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Something’s just don’t get much better than this!Ferdinand and Giggs hold the European Cup!

Watching Manchester United win the 2008 European Cup in one of the most beautiful locations in France, along with good friends to enjoy the brilliance of the game whilst eating wholesome French food in the great atmosphere of a ‘mock-up’ Irish pub in Vieux Annecy, was fantastic!

Of course, coping with the high tension on the field was mind-blowing, but helped by the consumption of copious pichets of red wine,(with apologies and commiserations to Chelsea, and their fans) highly appropriate when supporting the ‘Reds’!

United’s triumph comes acceptably enough following a very successful season, and as an incredible celebration and achievement to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Munich air disaster, honouring those players of the past. Bobby Charlton was in his element afterwards, and thoroughly deserved this remarkable experience.

Victory was also a milestone for Ryan Giggs who came on to replace Scholes in the closing minutes to surpass Bobby Charlton’s appearance record for the club, as well as scoring a very important penalty in the shoot-out.

So there we have it, Manchester United become European Champions for the third time in their history.

Yes, I know it really all happened in Moscow, but not for me and my friends, Clare and Dale, who I met up with in Annecy for the magical experience. They were enjoying a weeks holiday in Annecy, so I drove over from the Roannais (no more than 2½ hours easy drive down the French auto-route).Annecy

Voila! I am here!

I’ve visited Annecy twice before with my wife, Lucy, and family. It is a superb place.

Picturesque, with incredible, beautiful views of the lake. The old medieval town (Vieux Annecy) has a great  atmosphere, and is obviously a magnet for tourists. But Annecy has style, it is known as the Venice of the Alpes due to its canals which run through the old town, and adds to its romantic ambience.Annecy

It has a cosmopolitan ‘feel’, too, along with contemporary shops, and a highly developed, and growing, business centre.

As you may expect, property in Annecy is expensive (akin to Geneva, only 22 miles away).

It is to be expected, particularly with property in the old quarter, and around the lake’s edge.

Annecy is a city in the Rhone-Alpes region of east central France, on the shores of Lake Annecy. A municipality in the Haute-Savoie département.Annecy Port

Visit the website of ‘Wikipedia’ for more details of Annecy’s history, geography, economy, and culture.

There is certainly much to see in the way of historical buildings, museums, archeaology, and art.

In fact, an unusual learning experience awaits you at three national heritage sites.View of Musée-Chateau, Annecy

At the Chateau, former residence of the Counts of Geneva (until 1394), and which became a museum in 1957, be amazed by the diverse collections, including a rich collection of contemporary art.

Every year Annecy is host to the ‘International Animated Film Festival’.

Just a stone’s throw from the chateau, at Citia exposition, delve into the magic of singular collections related to animated film, where marionettes, mock-ups, celluloid and story-boards bear witness to 100 years of history and creation in the art of moving images.Palais de l'lle, Annecy

At the Palais de l’ille, a medieval fortress/residence -turned prison erected like a battle ship on the ile du Thiou, release the moorings and set sail for an emotional discovery of the metropolitan area of Annecy, between lake and mountain, between town and country.

Alternatively, particularly after your visits of culture, just chill out with a glass of cool beer or wine in the many bars and cafes along the canal side, or take a picnic to the lakeside park and have a shady sieste beneath the trees.Lake Annecy

Or, like us, hire a motor boat for an hour and go for a ride up the lake in the sunshine, with the cool breeze in your face, and the fresh mountain air energising your senses.

It’s a must!!

Dale and Clare having fun on Lake Annecy!Yes, of course, there is plenty more to do and see than I have just outlined above, so go and visit.



A bit of news relating to ecology and property build here in France!

