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  1. Since there isn't a section devoted to writers I thought I'd put this here as readers often write too (I have known some so-called writers who don't read but lets not go into that!).

    The International Club of Bordeaux has just launched its first short story competition which is open to all adults with an address in France (permanent or temporary) and all students under 18 at collége or lycée in the Gironde.  There's a small entry fee for adults, it's free for the juniors.

    The closing date is December 15 and our judge is Amanda Hodgkinson, a best-selling author living in the Gers.  If you haven't come across her books before, given them a go, they're beautifully written and very readable indeed.

    Full details http://www.icbordeaux.fr/icb-short-story-competition/

  2. I wanted to let everyone know that the International Club of Bordeaux (a French association - ie non-profit making) has just started up and seems to have hit the ground running!  It's open to men and women of all nationalities - activities for children too, and there'll be boys and girls' nights out, a book club, ladies' lunches, walking groups, wine tastings, visits to places of interest...  It's also going to have Bordeaux's only English language writing group (according to Google whom as we know is always right!).  Take a look at the website or the Facebook page for more details.

    You don't have to join the club first to try out an activity or two.

  3. I was idly wondering this morning how it is that some of the contribrutors to discussions about education in France on this forum and others imagine that France is able to have a population that can largely largely read, write and think for itself if the education is quite that bad here when I came across two articles on the net.

    One is from the Daily Mail citing the World Economic Forum's report that says that the UK ranks 43rd in the world for the teaching of Maths and Science (Boznia & Herzogovenia is 41st and France 15th) and another UN orgaanisation has calculated that one fifth of Britons are functionally illiterate.  I've never claimed the French education system is brilliant, it has loads of faults as well as good points, but my children have come out the other end articulate, literate, funny, employable - it certainly doesn't seem from the WEF report that they'd necessarily have done any better in the UK.

    The second was a blog article entitled 'Should I let my son go to university?' and the author was worrying about how his 16 year old son will be able to cope with the £51,000 of debt that is estimated will accrue for a university education for kids of his age.  A contributor said the loan which is supposed to pay for living expenses doesn't even cover half the cost of his child's rent.  Let's not argue about whether every student's debt will be as high as that or whether they can duck out of paying it etc, even the idea of debt like that is a huge millstone around your neck - here my children had the option of going to university for free.  And they got bourses.  Yes, fac here isn't as stimulating and there's a huge drop out rate but students don't end up with a debt that they can't hope to repay unless they get a job as a stockbroker or something.  And I am really, really grateful that my youngest is about to receive her diploma as an engineer (Bac + 5, so equivalent to a Master's degree) and she's is going to walk off that podium not owing a single euro to anyone.

  4. [quote user="Simon-come-lately"]

    Oh and by the way - the problem is not that 'they are French and you are not' - the problem is that you have made no effort to resolve things yourself. Running to teacher (the Maire) just won't cut it! Deal with the situation - no good biting your tongues! Maybe, just maybe, integrating and making friends might have given you a whole different and more positive experience. Give me strength !

    Simon :-)


    Oh what rubbish!  One of the purposes of the Mairie is to ajudicate in disputes  - we've gone our various mairies over the years several times and it works.  No amount of integration is going to help you with a b***** minded so and so who keeps on uprooting your postbox because he doesn't want it near his house, (there was nowhere else for the box to go as the post won't deliver down our track).  A letter from the Mairie saying he was breaking the law stopped that dispute before it got to shouting and/or threats.  Likewise with the man (not even of the commune) who stated he was allowed to cut wood next to our house at any time of the day because he was running a business and invited us to talk to the Mairie about it if we didn't believe him.  So we did and he wasn't.  He now cuts his wood during normal working hours which is fine.

    However Mogs, if the Mairie told you to complain to the police about your neighbour I'd have done just that.  There's no point in trying to be nice or integrate with people like that - they're bullies (or bonkers) and people like that take niceness to be weakness and behave even worse.  I learnt that lesson from our first neighbour, a redoubtable lady who had to stand on a box to see over her wall.  There was a problem with chasseurs locally and we, new to France, tried to be polite and asked them nicely not to shoot over our garden, result no change.  The first time they shot over Madame B's garden she got on her box, and let fly hurling abuse and threats.  Prompt retreat of chasseurs.  The next time it happened with us we started to shout too, they left and didn't come back.

