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Feb 19

UK Pancake Day celebrations and yummy recipe

Shrove Tuesday on February 25th 2020 means that across the UK there will be people practising their pancake tossing !

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday as it is more formally known, is a much loved day in the calendar as it a day to indulge yourself by eating delicious pancakes!

Of course even if you are in France on a viewing trip with one or more of the Cle France agents there is no need to miss out on your pancakes, in fact everyday is like pancake day at a French market where they is nearly always a Crepe stand serving freshly made French crepes, so another reason to buy a house in France! See how the French celebrate here.

So how did Shrove Tuesday start? Well the word ‘Shrove' comes from the old English word ‘shrive' which means to confess ones sins. The tradition of Shrove Tuesday began when Christians had to clear out their pantry before Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. Today many people give up just one thing for Lent, however hundreds of years ago all meats, eggs, milk and other rich foods were given up for 40 days to remember when Jesus went into the desert and fasted  for 40 days and 40 nights. The idea was that instead of throwing out the fats and eggs; they should be used to make pancakes as a final feast before the fasting period began.

As well as Shrove Tuesday being a day for making pancakes we must not forget it is also a day for pancake races. This tradition is thought to have began in Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1445 when a woman was making pancakes and she forgot the time. Then suddenly she heard the church bells ring to signal the start of the service and in her panic she ran out of the house and to the church still holding the frying pan with the pancake inside. Pancake races are held in villages and towns across the country, usually with several different races so that all ages can take part. The race usually requires the competitors to run a course while tossing a pancake in their frying pan; the winner is the person who crosses the line first after tossing the pancake a certain number of times.

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Our Pancakes above may be a little fancy but all Pancakes are delicious, when cooked right. If you have not tried before or struggle to make perfect pancakes, why not follow this simple recipe by Delia Smith.

Traditional Lemon & Sugar Pancake Recipe 

Makes: 12-14 pancakes

Preparation time: 30 mins

Frying pan: Good heavy one not more than 7 inches / 18 cm in diameter (inside base)


For the pancake mixture:
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
50g/2oz butter
To serve:
caster sugar
lemon juice
lemon wedges


Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets a airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs - any sort of whisk or even a fork will do - incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.

Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don't worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake. 

Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you're using the correct amount of batter. I find 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm/7in pan. It's also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it's tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife - the other side will need a few seconds only - then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.

Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.

To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra sections of lemon.

Recipe Source: Delia Smith - Complete Cookery Course Book

Blog submitted by: Alex at Cle France.

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Feb 15

Post Brexit in 2020

Brexit: No changes during transition period

Official bodies remind those living in and travelling to France that current rules relating to passports, healthcare rights, pensions and travel remain valid throughout 2020

The UK government has confirmed that current rules relating to passports, healthcare rights and state pension uprating for UK nationals moving to and living in France will remain valid throughout the transition period. Meanwhile industry body Discover Ferries has also reassured holidaymakers that there will be no changes to EU ferry travel requirements throughout 2020.

Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party secured a majority in the December general election and MPs then voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which has now been signed by the European Commission. The UK is on course to leave the European Union on Friday 31 January 2020 when it will cease to be a member state.

A transition period will then follow, lasting until at least 31 December 2020, during which nothing much will change for UK citizens and freedom of movement will continue.


In updates published on 23 January, the UK government website confirms the following for UK nationals moving to and living in France:

- The current rules on travel will remain the same until 31 December 2020, during which time you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.

- There will be no changes to your healthcare access before 31 December 2020, and you can continue to use your EHIC card as you did before during this time. If you're living in France or move there permanently before 31 December, you'll have life-long healthcare rights in France as you do now, provided you remain resident.

- If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 your UK state pension will be uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions.


Meanwhile industry body Discover Ferries has also reassured holidaymakers that there will be no changes to EU ferry travel requirements throughout 2020. Research carried out for Discover Ferries showed that there was widespread confusion about travel to EU countries after the UK leaves the EU on 31 January. Of 2,000 survey respondents, 68% expressed uncertainty about what changes will apply for travel to EU countries from 1 February, while 46% said they wanted more reassurance on travel requirements. Concerns were also raised about travelling with pets after Brexit and the validity of EHIC cards.

"I would like to reassure anyone looking to travel by ferry this year that there are no changes; all valid passports, EHIC cards and pet passports will still be authorised for travel to the EU and there will not be any new requirement for visas to Europe or passports to travel to the British Isles," says Emma Batchelor, director of Discover Ferries. Further information and FAQs can be found on the Discover Ferries website.

The transition period can be extended once by up to two years if the UK and EU jointly decide to do so before 1 July 2020. However Boris Johnson has made it clear that he will not seek to do so and has included legislation in the Brexit bill which prevents a minister from agreeing any extension to the transition period.

If you are concerned about Brexit? download our "PDF Guide to Brexit" document.

