Autumn 2023

Brimming with fabulous features and stunning photos, inspiring destination guides, scrumptious recipes, history, culture and much, much more: Discover Provence, Ariege, Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and Bordeaux, explore southern and northern France, secret places and exquisite castles. Bringing France to you - wherever you are.

Brimming with fabulous features and stunning photos, inspiring destination guides, scrumptious recipes, history, culture and much, much more: Discover Provence, Ariege, Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and Bordeaux, explore southern and northern France, secret places and exquisite castles. Bringing France to you - wherever you are.


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The<br />

Good Life France<br />

ISSUE Nọ 35<br />

ISSN 2754-6799<br />

A real-life<br />

sleeping<br />

beauty castle<br />

Ten years after an Australian<br />

family were inspired to bring<br />

the abandoned Chateau de<br />

Gudanes back to life – it’s<br />

utterly glorious<br />

The Armada sails<br />

Ships ahoy in the<br />

historic city of Rouen<br />

Spotlight on<br />

Saint Malo, Brittany<br />

Swashbuckling adventure,<br />

romantic walks, and<br />

scrumptious Breton fare<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong><br />


Magazine<br />

Discover wine<br />

and food paradise<br />

in Burgundy…<br />

Explore stunning alpine Ariège,<br />

historic Picardy, charming Pasde-Calais,<br />

and more…<br />

Delicious recipes<br />

Bringing you an irresistible<br />

taste of France – including<br />

the most mouth-watering,<br />

moreish French onion soup<br />

124 pages<br />

of inspirational<br />

features and<br />

gorgeous photos

Bienvenue<br />

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3-bedroom village house with garden.<br />

6% agency fees included paid by the buyer.<br />


Country Cottage<br />

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

I am delighted to share the <strong>Autumn</strong> issue of the magazine with<br />

you – chock full of fantastic features and fabulous photos, inspiring<br />

destination guides, scrumptious recipes, history, culture and much,<br />

much more.<br />

This is a particularly delicious issue as we wind our way through the<br />

vineyards of Burgundy along the famed route of the Vallée de la<br />

Gastronomie, eat some of the best chocolate in the world in the town<br />

of Valrhona in southern France, and shine a light on Tournus, a hidden<br />

gem that’s a gastronomic destination extraordinaire. Plus we have<br />

some utterly irresistible recipes for you including for a classic and totally<br />

mouth-watering French Onion soup that will knock your socks off!<br />

We catch up with an Australian family who fell in love with the<br />

abandoned Chateau de Gudanes at the foot of the Pyrénées<br />

mountains near Toulouse after they saw it advertised for sale on the<br />

internet. We take a look at their ten years of renovation – and it’s<br />

breath-taking, truly gorgeous.<br />

Explore the swashbuckling seaside city of Saint-Malo in Brittany,<br />

and alpine Ariège, a land of tree-covered mountains overhung with<br />

chocolate-box-lid-pretty medieval villages. Visit the perfect place to<br />

spend autumn in France – the Rhone Valley in Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.<br />

Footwear fans beware, coming up is a shoe museum the like of which<br />

exists nowhere else in the world. Seriously - shoe heaven.<br />

Find out why an Armada of tall ships regularly floats into the ancient<br />

city of Rouen, discover the bucolic countryside and seaside charms<br />

of Pas-de-Calais (my part of France) in the far north, pop to sunny<br />

Bordeaux, historic Picardy, and lovely Languedoc Roussillon.<br />

Discover the historic bell-makers of Normandy, traditional mat-making<br />

in Provence, ogle a unique exhibition of French couturier Yves Saint<br />

Laurent’s most incredible designs, plus find out how French chef<br />

Escoffier changed the course of culinary history in France. And more…<br />

I hope I’ve tempted you to flip the pages and that you’ll find this issue<br />

an entertaining, informational, and inspiring read.<br />

This magazine is totally free to read, and subscribe to, just hop on to<br />

page 4 and sign up! And please do share this issue with your friends –<br />

that’s free too.<br />

I wish you a very happy autumn, bisous from my little corner in rural<br />

northern France,<br />

Janine<br />

Janine Marsh<br />

Editor<br />

Follow us on Twitter,<br />

Instagram & Facebook<br />

The Good Life France | 3

ISSN 2754-6799<br />

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Click the button below<br />



The Good Life France Magazine<br />

No. 35 Summer <strong>2023</strong><br />

ISSN 2754-6799<br />

Contributors<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 and<br />

lifestyle. Her favourite<br />

place? ‘Usually where I<br />

have just been!’<br />

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

Ally Mitchell is a<br />

blogger and freelance<br />

writer, specialising in<br />

food and recipes. Ally<br />

left the UK to live in<br />

Toulouse in 2021 and<br />

now writes about her<br />

new life in France on<br />

her food blog<br />

NigellaEatsEverything<br />

Jeremy Flint is an awardwinning<br />

professional<br />

photographer and<br />

writer specialising in<br />

travel, landscape and<br />

location photography.<br />

Published in multiple<br />

publications, his awards<br />

include Association of<br />

Photographers Discovery<br />

Award Winner, National<br />

Geographic Traveller<br />

Grand Prize Winner, and<br />

five-times finalist Travel<br />

Photographer of the Year.<br />

Love France?<br />

Subscribe to our lively and fun<br />

podcast – everything you want<br />

to know about France and<br />

more – click the button:<br />


Podcast<br />

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France weekly newsletter for<br />

fabulous features, recipes and<br />

more.<br />


34<br />

8<br />


8 The Chateau de Gudanes,<br />

Pyrénées<br />

The incredible story of an<br />

abandoned sleeping beauty<br />

castle bought back to life by a<br />

determined Australian family.<br />

18 Spotlight on the Drôme and<br />

the Loire departments<br />

The unspoiled, unknown and<br />

surprising part of southern<br />

France.<br />

28 Ariège – the land that<br />

time forgot<br />

Discover the stunning region that’s<br />

unknown even to the French.<br />

34 Le weekend in: Pas de Calais<br />

Explore an authentic,<br />

picturesque, and welcoming<br />

corner between the sea and<br />

the land.<br />

The<br />

Good Life France<br />

ISSUE Nọ 35<br />

A real-life<br />

sleeping<br />

beauty castle<br />

Ten years after an Australian<br />

family were inspired to bring<br />

the abandoned Chateau de<br />

Gudanes back to life – it’s<br />

utterly glorious<br />

The Armada sails<br />

Ships ahoy in the<br />

historic city of Rouen<br />

Spotlight on<br />

Saint Malo, Brittany<br />

Swashbuckling adventure,<br />

romantic walks, and<br />

scrumptious Breton fare<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong><br />


Discover wine<br />

and food paradise<br />

in Burgundy…<br />

Explore stunning alpine Ariège,<br />

historic Picardy, charming Pasde-Calais,<br />

and more…<br />

Delicious recipes<br />

Bringing you an irresistible<br />

taste of France – including<br />

the most mouth-watering,<br />

moreish French onion soup<br />

Magazine<br />

FREE<br />

124 pages<br />

of inspirational<br />

features and<br />

gorgeous photos<br />

The Good Life France Magazine<br />

Front Cover: Eiffel Tower, Paris<br />

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

Editorial assistant: Trudy Watkins<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 />

ISSN 2754-6799 Issue 35 <strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

42<br />


42 The Grape Escape, Provence<br />

Witness the timeless tradition<br />

of the vendange, the grape<br />

harvest, in Provence.<br />

48 A tasty trek through the north<br />

of France<br />

Follow the route of the delicious<br />

Vallée de la Gastronomie through<br />

Burgundy and Beaujolais.<br />

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

56<br />

56 Rouen Armada<br />

Find out why once in a while,<br />

tons of tall ships float into the<br />

historic city of Rouen.<br />

62 Normandy Bells<br />

A visit to one of the last two<br />

ancient bell foundries left in<br />

France.<br />

66 Transparent Yves Saint<br />

Laurent<br />

Haute couture is part of the<br />

fabric of France – and a<br />

unique exhibition of Yves Saint<br />

Laurent’s work reveals all.<br />

72 Secret France: Tournus<br />

Historic, gastronomic and<br />

picturesque, the small town in<br />

Burgundy that has it all!<br />

94<br />

GUIDES<br />

100 French language<br />

Looking to learn French?<br />

Immersion in France might be<br />

just right for you.<br />

102 Prestige Property Show<br />

Dreaming of buying a property<br />

in, or living in France? Don’t miss<br />

the brilliant Property and Lifestyle<br />

Show in Southampton in October.<br />

106 Good vibes in Bordeaux<br />

Sunny, vibrant Bordeaux city<br />

offers a laid-back lifestyle within<br />

easy reach of glorious coastal<br />

towns and beautiful countryside<br />

with excellent transport links.<br />

110 Applying for a visa for France?<br />

Make sure you tick all the right<br />

boxes for success.<br />

72<br />

78 Saint Malo, Brittany<br />

Swashbuckling adventure,<br />

romantic walks, and delicious<br />

Breton fare - soak up the<br />

maritime atmosphere of<br />

Saint-Malo.<br />

90 Compiègne, Picardy<br />

Gateway to one of the largest<br />

national forests in France,<br />

Compiègne in Hauts de France<br />

is full of nice surprises.<br />


94 Your photos<br />

Featuring the most beautiful<br />

photos shared on our<br />

Facebook page.<br />

106<br />


84 A taste of France: Auguste<br />

Escoffier<br />

A look at the life of one of<br />

France’s greatest culinary artists.<br />

115 French Onion Soup<br />

A real taste of France in a bowl,<br />

this classic dish is absolutely<br />

scrumptious.<br />

116 Mussel Mouclade<br />

Mouth-watering mussel dish that’s<br />

a speciality of Poitou-Charentes,<br />

southwest France.<br />

118 Pork & Ginger Crepinettes<br />

A delicious dish from the famed<br />

French Ferrandi School of<br />

Culinary Arts.<br />

78<br />


96 What’s New<br />

All the news and events you need<br />

for your next trip to France.<br />

122 Last word<br />

Life in Rural France – finding<br />

art de vivre.<br />

115<br />

120 Perfect Plum Tart<br />

Recipe for Mirabelle plum tart, but<br />

any plums will work – delicious!<br />

4 Subscribe to The Good Life<br />

France Magazine<br />

Everything you want to know<br />

about France and more -<br />

subscription is totally free.<br />

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

In 2010, Karina and Craig Waters flew from<br />

their hometown of Perth in Australia to Paris,<br />

picked up a hire car and drove to a tiny village<br />

called Chateau Verdun in Ariège. They had<br />

dreamed of buying a little French cottage,<br />

something that they could visit for holidays<br />

each year, a lock-up and go home, easy to care<br />

for. Browsing the internet for properties one<br />

day, their 14-year old son came across a murky<br />

photo of a somewhat dishevelled chateau with<br />

a majestic mountain backdrop, and something<br />

about it made him tell his mum – and despite<br />

it looking a bit run down, something about it<br />

made her want to see it for herself.<br />

A love heart seals the deal<br />

It wasn’t what she had in mind, but it pulled<br />

at her heart strings. However, when Karina, a<br />

former accountant, and Craig, now a retired<br />

surgeon, stopped at the gates to the Chateau<br />

de Gudanes and peered through the overgrown<br />

garden it was a shock. The murky photos hadn’t<br />

done the decay justice.<br />

“We couldn’t get past the first few rooms,<br />

there was so much rubble everywhere” says<br />

Karina. And yet they both fell in love with the<br />

castle there and then. “I can even pinpoint the<br />

moment it happened. In what is now the Rose<br />

Salon, amidst the tons of rubble we could see a<br />

red marble fireplace, and on the corner was an<br />

engraved heart. In that moment” says Karina<br />

“we felt that so much love had gone into this<br />

place, we wanted to give it back its heart.”<br />

The fairy tale<br />

Château de Gudanes<br />

Once upon a time, a beautiful castle in the far south of France was unloved<br />

and forgotten. Until someone came along and woke the sleeping beauty.<br />

Janine Marsh visits the castle ten years on…<br />

The Rose Salon the heart of the castle<br />

Ten years of renovation<br />

The Château turned out to be a Class 1 Listed<br />

Historic Monument which made just about<br />

everything a challenge. Buying it took three<br />

years. Getting permission to do anything from<br />

clearing the rubble to repairing the floors<br />

can take years – and very little can be done<br />

without permission from several authorities.<br />

But Karina was determined to bring this<br />

beautiful castle back to life. Since 2013, when<br />

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

she became its “caretaker”, she has taken<br />

on the monumental task of restoring the<br />

neglected rooms and the gorgeous gardens to<br />

their former glory.<br />

“The first job was clearing out the tons of<br />

rubble. The roof had fallen in, trees were<br />

growing out of the top.” But even getting<br />

it cleared wasn’t easy. “Most renovation<br />

teams took one look at the job and ran.” But<br />

eventually it got done, and it was only as the<br />

rooms started to be cleared that the couple<br />

discovered that some rooms had medieval<br />

beams and quite a lot of the Renaissance<br />

décor was salvageable. Karina was hooked.<br />

There was no going back now. Her role was<br />

going to be much more involved than she’d<br />

ever imagined.<br />

For the first couple of years Karina worked<br />

alone, overseeing every element of the<br />

restoration, spending half her time back home<br />

in Perth with her family and half in France,<br />

before her daughter Jas, joined her. “I came<br />

out for a holiday one year, and there was<br />

The Rose Salon<br />

mum, sleeping in a tent, wrapped up in layers<br />

of clothes trying to keep dry and warm. I<br />

realised that she needed help, that this wasn’t<br />

an indulgence, it isn’t a trophy or a hobby, it’s<br />

a vocation and it’s not just about creating a<br />

home, but it’s about preserving, restoring -<br />

saving the castle and its extraordinary history<br />

for the future. In the walls are memories and<br />

love, and our memories and love for the last<br />

ten years are there now.”<br />

And for all who visit, a little of their hearts are<br />

left there too – including mine.<br />

Because ten years on, the Château de<br />

Gudanes is transformed. Karina and Jas host<br />

workshops for visitors to come and experience<br />

the castle lifestyle, discover its history, eat the<br />

most amazing food, and explore the gorgeous<br />

local area.<br />


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Experience la France Profonde<br />

