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Friday, 8th June 2018

Mitterrand’s rock protected.

A landscape made famous by former President François Mitterand has been listed for protection by the Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot.
The whole area around the Roche de Solutré in Burgundy is now a site classé.

I wasn’t aware of the significance of this rock until very recently. Mr Mitterand would return to this area every Pentecost and would climb this spectacular rock which overlooks the Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint Véran vineyards. He did this in fulfilment of a vow made during the Second World War. A Resistance member during the Second World War, the former president, his wife and his bother-in-law first climbed the rock in 1946 along with other résistants who had sworn during the war to climb it every year once peace returned.

The Environmental Minister said that the listing will ‘guarantee the quality of this site with its unusual and picturesque scenery’. Any development changing the appearance of this area will need special permission.

However, although a nice story I don’t think the the Environmental Secretary can really list a site because Mr Mitterrand used to climb the rock!.
So the official reason that this site has been listed is because it is a ‘remarkable site that merits national recognition’. This site is home to a wide range of rare plants and animals and is also one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites.

Mitterand rock



Monday, 4th June 2018

Knowing when you are Priority!.

No apologises. This is a VERY boring subject, la priorité à droite (giving Priority to the Right). I originally wrote this blog in February but I thought it was worth posting again as it is a very dangerous road law. Cars can shoot out of a side road onto a main road without slowing down (and believe me they do!) because they have priority. 

I am writing about this because giving Priority to the Right is increasingly being used in towns and villages to slow down traffic.

The “priority to the right” rule on the roads of France is very complicated.
My simple rule is, if I am unsure as to who has priority, which is pretty much all of the time, I slow down, look right and if there is a vehicle coming towards me, I GIVE WAY!
I am not, as you have probably gathered an expert on this subject, but my understanding is that if you refuse to give priority to a car entering the main road from the right you will be responsible for the accident. If you have a French Drivers licence you will receive 4 points, a €135 fine and a 3 year driving suspension. I don’t know what the rules are if you have a UK licence.
So here are some examples of this rule in action!..

1) Simple crossroads.


Here, the red car 1 must give way to the green car and red car 2 must give way to red car 1.
The only car that does not need to stop is the green car.


2) Crossroads with Priority to the right.



In this example the red car 1 wants to drive straight on, but he must give way to red car 2. BUT, red car 2 must give way to the green car.
The only car with priority is the green car.


3) A ‘Y’ junction.


The red car must give way to the right.
The green cars can both continue without giving way. 


4) Roundabouts



There are many many roundabouts that still use the Priority to the Right Rules.
When you approach the roundabout you can enter it immediately but once on the roundabout you must let cars onto the roundabout from the right. So, red car 1 must give way to green car 3.

However, some roundabouts give priority to the vehicle already on the roundabout.

If in doubt, give way!...

I think the most dangerous situations when the priorité à droite rule applies is when you are driving along a main road at 90km/h and cars from small side roads can join the main road without stopping, because you have to give way. This rule certainly does slow the traffic down.


Now for the road signs :-

1) A black cross in a red triangle means that you have to give way until further notice.
2) A yellow diamond means that you have priority.
3) The third sign in the picture below indicates to the user that those who arrive from the right and from the left are not a priority.





Thursday, 31st May 2018

For all those driving in France this year...

There are some important changes to the road laws.

The speed limit on main roads has been reduced from 90kph to 80kph. This reduction in the speed limit is due to come into force before July and is to apply everywhere apart from where there is a central barrier or an overtaking lane. I have also heard people say it applies on all roads where there are no road markings. Suffice to say that there is a lot of confusion as where and where it doesn’t apply, so my advice would be, if in doubt stay at 80kph.

Not a new rule, just an observation. A lot of our local villages and towns, in fact I am tempted to say almost all of our local towns and villages now have 30kph speed limits so please watch out for the signs. If there are road bumps the speed limit is almost certainly 30kph. Driving at 30kpm is painful and the gendames know it!, and moving speed traps are not uncommon.

Other road safety measures being introduced are that drivers will be suspended if they are driving more than 40kph above the speed limit.

The police will also be able to confiscate the licence of anyone holding a phone whilst driving.

90 ou 80 km



Sunday, 27th May 2018

Golden Jackals in the Alps

Hunters in the Alpine Haute-Savoie claim that golden jackals are now hunting and living in the mountains of eastern France.

These predators are usually found in North Africa, Asia and south eastern Europe. Sightings of the golden jackal have been confirmed in neighbouring Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

Experts say they need more evidence before they will confirm that golden jackals are now living in the Alps!




Tuesday, 22nd May 2018

Still on the cheese theme......

Being a vegetarian is difficult in France. The number of vegetarians are increasing, but a few years ago just 1.5% of the French population were vegetarian compared to 14% in the UK.
I think this percentage is even lower in rural areas but pobably higher in the major cities.
I have no idea what proportion of the French population are vegan but it must be tiny.

So, I have to admire Anne Guth, a cheesemaker in the Lorraine region who has just launched a vegan Camembert. However, due to labelling rules she cannot call it a cheese.
Her Camembert is made from cashew nut milk and looks exactly the same as the traditional cows milk Camembert.

The process of making a vegan Camembert is very similar to that when using normal milk, combining the cashew nut milk with cultures, fermenting it to create the shape and then leaving it to mature for at least a month. The only stage that is missing is the curdling process seen with normal milk.

The only other difference between a cows milk Camambert and a cashew milk Camembert is the price. You can pick up a cows milk Camembert for around €1.40 whereas a the cashew milk equivalent will set you back €10.90




Friday, 18th May 2018

Cheese is now being made in Paris for the first time.

I find that quite hard to believe. A nation that is obsessed by cheese doesn’t have a cheese maker in its capital? Surprising, but up until now, the 1600 or however many cheeses that France claims to produce have all been regionally produced.

Entrepreneur, Pierre Coulon, 35, opened his production area / fromagerie just before Christmas selling organic, fair trade, regionally sourced products ( I think he covers just about everything !) in the 18th arrondisement just a few minutes walk from Montmatre.
Coulon is based in the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood, a traditional working class Parisian quarter, transformed by immigration from France’s former colonies in Africa. Now, young professionals, entrepreneurs and start-ups are moving in and changing the face of the neighbourhood.

Unpasteurised cows milk is delivered twice a week from the Seine-et-Marne department about an hours drive away. He also has deliveries of sheeps milk for yoghurt and goats milk for cheese.

Coulon plans to produce a wide variety of cheeses from goats’ cheese ti blue cheese, a Mirabelle liqueur finished cows’ chesse and a cheese washed in local beer.




Monday, 14th May 2018

Billboards are filming us.

Pretty scary, but it is true!
More than 11 million people a week are being filmed by digital advertising panels in shopping centres across France. If it is 11 million people a week in France, how many people a being filmed per week in the world.....

These smart billboards can then ‘advertise’ to each person depending on their age and sex.

There are cameras at the top of the billboards and using facial recognition software the advert changes depending on whom is approaching the billboard. It is very clever.




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