French Anger over Beach ‘Privatisation’

la baule

The 5.4km sandy beach at La Baule is going to be privatised and local business owners are furious.

Soon the longest beach in Europe will be managed by the French environmental services company, Veolia.

Veolia has invited bids for sailing clubs, childrens clubs and restaurants. All of the 35 existing business structures will be replaced with standardised modules.

In France, no beach can be truely private because the sea and the beach are public domains and an 1858 ruling states that there must be free access of the public to the beaches. However, the state may grant temporary rentals of beach sections for a maximum of 12 years.

There are strict rules on what the concessionaires can do, they can only operate for 6 months a year, no permanent structures, all tempoary structures to be removed at the end of each season and no fences.

Veolia will be the middle man between the state and the concession operators and it is thought that by year 4, the concession rentals will be in the region of  €850,000pa. Not bad, considering that Veolia have negotiated an annual rental of  €170,000 to the State.

I bet the mayors of lots of coastal towns are watching La Baule with great interest. If this formula works we may see many more ‘privatised’ French beaches.


Saffron is being grown in Normandy.


Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices. It takes about 150 plants to make just 0ne gram of saffron.

90% of all saffron is produced in Iran, but now it is also being produced in France!

Normandy farmer, Myriam Duteil, has been producing saffron since 2013. Production on the farm is increasing every year, partly because more crocuses are planted every Spring and partly because the bulbs self-propagate. Harvesting the stigmas or threads inside the saffron crocus has to be done within 24 hours of the flowers blooming or the petals stick to the threads making harvesting them impossible.

The threads then need to be dried quickly in special ovens. The quicker that they are dried the more intense the flavour.


What to do when your phone looses its charge…

phone charger

So you are on a long journey, involving planes and trains and your laptop or phone runs out of power?

Fear not, around 20 cities in France are offering a novel way to charge your phone or laptop. A free stationary bike!. Here you can sit, have a coffee and a pain au chocolat and pedal !.. I suppose the healthy thing to do would be to omit the pastry!

These chargers can be found at airports and railway stations at Lille, Paris, Rennes and Nantes.

The Postman stops for coffee.

la poste elderly

A growing problem in France and England is that older people want to stay in their own homes longer but families, often living huge distances from their ageing parents worry about their health and well being.

La Poste has come up with a solution, ‘Veiller sur mes parents’. This new service offered by La Poste ensures that the elderly person is visited by the postman /postwoman at least once a week and after this visit there will be a text message to relatives to say how the elderly person is doing. In addition there is a 24/7 telephone helpline and links to local handymen.

This service costs €35.99 a month and it is hoped that this service will help prevent the well known problem of loneliness which can affect older people.


I didn’t know that the French had an Official Accent List. But, they do….




In France you can choose any name for your baby…… as long as all the accents are on the French Official List.

A couple in Quimper, which is quite ironically the ‘capital of Breton culture’, were initially unable to name their son with the Breton name, Fañch as the accent ‘ñ’ was not on the French Official List !

However, after a number of protests (the French do like a protest!), the little boy can now be named Fañch.