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Karina<br />

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

A decade of love and<br />

renovation<br />

I’ve followed the fascinating story of the<br />

restoration of the Château de Gudanes for<br />

ten years now, since a French friend who<br />

lives in Ariège emailed me about “a crazy<br />

Australian lady who is trying to restore a<br />

castle, an epic task, but oh you should see<br />

the castle – it’s dazzling.” I contacted Karina<br />

and she agreed that I could share her story. It<br />

quickly became clear just how incredible her<br />

lifelong goal to restore the building was. The<br />

story went viral, capturing the imaginations<br />

of millions, and Karina<br />

has won a legion of fans<br />

who follow the castle’s<br />

journey via her Instagram<br />

page, a best-selling<br />

book and her website:<br />

Châteaugudanes.com<br />

You can hear my<br />

interview with Karina on The Good Life<br />

France podcast<br />

And when Karina got permission to run<br />

workshops for paying guests, I was thrilled to<br />

be able to see the castle for real.<br />

The utterly gorgeous<br />

Château de Gudanes<br />

Driving up to the now world-famous approach<br />

to the Château de Gudanes, we entered<br />

through the grand front doors on a rather<br />

gloomy day, clouds hung low, almost caressing<br />

the roof and towers of the castle. Edith Piaf’s<br />

haunting voice rang out “Je ne regrette rien.” I<br />

had goosebumps.<br />

The original castle that stood here dates to<br />

the 13th century but much of it was rebuilt<br />

between 1741 and 1750 by Ange-Jacques<br />

Gabriel, architect to King Louis XIV (his<br />

creations include the Petit Trianon at Versailles<br />

and the Bourse in Bordeaux). The owner of the<br />

The hall<br />

“If you have ever<br />

considered culinary<br />

tourism, Goût et Voyage<br />

will be the trip of your<br />

dreams. Excellence<br />

at every turn!”<br />

DS, NY<br />

castle one Louis Gaspard de Salles, Marquis<br />

de Gudanes, head of Toulouse Parliament,<br />

nicknamed the "King of the Pyrenees"<br />

because he had an enormous fortune from<br />

his ownership of iron mines in Ariège, was<br />

responsible for its beauty. ‘I like to think that<br />

the Marquis was walking along the corridors of<br />

Versailles and bumped into Gabriel and said<br />

to him ‘hey can you come and soup up my<br />

grandfather’s medieval castle’ and that’s how<br />

he came on board and turned it from a rather<br />

dour building to a pleasure palace of beauty<br />

and elegance.”<br />

The castle’s fortunes after the French<br />

Revolution were never so good. Sold on<br />

several times, it became a school camp<br />

in the 1950s, was bought by a business<br />

conglomerate and then became the Waters<br />

family home.<br />

The castle had 94 rooms, and all were in a<br />

bad way. In the music room, giant mushrooms<br />

were growing up the walls on which real 18<br />

carat gold leaf had once been used to gild<br />

A Taste of Provence. © Exquisite, all-inclusive, small group tours.<br />

www.goutetvoyage.com<br />

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

In the village of Château-Verdun<br />

I felt as if I’d stepped into a time tunnel and<br />

was wandering the corridors of the past.<br />

Jas (who studied art history) and Karina have<br />

done a huge amount of research to bring the<br />

castle back to its most authentic self. They’ve<br />

worked with French experts from Versailles,<br />

historic authorities, and with teams of experts<br />

from around the world to help and guide them,<br />

restoring the medieval beams, preserving the<br />

gilding, the frescoes, wooden panels, marble<br />

fireplaces and other historic features. A local<br />

plasterer in his 80s came out of retirement to<br />

help them as the skills needed are no longer<br />

commonly known. Guests are encouraged<br />

to join in the supervised restoration in one of<br />

the dining rooms where you can help with the<br />

painstaking work of restoring the 18th century<br />

wall frescoes – it’s a fascinating experience.<br />

Chestnut the cat<br />

the sculpted panels and carvings that<br />

represented the Sun King, Louis XIV -<br />

Gaspard de Salles had spared no expense.<br />

Algae from the damp conditions caused by<br />

the roof caving in had spread everywhere.<br />

Fireplaces were hanging off the walls and<br />

floors had collapsed.<br />

Now those rooms are coming back to life.<br />

Through the windows, though it was the<br />

middle of spring, the snow glistened on the<br />

peaks of the mountains. Clouds hung low<br />

almost blanketing the windows. The sound of<br />

a waterfall can be heard.<br />

Bruce showing the way<br />

Jas<br />

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

The bedrooms are exquisite, think antique<br />

beds, chandeliers, and antique furnishings.<br />

In the hall an impressive chandelier gives off<br />

a candlelit glow that makes you sigh it’s so<br />

gorgeous. In the cellars, where in the 13th<br />

century, Cathars hid from their oppressors,<br />

there are rooms that are yet to be explored.<br />

“When you stay here you become a part of<br />

the family” says Karina. The close-knit team<br />

includes top pastry chef Jennifer Pogmore<br />

and chef Tracey Valentinawood who produce<br />

the most fabulous feasts. The team love to<br />

share their favourite places, so you get to see<br />

a little of the area like Camon, officially one of<br />

the prettiest villages in France and medieval<br />

Mirepoix. Villages here, including Chateau<br />

Verdun, have an alpine flavour. Though<br />

the area is rather secret, those in the know<br />

come for the rejuvenating mountain waters.<br />

Prehistoric remains are not rare. Jagged<br />

mountains and verdant valleys, castles and<br />

forests make you feel as if you’re entering<br />

Game of Thrones territory - it is a dramatic<br />

and majestic landscape. Plus, the area is a<br />

treasure chest of antique shopping and Karina<br />

shares her favourite antique spots with guests.<br />

But always, it’s the Château de Gudanes<br />

that’s the star. “It’s in my soul” says Karina.<br />

“I’m surrounded by the most beautiful nature,<br />

and the house is full of happy animals. The<br />

castle has an atmosphere that you can’t<br />

explain in words. There is a life in the building,<br />

in the foundations and the walls. It’s love<br />

made visible.”<br />

Head to the Château de Gudanes website<br />

where you can book your workshop stay:<br />

Châteaugudanes.com<br />

Jennifer making crepes for breakfast at the château<br />

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


Drôme and Loire<br />

The Unspoiled, unknown part<br />

of southern France<br />

Janine Marsh explores the culture and<br />

the art of living in the southern French<br />

regions of Drôme and Loire in Auvergne-<br />

Rhône-Alpes…<br />

I’m not sure that you’ll find a much more diverse<br />

region than Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Within its<br />

12 departments and 1 metropolis, it includes<br />

Lyon, the food capital of France, the snowy<br />

peaks of Mont Blanc, Drôme and Ardèche,<br />

parts of which feel like a more tranquil and<br />

rather nostalgic part of Provence, and then<br />

there are the lakes and volcanoes of Auvergne.<br />

You could spend many months in this vast area<br />

getting to know it and discovering its many<br />

charms, fabulous gastronomy and wines, its<br />

history and culture, chateaux and medieval<br />

villages. But who has months? Not many of<br />

us, so how about a road trip through two of its<br />

most surprising and diverse departments – the<br />

Drôme and the Loire - nothing to do with the<br />

Loire valley though it is named after the River<br />

Loire, the last wild river in Europe, which runs<br />

1006km from Ardèche via the Loire Valley to<br />

the Atlantic Ocean. You could actually drive<br />

the entire route I’ve mapped out in 3 and a<br />

half hours, but if you do it over a few days<br />

or a week, you’ll discover some of the most<br />

incredible parts of the region which gives you<br />

a snapshot of its surprising and astonishing<br />

natural diversity, culture, history, and a<br />

delicious taste of its gastronomic delights…<br />

Valence – gastronomic star<br />

Just a couple of hours by train from Paris<br />

brings you to the city of Valence perched on<br />

the banks of the Rhône river. The capital of<br />

the Drôme department and gateway to the<br />

south of France, Valence is within reach of the<br />

Pre-Alps, the hilly mountainous area between<br />

the Swiss plateau and northern side of the<br />

French Alps, and the Vercors Massif which you<br />

can clearly see from the city’s Esplanade du<br />

Champ du Mars park.<br />

Head into the city centre to wander winding<br />

cobbled streets lined with a melting pot of<br />

Wallpaper room, Valence museum<br />

architectural styles, and discover the history,<br />

culture and cuisine. Don’t miss the Museum of<br />

Valence, a former Bishop’s palace, which hosts<br />

an eclectic collection of artworks including<br />

a stunning early 19th century wallpapered<br />

room – the most complete example in France.<br />

Then head to the rooftop for jaw-dropping<br />

views over the city and river. Transformed into<br />

a viewing point by French architect Jean-Paul<br />

Philippon who also oversaw the design of the<br />

Musée d’Orsay in Paris, it’s fabulous.<br />

“It’s a human-sized town” said guide Stephan<br />

as he led me along medieval flower-filled<br />

cobbled streets pointing out some of the more<br />

unusual features. The Maison des Têtes (House<br />

of the heads) for instance, an incredible 16th<br />

century building, covered in carved heads.<br />

There are ancient chapels and churches, a<br />

statue of Napoleon, not as we usually see<br />

him, but as a 16-year-old student reading a<br />

book – the Emperor was once a lieutenant at<br />

Valence artillery school and in fact stayed at<br />

the Maison des Têtes. And don’t miss lovely<br />

Place Saint-Jean, where a market is held on<br />

Tuesdays, a great place to relax with a glass of<br />

wine at one of the many cafés and bars.<br />

18 Chateau | The de Good la Roche Life © France G Reynard, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Tourism<br />

The Good Life France | 19

Laboutin glass slippers<br />

Azincourt1415.com<br />

24 Rue Charles VI<br />

62310 Azincourt<br />

Step back in time<br />

and discover the past at<br />

Azincourt 1415 historic centre<br />

Valence is a bit of a<br />

gastronomic delight<br />

and is home to chef<br />

Suisse and Pogne Anne-Sophie Pic, whose<br />

restaurants have a total<br />

of 10 Michelin Stars, Maison Pic in Valence<br />

has three stars. Her presence here has brought<br />

more top chefs to the area, so that you’re truly<br />

spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out.<br />

You can’t help noticing that boulangeries and<br />

patisseries all have small dough figures in the<br />

windows. Known as a “Suisse” (Swiss), these<br />

orange blossom flavoured biscuity-brioche cakes<br />

are a speciality of the area and were created in<br />

honour of the Swiss Guard of Pope Pius VI who<br />

died in Valence in 1789. You’ll also see pogne,<br />

a local brioche cake, in every boulangerie in<br />

Valence and across the whole department in<br />

various guises, flavoured with orange blossom<br />

and sometimes bright pink praline.<br />

Don’t miss:<br />

Take a wine tasting at: Les Bouteilles<br />

with the knowledgeable and affable Eric<br />

(who recommends a sweet white to go<br />

with the Suisse!).<br />

Aperitifs at: La Bastille, (19 Grande Rue), a<br />

favourite with the locals who stop off here<br />

while picking up some Armenian food from the<br />

takeaway opposite.<br />

Locals love: Chez Grand-Mere (3-5 Pl. de la<br />

Pierre), famous for the 7-hour slow-cooked<br />

lamb and cosy ambiance.<br />

Stay at: Le Clos Syrah 4* hotel which has a<br />

fabulous gourmet restaurant.<br />

Romans-sur-Isère –<br />

shoe heaven<br />

20km from Valence will bring you to the<br />

former industrial town of Romans-sur-Isere<br />

where the no. 1 place to go is the Shoe<br />

Museum. And I know what you’re thinking<br />

because I did too. A shoe museum? That<br />

doesn’t sound like a good idea. But I assure<br />

you, you are in for a surprise, it’s fascinating!<br />

The museum is in a 17th century former<br />

monastery - and prepare to be amazed.<br />

Romans-sur-Isère was once famous for<br />

its wool and silk industries, but in the 19th<br />

century the local economy tanked when the<br />

silk production industry ended. In its place<br />

the luxury leather and footwear industry<br />

developed, and it was a huge success. You’ll<br />

spot giant shoe sculpture dotted around<br />

the town in homage to the heritage of shoe<br />

production here.<br />

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

After your visit, hot foot it to the Comptoir des<br />

Loges, the oldest restaurant in town. It has a<br />

zinc counter and glistening bar which looks<br />

like they’ve been lifted straight out of a Renoir<br />

painting. Try ravioles du Dauphiné – a cheese<br />

and parsley-filled pasta speciality loved by the<br />

locals since the 15th century when the recipe<br />

was introduced by Italian charcoal burners<br />

working in the area.<br />

Shoes fit for a queen<br />

The museum showcases the history of<br />

footwear, and the collection of 20,000 shoes<br />

is astounding (though not all are on show),<br />

ranging from ancient Egyptian and Roman<br />

sandals to eye-wateringly high 49cm high<br />

platformed shoes from medieval Venice,<br />

Queen Catherine de Medici’s silk shoes,<br />

legendary French footballer Kylian Mbappé’s<br />

unique football boots and Laboutin’s delicate<br />

glass slippers made for the release of the 2012<br />

Disney Cinderella film, plus a regal pair of<br />

sexy stilettos created for the Golden Jubilee<br />

of British Queen Elizabeth II. Made by Patrick<br />

Cox, a pair were sent to the Queen though<br />

she never wore them as far as is known. The<br />

collection is fascinating, surprisingly fun, and<br />

even quite emotional seeing shoes of the type<br />

your mum wore, or that you wore through the<br />

decades that bring back memories, the Dr<br />

Martens loved by punk rockers and rebels in<br />

the 70’s, and shoes that make you think of<br />

Princess Diana.<br />

The collection charts the changes in fashion<br />

and is full of fascinating facts. Details:<br />

museedelachaussure.fr<br />

Romans-sur-Isère has another claim to<br />

fame – its where the first strike was held.<br />

When shoe company owners upgraded their<br />

factory and machinery, they cut the women<br />

workers wages by 25% to help pay for the<br />

cost. All of the workers went on strike - and<br />

won. It gave the locals a reputation for being<br />

strong willed that has lasted to this day. I can<br />

tell you that they may well be that, but they<br />

Bernard, the 'wizard of shoe making' at Cité de la chaussure<br />

are also very friendly and welcoming and<br />

have an ethos of solidarity.<br />

This is totally reflected in the town’s other<br />

must-visit – the Cité de la Chaussure. Alas<br />

the shoe industry here followed the pattern of<br />

the wool and silk industries; cheaper imports<br />

bought an end to the shoe industry here.<br />

But a local group aiming to create new jobs<br />

and preserve the shoe heritage bought up<br />

old machinery, trained artisan shoemakers<br />

and now create shoes that are unique and<br />

fabulous. Don’t leave without a visit to see the<br />

shoes being made and the fabulous onsite<br />

store where you can buy shoes, leather goods,<br />

and the most gorgeous umbrellas.<br />

Comptoir des Loges<br />

Then walk off the calories at the gorgeous<br />

gardens of Erik Boraja just 10km from Romans.<br />

This Japanese and Mediterranean inspired<br />

garden located between the Isère valley and<br />

the Vercors massif is astonishingly beautiful<br />

and a zen paradise.<br />

Art of chocolate at Valrhona<br />

Tain-L’Hermitage – wine<br />

AND chocolate!<br />

A short journey south will bring you to the town<br />

of Tain-L’Hermitage, named, according to<br />

legend, after a French knight called Gaspard<br />

de Stérimberg, who on returning from the<br />

Crusades in 1224, decided to live the life of<br />

a hermit on a local hill. He built a chapel on<br />

the site of a former Roman temple, which he<br />

called the Hermitage. There is still a chapel<br />

there, though it dates to the mid-1800s, and<br />

you can visit it via a 30-minute walk/climb<br />

from the town.<br />

Well the good lord must have smiled down on<br />

the town because the hills are covered with<br />

luscious vines that make the most delicious<br />

wines. And within stone throwing distance is<br />

Erik Boraja jardin zen<br />

the Cite du Chocolat Valrhona where you can<br />

learn about the whole bean to bar process<br />

– did you know that there are sommeliers of<br />

chocolate? (I want that job). And even better<br />

– you’ll enjoy a chocolate tasting. Just across<br />

the road, follow this up with a wine tasting<br />

at M. Chapoutier and visit their vineyards<br />

on that legendary hill. Harvesting is done by<br />

hand here and it’s easy to see why – you need<br />

to be part mountain-goat to pick grapes on<br />

those slopes!<br />

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

Pilat Natural Regional<br />

Park<br />

It’s a short journey to the Pilat Natural<br />

Regional Park, an unspoiled area of<br />

outstanding natural beauty where wines grow,<br />

and mountains seem to reach the sky.<br />

Palais Ideale du factor Cheval, Hauterives<br />

Hauterives – a palace built<br />

from pebbles<br />

You can’t go to this area and not visit the<br />

absolutely unique Palais Ideale du Factor<br />

Cheval – a palace built from pebbles by<br />

a postman at the end of the 19th century.<br />

It’s an awe-inspiring accomplishment by<br />

a determined self-taught architect who<br />

collected stones as he delivered the post,<br />

and a fascinating masterpiece of naive art.<br />

Read more about this incredible palace in our<br />

Spring magazine<br />

Make a food stop at: L’Escale restaurant<br />

in the pretty village of Roisey in the heart<br />

of the park where locals go for a glass of<br />

their favourite wine, St Joseph Blanc and to<br />

indulge in home cooked, traditional dishes<br />

as they’ve been made for hundreds of years,<br />

lentils, robust sausages, rich sauces and food<br />

that makes your heart sing and your stomach<br />

stretch. Don’t worry about that – you can<br />

walk it off easily here, this is country made<br />

for hiking or for more gentle walks through<br />

picturesque villages like Malleval. In winter<br />

you can ski here and it’s quite astonishing<br />

to realise you’re only an hour from the city<br />

of Lyon by car – it feels other worldly and<br />

isolated, utterly beautiful.<br />

Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez ©ADT42 Masson<br />

In the foothills of the Pilat Massif, stop off<br />

at the historic Plus Beaux Village (a label<br />

awarded to the prettiest villages in France)<br />

of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez to discover how a<br />

former 13th century charterhouse has been<br />

turned into a housing commune. Sold off<br />

during the French Revolution, the monastery,<br />

built in 1280, now consists of 44 homes. The<br />

tourist office is housed in what was once the<br />

monastery boulangerie, and there’s even<br />

a school on site. Some of the buildings are<br />

kept empty and preserved, in one there is a<br />

beautiful fresco created in 1334, and there are<br />

15th century stalls in the church. Like much of<br />

the region – it’s an enchanting surprise.<br />

Chartreuse, the charterhouse at Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez<br />

Dine and stay at: Hotel and restaurant Elcosion<br />

on the outskirts of Saint-Etienne. Honestly<br />

some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. Refined,<br />

innovative, and utterly divine dishes by the<br />

young, rising star chef, followed by sweet<br />

dreams in the luxurious rooms of a small<br />

château.<br />

The future is in Saint-<br />

Étienne<br />

Pilat where the vines grow on steep slopes<br />

Saint-Étienne, the capital of the Loire<br />

department, is a city of contrasts, cultural<br />

24 | The Good Life France Malleval<br />

The Good Life France | 25

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Inside one of Le Corbusier's apartment blocks<br />

curiosity and mostly, of energetic and<br />

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There are several excellent museums and<br />

art venues but don’t miss the Cite du Design,<br />

housed in a former weapons factory, where<br />

you can sit in an Apollo spacecraft-like pod<br />

to discover how films might be viewed in<br />

the future – with a 360-degree screen. And<br />

climb the 32m high lookout tower at the<br />

museum for a view over the city.<br />

Saint-Étienne is the premier site for the<br />

designs of Le Corbusier (whose work is<br />

UNESCO World Heritage listed) including<br />

a church and sports complex. I have to<br />

confess, I never really got why Le Corbusier<br />

was seen as an essential theoretical and<br />

artistic reference for 20th and 21st century<br />

architecture and the modern movement,<br />

until I saw what he had designed in this<br />

innovative city. From the outside, his<br />

apartment blocks can look rather concrete<br />

jungle, but take a tour of the Firminy Vert<br />

housing site to discover just how much of a<br />

pioneer of modern architecture he was. The<br />

apartments have huge picture windows, to<br />

create good vibes and open up the space,<br />

and there are wide, long corridors which<br />

acted as indoor play areas for kids who<br />

could ride their bikes and play in them. In<br />

Gorges de la Loire<br />

Forez from where you can take a Loire River cruise<br />

their early days, the joined blocks had a school<br />

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26 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 27

ARIÈGE – the land<br />

that time forgot<br />

changed,’ she asks, upping her volume so we<br />

can hear the echo. ‘Our ancestors couldn’t see<br />

very far with their flaming torches, but they<br />

would have sensed that they’d come to a high<br />

cavern. Now … keep your lights off, but look<br />

towards me.’<br />

Suddenly she turns her own lamp back on,<br />

the beam pointed at the floor, and I blink in<br />

the brightness. But as the light moves up the<br />

wall, my eyes open wide. Galloping across the<br />

rocky contours are horses, bison, and ibex,<br />

each one so skilfully outlined that I half expect<br />

them to canter off into the darkness with a<br />

snort and a shake of the head. No wonder<br />

we’ve been told not to touch the walls.<br />

For these are not replicas, but the real deal,<br />

painted 14,000 years ago by Cro-Magnon<br />

man here in the ‘Salon Noir’ of the Grotte de<br />

Niaux. The cave is open throughout the year,<br />

but numbers are closely regulated to preserve<br />

the environment, so pre-booking is essential at<br />

sites-touristiques-ariege.fr.<br />

The Grotte de Niaux is a highlight of any visit<br />

to the department of Ariège in the Occitanie<br />

region. Today it is one of the most rural<br />

departments in France with a population of<br />

barely 153,000. But whilst Ariège may not<br />

seem crowded now, in prehistoric times the<br />

limestone cliffs near the river were positively<br />

buzzing. Along with Lot and Dordogne, Ariège<br />

is one of the three most important departments<br />

in France for prehistoric sites. Not just Niaux<br />

but a number of sites including the Mas d’Azil,<br />

today a drive-through cave but once a refuge<br />

for rhinoceros, mammoths and men, although<br />

not, one assumes, at the same time.<br />

Foix, the county town of Ariège, is less than<br />

100km from Toulouse airport and just 80 from<br />

Carcassonne, and yet many Francophiles<br />

have never heard of it. But if you like stunning<br />

landscapes and ancient history, character<br />

small towns and time-honoured traditions, put<br />

Ariège high on your To Do list.<br />

My face-to-face with the region’s extinct<br />

wildlife took place just outside the small<br />

town of Tarascon-sur-Ariège. Here the Parc<br />

de la Préhistoire is the perfect complement<br />

to the cave at Niaux with its interactive<br />

exhibits and demonstrations. And for anyone<br />

who doesn’t do dark caves, a replica of the<br />

paintings at Niaux brings that Magdalanian<br />

magic vividly to life, with the added bonus of<br />

artwork found in galleries not often on show<br />

to the general public.<br />

Mirepoix © Stéphane Meurisse, Tourisme Ariege Pyrenees<br />

Nestled beneath the snow-covered peaks of the Pyrenees, Ariège is a department<br />

relatively unknown even by the French says Gillian Thornton as she explores its<br />

many treasures…<br />

Peintures Niaux © Stéphane Meurisse, Ariege Pyrenees Tourisme<br />

Standing in pitch darkness deep inside a<br />

mountain, I’m not sure what to expect next.<br />

A few minutes ago I was in the bright sunshine<br />

of the Ariège valley, now I’m inside a cave with<br />

only a hand-held lamp to light the way through<br />

a gloomy cavern. There are no stalagmites, no<br />

stalactites, in fact not very much of anything<br />

as we walk along the dry riverbed. And the<br />

guide has told our small group to turn off the<br />

flashlights. The blackness is absolute and it’s<br />

strangely disorienting.<br />

‘Can you hear how the acoustics have<br />

Tarascon-sur-Ariege<br />

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

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ANGERS<br />

Just 20 km away in the centre of the<br />

department, Foix oozes atmosphere,<br />

dominated by a medieval hilltop castle owned<br />

by the powerful Counts of Foix. In the early<br />

16th century, they became kings of Navarre,<br />

the last of whom – Henri III – went on to scoop<br />

the top job as Henri IV of France. Tour the<br />

restored rooms, visit the interactive museum,<br />

and walk the ramparts for a taste of medieval<br />

power and politics.<br />

If you’re feeling adventurous, experience<br />

power struggles of a different kind at<br />

Montségur, 35 minutes’ drive from Foix.<br />

This hilltop castle was the last outpost of the<br />

Cathars, a strict religious movement which<br />

gathered much support in south-west France<br />

during the early 13th century amongst people<br />

weary of the corrupt Catholic Church. The<br />

Cathars shunned material possessions but<br />

took refuge from the Papal armies led by<br />

Simon de Montfort in strongholds such as<br />

Montségur and nearby Roquefixade.<br />

The Cathars last stand came in 1244 after a<br />

10-month siege at Montségur. The occupants<br />

were given two weeks to renounce their<br />

faith, but more than 200 refused and were<br />

burnt alive at the foot of the hill. The steep<br />

150-metre climb is not for the faint-hearted<br />

but offers spectacular views across peaks and<br />

valleys to the plains beyond.<br />

Mirepoix market<br />

North of Montségur, the bastide town of<br />

Mirepoix is a must-see for its central square<br />

surrounded by open wooden galleries or<br />

couverts. Soak up the colourful half-timbered<br />

facades and explore the straight streets<br />

radiating out from the square. Don’t miss<br />

the carved wooden heads on La Maison des<br />

Consuls, once the council chamber and now<br />

a stylish hotel. tourisme-mirepoix.com. Nor<br />

St Maurice Cathedral behind the 19th century<br />

covered market which boasts the widest nave<br />

in France and the second widest in Europe<br />

after Gerona in Spain – a graphic illustration<br />

of how new Catholic churches were built to<br />

accommodate the maximum number of souls<br />

in a vigorous recruiting drive after the fall of<br />

the Cathars.<br />

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

Camon © Stéphane Meurisse ,Tourisme Ariege Pyrenees<br />

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Voie verte Camon © Charles Ripon, Ariege Pyrenees Tourisme<br />

