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Everything posted by Cerise

  1. Hi Coco We don't take vegans (sorry but there are limits) but will cater for vegetarians usually by giving them almost the same.  Things that spring to mind are vegetarian curry, but with tandoori chicken on the side for us carnivores, or pasta in tomato, red pepper and bean sauce with spicy sausages in the meat eaters portion.  If you are doing chops, steak, magret then you can find excellent veggie tarts in supermarket (Marie is name I can think of) and simply cook one of those instead of steak for that person.  I have found it works OK without too much extra bother.  If we have more than one veggie then everyone has meatless - even my other half who doesn't consider a meal without meat food!! Although there is a great scarcity of vegetarian food in local restaurants, I have telephoned a couple who have been sympathetic and now I have an arrangement with one local place that they will do veggie meals if I call them before hand.  That might be worth doing if only to get them out one or two nights. Last year we had a family - mother vegetarian, father didn't like veg and 'orrible infants would only eat fish fingers - at the end of the week I thought I would go mad!!  I find fussy kids worse to cater for than vegetarians. Good luck Maggi     
  2. My big Hachette dictionary gives 'marché spécialisé' for niche market and French friend who works in banking agrees. Hope that helps Maggi  
  3. There are a number of kitcheny type places on the Puygouzon estate just outside Albi - including Lepeyre and Hygena.  Don't know what they are like.  We got plain wood units, which you can stain/paint/do whatever with from Bricorama also at Puygouzon.  Worth asking a local macon about stone worktops.   Maggi
  4. Actually, I'm finding the same thing as Ann - we have always had loads of enquiries (and bookings) from Visit France, but suddenly - zilch.  I update the wretched thing and the calendar and we seem to get the same number of people looking at the site, but recently no enquiries.  I am getting a bit paranoid in case they are not getting through as I can't believe we have suddenly become less attractive.  They are certainly alive and well as they have just sent me a new invoice - but since the site has changed things don't seem the same and I wonder if the site is functioning correctly.  I will make some enquiries and see if I get a response. Maggi
  5. Hi Miki Arnold et al When I said surprising, I wasn't criticising - just that I have found that what guests want are not technological things but more personal service. The things which work for us (don't mind sharing) are offering picnic bags and ice packs, the fridge, a place to put and clean dirty walking boots and hiking stuff, preparing itineraries for people, offering ideas for days out and helping plan them, books and magazines, involving people in local events (which often means going with them) and lots of personal service.  We have plenty of sitting places both in rooms and elsewhere.  Guests often complain that in other places they have stayed there was nowhere to sit and write a postcard.  We also offer beach towels, as we have a beach on our river and often people are not prepared.  I might say that some of said towels are not in the first flush of youth, but people are delighted to have towel to take to the river with them.  When people book I ask if there is anything special they would like to do for their holiday and try to have relevant info available when they arrive or pre-book things for them.  We try to spend time with the guests when they arrive and do things to make life easy for them.  I personally find that they like that and so far we have not had anyone demand TV or DVD even in winter. I appreciate that everyone's experience is different, but think that in this very busy world we are living in it is often little things that matter more than large expensive ones. Incidentally, Arnold, the latest thing that has really pleased people is postcards with the stamps already on. I bought some from the local chateau society (so they benefit) stuck ordinary stamps on and they are selling well at a euro each.  I don't make money - but the local society does - and the guests think it great that they can simply buy write and post card without too much effort.  Quite surprised even me how popular they are. Good luck to you all - whatever works for you. Maggi www.les-cerisiers.net
  6. I am a bit amazed by these replies.  Are you lot B & Bs or  hotels?  Our house is also our home and I don't have TVs DVDs etc in our bedrooms?  Yes, it is very comfortable and I take things like reading lights for granted - we do also have kettles as many people like early morning tea or coffee (even the French I find), but I think our clientele are looking for a relaxed homely experience, not hi-tech corporate hospitality.  We have a DVD player and video in the lounge and there is a shop in the village which rents DVDs if anyone should require it, plus many people bring a couple of videos for their kids.  Maybe I am wrong, but I am not trying to compete with chain hotels.  We have a separate fridge for guests which is in our downstairs hallway and we keep a large supply of water there.  I put a bottle in room before arrival and thereafter people help themselves.  We haven't found that people abuse this facility.  We have plenty of books and keep guidebooks, maps etc in a bookcase in the hall so that anyone may borrow them.  Again, maybe we are lucky but not only have we not lost any, but one or two guests have added to the collection.  I suppose safes are an idea, but the guests have keys for their bedrooms and the house, as I said before, is our home so our own rooms are not locked.  We only have four rooms so it's not too hard to know who is supposed to be here. We live in our B & B ourselves and try to treat our paying guests as we would our friends.  I realise this may not work for everybody - but on the whole it does for us.  The day my home turns into an identikit hotel, I quit! Maggi www.les-cerisiers.net  
