Mission de France


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In the area around Civray there are lots of crosses, often in rather remote but visible places, and often they have an inscription which just says ‘Mission 1953’ or some other year.  Have you ever wondered what it is all about…. yes, something religious and obviously something evangelical, but why in the early 50’s and why in such remote places?

Well I did a bit of research and there is not that much that I could find but its seems that it is all down to a Cardinal Suhard.  He was the Roman Catholic cardinal of Paris, in the 1940’s.  untitled It seems that the Cardinal had the view that certain sections of the French population were not as God fearing as he would have liked them to have been. Especially in some of the rural areas and maybe also in some more industrialised areas as well, ie where times were hard. It is perhaps not surprising that after the first world war and the depression, the faith of some of the less fortunate in society had become somewhat diluted. And of course times were only going to get worse as the second world war kicked in.

Cardinal Suhard said in 1941  ( this is a translation from the original French, so sometimes it sounds a little strange , but I think you will get the gist of it)

“Il y a un mur qui sépare l’Eglise de la masse. Ce mur, il fa.ut l’abattre à tout prix pour rendre au Christ les foules There is a wall separating the Church from the masses, and this wall must be felled at all costs to restore to Christ the crowds, who have lost it.
This observation becomes a requirement for Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard, Archbishop of Paris. Under his impulsion,  The Assembly of Cardinals and Archbishops of France decided on 14 July 1941 to install in Lisieux a Seminary of the Mission of France, near the Carmel of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus. 
Entrusted to Father Louis Augros, the seminary opens its doors on October 5, 1942. Soon, the candidates flock and the seminar becomes a place for meetings and debates. At the end of their studies, the priests are sent as a team. Communities are formed in dechristianized rural areas, then in the suburbs  Workers in large cities. Some priests have a professional activity that can lead to engagement social commitment (trade union).
29 May: a canonical status is given for three years on trial. It is little implemented.
The solidarities woven in this new or unknown world worry some and frighten. The development of  the Mission calls for decisions. The superior is dismissed. the seminar must leave Lisieux,
Moved to Limoges, and was closed the following year. That same year, Rome banned internships and work of the priest-workers. They must leave factories and workshops on 1 March 1954.
August 15: Under the impulse of Cardinal Achille Liènart, the Pope granted the Mission of France an original status.
October: the seminary opens its doors in Pontigny, with a superior distinct from the Vicar general.
There are 50 teams, including three in the Maghreb.
The Mission of France takes a public position for the respect of the rights of the Algerian Independence. It is the starting point for the presence of teams in other countries: Côte d’Ivoire in 1960, Argentina in 1962.


So it wold seem that it had a short life span from 1941 until around 1958 and then it continued in South America for a while. It is possible that Cardinal Suhard was the driving force and he died in 1949 so that with his demise the movement lost its way. Having said that there is a cross (illustrated above) with the date 1955 so it was still active then.

I wonder what the ‘mission’ involved, was it just the erecting of crosses in areas where the population were thought to need a bit of religious elbowing. Or did it involve a meeting with some evangelical curate inspiring? the locals. Were leaflets delivered? No doubt money was collected.

If you have any info on this then please pass it on and I can add more to this post than just the bare bones  that we have here.


Rallye de Charente 2017 route


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The route for this years rallye has been announced and here it is… In two parts, the morning section, then they stop for lunch and then the afternoon section. If you would like to check out the official site then here is a link to it Rallye International de Charentes

The Morning route.


The afternoon route

Bugs on Hazel bushes


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It is well known that Oak trees support more species than any other tree in northern Europe. It is also thought that the longer a type of tree has been populating an area then the more species will adapt to become dependant on it.

Hazel has been around a long time so I had a little mini safari poke about on the various hazel bushes in our garden. As you can see from the state of these leaves, they provide quite a lot of food for various species.

I found quite a few species, possibly the most spectacular was these Hazel saw fly larvae. (Croesus septentrionalis). They look like caterpillars but they turn into saw flies. They also have a curious defence mechanism, which is that if something disturbs them then they all arch backwards and present a jagged outline to the leaf. Presumably this is enough to deter predators.

Some of the species I found were incredibly small like a tiny spider and a red mite, here is a slide show of some of them.

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The largest I found was a stick insect, (Clonopsis gallicathis ) was about 10cm long.

I looked up on the internet (as you do) how many species live on Oaks and Hazel and found this article by T Southwood ….  is it the same Southwood who wrote the two volumes on British Moths back in the 1960’s ? …… probably.

