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Everything posted by Lassie

  1. Last night I suffered a severe allergic reaction which was very frightening.  As I could hardly breathe, it was my husband who phoned SAMU and although his French isnt bad, he found it difficult to describe symptons over the phone because of his own stress at my condition. Luckily the ambulance soon arrived and I was taken to a hospital about 15 kilometres away. A good shot of adrenalin started putting things right. The 'Urgences' was calm, quiet and extremely clean with several doctors and nurses on duty.  Although it was late on a Saturday night, there were no drunks fighting the staff !  My point is to advise anyone whose French is poor to be sure to have the emergency numbers by the phone, your own phone number ( its astonishing how the brain shuts down in a panic) and your address, spelled phonetically if someone's French is poor and you live in an unpronouncable village. At night put all the house lights on to help the ambulance locate you. In the circumstances we were fortunate in having enough language skills to call for help and describe the circumstances of this, and a previous allergic reaction, so that the problem is now identified.  It could have been disastrous and I do worry about all the people on this forum coming here expecting that emergency staff will automatically speak English.  Aint so.  
  2. On another forum I have just mentioned we had sold in 4 weeks by advertising in www.pap.fr and putting a large A vendre sign outside the house with the web site address and our phone number.  When anyone phoned, I directed them to the website putting in the reference number for our property. We have sold two  properties previously on that site.  Its 75 euros for 3 weeks appearance.  In each case though we sought French buyers so you need to have a good grasp in French  of the whole negotiation and selling process. Its less awful though than paying 5% to an agent!  The popular UK property sites didnt produce anything at all as it appears the British are not buying at the moment, and those that are, want their hand held by an agent and are nervous of buying on their own directly.   Anyway good luck.  
  3. We are now selling up and going back to the UK.  When we bought in 2001, the euro was 65.5 p.  Happily for us we have contracted to buy sterling ahead at 74.9p yesterday ,so with falling house prices in England, we are timing it right for once.  Knowing what I know now about living in France, I would not buy at this time except in certain areas and with a certain type of house..  Our house sold in 4 weeks because it appeals to a French market and was done by a private sale simply by hanging an 'A Vendre' board outside. Friends in different regions have been waiting 2 years for a sale depsite the details being with several agents. All sorts of things can happen as you get older and there's no doubt that the pull of family and friends is very strong - its our only reason for going back. Might be prudent to wait a couple of years and enjoy long holidays in France in a rented place first.
  4. Its not just grooming salons in towns you need to research - there are lots of mobile grooming companies too who go round the villages.  Doesnt sound as though you could make a living - pocket money perhaps. Also fluent French would be needed.  You need to market your service and have nice doggy chats with the owners to maintain a good atmosphere.  Its a fairly intimate kind of service and the French wouldn't probably be so keen if you dont communicate well.  Anyway, good luck.
  5. Not Melun - its awful.  We only go there because of Lapeyre and Castorama.  We live near Milly la Foret in 77. Lovely 1427 market hall, chic shops as there lots of Parisien weekenders and very safe.  All pretty stone houses and close to Fontainebleau which is superbe. Only 35 mins to Paris on regional train.  Dont use RER D - too many gangs of youths with knives robbing passengers. Just read the local papers! Senlis and Chantilly to the north of Paris are also nice but you have to drive through less appealing bits to get into Paris. From here its 45 m ins on the A6 autoroute ( not in rush hour though) straight inbto underground car parks next to the best shoe shops in Paris. Parfait. 
  6. Dear Val   They key thing you mentioned was that the cat was just 5 weeks old when you had him. Thats inadequate mothering time and most kittens will be emotionally fragile as a result. 10 weeks is about right. However, the more he is cuddled and loved and allow to suckle your sleeve or tread your tummy, the happier he will be and catch up on some mothering. Ankle catching is just play but the tail waving is a sign of a screw loose as you say. I am not a cat shrink but have had the same problem. Our rescue cat ( no known history but likely to have had a bad time) was fine until she went to a cattery for 10 days. During that time she experienced loss of her known environment, loss of our company and caught fleas which irritated her ( all for 10.5 euros a day!) When she came home she started growling like a dog, yowling and chasing her tail which she had never done before.  We sorted out the fleas and she is regularly wormed too.  It took many visits to the vet ( he said stress was the cause) , a course of sedatives and months of loving before it abated.  Now it only happens very rarely and in a mild way if she is frustrated at not getting through a door for example. Of course we are nervous of trying to leave her in a cattery again as the behaviour was extremely upsetting for her and us too. There probably isnt any cure as you cant counsel cats but, like adopting a disturbed child, you do the best you can. Best only to have a kitten who has been mothered for long enough . There are some negative aspects to living in France and attitude to animals is one of them. I wont be sorry to move away from my next door neighbour's Doberman who lives outdoors all year round in a small garden and likes to bark at 4a.m. and during the day while they are both out at work. Heigh Ho.
