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Everything posted by tonyinfrance

  1. Having decided Sarthe was a bit too expensive for us we turned out attention to the Mayenne region, but an interesting alternative has appeared. It's a 2000sqm plot of leisure land near La Fleche with a "compact and easily managed " chalet about 40 years old.  No new building is currently permitted although it seems vaguely possible that it might be re-zoned as suitable for a second home.  There is some form of covered soakaway but no fosse septique - I understand it might be possible to obtain permission to install one.  There is no mains electricity but there is a handy solar panel array backed up by a generator. Not like a normal house then, but it has the two attributes we are most interested in - peace and quiet.  Although it lacks most of the normal comforts it can't be all bad as the current owners (with a caravan) spend several months there each year. Are there any regulatory or other issues we should be aware of? Thanks
  2. Back in the 1980s I had a business meeting one winter in Geneva so I thought the drive would be nice.  I'd spent years driving throughout Europe but in my foolishness I hadn't given enough thought to the mountain passes - one night in the dark and cold I had to put on unfamiliar snow chains which I'd borrowed from our fleet manager - they were chunky steel things, difficult to fit and they were too big!  Got down the hill allright but I stripped out my rear inner wheel arches!  That was a wake-up call and no mistake.....
  3. Hello - we're planning to come over this weekend to look at properties in the Gorron area:  can anyone recommend a hotel or gite locally?  We stayed in (I think) the IBIS in Mayenne last time but I wondered if there was anything a bit to the north.... Thanks  
  4. The Provence garden we work in uses a Bosch electric shredder - quite superb and copes with heavy duty work without complaints.
  5. The tax free element is normally 25%.  It's not always clear if additional contributions make financial sense but you can do this calculation on line.........
  6. Our local boulangerie charges E1.80 for two gros pain so that's where all our small change goes......they don't seem to mind at all.
  7. I'm not a financial adviser but my instinctive reaction would be to keep it in sterling: reading between the lines you do not have an immediate need for the money and if you can afford to tuck it away for at least a year you should be able to match inflation......
  8. Not particularly relevant to this thread but I recall another post where the local French bank manager moved a large sum from the client's current account into a notice savings account in order to give the client an improved rate of interest.  All the best intentions of course, but not too helpful when that large sum was due to make its way imminently to a Notaire for the completion of a house purchase.
  9. Older films often have the soundtrack of a car careering around a sharp bend when on-screen it's doing 15mph........
  10. Our local Intermarché has 5L plastic barrels of red/roséwhite for E7.95.  We drink the rosé in heroic quantities and haven't suffered yet....in fact it's really quite good.....
  11. Albert - we are on mains drains here so one thought was to use the pool water as a serious flush for the drains system.  We have about 8000sm of ground so draining onto an unused part of the garden would not be a problem  Today the owner came up with yet another idea: he has a fosse septique which has been unused for many years and he's thinking about using it as an irrigation reservoir.  We have access to effectively unlimited canal water so it could be filled very quickly and he was thinking of using the pool water to flush out the tank a couple of times. So many options!
  12. Albert, Baz Thanks for the advice: having said it was hot and sunny yesterday in Vaucluse (we had 27 degrees then) today we had a damned good rain storm so the pool might well get a day or two free from chlorination since no-one will be swimming for a while.  We'll check the levels and see how we look next week. Thanks again.......
  13. Any thoughts about the effects - if any - of chlorinated water on trees?  They are 4 year old conifers forming a long boundary and they could use the water (still hot and sunny in Vaucluse) but we would not like to risk damaging them. Cheers Tony
  14. The garden I'm working in has a concrete above-ground reservoir which is now used as a swimming pool with the usual chlorine treatments etc..  The owner will empty the pool (about 10 cubic metres) for the winter - can this water be used to irrigate established trees or might the water be unsuitable? Thanks for your comments.
  15. These sound like morguettes:  ordinary snail deterrents don't work so look out for a solution with the word morguettes on the packet (about £15 will do a 700sq metre area).  If they are on the lawn, a cheaper method is sulphate of iron - good for the grass, kills lawn moss and the morguettes don't like it........ Good luck
  16. Well the outbound trip was perfect: left LGW early yesterday morning & arrived on time, sailing through passport control in Marseille (something you can't take for granted at least in the summer months). Today we have clear blue skies and a good temperature so it's off to the gardening labouring tasks for us!
  17. We're on an easyjet flight tomorrow LGW to Marseille - the easyjet website indicates no probs.  However, we're booked to come back Sunday 26 - is this likely to be an issue or might we be OK?
  18. For several years running Sue and I have used the same gite just south of La Fleche (Sarthe) and we were always struck by the fact we knew more about the town than our hosts - lovely people and a super gite but practically no connection to the local environment. Sadly they sold up and the new owners are awful so now we have to find a new destination.....   
  19. Caught the tail end of a news item this morning - looks like the Norman Arrow hit a buoy on the way into Portsmouth over the weekend and service is currently suspended.  I understand the extent of the damage (if any) is unknown and there was no mention of when service might be resumed.
  20. French management style may be confrontational but it's not all one way:  in the 1980s I worked for Xerox, often in La Défense.  One of the employees was in some way dissatified with his lot so he shot the boss. Now that's what I call direct action........ (I should have added the boss was injured but not seriously)
  21. Hello Laura - we opened a CA Britline account several years ago for no other reason to obtain a French debit card for use at petrol stations and at the toll booths on the motorways.  We have been happy with the service although - as Pickles mentioned earlier - we have to pay handsomely for the two debit cards (about £45pa).  French banking is much more regionalised than UK and it helps to set up arrangements with a local bank once you have decided where to buy. Best wishes
  22. I worked in Singapore in the 80s / 90s - people said it was a fine place (you could be fined for this and fined for that!).  The rules were tough but I found it an excellently run state; in fairness, people with children (especially headstrong teenagers) were a lot less comfortable since the police had the right to detain children without immediately informing the parents. No idea if this has changed but in my wanderings around the world it was hard to think of a safer or cleaner place to be......  
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