Civray past and present; Le Caisse d’Epargne


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This building which is by the traffic lights on the main road through Civray from the N10 towards Limoges is a former bank.

This side view has a remarkable similarity to the College which it is directly opposite, I wonder if they were built at the same time and designed by the same architect, the college was built in 1805. However the dorma windows and roof are not quite the same  and this building has a large clock tower at the right hand end. Here is a better photo of the clock tower part.











This is entitled  ‘Caisse d’Epargne’  and dated 29th March 1910 and is attributed to Eug. Texereau.

Incidentally the clock stopped at 25 minutes to 7 or 6.35 but whether that was am or pm and what year who knows?

The Caisse d’Epargne is a mutual savings bank with branches all over France it also has a cycling team.  See what Wikipedia has to say about it. There is still a bank of this name in the centre of Civray, more conveniently placed but not so imposing.

Civray ‘past and present’ ; L’Allée des Capucins


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There is a web site with old post cards of Civray, I have mentioned it before. Some of the pictures are of easily recognisable places like the church and the bridges but some are a bit harder to place.

I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try and locate the subjects of these post cards and then to take the same photo today. This afternoon before it rained I roamed around the streets of Civray camera in one hand and a couple of bits of paper in the other on which I had made rough sketches of the postcard photos ( No printer here in France you see) I found some of the locations, here is one called L’Allée des Capucins . It is opposite the traffic lights, by the College. (for those of you who live in the area).









If you would like to see more old postcards then the web site is called Cartes Postales Anciennes de CIVRAY (86)m 

With some of the postcards the site gives you the date the photo was taken but not all and normally it gives the location. I will in due course prepare more ‘past and present’ photos.

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; June 2017


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 Plenty on in Poitou-Charentes this June, I am always up for the Ferraris in Valle de Vienne and its in support of a good cause. There is some Jazz on in St George de Didonne  on the 10th, which might be worth a look, and there is  lots, lots more.


June 2017

Festival Musiques Metisses, Angouleme 2nd to 4th June (more)

Les Visiteur de L’Autre Monde; Chateau-Larcher 2nd 3rd 4th and 9th and 10th June 2017(more)

Festival de Melle 16th June (more)

Notes en Vert at Perigny 10th to 12th June (More) (Still the 2016 site)

Spectacles nocturnes Coeurs en Bataille; Nouaille-Maupetuis: 2nd 3rd and 4th June (more) Don’t forget your glasses.

b-120-90-16777215-0-stories-22eme_edition-22_eme_sport-et-collection-11500 Ferraris contre le cancer: Val de Vienne, Le Vigeant:  1st 2nd 3rd and 4th June (more)



Festival Musiques et Gastronomiques du Monde, Mathes  2nd and 3rd June (more) 

Jazz concert, LE QUARTET CARIBA, St George de Didonne 10th June (more) 

Half Marathon; Niort: 11th June (more)

Highland Games; Bressuire: 10th and 11th June  (more)

Festival Handi Blues; Saint Trojan-les-Bains 12th to18thJune (more) 

Polychromies de Notre Dame le Grand; Poitiers: starts 21st June then every night till 21st Sept. (more)

Festival de Melle; Melle 16th May to 6th June 2016 (more)

L’escargouille (snail farm) open day; Blanzay: (around the 15th June ) (more) Rather like the occupants, the owners are rather slow in updating their web site! They also sell products in local markets check site for dates.

Maraisthon; Coulon: 18th June (more)

Ball-trap (painful!!!);Route de Serpaize 38200 Luzinay 20th May (more)

Fete de la Music; A one day event across Poitou-Charente, indeed all France check web site for what is on near you; 21st June (more)

Fete de la Saint Jean, Les Mathes 21st  June (more) 

La Journee Medieval ‘La Rancon du Roi: Nouaille-Mauperuis: Last Sunday in June,     the 26th(more)

Vintage Cars Grand Prix ; Bressuire: 23rd 24th and 25th June  (more) (more)

Le festival de les Sarabandes, Rouillac    23rd to 25th June (more)

Free Music festival; Montendre: 23r and 24th June (more)

Jazz à Vienne & Saison Jazz  (loads of stuff all over check web site); Vienne 29th June – 13th July (more)

Marche sur L’Eau; Le Vanneau-Irleau: Towards the end of June, they are usually fairly non specific about the date. (more)

Bye bye Norbert….. hello XPO


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For many years we played a lorry spotting game as we drove to France and back. It started with the famous Norbert Dentresangle and you got one point for each lorry you spotted.

It soon developed into quite a complicated game with one lorry for each country and double points for a ‘special’ ie hauling a tanker or with a double trailer. We had Willi Betz, Eddie Stobart, Catalan Lines, Christian Salvesen, Olloquegi , and many others. Check out my Lorry spotting blog of 2012 with all the names and rules.

