A chance of a few days on the lovely River Vienne, after an invite at fairly short notice, was not to be missed. I have fished here before, and relished the scenery, the food, the wine, the fishing, and meeting the people that make this part of France so relaxing and charming.

The Vienne, a rocky, surging river, not unlike the Wye, is largely unfished, and the carp are more attractive to the locals than the barbel. The local anglers are becoming very educated in fish welfare, and the young carp anglers are keen and respectful of their quarry. The carp in the Vienne do not grow big by French standards, but fight like crazy. The silures, the catfish, are still prized by all as a delicacy, as are the sandres, zander, but the barbel are left alone for some reason.

They do not grow big, but are numerous and fight hard, and a pleasant day catching fierce little French barbel in virgin swims, with sight of another angler a rarity, is an experience I shall return for.

We found lots of new swims, spent lazy days catching barbel and carp, and few bream, and had a glorious time. A five pound barbel was a monster, and truly felt like one.

I learnt a recipe for bream that involved a lot of boiling, making a bouillon, and addition of a range of herbs and spices, from a strange but fascinating lady who came to chat, as the French do, while I was fishing, but do not intend to try it out.