La Halle aux Grains – a great venue

Last Friday we had the joy of hearing a top orchestra – the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse – at the magnificent Halle aux Grains in Toulouse; with Sibelius and Richard Strauss, two of my favourites, as well. If you haven’t been to an event there, do make an effort to do so = it’s a great venue and the acoustics are surprisingly good for a building which wasn’t purpose built. There’s a designer-type hotel literally next door, Les Bains Douches, on the site of the old Toulouse public baths I believe; it’s a bit bizarre but it has some secure parking and there are plenty of good restaurants close by (and the Irish pub if you like Guinness and boisterous patrons).


Another good restaurant: L’Abricotier

Marion writes:  At “L’Abricotier” in Saint Macaire, we enjoyed an excellent three course lunch, really home-cooked too, for 23€. Very pleasant surroundings : and a quietly stylish service. The lower dining-room opens onto a pretty garden, and there is a large outside terrace for summer eating under the shade of mulberry trees. The owners-chef have been there for 30 years. Address : 3, Rue François Bergoeing (not a spelling mistake !), 33490 Saint Macaire (just off the main Langon – Cadillac road). It’s a good idea to book : 0556768363. Private car park.

A Charente Chateau to visit

Josephine and Tom Malcolm wrote to us:

We are delighted to inform clubs and associations that we are now conducting guided visits in English at the Chateau de la Mercerie.
Response from visitors so far is very enthusiastic about this Chateau which is being rescued by the hard work of the local community and a team of volunteers.
There are two guided visits every Tuesday afternoon from April to October, and larger groups are welcome by arrangement seven days a week all year round.
This Chateau is one of the few attractions in Nouvelle Aquitaine to offer guided visits in English.

Please see the leaflet for more details, and do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information.


Sainte-Mère Festival, August 2017

Our member Piers Killeen has organised another stunning festival at his château.

Sainte-Mère Festival  2017
 Booking is now open – for fabulous chamber music with some of
the finest young string players in Europe:
Saturday 19  Aug  18h00     Sainte-Mère ~ In the Château
Participation 32 €
Haydn    The Emperor Quartet   Op.76 No.3
Maconchy      Quartet  No.3
Dvorak     The American Quartet   No.12 Op.96
Concert in the Château with apéros in the gardens
Sunday  20 Aug  19h00     Sainte-Mère ~ In the Château                Participation 60 €
Dvorak     Quartet   No.8 Op.80
Britten     Quartet  No.2
Schubert   The Rosamunde Quartet   Op.29 No.1
Concert in the Château with champagne dinner in the gardens

Tuesday 22 Aug   18h00    Sainte-Mère  ~ In the church                    Participation 20 €

Mozart     The First Prussian Quartet   K575
Dvorak      Quartet  No.5 Op.9
Beethoven   Quartet  No.10 Op.74  The Harp

 With Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Emma Parker, violins, Rosalind Ventris, viola, Nathaniel Boyd, cello, of The Albion Quartet
 Booking is simple:  Just send a cheque made payable to  Sainte-Mère Festival  to:
Château de Sainte-Mère, 32700 Sainte-Mère, with a note of the tickets you would like(and an s.a.e. if you would like them mailed to you).   For lots more information see: 


Richard O’Neill

Marion writes:
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the recent death of our friend and Branch Treasurer, Richard O’Neill. He would have been seventy-five on the 2nd of October.
A founder member of OUS Southwest France, Richard rarely missed a committee meeting, and was as meticulous in the planning of events as in keeping the Branch accounts. His jocular approach to life, and to his own problems in particular, could not really mask his shrewd intelligence, courage, and concern for others.
After attending Portsmouth Grammar School, Richard went up to Oriel in 1960 where he read Physics. After a short spell as a stockbroker, he joined the family insurance firm. But his real vocation was elsewhere. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Wessex Regiment (Territorial Army) and served as a reserve officer. During a mission in the first Gulf War, an injury left him with a damaged leg which later had to be amputated. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
At one of the first events organized by the Branch (a dinner with the Chancellor), Richard met John Allsop (Christ Church 1956) who had recently taken on the work of co-ordinating the activities of the Royal British Legion in southwest France. He was looking for a Treasurer and Richard immediately accepted the job, doing the RBL’s accounts up until a fortnight before his death.
Having been injured himself, he was particularly concerned by the fate of wounded soldiers and their families, and he supported a charity « Help for Heroes » which works to relieve their moral, physical and financial difficulties. His two sons feel  he would have appreciated that any donations made in his memory should go to this charity.
Marion has emailed members on this last subject.
John Baylis, Marion Tempé, John Perry, Pip Kirby