  7. Thank you for the good advice.  I had forgotten the 24 hours bit,  so as we are only 4 hours from the ferry, I can do it the day before at my local vet. Just one more thing to fit in as we say goodbye to France!
  8. We have started the Pet Passport procedure to take our cat back to the UK. Blood test is done and verified, now just waiting for the six months to be up. Does anyone have a contact with a vet in Boulogne or Calais where the final tests can be done prior to boarding the ferry?  And is it feasible to do this in the morning and sail in the afternoon? What a palaver!  Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
  9. There are loads of sites for private sales.  the biggest is www.pap.com   and www.entreparticuliers.com. Look under 'chambre regionale des notaires' on their web site of your preferred area.  Their fees are lower than agents.  Then there are all the private ads on sites like www.propertyenfrance.com  and many similar property sites which have a high proportion of private (particulier) sales, as do the many French property magazines on sale in the UK. Good luck with your search.              
  10. Dear Katie Look in www.pap.com  which is  a weekly newspaper 'Particulier a Particulier' published each Thursday for sales and rentals throughout France and has a big Paris section..  Also look up www.fusac.com.  You can look it up online.  It is a fortnightly mag which has dozens of flats to rent and we have used it always to rent out our flat in Paris.  Most estate agents will have rentals so look up the bigger ones like Century 21, ORPI, It is usual to rent furnished for a 12 month period with two months rental as deposit. Unfurnished is usually for three years contract. Once you have had a look at all the ads on the websites, you will get an idea of rentals, but of course it will be much more expensive in the nice , safe arondissements ( 5th,6th,7th, 8th, 16th).  Dont commute - living in Paris is sensational. Happy hunting
  11. Exactly- my enquiry was how to get out of France.  I think I might manage to find my way back into Britain, thanks.  My concern is to tie up loose ends.  I have had the cat chipped and vaccinated but still have to wait 6 months before she could leave and will make sure I cancel all contracts such as mobile phones well in advance by recommandee.  Other concerns include getting a certificate from a French Insurance company saying I have had no accidents otherwise how do get a no claims bonus for car insurance in the UK? Ditto no claims on house insurance.  A friend told me he could not even get permission for a removal van until he had gained this final tax certificate although tthat was some years ago.  Its the potential income tax liabuility which is calculated in arrears that may be the stumbling block to remit funds from a house sale. Having just made my annual pilgrimage to the Impot, ( won a rebate this year!) I havent the energy to start asking about this today.  All my energy has been sapped by CPAM  who wanted documents after my husband turned 60 having been on my Carte. We duly sent everything and they lost the lot. Queried the delay as we were waiting for the E111 carte to go on holiday.  Sent to another office, woman there said , no must start again. Out of the blue, all original papers returned with a request for a Belgian Government E121.  Now, as they had a UK121 already registered 2 years ago, had UK birth certificate, UK passport details, old Carte Sejour showing British nationality, we wondered why they thought my husband had suddenly turned into a Belgian.  These are the sort of little problems that people coming to live in France will encounter regularly and I hope they take note and maybe consider learning French before they arrive as no-one at CPAM will bend over backwards to help an immigrant. If I can sort out the problem of having a Belgian husband suddenly I will toddle off to the Impot and ask about leaving certiuficates and spread the word.
