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You can always tell when it's going to happen. Notices appear tacked to the trees down the street, lashed to lamp-posts or stuck to the official notice boards scattered about the village.

'By order of the maire' they say, and there's a lot


THINKING OF buying a house in France? A lot of people do and most manage to turn the experience into something pretty exciting. Some even write books about it. The sense of adventure is often enhanced by comparing what your money wil

THE FLAG'S flying outside the Mairie, the village town hall, flopping idly in the soft spring breeze. Sunning himself at the top of the steps is Jean-Claude, looking like a prosperous antiquarian taking a breather in the shop doorway and scanning


HERE'S SUMMER upon us, like a long-awaited favourite guest. Hooray. We've waited so long for this. We can sleep with the windows open, get the main work done in those delectable hours between dawn and coffee-time, flop out round the

IT'S ONLY a few minutes from the Spanish border, but it doesn't strike you as a frontier village. In fact, it reinforces its Frenchness, gives itself a last shot of pure Gallicism before the language, colour, scenery and ambiance changes a couple

I'M AFRAID my first thoughts on arriving at the hotel Bleu Marine in St Raphaël weren't very charitable. There was such an incredible noise, like a surreal fairground or railway station music: you couldn't separate out the strands of music be

DOWN TO the mairie for a Sunday morning meeting of the CEPDOL, an acronym so convoluted that all I can tell you about it is that the C stands for Comité. It's the village amenities committee. Nowhere else in the world would su