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Pierre le Derriere

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  1. Etap Hotels offer cheap but comfortable accomodation all over France, I've used them several times.  www.etaphotels.com Nothing exciting or attractive but good clean value.   In Caen there is one in the centre opposite the railway station, just 37 euros a night per room, breakfast 5 euros.  Whilst a lot of these basic travel lodges are out on industrial estates, this one is central within walking distance of all the restaurants.     
  2. For a full and independent list of the cheapest ways to call France from the UK look at this web site - http://niftylist.co.uk/ click on calls, choose "f" for France and then landlines or mobiles. Its a good idea to regular re-check as the best deals are changing all the time. With those calls they only require you to use an access number, you can save pots of money by just typing 11 extra numbers.  What have you got to loose!  
  3. This summer, we who live or have a second home in Brittany, have a great choice of cheap flights.  With car hire at any of these airports from just £110 per week; paying for a flight and a car is an economic alternative to an expensive trip across the Channel with Brittany Ferries.   Ryanair is flying 3 times a week from London Luton to Brest. Cost from 14p plus £15.10 taxes.   FlyBe is flying up to 4 times a week from Edinburgh, Birmingham, Exeter and Southampton to Brest. Cost from £23.41 plus £20.59 taxes.   Aer Arann is flying twice a week from Cardiff to Lorient. Cost from £17.89 plus £11.62 taxes.    As most of these cheap flights will survive only on the basis of “use them or loose them”, please give them a try.  For me, travelling from Wales to Finistere, they are all so convenient!  
  4. Wireless networking can be complicated and full of jargon, but a good computer magazine can usually explain it all in simple terms.  Try PC Pro, either through the link below or at www.pcpro.co.uk and enter wireless networking in the search box.   http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/54707/how-to-set-up-a-wireless-network.html?searchString=wireless+networking+wireless+networking+network+networked+networks   Good luck.
  5. I have just returned to France using the LD Lines Ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre.  My normal route is Plymouth to Roscoff but Brittany Ferries wanted to charge me about £160 single for car, driver and a 2-berth inside cabin.  LD Lines charged only £93 for car, driver and single berth outside cabin, but suggest it’s a special offer price only available in October.   At Portsmouth the LD Lines “Norman Spirit” was docked adjacent to Brittany Ferries “Mont St Michel” and I noticed both were the same size.  The “Norman Spirit” is a large ferry capable of accommodating several hundred passengers, but for our Wednesday night sailing there were probably no more than 50 of us! I think it’s probably aiming at the “freight plus any tourist who want” market, a bit like Norfolk Lines and Transmarche.   The ship appears to have been recently refurbished and most public areas are smart.  Presently LD Lines are only offering single or four berth cabins, so it’s only suitable for travellers on their own or families.  My cabin was originally fitted with two bunk berths, but now had just a large single bed, a separate settee, full bathroom with shower, wardrobe, chest of drawers and being an outside cabin, a window, all very sumptuous for the price.   The “Norman Spirit” has about five eateries (restaurant, self service café, snack bar, fast food outlet and so on), three bars, plus a “duty free” shop and a gift shop.  Unfortunately all that was open was one café and one bar, but probably that was reasonable given the limited passenger numbers.   The crew have clearly been to a charm school; there is a mix of French and English crew, all of whom are exceedingly pleasant and do their utmost to assist in any way. I guess their jobs depend on getting people to come back on the ship again.   So overall, a good experience if you want a large ship to yourself, smart accommodation but inevitably limited facilities.  October is an unusual time to start up a new ferry service, but I suppose that’s when the route became available, as P&O withdrew.  With such limited numbers I think its likely LD Lines will make a substantial loss on sailings until next summer and it's anyone’s guess how long they are prepared to wait.  Some areas of the ship were cordoned off whilst further refurbishment work was in progress, so clearly their intention is a long term commitment and the expectation of higher passenger numbers next year.  There is no evidence they are going to be any cheaper than other routes; I think their present “no frills service” adverts are just to cover the limited facilities presently offered whilst refurbishment continues.  I recommend you give it a try if the price is right.  
  6. Likely to be a Fire Salamandar.  Sounds impressive and looks stunning, but its actually quite common in France.  We live out in a forest clearing on the Crozon Peninsula, and they regularly get into our cellar.  The spots are usually yellow, but different types, sexes or ages can vary.    
  7. Choosing a chain saw is a compromise between the size of the blade (guide and chain) and the power of the motor.  Too small a blade and you will have difficulty cutting larger logs, too small a motor and it will stop in wettish wood.  The heavier the saw the more difficult it will be to use.  Electric saws are generally quieter and more powerful (per euro spent) than petrol saws and a lot lighter.  With 50metre cable reels for sale for only a few euros, why not. Blades usually come in sizes 35cm, 40cm, and 45cms (40cms recommended).  Electric saw motors can be 1.4Kw and above (1.7Kw or more recommended). Castorama presently has an offer of an USA manufactured chain saw, 45cm with 2Kw motor for 79 euros. Download your chain saw safety information from http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/afag301.pdf            
  8. Most insurers insist on regular inspection of the property if its going to be empty for more than a couple of weeks.  But one insurer that covers you in full without lots of hassles is Schofields.  Brokers who arrange cover with a Lloyds Syndicate.  And if you need to claim, you can speak to someone in English.   In fact they advertise that their cover "does not include inconvenient security requirements that other house insurance companies insist on".   Find them at http://www.schofields.ltd.uk I have no connection with the company.  In fact I spent all my working life with Norwich Union Insurance, so you'd think I'd be able to get a good deal with them.  They told me to get lost!  
  9. For those who do not live in France but visit frequently, the new UK issued European Health Insurance Card became valid from 1st September.  The existing E111 forms expire on 31st December. You can now apply for your European Health Insurance Card online at -- https://www.ehic.org.uk For French residents the Carte Europeenne D'Assurance Maladie can also be applied for online at varous sites depending on your area, for example -- http://www.cpam-dordogne.fr/1assures/formulaire-e111.htm http://www.cpam-boulogne.fr/formulairesphp/ceam.php http://www.cpam-bordeaux.fr/commande_CEAM.htm      
  10. Why are some people still insisting on advertising Speedferries?  Yes their cheap, I've never used them but I'm told their basic.  What about Norfolkline! Norfolkline are now offering £19 single fares for cars and motorhomes, increased to £34 for mid day or more popular journeys.  Surely that's very good value. Its not basic either, big boat with lots of room, no foot passengers, shop and bar and comfy lounge with a big picture window to see where you are going. Unfortunately I usually have to travel across the Western Channel (with mega expensive Brittany Ferries) but have had an opportunity to use Norfolkline now and then.  I have no connection with the company, just a satisfied customer pleased with the excellent value offered.      
  11. I’ve just had my France Telecom ‘phone bill and been searching how to save money on my ‘phone calls back to the UK.  These seem to be the current offers, if anyone is interested.   Prices are per minute.   The service providers buy minutes in bulk and then sell them on to us users.  They change the tariff if they have to bulk buy new minutes at a new price, so you need to check the rates regularly as they change from time to time.   France Telecom UK                                € 0.12 off peak                                   € 0.22 peak UK mobiles                   € 0.34 off peak                                   € 0.44 peak   http://www.budgetelecom.fr                                          registration required UK                                € 0.055                                     UK mobiles                   € 0.37   http://www.no-limit-telecom.com                                     access number UK                                Local rates*                               0811 65 48 48               UK mobiles                   € 0.225                                       0811 65 48 48   http://www.lesminutes.com                                             registration required
  12. US English tends to be the international language of the internet, à la Microsoft, Google etc., so most French understand the English terms.  However, to be accurate:   [1] ISP = Fournisseur d’accès à Internet (although most French people will understand ISP) [2] Spamming = spam (Universal term, a French spammer is “un spammeur”) [3] Blocked = bloquer.   All of us “Wanadoo.fr” users are sick of e-mails to NTL and Tesco being bounced back, but Wanadoo don’t want to know.   
  13. The rejection of e-mails from Wanadoo France to NTL UK has been an ongoing poblem for some weeks and mentioned several times in this forum.  I have been one of those affected and have been trying to get to the bottom of it with Wanadoo France.  E-mails to Tesco.net in the UK are also affected as Tesco use the NTL servers. So far, it seems that Wanadoo.fr won't send e-mails to NTL but NTL will still send e-mails to Wanadoo.fr.  The reason, as far as I can tell, is that the large number of theoretical SPAM which NTL carries causes the Wanadoo.fr anti-SPAM software to trigger.   This may not be real NTL SPAM but just an NTL system set up that the Wanadoo.fr system set up doesn't like.  Wanadoo say "This specific error message is generated by the message servers of Wanadoo. It acts of a safety anti-Spam preventing the abusive use of the message servers of Wanadoo by Net surfers not-subscribers in Wanadoo. Wanadoo thus puts all works about it to protect you from the Spam."   That's a somewhat poor translation! I haven't spoken to NTL, I'm not a customer of theirs. Who is to blame - Wanadoo for having to stringent SPAM protection and NTL for having too much SPAM on its sytem.  Neither seems likely to do anything about the problem. Any cure - None, as far as I know.  You'll need to send e-mails to NTL through an ISP other than Wanadoo.fr.  I got around the problem by sending my e-mails from the Wanadoo.UK website, as I also have a Wanadoo UK account.  Wanadoo UK has no such problems.        
  14. Unfortunately I can't help resolve this problem, but can confirm that you are not an isolated victim.  I also have a Wanadoo France e-mail system, although on Windows XP and it simply won't speak to any of my e-mail contacts in the UK who use Tesco.net. All e-mails are bounced back after a few days saying Tesco didn't accept it, but my Tesco.net mates have no problem with any other contacts.  Any other ISP seems fine (although I don't have any contacts with ntl customers).  As I also have a Wanadoo UK account (for when I'm back in the UK in the winter) I am now having to get on to the Wanadoo UK website to e-mail my Tesco.net buddies (as Wanadoo Uk dosen't have the same problem); which is a bit of a pain! I haven't got to the bottom of it all yet but maybe it's something to do with all the websites now jamming spam?    
  15. Its certainly easy to send a fax from a computer to a fax machine (because they are both connected to a 'phone line). All you need is the correct computer software, and that's your problem. Windows 98 had a fax facility built in, but they took it out when introducing Windows XP.  So you need a fax program in your computer.  That means you have to find one buried in your existing software, or buy one and install it with a disk, or download one from a web site. Or you can use one of the variuous web sites that will send a fax for you, at a price! Nothing comes free nowadays, so you're probably going to have to pay.  Try the help menu on your computer to find any existing software you didn't know you had; visit a computer software shop or web site for a product; or check one of the web services that offer to do it for you. Assuming you just want to send one fax one time as cheap as possible, suggest you try www.tpc.int ; www.pumaone.co.uk ; www.efax.com ; or search for similar with your prefered search facility.        
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