with Madeleine McMullin

Bottles from the sea

If you fancy trying some wine that has been submerged 5m below the surface for 5 months, then get yourself to Canet on the 15th May.  About 240 bottles were left in a secret location by 8 wine makers of the “Galets Roulés” region around Perpignan, who claim that the pressure and darkness at that depth provide the perfect conditions for maturing the wine.  They will be served as part of a day organised by the vineyards, with a walk through the vines, followed by a lunch by the 3 Toques Blanches chefs in Roussillon accompanied by the wine.  There will also be music from the New Orleans Tweezers Dixye Stomp.  The day costs €40.  Anyone interested should ring 0468867200.

Four years for sexual aggression

A man who assaulted a woman in the street in Perpignan, penetrating her with his fingers, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison.  He was already known to the police for attacking a bus driver.  He said that he just wanted to talk to the woman in question and that he could no longer talk to a woman without feeling afraid.  The prosecutor asked for 3 year of prison including a year’s suspended sentence, but the court decided on 4 with no suspension and €8000 in damages.


Port Vendres point zero verified

François Arago was an astronomer, physician and politician who was born in Estagel.  He fixed the zero point from which all of the altitudes in France are measured at a place in Port Vendres.  In 1790 the constituent assembly decided to adopt a new metric system and charged Arago with fixing the new measurement for levels in France.  He was convinced that Port Vendres was the ideal place given all of the work carried out there in 1773.  The exact spot for 0m above sea level is marked by a bronze geodesic badge half way between the tide levels at the axe of the basin.  Last Saturday between the hours of 9am and 1pm surveyors from all over France were going to measure the height of the sea around the French coasts using Port Vendres as a reference.


Shots in Rivesaltes

2 men fired on a 3rd man and injured him last Thursday on a travellers’ camp in Rivesaltes.  One of the men was arrested and the other was still on the run.  The injuries of the man who was shot, in what is said to be a family dispute, were not life threatening.


Four baby leopards born at Sigean

It is very rare for leopards to be born in captivity as the females won’t let males near them except when on heat, and it is very difficult to tell when that is, but 4 balls of fluff were born on 4th May in the African Reserve in Sigean.  A video of the new borns is available HERE


Lycée Bourquin reopens after wind damage

The school reopened on Monday 9th May having been totally closed for a week after the wind dislodged some of the decorative features on the roof, causing all of the pupils to be sent home.  The roof has been made safe pending finishing work over the summer.  The students had an extra week off, but unfortunately the exam dates hadn’t changed meaning that those doing a BTS in hospitality and tourism still started their exams on Tuesday, the day after they came back to school.


Cast your vote on the future of the area that was formerly the presbytery in Perpignan

The destruction of the old presbytery next to the cathedral in Perpignan at the end of last year caused a lot of anger and debate.  The town hall has therefore decided to ask the population what they want to see in its place.  The choice is between a building of similar dimensions to the old one for holding presentations, exhibitions and conferences organised by the city’s tourist office, or a Mediterranean square.  You can vote on line HERE


Prison staff protest conditions

The Perpignan prison staff are working a go slow on Monday 9th to protest against the umpteenth attack on a guard, an overload of work due to a lack of sufficient personnel, an overcrowded establishment etc saying that they’ve had enough. 


Arguments over solar powered greenhouses

Local farmers are appealing decisions for planning permission for green houses which have solar powered panels on the roof.  There are several projects underway in the department which combine food production with solar power generation, and the farmers are saying that registering as agricultural businesses is in fact masking the real activity of generating power.  Francis Vila started the trend for these projects and has 20 hectares of greenhouses already running and 2 new projects in front of the court of appeal.  He said that it was becoming impossible to get permission to continue.  He went on that he had already harvested asparagus and was doing trials of Swiss chard and broccoli with a view to planting another 10 hectares.  He was employing 10 people and giving work to local businesses to build and maintain the greenhouses.  Some of the newer businesses to jump on the band wagon are perhaps more interested in solar power than agriculture, or at least that’s what the local farmers seem to think and also the state which is little inclined to promote or authorise production in solar powered greenhouses.  With solar power one of the rare growth industries in the department and the sector helping employment it seems a shame that they can’t reach an agreement.


Motorist admits that he invented a driver

A man who rolled his car when driving drunk on the 19th March, finally admitted to police that he had lied about not being the driver.  He had initially claimed that the driver had been catapulted out of the vehicle with the impact of the crash.  This caused a big police search in the area for the missing man.  The breathalyser test of the remaining man showed that he was way over the limit at the time of the accident.  He eventually cracked under questioning and admitted that he was the driver and had lied because he knew he was drunk.  He will appear in court charged with wasting police time and resources by causing them to organise the search, driving too fast and driving under the influence of alcohol.


Prefect quits P-O

Josaiane Chevalier stepped down yesterday as Prefect of the P-O after 20 months at the helm, saying that she had “written the most beautiful page of her professional life” here.  She is off to the Essonne and will be replaced by Philippe Vignes.


No to date change for summer sale

One of the prefect’s last acts was to refuse a demand for the summer sales in the department to be moved forward to a 22nd June start rather than 6th July. Although she claimed not to be against a change in principal, she said that the demand had been made too late and some of the big stores like Galleries Lafayette had already printed their literature.  The President of the Shop Holders’ Association said that they had sent the first letter on the subject on the 15th October last year, so she should be ashamed.


Tax officials on strike

9th May is normally the start of the period when the public can ask tax officials for help with their return.  However this year the officials in Perpignan are implementing rolling strikes against the ongoing reduction in personnel, with a loss of around 15 people per annum which means that even if they shut to the public 3 half days per week they can’t keep up with examining cases, answering the phone and staying abreast of changes in the tax regime.


A stag night turned bad

A young man who was on his stag night at a restaurant got extremely drunk and started fighting with the bouncers.  They knocked him out and he was taken home.  On reawakening he shouted the odds about going down and sorting them out with a pump action shotgun at which point his fiancée called the police to stop him going.  He insulted and threatened them, then bit one and tried to run away when they took him to hospital to be treated for the bump to the head.  Waking in a police cell in the morning, he remembered nothing about the night after he had finished eating and was totally shocked at his own behaviour.  He was given 140 hours community service and 6 months suspended sentence due to his previously good character.


Madeleine McMullin lives in Palalda from where she runs her marketing business Marketing66.  She has worked both in the UK and abroad, with big brand names in the interiors and design industries such as Wedgwood, Denby, Sebastian Conran, Laura Ashley, Hemingway Design…….

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