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Thursday, December 17, 2009

District heating system in Catus, France

The village of Catus where I live (pop. about 1000) decided to go ahead with the installation of a district heating system about a year ago. Basically a regional/district heating system consists of a central boiler house and a network of insulated pipes to circulate hot water to buildings in the district. Within a building a heat exchanger transfers the heat to the internal domestic supply - either the water supply for radiators only or for both radiators and domestic hot water.

A network of insulated pipes is being laid in the village(see picture) and the building of the centralised district boiler house(pictured) is also well underway. The system is projected to be operational from October 2010 and will supply all public buildings - the school, medical centre, town hall, and so on - and many householders.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reorganisation of regional and local government in France

France currently consists of over 35,000 communes, 4,000 cantons, 100 departments and 22 regions. In an attempt to rationalise this wide array of regional and local government and cut expenditure President Sarkosy at the end of 2008 appointed an ex-Prime Minister Eduoard Balladur to head a commission to look into the matter. This commission reported early in 2009. For some background on this issue see the BBC Report and the Irish Times report. See also page 7 of The French State and its territorial challenges by Alistair Cole. This article as a whole gives a very good overview of regional and local government in France.

Most of the Balladur proposals for reorganisation at the regional and departmental levels have been scrapped or put on hold (see the above reports). However, at the communal and inter-communal levels a series of meetings have been held over the past few months to examine the rationalisation of Communités des Communes or inter-communal public corporations (EPCIs). On 20 November a public meeting in the commune of Catus, where I live, gave details of the fusion of the Communités des Communes de Catus (a grouping of 17 communes) and of the Pays de Cahors to create a larger Communauté de Communes du Grand Cahors. Some of the arguments put forward in favour of this fusion are that it will make for a better use of skills and of material resources (e.g. transport, sports facitities, etc.) without an increase in local taxation. This new larger grouping of communes is due to take effect as from the beginning of 2010. For more background (in French) on this particluar fusion see articles from La Depeche, a regional newspaper.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Catus Cricket - a very English game in France!

The Catus Cricket Club was established in 2007 from an existing club, the Montclera Cazals Cricketers (set up in 2004). The Catus town council granted the club the use of an excellent field by the Lac Vert sports and leisure area about 1km from Catus.

The field now has a well-established pitch with two practice nets thanks to a loan and grants from the Council.
Most weekends during the summer one can see a match going on with many locals stopping by to see this very English game being played. The Club has even managed to recruit a few French to their ranks. For more information go to the Catus Cricket Club website.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An autumn dinner and folk music

On Sunday 29 November the Association de Sauvegarde des Monuments et Sites de Catus (ASMSC) held its annual autumn lunch in the village hall in Catus, France. In addition to being a cultural awareness association the ASMSC holds events during the year to raise money for various restoration projects in and around the village. The autumn lunch is one such event for raising funds.

The lunch this year had as its main course cassoulet - a local dish of southern France whose main ingredients are duck, sausage and beans (picture). After a truly magnificent meal prepared by the ladies of the ASMSC we were entertained by a local folk group to some traditional music and dances.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A visit to an old Phosphate Mine

A couple of weeks ago some 20 members of our local rambling group, Les Chemins Verts, went on a day out to visit an old disused Phosphate Mine, the Phosphatières du Cloup d'Aural near Bach, about 20kms from Cahors in the Lot, France.

A number of crevices where the mining used to take place until around the turn of the 20th century are now covered with vegetation, including a variety of species of fern. Our guide took us down into caverns where one can view the remains of prehistoric animals and the walk around the thematic park was most enjoyable and instructional. There are panels illustrating the region's prehistory and the current flora and fauna of the area - a great educational experience for young and old.

There is a good picnic area at the Phosphatières, but it being autumn we had arranged to have lunch at the local auberge in Bach. After a lovely traditional meal it was time to do some more walking! Bach is known locally as an area of wells - we came across one called the puit anglais and a couple of large Roman wells on the outskirts of the village. The walk took us to an unusual lavoir (washing place) locally referred to as the lavoir papillon because of the way the washing stones had been installed.

What a lovely day out in the crisp autumn weather! If you visit this part of the Lot a day out to the Phosphatières du Cloup d'Aural and a stroll around the village of Bach is highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My first blog

I've just joined blogger. The purpose of creating this blogger is to provide news and information and comment on living, tourism, events, happenings, etc. in the Lot dèpartment of south-west France.

My wife and I live in the medieval village of Catus, which is located 15 kms from Cahors, the provincial capital of the Lot. Here we run a gite (self-catering holiday home) - for more information have a look at the Chez Ming Gite website.

NOTE: At the end of this video move your cursor over the video icon of the gite(second from left) and click to view it.

If you'd like to be a contributing author (i.e. write your own blog) on the Chez Ming Blogger rather than just comment on an existing blog please see the bottom of this page.