Welcome to our Brittany Blog
The Worlds best Sausage!
Only in France, could there be a competition to find the worlds best sausage.
We are building up to a pretty important competition and entries are already being considered!
A sausage club from Ardèche (just how many sausage clubs are there in France?!) has launched a contest to find the world’s best salami in June 2018.
I wonder, how do you judge a salami ??
Salami producers will compete for the prestigious Rabelais Medal, named after the the 15th century writer who came up with the word ‘saucisson’.
Visit the Amazing French Castle of Guédelon
One of France’s most unique attractions is the Castle of Guédelon.
This castle is being built completely from scratch using authentic techniques. This project is completely unique. There is no other construction on this massive scale using medieaval technology. The first stone was laid 20 years ago and it is estimated that the castle will be finished in another 15 years.
There are three blacksmiths on site making quarrymen and stonemasons’ tools.
The site employs 70 people and has helped to revive many almost forgotten skills.
There is a lot of interest in this project, from archeologists to schools and the general public. Lyon university have taken a particular interest in analysing the data produced from the site whether it is quarry production rates, properties of lime mortar or how long it takes to build a stone wall. Everything is on such a large scale, for example they don’t need one kiln of roof tiles, they need 80,000.
Part of the project is to share the experiences and last year over 300,000 people visited the site. It also has a designated ‘heritage skills’ training centre which is used for professional training, university students and for young people in ‘second chance school’.
There are also some 600 volunteer workers all keen to take part in the construction of this medieaval castle.
This month visitors can expect to see progress on the gatehouse where the first of the slotted stones have just been fixed. These will one day serve to bring down the portcullis.
Eating Ortolans is just barbaric
Usually I am pretty positive about France and anything French, but eating Ortolans is just barbarian it is shocking, horrific.
To my shame, I didn’t know that this practice still occured. I thought in my ignorance that it had been stopped years ago.
Every year, in the Landes (South west of France) 30,000 Ortolans (a protected song bird) are caught, fattened up, sold for €150 each, drowned in Armagnac and then cooked.
Fans of this clandestine meal eat them with a cloth over their head to trap the smells given off by the dish. They should cover their heads in shame.
Thankfully the Ecology Minister, Nicholas Hulot has said that the must be ‘no tolerance’ and the area’s prefect must step up surveillance, checks and fines.
Wednesday, 22nd November 2017
Brittany solves loneliness and poor eating.
All over the world, the elderly are lonely and students eat bad food.
The French have come up with a plan, the Paupiette project, to solve both problems!
The elderly offer a three course lunch (€7), or just a main course for €4 in their homes for students.
This project started in Brittany and has been so successful that it has now spread across the north-west, down to Bordeaux and Paris.
La Maison Creme and the Broken Wall
7.45am phone rings.
'Bonjour madame, j'ai un petit soucis, I have just driven into the wall at La maison Creme and the wall is broken. Don't worry, I can repair it. Can you come and see it?'
I arrive at La Maison Creme and it really wasn't as bad as I feared. I had visions of a gaping hole into the kitchen. Our neighbour had parked his car at the top of the lane, forgot to put the hand brake on, and he had watched his roll down the hill into the half metre high garden wall which surrounds La Maison Creme.
The neighbour was there with his uncle, he was very sorry, and his uncle (a different uncle) is quite fortunately a mason. It really is quite amazing, French families always have the right people for any eventuality!
Happily, our guests at La Maison Creme didn't hear a thing and were blissfully unaware of the broken wall!
Brittany Schools - La Rentrée
La rentrée (back to school) seems months ago whereas in fact it was only three weeks ago!
Today the Amazon parcel arrived! Iona’s light reading for the forthcoming year!
Iona has just started her second year of ‘le baccalauréat’ (the bac). This year she will take her French Literature exams and the rest will be taken next year.
Even though she has chosen a Science Bac she still has to continue with all of the subjects, French, German, History, Geography, Sport and next year philosophy but the exams will be weighted so Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry will be weighted more than the other subjects.
Joe has just started his final year at collége and will take his brevet (GCSE equivalent) exams in June. Last year there were a lot of changes to the brevet exams, which is good news for Joe!
Up until 2016 students were required to do a detailed project (l’histoire des Arts) on three different pieces of art, for example a sculpture, a painting and a ballet but the three had to all link together. This piece of work had to be detailed, typed and bound as a proper report and each student also had to present their project to a jury and answer questions. Happily for Joe, this part of the Brevet has been scrapped!
Tonight it should be decided which Bac Iona will be doing for the next two years.
Iona has just completed her first year at lycée, seconde générale et technologique. (equivalent of Year 11)
At the end of every term, we have had a blue form to complete which asks which baccalauréat she would like to do, her second foreign language and any options that she would like to take. Her teachers then meet and discuss her grades and either approve or reject her request.
There are four choices for a Bac Générale, the Bac Scientifique, Bac Literature, Bac Economic and Social Sciences and Bac STMG (technology). If you are not academic then there are literally thousands of Bac Pro options from learning to drive a heavy goods vehicle to hairdressing or agriculture.
Although there are four types of Bac Générale, they all carry on doing the same subjects; History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, French, Maths, English, German, Sport, Philosophy etc. but the coefficients attached to each subject differ. For example if you do a Bac Scientific the coefficient placed on Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry will be 8 or 9 but for languages the coefficient will only be 2 or 3. The coefficients will be reversed if you are doing a Bac Literature.
From the age of 11 students are vigorously assessed in every subject with every grade given out of 20. At the end of each school year an average grade of all subjects is calculated. So, if you aren't particularly good in one subject this can significantly bring down your annual average. (Here I would mention Joe and art... less said !.. but without art and music his average annual grade would be a lot higher!)
This year end grade out of 20 is very important as it helps the teachers decide which bac each student should be offered.
Needless to say, stress levels are running pretty high!