  12. With so many people selling up and returning to the UK, will there be a new forum dedicated to helping them?  We have put our house on the market ( in a small way) and will do a major marketing in the early Spring.  Meanwhile, what preparations should we make? I keep hearing about this final tax certificate which you need to be able to move your money back to Britain. Having sold your house, the first thing you want to do is to remit funds to the UK and get some decent interest as well as being able to buy quickly if the right house comes up.  Recently sold a small property and had to show the bank the sales documents from the Notaire before they would send the money back and that was only a small amount.  To hand back Carte Vitale, advise EDF/GDF, house insurance etc isnt hard, but sorting out potential tax liabilities when everything is done in arrears may be problematic.   And before the wrath of the ex-pat community descends, let me state we love France, have loved our many years, didnt run out of money or get homesick and can speak good French.  Didnt have HP sauce and Birds Custard in our culture anyway so didnt miss them or going to a pub or English TV. We know the weather here is better, the medical services better, the climate better etc. Know that Britain is going slowly downhill .. BUT the family are there .  They are at various ends of the age scale, need a little help from us as the only surviving sensible, middle aged relatives they have and its difficult at a distance. My ancient mother has just paid £150 to a casual workman to paint her 2m by 2m kitchen ceiling! She handed over the cash for 2 hours work and half a pint of emulsion. Had we been nearby..... And it goes on, with new babies you havent yet kissed, old friends' funerals, big birthday parties you dont get invited to because you are 'abroad'. Everyone has his reasons for coming and for going back too. If others have sold up and have any helpful tips please post.Thanks
  13. Yes - it was the number lock which I must have accidentally pressed and stayed down even after the computer was turned off.  So obvious when it is pointed out.  Many, many thanks to everyone who responded.  I have learned a good lesson and hope it will help someone else in the future.Both I and the computer have now returned to sanity.
  14. Its not just in Outlook expresss but in all programmes where I am typing.  The Norton report says everything is clean. The email came from French Property News office so I guess it was OK, but when I hit reply, the funny typing started. Its a laptop and I dont know what catcussed means. What exactly should I do to run a virus check?
  15. What did I do? was replying to an email in Outlook express when the text went mad, typing a mixture of numbers and letters. Shut it all down to let it have a rest, tried again, same result. Even when going in to old documents, it will only type in a mix of letters and numbers. I know there are kindly people on this forum who patiently reply to people like me.  I am using my husband's computer to write this as you would not be able to read it otherwise.can anyone help? lassie
  16. Fontainebleau.  35 mins to Paris.  Beautiful forests, chic shopping, pretty villages around, good markets, large expat community if needed (INSEAD), international school. We have lived in 3 different parts of France and like this best.
  17. I have done private sales and would have no hesitation in doing a private buy.  Its really not rocket science.  Look up www.pap.fr or buy a copy of Particulier a Particulier.  the website is in English too and explains absolutely all you need to know about procedures. Your Notaire will tell you all the constats you need and there are dozens of agencies offering the service. Your Mairie will supply a plan cadastre to reassure buyers you are legally in a registered house and your copies of taxe d'habitation and foncieres will show what you own and how much is paid out.  What else does a buyer want, except to use his eyes and common sense and spend out on a survey if nervous? If they are too feeble to contact EDF and Telecom, you can do it for them, but surely its better to direct your sale at the French market as there are many more buyers? Why target Brits? An ad in PaP will cost 75 euros as opposed to anything between 4% and 7% to use an agent who will only do what you can perfectly well do yourself.  Go for it.
  18. Hi Mart Dont want to pour too much cold water on your idea, but... As someone has pointed out, there are lots of pools in France.  Therefore, every little town has a DIY store stocking everything you need for your pool and most owners are quite happy managing their own pools. There are plenty of wholesalers of chemicals and machinery spares dotted around who sell to individuals and also to the local plumber.  Plumbers in France also mend pool equipment so the role of a specialist engineer is only perhaps available with one of the big national installers.  The chance of an Englishman getting a job with them is slim and the chance of an Englishmen who hasnt totally fluent and colloquial French is nil. There will be summer casual work helping out with holiday home changeovers which involves rapid problem solving and tedious cleaning chores.  That is likely to be on the 'noir'.   Possibly you already know of UK pool companies with representation in France  e.g. Crystal Pools, though I imagine all installation is done by French  personnel.  The best advice for anyone coming to France is to learn French thoroughly just to manage to live without stress.  After years here its still much harder than you first imagine .  However, Bon Courage.
  19. I am amazed that this topic has run to 9 pages.  Has it hit a nerve? When we decided to leave the UK, we met quite a lot of , ..well, derision really. It was taken as being a betrayal of British life.  Now , if you mention going back to the UK, you get that reaction from fellow expats. Seriously how many British people are installed in  Maisons de Retraite in France? No-one is likely to still be here in their 90s are they? Heaven knows there are a lot of unrealistic postings on this site from the dreamers who think its all going to be cheap wine, sunshine and an easy life, without those who realise life here has run its course, and its time for a change, not owning up. You read it here first - we will be going back in a few years' time.  There - outed!