Mirepoix and the fortified community of<br />

Camon – listed amongst Les Plus Beaux<br />

Villages – stand on the flat land in the eastern<br />

part of the department, but head west and the<br />

landscape soon becomes increasingly craggy.<br />

For dramatic views and deep gorges, take the<br />

scenic route from Tarascon-sur-Ariège to the<br />

market town of Saint-Girons and neighbouring<br />

Saint-Lizier with its Romanesque cloister<br />

and narrow cobbled lanes, a stop-off on the<br />

Santiago de Compostela routes.<br />

Here in the heart of the Regional Natural Park<br />

of the Ariège Pyrenees, you can see black<br />

Mérens horses, a small sure-footed local<br />

breed ideally suited to the mountain terrain.<br />

Once close to extinction, the Mérens has<br />

been saved in recent years, largely thanks to<br />

enthusiasts like Jean-Louis Savignol at the<br />

Haras Picard du Saint in Lasserre, which offers<br />

both riding excursions and accommodation<br />

merens-ariege.com<br />

Cro-Magnon man was moved to paint the<br />

forbears of today’s Mérens horses on the walls<br />

at Niaux. See them for yourself and you could<br />

find yourself reaching for a paint brush too.<br />

ariegepyrenees.com<br />

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

LE WEEKEND in:<br />

Pas de Calais<br />

Cap Blanc-Nez © lescoflocs<br />

Take a break in northern France this autumn and discover an authentic,<br />

picturesque, and welcoming corner between the sea and the land says<br />

Janine Marsh…<br />

The department of Pas de Calais in the north<br />

of France is a land of contrasts. The unspoiled<br />

Opal Coast stretches for 75 miles, a shoreline<br />

of demerara sugar-coloured sandy beaches<br />

and dramatic cliffs, Belle-Epoque seaside<br />

resorts and flourishing fishing villages. Inland,<br />

the pastoral countryside is peppered with<br />

picturesque villages and historic towns. In<br />

Saint-Omer just 30 minutes from Calais, is<br />

France’s last cultivated wetland, a UNESCOlisted<br />

biosphere, a haven for wildlife and the<br />

only place in France where post is delivered to<br />

the island homes by boat!<br />

There’s just so much to see and do - and I<br />

should know, I live here! But allow me to save<br />

you time, here are just a few favourites:<br />

Fabulous for Families<br />

Follow the route of the Opal Coast and you’ll<br />

discover traditional little seaside villages<br />

Dune, Slack © Eric Desaunois - Département du Pas-de-Calais<br />

where kids can dash up and down sand dunes,<br />

paddle and pootle about in rock pools, and fly<br />

kites on the boundless breezy beaches. The<br />

perfect outing for waterproof children and<br />

patient parents.<br />

At the Tour de la Horloge Museum in Guines,<br />

discover the history of the area from the<br />

Vikings to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in<br />

1520 when King Henry VIII visited and jousted<br />

with the King of France. Kids can dress up like<br />

a Viking or a knight, play games and board a<br />

Viking ship!<br />

Goggle at a dragon in Calais! Yes really. A firebreathing,<br />

eye-lid batting, 72-tonne dragon<br />

roams the historic sites of Calais several times<br />

34 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 35

a day and lives in a glass lair on the beach. Take<br />

a 45-minute ride on the dragon’s back (kids<br />

under 3 go free). Compagniedudragon.com<br />

Nirvana for nature lovers<br />

This area is great for wandering or cycling.<br />

Meander the coastal paths of the GR120<br />

alongside dunes and sandy beaches, or head<br />

inland to discover unspoiled countryside crisscrossed<br />

by a network of thousands of miles of<br />

maintained and sign posted routes. Pop into<br />

any local tourist office for details and maps<br />

and look or for the Vélo © sign which flags up<br />

bike-friendly restaurants, accommodation,<br />

charging points, rental, and repair shops.<br />

At the seaside resort of Berck-sur-Mer, head<br />

down to the water’s edge on the south side of<br />

the beach on the Baie d’Authie, to see a huge<br />

colony of more than 100 wild seals splashing<br />

about in the water, lazing about on the<br />

sandbanks, and calling out to each other.<br />

Cosy up under a blanket on the hills of the Deux<br />

Caps, the Two Cliffs, which overlook the White<br />

Cliffs of Dover and enjoy a picnic. Nothing says<br />

France more than a baguette with a chunk of<br />

cheese or some tasty charcuterie with a glass<br />

of wine – or a flask of coffee.<br />

Uncover the ancient history of the marshes<br />

of Saint Omer at the Maison du Marais<br />

interpretive centre. First dug out by monks in<br />

the 7th century, there’s still a thriving market<br />

garden in this horticultural wonderland. You<br />

can tour the marshes by boat (O’Marais by<br />

Equihen, Opal Coast, © Fabien Coisy<br />

Seals at Berck-sur-Mer<br />

Saint-Omer<br />

Maroilles, stinky and delicious!<br />

Isnor), discover the traditional wooden boat<br />

makers, they are also the last to make boats<br />

using Viking methods in France, and spot a<br />

wealth of waterfowl and other wild creatures.<br />

Fabulous for Foodies<br />

Chocoholics will love the Beussent Chocolate<br />

workshop. Take a 45-minute tour (in French<br />

and English) to witness the magical bean to<br />

bar chocolate process.<br />

Sweet dreams are made of cheese! Try the<br />

local fromages - from the King of pongy<br />

cheeses Vieux Boulogne, to stinky but<br />

scrumptious Maroilles. You’ll find plenty of<br />

bistros and estaminets (traditional Flemish<br />

inns) serving mussels and chips and local<br />

dishes like beef stew cooked with locally<br />

produced sugar and beer and a regional<br />

regional favourite – Le Welsh. Legend has<br />

it that Welsh soldiers introduced the Welsh<br />

rarebit during Henry VIII’s siege of Boulogne<br />

in 1544.<br />

Beer – the Champagne of northern France!<br />

They’ve made beer for centuries here and<br />

there is a thriving microbrewery scene. At<br />

Brasserie La Brèche in Bethune, try the craft<br />

ales made with passion and at Chez Marcel<br />

in Arras, meet with a ‘beerologist’ and enjoy a<br />

tasting session.<br />

Wander a market – you’ll find some of the<br />

best here and there are markets every day of<br />

the week. On Friday head to Etaples voted<br />

best market in France in 2021. On Saturday<br />

there are excellent markets in Montreuil-sur-<br />

Mer, Saint-Omer, and the Sunday market in<br />

Boulogne-sur-Mer.<br />

Historic Cities and<br />

Cultural hotspots<br />

Meet the Greeters – discover the secret<br />

hotspots only the locals know about. The<br />

greeter system operates across the region with<br />

volunteer guides showing you around ‘their’<br />

36 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 37

France’s favourite monument in 2015, the<br />

75m high platform is the perfect perch from<br />

which to drink in the magnificent views over<br />

the town. And say hello to the giants, adored<br />

heritage figures of the north of France, who<br />

stand guard on the ground floor.<br />

Arras<br />

France, sharing snippets of local history to<br />

groups of up to six. Completely free.<br />

Arras is the perfect small city to leave<br />

the car behind and take a stroll. The two<br />

main squares are unique in Europe, lined<br />

with columned arcades and 155 houses<br />

in sumptuous baroque Flemish style. The<br />

cobbled Place des Héros, is dominated by<br />

the UNESCO-listed belfry which tops the<br />

architecturally glorious town hall. Voted<br />

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

overlooking the Dordogne-like countryside<br />

of the Seven Valleys – there is no sea despite<br />

mention of la mer in the name. Take a<br />

wander round the ramparts, visit the 16th<br />

century Citadel which was fortified by Louis<br />

XIV’s engineer Vauban, and stroll the towns<br />

cobbled streets and squares and stop for a<br />

mug of steaming hot chocolate in the main<br />

square before the pretty Italianate theatre.<br />

It was in this town in 1837 that Victor Hugo<br />

stopped for lunch and was so impressed by<br />

his experiences in the town, it inspired him to<br />

write Les Miserables.<br />

Montreuil-sur-Mer<br />

La Coupole © La Coupole<br />

Bring history lessons<br />

to life:<br />

Indelibly marked by two world wars, there are<br />

many major remembrance sites in<br />

Pas de Calais and many museums and<br />

monuments pay homage.<br />

In Arras, the Commonwealth War Graves<br />

Commission Experience in Beaurains offers<br />

a fascinating glimpse into the organisation’s<br />

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

Napoleon's Column<br />

painstaking work maintaining Commonwealth<br />

cemeteries, monuments, and memorials<br />

around the world. And the nearby Wellington<br />

Tunnels are an immersive memorial to the<br />

Battle of Arras, a step back in time to the<br />

First World War.<br />

La Coupole near Saint-Omer, a<br />

55,000-tonne concrete dome with 18 feet<br />

thick walls, is where Hitler had a secret V2<br />

rocket base built. Today it is a fascinating and<br />

haunting historical and scientific museum,<br />

and home to the most advanced planetarium<br />

in the world. With a unique 15m wide screen<br />

with 10K resolution, watch incredible 3D films<br />

from interactive seats.<br />

In the port towns of Dunkirk and Calais<br />

and all around the Opal coast you’ll find<br />

monuments, memorials and museums<br />

dedicated to the two world wars and offering<br />

a fascinating window to the past. Don’t miss<br />

the Atlantic Wall Museum in Audinghen, a<br />

German World War II fortress with its eerily<br />

undisturbed relics from uniforms to cutlery<br />

and cups. Outside is an incredibly wellpreserved<br />

and rare railway gun.<br />

Climb Napoleon’ Column in Wimille on the<br />

outskirts of Boulogne-sur-Mer. Here, in 1804<br />

the great general and Emperor of France<br />

mustered his forces and had 2000 ships<br />

built, in sight of England. Though the planned<br />

invasion never took place, Napoleon began<br />

the tradition of the Legion d’Honneur medals,<br />

and the moment is marked by this immense<br />

column. Climb 296 steps for eye-popping<br />

views over the English Channel.<br />

Azincourt 1415 Museum takes you further back<br />

in time and tells the tumultuous tale of one of<br />

history’s most famous battles: Agincourt. Brush<br />

up on the history of this monumental moment<br />

in time, where the battle was over in just hours,<br />

making the British victors and King Henry V<br />

legends for the rest of time.<br />

If you’re thinking ‘that’s a lot to pack in for a<br />

weekend’ you’re right – stay longer!<br />

Find loads more to see and do at:<br />

www.visitpasdecalais.com<br />

Opal Coast<br />

40 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 41

The Vendange<br />

in Vaucluse<br />

© Valerie Gillet, Vaucluse Tourism<br />

Witness the timeless tradition of the vendage – the grape harvest, in Gigondas in<br />

the heart of Provence. It’s a great way to exercise the body and free the mind says<br />

Jeremy Flint…<br />

The countryside around the beautiful Vaucluse<br />

department of Provence is home to sweeping<br />

vineyards which carpet the landscape and<br />

fertile territories encircling historic villages.<br />

Within the scenic vistas of this picturesque<br />

corner of South-eastern France lies the wine<br />

growing commune of Gigondas, nestled<br />

between the magnificent panoramas of<br />

Vacqueyras and Séguret, one of the most<br />

beautiful villages of France.<br />

Here, in the southern Rhone Valley,<br />

vineyards flow from the shores of the river to<br />

the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail,<br />

a small mountain range (up to 2000 feet high)<br />

offering spectacular hikes for nature lovers.<br />

Gigondas has been the home of winemaking<br />

for centuries. It’s said that Roman soldiers<br />

planted the vines and created wine estates.<br />

As far back as 1591, records reveal that wine<br />

commerce flourished in the area.<br />

Gigondas wines are renowned worldwide and<br />

they even rival the more famous Chateauneufdu-Pape<br />

wines. And like Châteauneuf,<br />

Gigondas wines are created mainly from the<br />

grenache grape, supplemented by a variety of<br />

others, but the grapes are grown at a higher<br />

elevation than Châteauneuf’s and on different<br />

soils. 99% of the wines grown in Gigondas are<br />

red. In 2021, the village celebrated its 50th<br />

anniversary as the first Côtes du Rhône village<br />

to be awarded Cru status appellation.<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong> is the perfect time to visit the<br />

