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Everything posted by Cerise

  1. Hello Heather First of all welcome to the lovely bit of France - whereabouts are you going in the Aveyron? To my knowledge there are no English language set-up courses in the Aveyron, but they are pretty helpful to foreigners and there is certainly provision for learning French.  My husband - who had no French on arrival - attended Government assisted courses in Villefranche de Rouergue and now, 4 years later,  works for a French plumbing and electrical outfit.  Generally the Aveyron is pretty rural and English speakers in anything - banks, doctors, all admin - are minimal, though I understand that there is someone who speaks French at the Chambre de Commerce in Rodez, so they maybe able to give you more useful information.  I don't know much about the south side of the department as I actually live on the border just in the Tarn & Garonne.  Ron - if he's out there - may be able to help a bit more. Be aware that to set up as an artisan your husband will possibly need to prove his experience and/or qualifications in the trade and it certainly helps if you have the necessary paperwork to hand when you go the Chambre de Metiers.  Be prepared also to earn a great deal less than in the UK.  That said  - it is lovely, if somewhat cold, here! Good luck and if you need any more information feel free to contact me. Maggi
  2. Would agree with Chris - the land of restrictive practices.  Got to say we do have a great social life here, but we had a great social life in England.  That is what you make it. It is however a little soul destroying - and worrying for the future - to be in a place where every entrepreneurial move is forbidden or so hedged round with red-tape that you may as well not bother.  This is not exclusive to the English, as Will says the French and indeed any other nation will find it equally hard.  If your friend wants to give it a go let it be for a reason other than advancement in employment!! Best wishes Maggi  
  3. We don't have to pay - our commune doesn't levy it - and we are in same dept, albeit at other end to Alan.  Alan, does that mean that all your French guests either have 'war wounds' or are visiting on a top secret Government mission??[;)][;)] And can families with 6 children ever afford to go on holiday?  No wonder they said it wasn't worth collecting it when I asked at the mairie! Maggi
  4. Hi there Although older than you - in our 40s on arrival - my husband and I moved here 4 years ago and have managed to make a life here which we enjoy. I run our B & B and my husband has managed to find a job with an electrical and plumbing business.  I spoke French on arrival and OH has learnt since.  However it is EXTREMELY difficult to get work - except with a UK company - unless you speak French.  Sorry to disillusion you but A levels count for nothing - everyone French seems to be astounded that I actually had a management level job in UK without having gone to university and I'm under no illusions that it would not be so here.  Our education system is simply not understood and priority is given to French people for work.  Sorry but that is the way it is. However, if you really want to do it - and why not, everyone should have a try at their dreams - make sure you have enough cash to keep you going for a while, perhaps rent rather than buy so you can move on easily, learn the language, and be prepared to take boring low paid jobs to start with.  If you have some sort of transferable skills think about setting up your own business but be prepared for the costs. I'd be happy to share any information we have learned.  We were pretty well prepared when we came here, mostly thanks to other people who were kind enough to share their experiences and help us with our venture, and I'd be pleased to pass on any help if you want to PM me.  I would say however that the difficulty in working and, more importantly, earning enough to keep going is one of the less inspiring things about living in France. Good luck Maggi
  5. Hello This cannot be easy for you - but as Mrs MdW says at 10 years old it is very unlikely that your dog has primary epilepsy, so a lot will depend on the underlying cause of the fits.  Kidney problems spring to mind, or even a viral infection  so ask vet to run tests to see if he can find reason for it - if in doubt ask if they can recommend you to a specialist at one of the vet schools.  I personally had a dog which started to fit as the result of an anaesthetic accident at 7 years old.  It took a couple of months to get the medication doses right but she lived to almost 15 and died of something unrelated to the fitting and with no real ill effects from the medication.  That was some years ago and drugs have improved since then. Although horrid for the bystander fits are not painful for the dog - the important thing is that when you leave him alone he is in a place where he can't hurt himself (no stairs etc, and if you have other dogs keep him separate if you are not there)    Do hope the vet is able to help - but don't dismiss medication without giving it a try. Good luck Maggi   
