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THERE'S AN unexpected duel going on inside our letter-box. You wouldn't have thought it, just looking at it from the outside, but inside its placid green exterior there's goodness knows what Gallic mayhem and brouhaha going on . . .

The spi

THERE'S A very pretty church at St Florian, newly decorated, fresh, warm and welcoming, and you can't ask much more of a church than that. Under a curious French arrangement the building belongs to the state, and the priest is merely the tenant -

Agnès is young, attractive and cheerful, the sort of person who makes you feel better just by looking at her. She and her farmer husband Colin are building a house a little further up the lane. Not personally, of course: her hands-on extend

WE'VE DECIDED to build a new house. No, we're fairly comfortable where we are, thanks, but our present place is built into such a slope, like most houses in this very up-and-down area, that we spend all day going from one level to another. In fact

Montpellier. The big city. It's bitterly cold. We can see a huge bank of snow-laden cloud heading for us from the direction of Marseilles and the Camargue. We've already seen TV news pictures of Marseilles traffic brought to a halt by a couple of

NEW YEAR'S Day - Euro Day - found us in Cordoba, in southern Spain, penniless.

Well, almost. We set off for Christmas in Portugal armed with packs of new, shiny euro coins, about £10 ($14) worth that we'd bought in France in mid-Decem

WE'VE GOT the builders in just now. They'd been booked in for months to repair some rotten woodwork in the eaves.

We're lucky. There's a boom in the building trade at the moment. Popular wisdom says this is caused by the thought that come J