />

Rue Alexandre-Dumas in Paris<br />

and 12 women, in honour of the 12 gods and<br />

goddesses. In France, any number except 13<br />

is good.”<br />

For Dumas a perfect dinner is also “a major<br />

daily activity which can be accomplished in<br />

worthy fashion only by intelligent people. It<br />

is not enough to eat. To dine, there must be<br />

diversified conversation which should sparkle<br />

with rubies of wine between courses, be<br />

deliciously suave with the sweetness of dessert<br />

and acquire true profundity by the time coffee<br />

is served.”<br />

70 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 71

Laidback, chilled<br />

and taking it easy<br />

on the French Riviera<br />

Gillian Thornton travels<br />

east from Nice to explore<br />

three contrasting coastal<br />

communities<br />

Villa Ephrussi © Thomas Dupaigne<br />

Stand amongst the cacti and exotic blooms<br />

of Les Jardins d’Eze and you’re treated to<br />

one of the most glorious views on the French<br />

Riviera. From this hilltop garden high above<br />

the Mediterranean, I’m looking westward<br />

over the stone walls and terracotta roofs of<br />

medieval Eze towards Nice. On a sparkling<br />

morning like this, breath-taking doesn’t<br />

even come close. And with 300 sunshine<br />

days a year, it’s a view that can be enjoyed<br />

all year round.<br />

Villas tumble down the steep hillside in front<br />

of me and beyond a wooded headland,<br />

the slim peninsula of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat<br />

marks the eastern boundary of Villefranche<br />

Bay, the pretty resort tantalisingly hidden<br />

from view. The city of Nice is out of sight<br />

too behind the southern tip of the Alpes<br />

Maritimes, but its coastal airport is clearly<br />

visible in the far distance, a reminder that<br />

UNESCO’s ‘Winter Resort of the Riviera’ is<br />

only a bus ride away.<br />

Take a city break in Nice and it’s easy to<br />

spend your time exploring the quaint streets<br />

of Vieux Nice, the Baroque churches,<br />

tempting boutiques and eclectic mix of<br />

museums. But the Greater Nice area includes<br />

a huge variety of picturesque locations from<br />

the mountain villages of the Mercantour to<br />

a clutch of coastal communities that lie east<br />

of the city. A stunning combination that just<br />

begs to be explored.<br />

Easy in Eze<br />

Classified as an elite ‘Jardin Remarquable’,<br />

the Exotic Garden of Eze features succulent<br />

plants from arid areas across the globe,<br />

the cacti, aloes and agaves dotted with<br />

sculptures in terracotta and bronze. This<br />

magical plot stands at the highest point of<br />

the medieval village, 1400 feet above the<br />

modern town centre at sea level. Today,<br />

the steep streets of the showpiece village<br />

are beautifully maintained and manicured,<br />

popular with cruise ship passengers and for the<br />

atmospheric accommodation that includes<br />

three 5-star hotels. For a special occasion,<br />

treat yourself to a meal at La Chèvre d’Or<br />

restaurant with its two coveted Michelin stars.<br />

But it’s still easy to feel the atmosphere of<br />

ancient stones in Eze, especially if you can<br />

visit early or late in the day, or in low season.<br />

There’s a real sense of time gone by as you<br />

pass beneath medieval gateways, walk beside<br />

walls that date back to the Bronze Age, and<br />

contemplate the Riquier Mansion, home to<br />

the powerful Lords of Eze from the 12th to 15th<br />

centuries.<br />

It’s also easy just to soak up the view over<br />

a refreshing glass on a café terrace, but to<br />

see a different side of the village, take one<br />

of the marked hiking routes along winding<br />

paths fringed with bougainvillea and jasmine.<br />

There’s plenty of Riviera fragrance to be had<br />

too on a free tour and workshop at Parfumerie<br />

72 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 73

esort in the Belle Epoque era, the first luxury<br />

hotel opening in 1904 – now the Hotel Royal-<br />

Riviera. In the 1950s, it attracted artists like<br />

Jean Cocteau and Henri Matisse, as well<br />

as movie stars such as Roger Moore and<br />

Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin and Tony<br />

Curtis. Today you can still spot a famous face<br />

sipping coffee by the quayside.<br />

Gallimard and at the Fragonard factory. Plus a<br />

wealth of small craft boutiques for that special<br />

present to give away, or even keep yourself.<br />

Laidback in Villefranche<br />

With its sheltered harbour and calm waters,<br />

Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the major cruise<br />

ports of the Côte d’Azur, despite numbering<br />

just 5,000 residents. In the 13th century, local<br />

people preferred to live in the hills away from<br />

the threat of pirates. So in 1295, Charles Duke<br />

of Anjou and Count of Provence, established<br />

a ‘free port’ – ville franche – offering various<br />

tax privileges in a bid to persuade them to<br />

relocate to sea level, concessions that largely<br />

remained until the 18th century.<br />

Today the pretty fishing port is also home<br />

to a flotilla of yachts and traditional fishing<br />

boats known as pointus, yet Villefranche still<br />

manages to retain an air of laidback loveliness<br />

with its seafront cafes, colourful facades and<br />

quaint 16th century back streets. It’s hard not<br />

to smile in a place where every narrow street<br />

has houses painted in a palette of lemon and<br />

apricot, russet and terracotta, and I loved the<br />

stylish, upbeat feel of the baroque bell towers,<br />

painted shutters, and wrought-iron balconies<br />

overlooking the harbour.<br />

Even my lunch at Le Cosmo bar was ablaze<br />

with Mediterranean atmosphere. Fresh white<br />

fish, scarlet tomato salsa, bright green rocket,<br />

and a wedge of lemon, all presented with a<br />

swirl of balsamic vinegar on a speckled blue<br />

and white plate. Just add a glass of chilled<br />

local rosé and some crisp baguette for the<br />

Moule Frites at Villefranche – looking on to Cap Ferrat © J'adore la France<br />

Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat from the Jardins d'Eze<br />