  6. What many fail to notice is that people living here on their savings - and they have every right to do that if they have worked hard in the past - do not have a choice.  It is a legal requirement to be in the health system and unless you have sufficient 'earnings' - not savings - you have to have CMU.  Your would need a huge amount of savings to have sufficient income from interest alone.   I am not saying this is right but would imagine that quite a few of the so-called scammers fall in to this category.  Even people supplementing their savings by working a few hours - again perfecly legally - on cheque emploi service would probably still qualify.  There is no way that anyone - however honest - can make voluntary contributions. Like most people I have come across other Brits working on the black - but for the most part they are not claiming benefit, in fact they do not seem to exist legally at all, and use E111 for health care or return to UK.  Equally dishonest but not the same thing.  Occasionally I too have a rant about this - usually when we have received another bill or some administrative office has managed to mislay another bit of paperwork. We work and pay into the system here.  The system is bizarre and we just have to accept that as we have decided to live here.  My husband's work contract specifically forbids him to work 'legally' elsewhere, but rest assured that his French friends have pointed out plenty of opportunities for him to do extra work on the black (he doesn't and they think that is strange).  When I wonder aloud if it wouldn't be a better idea for people to be encouraged to have any secondary employment in a legal fashion they all regard me as if I am mad. The piece in the Depeche reminded me very much of the tabloid reaction to immigrants in UK - I hardly think the number of copies of the News sold has any bearing on the number of people fiddling the system!   Of course it is irritating that some people don't pay their dues, but I don't think the situation is worse in France.  Interestingly, in England I seem to remember that most people seemed to think it was OK to pay cash for building jobs and I don't recall their neighbours getting worked up about it.  There will always be abuses of any system and I don't think that the nationality of the person abusing makes it any more or less right.  Maggi  
  7. Have any of you good folks got one of these gismos and if so how long did you wait for it?  I ordered the changeover beginning of December, my Alice/Tiscali account says I have ADSL.  About 2 weeks ago I had a call from France Telecom saying they had checked my line, last week had a letter from Alice giving new coordinates etc, but still no box.  Can't get through to the phone helpline and they don't answer my e-mails.  How many weeks/months/years/centuries should I expect it to be before it turns up.  The paperwork implies that it is my fault if it doesn't arrive!  Help? Maggi
  8. Living in France my French DEBIT card is treated by wretched airlines as though it was a CREDIT card.  Trust me the blasted thing would not work if there was not money in the account.  Do not have a Fench credit card but on querying this was told by bank that in their eyes (French Bank that is) my card is a credit card as I can pay for things with it (!?) even though I don't do so on credit and only other sort of card is a cash only type - so does that mean only the English or those with English bank accounts get this option.  Seems a bit mean.  This, together with my new understanding that if me and him indoors go to UK together we can no longer take only one suitcase if our joint luggage comes to more than 15kg (Ryanair) means that I am rapidly going off these so called cheap airlines.  Or perhaps I will just have to travel alone and leave him here to earn more money to pay all these extra charges[:)]   Maggi
  9. Our house in England sold quickly and the completion was a few days before the French house.  Had to move out, furniture in storage, dogs in kennels etc in Uk and we rented a gite for a few days prior to signing.  Day before signing went to immobiliers to check which notaires office we were signing at - there were 2 - and he (nasty oily chap that I had not liked) said that he knew he had e-mailed us to the effect that planning permission for our new car entrance had arrived and that all the surveys had been done, but he had done that because NORMALEMENT they should have been.  However, désolée and all that but they hadn't. Husband - who at that stage did not speak French - looked on in horror as yours truly threw a momentous tantrum and had to be restrained from killing the little oik.  Immobilier cowered in corner of office saying he couldn't see what all the fuss was about and we were in a lovely area and why didn't we just relax and have a nice holiday as the necessary papers should be there in a week or two!!  Phoned notaire who was also expecting to sign the next day - she too having had the assurance from M L'immobilier that he was bringing all the paperwork - she too came to the office with murder in mind. Finally when everyone had finished shouting returned to our rented gite scared, homeless and weeping.  Gite owners were marvellous, thank goodness it was out of season - they made us a meal, soothed us and said we could stay for the forseeable future.  The next day Monsieur came with me and did some more formidable shouting and desk banging.  Finally signed, 10 days after the appointed date and all was well, even though the vendors had got fed up and returned to their distant home leaving the wretched immobilier with power of attorney.  The longest 10 days of our lives and the most expensive in terms of all the extra expenses. However, cheer up SB, after 4 years we can now see the funny side of it - particularly as the immobilier describes us as 'some of his most satisfied customers!' Maggi  
