The Haute Somme: a wealth of heritage to be discovered

The Haute Somme’s varied landscape consists of a high meandering valley, dotted with lakes surrounded by lush greenery and starting points for pleasant walks and bike rides. The historical legacy of the Great War is brought to the fore in

10-second CV: Mélanie Laurent

Name: Mélanie Laurent Born: 21 February 1983 Early career: Mélanie was spotted for the first time by Gérard Depardieu while visiting the set of ‘Asterix and Obelix’ with a friend. He asked her if she wanted to act in movies,

L'Hermione leaves Rochefort

The Hermione sets sail in Charente

On Sunday the 7th September 2014 under the scorching sun of an Indian Summer an estimated 50,000 people gathered in Rochefort on the banks of the River Charente. The long anticipated event that drew them there was the departure of

Less Style Council, more My Council

As one of the newly elected municipal councillors in a small commune, what kinds of things do we discuss? From school buses, to bins, to verge cutting, to complaints about roads, noise and neighbours, life’s rich tapestry is represented. I

En vacances: the great August hiatus in France

  Go anywhere in France in August and it’s hard to miss; the entire country is en fête. Blue, white and red bunting draped above the roads, geraniums bursting with colour on windowsills, posters on every lamp post heralding upcoming

Into darkness: Paris at war

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, we look back at the capital’s role. Life carried on as normal for Paris and its three million citizens, right up until the outbreak of war on 2 August 1914…

La rentrée – France’s fourth season

There’s something magical in the air in France each September – a renaissance after the August shut-down, a new beginning after long holidays on the coast and slow summer days at rural retreats. In the blink of an eye, life in France changes.

Wilfred Owen: Death of a poet

Having suffered a gas attack, frostbite and shellshock – and chronicled the horrors of the Western Front by letter and in his poems – Wilfred Owen thought he would survive the war…

A wet and wild weekend in Nantes

If Nantes is known for one thing nowadays, it’s the giant mechanical elephant that that since 2007 has roamed the old shipyard on one of its remaining islands. Previously, the same city was better known as ‘the Venice of the West’.

A thrifty weekend

Porte de Clignacourt is home to the famous Marché aux Puces. The surrounding streets reveal more covered markets and brocantes where art deco furniture, oversized mirrors, frames and fine art can be purchased.

The Terroir of War

The decimation of Reims, the capital city of Champagne, one of the world’s finest wine regions, was matched by the destruction of its historic vineyards during 1914

The Art of Living in Provence

Few places in France boast such a rich artistic heritage as Provence, which has long provided a stunning backdrop to the work of great painters. For Justin Postlethwaite, the art angle is just one of many good reasons to head south

Périgueux, capital of the Périgord

As the capital of the Périgord, there are certain things you’d expect to find in Périgueux (Dordogne). It’s got high street shops, an impressive cathedral, students and some pretty municipal gardens… not to mention Roman ruins and an unusual statue of a peg-leg general.

The Dordogne and its caves

Image not found.The famous Dordogne caves (grottes) are situated at various sites throughout the region. Created originally by glaciation and water erosion, they take many forms and are fascinating for all ages.

Where do French people go on holiday?

Signs announcing a shop or restaurant is ‘fermé pour les congés annuels’ are a familiar sight in France during the summer. Whilst you’re on holiday, so are the French, many of whom will take four weeks off in one go. But where do they go?

What is Bastille Day?

The national holiday on 14 July in France is commonly referred to as “Le Quatorze Juillet”, though in English it is usually called Bastille Day. Find out why it is celebrated and how…

Made in Limoges

Limoges is undoubtedly best known for its porcelain and enameling, but there are many more delights on offer to tourists visiting the city. Take a stroll around with your wallet at the ready and you will find great gifts and souvenirs for all ages and all pockets.

