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Everything posted by betoulle

  1. We used the tunnel for years when we had a second home in Normandy & yes it did happen often, especially if getting an early morning train, but not usually public holiday weekends unless you were very lucky.  Equally, have had some bad delays on the tunnel caused by broken down trains, motorway accidents & again during public holiday weekends.  Overall, we would say that the good experiences outweighed the bad, but the latter remain in the memory longer......
  2. Under those circumstances the pompiers will come out - we had a similar situation recently & they came out in the evening to treat the roof & chimney.....they will send you an invoice eventually.....
  3. Having a very strange year this year, amazingly our larger gite is now almost fully booked (just 3 wks remaining) from 20th May till 2nd October & our smaller gite has the usual number of bookings to be expected by this time of year with just 6 wks left to fill from mid-May to end of Sept, but for the B&B it is extremely quiet.  We have several regular guests returning throughout the year, but with the exception of a wedding party & a few French business travellers we have had not one single new enquiry for the B&B since last autumn......from any nationality....At first I thought it was because we do not offer table d'hote (we have so many great restaurants nearby) but our ex-President of GdF for the region has a 4epi chambre d'hote/gite business in our village offering table d'hote & with the exception of the same wedding party this last w/end she has not one single booking for either chambres/gites for2009.....   We are 3 epis so cheaper than her, have reduced our prices a little & are offering 7 nts for the price of 6 etc, but no interest at all.  As well as GdF we advertise with several well-known chambre d'hote sites as well as the usual holiday listing companies. Similar number of hits on our website to most other years........  Last year was our best ever with the B&B fully booked from mid-June to late-September which was an unexpected surprise & fortunately we have many of the same returning this year as well as our regular French families + a few UK house renovators.  Our new enquiries this year have all been for gites & we have been offering special 'deals' in small gite for househunters etc at a much cheaper rate than B&B for this time of year, which has proved popular & I must admit it is a lot less work.  I have no idea what has changed, we have good access for airports being close to Limoges, Angouleme & Poitiers for Uk visitors, are between the A10 & A20 for european visitors en route to the coast....but many of our French enquiries do not start to come in till late May.  Our French friends tell us that many French have had a winter holiday this year due to the exceptional snow conditions & are waiting for the long-term forecast to decide if,where & when to go in France, so fingers crossed.  As to gite enquiries from UK, we have had far less than usual, but less time-wasters, so a good conversion rate, but whereas this time last year I had approx 50 Uk enquirers who I had been unable to accomodate, this year I have had just 15 - maybe more are looking at the availability calenders on our various listings, or those who contact us are serious about booking.  However, we have no availabilty calenders for the B&B, so where are they all????? Have had not one single walk-in this year, which is very unusual
  4. We are in the Charente & granted it was raining & chilly on Saturday (unfortunate as we had a wedding party staying) but last week was glorious - Thursday & Friday we registered 34'C & we have had very little rain now for weeks with lots of lovely sunny days....am I living in a bubble?????
  5. Try the Moulin St Jean in Loches - a good half way stop, we have had several guests & friends stop there en route to us.
  6. Hi betoulle here - have been away from the forum for a few days, so only just read your post. Dotarem does not need refrigeration & so long as it is used before the expiry date you can get it from the pharmacy anytime before your scan - check date with pharmacist.....would advise keeping it in a medicine cupboard away from direct heat. Under normal circumstances there should be no side effects..... Good luck - pm me if you need any more information.  
  7. We investigated doing this a couple of years back & ended up abandoning the plan for several reasons.  We were using a local bilingual French lady to offer the courses to businessmen, medical staff etc, as we were not allowed unless we had proper French qualifications, certificates etc.  All the places we contacted did NOT want residential courses......OK our initial contacts were all in our region, so not absolutely necessary to be accomodated on site, but this led to the problem of insurance & registration etc as we are primariliy a B&B & gite business, so not allowed to offer courses without accommodation.  We ran up against other problems with regard to offering food & drink during the course of the day...food health issues, regulations, cotisations etc.  Basically, the cost & strict regulation was starting to become restrictive so we abandonned the scheme.   I have seen several language schools running courses for English people to learn French - more likely to be residential, so this probably a slightly easier option. Good Luck.....  An example of the problems we encountered was we had the idea to include a wine tasting in English as a bit of light relief.....we have a contact locally who was going to offer tastings of New World wines...we were told categorically NO - only if we performed a tasting of French wines would it be considered permissable......
  8. This year it is the weekend of 18/19/20th September - cars arrive throughout the week with big Concorse d'Elegance on Friday evening, the classic car rally to Cognac & back from Geant car park is Saturday & race day is all day Sunday - practice circuits in morning, races in afteroon.  If you have never been then make the effort to go at least once - it is great fun, fantastic atmosphere & yes the weather is usually glorious for the race day...a few years back the Friday evening & Saturday were a washout, but all was fine for the Sunday.