  10. Miki I agree that many people both French and English work part 'au noir' and in this region most of the English  seem to do so.  I'm not sure if I can blame them.  My husband works legally for a French electrical and plumbing business.  He is getting 'official' training in things he could already do - the reason that he was taken on is that his employer (who installed our central heating) was extremely impressed with the way he had restored our B & B.  We were always realistic that the B & B would not earn enough to keep us all the time and one of us would have to work.   BUT, and this is a big but, he earns less than half the money that other blokes round here work earning on the black, and he is restricted to the hours he works etc.  If I (I'm the goody goody who is too scared to be dishonest) did not insist that we work legally then he could be earning more working only half the year and helping me with the B & B through the summer.  As it is I have to get a bit of paid help if really busy and he has to come home from work and pitch in.  I know that we should all pay our dues etc etc, but the risk of getting caught is obviously not that high as some of the people to whom I am referring have been here longer than us and are never short of work.  In fact, he has been offered plenty of work and our French neightbour seems to think we are quite mad not simply going the same route as the family down the road.  I suppose in theory I should be happy about our 'legal' status but in fact I am simply envious of the fact that the 'illegal' have more money and more leisure than us.  What about medical cover etc I hear everyone cry.  Well when one of the aforementioned 'travailleurs au noir' was hospitalised they simply claimed that they only lived here part time and used  a relatives address in UK and E111 and all was well. Perhaps we will get reward in heaven for our honesty - but I sure as hell would rather have the rewards now and often wonder whether our decision to remain honest but poor is just plain foolish. Maggi  
  11. When you arrive at Rodez there is a list of local taxi firms and prices.  Believe there may also be a local bus to railway station but I've never seen it.  Parking is currently still free so many people leave cars there.  Does that help?   Maggi
  12. Yes Julie, I have but in France.  Took my friend to England with me for a week last year, visiting various friends and relatives.  Suddenly became aware that she was still wearing her coat as no-one had asked her to take it off.  Had a good laugh and explained our slightly less formal customs, but I felt a bit guilty as in excitement of seeing my friends had not noticed and she was too polite to say anything.  She had a great time (had never been to England before and does not speak English) but remarked how very informal she found us all - which she liked I might add.   The thing which threw her the most was the fact that people were offered tea or coffee at any time of the day.  Whilst staying with a friend someone called round at 11.30 am and was promptly offered coffee and biscuits (normal in England) and this prompted Antoinette to ask me in a whisper if we would not be having lunch! I think that most people accept that there are different habits in different countries, but we notice that many our French clients in the B & B are much more formal and less relaxed than the English but nevertheless they all generally turn out to be charming. Maggi  
  13. Hi Betmont I suspect you may be cooking your own dinner too if you wish to be back home before midnight.  Round here - Dept 82 Midi Pyrenees - the restaurants all have New Year specials.  This year we went to local hotel for dinner, arrived 8.30ish for 7 course dinner, still eating at 1.30 am and at 3.00 am 'les anglais' retired defeated whilst the remainder of the the village carried on partying.  Ashamed to say the only people who went home before us were in their 90s!!    However, if you get in training now you'll probably be able to keep up the pace by next New Year.[:D]   Maggi
  14. We too stay open over the winter and although we only have a sort of 'tick-over' trade (12 nights in December) find it does pay for the heating which we need anyway.  However, we do close for Xmas and New Year. This year on 22 December I had a rather timid French lady phone to ask whether she could have a room for 24th - before I had time to say we were closed she went on to explain that she was the niece of the old owner of this house who is still alive in her 90s in our local 'Maison de Retraite'.  She had heard that her aunt's children were unable to visit this year and wanted to spend Christmas day with her.  I occasionally visit auntie taking her photos of the house so couldn't bear to think of her alone at Xmas and said yes to the request for a room.  I  expained that we had my elderly parents who don't speak French here and that she could have a meal but it would be 'en famille' and not Xmas dinner as we have ours on 25th. She duly arrived and when I showed her to her room burst into tears.  It seems that the last time she was in the house was for Xmas 1944 when she had been evacuated to stay with her aunt who was at that time the housekeeper (she later inherited from the original owners who had no children).  Our visitor came from a very poor family and had had no Christmas presents throughout the war, when she came to our house - aged 8 - she had been thoroughly spoilt by the then ageing mistress of the house and her aunt.  I had quite inadvertently, given her the same room where - to quote - she had spent the best Christmas of her life. We had a lovely evening with her, she told us a great deal about her family and the history of our house, and my parents very much enjoyed her company despite the language barrier.  On Xmas day we visited her aunt with her.  A lovely incident in the history of our house and one of the interesting things which has happended since we started our ChdH. Like Phil & Jude a lot of our off season trade comes from people visiting their families in the village.  We find it useful to leave our details with local resturants/hotels/venues which cater for weddings etc., as they often have people looking for rooms.   Maggi        