  7. You don't say how many people you are likely to have, but the water looks a bit on the low side to me - people on holiday spend their whole time in the shower!!   Also pools require topping up.  If you have a well get it working for watering the garden. You also need to allow a decent budget for replacing things like pillows, towels etc as it surprising how quickly you get through them. I wouldn't rely too heavily on someone else's figures - try to make a few enquiries locally and see how many weeks occupancy other gites in the area have. You seem to have thought it out well - best of luck. Maggi  
  8. You could find out if there is a laverie (laundry) in the village.  Don't take it for granted that there isn't because you can't see it - in our village the garage owner's wife is the agent and they charge 3 euros per kilo for towels, sheets etc.   All washed dried, ironed and returned ready for storage.  Our gardener charges 12 euros per hour cheque emploi service (which means we actually pay about 18.00 an hour). Ask around, there are usually plenty of people doing gite changeovers etc.  If there is a branch of the ADMR (home help service) locally you may be able to employ a gardener through them and they will also probably know someone who does gite changeovers. Good Luck Maggi  
  9. In our particular part of the Midi Pyrenées EVERYBODY dances.  I am astounded as I see spotty 'yoofs' take to the floor with Grandmère and my poor husband is horrified as he is dragged off by large elderly ladies to do a 'waltz' which is more like a mad polka. Last weekend went to the Valentine's dance for the Auto retro club to which we belong.  Unlike English evenings there was much dancing all night long - age range was 20 - 80 and everyone danced between courses (should that be inter-course dancing?)   We were the only 'anglais' and the other members were surprised to hear that we rarely danced at meetings of the Triumph club back in the UK. Next weekend the twinning dance - for some bizarre reason our village is twinned with a village in Chile - when we may be able to see how the pompiers are getting on with their tango lessons!!   It all happens here I can tell you. Maggi    
  10. Hi It's at Millau a little way out of town on the Albi side.  Lovely day out and you can go to the Roquefort cheese caves nearby as well.  About an hour's  drive from Albi.   Viewing platform up a winding road just the other side of bridge near the Intermarche, and Visitors Centre half way up the bridge (on the ground) with film about building and photography area. Hope that helps.   Maggi
  11. We're up for it too - if it is only for B & B.  Nothing against gites and their owners, but I've found that B & B ads simply disappear on sites mostly aimed at gites. Please make joining simple as I struggle badly with things like resizing photos - I was not born technical!! Maggi www.les-cerisiers.net
  12. We have got through about 1000 litres in the same amount of time for our 6 bed house - but have had the heating on a lot as we have had quite a few B & B guests.  We get oil slightly cheaper as our enterprising neightbour organises buying whold tanker full for all the houses locally and we get 'bulk buy' price (10,000 litres I think)  Worth considering if you have a few other houses close who would be willing to go in with you. Our heater is on programmer so we can decided when it is on and off and also temperature, but we also have manual thermostat in the hall so that we can turn down if everyone goes out or up if people arrive back unexpectedly. Maggi  
  13. Hi Jazzie I ran boarding kennels in UK for a number of years.  I don't know much about the regulations in France, but they are very strict in UK and getting stricter all the time.  If you have never run kennels I'd be more than happy to share my experiences with you.  I would say, that it is a very difficult way to earn money as it is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and most people want to leave their dogs during the holiday periods.  Dogs have to be cared for every day - you can't get up late on Sundays or give it a miss on Xmas day! In the UK at least - and probably here - the licencing conditions state that there must be a competent adult on the premises at all times, so unless you can afford a lot of staff you are very tied.  Building new kennels also means you must comply with all the licencing regulations immediately.  if you take over existing kennels which are not up to scratch you may not be allowed to open until they are, or have only a short period to do all the work.  In France it is also possible that you may need qualifications (not sure about that, but they do exist). If you want more info, please feel free to get in touch. Best wishes Maggi
