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Does French wine pair well with space?

A dozen bottles of fine French wine sent to space to age for one year

A European start-up sent a dozen bottles of Bordeaux to the International Space Station to find out.  The wine was sent up from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia last month. It will remain at the space station for a year to age.

Universities in Bordeaux, France and Bavaria, Germany, are working with Luxembourg-based startup Space Cargo Unlimited to conduct the experiment.  In a video published on Space Cargo Unlimited’s website, Michael Lebert, a professor of biology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and scientific director of the experiment, explained that wine is an ideal product to study in space.

Researchers will examine how decreased gravity and space radiation affect the wine’s aging. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.  In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 photo provided by Space Cargo Unlimited, researchers with Space Cargo Unlimited prepare bottles of French red wine to be flown aboard a Northrop Grumman capsule from Wallops Island, Va., to the International Space Station.

The wine will age for a year up there before returning to the Luxembourg company. AP The space-aged wine will be compared with wine aged on Earth. A company spokeswoman said the remaining wine will be given to benefactors of the experiment. The bottles, along with an oven and material for baking chocolate chip cookies, barley for an experiment with Budweiser and carbon fibre for Lamborghini sports cars, travelled in a Northrop Grumman capsule as part of a cargo delivery.

Each bottle of wine was packaged in a metal canister to prevent it from shattering. This isn’t the first time alcohol has been sent to space for research. Japanese whiskey company Suntory sent up samples in 2015 for aging.

First published on


A reason to put Valençay on your bucket list for next year


Cultivated and highly intelligent, the Prince de Talleyrand was a very gifted and versatile man. Well known for his involvement in events that occurred in France from the revolutionary period to the reign of Louis-Philippe, he was also a great active and influential lord in his domain of Valençay.

Born to a poor aristocratic family, Charles-Maurice had been interested in financial issues since he was a young boy. Through visits with entrepreneurs and bankers, his position as agent-general of the clergy and his work with Minister Calonne on the disastrous finances of the State, he became a great businessman who never hesitated to invest in companies or take a chance on real estate. Foreign Minister under several regimes, he coordinated negotiations to benefit both parties, practicing the “art of diplomacy” that we might call today the “art of bribing”.

His self-made fortune allowed him to live lavishly. And also acquire, embellish and maintain an area as important as that of Valençay.

At the request of Emperor Napoleon, Talleyrand built a theatre, inaugurated on 30 March 1810, to entertain the princes of Spain in assigned residence in Valençay. It hosted many performances. The music was provided by Jan-Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812), a famous Czech composer and great European artist.

In this theatre unique in the Loire Valley, sets and backdrops were also preserved.

The Talleyrand Festival is held here every two years.

Acquired in 1803, at the request and with the financial assistance of Napoleon Bonaparte, and based on what Dorothea of Courland will eventually bring later on, the area of 12,000 hectares then included the châteaux of Valençay, Luçay and Veuil.

Talleyrand seldom visited his domain after he acquired it because the Emperor monopolized his time and brought him along on his European expeditions. Nevertheless, he continued to renovate it and eventually built servants’ quarters and rearranged the gardens, park and vegetable patch. In turbulent times during the Peninsular War, which he openly disapproved after encouraging it, he returned home, still by order of the Emperor, to host the princes of Spain, as a prison guard! As part of his job, he made strict regulations that required perfect knowledge of proper etiquette. He cared about their comfort and entertainment, throughout their six years of captivity, even though he was often absent and had no affinity with them. Yet it was for them, and on the suggestion of Napoleon, that he built the theatre that can be visited today.

Although Charles-Maurice’s ability to anticipate most likely saved his life and allowed him to pursue a long and brilliant diplomatic career that eventually made him famous, he was unable to convince the leaders of his time. In addition to his ability to adapt to the alternating regimes, he always tried to express his own personal political thought. Hostile towards absolutism, censorship, regulations that hindered the development of France and war, his ideas were rooted in the philosophy of the Enlightenment. These ideas carried the excitement from previous decades before the Revolution (in 1789, when he was 35 years old) in all directions and influenced his youth and training.