perfect light lunch. I even had a front row view<br />

of the 16th century Chapel of Saint-Pierre,<br />

used as a storeroom for fishermen until artist<br />

Jean Cocteau restored it in 1957, adorning<br />

the interior with murals of St Peter and local<br />

fishermen.<br />

Stroll through the citadel built in 1554, eleven<br />

years after the town was burned to the ground<br />

following the siege of Nice by combined<br />

French and Ottoman forces. With sweeping<br />

views over the harbour, it served as a military<br />

base after Nice and Savoie became part of<br />

France in 1860, then was bought by the city<br />

council in 1965 and transformed into a City<br />

Hall and cultural centre.<br />

Chilled in<br />

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat<br />

Villefranche<br />

If I had money – lots of money – a holiday<br />

home in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat would be<br />

high on my wish list. This slim peninsula<br />

between Villefranche-sur-Mer to the west and<br />

neighbouring Beaulieu-sur-Mer fans out into<br />

a wooded Y-shape where luxury homes nestle<br />

discreetly in the pine trees behind high fences.<br />

But there appears to be no envy on the part<br />

of less well-off residents who insist that the<br />

wealthy don’t flash their cash here unless it<br />

is to support local businesses, albeit on the<br />

way to their luxury yachts in the harbour. But<br />

compared to many wealthy enclaves around<br />

the Mediterranean, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is<br />

amongst the most discreet.<br />

This once small fishing village flourished as a<br />

My tip is to follow one of the marked trails –<br />

free leaflet from the Tourist Office – to explore<br />

the village centre and the hidden beaches and<br />

monuments around the headlands. You could<br />

even walk the 9km-trail to Nice and catch a<br />

No 15 bus back.<br />

But don’t leave without visiting the outstanding<br />

Villa and Gardens of Ephrussi de Rothschild.<br />

Another Jardin Remarquable as well as a<br />

Monument Historique, this extraordinary<br />

property with sea views on both sides offers<br />

nine themed gardens, musical fountains, and<br />

an opulent interior, plus the irresistible story<br />

of the extraordinary Béatrice de Rothschild<br />

who created it. Well, maybe not all local<br />

residents have been low key, but she did leave<br />

something for us all to enjoy!<br />

Getting Around<br />

Catch a train from Nice to the seafront<br />

station at Villefranche, or hop off the<br />

Nice Grand Tour sightseeing bus. Eze is<br />

also accessible by train – sea level station<br />

beneath the medieval village – or by<br />

public bus from Nice (Line 82) or by train.<br />

nicetourisme.com<br />

The French Riviera Pass gives free access<br />

to a wide range of attractions and activities<br />

in Nice, but also in Villefranche, Eze and<br />

Cap-Ferrat – chose from 12, 48 or 72 hours<br />

frenchrivierapass.com<br />

Alternatively, do as I did and take a bespoke<br />

tour by car with Villefranche resident<br />

Sandra Ottaviani. Particularly good if time<br />

is short or you are travelling in a small group.<br />

inspiring-cotedazur.com<br />

74 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 75

© Juliet V Simpson<br />

The UNESCO-listed<br />

Treasures of Nice<br />

Think of Nice and images of the glistening<br />

Mediterranean bordering the iconic<br />

Promenade des Anglais swim into view.<br />

Less well-known are the many sites and<br />

neighborhoods that achieved UNESCO World<br />

Heritage status in July 2021. According to<br />

UNESCO, Nice “reflects the development<br />

of a city devoted to winter tourism, making<br />

the most of its mild climate and its coastal<br />

situation, between sea and mountains.”<br />

Jeanne Oliver explores the tourist heritage<br />

of Nice…<br />

@ ElfieNeuberger<br />

UNESCO-listed “Nice<br />

Winter Resort Town of the<br />

Riviera”<br />

Tourism has defined the development of Nice<br />

for well over 200 years. And it’s this that has<br />

seen UNESCO recognise the “Outstanding<br />

Universal Value” of Nice’s heritage in terms of<br />

architecture, landscape and urban planning.<br />

it is an area of 522 hectares shaped by the<br />

cosmopolitan winter resort which has resulted<br />

in a spectacular fusion of international<br />

cultural influences.<br />

The first tourist was arguably Scotsman<br />

Tobias Smollett who praised Nice in his<br />

bestseller Travels Through France and<br />

Italy published in 1766. His British readers<br />

were intrigued and began visiting Nice in<br />

the late 18 th century. They first settled on the<br />

land west of Cours Saleya, which opened<br />

for development after the town walls were<br />

destroyed in 1706. Rue François de Paule was<br />

considered chic even before the Opera was<br />

built in the late 19 th century.<br />

By the beginning of the 19th century the<br />

trickle of British visitors turned into a steady<br />

stream. They fanned out to what is now the<br />

Carré d’Or and clustered in a community<br />

around the Croix de Marbre. Stores selling<br />

76 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 77

Bay of angels Adam and Eve<br />

products from home sprouted up in the<br />

neighborhood they called “Newborough”.<br />

These early Brits avoided the crowded, dirty<br />

streets of the Old Town but they liked to stroll<br />

the rue des Ponchettes which bordered the<br />

square Cours Saleya which was turned into<br />

a garden promenade. However, to access<br />

the walkways, they had to cross a bridge<br />

which spanned the Paillon river and then<br />

make their way through the Old Town. In<br />

1822 the Reverend Lewis Way of Nice’s new<br />

Anglican Church raised money to construct<br />

a path along the sea, easily accessible from<br />

their neighborhood. The path, Chemin des<br />

Anglais, was completed in 1824 and it reached<br />

from the western banks of the Paillon river to<br />

rue Meyerbeer. Over the course of the 19 th<br />

century, it was extended west and eventually<br />

became the Promenade des Anglais.<br />

A stroll west along the Promenade reveals<br />

spectacular examples of Belle Epoque<br />

architecture. The Villa Masséna, now the<br />

Masséna Museum, is a fine example of a<br />

private villa on the Promenade, while the<br />

Hotel Negresco heads a procession of elegant<br />

19th century hotels.<br />

century seaside park, while the ruins of the<br />

old Colline du Chateau became a hilltop park<br />

with sea views.<br />

The opening of the Nice train station in 1864<br />

shortly after Nice became part of France<br />

in 1860, sparked the development of the<br />

Quartier des Musiciens. Boulevard Victor<br />

Hugo was the first street to be laid out and the<br />

rest followed in a grid pattern. Fabulous Belle<br />

Epoque residences such as the Palais Baréty<br />

were followed by a new style, Art Deco, in the<br />

interwar period.<br />

The verdant hill of Cimiez already had a<br />

few Belle Epoque hotels even before Queen<br />

Victoria chose the Excelsior Regina Hotel as her<br />

preferred holiday spot in 1895. Within a decade<br />

the entire neighborhood was transformed from<br />

farmland to a playground for European nobility.<br />

The stately apartment buildings now lining the<br />

Boulevard de Cimiez were designed as hotels<br />

and followed contemporary tastes. When<br />

Orientalism came into vogue at the turn of the<br />

20th century, minarets were chosen to adorn the<br />

Hotel Alhambra.<br />

Another neighborhood favored by 19thcentury<br />

Brits was Mont Boron, the hill<br />

between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer.<br />

In 1891 they founded the l’Association<br />

Des Amis Des Arbres to protect trees and<br />

wooded areas against over-development.<br />

The Chateau de l’Anglais, built by Colonel<br />

Robert Smith was inspired by his tour of duty<br />

in India and brings a touch of exoticism to<br />

this forested hill.<br />

Just as the British aristocracy congregated<br />

in Cimiez and Mont Boron, the Russian<br />

aristocracy followed Tsar Alexander II to the<br />

Piol neighborhood after he wintered there<br />

in 1864. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of<br />

Saint Nicholas, consecrated in 1912, testifies<br />

to the long Russian presence in Nice.<br />

The only part of the more than 500-hectare<br />

UNESCO-protected area that had little to<br />

do with tourism development is Port Lympia.<br />

It was vital to Nice’s export trade however<br />

and most of it does date from the late<br />

19th-century.<br />

Cours Saleya<br />

Nice’s World Heritage designated area covers<br />

almost all the city’s highlights except for<br />

one surprising omission. The winding streets<br />

of Vieux Nice north of Cours Saleya are<br />

not UNESCO listed. Most of the baroque<br />

churches and pastel buildings date from<br />

the 18th century and thus are before Nice’s<br />

development as a tourist destination.<br />

Nice’s 19th-century rulers, the Dukes of<br />

Savoy, quickly recognized the potential of<br />

the “distinguished foreign visitors” which<br />

included Russians, Germans, and Americans.<br />

From the mid-19th century onward, every<br />

urbanization decision taken was aimed at<br />

increasing the comfort and enjoyment of<br />

holidaymakers. Foreign tourists liked exotic<br />

vegetation? Let’s plant the Promenade des<br />

Anglais with palm trees! Foreign tourists liked<br />

gardens? The Jardin Albert 1er became a 19th-<br />

78 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 79

What’s<br />

New?<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

palace, above the kings, and has been closed for restoration involving 50 craftsmen for almost<br />

two years. chateauversailles.fr<br />

Versailles du Barry apt<br />

David Hockney at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum<br />

22 September <strong>2022</strong> – 23 April 2023<br />

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum welcomes artist David Hockney for an exhibition of his giant<br />

fresco entitled ’A Year in Normandy.’ Hockney moved to Normandy in 2019, and, inspired<br />

by the Bayeux tapestry, created a 90-meter long frieze using digital brushes on an iPad.<br />

bayeuxmuseum.com<br />

It’s la Rentrée in France, the time of the year when people are back from their<br />

summer holidays and there’s a feeling of renewal in the air and it’s the time when<br />

museums and galleries put on new exhibitions galore. We’ve picked some of the best<br />

new events and openings for this autumn…<br />

National Events:<br />

Semaine du Gout – Taste Week: A foodie<br />

event taking place throughout France.<br />

Taste Week hosts events, workshops for the<br />

public include cooking classes, tastings and<br />

entertainment. 10-16 October, <strong>2022</strong><br />

legout.com<br />

1st November La Toussaint – All Saints’<br />

Day: a day to remember loved ones who<br />

have passed on and place pots of colourful<br />

chrysanthemums on their graves.<br />

11th November Armistice Day:<br />

commemorative services are held in almost<br />

every town and village in France in honour of<br />

those who lost their lives in World War I and<br />

other wars.<br />

Beaujolais Nouveau: the new season’s wine<br />

arrives in cafés, bars & restaurants at midnight<br />

on Wednesday the night before the 3rd<br />

Thursday of November!<br />

Chateau Versailles<br />

18 October <strong>2022</strong> to<br />

19 February 2023<br />

New Exhibition: Louis XV, tastes and<br />

passions of a King<br />

For the first time the Palace of Versailles is<br />

presenting a major exhibition dedicated to<br />

Louis XV to celebrate the 300th anniversary<br />

of his coronation. Born in 1710 in Versailles,<br />

Louis XV was the great-grandson of Louis XIV.<br />

He became king at the age of five, in 1715,<br />

on the death of the Sun King and his reign<br />

spanned more than 50 years. The exhibition<br />

of more than 400 works looks at the man<br />

behind the crown and his passions for science,<br />

botany, architecture and more. Madame du<br />

Barry’s rooms in Versailles will also reopen to<br />

the public. The famous mistress of Louis XV<br />

had one of the most refined apartments in the<br />

World Poached Egg<br />

Championship in<br />

Bordeaux,<br />

8-9 October <strong>2022</strong><br />

If you’re lucky enough to be near the Château<br />

du Clos de Vougeot in the heart of Burgundy’s<br />

wine-growing countryside (Côte-d'Or) on<br />

the first weekend of October, you’re in for<br />

a treat! It’s the ‘Ouef en Meurette’ World<br />

Championship where chefs compete in<br />

a poached egg in wine contest. Tastings,<br />

cooking classes and fun guaranteed.<br />

meurette.fr<br />

Palais Galliera, Fashion Museum Of The City Of Paris<br />

Frida Kahlo. Beyond Appearances<br />

15 September <strong>2022</strong> – 5 March 2023<br />

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of the most recognized and influential artists of the 20th century.<br />