So it is 284 insects on Oaks and only 73 on Hazel

Department of Zoology, Imperial College, London
It is common knowledge amongst ecologists and collectors that some trees have many species of insect denizen and others, usually recently introduced, comparatively few. But the number of species of insect associated with a certain tree would seem to reflect not only the actual time it has been present in Britain but also, and of rather more importance, its general abundance or scarcity throughout this period. If this hypothesis is correct, then in other parts of the world where the pattern of tree dominance is different from that in Britain, we should expect the comparative numbers of insect species to vary accord- ingly. The coniferous forest belt is far more extensive in Russia than in Britain and thus pine, spruce, larch and fir (the last three introduced species in Britain) will be comparatively
Table 1. Comparative series of the numbers of insect species on various deciduous (un- marked) and coniferous * forest trees in Britain and European Russia
Tree Britain Russia
Oak (Quercus) 284 150 Willow (Salix) 266 147 Birch (Betula) 229 101 Hawthorn (Crataegus) 149 59 Poplars (Populus) 97 122 Apple (Malus) 93 77 *Pine (Pinus) 91 190 Alder (Alnus) 90 63 Elm (Ulmus) 82 81 Hazel (Corylus) 73 26 Beech (Fagus) 64 79 Ash (Fraxinus) 41 41 *Spruce (Picea) 37 117 Lime (Tilia) 31 37 Hornbeam (Carpinus) 28 53 *Larch (Larix) 17 44 *Fir (Abies) 16 42 Holly (Ilex) 7 8

Réserve naturelle nationale de la baie de l’Aiguillon


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La baie de l’Aiguillon is situated just north of La Rochelle and part of it is in Charente-Maritime and the northern part is in the Vendee. It is a major nature reserve, particularly because of the large numbers of wading birds.

I visited it in order to photograph, carallets at sunset.  Plenty of carralets but just as the sun was setting a large black thunder-cloud spread across the sky and a pretty red or pink sunset was not forthcoming.

Along parts of this coast there is a road running right beside the sea. In places there are some low cliffs and the coast road runs along the top. In other places the road is below the cliffs and right next to the shore line. This is good if you want to spot the birds but not so good if you leave your vehicle and then the tide comes in. There are warnings that the area is liable to flooding but obviously some folks either did not read the signs or were distantly related to King Canute.

This is not the most attractive bit of coast line, there is quite a bit of shellfish industry with a few outlets selling mussels and oysters direct. Also a few restaurants but it is not really tourist country. There are quite a few camper vans and mobile homes parked up in some of the car parks but this is no doubt because it is free parking with overnight stays permitted  and it’s quite close to La Rochelle. Were it to be more scenically attractive then I suspect the parking areas would not allow overnight stays.

I was not particularly on the lookout for birds, but I did see large flocks of gulls, most Black-headed but also lots of Herring gulls. There were Cormorants and Shell ducks passing by and along the shore line I saw quite a few Turnstones. No doubt had I have taken along a telescope then in the distance I might have spotted some more interesting species.

Whilst we were driving along I did see a group of Grey Partridges in one of the fields… Much nicer than the usual Red legged Partridge. The sign board gives you an idea of what other birds you might come across…All the usual suspects.


So worth a visit and a kilo of mussels fresh and cleaned only cost 3 euros.

Rallye de Charentes


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The Rallye de Charentes is on this month, it is a fantastic opportunity to see some classic old cars with the backdrop of rural and/or urban  France.

Austin Healey


Here is a link to a page from the 2013 Rallye report with about 50 different British cars. Click here to see the slide show

From that page you could navigate your way through hunderds of photos of all the other cars, French, German, American and many others….. Have fun.

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; September 2017


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Autumn starts, either on 1st Sept or the 22nd September, depending on whether you are a weather forcaster or an astronomer. Here are some of the other events taking place in September in the Poitou-Charentes region.

Remontee de la Seudre; Royan: 2nd and 3rd September (more) 

Festival Coup de Chauffe; Cognac: 2nd and 3rd Sept (more)

L’Imprevu Festival Montemboeuf; Montemboeuf: 8th and 9th Sept (more)

Barrobjective photographic exhibition;  Barro: 16th to 24th Sept (more) excellent ….make the effort to visit this.

Le Grand Pavois boat show; La Rochelle: 27th Sept to 3rd October. (more) Biggest in Europe?