Cultural, intellectual, economic, administrative and scientific enthusiasm, while for the first time, the French population rose from 22 million under the reign of Louis XIV to 28.5 million under the reign of Louis XVI.

Curious about everything, Talleyrand was an 18th century type of liberal, in that he defended the freedom to learn, think, speak, trade and seek the best life possible. This “art of living” before the French Revolution that he searched for his entire life required a significant amount of wealth.

A key player in the history of France and Europe, Talleyrand will forever be a fascinating controversial figure. So much for his great diplomatic skills as for his amazing ability to adjust to different regimes that occupied the political scene of his time.

Distancing himself from those in power as soon as he thought the worst hit, he willingly supported the monarchy, Revolution, Directory, Consultate, the first Restoration and the July Monarchy. This man also had a wonderful sense of humor, for he once said: “I have not abandoned any government before it abandoned itself.”


A good reason to visit Nîmes in May

On Friday 1st, Saturday 2, and Sunday 3 May, 500 re-enactors from France, Italy, Croatia, and Germany converge on the Amphitheatre of Nîmes, an exceptional venue, to participate in the Great Roman Games, a unique event that has become the biggest historical re-enactment of ancient history in Europe, in the finest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world.

Over the three-day period, the re-enactment in the Amphitheatre will bring to life the legendary ludi (this is latin and not French for the ‘public games’) as the inhabitants of Nîmes would have experienced them 2,000 years ago: the imperial court, a procession of Roman legionnaires, chariot racing, and gladiatorial combats. This year they are focusing on Caesar and the conquest of Rome. 

Based on extensive scientific and historical research, the re-enactors make their battledress with materials similar to those used in antiquity. Archaeology enthusiasts, they work closely with historians. In the Amphitheatre, the gladiators, Roman legionnaires, and Celtic fighters’ combat techniques and battledress are as historically accurate as possible. Nimes 1-3 May 2020 The Great Roman Games Caesar, the Conquest of Rome



Getting the accent right !


By Nick da Costa

Just doing a trawl through car websites and found this gem on Citroen’s. Call me pedantic, but if a French company can’t get the accent right on ‘premiere’, what hope is there? You have to believe the odd French Citroen exec might have glanced at the Brit website, but plainly not. Or maybe he or she spotted it and just gave a Gallic shrug of the shoulders (“They’re leaving, who cares?”).

Further proof that real copywriting died quite some time ago is also provided by Peugeot: “With its fluid and robust lines the all-new PEUGEOT 2008 SUV delivers masterful power and efficiency.” Plainly they will shortly be taken to some kind of Gender tribunal for ‘masterful’. That said, I’m not sure ‘mistressful’ quite does it either.

Just to continue the French-bashing, Renault offend with “Sporting an (sic) refreshed aggressive front grille, strong silhouette and sculpted lights, the KADJAR is designed for freedom, the likes (sic) of which you’ve never experienced before.” (Mis-spelling theirs, not mine). Not entirely sure how a strong silhouette, aggressive front grill and sculpted lines could possible contribute to my freedom in any way. And seriously, when at a dinner party and the talk gets round to cars, how could anyone with an ounce of self-worth or complete absence of irony pipe up with ‘I drive a Kadjar’?

To even-out the nations a bit, Hyundai super-annoy with “Born confident: You want a car that’s as confident as you are, that challenges the status quo, leads the pack and refuses to follow.” Seriously, is there anyone – anyone on the planet – who responds to this kind of drivel? I recall with nostalgia classic lines written by real copywriters, such as this headline for a BMW ad eons ago: “First we paint the car. Then we paint the paint.”


A family Christmas for 15 in A Landmark Trust Property

Experience the Tudor life

This is a medieval and Tudor house of the highest status. The outstanding joinery of its arch-braced and moulded ceilings and screens is of a quality to rival the more famous Cotehele. Wortham Manor was built and then remodelled by a junior branch of the great Devon family of Dinham, but little altered since.

