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Archive for the ‘A – Z of France’ Category

Beaujolais is more than just a wine. It is a beautiful area full of architectural delights, rolling hills and vineyards and is within easy driving distance of Lyon.

Image from Wikipedia

Often mocked for its inferior quality wine, the Beaujolais is a beautiful region and does actually have some perfectly nice drinking wines.

Did you know that white Beaujolais wines can sometimes qualify for the renowned Burgundy appellation? Some of the white wines are that good that people will happily drink them believing them to be Burgundy when in fact they are just good old Beaujolais!

Aside from the wine, what I love most about the Beaujolais is the community spirit and the scenery.

Old houses are often built from a remarkable golden stone and when the sun catches the stone it actually looks as if they are made from gold. Property is quite expensive there due to its proximity to Lyon which is a shame as it means that it is an area that many tourists or foreign property hunters ignore.

Some of Mr Piglet’s family have lived in the Beaujolais for years and Mr Piglet even lived there himself for a while.

My first initiation with Beaujolais life was whilst celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November. We had been invited by Mr Piglet’s uncle who is a part time winemaker for the unveiling of his Beaujolais Nouveau. Mr Piglet didn’t give me any forewarning that the wine tasting would turn into an all night party!

The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!

After tasting his wine, we were carted off to the neighbours to taste their wine and so it went on. On foot we trekked from house to house and Mr Piglet was running wild buying bottles and bottles of all different wines wherever we went promising to stop by the next day to collect. I realized that Mr Piglet who was supposed to be driving was definitely over the limit so begged his Aunt to let us stay the night.

Worse for wear...

What I liked most about it was that it wasn’t youngsters running amok whilst drunk like you would expect in the UK maybe. The atmosphere was jovial and youngsters, families and the old of age were all mixing together, socializing and enjoying some good old plonk, saucisson soaked in wine and various other specialties.

Party in the cellar

All in all the Beaujolais has a lot to offer and is definitely worth checking out. Maybe I’ll chose to share some of my other stories about time spent there soon…

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This is France as I see it… It’s not meant to be an official guide and it’s only my opinion on some of the things that make France “France” for me.

A is for Assurance Maladie

Assurance Maladie literally means illness insurance and is essential here.

France has an excellent healthcare cover so long as you are employed, retired, on benefits or contribute as a self employed person. I’m sure there are some exceptions to that like for housewives etc but knowing France maybe they’re not covered?

As an employee or self employed person you contribute heavily into the black hole which is the “secu”. Why a black hole? Well, the healthcare system has tremendous debt and on top of your contributions anyone earning income from assets also pays a further tax to help remedy the black hole. Eversince I have lived in France the black hole has existed and somehow it just keeps getting bigger.

Maybe one of the reasons is the huge number of pills the French pop for the slightest ailment. Go to the Doctors with a common cold and you’ll come out with a prescription a page long for various medicines (probably including parecetmol, saline water etc). Most of these remedies will be paid for by the state medical cover, the majority will be reimbursed to you at 70%. Cost for a cold? 23 Euros for a Doctors appointment plus at least 15 Euros in medication!

I’m digressing. Despite the unfortunate circumstances that occurred around the birth of Baby Piglet, I do appreciate the French healthcare system. You have access to top Doctors as soon as you can convince the secretary to give you an appointment and emergency care is excellent (depending on where you go obviously).

When I had uveitis at the end of 2011, the total bill for my medical care came in at over 6000 Euros. This didn’t include the taxi I took every day to and from the hospital (100 Euros each way) or the laser eye surgery I had afterwards (not sure how much that cost). Thankfully because my illness is recognised by the state as being a long term affection I didn’t have to pay a penny. Not even for the taxi.

Suddenly all those heavy contributions seem well worth it. I cannot think of a better country in which to be ill, so long as you have cover of course. I am grateful for the French medical system and in awe that it’s still running as it is despite the incredible waste of funds.

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