  15. We have used www.expedia.fr and found it fine.  Had to go to Greece via Munich, put as it was a third of the price compared with going direct with AF from Toulouse we didn't complain.  Have not used all inclusive holidays but package for flights and car hire was reasonable.  I live near Ryanair airport, but in practice have found that flight timings don't make it cheaper to go via UK unless you ae going to longhaul destination as we woul have to spend 2 nights in UK.  Friends went that route to go to India as they also found the visa thing rather more complicated if they were flying direct from France (they did not want to go on a package holiday).   Maggi
  16. Hi We're at the Aveyron end of  department 82 in Laguepie.  Most people (even the tax office) disown us and say we aren't in the T & G, but we are honest.  Laguepie doesn't have many English residents, but quite a few come by for the market and monthly foire.  People are friendly, we run a B & B, other half works for small local plumbing and electrical company and I work as a volunteer in the village library.  Moved here just over 3 years ago and still loving it - though have to confess to missing English friends.  Have made good French friends but not quite the same as those who know what you mean when you say 'Here's one I made earlier'.   If you are passing by do drop in and say hello - if you want good markets suggest Villefranche de Rouergue (Thursdays) or Caussade (Mondays) - St Antonin is just a bit too 'English' I think - personal opinion - but the cinema is great, and the canoeing brilliant in the summer. Glad to see Neil replied to you even though he is back in Blighty.  He may have left, but his strimmer is still working marvellously hacking through the lump of mountain I fondly call my garden. Maggi www.les-cerisiers.net    
  17. We are also insured with AGF and they charge per room.  We also have insurance against 'intoxication alimentaire' (food poisoning) in case himself does the cooking!! [:)] Seriously, believe this is obligatory if you serve food.  From memory I think we pay 60 euro a year extra (4 rooms max 9 guests).  Have extra insurance for car too so that we can pick up guests from airport - cost extra 30 euros per year.  I am unable to get cover if I am ill/incapacitated and am interested that Quillan has managed to get this - any idea what they call it?   Maggi
  18. My husband, who is 45, has been taken on by a French electrical and plumbing business as a 'trainee' electrician.  He did not speak any French when we arrived here 3 years ago and although a great DIYer was not qualified in any building trades.  I can't say it has been easy, but he applied himself at college to learn the language, while we got our B & B up and running.  He had always intended to try to find a job, or even work for himself but he did not want to work on the black and knew it would be difficult, but it is possible.  He has a proper CDI and training opportunities and was actually offered the job by someone who had seen the work he had done in our house. I think the answer to the question is not whether it is possible but the fact that it is a great deal more difficult than in the UK.  One of our local maçons also has a Dutchman training with him, so think some French businesses are more open to this than others.  My husband's new boss speaks no English so it is swift upward learning curve, but so far he is enjoying it and learning.  The word of caution is that the pay is not great (by UK standards - though he earns the same as other 'ouvriers'), but if he were training at college he would not be paid at all and at least this gives us a regular income. Hope this might give a bit of encouragement to those seeking jobs - I am not suggesting it is ever easy, but perhaps not totally impossible. Everyone was very negative when he made first enquiries about any sort of training or job, but persistance has paid off. Maggi  
  19. Sorry Ron, but I think we can beat M. Bric.  Brico Depot in Gaillac informed that the paint we had taken back because it was not the colour on the tin (yes we had opened it!!) was absolutely fine and the problem must be our wall!! Finally managed to get it changed by suggesting that perhaps it was not their superb and helpful staff who had messed up, but the German paint mixing machine.  Ever the diplomat me! The car - Citroen - which I bought with a guarantee in May and which went wrong in June is still languishing in a garage somewhere in Albi as no-one has been able to repair it since.  Despite much jumping up and down on my part there seems to be no redress and the garage owner keeps mumbling unhappily about the amount of kilometres I am doing in the car he has lent me. My telephone was out of order for 2 weeks following recent storm - but France Telecom told me cheerfully that it didn't matter much as B & B was not a real business and, anyway, no one would want to visit if it rained. I think customer service is not only dead, but also buried, in our lovely corner of France. Maggi
  20. I am now very excited - will 'Tossing the guest' become a new Olympic sport?  When I have finished building my prize winning croissant sculpture for Tarn & Garonne - very little help from that Alan, not as much as a mouldy pain au chocolat I might say - may I get in training.  Can I start by throwing them from the top of the garden, or is it cheating if they roll too far. Chris - it is possible that I do not look as good as Miki in Lycra, but don't forget I am the woman who nicked all those performing geese for you.  (Have they arrived yet) Furthermore I do not need to hire peasants from any new EEc country to throw my guests - we girls can hurl our own.  I bet Coco will make the national finals for throwing under 10s. Think I will go and lie down quietly now - until the new medication works. Maggi PS - Am fresh out of brown hairy blankets - Miki may I have name of your supplier      