The great hall and magnificent chamber above it are probably the work of John Dinham, constructed soon after 1500. Dinham was the cousin of Dame Thomasine of Week St Mary and oversaw the building work at The College, also in Landmark’s care. Like Dame Thomasine, John Dinham had lived and prospered in London. In 1533, when an old man, he was pressed to take a knighthood, but declined.

The perfect setting for a large gathering

Wortham Manor sits in rolling, rural surroundings and has its own large grounds. The great hall with its open fire is a perfect setting for large gatherings. A large farmhouse-style kitchen awaits for breakfast or coffee time. The rambling, atmospheric bedrooms and landings also swallow large parties with ease.

‘By the time the last of our guests arrived, the mood in the flagstoned kitchen was cautiously upbeat as we extracted a 24lb rib of beef from the industrial oven and presented it on the long table in the Great Hall.’


All of our buildings have comfortable furniture, a well-equipped kitchen, modern bathrooms and good quality bath and bed linen. All beds are made up ready for your arrival with sheets and blankets and several buildings have duvets. Most Landmarks have at least one open fire or stove.  They are quite different from the mainstream – none of our buildings have televisions, radios, telephones or Wi-Fi.

A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap per basin but no other toiletries. Being self-catering, you will need to bring food and, if there is an open fire, you may need to bring kindling, logs and fire-lighters. Here are other things you might consider.

Our interiors have a style that is all their own. Usually favouring traditional furniture, with paintings and engravings relevant to each place, we try both to provide comfort and to emphasise the building’s historic character. We take care in selecting every bed and bookcase, lamp and latch, and you will find no modern mass produced furniture in our buildings.

An extensively researched History Album, written for each Landmark, explores the story of that building and its rescue. Each Landmark also has a library of books selected to illuminate aspects of the building or locality, rather as you might find in the house of a well-read friend.

Time spent with family and friends

To stay in one of our buildings is, our visitors tell us, to step away from the drone of modern life. Our Logbooks reveal some of the ways people spend their time: walking, cooking, playing cards, laying fires, painting, reading, watching the stars, writing, entertaining and simply thinking. Most of all they speak of the special atmosphere of a Landmark Trust building and of the preciousness of the time spent there with friends and family.



Hotels, healthcare and hunchbacks

Star studded hotels 

If the future of real estate is about offering great experiences to those that use it, then the hotels sector, the home of experience and hospitality, should surely be at the cutting edge of industry innovations. There are two very different examples of this, which I’ve found this month.

The first located in Hamburg is the proposed conversion of a Nazi-era bunker into a 136-bed hotel. The almost indestructible concrete structure, intended to provide shelter for up to 1,000 people in the event of an air raid, will presumably guarantee a good night’s sleep; The brutal building will be greened, and topped with a tiered roof terrace and bar.

Not impressed? Then how about Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel being developed in Orlando. Disney has increasingly delivered hotel experiences that bleed into the content of its theme park, including for instance an animal safari lodge complete with African wildlife and a Polynesian resort, with beach and Tiki huts.

The Starcruiser hotel is expected to lift the bar, in an experience that will incorporate technology from its parks such as floating holograms, a visit to the planet of Batuu (as part of a multi-day cruise experience) and views into ‘space’ from every hotel room.

This might not be the best hotel for business travellers (but then again, why not?), but as the level of immersion and customer service around all real estate assets increases, one should expect hotels to continue to push the boundaries and this feels like a great example. #hospitality #hotels


Population redistribution 

On a global stage, urbanisation has been one of the defining trends of the past decades. The economic gulf between gateway cities on the one hand and smaller towns and the countryside on the other has been steadily growing. However, cities across the world are becoming victims of their own success. The gravitation of populations towards urban centres has in most cases not been matched by equivalent expenditure in infrastructure, leaving them stretched.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the thinning out of rural areas creates different problems, with concentrations of poorer and less mobile populations developing. A report by Forbes this week, which analyses new data from the US National Institute for Healthcare Management finds that those living in rural areas are older, have higher rates of obesity and are more likely to live below the poverty line.