    A lettre reccomandé can be effective too especially with the sort of nuisance the OP was having -  the French often don't take you seriously unless it's in writing, so a letter saying that you have neither the responsibility or authority to do something and so the addressee is asked to stop requesting you or your guests to do it or telling Madame X that you are sorry that you cannot let her graze her horses on your land shows that you're being serious.

    Incidentally we've been here a long time and have always got on with our neighbours just as we would in an English village - some of them are great, some of them are indifferent to us (and vice versa) and there's the occasional prat.

  5. [quote user="Frecossais"]One of the funniest books I have read is "French Revolutions" by Tim Moore (I think I've got the name right.)



    Have you read Spanish Steps by Tim Moore?  It about him doing the pilgrimage to St James de Compostella and is both very funny and rather makes you feel like doing part of it yourself.  Not that I will of course.

  6. One of my daughter's friends passed her Bac S by 1 mark (she got 2 in maths due to a hopeless teacherbwho was sacked) - she'd done latin as an extra so the extra points were really important.  One daughter did Art as an extra subject, not a mental strain just sheer enjoyment and got a very useful extra few points.  It's also worth noting that entry to prepas is selective and they do look at your dossier, how hard working you are, whether you do anything extra etc.
  7. I have a South African friend who is married to a Frenchman, when she's alone with the children they speak Africaans, when he's with the children they speak Franch and when the family is together they speak English (her other "first" language).  The children are completely tri-lingual.

    My children came here when they were primaire age and the youngest learnt to read in french at school, then started reading in English because I read to her in English.  Same with writing, first in French, then in English.  And of course she did go to English lessons and learnt grammar there.

    There are studies that show that those speaking two or more languages regularly have a lower rate of Alzheimers and a higher IQ, don't know about the Alzheimers yet but in my (admittedly limited) experience English children seem to rise to the top level of the class disproportionately often given that there really aren't that many of them.

  8. [quote user="woolybanana"][quote user="Joanna"]

    The final thing is should there be such an emphasis on everyone getting a qualification?  Is it not possible to accept that some kids are simply not suited to classroom situations - for whatever reason - and should be helped to find work where they can either support themselves, if that's what they want to or have to do, or to start at the bottom and be given a chance to work upwards.


    This might be said for many countries. Let them work getting a trade half-time and continue some form of basic education in the rest, from 14 onwards for a couple of years, and then onto the job market. By the way, which country are we talking about here.


    Both.  My OH is convinced that one reason behind the drive to put more than 50% of the young into further education is to keep them out of the employment statistics and sometimes I have a nasty feeling that he might be right.  Whichever I can't help but feel it's pointless putting someone like my middle child into three years of post bac education simply so that she can get an entry level job in tourism which she was already capable of doing straight after her bac, likewise what's the point of one of the major British wine wharehouse chains demanding degree qualifications from youths who are basically shifting cases of wine about and will be learning about the wines on the job?  20 years ago it took anyone who was over 18, bright, motivated and looked like he/she would fit in.

    I feel very strongly about this because I'm sure that the emphasis on qualifications is going to lead to an underclass of those aren't going to be able to better themselves because they don't have the necessary piece of paper.  There are always going to be some students who can't continue with their education becaause of family circs or lack of money - it's all very well offering loans or giving bourses but if you're needed to earn money right now to support your family further education can easily become an unaffordable luxury.

  9. One of the reasons for the high level of NEETs will undoubtedly be social expectations.  Finish school as quickly as possible and go and get a job, any job. Libourne is a pretty little but it's still very rural arround there and most local employment will  be on the vineyards.  We lived for a while in a small town on the edge of Les Landes where employment was either working in the forest, at the local sicerie (wood again), at the carrot factory or the pig producers.  And lots of seasonal jobs like picking asparagus and carrots. There was virtuaally no what you might call white collar work.  When a new prof principal took over at the college the pass mark at the brevet was 25% - he dragged it up to 50% amongst loud protests - he was driving the children too hard, it wasn't necessary etc etc.  One girl, a friend of my daughter's, was actually forbidden by the conseil de classe from taking a BEP which would lead to being an assistante in a maison de retraite because her average was so high and they said she must go to lycée and do her bac.  Her parents weren't pleased but accepted it.

    My eldest child worked as a remplacement in a rural collége in the Haute Garonne last year and said it was the same there - at least half her class of troisiemes were marking time until they could leave and work in farming had no interest in getting any sort of qualifications. 

