Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to make the most of €1 in Jarnac

I'm lucky enough to have been pretty busy recently (and picked up another mandate from a lovely couple in Dubai last night) and popped down to Jarnac first thing to do some banking. 

Sadly I usually do this online but I had some cheques to pay in the old fashioned way.  I'm glad I did as the welcome I get from the staff at BNP Paribas is heart warming. As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by name by Sylvie the counter clerk and the manager stopped what he was doing to come out, shake my hand and chew the cud for five minutes.  I remember it was like this when I first opened a bank account in 1978 in rural Surrey too.

Anyway, I popped into the market for some bread and fresh fruit & veg before deciding to play hookie and have a sneaky coffee in my favourite bar.  I wasn't being too naughty as my phone is now a mobile office and vibrates discreetly every couple of minutes as emails come in.  It's incredible how quickly this is changing the way we live & work but that's for another time.

The point is that it's a scorcher here today and I plonked myself down on the shady terrace watching the world go by.  Every now and then someone I know would pass by and we would chat about the weather, Euro 2012, the weather, a house that is shortly coming to market, our respective vegetable patches, the weather and the fate of the euro.

I stayed for about an hour and a half - read the Charente Libre, responded to emails from a couple of clients and put the world to rights with Maurice & Martine, the owners.  I could have stayed all morning but had to go into a local mairie to check up on a planning issue.

The bill for my truant euro.  Yup, my colleagues in other parts of France will now be going green with envy, the Café du Theatre in Jarnac charge one measly euro (and not a centime more) for the most perfect cup of coffee served on the terrace in one of the prettiest towns of SW France. Local networking comes free.

Now that's good value!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Discover Poitou Charentes

Here's a nice little video I came across on You Tube.  It gives a flavour of life here in SW France, from the chic boutiques and historic harbour in La Rochelle, to the thrills and spills of Futuroscope and the rolling vineyards of "Cognac Country".

I thought I'd also share the photos below.  I took them yesterday by the river in Bourg Charente.

Each year the locals take to the charente in hand made boats and have a mightily competitive race downstream.  This year entrants included bath tubs, a "Cool Runnings" bobsleigh, a campsite and a ladybird.  Not sure who won as I was busy avoiding the Jamaican bobsleigh team who suddenly came ashore looking for new recruits.

It really was fun to see how much time and effort young and old alike had put into the event. My favoutite was probably a simple "star wars" creation which Dad had obviously cobbled together in his garage and was proudly piloting as his wife and young son warded off imaginary attackers with their laser guns and Jedi swords.

It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons, spent in the sunshine with friends, that will stay in the memory for a long time.....well at least until next years competition which we have vowed to enter as a home made "Tour de France" boat.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Ideal holiday home for sale privately in the Charente

Town house in sought after village with commerce, near Cognac
Private sale - €189,000

Four bedroom/two bathroom townhouse with home office & large garage
10 minutes from Cognac town centre

This 19th century house is in immaculate condition and faces onto the historic church of St Meme les Carrieres. The village has a co-op, two boulangeries, popular bar/restaurant, chemist and post office as well as water-skiing facilities, fishing lake, tennis courts and football pitch.

Ground floor:
The front door opens onto a tiled entrance hall which runs the length of the house and leads through to the courtyard garden at the rear of the house. To the left is a fully fitted kitchen with separate utility room. To the right is a large (36m2) reception room with tiled floor and exposed beams.

First floor:
The stairs rise to a large landing with fitted cupboards and three double bedrooms, all of which have beautiful wooden floorboards and two of which have exposed beam ceilings. At the far end of the landing is a slate tiled shower room and separate wc.

Second floor:
A second staircase leads to an enormous master bedroom with exposed beams and large ensuite bathroom with bath, washbasin and wc.

Courtyard garden & home office:
To the rear of the house is an attractive courtyard garden with barbecue and dining area. The home office has high speed broadband, heating and lighting.

To one side of the courtyard is a huge double height barn/garage which could easily be converted into extra accommodation.

The house has an orchard garden which is situated behind the church. The orchard is 634m2 with views over the Charente valley and contains cherry, apple, pear, walnut and hazelnut trees.

The house has mains drainage, oil central heating, was rewired in 2005 and is easy to secure as all windows have wooden shutters. The pretty market town of Jarnac is less than five minutes by car while Cognac is around 10 minutes away.

Contact: or call +33 (0)5 45 32 46 41