However, per capita, there are fewer healthcare practitioners and fewer hospitals in these areas in spite of the elevated need. Meanwhile, in Australia, the government announced this week that it is redistributing the number of skilled visas in favour of those willing to live in the country’s regions rather than its three big cities (where the population is growing at double the rate).

The potential for a reversal of the urbanisation trend in mature economies feels eminently possible, whether by choice (e.g. in London and New York, where the trend is to outward migration to secure better standards of living) or through intervention (as in the case of Australia). #population #infrastructure

Richard Pickering is Chief Strategy Officer UK at Cushman & Wakefield

For the expectant mothers . . .


The essential things to do and not to be forgotten after giving birth in France

Obviously, after our baby is born, your life will change completely and just before you can start enjoying being a parent and spending time with your little baby, there are so many important things you need to know and do as soon as possible after your baby is born. Let me try to present the list of those essential things and help you out to get organised after the arrival of your baby. Let me present you with my comprehensiveChecklist of things to do in France after the baby is born.

Declare the birth of your baby. You have 3 days after delivery to declare the baby’s birth at the local marie. The birth certificate is written immediately by an official known as the officier d’état civil. A child whose birth is not registered could find it difficult to access health or education services, and its parents risk a prison sentence of six months and a fine of €3,750. Whoever registers the birth will need the certificate issued by the doctor or midwife, a declaration of name choice (if they’ve made this), proof of the act of recognition (if it was made before the birth in France or if the parents are unmarried), and parents’ identity cards or passports. Registration is free for any birth in France. You can also request a copy of the birth certificate online through the French public service website. It is recommended that non-French citizens also register their baby’s birth at their home consulate after giving birth in France. You also need to declare the birth to the Securité Sociale on Go to “Mes Démarches” then “Déclarer la naissance de mon enfant.

Organise the help after childbirth. In some situations, some mothers may also be provided with home help after giving birth in France, usually in cases of medical, social or financial difficulties. To apply for further assistance, you should visit the following websites: Social Action Community Centre (CCAS) or Services of Child Social Assistance (ASE). On top of that, each women who came back home within 5 days after the give birth, are entitiled to the visits of sage femme who will help her out. It also works much easier than it sounds. If you have already got your individual sage femme, she will follow up with you once yougave a birth. You just need to give her a call and invite to your place. Otherwise, your hospital of delivery will assist you in this. When you leave the hospital, they will give you the telephone number of the sagefemme  on your area. She’ll be an invaluable resource, you can turn to her with any questions or concerns.

Get excited about the financial help after childbirth. The French government came up with the PAJE (Prestations d’accueil de jeune enfant) which is essentially a set of benefits that simplifies the lives of new parents in France by helping with the cost of a new child in the family. Theprime à la naissance is a means-tested allowance paid at birth, which is €941.67. It is meant to be used to cover the expenses related to the birth (or adoption) of a child. In order to receive it, you cannot earn more than certain  amounts. For example, if you are living in a couple and have just one child, you will only receive the prime à la naissance if you earn less than €41,425. Don’t forget that if you have a mutuelle, it often pays out a lump sum when your child is born. You’ll need to contact them to find out the details. More information on childcare benefits in France is available on the family allowance office’s website.

Try to understand and follow the postnatal care in France. Caisse d’assurance maladie entitles the mother to a postnatal examination within 8 weeks of giving birth and, if needed, sessions with a physiotherapist. For the baby, you will be issued with a health record booklet (carnet de naissance de l’enfant) by your doctor. From then onwards, every time you take your child to the doctors you must take the booklet so that a medical record can be kept for your child. Mother and baby can also take advantage of Protection Maternelle et Infantile (PMI) at local clinics. The staff can provide postnatal checks, offer health and nutritional advice and even perform vaccinations. The services are usually covered by the State. After childbirth, there are many compulsory medical examinations of children carried out on a regular basis. The first is within eight days of giving birth in France, another is held in the ninth or 10th month and finally during the 24th or 25th month.