Brexit Guide Download

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Feb 11

Update on France’s online residency portal



Good afternoon, Following my message last week, I wanted to let you know that the French Interior Ministry has updated its website on how UK citizens can secure their residency rights in France. The online portal originally built to receive residency applications in the event of no deal has now closed. An updated version will be re-launched at the start of July 2020. From this date, all UK nationals currently resident in France (or who become resident before 1 January 2021) will need to apply via this online portal for a new residence permit. This will formalise your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

If you applied on the previous portal, you will not need to re-apply – your application will be processed by the appropriate Préfecture before the deadline.

So the key message today is that you should wait for the updated French online portal to go live at the beginning of July 2020 – and if you haven’t yet applied, there will be time to make an application later this year and in early 2021.

We will continue to post updates here and on our other social media channels as soon as we get any further information.

With my very best wishes,

Ed Llewellyn.

NOTE: Article taken word for word from 'British Embassy in Paris' communications.

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Feb 4

Celebrating St Valentines Day the French way

Valentine’s Day in France.

The origins of Saint Valentine’s Day are unclear. Ancient Rome celebrated the 14th February as a day of worship to the god Juno, and there are three different Saint Valentines in the Catholic Church. Tradition states that people began to notice that birds began their mating rituals half way through the second month of the year and so the 14th was designated as a day for exchanging love letters and tokens of esteem.

As you would expect from a country whose capital city is so strongly associated with romance, Valentine’s day has throughout history played a part in the love lives of the French. A former Valentine’s Day custom, which was officially banned, was that of ‘la loterie d’amour’, translated as ‘lottery of love’. Single people, both young and old, would go into their houses, (the houses all facing in on each other during this period), and call out until they were paired off with each other. However, if the gentleman was displeased with his ‘prize’ he would simply abandon her, hoping for better luck next time! Those women abandoned by their suitors would build a large bonfire and burn images of their men, cursing and abusing them as the flames burnt. However, due to fears of public disorder the government issued a decree banning the practice.

The origins of the first Valentine cards to be sent also have a French connection: the first known ‘carte d'amitié’, was believed to have been sent in 1415 by the Duke of Orleans who was imprisoned in the Tower of London following the Battle of Agincourt, to his wife.

The village of Saint Valentin, situated in the central department of Indre was traditionally a place of pilgrimage. Nowadays the village holds a number of fêtes to celebrate its association with this patron saint, where people can renew their marriage vows.

Today St Valentine's Day is celebrated in France in much the same way as in the U.K. where it is an opportunity to exchange cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts. It has a similar commercial feel also as retailers will stock up on these traditional gifts and cards, and hearts and roses will be the order of the day in shop windows and displays.

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Blog submitted by: Alex at Cle France.

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Feb 3

Who Was Saint Valentine?

Qui était saint Valentin? (Who was Saint Valentine?)

Today is a day that is both loved (and possibly loathed) around the world. However, in France, a Saint-Valentin is particularly a holiday for lovers and only means one thing, Love.

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Valentines Day has its origins in the life of the real Saint Valentine, who lived in the third-century. According to some Catholic tradition, Saint Valentine was martyred on a road to Rome in 269 AD. However, very little is known about him and stories about his life–and death–diverge. According to the French Catholic website Nominis...  

“Il était, dit-on, évêque de Terni en Italie et jouissait du renom de thaumaturge. Un miracle le fit connaître comme chrétien et le préfet de Rome fit mettre à mort celui qui avait mis ses pouvoirs de prêtre et ses talents de médecin au service des chrétiens prisonniers pour leur foi.”

(He was, it is said, the bishop of Terni in Italy who was renowned as a miracle worker. One miracle in particular made him known as a Christian and the Roman government put him to death because he had used his powers as a priest and his medical knowledge to help Christian prisoners for their faith.)

According to another story, the Roman emperor Claudius admired Saint Valentine for his talents. Claudius told his fellow Romans, “Romains… écoutez comme cet homme parle avec sagesse et droiture.” (Romans, listen to how this man speaks with wisdom and righteousness.) However, despite his earlier admiration, Claudius felt threatened by Saint Valentine after he healed one of Claudius’ soldier’s daughters, who was blind, and decapitated him in 280 AD.

Whatever the circumstances of his life and death, why is Saint Valentine commemorated on February 14 around the world? In 495, Pope Gelasius decreed that February 14 would be consecrated to Saint Valentine. We don’t know exactly why, however. According to some traditions, it’s because mid-February was believed to be the time of year, in the Middle Ages, when birds paired off.

It, thus, became associated with romantic love. How did Saint Valentine become associated with romantic love? That’s more difficult to trace. However, English author Chaucer is typically credited with popularising the holiday in the fourteenth century–over one thousand years after the real Saint Valentine lived.

Joyeuse Saint-Valentin!

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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