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Posts posted by Coco

  1. I believe that this particular area of Normandy is far less populated with Brits than we are here in Manche and the further western areas.  We are ten minutes from the A84 and when we bought our house 6 years ago we were at the last junction of the motorway at that time.  Since the motorway has been completed property prices in this area have at least doubled, so if you're interested in the area, make sure you make your purchase either before, or as soon after the opening of the new motorway as possible.
  2. Don't understand the Loire Valley myself.  Been there a couple of times now because I think I must be missing something but I'm always disappointed by it - scruffy old river full of sandbanks if you ask me.

    Have to disagree with you Margaret about the Toulouse Lautrec museum - I think it's great, and Albi cathedral would be on my list.  Also St Cirq Lapopie (before it became full of tourists) along with most of the Lot valley and Rocamadour (likewise, 20 years ago) and the view of Mont St Michel across the bay from Cancale, on a cold February day, when the sea is vivid aquamarine.


    This is fantastic news for us - as we specialise in children's holidays in our b&b, so if you don't want these families, please send them to us!!!!

    It's a deal Okalani!  You can most certainly have them!

    We find that the majority of children that come here are great, but we are set up for them, and all the parents take responsibility for their children.  Most days in the summer we have 5 rooms full of families, at any one time we could have up to 15 children here - plus my 2!

    Just one thought here...... if you have up to 15 children staying at any one time with all five rooms full, presumably that means 10 adults as well, which means you have 25 people staying in your B&B.  So how do you get round the 15 max?  BTW, are you completely deaf or are you just a saint?

    Incidentally, if you're aiming your marketing predominantly at the family market this must mean school holidays only.  Does this mean you make enough during that period to live off for the rest of the year? (perhaps I could learn to like children )  We've found that September has ended up being almost as busy as August, but obviously it has been completely child-free

  4. Any tips for American visitors?

    Yes!  Don't bother with a gite, come and stay in our B&B, we just luv'em!!!  They've certainly been the best fun, most appreciative and most polite guests we've had this summer - not to mention the tips!

    Seriously though, Mascamps and Lori have made some good points.  They can be a little more demanding than the Brits but only I think because they want value for money.  I have been caught out on more than one occasion by someone coming downstairs and saying "excuse me, you seem to have forgotten to put any soap in the bathroom".  Well we didn't supply soap, especially with one and two night stops because, like with the opened jars of mustard, no one wants to use someone else's soap, so it was an expensive extra.   However, I immediately responded by apologising for having "forgotten" and gave them a bar.  I now keep bottles of liquid soap in the cupboard, which I offer up when requested.

    Lastly, bear in mind that the bulk of Americans that you'll get are either 1) young and on a gap year trip or 2) retired. It's rare to get Americans between 25 and 60 as they generally only get 2 weeks holiday (vacation) per year; if you do get any in this category, they very much appreciate information ahead of time to help them get the most out of their time.

    From my experience I have to disagree with this.  We have had absolutely no youngsters, I don't think they would probably want to pay our rates per night and the only retired couple we had came with the rest of the family.  It appears that the 2 weeks annual vacation is fast becoming something of the past.  Every couple (mainly in their 40s) that we have had stay with us this summer have, on questioning, told us that they now get between 3 and 6 weeks, depending how long they have worked for their company.  And at the moment I have 4 provisional bookings for next Spring/summer from American families who are trying to plan their "European tour".

  5. Talking of green things.  I found a short fat worm-like thing on our patio about 3 weeks ago.  It was about as thick as a thumb and about 3-4 inches long.  I prodded it with a stick and it turned really (and I mean REALLY quickly) and sort of attacked the stick.  It had a black and white pattern down it's back and horn-like things, like snails have, on it's head.

    Anyone any idea what it was?

  6. I was under the impression SpeedFerries only had one craft! Certainly the one I travelled on could not be described as having comfy seating, the coffee was disgusting, the "pastry" - that is a very loose term!!! The contents of the shop (when it eventually opened) where nothing to make the heart beat faster, and as for the 50 minute crossing - do they make a habit of having to return to dock in order to collect forgotten crew members?