 Don’t miss any vaccines for children when in France. Children growing up in France are administered  11 mandatory vaccines, as of 2018. The first 10 injections should be performed over a period of two years. Schools and recreation centers have been tasked to monitor that. Interesting fact: If a child is not up to date with his or her vaccinations, they will be denied entry to community centers – although schools and nurseries will be able to admit them on a provisional basis for three months, while the vaccines are administered. In case of persistent refusal, the head teacher is entitled to exclude the child.

Get registered at the nurseries or find the assistant maternel in France. You are probably already a bit late…It is recommended to pre-register with nurseries when you are in her second or third trimester. This involves contacting several nurseries and forwarding a registration form – so start well in advance of having a baby in France. However, registration can cover 4 nurseries at once. Nurseries will typically ask for the birth certificate (after the child is born) and may also request additional documentation. It is advisable to make a decision and register with a nursery before giving birth in France as there can sometimes be long wait times for free spaces.

Decide on breastfeeding or not. breastfeeds her babies for only about 17 weeks, according to a 2015 study of 18,000 mothers. This is partly due to a lack of education about breastfeeding. In recent years, several groups have been formed to help new moms, providing help and support as needed. Some associations are: La Leche League, Solidarilait, The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, Information For Breastfeeding.

Interesting fact: There are also lactariums that collect, store and redistribute breast milk for babies who need it. They are supplied principally by donations. Another interesting fact: pharmacies let you hire the pums with a prescription from your doctor. Social security will cover the cost for an entire year.

Not one but more nationalities. new born baby. Usually, it will require the translation of the original birth certificate and handle it to the appropriate service in a chosen country. You need to check with the embassy for details as I guess it will vary in terms of requirements and deadlines.

BONUS: Non-residents, tourists and visitors giving birth in France

Tourists and visitors on holiday in France are required to have medical insurance covering any health eventuality. If you’re pregnant and think there’s a chance you may need to deliver while on holiday, check with your insurer to see if you’re covered. European citizens who are having a baby in France while on holiday can benefit from the reciprocal privileges provided by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Uff, quite a long list and if you imagine, this is just the essential things you need to do once the baby is born in France. Obviously, there are many more. But let this not spoil the joy of being finally with your little one…enjoy every moment of it. Apparently, they grow so quickly!

About AGA – jadorelyon I am a Polish girl who felt in love with Lyon from the first sight! Jadorelyon is my way of exploring France, the French way of life, their cuisine, sharing the experience from visiting beautiful places in France. Jadorelyon is my new way of adding some Polish influence into French lives and watching on how they like it… Follow jadorelyon on Facebook Twitter Google Plus

Christmas with Whitman, Malcolm, Pippa, Anton, Butch and Obi

By Nick da Costa

The Dogs were talking. As usual, they were sitting around the base of the old

oak tree in the early evening.

“Christmas soon,” said Malcolm.

“I love Christmas,” said Pippa.

“Roast Turkey,” said Anton.

“Chipolatas,” said Butch.

“Foie gras,” said Obi, whose Owners had made the mistake of introducing him to the finer things.

“Goose,” said Malcolm.

The group fell silent as they contemplated all the spiritual wonders of Christmas.

“One year, my Owners hung chocolates on the Christmas tree,” said Anton.

“That was thoughtful,” replied Butch.

“Yes, I thought so, too. Only it turned out they weren’t for me.”

“Ah,” said Whitman.

“Mind you,” Anton continued, “I’d cleared most of the lower branches before they noticed.”

“Were they very cross?” Pippa asked.

“A bit. But it was Christmas, so it wasn’t too bad.”

“Lucky,” said Butch.

“In fact, I thought I’d got away with it…”

“You did?” said Pippa

“…but the empty wrappers gave me away.”

“Ah,” said Whitman again.