  14. Poor SB - having been told I am 'too old' to have a real job in France I sympathise. Like Alexis, I have 'lost' a few of the jobs I had years ago and have often conveniently 'forgotten' certain aspects of my life - like my age or the fact that I am married!!  However, that was in the UK. Still, if you have cleaned your own house, I think you can honestly say that you have experience as 'femme de ménage' and you can easily say you had a Saturday job in a fruit and veg shop in UK (now conveniently closed down).  I don't think it pays to be too honest.  I always used to be, and watched as other people lied their way past me.  Nowadays I think if it comes to re-submitting CVs I'll be a bit more 'creative'. Good luck in your search. Maggi      
  15. I'm with Miki on this one, we get hardly any requests for twin beds and even though we have a twin room mostly only gets used for children.  You can, however, get twin beds which clip together somehow (don't ask me the technical bits) making a double when necessary - and even if slightly more expensive think that would give you the best of both worlds.  Just a suggestion. Maggi  
  16. As someone who has done what you are thinking of doing, I have to say if you need to borrow DON'T DO IT.  We sold up in UK to buy here (in our forties) and although things are OK we can only get by because we don't owe any money. Rooms without en-suite are a no go area.  Once you start putting in bathrooms you'll probably notice it needs re-wiring or something like that and end up spending twice as much as you thought (you'll do that anyway).  You would have to build up a clientele, which takes time, and if the place has been closed for a while there may not be any existing trade.  If you really like the property, get an objective friend and a hard headed builder to come round with you and say exactly what needs doing, and how much it will cost, before you commit yourselves.  It's always worth asking for some money off if they are selling as a B & B on the grounds that it needs updating. I think Quillan's estimate of 20000 euros is realistic and don't forget you have the running costs associated with a large house - heating etc. It is very hard work, but we enjoy it, so no reason why you shouldn't too. Good luck Maggi  
  17. We have registered our TR6 here and their are other club members in the area who have Spitfire and MG.  Not particularly difficult, just tedious.  Get certifcate de conformité from the car's manufacturers (or who ever bought them out) - the relevant English club will advise if you don't know who this is - cost about 120 euros.  Get VAT exemption certifcate from the impot office in prefecture town - for this you will need a receipt for the car and English log book plus mileage (or kilometrage)  it is free, but I don't recommend going just before closing time.  Get controle technique - you must have cert. de conformité first. get insurance.  Take whole bundle to Prefecture and register as normal.  It is cheaper to register as voiture de collection, but no need to do so and don't recommend it as it means you can only use your car in your department and adjoining ones.  Only advantage of doing so is you don't need 2 yearly CT. Hope that is some help   Maggi
  18. Took back my expensive and incorrectly mixed, therefore wrong colour, paint to Brico Depot.   "Non madame" it is not the paint, it is your wall.  After the full 15 minute argument (to quote Monty Python) I tried another tack and said that, whilst I was sure that none of their wonderful staff had incorrectly mixed my paint, could it be that there was a problem with the non-Fench mixing machine?   Smiles all round, "of course, foreign machines are notoriously unreliable!"  - immediate replacement of paint.  You see it is simply never their fault. Maggi
  19. Your escargots are positively speedy.  We finally got our "Acte", plus the bit of leftover money they owed us, in Nov 2004 having signed in Oct 2002.  And, before anyone asks, I did chase it up regularly. Keep on asking them to get their "Acte" together! Maggi    
  20. I would endorse what both Miki and Quillan have to say - but as someone who is doing their best to make a living from Chambres D'Hotes I would not like to be too discouraging for Kim. I think it is possible but only if you really WORK.  We are trying to specialise in holidays for small groups e.g. photographers, walkers and we set up days out etc for our guests, pick people up from restaurants so that they don't have to drive, as well as cook, clean etc.  It is also important to have an all year round clientele and enough money to get started and tide you over until you start earning.  Last year we had clients when other establishments in the area were empty, but we have worked hard at advertising. I speak good French and approximately 40% of our guests have been French and, if I say so myself, we put a lot of effort into it.  Having said that we both enjoy what we are doing and hope that we will be successful.  In the past few weeks, however, I have been approached by no less than 4 people in the area asking me about running B&B and all of them have thought that they could simply hang up a sign and people would arrive.  