    If I keep defending them people are going to start thinking I have a vested interest, which I don't.  It just seems that sometimes there is no pleasing people.  I have been on this forum since its inception and for a long, long time people said that all they wanted to do was to get across the Channel as cheaply as possible and that they weren't interested in frills, just a decent price.  Isn't that EXACTLY what Speedferries offers?  OK, the seating isn't incredibly comfortable, but they are padded seats and certainly comfortable enough for the length of crossing you are taking.  The coffee I had was fine.  I never indulge in such things as sandwiches or pastries on board any ferry as I would always rather wait til I got to France and get a decent one for half the price, and if you only have a 50 minute crossing, it's not exactly vital to eat on board is it?  So there was nothing to make the heart beat faster in the shop.  What exactly were you looking for?  And no, I don't believe they do make a habit of returning to dock to collect forgotten crew members (and I find that incredibly hard to believe anyway, unless it was the Captain!!)  Having worked on cruise ships for several years I know it's something that just DOESN'T happen.  Sounds like you had a bad crossing, they happen sometimes.  But I certainly know that a large proportion of my B&B guests this year have been highly delighted that I informed them of Speedferries existance.

  7. Give up Jon - you'll never make Miki understand what you're trying to say if it doesn't agree with what he's thinking.  I know exactly what you mean about watching News 24 to try and get some news, and although there are plenty of sports out there, there is also plenty of NEWS that could have been reported on.

    I remember you well from the early days - and many an interesting and useful a post you made but I see that you haven't posted for quite a while.  Probably because there are so few interesting debates going on.  But some of your answers were useful to me in the early days.

    And it's not England winning the cricket I minded, it was the banal, pointless, endless talking for the sake of talking (which some members will be able to empathise with totally) that drove me mad.

    As for Radio 4 LW being hijacked during the summer..... just don't even get me started on that one MYB   Oops, sorry, I used a smiley icon, I must be insulting you!

    Dicksmith, the icons should mean that you are NOT intending to insult.  I was only pointing out to Miki that a man that doesn't live, breathe, eat drink, think sport 24 hours a day isn't necessarily a boring old f*****  If anyone was being insulting it was Miki for suggesting such a thing in the first place.

    And so you two, what do you suggest they replace it all with, something terribly snooty like watching people eat cucumber sandwiches, sticking their little pinkies in the air and talking utter drivel about arty, f**** matters.

    But isn't that EXACTLY what happens at most cricket matches??  Any that I've been to it has anyway.  Probably what made me hate it so much in the beginning.  What an incredibly snobby and elitist sport it can be.  So come on, don't try that one Miki.  What is it with you that whenever someone doesn't agree wholeheartedly with you, you launch into an aggressive and abusive attack on them?  I mean, what has my husband ever done to you for you to start calling him names?  He just doesn't happen to spend his whole waking life thinking about sport and that doesn't mean he has NO interest in it, even if he had NO interest that doesn't make him a boring old f****, just the opposite, it makes him someone with diverse interests, which, in fact makes for a much more balanced outlook and a more interesting person.  I'll take the man with the healthy interest in sport over the obsessive any day!!!!   (oops, sorry again Dick, don't mean to insult your mate!!!!!)

    Anyway cricket's over now, thank god. 

  8. The point is I wasn't sitting watching England play..............I was trying to watch the news....any news, other than cricket!!!  However, typically with any English sporting success, the reporting is totally OTT and you are are bludgeoned to death by the media.  It has to be given a special programme before the news, then done to death during the news, then dissected after the news, and shoe-horned into every other TV and radio programme possible.  Every time there is any English football match of any significance 1966 is trotted out (almost 40 years later).  It is even trotted out in totally unrelated sports coverage.  Unfortunately it will be mentioned ad nauseum until I depart this world I fear, as will this latest super-hype.  It is only a game for goodness sake!  Thank goodness Tim Henman didn't win Wimbledon!

    Couldn't agree more Jon, well said!!!  It's not that I'm not interested or pleased when England win something, of course it's great, but the media do try to do it to death.  And 1966 isn't ALWAYS relevant.  After all, we had a world cup victory only last year, so we don't have to go back 40 years any more!!!

    crikey nearly every waking hour if mine is taken up with thoughts of Sport and I have always been of the opinion that men who dislike sport are boring old f****

    Well Miki, all I can say, is my husband has PLENTY of other thoughts on his mind!!!! that keeps ours a VERY happy marriage.  Have you ever asked your wife if she thinks you're a boring old f*****?  cos if I was married to you, I would certainly say you were!!!!  In fact, I think I would have to start taking an interest in nice young men like that Freddie Flintlock bloke!

