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Every week you'll find new stories, local and national events, comments, recipes and advice on this page. Click on the Archive button to see previous posts full of interesting information and links.

Snacking with the seasons

Katherine O'Neill // Wednesday, 16 August 2017

One thing I have come to love, since living in rural SW France, is the seasonal availability of many fruits and vegetables.
I’m sure you can all google the benefits of eating seasonal fruit without me harping on about better taste, lower carbon footprint, or any other reason one could come up with. I just want to share my new-found appreciation.

Only now do I realise that I took for granted that I could buy most fruit and vegetables practically all year round. Despite often terrible and unpredictable weather -- I’m from the North of England -- ASDA and Sainsbury’s meant I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted.

The delightful array above is my summer fruit binge: peaches, apricots and, of course, the Quercy melon. This legendary melon, with its aromatic orange flesh, is a staple for many living here. While they are exported far and wide, they are cultivated just down the road from me.

And, my oh my, is Quercy melon just perfect out of the fridge on a hot summer’s day; cool, juicy flesh and, yes, it pairs excellently with a glass of rosé. They’re unique: you won’t find them tasting the way they do here. This, I’m told, is down to the very clay-lime soil being ideal for them, in particular for retaining moisture.

Would I appreciate these so much if they were available all year? Not likely. I didn’t often buy widely available melons, or apricots, back in England.
I see the tractors with their trailers loaded with produce and know I’m getting the freshest.

And then it’s all over. The weather cools, the beautiful autumnal tones start to appear; no more melons and apricots. But it’s OK -- It’s time for pumpkin soup.

 

 

Local products Part 2

Marion Beschet // Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Espadrilles have been made in Occitania region (France), in the Pyrennean regions of Basque country (France - Spain) and Catalonia (Spain), since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (France - Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles dates as far back as 4000 years ago[citation needed]. Traditional espadrilles have a canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by both men and women.

Espadrilles are made from natural materials including jute, cotton, linen and leather. Most of the Basque Espadrilles are made with the famous Basque Linen (see Local products part 1). They're the perfect summer shoe.

The classic espadrille makes a distinctive statement but modern techniques and innovation are adding an exciting new twist to the traditional design.

Whatever your taste, you'll be able to find an espadrille that you'll be happy to wear throughout the day and into the evening.

Wikipédia

Photos : Pixabay

Time to buy!

Alexis Goldberg // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

900,000 French properties were sold last year – a significant increase on the previous year. With prices rising again and low mortgage rates, we could be entering a boom time for the French property market.
According to the official register of French notaires there were over 900,000 sales of property in the last year. This is 10% higher than the same period last year when 824,000 sales were recorded and is in fact higher than was predicted. It is being put down to prices now being highly competitive and there being low French mortgage rates.

French mortgage lenders are now offering loans to non-resident buyers and this often makes far more sense than remortgaging your home in the UK. Many mortgage lenders have a service in English too as they take advantage of so many UK buyers still wishing to purchase property in France. Interest rates are low and as long as one takes into account currency fluctuations, a French mortgage may well be far more beneficial if you are buying in France this year. It is usually better to contact a specialist such as Smart Currency Exchange before applying for a mortgage.

It remains a buyer’s market in most parts of France, but prices are slowly increasing in many areas, notably around Bordeaux which may be largely due to the high speed rail link up to Paris. Other major cities are seeing price rises also such as Paris, Lille and Nimes in the south.
The general feeling, according to the Notaires de France, is that house prices will show a general increase of 1.2% by the end of August this year with apartment prices rising even faster.

Read more ...

High flyers

Julie Savill // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

A hot air balloon glides by.
We shout to the occupants and we can believe they call back.
To discuss properties for sale with amazing sunsets, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will team you up with your own dedicated property consultant.

Fancy doing your own fly-by?  Many companies offer 'mongolfière' flights

 

France - the Global Village

Alexis Goldberg // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

People from every corner of the world come to live in France. Our village is like a mini United Nations. The only difference is that we all get along!
We live in a fast-moving world and whereas a couple of generations ago many people may only have moved once or twice in a lifetime, these days it is so much easier and more common to move many times, and very often overseas.
The beauty of France is that so many different nationalities all live together, drawn by one thing, the beauty of France and what it has to offer in terms of culture, history and space. It is not only British people who want to come to live here.
We moved to the Languedoc over seven years ago and were surprised even then at how many expats we there were either living here full time or with second homes. In our relatively small village of a little over 2,000 people there are Americans, Canadians, Australians, Dutch, Belgian and German people as well as British. We have always found it refreshing and interesting to note how many people have, like us, fallen in love with the French way of life.

If you are looking to move to France and would like to settle in a community filled with Francophiles from all over the world, there are several parts of the country where foreigners are more likely to settle, our area of the Languedoc being one of them. You might want to look at the area around Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Normandy and Brittany are merely a hop, skip and a jump from the UK, so many of us settle there. There are also areas where more of us work, such as Paris, of course, but also Toulouse, centre of the French aerospace industry.

Read more ...

Our hedgehog

Don Quay // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

We may have the only non-nocturnal hedgehog in the south of France.

Write and tell me if you know differently…………I’m told the correct term for a daytime animal is diurnal.
In French a hedgehog is an herisson. 

Hedgehogs are under threat from lots of man-made things: traffic, pesticides and garden strimmers, loss of habitat, swimming pools.

Our eldest, who started life in the UK, was amused to learn that this creature was related to the disc-shaped immobile objects he was used to seeing on the roads.
This one scampers along.

Which is not to say we have no wildlife casualties here in France, however we do have the same size population as the UK and three times the land area.
So less traffic.
And better roads……….