Christmas Traditions in France

Christmas in France is a family holiday, an occasion for merrymaking and gathering around the table, marked by traditions that have become popular in many countries across the world…

A FAMILY CHRONICLE

Maurice Fourches was born in 1930 in Tulle Corrèze. Monsieur Fourches carried out his higher education at the Faculty of Science at Clemont Ferrand. Maurice’s military service was spent …

A GUIDE TO BETTING ON HORSERACING

There are no bookmakers on French Racecourses, and all betting is done via the Pari Mutuel – the equivalent of the Tote in UK. At the hippodrome the betting is known as PMH, but if betting is for elsewhere it is PMU.

FAMOUS PEOPLE: Yves Thuriès

Yves Thuriès was born on 5th June 1938 in the small bakery of Lempaut (south of Tarn). At 14 years old, he completed his apprenticeship in the pâtisserie Benoît Barné in Castres and obtained his CAP diploma at the age of 17 in Toulouse.

France is getting fatter

With a tradition of good food and regular eating habits, France has traditionally suffered less from obesity than most other European nations. But as Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for The Times reports, this is changing

French music icons

Image not found.If you want to know about French music, then make sure you know about these four performers – although only one of them is still alive! Considered France’s biggest icons, they are as totemic today as when they started their careers

Santon Figures and the Crèche

The depiction of nativity scenes, or crèches as they are called, dates back as early as the 17th century in France. In many aristocratic and middle class homes, the predecessor of today’s crèche appeared in the form of decorated glass-fronted boxes called grottoes or rockeries …

The French get a taste for celebrity

France has long prided itself on being above celebrity tittle-tattle. But a new wave of magazines and TV shows is proving that even the French love star gossip. Plus! Who are the French equivalents of Posh n’ Becks, Mick Jagger…

French national anthem: La Marseillaise

The french national anthem “La Marseillaise” got its name during the French revolution because it was sung by troops from Marseille upon arriving in Paris. Here are the words in French and English.

Jean Jaurès – Born Castres (Tarn)

Jean JaurèsJean Léon Jaurès—full name Auguste Marie Joseph Jean Léon Jaurès—(born at Castres (Tarn)September 3, 1859 – Died Paris July 31, 1914) was a French Socialist leader. He was one of the first social democrats: within the Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO), he opposed Jules Guesde’s refusal of socialist participation in bourgeois governments…

George Sand and the Vallee Noire

Image not found.This area of La Chatre, called the Vallee Noire, is dedicated to the memory of George Sand. She spent much of her time at Nohant Chateau. Bought by her grandmother, in 1793, it is now designated a national monument to commemorate this…

George Sand – 19th century novelist with modern ideas

George Sand, (1804–1876), whose real name was Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, was a woman ahead of her time whose works and lifestyle were both controversial and fascinating to her national and international audiences. She defied the conventions of the time by smoking ….

Hearse and Carriage?

Dozens apply each year for permission to marry dead people under a law created during World War I. Over the years, hundreds of requests have been granted

La France : un état laïque

The separation of church and state has an impact on school and public administration. France is a secular state, but what are the implications of “laïcité” in everyday life?

Père Noël

Père Noël is the French equivalent of the British Father Christmas and the American Santa Claus. In general, France has not adopted the modern garb of Santa Claus in jacket and trousers, but keeps to the older version with a long red…

Bullfighting and Equine Tradition

Image not found.If you live in the Languedoc or are visiting the area, you might be puzzled by the amount of terminology that is involved in local bullfighting displays, and be bewildered at the publicity posters: “What is it actually saying?”

Boule Bretonne

The most ancient game of bowls in France is practised in the western part of France, especially in Brittany. The game is also called boule en bois, because the boules …

Onion Johnnies

“French Onions”Onion Johnny is the nickname given to the French farmers and agricultural labourers that sell distinctive pink onions door-to-door in England, Wales and Scotland.

The Breton Flags

The first known flag of Brittany was the Kroaz Du (or Groaz du), the Black Cross, virtually the reverse of the old Cornish flag…

The Breton Language

To any visitor the most obvious difference between Brittany and the rest of France is the Breton language. This is not always high-profile in everyday life but everywhere are examples …

Breton Music

The regional music of Brittany is unique and covers all genres from Celtic style with obvious maritime influences…