    Cricket???  I'd rather watch paint dry!

  9. I agree with everything people have said here IF you live in a town and are looking for a job in a language school.

    I started doing an online TEFL course, which a lot of people poo-pooh but my friend also did one of these proper CELTA courses at £1000+ and to be quite honest, even she admits, there isn't a vast difference in what we learnt.  She is in the Aude, and can't find anyone who is interested enough, or prepared to pay enough for her to give lessons.  Here in Normandy I haven't tried but can see that there just again isn't either the interest, or where there is, the money, to pay for private tuition.  I have a French friend who is teaching English people French and she charges 5 euros an hour.  I know of another French lady (proper teaching qualifications to teach French to English people and vice versa) and she still only charges 10 euros per hour and REALLY struggles to find anyone to teach.

  10. Yes their cheap, I've never used them but I'm told their basic.  What about Norfolkline!

    From what I've heard of Norfolkline they are just as basic as Speedferries - and I wouldn't necessarily call them basic.  No more so than the fastcraft run by P&O and Britanny in and out of Cherbourg! 

    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.

    Our current guests were Norfolkline users but on my recommendation arrived yesterday via Speedferries and swore they would never use Norfollkline again - nothing wrong with them, just that Speedferries was just as cheap but quicker!!!  They paid £38 for a return crossing (middle of the day!) for a car and 4 passengers.

    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.

    There are comfy seats, big picture windows, a bar, an onboard shop and you can buy sandwiches, pastries etc.  on Speedferries - Just how much more do you need on a 50 minute crossing!!!

  11. I remember being in John Lewis some years ago and overhearing one of the assistants talking to her friend.  The friend was saying that she supposed the assistant would be pleased when the summer sale was over because things would calm down but the assistant replied that it would be quiet for a week or so but that 5th (or maybe 6th?) September was the official day for putting out the Christmas stock.  Clearly ties in with Gay's comments about kids going back to school.

    At least here is France it doesn't tend to happen til after armistice day. Although I've noticed in the last six years it has crept forward by a good month!  Our first Christmas out here there was nothing in the shops until December - quite right too!!!  I only buy stuff early, stash it away and end up buying more because I've either forgotten that I've already bought stuff or forgotten where I've hidden it!!!

  12. For some it works well, for others not at all. Snag is that you need to fork out a lot of money to find out which category you fall into.

    You're right there Arnold, but then you have B&B and this chap's looking for gite advertising so it may work for him.  We used to use French Connections and filled our house (when it was a gite) both years that we used them.  However, the following year, when we had changed to B&B, we got one night's booking for our £120 outlay!!!  So although Chez Nous isn't very effective for us B&Bers it may be more successful for a gite - after all, it is a well-known name.

    One thing that I've noticed is that the French have been using the Internet a LOT more this year than last so I'm not sure that going after them in print will be as effective as it was in years gone by. Last year, we found that ALL the French booked by phone even if they'd originally looked us up online. This year we found that about 80% of those booking during the peak period had made their booking online and it appeared to be the first time that they'd ever used the Internet to buy anything.

    Couldn't agree more!  Last year I would say the ratio was 20/80 internet/phone enquiries but this year it has definitely swung to 80/20 internet/phone


  13. Oh please, I hope no one thinks I'm having a dig at our guests for doing this.  Quite the contrary, after the initial surprise of the "find" I was quite delighted, because I did take it as a compliment that they were obviously more than satisfied with the service and standard of accommodation they experienced.  I was the most surprised to have the initial feeling that it was a little demaning - but I suppose that's just reality kicking in and putting me in my place 

    However, as for being on an equal footing, just because we accept money from people does not put them higher up the "pecking order", so from that point of view yes, I do believe we are equals.  Indeed, if you've read my other posting about guests we would not let in, then I most certainly feel SUPERIOR to some of the aweful guests we have, even though they pay us.  After all, manners maketh man, and when there's no respect for your host's property, it shows a distinct lack of manners and breeding and consequently they are the lesser people for behaving in such a way - money can't buy everything .

    However, all of our American guests had already earned my respect and admiration for their friendliness, intelligence, charming manners and the respect they showed to both us and our property.  The tips really were an added bonus.  So keep 'em coming!!!

