Welcome to our Brittany Blog
Tuesday, 30th January 2018
Over 65’s return to Driving School.
Older drivers in France are voluntarily returning to driving school to relearn the ‘Code de la Route’.
Classes in major towns are becoming very popular as older drivers learn new signs and relearn rules they once learnt over 40 years ago!
The Pantarlier course is typical of those being run across France. The course consists of four two-hour sessions, costing €15. There is no risk of anyone loosing their licence if they take part in a course such as this, as in France Drivers Licences have no age limit.
So if you see a car with a sticker like this, you are following an older driver!
Wednesday, 24th January 2018
French café charges by the hour.
I have often wondered how some cafés can be profitable. I have been into many Starbucks / Costa’s and have struggled to find a table as students/workers quite unashamedly work on their laptops, some are even plugged in to the cafés electricity whilst nursing a 2 hour old latte.
A café owner in Bordeaux has the answer. He charges his customer by the hour. €5 for the first hour and then a few cents for every minute thereafter, up to a maximum of €24 for a whole day. For this fee, you can eat and drink as much as you like.
Thursday, 18th January 2018
Smoking in French schools.
Headmasters of French lycée (6th form colleges) and collèges (secondary schools) have asked the government if pupils can be allowed to smoke within the school grounds.
French headmasters argue that when pupils leave the premises to smoke there is an added terrorist risk.
The French government has rejected this request and has told French headmasters that it would be better if their pupils stopped smoking!
Thursday, 11th January 2018
Walking in Brittany
Walking holidays are ideal in the spring as the neither heat nor the holidaymakers have arrived! Another bonus is that ferry and accommodation costs are cheaper.
Walking holidays are becoming increasingly popular appealing to people who want a 'slower' holiday and to see the real France.
France has a network of 6,0000km GR (Sentiers de Grande Randonnée) paths, and there is also a PR (Chemins de Petite Randonnée) network, the voie vert (tarmaced disused railway network) is huge and then of course the tow paths are perfect for flat walking (!). In addition to this most tourist information offices have walking packs, walking associations are keen to share their walks and most mairies maintain walks in their communes.
Now where to start!
The GR's are marked by a short red band above a matching white band, and the PR's with a yellow one, often painted on tress trunks or fence posts.
This massive network of paths across France means that there are walks for everyone!
By walking off the beaten track, you will discover the REAL France not the ‘Touristy’ France. You will eat like the French, in authentic restaurants and by walking you will stumble across unknown places, bars, shops and little museums.
Walking is such a great antidote to modern life, the sun on your skin, the wonderful scents of wild mint and rosemary, the fantastic views and the only decision you need to make is shall we stop here for our picnic or the next beauty stop?
For more information on Walks in Southern Brittany, see our webpage, https://frenchgites.com/things-to-do-in-brittany/walking-in-brittany
PS... In England, Kendall Mint Cake is the go-to snack food for hikers.... not in France, the French choose a hearty slice of dried saucisson to keep up energy levels!
Thursday, 4th January 2018
Legend has it that cassoulet, the classic dish of South-West France, was invented to fortify soldiers fighting off British invaders.
Cassoulet is a hearty peasant dish of white beans mixed with different types of meat according to the region where it is made.
According to popular legend the first cassoulet was made in Castelnaudary, in Occitanie, which was under seige from the British during the Hundred Years War. The story goes that the townspeople gathered together all the food that they could find and made a huge stew which gave the defenders the energy to win the battle and to save the town from occupation.
The original medieval Cassoulet was made from beans and a little bit of pork and poultry fat. The cassoulet of today has evolved to include duck confit, pork shoulder and sausage.
However, the cassoulet made in the South of France is a completely different dish to that made in the North.
Whichever bean is used, and whatever the meat mix I love this dish. A perfect winter meal with cabbage and maybe a baguette.
Friday, 22nd December 2017
Trying to get into the spirit of Christmas!
In a 3 days time Christmas will be over... And still I don't feel in the slightest bit Christmassy.
Last week it dawned on me that in 9 days it would be Christmas. Immediate problem, lack of presents. Amazon Prime is my saviour. The postman jokes that he is Père Noël.
The Christmas lights are up but no one remembers to turn them on. The Christmas tree remains a huge shadow in the corner of the room. I thought we would have guinea fowl on Christmas Eve, but all the supermarkets have sold out of guinea fowl. Sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to run on rails and to cook the traditional Christmas dinner, but no one in my family apart from me likes stuffing, turkey, Christmas pudding, mince pies, brandy or Christmas cake. So the question that arises every year, what to cook for Christmas lunch?
I think this complacency might have something to do with both Iona and Joe being in the middle of mock brevet (GCSE) exams and Iona taking her mock baccalaureate (A level) exams. Stress levels not festive humour are high in our house!
This afternoon I am determined to shift my brain into Christmas mode!, the Amazon boxes will be unpacked and presents will be wrapped whilst listening to Wham's, Last Christmas and Delia's Christmas will provide food inspiration, but first the car needs its M.O.T.
Monday, 18th December 2017
Paris to provide better disabled access
With Paris officially awarded the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the issue of better disabled access, not only to buildings but also to lifts and toilets, is more important than ever.
Although, Paris has made significant progress over the last 20 years it still lags behind London when it comes to disabled access.
One of the reasons for this could be that the French are more regulatory (surely not!), and they place too much importance on how the disabled access looks. For example, the French would prefer to maintain a conformity in the slope and if this is not possible or if it looks 'ugly' then they will propose a secondary access. In Britain this would be viewed as discriminatory and the slightly higher 'ugly' ramp slope would be approved.
In order to meet the 2024 deadline Paris will need to work creatively so all of the beautiful historical monuments can be enjoyed by everyone.