vineyards, especially during harvest time,<br />

known as the vendange. Driving through this<br />

spectacular part of Provence on my way to<br />

explore the Montmirail mountains and passing<br />

through Gigondas, I stopped to follow the<br />

sound of chatter and laughter from a vineyard<br />

and came across bobbing heads, flashes<br />

of purple and a tractor with a large trailer<br />

attached to the back. Grapes plucked by hand<br />

were being filled by the bucket load. This was<br />

the annual grape harvest, a timeless tradition.<br />

In fact, it was the last day of the harvest at the<br />

vineyards that are part of the unique, historic<br />

estate of Saint Cosme, the oldest in the<br />

region, held by the same family since 1490. 15<br />

© Jeremy Flint<br />

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

generations of winemakers have been active<br />

here with Louis Barruol currently at the helm,<br />

having taken over in the early 1990’s. The<br />

wines are still made in the original cellar of the<br />

estate, constructed in the Gallo Roman era,<br />

more than 2,000 years ago.<br />

The land of Gigondas is a geological mosaic<br />

composed of limestone soils on the Montmirail<br />

slopes and rocky, sandy, free-draining soils<br />

on the flatter, lower-lying land - perfect<br />

conditions for wine growing. This topography<br />

and the favourable Mediterranean climate<br />

with warm summers and bountiful hours<br />

of sunshine offer the ideal environment for<br />

cultivating vines and growing grapes to yield<br />

a fruitful crop year on year. Combined with a<br />

powerful Mistral wind, a classic feature of the<br />

region, these factors help to keep the vines<br />

dry, and encourage the grapes to ripen and<br />

taste their best.<br />

At harvest time excitement fills the air here<br />

as the fruity grapes are cut. I watched as<br />

bunches from the vines using secateurs. The<br />

© Jeremy Flint<br />

Domaine Pierre Amadieu<br />

friendly harvesters, a mix of French, Spanish,<br />

Europeans, and South Americans moved<br />

swiftly along the lines of the vines under the<br />

watchful eye of the boss. The grapes were a<br />

deep purple, rich in taste and filled bucket<br />

after bucket before being placed into the<br />

trailer, ready to be turned into wine. Everyone<br />

plays their part in creating a successful<br />

harvest including the driver of the tractor<br />

who drives the brimming truck loads from the<br />

vineyards to the winery where the grapes are<br />

poured into vats to be transformed into wine.<br />

A stone’s throw away at the cellars and<br />

tasting room of three-generation wine<br />

growers Domaine Pierre Amadieu, you<br />

can sample the wines of Gigondas and<br />

learn more about the history and culture of<br />

winegrowing in the area. You can also buy<br />

their fabulous wines from the onsite shop -<br />

and you really don’t want to miss your chance<br />

to stock up on these wines! For an authentic<br />

stay in the area, they have a gorgeous guest<br />

house with a pool, the Villa Sainte Anne, a<br />

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

© A Hocquel, Vaucluse Tourism<br />

former winegrowers house. Details:<br />

pierre-amadieu.com<br />

In the centre of the village you’ll find the<br />

Caveau du Gigondas, where you can taste<br />

and buy many Gigondas wines. They also<br />

run workshops and events including food and<br />

wine pairings in the village square or in local<br />

vineyards.<br />

Head to the wine bar Le Nez! for tapas with<br />

a large choice of local wines to pair them<br />

with on a lovely shady terrace or inside the<br />

elegantly decorated bar (1 Place du Rouvis).<br />

The vendange is a great way to exercise the<br />

body and free the mind. With vineyards that<br />

have beautiful backdrops, magnificent views,<br />

the mellow autumn sun, surrounded by the<br />

rich and ravishing colourful fall foliage, plus<br />

meeting welcoming winemakers, what’s not<br />

to love?<br />

Wine events take place in Vaucluse year-round<br />

from festivals galore and tours of the cellars<br />

and vineyards including at sunset, picnics and<br />

tastings of spectacular wines, guided vineyard<br />

walks and talks and harvest visits. If you would<br />

like to visit the region during the vendange,<br />

September and October are usually the best<br />

time to go.<br />

You can find details of wine and harvest visits<br />

at Provenceguide.co.uk<br />

© A Hocquel, Vaucluse Tourism<br />

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

Burgundy, and you would be hard pushed to<br />

find a more delicious city. You can read more<br />

about Dijon and its gastronomic excellence<br />

here.<br />

Chalon-sur-Saône – wine<br />

country…<br />

Around 40km south of Dijon brings you to the<br />

town of Chalon-sur-Saône – on the doorstep<br />

of the great vineyards of Mercurey, which<br />

takes its name from a temple built here by<br />

the Romans in tribute to the God Mercury.<br />

Mercurey’s wines charters go back almost<br />

1500 years, to 557 AD, and this area is<br />

considered the “wine capital” of Burgundy,<br />

and one of its foremost appellations. But<br />

enough superlatives – what’s the wine like?<br />

Well head to the 17th century Château de<br />

Chamirey, in the heart of the Mercurey<br />

vineyards for a delicious tasting and to find out<br />

more about the vines.<br />

Vallée de la<br />

Gastronomie<br />

– a tasty trek<br />

through France<br />

Janine Marsh undertakes a gastronomic<br />

odyssey from the north to the south…<br />

Travelling the 620km route which follows<br />

a 1000-year-old trade route through<br />

France, straddling several departments, and<br />

stopping off at historic towns, enchanting<br />

villages, verdant vineyards, and ancient<br />

cities, there was so much to see, do,<br />

eat and drink, I have split the tale of my<br />

mouth-watering meander from Burgundy<br />

to the Mediterranean Sea into two equally<br />

delicious parts!<br />

Part I – the southern section of my journey<br />

is in the Summer issue of TGLF magazine<br />

– you can read it here. And now for the<br />

north…<br />

This epic-urean route of the Vallée de la<br />

Gastronomie starts in Dijon, capital of<br />

Amaury Devillard, Chateau de Chamirey<br />

I met with the chateau’s owner Amaury<br />

Devillard who explained that of the 37<br />

hectares under the Chateau de Chamirey<br />

label, 15 of them are premier Cru, reflecting<br />

the diverse soils and microclimates within<br />

the Mercurey appellation. Sipping a superb<br />

fruity red and a fresh peachy white as we<br />

looked out over the countryside at a mosaic<br />

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

Chateau de Chamirey<br />

Mercurey vineyard Chef Florian Giraud Chef Salome, Maison des Ateliers<br />

of vineyards with eagles flying overhead and<br />

wild birds singing joyfully, brought one of those<br />

memorable moments of pure happiness. We<br />

could see Mont Blanc in the distance (a sign of<br />

bad weather apparently).<br />

“It’s in the blood, we make wine, we drink<br />

it, we talk about it all the time” says this<br />

passionate wine marker. “A good bottle of<br />

wine is an empty bottle.”<br />

Leave the vineyards to take a wander in<br />

Chalon-sur-Saône where Joseph Nicéphore-<br />

Niépce was born and where a museum is<br />

dedicated to him. You might not know his<br />

name, but his legacy has left a huge impact.<br />

Born in 1765,<br />

he is known as<br />

the “father of<br />

photography” and<br />

was the first to<br />

create a permanent<br />

photographic<br />

image. And the<br />

beautiful 11th<br />

century cloisters<br />

Cloisters of Cathedral St Vincent<br />

of the Cathedral<br />

are a lovely place<br />

to relax and enjoy the artworks. The cloisters<br />

been through several transformations, houses<br />

were once built in the centre, and at one time<br />

a vinegar factory was set up in the buildings.<br />

Head to the buzzing bar and café-lined Place<br />

St Vincent, named after the Patron Saint of<br />

Wine, to enjoy a local tipple. Read more about<br />

the town here: achalon.com/en<br />

Where to stay: Le Saint Georges hotel is cosy,<br />

comfy and conveniently for rail travellers, next<br />

to the train station.<br />

Restaurant Greuze, Tournus<br />

Tournus – a hidden gem<br />

30km on, another must-visit, is the lovely<br />

town of Tournus, along the banks of the Saone<br />

River, though it is just 35km from the great<br />

abbey of Cluny. If you dream of stumbling on<br />

a little place with fabulous food, wonderful<br />

wines and a warm welcome, then Tournus is it.<br />

Pickled wild garlic buds made by Chef<br />

Giraud from his morning foraging walk<br />

Burgundy is possibly<br />

the stomach of France<br />

and in Tournus, good<br />

restaurants abound,<br />

but three stand out<br />

for their truly superb<br />

dishes. Head a little<br />

out of town to Le<br />

Relais d’Ozenay of<br />

chef Florian Giraud.<br />

It’s a beautifully<br />

decorated restaurant<br />

in a glorious part of<br />

the countryside. Chef Giraud knows all his<br />

suppliers by name, locals who have a passion for<br />

their produce. He’s typical of the hundreds and<br />

hundreds of artisans whose restaurants, farms,<br />

wine and beer chocolate and more, make up<br />

your guides and introducers to taste sensations<br />

along the route of the Vallée de la Gastronomie.<br />

In the centre of town there are two Michelin<br />

starred restaurants: Greuze headed up by chef<br />

Yohann Chapuis, and Aux Terrasses run by chef<br />

Jean-Michel Carrette. And get acquainted<br />

with the terrific local wines at the cave des<br />

Vignerons de Mancey. Tournus deserves many<br />

more words so head to page 72 to read about<br />

the incredible ancient hospital, the chefs and<br />

charms of this ancient town.<br />

Where to stay: You’re spoiled for choice for<br />

fabulous hotels here – I stayed at the gorgeous<br />

Hotel les 7 Fontaines which has a spa and<br />

fabulous wine tasting cellar.<br />

Mâcon – memorable for<br />

food and wine<br />

Mâcon is a wine town and the gateway to the<br />

vineyards of southern Burgundy. The town<br />

pays tribute to the history of the local wine<br />

production with the opening this year of the<br />

Cité des Climats et Vins de Bourgogne wine<br />

Cité des Climats et Vins de Bourgogne<br />

50 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 51

Delicious soup at the Maison des Ateliers<br />

museum and tasting venue on the banks of the<br />

River Saône. After an immersive, sensory trail<br />

in which you’ll discover all about the viticulture<br />

of Burgundy, head to the fabulous tasting bar.<br />

See the website for details plus guided tours,<br />

events and workshops.<br />

Who can resist a chance to learn to cook<br />

Burgundian style? Certainly not me, so I<br />

headed to the Maison des Ateliers to take a<br />

half day class in a gorgeous mansion house<br />

which is also where Fabrice Sommier, one<br />

of France’s most famous sommeliers and a<br />

Maitre Ouvrier de France, hosts wine classes.<br />

Monsieur Claude Poissonnet, Grand Master of the Brotherhood of<br />

the Gaufrette Mâconnaise<br />

Dine at: La DaMa go for the warm and<br />

genuine welcome and the excellent food (a<br />

fusion of Italian and French) and great wines.<br />

Stay at: L’hôtel Panorama Head to the rooftop<br />

bar for aperitifs and fabulous views.<br />

Two restaurants, a hotel and holiday<br />

residence, foodie shops including a wine<br />

store, butchers, tableware store, boulangerie,<br />

chocolaterie, and patisserie with some of the<br />

most amazing cakes I’ve ever tasted (and I<br />

take my cake tasting duties seriously!). There<br />

is also his internationally famous L’Esprit Blanc<br />

restaurant which has one of the greatest<br />

restaurant wine cellars in the world, as well<br />

as the charming and scrumptious Ancienne<br />

Auberge. If you love food – then Village Blanc<br />

in Vonnas must go on your must-see list.<br />

Read more about the Chef who created a<br />

gourmet village on our website<br />

Beaujolais is not at all<br />

nouveau<br />

30km south of Vonnas, my next stop was<br />

Beaujolais. This lovely, truly lovely, part of<br />

France has a timeless beauty and relaxed<br />

vibe, and deserves a whole article to itself and<br />

so it will – in the next issue of TGLF magazine<br />

(subscribe here for free).<br />

Beaujolais Nouveau is known around the<br />

world, but if you think that’s all this wine<br />

region has to offer – then you’ll need to<br />

unthink that because I promise you the wines<br />

are not just of the nouveau kind, they are<br />

exquisite, rich ruby reds, and crisp whites, an<br />

effervescent crémant that puts sparkles in<br />

your eyes and if you like wine – you will love<br />

Beaujolais wines. And this region is home to<br />

what I am sure must be the best wine museum<br />

in the world which also has a stunning tasting<br />

bar – the Hameau Duboeuf.<br />

And just down the road from here you can<br />

taste the wines of Maison Jean Loron, one of<br />

the oldest and largest wine-growing owners<br />

in southern Burgundy. Seriously some of the<br />

best wines I’ve ever tasted, I managed to lug<br />

several bottles home in my luggage which<br />

almost broke me, but it was worth it!<br />

Follow the route des Crêtes in Beaujolais and<br />

the stunning wine route des vins du Beaujolais<br />

I learned how to cook a classic volaille à la<br />

crème (chicken in cream sauce). I was frankly<br />

astonished at how good my cooking is (ok – I<br />

did have help and patient guidance from chef<br />

Salome). I picked up heaps of neat tips and<br />

tricks, and took home a lasting souvenir - the<br />

ability to produce a dish like a top chef.<br />

In Mâcon, you must visit a patisserie or<br />

boulangerie and have a nibble on a Gaufrette<br />

Mâconnaise. Made in Mâcon since the middle<br />

ages these delicious cigar-shaped biscuits<br />

were abandoned for decades until they were<br />

resurrected by Monsieur Claude Poissonnet,<br />

Grand Master of the Brotherhood of the<br />

Gaufrette Mâconnaise.<br />

Village Blanc – an entire<br />

foodie village in Vonnas<br />

Crossing into the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes<br />

region I stopped off at the gourmet paradise<br />

Village Blanc in Vonnas. It was here in 1872,<br />

that the great grandparents of Georges Blanc,<br />

one of France’s greatest chefs, opened a café<br />

and served their home-made lemonade. The<br />

fourth generation of chefs in the family - his<br />

mother and grandmother held Michelin stars<br />

and he has held 3 stars since 1981 - chef Blanc<br />

has created a gastro-village with everything<br />

you need to delight your palate.<br />

L'Ancienne Auberge, Vonnas<br />

52 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 53

'Real' South of France Tours<br />






through tiny villages like Oingt, a plus beaux<br />

village de France, and beautiful Theizé in the<br />

heart of the "Pierres Dorées" which refers<br />

to the golden stone that many buildings are<br />

made from, and which gives the villages a<br />

special glow. And don’t miss a visit to the<br />

historic town of Villefranche-sur-Saône where<br />

you can take an audio guide of the hidden<br />

treasures…<br />

Dine at: La Feuillée a typical Beaujolais<br />

bistrot where the locals gather for the tastiest<br />

of grub, a glass of wine and a good dollop of<br />

bonhomie.<br />

Stay at: Les Maritonnes Parc & Vignoble,<br />

Romaneche-Thorins, a Georges Blanc owned<br />

hotel with a fabulous restaurant.<br />

The Vallee de la<br />

Gastronomie<br />

Discover inspirational gourmet<br />

experiences, guided tours and more at:<br />

valleedelagastronomie<br />

Fabulous restaurant and tasting bar of the Hameau Duboeuf wine theme park<br />

Theizé, Beaujolais<br />

realsouthoffrancetours.fr<br />


Relax. Replenish. Revive.<br />

Kick back and relax in a Cotswold Eco Tub<br />

Delivered all over France<br />

hottubsinfrance.com<br />

54 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 55

ROUEN<br />

Armada Notes<br />

Tons of tall ships in the harbour, azure blue<br />

skies, mouth-watering street food, uplifting<br />

music, joyful sea shanties, a feel-good factor<br />

off the charts, in a fabulous, historic city - it can<br />

only be the Rouen Armada says Janine Marsh<br />

For ten days the party atmosphere along<br />

the Seine in the historic city of Rouen lures<br />

millions from around the world to join in<br />

the fun that takes place during the Rouen<br />

Armada. Held every few years – the next one<br />

will be in 2027 – this feel-good event is totally<br />

free - and totally fabulous.<br />

Wander along tall ship lined quays where<br />

some 2000 sailors from a dozen countries<br />

are in port. Soak up the atmosphere, the<br />

smell of sizzling barbecues, buzzing bars and<br />

restaurants full of smiling punters, the music<br />

of the Beatles and the Bee Gees carried on<br />

the slight breeze from the river on a scorching<br />

sunny day.<br />

If you like to have a good time, then this event<br />

will float your boat!<br />

This is one of the largest gatherings of tall<br />

ships in the world, in one of the greatest<br />

ports of France, but it’s also about food, wine<br />

music, dancing, street performance, sea<br />

shanties and more.<br />

This was my first time at the Rouen Armada –<br />

but it won’t be my last!<br />

The Armada experience<br />

Arriving at Rouen Rive Droite station I<br />

was handed a paper sailor’s hat with a red<br />

pompom – in France they say if you twiddle<br />

a sailor’s pompom it’s lucky! I held on to my<br />

hat just in case! Walking to the quaysides of<br />

the River Seine that runs through the city, I<br />

couldn’t help but notice how many streets<br />

and shops were decorated in nautical style.<br />

Even in the church of Joan of Arc there was<br />

an Armada crossword. The port city of Rouen<br />

loves a boat, and Rouen loves its Armada.<br />

There is something wonderfully romantic<br />

about tall ships, maybe it’s all those stories of<br />

pirates and world discovery books I read as<br />

a child, but as these magnificent ships sailed<br />

under the monumental Gustave Flaubert<br />

Bridge on the first night of the Armada, it was<br />

clear that I’m not the only one who loves them.<br />

I climbed aboard the tall ship Joanna Saturna<br />

which had arrived from Finland - a 1200km<br />

journey of 9 days non-stop from Helsinki to Le<br />

Havre. She made an additional stop in Duclair<br />

(30 minutes from Rouen by bus) to pick up<br />

passengers before joining dozens more tall<br />

ships on their journey into the city’s port for<br />

the opening night.<br />

For the next three hours we sailed serenely<br />

along the Seine, past cliffs where we could<br />

spot caves that were used in the Middle Ages<br />

for the storage of wine and food. A rocky<br />

outcrop called “Gargantua’s seat” cleft into<br />

the cliffs came into view. Ahead of us a tall<br />

ship from Mexico, in fact the tallest ship in<br />

town, fired of a round of gun salutes - the<br />

Joanna Saturna tooted her very loud horn. On<br />

board the Mexican ship a band broke out into<br />

56 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 57

a happy Tijuana style tune gaining it a massive<br />

round of applause. We couldn’t top that!<br />

A French naval ship sailed to our right and<br />

behind, the mast of another tall ship came<br />

onto the horizon. It’s an amazing feeling as<br />

the water swells and the sun beams down,<br />

the rigging creaks and clanks – a timeless<br />

sound. All along the side of the river, passing<br />

cars tooted a greeting, people were gathered<br />

to watch the ships sail by – waving flags,<br />

cheering and whistling. A small boat pulled<br />

alongside ours with a group of kids shouting<br />

“sound the horn, sound the horn”, the captain<br />

obliged much to their delight, a long low wail<br />

that echoed across the water.<br />

Flags of all nations were proudly displayed<br />

all along the river as we floated past small<br />

towns and hamlets. I asked the Captain if the<br />

journey was as smooth as this the whole way<br />

“sure” he said and winked.<br />

58 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 59

Jessica Viel - Loire Valley<br />

As the city came into sight the cheers got<br />

louder, crowds thronged the quayside – the<br />

Armada had begun. I made my way to the tall<br />

ship Thalassa, where I was sleeping that night.<br />

She usually serves as a training ship, run by<br />

tough salty sea dogs from the Netherlands. All<br />

gleaming wood and polished brass. From the<br />

deck I watched the fabulous nightly Armada<br />

fireworks display.<br />

From morning to midnight, the river was<br />

awash with boats floating past these majestic<br />

tall ships and getting a great view. Pleasure<br />

boats, restaurant boats, lifeboats, eco boats<br />

– collecting waste and sustainably disposing<br />

of it, there’s a serious message here too.<br />

There were boats full of people enjoying<br />

chilled beers, wine, music, some have a party<br />

atmosphere. After dark the quays throbbed<br />

to the sound of music, uplifting and great,<br />

great fun.<br />

You can explore the ships during the day<br />

and chat to the crews - the Mexican<br />

ship was very popular! You need to get<br />

up early to see the sailors servicing the<br />

ships, painting their hulls and doing their<br />

morning exercises.<br />

This is an unmissable event. Enjoy a<br />

boat ride, eat, drink and be merry. And<br />

sunscreen, take sunscreen!<br />

The next Rouen Armada will take place in<br />

June 2027.<br />

Details: armada.org<br />

Don’t miss the Maritime,<br />

Fluvial and Harbour<br />

Museum of Rouen<br />

Emma Horsfall - Alpes<br />

Joanna Dalet<br />

Midi-Pyrénées<br />

Anne-Sophie and Nynke<br />

Nouvelle-Aquitaine<br />

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Helena Hermanns - Paris/Île-de-France<br />

Andrew Guck - Occitanie<br />

Declan McCann - Brittany<br />

Right by the Gustave Flaubert Bridge<br />

along the river front pop into the marine<br />

museum which is run by volunteers to gen<br />

up on the history of the port of Rouen.<br />

Model makers on site create incredible<br />

ships, there are fascinating exhibitions and<br />

artefacts, and when I was there members of<br />

the International Guild of Knot Tiers’ were<br />

demonstrating their skills creating knotted<br />

rope art. 1.musee-maritime-rouen.asso.fr<br />

Join our team in France and become part of a<br />

company unique in it’s field!<br />

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by an award winning team, please contact our recruitment department:<br />

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60 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 61

Jeremy Flint visits one of the last bell makers in France…<br />

The village of Villedieu-les-Poeles in<br />

Northwest France is home to the Cornille<br />

Havard Foundry, one of the last two remaining<br />

Bell foundries in France (the other is in Haute-<br />

Savoie). It continues a long tradition of Bell<br />

Casters who settled in Normandy in the<br />

Middle Ages.<br />

Cornille Havard foundry has been making<br />

bells at its magnificent 19th century workshop<br />

since 1865. Prior to this, bell founders worked<br />

more freely and would travel to churches and<br />

cathedrals to make their bells.<br />

The company is named after Paul Havard<br />

who, succeeding his brother-in-law César<br />

Béatrix in 1836, and Adolphe Havard, a<br />

polytechnical engineer who took over in<br />

1865 and had the workshop built, developed<br />

production and began exporting bells all over<br />

the world.<br />

The company passed through the Cornille<br />

family before Marguerite Cornille sold the<br />

foundry to Françoise and Luigi Bergamo on<br />

June 1, 1981. Paul Bergamo is the second<br />

generation of the family to preserve the<br />

traditions and expertise of this unique<br />

company whose bells are world renowned for<br />

their aesthetic and musical qualities.<br />

Specialising in big bells, the master bell casters<br />

combine the craft of metal work with the art<br />

of music using traditional techniques as well as<br />

the best technology.<br />

Walking into the studio, which is open to<br />

the public, feels like you have stepped back<br />

in time and gives a rare glimpse into this<br />

centuries-old tradition.<br />

The casting of a new bell is a fascinating<br />

process that draws on ancient skills. The<br />

bells are cast with two moulds consisting of<br />

the inner mould (core) developed around<br />

an interior template, and a false bell mould<br />

placed over it. This outer mould is covered<br />

with wax letters and decorations. The lostwax<br />

process (also known as precision casting<br />

or cire perdue) is applied. The wax melts<br />

leaving the bell with indentations. The furnace<br />

is fired to the right temperature to melt the<br />

%<br />

Norman<br />

Bell Makers<br />

62 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 63

onze, an alloy of 78% copper and 22% tin<br />

and it is melted at 1,200°C in a double-vault<br />

reverberatory furnace which has a capacity<br />

of a whopping 13 tons. To withstand the<br />

temperature of the metal, the moulds are<br />

made of clay with horse manure and goats’<br />

hair. The moulds, which are placed upside<br />

down in a pit, can weigh more than 500kg.<br />

The molten metal is poured into the gap<br />

between the two moulds.<br />

A brick channel built on top of the pit allows<br />

the metal to flow by gravity from the kiln into<br />

the moulds.<br />

After casting, the mould is left to cool for<br />

around a week depending on the size, then<br />

broken open to release the raw foundry bell.<br />

The final stages involve sanding, polishing,<br />

chiselling and fine tuning.<br />

These ancient techniques are combined with<br />

modern equipment which help to analyse the<br />

resonance enabling the foundry to achieve<br />

musical perfection.<br />

In renovating this fantastic heritage using<br />

modern technology, Cornille Havard is the<br />

first bell making company in the world to<br />

model the layout of bells on a computer.<br />

Doing this allows them to constantly refine<br />

the bell profiles using CAD (computer-aided<br />

design). The templates are laser cut, and<br />

the sound control is carried out using an<br />

electronic spectrum analyser.<br />

An incredible 100 monumental bells are<br />

made each year, making their way to peel<br />

out from clock towers, schools and churches<br />

around the world – including nine new bells<br />

created for the cathedral of Notre-Dame in<br />

Paris in 2013.<br />

More information may be found at:<br />

cornille-havard.com<br />

Exhibition of bells created by Cornille Havard for Notre-Dame, Paris. Photo: Lionel Allorge - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 commons.wikimedia.org<br />