We’ve named ours Truffle. A friendly little critter. I keep expecting him (or her) to talk to me.
And a good swimmer!
I can’t believe the swimming pool chlorine does them any good. I may have netted him out just in time.
When choosing your pool options, as well as a robot cleaner and heat source, be sure to ask for the HERO (Hedgehog Escape Ramp Option). It might look like a plank leaning against the side of the pool to you; to Truffle it's a route to a longer life...

We have created a safe place by laying garden debris along a boundary instead of burning it or taking it to the tip. It breaks down and creates a hog-home (known as a snuggle).

As you already know, ours is a bit special.

Truffle lives beneath a grand old oak tree on the edge of the poplar plantation.
He has built a bijou residence on 4 levels, featuring a gym.
Kevin McCloud named it his all time favourite Not-Grand Design.

 

 

Local products Part 1

Marion Beschet // Tuesday, 08 August 2017

The Basque linen is very famous because it is very resistant, sun-proof and water-proof. It is not a Basque house without a tablecloth or a set of towels with Basque design and colors. Rather it is multicolored lines shimmering, sun effect in the house ... The workshops can be visited in the Pays Basque. You can find these tissues in many shops from brands such as Lartigue, Jean-Vier, Artigua, Tissage de Luz etc ...

Here you can find a selection of basque linen makers

Next week a product made with the Basque Linen...

Make your own syrup with poppies !

Marion Beschet // Friday, 04 August 2017

It's this time of year where the countryside is covered with colourful flowers like sunflowers, lavenders, and... poppies !

Do you know that you can harvest the poppies petals and make a delicious syrup with them ? The petals are like silk in your fingers, so sweet !

Ingredients:
poppy petals (corn poppy / Papaver rhoeas)
sugar

Remove poppy petals (use only corn poppy, do not use garden or any other type of flowers) and put them into a saucepan. Pour just enough water over it so that it is covered. Start to warm it over medium heat and give it a stir once in a while. As soon as the petals turn white sieve and mesaure the liquid. Heat liquid with the same amount of sugar (so for 100 ml syrup you'll need 100 g of sugar) until it reaches 72, but not higher than 85°C. Now the syrup is ready to be filled into glasses. Consume only in small amounts.

Recipe from Almond Corner Blog

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Vroom, vroom!

Alexis Goldberg // Wednesday, 02 August 2017

Driving in France is still a genuine pleasure, with great cars and wide open roads. There are, of course paperwork and rules, but it’s all intended to keep you safe, as a car buyer as well as a driver.

Buying a car in France, whether new or second-hand is not difficult, but there is plenty of paperwork involved. For general guidance from the start, it is always a good idea to consult your local mairie (town hall) who will be more than happy to advise on what is needed.

1. Prices
Prices of new cars are pretty much in line with the UK and if you buy new your local dealer will take care of the paperwork. Beware however, that second-hand car prices are high in France, so if you’re just after a cheap run-around it may well be advantageous to find a left-hand-drive car in the UK and import it to France. This is perfectly possible but you will have to re-register it with French plates if you’re planning to be in France for over six months. It is worth remembering that when you come to sell your second-hand car, you’re likely to get a higher price than in the UK.

2. You don’t have to buy French
France, Germany and the USA fight it out for the title of who built the first car, but France is rightly proud of its car industry and most buyers do buy French. Although there’s a wide choice of French makes of car (and of course garages which readily stock spare parts etc.) don’t be afraid to buy a foreign car. Our local garage mechanic swears by Mercedes which in his view beats Renault for reliability etc. hands down!

3. Be road legal
All second-hand cars in France over four years old need to have passed a Controle Technique (similar to the MOT) which must have been done six months before the date of sale. The sticker is always stuck to the windscreen along with the insurance certificate. After that the Controle Technique needs to be redone every two years.

4. Transferring ownership
Buying a second hand car privately? Make sure that the seller cancels his “carte grise” by barring it through and signs it. There will also be a “certificate de cession” which is the certificate proving transfer of ownership, one copy for the seller, one for you and one to present to the Prefecture. Your local Prefecture will then officially transfer the car ownership into your name which is likely to cost around €200-300 and your carte grise will arrive in the post very soon after this.

5. Insurance
Car insurance is not too expensive in France and it is the car which is insured, not the person, so that anyone with your permission may drive the car.

Read more ...

Should I have a survey ?

Julie Savill // Friday, 28 July 2017

Yes, if it gives you peace of mind when confirming your choice of property purchase.

In the overall scheme, it's a relatively small cost, typically a few thousand Euros for a medium size house without particular complications.

If you have a decent knowledge of buildings you might back your own experience. Check first that agent and vendor are comfortable with this before you start banging and poking about. And as a courtesy, perhaps consider first whether you are serious or curious. At BVI we will offer you a choice of English speaking professional surveyors. You pay them in advance and they report to you, not us.

A reasonable alternative if you have a few specific concerns is to get a local builder to express an opinion.
The 'expert' in the bar is usually a very bad idea; in any regard.

As with choosing an agent in whom to place your trust, allow instinct to guide you with a surveyor. Are you comfortable working with this person? Do they communicate clearly and take a genuine interest in what you want?

Ask what they will report on, what is likely to be excluded and that they look at anything of particular concern or interest to you. Ask in advance of the survey!
They will usually report verbally on the day, and follow it up with a written report.
You can quickly focus on getting the property or walking away.

Vendors may be wary of surveys. It isn’t yet common practice in France.
A good agent will reassure a vendor that your investment in a survey is a sign of positive interest, not simply a clumsy attempt to renegotiate the price. Negotiation is a skill of diplomacy and good agents will broker a deal that suits all parties.

Read more ...

Your turn...

Let your inner author loose!  If you have an experience to share about moving to, living in or simply visiting France then we'd like to hear about it.  Write a maximum of 300 words, attach a photo and we'll publish the best here.

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