For the first time in France and in close collaboration with the Museo Frida Kahlo, the exhibition<br />

brings together more than two hundred objects from Casa Azul, the house where Frida was born<br />

and raised: clothes, correspondence, accessories, cosmetics, medicines , medical prostheses…<br />

80 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 81

These personal effects were sealed by her<br />

husband, the Mexican mural painter Diego<br />

Riviera when the artist died in 1954. They<br />

were rediscovered fifty years later, in 2004.<br />

This precious collection includes traditional<br />

Tehuana dresses, pre-Columbian necklaces<br />

that Frida collected, examples of corsets and<br />

hand-painted prostheses and is presented<br />

along with films and photographs of the<br />

artist, to constitute a visual account of her<br />

extraordinary life. Palaisgalliera.fr<br />

Opening of the Glass<br />

Museum in Eure,<br />

Normandy<br />

Lovers of glass sculptures, stained glass<br />

windows, Art Deco and Art Nouveau objects<br />

will love the François Décorchemont Glass<br />

Museum in a former 19th century hospice<br />

which is due to open in <strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

eure-tourism.com<br />

Lyon Festival of Lights, © Brice Robert, Lyon Tourist Office<br />

Festival of Lights, Lyon, 8-11 December <strong>2022</strong><br />

4 nights of enchantment in Lyon. The Festival is innovative, intriguing and startling, and it's all<br />

free. Each night brings a different theme, colour scheme and vibe with designers from around<br />

the world taking part. Video, Music and Sound effects are used to accompany the vibrant<br />

images dotted around the city. Fetedeslumieres.fr<br />

Nuit Blanche Paris | 1-2 October <strong>2022</strong><br />

This incredible free event sees the doors of some of the city’s most popular cultural sites and<br />

museums to the public from dark on Saturday night until the wee hours of Sunday…<br />

Nuit Blanche Paris<br />

The Good Life France podcast<br />

Everything you want to know about<br />

France and more...<br />

thegoodlifefrance.com<br />

Nuit Blanche artwork by Gilbert Moity © Jacques Lebar, Paris Tourist Office<br />

82 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 83

Your Photos<br />

Every weekend we invite you to share your photos on Facebook and Twitter – it’s a great<br />

way for everyone to “see” real France and be inspired by real travellers snapping pics<br />

as they go. Every week there are utterly gorgeous photos being shared, and here we<br />

showcase just a few of the most popular. Share your favourite photos with us and the most<br />

‘liked’ will appear in the next issue of The Good Life France Magazine<br />

Sunset over the rooftops of Paris by<br />

Romain Gandré<br />

This stunning photo is one to fall in love<br />

with. Romain is on Instagram: @rom_buff<br />

Rouen, Normandy<br />

Fantastic photo by Nathalie Geffroy who is on<br />

Instagram: @nathparis<br />

Cordes-sur-Ciel<br />

The village in the sky in the Tarn,<br />

by Ian MacCuish<br />

La Gacilly, Brittany<br />

Fred Tassart’s photo of the pretty<br />

village in Morbihan is so dreamy …<br />

Join us on Facebook and<br />

Twitter to like and share<br />

your favourite photos of<br />

France...<br />

84 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 85

Tours de France<br />

Winter is one of the best times to visit France – the museums are uncrowded (and<br />

warm!), and there’s still plenty going on. And the holiday season is an ideal time to take<br />

a tour in style. So, if you’re dreaming of visiting France here are some of our top tour<br />

recommendations for winter, Christmas and New Year visits…<br />

CroisiEurope – the best<br />

for Christmas & New Year<br />

cruises<br />

The largest cruise operator in France,<br />

CroisiEurope’s cruises are unbeatable and<br />

their Christmas tours are legendary. Visit<br />

the famous Christmas markets of Alsace,<br />

Strasbourg, AKA the Capital of Christmas<br />

with its many festive markets and beautifully<br />

decorated streets and stores. Visit picturesque<br />

villages, take in a show, follow the wine route<br />

and be captivated by Colmar. It doesn’t get<br />

more magical than this.<br />

CroisiEurope’s Christmas and New Year cruises<br />

also weave their magic in the Loire Valley and<br />

the Seine Valley – Paris to Honfleur, enchanting<br />

any time of the year but never more so than at<br />

Christmas, as well as the south of France from<br />

Lyon to Provence including festive Avignon, and<br />

in beautiful Bordeaux.<br />

Enjoy all-inclusive life onboard with the<br />

finest food and wines and fabulous tours that<br />

take you to the heart of each destination.<br />

No stressing, no driving, no wondering how<br />

to fit in all the glorious must-see places or<br />

how to reach the off the beaten track gems,<br />

CroisiEurope’s cruises and excursions take you<br />

to the very best of France – in style.<br />

croisieurope.co.uk<br />

Winter Holiday Tour in<br />

Provence<br />

Planning for an end of the year seasonal<br />

treat? Join Goût et Voyage’s Winter Holiday<br />

Tour of Provence. It’s a small group tour<br />

that features fabulous food and wine, a<br />

truffle hunt and santon markets. You’ll visit<br />

beautifully decorated towns and villages<br />

including the beautifully decorated towns<br />

of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Arles and Aixen-Provence.<br />

And take cooking lessons with<br />

chefs plus of course plenty of time for holiday<br />

shopping. Seasonally sublime.<br />

goutetvoyage.com<br />

Alsace Christmas day and<br />

half day tours<br />

Family run Ophorus Tours, one of the most<br />

renowned and popular tour companies in<br />

France have a huge range of half<br />

and full day trips including<br />

Christmas market<br />

tours in Alsace in<br />

Strasbourg, the<br />

pretty villages and<br />

Colmar. They<br />

pick you up, drop<br />

you off and have<br />

the best English<br />

speaking guides in<br />

the business.<br />

Ophorus.com<br />

Winter tours of Provence<br />

Fabulous tours of Provence at Christmas, VIP<br />

wine tours, culture, markets and parades. And<br />

in the new year join a truffle tour in January<br />

or February when the “black diamonds” are<br />

at their best on a gourmet experience tour.<br />

Yourprivateprovencecom<br />

Cours Mirabeau Aix<br />

Battlefield tours<br />

and historical travel<br />

experiences<br />

Sophie’s Great War Tours are tailor-made<br />

historical travel experiences. This family-run<br />

specialist tour operator creates exceptional<br />

WWI and WWII battlefields tours across<br />

France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Travel<br />

at your pace and explore the destinations<br />

you really want to get to know, at a time to<br />

suit you. Sophie will research the history and<br />

background of soldier so that each battlefield<br />

tour is a personal historical experience. Her<br />

team can also include additional experiences<br />

to suit you such as chateau visits in the Loire,<br />

Champagne tastings in Champagne and a<br />

classic car tour in Provence. Every itinerary is<br />

created to be perfect – for you.<br />

sophiesgreatwartours.com<br />

Christmas Truce statue by Andy Edwards commemorates Christmas day on the<br />

Western Front 1914 when some men emerged from trenches into No Man’s Land,<br />

exchanged gifts and played football.<br />

86 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 87

“Faux Amis”<br />

Deceptive Language<br />

What are they?<br />

“Faux amis”, or false friends, are not what<br />

they seem! No, they are not the friendships<br />

that end badly, but instead are an expression<br />

which means words that look similar or<br />

identical in French and English by that have<br />

an added layer of complexity to them and can<br />

subsequently be confusing to learn for French<br />

native speakers!<br />

As the expression suggestions, a “faux amis”<br />

is a word that is not what you think it is at<br />

first glance, and once translated can cause<br />

confusion to the French speaker. When a word<br />

looks identical across the two languages, they<br />

ought to mean the same thing, right?<br />

Wrong! A “faux amis” is in fact an English<br />

word that resembles a French word yet has a<br />

completely different meaning. These “faux amis”<br />

have the displeasure of misleading learners of<br />

English, especially to those just beginning their<br />

language journey because of their wide use<br />

across different categories of words.<br />

What are the origins of<br />

“faux amis”?<br />

In this instance many English and French<br />

words are false cognates because of their<br />

shared heritage. Today’s French, for example,<br />

is composed of predominantly Latin and<br />

Greek roots. However, there are also<br />

sprinklings of Celtic, Arabic and Germanic<br />

languages in there too.<br />

The English language has experienced the<br />

same range of influences, including old<br />

French, but the language has undergone a<br />

slightly different evolution over time. A great<br />

example of this is the old French word jornee<br />

(meaning journey or labour of a day) led to the<br />

French word journée (daytime) and in English<br />

journey. The French kept the notion of time<br />

when using the word, however the English<br />

instead preferred travel.<br />

Here are 5 of our favourite “faux amis”<br />

that have been confusing speakers of both<br />

languages:<br />

French speakers would describe coins as une<br />

pièce de monnaie.<br />

Assist (eng.) // assister (fr.)<br />

Assister à when used in French means to<br />

attend something, yet in English would be used<br />

to help or support someone or something.<br />

Advertisement (eng.) // Avertissement (fr.)<br />

Un Avertissement can be translated as a<br />

warning or a caution, and comes from the<br />

French verb avertir – to warn. However, an<br />

advertisement translated into French would<br />

be une publicité, une réclame, or un spot<br />

publicitaire.<br />

Chair (eng.) // Chair (fr.)<br />

La chair when used by a French speaker would<br />

be translated as flesh, not the seat! A chair for<br />

English speakers would be une chaise.<br />

In Summary<br />

To conclude, be wary of “faux amis” when<br />

navigating between French and English, they<br />

can lead to some embarrassing moments!<br />

However, despite the intimidating nature of<br />

making an awkward mistake when conversing,<br />

it is all part of the journey. Slip ups are a<br />

natural part of learning languages and not<br />

something to worry about! The more you<br />

expose yourself to French “faux amis” the<br />

better equipped you will be to deal with them!<br />

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reading and speaking skills and<br />

learn more about France with<br />

Newsdle’s fun and easy to use<br />

news-based app – and get 25%<br />

off, just input coupon code<br />

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What are they known as?<br />

However “faux amis” are part of a wider<br />

language phenomenon known as false<br />

cognates, or words that look identical in both<br />

language but have different etymologies. They<br />

are not exclusive to English and French, and<br />

can be found across many, many different<br />

languages.<br />

Library (eng.) // Librairie (fr.)<br />

One of the more common “faux amis”,<br />

despite the book connection, une librairie is<br />

where you would buy a book, not borrow one.<br />

To get the English meaning of library, one must<br />

visit une bibliothèque.<br />

Coin (eng.) // coin (fr.)<br />

The French word coin is translated as corner,<br />

and has no connection to what English<br />

speakers would describe as their loose change.<br />

88 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 89

Find out about<br />

French Insurance…<br />

fabulously easy.<br />

Insurance services for English speakers in France<br />

Speak to a dedicated English-speaking Broker who’s<br />

also a French native speaker so to avoid the pitfalls and<br />

headaches of the French system.<br />

Medical Insurance<br />

Home Insurance<br />

Car Insurance<br />

Visa Insurance<br />

and more<br />

We work with more than 30 insurers and many more<br />

providers so we are always able to find the best and most<br />

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www.fabfrenchinsurance.com<br />

Two questions come up time and again when it comes to insurance in France: medical<br />

insurance for visa applications – and car insurance for foreign registered vehicles. Fabien<br />

Pelissier of FAB French Insurance whose team specialise in helping English speakers in<br />

France with all their insurance requirements, explains the process of insuring a non-France<br />

registered car, and why you should make medical insurance a critical part of your visa<br />

application process…<br />

Car Insurance for foreign<br />

registered vehicles<br />

Most people believe that you can’t have a<br />

foreign registered car insured in France, but<br />

this isn’t true. If you’re planning to move to<br />

France and register your foreign car – which<br />

is a legal requirement – then this can take<br />

time. And while you’re waiting – you will need<br />

insurance.<br />

We can insure foreign registered vehicles<br />

in the same way as we can for a French<br />

registered vehicles with a “standard” policy.<br />

This is based upon the assumption that you<br />

will register the car or bike in France. Failure<br />

to do so may open you up to consequences<br />

which can have long term effects in France<br />

where there is a central insurer’s database. Do<br />

not consider insuring the vehicle in France if the<br />

import project isn’t solid or may be reversed.<br />

Foreign insurance history, for instance ‘no claims<br />

bonus/no claims discount’, can be converted<br />

into the French equivalent – called the CRM or<br />

the bonus. The conversion may look weird at<br />

first as France doesn’t work like the rest of the<br />

world (which may not surprise you).<br />

The maximum discount in France is 13 years<br />

(50% bonus or CRM = 0.50). The “CRM” is<br />

like your own index. It starts at 1 and each year<br />

without a claim it’s multiplied by 0.95 with a<br />

maximum discount reached when your CRM<br />

is at 0.50 (e.g. 13 years without a claim). Every<br />

claim deemed to be your fault will multiply<br />

your CRM by 1.25 (so it takes roughly 5 years<br />

to write off a claim in France). Unlike other<br />

countries (for instance the UK), it’s not possible<br />

to “protect” your discount here, that’s why<br />

French insurers will need to see your full history<br />

(proof of no claim) and not just the “insurer’s<br />

discount” or ‘no claims bonus’, because they<br />

know a 9 years no claims bonus doesn’t mean<br />

you’ve been claim free for the past 9 years.<br />

That said they also don’t care about anything<br />

that happened more than 3 years ago as<br />

French insurers only look at the past 3 years of<br />

insurance. The upside of this is that you may<br />

have a 9 years NCD with claims 5 years ago<br />

which won’t be considered when you convert<br />

your NCD into a French CRM. French insurers<br />

90 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 91

equire proof of no claims from the previous<br />

three years which can be onerous when you’ve<br />

changed insurers each year.<br />

Another major difference is that French<br />

insurers really hate insurance gaps. The “off<br />

road” status doesn’t exist in France. You must<br />

be insured even if the vehicle is no longer in<br />

driving condition. A gap in your insurance<br />

record of more than 3 months is bad for<br />

your future premiums – and a gap of more<br />

than 6 months is most certainly going to be<br />

problematic.<br />

One big difference with French car insurance<br />

is that it’s the vehicle that’s insured – not the<br />

driver. You can allow anyone to drive your<br />

vehicle in France if you pay for increased<br />

excess which is not expensive.<br />

Most successful applications have the following elements in common:<br />

The certificate shows cover for at least the duration of your VISA and if this is not<br />

possible or if it ends before the VISA, then the certificate should mention that the<br />

visa insurance policy is scheduled for automatic renewal.<br />

It mentions that you’re covered for medical expenses and hospitalisation (not just<br />

hospitalisation).<br />

The medical cover should be for at least €30,000.00<br />

The certificate should not mention any medical exclusions.<br />

It must cover your public liability in the EU and include a repatriation plan.<br />

If you fulfil these five requirements and if the rest of your file is complete, you should<br />

be off to a flying start with your visa application.<br />

Get in touch with Fabien Pelissier, find out more or apply for insurance at<br />

fabfrenchinsurance.com<br />

Applying for a Visa –<br />

medical Insurance<br />

If you’re a non-EU citizen and want to stay in<br />

France for longer than 90 days in a 180 day<br />

period you’ll need a visa. To begin you apply<br />

for a Visa Long Séjour (VLS-TS). Even If you<br />

want to live in France, you’ll need to apply for<br />

the one year VLS-TS. At the end of your first<br />

year, you’ll need to either renew your VLS-TS<br />

or apply for a Carte de Séjour (Titre de Séjour)<br />

which can be valid for up to ten years.<br />

When you apply for your VLS-TS, you’ll need<br />

to gather several documents that show things<br />

such as proof of your economic situation<br />

(bank statements etc) and most importantly,<br />

private medical insurance (PHI). The general<br />

information on the france-visas.gouv.fr site<br />

is quite vague, especially for ‘tourist long-term<br />

visas’ – in other words, visas for retirees/early<br />

retirees or long-term travellers. If you want to<br />

stay in France for more than six months (and<br />

possibly request residency at a later date)<br />

then you’ll find more information on the<br />

TLS-contact website.<br />

One of the most common reasons for a refusal<br />

on a visa application is the insurance element.<br />

Fabien explains how to make sure your visa<br />

application is ‘French-administration-proof’…<br />

Brexit didn’t just impact the British, when it<br />

comes to applying for a visa, it also resulted in<br />

a tightening of rules for other non-EU citizens,<br />

including those from the US. After years of<br />

experience as insurance brokers and hundreds<br />

of Visa applications, we know that the type of<br />

insurance certificate is a critical factor that<br />

will determine the fate of your application.<br />

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92 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 93

Prestige French Property & Lifestyle Show<br />

Portsmouth 8-9 October, <strong>2022</strong><br />

CUT THE<br />

COST<br />

✂<br />

of currency<br />

transfers<br />

to France<br />

The Prestige French Property & Lifestyle Show<br />

is dedicated to buying in France and the French<br />

lifestyle. There will be estate agents from many<br />

regions of France showcasing their properties.<br />

Caravans in the Sun will be promoting their<br />

mobile homes and available sites. And Prestige<br />

Property Services Europe will be showcasing<br />

holiday rentals which cover Normandy and<br />

Brittany in the North to as far south as sunny<br />

Ceret on the Spanish border.<br />

There will also be professional services present<br />

including banking, insurance, currency exchange<br />

and investment advice services as well as<br />

others specialised in the requirements of<br />

moving to France.<br />

Prestige Property Services<br />

Europe are proud to host this<br />

dedicated show which highlights<br />

some of the best property for<br />

sale in France and also offers a<br />

taste of the French Lifestyle.<br />

If you’re moving money to or from France<br />

you’ll want to get the best return possible<br />

on your currency transfers. But how do you<br />

make sure you get the best rate? We asked<br />

Calum Harkiss at Currencies Direct who have<br />

been helping people maximise their currency<br />

transfers for almost 30 years, to explain the<br />

process, and why timing is important when<br />

transferring money overseas…<br />

The currency market is always moving, so<br />

picking the right time to make a transfer can<br />

be tricky. Even a seemingly small discrepancy<br />

in the exchange rate you secure can make a<br />

massive difference to how much you receive,<br />

and rates can shift by as much as 5% in a<br />

matter of weeks.<br />

Over the last ten years we have seen several<br />

historic shifts in the currency market due to<br />

events like the EU referendum, Covid-19,<br />

Brexit, the war in Ukraine and (most recently)<br />

the turbulent political situation in the UK.<br />

In <strong>2022</strong> alone the GBP/EUR exchange rate<br />

has fluctuated between highs of 1.21 and lows<br />

of 1.15.<br />

If you had £100,000 euros to transfer you<br />

would have received €121,000 at the higher<br />

rate, but €6,000 less when exchange rates<br />

were at their lowest. When you transfer money<br />

through Currencies Direct, we’ll provide, and<br />

agree, an exchange rate with you over the<br />

phone, online or via our app. We can help you<br />

buy currency to use at a later date, we set rate<br />

alerts and we send your currency as soon as<br />

we receive your payment. It’s simple.<br />

And it’s not just the timing of your transfer<br />

that’s important, the exchange rate you<br />

receive can be very different depending on the<br />

provider you use to move your money abroad.<br />

Get your tickets<br />

for the show here<br />

94 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 95

While most banks will offer you uncompetitive exchange rates and tag on transfer<br />

fees, as a leading currency provider, Currencies Direct will make sure you receive<br />

exceptional exchange rates, potentially saving you thousands on larger transfers.<br />

What’s more, we don’t charge transfer fees and we offer a range of specialist services to<br />

help make your money go further.<br />

Whether you want to fix an exchange rate ahead of making a transfer, buy currency in<br />

advance or target an exchange rate higher than the current market level, Currencies<br />

Direct can help. currenciesdirect.com<br />

Contact Calum Harkiss to find out more. Call +33 (0) 631 559 607 or<br />

email calum.h@currenciesdirect.com<br />

If you’d like to talk to the Currencies Direct Team and find out how they can help you<br />

maximise currency transfers to and from France, you can see them on 8 and 9 October<br />

at the Prestige French Property & Lifestyle Show – the dedicated show for people<br />

buying in France or interested in the French lifestyle.<br />

Visit Eventbrite to get your ticket<br />


Warm, uplifting and<br />

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96 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 97 Chamonix

