French impressions - The Loire Valley

I have just finished reading the latest French travel book by George East – French Impressions: The Loire Valley. It’s a good book and one that, in my opinion, equals his previous book about Brittany.

As well as covering various towns and villages along the Loire Valley from Saint Nazaire to Sully-sur-Loire, George interjects numerous anecdotes from his time in the region. One such story describes an error that he made when visiting his recycling centre, which struck a chord with me, and which I’m sure other Brits have come across in France – the complex recycling rules!

Here’s a snippet of George’s story…

According to a curt letter from the Mayor, we are to be fined for transgressing the local recycling laws.

On our last visit to the village rubbish disposal point, we spent an hour posting what we thought were the right things through the right slots. Our offence, the letter says, was to put a paper envelope in the container reserved for paper. Although the envelope was made of paper, we should have known that, for some unspecified reason and like yoghurt pots, all envelopes are striclty non-grata. We cannot post a “not guilt” plea as the letter includes a photo-copy of the envelope, which has our address on it. In a very French way, the final admonition that ignorance of the law is no excuse is followed by a twenty-two word flowery sign-off assuring us of the undying friendship and loyalty of the sender.

As well as the hurt of the fine and terseness of the letter and the fact that we had tried to follow the labyrinthine rules and regulations correctly, the event is further evidence of how France has changed in recent times.

Apart from the weather, food, drink, countryside and cheap property, one of the main reasons we came to live in this country was because of the general ambience of tolerance…

I’m sitting in my garden eating my crevettes roses and, thanks to George’s book, am wondering whether I need to put the heads in one recycling box and the rest of the prawn shells in another.

I’m still happy to be in France, but, like George, I too see that things have changed in recent years – and not for the better.

Order your copy of French Impressions – The Loire Valley

If you would like to read your own copy of George’s book, why not order it directly from the George East website?

Editor’s update about Recycling Laws in France (2024):

Assorted plastic bottles

France is quite progressive when it comes to recycling and tackling waste. They have an Anti-waste and Circular Economy Law which is all about cutting down on waste and boosting recycling. I am not just talking about putting items into the right bin here; what they are doing is making companies think about how they can design products to be more repair-friendly and less wasteful from the get-go. Plus, they’re not fans of single-use plastics, so they’re phasing those out and pushing for them to be reused instead.

There are also specific rules around packaging and plastics. For example, the French are looking at merging different types of waste streams to make recycling even smoother. Producers have to come up with plans to make their products and packaging less harmful to the planet. There’s talk about a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to encourage recycling, but that’s still in the debate phase.

What’s interesting is they’re also cracking down on microplastics, like banning them in cosmetics, and planning to extend this to other products. Even new washing machines sold in France will need a special filter to catch those tiny plastic fibres that shed from clothes.

Please help us!

If you found this useful, please let your friends know by sharing it here...