Letters in October 2016



Many of you wrote in to us about Ronnie Smith’s article about Linguistics.

We spoke to Ronnie and asked him to tell us a bit more about how to qualify for the course. Here is his response:

I understand that a number of people have written to Languedoc Living about my piece ‘Linguistics’ last Sunday. I know that finding a way to improve our French language skills is an important issue for many British people living here and for other nationalities too.

As I wrote in the article, the course I am on is an 11 week intensive with attendance on 5 days per week, 7 hours per day. The course is provided by Pôle Emploi, for those eligible to register as unemployed and seeking work, and delivered by a regional training and H.R. company called Human Booster. In my experience, as a past director of a finance training company, this is a very professional operation and the ‘Formatrice’ is excellent. In addition, I receive 400 Euros per month and the course hours count towards my total benefit accumulation with Pôle Emploi.

However, those who are not eligible to register as unemployed, largely because they are retired, do not have access to this course. They must investigate the numerous other courses offered by private French language schools throughout the region, some good, some not so good.

Ronnie Smith

Look out for more details in the coming weeks about training options if you don’t qualify for Pôle Emploi.

Night Trains

I read with interest the news item ‘yes to night trains demonstration

There is one simple adjective that no-one wants to hear (especially SNCF) which is ‘Not fit for Purpose’ – and that is one of the reasons that the travelling public will not put up with carriages which are tired, dirty and uncomfortable.

SNCF seems to have got it into its head that the world of night trains is in the past.

This attitude is yet another part of this completely disorientated policy called ‘Offer’, no wonder that the number of passengers is constantly dropping.

SNCF is totally in love with its fleet of TGVs, but when the government ordered another 15, against the advice of SNCF, SNCF has had to accept this decision and now needs find a use for them. The good news is that they are likely to be used on the cross county services from Bordeaux to Marseilles and Nice via Toulouse, Béziers and Montpellier, thus offering us something more modern.

However back to night trains, I have come across the news in the French Railway weekly ‘La Vie du Rail’ that the Swiss Train building company Stadler who has expanded very successfully across Europe, both central and east and now in Spain and the UK, are now building new night sleeper trains. On top of this DB German railways, who have now pulled out of the market, are allowing OBB Austrian Railways and others to run these trains with newly built extra comfortable sleeping carriages.

As recorded in an earlier article RZD Russian railways are letting SNCF include two of their modern sleeping carriages run in the overnight train from Nice to Paris

Dare I say it, the minister ought to travel on one of these trains without a protective shield to Cerbère and then they might see what the problem is.

Chris Elliott

Chris currently works with the archive part of the Compagnie des Wagons-Lits ciwl who for almost 100 years ran many of the Trans-European day and night trains not to mention of course the original Orient Express.

Chris is joint author and editor of the book ‘Night Ferry 1936 – 1980 which is the story of the only overnight train that operated between Paris, Brussels and London using specially built cross channel train ferries

As well as this research he has announced his fifth book to be called ‘Adrift in Europe or similar ‘ a post brexit referendum collection of traveller’s tales based on the Don Quixote and Sancho tales of knight errantry.

Chris can be contacted at christopher.elliott@club-internet.fr or via his very basic [Chris’ words!] website www.medlocbooks.co.uk soon to be brought into the 21st century!

Pet insurance

Vets’ bills under watchdog spotlight – excellent article; however, could you post some links for pet insurance with this article? Several different companies if possible so we can know who handles this in France and how to contact them.


Would readers like to write in with good / bad experiences of pet insurance? We make a policy of not favouring one agency over another, but we are happy to publish your views.