  21. After being frantically busy since mid June, we have no-one at all (unless any passers by) until 4 September when we are busy again until October.  Same last year, last week in August was empty.  Schools here are back next Monday and everyone is busy with that.  New wave of English don't arrive until English schools are back.  Personally I'm OK with it as it gives us a week off and time to enjoy a bit of summer weather. Last year we were also unexpectedly busy at beginning of November - no idea why.  It wasn't English half term and the guests were all English. Just been to lunch in village - for the first time since May - and it is like Marie Celeste, whereas last week was packed out. Maggi
  22. Sorry Miki - didn't mean you - I meant it all lightheartedly I apologise if I seem flippant, yes I do run this as a business and yes, as I say, I am sure that eventually someone will abuse my trust.  But, in the meantime most B & B s (CdH's call them what you will) are not huge affairs even if they are businesses and I think that many people, like myself, keep the administrative side of things as simple as possible.  You said yourself that you have hardly had any 'runners' and sometimes when I read on here, it seems to me that people are giving loads of thought to theoretical problems, where as my own life seems more tied up with practical ones, like am I ever going to get to the bottom of ironing mountain. I am a quite lighthearted person and tend not to look for problems (that does not mean I don't take my business seriously).  We don't have a credit card machine and in practice have not had any serious problems with that, even with guests from Australia and USA. Each of us runs our businesses differently and, of course I sometimes have difficult guests, but I never really expected it to be otherwise. In the real world no business is without its problems, as I am sure you, with much more experience than me, realise. Once more apologies if I offended anyone - just think life is complicated enough without trying to work out all kinds of jiggery pokery that I could do with sundry payment systems.  When I go on holiday myself am happy enough to pay by whatever system the hotel/B & B suggests and so far my  guests have been the same. Good luck to you all for the rest of the season.  This is the first day for ages that I have had time to post anything - and probably the last day for a while, so best get back to work. Maggi PS Quillan - Llamas have now been joined by troupe of performing geese - still no giraffe however.        
  23. Interesting thread.  I have always loved holidays and find it strange that everyone expects me to have changed because I live in France.  There is still a great big world out there for me to see. Don't spend lots of money - cos I don't have it to spend  - but try to get away when I can.  Since we run B & B summer holidays are now off - but managed a sunny week in Spain at the end of November last year and currently planning a couple of weeks in Greece for the end of this October with French friends.  Spend my spare time (not much of it) looking for really cheap plane tickets on internet so occasionally nip back to UK for weekend to see friends. Suppose because my friends tend to be people who also like travelling we have several friends with houses in interesting places so tend to go there and put them up free here in return. I do now feel a bit hampered by the fact that I can't go whenever I like, but I really feel that holidays are something you either love or hate.  Have never felt it was really about money as most of my non-holidaying acquaintances simply have different priorities.  For example, one person who recently told me they can't 'afford' a holiday, bought a home cinema.  Well for me that is the price of several holidays - I don't even have a satellite dish! So, TU, the answer is for me the same as when I lived in UK - wherever I can, whenever I can! Maggi  
  24. Dear Quillan I have no giraffes but there are currently some llamas in the village square would they be of any use??  When I went to boulangerie this morning thought I had had too much Gaillac at the fete last night, but llamas still there, so must be them not me. dear everyone else Don't you lot live complicated lives.  I am sure that one of these days a guest will do a runner, or nick something, but apart from being a little (well actually sometimes a lot) weird, ours seem to come, eat, drink, sleep, pay - in cash or by cheque - and then go on their merry way leaving us tired and bemused but generally happy enough.  The thought that one of them might not pay one of these days doesn't keep me awake at night.  Should I try to make my life more complicated or shall I carry on washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, leading guided tours round fetes and meeting llamas.  What do you think? Maggi
  25. Yes Hoddy definitely would have bought a house a few hundred yards up the road as then I would be in a diffent department.  You see the problem is that our Prefecture town is 75 km away and due to the total inability of anyone there to do business in any way other than face to face, I have a 150 km round trip any time I want any bit of paper.  If I lived up the road It would only be 30 km away to their Prefecture town and further more it is a nicer place to shop Still, never mind, I'm here now and love it - but wish I'd known about all that tooing and froing earlier. Maggi  
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