“So the next year,” Anton continued, “they just hung them higher up the tree.”

“That’s exactly how Giraffes came to evolve their long necks,” said Whitman, “to reach the sweeter, juicier leaves at the top of the tree.”

“Do you think we could evolve longer necks?” Anton asked.

“Not in time for this Christmas, I suspect,” said Whitman.

What Dogs Really Talk About – available at all good bookshops . . . but it’s easier from Amazon – CLIK HERE ! and a great stocking filer for dog lovers everywhere.

What do the French do at Christmas ?

Like in the UK ,on 1 December children open their first ‘window in their Advent calendar.

In the evening of December 24th French families sit down together for ‘Le Réveillon’ to celebrate Christmas and enjoy festive French foods and wines. This can last for up to six hours.

A church mass is held on Christmas Eve. It is an important Christmas tradition in France and many people try to attend the mass, although there are also services on Christmas Day.

Traditional French food is a big part of French Christmas traditions. It depends on the region but some common French Christmas foods include smoked salmon and oysters with bran bread and (real) butter, foiegras (goose or duck liverpate), goose, capon or turkey stuffed with chestnuts and of course servings of vegetables such as green beans cooked with garlic and butter and provincial herbs sautéed potatoes.

To finish the feast you will get the amazing looking and tasting a Yule Log, the ‘La bûche de Noël ‘ which is a sponge cake made of chocolate and chestnuts. In Provençe the French Christmas tradition is very different. It’s ‘Les Treize ‘ which is 13 desserts after the main Christmas feast.  In France they are important as they symbolise Christ and the 12 apostles at the Last Supper.

During Christmas dinner a very good wine is required and Champagne is imperative.

It’s common to decorate the Christmas table with three candlesticks to represent the holy Trinity. A Christmas tradition to knot the ends of the tablecloth so the Devil can’t get under the table.

Like the UK a Christmas tree is decorated some time before Christmas Day. French children put their shoes near the fireplace so that Father Christmas ‘Père Noël’ can find them and fill them with small presents. Then typically everyone open their presents on the morning of Christmas Day.

Here it’s worth mentioning Le Père Fouettard or ‘Father Spanker’ who is the partner and helper of Saint Nicolas. He decides if each kid behaved good or bad. He is the one who does the ‘spanking’ to bad behaving children. Frightening.

Mistletoe is popular in French Christmas traditions and used as an important decorative item. People hang it above the door during the Christmas season, where it is supposed to bring good luck for the coming year 

Then there are Santons de Noël These are the nativity scenes or crèches displayed in many French homes. There are little clay figures called santons or little saints in the crèche, which you can buy from Christmas markets. Very often villages will transom their Lavoir into a stable with cut-out figures. The baby Jesus only appears on Christmas day – until then the crib will be empty

 And then on 6th January, the 12th night – a day to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings. Some places in France perform a street procession of the Three Kings for children to watch. The ‘king’s cake’ celebrates Epiphany in France. There are three versions of this cake and the most popular consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a center of frangipane or apple. There is also a sablé galette which has a type of sweetcrust pastry and brioche cake with candied fruits and sugar. The cakes are usually sold in special bags with the paper crown for the ‘king’ who finds the fève – a small figure/bean hidden in their piece of cake.

Traditionally, it is always the youngest in the family who distributes the pieces of cake hiding below the table and shouting the name of the person who should get each piece.

 French people wish each other Joyeux Noël or Bonnes Fêtes.

BUT PLEASE TAKE NOTE – It’s important never to wish anyone a Bonne Année (Happy New Year) before midnight on New Year’s Eve as this brings bad luck.


Tip Number 16. A tastier Christmas Cake

You’ve probably organised your Christmas Cake for this year – so take heed of these instructions for preserving the taste of your effort(s)

Cut from the centre in slices like in the diagram above. Don’t do the cheese slices from the outside. When you put it away till the next day clamp the two sides together with elastic or cling film. It really makes sense and it really does work.