    And in comparing NEETs is like being compared with like?  I have no idea, just wondering what 5 GCSE's (which I gather doesn't account to much anyway) are equivalent to. 

    The final thing is should there be such an emphasis on everyone getting a qualification?  Is it not possible to accept that some kids are simply not suited to classroom situations - for whatever reason - and should be helped to find work where they can either support themselves, if that's what they want to or have to do, or to start at the bottom and be given a chance to work upwards.

  10. Joanna

    AGA Stove

    Where are you planning to move to?  Given the summer temperatures in many parts of France you might well find you'd be having to let the Aga out for four months a year or more because of the heat.  If you want a warm cosy kitchen a wood burning stove might be more practical.

    However I know that Aga are available in France but I expect they are even more expensive than they are in the UK.


  11. We rented with a dog and there was no problem, in fact I think it is expected that if you rent in the country you will have a dog(s) and cats too.  The problem that we did have is thaat most rental properties seemed to be near the road so not cat safe and a lot of them weren't fenced in so not dog safe either.  Of course you can pay for your own fencing which is expensive but  the landlord is unlikely to object to you improving his property!
  12. 900€ a month could be a bit limite, limite for a two bedroom house/flat with a garden near the centre of Bordeaux in my opinion.  My daughter pays 450€ for her studio flat in a complex of about 100 apartments Merignac - admittedly there is a shared pool and an exercise room (sort of, the equipment hasn't worked for six months) and a security guard but that doesn't seem to have added much to the rent as 400-450 € seemed to be the going rate for about 22 sq metres in reasonable condition.

    Another thing - rules about how much rent you can pay are very strict here so do bear that in mind.  You can't pay a rent that exceeds more than 1/3 of your income after deductions, the insurance won't have it, I know someone who had his application to rent an appartment costing 2500€ a month turned down because his monthly income made him 43 € a month short of the requirement.  He offered to pay a yeear's shortfall in advance but that wasn't allowed.

  13. A rather belated two pennies worth on the original subject here...  Please, please don't complain either to the mairie or the gendarmes about the dogs before you've spoken to the owners of the dogs about it.  It's a guarenteed way to put backs up and make enemies.  Just think about how you'd feel if someone made an official complaint before contacting you.  Then if they shrug and say it's not a problem as far as they're concerned you can say 'I'll have to take this further...'
  14. Joanna


    Marion I'm so sorry to read about your dog, I had an epileptic dog and know how how hard it is.

    There are various pieces of advice I can give you,

    1.  Realise right now that most vets don't know much about treating epilepsy - it's not that common, and  there are several different causes and treatments, but I found that our vets (French) were always very willing to consider information I'd discovered via the net and when they realised it was sound would act on it, even if it was something they really didn't consider worthwhile.

    2. Look up www.canine-epilepsy.com (I'm pretty sure that's the right address), it is an absolutely invaluable resource and there is also an internet forum.  If I had known about them when my dog first became ill I'm convinced she'd have lived to a ripe old age with only the occasional fit instead if dying aged 6 due to a vet's error.

    3. Get your dog's Thyroid tested even if he shows no signs of thyroid deficiency whatsoever.  Thyroid deficiency is only responsible for a small proportion of canine epilepsy but over 80% of dogs with thyroid deficiency will go on to develop epilepsy.  It is cured by a daily thyroid supplement.  You need to get it done soon because pheno can mask results.

    4.  Staart giving your boy Milk Thistle to guard against liver damage.  It's brilliant stuff, the beest and cheapest I've found is via www.healthspan.com who post from Jersey. 

    5.  Keep some ice cream or frozen bones in the freezer.  Sounds crazy but it's the overheating as a resullt of a fit that can cause brain damage so you need to cool them down as quickly as possible as soon as they regain consciousness.


  15. Whatever sort of dog you get make sure that it's one you want because, whether or not the dog belongs to nominally to your son, it will end up as effectively being your dog.  My daughter had a Dalmatian puppy as her eight birthday present (bribery for agreeing to come and live in France), though whenever she was there she played with it etc etc, it was me who fed the dog, walked it and in dog mentality children aren't pack leaders no matter what fun they are, but adults are, and the dog drifted into being mine.  Unfortunately said dog died young and all our daughter wanted for her 18th birthday was another Dalmatian.  She was older, better at establishing herself as boss and now though the dog lives with us, we feed him, walk him etc and he has a very happy life with us the moment our daughter walks though the door we're forgotten.


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