Le premier eTree de France est dans ma ville!


Nevers, in Burgundy, is my home town/ ma ville natale ; this is also where all my family still lives, and so I still visit a few times a year and of course never miss an opportunity to take its pulse…. when something is published in the press!

Today an article from Le Journal du Centre -where I started my career-  attracted my attention…. : my little town (40 000 inhabitants/ habitants) is to be the first one in France to host an eTree!

What is it? / Qu’est-ce que c’est? : well, it does look a bit like a tree, but with branches / les branches that bear photovoltaic tablets instead of leaves / les feuilles!

And what is it for ? / C’est pour quoi faire ? To recharge / recharger your mobile phone, your ipad or even your electric bike ; to connect / se connecter to the Internet and communicate / communiquer with similar trees all over the world. In order for people to truely benefit from the technology, the eTree has been placed on the main square of the town –la Place Carnot– where youngsters and business people alike often gather for a drink on one of the main cafes, or simply cross on their way to the train station or the shops.

The Franco-Israeli company Sol-Logic had demonstrated the uses of its eTree during the COP21 summit on environment / le sommet sur l’environnement in Paris in 2015, where the invention was awarded a prize for its ecological innovation. It immediately appealed to the mairie de Nevers / townhall. Today, there are similar trees in Israel, Dubai and New York…. and perhaps many more to come.

I am so pleased Nevers is the first French town to get one and I cannot wait to go back and try it! I’ll take a picture for you!

My babies and me, March 2015 on the Place Carnot, almost on the very spot where the eTree now stands.


C’est la chandeleur!

La chandeleur is the festival of chandelles / candles ; it falls on the 2nd of February each year (40 days after Christmas) and that is when we, French people, eat pancakes. The tradition is a little strange and tirée par les cheveux / far fetched -as we say- as it apparently dates from the Middle Ages and the pagan rites associated with days becoming longer and lighter. The pancake/ la crêpe, as a little golden circle, is believed to represent the sun. 

I remember well tossing pancakes/ faire sauter les crêpes when I was a little girl, with the pan/ la poelle in one hand and a coin / une pièce in the other. I remember the tradition was -some families still do it-  to hold a golden coin, a golden Louis, to bring good luck to the household. The batter, a simple affair with milk, flour, eggs and sugar, would invariably be flavoured with Grand-Marnier…. and it was de-li-cious!! At home, we tended to eat les crêpes with sugar / du sucre, or maybe jam / de la confiture. The English sugar and lemon / sucre et citron favorite is virtually unseen in France. Today, it seems (see the link below) that cheese and ham / fromage et jambon for savoury pancakes and Nutella for the sweet ones, are the new family favourites.

Another custom often associated with pancake-eating for la chandeleur is cider/ le cidre, for that is how les Bretons / people from Britanny,  enjoy their crêpes! And they drink it in little bowls, and call the whole experience la bolée. Pancakes are nearly considered a special regional dish over there. In fact, les Bretons  have developed pancake-making into a culinary affair and crêperies / pancake eateries can be seen everywhere in Haute and Basse-Bretagne. Menus usually put you in appetite with savoury crêpes, made from buckwheat / sarrasin, as well as sweet ones, simply made from wheat / froment. All equally delicious!

Let’s not forget the crêpe suzette of course, prepared with an orange, lemon and Grand-Marnier butter….. then flambée! This one is reknown the world over.  Its’ invention is sometimes attributed to the illustrious chef Auguste Escoffier (late 19th century), at other times to a simple waiter, Henri Charpentier, who had the important job of serving the British monarch, Edward VII in a restaurant of Monte-Carlo, one day in the late 19th century. But who was Suzette (a diminutive of Suzanne) ? No-one is quite sure either…..

Strangely, the British have adopted another date for eating pancakes…… It falls at the end of February, or in March and is determined by when Easter is. It is called  Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras and that is when, in past times, people would eat up all their eggs and fat before the next day, Ash Wednesday / le Mercredi des Cendres, when a period of repentance, Lent / le Carême,  would start. In France, Mardi Gras is not associated with pancakes but rather with dressing up and partying, it is le Carnaval / Carnival.


A little bit of background on the pancake tradition :


A beautiful demonstration of crêpe suzette preparation at the Ritz :