Guide for US-Connected<br />

Persons Living in France<br />

Beacon Global Wealth Management<br />

Standing out, amongst the best<br />

UK and French financial advice<br />

Tax and investment advice<br />

Inheritance advice<br />

Reviewing pension arrangements<br />

It’s simple...<br />

We care about you and your money<br />

Our vision is to build a long term strategy<br />

to take care of your financial requirements<br />

for your life in France.<br />

Please contact<br />

Our UK office 0044 33 3241 6966<br />

enquiries@bgwealthmanagement.net<br />

beaconglobalwealth.com<br />

Introduction<br />

At Beacon Global Wealth, we meet many<br />

interesting people from all over the World.<br />

People who packed their bags left behind family<br />

and friends, whether for lifestyle or professional<br />

reasons, and relocated to different climates and<br />

cultures.<br />

France has long been a location Americans<br />

have chosen to relocate. An estimated 200,000<br />

Americans currently living in France.<br />

One of the most extensive client areas we work<br />

with is Americans abroad and their financial<br />

affairs. The investment and retirement planning<br />

needs of US-connected persons are complex and<br />

multifaceted and need special care, review, and<br />

planning from a team of expert and joined-up<br />

advisers. This includes Financial Specialists, Tax<br />

Specialists, and Investment Specialists.<br />

With this significant decision comes fundamental<br />

uncertainty and worry around how tax laws and<br />

rulings apply, both in the new country of residence<br />

and the country of origin. We at Beacon Global<br />

Wealth recognize these worries as something we<br />

have been through ourselves. We aim to provide<br />

peace of mind, so our clients can focus on the<br />

essential things in their life.<br />

Are you a US Connected Person?<br />

• Were you born in the USA?<br />

• Do you own a US passport?<br />

• Have you lived in the USA?<br />

• Have you worked in the USA?<br />

If you answer yes to any or all of these questions,<br />

you are likely a US Connected person.<br />

Issues Facing US Connected Persons and<br />

what FATCA Means<br />

Since the implementation of FATCA in 2014<br />

(Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), getting<br />

retirement and investment solutions for US<br />

Connected Persons has become increasingly<br />

problematic. This is because most investment<br />

solutions in many countries do not comply with<br />

US tax law. You may have noticed the number<br />

of banks and financial institutions that no longer<br />

deal with US-connected persons. You may even<br />

have been affected.<br />

The problem is as simple as opening your US<br />

passport and then looking at item D on the<br />

inside cover.<br />

"All US citizens working and residing<br />

abroad must file and report on their<br />

worldwide income."<br />

Over 9 million US-Connected Persons live<br />

abroad, holding an estimated one trillion dollars.<br />

Many people do not realize they need to file<br />

US tax returns. If your affairs are not structured<br />

correctly, and you do not accurately report ALL<br />

income, including investment income, you will<br />

breach US tax law.<br />

Options for Clients<br />

How to hold your Assets<br />

Many investment options available in Europe to<br />

US-Connected Persons will automatically put<br />

them in contravention of the US tax regime. For<br />

instance, one of the more tax-efficient options<br />

in France of an Assurance Vie creates severe<br />

taxation issues in the US. This causes concern,<br />

worry, and, in some cases, unnecessary financial<br />

costs.<br />

To provide peace of mind and help you sleep<br />

at night, we at Beacon Global Wealth have<br />

created a series of solutions for the US –<br />

Connected Persons using fully regulated<br />

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)<br />

investment managers and partners.<br />

These solutions provide US and Current<br />

Country tax compliant and flexible options<br />

to meet all clients' US tax reporting and<br />

investment needs.<br />

98 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 99

Investment Options<br />

Our process starts with an in-depth meeting with<br />

the client to ascertain their investment goals and<br />

objectives. We will then build a portfolio of assets<br />

that meets their exact criteria. We run many<br />

investment portfolios across the whole spectrum<br />

of risk.<br />

After much research and experience, several<br />

leading fund managers have been appointed<br />

because of their consistent long-term risk<br />

graded investment performance, US-compliant<br />

investment models, SEC regulation, and IRS tax<br />

reporting. This is vital for the client to achieve their<br />

financial goals and objectives.<br />

Reporting to the IRS<br />

Our investment and platform partners provide all<br />

the annual returns required by the individual for<br />

the IRS and in the required IRS format. Reporting<br />

to the IRS is simplified this way.<br />

More Complex Situations<br />

We understand that tax isn't easy and can get<br />

complicated and confusing. We work with several<br />

top tax firms and lawyers who will help unravel<br />

any issues or glitches that may have occurred<br />

over time. They understand both US and current<br />

country issues.<br />

Individual and personalized planning is essential,<br />

and in conjunction with our US Tax Partners, we<br />

can produce this compliant and modern solution<br />

without unnecessary costs or wrappers.<br />

Retirement Planning<br />

Planning for the future is a vital part of our service,<br />

including retirement planning for US Connected<br />

Persons. Non-resident US Connected Persons<br />

can fund domestic US pensions, but several issues<br />

revolve around the tax treatment of this group of<br />

individuals.<br />

We can facilitate a pension solution for nonresident<br />

US Connected Persons with the added<br />

advantage that if you decide to return to the USA,<br />

it is still a compliant and tax-efficient retirement<br />

structure.<br />

Summary<br />

All our solutions comply with US reporting and<br />

investment requirements as we have outlined. Our<br />

investment managers are all SEC-regulated.<br />

We have US-qualified advisers to assist when a<br />

client returns to the United States. The service,<br />

pension, and investment will not be affected if the<br />

client wishes.<br />

If you have any questions or want to know your<br />

investment options, reach out to Beacon Global<br />

Wealth Management to set up a free financial<br />

consultation with a financial advisor.<br />

Beacon Global Wealth Management are not tax experts, and due to the<br />

complexities of the tax system and your aims and objectives, it is highly<br />

advisable that you seek an independent tax opinion. You are fully aware<br />

that BGWM are not Tax Advisers and, as such cannot be held responsible<br />

should the applicable tax authority raise a claim against you for any future<br />

taxes.<br />

The information on this page does not disclose all the risks and other<br />

significant issues related to the investments. Prior to transacting, potential<br />

investors should ensure that they have consulted with their financial adviser<br />

and fully understand the terms of the investments and any applicable risks.<br />

Any views, opinions, or estimates expressed in this document reflect the<br />

current views and opinions of Beacon Global Wealth Management,however,<br />

these views, opinions, and estimates are subject to change.<br />

The value of investment products may go down as well as up and any<br />

data on past performance, modeling, or back-testing contained herein is<br />

no indication as to future performance. No representation is made as to<br />

the reasonableness of the assumptions made within or the accuracy or<br />

completeness of any modeling or back-testing. The value of any investment<br />

may fluctuate as a result of market changes. The information in this<br />

document is not intended to predict actual results and no assurances are<br />

given with respect thereto.<br />

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100 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 101

Joanna Leggett explores the good life in the cities of Sète and Montpellier in the<br />

