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Ian

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  1. My wife and I regularly canoe with one car ...

    Park at "the top". Cruise down river and  Kate set's up base camp (tent or B&B), while I hitchhike back to the car - never had a problem, never had to wait for more than 15 mins (and a buoyancy aid or such like tells people you're a paddler)

    Though your hire company idea would be worth a try in the more popular venues/seasons.

    Have a good one!

  2. We are all making choices everyday - for me the key part of your choice is ACTION.  Others may have stayed and grumbled or even never have made the move and grumbled some more.  You are taking action based on your circumstances.

    I have been asked many times "Is your French move permanent?" ... who can possibly say yes?!?  Who knows what opportunities lie around the corner?  Who can tell who they will become as they grow and learn?

    Good for you and best of luck

  3. No - bon voyage!

    (Ooops just misread the date on this .... hope it was a good trip!)
  4. Just read the local freebie paper/magazine "Coulour Lauragais" and they have an article this month on the Montagnes Noires - including a bit on its high rainfall.

    Right in the heart of the mountain range the annual rainfall is approx 1,500mm - this is about twice Manchester (UK) levels and a little less than three times Essex/Cambridgeshire levels. So it is wet ... thats why they build the big reservoirs here!

    We experienced about 700mm per year on the Western fringes of the Montagnes - and this seemed to fall on fewer days than the frequently incessant drizzle of back home (UK). This we found to be just fine.

  5. I've just read "Who's Your City?" by Richard Florida and I'd recommend it if you are pondering where to live.

    The book outlines how where we live affects many aspects of our life: the people we meet (and marry!), the networks we tap into, the work opportunities we have, the fun available to us.  So far so obvious I hear you say ... but Florida's approach makes our choices smarter.

    The first half of the book explains why "where" is so important (how populations are clustering and becoming more defined) and the second half explores how you can best choose an area right for you: your personality, goals, stage of life etc

    The latest edition is international so covers great swathes of the western world: USA, Canada, Europe and also some Asian countries in outline profile - so this book wont help you pick one farmhouse in the Dordogne from another 5 minutes up the road but it should help you pinpoint which region or sort of town/city/village would suit you best.

  6. We used to live at 380 metres altitude on the slopes of the Montagnes Noires.  The locals reaction of "cold, wet, foggy" are relative terms.

    It will be colder, wetter and foggier than on the Lauragais plane.  In the summer you will (probably) be glad of the cooler temperatures.  It depends what you are after ... all year round scorching heat-waves? Then it's not for you (try Dubai!)

    We are Brits so for us we found it hot and dry enough.  Best wishes

  7. Far from "selling the dream" I figured I was helping the OP who searches for a warm French winter retreat.

    Arguably European France doesn't really posses one - maybe head for Guadalupe or Martinique.

    But to the best of my knowledge the cote d'azur and Corsica come closest to ticking that box (along with coastal Roussillon which had already been suggested)

  8. Googling is a good tip ... but if you google using google.fr (or google.co.uk for Brit renters) you'll get a different top ten than if you google with google.pt, google.de or google.it etc etc. If you want multilingual renters (as Lenny suugested) you will also need to know your keywords in various languages.

    This of course is all feasible and as I said IS a good idea ... it's a wee bit more work than it may first appear.  Many of the big advertising sites have invested seriously on multilingual and multi-google SEO. As a measure of a site's traffic you can use alexa rankings or google Page Rank.  Lenny wanted suggestions of sites so I offered mine - I'm sorry if you struggle with them nimpq.

  9. I was replying to th OP who is looking for part of France with mild winters. Sorry for the confusion.

    As for recommending an estate agent in France ... I have limited (but recent) experience having bought and/or sold 6 times in the last 5 years here .... no I can't think of an estate agent I would recommend. Sorry. Again.

  10. Hi Lenny, welcome to the forum,  from speaking to (quite) a considerable number of Gite owners the 2 most highly recommended for French Gites are:

    http://www.abritel.fr/ and http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/

    I could go on to list another 10 or so "good 'uns" - but each of which would be someone else's "don't bother". The 2 above are good solid options.

    There are literally hundreds to chose from. Including several dozen that are free to advertise on: these typically will only get you the odd booking but are FREE and may allow you to have a (valuable) link to your own website (thereby aiding in Search Engine Optimization).

    As with all advertising:

    Take out the smallest (cheapest) ad you can with each ad-provider and track results. If the ad works take out the next biggest ad ... track results and so on. When a bigger/flashier ad no longer seems justified scale back to the one you had before.

    best of luck!

  11. I wanted a reply to this question and have therefore resurected this thread.  From reading the variety of replies I have (kind of) deduced that one can:

    Walk wherever one wishes within the law provided that one doesn't damage any property (crops, gates etc), enter dwellings/buildings and leaves the property if instructed to do so by the owner.

    After the passing of nearly 4 years - has anyone anything further to add...? Thanks

  12. You are right Cat it's a daft way to run an industry. Real Estate Sales in France seems ripe for reform to me. That said, that is how the system is ("We'll give you free publicity, as will a dozen other "professionals" but if you sell it yourself you'll save tens of thousands of euros and be able to cut your buyer a good deal": bonkers surely?)- but who am I to fight the system. When in Rome ...

  13. We are hunting for our next place right now - and really enjoying the process.

    We particularly like spotting something on the web (seloger et al) or in an immo's window and then trying to work out where it is and find it ourselves. It's quite an adventure!

    We have drawn up a "logical" wish list: must haves and nice to haves etc, but that gut feeling of falling in love with a place will always win out for me.

    Bonne Annee

  14. A panel slipped between an external wall and your radiator also works well

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