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Everything posted by Pangur

  1. Rather than paying for a hotel and all the other costs that add up, you can get transfers easily from Geneva to the main resorts for about €45 one way if you are sharing transport.   Try a company like  ww.alp-line.com

  2. [quote user="Quillan"]

    I don't think the argument is so much about giving women the right to feed their babies in public I think its more about public places being made to provide suitable facilities for a mother to breastfeed her baby [/quote]

    It would be a lot cheaper and more practical if people simply didn't have issues with women breastfeeding in public.  The facilities I need are is a chair and shelter from sun / rain.  That is it.  Private facilities can be a godsend to women who are shy about feeding in public: but they are often shy solely because of attitudes like Quillan's and don't want to be stared at.  And as for walking out of a restaurant if a woman starting feeding her child - that kind of attitude is precisely why rates are so low and so many women refuse to even try to breastfeed.   When I started off I would choose a quiet corner of the restaurant/cafe and sit with my back to the room.  Then as my confidence grew, I could sit anywhere and you would really need to be staring at me to see any part of my skin.  But it can take a lot of confidence and you need to feel like you will be supported.  I felt really terrible when the restaurant owners made a snide comment and it did give me a big knock.

    You can't promote breastfeeding and then shove all the women who want to do it into a private room.  To increase breastfeeding rates, a normalisation of attitudes is needed and it should be ok to breastfeed anywhere you would bottle feed.  Otherwise, it is difficult to leave the house.  Finding a place to change a nappy can be difficult enough: needing to find breastfeeding facilities would be a logistical nightmare, especially in rural France and the mothers of small babies have enough hassle getting out the door!  Getting a table a langer or even a toilet large enough to change a nappy is a triumph in the large towns near me.

     I am shocked that you can compare it with smoking in a restaurant: a women breastfeeding a child has no impact on your health for a start.  All you need do is not look.  You may think you support breastfeeding Quillan, but your attitudes are really anti-breastfeeding. I don't want to offend anyone but feeding a child in a place where others are eating is a normal thing to do and I don't think people who have some kind of weird issue with that should be pandered to. 

    Have you ever seen a women breastfeeding beside you in a restaurant and if so, why would it bother you to the extent that you would walk out of the restaurant Quillan?  Would you do the same for a bottlefed baby?  I think some people think a woman practically undresses to breastfeed in public, but this is really not the case.  Please do try to think about the effect your actions and attitudes would have on a woman trying to establish feeding.  It really can be difficult enough to do without having to worry about insulting those around you.

  3. [quote user="Quillan"]

    where mothers can go and breast feed in comfort away from the gaze of others. .


    Maybe the others should stop gazing.  [:)] If I hadn't breastfed in cafes and restaurants I probably wouldn't have been able to leave the house for the first eight months!  Breastfeeding is done on demand, so when the baby needs feeding, you have to jump to it: you can't plan to be finished your dinner before the next feed.  Most women who breastfeed in public are pretty discreet and you would have to be watching pretty carefully to see anything more than a mother cradling her baby.  

    I don't see what is so weird about a child feeding in a restaurant and would resent being put in another room to breastfeed because others have issues with it. Surely it is the perfect time and place to feed a child?  Breasfeeding does a lot more than just pass on antibodies - the health advantages to child and mother are enormous.  A breastfeeding rates are low in France as well as the UK, everything that can be should be done to encourage women to feed and other to find it as acceptable as giving a baby a bottle in a restaurant.Essentially Quillan you are saying breastfeeding is ok as long as you don't do it in public - what other public places can you imagine women feeding in that wouldn't make you feel uncomfortable? 

    In Ireland, it is actually illegal to ask a women to stop breastfeeding in public or to move to another room in a restaurant and I think some restuarants put up stickers to welcome breastfeeding mums - mums catching up for coffee midmorning / lunch are a source of revenue as well as annoyance!  I had one comment from a local restaurant in France - we spent a lot of money there and would regularly have brought visitors there.  They have not seen me since.  Apart from that, I had no negative experiences feeding my child in public in France.


