We’re lucky in Creuse in that we have not one, but two free English language papers to read each month.

The first is Creuse News (www.creuse-news.eu), which is an A4 size magazine, printed in black and white. It’s the brainchild of Julia Dunbar and began in October 2007. It’s going great guns and is well known and respected now. It has news items, generally local in nature, chatty observations, a language corner, a spot of history in most issues, gardening advice, letters (often with hints and advice from readers) and short, interesting factual snippets. At the moment the magazine is running a photo competition, and is trying to get a jogging team together, so you can see that it’s  active and community-building. Its particular strength is the adverts. Many British businesses in the area, and some French ones, too advertise in it – digger hire, woodland management, supermarkets, estate agents … you’ll find pretty much every profession going.

The new kid on the block is The Bugle (www.thebugle.eu) which first appeared in 2009. This is an attractive,  full-colour, tabloid size newspaper with lots of photos. It covers Haute-Vienne as well as Creuse, plus the surrounding areas. It’s edited by Steve Martindale. This is more news-based than Creuse News and includes a sizeable national news section as well as local news, but also has a rapidly growing business directory. It has a very comprehensive events round-up, useful list of when local markets and foires are taking place and a zappy entertainments page. There are general interest articles, recipes, puzzles, features, letters and a French culture section. It’s very well designed and produced.

Both are excellent reads and I really admire the gutsy determination of the editors who have created these publications from scratch and are fully self-financing. Both have an excellent distribution system and can be found in many shops, tourist offices and cafés in the area. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s impressive. I thoroughly recommend both local papers and hope they’re here to stay.

We get two free French language magazines in Creuse too. One is the monthly La Lettre du Limousin, published by the Conseil Régional du Limousin. This is in colour, tabloid size and varies in interest. There is always a brief events listing, but this is limited to major dos only, a look at local politics, several self-congratulatory articles about local projects that the region has funded in full or part, and interesting articles about local entrepreneurs. It’s not a must-read in our household, like the English papers, but I always flick through and have picked up a few useful bits of information from it.

Every quarter Le Magazine la Creuse arrives in the postbox. This is published by the Conseil Général de la Creuse and is more relevant and interesting than its Limousin counterpart. It’s in full colour and is A4 size. It has features on Creuse people and businesses, looks at the various works it is funding in the area (road improvements, renovations, clean-up schemes and has short, newsy columns about upcoming events. There are book reviews, an entertainments round-up and always a page of fiches about la patromonie de la Creuse. Each is a quarter-page fiche which you can cut out and stick in your tourist info file for your gite or BandB. The current issue is more heated than many as it is concerned with decentralisation issues. The recent suppression of the taxe professionale is a real bone of contention.

Finally, a few sad words about another freebie we get, the yearly ‘newsletter’ of the local Chamber of Commerce and Industrie. This is an obviously expensive,  hugely glossy but, in my view, very disappointing publication that I have yet to find anything interesting in. It doesn’t even give a nod in the direction of the sizeable English element of the local business community. A real wasted opportunity by the CCI to engender good PR and to inform and inspire the very people who keep it going.