64 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 65

Yves Saint Laurent<br />

in Calais…<br />

“Fashions fade,<br />

style is eternal”<br />

Yves Saint Laurent<br />

Dress worn by Karen Mulder.<br />

1996 Spring-Summer haute<br />

couture collection. Photograph<br />

by Claus Ohm © Yves Saint<br />

Laurent © Claus Ohm – DR<br />

Evening gown worn<br />

by Gurmitt Kaur<br />

Campbell. 1990<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong>-Winter<br />

haute couture<br />

collection. © Yves<br />

Saint Laurent ©<br />

Rights reserved<br />

At the internationally renowned Museum<br />

of Lace and Fashion in Calais, northern<br />

France, a major exhibition dedicated<br />

to the late great French couturier Yves<br />

Saint Laurent is eye-poppingly fabulous<br />

says Janine Marsh.<br />

The French have been famous for dressing<br />

well for centuries. As long ago as the 17th<br />

century – not long after the Mayflower carried<br />

pilgrims to North America and Isaac Newton<br />

published one of his most important scientific<br />

works Philosophiae Naturalis Principia<br />

Mathematica (1687) – the French were turning<br />

fashion into an industry.<br />

The modern fashion show dates to the Paris<br />

in the 1860s, though it was a pioneering<br />

Englishman, fashion designer Charles Frederick<br />

Worth, who kicked it things off by using live<br />

models instead of mannequins to present his<br />

creations. 130 years later, on July 12, 1998,<br />

the great French designer Yves Saint Laurent<br />

created a monumental runway show at the<br />

Stade de France ahead of the Football World<br />

Cup final between France and Brazil. Lasting 15<br />

Workshop specification sheet<br />

referred to as a “Bible page”<br />

of a short evening dress. 1966<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong>-Winter haute couture<br />

collection. © Yves Saint Laurent<br />

minutes, the event involved 300 models, 900<br />

backstage hands and 4,000 stadium staff. It<br />

was televised live to about 1.7 billion people.<br />

Yves Saint-Laurent was a showman and fashion<br />

visionary whose legacy lives on.<br />

The exhibition<br />

The Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris has<br />

teamed up with the Museum of Lace and<br />

Fashion in Calais for an exhibition that focuses<br />

on transparency - the way Yves Saint Laurent<br />

used nude effects in his designs. It will run<br />

until 12 November <strong>2023</strong>. A second exhibition<br />

(which will not be the same as this one), will<br />

open in Paris in February 2024.<br />

Seductive, sensuous, and<br />

shocking<br />

Born in Algeria in 1936, Yves Henry Donat<br />

Mathieu-Saint-Laurent was destined for<br />

fashion. Whilst still at school he won a<br />

66 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 67

prestigious international design contest and<br />

when a Vogue magazine executive showed<br />

Christian Dior some of the schoolboy’s<br />

sketches, Dior hired him immediately as his<br />

assistant. He was 17 years old.<br />

Dior died in 1957 and Yves Saint-Laurent was<br />

named head of the House of Dior at just 21<br />

and exploded onto the fashion scene. In 1962<br />

he opened his own fashion house and became<br />

one of the most influential Paris designers. He<br />

made trousers and the tuxedo (Le Smoking<br />

in France) fashionable for women, created<br />

Mondrian-inspired shift dresses and many<br />

more looks that defined the fashions of the<br />

1960s until he retired in 2002 and which<br />

continue long past his demise. One of his most<br />

enduring themes was that of transparency.<br />

Transparent fabrics were prominent in his<br />

late 1960’s collections. Sometimes his designs<br />

were seen as scandalous and shocking as he<br />

pushed couture to new extremes but ultimately<br />

influenced fashions of the late 20th century<br />

and into the 21st century. A flick through images<br />

of gowns worn by Hollywood glitterati at big<br />

events this year reveals just how much the<br />

transparent look is still a big theme.<br />

The exhibition is astounding – some 60<br />

original outfits (10 of which belong to the<br />

Museum), original sketches, collection<br />

boards, swatches of material and invoices<br />

give an intimate window to the designs.<br />

Wonderful photographs of models and<br />

clients such as Catherine Deneuve wearing<br />

Saint-Laurent, together with anecdotes<br />

plus catwalk film footage bring to life the<br />

designer’s creations in a way that still shocks<br />

at times, but in which you can’t help but fail<br />

to see just how incredibly sophisticated the<br />

designs were and the exquisite tailoring that<br />

made him the King of fashion for decades. I<br />

could easily imagine Lady Gaga or Dua Lipa<br />

wearing just about anything and everything<br />

in the show. From topless blouses to barely<br />

covered bottoms in gorgeous evening gowns<br />

using lace and sheer materials.<br />

“Transparences” presents an incredible<br />

window into the world of one of France’s top<br />

“Nothing is<br />

more beautiful<br />

than a naked<br />

body,” the late<br />

couturier once<br />

declared.<br />

“A nude woman’s body, that I<br />

have to dress without hindering<br />

the freedom of her natural<br />

movements. In short, my<br />

profession is a loving dialogue<br />

with this naked woman, using all<br />

the magic of my rolls of fabric.”<br />

Yves Saint Laurent<br />

Handwritten note kept at the<br />

Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris.<br />

designers showing how he worked to ‘reveal’<br />

the body of the woman wearing his costume<br />

with both elegance – and audacity.<br />

Dresses that look demure from the front,<br />

astonish when you see the back, the derriere<br />

barely covered by sheer Chantilly lace.<br />

Sublimely cut robes with bodice inserts,<br />

evening and day wear that pushed the<br />

boundaries of design and required a daring<br />

customer – though these outfits were<br />

impactful, you were unlikely to see many<br />

women wearing the more daring costumes<br />

out in public. The Nude Dress of 1968, made<br />

entirely of transparent chiffon provided<br />

‘modesty’ in the form of ostrich feathers.<br />

Even in 2010 when French model/actress<br />

Laetita Casta wore a transparent 1968<br />

Saint-Laurent dress – it caused a sensation.<br />

This is an outstanding exhibition, an<br />

astonishing collection and a fascinating<br />

window into French haute-couture and<br />

fashion history.<br />

Evening gown. 1980 Spring-Summer<br />

haute couture collection. Photograph by<br />

Patricia Canino.© Yves Saint Laurent.<br />

Collection Cité de la dentelle et de la<br />

mode ©Patricia Canino<br />

llustrative sketch of a “smoking” from the<br />

1968 Spring-Summer haute couture collection<br />

created by Yves Saint Laurent in 1983 for the<br />

catalogue for the exhibition Yves Saint Laurent<br />

25 Years of Design at the Metropolitan<br />

Museum of Art in New York.<br />

© Yves Saint Laurent<br />

Calais Museum of Lace<br />

and Fashion<br />

Calais became famous for its lace making in<br />

the 19th Century when English lace makers,<br />

famous for their lacemaking, smuggled one<br />

of their new-fangled looms into France and<br />

set up shop at Saint-Pierre just a stone’s<br />

throw from the museum. The Anglo-French<br />

collaboration was immensely successful and<br />

completely transformed the French lace<br />

making industry which had previously been<br />

handmade only. Calais lace and tulle became<br />

renowned, desired by the rich, famous and<br />

royalty, and the lace making industry in Calais<br />

employed some 40,000 workers in its heyday.<br />

Today Calais is still an important centre for<br />

the production of lace and is much sought<br />

after. Clients of Calais lace include Valentino,<br />

Jean Paul Gaultier, Lacroix and Calvin Klein,<br />

and the majority of the lace produce is<br />

exported to countries around the world to be<br />

68 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 69

Illustrative sketch of a “smoking”<br />

from the 1968 Spring-Summer<br />

haute couture collection<br />

created by Yves Saint Laurent in<br />

1983 for the catalogue for the<br />

exhibition Yves Saint Laurent<br />

25 Years of Design at the<br />

Metropolitan Museum of Art in<br />

New York. © Yves Saint Laurent<br />

used in the production of wedding dresses and<br />

lingerie.<br />

The museum is located in a 19th Century<br />

lace factory renovated by the architects who<br />

designed Jean-Paul Gaultier’s HQ and the<br />

Champollion Museum in Figeac. In the vast<br />

museum galleries, you can discover the history<br />

of lace making - from the handmade lace of<br />

the 16th Century right up to modern times.<br />

Gorgeous antique dresses with lace collars,<br />

bodices, and petticoats and up to the minute<br />

Outfit worn by Naomi<br />

Campbell. 1999 Spring-<br />

Summer haute couture<br />

collection. © Yves Saint<br />

Laurent © Rights reserved<br />

designer haut couture, brocade gowns, velvet<br />

frock coats and rolls of exquisite, delicate lace<br />

in all colours are on show.<br />

The museum also has a unique collection of<br />

nine huge 19th century industrial looms of<br />

which five are still working - and making lace<br />

to this day.<br />


Exhibition Yves Saint Laurent: Transparences<br />

From June 24th to November 12th, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Cité de la dentelle et de la mode (Museum for<br />

Lace and Fashion) 135 quai du Commerce -<br />

62100 Calais (about 10 minutes from Calais<br />

car-ferry port – well worth a detour.<br />

Open every day from 10am to 6pm (5pm from<br />

1 November/closed Tuesdays)<br />

On site: restaurant, fabulous shop, and<br />

resource centre.<br />

See the Museum website for opening times:<br />

cite-dentelle.fr<br />

Find out more about this unique exhibition at:<br />

Calais-cotedopale.co.uk<br />

24.06 - 12.11 <strong>2023</strong><br />

Robe du soir, collection haute couture automne-hiver 1970<br />

© Yves Saint Laurent © Estate Jeanloup Sieff / Graphisme Studio Tovar<br />

70 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 71

Secret<br />

France:<br />


The little-known town of Tournus in Burgundy<br />

is a huge surprise with its stupendous 17th<br />

century Hotel Dieu, winding cobbled streets<br />

lined with ancient buildings, superb local wines<br />

and an inspired gastronomic scene with an<br />

international reputation says Janine Marsh.<br />

Tournus in the Saône-et-Loire Department<br />

is overshadowed somewhat by neighbouring<br />

Cluny, home to one of France’s greatest<br />

abbeys. But stray a little because Tournus, a<br />

town of some 6000 people that sits astride<br />

the Saône River, surrounded by vineyards and<br />

glorious countryside, is a well-kept secret that<br />

deserves a detour.<br />

Tournus has its own Abbey – Saint-Phillibert,<br />

one of only two churches left in France<br />

with this type of Romanesque architecture<br />

which spans from the 11th and 12th centuries.<br />

There’s also a fascinating bike museum where<br />

you can even take a ride on some unusual<br />

bikes. Tournus’ picturesque alleys are home<br />

to beautiful buildings, artisan shops and art<br />

galleries. But for me, the real surprise was the<br />

incredible Hotel Dieu, certainly a rival to the<br />

famous Hospices de Beaune.<br />

Hotel Dieu of Tournus<br />

This ancient hospital has been restored to look<br />

just as it did in its heyday in the 17th century.<br />

You can only visit by guided tour, but it is so<br />

worth it, taking in the atmospheric sick wards,<br />

the extraordinary apothecary, and exquisite<br />

plate room and medicinal gardens.<br />

There’s a rather horrifying collection of<br />

medical instruments on display and frankly,<br />

there is nowhere I’d like to have those nozzles<br />

inserted! The guide takes great pleasure in<br />

explaining what all the needles, hooks and<br />

jagged metal implements are for, and if you’re<br />

in any doubt about how utterly awful medical<br />

treatment might have been a few centuries<br />

back, he will enlighten you.<br />

I was quite sure I could smell the smoke from<br />

the ancient fireplace in the men’s ward, and<br />

it’s easy to imagine these wood panelled<br />

rooms lit by candle. The beds are made as if<br />

The apothecary<br />

waiting for an intake of 17th century patients,<br />

very short beds as was the fashion of the<br />

day when people slept half sitting (lying flat<br />

was associated with death). There is also an<br />

incredible plate room full of 18th century<br />

pewter treasures. And the apothecary is full<br />

of sparkling glass bottles and blue and white<br />

porcelain jars that once stored ointments<br />

and potions where I spotted a beautiful jar of<br />

Vinaigre des Quatre Voleurs – Four Thieves<br />

The plate room<br />

72 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 73

The Chapel<br />

Vinegar – which is still used to this day in<br />

France for various ailments including colds<br />

and lice. Legend has it that in the 14th century,<br />

four thieves from Marseilles robbed corpses<br />

during a plague epidemic, without themselves<br />

ever being contaminated. They claimed<br />

to have discovered a remedy, the famous<br />

‘vinegar of the four thieves’, which they took<br />

daily, containing herbs such as garlic, mint,<br />

lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme steeped<br />

in cider vinegar.<br />

With its 300 jars, and ancient wood panelled<br />

walls, this is one of the oldest and most wellpreserved<br />

apothecaries in France.<br />

There is also a truly stunning chapel, and a<br />

pretty medicinal garden.<br />

Incredibly the hospital functioned until the late<br />

20th century, closing its doors to patients only<br />

in 1982.<br />

This is as extraordinary a place as you will find<br />

in France and yet it is hardly known even to<br />

those who live nearby. Ben, the guide, says<br />

there is a soul to this building and whispered<br />

‘au revoir’ when he closed the doors. I<br />

whispered it too, I think he’s right.<br />

(Audio guide is available in English, German,<br />

Dutch, and Italian, book your tour at Tournus<br />

tourist office).<br />

Wine tasting<br />

Burgundy is wine country, and at Vignerons<br />

de Mancey you can sample and buy the finest<br />

local wines, white, red and a superb crémant<br />

made the same way as Champagne. Here<br />

you can also taste Aligoté – a traditional white<br />

wine, “a local thing” says the guide adding it’s<br />

better used in cocktails. I highly recommend<br />

the delicious wines served with creamy local<br />

goats’ cheese, salty comté from neighbouring<br />

Jura, and cheese gougères which Burgundians<br />

tuck into at the drop of a hat – a brilliant<br />

cheese and wine tasting tour.<br />

Tasting sessions are held daily. Reserve in<br />

advance if you want a tour in English - by<br />

email direct at lesvigneronsdemancey.fr or<br />

via the very helpful tourist office and believe<br />

me you do not want to miss this one!<br />

The Good Life<br />

France podcast<br />

Everything you want to know about<br />

France and more...<br />

thegoodlifefrance.com<br />

Tournus is a taste<br />

sensation!<br />

Food and wine lovers are spoiled for choice<br />

in this little town. From the fabulous wine<br />

tasting cellar of the elegant Hotel les 7<br />

Fontaines, to the cute brocante café where<br />

you can browse the second hand treasures<br />

as you sip a coffee and nibble on a homemade<br />

biscuit.<br />

However, Tournus is a gastronomic giant<br />

with not just one, but two Michelin starred<br />

restaurants in the centre of the town. The<br />

kitchen of Restaurant L’Ecrin in a historic<br />

building, now the hotel Maison Greuze, is run<br />

by Yohann Chapuis. The menu serves divine<br />

classic dishes but with an innovative twist,<br />

featuring herbs and spices that make your<br />

tastebuds tingle.<br />

74 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 75





And at Aux Terrasses hotel and restaurant,<br />

there is absolutely nothing remotely ordinary<br />

about Chef Jean-Michel Carrette’s dishes.<br />

At this restaurant there is no menu, chef<br />

makes what he is inspired by according to the<br />

seasons and produce available using local and<br />

organic ingredients. You can of course notify<br />

the staff of any dislikes or allergies and chef<br />

will create a dish for you that suits your taste.<br />

This is a chef with a conscience who cares<br />

deeply about the planet and ‘the part we play<br />

in it.’ His philosophy is to “have a good life and<br />

a happy customer”, both of which he works<br />

hard at, and his ethos is to 100% recycle what<br />

comes from his kitchen - with zero waste.<br />

Chef Carrette<br />








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S I R E T : 9 0 4 9 5 3 9 5 7 0 0 0 1 9<br />