On our way back from France yesterday I noticed that not a single Norbert was to be found. Indeed virtually all our point scoring lorries seem to have passed into history.

On return I looked up Norbert and found it was taken over by a company called XPO logistics. Monsieur Dentrasangle is now a very rich man, £3.2 billion rich…. possibly.

We did see one lorry from the good old days, it did not score any points back then but it made us smile. It was Fockedey !!! In fact my wife was the one who saw it.. Later I said I was still keeping my eyes peeled to see if could spot another one. To which she said ‘I think one Fockedey is enough.’   She knew what she was saying… naughty girl.

Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Arctia villica)


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The Cream-spot Tiger is quite a common moth in both France and southern UK it is often attracted to lights and is on the wing in May and June.

The eggs are laid on groundsel, ragwort, chickweed, dead nettles and dock amongst other things, so the food plant is quite variable. The caterpillars hatch in July and are of the dark brown woolly type. They overwinter as caterpillars and then resume eating and growing in Spring.  In May they spin a cocoon and turn into the pupae but only stay in this stage for a short time, hatching out in late May or June.

Les Ormes, Mitterand, Brexit and more.


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We have just enjoyed the company of some long standing friends, (too long to say how long,) who have visited us at Chez Sapin in the beautiful Poitou-Charentes countryside.     Four days and we never stopped talking except to sleep and even that was  well after midnight each day.

The conversations were wide and varied, the dreaded ‘B’ word did get mentioned as did the UK elections, Trump, Macron and others. The few of our mutual FB friends will recognise the style.

Much wine and good food was indulged in, the wine no doubt lubricating the conversations but not necessarily improving them! One of the wines was this red from Les Ormes, there are also whites from Les… I wrote a blog about            ‘Les Ormes…cockney made good’ some years ago.  It was well received at the time but those of you who missed it might like to click the link and read all about Les ( its pronounced LEZ with a Phil Mitchell accent ).

This area of France is quite good for bird life, we get Buzzards and Black Kites, Hoopoes and Golden Orioles, loads of Nightingales, Redstarts, Stonechats and many more.  John and Jayne ( our friends) were polite enough to show an interest, actually I think they were genuinely interested in the bird life and it lightened the conversation from the disaster of the referendum and the impending gloom when/if May becomes our Fuhrer.

I think it was the Golden Oriole which prompted John to mention Francoise Mitterrand’s last meal. I was vaguely aware of this being something special but not familiar with the small bird he evidently consumed with a tea towel over his head.

Francoise Mitterand is of course a local lad and is one of the two claims to fame that Jarnac has, which is where he was born and lived in his childhood, the other being that Jarnac is the home of Courvoisier, another famous name. I also have written about Mitterrand and Jarnac, you might also like to have a look at that blog, (more serious than Les Ormes)

I looked up the last supper of Francoise and the bird is an Ortolan Bunting, it is small and looks like a cross between a Yellowhammer and a Cirl Bunting. It is not that common, but can be seen in this part of France during the summer months. Most unlikely in GB. However I must say that I have never noticed one.

The catching and cooking of this small bird is illegal but I suppose if you are the ex President of France and you are about to die then you can get away with it. There is a lot of ritual to the catching preparing and eating this little bird. It is caught live by using sticks with glue on them so the bird gets stuck. This method also catches lots of other small birds. You have to do it this way because shooting such a small bird would blast it into too many small pieces.  Killing it is also not so pleasant; it is drowned in Armagnac, this some French chefs argue is not such a bad way to die, more preferable than being dunked into boiling water which is the method for many shell fish, crabs and lobsters. Also the process will marinate the bird. Once it is cooked the method of eating is quite bizarre. you place a cloth over your head and then put the entire bird into your mouth and eat everything, bones, head guts and all, except the feet. The idea of the cloth is said to be to keep the aromas close so that you get the very fullest of flavour.

President Mitterand did not just have Ortolans for his last meal. He started with Marennes oysters , 36 of them! Then he had Foie Gras which as you know does involve geese suffering a bit but it also tastes great. Then a capon which was beautifully cooked and very tender and finally the Ortolan buntings. Evidently not every guest tried them, Mitterand took one and eat it with cloth over head when he emerged there were still three left so he took one more and eat that.  Also of course wines from Bordeaux were drunk and the entire meal took over four hours.

He subsequently died! You can read a very detailed account of this meal by clicking Mitterands last meal.

Whats on in Poitou-Charentes; May 2017


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Well, what’s on at the time of preparing this is an orange alert storm warning. Lets hope all passes by without too much disruption. Also what’s on is the elections, French and British. Presumably most of my FB ‘friends’ will want Macron to win because even on FB you get a sense of peoples leanings and if you are my friend then you would sense that I lean to the Liberal side of the political spectrum.

OK this is what is on for May.