Herault department, Occitanie, southern France…<br />

Is this the<br />

true South<br />

of France?<br />

Sète<br />

Sète<br />

Sète sits at the head of a narrow isthmus<br />

which encloses the Étang de Thau, a<br />

saltwater lagoon which runs down as far as<br />

Marseillan to the Canal du Midi. All along<br />

this western coast of the Mediterranean<br />

there are such lagoons, and many if not all,<br />

are renowned for the quality of their seafood<br />

with oysters and mussels a speciality! The<br />

town, with its many canals which give it<br />

the nickname the ‘Venice of Occitanie’, is<br />

famous for its water jousting – a tradition<br />

that was born in the year 1666 when Louis<br />

XIV was living in the Louvre and Versailles<br />

was still a country hunting lodge!<br />

Discover Sète<br />

The first stones of the port in Sète were laid<br />

in 1666 and water jousting took place to<br />

celebrate the event and it quickly became the<br />

local sport. In fact this maritime sport most<br />

likely dates to Roman times – though it’s now<br />

firmly a passionate feature of Languedoc<br />

culture.<br />

From mid-June onwards, water-borne<br />

contests are held along the canals. Huge<br />

rowing boats are specially crafted with<br />

raised ladders at one end, four jousters stand<br />

on these ‘tintaine’ while ten rowers propel<br />

102 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 103

along the coast and the weather is usually so<br />

mild that eating Christmas lunch outside is not<br />

unknown!<br />

And it’s well connected too, for in 1839<br />

the Montpellier-Séte railway was opened,<br />

connecting the port to the ancient city just 10<br />

kms inland.<br />

Discover Montpellier<br />

Montpellier is home to one of the oldest<br />

universities in the world as well as the oldest<br />

medical school still in operation. Past alumnae<br />

include Petrarch, Rabelais and Nostradamus.<br />

Sète<br />

Montpellier remains a leading university<br />

town – it’s estimated as many as a third of its<br />

residents are students, and it has a rich cultural<br />

life dating back centuries. The city was called<br />

Monspessulanus by the Romans. It survived<br />

Cathars and wars of religion, and became part<br />

of Aragon when Marie of Montpellier brought<br />

the city with her as part of her dowry when she<br />

married Peter II of Aragon. It became a major<br />

economic centre and primary source for the<br />

spice trade in France. In the 14 th century Sète<br />

passed to James III of Majorca who then sold<br />

it to the French crown to raise money for a war<br />

back in the 14 th century.<br />

Montpellier<br />

the boats – all dressed in white. On-board,<br />

bands of pipers and drummers knock out a<br />

beat to encourage each boat forward. Like<br />

an orchestrated ballet, boats pass each<br />

other seven times while, at the same time,<br />

huge brass bands blast forth to excite and<br />

encourage spectators lining the quay.<br />

As boats get closer the first jouster picks<br />

up the shield and jousting pole and tries<br />

to dislodge the opposition boat’s jouster<br />

from their platform. Naturally there’s great<br />

applause when anyone falls into the canal!<br />

As with any self-respecting sport there are<br />

different categories. Children start learning<br />

from the age of 10. And there’s a junior division<br />

for the under 21’s. But, the most prestigious<br />

competition is the heavyweight (anyone over<br />

88 kg in weight) and this is considered the<br />

Blue Ribbon event!<br />

It all culminates with the feast of St Louis (the<br />

patron saint of Sète). A carnival lasting several<br />

days is held in mid to late August which bears<br />

the grandiose title of ‘World Championship’.<br />

Jousts are well attended and it’s best to book<br />

a seat on the temporary stands to get a good<br />

view. Or better still watch from a table at one<br />

of the many restaurants which line the sides<br />

of the Royal Canal. The finest seafood, local<br />

wine and unmatched entertainment – it’s a<br />

pretty unbeatable combination.<br />

Sète however is far more than just ‘world<br />

headquarters’ for water jousting, it has an<br />

extremely pretty marina and busy port. There<br />

are wonderful sandy beaches which run all<br />

When Louis XIV made Sète the capital of<br />

Bas Languedoc, the town became ever more<br />

important and grew accordingly. Parts of its<br />

historic centre date back to this time including<br />

the Promenade de Peyrou and Esplanade.<br />

Its position on hilly ground just inland with<br />

abundance of year round sunshine and sea<br />

breezes made perfect growing conditions for<br />

the vines. This made its citizens very wealthy<br />

and they built grand houses and upgraded<br />

their living conditions – until phylloxera killed<br />

the vines off in the 1890s. Modern grafting<br />

methods have overcome the vine disease<br />

and today the city is once more surrounded<br />

by vineyards and garrigue (Mediterranean<br />

scrubland).<br />

All around in the hills of the Hérault there are<br />

charming villages and small market towns.<br />

Montpellier<br />

104 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 105

The Port in Marseillan<br />

Marseillan at the south of the Étang de Thau,<br />

the point where the Canal du Midi joins the<br />

salt waters of the Mediterranean, is home to<br />

the sweet vermouth Noilly Prat. Along the<br />

coast, ancient fisherman’s cottages have been<br />

converted into seaside des res and summer<br />

villas dot the landscape. In villages there are<br />

old townhouses clustered around squares.<br />

And in the countryside there are old villas and<br />

winegrowers’ homes. It’s an enchanting area<br />

and with its simpler way of life, some even call<br />

this the true South of France!<br />

Take a look at the property<br />

market in Herault:<br />

Herault is a surprisingly affordable part of<br />

southern France. Prices for properties vary<br />

enormously with bargain houses from less<br />

than £50,000 for a doer upper to £750,000<br />

for a 9-bed stunning villa with a lot of land<br />

and a pool.<br />

106 | The Good Life France<br />

Montpellier<br />

Here are just a few examples of what’s on offer:<br />


€560,000<br />

Close to the lively towns of Narbonne<br />

and Beziers, surrounded by Saint-Chinian<br />

vineyards, a fabulous 4-bed villa with<br />

wonderful pool plus a possible gite.<br />

frenchestateagents.com<br />


88580AS34 – €249,000<br />

An elegant 19th century ‘maison vigneronne’<br />

in a charming, medieval wine growing village<br />

with amenities. 4 bedrooms with the possibility<br />

for more, the house is in tip top condition.<br />

Features include a marble staircase, brand<br />

new roof and high speed internet.<br />

frenchestateagents.com<br />


– A09853 – €51,600<br />

A charming -bed house with a vaulted cellar<br />

is in a lively village. It needs doing up but has<br />

oodles of potential.<br />

frenchestateagents.com<br />

Joanna Leggett is marketing director at<br />

Leggett Immobilier – you can view the full<br />

portfolio of properties for sale in Herault at:<br />

frenchestatagents.com<br />

frenchestateagents.com<br />


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The Good Life France | 107

42,000 bottles in his lifetime. He liked to be<br />

served champagne at 11am precisely – Pol<br />

Roger was his favourite.<br />

He wasn’t the only famous person to enjoy<br />

champagne. Napoleon Bonaparte declared<br />

‘“I cannot live without Champagne. If I win,<br />

I deserve it; If I lose, I need it” and F Scott<br />

Fitzgerald claimed “Too much of anything is<br />

bad. Except Champagne – too much is just<br />

right.”<br />

In fact, the reason it’s so popular probably<br />

originates from the tradition or royals and<br />

aristocrats drinking it to mark celebrations<br />

in the 18th century when the expensive drink<br />

(even then, though largely this was due to<br />

its habit of the bottes blowing up) made it<br />

a status symbol, plus it was thought to have<br />

‘positive effects on a woman’s beauty and a<br />

man’s wit, and who are we to disagree?!<br />

Oh, and one more reason to enjoy the bubbles<br />

– according to some scientists, a couple of<br />

glasses of Champagne is thought to help<br />

counteract the process of memory loss as you<br />

age. I’ll raise a glass to that!<br />

If you want to find out more about<br />

Champagne, read more here where Laurent<br />

explains: how Champagne is made – and<br />

how to serve it<br />

Find out more and<br />

join the club at:<br />

somMailier.com<br />

and get a special<br />

introductory offer<br />

of 10% on any<br />

product including<br />

Champagne –<br />

just use the<br />

code TGLF<strong>2022</strong><br />

on the check<br />

out page…<br />


how it got its pizzaz!<br />

Wine expert Laurent Yung of SomMailier.<br />

com, the French Wine Club in the USA, shares<br />

some sparkling fizzy facts about the world’s<br />

favourite celebratory drink!<br />

Champagne is irrevocably associated with<br />

glamour, luxury and festive occasions. Is it the<br />

bubbles? There’s an estimated 49 million of<br />

them in each bottle. Or perhaps it’s the pop<br />

of the cork, shot out due to the staggering 90<br />

pounds per square inch of pressure in a single<br />

bottle (a car tyre has about 30 pounds per<br />

square inch!). There are people who obsess<br />

about the ‘recorded flight of a cork’ and the<br />

record is a whopping 177 feet (54 metres). And<br />

corks are fast – flying out at a speed of up to<br />

around 30 mph (much more if you shake the<br />

bottle)!<br />

For me it’s the taste and the feeling you get<br />

when you sip a glass of Champagne. Some<br />

300 million bottles are produced each year<br />

in Champagne and left to mature for at least<br />

15 months, and to ferment twice (that’s what<br />

gives it the bubbles) in hundreds of miles of<br />

underground cellars. It’s exported to around<br />

190 countries and after the French, Americans<br />

are the biggest consumers of Champagne,<br />

followed by the British with Winston Churchill<br />

setting an example by drinking an estimated<br />

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108 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 109

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Brioche berry &<br />

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1 packet 10 mini brioche or 1 brioche loaf<br />