We've been tracking the growing interest in all things ecological regarding house-building in France.
A recent article in 'The Connexion' newspaper ( aimed at expats, and people wanting to live or holiday in France – we have a link to their website on our home page), has highlighted the increasing number of wood houses being built across France. Sales are up 50% since 2000.
Apparently, following last year's government's 'Grenelle de l'environnement' wooden houses' ability to reduce energy consumption has seen architects and builders take an even greater interest in the idea.
The article in The Connexion goes on to say that benefits to the home owner include an average 30% saving on electricity bills due to the natural insulation properties of wood.
The buildings are also seen as blending better into a natural landscape and can be combined with building materials such as steel, glass and stone.
In 2006 these houses represented just 4% of the market.
Now 20% of manufacturers say they would consider using wood for construction. The homes cost 15-30% more compared to properties made with concrete and traditional building materials, because most of the wood is imported.
Italian architect Antonino Cascio has built a five-bedroom wooden house (images featured), with a south-facing glass front, in a forest in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes.
Wooden House in Saint-Paul-de-Vence
The glass front looks over a wooded landscape and swimming pool.
A wooden platform was built in front of the house which left the roots of surrounding trees intact and was built around any large trees growing up through the terrace.
Mr Cascio's wife Renèe said: "We did not want to use concrete as this would have cut into the tree roots.
With the trees growing through the terrace, it feels a bit like living in a nest."
The northern wall of the house which receives less sun, is built from wood panelling, with very small windows.
Main façade overlooking swimming pool
The wood used for the exterior framework, interior wooden staircase and parquet floor is imported from Africa.
The east and west façades of the house are built on a wooden frame with ochre-coloured plaster matching the red colour of the stones of the region, replacing a costly all-wood finish.
A sloping roof prevents a build-up of falling leaves.
Estelle Phillips, The Connexion, also writes that other popular wooden house models include a house in the Var which fits against a rock wall and recently won first prize at the "Salon européen du bois" (wooden home exhibition) held in Grenoble.
Another type made in Yvelines (Ile de France) mixes ideas used in the construction of Australian colonial houses and Feng Shui – the concept of a feeling of well-being created through the position of objects in the home.
Le Cuvage 
Brian and Lucy Franklin's 'Le Cuvage' home in the Roannais, Rhone-Alpes also pays passing homage to wood-built property.
This former wine-making barn has been carefully renovated, restored, and architecturally designed with the overall intention of keeping many of its redeeming ecological features.
The south-facing facade being fundamentally retained from theLe Cuvage original building, apart from the obvious introduction of new window and door openings.
The ancient outer structure of the walls were built traditionally of 'pisé' ( basically a natural mud and soil compacted surface applied over rough-cut local red stone. 
The original walls being over 2 feet thick, with excellent insulation properties. the exterior pisé was sealed before a natural, pisé-coloured render was applied.Le Cuvage - south-facing with pool
They now, therefore, have rooms that are desirably cool in the hot summer months, and heartingly warming during the frequently very cold winters.
All the main wooden roof structure and wood beams were retained, and at the rear on the north-facing facade where part of the original sloping roof was cut away to create a large
10m x 45m terrace, local pine wood cladding was used in conjunction with large 10-foot, black aluminium windows to create a natural, but contemporary 'look', as well as bringing the early morning light into the vast interior spaces.Le Cuvage - north-facing façade
Their, locally famous French Architect, Daniel Faisant, ensured the whole exterior look was in keeping with the local region.
The north façade, with magnificent views over the foothills of The Beaujolais, was designed to both blend in with this countryside landscape, and provide maximum light. 
Brian Franklin said: "We get the best of both worlds here, traditional French character farm-building at the front, and a real 'taste' of modern contemporary-style living at the back!
It's absolutely great!"
He explains: " When our guests arrive during the summer period many of them cannot believe how light and spacious the place is, and how high the beamed ceilings are – over 15 feet!"
Le Cuvage - swimming pool
Le Cuvage interiorLe Cuvage interior
A photo, to be fair, like the ones featured here, cannot do 'Le Cuvage' justice',
Seeing is believing!
You can also rent 'Le Cuvage' throughout the year, so for more information visit Brian and Lucy's dedicated website to the Roannais at: