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Everything posted by Coco

  1. LAST EDITED ON 31-May-04 AT 04:59 PM (BST) Can't help Sassy, just wanted to commiserate! We came over on 8th June 1994 so just missed all the 50th celebrations. ALL of the villages in the area had bunting in the streets, international flags etc etc. Looked like we'd just missed one MASSIVE street paty. This year, unless it's all going up at the last minute, no one seems to be making much effort at all!!! This year, thanks to all the wonderful terrorist organisations, the restrictions are horrendous and it is totally IMPOSSIBLE to get anywhere NEAR anything that is going on. It's such a shame; not just us onlookers, but for many of the Vets themselves. We visited the Pegasus Bridge museum back in February and spoke to the permanent RAF guy who is based there. He told us of everything that will be going on during the 5th and 6th June and it sounded wonderful. He told us that every year almost all of the surviving Veterans from Major Howard's company made the trek back and enjoyed spending the day around the bridge and chatting to all the visitors in attendance. He was obviously expecting the same for this year as he told us to come along. NOT A CHANCE!! The whole area is cordoned off. In "Ouest France" on Saturday there was a map of the area that is prohibited to traffic next Sunday and it is a massive area from Grandcamp Maisy in the west to Ouistreham in the east and way, way, inland, south of Bayeux. We were discussing it at lunch today with friends and the general feeling was that perhaps most of the 17 Heads of State that are scheduled to come would be better to deflate their own egos and stay away. I know that the royal family if not particularly popular these days but many, many Veterans are staunch royalists and would rather do a march-past the Queen and Prince Charles than Tony Blair and George Bush any day. After all, the Queen was around then too - what does old Tone know of it all! And the security must be costing an absolute FORTUNE. There are something like 9000 French troops, 1700 GI's, 4000 gendarmes, 2500 policiers, god knows how many helicopters, frigates and a couple of aircraft carriers already patrolling the area and this is all being stepped up dramatically from Tuesday onwards. In one way I am glad that the Veterans will be well protected. In another, terribly sad that they will feel that nothing much has changed since they were last here. And they are very unlikely to come into contact with the general public - 1000's of French who want to welcome them, and as for the Brits who have booked months ago to stay in the area - well they will be as disappointed as Sassy's son. What sad times we live in. we were hoping to watch the firework display at 11.15pm on the 5th but I now have my doubts about whether we could get anywhere near the coast to see this either. If ALL traffic is banned from 6am on the 6th, then it seems pointless to let all and sundry in until gone midnight the night before. How on earth could they recheck the whole area again in time for the ceremonies if it is going to be a free-for-all to watch the fireworks? Sadly, VERY sadly, I think that although we are only 40 minutes away, we, like those who are interested in the UK will be relegated to watching it on TV. Hey Sassy, small compensation, but les Fleurs de la Memoire (perhaps your son would like to join - I know you live in the American sector) have asked all members to place flowers on as many Allied graves as possible on the 7th June. Perhaps your son could help with that. I have some donations for flowers (from generous LF members) and shall be buying as many as I can on Saturday, to place on as many Allied graves at the cemetry in Beny Bocage on Monday. We now have quite a little group of us going, including an English lady with a holiday home here who is also an ordained Anglican priest, so we may even have our own mini remembrance service! Coco
  2. I've got that "Starting and Running a B&B in France". Some of it is quite useful but a lot of the "facts" are totally wrong! As far as I'm aware you don't have to pay Gites de France anything if you are taking the bookings yourself and not using their booking service (but Miki will be able to answer that better than me). And as for not being able to make a living out of it - well we can't but that's because we only have 2 bedrooms. It also depends on what kind of lifestyle and family you have. If you have two or three kids I don't suppose you could but from our experiences last year (first year) and so far this year, if we had two more rooms I think we could just about get by. There are only two of us and we don't have a mortgage, don't want exotic holidays, only run one car etc etc. Coco
  3. Not a totally daft idea Chris. I've thought of it myself but stopped thinking almost as soon as I started. Firstly, like you, I know nowhere near enough about it yet. And secondly, do I want to encourage people to set up in competition to me? Now here's a thought. You can advertise in the south west (I know, it's supposedly the SE but I can't get to grips with that) for people interested in starting up a B&B on the NE and I will advertise for people to come to me in Normandy who want to start up in the SE. Perhaps we'd better put the idea on hold for a couple of years til we have a bit more experience under our belts - by which time the property market in the UK will have crashed, so no one will have any dosh to do it, or the B&B market in France will be well and truly flooded so no potential left! C'est la vie. Coco
  4. It was a nice change whilst in Beaujolais this week to be offered an alternative to a Kir as an aperatif. The first place we went to we offered a Communard (chilled Beaujolais with mur and cassis) very refreshing, with a bitter sweet taste. I asked if it was unique to Beaujolais and the waitress told me that it was not, that further down the Rhone we would be offered the same but made with Cotes du Rhone, or further north with Bourgogne. I never quite believe this things though. The next day, next restaurant I scanned the menu for a Communard and of course, it wasn't there. There was, however, a Republicain. On asking what it was I was told it was Beajolais and cassis (no Mure this time) Again, very nice. Now am I going to look a fool if I ask for either of these anywhere other than Beaujolais, or do they perhaps have a different name? Coco
  5. What is it with me and bank holidays? I have lovely guests all year round then as soon as a bank holiday comes along so do all the no-show b******s! We had a guy from the Caribean book for seven nights, arriving tonight, who couldn't send me a deposit because he had neither a euro or sterling account and I don't take credit cards. Last Thursday I turned away two Belgian couples who wanted 4 nights over this bank holiday weekend who I had to turn away as I already had Richard in one of my two rooms. On Saturday he very casually sent an email to say that he had changed his itinerary and will now be spending a few nights in St Malo (I hope you haven't pinched him Miki!!) and some time in Honfleur and will stop off with me for one night en route. He's not sure WHICH night yet, he'll let me know when he's decided. Oh WILL he - Well I think I will just happen to be FULL. Having this happen once (last August 15th weekend) was unfortunate, TWICE definitely needs corrective action, especially as this year I am getting lots of US and Aussie enquiries, and I will obviously come across the same deposit problem time and again. Can anyone give me an idea of how much it costs in France to get one of those hand-held machines? Is there a set-up charge and a monthly hire charge for the machine? I think it's only about 0.5% commission per transaction, is that right? If I get one from my bank will I have to open a new business account or will I be able to use my current personal one? And of course, do you have to pay more for a business account? Any guidance much appeciated. BTW I am currently with Credit Agricole and have never experienced any problems with them at all (although I know they seem to be hated on this forum) We also have a local Societe General and a Credit Mutuel, are any of those better for this particular purpose? Coco
  6. I think you were diddled. As were we, I might add! A couple of years ago whilst at our house on holiday (before we lived here) a "passing" sweep knocked on the door and behaved in exactly the same way. Had to borrow dustpan and brush, rubbish sacks etc etc. As soon as they were inside I had my suspicions so watched them like a hawk. They gave us a "proper" receipt with the name of a "ramonage" company on it. However, we later realised that the receipt was for a company in somewhere in north Mayenne and their car plates were 44 (Loire Atlantique) Also seemed a long way from home as we're in central Manche. I don't think we paid as much as 70 euros, nearer 50 I think. It did concern me a bit afterwards as you hear about people doing this sort of thing to to a "reccie" on your property and belongings. From that point of view I felt pretty safe. It was a holiday home and contained nothing worth pinching! I bet they were pretty disappointed too!!! Coco
  7. I was listening to Radio 4 a few days ago and they said that the following day they would have an article on the launch of a new "No frills" ferry company working on similar lines to the cheap airlines. Unfortunatley I missed the programme. Does anyone know anything about this? Was it perhaps about Transmanche? Or is there a new one? Is is just the short crossings, or the western Channel too? Coco
  8. LAST EDITED ON 30-Apr-04 AT 09:19 PM (BST) Can you believe this?!?!?! I took a booking for 4th to 7th June (D-Day weekend) from a family of Parisians in February. Tonight I have had an email from them asking for a reduction because they are staying three nights or otherwise they would all like to sleep in the same room (parents, 7 year old kid and grand-parents). Fortunately they've already paid (and I've cashed) a 100 deposit. But it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I have gone back and said "no way jose" I think I have turned away about 30+ requests since they booked both my rooms and fortunately I still have all the email addresses on my computer. Thank goodness I've had 100 off them. I could end up MAKING money out of the situation if they decide to cancel. Has anyone heard of this kind of thing before; people booking, then trying to get a discount closer to the time? Coco
  9. Did you know that a 10 year passport is only valid in the EU for 9 years 9 months? And in the rest of the world for 9 years 6 months? So why is it called a ten year passport? A friend who recently went to the UK for five days was advise that she only had 4 months to run on her passport. Fine she said, so I have 4 months, I'm only coming over for 5 days. "Ahhh, but in a month's time we couldn't have let you in" was the reply. So why do we have to pay for a ten year passport? If you bought a 2 hour parking ticket you wouldn't expect to get a ticket after 1 hour 50 minutes!! Coco
  10. Well I've just re-read this whole thread and it still seems to differ from douanes to douanes. I went into our office in Saint Lo today and asked about a licence for serving wine with meals in my chambres d'hotes. "Do you want to serve anything stronger? Like Whisky?" "No thank you, just wine" "Don't think you need anything then" "Yes I do, even if I'm only serving tea and coffee I need a petit licence" After discussion with two other colleagues it was decided that I only need a petit licence, even for serving wine with meals. So now I have one! Didn't cost anything, issued on the spot, but I'm still wondering whether I ought to go back and get the grand licence. These people hardly fill you with confidence of their knowledge of their own departments when they have such discussions. I don't mind paying for the licence but I do want to make sure that I'm not going to get into trouble for offering wine with my meals. Especially as the lady asked if she could keep my card as colleagues staying in the area often need a chambres d'hotes. The last thing I need is a douanes jobsworth (who does know his facts) telling me that I don't have the right licence for wine. Mine is a category 06 and it says that I am licenced to provide drinks with meals, but doesn't specify what sort of drinks!! Coco
  11. I was over there yesterday looking for property for people. Message in your in-box. Coco
  12. Surely your finger slipped when typing his quote, or he's doing more than just installing the water boiler! We had a whole central heating system plus boiler and a tank of oil put in for just over 10,000 euros in a house with 3 bedrooms and three bathrooms. Coco
  13. I went through last season in ignorant bliss of the fact that I needed a licence for a) soft drinks and b) wine included in the price of the meal. Today I finally got around to deciding to organise them for the start of the season. Followed the advice below, went to the Mairie to get info and relevant forms. Mme le Maire: "Licence for drinks? Ooooh, I don't think so, you don't need it" Coco: "Yes I believe I do, even for tea and coffee." Mme le Maire (to secretary who is also secretary of local tourist office): "Does she need a licence?" Secretary: "Oh no, not for non-alcholic drinks" Coco (giving up on that one) "Ahhh, but I do for wine" Mme le Maire and Secretary (in unison after gallic shrugs) "Maybe, but we don't know anything about it, nor do we have any forms. Are you SURE you need a licence?" Coco: "Well other English who run B&Bs tell me I do" Mme le Maire: "Oh well, it's possible, but nothing to do with us, maybe les douanes, but I shouldn't bother if I were you." I got directions to the local douane office nonetheless!!! Coco
  14. I know this won't apply to a lot of the members of the Western forum but I thought I would post here as well as NW because some people are right on the borders. I belong to an association called "Les Fleurs de la Memoire" which was founded by the Maire of St Jean de Daye (just north of Saint Lo) and the Treasurer of the Veterans Association for the 35th Division US Army, who liberated our part of Normandy. The purpose is to remember the soldiers who fell by placing flowers on an allocated grave at least once a year. The AGM is in a couple of weeks and there are a couple of things to be discussed which may be of interest to some on this board. The first is that there are a number of Vets who would love to come over but can't afford the flight and accommodation. The association wants to find "billets" for as many as possible. Sadly we are already booked with French paying guests on the weekend of 6th June but as there are events involving veterans going on all summer, we shall certainly offer to take some (free of course!) later on. Of course, these are all US Vets and some people may feel they would rather do something for the Brits. Perhaps someone else knows of a similar scheme for this? The second thing the association wants to do is to try and get flowers on EVERY Allied grave in the area for 6th June. This would be some feit and surely needs some kind of organising rather than people just turning up at cemetries willy-nilly. I shall find out more about both schemes next week but it would be really great if anyone showed some interest in this. The one sad point I felt on reading about this second great idea was that the Germans are not included. I know it seems a bit obvious that the French would not be interested. But 60 years on perhaps it should be a time for remembrance and healing. Having just finished "Pegasus Bridge" I know that many of the British soldiers have since become good friends with the guys they were fighting on 6th June. So wouldn't it be nice to remember the Germans who fell as well? Many of whom had no choice as to whether they wanted to fight or believe in the Third Reich anyway. I don't think I'll bring that suggestion up at the meeting though - I want to be alive to enjoy the meal afterwards Coco
  15. I've just turned away about the 20th enquirer for 4th and 5th June B&B. I can only see it getting worse and worse as the date gets nearer - I suppose these people still think they're trying to book early, especially for B&B, which is so often just at a few days notice. The one I was most disappointed at turning away was a man who was bringing his dad back for the first time since he had landed on Utah beach on D-Day. I would have loved to have heard first-hand his stories. I'm sure any of you who have B&B's within reach of "the beaches" are in the same position as me but if anyone does still have vacancies please let me know. Everyone I have turned away has asked if I know of somewhere else they can stay but everyone I know is also full. Coco
  16. I don't know if my family's experiences are normal but this is what has happened to us on dotor's visits: My step-dad visited within a month of arriving from the UK. He just walked in to the closest surgery (the onl one in our village). There was no appointment sysem, just sit and wait your turn, which was about 2 hours. He then told the doctor that he suffered with high blood pressure and showed him the medication he had been taking in the UK. He was given a pretty thorough check-over (hence the two hour wait) and given a repeat prescription of his drugs and told to come back for moe in 3 months. I went to the same surgery at Christmas (surprisingly it wasn't busy, so I only had to wait about 45 minutes) The doctor then spent a good 20 minutes with me. I went with a sore throat but like my dad, got a thorough check, which brought out the fact that I ama mild asthmatic - although I had used my inhaler only ONCE in the nine months of living in France at that point, as opposed to about once a day in the UK! He gave me a new supply of inhalers and some miracle medicine which cured my unbearable throat within24 hours! Apart from the lack of an appointment system the service we have received has been much more attentive and thorough than either of us experienced in the UK. HOWEVER, I have a few points of concern. Firstly, they don't have or seem to want to have our notes from the UK, so are taking us at our word over previous medication and ailments. Secondly, nothing was written down (no computer) in any notes (just the prescription) so how will our ailments and history be remembered in 3, 6, 9 months time? And finally, if we don't have to register as such, surely the system is open to obuse by people going from one surgery to another and obtaining excessive amounts of drugs that could be sold on the black market! Coco
  17. Sorry to hear about the cancellations and no-shows Miki. I know how irritating they are. Especially the lot leaving early. We came over to Dinard this morning to take my brother-in-law to the airport. Left home in brilliant sunshine... a little sprinkling of snow on the higher points around Villedieu butnothing to speak of til Avranches, when everything was white, but certainly not deep. Nothing affected the roads til about 20kms from Dinan/St Malo and even then the snow plough had cleared most of it off the road. So your family returning to Picardy will have found that all the snow had disappeared within less than half an hour of leaving your place. Now that really IS annoying! Coco
  18. >> >I know it's not new news, >it's just becoming "official", that's >all. >I'm sure I didn't drink anywhere >near 58 litres of wine >last year. Or did >I! Well that shouldn't affect the average - I EASILY made up for your shortfall SB (probably in less than te first quarter of the year!) >I wonder if the winemakers will >go on strike? > OH MY GOD, I HOPE NOT!!!!! Coco
  19. Personally I see nothing wrong with poly cotton Coco
  20. Good idea Polreyt. Made me laugh after a very tedious afternoon at URSSAF. Don't think we'll be able to afford to eat in restaurants in future, after today's fiasco. But thanks very much for cheering me up. And if anyone treats us to a meal, I'll make sure we use the "English equivalent" Coco
  21. Hi John I run a B&B in Normandy, 40 minutes from Arromanches, where most of the celebrations usually take place. I really DID buy BOTH my cats from a breeder in Wiltshire! Do I qualify? Coco PS Oh and my husband has an uncle who lives in Wiltshire who used to fly Lancaster Bombers during the war and he met his wife from Swindon when based there!
  22. I have a pretty good English-French dictionary (about 4 inches thick) which up til now has never let me down. However, I received 3 French French cookery books this Christmas (if you get my drift) - all gratefully received, as I thought that way I could avoid the double cream etc type problems. If they're in French they will give you ingredients you can buy here n'est ce pas? Of course, you have to understand the French to buy the ingredients. So many of these recipes seem to call for sucre semoule. My dictionary has nothing under "sucre" and "semoule" translates as semolina. Can anyone enlighten me as to what "sucre semoule" is? I even found it in a recipe in a free booklet from Intermarche; hence could foresee no problem in buying it (even if I don't know what it is!) in aforesaid supermarket, but to no avail! they had sucre of every kind, but not sucre semoule - HELP! Coco
  23. I was going to respond to several of these postings but quite honestly I think I am fast losing the will to live, trying to plough through certain postings to see if there is in fact anything even vaguely relating to my original posting. With such pedantic and quite honestly boring and unhelpful postings, it is not surprising that the B&B forum hadnt been used since 10th October until I started this thread. No one dare use it any more, for fear of falling foul of the oracles views on B&B, whilst the rest of us that are playing at it really dont have a clue However, before I do give up the will to live totally, I have a couple of Mikis points to pick up on as he is always so eager to pick up on others:
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