150g/5½oz white chocolate, chopped<br />

300g/10½oz fresh or frozen raspberries<br />

55g/2oz caster sugar (powder sugar)<br />

1 tbsp plain flour<br />

500ml/18 fl oz sour cream or<br />

crème fraiche (half fat if desired!)<br />

3 eggs<br />

½ tsp vanilla essence<br />

2 tbsp icing sugar<br />

METHOD<br />

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.<br />

Layer the slices of brioche or cut into small<br />

pieces. Coarsely chop chocolate.<br />

Place half of the Brioche in a deep sided pie<br />

dish. Sprinkle with half of the chopped white<br />

chocolate and half of raspberries and then<br />

repeat with a top layer.<br />

If you’re using frozen raspberries, pop them in<br />

a microwave oven for 3 minutes.<br />

Mix the sugar and flour. Whisk together<br />

sour cream/crème fraiche, eggs and vanilla<br />

essence. Pour evenly over the top.<br />

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown<br />

and set in the centre. Leave to cool for 10<br />

minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar for extra<br />

wow factor and sweetness<br />

Delicious served with ice cream or cream.<br />

The Good Life France | 111

METHOD<br />

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4<br />

Pain perdu:<br />

You can keep the puddings in the fridge for<br />

up to two days; reheat in a microwave for 60<br />

seconds and crisp the tops for about a minute<br />

under a grill/pre-heated broiler.<br />

Oven-cooked<br />

chocolate<br />

pain perdu<br />

with bourbon toffee sauce<br />

This absolutely delicious adaptation<br />

of a classic French pain perdu by Chef<br />

Rachel Howard (Le Cordon Bleu Paris),<br />

Gîte La Vuzelle, Chambéranger, Savoie,<br />

France features chocolate and a rich<br />

toffee bourbon sauce. It’s utterly, utterly<br />

scrumptious!<br />

Makes approximately 10 ramekins or small forms,<br />

depending on the size<br />


Pain Perdu:<br />

¼ teaspoon salt<br />

4 medium eggs<br />

1 litre (4 cups) milk (demi or whole)<br />

200g (cup) white granulated (caster) sugar<br />

1 tablespoon vanilla essence<br />

900g (4 ½ cups) day-old bread, cubed (see<br />

note below)<br />

300g (1 ½ cups) milk or dark chocolate chips<br />

or chocolate disks, chopped medium<br />

Optional: 3 ripe to over-ripe bananas,<br />

halved and sliced<br />

Optional: Cinnamon-sugar mixture for<br />

sprinkling<br />

Toffee Bourbon (or rum) Sauce:<br />

½ cup (100g) white granulated (caster) sugar<br />

½ cup (113g) butter<br />

½ cup (120ml) double cream (heavy cream/<br />

crème entière), room temperature<br />

¼ cup (60ml) rum (light or dark)<br />

Whisk the salt, eggs, vanilla, milk and sugar<br />

until well combined and the sugar is dissolved.<br />

Cut the bread into cubes and add to the<br />

egg mixture and let them soak for about 10<br />

minutes but no more than 20 minutes. If left<br />

too long in the mixture, the bread will begin<br />

to dissolve and there will more of a pudding<br />

texture to the final product. You may find that<br />

you have leftover egg mixture after filling the<br />

ramekins; if so, add some more bread cubes<br />

and fill one or two more ramekins.<br />

If you decide to use one large form rather than<br />

individual ramekins, then prepare the form by<br />

buttering well.<br />

Pour the mix into each ramekin until about<br />

half full. Then sprinkle over the chocolate (and<br />

bananas if using) and fill each ramekin with<br />

remaining mix to the rim. Ensure that each<br />

ramekin is about half full of liquid mix.<br />

Pop some more chocolate drops over the top.<br />

You can also sprinkle the top of each ramekin<br />

with a small amount of cinnamon-sugar – just<br />

check more often while baking to ensure that<br />

the top does not burn and cover lightly with a<br />

sheet of foil if the cinnamon-sugar is browning<br />

too quickly.<br />

Place the ramekins in large high sided pan and<br />

place on the middle oven rack. Fill the pan with<br />

hot water until it reaches about halfway up the<br />

sides of the ramekins (a ‘bain marie’).<br />

Bake for approximately 30 minutes,<br />

depending on your oven. Be careful not to<br />

overbake or they will lose the pudding texture.<br />

They should be softer than a quiche coming<br />

out of the oven. While baking, begin preparing<br />

the rum sauce (see below).<br />

Remove the puddings from the oven and<br />

allow to set for at least ten minutes. Serve<br />

at room temperature (Chantilly cream goes<br />

well) or warm with toffee sauce (a sprinkling of<br />

powdered sugar is attractive, with the sauce<br />

served in a shot glass on the side).<br />

Toffee bourbon Sauce:<br />

Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt<br />

on medium heat. After the foam has subsided,<br />

watch the fat solids carefully for their color, until<br />

they have turned a medium-dark brown and<br />

the butter begins to smell nutty. The color of the<br />

butter will determine the color of the sauce, as<br />

well as the depth of the nutty flavor, so don’t lose<br />

your nerve and pull the butter off too soon. While<br />

still on the heat, add the sugar and whisk until<br />

the sugar is completely dissolved.<br />

Add the heavy cream (be careful; it will boil<br />

up quickly and then subside). Whisk to ensure<br />

that the sauce is a smooth consistency, since<br />

adding the cream may re-crystallize the sugar,<br />

especially if the cream was cool. If the sauce<br />

has a grainy texture, then continue whisking<br />

on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved,<br />

and the sauce has come together again. Add<br />

the bourbon (or rum) and continue heating<br />

for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol (this<br />

will ensure that the sauce retains the flavor<br />

without the harsh notes of raw alcohol).<br />

The sauce is best served immediately with the<br />

warm pudding, either on the side or drizzled<br />

over the top. However, it can be saved in<br />

a plastic container in the refrigerator, and<br />

either reheated as a whole or in individual shot<br />

glasses in the microwave. If reheated, stir or<br />

whisk after reheating to ensure that the sauce<br />

has a smooth consistency.<br />

You can use any kind of day-old bread that is on<br />

hand: for example, baguette will have more texture<br />

and yield more crunchy bits at the top (a more<br />

dramatic presentation), while brioche will dissolve<br />

into more of a cohesive pudding texture. Also, if<br />

more texture is desired, then cut larger cubes, or cut<br />

smaller cubes for a more pudding-like texture.<br />

112 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 113


1 cup/200gr All Purpose flour<br />

4 large eggs<br />

¾ cup/180g cheese, grated; Gruyère,<br />

Emmental, or other strong cheese (Comté<br />

also works well)<br />

½ cup/125ml milk<br />

¼ cup/60ml olive oil<br />

½ tbsp baking powder<br />

Pinch salt and pepper<br />

Flavouring Ingredients<br />

¾ cup/180gr lardons, or chopped ham,<br />

cooked and cooled<br />

¼ cup/60gr of pitted green olives, sliced<br />

1 tbsp dried chives, or 2 tbsp fresh chives<br />

METHOD<br />

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F and lightly<br />

grease a ‘loaf’ or similar sized tin.<br />

Place the oil, milk and eggs in a bowl and mix<br />

thoroughly.<br />

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking<br />

powder, salt and pepper. Once mixed, add the<br />

chives and the grated cheese, and mix again.<br />

Next, add the cooked and cooled lardons, or<br />

chopped ham, and sliced olives to the flour<br />

mixture and combine so that everything is<br />

lightly coated in flour.<br />

Finally, add the wet mixture to the dry, and<br />

combine thoroughly – being sure not to leave<br />

any pockets of flour.<br />

Pour the mixture into the baking tin, and place<br />

into the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until<br />

the top is lightly browned, and coming away<br />

from the edges of the tin.<br />

Remove from the oven when cooked, and<br />

leave in the tin for 10-15-minutes to set before<br />

removing, allowing a further 10-15-minutes<br />

before serving.<br />

Cake Salé<br />

Prep Time: 15 minutes<br />

Cook Time: 45 minutes<br />

Total Time: 1 hour<br />

Portions: 10<br />

by Kit Smyth<br />

Perfect for a light lunch, or a conversation-starting<br />

brunch, this Provençal classic raises glasses and<br />

eyebrows with equal ease. Who says you can’t have cake<br />

for breakfast?! Kit Smyth’s savoury cake recipe is easy<br />

to make and utterly scrumptious…<br />

114 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 115

Chaudrée Française<br />

or French Chowder<br />

Option 1: Clams, tinned or fresh, but keep<br />

the juice if using tinned.<br />

Option 2: Seafood mix – often comes with<br />

mussels, cockles, calamari rings, etc.<br />

Option 3: Cod or other white fish: always<br />

good, but do stir the soup with care, as the<br />

chunks can break up.<br />

METHOD<br />

Heat a large saucepan, or Dutch oven, over<br />

medium-high heat, and add the lardons,<br />

gently frying until any fat has dissolved and<br />

only nice chunks of bacon remain. Remove<br />

half and keep for later.<br />

Add the oil and butter to the pan, and wait<br />

for the butter to foam. When ready, add<br />

the onions and garlic, reduce the heat to<br />

medium, and cook until the onion is soft and<br />

just caramelising. Sprinkle the flour over and<br />

stir to mix thoroughly. Cook for 1 minute,<br />

stirring constantly.<br />

Increase the heat to high, wait 30 seconds,<br />

and add the vermouth/white wine, then stir<br />

vigorously to scrape all the flavourful bits from<br />

the bottom of the pan.<br />

Note: BE CAREFUL, the pan will be HOT<br />

and adding alcohol can cause spontaneous<br />

flames. It’s advisable to step back as you pour<br />

the alcohol in, and allow it to ‘flash’ before<br />

returning to inspect.<br />

Add the diced potatoes, and the stock/canned<br />

juices, together with the herbs, cover and<br />

allow to simmer for 5 minutes.<br />

Lifting the lid, add the seafood selection,<br />

stir thoroughly and check the potatoes for<br />

doneness. Re-cover and cook for a further<br />

10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked<br />

through.<br />

When cooked, add the single cream or<br />

a healthy dollop of creme fraiche to the<br />

potatoes, and bring to a gentile simmer.<br />

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and<br />

sprinkle the reserved bacon lardons over the<br />

top, or fresh parsley if you prefer.<br />

Usually associated with Northeastern America, where a hearty clam chowder is a staple<br />

on many New England menus, this version has a distinct French kick. Chef Kit Smyth’s<br />

Chaudrée Française, or French Chowder, is perfect throughout the year, but all the more<br />

so as the days draw shorter.<br />

With its abundance of fresh fish and shellfish, and of course world renowned dairy<br />

products, France’s rich gastronomic traditions ensure this thick and creamy soup is<br />

perfect for any dinner table<br />

Serves 6<br />


1 cup/200g lardons/thick-cut bacon batons<br />

1 tbsp/20ml olive oil<br />

2 tsp/10ml butter<br />

1 large/150g onion, finely diced<br />

2 cloves garlic, finely minced<br />

1 shot/30ml Vermouth, or ½ cup/100ml white<br />

wine, dry – Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc<br />

½ cup/65g all-purpose flour<br />

2 large/300g potatoes, waxy, diced large<br />

1 cup/250ml single cream, or thinned creme<br />

fraiche<br />

1 cup/250ml fish stock, including tinned/<br />

canned clam juice if using.<br />

1 tsp each dried Tarragon, chives, parsley<br />

300g seafood: you can use any of the<br />

following combinations, depending on what is<br />

available in your area and within the season.<br />

116 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 117

Last<br />

Word<br />


chalet villa château farmhouse apartment vineyard gîte cottage coast country city<br />

French philosopher Albert Camus once said, ‘autumn is like a second spring when<br />

every leaf is a flower.’ And as I walk the dogs along the narrow roads in my little<br />

corner of rural France, the hedges are festooned with plum-hued berries and plump<br />

rose hips, and the leaves of the trees are turning every colour of the autumnal<br />

rainbow – from chartreuse to flamboyant fiery crimson and burnished copper…<br />

Mushrooms flourish, sprouting from tree trunks and forest floors, and lurking under<br />

hedges. Wandering through the woods, we encounter basket-carrying neighbours,<br />

foraging for fungi – chestnut coloured, flashy yellow and coral and polka-dotted<br />

like something out of a fairy tale, girolles, chanterelles and cèpes.<br />

If any are not sure whether their haul is safe to sauté, there are plenty of experts in<br />

the village. Paul, who is a noted mushroom specialist, Stefan who claims to be one,<br />

or the local pharmacy.<br />

The only time I have foraged was with a friend. We went to Stefan as we knew no<br />

better. He held up our bounty and compared the varieties to barely legible, badly<br />

drawn images in a book published in 1896.<br />

“Yep, they’re all good, delicious cooked in butter” and he kissed his fingers and<br />

closed his eyes, enraptured at the thought.<br />

Just to be sure, we popped to the pharmacy. The chemist put on his little round<br />

glasses and examined the piles in our baskets. He picked each mushroom up,<br />

popped some to one side and placed others back in the basket. At the end, he’d<br />

put all the mushrooms in the basket except for our prize jumbo-sized, pointy hatted<br />

specimen<br />

“Are you married” he asked. We nodded.<br />

“Happily married?” he said.<br />

“Yes” we assured him “why do you ask?”<br />

“Well, if you love your husbands, you should not feed them this one”<br />

“Would it kill my husband if I had given him that one” asked my friend, turning a<br />

ghostly shade of pale at the thought of it.<br />

“No” said the pharmacist snickered, “but he would shit for a week!”<br />

Janine<br />

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

Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France, is out now on Amazon<br />

and all good book shops.<br />

118 | The Good Life France<br />


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The Good Life France | 119


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