  9. we have a fantastic dentist in St Laurent de Ceris dept 16 - my husband recently had a root canal done - 2 trips, 20mins in the chair each time, no pain, no fuss & all paid for by RAM & Mutuelle.  He really is wonderful with all the latest equipment - so please PM me for details
  10. A simple recipe for Jerusalem artichoke soup which also freezes well: 500g carrots - peeled & roughly chopped 800g Jerusalem artichokes - peeled & roughly chopped 1 onion chopped 2 litres stock 1 tsp celery seed salt & pepper 75g butter   Melt the butter then soften the onion before adding the carrots & Jerusalem artichokes, season & leave to sweat for 10 mins.  Add stock & simmer for at least 30 mins till vegs are tender, then blitz in food processor/blender & adjust seasoning. Serve hot as it is or with a swirl of creme fraiche & parsley.  Enjoy!!  If you grow your own veg & make your own stock, then the cost is just for the butter & seasoning - this recipe makes at least 6 good sized bowls......at the moment we are enjoying the last of our glut of artichokes & have just planted ready for next winter's crop.  
  11. [quote user="Steve"]Dave21478:       I can't believe any potential guests have been persuaded to book on the back of any or all of those "facilities". Investing in a pool is expensive but our decision making was on the back of us wanting a pool for ourselves and then this was followed by the thought process of... How much extra per week can we charge the Gite guests for its use. One day we will sell this place and we believe we can recupe the pool cost as part of that. In the mean time we have the pool that WE wanted and the gites earn us a very nice increase in revenues. Steve [/quote] Further to my previous posting on this subject we have more enquiries as we offer a tennis court & surprisingly the giant chess than we do for the pool......2 of our regular families spend upwards of 4 hrs/day playing tennis & maybe a couple of hours a week at the pool...... we have a family come over from Ireland every year purely to play chess - they will continue a game even when it is throwing it down with rain & are not in the least bit interested in the huge pool next door, so maybe it depends what the other facilities are.  Since introducing the table tennis as well last year (worth the expense 3 times over) again we have repeat guests coming this year for that reason alone..... As to having the pool for your own use, we had complaints our first year from returning guests about the previous owners using the pool while guests were staying, so beware....many guests we find prefer us to be around but unseen & some would definitely not welcome our presence at the pool.....as stated in an early posting many guests don't like to share with other paying guests so you may find that your only chance to be by your own pool is in a snatched hour on changeover day.   The extra you can charge can come at a premium....  
  12. Interesting...we have a very large pool 17m x 10m & you would think that would be the main attraction as even with 2 gites & a 4 room B&B it is larger than most hotel pools & offers quite a lot of privacy, so we can offer ample space for an affordable budget, but the 3 main attractions that bring guests to us are the tennis court, the giant chess & table tennis.......always a surprise to us how few of our guests even go to look at the pool let alone sit by it &/swim.  The chateau hotel with 5 gites up the road has a 10m x 5m pool with up to 40 people around it...ours you can usually count the number of people as being less than 10 at any one time, & we are charging less than half their prices....
  13. No drawbacks that I can think of....though weather tends to be similar to south of UK......not sure about the holiday rental market though as it tends to be driven through by Brits off the ferry & not really a holiday destination with the French, though Parisians do visit for weekends.  In our village just outside Envermeu we were the only Brits & several houses were owned by Parisians as second homes.  The Saturday market & fish restaurants are the main draw...........  Some lovely properties along that coast line towards Veules les Roses.  A flat on the front in Dieppe itself may well prove to be more of an income generator - am sure an estate agent or 2 will be along soon to offer advice on that one..  On the subject of neighbours, then the answer is how long is a piece of string - we always got on with ours, but the Normans have a reputation for being a bit gruff, we never had any problems but have an open mind & are flexible, so may be just us.
  14. We had a second home outside Dieppe for 15 years before we moved permanently to the Charente.  We loved it - it was the perfect bolthole for us & so many fantastic restaurants & great places to visit in the area.  Miss the fish market the most, also the kite festival, the herring & scallop festival, visits to Veules les Roses, walks along the beach at St Martin in the winter, the Gertrude Jekyll garden up the coast, close proximity to Rouen for days out & taking friends to the Somme & up the coast to the Normandy beaches.....what do you want to know???
  15. Wow what an amazing sight - not sure if all 20,000 passed over but we had a steady stream of flocks passing over our little bit of the Charente from 5.15 onwards......have never seen so many in such a short space of time - stunning.