An adventure on the table<br />

I honestly didn’t want the experience of<br />

eating spicy tiny pancakes with the freshest<br />

of peas to end. A lightly braised leek whose<br />

leaves were individually teased to create<br />

a flamboyant concoction was as beautiful<br />

as it was tasty. Every course was a work of<br />

art and a delectable adventure. The food is<br />

truly outstanding, at times playful, ethereal<br />

even, and occasionally bonkers. The chef is<br />

clearly a genius in the kitchen and his food is<br />

outstandingly, mouth-wateringly delicious. He<br />

sings well too!<br />

And it’s at a tempting price too for a Michelin<br />

starred menu – from 42 euros for three<br />

courses.<br />

tournus-tourisme.com<br />

76 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 77

City of<br />


Swashbuckling adventure, romantic<br />

walks, and delicious Breton fare.<br />

Gillian Thornton soaks up the maritime<br />

atmosphere of Saint-Malo.<br />

With its imposing ramparts and towering<br />

waterside properties, few ports pack quite<br />

such a picturesque punch as Saint-Malo on<br />

Brittany’s north coast. Today the marina is<br />

packed with gleaming pleasure craft, but in<br />

centuries past, dozens of tall ships jostled for<br />

space along the crowded quaysides.<br />

Strategically located on the eastern side of<br />

the Rance estuary, Saint-Malo was named<br />

after a 6th century monk, the early settlement<br />

quickly fortified against potential invaders.<br />

But it was in the 16th century that the town<br />

became famous for its wealthy ship owners or<br />

armateurs, its daring privateers, and skilled<br />

craftsmen. Within a few decades, Saint-Malo<br />

was the busiest seaport in France.<br />

Arrive by sea and it’s an easy walk from the<br />

harbour to the historic walled town – the<br />

Intra Muros – which today combines with the<br />

neighbouring communes of Saint-Servan and<br />

Paramé to form Grand Saint-Malo, a town<br />

of some 50,000 people. Pitch up by car and<br />

you’ll find public car parks just outside the<br />

ramparts which largely leaves the Intra Muros<br />

to pedestrians.<br />

Before you head inside the city walls, stop<br />

off at the tourist office just outside the town’s<br />

main entrance, Porte Saint-Vincent, for an<br />

annotated map. The earliest fortified town<br />

was an island at high tide, the gate accessed<br />

by drawbridge and guarded by a fortress<br />

that now serves as the Town Hall. Eagle-eyed<br />

visitors might notice that the town flag – an<br />

ermine wearing a scarf – is allowed to fly<br />

above that of the Republic, thanks to the city’s<br />

contribution to the national economy under<br />

Napoleon.<br />

Step inside the main gate and the painted<br />

facades of Place Chateaubriand come in<br />

bright contrast to the sober stone around<br />

them. Romantic author François-René<br />

de Chateaubriand was born in 1768 in a<br />

house adjacent to the Hôtel France et<br />

Chateaubriand. He died in 1848 after an<br />

active political and literary life and rests<br />

beneath a simple stone cross on the Ile de Bé<br />

just offshore.<br />

78 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 79

A nearby street is named after another famous<br />

malouin, Jacques Cartier, born here in 1491.<br />

The son of a fisherman, Cartier’s naval career<br />

saw him promoted by François I and today he<br />

is hailed as the discoverer of Canada, landing<br />

first in Newfoundland and then in the St<br />

Lawrence estuary.<br />

Cartier lies today in Saint-Vincent Cathedral,<br />

along with René Duguay-Trouin, a malouin<br />

corsair – or privateer – who served under Louis<br />

XIV and, in 1711, took possession of Rio de<br />

Janeiro. Unlike pirates who plundered foreign<br />

ships for their own gain, corsairs were licensed<br />

by the king to attack enemy ships in times of<br />

war. In peace time, many prospered as ship<br />

owners and merchants.<br />

Look out too for the round tower that marks<br />

the house of Duchesse Anne, now a private<br />

home but once temporary lodgings for Anne<br />

of Brittany whilst she supervised construction<br />

of the castle. And maybe visit the imposing<br />

Hôtel Magon de La Lande, the former<br />

townhouse of a wealthy corsair, for a taste of<br />

the 18th century good life.<br />

Wherever you go, you can’t help but notice<br />

the edible temptations of this maritime city,<br />

whether you are shopping for souvenirs or<br />

taking a refreshment break. La Maison du<br />

Beurre in rue de l’Orme is a malouin institution<br />

run by master butter maker and cheese refiner<br />

Jean-Yves Bordier, proprietor too of Le Bistro<br />

Autour du Beurre.<br />

Saint-Vincent Cathedral is one of Saint-Malo’s<br />

treasures, not just for the adventurers who<br />

rest there but for its magnificent stained-glass<br />

windows. And yet it was almost lost for good<br />

in 1944 when some 80% of Saint-Malo was<br />

destroyed by Allied bombing, including parts<br />

of the cathedral. Happily, post-war town<br />

planners rebuilt the city to its former glory<br />

using recovered stone wherever possible and<br />

today, the joins are almost seamless.<br />

If, like me, you enjoyed reading All the Light<br />

We Cannot See by American author Antony<br />

Doerr, you will remember the blind French<br />

refugee girl from Paris who comes to live with<br />

family during the German occupation of the<br />

city and is befriended by a young German<br />

soldier. Download a walking trail (French<br />

only) from the website to follow in Marie-<br />

Laure’s footsteps. Just remember to keep<br />

your eyes open!<br />

The Intra-Muros area is all very foot-friendly.<br />

You’re never far from the city walls and the<br />

cathedral spire is an excellent reference point<br />

for those who just like to wander at will. Just<br />

outside the cathedral, I came across the<br />

Enclos de la Résistance, a memorial garden<br />

and granite megalith honouring the city’s<br />

Resistance volunteers. Behind it, stands an<br />

arched 17th century gallery, part of an old<br />

Benedictine monastery discovered in the ruins<br />

of the bombardments.<br />

Historic street © SMBMSM Saint-Malo Tourism<br />

Ar Iniz Hotel<br />

View from the castle walls ©SMBMSM Saint-Malo Tourism<br />

High speed snack? I enjoyed a traditional<br />

buckwheat pancake or galette with savoury<br />

filling at Crêperie Chantal in Place des<br />

Herbes. And if you can’t resist a locally made<br />

ice cream, head to Sanchez in rue de la Vielle<br />

Boucherie for flavours that include liquorice,<br />

tiramisu, and gingerbread, as well as more<br />

conventional flavours.<br />

Sooner or later you’ll find yourself back<br />

at the city ramparts, so nip up one of the<br />

staircases around the 2km loop for one of<br />

the most spectacular seaside strolls you’ll<br />

ever do. The broad ramparts offer glorious<br />

views over Saint-Malo’s four sea forts, two<br />

of which can be visited on foot at low tide –<br />

Fort National and Fort du Petit Bé. Admire<br />

the homes of the armateurs beside the ferry<br />

harbour and look out for the sundial on the<br />

chimney of a house on Rue de Dinan that<br />

marks the home of Robert Surcouf, ‘King of<br />

the Privateers’, who harassed British ships off<br />

India as well as Europe.<br />

Surcouf’s statue points out to sea from<br />

the ramparts whilst Jacques Cartier is<br />

immortalised in stone on the Bastion de la<br />

Hollande, one of the best places to view the<br />

sunset. Few hotels within the Intra Muros<br />

have sea views however, so I recommend<br />

heading outside the walls along the Plage<br />

du Sillon where I found my perfect French<br />

seaside hotel.<br />

80 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 81

Part of a small portfolio of boutique Breton<br />

hotels, Ar Iniz (‘small islands’ in Breton) has<br />

a front row seat on everything – the huge<br />

expanse of golden sand, that spectacular<br />

sunset, and a broad promenade that passes a<br />

flamboyant selection of Belle Epoque villas.<br />

If you can tear yourself away from the view,<br />

you’re less than half an hour by car from the<br />

small resort of Cancale, famous for its tasting<br />

kiosks beside the oyster beds. Maybe visit<br />

La Ville Bague in Saint-Coulomb, one<br />

of several mansions or malounières<br />

commissioned by the maritime gentry as<br />

summer homes in the countryside beyond<br />

the Intra Muros. Then return along the scenic<br />

coastal route via tranquil unspoilt beaches.<br />

I end my day of exploration with a chilled<br />

glass of rosé on the terrace at Ar Iniz before<br />

relaxing over a six-course tasting menu that<br />

includes local mussels, sea bream and pork<br />

fillet, all in manageable portions with sublime<br />

flavour combinations. And when at last I’m<br />

feeling comfortably full, I fall asleep to the<br />

sound of the waves right outside the window.<br />

Perfect day, or what?<br />

Loire Brakes<br />

Gillian travelled overnight from Portsmouth to<br />

Saint-Malo with brittany-ferries.co.uk; had<br />

breakfast at hotel-bristol-union.com;<br />

and dined and slept at Ar Iniz, part of<br />

arcollectionhotels.com. For visitor<br />

information, see saint-malo-tourisme.co.uk<br />

https://frenchcountryadventures.com/<br />

Loire Brakes<br />

Slow Down And Enjoy The View<br />

Tour the beautiful Loire Valley at your own pace with a guided e-bike holiday<br />

loirebrakes.com<br />

82 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 83

Ex-chef Ally Mitchell looks into the life of one of France’s greatest culinary artists<br />

Taste<br />

of<br />

FRANCE:<br />

Auguste Escoffier<br />

The chef who changed<br />

French cuisine forever<br />

Auguste Escoffier was the instigator of<br />

classical French dining. He modernised<br />

professional kitchens. It was he who<br />

masterminded the famous British desserts<br />

Peach Melba and Cherries Jubilee. He<br />

brought glamour to the culinary stage and<br />

pushed restauration into the 20th century.<br />

However, in the 88 years since his death, his<br />

innovative practices, unswerving dedication to<br />

flavour and his belief that “above all, make it<br />

simple”, a phrase we don’t often associate with<br />

elegant French cooking of the 19th century,<br />

have largely been forgotten.<br />

Born in 1846, Auguste was thrown into the<br />

world of professional kitchens when he<br />

was only a child – aged 13, he started an<br />

apprenticeship at his uncle’s restaurant in<br />

Nice. Torture is the word to best describe<br />

his experience. Restaurant conditions were<br />

abysmal as the profession involved negligence,<br />

alcoholism and vulgarity, and the apprentices<br />

bore the brunt of it. His uncle even laughed at<br />

Auguste’s “diminutive stature” as he struggled<br />

to see over the stoves. Even so, almost<br />

immediately, Auguste proved he was brilliant.<br />

He later wrote, “I said to myself, ‘Although<br />

I had not originally intended to enter this<br />

profession, since I am in it, I will work in such a<br />

fashion that I will rise above the ordinary, and<br />

I will do my best to raise again the prestige of<br />

the chef de cuisine’.”<br />

In 1865, aged 19, he was invited to work at<br />

the most fashionable restaurant in Paris,<br />

Le Petit Moulin Rouge. At the outbreak of<br />

the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, he was<br />

appointed chef de cuisine for the army based<br />

on the Rhine in Metz. He even continued to<br />

cook for his brothers-in-arms once captured.<br />

It is highly likely that during these times<br />

of scarcity, Escoffier learnt the value of<br />

reducing waste. He became the first chef to<br />

study canning techniques in order to preserve<br />

ingredients, and later established a canning<br />

side-business, which in 1893, started selling<br />

tins of crushed tomatoes.<br />

Returning to civilian life, in 1880, he met<br />

and married Delphine Daffis. It is rumoured<br />

he won her hand in a game of billiards, but<br />

whether this worrisome story is true or not,<br />

they remained together until their deaths. I<br />

say ‘together’ loosely, as Escoffier’s career<br />

eventually whisked him away from her for<br />

around 30 years. First though, they moved to<br />

Monte Carlo. Escoffier had been headhunted<br />

as Director de Cuisine at the Grand Hotel, the<br />

new and flourishing casino hotel. There, he<br />

met the person who would have the biggest<br />

impact on his life: Cesar Ritz.<br />

The two men, a chef and a hotelier, shared<br />

a visionary outlook on hotel operations,<br />

and used the Grand as their playground to<br />

trial new ideas. Escoffier fashioned the prix<br />

fixe menu and the new dining service of à<br />

la russe in which each dish appeared one<br />

after the other. This was highly unusual as<br />

84 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 85

Paris Ritz garden party at the time of Escoffier<br />

everything normally arrived together in the<br />

fashionable à la française banqueting style.<br />

Presentations too were simplified, dishes<br />

became lighter, and anything inedible was<br />

removed from the plates.<br />

they opened the Carlton Hotel. Escoffier<br />

devised a simplified dining experience that<br />

was considerably easier for chefs to produce<br />

quickly: à la carte menus were a modern<br />

creation for guests to select specific dishes.<br />

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By 1890, Escoffier and Ritz were summoned<br />

to London’s Savoy Hotel. It was here that<br />

Escoffier’s name became legendary,<br />

promoting the elegance of French cuisine on a<br />

global stage.<br />

Escoffier transformed not only the Savoy into<br />

one of the most fashionable dining spots in<br />

London, but also rewrote the rule book on<br />

British dining culture. The unsophisticated<br />

British palette fell in love with his Cuisses<br />

de Nymphes à l’Aurore (‘Nymph Thighs<br />

at Dawn’) – frogs’ legs on a glassy pool<br />

of champagne jelly. Both royalty and the<br />

nouveau riche were his clients. As such,<br />

his food instigated a transition in societal<br />

dynamics. Women, who throughout the<br />

19th century would have been deemed<br />

unrespectable if they dined in a restaurant,<br />

were swept up in that shift, and what we<br />

now recognise as modern restauration was<br />

arriving, all thanks to Escoffier.<br />

His and Ritz’s creative efficiency was an<br />

unbelievable success, and their hotels<br />

bloomed around the world, yet in 1898, they<br />

were sacked for alleged malpractice. In 1899,<br />

He introduced English clientele to more<br />

simplified French food – fresh vegetables<br />

and the five mother sauces, the most popular<br />

today being bechamel. For his modernising<br />

views and peculiar attitudes towards<br />

fashionable society, he was deemed an<br />

eccentric. He loved to attend the theatre and<br />

opera and collected celebrities as companions<br />

which he usually accomplished by naming a<br />

dish after them, such as the Peach Melba,<br />

dedicated to the famous Australian opera<br />

singer Nellie Melba.<br />

Since his apprenticeship, he wore platform<br />

shoes so he could see over the stoves,<br />

adding a flamboyance to his attire. Residing<br />

in London, this Frenchman was outspoken<br />

(quelle surprise), openly holding traditional<br />

English cuisine in contempt. In 1903, he<br />

published a 5000-recipe masterwork<br />

Le Guide Culinaire (‘A Guide to Modern<br />

Cookery’). Although it was scattered with<br />

peppery remarks about the English upper<br />

classes, it also cemented his core techniques<br />

and confirmed his culinary mastery.<br />

It was in the kitchens where his influence<br />

86 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 87

Cherries jubilee<br />

is greatest – he developed la brigade de<br />

cuisine and streamlined kitchen organisation.<br />

Kitchens had to quickly serve haute cuisine<br />

to clients with limited time. Escoffier believed<br />

that the food should never be jeopardised<br />

and his new system ensured that no specific<br />

tasks were repeated. Instead, duties were<br />

delegated depending on the station. He<br />

created numerous roles – a pâtissier, saucier,<br />

rotissier, and a garde manger who organised<br />

the pantry. He banned alcohol and instead<br />

served a refreshing malt drink to keep his<br />

chefs hydrated. Bad behaviour was forbidden<br />

and whenever he himself felt angry he would<br />

leave the kitchen to calm down. He insisted<br />

chefs keep their whites clean and change to<br />

go home. It is thanks to Escoffier than kitchens<br />

became considerably more humane places to<br />

work, and his rules have become a matter of<br />

instinct for chefs today.<br />

Despite all of these incredible breakthroughs<br />

in gastronomy and service, for which he<br />

Scan of British postcard, circa 1905, showing the Carlton Hotel, London<br />

was the first chef to be awarded Legion<br />

d’Honneur, Escoffier’s reputation<br />

has tarnished with time. In 1914, an<br />

abbreviated version of Escoffier’s Guide<br />

was published. Although the authors<br />

insisted that the original was of more<br />

value – and for a time, the post-WWI<br />

society of the 1920s lived by Escoffier’s<br />

teachings of good food and lavish<br />

excess – it was eventually forgotten in<br />

favour of the simplified version. This had<br />

the problematic effect of destroying<br />

Escoffier’s legacy. Not only were many of<br />

his recipes outdated, but the abbreviations<br />

redacted his enthusiasm and passion,<br />

his dedication to food and flavour. His<br />

lifetime’s work became associated with<br />

old-fashioned, rigid instructions devoid of<br />

reasoning. Accordingly, the French devised<br />

Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1960s, while British<br />

gastronomy, which continued to cling to<br />

the Escoffier practices, fell into a rut.<br />

Escoffier died in 1935. He was an<br />

eccentric character ahead of his time.<br />

He shaped our culinary repertoires, and<br />

it is thanks to him that we all know how to<br />

make a bechamel sauce!<br />

Love French food? Have a listen to our<br />

A-Z of French food podcast!<br />

We can help with:<br />

• Moving to France or Spain<br />

• Setting up and running a business<br />

• Help with VISA, residency and<br />

work permits and taxes<br />

• Legal advice and Insurance<br />

• Healthcare advice<br />

B +33 950 75 81 92 a +34 711 05 32 28 pleasehelp.eu k <br />

88 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 89

Gateway to one of the largest national forests in France, Compiègne in Hauts de<br />

France is full of nice surprises. Gillian Thornton explored on two legs and four.<br />