  4. It's practical to commute by car from Haute Savoie but unless you live in Annemasse, there is next to no cross border public transport.  If you are working in the international sector, a lot of people live in Ferney or Pays de Gex (01)but you pay in houseprices for the easier commute. 

    House prices are cheaper in 74 than Geneva, but a lot more expensive than elswhere in France.  If you do commute by car the biggest pain is car parking - spaces are at a premium in Geneva and unless you have a car park with your job it can be a nightmare.  Even getting into a park and ride can mean a long waiting list.  I have about a hour hour commute each way, parking in a p&r and getting public transport across town which is longer than going the motor way but a lot less stressful and with a guaranteed space.

    They have just opened a new section of the autoroute which makes it a lot easier to get to Annecy, I think in about 45 min.

    http://www.frontalier.com/ might also help.  There are literally thousands crossing the border from France to Geneva each day and although there can be a bit more paperwork at the start, there are specialist mutuelles, bank accounts etc especially for frontaliers.  I find it is the best of both worlds - a city where you can continue to work but you can also live in a more rural community. 



  5. I had my first baby here last year, and the antenatal care and care in the hospital was brilliant.

    During my stay in the hospital, a paediatric nurse came in every day and bathed my baby, showing me how to clean the bellybutton, change him and how to hold onto a slippery baby in water...  She was also happy to show my husband how to do it.  If you are breastfeeding, the five days in hospital really helps - in the UK you are normally home by the time your milk comes in and having someone on hand to help you and reassure you was great - all I had to do was ring the bell and a midwife or nurse would come and help me, showing me different positions and reassuring me when the going was tough.  By the way, I could request a private room (it was a public hospital and max 2 women in a room anyway) and it cost just 30 euro a night (not reimbursed) ).  So during the five days in hospital, you do get a lot of help.

    Once you left the hospital, you are on your own a bit.  But, as the others mentioned, contact your local PMI (they sent me a leaflet automatically with opening times in about month 4 or 5).  I went down there once a week to the paediatric nurse to get him weighed and could ask any other questions.  You also have access to a paediatrician if needed and sometimes to a midwife.  It is totally optional.  You also have a obligatory visits with your doctor or paediatrician - I think it is once a month for the first 3 months and our local doctor was also great help - she had followed my pregnancy till month 7 so I was really comfortable with her and she has remained my son's doctor, rather than going to a paediatrician.  You also have a 6 week check up with the gyno.

    I also found the internet helpful for questions- try mumsnet.com , or there is a french mums forum on babycentre.co.uk.  The only mums group I found near me was a breastfeeding one - you can try here for links where you are  http://www.allaiter-en-haute-savoie.info/liens.html

    I hope some of that helps / reassures: enjoy your last few weeks of pregnancy and your new baba.

  6. Just for your information, I live 45km from Evian, and when we were buying 2 years ago, we had to pay the agency fees.  We didn't come across any agency were the buyer did not have to pay the fees (and we saw quite a few houses with different agencies).  Sometimes it wasn't obvious as the cost was always included in the price of the house.  In the end, the agency did reduce its fee so our offer would be accepted but this was at the very end of negoiations and was proposed by the agency, not us.

    Having said that, I get the feeling that the market in 74 around the border is more stagnant that it was 3 years ago, esp at the upper end of the market, between the general economic downturn and the fact that the Swiss Franc is not worth as much in France.  So maybe some agencies are more willing to be flexible but it might be because they are desparate to make a sale....it is certainly heard of around here to make the buyer pay!

    Good luck with the buyers....

  7. The Irish Embassy in Paris is amazingly helpful, and posted us out the forms v. quickly and couriered the final passport back.  While the standard wait for a passport is about six weeks, they often take less time, so if they get it sorted now, they will probably get it for Xmas.  Ours took less than four weeks, and that was in peak summer time and we have found the embassy really helpful in emergency situations.  They should call the embassy in Paris and get them on side, and ak them to courier it express from Paris (I think we paid extra for this).  There's no other option if they want to go back to Ireland for Xmas.

    After spending ages lying the baby on a sheet and clicking a camera (funny photos, but none useable!) we went down to the local photographer's shop and he very easily took some for us (the big spotlight works wonders for getting the baby to look at the camera).  As far as I remember, the eyes did have to be open and looking at the camera.  Also, the embassy wouldn't accept the paper used in the local supermarkets for printing photos, so it is worth getting it done by a professional, cost about 12 euros

  8. It's hardly a high-faluting concept, and it doesn't mean you want to exist in some kind of Marxist utopia and have to give up your worldly goods (or pretend to).  The statement is about whether or not you believe that having no regulation on the market is the best way forward or not. 

    There is a balance that can be had in society.  It doesn't have to be totally one or the other.  I, like many of the 25-50 year old French I have met, believe in a strong state.   I don't want to live in a country  that believes only in the free market, and that has faith that the market will regulate everything.  You couldn't pay me to live in the US for example - and yes, I have worked there.  I have no problem paying taxes, or living in a high tax country with good public services and I strongly believe that if government does not keep a handle on business, it is to the detriment of society.  An alternative model to free market capitalism is what is currently happening in many parts of Europe - people who don't believe the free market is the best way don't necessarily mean that they don't want to have good jobs, nice homes, yearly holidays etc etc.  It just means that they don't want big business and the dollar to be the only measurement of success or to leave regulation up to big business.  Obviously there are a lot of problems in France that need to be addressed, and there is such a thing as over-regulation but the French I know don't want the same economic system as they have in the UK or the US.  Sure, they'll go to London and get the money and experience but stay in the UK to raise families?  All the young London French I know fled the UK as soon as the first bébé arrived.  

    To get back on track: there are no English in our hamlet - is this a record?

  9. The results of this poll are quite interesting: only 36% of French people believe that the free market system is the best way on which to base the future of the world, compared with 71% of Americans and 66% of British.  http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/pipa_market.html .  That's a pretty different worldview.




  10. Try calling the URSSAF number given on the weblink - those in your local office mightn't be the best ones to ask.  We live on the border of Switzerland, so people/officials are quite clued up locally about cross-border taxations, but this is probably not the same nationally.  Perhaps it is a very different regime for US based companies, but it seems a bit weird that you could get away without paying...

  11. A big issue is not the US taxes or social charges you may need to pay - but those that your employer probably needs to pay to the French govt for you to be employed in France.  I'm assuming that you have to pay French social charges as you are permently resident here rather than being here temporarily.

    The company needs to be made aware that c. 30% of your gross salary must be paid as the employers' social contributions to the French gov.  I'd imagine this will come as quite a shock to American employers.  If you can, get them to take responsibility for paying this from the very start as it is a huge burden otherwise.  We negotiated that my husband's employers would give him the full wage (gross + equivalent they pay in UK National Insurance) and he'd pay their charges (30% v c. 15% in the UK) so he hands over an enormous proportion to the French gov each month, but it is out of a decent London wage, so we cope.  Obviously it is well worth doing your sums before you even think of accepting. 

    http://www.net-entreprises.fr/html/foreign_companies.htm  might help as a starting point.  It is a really simply offical guide - in English - for companies who do not have a place of business in France but must pay Social Security contributions for employees who are subject to the French Social Security system.  It might be a good place to start for the French side of things and doesn't appear to be limited to EU companies.  We've found Urrsaf really helpful, so it is well worth giving the contacts listed here a call first before spending loads on expensive international accountants.  At the end of the day, domestic tax offices should have this information.   They should also be able to give you a estimation of the social charges the employee needs to pay so you can calculate your take home pay.  I can't remember exactly what my husband takes home, but it is around 2/3 of his total pay pack (i.e. gross plus the UK NI payments from his employer).  If you're the kind of person who gets het up about paying taxes, it's not a happy place....

    Can you also try calling the US tax offiice to see what, if any, taxes you'd need to pay to them in this situation?  We have found the whole situation relatively straightfoward, (if financially painful!) once we got the right form.  At least then if you have to pay for specialist advice, you can be a bit more focused.

  12. Have you tried www.paruvendu.fr or www.seloger.fr? We used both of these when looking for both rental places and to buy and found them extremely useful
  13. But this superficial unfriendliness is not just a French characteristic.  It's probably more to do with small town mentalities.   I know many English people who have had the exact same problem when moving to Ireland.  No problem chatting to people in the pub or finding people to have a night out with, but you can find it very difficult as a "blow-in" to really make friends with the Irish, unless you have an "in", like an Irish partner.   You often need a personal connection - even in Dublin, which can be an amazingly cliquish city, even if you're from there.  And this in a country that speaks the same language.  

    In our village in France, some of the friendliest people are those who have moved from other regions of France, and they complain about the coldness of the locals. I'm sure those from our village would say the exact same if the shoe was on the other foot...


  14. I started this on my garden last year - lots of fun!  I hand-weeded regularly from Feb and started by pulling out what I knew to be weeds.  Actually nettles were the extent of my knowledge, but that kept me busy for a while.  As your garden grows, you'll begin to see what is a weed and what isn't.  If in doubt, I left it there and waited to see what worked.  Disastrous strategy with the ground elder but worked better with what turned out to be really pretty purple tall daisy things.  They were nearly for the chop all summer but finally bloomed in September....

    I still haven't figured out the names of what half the weeds are, but if you spend enough times on your hands and knees, you'll soon be able to spot the root of an annoying one at a few meters.  There's one really annoying one in my garden that looks relatively harmless but spreads like wildfire (it has orange roots and tiny white flies seem to hatch out of it if anyone knows what it is!).  The handweeding is pretty labourious but I concentrate it on two main flowerbed areas.  It looks a hell of a lot better this year than it did last year, but it seems to be a constant war. 

    I also google images of different weed names I see in gardening books and see if they are in mine.  Haven't found a "this is a weed" picture book yet (I'm sure there is a market......)


  15. The welfare state is meant to be there as a safety net.  It's meant to help people when they are in situations like Traci and Coral have outlined.  Surely it is natural for Coral's daughter to lean on her family for moral support during difficult times, whether they're in France or Timbuctu.  Fantastic that she can count on her family for support and doesn't have to go through visa hurdles to get there.   The fact that Traci (and many other women) have chosen to stay at home and look after their children  while their partner goes out to work should not mean that they get accused of freeloading from the state when their marriages break down and their financial cirumstances change drastically.  Women can't win - you get the court to give you decent maintenance and you're freeloading from your hardworking husband, and you claim from the state and you're a sponger....

    I paid into the UK system for years and took nothing out  - I wasn't educated by the state, I rarely used the medical services and I never claimed benefit.  I don't expect a "pay back", and as no longer work in the EU, my "credit" has run out.  I'm not counting my contributions into any system and calculating my net profit or loss.  I paid my taxes in part to help those in worse circumstances than I and hope that if I am ever unlucky enough to have to claim, that same safety net will catch me.  

    We are EU citizens, and the EU allows freedom of movement, regardless of whether or not we are financially donating to the state And  as Kathie said, there are a lot of retired Brits in France who have made quite a saving on their NI contributions, getting a superior health service (according to international norms) for a pittance. 

    Good luck to the two of you.

  16. Cerise, my post is based on my experience, and those of my friends, of living in the UK as an immigrants and I would like like to make clear I am not pretending to speak for any British people.  The great majority of my non British friends have left London and returned to their own country or to another.  And because they have qualifications and experience they are finding work in other countries - yes, including France. 

    Regarding education, to me, it is a serious failing that the UK system allows - and expects - so many to leave at Brevet / GCSE level in this day and age.  The state should be giving its citizens a decent education in the first place and not expecting people to go back to school to catch up later.  Fair play to those who succeed based on this minimum qualification.

  17. [quote user="RumziGal"]

    Yes, but the point is that they're earning good money at 20, without any impressive school-leaving qualifications or anything like that.      


    The UK must be the only EU country where it is considered acceptable for children to leave school with the equivalent of GCSEs.  One of the key reasons I and any nonBrit I know who lived in London fled as soon as we started families and had gained enough experience to hawk our CVs elsewhere.  The only people I know who want to stay in the UK are those earning buckets of money in the city.  It doesn't come across as a country that values education - if you can get a job, why bother learning to count. Most other countries try to keep their children in education a bit longer.    And yes, UK teenagers starting salaries might be impressive, but most will be penalised later in life for not having any qualifcations, finding it harder to get rises and promotions.  Plus they only have a very basic education behind them - personally, I think education is more about more than getting a paycheck.  Those pieces of paper are important - and especially so if there is a down-turn in economics.

    As for the French in London (not the UK, living and working in London is not the same as living and working anywhere else in the UK), - is this not  one of the whole points of the EU, an opening of borders? There are young people from all over the world working in London, it's an amazing city with few equivalents and it is a city of immigrants and migrants.  We live in a world where migration is easy - there are lots of young Brits itching to go to Australia and French wanting to go to New York or London.  It's not an indictment on any country, it's just a wish for change and excitement.  

  18. If we hadn't been guaranteed at least one income before we moved, we wouldn't have come.  If it comes to the point where one income is not coming in, we will move. If we dodn't have enough money to give our children at least the same standard of living that we enjoyed, we'll move. 

    Nice weather is all very well, but if you're working, it doesn't make much difference.  I'm not bored as I work full time and actually, don't get as much time as I'd like to "enjoy France".   Moving here when you are young, and especially if you have kids you need to ensure that you can make a living, in my opinion.  Anything else would be too big a risk for me.  I have no interest in being my own boss and the thought of the b&b/gite trade horrifies me (too much like hard work!).

    I have had a great two years here, have definitely made the right move and am much happier here than I was in London and probably than I would be back home in Dublin. I see my long term future here - I like what I have seen of the health system, the outdoor living (sports freaks in our region) and the country side. I see more of my family and friends than I did in London.  My French is pretty good and I work in an international environment so talking to people and making friends hasn't been too hard.  For kids, I think being billingual is a great skill and I'd prefer them to do the Bac than A-levels.  But if I was unemployed or had a finite amount of income, I'm sure it would be horrible and depressing, no matter how pretty my view was. 

    We did a lot of preparation before we came here, in terms of sorting out income and language skills and I feel it has paid off.  Don't jump into the abyss - give yourself a fighting chance.

  19. When you move to France, you will have to get used to hearing words you don't know and looking them up in a dictionary.  why not start now?
  20. Languedocgirl, it's not a lot of work, seriously.  It's standard proceedure on many surveys and fixing it is literally a click of a button. There are 100,000 British according to INSEE resident in the whole of France.  Providing specific training on how to classify the handful of British people they might meet to every functionnaire, part time ennumerator and official is a much greater waste of resources than a simple process of the computer grouping together English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish into British once the data has been collected. 

  21. Another option is working from home on a consultancy basis, where most of your clients are English speaking or for an international company hiring freelancers.  Obviously depends on what your skill set is, but you could do jobs based on translations, desk research, report writing, journalism, graphic design, strategy writing etc etc with frequent trips to your clients' base.  I work in a research capacity for an international company at the moment, but I freelanced for a few months and was amazed at how much work I was offered in a short period of time.  My husband works for the same company he did in the UK writing software but does all the work from home and spending a few days a month in the office.  Yes he pays a lot of social insurance, but the public services we receive in our area are amazing so it softens the blow a little.  With a combination of the EU, internet and cheap flights, working from home (whereever home is) is totally feasible.  Think of all the people who work from home in the UK - if you can do it from Cornwall, why not from France....  But I would agree with those who say, make sure you can earn the money and have a decent standard of living before going.


  22. If the enumerators are confused about what is meant by nationality, it makes much more sense from an interviewing point of view to put English than British.   Then the statisticians can put all the English, Scottish and Welsh together as British in the final analysis.  You can always put subgroups names together to make an overall group, but if you only collect the overall name, you can never split it out.   To even suggest that INSEE wouldn't know how to classify a English person...honestly, I can't imagine it being a problem.   Remember - census enumerators tend not to be professionals or officials - they are just doing a job for which they have received basic training. And in offices, again it makes much more sense for them to take down the lowest subgroup and have it coded up than have superiors complain that they actually want country of birth rather than nationality...
  23. As a non Brit, I seem to find that only English people (and Ulster loyalists) refer to themselves as British - Scots tell the French they're Scottish and Welsh that they're Welsh.  Wild generalisations, I know, but I honestly have yet to meet a Celt who first identifies themselves as British.  So maybe the French just got fed up with being told off for not differenentiating between the Scots, Welsh (and being rounded on by the Irish for daring to insinuate any hint of Britishness[:)]) and just assume the English don't mind being called English...  Plus, they're big rugby fans here - I think they have a pretty good ideas of the differences between nations in Great Britain.

     I've always been pleasantly surprised by their knowledge of the Irish, and Irish politics - in fact, far superior to the general knowledge in the UK, where the media and individuals regularly refers to Irish as being British, part of the British Isles (a v sensitive subject!), putting Irish news in the "Home News" section, references to "the mainland"  assuming a European stamp is not needed when posting to Dublin from the UK etc etc. I wasted a lot of green pens complaining to people when I lived in the UK!  But basically, people outside a country generally don't know and don't care about these subleties.  Any French person insisting I am English or British gets called Belgian or Swiss Romande - that seems to make them understand the differences![:D] 

  24. [quote user="Will "]

    I too have been an enumerator in Britain, and find the French census system a joke. The areas to be counted are chosen by the relevant authorities, as Clair says.

    The official figures show up a lot of other anomalies resulting from this selective counting policy. I remember reading somewhere that France is shown in a certain set of government figures to have a considerably higher percentage of Portuguese immigrants than British - this is because the census results from one city and its surroundings in the south were interpolated across the whole of France.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_France  According to INSEE, the highest # of foreign born immigrants living in France are indeed the Portugese - the Brits are nowhere close.  Unsurprising as the British do not have a long tradition of emigration in the same way that other, historically poorer, European countries did and when they did emigrate, it was generally to colonies or ex-colonies.  I studied the waves of French immigration throughout the century as part of a degree course, and the British were not even mentioned.  You may not notice the Portuguese - probably not buying up country farmhouses[;-)] - but they have been coming in great numbers since after WW1 at least.  Even the Italians are more populous than Brits.  Remember, the census counts people living in France and born in other countries - not holiday home owners.

    • 880,000 Portuguese
    • 700,000 Algerians

  25. 600,000 Moroccans

  26. 350,000 Italians

  27. 280,000 Spaniards

  28. 200,000 Turks

  29. 200,000 Tunisians

  30. 135,000 Chinese

  31. 120,000 Germans

  32. 100,000 Britons

  33. 100,000 Belgians

  34. 100,000 Poles

  35. 75,000 Vietnamese

  36. 70,000 Senegalese

  37. 60,000 Malians
  38. The UK system also has a lot of drawbacks - during the last census Westminister was undercounted by an estimated 10%.  They ended up commissioning a private sector agency o do it properly   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/3877217.stm       &   http://www.guardian.co.uk/analysis/story/0,,883653,00.html 

    Census enumerators regularly undercount the marginal in society - the homeless, the drug addicts, and those who have various reasons for not wanting to be counted.  It's pretty easy to count farmers - not so easy to count the number of people actually living in an HLM.  INSEE is a reputable organisation and in a survey of this size, I can guarantee that there are as many checks and balances as practible. The local towns cannot devise the methodology and fake the entire census of their town. No system is perfect and a regular sample rather than a proper census every 10 years has advantages 

    http://www.insee.fr/fr/recensement/nouv_recens/enquete_2007/notice_anglais.htm for details of the census en anglais..

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