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Everything posted by Andyphilpott

  1. There are several good money brokers out there who will do this. I have used Currencies Direct 0207 813 0332 when I bought my house  and they were very effecient and easy to use. Minimum payment is around £5000 I think. For small amounts I use Moneybookers.com and  for larger amounts I use http://www.4xcc.com/index.shtm who I have also found to be good. With them you can fix the rate as it moves on the screen which gives you certainty. You just sign up and keep watching it then fix when you think the rate is OK Andy
  2. Have a look at Collobrieres (Var) which is between Marseille and Nice, is up in the hills but only 45 minutes from the Med. I believe that there are villas for hire there. If you can get a flight to Hyeres (Toulon St Tropez) that is even closer. Several restaurants, excellent walking and if your climbers don't mind a drive - or maybe a night away - there is the Verdon Gorge not too far away. There is (I think) also climbing to be had behind Marseille and Toulon. The local vigneron does wine by the bottle, in the box or en vrac (pumped out into your own containers and very cheap that way) Andy
  3. I read an article at the weekend by Carol Drinkwater who regularly has wwoofer's at her olive farm. Given her appearance at the France Show maybe Living France could ask her for some input? Andy
  4. Just back from the show and I have to say that, for my wife and I, it was disappointing. In contrast to previous years, not that many visitors either although maybe that will pick up on Saturday. Seemed to me to be dominated by property agencies and food/wine with very little representation from the Regional french Tourist boards. The national French Tourist Board was there and you could buy all sorts of saucisson and fromage - even the Great British Sausage!!! We attended one of the Novelli demo's which was good but poorly attended, and also enjoyed listening to Carol Drinwater talking about her books, but even with those we were in and out in a couple of hours having seen all that we were interested in. No doubt the show will be good for those looking to buy a place in France (and XE.com gives a rate of 1.13 as of now so that will help). Andy Philpott
  5. Spot on - thanks very much. Now printed! Andy
  6. I ordered free tickets ages ago using the usual link and have had updates as to the businesses attending since but no tickets yet. Anyone else in that position? Andy
  7. We too had no problem in opening an account in France before we purchased. I must say we did not consider the falling under a bus scenario and agree that in that event there could be problems. Depending on the interest return on the deposit there might be tax considerations too but I am no expert in that field. One thing to remember if you put the money into an English bank in Euros is that I am fairly sure they will make significant charges to then transfer it to a French Bank when/if you do buy somewhere in France. Andy
  8. Out of choice, neither would I, but the problem is when booking with an agent like Holiday Autos you don't really have much choice. Some time ago you could e mail them to request a particular supplier after you had booked but even that seems to have died off. I know that they do not use Hertz at Toulon - probably as they get cheaper rates from the others. The only alternative is to book direct with the supplier and I will often do that if the price difference is not too huge. Andy
  9. Update on last hire. I used Holiday Autos for my booking for a car at Marseille airport and the supplier was National/Citer. At the desk they indicated that there were scratches on the front and rear bumpers - anyone seen a car in France without such damage!!! - no problem. When I checked the car not only were the wheel trims also damaged from scuffing the kerb but the roof was covered with large dents! Funny that they had not noticed that! I wonder how many people have paid for that damage so far! I made them note it all on the hire form. As I said before, check everything and trust no-one. Andy
  10. Regardless of the supplier I always check the car before I drive off - pitch black, pouring with rain - whatever. In most of the compounds there is a lighted area even if just for security lighting. If all fails I make them come out with a torch (only once!) Don't trust any of them an inch is my view. I once collected a car from Europcar which was supposedly in perfect condition. When I drove it to a lighted area to check, virtually the whole length of the passenger side had been scraped to the extent that the trim was knocked off. Did they apologise? Not likely! As far as Hertz is concerned I have had some minor damage occasionally and they have not bothered about it (so far). I don't always use them - I often book via Holiday Autos if they have a significantly cheaper deal - but have had no problem to date. In addition I take out an annual damage waiver policy with http://www.insurance4carhire.com/ and that covers me for any damage, including that which is generally excluded by the damage waiver policies which the car hire people sell - e.g windscreen. At a cost of £49 for Europe it costs me less than insuring each time (even with Holiday Autos at £2.50 per day) given the number of times I hire a year. If there is not too much in the price I tend to go for Hertz as the No 1 Club service is excellent. Last time I hired from them (Oct at Toulon) I had the car keys and was on my way in less than 2 minutes!! Andy PS I have no connection with ANY of the businesses mentioned here!!!