May 2017

Ateliers adultes création de mosaique 3ème cycle St Romain-en-Gal, 3rd May  (more)This is close to Vienne which is just south of Lyon…. my mistake, sorry

Sortie avec Nature Vivante : Jardins & biodiversitéCentre-village
38780 Estrablin 4th May (more)


Vide Grenier; La Couarde sur Mer  7th May (more)

Vienne en Fleurs; 30 Avenue du General Leclerc 38200 Vienne, 7th May  (more)  

Festival Plein Sud; Cozes : 9th May to 14th May (more)

Atelier Chocolat; 22 rue du Bourg, Chocolaterie Letuffe, TROIS PALIS: 4th May  and again on 10th May(more)

Festival International de Music de Chambre en Charente; Chalais  6th May to 4th June  (more)

Découverte du patrimoine: Vienne nuits et legends; 14 Cours Brillier 38200 Vienne  13th May and future dates throughout the summer check web site (more)

Regate Le Grand Largue; St Denis D’Oleron 13th May (more)


Patrimoine, Jazz and Wine – Jazz & pop: 12 pl Aristide Briand
69560 Sainte-Colombe 18th May (more)

Le mentaliste Thierry Collet, Chasseneuil du Poitou 19th May (more)

Half Marathon; Aytre-La Rochelle 21st May  and Futuroscope in May (more)

Rallye du Printemps; (motor sport) Bords, Charente Maritime: 13th and 14th May  always a slow site to publish the current years agenda so check it out. (more)


Festival Histoire de Choeurs; St Palais sur Mer, 19th to 21st May (more) 

Spectacles nocturnes Coeurs en Bataille; Nouaille-Maupertuis:   12th May (more)Pour les 13, 19 et 20 mai, 2, 3 et 4 juin 2017 : groups of 10 people!

13ème Festival “Musique au Pays de Pierre Loti” Saint-Pierre d’Oléron 20th to 27th May (more)

Scènes de Territoire Bressuire  31st May  (more)

“Une passion qui donne des ailes” Niort open until 31st May  (more)6fdf8c6c4b66f051b24cea37781cfdc0

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes April 2017


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Here is a selection of some of the events on this month in the area previously known as Poitou-Charentes..  Harlem Globetrotters sounds interesting…. whether you like basketball or not I expect it will be quite entertaining.  


April 2017

Terri’Thouars Blues: Thouars: 29th March to 3rd April (more)

Fussion dance: Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Queen !!!! Niort 3rd April (more)

ATELIER CHOCOLAT Chocolaterie Letuffe, 2 rue du bourg,16730 TROIS PALIS 5th April (more)

Bach a Paques; Saint Maixent L’Ecole: (date not available yet) (more)

Marathons/half Marathons LES FOULEES DE LEOVILLE CHEZ SOULARD 17500 Leoville 9th April (more) check web site for others.

Festival 3 jours d’avril, Saint Martin de Ré 13th to 15th April (more)

Festival des Cerf-volant – Kite festival: Chatellion Plage: 15th 16th and 17th April (more)

Spectacle Vamp In The Kitchen, Lencloitre  15th and 16th  April (more)
20ÈME FOIRE DE PRINTEMPS ET VIDE GRENIER Champ de foire du Mas Félix16500 CONFOLENS 16th April (more)

Médiévales à Nouaillé-Maupertuis 15/16th April  (more)

Harlem Globetrotters, Niort 22nd April 2017 (more)   Trotting to France!

Foire at Rouillac: 27th April (more)


What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; March 2017


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March, already, so Spring is finally here. Lots of stuff on this monthterri-017-aff-202x300



Jour de Carnival; Poitiers: 8th March (more)

Printemps des Poets; Niort: 4th to 19th March (more)

Concert; La Belle Bleue, Le Chateau D’Oleron 10th March (more)

Reggae The Mighty Diamonds, Angouleme La Nef 10th March (more) check site for other gigs.

Venitien Carnival; Etaules: 12th March (more)

La Tete dans les Nuages – magic, circus,arts, and dance for youngsters; Angouleme; 11th to 18th March (more) 

Concert Best Of Floyd à Chasseneuil du Poitou le 14 mars 2017 (more)

Marathons and Half Marathons at various locations, Bressuire, La Rochelle, St Eutrope,and Taillebourg, throughout March (more) 

Celtic Legends; Bressuire:17th March (more)

Concert, Wax Tailor Angouleme La Nef  23rd March (more)

Terri’Thouars Blues: Thouars: 30th March to 2nd April (more)

Rochefort Pacifique cinema (L’Archipel des Marquaise); Rochefort 29th March to 2nd April. (more)

Foire at Rouillac: 27th March

Journées des métiers d’art en France,    Cognac 31st March to 2nd of April (more) This is a world wide event with lots of venues, Cognac is just one : check web site for others.