They have also given no thought to such things as the quantity of linen required, the long hours spent cleaning and ironing, and they have all been under the impression that it is a doddle.  I find it amazing that so many people expect something for nothing - and also that they expect me to help them set up down the road!! That said, I am eternally grateful to the people who gave me help and encouragement, but I was bright enough not to ask people on my own doorstep.  By the way the other half was previously a purveyor of quality used vehicles - so has he just gone from one dodgy trade to another? Suggest, Kim, that you print off the Gites de France regulations - even if you don't advertise with them it will give you an idea of the rules and regs and standards required.  Chat to whoever is responsible for tourism in your area and think about all possible avenues for advertising. Good luck if you decide it is really for you.   Maggi    
  21. Sorry but can't bear all the junk so I will continue in my irresponsible ways (I do keep important business paperwork).  My point is - businesses apart - do you actually know anyone who needs all this old rubbish.  My dearly beloved nearly always forgets to fill in cheque stubs so a fine use they would be anyway!! Yours frivolously Maggi
  22. I'm afraid I'm very wicked and still bin loads of stuff as I did in UK.  No-one seems to know why they keep things here and no-one can tell me of anyone they know who has ever needed their 5 year old telephone bill - so into the bin it goes. Maggi
  23. Hello Nigel Don't give up the dream so easily!! If it's what you really want to do, why do you have to buy a house?   With your 100,000 euros you could put 75,000 in the bank - rent something small for a year (say 6000 euros) and still have enough to live on for the first year.  If you managed to get jobs, find cheap house to buy etc all would be well.  If not, well you haven't lost much and your money in bank would still get you a deposit back in the UK if you change your mind. Nobody of working age can really afford to sit round all day looking at their vines (mine need pruning as I write) but if you are working independently in UK then taking a year out would not matter too much and you could try the lifestyle.   If you did manage to get jobs reasonably quickly, you wouldn't even spend the remaining 19,000. Put that way it doesn't sound so scary and if you don't like it, well at least you tried. Good luck, whatever you decide Maggi  
  24. Cerise

    Dog Disease Risks

    Generally speaking, yes they are protected if innoculated, but in some dogs the level of protection drops when jabs are due and unless you constantly test titre level it is difficult to know which dog.  Therefore, better safe than sorry.  I agree my own dogs like rainwater out of something grottty.  Incidentally, info from kennel days, unwashed water bowls are frequent cause of tummy upsets. Maggi
  25. Don't want to discourage you as everyone should have a go at their dream, but do think you should have some savings to live on for at least a year.  Unless you want to greatly reduce your standard of living you will need at least 1500 euros a month (without mortgage).  Many of my French friends do live on less than that, I know, but they never go anywhere or have any luxuries at all.  I am not saying that you can't live cheaply, but do you really want to move to another country only to scrimp and save all the time.  Everyone is different, but personally I was not prepared to live in a house without decent heating and facilities and worry all the time about where the next meal is coming from. We too have just spent our 3rd Xmas here and we do not have a pension, a home in UK or any other source of income - unlike the majority of our English acquaintances.  We are just about managing to earn a living running our B & B but it is hard work and we will never be well off.  We managed to buy a house quite cheaply but spent more than the same again doing it up - and we did most of the work ourselves.  If we had had to employ others to do it, we could not have afforded it. I think, realistically, your main problem will be work.  I speak fluent French but do not have qualifications that the French can relate to (the system is very different) and have also been told that at 50 I am frankly too old - that hurt I can tell you.  Unless you have lots of translatable 'diplomes' it is difficult.  My husband has worked very hard at learning French - 5 hours a week of college - but although he can get by he is by no means fluent (certainly couldn't read a novel for example) and I do not know anyone who is, after only a year.  We live north of Toulouse and in the countryside there are not a great number of people who can afford private music lessons - however, if your wife based herself near the city where there are large numbers of English people and an International school, she might find pupils.  Worth asking at the Chambre de Commerce/Metiers as they may know of opportunities. All that said, I wish you luck if it is what you really want to do do.  When we moved here people thought we were mad as the majority of English people here are well-off and retired.    We love our life - even on the much reduced income - and are glad we made the move although only time will tell if we can afford to remain. Bonne Chance Maggi    
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