  11. You can also download traffic cameras as points of interest either from TomTom or from http://www.pocketgpsworld.com/ which I prefer at a cost of around £20 a year. They cover all of Europe. With pocketgpsworld you can also dowload voice warnings instead of bells and whistles but only for UK cameras. It tells you, for example, "Gatso ahead" and the speed limit so that you can make sure that you are driving safely! A bit fiddly when you first download the POI but after that it is simplicity itself. I have a TomTom 910 and have just bought my wife a TomTom One XL which is a huge improvement on the 910 - works much the same in a very user friendly way but the unit is slimmer (and fits in your pocket) and the screen mount is much better.It is also very much less expensive. Only downside is that it has only Western Europe mapping but that is all I need at present. The 910 can have other maps added so when I next go to Australia I will either download it on the 910 or get an SD expansion card for the ONE. Andy    
  12. I am no expert but it seems to me that you will need to get finance until you sell the existing property. We used to have bridging loans in the UK - maybe some banks still do them, but with the current market maybe not. Not sure what the French banks would do. In any event at best they would only lend a proportion of the value and the interest and other costs could well outweigh the cost of renting. You could, subject to status, apply for a mortgage on the new property, and put a 'clause suspensive' in the purchase contract so that if you did not get the mortgage you could pull out of the purchase. If you have set your heart on the new place that will not leave you feeling very pleased but at least you would not be out of pocket. To be honest, if I were in your position I would follow the line outlined in your final paragraph; although you would obviously prefer not to go down that route it is the only one which will give you a degree of certainty and peace of mind! Andy
  13. At Toulon you have to swap your home printed on line check in boarding pass for a normal one. They have them all printed and available just before you board the plane - after you have been through security etc. No idea why they do this though. Flights to and from Toulon have stopped for the winter so I will need to go via Mareseille until the Spring. Part of the cost cutting, but with a fare of £28 return next month, including the £4 each way credit card fee, I am content to put up with that. Andy
  14. Spexmaniacs appear to be no more! Having had a new prescription I went to order new specs but their web site is dead. I now use www.glassesforless.co.uk and the first pair were fine so I have now ordered my bulk supplies. If ordering more than one pair e mail them and they will give you a 10% discount. Also the delivery charge is only £3.50 per order (not per pair) Andy
  15. Had an e mail from Hertz today (I am a member of their No1 Club) and they have 20% of all bookings until Dec if booked by close of play on 4 September. Andy Philpott
  16. Hi Helen - in the areas I walk (the Var) it is all wide open spaces so I do not seem to have the problems with narrow hemmed in paths. You are right about the paths - Having planned walks on the PC and loaded them onto my GPS I very often find that I have to be inventive when it comes to actually walking them! I download the track from the GPS back onto the digital map after the walk and it is amazing how many rivers/cliffs/unmarked paths I appear to have walked on. As long as you expect inaccuracy you will not go too far wrong. The problem with using walks from books only arises if you get lost! The GPS will tell you exactly where you are within around 30 metres usually, and you can use the IGN map to locate that and reorientate yourself. My Garmin GPS can be set up to work on the same grid as the IGN Map (in the same way that it can for the GB OS Grid) which is better than Lat/Long as it is a smaller grid and easier to read. Someone else has pointed out that much depends on how recently the map was made; on one of my walks someone has clearly bought up a load of land and has arbitrarily diverted the footpath so it is no longer as shown on the map. And that is on one of the Grand Randonee paths - is nothing sacred?? The varying age of the maps accounts for the odd colour changes in te digital mapping. Another problem we have in the Var and also behind Marseille and Cassis is that in summer many paths are closed due to the fire risk. Having said that it is usually so hot then that walking is not a pleasure! Andy  