  16. We are in the Charente & are entering our 6th season - so far we have had approx 20-23 weeks/gite/year - GdF say a good year is 14wks/gite for this region, so I guess we are doing well.  We also do B&B & the combined incomes cover our costs......this is a big place which costs a lot to run & we intend to stay for at least another 6yrs when one of us reaches retirement age so quite content.  We make no profit as such as any extra after we have paid the bills & our living expenses goes on annual maintenance, decoration etc....so nothing saved, but so far apart from our 1st year when we were getting started have not had to dip into our savings...but this year could be different.  Do your homework, work out how much you need to 'top up' the pension, price accordingly & advertise wisely.  Also remember it will take a couple of years to get established & gain a core clientele of regular guests - the secret of success. Good Luck
  17. Another idea is to head to the local covered market at lunchtime...the one in Limoges has 2 fantastic little restaurants opposite each other offering a 3 course lunch (all local market produce) & carafe of wine for less than 10 euros - great fun as everyone sits on benchs at long tables.  You need to be seated by 12.15 though as they both fill up incredibly quickly.  Another little gem is the tiny bistro situated in the antique market St Michel in Bordeaux - en excellent 2 course lunch in lovely surroundings.  You won't find many non-French speakers in either place......till now of course...... As to my previous posting about the Cheval Blanc at Luxe......it is always busy during the off season with French business men, but yes a lot of English second home owners & residents do eat there as word spreads fast...& the regulars probably book weeks in advance, but we are always too busy between the months of April & October to eat out anywhere, so our experience has always been very French.... anyway, when the food is that good I am not interested in the nationality of my fellow diners - the food being the most important reason for being there........  
  18. One of the best value restaurants in our region (dept 16) is the Auberge du Cheval Blanc at Luxe near Mansle - Wednesday to Friday they do a five course set lunch including all the trimmings & a bottle of wine between 2 people for 17euros/head.  Their cheese trolley has to be one of the best in France, there is no limit as to how many you may have.....the presentation is as good as their full price menu & it is incredibly popular especially during the summer months, when we need to book up to 3 weeks in advance.  It is mentioned in the Michelin guide so definitely worth a mention in this article, though with increasing popularity I may have just shot myself (& our guests) in the foot..
  19. I spent the last 12 years of my working life in MRI - pm me with details of which area is to be scanned & I can give you some further information.  Nowadays they should always give you headphones so you can listen to music + the operators instructions.  If having your head &/neck scanned there should also be a mirror system so you can look out of the tunnel into the control room or at a muraled wall.  Not every scan requires an injection, fasting or the need to drink something beforehand & the time involved again is dependent on the type of scan being performed - anything from 5 minutes.  The need to remove anything metal is of great importance - do think very carefully back through your medical history to make sure that you are free of any thing remotely metallic......if going into a high powered magnet & having your head scanned not a good idea to wear mascara.  It is noisy, but you will be protected from that & a good operator will do their best to ensure that it is not an unpleasant experience.
  20. They recently had a 'special' in ALDI, but have also bought them on eBay.fr - at a much cheaper price than LAKELAND
  21. Anyone remember the Nahari shop off Al Nasr Sq in Dubai - whole curried leg of goat - 1 apiece.......wonderful....so stuffed you couldn't eat for a week after & incredibly cheap
  22. we lived in Dubai from 79 to 86 & the place to go was the Kwality near the Dubai Marine Hotel - went back for a visit in 2001 & the same staff were there & the food was a good as we remembered.  Next best place was the restaurant in the Taj in Bombay....  current favourite is Bukhara in Cape Town - going back soon, can't wait .......  The Red Lion was in the Dubai Metropolitan on the Abu Dhabi road.....we used to spend our time though at the Lodge in Leisureland - great place for lunch on a Thursday & the boys could play snooker all afternoon.
  23. God..how sad are we all - you can tell its low season....do like the towel elephant though - great for kids - will try it out on our regulars & come back to you all....now I wonder if there is one for table napkin folding......
  24. It has been blown up out of all proportion - when the broadcast went out originally it received 2 complaints...the 10,000 compliants received since have been due to the excessive coverage by the BBC & tabloids............and probably all from the anti-Brand & Ross brigade... I agree with Quillan that the fault lies with the production team.....  Having been to recordings of Have I Got News For You you would be amazed & horrified by what gets said pre-edit.........  The bottom line is that Ross & Brand wind each other up...it got out of hand..should not have been broadcast & now should be forgotten..after all the girl has admitted to sleeping with Brand so there is an element of truth under the hype.  They have apologised publically & privately, lets forget it & get on with life.  Personally I think both are great broadcasters & it would be a great shame to lose Ross in particlar - despite his humour he is well respected - as can be seen by the quality of his guests & I for one would be very sorry to see him leave the Film programme.  There is no-one else of his calibre around at present.
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