  14. That letter was one of those typical French affairs.  DON'T make a special trip to the doctor's to get him/her to sign the form, but DO submit it before July.  Well I'm sorry but one French idiosyncracy I have not yet adopted is hypochondria.  Therefore, neither my husband or I have had cause to visit the doctor yet and so have not submitted the form!  I keep meaning to go to the surgery one morning for that specific purpose now that the deadline has passed, but just never seem to find the time to waste an hour or more sitting in his waiting room just to get a form signed.  One of those situations when I wish he had a receptionist that we could leave the form with, so that we don't waste his surgery time.  The least you'd have thought they'd have done was put a box in the waiting room that you could leave your form in with an sae
  15. Well I'm pretty "satellite illiterate" however, perhaps someone can explain this to me in words of one syllable.  We currently have a digital satellite dish and decoder (is that what it's called?) box that we bought in Mr Bricolage for about 80 euros (on promo)  We then found out the BBC free to air settings via the internet, pointed the dish in the right direction and typed the settings into the TV.  We have BBC 1, 2, 3,4, News 24, parliament and those aweful kids channels, plus 100s of crap shopping and God channels, as well as loads and loads of radio stations, at no cost other than that of the dish.  Is this what you mean we will be able to do with ITV eventually?  We don't have and never have had, any kind of card or box.  Oh I'd love to be able to watch Corrie again!!!!
  16. This summer we have had a lot of Americans to stay and have discovered that almost all of them have left us a fairly generous (20 euros for a two night stay, 30 euros for 4 nights) tip when we have come to clean the room.  Of course it is gratefully received, as every little helps to boost the income, however, it has made me stop and think a little.  Sometimes people have asked on this forum whether it is acceptable to tip certain professions or whether it would be regarded as demeaning or insulting.  At first I was delighted to discover the money, then I did feel a little demeaned.  We had felt that we had got along well with these people and that we were sharing our evenings with our guests on an equal footing, it then made me feel that they must have seen us as employees/servants/whatever you want to call it.  However, I very quickly reverted back to thinking "thanks that's an added bonus"   Ultimately the size of my bank balance makes me not take offence at the generous gifts from our clients but it is an interesting situation to be in.

    I personally also find it quite interesting, as many years ago when I worked on cruise ships (a huge tipping area) it was a well-known fact that the Brits tipped at the end of a cruise if they believed they had had good service.  Whereas the Americans used the "carrot" method of quite openly offering a tip "up front" and making it quite clear there would be the same amount again at the end, if they were "looked after" well.  So to find that these people have left the money in the room, to be found after they have left, is, I suppose, in a way a compliment.  I suppose my slight problem with accepting tips now is that in my past life, as an officer, we were not allowed to accept tips as we were regarded as being "above" that.

    Have any of you other B&Bers experienced this?  And how do you/would you feel about it?

  17. B&B is a little different to the likes of Gites or package holidays, ie there isn't a preferred booking time, which judging by TV advertising, seems to be post-Christmas!  As others will tell you, a lot of it is only 1-4 weeks in advance of the proposed stay.  Having said that, last night I took a booking for July 2006!  However, I would say that you are better off being somewhere that you will be seen all year round, like a website or guide book than to "run an advertising campaign" for a short period of time at a specific time of the year.

    We, for example, have got 3 weeks worth of bookings for September and two weeks worth for October.  One week of the September bookings was booked in March, the rest have been over the last month or so and the October bookings have been within the last week.  At the beginning of July I was very worried that I only had a 25% take up for August (all of which had been booked pre Easter) but by the last week of July I had filled all but a couple of days of August.

    So, in answer to your question, I would say that it is impossible to give a "best possible" period to advertise in, if it is going to be for a limited period.

  18. Going back to the original question.  I can't answer the whole question (wish I could, cos then we'd do it too!!)  However, as you are already registered for the gardening, you are quite within your rights to run the chambres d'hotes without registering.  You only have to register chambres d'hotes if it is your sole or prime source of income.  Otherwise, as you have been told already, you will be paying two lots of cotisations for exactly the same end results/benefits.  So at least you can do two of your "multi-task" roles legally!

    I too have seen a Frenchman advertising in local newspapers and supermarkets with a very smart leaflet and siret number, offering to do any job that is too small for others to entertain.  I must make a note of the siret number next time and see what he is registered as.

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