Easing my amiable mount to a standstill, I<br />

relaxed the reins for a few moments to take<br />

in the view down the broad grassy avenue<br />

towards the distant chateau of Compiègne.<br />

After all, it’s not every day I get the chance to<br />

ride in the hoof prints of kings and emperors,<br />

nor to explore the vast natural paradise that<br />

lay at their back door.<br />

Some 85 kilometres north of Paris in the<br />

department of Oise, Compiègne Forest is<br />

bisected by more than 300 km of footpaths<br />

and 130 km of cycle tracks. Walk it, bike it,<br />

or do as I did and book a guided hack from<br />

the Pôle Equestre du Compiégnois astride<br />

a French breed of horse ideally suited to a<br />

relaxed forest adventure.<br />

Native to the Baie de Somme in Picardy, the<br />

Henson is a small, good-natured and suitable<br />

for both novice and expert riders. Our small<br />

group walked and trotted along quiet forest<br />

trails to a soundtrack of birdsong, before<br />

eventually emerging from the trees for our<br />

distant view of the vast chateau.<br />

Hensons back in the paddock, I headed into<br />

town for a close-up view. The first chateau was<br />

built here in the 15th century under Charles V,<br />

keeping its medieval appearance until the 17th<br />

century when Louis XV commissioned a new<br />

building. Most kings of France until Charles<br />

X in 1825 stopped over in Compiègne on the<br />

way to their coronation in Reims, with ‘Sun<br />

King’ Louis XIV visiting no less than 75 times,<br />

starting in 1646.<br />

But whilst Louis XIV made some minor<br />

improvements, it was Louis XVI who<br />

masterminded a whole new wing and made<br />

changes to the interior décor, only to have the<br />

collections dispersed after he and his Austrian<br />

Le Weekend:<br />


Picardy<br />

90 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 91

wife Marie-Antoinette were parted from their<br />

heads during the Revolution.<br />

Enter Napoleon I who repurposed<br />

Compiègne’s vast chateau first for the military,<br />

then as a school for arts and crafts, before<br />

deciding to redesign the former Royal palace<br />

as an Imperial residence with new spaces,<br />

décor, and furnishings.<br />

But it was his nephew, Napoléon III who really<br />

put the château at the forefront of court life.<br />

Together with his wife Empress Eugénie, he<br />

organised a weekly gathering or ‘Series’ for<br />

around one hundred guests for four to six<br />

weeks each year. Days were spent hunting<br />

in the forest, playing games and going to<br />

concerts, all the guests being accommodated<br />

in the chateau.<br />

Walk through the colonnades and courtyards<br />

today, the ballroom and Imperial apartments,<br />

and you get a real feel for what life must<br />

have been like here for the favoured invitees.<br />

Largest of France’s neoclassical chateaux,<br />

Compiègne is a must-see of the Hauts de<br />

France region, ranking with the Château de<br />

Versailles and the Château de Fontainebleau<br />

as one of the three most important Royal<br />

and Imperial residences in France. So allow<br />

plenty of time to discover its four very<br />

different collections.<br />

I began with a journey from the 18th century<br />

through the Second Empire inside the<br />

Royal and Imperial Apartments, each room<br />

furnished in the period for which the most<br />

comprehensive collection of furniture and<br />

artworks was available. Tapestries woven for<br />

Louis XV in the Gobelins factory in Paris show<br />

the king hunting in the Compiègne forest – the<br />

perfect wall covering for a monarch with local<br />

connections. And I have a real ‘wow’ moment<br />

inside the lavish red and gold bedchamber<br />

of Empress Marie-Louise, wife of Napoleon<br />

1. Refurbished in 1810, it’s the last word in<br />

Imperial bling.<br />

Follow in the footsteps of prestigious guests<br />

attending the ‘Series’ to visit the Museum of<br />

the Second Empire, a behind-the-scenes peek<br />

into art, history and court life under Napoleon<br />

III. But I’m particularly moved by the Empress<br />

Museum which reveals the private life of the<br />

last Imperial family through collections begun<br />

by local resident Doctor Ferrand. Covering<br />

the birth of the Empire to the family’s exile in<br />

England after 1870, it shows the fragility of life<br />

at the top of the political food chain.<br />

After the Second Empire fell at Sedan in 1870,<br />

Napoleon and his wife Eugénie settled at<br />

Chislehurst, near London, with their teenage<br />

son. Born in 1856, the Imperial Prince was<br />

also named Napoléon but quickly nicknamed<br />

‘Loulou’ by his adoring parents. In 1873,<br />

Eugénie lost her ailing husband after a kidney<br />

stone operation and in 1879, Loulou was killed<br />

fighting the Zulus in South Africa with the<br />

English, his bloodstained uniform poignantly<br />

displayed here beside a Zulu spear beneath a<br />

painting of his final moments.<br />

Don’t leave the chateau without taking a<br />

walk through the history of transport at the<br />

National Car Museum with its collection<br />

of horse-drawn vehicles, cars and bicycles<br />

from the 18th to early 20th century. And<br />

make like an emperor with a stroll in the<br />

scented air of the landscaped park that<br />

opens onto the forest.<br />

The adjacent town of Compiègne, bisected<br />

by the river Oise, today numbers some<br />

40,000 inhabitants, and is home to yet<br />

more unusual collections, so you’ll need<br />

a couple of days to do them justice. Try<br />

the Antoine Vivenel Museum, packed with<br />

art and archaeological items; the Historic<br />

Figurine Museum with over 100,000 military<br />

and civilian figurines; or maybe the Cloister<br />

Museum at Saint-Corneille Abbey.<br />

I finished my short break at a unique heritage<br />

site in the forest just 6km from the town<br />

centre. The two Napoleons were no strangers<br />

to war but the conflict remembered here<br />

at the Armistice Clearing would have been<br />

beyond even their wildest imagination.<br />

Having recently been refitted as an office, the<br />

Wagon-Lits train carriage reserved for Marshal<br />

Foch was chosen for the signing of the<br />

Armistice in 1918. Normally such a surrender<br />

would have taken place at the headquarters<br />

of the commander-in-chief at Senlis, but the<br />

forest clearing ensured calm and isolation<br />

away from the capital.<br />

When peace returned, the Armistice Clearing<br />

was opened as a memorial on 11 November<br />

1922, and five years later, the historic train<br />

carriage was restored and rehoused in a<br />

purpose-built shelter. A statue of Marshal<br />

Foch by Michelet followed in 1937, but more<br />

upheaval was to come with the Occupation of<br />

France by Germany during World War II.<br />

On 22 June 1940, a French delegation<br />

signed a second Armistice at the exact<br />

location of the first. Only this time the roles<br />

were reversed. Now the site of Germany’s<br />

1918 humiliation was a symbol of the Third<br />

Reich’s victory over France. The clearing was<br />

destroyed on Hitler’s orders and carriage<br />

2419D taken to Germany where it was later<br />

lost in a fire.<br />

Today visitors can imagine those historic<br />

events, thanks to a similar carriage refurbished<br />

in 1950 to replicate the original. The<br />

centrepiece of a fascinating small museum,<br />

it is just a short walk from the statues and<br />

memorials of the Armistice Clearing.<br />

Kings, Emperors and Dictators have all left<br />

their mark on Compiègne, a small town<br />

that is big on history, but also on outdoor<br />

adventure, ideal for a weekend break. Don’t<br />

even try to resist!<br />

Gillian stayed at Aiden by Best Western<br />

@ T’Aim Hotel on the banks of the Oise in<br />

Margny-Les-Compiegne. bestwestern.com<br />

Château de Compiègne:<br />

chateaudecompiegne.fr. Closed Tuesdays,<br />

but open all year round apart from public<br />

holidays.<br />

Armistice Museum:<br />

musee-armistice-14-18.fr<br />

For local visitor information, visit<br />

compiegne-tourisme.fr;<br />

oisetourisme.com;<br />

hautsdefrancetourism.com; or<br />

frenchweekendbreaks.co.uk<br />

92 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 93

Your Photos<br />

Every weekend we invite<br />

you to share your photos<br />

on Facebook and X – it’s a<br />

great way for everyone to<br />

“see” real France and be<br />

inspired by real travellers<br />

snapping pics as they<br />

go. Every week there are<br />

utterly gorgeous photos<br />

being shared, and here we<br />

showcase just a few of the<br />

most popular. Share your<br />

favourite photos with us<br />

and the most ‘liked’ will<br />

appear in the next issue<br />

of The Good Life France<br />

Magazine.<br />

Sacré-Coeur, Noemi Potier<br />

The white stone of the Basilica of<br />

Sacré -Coeur, perched on the highest hill<br />

in Paris, lights up the city skyline.<br />

Read about the history of Sacré-Coeur.<br />

Vieux Arcole, Emma Budgen<br />

Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole restaurant in<br />

rue Channoinesse is a stone’s throw<br />

from Notre Dame. The wisteria here was<br />

planted in 1946. It even has its own special<br />

license to grow this large!<br />

Mougins, Provence Marianne Furnes<br />

Not far from Cannes, Mougins is a village<br />

of winding medieval streets, restaurants,<br />

artists stores and boutiques. It’s considered<br />

a centre of the art de vivre, the art of living<br />

well, in Provence.<br />

Join us on Facebook and<br />

X to like and share<br />

your favourite photos of<br />

France...<br />

94 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 95

What’s<br />

NEW<br />

<strong>Autumn</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

© Vins du Beaujolais / Fabrice Ferrer<br />

Summer’s over and it’s la rentrée in<br />

France – the time to return to work<br />

and school after the long, hot summer<br />

holidays and to harvest the grapes for<br />

wine. There’s plenty going on this season!<br />

National events in <strong>Autumn</strong><br />

Rugby World Cup: 8 September – 28<br />

October <strong>2023</strong><br />

Semaine du Gout – Taste Week: 10-<br />

16 October. 2022. Discover the art of<br />

gastronomy with cooking classes, tastings, and<br />

entertainment. Details: legout.com<br />

1st November La Toussaint – All Saints’ Day.<br />

All over France, pots of chrysanthemums are<br />

placed on graves as loved ones who have<br />

passed on are remembered.<br />

11th November Armistice – commemorative<br />

services will be held all over France in honour<br />

of those who lost their lives in World War I and<br />

other wars.<br />

Beaujolais Nouveau: the new season’s wine<br />

arrives on the third Thursday of November<br />

each year and the festivities start at midnight<br />

on Wednesday. Cafés, bars, and restaurants<br />

all over France encourage a taste!<br />


A Unique, Champagne Themed<br />

19th century Townhouse in the centre of<br />

historic Condom, Gers, Southwest France.<br />

Offering a Luxury Boutique B&B,<br />

• full house rental<br />

• writing and mobile photography retreats<br />

• upmarket Hen do’s/girly getaways.<br />

All with a welcome glass of bubbly.<br />

champagnehouse.fr<br />

Listen to the most beautiful<br />

French songs on your mobile,<br />

Smart TV, Radioline, TuneIn etc.<br />

parischanson.fr<br />

96 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 97

Beaune: Wine Auction (Burgundy). 17-19<br />

November <strong>2023</strong>. Founded in 1443, the former<br />

charitable hospital Hospices de Beaune is<br />

now a museum. During its long existence,<br />

many donors bequeathed vineyards to the<br />

Hospices. In 1859, for the first time, the wines<br />

of the new vintage from these holdings were<br />

sold at auction. Now the hospices de Beaune<br />

wine auction is a major moment of Burgundian<br />

pageantry and the focal point for launching<br />

the new vintage plus tasting events. Book<br />

online at beaune-tourism.com<br />

What’s on?<br />

© Ragnhild Monsen’s<br />

Monet inspired tapestry<br />

Paris - Le Carousel du<br />

Louvre Art Fair, 20-22<br />

October <strong>2023</strong>. Shop for art<br />

in the heart of Paris and see<br />

the extraordinary artworks<br />

of artists including Ragnhild<br />

Monsen, tapestry maker.<br />

Paris Nuit Blanche is<br />

held annually on the first<br />

Saturday night in October.<br />

Museums, public buildings,<br />

monuments, swimming<br />

pools, cinemas, parks, universities, and historic<br />

sites are open to the public all night – an art<br />

and culture party!<br />

Details: quefaire.paris.fr/nuitblanche<br />

vineyard of Paris, with dance, food, fireworks,<br />

and a lot of fun. This event has been going<br />

since 1934! Read our review of the Fetes des<br />

Vendanges here.<br />

Picardy, Amiens: Grand Rederie Amiens –<br />

the second largest flea market in France held<br />

first Sunday every October.<br />

grande-rederie-amiens.com<br />

Special offer<br />

Book a 2024 CroisiEurope cruise before<br />

30 September and get 15% off all Europe<br />

cruises – use code “EARBOOTRAVEL” at<br />

croisieurope.co.uk<br />

AURA Invalides_<br />

“palazzo” that’s strangely dreamlike, and<br />

utterly mesmerising, until 7 Jan 2024.<br />

Working with cardboard, the monumental<br />

sculptures are beautiful and astonishing.<br />

Cultival and the Musée de l'Armée – will open<br />

a new immersive night-time sound and light<br />

experience in the heart of the 17th century<br />

Dôme des Invalides September 22, <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Places are limited, tickets at:<br />

aura-invalides.com<br />

The Chateau de Chantilly (Oise) Plant Days<br />

event brings together nearly 200 nurserymen<br />

and exhibitors from all over France and<br />

Europe. October 6-8, <strong>2023</strong><br />

America celebrates Halloween – in Moselle<br />

they celebrate Rommelbootzennaat – the<br />

night of the grinning beets! This traditional<br />

festival with Celtic origins which takes<br />

place all over the department. Traditionally<br />

celebrated on October 31, the eve<br />

of All Saints' Day, it marked the<br />

end of the luminous season and<br />

the beginning of the dark season.<br />

For one night, it was believed, the<br />

door between the world of the<br />

living and that of the dead was open…<br />

Now celebrated from October 21 to November<br />

5, some people light candles and place them<br />

in a hollowed-out beet or pumpkin!<br />

Christmas is coming…<br />

Christmas lights to be switched on in Paris 17<br />

November <strong>2023</strong><br />

We’ll bring you lots more Christmas info in the<br />

next issue of The Good Life France Magazine<br />

(subscribe here for free).<br />


Paris - Fetes des Vendanges, 11-15 October<br />

<strong>2023</strong>. This is one you definitely should<br />

not miss if you're in Paris at this time. A<br />

celebration of the wine made in the secret<br />

Exhibitions<br />

© OTresson / Avignon Tourisme<br />

Catch the<br />

extraordinary<br />

Eva Jospin<br />

exhibition at<br />

the Palace of<br />

the Popes, a<br />

monumental<br />

cardboard<br />

Promote your business to more than a million<br />

Francophiles every month without breaking the bank<br />

Find out how we can help<br />

Contact Mark@thegoodlifefrance.com<br />

98 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 99



Learning French was never<br />

so much fun!<br />

and aim” says Celtina Massardo of SL<br />

Immersion. “All are professionally qualified<br />

and highly experienced in teaching French as<br />

a foreign language whether you’re learning<br />

for fun, want to pass exams, speak French for<br />

a job, or for moving to France and want to<br />

learn fast, or even want to teach French.”<br />

“Learning French with an immersion homestay<br />

chez the teacher is the most effective way to<br />

learn and to discover the authentic culture.<br />

The locals open their homes and share the<br />

secrets of their village, gastronomy, and<br />

heritage. It is a wonderful exchange. We share<br />

a lot. And the student is immersed in the<br />

language 24/7.”<br />

There are loads of opportunities to discover the<br />

most beautiful villages and historic cities. Visit<br />

markets, museums, and vineyards. Enjoy great<br />

French gastronomy, go wine tasting and discover<br />

real France. But this time it’s with the help of a<br />

local, someone who knows the area, its people,<br />

and its culture. You’ll get to know France in a<br />

way you never thought possible as a visitor.<br />

Every stay is adapted to suit the needs of the<br />

visitor. Every stay is tailor-made, and students<br />

can choose how many formal lessons to<br />

undertake (from 5-30 a week) on an individual<br />

or very small group basis with the pace of<br />

learning adapted to you.<br />

Go as an individual, with your family and<br />

friends or as a group! At the end of your stay,<br />

you’ll be amazed at the incredible difference it<br />

makes to your French!<br />

Find out more and book your French<br />

immersion stay at:<br />

slimmersion-france.com<br />

Learn French while living the life of a<br />

local: it’s a great way to pick up the<br />

nuances of everyday French and really<br />

focus on your French language skills,<br />

while you have fun!<br />

SL Immersion are the leading company for<br />

homestay immersion courses in the French<br />

language. They offer homestays in locations<br />

range from Paris to Provence, via Normandy,<br />

Burgundy, Brittany and Bordeaux, the<br />

French Alps and more. And staying with a<br />

French teacher in their home gives you the<br />

opportunity to live the French lifestyle like a<br />

local – and learn French at the same time.<br />

All the courses are officially certified by the<br />

French Government Tourism agency Atout<br />

France to ensure quality and security of<br />

the stays – and that’s not something that all<br />

immersion courses offer.<br />

As a student, you stay with the teacher and<br />

family in their home. You still take classes<br />

because that’s an important part of learning.<br />

But you get to practice your French in a reallife,<br />

authentic environment.<br />

“Our teachers provide personalized lessons<br />

that are adapted to each individual’s need<br />


• Homestay at your certified private tutor’s residence<br />

• Learn French & discover culture in the most beautiful places in France<br />


Tailor-made courses, guided conversations, French life<br />

slimmersion-france.com<br />

100 | The Good Life France<br />

The Good Life France | 101

French property and<br />

lifestyle show <strong>2023</strong><br />

The Good Life France is proud to be a partner<br />

along with some of the most trusted names<br />

in French property and lifestyle services<br />

including Currencies Direct, Prestige Property<br />

Services and LBS French Administrative<br />

Services. We will also have on hand several<br />

visa specialists to assist you with your<br />

transition. It’s the perfect place to meet the<br />

experts in one place – at the Novotel Hotel,<br />

Southampton on October 7 and 8.<br />

Meet the experts<br />

Longing for a dose of southern French<br />

sunshine, a more laid-back way of life,<br />

a holiday home, a new life or a relaxed<br />

retirement? Whatever your dreams and plans,<br />

come and explore the possibilities of moving<br />

to France and get expert help and advice.<br />



Prestige French<br />

Property and Lifestyle<br />

Show October <strong>2023</strong><br />

For anyone dreaming or planning to buy a property in France or move to France, the<br />

French property and lifestyles show is a must-do. Taking place over the weekend of<br />

7 and 8 October in Southampton this is the event to help you make your dreams of a<br />

new life in France come true.<br />

And we’ve got 300 tickets to give away for free – click here to get your free ticket.<br />


BUYER’S AGENT FRANCE is a bespoke concept, created to meet the specific needs of<br />

discerning international buyers, stress-free, one point of contact & discreet service.<br />

buyersagentfrance.com<br />

102 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 103

Prestige French Property<br />

& Lifestyle Show <strong>2023</strong><br />

French Properties for sale<br />

Holiday rentals throughout France<br />

Employment opportunities<br />

Visa requirements<br />

Currency exchange<br />

300<br />

FREE tickets<br />

give away<br />

Property agents are on hand to inspire with<br />

a huge range of properties available from<br />

chateaux (aren’t we all just dreaming of<br />

escaping to the chateau?!), gorgeous village<br />

houses, properties with land, and bargain<br />

doer-uppers for those keen diy-ers.<br />

French property is surprisingly affordable,<br />

we’ve even seen plenty of properties that cost<br />

less than a year’s rent for an average property<br />

in London.<br />

Post-Brexit, it’s absolutely doable to move to<br />

France, albeit with a few more administrative<br />

requirements. You’ll find all the experts you<br />

need at the French Property and Lifestyle<br />

show to help you negotiate the buying<br />

process, paperwork, and visas. And yes, you<br />

do need a visa now to go to France for longer<br />

than three months out of six, but once you<br />

know how it all works, you’ll find it’s just an<br />

administrative process – and there’s plenty<br />

of support and help on hand so that you<br />

can relax and enjoy the adventure. And for<br />

those looking to work in France, experts<br />

will be available to talk about employment<br />

opportunities. With optic fibre roll out right<br />

across France – working from home on the<br />

internet has never been easier!<br />

If you’re dreaming of buying a property or<br />

moving to France don’t miss this show.<br />

And if you’re longing for a holiday in France or<br />

want to rent while you search or wait to move<br />

into your dream home – that’s taken care of<br />

too, with holiday rentals throughout France<br />

being showcased at the show.<br />

Walking to the boulangerie for your early<br />

morning coffee, shopping at the market for<br />

local seasonal produce, sitting at a café<br />

watching the world go by, relaxing in a hot<br />

tub watching the sun set – it’s a way of life in<br />

France, and it could be your life.<br />

Get your free tickets exclusively from The<br />

Good Life France: click here, choose date and<br />

when you get to the ticket section - choose<br />

the option The Good Life France to get your<br />

free tickets.<br />

See you there!<br />

Find out more at prestigepropertynetwork.com<br />

Free buyers pack for buying in France<br />

Other professional services<br />

(Banking, insurance, Investments etc)<br />

Find out more at<br />

prestigepropertynetwork.com<br />

WHERE<br />

Novotel - Southampton, SO15 1RA<br />

WHEN<br />

7th and 8th October <strong>2023</strong> 10am - 5pm<br />


authorised financial servcies provider<br />

104 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 105


on Bordeaux<br />

Sunny, vibrant Bordeaux city offers a laid-back lifestyle within easy reach of glorious<br />

coastal towns and beautiful countryside with excellent transport links.<br />

Bordeaux is a magnet for tourists drawn to its<br />

top-class museums, including the renowned<br />

Cité du Vin, and glorious architecture. It has<br />

the largest urban area listed on the UNESCO<br />

world heritage encompassing some 1810<br />

hectares. The Port of the Moon, once the<br />

main port for shipping wine from Bordeaux,<br />

has been regenerated and former warehouses<br />

transformed into shops, bars and restaurants.<br />

The quaysides are busy with runners, cyclists<br />

and walkers and families splashing in the<br />

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

impressive Place de la Bourse.<br />

Alongside this, the city has numerous green<br />

spaces and is teeming with smart shops and<br />

chic restaurants. Plus it’s a family-friendly city<br />

with excellent private and public schooling with<br />

an increasing offer for classes taught in English.<br />

Trains to Paris take around two hours, and<br />

there’s also an international airport as well as<br />

excellent auto route links.<br />

Properties here are popular with the French<br />

and with international buyers. American Brad<br />

Turner who works for Leggett Immobillier’s<br />

Bordeaux based agency says “Knowing<br />

where to look is the key to finding your dream<br />

home. Especially if you want a traditional<br />

style property like wood floors and high<br />

ceilings – but with modern facilities such as air<br />

conditioning and a great fitted kitchen! There<br />

are lots of different property styles, multiple<br />

neighbourhoods that are quite distinctive within<br />

the city and a great choice in villages and<br />

towns no more than 50km away from the city<br />

centre and increasingly accessible by public<br />

transport. Even the airport is now only 25<br />

minutes away on the newly opened tram line A<br />

making Bordeaux the perfect place for second<br />

homeowners – no need to keep a car here.”<br />

The Fondaudege and Chartrons<br />

neighbourhoods have been rejuvenated thanks<br />

to tram service access and renovation, and<br />

despite being in the centre of the city, still<br />

retain a villagey-vibe. Recently there has<br />

106 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 107

Our latest properties for sale in and around Bordeaux<br />

chalet villa château farmhouse apartment vineyard gîte cottage coast country city<br />