  17. I too use the IGN 1:25000 maps - both paper and the electronic versions. The maps are not (imo) the same quality as UK OS maps, both in terms of the strength of the paper and  the details, but are certainly good enough for hiking etc. On the digital maps where different areas overlap there is often a weird colour change due to the different dates on which the paper versions were produced - the digital versions are created from the paper ones. I can recommend Memory Map software for the digital maps. I originally had the French equivalent software (cannot recall the name) but had a number of problems with that which took ages to sort out - frequent compatibility issues which were eventually sorted out by the supplier providing me with updated CD's. However Having updated my UK digital OS maps with Memory Map I then took the plunge and ordered their French maps as they had just got a licence from IGN to produce them. As the instructions are in English they were easier to load and to use. They also have a good forum for any questions which do occur. I work out routes on my PC in the UK and can then download them to my French PC when I go there. The most advantageous thing for me is to then be able to download the route to my GPS unit which supplements my map and compass and makes route finding very much easier. As I often walk in the mountains alone when trying out these routes it is also an added safety measure. The GPS records the track actually walked so it is a simple matter to download the track from the GPS to the PC to check the actual track taken against the route originally plotted - it is not at all unusual to find that the route you had planned is impractical for some reason or another - and then revise the route so it is more accurate next time. Andy
  18. Seems to be good practice to have these anyway, but I wonder what the position will be with hired cars? Will all hirers supply warning triangles (if not travelling with just hand baggage  will be interesting!!!!!!!!!!!!) and reflective jackets? Andy
  19. Does anyone know what a talweg is? It appears in guide books on mountain walking on the lines of 'head towards the 'talweg'. It does not even sound like a French word and I have not found it in any of my dictionaries. I have looked at wikipedia and the translation might be something like 'valley path' but I would be interested to learn if anyone knows for sure. Thanks Andy
  20. I have only just seen this post hence the delay in responding! I have now used Ebbsfleet a couple of times - I live not far away and the Eurostar shop in Blue Water was offering 2 for one tickets so we took daytrips to Paris and Lille. Excellent service although the station at Lille leaves much to be desired! For Paris it was definitely quicker than flying taking in all aspects of the journey. There is plenty of parking at Ebbsfleet and also buses running there regularly.  At the time I travelled the ticket included use of the local bus to get you there but as our trip was early morning we did not risk that. When the station opens for commuter traffic (later this year I think) the situation could be different! However with car parking charges of £11.50 a day (yes that is correct!) it will dissuade many. Maybe they will use the free parknig at Blue Water and take the bus! Inside the station the pre boarding area is small - just about enough space for travellers on Eurostar to France but I do not know how they will cope with other traffic. There is a small news shop and a tiny coffee shop which is totally inadequate - and expensive. The Eurostar staff are very cheerful and helpful compared with normal BR. Andy  
  21. Anton your comments have sparked a thought in my mind and that is that the fees charged by Ryanair both for credit card payments and for changes to flight details are indeed penalties as you say. It follws that it  must be somewhat akin to the charges made by banks for overdrafts which have been held to be unfair and on which there are court cases running. The processing charge for credit cards is usually a % of the amount of the transaction as far as I recall and not a fixed sum. I could understand a charge per booking (if it was reasonable) but a charge per person does seem way out of order. Maybe once there is a decision on the bank cases the OFT might take an interest but even if the charge is unfair and has to be withdrawn I am sure O'Leary will find a way to make it up! Andy
  22. I have always used Holiday Autos and they have been good, but recently I used Expedia and got a great deal with Hertz via them. If you hire a car regularly and want to protect the excess, instead of paying a daily amount to the hire companies, you can get an annual insurance policy to cover it from www.insurance4carhire.com I paid £49 + IPT for 12 months cover last October for European cover and it seems to cover more than the hire companies agreements do. I have not yet had to claim though! You need to work out the figures to see if it is worthwhile for you. Andy
  23. Matt - absolutely right. Most mornings and evenings 70 on almost any part of the M25 is purely aspirational! Now they want to build another bridge near the Dartford bridge, possibly nearer Gravesend, to cut congestion. It does not seem to have occurred to them that the tolls are the cause of much of that congestion! Of course it is nothing to do with the enormous revenue which they generate!!! Andy
  24. Having re- read my previous post it was not very clear. Pagnol mentioned the A2 alternative but I expect that will get congested too due to people avoiding the A20 so allowing extra time as suggested is the only real option Andy
  25. Thanks for the warning pagnol. I wonder if it will be any easier going via the A2 to the port? Mind you I doubt that I will be the only one avoiding the A20 so probably the congestion will affect the A2 regardless! I am going down to the port in the middle of March and will see what transpires. I fear your prediction will be spot on. Andy
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