  20. Watched it in irritation , partly because of the girly, lightweight presenter who destroyed her credibility as a serious financial reporter by asking 'Bet you dont miss Tesco?' and kept pronouncing France with a short a.  But more seriously, I felt it was grossly misleading especially about the tax implications. Two days later I was still irritated so took it out by emailing the Money Programme. I have just had a stupid reply so am still irritated. Let them come and find out for themselves that there is no Broadband in much of the country and mobile coverage is patchy; that a house in the Lot, plus that little pad you stay in in London, will be added together and bring you into the wealth tax bracket in France. However I am indebted to them for letting me know that Toulouse is rural!  
  21. There  hasnt yet been a posting from anyone who has actually left for all the wise reasons that have been mentioned. Did they go back on the same rung of the property ladder they left?  Did they meet with 'I told you so' comments I wonder? Out of interest I mooted the idea of going back to the UK with some people this weekend, a mix of holiday home owners and residents and they were all horrified.  It was exactly the same reaction we met when we said we were leaving the UK! It goads people because they think you must think your idea is somehow a criticism of their lifestyle. We never expected to stay here until we went into the maison de retraite so will await a recession in the UK for house prices to tumble and be grateful that we had the chance to live in a wonderful country with the scope to learn so much. For the fit, comfortably off , early retirees, its a great way to spend a few fun years, but I wouldnt advise anyone with young children to think of making their life here. Heigh ho, back to sanding the bathroom floor.
  22. Since Christmas, two  sets of close friends have said they are selling up and leaving France. They have been here less than three years. Both couples speak good French, are living on good pensions and own charming houses.  What is driving them away? Reasons quoted are utter boredom in the winter, frustration with lack of customer service, poor workmanship etc., missing family and above all missing a social life with intelligent, educated friends.  I can see that poor health, a family crisis or a failed business venture could prompt a move, but wonder what else motivates people to give up the life here?  One or two others have also mentioned that what once seemed impossible e.g. go back, is something they might consider.  What is going on?
  23. Dear Brett I'm not clear what it is you expect to gain from moving here.  Is it something lacking absolutely in UK, or a perception of an idealised lifestyle? The answers to your query have been very sensible and you should take it all on board.  The best option has already been mentioned - have a gap year.  Even with good French, I still struggle to sort out some of the daily problems.  The language isnt enough - you need to understand the culture and that takes a long time. But a year of trying to get electricity at the puissance that suits, getting Darty to change an appliance you bought in error, chasing up the disappearing plumber, explaining a dental problem - all this will test your ability to live here in a relaxed way.  If you can rent out your house you wont lose out as so many of us have because of the disparity in house prices.  I estimate we have lost 50% of our property  wealth by leaving the UK after just 6 years.  Staying longer is a risk and will mean a big downturn in living standards on our return.   For the sake of your future family, you will want to seek out the best quality of life wherever that may be.  There are many places in Britain where a peaceful rural life can be combined with a professional job in a nearby town, but you should take that test drive in France to help with the choice.  We are pleased we came to live here - its enriched our lives in many ways, but we came with good health and reasonable pensions.  I would never recomend my son , also a lawyer, should leave the UK and start a family here.  Sorry!  So rent something for a year and get it out of your system. Good Luck
  24. Many thanks to all who came up with ideas. The memory stick has worked best.  Its been a useful exercise in getting rid of rubbish too.  There is so much talent in this Forum and I have been getting help here for 7 years now and hope I have maybe posted some helpful answers to others.  In the early days the Forum was much, much smaller and with so few Brits in our area then, it was an invaluable source.  Recent arrivals have much to be grateful for! Thanks
  25. Is this progress? My old computer does not write to DVD, only floppies.  My new computer doesnt use floppies, only CDRom. I want to copy all my Favourites and all my email contacts, without tediously copying them all out and re-entering them.  I can move email addresses into a Word document and email to my myself on the old computer and collec it on the new, but how do I put it into Outlook Express in the address list?  How can I copy Favourites and move them across to appear on the Orange acceuil page?  Can anyone help? Otherwise I am about to get repetitive strain injury typing everything in. 
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