Full of Charm<br />

Cadillac €435,000<br />

Ref: A22010 - Charming 3-bedroom tastefully<br />

renovated home with heated pool.<br />

5% agency fees included paid by the buyer.<br />

Fantastic Location<br />

Bordeaux €950,000<br />

Ref: A05383 - 4-bedroom 190m² house<br />

with office, garage and garden.<br />

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.<br />

Coming Soon!<br />

Our NEW Bordeaux office<br />

is opening soon…<br />

Watch this space!<br />

been development in several central areas,<br />

for instance the Bassins à Flots area, home<br />

to the newly opened Bassin des Lumières art<br />

venue. Popular with young people, the area<br />

offers excellent investment opportunities with<br />

new apartments, shops and bars and several<br />

companies have opened workspaces. The area<br />

behind Bordeaux-Saint-Jean train station has<br />

also benefited from investment in apartment<br />

and office space plus a fabulous new food<br />

hall. And on the right bank, the Darwin area<br />

overlooking the river is undergoing a renovation.<br />

The Saint-Seurin, Ornano and Saint-Genès<br />

are quieter neighbourhoods, long popular with<br />

families with all the benefits of the city right<br />

on the doorstep. And the residential district<br />

of Nansouty which has a large central square,<br />

great infrastructure, and is also popular with<br />

families wanting more space.<br />

Families seeking bigger gardens and proximity<br />

to private schooling tend to house hunt<br />

around the biggest park in Bordeaux, the Parc<br />

Bordelais in the Cauderan area of Bordeaux<br />

and neighbouring town Le Bouscat which has<br />

a new Tram line. An up-and-coming family<br />

area is Bègles which has fantastic local shops,<br />

transport and a community atmosphere.<br />

Increasingly the suburbs and areas further<br />

away from the city are becoming more<br />

popular, especially with remote workers.<br />

‘Property prices are lower outside the city and<br />

in towns and villages up to 50km away, they<br />

are as much as 30-50% lower. Many of these<br />

areas have excellent road, train and tram<br />

connections. We have some fabulous properties<br />

in areas surrounding Bordeaux, including the<br />

seaside resort of Arcachon, the wine growing<br />

area of Medoc, Entre-Deux-Mers and even<br />

Landes, all these places have been made<br />

accessible with superb transport options” says<br />

Brad. “Plus, we offer a bespoke search service<br />

for overseas clients looking for properties in<br />

Bordeaux and surrounding areas.”<br />

A great choice of property, laid back lifestyle,<br />

excellent weather, wine, and access to the<br />

coast, with prices about half the price of Paris<br />

– welcome to Bordeaux!<br />

Leggett Immobillier will open a new office in<br />

Bordeaux, next to the city hall, in October.<br />

Leggett Immobillier Bordeaux Office address:<br />

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Find properties all across France at<br />

award winning Leggett Immobillier:<br />

frenchestateagents.com<br />

Prestigious Address<br />

Bordeaux €1,299,000<br />

Ref: A18000 - 3-bedroom duplex with<br />

510m² garden, 100m from Parc Bordelais.<br />

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.<br />

Close to the Beach<br />

Hourtin €770,000<br />

Ref: A19337 - 4-bedroom 177m² villa<br />

with pool, 11min by bike to the marina beach.<br />

4% agency fees included paid by the buyer.<br />

Architect-Designed<br />

Andernos-les-Bains €1,595,000<br />

Ref: A18022 - Stunning 4-bedroom 179m²<br />

villa with pool and landscaped gardens.<br />

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.<br />

Golf Lovers<br />

St-Sulpice-et-Cameyrac €630,000<br />

Ref: A18686 - Fabulous 3-bedroom<br />

house with garden and pool.<br />

Agency fees to be paid by the seller.<br />

Turnkey-Ready<br />

Le Bouscat €799,000<br />

Ref: A18944 - 3-bedroom architectdesigned<br />

home with garden and garage.<br />

4% agency fees included paid by the buyer.<br />

Sought after Area<br />

Talence €472,500<br />

Ref: A20925 - 3-bedroom apartment in gated<br />

residence with pool, tennis courts and gym.<br />

5% agency fees included paid by the buyer.<br />

Start your property search today!<br />

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

Information on the risks to which these properties are exposed is available on the Geohazards website:<br />

www.georisques .gouv.fr<br />

108 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 109

Applying for a visa<br />

for France?<br />

Make sure that you have the right level of<br />

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Janine Marsh explains how there’s one thing that people often miss in their<br />

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Earlier this year a reader contacted me in a<br />

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110 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 111

had ticked everything on the list from the<br />

visa application centre.”<br />

Fully comprehensive insurance is needed, but<br />

it’s not enough. You must also have insurance<br />

that covers your healthcare. It’s called by<br />

many names: visa healthcare insurance,<br />

medical insurance, health insurance, private<br />

health insurance, healthcare insurance or<br />

even visa insurance and sometimes insurance<br />

for visa applications.<br />

But it all boils down to the same thing –<br />

without it, your visa application will not be<br />

approved.<br />

I recommended Fabien Pelissier of FAB<br />

French insurance to the couple. After a free<br />

30-minute consultation with one of the team<br />

(who all speak English), they realised that they<br />

had in fact completely missed the requirement<br />

to make sure that they had health cover in<br />

France. Once you move to France with your<br />

long-term visa, you need to apply for your<br />

Carte de Sejour (residency permit) and Carte<br />

Vitale (which covers you for healthcare in<br />

France. Once you have that – you no longer<br />

need to have the medical insurance.<br />

Medical insurance is not cheap. But you must<br />

have good cover to prove that you will not<br />

be a burden on taxpayers in France. And you<br />

need to be prepared to wait from 6-9 months<br />

(sometimes more, so it’s best to allow 12<br />

months for your healthcare insurance cover)<br />

for the residency permit and entry to the<br />

healthcare system to be come through. Note:<br />

You can only apply for the Carte de Sejour/<br />

Carte Vitale after moving to France.<br />

The couple scoured the internet for quotes but<br />

in the end went back to FAB saying “it's the<br />

cheapest we have found - the others are too<br />

much!”<br />

Fabien says<br />

“Brexit didn’t just impact the British, when it<br />

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possible or if it ends before the VISA, then<br />

the certificate should mention that the visa<br />

insurance policy is scheduled for automatic<br />

renewal.<br />

• It mentions that you're covered for medical<br />

expenses and hospitalisation (not just<br />

hospitalisation).<br />

• The medical cover should be for at least<br />

€30,000.00. Note that some visa centres<br />

(New York and London for instance) may<br />

expect more than this for no particular<br />

reason (up to €100k) and for that reason<br />

it's twice as important to work with an<br />

insurance agent or broker that knows the<br />

drill about French visas.<br />

• The certificate should not mention any<br />

medical exclusions.<br />

• It must cover include a repatriation plan.<br />

If you fulfil these five requirements and if the<br />

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112 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 113

Your one stop shop for the finest quality<br />

food from Britain and Ireland.<br />

ONION<br />

Soup<br />

Serves 8<br />

Preparation time 10 min<br />

Cooking time 1 hour<br />


1 ¼ lb. (600 g) large onions<br />

3 tablespoons (50 g) butter<br />

10 cups (2 liters) clear white stock<br />

1 bouquet garni<br />

16 slices of baguette, toasted to make<br />

croutons<br />

5 oz. (140 g) grated Gruyère cheese<br />

Kosher salt to taste<br />

Fine salt, freshly ground pepper<br />

METHOD<br />

Peel, wash, and slice the onions. Sweat them<br />

in butter.<br />

Add the light white stock, the bouquet garni,<br />

and the kosher salt. Simmer for 45 minutes to<br />

1 hour. Adjust the seasoning. Set your oven<br />

to broil.<br />

Pour the broth into individual ovenproof bowls.<br />

Place two croutons in each bowl of soup and<br />

sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place in the<br />

oven until a gratin crust forms on top.<br />



Quality Fresh Beef, Pork and Lamb, Cheeses, Clotted Cream,<br />

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Extracted from<br />

The Complete Book of French Cooking<br />

by Hubert Delorme and Vincent Boué (Flammarion, <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

Photo credit: © Clay McLachlan<br />

114 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 115

Mussel mouclade<br />

Serves 4<br />

Preparation time 30 min<br />

Cooking time 30 min<br />


2 lb. (1 kg) mussels<br />

2 shallots<br />

A few sprigs flat-leaf parsley<br />

6 tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter<br />

Scant ½ cup (100 ml) dry white wine<br />

1⁄3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream<br />

2 teaspoons (10 g) curry powder<br />

Freshly ground pepper<br />

?<br />

Did You Know?<br />

This mouclade is a specialty<br />

of the Poitou-Charentes region,<br />

but other coastal regions have<br />

their own variations.<br />

METHOD<br />

Scrape off the dirt from the mussels and<br />

remove the beards. Finely slice the shallots<br />

and chop the parsley. Sweat the shallots in 3 ½<br />

tablespoons (50 g) butter and then pour in the<br />

white wine.<br />

Add the mussels and half the chopped parsley.<br />

Cover and cook over high heat, stirring<br />

regularly.<br />

Check that all the mussels are open,<br />

discarding any that aren’t, and transfer them<br />

to a dish with a slotted spoon.<br />

Filter the cooking liquid to remove any traces<br />

of sand. Reduce it by half. Add the cream<br />

and reduce further, until it is thick enough<br />

to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the<br />

remaining butter.<br />

Sprinkle half the curry powder into the sauce<br />

and leave it to infuse. Season with pepper.<br />

Serve the mussels on the half shell (remove<br />

one half of each shell) and arrange them all in<br />

a serving dish or in soup plates.<br />

Sprinkle the remaining the parsley over the<br />

dishes, and pour over the hot sauce. Sprinkle<br />

with the remaining curry powder.<br />

Chef’s Notes<br />

Use the finest mussels you can<br />

find for this tasty regional dish.<br />

Allow about ½ lb. (250 g)<br />

of mussels per person for an<br />

appetizer<br />

Extracted from<br />

The Complete Book of French<br />

Cooking by Hubert Delorme and<br />

Vincent Boué (Flammarion, <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

Photo credit: © Clay McLachlan<br />

116 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 117

GINGER &<br />



Crépinette au gingembre<br />

et à la citronnelle<br />

Serves 4<br />

Active time: 1 hour<br />

Cooking time: 30 minutes<br />

Storage: 2 days in the<br />

refrigerator<br />


Meat grinder + medium plate<br />


Crépinettes<br />

1¼ lb. (600 g) pork shoulder (échine de porc)<br />

7 oz. (200 g) pork fatback (lard gras)<br />

1 onion, finely chopped<br />

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil<br />

1¼ cups (300 ml) dry white wine<br />

1 tbsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger<br />

1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass<br />

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro<br />

2¾ tsp (14 g) salt per 2¼ lb. (1 kg) farce<br />

3½ tsp (8 g) ground Voatsiperifery pepper per<br />

2¼ lb. (1 kg) farce<br />

7 oz. (200 g) pork caul fat, rinsed<br />

Wilted spinach<br />

1¾ lb. (800 g) fresh spinach<br />

5 tbsp (2½ oz./70 g) butter<br />

Salt and freshly ground pepper<br />

Sauce<br />

½ tbsp (50 ml) olive oil<br />

Generous ¾ cup (200 ml) sweet soy sauce<br />

3 tbsp (1¾ oz./50 g) butter<br />

To serve<br />

1 tsp (3 g) buckwheat groats (kasha)<br />

1 oz. (30 g) baby spinach<br />

Extracted from Charcuterie: Pâtés, Terrines, Savory Pies –<br />

Recipes and Techniques From the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts<br />

by Ferrandi Paris (Flammarion, <strong>2023</strong>)<br />

Photography credit © Rina Nurra<br />

METHOD<br />

Preparing the crépinettes<br />

Cut the pork shoulder and fatback into pieces<br />

and grind through the meat grinder into a<br />

bowl. In a skillet, cook the onion with the<br />

olive oil over medium-low heat until softened<br />

but not browned. Deglaze the pan with<br />

the white wine and reduce until the onions<br />

are completely soft and all the liquid has<br />

evaporated. Let cool completely, then stir into<br />

the ground meat. Add the ginger, lemongrass,<br />

cilantro, salt, and pepper and stir to combine<br />

without overmixing. Shape into 4 balls, each<br />

weighing 5¼ oz. (150 g), then flatten into disks.<br />

Cut the caul fat into 4 equal squares and wrap<br />

around the disks, enclosing them completely.<br />

Chill until cooking.<br />

Preparing the wilted spinach<br />

De-stem and wash the spinach leaves, then<br />

spin dry. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over<br />

medium heat, add the spinach, and cook<br />

until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and<br />

keep warm.<br />

Cooking the crépinettes and preparing the<br />

sauce<br />

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas<br />

Mark 4). Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe<br />

non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add<br />

the crépinettes, and brown them on both sides.<br />

Place the pan in the oven for 8 minutes to<br />

finish cooking. Remove the crépinettes from<br />

the pan, skim the fat off the pan juices, and<br />

add the soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then stir in<br />

the butter until melted. Return the crépinettes<br />

to the pan to coat them with the sauce.<br />

To serve<br />

Place each crépinette over a bed of wilted<br />

spinach, sprinkle with buckwheat groats, and<br />

garnish with baby spinach leaves.<br />

118 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 119


mirabelle plum tart<br />

Serves 8<br />

Preparation: 40 minutes<br />

Resting: 20 minutes<br />

Cooking: 25 minutes<br />


Creamed sweet short pastry<br />

1 stick (125 g) unsalted butter, softened<br />

½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar<br />

1 egg<br />

2 ¾ cups (250 g) cake flour<br />

1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt<br />

Sweet custard base for baking<br />

1 scant cup (200 ml) milk<br />

1 scant cup (200 ml) whipping cream, min.<br />

35% fat<br />

4 eggs plus 4 yolks<br />

Scant ½ cup (80 g) sugar<br />

A few drops of mirabelle plum brandy<br />

½ vanilla bean<br />

1 lb. (500 g) mirabelle plums<br />

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting<br />

?<br />

Did You Know?<br />

Mirabelle plums, a small, very sweet variety<br />

of plum, are grown in the Alsace-Lorraine<br />

region in eastern France. They are much<br />

appreciated for their juicy flesh and are<br />

used to make preserves and eau-de-vie.<br />

You can use other plums or even other fruit<br />

to make this tart—but it will no longer be<br />

called a mirabelle tart!<br />

METHOD<br />

Prepare the creamed sweet short pastry<br />

Place the butter, sugar, and egg in the bowl<br />

of a food processor and cream together<br />

until smooth. Sift the flour and add it with<br />

the salt to process for 1–2 minutes further,<br />

until smooth.<br />

Press down the dough with the palm of your<br />

hand, pushing it away from you, until the<br />

ingredients are thoroughly blended. Chill,<br />

covered, for 20 minutes. Roll out the dough<br />

very thinly (about 1⁄8 in./3 mm) to form a disk.<br />

Use a rolling pin to transfer it from the working<br />

surface to the baking pan or circle: drape it<br />

round the pin and then unroll it in place. Make<br />

decorative patterns around the edge.<br />

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).<br />

Prepare the sweet custard base for baking.<br />

Combine the milk, cream, whole eggs, egg<br />

yolks, sugar, and bitter almond extract until<br />

just mixed. Do not allow the mixture to form<br />

bubbles. Pour the mirabelle brandy in to the<br />

batter and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla<br />

bean to flavor it. Strain it through a fine-mesh<br />

sieve, cover with plastic wrap, and chill.<br />

Wash the plums. Arrange them at the base of<br />

the pastry crust and pour the batter over. Bake<br />

for 20–25 minutes. If you are using a pastry<br />

ring, remove it for the last 5 minutes so that<br />

the edges can brown slightly. Remove from the<br />

oven and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Turn<br />

onto a cooling rack.<br />

This tart is best served<br />

warm, and is delicious<br />

with ice-cream.<br />

Extracted from<br />

The Complete<br />

Book of French Cooking<br />

by Hubert Delorme and Vincent<br />

Boué (Flammarion, <strong>2023</strong>).<br />

Photo credit: © Clay McLachlan<br />

120 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 121

Last<br />

Word<br />

When my last book came out – Toujours la France – I had a little party in the<br />

garage. We were almost finished renovating the house and garden, but not quite,<br />

so the garage was the best place for more than a handful of people, less chance of<br />

falling over a paint pot.<br />

Claudette, my 90-year-old neighbour had insisted that we mark the occasion with<br />

a little get together. She arrived with her daughter Bernadette and son-in-law Jean-<br />

Claude, closely followed by Mr & Mrs Pepperpot (that’s not their real names, but<br />

they are a diminutive couple and that’s what we call them!). Thierry the farmer two<br />

houses along parked his tractor (thankfully without its usual load of dung) outside our<br />

gate and hopped in for a quick glass of beer and a slice of Claudette’s strawberry<br />

cake. Bread Man, the man who delivers our bread, parked his little van outside and<br />

brought in a box of Speculoos and salted crème éclairs. Madame Bernadette, who<br />

lives at the house at the bottom of our hill, arrived with Constance and Guillaume<br />

and they brought Opera and mille-feuille cakes and perfect little macarons. I’d<br />

expected just a few people to turn up but, in the end, there were 26 of us, as more<br />

neighbours stopped to say hello on their way from their way home from work,<br />

causing a queue of tractors lined up outside our little house.<br />

At the bottom of the garden, the chickens watched and clucked, keen to join in<br />

the fun. “Zut alors” said Bread Man as Barbara Streisand, a long feathered and<br />

rather belligerent bird, belted out her usual shriek, “that one sounds like it’s singing<br />

Je Suis Une Femme Amoreuse” (I am a woman in love), and he hummed happily.<br />

I ignored how many calories there were in all those cakes, and simply enjoyed the<br />

moment and being a part of this lovely community I now call home...<br />

Well I have a new book out this <strong>Autumn</strong> and it’s a bit different from my usual<br />

memoirs. It’s called How to be French: Eat, Drink, Dress, Travel, Love. It’s a<br />

celebration of the French lifestyle, cherishing food and culture, and a lesson in<br />

the joy of art de vivre, taking things slowly. We may well still be in the garage for a<br />

‘launch party’ since the renovation is ongoing (I am starting to think it will never be<br />

entirely finished), but joie de vivre is assured – we are after all in France!<br />

Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream,<br />

and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life, and Toujours la France:<br />

Living the Dream in Rural France.<br />

Janine<br />

Janine Marsh lives in France with her husband and around 60 animals. Her books My Good Life<br />

in France, My Four Seasons in France and Toujours la France are available at Amazon and all<br />

good book shops. Her new book How to be French will be published in October <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

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122 | The Good Life France<br />

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