Circuit des Remparts/International Rallye: Angouleme: 15th 16th and 17th  September……   I love it. (more)

Rallye International de Charentes ( this is part of the above weekend but occurs on the 16th Sept. The route is not announced until a few days before the event, I will post it on this blog when I can. (more)






Half Marathon; Chasseneuil: 17th Sept (more)


The blog….. poitoucharentesinphotos


Some stats on my blog called ‘Poitoucharentesinphotos’

I started it on 15th October 2011, It was my daughters idea because I was bemoaning the situation that I took lots of photos and most of them only got seen by a very few people.   This was the first photo I published.

Originally I thought just to put on photos and a brief bit of info but gradually the info increased, hopefully not by too much. I found it interesting to research local history and to produce articles which other people might find interesting and all the time using my own photos.

Gradually the blog generated more and more interest. The wordpress site lets you see how many hits you have had, where they came from, which country etc etc  You can see how many hits each article has received and number of hits per month etc.

OK here are some stats.

Number of hits to date. 151,917

Number of hits this month 6,876

Most visited blogs;

Home page…. 33,356

Snakes in Poitou-Charentes…. 15,221

Why do the English refer to the French as Frogs? ….5,379 ( This post is now getting the most hits of all, it was only published a couple of years ago so is catching up)

Comprehensive guide to What’s on in Poitou-Charentes. 2017…. 5,153

Tree lined roads in France…..4,989

Market days in Poitou-Charentes….3,322

Towns and Villages in Poitou-Charentes…..2,432

And so it goes on.

The most hits I have had on one day is 1,166 and the day was June 10th 2016 and the subject was part of the series I did in the run up to the Brexit vote and called Oradour sur Glane.

You can view any of the posts mentioned by just clicking on the links.

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; August 2017


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August in Poitou-Charentes…lets hope the weather is good and the grass needs cutting less often. Now it’s full on holiday time so there are masses of things to do, here are just some of the events. I would suggest that you also search on line for the local events in your area. Local in my area is the Mad Hatters music festival… excellent and we have the Charroux Literary festival….both worth a visit.

promotion-2017Coupe d’Europe Montgolfieres, Mainfonds 2nd to 6th August 2017   (more)

Paddle boarding on the Gartemp ; Montmorillon 1st August 2017 (more)


2017 Tour du Poitou Charentes, Charente, Charente Maritime, Deux sèvres, Vienne 22nd to 25th August 2017 (more)

Summer sound Festival; Rochefort 3rd to 6th August 2017 (more)

La Marquise (folk music) Chasseneuil-du-Poitou 4th August 2017 (more)

BRIC A BRAC Chemin des vallées Quartier du Pontreau16700 RUFFEC 6th August (more)

FOIRE MENSUELLE Place du marché 16700 RUFFEC 9th and 23rd August (more)

Mad Hatters festival; Featuring SLADE with original members but no Noddy Holder, still it sounds good to me. Caunay  11th 12th and 13th August (more)

COURSES HIPPIQUES,Hippodrome16330 MONTIGNAC CHARENTE 10th August 2017 (more)

Championnat de France de supercross; La Tremblade 14th August (more)

Festival Crescendo;Saint Palais sur mer 17 au 19 Août (more)

De Bouche à Oreille Parthenay,  26th to 29th  August 2017  (more)

Festival de Confolens; Confolens:   9th to 15th August 2017 (more)

Les Soirees Lyriques de Sanxay; Sanxay: 10th 12th and 14th August (more)

Jazz en Ré – 18th to 20th  August 2017 (more)

Literary festival;Charroux:  In 24th 25th and 26thAugust (more)

Tour de Poitou-Charentes (cycling) 23rd to 26th August (more)

Festival du film Francophone; Angouleme:23rd to 28th August  (more)

Spectacle Pyromelodique;  Angles sur l’Anglin, 6th August 2017, (More)  

Festival du livre Angles sur l’Anglin, 13th to 15th August 2017 (More) 

Civray past and present; Le Grand Pont.


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The Grand Pont here it is sometime in the past. The post card is entitled Grande-Rue-Duplessis, which indeed it was and still is but it is also a shot taken looking over the bridge. This card does not have a date and is not credited to anyone.

And here it is today (June 2017)

Quite a few changes to the houses, the railings look the same and the old lady has gone. Next is a similar post card from 5th September 1910 and by Eug. Texereau. In this one you can see the railings in more detail.


There are two bridges in Civray the other one is variously known as Le Vieux Pont, le Pont des Barres and indeed Le Vieux Pont des Barres. I presume that this bridge (Grand Pont) is therefore the newer one of the two.